Two nights ago I had a few friends over and one of my friends started talking about how she went over to her cousins house and found her cousin wearing a pair of short shorts. She went up to her cousin and yanked at her shorts asking "WHERE are your pants!?!" She then proceeded to tell me that she reprimanded her cousin for dressing like a slut and ever since her cousin hasn't dressed like a "slut".
First of all I hate the word slut, its just an awful word, but what really irked me about this whole situation was my 11 year old sister was in the room wearing short shorts. Now her shorts were not indecent at all (my sister is a twig and the shorts were very flattering on her), maybe weather inappropriate, but not scandalous in any way shape or form. But, as my friend was going on about her cousin I noticed my sister tugging at her shorts while asking if her shorts were too short. Sadly I was not able to interject at that point to tell her that her shorts were fine, I really wish that I had. I did, however pull her aside later and told her my friend is full of crap and not to listen to a word she said.
About three years ago I went bowling with my friend for her young womens and young mens combined activity. I was having a great time with a lot of my friends and was feeling really cute because I had just bought a new shirt and decided to wear it that day. Now I'm a female of ample breast size, so really anything I wear I have a little cleavage going on. Apparently I had, for one lady, too much showing and she asked my friend to tell me I needed to pull up my shirt because I was "indecent". She didn't even ask me, she asked my friend to tell me. What. The. Hell, right? It made me feel so bad about myself that I never wore the shirt again. How damaging to the self esteem of a 17 year old girl!!!
One of my favorite feminist writers, Jessica Valenti, has a chapter in her book He's a Stud, She's a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, called He's a Hipster, She's a Ho. In this chapter She discusses how a woman is judged based upon how she looks. "Women are never, ever supposed to dress shlumpy or seem unkempt-but on the other hand,we're chastised if we dress too "sexy"." That is my favorite line from that chapter. There is this idea that no matter what we do we can't win when it comes to what we are wearing. If we go out in sweat pants people will most likely cringe at the site of us, but if we go out with a little too much cleavage showing we are told we look indecent and will most likely be called a slut.
Remember how I said I strongly dislike the word slut? Well here is why, the word slut is a way to control women. You call a girl a slut to control what she wears and how she acts. It supports the whole idea that her body is not her own, its everyone else's. This idea is more apparent in religious cultures. She has no right to dress how she wants because if she is too scantily clad a young man might look at her and want to, in my dad's words, "do the wild thing". At this point you are putting the fault on her and not on the young man's actions. So many rapes are blamed on the woman because she was wearing a mini skirt and it makes me crazy! Because, you know wearing a mini skirt is asking for it! By wearing something like that she obviously wanted to have sex, never mind the fact she said NO!
The whole idea of modesty is very damaging. It makes you feel ashamed of your body, like there is something wrong with it. And that is truly a tragedy! At the end of the each chapter in Jessica Valenti's previously mentioned book, she gives advice about how to change theses double standards. She says that as women we have the right to wear what ever we want, be it ripped jeans and a t-shirt or a sexy mini skirt and a cute top. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about what you like to wear and if you hear someone commenting on how another girl is dressed speak up! In the book's title chapter she says that we need to stop calling each other sluts and don't let the men in your lives do it either. Take back control of your body and don't feel ashamed of it, embrace it and love it. I seriously wish I had this book when I was 17, so I could have told the lady where to stick her modesty!!!