Really, how many times can we write op/eds crying, “Little girls are dressing like whores!”? Well apparently the issue isn’t exhausted yet.
Women once complained about being reduced to sex objects. Now, their daughters are volunteering to be sex objects.
Because it’s all voluntary, and it’s that simple.
Have we come a long way, baby? The Lennon Sisters and Gidget of girlhoods gone by are light-years from today’s Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. The bridge between these two generations of stars was Madonna — before she had children and cleaned up her act. Sometime over the past couple of decades, while we adults weren’t looking, class went out and trash came in.
So now young girls are trash if they dress in a particular way. How generous.
And doesn’t this sound familiar? It seems like with nearly every generation, parents are shouting, “The girls are out of control!” It happened when women cut their hair short, when we first started wearing pants, when we started wearing mini-skirts, when teenage girls dressed like Madonna. This alarm is rung pretty much every decade.
Think back a few decades (if you’re old enough) to the arrival of the pill, the first reliable method of birth control. What we’re witnessing now is the fallout from the subsequent sexual revolution. Gone was the fear of unwanted pregnancy. Along came the assumption that sexual problems were the result of hang-ups, and that relaxing the strictures and structure would free everyone to live in a kind of sexual utopia.
Well, the so-called utopia is here, and older women have reason to be alarmed at the dangers young women are bringing upon themselves. These girls are treated as objects just as surely as in any earlier generation. It’s pre-liberation treatment in post-liberation disguise. “Turn back before it’s too late!” we want to warn them — because what awaits them is not Prince Charming. It is more likely to be loneliness and regret.
(emphasis mine). The utopia is here? Could have fooled me. But what kills me about this paragraph is the statement that by dressing a certain way, young women are bringing danger on themselves. Where are the alarmist articles about the young men who are presumably the ones doing the damage to these girls? Where’s the cry to parents to teach their sons to respect women? Despite the fact that raising boys differently would probably eliminate most of the “dangers” this writer references, the burden is still put on young women — and the implication is, “if something bad happens to you, you brought it on yourself.”
I often recommend that fathers be the parent to take the lead in setting limits on their daughters’ dress, because opposite sex offspring typically cut that parent more slack. Fathers can say, “Honey, you can’t wear that. I know teenage boys — I was one!” A dad like this is looking out for his daughter and treating her as someone special.
No, he isn’t. He’s putting her in an even more vulnerable position — if something does happen with one of those teenage boys, she’ll internalize it as her fault for dressing in a particular way. When she goes out of the house and sees other girls dressing in more revealing clothes, she’ll become part of the group that looks at them and says, “You’re a slut.” Adolescence is hard enough on young women; when they’re already desperately trying to fit in and find their own identities, the worst thing one can do is encourage greater rifts between “good girls” and “bad girls,” and create even deeper insecurities in all of them.
And where is the dad who says, “Honey, I was a teenage boy once. I know that they’re capable of being reasonable human beings, and of treating women well. Don’t accept anything less than that” — and who tells his sons the same thing? Sexual equality and women’s physical safety simply cannot come from women alone. Shaming young girls about the way they dress isn’t the way to achieve anything.