Shorter Dawn Eden: Bitch was asking for it.

Professional pearl-clutcher and self-hating slut-shamer Dawn Eden covers the story of a woman being asked to leave a Southwest airplane because one of the flight attendants deemed her outfit to be “inappropriate.” She was wearing a mini-skirt, a fitted tank-top and a sweater. Eden refers to the woman as an “epidermis exhibitionist” (so clever with the alliteration, Dawn!) and nick-names her “That Big-Chested, Long-Legged Hooters Hottie Who Almost Got Kicked Off a Plane.” Because of course, her place of employment is really crucial to the story. I’m sure if she worked as, say, a doctor or a supermarket cashier or a cable repair person, everyone from CNN to Dawn would have emphasized it. Right?

The woman is quoted as saying that she felt humiliated after being pulled aside and lectured about her slutty attire. Who wouldn’t be? But according to Dawn, she should be grateful that some dude on an airplane berated her because he was offended by her physical appearance:

That embarrassment is a gift, TBCLLHHWAGKOP. Instead of suing the airline, you should be paying it out of gratitude for showing you the truth of what you are doing every day — treating yourself as a walking commodity, and others as consumers.


As opposed to Dawn, who is totally not a walking commodity. She only wrote a book about the fact that she’s on the look-out for a husband, and even if her shit isn’t vacuum-sealed-fresh anymore, she’s refusing to give away the milk for free until someone buys the cow, if you will. Because, you know, the previous strategy failed in the husband-finding business. That’s self-respect, people.

Look, all I know is that if I don’t want to invite muggers, I don’t walk around flashing the contents of my wallet. I cover it up. Everybody knows I have one — it’s not something I have to advertise. Likewise, if I don’t want people to treat me like an object, I cover up.

Interesting. Mugging is a crime. What crime could one be protecting themselves from by covering up? What in the world could Dawn be referring to?

I’ve never heard a mugger defend himself by saying, “But the dude was flashing the contents of his wallet!” In fact, I have seen many, many men pull out their wallets to pay for something, and the contents become visible. I have seen many, many women walking around carrying handbags that cost more than my life is worth. I suppose they’re inviting mugging?

As a woman, I realize that I could be covered head-to-toe in a burkha and a man could still leer at me. I can’t prevent that. Some less-than-a-gentleman stared at me just the other day on the Metro when I was wearing an ensemble that would have made Phyllis Schlafly look like a trollop. But I can make an effort to show I am conscious that my body belongs to me — and no one else. That is true feminine power — not putting one’s body on display and then getting all humiliated and embarrassed when accused of crass commercialism.

In other words, when I get leered at, it’s the dude’s fault. If you get leered at, you’re a dirty slut.

Dawn realizes that women can’t win the dress-up game, but she’s more interested in humiliating other women in order to make herself look like a saint. It’s like watching a really fascinating, fucked-up psychological experiment in real time: To what lengths will Dawn Eden go to prove that she’s not like those other sluts?

And if “true feminine power” is the ability to put on a floor-length denim dress, you can have it. Your body is “on display” whether you like it or not — you walk around in it all day, and it’s pretty much just there. Your body doesn’t suddenly because less yours because your legs are visible. Are your hands suddenly commodities if you aren’t wearing gloves?

Dawn’s right that there is a pervasive view of the female body as public property. Anti-choice politicians and voters think they have the right to legislate women’s reproductive choices, as if everyone else has ownership over our uteruses. Women who survive rape are berated for “asking for it” by dressing in a certain way and going out in public. Because, after all, if your body is yours then there’s no question that other people don’t have a right to touch it, control it, or abuse it. Dawn intentionally feeds into the perception of women’s bodies as public property by arguing that women who dress in a particular way should be free of harassment, while women who dress in ways she doesn’t like should be publicly humiliated.

It’s also obvious that it wasn’t about the woman’s outfit. It was about her body. If I wore that outfit on a plane, I doubt anyone would say anything (especially if I was in my usual no-make-up, hair-pulled-back plane attire). Why? Because I’m short, slightly round, I have short legs, and small breasts. No one would ever look at me and go, Wow, boobies! I don’t put a whole lot of thought into purposely dressing modestly (although I hate my legs so I keep them covered up and I wear long sleeves because I get cold a lot, so who knows — maybe I’m a Modesty Warrior without even knowing it). I don’t put thought into it because I don’t have to. Yes, I live in a female body and so I get gawked at and commented on while I’m walking down the street, but that happens when I’m in sweatpants. That’s an issue of control of public space, not modesty-policing. I don’t get modesty-policed because I don’t have the kind of body that people think screams “sex.” I wear low-cut shirts when I go out pretty often. I have a series of really comfortable cotton dresses and halter tops that are cut all the way down between my boobs. I’ve worn them on planes. I’ve worn them walking around. Hell, I wore one to the Feministing party for Jessica’s book. No one has even given me a second look. It has never been a problem.

I guarantee if a bigger-chested woman wore that dress, it would be a problem.

This woman was targeted because she has big breasts, she’s young, she’s attractive, and she’s not hiding it. I suspect if she were middle-aged or otherwise more invisible, this wouldn’t have been an issue. If she had been flat-chested and plain-looking, it would have been less of an issue. The only way I can see that it would have been more of an issue would have been if she were fat and large-chested. Comments over at Dawn’s (and even at Feministing once the trolls show up) wade into “I don’t want to see that!” territory. Right now they’re more eye-roll-inducing than anything else. I can guarantee that if she were fat, they’d be a whole lot more sympathetic — who wants to see that?

So let’s not pretend that this is a modesty issue. I’ve never heard of a guy wearing one of those tank-tops with the huge armpit holes — where you can see nipple half the time — being berated for his lack of modesty. Imagine someone walking up to this dude and telling him that he’s advertising himself as a commodity, and that he’s basically asking to be raped. You’d sound like a crazy person.

Now I’m sure Dawn will argue that she isn’t a rape apologist — she’s just trying to help women by telling them that they’re stupid whores who should be embarrassed. She’s happy to tell them that they’re dressing like hookers (and everyone knows hookers deserve to be raped). So I wonder what Dawn is trying to advertise with how she dresses? How, exactly, does one put together an outfit that properly sends the message that you’re a self-righteous narcissistic prick?

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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27 Responses to Shorter Dawn Eden: Bitch was asking for it.

  1. mythago says:

    Shorter Dawn Eden: That attractive ho might catch the eye of a man who would otherwise marry me! How dare she!

  2. Mnemosyne says:

    “Look, all I know is that if I don’t want to invite muggers, I don’t walk around flashing the contents of my wallet. I cover it up. Everybody knows I have one — it’s not something I have to advertise.”

    Um, Dawn is aware that most people who get mugged weren’t “flashing the contents of [their] wallet,” right? She does know that most people who get mugged are just walking down the street minding their own business when some asshole comes up and demands that s/he hand over the wallet, yes? Because otherwise she looks like the world’s biggest fucking idiot for even trying to use that metaphor.

    Either that, or she’s trying to say, “Ladies, it doesn’t matter if you dress like a slut or not, because assholes are still going to try and assault you, so dress however the hell you want” and really messing up the sarcasm.

  3. Good point about bodies vs. clothes. Even when I was in high school, I thought it was vaguely amusing how I’d be able to wear any shirt I wanted,no matter how low-cut, to class and never got sent to the office for it. (Shorts were a different story.) But a girl with bigger breasts was constrained a lot more.

  4. baby221 says:

    Dawn Eden is among the women I’d classify as sexist. I know that the general radical definition pretty much precludes women from being sexist, but I don’t know any other term that quite encompasses “actively perpetuating patriarchy by keeping women down” quite so well.

  5. Tony says:

    The funny thing is, she wasn’t even wearing anything that revealing.

  6. johanna says:

    I keep trying to comment, but Dawn has left me without words this time. Or too many that are inappropriate to civilized conversation. Whatever. All I know is that I want to break out the miniskirt and take a flight somewhere.

  7. johanna says:

    also, memo to Dawn Eden, “Hooters Girl” has a name: Kyla Ebbert. (Notice that she doesn’t use Kyla’s name in her post.) “Hooters Girl” is also not a girl he is a GROWN WOMAN and a college student.

    GAH!

  8. randomliberal says:

    What the hell is “TBCLLHHWAGKOP”?

  9. Sycorax says:

    “Epidermis exhibitionist”? What else does an exhibitionist exhibit? Are there people out there flashing their livers?

  10. Bitter Scribe says:

    Something I don’t get about this whole incident: Who exactly was Southwest protecting from this young lady?

    If she had sat next to me, I would have counted it the best thing that happened to me on an airplane since I found a $50 bill in the seat one time.

  11. Hector B. says:

    The Daily Show (or Colbert) ran a clip of an old Southwest commercial showing flight attendants wearing uniforms that left their butt cheeks visible. Why the recent flush of modesty, I wonder.

  12. Manju says:

    o’reilly covered this last night. he sided with the women and raged at Southwest.

    at least you know what cathrine Mckiinon felt like when Jerry falwell supported her legislation.

  13. Kyra says:

    Instead of suing the airline, you should be paying it out of gratitude for showing you the truth of what you are doing every day — treating yourself as a walking commodity, and others as consumers.

    No, SHE is treating herself like a person who feels the effects of a warm climate and has the sense to dress accordingly. DAWN is the one treating her like a commodity, as though a human female has worth only when she wears a certain amount of clothing—apparently the clothing conveys worth on the otherwise-worthless woman.

    Likewise, if I don’t want people to treat me like an object, I cover up.

    See? Woman, herself, is an object unless the presence of clothing conveys “respectibility” or “virtue” which is the only thing about a woman that has value.

    Gods forbid we consider a woman to have worth of her own, which doesn’t depend on culturally-mandated additions—or for that matter, the right to be comfortable in the temperature of her environment rather than having to suffer excess heat for the sake of modesty.

    But I can make an effort to show I am conscious that my body belongs to me — and no one else. That is true feminine power — not putting one’s body on display and then getting all humiliated and embarrassed when accused of crass commercialism.

    Surprise surprise, being treated like an object when you should be treated like a person is humiliating and embarrassing.

    Funny . . . here I was thinking that dressing for comfort in the heat was treating my body as belonging to me and no one else. Covering one’s body to dictate what other people see is reacting to other people, and in a case like this it is putting the status of the “display” above personal comfort.

  14. “Look, all I know is that if I don’t want to invite muggers, I don’t walk around flashing the contents of my wallet. I cover it up. Everybody knows I have one — it’s not something I have to advertise. Likewise, if I don’t want people to treat me like an object, I cover up.”

    Because it’s only Playboy Playmates who are attacked, or judged by men, right? Dawn…or rather Dusk, (something dimming instead of enlightening) willfully ignores the fact that women in general are often considered objects and second-class citizens, not because they are overly exposed, but rather, because they are women—or, not men. 5-year old girls are raped. 85-year old women are raped. Neither of the two are what you would deem as the most exposed, or visually arresting of womankind. They catch hell not because they are overly alluring, but usually because of the warped, over-the-top manifestation of the male-female power relationship.

    And as my wife pointed out simply, “This was a flight, right? Where she’d be seated for about 98% of the ride? Who was gonna be seated in front of her, looking up her skirt? How much would everybody on the plane have seen her? How offensive was she gonna be planted in her seat with at the most, maybe five people seeing her for a length of time? That’s if all five seats in her aisle were filled. And sitting next to her ain’t gonna give you the best view of the goods anyway. Some people just wanna be upset”.

  15. Norah says:

    What the hell is “TBCLLHHWAGKOP”?

    The Big Chested Long Legged Hooters Hottie Who Almost Got Kicked Off [a] Plane.

    I guess it’s easier to type than…Kyla Ebbert?

    *shrug*

  16. jp says:

    She is so insanely incoherent. WTF does this even MEAN?’

    ** Some less-than-a-gentleman stared at me just the other day on the Metro when I was wearing an ensemble that would have made Phyllis Schlafly look like a trollop. But I can make an effort to show I am conscious that my body belongs to me — and no one else.**

    So, woman who wears a short skirt to board a plane is a slut-who-is-asking for it. When Dawn, however, BY HER OWN ADMISSION, dresses like a tart to ride the Metro, she is somehow protected from slutty-slutness by the superior power of her Modesty Mojo. Or something.

    The extent of the self-loathing and projection is just flabbergasting. As annoying as she is, she’s even more pathetic.

  17. roses says:

    Nah, jp, she meant she was covered up from head to toe but she still got leered at. Which proves… exactly the opposite of her point. She’s an insane woman.

  18. ElleBeMe says:

    I’m sorry, but is there a rule that men leer ONLY at women in mini skirts?

    Do I have to state that Michele Duggar has no problem getting her man’s interest and she is draped in calico printed prairie fashions akin to Ma Engles from LHOP? Never underestimate the lure of flannel and plaid….

    Frankly I’ve known men who look at all sorts of women, and it isn’t because of what they are/aren’t wearing……

    I Guess it is a good thing this young woman wasn’t overweight too…..she’d have to change and buy another seat to boot!

  19. ellenbrenna says:

    Embarassment is a powerful social tool. I think stupidity and cruelty should be embarassing. For example I think Dawn should be embarassed by her own inanity and shut the hell up.

  20. ekf says:

    People are idiots about how women dress. The SWAir dumbness has been compounded in all the media coverage, perhaps reaching its apex in Dawn Eden’s comments.

    For example, in this article (http://travel.msn.com/Guides/article.aspx?cp-documentid=423164&GT1=10422), they have this quote:

    Lynda White, who teaches etiquette classes and calls herself “The First Lady of Manners,” said many young people have gotten lax on what to wear and how to act—possibly influenced by Hollywood stars. She recommends “business-casual” outfits for the plane because you might be seated next to a potential employer or business contact.

    Apart from querying whether or not anyone who calls herself something so self-aggrandizing as “The First Lady of Manners” should be trusted on subjects regarding taste, she totally fails to realize that one of the women — this one that Dawn Eden has found particularly suited to torment — works at Hooters. What she wore on the plane would be considered appropriate (and perhaps even too modest) for Kyla Ebbert’s workplace! Wearing what she was wearing could possibly get her promoted in her current job if she were noticed by a business contact. What business is it of Lynda White’s to determine what line of work (and therefore what type of workplace attire) is appropriate for all women? None. Her comments are stupid.

    Of course, White’s comments pale in comparison to those by Dawn Eden, for whom all her comments seem to be shorten-able to “I’m not a slut like those women; why won’t some prince make me his princess?” So sad to see her flail about in her web of insecurity so publicly.

  21. fshk says:

    Not to mention that Dawn is essentially telling all women to hate themselves: Your bodies are shameful, keep them covered up. Though no fault of my own, I have large breasts and learned a long time ago that no amount of covering immunizes me from unwanted male attention. I’m on display in a muumuu as much as I am in a low-cut shirt. Maybe Dawn enjoys being commodified, but I don’t particularly. (I actually do dress pretty conservatively, which I think is irrelevant, except that it still gets me harassed periodically and I even had a stalker for a while last year. It was those oh, so sexy chunky turtleneck sweaters, right? My face was uncovered, guess I was asking for it.)

  22. Hector B. says:

    Though no fault of my own, I have large breasts and learned a long time ago that no amount of covering immunizes me from unwanted male attention.

    In seventh grade I had the impression that “She has big breasts, she must be good at teh secks.” But I grew out of it.

  23. Doug says:

    You know, some men out there are hard-core foot fetishists. If Dawn Eden is out walking barefoot on the beach and some sleazebag runs up to her and immediately starts licking and caressing her toes, then she has no one to blame but herself, leaving those luscious, tempting piggies bare-ass naked in broad daylight for all to see.

  24. Michelle says:

    How, exactly, does one put together an outfit that properly sends the message that you’re a self-righteous narcissistic prick?

    Answer: Check Dawn Eden’s pictures out…

    More seriously, she is simply showing us the duplicity of the neo-religious arguments that she throws around and her own actions.

  25. Jen says:

    I was thinking about this today when I was outside running in an old gray t-shirt and running shorts, sweating, no makeup, bed head, and I still got a cat call. Maybe the problem isn’t what you wear, or your body, but rather the assholes who see a woman and decide that they have the right to say whatever they want to because you happen to cross their line of sight. Ugh.

    I think it is sad that we live in a society that women CAN wear whatever they want, but do so at the risk of unwanted attention.

  26. Kat says:

    She recommends “business-casual” outfits for the plane because you might be seated next to a potential employer or business contact.

    Oh, that is hilarious. That woman has obviously never sat in coach.

  27. ytak says:

    How does Dawn Eden even exist in modern times? Her ideas sound like they come from a bad book from the Middle Ages instructing young ladies on how to behave…

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