You’ve seen the memes. “In a world full of Kardashians, be a (insert socially acceptable, “respectable” woman here.)”
Then there’s Beyonce. Michelle Obama has said that Bey is a fantastic role model for young girls, prompting the likes of Mike Huckabee to go apeshit. Both Beyonce and Kim Kardashian are considered “trashy” because they dress provocatively and/or are overtly sexual. I remember getting into a debate on Facebook with a friend who posted a meme saying we shouldn’t teach young girls to emulate Beyonce, that some professor (who’s name I cannot remember for the life of me) was a much better role model. All because Beyonce “used her body and her sex to get famous.”
Why is being “too sexy” considered low class? Why are women who aren’t afraid to show their bodies considered to have low self esteem? When I asked this to my friend, saying that women shouldn’t be shamed for being sexual, the basic response was that too much sex IS just bad.
The Eternal School Dress Code Debate
This subject came to mind today as I saw yet another story of a young girl sent home from school for a dress code violation. As always, she posted pictures of the offending outfit – in this case leggings and a normal-length shirt with a long cardigan. The ONLY part of her body that could be considered “not properly covered” was her crotch. And truthfully, the leggings didn’t look tight enough to be any different than normal pants. But according to the girl, a school official told her, “It doesn’t cover your crotch. You’ll distract the boys.”
Reading the comments on the article was just like reading the comments on every article about a girl sent home for dress code violations. Some people insist high school kids need to learn to “dress appropriately” for their future jobs. Some decry the rebelliousness of kids who can’t follow the rules.
And there’s always a debate about the actual outfit and whether or not it “should” be considered inappropriate. In this case, one poster insisted the girl (pictured at left) is dressed “one step away from a streetwalker.” Another (sadly, female) said that you would no doubt be able to see the girls labia if the pants rode up at all, which she labeled “disgusting.” (Its sad to me that any woman would consider labia to be disgusting. Do men consider testicles disgusting? Not saying you have to be sexually attracted to body parts of the same sex, but outright revulsion seems to be exclusive to female parts.)
Which is sort of the same feeling my friend had about Beyonce. Her overt sexuality is “vulgar.” Gross. Certainly not nice and respectable. But to answer my question about WHY being sexy = being trashy (but only for women – when was the last time you saw an overtly sexual image of a man labeled low class or disgusting? I’m guessing never) we have to look at what it is that’s really driving the revulsion.
Is She Really “Asking For It?”
One of the most vile things you’ll hear some people say about women who are dressed provocatively is that she’s “asking for it.” Meaning sex, consensual or otherwise. But guess what? A study by Duke University actually found the opposite. Turns out, a rapist on the prowl is looking for an easy target – one who will react submissively and quietly so that he has less chance of getting caught. He’s looking for a quiet, non-assertive type of woman whom he can dominate.
So he’s actually less likely to attack a provocatively dressed woman. Why? Because he reads a provocatively dressed woman as MORE assertive and self confident. He’s actually more likely to attack a woman in loose-fitting or baggy clothing because she is seen as more passive and submissive.
And this, boys and girls, is the crux of the matter.
It’s All About Power
I recently took a class on magic called INFLUENCE. (If you’re at all interested in magic or things witchy, you’d love this course. Find out more here.) One of the lessons I learned was that all magic is sex magic. Our sexuality has power – it may very well be the greatest power we can wield.
Beyonce agrees with this. In an interview with Out magazine, she said:
There is unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality. There is a double standard when it comes to sexuality that still persists. Men are free and women are not. That is crazy. The old lessons of submissiveness and fragility made us victims. Women are so much more than that. You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist, and a feminist—whatever you want to be—and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.
So why do you think in a Patriarchal society, women’s sexuality is so taboo? Hmmmm? It doesn’t have anything to do with class, or being trashy. That’s just what we’ve been conditioned to believe by a system that made sex itself into a shameful sin. If raw sexuality by itself were trashy, then sexual men like John Kennedy or Bill Clinton would be considered trashy and low class.
If we were equally offended by male sexuality, it wouldn’t always be girls sent home for dress code violations.
But the truth is, feminine sexuality is reviled because it is feared. When a woman owns her sexuality, is completely comfortable with it to the point that she expresses it to the world, a society built on male dominance just can’t handle it. That’s why it’s so important that we teach women to be “good girls” and that exposing our bodies is “low class.” Why society tries so hard to get us to buy into our own subjugation. It’s why we shame women who enjoy sex, and why we’re so concerned with the “appropriateness” of what women wear.
So think about that the next time you are about to insult a woman for being “too sexual.” Because what you’re really saying is that you’re afraid of the power she’s displaying. Is that what you want to say about yourself?