Shame

I came across this philosophy the other day and it just really bothered me.  “Sending a girl home to change clothes because her bra straps were showing or her shorts were too short is telling her that having a less distracted environment for the boys was more important than her education.”  The more I thought about it, the madder I got.  When I was growing up in the 60’s, and long hair on the boys and miniskirts were just starting to trend, girls had to kneel and a teacher or principal had to measure the distance from the floor to the bottom of the skirt.  It could be no more than 3″ from the floor.  They didn’t have a similar requirement for the boys since long hair wasn’t distracting but short skirts were. Compared to the skirt length that was common in the late 60’s, this was 3″ was not very daring.  Girls were not allowed to wear jeans or pants to school.  Remember that this was about the time when Hugh Hefner was pushing the Playboy philosophy.  His first magazine came out in 1953, but the 60’s brought about a change that said sex was not the same as promiscuity.  It was ok to have multiple partners, and women’s bodies were beautiful.  The Victorian ideal female was covered neck to toe and camouflaged, to show as much SHAPE but no details.  At this period of time, it was almost an English version of the Burka.  As Puritans with this view of women colonized the new world, their basic view was the same toward women.  Women were helpmates and baby factories.  The only person that should see them naked was the husband.

300 years later  (1660-1960) the view hadn’t changed much.  Men’s magazines were promoting lust and covering this philosophy by extolling the thought that women’s bodies were beautiful, and they had the choice of whether to have sex with more than one person rather than relegating sex to marriage only.  What hormone riddled man in his right mind would dispute that?!  Women were encouraged to shed their Victorian concepts of modesty and purity.  We did.  The music we listened to, the clothes we wore, the material in the magazines and news on t.v. said it was ok to have these feelings and that it was perfectly natural.  Shame was considered out-dated and silly.  No one should ever be ashamed of their body.  By that time, we had been exposed to Barbie Dolls and Playboy for a generation.  We knew what a beautiful woman looked like–they were chosen monthly. The dolls also reflected that ideal.  They were no longer baby dolls, they were action figures.  This is where the perspective shifted.  “If you are not ashamed of your body, show EVERYONE.”  However if you don’t look like Miss July or Barbie, please, don’t do it!

Now this is when things went sideways.  Remember how I mentioned girls that were sent home because they didn’t pass the 3″ rule on dresses?  Instead of saying, “Hm.  Maybe I should dress more conservatively,” we got mad and complained that we no longer had freedom of choice.  The parents,  who were as liberated as we were, (and indoctrinated by Dr. Spock that their primary role was to get to be best friends with their teen-aged children) went to the courts and the Government and Justice System got involved in our schools.  They determined that students have basic rights, they determined how punishment should be delivered, they determined subject matter, competencies of students and teachers, political and scientific correctness, administration, and every other aspect of schools.  This was the biggest mistake our country ever made, and 40 years later, we’re seeing the cost of this mistake.

In Nebraska in the 1860’s, the women were pioneers–tough, persistent, hard-working women.  When they got dressed up for church, they’d wear a hat.  Nobody used makeup.  Now, women spend many dollars on make-up and instead of lightening the skin to make it look like you didn’t have to ever leave the castle, they have tanning beds and spray on bronzer to make it look like you don’t have to go to work.  The purpose, of course, is to enhance the appearance that suggests wealth and a leisurely life style.  Instead of physical labor that keeps you healthy through effort, we have diets and trainers and running trails, and we go to yoga classes, jazzercize, and spinning classes.  The fact is that all women are meant to feel shame for the way they look.  Beautiful women are chastised for modesty because they’re accused of being ashamed of how they look.  “If you do not show us the maximum amount of your body, you are ashamed of your body.”  If you are not considered beautiful by today’s standards (because today’s standards are so temporary and may change tomorrow) then you SHOULD be ashamed of your body.  We can’t win.

Women are judged by men and other women according to an artificially set ideal.  And what is the purpose of this ideal?  Is it to live longer healthier lives?  Is it to feel better and enhance endurance and strength?  Nooooooooo, it is so we can “fall in love and get Mr. Right, or Mr. Pretty Close, or Mr. Available for the next hour.”  What age should we start looking for this man?  I’m seeing this programming started before the child can dress herself.  Given the ultimate goal for every female, OUR WHOLE PURPOSE IN LIFE IS TO DISTRACT MALES FROM WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND ATTRACT THEM TO US SO WE CAN HAVE THAT LIFE THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE WORK.  This means that education is not important, and we’re Supposed to distract the males in school. Wait, what? We want to have the leisure to lie in the sun, do all the popular exercise activity and become gourmet cooks and Martha Stewart decorators.  Does any of that take an education?  No.  Do females who don’t fit the profile have a chance at that lifestyle?  No?  Then education is only important to those unfortunates so they can get the career that gets them in front of more men, who, if they are not currently in a relationship or married, are desperate to find women and will settle for something less than the ideal.

This is where the anti-programming comes into play.  Yes, anti-programming!  We, as parents and society, need to indoctrinate our young women to be people of substance, people who can add value to others.  We need to show them the beauty of self fulfillment. We need to show them how to build character, how to become people of influence.  Does THAT take an education?  Absolutely!  It changes the perspective of our purpose in life!  If we no longer have to spend all our energy and resources attracting and keeping men and change our priorities to improving our character and our value to society, it doesn’t matter if we fit the ideal of the perfectly formed woman.  We don’t have to advertise our availability as a potential mate by showing our bodies in the most provocative way.  That DOESN’T mean we are ashamed of our bodies, it just means that how we look is not as important as what kind of people we are.  How do we as a society influence young females to this perspective?  As parents, we don’t encourage provocative dress in 6 year old girls.  We control what our daughters wear up until they start earning their own money, and then we control what we allow our daughters to wear to school.  We remind them that boys and boyfriends are not the ultimate goal of education.  As school administrators and teachers, we send home the girls that dress in a way that says they are not in school to learn.  (Remember I’m focusing on females in this article…the same concepts apply to males as well.)

The most important point I want to make, then, is that  “Sending a girl home to change clothes because her bra straps were showing or her shorts were too short is telling her that having a less distracted environment for the boys was more important than her education,” is completely backwards.  Sending a girl home to change clothes because her bra straps were showing or her shorts were too short is telling her that her education is more important than whether she attracts boys. Suggestive or provocative clothing is not conducive to HER education because attracting boys is not the purpose of going to school.

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3 thoughts on “Shame

  1. I guess the correction we need to make is motivation. Why are you wearing shorts? Because it’s what other girls are wearing? Because it’s what you could afford? Because it makes you feel sexy? Because it’s 110 degrees out?

    My unit in Hawaii had a civilian dress code. No sleeveless shirts (male or female), no flip flops, and no short shorts. The last one wasn’t a problem for the guys, but as a 20 yr old, petite female I simply couldn’t find shorts for my size that weren’t too short. That was the trend so that’s all anyone was selling. And it was Hawaii, so wearing pants was awful, especially when the air conditioning didn’t work.

      1. Well, it was the same thing in High school. We couldn’t wear spaghetti strap shirts. Which wasn’t a problem for me because I was always cold indoors. It was awful during Marching Band at the beginning. But, really, no big deal. Granted, the rule only seemed to apply to females. I can’t remember for the life of me if there were any rules for the guys. The only thing coming to mind was a frowning upon of trench coats (but that was for a different reason). Oh, and they banned headphones. Not CD players, just headphones. Even if you were in between classes.

        And do you remember trying to buy me white shorts for Marching Band parades? What a nightmare. Couldn’t find anything white that fit except some spandex ones, which got me laughed at.

        When I walk around Target, I am frankly baffled by what we expect little kids to wear. I totally want to spend $20 on leggings that they’ll wear through in a week. What ever happened to jeans? And why must all the girl clothes be so freaking frilly? Even the t-shirts are bedazzled. And they have work out clothes. For eight year olds. I don’t get it at all.

        Sorry, in rant mode.

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