Jan. 6th, 2013

eternalsojourn: Legs (Legs)
I was on facebook first thing in the morning and stumbled across a post by my sister linking to a story about Muhammed Ali and his daughters.

Muhammed Ali Slut Shaming Advice

This is my sister posting this, thinking about how to discuss the issue with my nieces. While sometimes I might let this kind of thing go as it gets exhausting constantly calling everything into question on Facebook, I really felt a responsibility to say something for the sake of my nieces, and for my sister's sake. Because I know she grew up with the same ideals I did, and has internalized the same sexual and body shame I have. So here was my response:

No, I'm compelled to say something, because this is the sort of thing that sounds like wisdom but hides something darker underneath. And it's the attitude we all grew up with, and I think it needs challenging.

Women aren't diamonds or pearls or gold. We're people with minds and the power of choice. We are not our bodies; there's so much more to us than that. "Your body is sacred. You're far more precious..." So wait. I'm my body? That's all I am? A gem or an object to be literally uncovered if some prince of a man comes along and decides to treat me like a Tiffany bracelet instead of costume jewellery? How about someone who treats me like a human with a voice and a brain? A peer not a prize?

I have an idea for an alternative way of viewing "revealing" clothes". How about we teach our girls that clothes are THEIR choice? Whatever image they wish to project to the world, that's their choice. It can be strategy, it can be honed, it can be fun. Whatever else came out of The Hunger Games, I'm glad that Suzanne Collins chose to make fashion a political strategy, because it so often is. It's a tool people (see how I include women in the "people" category?) can use to set the tone for how people deal with them. It is not the sum total of who they are, nor should it be mistaken for that.

Underneath all of this well-meaning story of Muhammed Ali's advice is the notion that women are valued for their bodies and are the gatekeepers of sexual desire. An extension of that is the belief that men are mindless animals who evaluate women based on their clothes, and determine a woman's sexual availability and overall value by what they wear instead of just ASKING them about it. I don't know about you, but that whole notion is scary to me.

Let's teach our kids (boys and girls and all the shades of gendery grey around that false binary) some better messages. Maybe their generation can grow up without teaching women sexual shame in every aspect of what they do.


So that's it. I just wanted to capture this somewhere where it won't just disappear under a bunch of other mundane crap as it will on Facebook. If you have any input, I'd welcome an open discussion here.

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