I note that a debate has been sparked over the appropriateness of women's leggings in certain settings.
In her lengthy rant, “The Leggings Problem,” White rues the day they “obtruded painfully on my landscape” during a Mass service last fall. She details being overcome with shame over what she viewed as the flaunted female form.
“In front of us was a group of young women, all wearing very snug-fitting leggings and all wearing short-waisted tops,” White whined. “Some of them truly looked as though the leggings had been painted on them … Leggings are so naked, so form fitting, so exposing. Could you think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead?”
It took less than 24 hours before Irish 4 Reproductive Health, a campus nonprofit group, organized a clap back to the mad mama’s manifesto. The group declared March 26 “Leggings Pride Day,” and encouraged people of all genders to post pics of themselves wearing their skin-tight garments on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
“While well-intentioned, White’s viewpoint perpetuates a narrative central to rape culture in implying that womxn [sic] and girls are responsible for the actions and reactions of others,” organizers posted on Facebook. “She argues that ‘girls’ at Notre Dame ought to change the way they dress to avoid attention from ‘unsavory guys who are looking at [people who wear leggings] creepily’ and in order to protect ‘nice guys who are doing everything to avoid looking’ at people wearing leggings.”
“We wanted … to remind people that leggings are absolutely OK, and you’re allowed to dress your body in whatever way you see fit,” Anne Jarrett, who helped organize the protest, told TODAY Style.
There's more at the link.
I have a message for those feminists (and others) who protest the "narrative central to rape culture ... that womxn [sic] and girls are responsible for the actions and reactions of others". You're theoretically correct, but in the real world, the one we live in, you couldn't possibly be more off beam.
You see, ladies, I've worked as a prison chaplain, both part-time and full-time. I've worked with literally hundreds of rapists and violent men, over more than two decades, in at least eight prisons. I've listened to their conversations, both with me and with their fellow convicts. I know how they think - and they think of you as so much meat on the hoof. They don't give a damn about your individuality, your femininity, your right to self-expression, or your right to "dress your body in any way you see fit". They see your clothes as advertising the kind of person you are - and they'll have no hesitation whatsoever in taking advantage of that. Are you showing nipples beneath a skimpy top, or displaying "camel toe"? As far as they're concerned, you've just made yourself a target.
In prison, one routinely hears comments like these from convicted rapists:
- "The bitch was askin' for it! You could see her **** right through her clothes!"
- "Damn, she was jigglin' an' wobblin' as she ran. She weren't wearin' anythin' under her top. Sure knew what she wanted, right away!"
- "She's a damn ho. Ho's need to be shown who's boss."
- "You let bitches flaunt what they got to everyone, pretty soon you got nothin' for yourself."
- "It's a man's world. It ain't theirs."
You think I'm exaggerating? I'm not. Those comments are paraphrases of what I heard, day in, day out, over literally years. There were others, a lot less printable, that I haven't bothered to paraphrase. Suffice it to say that, whether women like it or not, and no matter how wrong or politically incorrect it may be, there is a class of sexual predator that will judge them on the basis of what they're wearing - and will act or react accordingly.
It's also important to note the context about which the writer of the letter complained: namely, a university campus. It's a relatively high-risk area for rape compared to a typical suburban street. The US Bureau of Justice Statistics' 1991 report "Female Victims of Violent Crime" (link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format) analyzed the statistics of rape and came to various conclusions. Among them were:
- Women age 16 to 24 were 3 times more likely to be raped than other women. This age pattern was similar for black and white women.
- Women who lived in places like dormitories, halfway houses, and boarding houses and those in apartment houses with four or more units were more likely to be raped than were other women.
Studies have also shown that "drinking, drug use, and frequenting public places late at night increase the chances of victimization, because these “high-risk” activities tend to create opportunities for criminals". Where is one most likely to find such activities? On and near university and college campuses, that's where. Young female students, intent on having a good time, living in a "wear-what-you-want, do-as-you-please" feminist campus culture, often make easy targets, because so many of them are oblivious to reality. That's made worse by their choice of clothing, among other factors.
Ladies, you're free to insist on your rights and privileges all you want. I'll fully support your right to do so. However, there are men out there - more than a few of them - who regard revealing women's clothing as an open invitation to make use of what its wearers are advertising. They don't give a damn about your individuality or your femininity or your freedom of choice. As far as they're concerned, you're a "ho" or a "bitch", and you exist to satisfy their needs. That's all.
Please think of that next time you're tempted to dress in such a way, and consider whether your choices may not be putting you at greater risk of harm. Please think doubly hard about your children, and the choices you allow - and encourage - them to make, and the education you provide them about the pitfalls of life. If all they're ever taught is "My body, my choice", some of them are in for a very rude and painful awakening indeed. That may not be "fair" or "right" or "just", but it sure as hell is reality.