Why do we keep selling our girls short?

281From time to time, I operate a photo-booth. I cover weddings, birthdays, school events  – things like that. Recently, I attended a semi-formal event for a relatively prestigious girls’ school. These girls were around 16 years old, and many had bought a male companion as their date.

In conversations with close allies, we sometimes comment on what seems to be the oppressive nature of some people groups towards some women. For example, we note in this hot Brisbane weather, the men of a particular group are free to wear what they like, where their wives and daughters are usually draped from head to toe, covered, as it was, for modesty.

At this particular semi-formal event, I was struck by the gowns and dresses these girls were wearing. What struck me was the almost overwhelming majority of semi formal outfits that to me, a conservative dad, were almost completely inappropriate clothing these girls were wearing. It was almost like it was a race for many of these girls to see who could wear the least amount of clothing. It was evidently clear by the way these girls held themselves, constantly adjusted, wriggled, moved, pushed down, pushed up and pushed their gowns that they were not comfortable in their chosen outfits. Without a word of a lie, a majority of these girls spent their evening making sure their dresses sat as they were meant to. It was painfully noticeable that the minority of girls with elegant, modest (if I dare say) gowns seemed to travel through the night without any major or regular readjustments . Interestingly, it was the boys at this event who were overdressed for a semi-formal. Yes, these gangly, pimply 16 year old boys were all in suits, had cuffs with matching tie-pins, watches and spit-shiny shoes!

I want to stress at this point that this post isn’t about body-shaming, slut-shaming, blaming the victim, being a male pig or anything like that. My libertarian leanings compel me to allow individuals to wear, do, say, act however they choose. This blog isn’t about getting anyone to dress, or not dress in a certain way. What this blog is about, being the dad of a seven year old girl and five year old son, is wondering ‘why do we keep hurting our girls’?

Why, in 2016 Australia, our girls seem to be racing to almost objectify themselves at such a young age. Why 16 year old girls feel the need to compete with each other for who can wear the least, not who can achieve the most with their brains or character. Why sixteen year old girls feel the need to dress in a way that shows gratuitous cleavage, leg and mid-drift.

Have we created an environment where dressing elegantly for an evening event is no longer in vogue? Has our society become that ‘pornified’ that 16 year old girls feel they need to show all their assets to be noticed by others, to remain in the ‘in’ group or to be accepted?

I’ve never been a 16 year old girl. I’ve never known the pressures these precious girls face.

I mentioned in the second paragraph my musings about a certain group of people and my thoughts on what seems to be oppressive attitudes and behaviors to women. It seems to me that almost wherever this group is found, the status of women is greatly diminished. Men of this particular group are permitted to have more than one wife, women have reduced voting rights (if any), baby girls routinely have their genitals mutilated, girls have access to education restricted, and the list goes on. I wanted to compare that to ‘our’ girls (if I can say that) who are entering university at higher rates, have equal voting rights, can choose to marry or divorce, have an equal voice in a court, have legal protections against discrimination. I wanted then to maybe muse that why, in 2016, these precious girls would even have to consider showing that much skin at that young age at an event that otherwise should elevate girls to the highest standard.

Again, I don’t want this to sound like I’m judging girls or women for what they wear. This isn’t about saying girls or women should cover up. What I’m musing is why, in 2016, we have created an environment where girls would choose to dress in a way that is unedifying to themselves. Why in 2016 our girls feel they still need to display more than enough skin to get noticed. Why, in 2016, we are subjecting our girls to what seems to be an absolute pornification of dress. Why, in 2016, have we sold our girls short, creating an environment where their talents, achievements, hopes and dreams are hidden behind a very short dress?

Image from http://houseofretro.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/281.png

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2 comments

  1. The Brain in the Jar

    Welcome to the beautiful nature of sexuality. Why do you think these boys have high ambitions? It’s so they will get a beautiful girl to have sex with them.

    You’re not seeing anything new. What you is the unfriendly competition of sexuality rearing its head it always had. Sexuality is an aggressive competition where the attractive wins and the unattractive can go to jail. You cannot avoid it because sex is a need, and sexual frustration is harmful.

    I’m glad these students are trying to show off and be attractive. It’s better to do it earlier than ever. It’s good to experiment, to attract many boys and practice. If they won’t, no one of the opposite sex will want to have sex with them.

    Yes, the reality of sexuality is that cruel. If you can’t see it, you probably had an easier time.

  2. shelley

    Interestingly you argue about Muslims without mentioning their name, as though it wasn’t obvious. Yet you seem to miss the connection between both groups. The Muslims and the Anglos.
    In Muslim culture women are valued for what they bring to the family and their personality rather than their bodies. To us Anglos, it may look oppressive, but they are covered for modesty and so that their contribution to the world is not of flesh. Do you not see that your contradictory argument is castigating women who cover and also who don’t?

    These girls are so used to being valued for their looks that they are actually smart and savvy to dress sexually. In a culture where the three phases of womanhood are not celebrated – that is – ye old maiden, mother *and* crone, instead the objectification of women as pretty decor as opposed to intellect and personal strength reigns supreme. In our culture, women are taught from a young age that their power is their looks and nothing else really matters. Are you really surprised? Look at the commercialisation of youth. Look at the booming cosmetic industry that offers the promise of maiden looks for the cheap price of your soul. Look at pornography and how it celebrates youth as young as 12 and classifies anyone over 25 as a “milf”.

    Look to society for the answers, not these young girls who wouldn’t have a clue why they feel their worth is only in their sex appeal.

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