Tuesday, July 10, 2007

my modest opinion

This is not related to raising my wee one under the fluorescence, but hey, it's my blog and no one actually reads it, so here are my thoughts on modesty maven Wendy Shalit.
What Shalit is highlighting is the undeniable fact that many women sleep with men or dress provocatively out of insecurity or weakness, doing so because it’s what the guy wants rather than having anything to do with what the woman wants. This process sucks- it's dehumanizing and can be profoundly exploitative. But it’s the weakness and insecurity that’s the problem, and really causes the pain and damage, not the sleeping around or the low-cut dresses. Plenty of women have multiple partners or a high number because it's what they want; it is part of their healthy and secure lives. When a woman choose out of weakness, however, whatever the choice, the outcome isn’t likely to make her happy- whether this choice is to dress in a tight skirt and give a guy sex because she feels it’s the only way a guy will pay attention to her or not pushing for sex in a relationship when she wants it, not sleeping with other people, or agreeing to marriage when she’s not ready because it's what her boyfriend wants and she’s afraid what others might think of her. Both of these ideological spectrum of choices are about pleasing men, not herself- and that’s the patriarchy. We need to raise our girls to be strong so that they can say no without regret to boys’ (fairly incessant) demands for sex if it’s not what they want AND say yes to sex (even, horrors! with multiple people!) if it IS what they want- and we need to raise them to be self-aware enough to know what it is they actually desire.
This is not easy, its much more fun to talk about long skirts v. minis, like Shalit and her ilk do. I'm embarrassed to admit it's one of the reasons I was relieved when I found out I was having a boy. I'm not sure I know how to teach a girl to be this strong-minded and self-aware by her teens -- I had a really hard time with all of this myself. But it’s clearly the answer- and the whole modesty v. everything else debate is just two straw men fighting. Making women strong enough so that they can make their choices regarding sexuality based upon their own desires, rather than those of their partners or peer groups, is essential to creating a world where women are happier and not men's pawns.

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