Jill at Feministe revisited the issue of raunch and kids, once again making sense on this troublesome issue.
She quotes from this Washington Post article by Patricia Dalton, and responds perfectly:
Dalton: I often recommend that fathers be the parent to take the lead in setting limits on their daughters’ dress, because opposite sex offspring typically cut that parent more slack. Fathers can say, “Honey, you can’t wear that. I know teenage boys — I was one!” A dad like this is looking out for his daughter and treating her as someone special.
Jill: No, he isn’t. He’s putting her in an even more vulnerable position — if something does happen with one of those teenage boys, she’ll internalize it as her fault for dressing in a particular way. When she goes out of the house and sees other girls dressing in more revealing clothes, she’ll become part of the group that looks at them and says, “You’re a slut.” Adolescence is hard enough on young women; when they’re already desperately trying to fit in and find their own identities, the worst thing one can do is encourage greater rifts between “good girls” and “bad girls,” and create even deeper insecurities in all of them.
This relates closely to a recent article by Ampersand, quoting a study by Amnesty International in Britain, which basically says that close to 1/3 of respondents think that women can make themselves responsible for rape by how they dress and behave.
Ampersand also links to Volsunga on the same topic: “A society that sees rape as the product of men’s unrestrained and unrestrainable sexuality combined with women’s provocation, or as that of evil men preying on pure women, will never realise the link between sexism, the position of women socially, and rape.”
We agree wholeheartedly.
When did masculinity, as a cultural construct, cease to include qualities like dignity, restraint, and respect? In the 19th century, and most of the 20th for that matter, the concept of manhood included a host of admirable qualities, many of which seem to be slipping away in favor of a simplistic and disrespectful generalization–basically that all men think with their dicks all the time.
We all know men who live well and righteously in the world. We all know men who model reason, good behavior, and compassion for their children. Why are they disappearing from the discourse? To hell with “men behaving badly”; where are the images and models that encourage men (and the boys they raise) to behave well?
What’s more, as the image of men is cheapened, the culture ignores the fact that women have power and make choices. It doesn’t have to be about what a woman wears, or how she presents herself; it can be about what she wants, and her confidence in what she wants and her ability to make it happen. It can be about her making her own decisions, drawing her own lines, and choosing her consequences.
In the long run, it’s not about raunch culture, any more than it was about syrupy romanticism 80 years ago or conventional marriage 50 years ago. It’s about respect, intelligence, compassion, and the ability to make good decisions, regardless of gender, hormones, or the forces of the moment.