A high school friend of mine, someone who I have sadly lost all but Facebook contact with since graduation, posted something subtly offensive. It was so subtly offensive, that I even agreed with the whole of it until the end, brainwashed as I am by socially accepted linguists.
My issue with this post and those who support it developed slowly and then quickly snowballed into an avalanche. This is a prime example of where our linguists fail women; when we excuse crude behavior and “thirsty men” by censoring women, we are telling women that they are less than and need to hide a part of themselves that they wish to express. Furthermore, we are saying it’s okay to sexually exploit others if they behave a certain way.
Even if showing your booty is not the way you would personally choose to express yourself, that does not mean someone who does is without respect and does not deserve respect.
It is not okay to sexually exploit anyone. Period.
I heard on the news a few weeks ago about serial sexual assault in one of the Chicago’s neighborhoods. A police man from that area stated on the radio that he advised women to not leave their houses after dark or to travel in groups. No matter how prudent that advice might seem, it really pissed me off. When an official states that women need to modify their behavior because of someone else’s unwanted behavior they are saying that it is a woman’s responsibility not to be assaulted, not to be raped, rather than the assaulter’s responsibility not to assault and rape in the first place.
AND, if we want to get really technical, that statement is justification for harassment of women who disregard advice and travel outside alone after dark.
Second of all, showing pictures of your booty, your tattoos, your dance moves–no matter how Miley Cyrus–and you and your bestie acting goofy does not mean that you don’t respect yourself. Perhaps it’s fair to say it shows immaturity, but not a lack of self-respect. I don’t have booty pictures or revealing pictures of my body on Facebook because I continually have to remind myself to love my body; I don’t always love my butt, my thighs, the bags under my eyes, my height or my figure. If anything, I show a lack of self-respect because I’m not proud enough of my body to express an open love
I’m sure my high school friend was simply standing up for modesty, but the way he approached the conversation is another detrimental notch to what is wrong with the way we treat the victims of sexual harassment.
And because I’m sure I didn’t hit this topic home for everyone, I’m including this excellent TEDtalk about how linguistic, even though is sounds stuffy, is the root of the issue concerning gender and sexuality.