At least once a year some poor oppressed young woman, usually a college student, runs to the media feeling humiliated and distressed because someone has pointed out to her that what she has chosen to wear to school is inappropriate attire. This also invites a media journalist, usually a female, to cry, “Thirty years on and women are still being told we’re asking for it.” In this case, it is Stuff’s Virginia Fallon. She continues, “You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who hasn’t been humiliated for something she wore. Clothes-shaming is the practice of criticising someone for daring to don an outfit deemed too revealing by the person doing the condemning.” And she concludes, “It’s time to shame the shamers. Name them, call them out, and let them know the sanctimony they drape themselves in is outdated, cruel, and downright dangerous.” So I have taken up the invitation.
Now being a husband of fifty-two years, I have been body-shamed by my beloved endlessly, and it has only got worse over the last few years. Rarely do I leave the house dressed in my original garb. To go to the supermarket in my gardening clothes is not permitted. To wear jandals as formal attire generates outrage. Colour matching, stripes vs checks, short pants versus long pants, T shirts versus button shirts, it just goes on and on! I’ve been called a slob, an embarrassment and worst of all, a humiliation. But never have I been accused of “asking for it”. I only wish I knew how to dress so.
My beloved and I have raised four daughters so it goes without saying, there were many occasions when the “You can’t wear that” exchange took place. Of course they were not ”asking for it” but knowing young men as I do, having been one many years ago, invitations can easily be misinterpreted. Our concern was to protect them not to inhibit their freedom.
When was the last time you saw a prostitute dressed as a suburban housewife? They dress accordingly because they are “asking for it”, at a price of course. And that is why I don’t dress as the Pope to express my virtues.
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