No leggings, girls. You’re driving boys wild

Much ado about nothing? The world is once again in a panic because our culture is crumbling and anarchy is just around the corner. And the issue which sparked this horror? Leggings. Yes, you heard me. Parents, pundits, school principals, and I’m guessing perverts are all staring wide-eyed at teenage girls and, get this, teenage boys, who are sprucing up their 2014 wardrobe with the newest fashion trend reportedly having now surpassed denim jeans in popularity to become the “new pant”.

HuffPost Business – Apr 11/2014
Something Strange Is Happening To Teens' Pants by Kim Bhasin
America's teenagers are dropping their jeans and replacing them with elastic-waistband stretch pants, according to a well-regarded report on teenage buying habits.

Leggings (and yoga pants from Lululemon) were ranked the most popular trend among female teens this spring, according to a semi-annual study released this week by financial services firm Piper Jaffray. Nike was the No. 1 brand among teen boys.

Jeans were nowhere to be found on the list, after years of consistently ranking as a top 10 trend.

Teens now prefer "Athleisure" — the horrendous industry term for workout gear that you can wear outside the gym — over the skinny, butt-crack exposing, low-rise jeans that dominated the landscape for a seemingly interminable amount of years.

What does this mean move away from “skinny, butt-crack exposing, low-rise jeans” mean for American teenagers? Scrutiny, of course, and adults have already sprung into action.

Haven Middle School
This Evanston Illinois school published a dress code as of March 26, 2014 which reads in part: If leggings are worn the shirt, sweater, or skirt must be a minimum of fingertip length of a straight arm extend on the leg. (copied on May 10, 2014)

While this doesn’t seem to ban leggings, it does state that leggings must be covered up. They are not a replacement for pants. Let the counterarguments begin.

Evanston Patch – Mar 9/2014
Haven Middle School Bans Leggings & Yoga Pants — Too Distracting For Boys by Christine Wolf
I think I’ve heard most arguments about leggings: They’re too distracting to the boys. Inappropriate. Unbecoming. They create a lustful atmosphere infecting society and are, in some countries, considered illegal.

The author, who is clearly against the ban on leggings, goes on to quote an email sent by a parent to the principal.

We are frankly shocked at this antiquated and warped message that is being sent to the kids. Under no circumstances should girls be told that their clothing is responsible for boy's bad behaviors. This kind of message lands itself squarely on a continuum that blames girls and women for assault by men. It also sends the message to boys that their behaviours are excusable, or understandable given what the girls are wearing. And if the sight of a girl's leg is too much for boys at Haven to handle, then your school has a much bigger problem to deal with.

Kenilworth Junior High School
This school in Petaluma, California took an even more direct approach.

KTVU – Apr 5/2014
Petaluma middle school bans 'too tight' pants for girls
At Kenilworth Junior High in Petaluma, a school administrator pulled all the girls aside Thursday afternoon and told them they couldn't wear pants that were "too tight" because it distracts the boys.

Surprisingly or not surprisingly, people did not take this lying down. Parents protested, especially parents with daughters. Women protested seeing this as a sexist view of the world.

Jezebel – Apr 9/2014
Middle School Bans Tight Pants Because They 'Distract the Boys' by Laura Beck
Middle school boys are "distracted by" (read: will get a boner over) literally anything. Whether a girl is wearing several garbage bags over a sumo wrestler costume or skinny jeans, little dudes are still gonna pop wood. It has NOTHING to do with what the girls are wearing, and everything to do with biology.

Girls are being punished for the most ridiculous of reasons — that a boy might be distracted by her feminine form. Deal with it, people. It's called life.

If you're fearful of boys getting a little nutty around ladies in yoga pants, perhaps you should talk to the student body about how to behave like decent human beings in all situations.

Keith Ablow
Meanwhile, back on the pro-ban side.

Media Matters – May 9/2014
Fox Host Claims Girls "Provoked" Harassment By Wearing Leggings To School by Olivia Marshall
Fox News' "Medical A-Team" member Dr. Keith Ablow claimed that girls can "certainly provoke" harassment by wearing leggings to school.

ABLOW: You cannot come in with leggings. Because my son wants to learn and the truth is it is distracting. And it is kind of inappropriate because when did we decide as a culture that tights would become an overgarment instead of an undergarment. The reason we're doing that is because girls are in a panic to be more and more sexual because we've taken all the restraint away from femininity. We've made girls into boys.
[…]
ABLOW: I don't know that we can restrain boys from being boys. So the long stare, the offhand comment, you have to — what do you do, excuse it? Because it was certainly provoked. And I think girls put themselves in the line of fire that way.

My Opinion
Curiouser and Curiouser. I’ve read several other articles about this leggings issue. I have spoken with different people including mothers of tweens. The entire question seem to break down into several points.

1. Boys are horny (read: sexual predators).
That’s just the way life is. Yes, we would all like to swim with the dolphins but if there are sharks in the tank, you better damn well conduct yourself as though you’re going to get chomped on at any moment. Yes, sweetie, you can go out on a date with Johnny but I am going to teach you how to kick him in the balls and give him a faceful of pepperspray.

2. Leggings are sexy.
Leggings are inherently sexual and… well, see point number one. Make sure you hold the pepperspray nozzle pointed up and away from you.

3. Leggings are not sexy.
This is our interpretation of a piece of clothing. Kids are running around being kids and we the parents with all of our own collective baggage from living in a Christian fundamentalist Conservative puritanical patriarchal cesspool of sex-shaming, slut-shaming, and overall embarrassment of any and all things related to sex are blowing this whole thing way the hell out of proportion by sexualizing that which is not inherently sexual. Next year, the kids will have a new fashion trend and we’ll be getting hysterical over that.

4. We are the cause of the problem.
Do we teach our children about sex? No. Do we teach our children about relationships? No. Do we teach our children to be polite and respectful to other people? Maybe, but I am betting this is a lesson learned more by example than by anybody actually explaining this. In fact, I am betting the majority of us learn most of what we know about interacting with other people through observation plus trial and error. In other words, we are inadvertently passing on to the next generation a lot of things we did not consciously mean to pass on.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying everyone. A lot of people do a good job of parenting; not a perfect job, but a good one. And – this is an important point – once the kids get out into the world, they end up under the influence of their peer group and society in general. It’s a tough job being a parent.

But there is enough going wrong in society that I have to assume somebody somewhere is messing things up.

Laura Beck from the above quoted Jezebel article sums her take on all this with:
Nobody is arguing that middle school girls should get to go to school naked — but when they can't wear half the clothes that are on sale at Old Navy, it just doesn't cut it. These girls don't need to be taught to cover up or risk the unwanted interest of men or ire of authority figures; the whole school needs to learn that a girl's body is her own — and as long as she's not breaking any laws, she can dress it however she damn well pleases.

The idea of women being responsible
How deeply entrenched in our culture is this idea that women are the cause of sexual harassment, assault or even rape?

my blog: How to avoid sexual assault: Don't dress like a whore – Aug 30/2012
Krista Ford, the niece of Rob Ford the current major of Toronto, gets herself into hot water for tweeting advice on how to avoid sexual assault: "Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don’t dress like a whore. #DontBeAVictim #StreetSmart"

my blog: Slutwalk: Support our sluts! – May 9/2011
The Osgoode Hall Law School held a campus safety information session… Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti said, "You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."

The idea of men being sexual predators
How deeply entrenched in our culture is this idea that men are out of control mindless sexual predators?

The Good Men Project – May 28/2013
The Danger in Demonizing Male Sexuality by Alyssa Royse
I live in Seattle, which is, by any standard, a very progressive city. Many of us do a mommy / daughter sex-ed class at Seattle Children’s Hospital as our daughters get close to starting menstruation. In the session of the class that is less about biology and more about navigating sexuality, the presenter offered the idea that girls would have to start learning how to say “no” to boys who were going to want to touch them sexually.

It starts that young. Yes, girls are told that boys are predatory and somehow out of control. The corollary there is that boys are told they are predators, and out of control. Therefore, not a desirable thing, but a thing to defend against. From the get-go, we are teaching our kids to fear male sexuality, and to repress female sexuality.

my blog: Steubenville Rape Case: It could be your daughter. – Jan 13/2013
After a summer evening of partying with over 50 people on August 11, 2012, two Steubenville football players stand accused of raping a 16 year old girl who was too drunk to resist including penetrating her with their fingers. While apparently this is not the first time the football team has been accused of sexual assault, social media has dramatically changed the situation by supplying both photographic and video evidence of possible criminal behaviour. The two boys currently under arrest actually posted nude photos of the girl and a video of them talking (or bragging) about it afterwards. An unknown boy is heard talking about one of the accused by saying, "He raped her harder than that cop raped Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction."

The bigger issue is what's going on in our society. This type of situation has cropped up so many times that anybody who stands back and looks at the big picture has to ask themselves whether or not we fully grasp what's going on in society. You go to a party and see a girl who has made the mistake of drinking too much. What do you do? Try to help her out by sobering her up. See if she has a purse and try to find the telephone number of her parents and call them. Pull off her panties and insert your fingers in her vagina.

Aside: Don't tell me those two boys were born destined to do that. That is a learned behaviour. They were taught that. Or they were not taught to not do it.

Final Word
A young lady holds up a sign which reads, “My university teaches ‘How to avoid getting raped’ instead of ‘Don’t rape’ at freshman orientation.” The above two schools have passed on the message to their female students that they are responsible for the behaviour of boys. Is society the way it is and we must all accept the status quo? Are we in a shark tank? Or should we be trying to change the situation? Should we get rid of the sharks?

As I keep saying: Does a goldfish know it’s living in a fish bowl? Are we aware of our own circumstances? Are we aware of our own puritanism? Are we aware of our own sex-shaming and sexualization of God only knows what? Are we aware of how we see (and condone) boys and men as sexual predators? Are we aware of how we (sexually) subjugate women and hold them responsible for the bad behaviour of men?

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Is society just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it? Or do we try? Do we try to make the world a better place? On the one hand, I’m optimistic. On the other hand, I’m a realist and have to add: Man, do we have a long way to go.

References

Wikipedia: Leggings
Leggings in the form of skin-tight trousers, a tighter version of the capris ending at mid-calf or near ankle length, made its way into fashion in the 1960s

By the early-1990s, leggings were actually outselling jeans in many parts of the United States.

I found the following images trying to make the distinction between bad leggings and good leggings. True? Or is this merely a subjective interpretation based on a particular moral standard?

And if I may, I will add the following about – yes, reflect on this – our "rape culture".

Click HERE to read more from William Belle

 
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