I had a conversation with Rob in the car a few days ago about Emma's clothes.
Sometimes I get so incredibly irritated at how women's bodies are just assumed to be sexual objects.
In general I have always supported dressing modestly in situations that call for it, and saving anything more figure-showing for parties or intimate situations. I've often wanted to have talks with my female students about how it would be better to wear less revealing clothing in class, when the focus is supposed to be on learning.
But today, during this conversation, I realized just how similar our society is to those that force women to wear burkas. Why does a woman have to cover her body up? Simply because men in our society can't view a woman's body without assuming it's only a sexual object. Men can run around with just a pair of shorts on, but god forbid a woman should show any cleavage.
Why should the female students in class have to police their clothing? If it was an entirely female class, would it matter what they wore?
Rob was not happy with a shirt Emma wore to her guitar lesson. It's a strappy top, probably intended to be worn without a bra (not that Emma did that: she's a 32C at 13, and feels more comfortable wearing a bra). If Emma's guitar teacher were female, would Rob have worried about it?
And I'm not meaning to bash Rob here --he's a wonderful man and he does not view every woman as a sexual object. But he sees that our society will be viewing his daughter that way, and so quite understandably he's working to protect her. But that protection is just a way of saying "boys will be boys", isn't it? I know there are plenty of men out there who don't view women as only sexual objects, but we all just go on accepting that society does, and we'll just have to conform. And the onus is always on the females.
Lately I've come across some social media memes that address this --a woman in what Emma calls "booty shorts", with a sentence or two that states that her clothing choices shouldn't be restricted just because men can't control themselves. I've also come across the research that illustrated that men see women as objects rather than subjects when they're shown in bikinis. And in the end, I just find myself conflicted. And still shopping for clothes for Emma that will somehow meet the required standards of modesty. And is that really all that different from insisting that women wear burkas?