Thursday, May 19, 2011

We have to save our bellies for our husbands? עלינו לשמור את בטנינו לבעלינו

I’m going to open this piece with the caveat that it’s going to contain a non-PC descriptive phrase, namely “dressing like a slut”. Or alternatively, as this articulate Amazon reviewer put it, "the slut uniform". So if you’re squeamish about what that phrase invokes in your imagination, read no further.*

I justify using this phrase by way of reminding readers that language and words serve us as code; non-PC though it be, “dressing like a slut / tart / hooker” describes an adequately consensual phenomenon, thereby eliminating the need for illustrations complete with arrows and labels and bulleted lists, i.e., when we hear “dresses like a slut”, we each know what we mean.

Now enter Secret Keeper Girl, which I came across in my cyber travels, a concept for Christian girls and their moms that advocates dressing modestly. So far, in light of our over-sexualized, under-parented young population, I’m down with that. The site even features a Truth or Bare Fashion Test designed to help girls dress in the latest styles, yet modestly. The first tip talks about showing too much belly. It explains, “Bellies are intoxicating, and we need to save that for our husbands!”

Well...not exactly. Here’s where my philosophy diverges from theirs: I presume that we don’t want to show too much belly so we don’t look like sluts, i.e., so we’ll be taken seriously, and not just related to as sex objects. This is usually the point where a young woman presuming to be a third-wave feminist chirps, “But I choose to dress this way [revealingly]. It’s my choice to flaunt my body.”

At this juncture, I’d ask said young woman: Are you willing to own that choice? Are you informed about the risks entailed in sex? Do you carry contraceptives with you and know how to use them? Do you know self-defense? Are you as aware of Aunt Ovum as you are of Aunt Flow?

Because “we have to save [our bellies] for our husbands” falls apart if the girl should ultimately reject Christianity, or the part thereof that prohibits physical intimacy outside marriage; whereas the second-wave feminist outlook — “We don’t want to come off like sluts” — will serve her no matter what she ultimately rejects or adopts.

So while I confess I am quite taken with the idea of fashionable-yet-modest, it’s a shame that it’s narrowly associated with religious views. Anyone want to step up to the plate and start a secular version of Secret Keeper Girls? Let’s call it the “Tell it Like it is Girls”!

* I considered “bimbo” instead of “slut”, but decided that no, they’re two different phenomena, thus not synonymous.


  1. As a hat freak (in a hot climate), i'm always aware that i could be taken for a religious woman...a fine line there.

  2. It's unfortunate that we always seem to frame good sense within the confines of ultra-conservative religious beliefs. Wearing a form-fitting T or tank under a midriff-baring top and low-slung shorts is not such a bad idea.

    Let's go back a few years. In a brief period of time (let's say a year), 4-6 university women were found murdered after a weekend of partying, or walking alone in dangerous neighborhoods, or leaving a group of friends to go off with a stranger. I don't know how these women were dressed; I suspect that alcohol was a player in most, if not all, of the incidents.

    Of course the cry heard everywhere is that women should be able to go anywhere they choose and be safe, and that their personal behavior should not and could not be a factor in their fates.

    Fast Forward to last week, when a police officer speaking to a group of young women somewhere in the U.S. (maybe CA), told them (I paraphrase), "If you don't dress like sluts, your chances of being harassed or assaulted will be greatly reduced."

    Again, even though we all KNOW his statement has some merit, he was vilified in the media and by everyone I talked to. I suggested that even though his word choices could have been less controversial, his message was probably true. I received some sheepish nods.

    So, why are we so afraid to put some limits on how we dress and how our children dress?