Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: That's Inappropriate!

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  • sally jones,

    Oh darn I am late to this interesting post. I have been busy and distracted and lazy, even now haven't read it all. Kind of stopped after talk of skirts left the room but it's always interesting on your thread, Emma (spoken from minimal experience, albeit).
    You have made me think - always a good thing. In fact this whole darned PA thing is making me think - aarr!!! - realise that's kind of the point. It just hurts sometimes.
    But I mustn't ramble on...
    I have a 15-year-old daughter who doesn't have a pony. Her skirts are short, because she is rather short, but she mostly wears jeans Juno-style. We had a mild argument, that she won, over how far to take up her high school skirt when she started high school three years ago - but no issue since. We have had other conversations/arguments over what she wears that I'm beginning now to regret, though no obvious harm done - so far. She likes low-rider trousers that have been known to reveal her undies. I suggested she wear black undies so they wouldn't be so obvious. When she jogs in tight tights I prefer her to wear a top slung round her hips, just a light-weight one that doesn't weigh her down too much.
    I am thinking now that these are 'inappropriate' interventions on my part. Your post has made me look a little differently at the issue. I saw my daughter today and felt a sudden uplift that she is she, and so curious to find out more about her as she grows, that I wanted her to have total freedom to do that, to be as much her as she can be, if that makes sense.
    She is trustworthy. She takes after her father in that respect (seriously). I think this trust is more important than the 'appropriate' clothing. And if criticising her judgement casts doubt on that feeling of being trusted in her eyes, then it does harm. I should trust in trust.

    Thanks for the post and discussion.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    The GQ shots, on the other hand, IMO, stepped WAY over that line into soft porn and I HATED them. Very creepy and completely squicky.

    Yeah, it's pretty impressive when you can make American Apparel clothing look even creepier than their own ad campaigns do.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    From my high school years I know of a girl who did actually end up as a prostitute. From memory she never dressed "like a slut" at school, even when uniforms were eventually gotten rid of.

    The end of uniforms did not end the slut-shaming, though. There was still a dress code, and brazenly showing bra was not allowed, although I think bra-straps passed muster. Very short skirts were stopped, but shorts were ironically not only allowed, but required during PE, and of course during swim sports days we pretty much got to see everyone except the teachers in their undies.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to BenWilson,

    ...and of course during swim sports days we pretty much got to see everyone except the teachers in their undies.

    Yes, and we got to see you! ;)

    At the high school my 17 year old son attends, the boys are required to shave. Apparently some Year 13's don't, and he, him hairy self, has been hauled up for whiskers on occasion. He takes after...no. Save that for next post.
    But why not whiskers? It seems there could be some comparison made between restrictions on girls' uniforms and the rule against whiskers for boys.
    Of course, for boys it's probably mostly about neatness. For girls and women it's always been about something much darker and deeper and momentous - like the survival of the human race, or something. If a girl wears a short skirt she is going straight to hell and dragging the rest of us 'down' with her.
    Did anyone see Sunday Theatre last week? Not sure what the Catholics would be making of it. My bed buddy described it as "bleak". All that indoctrination about the hells of hell on the very young. I hope 'we' are moving decisively beyond the terrify-the-young approach to religious instruction (notwithstanding media distortions for purposes of sensationalism). Much depends upon it, IMHO.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Yes, and we got to see you! ;)

    Fair's fair :-) Being a waterpolo player I even got to enjoy tussling with scantily clad girls during training. There was nothing slutty about it - sport is a totally different, of course, all above board, even what was going on under the water. If a young lady wrapped her legs about my waist in an attempt to get to the ball, and we disappeared under the water in a roiling mass of bubbles, from which we both emerged breathless, it was simply good hard training.

    But why not whiskers?

    Indeed, seems very silly to me, as any kind of haircut control is.

    But I think it's the reverse motivation to slut-shaming for girls. Being forced to shave is symbolic of being forced into manhood. It would seem more comparable if shaving were banned. The teasing about shaving is mostly in reverse, if you refuse to shave it's because you refuse to accept that you're growing up. If you don't need to shave it's because you haven't gone through puberty. That sort of thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to BenWilson,

    The teasing about shaving is mostly in reverse, if you refuse to shave it’s because you refuse to accept that you’re growing up. If you don’t need to shave it’s because you haven’t gone through puberty

    Ben: Well, yes and no. Growing a beard is surely, if anything, a symbol of the achievement of manhood, shave it off and you return to boyhood (plus pimples). My son would actually have a pretty full beard if he didn't shave for a week. He would look much older and - dare I say it - more manly, with a full beard, so restrictions on growing one seem to me like some kind of denial and thwarting of the growing up process, too.

    But then again, what would I know about facial hair and its symbolic ramifications?

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I'd say it's exactly the same Canute-ish motivation in either case - to prevent the display of visible sexual signs.

    snap, Sally

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Growing a beard is surely, if anything, a symbol of the achievement of manhood, shave it off and you return to boyhood (plus pimples).

    Then most of the men in this country return to boyhood every day!

    I think it's something that has different symbolism in different times and places, I'm only really commenting on Anglo-NZ, right now. It seems to me that there's a perception that shaving is a rite of passage. Letting a downy teen beard grow is refusing to man up to a (rather tedious) daily responsibility.

    Of course it's silly. Social rules around facial hair always have been. As you say, it could be about 'neatness', which denies the blatantly obvious possibility of having a neat beard, or a really poor shave.

    I seem to remember McDonalds had a no-beards, and even no-sideburns rule when I worked there. They claimed it was for hygiene reasons, but I think that was BS, and it was entirely for appearances. You were required to be McFaceless.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I'd say it's exactly the same Canute-ish motivation in either case - to prevent the display of visible sexual signs.

    I've never seen growing a beard as in any way relating to sexual signs or growing up. I can't really seem to think of beards as sexy in any way.

    To me it's a sign that your ice hockey team is in a playoff run, so kinda the opposite of grown up really.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to BenWilson,

    Then most of the men in this country return to boyhood every day!

    Well perhaps most, just. I know many bearded men. My husband wore a beard for several years. Not any more, but once. I am betting my son will too one day. With that much hair, shaving must get particularly tedious. Goes without saying really.
    And don't forget the pimples. A shaved boy of 17 is quite distinctively still a boy and not yet a man. But bearded he may achieve this deception.

    I seem to remember McDonalds had a no-beards, and even no-sideburns rule when I worked there.

    .
    Snap, Ben. I'm a former member of the McDonald's fellowship too.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I've never seen growing a beard as in any way relating to sexual signs or growing up.

    Ever seen a beard on a prepubescent child? Or a woman? Well OK, women can have noticeable facial hair, but I've never seen anything like what I sported after 3 weeks of laziness at age 19.

    Still, I agree, They're not sexy. Nor is massive sprouts of pubic hair, despite the obvious symbolism of it. But this is probably again just a comment on time and place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    I’ve never seen growing a beard as in any way relating to sexual signs or growing up. I can’t really seem to think of beards as sexy in any way.

    With all due respect, rubbish Kyle! So you're a bloke, why would you? Unless you're gay, then I couldn't possibly comment. But I will - I used to be a ballet dancer. Once Was Dancer. I know at least one gay guy who comes close to detesting male body hair.

    But what I can say with greater authority is that it's different for those of us of the female persuasion, well some of us, at any rate. Body hair is not a requirement, it's more like a bonus. At the same time I appreciate a perfectly shaved and flawless male celebrity torso as much as the next girl/woman/gay man (sorry for lumping together). At least, I think I can. It's always hard to measure the intensity of other people's feelings.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to BenWilson,

    Nor is massive sprouts of pubic hair, despite the obvious symbolism of it.

    The subject of my next guest post. HDYK?

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Ever seen a beard on a prepubescent child? Or a woman?

    I mean comparing an adult male with a beard to one without.

    And comparison with women is likely to lead you to believe that it's the beard that makes people not grown up :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Well perhaps most, just. I know many bearded men. My husband wore a beard for several years. Not any more, but once.

    They were way more common when I was a lad. My Dad had a huge ginger beard, so it's always symbolized male adulthood to me, but my own beard put me right off - too bloody itchy. Also, too easy to yank. When I woke up in the middle of the night choking on mine, it had to go.

    I think they symbolized rebellion at that time, a time when rebellion was popular, even unto middle-age. Nowadays beards on young men seem to convey "mean" or "green". I'm sure this will change.

    Older men get away with it, as they do with many eccentricities. It also compensates for going bald, somewhat.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The GQ shots, on the other hand, IMO, stepped WAY over that line into soft porn and I HATED them. Very creepy and completely squicky.

    I'd agree with you -- but I think it's also pertinent to note that Dianna Agron and Lea Michele are both 24 (they play teenagers on TV) and GQ very consciously moved into "lad mag" territory a long time ago. (I remember seeing issues of the then new British edition in the late 80's, and it was quite upmarket. Like Vanity Fair for men without the star-fucking. Or Esquire when it was a serious "general interest" men's magazine.)

    Personally, I'm more offended by shit like this -- the Mad Men ladies may not be inviting you to take a cervical smear with one of the magazine's advertising tip-ins, but I find Photoshop mutilation more sinister precisely because its not quite so obvious unless you know what to look for.

    ETA: OTOH, Agron is really grand at the Paul Henrician fuck you non-apology. She should go into politics.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to BenWilson,

    Nowadays beards on young men seem to convey “mean” or “green”.

    Nice. Probably more green than mean. Though Wolf from OF now 'sports' one so who knows.

    I’m more offended by shit like this – the Mad Men ladies

    Graig, I was just preparing a post on this very thing. I'm particularly offended by Joan's fuck-me pout (can I say that?). In my book Joan is 'of Arc', not MM. The gender split is irksome too. There's a bit of girl power, but overall it seems objectifying, My 15-year-old says 'the slut thing" is standard for RS mag these days. Great! :(

    OTOH, inside this edition there's a not-so-bad article on Chelsea Handler: "Dirty Slutty Funny". There's that word again - slut. There's a bit of Craig's 'invitation to take a cervical smear' in the main image of Handler - breathing fire! - and the shoes, let's just say, look uncomfortable, but otherwise there's something striking and non-degrading about the image. Better than the GO shots, IMHO. Though plenty photo-shopping gone on.
    Not sure if it furthers the debate about sluttiness at all. Handler could be said to use the concept, and possibly the practice (?), to her benefit.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • icehawk,

    I’m honestly not sure what the factors are that ensure some girls and women are constantly slut-shamed and some never are.

    A friend of a friend in the USA was studying what caused high school girls in the US to be labelled as "loose" (or a "slut" or etc) by their peers.

    Her main result (when mostly through the PhD thesis) was that they did things in the wrong order. A girl who went off into a corner for some mutual groping with a boy without dating them first and going through various other steps was "loose", even if she only did it once and never bonked anyone. But a girl who went through the correct social steps in order could have a dozen sexual partners in a school-year and be considered fine.

    But the USA's dating rituals are bizarre, so I've no idea as to transferance of this to NZ.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 49 posts Report Reply

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