Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cover your eyes

This one isn't funny (yeah, yeah...) but I had to get it off my chest. All over the world, men tell women how they should dress. They have a variety of reasons -- that women's bodies offend god, or society, or inflame mens uncontrollable sexual passions -- none of which permit rational debate. And let me say straight away, this isn't a dig at any particular religion or any particular society. Sure, some examples are more obviously visible than others, and in some places the pressure applied is more subtle than the blunt threat of the law. But even in the US today there are offices where women are frowned upon for not wearing stockings; churches where it's an affront for a woman not to cover her hair; and in many supposedly liberal Western democracies it's debatable whether girls should be permitted to wear pants (trousers) to school.

And before those of you who think of yourselves as tolerant and liberated and beyond such pettiness laugh at the silliness of those social conservatives, consider this: throughout the US today, the mere sight of the shape of a woman's nipple is enough to launch the media into paroxysms. And I'm not talking here about a Janet Jackson moment: I'm just talking about the shape seen through clothing! The same is true of many of the more repressed European countries. Did you know that contestants in beauty pageants routinely put band aids over their nipples so the shape won't show through their bathing suits? How obsessive is that?

Anyway, my bottom line here is: if you think that women's bodies or hair are offensive or inflammatory...

...don't tell the women to cover their bodies. Tell the men to cover their eyes.

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