Wednesday, December 6, 2006

At least they didn't burn their panties. - USA Today highlights the latest fashion trend among the young, trendy and talentless. As of late, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Brittney Spears have taken to wearing micro-miniskirts without benefit of underwear. While to many, this may seem like some unnecessary breach of decorum - even by Hollywood's attenuated standards. But I suspect that this will soon become the new standard (or depth, depending upon your perspective) of behavior for America's young women; perhaps you'll see this coming to a catwalk near you.

My comment on new behavioral mores for young women of today is hardly tongue-in-cheek.
Tragically, young women and girls get the messages sent to them by our culture. More than at any time previous, today’s generations of women are acutely aware that in spite of whatever they may achieve academically, athletically or economically, no matter what their efforts may be in any endeavor, a lack of sexual desirability (a concept wholly apart from simple pulchritude) will render them invisible in this society.

Conversely, there is no level of personal depravity that will not be overshadowed by an abundance of the right physical attributes, along with the willingness to display them.
Sadly, in order to fit in with current societal conventions, young women and girls have to yield to the pressures and temptations to look and behave a certain way as dictated by American culture or be exiled to social oblivion.

And the culture’s bent towards licentious and sexually provocative behavior on the part of females does not yield to age or professional standing. A few years prior to her taking the helm of the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric, then of NBC’s Today Show, felt the need to accentuate her positives during her stint on The Tonight Show. Ariel Levy, author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture provides the particulars.

When Katie Couric guest-hosted the Tonight Show in May 2003, she wore a low-cut dress and felt the need to emphasize her breasts by pointing at them and proclaiming “these are actually real!” Lest the leg men in the house feel understimulated, Couric also had guys with power tools cut a hole in [Jay] Leno’s desk so that the program could be a more complete peep show – a Google search for “Katie Couric’s legs” provides links to dozens of porn sites with her calves in close-up, in case you missed it. Even America’s morning TV sweetheart, a woman who interviews heads of state and is the highest paid person in television news …has to dabble in exhibitionism to feel as though she’s made it today.
Ms. Couric is hardly alone in the category of talented, professional and presumably empowered women who saw the need to bare more than their souls in order to satisfy the dictates of the culture. Indy 500 driver Danica Patrick saw the wisdom of showing America her racing stripes on the pages of FHM and Maxim, as did U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team Olympic Gold Medalist Heather Mitts. The real question is if these and other paragons of feminine accomplishment feel compelled to succumb to cultural imperatives, what hope is there for the masses of perfectly unremarkable women and young girls?

Not to put too fine a point on all of this, but I would humbly suggest simply that this capitulation of women to the worst of our society is directly attributable to the modern feminist movement. As much as feminists can yammer on about arcane subjects such as lesbian feminist consciousness or Marxist feminism, they are as silent as the dead on the matter of giving young women the means by which to negotiate their interactions with the larger society vis-à-vis sex and sexuality. Rather than providing a range of options, so-called “choice feminism” only gave women two, complete engagement with – or more often than not, total submission to – the dominant culture, or complete withdrawal.

The real and lasting injustice in all of this is that Paris, et. al. were only obligated to do one thing in exchange for all that American society has contributed to their lifestyle: namely, don't make things worse for everybody else, particularly for other women not similarly situated. Alas, they found themselves unable to even meet that minimal standard.

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