As the seasons change and the weather warms, American adults are yet again being subjected to the uncomfortable spectacle of teenage girls wearing outfits more befitting a runway show than a school, a store, or any other public setting. Every winter I hope the trend loses steam or reverses, but every spring it returns worse than the previous year.
I wish there were a way I could word this in a less tawdry manner, but I can’t, so I’ll just be blunt: Mom and Dad, we can see the bottom of your teenage daughter’s ass. And we shouldn’t be seeing the bottom of your teenage daughter’s ass. At her age, the only one who should is her proctologist. And it’s your fault that we’re seeing it.
I hesitated writing this article because I foresee my arguments falling on deaf ears of those who feel I have no right, as a male, to dictate social norms to females. But this is an erroneous approach. I make my arguments not as a male to a female, but as an adult to a child. My gender is incidental to my arguments, and I would have no qualms with a female adult objecting to a male teenager dressing inappropriately. I’m specifically targeting the current trend among teenage females not from any leftist chimera of implicit misogyny or ingrained patriarchy, but because the consequences of said behaviors are far more serious for the teenage female than for the teenage male.
Sex and sexual behavior are always more consequential for females than for males. A teenage boy dressing inappropriately can harm himself socially, but never sexually. But as our daughters are being hypersexualized at younger and younger ages by mass marketing, the celebrity class, social media, and rapists posing as teachers, it is all the more crucial that they have stable and consistent parenting to counter this.
But what if you have quadragenarian children acting as parents? What happens when the so-called adult is more concerned about being their daughter’s bestie rather than her guardian, mentor, role model, and, yes, disciplinarian? What if some parents are more upset about a school “picking on their little angel” rather than teaching their kid that her called-out behavior is unacceptable?
Take, for example, Khalesei Holt, whose 12-year-old daughter violated the dress code of her middle school. Instead of correcting her child, Holt thought it better to storm into the principal’s office, record herself throwing a tantrum, and then post it on TikTok. Or Tony Alarcon, whose 13-year-old daughter was reprimanded on multiple occasions for inappropriate clothing. Rather than setting reasonable boundaries with his daughter, Alarcon instead attempted a public pressure campaign to get the school to change their dress code.
My gut feeling is that these adults, if they were honest with themselves, don’t believe a word they say about supporting their daughter’s wardrobe decisions. My gut feeling is that they are either too scared to enforce reasonable norms, or too eager to be their kid’s best friend. And so they misdirect their anger towards the school, or towards society, or towards a mythical “patriarchy”, rather than admit their own shortcomings. But your daughter doesn’t need a friend, or an ally, or an advocate. Your daughter needs a parent.
Reading articles about incidents like these reveals not only the mindsets of these pseudo-parents, but also of those in the public sphere who support them. Read through the comments sections of stories like these, and two categories of supporters appear. One category of supporters is angry teenage and young adult girls who bleat defiance for the sake of defiance. They’re the types who would jump in front of an oncoming train if a biological male had forbade them from doing so. The other category of supporters is creepy adult men who goad and encourage the teen girls to dress scandalously, and then proceed to gaslight that anyone who has a problem with their exposed breasts and derrieres is the real pervert for having noticed them to begin with (PSA: if you’re one of these creepy adult men, you’re engaging in what psychologists refer to as projection).
Why don’t we just trust our kids to do the right thing, you ask? Because they are kids. Because they’re not yet at the age where we can count on them, completely, to make the best choices. That’s why we don’t allow them to drink alcohol, or to vote, or to join the military, or to drop out of school, or to drive, work, or move out without parental permission. It’s not that our kids are bad. It’s that they still lack impulse control, maturity, and the experience of learning from bad decisions. They lack the full ability to make the best judgments, especially when facing an avalanche of social and media pressure from every single angle to behave in a manner completely opposite of what you’ve been trying to teach them.
But what about the way boys dress, you ask? The way boys dress should be, and is, regulated by schools and, to varying degrees, by societal expectations. The student handbook in the middle school at which the aforementioned Khalesei Holt threw her tantrum regulates against saggy pants, hats, hoodies, exposed underwear, bandanas, unsecured belts, or wearing a single color from head to toe. The middle school of Tony Alarcon’s daughter has similar regulations for boys. And if my son ever attempted to leave the house (“attempted” being the operative word) in saggy pants and a bandana, I’d be on him just as quickly as I would my daughter if she attempted to leave the house in booty shorts. It’s not oppression, it’s parenting.
We judge people by appearances every day, and we especially did so in school. Did we make judgments about the kids wearing all black clothing and Goth make-up who looked eternally melancholy? Did we make judgments about the varsity football players with designer clothes and clean haircuts? Did we make judgments about the portly LARPers with messy hair and unkempt clothes, who smelled bad? Did we make judgments about the wimpy kids with dorky clothes who nonetheless got straight A’s in their STEM classes? Did we make judgments about the thugs with baggy pants and sideways hats? How we present ourselves broadcasts a message about who we are and what we value, and our teenage years were nothing if not a decade-long message board about how we want others to perceive us.
When teenage girls dress in booty shorts or extremely revealing tops, they are, as feminist Camille Paglia put it, sending a sexual signal. And they know this full well, even if their parents pretend that they don’t. They’re not doing it to “feel comfortable”, they’re doing it for sexual attention. They’re not doing it because “everyone else is doing it”, they’re doing it because everyone else is not doing it. If every girl were doing it, there would be nothing provocative or risqué about the whole business, and no girl would stand out from the crowd.
But while these girls may intend to send a signal of confidence and control, that’s not how the signal is being received. When teenage boys see a teenage girl dressed obscenely provocatively, what conclusions do you think they’re reaching about her? She’s the mother of his future kids? She’ll be the medical school valedictorian? She’s an intelligent, secure, and interesting person with whom one would develop a lifelong, meaningful relationship? No. The boys see easy sex. The boys see bragging rights. The boys see an objective to be conquered. The boys see an insecure kid telling everyone around her that she’s nothing more than a shiny sexual object to be lusted after, manipulated, and discarded.
You can bang your head against the wall about them being “pigs”, but psychologically speaking, boys in their adolescent years are even more immature and undeveloped than their female counterparts. Generally, the top ten concerns of teenage boys are as follows: sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, social standing with male friends, and sex. And while it may pain the devotees of critical gender theory to hear, the fact is that if you drop a scantily-clad girl into a school of hormonally-frenzied boys, it’s not unlike throwing a virgin to the volcano.
In a perfect world, your teenage daughter could strut around wearing next to nothing, and it wouldn’t attract disproportionate, negative sexual attention from teenage boys. But is it wrong to demonize the boys’ reactions if these reactions were your daughter’s goal from the outset? To people who argue that these teenage girls shouldn’t be objectified and sexualized based on what they wear, I ask, why do you think they’re wearing it? What sort of attention, if not sexual, do you think they seek?
There is a very thick, defined boundary between looking attractive and looking like a Caligula extra. One conveys confidence, the other invites contempt. Nobody has ever asked Bebe Rexha her learned opinions on quantum physics. Nobody is curious as to Cardi B’s ruminations on the constitutionality of the Federal Reserve. If these escaped science experiments are your idea of “empowered females”, you’ve simply drank too much Woke Kool-Aid for my words to make a dent. I pity your daughter, and I pray there are other adults in her life that value her more than you have.
You, not your kid, are supposed to be the adult. Act like it. Teach your daughter to respect herself and to demand it from others. Millions of teenage girls do exactly that by dressing like they’re worth more than lecherous ogling. You can be her friend after she grows up, but right now she needs you to be a parent. So be a parent. Put some clothes on your daughter.
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