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CNN Polices Little Girls For Dressing Like 'Tramps'

Actual CNN headline:


Parents, don't dress your girls like tramps.

Tramps? Seriously? CNN should really stop allowing Minerva McScold write their headlines after too many mint juleps.

And while they're at it, someone take away LZ Granderson's pearls, because between this piece and last week's "Don't Let Ignorant People Vote," he's clutching them so hard that I think he's cutting off oxygen to his brain.

Anyway, there is a lot to be said about this piece, but I'm just going to make four quick points:

1. Scolding "parents" for their children's clothing is effectively, by virtue of how most families still work, scolding mothers. There are, of course, two-father families, single father families, and two opposite-sex parent families with stay-at-home dads or dads who do the clothes shopping for kids, but in the vast majority of households, mothers are the primary purchaser of children's clothing and are primarily responsible for getting kids dressed every day.

2. This article would be garbage in any case, but it is even more garbagey by virtue of its utter failure to acknowledge the difficulty of finding a variety of clothing styles for young girls in department stores. If you live in a small town with one department store or Wev-Mart, you're stuck with whatever they put on their shelves, unless you've got the time and talent to make your kids' clothes. The internet has opened up options a bit, but if you're shopping on a budget, it can still be difficult to find variety at low cost.

3. Families who can't afford new clothes for their kids are dependent on whatever's being gifted or whatever they find at second-hand stores. Shaming "parents" without a caveat to acknowledge how many US kids wear hand-me-downs is absurd.

4. How girls dress would be moot if we didn't live in a culture that sexually objectified female people. And that's ultimately my biggest problem with this article: It tasks individual parents with the impossible challenge of successfully navigating a systemic dilemma. Don't dress your daughters in a way that will make people look at them in a way no one should be looking at them in the first place.

Granderson would almost certainly argue that he's just addressing an existent reality, which is true, but the problem with recommendations that avoid challenging that fucked-up reality head-on is that it more deeply entrenches that reality: Policing little girls' clothes and calling them "trampy" only reinforces a culture in which female bodies are sexually objectified and judged.

And in which there is no "right way" for female bodies to be dressed, anyway. Pants? Too mannish. Skirts above the knee? Slutty. Skirts below the knee? Frigid. Low-slung jeans? Whore! High-rise jeans? MOM JEANS. Button-up blouse? Too prim. Low-cut blouse? Too showy.

It's a game of Can't Fucking Win, and the only way to change the game is to stop playing it.

A

Shakesville / By Melissa McEwan

Posted at April 19, 2011, 7:25am

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