Warning: Do not click on any of the links in this piece, unless you are prepared to be offended. No, not even kidding. Caveat lector, and all that.
other day a friend of mine on Facebook (where else does one read the
latest news, hm?) posted a piece on Tina Korbe. Who is Tina Korbe?
Well, Tina Korbe is a lovely young lady who interviewed Rick Santorum at CPAC. Go ahead and watch the video—the first thirty seconds, anyway.
That's right, Tina Korbe is a lovely young lady. And her skirt is
too short for her. I'm not judging her—just making a statement. Even
Tina thinks her skirt is too short for her, because right there at the
beginning she makes a vain effort to tug it down.
Now the post I read
was by another woman, Katie Pavlich, who was defending Tina's ability
as a reporter (though not necessarily the wisdom of her choice of
attire) against a fellow conservative. As Ms. Pavlich notes, this is
not the first time that she has defended an attractive young lady up on the charge of being getting ahead on her looks.
I thought Ms. Pavlich (who is, judging from the head shot by her
byline, rather attractive herself) was being a little strident. Then I
read the original pieces on Tina and on the other young lady, Michelle Fields, and I was shocked. Then I clicked on some of the links in those original pieces, and was disgusted.
Of course women have no business dressing like escapees from the
seamier sort of movie set. What one writer referred to as "the Jersey
Shore-ification of Our Young People" disturbs me; and I don't think I'm
disturbed out of mere fuddy-duddyism, because I'm a young people
myself. (Possibly even an attractive young people. Sorry, no head
shots provided.) Our culture is ick, and the way some young women
sometimes dress is part of that ickyness. But I don't think it helps
matters when people use slang words traditionally reserved for women who
earn their living by immoral means to delineate the problem.
In an age of politically correct language, when the prescribed mode for
discussing sin presumes an atmosphere of rose grey tolerance, we the
politically incorrect are frequently tempted to mistake offensiveness
for frankness, and vulgarity for honesty. "Mistake" I said; and it is a mistake, on many levels.
crude epithets to describe your opponents is rarely productive. Name
calling—however accurate or well-deserved you may think the
names—doesn't just lose you any chance you might have had of changing
your opponents' minds: it also tends, after a certain point, to alienate
some of your own choir. If your intention is to outrage and
offend—then by all means, call names. Otherwise, this is another of
those behaviors falling into the category of what my heroine General
Anna would call lousy strategy.
Calling names is also distinctly uncharitable. It is tempting to
assume that every woman who dresses up like Carmen is on the lookout for
Don Jose, and should be slapped on the wrist accordingly. Would that
life were that simple. Ms. Carmen is as often as not no worse than a
Mrs. Jose wannabe with a heart of Michaela. Twenty years ago this
wasn't true. But twenty years ago, parents dressed their toddlers
Finally, using gutter language to describe gutter behavior is in itself immodest. Think about it. Men are visual beings, and easily make
associations and are tempted by what they see. Women are more tuned to
language and things that they hear—and make associations based on those
things. Think about that, gentlemen, the next time you use language in front of a woman.
I've known women to respond to the male name-calling by insisting that the problem with immodesty is a male problem,
that men need to stop viewing women as objects, stop caring about the
way they dress. Maybe this will be a practical suggestion with the
advent of the Singularity or some other human-nature-altering cosmic
event. Until then, I submit that telling men to stop caring about how
women dress is as pointless as it is naive. Men can't not care. But
they can care in a way that acknowledges women's fundamental
dignity rather than focusing on their bad choices and on men's own
We women don't need rules to tell us how to dress. (Indeed, most
rules, like the Sleeveless Rule, are entertaining at best and obnoxious
at worst.) We need instincts—instincts like shame and self-respect,
innate instincts that once upon a time were strengthened and refined by
our parents, teachers, and peers, and are now undermined by them. I
can't tell you how we are going to get those instincts back—I suspect
there is no short cut, and the loss of those instincts, like every other
decline in national decency, will be repaired only slowly as—and
if—the culture is healed, over perhaps a hundred years. But if any
lady or gentleman does have a short cut, by all means let me know.
Just ... keep it clean. For my sake.