The weight of the entire world's sexuality is on the shoulders of teen girls. Or is it their legs? It seems like all day long we in a frenzy over their dark magical powers. Do they know what they are doing? Are they doing it ON PURPOSE? Because from the Salem witch trials to the modern day devil harlots, girls have their fingers pressed restrictively on the pulse of our own conflicted feelings about women as sexual or autonomous beings, and today the war rages up to the shores of Utah (the state, not the WW2 code for the Allied landing beaches).
Some dad in Utah decided that, to teach his daughter a lesson about modesty (because she wears short shorts), he would cut off some old-school Levi's (ahem, ruin them — tears) to Daisy Duke proportions and wear them out for dinner and mini-golf to make a point.
But uh, what was the point, exactly? Can anyone help?
If you watch this Today Show segment about it, you, too can experience the vague sensation of having been told about something without being told anything about it.
In it, we learn that the dad — who definitely doesn't dress this way out of habit, because that wouldn't conform to masculine expectations, natch — decided to wear super short shorts out on the town to embarrass his daughter for what her mom called her "slutty" shorts.
The wife took pics, the daughter posted them on Tumblr, and it's all become an instant viral sen-saysh.
In the blog post that started le furor, the self-described "Dad who loves his daughters" writes:
I heard my wife ask our daughter if she would please change into some longer shorts before leaving. She said “NO!” Instead of turning her response and disrespectful attitude into a major battle, I decided to make a “small” statement on how her short-shorts maybe aren’t as “cute” as she thinks!
No major battle, said Major Shame. The daughter was embarrassed and didn't want to go inside with him to the restaurant. But here's the thing: The dad wearing the shorts to look like a goober doesn't prove that the shorts aren't cute, not that it actually matters.
All it proved was that he didn't like her wearing them and he was going to be a goofball about it.
Let's ask a practical question: Why is she allowed to own the shorts that she is not allowed to wear? If the dress code in that house (for reasons we could argue but which would be useless to argue) is "No mid-drift or low-cut shirts, no short-shorts, short skirts and we even go as far as saying no sleeveless shirts unless playing sports or on the beach" then why does she even get to own the shorts? Shouldn't they be ceremoniously burned on the pyre of modesty in the backyard?
Another large Utah-shaped beef I have with this whole thing is that even if it did make the daughter embarrassed, it's still a false correlation and that doesn't really make it a solid move.
Binary gender norms that most people follow, including these people, mean that most people are going to see an otherwise traditionally masculine-looking dude in super short shorts and do a spit take. Not because it's too sexy, because it's ridiculous. Grown man, short shorts, not gay, yadda yadda. That's their thinking, not mine.
If this is the framework he's operating from, then the correct way to make the daughter embarrassed along the same lines is for him to go out looking off-the-charts sexy in a revealing way with his kids around so everyone can die of mortification. Because teen girls get attention for short shorts because it's sexy or fashionable or "extreme," like the whole underbutt thing. Not because it's dumb.
Also, shorts are not by definition immodest. Please go here, then come back. See? Modest? Sexy? Both? Neither? You tell me. Then go get schooled about the tyranny of modesty talk, which is really about control and the taint of impropriety women must manage at all hours of the day.
The dad said also that he did this because he wants young women everywhere understand their "great worth."
So if he looks ridiculous in short shorts, it follows that young women will now think of themselves as ridiculous in short shorts and stop wearing them or take them off and throw them in the river, thus instantly reinstating their worth everywhere, which is directly tied to a covered body?
Again, what he really wants to convey is that a teen girl in short shorts is too sexy, too risqué. And in order to show that their wearing leads to bad things, we would all find ourselves at the World Slut Shaming Convention, sponsored by the Blame the Victim Foundation.
I don't think he achieved that correlation. He did make me think what a goofball.
Finally, the dad admitted that he maybe didn't quite achieve the point he wanted to make (still don't know what that was) because he didn't hear a resounding "thank you" from his daughter that night — gee, wonder why — but that he does think he achieved something: “I think she’s just aware of my feelings. And sometimes, understanding your parent’s feelings are important,” he said.
Ding ding ding. This is not about what looks good or doesn't. It's about his feelings about women, impropriety, watching his daughter grow up and become autonomous or sexual, and not wanting that to happen or not wanting it to happen yet, or not wanting it to happen like this or whatever, insert dad fear here.
It's about equating her worth with her seeming virginity or innocence. And while we might all understand as parents that's it is difficult to accept that kids grow up and become actual adults, the work is always on us to be big-picture about it and to especially try not to perpetuate dangerous stereotypes which fall disproportionately on women.
Wat has he taught her about her value that's positive? What really? From here, it looks like has only succeeded in helping his teen daughter realize that he is embarrassed by her body in short shorts. Let's maybe put this outside-the-box parenting approach back in the box.
For fun, here were the other reactions on the Today Show segment:
The "message is out there, and that's the point."
"First, he seems like a fun dad."
Yeah, a real barrel of monkeys.
"I love the fact that the discussion is being had."
What discussion? I still don’t see what discussion was being had.
"He likes to say modest is hottest — I love that."
Yes, all us gals want is to make sure the way we express our sexuality or identity meets our dad's preference for attractive women.
"He did it to embarrass himself — but to make a really good point."
WHAT is the point? We still haven't figured that out.
"He kept waiting for the kids to notice but they were glued to their phones."
Up next, dad dresses like an iPhone when the family goes to the movies to see We're the Millers.