Brittany Minder, a Washington teen who was asked to leave her prom because her attire went against the school’s policy, is yet another example of how we police women’s bodies while simultaneously creating a slut-shaming culture.
Like this recent case in New Jersey, Minder’s situation highlights the lengths we go to in enforcing standards of body, dress, and beauty upon girls and women.
As in other cases, this particular clothing ‘rule’ has little to do with the bodies and experiences of the girls/women wearing the clothing, but instead it focuses on the desires, gaze and distractability of boys/men.
School officials and their body-focused rulings spread the message that the bodies of these girls can’t be trusted around the easily distracted minds of boys, and if it weren’t for the school’s rulings these women would be raped – and it would be their own fault for wearing such attire. (To be fair to principals and other school administrators, it isn’t just them who want to police the clothing of girls. This mother explains why allowing our kids to dress provocatilvey will inevitably lead to sexual behaviours that they will regret.)
But, rape isn’t a woman’s fault. Nor is it a woman/girl’s ‘fault’ if someone else can’t contain their own gaze. It isn’t about what we wear – whether we are 16, and going to prom, or 29 and stepping out in skin-tight leggings - it is about other people respecting our bodies and our choices.
This troubles me particularly as a parent. I want to teach my kid to respect women whether they are wearing a snowsuit or they are nude. Our clothing should not be ‘protection’ from rape, or the ’cause’ of someone’s distraction. Further, I feel uncomfortable with the notion that girls in my child’s age group would wear, or not wear, clothing because they were concerned about my son’s gaze or his distractability.
Specific to Brittany Minder’s situation, I am disgusted by this author for Policy Mic, who can’t seem to recognize the connection between refusing admittance to a woman because of the style of her clothing and the larger issues around victim blaming/slut shaming. Also, with the flare of fat-shaming, she surmises her thoughts on this Minder.
You can see in the picture that there is quite a lot of cleavage showing. And yes, it is because she is large-chested. There is nothing she can do about her anatomy, we all have idiosyncrasies that we have to work with. She could, however, have chosen a different design for a dress. Perhaps a halter structure or a sweetheart neckline would have better suited her. In fact, the neckline on the blouse that she wore during an interview that can be seen here, is quite flattering.
This reporter’s ability to prescribe and shame at the same time is more than just poor journalism.