Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Our Uncomfortable Young Women

The First Feminist(?)
I have noticed a very meaningful paradox in the young women of America. Many of them (if not most) seem to feel compelled to embrace "sexiness" but they also seem completely uncomfortable doing so. This, I think, is one of the many negative results of the media-driven world.

Young women are taught (by example, in music and the media) that overt sexuality equals power; a kind of Wife of Bath-ish feministic statement. They are almost, I would argue, sent the message that it is their duty to be sexy; to wear certain revealing styles. I'm told by my young female students, in class discussion, that every young girl has, at some point, received at text from a boy that says "send nudes." The shocking thing here is not that boys want to see naked girls but that those boys seem to think they have a right to see these pictures; or, maybe worse, that getting pictures like that is a matter of course in their relationships with girls. The other thing I am told is that may girls comply because "they feel like they have to."

What I see in daily life is a lot of young women wearing clothes that "show" more than I ever, as a young man growing up in the 80s, saw. What I also see is how uncomfortable most of these girls seem to be in those revealing clothes. They seem constantly to be adjusting and trying to cover up.

It kind of breaks my heart to see that; to be witness to the profound and moving struggle between innocence and experience playing itself out in mannerisms.

To be clear -- and I don't mean this to be funny or ironic in any way -- I have respect for a confident woman who is comfortable both in a with her own skin; who is not ashamed to be sexy. She has every right to "strut her stuff" as they say; I (and the rest of us fellows), of course, still have an obligation to be gentlemanly toward her. But there is a great strength in a woman who is comfortable with her body and who is not ashamed.

That's all great, but, what if one is not ready for that? -- or what if one simply is not that person? This is what makes me sad, because it comes down to the usual thing: people being crushed by the weight of a media-connected, group thinking world.

I wasn't blessed with a daughter, but, if I had been, I would have done my best to encourage her to find her own "look" -- to be herself, without shame whether sh had chooses to dress minimally or conservatively. But I also would have tried to teach her that "sexy" isn't just about showing skin. It all has to be her choice to make, how she dresses; but every girl needs the independent spirit and confidence to really make it her own choice.

One thing I do know is that it really shreds a little bit more off of my already thinning soul every time I see a young girl who is obviously uncomfortable with the way society has dressed her. I don't blame her. I feel bad for her. Sadly, her only option is to take up arms against the ocean waves. Hopefully she has family and friends willing to support her in the fight.

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