10 reasons I’m not actually slut shaming

After my post about ultra marathoner Scott Jurek went up, my teenager asked me how long I thought it would be before someone accused me of slut-shaming Jurek. I just about spit up my tea, and after a series of one-liners and howls of belly-aching laughter, I knew I had to do another post.

My teenager was referring to a small but vocal group that was offended by my post about high school dress codes. Normally, I welcome and expect dissent. (Not that I read all the comments from every post because that would be impossible time-wise. I do try to read all the emails readers send me, but I’m even behind on that task.)

DeMatha Stags fans cheer during a high school football game between the DeMatha Stags and the Miami Central Rockets at Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex in Hyattsville, Maryland, Aug. 29. (Derik Hamilton | USA TODAY Sports)

DeMatha Stags fans cheer during a high school football game between the DeMatha Stags and the Miami Central Rockets at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Hyattsville, Maryland, Aug. 29. (Derik Hamilton | USA TODAY Sports)

In the case of the dress code post, though, I feel obligated to say that I honestly don’t care about the arguments of dissenters or about the fact that I’ve been deemed a slut-shamer. (For those who are wondering, a slut shamer is someone who admonishes others, usually women, for behavior that is more sexual than society deems “appropriate.”)

This is why I don’t care:

1. The post was about minors and about how they dress at school, a publicly funded professional setting for learning (students) and working (adults). Would that some readers worry as much about reading comprehension as they do about clothes. I was not speaking to attire youth wear to clubs, beaches or shopping.

2. If case No. 1 isn’t clear, my post was not about how adults dress, and contrary to what to some parents think, children and teens are not little adults.

3. Ample women have gone on to have healthy sex lives without having first shown “excessive flesh and crevices” in high school.

4. The idea that youth must show “excessive flesh and crevices” in high school to develop a healthy sense of self is ridiculous.

5. I think giving up bras is an awesome idea and a wonderful tribute to this braless purported slut-shamer. If I wear a bra once a year, that’s a lot for me. I’m all for letting the ladies go free, but heads up to those who try it: Tend to your connective breast tissue, called Cooper’s ligaments, especially after the babies come.

6. It’s easy to have an opinion about what girls should wear. It’s much harder to present that opinion in a nuanced and rational way. So many important public conversations fall victim to an abundance of extreme emotions and a lack of thoughtful reason.

7. I did not speak to the character of minors wearing what I referred to as “academic club-wear.” I did speak to how it makes adults of character feel to be around them.

8. Malala Yousafzai. She’s the young Pakistani woman and Nobel Peace prize winner who was shot in the head while going to school as a 15-year-old female under Taliban rule. I sent a link about her to the emailer who was sure patriarchy and religion were controlling my thinking, leading me to want to oppress others — in case she was interested in what heavy-duty oppression looks like.

9. The idea that a dress code damages development looks silly in light of all the countless other children around the world, like Malala or the kidnapped girls in Nigeria or the missing students in Mexico, who would be grateful to access an educational system like ours safely for free and without persecution. Somehow, I don’t think they’d care about a dress code.

10. A campaign against high school dress codes has nothing to do with reducing real social stigmas, so spare me. Speaking as a survivor of childhood rape and molestation, and as an unwed mom, I know. I have faced them.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.