In Repackaging feminism as Christian wisdom I pointed out that our great grandmothers understood the nature of women’s temptation to sin. What is fascinating is we know this, even though we have forgotten what our great grandmothers knew. There is a kind of cultural doublethink involved here, where we generally deny that women are tempted by sexual sin (and deny that we are denying it) while we also mock people in the past for having failed to deny this. This comes out in interesting ways, and one of them is in jokes about how our unenlightened ancestors used to have such backward views.
Yet while Yiayia would be horrified, as Opus explained compared to modern Europe the women in the US seem like prudes:
In Europe, in the summer, women can be found topless and bottomless but in America the females are all auditioning – Back to the Future style – for a role in a Doris Day flick by wearing one piece bathing-costumes – at least they were when I was Stateside.
But women going nude in Europe shows the fallacy of Walsh blaming women’s desire to bare as much as society will permit on the stores at the mall. Surely the stores at the mall are quite happy to assist them in their race to nakedness, but there isn’t any money to be made selling birthday suits. If anything, we would expect the shops at the mall to hold the line at high priced but maximally seductive bathing suits. Perhaps it is the stores at the mall in capitalist America which are holding women back from adopting European women’s embrace of full nudity. Likewise as another commenter mentioned, how can the stores at the mall be to blame for the nude and partially nude selfie phenomenon?
Director Stanton tells us that:
…women left to themselves will develop into good women, more responsible women, just naturally, for various reasons and we could talk about that.
But the truth is that women and older girls left to themselves will collectively push to continuously redefine decency down in their efforts to compete for sexual attention. This is exactly what eleventh grader Olympia Nelson describes in her Op-ed at The Age on the selfie phenomenon:
How confident can you appear at being lascivious? How credible is your air of lewdness? A girl who is just a try-hard will lose credibility and become an outcast. So a lot depends on how much support you can get from other girls.
Note that the problem isn’t that Nelson and the other girls don’t know that they are beautiful. The girls in the selfies already have confidence that they are beautiful; what they are trying to do is leverage that beauty to climb the social ladder. To Nelson it is the patriarchy and not the shops at the mall which is to blame, because those dirty boys make her and the other girls do it. If the boys only had more sophisticated taste in selfies she explains, the girls could compete for the boy’s attention in a more positive way. This is undoubtedly true but overlooks women’s temptations entirely. While she complains throughout the piece about the horrors of unrestricted selfie warfare, she closes by forcefully arguing that it would be wrong for parents to place limits on what young girls can post. Assuming she gets her wish, we will continue to test Stanton’s foolish theory.
All of this of course would be mortifying to Yiayia, who would be troubled enough by what today would be considered a tame red dress: