by Calulu cross posted from her blog Seeking The Light
One of the big phrases I heard many times in my very Catholic family was “Slutty Girls….” with some description of whatever undesirable behavior that these imaginary threatening exemplar ladies were modeling.
I heard that hoary old chestnut so many times that if I were to suddenly pick up a Marlboro, flick my Bic and actually inhale I’d hear my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother and probably countless generations back exclaim in my mind – “Slutty girls smoke” – spoken in parts outraged and cautionary.
Not that girls supposedly free with their favors all smoke. It’s just the perception of my family’s womenfolk on my mother’s side. But it worked. I don’t smoke, almost no one from that half of my family smokes. I asked an aunt about that recently, she said the same thing I did, that even thinking about lighting up gives her that same interior Greek (Cajun) chorus of ladies saying “Slutty girls smoke”
“Slutty girls” also didn’t wear clean underwear. They didn’t listen to their mothers. They didn’t get good grades and were responsible for all sorts of awful evil things happening. My other grandmother brought a few new wrinkles to the things slutty girls did, they got their ears pierced instead of leaving them as God created them.
The “Slutty girls” lie was used on myself and younger female relatives to keep us acting with what our female elders deemed acceptable comportment and seemliness as we went into the world in our Catholic school plaids and knee socks.
I never questioned it then, even if I found myself abundantly pissed off by it at times, like the time I asked my mother at 7 years old for a mini skirt and fishnet tights. My mother told me that this was something ‘Slutty girls’ wanted to wear, which in retrospect seems like a silly thing to say to a seven year old since I wasn’t even sure what ‘slutty’ meant. I knew it was to be avoided but had only the most nebulous idea what it was. It was 1967, a year when nearly everyone under 25 had on fishnet tights and a mini skirt. Not me, knee-length pleated plaid and knee socks for me.
Now in the evangelical Christian world I hear politely worded “Slutty girls wear that..” condemnation in the lip service to Christian modesty. Seems like there has been a decidedly nasty renewed pushback towards any female actually daring to wear summer-appropriate clothing by the Modesty Brigade.
Are they talking of women or teenagers walking around wearing three postal stamps and a whole lot of string? No, they are protesting ladies wearing swimsuits at the beach that aren’t neck to knee, shorts of any type and sleeveless tops. In hot weather, in the deep South, in the desert, at the beach.
My problem with this is the same one I have with the whole idea of ‘slutty girls’ – it’s saying that men are beasts that are incapable of controlling their eyes, their minds, their hearts and it’s our job not to tempt them into raping women dressed in a way that turns those men on.
That type of thinking is downright dangerous. It turns women into objects, things possessing sexual organs that are not human. It also demeans men, assuming that no man can exercise self control because they aren’t human either, they are animals.
I’ve said this before, but apparently it bears repeating – the Christian right needs to get over it’s obsession with sex. Stop obsessing over it, stop thinking about it, stop adding all these rules to Christianity that Jesus never approved. Encourage others to dress as suits the weather, their personal tastes and their body, not to suit your fear of and obsession with sex.
Put to death the labels of ‘slutty girls’ and ‘immodest’. These are the things that hurt everyone and causes divisions. Love each other and stop with the judging everyone else..
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Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Seeking The Light
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce