condescending twatbags, slut shamers

Catholic mom begs girls and women to stop wearing leggings…

Ah… modesty. It’s a topic that has graced my blogs many times in the past. Now I have a new blog, and I haven’t yet written about modesty on this one. So here goes…

Many people are of the opinion that leggings are not pants. Some people think leggings are indecent and immodest. Some people think people with certain body types have no business wearing skin tight, stretchy fabric that shows every crease and roll. And some people are hyper-religious and sexually repressed and they worry that the sight of a pretty young woman in leggings will cause moral decay.

Catholic mom, Maryann White, recently wrote a letter to the editor of The Observer, a student run newspaper that serves The University of Notre-Dame and other local colleges. White’s letter has caused a stir which caused so much commotion that the story was featured on White, who is the mother of four sons, writes:

“I’ve thought about writing this letter for a long time. I waited, hoping that fashions would change and such a letter would be unnecessary — but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I’m not trying to insult anyone or infringe upon anyone’s rights. I’m just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: leggings.”

White goes on to explain that in the Star Wars movie franchise, Princess Leia was forced by Jabba the Hutt to wear a revealing slave girl outfit that “steals her personhood”. She explained to her sons that the slave girl outfit is demeaning, especially since it’s forced upon Princess Leia. Then, she writes that no one forces women and girls to wear leggings, except maybe the “fashion industry”, which has created these damnable garments that allow women to display their “nether regions” in such a way that males can’t look away from them.

I’ve actually never seen this movie… but I have seen the bikini. I don’t think Princess Leia’s bikini is the same as leggings…

White is very distressed about this. She’s so distressed that she writes:

I’m fretting both because of unsavory guys who are looking at you creepily and nice guys who are doing everything to avoid looking at you. For the Catholic mothers who want to find a blanket to lovingly cover your nakedness and protect you — and to find scarves to tie over the eyes of their sons to protect them from you!

She then goes on to suggest that girls and women “choose jeans” instead. She admits that we have the right to wear leggings if we want to, but choosing to wear leggings is, in her opinion, indecent and disrespectful on many levels. And oh, can’t we please think of the males who will be either tempted or disgusted by the sight of female bodies and their long suffering Catholic mothers?

I haven’t worn leggings in many years. There was a brief time in the early 90s when they were popular. I wore them then because they were more comfortable than jeans. I’m short and curvy– okay fat– and it’s hard to find jeans that fit properly without actually going to a store and trying on a whole lot of them. I also find jeans uncomfortable. The heavy seams and stiff fabric are not pleasant to me, so it’s not so often you’ll catch me wearing them these days. I particularly dislike how jeans have that low rise fly, which just accentuates my beer gut. Leggings can just be pulled on and stretch to accommodate everything. I don’t wear them today, but I can see why some women like them. I do think it’s wise to use good judgment and discernment when dressing. I wouldn’t wear them to church, which is one scenario White complains about in her letter. But then, I don’t often go to church anymore. I’m sure a lot of ministers/priests/holy people are less concerned about what a person wears to church and more concerned that they have butts in the pews and money in the offering plates.

I do understand Ms. White’s angst about leggings. They aren’t always a good fashion choice for everyone, at least in terms of aesthetics. However, that’s the kind of thing that is in the eye of the beholder. What may be offensive to one set of eyes is pleasurable to another. And it’s very difficult for people to please everyone. I run into that concept a lot as a blogger. I get snippy comments from people who don’t like what I write and complain, while others continue to read and even praise me. Women and girls can certainly eliminate leggings from their wardrobes, but then still offend people by wearing jeans or short skirts.

I think that it’s up to the “Catholic moms” (and all the other parents) to teach their children that people are worthy of basic respect no matter what they’re wearing. Maryann White says it’s hard to teach her sons that all women are someone’s wives, mothers, daughters, etc. What she doesn’t seem to grasp is the fact that women are not merely “someone’s anything”. Women are “someones” in and of themselves.

Chances are excellent that male hormones will surge regardless of what women choose to wear. Furthermore, it’s exhausting for females to keep trying to figure out which rules they should follow in order to be “respectable” in the eyes of people like Maryann White. It’s not up to girls and women to protect boys and men from their “lustful” thoughts. It’s up to everyone to exercise self-control of their own thoughts and actions.

I don’t think Maryann White’s letter has done much to convince anyone not to wear leggings anymore. People have become so up in arms about White’s comments that she’s inspired people to host “Leggings Pride Days”. They’re posting pictures of themselves in leggings all over social media. So, instead of shaming women back into long skirts and jeans, White has probably made the situation more acute.

The point is– what a person wears doesn’t define his or her worth. The human body is beautiful and complex and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. So, Maryann White, don’t “slut shame” girls and women for wearing leggings. Teach your sons that women and girls are people worthy of respect and self-determination. I’m sure that such a caring “Catholic mother” such as yourself is up to the challenge.


Who is this Menstrual Moderator, anyway?

I got curious about Scott Lloyd, Trump’s former head of the Office of Refugee Reassignment (ORR), so I went Googling after I wrote yesterday’s second blog post about how Lloyd has been barring pregnant migrant teens who were raped from accessing abortions. I discovered that Mr. Lloyd, like me, went to college in Virginia. He graduated from James Madison University, which had been my first choice school. Alas, they rejected me. Their loss.

Lloyd then went on to attend law school at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. In law school, back in the fall of 2004, Mr. Lloyd shared a six page essay he wrote with about 80 of his fellow students. It was for a course called Catholic Social Teaching, which explored religious, ethical, and legal thinking on issues including abortion, health care, and poverty. In the essay, Mr. Lloyd wrote about how, as a young man, he had gotten a woman pregnant and she had opted to have an abortion against his wishes. Although Mr. Lloyd had accompanied his former partner to an abortion clinic and helped pay for the procedure (mostly in one dollar bills), he was clearly very upset by the memory. He wrote:

“The truth about abortion, is that my first child is dead, and no woman, man, Supreme Court, or government—NOBODY—has the right to tell me that she doesn’t belong here.” 

So… because Scott Lloyd had premarital sex with someone he had no plans to marry, and evidently did not choose to use a condom, he thinks he has the right to dictate to every other woman what she should be doing with her uterus. His personal experience with “knocking someone up”, and then his anguish over her decision to choose abortion, has put him on the path to taking away other women’s rights to choose. But not before he became so distraught over his former partner’s choice to have an abortion that he developed a drinking problem that led him to passing out on park benches and elevators and once even got arrested for disorderly intoxication.

I don’t want to diminish Mr. Lloyd’s pain. I do have some empathy for men who want to raise their offspring. Unfortunately, when it comes to pregnancy, there simply isn’t an equal playing field. Until the fetus is fully gestated, it remains a part of the mother’s body. Pregnancy remains a risky situation for some women. It can lead to health problems or even death. Add in the personal costs to having children– the medical bills, potential of lost income, career delays, and everything else that comes with childbearing, which very often falls to the mother, and I can’t agree that the father should have a say in whether or not the mother chooses abortion. I will never agree that it’s a man’s right to force a woman to stay pregnant. The idea of that is completely repugnant to me, almost as much as the idea of abortion is.

That’s right. I am personally– for myself, that is– against abortion. I doubt I would have ever chosen it, and since I’m 46 years old and about to be menopausal, I doubt it will ever be an issue I’ll face. But I can’t say that I absolutely wouldn’t choose it. I don’t think most women plan to have abortions or wish for them. Maybe a few women become jaded when it comes to that procedure, but for most, I’m sure it’s a very difficult decision and traumatic experience. It’s also a very personal choice, especially since the woman who makes it will have to live with her decision for the rest of her life. And while men certainly play a crucial part in creating life, it’s the women’s bodies that make life possible and women are the ones who assume every physical risk during pregnancy.

Mr. Lloyd now lives in beautiful Front Royal, Virginia. I have been to Front Royal. It’s the kind of place where I’d enjoy settling down someday. It’s at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and not far from Washington, DC. In 1993 and 94, I worked at a summer camp not far from Front Royal, which at least in those days, maintained some rural charm. Front Royal has a burgeoning Catholic community, of which Lloyd is very much involved. It’s the location of Christendom College, a Catholic liberal arts college which was recently in the news for mishandling a sexual assault case.

Lloyd attends St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church with his wife and seven children, where the average family includes at least six kids and there hasn’t been a teen pregnancy in fifteen years. Although it’s been a long time since I was last in Front Royal, it sounds kind of like it’s turned into a town much like my mom’s hometown of Buena Vista, Virginia, which has become a LDS mecca since some Mormon investors purchased her alma mater, Southern Seminary Junior College and turned it into Southern Virginia University.

I have never really had a problem with Catholics. I seem to attract them. Hell, before Bill was LDS, he was Catholic and has said if he were to go back to church, he’d probably choose to be Catholic again. However, just as there are extreme Protestants, there are extreme Catholics. The problem with extreme religions of any stripe is that they hijack a person’s common sense and make them believe that they have the right to make laws based on their world views. You see, I don’t think someone like Scott Lloyd has any business whatsoever serving in the federal government. The government in the United States is supposed to be separate from religion and an individual’s religious beliefs. As we can see by Lloyd’s actions as former head of the ORR, those extreme religious beliefs can cause a person to think they are doing the right thing when they rely on those beliefs to act outside of the law.

Scott Lloyd had absolutely NO RIGHT to be tracking the menstrual periods and pregnancies of minor aged migrant girls who are living in shelters run by the ORR. In the United States, women still have the right to access abortions. Mr. Lloyd abused his position as “guardian” of minor aged migrant girls by refusing to allow them to access abortions. Just because they aren’t United States citizens, that does not give him the right to deny them basic civil rights or hold them hostage. Reading about his actions yesterday made me feel nauseous. It’s as if he sees these girls, who were babies themselves not that long ago, as mere “vessels”. They’re just there to incubate the unborn… and then, once those babies are born, they might regain some of their own individual rights. It’s a wonder anyone gets pregnant in the United States these days.

I think now that he’s been exposed, Scott Lloyd should be fired from government service. If he wants to work as an anti-abortion activist, he should either do it on his personal time or get a job in the private sector. Unfortunately, until Trump is evicted from the White House, Lloyd will probably continue his campaign of harassing these young girls who simply need help and understanding as they launch into their lives. Lloyd justifies his actions because some woman he impregnated dared to defy his wishes and claim ownership of her body. For that reason, Lloyd is on a personal crusade, not just to rid the United States of abortion, but also birth control. It’s absolutely insane. In fact, I’d say he needs a therapist. But, according to Mother Jones, Mr. Lloyd has been given a new role, since he so badly fucked up as former head of the ORR (all of those migrant children he cares so deeply about who are now separated from their parents), he’s going to be involved in outreach to religious communities with The Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives.

Well… maybe that job will be a better fit for ol’ Scott. He had no experience working with refugees before he was in his last job, just lots of experience trying to strip women of their reproductive choices. It sounds like Faith and Opportunity Initiatives might be more along the lines of suitability for Lloyd… although really, he should be working in the private sector. Government employees should not be allowed to pursue their personal agendas using taxpayer dollars.