Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Yesterday, I read about a 17 year old girl named Clare, who went to prom and was asked to leave because she looked so fierce, she was causing men to have impure thoughts. Actually, that's not the reason. The reason is because patriarchy and the war on sex. But Clare's dress did not break the preset dress code which stated the length of the dress must be long enough to extend beyond her fingertips when she had her arms by her side. Despite the fact Clare conformed to the nonsensical standards imposed on her, she was still singled out and shamed simply for being an attractive young woman.

The fingertip rule is perhaps the most irrational dress code standard young women face. I mean, do they think that short skirts and short shorts are going to cause the female genital organs to escape and randomly make their way into guys' pants? There is also the rule against spaghetti straps, because I guess showing one's shoulders is a surefire way to ensure you'll spend the majority of your day swatting away a swarm of penises. We won't even get into halter tops because stomachs are apparently a gateway drug that lead straight to stripper poles. It's a wonder how any young woman survives a day at the beach without getting raped.


I don't own a single summer outfit I could wear if I had to live under these ridiculous rules. And while I do own a few outfits that make other people's parents say, "I would never let MY daughter wear THAT," (some of which my dad has bought for me BTW) most of my clothes are just regular clothes. I have a lot of guy friends, some of whom aren't gay, and I have never once caught them looking at my body parts during a conversation nor have any of them tried to touch me inappropriately. Even if I'm going out on the weekend and decide to wear something completely baddastical, my friends are the ones who will put the smackdown on anyone who tries to act on any "impure thoughts" they might have.

I owe this to the fact that my bullshit tolerance is below the 3% threshold and I refuse to hang out with idiots. The men in my life all have mothers and sisters and girlfriends. The women in their lives have had open conversations with them about how to treat and support women, and they are genuinely interested in doing just that. Sure, the ones who like women sometimes have the pure and honorable thought that a woman they see is attractive and sometimes they even fantasize, but they know how to act appropriately toward those women and respect their boundaries.

I also have girlfriends who don't feel comfortable wearing short shorts or showing their stomachs. They don't deserve to have a message sent to them by society that they are anything but on equal footing with Beyonce. It's up to each individual woman to decide what she wears based on nothing other than what she's comfortable and confident in wearing. In the end, women and the men who actually matter fully understand where our true beauty lies.

You show me a fingertip rule and I'll show you my middle finger. Not only are such rules completely illogical, they contribute to the continuation of a patriarchal society. They place boundaries on women based on a stereotypical idea of manhood. They send the message to men who don't have mothers and sisters and girlfriends they care about and converse with that short shorts and spaghetti straps are a signal a woman wants sex. My mother's mother had to protest at her high school in order to be able to wear pants to school. We women have come a long way since then, but we still have a long way to go.

We haven't come this far by sitting at home and waiting for our legislators to call. Women and the men who support them have gotten out there and worked for the rights women have now. And it's imperative that young women and the men who support them exercise the influence we have over our lawmakers, stand up to our authority figures, and use our voices to continue to erode both the patriarchy and the war on sexuality.

To Clare, let's change this world together, sister. Keep speaking out. This one's for you:                                                                                                                                                      


  1. Great song Madison, this 60 year old likes it and I love your work.

  2. How old are you?
    Where do you live?????????

    How has anyone raised in North Carolina developed your kind of mind and insight at such a young age?

    You have remarkable gifts, both as a writer and as an observer of the human condition. Please never lose them, or treat them with disrespect. We need your voice.

    Richard Leighton

    1. Not all of us are like the idiots that get the media coverage. N.C. was on the verge of becoming a more liberal and moderate state before Art Pope's money bought our government.

  3. Way to tell them ! I read that and was not surprised by the parents attitude. I ran a roller rink for 9 years with my husband and 4 children. The Christian church groups and religious schools were the worst customers. We had a complaint one night because we all smiled. We must be having sinful thoughts! Yes, the preacher actually told us that after adults complained. They saw sin and evil in every thing. That is why we need young people like you to stand up to these idiots and let them know how ridiculous they are.

  4. And the no legging rule. Let's not forget that the mere fact that girls/women have legs can drive boys/men to such distraction that they cannot possibly function, even if those leggs are completely encased in cloth.

  5. Bingo. You rule. Looking forward to the day your voice reaches everybody who so desperately needs to hear it.

  6. Slow clap for "swatting away a swarm of penises." That is all.

  7. The entire argument that women are somehow responsible for men's inappropriate thoughts is old, like... MIDDLE AGES old, and tiring, no matter what culture is spitting it out. I don't accept it in the US, and I won't accept it anywhere else in the world, either. Get a grip and grow up, guys. You are responsible for your own thoughts and feelings. Quit whining like children about what someone else MADE you think or feel. No one is listening anymore.

  8. Well-written and poignant! Keep on spreading the word...

  9. if thats her picture at the top of the page, a twelve year old should be dressing like that no matter what you believe in or dont believe in.

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  11. Sorry you found my last post offensive. It was really not my intention to offend. I've now read all of your blog posts for May so I can see that you address the issue of women's dress several times. Originally, I had you pegged as being belligerent but after having viewed some of your Youtube videos I can see you are probably not like that at all. (Assuming you are anything like your character in real-life.) Still, I would like to know what your idea of fair dress code is? Is it just or reasonable for a school or a business to set a dress code for its student or employees?

  12. The fingertip rule is perhaps the most irrational dress code standard young women face. I mean, do they think that short skirts and short shorts ...