Thursday, November 15, 2007

Montesquieu and leggings-as-pants

Who knew?

Montesquieu and fashion are both worthwhile subjects, so I like the idea behind this article. Not sure what to make of this, though:

Many Americans do feel threatened [...] by young men, especially black young men under voluminous folds of denim, whether their underwear is showing or not. It seems to me that our fundamental objection is not the occasional exposure, but the impression of concealment. The uniform of the streets has a burka-like quality. In an era when women barely cover themselves, why are young men awash in fabric from head to toe? What are they hiding? Perhaps drugs or guns—or maybe just themselves. It is a costume of alienation, and seeing these slouching, shrouded figures alienates us in turn, while at the same time seeming to embody a kind of accusation. We respond with law and order: at least we can make you pull your pants up and look like you fit in.

The subtle switch from the feelings of many Americans to those of the author, Diana Schaub, is a disturbing example of what the post-PC era has brought us. It is now acceptable to announce that one assumes a young black man in baggy clothing has drugs and guns on his person. We can also assume that Jews' pockets are filled with sacks of gold pieces gotten through usury or the Israel lobby; that professors' tweedy pockets and worn-leather satchels are filled with Marxist gender-studies journals; that Asian kids with backpacks are carrying violin music and Multivariate Calculus textbooks, that...

Later in the article:

"When nothing else works, try tweaking the offenders’ masculinity."

By "offenders" she means those who wear sagging pants, but the double-meaning is clear. The pants imply crime, so rather than fighting crime, we must fight... pants. Perhaps a clever rap song can be written encouraging young black men to make the same switch young women of all races have made in NYC of late: leggings! The thing about leggings is that they conceal nothing.

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