Monday, June 09, 2014

Bloggingheads, shorts

Readers of WWPD might be interested in watching me talk with Conor Friedersdorf for just over 67 minutes on a variety of topics, among them parental overshare. As it so happened, the latest truly egregious example of that phenomenon appeared after we recorded: a Slate piece in which the mother of a then-sixth-grader (this was in 2012) defends her daughter's right to wear some particular pair of shorts to school.

School dress codes are a perfectly legitimate topic for an article, and one I'd be happy to see addressed more often. By all means, discuss when they constitute slut-shaming, and when they're just about teaching children of both sexes to dress in a way that'll allow them to be taken seriously. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that I'm not a fan of school dress codes, for reasons I've explained earlier. (I do wonder, if the idea with uniforms is to shield girls from inappropriate male attention, who had the brilliant idea to make pleated miniskirts the uniform of choice. My recollection of being that age and having that uniform is that it didn't help matters.)

But! Why exactly must Slate's readership (2,400 comments - comments! - thus far) be presented with a photo of the child in the shorts in question? The idea being, clearly, that Slate readers are invited to give the photo a good examination and then provide their thoughts on whether or not the shorts are too short, whether or not the very young girl wearing them looks kinda skanky. Which... the commenters do. Obviously. This could have been anticipated. Surely it was anticipated, although whether it was anticipated that commenters would go into exactly what about the cut of the shorts made them revealing, in vaguely obscene terms, is anyone's guess. The mother's actual argument made sense. But why - why???? - would you subject your child to this?

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