If we have equal rights, why do women’s uniforms get skimpier every year?
The women’s rights movement was launched on a nationally organized level in 1848. It only took seventy-two years from that time for women to secure the right to vote. The 19th Amendment, which guaranteed all people the right to vote, was passed in 1920.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
If you count the moment the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was first signed — and I do — that makes 144 years for women to get the right to vote in this country. Hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns since then. Societal norms and mores have meant that women were still treated as second-class citizens.
We couldn’t apply for and get a credit card in our names until 1974, and even today, I hear stories from friends of mine that businesses won’t give them a quote for home improvement work without their husband present. Some things change, some don’t.
Unfortunately, women still make 82.3% of what a man makes. These inequities are seen across many facets of our lives. For many years, women athletes didn’t have the same opportunities to compete in high school and college sports that men had. In fact, it took the passage of the Education Amendments Act and Title IX to change things.
In 1972, Title IX was passed as part of the Education Amendments Act. According to the NCAA, the law stated: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Title IX also meant that men’s and women’s teams would have access to the same facilities and training programs. That’s part of the reason there was such outrage at the recent NCAA Basketball tournament. The men’s training facility was huge, and the women’s facility was basically a walk-in closet with a yoga mat and one rack of weights.
We’ve worked hard to level the playing field, so to speak. It makes me wonder if we aren’t working against these rights we’ve secured by oversexualizing ourselves. I first started thinking about this as I watched the Grammy Awards this year.
Two women artists spent their 4 and 1/2 minutes on stage, twerking and writhing on the floor. Did I mention they were wearing what can only be described as high wasted bikinis and over-the-knee boots? At one point, they even twerked and gyrated on a giant bed.
I guess these performances could be considered progress as the artists “took control” of their sexuality in the performance, but I’m still wondering if they could have done that in a nice sleek black dress. As women do we risk not being taken seriously when we dress in costumes and uniforms that can easily be mistaken for undergarments?
We send the wrong message when on one hand, we demand the same rights as men and then dress in costumes that you wouldn’t wear to your neighborhood grocery store.
It seems like every pop or hip-hop singer who’s female has fallen prey to the trend of showing more of their butt than most doctors see during a colonoscopy. And on Grammy night, I doubt few people were talking about the performance, they were zeroed in on the performers. By contrast, male artists can wear jeans and a t-shirt and be just as successful.
Music isn’t the only place where women display their gifts. I’ve seen this in women’s sports too. It seems like every leotard on every gymnast in college athletics shows half their butts. How can they concentrate on running, bouncing, and flipping in the air when their leotard is giving them the mother of all wedgies? That’s not the only sport where the uniforms seem to get skimpier every season.
With the Olympics finally coming up this year, we will see a range of sports we don’t see most years. Beach volleyball is one, It’s exciting, but Olympic sponsors must hold their breath for the moment one of the players has a wardrobe malfunction. Why is it necessary for women to participate in that sport in such skimpy uniforms? The men by comparison wear longer shorts every season. Why is it that they show less skin when the women must show more? Clearly, it’s not performance-related. It seems like Title IX should extend to uniforms too.
Track and field is the same way. The men perform perfectly well in tank tops and shorts. The women, however, seem to wear smaller uniforms each year. The uniform for some events now resembles what can only be described as a tank top and panties. I wear more to sleep on a hot summer night.
By contrast, swimming — the one sport where a skimpy uniform would make sense — has actually placed performance first. The tech suits women and men swimmers wear are designed to prevent drag in the water. The result is a suit for women the extends almost to the knee. While this uniform may not be as flattering as a little bikini would be, it allows the athletes to focus on why they are at the competition in the first place — to compete.
I don’t want to sound like a prude, I just wonder if we shoot ourselves in the collective foot, when we choose to dress in a manner that may only serve to fuel men’s fantasies of women. We fought hard for our rights, it would be a shame to lose them because we aren’t properly dressed.
If we want to truly be equals, then we need to dress the part. That’s all.