We had an incident at school this week that returned me to a puzzling question: Does clothing count?
Apparently one of our young men (yes the ones who still chase each other around to tackle them, bring cars, and play with tech deck finger skateboards) cat-called one of our teachers. I named the teacher I thought would be cat called and it was affirmed.
Now I’m going to state right off that she was covered collar bone to carpet. She was wearing two shirts (light t’s), wide legged trouser jeans, and her “morning” shoes. I know because I was in the office when she discussed her “morning shoes” (shoes you can walk in, not the heels she wears). At the time I was thinking to myself, “She has a REALLY cute figure.” She does. She’s just got this great presence. Yes, I would call her sexy. However, I doubt that was her intent. If you took the outfit and put it on me, you wouldn’t have the same affect. If you hung the clothing up, you wouldn’t buy it as sexy. It was just the right combination, but again, not deliberate (she teaches KIDS. She’s not weird. She DOES NOT want them. Trust me.).
When one of the cohorts was talked to about this, an example was brought up using another teacher. That teacher approached me yesterday not-so-happy because, as she points out, she doesn’t dress that way. It’s true; she doesn’t. She lives in layers (cold room) and work clothes that match what she’s teaching. However, she did point out that maybe some teachers should be talked to about “the way they dress.” She has definite attitudes about dress. I understand because I do to. It’s something that has always divided me from most feminists. I think that clothing is part of our non-verbal communication with the world.
I know that we, as a society, truly think it counts. We have shows dedicated to it: What Not to Wear, Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, something new with British chicks telling us what to wear (French I’d get. The British are now style matrons?), style sections on TV magazine and talk shows, and MAGAZINES devoted to clothing. This has to count. Why else would you (or others) worry about dressing like a hoochie mama, matronly, dumpy, frumpy, or boring?
The question really is: how MUCH does it count? Should a teacher be talked to because her figure is cute enough to get boys to react? If we took the clothes and returned them to hangers, would our judgment be the same? Does intent count? Which side should really be talked to, the boys for acting stupid; or the teacher for dressing in a way that would make Stacy and Clinton proud?
We’ve come full circle. Does clothing count?