Exposed skin on campus harms nobody

Short shorts draw attention on campus

Short shorts draw attention on campus

by Kenneth Leonard

The impetus behind this column was a text message I received from a female colleague here at The Aztec. She was lamenting the proliferation of short, booty-exposing shorts among the female student body here at San Diego State. From her perspective, the amount of exposed buttcheek on campus was too damn high.

I’ve got to admit, I had noticed this phenomenon. “This would make for an interesting pro/con column,” I thought. However, after discussing the unusually high amount of visible badonkadonk on campus this semester, I’ve discovered a deficiency when it comes to good arguments against girls being able to wear whatever they want.

In 2013, what reasons could there be to suggest women dress more modestly? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure people have reasons. I’m wondering about reasons that aren’t misogynistic or rooted in religious tradition. I’ve been looking for an appeal to modesty that is truly rooted in a concern for the well-being of women and I just can’t find one.

If you wear short shorts at SDSU, some people may get upset or offended by your fashion choice, but this isn’t your problem. An observer’s response to your appearance is completely his or her own responsibility. You have the freedom to wear whatever you want to, and rightfully so. Your choices may not be stylish or tasteful. They may not even be an accurate representation of who you are on the inside, but the fact that you have the freedom to wear whatever the hell you want is a good and necessary thing.

There are very few objectively wrong fashion decisions from an ethical perspective because fashion isn’t usually a moral issue. The law certainly has a perspective when it comes to gratuitous exposure of certain body parts or public displays of certain hateful or offensive words, slogans or symbols, but the human body isn’t a dirty or shameful thing. Some cultural and religious movements have advanced the idea that women should keep themselves covered up for various reasons, but dogmatic ways of thinking have no place at a university. The student body at SDSU should free itself from the oppression of groupthink, no matter where it comes from.

If you wear short shorts because it’s what you think you’re expected to do, you’re being oppressed by someone else’s ideology, which is wrong. Likewise, if you keep your body covered up because someone else tells you to, it’s time to reconsider who’s in charge of your life.

Whether you choose to wear Daisy Dukes or a burqa, your choice should be your own and nobody else’s. I’ve witnessed women on campus being criticized for wearing too little or too much, and it just needs to stop. In 2013 it should be self-evident that nobody has the right to make any sweeping generalizations restricting how people dress.

While there are no objective moral problems with wearing short shorts, there are significant moral problems with spreading a culture of slut-shaming. Philosophies that demean women or otherwise target them for engaging in natural behavior are wrong. Nobody should be made to feel inferior or guilty for wearing short shorts.

If morality is determined by an assessment of factors contributing to the promotion of human happiness and the prevention of suffering, it becomes easy to see the reasons why slut-shaming is harmful — it doesn’t promote anyone’s wellbeing and it spreads suffering by encouraging people to feel bad about things they shouldn’t feel bad about. All slut-shaming does is allow people to feel superior to others for stupid reasons.

If an individual interprets the shortness of shorts as an expression of sexuality and condemns such an expression, that individual is wrong because their methods of judging the harmfulness of short shorts are fundamentally flawed. Ask yourself, who is actually harmed when girls wear short shorts to school?

Ladies, I encourage you to figure out your own purpose for dressing however you want, commit to it, and forget about anyone else’s opinions about your outfit.

Read Madison Hopkins’ Con column