Friday, February 17, 2012

Conservatives don't like seeing more skin at CPAC (or "A Defense of Tina Korbe")

Though I am a conservative when it comes to security issues, lately I have been ranting about the evils of another branch of conservatism, social conservatism.  Despite my opposition to things like illegal immigration and quotas and preferences based on race or gender, I actually consider myself a social liberal because, in general, I do not believe the government has the ability or the responsibilility to protect people from themselves; and I resent the determination of many on both sides of the political spectrum to force everyone into and make us conform to "boxes," whether political, cultural, racial, gender, ethnic, religious or whatnot.  As anyone who knows me personally can tell you, I don't fit into any box; hence the name of this blog. 

Specifically, I believe that drug use and prostitution by themselves are victimless crimes and should be legalized and taxed; the legal drinking age should be removed; I don't like abortion but I don't believe it's nearly the moral absolute that both sides think it is; I support legal protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered; I believe that birth control is moral and should be legal.  Yes, I am a proud ROMAN Catholic and, yes, I think the Church is flat-out wrong on birth control; their position is not, I believe, rooted in Scripture so much as it is rooted in a leadership consisting of only celibate men who seem to believe there is no reason for sex outside procreation.  I don't believe that just because a type of  conduct is "immoral,"
based on a typicaly subjective definition, that it follows such conduct should be illegal.  The only objective interest of government is to make sure such conduct does not hurt others.  Beyond that, shut up.

The theme I have been hitting is the town in the movie Footloose, Bomont (though who really remembers the name?), where dancing and music were banned because of some warped morality.  It's fictional and extreme, to be sure, but it's an analogy that is readily understandable.  The town in Footloose sucked.  It was a boring, suffocating place where one preacher's definition of "morality" was imposed on the whole town.  Moviegoers would not have wanted to live there. 

And yet  that seems to be where social conservatives are determined to take us, or, more likely, what they want to impose on us, by legal or other means.  They want a nanny state every bit as much as "big government" progressives do.

The latest evidence? The controversey about convention for CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee.  Anything about the presidential candidates? Nope. The political positions? Uh-uh.  The idiocy of Ron Paul? Hardly.  It was stuff like this:

Can't you see it? I mean, not the odious Rick Santorum.  It's Tina Korbe, whose skirt is (horrors!) "too short," at least according to conservative blogggers like Robert Stacy McCain:
Our keen-eyed readers will note that at the 0:28 mark of the video, Miss Korbe gives a little tug at the hem of her skirt and, not to get all Melissa Clouthier about it or anything, some folks might say that’s kind of a telltale clue that your skirt’s too doggone short.
And you would know this how? Have you had any experience wearing a skirt of any kind, let alone a short one? I'd salute you if you had -- takes definite strength for a guy to wear a skirt -- but my guess is you have not.  So how would you know?

Now, don't get me wrong. I normally like Robert Stacy McCain.  He's a great blogger. But on this? Playing into every negative conservative stereotype.
I hesitate to judge a lady’s morals merely because she feels obliged to follow contemporary fashion.
How big of you.
For example, I think tattoos and pierced bellybuttons are two of the tackiest things in the world, but I’m pretty sure not every woman with tattoos and a pierced bellybutton is a whore.

Most of them? Sure, but not all of them.
I don't like tattoos, either.  Granted, there is a reason the lower back tattoo is called a "tramp stamp." But I know very few people with tattoos, even tramp stamps, who are actually tramps.  And I don't judge them as such.
Similarly, short skirts and exposed cleavage do not necessarily signal that a woman is up for some action with any dude who’ll give her the price of another hit of methamphetamine. It is true that many hookers dress that way, but not every woman who dresses that way is a hooker.
So, typical attire for prostitutes is a navy blue business suit with a short skirt, white blouse and pantyhose? Wow! Haven't been walking Washington Street lately, have you? Or Hollywood and Vine, for that matter?

It’s not just McCain, however.  Thoughts and Rantings:
Tina, you are a Catholic, try actually dressing like one and not like some office “MILF” looking for a place up the corporate ladder. I did not even watch the video; I was that sickened by what I saw and I am sure that Rick Santorum just loved being next to a chick that was essentially him a peep show of her hoo haa. (if you know what I mean….)
As, you know, an actual Catholic, I very much appreciate a non-Catholic telling us Catholics how to dress "Catholic."  Catholic women are just as allowed to wear miniskirts as anyone else.  If you don't like it, that's your problem.
Because you see, this right here is one of the biggest reasons, in litany of other reasons; why I left the Evangelical, Pentecostal Christian circles and went back to the Independent, Fundamental, KJV Baptist Circles. It was the, “We’re Christians and we love Jesus; but don’t ask us to dress like it, talk like it or not drink bear and not wear mini-skirts!” thing that really put me off. In fact, I went to a Church just like that and it got the point where I just did not even want to go there, because of the lack of a dress code. Some men might actually like that kind of thing; but when you are trying to serve the Lord and keep your mind pure and your Heart right, when you are single man, and you have to look at that sort of thing —- it wears on you greatly
So, in other words, you don’t want women to dress scantily because you can’t handle it. Doesn't get more subjective than that.  Talk about imposing your view on others.

By the way, unless you can point to me the Bible chapter and verse where the miniskirt is prohibited, you might want to shut up about how wearing a miniskirt is "un-Christian."  Last time I checked, the prostitutes in Christ's time, as well as the Renaissance and Victorian England, wore long skirts.  There is nothing un-Christian about wearing a miniskirt. And there never has been a dress code for church. People used to dress up for church not for religious reasons, but to show off for their friends. The term “Sunday-best” came about because most people worked blue-collar jobs for which they could never dress up. Church on Sunday was the only chance they had to do so, and they took it.  Simple as that.

Do either of you even know why women like to wear short skirts? I have a theory, that I will express below, but I won't pretend to actually know why, and I certainly won't arbitrarily assign to them the negative reasons that you are.  You assume they either want to look like hos and sluts, or that they don’t know that they do. Did it ever occur to you that they don’t believe that their miniskirts and cleavage qualify them to look like hookers? Or even that it should qualify them to look like hookers? Maybe, you know, they just like they way it looks? Or like the way it feels? More on that later.

The worst is Melissa Clouthier:
Women will be future leaders, too, and I was dismayed to see how many of them either looked frumpish or like two-bit whores.
First, are these young people being taught anything by their parents? I was at another service-oriented gathering of young women where the girls were in tight bandeau-skirts (you know, the kind of tube-top skirts that hookers wear on street corners?). They were sitting with their mothers. What is going on here?
Um, maybe they liked the skirts?
Second, have women so internalized feminist dogma that they see themselves in only two ways? Butch, men-lite wannabes or 3rd wave sluts who empower themselves by screwing every available horndog man?
Neither path is a way to self-love and respect, mind you. Both tracks will inhibit future success.
Women, if you’re at a conference where you’re learning to be a future politician or wish to succeed in the business of politics, dress the part. No, you don’t have to be in a business suit with pearls. However, modesty is a minimum. So:
1. No cleavage.That’s right. Cover that up. I say “no” in absolutist terms because women will show a tiny bit and that’s okay, but really, in a business environment where ideas are the priority, a dude thinking about your ta-tas is counter-productive.
Wow. Such nice, respectful language.
2. Skirts no more than three finger-widths above the knee. Why do I even have to write this? Well, because someone is allowing these girls out of the house with mini-skirts that reveal too much.
Well, they reveal too much in Clouthier's opinion.  She thinks that opinion should be Gospel.  I don't.
3. Save the stilettos for Saturday night on a date with your boyfriend.
Some consider women's shoes to be an art form.  But I guess conservatives really don't like art.
4. Bend at the knee. No, I don’t want to see your butt.
My guess is the feeling is mutual.  But I can't fault Clouthier that much here; it's also good advice for anyone, especially plumbers.
Young women, you degrade your own value by dressing and then acting the ho.
Funny, all the examples you gave were about dressing; none were about acting.

And they wonder why they never get the youth vote?  With crap like this?

Again, Tina Korbe (and in fairness Clouthier was not criticizing her directly, but was criticizing the dress in general) was wearing a navy blue suit with a short skirt, white blouse and pantyhose. That’s the mark of a “ho?” You gotta be kidding me.

To be fair, the men at CPAC come in for a drubbing of their own, but with a critical difference. RedState’s Erick Erickson:

I am more than a bit shocked by the young men at CPAC this year who just seemingly refuse to grow up or act their age. More troubling, while in 2005 it seemed to be just college kids, as the years have passed it is not just the 18 to 21 year old set, but the twenty and thirty somethings who just can’t seem to grow up. It’s like they started out at CPAC this way in college and each year at their CPAC reunion descend back to their freshman year rush week.
This is more and more common in society and none of us should expect that a behavior increasingly common in society should not spill over into any event including CPAC, but just because something is common does not mean it is responsible or acceptable.
We can be thankful that CPAC is not like the communications war room at Media Matters. But it should be much more than that. The young men and women who go to CPAC are often present or future leaders on their college campuses and within the conservative movement. They go to CPAC and are often on near equal terms at CPAC with people much older than themselves. Unfortunately, too many treat CPAC like spring break.
More than a few of the twenty and thirty somethings who go to CPAC seem to treat it like an extension of their college days doing their best to hook up before passing out. It’s not the majority to be sure, but it is a noticeable minority.
I am not even sure that there is a solution to the problem. But we should not think it is anything but a problem. It is not every young man, but there are many. They risk dragging the whole affair down to some bawdy, rowdy distraction. They risk embarrassing themselves and the conservative movement. They risk the perception premised on their own actions that conservative men of a certain age think that good manners and decorum around women of the same age is unneeded or unwanted.
This is not to say CPAC cannot and should not be fun. This is not to say that CPAC cannot and should not be a party. But it is to say that I hope the college groups bussing in students next year, the out of college set there to network, and CPAC itself encourage behavior we all too often don’t talk about anymore in our society — the behavior of gentlemen. Eat, drink, smoke, be merry, but be chivalrous too. There really is, regardless of your age, no need to play the cad at CPAC to score points with conservative ladies.
I myself have never cared for the fraternity subculture in Republican circles; Ohio State was a place where the Greek system was only tolerated. With good reason.  That said, I've been to enough GOP conventions and functions to know that such conduct is not limited to young men.

But do you see the difference? Erickson is criticizing the actions of the men, while Clouthier McCain and Thoughts are criticizing the clothes of the women. The actions of the women don’t seem to matter to them, only their clothes. So who is objectifying the women here?

This is standard style over substance. Forget about judging someone by the color of the skin or the content of their character. Clouthier and friends see fit to judge women solely by their clothes.

And women should find it insulting.

Clouthier does hit a column by Pat Archbold from last December I’ve been meaning to discuss on “The Death of Pretty”:

Pretty, pretty is dying.
People will define pretty differently.  For the purposes of this piece, I define pretty as a mutually enriching balanced combination of beauty and projected innocence.
Once upon a time, women wanted to project an innocence.  I am not idealizing another age and I have no illusions about the virtues of our grandparents, concupiscence being what it is.  But some things were different in the back then.  First and foremost, many beautiful women, whatever the state of their souls, still wished to project a public innocence and virtue.  And that combination of beauty and innocence is what I define as pretty.
By nature, generally when men see this combination in women it brings out their better qualities, their best in fact.  That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.
Young women today do not seem to aspire to pretty, they prefer to be regarded as hot. Hotness is something altogether different.  When women want to be hot instead of pretty, they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well.
As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend.  Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity.  Its value is temporary and must be used.  It is a consumable.
Nowhere is this pretty deficit more obvious than in our “stars,” the people we elevate as the “ideal.”  The stars of the fifties surely suffered from the same sin as do stars of today.  Stars of the fifties weren’t ideal but they pursued a public ideal different from today.
The merits of hotness over pretty is easy enough to understand, they made an entire musical about it.  Who can forget how pretty Olivia Newton John was at the beginning of Grease.  Beautiful and innocent.  But her desire to be desired leads her to throw away all that is valuable in herself in the vain hopes of getting the attention of a boy.  In the process, she destroys her innocence and thus destroys the pretty.  What we are left with is hotness.
Hotness is a consumable.  A consumable that consumes as it is consumed but brings no warmth.
Most girls don’t want to be pretty anymore even if they understand what it is.  It is ironic that 40 years of women’s liberation has succeeded only in turning women into a commodity.  Something to be used up and thrown out.
I generally agree with the column. It is certainly much more difficult to find "pretty" anymore.  For me, personally, I find “pretty” to be far, far more attractive than “hot.” And I found Olivia Newton John at the end of Grease to be completely unattractive. But I tend to think Archbold's reasoning here is a bit warped.

Maybe I’m in a minority on this, but “pretty” is much different than “hot.” I would not define “pretty” the same way Archbold does, though. Not sure how I would define it, actually; I might start with Archbold’s definition of “mutually enriching balanced combination of beauty and projected innocence” and add “that inspires emotional and physical attraction.”(No, I’m not forgetting intellectual attraction, but that is independent of looks.)

But “hot” is something completely different, not totally related to looks. Again, I might be in a minority on this, but to me “hot” is more akin to “a dog in heat” – it creates or is intended to create an animal reaction independent of emotion. That intent to create an “animal” reaction usually leads to a desire to have sex, which as a result of the “animal” reaction is decoupled from emotion.

“Hot” not so much based on looks or how one dresses but in how one acts or projects themselves. You can be “pretty” in a miniskirt. It depends on how you carry yourself.

In that interview, Tina Korbe was, in my opinion, pretty. Very pretty. Good for her.

Which brings me back to why women wear miniskirts in the first place, or, more accurately, why I believe many of them do (based on my dimestore psychology). On this, I think Archbold (and Clouthier. And McCain. And Thoughts.) is wrong. It is likely not about anything consciously philosophical – most women who wear minis just like the way they look and feel. Some are doing it out of a senseof competition with other women. But one thing I have noticed is that most women who wear miniskirts seem to be more confident than those who are more “modest.” And this, to me, makes perfect sense.

Remember my earlier post that touched on this subject. It briefly discussed the role of women in history:

While I do not agree with the feminist criticism of marriage as a male-dominated institution created for the oppression of women, I can understand it. For eons, marriage was between one man and one woman –– with the man in control. Whether it was in ancient Greece, ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance or the Modern Period, the men (with a relatively few exceptions like Hatshepsut, Cleopatra, Zenobia, Jeanne d’Arc, Elizabeth I, etc.) ran things –– the men worked, the men earned the money, the men ran the money, the men went to war, the men decided when to go to war. The only power women consistently had was sexual –– and marriage limited that power. In fact, marriage, as it used to be interpreted, effectively surrendered that power to the husband, whether the wife wanted to or not.
This is why, as much as conservatives don’t like it, the sexual revolution was indeed about power. Women taking charge over their own bodies. Many conservatives don’t like the “sexualization” of popular culture. They don’t like promiscuity, They don’t like women in miniskirts with plunging necklines. I don’t care for promiscuity myself, but when for thousands of years the only power women had was restricted, that when they finally have the freedom they want to show that they have that power is completely understandable.
With the husband in control financially and socially, the wife was left with very few options if the marriage went bad. If it was abusive (physically, mentally or emotionally) or if it was just plain loveless. She was trapped.
Again, I must reiterate: the sexual revolution was about power. The only power women had for centuries was sexual, and that power was restricted by marriage. Now the sexual revolution has had some drawbacks, but I believe the good has far outweighed the bad. Women are now aware of that power, and, further, that while actually usintg that power creates complicated moral issues, there is nothing wrong with showing that power.

To be sure, men typicaly had sexual power as well, though they were along diffetent dimensions.  First, if a man wanted sex, he could force a woman into it, physically and otherwise.  Hardly something to be proud of.  Second, men were able to brag about their sexual "conquests" as indiocative of their "power." You still see that today.  Men who sleep with a lot of women are often celebrated; women who sleep with a lot of men are ridiculed.

Nevertheless, Sex was often the only advantage women had, and even though they weren't supposed to show it, even though it could rarely be used, on occasion it was indeed used – remember Cleopatra outmaneuvering the murderous regency council in charge of her rival for the Ptolemaic Egyptian throne by sleeping with Julius Caesar. To the extent there is anything philosophical about wearing a miniskirt – and if there is it is likely subconscious – it is about that power. Not using it by actually sleeping with someone, but showing it. Showing that they have it, and they know they have it. Just like men had showed off their power for centurier. And still do.

That, I think, is why women tend to be more confident in miniskirts than in longer skirts. The longer skirts keep them “modest” but subservient, keeping that power muted.

So the anger of Clouthier, et al at the dress of women at CPAC is really about conservative boxes – wanting to keep women in the box they occupied for centuries. Oh, they want women to have equal pay, equal rights, et al. I’m not arguing that they don’t. But they are holding women to a much different standard than men. And that is wrong.

People like Tina Korbe, a good blogger, should be celebrated.  The upcoming, young, smart, attractive women at CPAC should be celebrated.

Instead, conservatives choose to complain about their clothing.  No miniskirts.  They want the town in Footloose.  The conservative nanny state.

And they wonder why they consistently lose the youth vote.  And the women’s vote as well.

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