As the days heat up and we rapidly approach the official start of summer (see: the crown of frizz now living along my hairline), I’ve stumbled across parents who are dead set against their daughters wearing bikinis. As a girl mom and a woman, I was intrigued. Is belly flesh really that scandalous? What makes bikinis so different and so much less appropriate than their one-piece counterparts? I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around it, but I needed to. The deeper I dug, though, the more pissed off I got.
The basic motivation behind a bikini ban is good: parents (usually fathers) feel they are in some way protecting their daughters by not allowing them to show their bellies. Now, I can totally get behind the idea of protecting my babies. There is no mama bear fiercer than I am. But can we take a second to acknowledge how completely fucked up that logic is?
There is no piece of clothing that will make your daughter more or less safe.
Whether you fear boys, pedophiles or the boogie man, your daughter’s choice of clothes changes nothing. A piece of fabric is not capable of making bad things happen or stopping them from happening. Bad people will do bad things. Is that scary? Hell yeah, it’s scary. But we can’t teach our girls that they need to dress a certain way to avoid unwanted attention. Changing their clothes does not make them safer. In fact, if anything, feeding them that logic makes them less safe. They can’t grow up thinking that if they just dress a certain way, they’ll have this magical shield around them.
Also, is this the same logic you would use on your son? Does he also have to cover his belly flesh in order to help ward off harm or unwanted attention? I didn’t think so.
Whether we realize it or not, this is exactly where the idea starts to take shape that women who dress a certain way are “asking for it”—and that’s a pretty heavy view for a girl to have to carry. I’m sure this isn’t the message you’re trying to convey, but, like it or not, it’s exactly what you’re saying. And even if your daughter doesn’t understand that right away, ultimately what you are teaching her is that women who show off their bodies are “giving men the wrong idea.”
Well, I’d like to take a second to say BULLSHIT.
That is some backward rape culture logic. Instead of teaching girls from infancy through adulthood to walk on eggshells around men and the ideas that may pop into their heads (which, according to this logic, they are completely incapable of controlling), we need to teach all of our children about respect and consent. We need to make sure that men don’t feel like they’re entitled to whatever they want and that they know that women are human beings, not objects to be conquered. We need to teach our daughters not to be ashamed of their bodies and teach our sons that they are in control of their own actions. The blame cannot and will not be shifted if they make a bad choice.
We need get rid of this idea that a person who has been taken advantage of is in some way to blame. They aren’t. It’s really that simple. Whether your dress is tight or you drank too much, you are not to blame. Women cannot carry the weight of all of the possible actions a man might take. And neither can our girls.
So when you see us at the beach or the pool this summer, my daughters will be the ones wearing whatever the hell they want.