Huckabee: Totally Into Fashion…But Not in a Gay Way! More in a Controlling Women Sorta Way.

Via Jeff Fecke, I see that GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has taken a brave stand against miniskirts:

Q: I read that you’re against miniskirts.

A: If a person dresses provocatively, they’re calling attention — maybe not the most desirable kind — to private parts of their body.

Q: What about a burka?

A: No, that hides everything. I think a person’s hair, arms, shoulders, legs are an appropriate display of who they are. I want people to be attracted to me because they find me interesting, not because I’m wearing something … well, I doubt I own anything provocative.

(Huckabee goes on to confirm he does not own a miniskirt, but says he does own a thong. And no, I’m not kidding.)

What do you think Huckabee means when he says that “If a person dresses provocatively, they’re calling attention—maybe not the most desirable kind—to private parts of their body”? I think, first of all, that he’s not talking about “persons” at all, but “female persons.” And I think this not just because male persons don’t typically wear miniskirts, but also because what Huckabee is saying there just doesn’t get said about male persons.

Anyway, Huckabee was careful enough to say what he did as though he could be talking about, oh say, merely attracting the kind of person who wouldn’t love you for who you really are, gosh darn golly and shucks, and his awareness of the notion to which he wanted to pander makes his unwillingness to come right out and say it plainly all the more loathsome. Which is why, when Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali came right out and said about women who were raped, “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside … without cover, and the cats come to eat it … whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred,” my response was: “the surprising thing about this incident, as far as I’m concerned, is not that it was said; it’s that people are so outraged about it, nearly unanimously, when things like this are said—and reinforced, via action and attitude—about women all the time, to little response. It’s one thing to treat women like pieces of meat, but actually calling them meat, all bluntly and shit—now that just crosses the line!”

It remains acceptable, though, to say women shouldn’t wear miniskirts—despite the fact that the only difference between saying an uncovered head is the problem and saying uncovered legs are the problem is that the arguments merely draw the line about women’s modesty at different places.

And how charming of Huckabee to make clear that he’s not drawing the line at a burka, because “a person’s hair, arms, shoulders, legs are an appropriate display of who they are.” But not too much leg now, ladies! Lest you get some of that undesirable attention. Tsk tsk.

Men like Huckabee have exceedingly precise ideas of what is “an appropriate display” of the female body, the gist of which being that they want women to show enough of themselves to please the average bloke as he consumes them for his pleasure (“No, [a burka] hides everything…a person’s hair, arms, shoulders, legs are an appropriate display of who they are”) without tempting him into doing something he’d regret (“If a person dresses provocatively, they’re calling attention—maybe not the most desirable kind—to private parts of their body”), because always implicit in such restrictions is the sentiment that men can’t resist if “a person” calls attention to “private parts of their body” with too little clothing.

And if only women would consistently conform to these arbitrary and narrow boundaries defined by men like Huckabee, there wouldn’t be any darn problems!

Except, you know, there still are—because even in places where female persons’ clothing is strictly regulated to be properly feminine but not overtly provocative, like in Catholic schools, persons who give those female persons “undesirable attention” still blame them.

When speaking to [Ontario Crown Paul Bailey] of the young girls he molested, [the Reverend Charles Sylvestre] talked as though the children conspired to have him abuse them.

“These girls that came over there every day, they planned it,” Sylvestre told Mr. Bailey. “I could hear them talking and they’d come in and sit on a chair and their skirt would be up to their crotch. Well, it was kind of attracting.”

Sylvestre was convicted of molesting 47 girls between the ages of eight and 15 over three decades.

Huckabee no doubt thinks he’s being completely reasonable and helpful by suggesting that persons shouldn’t wear miniskirts because it could get them unwanted attention, but it’s about as un-fucking-helpful as it gets, because every bit of victim-blaming is rooted in the narrative for which thinking precisely like that serves as the foundation: The skirt / blouse / booze / hour / isolation did it.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Huckabee: Totally Into Fashion…But Not in a Gay Way! More in a Controlling Women Sorta Way.

  1. But guys in tight sleeveless tanktops and form-fitting jeans — like a lot of country-and-western singers and rodeo riders — that’s not “calling attention — maybe not the most desirable kind — to private parts of their body.”

    Sure.

  2. I was still twitching about the visual of Mike Huckabee in a thong when I got to the victim-blaming child-molesting priest. The story sounds familiar. Or maybe it’s just a characteristic of serial child rapists to rationalize that the nine-year old girls or boys are deliberately being provocative, are seducing them.

    I’m no fan of the death penalty, but people like Sylvestre should be locked away where they can’t hurt anyone but themselves, forever and always. The Catholic church can claim no moral authority while it still gives these individuals aid and comfort. And yet we’re supposed to respect their religion and their beliefs.

    Disgusting is too fine a word for it. It’s a festering boil. With apologies to Staphylococcus aureus colonies everywhere.

  3. Allie

    The body parts that are appropriate/inappropriate are different around the world, but the strictures are still the same. When I lived in West Africa, it was perfectly fine for women in village to be topless – but everything between bellybutton and knees was inappropriate for public viewing. One guy kept telling me, ‘American girls must be really immoral because they wear shorts.’ He had trouble getting around the idea that in America going topless is much more ‘shocking’.

  4. I hate this whole thing. I hate the fact that I’m scared of what might happen to my daughter some day – let alone the fact that my wife is in danger as well – and that I know, I just know that when she hits puberty I’m going to want to cover her up from head to toe. I know that I’m going to cringe every time she shows a bit of leg, or a curve. I’m going to lecture her about safety and common sense.

    And even though I know that a certain amount of that is perfectly fine, I don’t know where the line is. I don’t know at what point I will cross over from being a properly concerned and attentive father to a sexist jerk who is just reinforcing all the shitty messages she gets from this society.

    It’s selfish, but I’m tired of idiots like Huckabee and, oh, pretty much every single guy in America making it harder for me to do right by my daughter. Or, for that matter, my son. I was an asshole in high school, a complete asshole who manipulated and lied and wheedled and pushed and did all the other things guys are “supposed” to do in order to get inside girls’ clothes. I know I can teach my son how not to act, but I’d like to be able to teach him some positive traits as well, and again, this country doesn’t offer up a whole lot of role models.

  5. evilchemistry

    These are the same types that drooled all over themselves at Commander Codpiece?

    I don’t remember the part in the “Commandments” that said:

    Do not covet thy neighbor’s wife, unless the bitch is wearing a tight, slutty miniskirt. Then all bets are off, the bitch deserved what she got and absolution is your’s my son.

    I swear that is what some of these people comprehend when they read their mythology.

  6. NonyNony

    And even though I know that a certain amount of that is perfectly fine, I don’t know where the line is. I don’t know at what point I will cross over from being a properly concerned and attentive father to a sexist jerk who is just reinforcing all the shitty messages she gets from this society.

    Let me second this and ask – does anyone have any resources to help a guy figure out where that line is? What (and how) we should realistically be telling our daughters to help keep them safe in the world we live in while still avoiding going over into the “sexist jerk”/”double standard” world we might have been raised in? As someone who is soon to be a father, I know I’m going to be coming up against this in the not-so-distant future, and I’m already starting to worry about it.

  7. Melissa McEwan

    And even though I know that a certain amount of that is perfectly fine, I don’t know where the line is.

    That line, for your daughter, is where she draws it.

    I don’t know at what point I will cross over from being a properly concerned and attentive father to a sexist jerk who is just reinforcing all the shitty messages she gets from this society.

    You will reach that point if you start shaming her. I think the easiest way to avoid doing this is to frame discussions regarding clothing as “age-appropriate” or “environment-appropriate,” which is how Mama Shakes always talked about these things with me. She never once commented to me my whole life about any “messages” I was “sending” with what I was wearing, identified the choice to dress in any particular way as intrinsically good or bad, or anything like that. And I came out with a decent self-image and no particular inclination to dress (or not dress) a specific way.

  8. Melissa McEwan

    does anyone have any resources to help a guy figure out where that line is?

    I just did a search for “feminist dad.”

    No, I did not mean “feminist did,” Yahoo!

    Feminist fathers, I’m afraid, did not yield particularly better results.

    In any case, there’s a blog waiting to be started…

  9. Thanks, Melissa. One of your talents – I hope Mr. Shakes is keeping a list, because they’re too many to remember – is to put things so simply that even I can understand.

    In any case, there’s a blog waiting to be started…

    I’ve noticed that I tend to get more inspired when I write about stuff like this. . .

  10. DBK

    What’s he saying? He’s saying that you women need to cover your wild things. What the hell else do you think he was saying? Geez, I gotta ‘splain all this to you after all this time? Don’t you women realize that if you dress in a provocative manner, you’re gonna get raped by us men, because we’re crazy and can’t control ourselves. And then, if you do get raped, it’s all your own fault. So he’s helping you women, see?

    We’re all lucky to have a Huckabee protecting the women-folk.

  11. Arkades

    Ah yes, Huckabee, the Kindly Face of the American Taliban. A good old-fashioned Guy Next Door who has an opinion about how much you should weigh, how you should marry, and now, how you should dress.

    Anyone who doesn’t think the modern GOP is all about social control isn’t paying attention. The libertarians should be running SCREAMING from the GOP’s latest crop of moralizers.

    As for Sylvestre? Odious slime. I should say much worse, but mere words fail to convery the depths of my loathing for one such as this.

    Huckabee no doubt thinks he’s being completely reasonable and helpful by suggesting that persons shouldn’t wear miniskirts because it could get them unwanted attention, but it’s about as un-fucking-helpful as it gets, because every bit of victim-blaming is rooted in the narrative for which thinking precisely like that serves as the foundation: The skirt / blouse / booze / hour / isolation did it.

    ‘Provocative’ is defined within the eye of the beholder, it seems. Or perhaps someplace anatomically lower.

    There is no excuse for rape. None. If a woman (or a man, for that matter) wants to walk down Main Street in skintight clothes, or in a clown suit, or in nothing but a thong, or even absolutely starkers… she (or he) does *not* deserve to be raped as a result. Ever.

    Laughed at? Perhaps. Let’s face it… naked human beings are often silly-looking creatures.

    Arrested? Probably. Seems harsh to me, but… that’s the law, in most places. So, yes.

    But raped? Never. And if someone *commits* a rape and blames it on what the victim was wearing…? It doesn’t matter. What the victim was (or wasn’t) wearing at the time should not even be considered a mitigating circumstance. The victim didn’t “ask for it”. It’s still rape.

  12. yeah, even little old ladies in long flannel nightgowns in their own beds at 3 a.m. you just KNOW they are sending out, “come anmd get it” vibes!

  13. Stephen and NonyNony, I would suggest that hanging out here – reading, absorbing and commenting – would be one of the best resources.

    As Melissa’s comment at 1:44 (mountain time) attests.

  14. Gaarrrgg!

    “affirms”, not “attests”

  15. Pingback: Mike Huckabee - Wonkette

  16. Miniskirts?!

    What decade is this asshat from anyway? The 1960s?

    I remember the controversy that erupted when one of the young teachers at my Catholic school, Miss Watson, wore a miniskirt to work.

    The nuns were horrified. I overheard one of them saying that she looked like a whore.

    But, Miss Watson didn’t back down. She insisted on wearing her miniskirts, many of the parents supported her, and soon it wasn’t a big deal.

    THIS WAS 1969!

    Almost 40 years ago! The great miniskirt debate is over.

  17. Melissa McEwan

    The great miniskirt debate is over.

    LOL!

  18. shen

    feminist dad. cool. i could really enjoy that…..

  19. Molly, NYC

    Why is a man who made as big a deal as humanly possible about being in a “covenant marriage” even acknowledging that he finds other women provocative?

    I think the phrase he was looking for was: “It’s really not my business what any woman wears, ‘cept maybe my wife.”

  20. Pingback: Daily Round-Up at Shakesville

  21. JoAsakura

    Oh, man.

    When I read this – I’m pretty sure it was in an issue of Marie Claire that I got recently – I made this strangled sound that scared the cats that went something like this:

    “Huckabee! Cleric..cats…meat…ARGH!!”

    I *really* can’t stand this wanker.

    (oh, and for more fun, there’s a story on a “purity ball” girl and her daddy-arranged marriage as well as letters to the editor telling Salma Hayek that she’s going to hell in the most recent issue. Good times. =p)

  22. This is not exactly on topic but is related to how women (and men) dress and I’ve been thinking about alot. I want to buy a pair of sandals. I have been looking for weeks now. I want a pair that look attractive, in my opinion, but are also functional. I mean how fucking hard is that! But it seems to be impossible, I must be asking for the impossible. By functional, I mean that if I should need to run for any reason I can do so without having to kick them off or else go so slow that I am really no longer running anyway. I want a strap on the back heal so they will stay on my feet. However, I don’t want a man-type sandle just because I want a stupid strap. Also, high heels suck. It hurts the feet and the back so why in the hell are women buying these stupid things? If women would refuse to buy heels, manufactures would be forced to make something else. Okay, rant over. Bye.

  23. Pingback: We Could Maybe Even Agree, If You Weren't Such an Asshole at Shakesville

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