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.