If you've spent any time on Facebook, you've probably run into the tendency to pass around pithy maxims in the form of images. The problem with this means of communicating one's ideas that is in translating something into a pithy maxim, truth often suffers. There's one going around at the moment which, for whatever reason, particularly annoys me:
Part of it, I think, is the "Dear Girls, ... Sincerely, Real Men" format. This sets up a hierarchy of sorts in which the "real men" instruct the "girls", who otherwise may not know what is up. It also implies that if you're a man and you disagree with the sentiments expressed, or the way they're expressed, you may not be a "real man".
For those who agree on the value of modesty, there's an immediate feeling of validation encapsulated in the statement: "Dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure. Yes, you'll get attention, but mostly from pigs." So, if you're a woman, and you dress modestly, you have the virtue of not being covered in shit. (And those vixens are actually disgusting.) And if you're a man, and you value modesty, you're a real man and not a pig.
The problem is, although it's calibrated to make people feel a quick spurt of validation, the analogy is not at all apt. If someone really rolled around in manure, people would find her disgusting. But let's be honest: "real men" (taken to mean: men who put some value on modesty) don't find immodestly dressed women disgusting (at least, not if the woman in question has the goods to carry it off.) They find an immodestly dressed woman attractive just like any other man would. It's true that dressing immodestly may get a girl the wrong kind of attention, but it's certainly not because she's made herself unattractive or disgusting, it's because dressing provocatively sends certain social signals. Some guys make take that as a message that there are other things on offer as well and provide attention (wanted or not) and others may either avert their eyes or quietly absorb an eyeful while assuming that this "isn't their type". But there's no similarity to rolling in manure.
Maybe the attraction in this formulation is that it's simply more evocative than trying to make some point about objectifying or commodifying yourself through immodesty, getting the wrong kind of attention, etc. But I can't help thinking that a lot of the attraction of this formulation is simply that it makes it so easy to look down on others.
It's also unpersuasive. If you go tell some girl you think is dressing immodestly that it's like she's rolled in manure, and she'll only attract pigs, you've got two problems. First off, you've described her as rolling in manure, and insulting someone is usually not a good way to get her to listen to you. Secondly, she knows perfectly well that dressing the way she's dressing does not make her disgusting to "real men".
Potential Energy and the Spirit
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