The Fashion Police

So, this came through my Facebook feed.

It makes a change from inspirational quotes, and home-made posters with quotes attributed to Einstein, but something’s not sitting quite right with me. This often happens with memes on social media. I shudder a little and I’m not always sure why until I think it through.

The person who originally posted that picture to Facebook annotated with:

“Very true,I’ve seen it in a prison doco,so bitchs it’s time to pull them pants up lol”

EVEN IF this nugget of fashion history is true — and I’m not sure it is — this sort of thing bothers me for the following reasons.

This ‘public service announcement’ reminds me of that whole ‘leggings are not pants’ campaign to get young women to stop wearing a certain kind of lower-body clothing. Most recently the fashion police have turned their disapproval towards yoga pants. Apparently some men think women wear yoga pants outside yoga class because they like to turn men on. The entire problem with this whole assumption is that strangers wear clothes for no reason to do with you. And the same goes for young men and their low-riding jeans. I can’t know the motivation for young men wearing their pants down low, but I suspect it’s entirely to do with fashion and the folk etymology of prison-sex is not helpful. Prison fashion does not equal general fashion. If so, we’d all be getting around in striped pajamas or green tunics or whatever. (I haven’t visited a prison lately.) I suspect the baggy pants fashion in young men has something to do with wanting to appear bigger generally, for the same but inverse reason that women generally prefer pants which de-emphasise size. It also leads to a more stereotypically manly gait, I suspect, in order to keep them up. Low-riding pants expose the band of your underwear, which considering the $40 price tag on a branded pair of men’s daks, at least mean you’re getting your money’s worth, if ‘money’s worth’ equals ‘showing the world how branded you are’. Whatever the case, we need to butt out of other people’s fashion choices. ‘Better dressed’ is subjective. This includes the fashion choices older folks find ridiculous. It will always be so.

Then there’s the trivialisation of prison rape. While this meme is ostensibly about ‘consensual’ anal sex and willingness to give it via pants signals, I don’t think it does a single damn thing to foster awareness of this serious issue in prisons: that a lot of sex is not in fact consensual. This fact won’t be fixed by wearing pants high. So this advice veers dangerously close to victim blaming, and reminds me of slut-shaming, and to saying, ‘Well if you’re going to wear such a short skirt you’re kind of asking for it, aren’t you.’

UPDATE: I had been trying to put into words another, niggling reason why this meme annoys me. Then I read the article ‘Men’s Rights’ at Reasonable Conversation, and a few sentences reminded me of the low-riding trousers meme above:

The act of male rape has been used for centuries as a way of degrading men because being penetrated is associated with…wait for it…being a woman. Prison rape is a gigantic problem as men looking to establish dominance over other men sexually assault them, but it’s not a case where men’s rights are being violated in some systematic fashion because of their maleness.

So, while rape is always very, very bad, the meme seems to be upholding this idea that penetration, especially anal penetration, is emasculating. A gender-switched analogue would be advice to women against showing cleavage, because this is used by hookers in red-light districts to show that they’re available for sex.

Yes. And?

Blog Post Prompt: 10 Things I’ve Been Doing Recently

1. Eating this:

Because I read some more sensationalist scientific reporting this month which tried to make out that eating chocolate is good for us, and while my brain says ‘bullshit’, my heart say yeah.

2. Reading this:

I’ve already read it, seen the movie, argued about it online, got the t-shirt, but that was last year, and I need to have something intelligent to say about it this coming Wednesday at book club.

3. Browsing this site:

The Good Men Project, to balance all the female-centric blogs I also read.

4. Writing this:

Nothing much other than facebook updates, emails and minutes of meetings, to be frank. Also the odd blog post this month. A paucity of blog posts is always a good thing. It means I’ve been OTHERWISE PRODUCTIVE.

ie. Working on illustrations for something I wrote back in April.

5. Drinking this:

Because I happen to require the most expensive tea bag (by unit price) in the entire store. Not because it’s expensive. Because it’s dang GOOD.

6. Using this:

And lucky me — combined with hayfever I’m a prisoner during daylight hours, at least until this Australian summer is over. At least I might get some work done.

7. Watching this:

The entire first season of Lucky Louie, in one week. Not sure I’m proud of that, but hey ho.

8. Buying this:

Because there’s nothing quite as therapeutic as a good garlic crushing session. I never realised garlic juice was so sticky.

9. Listening to this:

Gotye’s latest album, which includes the song Somebody I Used To Know. While I love that song in particular, the entire album is excellent.

I also learned that Gotye is actually pronounced ‘Goat-y-eh’, which is unfortunate. For my favourite band I was imagining a pronunciation slightly more exotic.

10. Using this new word:

Crepuscular. Once I looked up what it means I kept seeing it everywhere.


How about you? What have you been doing recently? Here’s an easy template to copy and paste into your blog.

1. Eating this:

2. Reading this:

3. Browsing this site:

4. Writing this:

5. Drinking this:

6. Using this:

7. Watching this:

8. Buying this:

9. Listening to this:

10. Using this new word:

Reading Meme

Do you snack while reading?

No. I’m no multi-tasker.

What is your favourite drink while reading?

If it’s a good book I could be drinking urine and coke, and I probably wouldn’t notice.

Do you tend to mark your books while you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I tend to write on postit notes – mainly because of this blog. These scraps of paper give me an endless number of completely unimportant things to blog about.

How do you keep your place? Bookmark? Dog ear? Laying the book open flat?

All of the above. I’ll only dog-ear a book if it’s already looking really old and decrepit. I can’t bring myself to fold down the pages of new books. Sometimes I amaze myself with the things that can function as a bookmark. Lolly wrappers, parking tickets, gum leaves, bills, a Cuisenaire rod, a piece of lego.

Fiction, non-fiction or both?


Do you tend to read to the end of a chapter or can you stop anywhere?

I stop anywhere. Reading ebooks promotes this, as does reading books with no chapters, or very long chapters, or very short ones. Very few books have the perfect length chapter for my attention span, so divisions feel arbitrary.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

I don’t throw stuff for fear of damaging something else which is valuable, but if I’d purchased the book that irritated me I might well put it in the recycling bin. I wouldn’t want to keep an unpleasant book as a reminder of irritation, staring out at me from the shelf.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

Yes, if I’m reading an ebook, because it’s so easy to do. But most unfamiliar words don’t stick out as ‘I must look it up right away’ – instead, I guess I just guess their meanings from context. I’ll only look it up if it’s been bothering me… That’s right. Must look up the meaning of ‘immanent’. (It was used a lot in the last book I read.)

What are you currently reading?

I tend to have both a fiction and an non-fiction on the go at once:

1. Tim Flannery’s Here On Earth (which is not as religious as it sounds). Tim Flannery is an environmental scientist, and Australian of the Year 2006.

2. I’m listening to The Slap by Christos Ttsiolkas as an audiobook as I work – which I can only do if I’m working on something really mindless, or walking the dog. I feel like this is a book every single other reading Australian has already talked about to death. I already ‘knew’ this book before I started listening to it myself. But I don’t know how it ends, so I will definitely keep listening.

What is the last book you bought?

What Makes Us Tick by Hugh Mackay, for someone else as a gift. I haven’t read it myself, but book club reviews were very positive. I like to support the publishing industry by buying books as gifts.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read?

In the beanbag. Though today I couldn’t help but notice it smelt vaguely of kiddie pee. Note to self: Must get a bean bag for MY OWN use only! I tend to use reading as a reward system: Clean the toilet, read a chapter; stack some wood, read a chapter… That said, I don’t tend to stick to chapters… Maybe that’s why the wood pile isn’t shrinking.

Do you prefer series books or stand-alones?

Stand-alones. I don’t like the contrivance required when an author wants to tie up one story yet leave the reader wanting more. I feel manipulated as a consumer. This is why I don’t feel compelled to read the next in Larsson’s Millennium series even though I enjoyed the first one.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, to women who tell me they’re on a diet, and The God Delusion, to the Mormons who bother me several times per year. I tell them I’ll read their guff if they read mine. (They haven’t taken me up on the offer as yet.)

How do you organise your books (by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)?

Every now and then I get into ‘tidy’ mode and I’ll sort the books according to type (text books, literary, SF etc) but they’re shelved two or three deep in a cupboard, and sod’s law dictates that when I’m looking for a book it’ll be one right at the back, on the last shelf I check. So I’ve given up trying to maintain order. There’s always the local library if I need to feel a sense of organisation wash over me.


Best Sellers The Week You Were Born

You’ll have seen those lists of 100 Best Books Of The Century, or 50 Books You Must Read Before You Kark It, and you may have even read a few books on those lists. (Here’s a list of must-read NON-FICTION books, in case you’ve not seen one of those. This one’s by The Guardian, so of course its focus is on England.)

Here’s a website which will tell you the books which were best sellers in the week of your birth.

I’ve only read two of the books on mine: The Thornbirds and The World According to Garp. I enjoyed them both.

I haven’t even heard of many of the others, and I’ll check some of them out, but will probably give the Guide to Investing a miss. The financial landscape might’ve changed since 1978.

Related Link: Overrated – Authors, critics, and editors on “great books” that aren’t all that great.