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What she wants’

Catherine Scallen | Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dear Mr. Brainard,

As an avid champion of the anti-LAP (Leggings As Pants) crusade, I was initially very excited to read your letter yesterday (“Ladies, be decent,” Apr. 5). However, upon finishing the article, I was quite disturbed. Several things bother me. First, I question your definition of “tights.” Tights are traditionally sheer, and it is common knowledge among most women that tights are never to be worn as pants. Leggings, however, are often made of a much thicker fabric, and thus provide more coverage. Leggings are generally regarded as infinitely more appropriate for public pant-wear than tights. Was the young woman in question who so greatly offended you wearing tights or leggings? Please clarify.

Second, your rhetoric surrounding this young woman implies two very dangerous things. First, this girl was in all likelihood not attempting to woo you by wearing tights (leggings?) to lunch at South Dining Hall. You state that you cannot respect a woman who doesn’t respect herself, nor can you trust her to respect you. In addition to that, you decide you won’t be pursuing this young woman or “anyone like that.” Problem is, you’ve based these rather large snap judgments solely on this young woman’s choice of legwear at the dining hall. Maybe her shirt rode up, and you simply saw her at a bad moment. I myself have suffered from the plague of Rising Shirt Syndrome when bustling about campus. Or maybe she did choose to wear a shorter shirt, for whatever reason. Is it really that indicative of her level of self-respect?

Finally, and most importantly, you make a huge and irrational jump by connecting this particular woman’s middle-of-the-day outfit choice to the hook-up culture at Notre Dame. Your closing statement is what really inspired me to write this response: “If you want to meet a true gentleman that will treat you as an upstanding young lady as opposed to just a successful end to a fun night, act like it.” She wasn’t acting like anything, she was just wearing something with which you personally disagreed. By using this sort of language, you are placing the blame on this young woman, implying that by dressing as such she’s “asking for it,” that is, asking to be treated disrespectfully by men. While I am hopeful that you do not actually feel this way, it is this sort of mindset, on any level, that fosters an unhealthy sexual assault/rape culture that relies heavily on victim-blaming.

While current society at large would have us believe a woman’s appearance is entirely indicative of “what she wants,” a smart individual and upstanding Notre Dame gentleman such as yourself must know better. Please, get to know a woman before deciding what her intentions for the day, night or her future are. Thank you!

Catherine Scallen


off campus

Apr. 5