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Jewish World Review Feb. 24, 2004 / 2 Adar, 5764

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager
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Why young women are exposing themselves, Part Two | In Part One , I offered two reasons for the increasing exposure of young women's bodies. One was the loss of female roles and identity, leading many young women to announce they are females in the only way left to them — by showing their body. The other was the near-extinction of the concept of femininity, including the demise of feminine dress.

The ending of sex-based roles, probably the major goal of feminism, has brought some blessings, but it has also harmed countless lives. Roles, to use the most venerated word in feminism, empower both sexes.

As much as feminists may disdain the roles of mother or wife, those roles have bestowed power as well as meaning and satisfaction on the vast majority of women in history.

When all is said and done, heading a home and being married to a good man are far more satisfying to most women than college teaching or corporate work. The ending of women's roles has left innumerable women more free to choose their life's course, but often less happy and, yes, less powerful. Roles empower (as well as constrain) people.

Women derive power from feminine roles, and men derive power from masculine roles. At the core of feminism is an envy of male roles and power and a belief that women should have the same. But, as a recent New York Times Magazine cover story noted, women graduates from Ivy League universities are increasingly leaving the corporate world to raise families. Having the same power as men did not fulfill these women.

Now, the third reason. With no feminine role to aspire to, many young women feel powerless. The one area of power left for them is sexual. The more a young woman has bought into feminist notions of equality (i.e., the sexes are essentially the same and there is no such thing as a woman's role), the more she is likely to flaunt her sexual power. It is the only power left to her. This helps explain why female students at Harvard — among the highest achieving young women in the country — have just launched a magazine featuring Harvard women posing nude.

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A fourth reason may be surprising — sexual harassment laws.

Women feel freer than ever to dress provocatively in part because men can say nothing about it. Omnipresent sexual harassment laws and "consciousness raising" seminars in businesses and schools have frightened men into not making any sexual comments to a woman.

As a result, the normal check on a woman flaunting her body is gone. A woman can reveal her breasts or cross her short-skirted legs near a man, but he is forbidden to say so much as, "You have great legs." In fact, he can be fired or sued for saying nothing and merely "staring."

One reason women dressed more modestly in the past was fear of men's verbal reactions. No more. There are vast checks on his sexuality, none on hers.

We should either drop all sexual harassment laws (except those prohibiting threats — "Sleep with me or you're fired") or apply them equally to women. If men create a sexually charged work environment when they talk sex, women do the same when they show sex. "Hostile work environment" — a trial lawyer enrichment program created by feminist anger at men — should be either dropped as a legal concept or applied equally to women's dress.

A fifth reason is the most obvious — a desire to attract men.

Every woman knows that the quickest way to attract a man is to have him notice her. So it makes sense to assume that the more of her body she shows, the more men will be attracted to her. The problem with this approach is that unless all she wants is sex that night, provocative outfits are not usually in her best interest. Why not?

This leads to the sixth and final reason: women's naivete. It is doubtful that women have ever been as naive about men as are large numbers of contemporary educated women. I believe that my grandmother who never went to school understood men better than the average female college graduate today.

So, as a service to any woman who is confused by the difference between "cute" and provocative as regards women's clothing, this may help. What you often call cute or attractive, men see only as a sexual come-on. If you wish to dress for sex, you should be entirely free to do so. But if you want love and attention, you have to know the difference between dressing for sex and dressing to be cute and attractive. The more skin men see, the more they think sex, not love.

And that includes guys your age, your male teachers, your clergyman, your mailman, and the old man next door.

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JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He the author of, most recently, "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to comment on this column.


02/17/04: Why young women are exposing themselves: Part One
02/10/04: Probing the Massachusetts justices' minds
02/03/04: My minute with President Bush
01/27/04: On public cursing and other public sins
01/24/04: $#^% Republicans
01/13/04: A column about my last column
09/09/03: The Dems' counter-revolution
08/12/03: What makes a liberal?
08/05/03: A grand victory at the Grand Canyon
07/29/03: Vanessa Bryant deserves admiration, not contempt
07/22/03: Tony, you're killing us: Inside a Leftist brain
07/15/03: Would you rather your teenager smoke or cheat?
07/01/03: Liberal damage to black America is enormous
06/24/03: Unlike any other arrogance
06/18/03: More innocents die when we don't have capital punishment
06/10/03: Only a Palestinian civil war will bring peace
06/03/03: The legal system is now our enemy
05/28/03: Monkeys and atheists
05/20/03: Women pretending to be men
05/13/03: My week at Stanford
05/06/03: Burn families, barbecue chickens: why some can't tell the difference
04/25/03: Much talent, little wisdom
04/15/03: America the good
04/08/03: Dear Germany: Have you learned anything?
04/01/03: Saddam offered professorship at U.S. college
03/25/03: Grieve for Rachel Corrie's parents, but spare us the hagiography
03/18/03: Blame the Jews?
03/11/03: The Lone Ranger rides again
03/04/03: Dan and Saddam
02/26/03: Which will the world's future be: Muslim, European or American?
02/18/03: When have millions of Europeans ever been wrong?
02/11/03: Don't waste your money on an expensive college
02/04/03: What the world would like the president to say
01/28/03: How memories paralyze: Why Jews and blacks vote Democrat, cont'd
01/21/03: Why Jews and blacks vote Democrat
01/14/03: Why the Arab world hates America --- time to myth-bust
01/07/03: Conservatives have talk radio; liberals have everything else
12/31/02: If you believe that people are basically good . . .
12/17/02: Lott, Clinton, and the problem of the career politician
12/10/02: The healthiest and longest living generation of humans since the 900-year-olds of Genesis are being scared silly
12/04/02: Morally neutral reporting is dishonest reporting
11/26/02: Understand Nigeria and you understand the Islamic threat
11/19/02: James Bond meets his most fanatical foe yet -- anti-smokers
11/12/02: Conservatives need to be more compassionate on divorce
11/05/02: Of course, the great majority of Muslims are peaceful -- so what?
10/29/02: Nice guys finish first: Thoughts on the World Series
10/24/02: A Jew defends evangelical Christians
10/16/02: Bigot laureate well represents New Jersey
10/11/02: Why the Creator must always be higher than the Angels
10/02/02: Loudmouth "stars" are remaining surprisingly quiet about Israel
09/25/02: Bob Greene is a good man
09/11/02: 9-11 made America better
09/04/02: What I learned at the Minneapolis Metrodome about liberals and homosexuality
08/28/02: Teach our college co-eds about Islam --- but teach them the truth
08/14/02: How the nuclear family became "controversial"
08/07/02: Every generation is tested by great evil
07/31/02: Those who curse the Jews and those who bless them . . .
07/24/02: Children should talk to strangers
07/17/02: Why my son's best friend is black
07/11/02: Why Hesham Hadayet may be scarier than al Qaeda
07/03/02: "Pro-Israel lobby" is not why America supports Israel
06/26/02: Why does the Left support the "Palestinians"?
06/19/02: The commencement address I would give
06/12/02: Why do adult children live with their parents? Because they actually like them
06/05/02: The stripper and the Christian school: Thoughts on what a Christian school should do when a parent is a stripper and on who the biggest sinner here is
05/31/02: Don't worry, New York, you are safe from a terrorist threat
05/15/02: A proud member of the world's two most hated peoples
05/10/02: What Israelis are saying
05/06/02: Thank Heaven for moral violence
04/29/02: Give back the Nobel Peace Prize: A letter to Elie Wiesel
04/22/02: Why so many students cheat
04/12/02: Is it 1938 again for the Jews?
04/05/02: It's the values, stupid
01/31/02: Smoke and lose your son
10/30/01: Why Arab/Muslim anti-Semites are worse than the Nazis

© 2002, Creators Syndicate