Or, “When you write an op-ed, your entitlement is showing.”
I graduated in May from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, your typical New England private college: small, wholesome, safe, if not a bit apathetic and Puritanical. Our college paper, The Hawk’s Herald, offers a bi-weekly dishing of vanilla news focused on alcohol policy or parking lots (ugh, that 12-minute walk…I can’t do it anymore). Always one for controversy and debate, I always hoped for an inflammatory op-ed; the Democrat vs. Republican didn’t satisfy my hunger for outcry, and no one ever tried sex blogging (the paper’s closest sex column written by “Racy Stacy” never ventured into the queer world, opting instead to illustrate all sex as heterosexual sex; Racy most recently offers up some wholesome advice: “If you want to make your relationship last and make seeing your boyfriend’s family as happy as Thanksgiving dinner, then here’s the delicious plan to make them thankful for you.” C’mon, Racy! You’ve never kissed a girl?)
Imagine my delight when I read The Hawk’s Herald latest article online, “When you wear yoga pants, I can see your vagina.”
The author, senior Ben Whitmore, prefaces his yoga-pants-diatribe with the sentiment that yes, there are many things that drive him wild about RWU – inflated grades, apathetic students, your typical college campus complaints: issues that Whitmore can “get over.” However, Whitmore admits that “there is one school trend that I can no longer remain silent about, one article of clothing that most female students wear that makes me ashamed to be a fellow classmate of theirs. I hate yoga pants.”
Let’s take a step back. What is going on here? At the article’s most basic, fundamental level lies the paternalistic belief that what I say matters. All of my opinions are equally important: “I…don’t like [yoga pants], and I don’t like how many women on this campus wear them.” Think about it another way: that belief is a serious motivator behind a dude’s crude comments when you (a woman) get hollered at on the street. He is willing to make voyeuristic comments publicly and overtly engage in the male gaze because to a degree, he sincerely believes that his opinion matters.
Does anyone remember Amelia Bloomer from the mid-19th century who was like, listen guys: “The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities.” Men AND women thought she was crazy for suggesting women could wear pants. It was a revolutionary concept to allow women to control their identity through sartorial choices. Here we have a modern-day example of this: regardless of how you think women should dress in specific environments, should you be telling them? Is anyone entitled to?
Whitmore very explicitly links the yoga pants to sexuality, suggesting “that women wear yoga pants to feel sexy without getting judged as a slut, yet I see something demeaning in women wearing yoga pants and parading around their half-silhouetted vaginas all day,” conveniently ignoring his own rather demeaning public hanging of women who wear them. The day after the article’s publication one woman tweeted, “am I the only girl not wearing yoga pants today at #rwu?”
I’m not sure if Ben Whitmore is up on his latest feminist news, but since the spring, SlutWalks have been popping up across the nation. Frankly, I think it’s time for the ladies of R-Dubbs to take a Yoga Pants Walk.