Wednesday, 1 October 2014

My pants are political

Topshop are currently flogging these pants. The picture above is an arse-view. Now, I don't know about you, but personally I think my boyfriend would be a bit creeped out to find his amorous advances towards my nether-regions met with this whiny school-girl plea. And so he should. As a general rule I don't consult my boyfriend's feelings on my outfits (as evidenced by a life lived in my flatmate's cast off Primark tracky bottoms) - but then, I don't often feel that said outfits would justifiably make him recoil with horror. Why Topshop thinks one would want to bring one's father into one's pants I don't know. Even writing that sentence gives me the creeps.

The vag view. 'My Little Pony'... a euphemism for something?

Sorry to harp on about pants, but as our second-wave foremothers would say, the pants are political (or something like that). This particular style is part of a line of kitsch, kiddie-inspired undies - Twilight Sparkle joins Woody and Buzz, Mrs Pots, and the entire cast of the Wizard of Oz in a star-studded procession across female bum-cheeks the country over.

I wouldn't have a problem with Princess Sparkle (or whatever her name is) majestically adorning my crotch per se. I love a good kids' show as much as the next woman and whilst I don't particularly want to dress like a 9 year old I don't think donning some pants in homage to a beloved childhood character will do much harm. But I would take issue with having the word 'daddy' plastered all over my arse. Those are two things that should never meet. Ever.

Much has been said in the media about the sexualisation of young girls - think push up bras and thongs for pre-pubescents and the infamous Tesco Stripper Pole Incident of 2009. I'd argue that the sexualisation of girls and the infantilisation of women are two sides of the same coin. In an (almost) bygone era, women would be passed as property from the guardianship of father to husband and kept in a state of perpetual minority. The problematic cross-over of 'sexualised girl' and 'infantilised woman' is a hangover from this mindset. (You might be thinking "she got all this from a pair of pants?!" - but bear with me).

This historic perpetual minority lives on in the troubling sexualisation of the father-daughter relationship. Type 'saying daddy' into Google and see what the top suggestion is:

'Daddy talk' in bed is generally associated with power and submission. The attraction of this kink lies in the enjoyment of seeing the woman as wide-eyed, young, and submissive to a dominant 'father figure'(or more troublingly: illegal, minor, and therefore unable to give full and reasoned consent)'.

Think, too, of Purity Balls. No, not some kind immaculate super-bollock (alas). Purity balls are sort of mass mini-marriages in which girls pledge their virginity to their fathers. They 'marry' their dad, securing their chastity, until such time as their dad 'releases' them to their husband; their next protector (/captor).

I'm pretty sure that Topshop didn't have the finer points of gender politics in mind when designing these pants. More's the pity, I say. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't call out troubling messages when we see them. The mindset which seems to confuse pre-pubescent girls with grown women and vice versa is very much alive and well and needs to be challenged. Don't let infantilisation get into your pants.  


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