The media has spent a lot of time focusing on women's lower extremities lately and how they cover them. Pants, breeches, bloomers, trousers – call them what you want, but the world continues to have issues with women who don't wear skirts.
In the Sudan, reporters are still following the tale of a female Muslim journalist dubbed "trouser lady" after she was sentenced to a public flogging earlier this year as punishment for violating Islamic decency laws by wearing pants. (Her punishment was reduced to a few days in jail after a worldwide Internet campaign stirred up outrage, but she insists on wearing pants every day as a one-woman protest.)
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Before you get all smug about this only happening in non-Western countries, consider that in France, a law that prohibits women from wearing pants and "dressing like a man" is still on the books. California didn't make it legal for women to wear pants to the workplace until 1995. Just last week, Sarah Palin and bloggers everywhere were aflutter over a Newsweek cover showing the one-time VP wannabe's legs.
If you think the magazine cover shot was an unfair partisan panty play on the part of the liberal media, let me remind you of how obsessed news gathering organizations were with Hillary Clinton's "Garanimal" pantsuits during her presidential campaign.
Just last week, prompted by the Palin short-shorts controversy, a friend told me that a woman trying to get appointed as a judge in this town was told she better wear a skirt to her interviews if she really wanted the job. Come to think of it, I've never seen a female prosecutor or defense attorney wearing pants in the courtroom. Wait…when was the last time you saw a woman wearing pants to any job interview?
Is there a de facto rule that women should show some leg if they want to be treated right?
Actually, the Bible does have a passage – Deuteronomy 22.5 – that decrees a woman shall not wear the apparel of a man, but I have to think that was more a statement about gender roles of the time. We've come a long way, baby. Or maybe not. Many Orthodox Jews, Pentacostals and Mennonites believe women and young girls should wear only skirts and dresses.
Some women, such as Lady Gaga, avoid the dilemma of what to wear down there by simply wearing nothing more than a bodysuit everywhere. (I don't recommend this.)
While I think some pants deserve being banned – skinny jeans on anyone over the age of 16, for instance, or leggings on people who weigh more than 200 pounds – I find this bottom feeding frenzy about as ridiculous as MC Hammer's parachute pants (another wardrobe choice I wouldn't mind outlawed). For me, it's not a matter of religion or a political statement or a power trip when I slip into my faded, comfortable blue jeans every morning. It's usually because I haven't shaved my legs.