Policing what?

Ah, policing or good ol’ respectability politics. Unfortunately, it’s something that I’ve encountered time and time again. Wondering what I’m talking about?

Wikipedia: “Respectability politics or the politics of respectability refers to attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their social values as being continuous and compatible with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream for its failure to accept difference.

I’ve put it more plainly: Policing means that you think you can tell minority/marginalized groups how to act, live, dress to “gain respect” from other groups. It’s something I didn’t know until last year and I was totally part of that crowd.

I used to judge women for being “half naked” on Instagram or dressing “sluttily” in public because what self respecting woman lets everyone see her body before her man does?

Ja. Embarrassing. There’s so much that is completely off with that statement. I can’t even believe I used to think like that.

I cringe every single time I think about it. You see, I came from a very conservative Catholic background and went to church twice a week. I don’t blame that solely but I was surrounded by information  and various “sources” (from friends, family members and even teachers) telling me how I should act to please the rest of the world. Because that’s I’m here for – to please the rest of humanity.

Now, not so much. The thing with policing another’s woman’s body  or telling someone how to act is that you truly don’t have the right to do so. You may think it’s okay to judge another woman’s choice of dress, partner, career or whatever else – but really where do you get off?

Women are constantly being judged, harassed and made to feel like they’re lesser human beings for the manner in which they choose to express themselves.

Anyone can be half naked and that doesn’t lessen their intellectual capabilities. They could wear tons of make-up AND quote philosophy or political literature until your head spins. And you know what? It doesn’t stop with women, people of colour are subjected to ideals that we have to dress “right”, speak “well” or risk being clumped with those other people.

I had a visceral response to someone judging a friend of mine for sharing her opinion, because she was “half naked” in her profile picture. How dare she share her thoughts? She obviously could not say something smart since she happened to be a model. Psssht. NO TALKY MODEL PERSON.

It’s 2015 – PUT SOME CLOTHES BEFORE I TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY YE WOMAN OF LITTLE CLOTHES AND COTTONWOOL FOR BRAINS  YOU’LL CATCH THE BUBONIC PLAGUE.

Read that sentence. Read it again. Maybe one more time. It’s a bit archaic, isn’t it? Just a smidge.

And whether you cover up for religious reasons or run freely in nothing more than a g-string panty with wild abandon yelling your freedom – it’s your right to express yourself AS YOU CHOOSE. And as a result, you should respect those who choose other avenues to express their personality because it’s truly NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

I am not solely defined by what I wear. Neither are you. So think twice before you just amble along and make a derisory comment about another person’s self expression.

No one actually asked you.

-A

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