2 days ago, Ayesha Curry published 2 tweets that catapulted her in to the land of twitter’s trendy topics, stemming mostly from people who criticized her choice of words. On their own, these 2 tweets are rather innocuous. This is just a woman expressing her preferences for a certain style, which she has every right to do. But in the bigger social context wherein women are often branded as whores for their clothing choices and therefore deserving of violence, this presents a bigger problem.
Why She Received Some Backlash
We need to have conversations about our own bodies without throwing other women under the bus. I’m certain that Ayesha likely didn’t mean anything malicious, but in a society that too often tells a woman she deserves disrespect and violence because of her clothes, it’s so very important that we be more careful with our words. We owe each other the ability to have more nuanced conversations about our bodies.
We can have women who exist on the whole spectrum of clothing choices from fully covered to completely naked and dancing on a pole, and all of them deserve respect without any hierarchy. Criticism on Ayesha isn’t to say she has no right to wear what she likes and be vocal about it, but that she can wear what she likes and still respect and invite respect for women who have different choices. She didn’t necessarily deserve vitriol for her choice of words, but perhaps a gentler reminder on how to hold space for all of us. The frenzy surrounding her tweets was really a moment of panic because women understand the very real danger of reducing women’s value to their sartorial choices. We have to work so hard to refocus the conversation of sexual violence away from blaming the woman, back to condemning the perpetrators of violence.
Yes All Women Deserve Respect
What you don’t understand is, even if a woman dresses like she is explicitly trying to be provocative or is “selling” her body, you still need to have the correct currency to have whatever you think she is selling. When you walk into a store, things are displayed is a way to make you yearn for product and entice you to buy it. But trust and believe if you don’t have money for that product, you can’t have it. If you steal it, you get punished with nary an argument suggesting the store was obviously asking for it with all their good displayed like that.
Same for a woman even at her most objectified state . If she decides you don’t meet the criteria to have what she is “selling”, you can’t have her. It’s really that simple. What is this barbaric notion that when a woman dresses like she is “selling” it or seducing you, the normal, often endorsed reaction is that she should be harassed and/or raped? Even if you think she has no self respect, why not instead shower her with the respect you think she should have for herself?
I’m not here to tell you to stop having preferences for the way a woman dresses. If you prefer a woman who wears pant suits with minimal makeup, there is nothing wrong with that. If you prefer a woman who wear jeans and a t-shirt, or one who wears a form fitting dress, nothing wrong with that. Find a woman who meets those conditions, and please try not to have every other woman carry the burden of your standards. No woman deserves disdain, disrespect, harassment, violence, just because she doesn’t look like your idea of a respectable woman. Dressing by some arbitrary standard of beauty or respectability is not the currency we should pay for basic human courtesy.
Ashley Curry can absolutely wear what she pleases and I am here in solidarity, supporting her choices. But you can be sure that my solidarity extends to all women as well. All of us in our burquas, jeans, hijabs, thongs and clear heels, pantsuits or birthday suits, booty shorts or maxi dresses. Dear women we owe each other unapologetic solidarity. Sexism is a heavy weight to carry, so let’s make space for each other and encourage more layered conversations. Applaud all those women who make you do a double take because they don’t look like your idea of respectable. Thank them for making you have to work hard to move past first impressions. We can all use the opportunity to shed our habits of snap judgement. #yesallwomen.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.