—story by Jalisa Ambrose @jalisaambrose
Queen Erykah Badu caused an internet frenzy on Monday when she posted some cringe worthy tweets about how she agrees with a new Zealand school dress code that enforces young girls to wear knee length skirts. It sounds pretty harmless at first, but then she went on to explain her reasoning: because it is “natural for heterosexual men to be attracted to women of child bearing age.”
When I first read her thread, I was immediately heated and honestly disappointed. But after a few hours of deep thinking, incense burning, and soul searching, I calmed down and started to think about why this was such an important topic to discuss. Badu did make a few valid points. She acknowledged that males should be taught to be responsible for their actions and that it isn’t ok to prey on young women. She also said that it isn’t the fault of women that they are beautiful or attractive. All of this is true, but that’s basically where the validity ends. Chalking it up to it simply being human nature just doesn’t cut it, sis.
Badu’s rhetoric is almost dangerous in that she’s missing one colossal point that can’t be overlooked: predatory men or rapists aren’t concerned with how attractive a woman is—power is what they seek. Objectification is not solely based off of appearance. Most women I know who have been objectified weren’t always wearing revealing outfits when men accosted them. In my experience, I’ve been hit on while wearing sweatpants and my 7-year-old class of 2009 high school shirt.
Her words also remind me of the played out and beyond false notion that if a Black man pulls up his pants, ditches the Jordans and dons a business suit, that he won’t be a target for police profiling or even brutality. It’s just simply not true. If a predatory man is going to be “naturally” attracted to younger girls, he’s going to do that whether she’s in a mini skirt or a maxi skirt. Think about the countless stories we hear of rape and abuse of Middle Eastern women, many of whom are wearing their traditional garb, which covers them up almost completely.
Do I have a problem with uniforms? No. Do I think Badu had ill intentions with her words? No. However, I don’t feel we shouldn’t place the responsibility on women for how a man “naturally” reacts. Requiring women to be more mindful of their aesthetic inadvertently places that task on us.
So what are your thoughts on the topic? Do you feel that enforcing uniform rules on girls will protect them from a lusty gaze? Who wears the responsibility? Pun, definitely intended.