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Friday, February 8, 2013

I spent some time poking around teh Internets yesterday, looking for someone to confirm the authenticity of a wimmin-hating dress-code email sent out by CBS’s official prudes ahead of Sunday’s Grammy telecast. Did you see this? It was first reported by Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood on Wednesday. A source leaked the memo to her, and I hoped it was a joke, but USA Today said it’s for real and similar to memos sent in previous years:

“Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could  possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible ‘puffy’ bare skin exposure.”

That’s followed by some gender-neutral warnings about avoiding brand names, foreign languages, obscenity and causes, but those almost seem like they were thrown in in an effort to balance out the “women are disgusting slabs of meat” vibe. It’s like someone pored over womens’ bodies and labeled every part that identifies them as female as offensive. The prurient combination of specificity and euphemism creeps me out. The last sentence is referring to labia, for fuck’s sake!  I guess CBS wants to rule out bodysuits like the one Beyonce just wore in front of 108 million people at the Super Bowl. The fabric might shift while a woman is dancing her heart out, and it’s not like the network would ever think of not putting the camera right between her legs. I wonder if NBC sweated that kind of thing during the Olympics last year? All those bathing suits and leotards and track outfits were quite revealing, sometimes more so on men than women. Speaking of the dudes, will PBS require male ballet dancers wear burqas to cover those notoriously prominent crotches? Will the NFL mandate looser pants for players? No, because dress codes are primarily about women. Because a few have bad judgment — like a halter-dress-wearing intern on her first day at CNN — or are seeking attention, we all have to be condescended to.

I always thought there should be “gaze” codes. Like, avert your damn eyes, jerks. (That’s what I do whenever Justin Bieber shows his teenage abs.) It’s not that I mind being appropriate for my environment. I was okay with wearing suits and closed-toe shoes to my last corporate job at Lehman Brothers. But I didn’t care for the pantyhose requirement. I wasn’t going to wear “nude” hose in the summer and I was always praying some asshat — whether male or female — would comment so I could ask, “Why the fuck are you analyzing my legs during this meeting instead of focusing on the topic at hand?” No one ever dared, though. As for celebrities, the cameras are all up in their crotches and finding peculiar angles down their tops, and high-res photos show things that the human eye doesn’t catch. If you’re going to look so closely, I figure you get what you deserve. Stop staring at genitals and straining your eyes to search for nipples if those things bother you so much.

More than one website covering the dress-code story illustrated it with a photo of Pink performing at the Grammys in 2010. She wore a skin-tight, skin-toned bodysuit that covered very little, and it perfect for her jaw-droppingly beautiful, aerial performance.

Pink, Glitter in the Air – Grammy's 2010 by MiraJudazudik

By the way, those 108 million Super Bowl viewers who survived Beyonce’s bodysuit also survived winning Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco saying, “Fucking awesome!” loud and clear on the air. The network broadcasting the game? The very same CBS. I hope their standards people are as upset about that as they are about underboobs.

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37 Responses to “Wimmin-Haters and the Grammy Dress Code”

  1. Veshoevius says:

    Reading about women exposing the bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and I thought they might have been referring to the dress code in London amongst the clubbing set on a Saturday night.
    Seriously though – your point about this wardrobe advisory remit being akin to verbally cutting up a woman’s body on a butcher’s block and making it seem vile is food for thought.
    Any idea why the crackdown now?
    I have to say though that big stars dressing for a big event to maximise press coverage or for a stage performance in what are essentially stage costumes – that is one thing – you’re right – in terms of the “show” some of these racier costumes look amazing on the night and it shouldn’t be about “nudity” per se (like men in tights in ballet isn’t about their crotch) – it’s about celebrating the body beautiful. But young women wearing that kind of thing on the high street in town worries me (and I’m seeing it a lot). I like to think I’m no prude, but Rihanna and Beyonce get escorted home with bodyguards rather than having to get the night bus home drunk. I can’t believe that celebrity culture is not playing a role in influencing street culture here – though I’m sure that this wasn’t the concern of CBS when they issued this statement.

    • WendyB says:

      I’m always rolling my eyes about young women confusing their ordinary lives with people who basically wear costumes for a living …

      On the other hand, I clearly remember how worried parents and the media were about the Madonna wannabees in the early ’80s — and I thought then as I still do, that Madonna was nothing but empowering.

      So I guess it’s just going to happen every generation and in every generation old-timers will think, “This is MUCH worse than anything I did.”

      The gals with their bodies hanging out of their tacky bandage dresses now will be fighting with their daughters about showing too much sooner than they think.

    • stacy says:

      I’m sorry, but I can’t help but laugh at your choice of words (in a good way) — “crackdown!” Pun intended? lol.

  2. sulky kitten says:

    So, cover up all”female breast nipples” – thankfully, anyone with knee nipples should still be OK.I find this memo more offensive than any degree of bare skin.

  3. Poochie says:

    I’m currently reading The Sexual Politics of Meat and just watched MissRepresentation documentary. It’s sad how alive and well sexism and patriarchy are.

    Geezus… “puffy”

  4. Sexist requirement. Tired of this PC crap. The cameras need to stop focusing on the crotch & breast shots for sensationalism. Enjoy the glamour! Pink is amazing, I LOVE her and that was a beautiful performance. Her NYE performance was fantastic as well & made me want to seek out how I could learn to fly like that (not yet in the cards, need more strength training!) XXX

    • WendyB says:

      As if the Grammys didn’t get the most awesome press of all time from Jennifer Lopez’s famous Versace dress in 2000 … and she looked exquisite in it.

  5. Silvergirl says:

    i think it is funny that they had to clarify “female breasts”

  6. LOLs on the pantyhose at Lehmans. I wished one of my former workplaces had a dress code that included no combovers, no soup stains on ties, no shirt buttons straining to the max over the beer gut.

    We did have a customer at Scottish Power (an electricity utility) who liked to wear his dress shirts very tight. Tight enough to reveal his nipple rings. This was the early nineties in a pretty conservative industry sector. I thought he was awesome.

  7. LOLs on the pantyhouse at Lehmans. At one of my former workplaces, I wished for a dress code that specified no combovers, no soup stains on ties, and no shirt buttons straining over the beer gut.

    We had a customer at Scottish Power (an electricity utility) who liked to wear his dress shirts very tight. Tight enough to reveal his nipple rings. This was the early nineties in a pretty conservative industry sector. I thought he was awesome.

  8. AK says:

    I’m actually going to put the blame for this one on the FCC (and their friends the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family). It sounds like the network is scared of being fined for yet another wardrobe malfunction. And yes, I agree that the whole concept is arcane, sexist and puritan — just wanted to clarify to whom the anger might be better directed. 🙂

    • WendyB says:

      LOL, true, but “just following orders” doesn’t justify the weird butcher-shop language they used in the memo. There had to be some other way of expressing the idea without sounding like Peeping Toms. How about just telling the cameras/directors/producers to stay away from angles that may reveal more than the talent may have intended to? I’ve never understood those upskirt shots of performers anyway. It’s not flattering, nor does it represent what most people would really see in a concert with their own eyes.

      • AK says:

        Just saw your reply — yes, good point!

      • WendyB says:

        Have you ever seen/heard Seth MacFarlane’s FCC song from Family Guy? Highlarious.

      • AK says:

        I love that episode of Family Guy!

        I know too much about this topic b/c I used to consult to an organization that advocated against the FCC’s excessive puritan-ness on this very issue. Basically an FCC investigation (and thus, the potential for a fine) is triggered only when people complain about something that has aired. So orgs like the Parents Television Council actually seek out these “indecent” moments, blast their members to file complaints about shows they often haven’t even seen (it’s funny, they’ll often admit as much in their complaint), and voila, an FCC investigation and fine. It’s the ultimate of manufactured controversy, and they get away with it because the FCC’s rules are so wishy-washy, subjective and, until the summer 2012 Fox decision, subject to change without notice.

      • WendyB says:

        Yes, I’ve read a lot about how literally a couple of complaints can trigger all this bullshit. Meanwhile 108 million other people are totally fine with what went down … stupidity!

    • AK says:

      Adding the Parents Television Council to the blameworthy squad. Google them & FCC… I won’t be surprised to see some consequences for Flacco’s “fleeting expletive.” See also the Supreme Court’s summer 2012 ruling against Fox.

      • WendyB says:

        I feel like I haven’t heard much reaction to Flacco’s f-bomb. Maybe I’ve missed the outrage? I was definitely shocked by it. Not by the language, obviously, but by the fact that it got through after all these years we’ve been agonizing over a nipple. I wonder if the rules are different for an athlete: “Oh, it’s a guy, he just won the Super Bowl, he couldn’t help it in his joy.” Hmmm.

  9. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible ‘puffy’ bare skin exposure.” – WTF does that even mean?!?!?!?

  10. Tina says:

    I first heard about this on Dlisted and swore I thought Michael K was fucking with us!

  11. Noelle says:

    I came over here to thank you for featuring my Moschino devil dress on your blog. Thank YOU! It is one of my favourite pieces and that is saying a lot, since vintage Moschino is my weakness! I still remember seeing a post you did about the Moschino ‘You can dress me up’ dress pitting you VS Behati – team Wendy all the way, of course!

    So then I read this post – SWOON – feminism! Then I scroll down – DOUBLE SWOON – pekingese! My beautiful peke Ninja (looked just like Henry!) passed away two years ago and I may never recover, but I adopted another peke named Pony who is the second (dog) love of my life. It’s wonderful that you have taken in dogs in less than perfect health. You and Gigi are both too gorgeous. Even if Gigi is a Tibetan Spaniel after all!


    • WendyB says:

      Oh, so great to hear from you, Noelle! Please tell me where I can see photos of your Pekes. I’m obsessed with them! I couldn’t have another breed (except for Tibetan spaniels, of course).

  12. Noelle says:

    Yes, once you fall in love with a Peke, it’s hard to not become obsessed! This is Pony’s tumblr:

    I rescued her when a puppy mill in Michigan was shut down. She had been used as a breeding mama and had her first litter at the tender age of 7 months. 🙁 Due to this, she never grew past 6 lbs! She is the light of my life, and I’m always encouraged when I hear other stories of adopted Pekes!

  13. stacy says:

    I still stand by what I said to you when I first heard this. Everyone should wear burkas to the Grammys. Maybe I’ll do a post on that tomorrow.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    eh, they’re all a bunch of hypocrites.

  15. What an interesting post! You get me thinking about stuff I literally never think about otherwise. I am about to turn 55. I grew up in a non-feminist family environment and the culture of the communities I lived in were also largely non-feminist. I didn’t get exposed to the ideas until 1980, and then feminism changed my life. Madonna’s career started taking off when I was still in college. I remember her being a controversial figure, not just among adults but also my friends, including those strongly identifying as feminists. If I remember correctly, they saw her as condoning women being viewed/treated as sexual objects. I wasn’t sure what to make of it but I loved the music. It never occurred to me that younger women saw her as empowering, but I guess it makes sense! So there must be differences among feminists of different ages, as progress changes the battle front.