It all started with the apple. She took a bite, and suddenly Eve had designated all women for the rest of history as man’s greatest temptation to sin. Recently, Rep. David “Doc” Moore (R) of Missoula, Montana proposed House Bill 365 that would expand Montana’s definition of public indecency. The Billings Gazette reports that “the proposal would expand indecent exposure laws to include any nipple exposure, including men’s, and any garment that ‘gives the appearance or simulates’ a person’s buttocks, genitals, pelvic area or the female nipple.” Moore then went on to make a statement after the hearing that “Yoga pants should be illegal in public anyway.” He later retracted the statement, saying that it was a joke that got blown out of proportion.
Whether his statement was meant as a joke or not, the point is that this law comes from a place of such sexism. In our culture, tight clothing is most often worn by women; and so, this law unfairly targets them.
When women are told that they have to mask their bodies in order to be considered “decent,” or not considered indecent, it takes away the power that comes with being a female. It sends the message that having nipples or a big butt or curves or showing off one’s figure is not something to be proud of.
In a society where men already hold higher paying jobs and are more likely to succeed with less education and less training than women, Montana can’t afford to further the gap by passing sexist laws that put women and their bodies below those of men.
Being a woman is not offensive, and I would argue that with perspective, neither is nudity. It’s a natural state that people are born in despite its taboo nature in our culture. If Moore wants to level the playing field and eliminate the sexist nature of this outlandish law, here are a few other things that “Doc” should have included in his bill:
- Sports Illustrated, Outdoor Life, Men’s Health, and ESPN Magazine, because women sometimes find it hard to ignore their primal attraction to men. We must be protected from the arousing images of big, burly men doing big, manly things.
- Men cooking, cleaning or playing with children because it really bothers women when men do things that challenge their ideas about femininity.
- Dying. In fact, I can’t think of anything more offensive. How dare anyone remind me of my mortality.
- The fact that women make $0.75 for every $1.00 that men make in Montana. Maybe if women made as much money as men, they would be able to afford the same standard of clothing.
In all seriousness, though, I am extremely disappointed this bill is what certain Montana legislators have chosen to spend their time on. We’re at a time in history when equality is no longer the question, but the goal. Although the bill has been tabled, this type of bill moves society backwards, reintroducing ancient ideas about the temptress nature of women instead of moving society forward and reinforcing ideas about tolerance, fairness and equal opportunity.
Other recent bills propose changes to policy about pollution, speed limits, the death penalty, sexual assaults and privacy. These are all issues that have the ability to affect Montana’s future interpretation of important topics like civil rights, property rights, rights to privacy, freedom and security. Rep. Moore’s bill is an insult to all of the serious issues at stake here. It’s a wake-up call to voters: who are we electing to represent us in government? Essentially, who are we giving our voices to?