Making a Mountain Out of a Miniskirt

This girl needs to learn how to pick her battles and her mom needs some parenting lessons.

"A fourth-grader is protesting a rule by her school principal that bans the kinds of miniskirts she likes to wear. Zoe Hinkle, 10, and her mother, Leslie, say there’s nothing wrong with the skirt. It has shorts sewn into it underneath, Leslie says."

The editorial staff at the Pitt News summed up my feelings well.

"Zoe isn’t rallying to keep an arts program alive. She isn’t holding signs demanding healthier food in the cafeteria or better cages for class gerbils."

"Nope. This little girl is rallying for the right to wear her miniskirts to class. She got in trouble for having skirts that were too short last fall, and this spring the principal, Claire Miller, informed the school’s girls that their skirts must fall below the knee."

"Zoe’s mother sees nothing wrong with her daughter’s fashionable outfits, most of which come from Limited Too. The skirts, she says, have shorts sewn in under them and none of her daughter’s clothing is provocative."

"People can judge this for themselves; a photograph of the miniskirted girl is available on the Tribune-Review’s Web site. Although she is only 10 – still years away from being a teen-ager – she is dressed to fit in at any college party."

"No one is an adult at 10-years-old. Children do not get to make all of their own decisions and do not always understand the implications of their actions. Zoe’s mother, and the mothers of many of these girls, should know better than to dress their children in the sort of clothing that may elicit stares from older men. They owe it to their daughters to explain what the consequences of wearing certain styles can be."

"Instead of getting hyped up about proving how right she is, Zoe and her peers should be learning to respect the authority of school officials. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line when it comes to dress codes – every school measures things differently – but the principal has made this decision in the best interest of the students she is responsible for."

"Whether the idea to rally was Zoe’s idea or her mother’s, the fact remains that it is a misguided attempt. That a young child values her rights this much is admirable – but these rights do not extend to school grounds. If the principal says knee-length or longer then that’s the rule, regardless of the Constitution."

PittGirl offers some good insights as well.

"Let the girls — whose parents are cool with them wearing short skirts — buy the skirts in whatever length they wish because that is freedom of expression. But a good life lesson is this, you don’t always get to wear what you want. For instance, I would like to wear jeans and flipflops to work and for this reason alone I have begun a campaign to get hired at American Eagle. But currently, I must dress in business attire because that is what I am told to do. Now sure, I can show my hot self up at work tomorrow in my torn jeans and my cute little flipflops, but I’ll probably get reprimanded for it."

"So if that were my daughter I would tell her this: leave your miniskirts for your weekends at the mall but if your school says it is too short, tough cookies, sweetie. Life is unfair. Now get to school."

She also links to a video of the protest’s aftermath. Miss Hinkle was a bit distraught at the low turnout and cried "like someone ran over her puppy", saying, "This is something really big and really important. I thought I was going to have a good protest. I worked so hard."

Really important? Local blogger Alektra disagrees.

"YOU’RE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! WHAT DO YOU NEED A MINISKIRT FOR?…Maybe, Ms. Hinkle, you should teach your daughter to stop protesting good school rules and stop letting your daughter follow overly sexual trends when she’s TEN. Maybe she could, oh, I don’t know, study or do the things you talked about on TV – ballet and ice skating. Just don’t tell me that you really plan to send your daughter into school in a tutu and tights and expect the other kids not to be distracted from THEIR studies."

Ironically, Mr and Mrs. Hinkle blame the principal for sexualizing their daughter.

"In today’s society, our children are forced to grow up rapidly. We feel that it is totally inappropriate that a figure of authority has the right to instill the perception upon a then 9-year-old that she should think of herself in a sexual context."

"The reality of the world will come in due time and we, as parents of a teenager, are well armed to handle that certainty. We do not feel that it is the job of an elementary school principal to take it upon herself to decide when adolescents become young adults."

Huh?  There are lots of forces in society pressuring kids to grow up too fast, most of which are related to the media.  Zoe no doubt learned how to dress provacatively from watching girls and women do likewise on TV and in movies.  I’m sure she experiences a lot of peer pressure to fit in, too.  Instead of protesting the principal for taking a stand to protect those in his charge, why don’t you work toward making women realize that they are not defined by their sexiness or lack thereof, Mrs. Hinkle?  Do you want Zoe to end up like these girlsA recent study showed that hypersexualized media lead kids to explore their sexuality at earlier ages.

"Sexually charged music, magazines, TV and movies push youngsters into intercourse at an earlier age, perhaps by acting as kind of virtual peer that tells them everyone else is doing it, a study said Monday."


"In general it found that the highest exposure levels led to more sexual activity, with white teens in the group 2.2 times more likely to have had intercourse at ages 14 to 16 than similar youngsters who had the least exposure."


"The teenage pregnancy rate in the United States is three to 10 times higher than that found in other industrialized nations, making that and exposure to sexually transmitted infections a major public health concern, the study said.

"At the same time parents tend not to talk about sex with their children in a timely and comprehensive way, leaving a vacuum in which the media may become a powerful sex educator, providing ‘frequent and compelling portraits of sex as fun and risk free.’"


"Youngsters ‘may begin to believe the world view portrayed and may begin to adopt the media’s social norms as their own. Some, especially those who have fewer alternative sources of sexual norms, such as parents or friends, may use the media as a kind of sexual superpeer that encourages them to be sexually active,’ the report added."

Contrast this inane protest with the Abercrombie & Fitch girlcott. Was it a little frivolous? Perhaps. The cause of combatting sexism and glorification of promiscuity was good, though. These little brats don’t realize that they’re buying into the same misogynistic agenda. The crybaby’s setting herself to be a sex object for the rest of her life. I pity her and I would love to slap the taste out of her mom’s mouth.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

6 thoughts on “Making a Mountain Out of a Miniskirt

  1. Peter

    I suppose the purpose of not letting a girl wear short skirts to school is to avoid sexual objectification.

    But she’s ten years old.

    Wait a minute. If she’s not allowed, at ten years old, to wear short skirts because she might be construed sexually, isn’t that an admission by all of the authorities involved that a ten year old girl in a short skirt can be too sexy? But wait, I thought finding young girls attractive was Pure Evil™, right? (I mean, what about that fellow from Homeland Security who was busted for talking to an imaginary underage girl?)

    No, that can’t be it. Right? But if we put her in the same short skirt, took a picture, and then plastered her picture on a bunch of merchandise in order to induce consumers to buy, would people complain? Nobody complained about Abercrombie and Fitch until their pictures started to look not just like kids in not enough clothing, but like kids in not enough clothing and doing things that they shouldn’t be doing.

    The kid is cute. She likes wearing the short skirt. God knows why. I don’t really care. She’s ten freaking years old; she can’t think for herself yet, not if she’s a product of public schools at least. The mother is the “brains” behind the operation. I know a few mothers like that. They’re dimwitted fools who think the only way for their daughters to be successful is by turning them into sex symbols.

    Is she on the road to sexual objectification and ruin? I don’t know, nor do I care. But the fact that adults are worried that a ten year old girl can possibly look too sexy is a complete betrayal of the idea that people who find little girls sexually attractive are some how deviants, isn’t it? I imagine a bunch of grown men sitting around pulling at their collars and dabbing sweat from their foreheads, wishing that ten year old girl in the short skirt would just cover up, but then turning around and decrying child pornography. Hypocrites.

  2. Funky Dung

    “I imagine a bunch of grown men sitting around pulling at their collars and dabbing sweat from their foreheads, wishing that ten year old girl in the short skirt would just cover up, but then turning around and decrying child pornography. Hypocrites.”

    You’ve missed the point. With the right clothes and makeup, a 10-yr-old girl can look like a teenager, thus opening her up to sexual advances from teenage boys. A little girl should be more worried about looking cute or being comfortable than looking fashionable or sexy. Kids are becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages and most parents are oblivious to it. Instead of helping her daughter protest the principal’s decision, she should have explained to her daughter why she shouldn’t be trying so hard to be fashionalble, because fashion is so tied to sexuality. Ten is old enough to talk about birds and bees. She’ll be having her period soon if she hasn’t already. Better she learn before the hormones kick in than after, anyway.

    Anyhow, this isn’t a matter of hypocritical letches trying to avoid tempation. It’s about protecting innocence. The poor girl doesn’t know any better. Her parents should know better and take responsibility for protecting her. They failed to, so the principal stepped in. That’s his right and I applaud him for it.

  3. Peter

    It’s about protecting innocence.

    Only if you believe innocence actually exists, or is worth protecting. Having worked in classrooms with children as young as kindergarten, I was often shocked by the things kids know or can infer, and then talk about amongst each other. And when I think back to my own experiences growing up, I can’t remember ever not knowing what sex was about.

    I think this ten year old girl knows exactly why she likes the miniskirt (and I suspect her classmates do, too). What I don’t think she understands is why it’s an issue or whether it should be one. That will take her ten or fifteen more years to figure out.

  4. advogado de diabo

    First, I have to say I had forgotten how bad the local news was in Pittsburgh. I can’t believe how much time they spent on a crying ten year old.

    I think this ten year old girl knows exactly why she likes the miniskirt

    True, thinking back to when I was ten, I was sexually attracted to the girls in my class. Its easy to forget what was going on in your mind back then.

    no doubt learned how to dress like a slut

    I think this comment in unnecessarily harsh and inaccurate.

    Finally as much as I hated wearing uniforms in grade school, and enjoyed checking out girls in minskirts, I think uniforms should be mandatory in public schools. That would take care of this issue and a bunch of others at the same time.

  5. Mark La Roi

    When I blogged about this her parents (or someone pretending to be her father) responded and I’ll summarize what my reply:

    It is about sex but it’s also about priority. She’s not there to be a fashion plate no matter how important that is to a girl. She’s there to learn and has not only disrupted (with the help of her mother) her own learning, but also that of the kids around her. For what? To wear a short skirt.

    Priorities way out of order and being reinforced at home.

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