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Are We Iran?

        Half naked women are common sights in city streets every summer (and all year round in warmer climes.)  We argue about whether this skimpy, sexualized public attire represents the rise or fall of feminism, but there’s virtually no dispute about its legality.  So when municipalities start criminalizing baggy, underwear exposing jeans, generally associated with young black males, you know legislators are motivated by something other than a concern for decency.  Young white women are not arrested for letting their bra straps show (in addition to a fair amount of flesh.)  But as the New York Times recently reported, in some localities, young black males may be arrested for showing their boxers.
      
        Yes, baggy jeans are condemned for imitating prison wear and glamorizing prison culture, as Times story stresses – but that simply means that they’re worn to send a message, (however disturbing or offensive,) which only makes banning them all the more illegal.  In a culture preoccupied with fashion “statements,” the expressive nature of clothing is difficult to deny.  When clothing is condemned precisely because authorities don’t like the statement it makes, the offense to the constitution is clear.  I hope these laws are challenged.  Courts may overlook some restrictions on clothing in public schools, (the Supreme Court has recently cut back on student rights,) but I like to think that even this Court would hesitate to approve clothing restrictions in public streets.  In America, as opposed to, say, Iran, we’re not supposed to take the job of clothing police so literally.


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