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Standing up to the ‘Girls Gone Wild’ culture

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 27, 2004 09:11 AM

The National Debate links to my Clare Booth Luce Institute speech, which aired on C-SPAN2 yeserday. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

I’m appending the full speech below.

Standing up to the “Girls Gone Wild” culture

Speech for the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute’s Conservative Leadership Seminar

July 26, 2004

Much of my reporting and writing is focused on national security and immigration enforcement. But I also write about cultural issues and this afternoon, I want to address the need for a different kind of “homeland defense.” As the mother of a 4 year old girl and an 8 month old boy, I am increasingly dismayed by the liberal assault on decency, the normalization of promiscuity, and the mainstream media’s role as shameless collaborators.

First, let me tell you about my new hero. Her name is Ella Gunderson and she’s a student at Holy Family Parish School in Kirkland, Washington. As reported in the Seattle Times a few months ago, Ella recently wrote a remarkable letter to the Nordstrom’s department store chain.

“Dear Nordstrom,” she began. “I’m an 11-year-old girl who has tried shopping at your store for clothes, in particular jeans, but all of them ride way under my hips, and the next size up is too big and falls down. They’re also way too tight, and as I get older, show everything every time I move. I see all of these girls who walk around with pants that show their belly button and underwear. Even at my age I know that that is not modest�With a pair of clothes from your store, I’d walk around showing half of my body and not fully dressed…Your clerk suggested there is only one look. If that is true, then girls are supposed to walk around half naked. I think maybe you should change that.”

All it took was one little girl to speak her mind about the excesses of our “Girls Gone Wild” culture. And guess what? The market, in a small way, responded. Nordstrom executives wrote back and pledged to young Ella Gunderson that they would try to broaden the clothes choices for girls. “Your letter really got my attention,” wrote Kris Allan, manager of the local Nordstrom’s where Ella shopped. “I think you are absolutely right. This look is not particularly a modest one and there should be choices for everyone.”

Do you remember Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous phrase “Defining deviancy down?” This ultra-low-rider trend has given that phrase a whole new meaning. Even pregnant women can’t escape it! When I was in my second trimester with my son last year, I wrote about a trip to my neighborhood mall’s maternity store. The only jeans in my size were ridiculous low-risers with flared bottoms that needed hiking every time I exhaled. Trust me. I speak from personal experience: Plumber’s crack looks as awful on pregnant mommies as it does on plumbers.

Back to little Ella Gunderson’s story. Here’s the best part. She and her friends didn’t wait around for Nordstrom’s to change its inventory. With help from her mom and 37 of her classmates, Ella organized a fashion show to model decent clothes for girls aged 10 to 16. The sold-out show, called “Pure Fashion,” drew a crowd of 250; two other clothing stores donated modest clothes; the girls got a standing ovation; and the event raised money for the Catholic Challenge Club network, which encourages young girls to stand up for their faith and their values in an increasingly secular and hostile world.

Nordstrom’s deserves some credit here, too, for its modest display of corporate responsibility. Compare them to Abercrombie and Fitch, which refused to pull a line of thongs for young girls after receiving pressure from thousands of parents across the country. These kiddie thongs, which had the words “eye candy” and “wink wink” printed on the front, were marketed to children as young as seven. “It’s cute and fun and sweet,” said Hampton Carney, a spokesman for Abercrombie and Fitch.

This is the dictionary definition of what Hoover Institution scholar Mary Eberstadt dubbed “pedophilia chic:” A grown man getting paid to say that he thinks dressing pre-teens in rearless underwear is “cute and fun and sweet.”

Cute and fun and sweet. That’s probably the same thing a Florida Hooter’s restaurant manager thought, too, when he attempted to hold a “Little Miss Hooters” contest for girls 5 years old and under. According to Stacy Tabb, who called up the restaurant after spotting a billboard advertising the contest, the toddlers would be required to dress in little orange spandex shorts and tiny Hooters t-shirts tied-up like the waitresses wear them. Sick. Tabb used her popular weblog, titled Sekimori, to publicize this atrocious event and shame Hooter’s management into doing something about it.

“The cretin who thought up this little sideshow should be hung by his/her heels from the nearest tree, beaten with sawgrass whips, then covered with sugar water and fire ants,” Tabb wrote. “My displeasure has been expressed to the local news outlets and will shortly be expressed directly to whatever corporate suits I can get my hands on.” Thanks to Tabb’s scathing online campaign, the corporate suits cancelled “Little Miss Hooters.”

Internet Web logs can be an incredible force for good. With help from the talented Ms. Tabb, I’ve recently started my own blog at www.michellemalkin.com, and I can’t tell you how many incredibly smart, dogged, and invaluable bloggers I’ve “met” online. They provide some of the most trenchant analysis on the War on Terror, domestic politics, and everyday life.

But blogs can also serve as exhibitionist outlets that highlight the worst of America’s tell-all and show-all tendencies. Which brings me to Jessica Cutler, the former Capitol Hill staffer who was fired earlier this spring for using Senate computers to post to an explicit blog that chronicled her casually deviant trysts with six different men in Washington. The Washington Post ran with the story after an online Washington blogger originally “broke” the story. So what was this blogger’s ground-breaking investigative technique? She drank and danced the night away with Jessica Cutler and they posed for soft porn pictures together at a club.

Both women ended up all over TV and the newspapers. Jessica has a $300,000 book deal, an upcoming Playboy photo shoot, and a Washington Post magazine front cover article coming soon. Wonkette, Ana Marie Cox, nabbed appearances on CNN and FOX, and signed on to an MTV reporting gig during which she’ll cover the Democratic National Convention this week. I guess the lesson is that if you are a young professional woman in Washington, the key to success lies with Lesbian Chic.

I’m sick of the skankettes and their pimps in my business and I’m not alone. Let me read one of hundreds of positive mails I received:

“Michelle, when I found out about the slutty (I don’t use the word flippantly) actions of one of my former “colleagues,” I was disgusted and shocked. I just wanted to make sure that people didn’t paint all bottom-of-the-barrel staffers on the Hill with the same brush as used for Ms. Cutler. I gave up a $60k job to intern without pay for 6 months. Then I accepted a job as a staff assistant that has a salary that does not cover my living expenses and school loan payments. To make up for it, I work part-time as a barrista at a local coffee shop on the Hill. This isn’t to pat myself on the back, but to give people the assurance that there are individuals with morals and class that are trying hard to make a positive impact on politics in this town.

Sure there are shallow people on the Hill that are only interested in power and influence (for power and influence’s sake), but you will find people like that in many fields. But here on the Hill, there is a significant population of staffers that are committed to ideals that we hope will make America a better place… and we promote those ideals with our morals in tow.”

As I look around this room, I am confident that each and every one of you shares this letter-writer’s commitment to defending American ideals and morals. But from the way the mainstream media covers your generation and mine, you would think this room was empty.

From the way the mainstream media covers your generation and mine, you would think that we are the freaks and misfits.

From the way the mainstream media covers your generation and mine, you would think that it’s normal to dress up in Hooters outfits at 5 years old, to wear sex bracelets and discuss oral sex at 10, to flash your breasts for the cameras at 15, to get paid for anal sex at 20, to keep Excel spreadsheets of sexual conquests, and to use abortion as birth control until menopause.

When conservative women say “Have some self-respect,” liberals in the media call us self-righteous.

When conservative women say promiscuity is degrading and self-destructive, liberals in the media call us prudes.

When liberals won’t shut up about their sordid sex lives and we object, they call us rude.

When liberal women raise their voices, they are praised as “passionate.” When conservative women raise their voices, we are condemned as “shrill.”

Liberals and libertines who can’t complete a sentence without using gutter profanity have turned modesty, monogamy, faith, and self-restraint into dirty words. Well, if teaching young girls to act like ladies instead of animals is now considered offensive, I support obscenity 100 percent.

How do we stand up to the Girls Gone Wild culture? Ella Gunderson, the girl who asked Nordstrom’s to sell decent clothing has shown us how. Stacy Tabb, the outspoken blogger who killed the “Little Miss Hooters” contest, has shown us how. The Capitol Hill letter-writer who stood up and rejected the idea that getting ahead requires shedding your morals and your clothes has shown us how. Go ahead and be “self-righteous.”

Be “prudes.” Be “rude.” Be “shrill.” And never, ever feel ashamed for asking out loud: Have you no shame?

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