I know another GT-er sometimes does these but I can’t remember who, so apologies in advance if I’m stealing someone’s thunder! Today’s Dear Prudence was just SO BAD that I couldn’t hold back.
[original question and answer]
Q. Wardrobe Malfunction: The other day I saw a woman walking outside at my university whose skirt had ridden up high enough in the back to see the bottom of her underwear. I considered telling her but decided against it because I am a man and did not want to come across as creepy. She looked college-aged and I am in my mid 20s in grad school. Did I make the right decision?
A: When our family was in Toronto last year, we all went out on a very windy day. Our teenage daughter was wearing a very short skirt and while walking down a main boulevard, a polite Canadian woman came up to her and said, “Eh, excuse me. So sorry to tell you, but your bum is totally out.” (This has become a catchphrase for our family.) However, I think you made the totally right decision not to mention to this student that her bum was totally out. Given the hypersensitive atmosphere on campus today (see the great Atlantic piece “The Coddling of the American Mind”), it was probably best that you didn’t approach an unknown female with the information you could view her nether regions. Indeed, It seems ridiculous not to warn a stranger about a wardrobe malfunction, but sadly I think you were right to consider your advice could be wildly misconstrued.
[comment from a reader, and Prudie’s response]
Q. Re: Wardrobe Malfunction: I think it would have been OK to say something. Once, while walking through a crowded train station, a man tapped me on my shoulder to bashfully tell me that my skirt was pulled up and stuck in my backpack. It was apparent that this man felt awkward about telling me, but he was the only one to step up and do so, and I was very grateful.
A: Of course it’s OK! Anyone should be grateful to be told their nether regions are inadvertently on display. But this young man was reflecting on his assessment of the potential peril of tapping a fellow student on the shoulder and saying he was observing her underwear. It seems ridiculous to have to think such a benign act could be misconstrued. But if you read some of the extreme sexual harassment codes in place at universities, you will understand why this young man rightly hesitated to speak.
AARRRRGGHHHH. Prudie is just so. damn. bad. on all things sexual harassment/gender-based violence/rape culture. She’s pretty progressive on other stuff, but on these issues she turns into an MRA talking point - and yet it’s so clear that she thinks that she is the lone liberal voice of reason in a world gone crazy, and is patting herself on the back for these precious pearls of wisdom. The worst part is, the LW actually seems nice and thoughtful, but Prudie railroads his question into some stupid rant about our overly-PC culture, and then, when someone attempts to explain why she might be exaggerating the situation, she doubles down. UGH.