Ayesha Curry's Clothing Preference May Be Presumptuous, But It's Not Offensive
If there's one thing social media is known for, it's creating a mob mentality against those who attempt to police others with their opinions. No one knows that more today than Ayesha Curry, who set off a Twitter debate on sexism and patriarchy when she expressed her preference for dressing modestly and reserving her "good stuff" only for her husband, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.
The next day, her husband took a jab at social media bullies by posting a flattering photo of his wife with the caption "My Woman...#theinstigator."
In these times of SlutWalks and sexual assault victim-blaming, it's easy to see why many feminists took offense to Ayesha Curry's assumption that when a woman wears sexy clothing, it's for the sole intention of getting the attention of a man. The inherent judgment that a woman wearing revealing clothing while owning and expressing her sexuality can't be classy also didn't sit well with many, but there's more to what Curry said than meets the feminist eye.
The Currys are devout Christians. Rarely does an opportunity go by that the two don't speak about their faith and how it shapes their day-to-day lives. Christian women are taught to be modest from the time they first set foot in a church, and part of that modesty is wrapped up in the underlying teaching that you are to glorify God with your body, which is only meant to be shared with your husband once you make a covenant before God. It may be an antiquated school of thought by today's standards. It may even be heavily rooted in sexist patriarchy when you consider the authors of the Bible and the times in which its chapters were written. Nevertheless, it's a belief system that the Currys proudly subscribe to, and Ayesha Curry has every right to share her conviction, just as those who don't agree with her do.
For all the criticism the 26-year-old has received, what many failed to notice is what Curry didn't do, which is tell other women they need to follow in her footsteps. What she did do was pass judgment on what clothing says about a woman. A covered-up woman shouldn't be seen as any classier than a woman wearing a miniskirt. They're both merely wardrobe choices, and Curry should recognize that.
However, there's a clear distinction between opinions like Curry's and body-policing messages of certain staunch religious leaders. For example, Louis Farrakhan recently suggested that Jay Z has a responsibility to see that his wife, Beyonce, is covered up. (I'm in no way implying Ayesha Curry and Farrakhan are on the same level, by the way, just comparing the opposing views.) The basis of Farrakhan's argument, that "a man is made into a dog by a way a woman presents herself to a man," is not unlike the victim-blaming rhetoric women are bombarded with daily. The opinion that a man needs to govern what his woman wears so that he can behave like a decent human being is one that wholly serves to absolve men of any accountability for their actions.
That's problematic. That's sexist. That's patriarchy.
That's also not what Curry said.
At no point did she say Stephen Curry prefers, requires or demands she reserve her "good stuff" for him -- and neither has he, for that matter. She said, "I like to keep the good stuff covered up," which suggests she has ownership over her body and how much or little of it she'll show. Further, she didn't say she chooses to cover up to wane the attention of other men or prevent a violation of any sort or even to honor her husband.
She simply shared what she likes to do and if, as feminists, we claim to fight for the right for women to do, say, live and dress any way they so choose, then we need to be fine with Ayesha Curry's preference instead of being offended.
Brande Victorian is the managing editor of MadameNoire.com. You can catch up on all of her writing on Brandevictorian.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @Be_vic.