Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cheapening Oneself

About once a week I see a young female student on campus. I notice her because she wants to be noticed. She wears a three-sizes-too-small bright blue t-shirt that has the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" logo, but instead reads "Dick's Last Resort."

She cuts a striking figure in that outfit, but I wonder if she's ever deconstructed what those words mean when they are emblazoned across her chest.

Shall I spell it out? Dick is a euphemism for "penis." Last resort, is the last place you want to be; in warfare it is your last defensive position before your ultimate demise. Since it's possessive, and since she wears the slogan across her body, the effect is to say that she is the last person someone would want to have sex with, that she is the person someone will try to bed when they are so desperate they'll take whatever they can get.

There is some fifteen-year-old sex joke humor here, but she's older than that now. Her shirt cheapens her. It probably makes people laugh, but when you stop and think, man what a horrible self-esteem destroyer that shirt is. It reminds me of a quote I like to use often:

George Patton, Sr., father to the famous general, in 1918, when his son was 34, wrote him this advice:

Another gift you have developed I really regret and that is the ability to write verse upon vulgar & smutty subjects--That is very dangerous. The very men to whom you read & recite such stuff as your last one will laugh--and apparently enjoy it--but you have really lowered yourself in their eyes--above all it lacks dignity--and you need to cultivate that especially in view of your rank. All my life I have known such instances--and never had it failed in my experience--that the Club wit--who indulges in smuty stuff hurts himself. You may some day want to enter public life--but you must couple with your talent in these two respects great self restraint & sense of dignity--most men have no real sense of humor--& fail to distinguish other matters of this sort from realities & judge on accordingly. All the really big men I have known--abstained from repeating vulgar stories--and all who were facile in speech--cultivate great reserve--or if they sometimes forgot themselves--always suffered for the lapse. I don't want to preach and will say no more but I am sure your own judgement--upon reflection will agree with mine.

I wish someone would pull this girl aside and have the right words to make her see how truly unfunny her shirt really is without offending her. She is young; she doesn't have the longview. I'm not judging her for wearing it; I'm just mentioning that stuff like her shirt makes me really sad.


chattypatra said...

What does it say under "Dick's Last Resort"? Dallas?

This is a great post and I thank you for the George Patton, Sr. quote to his son. Coming from a family of Army veterans, and having met a good number of soldiers, I wish it was required reading for ALL the branches of the military. Then again, that's simply naive optimism on my part.

What I don't understand is why you did not talk to her. Is it against University policy? Did you think she would accuse you of being a dirty old man, or sue you for xyz reasons? Did you think you would lose your job, were you afraid to say anything, or did you not know what to say at the moment?

I'm not judging you. Honestly. It's just that, having read many of your posts by now, you come across as such a righteous man that it seems strange you'd stay quiet.

Mac said...


Welcome to the Daily Miscellany! Always glad to have another vocal reader.

I didn't say anything to her for a few reasons:

#1 Would you ever take advice about your appearance from a stranger? I know I wouldn't.

#2 I am a man, and in today's world, that means that I am suspect, always. It's sad, but men have to be careful nowadays. If my comments to her were misconstrued, it could be deemed sexual harassment...which it's decidely not. But, better safe than sorry. I've worked too hard and too long to risk screwing it up by taking a chance on offending the wrong person.

#3 This is the kind of thing that's best left to a good friend, someone who can say, look, you're cheapening yourself. That's how people get through to others...there has to be a relationship of trust before you can go criticizing other people. Praise publicly, reprove in private.

#4 My blog posts are not to get her to change in particular, but to get others to act when they see something inside their sphere of influence that they can change.

Also, her particular shirt says "Myrtle Beach" below the restaurant name.

chattypatra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chattypatra said...

Te comprendo. Desgraciadamente, en este mundo pagan justos por pecadores.

Una de mis amigas contó en su página lo que le pasó con un anciano que es miembro de nuestro barrio aquí en la ciudad. Ella tenía el pelo largo y muy bonito, pero decidió recortárselo.

Cuando llegó a la capilla ese domingo, este hermano se le acercó a decirle algo como...

- ¿Por qué te recortaste el pelo tan corto? ¡Tan bonito que lo tenías! Ahora pareces un muchacho. Mi esposa siempre llevaba el pelo largo y se veía hermosa.
- Uhhh...Uhhh. Tenía mucho calor.

¡Ja! Desde entonces el pobre hombre quedó tildado de viejo verde entre ella y sus amigas.

Qué injusto, ¿no? Así es la vida. La falta de empatía nos está matando. No siempre es fácil comprendernos los unos a los otros.

P.D: Tus comentarios también serán bienvenidos en mi página.

thewmes said...

There is another possible translation to this shirt and it's location you may want to consider before you judge this girl too harshly. In either case your opinion may remain the same.