A blank canvas—an item to be styled or worn alone, the white tee is lazy or elegant, sexy or grungy. When wet, however, the white tee becomes something else entirely. It’s a complicated cultural symbol. Like most garments, its significance is defined largely by its wearer and the style in which it’s worn. When you factor in ideas about class and the friction of hedonist concupiscence rubbing against American Puritan ethos, the white t-shirt contest opens a dialog of sociological intrigue. But can the wet t-shirt contest be feminist?
At one time, I used to think that as an object, a woman was unable to gaze astutely at the world herself. But people slip in and out of dominance and submission all the time. What appeals to me about the wet t-shirt contest is the ease with which a woman can shift states of modesty at will. That’s a powerful feat, especially because historically, women have struggled to move freely within the trappings of modesty. Or rather, expectations of feminine modesty have been historically limiting to women… read more >