July 20, 2019

Maryann White (AKA Leggings Mom) Is Not the Enemy

“No, I will not be writing about Maryann White.

It’s mostly a blessing and occasionally a hazard of this job that readers send me column ideas — things from the news that have made them angry. Hence, my inbox Thursday was full of the same repeated suggestion, linking to the same article: A University of Notre Dame mom named Maryann White had written a letter to the student newspaper, which was published as “The Legging Problem.”

The problem, as she saw it, was that young women were wearing them. She postulated that leggings “make it hard on Catholic mothers to teach their sons that women are someone’s daughters and sisters.” Her own sons were “nice guys,” but leggings were a temptation too far. Ladies, she pleaded. Stop wearing leggings so moms like her could stop finding “scarves to tie over the eyes of their sons to protect them from you!”

No, I won’t be writing about her.

At least, not in the way that readers seemed to want. Not in a way that “mocked” her, as one suggested. Not in a scorched-earth diatribe. What would be the point? Within hours of the letter spreading, the earth was already scorched. Demonstrations had already been organized where participants were invited to come in leggings. People were already infuriated by the implication that women were temptresses and men were helpless walking hormones. The public was already having the correct emotional response.”

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