How did socks become sexualised? This student wants to know

by Hannah Ross / 06 July, 2017
When did socks become sexual? Photo / Getty Images

Follow up question: What does it mean for how society looks at school girls?

After a teacher at Nelson College for Girls made a passing comment that over the knee socks were, creepy porn-video looking, unless completely covered by the skirt, Year 13 student Madi Fulton Buckle was left thinking: Are over the knee socks seen as too sexual?

Two decades on from Britney Spears’ 'Baby One More Time' music video, what was once a distinctly unsexy item of clothing, socks, has been sexualised.  Then there’s the bigger issue: The sexualisation of school girls.

Madi is questioning her friends, school and community about the issue for a documentary, which she hopes will bring attention.

Let’s start off with this idea of the sexualisation of socks. Where did this come from?

There was talk at my school and comments made that were kind of warning us about how people might perceive us depending on our socks, kind of as silly as that sounds.

I kind of look at it as a representation of our society, which sparked this question of “where does this come from?”

I wanted to talk to people about it. Talk to guys about it - and girls about it - and see what they thought about this idea that socks can determine a person's perspective on what they think your behaviour is in terms of being sexual or not.

Do you think that socks are sexualised?

If you look at the media and the porn industry, women in the male gaze can be sexualised wearing socks, definitely, and this is linked into our everyday lives.

On a much deeper level, it's about the sexualisation of our clothes in general. It's often not about our behaviour but about what we’re wearing, which is completely absurd because I guess any piece of clothing can be sexualised if you’re acting sexual in it.

I definitely think there's this kind of stigma of this school girl look that is over sexualised and shouldn’t be, definitely in an educational sense, be sexualised at all.

I guess that whole schoolgirl look has been played on a lot, with Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea.

Yes, definitely, definitely! And that's where we see it happening in the media and that can happen with anything. We can see celebrities, or movie stars, or singers, or muscians, they can sexualise anything they want.

I mean that Britney Spears video, ‘Baby One More Time’, was pretty iconic but that was her claiming the look in the way she wanted it to be. And that's not a representation of all girls wearing that uniform right. If we look at well known TV shows, like Home and Away, that's their typical outfit.

My mum went to the same school as me when she was younger. That was a part of her uniform wearing these socks. But it was interesting to hear my school worry about the way the rest of our community might view us if we do have that bit of skin showing between the sock and the skirt.  

We’re all doing it. We’re all sexualising girls in this way, we're just not consciously doing it. I think it's a really good conversation to talk to adults about and I want to talk to boys about it.

This whole idea of "sexy school girls" is kind of weird as it plays on looking at a child in a sexual way.

Yes, exactly. That's why it's kind of controversial, and that is why people are kind of shocked by it. But it’s not actually. If I think about our society, I don't actually find it that shocking anymore.

It is something that is happening, I mean, if you look at what the majority of our young boys are watching on the internet in terms of pornography it's quite understandable that these links are being made. I think it's just really something that needs to be addressed because it shouldn't be happening on a school or educational level in anyway.

You’re doing this as been part of your Year 13 media studies documentary, right?

Yeah! I thought this would be a really interesting thing to talk about. I have this friend of mine explaining a story that happened to her while being at school that made her think of the over sexualisation of over the knee socks and then I talk to a group of Year 13 girls and a group of year 12 guys, and I kind of get some good banter going.

It's quite light and humorous, because I'm using the example of over the knee socks as something that can be sexualised, but there's much larger scale there. It's a small example but exists in a far larger picture.

When is this going to be finished? Will it be available for the public?

It's actually due on Friday. I’ve gotta hustle it along and finish editing. At the moment we have a school festival in Nelson which is in November that it will be screened at, but other then that I'm not sure what will happen.

And what do you want people to take away from this idea?

I want people to question their thinking. I don't think there is an easy way to just erase this because it's really engraved in our society and were surrounded by so much sexualisation in the media and constantly exposed to it.

But I think if we start talking about it, it can be, not necessary erased, but make us more aware as a society.

*Interview edited for brevity and clarity. 

This article was originally published by The Wireless.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Te Papa’s tribute a real Dagg
71078 2017-07-27 00:00:00Z Profiles

Te Papa’s tribute a real Dagg

by Russell Baillie

The late John Clarke left some big boots to fill. Now you can go see them at Te Papa.

Read more
Manawatu Gorge: Simon Bridges hints at big bucks alternative
76903 2017-07-27 00:00:00Z Economy

Manawatu Gorge: Simon Bridges hints at big bucks a…

by Pattrick Smellie

Years of avoiding the question of an alternative road appear to be over.

Read more
How to overcome comfort eating
76877 2017-07-27 00:00:00Z Nutrition

How to overcome comfort eating

by Jennifer Bowden

Cutting back on chocolate and other indulgences calls for breaking a vicious cycle of comfort eating. Here’s how.

Read more
Baby Driver's Ansel Elgort on the making of this must-see film
77071 2017-07-26 17:42:03Z Movies

Baby Driver's Ansel Elgort on the making of this m…

by India Hendrikse

Actor Ansel Elgort talks to Paperboy about starring in the hit film Baby Driver, doing stunts, and his contribution to the incredible soundtrack.

Read more
How to stop wasting food: These Aucklanders show us how
77051 2017-07-26 16:04:01Z Social issues

How to stop wasting food: These Aucklanders show u…

by Leisha Jones

Meet some of the Auckland champs turning food destined for the bin into three-course dinners and inventive dishes.

Read more
Jesse Mulligan is giving Mike Hosking a run for his money
77043 2017-07-26 15:40:00Z Profiles

Jesse Mulligan is giving Mike Hosking a run for hi…

by Julie Hill

The Project host talks about government underfunding of DoC, being told to cheer up by Maggie Barry, and wanting to crush Hosking.

Read more
How doco-maker Annie Goldson captured a remarkable portrait of Kim Dotcom
77035 2017-07-26 14:58:08Z Movies

How doco-maker Annie Goldson captured a remarkable…

by Anthony Byrt

Documentary maker Annie Goldson has gone behind the headlines to create a remarkable portrait of Kim Dotcom – the man who changed the way we use the i

Read more
Bill English gives nod to David Seymour and Peter Dunne for electorate votes
77016 2017-07-26 13:04:17Z Politics

Bill English gives nod to David Seymour and Peter …

by Jane Patterson

It's still "party vote National", but the PM says he wants National voters to support the Act leader in Epsom and United Future leader in Ohariu.

Read more