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Game day in the SEC and beyond shouldn’t be about slut-shaming. Period.

Alabama football is certainly the story of the week, but not for the usual reasons.

University of Alabama alumna Rebecca Walden recently penned a now-deleted Huffington Post piece titled, “Young ladies of the SEC, cover it up!” (The title alone probably tells you all you need to know about the firestorm of debate the piece ignited among women in the southeast and beyond.)

The piece revolves around Walden’s experience attending the Crimson Tide’s season opener against USC in Dallas nearly two weeks ago, noting her “bewilderment” upon seeing the way many young women in the crowd were dressed.

She proceeds to make a handful of assumptions about the women in question – that they must be dressing to impress boys or don’t understand how to correctly wear on-trend fashion pieces “without being tasteless” — and my personal favorite — the thinly veiled concern regarding whether the mothers of these grown, adult, decision-making women knew what they were wearing.

What happened afterward as my social networks began digesting the article revealed a very real divide between those who understood why the aforementioned post fell directly into blatant slut-shaming territory and others who, well, didn’t.

Leora Tanenbaum of Barnard College has written at length about the dangers of slut-shaming, broadly defining it as “the experience of being labeled a sexually out-of-control girl or woman and then being punished socially for possessing this identity. Slut-shaming is sexist because only girls and women are called to task for their sexuality, whether real or imagined; boys and men are congratulated for the exact same behavior.”

It is one thing to criticize a woman’s outfit for purely style-related reasons. You don’t like the color combination, perhaps, or just can’t wrap your head around this season’s boot trends. It’s still nobody’s business or concern except the one wearing it, of course, but that’s a different conversation for a different day.

What Walden and many, many women online proceeded to do in this situation, however – is draw conclusions about why these women were dressed in a way they didn’t like. Boys. Peer pressure. Lack of intelligence. Trying to fit in.

Color me shocked, but not one of the reasons suggested even came close to something like, “Maybe they wanted to wear it because it made them feel confident and comfortable.” (Oh, the horror!)

Of course, a popular response to this line of thinking has been something to the effect of, “What if I CHOOSE to dress modestly? If those women’s choices are acceptable, why can’t my choice to cover my body be just as accepted?”

That’s kind of the point. It should be accepted and would be utterly ridiculous if it wasn’t. Every woman who’s been called a prude or any other sexually charged term for wearing “too much” clothing should understand perfectly the struggle of someone being called classless or slutty for wearing “too little.”

In a perfect world, women would be able to make decisions about their appearance without being weighed down by the stigma of what it says about their sexuality.

They wouldn’t have to wonder if they’ll be shunned by certain social circles for giving off the impression that they – grown, adult, decision-making women – are having sex, or at least having more sex than is socially acceptable.

They wouldn’t have to wonder if they look like they’re “asking” to be sexually assaulted.

They wouldn’t have to wonder when it stops being their responsibility to keep it covered up and starts being the responsibility of others to control their behavior and maybe even avoid making hasty generalizations about an entire generation of women based on what’s hanging in their closet.

As women, we have a duty and a higher responsibility to elevate each other as a whole – not a nit-picked selection of who made the cut based on the plunge of her neckline and what it says about her as a human being.

That responsibility doesn’t end in our high schools or our sorority houses or our workplaces or our churches or our homes. It’s a lifelong duty we have to adopt if we’re going to move forward as a gender.

If you’re in the Grove this weekend, or any weekend, for that matter, and you find yourself passing judgment on a young woman based on her clothing, I hope you’ll have the strength to stop yourself and remember she’s a human being. Not an object. Not a target. Not a convenient subject for an online column.

She’s a person.

And quite frankly, we have too many real gender-based battles left to fight in this country to worry about what she’s wearing to a football game.

Hotty Toddy and Roll Tide.