For those who don't breathlessly follow the world of sex education, you may not know that the shoemaker Candie's has started the Candie's Foundation, a mostly abstinence-only group that has Bristol Palin as a spokeswoman.

Now, Candie's is taking their contradictory message one step further, with T-shirts bearing the slogans, "I'm SEXY enough ... to keep you waiting" and "be SEXY, it doesn't mean you have to have sex."

Sexless Sex
Sure, advertisers are used to using sex to sell everything from beer to sports to Candie's, but using sex to sell not-sex sets off not just cognitive dissonance, but a distinct sense of pity for the Candies Foundation. Not to mention that Palin is only the country's most famous example of how just saying no doesn't work.

You know you're losing the war against modesty when you run into it boobs a-blazing. You've run out of all other methods of selling your message if you've resorted to "Look, sexy! Without actual sex!"

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Abstinence won't sell itself, for obvious reasons. Scare tactics just aren't overcoming hormones and teenagers' growing sense of independence. So all they've got left to sell it is sex. Good luck with that. Next, they should try selling health food by wrapping it in a pizza box.

Pro-Sexy, Anti-Girl
To be fair, feminists like myself technically agree with the message that your appearance and clothing doesn't mean you're promiscuous or easy. And if Candie's was running a subversive campaign against the mores that lead to sexual assault, I'd applaud them -- but they're obviously not.

They're just assuming that the only reason that young women have sex is for male approval, and they're trying to tell girls that they can get male approval by flashing sexiness in dudes' faces.

I can't think of a better way to tell girls that what's important isn't their whole beings, but rather the state of their hymens.

I want girls to believe that their worth is based on their character, and that they don't need to troll for sexual attention from boys to boost their self-esteem. I want them to decide to have sex or to wait depending on their own wishes and desires, not what boys tell them to do or what the religious right tells them to do.

I want them to wear what they want, whether it's sexy or not, because it's what they prefer, not because Candie's tells them to do it. I want them to believe that they own themselves.

Then again, I eagerly wait for the next step in the Candie's Foundation strategy -- the abstinence-only stripper pole.

Amanda Marcotte is the author of "It's a Jungle Out There" and writes about politics daily at Pandagon.net.