I recently read an article about women's fear of dressing "sexy" because they're afraid of not being respected and being viewed as inappropriate. And I gotta say, some of the thoughts really irked my feminist anxieties.
First of all, I thought the article did a poor job of defining what it meant by "sexy." Do we mean "looking really good such that people think we're hot?" Do we mean "showing a lot of skin?" Do we mean "with the intent to elicit a sexual reaction?" Because in my opinion, those things are very different, and while there may be some overlap, I do not believe there always is.
I always aim to look attractive, both to my own standard, to general opinion, and to the opposite sex. So I would say I always try to "look hot"-- I want people to think I'm hot. I don't think any woman should be at fault for that; who doesn't want to look good, even attractive, as they define it? Maybe it's going a little too far if you're trying to get any real, immediate sexual reaction out of people in a context where that is not appropriate. But I honestly I think you'd have to go pretty extreme in how you're dressing in order to get a lot of that. And I feel like that extremity makes it is pretty easy to identify when that intent is present.
honestly, I don't really agree with the notion that skin automatically is about eliciting sexual reaction. I'm sure all of you know by now that I like showing skin. I think there's a degree of it that people are not such animals as to be totally revved up about when they see it. Being small-busted, necklines have to be pretty damn low in order to seem even vaguely provocative on me. I do tend to show my midriff a lot, at least the little strip of it between my waistband and the hem of my shirt. Is my typical inch-wide band of skin there really anything more than a fun and cute little touch? I think it looks hot, sure, but as I said, there's a difference between looking hot and actually looking like you're trolling for arousal.
Now, make no mistake, I'm not saying every look is appropriate for every situation. And sure, there's a limit of when some is too much. Save the plunging decolletages, the belt skirts, and the crop tops for having fun with, not anywhere that sort of thing would be inappropriately provocative. Though honestly I don't find any of my dressing habits to be that extreme, even I tone it down a little for, say, going to work. I've thrown on camisoles under low necklines and buttoned a few more buttons than I might otherwise. But I really don't see anything wrong with showing a moderate bit of skin. My workplace isn't all that conservative about dress, and if there's a different standard at yours, you should of course observe it. Heh, when I asked about the dress code when I first came to work there, literally the answer I got was, "Uh... no mirco-minis?" Well, okay, then. I've never heard a word about my belly, and I can't remember any serious context in which I felt less respected due to how much skin I was showing.
Maybe it's just that I have never felt terribly bothered by objectification. I've only felt I was being objectified a handful of times in my life, and I found these occasions to be moronic rather than hurtful. I know I'm not an object-- nobody has the power to actually turn me into one, regardless of how they see me. Yes, I am very pretty, thanks for noticing. I'm sorry that you're too much of a moron to realize that I'm smart too. Perhaps it might have been different if the objectification ever came from anyone with any power over me-- a boss, for example --to make consequences come of their reduction of me to object status, but in general, I find it to be that person's problem, not mine. As I said-- I'm not an object, and even if they treat me that way, nobody on earth has the power to make me into one.
And that brings me to another point-- these days, are men in general inclined to that kind of behavior? It's not the fucking fifties anymore, people. Maybe I've just had unusually fortunate experience, but I have found most men I've interacted with have internalized the notion that women are more than just pretty sexy things. That a woman dressing pretty, even sexy, does not automatically negate the possibility that she's got a lot going on upstairs as well.
I feel like this is predicated on a pretty offensive assumption about men as hyper-sexual beasts such that an attractive girl showing a little more skin than usual equals an automatic horny reaction that blots out all thought of that girl being a human being. Yuck. So sexist, so unfair, and I pray to God, so inaccurate. Do people really see men as lust-landmines that are going to explode with inappropriate behavior the minute something they find sexy sets them off? How patronizing! They're not animals, for Christ's sake. And if there ARE actually men like that, whose attraction to a woman cancels out any regard for her intellect or personhood, those men are creepy and fucked up and THEY are the problem and the ones that need to shape up, not the woman they're reacting to.
And I gotta say, I really hate this panic-reaction so many women have about, "OMG, he thinks I'm hot, now he won't respect me as a person!" Oh, get over yourself. WHY is it assumed that respect and attraction can't coexist? That being sexy and being smart mutually exclude one another? I find that not only insulting to men, but to women as well! Women can either be seen as respectable and capable, OR attractive and sexy? Screw that! I am a beautiful, smoking-hot woman who acts, directs, cooks, designs, organizes, and writes everything from larps to plays to poetry! Don't you forget for a minute that I've got beauty AND brains!
Is an inch-wide band of skin that I think is cute going to light the fires of brain-consuming lust? Nuh-uh. Is my being seen as a sexy woman negate the truth that I am also an intelligent and capable one? No on your life! And while yeah, it's important to hold men to a proper standard, we need to not turn them into the enemy when they don't deserve it.
And that's today's feminist rant. Your thoughts?