I would argue that sexual assault harassment has nothing little to do with short skirts or sex and everything to do with power. If there is a statistical correlation between clothes and sexual crimes (and I can’t imagine that is so, though that is the stereotype that has been ingrained in us) it would perhaps be because the clothes are overtly signaling a woman’s gender and thus, by advertising femininity, invoking male power. The answer is not for women to cover their bodies but for us to alter the gendered power dynamics.
But like I said, most women sexually harassed in offices and at schools, most women raped, are not women wearing halter-tops or short shorts. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it would be that easy to protect ourselves and our daughters . . .
What do y’all think?
I think that the media sexualizes young gilrs far to much and that this can lead to young girls thinking they need to act or dress in a sexual way in order to be accepted by boys. If
"I would argue that sexual assault harassment has nothing little to do with short skirts or sex and everything to do with power."
I'd like to respond to that, if I may, by saying that I don't think these two ideas (sexy clothing & power) are mutually exclusive entities: I think they are quite, quite allied.
Like the bourka (which someone else brought up on the other thread), sexy clothes are all about advertising femininity, although the bourka does it in a 180-degree different way. Like foot binding, corsets, and other modes of dress, sexy clothing of this era (belly shirts, micro-miniskirts, low-riding pants, et cetera) has very little to do with comfort and much to do with constraint and "advertising" in much the same way that a corset cinched the waist and elevated the breasts.
What women's clothing does -- and has continued to do for the most part throughout the centuries -- is convey powerlessness. The more feminine it is, the less powerful it tends to be. Ever try running in high heels? A slinky dress? See my point? In short, it conveys the message that women are decorative and sexual -- and therefore powerless. I would agree that sexual harrassment has a great deal to do with power, but one of the reasons it is *sexual* harrassment is that sex is the playing field on which this conflict takes place. It is also about sex.
"If there is a statistical correlation between clothes and sexual crimes (and I can’t imagine that is so, though that is the stereotype that has been ingrained in us) it would perhaps be because the clothes are overtly signaling a woman’s gender and thus, by advertising femininity, invoking male power."
***I would agree.
The answer is not for women to cover their bodies but for us to alter the gendered power dynamics.
***But until those "gendered power dynamics" ARE altered, to wear sexually revealing clothing puts a woman at greater risk for sexual harrassment. NO, it's not fair, not right, not good, and in a perfect world it would not be the case, but it is. I'm not advocating that, as one other poster suggested, we wear a bourka and stay at home in fear (an absurd idea...sigh), but at the same time, I think it behooves us to realize that this is a risk that we run. It's also a risk if we wear jewelry on the subway, carry our purse in our hands and not across our bodies, or walk down a dark alley at night. It's all about playing the odds.
Moreover, since this original thread was talking not about adult women, who are better equipped (I hope) to defend themselves against harrassment and better equipped to judge the level of risk in wearing revealing clothing than a child is, I'd like to return to that issue.
I've literally seen (at Target) fake black leather miniskirts *in size three* (toddler), and four-year-olds prancing around to Britney Spears -- and imitating the physical movements they've seen on her videos. Not only is this really, really in ill taste, but I think it sends the message that these kids *are* more sexually precocious than they may be -- and sends out the message to boys who cannot yet be expected to have the self-control, consideration, respect for women, and understanding of harrassment that grown men ideally do. I think that until a girl is responsible for herself (and hopefully after she's learned to defend herself verbally, physically, and commonsensically against unwanted advances), she should avoid dressing to expose herself or send out the message that she is sexually active or available.
That being said...I think that there is a responsibility that comes with dressing sexy. To be able to handle yourself, to protect yourself, to not put yourself in a stupid situation where someone will use you clothing as justification for doing something to you. Because unfortunately there are a lot of stupid people out there.
I also think that the sexualization of pre puberty girls is really at a stage of being out of control. At 28 I can wear low rise pants and a backless shirt. Because I am an adult, with a sex life, who will kick the crap out of anyone who tries anything uninvited.
A 10 year old, hell, even 15 or 16 year old, may not be prepared to get that kind of attention. Nor to deal with it if it gets out of hand. I think it is really silly to put a small girl in revealing clothes, there are too many sickos out there, both of her age and adult age.
My mom was always pretty strict about what we were allowed to wear. We got away with some stuff...but not a lot. The most risque things were always the bathing suits...because I got tall fast and couldint' fit into girls suits, I had to buy from the women's dept. And even then it was a one piece, never a bikini.
I rebelled a little when I got older and was able to buy my own clothes and realized I was stacked! :LOL And I still indulge in low cut tops and stuff, and I love my tank tops, (i have good breats!:LOL)but on the whole I prefer to be treated like a person, not a pair of boobs with legs.
Adina mama to B 4/06 and E 8/13/12 (on her due date!)
I've always thought that ALL clothing is drag.
The pea-green stretch velvet, portrait neckline slinky dress that makes me feel like Mae West is "sexy" drag. The pleated front khakis, steel-toed boots and hard hat I wear at work are "Engineer/construction worker" drag. My pale blue suit that is beautifully tailored that I bought from Carlisle is "ladies who lunch" drag. Kwim?
(I only really feel like myself when I'm naked, otherwise I'm playing a role.)
That said, that means that because of culturally imposed "norms",
certain expectations come with each set of "drag". I don't say "is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" when I am wearing the hard hat. Likewise, I don't say "You call that a properly shored underpinning pit? You couldn't find your ass with both hands and a two-way mirror!" (....well, i don't say that at all...but i think it frequently: ) when I'm dressed like Eve Arden in Funny Face.
I sometimes dressed very sexy when I was a teenager. I was aware what it meant and I made sure I was on top and that I got a you-know-what even if he didn't. I also dressed very conservatively and prudishly when at work and I was all business and made it very clear when I thought someone wasn't keeping to the script determined by the message my clothes were sending. I also once knifed a guy who tried to assault me. And that time, I was dressed VERY prudishly and wearing an ankle length raincoat at the time. Go figure. A creep is a creep. And, sometimes, he's a very injured creep who gets taken to Bellvue by the cops.
I think the key is 1) understand what you're doing and 2) know you are important and won't take any crap. Don't let the turkeys push you around.
If I had a daughter, I would NOT dress her up like a child porn figure. And I would give her Our Bodies Ourselves for her ninth or tenth birthday. And I would teach her the power of cultural architypes and that it is important not to misuse or let others misuse those architypes.
|but on the whole I prefer to be treated like a person, not a pair of boobs with legs.|
That is a great point!
I don't think that wearing sexy clothes puts girls at a greater risk of "real" sexual assualt or harrassment!
However, when a girl or women wears sexy clothes, you better believe that guys are looking at her breasts, butt, legs, naval, etc. Guys are wired to be very visually sensitive to girls bodies. That is a fact. So, if a girl or women is wearing sexy clothes, what are the guys thinking about her. Most guys won't be thinking what a smart, creative, intelligent, resourceful person she is. They will be very distracted by her body, and not really get to know her mind and soul. Every man or guy I have talked to about this has confirmed this point for me.
So, she may not be assualted in a physical sense, but is she really going to be respected?
Does you really want other guys looking at your daughter or youself with lust?
Even is she is strong, powerful, confident enought to ward off any unwanted advances, she can't affect what goes through a guys mind when he sees her. And unless, he is a very wonderful guy, he won't be thinking of her in a respectful sense.
I also think it is disresctful of women towards men to dress provacatively. It gets the men excited, visually stimulated and can just lead to frustration. This world would be a much better place if everyone respected everyone else. Guys respected girls and their bodies, and girls respected the ways guys are and didn't dress in ways to sexually arouse them.
I also think many girls dress sexy to have power over guys. "I can make him look at me, want to have sex with me" There is a power in that. But, not a good power, and the not way other people should be treated.
When will sex be not about power, but about love?
|I also think it is disresctful of women towards men to dress provacatively. It gets the men excited, visually stimulated and can just lead to frustration. This world would be a much better place if everyone respected everyone else. Guys respected girls and their bodies, and girls respected the ways guys are and didn't dress in ways to sexually arouse them.|
I am not sure that I completely agree with that. That again puts the culpability for any poor treatment a woman gets, with the woman and how she dresses. I think that is a crucial flaw in getting men to change their views and their actions. If you constantly put the woman as the sole cause of her treatment you are absolving men of their responsibility. Even if men are so much more visual, and I as a woman am damn visual, they still have the responsibility to control their eyes or hands or any other part of their anatomy. That really is the biggest thing for me - men need to be held accountable for their actions. And right now they really aren't. Let me revise - any person who shows sexual agressiveness to another needs to be held accountable. Men aren't the only culprits - unfortunately.
How I choose to dress is my choice. And while I choose to dress less provacatively than some of my peers, I am always comfortable and am able to hold my own when I am dressed sexy. And to be treated with the same amount of respect by the men around me. I think all women should be able to dress how they want, and not be harassed and not be held accountable for what someone else does to them.
And another thing - sorry this is one of my favorite rants - by not holding a man accountable for his own actions, you are holding him to a lower standard - someone not responsible for themselves, like a child, a mentally challenged person, a pet. And that is very much not respectful either. just my .02.
Adina mama to B 4/06 and E 8/13/12 (on her due date!)
It's true that we can't wear what we please without RISK of consequences, but that doesn't mean we have to FEAR those consequences. We are working (w/great success, if you look at the general trend of the past 100 years) on becoming a society in which men do not feel they have a right to hurt women. Various excuses for misbehavior have been dismantled, and "she was asking for it, wearing that skirt" holds up less well every year; eventually it will be gone. I don't think there is anything to be gained from hiding and fearing our own bodies. If I have a daughter, I will teach her reasonable precautions for taking care of herself, but that doesn't mean wearing a burqa and staying in the house; it means being alert, assessing risks intelligently, knowing how to get help if needed, and having the self-confidence to stand up for oneself when someone else is doing wrong. And I am a rape survivor, so please don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about.
Of course, wearing a burqa and never leaving the house is an exaggeration. But loosen the definition of "revealing clothing" somewhat, and you are recommending the same type of self-restriction in the name of safety. I'm against that.
When it comes to pre-pubescent children, I do agree that dressing them exactly like sexy adults is not a good idea because kids are not aware of the message conveyed by those clothes. Similarly, I think it is not a good idea to dress a young child in a T-shirt with a radical political slogan that is likely to get strangers yelling bigotry at them. However, once the child is old enough to understand what the slogan means, if she is comfortable with the risk of being yelled at, I think it's fine for her to wear the T-shirt. It seems to me, from the way some of you talk about teenagers, that you think they should not be allowed a similar choice with sexy clothing because they cannot possibly understand the message. I disagree. But it is true that preschoolers don't understand.
|What women's clothing does -- and has continued to do for the most part throughout the centuries -- is convey powerlessness. The more feminine it is, the less powerful it tends to be. Ever try running in high heels? A slinky dress? See my point?|
To me, a necktie seems like a very restrictive and uncomfortable and stupidly useless thing to wear, but many people accomplish all sorts of powerful tasks while wearing ties. They are even seen as a symbol of power, NOT BECAUSE OF ANY PRACTICAL CONCERNS but simply because of tradition and prejudice.
So it is with skirts. A short, ruffly, lacy, flowery skirt is very feminine but does not convey powerlessness if you behave in a confident way while wearing it. I think the assumption that "feminine" equates to "impractical" or "powerless" or some other form of "bad" is very sexist and wrong.
When choosing clothing for kids, I think it's important not to draw the "hoochie" category too broadly. Just showing some skin is not "too sexy" automatically. Halter-tops and shorts that just cover the buttocks are fine with me when the weather's appropriate. (Who says little girls need to wear shirts at all?) Glitter is not "too sexy" automatically, nor is any particular color.
When adults or teenagers think a little child is sexually available because of the way she's dressed, they are delusional: They are reading the message of the clothing and completely ignoring the messages of the immature body and mind. This is not normal. This is not something we should condone or accept as inevitable. When a six-year-old girl wears a midriff-baring T-shirt and black miniskirt, anyone can see that she has a chubby tummy and a flat chest and toothpick legs--she is NOT a potential sexual partner, not even if she is dancing like Britney Spears. Dancing is fun, dressing up is fun, and prohibiting these things won't protect a child from molestation even on the off chance that she does meet one of those few abnormal, delusional people who might feel entitled to her. They're wrong.
Mama to a boy EnviroKid 10 years old and a girl EnviroBaby 1 year old!
I write about parenting, environment, cooking, and more.
|That really is the biggest thing for me - men need to be held accountable for their actions. And right now they really aren't. Let me revise - any person who shows sexual agressiveness to another needs to be held accountable.|
I was referring to his thoughts. There is a huge difference. It is fairly easy to control our actions and our words. Controlling our thoughts is entirely different and much more difficult. I myself, am ashamed to say that I may act and say things which are really nice to others while inside I am thinking mean thoughts about them.
I don't want anything thinking disrespectul or lustful thoughts about me or my daughter. Hence, I don't want her or me dressing in such a way to provoke those thoughts in others.
I do think overall, we need to stop sending a message to adult men that it's ok to think of teen girls in a sexual way, even if they are 10, 20 or even more years younger! I think that is a MUCH more complicated issue that would not disappear if we regulated dress. (see japan - school girl uniforms are the total thing...and men still fetishize teens openly.) Teen both want, and cannot handle (and in some cases with girls early to hit puberty, are totally bewildered by) adult male attention. Those power issues are difficult.
Apart from that, for young children expensive or restrictive clothing that prevents practical activity is not something I want to encourage.
I do think it's funny that is something is gingham or smocked we call it a cute sunsuit, but throw glitter on it and it's slutty. Sometimes we are projecting our judgements, when sometimes things just are what they are. There are also clothes I would think ok around other children or at home, but not in a airport for instance or other mostly-adult environments. Or ok in moderation (one edgy item per ensemble...not the whole outfit!)
I do want to respond to this a bit -
"I don't want anything thinking disrespectul or lustful thoughts about me or my daughter. Hence, I don't want her or me dressing in such a way to provoke those thoughts in others."
Someones thoughts are their own...since there are people out there attracted to unexpected things...(feet, for example) As long as their thoughts or urges are not apparant, they are none of my business. But I agree that I'm not looking to provoke responses of a sexual nature in most cases. But I'm not going to not wear sandals for fear someone might look at my feet and be turned on. At the same time, people DO make judgements based on appearance...and it's important to acknowledge that. "goth", "hippie", "preppie"...whatever. People use appearance to solicit a reaction.
I am almost persuaded that since the spice girls people, esp girls see hyperfeminine/sexual = powerful And young girls especially don't see all the elements to that. And obviously their moms have trouble with it too.
My answer to the first is anything she damn well pleases, and she never ever should be blamed in the slightest way is a sexual assault occurs. Even if she is prancing around naked, that is not an invitation to assault. Sexual assaults/ rapes are about power. It's taking a pretty poor view of men to think a regular guy would be unable to contain himself if he sees a provocatively dressed woman (and just that -- not talking about behavior) and if it's nto a regular guy, it's not a regular guy. Then the other stuff that has already been mentioned comes into play, self-esteem, how they carry themselves, etc.
With that out of the way, the pleather miniskirts in size 3T give me the absolute heebie-jeebies, too.
I wore a lot of sexy stuff when I was in high school and I don't know what I think about that. It was fashionable -- I was poor and put things together in imaginitive ways, scarves around the waist with a cropped shirt, that kind of thing -- and I got positive feedback from my peers for my fashion sense. But I remember one time in particular when I had forgotten I needed to take the bus after school to the orthodontist's, and it was hell. Not flattering... not validating... just pure hell. I had a mini skirt and a cropped top on, so there was no escape -- couldn't pull anything down, couldn't pull anything up. I just wasn't equipped to deal with the repercussions.
Basically, I think my shorthand will be if I think my daughter's mature enough to have sex, she's mature enough to wear overtly sexy clothes. (And I'm going to try to be open-minded about the first one.) (Where's a very very worried emoticon?)
Earlier I wrote “ If there is a statistical correlation between clothes and sexual crimes (and I can’t imagine that is so, though that is the stereotype that has been ingrained in us) it would perhaps be because the clothes are overtly signaling a woman’s gender and thus, by advertising femininity, invoking male power."
A poster responded that given the gender dynamics that exist, girls have to be careful about signally their femininity through sexy clothes. But if sexy clothes signals a woman’s powerlessness in a patriarchal culture, so does pink and long hair etc. And these are not things we discourage our girls from having. I believe that on some level we are showing an uncomfortableness with female sexuality and the female body by having such a negative opinion of “Hoochi” clothes worn by teenage girls and women. This uncomfortableness is reinforced by an idea that sexy clothes increases the likelihood of the wearer invoking sexual harassment/asault. However, the VAST majority of girls women raped and and women sexually harassed in offices and schools are not wearing sexy clothes.
I also agree that there is nothing inherently confining or oppressive about revealing clothes. A poster above has made this point better than I can (re the tie comparison).
On the question of whether girls dressed sexy will incite sexual ideas in boys and men around them - perhaps but so what. If these boys or men feel they must choose between seeing a girl/woman as intelligent with a brain or hot with a sexy body - scew them. If they can't respect a woman in tight pants, that is their hang-up. And I do believe, as a poster stated above, that men, visual as they may be, are capable of controlling their thoughts or at least understanding that they can be turned on by a girl/woman and still respect what she has to say.
Now, the eroticisation of pre-pubescent children in our society is indeed a troubling issue and extends far beyond them wearing leather miniskirts (the Coppertone ad - where revealing a girls bottom is used to sell lotion). Not that children are asexual, but their sexuality (for lack of a word to describe it) is something very different than adult sexuality. Why we dress ours kids like “kinderwhores” says much about us – our desire to imagine an “innocent” carnality perhaps???
Of course, dressing 5 years olds in adult/teenage clothes always weirds me out (5 year old boys wearing adult 3 piece suits).
and i think it is silly that we would have to wear a lot of heavy clothes when it is hot outside.
rape is a crime of violence not some kind of impulse
Also, several poster stated that wearing sexy clothes signals sexual maturity or availability. I’m not sure what I find troubling about this statement, but I keep coming back to it. Anyone else bothered by it?
Men are always going to respond sexually to women, they're supposed to. No need to make it so easy for them . Do you want them thinking ' I wonder what she's got under that shirt, or so that's what she's got' all before they know your name.