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Some will say that this is a battle that is over and that we won: feminists can wear as high a pair of heels and as red a lipstick as they want and still not be excluded from the club, the membership to which is awarded to them at birth. (Yes, men feminists have more to prove before they are allowed in. Tough luck!) But I don’t know if this perceived freedom is a real one or one projected to us in our slumber pods.

Sure, we can do whatever the hell we want and that is called freedom. Women didn’t have that for a very long time. Women have been prescribed what to wear since forever: cover your legs, don’t show your cleavage, hair, arms, etc. Of course we’ll celebrate the freedom of wearing whatever on earth we feel like. But are revealing clothes and heavy makeup really where we must to go? Just because we can? This choice can be empowering but the kind of power it offers is not of real value. It’s a tiny, despised power. It is not durable, it is not respected, it’s not something we can hold up in pride. It’s subversive and very demeaning.

However, it does often seem like the “body celebrating” clothes are the only choice women have, if we go by the media.

I watch Project Runway religiously. I enjoy the creative process behind the making of clothes and none of the offensive aspects of the fashion industry have managed to put me off. However, every time I hear that clothes need to be “sexy” (which happens every two minutes in every single episode) I am driven up the wall. No, clothes do not need to be sexy. They do not need to make us “attractive.” I dislike that implication. That idea that’s being taught to our girls that they must “show off” their bodies is heart-breaking.

My daughter enjoys watching music videos. This happens lately every day before going to bed. Which is a problem, because it’s very hard to find strong female singers with a clean, not overly sexualized image. Why does it have to be like this?

Clothes can make us feel good (with their warmth, the feel of their fabrics, their message, their history, etc.) and they can make us look interesting, they can give us a different persona, they can play along with our moods. They can do a lot. But no, they should not have to be sexy and make us “attractive”. Give us a break.

When we can wear whatever we want, is tight, uncomfortable clothing that makes us self-conscious really what we want the most?

I don’t advocate for “modest” clothing (that sounds very anti-feminist and I don’t want to be accused) but I vote for personal comfort and pleasure. Nothing should make me feel like I need to pay attention to my clothes after I put them on the in the morning. They should not remind me of their existence throughout the day, because I don’t have time for that.

Freedom always comes with responsibility, and the choices we have to make weigh heavy on our shoulders and on those of the generations coming after us. I think in order to make a difference and really break the patriarchal puppeteer strings, we need to choose the durable, valuable power that comes not from using our sexuality but from using our brains, our empathy, our emotional intelligence, our instincts, our affectionate and caring natures.

Sure, sometimes we find ourselves in situations where using our sexuality is an advantage that we cannot ignore, and it’s our bodies, and we can do whatever we want, so we might choose to use this advantage. But let’s not make that our primary or only choice. Because it’s reductive and damaging.

Sure, there is a good time for sexy clothes: like when we explicitly go out looking for a mate. But that is not every day and in every situation, is it? Often we just go looking for a job. Or for groceries.

Because it’s not just about clothes. It never is. It ends up being about who we are to the core. And I think most of us like to believe we’re much more than just our bodies and our sexuality. We are much more complex, amazing creatures with diverse interests and qualities, with a myriad individual oddities and brilliance and follies. Our clothes maybe can represent some of that instead of just showing “sexy”. Just saying.

17 Comments

  1. Rachel

    November 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    But aren’t you falling into the trap of sexualising our bodies if you think that to wear tight fitting clothes is in itself sexual? Clothes are just clothes and our bodies are the shapes they are. Neither are sexual in of themselves. Or maybe I’ve read this whole post wrong. I dunno. I like baggy stuff, but I also like close fitting stuff – I sometimes don’t like to have my clothes flapping about – and sometimes I am limited to the clothes I can get to fit me…but in any case, I don’t suddenly change into a sex bomb just because I change my pants. My intelligence tells me that we are censoring ourselves in order to let predatory men off the hook – and it’s they who need to learn that we are not propositioning sex whenever we show an inch of our bodies.

    • Lori

      November 2, 2014 at 7:56 am

      See this is why it’s sometimes good to get blog comments (even just a lonely but good one!) because you become exposed to another perspective. If you, Rachel, tell me that you feel comfortable in revealing, “sexy” clothing when you are about your day to day (absolutely brilliant) writing activities, then I’ll accept that it is a possibility and a point of view that I simply couldn’t envision. I trust your judgment immensely, as you know.

      But then I also feel like you didn’t understand exactly where I was coming for. I know that the current feminist discourse makes it taboo to express critical views on women’s clothing which are interpreted as restricting women’s freedom and reinforcing the rape culture. I am aware of that and agree with it, and from this standpoint my post was meant to take the discussion further.

      I am not saying to wear baggy clothing to cover up the shapes of our bodies. (Actually, I’m not saying to wear baggy clothing at all, I’m just sharing that this is my personal preference). I’m just saying that we should wear comfortable clothing, in which our bodies can move freely. There are many activities that do require tight clothing (many sports, for example) but a lot of others don’t (stage performance, school, presenting the weather on TV, going out to the mall, etc.).

      Plus just plain tightness doesn’t make clothing “sexy.” Tight clothing can be very comfortable. But is that also true of a tight dress that is very short and has a very deep neckline, or a pair of shorts that are so little that you have to pull on every two minutes?

      I also wonder why do men don’t seem to have found this pleasure of small, revealing clothing? Then I of course remember that there was a time when men used to wear tights, but I think that was for the very practical purpose of horse riding.

      Also, I think that is necessary to discuss the issue and keep asking questions because “sexy” clothing has become the norm now for young girls and that doesn’t seem right. Young girls are very impressionable and they want to belong more than anything else. Their personalities are not strong enough to reject group pressures. I don’t want my daughter to feel like she doesn’t have a choice, like short shorts, bodycon dresses and two-sizes-smaller t-shirts are all that is acceptable for her to wear.

      Also, I wanted to point out that I think a woman can and should at all times be in control of her sexuality, and if she wants to be wearing sexy clothing because she feels sexy and she’s looking for a sexy time, then she should be free and able to do it. I mean, there is a perfectly good reason to wear such clothing, of course. But I just don’t see it as an everyday thing, or a personal style thing, you know?

      And for sure, once again, whatever clothes a woman chooses to wear for whatever reason, she’s not “fair game” for unwanted attention. I’m not saying that women’s shouldn’t wear “sexy” clothing because of the unwanted attention they’ll get. Women’s bodies belong to themselves and whatever clothes they choose to wear don’t excuse any predatory behaviour on the part of men.

      But that being settled, we can move forward and see what’s at the root of this desire to wear sexy clothing.

      One thing I can think about is that women have been conditioned to always be on the lookout for a partner. While it is rarely only a sexual partner they are looking for, and more of a life partner or soul mate, they will employ the sexy clothing to make sure they get the attention of the desirable man. That of course doesn’t mean that any man is invited to this party, but that she is looking for a particular one, of whose existence she might know or whom she is only imagining and dreaming of.

      OK. It looks like I could write a treatise about this. One that nobody wants to read. Maybe I should just stop while I still have my pride ☺

  2. Rachel

    November 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    But aren’t you falling into the trap of sexualising our bodies if you think that to wear tight fitting clothes is in itself sexual? Clothes are just clothes and our bodies are the shapes they are. Neither are sexual in of themselves. Or maybe I’ve read this whole post wrong. I dunno. I like baggy stuff, but I also like close fitting stuff – I sometimes don’t like to have my clothes flapping about – and sometimes I am limited to the clothes I can get to fit me…but in any case, I don’t suddenly change into a sex bomb just because I change my pants. My intelligence tells me that we are censoring ourselves in order to let predatory men off the hook – and it’s they who need to learn that we are not propositioning sex whenever we show an inch of our bodies.

    • Lori

      November 2, 2014 at 7:56 am

      See this is why it’s sometimes good to get blog comments (even just a lonely but good one!) because you become exposed to another perspective. If you, Rachel, tell me that you feel comfortable in revealing, “sexy” clothing when you are about your day to day (absolutely brilliant) writing activities, then I’ll accept that it is a possibility and a point of view that I simply couldn’t envision. I trust your judgment immensely, as you know.

      But then I also feel like you didn’t understand exactly where I was coming for. I know that the current feminist discourse makes it taboo to express critical views on women’s clothing which are interpreted as restricting women’s freedom and reinforcing the rape culture. I am aware of that and agree with it, and from this standpoint my post was meant to take the discussion further.

      I am not saying to wear baggy clothing to cover up the shapes of our bodies. (Actually, I’m not saying to wear baggy clothing at all, I’m just sharing that this is my personal preference). I’m just saying that we should wear comfortable clothing, in which our bodies can move freely. There are many activities that do require tight clothing (many sports, for example) but a lot of others don’t (stage performance, school, presenting the weather on TV, going out to the mall, etc.).

      Plus just plain tightness doesn’t make clothing “sexy.” Tight clothing can be very comfortable. But is that also true of a tight dress that is very short and has a very deep neckline, or a pair of shorts that are so little that you have to pull on every two minutes?

      I also wonder why do men don’t seem to have found this pleasure of small, revealing clothing? Then I of course remember that there was a time when men used to wear tights, but I think that was for the very practical purpose of horse riding.

      Also, I think that is necessary to discuss the issue and keep asking questions because “sexy” clothing has become the norm now for young girls and that doesn’t seem right. Young girls are very impressionable and they want to belong more than anything else. Their personalities are not strong enough to reject group pressures. I don’t want my daughter to feel like she doesn’t have a choice, like short shorts, bodycon dresses and two-sizes-smaller t-shirts are all that is acceptable for her to wear.

      Also, I wanted to point out that I think a woman can and should at all times be in control of her sexuality, and if she wants to be wearing sexy clothing because she feels sexy and she’s looking for a sexy time, then she should be free and able to do it. I mean, there is a perfectly good reason to wear such clothing, of course. But I just don’t see it as an everyday thing, or a personal style thing, you know?

      And for sure, once again, whatever clothes a woman chooses to wear for whatever reason, she’s not “fair game” for unwanted attention. I’m not saying that women’s shouldn’t wear “sexy” clothing because of the unwanted attention they’ll get. Women’s bodies belong to themselves and whatever clothes they choose to wear don’t excuse any predatory behaviour on the part of men.

      But that being settled, we can move forward and see what’s at the root of this desire to wear sexy clothing.

      One thing I can think about is that women have been conditioned to always be on the lookout for a partner. While it is rarely only a sexual partner they are looking for, and more of a life partner or soul mate, they will employ the sexy clothing to make sure they get the attention of the desirable man. That of course doesn’t mean that any man is invited to this party, but that she is looking for a particular one, of whose existence she might know or whom she is only imagining and dreaming of.

      OK. It looks like I could write a treatise about this. One that nobody wants to read. Maybe I should just stop while I still have my pride ☺

  3. Rachel

    November 9, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    I think we actually agree, though seem unable to choose the right words to express this. I don’t believe clothing can be sexy – clothes are just clothes. That some clothes reveal more of a body than others doesn’t make the clothes sexy, it doesn’t even make their wearer sexy. If I want a man to have sex with me, I just ask him. If a man wants to have sex with me, he should ask, too. The idea that it’s the clothes doing the talking is what troubles me. It’s body language that we use to signal our unspoken desires, and this communicates regardless of the clothes on our bodies. I just feel compelled to caution against gendering clothing in this way that buys into the dominant male perspective.

    In short (no clothing pun intended!), women and men can be sexy – but it is THEM and not the clothes doing that.

    And I don’t mean to offend or even argue with you about this – your post is really helping me think out exactly what it is that I think about this issue – clarifying my perspective – and isn’t meant to diminish yours at all. Your posts always make me think so very deeply and I’m grateful to you for that. Thank you.

    • Lori

      November 10, 2014 at 7:11 am

      It’s OK. We’re not arguing. I’m enjoying this conversation a lot!
      I think this is where we have a fundamental disagreement: I believe that clothes carry a message and are imbibed with meaning beyond their functionality, while you view them as only clothes. I would bring to support my view the argument that clothes have a long history of symbolic meaning beyond their practical purpose, maybe since the beginning of humankind: they expressed belonging to a certain community, the line of work of the wearer, social position, etc. I was watching a documentary on Neanderthals and body adornment was mentioned as one of their practices, which made scientists consider them more alike than different from homo sapiens. I find it hard to see clothes as just something we put on for practical purposes (although I know many people will do that with premeditation–there is that normcore trend nowadays, for example). I don’t know. There is a lot to think about here. I’ll probably have to return to this discussion later on the blog.

  4. Rachel

    November 9, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    I think we actually agree, though seem unable to choose the right words to express this. I don’t believe clothing can be sexy – clothes are just clothes. That some clothes reveal more of a body than others doesn’t make the clothes sexy, it doesn’t even make their wearer sexy. If I want a man to have sex with me, I just ask him. If a man wants to have sex with me, he should ask, too. The idea that it’s the clothes doing the talking is what troubles me. It’s body language that we use to signal our unspoken desires, and this communicates regardless of the clothes on our bodies. I just feel compelled to caution against gendering clothing in this way that buys into the dominant male perspective.

    In short (no clothing pun intended!), women and men can be sexy – but it is THEM and not the clothes doing that.

    And I don’t mean to offend or even argue with you about this – your post is really helping me think out exactly what it is that I think about this issue – clarifying my perspective – and isn’t meant to diminish yours at all. Your posts always make me think so very deeply and I’m grateful to you for that. Thank you.

    • Lori

      November 10, 2014 at 7:11 am

      It’s OK. We’re not arguing. I’m enjoying this conversation a lot!
      I think this is where we have a fundamental disagreement: I believe that clothes carry a message and are imbibed with meaning beyond their functionality, while you view them as only clothes. I would bring to support my view the argument that clothes have a long history of symbolic meaning beyond their practical purpose, maybe since the beginning of humankind: they expressed belonging to a certain community, the line of work of the wearer, social position, etc. I was watching a documentary on Neanderthals and body adornment was mentioned as one of their practices, which made scientists consider them more alike than different from homo sapiens. I find it hard to see clothes as just something we put on for practical purposes (although I know many people will do that with premeditation–there is that normcore trend nowadays, for example). I don’t know. There is a lot to think about here. I’ll probably have to return to this discussion later on the blog.

  5. Rachel

    November 9, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    I just came across this, from Jem Yoshioka, which explains my feelings in a clearer and simpler way than I managed to articulate:

    “Go anywhere in the world and talk to almost any person and you will find someone with an opinion about what women should do with their bodies. Women’s bodies are treated as public property. This is why street harassment is culturally accepted the world over. It’s why people have such strong feelings about a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. It’s why women have to fight to be able to look after their own reproductive health. It extends to people feeling entitled that women should look and dress in a way that they find appealing, right down to their body shape and size.” http://jemshed.com/blog/

    • Lori

      November 10, 2014 at 6:59 am

      Thank you for the quote and the link to Jem Yoshika’s blog, Rachel. I have been reading through it and I’m enjoying it a lot.
      And I agree with this point of view. Of course women have had to fight hard to wear whatever they want. I even said it in the original post. The weird thing is, if you think about it, we still don’t wear what we want. We (both men and women) still wear what society deems acceptable for us. Some societies allow for more and some for less freedom. But completely free we are not. If nothing else (because all else is less easier to see), it’s the fashion industry and the fashion media who dictate what our girls should wear, and the girls don’t consider all the feminist history or any other issues before deciding to put on the clothes that everyone else is wearing. I mean, the shackles are more subtle now, but they are still there. And if we don’t say anything about if for fear of infringing upon a freedom, then I think we only have to lose.
      I am not finding my words easily either. I shouldn’t have been so black and white in my post about what clothes I agree with and what I don’t. My main philosophy is not that we should not wear certain clothes, but that we should know what we’re doing before doing it, that’s all. I think. Obviously, I need to think more about this.

  6. Rachel

    November 9, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    I just came across this, from Jem Yoshioka, which explains my feelings in a clearer and simpler way than I managed to articulate:

    “Go anywhere in the world and talk to almost any person and you will find someone with an opinion about what women should do with their bodies. Women’s bodies are treated as public property. This is why street harassment is culturally accepted the world over. It’s why people have such strong feelings about a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. It’s why women have to fight to be able to look after their own reproductive health. It extends to people feeling entitled that women should look and dress in a way that they find appealing, right down to their body shape and size.” http://jemshed.com/blog/

    • Lori

      November 10, 2014 at 6:59 am

      Thank you for the quote and the link to Jem Yoshika’s blog, Rachel. I have been reading through it and I’m enjoying it a lot.
      And I agree with this point of view. Of course women have had to fight hard to wear whatever they want. I even said it in the original post. The weird thing is, if you think about it, we still don’t wear what we want. We (both men and women) still wear what society deems acceptable for us. Some societies allow for more and some for less freedom. But completely free we are not. If nothing else (because all else is less easier to see), it’s the fashion industry and the fashion media who dictate what our girls should wear, and the girls don’t consider all the feminist history or any other issues before deciding to put on the clothes that everyone else is wearing. I mean, the shackles are more subtle now, but they are still there. And if we don’t say anything about if for fear of infringing upon a freedom, then I think we only have to lose.
      I am not finding my words easily either. I shouldn’t have been so black and white in my post about what clothes I agree with and what I don’t. My main philosophy is not that we should not wear certain clothes, but that we should know what we’re doing before doing it, that’s all. I think. Obviously, I need to think more about this.

  7. Stacyee

    May 11, 2018 at 2:37 am

    When you said, “we need to choose the durable, valuable power that comes not from using out sexuality but from using our brains, our empathy, our emotional intelligence, our instincts, our affectionate and caring natures.”, you kind of sound like you think a woman can’t be both sexualized and have any of those qualities. I don’t think you meant to come off this way but that is a stereotype that is very common and not so commonly talked about. I love going out dressed in sexy clothing, not so much because it gives me power but I just like feeling sexy and I’m not going to lie, I do like the attention. I’m also the type of person who enjoys having conversations with new people. Almost every time I go out, even when I’m not dressed too revealing, I encounter at least one person who seems surprised that I can hold an intelligent conversation. Several times, I’ve even had someone respond to me mentioning something I’ve read by saying, “You read?!?” with a surprised look on their face. I don’t understand why it’s so common for people to assume that an attractive woman dressed to go out is automatically stupid.

    • Lori

      May 11, 2018 at 10:21 am

      You’re very right. Thank you for your comment. I am guilty of some narrow-mindedness when it comes to revealing/sexy clothing, or the dichotomy between the sexual being and the intellectual being. I am struggling, philosophically to reconcile the body and the mind, although I would like to, because I know it’s healthier to embrace the two as one. Working on it 😊

      What can I say? I don’t see any fault with your logic. Of course a woman can be sexual and intelligent at the same time. And women should be free to enjoy their sexuality. Why shouldn’t we wear sexy clothes when we go out and want to be attractive to men? Of course there cannot be any feminist judgement against that. I believe that any choice a woman makes is valid, as long as she has the freedom to make that choice. I don’t want to defend my post because I think you found a solid crack in my reasoning. Who am I to tell anyone what they should wear? Who am I to say what clothes other women should feel comfortable with? I am biased, because I fully enjoy having a lot of fabric swing around my body. At least I think I fully enjoy it. My enjoyment might be in some part conditioning, because I want the patriarchal society I live in to judge me by my mind, not my body. I am just playing by the rules set out for me, not trying to change them. So, I don’t know. That’s the truth. I just try to understand myself and the world we live in and it’s not easy 😊

  8. Stacyee

    May 13, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    I’ve never thought about whether or not people see the body and mind as one or separate but I think you just figured out the core reason feminism is so divided. Objectification, street harassment, and even rape and consent issues all stem from only seeing a person as a physical being. Bear with me because this is my first time thinking about this and I’m typing as I think so I might sound a little like I’m trying to figure out something.
    Whether or not the body and might should be separated can get a little confusing. Physically our minds are in our body but at the same time, we can’t see our minds. Most romantic relationships form from a physical attraction but last because of a mental one. When I read articles on objectification and street harassment, I often see the argument of a woman being more than a physical object come up. While that makes sense, I often wonder what someone supposed to think if they are only seeing a person for the first time. They don’t know anything about them other than what they look like. I think it becomes an issue is when someone makes a “you must be this because you look like that” assumption. That’s pretty much what I’ve dealt with when people think I’m stupid because of how I look. I think the major problem with sexualization of women isn’t the sexualization itself but the fact that many people forget that the sexualized woman has a mind in addition to her body. I’m sitting here arguing with myself over this because I think that everyone should be acknowledged for their mind but at the same time, if there is only a physical relationship (whether it’s seeing a someone for the first time or a casual sex partner), is the mind really relevant? Even in a relationship with a deeper connection, I wouldn’t expect someone to be thinking about the other person’s mental capabilities during a sexual encounter. Maybe it’s okay to see someone as a sexualized physical being as long as their minds are acknowledged and it’s not assumed that their physical self defines their mental self.
    What I find really interesting about the first paragraph of your reply is that you addressed this issue coming for a whole different perspective. Most people refer to men sexualizing women when they talk about the mind being ignored but you’re the first person (that I’ve seen) point out that there are other ways for that to happen. Whether it’s human nature or a learned habit, humans tend to build opinions about other people based on their physical appearance before ever even talking to them. I said this is the core reason of why feminism is so divided because there could be situations where judging someone on physical appearance is okay even if it’s not in most cases. From what I’ve read, it seems that most feminists that write about issues that are affected by this believe that a woman’s mind should always be focused on. For example, many articles on objectification imply that objectification towards women is always wrong. It’s more complex than that. Like I said earlier, during a sexual encounter, people don’t tend to think about a person’s mind but that doesn’t mean that they do not acknowledge the mind is there. There are also people that don’t have anything other than someone’s appearance to base an opinion on. People arguing against these types of articles seem to think that objectification is okay because it should only be seen as a compliment. This is not the case either. For example, if a super hot, gorgeous woman discovered something incredible in science and everyone only talked about how she looked and ignored her discovery. Maybe the solution to this division is to figure out when it’s appropriate to only focus on a person’s appearance, only focus on a person’s mind and when to focus on both of them as a whole.
    I know you probably didn’t expect such a long reply to your first paragraph but you really pointed out something that’s an important factor in why we haven’t reached an agreement. Not only did you bring up what is possibly the core reason feminism is divided but if humans were able to resolve this issue, I believe the resolution of many other predigest issues would soon follow (or they would at least improve). Typing that last sentence, I just realized that sexualization is basically the same as other forms judgements on physical appearance. The only difference is that there are acceptable reasons for a person to judge a person on their sex appeal. You really made me think deeper on this topic and thank you for that.
    While your second paragraph in your reply didn’t make me think as much as your first paragraph, it did make me think about a few things I haven’t thought about before. Since I started writing my reply, I have been debating whether or not to bring this up because it could come off a little arrogant. However, I believe it’s an important thing to point out because most comment sections are filled with arguments and people refusing to see the other side of an argument. Your original article was not wrong. Several points you made I had not thought about prior to reading it. However, I decided to focus on one thing when I commented because it’s something that I deal with quite often. Honestly, I expected a reply that said something like, “I didn’t say that I think sexualized women only get power from being sexualized. A woman shouldn’t want power from sexualization at all.” or something along those lines. Instead, I was incredibly impressed, not because you agreed with me (which is why I feel like this could come off as arrogant) but because you acknowledged that there were other ways to think about the issue. I believe the first step of finding an agreement is for a person to see the argument from a different perspective even if they don’t agree. It takes an intelligent, open-minded person to do that. Before bringing up anything else, I wanted to say how impressed I am by that.
    There are a few other things I wanted to bring up. One thing that stood out was when you said “Why shouldn’t we wear sexy clothes when we go out and want to be attractive to men?” While I completely agree with this, it made me think of something that I’ve thought of before but I’ve never thought of in relation to the sexualization of women. When a woman dresses in a sexual manner, people tend she does this in order to attract men. That might be the case a lot of times, but men aren’t always a woman’s reason for dressing sexual. My nickname is shorts because I am always in ridiculously short shorts. I’ve had people ask me why I feel like I have to wear them but I never know how to answer because I don’t feel like I have to. In fact, I think that while guys might like what they see, many guys turn away because of the assumptions they make because of it. I honestly don’t know why I like showing so much leg but I remember being a kid and taking a long skirt I had and rolling it up as short as I could and basically playing dress up at home. This was before I was old enough to be interested in guys and I definitely wasn’t old enough to understand that guys liked short skirts. So while I don’t really know what attracts me to short shorts, I know it’s not because of male attention.
    Another thing I wanted to bring up is that it is perfectly fine to feel more comfortable in less revealing clothes. To be honest, I don’t like the fact that revealing and sexy seem to mean the same thing. Revealing clothes might have more sex appeal but they aren’t necessarily sexier. When men are looking for a woman to start a meaningful relationship with, they don’t tend to look for sex appeal. They usually look at qualities that won’t change with the outfit. Confidence is the most attractive quality and if someone is uncomfortable, they tend to not have as much confidence.
    Something that really stood out to me was when you said, “My enjoyment might be in some part conditioning, because I want the patriarchal society I live in to judge me by my mind, not my body.” Women being conditioned to feel like they have to dress a certain way is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed. However, even if it is due to conditioning, if you feel comfortable in less revealing clothes, then you should wear what makes you comfortable. You never actually said it but (correct me if I’m wrong) it sounds like you kind of feel guilty that the reason you enjoy dressing this way might be partially due to conditioning. If you do feel this way, please stop. You have every right to feel comfortable and if it’s because of conditioning, the people who conditioned you to feel that way should feel guilty, not you! Even if I’m wrong and I’m making assumptions about your feelings that aren’t true (if I am, I apologize! I’m only mentioning it in case you do because I don’t want anyone to feel that way!), I’m willing to bet money that there are both women who dress in revealing and non-revealing clothes that feel guilty because of it.
    One last point I want to make is that I believe the stereotypes around sexualized women are due to the way intelligent women are portrayed. I watch a lot of space documentaries and the women scientists they interview are usually very plain looking. Many of them look like they are trying to not look sexy. While one might argue that they shouldn’t feel the need to get dressed up to look through a telescope, when they are interviewed, they are most likely made up by the producers of the program. This reinforces the idea that a woman either has brains or beauty but never both. In my opinion, the best way to fight against this is to show more sexy women talking about intelligent things. Women in science is something that is talked about quite a bit but the profession is portrayed in a very dull manner. If you compare the life of a female popstar and a female scientist based on how they are portrayed, you would conclude that the popstar life is a lot more fun. In reality though, I doubt that every female scientist is in bed by eight o’clock but you never hear about a scientist in the middle of a publicity scandal.
    To wrap this long reply up, I just want to say that I think people should just be themselves. People should stop worrying about what kind of attention their clothes are bringing and wear what makes them feel good. I truly believe that if everyone stopped caring about what other people think, stereotypes would slowly fade. People wouldn’t feel like they have to be one way because they are something else.

    • Lori

      May 21, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      This is a lot to think about! It’s so hard not to overanalyze everything. I just wanted to say that I don’t see shorts as a “sexy” garment, even if they are technically revealing. But they are comfort clothing, for hot temperatures. I have to say that I never wear shorts, but on my first few visits to India I felt the need very badly, only because women are not really supposed to wear shorts in India, while men do it all the time. It felt so unfair, I felt like an essential liberty had been taken away from me, although I’ve never even owned a pair of shorts.
      And I also think that the reality of the belief that smart women cannot be sexy, and viceversa, is societal conditioning: men believe they are supposed to like women who are sexy but not too smart (they don’t want to compete with women there, they want to remain the ones who do the talking while we do the listening) and women are conditioned to hide their smarts to seem more attractive to men. It’s a very insidious situation. A lot of values need to change, yes. Especially since I am convinced men do find brains attractive. Right? But then marriage becomes a more difficult proposition if women have minds of their own (they will ask for liberties, control of finances and of the decision on baring children), and that throws our patriarchal society off balance. There are too many factors involved in this and it’s quite sickening to think of, actually.
      Thank you so much for your well-thought out comments and apologies for replying so late–you’ve given me a to think about.

  9. Stacyee

    May 22, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve actually been away from my laptop for the last week so you replied at the perfect time!
    The shorts I tend to wear are usually a lot shorter than what most people were which is why so many people tend to have an opinion on them. I will admit that I do own some pairs that compare more with swim suit bottoms than shorts. I have a weird body shape though. My waist is super skinny but I have a big butt and big thighs so it’s hard to find short shorts that are small enough for my tummy but big enough to completely cover my butt. Normally I don’t feel like I have to explain this but I was just saying that being sexy isn’t always the primary reason for someone to dress in revealing clothes.
    That’s interesting that you don’t normally wear shorts but when you couldn’t you wanted to. Maybe that’s a reason some people wear sexualized clothes, because it’s still somewhat a taboo to dress like that in a normal day to day setting. It seems silly but there’s always some appeal when someone tells you that you can’t do something or that it’s a bad thing to do. Actually, that might be part of the reason I still dress the way I do, because so many people say that I shouldn’t.

    Thinking about women in other countries saddens me. I know that there is still a ton of work to be done for women’s rights in America but sometimes I feel like people should take a break from fighting for women’s rights in America and focus on helping women in other countries get the same rights I already have. Sadly, most people tend to only focus on their own country when it comes to any issue.
    You’re definitely right about the sexy vs smart stereotype being conditioning. It’s actually kind of funny because many men that go for women that are less intelligent than them end up being unhappy. Personally I believe that relationships work best when the partners are equal. If one person is substantially more intelligent, they would have to “dumb down” their conversations they have with their partner. Opposites only attract to a certain extent. Couples need to enjoy talking about and doing similar things.

    You word things in a way that makes me think! Reading your second paragraph made me think about reasons why we are conditioned that way and I thought of a couple. One is that maybe when a woman is sexy in a man’s eyes, he’s “blinded by lust”. He might not pick up on whether or not she is intelligent because he is so impressed by her appearance. The other thing I thought of is that maybe women who attract men with their physical appearance don’t feel the need to be intelligent and if they are intelligent, they don’t feel the need to show it. It seems like humans are conditioned to focus on attracting the opposite sex more than anything else. If an attractive woman’s goal is to find a man and get married and her looks are attracting plenty of men,, why would she worry about her brain?

    When you talk about women having their own minds in a marriage, you could not be more right. Luckily, I think some of those ways of thinking are slowly (very slowly) fading. For example, my mom was always the one in control of finances in her marriage and my dad was perfectly fine with not having that responsibility. You mentioned the decision on having children and that’s actually something I think about a lot. Personally, I don’t want children and I’ve never felt pressure to have them. My dad has grandkids from my half-brothers and my mom had me at an old age so sadly she would be too old to see any grandkids grow up. However, I recently saw some articles about how more people are deciding not to have children and it makes me sick that so many people are against it. While I don’t feel pressure from those people, it did make me think about a few things. One of the most common replies to a woman saying she doesn’t want kids is, “you just haven’t met the right man.” I don’t think that falling in love would make me all of a sudden have baby fever but I wonder what would happen if I fell in love with someone who desperately wanted kids. If I love someone, I would want to give them everything that would make them happy. I wouldn’t want someone I love to feel like their life is incomplete because they don’t have children. Unlike most things, however, children are something that a person can’t get on their own. It wouldn’t be like a job promotion that I could help a guy get and then never deal with it again. My biggest relationship fear is falling for someone who wants kids and have to basically choose between their happiness or my own. I will say though, if I did ever get in that situation and decide to give the man children, I would not physically have them and he would be the one filling the “mom” stereotyped role.

    I didn’t think I was going to type so much when I first read your reply but I guess once I get started I can’t stop. Both of your replies so far have been extremely thought provoking and I’m really impressed.

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