Don’t Look Twice
October 4, 2009 § 5 Comments
On Wednesday I had a frank discussion with a good friend of mine about how women’s wardrobe choices can affect men. We hit on some interesting points, but I wouldn’t even bring it up now if it weren’t for what my sociology class talked about today.
In our class discussion on women and sports, a girl in my class who is a gymnast told us that in the weight room at the MU athletic training complex, sections of time are usually blocked off so that each sport can have personal time using the equipment. Female athletes, however, are not allowed to wear tank tops and must wear shorts of a certain length or longer — “because it’s too distracting for the male athletes and they can’t focus.” She went on to say that football players sometimes come back from practice with cut-off shirts and their bellies hanging out, which is apparently just fine.
At youth group, we received annual Valentine’s Day talks. One year in either late middle school or early high school, the boys and girls were separated so as to foster a more open and honest environment. It was then that we learned that boys and girls are simply “wired” differently — girls are enticed by emotional porn [ie. The Notebook] and boys cannot resist staring at girls’ bodies. My friend also used the word “wired” to describe how men just naturally want to stare at attractive women.
How much do women think about what men think about their clothing? It does seem utterly stupid to choose outfits based on men’s opinions, yet that’s what he was basically proposing. I think that to some extent, many women probably think about what a guy will think of their garments when they are dressing to impress, but I certainly do not comprehend what he described as a crippling inability to look beyond a hot woman’s cleavage.
Of course, my friend noted that such a thing should be done out of love for one’s brothers in Christ so that they are not stumbled and so they are able to adequately respect their sisters. I can understand that we as women should mercifully wield this “power” [his word, not mine] that we have over men, but that’s not enough.
This argument brings to mind the victim-blaming that is so rampant in many cases of sexual assault. Is a scantily-dressed woman ever asking to get groped or raped? No. It is under nobody’s power to take away the freedom that women have to choose what they wear in public. Am I asking for a man to stare at my chest when I wear a low-cut shirt [as I am wont to do since my bosom is not particularly ample]? No. What takes place in his mind is his problem.
I think the whole “men and women are wired differently” is a weak excuse to simply accept sexual objectification as “just the way things are.” We have all been socialized to view women as decorations — just because it’s true of the society we live in doesn’t make it any less of a lie. Once you are able to critically question why you think the way you do, you have the power to change your mindset and think at least a little more independently.
Men are also demeaned when people argue that they are helpless before the charms of a beautiful woman. Do they really have such feeble control over their brains/eyes/wieners? I believe in the possibility of freeing oneself from those bonds. So let’s make it happen.
Too many generalizations here.
I don’t think men are as immune to the pressure to impress, either. And that includes aesthetics in fashion, grooming, physique, etc. Also don’t discount other intangibles, such as competence as displayed in career and education, assertiveness, etc. And the list grows longer in Christian circles.
I didn’t say that men don’t fall prey to the pressure to look nice, but this post was written about how men look at women and who should be held accountable if a man somehow can’t look away; the intangibles are not apparent by merely looking at a woman’s body.
hmm…are you capable of looking at guys who aren’t totally clothed without ever lusting? im not. i don’t think it’s only a male issue. but i do think that dressing a certain way can hurt someone is enough reason to try to avoid it.
I’m not capable of looking at a hot partially-clothed man without desire, but I don’t find many of those actually walking around in public [I passed a guy with near-perfect calves the other day and covertly gaped but it’s not like I could ask him to change out of his shorts..]. Even when it does occur, though, it doesn’t become problem enough that I can’t focus on conversation or take him less seriously — it’s usually more an appreciation for his body than a crippling gaze-magnet [except in special cases I guess. But usually that involves a celebrity of some kind].
The unselfish thing would be to would be to alter the way I dress, I suppose, but I hold tight-fistedly to my freedoms…
*knowing that dressing a certain way