Monday, 15 June 2015

If You're Not Part Of The Solution, Then You Are Part Of The Problem

If this post offends you, you WILL recover. I promise.

This gentleman is mistaken:

This is a genuine photo of a bunch of prostitutes. All of these women are professional sex workers.

As you can see they all dress differently, and........ just like everyone else.

"TSK, obviously Melanie, they are off-duty."

Obviously. And the weather is clearly inclement in that photo too. But that's who they are. When they are at work they wear different clothes, because they perform an act.

These women are also performing an act at work, I'm fairly sure they don't go shopping dressed like this:

Why don't we say to girls "Good grief! You have such tight clothing on you look like a gymnast!"

I'll tell you why, because our society demonizes sex workers, so the greatest insult we can think of is to compare women to prostitutes. At the same time, the greatest insult we can give a man is to call him a woman. Before we get any further, let's just remember that.

Which parts of a woman's body should be covered?

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that the pubic mons, labia, and anus should be covered, plus the nipples.

So this bikini should be enough:

Not appropriate you say? Can you say why?

No. You can't. All you can say is that you are not accustomed to seeing such little fabric. That's all it is. It's slightly shocking because it's unfamiliar. Trust me, if you had grown up seeing all women dressed like that all of the time, you wouldn't bat an eyelid.

OK. Let's say you want to cover a bit more.

How about this retro style?

This is considered modest. Some would find it amusingly so, and say their grandmother might wear it, right? But look again, she's actually covering roughly the same, or slightly less skin than the outfits that are sometimes considered as being too skimpy for off-beach wear. So is it a matter of location? Thighs are OK if there's sand underfoot?

At some point somebody decided something like that. Wasn't me. I wasn't asked.

To avoid repeating myself, I refer you briefly to an earlier post:

If we are ever going to reach agreement on this issue, we have to understand what's behind it. It is NEVER enough to say "You know what modest means" because the word is relative and a moving target in any case. We have to take it apart. We have to question all our assumptions and defaults. What we cover, why we cover it, where we cover it...........

"No spaghetti straps!"

So. Tell me what is wrong with a shoulder?

Let's have a close up:

It's quite possible this woman is naked (and she's wearing mascara, the hussy!), but we are looking from the back so we can't see breasts. What can we see here that could be a problem? Any idea? what if she was, in fact, wearing this:

Is she underdressed? 

Is THIS woman underdressed?

I see shoulders, a bit of cleavage, AND it's tight. But she went to church in that........

Is this woman wearing less?

Oh, the skirt is shorter? It's longer than the gymnast up there. I found the photo of the woman in the black dress by entering the word "skanky" in Google. So, somebody thought it was. Was it the length of the skirt, do you think? Or the Goth style? Or the pose?

Let's do a bit of quick Photoshopping.

Is that OK now? If not, why not?

Perhaps you think it's a matter of occasion. At the beach, parties, weddings, can show a bit more skin. But not at the office. And definitely not walking down the street. And maybe not at parties, come to think of it......

If we are going to draw the line, where should it be? Are we all to be provided with a list, that details where, who, and how much?

Would this help?

(Click on it to read)

This is what we face. Judgement. Can't win.

Years ago I decided that I'd dress for comfort and fun and not the opinion of others. Yes, I do have a sense of occasion. I can also follow rules when necessary. But sometimes the rules just don't help at all because the person who wrote them has the wrong motives.

The idea behind "dressing modestly" is to prevent men being distracted, apparently. Natural urges in men, especially young men, cause them to look at and be attracted to women. (Yes, I know, unless they are gay. Let's stay on topic this is about the problem women have.)

Let's be real here. Men stare at and assault women dressed from head to toe in several layers of loose clothing. The idea that what we wear has any bearing on that is 100% bullshit. It's an excuse. It's a pathetic excuse. It's victim blaming at its most ridiculous.

And as I've said so many times that I'm bored with saying it, women in full burqas get raped. Frequently in fact. They covered, and covered, and covered, until you couldn't even see their eyes, and that wasn't enough, so they either stay in the house or have chaperones. And they STILL get raped.

Wake up. The problem is not the clothing, and it's not the women.

OK? Can we just acknowledge that?

It's not enough for you to say "OK, there's no justification for sexual assault but women should still wear modest clothing!", because there is no such thing. Modesty is an attitude, not a dress code. Clothing is just fashion. It changes. It varies from place to place, culture to culture. It always has, and it always will. And until we get our heads out of our arses about skin and fabric and deal with what the problem actually is, nothing will improve. 

We want the situation to improve, don't we? Well it's not going to improve by saying "this is too short", or "this is too tight." That has never worked. Never. Victorians wore high necklines, skirts to the floor, long sleeves, and enough layers to suffocate you - but men still gamely fought their way in!

No. The problem is not the clothing and it's not the women, and every time somebody says that it is, they are part of the problem. 

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