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" if they dont want us to look why do they dress like that? "

(26 Posts)
whydidhesaythat Thu 02-Jun-16 23:15:26

stupid newcomer here....( not a troll, not a bloke)

the quote above is from my father in law.

I actually don't have an answer. Certainly as a young woman I "dressed like that" because I wanted to be desired. Now I withdraw my eyes from beautiful young girls' boobs when they sit down next to me on the train.... and I'd find them very distracting if meeting professionally... And would probably take the individual less seriously

does anyone have the patience to explain a feminist take on this? Please don't slam me I am genuinely confused.

ToffeePenny Fri 03-Jun-16 00:08:34

Initial thoughts until one of the proper lot comes along (this is posted in theories and traffic here can be a little slow)

1. Because they like the way they look and it makes them happy
2. Because wanting to look a way that makes you happy is fine
3. Because it would be boring to only dress in Jesus sandles/wellies/plimsolls/brogues, baggy sweaters/t-shirts/fleeces/jacket, Bermuda shorts/chinos/galoshes/sensible trousers (delete as appropriate for the weather and place) throughout your entire life
4. Because fashion doesn't always sit the same way on every body shape (cf big norks vs every 'professional-looking' blouse ever invented or chunky thighs vs smart fitted skirt suits with the slit)
5. Because pulling off the 'invisible ninja' look is actually quite difficult and every outfit risks attracting a 'look' of some description.
6. Because 'they' are actually individuals, dressing for a myriad of their own reasons, with a very very low probability of there being any chance that it is intended for the individuals your fil believes make up 'us'.

2 odd things stand out though from your post - that you, 'not a bloke', notice their norks at all when they sit next to, not opposite, you, let alone to the extent to be able to 'withdraw your eyes'. I barely notice my own and they are centimetres away. Are they wearing neon lights on them?

Secondly that your father in law feels that you, 'not a bloke' would understand the view from the point of the 'us' and not feel part of the 'they' and so feel excluded or pressured by his comment. What on earth is wrong with the man?

nothanksbyenow Fri 03-Jun-16 00:14:23

This afternoon my FIL said "and you can't even tap them [women] on the bum anymore". He looked a bit eye rolly at me when I said "quite right"!

Some people's attitudes are slow to change, too slow for my money.

houseeveryweekend Fri 03-Jun-16 00:17:54

I always make this mistake because i love bright colours and end up buying loads of neon coloured outrageous looking clothing. The clothing cheers me up to look at when its on the hanger or when i see myself in the mirror inside but when i go out im always thinking 'why have i done this i look like a mad clown everyone is staring at me i cant relax' Sometimes i envy teh women in the Burqas.. i know in some ways they get stared at more but they seem so protected like no one can get at them or know that much about them just from looking. I sometimes feel like women express so much of themselves through clothing its actually incredibly intense. I suppose its that you are brought up to be looked at so you are constantly thinking of how you appear in great detail... like what does that bracelet indicate about my personality if people were to see it... and is that what i want them to think of me?? Is this top low enough that people will think im sensual and relaxed but not so low that they will think im trying too hard to be sexy? Sometimes i really wish i wasnt constantly watching myself. No one else could possibly be staring at me as much as im staring at myself in my head hahaha

Fuzzywuzzywasabear Fri 03-Jun-16 00:25:19

I work with men I can be completely covered head to toe in work wear they will still stare and say I'm wearing something a certain way to get attention.......I'm not

I wear a plain v neck long sleeve top underneath because it's comfortable
in the summer I wear a vest top underneath because it keeps me cool and it's comfortable

I wear what makes me feel happy and comfortable u don't care about you or anyone else judging me from across the room.

I also have a small frame and big tits so can't really do anything about the girls unless I wear a polo shirt everywhere?!

houseeveryweekend Fri 03-Jun-16 00:30:46

Breast size is an issue isnt it!! I have an incredibly flat chest and can wear what is basically underwear outside on a night out and i wont get comments wheras my friend who has an ample chest can wear clothing that if i wore it would look extremely modest, and she will get loads of awful un asked for comments!

houseeveryweekend Fri 03-Jun-16 00:32:59

so men will say 'well she should have known wearing that would make us act like this!' but actually its not what shes wearing at all but her body shape which she has little control over :-( it seems some guys think if youve got big boobs that youve grown them on purpose for their enjoyment

Fuzzywuzzywasabear Fri 03-Jun-16 00:38:12

Yep, I was once accused of provocatively shaking my hair out for them.

Nothing to do with one of them pointing out I had aquired a few large lumps of oily muck from the work site in it and I didn't fancy walking around with it in there the rest of the day hmm all for them obvs....

whydidhesaythat Fri 03-Jun-16 10:07:32

Toffee, almost everyone who isn't dead notices a beautiful young woman's cleavage! Whereas no one notices their own.

I am interested in what you say about the people watching not being the Intended goal
houseverywekend great posts thank you. It is awful how we are brought "up to be looked at".

I think it is to do with whose perspective matters perhaps.

WarwickDavisAsPlates Thu 28-Jul-16 10:22:35

I have to disagree with whydidhesaythats cleavage remark. I'm bi sexual and still don't tend to notice a woman's cleavage any more than I would notice any other part of her body. When I notice someone it tends to be their face.

I think the main issue I have with your fils statement is the assumption that a woman would dress for anyone other than herself. Men seem to think that women have so much invested in "what men like" rather than just doing things for themselves.

I also agree with the previous poster who mentioned clothing looking different on different body types. Bar a polo necked top it's hard for me to wear any thing that doesn't show some cleavage.

TheSparrowhawk Thu 28-Jul-16 14:01:09

So your FIL stares at women and then expects women to account for his behaviour?

WilLiAmHerschel Thu 28-Jul-16 15:35:09

almost everyone who isn't dead notices a beautiful young woman's cleavage! Whereas no one notices their own.

Now I withdraw my eyes from beautiful young girls' boobs when they sit down next to me on the train.... and I'd find them very distracting if meeting professionally...

Yup. Those definitely sound like things a woman would say.

UnikittyInHerBusinessSuit Thu 28-Jul-16 15:47:04

As a heterosexual woman I do find large expanses of cleavage quite eye catching, but I don't think anyone is objecting to "looking". It's persistently staring, gawping, ignoring what the woman in question is saying because you're too busy concentrating on her body, passing comment, making offensive remarks, harassing, requesting sexual favours.......

Nobody is asking anybody to go about with their eyes closed. There are many quite lovely looking young men in my office, who are making it a more pleasant place to be. I have somehow managed to prevent this fact from interfering with my ability to work with them in an entirely professional way.

BertPuttocks Thu 28-Jul-16 15:52:55

The problem is that your FIL has added his own interpretation of what a woman wants into the equation in order to justify his own behaviour.

He is saying that:

'Woman dresses in a certain way' + 'Man looks at her' = 'Woman wants man to look at her'

The reality is far more likely to be:

'Woman dresses in a certain way because she wants to'.

'Man looks at woman because she is a woman and society says that it's okay to do that, regardless of what the woman might actually want'.

No connection between the two.

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Fri 29-Jul-16 09:36:15

I used to dress provocatively. I wasn't especially liked by boys and was desperate to have a boyfriend. Then when I got a boyfriend, I was desperate to keep him. I liked the attention because when you're in a bar or club, no one comments on your personality do they? When you grow up with comments about your appearance all tbe fucking time whether good or bad, it can become a fixation, and I was shallow enough that comments about my large breasts being the only good thing about me would really upset me.

I've said this before on this board, I was raped when I was 20, the rapist was caught and jailed. The defense lawyer asked me if I'd gained weight and dyed my hair brown deliberately to position myself as less attractive. No one ever assumes that a man is dressing for a woman. Just that they like the way they look in their clothes.

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Fri 29-Jul-16 09:38:10

Not really sure what I'm trying to say if I'm honest, just give some food for thought?

HouseMouseQueen Tue 30-Aug-16 20:04:39

I'm an older woman who has a perspective to add.

When I was young I was taught to dress a certain way to be 'desired.' That's part of gender training into femininity. It was such an unconscious thing to do. The only time I was conscious of it was if I was with a partner and wanted to 'please.'

Truth is, it's gender training that has to go, as most feminists are well aware.

Now, as an older woman who wears pretty much a simple t shirt and a knee length skirt and sandals all the time, I don't get street harassed very much anymore and I like this.

Sure, men can look but then they have a habit of thinking that women LIKE to be looked at out in public. The truth is, most of us don't like that attention. We find it threatening and off putting.

It's men's attitudes and behaviors that need changing, not the way a woman dresses.

Gwenhwyfar Sun 11-Sep-16 21:01:01

"No one ever assumes that a man is dressing for a woman. Just that they like the way they look in their clothes."

I think we often assume that gay men are dressing to attract other men though.

libprog Thu 17-Nov-16 10:52:59

houseeveryweekend - i know your post (about boobs) is older but just wanted to input as a man. that would be because it's actually very hard for us to not look. I'd like to think I have gotten good at it, but it took active trying and time and is "forced". I dare say that a lot of men are similar to that regard.

Question might be why that is? Is it social conditioning because we see boobs everywhere? Honestly, I highly doubt that. I remember I was in school, and this was even before I started masturbating or even looking at naughty mags, there was one girl who already had boobs but did not wear a sports bra in PE. I found myself looking not even knowing why.

I don't think it makes sense or would work to stop this, rather one should be open about it, not shame men for it, and openly talk about respect and understanding, i.e. get rid of "they want us to look" but not try to repress the desire. That never works anyway.

Dadaist Fri 05-May-17 00:19:46

What exactly is wrong with wanting to be looked at or looking? Someone may have a far more narrow criteria of who they might like to receive attention from - but looking from afar is not attention and unwanted attention is not invited purely on how we look.
Women are entitled to dress to attract admiration or desire or whatever they want. And obviously people will notice. But in looking or being looked at - I don't see the issue? Whether any of us are conforming to external norms, expectations or preferences is anyone's guess - but we each have the autonomy to dress as we please.
What jkind of answer are we aiming for here? If it's a question of judging- well yes, people may make judgements or assumptions about us based on how we look, which NS or may not be fair or accurate- but presumably we take account of that when we choose how to look.

DeleteOrDecay Fri 05-May-17 00:32:01

It's one step away from the whole "she was wearing a short skirt so she was asking for it" train of thought in my opinion.

Some men seem to think that women only ever do things to please them. It's entitlement.

Dadaist Fri 05-May-17 08:55:03

I think you are right in that the issue is not whether someone wishes to be noticed- anyone can look but that the completely mistaken assumption that they are seeking attention, uninvited, from anyone! It's that attitude that is wrong - not wanting to be noticed!

Lasagnabreath Fri 09-Jun-17 15:37:57

I know this is old. I hold my hands up to dressing a particular way just to get a few notices from guys, and girls to be fair. I liked wearing a skirt even if it was with tights just to show the length of my legs, I didn't mind wearing a low cut too in the hope that someone would look and I would feel good. I think it's a lie to say that women dress exclusively for themselves with no inclination that wearing next to nothing (just as an example) will get the guys looking.

I believe though that you should dress however you like and should expect others to look and maybe make a comment, although you can shoot their comment down if you choose. I don't believe anyone has a right to touch you based on how you look though.

I notice a woman's or a mans chest if it's on show. Then again I like the female body in a sexual way so if they are showing I may end up looking. Not lustily but I will notice it if you know what I mean. If I catch myself looking I obviously look away as I don't mean any disrespect. To say you solely dress for yourself is a blatant lie though.

Mantegnaria Tue 17-Oct-17 01:05:35

This thread is very depressing. I like to look as nice as I can manage, not that I'm much to look at.

PerspicaciaTick Tue 17-Oct-17 01:13:12

Another thing I seem to have got wrong - I should be noticing other women's boobs all the time (especially the pretty, young women's boobs) like all the other women do. I am such a failure at this womaning lark.

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