Boobday: crescent

For some time I had felt drawn to reveal my body. Confronting it, ceasing to use clothing as a barrier to conceal my appearance, deflect my own gaze. I’m content in my body. It just is. I just am.

I now feel drawn to reveal less: magnetic north has shifted.

Hy’s post today and her comments on how women are routinely sexualized got me thinking about clothes. There is a persistent belief that women should be and are dressing to attract men. Women who are perceived as rejecting this norm are called fat, ugly, dyke, or man-repelling. This belief, plus the belief that men can’t control themselves, results in women who get raped being accused of attracting men too effectively: “What was she wearing?”

Here’s a thought experiment: imagine that all the women you see (yes, even the hot ones) have dressed themselves without reference to what men might think of their outfits. Imagine that they all have a different collection of priorities, like what makes them feel good from the inside, what’s comfortable, what’s clean, what’s new, what won’t get in their way during the commute or at work, what color grabs them today, what’s warm enough, what’s cool enough.

Imagine that how women dress isn’t about you and that your opinion of them doesn’t matter.

boobday-crescent

badge Boobday

6 thoughts on “Boobday: crescent

    1. I think we’re on the same page here. I’m saying, choose what you want to wear for whatever reasons you may have. To those who think that women are supporting cast and to be costumed appropriately to that role, my thought experiment was meant to be an invitation to imagine women as being the heroes of their own stories. Clothing is just one aspect of many, but it’s where my mind went today.

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  1. I love that you have taken this direction! I agree with you regarding objectification and serialization of women and how, culturally, women develop negative body image when they do not partake in the cultural “norms.”

    Obviously, being male, I do enjoy the female form. But I have always been more interested in people as individuals – who they are, what they have experienced, knowledge that they have to share, etc. The sexualized beauty as we are programmed to desire is fleeting; always fading. However, real beauty is indelible.

    This is a lovely photo that accompanies a wonderful post.

    As a son, husband and father, thank you!

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    1. I think that anytime anyone breaks a rule of the culture, there is a cost of some kind. Cultural habits survive by being enforced, even if it’s something as trivial as gentle ribbing about mispronouncing a word.

      Body image is a complex issue. There’s a cultural ideal, and I think all people compare themselves to the ideal to some extent, but because the system says that women are obliged to be beautiful, I think the ideal tends to affect women more. So women compare themselves to the ideal, and judge themselves. Or they may recognize the ideal as more or less arbitrary and reject the message that they must conform, in which case they may have an excellent body image. But that won’t stop others from judging and trying to bring them into conformity.

      I’m not saying that all women must do the opposite of whatever the system commands. Women must be free to choose. Sometimes my choices might look like conformity, and sometimes they might look like resistance. But I’m always trying to choose what’s right for me in the moment.

      Nor am I saying that appreciating physical beauty is wrong. But as you say, it’s superficial and ultimately of no great substantial importance.

      Thank you for your comment!

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  2. What I have struggles with is the (perception of) hypocrisy for some people who decried sexism and sexualization of women (by men) and then turned and joined in lock-step, sexualizing themselves.I want to be careful and not describe this using blanket statements or lumping everyone into the same basket.

    My concerns are that we (society) have embarked on a sexual empowerment idealistic crusade and are still proceeding in the same direction as before. Women are still objectified in the process. Rather than the industry being male-dominant and seemingly misogynistic, women have taken significant control of the reins without changing the course. As you stated, women must be free to choose however the peer (and other) pressure has increased leaving women to feel even more compelled to surrender to the game.

    I re-read that and I am being fairly general in these comments. I am just concerned about the legacy that we are leaving for my children. Did I help to make things better or worse for them?

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    1. There are two sets of ideals, one for men and one for women. Women are supposed to be beautiful and sexy. Patriarchy tends to value more highly the ideals that are assigned to men. The ideals assigned to women are viewed as good for women, but not all that great in the grande scheme of things. Even as society values beauty and sexiness, those who have such traits are judged as being shallow, vain, air-headed, slutty, whatever.

      A woman who chooses to reject the sexiness game is judged as being a failure as a woman. (For example, female politicians routinely are judged as not worth listening to if they’re not “attractive enough”.) A woman who embraces the sexiness game is considered shallow etc.

      It’s not hypocrisy, it’s that the game is rigged: women cannot win. That’s patriarchy.

      To objectify is to present a person as an object. I don’t think a person can really objectify herself. If I agree to be in a photo where someone other than me makes all of the decisions (like what I’m wearing, how I pose, how the photo is composed and cropped – especially if I’m induced to do something I don’t want to do by means of money or force), that can be objectifying. But if I’m making those decisions for myself, I’m exercising my agency. Being an agent is the opposite of being an object. What I may be doing is seeking external validation (or perhaps not, as the case may be), but that’s a different issue from objectification.

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