just phyllis

just phyllis
Small Town, Indiana, USA
November 13
Blogging with PTSD --------------- "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia _____________________________________ All works ©Phyllis45, the author of this blog. _____________________________________ Also posting at Our Salon http://oursalon.ning.com/ http://oursalon.ning.com/profile/Phyllis


MAY 4, 2012 9:40PM

Female objectification and fashion- Foolish Monkey's OC

Rate: 12 Flag

Foolish Monkey wrote a post,

tittyplatters-girlywomen & god save the queen from stilettos

in response to a post by Jeanette DeMain

Breasturants, Hypocrisy and Sexual Kitsch.

I read the Breastaurants post yesterday. These two made me think about something I've been thinking about for a while. Spending most of my waking hours on a college campus, I get to see the gamut of female fashion, and I wonder.

I had thought that I was getting to be a prude! Yes, me. I was horrified! So I started trying to rationalize it. After all, it wasn't that metaphorically long ago that women had to be buttoned up to the breast bone, no skin showing except cleavage. Now, they cover the pertinent parts and call it good. One of the secretaries I work with wears clingy dresses that slither into her butt crack. No undies? I don't check. Another is a regular fashion clothes horse wearing 6" platforms most days. Nothing slithers into cracks, though, and I do love her shoes. If I was 60 pounds lighter...

I've seen some campus employees dressed rather tackily. There was the severely overweight woman wearing fashionable slacks and no undie lines. Some things we just don't need to see jiggle. There are the slinky dresses that get caught in the crotch while walking. Mostly, though, the employees dress appropriately for a professional setting.

And the students are covering more than they were about two years ago. Remember those low rise jeans with the thongs hanging out and the midriff shirts? That was some scary stuff, let me tell you. Now they wear tights that fit like skin and tops that come down to where the butt starts to curve out. Mini skirts and hiking boots. Shirts falling off the shoulders. But no fear of parts falling out of clothes. I feel sometimes that I should avert my eyes, but do I need to? No flesh is showing, just the form. I wear jeans and stretchy t-shirts, so you can see my shape though not in the same detail. Are they really being too outré, or am I being too judgmental? 

And I have a friend with a 14 year old daughter, tiny girl with big bosoms, that is allowed to wear clothing that reveals her lacy bra. This I don't understand at all.

So I thought, maybe this is a reaction to the repression that women live under. We are judged on our looks. We judge each other on our looks. Women can be absolutely vicious to each other, but I read somewhere that it is in response to the repression we all live under. We put each other down so that we personally aren't on the bottom of the pile.

So I thought, one thing that no one can control is how we dress. Perhaps the total revelation of the female form, though fully clothed, is a nose thumb at the powers that repress. Fashion magazines may make suggestions, parents and boyfriends may make requests, but the actual purchase and wearing of the clothing is a personal decision. No one is being hurt.

For every day wear, clothes are a personal choice that we get to make.

These restaurants, though. Do you remember when Hooters started out? I do. In the late 80s; I used to eat there. The food was excellent. Yeah, the outfits are skimpy but the girls wear flesh colored tights so nothing is falling out of the shorts and most of the boobs are fake so they're not bouncing out, either. 10 years ago, though, maybe 8 was the last time I was there, they had really gone downhill on their menu. Wings, hot dogs, and beer. I took it as a sign that they weren't doing so good. All of that food is pretty inexpensive for the restaurant. They turned into a sports bar. Woopy. 

Maybe these "breastaurants" are a sign of the times. Maybe they are the future, though I hope not. Maybe their sole purpose is to "put women in their place." It wouldn't be the first time, and it really won't be the last. Maybe they are a reaction to the man-cession. Do you remember that? At the beginning of the recession, men were losing jobs faster than women were. Maybe it's a response to the fact that women outnumber men in colleges. Maybe it's a reposnse to being in control of our own sexuality, choosing when and with whom to have sex and make babies. Hell, maybe it's because we know how to use power tools.

But as to the women on the street, I have hope. Clothes are still something we can choose for ourselves.

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I don't know...

I've got two 12 y.o. Twin daughters who are cute as hell, but are WAY more conservative than I am. (I live in fear of someday soon they are going to sit me down for "The Talk" and come out of the closet as Young Republicans).

That said, I don't ever TELL them they can't wear or do something.

Sure, they experiment. Of course, we discuss things such as what I consider to be appropriate dress and behavior. But when it's said and done its their decision BECAUSE THAT'S HOW THEY LEARN!

So if they go to the dance in hightop sneakers and a dress, that's okay. They're learning and they are being THEMSELVES not somebody else's idea of self. They are bright, wonderful, SELF DETERMINING young women who are becoming able to think for themselves. This is how they learn to do that.

(Plus, I dressed Goth all through MY teens so I can't say a DAMN thing... I also, though, look absolutely BITCH'IN when I'm kicking ass at a Board of Director's meeting in my Cavalli business suit!)
SBA, sounds like a great family. I can't speak as a Mom because my cat only sheds, she never puts stuff on. All I can do is observe and watch the attitudes that swirl around campus. The permanent denizens of Conservativeville make some rude comments sometime, and I did have to ask about one girl who looked way to sexy-pajama for the research she was conducting, but overall, I think they're doing okay.
I got my own hooters, so never felt the need to go to a restaurant to hear the endless comparisons to my chest and why I should work there. Bad enough in the regular restaurant and bar scene.
I do see girls and women covering a little more lately. Some of us dress for ourselves, some for fashion, some for daring, some to piss off our parents, some to lure attention, some to push away attention. I don't understand the 6 inch heels, but I never was able to bend my feet that way.
I'm really thrilled with the discussion that has been started. What an excellent post, Phyllis. That second-to-last paragraph is something I have been thinking about a lot too. There is very little that happens in a vacuum. Most things are a response to something else, and I think the whole "breastaurant" thing is a response to the issues you bring up. (And hey, this might be the first time my name has ever been in someone's tags!)

It's great that you have a front-row seat, being on a college campus. I'm pretty cut off from young people.
Oryoki, the 6" heels are usually attached to a platform shoe- think KISS (the band), or the disco era. So actually, you're looking at 3-4" heel, but you're 6" taller. That would make me 6'2" tall...
Jeanette, thank you for starting the discussion! This is the first time I've really responded to one, but it fit right in with my ponderings. And yes, vacuums are rare, and I could be off base, but I keep remembering snarky men who said, to my face, "Well, you wanted equality" with a sneer on their face.
I read a wonderful review on amazon about the book scarlett recommended:
Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. Its quite interesting... It isn't about rebellious women taking their sexuality into their own hands and coming back at men with it. It's about this cultural phenomena we're talking about now, how women use and objectify themselves and other women. To what end? How it may have happened? I have my own ideas on this I've been thinking about for years...

Our culture reacted to the feminist movement in some positive ways EXCEPT when it came to sexuality. We stopped there and I'm going to guess this was because the sex act requires men to be aroused.

We never addressed that, moved into that or played with it for very long, how men respond to women within that new feminist context - wanting to enjoy sex too while wanting to be equals with an equal say in our shared lives.

But real relationships can be a scary place. We want what we want or need while still being desired by the men in our lives. And on the other side of the coin, men want the same thing.

So after the initial rise of feminism, when we were working on the nuts and bolts of trying to integrate equality and that kind of thinking into our lives, something happened.

I think it was a perversion, because collectively many of us allowed that either consciously or not, Penthouse and Playboy and Hustler, the glossy magazines going more raw - that thinking could be used by women to express a new sexuality, a new freedom.

We took spread shots and lingerie and objectified body parts and said, "I can do that". So we oversexualized ourselves, even objectified ourselves, allowing our sexuality to be defined by the men who published skin magazines and by extension, pornography. We disempowered ourselves in that respect, thinking we were doing the opposite.

I think that explains little girls wearing tight pink short shorts with "PINK" written in rhinestones on their butts. Who's buying that for them?
Ladies, this is fantastic. I'm loving this discussion. THANK YOU JEANETTE, Phyllis, Amy, et al.

As you can see, right or wrong, I've been observing and thinking about this for years, as obviously you all have. It's our lives and it's gone a little kablooey, this aspect of it, hasn't it?
" We stopped there and I'm going to guess this was because the sex act requires men to be aroused. "

Speak for yourself, hon. There ain't no aroused men ANYWHERE near the sex acts at our house! :D

(although I'm pretty sure both my kids are gonna be flaming, bull heteros so that may change in a few years!)
I have to read the Silly Simian and Jeanette de Main's posts yet, but I just wanted to say, sexy shoes aka (Mom's stilts--the Imps, aka Hooker-shoes---Celtic Sif/The World Traveler, aka Come to bed-NOW shoes--FOTI) are my particular weakness. Sarah, you can wear 6 inch heels, just make sure the platform is a wedge and you won't have to be running anywhere on that day.

Will give this some more thought and post something sensible later.
"Perhaps the total revelation of the female form, though fully clothed, is a nose thumb at the powers that repress."

I'm all for it, but it seems kind of self-defeating, no? Assuming men (and likely, straight men, yes?) are the powers that repress...is that really any sort of punishment?

Presumably, repressive men who care about this sort of stuff have an eyeful, make a sly remark, go home and repress their women some more?
I don't know. Maybe I'm not looking at the big picture. I'm going to think about this some more and come back. Too many beers at breakfast. This is a great post by the way; rated.
Monkey & Icy, I think it goes back to the sticks & stones thing. Let's say that men are trying to objectify and repress using fashion. Does that mean that's what we have to feel? How about free and powerful? How about taking what men want to use to punish and saying thanks. Those girls in the magazine get big bucks for being in them. And female strippers are selling a service demanded by men- they should be like the male strippers and own it. No more apologizing.

And women need to get off of each others backs. A little more golden rule would go a long way.

V, can't wait to read your post.

Amy, I'm sure your daughters are going to pick boys who know women are people, too. If that's the way things turn out.
a fine premise and a nicely written piece (AND you showed me a time when whom is needed), but if there are no jeans available for girls that rise higher than mid-crotch, its not really a choice, then, really. and if the ONLY really pretty undies are thongs, there went some more choice. i guess thats how i see it. when i was in school, there were hiphuggers, tho not so many. you had bellbottoms, elephant legs, hiphuggers, painter's pants, overalls, plain old levi's - you had a lot of choice for HOW to cover your ass, and how much of it. and we had SERIOUSLY pretty undies, that did not need to reside in our ass cracks. now, for the younger girls, not so much. i dont really feel its a choice when they can go to ten stores and look at 20 catalogues, and their only choice is between low-rise and super low-rise. and as much as i try, i cant see objectifying ourselves as a way of taking some power.

however, there is every chance i have become a prude! thanks for making me think this morning, phyllis - tho i really need to be tidying! dangdamn, now i am behind!
Daisy, we shop at different stores. Granted, you can only buy what's available, but go look for what you want. Learn how to make it if you can't find it. I always managed to cover my ass during the low rise phase. It all goes back to judging. So what if the jeans that cover your ass are called Mom jeans. Who came up with that name, anyway? It's a label. Period. Demand something and it will show up on the shelves. Mom jeans in a size 2 are pretty stylish. It's the big butt & the small pocket that throws it out of proportion.
I may have lost you with the Mom jeans. The point is, demand something different.

And why is it objectifying, anyway? If you do it on purpose, if you own it as you, then it is the other person's issue, not yours. But if people quit buying low rise jeans and thongs, you wouldn't be able to find them anywhere.
Female sexuality and fashion have been part of the mix forever... but to tell the truth since I got out of high school, I've never paid it much mind. My wife was and is an attractive woman, but what impressed me most about her was her library.
As a sub teacher I have to pretend I don't notice stuff, but... Even in middle school the girls dress provocatively and the administration does nothing about it. Sheesh, I'm afraid of what elementary school might reveal. Gotta blame the parents and TV and the movies. Kids will do what kids do.
Jmac, your wife is lucky to have you. It's nice when a mind is recognized as more important than the body.

Chicken, which goes back to my friend's daughter. She doesn't see it as sexual and she gets defensive when others do, which makes it my issue if it bugs me. We really need to get to a point where they're just clothes. Once upon a time, showing an ankle meant you were an immoral woman.
Good piece , Phyllis. As always.
Sexuality? Kinda like anything…moderation is best…it can be fine and lovely and pleasing to be a young woman (or man) delighting in her (his) body, feeling the strength of the core, the place ‘down there’, and also the pleasure of the periphery…the curves, the hair, the immense sensitivity of the skin…

Dh Lawrence: “Man wants his physical fulfillment first and foremost, since now, once and once only, he is in the flesh and potent. For man, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive. Whatever the unborn and the dead may know, they cannot know the beauty, the marvel of being alive in the flesh. “

All well and good, even noble.

For god’s sake, artists draw nudes! It is a damn prerequisite to look upon naked human flesh and find beauty there, and record it…

These gals today? The ones doing the flaunting? Young gals, following cultural imperatives..look good…or…no respect for you…

Women are certainly repressed and there is a “war” against them from the “other “ side. The side that would love to see young American girls in whatever goshdamned equivalent of what our fierce enemies (ha) got going: put em in boring sacks. Of black.

Hide and seek. That is the ploy of the Advertisers. It is a kind of trickle down (!) thing: young gals see this nonsense and , no dummies they, get the message: sell it…don’t give it away…the economics of sex.

Then there is the yearning Heart of the adolescent…terribly confused with the natural yearning flesh… for what is a man, or a woman, except a physical creature, and who rules the physical realm, who has the money, the respect, but the physically beautiful?

This is materialism. Philosophical AND economic.
No soul no more, sorry. Just body.

My God, these folks don't know how to love — that's why they love so easily.
 Letter to Blanche Jennings, May 8, 1909, T
Dh again…


Look, I am a full blooded guy and I love to see the feminine form glorying in itself, free of pathological nonsense such as the stuff I have alluded to , above. And I know for sure that ladies like to feel smell and see a fine figure of a gentleman..but…we are simultaneously stimulated and made to feel bad that we ARE stimulated: this is the genius of materialistic reality…

And it will never end. It is going to extremes today.

Glad to hear the youngsters have figured out : hold back, reveal less…….
I look at the fashions for high,high heels and wonder because I see these women hobbling along. Is itworth it to be in style when I remember so clearly women in NY kicking off their shoes to run for their lives on 9/11.
James, "No soul no more, sorry. Just body."

I'm afraid that's the goal of some people. Did you read torrito's post today? Margaret Feike had it right. To paraphrase, I hope man isn't made in God's image because with the way people are behaving today, that would be very scary.

I'm hoping that the girls growing up today are learning to own sexuality and to make all of this as commonplace as blue jeans.

ccdarling, it does make one think, doesn't it. At least those shoes are kick-offable. These 6" wedges are tied on tight.
As a small woman, I find my fashion choices are unlimited. I have no trouble finding jeans with a mid-rise (that aren't too matronly or too junior department) and tops that are fashion forward but don't expose too much of my meager bosom. But I see a lot of larger women struggling with the lack of options -- seems like their choices aren't what I'd call choices. And for young women of a larger size, the junior department's cheap fabrics and skimpy cuts sized up do them no justice, and it's not like they can find those same trends in the women's department. It must be really really difficult.

I try not to judge girls and women who dress "badly" and look to admire those who wear things I find appealing, especially those women who can carry off looks I could NEVER (and would never) carry off! I wouldn't wear a tank top, cuffed boyfriend jeans, high heels and a shaved head, but I saw a woman last week who rocked it. For some women fashion is artistic expression, and talent is talent. I make a point of complimenting someone when I like their outfit.

With my daughter (now 22), she's trending toward vintage looks, which are naturally modest with a modern twist -- a high-necked chiffon blouse with short-shorts and ballet flats, or an athletic-cut top in a bright print paired with a circle skirt. Much better than some of the choices she made in her younger years. I make sure to compliment her when she's wearing something I think is flattering, and if I do criticize an outfit I make sure it's about the proportion being off, or the cut or the color -- NOT her body. She does the same for me. We don't always agree, but it's nice to have someone I can trust to evaluate my wardrobe choices. I even enjoy, "Mom! No!"