A Rant for the Scantily Clad

I get wanting to look sexy. I do. But isn’t there a line? Does anyone else think there’s a line between sexy and naked?

I fear that too few girls and women these days (yup, Imma throw out a “these days”) know where that line is. Either that or they don’t care. Either that or I’m the one that’s confused, and what looks sexy to me is really the equivalent of wearing a floor-length flannel nightgown, and what looks naked to me is prim and proper evening attire.

“But we’re young!”

So being young exempts you from respecting yourself?

“But we’re young and stupid!”

I’ll give you the stupid part. Wait – you made it into one of Canada’s best universities, so you can’t really be stupid.

“But we’re young and stupid and DRUNK!”

Ah. With alcohol involved, nothing matters. Especially your self-respect.

“Well…. we’re horny. So… You know.”

So you’re willing to look like you don’t respect yourself, put all your goodies on display for guys you don’t know, freeze your toes off wading through snow in your heels and bare legs, spend a lot of money on booze and cabs, feel like crap the next day, not to mention doing exactly what every other girl around you is doing, just for a chance at getting rubbed up against by an equally drunk and stupid stranger?

“But everyone–“

–is doing it? Sorry, hon, but that is a very old and clichéd line.

There’s something going on here that has to do with gender stereotypes and patriarchal values and the effect of the media, but without delving into much of the academic stuff, I wanna ask about something along the lines of myth and ideology: doesn’t it make you feel dirty, putting yourself on display like that in exchange for something temporary and meaningless? Don’t you know that you’re the one getting the short end of the stick?

I get wanting to feel sexy, wanting to look sexy.

What I don’t get is wanting to wear less clothes than a prostitute while paying for your own booze, then giving it all away to a random guy, for free.

“But we don’t pay for our drinks – the random guys buy them.”

WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO?! Clearly nothing else matters.

8 thoughts on “A Rant for the Scantily Clad

  1. I really appreciate what you have to say here, but wasn’t there recently a huge protest about how girls should feel free to go around as scantily clad as they like?

    • Yes, the “Slut Walk”. I think that had a lot to do with men calling women “sluts” because they are scantily clad.

      This topic started brewing in my head when I overheard a girl in a class the other day tell her friends how slutty her and other friends had been the night before, and how they planned to outdo themselves that night.

      I don’t want to tell girls they don’t have the choice to dress how they want to – clearly, they do. I’m saying I don’t understand it, and thinking about myself doing stuff like that actually kinda makes my skin crawl. Then it makes me mad that some girls feel they need to do this stuff… for a variety of reasons. I want to put out a different idea: what if you DIDN’T go with the flow… what then?

  2. I’m glad people are talking about this!
    I would argue though, that what you wear is not indicative of your self esteem, at least the way most people see it now. We live in a society that tells that scantly clad women lack self respect. These same people are the ones who use to tell us that bullies also lack self esteem/self respect. Turns out, this is the opposite of the truth. Bullies are found to have an exaggerated sense of self worth. I would argue the same for women baring it all it public. Most women that I know who dress in the way you are describing tend to have high self esteem. It takes a lot of confidence to bare all in a society that tells us that doing so is bad/wrong/dirty/immoral.

    You mentioned “So you’re willing to look like you don’t respect yourself, put all your goodies on display for guys you don’t know…” with references to hooking up. I entirely support a woman’s choice to hook up! I support anything two consenting adults want to do with each other. Sex can be fun, stress relieving, fulfilling and safe. I hope that soon, as a society, we will judge women on their compassion, their intelligence, their sense of humour and not their sex drives.

    Ultimately, what i struggle with is women who dress sexy/engage in sexual behaviours because they feel they have to, and women who do so because they truly want to. Thing is, it is really hard to tell the difference. Unless you ask, and even then you aren’t sure if it is an honest answer. What i have come to, is to stop trying to figure it out. If a woman wants to dance half naked, and hook up with men they don’t know, so be it. And if a woman wants to wait until marriage before having sex, so be it. Women are entitled to these sexual practices and everything in between without ridicule.

    Just my two cents 🙂

    • My problem is not with sex. My problem is with what some girls are willing to give up, or feel they must give up, in exchange.

      I would argue that drunk sex with a stranger might be exciting and enjoyable at the time, but what about later?

      Part of my motivation for talking about this is that I long for the day women don’t feel obliged to show more skin than they are comfortable with, either because of societal norms, peer pressure, or gender stereotypes. I hope to see a day when the first thing you notice about a girl (okay, maybe the second) is her intelligence, her cleverness, her sense of humour, etc.

    • “It takes a lot of confidence to bare all in a society that tells us that doing so is bad/wrong/dirty/immoral.”

      I (respectfully) disagree. I think mass media sends the opposite message: that if women want to be considered sexy, they MUST bare all. Take a look at music videos (clothing may as well be optional for females) and recent clothing trends: the akin-to-underwear short shorts, the mini-dress (not made for people taller than 5’6).

      I do agree that women who bare it all in public have a lot of confidence – or, at least, some of them do. However, I think a lot of women do it to boost their self-confidence and/or self-esteem … like you said, I think it’s difficult to tell the difference.

  3. Well said!
    Would like to share this article with adults and young people alike. Some high school students dress like they are headed out for a night of dancing and drinking…except it’s broad day-light and they are just going to school – HIGH SCHOOL! Administrators attempt to enforce school dress codes with such students and end up contacting parents after multiple offenses. Do you know what parents say? Usual responses include: “well, I bought her that outfit.” or “you can’t find clothes that adhere to your school’s dress code anymore”. FYI: the school is 12 years old – the dress code wasn’t written in 1912! I’m hopeful that 2012 is like the “dirty thirties” era and eventually society will eventually work our way back to the 50s of ultra conservatism. OK, maybe not “ultra”, but as you said, hopefully we will come to a point wherein women do not feel obligated to show such an obscene amount of skin.

    • Amy, please feel free to share this with whomever.

      It is interesting to note that, while there is a contingent of females freezing their buns off in less-than-adequate clothing, the trend toward lady-like is here! Midi-length skirts and pretty blouses cover a lot… But most modern girls wouldn’t be likely to wear that to high school, I can’t imagine.

  4. I think its also part of growing up and discovering yourself. Maybe some woman need the mini skirt and 6″ stilettos to feel sexy and confidant. Maybe they won’t when they get to their 30’s but as they are coming into their experimental age it’s their time to play. To figure out who and what they are. Honestly you can only get away with the” young,stupid and drunk ” behaviour for so long before it gets old and tired.

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