Don’t wear a tux to a funeral (and other ridiculous requests from a woman of little self-control)

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how women are supposed to dress modestly – probably because I’ve been reading a lot about how stupid it is (and occasionally on how we’re all dressed like sluts when we wear bikinis on Copley Lawn, but whatever).

The Sexist (…yes, I am sorry, I love that blog) posted a link to this article this morning, and I really enjoyed reading Hugo Schwyzer’s letter to a sixteen year girl about how to dress to get creepy old men to stop leering at her.

The conclusion, of course, is that it’s not her fault that men are whistling at her: it’s the fault of the men who are whistling:

You may have heard people say things like “girls who wear short skirts are asking for ‘it’”. By “it” they may mean anything from rape to crude comments and penetrating stares. But as you may already have noticed, girls aren’t immune from harassment when they’re wearing simple or “modest” garb either. I’ve had plenty of students who’ve been accosted while wearing sweatpants or long dresses. I’ve had Muslim students who chose to wear head coverings, and they’ve been harassed both religiously and sexually. The bottom line is that there’s nothing you can wear that will guarantee respect from others.

But there are still some who think that, because I am wearing a short skirt, I want you to whistle at me, and I deserve it when you do. Apparently, we’re just distracting, we ladies, and we love it.

I’ve noticed, though, that as a straight woman, I’m much more likely to be distracted by men than I am by women. Yet there are so few dress codes for men! I’ve decided to draw up a few, just to even out the double standard. I mean, it’s really not fair that women with so little self-control (like me) are forced to endure in these situations when men with no self-control are given relief and able to continue their work. The following are some situations in which a dress code really would have help me focus better. Suggestions after the break.

  1. Don’t wear bright white t-shirts that are probably half a size too small. They contrast with your skin, and your muscles just kind of bulge out. Women might stare at your torso, and that will really make you feel ashamed.
  2. Men should not wear tuxes to weddings, funerals, etc. We’re supposed to focus on the couple getting married at a wedding – but all men look better in tuxes, so women are going to have a lot of trouble keeping their eyes on the bride and groom. Similarly, funerals are not a time for attracting us weak women. Do not provide distractions!
  3. I know you had a school dress code, but consistently wearing shirts that bring out your eyes probably distracted your female teachers (because it sure as hell distracts me). Please wear something that plays down how cute you are.

Some of these probably strike you as a little silly. That’s because they’re fucking ridiculous. Sure, I would be a lot less distracted if boys never wore tight white t-shirts, tuxes, or  anything that matches their eyes. But these are ridiculous requests. Just like, you know, what some people are asking of women. Don’t wear skits that are too short. Don’t show your belly button. Don’t let a bra strap sneak out – especially if you have big breasts, you don’t want people to know you’re wearing one of those and then think about your boobs!

Seriously, who came up with this crap? If a guy is wearing a tight shirt, and I can’t focus, that’s not his fault, that’s mine – and I can make the decision to not think about it. Same goes for whatever I’m wearing – if he can’t focus on something else, that’s his problem. Not mine.

    • Pounding Sand
    • May 4th, 2010

    Absolutely right, but then most guys are thrilled to be stared at by, and be a distraction to, women. Thus the tees and tuxes. Unsolicited sexual interest, up close and at a distance, is fullfilling for many men. Hell, if they could get away with it, or thought any women would be interested, half the guys I know would wander around with their dicks hanging out. And that would be fucking ridiculous too!

    • Rocio
    • May 5th, 2010

    OMG I love your blog! I’m a regular reader of The Sexist and Feministing. I’m also a junior at Gtown currently studying abroad.

    So happy to find a well-written insightful feminist blog from a fellow student at Georgetown!

    I remember the looks of shock when I told my hallmates the first few weeks of college that I was a feminist.

    I found your blog after reading Hugo’s post and loving it.

    I know that seeing bros in pink polo shirts and slacks distracts me (not in a good way) but I don’t think they’d appreciate it if I yelled out that them “you look lame!” every time I saw them.

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