“I believe in a relation between theory and practice. If I’m wearing a miniskirt and stilettos – I’d to ask just who I’m wearing these for.” - Womansspace
“First off, in MY mini-skirt wearing days, I mostly wore them to the gay bar. I really enjoyed flirting it up with other women in my ubber-girlie attire. I also relished the thought of being an object of desire for those women. FOR WOMEN ONLY, that is. However, if I would’ve been at a straight venue, it makes no difference. Desire is desire” – Sally Sunshine
“Why must we involve sex in bringing about a meaningful poltical revolution? What is “sexy” about that.” - Womansspace
“I’ve never wanted to be anyone’s object of desire. To be honest, it’s not fun when men gaze and it’s not more fun when women do it." – Womansspace
I’m really intrigued by the subthreads that have emerged in the comments section of Friday’s post. I think the first question is an excellent one, one that we as feminists should always be asking ourselves, not because we have to vigilant about meeting any particular feminist standards but because it can be helpful in recognizing patterns of behavior that are harmful as well as those that are helpful.
Tangent: In my freshman year of college, my Woman’s Studies professor asked us “Who benefits?” And in a sudden flash of realization, I wrote it in all caps in my journal – “WHO BENEFITS?” – and marched straight back to my room and broke up with my asshole boyfriend, who wasn’t really my boyfriend (which is part of why he was an asshole, because he was playing a weird head game with me and some other women. His newest acquisition came up to me later that semester and demanded to know why I hadn’t told her “what a scoundrel he is?!”, which I should have done, only I hadn’t realized at the time that she was a person of substance.).
So – what does a meaningful political revolution have to do with sex? Whom do we wear “sexy” clothes for? Is it ever ok to be the object of desire? Does it make any difference who’s looking? And who benefits?
I have certainly depended overly much on the affirmation of others in order to feel good about myself. I don’t see that as a good thing. But at the same time, I think there is such a thing as a gaze of admiration. I don't think that being looked at and appreciated is synonymous with being objectified and disrespected. I *think* that I can mostly tell the difference. There are looks and then there are looks.
But it can be scary to be the object of that gaze, whether or not it's a respectful gaze. It means that others will approach you. They will tell you that they are attracted to you. You will have to deal with this. They won't always hear your deflections because they are entitled or arrogant or socially awkward or persistent or inexperienced in dating or whatever. This will happen whether the other person is male or female, and whether *you* are male or female.
Having to deal with someone you need to say "no" to can feel like a burden, and I've seen feminists, in their annoyance and discomfort at having to speak the "no," refuse to do it and then get angry at the other person for not taking a hint. And then feel indignant at having been oppresed. (I'm not talking about stalking or harassment here.)
It can also be scary because a woman in a miniskirt and heels looks, to many men, like a woman who wants to be fucked - like a woman who is available to men. Whether or not she actually does is irrelevant. And it is this that upsets radical feminists - this knowingly playing with clothing that is designed to stimulate and to convey sexual messages (though, I'd argue, while this may have been the intent of the designs, they function differently these days).
And I think that all of this is wrapped up in the feminist debate about clothing and desire.
What do you think?