beige_alert: (kilt)
[personal profile] beige_alert
There are plenty of recent examples (the president's daughters come to mind) but surely eleventy-billion further examples come readily to mind of women being harshly criticized for dressing wrong or being slut-shamed or blamed as 'asking for it' on the basis of whatever they were wearing. Men, on the other hand, not so much. I've always been aware of that but lately I've been exploring, well, either deliberately attracting attention to myself or just generally dressing not-entirely-conventionally in public, and that well and truly pounds home the double standard.

Generally, the women being criticized for dressing wrong are not showing up to the quarterly staff meeting at the office wearing a thong and no top.  Not at all.  We live in this culture, we know what's considered basically normal, if you have working vision you've looked around and know what is well within the range of average.  They're being told they're asking for it because they showed up at a party wearing a just-above-the-knee skirt and a top that shows a bit of the space between the breasts and they did something fancy with their hair.  Like all the other women at the party.  They're wearing a skirt and leggings and two layers on top and moderately fancy shoes.  They are well, well, *WELL* within the usual range of usual.  They're getting stuff shouted at them while wearing blue jeans and a turtleneck.  Putting a lot of care into looking "normal" and by any sort of rational comparison to the average succeeding at looking "normal" by no means prevents angry abuse.

Me?  Oh, I can wear paisley leggings (oh, and with no pockets, also a bag slung over one shoulder, and yes, that's a purse, though it's black and yellow recycled plastic from "Mountainsmith" and all properly masculine-hiking-gear-looking)  to the coffee shop like literally no other obvious-boy-person-with-a-beard this week or probably this decade and not one single person says one single word.  The only way people say stuff to me is if I wear a kilt.  Seriously, how close to the average man's outfit is a boy-skirt?  It is not close at all.  It is very very far outside the range of normal dude clothing.  And people don't slut-shame me, rather, some women can't resist making jokes about whether or not I'm wearing underwear, and while that's actually sort of uncomfortable, it's not the same thing.  Apparently someone who looks like me can dress like roughly 0.01% of the people who look like me without a big problem but if you look like a woman just because you're dressed like 20% of the other women doesn't mean you are safe.

Fellow men: Think about that.

Date: 2014-12-06 07:53 am (UTC)
ext_16275: (Default)
From: [identity profile] legoline.livejournal.com
THANK YOU for this. Thank you thank you.

*hugs*

Date: 2014-12-06 10:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tattercoats.livejournal.com
*Stands on a chair and applauds*

Yes, yes, and yes!

Date: 2014-12-06 02:06 pm (UTC)
madfilkentist: Photo of Carl (Default)
From: [personal profile] madfilkentist
Your experience could be a matter of comparing dissimilar cultural groups. What we hear about in the news can be very different from how people in our own circles will act.

I'm thinking now of the guy who wore a shirt with scantily-clad women with guns on TV. I'd call that a really poor choice of attire for the occasion, but the reaction, driving him to a tear-filled apology in order to save his job, was far out of proportion. The shirt got higher billing than the comet docking itself on some news sites.

Awareness of either problem isn't an excuse to trivialize the other. They're different in kind, not just degree. The comments by men to women which you've alluded to tend to be furtive. The case with Obama's daughters was atypical; the Imperial presidency has made presidents and their families into lightning rods. The remark, even though it was made by an obscure aide, got a lot of well-deserved pushback. The remarks about the shirt were public righteous fury, and the people spearheading the campaign would doubtless claim I'm "sexist" for disagreeing with them.

We can wish that people were less obsessed with what other people wear. We can talk about it and set an example. Even so, people will get very weird about the subject.

Date: 2014-12-06 02:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robin-june.livejournal.com
The newscoverage of the shirt brouhaha that I heard on NPR was that his tearful reaction was not to the women scientists who remarked that it was inappropriate. It was to the hate mail and rape- and death-threats that the women received for their comments, à la Gamergate.

Date: 2014-12-06 03:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beige-alert.livejournal.com
I'm continually amazed (though I shouldn't be) at the obsession with the tearfulness of the apology. When I saw the video, my feeling was that he was apologizing for real, rather than the usual non-pology of saying we're sorry that any oversensitive losers were offended by our awesomeness, and that this was fine. It was immediately followed by the defenders of machismo being very angry, apparently by the notion of a man anywhere apologizing to a bunch of women, and worse yet, looking sincere about it. The only emotion men are prepared to allow other men to show is raging anger, so if he teared up presumably it can only be because something very terrible was done to him to overcome his normal man-mode of anger and drive him all the way to looking like he might have some other emotions. I have no special insight into what went on inside his head, but I am prepared to believe that anyone could actually be sorry for something they did.

Date: 2014-12-06 03:47 pm (UTC)
ext_16275: (Default)
From: [identity profile] legoline.livejournal.com
*applauds*

Date: 2014-12-07 12:34 pm (UTC)
madfilkentist: Photo of Carl (spock)
From: [personal profile] madfilkentist
Is it "obsession" and "defending machismo" to be concerned when someone is driven to tears in public? When someone who isn't a public figure makes a brief TV appearance and finds himself, or herself, the target of a media campaign, that can be too much for some people to take. If Obama's daughters were driven to tears by the stuff that happened about them, would you say that mere shows they can really be sorry about what they wore?

Tears are not an admission of guilt. The idea that they are can only reinforce the idea that raging anger is the only safe emotion to display. If any women were the target of a similar campaign and broke down in public, would you take that as an indication that she sincerely regretted what she did, rather than that she couldn't deal with the way she was being insulted?

Women's clothing must not be a target of shaming campaigns. With men it's fine, and if it drives them to tears, they've admitted their guilt. I believe we were talking about double standards?

Date: 2014-12-07 09:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beige-alert.livejournal.com
Maybe one's interpretation of the emotion that was visible depends on whether you assume it was a reaction to him thinking that maybe wearing the pictures-of-women-shirt to work wasn't really such a good idea after all, or him thinking that those bad people out there made him say this. True enough that I have no way of knowing which.

Date: 2014-12-15 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] almeda.livejournal.com
He was crying about the death and rape threats his (measured) critics got, not because the women bullied him into tears.

Kilts and the underwear meme

Date: 2014-12-06 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robin-june.livejournal.com
I've listened to Mike Cross's "The Scotsman" since it was written in 1979, and I've performed it since I bought the sheet music book in 1987. So, I can't say if the song echoed & amplified the meme, or began it. (Before that time, I was young enough to be oblivious to some sexual innuendo.)

Re: Kilts and the underwear meme

Date: 2014-12-06 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beige-alert.livejournal.com
I don't really know anything about where it came from, either, but it's very much a stock joke now. I do wonder a bit about what process is at work with it. I imagine there is some component of gander-sauce, dishing out to a man the sort of thing women get all the time. I don't think that's most of it, though. Probably much more is just that everyone, men and women and everyone else besides, live in the culture and are surrounded by this sort of teasing and so when the setup for the stock joke arrives, out come the words without anyone necessarily thinking too hard about whether it's actually funny. Because social animals do what the society expects. I try to think before I speak but I know I fail plenty often. (And innuendo is plenty fun in proper consensual context, too.)

Date: 2014-12-06 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] randomdreams.livejournal.com
I think the clothing is just an excuse for reinforcing cultural power dynamics, and if they dressed perfectly they'd be criticized for something else. There are a lot of people who are invested, consciously or otherwise, in maintaining a power structure where they can feel like they're above other people.

Date: 2014-12-06 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beige-alert.livejournal.com
All about the power. That the clothing being criticized is usually as typical as typical can be gives that away. The surprisingly rare cases of men shouting things at me out of the windows of passing cars are the same thing at work, not at all some sort of mirror-image. Reminding me that my status as being regarded as a fully-human man can always be called into doubt if I fall to perform my masculinity to their satisfaction.

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