What Women Wear

15 06 2010

Or, Freedom and Dress,
Is what we choose to wear really a free uninfluenced choice?

I think that in a man’s world, women are wearing what men want them to wear. Wether it be by blunt force or by more subtile social prodding, if a society is wholly geared towards What Men Want then women will have to conform. And let’s be honest, except one or two forgotten pockets the whole planet is ruled by men and geared towards their desires.
And what apparently most men want all over the planet is sexual access and/or total control over women. Both these preferences are written in the holy books of major religions and can be observed in women’s outfits.
Now different societies have different ideas as to what constitutes ”modest dress” of course. What is considered perfectly modest in Europe, is considered totally slutty in the Middle East. In a secular open society both dress codes can walk side by side.
The essence of freedom is not what you wear, but the freedom to choose what you wear without being harassed or punished for it.

So you see some women wearing revealing clothes because that gives them an advantage in certain circumstances, and you see on the other scale other women completely covered up because that gives them an advantage.
You see it in the ”power suits” worn by modern business women, needed to be looked at as competent business women. You see some girls wearing skimpy clothes because they are told by the (male-run) media that’s what they should wear to be considered desirable, you see some girls wearing hijab because they are told it makes them more desirable, etc…

So really I don’t think women are fully to ”blame” for dress choices. Our choice of dress, wherever we live on the planet, is never wholly our own choice. We are influenced by the society we live in, by the rejection or approbation of our social circle, by what the media shows us, by what religion and/or religious leaders tell us some God wants, by what our job requires, by the social gathering we attend, and all these things together will have significant effect on what a person will wear.

Really, to some extent we all wear a uniform.
The only thing which seems to present itself is the more restricted a society, the more uniform the dress code, and the harsher the punishment for not adhering.
For example the ”Mao suit”.

It is really a very, very small percentage who really dares and/or has the opportunity, to wear what they themselves like and if it doesn’t conform to what is ”the norm” in their social surroundings they will get serious flak from the people they meet.

And you will notice that people who choose to defy the accepted dress codes of their social group rarely stand alone: they band together in new, smaller groups of fellow deviants.
For example the three Goths in a classroom.

I do not think it’s healthy to use overwhelming force, and draconian punishments to make people conform to a certain dress code, but there are always some forces at work which steer us to the clothes we choose, and the image we want to project.

I really resent forcing people into constricting dress codes. I also reject dress codes which annihilate human personality. But I know that in certain environments on the planet there just isn’t a real choice.
I also reject the use of extortion and scaring people with lies about hell and damnation to blackmail them into wearing whatever preferred dress code. That is just fundamentally wrong. And of course there can be no question of ”free choice” when the subject believes it.

Be that as it may, considering all these facts, nobody can lay full blame at nobodies door about what they choose to wear.
Or not to wear.
So I hope we can stop now with backbiting and calling the populations of whole continents invectives based on malicious fabricated gossip.

We should stop blaming women with a different dress preference altogether and instead put the blame where it belongs, on men!
:mrgreen:

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16 responses

15 06 2010
Personal Failure

The best trick the patriarchy ever pulled off was getting women to tear down other women. You see it all the time, stay at mothers viciously abusing working mothers and working mothers viciously abusing stay at home mothers. Women who dress one way mock the women who dress another. Women who choose to delay sexual activity shun women who choose not to.

We are women, one and all, and we need to support each other in our choices and our lack of choices. We can’t succeed at ending the patriarchy until we stop tearing each other down.

15 06 2010
Aafke-Art

I agree.
It’s a ”divide and rule” tactic. And made all the easier because men have constructed the world in such a fashion that most women are dependent on a man in some way.

16 06 2010
Mezba

I think a woman should be free to wear what she wants but there are of course some standards in society (for example you can’t go around naked). Of course no one should be jailed or whipped for what they wear!

17 06 2010
INAL

Aafke, After seeing what is happening in Iran today- where women united for a Coalition regardless of their points of view just so they can get their point across to the government; I have to say I cried quite a bit watching it…And these women were not talking about hijab- they were talking about how they have been victimized to the point of being considered beasts… And Saudi continues its merry way, wish some of the women you and I know, would sit quietly and watch the film- and then come back to the table for some serious discussion.

17 06 2010
Achelois

What a brilliant, brilliant post! Wonderful.

18 06 2010
Aafke-Art

Mezba, I agree, people should not go around naked. Have you ever seen a nudist camp?
Trust me, it is not a pretty sight!
😈

Inal, there is way too much emphasis on hijab, there are more essential problems to deal with. I haven’t had time yet to watch the documentary you posted on your blog, but I really want to see it!

Achelois, thank you! 🙂

18 06 2010
Tee

There’s some silly Egyptian saying which goes something like: ‘eat what you want, but wear what people want’ and it means just that! Ha! Peoples choice of dress is almost always influenced by one thing or another. If it’s not a company dress code or religious dress code or school dress code then it’s some trend or another. People have also been influenced to wear certain clothing at certain times of day in their own homes! I remember having a weird feeling the first few times I wore jeans to sleep! Haha, of course nothing’s more comfortable than pyjamas but the jeans to bed thing was quite liberating. It’s about doing what you want to do regardless of what people tell you or think of you.
I’ve found complete freedom only at home, if I wear the things I wore at home to some place public, I’d certainly be dragged to a mental institution! Lol!!! Ok, not that bad, but perhaps to a fashion rehab center! 😛
INAL’s comment has gotten me curious, would you please provide the documentary’s name? I cannot access the blog. Thanks!

19 06 2010
Aafke-Art

Inal’s documentary is:
http://www.linktv.org/programs/we-are-half-of-irans-population

Hahahahahaha! jeans in bed!
When I think of myself and what I choose to wear there are several requirements:
They have to be reasonably comfortable, look nice, make me look nice, appropriate to the climate (not so easy to determine in the Netherlands) That includes long sleeves for riding since I burn easily and I hate ”farmer’s arms”. Clothes should preferably look elegant. Colours should match (black, black and black)
And definitely my pleasure in my clothes, Including nice shoes. I love shoes. And large earrings, good make-up, and the right scent.
And last and least, what other people will think of me.
And very last but quite important, what the Q will think of me! 😉
I have even been buying non-black clothes lately…..

26 07 2010
arete

What annoys me the most is those adverts that tell you that you need to buy their makeup, because “you’re worth it.” Oh really? I am worth a damn sight more than your over-priced crap, *thank-you*, and if you ever tried to sell it to me directly I would make you /eat/ it.

There, I have to go cool down somehow. I shall gaze at some wonderful sketches of Arab stallions. Their eyes are so much prettier than mine 🙂

9 09 2010
rochambeau

Thank you! I agree 100% about your last thoughts about the women in black!

Constance
and my mother Lois

9 09 2010
Aafke-Art

rochambeau, welcome to my blog.
The pointy I was trying to get across is that the women in black mostly don’t wear such clothes out of free choice either. As soon as a religion starts to black mail you with the promise of eternal torture in hell the concept of free choice doesn’t arise anymore.

9 09 2010
Intracranial Ground Zero

The Q is the most important of them all! At least when we are speaking in Star Trek terms…..am I beeing nerdy right now? Maybe, but not unlike my personal dress-code: I don´t care =)
And if it comes to the dress-code of a man: we have to conform to dresscodes too. When we were children our mothers chose what to wear. As grown ups we hear our girlfriends and wifes say before we take her out for the movies or meet with friends, etc.: “Are you really going to wear that?” It´s not a demand in itself but like many others ways of female expressions it actually is! Men on their side are very often pretty unconcerned about what their misses wears because we didn´t choose her on a fashion related basis. So where is the power of dress-control really lying?
I have to point out, that this does not include any religous societies and last, this post might not be as serious as the former ones but it might help to weaken the picture of the evil dictatorship of men on questions of clothing 😛

9 09 2010
Aafke-Art

Yes of course.. The Q rules!
*As grown ups we hear our girlfriends and wifes say before we take her out for the movies or meet with friends, etc.: “Are you really going to wear that?” It´s not a demand in itself but like many others ways of female expressions it actually is!*

And it has been so since the very beginning,
Watch this:

PS, I am never completely serious.
or completely joking.

9 09 2010
Intracranial Ground Zero

Yep, that´s EXACTLY what I meant!
I´m glad to have discovered parts of the female communications system, so once in a while, I´m using those indicated messages aka subtext on women and they do not only jump to conclusion, like men do, but they become even more mad at you. That´s another myth about men and women: not only men tend to aggressive behaviour when not knowing a way out. The difference is just the choice of weapons 😉

16 09 2010
Aafke-Art

So if you understand all this you should be able to prevent women getting mad at you!
😈

16 09 2010
Intracranial Ground Zero

I am able to do that but I found out that some women are getting bored by the lack reasons for arguments, so I willfully make some of the “mistakes” men usually do, so we can have one. Fortunately not all women are like this =)

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