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February 25, 2005

Comments

Percy

This area is difficult for me to comment on because I'm a prude. I've always been very aware of my body type and have stayed away from provocative or revealing clothing. I never wear low necklines at formal events because I'm so uncomfortable. I know this is not typical, most women aren't shy, if you've got it, flaunt it, so the saying goes. But I'm not offended by the clothing I see other women wearing, although I'm astounded sometimes. Don't they get cold?? Isn't it uncomfortable to have everyone staring at you??__ I think the rule is that you should always wear what is appropriate for you body type given the occassion. You should never, ever draw attention to yourself by wearing inappropriate clothing, it is in very poor taste. But I can see how some women might take offence to society dictating how they should dress.__How do we know she left the event furious if we weren't present???? I think it would be interesting to ask the lady why she was furious?...After all it was a very important event.

Percy

Male weakness is a myth, you are absolutely right! Males are perfectly capable of controling themselves, the problem is they don't want to. Self control is only possible if that's what you want to do. Most men have no interest what so ever in controlling themselves, actually the opposite is true. They go out of their way to feed their urges whenever they can.

Thomas

This is all fair enough, but I don't see why women should be allowed to wear sexually provocative clothing and makeup in most workplaces. The aim is to work, not to sexually arrouse men when they are trying to get on with their work.

Tripp

"sexually provocative"

This is an interesting phrase. It suggests an intention. But whose intention?

I find swimsuits sexually provocative, but that is hardly why the Olympic women dress the way they do. I think that we have to admit that there are always two sides to these coins.

I think a woman is sexually provocative most any day...most any dress. That is my problem. I just like girls. Heh. But, as logs to splinters, dare I judge another's intention?

Hugo Schwyzer

You've missed my point, Thomas. Though I agree that we should all dress appropriately for any given occasion, if we are distracted the fault lies with us, not with the woman who is the object of our gaze. Yes, it's a challenge -- but we cannot use women's desirability as an excuse for our own inability to pay attention.

We must find a way as men to escape the mindset that revealing clothes mean we must look. This is a problem that men and women can both work on. Women can gently and lovingly try and encourage their sisters to dress appropriately; men can call their brothers to accountability. But it's not our job as men to demand a dress code from women; it's our job to do everything we can to see them as complete human beings.

The Taliban represented the logical extension of a lack of male self-control. To them, women's bodies were so tempting, and men so fundamentally weak, that women had to be in burkas for men to function. I reject that stance entirely on moral, psychological, and spiritual grounds.

We are far more than we imagine ourselves to be, Thomas, far more. And the woman next to us is entitled to have her voice heard be she in a miniskirt or a mumu.

kelly

I imagine it wasn't just the men of the congregation distracted by Marie's boobs. I too would be captivated, not in a sexual way, but if they are there, pointing at you, without shame, then it's really hard NOT to stare. Boobies are rather fascinating...

Personally, i'm mortified when I notice that my nipples are showing. My boobs get stared at enough as it is without them standing up and saying hello. But if Marie doesn't mind those stares, then bully for her, she should let them sway and perk with abandon. However, I would say that Marie is a bit naiieve if she believes that the sight of her unrestrained breasts would not titillate (pun intended) some people and offend others. Like you Hugo I was taught that manners meant making people around you feel as comfortable as possible. Marie's boobs make her no less qualified to lead worship and I agree with her that Jesus loves her the way she is but in my opinion as a member of polite society Marie's bouncing boobies are just bad manners. Wasn't it Paul that said "If eating meat offends your brother then don't eat meat"? Plus one should have the ability to edit one's behaviour when one is in a place where such behaviour is considered inappropriate. When in Rome...(or in Baghdad, or in Jerusalem or in an mid-western evagelical church).

Hugo Schwyzer

Tripp, absolutely. It doesn't matter whether she's "dressing to impress" or simply unaware. We have to see her as a complete human being regardless of her intent.

Percy

Thomas,
Make-up!! You find make-up sexually arousing!! I can see clothing that might possibly be too erotic for the work place, but I can't see make-up as erotic.

I definitely think that women need to be aware of what they wear and where they wear it. Maybe the woman/women you are referring to are not aware of the fact that you are being aroused by their clothing. But it sounds like you want women to wear no make-up and baggy clothes, this is outrageous!! I wear make-up all the time, even to go to the market. Otherwise I might scare people....You can't expect women to keep from trying to look their best. And I don't wear baggy clothing unless I'm going to bed.

MetaMetaX

To Hugo - "Breasts in church. Well, I'm both male and weak, and if I get distracted by them, I get distracted by them, but that would be something I would want to clearly mark under the category of "my own damn problem." Men need to have the kindness to assume that women who dress in seemingly "provocative" ways are not doing so to provoke and are not inviting stares, objectification or admonishment."

Okay, so we'll put forty provactively dressed women in the room, 10 of them are dressed provacatively TO invite stares, onjectification, and admonishment. 30 women are not. For $5 you can see there forty women and guess which of the ten are there to provoke attention, and which 30 are not. If you get 6 out of the 10, I'll pay you $50. Any takers?

My point is, because SOME women do dress provacatively to attract attention, they've basically ruined it for those who would dress that way but don't want attention. A woman who both dresses provacatively and gets mad when people stare is like the 6'4" muscular Black man who walks alone at night and notices that people consistently cross the street to avoid walking past him. *HE* might be the greatest and most noble guy on the planet, but he *LOOKS* like one of those street thugs that we've all been warned about. Besides, on the scale of things you would *NOT* want to experience, what does this man's (and the woman's in this story) rate? Like a 0.45 on a 0 to 10 scale? Color me unsympathetic.

To Hugo - "But I know from my own experience and the experience of men I admire that it is quite possible to remain focused and mindful even in the presence of what might be considered am attractive, provocatively dressed woman."

Sure it's possible. But seriously, how many men do you know who perform your "noble" behavior? Assign your answer the variable, X. Now how many men do you know who actively perform the opposite, "non-noble" behavior? Assign this answer the variable, Y. So the odds of a woman dressing provacatively in a setting with, say 500 men in the audience, and NOT being ogled at is. 1 over (500 * x divided by (x+y)). Or, miniscule.

Thus, a woman who tries to pull off such a stunt, and fails, AND gets annoyed by her failure...makes me shrug the shoulders. Color me unsympathetic.

Let me also ask this. You want to design a nation. You prioritize certain conditions that must be met in order for your nation to be a happy place. You use a 0 to 10 scale. The condition labelled, "A place where a woman can dress in a way many people find provacative, but not get called on it." - I can't see that being above 0.45 on that scale. I know what you're saying, but really it's not important.

You add, "Marie was offering the people an opportunity to challenge themselves."

No, she walked in to a community of faith. Faith is based on everyone doing the same thing in order to achieve a very limited and narrow set of objectives. In the history of the universe, the one thing that has proved most deadly to faiths of all kinds is unrestricted female sexuality. This is why all, or nearly all, faiths have some sort of modesty included in their proscriptions. So this woman walks in to a community of faith, as an outsider, brandishing the one weapon that has consistently destroyed all types of faith throughout history, then she has the nerve to become furious when the people of faith call her out on their actions. At this point, I'm both unsympathetic and unamused.

You add, " As a man I am infuriated by that all-too-common reasoning. It assumes that my biology will always trump my faith, my will, and the grace of God."

Faith isn't personal, Hugo. It's collective. The Bible says "The Just will live by faith." The Just isn't one person...it's a group of people. And living by faith implies following a strict set of guidelines in order to produce a narrow set of objectives. Faith isn't lived through everyone doing what they want...it's a group effort, a group pull. And one person in a faith community is necessarily and by definition - less important than the spiritual health of the collective.

To Percy - "Male weakness is a myth, you are absolutely right! Males are perfectly capable of controling themselves, the problem is they don't want to." So if something happens 90% of the time, it's *NOT* a solid probability, nor a likely occurance, nor an objective truth - it's just a *MYTH*? Other than the fact that you don't like that it happens 90% of the time, on what basis do you call it a myth?

Or consider this. Even if you are right in calling it a myth, what is accomplished through telling men to control themselves in this setting? Oh I know that some random woman will get to be the center of attention based on *NOTHING* she's contributed to the faith other than the shirt she's wearing, and she'll feel a great glow of pride that she "challenged everyone else to be 'better' people." But what do the *MEN* who have to work their asses off to learn a new behavior get from having learned it?

Nothing? Oh come on MMX, be objective and look at the situation!! An additional member of the faith - one who has shown from the beginning that she cares more about her personal rights than she does for the health of everyone in the faith. That's less than nothing.

So don't be surprised when you offer someone lesss than nothing to do something really damned difficult, that you don't get the results you hoped for. Because if you do, I'll say you're as dimwitted as the woman you're defending! ;)

MetaMetaX

To Hugo - "We have to see her as a complete human being regardless of her intent."

Again - WHY!?!? Call X the number of people you've known who are complete human beings. Call Y the number of people you've known, period. Call X over (X+Y) the odds of a random person on the street being a complete human being. Then answer the question WHY do we have to respect a random person on the street as a complete human being regardless of their intent.

MetaMetaX

To Percy - "Maybe the woman/women you are referring to are not aware of the fact that you are being aroused by their clothing."

Alright, so it so happens that 90% of men are aroused by breasts popping out at them, but it's possible that she's not aware of the effects her clothing has on others. The only way your possibility is true is if she's dumb. And I hate it when women play dumb...

Percy

MetaMetaX,
I am seriously offended by your opinion of women and human beings in general. I think that we are all worthy of respect.
Male weakness is a myth because males are NOT weak!! Get it!! It's just a ploy to justify promiscuity.

jenell

There may be contexts (like her everyday world) in which Marie's breasts are no big deal. She may not intend to be provocative, and in some settings, she won't be.

In this worship setting, however, she just IS provocative, regardless of her intent. The men and women looking at her need to consider their motives and perspectives, but she does, too.

There are times when I will be intentionally provocative, even with dress (women wearing tennis shoes/jeans at my college are not very numerous, and I refuse to buy dry-clean clothes when male profs go around in jeans and sports sweatshirts). I am intentional about it, and even process it with my students at times. For me, the way I dress at work is a matter of gender equity, and just doing it raises the question for students in ways that I think are important. But I would not do the same with my sexuality - for the sake of teaching, or for my own freedom, or to change my work community.

Hugo Schwyzer

I'll only respond to one of these, Meta.

"answer the question WHY do we have to respect a random person on the street as a complete human being regardless of their intent."

Because as a Christian, I believe that every single person carries the image of the living God within them. Human life reflects the Creator, and how we treat each other is a reflection of how we feel about Him. When I objectify my sister, I turn my back on Christ.

Peace, my brother.

Tony Vila

"The point of manners is to make people comfortable."

Hugo Schwyzer

I love how I post about male responsibility, and most of the comments end up turning back to judging women's decision-making. Focus, people, focus.

MetaMetaX

To Percy - It's not an opinion!! The following three things *ARE* true.

1. That 90% of men have not yet learned not to ogle after provacatively dressed women.

2. That 90% of those 90% of men will find it very difficult to unlearn their staring habits.

And lastly, 3. That offering such people no valuable incentive for changing their ways means they'll remain set in their ways.

Because of items 1, 2, and 3 - my opinion is that anyone who expects items 1, 2, and 3 *NOT* to happen is like someone playing poker who calls with only 1.5% chance to win, and then whines when he loses. While I'm not hostile in my suggestion that such behavior is stupid, I do stand in my assertion that it is...well rather dumb.

shannon

MMX- Racism is the racist's problem. Also I can not anticipate what weird sexual ideas every single man in the universe may have. A man may have a fetish for shoes or what a girl's bum looks like in a lovely pair of jeans. That's his own buisiness.

MetaMetaX

To Hugo - I admire your answer. It comes from someone who obviously has a strong faith in both himself and in the God he believes.

But my faith is in what I see around me. I've seen a few great individuals who encompass faith, justice, and moral truths - and about a million times more people who are basically in it for themselves, so for me - someone has to prove that they're a complete human being before I begin to treat them as such.

You also say - "I love how I post about male responsibility, and most of the comments end up turning back to judging women's decision-making. Focus, people, focus."

We *ARE* focused...on the fact that this issue involves male responsibility when dealing with women. Not male responsibility separate from women - so the woman's actions are always going to be considered in our evaluation.

Amanda

Sometimes the misogynist trolls blow my mind. Like that Chris Rock joke about Betamax--"They still make you?"

Anyway, another problem with "provactive" is just that--what's it mean? Right now I'm wearing what you might call modest clothing--a sweater, a plaid skirt, and my saddle shoes with socks. In the summer I often wear tanks with no bra and shorts. The latter is more "provactive" to some men, I'm sure. But to most around here it's just what girls my age and build wear in the summer. Today's outfit with its rockabilly overtones is probably going to get more flirting and attention--it's rockin', and rockin' puts people in the mind to think of sex.

Clothing is a symbolic system that is very complex, to say the least. And what one person thinks of as sexy another may not think much about at all. What is most important to remember is that regardless of the motivations a woman may have to wear anything, "provocative" never means that men have a right to be be provoked into harassing, attacking, or otherwise treating as subhuman.

MetaMetaX

To Shannon - "Also I can not anticipate what weird sexual ideas every single man in the universe may have."

Right, but we also can't infer the intention of a group of women - all of whom are dressed provacatively, but only *some* of which are seeking attention. Thus, we judge them for their actions, because we *CAN* see them.

MetaMetaX

To Amanda - "What is most important to remember is that regardless of the motivations a woman may have to wear anything, "provocative" never means that men have a right to be be provoked into harassing, attacking, or otherwise treating as subhuman."

But when it happens so much in all cultures across the world, isn't someone who asserts her right not to be harrassed, sounding a little bit bull-headed and a lotta bit dense?

Hugo

"We must find a way as men to escape the mindset that revealing clothes mean we must look. This is a problem that men and women can both work on. Women can gently and lovingly try and encourage their sisters to dress appropriately; men can call their brothers to accountability. But it's not our job as men to demand a dress code from women;"

Can you not see how hypocritical you are being?

Men are held to MUCH tighter dress codes in the workplace than women. Recently here in the UK a young guy (20 years of age) lost his job for having hair gel in his hair. Men usually have to wear suits and ties and dark shoes in many business environments, whereas women can wear all manner of bright, colourful and comfy clothing.

This is a seperate issue from the way that many women wear sexually provocative clothing and make-up in the workplace.

A man's sex drive is highest from his teens through to his early 20s. You are now past the worst part of that phase. But by your own admission you didn't exactly resist temptation. So what gives you the right now to judge other young men and simultaneously let women off the hook for their behaviour?

Thomas

LOL! I just accidentally posted my name as Hugo. I am tired.

bmmg39

"To Percy - It's not an opinion!! The following three things *ARE* true.

1. That 90% of men have not yet learned not to ogle after provacatively dressed women.

2. That 90% of those 90% of men will find it very difficult to unlearn their staring habits."

You have your own rather vexing habit of making figures up and then calling them facts.

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