Nine Things I Want to Rephrase and Then Tell Teenage Girls, and One Thing I’d Like to Tell the Author to Shove Where the Sun Don’t Shine : A Rant

Warning! This is a Rant!

If you don’t want to be exposed to strong opinions, mild incoherence, and occasional cussing, don’t read this. Okay? Okay.

So, one of my aunts posted a link to this article recently over on Facebook. I posted a reply, and the ensuing discussion made me start typing a comment that turned into a rant, which I realized was not really about the article at hand and so am posting over here.

The article is called “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls,” and most of the items are pretty good. Here are some of the bullet points, with the commentary snipped:

  • 6. Never let a man make you feel weak or inferior because you are an emotional being.
  • 9. Don’t play coy or stupid or helpless to get attention.
  • 10.  You are beautiful.  You are enough.

Amazing! (Although let’s set aside the inherent sexism of number 6. All humans are capable of being emotional beings, not just teenage girls, and all kinds of people will make you feel weak or inferior for being emotional, not just men. Hell, pretty much all of the folks who’ve done it to me have been women. But that’s not the point of the rant at hand.) (As a further aside, the only person who ever told me the opposite of 9 was also a woman, but again. Different rant. Just remember, a boy who can’t handle it if you’re better than him at something is a boy who isn’t worth dating. End of story.)

The one that got to me was the first one:

1. If you choose to wear shirts that show off your boobs, you will attract boys.  To be more specific, you will attract the kind of boys that like to look down girls’ shirts.  If you want to date a guy who likes to look at other girls’ boobs and chase skirts, then great job; keep it up.  If you don’t want to date a guy who ogles at the breasts of other women, then maybe you should stop offering your own breasts up for the ogling.  All attention is not equal.  You think you want attention, but you don’t.  You want respect.  All attention is not equal.

I replied to the Facebook post

I dig ’em all except the top one, which (while it means well) is a little too reminiscent of the “cover yourself that you do not tempt the men!” attitude of many fundamentalist sects. That shit puts my back up. I mean, I don’t have to show any real skin to attract guys who just want to look at boobs. Telling me to cover up so I attract nicer guys is useless. And pretty blame-the-victim-y for my tastes.

My aunt replied that it wasn’t blame-the-victim-y, that clothes are meant to give an impression and you should dress properly (she included guys who sag their jeans in this, which I appreciated). I disagree with the first part, though: it’s blame-the-victim-y to say “well, if you didn’t want to get your car stolen, you shouldn’t have parked it there,” and it’s blame-the-victim-y to say “well, if you didn’t want a boyfriend who ogles other girls’ tits, you shouldn’t have offered him your tits to look at,” which is pretty much exactly what the article says.

That said, it’s definitely true that clothes give an impression, I’m the last person who’ll argue that. I drafted this on my lunch break from work, wearing nice leather shoes (polished over the weekend) and a nice linen blazer to dress up my jeans-and-tshirt ensemble (huzzah for lax Silicon Valley dress culture!). I carefully evaluate my clothing choices for different situations.

I am, however, sick to fucking death of women being told not to “show off” their tits. I have news for you: lots of us tit-havers can only not show them off by dressing in bulky, often male, clothing. Here are some photos of me not “showing off” my boobs:

Ealasaid IMG_10717 Cardinals Fang and Biggles

I’m on the left in the last one, dressed up for a Halloween party where I was mistaken for a man. In the next-to-last-one where I’m kicking ass, you sure as shit can tell I have boobs, but I would HOPE that wearing a compression bra under a thick, heavy gi counts as not showing off.

Of those three shots, the only one where I’m not wearing a top layer made for men is the middle one (yay for womens’ Aikido gi!).

I’m pretty sure that what most folks mean by “don’t show off yer tits” is “don’t wear stuff like this”:

IMG_5512 Dress the first

But even just wearing normal clothing makes my breasts really, really obvious.

Fathers' Day! Ealasaid. Stringed Instrument. E..A...

And yes, that’s Bruce Campbell in the last one there. :) I couldn’t resist.

Anyway: I can’t hide ’em unless I dress like a sack of potatoes — and then I get the pleasure of being told (exclusively by women, by the way. Can we say “crabs in a bucket“?) that I should dress nicer if I want boys to like me, or that the clothes I’m wearing make me look fat.  (One of these days I am going to write a whole rant on how it’s almost always women giving skull-fuckingly appalling sexist bullshit advice to me.)

Plus, in a more general sense, when I hear “don’t show off yer tits,” it’s usually followed by “unless you want to get catcalled/harassed/assumed to be stupid/raped.” How many times have we heard “but what was she wearing?” during discussions of rape/harassment? How many times has this kind of thing been phrased in ways to imply that if you don’t wear the kind of clothes the author thinks you should, you obviously want bad shit to happen to you? How many times has the discussion of women needing to cover up revolved around them needing to protect themselves from animalistic men? TOO MANY FUCKING TIMES.

And it doesn’t even work. Check out this comment one of my cousins posted shortly after mine:

Over all it is a decent article, I agree with Ealasaid about Point 1 though. My thing is that I heard an article on NPR a few years back about how bad the catcalling was getting in Egypt. The interviewer asked one of the men why he was harassing women on the street (though put more tactfully than I just did) and his reasoning revolved around these two points:

1) He thinks they “like” it, it’s complimentary and
2) He wants to know what they’re hiding under that burqa (seriously, he said that: What are they hiding under there?)!

So jerks are going to be jerks no matter what you where. A better point would be to remember to dress appropriately for the situation and to remember what kind of image you /want/ to project.

It’s hard to get further from “showing off yer tits” than wearing a burqa. And yet, women in burqa get harassed and raped all the time. Telling women dressed in ordinary clothing that the way men treat them is because of their clothes is blaming the victim.

I mean, go back and look at the offending paragraph that started all of this: “If you don’t want to date a guy who ogles at the breasts of other women, then maybe you should stop offering your own breasts up for the ogling.” How about “If you don’t want to date a guy who ogles at the breasts of other women, then maybe you should date a boy who doesn’t ogle at the breasts of other women“?! DUH!

I am really fucking goddamn sick of this bullshit and the shitweasels who say it.

No, I don’t consider my dear aunt to be a shitweasel. It’s just, it’s like when a kid who sits behind you in class flicks your ear all day. If some other random person flicks your ear, even gently, even by accident, you’re gonna go off on them.

Here’s what I would like to see people say:

Pretty much no matter what you wear, you will attract people.  Some of those folks will be good people, and some will be jerks. Learn to tell the difference, to tell who respects you and who does’t. Don’t be afraid to tell the latter to piss off, there are lots of people out there who won’t treat you like crap.

Different clothes are appropriate for different situations. School is school, work is work, and parties are parties. Learn which clothes are appropriate where, and don’t cross the streams. Clothes communicate as clearly as words do. Are you at school to learn? Then dress like it. Are you at work to do a job? Then dress like it! For parties, just about anything goes, and it’s fun to mix things up there. Do be ready to elbow assholes in the guts and yell for the bouncer/adult/whoever if you have to. Just cos you look hot doesn’t mean you have to put up with guys being fucktards.

Is that so much to ask?

Comments Policy: Just as a reminder, this is my blog, and you do not have a First Amendment right to post here. If I don’t want to post your comment, I won’t. Don’t like it? Get yer own blog.

ETA: I tweaked the title a bit, as really the rant is less about the author of the original article and more about me being really pissed off. Note to self: let rants sit for more than 12 hours before reviewing and publishing.

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