A 5 minute read 🙂
Growing up, I took precaution to ensure that my clothes weren’t too tight or revealing because I wouldn’t want people to misjudge me and assume that I’m ‘asking for it‘.
Before you get into this article, please be aware it is written in heterosexual terms – by this I mean, females being sexualised by males. I’ve also made a YouTube video on this topic diving in a bit further 🙂
Let kids be kids.
In some cultures, like mine, women are expected to cover up their body, unless you are in traditional clothing, in that case, show ALL the belly you want lol.
When I was 12 or 13, my sister and I wore matching bird print dresses to Christmas dinner at my Aunty’s house. They were floaty and knee length. My sister wore thick black tights with hers, and I wore patterned black tights. You know the ones I’m talking about? They were trendy in 2012 lol.
After we left, my mum told me that my grandad disapproved of my tights. Something along the lines of them being inappropriate! Like come onnnnn, I was just a kid and they were pretty tights.
I was judged for my clothing when I was at the age where I wondered if touching water would turn me into a Mermaid. The issue here is the sexualisation of the female gender, why does it happen so early and why is it a thing?
The Hyper-sexualisation of Young Girls.
Okay so lets quickly address the “ideal body type” on a western woman, throughout the years. I watched this video by Natacha Océane. She explains that in the 1910s everyone wanted to resemble ‘The Gibson Girl’ (Hourglass) and in the 1920s women intentionally wore baggy clothes to rebel against the hourglass body type. In the 1930s women rocked trousers and the fashion industry began to fetishize curvier women again.
The 40s sparked a slim look and women in the 50s had Marilyn Monroe to idolise; hip and butt pad sales flourished! The 60s, 70s and 80s preferred slimmer and athletic body types whilst the 90s glamourised drug culture with ‘the heroin chic‘ look. The early 2000s adored a tanned, athletic figure with a flat stomach and big boobs and now we live in a social media influencer craze with Kylie Jenner sitting on the throne.
So what’s the big deal?
The female gender has been sexualised by the media for what feels like eternity. In fact, its been over sexualised to the point where young girls are seen as sexual beings if they wear clothes that are fitted or ‘revealing’. Through adverts for food, perfume, cologne and sports, the media has taken over our minds and has allowed us to subconsciously sexualise our friends, family and strangers. It’s allowed some groups of people to see pre-pubescent girls as sexual creatures who have the ability to attract men. Gross.
I want to ask you a question. It doesn’t matter what your gender is. Answer as honestly as possible. Do you feel uncomfortable when women dress in ‘provocative’ clothing? If their shoulders, stomach, thighs, belly or cleavage show? If you can see their skin, does it make you feel uncomfortable? Why?
Society’s issue with the way that women dress.
I’ve always wondered why I’m not supposed to wear tight clothing around my family members. Surely its not because they would think I’m trying to attract THEM? Lol. It made me think – maybe wearing tight trousers, a short dress or a low cut top actually has a way of humiliating your family.
Pride has always been a huge part of my culture. If a daughter in a stereotypical Desi family does something out of the norm such as date someone of a different culture, or perform badly in school, it’s awkward to explain to the community. Its inconvenient for Desi families to deal with any kind of stigma. So, perhaps if a girl belonging to a particular culture dresses ‘too western’, it affects her whole family’s ‘reputation’… when reality, it doesn’t actually do anything except bruise the ego. *sips tea*.
Reminder: your reputation is who you are and what you do, not what others assume about you through rumours and misjudgement.
When a woman is judged by people for the way she dresses, there is an assumption that it reflects ‘badly’ on her family because it looks like her parents and family have raised the her improperly by being lenient with her. Suspicions surface within the community that she is a sexual being, even if she isn’t and the woman’s own family criticise her because they fear being judged by other families; and I mean, they probably will be judged – that’s just what society does. I guess people just care a lot about what others think. In rare cases, Desi families go as far as honour killings, when it comes to their pride. I recommend the brilliant book, ‘Killing Honour’ by Balli Rai, or the short film “Murdered by My Father” if you want to educate yourself on this topic.
“A woman who dresses in fitted or revealing clothing implies that she is looking for sex.”
If you agree with this statement I’m sorry but you remind me of Dennis Reynolds. All jokes aside, does this statement apply to men? If a man wears shorts or a tight shirt, does it mean he is ‘asking for it’? Does it mean that he should expect to be ‘cat-called’?
None of this seems justified to me because what I wear is not an invitation for anyone out there to talk to me or touch me. Don’t tell me to cover up, tell your sons not to rape.
Being judged by other women.
I’ve heard before that women are expected to dress more conservatively after they get married and have children. What does that mean exactly? Lets break it down.
Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I do not dress in a particular way to impress men. I do it so that I feel good. So often, I feel the need to dress down when I know I will be meeting new people – I’m less likely to show skin when I expect to introduce myself to someone, you never know what they’ll say about you. Occasionally, I dress modestly when I know I’ll be in the specific company of women; I don’t want them to assume things.
There is a fixed theory that some women have that ladies who dress in a ‘raunchy’ way are looking for sexual attention. They may say comments like ‘who are you trying to impress?’. Do women also believe that dressing in a certain way means that we are ‘asking for it’? Should we actually just expect to receive unwanted attention from men if we choose to show skin?
Perhaps the attention will always be there and we just have to be ready to deal with it. It’s going to take a lot to change the way that men behave – which brings me onto…
Some men need more self-respect
I am aware that 1 in 16 men are raped (this might not be accurate) but sexual assault prevention messages are usually targeted at women. We are advised not to walk alone at night, to not get drunk, to not dress in a certain way – to simplify this, we are basically told ‘don’t get raped.’
Instead of asking so much of women, why aren’t we pointing these messages and adverts at men by saying ‘DON’T RAPE’. I cannot understand how our society is continuing to raise sexual predators when we have the technology to actually help prevent it. Instead of using our media resources to encourage rape culture, we should reinforce the fact that a man’s status is not linked to his ability to dominate. Imagine the world we’d live in if the media praised male compassion more than physical strength.
While doing research for this topic, I stumbled upon this ignorant video – it was created by a random man with a misogynistic opinion. It’s called ‘Women, why do they think that they can dress any way they choose!” If you watch it, you’ll probably laugh.
Eli Mann, who produced this YouTube video advises men that “Women are sick in the head” and “Don’t let them make you feel bad about them wearing something they shouldn’t be wearing”. ‘Shouldn’t be wearing’? I had no idea Eli Mann is the father of every woman on the planet!
He then goes on to say “Don’t be scared, don’t let these women fool you into being ashamed about something that comes natural to you.”
Okay, I understand if a man feels attracted to a woman. I understand if it is because the woman is wearing a revealing outfit; the media actively encourages men to be drawn to women who show more skin. What I will never understand is men ASSUMING it is moral to catcall, touch, rape, and take secret photos of woman because it ‘comes natural to him’.
A lot of thoughts come natural to people but that is not an excuse to act on those impulses. If anything, you should ask yourself, why do I feel like doing that? Do you have so little respect for yourself that you feel the need to sexually belittle a woman so that you feel more powerful? Power comes from your work ethic, empathy and mental strength – not your ability to say ‘I want to sleep with her’ or ‘She looks like a slut’.
Instead of telling us how to dress, teach yourselves not to harass, degrade and abuse a human being. In all honesty, most men are not violent, but they’re also apprehensive in supporting women by challenging other men – but what if someone said or did these things to their mother, sister, girlfriend or daughter?
The first memory I have of an explicit encounter with a predator was when I was around 15 years old. My sister and I were on a public bus on our way home. We were in our school uniform.
Despite there being plenty of seats on the bus, a man got on and sat directly behind us. We felt the chair shaking. I turned around, out of curiosity, but he was playing with his genitals. We got up and moved. He followed us and sat behind us again. My sister and I got off the bus.
I also get sexually assaulted nearly every time I’m in a club. I think most women have experienced a man sliding past them in a crowded area, groping them and then sliding away quickly so that when the woman turns around, she has no idea who just sexually assaulted her. I always feel so low after a man does this to me. I feel disgusted and I feel like it’s my fault for wearing a tight dress. Is it really my fault?
Violence against women is NOT a woman’s issue. It’s a male issue. Maybe these men don’t feel comfortable to talk about violence against women. ‘Manhood’ does not mean being rich, having a lot of sex or being popular. Manhood means being a man – and what is a man? A human with feelings and empathy. Men can’t treat women with dignity if they lack dignity themselves.
We have to stand up to the unfair judgement that women face every single day by the media and our society. We have to demand respect for women who dress modestly, and women who show their beautiful skin. Whatever your culture, your religion, or just your opinion – you cannot tell someone else how to dress. If the way someone chooses to dress offends you, you need to look within yourself because if a woman was actually asking for it, she’d just ask for it lol.
Thank you for reading! I dive a little deeper into this topic in my YouTube video. Lots of love, Ariya xxx