"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Modesty": the conservative clothing fetish (Lecture and open thread)

NOTE: In this post, as will most likely be my future habit, I sometimes use "girls" to refer to female persons in the abstract. This is not because I don't understand the distinction--I would never call a grown woman a "girl," but because, in fact, I am thinking about girls. specifically in the case of my own personal sexual experiences, the people in question are clearly girls, not. I fully expect, however, that many points I will make about girls now and in the future apply to women also. I rejected "females" simply because it sounds too impersonal.

In my last post (http://feministallies.blogspot.com/2006/07/these-creeps-think-about-sex-more-than.html), I was far less coherent than I could have been.

It was born originally out of my frustration with the tired old argument that men can't control the lust aroused in them by visual images (such as lightly clad or nude women.) This is obviously false, and not really worthy of much further argument.

However, the *reason* I don't buy into that claim seems potentially mroe interesting. I don't lust after girls because of their clothing. Now, I'm going to do my best not to be narcissistic. (I hope I spelled that right!) I'm certainly not going to say that everyone is or should be like me. Still, I cna only view the world through the lens of my own experience, and my personal perception take me in a rather different direction from the mainstream discourse.

I'll repeat again: I have never once been attracted ot a woman because of her clothes. For most of my life, I've barely been conscious of clothing--we aren't afraid of nudity in my household, I never had fashion sense growing up (I wore whatever was on top of the drawer) and I had a similar lack of interest in the clothing of others.

Now, I'm neither gay nor asexual--I'm not allergic to low necklines or visible bellies. Revealing clothing certainly can be hot. But my interest is not in the revelation itself but in *who* is being revealed. A good friend of mine, who I've long been attracted to, in a low-cut shirt or a fancy dress--that's hot. A random girl off the street, or a supermodel, in the same outfit--not hot.

Again, I could be exceptional. But it got me thinking: I find any kind of clothign attractive only when on attractive girls--often girls with average bodies and pretty minds. This seems to make sense: almost anything is sexy if it's associated with someone one personally finds hot.

Those calling for greater modesty seem to reach the opposite conclusion--that attractiveness is defined not by who you are, but by what you wear. implicit in the argument that men leer or harass because they fidn some type of clothing arousing is that they would NOT have been attracted if not for the clothing in question.

Now, what do we call it when one can't be aroused without a specific stimulus--that's right, a fetish.

I'll say it again--a demand for modesty only makes sense if made by men who fetishize women's clothing.

Now, I realize that not all men are alike. Generalizing about men's sexuality based only my own experience would be extraordinarily foolish. But it got my wodnering, are men as a whole really as clothing-focused as the conservatives claim? My suspicion is that the presumption that all men, by virtue of being men, must be aroused by certain types of clothing seems like one of those patriarchical gender-role things. So I'd love to hear from the men who read this blog, and my co-contributors: tell us about what clothing, if any, you find attractive, on whom, and why.

I'm not trying to be holier-than-thou. Finding clothing attractive or not isn't something we can help, a tleast not easily. And if many of us share this fetish in small part, that's hardly suprising. After all, fetishes are often shaped by society. If you *do* find revealing clothing universally lust-inducing, I mean you no disrespect.

But I believe that the feverish pundits writing polemics about the evils of short skirts may be a *bit* more sensitive to such thgins that the average man. And while I respect the existence of(almost) all sexual communities, it seems odd that a particular kink has so much sway over society. Odd, and dangerous. Because while the Homosexual Agenda has failed to destroy society--those right-wingers were right. There *is* a nationwide effort draw young people, even children in sexual fetishism--headed by people like our friend Bishop Yanta, who assume without evidence men are and should be aroused by "immodesty."

Opinions form the choir?
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