Right. I think anyone that knows me knows I tend to fall on the feminist side of the political spectrum as far as personal beliefs go. I'm a little bothered. Someone that used to be a mutual acquiantance of mine and Perpet's (well, and Color of Saukura for that matter) posted on his blog about how he was drawn into a discussion about women's clothing and how they shouldn't dress in such a way as to give a man sinful thoughts. He notes that although there are some people who fall in the middle of the road most people either believe either 1) women should consider how they dress or 2) they should be able to dress as they like and men should mind their thoughts. This person fell into catagory one.
For the most part, I think I fall into catagory two.
I'll say this, i'm trying to be fair about things. I can see how he feels as far as thinking sexual thoughts when a woman is dressed in provacative clothing. I won't lie, a woman in provacative clothing makes me think naughty thoughts too. BUT a beautiful woman in a long skirt and a blouse is just as likely to do that for me. See, sometimes I think that the brains that run the attached pair of nice legs is just as sexy. We live in a society that sells sex. Its common. That's the long and short of it. And men and women are both objectified as sex objects in modern society.
Here are the questions I ask myself when I consider the question: (for the record, I'm going to stick to the topic of women because I like women, but its equally likely to insert "man' here too, I get that)
Why is the woman dressed in that manner? How do I feel when I am dressed in a manner that makes people, or might make people, think things like that about me?
Why do I think what I think? Do I believe that is the woman's intent - to make me think sexual thoughts?
Is it wrong for me to have sexual thoughts about someone I find attractive?
How do I act in response to these thoughts?
Is it the woman's fault I think those things when I see her?
To be honest, I can't give the motivations for a woman I don't know. When I dress in a short skirt or a pair of tailored pants or a skimpy top or whatever I normally do it for myself. See, sometimes looking like that makes me feel good about myself. Appreciative glances are gratifying, and I know that I am an attractive woman because of those glances. Of course, most times I know that anyway. Sometimes I do it because it gives my partner or my friends pleasure to see me all dolled up. Its shallow, I admit, but its nice to be out with my beautiful partner and my beautiful friends and know that we all look good. Its a self esteem boost.
When I see a woman dressed provacatively I normally just appreciate it. Beautiful women are fun to look at. They are. Now, every now and again do I have thoughts that go beyong "wow, that's a cute outfit" Yeah, I do. But normally that's with people I know. People I appreciate as people and not as someone hot. That might take me out of the discussion right there. You see, I find it difficult to find someone sexually attractive that I don't like or respect. So I might be removing myself from the problem. When I was single and I went out, yes I was looking for someone I was attracted to and looks figure into that. But if I get her on the dancefloor or at my table and she's dull or has no opinions the poor girl has no chance, however pretty she is. Brains are the sexiest organ after all. As for what I think the woman is thinking? Let's be honest, some women dress to impress. They want to be admired. Hell, I do. But I also think its really unfair to say they dress with the intent to give people sexual thoughts. Maybe they jsut want to feel good. I think in our society its dangerous for a woman to go out with the intent to seek sex. Well, anyone for that matter. And I think that me saying "she wanted me to think that" or "she should have known I would think that" is a slippery slope that leads to "she had it coming, its the way she dressed, not me" when someone does something inapproproate.
So here's the question: Is it wrong for me to have sexual thoughts about someone who I think is attractive because of how they are dressed? I don't think it is. First, humans are sexual cxreatures by nature. We are. Its a natural impulse and while I might have those thoughts and think "you know, that's probably not something I should think, since I'm married/ seeing someone/ a monk/ whatever" its how I govern that impulse that counts. It comes down to the first part of the question: Is it wrong to have sex, is it wrong to have sexual thoughts? I don't think so. I think its terrible that people villify sex as something dirty or wrong. Sex is something beautiful and its something special when done right. I won't even say that sex has to be something that only takes place between committed partners to be beautiful. I have a very, very close friend whom I have had relations with and honestly, I think she's a beautiful intelligent woman. But she and I don't want a relationship. I honestly think (and she may correct me on this point) sex between us was a really awesome way of expressing our love as friends to eachother and while it might never happen again, I am not sorry I did it. I think we're better friends for it. And no, I don't sleep with all of my friends. I don't sleep with 99% of my friends. She was a special case. I'm glad now I did it. But the point is, sex should be special and beautiful and I think its when all you care about is getting off, regardless of the feelings of your partner, that's when you get into dangerous waters. There is noting wrong with sex. There is something wrong with objectification. Every person exists as more than just an object for sex.
When I have thoughts like that, its how I react that I think is important. And I think I'm okay if I act in an appropriate manner.
I don't believe its the woman's fault I think like that. Now, I am not so naieve as to say a woman doesn't know when she looks beautiful that people might look at her in lust. But I will say I don't think there are many women out there who set out with the intent to give people thoughts of a sexual nature.
You know, a lot of this comes down to situation. If I go to a club I plan on seeing women I find attractive. They'll be there. If I go to a church, I don't expect short skirts. If I'm walking down the street, well its a toss up isn't it?
Here's where I diverge from the person I linked to. This person comes at it from a religious standpoint. He feels like the woman is responsible for drawing the man into sin and should be responsible for the way she dresses. I'll say this, if you practice a religion where it is your faith to dress modestly and cover yourself, then you should follow your faith. That's why its your faith. On your own head be it if you disagree with your own doctrine. But I also believe that if you believe its a sin to have sexual thoughts about a woman you aren't married to then you remove yourself from as many situations as possible where you might sin. And then, if for some reason you do sin, you ask forgiveness. It is your choice to wander the paths of lust. Thinking "Wow. she's gorgeous" isn't a sin. Following up in your head with "I want to do X, Y or Z with her" is your fault and you should control your impulses. Acting on them after that, that's your fault too. It takes two to tango. I think I am just as responsible for how I dress as for how I think. AS for his discussion about partners: if my wife is in jeans and a shirt, I think she's sexy. If she's in a dress, I think its sexy. She's my wife. I hope I think she's sexy. Sex isn't a sin. Now, if I don't like the way Kitten dresses, you know what, I might say something, and its her perogative to say she will or she won't and if she doesn't consider my feelings, well, maybe she isn't right for me. But, its her decision. Right?
I'm rambling now. So I'll get to the point. If I wear a short skirt, I wear it for me. And if I look good, look at me, and you can appreciate it. After that - your thoughts and your morals are your own. And I can't control that.