Friday, August 22, 2008

Stop using "science" to tell me how to dress

Yesterday, I posted a link to an article on Alternet called "The Things Women Go Through To Attract A Man", and while at the time I posted this link, I was too tired to post a full response, I wasn't too tired to get a little pissed at the assumption throughout this article that everything we women do has at least a subconscious ulterior motive of reproduction.

The first problem I see with this article is that it is titled "the things women go through" but is really all about what men like. And yes, it addresses the corset thing, the high heel thing, but the overall theme is that women subject themselves to the male gaze as a means of procreation and there is no room herein for any other reasons why women choose to do various things for fashion and the purpose of being pretty. According to the author, and too goddamn many other people (anti-makeup rad-fems, male chauvinists), the only reason women look and dress certain ways is because they need male attention.

I've talked about this stuff before, but I have to say once again that I completely disagree with this assumption (and remember, whenever you make an assumption you make an ass of yourself and Uma Thurman) and wish to stand up right here and now in my short skirt and makeup and say that I'm not looking like this to attract a man with whom to mate and propagate the species. First of all, I have a man whose praise of my physical form fulfills my need-of-male-approval glass up just fine, thankyouverymuch, and secondly I'm just fucking vain, okay? I'm vain. I like being pretty. I'm attracted to myself and I like to dress in ways that make me feel sexy to myself. I could give a fuck what other people (including my boyfriend some of the times) think about how sexy and reproduction-able I am based on my hip-to-waist ratio (my waist is NOT 70% smaller than my hips, in fact, I'm straight from waist to hips, the only reason it sometimes looks otherwise is cause I've got a belly).

The other thing I take issue with here is the use of "science" to say that men are genetically programmed to like certain things like long legs, high and tight asses, and a 100:30 ratio of hips to waist. That's not science, it's people who have noticed certain behaviors in the boners of men and decided to make a broad, overarching statement about how "men are programmed to think that these aspects in a woman will make her fertile" or whatever. Notice how there's nothing in the article about how men love the huge tits and how that's supposed to signify fertility. That's because this whole "men and women are programmed to seek the most fertile/virile mates with whom to make lots and lots of babies" is complete and utter BULLSHIT. There are three things that are essential to a woman's ability to procreate, and two of them are her tits!

Certain things crop up in species (en mass) when an area becomes overpopulated, at least that's the going theory. These things, like homosexuality (this may or may not be "science", but it's an interesting idea) are meant to curb the rate at which the population continues to expand. Now, if we take as a given that this is the reason there are gay people (yeah, sure), then we have to stop and think about the way straight people are "programmed" to seek each other out and make more people. Come on. We can't keep reducing the very complicated social mores of dating down to the over-simplified version of biology that does it's damnedest to keep women (and gay people, actually) in cages and say "see, they like being in there" because they're supposed to want to reproduce.

People who know me know that I don't even want to reproduce on a subconscious level. Moreover, if you listen to these wackjobs who claim that men only find women who have long legs, high and tight butts, and wide hips acceptable for mating, you'd also have to come to the conclusion that I have a hard time getting laid. Let me tell you I don't. If I'm single and I want someone to fuck, I will go find him. And while, when on these escapades, I will dress up in a way that pleases me I'm not going all out because I subconsciously want to make furry little babies with someone. (While not single, as I currently am, I still get all dressed up once in a while. I like it. He likes it. I do admit that I like it when he likes what I'm wearing, but my purpose in wearing what I wear is to think that I look hot for myself.)

This brings me back to the initial point I had about having the male gaze imposed on women. There are a lot of women out there. There are a lot of women who like to play dress up. And while there may be women who play dress up with the sole ambition of landing a man, settling down, and popping out babies, this is the 21st goddamn century and the sole ambition of most women is not simply to land a man and get married and propagate the species. In fact, even though we're trained to believe that bullshit thanks to "science" that is trying to tell us how to dress (and that's what this is), most women aren't buying it.

Believe it or not, in this society, we have to wear clothes. Now, we could all walk around wearing burlap sacks, but those are remarkably uncomfortable and since humans actually do have a natural tendency to want to one-up each other (both men and women) clothing is a kind of status symbol. And while you can claim that seeking status is really only a way to land a man, get married and have babies, there is something to be said for just wanting to look like you have money... or look like you're creative. Or, if you're like me, make yourself up in a manner that would make you want to fuck you.

Nothing wrong with that, ladies. And if you're wearing clothes that you like because you like them, stand up and holla back at these assholes who keep claiming that you're wearing them because you want to attract a mate. There are a lot of super sexy single women who dress the way the do because they like it, and aren't, in fact, looking for a mate at all. There are a lot of super sexy single women who aren't looking for a man, but a woman, and still wear fashion that we heteros call sexy -- wow, those women must be confused!

In closing, I just want to yell at these idiots who try to use "science" to tell us how to dress and that we're dressing that way because we're allowing ourselves to be subjected by the male gaze. Just shut up already. I like being pretty. I don't have a male gaze, not being male, and I dressed in a short skirt and wore makeup today because I like it and am completely free of reproductive ulterior motives. End of discussion.

1 comment:

Kreilly said...

One of the points is that we are socially constructed and "feeling pretty" should be historically situated. Women want to be thin and will go through some pretty devastating and deadly extremes to feel thin. I think the question is: Where does our idea of "pretty" come from? And whose interests does it serve?

We can protest all we want but the social forces that bear down upon us are only part of the story. The more subtle and pernicious forces often work from the inside out.

Interesting blog.