Been out. It's not pretty out there. My feminist views are challenged tonight.

(346 Posts)
dummad Sun 27-Jan-13 01:22:29

Hello, just a quickie coz I'm a bit drunk.

I've been out tonight in a bar in town - a trendy bar. Getting to the point, I'm disappointed ladies. I'm disappointed in what I've seen. Why do young women stand around dressed up like a dog's dinners looking bored out of their minds out of choice? I'm trying very hard not to think it, but I'm on the slippery slope of thinking women don't help themselves be taken seriously when they portray themselves the way they do. I know it's about choice and whatnot, but why CHOOSE to look like little fuck toys if you don't have to? Sorry. I just find it difficult to fly the feminist flag after what I've seen tonight. It's like young women don't give a flying toss about being empowered. They all look the same - tarty, vacuous and vacant. ALL of them. Hundreds of them. There wasn't one young lady in the place tonight without a horrendously short skirt on and killer heals. One group got out of the taxi and had garters tattood around her upper thigh. The men in the queue outside hardly batted an eyelid but one was there making sort of animal gestures to them like he was in a zoo. Maybe that's the sort of reaction these girls wanted.

In the bar guys couldn't even be bothered to approach the women by the looks of it. For two hours we were in there and I didn't see any notable, interaction between the sexes. Of course you'll never get a guy complaining about the way the girls look - they just lap it all up from a distance - it's all just laid out for them and saves the entry fee into the local lap dancing club I guess. They don't give a shit. Sluttier the better in their view. Why the hell don't women today backlash against it? I'd understand if it were a few of them like that but it was all of them. I'm sure they're intelligent, well bought up girls as well. So can't blame it on ignorance/ upbringing or whatever. They are a fucking disgrace.

You know what - I want you to put me right. I want you to tell me I'm wrong and there is hope and that women are aspiring for empowerment and campaign that they are respected as equals. It's up to them isn't it? They are the next generation after all. Don't they honestly care about their place in society? Don't they want to improve things like misrepresentation in the media and violence against women and lower wages etc? Don't they want to be taken seriously? Is this what has happened when women are contented? Is this what we choose to be by default? If so, it's no wonder men look down on us.

dummad Wed 30-Jan-13 11:24:01

'skirts so long you cannot run in them and be free', and earlier, 'high heels so high women need to hold themselves up to stay upright'. In my opinion where is the difference?

So long as men have an influence on the way we dresss we are not making our own choices.

This is what needs to be addressed.

If in the UK the media was telling girls that this year's fashion was a return to the 70's with flares and flower tops - and THEN the girls went out in the clothes they wore on Saturday night. Well, then I'd be impressed. Because it would be evident they are doing it for themselves and not for what they are being told to do by fashion/music/media barons - who are men.

No one will want to listen to me - after all I'm just an out of touch conservative from what you think. But similarly don't listen to the fashion industry or your peers either who just wants to keep you hooked on their merchandise whatever it is they decide to bring out next. I at least have a genuine concern for women's issues at heart - unlike the latter who is just getting rich at your expense.

dummad Wed 30-Jan-13 11:45:42

Sparkly - you are making out we are victims. Are young women victims or are they just ACTING like victims?

It's been pointed out that the young women today aren't interested in feminist issues, and this won't change until they are made aware of broader issues that affect them (sorry Sparkly - not aimed diretly at you now). We have a responsibility to provide other views so they know what the alternative choices are. Otherwise they will stay in a state of ignorance until people speak up.

When they do - aka this thread - it's 'you're trying to repress us.' See how many people have removed their earlier posts due to hostility - that is silencing people actually. The other posters are full of double standards. Expression is good, so long as it suits them. It's not good to be conforntational - unless it's them that's doing it.

Without realising that alternative view, and letting young women make their minds up, they aren't making INFORMED choices. And uninformed choices are, obviously, not the best choices to make.

Unless we're now at 'I defend my right to make bad choices for myself blah blah blah...'

Anyway, I have to get on with RL now.

BegoniaBampot Wed 30-Jan-13 11:52:47

Dummad - I don't think you are being totally unreasonable and what you hashed out in your OP, I've been seen covered here many times, maybe in not such a colourful way and by recognised posters who are accepted on this board. the look you are going on about and how it is everywhere is a bit like the pink for girls thing that is being pushed at little girls, but for adults.

AbigailAdams Wed 30-Jan-13 12:26:32

"So long as men have an influence on the way we dresss we are not making our own choices.

This is what needs to be addressed. "

Yes you are right. But you aren't addressing it. You are blaming it on women.

There is a discussion to be had about why the fashions of the current time mean less clothes for women but not for men, who dictates those fashions, why this might be a bad thing, possibly even why women follow them. But you haven't even tried to engage with any of that.

Sparklyboots Wed 30-Jan-13 12:34:33

I don't think anyone is acting 'like a victim'. I think they are acting like actors in social space, as are we all. You're blaming those women for playing part of the game in a way you don't like, rather than critiquing the game. As AbigailAdams has said, why not critique fashion and its role in patriarchy?

garlicblocks Wed 30-Jan-13 13:05:19

I don't disagree with what you say is your core point, either. There are conversations to be had about sexual objectification and cultural pornification. Your language, though, Dummad, has been contemptuous, presumptive and judgemental. You haven't asked why the girls adopt this style. You've made patronising assumptions and drawn misogynistic conclusions.

Why do you consider your friends less sheep-like and self-objectifying than the others? You were all wearing the same. Strappy tops with jeans & heels are just as body-con as little dresses.

Xenia Wed 30-Jan-13 14:29:00

They are important topics. I added long skirts and the burka to a discussion about high heels in which you cannot run as they go back to the issues feminists raised in Victorian England - corsets, long skirts, bustles which meant women could not ride bikes, not allowed to show their legs England 1870 and Taliban Saudi etc 2013. I think I'd rather have the freedom to go for the high heels than an obligation to be covered as at least there is choice. I had to wear ridiculous clothes when working in the Middle East. Here in London behind my computer screen I can work naked, in a burka or dungarees or mini skirt or jeans or high heels or whatever I choose.

There is more choice these days. I am often the only woman in a skirt at business things. I was the only woman somewhere last night who was not in trainers or flat shoes. Some young girls don't go out. Some don't drink. Some aren't allowed out. Others will spend their time out at church suppers or whist drives I suppose. Others choose not to be sociable.

However the gist of the thread is right - that now girls have more money than they ever do they spend it on how they look rather than invest it. That is partly because they can collar a rich man or it may be just indulgence because they want good casual sex and have to dress a certain way amongst certain groups of people to get it.

garlicblocks Wed 30-Jan-13 14:35:38

"at least there is choice"

Well, exactly! You can go to a bar in a burka if you choose. You can't go to a Saudi shopping centre in hot pants.

partly because they can collar a rich man or it may be just indulgence because they want good casual sex

Or just because it's fun? I grew up in one of the regions where dressing up was de rigeur on a weekend night. It was dressing up. Not for male delight, not even for female competition; just for fun, experimentation, self-celebration, all that smile

I do own a pair of ridiculous platform sandals, btw, inappropriate as they are (perhaps) for my age. They. Are. Fun! Fashion's like a hobby, kind of thing.

ithaka Wed 30-Jan-13 14:36:26

OP, I think your jeans, boots and spaghetti strap top sound very conformist so I don't know why you appear to labour under a delusion that you are less impressionable than the 'obedient little fashion puppets'.

On what basis do you believe their choice of clothes wasn't as 'informed' as yours? (IMO, a spaghetti strap top is an ill informed choice, they don't flatter many wink).

Xenia Wed 30-Jan-13 15:30:27

Never understood how women are warm enough in spaghetti strap tops either unless they are in Saudi I suppose.

Dress varies from group to group. It's a fascinating area to study and lots of women almost like it like an art work (and some men) in putting on a look. I prefer not often to think about it and like to wear much the same all the time but I don't think all women who choose to dress in a sexy way are doing it for the same reasons as all women who do that. It's hard to generalise. They certainly should feel free to wear what they choose even if there is family pressure from age 6 to have nail varnish on and bikini tops or to cover yourself up or whatever the family culture might be.

Writehand Wed 30-Jan-13 17:00:50

Xenia wrote "However it remains the case that the best route out of poverty for most women sadly is to marry a richer man so I'm sure dressing in a way they think will attract the right one and staying slim is part oft he plan for many. Look at how many women on mumsnet live off male earnings - it was clearly a plan which worked for them - attract man, be kept for life and serve him at home."

I can't believe that comment. The contempt it shows for other women's choices is downright depressing to read in this forum. It's contemptuous, but it's also way out of date. Most people rely on both parents working, at least most of the time. Very few men can offer a meal ticket these days. It's only skilled and educated men who earn enough to keep a wife & kids, and not many of them. Many families sacrifice income to keep a parent at home, by choice, but they struggle financially. Of course, my DH was very cunning, finding himself a female meal ticket... I really am quite shocked by your attitude, Xenia.

You can't tell anything about someone just by the way they dress. A friend's daughter who's just finishing a law degree looks just like the women I described when she goes out, breathtakingly glamorous, and she's definitely not looking for a rich husband. I suppose if she wanted one she's at least in a position to find one, but the group I was watching aren't qualified to be trophy wives. They're far more likely to end up bringing up children single-handed in social housing on sod all, like their mothers. I got a clear idea of the background of the women I described looking so glamorous because they arrived in a big group of widely varying ages, some related. These women are members of a readily recognisable group where I live. It's not the appearance, it's the behaviour, the voices and the language (which is awful). The middle aged blokes are "hard men", carrying an air of menace. The older women look battered by life. The group hadn't been in the pub 30 minutes before something got broken. We all left to go somewhere else before anything major kicked off.

For these young women dressing up seems to be all about them, and their sense of themselves and their glamour, not about men. They weren't competing with men or over men, but with women. Who's got the best shoes/hair? And they may well have been thinking in terms of a ONS or a snog. But I don't think a meal ticket's what they're hoping for.

Mugofteaforme Tue 05-Feb-13 13:22:04

Why do young women dress like that?, simply to feel powerful. Powerful in the presence of men and women.

I'd argue (from experience) that the vast majority of people who bemoan women who dress "as sluts" (not my personal opinion by the way) are in fact other women. You only have to listen carefully when a scantily clad woman enters a club to hear a roar of feminine disapproval. As a London female bar tender in a large pub for almost five years I heard no end of it.

Nancy66 Tue 05-Feb-13 16:16:46

I think it's just a youthful rite of passage.

These girls are very unlikely to be still dressing like that in 10 or 15 years time.

My clubbing years were in the late 80s and I regularly wore short, lyrcra dresses, catsuits, boob tubes and very high heels. When I look at photos of me as a 20 year old I think I looked very cheap and tarty. But, at the time, I thought I looked amazing.

When I see girls dressed like WAGs today I mostly just think they look cold and their feet must be killing them....their clothes don't upset or offend me.

dummad Thu 28-Feb-13 11:14:25

OK, so it's been a while since I posted this and I have thought a LOT about the argument I was proposing and some of the responses it prompted.

I'd like to clarify that, after a lot of consideration and soul searching, I think I was wrong, or that mainly people like FreyaSnow were right. My argument was paradoxical and didn't really make much sense. No one should judge anyone by their appearance - or comment/draw conclusions from what someone wears. I was taking the view that it was right that a girl dressed in hotpants could be judged and that I had the right to judge her by my own standards, which is arrogant of me. This debate also forced me look at some other deeper prejudices I owned - it's quite a hard thing to do - and I honestly feel better having faced them because I want to overcome them. It's quite a humbling experience. And - through acknowledging the fact we shouldn't judge people unfairly, I have also come to judge myself less harshly and that has been a real epiphany moment. This thread became a bit of a catalyst to be honest and I'm glad I had the debate.

I did set out to gain some enlightenment with this post - not to convert others to my views at the time. I wanted to be challenged and I was. I can see where I was going wrong now so thanks for the more measured responses from some of you and also for taking the time.

PromQueenWithin Thu 28-Feb-13 13:54:36

Good on you for coming back, dummad

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Thu 28-Feb-13 13:58:45

Echo what PromQueen said - glad you got food for thought.

Writehand Thu 28-Feb-13 15:49:39

My older DS, who is 20, has quite strong political views, including feminism. He's single atm, but his previous girlfriend wore hoodies and low rider jeans all the time. I thought she was stunning, but she played it down and never looked obviously sexy.

This winter he threw a very small party. Some boys he knows not so well brought some girls round. The seating in his bedroom is all on the floor - and one girl was dressed in a way that allowed everyone to see her thong, naked thighs and most of her groin up her skirt, while her breasts were literally falling out at the top.

Some drink had been taken, and in the end my DS just said that he couldn't interact with a woman who looked like a stripper and asked her to leave. He suggested they would do better to go to a nightclub. He told me it was totally screwing up the room -- a group of people who knew each other well, all his old mates -- and these girls. They were all dressed in a way that showed their bottom halves as if they were wearing string bikinis as soon as they sat on the floor. Despite the cold, their legs were bare.

He talked to me about it afterwards. He felt kinda victimised. How, he asked me, was he to interact with girls, or find out if they might be potential friends or even girlfriends if they presented themselves in a way that, as a young man packed with testosterone, meant he couldn't relax with them or see them as anything other than sexual beings. Every detail of their clothing was to make them look as sexy and provocative as possible.

It's not just them. A family friend came round with her 18 y o daughter last summer and I - a middle aged woman - simply did not know where to look. I kept thinking her tits were going to fall out of her minute cotton top. When I dragged my gaze away I realised I could tell you what colour and design her pants were. It's not funny. Knickers are one thing - but totally naked, waxed & fake tanned flesh plus a tiny thong is a bit much.

I have 2 DSs, and I can see how difficult this is for them. You should hear my son's passion about that Indian rape victim, and compare it to his confusion and frustration at how these girls present themselves. He respects women, and gets confused when they appear not to respect themselves.

dummad Thu 28-Feb-13 17:15:11

Hi Writehand, yours is a very well written post and it does explain the dilemma really well. I stick to the view that I don't like young women presenting themselves this way but I now realise that if it made your son feel uncomfortable, it's not really their problem. They were happy to be dressed like that and did so out of choice and that is their prerogative. I don't want to sound like I'm doing a massive U turn here as i understand your frustration, but I guess what I now realise is that a woman's body and how it's presented is not up for men -or anyone else - to decide on behalf of the individual. It's another debate altogether - one that explores WHY women like to dress like that in the first place and if they care that they are being judged for it.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 28-Feb-13 20:57:29

Dummad good for you for thinking about this and coming back to say you've changed your mind.

Writehand, your son is responsible for his own responses to his female peers; they're not responsible for how he responds to them. He needs to know that so that he can be a good feminist ally.

Writehand Fri 01-Mar-13 13:45:11

I spoke to my DS about this last night. He reminded me that when he asked her and her companions to leave, she slapped his face for it and he woke with a small black eye. He did not retaliate. There was nothing shy or intimidated about these girls.

The power in the situation was all with the girls. That's the point, and I think that's what he's objecting to: being exploited lead round by the dick by these sophisticated confident girls,

I take the point that a Victorian woman would find my clothing profoundly shocking. I think the impact the girls have is that what they're revealing would be fine on a beach but is far more startling out in the evening. Also their skirts, tops, etc. only cover them when they're standing up. Even sitting down on a chair reveals a lot. Bend over and the world can see you fore and aft! grin

It's slightly worrying that girls feel they must display themselves like this, but I don't think they do it out of powerlessness. It's a display of sexual triumph, I think, more like a peacock than a harem girl, if you see what I mean.

I also think it's more complex than any of us can put our finger on. It's in part a result of feminism, in part the insecurity felt by the young in our society. Lots of stuff combined.

PromQueenWithin Fri 01-Mar-13 13:55:01

writehand I think your son was rather rude to those girls.

It's a shame he feels he's being exploited and 'lead round by his dick', but I can't help noticing some parallels between that opinion and the sort of arguments used by mainstream religion to justify traditional views on a woman's place. And followers of Sharia who insist upon extremely modest dress. Is your son so unable to control his sexual urges that he expects women to dress modestly so as not to distract or tempt him?

What if one of them had been raped that night? Would you and your son have been tempted to wonder whether, if they'd dressed more modestly, they would have avoided it?

I don't wish to offend you, but some of the things you're saying have some unfortunate interpretations.

And also, who's gaze do you think these girls are displaying their 'sexual triumph' too?

dummad Fri 01-Mar-13 14:41:15

It's sad that such a situation arose and that your son ended up getting hurt.

But rather than accusing the girls of leading him by the dick and saying they looked like strippers (which isn't a very nice thing to say to someone let's face it), he might have said something like: 'I'm sorry, as it's my flat I'm going to have to ask you to leave because I'm finding myself distracted by the way you are dressed and I'd rather just have a quiet night tonight with my friends.'

That is understandable because it would be putting the onus onto him and not them.

Writehand Fri 01-Mar-13 15:50:12

From what I understand, as I said, the girls weren't exactly gate-crashers but they were not invited. They then sprawled around showing an embarrassing amount of flesh & thong. What might have looked OK standing at a nightclub bar was way too revealing when semi-reclining on a mattress on the floor.

It wasn't just the clothes, it was the attitude. My DS felt that all they wanted was a sexual response. There was no chat, no fun. Just this business about their appearance - "look at me". You don't get a friendly, party atmosphere thing when people come on so strong. And to be so overt in a quiet private house is just uncomfortable.

OK, we get used to our own norms, but I can't imagine most people would feel relaxed if a cluster of girls dressed like Victoria's Secret models piled into their kitchen.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Fri 01-Mar-13 16:09:08

The young women were brought along by young men who know your DS, is that right? How were they gatecrashers?

How would you feel if someone asked you to leave somewhere because of how you were dressed - did your DS actually say that?

She was wrong to slap him, of course.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Fri 01-Mar-13 16:09:45

Sorry, scrub first phrase, you said they weren't gatecrashers!

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