This is not a post about sluts or slut walks. If you’d like to go there, go here. Perhaps it’s a post about getting older and taking a look around and wondering why some people are wearing no clothes.
In her editorial letter in Shop Til You Drop recently, Justine Cullen wrote in part:
Obviously I’m getting old, because I still think the underside of your bum cheeks are for wearing inside your pants rather than out of them. It must be the case because everywhere I look, everyone else has their bum-cheek undersides hanging out for the world to see. Some of them look good (Erin Wasson), some don’t (the rest of the population), but this invasion of fleshy exposure has hit a tipping point I’m worried we may never recover from.
Being from Bondi, I’d been thinking it was just a hazard of the suburb, like sunburnt tourists and weekend garage sales. But recently I was away for the weekend and ended up at a country fair. I don’t know what I was expecting, but for goodness sake, it was a country fair: I had to restrain from wearing gingham. When I got there, though, I felt like I’d accidentally wandered down a wrong alley in Kings Cross. Bottoms, boobs, intentionally unbuttoned flies (what is that about?!)… vast amounts of skin as far as the eye could see. It wasn’t pretty, and the fact that the trend had clearly gone regional made it all the more worrisome. Why has it become so hard to tell your average twentysomething from your average streetwalker? When did we all decide to start dressing like skanks?
There’s something much more alluring about a bit of mystery — nothing Amish, just basic nipple and private parts-coverage. If you’re at a festival, there’s no need to prove that you chose not to wear the disposable G-string when you got your spray tan, going to the races does not require the same outfit as a Zoo Weekly cover shoot, pulling a stripper face is not truly necessary for your Facebook profile picture, and unless we’re in Cabo, I don’t want to see you on the dance floor in a triangle bikini, no matter how much you’ve been doing your Tracy Anderson. Even in Cabo.
Let me repeat myself in case you missed it the first time: this is not a debate about whether the way a woman dresses makes her a target for sexual assault (duh, IT DOESN’T. I think we’re all clear on that. Crystal.).
This is not about ‘judging’ a woman’s sexual history or reputation based on how she dresses. Please.
But it’s impossible not to notice that compared to, say 5, 10, 20 years ago, some women (not all) are pushing the boundaries between “clothes” and “almost naked”. More flesh seems to be being flashed than ever before.
So what happens when this spills (sometimes literally) into the workplace?
Adele Horin wrote for Fairfax recently:
What young women wear at the weekend, at night, to parties, or clubs or pubs is their own business. Women can be as playful and outrageous as their comfort zone and creativity allow. What young women wear to work is another matter. Like it or not, there are unwritten rules that govern office attire that women should heed if they are to be taken seriously in their career.
Young women have taken to wearing ”designer” thongs to work as if the folly of paying a hefty price for Havaianas elevates the genre from beachwear to office wear.
They wear tights with a big T-shirt as if the absence of a skirt won’t be noticed.
Most disconcerting is the nonchalant flaunting of cleavage and orbs in barely there tops and shirts with plunging necklines.
The matter of breasts in the office was driving one boss I know to distraction. It wasn’t the sexual titillation; it was the inappropriateness that bothered him, and what he should do about it. He didn’t dare mention it to the persistent offender lest it be misconstrued as sexual harassment. But the woman’s sluttish dress sense was putting her career in jeopardy. When she was thought of, it was for her unsuitable exhibitionism. She was kept away from clients because it was thought she would not be taken seriously.
Finally a senior female colleague was prevailed upon to have a quiet word.
…Work dress codes have changed over the decades, and it could be argued young women are simply pushing the boundaries again.
Perhaps it should not matter if a young woman gives a presentation in a virtually see-through blouse without underwear to a gaggle of tittering men (so says my female boss friend), just as what she wears on Saturday night should not matter. If she has the skills and commitment, her superiors should ignore the package and focus on the content.”
Now just imagine for one minute that you are a man or maybe you are so this exercise will be much easier for you. Imagine you are at work around a meeting table and the woman bending down in front of you is wearing no bra and you can right down the barrel of her shirt. Not because you want to but because she is bending over in front of you.
You can’t say anything because that’s sexual harassment and you can’t choose not to see it because it’s in your direct line of sight. I’m not implying the woman is asking for you to look at her boobs, I’m not imagining that you don’t have the brain power to tell you not to act on that image but God it would be hard for me to work if I was presented with the sight of a man’s penis in front of me during a meeting. Not because it would turn me on but because it would be confronting and would make me uncomfortable.
So is that my problem or the person wearing the see-through pants?
Have you noticed people dressing in a more….overt way? At work? Going out?