Black and lacy, if you’re wondering.

08Jan10

I wasn’t going to write about this, but man has it blown up.  I, along with millions of other women, was forwarded a message on facebook today asking me to post my bra color in my status to promote breast cancer awareness.  I didn’t, for many reasons, but several women that I know did, and now it is apparently a big issue.  Many people, male and female, that I am friends with have berated these women for posting their bra color as their status, calling them sluts.

Look, I don’t think that posting your bra color in your status, without a link directing people to where they can donate or how to otherwise help, is very useful for the cause.  I also think that breast cancer is pretty well promoted, and it would be nice to, every now and again, see a lesser-known form of cancer awareness broadcast.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however, I think it is complete and utter bullshit to call women sluts for posting their bra color in their status.

First of all, a woman’s level of modesty is her own choice, and has nothing to do with whether or not she’s a “good” or intelligent person.  Women should have the right to be as open with their sexuality as they choose, without having derogatory terms thrown at them.

But that isn’t the only thing.  I was discussing this with a friend (one of the ones who used the term “slut” when referring to the women who participated in the event), and he expressed the opinion that the women who did this were crying for sexual attention, and using a very serious subject as a means to do so (see reason one for why I don’t care if they were).  He said that he, as a man, would automatically picture the woman in question in a bra, and that such sexual thoughts were the goal of the women in question.

Why is it the responsibility of women to edit themselves so that men will not see them as sex objects?  I know I, for one, do not automatically start picturing my male acquaintances in various states of undress if they post their underwear color (which many of them did today, in response to the bra color phenomenon — although I have not seen them torn down for it).  I wouldn’t hold them responsible for it if I did.  They would be my thoughts, and I would have to question myself about where they came from and whether or not they were appropriate and acceptable.

The idea that women should change their ways in order to keep men from objectifying or harming them is ridiculous, and has been in place for a long, long time.  This is especially prevalent in rape-prevention, where women are taught not to walk home alone at night, not to wear revealing clothing, not to look too sexy, etc., etc.  If a woman does get raped, she must have done something wrong, she must not have followed all the right steps.  How about throwing in some “how not to rape women” classes for the men?  If a woman wants to dress in sexy, revealing clothing, if she wants to walk home alone at night, if she wants to leave her drink unattended for a few minutes while she goes to the restroom or dances to a song, she should be able to.  And if she does decide to engage in a behavior she has been taught to avoid in order to prevent rape, and she is raped, no one should say or imply that it is her fault.  It’s quite obvious that women carefully moderating their own behavior is not preventing rape.  Perhaps we should, I don’t know, try to change the way society views the roles of men and women?  Work on letting men know that objectifying, controlling, and overpowering women isn’t actually cool or manly?  That their worth does not, in fact, revolve around their sexual conquests?

I didn’t mean to go into all of that, but the fact is, saying that women should not post their bra color in their status is akin to telling them not to walk home alone.  It is pushing all blame on the victims, and conveniently freeing their oppressors from any responsibility for their own actions and perceptions.

The same friend also stated that these status posts were contributing to the objectification of women.  This falls under the category of victim-blaming as well.  Objectification of women will not be eliminated by women repressing their sexuality.  Women should not have to uphold certain standards of “modesty” in order to be viewed as real, live human beings.  Isn’t that rather the point?  I want to be respected for who I am as a woman…I do not want to have to gain respect by making sure I dress and act to prevent sexual thoughts from the other sex, or exhibiting behaviors generally considered to be “male.”

But let’s take this a little further.  I do not see how sexual thoughts about a person lead to the view of them as non-real beings.  Can a person not be sexually appealing, as well as intelligent and capable, all at once?  The problem is not actually with finding certain women sexually appealing, it is with viewing them as solely objects to be used for sexual pleasure.  There is a huge difference there.  It is wrong to completely strip a woman’s humanity from her, but it is not wrong to see her as an attractive and desirable being.

My mind is working at half-capacity, and I’m a bit concerned I’m not making sense right now, so I’m going to stop here.  I would like to link this post from NPR, because I think it asked all the right questions without the tone of judgement.  It focuses on whether or not this is “slacktivism” (virtual activism with no real results), not whether or not women are vying for sexual attention by posting their bra colors.

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2 Responses to “Black and lacy, if you’re wondering.”

  1. 1 Xander

    I wondered why I kept seeing all of the questions. Thought it was a favorite color thing, but then there were a lot of pink lovers out there.

    Any man who cant not restrain his thoughts from thinking about a woman in lingerie because of the color of her bra has more issues than just knowing the color of the bra. If their mom posted, would they start fantasying about them? No. They have control, whether they want to exert it is the problem.

  2. 2 Edman

    Wow, I really missed out on the controversy…maybe I should tap into some new news outlets.

    Agreed on the idea that thinking of a woman sexually is somehow wrong. I think it dovetails all too well with both our Puritan heritage (sex is eeevil!) as well as the earlier-discussed Nice Guy Syndrome, in which a woman is put on a pedestal and now allowed to be a real, live person (sexuality included!). Are men not allowed to be attracted to women now without fear that we’ll be objectifying them?

    Also, looks like a black day for both of us. 😛


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