Saturday, November 12, 2005

Why Women are Exposing themselves (part 2)

In Part One, I offered two reasons for the increasing exposure of young women's bodies. One was the loss of female roles and identity, leading many young women to announce they are females in the only way left to them -- by showing their body. The other was the near-extinction of the concept of femininity, including the demise of feminine dress.

The ending of sex-based roles, probably the major goal of feminism, has brought some blessings, but it has also harmed countless lives. Roles, to use the most venerated word in feminism, empower both sexes.

As much as feminists may disdain the roles of mother or wife, those roles have bestowed power as well as meaning and satisfaction on the vast majority of women in history. When all is said and done, heading a home and being married to a good man are far more satisfying to most women than college teaching or corporate work. The ending of women's roles has left innumerable women more free to choose their life's course, but often less happy and, yes, less powerful. Roles empower (as well as constrain) people.

Women derive power from feminine roles, and men derive power from masculine roles. At the core of feminism is an envy of male roles and power and a belief that women should have the same. But, as a recent New York Times Magazine cover story noted, women graduates from Ivy League universities are increasingly leaving the corporate world to raise families. Having the same power as men did not fulfill these women.

Now, the third reason. With no feminine role to aspire to, many young women feel powerless. The one area of power left for them is sexual. The more a young woman has bought into feminist notions of equality (i.e., the sexes are essentially the same and there is no such thing as a woman's role), the more she is likely to flaunt her sexual power. It is the only power left to her. This helps explain why female students at Harvard -- among the highest achieving young women in the country -- have just launched a magazine featuring Harvard women posing nude.

A fourth reason may be surprising -- sexual harassment laws.

Women feel freer than ever to dress provocatively in part because men can say nothing about it. Omnipresent sexual harassment laws and "consciousness raising" seminars in businesses and schools have frightened men into not making any sexual comments to a woman.

As a result, the normal check on a woman flaunting her body is gone. A woman can reveal her breasts or cross her short-skirted legs near a man, but he is forbidden to say so much as, "You have great legs." In fact, he can be fired or sued for saying nothing and merely "staring."

One reason women dressed more modestly in the past was fear of men's verbal reactions. No more. There are vast checks on his sexuality, none on hers.

We should either drop all sexual harassment laws (except those prohibiting threats -- "Sleep with me or you're fired") or apply them equally to women. If men create a sexually charged work environment when they talk sex, women do the same when they show sex. "Hostile work environment" -- a trial lawyer enrichment program created by feminist anger at men -- should be either dropped as a legal concept or applied equally to women's dress.

A fifth reason is the most obvious -- a desire to attract men.

Every woman knows that the quickest way to attract a man is to have him notice her. So it makes sense to assume that the more of her body she shows, the more men will be attracted to her. The problem with this approach is that unless all she wants is sex that night, provocative outfits are not usually in her best interest. Why not?

This leads to the sixth and final reason: women's naivete. It is doubtful that women have ever been as naive about men as are large numbers of contemporary educated women. I believe that my grandmother who never went to school understood men better than the average female college graduate today.

So, as a service to any woman who is confused by the difference between "cute" and provocative as regards women's clothing, this may help. What you often call cute or attractive, men see only as a sexual come-on. If you wish to dress for sex, you should be entirely free to do so. But if you want love and attention, you have to know the difference between dressing for sex and dressing to be cute and attractive. The more skin men see, the more they think sex, not love. And that includes guys your age, your male teachers, your clergyman, your mailman, and the old man next door.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Why Women Are Exposing Themselves (part 1) by Dennis Prager

I found this article several months ago and appreciated Dennis Prager's keen insights. His treatment of the subject goes to the heart of the motives that drive today's immodesty.

You may have noticed that many young women wear less, and more sexually provocative, clothing in public than they did a generation, or even 10 years, ago.

It is easier to notice, however, than to explain.

But explaining it is crucial to understanding what has happened to men and women in the last 40 years and where male-female relations are headed. Women exposing their bodies in public is a big deal. Playing with the sex drive, the most powerful force in nature, is far more dangerous than playing with fire. Even if one welcomes this development -- and for the record, as a male I am turned on, while as a man I am turned off -- it begs for explanation.

I will offer at least five reasons that may be less obvious but more important than the valid ones usually given -- peer pressure, women buy what stores sell and the sexual revolution.

The first is "equality."

By equality, I do not mean the belief that men and women are equal human beings, a belief that all decent people hold. Rather, I mean the feminist and politically correct definition of equality: sameness. Men and women have come to be regarded as the same, not simply as equals.

Thanks to feminist doctrines that pervade education from kindergarten through graduate school, men and women increasingly believe that the sexes are largely identical. Therefore, the arenas wherein women can feel and demonstrate their feminine distinctiveness have narrowed appreciably.

By showing more of their bodies, women can announce that they are women. There are other ways young women can publicly demonstrate their distinct female identity -- for example, by wearing feminine clothing and other feminine behavior, being a wife, being pregnant and being a mother.

But those ways are increasingly ignored, deferred and discredited. Among egalitarians, being a wife is no different a role than that of husband, and motherhood is no longer regarded as distinctively female. Husbands and fathers are supposed to play identical roles, and because of the movement for gay equality, mothers have been declared unnecessary -- two fathers, most well educated people now contend, are every bit as good for a child as a mother and a father.

So, for the young woman for whom marriage, pregnancy and motherhood are remote or even undesirable given the anti-traditional education she has received, her primary vehicle of proclaiming she is a woman is literally to expose the fact.

A second, related, reason is the death of femininity.

In the past, expressing one's femaleness was done through expressing femininity. In addition to the female roles of wife and mother, there were numerous ways of doing so. One was, of course, dress. But in the name of equality and comfort, distinctive female dress -- such as dresses and skirts -- has been largely abandoned. A young woman who wore a dress or even a skirt and blouse to a college, let alone high school, class would probably be considered stranger by her peers than one who wore a see-through top.

Today, instead of women wearing feminine clothing, they either wear essentially male clothing (such as pants and pants suits) or flesh-baring sexually provocative clothing. Feminine attire -- i.e., clothing that is very female but not very revealing -- is rare.

Femininity was also expressed by sexual reticence. Again, such a notion is laughable in much of contemporary society. The idea that a man made great efforts to be allowed sexual contact with a woman rendered women feminine in men's eyes. They are different from us -- they are feminine. Women who act as sexually available as a man -- through their behavior or their dress -- are not perceived as feminine, since they are perceived as being male-like.

Likewise, the myriad ways in which men treated women as women -- such as opening doors for them -- all declared that women were feminine, i.e., different from masculine. That is why many feminists opposed men opening doors for women -- it reinforced notions of femininity, a value that feminism has sought to extinguish.

So, femininity is largely a dead concept. Ask most young women -- or men -- what it means, and you will get either a blank stare or a hostile reaction.

Thus, many women are now saying: "I am a woman. And I will declare it in one of the only ways left to me -- I will show you my female body."