Boobs on show = no respect?

So a friend uploaded this photo on Facebook.

Showing my boobs = no respect?

This person is overall sensible, interested in equality and philosophy, but hasn’t got much time for political analysis. We’ve had many discussions where we agree on some level, but we reach completely different conclusions as our approaches are very different. A lot of the time ze doesn’t understand why something is problematic, and I feel that is what is going on here. This person claimed the photo is only a tongue in cheek comment about the irony of using ones body to try to attract someone who will like you for your personality. I’d like to quickly examine that idea, and the premiss for this picture.

My immediate reaction was to think that this photo is very sex negative and slut-shaming. It fits neatly into a context of the madonna/whore-dichotomy, where women who show “too much flesh” are “bad”, while women who cover up and gets by on personality alone are “good”.  You cannot expect to be respected if you fall into the first category! No one will want you for more than shallow reasons if you wear a low-cut top. At the same time it depicts women as naive or stupid. Oh look at this stupid woman who hasn’t learned the rules yet! She actually believes someone might like her for more than her boobs!

I also feel it makes an interesting claim about men. It basically says that if a man encounters a woman who shows her boobs he won’t be able to comprehend that she is also a person. He’s a sexual animal, and he will be blinded by lust. This is dangerously close to rape-apologetic talk, and this way of thinking forms a part of our problematic rape culture, as well as the restrictive and harmful male gender role.

Last of all I just want to point out how utterly illogical and wrong the entire premiss is. As a person in a committed, monogamous relationship I still enjoy wearing low-cut tops, without any intent of attracting a new partner. Lots of women dress up, often to please the male gaze but that is not the same thing as trying to attract a partner! On top of that, I’ve always been fond of tight-fitting clothing and low-cut tops, and I’ve never had any trouble finding partners who appreciate and respect  me for that and a bunch of other things.

All in all, this photo is sexist, sex negative and just plain wrong, and I find it to be insulting to basically every human being, whatever their gender identity.

ETA: Me and this person had a discussion surrounding this photo, and ze has now realized that, although hir motives were innocent, it is in fact sexist.

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2 thoughts on “Boobs on show = no respect?

  1. Found your article searching for something else. Considering you now live in the Rape Capital of the western world, do you still feel and dress the same way? Do you now understand that not all men have an IQ that understands women are more than their bodies? I am not attacking your article/ideas, rather support it. I am just interested to know if in the last 5 years since the article was posted, if you understand the irony of the image now.

    • Hi Corbin, before I address your actual questions I just have to point out that this entire Rape Capital nonsense is complete horseshit, to put it bluntly.

      First of all, reported rape is not the same as actual instances of rape. Sweden has a much more encouraging attitude towards reporting rape than most countries. There aren’t more cases of rape here; people are just much more inclined to report it.

      On top of that, Sweden has a very broad definition of rape. As an example, cases that would be labelled sexual assault in many countries count as rape here. Another example is that if someone is raped 52 times by their partner it’s counted as 52 separate cases of rape, not as one single case as it would be in the US, for example.

      Rape is definitely a serious issue in Sweden, just as in every country, but it’s simply not true that this is some kind of rape capital.

      With that said, I don’t see how that is even relevant to my article, to be quite honest. If I were to live in a country where rape was much more common than in other countries, in what way would that invalidate the points I’m making in this article? Please elaborate.

      A woman wearing less clothing is still as much of a complex human being as she would be with layers and layers of fabric on, a fact the vast majority of people in this so called Rape Capital seem to be able to grasp. If someone were to disrespect her, or indeed rape her, the problem would lie with the perpetrator, not the woman on the receiving end.

      I’m yet to encounter a man so stupid as to fail to realise that women are people. I have, however, encountered stubborn and lazy men, who simply prefer the comfort of thinking that women exist for their pleasure, or that they can be grouped into two categories (worthy and not worthy) based on their dress. That’s why it’s so important to challenge these patterns of thinking, even when it’s just in the form of a joke or a meme. No one is too stupid to get it – they’re just too intellectually lazy, or they’ve never been presented with an alternative.

      Lastly, I don’t understand what you mean by the irony of the image. It’s not ironic; it’s sexist and wrong in its assumptions of how men and women work.

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