So a friend uploaded this photo on Facebook.
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.