Clothing and the way people treat you

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Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Avistew » 28 Mar 2012, 15:51

I figured it was pretty off-topic in the Menswear thread so I thought I'd start a new topic. This isn't restricted to how females wear but it is what I'm going to start with because that's what I have experience with.

First of all, I want to make it clear that I'm not talking about rape here. Not only are most rapes committed by someone familiar with the victim anyway, not only is rape about power, not sexual attraction, but I personally don't see a big link between finding someone attractive and raping them. I think there is a big leap here.

On the other hand, I think the way you dress is the way people will see you, and I don't see a big leap between seeing and looking. Your eyes can certainly drift without your thinking about it (happens to me all the time), while I doubt this is possible of sexual assault.

I was interested when in the Menswear section Matt referred to looking (specifically men looking at women, but I believe it can be seen in any gender combination) as something undesirable.
I am curious about it and thought more people might have thoughts on that note, but not specifically be reading the Menswear thread.

As I mentioned in that thread, I was once at a convention and started feeling terrible about myself. I'll actually clarify the succession of events better here:

- At the convention, I have a good time but starts losing a lot of self-esteem for no apparent reason.
- My husband asks about it, I think about it and say that not one man has found me attractive so far. At that point I can't explain what I mean, but it's obvious to me that they don't look at me with any appreciation, despite being quite polite and friendly otherwise.
- Over the course of the rest of the convention, I realise it is because none of them looks at my body. They all look at me straight in the eyes. They don't advert their eyes either like they're shy, or look down and away from me, both of which I would have still interpreted as them finding me attractive, but being embarrassed by it for whatever reason.
This is true of both males and females, however it hurts me more from males, mostly because I have very little experience interacting with females, but quite likely also because I'm straight.
- I tell my husband my new finding, he says people are just being polite because we're quite obviously together. I fail to see how any of this is polite and don't completely believe him.


Now, I have had times when I wanted to be seen as genderless, devoid of sexual traits, and if I couldn't achieve that by being online I dressed in ways that would desexualise me.
I never really did it consciously, but I have analysed it all since, and it makes perfect sense to me.

I don't think it is reasonable to ask someone not to look at you. I think it's close to asking them not to see the parts of you you are showing to them. It's easy to hide them if you don't want them seen. Way easier than expecting everyone to pretend they're not there. What makes that attitude (pretending they're not there) desirable, and why associate it with respect? Does anyone have an answer to this?

Now, I'm not saying that if a part of you can be seen, it's up for grabs (metaphorically or literally). There are plenty of parts of me I show not because I want to showcase them, but because I don't care if people see them. For instance, armpit hair. I really don't push it forward but at the same time what do I care if people see it or look at it? My only problem is when people are rude about it (generally by telling me I'm dirty, insinuating that I don't take proper care of myself or explaining that there are children present, like it's somehow obscene or something).

To me, it's like wearing a necklace, for instance. You might want to show it off, or just not really care one way or the other. But if you want to make sure people don't see it or look at it, you either don't wear it or wear it under your clothes. It just seems like basic stuff to me.

I'm not limiting that to part that are considered sexual, either. I guess one exception would be the face, because you can't easily hide your face, so if you have a scar, burn or something on it, you might want people to ignore that because they are supposed to assume you would have hidden it if it had been on another part of your body. I have some scars, for instance, and if I don't cover them I know it means I'm allowing other people to see them and look at them, and possibly ask about them.

I don't really understand what the fuss is about, I guess. Clothes are meant to hide people. Most of the time, everyone could be absolutely naked, except in parts of the world with very tought weather. You put clothes on to hide your body, and which clothes you put on are based on your decision of what you want to hide and what you want to show. It doesn't seem reasonable to expect people not to see the part you are showing to them on purpose.

Now, I'm not saying that by wearing these clothes it means you WANT them to look, but I assume it means at the least, you don't really give a shit if they look or not, because it's so easy to hide it. To me, a woman said "he looked at my chest! How dare he!" is similar to complaining that someone looked at your shirt design (the image at the front).

Anyway, looking forward to explanations, mostly from people who are the wearers (you don't have to be female. If you're a male who goes shirtless or close to and expects people not to look, you are free to comment on your reasoning as well. I'm absolutely not excluding males here.)
Comments from viewers rather that wearers are fine too if you understand the whole thing.

Oh, and this part is for mods: do you think we should move or copy the related posts in this thread too, or is it not needed?

[Matt edit: context merged in below]


I don't know about the shooting in question. However I do believe that some of the fashion and other cultural aspect that are predominantly black (such as the rap community) were meant to seem aggressive, in order to reclaim the power they usually don't have. The reasoning was something like "sure, I don't have money, I don't have connexions in high places, and people don't respect me as much... But I have my body and I can use it to gain respect"

Obviously, it sucks that it was needed in the first place, but I think it does make sense that it has an intimidating connotation because it was meant to be so.
Now, the real question is whether someone who is white and dressed the same way gets the same reactions or not.

I also think it depends heavily on the viewer's experiences. In my school lots of teens made these kinds of fashion statements, and so I don't think of it as something negative because I was around lots of people dressed that way, none of which were particularly aggressive (well there were a few bullies, but schools without bullies are rare).

Anyways, I do understand the idea that it's a "blame the victim thing". On the other hand I also agree that the way you dress sends a message and you should be aware of it. To shirt the conversation from black people to women (because I'm a woman and not black, so I feel more comfortable talking about that), you can wear a turtle neck or a deep cleavage, but you can't expect the same reaction from people if you wear one or the other. It doesn't mean people have to consider you a prude or a slut, and they shouldn't disrespect you, but you are sending a different message. I also don't think you have a right to be upset if people look at your breasts if you wear clothes that are basically at least a permission to look, if not an invitation. I mean if you don't want people to look at some body parts of yours, it's very easy to hide them.
Then again, it doesn't give them the right to be rude about it.
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Re: Menswear

Postby Matt » 28 Mar 2012, 16:04

Eh, men are not (or should not be) slaves to our penises. You are entitled to a reasonable expectation that men you encounter don't (or shouldn't) act like leering perverts around you even if you do wear a shirt with a plunging neck line. As such, if the men you encounter while wearing such a shirt don't afford you the respect of treating you like a human being, rather than a walking pair of breasts, it is not unreasonable to be upset about it. It's not your fault the men in question were being neanderthals.

Same goes for the race question. Yes, clothes make a statement. But that statement in conjunction with your race does not entitle another person to fucking murder you in the street.

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Re: Menswear

Postby Avistew » 28 Mar 2012, 16:20

I agree with you. I've just heard women complain that guys just look, and I'm like "hey, I look too! It's right here!" but that doesn't mean you should treat them badly or anything, and that has nothing to do with being slave to once penis, I have no interest in females, but when their breasts are on display it's really a matter of curiosity more that sexual attraction (for me at least).
If your eyes stay there, if you make disparaging comments, of if you treat the female without due respect, then yeah, you're in the wrong, but I've always been baffled by people who go "Hey, I wore clothes that put this part of me on display and people actually look at it!"

Similarly, if you wear very conservative clothes, it doesn't give people the right to call you a stick in the mud, a prude and say you should loosen up. I wasn't trying to say one outfit was any less respectable than the other, just that they send a message. Wearing a bikini can mean you're on the beach (although even then, it's a personal choice to wear that. I don't like people looking at my upper legs so I only wear swimming shorts, for instance. On the other hand I like people looking at my chest, so I wear a bra-top rather than a shirt-top).
But if you're in a bikini and not in the beach, of course people are going to assume you're looking for attention. You can't expect people to be treated exactly the same way if they show up at, say, a job interview while wearing clothes that are obviously not means for that.
If you only pass them in the street, on the other hand, you can think whatever you want, but telling them about it is rude, because it's none of your business what they want to wear.

And man, no, it doesn't allow anyone to murder anyone. That's absolutely not what I was talking about, as I said in my post I didn't know about the shooting so I made my point independently of that. Obviously you shouldn't shoot people who aren't actively trying to hurt you or someone else, I assumed that much was obvious.
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Re: Menswear

Postby Matt » 28 Mar 2012, 16:51

My last post may have come off a little hostile, sorry about that.

I guess that for the most part all the complaints I ever hear about men looking are about men looking too long, or sneaking looks, or staring and whatnot, and it's actually kind of dehumanising men to frame the situation as though "men will be men" in that regard and that women shouldn't feel angry at men who indulge those base desires.

Well, I disagree. That hypothetical man is being an asshole, and you have every right to be angry at him, even if you are wearing a low cut top.

I dunno about women, but I try to dress in a way that I think looks good, and that says the things about me that I want to say. I want to look sharp, and put together, and while I might buy clothes that accentuate, say, my butt, I'm not necessarily inviting women to salivate over it by doing so. I'm probably not even thinking of where women are going to be looking when I get dressed.

It seems to me that you should be able to dress in a way you like, and which makes you feel good about how you look, whatever that means, without necessarily inviting men to drop their eyeballs down your cleavage.

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Re: Menswear

Postby Avistew » 28 Mar 2012, 17:15

It might be a cultural thing. My first time going to V-con, I got very depressed, and my husband asked me what was wrong, and I told him I had never felt as ugly in my whole life: even though I was wearing a nice top, every single man I had talked to looked at me in the eyes the whole time. Not one of them looked at my breasts. I felt completely un-womanly, like I had no gender anymore, like I was just a robot or something. It was terrible for my self-esteem.
Once he told me they were probably just trying to be polite, I felt a bit better, although it took me a while to realise he wasn't lying to protect my feelings and that maybe they were trying to be polite.
I don't find it polite. I find it insulting. If I try to look good for you, the least you could do is look so I can feel appreciated.

Clothes aren't something you see on yourself. Apart from comfort, they're obviously meant for other people.

Now, it was only that much of a shock because I was at a convention and interacting with a lot of people. I had never thought of myself as someone who cared what other people thought, but the way men looked at me, only relatives had every looked at me like that, and it made me feel completely de-sexualised. Metaphorically, I felt like my breasts had been cut off.

I understand being upset that people are ignoring what you say because they're too busy staring. Or that there is a length of time past which looking at your body while you are talking to them is a bit creepy. But I don't think I'll never understand why anyone would want people to pretend they aren't attractive, and what's polite about it.

Of course people can control themselves. I always found it ridiculous when people say men rape because they're men and they can't control it, and you shouldn't tempt them. Of course men can control themselves. But if they're straight, you don't want them to feel nothing Or if you do, you don't wear clothes that say "please look at my breasts" (or legs, I guess, although it's possible to wear clothes that show your legs because it's really hot outside, while clothes that show your breasts make no such difference for the wearer's comfort).

So I'll give it to you that if looking at attractive people you meet is an action that is see as undesirable, this whole conversation sounds like blaming the victim. But then, I don't understand a) why it would be undesirable and b) what other reasons someone could have to wear such clothing, if they do find it undesirable. I mean, I've had time I didn't want my body stared at. I sure as hell didn't wear the same kind of clothes as when I want it to be.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby TheRocket » 28 Mar 2012, 18:45

And here I thought this was another Trayvon Martin discussion.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Matt » 28 Mar 2012, 18:45

Bah, I merged the threads, and it bumped your OP out of order. :(

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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby TheRocket » 28 Mar 2012, 18:46

MY MIND JUST GOT BLOWN.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby TheRocket » 28 Mar 2012, 18:47

I read the OP and then replied and then the OP became about Trayvon and I thought I just was doing the internet horribly wrong.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Matt » 28 Mar 2012, 18:54

Trayvon was just a jumping off point.

He's not the actual subject of the thread. I'll fix.

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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby theDreamer » 28 Mar 2012, 19:10

QED:

Merging threads is bad.

Alternatively- Matt can't be trusted with the internet.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Matt » 28 Mar 2012, 19:13

I fixed it!

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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Tally » 28 Mar 2012, 20:47

To Avistew's question, I don't mind people looking at me and what I'm wearing, as I generally put some kind of thought into my appearance and sure, it's nice for it to be noticed. And nowadays, when I make a lot of what I wear, I straight up want people to notice and react to it. However, I've been a very privileged and lucky woman in that, with the exception of a few passing instances that happily did not turn into incidents, I've never been in a situation where I really felt threatened by someone looking at me, having thus far escaped the kind of violent (whether in word or deed) incidents that many people do experience at some point. I imagine if I'd had those sorts of experiences I might feel differently about people noticing my appearance. I've also never lived anyplace where I was a visible minority, which might also change my feelings on the matter.

However, even in the context of the opinions I've formed from my thus far safe and privileged existence, there's also a line between people appreciating your appearance as one part of a whole, and people paying attention to nothing but your appearance and dismissing everything else that makes you you.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Tally » 28 Mar 2012, 21:14

Here's a slightly different train of clothing-related thought, and it's just me rambling through my thoughts aloud.

People have judged and been judged based on their appearance (whether the physical body, or the clothing worn on it, or both) since time immemorial. Since vision is such a central feature of our existence and our experience of the world, this is pretty much unavoidable. And throughout history clothing has always been indicative of something, whether class, cultural or racial or geographical background, social status, career path, allegiance, personal taste, personal interests, etc.

In some cases, we ought to judge people less based on their dress. However, assessing another's appearance is a perfectly natural way of gathering initial data about them - the problem is when it has too much impact (or especially a negative impact) on how we then behave towards them.

In some cases it's just harmless small talk. I mean, if I see a stranger wearing an Asterix and Obelix shirt, I'm going to know right away that we have a common, if minor, interest, share some of the same knowledge and experiences, and might even start a conversation about it. Or if I see someone wearing a shirt with some racial slur printed on it, I know we are probably not going to get along, and I probably don't want to bother trying anyway. Negative in this case, but fair, from my point of view.

And there are times when it would be categorically unwise not to assess people based on their clothing. Like if a guy dressed in all black and a ski mask comes running at me, I'm probably gonna try to get out of the way, even though I don't know anything else about him and maybe he's just running to get to his grandma's funeral and the ski mask is because his there's a really cold wind. It's possible, but I'm not going to bank on it, and who would fault me for that? If a woman dressed in a police officer's uniform comes up to me, I'm going to pay particular attention to what she says and be particularly respectful. If a guy in a paramedics uniform tells me to move out of the way, I'll do it without asking why. If I'm in a store and I need help with something, well I'll look for a person wearing a store uniform or a nametag. Appearance is information. How could it not be? Sometimes it's not the information we first think it is, and that can be a danger, but it's always some kind of information.

The world is an interesting place, full of people. People are fascinating, and people are visual. They have an appearance. We see them. So who on earth could avoid noticing and looking at the people around them? We just need to balance that with respecting and noticing the other things that make up a person as well.

That was very rambly, and probably sounded like some 1st year psych student attempting to wax deeply philosophical. Back to crafting now.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby tak197 » 28 Mar 2012, 22:01

First: Trayvon Martin's death was a tragedy and it is still a long road before this gets put to rest. However, the shooter may only be CLAIMING the self-defense/overzealous Neighborhood Watch thing so it doesn't seem like he did it in cold blood. But we don't know the whole story yet, because there are new attorneys and investigators looking into everything. That said, baggy hoodies have always been seen as a symbol of hooliganism, because it makes it easier to hide things you are stealing. It is like that in the UK with chavs and slags, and it's like that here.

As for the clothing and oogling thing, it's so complicated that it's something I can't discuss at this hour with little sleep. I'll come back to this later.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Psyclone » 28 Mar 2012, 22:21

On the other hand, baggy hoodies are the best thing to wear when you would much rather be in bed. It's like a bed you can take with you.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Duckay » 29 Mar 2012, 14:59

I've long held that there is a relationship between clothes and looking, but it's not as direct as all that. If a person (such as me) is wearing jeans that I feel flatter my derriere, I'm not holding it against someone if they look. However, it is still extremely offensive when they leer, or if they go on to treat me disrespectfully based on that. You see the distinction?

I've had interesting experiences with clothes over the years - in a variety of ways. A key one was that a few months ago, I went to work wearing a fairly typical winter work outfit for me - t-shirt, hoodie, nice jeans. Then I was told that instead of sitting around the house with the client, I was going to be taking them to a juvenile justice meeting. I suddenly felt pretty uncomfortable about my clothes, but not quite as uncomfortable as I felt when I got there and, while waiting for the client to finish their meeting, was mistaken for a "juvenile offender" myself no less than three times. All I could think of was, well, I guess in fairness, how many young people in jeans and hoodies sit around the office if they aren't? And there's worse problems than having someone ask you about your juvenile delinquency. But it still felt rough because I was very aware of my poor choice in clothing that day.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Season's Beatings » 31 Mar 2012, 13:53

Okay okay okay tangentially related but.

I work in a sub shop. That means a lot of customer interaction. In particular a rather large customer who likes to wear VERY low cut tops. This woman hates me. This woman thinks I am a pervert. Why? Because she interprets me looking down to make her goddamn sandwich as me staring at her 9" by 9" border of cleavage. Fuckin' don't flatter yourself lady. I'm just doing my job. But no, she gives me evil looks andher big bastard boyfriend gets all pissed off too. All based not on the proof but on the assumption that I stare at her gaping chest meat.

So I'm one complaint away from getting fired and an ass kicking all because this stupid bint wants men to stare but doesn't like it when they do. Top notch, females of the universe.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Tally » 31 Mar 2012, 14:07

Breasts are, in general, aesthetically pleasing to look at, regardless of feelings for or about the individual to whom they are attached. Taken on their own, simply as objects in the world, breasts are pretty. Not even necessarily sexual (can be, but not always) but just attractive.

Basically what I'm saying is that I totally look at cleavage too when it's in front of me. A little bit like the way I'd notice and look at pretty flowers, or a kitten, or a colourful painting when I walk into a room containing any of those things. Which I think is fine, but of course as Duckay says, there's a big difference between that and doing something like leering.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Season's Beatings » 31 Mar 2012, 14:10

The problem is I actively don't do either. I just do my job. I don't need management firing me over something that isn't true cause the newest in a batch of "Welfare Reforms" is if you get fired, you can't get welfare since its obviously your fault. But people assume that I leer simply because I have a penis. Then by extrapolation, I want my penis in them. Women can generally get away with a quick look at cleavage.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Metcarfre » 31 Mar 2012, 14:17

Season's Beatings wrote: I don't need management firing me over something that isn't true cause the newest in a batch of "Welfare Reforms" is if you get fired, you can't get welfare since its obviously your fault.

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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Season's Beatings » 31 Mar 2012, 14:19

Along with other wonderful reforms such as if you're a single mother and your baby is 6 months old, back into the workforce you go.

I fucking love that my people were dumb enough to vote the conservatives back in.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Metcarfre » 31 Mar 2012, 14:23

Remind me never to move to America.
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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Season's Beatings » 31 Mar 2012, 14:30

Lol no.

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Re: Clothing and the way people treat you

Postby Metcarfre » 31 Mar 2012, 14:39

Still...
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