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"Dressing" for the occasion?

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Opinion | September 20th, 2010

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
I guess in some ways, I'm still really like a little kid. At the tender age of 26, I still jump on any excuse I have to get all glam-ed up and spend a night out on the town. But unlike the "modern woman," to me, putting on my "Sunday's best" is not equated with finding a napkin-sized piece of fabric to cram my bits and curves into. Accordingly, I'm one of the few (it would seem) dames that harkens back to a time when the expression "it's better to leave something up to the imagination" was abided by.

Now, I suppose you could blame my mother for exposing me to the "finer things" in life as a young child (by way of mandatory etiquette training), but I don't see anything wrong with taking pride in one's personal grooming habits; moreover, I don't claim any issue with the idea of presenting oneself as "classy" or "respectable." Perhaps if more women went this route (and I'm sorry if I'm being harsh on you ladies, but this is for your own good), the media AND men wouldn't feel so entitled to constantly objectify us (but that's a whole 'nother discussion in itself).

I think it goes without saying that the advent of the micro mini deserves a sizable amount of blame in this whole equation, but where things really went awry was in the late 1970s with the coming of the so-called "sexual revolution."

At one point in its glory days, the Western white women's fight for equality and liberation — a battle against a discriminating social structure (i.e.: patriarchy) - was a unified movement known by the now-blacklisted word "feminism." Somewhere along the lines, extremist parties formed within this movement leading to divisiveness in regards to both the feminist agenda and feminist message. What started out as a simple request by women to be recognized as persons (oh we're so demanding!) and therefore entitled to human rights (much the same way African Americans fought for their civil liberties) became a battle largely between two opposing forces: 1) the radicals (i.e.: those who, in the most extreme cases, insist on lesbian relationships, and the avoidance of marriage as it further entrenches women into the patriarchal social structure) and 2) the liberals (i.e.: those who are to blame for the enactment of such things as Ontario's "topless" legislation); it is the latter group that is of interest to this article.

Influenced by the "free-love" ideals of the hippie era, the liberals subscribed to Hugh Hefner and Playboy's vision of the "new woman": embracing strip-teasing, flashing, exhibitionism and self-objectification as an indication of their brand of "empowerment." Despite buying into and perpetuating the VERY SAME submissive, sexually-available (more importantly, EASY), and unsophisticated image of women that had been DESIGNED BY and FOR men, the liberals somehow rationalized to themselves that because they were now the ones "owning" this image, they were now in charge of it. If we simply look to the unrealistic beauty standards and expectations that continue to be thrust upon women by the media (we should especially note the genders of the CEOs of these media outlets), and the incidence of cosmetic surgery, not to mention eating disorders among the fairer sex, I think it goes without saying that these "libers" were wrong.

But even taking this bit of complicated social history out of the picture, honestly, as a female AND someone who is very clear in her own heterosexuality, when a woman's got all her goods on display for the world to see, even I have difficulty staring her in the face, so how could I expect anything less from straight members of the opposite sex?

The point I'm trying to make is "dressing up" has become synonymous with "dressing down" or, in fact, wearing close to nothing at all. And, my friend, what you wear has consequences (i.e.: unwanted attention for one thing, not to mention the judgments and assumptions that go along with certain wardrobe choices). Don't get me wrong, I've got a few miniskirts and clingy numbers that accentuate my body that I will whip out upon occasion, but there's a time and place for everything.

While I thought it went without saying, it would seem some of you need a reminder: if a clothing item is found in the boudoir section of a store, it likely means that's where it is supposed to be worn. Class it up, girlfriends. Lingerie and low-cut shirts equals inappropriate for the academic environment, just the same as ripped jeans and Axel Rose bandanas should NEVER (I repeat, NEVER) be worn to the theatre.
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