Reader tsara left the following comment on a post about the modesty doctrine and rape culture:
…seriously, guys actually think that women dress for them? What sort of thought processes do they imagine go into picking out clothing? For me it’s mostly
‘is this clean?’
‘does it more or less match’
‘will my mother say it makes me look like an old woman with too many cats’
‘would I get looked at funny for walking around the mall like this’
‘is it comfortable enough to wear all day’
‘is it situation-appropriate’
‘is it weather-appropriate’
‘does it reveal the fact that I haven’t shaved my armpits/legs in way too long’
‘is my hair going to get caught in the zipper/buttons’
‘is my bra visible through my shirt’
‘do my pants stay up without a belt’
‘do I flash people when I bend over’
‘where did that nice shirt go — why can I never find anything’
‘these pantyhose have a run in them — can’t wear a skirt’
‘this shirt is getting see-through — why are girl-clothes so flimsy’
Girl-clothes are complicated. I, personally, am not a particularly ‘on top of things’ sort of person and just getting dressed in appropriate clothes requires way too much thought to add the variable of ‘what will dudes think of me in this’. Mind you, I’m also asexual and things like that just don’t (usually) occur to me. I will think of ‘will this make people stare at me’, but sexual attraction-related thoughts tend to come somewhere after clothing-related doomsday scenarios.
Also, I will sometimes say ‘I give up’ and go with, I don’t know, sweatpants and a corset because I like sweatpants and I like corsets and I sometimes just don’t have the energy to think of everything. (Seventeen years of school uniforms, plus ADD and sporadic depression, in case you’re wondering.)
I think tsara makes an excellent point, and it’s one I plan to follow up on in some future posts. There seems to be a subset of men that assumes that women dress always and solely for the benefit of the men around them, and this seems to feed into both the idea that women are fair game for public consumption (think street harassment) and the idea that women should be dressing for men, but so as to avoid men’s attention and not vice versa (think the modesty doctrine).
So I have to ask. What goes through your head when you get dressed? What considerations do you weigh? Do you dress only for yourself, and when do you dress for others? And guys, how about you? A comparison might be interesting.