On glittery boobs and translating clothing into meaning

On glittery boobs and translating clothing into meaning May 30, 2013

Trigger Warnings on this post and the links in it for rape and violence against oppressed groups

UPDATE: I’ve closed the comments section for this post because I don’t even wanna know what’s going on down there anymore! Everybody (including myself) be accusing everybody of everything, and no one is discussing the actual content anymore. Anyone who still wants to chat can pack it up and move it to Twitter.

Today I read a post on the blog  Rage Against the Minivan (which I don’t read often, but usually appreciate and agree with) that honestly made me, well, rage. Against Rage Against the Minivan. I’m here to talk about that, because I think the post in question is actually really harmful and, to quote the author of the post, the post “isn’t a roundhouse kick to rape culture.” In fact, I think it unintentionally supports rape culture. It makes me nervous though, not only to see a post like this on a website that I usually agree with, but to see many people that I also usually agree with sharing and promoting this post.

So, sit down, fellow Christians. We really need to talk.

If you haven’t read the post (and I suggest you do read it for context’s sake, but trigger warning because it contains victim blaming language and a video that uses derogatory language toward women/sex workers), the author (who is a woman) tells a story about going to the bar with some friends and seeing another woman there who was wearing a low-cut top with glitter on her chest. The woman with the low-cut top caught the author’s male friend staring and told him off for it. The author’s response?

Let me say it again. She had glitter. On her tits.

What she did isn’t an act of female empowerment. It isn’t a roundhouse kick to rape culture. She set a trap and blew a gasket when my friend fell into it.

This is a post by someone who claims to be anti-rape culture and anti-modesty culture referring to women’s bodies as traps. 

She continues to assert that her male friend is a “pretty nice guy” and says:

But when a woman wears revealing clothing, then gets angry when men notice, that’s not cool either. It makes her a hypocrite . . . Women can wear whatever they like. I’m just asking that they not treat all men like predators when it gets noticed.

This whole post ended up reminding me of the Christian dating books I’ve been researching (which reminds me, I need to get on with that series don’t I?), especially the book Dateable, which tells women, “if you dress like a piece of meat, you’re gonna get thrown on the BBQ.” Though neither the author of this post, nor the authors of Dateable promote rape and sexual assault, they both blatantly tell women that their clothing choices can forfeit their right to bodily autonomy. Rapists and those who support them use THE SAME thinking to get away with rape and it works. Time and time again it works.

This line of thinking doesn’t start with “that girl in the mini-skirt was asking to be raped.” It starts small. It starts with the idea that women don’t have the right to define their clothing choices. It starts with the idea that clothing can take away someone’s right to complain when they feel violated. It starts there.

Clothing is a form of communication. I think we need to talk about that.

But we have to start with the fact that clothing is not a universal language. So, if it’s not universal, who is doing the translating? We need to ask that question. Too often, the answer is privileged people in power.

This happens to women often. They don’t have the right to define their clothing for themselves, and instead have to submit to definitions that serve men in power and take away women’s autonomy. Definitions like, “Glitter boobs means you’re a whore. Glitter boobs mean you’re asking for men to stare. Glitter boobs mean you don’t get to express yourself when you feel a line was crossed between normal attention and ‘creepiness.'”

It also happens to other oppressed groups.  People in power translating clothing into meaning often leads to sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, classism, and religious persecution. People in power translating clothing into meaning often leads to violence.

Women facing victim-blaming because of what they were wearing during their rape.

George Zimmerman’s defense trying to use the fact that Trayvon Martin had gold caps for his teeth as proof that Martin was dangerous.

The hate crimes that Muslim and Sikh people face because of the head-coverings they wear. 

The media talking about trans* people who suffer from violence and murder as “oddly dressed.”

Do you think this justification of violence based on clothing starts with these extremes? I don’t.

I think it starts when we say that oppressed groups don’t have the right to define their clothing. I think it starts when we say that a person wearing a certain outfit can’t get mad when her boundaries are violated. I think it starts when, like Dianna Anderson says, we fail to trust these people to know the difference between normal attention and something that violates their boundaries. I think it starts when we assume the worst of under-privileged groups based on their clothing, while assuming the best of the “nice” privileged people who made them feel uncomfortable.

People–especially those in groups that face systemic violence–have the right to express discomfort. They have the right to “shame” those that they feel violated by. YES, even if they have glitter on their boobs. A truly “nice” guy who truly means no harm will respect that, apologize, and look away.

Saying that clothing can take away the right to bodily autonomy is dangerous, and it is participating it rape culture.

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  • The use of the word ‘tits’ really bothered me. It feels like a shaming word. Like she’s deliberately demeaning the woman with her language. No respect for the glittery woman. Apparently glittery cleavage means giving up your right to be upset when men stare, AND your right to be talked about with respect by other women. The author wasn’t even there, btw. The story was apparently relayed to her by the nice guy whom the woman blew a gasket at.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      The use of the word “tits” really bothered me too. I hate that word. I mean, I guess it’s not always demeaning, but it usually is. This context made it seem especially demeaning. The author posts a video at the end that calls women “whores” too, so I’m guessing she’s not too concerned with avoiding language that demeans women.

      • Yep. Maybe tits is an okay word for one’s own body, because hey, call your body parts whatever you’d like!

        But a stranger’s? No. That word is generally derogatory and was used so the readers would know she deserved it.

  • Thank you! I so appreciate these points, especially the “entrapment” part!

  • Yes, yes, and Amen. To all of this. The post was super unsettling and you articulated the reasons why very well.

  • Erika

    I don’t know necessarily know from many girls perspectives, but if I’m going out, I dress for myself. I dress to make myself feel better or dress how I feel like dressing. I’m not dressing for other people’s sake. Glitter and contouring is actually a way to make a woman’s breasts look bigger, and if that’s what a woman wants, then that’s up to her.

    • Hannah_Thomas

      I have to be honest – I’m not done thinking about both the articles. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

      That being said – sadly society seems to tell women their breasts need to look bigger at times to be attractive. When you use glitter and coutouring to me she buys into the lie that she isn’t awesome just the way she is. Then you have the other end of this – those that seem to judge your character if you are (to use their term) ‘built’ like Dolly Parton. Both ends of these extremes tend to tell women they aren’t beautiful just the way they are. This bothers me to no end.

      I wasn’t at the bar in question,but if I were guessing from her reaction? He did a bit more than just ‘notice’ the glitter. I think most women can empathize with getting unwanted attention, and that doesn’t have to be a drooling, uncontrollable stare at breasts (lol yes I played the extreme card here!). People pretend they don’t know the difference – a big issue for me.

      I would assume if you place glitter on your breasts in a low cut tee you want them noticed, but not drooled over. Maybe I’m old, but glitter from what I remember attracts the eye due to the twinkle. That certainly does NOT give permission to be rude even if someone feels she is overexposed. Its still rude, and quite frankly they act like ‘little boys’ when they do it. I will never BUY that is an okay to rape someone, or they are asking for a sexual partner (like you read some claim its some form of advertising). This also ties into people claiming they don’t know the difference.

      I don’t know WHY, but I have this visual in my head about men wearing those pants 1/2 way down their butt…lol with boxers! My teenage son tried to do that one day. I warned him if he doesn’t pull up the pants? I will do what comes natural in this circumstance (for this mother anyway) – either pull them UP for him, or PULL them down to send a message! He will have to see which happens when the mood strikes!

  • another thought. you can’t give a roundhouse kick to rape culture. it’s a sneaky, oozy, dangerous thought process that has invaded people’s minds and the very fabric of culture (excuse my mixed up metaphors…). it has to be shaken out and aired out one bit of poisoned air at a time. that’s kind of what talking and dressing both work to do. so….
    Go glittery, busty lady! i support your right to do that!

  • I’m uncomfortable, too . . . with the way you are parsing pieces of the post and then adding your own interpretation. I think you are really twisting her words. I truly, truly hope that people will go read the post in it’s entirety before they just buy the narrative you are infusing into it.

    Sharideth CLEARLY SAID women have the right to wear what they want, and even affirmed the glittery boobs. Direct quote: “Women can wear whatever they like. I’m just asking that they not treat all men like predators when it gets noticed.” That’s her point. Full stop. Do you not agree? I’d love to hear you address her ACTUAL point instead of the ones you are putting in her mouth.

    We’re on the same side here, and I’m so, so bummed that you are calling this post “victim-blaming” when, over and over, the author makes statements against it.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      She also CLEARLY SAID that a woman asking a man to stop staring at her when she has glitter on her boobs is “hypocritcal.” What I got from the post was “Women can wear what ever they want, but if they wear certain things then they can’t complain when they feel creeped out by men staring. Also, whore’s uniforms, lol!”

    • sarahoverthemoon

      I hope people read the post in its entirety as well and I encouraged people to do so. I read it multiple times before writing this.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      Also, and finally, no I would not agree. If a woman gets the vibe that a man is a predator, she has the right to be cautious and angry (after all, we live in a country where someone is raped/sexually assaulted every 2 minutes). I trust women to make that distinction.

    • I read it in its entirety MULTIPLE times. And I was totally offended. It is like my students used to say, “No disrespect, but…” or when racist things are prefaced with, “I’m not racist, but…” saying, “women can do whatever they want BUT…” does not make whatever you’re about to say okay. I found much of the glittery boob post disturbing and I wrote more about why here http://www.dirtydiaperchic.com/2013/05/no-disrespect-miss.html

      • I had the same reaction to Sharideth’s post, and was really glad to see pushback from other bloggers. Sharideth used incredibly troubling language and I’m equally uncomfortable with the behavior I’ve seen employed in her defense.

    • I think my confusion was whether or not his staring WAS inappropriate. Clearly the woman in the story thought it was, or she maybe would have been asked to leave the bar if she was screaming at everyone for no good reason.

      The question for me is: does she have a right to determine when someone is going beyond “noticing” and say something? Absolutely yes.

      She had no way of knowing whether or not this strange dude was a decent guy or not. All she had was his behavior, which clearly crossed her boundaries. I’m sorry this dude’s feelings were hurt, but I think it’s risky to shame this woman for “entrapment.”

      • sarahoverthemoon

        “She had no way of knowing whether or not this strange dude was a decent guy or not. All she had was his behavior, which clearly crossed her boundaries.” Indeed. Crowded bars can be a dangerous place. I respect her right to “err” on the side of caution.

    • Here are some of the phrases you’ve attributed to Sharideth, alongside what she actually said.


      • sarahoverthemoon

        You’re not going to address how she both said that women get upset at men who stare are “hypocrites” (which denies them the right to have a say over how men react to their dress) and the fact that she posted a video that used the phrase “whore’s outfit” to describe women’s clothing? No?

        • I posted the video. And the picture from Arrested Development. Because I thought they were funny.

      • sarahoverthemoon

        Taking my critique of the themes that come across in her post, accusing me of “attributing phrases” to Sharideth (I never once attributed a phrase to Sharideth that she did not say), and never addressing the phrases she ACTUALLY said that I actually had a problem with is VERY sloppy and uncool.

        • I don’t think you are merely critiquing the themes, I think you are attributing the themes. Whether you want to call it phrases or themes, it’s semantics: You’ve put words out there she didn’t say, and I think the spreadsheet objectively shows how far you’re reaching.

          I said this before and I’ll say it again: we’re on the same side here. I’m not arguing you main premise. “Saying that clothing can take away the right to bodily autonomy is dangerous, and it is participating it rape culture.” I AGREE. But Sharideth didn’t say that.

          Since you’ve banned me from commenting – I guess I’ll clarify via editing this comment. I’ve not lied. I used your exact “interpretation of themes” side-by-side with what Sharideth said. Your words, her words. I fail to see how this is lying.

          Also, in regards to my “bigger fan base” you reference below, I’ve tried really hard to be respectful of that by engaging you here, instead of on my blog. I uploaded the image on a Tumblr instead of my own blog. I’ve not sent readers with pitchforks over here by any means. I’ve responded to your tweets directly instead of talking about you generally to everyone on twitter (as you’ve done to me), and I’ve avoided linking to this post altogether to avoid a pile-on. I think I’ve been respectful and matched both the tone and level of engagement that YOU’VE initiated. I’m quite troubled by the bully/victim narrative you are weaving on twitter over a debate that you both started and continued to fan.

          From where I’m sitting, you left numerous comments on my blog, wrote (and linked to me) in a post, and talked about me both directly and indirectly on twitter. You seem quite comfortable with confrontation when you are doing the confronting. And yet when I’ve responded/defended, you’ve intimated that I’m being abusive (and banned me from commenting on a post where I am the subject, which I find lacking in terms of integrity). I don’t know how to take your behavior,and I suspect that some of it isn’t even about me. But as I said on twitter, if you find it triggering to have someone respond to your public criticism of them, maybe you shouldn’t initiate.

          • sarahoverthemoon

            Yeah, I think we’re done here. You don’t get to lie to your FAR bigger base of followers, accusing me of attributing phrases to Sharideth that I NEVER claimed were anyones but my own, and then turn around and accuse me of being the one to twist words.

          • So does “bodily autonomy” include the right to speak up when uncomfortable with someone looking at you, regardless of what you are wearing or not wearing, or no? I think this is where you and Sarah are departing in a major way.

          • the barrage of rapid fire tweets last night from you to sarah (some all caps and sarcastic) did seem bullying to me, and that amplified as others joined you in making fun of her for feeling triggered, not by reasoned critique or wild imagining but unfounded accusation, pile on, and a styling that came across (to me) as both guns-out and sanctimonious.

            you’ve unfairly accused sarah of intentionally misrepresenting sharideth and attributing phrases when she has misquoted nothing and explicitly said she believes that the post’s harmful themes were unintentional. sharideth’s/your content and its underlying messages are the subject of this post, not you or her personally. you are the one who has assigned motives and refused to engage the content of her criticism. for someone who is so concerned about sharideth’s words being misconstrued, you have taken a great deal of liberties with sarah’s.

      • GRCTW

        The problem is most of “what she actually said” is followed by “but…” statements.
        Let’s look at the very first item on the list from the tumblr graphic. “The [idea that] the responsibility of causing men not to stumble face first into motorboating lies solely on the way women dress and carry themselves…is a steaming pile.” She continues ” Not only is it impossible for me to completely conceal what my mama gave me, I don’t want to. Which means I also have to be cool with it when men notice.”

        You say she doesn’t use victim blaming language, but she said “Which means I also have to be cool with it when men notice.”

        Whether she meant it to or not, I think the piece reads as purity culture reinforcement.

  • Sharideth

    I’ve never seen such a gross interpretation of my words.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      Is there another way to interpret your calling women’s bodies “traps,” calling women “whores” (or at least saying they’re wearing “whore’s outfits), and saying that women who don’t want men staring at them are “hypocrites?”

    • Can you explain more, Sharideth? I know you got a lot of comments, but I think Sarah made a sincere attempt to discuss some of contradictory problems with your piece. Any response beyond this?

    • Multiple people have interpreted your words the same way. Perhaps that merits some re-evaluation.

      • And multiple people (500+) have shared it on facebook. So I don’t think a numbers game is necessarily the way to determine the merits of an argument.

        • I am not making a numbers argument. I am making the point that if multiple people see the same thing Sarah saw, the issue is not Sarah’s interpretation, but the communication of the original author. Sarah does not have a reading comprehension problem. This is freshman composition 101 stuff. Clear communication is the responsibility of the author.

          I’ve read your stuff for awhile now, Kristen, and am somewhat surprised to see you digging in your heels like this. I’ve always seen you as a compassionate person who tries to listen well. I’m disappointed to not see that reflected in your response to pushback on Sharideth’s post.

          • I don’t see an actual pushback of Sharideth’s words. I see a twisting of them. I like spirited debate. I don’t like projection or intentional misinterpretation. Honestly? I don’t even care much about the modesty debate. But I care about Sharideth and intensely dislike the way what she said is being misconstrued.

          • Serious question: Sharideth ended her post with, “Okay, now you can send the hate mail.” So it’s obvious she at least expected pushback. What kind of pushback was she/you expecting? How does the pushback you’re seeing differ from your expectations?

            It’s obvious you care about your friend and her feelings, and that’s commendable. But to accuse others of “projection” or “intentional misinterpretation” in trying to defend your friend doesn’t help further communication or understanding. Either Sharideth called the woman a hypocrite or she didn’t. Either she included a video that used the word “whore” or she didn’t. Words mean things. And whether or not she meant to, Sharideth’s version of the story made it sound to multiple people like the woman was lost her ability to set boundaries because of the lotion on her boobs. That’s problematic. Let’s discuss that assumption. But we can’t discuss it if the problematic words and communicated assumptions are going to be denied instead.

          • YES. sarah argues that sharideth’s post *unintentionally* supports rape culture” (and i agree), but when kristen accuses sarah of *intentional* misrepresentation, there’s no where to go, especially as she’s said that she doesn’t care to debate the content of sarah’s post at all. (https://twitter.com/kristenhowerton/status/341023084708524032)

            not long ago, kristen took another blogger to the mat for the (unintentionally) troubling language/themes in a piece at prodigal, but it seems like in this instance, writer intent trumps all. it’s understandable for folks to interpret sharideth’s piece differently, but assigning deceit to sarah’s perspective and refusing to engage her legitimate concerns isn’t helpful or fair.

          • Sharideth

            Thank you, Kristen. I haven’t responded to specific criticism here because though I don’t know anything about Sarah, the tone of this particular post leads me to believe that anything short of a full apology on my part will not be accepted. That is not something I’m willing to give.

            The fact that Kristen has been blocked from posting here is enough evidence for me that any contradictory dialogue is really not welcome.

            I will eventually answer some of the questions people have asked about the post because I believe there are sincere concerns, but what I won’t do is engage in a fight for the sake of fighting.

            This is a big issue and no one person has cornered the market on all the answers.

          • sarahoverthemoon

            Contradictory opinions are welcome. False accusations are not. (if you’ll notice, Kristen was allowed to share MANY contradictory comments and was not blocked until she accused me of attributing phrases to you that I’d never claimed were anyones words but my own. I’m not really interested in dealing with that)

          • sarahoverthemoon

            Also, you and Kristen both began this so-called conversation by accusing me of “fighting for the sake of fighting”–twisting words around just because I apparently felt like getting upset at a random person, found your blog post, and decided to change the words around just so I’d have an excuse to spend a couple of hours of my time writing about you. You started off by assuming that my concerns were based on untruths and were not sincere. So don’t accuse me of trying to “corner the market.”

    • Grace

      I found your words on this really troubling and agree with Sarah’s comments here. I can certainly see that it wasn’t your intention to communicate this, but nevertheless…the language of “traps” and the equivocation between men “noticing” women’s bodies and staring in a way that makes a woman uncomfortable is deeply troubling and problematic.

  • colorlessblue

    That post comes from the kind of thinking that damage can only be done if it’s physical. That words and looks don’t hurt, unless it’s the victim “giving it too much power”. No. It doesn’t work like that, and when you argue that it does, you’re just looking for an excuse to trivialize the victim’s experience so that men can feel comfortable and not examine/change their own behavior.

    Like xkcd says “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can make me think I deserved it.” Which is what the glitter boobs post does: tell women they deserve to feel uncomfortable with no right to complain.

    Worth remembering too, it’s built all around the story from the POV of the guy who got yelled at for staring and making a woman uncomfortable. Of course from his POV he’s completely innocent. And we’re all socialized to believe a man’s word over a woman’s, because women are “crazy” and everybody knows women go off on men for no good reason all the time.

    • Jason Williamson

      If there are parts of your body that you don’t want people to look at then why would you highlight those parts? It would be like highlighting a paragraph in a book and then getting upset when people paid closer attention to the highlighted part then the regular text.

      • colorlessblue

        There’s a difference between seeing something and intensely staring in a creepy and disrespectful way. Same as there’s a difference between having a conversation and saying rude things, and there’s a difference between flirting and harassing. It’s not a hard line to straddle, if you care to think about (all) people as human beings worth of respect and dignity.
        I doubt very much when men say they don’t know there the line is, because research on “claims of insuficient knowledge” (Trigger Warning for that link) shows that men know what the social rules are, but move the goalposts when it’s convenient to them to claim misunderstanding.
        But if you really don’t know where the rules are, the decent and completely obvious thing to do is to err on the side of too much respect, not too little.

        (editted to correct a typo)

        • Jason Williamson

          I agree with all of these things. We are talking about two different things though. I think you are speculating on the original post. Sharideth said her friend was caught looking at this female. She did not say that it was a creepy stare. Perhaps this female misread the look. Both genders are guilty of that from time to time. I feel like there are descriptors of the situation that were not even alluded to in the original post and we should all be careful not to presume anything about another.

          • colorlessblue

            Yes, because the friend who got caught looking was sure going to tell the author “I got yelled at because I was staring in a creepy way.”

            This is a world where women basically can’t put a foot outside their home without getting looked at, stared, catcalled, yelled, harassed, groped, flashed at or assaulted.

            You think it makes more sense to give the guy who got caught looking the benefit of the doubt and think a crazy woman overreacted at a completely innocent look, than to think give her the benefit of the doubt (and statistics) and think a guy was making her uncomfortable (intentionally or not), and she stood up for herself?

            Even if it were a case where she completely misunderstood his gaze, intentionally or not from his part, she was uncomfortable with it. A real nice guy reaction at learning he made someone uncomfortable would be thinking “oh no, that wasn’t my intention, I’ll be more careful from now on!”

            Not go around telling the story of how he was treated so wrongfully and seek soothing from his female friends who’ll tell him “No, not your fault, bitches are crazy.”

          • Jason Williamson

            Alright, I just wanted it to be clear that we are taking great liberties with the original telling of the story. We could argue from argue from a point of speculation all day long and I would probably agree with you. Unfortunately if you go out looking only for the bad in men you will probably only be able to see that one characteristic. We are all learning to progress as a civilization so both sides should be cut some slack before any blistering attacks are made.

          • I agree that you are taking great liberties. But we’re going off this guy’s word that it was just a look/notice. Is it possible that there is more to the story? Sure. We could go down limitless possibilities that could push his behavior into inappropriate territory. But the story, as he told it, happens frequently enough that I think it warrants conversation without going down a rabbit trail of how, as a man, he must have been in the creeper category somehow.

          • Surely the woman deserves just as much credit as the man. The way that the story was told clearly puts her in the category of crazy and oversensitive. If we’re not going to assume the guy was a creeper, then we shouldn’t assume the girl is crazy or trying to trap him.

          • 1.) Weird use of ‘female’ there
            2.) All we have is Sharideth’s word for that her friend wasn’t creepy.

  • Jason Williamson

    You really have to now clarify what your ideal situation is because as a guy I am completely confused after reading both posts. The glitter lady surely does have the right to get angry, but to get upset over her glittery self being noticed is no different than if I painted my arms rainbow colored and freaked every time I saw someone trying to make sense of that.

    Are you saying that no matter what is happening below the neck a guy is expected to maintain eye contact? We live in a culture that loves to communicate through fashion. I have friends that would be highly offended if guys and girls didn’t complement or notice their communication. Please clarify because right now it’s like snorkeling in muddy water.

    • I doubt this woman was upset about “being noticed.” If she said something, let’s assume she was uncomfortable about the way she was “being noticed,” not assume she’s crazy or acting totally unreasonably.

      I’m sure that the man in this story was embarrassed and uncomfortable about being called out. That’s always uncomfortable. It happens to me, too, when I’m being inappropriate (even when I didn’t INTEND to be rude). But that discomfort is what makes me say “Ooops, sorry I made you uncomfortable,” not “IT’S YOUR FAULT! YOU MADE ME ACT RUDELY TO YOU.”

      Sometimes people, of any gender, are crazy and overreactive. But I’m wary of making that an example of “See, girls, you have to take it!” and I think Sharideth’s piece does that in multiple ways.

      • Jason Williamson

        Agree, agree, and agree. The only thing that I want to throw back in your court is that when either gender wears something outside of what is considered socially acceptable there has to be some give and take on the attention that it is guaranteed to draw. Unfortunately we are not asexual beings or we can’t turn those feelings on and off like a light switch. 99% of the guys that I know would have apologized in the majority of situations though. Does this mean that there aren’t plenty of creeps out there? Of course not. Please don’t assume the worst about me and my gender though. We really do want to treat you as equals. I promise:)

      • I don’t think Sharideth said, “See, girls, you have to take it!”

        • The woman with glitter on her boobs: Did she, or did she not, have the right to speak up when she was uncomfortable? If the answer is no, then Sharideth *is* saying, “See, girl, you have to take it!” even if “it” is only looking. If the answer is yes, why bother with writing the post in the first place?

  • fancystephanie

    If I see Tom Hardy at a club, looking like he did in “Warrior”, all bulked up with muscle, I’m going to take quick discreet glances at him, not stare at him continuously. There’s a difference between looking discreetly and being a perv.

    And if I was making Tom Hardy uncomfortable, he absolutely would have the right to ask me to stop being creepy. Just because he looks smoking hot doesn’t mean I have the right to make him uncomfortable. I couldn’t legitimately say, “But your muscles are showing, and they are all slick and oily! You must WANT me to look at you!” Nope. Doesn’t work like that!!

  • Amy Mitchell

    I read the post in question and came away from it with the feeling like there was a point missed somewhere in there. It seemed to me like there was an underlying sentiment of “if you can’t help it you’re entitled to tell men to back off, but if you dress like that you forfeit that right.” I don’t really have a problem with the word “tits” (when I was a hospital nurse we used to call giving a bed bath a PTA–pits, tits, & ass–and it referred to both men and women). But in the context of that article, it wasn’t really appropriate and came off as demeaning due to the other implications.

  • One thing I don’t think I have seen mentioned is that Sharideth wasn’t there, so she didn’t actually see how the woman was dressed (I think I am reading her post correctly when I say this). We have Sharideth telling us how her friend says the woman was dressed, which made it a little bit more murky for me.

    • YES, THIS. So many assumptions made about a story that she didn’t actually witness.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      Yes, I realized that after I wrote the post. That makes me even more uncomfortable.

  • Juan C. Torres

    We, men, must take full responsibility for our actions.
    It doesn’t matter how provocatively a woman is dressed.

    We must respect them.

    I love women. And meet beautiful women all the time.
    It’s impossible not to notice them or even appreciate them.
    Sometimes it is hard to look them in the eyes while speaking to them.
    But they know (and we know) when we are doing our very best to be gentlemen.

    We should treat all women with honor always.

    Rape, touching, and inappropriate are always wrong.

    We must take personal responsibility for what we do and stop blaming women.

  • Annie Stepka

    At the very least both glitter boobs and prolonged staring are public behaviors. So at the very least the woman has as much right to respond to the man as he has to respond to her. (That’s using the premise that men have a right to respond as a jumping off point). But it doesn’t make any logical sense to censure the woman for her public behavior and not the man. Fair’s fair. If you can’t keep from staring long enough to make someone uncomfortable then maybe you should cover your eyes when you are out in public.

  • There is a question that has been raised in the comments a few times and then ignored or moved to the back burner or buried under other, more pressing questions. I would really love it if Sharideth and Sarah would take the time to answer it, as I think it would bring more clarity to this discussion and the two posts.

    The question :: Does a woman have the right to speak up if she feels uncomfortable with the way someone is looking at her regardless of what she is wearing?

    From my perspective as a reader of both these posts (who doesn’t know Sarah or Sharideth at all) it seems that Sarah would say YES to this question and Sharideth would say NO. (And I am making assumptions here, which I realize could be totally off base, which is why I think answering this question is important for your readers!)

    • sarahoverthemoon

      I would say yes.

  • I am amazed that this comment section continues to disparage Kristen Howerton, yet she has been banned from the comment section because she has been called a “bully”. I’m not sure what definition of bullying we are all working with here, but purposefully banning someone from being able to defend themselves is also a form of bullying. Kind of pathetic for “patheos”.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      I did not say she was a “bully” and that is not the reason she was banned. But falsely accusing me gets you banned. Sorry, but that’s a boundary I’ve set up for myself and for my blog. You don’t have to respect that, but I stand by my decision.

  • When I first read the initial article, it was easy to hear, and as a man, easy to identify with the “male friend”. Then I read your post, which challenged me to identify with the woman in the story – who I should have been inclined to identify with in the first place.