Being sexualized is something we accept will happen at some point, if not repeatedly during our lives. It took me years to even realize things that were happening to myself and others were sexual in nature. It’s so strange looking back at the touching and the comments and thinking “That’s fucked up, why did I not put up a fight.” Because society taught me from a young age to be docile. To be safe, but to always be respectful when in bad situations. Let me add a disclaimer to say I don’t blame my parents or my teachers for this, I blame a society built on years of oppression of those who identify as women for embracing their sexuality.
I want to tell you a quick story. It was 2011, I was a senior in high school, and to say I had received my fair share of dress code violations would be an understatement. As in my piece last week, I mentioned that I wore a lot of short skirts and short shorts with fishnet tights. This wasn’t something I found to be sexual, I liked the way it looked and it gave what could be an otherwise bland outfit a nice detail of texture.
I could describe my outfit, but because it’s me, I will just recreate the damn thing.
Please note, EVERY PIECE OF MY BODY IS COVERED EXCEPT FOR A SLIVER OF SKIN ON MY THIGHS. Now I’m not super salty about this experience anymore, but let me break down for you how this day went on. I show up to school, make it through maybe two classes? I can’t quite recall my exact schedule, but I know that when I was called to the office I was in Spanish watching Tangled. So my teacher tells me they want me in the office, I pretty much know why and make my way.
I arrive and Ms Williams greets me and we exchange pleasantries, as I have been in this situation a few times before. She proceeds to tell me that she had received not one, not two, but twelve calls in regards to my outfit since the beginning of the day. That seems excessive. I stand up so she can verify that my t-shirt is within the requirement for the finger rule, as you can see in the photo as well. The hem is longer than where the tip of my fingers reach. She feels she can’t make the decision, and long story short, she calls in two other teachers during this meeting. We’re inching towards the thirty minute mark for a dress code violation.
I was thankful I wasn’t missing any real class time, and only a film. The third teacher is the only one to jump to my defense stating that if I was wearing a sundress we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all, and that she loved my style. This entire time no one has brought up my garters, which is the reason I’m there since I wasn’t showing a single bit of skin otherwise.
Ms Williams, the main teacher, seems to find the whole thing a bit ridiculous, as I point out that if anything I’ll be exposing more of myself by constantly bending over to pull up my socks. We have a bit of a laugh and I leave and remove my garter belt. I wasn’t pissed off, I was just annoyed that my time had been wasted because no one would come outright and say that my “garters were too sexual and should be removed.” Which as my readers, you can make your decision based on my photo as to whether you agree.
I was being sexualized over a piece of clothing that’s original purpose was to keep socks and stockings from sliding down. I was using it for this purpose and nothing more. Statistically speaking that majority of teachers are female, meaning that I was being seen as overtly sexual by other women. Men aren’t the sole perpetrators of the sexualization of women. Let’s really think about this, a group of three adult women didn’t have the ability to tell me to take off my garter belt because they were too polite to come outright and say they found it to be too sexual. I, as the student, was the one to make the final suggestion. Full grown women can’t have a proper discussion about why a completely appropriate outfit is “wrong” because they’ve been told their whole lives that garter belts are for “whores.”
My mother used to be a preschool teacher, and she would see toddlers in “slutty” outfits. They would be wearing what was in fashion at the time, this often included low-rise jeans and tank tops that were far too revealing. If we offered outfits to children that were actually appropriate and fitting for their age, then maybe we wouldn’t have issues like this. I just never understood why parents would allow children to wear certain clothing, and then I realize, it’s because that’s the only clothing being offered in stores. It’s a whole giant conspiracy that sexualizes those who choose to dress “effeminately” by forcing them into things that the male gaze supposedly will find appealing. But I, as I’m sure you all feel too, do not find young children’s butts hanging out to be appropriate.
So in our heads we have so much hate towards other women because we’ve been taught through television and movies and real life, that “She dresses that way because she’s a whore and that makes her less of a person than me.” Haven’t you called some girl you don’t know a “slut” or a “bitch” because you didn’t like the way she was breathing? Have you ever stopped and took a good hard look at your opinion and thought, “Why am I thinking like this?” I mean seriously. I’ve had girls whisper loudly about my outfit choice and then cackle like demented witches. What did I do to them? I existed outside the realm of their normalcy.
Women who are loud and proud in their style, their language, their culture, and their sexuality are ostracized by “normal” society for being too different. There is something intimidating about a woman who is fully confident in her being who doesn’t feel the need to follow trends or antiquated gender roles. Just because you’re uncomfortable doesn’t mean you should be a dick. Stop talking behind people’s backs, writing rude comments on the internet, and generally being a terrible person to someone who isn’t exactly the same as you. What is so appealing about an entire generation of people who are the same? I’ll never understand the concept of fitting within some mold or label. Don’t take your own lack of confidence out on someone else because you aren’t brave enough to be yourself.
Moral of the story. Be confident in your choices and fashion, if someone else dresses differently and you don’t like it because it’s “too slutty,” who cares, it’s their choice. I would get into a whole school dress code rant, but that is very played out. So I’ll say this, having a society of women and those who identify as female in a support system is beneficial to everyone. There is no reason to hate another person because they choose to dress more provocatively. Women have always been sexualized and will continue to be sexualized because lust and sexual desire are a part of the genetic make up of humans.
There is a balance that we can find to still be sexual beings without being disrespectful and it starts with realizing that dressing provocatively has nothing to do with one’s ability to be a human being. Clothing is a choice that we make and only if it is literally causing issues because it makes someone unable to perform their work, otherwise, butt out. If I’m going to spend the rest of my life being sexualized, I’m going to look how I damn well please the entire time.