My very dear friend, The Only Slightly Sleazy Lobbyist, and I deluded ourselves into thinking that we were still athletes one recent Sunday. We played a couple of hours of “hang-over tennis” on a gorgeous afternoon. After removing protective knee braces, ankle supports, and our respectively bruised egos, we made our way back across the river to grab some beer and sit on his patio with his neighbor and our friend, The Pistol.
The Pistol earned her nickname because of her fierce mind, liberal politics, staunch feminism, irreverent wit, and more than occasionally profane vocabulary. She is near the top of both of our lists of favorite people.
As we were leaving the corner store with a few six packs of Bell’s Oberon in tow, OSSL told me that he had recently received an email from Southern Charmer, once a relatively recent college grad who OSSL helped land a job in his field.
“Refresh my memory, which one is the Southern Charmer?” I inquired.
“You met her that night at Cashion’s.”
“OSSL, over the years, I’ve met more than a couple of women with you at Cashion’s, more information please.”
“She was the one with the really see-through shirt and the great rack.”
“Oh, yeah, yeah, I remember her now. How’s she doing?”
“Eh, she’s alright I suppose… she’s just contacting me because she wants to change jobs.”
“Refresh my memory about why you stopped dating her?” I asked.
“We weren’t dating, I was just helping her out.”
“You took her to a nice restaurant, you each dressed for the occasion, you paid the tab, you two flirted. Call it whatever you want but it still smells like a rose.”
“Fine, whatever, but it stopped that night you two met… it was the hypocrisy that really turned me off” OSSL declared in a partial confirmation of the rosy aroma.
“What hypocrisy?” I asked.
“Well, she wears this see through shirt with her rather large rack on display in some fucking Victoria Secret Wonderbra, and then bitches about how ‘gross’ it was that men always leered at her. I mean, you can’t have it both ways. When a woman wears a shirt like that it’s because she wants men to leer at her.”
“Pump your brakes for a second” I replied. “I’m not saying it’s likely you’re wrong, but it is dangerous to ascribe motivations to the actions of others. I’ll concede that she might have been foolish not to expect the looks, but it’s not appropriate to suggest that she actively wanted them.”
“I call bullshit on that” OSSL fired back, “Women who dress that way want that kind of attention.”
By this point, we were parking the car. I tried to make my point more clear – “I’m saying that you’re probably right in your assertions about Southern Charmer, as you are probably right about most women who attire themselves that way, however, it is a bridge too far to suggest that all women who wear something revealing or particularly sexy do so for the attentions of men. Perhaps they dress for themselves, perhaps they wear something like that because it makes them feel sexy.”
We argued for a few moments more before I said “Let’s let The Pistol weigh in on this… and I’ll bet she’ll agree with me.
The Pistol was already sitting on OSSL’s porch when we rounded the corner of his building. We popped three bottle caps and immediately delved into the conversation.
“I gotta say, I am more aligned with OSSL on this one” The Pistol said in a declaration that surprised all three of us. “For most women, sexy is inter-related with how other people react to us… and I would bet that the same is true for men too.”
“I’m not saying that reaction from women isn’t a part of it for men, and vice versa for women, just that it is only a part of it. More importantly, I am stating that surely some women, and men too, dress exclusively for how it makes them feel. She surely would be a fool to expect that with her boobs essentially on display that men wouldn’t look.” It was another unsuccessful attempt to convince OSSL and The Pistol of my point.
“Refugee, are you seriously telling me that when you wear one of those fancy suits of yours” The Pistol began before pausing briefly and concluding with “You really don’t wear them for how women respond to you in them?”
“Pistol, I have three kinds of suits in my closet: good suits, great suits, and meeting ex-girlfriends suits. When I wear the latter, there is an extra spring in my step but that spring exists on my way to the Metro before I have seen another person. I wear those suits for me first, and any extra attention I get from women is just the cherry atop the sartorial sundae.”
We argued for a few more minutes before I admitted the failure of my persuasion and changed the subject to that day’s edition of Meet the Press…. But, Gentle Readers, I pose these questions to you:
- Does a woman wearing something revealing inherently want the eyes or attention of men, or women if she is so oriented?
- Is it possible for women to wear something risqué just because of how it makes them feel and not as a cry for that attention?
- Or does the answer exist in some other explanation?