When my children were growing up we lived in a home with a pool. It was a 30’ x 40’ in-ground mecca to which the adolescents of our community made an annual pilgrimage every summer. With a slide , a diving board and a 9-foot deep end it was, for over a decade, the social center of the lives of my children. When my son, Christian, was in middle school he told me that he wanted a pool party for his August birthday. No problem. Let’s put together an invitation list. Christian told me he already did the invite. On Facebook. This was in the early days of Facebook (the power and reach thereof I was to discover) and I wasn’t sure what he meant. Who is coming? How many are coming? How do we select the ones we want to invite and, well, not? Too many questions and too late. The word was out. I martialed a volunteer army of Moms to help me keep attendees from drowning and chaperoned over 70 middle-schoolers to Christian’s party.
Hang with me, I’m getting to a point. And the boobs.
The vast majority of these kids I loved and had I the luxury of a ‘list’ they would have been on it. They were polite, respectful, and fun. However, there were a few that would NOT have been on the list. Their attendance inspired me to make a list of my own. A list of “never agains.” These kids were rude and disrespectful, dropped their trash in the lawn and broke the diving board. They didn’t say please and thank you and what they did say can’t be written in a blog.
That’s what happens when you send out an open invitation.
Now to the boobs. I recently asked my Facebook friends why they showed their breasts. Now or in the past. The answers were honest: It makes me feel sexy. I like the attention. I like when men admire them. They were poignant: I always thought my face was ugly, but I knew I had good boobs. I was insecure and having a man’s attention felt good. They were apologetic: I used to, now I know better. I wish I could find clothing that helped me dress more modestly, but my size prevents that.
Thank you for your participation in my little survey. Albeit biased toward the conservative, I was raised on the corner of Straight and Narrow and many of my friends reflect that bubble, I found much the same answers when I researched articles asking the same question.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this as we ride the wave of indignation and disclosure of sexual misconduct of famous men and outraged women. While this part of my blog may be ignored, let me say my opinions are not excusing sexual assault. The mistreatment of women by men of any professional standing or in any personal relationship is wrong. Period. However, the piggish actions of deplorable men do not give women a pass on dressing irresponsibly. I recently watched the Grammy Awards. Famously headlined as a night when women would stand in proud unity against sexual harassment, (Good Thing. High Five.) they do so in clothing which bares skin and cleavage to their pubic hair. This causes me some cognitive dissonance. I’m sorry. (No, I'm not.)
Unless you are a woman under the age of 13 you know that men are visually stimulated. It’s a biological fact. And that visual stimulation will cause a reaction. Let’s be honest. Not only do we KNOW that. We ENJOY that. We COURT that. By dressing provocatively we INVITE that reaction. We show skin to draw the male eye for a purpose. In short, it is an invitation to SOMETHING. One woman wrote to me “I do it for myself. I like to look at myself and feel good about me.” Hmmm. Show me your cards. I call bull____ . I buy that until you walk out the door. Then, with full intention, you are the magnet and men are the paper clips. At least have the intellectual integrity to admit that.
What is that invitation? And how is a man to interpret it? Is it a selective invitation (“I only show my boobs to my husband, he likes it…”) or an open invitation (“I’m sexy and don’t care who looks…” ) Is it an invitation to look? Or touch? Or comment? Or grab? Fortunately, as with our pool party Facebook invite, most of the recipients of your invitation are good men. They may look discreetly. They may continue to treat you professionally. They will never cross a line. Because they are good men. But when you throw the invitation out there with no discretion or limitation, don’t complain when someone breaks your diving board. There are bad men out there. At the very least you will attract the attention of men who are not on your invite list; and at worst there are men who will take your invitation and interpret it dangerously their way because you didn’t specify whether or not they were on your list or for what reason you want their attention.
It is the height of hypocrisy to cry about who comes to your party when you didn’t quell the invite list.
This is where I agree with Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur who made headlines last December when she made the (logical and perfectly reasonable, in my opinion) observation that cleavage-revealing clothing worn by women is an “invitation” to sexual misconduct. “Maybe I’ll get booed for saying this” said Kaptur “but many companies and the military have a dress code, so should we.” Booed she got. In a supreme example of Emperors New (Provocative) Clothes the Politically Correct Left described her as ‘clueless’ and blamed her age (71).
What do I think? I think it’s common sense. Dress to invite the right kind of attention at the right time from the right men. Maybe it’s time we learn from our elders. Even if she’s a Democrat.