This past Wednesday, I read an article on “Her Campus” that I found a little, well, repulsive and, to be honest, somewhat scary. Although perhaps initially intended to be a comic commentary, the article was far from humorous. “The 4 Fashion Trends that Guys Don’t Understand,” written by an anonymous author was filled with misogyny, gender stereotyping, and even language that lays into rape culture. The article was written to inform women on Wake Forest’s Campus about what fashion trends “guys will never understand and will never find particularly attractive.” In a nut shell, he warned against women wearing anything that made them look sexually unappealing to men, at a risk of causing such horrible results as, “early-onset depression in college-aged males” due to what he might call the disappearing-ass syndrome*, causing men to assume you are a feminist (because believing you are equal to a man is a major turn-off)**, and not being able to escape in a “life threatening situation” (What?)***
Perhaps the most offensive and uncomfortable part about the article is not the high-minded nature with which it is written, nor the insinuation that women should dress according to what a man likes, but rather the simple language used in saying these things. What particularly stood out to me was the writer’s comments on the absurdity of floor-length dresses, in that “They take something awesome (dresses) and add about three feet of completely unnecessary and restricting fabric with the sole purpose of ensuring that not a single bit of skin is left exposed.” Let’s play ‘I spy’ with this shall we? I spy three very, very wrong things in this argument. The first, I hope, is incredibly apparent—the very word “restricting” and the later phrase “limiting leg mobility.” What does this fabric restrict exactly? The spread of my legs? Or perhaps (#2), it restricts the sight of my legs, so that your fantasies can’t come to full fruition in your head. Finally (#3), the logic is completely, completely false.
Why? Well, firstly the statement of a long dress being essentially “a large sheet” that “Eliminates” all body definition is false, false, false. Most long dresses I’ve seen/owned (including the picture of the dress provided in his article) quite a bit of skin is actually exposed. So the beautiful shoulders, arms, and shining smile of a confident woman doesn’t do it for, you Mr. Anonymous? You can’t appreciate the subtle swing of my hips underneath the gently flowing fabric? Wah-wah-wah. Furthermore, although I cannot be 100% certain of this, something tells me the anonymous writer of this article has ever had the distinct privilege and freedom of wearing a floor length dress or skirt. You see, Mr. Anonymous, as both a lover of the feminine garb and a Theatre Major who has to do a lot of movement in her day-to-day life, all floor-length attire provides me with the most liberation of all of my clothing. I can wear what I want to wear, and at the same time I have the ability to run, jump, roll on the floor, kneel, climb, and much more without accidental indecency. You know what never in a million years would ever allow me do to that? One of your “awesome dresses,” which has three-feet less “completely unnecessary” fabric. By the way, for good measure (pun intended), I measured three feet up from the ground on my 5’6” body, and that three-feet less of fabric would have said dress ending at approximately the top of my hipbone. So yes, I suppose that dress would be a LOT less “restrictive.” Thanks for your concern.
Shall I go on?
Dear Mr. Misogyny,
To make a long argument short, your argument for high-waisted shorts dictated that the “look” of an article of clothing is all that matters. Never mind that they might make the woman feel confident, self-expressed, or *gasp!* comfortable! Granted, I will give you credit to some of your argument. It’s true: Platform shoes would be a terrible thing to be wearing in a life-threatening situation. I have since remodeled all my platform shoes I own to include a built-in pocketknife in the sole, as well as a fire-starter kit. The heel also has been converted into a pepper spray canister. Thank you for your advice.
As to the rest of my wardrobe, I would just like to make it very clear once and for all that you should never assume you have the right to dictate what I wear, or the right to generalize about what your entire sex finds attractive. I will wear what I want because I like what I wear, and I’m at least comforted in knowing at least that now I might successfully shirk the attention of you or anyone else that sees my body as solely an object for adornment and the vehicle for your sexual fantasies.
I’m sorry if this comes off as crass, but then again, I do own a number of blazers, so I think you saw this one coming.
Celia Not-Anonymous Quillian
P.S. If you’d like to chat with me about this further, you’ll find me on campus wearing whatever I want.P.S.S. If you’d like to borrow a long dress or skirt and experience true freedom, hit me up. I’ve got loads
*“Why do girls enjoy wearing shorts that make their thighs look bigger, their stomachs look bloated, and their hips look twice as wide? These are shorts that make asses completely disappear.”
** “When we see a blazer, we immediately assume that any conversation we might have with you will be interpreted as somehow offensive and sexist, which is probably the biggest turn-off out there. We get that you’re trying to be innovative, but blazers are pretty much the only unique thing guys have, so let us have them and pick something more appealing.”
***”Plus, in a life-threatening emergency, platform shoes would only weigh you down, and we can’t have that.”