04 September 2011


The discussion is decades old ~ are women who dress in revealing clothes expressing a desire to be manhandled, or are they simply enjoying their natural sexuality? Amanda Marcotte adopts the latter stance (as do I) in a discussion of how young women and men in college conduct themselves. She asserts that there are plenty of problems with gender inequality on campus (and elsewhere in life), but that discovering one's sexuality ought not to be one of them. The dilemma derives not from how much or how little skin one shows, but rather from the gender-biased interpretations indulged in by social predators, or by Victorian moralists. In Marcotte's words ~

" .... I think that men are perfectly capable of being turned on by a woman dancing in her underwear while never forgetting that said woman has a family that loves her, a mind of her own, and ambitions that are equal to his. We don't allow men's sexuality to dehumanize them in our eyes. If a young man spends his weekends partying and flirting with women, and spends his time in the classroom pulling down As, we don't see that as a contradiction. The belief that female sexual expression is uniquely dehumanizing is a double standard, no matter how much you dress it up in feminist language. Instead of condemning young women for the length of their skirts, why not use that energy for condemning anyone who would think that a woman is lesser-than because she wears a miniskirt?"

So the question becomes, how much skin is too much? By that I mean, should overweight or obese women and men wear skintight or revealing clothing, displaying overlapping folds of fatty dimpled flesh to the world as though it were an attractive sight? Or are those women and men simply dressing to please themselves, distasteful though the image may be to onlookers? What do you think? What are the lines of social propriety in terms of place, time, the company, the event or occasion, the age of the wearer? And who gets to decide?

Still on the subject of sexual expression, an L.A. Times article shares one of the very real dangers for those women who choose to augment their breast size with implants ~ explosion. In one case, "a British woman's breast implant exploded after she was hit in the chest by a paintball, which can travel at 190 mph." One can imagine certain late night comics exclaiming what a deflating experience that must have been, but it's no laughing matter, especially if the implant is filled with silicone gel (see example below - an implant filled with saline solution is chemically safer). "The rupture is often painful, and can result in potentially fatal toxic shock syndrome or gangrene." There are other risks, enumerated here at the FDA website.

As with wearing revealing clothing, the decision to receive breast implants is personal, and should not be regarded judgmentally. Some women have legitimate concerns about their appearance, whether for cosmetic reasons related to self-esteem, or for cosmetic reasons related to cancer surgery (radical mastectomy). Long story short, those who do have breast implants should avoid any potentially high-impact situation. The L.A. Times article gives examples, including car accidents and proximity to firearms.

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