“I don’t know how you do it.” I’m sitting with my girlfriend at a dark, crowded bar, and, true to form, I am clad in very little. Despite the fact that I am constantly getting older, I still deigned it reasonable to leave the house in booty shorts and a crop top. Even after all this time, I’m still not very good at making decisions.
“Y’know, go to bars dressed like that and deal with dudes. I could never do it.”
“Oh, ah, yeah…I think I like the attention,” I replied artlessly while diving into my drink. Although, as soon as I said it, I realized that isn’t the reason why I dress provocatively. It’s just easier to say that I like the attention when, really, I’ve grown accustomed to the attention that my ass in booty shorts elicits. I have a pretty high tolerance for the male gaze, but just because I can gracefully withstand the nuisance of the male gaze doesn’t mean I like it. To say I like the attention is to pander to man’s forcible misperception of female sexuality, namely that women are constantly “asking for it” and silently begging for men’s attention at every angle. That’s not really the case, but what I can attest to is the fact that I like getting attention from men that I’m attracted to. All the rest of them can eat a bag of dicks, but that kinda goes without saying in any situation and has little to do with how I’m dressed. I’m always going to do what I can to attract the man that I want because that’s the nature of attraction.
“I just think it’s cool because you dress for yourself and you wear what you wanna wear. Not everyone can do that.”
She’s right; not everyone can leave the house and feel safe and confident while dressed prosticute. The main reason for that is because when a man sees a woman dressed provocatively, he seizes the opportunity to exploit her sexuality. In our current patriarchal society, it is all too easy for a man to exploit a woman’s sexuality because within our culture, women’s sexuality is something that is regarded as dirty. Women’s sexuality is a secret that is kept from women. The female orgasm is often times regarded as a myth, and any time a woman attempts to explore her sexuality, she is met with vitriol from either end by being labelled as a slut or ugly. Because women are trained to be afraid of their sexuality, it is easy for a man to see a woman who expresses her sexuality as an opportunity to further reinforce her sexual insecurity. Because women are more likely to be unsure about how to handle their sexuality and the reaction that the expression of their sexuality elicits, women become easy targets in the face of men who want to exploit women’s sexuality for their own personal pleasure and power games. It is with this dynamic in mind that we see that women are afraid to express their sexuality through dress, and those that do are often met with psychological violence and shame games.
But as someone who is secure in her sexuality, no man can make me feel insecure or threatened because of his reaction to what I’m wearing. I’m fully aware of how my sexuality functions, and I know how to use it while navigating the social landscape. When a man approaches me when I am dressed in something slutty, and when his intentions are to exploit my sexuality just because I am comfortable with it, his attempts become laughable. A man’s attempt to make me feel threatened and insecure because he is more fluent in the language of social sexuality fail because my knowledge of sexuality has informed me that any man who tries to bully me or exploit me sexually is not going to win because I am the only person who controls my sexuality. If I choose to display my ass in booty shorts, that’s my decision. If I choose to fuck a stranger at the bar tonight, that’s my decision. If I choose to say no to mostly everyone in here, that’s my decision. I refuse to cave the notion that a woman who is displayed sexually is indebted to the men around her to perform sexually beyond that.
The negative sexual attention that my clothing merits me doesn’t bother me, because I know it’s born out of a place of male insecurity. Men do not have power over me or my sexuality because I have figured out the mystery of my sexuality, and it’s actually not that mysterious. It’s pretty straight forward. I owe sex to no man, regardless of how I’m dressed. They can try and try and try and try, but I possess enough confidence to know that I will never trip and stumble into their trap of low self esteem. This is threatening to them, but I don’t care. Let them try and fail. I will be laughing all the way into some other lover’s arms, and I assure you that the man I do wind up fucking tonight is here because he has earned it.