More Thoughts on Our Sex Panic

I was ogling the outfits from the Golden Globes the other day, and I realized: ah, this is where all the confusion comes from. Look at these beautiful women in these sexy dresses, and so many of them are women who have enacted varying degrees of erotic contact on the silver screen.

In one way, it makes sense that men can’t differentiate between a woman’s sexual presence and her disdain for unwanted sexual advances. There’s an insidious fantasy about these women, especially actresses. Sex sells. And they have been selling sex for so long that men don’t understand that it’s a marketing tool, a ruse.

But this goes back to a recent cultural revelation: just because a woman is wearing a skimpy outfit, it does not mean that she’s “asking for it.” Women are allowed to be sexual on a public level, and that does not mean that men are allowed to harass them for sex.

To put it on an even more fundamental level, look at strippers. Strippers have a definitively sexual job. Sex is part of the job. (Sex work is real work.) Sex can play a part in the job for many women, but the difference here is that women have consented to working jobs which involve a degree of sexuality. You are allowed to go to a strip club, to spend money on strippers. (Also, tip her.) But you are not allowed to harass the strippers, nor are you allowed to break strip club rules (e.g. no touching). This is something called professionalism.

Women are allowed to be sexual in their jobs. They are allowed to present sexually. They are allowed to be safe in their work place. However, when a woman is doing her job, she understands the expectations of her job in exchange for money. This is not an open invitation to harass her. Workers have boundaries, too, whether they’re actresses, strippers, waitresses, copy editors, executive assistants or CEOs.

This isn’t about putting men’s sexuality in a box. This is about not splaying it all over the table for the world to see. Have some class, maybe?