Besides merely fidgeting, this. There’s a world of difference about how you feel when someone just notices your attributes, and when someone is openly leering.
Does this seem so strange to you? Say you have a pair of jeans that a woman whose opinion you trust once told you make your butt look good. Would you feel any different if you realized an attractive woman snuck a glance versus one you found hideous staring openly at your jean clad behind?
This. Clothes may look good at home but start riding up, or down, with wear, making you constantly readjust during the day. Or you may be talking to a man who keeps looking you in the chest instead of the eyes, and feel compelled to button another button or pull your neckline up a bit. Sometimes you want to show a bit of cleavage, but not a ton, depending on the situation. It is a fine line.
I had a student who would zip down her sweater and lean over when talking to me, especially when she was fishing for material that might be on an upcoming quiz. It was funny to watch that zipper move up and down depending on her audience. She always wore something low cut under it. The colleagues and I had a good laugh about her for a few years.
I have a couple of drape-neck shirts that are perfectly modest - until I bend over. Then the drape swings out, and if you’re at the right angle suddenly my entire bra is on display. If I have to bend over while wearing that shirt, I put a hand to my chest to keep it in place.
The same shirt can also slip out of place just slightly and end up showing the edge of my camisole. Nothing too racy about that, just unattractive. I end up resettling it several times a day, hopefully when no-one is around, but sometimes it pops up as a stress habit too.
So yeah, unless you’re obviously leering, it’s got nothing to do with you and everything to do with the difficulties of dressing the female body attractively-but-not-too-attractively. Unless it’s buttoning up a sweater - 99% of the time, it’s because she’s cold.
It’s more that we don’t mind guys checking us out, but we do mind being leered at. There is a difference between polite appreciation of a person’s beauty, and the sort of appropriating and dehumanizing looks that you get from lechers. Women don’t actually go apeshit over being thought of as sexy or beautiful. It’s when we get treated like our only purpose on earth is to exist for some rando’s sexual pleasure that we start getting upset.
In any case, it gets a little old having to dress for the lowest common denominator. Most men can see a little cleavage, say to themselves “Oh, that’s really nice” and move on with their interaction with us. Why should we determine our wardrobes around the relatively few people who can’t handle themselves?
Without getting too far down Sexist Road, why else would a woman wear very revealing attire that emphasizes sexually stimulating bits? There are clothes suitable for even the hottest weather that don’t scream Lookit My Boobs or -Butt or -Thighs, so comfort isn’t necessarily the answer. And as some (women[?]) have said, these clothes are sometimes actively uncomfortable and require much tugging to keep in suitable place.
Yes, yes, a woman should be free to dress in absolutely any way she wants without it being automatically a CFM look… but if such cuts aren’t to attract male attention, then what are they for? (And if you say “to look good” or “because it’s pretty” or any other such answer, I think you have to back up to the basis for that statement.)
Which might be a clue, gentlemen - if the women around you often tug their shirts to be more demure, try and get another half inch out of their skirt, slouch around you in ways that hide their shape - it might not be them - it might be their perception of you. If this is normal for you around women, you probably should think about changing the way you look at and interact with women, there is something about you making them uncomfortable.
+1. Women who dress in revealing or sexy clothing do it because of the way it gets received by others, and thusly, how it makes the women feel about themselves. Period. To claim anything else is silly and disingenuous. It doesn’t mean a woman is dressing sexy because she wants to be accosted or treated disrespectfully but she IS doing it because other people will be attracted to her and it makes her feel good about herself.
I only had one ever ‘‘omg cleavage’’ moment like that. I was sitting at my desk in a favorite v-neck top and a guy walked in and was standing really close to the edge of the desk. And he kept trailing off during conversation because he was staring at my breasts.
I don’t wear the shirt to show off my cleavage, I wear it because I like it. I’m not getting rid of my favorite shirt because some guy doesn’t know how to interact with a woman. If a woman is wearing a low-cut top (or v-neck that can look low-cut from the top down, or whatever), don’t assume it’s even because she wants to show off her rack. Maybe she just likes the color, or the fit, or it’s really comfortable.
We live in our bodies 24/7, and we don’t tend to regard them as a collection of sexy parts. We think of our boobs, butt and thighs as just a part of an overall look, and it’s not just about exposing them or hiding them to attract or deflect men. In other words, sexiness level isn’t really the top thing in our heads when picking out clothing. It’s just one of many attributes.
When I wear something that emphasizes my breasts, I’m not trying to evoke a specifically sexual male fantasy. I’m think abstractly as to how nice the fabric of a shirt looks when it is filled out properly, how well a figure looks when the top and bottom are balanced, and how much I look like the models and women that I personally think are pretty. I’m probably also thinking in terms of fashion history- a low neckline can evoke the classic romanticism of those empire era dresses, a halter can look retro and youthful, and a classic plunge can bring up Hollywood glamour. When I wear a short skirt, I’m thinking of looking like a leggy 70s roller babe, or a sixties art house chick. This isn’t in terms of costume, but rather in subtlety evoking different looks and moods in fashion that are only tangentially related to sexuality.
And sometimes, you really like the fabric, fit, color and overall look of a piece of clothing, and it just happens to be on the revealing side. I really love the look of certain fitted, structured dresses. With my particular figure, they can look sexual in a way that they wouldn’t on a straighter or stouter woman. I can’t wear most of them, but when I do find one that isn’t too bad, I snap it up and wear it proudly, because I just love how classic and tailored they look and feel.
Finally, sometimes we are trying to get sexual attention. Those ladies in miniskirts heading out to the club? They do want sexual attention- but they are probably still going to be selective about exactly who it is they are trying to get the sexual attention of. Sometimes you probably make an effort to look sexy, right? But you probably aren’t equally interested in getting sexual attention from attractive women and attractive men. Same deal.
I am not sure you understand very much about how some workplaces expect female employees to dress. “Snappy” clothes are very much de rigeur in many jobs. For women, that means a requirement to dress in a somewhat sexualized manner. As noted, it is not quite the same for men.
It is kind of funny that this even has to be explained.
This is what I was thinking, as a man, when reading **GreenElf’s **post about how “many women” do this. If someone was trying to cover herself up around me I’d assume I made her uncomfortable, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a thing.
This right here. If we dressed in ways that were totally covered up, the style would probably evoke images of “schoolmarm” or “Amish” or “mannish.” None of those will get you promoted/noticed (in a professional manner) in an average workplace.
I understand everything you said; I’ve heard it expressed many times.
This gets into some murky waters about sexuality and attraction and everything on the assault/rape spectrum, but…
How do you differentiate all the things you see in the mirror as pretty and attractive and flattering and so forth from “being attractive [in the literal sense] to males”? Unless you think there is an absolute standard or measurement of “beauty,” isn’t your conditioning about what looks good on your body largely shaped (no pun intended) by shared notions of sexual attractiveness?
Is she dressed inappropriately for a work environment? Wearing mini skirts, tank tops, strappy stilettos and other apparel more suitable for a club that an office? Then yeah, she’s probably dressing for attention from men she finds attractive, but still not aiming for attention from men she doesn’t wish to interact with. Unless she’s actively expressed an interest in you, don’t flatter yourself that you were in her thoughts as she dressed that morning.
The problem with your theory is you guys apply “sexy” indiscriminately to every woman you find even mildly attractive. Any woman wearing anything shy of a paperbag gets ogled. Oxford buttoned to the neck? You’ll check for gaps between the buttons at the bust. Search for nipple show-through on chilly days. Watching for a bounce down the stairs or off curbs. Checking to see how much thigh is showing when a woman in a skirt sits down. And god forbid she drops a coin or her keys, because you’ll fall over trying to peek down her shirt. For us it’s nothing more than a nuisance to be aware of that causes us to cover ourselves when you stare. For you: every clothing choice is an invitation to ogle and pass judgement on our motivations.
Let’s make it easy: are you at Hooter’s or a Renfair? No? Then keep your nose out of the cleavage and shut up about it. At the beach? Invest in some mirrored sunglasses and keep your distance. Are you at work, the grocery, the library, or the park? Get over yourself and behave the same way you would have other men behave towards your daughters, mothers, and sisters. You have access to the internet. Use it to satisfy your lechery and cut us real life women some slack.