Saturday, May 18, 2013

Love, not Lust

When women fight for the right to wear revealing clothes without being harassed, people invariably say that men are visual and sexual creatures. That if a woman wants to wear low cut shirts, or short skirts, that's totally fine, but they should expect a certain amount of ogling, of men staring at their breasts, and are even, perhaps, inviting a certain amount of touching. A woman who chooses to wear revealing clothing is also choosing a certain level of harassment.

If she doesn't want the attention, she shouldn't be putting it on display. After all, sexual attraction is the most innate of animal behavior and what are humans, but highly developed animals?

What this fails to consider are the myriad cultures throughout the world in which women and men both freely walk around almost entirely nude. The Matis, Matses-Mayoruna, Huaorani, etcare all cultures in which the women routinely go topless, and both men and women have minimal clothing to cover their bottom.

Somehow, they seem to manage just fine. The men in these cultures do not spend their days staring at the chests of the women. They are perfectly capable of not raping every one they come across. Even the men and women who travel to these areas for research manage to keep their eyes and hands appropriately placed.

So the idea that it is "human nature" to stare at a woman's breasts, or to actively steer vision and thoughts elsewhere when confronted with a naked woman, is patently false. It is not the plight of man to be inexorably drawn to these "dirtypillows". It is, in fact, a facet of our culture, our society, not our species.

And it can, therefore, be changed. Women have no reason to not wear whatever it is they desire. Low cut shirts, high rise skirts. It should not be acceptable behavior to ask women to alter themselves in any way in order to squelch their own objectification. Rather, we should be instilling in our men a respect for women that can transcend their need to stare.

So don't tell me that a cheerleading skirt is too distracting or that even looking like women's breasts is obscene. Don't tell me that men can't help themselves, and don't tell me that women invite the attention. Don't tell me that it is a woman's own fault for not covering up.

It wasn't too long ago right here in America that women who dared to wear pants were inviting harassment. Women in bathing suits at the beach even had their own area to avoid men's stares. In other cultures currently, women need to have their faces and bodies covered up at all times, lest men be overcome with lust. Many find this ridiculous now.

So, in the past century, men have managed to reduce their lusting enough that women are free to swim in public without harassment. We can show off ankles and shoulders. Hell, even bikinis are acceptable in certain areas!

Why not take this even further? Men can certainly control their lust even more. The objectification of women is no more an innate behavior than the preference for bacon. It is simply a product of our culture.

So don't sell yourself short, men. You are capable of wonderful things. You walked on the moon! You can absolutely learn to love, not lust.