Louise's Feminist Musings

Notes on feminist news & issues

Sexiness – Modesty Dichotomy?

Just read about this on slut-defending page. Add blogroll.

Many people are stuck thinking that when it comes to clothes and behavior, there is a sexiness – modesty dichotomy and that how women dress can be placed somwhere on the spectrum in between.

It is then usually thought that dressing sexy is feminist because it is supposed to be ‘an expression of sexuality’ of women who over the ages have been said to ‘cover up’ because they might give men the wrong idea.

At the same time there is this difficulty: women are sexualized and objectified by society (first of all media). This makes other feminists argue that women who dress like porn actresses, especially the famous ones who get a lot of media attention, are a bad influence and not feminist or liberated at all.

So, the difficulty is: who is right? Are sexy dressing women ultra feminist or are they poster girls for sexualization and objectification? Many a feminist lies awake at night  worrying about this paradox.

The answer is: the sexiness – modesty dichotomy has its origins in misogyny. Part of the feminist movement was hijacked early on by the porn industry, that is, its modest version. Feminist who wanted to get naked and enjoy sex instead of having to hide their urges (because of modesty) were taken in by the existing dirty magazines (for men) club because hey, they were interested in naked women for their own gain: making money catering to men’s lust.

Unfortunatly feminist who naturally thought ‘they want sex, we want sex, let’s join them and have a party’ joined ranks with the exploiters of playboy etc. But what exactly is arousing to heterosexual women about a magazine full of pictures of other naked women? What is arousing about giving a striptease show instead of watching one? As of today there is (almost) no place in women’s enjoyment of sex in porn. Most easy to find on the internet porn (where I get my information) is of women being penetrated anally and orally where she is just an instrument for men to get off. The women are uncomfortable, do not get pleasure out of this and seem annoyed even. Nowadays some feminists have understood where it goes wrong and started making their own porn, usually labeled ‘feminist porn’.

Unfortunately, to this day a group of feminists call themselves ‘sex-positive’ (as if others are sex-negative….when in fact even christians promoting modesty fuck like rabbits…where do you think all these children come from) and they will defend ‘sluttiness’ against anyone by telling people who are worried about the sexualisation of women that they are oldfashioned prudes, christians or pro women wearing a burqua. (But defending sluttiness is a good thing too: all feminists agree that a woman should wear what she likes and be whoever she wants and if that is ‘slutty’, well, then that is fine and she should not be shamed for it. Shaming women for dressing sexy or sleeping around (slutshaming) is a huge problem in society.)

What is wrong about all of this is the belief that women’s behavior and dress lies somwhere on in the sexiness – modesty spectrum, but that this spectrum is itself imbedded in a view of women as dressing for the eyes of others.

(link to facebook’s decisions to not show breastfeeding or mastectomy pictures but show women wearing thongs with their putt sticking in your face.)


Politician is told that her cleavage was inappropriate > feminists post their cleavages online in reaction > commenter of guardian accuses feminists of vanity for proudly showing their boobs http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/21/cleavages-feminism-sexism?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487 This is all very weird… What is wrong here is that the discussion should be about this politician’s views, not about her boobs. By posting pictures of their cleavages the feminists may show solidarity with the politician (their message being ‘women are allowed to dress the way they want’), however, they get caught up in a fight that stays within the sexiness-modesty dichotomy. This only enforces the impression that it is perfectly fine to discuss a politician’s breasts instead of her political views. This type of feminism backfires.

The guardian commenter even takes it a step further, dragging the purposely showing of boobs to attrackt men (or what does ‘vanity’ even mean in this context?) into the discussion, derailing the discussion even further. She writes:

Look, if you want to get the girls out and find a theoretical rationale for it, there are many genuinely awful burlesque companies who will be glad to have you and your parts. If, however, you genuinely wish to advance meaningful debate in the months leading toward an election that will determine the fate of many women who cannot afford fancy kitchen appliances, let alone child care, then maybe you should remain silent unless you’re going to talk about something sensible.

So, she half gets it: ‘discussing boobs is not sensible, please discuss politics’, but she gets it completely wrong here: ‘there are many genuinely awful burlesque companies who will be glad to have you and your parts’ a form of slutshaming and here ‘maybe you should remain silent unless you’re going to talk about something sensible’, the classic attempt to shut women up.

And what’s more: if the commenter was so concerned with a discussion about politics instead of about cleavage, why is she not aiming her piece at the person who commented on the politician’s cleavage in the first place? What she should have done is join the feminists in their aim even when she does not condone their methods. Instead, what is happening here is that she picks on feminists, probably because they are an easy target (feminists collectively get attacked and screwed over by others who gain from it by wanting to advance their own popularity, which is what seems to be going on here……be sassy about feminists and boobs and it will get you places. Either that, or pure and simple naivety.)


I’m not sure yet what to think of FEMEN http://www.wluml.org/media/politics-nakedness-and-freedom-expression-case-femen


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This entry was posted on June 21, 2013 by in English items, Get away from the Sexiness - Modesty Dichotomy.
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