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December 21, 2006


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Most young women haven't got a clue. They don't understand the difference between "dressing to go out" and "dressing to go to work". My daughter had a few friends in college like that - they really don't know how their looks appear to others - they like what they see and think it's appropriate, even when they look like a streetwalker. Their friends tell them they look fine because they don't want to offend them.

I think this is because women dress mostly to impress other women. You'd think it would be to attract men - but have you ever heard a woman asking if one of the guys likes what she's wearing? No, she asks other women, "do YOU like what I'm wearing?"

It's too bad you can't walk up to them and tell them they look like a hooker. Unfortunately, they wouldn't understand - thus they will almost always reside at the low end of the employment spectrum. Few will have the intelligence to overcome the clothing problem.


"How is it that otherwise smart young women are oblivious to the effect that their attire (or lack thereof) has on people?"

My experience is that young women who wear such attire are doing so for one of two reasons: either, as Teresa has commented, they want to make other women envious of their attributes (this often seems to be the case, even amongst supposed "friends"), or they wish to attract the attention of potential mates. Seeing a handsome young devil blush as he tries to retrieve his gaze from one's cleavage appears to boost the ego of many a female. And I doubt that there are many people who have not at some point witnessed the more predatory types using their wares as snares: this is a myopic and indeed truly terrible strategy since any ensuing relationship relies way too heavily on lust, but past failure seems seldom to deter.

Certainly I think that there are some young women who, as Teresa said, "haven't got a clue" and do, as she put it, lack "the intelligence to overcome the clothing problem" (I really liked that phrase, "the clothing problem" - it sounds very genteel and dispassionate, like "the mind-body problem"). Nevertheless, I think that most of the women who wear revealing or form-fitting clothes tend to do so for the reasons above. And for these women, the attention of a green-eyed female or a desirable man is, I believe, generally the intended result and thus most welcome. The system falls apart though, because there's a lot of what fishermen would call "by-catch". Like when poor young Ben the office gopher finds that his hormones have let him down again and his nervous stare has alighted upon the prominently displayed secondary sexual characteristics of his less dressed female co-workers. Or when sweaty, stammering Mike from quality control dashes late into the elevator and discovers, before he can do anything, that his eye has been drawn into hostile terrain. These and other similarly ineligible sorts are not objects of desire, and therefore receive short shrift - in the form of disapproving looks, snorts of disgust or even little lectures about good conduct.

And since most of the male population are *not* the Hellenic ideal of masculine beauty, the gaze of Mr Average is, in general, unlikely to be well received by underclad females. Hence the high incidence of high dugdeon on the part of the latter.

So what to do? Could one ask them to consider how they distract and disdain the world's Ordinary Joes? Would a simple plea for modesty cut any ice? One imagines that most wouldn't see any point in it. In some of the extreme cases, I can understand Teresa's wish to "walk up to them and tell them they look like a hooker", but how could one tip them off about their appearance without hurting them? (Or indeed oneself, probably.)

Finally, I think there's also much truth in the speculation, "Maybe they've been brainwashed by feminists and they think they can can ignore biological hard-wiring": men and women alike have trouble trying to prevent exposed flesh from ambushing their attention. Failure so to do does not imply that one is a leering sex-maniac: it's all down to whether the eye lingers...

miss kelly

Paul, thank you for the thoughtful response. Certainly, many young ladies are well aware of what they're doing, even middle-school girls have long known how to pose and distract. But many young women do seem clueless, or they think it's somehow "unfair" that men are staring at their boobs. What can one say or do about it? I don't know, it's such a minefield out there today.

teresa k

why is my name also teresa kelly???!!!!!

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