I missed blogging against sexism!

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Luckily (?) sexism is not a one-day-a-year thing so I guess I'm safe to blog a day late. The rest of the carnival-whatever is here.

Of course, I've had an exceptionally lucky and privileged life when it comes to feeling the effects of overt sexism. (I think the only time I was knowingly denied a job for being female was when I had a short-lived desire to be an altar server in the fifth grade.) Nobody's ever told me to my face that I couldn't do something I really wanted to because of my gender. That's not because sexism doesn't exist — that's because I'm lucky (and quite possibly too obtuse to pick up on subtle hints).

But there's one thing that bugs me — more a peeve, really. Especially now that I've become such a dress advocate. What is it? It's when guys come up to me and say "I like it when women wear dresses."


Come again?

Now, you might think this is a quibble, because, hey, I like it when women wear dresses. Actually, no — I like it when a woman — one specific woman, one at a time — comes up to me and tells me she ENJOYS wearing dresses. That is, I like it when I meet someone who shares my love of wearing dresses. I like it that someone else is enjoying something I think is enjoyable, not that an ENTIRE GENDER is conforming to my aesthetic ideal.

You might also say, "Hey, Erin, aren't there things that guys wear that you like?" And sure, I'd say. I love Jack Purcells so I know if I meet a guy wearing those that I will probably admire his taste. I know if a guy has a kickass messenger bag we could probably have an incredibly geeky gadget-stowing conversation (one that will probably last much longer than necessary), and I also enjoy the occasional ironic t-shirt. (I also have a strange attraction to Adidas Sambas, but that's just a leftover from having gone to high school in the 1980s.) But all these things are about making a connection with an individual based on mutual appreciation for an object.

But there's something about "I like it when women wear dresses" that completely irks me. Who knows, maybe it's the hangover from thousands of years of patriarchy, or a reminder that wearing dresses used to be an obligation, not a choice, but it just gives me the sneaking suspicion that maybe, just maybe, this is someone who might not see women as 100% belonging to the human race. Maybe it's because substituting almost anything else for the "wear dresses" part of the "I like it when women wear dresses" statement seems hinky. (Try it yourself. The only one I felt okay with was "I like it when women run for public office," and even that one felt weird.)

I am almost certainly overthinking this, I know. But just to be safe, if you're tempted to say something like this (for the ten guys who read this blog) how about substituting "I really like your dresses." Or "That's a great dress!" But not, under any circumstances "I wish my [wife/girlfriend/significant other/mother] wore dresses." (That one's really creepy.)

And this is certainly not a pressing ill that must be remedied before women can achieve full equality, but hey, this is a dress blog and I have to stay on topic!

This picture is from the marvelous Plan59. Go visit!

0 thoughts on “I missed blogging against sexism!

  1. I totally agree with you. I’m still in high school and I’ve got this whole pet peeve about all the sexist stuff that goes on. (especially at my new high school, it’s sexist central.)I truely mean it when I state my opinion and I’ve told people the same thing numerous time: if a guy wants me to wear “feminine” or “female” clothes then they’ll have to wear it all first before I even consider it.I love pants, they’re comfortable, warm, and you can’t flip them up or stick a camera phone under there to get a panty shot. I never liked dresses cause they always made me feel naked.Also I don’t believe in the idea “women should use what go gave them.” Yeah, right. For centuries women have been insulted and treated bad because they decide to flirt and also use their “seducing power” which is their body to have fun with men. So many women like that idea and use it to such an advantage that most of the guys in high school will either A) think you’re easy or B) treat you like sh*t because you aren’t “feminine”.I’m personally sick of sexism. My father is sexist so when I ask for things like chocolate he assumes I’m being an “average female” and on my period. (FYI I don’t crave chocolate at that time, neither does my mother, so where he got the idea that we were like that is a mystery to me).But whatever, that’s just my opinion. I don’t mind “girly girls”, but I hate how people assume that that’s how females are suppossed to be, not rough-and-tumble-sword-loving-tomboy. (which is kinda what I am)So I give props to you Erin!


  2. And THIS is why I will remain single and a virgin until I die. For fear of insulting any women by, heaven forbid, talking to you and triggering a fresh gyser of flammable female repression oil for you to ignite and light your lynch mob tourches, I’ll simply exclude you. This display of the distorted aggrandizement of ones personal victimhood is repulsive. i had no idea that the inner workings of the female mind were, in effect a minefield.


  3. Actually, Anonymous, I think we would all greatly prefer that you remain single and a virgin until you die. Better that than pass along your ridiculous excuse for thinking to the next generation.SOOO much better to say you’re single and a virgin because all women are man-hating feminist bitches instead of because you’re inept at social niceties and personally unattractive, huh?


  4. When it comes to wearing dresses, at least you have that social choice now. Look how far womens behavior and fashion has come to be liberated; now compare that to mens behavior fashion . . . still stuck in the 1950s. And its not stuck there because men dont want to liberate themselves — many do — but our stupid sexist society wont let men liberate themselves to the degree that women have done; ironically women are just as guilty as other men in regulating and forbidding those men who want to free themselves from the tyranny of gender roles. Talk about hypocrisy.


  5. Although its super-late, Im reading posts I missed before I caught on to this blog, so forgive me. I was walking to class one day, and passed a man who said I like your dress…women dont wear dresses anymore. I thought he was right. Perhaps I like it when women wear dresses comes from the fact that nowadays, women rarely wear them. Its a refreshing change – something different. I like being different.


  6. (Sorry I’m late to the party!)

    Interesting debate here. I think the phrase ‘I like it when women wear dresses’ can have different emphases based on context.

    I’ve one particular acquaintance that I loathe wearing dresses around because his ‘I like it when women wear dresses’ *is* emphatically sexist, he’s a pretty skeevy, entitled kind of person. As the only woman in that particular circle of acquaintances he makes it very clear that he considers my role to be mainly decorative. Although he’s quick to ask my advice too, it feels like he sees me as a resource that he as a man is entitled to use when he wants. I’d feel sorry for his girlfriend, but she seems quite a sensible woman so she knows what she’s getting into.

    I asked the friend with whom I go to these gatherings whether I was being over-sensitive in my repulsion when the skeevemeister comments on my appearance favourably when I wear dresses and skirts and he agreed that I wasn’t seeing things that weren’t there.

    Some other men who’ve made that and similar comments to me though, I think have had purer intentions but thoughtless phrasing. I’m not ‘girly’, but enjoy wearing dresses and skirts from time to time, just rarely enough that friends and colleagues are surprised by it and so make comments varying from ‘you look nice in a dress’ to ‘oh, why don’t you wear dresses more often?’ but in their cases it isn’t shorthand for ‘why don’t you confirm with lady-stereotypes more?’ and more as ‘oh, that’s pretty, why do you always wear boring grey trousers when you have pretty things like this stashed away?’ from most people who ask. The answer being that I like my many pairs of grey trousers and I’m quite happy to say that, which if it gets the reaction ‘fair enough’ tells me they’re okay. If they try to persuade me to change my dress-style to suit their tastes then they’re not worth my time (which makes it a handy litmus test).


    • I like “if they try to persuade me to change my dress-style to suit their tastes then they’re not worth my time” — exactly!


  7. Erin – I didn’t see this the first time around. I don’t think it’s an over-reaction either. Long ago, when I was in college the first time around,(mini-skirt era), I had a boyfriend who said “Wear short skirts; I like to look at your legs.” *

    That’s where the “I like it when women wear dresses” is coming from, I think, whether it’s legs or cleavage.

    *Naturally, being a contrary type, I didn’t wear less than floor-length skirts or pants for at least 5 years.** And, also naturally, we did not remain involved very much longer…

    **Actually, now that I think about it, it creeped me out when he told me to do that. It wasn’t just contrariness. And when, after about 5 years, I did wear a shortish skirt once, the little boy in the house was looking up my skirt as I came down the stairs.


  8. And for another comparison, I heard a guy say “I don’t like to see a woman smoking.”

    I’ve never been a smoker, but that is clearly denying all women the option of doing whatever.


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