As If I Needed More Proof That I Am Getting Old, Part Two
I found myself thinking the younger writer sounded bratty, her arguments boiling down to "This is how I want to dress. You don't have to look". Any woman who has ever breastfed knows that there are times when the public may see your breasts and you hope no one stares, so I understand the "just look away if it bothers you" argument. However, I also know how hard it is to avoid staring at something on display and when I see the cleavage some women are sporting (and the bras that are sold to get their breasts to look the way they do), it is impossible to deny that breasts are not on display.
The older writer makes the observation "I keep thinking there’s a relationship between the present day, show-it-off aesthetic and the pole dancing being taken up by women of all ages, which I understand is supposed to be fine exercise, limber muscles and so forth, but basically fills me with such feminist despair that I just want to go sit in the dark by myself. Am I overreacting? Or are you all coming of age now convinced that sexuality has to be part of what you present to the world?"
I have asked myself this question as well. What is going on with the young girls today? But the younger writer isn't that much younger than I am. she is closer to me, in age, than the older writer. So what changed in the decade between when I came of age and when she did?
Off the top of my head, I can think of two things that have changed the landscape for girls today. The first is that sexual harassment policies and laws are designed to protect them from unwanted sexual comments and advances. So women and girls feel safer to express themselves in public, believing themselves to be protected. But why has self-expression come to equal self-exposure? Because, and this is the second thing that has changed, pornography won. Instead of becoming a society where people are judged on their merits and not their gender, we live in a society where women are told that being sexy is a requirement for advancement.
Maybe I am so irritated by this because I have always been self-conscious about my breasts and, in most situations, I try not to call attention to them. I can't understand why anyone would want to outside of a social setting--I mean, I understand wanting people to want you (whether you are available or not), but honestly, I don't want to be viewed as a sexual object 24/7. Maybe I am just irritated by this because I see this as further evidence of society's sexualization of the breast which, I feel, is partially responsible for our country's low breastfeeding rates and lack of breastfeeding support. Maybe I am annoyed because this just speaks to how far from equality we women are and how so few women seem to care.
I just can't see how anyone would argue with the following statement:
Maybe I am just getting old.
If you have ambition and intelligence, if you’re intent on being taken seriously in the workplace, what is the deal with the cleavage? It’s not just the well-endowed I’m talking about; it’s as though a frenzy of unbuttoning and unzipping has come over everybody, regardless of breast size and regardless of locale. I thought places like the grocery store and work were ones where we prefer not to have people consider at first glance our possible merits as sex partners.Do you all mean to be wearing neon signs that spell out “please look here”?