Ask WomenSpeak

“Hey simone interesting post and no I’m not a Woman but a Man. I agree with what your saying, since believe me or not have self-control. Anyway since we both are qualified in Sociology at the tertiary level let me ask this question. There is as you know a psychosocial relationship between the sexes. So is it that if a woman wears a short skirt she herself thinks its sexy or is that men like to see more skin and they think its sexy? in other words is a woman’s thoughts on what is sexy based on men”

You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur. 
― Margaret AtwoodThe Robber Bride

Dear Anonymous,

I’m not sure I know exactly what you mean by “psychosocial relationship” but I do know that the relationship between men and women is influenced by many factors: physical/hormonal; cultural; social.

So, it may be perfectly natural to want to be sexually attractive to the opposite sex, but perhaps the way one determines what that looks like, depends on our cultural definitions of what is ‘sexy’, as well as social ‘gender scripts’ about how women should behave towards men, and men towards women.

Certainly, we know that all modern societies are still greatly driven by the ‘male perspective’. So that the way both women and men come to view the world is based on a male-centred value system. Therein is the conundrum faced in the above quote by Margaret Atwood.

Were you alive when baby-doll dresses were all the rage? I loved me some baby-doll dresses. My boyfriend hated them. Loose and shapeless; not what he thought of as sexy. So maaaaaybe when I was going out with him, I miiiiiight have maybe put on something else. Or not.

What am I trying to say? Well, just that it’s all mixed up and although we are all influenced by these various cultural, social and biological factors, each individual may be more, or less influenced by one factor over the others. In turn this will therefore differently determine the way we relate to men or women, or the choices we make about how we want to present ourselves – in dress, in attitude, in demeanor.

What is important to remember in the context of gender equity and justice is that regardless of a woman’s choice of dress, and for whatever reasons she has made that choice, it does not give others the right to infringe upon her human rights to safety, freedom of movement and freedom from harassment – verbal or physical.