Men, Women & Freedom

Men, Women & Freedom

Bob
Bob

October 9th, 2005, 5:45 pm #1

I got to thinking about this issue of equal rights and women being allowed to publicly show the same body parts as men. I see the point that many have made, that men can go shirtless in public and its not illegal . . and, depending upon the context (e.g., wearing a swim suit, doing hot, sweaty work) it doesn't raise an eyebrow. In other situations . . say, just walking down the street, and certainly if he enters a place of business . . . objections would be raised, and/or the man might be considered low-class. But, yes, from the legality standpoint as well as socially, men are definitely more free to bare their chests in public.

But, then, in other respects, women are MORE FREE than men to bare other parts of their bodies. Women can wear open-toe shoes at any time, including at work, and no one objects or thinks anything of it. If a man bares his feet in any setting except the most casual (and never at work!), he will elicit comments and perhaps be told to dress more appropriately (e.g., I have worn casual slip-on shoes to work that showed no skin, and was told I should wear dress shoes instead).

Likewise, women are free to show their legs from mid-thigh on down, but if a man does the same thing in any but the most casual setting, he will probably be told that it doesn't fly. Also, I think tyhe common view of men and women is that female legs are "pretty" (thus acceptable for public display)while male legs are "ugly" (to be hidden from view of the general public).

And, women are free to wear sleeveless tops that show their entire arms and shoulders, and V-neck blouses and dresses that show their chests above the breasts, and that will be acceptable. If a man wore sleeveless or V-neck in any but the most casual of settings (and never at work!), he would be told that it is not acceptable. As with the shirtless man, in many situations, the guy who showed his shoulders and chest areas would be considered low-class for doing so.

Today, many young females wear midriff-bearing tops (thanks Shania!) and while the older folks might raise an eyebrow, no one under 40 is going to consider it improper. The girl probably couldn't wear that to work, but she isn't going to be denied service in most any business she patronizes. Can you imagine the reactions if young men started wearing tops like that? Again, I think it would be considered inappropriate and perhaps indicative of low-class upbringing.

So, while females are somewhat less free than males when it comes to baring their chests in public (at least in the U.S.), in several other respects females are MORE FREE than men to bare their skin publicly.
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Anudist
Anudist

October 9th, 2005, 6:43 pm #2

I don't know where you live but here in AZ its common for men to wear shorts and expose their ugly legs! :GRIN:


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Boreas
Boreas

October 10th, 2005, 4:24 pm #3

I got to thinking about this issue of equal rights and women being allowed to publicly show the same body parts as men. I see the point that many have made, that men can go shirtless in public and its not illegal . . and, depending upon the context (e.g., wearing a swim suit, doing hot, sweaty work) it doesn't raise an eyebrow. In other situations . . say, just walking down the street, and certainly if he enters a place of business . . . objections would be raised, and/or the man might be considered low-class. But, yes, from the legality standpoint as well as socially, men are definitely more free to bare their chests in public.

But, then, in other respects, women are MORE FREE than men to bare other parts of their bodies. Women can wear open-toe shoes at any time, including at work, and no one objects or thinks anything of it. If a man bares his feet in any setting except the most casual (and never at work!), he will elicit comments and perhaps be told to dress more appropriately (e.g., I have worn casual slip-on shoes to work that showed no skin, and was told I should wear dress shoes instead).

Likewise, women are free to show their legs from mid-thigh on down, but if a man does the same thing in any but the most casual setting, he will probably be told that it doesn't fly. Also, I think tyhe common view of men and women is that female legs are "pretty" (thus acceptable for public display)while male legs are "ugly" (to be hidden from view of the general public).

And, women are free to wear sleeveless tops that show their entire arms and shoulders, and V-neck blouses and dresses that show their chests above the breasts, and that will be acceptable. If a man wore sleeveless or V-neck in any but the most casual of settings (and never at work!), he would be told that it is not acceptable. As with the shirtless man, in many situations, the guy who showed his shoulders and chest areas would be considered low-class for doing so.

Today, many young females wear midriff-bearing tops (thanks Shania!) and while the older folks might raise an eyebrow, no one under 40 is going to consider it improper. The girl probably couldn't wear that to work, but she isn't going to be denied service in most any business she patronizes. Can you imagine the reactions if young men started wearing tops like that? Again, I think it would be considered inappropriate and perhaps indicative of low-class upbringing.

So, while females are somewhat less free than males when it comes to baring their chests in public (at least in the U.S.), in several other respects females are MORE FREE than men to bare their skin publicly.
Hi, you raise soem good points. I can challenge a couple. Men in certain groups can wear kilts very effectively and appropriately. Although it is not common, it is perfectly acceptable for a man to wear a kilt in public for a normal event, not a Scottish festival. Years ago I went on a date with a guy who wore his kilt and a casual shirt. I wore pants. We did get a few glances, but no one seemed disdainful!

Men in some circles can wear sandals. If you don't work in in a strict white collar business setting I think that sandals are okay as long as safety is not comprimised. I know that neither men nor women can wear open toed shoes where injuries can occur. (ie hospitals) Worker's Comp will not cover such injuries if the employee had open toed shoes.

Certain young men in some settings do wear bare midriffs and bare arms. Of course, that is not allowed in strict business settings either.

So, dust off your kilt and try to see if it is accepted!

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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

October 10th, 2005, 5:22 pm #4

I got to thinking about this issue of equal rights and women being allowed to publicly show the same body parts as men. I see the point that many have made, that men can go shirtless in public and its not illegal . . and, depending upon the context (e.g., wearing a swim suit, doing hot, sweaty work) it doesn't raise an eyebrow. In other situations . . say, just walking down the street, and certainly if he enters a place of business . . . objections would be raised, and/or the man might be considered low-class. But, yes, from the legality standpoint as well as socially, men are definitely more free to bare their chests in public.

But, then, in other respects, women are MORE FREE than men to bare other parts of their bodies. Women can wear open-toe shoes at any time, including at work, and no one objects or thinks anything of it. If a man bares his feet in any setting except the most casual (and never at work!), he will elicit comments and perhaps be told to dress more appropriately (e.g., I have worn casual slip-on shoes to work that showed no skin, and was told I should wear dress shoes instead).

Likewise, women are free to show their legs from mid-thigh on down, but if a man does the same thing in any but the most casual setting, he will probably be told that it doesn't fly. Also, I think tyhe common view of men and women is that female legs are "pretty" (thus acceptable for public display)while male legs are "ugly" (to be hidden from view of the general public).

And, women are free to wear sleeveless tops that show their entire arms and shoulders, and V-neck blouses and dresses that show their chests above the breasts, and that will be acceptable. If a man wore sleeveless or V-neck in any but the most casual of settings (and never at work!), he would be told that it is not acceptable. As with the shirtless man, in many situations, the guy who showed his shoulders and chest areas would be considered low-class for doing so.

Today, many young females wear midriff-bearing tops (thanks Shania!) and while the older folks might raise an eyebrow, no one under 40 is going to consider it improper. The girl probably couldn't wear that to work, but she isn't going to be denied service in most any business she patronizes. Can you imagine the reactions if young men started wearing tops like that? Again, I think it would be considered inappropriate and perhaps indicative of low-class upbringing.

So, while females are somewhat less free than males when it comes to baring their chests in public (at least in the U.S.), in several other respects females are MORE FREE than men to bare their skin publicly.
You raise some legitimate points- which I have myself in the past. I still recall how ticked I was as a school boy in the '50-60s because girls could be bare-legged at school on hot fall and spring days while us boys had to wear long pants and hot leather shoes. Maybe this is where I developed my distaste for arbitrary clothing rules.

So yes, in general women do have more freedom of dress, especially in business and semi-formal situations. But maybe men should have more freedom rather than deny women topfreedom rights.

As for women topfreedom I'm always bemused when opponents say things like "who wants to see bare breasted women in restaurants and shopping malls?" Ofcourse, we don't expect women to do their shopping topfree any more than a shirtless man would. It's just one of those silly strawman arguments opponents throw up however illogical.
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John Bayko
John Bayko

October 10th, 2005, 6:53 pm #5

I got to thinking about this issue of equal rights and women being allowed to publicly show the same body parts as men. I see the point that many have made, that men can go shirtless in public and its not illegal . . and, depending upon the context (e.g., wearing a swim suit, doing hot, sweaty work) it doesn't raise an eyebrow. In other situations . . say, just walking down the street, and certainly if he enters a place of business . . . objections would be raised, and/or the man might be considered low-class. But, yes, from the legality standpoint as well as socially, men are definitely more free to bare their chests in public.

But, then, in other respects, women are MORE FREE than men to bare other parts of their bodies. Women can wear open-toe shoes at any time, including at work, and no one objects or thinks anything of it. If a man bares his feet in any setting except the most casual (and never at work!), he will elicit comments and perhaps be told to dress more appropriately (e.g., I have worn casual slip-on shoes to work that showed no skin, and was told I should wear dress shoes instead).

Likewise, women are free to show their legs from mid-thigh on down, but if a man does the same thing in any but the most casual setting, he will probably be told that it doesn't fly. Also, I think tyhe common view of men and women is that female legs are "pretty" (thus acceptable for public display)while male legs are "ugly" (to be hidden from view of the general public).

And, women are free to wear sleeveless tops that show their entire arms and shoulders, and V-neck blouses and dresses that show their chests above the breasts, and that will be acceptable. If a man wore sleeveless or V-neck in any but the most casual of settings (and never at work!), he would be told that it is not acceptable. As with the shirtless man, in many situations, the guy who showed his shoulders and chest areas would be considered low-class for doing so.

Today, many young females wear midriff-bearing tops (thanks Shania!) and while the older folks might raise an eyebrow, no one under 40 is going to consider it improper. The girl probably couldn't wear that to work, but she isn't going to be denied service in most any business she patronizes. Can you imagine the reactions if young men started wearing tops like that? Again, I think it would be considered inappropriate and perhaps indicative of low-class upbringing.

So, while females are somewhat less free than males when it comes to baring their chests in public (at least in the U.S.), in several other respects females are MORE FREE than men to bare their skin publicly.
"[...] Also, I think tyhe common view of men and women is that female legs are "pretty" (thus acceptable for public display)while male legs are "ugly" (to be hidden from view of the general public). [...]"

Perhaps replace "ugly" with "hairy", and you'll see that it's not so much a difference by sex. Male swimmers shave their legs (and bodies) believing it reduces drag, and are usually considered to have attractive legs. Bodybuilders do so too, but only for appearance.

There's also a matter of purpose. Men dress to conceal their physical flaws, while women want to emphacise their physical assets, largely because this is what is appealing to others for many small reasons that accumulate.

Men consider touching, even casually, to be more sexual than women. Try this out in public with a male friend - hold his hand. Chances are, unless he's gay, a man can't hold another man's hand for more than 10 seconds (unless he's trying to prove a point, in which case he will hold another man's hand for exactly 10.5 seconds). Men associate touching with sex in a way that makes holding hands seem "gay", and their aversion to homosexuality makes them want to avoid that. Women, on the other hand, hold hands easilly and without thinking of it, because there is no connection in their minds between that and sex. Men often perceive this as meaning that women are more open to bisexuality, or are inherently bisexual, but most[1] women really have nearly as much aversion to homosexuality as men (nearly - physical differences make female sexuality less "physically intrusive", let's say, than male sexuality, therefore less threatening because it pretty much must be consentual).

This extends to sight as well. It may not be primary, but I'm sure there's a homosexual component to the dislike for seeing other men's bodies (plus hairiness, or maybe simply being pudgy or otherwise less than a Greek statue of a man). The exception being in terms of fitness - men who want to be more fit do tend to make admiring comparisons, but usually within a limited context deemed to be "acceptable", such as gym or locker room (gay men, who are much more often concerned with their physical appearance, tend to take advantage of that, and sometimes gyms can be a sort of "pick-up" spot).

Women enjoy seeing the image that a man chooses to put forth[2], in terms of clothing or accessories, more than seeing the undecorated body, and so there is influence on both sides towards men wearing more clothing, rather than less.

Women, also enjoy seeing how other women express themselves in clothing, jewelry, and so on. And because women also enjoy expressing themselves this way, they are much more flamboyant in how they do so. In contrast, men aren't usually as interested in expressing themselves, so tend to dress much like all the others (gathering around a kind of "consensus appearance" based on different situations - work, formal wear, casual, etc. - that they don't have to make many decisions about). I suppose that tendency disappoints women, but they still think a man in a tuxedo is really sexy - for making the effort to dress up if nothing else.

Women also respond in different degrees to male desire to see their bodies - providing they look good. So there is a tendency to expose more as part of their self-decorating, as they see fit. There are several factors that limit how much, such as wanting to project a certain image ("not a slut", for example, or "not a slob"[2]), embarassment, being acceptable to other women, being respected by male co-workers, and so on. However, the end result is a lot of social leeway for how women dress.

The converse for men is that the tendency to conform to a limited, common dress code becomes not just a convenience (lack of anything better to wear, really), but an expectation. Deviation is simply so rare that it's considered an offense (albiet a mild one).

A lot of this hits a wall at the point where women do find appearance to be sexual - or at least where it crosses the line between sexy and sexual. This is where breasts sit. On one hand, for many reasons they are considered on the "sex" side. The feelings, especially the nipples, can be strongly sexual, and some women can experience orgasm only from "breast play". Men find them very sexually arousing, often to the point of obsession, and see access to them as part of the "sexual script" that leads to sex itself. And women notice this (it's hard to miss, isn't it?).

On the other hand, breasts are the way babies have been fed for thousands of years, and that has been their essential purpose (essential in that, before baby formula, if they weren't used for that, the human population would have gone extinct). They are also a really obvious, un-concealable fact of life that is still there even when sex is not even a remote possibility. And to a lot of women, they're not particularly arousing (while many men find their own nipples as sexual as some women - to some paraplegics who have no feeling below the waist, nipple stimulation is the primary sexual trigger).

A lot of the trouble, I think, is that statement above - breasts are there, sex or no sex. They're often sexual and used in sex, often not, used for non-sexual things (um, need a place to hold a pencil for a bit?). Contrast this with a penis, it behaves very differently when it's getting ready for a plunge (as it were) than it does when it's draining a bladder. For breasts, it's entirely a matter of context, but there are two difficulties with that.

One is that context depends on perception, and what may be non-sexual for one person can be viewed as sexual for another. One poster here posted a picture of herself, breasts visible in a very casual setting, but was most upset to learn that someone else enjoyed masturbating to the image.

The other difficulty is that some people simply don't want to make the effort to distinguish based on context. Some view breasts as being always sexual, all the time, even to the point of including breast feeding - one woman's children were taken away from here and placed in foster care because the authorities thought breast feeding was sexual abuse of a baby:

http://www.equityfeminism.com/archives/ ... 00033.html

Others want to promote breasts as never being sexual, or being sexually equivalent of legs or shoulders. This, too, ignores context (though sometimes context is implied, as a public place implies a completely non-sexual context).

The upshot of all this is that the relative freedom women have regarding how much skin they can show in most cases is different than freedom when it comes to breasts in public.

Does that explain things a bit?


[1] A recent survey found that the number of women who have experimented with bisexuality has increased, possibly as a result of increasing acceptance of lesbian behaviour either in society or just among their peers (and men who just think that's hot). A news report on that is here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9358339/

Summary or the original results is here:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/p ... /ad362.htm

I understand that men also frequently experiment with same-sex activities, but don't consider it "gay" - rather, it's considered a form of masturbation, and so falls outside the category of "sex".

[2] Some people, such as the poster elijah, might see this as an evolutionary adaptation for women to be attracted to wealth, which tends to show up in a man's appearance and possessions (car, house, etc.), but women can just as easily fall for the "biker look", "rebel", "metrosexual", or many non-rich personalities. If a generalization needs to be made, women are often attracted to men who are independent and do not need them or anything else in their life - but do want them, by virtue of the woman's own innate abilities to offer him something he can't find elsewhere (especially other women). It's more of a self-esteem thing, but often appears like a money-attracts type thing.

[3] This relates to bra freedom - that is, freedom to not wear a bra. It's considered so much an expectation of being "normal", that not wearing one makes a women stand out as "different", and that often means "inferior". To justify this "inferior" classification, assumptions are made that the woman is "slutty" or a "slob", or something else which the judging woman thinks she is better than. No other evidence of any sort is needed for this assumption to make her happy, as long as she feels she understands everything's place relative to her.
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Joined: September 20th, 2003, 4:27 pm

October 10th, 2005, 8:42 pm #6

<<One is that context depends on perception, and what may be non-sexual for one person can be viewed as sexual for another. One poster here posted a picture of herself, breasts visible in a very casual setting, but was most upset to learn that someone else enjoyed masturbating to the image.>>

Hmmm. Could be that the poster was not upset with the fact that someone enjoyed her picture in such a way, but was upset because the male poster was being antagonistic with her and cutting her down both in her appearance and her statements. He was announcing his actions with intent to incite her anger. There was no genuine pleasure in that particular case, only a rape, if you will, to her psyche. Some men are fond of putting women in their places that way. Some commit violent sexual acts, some commit the same in a more covert way, and some also like to make random jabs out of left field because they are too chicken to respond to a full on challenge to spar via -- say -- email. But it is all really the same.
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meredith
meredith

October 10th, 2005, 9:26 pm #7

"[...] Also, I think tyhe common view of men and women is that female legs are "pretty" (thus acceptable for public display)while male legs are "ugly" (to be hidden from view of the general public). [...]"

Perhaps replace "ugly" with "hairy", and you'll see that it's not so much a difference by sex. Male swimmers shave their legs (and bodies) believing it reduces drag, and are usually considered to have attractive legs. Bodybuilders do so too, but only for appearance.

There's also a matter of purpose. Men dress to conceal their physical flaws, while women want to emphacise their physical assets, largely because this is what is appealing to others for many small reasons that accumulate.

Men consider touching, even casually, to be more sexual than women. Try this out in public with a male friend - hold his hand. Chances are, unless he's gay, a man can't hold another man's hand for more than 10 seconds (unless he's trying to prove a point, in which case he will hold another man's hand for exactly 10.5 seconds). Men associate touching with sex in a way that makes holding hands seem "gay", and their aversion to homosexuality makes them want to avoid that. Women, on the other hand, hold hands easilly and without thinking of it, because there is no connection in their minds between that and sex. Men often perceive this as meaning that women are more open to bisexuality, or are inherently bisexual, but most[1] women really have nearly as much aversion to homosexuality as men (nearly - physical differences make female sexuality less "physically intrusive", let's say, than male sexuality, therefore less threatening because it pretty much must be consentual).

This extends to sight as well. It may not be primary, but I'm sure there's a homosexual component to the dislike for seeing other men's bodies (plus hairiness, or maybe simply being pudgy or otherwise less than a Greek statue of a man). The exception being in terms of fitness - men who want to be more fit do tend to make admiring comparisons, but usually within a limited context deemed to be "acceptable", such as gym or locker room (gay men, who are much more often concerned with their physical appearance, tend to take advantage of that, and sometimes gyms can be a sort of "pick-up" spot).

Women enjoy seeing the image that a man chooses to put forth[2], in terms of clothing or accessories, more than seeing the undecorated body, and so there is influence on both sides towards men wearing more clothing, rather than less.

Women, also enjoy seeing how other women express themselves in clothing, jewelry, and so on. And because women also enjoy expressing themselves this way, they are much more flamboyant in how they do so. In contrast, men aren't usually as interested in expressing themselves, so tend to dress much like all the others (gathering around a kind of "consensus appearance" based on different situations - work, formal wear, casual, etc. - that they don't have to make many decisions about). I suppose that tendency disappoints women, but they still think a man in a tuxedo is really sexy - for making the effort to dress up if nothing else.

Women also respond in different degrees to male desire to see their bodies - providing they look good. So there is a tendency to expose more as part of their self-decorating, as they see fit. There are several factors that limit how much, such as wanting to project a certain image ("not a slut", for example, or "not a slob"[2]), embarassment, being acceptable to other women, being respected by male co-workers, and so on. However, the end result is a lot of social leeway for how women dress.

The converse for men is that the tendency to conform to a limited, common dress code becomes not just a convenience (lack of anything better to wear, really), but an expectation. Deviation is simply so rare that it's considered an offense (albiet a mild one).

A lot of this hits a wall at the point where women do find appearance to be sexual - or at least where it crosses the line between sexy and sexual. This is where breasts sit. On one hand, for many reasons they are considered on the "sex" side. The feelings, especially the nipples, can be strongly sexual, and some women can experience orgasm only from "breast play". Men find them very sexually arousing, often to the point of obsession, and see access to them as part of the "sexual script" that leads to sex itself. And women notice this (it's hard to miss, isn't it?).

On the other hand, breasts are the way babies have been fed for thousands of years, and that has been their essential purpose (essential in that, before baby formula, if they weren't used for that, the human population would have gone extinct). They are also a really obvious, un-concealable fact of life that is still there even when sex is not even a remote possibility. And to a lot of women, they're not particularly arousing (while many men find their own nipples as sexual as some women - to some paraplegics who have no feeling below the waist, nipple stimulation is the primary sexual trigger).

A lot of the trouble, I think, is that statement above - breasts are there, sex or no sex. They're often sexual and used in sex, often not, used for non-sexual things (um, need a place to hold a pencil for a bit?). Contrast this with a penis, it behaves very differently when it's getting ready for a plunge (as it were) than it does when it's draining a bladder. For breasts, it's entirely a matter of context, but there are two difficulties with that.

One is that context depends on perception, and what may be non-sexual for one person can be viewed as sexual for another. One poster here posted a picture of herself, breasts visible in a very casual setting, but was most upset to learn that someone else enjoyed masturbating to the image.

The other difficulty is that some people simply don't want to make the effort to distinguish based on context. Some view breasts as being always sexual, all the time, even to the point of including breast feeding - one woman's children were taken away from here and placed in foster care because the authorities thought breast feeding was sexual abuse of a baby:

http://www.equityfeminism.com/archives/ ... 00033.html

Others want to promote breasts as never being sexual, or being sexually equivalent of legs or shoulders. This, too, ignores context (though sometimes context is implied, as a public place implies a completely non-sexual context).

The upshot of all this is that the relative freedom women have regarding how much skin they can show in most cases is different than freedom when it comes to breasts in public.

Does that explain things a bit?


[1] A recent survey found that the number of women who have experimented with bisexuality has increased, possibly as a result of increasing acceptance of lesbian behaviour either in society or just among their peers (and men who just think that's hot). A news report on that is here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9358339/

Summary or the original results is here:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/p ... /ad362.htm

I understand that men also frequently experiment with same-sex activities, but don't consider it "gay" - rather, it's considered a form of masturbation, and so falls outside the category of "sex".

[2] Some people, such as the poster elijah, might see this as an evolutionary adaptation for women to be attracted to wealth, which tends to show up in a man's appearance and possessions (car, house, etc.), but women can just as easily fall for the "biker look", "rebel", "metrosexual", or many non-rich personalities. If a generalization needs to be made, women are often attracted to men who are independent and do not need them or anything else in their life - but do want them, by virtue of the woman's own innate abilities to offer him something he can't find elsewhere (especially other women). It's more of a self-esteem thing, but often appears like a money-attracts type thing.

[3] This relates to bra freedom - that is, freedom to not wear a bra. It's considered so much an expectation of being "normal", that not wearing one makes a women stand out as "different", and that often means "inferior". To justify this "inferior" classification, assumptions are made that the woman is "slutty" or a "slob", or something else which the judging woman thinks she is better than. No other evidence of any sort is needed for this assumption to make her happy, as long as she feels she understands everything's place relative to her.
An outstanding analysis. I have minor disagreements here and there, but I think you have made a major contribution.
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Bob
Bob

October 10th, 2005, 11:01 pm #8

"[...] Also, I think tyhe common view of men and women is that female legs are "pretty" (thus acceptable for public display)while male legs are "ugly" (to be hidden from view of the general public). [...]"

Perhaps replace "ugly" with "hairy", and you'll see that it's not so much a difference by sex. Male swimmers shave their legs (and bodies) believing it reduces drag, and are usually considered to have attractive legs. Bodybuilders do so too, but only for appearance.

There's also a matter of purpose. Men dress to conceal their physical flaws, while women want to emphacise their physical assets, largely because this is what is appealing to others for many small reasons that accumulate.

Men consider touching, even casually, to be more sexual than women. Try this out in public with a male friend - hold his hand. Chances are, unless he's gay, a man can't hold another man's hand for more than 10 seconds (unless he's trying to prove a point, in which case he will hold another man's hand for exactly 10.5 seconds). Men associate touching with sex in a way that makes holding hands seem "gay", and their aversion to homosexuality makes them want to avoid that. Women, on the other hand, hold hands easilly and without thinking of it, because there is no connection in their minds between that and sex. Men often perceive this as meaning that women are more open to bisexuality, or are inherently bisexual, but most[1] women really have nearly as much aversion to homosexuality as men (nearly - physical differences make female sexuality less "physically intrusive", let's say, than male sexuality, therefore less threatening because it pretty much must be consentual).

This extends to sight as well. It may not be primary, but I'm sure there's a homosexual component to the dislike for seeing other men's bodies (plus hairiness, or maybe simply being pudgy or otherwise less than a Greek statue of a man). The exception being in terms of fitness - men who want to be more fit do tend to make admiring comparisons, but usually within a limited context deemed to be "acceptable", such as gym or locker room (gay men, who are much more often concerned with their physical appearance, tend to take advantage of that, and sometimes gyms can be a sort of "pick-up" spot).

Women enjoy seeing the image that a man chooses to put forth[2], in terms of clothing or accessories, more than seeing the undecorated body, and so there is influence on both sides towards men wearing more clothing, rather than less.

Women, also enjoy seeing how other women express themselves in clothing, jewelry, and so on. And because women also enjoy expressing themselves this way, they are much more flamboyant in how they do so. In contrast, men aren't usually as interested in expressing themselves, so tend to dress much like all the others (gathering around a kind of "consensus appearance" based on different situations - work, formal wear, casual, etc. - that they don't have to make many decisions about). I suppose that tendency disappoints women, but they still think a man in a tuxedo is really sexy - for making the effort to dress up if nothing else.

Women also respond in different degrees to male desire to see their bodies - providing they look good. So there is a tendency to expose more as part of their self-decorating, as they see fit. There are several factors that limit how much, such as wanting to project a certain image ("not a slut", for example, or "not a slob"[2]), embarassment, being acceptable to other women, being respected by male co-workers, and so on. However, the end result is a lot of social leeway for how women dress.

The converse for men is that the tendency to conform to a limited, common dress code becomes not just a convenience (lack of anything better to wear, really), but an expectation. Deviation is simply so rare that it's considered an offense (albiet a mild one).

A lot of this hits a wall at the point where women do find appearance to be sexual - or at least where it crosses the line between sexy and sexual. This is where breasts sit. On one hand, for many reasons they are considered on the "sex" side. The feelings, especially the nipples, can be strongly sexual, and some women can experience orgasm only from "breast play". Men find them very sexually arousing, often to the point of obsession, and see access to them as part of the "sexual script" that leads to sex itself. And women notice this (it's hard to miss, isn't it?).

On the other hand, breasts are the way babies have been fed for thousands of years, and that has been their essential purpose (essential in that, before baby formula, if they weren't used for that, the human population would have gone extinct). They are also a really obvious, un-concealable fact of life that is still there even when sex is not even a remote possibility. And to a lot of women, they're not particularly arousing (while many men find their own nipples as sexual as some women - to some paraplegics who have no feeling below the waist, nipple stimulation is the primary sexual trigger).

A lot of the trouble, I think, is that statement above - breasts are there, sex or no sex. They're often sexual and used in sex, often not, used for non-sexual things (um, need a place to hold a pencil for a bit?). Contrast this with a penis, it behaves very differently when it's getting ready for a plunge (as it were) than it does when it's draining a bladder. For breasts, it's entirely a matter of context, but there are two difficulties with that.

One is that context depends on perception, and what may be non-sexual for one person can be viewed as sexual for another. One poster here posted a picture of herself, breasts visible in a very casual setting, but was most upset to learn that someone else enjoyed masturbating to the image.

The other difficulty is that some people simply don't want to make the effort to distinguish based on context. Some view breasts as being always sexual, all the time, even to the point of including breast feeding - one woman's children were taken away from here and placed in foster care because the authorities thought breast feeding was sexual abuse of a baby:

http://www.equityfeminism.com/archives/ ... 00033.html

Others want to promote breasts as never being sexual, or being sexually equivalent of legs or shoulders. This, too, ignores context (though sometimes context is implied, as a public place implies a completely non-sexual context).

The upshot of all this is that the relative freedom women have regarding how much skin they can show in most cases is different than freedom when it comes to breasts in public.

Does that explain things a bit?


[1] A recent survey found that the number of women who have experimented with bisexuality has increased, possibly as a result of increasing acceptance of lesbian behaviour either in society or just among their peers (and men who just think that's hot). A news report on that is here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9358339/

Summary or the original results is here:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/p ... /ad362.htm

I understand that men also frequently experiment with same-sex activities, but don't consider it "gay" - rather, it's considered a form of masturbation, and so falls outside the category of "sex".

[2] Some people, such as the poster elijah, might see this as an evolutionary adaptation for women to be attracted to wealth, which tends to show up in a man's appearance and possessions (car, house, etc.), but women can just as easily fall for the "biker look", "rebel", "metrosexual", or many non-rich personalities. If a generalization needs to be made, women are often attracted to men who are independent and do not need them or anything else in their life - but do want them, by virtue of the woman's own innate abilities to offer him something he can't find elsewhere (especially other women). It's more of a self-esteem thing, but often appears like a money-attracts type thing.

[3] This relates to bra freedom - that is, freedom to not wear a bra. It's considered so much an expectation of being "normal", that not wearing one makes a women stand out as "different", and that often means "inferior". To justify this "inferior" classification, assumptions are made that the woman is "slutty" or a "slob", or something else which the judging woman thinks she is better than. No other evidence of any sort is needed for this assumption to make her happy, as long as she feels she understands everything's place relative to her.
As for the claim that it is the hairness of men's legs that might earn them the designation as more-ugly than women's legs: I think another factor is that women's bodies have that much-publicized layer of fat that, among other things, gives their bodies (legs included) a smoother, more contoured appearance, which I think is a more visually appealing to most people. An interesting experiment for your hypothesis is if a group of men (I am NOT volunteering --- sorry, no kilt-wearer here!) shaved their legs and then wore shorts to work, to fine restaurants, to the theatre, etc. and see what reactions they get. I believe there would still be much more negative reactions toward a man attired in shorts than to a woman similarly dressed.

I do not work in a highly-formal setting. Its health care-related, mostly female staff, and people (including me) tend to dress more casually. In my experience, the women (except, possibly, the top supervisors) can wear almost anything and its not a problem. Male staff, on the other hand, are expected (and told) that they should not get too casual, as this does not present a professional image (I've been told this). Its a double standard that, in this case, disadvantages men.

My overall experience has been that women enjoy many freedoms denied to men, yet the only things we ever hear much about are the ways that women suffer discrimination. Personally, I think women today have a much better place in American society than men. Once the educational and employment options opened up for women, they could do anything a man could do, plus things men aren't allowed (or, perhaps, naturally not as capable of as women).
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Joined: October 22nd, 2003, 1:43 am

October 10th, 2005, 11:42 pm #9

I am a full time kilt wearer, 100% of the time and have been now for almost 2 years. I am a nurse and there for am required to look professional when at work..I wear it there. I am also a contractor, dealing with customers on a daily basis and again I still wear it. I also live in a very "red neck" community and have never received anything but a possible snicker. It has benefited me in that people remember me and I gain work as a result.
I don't "let" people treat me in a fashion relative to a double standard. I will point out the inappropriateness of such behavior and remind the individual that such behavior may have legal repercussions.
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Adelle
Adelle

October 11th, 2005, 4:56 am #10

I got to thinking about this issue of equal rights and women being allowed to publicly show the same body parts as men. I see the point that many have made, that men can go shirtless in public and its not illegal . . and, depending upon the context (e.g., wearing a swim suit, doing hot, sweaty work) it doesn't raise an eyebrow. In other situations . . say, just walking down the street, and certainly if he enters a place of business . . . objections would be raised, and/or the man might be considered low-class. But, yes, from the legality standpoint as well as socially, men are definitely more free to bare their chests in public.

But, then, in other respects, women are MORE FREE than men to bare other parts of their bodies. Women can wear open-toe shoes at any time, including at work, and no one objects or thinks anything of it. If a man bares his feet in any setting except the most casual (and never at work!), he will elicit comments and perhaps be told to dress more appropriately (e.g., I have worn casual slip-on shoes to work that showed no skin, and was told I should wear dress shoes instead).

Likewise, women are free to show their legs from mid-thigh on down, but if a man does the same thing in any but the most casual setting, he will probably be told that it doesn't fly. Also, I think tyhe common view of men and women is that female legs are "pretty" (thus acceptable for public display)while male legs are "ugly" (to be hidden from view of the general public).

And, women are free to wear sleeveless tops that show their entire arms and shoulders, and V-neck blouses and dresses that show their chests above the breasts, and that will be acceptable. If a man wore sleeveless or V-neck in any but the most casual of settings (and never at work!), he would be told that it is not acceptable. As with the shirtless man, in many situations, the guy who showed his shoulders and chest areas would be considered low-class for doing so.

Today, many young females wear midriff-bearing tops (thanks Shania!) and while the older folks might raise an eyebrow, no one under 40 is going to consider it improper. The girl probably couldn't wear that to work, but she isn't going to be denied service in most any business she patronizes. Can you imagine the reactions if young men started wearing tops like that? Again, I think it would be considered inappropriate and perhaps indicative of low-class upbringing.

So, while females are somewhat less free than males when it comes to baring their chests in public (at least in the U.S.), in several other respects females are MORE FREE than men to bare their skin publicly.
The social aspects of topfreedom have been handled very well above. There was a time when men dressed like peacocks but that ended in the 1800s and is only found on the stage now. I think, socially, we are still dealing with the "proper middle-class morality" of the Victorian age in some situations, particularly business. So, though I have seen many men wearing sandals and shorts in the summer months here, they are not considered proper business attire.

OTOH, I have yet to see a man harrassed or arrested for indecency, lewd behavour or causing a disturbance simply because he bared his toes or his legs. Thankfully, the same is now true for women regarding those body parts, though men could bare their legs long before women could. In the 20's only 'fast' or 'gay' (meaning loose or prostitute) women showed their legs and it was to be the end of christian culture and American society. Prehaps they were right, if you compare the culture of the 19th century to that of the 21st century. Women get to vote, women get to work (or must work) outside the home, it is illegal to beat a woman (even if she is your wife), women are to be paid the same rate as men for the same job, etc. There are many other changes,of course, most not involving women.

For my part, I have no problem with my breasts being sexual. In certain instances they are but they are also a lot more than that. I am a lot more than that. There is a difference between being sexual and being sexualized.
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