Earlier today, I saw a Facebook post that read: “I am sick of girls wearing yoga leggings everywhere and saying they’re pants. And then complaining that women are still ‘objectified’ by men. If you want to be taken seriously, put on some pants.” Attached was this.

As soon as I read it, I was nauseated and hot.

1. Women have been treated as objects since before they were allowed to show their knees. Read the Bible. We were/are supposed to be servants to men. After three years in confirmation classes, this is imprinted on my brain.

2. Get your head out of your ass. A girl sporting a pair of yoga pants/leggings has no intention of peeking your sexual interest. If you take a moment, and look past her ass, you might see a panty-line. Look a little closer, you might see the outline of a pad. Look up and see her hair piled on top of her head (it probably hasn’t been washed today). Or, look into her eyes, “the window to the soul”, and see they are dark and sunken in. Yoga pants/leggings are comfortable.

I texted my dear friend letting him know I thought his post was rude (and wrong). He texted me back, “I wrote a blog about it awhile ago. Boys and Tools: How Beyonce and Bikinis Help Us Objectify Women. Read it and weep. :)”

If you read that (which you should’ve), you know that in 2009 National Geographic News reported on a Princeton University study that showed men pictures of ‘scantily clad’ women and tracked their brain activity. Here’s what they found:

Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up.

Men were also more likely to associate images of sexualized women with first-person action verbs such as “I push, I grasp, I handle,” said lead researcher Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University.

And in a “shocking” finding, Fiske noted, some of the men studied showed no activity in the part of the brain that usually responds when a person ponders another’s intentions.

This means that these men see women “as sexually inviting, but they are not thinking about their minds,” Fiske said. “The lack of activation in this social cognition area is really odd, because it hardly ever happens.”

You also saw the video of Jessica Rey explaining why she decided to start designing her own modest line of swimwear. In her speech, she discusses the invention and history of the bikini. She reports, “The popularity of the bikini has been attributed to the power of women—not the power of fashion. And a New York Times reporter called the bikini the millennial equivalent of the power suit.” Then she references the Princeton study and adds, “So, it seems, that wearing a bikini does give women power: the power to shut down men’s ability to see her as a person, but rather as an object.”

To me, the right to choose to wear a swimsuit is what is powerful. Having a choice is having power.

My mind was a literal brain-storm. I started thinking about all of the times I’ve felt objectified, or let myself be treated like an object or used like a tool.

When I was sixteen, I agreed to give my boyfriend a BJ. There isn’t anything intimate about the act of sucking a man’s penis. He wanted to use me like an object and I agreed. Can you guess what I was wearing? A University of Missouri hoodie and jeans.

I was seventeen when my boss started sexually harassing me. My uniform was a $5 black v-neck from Wet Seal’s 5 for $20 table and dark wash American Eagle jeans. I worried I was maybe ‘asking for’ his attention, so I quit wearing makeup, started wearing my glasses, and dressed more conservatively. It was in a black cardigan that he complimented my breasts for the first time. (I quit my job two weeks later).

When I was eighteen, I was raped. I was wearing a tunic and a leopard print scarf from Express. I had on dark wash jeans tucked into my favorite pair of riding boots- a Christmas present from my best friend. I was covered from my neck to my toes.

A few months later, I consented to having sex with someone who ended up leaving handprints all over my body. Guess what I was wearing that time? An over-sized t-shirt and yoga pants.

The first time a stranger of the opposite sex made me feel nervous/threatened, I was in the parking lot of a women’s abuse clinic (you read that right. People really are fucked up). I was wearing a dark green ribbed tank-top with a scarf and ripped capris. My eyes were swollen; I had just spent an hour in my therapist’s office crying about the trauma from my childhood. Nothing about me looked inviting or wanting.

Notice a pattern, yet? It didn’t matter how conservatively or modestly I was dressed. Other people still made choices for me that made me feel less than human, like an object or sharp tool.

But then there was the first time I had sex that made me cry because it made me feel so complete. It was soft and intimate. Full of passion and need. I hadn’t seen him in two weeks. He had recently moved away for work, but was back in town for business. I opened my apartment door for him wearing a black wrap dress from Old-Navy. When we got ready for bed, I changed into a charcoal gray tank-top and kept my blue lace panties on. I chose to be ‘scantily clad’ and it was then that he made me feel more human than the first time my mom felt me kick her belly from inside the womb.

This post isn’t about clothes or the proof that a man’s brain doesn’t process me as human when I’m not fully dressed. This post is about choice.

Choice is new to me.

Growing up, my voice was stolen from me. I’ve just learned that I have a voice (one that deserves to be heard) and I’m relishing in the beauty of having a choice. But people (men) are constantly reminding me of how little choice I actually have. So please, don’t make me feel guilty about my choice to choose clothes.

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