Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Asking for it

Okay, girls, as you know, men have helpfully informed you that if you wear certain clothes, and present yourself in a certain way, then obviously you're Asking For It. You're blatantly inviting attention in the Intimacy Department.

So here's a handy guide to how to display yourselves to avoid any possible ambiguity and make it absolutely clear that you aren't in any way Flaunting Yourself. When going out and about, always make sure:

You have a crew cut.
You have nasty zits.
You have a nervous twitch.
You haven't washed for a week.
You have copious body hair.
You're wearing overalls and wellington boots.
You're picking your nose.
You're belching loudly.
You have a massive beer belly.
You're walking like a gorilla.

Then every man, even the most obtuse and moronic, will surely get the message.

However, the only downside is, you'll hate yourself.

The other alternative is to dress normally, deciding for yourself what you want to wear, generally something comfortable and attractive, and relying on What You Say and Common Sense to make your intentions clear.

Unfortunately this never works and sooner or later a man will again declare that you are Asking For It. It was the short skirt. Or the long skirt. Or the tight skirt. Or the loose skirt. Or the pencil skirt. Or the pink skirt. One of those. Damn, why are the rules so complicated?

And in case you're wondering, men themselves are never Asking For It. Men are just Going About Their Daily Business. Their dress and behaviour is of No Significance. Tight pants and bare chests imply nothing.

No, hang on, isn't it the other way round? Men are Always Asking For It. They think of nothing but sex. All their clothes have the same message. They just want to tear them off and get on with it.

No, that can't be right.

Funny, it all seemed so simple when that nice man at work was explaining it to me....

PS: Blinding insight. No wonder the dress code is so confusing, because it's a total red herring. What men are really saying is that being a woman is asking for it. The only way not to be asking for it is to be a man.

Next week: Why dressing in a certain way means you're dying for a cigarette


  1. According to this blog, NYPD stop female cyclists wearing skirts to 'chat' to them and advise them not to wear skirts because they distrat male drivers


    Ashame that its a legitimate discourse that men cannot control their focus (drivers on driving, police on catching criminals) and that potential victims are expected to control their behaviour - even when the pressures for control are binary (look sexy / dont look sexy) depending on the goals of the men dominating the discourse at the time.

  2. Wendy - That NYPD story is absurd. So then what? She changes into some bum-hugging pants? Yes, men, the poor helpless darlings, are unable to control their focus when a woman is in the vicinity, Wearing Clothes.

    And as you say, you're either looking too sexy or not sexy enough....

  3. I dunno last time I 'did' it, I was wearing a hoodie and some track pants . . that's 'asking for it'? Hahahah. Ah seems we just can't get it right no matter what we wear or do.

  4. And when a woman tries to put on a hijab...everyone goes nuts.

    I have to say if I'd have known, I'd have done the Slutwalk...though not in high heels. They hurts my feet.

  5. Baino - Absolutely, "decent" clothing is no safeguard. Even nuns get unwanted attention. Even women who wear burkas.

  6. Roses - I think the fuss about hijabs is partly from men cheated of the opportunity to evaluate the female appearance.

  7. I have actually used the nervous twitch/picking nose activity to rid myself of unwanted attention. Doesn't always work...

  8. Scarlet - I suppose if the guy has similar habits, he might not even notice. I think he'd notice if you were doing the gorilla-walk though.

  9. I'm just so glad that there are decent, honourable men out there who don't jump like dogs in heat on any female who breathes - and even if she doesn't.

  10. W3 - There are a few, thank goodness. But it's surprising the number of supposedly intelligent men who still believe women can be "asking for it".

  11. You mean we should dress and behave like men if we don't want to 'ask for it'?

    However I do think if you dress provocatively you have to make sure your behaviour and language make clear the message 'you can look and enjoy but don't touch' otherwise there can be confusion.

  12. Liz - But how can you tell if a woman is being "provocative" or merely dressing flamboyantly? Only the woman can say. And how do you convey the message "do not touch" short of hanging a sign round your neck? Isn't it up to the man to assume no-touching unless he gets a message to the contrary?

    Men really should learn the difference between personal assumptions and invitations.

  13. Question: why is it that guys have this opinion of 'asking for it'? And yet, when their girlfriend wants a compliment about new haircut/dress/shoes/make-up/boob job...he's clueless?

  14. Roses - Good comparison! Yes, how come men can't see a woman's asking for it when it comes to compliments? The fact is that the whole "Asking for it" claptrap is just a handy excuse for men's predatory behaviour.

  15. The whole asking for it thing is insane and insulting. Within reason (ie., public places are not bedrooms so there are some distinctions to be made - but even then nothing justifies assault or even rude comments) women should wear whatever they want.

    Should I comment on the disparity in this first sentence fragment: "girls, as you know, men have helpfully informed you"?

  16. Secret Agent - Precisely, what you're wearing never justifies assault or rudeness. Yes, "girls" is always patronising when used by men, though among women it's just jokey and intimate. Strangely enough, in Northern Ireland women of any age are universally referred to as girls. Quaint or what?

  17. secret agent woman, just to clarify- it's not actually the law in NI that all women are referred to as 'girls', it just happens more than one would expect.

    When volunteering at a hospital reception desk, I was once greeted by a wee man, not with a'hello' or anything predictable, but with 'Girl, ...'. I was greatly entertained, since I wouldn't have fitted any definition of 'girl' for about 30 years.

    On the other hand, I remember the election worker knocking at a door and greeting the woman who answered with 'Woman...' I never heard if he got the vote there.

  18. Speccy - But perhaps we should have a law that says all grown women must be referred to as women?

    At least NI men don't refer to the Girl of the House. Not that the Woman of the House is much better....

  19. I don't know, nick. I think messages can be misunderstood very easily. In the ideal world, in the same way that men would know the difference between assumption and invitation, women would learn the difference between flaunting and flirting.
    I don't think it's fair to put all the blame on the men.

  20. Liz - But it's because messages can be misunderstood that men should check whether they've got it correct. And even if women think they're flirting, some men will assume they're flaunting. Women just can't get it right because men are making the rules.

  21. I don't know about other men Nick, but I find the hijab the most intriguing attire for women. One can speculate!

  22. Ramana - No, I much prefer to see a woman's face rather than speculating. I think the idea of a seductive air of mystery is rather overrated.

  23. "Girl" is common here, too, but used by folks who refer to grown men as "boys." (As in "good old boys.") I don't mind if it's equal. But if it's men, then it's women.

  24. I don't mind what I am called, so long as it is not early in the morning! ;)

  25. Secret Agent - Absolutely. Grown-up men and women are precisely that, men and women. "Girl" is plainly patronising.

    Grannymar - That's very tolerant of you!

  26. Great post, Nick! It really does get tiresome asking for it all the time, no matter what else I may be doing.

  27. Heart - I know, the time it takes to keep adjusting your skirt length, making sure your top is showing enough cleavage, it's totally exhausting. There's simply no time left to do the housework.

  28. Brilliant piece, Nick. Every which way.


  29. Ursula - Why, thank you! I just despair of all those people who keep insisting women are somehow to blame.