Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Thin Layer of No

    The line between yes and no is a very thin one.  It is thin in action, thought, emotion, and even, oddly enough, Attire.  When we go out of an evening dressed to entice and attract, we walk a slim line.  We do so, all unknowing, because those we may attract might not be the ones we want.  So when we dress ourselves in ways that are overtly sexual, and deliberately provocative, we take a chance that those who see us will read our message correctly.  Of course what so often happens is quite the reverse.  So often, (and this is particularly true to men), such apparel reads as an invitation to sexual conduct that may not actually be desired, at least, not with that person.  And as a gay man, tight jeans and tank tops are not always an invitation to more than conversation, as I have learned myself from both sides of the issue.
Yet, we still persist in going there.  We consistently create images of ourselves that are upgraded, more sexualized versions of us, in order to attract a mate, whether momentary or permanent.  This always comes at a cost. For who of us thinks, when we are dressing to kill, of those who might be attracted that we are not interested in?  The fact is that the majority of those who will see us are not going to be into us, and many will be, who we wouldn't consider.
    What this means is that the clothing we select when we go on the prowl is something double edged.  Sure it makes us feel attractive and powerful. Sure, it's designed to make the people we most want to notice us, see us in a positive way.  But we must be aware of the other side.
    I must add here, that I in no manner whatever think that dressing provocatively,  whoever we may be, gives others license to overstep, and deal inappropriately with us. The ability to check one's own behaviors is the mark of a full adult, the inability to do so, the mark of a beast, or at very least, of someone with no consideration for the feelings of others.
    The ongoing fascination in the design community with cut outs, sheerness, and other body revealing tricks steps up the intensity of this whole subtle issue.  When we present in a manner that decades ago would have marked us as sexually suspect, it is not to be wondered at that people respond in a sexually charged way.  And as our culture deals with ever expanding freedoms with regard to sex and sexuality, these questions become even more pointed.  In other words, we are evolving culturally, and as yet we have not defined new rules to adequately encompass all the changes we are experiencing.  What this means is that within those gray areas, some find a ready excuse for behaving towards desired others in an unacceptable way.
    Since it is true that the things we clothe ourselves with deliver messages to others, and that the received messages vary slightly from viewer to viewer, it is important to consider what we do when we leave the house to go to a club, or some other social venue.  And from the other side of things, it's vital that we do not jump to unwarranted conclusions about someone's potential willingness to be sexual, based on the tightness of their pants, or the depth of their cleavage.
    Just as great political freedom requires diligence to maintain it, greater freedom of behavior and dress requires diligence, and observation, to insure we do not substantively harm others in some way. 

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