On the other side

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I’m not a particularly high-maintenance person (this, incidentally, is how I started one of my college essays). My daily makeup routine is basically lotion when I remember; genes or God or whatever blessed me with pretty good skin. But on Thursday I went to an university-sponsored dance on a boat, so I dressed up. Short kind of skin-tight black dress with open back, black pumps, red purse, deep red nails, red lipstick, and mascara. (Lipstick and mascara are basically the only things I can consistently do without looking like horror movie.)

I’m generally not the subject of male attention, but yesterday I got a little taste of that.

Incident 1: 

“Hello,” said the boy I may or may not have had a thing for around a month ago, his eyes meeting mine for a moment but already moving down.

“Hi!” I said, acutely aware that his eyes were still moving down. Upon reaching the pointy toes of my shoes, his eyes went back up, and he walked away.


Incident 2: 

I was looking for MicY after we arrived at the pier when I heard “Hi Jer(alie)!” from someone from Math 53 discussion last semester. It’s a miracle he still remembered my name, because I certainly did not remember his.

“Long time no see!” he was saying. Coincidentally, I did see him a week or so ago on Sather Gate when I was in regular clothes. I had waved at him and he gave me a weird look before waving back.

“Yeah, how are you?” I asked and small talk ensued, which I thought was totally regular, until he put his arm around me.

“You and me, we totally look like people from the 1920s!”

I’m out, I thought, and found a way to quickly exit the conversation.

It’ll be some before I dress like that again, but the thing is I shouldn’t be afraid to. The blatant objectification of the guy from Incident 1 really disturbed me, especially from someone who mocked the horniness of the guys on YikYak. At least acknowledge what you were doing by saying something like “You look nice.” (On a slightly related sidenote, I read somewhere recently that Bertrand Russel argued that the impulse to moralize was a sign of a cruelty, which I think is a good point.) Yes, YikYak sometimes makes me uncomfortable, but who am I to say that it’s wrong? It’s anonymous and it’s (usually) not directly aimed at anyone identifiable.

Xunrae suggested that next time someone checks me out I stare aggressively at his crotch, which is a good suggestion but not one I’ll probably follow through on.

I don’t think I’ve said much that hasn’t been said before, but this was a kind of new experience for me and I think it’s important, this question of purity and being sexy but not too sexy. In many descriptions I’ve read on the internet there is often a clarification made–the girl wasn’t wearing anything showy, or nothing as showy as, say, a hooker. As if men start to own your body when you wear something past a certain point of revealing. As if men own the body of that sex worker in question. Because in the end it’s really the men’s choice as to what exactly crosses that line to “asking for it.”


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