Thank you for a coherent and comprehensive exposition of this timely subject. I appreciate the conviction with which you wrote this piece, however I want to take a risk here and offer another, though not disagreeable, perspective. On the one hand, we are assaulted daily by advertising and other creative works that successfully use sexual imagery to sell products and services and on the other hand we say that what a person wears and how they carry themselves in public shouldn’t remind us of anything sexual or draw unwanted attention. Huh? I struggle with this cognitive dissonance. How can it be both ways?
When a young girl of 14 wears what is comfortable to her and it’s low-rise short-shorts that reveal her butt cheeks and rips/tears that reveal more skin, a too-small bralette for a top, those to die for chunky 5" heels, make up suitable for an after-five affair and multi-colored long locks, she is going to draw attention. Young girls who dress that way may be “comfortable” (not really), but some do that to try on more adult roles/persona, make a statement and/or create a spectacle. They are imitating and transforming images of women they see in the public domain who are selling/promoting products and lifestyles that are sexually charged. They want the “look” but may not be ready to handle the kind of attention dressing that way can evoke. I was a young girl once, and I know what I’m saying is true. I could paint a similar scenario for young men.
When a person sets out to attract attention, they are going to attract the attention of everyone, which means that they are going to disproportionately attract the attention of people who would objectify and perhaps seek to do them harm. Those “bad” people exist and to deny it is courting personal danger. It would be great if we lived in a world where those people didn’t exist. But we don’t (and never will) and we need to use that knowledge to make informed and responsible decisions about how we carry ourselves in the general public. What I would say to that 14-year-old girl in my example is, “Dial it back a little. You don’t need to visually assault me (and everyone else) to be considered beautiful, mature or to make a statement.” (The mother in me would also ask her if her mother or legal guardian was okay with what she was wearing…but that’s another essay.)
Agreed, we all have to take responsibility for our actions. I am in no way “victim-blaming” here — just a reality check. Would you rather be right or safe? There are situations in life where you won’t be able to choose both. No one, I repeat, NO ONE should be physically or emotionally assaulted because someone is “aggressively attracted” to them. I am voicing a concern here for the responsible expression of individuality. Common sense.