I do not lack understanding of what the term autonomic response means, as you said yourself it is then down to the individual to control that response. I do believe men can “help themselves”, as I believe women can resist their urges. If I see an attractive man I don’t feel the need to cat-call or comment on his appearance, even though my baser urges may suggest I should. Likewise as I stated, I disagree that women should have to dress in a way that responds to a response we cannot predict. How do you know what a man finds provocative? I have been sexually harassed when very conservatively dressed and ignored when “sexily” dressed. It is the responsibility of the individual to behave in a way that is respectful, even if the “urge” is to be disrespectful.
I work with offenders, and to be clear I absolutely believe that men (and women) can help themselves. That is why not every man who has these autonomic responses is a sex offender.
“And if wearing a particular “something” makes my partner at the office uncomfortable, I’m sure I can find something else to wear.”
Does the “partner at the office” tell you that they are uncomfortable? I suspect not, particularly if they are “responding”. Who defines what is sexy? How are we to know what might trigger this response? If I go through these same responses at work —a natural reaction to any stressful, anxiety-provoking situation — is it appropriate for me to point out that being spoken to like I am a less capable and being asked to “make the tea” at a meeting where I am the only woman makes me anxious and stressed? Or should I accept that those belittling actions are also just part of the stereotypical role and we are just not there yet? I do believe men can help themselves, and it is up to us to challenge inappropriate behaviour if they fall short of the mark. I do not think we do that by changing the way we dress.
I actually think you and I agree more than we disagree, and I appreciate the discourse.