I was reading an article in the New York Times called “After Class, Skimpy Equality”. There was a debate over whether women or men have the power on college campuses. The argument was that women wear skimpy, revealing clothes and have sexual power over men. However, it seemed men hosted more of the social events, and the women depended on the men to invite them to feel included.
So is it equal? Depends on who you ask. Some men seem to feel women have the power because they feel helpless to ignore a woman’s thong peeking out over the back of her short shorts. They feel they chase and women get to choose if they want to be caught. Some men may feel powerful because they do get to chase and in some cases choose which women will be included in certain events they host.
However, women may feel men have the power because they may not feel safe walking alone on campus or being left alone at a party. The statistics prove that one out of four college age women will be sexually assaulted. Some college women may also feel excluded from male attention unless they look a certain way. Many also believe men only want one thing and if they aren’t offering that, then they are largely ignored. Some women feel they have the power because they take advantage of a man’s weakness with sex. They use the way they dress or look to control the men around them.
So, who really holds the power? First, remember this. When a woman walks into the room, the first thing she subconsciously notices is all the other women. Women size each other up. Men are usually more kind to women than women are to each other. It is a fact that when a man walks into a room he also notices all the women first, unless he is gay. Women instinctively know this and feel a lot of pressure to look right and impress others. This includes impressing other women, not just men. This can be very damaging to a woman’s self-esteem. It is hard to do, but definitely helpful for women to build their self-confidence. If a women is more confident it is easier for her to make her own choices.
You can decide to give men power over you sexually. You can dress to please and attract them, or dress to please yourself. It is also possible to do both, please yourself and others. However, if you have to pick one, please yourself. If the current style isn’t your thing, then dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable. If you have confidence in yourself, this will be easier. Also, if you want to wait to have sex, feel good about that choice. If you feel more free to explore your sexuality then don’t apologize for that choice either. Remember, you can always change it up and do something different if you figure out what you’re doing isn’t working for you.
For men, know that you have some power as well. Historically you’ve held more sexual power. This is why women have fought for their rights. You do have more physical power, and please remember that when it comes to sex. Be sure your date really wants to have sex with you. It is easy to become side tracked by your own agenda and not fully realize how much you’re coercing your date into submission. You always need consent. If in doubt, the answer is no. It is also okay to wait to have sex as well. I know a lot of guys feel pressure to have sex, and feel powerful if they’ve had sex with several women. You can decide what is best for you and feel good about yourself even if you aren’t sleeping with a different woman every other night. Self-confidence goes a long way for you too.
I know it may seem like women dress a certain way to drive you crazy. If it is their motive, then realize those women may want that attention for an insecure reason. They may not feel confident enough to get you to “see” them in any other way. They may just want you to like them and think they look good. Also remember, there are many other ways to show women attention. Realize you also have the power to influence how a woman feels about herself. If you don’t want women to have all the power because of the way they dress, then give the woman in sweatpants with her hair pulled back some attention. Don’t just stare at a girl because she is wearing short shorts. Help women to understand that you may be into them because they’re smart, funny, kind, and generous. Many of those women may not be wearing a short skirt on a Friday night, so you may have to look a little harder to find them.
I really believe most people want to be accepted. Guys or girls. However, it is good to know you hold the power inside yourself to live your life the way you want. Also, realize others may live their lives differently, and that’s okay. To each his own. It can be hard not to follow another person’s lead but remember, it is up to you how you want to look or act. If you think other men or women have sexual power over you, remember you have a choice to give that power away or not. The one thing you can’t control is how you are perceived by others. Don’t let that worry or influence you too much. If someone wants to think you look or act a certain way, then let them. You know inside why you are doing what you are doing. Don’t waste too much time worrying what other people are thinking or feel you have to explain yourself, unless you want to.
College is about figuring out who you are. Maybe you decide to take more risks, but then own the mistakes when you make them as well. You don’t have to let a mistake hold you down either. Life is full of mistakes, and they usually help point you in the right direction if you learn from them.
- Motherload: After Class, Skimpy Equality – Motherload (nytimes.com)