Everyone loves a two-dime hooker. OK, no. Everyone wants to perform like a two-dime hooker. As a sociologist I like to observe people and their collective behaviors. I also like to observe party culture because in these spaces people act in a different way than they want their actions to be interpreted as.
Many cultural and popular culture feminists have observed female behavior in particular and have come to a consensus that this masquerade is not a woman’s right to choose, but more so about the performance for women and men.
Confusing sexual power with power is a common mistake for many women who plan their Thursday to Saturday night gear. They exchange their common sense for clothes and attention that is as much as a performance as it is a caricature of sexuality and a perverse form of feminism. Note that there are many social and cultural forces at play here, but I am focusing on performance.
Witnessing this first-hand is easy to do. Attend a semi-formal for an organization at a college and just watch. This past weekend I was at such a function. Besides the attire of 25 percent of the women who were not even meeting the dress code, one girl made me almost throw up in my mouth.
She was dancing drunkenly with her date and to my dismay, her buttocks was out. I mean her cheeks. She had no underwear on. None.
Her date also was unaware of her cheeks all out, but everyone else pointed, stared, and made fun of her, and she probably has her ass on Facebook.
Show that one to grandma, who is also now on Facebook. I waited for one of her friends to come over and check her, but that never happened.
I then went over to the couple myself, pulled her skirt down, and told her. First of all, please wear underwear, especially at a formal event. Secondly, do not drink so much that you do not realize your dress is riding up past your butt.
Ariel Levy says in her book, “Female Chauvinist Pigs,” that women are a group who are othered and therefore subordinate, and that a subordinate group embraces stereotypes as a way to gain the dominant group’s acceptance. For women, the “lady in the street but a freak in the bed” attitude is not a battle cry but a social coping mechanism to navigate the dominant culture space and at the same time, negotiate their femininity.
Looking is the spectator sport of every person who consumes popular culture in the United States. Young women have a complicated reality because the more they see sexuality as a way to be noticed, the more that is the only lens that the world interprets their being. One-dimensionality in its simplicity is limiting the ways in which women can be taken seriously.
I am not asking for women to give up on fashion and fun, but I do think that women could think more critically about what they are wearing and why they are wearing it. It is very similar to how we like music.
Do you like Lady Gaga because she is trendy? An enlightened consumer listens to her because she pushes the envelope and adds something to music that is new and multi-layered. On the other hand, do you just like her because everyone else does?
An enlightened woman makes decisions because she recognizes the social and cultural forces that produce the conditions in which she thinks she needs to perform the porn star in order to have attention and be liked. Men can help shape this insidious behavior by not validating it. Women, make sure your friends wear underwear.