Jessica Wolfendale (co-editor of Fashion: Philosophy for Everyone) is currently completing an article on sexual modesty. Her most recent article, “Provocative Dress and Sexual Responsibility,” is forthcoming in the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law. and now she’s just published a piece on being “dangerously provocative” here.
The provocatively dressed woman is dangerous. She is disruptive; a distraction and a temptation. She can lead good men to thoughts of infidelity; she can distract men and boys from the important tasks of work and education. The dangers posed by the provocatively dressed woman mean that she must be monitored and controlled. Girls must be forbidden from wearing provocative clothing to school, so that they don’t distract boys. As a principal of a Canadian High School wrote in a letter to parents: “Girls wearing short skirts should think about how they sit and what is revealed when they bend over …. It’s my job as principal to keep students contained in an environment where they [boys and teachers] can learn [and teach] without distraction.” Likewise, women should wear “good, modest, conservative dress” at work because “[r]emoving one more distraction will help everyone keep their focus”.
But the provocatively dressed woman also needs to be warned about the dangers she poses to herself. A Canadian police officer told students at Osgoode Hall Law School that: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” and in the wake of a series of sexual assaults in Brooklyn in 2011, police officers advised women not to wear shorts or skirts that were “too short”. Because the provocatively dressed woman sexually arouses men, she risks attracting unwanted sexual attention. It is therefore up to her to make sure that she doesn’t send the “wrong message” with her outfits.
Now go read the rest at the Dangerous Woman Project.