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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Cocky

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Author Topic: Cocky
Miss Trixxie
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Okay, maybe this is just me, but this is something that's been frustrating me since I was little: I have nice legs. I just do. They're very, very long and have some good muscle on them, and in my opinion they look nice when I'm wearing skirts or dresses. I've always sort of assumed it was "natural" to think that way, and that if you have a part of you that you like, you should show it (within reason, of course..). However, the other day as I was leaving the house, my mother stopped to ask me why I was wearing a short skirt, and I said "because I have nice legs". She was completely taken aback at this, and proceded to call me cocky and vain. She is not the first one to call me conceited. Let me set the record straight: I do not go around telling people they are ugly, or that I am better looking than anyone else. There are simply parts to me that I like, and parts that I don't.
So my question is, how, exactly, in our culture that is so "concerned" with girls having good body image, the second some one comes along who likes her body, she is mocked and called "cocky"?

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"In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful." ♥ Tolstoy

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Heather
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That last question is an EXCELLENT question (actually, I have to say it's one of the best questions about the juxtaposition of body image and feminism that I've heard asked here).

And a really important one to ask, especially to ask when you DO get treated that way, because it's something a lot of people don't even think to think about.

Are you able to ask this of her mother?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Miss Trixxie
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I'm glad you thought my question was relivent. As it happens, I did ask my mother about this ridiculous concept, and she simply said "You're too young to know what you like and what you don't. You shouldn't make judgements about society. Go to school" (word for word, I swear). It's not so much a question, then, but merely an observation. Albeit, an observation that could potentially change how I live my life. Any suggestions on how to deal with people like this?

[ 05-10-2006, 08:05 PM: Message edited by: Miss Trixxie ]

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"In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful." ♥ Tolstoy

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origami_jane
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I would just remind her that you are perfectly old enough to decide what you do and do not like.

Also that making judgements about society and thinking critically are the marks of an informed human being. (My mom gives me stuff like that all the time... perhaps not about my clothing..... but because I read a lot of underground/independent news things, and she's basically stuck to the local "news" for her adult life.)

Actually, to get a little more on-topic..... maybe it's because girls aren't supposed to show pride in their bodies? Because if they're proud of what they look like, they own their bodies and nobody can take them away from them--not advertising agencies, nor crappy dates, nor crappy friends, nor unhelpful parents.

It sort of makes me think about how my mom likes to put me in baggy jeans and big shirts, but my thinner sister can wear whatever she wants. I'm happy with my body. I wouldn't mind being more fit, but I don't mind my shape. It just boggles her mind that I could like the body I have, so she wants to cover it up anyway to stave off her own embarrassment.

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September
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Because if they're proud of what they look like, they own their bodies and nobody can take them away from them--not advertising agencies, nor crappy dates, nor crappy friends, nor unhelpful parents.

That's an awesome point. I think that's pretty much what this whole thing boils down to.

I've seen it a lot, as well. Though usually the adjective used is "cheap". Because somehow, showing off cleavage or midriff or legs because you're proud of it automatically means that you're doing this solely to attract the attention of random guys. Which, again, is pretty warped, because society is teaching us we'll only be liked if we're 'pretty' but when we feel pretty and show it off, we're objectifying ourselves.

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Johanna
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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Heather
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I think some of it is also a disbelief IN positive body image, or a reaction to not feeling what you're feeling herself.

For so much of history, women "showing" part of the body was ONLY for cultivating male attention. The idea that you enjoy your legs, that YOU like to look at them, and that you KNOW this, so plainly? It's foreign to a lot of people.

Jane's comments were wonderful, and what September said has a lot of merit, especially when you consider that the parts of our bodies given sexual value culturally are generally the parts most commonly fetishized by men. So, when your own like of a given part just happens to be one of THOSE parts...

.. different assumptions may be made if say, the part you liked and liked to have visible was your elbow or your bicep or your bare feet.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallchild
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I'm new to the boards (just registered about five minutes ago), and just wanted to say that i love Scarleteen. I've been reading the boards for about four months now, and finally decided to register because I feel strongly about this thread.

I agree with September. The entire situation is hypocritical. Society wants us to look "perfect": hairless, curvy, make-up everyday, straightened hair, etc. But when we show that we love our bodies, we are called "cocky" and "conceited."

And especially with parts of the body that are sexual. Heaven forbid that women actually OWN their bodies instead of the men who fetishize (word?) them.

The female body has been repressed for so long: sexually, with clothing, with physical activity, with thinking, with EVERYTHING. Now that women are finally coming out and saying, "You know what, I LOVE this body of mine," society doesn't know how to take it. And it makes me sick. Honestly, the whole situation is evidence of a more backwards world than what we hope.

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"It's better to die on your feet than live down on your knees"

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Boldly Obscure
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I have also had experiences like this in which my best friend will reprimand me for wearing low-cut shirts and the like. (miss trixxie and I are actually good friends and have had similar experiences with the same person [Razz] )(actually she is worse to her than to me, because she is, shall we say, 'better endowed'.)
It is really frustrating to be around people like this, because whether you love your body or hate it it should always be the oposite. If one starts talking about how 'fat' or 'ugly' they are, everyone will deny it forcefully. But if one consents to speak positively about the vessel in which they live, it is presumed that they think too highly of themselves and need to be brought down a bit. If one wears unflattering clothes, it is presumed that they don't care about their appearance and are lazy. But if one wears well fitted clothes that makes them look nice, they are presumed to be vain.
I really have no answers to offer... the only possible solution at the time seems to be that if a girl (or boy for that matter) likes his or her body, that they need to keep quiet about it. Unfortunately, this is a very opressive situation for anyone to be put in and seems to have very archaic echoes. This body loving game really isn't fair- no matter what you do, you break the rules and quitting isn't an option.

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Miss Trixxie
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WELl thank you Aranel, and it's good too see you here [Smile] . I agree with you, and thanks a lot for everyone else's comments. You're totally right - although it is me, and my body, and I can do whatever the hell I want with it, it seems that in order to not have people call you a whore you have to keep quiet if you're at all comfortable with yourself. I'm certainly not saying I'm overly offened at being called such things, and I tend to brush it off fairly easily, but it just seems that life is easier if you're pretty and extremely modest and quiet

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"In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful." ♥ Tolstoy

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Heather
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You might, as a side note, appreciate the "my short skirt" monologue in Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues if you don't know it already.

For your enjoyment -- and perhaps to share with your Mum for food for thought for her...

"My short skirt
is not an invitation
a provocation
an indication
that I want it
or give it
or that I hook.

My short skirt
is not begging for it
it does not want you
to rip it off me
or pull it down.

My short skirt
is not a legal reason
for raping me
although it has been before
it will not hold up
in the new court.

My short skirt, believe it or not
has nothing to do with you.

My short skirt
is about discovering
the power of my lower calves
about cool autumn air traveling
up my inner thighs
about allowing everything I see
or pass or feel to live inside.

My short skirt is not proof
that I am stupid
or undecided
or a malleable little girl.

My short skirt is my defiance
I will not let you make me afraid
My short skirt is not showing off
this is who I am
before you made me cover it
or tone it down.
Get used to it.

My short skirt is happiness
I can feel myself on the ground.
I am here. I am hot.

My short skirt is a liberation
flag in the women's army.
I declare these streets, any streets
my vagina's country.

My short skirt is turquoise water
with swimming colored fish
a summer festival
in the starry dark
a bird calling
a train arriving in a foreign town
my short skirt is a wild spin
a full breath
a tango dip
my short skirt is
initiation
appreciation
excitation.

But mainly my short skirt
and everything under it
is Mine.
Mine.
Mine. "

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Miss Trixxie
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Hah, that is quite an amazing little monologue their. I think she might die of embarassement if I show it to her though... nevertheless, thank you very much

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"In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful." ♥ Tolstoy

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icygirl88
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Well, just to be the devil's advocate...

The reason your mother might be saying this is because it's a scary world out there. Just take a look in the relationships forum if you want to know about it. Yes, a woman SHOULD be able to walk down the street naked with no one touching her, as the saying goes, but let's face it... that's not going to be the case. Personally, I've had some bad guy experiences, and wearing ANYTHING that even slightly shows off my body makes me uncomfortable. This could just be me... but whenever even the very tip of my cleavage is showing I can almost feel the "eyes".

I am glad, though, that you're proud of your body. It's wonderful and refreshing to hear something like that. (I'm jealous, too... I wish I was as body-confident as you are around people other than my boyfriend. Who, by the way, is amazing and doesn't care a drop about what I wear. [Smile] ) I guess it's just good to be forewarned that there are sleazy people out there, and I think that's what your mom was concerned about.

*clink clink* my two cents.

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dailicious
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I think it's important to note, too, icygirl, that while you address a good point- it's not about what YOU wear that makes those sleazy people sleazy- they're going to keep on being sleazy to you and to other women or people in general. In my experience and the experience I know freinds of mine have had, the fact alone that you are a woman can make you a target to that sort of thing. It doesn't matter if your breasts are practically hanging out in the open or you have shorts cut up to your hips, or you're wearing a ski jacket and baggy pants- there are still people who will eyeball and make inappropriate comments, that sort of thing.

And just from what Miss Trixxie has explained, I'd be willing to bet that while certainly some of her mother's intention has that backing, the majority of it is coming from a different place that is quite far from constructive.

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Jean
aka dailicious
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Heather
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I also think it's easier for many women to think that, for instance, women who get raped did something to make them anything other than random: thus, the myth of the too-short-shorts (something a police officer told me, for the record, I had on when assaulted at 12, even though it was the middle of summer, and my shorts were of a normal length, I just had a round butt for a kid), the too-short-skirt, the too-low-dress.

It'd be easier to sleep at night, really, if we believe those things, because it means we can do very, very simple things to protect ourselves and the other women we care for.

Unfortunately, it just doesn't hold water. I was assaulted at 12, looking pretty much 12. My great-grandnother was raped and nurdered in her home at the age of 76, and I assure you, her skirt wasn't too short.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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September
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I think it's kind of a commen assumption, really, that women who get raped are 'asking for it'. Not to mention that this doesn't account for the large number of children who get raped, it's all pretty untrue in general. Rape is about exerting power over someone else, controlling, hurting. And that has very little to do with how a woman looks. When I was assaulted at 14, I was very flat-chested and had short hair. People who didn't know me misstook me for a boy. I am fairly certain that I didn't look like I was 'asking for it'.

I've heard women say that no one would ever rape them because they're not pretty enough or don't dress provocatively. Unfortunately, the way you look and the way you dress doesn't always protect you from men like that.

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Johanna
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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Miss Trixxie
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I agree quite a bit with what Miz Scarlet said... I asked my mom about it and she tried to explain how I "might get looked at..." which is pretty much the most ridiculous excuse get me to change my clothing that I've ever heard. I'm quite used to the fack that if I wear an Extreme Weightless Cleavage Bra (and they actually exist) with little/no shirt, I might get stared at. However, this does not stop me from wearing whatever the hell I want, and I think my mom needs to learn that.

[ 05-13-2006, 09:02 PM: Message edited by: Miss Trixxie ]

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"In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful." ♥ Tolstoy

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O
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[ 12-12-2006, 07:46 PM: Message edited by: Officer Friendly ]

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logic_grrl
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I don't think a girl should ever feel like she has to change the way she wants to dress for anyone but herself.

Doesn't that kind of contradict saying that "lines must be drawn" and telling people to "Put on some clothes!", though?

In another post, you've just said:

I plan to have many piercings and tattoos and i know they're not gonna be popular with some people and I know they're gonna give off "vibes" but i don't care. Nobody besides me has the right to decide what looks good on my body.

Why doesn't that apply to clothes, too?

People could just as easily say to you, "Why would you want to deliberately get tattoos and piercing that you know are going to make people make negative assumptions about you?"

How would you react to that?

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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Beppie
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Officer, first you need to remember that it is not okay here to tell anyone that their personal dress choices are "not okay."

Misogynist stereotypes like "cheap prostitute" are not perpetuated by clothing choices-- they are perpetuated by the judgements that people make about the clothing choices of others.

There are lots of reasons, both negative and positive, that women might choose to wear short skirts and cleavage-bearing tops. Sometimes it happens because society tells women that we "should" be sexual objects and that is one way of presenting oneself as a sexual object. BUT women can also do it because they want to work on breaking down that stereotype-- by asserting that their independence is not based upon the way that heterosexual men may or may not view their sexuality.

It is contradictory to state that people should not change their dress to please others, but that women should dress to please people who buy into misogynist ideas that say that a woman's clothing has something to do with her sexual availability.

Yes, it's true that people will, unfortunately, judge women based on their clothing, particularly if that clothing is perceived to be sexually provocative. But that does not mean we can simplify the motives of women who choose a particular style of dress, nor does it mean we should just shut up, cover up, and accept the status quo. On the other side, accepting all women's dress choices, does not bar us from analysing why certain sexual stereotypes about women are coded as "empowering" when they do in fact involve disempowering women. If you are interested in thinking about these things further, I highly recommend reading Ariel Levy's Female Chauvanist Pigs.

[ 12-12-2006, 08:01 PM: Message edited by: Beppie ]

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PenguinBoy
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I dno if this is supprising, because i was supprised; recently when i've undone more than 2 of my buttons or worn shirts which show any of my upper chest, i've had allot of comments from my friends who perhaps jokingly say "you think you're a hunk" or "you're blatantly trying to attract attention". I just like the clothes because how i look, for as simple reasons as why i'd prefer wool over cotton (i love wool [Wink] ). I've had similar comments about my "choice" to wear tight trousers (actually we couldn't afford new ones, even so i liked em), and from my female friends some very unacceptable attempts to grab my body.

As if it would be acceptable for me to go grabbing their breasts if they were wearing tight tops!

In the summer my father tells me allot to do up my shirt buttons, it really makes me angry (I'm constantly told how to dress period, but that's an example applicable to being "revealing").

Anyway, girls seem to get it more frequently. I can't see why a man acting inappropriately would be the fault of a girl who does nothing but make a choice on what to wear. How sexist is that? One person accountable for another's actions? It doesn't even make sense!

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Jacob - my Scarleteen Blog - Please help sustain scarleteen

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