*Let me start off by saying it's 2019 and you should keep that in mind whilst reading this truth.
It saddens me that women are still trapped in the mindset that we should dress modest or 'coverup' to earn respect. We are not OBJECTS! We are women, mothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters. If we want to wear a short skirt one day and turtleneck the next it should have nothing to do with what a man will say or how society views us. Reducing a woman's character by her appearance denies us human rights. What we fail to realize as women (and men) is that our choice is just that, OURS.
So what's the tea? A photo was posted on social media by our very own, Dee. In this picture a very powerful message was stated. She was wearing a shirt that reads "My body is not a tool to validate your manhood". In this photo she was wearing a crop top with a body suit underneath. The picture received black lash from one of our own, a black woman. The woman stated that the message that was being portrayed was poorly executed. I was curious to get to the bottom of why she felt the way that she did. This woman mentioned that the shirt is a contradiction to Dee's clothing of choice and that she should have just done a nude shoot. Let me just stop you right there for a second, one thing about Her Image is that we don't just scratch the surface. We don't beat around the bush and we will always give it to you real and raw. The photo did the job that it was supposed to do; showcase the problem in today's America and around the world of how women are viewed based off their clothing. The comment alone exposed the real issue.
Related link: The Culture of Degrading Black Women
Clothing does not dictate worth, nor does it dictate wealth, morals or social status. Women are constantly shamed for what we wear because it is deemed inappropriate by someone else. School girls are pressured and monitored vigorously in schools and surprisingly by women which only reveals a microscope of a more worldly societal issue of women being policed. Why is that? Women that dress more "modest" are not deemed more superior to those who don't. Let's throw away the thought that showing skin is a crime, because it's not. The real crime is basing respect off attire. Saying that women should dress a certain way so that men won't think lustful thoughts is just a justification that implies that our bodies are objects. There are men (and women) that will act the way they act regardless of what a woman is wearing. It is not our job to keep their cravings and misogyny at bay, IT IS THEIRS.
Wearing revealing clothing does not give any man the right to touch, cat call, rape or to be disrespectful. This is the type of thinking that justifies rape culture. Rape victims are being interrogated as if they are suspects in light of their appearance during alleged assault as if to justify the crime in the first place. How is this fair? Sexual assault can happen at any time, to anyone and anywhere regardless of what a person is wearing because ultimately it is the suspects mentality that provoked the assault in the first place. It's no different than a man disrespecting and catcalling a muslim woman wearing a hijab or a man being respectful to a sex worker. This is neither woman's fault. This is solely result of the man's perception. Just not too long ago a young woman was sexually assaulted in a night club and the first question that came to play was what she was wearing as if she wasn't in a night club and more than likely she was dressed in a manner that many may deem, immodest. Why weren't any of the other women assaulted? Does this justify the offense? No, this only justifies the concept that this is a result of internal perceptions.
With that being said, we are women, we all come in all shapes and sizes so sometimes "covering up" doesn't do anything for women who have stronger assets and that's perfectly fine. We are women and we aspire to look and feel good, we want to wear clothes that complement our bodies and we should be able to do that freely without backlash or risk of sexual harassment, and even worse, rape.
This western world has brainwashed us to sexualize the female body. As our children grow they are taught that women should act and dress a certain way and it becomes associated with a woman's body and how it appeals to men. When we should be teaching our boys to respect women regardless of their appearance and solely based on their character until that respect is lost. We have literally been trained to think this way and that's why some men feel as though it is customary to react the way they do to a woman's attire. It is understood that it is in a man's nature to be attracted to a woman's body however, it is called self-control for a reason. Clothing exists for us to exhibit our feelings outwardly, not to dictate what anyone else has to say about it or how we are treated because of it.
If you, as a woman look at another woman and feel some type of way due to her lack of clothing then you are a part of the problem as well sistah. It’s this thinking that excuses the suspect for sexually assaulting a woman, “Well what was she wearing?” Victim shaming is none other than result of mental enslavement, result of religious or westernized social constructs that tell us that a woman should be modest to protect her purity. As if she can not be both nude and pure, as if she was not made in his image perfectly just as she is. As if we were always clothed, from birth! As if our ancestors rarely cloth their bodies with out fear of being sexually abused or assaulted. As if we don’t all share the same body parts with respect to gender.
"Remove the body from the woman, then sex from the body and then you can truly value the essence of a woman." - Dee, Her Image EIC
As, a womanist, I am always rooting for HER and you should as well. We are always going to have to work ten times harder than men yet here we are turning against each other and siding with misogynistic mentality. I am not saying this to slander men in anyway because not all men are guilty of this act. In fact, it is many women that think this way as well. Which is why it’s even more important for us to speak up and out about societal norms if we hope to ever change it. However, if we don't stand up for us then who will? We need to make it known that we are women, we can wear whatever we want, however, we want and it does not exhibit our being because ultimately the way you think has nothing to do with anyone else and everything to do with them.