Sexual hypocrisy

I WATCHED her teeter across the road as I arrived at work and her black skirt told me she was heading to her own job, probably in an office rather than a shop.

The tightness of the black skirt clearly made walking difficult, confining her thighs as surely as an upper-leg hobble, and the precariousness of the high heels made crossing the road halfway up a hill dangerous.

But things didn’t improve much when she reached the footpath. Her steps were stomps, short but hardly dainty as she lifted each heeled foot much higher than she’d have to if she were wearing flat shoes. The skirt kept her knees together, and while the limited movement may have reduced the risk of her ankle rolling on a collapsing heel it forced her to use her jutting derriere to propel each leg forward at the appropriate time.

Her buttocks were jutting to compensate for posture changes forced upon her by the heels, and her breasts were jutting forward to compensate for the buttocks jutting backwards.

Why do women endure such contortions and deformations? If we take fashion out of it, and sexiness, this bound, hobbled and distorted woman trying to walk on mini stilts is the stuff of comedy. That she would want to may even be sad!

Yes, there is a certain sexiness about it, a sexiness, I’d guess, that is as much to do with conditioning of our attitudes as is thinness being the ideal female shape.

But I’d guess wrong. The famous biological anthropologist, Professor Helen Fisher, says that a woman in high heels is sexy because the unnatural angle of the feet causes her buttocks to thrust out and her back to arch in a pose used by many mammals to invite copulation, a presentation she describes as lordosis behaviour.

So while a wearer of high heels might not be inviting copulation she is, at the least, teasing. And she’s not wearing a tight black skirt for warmth on a cold and windy winter’s day.

It is odd that women who present themselves sexually cry foul when we look upon them sexually. Admiring them sexually, or looking upon them lasciviously, is inappropriate and offensive, they shriek, when they have deformed their body and donned a dangerous get-up to be admired sexually and looked upon lasciviously.

A friend who has to stop wearing heels because she fell and broke a leg while wearing heels tells me that she will have to change her look. Low-cut tops? Very-low-cut tops?

And what of women’s other absurd artificialities! If lipstick is not meant to make a woman’s lips appear succulent, to present the face as sexual, what is its purpose? Colour matching the heels?

But the lippy is just the focal point. There’s the foundation, the blush, the eyeliner, the mascara, the eyebrow pencil, all with the purpose of presenting a face and an expression men will find attractive.

Why do men find a painted face attractive, or at least more attractive than an unpainted face? I don’t know, although as you’ve read I believe the purpose, subconscious or otherwise, is to present the face as sexual.

False bits take us even further into the absurd: eyelashes, hair colour, nails, skin colour, breasts. And why is hair on a leg more unsightly than hair on an arm?

We in the west often look upon the contrivances and contortions of women in primitive and some not-so-primitive societies with amusement and disgust, and I think of the lip plates in many African tribes and the bound, deformed feet of many Chinese women of earlier decades, yet we don’t seem to question or even notice the contrivances and contortions of our own women. We notice the effect, as in the sexiness, but the dangerously teetering shoes and the painted faces are so common that we take them for granted.

It is women who preserve their status as sexual objects, not men. Indeed, we men are the victims of the deception. But blaming men helps women feel better about their lordosis behaviour.

Isn't it women who suppress themselves with their promotion of themselves as sex objects?

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