Your Cleavage is Harassing Me, and Other Dumb Ideas about Male Weakness

My Genderal Interest column today looks at the risible claim made by many men’s rights activists that scantily-clad women are sexually harassing men. See Your Cleavage Is Guilty of ‘Biological Sexual Harassment,’ and Other Dumb Ideas. Excerpt:

The traditional arguments for women’s modesty have been that concealing dress was necessary to protect men from lustful thoughts and to protect women from being raped. But Arndt and the MRAs have a different rationale. They’re not offended by skimpy clothing on religious grounds, nor do they all buy into the myth of male weakness that says that bare female skin invariably causes otherwise nice guys to commit sexual assault. Rather, they seem to be arguing that by tempting all straight men while only being willing to sleep with a few, flirtatious or scantily-clad women are engaged in a particularly cruel form of sexualized discrimination. That, the MRAs insist, ought to be seen as sexual harassment.

For Arndt and her ideological fellow travelers, it’s sexually unsuccessful straight men (“betas”) that suffer the most from a culture in which women are free to display their bodies. Asking women to cover up isn’t about protecting purity; for the MRAs it’s about protecting betas from humiliation and from self-esteem-destroying reminders that they can look but never touch the bodies for which they long. All of that pent-up male resentment is women’s fault, Arndt implies, and it is women’s responsibility to consider the soul-scarring cost of the mixed messages their revealing clothing sends.

The kind of particularly male pain that Arndt and her allies describe isn’t rooted in women’s flirtatiousness, sexy clothing, or presumed preference for “alpha” males. Whether they’re genuinely hurting or just petulantly sulking, the confusion and hurt with which men cope is based largely on their own sense of entitlement. The calculus of entitlement works like this: if women don’t want to turn men on, they need to cover up. If they don’t cover up, they’ll turn men on. If they turn men on, women are obligated to do something to assuage that lust. Having turned them on, if women don’t give men what they want, then women are cruel teases who have no right to complain if men lash out in justified rage at being denied what they’ve been taught is rightfully theirs.

21 thoughts on “Your Cleavage is Harassing Me, and Other Dumb Ideas about Male Weakness

  1. Hugo is right about the retardedness of a minority of MRAs who have a problem with female flesh on show.

    Now, to the problem of the fundamentally sexist gender studies industry. I am suing Europe’s largest gender studies departments, at LSE, for its use of male-blaming victim-feminism, ignoring all the men’s equality issues, and blaming men for women’s problems.

    The court date is March 13th.

    You can read all the press, listen to the interviews, watch the video, and donate to the legal fighting fund too, all at sexismbusters dot org

    Will Hugo get this one right?


    • Good one. Somehow, women using their flesh to further their career or ambition because they are unable to do it on their personal abilities has become men’s faults. As if their beautiful flesh was the fault of a male. I was of the belief that women could further their careers on their skills and abilities, not their flesh. And, further, cleavage is used in the courtroom, as if facts and truths are less significant, and it is the fault of men. Is female horniness men’s fault too? When is womanhood going to display responsibility for anything? Are they truly incapable of this? Is that men’s fault too? LOL, seriously, why are women touting that they are more responsible than men? Is this not shooting their equality efforts in the foot? After all, equality is equality, responisibility is just another of the myriad of topics that the genders grapple with.

  2. Yes, men are just being stupid when they don’t want to have some woman flaunting her sexuality by shoving her boobs in his face – and then maybe threatening to sue for sexual harassment if he looks.

    On the other hand, women have to be protected from the sight of male flesh – ‘cuz women are weak children and need protection from being harassed (even as bad as catching sight of the all-offending wiener), but they are also strong and invincible, according to Hugo’s theories, and heroic Hugo will fight to the death to either protect women as children or tell men that they are strong and invincible, or he will at least protect them until there is some threat, when he will go scurrying behind mom’s apron.

    Whew! All of that in one sentence!

  3. I’m going to wear a Bozo the Clown suit to work with a cut-out crotch area and a knitted-yarn unit that just barely covers my genitals.

    Ya know, showing a little flesh.

    And if any woman looks at me at work, she is going to be in the Human Resources Department a split-second later, explaining why she should not be sued for sexual harassment for her gawking.

    Or is Hugo going to argue that women are lots weaker than men? I doubt it; he’s going to passive-aggressively ignore anything that points out his contradictory, confused positions that are more likely designed to make him look like a swell guy in some way.

  4. “Hugo is right about the retardedness of a minority of MRAs who have a problem with female flesh on show.”

    No, he’s not right, it is a perfectly good point that men also have a right to just get their work done in peace without some woman trying to be the center of attention and trying to confirm her sexuality (since those types of women will have to rely on it to get money; the “work” thing never seems to work out).

      • Yes, that’s obviously what I’m calling for. Burkas

        What’s funny is that which gender do you think complains more (lots more) about the other gender showing some skin?

        You think that if some guy came into the office in a speedo that no women would complain? LOL

        Men are expected to suck it up, however, if they are bothered by outlandish clothes. I am starting to see that there is simply no empathy for men. Neither men nor women have it. There is plenty of empathy for women, paradoxically, although feminists claim otherwise.

        • Burkas would just make everything easier. And to be fair, both men and women get to wear them. Problem solved. No arousal for anyone…. Not less people dressed like ghost is your thing (but hey, there’s a kink out there for everyone).

          • “Plenty of men go shirtless without people batting an eye.” On the beach, at the pool, or in the park, they do. Are there many shirtless men working in an office?

            I’m not excusing male behavior if the man begins unwanted fondling of a woman who shows cleavage. But there is such a thing as “work-appropriate attire” that has nothing to do with “not tempting males.”

            I also thought “beta males” refers to timid or introverted men, not men who “strike out sexually with women.” If a man’s not looking for sex, at all, what Greek letter do we ascribe to him, since the 21st Century is all about labeling people?

  5. Oh, sorry, I forgot that my burka comment was *sarcasm*. Sometimes you have to spell everything out for women’s studies people.

  6. Hugo, I was with you for the most part, up until the end where you pulled a strawman out for no reason. First of all, if a guy is romantically unsuccessful and a “beta” then he probably does not think that he is entitled to women’s sexuality, but rather probably has low self esteem and thinks that he is not good enough for it. You can argue all you want that people should act and articulate themselves in ways that are respectful, but dammit people are allowed to be annoyed by things.

    Also, you know what? I am just going to throw this out there: It is annoying when I am in a workplace and someone is constantly trying to affirm their sexuality (man or woman), and remind everyone just how appealing they are. Ultimately we can not say or do anything about that, because we have no right to tell other people what to do with their bodies, but let me be annoyed.

  7. There were several references to “rape” in that article and none to “loss of respect”. It’s pretty easy to be against rape, and not very admirable to be in favor of it. But what if someone (could be a man or woman) said about some woman they encountered, “I can’t take her seriously, dressed the way she is”? This goes along with the women who show up in Gender Studies class in tiny skirts and visible cleavage. What’s the statement being made, and are unfavorable responses valid?

    In a way it’s pitching the performance to the cheap seats to talk about “rape”. There’s only one answer to any question involving it (and that is, it’s a hideous thing that in a good world, nobody would ever have to worry about). But if the issue were what kind of personal presentation could legitimately make people see someone as ridiculous–then what’s the answer? And is it fair if the answer is different for women and men? That’s real work for both the professor and the student.

  8. For myself, I care what I wear. I mean, I wear clothes that are making me comfortable. For others? I don’t even care unless if she is a child.

  9. I am very curious where Hugo is finding all these MRAs who are against women showing skin. I have following MRA news for a year and a half very closely and I have never heard this argument. We care about important stuff like child custody, ending alimony and reducing false rape accusation not what women wear.

    • It’s strawman central at Hugo’s place.

      Men all have the base emotions he has. It can’t be any different, but in any case Amanda Marcotte approves.

      Just bizarre.

  10. Pingback: Naked Wreck: Biological Sexual Harassment | Naked Therapy

  11. Sexy is always in the eye of the beholder. Take this outfit.

    A fellow student at BYU thought it was sexy enough to warrent writing this letter:

    “You may want to consider that what you’re wearing has a negative effect on men (and women) around you. Many people come to this university because they feel safe, morally as well as physically, here. They expect others to abide by the Honor Code that we all agreed on. Please consider your commitment to the Honor Code (which you agreed to) when dressing each day. Thank you.”

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