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woman's portrait


Making a statement
For many people, the clothes we wear are a way of self-expression, reflecting our interests, ideas about ourselves and sometimes even desires about what we'd like to be.

Clothing can also make serious statements whether it's in the form of a slogan on a T-shirt or a particular item of dress worn to reflect the wearer's religious beliefs such as a hijab worn by many Muslim women.

However, for women there is often a further dimension attributed to their choice of clothing - it can make a statement about their sexuality, and also their morality.

fashion shot

Negative attentions?
If a woman wears short, skimpy clothing, some people argue that it means she's 'easy' or 'loose', and deserves any attention from men she may get.

This can be taken further to argue that if a woman is attacked or raped when wearing such 'provocative' clothing, she effectively 'asked for it'. Needless to say, such comments are not made about men's clothes.

It is also notable that when women are attacked because of perceptions about their morality, they are never attacked by other women.

traditional dress

Negative attitudes!
Statistically, the reality in the West is that clothing seems to play little part in whether a woman is attacked or not.

Instead attacks reflect more the aggressor's attitude to women, in which they are seen to be little more than objects. The fact that women around the world are the victims of male violence is an issue which needs to be addressed, rather than looking for excuses and justifications for men's behaviour.

This is particularly important in countries which do not give equal status to women in terms of their social, political, and even legal standing.


Respecting difference
Of course, perceptions and attitudes take a long time to change. There is also the argument that some clothes are more appropriate to certain places than others.

For example, no one would recommend that you wear a bikini in the office! Similarly, when travelling in different countries and cultures, women - and men - should respect the dress conventions of those places.

Whilst it is not always easy to reconcile different traditions with personal preferences, many women are adept at subverting clothing - including make-up - for their own enjoyment and self-expression.