Opinion: Why Clothing Should Never Define Your Sexuality

GS LOVE / February 19, 2018
A pair of distressed denim cut off jean shorts.

GS LOVE Contributor, Elizabeth Brennan, takes on the question whether the amount of clothing worn should play a factor in defining a women’s sexuality. 


“No surprise she’s wearing that skirt… She’s a total slut!”


The high school girls devolve into hushed giggles, clutching their stomachs, yet making no noise. I sit two tables away. I’ve been there, I’ve done that; I’ve been both the girl in the “slutty” skirt and the girl talking about it. For the longest time I didn’t understand what was so detrimental about the word “slut”. After all, though we as a society do use it as an insult hurled at those we wish to demean, it is also a term of endearment among friends.


“Smile, bitch! You look real pretty today.”


Am I supposed to be flattered or offended? I walk along the city streets, clutching one arm tightly around my purse and the other around my chest, pointedly looking down at my feet. I silently curse my outfit: jean cutoffs and a Sugarlips tank top. I am all alone, and the blood is pounding in my ears. I remember learning about the “fight or flight” response in school, and I wonder if I will have to choose today, and, if so, what my choice will be.

I believe I only began to understand the gravity of using clothing as a means of defining a woman’s sexuality after the Brock Turner rape case at Stanford. As I read the victim’s closing remarks in the trial (if you haven’t read them, I’d highly recommend checking them out) I found myself shocked and appalled that the prosecuting attorney made a point of inquiring about her clothing the night she was sexually assaulted.

Firstly, to all girls and women, calling ourselves as “sluts” or “bitches” only reiterates to sexual predators that they may refer to us in the same manner. If we want to change this dangerous culture, let’s start from within, and eliminate such sexist slurs from our vocabulary!

Secondly, be confident in your clothing choices. You are not a “slut” if you choose to wear clothing that reveals the curves on your body, and it is never acceptable for anyone to treat you as such. Your character is not defined by your perceived modesty or immodesty, nor will it ever be.

Finally, if you have been sexually harassed, if you have thought your clothing was the problem, if you have wondered whether or not you come off as too promiscuous, #metoo.

The notion that what a woman chooses to wear can dictate her promiscuity is outdated and, frankly, completely wrong. I do believe that we can change this stigma, one that has been ingrained in us for far too long, but it will be a hard fight.

Let’s fight like girls.


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