What is the big deal about a woman’s clothes?

By Felicity Moore

Walking up Deansgate on a Saturday night and the fashionista’s are out in full.

But with such a variety of outfits to choose from, the array of clothing on show by the women of Manchester was different to say the least.

Moving in to the Northern Quarter and you will find a whole host of girls dressed in what some label ‘alternative’ as the music scene takes a step up.

Deansgate, on the other hand, essentially has a more ‘glam’ aspect as the background noise of drumming heels march down the road to Deansgate Locks.

Now the average party girl likes to keep her feet dancing until the early hours of the morning but the underlying feeling that we should all be very careful at such times is only too resonant.

No more so than when the Canadian police officer, Michael Sanguinetti, made his somewhat controversial comment that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”.

Should the way we dress effect how men interact with us? Are they so base in nature that a flash of leg and a glimpse of cleavage might make them regress to the days of rape and pillage? I can’t help but disagree.

As well as the big point that as women we should have the right to wear what we want, I think a similarly big point is that men, shockingly enough, can control themselves.

Let us look at the latest addition of ‘SlutWalkers’ in Manchester recently. I was there, and the turnout didn’t just include women, oh no, men were fully clad in supportive ‘women should wear what they want’ gear as well.

One of the unofficial organisers, a University of Manchester Politics and History student, said: “There have been guys being explicitly positive and it’s quite nice to see them say ‘yes, I’m also in support of this’.”

I think a very good point was made when she added: “You should be respected in whatever clothes you are wearing. What you wear shouldn’t define who you are”.

I couldn’t agree more. The march really wasn’t just about re-claiming the word as has been described but was about taking control of who we are and how we choose to present ourselves.

Should we be labeled sluts derogatively for what we wear in order to placate those who, maybe, just don’t get our dress sense?

While I witnessed the march I spoke to PR manager and feminist Samantha Goldsmith. Her views were refreshing and insightful.

She said: “I’m not so much a feminist that I will go to jumping on the bandwagon of any subject involving the female sex but this case has got to be highlighted.

“I have to say that I think the SlutWalk is about reclaiming the word necessarily. I truly think the whole thing just lets us empower ourselves, why can’t we wear what we want as long as it’s not breaking any laws?”

“Surely in this day and age we shouldn’t be dictated to or have to fear sexual reprisals for wearing a short skirt.”

The main problem here is putting the blame on the victim. In a discussion with a group of the SlutWalk organisers an interesting point was raised. When a girl goes on a night out she is subjected to warnings by mothers, fathers, brothers, boyfriends and the list goes on.

Don’t go anywhere on your own, stick with your friends. Don’t wear that dress, I can see far too much of your legs and you will only attract the wrong attention.

The girls said: “Why don’t men who are out late get warnings from their friends?

“Such as, don’t be pushing yourself on any girls unnecessarily tonight. Don’t get rapey, wait for a yes!”

Why don’t we look at more preventative methods than blaming methods once the crime has been committed?

Of course, I’m not saying this always happens but the SlutWalk sensation came about for the sole reason that women were told by an authoritative figure that by wearing clothes deemed ‘slutty’, we were essentially asking to be taken advantage of.

Now if we move up north a little and to the east of Manchester we find Newcastle, the home of the new reality show ‘Geordie Shore’.

This is a programme consisting of eight young housemates; four lads and four lasses. They each describe themselves as consistently being out on the pull, with one of the girls quoted as saying: “You just slutdrop it. You just go bosh. That’s it, you pulled, end of”.

Now the ‘slutdrop’ consists of looking around a club and finding a guy you like, moving on over to him, gyrating behind him and then to ‘seal the deal’, you just drop instantly to the floor and get back up again.

Now as dubious as it may sound and as judgmental as you might find yourself being, does it really matter what they do when it comes to matters of the…er…heart?

It all seems rather tongue in cheek to me and surely it is up to them how they dress and act.

As long as they aren’t harming anyone who are we to comment. The point is these girls are well aware of what they are doing as they discuss it freely in the sober light of day.

Perhaps they are reclaiming the word for themselves in their own way.


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