By the way … Putting men in a tight spot

I propose that men be banned from wearing tight pants that leave little to the imagination. Those pants are often provocative and distracting. Let’s ban tight pants because they are — to use the words of our Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali — pornographic.

The minister heads the anti-porn task force and has to make a list of criteria of what is considered pornographic to effectively ban it.

Our Pornography Law doesn’t help him much as it has a sweeping definition on pornography: “Sexual materials made by people … that can arouse sexual desires and/or violate public moral values”.

So far, skirts that are worn above the knee have made it onto his list. By that logic, tight pants would be on that list, too. They are not only highly suggestive but also troubling.

Everyone, from punk rockers to corporate workers and men in uniform — whose tasks are, among others, to maintain public order — wear tight pants. It’s hard to do your job well when your derriere is the source of public curiosity.

See, I — and maybe some other women out there — get aroused by what those pants hide, or rather, emphasize. When those cops are waving their hands on the street, they think they’re helping the traffic to flow better. But we don’t! At least, I’m too busy checking out their cute butts.

For public decency and men’s own safety, no visible contours of a man’s behind in the streets should be available for public consumption. This is a matter of great importance.

Tights pants are so disturbing; they make me want to rape those beautiful men. Rape is bad. It’s awful. But it’s not entirely my fault to have such a desire to dominate and emasculate men when they dress so outrageously.

I’ll stop being a wisecrack and address some serious questions to my male compatriots. How did you feel about a sexual fantasy of raping you because of your “provocative” clothing? Do you find that normal and acceptable? Unless you’re into some dominatrix sex, it’s safe to say many of you will feel disgusted, offended, hated, objectified and violated.

Think about those feelings. Think about the shock, anger and shame that swells inside of you when you read my comments.

This is exactly how many women feel when they walk the street and get wolf-whistles, or when men in power try to control what women should wear in the pretext of protecting them women from rape.

Many of our male politicians seem to condone the hostile behavior of men toward women.

When a spate of sexual assaults on Jakarta’s public transportation system happened late last year, Governor Fauzi Bowo’s first reaction was to tell women not to wear miniskirts on buses.

When sexual assaults hit the House of Representatives, Speaker Marzuki Alie moved to ban mini-skirts in the legislature, adding an irresponsible comment along the way: “You know how men are.”

I beg to differ. Let’s suppose that not all men are weak-willed creatures who are helpless at keeping their sexual urges in check.

A man confident in his sexual behavior would never see a woman wearing a miniskirt as an invitation for rape. Real men would know how to appreciate beauty and to enchant a woman with his personality. A real man does not rape — he charms.

Only very frustrated men would object to seeing women wearing miniskirts. Their frustration stems from knowing they have no chance of wooing these women, either by virtue of their lack of confidence or by being in a committed relationship with another person.

Well, tough luck. As Mick Jagger sang to his then lover, “You can’t always get what you want”.

But, in a world where men have a sense of entitlement over women, it is difficult to get across to them that women are individuals and not sexual objects nor reproductive machines.

Sexual assault is a degrading crime. Humiliation comes when the offender takes away the victim’s control over his or her body, robbing them of their autonomy and dignity as free human beings.

The suffering of rape victims is horrendous enough without other people putting the blame on the victim for how they dress.

No one has the right to violate another person. There are no excuses. The danger is in the eye of the beholder, not in the object of beauty. The culprit is the rapist, not the victim’s torn clothes.

— Prodita Sabarini

The Jakarta Post | Headlines | Sun, April 22 2012