One of the neighborhood councils here in San Diego has been putting on free outdoor concerts this summer, and my wife and I have found them to be a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We were at one of those concerts this weekend, having a picnic supper with some friends and their kids while we listened to the music, when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a girl walking by in a ridiculously short skirt.
Now, the phenomenon of the girl walking by in a short skirt is something that pretty much all men are familiar with. Most men have even developed strategies for how to deal with this phenomenon without seeming as lecherous as, well, we are.
Some guys do this by developing their peripheral vision so they never have to look directly at the girl. Some use sunglasses or other barriers to conceal the path of their gaze. Others have mastered the “mental snapshot,” taking in and perfectly storing all the details with only a split-second glance, to be recalled and appreciated after the moment has passed.
I’m no different, of course. As feminist, father, and husband, I’ve tried to train myself not to look, but it’s difficult — revealing clothes are like magnets to the eye. I used to feel guilty about it, but I’ve come to realize that it’s just as true for women as men.
If anything, the women I know are even more drawn to looking at scantily clad women than the men are.
What’s more, they’re not even subtle about it — women will actually fully turn around in their chairs to stare, something I’ve rarely seen a man do. Men don’t often realize that women look at other women, probably because men are too busy concentrating on making it look like they’re not looking, themselves.
So there I was, having a nice picnic with my family and friends, enjoying the music and the nice weather, when I see this woman in a short skirt walk by. And it’s not just a short skirt; it’s the shortest skirt I’ve ever seen. Even calling it a skirt requires a pretty inclusive definition of the word “skirt,” because I have — no exaggeration — seen belts that were nearly as wide.
There was a point in my life when, presented with the sight of a skirt so short that it didn’t cover even half of its wearer’s bottom, I would have mentally turned into one of those drooling, wolf-whistling characters from a 40’s-era Looney Tunes cartoon.
What about now? Was my first reaction to get excited or turned-on? Nope. My first reaction was to think, “What is the point of that?”
My second thought? “Oh God, Oh God, what if I have a daughter some day?”
I don’t know exactly how or when it happened, but it appears that some time in the past few years I must have grown up. Fancy that.
“Life Magazine, March 13, 1970: scanned in four sections and merged” rchappo2002 @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.
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