This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Exhibitionism and vicarious sexuality

Without any meaningful constraints on the public display of physical love and in female dress, society has opened the way to a kind of exhibitionism which is preferred by some women to actual sexual contact. This is displayed in the tendency to wear more and more revealing clothing, and although the motivation here is always consciously stated as a simple, innocent desire for ‘comfortable clothing’ or ‘style’ and, it is claimed, has nothing to do with inciting lust in the opposite sex, it is plain that sensuality is the driving impulse. The latest trend, as we write these pages, is for women to wear ‘yoga pants’ casually in all public places and situations. They are referred to as ‘pants’, but of course they are what in previous generations would have been called ‘tights’ and would have been seen as an undergarment. That they are ‘comfortable’ we do not doubt, but the fact that what is revealed by the clothing does not seem to enter into the equation in conspicuous. In fact, it seems that the exhibition of the body actually increases the appeal of the clothing choice, rather than giving pause. In other words, we are led to wonder whether these women ‘feel good’ in this clothing for physical reasons or for psychological reasons, that is to say the feeling of comfort is amplified psychologically and emotionally by having more of the body on display.

This fascinating ignorance of the ‘sensual urge’ has multiple causes. It is no exaggeration to say that it is a form of self-worship wherein the woman derives actual pleasure from exhibiting her body, and this enjoyment is in a sense independent of any desire on the part of men who may or may not see her. Women in this respect might not be consciously concerned about what others see, but that does not make it any less sensual and exhibitionist. It does, however, make it easy to deny any sexual motivation, since they can say truly that they are not interested in male attention: they are deriving pleasure from the act of exposure itself.

It should be obvious at this point that such a trend is one that most women, if not stopped by some sort of custom or conscientiousness, will rush to join, and on any given day we see children and young women who are barely teenagers dressed in this sexually alluring way, side-by-side with women much older and whose physical condition would, if the trend were acknowledged as a sexual expression, cause them to rush indoors to change clothes. But because the sexual element is denied, women who are, for example, extremely overweight, do not hesitate to stretch tights over themselves and walk around with every contour in public view. For such women this is a unique experience because women with attractive bodies are almost expected to flaunt themselves in tight clothing, but it has always been an unspoken taboo that this behavior was not acceptable for those possessing a less-than-ideal physical form. The new trend, again with the sexual element repressed, finally permits women of all conditions to partake in the general exhibitionism alongside much younger or more attractive peers.

We cannot pass over the element of erotic violence in this provocative display. Women who, in the words of L.T. Woodward, “make a great show of their bodies but apply a symbolic placard bearing the words ‘Do not touch.’” Such behavior is openly aggressive and, whatever the sociopolitical justification of such demonstrations, it smacks of sadism.

In the end, this is simply gasoline on the fire, and if men respond to it by gawking and drooling and in some cases flat out assaulting women as a result, we should not be surprised, for excess calls to excess and one indulgence brings another. That is not to excuse male misconduct, but merely to point out that such crimes are to be expected under the conditions we have created, and that women in general are not innocent victims when they indiscriminately provoke male lust.

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