Wearing Yoga Pants – a Debate on Opposite Gender Discussions

For the past few years, the word Feminism has been progressively more associated with man-hating. For anybody who knows the true meaning of the word, this might not make much sense: feminism, by definition, is an ideology that defends gender equality, equal rights between men and women. Therefore, how can it be sexist?

As a woman, I am all about defending women’s rights, and so would I be if I were a man. This is only logical, since the human sex ratio for our world population is 101 men to 100 women and, as long as one half of the Earth’s population is being discriminated and does not have the same rights as the other, I don’t see how the second half can thrive. If we were in a reverse situation and men were the oppressed gender, I would gladly defend their equality of rights. So, for a person like me, it is worrying to see how tarnished the word Feminism has become. My worry can only translate into one simple, yet very complex question: How and why did this happen?

Drifting through social networks, you can find plenty of discussions regarding this subject, one of which falls directly on women’s use of yoga pants. According to many men, this causes women to lose their legitimacy when they complain about being the target of sexual remarks. I found this to be a good example because it raised a lot of questions. Women complain about being harassed by men on the streets. If they are wearing yoga pants when this happens, do they still have the right to complain or are they “asking for it”? Can men control their urge to look at women and catcall them? Are women still harassed when they are not wearing yoga pants? In this case, do men lose all of their legitimacy? Have they ever had such legitimacy?

Although these questions all relate to the same particular situation (this temporary fashion of the yoga pants) I think they also lead us directly into the core subject: the Battle of the Sexes, women’s rights versus men’s rights. These are some comments I read when I was watching a video about women wearing yoga pants:

1 – “The amazing double morale with women is that they want men to want them, but they also complain about you wanting them. (…) And also their lack of understanding of the human behaviour: men are hard wired to always look for potential mates”.

2 – “You are a woman so your lack of logic does not surprise me, because women are not logical, they are emotional. Women also love attention, they want to be taken as a priority by men. If a man cheats on them, they will be mad at him because they feel like they aren’t his priority any more”.

3 – “Women wouldn’t complain about being catcalled if the man doing it was Brad Pitt”.

4 – “Men built and maintain civilization and will determine the future of it, women are strictly along for the ride”.

5 – “Women are biologically and naturally stupid, they always sleep with guys who disrespect them, who have a big wallet and are physically fit”.

6 – “When women stare at men, it looks as creepy and awful as what women say about men doing the same“.

All these replies to the video shocked and saddened me. These statements hardly deserve to be answered. For instance, statement number 1: men are apparently willing to make little of their rational thinking just to win the discussion. Saying that men cannot control their biological urge to “look for potential mates” and use that as an excuse to harass women on the streets is the same as saying that they are primal beings who act purely on instinct.

Statement number 2: there is a common saying according to which women tend to act more based on their emotions than on their reason. But I do not believe that there is such a big difference between men and women. Men are also sensitive, emotional beings. It is society that has taught them to raise prejudice against their vulnerable, sensitive side, denying it and trying to rationalize it. Having said that, both men and women are rational and emotional beings.

Statement number 3: men would probably not be displeased if Angelina Jolie walked by them on the street and whistled at them. There is, nevertheless, a considerable difference between some innocent remarks and crude, sexual comments.

After having taken a look at all these biased, absurd statements, I decided to reply to the man who wrote statement number 2. I told him that, if he was using the argument that women act purely out of their emotions, I could as simply use the argument that “men only think with their lower head”. However, by doing so, I would be incurring in a stereotype, just like he had done. It is as much a stereotype to say that women cannot control their emotions in front of men as it is to say that men are only driven by their sexual impulses.

In fact, looking at all the comments below the video and at all arguments used in common discussions between men and women, the common factor is this: using stereotypes to attack each other.

While stereotypes can, on one hand, help us react quickly to a certain situation (because we can recognise them from other common situations) they will, on the other hand, ignore the differences between individuals. Stereotypes can be very biased and discriminate large numbers of people. Having heard and participated in many arguments between men and women, I have always seen this happen: both parties use stereotypes to attack each other and prove their point.

So, going back to my first question, I believe one of the answers is:

  • Women lose their legitimacy when defending their own rights by using stereotypes to attack men and prove their point. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all women do this. But it is important to remember that having a mediator intervention in opposite gender discussions can raise greater agreement than attacking the other party.

Another reason as to why the word Feminism has been tarnished is:

  • Just like women must not incur into any stereotypes against men, men must do the same. To continue insulting each other with these widespread, overstated ideas related either to the female or male gender will only harm both.

And this last statement leads me to the final conclusion:

  • Women and men must not view each other as opposite parties. We obviously have to recognise the differences between us, because they exist, but that does not mean that we don’t deserve equal rights.

Having taken these arguments into consideration, there is another question to reflect on: If women are wearing yoga pants when this (being harassed by men) happens, do they still have the right to complain or are they “asking for it”?

In my belief, it is not just misogynistic men who are responsible for denigrating the idea of Feminism. Women who have certain behaviours that objectify them are not helping themselves or any other woman. We cannot make men respect us if we do not respect ourselves first. As a result, I believe it is important to point this out:

  • The contempt towards Feminism is caused by both men and women. Viewing each other as opposite sides of one battle, as competitors or opponents, does not help either of us.

The best way to clean the word Feminism and to fight for women’s rights – a fight that should be carried out by both genders – is to stop attacking each other with stereotypes and to act as mediators in these endless discussions. To recognise that the rights of one of us are deeply connected to the rights of all the others is fundamental. We must not think of ourselves as individuals, but as one group that needs to live together in this world, sharing it peacefully and equally with all other living beings.

Post Scriptum:

Feminism = an ideology that defends equal rights for women

Sexism = discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender

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14 thoughts on “Wearing Yoga Pants – a Debate on Opposite Gender Discussions

  1. “If we were in a reverse situation and men were the oppressed gender…” Can I just ask you a question about this sentence: what makes you instantly think women are the “oppressed gender”? The only oppression that in my opinion women suffer and men don’t is in the labour market, such as income inequality and pregnancy discrimination. Other than that, I apologise for disagreeing but I think men are as vulnerable as women when it comes to uncomfortable situations like catcalling and stereotype attacking. I know by experience what I’m talking about…

    • I refer to the fact that there are 25 countries in this world where women still don’t have equal access to education; to the labour market with its income inequality and pregnancy discrimination, like you said. To the fact that there are millions of companies ran by men in comparison with only a few women on the boards of large companies (or in politics, by the way). To the fact that there are countries in this world where women cannot drive, vote or wear what they want – simply because they are women. I’m not talking about the West alone in this post, and in a global context, you have to admit that women are the oppressed gender. I do not, however, deny that men may be the victims of discrimination too. For the contrary, what I wanted to point out with this post is that we must achieve equality by understanding and supporting each other, not by attacking the other gender.

      • Countries that deny women the right to drive, vote or wear what they want are nations intrinsically connected with Islam or other extremely repressive religions that also discriminate, not only woman, but homosexuals, gypsies, Christians or any other person that don’t share their beliefs. I don’t give absolutely any credit to countries like that because if they can’t be tolerant towards me (as an non-Muslim), then I don’t have to be tolerant towards them. And having millions of companies ran by men is not a problem. Having a woman doing the same job as a man and earn less just because she’s a women IS in fact the problem.

      • First of all, just because they are repressive towards other demographic groups, that doesn’t mean we should ignore that fact and not fight for everyone’s rights. They are countries of our world, so it should be everybody’s problem. Second of all, I don’t agree with you. Having millions of companies ran by men is a proof of women’s inequality of rights. If they were considered equally competent or productive as men, there would certainly be more companies ran by women.

      • It is not necessarily a proof of women’s inequality of rights. You can’t force people to hire women for executive positions in a company, or simply there aren’t as many women applying for those positions as men. Not every woman wants to pursue a career in a company or in politics.

      • But is it a coincidence that almost every big company in the world is controlled by a man? I don’t think so. Women can be as interested as men in economics or politics – but in most cases, they just don’t get as many opportunities to be in high power positions as men. That is a fact.

      • The London Stock Exchange, General Motors, IBM, Xerox, DuPont, Lockheed Martin, Oracle, PepsiCo, HP, Avon Products, Yahoo!, all these major multinational companies/corporations were or are run by women or at least have a women in their executive board, either as a chair(wo)man, a CEO or a co-CEO. Can you prove that women don’t get as many opportunities as men when it comes to reach leading positions in companies? If that happened, I’d say nowadays governments and companies are making efforts in order to change that situation. We can’t say the same about the daily discrimination some men still suffer. I don’t see campaigns about ending domestic violence perpetrated by woman, for instance. You can correctly counter-argue that men account for the majority cases of domestic violence, that is a fact, but just because men are a minority when it comes to that issue, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also pay attention to it.

      • Listen, I agree with you that some major companies have women as CEO, executive board or co-CEO, but the fact that the vast majority of corporations are run by men definitely makes a point. Look at other jobs: teachers, doctors… they are all divided between men and women. Why are high powered positions not so equally divided?, that is my question. The matter of domestic violence is a different one. As a matter of fact, I think statistics say that situations in which men are the victims are a lot more common that most people know. But this issue isn’t so openly approached because of society itself. Society doesn’t want to admit that men may be the victims of abuse by women. Many men would never even admit to being victims, simply because they are ashamed of it. Which they shouldn’t be, of course – but this is a good example of how a manly, virile mentality (fuelled by society) actually hurts men themselves. Can you tell me that, if one day people turned on the news and there was an interview to a guy who had been raped and beaten by his wife, many men watching the same news would not laugh at him?

      • I agree that women may still have less opportunities in the labour market than men, even though that’s changing, fortunately. I agree that women should have the same opportunities to reach leading positions in companies as man. I agree that it’s not acceptable that, in the XXIst century, there are still people who think women belong to the kitchen. What I don’t agree is that, in a broad way, and outside the economical and political sphere, women have it harder than men. That’s what I said on my first comment. I’ve heard many ardent feminists saying that women have more probability of being raped than men, that women are more easily judged by their body shape, for instance, than men, or even that women have it harder also in biological terms because of menstrual and pregnancy pains. What sense does all this make? Is it men’s fault that nature (or God, depending on your beliefs) decided to “wire” women’s bodies this way? What I’m trying to say is basically this: women can’t expect to earn “society’s respect” as long as they keep feeding us this “victimising” mentality, because it’s not true. Both men and women have it hard, in different aspects, correct, but both have it hard.

      • Yes, but that’s precisely the message I was trying to send with my post. My point was (and is) that we need to have a mediator intervention in these “battles of sexes”, because using stereotypes to attack each other won’t bring any good. There are two conclusions we can come to, in my opinion: on one hand, in a general context, women are currently more discriminated than men (it is impossible to say otherwise considering a global picture of women’s status in today’s world); on the other hand, trying to elevate women’s position in society by insulting or attacking men won’t grant us any victories in the fight for equal rights. That’s what I aimed at with my post. Quoting: “we cannot expect man to respect us if we do not respect ourselves first”.

  2. I agree on most of your points except one. Just because there are more men as comapny heads doesn’t mean there’s no equality. If a company is giving equal opportunity that is enough, whether you get that job is up to your determination and skill level. I think men are better suited for that job because men are more bussiness minded and better at handeling hardships as those positions are hard to get. I don’t mean to say that women don’t have determination and skill but most of them don’t have enough resolve, most of them are easygoing. You can say that it is a stereotypic comment but I wrote what I observed in my soceity. It is rare to find an intelligent and rational woman(which I think you are based on my obervation) but it is rarer to find one who is intelligent,raional & hardgoing all at the same time. Most of the hardgoing girls I know are bitches and don’t want have what it takes to be a leader. Same goes for boys most of us are assholes specialy those who catcall women.

    • Yes, I agree with you that if a company is giving equal opportunity, that is enough. But the problem, I think, is that many many companies still don’t give that equal opportunity. Look at the examples: many companies don’t want to hire women because of the “pregnancy risk” (because, if they get pregnant, women have to spend months not working and the company still has to pay them). In my opinion, this is a form of discrimination. A woman should have the opportunity to work and still get pregnant, be a worker and a mother. Look, for another example, at the case of Iceland. Iceland is supposedly considered “the most egalitarian country in the world” (please note that I said supposedly. I have never been there, so I speak of what I have read, not seen personally). In Iceland, there is no problem with women getting pregnant at work because every couple that is going to have a baby has a “shared leave”; meaning that the mother can stay at home with the baby for 3 months, the father stays for another 3 months; and they still have 3 more months to share with each other. This means that, for a company, the “risk” of hiring a woman is now the same “risk” as hiring a man. So it makes them equal. Now, considering what you said about women not having enough resolve, all I can tell you is this: I personally would not like to be head of a company, because that is not the sort of work I like, but I know there are many women who would like to be. And, speaking again of Iceland, please note that 43% of Parliament chairs in Iceland are occupied by women + Iceland has had the first female Head of State democratically elected (and she was a single mother!, which I find admirable) + Iceland has had the first openly homosexual female Prime-Minister! (I’m not going to discuss homosexuality here, I’m just using it as an example of “equal opportunities” in Iceland). Of course I know that Iceland is just one example, but look at Angela Merkel in Germany. I don’t like her, but she is a woman and she is in a strong position. Does that not show that women can be equally determined and capable of leading as men?

      But feel free to give me more things to think about; when I wrote this post I wanted people to comment so that I could discuss and reflect on the subject! So thank you for making me reflect.

  3. Yes women can be or rather they are equally determined and capable as men but the thing is they were not encouraged to become leaders. Back in the days men were taught to be leaders and women – you know how things were back then. A woman leading a company/country was near to impossible, it was a big thing if one is head of a community or an organisation. Now things are changing and I’m sure that in near future we’ll have compareable number of men and women leading this world.

    The reason i commented was because there were not many people here, so how would you know what is the worth of your ideas. The other reason was that we could have one-on-one conversation.
    On other sites there are a lot of people commenting about a topic and I’m surprised to see that no matter what the topic is there are always two sides of it. I just can’t decide which side to support because i have mixed ideas.
    Like take this yoga pants topic, I support women when they say that it’s their wish to wear what they want but as a boy I think wearing a yoga pant makes a girl a lot more attractive(in a sexual way) and as you know there are all kinds of men out there. Some compliment them, some catcall them but let me tell you this- there is not even a single man out there who doesn’t think about sex while there is a hot woman is standing in front of him and this is a fact (there was a university who tried to research men(adults) who don’t watch porn but they they couldn’t. Why? because every man watches porn). But thinking something and actually doing it are two different things, we can not control our thinking but we can control our actions. I know as a woman it’s hard for you to imagine it but that’s the truth.

    • Yes, well, I agree with everything you said now! And yes, it’s good to have a one-on-one debate. Even with that yoga pants case, it’s hard, because there are many sides to it… Personally, I don’t like wearing yoga pants unless I’m in my dance class (it’s more practical, of course), and I think that girls who wear them in public, with those short tops and everything, really do want men to look at them. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that they’re going to look, and if girls didn’t want them to look, then they wouldn’t wear such things in public. But then again, I think they are entitled to wear anything they want… if they know what the consequences are going to be and if they are fine with that. My main complaint on this subject is when you are wearing perfectly decent clothes and you still have to listen to a guy catcalling you on the street. That is pretty unpleasant. But it is like you said. Every man is different and I know there are many decent guys out there. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of idiots. But I agree with all you said.

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