I have watched the erosion of manners and courtesy between men and women my whole life. I remember when I was a child, how men would hold a door open for a woman, offer their seat in a waiting room, or stop to change a tire for a woman. This whole chivalry thing has really faded from the American landscape. I regret its passing. I found hope in a most unexpected place however. Wal Mart’s Garden Department.
I was shopping at Wal Mart about two years ago. Yes, I shop at Wal Mart, and I am not ashamed. It was a hot day, and the store was crowded. As I was moving through the Garden Department looking for a decent bird feeder, something caught my eye. It was a woman in a sundress. I immediately noticed her. Now, my wife was with me, so this wasn’t some lustful ogling I was doing. I noticed because she was the only woman that was wearing a dress. Every other woman was wearing shorts. The shorts were often tight, and real short. The tops were mostly tight and low cut or both, and yet, in this veritable meat market of womanly assets on display, I noticed this woman in a sundress. And I noticed her in a different manner than I noticed the other women. This woman’s bearing caused me to respect her. She was not a knockout, or drop dead gorgeous. She was simply an average looking woman in a sundress. It made me think: why does she stand out from the crowd? I turned to Julie and I said, “you see that woman in a sun dress? If she has a flat tire on the way home, she won’t be changing it.” Julie wasn’t sure what I meant, so I explained:
Men love to look at women. This is nothing new. When a woman dresses in a sensual way, leaving nothing to the imagination, we notice. Big Time. If a woman is looking to get a man’s attention, this will absolutely work. The kind of attention she is getting, however, is not the kind of attention I want my daughter or my wife getting from men. I know what men are like, and I know how men think. I can guarantee that a guy is not looking at a woman dressed with everything hanging out and hoping to discuss the virtues of Mother Theresa and her Sisters of Mercy in Calcutta. Ladies, you know it. Don’t fool yourselves.
The woman who was dressed in the sundress drew attention, but it was a completely different kind of attention. She was being noticed for her appearance, but there was a respect that went along with the attention. She looked feminine, and perhaps, by extension, somewhat refined, and yes, perhaps vulnerable. I cannot fully explain this phenomenon, but when a man sees a woman that exudes femininity, it makes him want to exude masculinity. I don’t mean the “hey baby, let’s breed” aspect of masculinity, but something more noble. He wants to open the door for her, he wants to get her attention. He also wants to (dare I say it) protect the damsel in distress. It is something hard-wired into the male psyche to want to be a woman’s hero. When a woman wears a dress, it brings out something of that protective element in a man. As I told my wife, that lady in the sun dress will not be changing any flat tires today.
Ladies, let me give you some advice. Dress to appeal to this higher element in men. You will be pleasantly surprised at the higher level of male attention you get. It will be tempered with a respect that you will really like. Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose.
Except the opportunity to change your own tires.
P.S. This is not intended as a “you should only wear a dress and pants are evil” post. I am making a cultural observation about how smart women can avoid doing auto repair.