EAST LANSING, Mich. — The so-called “unwritten rule” behind nights where college students gather over drinks is that some young women tend to dress more provocatively than they do on a typical everyday basis.
About four out of five women who responded anonymously to an informal Spartan Newsroom poll said that when they go out to the bars, they generally choose their outfits with the goal of receiving attention; preferably from males.
During the entirety of a regular school week, you will typically see women in college in their comfortable sweatshirts and sweatpants; for the most part not fully caring about their appearances as much as they would for a night out. Once it’s nighttime is when the risqué outfits come into appearance. Seductive outfits come out of the closet. This could include crop tops, short skirts or shorts, and various other articles of revealing clothing choices.
Michigan State University sophomore Sarah Finegood said she puts a lot of consideration into her party outfits.
“I always decide if a certain outfit is flattering, cute, trendy and would catch the eyes of others when going out,” Finegood said.
Striving to look your very best is a normal thing to try and achieve when you go out. However, is there a line that should be drawn between dressing “too sexy?”
What type of attention is good vs. bad?
In the eyes of many women, there are certain types of attention out there that are, in fact, acceptable.
Megan Maas, assistant professor at MSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies, believes that in any situation, despite if women are trying to impress others, they still have to dress appropriately.
“Women’s dress is always ridiculed, even if they’re not meaning to be sexy at that point in time,” Maas said. “For example, Hillary Clinton was always mocked about her pantsuits, whereas male politicians are not.”
However, certain forms of attention that lead to negative actions, such as sexual harassment, have also sometimes led to assumptions that a woman’s outfit choice plays a role on if she receives unwanted attention.
These assumptions made by many include phrases such as, “She was clearly asking for it based off of what she’s wearing.” This means that people who have this thought process believe a woman’s outfit choice is associated with the type of attention she’ll earn.
An opinion given in an anonymous survey regarding this assumption said outfits have nothing to do with this perceived problem.
“Most guys wouldn’t even recognize the effort that goes into a lot of girls’ outfits,” one respondent wrote. “I know that dressing more provocatively will probably garner more attention, but I like to do it for myself as a self-confidence boost.”
Women who go to out to the bars and engage in certain types of behavior while at these bars are far more likely to experience bar-related aggression than those that don’t, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions.
Dublin Square is a popular college bar in East Lansing. Bartender Winston Mallory said that when alcohol is brought into the picture, it plays a role in stereotypes that women are more likely to be more subjected to these aggressions by males on their nights out.
“When you’re in a bar and you’re drinking, your mind gets a little more tainted,” Mallory said. “Usually the guys are flirting, trying to get them drinks, woo them, talk to them; that’s the typical general trend that I’ll usually see.”
On the flip side, Rick’s American Cafe bartender Brooke Mullin said both women and men she notices while working will sometimes have a plan in order to receive that attention both genders are seeking.
“As a bartender, the common thing I notice between men and women is one trying to use buying a drink for the other person as a means of talking to someone,” Mullin said. “Usually a group of girls will purposely flirt with a guy for free drinks and then casually leave, or a guy and his friends will see cute girls come down so they go and buy them shots.”
Maas said it’s okay to express yourself through whatever women choose to wear, but they also have to be smart while doing so.
“Women should dress how they want because it makes them feel good,” Maas said. “But then you still have to ask yourself: Do I feel good even if no one comments on how sexy I am? Do I still feel good if I’m freezing or my feet hurt?”