Science Says — Want More Respect? Show Less Skin.
In late November esteemed actress and senior citizen Angela Lansbury - 92, spoke to the Radio Times Magazine about sexual harassment entrenched in Hollywood and elsewhere. The Murder She Wrote star said, “there are two sides to this coin. We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us — and this is where we are today."
She took a lot of heat for the comment and eventually had to restate her true feelings saying she was, “troubled by how quickly and brutishly some have taken my comments out of context and attempted to blame my generation, my age, or my mindset, without having read the entirety of what I said.”
So Lansbury got smacked for stepping out of line, right? But did she really get out of line? She said “since time immemorial”, in other words she was talking about Human Nature. What does science say about the way real people act because it’s one thing to express how people SHOULD act but its another thing to acknowledge how we really do.
University of Vienna researchers found that most people have a diminished capacity to feel and recognize emotions or feel empathy for sexually objectified women. In an experiment, researchers found when actresses showed more skin --and certainly Hollywood is all about showing leg and cleveage, just look at the outfits on the red carpet -- participants were less likely to show empathy towards those women. It turns out the study subjects were better at showing empathy when the actresses were dressed in a "personalized" way, and were more covered up.
So what's this all mean? For one, it means Angela Lansbury wasn't having a senior moment when she expressed her first opinion and it means for all the good intentions and higher ideals, in the real world how we look and dress is not neutral in its affect on those around us. That's not to say there isn't a line that shouldn't be crossed. There definitely is, but maybe that line is a little blurry when it takes doublestick tape to keep your dress closed?