The main part of my job is running social media for a lingerie brand (no surprise as to which one, although I'm keeping the name out of this article to avoid it being search-able), which, of course, includes a Facebook Page.
Now, people interact with Facebook Pages in certain, often completely bizarre, ways. There are those who "get" that they are currently interacting with a brand or a company in public, and that there is a possibility that their interaction will show up in their friends' timeline. Then there are those that seem to have varying degrees of understanding, ranging from kinda-understand to interactions that I can only assume are from someone completely devoid of social ability.
Most Page admins will have witnessed this at some point, either from someone posting a completely unrelated comment that seems to be personally directed at someone (I assume they have seen a notification that their friend has "liked" a status/post and assumed that it is a share) or some sort of spam. Or just the equivalent of someone that has wandered into a shop/restaurant/business and started shouting "WHAT IS THIS. WHAT IS THIS. WHAT IS THIS." at the top of their lungs.
But, you know, all of this is fairly tolerable, or completely insignificant. What I cannot tolerate are crude sexual comments. Either directed at me (well, their version of me - I can only assume that think there is a model sitting behind the computer in her underwear, completely stationary and awoken only when her knight in shining armour says the immortal words "Hey baby") or directed at the models in the images (some of which are my friends, which frustrates me even more. If the comment were made in a pub or club, I'd happily tell them where to shove it. Unfortunately that is considered bad business practice from someone representing a brand).
(We get about one of these messages a week; I've stopped responding)
This is my JOB, this is WHAT I DO ALL DAY, and just because I work in the lingerie business does not mean I should accept sexual comments. The brand I work for is fairly vanilla (i.e. not very risqué, and mostly fashion-based rather than boudoir-based), the marketing copy I write rarely, if ever, talks about sex. To say that I should expect that kind of response is like saying a woman should expect sexual advances if she shows any skin or wears a short skirt.
Sure, the comments are not personally aimed at me, because of course nobody knows who I am (for all they know, they could be "Hey baby"ing another man), but it's the sheer number of comments that is grating. If my only knowledge and experience with men was by running this facebook page, I'd be under the impression that all men are akin to rabid dogs desperately pawing at a butcher's window. And that's not how you Gentlemen want to be portrayed, is it?
Most of the comments are probably seen as "harmless fun" or "witty" jokes (the kind your male friends might say to wind you up, apart from these guys are not your friends) - and trust me, I've heard ALL the jokes. But they aren't harmless. Buying lingerie is an intensely personal thing. Women must have a degree of trust with their lingerie retailers, and to me, the retailer has the responsibility to protect their female customers' confidence. And could you imagine buying lingerie in a physical boutique while a man stands in the middle of the room making crude noises and commenting on the body of the models in the posters? Would that make you feel confident, to know that this man is probably comparing you to those models?
(You'd be surprised how many times we get comments regarding some sort of ownership of the model, and I usually respond in a similar vein.)
And really, what it boils down to, is the inability to disconnect lingerie from sex. The Lingerie Addict wrote about this in her article regarding the response to Victoria Secret's line of lingerie for young women -
"Lingerie does not always have to be about the boudoir. Yes, it’s fine if it is, but why aren’t we telling young women that you can totally buy that lacy bra and panty set just for you? No one else has to see it. You don’t have to be in a relationship. You don’t have to show it off. You can buy this beautiful lingerie and be completely, awesomely selfish about it, and wear it all by yourself. And that’s not only okay, it’s wonderful."
I couldn't say this better myself. And the way certain men react to images of women in lingerie just encourages this problem. Women see the way certain (keyword: certain. I truly believe that the majority of men do not have this mind-set) men objectify women in lingerie and assume they should only wear lingerie to please men. And even that wearing nice lingerie WITHOUT having a partner is "slutty". There have been so many occasions when I see women write "I wish I could buy this but I have no one to wear it for" and feel like screaming at the computer screen.
Another great lingerie blog, Under the Unders, tackled this subject very well in her post "(Don't) Sex it up". She also mentions that lingerie marketing is also to blame for the inability to separate sex from lingerie, and this is a very good point. I don't care if you buy my lingerie, or a competitor's, as long as you are buying it to make yourself feel good. Having a healthy relationship with lingerie will allow you to truly appreciate your own body in all its glory, and that is more important than sex (that will come along with the confidence!).
You want to wear that lacy lingerie on a day-to-day basis? Wear it. Wear what YOU want to wear. And this includes wearing plain or sports bras - not wearing lace or frills doesn't make you any less of an attractive woman (but that's a whole other rant!).