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Friday, June 03, 2016

Catcalls, Compliments, and Outright Hypocrisy

So I've been seeing a lot of conversations about gender roles lately, specifically the objectification of women and how catcalls are absolutely not compliments.

As a woman, specifically as one who has dealt with her fair share of harassment, awkward flirting, and compliments, I kind of feel like someone needs to step in somewhere and throw some actual logic in.

"Learn to take a compliment!"
"Shut your face-hole, you slobbering, chauvinistic caveman!"
"I can clearly see your lady curves, so you obviously wanted attention!"
"Your attention was uninvited, as was your commentary!"

Men, women, sit down.  Shut the f*ck up.  You're both wrong.

Before you get offended and report this page, allow me to explain.

Ladies, raise your hand if you spend an extra couple of minutes in front of a mirror before you leave the house to make sure that your appearance is at least slightly less than horrifying.

Now feel extra silly because you're sitting in front of a computer in a room by yourself.

Okay, now answer me this: what are your personal criteria, for yourself, of what is and is not acceptable for your physical appearance to be seen by anyone who lives outside of your household?  

Next question - why?

Objectification and Beauty Standards

 Alright, so I know that not every woman feels that she needs to put on makeup or do anything special with her hair before leaving her house, and there are plenty of women out there who are totally content wearing sweats and hoodies without worrying about what anyone thinks about it.  There's not a damned thing wrong with that, either.

But, for the majority of women, there are at least a few rituals that we hold on to just as tight as tooth brushing and showering.  We pluck, shave, tweeze, style, moisturize, exfoliate, and contour our way into feeling human in the mornings.  While we can all stand here until we're blue in the face and swear that we only do those things for ourselves, there's a little part of us that does appreciate when someone notices.  In the right context, of course.

Anyway, we're all familiar with the term "sex sells."  And right as you read that, you were probably grimacing as you pictured a bikini-clad supermodel sitting on the hood of a ridiculously expensive sports car deep-throating a bacon cheeseburger while washing said sports car with some kind of magic hose that dispenses already-soapy water that somehow manages to splash and drip just right on her barely-concealed bosom.  Objectified women only sell things to men, right?


But wait - when women do it, it's called empowerment.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  If this were a Maxim cover, it would be sexist; but since it's a women's magazine - well, there are probably still plenty of women giving poor J-Lo the side-eye and calling her a whole bunch of not-so-nice synonyms for "hooker," because women are crazy - but the acceptance is still different.  It's a women's magazine, so it can't be objectification.  Erm... yes... yes it is.  Cosmo is still using half-naked, photo shopped, mysterious-smirk-wearing J-Lo to sell their magazine.

It's called a double standard.  The only difference is perception.  

Let's also address the issue of beauty standards - ladies, do you really think (straight) men are behind fashion, makeup trends, hair trends, diet fads, or any of that other mess that we put ourselves through as fairly typical women?  Do you really think that every man in the world wants a blonde haired, blue eyed, perfect size 2? Does everyone in the world love sushi?  F*ck no.  Just like anything else, people have different tastes.  So tell me then why it is that we have all these "impossible beauty standards" in the first place?

Ladies - you might want to sit down, I'm about to f*ck you up with some truth:  WE DO IT TO OURSELVES.

We can blame men all day long for having to look at Kate Upton staring back at us from the front of magazine covers and claim that we have low self-esteem because these standards have been shoved down our throats since we were old enough to watch television - but ladies, these are the standards WE buy.  These are the supermodels and singers and actresses WE idolized and decided we wanted to emulate.  These are the women WE objectified.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

And while we idolized and objectified these women, it became normal to look at these women not as people, but as pretty faces and fabulous bodies and mascots for products we wanted to buy to be more like them.

Those aren't men's shoes, guys.

And you know what?  If we can placate the green-eyed monster long enough to get over our own insecurities, we could admit that there is nothing wrong with a woman being comfortable enough in her own skin to dress in ways that show off her figure, her sexuality, or shit, however in the damn well she pleases.  Which brings me to:

The Hypocrisy

There are a couple parts to this.  I went off a little in left field earlier, but I haven't forgotten that the original intent of this post was to address the issue of harassment vs. compliments from the opposite gender.  I'm getting to that, but first I think we need to look at the idea that women who wear even slightly revealing clothing breathe are whores.

Rape Culture

Again, this is something that a lot of people want to peg on men in general.  But ladies, let me ask you this:  how many times have you, or a friend, or any female you know, declared that another female was a "whore," "hussy," "slut," "bitch," or was "asking for it," based on her appearance or what she was wearing?

Let me clarify:  how many White people do you know who can't understand why it's okay for Black people to call other Black people the "n" word, but not okay for White people to do it?  Let's forget for a minute that generally, when a Black person says the "n" word, it isn't meant with the nasty connotation it would have if a White person said it, while when a woman calls another woman a name like that, it's clearly venomous.  Point is, to people who have never experienced racism and don't know how deeply a word like that could actually cut, hearing it used so nonchalantly by the very people it slurs somehow takes the sting out of in their minds.  "It doesn't bother them," they think, "so it must not be as bad as I thought it was."

So if we always know that "fucking bitch" is always on the tip of men's tongues, do you think that maybe, at least for some of them, we put it there?  Or at least suggested it?

Why would you expect men to be hesitant about throwing those words out there, when we as women are so quick to use them as weapons against other women?  Saying "she's begging for it" is victim-shaming before anything has actually happened to her and sends the message that men aren't in control of their own behavior when lady lumps are present - which is both ridiculous and frankly a pretty harsh insult to men in general.  Men have been controlling their primal urges around scantily-clad women for generations, let's not assume that men have suddenly devolved into brainless, helpless sexbeasts when they're aroused.

My God, the one on the right is foaming at the mouth already!

That's not to say that it's all women's fault that our society is more inclined to blame the victim, but the overall perspective is obviously extremely flawed and it's going to take a major shift in attitude from all of us to fix it.

F*cking 50 Shades of Grey

Ugh.  I hate that this keeps coming up guys, but sweet baby Jesus.  Ladies - I just - and I'm just going by numbers here - but based on the success of these books and movies, let me just say that you're all full of smelly, steaming dog poo.  Why?  Because these stories are nothing but smut and objectification.  Yes, I realize it's fiction.  But what's the point of a good book?  To get lost in the world of the story.  To live vicariously through the characters in the book.  

And holy cheeseballs, ladies - you know what?   I'm just going to get right to the point.

That guy you just flipped the bird for whistling at you - was he good looking?

Don't look at me like that, you know what I'm talking about.  And I already know the answer.  See, it's okay for Mr. Magic Mike to whistle and hoot and holler, and you might blush and giggle and roll your eyes, but you probably won't get mad.  You might even be a little bit flattered, even if what he just said made your stomach lurch a bit.  

Wait, that's not what syrup's for...

Just like it's totally okay for Christian Grey, a handsome, wealthy sociopath, to do all kinds of awful, unmentionable things, in a f*cking murder room sex chamber.  You skipped right over the sociopath part, huh.  Because he's handsome, and wealthy.

But what if he wasn't handsome?  Or wealthy?  Ick, right? 

That's a whole different movie, ladies.

So those "uninvited" come-ons might be more "invited" if the guy looked like Channing Tatum, yes?  And I know, not all of you think that way, but ladies, I know at least some of you have been doing it, maybe without even realizing it.

It's f*cked up, is all I'm saying.


So... I could probably write another 200 words on this one, but I think this video clip sums it up pretty damned well. 

... point is, ladies, there's nothing wrong with flaunting it if you've got it, but for goodness' sake, expect that some men are going to openly admire it.  

Are there some jerky guys out there?  You betcha.  Do they make up the entirety of the male species? Likely not.  So before you get uber-pissed at that guy that just shouted some lame line at you and then dodged behind a mailbox, stop to consider that maybe he saw a pretty girl and, in his nervousness, what was meant as a smooth Nicholas Sparks line popped out sounding more like a pervert with Tourette's.  

"Smile," is sometimes more of an attempt at an icebreaker than a skeezy come-on.  Or maybe, just maybe, a stranger saw your resting bitch face and thought you were having a bad day, and was trying to cheer you up.  "Wow, you're really beautiful," is a f*cking compliment.  It's what comes after that should determine whether you respond kindly or kick him in the balls.

Look, I get that it's exhausting some days when you're being bombarded by predatory stares and awful come-ons that run the gamut from slightly awkward to file a f*cking restraining order.  But, can we maybe try to be fair and acknowledge that not every dude who crosses our path is two seconds from dragging us in an alley and doing unmentionable things to us?  


And sometimes, it takes guts to approach a beautiful woman, so sometimes dumb shit falls out.  It's okay to turn men down politely when they're not being outright douchey, and you might just make some poor schmuck's whole day by being kind to him even after he had a total derp moment.

Here's the thing - actual compliments don't have to be invited.  That's why they're compliments.  But men, a compliment is generally defined as something nice that you tell someone that makes them feel good.  

Here's a good rule of thumb:  if you would punch someone in the throat for saying what you're thinking about saying to your mother, your sister, or your daughter, then maybe just keep it to yourself.

Hey, you!  Are you full of Beryllium, Gold, and Titanium?  Because you're Be-Au-Ti-Full!  Why don't you join me on my Facebook page and...  eh, I suck at this.  I post stuff on there sometimes.  

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