Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My take on Worthless Women

Single Dad Laughing has a thought-provoking post called Worthless women and the men who make them. His premise is that men should take some responsibility for creating self-loathing in women when they ogle perfect specimens of beauty.

It's an interesting read. But I think the article itself suffers from chauvinism. Women are positioned as helpless victims of men's actions. Our self-definition rests entirely on the regard of men. It doesn't ring true.

I don't really think the problem is that men like to look at hot women. That's normal, and in the right context is OK. I think the problem is our entire societal attitude towards women. Instead of valuing beauty as one of many desirable traits, we tend to value women primarily (or even only) for sexual attractiveness.

How many times have you seen people write or talk about being disgusted by someone's appearance - not because they were filthy or covered with running sores, but because they were fat, or wrinkly, or had a big nose or crooked teeth? And how many times are such comments directed at women, versus men?

There is an underlying notion that we women owe it to others to be attractive. Thus you get women apologizing for their flaws, often by pre-emptively insulting themselves. "My hair is a mess today." "I'm way too fat, I'm disgusting." "I don't wave anymore because of this jiggly triceps, ha ha!"

We also get people saying, "I don't want to see that!" or complaining that fat people (especially women) make them physically ill. We get jokes about "butterface girls" - everything is beautiful but her face. (Also, have you noticed that fat women in movies are often depicted not only as comical and repulsive, but as hypersexual and in constant pursuit of unwilling men? What's up with that?)

When did "not sexually attractive" become a synonym for "offensive?" What's it to you if someone (who probably has no interest in dating you, by the way) has acne or cellulite or crow's feet? Why do we take it as a given that all people, but especially women, should be judged on their attractiveness?

Is it possible we could start valuing people for other qualities, while still enjoying the sight of a beautiful person? I think this might be yet another area where women deserve to share in what men already have. Men are surely judged by looks and sexual attractiveness to some degree, but I'd say usually we judge men by what they do, what they think, and what they produce, and way down the list is attractiveness. Women seem primarily judged by sexual attractiveness, then perhaps how well they take care of other people, and quite a bit down the list is what they do, what they think, and what they produce. And neither sex seems particularly valued for kindness and compassion.

I don't think we need to make average women feel more "worthy," meaning "pretty." We need to upend our definition of "worth."

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