The attached article from EliteDaily's Lauren Martin has been frequently popping up on my Facebook feed for the past couple months. The first few times I saw it I scrolled past it, simply noticing that the large majority of people who were posting it were men. Finally, one day in February I clicked on the article and briefly glanced over it – I can't quite recollect what I was doing the night before, but I was extremely tired at the time. It wasn't until one of my friends pointed out some vital flaws in the article that I gave it an actual thorough read.
I was about one paragraph into the piece when I suddenly said aloud to myself in my room…
Now, this is not a very nice thing to say to an article or to my laptop (which is relatively new and is making my life quite a bit easier). I normally reserve this sentence for somebody who has wronged me or for the N/Q/R when it stands still for literally 10 minutes at 34th Street for no apparent reason – sorry.
As it begins, it seems like a perfectly harmless statement against misogyny, the objectification of women, and the overwhelming power of the male gaze in the portrayal of women in the media.
"When was the last time you heard a man describe a woman by something that compliments her soul and her inherent elegance? When was the last time you heard a man describe a woman as beautiful?" asks Ms. Martin.
Well, if you're asking when have you literally heard the word "beautiful" to describe a woman let's start with every dude's anniversary Facebook post – but I see your point. What Ms. Martin appears to be saying here is that men have lost the ability to see a woman through any lens except one of a sexual nature, that objectification of women has become commonplace.
As a straight male myself, I want to wholeheartedly disagree. But I simply cannot, as that would be a lie. The presentation of women in a sexual nature has long been implanted in the American culture, from the Fleischer Brothers' Betty Boop cartoons to every single advertisement for Vodka ever made.
Worse than that, what young girls learn from all this is that they are obligated to dress and behave in such a way that will attract men – and for that reason alone.
So, Ms. Martin, we're on the same page here.
"Men look at women as pieces of tail, 'things' to be conquered, rather than appreciating women for their individuality," she continues.
I agree, Ms. Martin. I would say that not all men do this, but given the aforementioned sexualization of women in the media, I think your generalization here is pretty justified.
"[Men are] programmed to believe that any woman with a sculpted body and perky breasts is attractive."
Yes, this is true. Not that it isn't attractive, but I agree that it's wrong that young boys are programmed to believe this as the sole truth.
"What about the women who don't want to indulge in the male fantasy?… Isn't there attractiveness in that? Isn't there an appeal to that sense of confidence?"
Of course there is, right there with you.
"It's time mean realize that women have more to offer than just a body."
What follows is a list of comparisons, attempting to show the difference between what is "hot" and what is "beautiful." Some examples from this list include the following: "Hot is an appearance; beautiful is more than skin deep. Hot is conventional beauty is unique. Hot is devious; beautiful is innocent. Hot is her curves; beautiful is her eyes."
Remember when I mentioned I said "Fuck you" to this article? This is about where that happened.
Now before we proceed, we are all agreed that girls are fed a certain standard of beauty from a very young age – which is absolutely horrid, told they are expected to be what Ms. Martin might deem "hot" (which is not entirely true because some perverts have even found a way to sexualize what Ms. Martin calls "beautiful").
Now here's where we run into a problem.
Ms. Martin's language does the exact same thing she completely rails against in the opening section. To pretentiously quote Shakespeare, "The latter end of [her] commonwealth forgets the beginning."
For somebody who makes herself out to be such an advocate for individualism, Ms. Martin sure likes telling men what's attractive and what isn't – and in turn telling women how to dress or behave in order to attract men. Her language quite literally states every line: "This is what you think is attractive, here is what is actually attractive. Guys, listen up, because this is what you should want. Girls, listen up, because this is what men should want. Be what they want."
I think you've completely missed the point, Ms. Martin.
Being an individual means doing what makes you happy. Being an individual means dressing the way you want to dress, be it conventional or otherwise.
Telling women how to act or dress to impress men and telling men what to be attracted to is not only not helping your cause, but actively fights against your cause.
Don't shame a woman who wears makeup, because this is the way she chooses to present herself. If you want to enact change in the way women are perceived, you're barking up the wrong tree.
Convention can be unique. Where the hell does convention start but from a unique idea that spreads to a wider audience?
Here's how I might rephrase this section to make a different point:
Some women dress in tight skirts and wear quite a bit of makeup. Some do not. Some women care very much about their physical appearance. Some do not. Some women are devious. Some are innocent.
Hotness can be beautiful. Beauty can be hot. There also exists a middle ground. And millions of intermediary grounds between the middle ground and both of the extremes.
Here's what I'd advise to people who have read this article and was as insulted as I was:
Do whatever thing makes you happy. It doesn't matter if anybody else thinks it's attractive. I guarantee you whatever you do, somebody will love you for it. Unless it's murder, cocaine, or fascism – if this is the sort of thing that makes you happy I suggest you seek the aid of a good, well-intentioned doctor.
So if I may again rewrite your article, Ms. Martin…
Just do what you want.
Anyway, who gives a fuck? It's your damn life, and anybody who shames you for it can – as I'm sure many sophisticates say – shut the fuck up.