I Hate Faux-minist Double Standards As Much As The Next Feminist. But There's One That Exists for a Reason.
Last weekend, I went to a rooftop birthday party -- during which I had an entire conversation with a dude while staring at his crotch.
"Does this bother you?" I finally asked, without bothering to look into his eyes.
"What? Being objectified? Not at all!" he replied. "Men spend their whole lives trying to be objectified by women."
Which is pretty much what I expected him to say.
I "objectified" a few other guys that week, and they all said the same thing. (Except for one, who claimed he didn't even notice -- but I was skeptical. I suspected he was just playing into his whole "Oh! I'm so clueless, I have no idea when girls are into me!" image thing. Which, like, if that's actually the case, learn some social skills. They're skills, not innate talents, and if you don't have them, it's only by choice. But I digress.)
When you ask women, on the other hand...
Totally different story.
Part of it is simply a frequency thing: almost every woman regularly catches guys staring at her cleavage instead of listening to her speak. Almost every woman has been catcalled, whether she was bundled up in a winter coat or jogging in a sports bra. And don't even get me started on unwanted touching at bars, school, and work.
Meanwhile, most of the guys I know have a story they like to tell about the time a woman slapped their ass or shouted something lewd from across the street. They enjoy telling these stories... because they have exactly one of them.
It happened once, and it kind of made them feel like The Man.
But the other majorly important thing here is that, not only does it rarely happen... but it's also not at all scary when it does.
Most men are larger, faster, and stronger than most women.
Never, at any point, does the guy who just got catcalled for the first (and last) time in his life worry that the 5'6, 120-pound woman doing the shouting could overpower him or pull him into her vehicle.
Some men seem to think of catcalling as a compliment... but most women don't see it that way. In fact, to help men figure out whether or not to catcall women, Playboy made a really useful infographic:
Women don't think it's flattering or funny. Even though men, when they imagine themselves in the inverse situation, might.
I hate the "fainting couch feminist"/"fauxminist"/"women as a child feminist" obsession with "the power dynamics." But objectification, catcalling, and unwanted touching are all examples of times when there is a very real, physical difference in power.
I mean... unless you don't believe in biology. But you're not emotional and irrational, right? You can admit that scientific facts are facts, right?
That said, I also hate the fauxminist obsession with telling women how dangerous and scary the world is. As I wrote in Mollie Tibbetts is Dead. But That Doesn't Mean Jogging Is "Unsafe" For Women:
When I think about the carefree bliss I experience both during travel and while pursuing everyday miracles, like chasing the moon or naked night hiking in a local preserve...
Jogging isn't dangerous (except maybe for your ankles or knees). Traveling alone isn't dangerous. The media sensationalizes the murders and rapes that do happen during such activities because they are so rare...
That, combined with the fact that #YesAllWomen exists (even though, yes, #NotAllMen are sexual predators), creates a heightened sense of threat and danger when men engage in certain behaviors.
So, like... is it really that hard not to touch people you don't know?
Is it really that hard not to tell women to smile on command? (Even if you have good intentions, it's really freaking rude, and you will hopefully be met with scorn and mockery.)
I know lots of guys like to read things like this, then instantly start whining that I'm instructing them to never hit on or talk to a woman again.
That's not what I'm doing. I'm actually helping you. Because think of it this way:
These behaviors are never going to land you a date.
Pretty girls already know they're pretty. Telling them so won't endear you to them.
A better approach would be to just, like... you know. Actually have something interesting to say. Read a book. Educate yourself. Get a hobby and a good job. Learn some social skills. And remember: if there's an attraction, you don't need a "pickup line."
And if you're some well-meaning guy who's trying to be a feminist ally but you keep putting your foot in your mouth, you should check out Guys, Let's Face It: Either Way, You Just Can't Win.
And don't forget to follow on me Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
9/6/2018 11:40:12 am
Agreed, there are assymetries in this area - on average, men and women differ on being sexually objectified. And the frequency of that happening is part of why.
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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