I’m not going to hold anything back in this post. The neo-liberal morality that serves as the backdrop for our political and cultural landscape has repressed real opinions for too long, and it’s time for both men and women to “sack up” and say what they really think without being afraid that they’ll be ostracized or criticized for having a real opinion. Real opinions aren’t “cool” anymore. A “real” opinion these days is saying something that verges on being too real, but never quite gets there, so that it remains tolerable and acceptable to our eggshell morality, and ultimately just reinforces the status quo without actually contributing anything substantially counter-hegemonic (anti-status quo). Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll say one more thing before I get to what really matters: ladies, I love you and respect you. I really do. Let me try to shed some light on why most men don’t.
I’m no historian, but let’s assume that feminism really took hold as a mainstream cultural movement after WWII. Women were allowed to join the productive workforce on the basis that national security/productivity in the time of war necessitated it, since 1.46 million men were overseas fighting the war. This was beautiful because it gave women a stable and legitimate ground from which to lobby their labor equality to men (which, in an industrial/capitalistic society, is equality – suffrage sort of goes hand in hand with this). My point: the cultural acceptance, at least on a superficial level, that women are equal to men, is a young idea.
Here’s an older idea: heels. The earliest evidence of heels dates back to the 9th century in Persia. And it had nothing to do with making a woman’s ass look nicer or her legs look longer – it’s thought they were used to prevent horse riders from falling out of the stirrup. Men wore heels for a while, too. Cowboy boots anyone? Why is it that an idea so old, which initially had a functional basis, is now a symbol of the sexual exploitation of women?
As a woman, you’ve probably had something close to this thought before and sighed (or maybe you like wearing heals beyond the fact that it makes you look sexier). As a man, you’ve probably only thought about this along the lines of a brief snicker before the resumption of thinking about how badly you’d like to fuck that woman wearing those heels. Sure, heels are a “fashion statement” – but is a particular type of heel inherently slutty or conservative, or do we still hold on to vestiges of fashion morality that our grandmother’s mother’s husband’s father came up with? I personally think it’s the latter. And yet, in the same way that after 9/11 I told myself not to stigmatize a taxi driver because he’s wearing a turban, I can intellectualize the heel situation all I want, but at the end of the day, when I see a girl in a short skirt and abnormally high heels, I immediately think, “slut.” She’s probably a nice girl. She might even have a degree in ethnomusicology from Yale. Does this change the fact that she dresses as if she’s asking to get raped? Nope!
You see, most men don’t respect women because women are sexual objects. So are men. The only difference is that we don’t have to dress a certain way to prove it. Society keeps a turnin’ because men and women bang and have babies. The only truth of life is sex and death.
So what is feminism really? The argument that female sexuality is equal to male sexuality? Or the argument that women are just as fit to hold positions of power and responsibility as men are, if not more fit? In my opinion, it’s neither. Feminism is a fight against nature. I don’t mean this chauvinistically. I mean this scientifically. What really makes us human is that we have the ability to refract our own nature. Who’s to say that ideology and technology serve any real fundamental difference in their function? Both are equally as important to propping up a society, and both are conventions of the mind – that is, impositions of structure onto ambiguity.
So why do men not care about feminism? Why are men even, at times, annoyed by it? It’s simple – most men view feminism as flippant hypocrisy. (This is not to demean what women like Mary Wollstonecraft or Eleanor Roosevelt have done for women, not to name numerous others). I’m writing this post as a pseudo-response to a post I saw on this site concerning how women self-reinforce patriarchy by demeaning each others’ self-worth. There’s definitely something to that, but, quite frankly, it’s a lot simpler:
If you stand in front of a mirror prettying yourself up for upwards of thirty minutes so that you can attract a man or increase your self-confidence, I don’t respect you, and neither does any man. Say your words of self-empowerment all you want, but so long as your aesthetic personality is perceived as being for or towards a man, men won’t respect, and I won’t respect you on the same level that I would if you showed up wearing pajamas and no make-up.
Example: my ex-girlfriend, whom I love dearly to this day and respect more than any woman other than my mother and grandmother, loved to wear make-up when we first started dating. In fact, I thought she wore too much make up. She was a naturally beautiful girl and didn’t need any. I preferred her when she wasn’t wearing make-up. I expressed this to her. She stopped wearing so much make up. Sure, a little eye shadow and blush from time to time never hurts, but I view make-up (in contemporary society) as a result of a lack of confidence and a sense of some sort of perverted responsibility, fostered by Hollywood and the media, to look as beautiful as you can. Anyway, my girlfriend became chiller and more self-confident the less and less she wore make. I shit you not, dear reader (and she was already confident and chill to begin with). I could see she was visibly happier because I loved her for exactly what she was – no painted veils, and red lipstick, no fake eyebrows or push-up bras. Our relationship was beautiful because we let down all barriers to protect ourselves, especially on the appearance front, but that’s neither here nor there.
Now, for those of you who haven’t been repulsed by my words thus far and made it to this point in the post, let me say this: although I prefer natural beauty, I like eye shadow on a woman. I like heels. I like short skirts and push-up bras and red lipstick and thongs and laced lingerie and polite eating manners and submission to my authority and that maybe I’m more successful than you and smarter than you – but who fucking cares??? Why pander to my shallowness and preferences and insecurities just because it’s not in my cultural DNA to respect you as you are? Seriously!
Ladies, if you want feminism to be taken seriously, but more importantly, if you want yourself to be taken seriously, FUCK conventions; FUCK what I think you should look like; FUCK that your grandmother would roll over in her grave for what you’re thinking or doing; FUCK everyone and everything except what you think and believe. And you know what, maybe you like wearing high heels and looking prettier than is realistic, and if that’s your thing, kudos to you. But don’t sit around and wonder why men continue to treat you like shit and not take you seriously.
I know a lot of girls who hate feminism. I happen to think feminism has had its day – the point has been made: women want respect and equality. Okay. I want a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar, but I won’t get either unless I work for it and deserve it (well, maybe not the latter). Empower yourself my female lovelies. Don’t be afraid to be change. Maybe if you don’t dress or act a certain way you won’t fuck that hot guy you really want, but who will ultimately demean your sense of self-worth. Maybe that’s worth it to you, though. In the end, I’m a man, and I think about two things – sex and myself. And if I love you, I think about you too.
All my life I’ve witnessed assholes get tons of girls – I was one of those assholes (maybe I still am based on what I’ve written). I changed. I stopped getting as many girls. It was miserable. It still is miserable. It’s hard to find a woman that appreciates the absurdity of the paradox, “treat me like shit, but not too much shit, and then love me when I need you to.”
Let’s call a spade a spade here: nature’s nature. No matter what you do, there are certain things you can’t help but think and feel. So if you like dressing sexy but also expect men to respect you for more than your legs, boob, and lips, say so, but then don’t accentuate those features. And if you do accentuate them, don’t be surprised when a man acts like a man, and you fall into the same demeaning pathology you’ve experienced all your life.
Like I said at the beginning of the post, I love and respect women. You are all beautiful and eccentric creatures – for all it’s worth to me, women are God. But please, love and respect yourselves. You’ll slowly find that the right men will come drifting towards you. Maybe you’re a cynic and you think that’s deluded and I’m deluded, and that I fail to see the arrogance and condescension in my own argument; but like I said, fuck holding back.
Let’s start saying things the way we really see them. Let’s have a real democracy where conflicting opinions are robust and plain to see. Let’s be the people we want to be, not the people we’re told to be. But it starts with you. If you start doing it, maybe another person will gain the confidence to do it, and maybe, just maybe, there will be enough insecure people out there to start following suit, and suddenly, individualism will run wild and chaos will burn superficiality to the ground, until all that’s left is what’s really there. Maybe then we can start over and achieve the next utopia, until it too crumbles.
I raise my glass to you, girls. Thanks for your time.