I am not one to gossip much more than the average person, but I recently had an Internet squabble with a new friend that made me feel a bit like I was banging my head against a wall. I'm not here to throw anyone under the bus, but this convoluted discussion brought many things to my mind. One of them being that there are many things I adore about this person, but there is one thing I recently learned I do not, and this one thing is not his flaw alone. It is a humanitarian flaw.
After biting my tongue every time he has mentioned something about the hotness of women – after post after post of him diminishing women to tools of objectification where he decides what is “hot” - and even goes as far as to demean those who don’t achieve this level of “hotness," I felt utterly convicted to express myself and this is what I said:
"She may have a big ass but she's still "skinny." That woman does not represent the average female body. I'm so sick of this whole "look she's curvy so she can represent you" bullshit. The point is NONE OF THIS SHOULD FUCKING MATTER IN THE FIRST PLACE. People need to stop obsessing over what women look like. PERIOD. You are still singling women out for objectification and the world needs to STOP doing that. Skinny, fat, big ass with skinny body - WHATEVER. We're all women with brains and dreams and what our bodies look like SHOULD NOT MATTER."
Granted I might have been a little PMS-y and utilized the "F" word (which I know is a huge social faux pas) and I clearly struck a chord with him, but I had allowed his prejudice to go on too long without stepping up.
Men like him speak of women like this under the guise of being supportive of women with larger than average breasts and buttocks. His chant often means something along the lines of “This is what a real woman looks like.” These aren’t overweight women; these aren’t even women of average size or women struggling with being underweight. These are women who’s bodies might be found in a comic or popular pornography. It is ideas like this that girls have have killed themselves over.
It’s not that I have a problem with his taste – it’s that he believes everyone should share his tastes and those who don’t are somehow less enlightened. He (like many men) also BELIEVES women NEED to be told daily how beautiful they are and when I let him know how the world places too much importance on perceptions of beauty and that I don’t need to be told I’m beautiful everyday his immediate response was to call me, “bitter.”
Why is it whenever a woman speaks out about the injustices of sexism she’s labeled as bitter? When I explained to him that my passion comes not from a place of bitterness he didn’t seem to hear me at all. Then he pulled the “thought police” card as if my pointing out his prejudice and sexism was an attack on his freedom of thought.
I, and many other women, seem to encounter this sentiment a lot. That feminists are bitter control freaks. Would they say the same thing about Martin Luther King? I am NOT comparing myself to King, but we definitely share the same passion – or we would have if some bigot hadn’t shot him down.
What about Bill Cosby? Cosby has been on a crusade to stop black people from calling themselves niggers. He believes that by calling each other by that horrible dehumanizing word they are willingly setting themselves back into a time when their people had no freedom, no rights. They were merely slaves.
For thousands of years women have been enslaved by patriarchy and to this day we only receive privileges when we act according to that ancient and archaic patriarchal design including, but not limited to allowing the patriarchal design to dictate how we should live our lives in the first place.
At the core of any society lies an unsaid rule – that women should desire the approval of men. In order to win that approval we should make ourselves into what they feel is attractive, even if it means physical mutilation. If we refuse or do not accept these practices as a priority we are called bitter and if we make any attempts to help free our sisters (and brothers) from this brainwashed enslavement we are accused of policing thought, being controlling – all sorts of negative ideas designed to scare us into staying in our place, which is being demure, agreeable, entertaining and above all else – sexy. Beautiful. Hot.
I know this person’s intent was not to be a sexist jerk creating a hostile environment for those who don’t fit into his idea of what women should look like. I know he wasn’t even aware that he was being discriminatory against women he finds unattractive. This man never expected for anyone to call him a sexist. Because in his world, sexism isn’t even a thing.
And therein lies the problem.