Sometimes I read articles that are aimed at a power structure that I directly benefit from, and I have an involuntary, visceral negative reaction. These are times when I need to tell myself to take a seat because this is not about my feelings. There are also times when something really sticks in my craw, but I'm not sure if I'm personalizing things that I shouldn't or if I really have a point. This is one of those times where I need to crowdsource my thoughts and see if it's something I need to just get over. As much as I try to acknowledge, examine and work against my own privilege, I'm not always successful. So feel free to tell me so if that's the case.
Today's Possible Silly Hurt Manfeelings Moment: Dodai's article on the near-impossible standards Hollywood is setting for leading men; or, Hollywood Finally Treating Men the Way They Treat Ladies. This isn't a post about how unfair it is for these guys - women in Hollwood have been dealing with this for as long as there has been a Hollywood. But I can't shake this nagging feeling that this article trades in a whole lot of dangerous language. I'm really finding myself upset by this article, whether that's right or not.
Mostly, it seems like Dodai hasn't taken even a second to examine the way her own preferences have been shaped by social conditioning. When Dodai says:
A shapely form is actual eye candy: A sweet, delicious, fleeting morsel to devour with your pupils. There's a reason the ancient Greeks sculpted sinewy arms, well-formed shoulders and flat abs, there's a reason Michaelangelo's David — whose lean torso insures he would definitely be cast today as a Calvin Klein underwear model — is one of the most famous works of art in the world, and there's a reason I started watching Arrow, and it's because humans are visual creatures who delight in pretty things.
she's trotting out the same bullshit "science" argument that men fall back on whenever anyone suggests that they're socially conditioned to want waify women to the exclusion of fat women. And tacking on
is, in kind even if not in degree, similar to "Hey, I like my girls a little thicker, but it's evolution that makes us think thin people are more attractive." And yes, Dodai, I know that the objectification of men is not equivalent to the objectification of women. This is not me saying "What about the MEN?!?!" This is about perpetuating beauty standards that hurt both men and (especially) women in the name of some sort of perversion of feminism.
She follows this by mentioning a scene in a documentary where a child laments not having a six-pack. But why let something like children hurting themselves for the sake of an inguinal crease get in the way of the fun?
Yes, women have for centuries been dealt a shitty hand, both in regards to sexualization and sexual suppression. Salivate if you want (sexy people of all types are fantastic), but when you pretend that a look that is dangerously difficult to attain is something that is inherently attractive, and contribute to the normalization of the idea that beauty standards are a reflection of our evolution, you're not just striking a blow for the ladies. You're giving ammunition to the same beauty standards that are killing our mothers, sisters and daughters. As feminists, I believe that we should be railing against there being standards for beauty in the first place.
I'm not telling anyone that they shouldn't enjoy looking at Zac Efron or Ryan Gosling. But I think it's incorrect to pretend that even more objectification is a righteous feminist stand. It's amazingly shitty that girls are constantly bombarded with images that make them feel inadequate, and our media-fueled desire for the unattainable and unreal has harmed countless girls and women. The solution to this is to break down the system that normalizes this, not to expand its reach.
But I could be wrong. It happens a lot.