I'll come up with something in a minute.

Stuff

So now that I’ve joked about it, lets actually talk about the whole “lovely and talented” thing seriously for a moment, shall we?

Firstly, there is a reason women are always evaluated by their looks. That reason is genetics. Men pick mates mostly for physical traits, this is a fact. Women tend to go for behavioral traits more, if the psychologists are to be believed. And why should the psychologists lie? I mean, I’d have to go ask a psychologist, and maybe that one would be lying too. Shit, my whole world view is coming to pieces over this. Besides, they’ve also said recently that women go for big burly square jawed wide shouldered men during one part of their monthly cycle and more sensitive effeminate types during the other side of their cycle, so maybe they DO lie!

Anyway, men have always picked based on looks. This is a big deal to men and probably always will be. It’s in our DNA to look for hot women with fit bodies. That is what we are programmed for. As a result, women will ALWAYS be judged, at least partially, on their looks. I’ve gotten every guy I’ve ever discussed the matter with, from big dumb lugs to wimpy girly poet types to admit that the way a woman looks is important and that they judge a woman in some amount by her beauty. Women are also treated, pretty much, the same all over the world. There are varying degrees, but women are always judged by their looks and their value is regularly tied to that. What I’m saying is, we might learn to treat people with different color skin the same as our same skinned brothers, we may wipe out religious intolerance, we might even let the gay folk come join in our reindeer games, but we’re always going to be checking out your tits. We might learn to feel bad about it, but we’re still gonna do it.

Science has also told us that beauty and ugly aren’t nearly as subjective as we’d like to believe. When given 20 cards with pictures of women going from the super hot to something clipped from a late Victorian medical text book people from all walks of life and from all over the world will put the 20 cards in roughly the same order. So beauty is beauty and ugly is ugly. That’s not important, but it is interesting!

Okay, so that’s the science and genetics argument, what about the societal argument though? Surely I can’t claim that it’s all just genetics and man stuff and we shouldn’t try to change at all… can I? Well I guess I could claim that, but I’m not going to. I’m going to try and suggest at least one solution to the problem. The first step in solving a problem is admitting that there is a problem, and possibly explaining why it is a problem. Yes, actually it is something of a problem.

So why is it a problem? Well, it is a little condescending but more than that it diminishes a woman’s accomplishments. Think about what the phrase “the lovely and talented” is really saying. Lovely, you may notice, almost always comes first. So right there we’ve given talent second billing in this sentence, which means the woman’s talent and hard work are valueless next to their purely ornamental and sexual qualities. Taking the given example, a writer, her looks shouldn’t even come into it. Her looks don’t matter a tinker’s damn because depending on what kind of edition of the book you have, you might not even ever see her face.

However, men still always judge women by their looks. Women know that men are doing this, and men know that women know and Kylie totally told Jimmy so he knows that she knows that he knows that they know that they all went there together. Crazy Drama, huh? So saying something like “lovely and talented” is actually intended as a double compliment. It may not always work that way, because of the whole condescending and diminutization of her brain and actual work thing, but that’s how it’s intended. There is actually a real and genuine fear in some men’s minds that if we don’t compliment a woman on her looks it will be interpreted that we’re actually insulting her.

Let us remember that a lot of men have been at the receiving end of hurt feelings for not noticing that a woman got her hair done. It might be considered sad by some to say, but several women think it’s an insult not to have their looks mentioned. A lot of women like to be told how attractive they are, and they like it a whole bunch. How many breast enhancement surgeries were done last year? You think they get those implants in the hopes men won’t be staring? Men have gotten good results complimenting women’s looks in the past and we’re pretty sure we’ll get good results again. Telling them they look beautiful is almost always an easy way to get a smile.

Men are, for the most part, uncomplicated souls who like one set of rules for a situation. Many guys stick to an all or nothing approach to a lot of things, not just intergender relations. So we remember that we’re supposed to let women know that they’ve got a passing grade and so we do it all the time. When we get complaints about it, it actually puts us in a tough position because it seems like a mixed message from over here.

This is one of those situations like when women are cranky and men ask if they have PMS or something. We didn’t come up with idea that women are bitchy during the red tide all on our own you know. During our teen years when a guy was acting bitchy we’d say “What’s up your ass?” and we get “I’m having a bad fucking day!” as answer. We learned to expect that answer if we asked the question. Now, during our teen years when a girl was acting bitchy and we’d say “What’s up your ass?” more than one girl would say “I’m having my period! Okay? Is that alright with you? Can I bleed from the crotch with your blessing?” and we’d learn that Aunt Flo’s visits were heralded by crying and bitchiness. Not all girls would do it, but enough would that we’d learn PMS=Bitchiness and as the male mind so often works Bitchiness(must therefore)=PMS. I’m afraid you’re going to find that some women still do this in fact, and I suggest you hunt those women down and smack them with a bagel because they’re making it easier for us men to make the assumption. That’s not to excuse when men do stupid shit on their own, but you can’t go around putting all the blame on us all the damn time.

Well, that’s enough of that tangent, let’s get back to the discussion about looks!

Despite my occasional teasing on the subject, I’m actually aware that openly judging a woman based on her looks isn’t considered the best of manners. In fact, I find that whole aspect of human discourse to be a little bit sad. The fishing for compliments, the throwing of the compliment bone, it leaves me feeling like I’ve just watched the saddest dance in the world. It’s probably important to point out that I hate playing around like that anyway and if asked a loaded question like “Do you think this outfit makes me look fat?” or “Do you think she’s pretty?” neither of which has a right answer I just say “Yes” because fuck it, if you wanna spoil for a fight, I’m not going to squirm around trying not to have one. Only ask me a question you really want the answer to because I’ll always fall back on the fact that my mother raised me to be honest and to tell it like it is.

Of course, I’m aware that 98% of my judgments are probably best kept in the back of my head with the old back issues of Mad Magazine and the information about where all those bodies are buried. In case you’re wondering I do tend to judge everything any of you say, do, post, and think. Yes, I do monitor your very thoughts. Please keep the tin foil hats on as they actually help focus and amplify the rays. My judgments however, are mostly meant for the private consideration of myself and Fancy during the long winter nights. As my judgments change every time I’m given more information and clarification, I tend to keep the airing of my judgments a private matter between me and Fancy.

I rarely, if ever, inform a woman that I don’t know exceptionally well that I think she’s pleasing to the eye. When people post pictures, for the most part I take a look and then pass by. Mostly, I say something along the lines of “Oh, she’s cute” or some such thing and then move on. I don’t post a comment telling her how lovely she is, or that her hair is quite nice or whatever. I could go into the specific reasons why I don’t, but they should either be obvious or reserved. The only time I’ll comment is when it’s something along the lines of “This is my new hair-do, what do you think?” and if I know the person fairly well I might make a comment, but even then I’m normally reserved about it. That’s my personal bent though, and your mileage may vary.

So, now that I’ve outlaid the problem, what is my suggestion? Is it too simple to suggest we diminish men too? Why can’t men ever be told they’re a cute hunk of beef? Why do we just take things away from men without giving them anything? You take away our unquestioned dominance over the world, what do we get in return? I say we should get told what cute buns we have! No, really, I’m being completely serious here.

Okay, Fancy says that might be a bit too radical and it doesn’t help the actual problem which is that women feel their looks are being valued more highly than their skills. That’s going to be tough because we have to address a very delicate subject. That delicate subject is the incredible difficulty in trying to separate the fact that men always want to impress women so that maybe, if that man was the last one on earth, the women might want to have sex with him. The simple fact is that men never really want to offend any woman because all women are prospects to a healthy man. Sure, there are some that he won’t just like, and they can go to one side, but after that he wants a wide a field as possible should that day come when there are no other penises around. The logic of vibrators wouldn’t even occur to him, so don’t bother bringing it up. That’s not to say he’s actively trying, but it is in his mind in the same general area as the desire to red meat and watch sports and/or action movies.

A solution that I could suggest is one that I’m not sure is very good. It would be to ask people who decide to trot out the old “Lovely and Talented” line to ask themselves if they would honestly say that about another guy. If no, then leave it off. Try not to fall into physical flattery because you’re talking to a woman. And as a final suggestion if you’re on stage at the Hugo Awards, don’t grope a woman’s breast because it will just make you look like an asshole that should have been beaten to death with sticks decades ago.

I’m not going to suggest that we try to treat everyone as individuals rather than representatives of a pigeonholed group. I might be a bit whimsical and a lot sarcastic, but I’m not completely loopy!

Advertisements

August 14, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: