You don’t find my Dr Marten’s attractive? Really? How sad, never mind, I think I’ll survive your disapproval.

Just in case anyone missed the bulletin, women are under no obligation to dress or express themselves only in ways that are attractive to men. And if you think they are, the 1950’s called and would like their misogyny back.
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(Yes, I am being passive aggressive today; no, I don’t care.)

What, you may wonder, has provoked this growl from your humble, mild-mannered book reviewer?

This:

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This picture was posted by some radio station and then shared by a Facebook friend.

I was tempted to write something on said friend’s post but last time I made a faintly feminist comment people got upset. What I planned to write was:

‘Last I checked there’s no law that says women have to dress or express themselves only in ways men find attractive. If a woman wanted to get her nails done like that because she enjoys it, then the attractiveness of said self-expression to men is irrelevant. The pictures are pretty, but the length of the nails is too impractical for my taste.’

Equally, men aren’t under any obligation to dress in a way women find attractive. For example, a lot of women find a man in a well-tailored suit attractive, however social convention doesn’t insist that all men must wear suits because women find it attractive, or tell  men that unless they wear a suit no woman will ever be interested in them.

This is what we call a double standard: it is considered perfectly acceptable to tell female-presenting persons that no man will ever want them unless they do x,y and x (which in itself presumes quite a few things *), but doing the same to male-presenting persons is unlikely to happen.

I’m not saying there’s no pressure on men to look a certain way – for instance having a specific body type or ‘dressing professionally’ – because there is, but it is, or at least seems, less pervasive and seems to be focused more on how a man appears to other men, rather than their marriage prospects.

Self-esteem and self-expression, what a person is interested in, enjoys and feels comfortable with should determine our mode of dress, whether we wear makeup or not, etc., not how other people think we should be, because they find it attractive.

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* Things this attitude presumes:
That every woman is desperately searching for a man to make their lives complete and therefor worth something;
That there is only one way to be feminine, and men only find that expression of femaleness attractive;
That women must give a damn what strangers think about them;
That a woman only has worth if she conforms to these standards, her looks are the only important thing about her, rather than personality, interests or passions, and that everyone else has the right to comment on that.

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