Sexism and Gender

All posts in the Sexism and Gender category

Growing Old In The Era of Selfies

Published February 27, 2013 by pipsqueak

truth bomb from Lord Henry

Back when I was struggling through high school, (a dark time, I think, for all of us) I used to comfort myself with the fact that was young and that nothing real had happened to me yet, i.e. “I have no right to feel this world weary! I’m fifteen! Just slap on some blue lipstick and eat a bagel and everything will be fine.” And hey presto, I emerged from high school without a heroin addiction or an unwanted baby, so hey! I guess I was right-ish.

I’m in college. I’m surrounded by eighteen-and-nineteen year old freshmen, although the people I converse with in a meaningful way can be as old as, say, 22. Some professors notwithstanding, everyone here is pretty damn young. Despite the overwhelming youthiness here, I’ve already started to hear the anguished moan: “I’m getting so oooooooldddddddd!”

I guess there’s a point. It would be cruel to deny the fact that it really feels like we’ve been through a lot to get here. I don’t know if I feel young. I just feel like myself, the aggregate of ~18.833333 years of being a human being on planet earth. I’ve seen some bad things that certainly make me feel world-weary. However, as life goes on, I will probably many worse things.  Yaaaay!

There’s a weird cult of youth in America, which is never more apparent than in that odious statement: “High school is the best time of your life!” Millions and millions of unhappy high schoolers have heard this and thought, “Seriously?… well, shit.”

And it’s not just my nostalgic grade school principal who gave me this message. I’ve been getting a lot from television, books, people over the age of 40. They look at me with dewy eyes and say, “You’re still young, this is the best time of your life., go do the wonderful things young people do.”What exactly is the fascination with youth? I’ve been told that youthfulness is when you are still figuring everything out. Absolutely right. So why is this incredibly shaky and uncertain time of my life constantly glorified as the best time I will ever had? Is there nothing to be said for being experienced and knowing what you are doing with your life? Is it because we aren’t wrinkly yet?

A man is as old as he feels, and a woman as old as she looks

– proverb

Okay, seriously, fuck whoever said that!

I’m a teen girl, I’ve been made excruciatingly aware of how highly appearances are valued. Being pretty buys a lot of kindness from people. I know I have a certain privilege that involves people pretending to like talking to me because they are mesmerized by my boobs or something.

And, I guess, since older women aren’t seen as attractive, I will lose that. I will get wrinkles and lose my youthful sex appeal and many people will drop the pretense of enjoying my company. Several older women told me this more or less literally, and I’ve heard the stories. Older men who leave their wives because they are no longer young and beautiful. Older women complaining about how they would give anything to be skinny and young again.

The message I’ve been getting is that once my tits get saggy I will be undesirable, so I better Buy All The Anti-Aging Stuff! I resent the fact that 50 year old men can leer at me now and call me “darling,” but once I reach their age I will be deemed unlovely by the exacting standards of society. I resent the fact that my attractiveness carries so much cultural currency. I resent all of this. So what are we temporally-bound women supposed to do? I guess we have to learn to not put so much stock in acceptance from the generic Male Gaze. After all, I have a lot more to offer the world than T&A.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the side effects of getting older are undeniably unpleasant. Disease, more people you know dying, the advent of the next wave of shitty pop music. However, I will not resign myself to the idea that “The Zenith of my Life” = “The time when I most resemble Scarlett Johansson.” As I get older, I understand myself better, get better at the things I’m good at, and just learn to be better at Being A Human. Surely we can replace naïveté with experience, don’t make the same mistakes again, and learn to live in a more pleasurable and productive way.

I’m going to end this post with the wisdom of Ani DiFranco.

If you’re not getting happier as you get older, you’re fucking up.

Objectifying Men (or: equal opportunity HipstaLips)

Published January 22, 2013 by pipsqueak

There’s a very common image theme going on in what is affectionately known as “The Hipster Blogs.” It’s a girl’s lower face, usually with some sexy lip-biting or kissy-face going on. I like to call it HipstaLips.

(source)

(source)kate upton lips

(source)

Girls are pretty, girly lips are pretty, and sexy mouth things are sexy. It’s fun.

This type of image is certainly objectification. It’s presenting one part of the human body out of context, and, like most objectifying images, HipstaLips is mostly a female phenomenon.

(For those of you who just said: NO MEN ARE OBJECTIFIED ALL THE TIME, JUST LOOK AT ALL THE HOT MUSCLEBOUND HUNKS IN ADS/TV/MAGIC MIKE: That’s not the same. It’s usually more of a  power fantasy gratification then an attempt to be sexually appealing to women.)

Anyway, cue image of me, tumbling down the rabbithole of tumblr, when I come across this:

It’s our old friend HipstaLips! With a CIS DUDE MOUTH! I was surprised because I’d never seen anything like it before, and then I was surprised at my surprise.

Is it objectification? I would say yes. It’s focusing on one part of the body, not the entire human. Is  this sexist? No. This is a tiny phosphorescent plankton floating in a vast sea of Female HipstaLips.

And you know what? I think it’s refreshing to see this genre of sexy-lip-emphasis with a male subject. Although it’s not hard to find pictures of ginormous muscledudes, this sort of imagery is rare. And judging by the number of notes on the thing (33,000+ at time of posting) and the prevalent gender of tumblr users, it’s something many women would like to see more of.