A person named Steve emails me once in a while to take situation with one thing I’ve written. He checked in a couple of weeks in the past after I wrote about , which was impressed by sexual harassment and assault allegations towards Harvey Weinstein.
“The core question you should be asking, Heidi,” he wrote, “is: Why do women try to make themselves more attractive?”
I don’t assume that’s the core query we should always be asking, truly. But I do know loads of individuals are asking it — have been asking it for many years, the truth is. Are asking it advert nauseam these previous couple of weeks, as harassment and assault allegations mount towards highly effective males in leisure, politics, journalism.
If these women are so opposed to being hit on, why are they going to all that hassle to look so engaging? Men are simply supposed to fake they don’t discover?
I emailed Steve one thing benign about how women make themselves attractive for a similar causes males do: to really feel assured, to earn social capital in a tradition that prizes bodily magnificence, to activate their companions, to land dates with individuals they discover mutually attractive — bodily or in any other case.
It’s not a contradiction to want all these issues and never want a superior to masturbate in entrance of you. That appears fairly easy.
But I’m wondering if it’s just a little too easy.
I don’t assume we will have an trustworthy dialog about sexual harassment and sexual assault proper now with out speaking about all the methods we’ve got taken women’s our bodies and turned them into vessels.
We use them to carry our political arguments about reproductive rights, paid household depart and reasonably priced health care. (Who can overlook U.S. Rep. John Shimkus arguing when their our bodies don’t go round making infants? Nevermind everybody’s vested curiosity within the health of these infants.)
We use them on billboards. We use them to promote fitness center memberships, cosmetic surgery, automobiles, magazines, liquor, bikini waxes, multivitamins, underwear, shampoo, fragrance, bottled water and all-inclusive resorts.
We use them in porn and at strip golf equipment to get the blood flowing to all the appropriate locations, no emotion required.
We detach women’s our bodies from women’s humanity so ceaselessly and so seamlessly that we’ve to work backward to realign them. Wait, she’s a human first, keep in mind?
We don’t keep in mind. We, as a tradition, assume women’s our bodies are ours for the taking.
“Why do women try to make themselves more attractive?”
I’m wondering why we perceive possession so a lot better once we’re speaking about an individual’s prized possessions than once we’re speaking a few lady’s physique.
I’ve by no means as soon as heard a person clarify away a housebreaking by questioning why a home-owner bothered taking such excellent care of his home if not to entice others to break in.
Lawn mowed simply so. Solid oak entrance door. Three-car storage. Why do you make your home so attractive if you don’t want somebody to break in and begin taking stuff?
I’ve by no means as soon as heard a person clarify away a carjacking by questioning why a driver bothered driving such a pleasant automotive.
Why are you driving a Lexus if you don’t want somebody to take it from you? You even maintain it all shiny and new-looking. You don’t assume that sends some sort of message?
Apples and oranges, you may be considering. No one ever needs their home damaged into. No one ever needs their automotive stolen. Sex is totally different.
But it’s actually not. When I belief you, I’ll invite you into my home. I’d even give you one thing to take residence. When I’m prepared, I’ll let you drive my Lexus. (I drive a 2008 Honda, truly.) They’re mine (once more, hypothetically talking — my home isn’t that fancy both), however I’m glad to share them with the appropriate individual.
National Public Radio’s information chief, Michael Oreskes, following accusations that as an editor on the New York Times, he out of the blue kissed two women whereas they have been discussing job prospects with him.
Imagine he had leaned over and ripped their iPhones out of their palms and pocketed them. He’d be a thief — no grey space.
We’re not fairly there with harassment and assault. We’re nonetheless caught within the grey space. We’re not fairly prepared to contemplate a lady’s physique her possession and her possession alone.
Powerful, predatory males are dropping like flies. That’s a begin. For far too lengthy, the conduct that introduced down Weinstein and Oreskes (and Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly) was par for a significantly tousled course. Forcing your self on a co-worker wasn’t a career-derailer.
That’s altering, fortunately. What might be more durable to change is the sense that women are by some means to blame for their very own violation.
I truly assume we’ll get there. As irritated as I used to be at Steve’s query, I used to be grateful to him for asking it.
I’m not a silver-lining sort of gal, particularly when it comes to tons of upon a whole lot of women struggling by way of harassment and assault.
But one thing constructive can come from this seemingly infinite storm of accusations. We can, with some good religion effort, work out how to give women unconditional, unassailable company over their our bodies and, subsequently, their humanity. We can look at the biases which have stored that from occurring so far, and we will ask, truthfully, why we’re so reluctant to dislodge them.
And that, I feel, is the core query we should always be asking.