Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I'm So Pretty, I'm So Witty...

*Dances around the Snakepit Inc., then settles down, in a girly and innocent way, while slowly lowering and raising those eyelashes and making pretty moues with the fanged mouf.*

You know, a real problem with blogging on all this stuff is that one survives only by creating a thick carapace of sarcastic humor. After a while every new insult just becomes yet another joke in the repertoire. So.

Atrios linked to a wonderful such present, an article about The Death Of Pretty. An excerpt:
Pretty, pretty is dying.

People will define pretty differently. For the purposes of this piece, I define pretty as a mutually enriching balanced combination of beauty and projected innocence.

Once upon a time, women wanted to project an innocence. I am not idealizing another age and I have no illusions about the virtues of our grandparents, concupiscence being what it is. But some things were different in the back then. First and foremost, many beautiful women, whatever the state of their souls, still wished to project a public innocence and virtue. And that combination of beauty and innocence is what I define as pretty.

By nature, generally when men see this combination in women it brings out their better qualities, their best in fact. That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.


As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend. Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity. Its value is temporary and must be used. It is a consumable.
Women are all sluts now. Men really want sluts but prefer them unopened. Only then will men protect and defend women. Opened sluts they will use up and won't defend.

What caused this horrendous change?
Most girls don’t want to be pretty anymore even if they understand what it is. It is ironic that 40 years of women’s liberation has succeeded only in turning women into a commodity. Something to be used up and thrown out.

Of course men play a role in this as well, but women should know better and they once did. Once upon a time you would hear girls talk about kind of women men date and the kind they marry. You don’t hear things like that anymore.
I love that quote. It's so innocent and pretty!

Women's open sluttiness is the fault of feminism. Feminists demanded that women be allowed to be treated as sluts! So what do you expect from men? Men, after all, cannot affect their own drives at all. Hence women are responsible for controlling those urges, and the way to do it is modesty in dress and in behavior. Burqas might help, too.

The comments to that post have more on the presumed innate differences of men and women. Somehow only the supposed innate characteristics of men cannot be changed. But the supposed innate characteristics of women MUST be brought back. That all this has a logical flaw (if those characteristics in women are so innate, how come are they not operating?) is a bit worrisome to me.

I'm going to interpret this article generously and assume that the author doesn't mean all that matters in women is beauty and innocence. Both of those are evanescent characteristics and neither will do you much good when you are sixty or seventy. Or in the labor force.

So let's pretend that this is only about women's role in the context of dating and marriage. Then it boils down to the old argument that men want an unopened package of goodies and are willing to protect that package. Against other men, presumably.

But it also boils down to that well-known argument that women, the supposedly frailer and weaker and more stupid sex, is the sex responsible for all control of sexuality. Never mind what one thinks of the basic assertion; it's simply not at all how sexuality works in reality. For instance, the majority of pron entrepreneurs are not women.

The comments are fun reading, more generally, though all points of view are presented. Still, I don't think feminists were working very hard for the objectification of women, and given my recent readings in the sixteenth century, that objectification seems to have been a bigger problem in the past. "Pretty" was just sold in a different marketplace than "slutty." But neither of those concepts were controlled by the commodity herself.

I could write something more meaningful about the premature sexualization of young girls, about the impact of popular culture on the way women are supposed to dress and act and about the impact of pron on that popular culture and how it all slowly seeps down to the private worlds of young girls who don't have the skills yet to read the wider culture.

Yes, there are real concerns in all that. But to pick feminism as the movement to blame for is like arguing that thermometers cause fever.