Monday, September 10, 2012

A Brief Commentary on the State of Society

There are some very serious problems happening today.

Women have, just like every other mistreated demographic, risen admirably to their own defense. Women fight for their rights and it's appropriate- women are still underpaid in the professional workforce and underrepresented in almost every arena. I'm foremost among the women fighting for equality in our sorry society. But that very society is shooting itself in the foot, and sometimes I think we women are the ones who pulled the gun.

Take something as simple as personal appearance. Women decided, somewhere in the past, that they needed to stop putting so much effort into their clothes and hair and makeup, because it doesn't define them. They're right. No one deserves to be judged by their appearance only, despite the fact that it's all we as humans do. Every girl makes a choice as to how much work they want to do to "look pretty." If I want to wear jeans and a t-shirt every single day, that's my choice, and no one criticizes me for it. If I'm unattractive, that's no one's problem but my own, and it doesn't affect my potential value to the world.

In the name of equality, men have taken up the mantle of appearance. I know many, many guys who spend far more time picking out their outfits and making sure they're making a statement with their appearance than I do. It's probably unintentional, it isn't a bad thing, and I'm not judging them. Frankly, no one else can claim to do so unless they're going to undo all the progress of the Women's Rights Movement and any progress we've ever made as a society. If women can spend time on our appearance, men can too. If men refuse to do so, women can as well. It can't be effeminate for men to care that much about the way they look, because by the same token women shouldn't have to. It's fair, and personally I'm on board with it. Whatever makes you happy.

But women are taking on the negative aspects of masculinity as well, and it's damaging to us, to men, and to society at large. In specific, I mean the objectification of men, in response to the objectification of women that's been happening for hundreds of years. Women see the way some men act about women, whether in life or on the screen, and we think, "Why can't I do that too?" We look at an attractive guy and we tell everyone what we think of him, because we can and guys do that and it's only fair. I do it too, because guys do it and I can too and it's fair. But really, it isn't fair to men and, more importantly, it isn't fair to us. I would be incensed it I met a guy who objectified women, even actors, as blatantly as I've objectified male actors I think are attractive. It would be unacceptable to me. Appreciation is one thing- we all find people we think are attractive, and that's how we're programmed. It's natural. But it isn't natural to treat the beauty of people the way we do the beauty of objects. People are not nature or or art or music, they're people.

It's not that I don't think women aren't justified in objectifying men the way we've been objectified for countless centuries. Heaven knows men deserve a taste of their own medicine. But when will it stop? This is going to get out of control very quickly and we will NOT like the results. We need to be the ones to change this, because fighting fire with fire will only burn everyone. (And you know, some men just want to watch the world burn...) Where will we draw the line? Will we have a class of people simply for looking at? Will it become the beautiful vs. the smart? Will we have people who are objects, and then people who are people? It isn't okay for anyone to treat other people as objects, regardless of gender, regardless of how fair it is, because no one wants to be an object.

It's time for us to let go of our rationalizations for immature behavior. Yes, we've been wronged. But who hasn't? Even the classical white American male has had his share of struggles on someone else's account. It's hard to let go of the things we want, to let go of our sinful human natures, but if we don't divert this endless downward spiral, who will? We have to put the past behind us in order to reach out to a future in which equality means all things actually being equal. It hurts to be the one to stop the cycle, I know it does. It hurts to be the ones to say, "I know that you hurt me, but I will not do the same to you because this is not okay and I refuse to continue this." Women, you're right, it's only fair to treat men the same way they've treated us for centuries. But that won't solve the problem. It won't make things better for society and it won't make things better for us. As cliche as it sounds, we have to be the ones to rise above it, so we can see a future that's truly better and not just worse in a different way.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, I agree to some extent... I'm a month late and probably a dollar short, but here are some thoughts for you: Is it possible that perhaps women have always objectified men because it is human nature, not just a product of masculinity, and that the only difference between today and 100 years ago is that women are allowed to talk about their objectifying behavior more openly? Mostly, I don't think women are thinking about objectifying because it happens to them. I think that lusting after others is a human condition. Yes, they might rationalize it by saying, "well, if they can do that to me, then I should have the right to objectify all I want too!" But that is not the cause of the problem. Is it wrong? Of course! Should it stop? Absolutely! Is it actually based on an attempt to get back at or be equal with men? I don't think so.

    Also, is it possible that other men are also to blame for judging men for spending "too much time" on their appearance? As a society, we have placed men into this box of masculinity that they can't escape, just as women have been placed into a box of what it means to be a woman (stay at home with the kids, cook, clean, be pretty and dumb). Yes, women contribute to upholding this unfair standard, but it is everyone's problem.

    Anyway, I don't mean to pick on you, these are great things to be thinking about :)