Friday, May 19, 2006
Once again I'm inspired by the always insightful and thought-provoking Biting Beaver and her remarks on "fuckability".
I was pretty for about five minutes in the late 90s. At 5 feet tall, 100 rock-solid pounds, long curly reddish hair, good skin - I was "cursed with being 'culturally beautiful' ", so to speak.
It didn't last, thank goodness. I got old, paunchy, frizzy, wrinkled - FINALLY. aaaaaaaaaaah. Now I'm totally invisible.
It beats the alternative.
I have to say I did not like the whole "pretty" lifestyle. It was way too much effort, frankly. And the shoes pinched. And for what? I got zero personal satisfaction out of it. It's not like anyone gave me an extra cookie as compensation for the curse of being culturally beautiful (though I hear that happens from time to time).
As for the drooling morons assumedly dumbstruck by my glorious hawttness (such as it was), they didn't bother me so much. At some point the poor witless bastards were told that pretty girls existed to be looked at and drooled on, so that's what they did. But I found that with some persistence and effort on my part, men could learn to look past my glorious hawttness and discover the truly loathsome beast beneath. Picking my nose was remarkably effective in forcing men to avert their eyes. So was scratching any odd itch, wherever I might find one. Diligently scratching, like it was a job, digging and scraping with total abandon. Belching was quite effective. Of course, if being gross was not an appropriate strategy there were other things I could do. Asking a pointed, preposterous, ridiculous question, phrased in the most overblown and long-winded faux-intellectual style, while making direct eye contact, also worked, as did acting batshit insane. Anything I could do to forcibly rip off the veil of "pretty", I did. Pretty, maybe - but not fuckable. how could a belching, scratching, nose-picking beast be fuckable?
Nah - the male gaze I could handle. the male gaze did not bother me nearly so much as the weird double-edged sword wielded by other women.
"Oh my god you're so thin and pretty I hate you."
Huh. Does this mean you don't want to have lunch with me? Or if I were a corpulent frightwigged hideous toad you'd love me? If my being so-phrased "thin and pretty" makes you hate me, why are you covering your face with a thin slurry of wax and water and torturing your hair to make it look like everyone else's and eating nothing but shredded lettuce so that some other woman can look you straight in the eye and say "Oh my god you're so thin and pretty I hate you"?
These days, as a corpulent frightwigged hideous toad, people hate me for different reasons. "Oh my god your political analysis makes no sense to me I hate you." "Oh my god you're a screaming hypocrite I hate you." "Oh my god you're lazy, ugly and disrespectful I hate you."
Still nobody has lunch with me. But I'm okay with that. At least it makes sense.
So, men have finally left off leering at me, for all the good it might have done them in the past. Women hate me for different reasons, real reasons, so that's definitely progress there.
I was so relieved when I finally ditched the whole "pretty" lifestyle. At my peak of conformity I always felt like a fraud, like I was wearing a cheap and poorly-made woman costume. I felt like a female impersonator, like I was in drag. I hated it, not because men looked at me, but because it didn't feel authentic. I felt like a caricature of femininity. My whole body felt fragile and breakable, my hands were totally useless with the long fake nails on, those damn shoes drove me crazy and I wanted to claw my face off just to get rid of all that makeup sludge.
If I have to be invisible just to feel human, I'll take it and not complain.
Your post has made me think. And I think I'd far rather be hated for my apparent fuckability than my political analysis. My fuckability means jack shit. My political analysis, on the other hand, has been known to change lives - and that matters so much more.
however, fuckability is entirely based on - what? physical attraction? conformity to (totally arbitrary) standards? adherence to the changing whims of fashion? basing a negative feeling on something as capricious and arbitrary as fuckability seems irrational to me. I can't control what counts as "fuckability" from day to day. (and god knows I can't keep up.)
However, basing a negative feeling on a difference of opinion makes a lot more sense to me. it's based on something that can be examined, considered, reconsidered, researched, debated (more or less civilly) and eventually there's a chance that some sort of legitimate meeting of the minds can be reached.
don't hate me because I'm beautiful (snork)...hate me because I came to a different conclusion based on similar experience! :)
But what I observe--and I may be biased here, as, again, I was never all that invested in getting men to like me erotically--is that for the most part, it's other WOMEN who do by far the bulk of body and fashion policing. which may indeed be rooted in a patriarchal mindset, but doesn't (to me) change the effect that I tend to be more concerned with their opinions. I expect it also has a fair amount to do with dear old Mom (for me, and at least some others, I am guessing, particularly if dear old Mom was more than a tad on the judgmental side).
and of course: switching over to comfy shoes does not necessarily mean that one has stopped policing oneself or others. "Any woman who wears (fetish heels) like that belongs in a home" (Twisty) is just the same old "psst psst psst omigod, lookit HER, giggle" shit from a slightly different angle, imo.
but I think the internal and inter-woman scale has to be demolished first, before any real headway can be made on the external scale.
(antiprincess, your trackback thingie isn't working)
well, yeh, same basic point as I had I think: it kind of doesn't matter *what* you wear, inevitably there's gonna be some unsocialized fuckwit who stares aggressively or does some other fuckwitted thing.
the last time I remember getting actual words in street harassment was when I was walking around braless (god how I hate the wire and elastic monstrosities) and some big ol' andro dyke in baggy clothing standing in front of the local (Mafia-owned; it was refreshingly retro) gay club/bar with her snap queen buddy shouted, "Hey, put on a bra!" (or something like it, possibly ruder). I did actually walk toward them; I was pissed. "What did you say?" I had a petite lecture ready for her, something along the lines of "If that's your way of attempting to pick me up, I can tell you it's *really* not working;" but she just giggled nervously and kind of melted away behind her pal. asshat.
generally whether I answer or not depends what kind of mood I'm in and how safe I'm feeling; doing the dozens with big scary-lookin' guys at midnight on a deserted subway car isn't something I feel up to, generally. if I'm feeling the stares, sometimes just blatantly staring back (without smiling or blinking; kind of a "what the hell is your problem?" look; you learn this in New York) is enough to get them to blink and turn away.
funnily enough, the part I resonated more to wrt that particular piece was I'm elated! now I'm in a bottomless black hole! and it all was triggered off by relatively small shit! (car not starting, etc). I get where that would come from (nos hit is really small shit, of course); at the same time, I gotta say: meds and therapy helped an awful lot. Not in a "oh lalala, I don't notice that shit anymore, smile and take soma!" way; more in a "okay, annoying, but it's not gonna fuck me up for the rest of the day" sort of way.
I mean, if "they" is men, and I was gonna be having my primary erotic/romantic or even intellectual connection with 'em (or certain of 'em), then yeah, I suppose I'd care more about that particular "them." Ultimately, though: dude, if I could fix my own car, I probably wouldn't give a fuck what some random choad thought about my ass. I mean: if anything, I'd be smugly happ(ier). *Not* because "oh, teehee, he thinks I'm attractive," but "Ha ha, loser, you're oogling my ass in your typical aggressive, mouth-breathing fashion, but little do you know that I can fix my own car! I don't need your validation, your dick, or your monkey wrench! Pretty soon you'll be completely expendable! Put that in your exhaust pipe and smoke it!"
and then, eventually, I expect even that would lose its charm. eh. piss off. loser.
I dunno. I have technophobia. I can't imagine fixing my own car. Learning to tie a secure knot at the PSI workshop was a big breakthrough for me, frankly. I think that's partly about class as well as gender and (mainly) my own personal shit.
I have also helped to fix a small airplane. that was more fun.
now I feel like I wanna do the uber-femmey thing and bat my eyelashes and swoon. nothin' like someone who's good with tools/her hands...
you people do however, make me blush somewhat, since i was born a male, i must admit, due only to hormonal and genetic drive(s), i have leered at women. yet at the same time i know some of it was envy. beauty is a nice thing when one thinks about it...
Sorry for offtopic
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