By 13 years-old 53% of girls say they are unhappy with their bodies. When were we happy? Marie C. photographed and interviewed 4-8 year old girls and asked them what they liked about their bodies to find out.
pictures of kids always make me cry <3
Several years ago, I wrote the above words as a response to a number of postings by young women I followed here on Tumblr—mostly images in the vain of “thinspo” and body negativity.
While I do feel strongly that ours is a society that is overly critical of women’s bodies, and that the above words were written with the sincerest of intentions, I have reservations about not the words themselves, but their source. Coming from me, those words were very easy to write. But in writing them, I feel I have trivialized the experience of being a woman, an experience that I can never fully understand.
In my life, no one has ever been critical of me based on my appearances. I’ve never been told that I’d be sexier if I dropped a few pounds (or, conversely, if I gained a few). No one has ever complemented me on my jeans, and how they complement my body, nor have I been made to feel uncomfortable walking down any given street in any given city at any given time of day. There is not an entire culture in place bent on objectifying and sexualizing my body. Criticism of my clothes, my shape, and my appearance do not dog me from every end-cap of every cash register in every store across the country. Television commercials do not prey upon my insecurities.
These experiences barely scratch the surface of the realities that women in our society face on a daily basis. It was not my place to write those words, because coming from me, they were an empty gesture. I wrote them without ever feeling the pain of dismissal, discouragement, or devaluation of those who have.
So instead of dancing around the words and trying to make them fit some neutral narrative, I will instead ditch them altogether, and say the following to the demographic to which I can relate—my fellow straight men:
A woman, as with all human beings, is not lessened in status or diminished in capacity based on her gender, sexuality, or anatomy. Her existence is not defined by how much it benefits us, and we are not entitled to any such benefit by virtue of our own gender, sexuality, or anatomy.
The length of her skirt does not silently invite your advances, and her wishes are to be respected as we would expect our own to be respected. She owes us nothing. If she shaves her legs, she does it for herself. She does not owe us a smooth calf. When she puts on makeup or does her hair, it’s not for our titillation. And if she does not do those things, it does not make her a slob, or a cow, or lazy. In fact, not doing those things involves as much effort as most of us men put into our daily grooming.
If you see her on the street, say “hello,” or say nothing, but do not say how much she excites you. Don’t tell her to smile, or to let her hair down, or to stay a while and chat.
When you see her at a bar, don’t batter her with negative words. Don’t put her down to make her an easier conquest. Don’t ply her with drinks, or separate her from her friends, or hound her relentlessly. Respect her right to be left alone, and understand that no always means no, and an enthusiastic, un-coerced yes is an enthusiastic, un-coerced yes. Don’t infer anything different. Her eyes cannot secretly say yes. The cut of her shirt does not mean she was asking for it. If she gets drunk, it does not mean she is inviting our sexual advances. We are not owed sex, and we may not just take it. She is not a “slut” because she has had sex with someone, but won’t have sex with you, just as any man who has had numerous sexual partners is not a slut, or a whore, or a tramp, or any other spiteful, hateful word we absurdly attribute to any person who is in control of and comfortable with their own sexuality.
When you see these things happening, do something to stop it. It is a moral imperative. We must be unwilling to let injustice exist at the expense of our own comfort, for the protection of our own peace of mind.
Treat her with respect, empathy, and compassion—not because she is a “fairer gender,” but because she, like you, is a human being.
You are not your bra-size, nor are you the width of your waist, nor are you the slenderness of your calves. You are not your hair color, your skin color, nor are you a shade of lipstick. Your shoe-size is of no consequence. You are not defined by the amount of attention you get from males, females, or any combination thereof. You are not the number of sit-ups you can do, nor are you the number of calories in a day. You are not your mustache. You are not the hair on your legs.
You are not a little red dress.
You are no amalgam of these things.
You are the content of your character. You are the ambitions that drive you. You are the goals that you set. You are the things that you laugh at and the words that you say. You are the thoughts you think and the things you wonder. You are beautiful and desirable not for the clique you attend, but for the spark of life within you that compels you to make your life a full and meaningful one. You are beautiful not for the shape of the vessel, but for the volume of the soul it carries.
In the 101 top-grossing family films…from 1990 to 2004, of the over 4,000 characters in these films, 75% overall were male, 83% of characters in crowds were male, 83% of narrators were male, and 72% of speaking were male. When the American Psychological Association commented on this research, they said, ‘This gross under-representation of women or girls in films with family-friendly content reflects a missed opportunity to present a broad spectrum of girls and women in roles that are non-sexualised.’
Within the United States of America:
- Only 12 states require sex education to be medically accurate.
- Only 19 states require information on condoms and contraception.
- Only 12 states require sexual orientation to be covered. Out of those, only 9 states require it to be inclusive.
- 3 states require only negative information on sexual orientation.
- 22 states are not required to provide information on healthy decision making or on avoiding coercion.
with Ed. M, Ph.D Jackson Katz
Same for mass shootings which are almost entirely done by white males.
If it was done by, literally, ANYONE ELSE of any other race or gender, I can’t even IMAGINE the shit that would be said by people.
I read somewhere, someone had this theory that the reason shootings are mainly committed by white males is because when women or poc feel alienated, depressed, etc, we are trained to keep it to ourselves, whereas white men are raised with a sense of entitlement that allows them to make their own problems everyone’s problem.
I wonder if it is true for shooting or for road rage or both or neither.
This is a really good documentary.
BEST DOCUMENTARY I’VE EVER SEEN, actually.
ha apparently I already liked this, I don’t even remember seeing it before. Good point though. I was once in an unfamiliar area and pulled out onto a road with a faster mph than normal (for roads you pull on to) and I should have waited for someone to pass buuut underestimated how fast they were going. It was still fine from a no-crash-happened-at-all-or-was-likely-to perspective, but this guy was SO angry that he was beeping at me non stop and then intentionally pulled up next to me (while going 50 mph) just to scream at me for a minute, then went right in front of me (really close). Then we were at a stop light (not busy, only 2 cars around) and he started to get out of his car to come back to where I was, and then apparently thought better of it. I mean I understand being angry about other people’s mistakes but I was pretty clearly very young and not like, malevolently pulling out early, and his actions could have easily caused an accident….
If owning a gun and knowing how to use it worked, the military would be the safest place for a woman. It’s not.
If women covering up their bodies worked, Afghanistan would have a lower rate of sexual assault than Polynesia. It doesn’t.
If not drinking alcohol worked, children would not be raped. They are.
If your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else”.
If your response to hearing a woman has been raped is “she didn’t have to go to that bar/nightclub/party” you are saying that you want bars, nightclubs and parties to have no women in them. Unless you want the women to show up, but wear kaftans and drink orange juice. Good luck selling either of those options to your friends.
Or you could just be honest and say that you don’t want less rape, you want (even) less prosecution of rapists.