It’s the age old question: if women don’t want to be sexualized, why do they spend so much time making themselves look so enticing? Are men just supposed to not notice women?
This “logic” get’s used often when women bring up issues of mistreatment and injustice almost exclusive towards women. When woman try to fight against catcalling: it’s just a compliment! I wish I were catcalled. When women accuse a man of rape: well but what were you wearing, are you sure you weren’t asking for it?
I know this is a hard one to comprehend, and I know it’s taking a long time to drill into everyone’s head, but believe it or not, women don’t do everything they do for the pleasure of men.
I’ll pause for a moment while you process that.
Crazy as it seems, women actually make themselves attractive for reasons other than to sexually entice men. They dress well to feel confident, to earn social capital in a culture that prizes beauty, because they like the outfit, because they enjoy how they look.
It’s not a contradiction to want to look and feel attractive and not want a man to masturbate in front of you. It’s actually that simple.
So why is this so hard to comprehend?
It’s so hard to comprehend because in every corner of the world women are not presented as people. Women are vessels. We use women to defend our political arguments about reproductive rights, health care, and even bathroom safety. We use women on billboards and magazines and television to sell beer and burgers and cars and liquor and shampoo and beauty products and plumbing. We use women in porn and strip clubs to get the blood flowing to all the right places with no emotion or effort required.
We have detached women’s bodies from women’s humanity so frequently that it is common to forget they are actually humans. We don’t remember, as a culture, and so we believe women’s bodies are ours for the taking.
Why do women make themselves more attractive? It’s called self care.
No one takes you mowing your lawn or washing your car as an invitation to then rob your home or steal your car. Self care is no different, and it has nothing to do with pleasing your dick.
We understand that we should not burgle or steal from people, but we are still struggling with harassment and assault. We still think there is this “gray area”. We are not quite ready to consider a woman’s body her own.
Powerful, predatory men are dropping like flies. It’s a beautiful reckoning. This has, unfortunately, lead to other powerful men to speak up about the injustice behind the #MeToo movement, how it’s unfair for men. Inevitably women are being blamed for their own violation still. That somehow thousands of women suffering through harassment and assault is acceptable. Men don’t want to give women unconditional, unassailable agency of their own bodies, and therefore acknowledge their humanity, because that might lead to rejection. And what’s worse: women being continuously sexualized, harassed, and assaulted or men facing rejection?
When will we finally examine the biases that keep women from having autonomy over their own bodies, and why are we so reluctant to dislodge them?
That is what we should really be asking.