Men are pigs. They just want to get laid. And then they just want to watch sports. We women have to dress up for them all the time, but they only want the really hot, young ones. Or so the story goes.
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I grew up in Suburban New Jersey. I went to college in NJ and grad school in Manhattan, and now I’m living on the Upper West Side. I’ve read a lot about gender, and about current events, and about politics. And it’s clear to me that often, men are absolutely awful. They commit the huge majority of violent crimes. Something like 95%. They commit nearly all sexual crimes. When I see a group of them on the street, I feel wary. Once I was harassed by a group of them on the beach. For being a Jew. And for being a woman.
They write offensive messages to my friends on dating sites. They write offensive comments on the articles I publish in the Huffington Post. They seem to revel in anonymity, and they seem to be really angry about a lot of things.
But the truth is, I’ve come across a lot of men, and most of them are very nice. Even the Ukrainian bodyguard with the scarred face I dated whose friends were all in jail and who spoke softly into his cellphone at random times about “the business,” and mysterious “jobs” that he was always coordinating, despite never appearing to work himself. Even he was actually very nice. I’m not kidding, he actually had a scar through one eyebrow from a knife fight. But he cooked me dinner and dumped a generous helping of hotsauce on it, and served me. And he muttered things about how lovely I was. And when I broke up with him for saying that God hated gay people, and screamed into his face that he was “despicably, unforgivably ignorant and worthless” he just sat there and took it, his placid expression with the half-closed eyes never changing.
And for all the emphasis placed on being attractive for men, the guys I know seem to find women beautiful. Not a particular type of women with exact measurements and a certain hair length and perfectly straight teeth. But most women. It’s still kind of a secret. Men are supposed to like women who look a certain way, and women are supposed to try really, really hard to look that way. And of course, there are plenty of guys who valiantly strive to live up to the expectations of bad movies and pop psychology and who seek those women out in bars and on dating sites and at parties, ignoring the girls standing next to them who are a little heavier, or who have slightly crooked teeth. But for the most part, it seems to me that people like other people. And they don’t mind being surprised by someone they didn’t expect to be attracted to, or someone who doesn’t fit whatever standard people are trying to fit, but who has their own, fantastic charm.
I’ve heard from a friend that when he’d mention a girl he thought no one else would be attracted to to his friends, the other guys would always say, “Oh, she’s really hot.”
We are really hot.
When my grandmother read the piece I wrote about beauty and aging, she said, “You know, I don’t think I was that worried about it. I would’ve been, but your Pop Pop loved me so much it didn’t matter.” For her, it was pretty simple. He thought she was beautiful. She knew it. And that was that.
I come from a long line of women who were thought to be extremely beautiful by the men who loved them. Sometimes I see a picture, and nothing really stands out about the woman. She usually has a big nose, like me. And maybe she spent some time in front of a mirror, like me, wondering why her nose had to be so prominent. But it definitely didn’t stop her from being confident, proud, sought-after and adored.
I’ve known so many guys who were madly in love with women who didn’t fit any obvious standard. I’ve dated guys who didn’t fit any obvious standard either. But I didn’t go around telling everyone how sexy they were. Yet I’ve listened to a guy friend describe how gorgeous his girlfriend is to everyone around him, even though she obviously doesn’t fit the general implications of that term. After a point, I start to think, “Who am I to say she isn’t gorgeous?”
So men. They can go a lot of ways. As a gender, they do some of the worst things in the world. As individuals, they’re just, well, people. What a shock.
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Maybe science can explain this. *ahem* “There’s a gene for extreme aggression. It’s exacerbated in men with specific qualities. If exposed to alcohol or peace they will turn into raving monster lunatic killing machines. Also true for the less severe but intensely problematic ‘douche’ gene. Do not expose males who carry the ‘douche’ gene to other males. They will immediately begin posturing and making uncreative sexual advances at passing women, teenagers, and even the occasional preteen girl.” Ah, science. It’s always going around explaining the things that we wonder about the most.
But whatever it is that causes that dramatic divide between what some men prove themselves capable of and how the men in my world behave, I want to acknowledge what I see right here in front of me. It isn’t as simple as “stop blaming men for your body image issues, it’s your own fault!” or “without men there wouldn’t be an oppressive concept of beauty.” It isn’t ever simple, period. But it’s the complicatedness and complexity that give me hope. People are never any one thing, and that’s what gives them the potential for absolutely anything. Sometimes that anything is pretty amazing. Sometimes it’s terrible. And sometimes it’s just plain nice.
And if a bunch of guys want to find me stunningly beautiful, then more power to them. And to me.
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Thoughts on men? Kinda big topic, I know.
Un-Roast: Today I love how much I love color. That’s why I love to paint. I love my ability to get inspired by something really basic like that. And I love how my toenails look with the chipping, sloppy red nail polish. I’m still just as bad at putting it on as when I was twelve, but now I get to walk around this city of perfectly pedicured women, being proud to be different. Back then it wasn’t as fun.
What do you love about yourself today?
Wei-Wei: Today, I love my eyebrows. Me and my sister went to sneakily do a facial+back massage at “trial price”, and I got my eyebrows done. They used to be rather nasty and wild before, but now they’re nicely shaped. I think a lot of my unroasts have to do with grooming, but grooming makes me feel pretty.
Justine: I think I’m lucky that I’ve known since I was a very small child that I was going to be an artist of some kind. Even though I strayed from the path a little when I thought I might want to be an actress or something, I always knew exactly what I wanted—to make art. It feels good to know how securely I still know what I want and how much I love it, and I think I’m pretty good at it too.
Cindy: Yesterday, I turned a tube top sweater I knitted into a skirt and it rocked! Made my day!
Carly: today i love my eyebrows. they seem a little darker than they should be and they make my eyes look mysterious
Anna: My farmer’s tan. Yep. that tanline that stops mid-bicep and mid-thigh. Why do I like it? Because it’s a reflection of my love of the outdoors. I run, I hike, I walk, I bike, I farm. Pale shoulders and upper thighs be damned.
Zoe: i like the way my legs look in my shorts today: strong! and i realized the other day my thighs don’t chaffe together anymore like they used to and the “jiggle” comes from pure muscle as oppose to “fat”. i got me some toned legs!
Kristen: Today I love my legs. They are very muscular and defined for a woman, and they make me feel strong and powerful. Sometimes they can even make me feel sexy
Gaby: I can unroast today! I love the way I look in sparkly green eyeshadow. I hardly ever wear make up, especially not in bright colors. But I went into the mac store the other day and put on a bunch of samples and went a little crazy with their colors and it actually looked good! I immediately felt self conscious once I walked out, but I think it probably made me look fun, bright and happy!
Gaby, that makes me want to try makeup again. It’s been a while…
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P.S. Aren’t pigs supposed to be smart and sweet? Someone should come up with a better insult for disgusting guys. “Men are stonefly nymphs.” Have you seen those things? They crawl out of your drain when you’re brushing your teeth. Creepiest thing ever. I guess the word “nymph” doesn’t sound very masculine…Look, I’m working on it, Ok? It’s not like I can just sit around all day coming up with the appropriately analogous animal for the fifty-year-old guy who hit on me at his mother’s funeral. Is there even an animal for that?
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