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Instead, your article suggests that women should be focused on making one shitty dude's life better.
December 13, 2012 12:15 AM   Subscribe

If a man finds himself attracted to a woman who doesn't conform to this list (more on the specifics of the list in a minute), does he not count as a man? What if she's "perfect" for him? What if she makes him feel like a whole person for the first time in his life, but she just happens to have chunky ankles? What does "perfect" mean then? What does "hot" mean? What does "the One" mean? What we're setting up here is an impossible cultural standard that excludes...well...100% of women. Because literally no one is that weird Frankenstein's Monster-with-Benefits that your art department put together. In her typical masterful style, Jezebel's Lindy West reminds us that being a perfect woman is no excuse for being actively harmful to humanity.
posted by Jon_Evil (68 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love how the Men's Health composite of the perfect woman makes Frankenstein's Monster look natural.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:40 AM on December 13, 2012


lesbiassparrow: "I love how the Men's Health composite of the perfect woman makes Frankenstein's Monster look natural"

To be fair, "natural" is just another, more complicated and stealthy ideal women are pushed to comply with. Fuck natural, it's at least as oppressive as anything on that list.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:44 AM on December 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


"She chuckles at your bad jokes."

Read: Her IQ is 20 points lower than your lower-than-average IQ. Her self-esteem is lower than your low self-esteem. This makes you feel better about yourself.

Jesus.
posted by legospaceman at 12:46 AM on December 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Articles like this are bad for everyone.
I can't stand them. They've recently made a way of insinuating themselves into regular news, and I click thinking "NO, really, how can they...." and suddenly I am in the "women's interest" sub-site (because that's where they usually reside) and I feel my IQ dwinding.

As Jezebel points out, there are millions of them out there, enough to keep everyone feeling bad: men, women... others.

That said, the Jezebel takedown isn't anything special or new.
Although, I wonder how the market is for femur lengthening.... (no one tell me this is a thing, please...)
posted by Mezentian at 12:49 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


See now, I feel this article paints an unrealistic picture of unrealistic women. For instance, what if you're Frankenstein's monster? Shouldn't you have the right to feel love, no matter how misplaced or doomed?
posted by dobie at 1:01 AM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


dobie: "See now, I feel this article paints an unrealistic picture of unrealistic women. For instance, what if you're Frankenstein's monster? Shouldn't you have the right to feel love, no matter how misplaced or doomed"

If you've watched any of the movies, this never works out.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:02 AM on December 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


(no one tell me this is a thing, please...)
OK, I won't.
posted by Kerasia at 1:03 AM on December 13, 2012


Goddamnit. I should have known. I should have kept my mouth shut.
posted by Mezentian at 1:06 AM on December 13, 2012


Leg lengthening surgery? Wow. That's... really creepy.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 1:14 AM on December 13, 2012


Some of the women who men like have facial hair and dicks.

Always nice to be a punchline.
posted by Dysk at 1:37 AM on December 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Anybody with even a bit of knowledge of historical Western standards of attractiveness for women will read that article and laugh their asses off. This shit is at least 80% socially constructed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:07 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I mean, I don't like the Men's Health thing one bit, but the Jezebel takedown really sort of sucked. She is being dismissive of the very real fact that "what we find visually attractive without knowing a thing about the person" and "who we settle down with" are two totally different things, for entirely different reasons, and that this is not anti-feminist. I know my partner likes big boobs. I don't have big boobs. But he's with me for a whole host of other good reasons. Doesn't mean he doesn't still like to look at big boobs sometimes and that that's not entirely reasonable. So I think it's fine to admit that there are (yes, mostly socially-constructed) agreed-upon norms for what most of us objectively find attractive, BUT that those norms do not determine who we end up with.

I would have liked the Jezebel article much more if she'd focused more seriously on that inappropriate framing of the Men's Health thing, that it was telling women to try to BE this perfect woman instead of just saying "here are all the ideals that, at the end of the day, aren't adhered to". Instead it was just like "lol, some men marry women with dicks, your argument is invalid." Which is just kind of shitty all around.

tl;dr: both articles sucked.
posted by olinerd at 2:19 AM on December 13, 2012 [21 favorites]


Girl with neck bolts good.
posted by orme at 2:29 AM on December 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


3. To make a nuanced, satirical statement about the oppressiveness and short-sightedness of modern beauty standards, which keep women stuck in an eternal cycle of self-loathing and retail therapy and tend to exclude many already "othered" groups altogether.

Now this is interesting to read in the context of an article I just came across earlier this afternoon, where:

"We think that the top three obstacles to better gender balance are: Management mindset, leadership criteria, and career management processes " concluded the group of men during last week's leadership team meeting, after an animated debate.

Then I asked the much smaller group of women who had been enthusiastically discussing the topic in a corner of the room to present their analysis. "Self-criticism, lack of confidence and self-selection out of promotion pools" was how they explained the dearth of women in the room — and on this team.

"I am totally turned around," the VP who headed up the division later admitted to me. "I never would have believed such a difference in analysis if I hadn't just witnessed it. The men blamed the system, the women are blaming themselves!"

He had suddenly understood that women are not always the best or only source to understanding the causes of gender imbalances — nor designing solutions to eradicate them. This would be a useful lesson for many leaders — male and female — around the world to understand. It is time to recognize that it is the people currently in power who are the ones best able to understand and adapt their systems.

posted by infini at 2:35 AM on December 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Dysk: "Always nice to be a punchline."

I think she was pointing out that some men are gay. She did it in a really clumsy way, though, one that was inadvertently transphobic. So at least, I am telling myself, the transphobia wasn't intentional.
posted by jiawen at 2:47 AM on December 13, 2012


Long legs plus tiny feet? Guys dig stilts.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:58 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


jiawen, I'm not sure I'm convinced referring to gay men as women with dicks and facial hair is any better. Worse, actually.
posted by Dysk at 3:23 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In context it works.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:29 AM on December 13, 2012


Yeah, it is. It's as complex as every person and every other person. I don't know if you've noticed, but everyone in the world is hella different and attracted to hella different things. Like, do you know how varied the women are that men like? It's so varied that a lot of them aren't even women! A lot of them are other men. Some of the women who men like have facial hair and dicks.

See? In context this is clearly the punch line to a joke about how some men don't even want the ideal woman, as they're after men. Out of context it becomes more problematic.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:31 AM on December 13, 2012


Problematic enough for me in context, frankly.
posted by Dysk at 3:32 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a very tone-deaf, poorly-constructed but not intentionally offensive joke. That's how I take it.
posted by jiawen at 3:38 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fair enough; I read it as driven home the point that some men like men, not anything more sinister.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:38 AM on December 13, 2012


It uses the word 'men' in the previous sentence, then immediately starts talking about women with dicks. It reads to me like two separate counter-points to the bit of the article the author is referencing.

...aaand I feel like I've worn this derail out now, and will drop it.
posted by Dysk at 3:41 AM on December 13, 2012


Long legs plus tiny feet? Guys dig stilts.

I just know there's an As Seen On TV product in this.
posted by NoraReed at 4:11 AM on December 13, 2012


I think that was actually an attempt to include trans people in the conversation, and (to me at least) it normalized a preference among some men for women who are in transition, which I see as a good thing. But then again, I have no dog in the fight.
posted by 1adam12 at 4:19 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know a woman from a non-Western culture who was derided by her mother for her too dark complexion (it's a peasant thing), her too round face (ditto) and her too large breasts (only flat chests are virtuous so please bind yours). The perfect woman according to those societal norms: an ethereal waif-like figure. Puff pieces like the Men's Health article are just a symptom, human societies are extremely normative when it comes to people's (women's) bodies. For an alternate put-down of the arbitrary notions of body perfection, see also the 4chan 2/10 Would Not Bang meme (NSFW).
posted by elgilito at 4:56 AM on December 13, 2012


I'm not a Men's Health reader, but why would any man read an article telling him what he likes? I looked through their archives and found an older article on the hair color "research" which was titled "The Hair Color that Makes You Horny" and all I can think is "wouldn't I know that already?" I mean, if I were the type of guy who only found one hair color attractive (which is silly, but let's play along) wouldn't I know that? Unless the answer is some color I've never seen before, I think I'd know.

I understand the appeal of all of the "Why TV is Ruining Your Sex Life" or "10 Dirty Words Never to Use with a Woman"*, even if they're stupid, but I don't see why I'd bother to read someone tell me about my own preferences. I've got that pretty well under control.

*Spoiler Alert: One of them is splooge. Seriously, someone got paid to write that you shouldn't say splooge during sex.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:28 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


My boyfriend loves Lindy West - Gawker is sort of generally bad, but I wonder if she might be an exception. Regarding Dysk's objection, here's more of the paragraph:
I don't know if you've noticed, but everyone in the world is hella different and attracted to hella different things. Like, do you know how varied the women are that men like? It's so varied that a lot of them aren't even women! A lot of them are other men. Some of the women who men like have facial hair and dicks.
I think the sentence in question is definitely about trans*women, because the sentence before is explicitly about gay/bi men. I don't love that it's a concluding sentence following "some of them aren't even women," but I think that what Ms. West was trying to say was something like "trans*women are definitely women and some men are attracted to them," which is still... not great, to be honest. I think it's a legitimately difficult point to get across in the format of a linkbaity gawker article, though. I mean in the space of 2-4 punchy sentences she's trying to acknowledge that trans* persons exist and are attractive and also to keep hammering on the "different men are attracted to different things" theme and well, that's tough.

So I totally get Dysk's feeling that she got reduced to a punchline there, because she pretty much did, even if I think Ms. West was trying to do better than that. And if it helps, Dysk, I would guess that if you had an opportunity to talk about it with her, she would probably sincerely apologize? Although of course I can't know that.
I just know there's an As Seen On TV product in this.
From the makers of Spanx(tm) and Bootypop Panties(tm) comes the sexy new sensation, Stiltz(tm)!

Shots of sexy, confident women striding down the pavement on Stiltz(tm). The common folk pass by below, too humbled to peek up their skirts. The cut between each new woman is punctuated by the camera zooming in on a square-jawed man, artfully stubbled, snapping his head around to stare in rapt wonder as she walks by.

--

On a semi-unrelated note, I've been working with a lot of straight men recently, in a job that involves driving around in a truck. Dudes be like satirical sendups of themselves, y'all. Just craning and staring at women and interrupting themselves to say "woah, she's hot". I want to say something like "what the hell is wrong with you," but I also want to go to work at a job where I get along with most people. I try to push back against sexist stuff when I can, but tbh it's usually pretty weak pushback.

I wish I worked with one of the women, would be much easier.
posted by kavasa at 6:05 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I understand it's difficult to treat the subject properly in quick one-sentence punchline - which is precisely why I find it wonderful that that one-liner was apparently more important than treating the subject properly.)
posted by Dysk at 6:14 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is relevant to me. I just started dating a woman who's over 6 foot 2 and broad, and so has been shunned her whole life. Broad boned 6 foot 2 women never make it into the check lists. But I'm over 6 foot 6 and broad, and being with her is heaven! I have never met a more beautiful woman. She's smart and kind and funny. And yes, she has a huge chest, but I'd love here even if she didn't. We just love being together. We have stuff in common.

A check list is not love. Love is knowing a person and wanting to be with them forever.
posted by EnterTheStory at 6:17 AM on December 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


A check list is not love. Love is knowing a person and wanting to be with them forever.

That really should be the nail in the coffin of this kind of nonsense. If you look around the actual world, you'll see plenty of people who are hopelessly in love with all kinds of people that look nothing like the ideal woman from the magazine. This even includes straight men who are attracted to women like the "ideal woman," but for whom all that stuff matters less than being the right person. Hell, I am attracted to plenty of stuff on that "ideal woman", but I didn't pick my wife because she checked some of those boxes.

For example, I have no idea if my wife's feet are the "right" size or not, but I do know that they're awesome, mostly because they have names.*

*Foot names! I had no idea that my perfect woman's feet had to have names, but it turns out that it's very important.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:30 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ugh, fuck jezebel and literally every single thing they have ever had to say and ever will have to say.
posted by elizardbits at 6:47 AM on December 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Great article! As a fella who's down with the ladies it's nice to see a real feminist standing up for hotties of a few more sizes, shapes, colors and creeds. And it's true, dudes do prefer chicks with small feet! Thank you for opening my eyes, Ms Haller!
posted by nowhere man at 6:50 AM on December 13, 2012


Metafilter: be like a satirical sendup of itself, y'all.


I'll get my coat...
posted by glasseyes at 6:54 AM on December 13, 2012


The 32 Biggest WTFs About the ‘32 Things Every Man Should Do’

Lindy West is awesome, much missed from The Stranger.
posted by Artw at 6:55 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I take it Jezebel does not employ editors?
posted by brain_drain at 7:01 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do men (aside from those with foot fetishes) really check out women's feet? Maybe it's just because I'm a straight woman, but to me "feet" are not the first thing I think of when I think "whoa, that's hot!"

I only notice men's feet in the negative - that is, when they are manky, ill-kept, gross and smelly with jagged nails - which is a stand-in for poor self-care in general, which is a turn-off. Does anyone know why feet would be a secondary sexual characteristic for women but not men?

Small feet tend to belong to women who are small and dainty in general - "long legs" tends to go with "taller" which translates to "bigger feet" because body parts tend to be proportional. So if you're looking for a tall woman with small feet, you're going to be looking for quite a while.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:26 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never been out with a man taller than me, but pop culture would lead you to believe that this is an absolute deal breaker for women.
posted by mippy at 7:26 AM on December 13, 2012


I'm probably enspoused to a bunch of virtual strange names, most of whom I have no idea what they look like.

Can I eat this?
posted by infini at 7:38 AM on December 13, 2012


The original article is so obviously terrible that I kind of wonder at the necessity of such a takedown. I stopped reading here:

And men because it conditions them to spend their entire lives trying to find a girlfriend who is as close to these specifications as possible—constantly upgrading, for status and decoration and a sense of belonging, whether they like the person or not. It tricks people into getting into shitty, unhappy relationships with partners they genuinely don't like, because Julie passed the foot-caliper test better than Crystal. And then, voila, we arrive at the last 30 years of stand-up comedy.

Because I don't actually believe people do this, or at least not people that I think should be protected from anything. Like, if a man is shallow enough that he's on some sort of cultural-expectations-imposed girlfriend upgrade cycle, he is so shallow that a woman surely knows what they are getting into. I believe pretty strongly that men are harmed in subtle ways by the patriarchy and its weird standards, but I really don't feel a great need to change the zeitgeist for the benefit of guys like this.
posted by gauche at 7:44 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


> pop culture would lead you to believe that this is an absolute deal breaker for women.

Not absolute, but only the boldest guys dare.
posted by jfuller at 8:18 AM on December 13, 2012


Artw's link is pretty hilarious. I'm a little snooty about the "real men don't call furniture by its proper names" thing, but I'll forgive it for this phrase: Are all of his male employees insufferable girly-men who wouldn't know a nightstand if it davenported them right in the credenza?

I don't think she's saying anything new or ground-breaking, but she has a really nice Tomato-Nation-like turn of phrase that highlights the crazy quite well.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:25 AM on December 13, 2012


Among the many awful things about Lindy West is her habit of couching all her critiques in "I hate this because it makes me feel bad." Like the feelings of Lindy West are the most important criteria for the evaluation of an article. I'll side with olinerd: This is the Hitler vs. Stalin of puff-piece space fillers.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:35 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


“I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim or too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard travelling. I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you. I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think that you've not got any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I'd starve to death before I'd sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow.”
― Woody Guthrie
posted by edverb at 9:10 AM on December 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Men's Health is pretty much just Cosmo for douchebags, no?
...no, wait, that's Maxim.
Men's Health is Cosmo for people who sell fitness equipment to men who think they can turn into Tyler Durden.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:21 AM on December 13, 2012


I've always found that Woody Guthrie quote weird, and even weirder when quoted by others. Like, does that mean Velvet Underground's "Heroin" is bad, R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" is good? Or, for that matter, Guthrie's "Buffalo Skinners" is bad, "This Land Is Your Land" is good? 'Cause if so, fuck that. If not, then what does it mean? Personally, it seems to me that songs out of the "big-money side" are all about uplift and making you feel good, while I prefer to agree with Kafka "Art must be an axe for the frozen sea inside us."

I acknowledge this is heading fast into Derail Country, but it does pretty much connect with my basic feeling about West: People who evaluate things they're reading based on "Does this make me feel nice?" are pathetic, all-too-common, and well-served by media culture (even on body issues, it seems "Love yourself" is the explicit message of everything, even when the many obstacles to loving ourselves sneak in through the back). West has no idea just how ordinary her complaint is.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:58 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


West's article is in service of an admirable goal, and I applaud that. But, it's written poorly. Hella this and hella that? Seriously? Can we pretend for a minute that there's some semblance of professionalism left in paid writing? Please? Outside of my trivial quibbles with word usage, it's just another fluff piece meant to counter fluff. What purpose does that serve? I think it does more harm than good.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 10:06 AM on December 13, 2012


5. To fill column inches (duh).
Why is that #5 ?
posted by k5.user at 10:24 AM on December 13, 2012


The Men's Health article says so much about the author(s). Men prefer narrow hips?! Whaaaat?! Narrow hips are a visual signifier of physical immaturity in a woman. Child-fuckers!
posted by basicchannel at 10:30 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Men's Health article says so much about the author(s). Men prefer narrow hips?! Whaaaat?! Narrow hips are a visual signifier of physical immaturity in a woman. Child-fuckers!

Accusing people who prefer small hips of being pedophiles doesn't really help; it mostly just makes women who happen to have small hips feel weird about their bodies or men being attracted to them. The goal should be not judging women for their appearance, period. Some mature women have narrow hips, some "real women" have curves, shaving your pubic hair doesn't make you look like a child etc. It doesn't help anyone to criticize women's appearance for not living up to an idealized standard, even in the service of fighting nonsense like the Men's Health article.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:38 AM on December 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


Metafilter: Child-fuckers!
posted by sparklemotion at 10:40 AM on December 13, 2012


[Reddit joke here]
posted by Artw at 10:43 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I opened the first link but didn't have time to read it because I had to go get ready to go out. While I was out running errands with my husband, I asked if he had looked at it. "It was the usual nonsense from Men's Health: written by hacks, read by fools."

Then we spent the next 15 minutes joking about the absurd idea that "You" are attracted to brunettes. Yeah, I'm talking to YOU. Drop the blonde, buddy, and back away sloooowly.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:16 PM on December 13, 2012


The kind of articles like the mens health one always pushes my "You don't deserve for anyone to like you, much less love you, much less be sexually attracted to you" button. I think I like the Jezabel article because it pushes back against my knee-jerk response of "you're fat, ugly, and too smart; no one will ever love you" to the majority of "dating advice" in the world.

That whole stimulus-response really needs more analysis, but it would be easier to do if I had a boyfriend; harder to disbelieve no one could ever be in love with me while no one is in love with me.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:23 PM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of them is splooge. Seriously, someone got paid to write that you shouldn't say splooge during sex.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
posted by P.o.B. at 12:32 PM on December 13, 2012


Accusing people who prefer small hips of being pedophiles doesn't really help; it mostly just makes women who happen to have small hips feel weird about their bodies or men being attracted to them.

Nobody has to feel weird! A general preference for pre-pubescent hips amongst a whole gender, according to the source, is kinda weird, though. I feel like this says more about us as a culture than it does for each individual preference amongst the group.
posted by basicchannel at 12:35 PM on December 13, 2012


Girllllllllllllll I dig that waist-to-hip ratio.
posted by zscore at 12:45 PM on December 13, 2012


The jackass who draws up a list of engineering specs for his perfect woman is probably better off with a female robot (as soon as the emotional simulation becomes fully realistic).

Then the human race will die out.
posted by bad grammar at 1:18 PM on December 13, 2012


There is only one way to avoid this terrible fate for humanity!

/puts on Sir Mix-A-Lot.
posted by Artw at 1:47 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


bad grammar: "The jackass who draws up a list of engineering specs for his perfect woman is probably better off with a female robot (as soon as the emotional simulation becomes fully realistic).

Then the human race will die out
"

No, then the douchebag race will die out. Actual humans will do just fine.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:32 PM on December 13, 2012


Douchebag isn't a race, it's a state of mind.
And it will endure.
posted by Mezentian at 10:40 PM on December 13, 2012


As a short-ish woman with huge feet and pronounced hips, I'm essentially the opposite of that list.

I'm really good, from years (decades!) of training, at feeling bad about my appearance, but from now on I'm going to see myself as having built-in douchebag repellant. Score!
posted by Superplin at 10:45 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Men's Health is like a Cosmopolitan for men. The articles are extremely shallow and full of fluff. I don't know why anyone would even bother writing a critique of anything written in that magazine. It would be like writing a critique of an article in Cosmopolitan titled "His Top Ten Secret Desires"
posted by eye of newt at 11:18 PM on December 13, 2012


That has been done and linked here, I'm pretty sure.
posted by Artw at 11:39 PM on December 13, 2012


You'd think that the article would take culture into consideration as well, as beauty norms differ worldwide.
posted by infini at 12:44 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You'd think that the article would take culture into consideration as well, as beauty norms differ worldwide.

I don't think Men's Health is even aware there are black women in America, let alone other kinds of women anywhere else.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:03 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jezebel surely is, no? Wouldn't that have been part of the objections to the article?
posted by infini at 3:22 AM on December 17, 2012


Maybe to point that out would have been racist?
Maybe the Jezesnark was colourblind? Or going with the fact that the MH article didn't comment on colour.

Damn good point regardless.
posted by Mezentian at 3:28 AM on December 17, 2012


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