How do I become ugly?
January 4, 2017 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Becoming Ugly " We’ve been told time and time again that prettiness and likability will protect us from harm, that to be good women, we must play by these rules, but this is a lie. Nothing will protect us except for ourselves—and what’s more fortifying than a defensive exterior? There are days when all I want is to become a human road sign, a blinking hazard to any man misfortunate enough to cross my path: “I WANT TO OFFEND YOUR SIGHT. I WANT TO OFFEND YOUR EVERYTHING.” [...] Be rough like Rosie O’Donnell, or be polished and “good” like Ivanka Trump—they’ll use you either way, so you might as well be barbed and coarse enough to tear up their hands when they do. Now, all I hope for is to cause my own sort of minor destruction to the men who would otherwise take things away from me."
posted by stoneweaver (65 comments total) 93 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was a great read. When I encountered it the other day, I found it sad and sobering and in accord with much I have thought, but not quite.
I ultimately didn't share it anywhere, because what I want, in the last of all things, is to be free of suffering because of what men (#notallmen!) claim to need and want from women. A desire to throw one's whole being into the spite of men is as patriarchy-centered as a desire to make yourself a fembot to please them. I am tired of the whole of the game. I am very tired.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:57 PM on January 4 [37 favorites]


THIS WHOLE THING.
posted by liquorice at 3:58 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


I am probably not the target audience, but it was good to read.

Fucking fuck.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:09 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Oh wow yeah. I relate.

The biggest example of this getting ingrained in me is also when I played video games online and hung out with boys. I just, liked "boy" stuff in my small school. Of course millions of women are gamers but not in my small circle. And there was so much joking with ME as the joke. I never dared joke back for fear of being humiliated and no longer being the "chill girl"* and thus having no video game friends. (Note, I was never the chill girl, but I was okay enough to be around to use my TVs and game systems.)

Then, during this time playing games online... The SECOND some guys would find out I was a girl, all hell would break loose. Team killing me (they are on my team, lowering our points JUST to KILL me in a video game) and constant Teabagging (crouching repeatedly with your avatar over my dead body.) In some games the news would spread like wildfire across to the enemy team. "HEY! [Gamertag] over there is a giirirlrlllll Let's get her!" Not to mention the sexual advances.

I got screamed at for talking. For having an annoying voice. For not "shutting the fuck up bitch." when talking with friends.

So I started fighting back, or playing along and damaging their fragile ego. I'm all for light trash talk but slurs and gender attacks cross a line.

I'd laugh at them when I killed them. I'd play into it! "You got owned by a girl. Too bad." If they told me to shut up I'd say "You shut up or fucking mute me. There's a mute button for that if you don't like me." If they persisted I blocked and reported them.

When they asked me to suck their dick I'd ask "Uhh.. maybe! How big is it though?" to their bewilderment.

Apparently every male penis is either 8 or 9 inches. FYI.

Then I'd say "Oh, sorry. That's too big. No thanks." then block them after hearing them at a total loss for words.

I was done being the "chill girl". I can fight back. I can play video games. I can have a space in the world that isn't just for your abuse. But damn, it's hard to be the "girl" in the group.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:14 PM on January 4 [80 favorites]


Yes. Vengeance feels right.

No idea what that looks like.
posted by schadenfrau at 4:14 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


As a very fat person, I already offend the sensibilities of the people she wants to offend.

It doesn't help.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:16 PM on January 4 [27 favorites]


The pull quote is highly misrepresentative of the piece as a whole. I was going to stomp on in and say THEY DON'T GRAB YOU BECAUSE YOU'RE PRETTY, THEY GRAB YOU BECAUSE THEY HATE YOU and heaven knows men have never had a problem hating ugly women. but she knows that.
posted by queenofbithynia at 4:29 PM on January 4 [11 favorites]


I read this a few days ago, or tried but had to walk away and take a breather because too real.

I'm 42 now and a mom and thus completely invisible but what I experienced when I was younger will never leave me. And that pisses me the fuck off.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:34 PM on January 4 [13 favorites]


As a very fat person, I already offend the sensibilities of the people she wants to offend.

It doesn't help.


That seems to be what she's saying.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:36 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


It's a small thing, but I chopped off all my hair last week, and when people asked me why, I said, not really joking: the patriarchy.

It feels good. I recommend it.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 4:44 PM on January 4 [26 favorites]


Yeah, my first thought on reading this was.... yeah, that's why I shaved my head in college. Because I wanted to be ugly. Because I was sick of all the unwanted attention and aggression. Turns out, though, that being "ugly" gives you a different kind of unwanted and scary male aggression (and I'd argue, possibly worse, because it's like disgust/anger at disruption of the idea that women are there to please men), so it's lose-lose. (Although there was definitely some fun in it, so I get that part of what she's saying. It's a little bit of a fuck you.)
posted by likeatoaster at 4:51 PM on January 4 [14 favorites]


Yes, things are bad, but deciding to be a rotten asshole won't help anybody. The rotten assholes she hates so much think they have good reasons to be rotten assholes too. (Also, the men in her life, the ones she actually does like, aren't the only ones who don't deserve to have sexist garbage spewed all over them.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:54 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


When I was young and got harrassed all the time, I spent a couple of years not wearing makeup and wearing unattractive baggy clothes. I still got some shit, but nowhere near on the scale I had before. It was liberating. Also, I noticed people talked down to me less, older guys and guys in general felt less of a need to Share Their Wisdom. God that was a huge relief. The Random Wisdom-Sharing was somehow even worse than catcalling.

While I'm not terribly happy about aging, not getting harrassed and stared at is such a relief. Now walking down the street is just walking down the street, not running a gauntlet of bullshit.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 4:55 PM on January 4 [13 favorites]


I am a queer man and can relate to this piece. It was very powerful. I have always passed for straight and as I have gotten older and as I have learned more about how the patriarchy hurts me and hurts all of us I have become less and less interested in passing and more interested in signaling something else. I know that's not exactly the same thing the piece is evoking but the idea of embracing an appearance that is distressing to the patriarchal majority is something that I have come to find fulfilling.

My queer woman partner and I have chosen to alter our appearance over the last year or so to be a little less heteronormative and just....signal out more to those around us. It's tough to put into words I guess but it feels good. It's gotten us some reactions that we wouldn't otherwise get - but that also can feel good. When a dudebro in Eagles gear and an open beer on the subway looks horrified at my "queer haircut" and nose ring that brightens my day. Maybe that's bad of me but eh.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:00 PM on January 4 [10 favorites]


I also wore pretty much all black and big stompy boots for quite a while after the election- I think it was two weeks between Nov. 8 and when I wore a dress again. I also recently acquired a (fake) leather jacket I hardly ever take off. I know that in many ways it's silly (and I do other much more concrete acts of protest) but I needed to express my anger and part of that is looking on the outside the way I feel on the inside.

I don't think it's about escaping male attention, as much as it is acknowledging the deal they're offering you is a bad one. Look exactly the way they want you to, smile, put on make-up, grow your hair, shave your legs, buy pretty clothes - what does it get you? Fucking nothing. It's a waste of my goddamned time.

Hillary is such a gut-punch of an example of that - she wore all the makeup and did her hair so it looked soft and forgave her husband when he cheated on her and baked cookies in the White House and bit her tongue when Trump loomed over her and condescended to her and in the end she got nothing, even though she was the most qualified person to ever run for the office, it didn't matter; America decided it wanted a blathering, inexperienced, moronic rapist instead, because this country will give its women nothing that isn't wrested from it by force.

You shave your head not because it will protect you but because growing your hair long won't, and long hair is a goddamned pain in the ass. But you can also grow your hair long, or put it in pigtails, or dye it blue. You can do whatever you want, because the rewards they promised you for not doing that are bullshit.

I think this is another good way to think about it: RAGE SPARKLE.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 5:02 PM on January 4 [131 favorites]


~~I just want to walk outside and not be evaluated for my fuckability~~
posted by Space Kitty at 5:23 PM on January 4 [44 favorites]


Well that was a very depressing essay and different from what I thought it would be. It's a very complicated relationship between caring about how you look "for yourself" and caring about it "for everyone else" and I really think it's a fishing net that we're caught up in and wasting a lot of time with, at what point do we set fire to the whole thing.
posted by bleep at 5:26 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


I was flipping through a magazine outside my doctor's yesterday trying to figure out why the gorgeous clothes and make up on some pages made me feel stronger and the pages of blemish serum advice and how to flatter your figure flaws didn't, and I think it's where it was about pleasure. Fashion was color and texture and shape for my pleasure, for the amusement and delight of wearing art. Social beauty is for an observer's critical gaze, a constantly receding and patrolled boundary. Fashion isn't beauty. The business of commercial fashion is contaminated by the same exploiting of social beauty, but the consumption of fashion, ugly fashion, queer fashion, punk fashion, glam fashion, macho fashion, sports fashion, can be a voice.

I had a pair of baggy overalls as a teenager that made me vanish socially, I loved those things. I could slip through the city at night in them. And now, I'm trying to make myself wear brighter colors to push back, make up against decades of being told not to, and it's a victory to choose to wear it, every cheap drugstore tube I buy with a brighter shade each time. Someday, I will wear hope on my face.

That was a great article, sharing it on fb and Tumblr.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:33 PM on January 4 [17 favorites]



~~I just want to walk outside and not be evaluated for my fuckability~~


samesies
posted by zutalors! at 6:16 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


That seems to be what she's saying.

I don't mean just that it doesn't keep them from harassing you, though it certainly doesn't do that. It changes the precise content of the harassment, but that's about it.

I mean that being ugly and reprehensible to them just reinforces their privilege, because they amend the list of reasons why they deserve to do whatever shit to you that they want. There is no way to be "barbed and coarse enough to tear up their hands when they do" because they see both beauty and ugliness as reasons to subjugate you.

Not reasons why you should be subjugated, because it's not about you. Reasons why they deserve to subjugate you, because it's all about them.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:30 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Yes, things are bad, but deciding to be a rotten asshole won't help anybody.

I really really looked but I can't find the part where she says "be a rotten asshole."

Or is this that thing where when a woman says "oh hai I'm here but not for your pure use and pleasure" that's absolutely the meanest thing she can ever do?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:30 PM on January 4 [51 favorites]


God, I loved this. I really think having hideous, disfiguring acne as a teen was the making of me in many ways. At the time, of course, it made me suicidal. I eventually got it fixed and became conventionally attractive in my own geeky way, but knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was utterly unfuckable during those formative years was, in retrospect, super important to who I turned out to be.

I've recently realized that I can actually use cosmetics to make me look *less* cute, and I'm obsessed with it. So much fun to put on my face in the morning knowing, "this pale, blushless skin and these heavy eyebrows are just how I want to look" and pairing that with no mascara, no eyeliner, no effort to cover my blemishes, and objectively terrible, unkempt hair. I think of it as a Jane Eyre kind of look.

Idk. I don't really know any answers. I've never gotten the kind of male attention people complain about. I'm not sure what it is about me. I'm a totally average shape, a charmingly compact height. I dress masculine of center, but I haven't always. There's something about me that most men just aren't interested in messing with. I wish I could bottle this and sell it.
posted by potrzebie at 6:35 PM on January 4 [21 favorites]


While I'm not terribly happy about aging, not getting harassed and stared at is such a relief. Now walking down the street is just walking down the street, not running a gauntlet of bullshit.

Repeating for emphasis. I'm 62 and I don't have the words to express the relief of NOT being harassed on the street. What's disturbing is how long it took to get to this point. E.g., it was still an issue well into my 50s, even when I wore jeans and a baggy jacket/hoodie. Eventually, I realized that the key was covering my shoulder-length hair when I was out, i.e., the visible evidence that I was a woman.
posted by she's not there at 6:37 PM on January 4 [6 favorites]


There's an interesting discussion that some Japanese girls adopt lolita fashion in part to reject the male gaze, because Japanese males find the look offputting.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:42 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


While I'm not terribly happy about aging, not getting harassed and stared at is such a relief.

I got stopped on the street this summer by a dude I have a nodding familiarity with because he felt he needed to tell me that, even though I'm getting old, I'm still looking good. And when I gave him a scowl (as I desperately tried to figure out how to respond in a way that felt good given the class, race and gender power dynamics going on in the situation), he thought I was demurely indicating "oh no, me? you couldn't possibly mean you approve of my fuckability? oh gosh, I'm not worthy" so he repeated it and said it was really true.

It turns out middle aged ladies still are only valued by how decorative we are.
posted by mcduff at 6:46 PM on January 4 [14 favorites]


"You can do whatever you want, because the rewards they promised you for not doing that are bullshit." is amazing.
posted by monkeymike at 7:21 PM on January 4 [12 favorites]


[I think taking this into an argument about fine points of word choice and semantics is likely to be unproductive and a big derail. Ursula Hitler, I know you often find discussions about gender and misogyny here frustrating and you might be better off giving this a miss.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:32 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


We’ve been told time and time again that prettiness and likability will protect us from harm

Nobody ever told me this. Raise your hand if someone has told you this.
posted by scratch at 7:42 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Yes, things are bad, but deciding to be a rotten asshole won't help anybody.
See, making a conscious decision to stop being what entitled men want us to be, stop being what the patriarchy tells us we should be, does not equal being a rotten asshole. Calling out sexism (and racism and homophobia and and and) does not equal being a rotten asshole. Taking action to protect yourself, to fight back, to stop tolerating things like sexual harassment even in "subtle" forms like being slapped on the ass - that does not equal being an asshole.

(Also, the men in her life, the ones she actually does like, aren't the only ones who don't deserve to have sexist garbage spewed all over them.)
Will we ever get a thread about feminism which doesn't have some variation on #NotAllMen come up at some point? EVER?
posted by Athanassiel at 7:48 PM on January 4 [31 favorites]


I dunno, I understand the experiences described, but the article itself didn't resonate with me. It was somewhat one-sided, somewhat hyperbolic, and didn't cast anything in a new light (from my perspective). It was almost bordering on the "I hate men" sentiment that gives feminism a bad name in some circles. Not sure what I missed, since everyone else seems to like it.
posted by mantecol at 8:02 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


>>We’ve been told time and time again that prettiness and likability will protect us from harm

>Nobody ever told me this. Raise your hand if someone has told you this.

*Raises Hand*

Repeatedly. Every day. In so many ways. And still "if you would be nice, I wouldn't do xyz". "Your best accessory is your smile" "you catch more flies with honey"

Be kind, be gentle, don't take up space. And if you are hurt it's because you provoked him. Your ugliness deserves it.

Every time a woman is killed for saying "no" we are being told that if we are just likable enough we get to live. Don't dare step out of line.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:17 PM on January 4 [62 favorites]


We’ve been told time and time again that prettiness and likability will protect us from harm

scratch: Nobody ever told me this. Raise your hand if someone has told you this.

Raises Hand.

That essay is brilliant. Kudos to Madeleine Davies.
posted by pjsky at 8:19 PM on January 4 [12 favorites]


We’ve been told time and time again that prettiness and likability will protect us from harm

Nobody ever told me this. Raise your hand if someone has told you this.


*raises hand* I was totally raised with the view that as long as I was polite, quiet, agreeable and above all nice, then everything would work out fine and I wouldn't be hurt. All the girls that did get hurt just must not have been polite enough or agreeable enough. It took a really long time to undo that way of thinking and victim blaming.
posted by liquorice at 8:20 PM on January 4 [29 favorites]


Nobody ever told me this. Raise your hand if someone has told you this.

Here's an article that summarizes what I meant.

Think about the way that Trump treats Ivanka. Pouring praise over her for being pretty, classy, poised, a great mom, etc. Or the quote from Steve Bannon: "In fact, the women that would lead this country would be feminine, they would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn't be a bunch of dykes that came from the 7 Sisters schools..." The idea that there's a right way to be a woman. Women are so sweet, and soft, and loving, so much better than men in so many ways, and that makes men want to protect them and care for them and buy them dinner and hold doors open for them and support them... We don't hate women, we love them! They are precious, pretty, long-haired, wide-eyed, beautiful angels, and we want to keep them safe (by passing laws about their bodies, and keeping them out of the rough and tumble workplace, and banning them from the armed forces, etc.) That's the honey-sweet, benevolent version of misogyny - if you're soft and sweet and pliable and attractive, you'll receive the "protection" of the men with all the power.

But what do women need protection from? Men, obviously. The men who will grab you in the workplace, who will shout 'dyke' at you if you walk down the street with short hair, the men who will rape you if you walk down the wrong alleyway at night, the men who will pour derogatory hate all over you from every direction if you dare to deviate in any way from the feminine ideal.

That's why it's a racket: they are both the threat and the people offering protection from that threat. "You got such a pretty face, hon! It'd be a shame if something happened to it. Why don't you smile once in a while?"
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:22 PM on January 4 [102 favorites]


It'd be a shame if something happened to it.

Yes! This is the implied threat after the comments on my pretty face.
posted by zutalors! at 8:41 PM on January 4 [8 favorites]


I have decided to be a poisoned flower.

It is satisfying.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:45 PM on January 4 [14 favorites]


Women are so sweet, and soft, and loving, so much better than men in so many ways, and that makes men want to protect them and care for them and buy them dinner and hold doors open for them and support them... We don't hate women, we love them! They are precious, pretty, long-haired, wide-eyed, beautiful angels

Reminds me of this.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:04 PM on January 4 [10 favorites]


Another raised hand.

On second thought, make that a raised fist, damn it—backed up by a lifetime of being pissed-off about this bullshit.
posted by she's not there at 9:38 PM on January 4 [16 favorites]


I decided after the election that If I am going to be soft and pretty, if I am going to be feminine, I need to learn how to be this kind of soft and pretty and feminine. The kind you can use as a weapon.
posted by nonasuch at 11:14 PM on January 4 [11 favorites]


It is interesting to read some of these comments about having a negative reaction later in life to being raised or told to be nice and polite.

I am a father of 3 girls under 7 years old. We talk about girl power, and that princesses don't always need to be rescued and girls can do everything boys can do. But I do also tell them that being nice and being polite is important.

Not because they are girls but because they live in a society that, imo, works better when everyone is nice to each other. It is how I was raised and I would tell the same thing to my sons if I had any.

Is this wrong? Should I be delivering that message in a different way? I would genuinely appreciate your thoughts or guidance. I hadn't thought about how those words could later be felt as tools of oppression.
posted by pixlboi at 12:43 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


This was a great article. I also have had shorter and shorter hair lately and describe it to friends as a gives-no-fucks haircut, but I think I'll use pretentious illiterate's great description of "Because patriarchy" as well. I'm not giving up the big stompy boots either.
posted by vickyverky at 1:03 AM on January 5


pixlboi, being nice and polite is a good thing. Taking responsibility for one's social interactions is a good thing. But women have been been lumbered with the burden of keeping things 'nice and polite' at the expense of their own well-being. For example, silence on domestic abuse; not calling out the co-worker who is creepy; being encouraged to give everyone the 'benefit of the doubt', etc. Be nice and polite, sure, but don't not call out bullshit when it happens, that's what I'd be teaching them.
posted by Thella at 1:13 AM on January 5 [20 favorites]


I feel like this should be its own AskMe question and not derail this thread.
posted by bleep at 1:40 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Women could literally have the ability to spit neurotoxic venom and men would just get more creative with harassment.
posted by benzenedream at 2:07 AM on January 5 [13 favorites]


We’ve been told time and time again that prettiness and likability will protect us from harm

Curiously, for white men, good looks and likability (if not prettiness) seem to be a very good protector from harm, in that you can be a serial harasser, rapist, molester, etc etc and people will actively defend you on the grounds that you're NICE.
posted by emilyw at 3:54 AM on January 5 [19 favorites]


From the piece: I was a girl who mostly hung around boys because I hadn’t yet learned that female friendships, though infinitely more confusing, were also infinitely more rewarding.

While the author clearly needed to get out of that group, I'm so tired of seeing this expressed as a universal truth. The accompanying inference is often "Women who don't follow this model for cultivating friendship, you need to try harder!" Yet, didn't we have a thousands-of-responses thread not too long ago that, among other things, covered "Women, try harder!"?
posted by gnomeloaf at 5:57 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


pixlboi: I've always told my daughter that she always has to be polite, but she doesn't always have to be nice. Politeness covers what we should expect of each other as strangers, is a much more straightforward code of conduct. Niceness can inadvertently offer vulnerability, and therefore should be a actual decision.
posted by gnomeloaf at 6:07 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


A while back one of my coworkers, while idly poking around on the internet during a quiet moment in the office, came across the "fun fact" that women look the worst at 3:30pm on wednesday. This was immediately seized on as a thing to revel in. If three of us are gonna be in the same meeting at 3:30, it's like "oh man, i cannot wait, this meeting is gonna be *terrifying* - together, we will be so magically hideous no one will be able to concentrate"! It has become such a thing that recently when a few new dudes were hired we warned them right off the bat to watch out for 3:30 on wednesday because that is when our powers are at their peak and they aren't even gonna recognise us and ohhh boy, watch out, you're gonna be scared muwahahaha.
posted by Ennis Tennyone at 6:32 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


Oh, man, another work-thing that this brings to mind - I work @ a library and do a little bit of time on the main desk, assisting patrons with whatever. Once, after wrapping up helping some guy find some things, he says "Hey, did you ever think about dying your hair? You'd look so much younger if you did." (I've got a decent amount of grey that i once-in-while cover up with color, or bleach out further, or whatever i feel like doing for funsies - im 40 and have been coloring my hair everywhichway since i was 13).

It is hard to describe how this made me feel but ohhhh did it give me a feel. It wasn't so much angry as it was just kind of amazingly bowled over by the intrusiveness, the presumpuousness. It was startling! I had 0 idea how to react, so I just gave him the blankest look i could and said "I hope I look 1,000 years old" because that's about all i could think. and he just walked away. and i've not dyed my hair since because every time i go to do it i think of that jagoff and I am like 'fuck it'.
posted by Ennis Tennyone at 6:37 AM on January 5 [34 favorites]


pixlboi: I would recommend stressing kindness over niceness. I tend to associate "being nice" with smoothing things over, not rocking the boat, &c. "Pleasing, agreeable, likable"—all tend to be at the expense of the self, in my experience.
posted by XtinaS at 7:06 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


It is a fine article and not to derail but did her mom really tell her that 'hitting/kicking a guy in the balls is the same as rape?' Because I've been around for more than half a century and I never heard anything like this.
posted by fixedgear at 9:12 AM on January 5


Because I've been around for more than half a century and I never heard anything like this.

Well, did you talk to her mom?
posted by XtinaS at 9:20 AM on January 5 [16 favorites]


> We’ve been told time and time again that prettiness and likability will protect us from harm

Nobody ever told me this. Raise your hand if someone has told you this.


[raises hand]

Of course I have, constantly, in a thousand ways.

In my professional life, if I object to a coworker being personally insulting, or taking credit for my work, or otherwise being disrespectful, I'm being "emotional" or "dramatic," no matter how cooly and logically and objectively I state my case. It'll hurt my career, you know, being so "emotional."

When I'm catcalled or hit on, and I scowl or ignore or talk back, the cajoling turns into name-calling -- I'm a mockingly or dismissively called a "dyke" before they progress to more menacingly calling me "bitch" and then "cunt." Those last two are threats. They're meant to scare me and shame me for making [some random guy] angry. (And wait, hold up, "make him angry?" That's the way we usually say this, but it turns me into the perpetrator, responsible for managing some random dude's feelings about my reaction to his action. But if I were just nicer...)

I could easily come up with another five or six commonplace, ordinary examples of how women are constantly told that prettiness and likability will protect us from harm. I mean, anti-getting-raped training starts nearly from birth, such as the way we dress toddler-age girls in dresses and then gently admonish them to be "ladylike" and sit with knees together.
posted by desuetude at 9:53 AM on January 5 [14 favorites]


pixlboi, something I wish someone had told me when I was a girl is that the amount of politeness expected from us is often greater than the amount actually required, that kindness and human decency don't necessarily mean being that expected amount of nice, and that if a line gets crossed we're under no obligation to be nice about it. Like, nice is good but boundaries are better.

I can never hurt them as much as they’ve hurt us (nor do I have the heart to), but can I hurt them at all?

This bit broke the piece for me. I share much of Davies' rage and frustration, but this sounds like still paying enough attention to men's expectations to defy them.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 10:03 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


From the piece: I was a girl who mostly hung around boys because I hadn’t yet learned that female friendships, though infinitely more confusing, were also infinitely more rewarding.

While the author clearly needed to get out of that group, I'm so tired of seeing this expressed as a universal truth. The accompanying inference is often "Women who don't follow this model for cultivating friendship, you need to try harder!" Yet, didn't we have a thousands-of-responses thread not too long ago that, among other things, covered "Women, try harder!"?


I don't get "try harder" from that at all, I get that if a woman doesn't find value in female friendships, she would do well to consider why that is and what beliefs she may have internalized about the value of friendships with men versus friendships with women. Also a suggestion that if a woman can drop the ideas we get indoctrinated with about how other women are too high maintenance as friends, or will always be in competition, or whatever, she may find that female friendships are rewarding and fulfilling.
posted by Lexica at 10:32 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]


Nobody ever told me this. Raise your hand if someone has told you this.

Oh, honey. I've been hearing this since I first went out and got the haircut I wanted, an inch-long pixie cut, down from a three-to-five inch bob, at age twenty. My mother told me this explicitly and implicitly every time I did anything remotely novel with my appearance since until I lost my temper and called her out on it in public and then had to deal with the fallout. My life has been a series of people trying to gently and subtly ask me whether I am aware of how dykey I look and whether I am okay with unseen, unheard strangers who might attack me over it, or who elsewise want me to tone my tendency towards loud outbursts or waspish comments "just in case", to "keep you safe."

I look like this right now, minus the lipstick which I often don't bother with. I buzzed my hair again on New Year's Eve, partly as a symbol of how I was feeling, partly because it felt like a good transitional ritual to mark the new year, and partly because it had gotten too damn long for me and I enjoy having very short hair. I've been buzzing it off and on since last March, when I wanted to dress up as Negasonic Teenage Warhead for a local con, and kept it ever since; so it's been about nine months. It's been interesting, and I say that as the girl who was always the unpretty one growing up; my sister was always the nice one, the sweet one, the likeable one. It hasn't kept me safer, as far as I can tell; it makes me more threatening, maybe, but being the threatening person makes you a target as often as it removes you from the pool of targets, so I don't know that that's especially an advantage or a cost.

But it is interesting.
posted by sciatrix at 10:42 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


What it has in common with the "rotten asshole" is the thrill of offending someone's sensibilities. Where it differs is in what does it take to offend them.
posted by RobotHero at 10:52 AM on January 5


I wanted to dress up as Negasonic Teenage Warhead for a local con

Just when I was thinking "What?!?? Monster Magnet named their greatest song after a comic character?!??" I discovered the character was named after the song, and order was restored in the world...but for how long?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:59 AM on January 5


> I know that in many ways it's silly (and I do other much more concrete acts of protest) but I needed to express my anger and part of that is looking on the outside the way I feel on the inside.

I'm delighted and relieved to see that I am far from alone in doing this, and feeling like this about it.

I haven't shaved my armpits since the election.
posted by desuetude at 12:52 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


I haven't shaved my armpits since 1994 ✊
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:27 PM on January 5 [8 favorites]


From the piece: I was a girl who mostly hung around boys because I hadn’t yet learned that female friendships, though infinitely more confusing, were also infinitely more rewarding.

While the author clearly needed to get out of that group, I'm so tired of seeing this expressed as a universal truth. The accompanying inference is often "Women who don't follow this model for cultivating friendship, you need to try harder!" Yet, didn't we have a thousands-of-responses thread not too long ago that, among other things, covered "Women, try harder!"?

I don't get "try harder" from that at all, I get that if a woman doesn't find value in female friendships, she would do well to consider why that is and what beliefs she may have internalized about the value of friendships with men versus friendships with women.


I did, and I also feel burned by the assumption that this is universally true. I was terrified of women well into my early twenties, not because I didn't see the value of female friendships, but because my nastiest traumas were inflicted by women or other girls. How much value I assigned to friendships with other girls was immaterial relative to their interest in communicating to me and everybody else how little value I had. I felt safer with boys, because once they determined I was unfuckable they would ignore me, which seemed like the best I could hope for from any peers.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 2:34 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


What it has in common with the "rotten asshole" is the thrill of offending someone's sensibilities. Where it differs is in what does it take to offend them.

Right. The men Davies describes offend by doing, attacking, invading, dismissing. They offend by committing offenses.

Women so often offend men merely by being in the way that is most natural to them. Not acting, but appearing and existing. There's no such thing as a rotten asshole haircut. (as distinct from haircuts that assholes have.) A haircut cannot harm someone by existing. A fat body cannot harm someone by existing. A body that is not touched without consent harms nobody.

Being offensive to the monstrous is a virtue.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:05 PM on January 5 [26 favorites]



Right. The men Davies describes offend by doing, attacking, invading, dismissing. They offend by committing offenses.

Women so often offend men merely by being in the way that is most natural to them. Not acting, but appearing and existing. There's no such thing as a rotten asshole haircut. (as distinct from haircuts that assholes have.) A haircut cannot harm someone by existing. A fat body cannot harm someone by existing. A body that is not touched without consent harms nobody.

Being offensive to the monstrous is a virtue.

There was a time in my life where I lived with a multitude of different people, some were friends and workmates that I knew fairly well and some were people that knew people I knew and didn't know well or hang out with much.
There was one guy, while drunk made a comment about the type of flannel pajama pant that I usually wore at home. Women shouldn't wear them because they weren't sexy AT ALL. He would love if I didn't wear them. This was a dude I barely talked too, mostly saw in passing because we worked at different times and just didn't care about beyond civil roommate type politeness. (Ten people lived in the house). But my pants bothered him because it wasn't sexy...

His comments did change my pant habits though. I made sure to always wear my best flannel pants whenever we were home together because I am a rotten asshole when it comes to shyte like this.
posted by Jalliah at 3:26 PM on January 5 [18 favorites]


As I went out the house this morning I felt like, 'wow I've got it together. I really feel like I'm pulling off the style of someone I admire ... can't think who, oh well'

Not till lunch did I figure I was rocking 'pre transformation' Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada. With somewhat more angry glitter make up. But you know, 2017.
posted by Augenblick at 8:16 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, I get a certain pleasure out of that moment in a discussion with a man, when he's trying to blithely stomp over what I said with condescension he expects me to savor like fine wine, when he realizes I'm smarter than he is.

There's always a nervous laugh. And a lean back. And a dismissive comment. And suddenly I'm not fun to talk to anymore. Suddenly they'd rather be anywhere but there. Suddenly they're uncomfortable.

I don't normally enjoy other peoples' discomfort - except in this very specific instance, which has happened a lot. I know they'll gloss over it soon, dismissing me, but I hope it lodges in their heads like a thorn, disturbing their sleep one night out of ten.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:14 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


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