My friend May Lample wrote this fantastic piece on patriarchy recently, which I read last night. This morning I was going for a run around campus, and this song came on my shuffle. I actually know the two girls in the video, met them when they were just little girls but haven’t seen them since, and I was struck by the fact that they’re both actually stunning in a very societal-approved way, and yet the song says “you put your love all over me/made me believe i was queen of the world/you said you couldnt get enough of me/til you found out that im just a girl/the lights are off/the make up’s gone/am i just too real to keep your eyes on?”. The guy realizes she’s just a girl, and away he goes.
I started wondering, did that guy really leave because he realized Ruby was a just a girl? Because she wasn’t pretty enough? Was he blind? And then I thought, that’s actually probably not why. I think girls just always default on “I’m too fat/I’m not pretty enough/I was too…” But why? Why do we do that? It can’t all just be myth, right? Somewhere, some guy has left a girl for a beautiful girl, some other guy has left a beautiful girl for a more beautiful girl, because the more beautiful girl was…well…more beautiful. But is that what usually happens? And if it isn’t, why are girls conditioned to think that’s the case?
Then, I started thinking about a conversation I had with a married friend of mine recently. She was telling me how her guy friends are really honest with her, because she’s married, so they don’t hold back, and she said, “Nava, these guys are so confused! I mean, these are like ‘good guys’, the guys you write home about, but they’re actually completely obsessed with how girls look and dress, and what it means about them to date a girl that looks like that.” “Really?!” I asked, kind of in shock. “Really, Navs. It’s like they all want to marry supermodels. Who are virgins. And cook really well. And are witty and smart. They want it all.”
I thought about that for a long time. Did that mean I had to become a dazzling, charming, chef-extraordinaire, supermodel to land a guy? Well, the supermodel part is out of the question. And exactly how many meals does this entail? And how elaborate do they have to be? I thought about this briefly, but then spent more time thinking about how sad it all was. For girls. For guys. Why are we all so confused? Shouldn’t this all be much, much simpler? Isn’t this all just much, much simpler? Are we really being shaped so easily by the media? I mean, we’re not helpless puppets in this process. But the media is a strong, shaping influence. So what do we do about it?
Finally, this evening I read this article about how women actually are perceived as sex objects, not just by men, but by other women as well. So how do we unlearn this behavior? How do women and men start to treat each other like women and men and not like things?