You’d be so pretty if…

you smiled!

lost 20 pounds!

didn’t have that short hair!

or it wasn’t dyed purple!

didn’t have tattoos/piercings! Why would a girl as pretty as you DO that to yourself, anyways?

Maybe because it is MY body, not public freakin’ property, and I will do whatever the hell I please with it. Maybe because I don’t, actually, spend every waking moment concerned about whether my appearance is pleasing to a random stranger on the street. Or maybe I do it just to piss you off!

Reading a few blog posts got me thinking about this, and it’s something I’ve seen mentioned on Feministing before. Mostly in the “You’d be prettier if you smiled!” “Smile for me!” etc. comments that women have mentioned getting from strangers - which absolutely baffles me, as I’ve never received that (at least from a stranger, maybe from a relative…). Not that I don’t believe it, of course, it just seems…creepy. However, I have got (especially when working at Target - something about being a cashier makes a person especially open for public comment, apparently) the hair/tattoo questions a lottt. Of course, that was when I had fun hair…but anyways! It always really, really bothered me and I couldn’t figure out exactly why, so I just chalked it up to rudeness and moved on. It wasn’t until a few months ago when I read one of the posts on Feministing about it that I could put my finger on it - because my body is MINE and these comments assume that it exists for someone else.

I’ve even got comments like “What does your mother/boyfriend think about it?”. Mother? I moved out almost two years ago, and while I do love my mother to death and have a great deal of respect for her, I would like to think that she knows I’m an adult and will do what I want with my body. Matt? Holy hell, if Matt ever tried to tell me I wasn’t allowed to get any more tattoos or to dye my hair funky colors, the shit would hit the fan. The fact that someone would even ask that casually makes me a little sick to my stomach, because if he had that amount of control over me it would actually be an abusive, unhealthy relationship, thanks. No matter what anyone says or how they try to convince me otherwise. And if I tried to tell Matt how to dress or what to do with his hair, I would be a controlling bitch and he would be whipped. The standard, I’m seein’ double! That’s not to mention the “Why, none of the nice boys will want to date you now!” comment after seeing my first tattoo, which, if I’m remembering right, actually came from my (nice, but rabidly misguided) grandmother. Well, grandma, you’re right, now that my reason for existence is gone, I just don’t know what to do with myself.

Of course, I have several male friends who have or have had tattoos, piercings, dyed hair and mohawks, etc. and while they do get the general disgust and rudeness from ignorant people, I have NEVER heard anyone say anything like the above to them, or heard them complain of it. Mens’ bodies aren’t public property - womens’ are.

I think my favorite thing in the Jezebel comments was this:

If you’d like a guy’s opinion i’ll just throw it out there: (yes, we wimminz always need a man’s opinion before having a thought of our own, kthx)

Perhaps evaluate whether you believe these men know that they are flirting and doing so unwantedly. If they know this and continue to pester, it’s not bitchy to tell them they’re being offensive. If they don’t know the flirting is unwanted politely tell them your not interested. (Of course, it’s on us to tell them that the attention is unwanted, because it’s assumed that telling a random stranger what to do with her body is ok, or that women eating alone must want some male company, etc. That’s not, ya know, screwy or anything)

…blither blather…

Lastly, be careful of the slippery slope that is becoming cynical, be careful of becoming overly judgemental where you just start assuming all guys are perverts and jerks when they really aren’t doing anything at all. Also don’t make yourself believe that all eyes are on you when they really aren’t, a guy’s eyes move around a lot and take in the environment a lot. It’s a complicated mixed message for a man to know that woman appreciate a guy that is confident and not afraid to approach a women, (especially if that woman is presenting herself in a manner that makes her appear inviting to interact with) but that when he does work up the nerve to do this he may be making her uncomfortable and in turn make himself feel embarrassed when he’s already very nervous.

Summary: it is YOUR fault if a man approaches you and makes you feel uncomfortable! Jeez, don’t assume they’re leering at you! And gods forbid, definitely don’t “present yourself in a manner that makes you appear inviting to interact with”, because then you definitely deserve the attention. And that manner is what exactly? What I’m wearing? My makeup? Oh I forget, women only think of their appearance in terms of looking good for other people. I can’t get dressed up for myself, because then it’s assumed that I’m dressing for men, and it’s automatically okay for them to hit on me. So I guess once I’m married I’ll…what…wear a burlap sack all the time?

I have just about ranted myself out here, but I will also say that this? Totally. Screwed. Up. The fact that the first movie about a shooting where several (14 I think?) women were killed simply for being a woman, is filmed to show things through a male perspective? Um. WHAT?! Yes, we totally need that, just like we need a movie about the Holocaust from the point of view of a Catholic, that makes sense doesn’t it?

Despite my complete inability to keep up with most net-based shows, no matter how badass (Everyday Hardcore, I’m looking at you!) this video alone makes me want to start watching this show.

This post brought to you at 1:15 (and counting) in the morning because I accidentally took a 2-3 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon. And now I can’t sleep. Argh.

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