Beauty: HuffPo Writer Almost Gets it

Objectification is depressing.  Here, have a cat pic.

Objectification is depressing. Here, have a cat pic.

Huffington Post Writer Almost Gets It, but Then Fails:

In this essay at the Huffington Post, Lori Day takes on the subject of how men don’t have to be beautiful the way women do and she nearly, nearly nails it:

“Women of all ages, races, body types, and occupations can now show society that they are equally deserving of being objectified — not just the young, thin, white hotties who typically get that special honor. Today, if you’re female, you’re never too old, too large, or too anything to be photographed or painted while naked or scantily clad, and duly lauded for your physical attributes. Hooray!”

Bonus points for the sarcasm.  The article starts out so promising, with just a minor flub here:

“It is legitimate to want to broaden our extremely narrow definitions of female beauty beyond extremely thin, extremely young, extremely white, and extremely western ideals.”

No, it’s not legitimate, because as this very article points out, all expanding the definition of beauty does is expand the range of women to be objectified and sexualized.  Maybe that’s a short-term gain for those  non-conventionally beautiful who want social approval and husbands, but it does nothing to advance the interests of women as a class.

As I’ve pointed out before on this very blog, beauty is a brutally oppressive hierarchy that keeps women down.  As with all hierarchies, the end goal of feminism is not to expand, but to dismantle it.

She goes on about objectification at some length, all of it good, and then comes the massive fail:

“Look, I’m not foolish enough to think that the male gaze will ever go away (or even should), nor do I believe it will ever cease being a driving force behind what a lot of women themselves have come to view as empowering. ”

Like other liberal feminists, she’s setting her sights pretty low.

The Male Gaze turns women into objects, not people, so damn right it should go away, and in a post-patriarchal society, it will.  The problem is that Day can’t imagine a world without patriarchy.  To her, male domination and the dehumanization of women is just “natural” and a given; all we can do is angle for a better deal with our masters.    Women who have come to view themselves as “empowered” by catering to the Male Gaze aren’t really empowered, as Day seems to know but won’t come right out and say.

But she goes on to say “I understand human nature, but I still want more for girls and women.”

Without dismantling the patriarchy it ain’t gonna happen.  And the first step to dismantling the patriarchy is acknowledging that it is a social construct, and not “human nature”.

12 thoughts on “Beauty: HuffPo Writer Almost Gets it

  1. What do you think of the non-profit called Beauty Redefined? They do take an anti-porn stance which is good.

  2. Great critique of this article. I agree with your points. I actually did a post not too long ago about why I think beauty shouldn’t matter. To me it just perpetuates the idea that women’s looks equal their worth. I think that idea needs to change.

  3. I’ve changed my mantra from ‘all bodies are beautiful’ to ‘beauty is not required’ and ‘women are not decoration’. The problem is we are taught that if you are not beautiful, you are ugly, where the reality is that if you are not ‘beautiful’, you are actually fully human. You know, like men, who never aspire to ‘beauty’. Ask yourself what level of ‘beauty’ you would voluntarily maintain if nobody else would ever see you. That is how you would choose to look, if you could actually choose.

  4. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: Do not fear objectification, travel in higher planes of awareness by letting go of negative programming.

    • Head in the sand philosophies aren’t for me. Only incredibly privileged people can afford to dabble in them. In my reality, women suffer every day as a direct result of objectification. I’ll go on being a feminist and fighting it, thanks.

      • What pureartanddesign wrote is true … in a way. You can only change what you do. Which is why it is useless to try and educate men on feminism, and better to just not be friends with them until they have educated themselves.

        I agree that pretending the misogyny isn’t there is bullshit, though.

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