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”.