Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Marion Bartoli, Robert H. Goddard, and Why Every Woman Is Princess Peach

Everyone's talking about the Dustin Hoffman interview where he talks about society's beauty bias towards women, and deservedly so. It's an important statement about the way we treat women.

But this goes farther than just judging women by their looks. We judge women by their availability, too. We judge them by their passivity. We judge them by the rubric of Cinderella and Princess Peach.

Society judges women by their value as possessions.

It sounds extreme, but to a large extent, it's very true. I think that most women have had the experience of having a pleasant conversation with a guy, only for him to completely shut down when he finds out that you have a boyfriend/are married/are a nun engaged to Jesus. Not only that, men will often be outraged - how dare this woman waste his time?! After all, there's only one reason to strike up a conversation with a woman. She should have known that, and not wasted his time with her presence.

We see these kind of assumptions every day in the media. A few weeks ago a Wimbledon commentator said about a female tennis player:
I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you’re never going to be 5ft 11, you’re never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that’
Marion Bartoli won Wimbledon 2013.

I'm truly at a loss as to what her looks have to do with it.

Then there's the Australian soccer coach of a World Cup team, who last month after being told where to sit said:
I'll sit here. You push me around like my wife. There is a saying, it is a very ... er ... women should shut up in public. I say it to my wife at home.
And then he "apologized":
To everyone who may feel offended by that, I offer a sincere apology.
It was off the record, it was more a funny remark.
It was nothing against any women or whatever. Definitely just a complete misunderstanding.
It was off the record. I see. That seems very relevant to whether or not he said something offensive. It was "more a funny remark". Why was it humorous? Humor is the juxtaposition of the expected with the unexpected. There's no punchline. Osieck doesn't like being pushing around by his wife, and he tells her to shut up. He thinks other women should shut up too. That's not a joke, that's an opinion.

If it was nothing against women, then why must he sincerely apologize? You clarify misunderstandings. You don't apologize for them. And yet here he is, "sincerely" "apologizing".

Men expect women to please them. They believe that women should take it seriously when they're told to be quiet "like Barbie" (an inanimate, unthinking doll). The papers would never dream of headlines analyzing John Kerry's appearance, but Hillary Clinton's aesthetic appeal is of utmost importance

Women need to do three things to please men: be pretty, demure, and sexually available.

And that's a big problem, because when I hire someone for a job, or hell, want a decent conversation, I don't care about any of those three things. I care about their skills and character. Judging someone's quality as a person by their looks, their ability to smile quietly, or their willingness to have sex with me devalues them to the status of a Real Doll. Judging someone by their looks and not their capabilities turns them into an object.

:) :) :) :) :)
We don't respect objects, or value their opinions. When a Magic 8 Ball tells you yes or no, you don't take its advice seriously. Why would you? It's just a possession.

But women are expected to be demure. If we protest the status quo, we are being ungrateful and unrealistic. After all, many women choose to go into traditionally low-paying jobs (the kind that they are trained to see as their "nurturing" domain from childhood). We have to give "the system" time to adjust to the fact that women have brain stems. Expecting huge amounts of progress quickly is just absurd.

In 1919, Robert H. Goddard made spaceflight and engineering possibility with his groundbreaking paper "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes". In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world's first satellite into space. In 1969, the first human stepped onto the moon.

It took mankind exactly 50 years to go from using the telegraph to landing a spaceship on the moon. 

93 years ago women were given (how nice of the government, to grant us human rights) the right to vote in the United States. And yet today we still have articles from Forbes explaining why women need to sit down and shut up on Wall Street so that the menfolk won't be distracted. Because obviously the men should stay on Wall Street. Because men are, apparently, inherently more capable than women.

Woman. Man. Black. Disabled. Gay. Transgender. Which one of these people is the most intelligent? Which one is the kindest? Which one has the greatest ability to process non-linear thinking?

Judging people by what they are rather than who they are is demonstrably stupid.

There was a study done recently about how any comments at all about a female politician's looks harm her chances with voters. It didn't surprise me. Commenting on a female politician's looks remind the voters that she isn't a person - she's a woman. She's an ornament. She's social currency. She's a charming, smiling, dutiful reward after a man fights his complex, fascinating inner demons and becomes the hero of the story.

This plot of the most recent (2013) Mario video game.
Yes, Mario, your princess is (still) in another castle. 


  1. Wow, I really want somebody to start a blog or something now devoted to critiquing the appearance of various male political figures. Should Paul Ryan do something about his eyebrows? Were Obama's vacation flip flops out of bounds?

    See how they like it.

  2. Your commentary is even more thought-provoking and touching than Dustin Hoffman's, thank you.


  3. If people want to keep putting so much emphasis on women's looks, then an equal amount of emphasis needs to be placed on how men look. Oh wait, we can't do that. That would make the babies feel bad.

    I would totally buy a Mario game with Peach having to save Luigi. Better yet if she has to save Luigi AND Mario. :)