Men Who Hate Pretty Women
Let’s say I see a woman and she looks really pretty and really clean and sexy and she’s giving off very feminine, sexy vibes. I think, wow I would love to make love to her, but I know she’s not interested. It’s a tease. A lot of times a woman knows that she’s looking really good and she’ll use that and flaunt it and it makes me feel like she’s laughing at me and I feel degraded…
If I were actually desperate enough to rape somebody it would be from wanting that person, but also it would be a very spiteful thing, just being able to say ‘I have power over you and I can do anything I want with you’ because really I feel that they have power over me just by their presence. Just the fact that they can come up to me and just melt me makes me feel like a dummy, makes me want revenge.
When talking to men about women, Michael Kimmel, one of the nation’s leading researchers on men and masculinity, found that many men’s reactions became surprisingly aggressive. He cites a Men’s Health survey which found that one third of men believed women should be reported for sexual-harassment for their provocative dress. Or, a college chaplain claimed, “The way young women dress in the spring constitutes a sexual assault upon every male within eyesight of them.”
Kimmel says the anger comes from men feeling entitled to women’s bodies. And he says that’s not so surprising given all the “come-on” scantily clad images that surround them, whether in mainstream media or porn. According to Kimmel:
Guys believe that they are entitled to women’s bodies, entitled to sex. Unfortunately for them, a significant number of women don’t see it that way. And when entitlement is thwarted guys seek revenge.
Curiously, while psychologists, feminists and the legal system see male aggression as the initiation of violence, guys describe it not as initiation but as retaliation. What are they retaliating against? The power that women have over them.
All this came as a shock to me. I had known that many men love seeing sexy women on the street, in a bar, at work… I hadn’t known that others found the same visions torturous, as they craved what they couldn’t have. And resented the “rejection.” Maybe some men feel both ways, pleasure and resentment all at once.
The opposing perspectives are striking. Men who enjoy sexy women often feel powerful, believing the women choose to dress alluringly for their pleasure, to please men. Some even think women dress provocatively to feel sexual pleasure in feeling desired. Men who feel this way are turned on, and not angry.
Whether experienced as pleasure or pain, an awful lot of men take women’s appearance personally, thinking it’s about them.
Yet most women dress for their own self-esteem, leading to a double-bind when it comes to dressing sexy: damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Women feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful because society rewards them. Their self-worth often depends on it. But then women can end up objectified — being seen as all about sex and little else, or (now we know) leaving some men angry at them.
What’s a girl to do? What’s a guy to do?
Here are some thoughts. Maybe you have some ideas, too.
Some men learn that they should have power over women so that when it’s the other way around, they may feel angry and resentful. See women as your equals — neither less-than nor better-than — and respect them.
Some men come to feel entitled to women’s bodies. Know that we are all entitled to our own bodies, first and foremost.
To those who think that women flaunt their beauty as they laugh and degrade you, know that that’s not what’s happening. Women are simply trying to do what society tells them to do: look beautiful.
Many women and men unfortunately learn to see women in one-dimensional ways that are based on narrow notions of “beauty.” How about expanded vision? Why not enjoy beauty in its many forms and see women as people rather than sexy objects. And instead of being angry at women who aren’t interested in you, see the beauty of those who are.
A commentor calling himself Ocelot wrote an interesting reaction to this that I published, with permission, as a blog post. “Seeing Women as Magic and Evil” offers help for men struggling with this issue.
Posted on December 12, 2011, in feminism, gender, men, objectification, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sex, sexism, women and tagged feminism, gender, men, men's health, objectification, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sex, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 245 Comments.