Egypt’s fight for freedom and democracy is increasingly met with public sexual assaults. In addition to assault, rape and sexual harassment, rape-like virginity tests and tortures may also be administered. Or perhaps a woman will be dragged naked on the ground.
There’s a reason for that.
Many sexist men fear women’s power or the chaos of a receding patriarchy. But women’s rights are also symbolic of freedom for all, so best to snuff it out and demoralize other agitators.
The tormentors are aided, wittingly or not, by the media. As Laura Bates at The Women’s Media Center points out, article titles typically label it all “sexual-harassment” even though the behavior is much crueler: “grabbing, groping, stripping, touching and penetrating—acts that are more accurately described as ‘sexual assault’ or ‘rape.’”
She says the dismissive language is part of a wider trend:
In India, the term “Eve teasing” is popularly used to describe the public harassment, assault, or molestation of women. The term has gained global familiarity, spreading to other countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal and being used by the international media.
“Eve teasing.” Eve, a weak, lying temptress. Suspicion is cast upon the woman, herself.
And if it’s all her fault, she feels shame. Leopard, over at Crates and Ribbons, says shame can lead a woman to see her whole self as flawed with self-worth fading until she can no longer face public scrutiny and defend herself.
“Eve” joined by “teasing” tells us that the crime is small, “a bit of fun,” Bates says. It’s not serious or threatening and the perpetrators mean no harm. Anyone who objects can’t take a joke.
The problem is so severe that it has caused at least 14 women to commit suicide in Bangladesh, young men have been murdered in Mumbai for trying to protect their female friends, a 17-year-old Indian girl has acid thrown in her face for daring to resist it. It doesn’t seem particularly funny.
If women are at fault and the “teasers” mean no real harm, who will stop the assaults?
Check out the Diet Coke ad above.
Do you react like these women?
- Aaaah, awesome
- I was like :O when i saw this commercial
- ooh la la! like like like, all I need, no sugar, no calories!
And Coke’s personal favorite:
- Hot damn I need a Coke.
Or like these men?
- Bad commercial, kinda degrading for women…
- kinda sexist, no? Imagine a group of guys rolling the coke can to a hot girl, that then gets splattered with coke on her top and takes it off while they stare… yeah … id wanna see that commercial!
- I feel very violated as a man to be viewed as a slave laboring, sex toy meant for the amusement of females. It’s almost to hard to bear watching this demonstrable evidence of female oppression in our society. I don’t think women would be laughing if this video was the contrary. Women are nothing but misandristic swines. We have to unite my brothers and break this new established misandry system. Wahh
Oh no, do I have to start competing with guys who look like THAT?! (We ladies can relate having had to compete with Brooklyn Decker-types for years.)
I don’t like how he’s demeaned before he’s ogled. (On being demeaned — or being demeaned and ogled — the ladies can relate and commiserate.)
An alternative translation:
Women aren’t the only ones who are objectified! And women like to objectify, too, so quit yer whining!
If so, these guys think this ad is equivalent to what women are pelted with every day. It’s not.
First, sexiness is a part of the human experience. So if either men or women are portrayed as sexy some of the time, no big deal. Our sexuality is a part of our humanity.
The problem comes, in part, from bombardment by an impossible beauty ideal, leaving plenty of women feeling bad about themselves. Guys increasingly face this problem, but not at nearly the same level.
Also, women are almost ALWAYS the sexy ones, and that is the PRIMARY way they are portrayed. The imbalance communicates that women exist to sexually please men. That’s their main purpose, and without reciprocation.
And then women are hurt by men who learn — however unconsciously – to think of women as sexual-pleasure objects. So women may be treated as things and not people. Some men will use and abuse them. Their lovers may only care about their own pleasure and not make emotional connection. Their lovers may treat them like interchangeable objects. They may rudely ogle others while ignoring their partner. Taken to extreme, some men kidnap women for sex slavery, or go to prostitutes who have been kidnapped and enslaved.
Because if women are just objects, no feelings to worry over.
If women and men were BOTH portrayed in multidimensional ways, with one part being “sexy” — and outside of impossible body ideals (variety is the spice of life!) then “sexy” images needn’t be a problem for either gender.
As you drive to work you see billboards with scantily clad men drawing your attention to products that they gracefully caress. Other men bend over in ways that make you want sex with them. In some ads women lord it over submissive men.
You arrive at your ad agency, and as Creative Director you take a look at new ideas your copywriters have brought:
2) The silhouette of a man with a beer body and a foam head appears. Copy reads, “You never forget your first guy.”
3) Two women surgeons sit near a male patient who is sprawled over an operating table, dressed in just a thong. A scalpel “knife’s” his body in an ad for a TV show called “Nip Tuck.”
4) A man didn’t make coffee right so his wife spanks him.
In this world women are the dominant sex consumers who expect men to “turn them on,” passively open to them, and submit to them — sexually and otherwise. And if they don’t behave, the men will be punished.
Here’s a video on how such a world would look:
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This picture of Steve Carell, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert posing like female supermodels is making its way around the web:
(Is Stephen Colbert so hot because he’s not wearing glasses? Or is it that pose?)
Over at The Gender Press a “side-by-side” comparison of real Victoria’s Secret models and men posing to look like them is jarring. The women look sexy, but I’m not sure the men do. We are definitely not used to seeing men posed “sexily” in that way.
This superhero image has also gotten around:
Ready and willing, these guys may strike terror in the hearts of villains. But not for fear of getting beaten up.
The Gender Press offers another take on the theme:
No if’s, and’s or butts with these Avengers. Unless gender is switched — in Kevin Bolk’s parody.
Men come across as tough and strong, as assertive or aggressive. Or at least standing upright.
Women are more likely sitting or lying on the floor, maybe caressing themselves or an object. And if at all possible, their butts or breasts are aimed at us.
Even when women are depicted as tough, best to add sexy and stir? Even as we move outside the box, we get put back in it.
We should not ignore the effects porn can have on a man’s self-image. I knew a man who was unconfident because his erection was “only 17cm long” (around 7″) and he could last “only up to 20 minutes.” When I asked what he thought was normal, he said in porn everyone had a foot-long penis and could keep going for an hour on end.
I asked whether it had occurred to him that if a normal woman were penetrated for an hour by a foot-long object, she would most certainly end up in the emergency room.
He was dumbfounded.
That’s a blog comment from Natalie, to which a Mark responded:
It is absolutely true that if men are holding women to a higher level of expectation in sexual performance, men are also holding themselves to a higher level of expectation. Yes, men are also conditioned to think that they need to have a monster-sized penis and last for several hours without ejaculating.
A lot of men find themselves competing with porn stars and coming up short. Besides huge cocks men may have to compete with idealized physiques.
On the other hand, plenty of “ugly” male stars manage to get “perfect” looking women. The “ugly” stars are hired to help Average Joe feel like he really can get that girl on screen: “If she likes sex with him she’ll looove sex with me!” But when Average Joe can’t nab Miss Perfect he may wonder what’s wrong.
Upping the ante, porn stars come every time. What if Average Joe can’t? And what if his partner, Average Jane, can’t either? And when she does, it takes more time than expected.
And, why don’t the same moves that “work” in porn work on all of his partners? And why don’t they all love threesomes, orgies, anal, facials, swallowing, bondage… In porn women are always horny and just need a man to satisfy them.
Now add on guy-talk. As WebMd put it:
When men do talk, they often puff themselves up to their peers. Less apt than women to discuss their insecurities and more inclined to exaggerate their exploits, men paint distorted pictures of their sex lives for one another.
So it seems like everyone else gets more exciting sex, more often, and with more partners.
Most people want pleasure and connectedness from sex. But then feel short-changed if their sex lives aren’t porn-worthy.
Maybe we’d be happier if we remembered what we really want.
Cross-posted at The Good Men Project.
A boy from a Pakistani tribal region was accused of a crime. In retribution, the local Council sentenced his sister to be gang raped. As though these rapists would be the heroes of justice.
As Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times:
As members of the high status tribe danced in joy, four men stripped her naked and took turns raping her. Then they forced her to walk home naked in front of 300 villagers.
Her next duty was clear: commit suicide to rid herself and her family of the stigma of being raped.
But instead, she accused her attackers, propounding the shocking notion that shame lies in raping, rather than in being raped.
When I tell this story my students are shocked. Of course the shame lies in raping.
But right here in America too many think otherwise.
A bevy of reports have been telling the same story: young high school men sexually assault a young woman, take pictures and share them to brag about their conquest as she is belittled and blamed. Rape is something to brag about. Rape makes the young men heroes.
That’s what happened to 15-year-old Audrie Pott of Saratoga, California who was gang raped not too far from my home. After passing out from drinking at a party she woke up to find that her body was covered with humiliating messages scribbled in black magic marker:
She woke up with her shorts off and arrows, circles and nasty comments scrawled on her body. The left side of her face was colored black.
Arrows pointed to her genitals. Scribbles on her breast proclaimed, “(blank) was here.”
One suspect told investigators that he thought it was funny to draw all over her.
She later heard rumors that football players had sexually assaulted her and taken pictures, which they shared with friends and most of the football team. She had seen students at her high school crowding around the cell phone of one of the boys.
Eight days later Audrie hung herself in her bathroom. A note she left read:
My life is ruined. I can’t do anything to fix it. I just want this to go away. My life is over. The people I thought I could trust f-ed me over and then tried to lie to cover it up. I have a reputation for a night I don’t even remember and the whole school knows.
Rapists are heroes and a victim takes her life. Sounds a lot like tribal Pakistan.
They’re called privates for a reason. I’m wearing pants, for f-’s sake. When people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my cock, I feel like that wasn’t part of the deal.
Female celebs are objectified all the time. Remember how Anne Hathaway’s nipples seemed more important than Anne Hathaway’s Oscar? Even Princesses get caught in the net, viz., Kate Middleton’s “Boobgate.”
Women are supposed to be used to this sort of thing. But men aren’t used to it.
A lot of guys probably think that objectifying is no biggie – and maybe even a complement – until men are.
When sociologist, Beth Quinn, asked men how they thought women felt about being stared at and commented on, most hadn’t given it much thought. It’s just something guys do. It’s no big deal.
But when she asked them to imagine waking up in a woman’s body things changed. Guys typically said they did not “know how to be a woman.” But as they talked, they mirrored what women said. Now that their identities and abilities – and humanity – were ignored, they didn’t like it and wanted to avoid it.
Here’s what one guy said:
I would probably have to be very concerned about my attire in the lab. Because in a lot of cases I’m working at a bench and hunched over, in which case your shirt, for example, would open up and I would just have to be concerned about that.
In everyday life he needn’t worry about his clothing or how he looks at every angle. Suddenly he does. And sometimes it doesn’t matter what you wear, you will get commented on anyway.
Turns out, men, women and Jon Hamm don’t really like being reduced to being all about sex and nothing else.
I don’t understand the girls here. They say they want men to be emotionally responsive and sensitive, that they want us to be good listeners and really caring. So I’ve become all that. I’m a really good friend, a good listener, sensitive, and all the rest. And they all want to go out with these macho assholes! I don’t get it! What do women want?
Sociologist, Michael Kimmel, is an expert on men and masculinity. He says this is the question guys ask him most often.
Turns out, certain negative traits are associated with a rise in both men’s and women’s popularity. Remember the “mean girls” who top the high school pecking order?
Luckily, what makes “bad boys” and “mean girls” appealing isn’t their badass-ness. Good guys and gals can actually copy a few benign “bad boy” traits and become both desired and pleasant.
Social research, as reported by The Good Men Project, finds that personality traits named the “dark triad” are correlated with physical attractiveness.
- Narcissism – defined as an overly developed sense of self-worth and entitlement matched with intense egotism.
- Machiavellianism – defined by the person’s reliance on manipulation to get what he or she desires without regard to others as well as a cynical dismissal of morality as “for other people.”
- Psychopathy – a loaded term; it doesn’t refer to a violent maniac, but to someone defined by reckless thrill-seeking, selfishness, lack of remorse and affect and a certain level of superficial charm.
Turns out, narcissism is most associated with being found beautiful. But it’s not the narcissism that matters. Rather, ego-centric folks just carry themselves with confidence and adorn themselves in the latest styles.
Researchers took pictures of a few “dark triad” types along with pics of a few “normal” folks. In one picture everyone dressed in their usual clothing. In another everyone wore plain clothing and hairstyles, and no makeup.
Narcissists were deemed more attractive than others when dressed in their usual fashionable ways. But in the “plain” photos they seemed no more alluring than anyone else.
Looks like all you need is confidence and decent fashion sense – or someone who can help you with fashion sense — to come across as more appealing. And in fact, you’ll have an edge over the bad boys and mean girls because the “Dark Triad” make great first impressions but most people run away once they get to know them.
I became the detective, trying to determine whether he was right for me. Was he devoted, caring? Empathetic? Did he appreciate me? Was he in love with me or was I just a passing fancy?
He thought understanding each other was overrated.
My sleuthing confirmed my initial attraction – that he was deep. Unless the subject was sex and relationship, which he thought were the same thing. Big problem!
I eventually learned that this dynamic – men seeking sex and women seeking answers – is not unusual. It is even reflected in the erotica we seek.
Cognitive neuroscientist, Ogi Ogas says that men search the internet for two-minute clips that are all about skin and explicit sex. Women’s erotica is more like detective novel meets romance, and takes hours to read and digest. (The number of women romance readers and male online porn viewers are about the same. About one in 10 men are into romance while one in 10 women check out porn clips.)
The men’s interest is simple, uncomplicated. But women more likely want character-driven stories that reveal the lover’s nature. Sex is not for its own sake, and not with impersonal strangers.
As Ogas notes, the female cortex is highly developed and skillfully scrutinizes all available evidence – social, emotional and physical, somewhat consciously but largely not. All this leads to a general feeling of favorability or suspicion: Is he committed and kind? Is he a rouge? A player? Only if the detective work leads to a stamp of approval will physical and psychological arousal unite.
Men’s desire has been likened to an on/off switch, while women’s to a complex circuit board.
Why? Who knows? Some will point to evolutionary psychology: To best reproduce themselves women need a man who will stick around and support their children with resources. So women must be careful, picky. But men (having a great deal of sperm) best reproduce themselves by willy-nilly spreading their seed. It’s a popular theory, but I have my doubts since women in some cultures behave a lot like our sexual stereotype of men. American Indians prior to European contact, for instance.
Others say that in a world where women have less power, women’s lives are more affected by men than vice-versa, so they need to be more careful, even if their sleuthing isn’t very conscious. Women are more likely to follow husbands who are transferred in their careers than vice-versa, for instance. Also, men’s social status affects women more than women’s status affects men’s. When a waitress marries a dentist, her social status immediately rises to his. Not so much for the trucker who marries a female business executive.
And since men are typically bigger and stronger, abused women suffer greater injuries and have more difficultly defending themselves.
Women are also more likely to depend on men, financially, because they are more likely to stay home full-time with kids. Is he dependable? Can he keep a job? If men leave, women in our society bear all the responsibility for children (versus Ancient American Indians who parented communally).
Also, women’s sex drive is typically lower in our culture (largely due to repression, which is due to sexism), perhaps leaving women wanting emotionally connected sex more than variety and experimentation.
And of course, women were raised on a diet of Disney princesses living happily ever after with their one and only true love. Could have an effect.
Meanwhile, bombarded by women-as-object images, men come to see women’s bodies as objects that are all about sex, and women’s body parts sex-signals. Hence the simple look-arousal response. (Surprisingly, the breast fetish seems to be learned, not natural.)
When women and men so often have contradictory ways of seeing and being, you have to wonder why (for about 95% of the population) women and men are thrown together in the first place.
Yet, when it comes to relationships — and not mere erotica — there is more coming together. In fact, guys are getting more romantic and seem to be quite relationship-oriented. So maybe in real life it’s more often a match, after all.
A new study on men’s breast size preferences may or may not be surprising.
University of Westminster researchers showed 361 British men 3-D models of women with different bust sizes and asked which woman they found most attractive.
A lot of women think that men only like big breasts, but this study says otherwise. Yes, nearly half – 44% – favored larger busts. But more than half didn’t, with one third preferring medium-sized gals and another quarter saying smaller is better. So there’s a range.
And, the researchers focused on white men because prior studies showed that preference varies by ethnicity. Once again, it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.
It all goes against pop evolutionary psychology which claims men want bigger breasts because they indicate health and fertility. First of all, most men don’t prefer larger over smaller. Second, if men preferred larger, then those genes would have been spread more widely and we’d have a lot more large busted women around today. Finally, there is no evidence that large breasts are associated with better health or fertility.
And even men who love big breasts may come to love more petite women, and vice-versa, as many can attest.
So ladies, you needn’t get expensive and potentially dangerous surgeries (which need to be redone every ten years) for implants.
And here’s another reason you don’t need them: Men who preferred big boobs were more likely to be sexist.
After indicating their breast preferences the guys were surveyed on how much they objectified women, felt hostility toward them and practiced benevolent sexism (seeing women as weak and needing protection).
Turns out, a preference for large breasts was most common among men in all three of those sexist categories, and most especially, among those who saw women as weak.
Now, men who are partial to buxom women aren’t always sexist. The Western world acts like “bigger is better” so no surprise that many men come to think so.
At the same time, the pattern makes a certain amount of sense. One researcher suggested that,
It is arguable that benevolently sexist men perceived larger female breasts as attractive because larger breast size on a woman is associated with perceived femininity.
And if you are going to objectify, it helps to easily see the crucial body parts.
That said, women should be confident and proud of their bodies, however they are shaped. That confidence will attract the best guys.