Au Lecteur

What are YOU looking at?

Posted in Feministing by aulecteur on April 21, 2012

I rode my bike to work again today. It’s been working out pretty well. It’s not hot yet so I can bike in my work clothes and long coat – tres chic. I’m usually wearing a skirt – with leggings and a long coat, hakuna mattata.

Today, my skirt was a little too restrictive to allow for the full range of motion required to peddle a bike, so I had to hike it up. (Making me the girl with a short skirt with a lonnnnng jacket. na na na na na na). Anyway, all this got me thinking about that Globe and Mail article from last month called “Why men can’t – and shouldn’t – stop staring at women.” One day, Ian Browne, a middle-aged, male features writer, needed to write something for his column. Instead of trying a little harder that day, he wasted his word count on perving out about girls bums, particularly a 20-something riding a bike in a miniskirt. He used anecdotal evidence from his own pervings and the misguided pervings of others to reason away the objectification, and disembodiment of women.

Disembody: (v.) Separate or free (something) from its concrete form.

Two weeks later, Margaret Wente, another middle-aged columnist with the Globe and Mail decided to chime in from her perspective and in defence of Browne. She said he was brave to speak up about the harmless male gaze. She extolled the erotic power of a hot 20 year old girl. She said she missed being ogled now that she’s old, wrinkled, saggy, and unlovable. Poooor Margaret Wente. You got old and ugly and the world stopped loving you.

Wente’s defence of Browne relies on the ageism argument. She completely misses the point that 1. the male gaze should not be the source of a woman’s identity and self-perception;  2. why does perception of beauty count first? The point is to embrace your value as a person, a whole person not just body parts and male wish fulfillment. The point is to not feel dejected because you no longer fit the socially constructed ideal of beauty.

Margaret should talk to Ashley Judd who speaks so well about this issue of internalizing patriarchal attitudes about what a woman should be. The message we should be telling women and girls is to value themselves outside the looking glass and that it’s not okay to reduce a woman to a hit list of disembodied parts.

If you still don’t see the point, read this amazing response, laden with sarcastic hypocrisy, to Browne’s article by Jezebel contributor Lindy West, “The Top 29 Reasons Why It’s Okay to Creepily Stare at Women’s Butts.”

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