Oh, internet, you fickle mistress, serving up the flavour of the day to the excitable and attention deficient masses. One day you have us whipped into a froth about the Game of Thrones rape scene (which outraged no one when it happened in the book, to a minor character, just one drop in an ocean of atrocities committed by Ramsay Bolton né Snow) and the next we completely forget about it in favour of arguing bitterly about the role of women in Mad Max. The internet is a factory churning out bad drugs, and there are days when it seems like its entire purpose is to enrage.
Lately I feel bombarded by the subject of What Men Want, Or Don’t. This is not new. Articles on how to attract, repel, ensnare, please, and not get dumped for a 20 something the second you hit middle age have been around forever. The idea that men are elusive creatures, hard to catch and harder to keep, like fucking leprechauns or something, pervades our culture. Once when I was a petite, attractive 19 year old, I was eating a Cinnzeo at the mall. A rotund older gentleman slapped his hand down on my table and blustered “You’ll never catch a husband if you eat like that!”
It occurs to me now that he may have only meant I had icing on my chin.
And so because men are extremely selective in their dating choices, and so very difficult to lure into the matrimonial trap, we women require a thorough course of study on the dos and don’ts involved in securing one of these rare beasts for our own. And thus, yesterday I found my social media peppered with shit like this and this and this and this.
Now, as my boyfriend pointed out, there are an equal number of such articles written for men about what women like and don’t, and they are often just as bullshit. And I was right about to argue that yes but there are no PUA sites for women but I was wrong.
So apparently we all spend a really mind boggling amount of time trying to figure out how to score with the opposite sex. Sorry to get all heteronormative there. Same-sex dating is its own unique challenge which I am only slightly qualified to address. But surely being of the gender you are trying to attract must take some of the frustrating mystery out of it. You don’t see lesbians going around categorizing pickup techniques, do you? Well shit.
Researching for this article is teaching me things I really don’t think I needed to know. But apparently what I definitely don’t know is how to get a man. I break nearly every one of the rules in these articles with my crazy hair and hooker red lipstick and whatever else they say you should never do, I have no idea because I really can’t be bothered to actually read most of the articles linked above. But I do know this: I don’t assume the men I see on the street are dressing or acting for my benefit, and I really wonder why the opposite is so often assumed about women.
Like this fucking guy:
Because obviously, everything I wear is a message to the men. That gorgeous redhead is not me, but every woman has at some point had a guy take it upon himself to admonish her on her dress or actions because of the message it sends to men. Now, this crazy asshole is actively harassing said redhead to the point of printing out her pictures and posting them on the street with slut shaming messages. It’s its own brand of mindfuck scary, and a somewhat extreme example.
Girls get sent home from school for a bared shoulder or knee because it distracts the boys. Conversations with strange men turn gross if I have cleavage showing and they seem genuinely surprised when that doesn’t turn out well for them. Fuckwits like the commenter in the above images believe they are entitled to harass performers for wearing costumes. And old, unattractive fellows feel compelled to lecture beautiful young women on the dangers of eating pastry before acquiring husbands.
And we go around encouraging this kind of thinking by gobbling up articles that tell us what men disapprove of in women and allowing ourselves to be convinced that our actual personalities aren’t sufficient to make us lovable. We drown in a sea of judgement, even as we are fighting off male advances with a stick. Does this seem really fucking stupid to anyone else?
Of course appearance sends a message. In some, the message is, “I have no fashion sense” or “I didn’t look in the mirror before I left the house today” or “I really need to do laundry soon”. Almost never is the intended message, “Hey you, come fuck me” or “I am desperate to attract a man with my elaborate hairstyle” Can we please try to wrap our heads around this?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to attract a mate, a fuck buddy, or whatever. But attraction is rarely ever based on the kind of judgy bullshit found in these articles and online harassers. Guys that want to go around saying what women should or shouldn’t be are never the kinds of guys one ought to attempt dating. They are in fact usually the ones who have the least success in love, and place the blame on women to save their precious egos from self examination.
This works in reverse as well. This is not in fact just another feminist rant. It is however written from the perspective of a woman who has just about had it with being told that guys who want partnership and companionship at least as much as I do are somehow out of my league unless I conform to some made up standards of beauty and behaviour. I’ve never found that to be true. I may not know How To Get a Man, but somehow this has never stopped me from getting them, and it doesn’t need to stop you, if you want one. There are lots.