I often see women justify our worth based on what men think of us. I was thinking about this because I heard the song “All About That Bass” on the way home. In addition to the issues with cultural appropriation and thin shaming there is the message that fat bodies are better because “I’ve got the boom boom that all the boys chase” and that her mom said not to worry about her size because “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
I saw a post on Facebook that said “Men like meat not bones.” So men are dogs, women are dog food, and women should strive to be the food that the men/dogs find most delicious? And this empowers who now? Or the idea that fat women should feel good about ourselves because we can have sex with/date traditionally attractive guys – trying to fight the system that oppresses women by buying into that system as it applies to men.
Meanwhile Subway has a commercial suggesting that women should eat their sandwiches instead of burgers so that we can stay thin enough to look sexy in our Halloween costumes. Ignoring the issues with the idea that Subway sandwiches will keep you thinner than burgers, or that fat women can’t look sexy in costumes, the idea that women should buy things because otherwise we won’t look sexy enough is, disturbingly, a tried and true way to sell beauty and diet products
These things always seem to ignore a number of factors – that some men aren’t sexually interested in women at all, that men’s attractions vary to include women of all sizes, that some women don’t care if men are sexually attracted to them (though this doesn’t seem to matter as much since it’s about the social reward for meeting the stereotype of beauty as defined by men,) that “men” and “women” aren’t the only gender categories, that men’s preferences are developed while they are steeped in a culture that shoves a single stereotype of beauty down our throats. Oh, and THAT WOMEN’S VALUE IS NOT BASED ON WHETHER OR NOT SOME PLURALITY OF MEN WILL FUCK US.
The underpants rule applies here and so of course women are allowed to judge their value based on what men think of them, I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live. I’m suggesting that if we work to dismantle a society where all women are encouraged to believe that we should base their self-worth on how attractive men find us – and where the way that we are treated depends on it in many ways – then each of us gets to choose how we determine our value. I think that the power is in creating a world where we have real options, and then making an authentic choice, not finding a way to be ok with no choice at all.
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