A discussion about THAT DIET ADVERT culminated in this response from a chap I know:
I just think that people need to stop being so hypersensitive. Women want to be equal to men, to be respected as much as men, yet all this complaining about ads that have skinny women on them makes women look like they’re weak-minded, emotionally unstable, and frankly, pathetic. And women are not that. You don’t see men go on a huge rampage every time an advert depicts them as bumbling useless idiots – that’s because men are expected to behave like adults, to see it as just another dumb advert that’s trying to sell something that’s probably useless, and move on.
It’s about time women stopped being treated like children, everyone needs to stop trying to protect them from every little tiny thing that might hurt their feelings. Women are perfectly capable of of standing on their own 2 feet, of being independent, of dealing with what life throws at them, of being adults.
Equality means that women aren’t getting protected from the harsh world like they used to, that’s the price of freedom. The world is a harsh, ruthless place – men have always known this and are expected to deal with it, it’s about time women were expected to do the same.
My response to this is far too long to do on Facebook….
You should not denounce a significant proportion of the population as “hypersensitive” because they are upset about something, without seriously considering that they might have a reason to be upset, even if you don’t understand it. I’m old enough to remember when women were being told we were “hypersensitive” because we didn’t want to be groped in the office or have the relative merits of our breasts discussed at job interviews. So you need to be very careful that you’re not making the same mistake those men of thirty years ago were…
Yes – we want to be equal to men – we want to be able to commute without being bombarded by advertising that creates and preys on insecurities for profit. I want to live in a world where it is not a strange thing if we opt to not wear make up, or decide to wear comfortable clothes. I want to live in a world in which if we get our glad rags on, this doesn’t make us fair game to be harassed in the street, or raped on our way home and then told it was our own damn fault. I want to live in a world where I’m not told on the one hand it’s my duty to look amazing and on the other told it’s my fault if I am attacked because I look amazing. But these things are not the ding an sich, they are symptoms of a deeper problem. If you think my rage is because of a stupid advert, then you are dumber than the advert (and I know that’s not the case).
You say: “all this complaining about ads that have skinny women on them makes women look like they’re weak-minded, emotionally unstable, and frankly, pathetic” — oh babe, this makes me want to go on an actual rampage, never mind a metaphorical Facebook one, and beat the living shit out of you and every other man who just doesn’t get that the reason women are a tad insecure is BECAUSE OF STUPID SHIT LIKE THIS ADVERT and the reason why older women are kicking off is because we genuinely thought things might have got better by now, that maybe our offspring might get to grow up without advertisers and the media CREATING those insecurities you are now blaming us for having. I see also you disregarded my actual objection to the advert – not that it used a skinny woman, but that it used what is now called “body shaming” in an effort get us to buy an unscientific weight loss product of the sort that is actually proven to make women fatter and more despondent about their weight in the long run! Women do have insecurities, yes – partially because of adverts like this. We have even told you ourselves that that’s why we want advertising like this to stop, because they are making us insecure – and your response to that is to mock our insecurity, rather than thinking, oooh, actually, maybe if adverts were different… MAYBE THEY WOULDN’T BE SO BLOODY INSECURE?!
So, you say we lack the confidence to stand on our own two feet. (Tell me, have you ever tried to stand for more than a few minutes in high heels?) If we have ever struggled with confidence, it is because MEN, not just advertisers but men in general, have for hundreds of years kept us in a state of domestic servitude and/or lassitude and belittled “feminine” properties. YOU ARE DOING IT RIGHT NOW when you dismiss us as “hypersensitive”. We are standing up right now and you are complaining about it.
If the world is a “harsh” place, it’s because this is the world that MEN created for us – the world of war, cruelty, injustice and poverty. That is the world we were born into – a world created by rich white men, perpetuated by the rest of the men, who did not see any reason to challenge the status quo, because they were the dominant gender. Some of you still don’t, and that’s nothing to be proud of. You should be ashamed that you are so readily repeating and supporting the tropes of oppression and inequality that white men have been perpetuating for so long. The same brainwashing that makes women insecure has its own agenda for men, too – it is a shame you are so happy to carry on with that at the same time as demanding that women overcome theirs and “stand on our own two feet”.
When we try to “stand up”, as we are now, saying we don’t want to be advertised to in that manner, you have tried to slap us back down into our place again – can’t you see that? You demand we stand up, but that’s EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE DOING NOW, and look how you have reacted! You can’t demand that we are confident and independent than criticise us as “hypersensitive” when we stand up for ourselves and try and stop one of the very things that has made us weak for so long.
We don’t want to be treated like children. We want to be treated like autonomous human beings, and have our wishes acknowledged and respected. We don’t want to be patronised and insulted by advertisers, the media or anyone. We want to be allowed to have our own lives, free from the tyranny of prescribed roles and social pressure – and we want that for everyone. We want men to be free to embrace their “feminine” properties, we want women to be able to embrace their “masculine” properties, and most of all, what we want is for the new generations of boys and girls to grow up able to CHOOSE what they want to do. It’s all well and good saying we are equal and could do that anyway – but it’s just not true in practice.
WHY SHOULD WE PUT UP WITH LIFE THROWING STUFF AT US? That’s not strength, that’s weakness, that’s being a doormat. Are you really defining strength as NOT PROTESTING? That’s completely insane. Why are you expecting people to put up with being insulted or disregarded on a systemic, institutional and regular basis? Do you really live your life like that?
We have been putting up with men disregarding our feelings for centuries, all the while we were expected to look after the feelings of the men who OWNED us – most recently, making sure the house was perfect and the man came home to a hot dinner so that he did not face any further stress after a hard day’s work, making sure the perfect kids were seen and not heard, looking immaculate ourselves, not doing anything that might upset our Lord and Master. Is this because men are so weak that the sight of a stressed woman would have broken him, or something? We don’t need your lectures on being calm, my dear, because WE’VE BEEN BEING CALM FOR CENTURIES. It’s like the sight of a woman’s emotions is offensive to you or something – or perhaps just of no consequence? We have basically been suppressing all our emotions and suchlike for the benefit of keeping our men happy for ages. Men weren’t protecting us from a harsh world. Men were off being busy creating that harsh world, then coming home to a domestic world that wasn’t harsh, created and maintained by their women at great cost to ourselves. Men were trapping us within four walls, like the Victorian men who deliberately enfeebled their women, then said they needed their protection because they were so feeble. Women who went mad because of this were routinely operated on (in Victorian conditions, mind) to have their clitoris removed, were institutionalised, lobotomised, locked in attics, or cast out onto the streets to be whores. All because of men and their disregard for women.
And you’re speaking like we should be grateful for that?
You’re speaking like all those years, where our only options were to be a man’s property, the church’s property or a prostitute – were a FAVOUR men were doing us? Protecting us from the shitty, violent and cruel world that MEN created?
So now, we are out of the kitchen. We have equality, on paper, even though in practice that’s still a pipe dream for many women, who will never get the chance to claim the life they could have had if they had been given the advantages that men have had. We are looking around this world you created, the one you say you were “protecting” us from, and we don’t like it.
There is absolutely no inherent reason for the world to be as horrible as it is, no reason why it has to be so cruel, except that this is how MEN made the world, and how you seem want to keep it. Why would you not want the world to be a bit nicer? Why would you not want humans to be working together towards shared goals, in which everyone’s skills, strengths and characteristics were being used for the good of the whole planet?
I know this isn’t an idea that is inherently alien to men, after all, most of the great proponents of such a better world were men, the philosophers and prophets who stood up and demanded more than that, to which the response of the men who ruled the world (OMG IT’S LIKE THERE’S A PATRIARCHY OR SOMETHING) was usually to crucify or otherwise kill or neutralise them.
It’s perhaps interesting that the followers who stuck by Jesus until the very end were the women. As he died on the cross, only one of his male followers was brave enough and committed enough to be there, along with his mother and the other women. It seems it is not balls that give strength and the courage to stand up to injustice, it’s ovaries! The current trend of dismissing angry women as “social justice warriors” (how is that even an insult?), saying we are “hypersensitive” and trying to slap us back down is just another manifestation of the same patriarchy that has oppressed ALL of us since ever, and continues to oppress you, me and everyone else living under it.
Perhaps it’s time you grew a pair and also stood up to the men who are making this world such a “harsh, ruthless place”, rather than telling us we should just put up with it?