When you work at a restaurant, you overhear a lot of conversations–many of them far too disgusting to repeat, even for a blog that delves into topics of bathroom humor. Most of the time, people show at least a little embarrassment when they realize that you were standing there waiting to take their order while they were conferring about some sexual encounter from the night before or discussing how much money it would take before they would put a horseshoe crab inside of their butt. No shame was shown, however, during one conversation I remember walking up on recently that was particularly disgusting….
This one wasn’t a conversation about having sex or shoving anything up your butt. It was just two guys sitting at a table, flippantly talking about a girl one of them had dated. One of the guys (the one who had dated her was the one doing most of the talking) was describing her. He shared how she never shut up as he made a talking motion with his hand and rolled his eyes. And then he said something that I don’t remember bothering me nearly as much before I had daughters: He said, “She’s about an 8.” I know this sort of thing happens all the time, but for some reason when this guy, with his $60 haircut and his pinstripes and his power tie, rated some woman I didn’t even know, I got so grossed out. I started wondering what imperfections he was considering to make her lose those two points, I thought about my two amazingly beautiful daughters, and I just got pissed. Pissed at this douche bag leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head while loudly and unapologetically inflicting a number-rating to A PERSON, but also pissed at myself for all the times I had done the very same thing…. Though, when I had done it, I had at least kept it a little bit quieter.
Now I realize that all of us, men and women, look at people and kind of size them up. We do this our whole lives–and getting married does not stop a person from noticing someone they find attractive. If you’re wise, you teach yourself to not look…. At least not as much. I think that in a lot of ways we are hardwired for this sort of thing–“This sort of thing” being lust. I don’t think that men possess more of a predisposition toward lust than women, it’s just that we seem more likely to embrace that predisposition and celebrate it. But there is nothing admirable about a line of men making cat-calls at a woman walking by. There is nothing honorable about objectifying someone’s daughter. There is nothing commendable about giving a woman’s body a number value. Behind it is the beating heart of the Juggernaut that is the pornographic industry, and it is truly something for which we–men especially–should be ashamed.
This is why it has been really gross (and really disappointing) for me to see all of this garbage going on with women surrounding the book 50 Shades Of Grey, as well as all the furor over this Magic Mike movie. Women are losing their freaking minds. I was at the dentist yesterday, and some crap cable channel that caters almost exclusively to women was on the TV. I think it was HGTV…. Is that a something? They should call it CYNHTV–Covet Your Neighbors House TV…. Anyway, there were about four commercials for Magic Mike in the time it took me to get my teeth cleaned. It looks so dumb. There are thousands of reasons NOT to go see Magic Mike–not the least of which is that Channing Tatum (as a female friend recently pointed out) strongly resembles a big toe. Basically, the commercials are just words on the screen that are broken up by clips of oily, shirtless men (not MY kind of oily…. the other kind of oily–the SEXY kind). The first one said, “Warning: In three days your boyfriend may seem inadequate.” The second one said, “Tell your boyfriend you’re going to book club.” They wrote “boyfriend,” but I know for a fact that a GIANT demographic that they are going after, as well as a giant portion of the people who will go watch the movie, is married women. If you insert “husband” in place of “boyfriend,” it gets even more sad.
I went to a strip club once. I was just out of college, and I think we were celebrating someone’s bachelor party. I guess it was a nice club…. It was fairly clean, and the girls were very pretty–topless, with G-strings over some sort of thick, flesh-toned nylons. After the initial “Wow…. Boobs” wore off, I started looking around. It was the sort of feeling you get when you eat at a Shoney’s, and all of a sudden you notice the obese hopelessness all around you, and you think, “What the hell am I doing here? Am I one of these people?” The strip club just got really sad. I talked to a girl briefly, and she told me she was putting herself though grad school. She was very nice. I had the thought that she was probably way to cool to ever date someone who would actually go to a place like this. I felt very sad, and very ashamed, and I was ready to go. I walked quickly to my car, praying that no one I knew would see me walking out….
I believe that being seen walking out of the movie Magic Mike or reading 50 Shades of Grey should feel to a woman like it feels for a man to run into someone you know while walking out of a strip club or buying a Hustler at a sketchy gas station. Granted, I have not seen Magic Mike. It may be a tender portrayal of love and loss within the setting of an all male review–I don’t know. I also have not read 50 Shades of Grey. I did thumb through it, stopping to read a page or two at a few different spots. Every place I stopped was filled with some pretty raunchy stuff. You can call it what you want: Smut, Erotica, “Sexually Explicit Literature,” whatever…. Any way you look at it, it’s Girl Porn. I know, I know, ladies–“It’s a really good story.” Well, you know what? A porno with a good story is still a porno. Especially a porno that started out a Fan Fiction for the Twilight books (which 50 Shades did, by the way). I suppose it makes sense–It’s the next logical step in the sort fantasy world that created the unobtainably perfect Edward Cullen.
And now I have to deal with women posting shirtless pictures of a big toe with a six pack on Facebook and squealing about how hot Matthew McConaughey is (As an aside, another thing that annoys me on Facebook is when girls leave comments telling others girls how “HOT” they are every time there is a picture where their cleavage is showing. Stop it). And this is not an equality issue either. Imagine how skeevy it would be if a guy–especially a married guy–posted pictures of some hot girl in a bikini on his page in anticipation of some new stripper movie. Women are like, “Men get to objectify women…. Why can’t women objectify men?” But a better question is “Why would you want to emulate the worst part of a man?” I’m all for gender equality, but there are some things about men that women should be smart enough to want no part of. You want to be like a man? Men are also way more likely to be mass murderers (about 93% of mass murderers are male) and pedophiles (about 95% of pedophiles are male)–You want an equal slice of those pies as well? Objectifying people and escaping into a sexual fantasy world–This is the stuff of the people-groups I mentioned above. THIS IS NOT A STEP FORWARD. We all are guilty of objectifying people at times, and we all dabble in fantasy, but when we start to embrace that stuff–that LUST stuff–we get ourselves into trouble. Real life and its real people (with all our faults and our non-sexy kinds of oiliness) start to not be able to compare with the fantasy, and marriages and lives end up falling apart. If we stumble into a strip club, the right response is to look around and be ashamed. And then leave. We shouldn’t be celebrating it on Facebook or in book clubs or anywhere else. The guys who would do that sort of thing are gross and stupid and immoral. And you know what? So are are the girls. I mean, Come on…. You’re women. You should know better!
I just can’t resist wondering if the fact that you seem to have stumbled (in your shameful run from…that other way of living and thinking) across a beautiful, fun, interesting woman that doesn’t divorce you for eating taco bell in your underwear when she’s away and loves you both furry and naked-faced and appreciates your journey, ‘as is’… Has SOMETHING to do with your views.
Just keep praying for others!
Yeah, she’s cool. But point taken. : )
Whose toe IS that? HOT.
That’s good stuff, Jacoba…. Funny for all the right reasons.
I hope I know better. As many of my female friends have been raving about the “Shades of Grey” books, I briefly thought about ordering them… hey, everyone is reading them, shouldn’t I? What if they become classics and I don’t know what to say when it’s the only conversation? When I realized the crap it was, it made me feel EXACTLY the same as the time I found out that my husband went to a strip club and didn’t tell me about it for months. It felt slimy and sneaky and wrong. Like the time I went to grab a shirt out of the closet for my first boyfriend and found he had a knee deep porn collection in there… and then he said he’d get rid of it and never did. Just icky, ewwwy… covered in this slime that you can’t wash off with 1,000 showers.
Then, Trav and I went to see “Rock of Ages” the other day, which was pretty sleazy, but hilarious too… I did not get the slimy feeling or the embarrassed feeling during the movie. “Magic Mike” was one of the previews: at first I was really excited… we had been talking the night before wondering if there was actually a plot… and here it was, I was going to find out the plot! Meh. It doesn’t have a plot. It just felt like the preview for a porno and IMDb doesn’t have much better to say “A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money.” It was ewwwy. Yes, I’m making up lots of words for “gross” in this response. There aren’t nearly enough.
Thanks for the blog… for being a good man… and for realizing that your daughters have to live in the world we create, so our outrage at the behavior of these women (my peers, sadly!) is important. Just as important as spitting on that guys food would have been…
I liked all of your synonyms for “gross.” I’ll tell you if it’s any good–I’m going to the midnight show tonight….
Pingback: Remember, Our Children Have to Live in the World We Create | The Double Helix of My Life
Thank you for this. For the last fifteen years I’ve seen almost every marriage around me destroyed by cheap imitations. Hearing women talk about either of these breaks my heart. We\’re settling. We’re feeding on imitations. Ironically, both are nothing more than self-serving (How in the world could either help us love our spouses better or help heal our marriages?), yet even in serving ourselves we fail to realize that we are the ones being harmed. We\’re doing this at our OWN expense. I grew up reading soft core porn if you will and it taught me to wield control and power over men, to manipulate them with my sexuality. Not once did those books teach me to serve them, to love them well, to help them be the best men they could be. They took so much more from me than I ever thought they gave. Though it has been sixteen years since I’ve cracked open the cover of one of those books, the images and word pictures stay with me, making it a daily fight not to use men to fill whatever I think may be lacking in my life. I’d rather be a woman who sharpens a man and helps him live well and strong, than one who has learned to drag him along behind me.
Thank you so much for reading and for sharing what you’ve learned, Melanie.
You couldn’t have said it any better!
The premise seems to be that growing equality means that women should adopt the same position that men have had for years: Consuming the media they find arousing and then feeling ashamed of themselves because ‘real’ romance and sex is about repression not about enjoying what you like. There is nothing inherently gross, stupid or immoral about sex – that’s your hang-ups you are trying to encourage others to embrace. That this book or movie is stupid, reductive or manipulative is not because it is about sex, it’s because it’s about BAD sex, badly rendered. Shaming women or men for liking what they like does what good exactly? Besides making the speaker feel superior?
Everyone deserves a satisfying sex life, and many will not get it because of the circumstances of their life. They also deserve a satisfying fantasy sex life, and that they can have (with the help of media if they like) so long as the prudes leave them alone.
Thanks for reading, Andrew. I’m definitely not trying to be prudish, nor am I trying to say that there is anything gross, stupid, or immoral about sex. I’m a big fan of sex. BIG fan.
I think that we all make value statements about sex–For example, when you say that this book is about “bad” sex. Some people believe that there is no such thing as bad sex, no matter how manipulative or demeaning. I am not one of those people. A lot of what bothers me about this whole deal is when people who are in committed relationships start up. I don’t think it’s very healthy for married women or men to get all excited about going to see a movie just to fantasize about strippers, even when they don’t look like a big toe. I think that there is such thing as perversion, though I suppose the definition is different for each person.
Anyway, I know it’s easy for me, with a healthy relationship and an awesome wife, to sound preachy. I don’t mean to. I happen think that some boundaries make things sweeter and cooler. But yeah…. Big fan. Thanks again for reading.
Amen. It’s nice to come here and agree with you about something.
Glad to hear it. : )
That sounded snottier than I meant it to. Sorry.
This article is sexist. “I mean, Come on…. You’re women. You should know better!” Is a sexist statement, and it speaks to the double standard of it being acceptable for men to lust, and unacceptable for women to lust. Also this statement ” “Why would you want to emulate the worst part of a man?”, is sexist.Lust is not exclusive to men. It is a HUMAN trait, not a male trait.(as you acknowledge in the first part of your article). As humans, women feel lust just as you men do, but because of sexism it is viewed as inappropriate for us to express or even acknowledge it. The overall message of your article seems to be “Its bad enough when men do it, now women are doing it too?!” It seems like you only related the first story about the men so that you could write about whats really bothering you. After all the end of this article doesn’t call on men to look at less smut, its a bold typeface call to women to get our act together. If you were all for equality, you would be equally hard on both sexes.
EB, I’m afraid you may have missed the part of this where he said “I don’t think that men possess more of a predisposition toward lust than women, it’s just that we seem more likely to embrace that predisposition and celebrate it. But there is nothing admirable about a line of men making cat-calls at a woman walking by. There is nothing honorable about objectifying someone’s daughter. There is nothing commendable about giving a woman’s body a number value. Behind it is the beating heart of the Juggernaut that is the pornographic industry, and it is truly something for which we–men especially–should be ashamed.” I’m a gal who used to be on the board of a women’s pornography ministry and has loved and lost two different men to pornography. Let’s show some grace. Nobody is perfect, but I think he did a great job of trying to tackle both sides of the problem and trying to be honest about where he is with all of this.
GivI did read that part. I also read the part where he completely contradicts himself and attributes lust to being male. Which is it? Is it human or is it “the worst part of being male”. Its too bad you have lost reltionships to porn. While there are many examples of porn that is degrading, that is not true of all porn. I personally am not offended when my husband looks at porn, and in turn he is not offended when I read smut novels. We are open with eachother so these things are not damaging to our relationship. I hardly think I am a skank for reading romance novels. My husband is not a perv for occasionally looking at porn. If anything these things have improved our love lives because they get us talking to eachother about what we like. Also I understood what he meant by the “women should know better comment”. Assuming that women are better than men is still sexist…its just sexist towards men instead of women. Saying that either sex is better than the other is sexist. Statements that need to be prefaced with ” I am all for equality but” are usually sexist.
EB–Okay…. A couple things: I am not attributing lut to being male. We all lust (and we have different definitions of lust as well). “The worst part of being male” that I was referring to was a tendency (that I view as a more male trait than female) of embracing and celebrating their lust. There is nothing wrong with sexuality, but unrestrained sexuality has consequences. Sexuality that exploits and demeans is (to me) gross. If you want to celebrate all of the benefits of having an open, porn-filled relationship, you should feel free to start your own blog. These WordPress sites are free, and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of page hits.
I don’t think that every time gender differences are pointed out someone has to come along and cry “SEXISM.” Men and women are different. If you can’t see that, you’re not looking closely enough. I believe that there are some things that men are better at (in general) and some things that women are better at (in general). If believing that (or posting statistics like the ones about mass murderers and pedophiles) makes me sexist , then I am admittedly sexist.
Lastly, I did not call you a skank for reading romance novels. I have many close friends who read romance novels. Also, there are plenty of example of people with great love lives and terrific communication about “what they like” without any assistance from pornography. If it works for you, then great. Some people are okay with it, and some people look at that sort of thing like a sort of marital unfaithfulness. Other people feel like having an open relationship with different sexual partners “improves their love lives.” I don’t. I think that faithfulness is a good thing, though again, faithfulness means different things to different people.
I am not in an open relationship. I don’t know how you gleaned that from what I wrote. My relationship is not “porn-filled”. I just said that I am not offended by it. Sheesh. Defensive much? Sorry my completely monogamous (if perhaps adventurous) relationship offends you.
also, when he says, “I mean, Come on…. You’re women. You should know better!” …it is actually saying, “you are way smarter than men.”
really. he is!
I think you might have skimmed over some parts of what I wrote….
I believe that there are some fundamental differences between men and women, EB. There are some things that men (in general) are better & worse at, and some things that women (in general) are better & worse at. Here are some things I am not doing: I am NOT saying anything close to “Its bad enough when men do it, now women are doing it too?!” I am also not saying that lust is a problem specific to men.
I am saying that there are many men who do this whole objectifying thing–to our DIScredit. It is not okay. Here’s something I wrote a while ago (though, if this post came off to you as sexist, you might think this was is as well): https://theboeskool.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/makeup-baldness-and-the-bearded-lady/
If this post is sexist, it is probably more sexist against men. And I definitely didn’t just throw in the beginning story so I “could write about what’s really bothering” me–as if I was fine with objectifying women, but now that it is happening to men I take issue. Objectifying PEOPLE is what’s bothering me. I’m sorry if that didn’t come across in my writing. : )
Very good points, thanks for posting this! I agree with you completely! I have not read 50 Shades of Grey, nor will I be seeing “Magic Mike.” Personally, none of the guys in that movie are “hot” to me. I’m more of a Hugh Jackman and Chris Pine kind of a girl. 🙂 But that being said, also being married, I do not want to bring any of that “fantasy” or “lust” into my marriage. I would be outraged if my husband was looking at porn or going to strip clubs, so why would I basically do the same thing?
Yeah, I have a bit of a TV crush on Tina Fey, but it’s more for her mind…. and maybe because she reminds me a little of my wife.
You’re being all deep and important with your critique of this 50 Shades crap – which is fantastic – don’t get me wrong, and I can’t get past the horrific writing; I’ve only seen snippets, paragraphs quoted online as people make fun of it, and it is just hilarious. Obvious grammar errors, run-on sentences, it’s just funny. I did not know it was “fanfic” for Twilight, another phenomenon I missed. Edward/this weird buttsecks 50 Shades dude/Big Toe fantasies….why???LADIES! ATTENTION, LADIES! I promise if you want to try something new, your husband will be thrilled. Start there. Seriously.
Ahem. Your critique is fantastic, not the book……….Gotta love complaining about bad grammar and then not being clear with antecedents! Boo.
I forgive you. Anyone who knows what an antecedent is has earned forgiveness.
Your last two sentences are very true.
Though, this whole hubbub has me I wondering about the value of stuff like this for people who want to be married but can’t find anyone….
I have to completely disagree with you. Personally, I include “skank” with “slut” and “whore” as words meant to demean women. I’m surprised one so enlightened on equality would have used such a derogatory term.
Interestingly enough, I just saw Magic Mike but have never been to an actual strip club. I imagine there are differences. For example, I watched while eating popcorn and smuggled candy and booze. The men gyrating were most likely paid hundreds of thousands of dollars (more and less) to wave their junk in the faces of extras. They were actors. There was also a 0% chance of me interacting with them. I don’t even know if they did the movie in order to pay for grad school.
After trying to avoid Fifty Shades of Grey for months, I finally read it. It is what it is. But what it is not is an airbrushed picture of an actual barely legal woman. It is fiction. I do not hold it up to compare to my actual husband.
I think what I find disturbing about your post is that it seems to miss the mark on women’s sexuality. Women should be able to explore sex in a way that makes them comfortable, but in our society it is not always possible. This may be off topic- but I have to point out that one in four women are sexually assaulted. If these books and movies help a woman explore her sexuality in a safe environment than we should be all for it. She is not a skank because she does so.
Just an FYI, Amy liked what you had to say, and we’re continuing the conversation a bit. Thanks again for the thoughtful comment. 🙂
Great article! Your a brave man to “attack” a book that is written mainly for women! ha!! I loved it!
Absolutely! Couldn’t agree more. I hate it when guys call a woman ‘ugly’ too – but then I hate it when anyone says that about anyone. Big toe? No I don’t see the resemblance but then again I have a funny big toe.
I never thought of Channing Tatum as resembling a big toe but he TOTALLY does. HAHA!!!! I just wanted to add that I watched Magic Mike after being told by so many women I HAD to see it, and honestly, as a married women, I felt completely disgusting and terrible about myself, and that I’d done something wrong. I’m not prudish or anything, but it felt like a step back from feminism by watching that garbage.
Why do you refer to grown women as girls? “…and the girls were very pretty–topless, with G-strings over some sort of thick, flesh-toned nylons. ” Seems like if someone is old enough to be in grad school and work in a strip club, she is an adult.
Sorry if that offended you, Mary. I was college-aged at the time, and I was thinking about my mindset back then. In my world, the most common way of referring to men and women is “guys” and “girls.” As in, “The guys are cooking dinner and the girls are playing football.” If I was using the word “woman” in college, I was referring to a female who was much older than me.
But yeah, no offense intended.
chris, did you ever read Susan’s comments from 7-1-12 above? I agree with some of her points and would be interested in your response. or at the very least i just wanted to highlight her comments. i think they are important.
Amy–I’m not into any sort of “slut-shaming.” I hope that is not how this post came off. I am not trying to keep women from exploring sex. I am against objectifying people. The fact that women have been objectified for so long does not make the celebrating of objectification that happens in Magic Mike okay. I haven’t read 50 Shades other than a few passages, but the random pages that I opened up to were written porn. I think that is more hurtful than helpful in most cases. Reality is better than fantasy, even when reality isn’t as sexy or interesting.
Which part of what she wrote were you referring to?
Pingback: 5 Things To Do Instead of Going To See “50 Shades of Grey” | The Boeskool