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Just A Minute, Buddy

November 3, 2014

One of the hazards of being a longtime blogger is that sometimes you write posts in your head that never make it to pixels, so you can’t remember what you have actually written and what you have just imagined you have written.

This is a post I apparently have imagined writing, but I can’t find it in my archives, so here goes.

It kills me when a friend posts a photo on Facebook, a female friend, of herself wearing a new pretty necklace or a new shirt she wants to show off. Her female friends say normal things like “Ooh, I love it” or “That looks great on you.”

Then a guy pitches in “Necklace, I can’t see a necklace.” Because, of course, there is cleavage showing and he is so blinded by the sight of a woman’s chest that he not only can’t compliment the necklace, he feels compelled to talk about her breasts (albeit in an oblique way).

Yesterday’s example was when my 21-year-old friend posted a photo of herself in a new t-shirt, which had a kitty on it. Three or four nice comments, then Matt: “Why do you have two watermelons in your shi…never mind.”

I got ANGRY. I turned into Mama Aunty Bear. I asked back “Matt – why do you have crap in your brains?”

Because come on, Matts of the world.

Women are more than a collection of parts for your enjoyment. Women want to be seen, yes, but they want to be seen as whole people – intelligent, emotional, spiritual and yes, physical beings.

There are many reasons you shouldn’t comment on a person’s body parts unless they are explicitly asking for comments, but among them are:

  • It is rude. As adults, we don’t do that
  • It makes you sound like a jerk
  • It turns a whole person into body parts, which isn’t very nice
  • It makes the person trust you less, because they know to be wary if you seem like you will use them as an object
  • It turns a fun exchange about a necklace or t-shirt into something unnecessarily about sexual attraction, which is probably an unwelcome turn of events (if you are 100 percent CERTAIN someone is ok with you objectivizing them, go ahead. But I wouldn’t be so certain).
  • It turns a safe space into one that feels unsafe and weird
  • People already have enough issues around their bodies. They don’t need your help feeling insecure.

“But but but women want us to look at them. That’s why they spend so much time on fashion, hair and makeup.”

Sure, women want to be attractive – most people do. They want to be admired for the way they look and to attract a suitable mate. The elaborate performance of femininity is time-consuming and expensive partly to convey that a woman is willing to put a lot of effort into looking good for her partner, which is something partners generally value, especially at the beginning of a relationship.

But just because a woman puts on a great display of femininity doesn’t mean she is doing it for you. And just because she has a body type that you find attractive doesn’t mean it is for you. It is not about YOU, unless it is, and in that case, you’ll know about it relatively quickly, I assure you.

Can you appreciate? Yes. Can you look? Yes, but don’t stare, because that is creepy. Can you comment? I’d stick to general statements like “You look lovely in that dress,” or “That color looks great on you.” You know, normal adult-type comments. And depending on your power relationship – if you’re the boss, for instance – it’s best to not mention looks, unless you know an attorney who will give you a good rate on your harassment suit.

Especially stay away from picking out body parts or making statements that make it sound like you want to do sexual things to the person. That’s just icky.

Women want to be seen as beautiful, sexy creatures – but first, they want to be seen as people. It’s ok to tell a woman what you love about her body AFTER you have had enough time together that you have gotten consensually naked. Then you can say every complimentary thing you want. So Matt? Just save it. Someday, someone will appreciate your comments. If you’re lucky. At this point, I have my doubts.

  1. November 3, 2014 18:28

    This is one of those things that can be so hard to explain, especially to explain it in a way the more thick-headed members of the human race can understand, but I think you did it well. Every woman knows the difference between the flattery of an appreciative look and the icky of being looked at like a thing.

    • November 4, 2014 06:06

      TL;DR – Just act like an adult.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    November 3, 2014 21:43

    Oh, lol. I’ve been in the auto parts business for over 30 years. I was that adorable little chica when I started out. I heard the wrenches bang on the concrete when I walked into the shops. Hell, yeah, I wore short-shorts & Candies to work in 1980 ! Why ? Because: A) I could. And B) I REALLY could. Now, I’m 54, and I’ve got SERIOUS old-school, pre-internet game.
    Mmmm,…..that little driver gonna get you the knowledge you want ? Not so much, boyz. It’s this grrl that you need to bring it, when you can’t figure it out.

    And what’s funny ? I now have watch twice-yearly “anti-harassment” training videos, to make sure I don’t hurt anybody’s itty-bitty feewings !

    • Anonymous permalink
      November 3, 2014 23:03

      Wow, beautifully expressed there, Joan Didion.

      • November 4, 2014 06:05

        Just slouching toward Boobieville.

    • November 4, 2014 06:08

      Even when you do want to show it off because you’ve got it doesn’t mean you want comments like “Are those watermelons in your shirt?” right? I mean, I’m old, so I forget…

  3. November 10, 2014 10:18

    Yes, this, times 1,000.

  4. Maria in Oregon permalink
    November 14, 2014 16:19

    Reminds me of an enlighening conversation I had with my then-husband. He commented on a dress I was wearing in a photo around the time we first met. He said, “When I saw you in that dress, I knew you had a libido.” I was like, wow. My choice of dress communicates to you that I’m horny? I don’t know if it’s just a guy thing, or just my ex thing. He also once told me that when I got a short haircut, he thought I was no longer attracted to him. Everything about my appearance is apparently about HIM!

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