What We Expect of Women

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com

The Guardian has the best article on the Elliot Rodger shooting that I’ve read so far. It is a careful examination of the man and his motives, as well as how society’s attitudes towards women no doubt played a role in the injury and murder of his victims. We’re all asking why this happened, and this article draws attention to what I consider the most crucial aspects of the crime and Rodger’s personality (from TheGuardian.com):

Elliot Rodger was a misogynist. This cannot really be in doubt about a young man who went out on Friday, armed with three semi-automatic shotguns he had bought legally, to punish all women for rejecting him sexually.

“You girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it,” he wrote in his manifesto. “I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one.”

Yes, Rodger was a misogynist. He also very likely had mental difficulties, and to say so doesn’t diminish the part a misogynistic culture played in this tragedy. If anything, it emphasises precisely why this culture is so dangerous. Rodger had been in therapy since he was nine years old.

Rodger was enabled in his misogynistic feelings by a culture that exists to validate the feelings of angry, lonely and sometimes mentally unwell men. Judging from the language Rodger used in his videos, he had been a follower of the pick-up artist (PUA) online community, which teaches men that they can and should trick and bully women into sleeping with them.

Women have been Tweeting about their personal experiences with misogyny since the shooting, and many have touched upon one of the scariest aspects of misogyny- that it is learned from an early age. And this is not just true of men. Women are taught misogyny, too. Yes, as strange as it sounds, women are taught to have a lack of respect for themselves and to see themselves as less capable than men.

My mother always said that I should never wait for a man to provide for me, that I should get a good education, have my own job and make my money, even if I’m married. My mother always worked, so it was only natural that she’d teach me the same. But that’s not the case for a lot of girls growing up. Being an adult, yet having to wait on another person to provide for you surely produces a feeling of powerlessness. And though more and more women are working, men still don’t take women as seriously at work as they do other men- the fact that a woman gets paid less for doing the same job as a man is a reflection of an underlying belief that women don’t really have to work, as if we just do it for fun or to prove something.

But if we’re not expected to work, than what is expected of us? Well, to be pretty, of course! Just shut up and be pretty! Even when we’re pregnant, even if we’ve had a bad day, even if we’re sick, even if we have a slow metabolism, don’t have perfect hair, don’t have an hourglass figure, etc., etc., etc. As we grow up, we internalize these messages, holding ourselves to these bizarre standards.

I was reminded of all this when I came across a few Photoshopped (retouched) pictures online. Please note: There are VERY, VERY, VERY few Photoshopped pictures of men that I’ve found anywhere. Also note: the appearances of these women were altered because someone decided that they weren’t pretty enough as they are.

Someone decided that Lady Gaga isn't pretty enough unless she's skeletal.

Someone decided that Lady Gaga isn’t pretty enough unless she’s skeletal – http://www.psdisasters.com/page/2

Victoria's Secret didn't think she was pretty enough either, so they slimmed down her waist so much that it looks like she has ribs missing.

Victoria’s Secret didn’t think she was pretty enough either, so they slimmed down her waist so much that it looks like she has ribs missing – http://www.psdisasters.com/?s=victoria%27s+secret


This model just isn’t thin enough, so Victoria’s Secret Photoshopped out the right side of her waist. At least now she’s got something to perch her right arm on (the arm with the bracelets) – http://www.psdisasters.com/page/2?s=victoria%27s+secret

Jessica Alba's perfectly fine waist was slimmed down for the photo on the right.

Jessica Alba’s perfectly fine waist was slimmed down further. The results are the photo on the right – http://www.psdisasters.com/


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