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  1. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 26, 2010 at 10:14 am |

    It’s just that, at this point in time, it seems like 40-60 something (mostly white) men sympathetic to corporate control of everything are the people in society who actually can get away with whatever they want and do have a lot of power. They can rip off the government, rip off their customers, spread poison all over the face of the world and be so negligent that they get away with letting their employees actually die on the job.

    THIS. And they see beautiful women as having all the power because the woman they are interested in/hit on declined them.

  2. Debbie Notkin
    Debbie Notkin August 26, 2010 at 10:55 am |

    This post by a woman of color deals interestingly with this topic.

  3. Ama
    Ama August 26, 2010 at 10:57 am |

    He was referring to how it seemed like attractive women had an easier time getting out of traffic tickets, and he was thinking of one woman in particular, one that he wanted to date but hadn’t been able to strike up a relationship with.

    I think I’m reasonably attractive and I’ve never gotten out of a traffic ticket. Bah, humbug. Guess I should have started to cry.

    On a more serious note, I’ve had various permutations of this conversation with quite a few of my male friends, and their reasoning always seems to be “Women get discriminated against THIS way, but it’s okay because they get preferential treatment THAT way. She’s getting XYZ because she’s pretty, but I’d give it to her if I could*.”

    *she asked me for a double entendre, so I gave it to her

  4. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin August 26, 2010 at 11:02 am |

    As an earlier poster said, this is just sour grapes writ large.

  5. Dominique
    Dominique August 26, 2010 at 11:41 am |

    I honestly don’t know where men get this mythology from. Can’t they read? The stats are all over the news: women make up only about 5 % of CEOs and much, much less than half of all politicians, let alone world leaders. If “beautiful” gave women power, men would all be in cages by now.

  6. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe August 26, 2010 at 11:42 am |

    When a beautiful woman “gets away with something” because of her looks, she often does it at the expense of her dignity and personal integrity. Granted, there are some women who don’t see it that way (or do but don’t mind), and that’s their business. But it strikes me as a devil’s bargain at best.

    And Natasha, not to nitpick, but I gotta ask…”a seeming man”? Did you leave out a word there, or were you not sure of this person’s gender?

  7. Invisible Vectors
    Invisible Vectors August 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm |

    “because of her looks, she often does it at the expense of her dignity and personal integrity.”

    True, not that I find a woman’s personal choice to use her looks to compromise her dignity, but society usually does and would use it against them, with labels and phrases like, slut, gold digger, sleeping to the top, stuck up bitch, and all that shit.

  8. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 26, 2010 at 12:50 pm |

    At the expense of dignity and personal integrity? When conventionally attractive men get away with things, I’ve never heard it as happening at the expense of their dignity and personal integrity.

    I don’t give anything up when unintelligent men start trying to win my favor by granting me allowances. They do. They should be embarrassed; not me.

  9. anna
    anna August 26, 2010 at 1:52 pm |

    Beautiful people of either gender on average are treated better than plain people. This isn’t about women vs men; it’s about the hateful idea that beautiful people are better and deserve better. Yes, beautiful people are often only treated well by those who want to fuck them, but it’s a lot better than being plain and being treated like shit and can’t get a date, no?

    Here’s The Onion’s take (yes, I am aware it is a satire, but this sort of thing does happen):
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/its-okay-im-attractive,11436/

  10. Kelly
    Kelly August 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm |

    As an unattractive woman, I can assure you, attractive women do have privilege and power. Does it trump patriarchy / all the isms? No. But it is there.

  11. anna
    anna August 26, 2010 at 1:58 pm |

    For example: One study found that people low in physical attractiveness earn 5 to 10 percent less than ordinary looking people, who in turn earn 3 to 8 percent less than those who are considered good looking: http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/Careers/07/08/looks/

    Researchers have found that good looking students get higher grades from their teachers than students with an ordinary appearance: Leroi, A. (2003). Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body. Viking books

  12. Brian
    Brian August 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm |

    Seems like a pretty typical response to being accused of being part of a privileged demographic.

    Being from a lot of privileged demographics (white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered; thanks heavens I’m poor or I’d be unredeemably evil, eh?), I completely sympathise. But I’m not sure this is the place to make this argument without much self-awareness?

  13. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 26, 2010 at 2:47 pm |

    I don’t think Natasha was saying that conventionally attractive people don’t have privilege. She said that men who make the claim that beautiful women are so ‘powerful’ compared to them are using faulty logic (if any logic at all). Being rejected doesn’t mean that the person who rejected you has a lot of institutional, economic, or cultural power. It doesn’t change the fact that the majority of executives and CEO’s in Fortune 500 companies are men, the majority of congressional representatives are men, the majority of judges are men, and that men dominate the fields with prestige, money, and, well, power. The people who have that kind of power tend to be White, cis, heterosexual, able-bodied men–and that power and those positions get them access to wealth, connections, and actually allow them to get away with a metric fuckton of stuff.

    Pointing that out isn’t painting anyone with privilege as evil. If someone points out to me that I have privilege as a White woman, I’m not going to take offense. I have that. Even as I recognize that the speaker has other kinds of privilege that I don’t necessarily have.

  14. Tamora Pierce
    Tamora Pierce August 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm |

    Sure, attractive women get better pay, particularly in casinos, bars, department stores, strip clubs, film studios, boxing rings and wrestling franchises, fashion magazines and ateliers. They get taken to dinner; they seldom pay for drinks.

    I’m not a beautiful woman, thank the gods, never have been. I have been the friend to two spectacularly beautiful women. Those men and the women who also think beautiful women have it all obviously have not been walking with one while a creep walks up to her or walks along behind her with his shirt up, fondling his nipples while he mutters filth. That man or woman has never been with my beautiful friends when a professor invites them to dinner and it turns out not to be about their future in the field or their talent. That man or woman has never been with my beautiful friends when someone, a man or a woman, has told them in answer to a question, “That’s okay, honey, you wouldn’t get it.” That man or woman didn’t sit with my beautiful friends on the subway when men rape them with their eyes, lurch against them with the train (or bus), and try to rub their crotches against them.

    How many beautiful singers, actresses, and models get to stand in front of total strangers and hear their posture, tits, skin, ass, legs, teeth, hands, and feet discussed as if she were meat? Please don’t sneer at me and say “she knows what she’s getting into; she expects it.” They aren’t made of crocodile skin, people. There was/is a time when it burns like fire and makes them want to do self-destructive things, particularly if they help them keep the weight off. And when the men say, “Well, they get paid plenty for it”–WHO gets paid? Ten percent, maybe. The other 90 percent gets to go home and feel like dogshit.

    Beautiful women have it easier? Are people NUTS? How many TV shows have we seen where an aging man tosses aside the aging beautiful wife for a young beautiful wife? (And TV does get its plots from the real world.) How many times have we looked at a well-dressed young blond on an older man’s arm and said “trophy wife”? How many times have we seen/read/heard of a woman getting a tuck/lift/injection/job in order to preserve beauty that only lasts while women are young? How many women are tossed aside when they are no longer beautiful?

    And how many of them are warned, are taught, long before this, that they had better have something more than looks to fall back on, because preserved looks aren’t as good as young looks? How many of them are taught to prepare for a future where they’re on the scrap heap with the rest of us, the one they were taught to regard as jealous (and so many of us have played that part) and meaningless (because we aren’t beautiful)?

    One of my big hopes for feminism was that it was going to teach us we were all in this together, regardless of color, age, body condition, physical ability, ethnicity. That our problem was letting our lives be dictated by pathetic little nipple-fondling cock-knockers who label us as prostitutes because we noticed the mean shine in the eye and the mean whine in the voice. Yet they’re still separating beautiful from not, light-skinned from dark, slender from fat. And some of us are still letting them do it.

  15. Rice
    Rice August 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm |

    “And I thought, wow, if conventionally attractive women really had as much power as he thinks they do, why aren’t they running everything? Why aren’t they the majority of CEOs? Why aren’t they the majority of officeholders?”

    I would argue that in many cases it’s because they are married to the CEOs and officeholders. A position which comes with much of the wealth, power, and privilege that said CEOs enjoy, but without the high blood pressure or consumption of time, sacrifice of personal relationships, etc. In general, (excepting, obviously, cases of domestic violence) a “trophy wife” enjoys a much higher standard of living and social power than the majority of the male or female population.

    In traditional dynamics, women’s ability to attract a mate is based very heavily on physical attractiveness. Men’s is based on ability to provide resources. So attractive women hold a position, as a matter of biological entitlement, equivalent to a trust fund.

    Though all of this is likely moot, since this otherwise very interesting website has a tradition of disallowing any comments which are in any way counter to an imaginary femenist “party line” or somesuch, rather than using the feature to screen out trolling/spam. This is your prerogative as maintainers of the site, of course, though it isn’t very intellectually honest.

  16. karak
    karak August 26, 2010 at 3:35 pm |

    I absolutely know I get away with shit because I fit the current standards of attractiveness. And I also know that sometimes that attractiveness bars me from paths I like to take. Being big-eyed and cute means that my boss give me an easier job, but it also means I’m not going to be fully trained in all the skills I need to move up in the company. (Yes, this a real experience of working in retail).

    Being pretty has its benefits, but I’m going to argue that being cismale, especially white cismale, has more. And I’m also going to say that accusing women of being manipulative because they are pretty is like being pissed off that you have a sword and the person over there has a toothpick. Why do THEY get a toothpick? All I have is this stupid sword in a deathmatch! SO UNFAIR!!

    I also want to point out that if “pretty women get everything” then where does that leave “ugly” women? With nothing?

  17. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 26, 2010 at 3:55 pm |

    Tamora, I think your comment mostly adds to the conversation, but you cannot be raped with eyes (someone’s trauma is not your analogy) and people are not “nuts” for disagreeing with you (someone’s disability is not your analogy, to borrow from Chally).

    @Rice, holy defensiveness!

    @ a few of you, this “attractive women don’t have anything to fall back on and are in for a shock” / “trophy wife” thing is cute, but can we please note that attractive women can also be intelligent and functioning members of the population who don’t need the financial support of a man to get through life? Shocker: attractive women can even be lesbians! Single mothers! Asexual! Top of their class at Oxford! President of Argentina!

  18. me and not you
    me and not you August 26, 2010 at 4:03 pm |

    o nice guys. it seems like most of the men I know are those kinds of nice guys who say shit like that that is just so infuriatingly ignorant, and even sometimes (worse yet) wilfully so, that you want to bop them upside the head for saying such a thing. I’ve discovered I can’t really say anything at those moments, because I know the response wouldn’t be … proper.

  19. Otis
    Otis August 26, 2010 at 4:33 pm |

    I was a very conventionally pretty girl, and I mostly hated it. I was fortunate to have parents who didn’t emphasize this, though. In fact, I distinctly remember my dad telling someone that my appearance wasn’t an accomplishment I should be lauded for–the credit for that was all his. I give my dad a lot of credit for ensuring that I didn’t internalize the ‘pretty girl’ label to the extent that I might have if he hadn’t been consistent in the message that beauty is not an accomplishment, but an accident of nature.

    The rest of the world wasn’t so enlightened. I got ‘pretty girl discounts,’ I got catcalls and skeezy propositions for employment and other things, and I had boys and men try to give me things, including a creepy boy in high school who used to anonymously leave money in my locker.

    I didn’t want that. I didn’t ask for it, and I honestly didn’t want it. It’s demeaning, it’s humiliating, it’s intrusive, and most of all, it put me in an almost subservient role, as though I were out collecting ‘tips’ or something. I didn’t want to be on display or solicit public comment or approval from strangers every time I left my house. I just wanted to be a human being and do the things that human beings do. As a teenager, I was all punk, in part to make myself seem a little more intimidating and less approachable, I suppose. And in other part, because I was genuinely angry.

    As an adult, I got into computer science and worked in some very male dominated areas, and I never ever got an even break there. Sometimes, I’d pretend I was married, to try to get people to stop hitting on me and start working with me. But that didn’t change the marginalization and the nasty assumptions about my talents and skills. (And I am really really good at what I do.) And even once people realize that you have talents that don’t involve standing around looking pretty, they still find it necessary to tack on, “…and pretty too!” to any kind of comment on your abilities.

    And really, it’s one of the main reasons I was an internet early adopter. I loved being able to go onto Usenet and just be faceless, and be taken on my words rather than my looks, and just be treated like a human being. (I’d usually use gender neutral or male-sounding names, too, just because at least until AOL went online, it was pretty heavily male, and you’d get hit on just for being female. Or maybe it was 50-50 back then, too, and all the women were pretending to be men for the same reason I was.)

    I’m in my late 40s now, so happily, this doesn’t happen to the extent it used to. But the funny thing is that, as much as I always hated the way people treated me and objectified me, there’s a little piece of me that sympathizes with women who have a difficult time aging. People do start to treat you differently once you’re not seen as being sexually viable, I suppose. Everyone and everything around you seems to reinforce the notion that, as a pretty woman, you are valued primarily for your sexuality and your appearance; and when that goes, so goes your worth as a human being. Without a strong, solid foundational understanding that this isn’t true, I can see why aging can be so traumatic for so many women.

  20. Lex
    Lex August 26, 2010 at 5:59 pm |

    “From what I’ve seen, they get away with whatever they want.”

    He obviously has a very narrow view of what women want.
    I think this is an issue that needs more consideration, too. Not just that women obviously don’t have the power/privilege that that argument implies, but that that argument implies that women don’t have the same ambitions* as men.

    * I consider ambition to be a good thing in anyone – a desire for a future and the desire to pursue it.

  21. Ismone
    Ismone August 26, 2010 at 6:41 pm |

    PrettyAmiable,

    I’m pretty sure the raped with eyes comment is a figure of speech. I do remember, once, a man looking at me like he very much wanted to fuck me and very much didn’t want me to want that. That’s a very long sentence, but same idea. That’s what it’s meant to describe, IMO.

    Rice,

    “A position which comes with much of the wealth, power, and privilege that said CEOs enjoy, but without the high blood pressure or consumption of time, sacrifice of personal relationships, etc.” Hahaha. Seriously? Seriously? Being married to someone means you have much of their *power*? Are you out of your mind? And re: wealth, are you familiar with prenups? Oh, dear god.

    Women make up the vast majority of the poor in this country. But shit, a very small number manage to marry well. Wake up.

  22. Kylara7
    Kylara7 August 26, 2010 at 7:42 pm |

    Right…because being able to get someone to buy drinks for you at a bar and getting catcalled in public and maybe a few breaks here and there on parking tickets and such is TOTALLY better and more “powerful” than running a multimillion dollar company, being into control of large amounts of property and natural resources, and being able to ship out an army at your command. *rolleyes* Not to mention that job and political and being-in-charge-of-shit power accrues with age while “beauty” is fickle (in the eye of the beholder and subject to perception) and fleeting…

    A lot of that annoyance regarding “but the pretty women have all the power!” boils down to annoyance that these same women have the “power” to turn down the advances of the whiners. They are basically throwing a tantrum that women (and especially the pretty ones they want to fuck) can and do say “no” to things they do not want.

    Same with the “but women have the power because they can get paid a lot of money to take off their clothes/have sex”. News flash: the most powerful person in the room is not the one stripping for entertainment of others and providing sexual favors…though some people might decide to do that just for fun, of their own free will (and that’s their perogative), but having that be the one guaranteed way to make a buck vs. having doors open to you in truly powerful and lucrative careers is worth examining.

  23. topaz_girl
    topaz_girl August 26, 2010 at 8:30 pm |

    To quote a comment I read on another progressive blog (I can’t remember exactly who), “people saying ‘Women hold power [over men] with their beauty/sexuality’ is akin to saying a rabbit has power over a fox with its attractiveness.”

    It’s definitely a double-edged sword. It’s very clear how the “beauty as power” myth hurts those who don’t measure up, according to society. But even with women who wield this alleged power (not to dis those who do; people do what they can), it’s because OTHER people put a price tag on it. There are always strings attached, invitations/suggestions, etc. Even if the men who buy a pretty girl a drink don’t force the issue, there’s a lot of implicit “well, i did this for you [’cause you’re pretty, it’s what you deserve, etc, etc, etc], what’ll you do for me?”

    It’s almost like we can’t win. Oh, wait, that’s the point.

  24. jane
    jane August 26, 2010 at 9:21 pm |

    Women have sex drives too. Gorgeous men have the same power as gorgeous women, to make demands in exchange for sex, marriage, etc. But you don’t see a lot of trophy husbands. Why? Because it’s still harder for women to become rich and powerful, to get real power, where they would be in a position to demand sex from a young hottie. And women are told “Being eye candy is real power” but not every woman can be beautiful, and nobody tells men they should settle for being eye candy for an ugly old rich woman, as if that’s the same as their own success. Being the spouse/lover of someone who has power and wealth has its perks, and people may envy those perks, but it is not equivalent to having power and wealth of your own.

  25. Kylara7
    Kylara7 August 27, 2010 at 5:20 am |

    The post on the dark side of beauty that Debbie Notkin linked to above is a good one and goes hand in hand with this post. I’m glad to see/hear this topic generating some discussion and analysis. Too often it’s dismissed with comments like, “Oh gee, you poor pretty girls who have to deal with so much attention. What about the REAL problems?” Problems are problems, especially when they are tied so tightly to gender and privilege and any airtime and thought we give to them helps to break those ties and let the sting out of the experiences when it becomes clear that this is not a personal problem but a cultural one.

  26. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 27, 2010 at 8:23 am |

    You know, if these men are so concerned with the injustice of beautiful women having all of the power, they could do their part to support the less-conventionally attractive women out there. . .oh, but wait, it’s not about THOSE women. THOSE women don’t count ’cause they aren’t hawt. It’s about the fee-fees of the man in question, who thinks his self-proclaimed niceness or wealth or whatever entitles him to the hot chick he wants. Her saying no is the grand injustice (and, according to some of the more defensive and whiny misogynists out there, against her biological drives as well).

  27. Sunset
    Sunset August 27, 2010 at 9:41 am |

    The whole pretty women have all the power…yes, yes, yes. I’ve heard it. You were so pretty he just couldn’t help himself. Really, what did you expect? You should be flattered. Men just can’t control themselves around a pretty girl.

    Ugh. I wish I were making that up. That was what I heard after breaking up with an abusive ex. You deserved it for being too pretty.

  28. Sarah J.
    Sarah J. August 27, 2010 at 10:03 am |

    I’d argue that beautiful women tend to have less power, actually. When people see me, all they see is this tiny pretty girl. I’m a mark, a thing to be used, a shiny toy on some man’s arm. And then I open my mouth and have opinions, and people can’t believe it. If I keep quiet in a futile attempt to be left the fuck alone, I’m spoken to like I’m five years old: “That’s a pretty dress!” or “You look so cute with that dog.” It’s an animal, not an accessory. And I should be able to walk my neighbor’s dog in peace.

    Society’s role for me excludes the possession of brains, ambition, and independence. And yet I’m not even supposed to acknowledge the trait that subjects me to those expectations because if I do, I’m just being conceited.

  29. Brian
    Brian August 27, 2010 at 10:28 am |

    @Natasha

    Clearly I haven’t suggested any of those things. I don’t mean to suggest that you’re denying “ugly” oppression. Nor do I think that your lack of self-awareness necessarily extends to anything else, but this is a textbook defensive reaction to being labelled privileged. And yes, I recognise it because I react the same way to the same circumstances when people talk about male privilege, because being male isn’t all kittens and rainbows (not so much for white privilege, or hetero-privilege, or cis-privilege, because those things really are all kittens and rainbows). But that you’ve missed that here is an enormous lack of self-awareness, yes. It happens. (I’ve certainly been guilty of it, and will be again.) But it’s worth reflecting on.

  30. Sunset
    Sunset August 27, 2010 at 10:57 am |

    Regarding the original post, I am reminded of one thing all privilege lists have in common. The privileged class has the privilege of being regarded as individuals; the non-privileged are regarded as a group. Because obviously, what one woman, or one black person, or one pwd is like is representative of the entire group. One woman who turned him down, or one woman who got an advantage because she was conventionally attractive, means all women really do have power!

  31. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 27, 2010 at 11:11 am |

    The original post NEVER denied that conventionally beautiful women can have an amount of privilege over non-conventional looking women.

    The point which she was (I think, quite obviously,) making, is that beautiful women don’t have privilege over men just because said men want to have sex with them. Pretty clear as far as I can see.

    I think too many people are interpreting this post as ‘ooh don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.’

  32. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 27, 2010 at 11:48 am |

    Brian, I think you’re the one getting defensive here. Try reading it again, this time for comprehension.

  33. Rice
    Rice August 27, 2010 at 6:55 pm |

    @Ismone

    The issue we’re discussing is privilege among women deemed attractive by current standards. The assertion I was arguing against was that the prevalence of successful men meant that that privilege and power was either nonexistent or negligible. Specifically, because out of 500 CEOs, 488 were men. Which is more or less fantastic for those 488 men, and 12 women, and their spouses (where applicable).

    My point was that attractive women, by the (gradually changing) nature of our society, have an advantage in selecting powerful and wealthy (for better or worse, these are nearly synonyms in capitalist societies) mates, and that generally translates to an acquisition of power. Identical power? No. If you want the exact power of a CEO, become a CEO. However, being attractive opens a road that might otherwise not be open. Hence privilege. The spouse of wealthy and powerful person enjoys more power, rights, and privileges (in, let’s say, the US for ease/ethnocentricity) than most of the population, male or female. Even with a prenup, or whatever other stipulations, that still translates to a standard of living far and above a regular minimum wage / near min wage lifestyle. Better health care, better legal defense, etc.

    Are there other avenues to power/privilege/wealth? Of course. Some favor men. Some favor women. However, acting like the spouse of a wealthy person does not gain significant advantages thanks to the available resources and relative security is disingenuous at best.

    Attractiveness is not automatically a magical win button, and I don’t think anyone is saying that. I can’t help but raise an eyebrow though at the vitriol inspired when a male dares point out and display displeasure at a form of entitlement that happens to be enjoyed by a woman, and that’s very much what appears to be the case. And that’s discounting some of the rather ugly bigotry floating around in this comment thread. Sorry if this response sounds condescending, but you seemed to be misinterpreting what I said based on your response. If that’s the case, I hope I’ve communicated my point more clearly. If you were willfully misinterpreting, then I’m sorry I wasn’t more condescending.

    @amiable, sheelzebub

    Saying someone is being defensive, regardless of whether you’re right or wrong, without building on that point is really the same as saying nothing at all. Which is often a good policy.

  34. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 27, 2010 at 7:53 pm |

    Ismone: I’m pretty sure the raped with eyes comment is a figure of speech. I do remember, once, a man looking at me like he very much wanted to fuck me and very much didn’t want me to want that. That’s a very long sentence, but same idea. That’s what it’s meant to describe, IMO.

    Uh, I understood it was a figure of speech. I’m saying it’s a disgusting figure of speech that is damaging to ACTUAL rape victims. Hence, one person’s trauma is NOT YOUR ANALOGY. I honestly can’t fathom that this needed to be said here and that no one else called bullshit on that.

    Rice: @amiable, sheelzebub

    Saying someone is being defensive, regardless of whether you’re right or wrong, without building on that point is really the same as saying nothing at all. Which is often a good policy.  

    And what the hell is this? This is you building on our comments? Then, Rice, to paraphrase, saying that someone is not building on a comment by noting their defensiveness, regardless of whether you’re right or wrong, without building on that point is really the same as saying nothing at all.

    Some douche who thinks that attractive women have privilege over men as a class (because he failed to account for the real comparison being attractive women compared to attractive men since others have already noted that being attractive period is a point of privilege) once said that’s a good policy, but he might have been unintentionally ironic.

    I mean, give or take. He didn’t actually engage the ideas I set forth directly in response to his post, so he may have just been trolling. And I quote,

    PrettyAmiable: Shocker: attractive women can even be lesbians! Single mothers! Asexual!

    Look at all these hot women that are clamoring for nothing more than to be the WIFE of a successful man. Obviously that is such a privileged position that doesn’t miss the point at all. Attractive and powerful men get to be CEOs! Attractive and powerful women get to be their spouses. Imagine suggesting that attractive women are not privileged compared to attractive men. Or, really, men period once you match for all other forms of privilege.

  35. Saurs
    Saurs August 27, 2010 at 10:55 pm |

    Rice, you don’t understand what privilege means.

    I can’t help but raise an eyebrow though at the vitriol inspired when a male dares point out and display displeasure at a form of entitlement that happens to be enjoyed by a woman

    Other commenters here have said so, but it probably needs to be reiterated: men who complain vaguely (but bitterly and insistently) about the “power” beautiful women possess are complaining about the sexual availability or inavailability of women with whom they want to have sex, period. They’re not waxing wistful about what life would be like if they themselves could marry CEOs, or whatever your evopsych-informed pet thesis is on about. They are complaining that women have the right to say no. That often women assert that right. That beautiful women are sometimes catered to by other heterosexual men, and that said beautiful women, shockhorror, sometimes enjoy attention. And sometimes they don’t. And sometimes they’re frank as all fuck about not enjoying unwanted attention, and they don’t care who knows it. Women, whether they physically fit contemporary conceptions of beauty or otherwise, are supposed to be grateful for any attention they receive, negative or positive, on the basis of appearance, irrespective of their age, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity. It’s accepted by a whole lot of folks as a universal truth that good looks in a woman is her highest accomplishment, so long as she isn’t “too good-looking” or looks the “wrong” way or has ostensibly exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics that apparently remind men of sex, and therefore, make her look like a “slut.” There are countless invisible traps laid out for the overly-confident women, means of cutting her down. And by the same token from a preposterously early age women are taught that while beauty must be cultivated, it fades and flees with age, and that there’s virtually no stopping the supposed “ravages of time” that leaves even conventionally beautiful women ugly and haggard and, worst of all, old.

    I wouldn’t call the psychological terrorism of the beauty myth an “entitlement.” I’d call it an albatross. And I can’t help but raise an eyebrow and laugh ruefully at the ignorant, self-centered dude who feels compelled to tell women how great they’ve got it, ‘cos some other dudes maybe want to fuck them or tell ‘em they’re pretty or pay them other totally “empowering” compliments that aren’t at all objectifying, humiliating, dispiriting, and, most of all, intentionally intimidating. A man calling attention to a woman’s appearance is a quick’n’easy way of trying to bully her by (a) reminding her that she’s judged by a totally separate and completely unfair set of rules over which she has little control and (b) reminding her that she can be raped if she acts up, that “beauty” in this case is shorthand for sexually enticing, and that sexually enticing women have an obligation to put out or suffer the consequences.

  36. Saurs
    Saurs August 27, 2010 at 11:09 pm |

    Also, the myth of beauty as power contains an implicit apology for sexually violent men, a means of excusing rape and sexual harassment and the banal misogyny of every-day life with the cute-sounding truism that men can’t help themselves, that men are like children, sometimes, that men are powerless against a sexually attractive women, that men’s sexual appetites are innately different from women’s, that women cannot look or lust, that the onus of rape prevention is on women to curb their good looks and watch their behavior lest they suffer the wrath of a man driven “insane” by “female” “charms.” It also reinforces the completely ridiculous (and thoroughly heteronormative) notion of a zero-sum game in which men “get” power, money, social independence, a civic persona independent from their domestic lives, and women “get” from those men security, baubles, and protection by exchanging their “beauty,” and by extension, sex. As though beauty has an intrinsic value. As though sex is not a cooperative activity but something women shell out.

  37. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 28, 2010 at 5:09 am |

    @Rice–if you think that pretty women have power over men as a class, you are welcome to marry “well” and enjoy the attendent benefits. Again, no one is arguing that being conventionally attractive does not have privileges (as long as you are heterosexual or willing to play heteronormative games), but thanks for straw argument. Natasha did point out, quite rightly, that for men to complain that pretty women have all kinds of power compared to men is hypocritical and ignorant. Compared to what men as a class can and do get away with, whining about the “power” of pretty women to “get away with” all sorts of things is ignorant.

    As far as your claims of bigotry, well, that’s laughable. I don’t see you rushing to the defense of the less-conventionally attractive. I see you posting a lot of evo-psych babble and then complaining because you’re offended as a man at the skepticism that attractive women as a class have power over men as a class.

    Though I do love it when a troll tells me in 32 words that I should shut up. Here’s a tip–a man telling a woman on a feminist blog to shut up is, well, bad policy. Just sayin’.

  38. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 28, 2010 at 5:16 am |

    Oh, and Rice–this?

    Though all of this is likely moot, since this otherwise very interesting website has a tradition of disallowing any comments which are in any way counter to an imaginary femenist “party line” or somesuch, rather than using the feature to screen out trolling/spam. This is your prerogative as maintainers of the site, of course, though it isn’t very intellectually honest.

    Is utter bullshit. If you actually did read the comment threads on this site, you’d know that. However, we get the strategy here because it’s in the derailing for dummies tookit–deflect with defensive accusations of censorship before even being censored. Let me guess–next up you’ll use the word doctrainaire, or Stalinist, or perhaps you’ll psychoanalyze the women who are posting here.

    Especially given your “advice” to me to shut up, this whining about censorship is especially rich.

  39. Rice
    Rice August 28, 2010 at 12:18 pm |

    PrettyAmiable:
    And what the hell is this? This is you building on our comments? Then, Rice, to paraphrase, saying that someone is not building on a comment by noting their defensiveness, regardless of whether you’re right or wrong, without building on that point is really the same as saying nothing at all.Some douche who thinks that attractive women have privilege over men as a class (because he failed to account for the real comparison being attractive women compared to attractive men since others have already noted that being attractive period is a point of privilege) once said that’s a good policy, but he might have been unintentionally ironic.I mean, give or take. He didn’t actually engage the ideas I set forth directly in response to his post, so he may have just been trolling. And I quote,Look at all these hot women that are clamoring for nothing more than to be the WIFE of a successful man. Obviously that is such a privileged position that doesn’t miss the point at all. Attractive and powerful men get to be CEOs! Attractive and powerful women get to be their spouses. Imagine suggesting that attractive women are not privileged compared to attractive men. Or, really, men period once you match for all other forms of privilege.  

    Okay, let’s start with this. You’re being childish, calling names and deliberately misstating my argument. Please stop it. I don’t presume you’re better than this, but wouldn’t it be fun to try?

    Second, pointing out that someone isn’t contributing to a conversation but rather engaging in an ad hominem attack in lieu of responding to the substance of another person’s argument is a perfectly valid point to make, and does contribute to a conversation. Really, calling out an irrelevant personal attack disguised as a rebuttal is almost always useful, especially when that attack comprises someone’s entire response.

    Now, on to the actual discussion, and not bickering over how it’s carried out. I never said attractive women as a class have an absolute privilege over men. I think playing the “who has it better” game is best left to children. Pointing out privilege and discrepancies and biases and injustices is useful. And yes, a great deal of those things very often benefit men. But not all the time. And when there’s something seemingly unfair that benefits women, it’s as wrong as an equivalent thing that would benefit men. Because privilege, prejudice, and inequality are inherently wrong, not wrong because of who they happen to be targeting. We may disagree on this point, but if that’s the case, then it would seem we lack a common ground from which to debate.

    Also, a handsome man doesn’t have a disproportionate advantage towards being a Chief Executive Officer. Some? Probably. Being attractive tends to make people respond better you, regardless of whether sex is in play or not. But by and large, it’s a position determined by education, skill, intelligence, and ruthlessness. And sexism, whether it be institutional or the result of a broader trend within society. Or probably both. The hypothetical CEO in this scenario isn’t the male equivalent of his hypothetical attractive wife. He’s the male equivalent of his much rarer female counterpart. And her difficulties rising through the corporate ranks have nothing directly to do with these other hypothetical women who, regardless of skillset, have a particular entitlement. Unless you’re trying to come up with an gender encompassing “score,” which is a uselessly linear way of going about the complexities of, well, almost anything.

    But really, the CEO thing was one small example, responding with a counter example to the original example within the topic post. The larger point posed was whether attractive women have a privilege, an entitlement.

    What I found obnoxious about Natasha’s post is that she disregards and misrepresents parts of the argument. A very small group of rich and powerful men get away with pretty much anything and everything. Sure. Granted. 40-60 of them, by her count. So, about 0.00001% of the American male population has this privilege. And it’s bullshit.

    But then she goes on to refuse to acknowledge something far more common (I’m going to go ahead and assume more than 0.00001% of the female population is attractive and enjoys privileges as a result) which, admittedly, isn’t as egregious. But certainly, if those 40-60 men have something to do with all men, then those however many women certainly have something to do with all women.

    Gender equality is a troubling phrase, because it suggests a balancing act, a scale, rather than a list of grievances on both sides which should all be addressed.

    Also, you know, those eleven people who lost their lives? All men. Which could have pointed to a statement about how traditional gender roles have led to men being overrepresented in professions with a high mortality rate. But that would acknowledge an injustice towards men, and it’s been my observation that such things are often met with hostility.

  40. Miss S
    Miss S August 28, 2010 at 10:56 pm |

    Specifically, because out of 500 CEOs, 488 were men.
    So these positions of wealth and power aren’t exactly open to women. But your advice to women is
    If you want the exact power of a CEO, become a CEO.
    Do you see a problem with that?

    Are there other avenues to power/privilege/wealth? Of course. Some favor men. Some favor women.
    Which avenues to wealth favor women?

    Also, the men who complain that women have sexual power because they can reject sexual advances haven’t read any rape statistics lately.

  41. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 29, 2010 at 8:19 am |

    Rice: The spouse of wealthy and powerful person enjoys more power, rights, and privileges (in, let’s say, the US for ease/ethnocentricity) than most of the population, male or female.

    Dude, you are conflating class privilege with “pretty” privilege. Lots of things can catapult someone into a higher class including brute luck. And being conventionally attractive does not guarantee wealth nor is it institutionalized (not all conventionally attractive women have the opportunity or desire to “marry well”).

    More to the point – what institutional power do “pretty” women have over men? What can a “pretty” woman do to a similarly situated man?

  42. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 29, 2010 at 12:14 pm |

    Now, on to the actual discussion, and not bickering over how it’s carried out.

    That’s pretty rich, coming from the dude who spent two posts lecturing us on the way to have this discussion.

    The hypothetical CEO in this scenario isn’t the male equivalent of his hypothetical attractive wife. He’s the male equivalent of his much rarer female counterpart. And her difficulties rising through the corporate ranks have nothing directly to do with these other hypothetical women who, regardless of skillset, have a particular entitlement. Unless you’re trying to come up with an gender encompassing “score,” which is a uselessly linear way of going about the complexities of, well, almost anything.

    Rice, you should keep track of your arguments. You had said that pretty women have power because they can marry well (such as to CEOs) and get the power and benefits connected with being a CEO. PA was the one who pointed out that this isn’t actual power; the real power is being the CEO. She also pointed out, in response to your flip and ignorant comment that women who want that power can just become CEO’s instead of marrying them, that the road to that position isn’t as open to women, and cited the sheer numbers of male executives as compared to female executives. I mean, it’s wonderful that you’re reiterating her point now, but it’s disingenuous of you to pretend she said anything close to “women who rise through the ranks as CEO’s encounter difficulties due to attractive wives of CEO’s.”

    Attractive people do have advantages that the less-conventially attractive do not have–and that goes for men and for women. Men have far more privilege simply because they don’t need to rely quite so much on their looks–they have the institutional power, and thus the cultural credibility, to be ruthless, smart, ambitious, and all that. You may decide that’s just scoring (again, rich coming from someone who bursts into a discussion about how pretty women do not have privilege over men as a class and yelping on and on about how unfair it is that some pretty women are given some small, revokable privileges in some small areas).

    Finally, since you are so fond of wagging your finger and lecturing us ladeez about the Proper Way To Have A Discussion, here’s a tip–cut it out. If you want to be taken seriously and not be thought of as an overprivileged, trolling weenie, step away from the computer when you feel the urge to lecture us. The next time you feel the urge to wag your fingers at us and hector us about our unseemly behavior, stick it somewhere else and whistle happy tune.

  43. Joe
    Joe September 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm |

    Because men control more wealth than women, women are more likely to marry rich.

    This means that women are advantaged over men.

    The logic is unassailable.

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