7.25.2006

the "hot" diatribe, or why women don't think like men

double post day. I have been stewing over this for a little while, though, so here it is.

in case I haven't mentioned it before, I work with alot of men. men who think of me as a non-woman. which is fine; they are less guarded, they talk freely, I feel like I'm accepted as one of their own - the jane goodall to their ape-icity. the unfortunate byproduct is knowing who they think is hot. or what parts of who they think are hot parts. and for the most part, I'm okay with that. every once in a while, though, I think about it too much and I start comparing. I guess it's human nature - or at least female nature. and that really gets me nowhere. I sit here worrying about that flat fruit I just ate or the fact that I had french toast sticks for breakfast, when no amount of dieting is going to make my boobs bigger or make me taller or otherwise transform me into someone they consider "smokin hot". and the feminist in me says "I don't want that anyways" but who doesn't like it when they're told they are beautiful? even if it's in a more base way, like "smokin hot".

the thing about it is that it's a complete double standard. I mentioned to one of my coworkers that I thought one of the other men here in a different department had really beautiful eyes. in fact, he is known to have pretty eyes - other women have described him in this way. the dude I was talking to perked up his ears, asking if women here say anything else about men. which men? what do they say? and the unasked question - "do they say anything about ME?? cause I'm pretty hot, if you haven't noticed." and really, they don't. and even when they talk about the one guy's eyes (anyone would say it - he has dark hair, light complexion, and piercing blue eyes) it's in a context of appreciation and not objectification. but the double standard comes in when I was talking about mr. blue eyes to my coworker, he started getting all antsy, wondering what women were saying about him, about other men, whether he stacked up. yeah, how does that feel, anyways?

the real crux of my entry here is, of course, focused on me. because this is my blog. sorry. anyway, I need to figure out what my boundaries are. on one hand, I want people to be as frank with me as possible. I hate thinking that someone's holding back. on the other hand - I try really hard to be as above-it-all as possible but I'd be lying if I said it doesn't give my self esteem a few hits. I think about this more often as the reality of my being single again sets in. the thing I hated about dating was the endless critique I and others gave to my physical being. there are all kinds of beautiful in the world - which, by the way, is something MOST women understand far better than MOST men - but if you don't think there's one kind, the smokin hot kind, that is the apex that women feel they should at least try to meet, then you're kidding yourself.

the interesting part of this is how men and women react to the same kind of critique. men feel comfortable talking about women in this fashion no matter how they themselves feel they look. there is something about the way some men can reconcile within themselves that looking at women is one thing, and doesn't mean that whomever they're with is not, in their own right, beautiful in a way that no other woman on earth can rival. I am so not wired to think that way and I do, in a weird way, admire that quality in men. I could sit here and wonder if it's social conditioning that doesn't allow me to understand that, or if it's hardwired into the X chromosomes. doesn't matter. I know it's being stated in english, yet I can't understand a word of it.

what I'm left with is trying to reconcile all of this within myself. I know I am a pretty kick-ass lady. I have confidence, I can rise above, I have charisma, and I am definitely not ugly. I'm never going to be the girl that makes men stop in their tracks, but there's nothing I can do about that. so when these men around me make these comments, for the most part, I'm okay with it. it's just sometimes...well...us normal girls need some compliments, too. and that makes me kind of ashamed, that I need some sort of outside validation. but...I'm human. right? right??

17 validations:

lonna said...

That's why when I was in my early 20s it was so great to have a ton of male friends who were all gay:)Actually I had three friends who were not gay and I ended up hooking up with two of them. The other one was in awe of women and never really talked about them in that way (although I was told later he had a crush on me and that was part of that). It was great fun to compare straight and gay men with my gay friends. We learned a lot about what we liked and didn't like. I am known to like "freaks" and so does my best friend, and yet we both ended up with fairly traditionally handsome men. Go figure. I have always found that the men I think are "smokin' hot" actually suck when I get to know them. Somehow that doesn't seem to affect straight men.

I'm with you on the self esteem though. Some days I focus on my intelligence, warmth, caring, cooking, strength, etc. And other days all I focus on is what I see in the mirror and I have no idea how Ethan can stand to be with me. I can't even imagine what it would be like if I was in this situation and single. I think I would just assume that men wouldn't like me and I wouldn't even try. Fortunately, you haven't sunk that low, but I am definitely feeling what you are saying.

Katy said...

Not too long ago the things that made a woman "smokin hot" were different. In the not too distant future, they'll be different again. An unfortunate side affect of being "one of the guys" (which I have been for most of my life) is that we never get to hear what they say about us. If we do hear what they say about us, it's no longer a secret attraction, and therefore no longer special or mysterious. I remember an instance in High School that I got after the guys I was friends with because of this same situation. Being guys they all just figured I knew how smokin hot I was, in fact I was met with a chorus of "Have you seen you??"s. Even hearing some of my favorite guys list off my hot qualities ("The legs Katy! The legs!!!") didn't change the fact that they weren't whispering about me. Well obviously! They couldn't whisper about me too me! That'd just be weird. So we don't hear the lustful comments of our male counterparts. Especially now that we're grown ups in the business world, everyone's so terrified of sexual harassment we can't even pay each other compliments. Luckily though I am delusional enough to tell myself that someday someone will look at me and think I'm smokin hot, and that one is the only one who's opinion really matters.

Stine said...

That's why when I was in my early 20s it was so great to have a ton of male friends who were all gay:)

That's funny Lonna, me too.

And man, forget being ashamed because you need outside validation. I mean seriously P, we ALL do. Married, single, gay, straight or whatever. I do think that marriage creates a false sense of having outside validation - to a certain extent. So I mean it's no wonder that you're feeling this way, especially now. I'm glad that you recognize and can validate all those good qualities in yourself. But I think you need a bit more, and I hope it doesn't fall on deaf ears because it's coming from a chick. As Katy has said, have you looked at you? And tell me these ladies can EVEN give head like you or I do (and I haven't even met you). P, these ladies couldn't touch your sharp-witted tongue, your bawdy sense of humor, your delightful smile. You're hot as hell, just ask any of the Seattle boy contingent.

You SO have it going on.

NME said...

I hate listening to men objectify women. It makes my blood boil.

We all need validation. And just thinking about ever having to date again makes me break out in hives. Yuck.

the beige one said...

Katy's entry is dead on perfect in describing why you don't hear about you from your co-workers...Think about it in reverse: If there was a guy in your immediate work environment, how likely would you be to let him know that he inspired lustful and wrong thoughts and that he should be punished and punished hard? (Needless to say, I'm waiting to be on the receiving end of that exchange...someday)

As to how hot you are, the qualities Stine describes definitely ups the "hot" factor, but I sense you're talking about physical hotness, and uh, I can't talk about that without turning into either Beavis and/or Butthead. Besides, I haven't *seen* you physically, and that makes a big difference...On behalf of the Seattle men, you should definitely take that as a hint to visit the Pacific NorthWest. There will be a thorough testing period, and results will be mailed to you within 4-6 weeks.

Rebecca said...

Wow. Have I really been gone that long???

Patrice, you are amazing. And I'd like to point out that in my experience, when I find a man physically attractive that counts for something. But when they turn into jerks (well, okay, in many but not all instances) they lose a lot of their attractiveness. Keep that in mind when you feel down on yourself. You have so many great qualities beyond physical traits that make you beautiful!

TD said...

Blah, blah, blah, blah...

That's probably the gist of this comment, because I'm drunk and rammy. I have my days -- lord do I have my days -- but I find that as 30 looms nearer, I'm beginning to like myself more physically.

I have a big ass.
I have short legs.
I have man-calves.
I have less-than-super-perky boobs.

And honestly, some days all of that gets the better of me. But more and more, I'm finding I don't have time for it. I have time to be healthy to be sure, time to do yoga, and run, and try to drink enough water (but I still contend that ALL water has a "taste," even the bottled kind), but most of the time, I don't have time to fret about why I'm not taller/skinnier/blonder/whathaveyou.

Which brings me to you: I'm not jumping all over your shit here (at least not intentionally), but damn, Patrice. You're gorgeous. And I won't lie to you: you may not be the stereotypical red-blooded American male fantasy, but would you really want to be? Would you really want to give up your amazing fair skin or enormous dark eyes or petite (yes, I said it, and you are) frame?

I've thought you were intimidatingly adorable since I first started working with you years ago, and you still are. More so, even. I know you're not fishing for compliments, but it breaks my heart to see all of my "normal" friends who are anything but feel crappy about themselves over things they can't change without the aid of thousands of dollars and a scalpel.

I know this is a serious case of the pot lecturing the kettle, so forgive me. I just think sooner or later, shit has got to change.

Or I need to end my love affair with beer.

the beige one said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
the beige one said...

...stereotypical red-blooded American male fantasy...

Is there such a thing?

CC said...

I too have always been the girl with alot of guy friends. I completely understand what you mean about them being able to talk about a "hot" girl and not be down on themselves about whether or not they could get her, etc. Why are women so insecure? I think all of us still have this little insecure girl trapped inside of us. Some days I feel like I could be a freakin supermodel. I have curves, gorgeous hair, almond eyes, and great boobs. Other days, I feel frumpy and think my ass is too big and my skin is horrible, but then I come home and my boyfriend tells me that my body is smokin! What?!?!?! Sometimes I think he is talking about someone else. But he isnt. He is talking about me!
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and sometimes what I think is a gorgeous woman my boyfriend will think otherwise.
But your guy work friends... where is the boundry? I know what you mean. When I was just out of college I worked in a restaurant where there was no such thing as sexual harassment. I had a guy slap my ass once when i walked into the kitchen. When I yelled at him and told him it was inappropriate he got mad at me! I made sure all the guys that worked knew I wasnt going to put up with their flirting, ass slapping bullshit. I was there to work.
I think you should set some kind of boundry, even if it is a personal one and stick to it. Once you or someone else oversteps you have to address otherwise, noone will know where the boundry is.

Missuz J said...

Not much left to say, as I'm kind of late on this one.

So--a general chorus of "what they said."

Plus, eat your heart out, seattelites; I HAVE seen sexy P in the flesh, and what lovely flesh it is, too. In addition to the to-die-for porcelin skin and sweet round bottom, she has a gorgeous tattoo on the back of her neck that is absolutely biteable.

thelyamhound said...

First of all: I've only seen pictures, and while your should-be-impending Seattle visit would certainly offer me an opportunity to better inform my opinion, YOU, my dear, are a rather striking, beautiful woman. Your dry wit and tattoos would elevate you to the status of hot, in my book (though I never, ever preface said description with the word "smokin'").

And yes, I'm saying so while still recognizing that 'Stine is beautiful AND hot in a way no other woman can equal. My mother was always able to comment in such ways on men, so I'm inclined to believe that any difference between each gender's ability to do so is primarily a matter of social construct.

Just out of curiosity . . . What do you think the difference is between appreciation and objectification? I tend to objectify those people I appreciate aesthetically MORE than I do those whom I notice erotically, because there's so much in the way of personality and character tied into the latter. Hence, the "hot" person is actually more multi-dimensional, more human to me, than the mere statuesque beauty whose eyes go well with his hair.

As for insecurity, I totally hear you. Men may feel comfortable talking about a hot woman, but note that we aren't saying these things to her face. I think we really DO worry about whether we stack up. At the risk of raising the ire of TBO or 'Stine, I fuss and fret over the hair on my shoulders and little pinches (TBO won't let me call them handles or rolls) of fat at the beltline; I worry that I'm not pulling baldness off as attractively as a Patrick Stewart or a John Malkovich. It's actually even worse if I move past the physical. Amongst actors, being funny is considered a very important social skill, and one which I lack entirely (try as I might, I'm generally about as funny as a Butoh dancer interpreting an abortion clinic bombing). And I can be drawn to doubt my wit by something as small as, say, some hottie from PA's apparent disinterest in adding me to her link-list of interesting blogs. ;^)

That said, my sensitive Seattleite, bisexually responsive ways may disqualify me from speaking for males at large.

don't think there's one kind, the smokin hot kind, that is the apex that women feel they should at least try to meet, then you're kidding yourself.

Do you think there's a universal apex that applies for most men? It seems to me there's a lot of room for variation. And even if I were to try to construct my own "apex", I'd have to break down and laugh at what a compendium of all my fetishes she'd turn out to be.

thelyamhound said...

Oh, I like the new picture, BTW. It reminds me how much I miss my nosering.

Stine said...

So I just saw the new picture too, and well Ly, great minds think alike.

And Beck, thanks for that description, eat your heart out indeed.

the beige one said...

...what lovely flesh it is, too. In addition to the to-die-for porcelin skin and sweet round bottom, she has a gorgeous tattoo on the back of her neck that is absolutely biteable.

le sigh.

jon said...

I think I had a rambling dream last night that was just like this comments thread. Except playing the part of Patrice was Golda Meir. Oh, and Harry Potter was riding naked on a horse. Dreams do come true!

Rebecca said...

Wow, you have some extremely long comments here. Let's see how I stack up.

The first few sentences of your post made me smile, because I definitely know the feeling of being accepted into a group of guys who seem to forget you're a woman - when I was in band in high school I was the only girl that played a low brass instrument, and the trombone section was usually me and about three males, who just thought of me as one of the guys. It was pretty funny, actually.

I went jeans shopping last weekend, and it was horrific. I ended up with jeans three or four sizes bigger than the ones I had when I was sixteen (and keep in mind I'm only nineteen now). So I'm also going through the whole "as a feminist I shouldn't care so much about physical beauty... but I do" thing.

That's my two cents. Guess my comment turned out to be pretty long too.