Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Worst Thing I've Read (Today): Close Your Legs, Ladies; You're Messing Up The Economy

I almost can't believe I'm even responding to this insulting article at the New York Post, which is so blatantly sexist that it's hard to pull anything out of it to really analyze. I'll try anyway.

The entire article is premised on the fact that women have a marketable commodity: sex. Then it goes on to liken sex to the housing market: "Too many foreclosures in one community, and the price of neighboring homes start to plummet."

There are many disturbing assumptions that have to be established in order to  make the metaphors used in the article make sense, namely:
  • "Men want sex more than women do."
  • "it begins at US colleges, where 57% of students are women. With such an imbalanced sex ratio, women are using hookups to compete with other women for men’s affections."
  • “Sexual strategies for making men ‘fall in love’ typically backfire, because men don’t often work like that.”
Suffice it to say that there's a lot wrong here--the idea that women don't want sex, the idea that men don't want love, the idea that women have to use sex to be "competitive" not just as mates, but as human beings.

But what's the worst thing going on in this article? The way that the conclusion blatantly calls for women to tear each other down through slut-shaming:
So, what can women do to return the balance of sexual power in their favor? Stop putting out, experts say. If women collectively decided to cross their legs, the price of sex would soar and women would regain control of the market.
What I hear in interviews with women is plenty of complaining about men or about the dating scene, but their annoyance is seldom directed at other women.
Flickr Markusram

That's right, ladies. If you're unlucky in love, just blame that scantily clad harlot sitting across the restaurant. She's the one who did this to you. Her enjoyment of sex, her cleavage-baring dress, her perfume, her high heels--they're all designed to conquer you. They have nothing to do with her own ability to make decisions about her appearance, sexuality, and pleasure. She has come with one goal in mind: to prevent you from ever getting married.

Why stop there? The article explains that "single women in New York sometimes feel as though sex on the first date is a given: According to the market, it is." So if it's promiscuous women who are responsible for setting this norm, then it's their fault that men expect sex on the first date. Is it also their fault if a man doesn't take no for an answer? Is it their fault that too many women are afraid to leave their houses after dark?

I don't want to start down a slippery slope, but there's something very problematic with placing the responsibility of adult sexual interactions solely on women. It simultaneously creates a culture where women can't depend on one another for support in independent decision making and denies men agency in their own sexuality. In this article, men are non-thinking creatures responding to the whims of the female-controlled market. They are the numbers on the stock ticker, not responsible for the outcomes, just along for the ride.

The article is blatantly sexist against women, but it's sexist against men, too. Men and women are equally capable of enjoying love, sex, and marriage. And they're equally capable of determining which combination of the three is right for them and their partner(s) in each particular time and space. That should go without saying, but apparently it does not. 

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