Kind of like when cartoons give a female animal character long hair or eye lashes, lipstick, or (human type) breasts - even if she isn't a mammal - because if a cartoon animal just looks like an animal "obviously" it must be male(??)
It goes way deeper than corporations and marketing. We have all internalized it. Even the girl who wrote the letter.)
The guy really was "asking for it" when he yelled back at the gang members. Not because of how he was dressed or any signals he gave off, but because he YELLED BACK AT GANG MEMBERS!...
every male above about the age of 13 who lives in an area with street crime knows that doing that will get the shit beat out of you. Because the reality is that men are the victims of violent crime by strangers over 1/3 more often (down from twice as often a couple decades ago). What any male with even an ounce of street smarts does when a group of 4 dangerous looking teens starts harassing him verbally is ignore it, let it go, and continue with his life. Sometimes women yell or insult them back - and the reason they think this is ok is because most of the time they can get away with it - almost all men, even the low life scum who look for excuses to attack strangers, have internalized the (sexist) rule of "never hit a woman".
But then, in the few instances where it does escalate to violence - and despite the fact that it escalates to violence more often with men - we take those examples and pretend it proves that women are disproportionately victims. It isn't because the statistics actually support it. Its because our misogynist society starts out with the premise that women are victims as a given, and then looks for the evidence to support it.)
Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, the focus was on allowing women to participate in democracy. Around the time of world war II (due to necessity) women entered the work force in large numbers and after, due partly to that, partly to politics, and partly to technology, women were more and more free to be something other than a house wife, even if they got married. In the 50s and 60s there was a struggle to change American culture to allow women to wear pants - and while that success has become so common place that its a complete non-issue today, the phrase taken from that transition still has the same meaning today - if a woman "wears the pants" in the relationship, it means she is the head of the household.
The vast majority of women are heterosexual, and the vast majority have at least one serious intimate relationship at some point in life. So the social roles expected of men are directly relevant to women. For one thing, the things that women traditionally did still need to get done. Allowing women to enter what was once men's sphere, while not allowing men to enter women's, leads directly to the modern challenges of women who want to have both a career and a family.
Manufacturing and other traditionally-male semi-skilled labor jobs - jobs which once provided a comfortable and respectable life - were in decline, leaving a lot of men struggling to adapt. Meanwhile, more women graduated universities than men, and began taking higher level professional jobs.
Surveys found that the average single man was willing to marry a woman with more education or more income (as well as one with less) than himself, but this was not reciprocal.
That explanation definately would make sense: men have had about about half a century to get used to the idea of strong independent women, several generations have grown up taking female police officers and business leaders and politicians for granted - men my age or younger don't actually remember the time when women were barred from traditionally male roles. However the stay-at-home-dad, the sensitive nurturing husband, the sexually submissive boyfriend, these things are relatively new. Perhaps it will just take more transition time for women to adapt to egalitarianism, to start seeing "feminine" men as being sexy, the way men have accepted "masculine" women can be sexy.
But not necessarily. The human brain is pretty complex, and culture has managed to have us go against instinct before (most notably in the suppression of violence).
Tell me, my heterosexual female readership:
I could be totally wrong.
Correct me if I am.
I am very open to being proved wrong.
I would love it if I was wrong.
All of my personal experience, not to mention the statistics, tell me I'm not, but I'm still open to new information.
If so, why are trusting and being comfortable with a person anti-sexy traits?
If you would want your partner to be your friend, why would you not consider a close friend as a candidate for partner?
Have you ever not said what you wanted, or not made the first move, because you wanted the guy to be the one to initiate?
Do you sympathize with the women from the article?
If the answer to, not necessarily all, but even just any one of them is yes, why do you think that is?
Is it something you've learned, something you've internalized from cultural expectations, or do you suspect its something deeper, more primal than that?
But if its universal, or an overwhelming trend, if even just more than 50% of straight women answer "yes" to any of the above questions, then there are obviously sociopolitical implications.
Or, at least, it seems obvious to me - yet it seems like nobody notices.
In a different context these same women will object to, for example, sexual harassment, but somehow see no connection between the two. Men who harass are like spam or telemarketers or junk mail - all it takes is one positive response in 10,000 to make the strategy successful, but if the positive response rate was absolute zero, they wouldn't waste their time. And it shouldn't be surprising that some women respond positively to what others call harassment, if in other contexts a power differential is seen as desirable.
As I pointed out in the rape and feminism blog post, if we want to reduce date rape, it is absolutely vital that women not ever say "no" when they really mean "yes" - and surveys find that the majority of young, sexually active women, by their own admission, have done exactly that at some point in their lives (61%). When I first read the statistic, I assumed it was due to cultural expectations, a way to avoid 'slut shaming' - "There's bound to be talk tomorrow" ... "At least I'm gonna say that I tried" - but after reading the NY Times article that inspired what I'm writing now, I wonder if there's more to it after all.
There are no college or corporate educational videos, no pamphlets or handouts, no protest rallies or petitions, that address how women view men or sexuality. We tell men not to look at women as sexual objects, and leave it at that, as though it were a given that we don't need to tell women not to want to be looked at as sexual objects - even though there is a lot of evidence that says they many (most?) do. The former will never succeed without the latter, because the message men get from women in their personal lives will always outweigh the message they get from activists or the human resources department.