I just finished this article from Alternet: Why I Hate Beauty, by Michael Levine. I feel like I should have liked it: “Men are barraged by images of unobtainable women in the media, making it difficult for them to desire the ordinarily beautiful.” Right on, straight dude, tell it like it is. (You really don’t need to read the article, that sentence tells you about all you need to know.)
But I didn’t like the article all that much. If this guy is representative of the average dude out there, the dude species is in an even sorrier state than I had previously thought – how could that be? I already hate men!
I know this sounds ridiculously naive, but I was kind of blown away that thinking people (as this Michael Levine kinda is) still live in the mainstream world where they are barraged with images and people of the type that so upset him. It seems to me that all people with any brains whatsoever have already defected from that world – if not literally, at least in our own minds.
I just came home from 2 days in NYC, and of course there I was inundated with both building-size Calvin Klein ads and lots and lots of “beautiful” women with intense body issues – but don’t all smart liberal people see that world as a sort of wallpaper? I know I’m not the only woman who will see a model walking down the street (the walk always gives it away) and think “What a pretty dress! She looks sad.” instead of “I wish I had her flat stomach.”
Obviously, feminism has been teaching us for years that images like this do matter and they do have real world implications, so why am I slightly grumpy when a guy says the same thing? I guess I just hoped we were smarter and had evolved a little more than we have. I’m not saying that we don’t need to make giant changes in our patriarchal society, all that. But the first change, it seems, is to just ignore that world while we go about the everyday work of building a better one. Resistance is fertile!
I truly think this guy is trying to work through issues and be a good dude to the extent that his rather simplistic mind will let him. I also truly think he’s been completely zombiefied by living in LA (living in LA will make almost anyone into a zombie, this is true, but still.) and has confused fake beauty with true beauty. I know his whole point is that our society has done that to such an extent that men are having trouble getting it up or whatever, but he never really made the point that the LA type of “unattainable beauty” – and what disturbs me is that I really think he means not just that that level of “beauty” is unattainable for most women, but that models and such are unattainable for him* – isn’t beauty at all. It’s not beauty he hates – it’s trash capitalist-driven ideas of what will sell.
Almost everyone I know sees the overly Photoshopped ads and the scary skinny models and feels revolutionary zeal, or intense depression (at the sorry state of the world, not because we’re not sleeping with those models), or blinding anger instead of lust. Maybe my circle is just populated with insanely highly evolved people.
I don’t hate beauty. I hate a misogynist capitalist racist culture that tries to sell us a ridiculously laughable, insulting, jejune and transparent image of what is beautiful.
Hate the game, not the players, dude.
*”So the women men count as possibilities are not real possibilities for most of them. That leads to a lot of guys sitting at home alone with their fantasies of unobtainable supermodels, stuck in a secret, sorry state that makes them unable to access real love for real women.”
“As the head of a public relations agency, I work with these women day and night. You might expect that to make me feel good, as we normally like being around attractive people. But my exposure to extreme beauty is ruining my capacity to love the ordinarily beautiful women of the real world, women who are more likely to meet my needs for deep connection and partnership of the soul.” (Because pretty women are all dumb??)