If there was one book I could have the entire male population read, it would be Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti. It is honest, undramatic, unromantic, and blameless about the objectification of females. As much as we want to bring our heads below our faces, cover the catcalling with our headphones, and clutch whatever safety net we have hidden in our purse as we speed through crowds, that is not always the option. It’s not always the situation either. Sometimes it is our own thoughts about ourselves, what we deserve, what we want, what we have convinced ourselves something means or some else has told us is the meaning of.
We all want to say that we’re stronger than them, that we’re smarter than them, that it doesn’t get to us, that it doesn’t matter, that we’re more than our looks, that we could take them on in a fight, but sometimes those are just words. Words with no power. Slogans we sing to ourselves hoping our minds we’ll register their truth. During sometimes we believe it, sometimes we don’t, and many times we’re working on getting there. As kids, we grow up seeing beautiful faces on television shows, on our books, magazines, every posterboard we stare at during long drives in the backseat. We want to be that, look like that, cause if we do, then we’ll feel like that. So we work, we buy into exercise trends, diet fads, skincare that makes unreasonable guarantees, and makeup with provocative messages. We want to be looked at and noticed, but we want the confidence to not care, and we want the confidence to own it.
What we don’t want is your compliments yelled at on streets, they are of no form of consolation prize for to our music or sense of safety. There is a way to deliver a compliment and yelling it on the street doesn’t make us want the compliment, to take the compliment, or to believe the compliment. It informs us that you think you are allowed to that you have the smug sense to think we have been waiting our entire life to hear those words from your dirty mouth, that you own us and our shininess in your eyes is what values our worth. Spit on a rag and shine yourself. Here’s the first thing you should really think about before ever saying anything to a girl, do you think we give a rats ass about what you say? If we have never met before, chances are, we’d literally rather have a rats ass then your compliment. If you are desperate to give one, like you’ll wake up nights and sweat bullets through the day, try introducing yourself first, please for the love of God nothing clever, because clever either means overly geeky or way-over-done. If she or he has a coffee, ask about that, ask about the book he or she is holding, the weather even in a plain unpragmatic way and introduce yourself. Tell he or she that you know that they don’t know you, that this may mean nothing to you but, and here is where you insert your specific complement.
This and much more Jessica Valenti covers in her book, from her own personal experiences. Experiences like being used as a tool for masturbation on the public transportation, her own affinity for guys lacking ambition, her discovery of her own courage in womanhood even if it’s not her own personal confidence, what being female is really like. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the disturbing, a picture I wonder that if all men saw or read or knew about, would things still be the way they are today? But if seeing is believing, does that include understanding?