Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Hateful comments about women aren’t always about rape

When a woman complains on the Internet, we know there are going to be rape threats. And important clarifications that the woman in question is too old or ugly to rape.  But most negative Internet comments about women – at least about non-specific women – are, if anything, more depressing. 

For example, look at these comments. WARNING: they were written by Daily Mail readers.  The story is about how lots of British women dislike the sight of their own naked bodies.  Let’s be clear, this was the conclusion of a poll by a diet company and reported by the Daily Mail, so we shouldn’t do anything as rash as believe anything at all that is written but in this case, that’s not the point.  The point is the comments.

Let’s suppose the story is true and 60% of women hate the way they look naked. Let’s strain our brains to figure out how that state of affairs might have come about.  My guess would be that the worlds commands women to look a certain way and complains when they don’t. In public. All the time. It tells women who are widely agreed to be impossibly beautiful that they’re looking a bit rough. Then it tells all women that if they don’t look like movie stars, there’s something wrong with them.  Because – and this is the overall message – the only real purpose of women is to look nice. 

That was my guess, but it turns out I was wrong. The real reason, according to the readers of the Daily Mail, is that those women really are are fat and ugly and they are right to feel bad about themselves.

I was serious about that warning, by the way. Some of those comments are very horrible. They range from saying that women are disgraceful for not looking how a particular man wants them to look to people saying it doesn’t matter whether a woman likes how she looks naked since the only thing that should matter to her is whether her partner is happy with the way she looks. Lots explicitly say that women should work harder to look good for their partners.

I was going to quote some of the comments to mock the DM readers, but they really were too horrible. I’ll content myself with pointing out again that this story was in THE DAILY MAIL: a newspaper that uses as many column inches as possible to criticise women’s bodies and obsessively praise the bodies of very young girls in bikinis.

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