Yes, There is Harm in Looking

I told my husband I was going to finally get another blog post up tonight, one much over-due with the busyness and sickness that have dominated my life for the last couple of months. I was considering writing about women’s hair and how they cut it shorter as they get older(something that has been on my mind a lot today) when I stumbled across something on Facebook that has quite literally knocked the breath out of me. (Thanks so much to Kim of It’s a Beautiful Wreck for sharing this, or I probably wouldn’t have seen it.)

Dan of Single Dad Laughing put up a post today that is taking the internet by storm, and rightfully so. In a time where the world is finally realizing how much damage is done by the media with it’s photo-shopped magazine covers and dyed-hair-fake-teeth-artificial-nailed-32DD-implant celebrity photos, Dan has hit on a point that women have been trying to put into words for years.  After pondering on the many criticisms women heap upon themselves, he realizes this is not a view that women have just latched onto for the sake of it-

No woman can possibly have the perfect everything and be the perfect everything. It is impossible, of that I have never been more certain.

Now, you may be naively sitting there thinking, I don’t declare that. I tell women they are amazing. That they are beautiful. That there is nothing wrong with them.

Do you not understand? It doesn’t take opening your mouth to propound these things. It doesn’t take flapping your lips to make a statement. It doesn’t take verbal anything to spread this vicious ideology.

All it takes is you and me, stopping and looking.

I’ve come to realize something profound that I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anybody actually say.

It is not the impossibly air brushed females on magazine covers who are causing women to hold themselves against a standard of perfection. No, it’s not that at all. Holy crap. Why am I just realizing this? Why doesn’t anybody seem to realize this?

It is the men that stop and look at those magazines.

And that simple, repeated act is how we constantly, and never-endingly declare to women that they are not good enough, and will never be good enough.

We stop, and we look.

And women notice.

Women notice every time another woman walks by with “perfect” legs, and the men around her are unable to break themselves of the trance until she is gone.

Women notice every time we size up the girl whose “perfect” boobs are bursting out of her shirt.

Women notice every time we crane our necks as we pass by a Victoria’s Secret store.

Women notice every time we sneak a glance at those magazines in the checkout line.

Women notice every time any woman gets attention for having the “perfect” anything.

Yes, women notice that men are sucked in and captivated by the same fictional things. Over, and over, and over.

And they remember it. They store it. They program their minds to say, “what he is looking at is obviously what men want, and I must have that or men won’t want me”.

A man telling a woman she is beautiful only goes so far when his next action is to nearly break his neck craning to check out a skinny female jogger as they drive by the park. When they stare at other women, when they drool over the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, when they spend their time looking for ‘perfect tits’ online, it sends the message to women that ‘this is what he wants, and you aren’t it’.

Make no mistake, this is not to lay all of the blame at men’s feet. My husband was very quick to point out that biology has it’s place, and that women will immediately size each other up and compare no matter what the situation. To some extent I agree. There is blame to be laid all around- the media, men’s obsessions with those impossible images that are put in front of them from the time they lay hands on their first Playboy, all the way to women’s own responsibility to themselves and their spouses to keep themselves up, physically and mentally.

That said, healing begins at home. The wife who watches her husband sneak the Victoria’s Secret catalog to the bathroom is not going to be inspired to work out, she’s going to be driven to the refrigerator because she’ll never look like that, no matter how many hours she spends with a personal trainer.

Men who read Dan’s post are probably going to call bullshit, and I find that sad, because in doing so they are going to miss out on what so many men claim to want- a deeper understanding of their wives or girlfriends, even if it did have to come from another man.

I Didn’t Get a Raise Because I Forgot to Douche

When considering asking my boss for a raise, I’m not sure ‘remember to douche’ would be at the top of the to-do list. Or in the top 5. Or even the top 100.

Put Down the Knives BlogHers, The Nikon Debacle Does Not Call For Blood

I’m starting to believe what they say about women’s cycles synchronizing when they spend time together. Clearly the women on Twitter this week are on a mission to take down someone, somewhere. The mommybloggers are out for blood.

It started with the whole PR blackout thing. From there both sides argued back and forth till they were blue in the face, and apparently the topic even made it to the BlogHer conference this weekend. No casualties have been reported so far, so all seems well there, and hopefully a consensus was reached.

Then last night I started seeing mention of an incident that made me do a double-take. It seems at least one mommyblogger at the BlogHer 2009 conference was invited to a party held by Nikon, but then was turned away when the limo arrived to pick them up, because they had babies in tow. ‘No babies allowed’ was the rule of the evening, and when news of this hit Twitter, the BlogHers were on it like a hungry pitbull on a raw steak.

Just as viciously I might add. The hashtag ‘#nikonhatesbabies’ was quickly created, and news spread like wildfire. What started as an event to reach out to these women bloggers turned into what is likely to be their worst hurry-up-and-cover-your-ass PR shitstorm of the year.

I have to admit to being a little shocked at first. Women bloggers..babies..not allowing babies at the event? Seems like horribly distorted logic to me. Then I started reading into it.

Once you get past the OMG no they didn’t! bit, it starts to make sense. This is Nikon’s first year at BlogHer, a very important fact to remember. What Nikon saw going into this was demographics. Women ages whatever to whatever, bloggers, active in social media, average reach of whatever number audience. Just as they would with any other event they looked to sponsor. The problem came when they failed to look beyond what they saw on paper. It was not Nikon’s direct decision to not allow babies. That policy was actually dictated by the venue that was booked. Yes, Nikon was in charge of picking the place, but remember again, Nikon has never been to BlogHer before.

Women need to remember that babies and conferences traditionally do not go together. Blogher is incredibly progressive in that they welcome and help arrange childcare for those mothers who have to bring their kids. Most conferences cannot or do not make that sort of provision. Which means that there is a very good chance that this is the first time Nikon has dealt with an event of this sort that babies even become an issue.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Nikon was any way right in this. Whoever they put in charge of coordinating this event dropped the ball. Turning away influential women you invited to a party *because they are influential* is going to land you in a little hot water, no avoiding it.

Yet I can’t help but feel bad for Nikon here. The restaurant’s policy was clear- no babies. When that venue is providing the space and the food, it’s not like they could have at that very moment picked up and moved it elsewhere. Their hands were tied, and they had to make do the best they could.

In the end, it was a mistake. A bad, bumbly mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.

One that certainly does not warrant trying to declare to Twitter and the world that “#nikonhatesbabies”. Because they don’t. They are a company like any other, who made a simple error in planning, in an arena that they are just starting to dip a toe into. They are new to this, and they made a blunder. We all have at some point.

What concerns me is what effect this outcry for blood is going to do to future events. After being labeled baby-haters this year, what do you actually think the chances are that Nikon, a large company with a lot of cash to spend, will actually sponsor future BlogHer events? Sponsorship BlogHer relies on to keep these events affordable for everyone. Again, we are not talking about a company that knew the rules and purposely stepped on people’s toes, just one who didn’t understand how the game is played, and dropped the ball because of it.

I can’t understand why the knee-jerk reaction is to make as much of a shitstorm as possible, when it seems to me all they need is a little educating. I think a few thoughtfully written letters to Nikon explaining their blunder would have been far more useful, and less likely to fuck things up for everyone in terms of future BlogHer sponsorship.

With great power comes great responsibility, and in this case, it’s being wielded about as carefully as a hyper 2 year old with a freshly sharpened butcher knife.