Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'm so confused...or, That's a really stupid attitude

Question for you all: When you're listening to the radio in the car, do you ever get so angry and what you are hearing that you nearly have to pull over and stop?

Happened to me today, on the way to the grocery store and on the way home as well. I was listening to a local "classic rock" (in quotations, because some of what they play isn't especially classic in my opinion, but whatever), and the DJ was on about The (former) Governator (that would be Arnold Schwarzneggar for all of you non-Californians) and his recently-revealed behavior. Was the DJ criticizing Ah-nold for having an affair? No. Was he congratulating him in that way some males have sometimes, for "getting some"? Not that, either.

No. He was raking the former governor over the coals for having had an affair with a woman who was uglier than his wife.

Yeah. You read that correctly. This guy was getting lots of jaw mileage over the fact that Arnold Schwarzneggar had sex, and even conceived a child with, a woman who was not sufficiently beautiful. And, by extension, criticizing the woman for being ugly, and implying that only those who are movie-star beautiful should expect to get to have sex. Or anyway, that sure sounded to me like the subtext of his remarks.

This isn't the only place I've heard comment of one sort or another about the looks of the woman in question. I was half-watching The View yesterday while I was working, and when they showed a photo of this woman, half the audience gasped, as if to say, "He had sex with her?" Whoopi Goldberg offered a critique of that attitude, but the fact remains that a certain (probably fairly high) percentage of the American people have the attitude that a woman who is less than young and beautiful has no business having sex, and that anyone who would have sex with such a woman has something wrong with them, and a big movie star like Arnold S. (because he does have a long-ass last name, and I'm tired of typing it out) has even something more wrong with him if he does so.

This isn't new. We heard the same thing when Bill Clinton's affair, or whatever it was, with Monica Lewinsky was revealed. There were lot of comments such as, "But she's fat" and "She's not very pretty". Clinton was a powerful man; why would he stoop to having sex with a non-beautiful woman?

What it all goes back to is how women are marginalized, and how women who are not-young, not-pretty and not-thin are marginalized even more. I suppose what surprised me was that this guy on the radio was trying to marginalize Arnold for being with an already marginalized woman. And, in the question he was asking his audience, and soliciting comment about, was "Why would a man have an affair with a woman who was uglier than his wife?" Which, of course, was also a comment on Maria Shriver's looks.

I don't know. I guess the question that I'm really trying to get to is, Why does it even matter what a person looks like? I'm not saying that I don't notice good-looking me, and don't trade comments about who's hot and who's not. But, as a practical matter, in interpersonal relationships, why does it even matter to people outside the relationship, what the parties to the relationship look like? It is vastly more important to me what a person is like. Are they nice, are they funny, are they smart? If they're good-looking as well, well, that's bonus. But looks are not the starting point and the stopping point in deciding whether I want to be friends, or lovers, for that matter, with a man.

Ah, well. This has turned into a rant. Sorry. But it is just one of those situations that occasionally makes me wonder if I was sent to the wrong planet when I was born.

Because I just don't understand.

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