Monday, July 19, 2010

Elle magazine has some pretty creepy guy friends...

"When I walk the streets on a sunny summer day and the women are out, wearing spaghetti-strap tops and short skirts, their legs bare, the internal monologue starts. The voice in my head, by the way, sounds like Barry White's. Oh yeah. Oh, you like that, right? You mean you want it in there? Oh, yeah."
This was the point in Elle's most recent ElleReaderMen feature where I started to feel a little bit creeped. Typically I enjoy reading through this fairly intellectual fashion magazine, though I tend to disagree with a lot of the editorial content. This particular author is an anonymous man who is informing us on "the sexual fantasy life of men." He expands the experiences and feelings of him and three friends to all of men, but I'm pretty unconvinced. I can imagine a plurality of teenage boys perhaps being so obsessive and objectifying, but that seems pretty unfair as well. A few more samples, to give you a sense of Anonymous's piece:
"...I realized it's not entirely about seeing exposed flesh, however; it's about clothes - shorts, miniskirts - that seem so easily pulled aside for quick access. It's the feeling that I - a perfect stranger - could have this beautiful woman topless in a fraction of a second...and be kissing her bare breast, a sensation hat would feel so good she would be powerless to resist..." [emphasis mine]
A woman friend asks him, "What is it about sex with women who you don't know?" To which he replies (after checking out her rack) " Do you go to the zoo and ask the tigers why they like meat?" (No gay tigers in this zoo, it would appear...). In relating one of his interviewee's thoughts, he began to replace all explicit sexual / vulgar language with cooking terms, he claims for the benefit of his female transcriber's sensitivity.
"If I'm in a contained area, like on an airplane or in a conference, I'll rank every woman in terms of which I would do first, next, and so on. And after I've done the draft, I'll start trading, like saying, 'Okay, if could (fillet) number nine and 10 together, would I trade that experience to (fillet) number one alone?"
In the author's foot notes, he says he hopes this conjures "late nights the Clinton Oval Office rather than afternoons in Lidia's Italian American Kitchen." So for me, it actually conjures supper time with Hannibal Lecter - maybe not the sexy mood he was going for.

I think these are enough excepts to get a sense for his tone. I'll admit he's being a little tongue-in-cheek, but the piece still makes me really uncomfortable, and I'm not sure where he's getting his authority to speak for all men. The only problem the author and his friend's see in their perspectives is that their wives would get jealous and not appreciate it. There is no mention of how any of the, ahem, consumed women feel - only wives' and girlfriends' potential feelings of jealousy and disappointment come up. Surely these men wouldn't want other women (or men!) to know about the ceaseless objectifying monologue running in their heads - colleagues, employees, students, professors, doctors, baristas, children's teachers, siblings, grandparents, pastors, or others. This is seriously compromising stuff and could ruin all of your relationships with women (Hint: they aren't all romantic relationships!)

So I'm not taking the perspective of the jealous wife here, but rather just as a random person walking to the coffee shop, while complete strangers objectify and graphically imagine assaulting me. It's really disturbing. What is more disturbing is that Elle gave him the platform to publish this piece, hid his identity, and let it through editorially with the tacit agreement that he represents all men. Which - allow me to reiterate - I completely disagree with.  It's practically man-hating stuff, which this blog does not condone (despite some controversial and perhaps misguided posts to the contrary.)

But don't worry! Elle tells us, "here's the good news: every woman is desirable." Now if only the editors could learn the difference between desirable and objectifiable, we could get on the same page.


  1. Ugh, that's disgusting! I'm pretty sure Elle picked the most brotastic douchebag dude they could find... I doubt most men fantasize about raping every woman they come across. I hope not. Considering every woman not as a human being but as a place for one's penis- maybe a lot of guys do think that way.

  2. Yeah, that is honestly really creepy. I understand human beings fantasize about sex a lot, and that's fine, but how could this guy carry out any normal platonic relationship with a woman (boss-employee, friend-friend, server-customer, etc) if he can't help but think about her as his very own Real Doll (now with heartbeat!)? Look, it's right there--this is what he does in a conference. Oh dear god.

  3. "You mean you want it in there?"

    What. The. Fuck?

    Thank you, Elle, for taking that little paranoid part of me that thinks every man is Schrodinger's Rapist and dialing it up to eleven.

    Schrodinger's Rapist if you don't know:

  4. The piece is now online, and is every bit as creepy as Mongoose describes. Additional material:
    The running monologue, I find, is familiar to all three of my friends, but I was surprised to learn that Bart’s monologue isn’t merely internal. Unlike the rest of us, who scope à pied, Bart, an attorney, spends a lot of time in his car. “I frequently think that if Felicia ever installed a camera in the car, our marriage would be over after one afternoon of her watching me drive around,” he tells me as he idles in front of his house, feeling, he says, “like a molester” when he talks about the women he ogles from a minivan outfitted with two car seats. Bart is objectively the biggest stud among us. He played varsity sports in high school, and accomplished women still squeal like cheerleaders in his presence. He says he checks out nearly every woman on the street. “I don’t stop the car,” he says. “And I’ll rarely turn around after they’ve passed, but I slow down a lot. And then it’s usually followed by my saying out loud some really nasty comment you’d expect from a sexually repressed 80-year-old man.” Like, for instance? “I find myself saying stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I always say it like I’m speaking to her, like, ‘I’d rip that shit off.’ ”


    So I decided to try to quantify my urges. I stood in front of various businesses in the town where I live, a tally clicker hidden in each hand, and clicked a yes or no for every woman of appropriate age—roughly 18 to 60—who walked through the doors of those establishments within a four-minute period. I brought along my friend Diane, who had agreed to join me so that I’d look more like a researcher, less like a pervert.

    At most locales, my counters came up with the same statistic: roughly half of the women I saw were fantasizable: 45 yes, 47 no at the fancy cosmetics retailer; 16 yes, 15 no at the sceney brasserie where I ate lunch. Fifty percent seemed low to me and almost inconceivably high to Diane. Only two spots produced atypical results. At the kid-friendly novelty chocolatier, I clicked 35 yesses and 46 nos, but mostly because there were many uncomfortably attractive girls who had to be nos (as I couldn’t be sure they were above the age of consent). And in front of the expensive clothing boutique I clicked yes to a full 75 percent. That was because only four women walked in during my four-minute time frame, and one of them happened to be the famous model Jessica Stam.

    Also, it is TERRIBLY written.


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