Ugly As Sin: The Forever Price of Being Looked At

In David Foster Wallace’s cringe-inducing book, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, he writes, “Or like just another manipulative pseudopomo Bullshit artist who’s trying to salvage a fiasco by dropping back to a metadimension and commenting on the fiasco itself.”

From now on, we will refer to this statement as the backbone to misogyny, the cornerstone of toxic masculinity in response to women’s actuality. This? Explains just about everything.

What better pseudopomo bullshit is there than misogyny? More poignantly, that of the older, whiter kind, a late-’50s type of misogyny that is bred out of years of being able to get by with treating most women like utter garbage, and yet, also now living in the gathering days of women gaining rights. Think Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and almost the entirety of the GOP spouting off nonsense on what rape actually is. Add Scott Walker’s latest antics to anything else you might have missed in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past ever. The older white men, everyone else sect: hysterical in thinking that their rights are actually the ones being imposed on, theatrical in their contempt, and most importantly, heroes in their own minds who think they are solving the crisis of takeover by reining in the terror of equal rights by way of thinly veiled or outright misogyny, dressed up as them telling the truth that the rest of politically correct America can’t handle.

Ain’t that some shit?

We can assuredly apply this theory to the political blogger who just so happens to be New Hampshire state Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R). Vaillancourt takes today’s (yes, just today, because there is always a tomorrow) prize for “just another manipulative pseudopomo Bullshit artist who’s trying to salvage a fiasco by dropping back to a metadimension and commenting on the fiasco itself” after denouncing Rep. Ann Mclane Kuster, who is currently running for mid-term elections against her better-looking opponent, Republican Marilinda Garcia.

If you aren’t familiar with Representative Vaillancourt, here’s a quick overview from his recent post, “If Looks Really Matter.” Luckily, it begins with that golden phrase, “I don’t plan to say anything really offensive here…” which if you tend to be a living, breathing human being with an ounce of smarts to your soul and a couple tenor notes of empathy, you know to be code for, “I actually am about to say something totally offensive and assholeish, but I refuse to take accountability for it because freedom of speech, political correctness, etc.”

In New Hampshire’s second congressional district, if I may be so bold as to speak the truth, Republican Marilinda Garcia is one of the mot [sic] attractive women on the political scene anywhere, not so attractive as to be intimindating [sic], but truly attractive.

How attractive is Marilinda Garcia? You know how opposition ad makers usually go out of their way to find a photo of the opponent not looking his or her best. Well…Democrats and Annie Kuster supporters can’t seem to find a photo of Marilinda Garcia looking bad at all.

As for Annie….oh as for Annie…and before I continue, I offer that caution, caution, caution, gain [sic].

Let’s be honest. Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven’t offended sin.

If looks really matter and if this race is at all close, give a decided edge to Marilinda Garcia.

Vaillancourt, under the guise of hoping to be terribly shocking, is about as shocking as when well-to-do suburban middle school boys discover mainstream — they think they are jumping the gun with their own forwardness, rather than just buying the bullshit that is specifically being catered to their limited thinking. A limited thinking that is even further undermined by the idea that men’s physicality doesn’t come under the same guidelines, nor the same structures of power.

Women seem to only exist in trapped vehicles, forever things to be viewed under the scope of “being looked at.” Everything else? That comes second. Which, in addition to being backasswards, is well, completely boring.

The thing is, it just doesn’t end. There is the whole spiel about how becoming a woman past her prime (which coincidentally, is also something that might need rethinking) is that you become invisible or hag-like — you are unworthy solely based on your physical appearance. You unfortunately go from being the representation of youth or beauty or virility (aka, fuckability) to invisible, ugly, hag-like, or one of the other myriad ways to describe what it means to have the privilege of aging. Kuster not only seems to rattle Vaillancourt’s perceptions of the roles that women are actually existing in, but the notion that women, even if not appealing to that particular man: 1. give a shit what that person thinks, and 2. that their physical worth is the only thing that allows them entry to the world of the older white man, everyone else sect.

Garcia isn’t getting off easy, either. While she might not register as a “hag” in Vaillancourt’s eyes, her physical attraction still signifies that she is somehow more qualified and also totally worthy, since she measures up to Vaillancourt’s standards of what women should look like. But that club? That club is not interested in permanent membership from someone like Garcia, because Garcia, like her counterpart, will one day age. Garcia will become old, maybe even “ugly as sin.” There isn’t really a winning card here, just one that permits and tolerates your presence for a little longer. Even with such a pass, you still exist outside the default norm, even if you just so happen to gain membership sometimes to the default norm. Which, with such touch-and-go membership, I’d like to say: honey, you really think that’s such a good idea?

Women’s bodies will never be neutral. They are like free buffets set up for public consumption, only the reality is that most women have to live in those bodies. So when someone is feasting away on you, while commenting on how bad the set-up looks, it’s hard not to spin around and give a classic, “Well, what the fuck?” But being looked at is the price for being marked “female” (or furthermore, anything that is othered). I think of this often as my own body is beginning to age. Not terribly, but as a woman staring at 30, I am beginning to see my body become something else. No longer is it easy to take the advantage of being just youthful. My hands are a touch more crinkled, metabolism slowing a bit more down.

And yet, I have never felt so comfortable in my own skin.

Youth is like an appendage that everyone wants to have, to taste, consume. Being old, it seems, is a curse for women. One day you will not be fuckable says the Vaillancourts of the world — you will not be considered worthy in our eyes to have a place at the table. But is that really that bad of a card to play? Other than having to deal with the same old “manipulative pseudopomo Bullshit artist who’s trying to salvage a fiasco by dropping back to a metadimension and commenting on the fiasco itself,” these guys are just recycling the same BS about women who they feel are worthy year after year, maybe hoping to keep the older white men, everyone else sect intact. And they can’t. 

The world is changing, boos. And that’s scary for men like Vaillancourt. What was once unquestionably all theirs, is now being spread — maybe not quick enough for most, but still, being spread around. Things are changing, sister, and like a child that goes for the most hurtful thing they can think of in their arsenal, Vaillancourt goes for what’s easiest: whether he wants to bone you or not.

I think we’ll live, even if considered ugly as sin.

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One thought on “Ugly As Sin: The Forever Price of Being Looked At”

  1. And they just don’t understand that if only they’d see women as more than banquets, more than bodies, that they’d see US ..

    heck, we could save the world together. No time wasted on birth control fights, rape-but-not-rape-rape, sexism and so on. But it won’t happen, so I guess we have to get our head start in and leave these messes behind.

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