27 August 2015

The Problem with The Pretty Girls

If you have been paying attention to the news during the past week or so, you have probably seen/heard reports about signs hanging at fraternity houses, dorms, or off-campus houses of male college students, saying things like "Drop off your daughter here - Mom can come too!" or "Daughter Day Care."

Haha.  Soooo funny.  Except they are not.  They are at best rude, and at worst, misogynistic.

Several colleges have taken actions to suspend groups whose signs have appeared on campus.  Each group has SWORN they meant nothing bad, they were "just having fun."

And you know how it is - boys will be boys, right?  (Don't EVEN get me started on that phrase/belief/cultural practice!)

It's all bad enough before The Pretty Girls even get involved.  I'm sure we all know/have known at least one person who was one of The Pretty Girls.  They are the girls who are nice looking, with nice clothes who love to have a good time.  They like to go along with all the fun things at parties, they love to be seen at all the right places on campus, with the right crowd.  They are often nice enough, and friendly enough.  They are not necessarily academically stellar, but not necessarily on the verge of flunking out either.  Their mothers are often former Pretty Girls, or Pretty Girl wannabes.  Their siblings are often other Pretty Girls or Cool Guys.  If they are not , they are usually not spoken of much at all.

In and of themselves, The Pretty Girls can be harmless.   But this week, I saw two different news reports where reporters asked one or more of The Pretty Girls what they thought about those offensive signs.  To a person, they laughed and said things like, "Oh I thought it was funny," "They were just joking," "It is college, you know."  And worst of all, a local news reporter and obvious former Pretty Girl even said after the report, "Well, it was just the guys having fun, you just always need to let your daughters know there is a fine line," and happily laughed it off.

But see, here is the problem. For whatever reason, too many males (college-age and otherwise) think this kind of thing is really funny.  I am willing to bet that at least half of them have never even thought about it NOT being funny.  And as long as The Pretty Girls think it's cute or funny or "just college," there are no reasons for males to think otherwise.  Because, you know if "ugly" girls (read: average-looking) think it's offensive it's probably because they are jealous of the attention.

As someone who was never even eligible to be one of The Pretty Girls (and full disclosure here - never wanted to be one), I'm here to say that it is extremely offensive and at a minimum also quite intimidating to see those kinds of signs.  Anywhere. Any time.

College or high school or heck, even just everyday life, is hard enough without someone joking about what could happen to you just because you are female.  I was lucky in high school - I got fairly good grades and The Pretty Girls were often nice to me ... at least until they realized I wouldn't do their work for them. So I managed to be a bit more invisible, since it was a large school.  In college, it was worse because I went to a small college and there were a lot of well-to-do boys-will-be-boys-ha-ha types and a lot of The Pretty Girls.  I seldom went to school social events, partly because I had two jobs and partly because I didn't even want to see what happened or could happen, whether it was to me or to anyone else.

I am a feminist.  I do not hate men.  I have a really good sense of humor.  I am highly cynical.  I would like to think I am also very empathetic.  I am a regular-looking person, and always have been.  (Granted, now as an older adult woman, I am truly invisible, which is a whole 'nother kind of post here.)

I do think that most parents try to raise their children well, and to be good people.  And I do think that a lot of people who have sons are trying VERY hard in this day and age to make those sons aware of the responsibilities that go with their gender.  I think that a lot of people who have daughters do the same.  In a perfect world, no one would have to even know how The Pretty Girls felt about things, because those things would not be issues in the first place.

But at this point in time, the world is not perfect.  Signs hang at college dorms on move-in day that should never hang anywhere, and The Pretty Girls are happy to laugh it off.

And - as far as I'm concerned - *that* is the problem with The Pretty Girls.


elns said...

Maybe I'm not that smart or that pretty but this is my reaction.

Ugh. When you "invite" someone over only because they are a girl. To me it implies you're only inviting them because they can do girl things for you. And you know what? that's pretty freaking gross.

As a girl. When you say it's okay for the boys or for ANYONE to do that, you're saying people can treat girls how they want to, because they are girls.

That's my base level understanding. It's wrong. It's not equal. It's really, really sexual whether it's said directly or not.

Thanks for the shout-out to parents of BOTH kinds of kids. We need to help them all out the best we can. They are all going to be living together hopefully treating each other equally with a lot of respect -- and it's a race alright. A Human Race.

Ugh. "Daughter Daycare" REALLY?!? I can't.

Lorette said...

Oh man. You just said it all. I can't believe we as a society are even having this discussion. And don't feel bad, I was never a Pretty Girl, or one of the Cool Girls either. The only times that the cool kids wanted anything to do with me is if they thought I might do their algebra homework for them. Unfortunately there are still Cool Kids in adult life too. We have a clique of cool kids at work that "talk mean" about the rest of us peons, which is sort of laughable at our age.

Marie said...

Half a century ago (literally; 1962-65), when I was in high school, we had The Pretty Girls. I was not among them. But I lived in a small town and went to a small school (80 or so people in my senior class), and, while some of them were a bit snooty, most of them were genuinely nice, good-hearted people. When I hear my nieces talk about their high-school experiences now, it breaks my heart. If any boys back in my day had done anything like the frat boys of today, most of them would have had an intense come-to-Jesus talk from their parents. How times change.

Mereknits said...

I applaud you for this post. Never being a Pretty Girl in my past or now I find this all so sad for all the Pretty Girls and those that aren't. I find men's (young and old) response to this sort of thing to be so offensive. With all the media out there constantly telling girls what to do to look better, buy this and use this on you hair, then air brushing every photo so any girl of any age feels ridiculously unworthy is so crazy. And all the women everywhere including my own friends having botox and surgeries because they are aging, and many of them with daughters which just tells them they are not valued as women as they age like their male counterparts. All the messages are so horrible, young women are only to be valued if the are "pretty" and of course valued only for their looks and their bodies certainly not for their incredible minds. Older women are not to be valued for their age and wisdom, no they have to have their eyes done and their boobs lifted. It is all so sickening. Oops I think I ranted a bit here!