Raise your hand if this isn’t the first article you’ve read today. How about if you’ve clicked on an article today that your friend shared? If you’ve shared one yourself?
Yes– there are plenty of voices out there, and they’re all over cyberspace. It’s great that the Internet has provided an outlet for so many thoughts and feelings (mine included), but I have to point out that some of the published sentiments that incessantly appear on my newsfeed are growing frustratingly redundant, and I’m not just talking about the ever-popular list format. Rather, there seems to be a trend within these trending posts that attempts to smash people–particularly women– into neat little boxes and pass off sexist stereotypes as revolutionary pearls of wisdom.
I don’t expect complaining to make anything on the Internet disappear– I’ve browsed through too many comment sections to have that much optimism– but I would like to offer up some perspective regarding the kinds of articles I’ve grown very tired of seeing pop up.
Here are the articles I could do without coming across ever again:
1. Articles That Tell Me Why I’m Single
The gist of these articles are usually captured by the titles, which more or less translate to This Is Why You Can’t Get a Date.
Right away, we have a problem: In offering to explain singledom upfront, there’s an implication that there’s probably something a little faulty in your wiring if you’ve managed to make it this far without landing a date– and this just isn’t true or fair. We will never be able to make any progress on how we view relationships (or ourselves for that matter) if we continue to hold onto the belief that a person alone is a person unfulfilled. Single is not a synonym for broken, and the last thing anyone needs is a list of (generally superficial and biased) traits to live up to in order to consider oneself proper dating material.
Of course, both men and women can suffer from feeling discouraged by their single status, but these articles will have you believe that a greater pressure falls on women to eschew just your flaws already and get a man, goddammit! And one of those flaws may very well be having an opinion, or as one writer puts it, “there are times when women all but talk themselves out of a guy approaching them just by not knowing when to stop.” Not only is this commentary exceedingly simple, but it’s hella binary. Women don’t have some inherent, biological quality in their voice that wards off men when they’ve exceeded some arbitrary verbal word count; everyone, regardless of gender, has the capacity to say something that merits a foot in one’s mouth, and this article and like-minded authors demonstrate that very clearly.
2. Articles That Tell Me How To Feel About My Pubic Hair
How many times have you come across an article arguing the pros and cons of pubic hair– or worse, lecturing you on which preference is superior? How many times has the same discourse centered on the male pubis? My guess to the latter is rarely, if ever.
This is all you need to know: Some women shave their pubic hair, some women don’t. Some women alternate. Some women are still figuring out which style best suits them. Some women will find that their taste changes as they get older. The answer to the frequently discussed pubic hair question, you’ll find, is vast and varied. It’s almost as if women are complex and unique individuals with equally unique bodies. Who knew?
If it’s a truly pressing concern that your partner have a particular look when it comes to their pubic region, that’s a private matter– not one that needs to be preached to women as a whole. As the lovely pornographic actress and model Stoya once said, “If you think pubic hair on a woman is unnatural or weird, you aren’t mature enough to be touching vaginas.”
3. Articles That Tell Me To Hate Other Women
I recently stumbled onto a list of reasons why, as a woman, it rocks to have more male friends than lady friends, citing guilt-free carb-consumption and an absence of drama as dude-exclusive perks. C’mon, now–again with the male/female binary? Personalities don’t come in gendered packages. Sometimes you click better with the same gender, sometimes the reverse is true. Sometimes it’s both at once, sometimes it’s neither (let me reiterate: binary–some of our friends defy the “guy” and “girl” categories and they are no less awesome or less relevant to our social lives for that).
But what’s particularly irritating about articles that praise male-female friendships at the expense of throwing other women under the bus is that it leads female (and male) readers to believe that there are these inevitable drawbacks that come from befriending women–things like drama, being “anal,” and an aversion to first person shooters. Not only is this a big fat myth that doesn’t hold any weight outside of a CW series, but it pits women against each other for no good reason. Sour friendships are not dependent upon sex or gender; anyone can be a terrible friend, just as anyone can be a truly amazing friend–late night McDonald’s runs and all.
4. Articles That Tell Me How To Be Sexy
In this time of sexualized marketing and visual media told predominantly through the perspective of the male gaze, I’m grateful that some writers have dedicated their creative energies to outlining exactly what I need to do in order to up my sex appeal and sustain male attention once and for all. Posts framed in this manner are not only recycled patriarchal trash that seek to attain the mythical balance between Virgin and Whore that no woman in history has managed to pull off without ridicule, they are also working to define “sexy” under very narrow and limiting terms and thereby perpetuate a rather dull notion of sex appeal that is likely unrealistic for most folks.
Just as pubic hair and video game preferences vary from person to person, sexuality is also gradient and isn’t dictated by one’s gender–or even the gender you’re attracted to! Of course some people are into the oversexed, hyperfeminine image, and if that works out for you and your partner, then fantastic; you’re well ahead of the game. But “sexy” doesn’t look like that perfect blend of “classy” and “trashy” to everyone (I don’t even know what that does look like, to be totally honest), and you may not even dig it yourself. If your “sexy” performance isn’t something that you enjoy, why do it?
5. Articles That Tell Me I’m Crazy
Apparently women’s emotions, despite existing for as long as women have, are so foreign that they necessitate a how-to manual–you know, like Ikea furniture. One article divulges the secrets of approaching a woman who dares reveal turbulence in her mood, suggesting the onlooker offer “comfort” and “tissues” and essentially treat the woman as if she were, like, human or something. Weird!
I know femininity and all of its associated stereotypes have this longstanding connotation with sociopathic-level emotions for reasons that at this point in civilization are well beyond me, but articles like this don’t help to humanize heavily misunderstood aspects of (cis) womanhood like PMS or menopause or just having a bad day (believe it or not, sometimes the uterus is 100 percent irrelevant). Getting upset, crying, and “freaking out” are things that people do–because people, including women, have complex depth and feelings that sometimes interfere with the ability to be another sexy, shaven, one-of-the-guys gal. And if you need a third party’s step-by-step assistance on how to comfort your girlfriend, chances are your stellar communication prowess isn’t going to last you much longer.
In the quest to decode and define women and our wacky antics, these posts do nothing but rehash problematic viewpoints that are probably older than the author behind the screen, and in turn, further exacerbate the complexities of what can never be simple issues–no matter how many gif-accompanied lists you make–simply because women are people, you guys.
What online articles are you sick of seeing? Share with us in the comments below.
Written by Marinda Valenti
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