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Nobody hates you because you're beautiful (they just hate you): On Samantha Brick and woman-hating

| April 16, 2012

How many more times will we have to hear about how ALL WOMEN are horrible, insecure, jealous, other-lady-hating bitches? Probably at least a few more times.

In case you missed it a couple of weeks back, Samantha Brick, a lady who I'd never heard of until just now, but apparently is so beautiful that men give her booze and train tickets and stuff, wrote what is possibly the most entertaining article of all time, explaining that being the prettiest flower on the plane, in the bar, or in all of France isn't all it's cracked up to be.

In an effort to finally address the age old oppression of the very, very good looking and to, at long last, end the silence! around the true fact that no attractive woman anywhere has ever been a bridesmaid or had dinner at a friend's house while their husband is present without the evening ending in a soap opera style cat fight, Ms. Brick, a journalist, took it upon herself to write an entire article detailing the ways in which men love her and women hate her, pointing to examples such as these:

"I’m not smug and I’m no flirt, yet over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves. If their partners dared to actually talk to me, a sudden chill would descend on the room."

"It is not just jealous wives who have frozen me out of their lives. Insecure female bosses have also barred me from promotions at work."

"I don’t drink or smoke, I work out, even when I don’t feel like it, and very rarely succumb to chocolate. Unfortunately women find nothing more annoying than someone else being the most attractive girl in a room."

Not only that, but attractive women everywhere are being forced into "baggy, sombre-coloured trouser suits" you guys! Enough is enough.

This sort of thing goes on as she explains how hard her life has been, all because other women see her as a threat, whereas men fawn all over her. Basically men are good and women are bad.

"It was clear that when you have a female boss, it’s best to let them shine, but when you have a male boss, it’s a different game: I have written in the Mail on how I have flirted to get ahead at work, something I’m sure many women do.

Women, however, are far more problematic. With one phenomenally tricky boss, I eventually managed to carve out a positive working relationship. But a year in, her attitude towards me changed... When I asked her right-hand woman why, she pulled me to one side and explained that my boss was jealous of me."

Not once does it occur to Brick that, perhaps she has such negative experiences with other women because she actually really, really hates women? And because her hatred of other women has been rewarded by men and a misogynist culture?

All women are not envious, jealous, evil people. My friends are my friends because we enjoy each others company, not because I think they are safely unattractive. I know many conventionally attractive women who have lots and lots of female friends and who have never been fired for being "too pretty".

Often you hear about women who supposedly don't "like" other women. What is that about? Are women really so unlikelable? When women are painted as mean, catty, boyfriend-stealers by other women, what does that tell us? That all women are, in fact, shitty? Or that women internalize their own oppression in a way that sometimes manifests itself in misogynist ways?

Women are pitted against one another. Women are told that their primary power lies in their looks and in their ability to attract men. Women are told that other women are a threat to their marriages (letting the cheating men off the hook, of course). Women are picked apart constantly throughout their entire lives -- they're too fat, they're too skinny, they're too old, they're too hairy, and their vaginas are just all wrong all the time.

We're made to hate ourselves and its no wonder we sometimes end up hating one another.

The only times I can recall feeling "threatened" by my female friends is when my actually evil partner took it upon himself to invent flirtations - just to, you know, keep me on my toes. This kind of behaviour is fairly common in abusive men. It's a way to keep you feeling isolated, insecure, and paranoid. It's called crazy-making. Otherwise known as emotional abuse.

If you look around, you'll start to get the feeling that the whole world is in on this kind of crazy-making. The more we're told that women are jealous, insecure bitches who hate one another or are out to "steal your man" (because, you know, men are brainless puppets who are drawn through life by a string attached to their dicks), the more likely we are to believe it. We're all supposed to be in competition with one another, right? We need to work to catch and hang on to men because at the blink of an eye, a younger, blonder, thinner lady might come along and, as evil ladies do, steal your man away. Whatever you do, don't put any of that onus on the dudes. Boys will be boys and it's the responsibility of women to deal with it.

I wonder if Ms. Brick's obsession with her looks has anything to do with the fact that her father told her over and over again how beautiful she was, or because other men did, and because now her husband does? I wonder if the fact that women's appearances are the focus of so much of society's attention makes us, in turn, obsess over the same? I wonder if we were told, instead, how smart we are or how athletic or good at math or knitting or building houses or fishing or making muffins or whatever it is we do, instead of being told we are alternatively ugly or beautiful, over and over again throughout our lives, we wouldn't think that was all others cared about.

It isn't only men who see women through a hypercritical lens. Wonder why flawless, objectified women fill the pages of women's magazines as well as men's? We learn to see ourselves through the eyes of a sexist culture too. We are taught to study and pick apart our own as well as each other's bodies and faces.

By now you all have probably read or read about the piece Ashley Judd wrote, calling out the media for their treatment of women, naming this obsession over women's appearances (and, in this particular case, her face) "nasty, gendered and misogynistic," pointing out that:

"The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about."

Brick says that her father's love and affection was the key to her being able to love herself. But I get the feeling that her "love for herself" is actually a love of being admired by men.

Brick reminds me of my 20 year old self - cocky as hell because a bunch of drunk dudes wanted to pay for my drinks. That shit is temporary. Eventually I wanted more from the world, more from men, and more for myself. Feeling like the only thing you have going for you is male attention isn't a good feeling.

I can't say that feeling attractive to men hasn't made me feel good about myself. It has and often it still does. I can't say I'm immune to that learned desire to be perceived as attractive. But I can say that I know where that comes from. I doubt I'd wear makeup if I didn't feel as though it would help me move more easily through this world. Or if I hadn't been told by advertisers and media that having under eye circles should make me feel suicidal. Here's hoping that the more aware we all become around how all this works, the less we will buy into it and the less we'll hate ourselves for having flaws.

So Ms. Brick claims that all women hate her and are out to make her life difficult because ALL women are horrible, jealous, insecure, bitches. What are we to make of this? It's woman-hating, internalized. Not only does the whole world hate us, (unless we are acceptably beautiful and available for consumption, at which point we will be "loved" temporarily and then discarded), but we're also taught to hate one another and to hate ourselves.

I don't care what Samantha Brick looks like. She's some blonde lady who looks like any other blonde lady. Who cares. As much as I think she is ridiculous, I don't hate her. I feel sorry for her. I feel sorry that she doesn't have any friends and I feel sorry that she's learned that this is because women are jealous of her. I'm sorry that she's learned to value men's attention in such an extreme way and I'm sorry it's led her to have so much disdain for other women. But in a culture that tells use we are worthless and either "to be looked at" or invisible, in a culture that has made violence against women sexy, that sells women as consumable products, and has managed to find flaws from our heads to our toes, it isn't surprising.

Sure. Brick is annoying and delusional. Ok. Self-obsessed, narcissistic , and arrogant? Perhaps. But she also represents the extremely insidious impact a misogynistic culture has on women - wherein male attention is everything and woman-hating is assumed. Brick is the product of a culture that objectifies women and that tells us we are simultaneously delicate flowers and unfuckable trolls. We are told that women hate porn because they are "jealous", that feminists are critical of the sex industry because we can't get a man or because we are angry that we aren't getting enough male attention ourselves. We are told that male philandering is normal and that we should expect to be cheated on by our male partners and that this is either the fault of other women or our own faults for not providing a consistently abundant level of blow jobs. We live in a culture that treats women like trash, blames them for their own abuse and their own oppression and then, on top of all that, we're taught to hate one another. Divide and conquer.

All Samantha Brick is a woman who bought into all this and, instead of becoming politicized, became complicit.

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