Friday, 19 February 2016
I'd like to begin by pointing out that I'd happily consider myself a feminist. I'm the type to catch a glimpse of the Valentine's Day lingerie collection and mutter "misogyny" under my breath, but I also understand that the point of feminism is equality, and that means respecting male issues too.
Which brings me to a debate I'm full of opinions on: the dangerous effects of porn verses the dangerous effects of romantic comedies.. you heard me..
Let me explain, as a society we're quick to blame porn for the way men treat women, both in the way they expect sex to be and the way they expect women to look. Don't get me wrong, I agree with that entirely. Porn creates pressure on women and especially on young girls whose young boyfriends don't understand the difference between it and reality. However, I've come to the conclusion that there's some real similarities in the way women are treated because of porn and the way men are treated because of romantic comedies. Let's call it the Ryan Gosling Effect.
I'll be the first to admit I'm obsessed with romantic comedies, I've seen them all and it's unhealthy. Somehow I'm okay with that. I'll also admit that my obsession has affected my expectations of men more than once. I'd be lying if I told you I haven't ever expected a man to pull some sort of large romantic stunt at some point in my life. Of course I was horrifically disappointed as a result because, let's face it, unless you're naked that man probably isn't thinking about you.
There are countless studies on how romantic comedies have altered our view of relationships, we have unrealistic expectations and I'll admit I'm guilty of holding those expectations too. We expect some form of magic, a cupid’s arrow of sorts, to lead us to "the one" without so much as an awkward first date, a swipe right or an unexpected dick pic (sorry mum).
They teach us that we could do downright awful things to our partners and they'll probably forgive us if we run across an airport to stop them using their excessively over priced and non-refundable ticket to fly away to something probably very important. They teach us that a man will drop everything at a moment’s notice to have the woman he truly loves, leading us to refuse to believe a man loves us like he says he does unless he makes some grand gesture and the truth is that's just not practical, and it's unfair to assume it could be.
Let's not forget the wildly inappropriate expectations men have of women's bodies because of porn, right? Big boobs, wonderfully toned and flaw free, with less body hair than a baby seal. My blood boils when I hear a male pass judgement on a girl because she doesn't meet these standards. To be honest for most of my school years boys would comment on how flat chested I was while I pretended it didn't bother me, and yet, do we not do the same to them without even realising? You see, a major part of the Ryan Gosling Effect is wanting a man who looks like Ryan himself. So we judge those who are a little chubby, we turn down those just a little too short, we require chiselled jaw lines and bulging muscles in places we didn't even know there were meant to be muscles (seriously what's a trap and why is it so attractive?). Maybe as females we're a little less vocal about it, but ask any average Joe and he'll tell you he's been made to feel inadequate because he doesn't look like Channing Tatum. I mean really ladies, what do we expect? Some Greek God looking bloke to wander out of the local co-op and sweep us off our feet? I don't think so.
I cant help but compare these issues to the expectations men hold of women as a result of porn. Most of us have been victims, at some point or other, of a man whose perception of what sex is like has been manipulated by porn. Whether it's how rough he expects it to be, how easy or simply the noises he expects you to make (which to be honest is a concept always lost on me), the majority of men have at least one misinformed expectation of sex. But can we blame them? Are we allowed to be so aggressively dismissive of their assumptions if we treat them just the same when it comes to expecting romance?
Hypocrisy is a major issue I have with the concept of feminism and a reason I'm slowly losing faith in the movement entirely, we're so quick to pull the trigger when males do something harmful, and yet so easily allow ourselves to repeat the pattern. Take the song Blurred Lines, for example, a god awful song about a man convinced a girl is just teasing him and does in fact "want it". But, if you take the same lyrics, sung by a female, it becomes a song about a boy who's messing this girl around, giving mixed signals all the while the girl is clearly the victim.
I'm all for women's rights, but sometimes we have to accept when we're not in the right and I'm afraid the porn verses romcoms debate is just one of those matters.