“We hear all the time that “men are visual creatures” and “women are emotional” and “women are attracted to personalities” and “it’s science” and blah blah blah, but I feel comfortable in saying that this is just essentialist garbage that obscures the fact that almost all human beings (who aren’t blind, that is) are visual creatures, regardless of our gender or our sexuality. Most of us like to look at people we find sexually appealing! It’s how we roll, and as long as we don’t treat each other badly because of it, there’s nothing wrong with that. What I do have a problem with is this belief that there is no such thing as the female gaze. It contributes to that god-awful “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” nonsense that acts like men and women are two alien species with virtually nothing in common, when the reality is that men and women have way more in common than not. Many women like to look at sexy people, and many men like their partners to be decent, interesting people. It’s not either/or, yet we keep acting like it is.
Mind you, this is not an argument for creating a culture in which everyone is objectified, which is how I feel things are going. I die a little inside when I hear about rising rates of guys with eating disorders or getting more plastic surgery or taking steroids in their pursuit of bigorexic ideals. Rather, what I want is a culture that accepts that people find a wider variety of bodies to be attractive and sexually appealing than just the ones that belong to a very tiny subset of young sylphlike women. I would also like to live in a culture that does not equate sexuality with dehumanization and objectification, but instead regards it as a very life-affirming aspect of being human, but I suppose that is a lot to ask for a culture that still has aneurysms whenever a woman dares breast-feed in public.”