Goose Pimples and Hypocrisy

This is a micro alert. Be careful, reading this might make you uncomfortable.

It’s a November afternoon, a rather nice November but November all the same. There is a wedding on the little lawn on the cliff right above Steamer Lane. (Note for my overseas friends in Germany, Turkey, and Illinois: Steamer Lane is a famous cold water surf championship spot in Santa Cruz, California. The whole area, on the Monterey Bay, is exceptionally beautiful.)

The bride is late; surprise! The groom’s buddies are milling around in their comfortable enough tuxedos.* The bridesmaids are sitting and flocking together in their bareback, bare-arms, low-cut long dresses. A cool sea breeze is blowing, of course. Anyone could have predicted it. The ladies are obviously cold, as they should be. Anyone would be. Exemplary social scientist that I am, I make it a point to pass close enough to verify that goose pimples prevail. This goes on for at least an hour. It’s true nippling weather. Maybe that’s the point and I am just missing it.

I don’t know why no one in charge of the women of the bridal party planned for this weather. I don’t know why the bridesmaids’ uniform could not have included a tasteful shawl. Frankly, I don’t know if any of them would have used a shawl in preference to shivering though. (One young woman in my entourage says, “No way!”) At any rate, it’s difficult to take seriously the claim that women are tired of being considered sex objects. Those women, and the women of every American bridal party I have ever seen are bravely and determinedly on display. It’s not an intellectual display; it’s not a talent show; it’s not an IQ contest. I would swear they are disturbed, possibly enraged at the thought of not being considered sex objects on this occasion, after so much effort. The chasm between public discourse and reality has rarely been so wide since the Victorian Age. In the long run, political correctness is sure to induce some sort of collective schizophrenia, it seems to me.

Just to be painfully clear: I am not criticizing the bridesmaids’ behavior – bless their hearts! I hear that young men are ever more reluctant to commit. And you don’t catch flies with vinegar. And there must be a reason why Mother Nature placed women’s breasts on their chests rather than on their backs. (It’s so they can watch men watching them and take it from there.) I am not deriding the women in the bridal party at all. Female exhibitionism has been an attractive part of my worldview ever since I can remember (maybe since three or four years of age). I am just not becoming used to the grossly hypocritical denial that forms today the social context of such displays. It even bothers me worse than ever.

Someone has to shout, “Bullshit!” I wish older women would do it. In their regretted absence, here I am! You can count on me.

* “How gauche,” my snobbish Parisian side is thinking. Tuxedos are evening attire; they should never see the sun.

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3 thoughts on “Goose Pimples and Hypocrisy

  1. In other news, men refuse to believe that women are not psychologically harmed by being raised as sex objects for men, and do not constantly feel pressure (often under threat of violence) to live up to those expectations.

  2. This isn’t necessarily a case of women wanting to be objectified. Feminist critique of sexual objectification is usually centered around commercial advertisement, in which the female body is used alongside products as consumer motivation: “sex sells”. That is a more persuasive instance of sexual objectification than bridesmaids trying to stay (traditionally) pretty.

    Of course, there’s reason to question the convention that objectification is a negative thing, regardless – after all, might sex being used to sell be indicative of a liberated society, particularly if both sexes are represented?

    In any case, I’m not sure these bridesmaids provide a compelling reason to criticize the surrounding discourse – even if they were being stubborn and ridiculous.

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