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Opinion Happy Teacup Storm Day, Mr President!

Inderjeet Kaur

Oct 13, 2011
Seattle, Washington, USA
Happy Teacup Storm Day, Mr. President! (from You show me your bits, and I will show you mine.)

by Shreya Sen-Handley


The smart woman picks her battles wisely.

Focusing my feminine (yes, feminine, not feminist. You bring the chocolate and I'll explain the difference) ire on poor Mr Obama for his recent innocuous comments about new US Attorney General, half-Indian Kamala Harris feels like a waste of good womanly firepower.

This is what the now beleaguered man had said, "She's brilliant and she's dedicated, she's tough...she also happens to be the best-looking attorney general."

This is what he got for it, from political opponents, observers, feminists and opportunists, in the US. Amanda Marcotte raged against "benevolent" compliments reinforcing the idea that women have secondary status in society, "As a tool to keep women playing along with male dominance, benevolent sexism works far better than hostile sexism!" And Katie JM Baker scolded, "Women put up with enough unsolicited attention as it is; the president doesn't need to legitimise the practice by piling on."

My own reaction, over my regulation hot chocolate and Oreos, was amusement. He said she looked good, after praising her brains and character? OMG! Would I mind if a nice man like Mr Obama said that to me? I'd say, "Right back atcha" 'cause he ain't half bad himself. And that wouldn't make me a floozy any more than it makes him a Lech. A man isn't necessarily leering when he praises a woman's appearance, nor a woman issuing a sexual invitation when she returns the compliment. What else was said, and how, matters. Barack, for example, was talking about an old friend who is clearly at ease with his laidback admiration, AND, though I haven't seen footage, I imagine he didn't deliver this with a smirk and a wink and God forbid, a quick feel of his crotch (you know who you are)!

NOT the happiest week for Obama then who was flagellated with strident psychobabble till he apologised, but a good time to lay our cards on the table for the testosterone-riddled ones whom we are really terribly fond of, but know need reminding about the simple things.

And so, here's my rough Guide to Objectification for Dummies or three easy-peasy steps to becoming a woman's man (entirely different from a Ladies' Man, you understand, and if you don't, this is so for you).

"If I say I like your Bits, will you hold my Bob?"

NO is the simple answer. Praising my bits will definitely not make me want to hold your Bob (and if you bring it out without my asking, I swear I'll Bobbit you. Yes, the Oreos aren't working this morning).

We live in a superficial world and people, not just women, are judged on the basis of their looks all the time. But only women are mentally dismembered and weighed up on the merits of individual body parts, like sides of meat at a butcher's. Generally, women do not find this pleasant, and believe it or not, your inability to make eye contact with anything but her "bazookas" which you then tell her are "sick", will not render her weak at the knees and a finger-flick away from falling into bed with you.

And because this kind of man has a million clones, there is medical "evidence" out there reinforcing his behaviour. I am informed in all seriousness that I should give every man I meet a peek at my cleavage as it's good for their health and a public service on my part. A German study, published in the 'New England Journal of Medicine' a bit ago, concludes that ogling women's breasts for a few minutes daily is better for a man's health than a trip to the gym. "Just 10 minutes of looking at the charms of well-endowed females is equivalent to a 30-minute aerobics work-out." This is particularly important for men over 40 who should spend time every day eyeing D-cup breasts or larger. I know, Ladies, you don't know whether to laugh or cry, right? Was the middle-aged man who dreamt this up not getting enough? Do they think we are stupid? Clearly, but forgive me if I don't turn into the Mother Teresa of the bap-flashing world to please the wrong sort of man, though they may be legion.

And then there's Derriere Dan. You know the man. He thinks he's revolutionary because he's bucked the trend for ogling breasts and prefers copping a feel from behind. He's convinced you'll fall over yourself to please him because he likes your burgeoning bottom when you don't. He likes quoting Sir Mix-a-lot, "When a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist and a round thing in your face, you get sprung, wanna pull out your..." That's enough, thanks. I appreciate your sensitivity. I know you're fighting my corner. You're on the side of all us unfortunate women who aren't spring chickens anymore, Asian women, black women, mothers who can't help having child-bearing hips because they've, well, borne; all of us holding out for a hero like you to walk into our world and validate us with a stealthy squeeze. Your contribution to empowering women has been immense, thank you, now can you please crawl back under the rock from whence you came?

I propose we have a day every week when we turn the tables on men. A touch-'em-up Tuesday or What's-behind-that-fly Wednesday where we spend hours eyeing male bits (this is a limiting activity that could become very tedious as there aren't many parts to ogle), only stopping to accidentally brush against their nether regions every time they pass. I know what you're thinking, this is totally playing into their hands (no pun intended) and have I lost my mind? Not at all. Imagine what would happen to workplace productivity if men were in a permanent state of arousal? Yes, I know they are anyway, but imagine this increasing a gazillion-fold. We could bring the world to its knees (no, no pun intended there either). World leaders will beg us to stop. In return, we shall demand from men a little more sensitivity, a tad more empathy and a blanket hands-off policy unless hands-on is specifically asked for whilst sober!

Are you with me?

"Don't park your porn in my face"

There is a special kind of sexism peculiar to Britain, or at least more prevalent here, that I don't have to worry about now that I no longer work outside the home. It's the Scourge of the Page 3 Perv. Page 3 in India, as I understand it, is about celebrities, perhaps scantily clad, but in Britain, it's all about breasts. I can hear the rustle of men across India reaching for their passports but trust me, gawping at pornography in the workplace does nothing for your chances of getting lucky in real life. Obviously, there are many lonely men out there who need it like they need air (I'm trying to understand, OK?) but the office is not the place for it. When a man scrutinises the latest Page 3 offering and then clearly "moved" by the experience, turns his attention on you, it's a seriously puke-worthy moment. It is not endemic as 'Sun' and 'Daily Mail' readers don't generally hold jobs that require intelligence but it does happen. Lisa Clarke who campaigns for the end of this embarrassingly archaic British institution is spot on when she says, "I have no difficulty associating the objectification of women, the dehumanisation of them from a "she" to a "that", from a thinking, feeling person to a commodity, with an increased ease in treating them as less than human and thereby making it easier to use them as such. After looking at sexualised images of women, men are significantly more likely to answer 'yes' to the question 'would you ever consider forcing a woman to have sex?"

Scary, huh?

"Leave your leer at the door"

The Stay-at-home mom is not exempt from the long arm of objectification either. The Sun may not cross our threshold, but a certain kind of workman who's seen one skin flick too many will do. He will arrive to fix something and on its triumphant conclusion feel so chuffed with himself, he will then offer his services to the woman of the house. Fortunately this does not happen very often. Most tradesmen are, in fact, thorough gentlemen. Not so the predators of the virtual world, who are the only other chauvinistic intruders in a work-from-home mom's cocooned life. But while shenanigans in cyberspace are uproariously blogworthy, it is so easily avoided (you are not chained to Facebook, you don't have to be in there) that it just isn't in the same league as the problem in the real world.

"Tell me what you want, what you really, really want"

So we know what men fancy but what do women want?

Like the girls I asked, I find that I am less interested in a man's person (though I will check it out, but only to ensure they haven't featured on "World's Heaviest Man" or gone overboard with the piercings and tattoos) than I am in his personality. I want wit and clean fingernails in a man, alongside other lovely, cuddly, snuggly qualities (and some smarts and skills and good shoes). I have a sneaky feeling, men, certainly intelligent men, want that too.

And if there's common ground, there's hope, right? The realisation was dawning that there was a solution. If we surrounded ourselves with intelligent men who shared our worldview all would be well. All we needed to do was to catch 'em young and teach 'em well.

But crucially, I needed to make sure that intelligent men really did think like us; the sisterhood in essence, but with different bits. So, I asked Mr H who, as he was right beside me and is a very intelligent man (after all, he married me), was perfect



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