Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, abolitionist, anarchist who likes the letter A

Remember When All the Dudes Were Hot

November 18, 2011 By: Mel Category: Culture, Stratification

Some economist named Glen Whitman wrote a post called Pan Am and the Economics of Hot Flight Attendants. In it he claims that deregulation lowered air fares and made paying for hotness in your employees prohibitively expensive.

Since I have read that piece, I have been racking my brain to think of a similar situation for dudes. Is there a career out there where hotness was required of the dudes and where we are all decrying the current lack of hotness?


Megan McArdle, responding to the post, theorizes that a whole bunch of things (like unions and anti-discrimination laws) made it impossible for airlines to fire people if they gained a couple pounds or hit the ripe old age of thirty (Oh, the horror!). Moreover, as more women were flying, less airline customers cared “whether the stewardess has a nice rack.”

A lot of people complain that there is too much sexualization, that everything is about selling sex. I actually think there might be too little sexualization. I don’t necessarily care that someone wants attractive people pushing their product. I care that the definition of attractive is what a middle-aged, white, heterosexual man with the maturity of a fourteen year old is supposed to like.

Our world institionalized and socialized prejudice and economic privilege. It ensured that most people with money to spend were going to be middle aged, white dudes who would certainly hide it if they were gay. So it stands to reason that the airlines would hire the employees that those people were supposed to like.

Which makes me wonder. If there had been no unions or anti-discrimination laws, but only the growing economic power of women and POC – along with the growing visibility and acceptance of homosexuality – would flight attendants look much different than they do now? (Hello scantily clad rent boys flying shuttles to circuit parties.)

It is an impossible question, of course. Because the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, unions, and all the rest had a direct bearing on the economic power of the people I am talking about. But the point I am trying to make is that the idea of what is beautiful is subjective, cultural, and individual.

The problem with the way sex is sold now is a problem of whose narrow definition of beauty still reigns supreme. The problem with the way sex is sold now is that it still reflects very real power imbalances, economic and otherwise.

I’m not particularly attracted to skinny, blonde, white women under thirty. I’m not the only one.

Halloween Hussies

November 03, 2011 By: Mel Category: Inequality, Sex

Halloween just passed and with it came the usual slew of posts about women and their slutty Halloween costumes.  The consensus seems to be that women feel pressured to dress sexy for Halloween.  Hugo Schwyzer had one of the more intelligent posts,

the problem lies in the compulsory sexualization that is so much a part of today’s Halloween celebrations for teens. A lot of us are more upset by the absence of options than by the absence of fabric; we know that pressuring girls to act sexy is not the same thing as encouraging them to develop a healthy, vibrant sexuality that they themselves own. I don’t have a problem with “sexy bar wench” costumes; I have a problem when those sorts of costumes are the only ones young women are expected or encouraged to wear.

Now I don’t disagree that compulsory sexualization is wrong. Compulsory anything is wrong. But I don’t know that compulsory sexualization is what we are seeing. In fact, I think it might be the opposite.

A while back, one of my friends asked Facebooklandia why women love Halloween so much. One of the women answered, “Most women love Halloween because they can dress all sexy in public and no one thinks they are hookers.” In other words, it isn’t that women feel compelled to dress sexy. It is that Halloween is one of the few days you can dress like that and get away with it.

On Halloween, I can wear those awesome, thigh high, vinyl boots without other women giving me the stink eye. And since everybody else is letting it all hang out, the smarmiest dudes attention will be spread around. I’d wear those boots every day during the winter if I could.  They are warm as shit. But it would make for some very awkward work meetings. (That’s me hanging out in my winter gear. That’s totally what I’m wearing when I write these posts.)

As to the absence of options, it seems people think us poor little girls can only manage to buy pre-made costumes in a plastic bag. It so happens that I am lazy and that is often what I do. But Halloween is creative time. The best costumes are the ones people make. One of my friends taped a bunch of smarties to her pants. And voila! Smarty pants! Instant costume. We aren’t shackled to what some crap store feeds us. Perhaps we should be lamenting a lack of creativity?

To be fair, Schwyzer’s article is about teens. And most of what he says is spot on. I suppose I can understand why people are creeped out by really young girls dressing like prostitutes. I can only imagine how people reacted when my nine year old ass actually did dress like a prostitute. My seven year old friend was my pimp. Her sign said, “Bunny, $100 a trick.”  It was my sister’s idea. I think she was either trying to get rid of me or damage me for life. (I know you read this blog, Sister. I blame you for everything.)

One of my parents probably should have intervened at that point. What can I say. My father would do or accept almost anything for a laugh. (OMG. I think he was a hipster! Did they have hipsters in the 1940s?) Almost thirty years later, I could write a thesis on why that was inappropriate? But I don’t think I felt pressured by society to be sexy. In fact, I’m fairly certain that society was appalled, which is exactly why my father and sister found it so hilarious.

I’m sure a psychiatrist could have a field day with this little tidbit.  But the point is this. Maybe if we didn’t police what women wear every other day of the year, we wouldn’t want to let it all hang out on Halloween. And perhaps if we stopped treating kids like they are brainless automatons and gave them an empowering education about sexuality and a little respect for prostitutes, they would make different choices. Even at nine, I would have understood.

That’s my two cents. Mostly this post gave me an excuse to wear my boots and snazzy Anarcho-Drunkard t-shirt. Like Joe says, “Those molotov bottles don’t just empty themselves.” You all can buy one here. (Sorry it took me so long to snap it, dude. I’ve been busy… and drunk.  Hope you like the pic. I’ll expect a vodka tonic for every five sold. Just don’t buy me any more of those chocolate martinis. They were almost the death of me.)