“Ugly”: The Last Refuge Of The Lazy
It’s unintentionally ironic. The go-to “critique” of feminism is to call feminists ugly, and it’s hurled so mindlessly and so regularly when appearance isn’t even the subject that the bizarre juxtaposition of the not-an-argument accusation with a well-reasoned critique of the outsized role of beauty in our culture’s estimation of women appears to escape the antifeminist rabble.
I have very little to say about the actual content of Chloe Angyal’s GritTV appearance. Working within tight constraints is tough and I’ve never been good at keeping it short; Chloe is on camera for just over two minutes here. She’s so good and so succinct that nothing I can say about the substance will add much value.
But the comments! It’s their first outcry, half pig-ignorant habit, but half as if to prove Chloe’s point. The first thing they do is call her ugly.
chole looks like a feminist, very ugly
Since he’s failed either to capitalize or correctly to spell the speaker’s name in a comment of some 38 characters, I think we can conclude that the comment was considered (if at all) only briefly and typed very quickly. Someone calling himself matlock12c continues in the same vein but at greater length:
You ever notice, Ya’ never see a ” PRETTY ” feminist…
Because “FIMINISM” was invented by UGLY WOMEN to “level the playing field”
Likewise, and typically for antifeminist trolls, the short comment lacks even elementary proofreading. The measure of the strength of the underlying assumption can be taken within the same thread, however. Someone using the name goldshle apparently realizes that arguing that Chloe is ugly in untenable, and takes a different tack, exposing the divide in the antifeminist troll community:
why is this feminist so mad? she is cute enough to live a normal life without bashing “the patriarchy”. since her anger is illogical under this criteria, i conclude that she is a lesbian.
The premise of this comment, too, is fatally flawed. While the comments were nasty, personal trolling, it is a great stretch to characterize Chloe’s demeanor as angry (unless one characterizes any challenge to the status quo as “mad”, in which case it sweeps in so much as to lose its power).
There is an insidious reason for the frequency and persistence of the ugly slander, however. In a society that places so much importance on women’s beauty, that defines women entirely or almost entirely by it, women are forever in doubt about it. Some of the most conventionally attractive women I know are also the most insecure about their own appearance. There is no “right”, there is no “good enough”, there is no objective yardstick and, in fact, the women who are famous as most perfectly representing the ideal are also those who spend the greatest portion of their waking hours being criticized for not meeting it. How can it feel, after all, to be famous for being thin and pretty, and then to know that one’s own pictures have to be photoshopped to be acceptable for public consumption?
This in turn leads to a dilemma in response, and the comment thread stands as a good example of how this always seems to go. Most of us know that the calumny hurts, however ill-founded, and it is tough not to respond by denying the charge. However, it is also self-evident that responsing in kind partially concedes the relevance of the speaker’s appearance, particularly where as here the speaker’s point is to question the emphasis on appearance. Many comments try, when approaching the fork, to take both paths. jerseywolf tries it three times:
Hey Matlock12c and dudefromgermany, did you actually listen to what Chloe Angyal is talking about? Warnings to women about correlations between tanning and skin cancer are less effective than warnings about the risk of premature aging (women in the study were more afraid of ugliness than cancer). You two clowns are just proving her point – as a society we value a woman’s beauty more than health. Also, you’re wrong. Chloe is beautiful. But that is irrelevant to this discussion!
* * * *
p.s. – some of the most beautiful women I’ve known are feminists. But see, you two have corralled me into an irrelevant and puerile discussion. It doesn’t matter that some of the most beautiful women I’ve known are feminists. What matters is the substance of Chloe’s presentation. This is a disturbing study. Would you want your sister or mother to be more concerned with becoming ugly than developing skin cancer? Your girlfriend (I know it’s a stretch to assume either of you have one)?
* * * *
I now realize that my comment that “some of the most beautiful women I’ve known are feminists” is wrong as well because it engages mean and shallow comments as if they have any merit, and neglects that estimations of beauty are subjective anyway. Who cares? Why do we put so much value on this stuff? Physical beauty is transient, subjectively determined, and not the most important value. I just became angry. Those comments made against Chloe were obviously cruel, unimportant, and untrue.
[All emphasis supplied.]
I’m a lawyer, and making both arguments in the alternative is what we usually do, so I won’t disparage it as a tactic. But as with most longstanding issues, others have taken on this subject before, and some say it better than I ever will. NYC domme, blogger, feminist and generally formidible fucker Halo P. Jones has had this kicking around for a few months on FetLife, and has now put in on her blog. After some sleaze on a forum tried and failed to elicit her immediate fawning attention:
… his response was a mixture of insulting my face, my body, and my personality. He played what I’m going to call ‘The Ugly Card’ – the idea that a woman’s most, and possibly only, worthwhile attribute is her appearance – so the greatest possible insult is to call her ugly. He also told me I looked fat and old (… as if fat people and old people also can’t be beautiful) judging from my pictures which I’d posted–clearly if I posted such pictures (what a slut!) I deserved his insults.
Her reply — not to that toolshed, who doesn’t deserve a response, but to her readership, was, in part:
The photos in question came from a burlesque act where I consciously chose to not shave, tan, and diet in order to change my appearance–and show that I could still be sexy, and sexual, and celebrated.
* * * *
What we weigh, how big our breasts are, whether we shave our bodies, whether we are old or young, able-bodied or disabled, cis, trans, male, or female–we all have a right to our own beauty.
At this point, thinking that you are beautiful the way you are is an act of rebellion.
* * * *
At various points of my life, I have had short hair and long hair, worn dresses and heels, worn combat boots and corsets, dyed my hair a rainbow of colors, had a shaved pussy and a full bush, been chubby and thin, been pale and tanned, fucked men and women, and I have always been beautiful.
[Emphasis supplied.] That idea, navigation only by a star fixed inside ourselves, is a powerful one. It has persisted since Zeno, whose writings did not survive, so I will instead quote Marcus Aurelius: “[o]utward things cannot touch the soul, not in the least degree; nor have they admission to the soul, nor can they turn or move the soul; but the soul turns and moves itself alone.”
(FWIW, the sharp-eyed may note a Robert Frost reference in the post. No, not the fork in the road thing, give me more credit than that.)