Men and the terrible power of (their) beauty

Why men behave badly, and it’s not what you think!

We were all beautiful once. Every one of us has a moment in time, however fleeting, when we were objectively beautiful. Just youth is beauty. Newness is beauty. Having not had the polish worn away is beauty. It is important to state this outright as a fact before anything else.

Most of us, normal people, non-models, don’t realize that we were beautiful, until maybe 30 years later when handling photographs we sigh for what we had, and did not realize at the time. We did not capitalize on at the time. Because we did not realize we were beautiful, we are slow to understand the latitude granted our bad behaviors by other people, who wanted to fuck us. At school, at work, out and about, someone always wanted to fuck us. Literally. Thinking about it can boggle the mind. Funnily enough, it is still true even when we are older and grayer — there is always someone out there who wants to fuck you. You may not want to have sex with that person, but they exist.

This brings me to men (mainly cis-gendered men in heterosexual relationships). Men labor under a severe illusion that hampers them for life. Men actually believe that women want them for some intrinsic appeal (their taste in music? Their knowledge of beer?)

NO. The truth is, women are just as likely to objectify a man as a man is a woman. We excuse an absolute fuck-ton of bad behavior because we want to get in some dude’s pants. It’s the long and the short of it, a story as old as time. If you ever had the pleasure of trying to talk a girlfriend out of a bad relationship, then you know how impossible it is when she is fixated on the D.

Men are unaware that they were beautiful, and that this beauty granted them latitude. Men are also unaware that this beauty fades. Men who were able to pull some shit because they were good looking will pull that same shit till the end (the end being when their looks fade and no one wants to fuck them any more). They are like the apocryphal beauty queen who gets by on her looks until they fade and she has a freak out. Except I have never met that woman and I have met plenty of Peter Pans.

Looks fade, this is true for both men and women, but women learn the painful truths about lookism and ageism from an early age. Most models are what, 15? All those movies where 25 year old women are paired with 50 year old men? Where Jennifer Lawrence plays a middle-aged mom???

Men…don’t.

Men are the greatest believers in, and benefactors from, the scammy idea of meritocracy the world has ever seen. This extends to their looks! They think they got to where they are because of their skills, and not because people wanted to fuck them. Mainly, men get by on their looks, just like everyone else. Your looks have a lot to do with your success. There is a ton of research on this, so go Google it, but in a nutshell men who are tall get all the raises. Men discount their own beauty as a factor in getting them where they ended up. They choose to believe that their behavior is acceptable, even desirable when it was their beauty that gave them permission to behave badly.

One day, SNAP! It is gone. He may even have traded it away, via poor diet, poor hygiene, lack of exercise, alcohol, smoking, drugs…A man’s beauty fades and he is left with the same things a woman has when her’s faded: friends, family, good works, a reputation. But a man who (unconsciously) was trading on his beauty may not have developed these, like our apocryphal beauty queen. His life goes to shit. Since, he never recognized the terrible power of his own beauty in determining his life outcomes, he has no way of knowing that this is the X factor that changed…everything. So who does he blame for his life suddenly turning sour? Women, who no longer respond to him with the endless patience and forgiveness he got used to when he was young and gorgeous (see Louis C.K. on ‘lanky dudes with big Adam’s apples’). Now, out of the blue it seems, women are snappish and impatient with his bullshit. He thinks it is #feminism. I’m saying it is because he spent his last coin of beauty.

I think this theory of mine explains a lot. I know men, love men, spend time with men, but some things, particularly how shitty they are with women when they are young, are just mystifying to our gender and I feel like this helps the pieces fall into place around a lot of that. It also helps us make sense of why the workplace often is so unfair, and the trajectory of certain men so opaque to outside reasoning. If you consider our lopsided cultural performances of being beautiful, where all of the labor is on women, and none of it on men, it has a logic that is inescapable.

Before you comment, all I ask is for you to think about the men you know in your life, and whether this applies to them. Clearly #notallmen and blah blah blah.

Like what you read? Give Susan Mazur-Stommen a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.