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Women aren’t food

Alison Bechdel notices a pin-up calendar of a naked woman kneeling provocatively—in her book, Fun Home, Bechdel’s childhood autobiographical graphic novel—and suddenly her 10-ish child self alters. She asks her brother to call her Albert instead of Alison (she looks like a boy) while at the shop because—I believe—she feels exposed and objectified in a way she’d never experienced before. I, too, remember when I became aware of this indelicate difference—at age four—and came home asking my mamma if I could change out of my sundress into pants.

I grew up in the mid 50s–60s (think Mad Men) where ogling women and making crude, rude remarks were common place. While married to my ex, he didn’t gawk at women in my presence but I heard from my kids—after we’d divorced—that he “drooled” over women in theirs. The kids mildly heckled him for it until they were older and then told him to stop outright.

What’s the big deal, you ask? He wasn’t really hurting anyone, right? Boys will be boys and all that. “Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t read the menu,” right? Wrong. Girls get the message—reinforced repeatedly and subliminally throughout society and the media—that their true and maybe only power is in being sexy bait instead of the all-encompassing empowered lesson boys receive.

Appreciating beauty, physiques, pecs & six-packs, breasts, art, architecture, nature, food, etc. is normal. But those things are not extensions of you; they’re just things ...

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