That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.

 If one is not naturally innocent or ‘pretty’, is it a good idea to aspire to project innocence? Also do women who look innocent (as opposed to ‘hot’) lead in any way, better or happier lives?

Take a look at this article (in block quotes below). My response in red).

The Death Of Pretty

This post is intended as a lament of sorts, a lament for something in the culture that is dying and may never been seen again.

Pretty, pretty is dying.

People will define pretty differently.  For the purposes of this piece, I define pretty as a mutually enriching balanced combination of beauty and projected innocence.

Once upon a time, women wanted to project an innocence.  I am not idealizing another age and I have no illusions about the virtues of our grandparents, concupiscence being what it is.  But some things were different in the back then.  First and foremost, many beautiful women, whatever the state of their souls, still wished to project a public innocence and virtue.  And that combination of beauty and innocence is what I define as pretty.

There are reasons why women (or men) should not be under pressure to look or dress in ways that the rest of the world finds pleasing, innocent, confident, cool or modest etc.

Not everybody is born with (what is considered) a pretty and ‘innocent’ face. So some women may have what is seen as ordinary looking faces but legs that are considered gorgeous. If they wish to look good, they must accept being labeled hot and thus ‘not respectable’?
Some Indian women who look very ordinary in Indian clothing, might look great in a pair of shorts. So should they not look their best (if they wish to) just because some people think showing pretty faces is ‘innocent’, but pretty legs are indecent?  Some people are tall, some have good hair, some have great skin, some have lips like Angelina Jolie – each should be able to dress in ways they feel good about themselves. Or to ignore how they look. Their bodies, their lives, their choices.  Obsession with being thin, fair, tall, begins with wanting to look good to please other people. Then we wonder why some people spend so much, and risk do much for  looking better.
One also hears about looking naturally beautiful – that sounds biased. What if a person is born with looks that are not conventionally beautiful? Why should they not make the best of whatever they have?
It’s also possible to not ‘be innocent’ but still look innocent – but that’s fine?

By nature, generally when men see this combination in women it brings out their better qualities, their best in fact.  That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.

Do you think a molester or a rapist would become protective because of the way a woman (or a child) is dressed? And should it matter to others how ‘innocent’ a woman looks if she is in need of help?

Also, if children look innocent, are they automatically safer?

And what if a woman is just not what is seen as ‘pretty’? Should her looks matter so much to her?

What if she is and looks capable of taking good care of herself? I know of women who have wished they looked dainty, skinny, helpless, ‘damsels in distress’, when they were confident, self-assured and could handle most life situations on their own. The article seems to imply that some  women need to be protected by some men (who find them ‘pretty and helpless’), from other men who find them ‘hot’.  

Should women have to depend on their looks for being respected? Shouldn’t the message be for the society to look beyond the looks instead?

Also consider, most women who accept these (western) standards of ‘pretty and respectable’ would be horrified if they walked on Indian streets wearing the clothing recommended here and realize they are actually considered hot and indecent here.  And although Saudi Arabia believes in exactly the same thing, women dressed ‘pretty and respectable’ in the west would be flogged there.

Young women today do not seem to aspire to pretty, they prefer to be regarded as hot. Hotness is something altogether different.  When women want to be hot instead of pretty, they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well.

As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend.  Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity.  Its value is temporary and must be used.  It is a consumable.

A woman’s body has purpose other than how it looks to men – the legs that some people think should be shown just this much are actually meant to help her walk, run, jump, move, swim, dance, climb etc. I have blogged (here) about how easily the rest of the world gets used to seeing them or not seeing them. Keeping them covered forever can make even a glimpse of an ankle or a foot look ‘hot’. Why not let the world get used to legs being used for walking, instead of being used for projecting virtue, respectability or hotness?

Also, if ‘projecting’ pretty and virtuous earns respect and protective instincts, isn’t that commodification too? No different from what sales people are required to do – project a look to achieve a purpose . And what more could a woman want if not a man’s respect?

Nowhere is this pretty deficit more obvious than in our “stars,” the people we elevate as the “ideal.”  The stars of the fifties surely suffered from the same sin as do stars of today.  Stars of the fifties weren’t ideal but they pursued a public ideal different from today.

The merits of hotness over pretty is easy enough to understand, they made an entire musical about it.  Who can forget how pretty Olivia Newton John was at the beginning of Grease.  Beautiful and innocent.  But her desire to be desired leads her to throw away all that is valuable in herself in the vain hopes of getting the attention of a boy.  In the process, she destroys her innocence and thus destroys the pretty.  What we are left with is hotness.

Hotness is a consumable.  A consumable that consumes as it is consumed but brings no warmth.

Most girls don’t want to be pretty anymore even if they understand what it is.  It is ironic that 40 years of women’s liberation has succeeded only in turning women into a commodity.  Something to be used up and thrown out.

Years of women’s liberation has not been able to fight this obsession with women’s hotness and prettiness, marriageability, virtuosity, respectability, all decided by how a woman is dressed. What it has achieved is, it has made it possible for women (and men)  to question this demand on women to fit into stereotypes of pretty and respectable (Devi, modest) or hot (witches, vamps). It’s even made it possible for hot and respectability to go together.

Of course men play a role in this as well, but women should know better and they once did.

Women in many countries still ‘know better’ – they are not allowed to even expose their eyes because that makes them hot in men’s eyes.

Once upon a time you would hear girls talk about kind of women men date and the kind they marry.  You don’t hear things like that anymore.

1. Now they understand that there is more to their lives then Getting Married and Staying Married.

2. Also, countries and societies where women can see no life beyond finding a man by proving their pretty and virtuous respectability, find themselves obsessing over their hotness in their husbands’ eyes, who they are warned might look for hotness elsewhere. Isn’t it better (for women) to not be so obsessed with what men think of their prettiness or hotness? Obedient Wives’ Clubs is a result of the insecurity a society’s  obsession with a woman’s appearance creates.

But here is the real truth.  Most men prefer pretty over hot.  Even back in 6th grade I hated the “hot” Olivia Newton John and felt sorry for her that she had to debase herself in such a way.  Still do.

Our problem is that society doesn’t value innocence anymore, real or imagined.  Nobody aspires to innocence anymore.  Nobody wants to be thought of as innocent, the good girl.  They want to be hot, not pretty.

This talk of innocence reminds me of another article ‘Bikini vs Burka: The Debauchery of Women. Please click to read how similar their views are. We have many in India who hold the same views but exactly what they permit is different. 

I still hope that pretty comes back, although I think it not likely any time soon.  For every Taylor Swift, there are a hundred Megan Foxs, or Lindsay Lohans, or Miley Cyruses etc.

Girls, please, bring back the pretty.

Sounds like an adolescent?
Link to the article : The Death of Pretty.
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69 thoughts on “That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.

  1. Hmm–very thought provoking post. I definitely think that humans are more biased towards those who are ‘beautiful’–in the biological sense that is. Beauty = facial symmetry and healthy outlook–and if you’ll notice, many people dubbed beautiful have that, ex. Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Iman etc.

    However, in the Indian cultural context, skin color also comes into play. I’m going say this flat out–as a fellow South Asian who is categorically put in the ‘extremely fair’ category, with childish facial features that could be considered ‘innocent’–I definitely get the ‘awwww she’s sooooo sweet’ label from people who barely know me. When I dress in Indian attire and attend weddings, I do get old ladies quietly asking me how I’m related to the family etc, etc–trying to figure out who I am and probably whether I was eligible. That is, until I open my mouth [or they read my blog] and realize what an opinionated and outspoken person I am.

    But I do agree that women in countries /cultures in which marriage isn’t the end goal are NOT less concerned with looks. I’ve written posts about this on my blog.[will include links at the bottom of the comment–please delete if inappropriate].

    As for pretty vs. hot in Indian contemporary culture, I figure that ‘hot’ is in–from what I see of Bollywood actors and fashion magazines in India.

    http://kayinindia.blogspot.com/2011/10/women-insecurities-opposite-of-progress.html
    http://kayinindia.blogspot.com/2011/11/media-related-idiot-complex-is-not.html

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  2. Am I first?:)
    Anyway, the writer of this article sounds absolutely unbelievable but sadly that’s how many men think…if this is what pretty means then I certainly don’t want to be pretty. If ‘hot’ women are commodities to be used and dumped (says a lot about his ‘morality’ eh?) then pretty women are commodities that can also be used except for a looooonnnnger period i.e. marriage, and with the sanction of society so pretty or not a woman’s life is screwed anyway! Very sad.
    P.s- Taylor Swift is ‘pretty’ and Miley Cyrus is ‘hot’?! Interesting…

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  3. What a load of crock this article is (the original one, not your comments). The article is a good reminder that there is a section of American society that remains with its head stuck up its own behind. There were exactly two sensible comments on that article and they were accused of being “hostile much”. Thankfully, large portions of the world have moved on so that we no longer have to do more than roll our eyes at this man’s views.

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  4. This article is absolutely hilarious. I am still laughing after reading it. Your comments IHM, as always touch the core.
    But this article is so absurd that no logical discussion is possible.
    What the author here wants to tell that women should try to look “pretty” to please men and if a woman looks “hot” it makes the men unhappy.
    The big question here is looking “pretty” or looking “hot” – where does the woman stand to gain by pleasing men in her avatar?

    I think what makes the author nervous is what will the world come to if the women no longer need men to “protect” them.
    I fail to understand why this obsession with a woman’s body ???
    A woman certainly has more role in this world than thinking and obessessing about how she appears to a man. Maybe some men are so much caught up in the mysteries and fantasies of a woman’s body that they cannot think beyond it.

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  5. You have reacted so badly to an idea which is not about beauty, but about respect. You may not be pretty or innocent, but you will have to have some decency so that men do not label you as a commodity. Women can change her self in what ever way she wants to, but sadly she can not change the perception of men or their preconceived notion of respect related to innocence and beauty. There’s no point in fighting against what is still a dominant trend not only in India , but also in west. Men want to marry decent and respectable innocent looking women, and if she happens to be pretty then it is a definite advantage.

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    • Yogendra, let me make two three points,

      1. What do you mean by ‘innocent’? Don’t you think it is better for a woman to be herself? Do you think all women are innocent or should be innocent? If they are not, should they pretend?

      2. About respect. Isn’t it enough if a woman respects herself – isn’t that most important? Can a woman respect herself if she is pretending to be innocent when actually she is not innocent? Isn’t that hypocrisy?

      Edited to add:
      3. And by decent dressing, do you mean wearing sarees and salwaar kurta?

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      • Oh please, “respect”. It is not respectful if a person is objectified for how they look. It is like treating them like a commodity. Oh and while we are at it, let me also mention that respecting a woman for being a mother or for doing a good job raising kids or cooking good food or “sacrificing” is just as objectifying. Not respectful , rather diminishing their role.

        Respect is subjective. Anyhow comments about objectification being “respect” make one disrespect the writer.

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    • You will speak for yourself, Yogendra.

      If you label people at first sight based on how they look, that is fine by me. If you go by preconceived notions, so be it. If you do not have enough life experience to understand the folly of going by stereotypes, that is your problem.

      Do not attempt to debase an entire species by making sweeping generalizations that you cannot possibly validate. You are not my spokesperson. I am articulate enough to express my own opinions about dress and decency, thank you very much, and do not appreciate your assumptions about my thought process as a male.

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    • And what about men? Do you REALLY think we strong and independent women would fall for superficial people who look for “innocence” to choose spouses? And the way men act: Bragging about how many cigarettes your smokes, how many drinks you can handle, how many girls you lulled into “loving” you…. do you REALLY think this makes us go “Wowwww, kya stud hai !! ” ?

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      • firstly I am completely unable to understand how anyone’s innocence is supposed to be judged even after years of knowing her. Just because I can take care of myself, how does it make me any less innocent than the helpless lass who schemes against her best friend?

        Secondly, when it comes to vague terms like ‘hot’ and ‘pretty’, I have no clue how we are supposed to judge these objectively or make generalizations. No wonder so many men grow unhappy in their marriages when the illusion of innocence on both sides breaks. 😀

        Thirdly, Smruti is particularly correct in stating that men bragging about the number of women they have lulled into ‘loving’ them is extremely amusing. I once dated a very ‘educated’, apparently ‘decent’ co-worker, who did exactly this. I will never forget the expression on his face when he said: “Every woman I have dated till now has fallen in love with me and wanted me back in her life!” 😀 (and though I do not know the exact number, I do know that this Indian man had dated women from around the world). I was horrified to know his real thoughts about women – just so you know, if you spoke to him, you would be convinced that he respects all women deeply.

        So both men and women should be careful before they rush in to judgments based on external attributes.

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    • I read this  three times but feel unequal  to the task of saying something smart or useful.
      I am a simple fellow.
      “Pretty” to me means good-looking in a dimunitive sort of  way.
      I don’t find any “woman” pretty.
      All the pretty ones are cute little girls.
      They are neither “dateable” nor “marriable” but simply adorable.

      I don’t know who this Olivia Newton John is and neither do I know what Grease is.
      I think  I will pass this up.
      No more comments from me.
      Let me read instead what your other readers have to say.
      Regards
      GV

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      • Okay, IHM, I checked the link.
        Now we are getting somewhere
        My understanding of the word “pretty” had me a bit confused for a while.
        By pretty he means good looking in way that that is “clean”,
        The writer is contrasting that with a woman who is “sexy”
        If I understand him correctly, he is deploring a modern woman’s preference for “sexiness” over “cleanliness”
        He wants women to be “innocent” and men to be protective and guard this innocence.

        This is again a patriarchal attitude which modern women resent.
        Not all men feel like this.
        Particularly me. I like my woman to be all of these at different times in their lifetime and under the right circumstances.
        I wanted them to be “maternal” if they are older to me, so that I can look up to them and pay my respects. I want them to be “pretty” and “innocent” when they are children so that I can adore them and protect them.
        And, quite frankly, in my younger days if dating had been in fashion in my circles and community, I would be attracted to those who were “hot” but I would not go overboard and misbehave. Their being “hot” would never be held against them. It would be a qualification.

        Unlike this writer, I don’t want to be protective to the modern woman. I find modern women fully capable of taking care of themselves and don’t presume I can protect them.

        Like PT said above, let him not speak for PT and also not for me.
        Regards
        GV

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  6. Great post IHM. This looks part has really left me pondering over the years. I have a face that people consider pretty and innocent. Add to it the fairness. And here I have a bunch of problems. In college, some onlookers adored me for no reason, others hated me for no reason. What perplexed me was what made those people have those opinions about me when they did not even know me. Even today, looking at my face, most Indian people assume I am traditional and talk about the virtue of Indian women, etc and are taken in for a shock when they get a dose of feminism. What makes people think innocent faces are damsels in distress who believe in gender roles? Can’t a feminist look feminine? This misconception is universal. Even my American manager was shocked to hear that I was a feminist and thought that was something I came up with after having a couple of drinks at the office party. My in-laws who had happily ‘approved’ our marriage assuming I will be the quintessential Indian ‘bahu’ felt betrayed to hear my feminist views. Nobody should be judged by how they look. It’s just unfair.

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  7. I love the name you wanted to give the post – Honour by any other name, control by many other names!
    I say pretty and hot are moods not types of personalities defined by physical appearances. I can want to look pretty today, hot tomorrow and dirty the day after. The point would be why do I want to look one way or the other, because I like it and I want to be all my selves or because I want to be looked at? and we all need to constantly ask ourselves that because gender socialization runs deep and unlearning is not easy!
    For my mom wearing a saree is looking innocent/traditional whereas I wear a saree to look sexy/hot, doesn’t it all depend on perception? for my mom showing legs is sexy for me the waist is sexier! Duh!
    I wear jeans to be comfortable, casual and informal my grand mom might think its cause I am trying to attract men’s attention.
    The thing is that sometimes I do want to attract a man’s or a woman’s attention and yes! it is so allowed and normal but I don’t rely on my clothes for that. I open my mouth and say a few things which mean I like you or am interested in knowing you better. What are our mouths for if our clothes are assumed to do all the talking?!?!?
    And till I open my mouth and express I like you can you please stay out of my face, or breast or legs or whatever it is you are gaping at and presume to read my mind please! Ugh!

    I recently wrote a post (for the men say No blogathon) where I wanted to convey exactly this – Men should not be in the role of perpetrators but not in the role of protectors either.

    P.S-Men who think some women are girl friend material and others are wife material still exist – too many to count, I doubt many men want to be Katrina’s husbands I mean how many men would be able to handle their wife being a Hindi movie actress in reality- not so many I think! She is more ‘girlfriend’ material.

    Sorry about that almost as long as a post.

    Me – Loved your comment!! Please do share the link to the post you mentioned above.

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  8. What complete rubbish!

    From start to finish, the article reads like a whiny rant from a teenager who has overdosed on Seventies era sitcoms.

    To begin with, the writer’s consistent use of “girl” as a term of reference to grown women is more than a little irritating. Adult Women are not “girls” any more than adult men are “boys”.

    The tone is horribly condescending and arrogant, like a sermon instead of an opinion. Not only does he presume to speak for every man on the face of the earth, he also goes on to make strong assertions about complex social phenomena with the supreme confidence of a person drunk on their own wisdom.

    Here is a reality check for the fellow and those who might be inclined to follow his point of view: “Innocence” is as much of a commodity as “hotness”.
    The enthusiasts of Innocence are being silly if they believe that hankering after a fake projection of sexualized restraint is any more “noble” than chasing bolder women. Fake is fake and sexual is sexual. One does not offer pointless opinions and meaningless justifications regarding which kind of fake sexuality one happens to find more genteel and noble than the other.

    Perhaps the MOST annoying thing about this that in his quest to make a point out of this incoherent claptrap, he completely ignores the fact that the vast majority women fit into neither of the two categories. Very few women outside of high school aspire to be virgin sex sirens of the Mata Hari ilk OR brazenly sexual beings. They are mostly just normal people, like men. They work in the day and like to relax after that. They think about many things apart from men. They have *gasp* lives of their own, and have priorities beyond attracting men.

    Make no mistake sir, the “irony” you mention exists largely because of men like you, men who need additional validation as protectors of people who do not need to be protected, men who debase women for their private choices and then blame the women for bringing it on.

    If the writer was indeed trying to make a point, he seems to have been unsuccessful. If this was a rant, it was a pathetic one.

    A D for presentation and an F for content.

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  9. Pretty and innocent…or hot. And those are the only adjectives/definitions/description he could think of, for women? 😐
    So he thinks that’s all there is to being attracted to a woman. Only the beauty (prettiness) and wanting to protect her (innocence)….not her character, common sense, sense of humour, her thoughts, her words, her outlook….NOTHING ELSE. Wow!! Talk about unidimensional!

    And they wonder why society isn’t moving ahead? How can they, when there are men like these caught in a time warp? 😛

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  10. The author defines pretty “as a mutually enriching balanced combination of beauty and projected innocence.”

    he he. it looks like a definition that was coined by a bot that had access to a thesaurus and none to intelligence. I mean, mutually enriching? projected innocence? balanced combination?

    the article reminds me of the essays that are posted on FB humor pages. this one will be right at home there.

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  11. “Most men prefer pretty over hot.” – So you think! Even if this was true, I have no time or interest in such men. I don’t give a damn, what they think of me.


    “pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend.” – This is bull shit. Instinct to protect/defend something is not triggered by how pretty or innocent something is/looks. And it largely depends on the human values of a person.

    They are a good number of men who want the women in their life especially and other women in general to be more independent, confident and in general capable of handling themselves without them having to constantly protect them. This is irrespective of them being innocent, pretty, hot or something else.

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  12. I am yet to read the full post, but am tempted to comment first.

    This post is why I read your blog IHM, and like it so much.
    This blog rocks for the kind of issues that are raised that need to be addressed sooner or later, sooner the better. I wrote my comment based upon the text in red which I am sorry I read first.

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  13. And this person think women are liberated!! I think the core of a woman’s liberation is in “letting her BE” . Which is not present even today. Today, women can most of the times do what they want but then they have to answer their intentions in doing what they please. How liberated is this?!! 😐
    Even today, men/society expects women to look pretty , innocent, hot for “them”. To please them, to give them a feeling they can protect you or oggle at you. How weird and hypocrtical is that! It is unbelievable how much “pressure” is built up on women who actually do pay heed to such articles and waste so much of their precious time trying to look hot one day and pretty the other day! And even more unbelievable that it is the looks that decide how hot, pretty or innocent you are. I mean, hullo!! Innocence more than anything else depends on what you think, how you think. Not how innocent you look. Same goes for hot-ness. (I never understood what pretty really is, so wont say anything about that). I mean, innocence originated from how a small child is. We talk about the innocence of children. Does that mean we are talking about how “innocent” they look?! It is the unbiased, purity of thoughts as a child sees it. The uncluttered thinking. honest thinking. That is innocent to me. Looks dont even figure anywhere in the list!
    “Girls, please, bring back the pretty.” is the message? All I can do is laugh at him and continue reading the spec sheet I was reading before this, with no thoughts of hot-ness, pretty-ness and innocence whatsoever in my mind! I am sure most of us will do this, because seriously there are better things to do than sweat about looking a particular way for a mass of men!!

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  14. LOL! The author needs a Time Machine that will take them to the medieval times. He/She/It will be very happy there.
    My observation has been that Women and Men do a dance of roles around each other(I am talking of Normal Healthy People not psychopaths). There will be times when there is only Physical attraction at work, that usually happens around the peak reproductive ages, but we all play roles of being protector, nurturer, provider etc, and that is not specific to Gender, but specific to the circumstances the people are in.
    Love this statement IHM “Why not let the world get used to legs being used for walking, instead of being used for projecting virtue, respectability or hotness?”
    I read somewhere “I respect you not because you are a Gentleman/Lady but because I am” and thought, how true that is! Respecting the other has nothing to do with the other’s behavior as much as it has to do with how we chose to conduct ourselves.
    Hmm, maybe I should use what the author said to my advantage. When I want the man to do something for me, all I have to do is ACT so innocent that he will feel the need to protect me and do things for me. I can have an unpaid servant.(Sarcasm intended).
    On the other hand, Maybe I should steer clear of People like him who judge others by the Package and lose out on Real thing. Yep! that would be wiser.

    me – LOL yeah 🙂
    And loved this quote, “I respect you not because you are a Gentleman/Lady but because I am”

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  15. I totally loved Towards Harmony’s comment. The issue of what is ‘sexy’ or not, ‘appropriate’ or not can be quite confusing sometimes!
    What is someone’s traditional and decent dress is utter horror to another.
    Guess the author of the article would have a mighty stroke if he attends the reed festival in Swaziland

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  16. Good reply to an article full of patriarchal and feudal arrogance.
    Feudal patriarchy wants women to be slaves who can be “showed off” and ‘protected’. That is why it needs ‘pretty innocent faces’ . Capitalist patriarchy needs more assertive women who can work and earn for herself,but still should not be herself but a tool for man’s pleasure.That is how this ‘hot’ concept came up.

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  17. More shocked at the endorsing comments on that article than the article itself. This kind of thought process is seen very commonly among male chauvinists and drawing room discussions(unfortunately) , it is just disheartening to see it being touted in respectable publications.

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  18. Ack…what chauvinistic tripe. >__< Nice criticism of his points IHM. I'll address several of the points he made as well.

    As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend. Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity. Its value is temporary and must be used. It is a consumable.

    What the author doesn’t realize is that “pretty” is also a commodity.
    Hotness is a consumable. A consumable that consumes as it is consumed but brings no warmth.

    He obviously is concerned more about his feelings.

    Most girls don’t want to be pretty anymore even if they understand what it is. It is ironic that 40 years of women’s liberation has succeeded only in turning women into a commodity. Something to be used up and thrown out.

    You know what’s sad? I bet this author really thinks he’s complimenting women with this BS. All he did was further place women in the virgin/whore dichotomy. Thus, women are either “pretty” which is innocent and pure, or “hot” something that he seems conveys impurity.

    Once upon a time you would hear girls talk about kind of women men date and the kind they marry. You don’t hear things like that anymore.

    Boo freakin hoo. I’m glad a lot of women these days talk about more than what men they would like to date and marry, that means they have other priorities in their lives other than getting married. Also, some women don’t want to be married or there are women who don’t want to be married, but not to men, but laws prevent that from happening.

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  19. IHM,

    This morning I read the original article and comments and was surprised by the views of Americans readers.

    I have posted the following comment but it is under moderation at the moment.
    I don’t know if the comment will appear.
    I am reproducing it here.

    Regards
    GV

    This blog post has become the subject of another blog post by a lady blogger in India.
    She has referred and linked to this post and also commented on it and her blog post has attracted quite a few comments.
    What is interesting is that the comments by Indian readers are at variance with the views of most American readers.
    I would have expected the opposite.
    If interested in seeing how people from the other end of the world think about this issue, please visit the following link.

    https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/that-special-combination-of-beauty-and-innocence-the-pretty-inspires-men-to-protect-and-defend-it/#comments

    Greetings to all readers on the occasion of Christmas from a reader in India
    G Vishwanath
    Bangalore, India

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  20. I’ve known that there are too many men in India who think along the lines of the article in question, but to know that some men in the liberal West think this way too–interesting!! He is clearly not a one-off, if the concurring comments on his post are anything to go by. Chauvinism knows no boundaries it seems.

    This mindset has its roots in boys being raised to feel like they are the center of the universe. That everything else, and most certainly all girls, must revolve around them. Of course such men are likely to be bewildered by the fact that women these days don’t even try to come across as pretty and innocent, as these men would like to see them, and insist on looking ‘hot’ instead!

    When the writer talks about hotness being a commodity, “to be used and thrown” as he so eloquently puts it, what he means is that men like him might be attracted to hot women and have casual sex with them but won’t marry them, which is akin, he imagines, to being ‘thrown away’. Women who act pretty and innocent “whatever the state of their souls” are rewarded by these men with marriage, which in turn is akin to being ‘cherished’. Too bad the women today don’t particularly want to be cherished by such men. Horror of horrors, they don’t even seem to mind being ‘thrown away’. Forty years of feminism has obviously touched them in the head!

    Take this line of thinking a little further and you get victim-blaming (acting hot, asking for it) and the urge to control the way women behave/live/dress (don’t dress in a manner that makes you look hot).

    Essentially it is all about controlling a woman’s sexuality.

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  21. Oh and isn’t it interesting that despite the pretty or innocent or whatever classification, men would still prefer pleasing eye candy- mind you there is no space for ugly or homely or plain women. Poor things, they are not lusted after, but no one wants to protect them either. How “respectful”.

    Like

  22. what a load of crap!! (I mean the article!) The author sounds very misogynist!!
    Lemme go back and complete reading the article! Bah!

    “Obsession with being thin, fair, tall, begins with wanting to look good to please other people” – this I totally agree!!

    I read the whole post, agree with your view point and I stick to my original comment – the orginal article is nothing but a load of crap!

    Like

  23. “A woman’s body has purpose other than how it looks to men”
    You said it. It is always about men, men, men. Lets get this straight: Women are not in this world to please or be pleasing to men. If the men like women as they are well and good, Or they should just go take a hike.

    The ‘hot’ word used here reminded me of an FB mini-war between a cousin and I. One of my friends (a lady) said the nephew’s young bride looked hot, that all Mallus were a combination of ‘hot’ and brains. She meant that in a complimentary way. The cousin took exception to it, other family member’s joined, they wanted me to tick off my friend. I refused point blank. Now there is a Grand Canyon between us all. Phew good riddance.

    Like

  24. hahaha, the author’s ‘plea’ to bring back the pretty sure sounds like that an adolescent’s cry 😀

    Agree with all your counter-points to the article.

    The whole piece somehow seems to focus majorly on the need for a woman to look/or not look a certain way purely to please others- specifically men. What about dressing up for oneself? What about being comfortable in one’s own skin and be perfectly content about one feels from within? I know how confident I feel when I wear a dress or a jewellery that I like, at that particular time i don’t think about how my husband may take my fashion sense or what people in general would think of my appearance, so to speak. If I feel comfortable wearing something and looking hot and pretty from within- yes I do feel hot and pretty can be taken in the same vein- the outer beauty will automatically show.

    By saying that if you show your legs, you are ‘hot’ and if you wear a saree or a kurta you are pretty, then I think you are slotting the terms which is not fair. I am as comfortable wearing a Churidar-kurta as jeans and a top and many times I have felt that sometimes wearing a stylish suit can bring out the ‘hawt’ness just as a simple jeans and a top can bring out the prettyness. Like one of the commenters above said, its all a matter of perception. What may seem pretty to me may seem hot to somebody else. What may seem innocent to someone may seem dumb to me. Like the author who may have had the most ‘innocent’ intention while writing this piece but to me he/she comes across as pretty dumb 😀

    I seem to have started off from some point and ended with something else… I better stop 🙂

    Have a festive season and a blessed year ahead, IHM 🙂

    Me – Thanks and same to you Deeps!

    Like

  25. It’s ridiculous, the article. People (not just women) don’t look the same all the time.
    Hot women don’t *always* look hot… it’s not like people will Always wear heels and a come-hither look on their faces, there are times when they walk around in PJs
    and a worn out t shirt too do u know, Mr. Author-who-seems-to-have-had-very-little-long-term-experience with women?

    That being said, some people do look sexy, and others look innocent, and others look drab and invisible and that’s their persona, not their dressing. The outfit only accentuates what you have, it just shows who you are. And there’s nothing wrong with who you are, as long as you’re okay with it. Who you are changes throughout life, cos you experience life everyday, and you learn and grow into someone based on the choices you’ve made.

    So innocent, sexy, alluring… it’s all good people! Just live and let live!

    Like

  26. This whole affair of ‘appearing’ pretty/ innocent etc, etc is such a put off. It only reinforces the idea of how superficial some people are and lack the depth and the guts to be honest.

    As per me the ‘real’ man/ person will talk to the lady to figure out if she is innocent or hot. I don’t know about ‘pretty’… I would rather use the term ‘attractive’ (for both men and women).

    Like

  27. “Pretty, hot, gorgeous, sexy”-these are all labels one puts on a person based on certain superficial aspects. Appearances are not always the truth-they are especially not the whole truth. Anybody who judges a person by their looks or clothes fails to respect the concept of individuality. Labels don’t define who the people are. Instead labels based on superficial aspects dehumanize. Such labels lead to stereotyping and typecasting; erasing all of the complexity of someone’s rich story and paints them as one-dimensional, soulless, caricature. Any label that is used pejoratively goes beyond the mere categorization; it becomes an insult or a put down.

    Nobody fits in a particular category all the time. Even the hottest person around the town has looked overweight or not in shape at some point of time, the prettiest of the all also has had days when he/she looked like a slob, the most beautiful person on earth has had pimples and has felt ugly. Appearances can be altered. A girl can choose look pretty one day, and hot another day. She can even choose to look like a lazy person who couldn’t care less about brushing the hair when she stepped out of the house. Also important is how you carry yourself; a person could be donning the most beautiful designer dress and yet not look pretty/gorgeous/hot or whatever label you choose to ascribe if she/he feels uncomfortable in that outfit, lacks confidence and doesn’t feel hot/sexy/gorgeous/pretty/cute/beautiful. Yes these labels are states of mind as well that translate into outer appearances. This implies that you can be wearing a swimming costume and feel childlike inside, thus giving the appearance of being pretty or cute or you could be wearing a salwar kurta and yet look hot or sexy if you feel attractive and feel confident enough. Lastly, clothes and appearances change according to places, situations and circumstances.

    Now coming to the original article, it is just gibberish. It was not about respect. Anyone who thinks otherwise has to really understand what respecting somebody as a human means. Clearly protecting and defending someone because they subscribe to your notion of what’s pleasing, what should be or the conventional standard of beauty is as much related to respect as your shoe size is related to how wealthy you are. If somebody needs “beauty and innocence” as an impetus for them to protect somebody or arouse their nobler instincts, then nothing can be as deplorable as this. Well surely you can protect a child who’s apparently frail and yet feel no respect of him as a human. The attitude of helping somebody, protecting somebody in danger should be out of empathy, and a sense that you could be helpful not out of seeing some “eye candy” (as per your standards and added bonus if she’s a damsel in distress or “innocent”) so that you can impress and win her as a trophy or just so you can boost your ego. Nothing can be more disrespectful! In all our relationships we play all these roles based on given circumstances. Any guy who thinks he should know –it-all and experience everything in life, while the girls should knowingly remain ignorant or dumb down and choose to avoid experiences that some random guy would label as indecent for good girls, has double standards and should not be talking about decency or respecting women, because they really don’t know what respect and decency entails.
    The summary of the article goes like this-“I wish the days, when women appeared and sounded pleasant /nice but lacked strength, force, purpose, and intensity would come back”. This writer’s definition of innocence is more about being ignorant or harmless or frail like a child than the honesty and lack of guile. He probably laments the lack of damsels in distress and the days when women acted all dumb to boost their men’s ego, were unaware of their own sexuality and weren’t so open and didn’t talk about their own needs and had only one priority -“pleasing men”. This guy doesn’t talk about respect. He does otherwise; by clearly stating that hotness is consumable and indirectly conveying the message that so is prettiness. Now both these traits probably fade with age and are quite superficial. But girls understand that you have to fit into one of the two categories to attract some attention from men. In case you are plain, disfigured, slob, ugly or anything that doesn’t conform to the men’s standard of beauty and what a girl should be, you better learn to protect your own self and come to terms with the fact that you’ll never be lusted after by any man in this world.

    Like

  28. i am surprised that the author of the original article didn’ t go ahead and state that women who look pretty, innocent and VULNERABLE tend to be protected my men folk more – they feel empowered to protect rather than threatened. I have heard this argument a lot – if u behave like a woman you will be treated like one – however vague and ambiguous that sounds. the article reaffirms what so any believe about what a woman should be – pretty, innocent, seen and not heard, fragile, with delicate appetite.…how very frustrating!

    Like

    • reminds me of the book Gone With the Wind where Scarlet was told how a “good woman” should behave. Remember that scene where she had to eat before a party so she’d not eat AT the party?

      Like

  29. It’s all perception I suppose. Sometimes you will see someone who is both hot and pretty, being a dude I will never complain regarding a mini-skirt & heels. Will women ever complain about muscles? I doubt it. Live and let others live the way they want.

    Like

  30. A bit late to the party…
    “That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it” – Puke !

    By the original author’s definitions
    Pretty = Good looking + powerless
    Hot = Good looking + powerful
    and presumably, Not good looking= Oh, forgot you exist.

    Like

  31. what i conclude is this is this one is just one of the many ….we all are going distant away from our true reality , reality which lies in truth , innocence …….ofcourse perfection in these is rarest of rare but the pinch of it surely adds the spiritual flavour to our life and we automatically rise above all these. till then its very difficult to make everyone understand solely by his or her intellect…. sorry for being too philosophical but its just what came right from the bottom..

    and yes i like innocent girls…..and marry innocent girl also and if possible date also………….

    Like

  32. Wow. Just wow. I hadn’t expected such vehemence and so much taking things out of context.

    Please keep in mind that the original article was written BY an American, FOR Americans, in the context of AMERICAN culture. No commentary was made in regards to the world-wide stage. No commentary was made in regards to the extremes of treatment. He’s NOT saying that “pretty girls don’t get raped.” He’s talking in the context of behavior that is considered culturally and socially acceptable… IN AMERICA.

    To put it simply, the point of the original article is to say that women should not portray themselves as commodities. Appearances do communicate messages. What message do you wish to communicate to your world through your appearance? That is all.

    There is a way to be pretty and attractive and to groom oneself so as to put one’s “best foot forward.” If I chose to go out without brushing my hair or wearing clean clothes, I would be disrespecting myself just as much as if I went out made up like a clown, with “wanton eyes,” and wearing hot pants and revealing all nature gave me.

    I also think that the author of the original piece has a different definition of “innocent” than maybe some people here have. “Innocent” does not mean “ignorant.” It means “without guile” or “without ulterior motives.” In the opinion of the author, well-and-neatly-groomed combined with putting forth an honest portrayal of oneself equals “pretty.”

    For me this means pants that aren’t too tight, or skirts that aren’t too short, covering my bosom (which is a bit on the large side), keeping my hair neat, and I enjoy wearing small amounts of makeup that highlight my best features. For a friend of mine that means curling her hair every day, wearing more makeup than I prefer, wearing a well-tailored dress, and having her nails done. For another friend it means wearing long skirts, growing her hair long, and wearing no makeup. The common thread here is that for all of us, our motivation is to present ourselves as best we can in a neat and appropriate manner. There is no ulterior motive to seduce, entice, deceive, or flaunt. We simply “are who we are.”

    What does this mean for someone in India? I don’t know. I don’t know enough about the culture or what different appearances communicates in Indian culture.

    So, no matter what culture you live in, the question is, how do you portray yourself? Are you telling others through your dress that you are pretty, or smart, or feisty, or committed, or tough, or cheap, or a commodity?

    As far as the “women’s rights” comments go, again, please keep in mind that this is in context of AMERICAN culture. It has never been publicly acceptable to throw a woman on her husband’s funeral pyre or to ostracize someone because they’re a widow. It has never been publicly acceptable to cut off a hand because there was fingernail polish on it. Abuse of women is not tolerated as a whole. It is discouraged and criminalized.

    The original women’s rights movement in America had more to do with “equal pay for equal work” and improving the legal rights of women (being able to own property, voting, access to education, protection from forced abortions, etc.). Unfortunately, in the 1960’s it started being twisted into “well, the boys are doing it so why can’t we?” So began the decline of women in America. Rather than having a women’s movement that looked to edify and improve men, it was all about abasing womanhood in order to be “equal” with men. If you look at popular American culture now, so many women are valued only for their ability to look “hot” and seduce men. There is so much more to being a woman than that.

    The idea presented by the author that women can influence men is a valid one. Yes, men should also influence women and society for good. However, the article was about women and their influence on the world. Perhaps another time the author will choose to talk about men and their influence on society through their own appearance.

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    • Just to clarify, when I said, “Abuse of women is not tolerated as a whole” I mean to say that while there is a very very very small minority who think it’s OK to hit a woman, American society as a whole looks down upon wife-beaters, child molesters, and rapists.

      Like

    • Allytude says,

      Misogyny and fundamentalism are the same regardless of culture. Moral or cultural relativism will not explain why this piece is appropriate. The article seems to be written by someone who would like to control how women dress or look, and thus to objectify them!

      Here are some refrences from the us on these “women should be like this” sorts of articles,

      1.
      http://talkinreckless.com/2011/10/31/women-have-a-right-to-dress-slutty-on-halloween-and-to-feel-safe-doing-it/

      2.

      http://www.acceler8or.com/2011/08/slutwalk-take-back-the-night-and-evolutions-future-sluts/

      Like

      • I’m sorry, but you really do misunderstand. I lived in India for a year and I know that you are dealing with a very different history of “patriarchy” and oppression of females by males. If you spent a single day at my local high school you would understand completely where his comments are coming from. Girls and women in our society are so unaware of what “dressing hot” actually projects to those around them; I certainly didn’t when I was a kid and dressed in spandex and push-up bras.

        The author is advocating for awareness and self-discipline that comes from self-respect. Your average prostitute knows exactly what she projects when she puts on her clothes. Your average teenage American girl does not. Seriously, I had to throw out hot pants and halter tops that I got second hand….hot pants *for a one year old little girl*. The sexualisation and commodotisation of women and girls in our culture is truly, deeply harmful to them…and the author was just pointing this out.

        Like

  33. Pingback: The Lynching of Respect « Malmam's Blog

  34. …and I thought Olivia Newton John was famous for her good and catchy music. I do think she is beautiful as are others of that era like Siouxie Sioux, Polly Styrene and Cindi Lauper. Its the beauty of their music, not just the dresses they wear that make them who they are.

    Having said that, the article isn’t particularly offensive if you don’t look at it with feminist glasses. It was meant to be a light hearted plea of a romantic and conservative male, on an an issue that is neither to be taken seriously and not morally policeable in the United States. An American man who bemoans the loss of ‘innocence’ is not something that means the same thing if Praveen Muthalik calling for ‘chastity and purity’.

    I think the reason that this post got a lot of commenters riled up is partly because they related it to themselves in the desi feminist context and also partly because they couldn’t believe a white man from the liberal-utopia-of-milk-and-honey could air such views.

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  35. I like the article, to me it’s inspiring. “Pretty” and “Innocent” here are not regarding about look, or saying you should look pretty and innocent. It’s more to the whole thing- inner and outside. Doesn’t mean being hot is a bad thing. I’m agree with Yogendra, yeah there are facts that men prefer pretty&innocent over hot.

    Like

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