Yesterday I had a really, really good teaching day. I ran into one of my own professors soon afterward, and confided that I always get a sinking feeling of disappointment when I walk out of a really successful class I’ve taught and there is no one waiting for me outside the building, with a banner that says “Congratulations! You Rock!”
She said she knew just what I was talking about. Maybe she was just being polite. But regardless, it made me reflect on the fact that I’m not the only one in the world who requires lots of affirmation.
Which made me think, first, about how lucky I am to have a readership that seems willing to stick with me on these meandering trains of thought I call blog posts. Second, it made me think of a Public Service Announcement that I have wanted to make since around the time I got hormones. I don’t like to think of this space as a soapbox for my random opinions, but this is too important (and: who am I kidding).
It’s directed toward all you heterosexual male readers. If you take away nothing else, please, for the love of humanity and procreation, take this: if and when you are intimate with a woman, tell her she is beautiful. As much as possible. Well, actually, not too much, or she’ll begin to question your credibility. (Sorry, women are crazy. I can’t help or change this, only tell you about it.)
But seriously: we need to hear it. Every day the world undermines the way we feel about ourselves physically in eighteen thousand ways. If you want to be with us, you probably find us attractive. Rationally, we know this. But again, we are not rational. We need to be told. It’s like weather, or politics: just the way it is.
I do not, at all, mean to suggest that women ought to be valued purely based on appearance. Clearly, women deserve and require validation in other, more important areas too. And you should give it to us. But the other things, we can find elsewhere. Anyone can tell us we’re smart or accomplished or funny or strong. And you should be among them. But not anyone can tell us how beautiful we are without being creepy (construction worker) or biased (Grandma). It is your job. It’s not that difficult. Just do it.
I wish this was not the case. I wish that all of us women could walk around with nothing but confidence in our physical desirability–or, better yet, not caring. Perhaps there are some women who actually do (if you know any, and their names are not Penelope Cruz or Gisele, I’d love to know).
And I suppose there’s the possibility that it’s just me (or: me and the several dozen women with whom I have, over the years, discussed this). So perhaps I should modify this PSA to “if you ever date me, tell me I’m beautiful.” Obviously, that’s implied. But I don’t think I’m alone.
Though I may be the only one for whom a corollary may require you to stand outside Dane Smith Hall on occasional Monday-Wednesday-Friday afternoons with a large banner, confetti, and perhaps a few noisemakers. The jury is still out.
What: is that so much to ask?