If you believe everything you read on Twitter, women are making the lives of men more difficult by wearing lipstick at work and causing such a sexual distraction that it should be deemed inappropriate. Let’s discuss.
Have you ever heard the phrase, damned if you do, damned if you don’t? Sometimes we think this old expression sums up the plight of women quite well.
Take this sexist, thoughtless tweet for example, fired off into the digital ether by a man who describes himself as a philosopher and radio host. This weekend he treated his followers with a musing which reads: “So strange. Do you know that female lipstick simulates sexual arousal? Can you imagine a man showing up for a business meeting with a giant artificial boner straining at his pants? Yet lipstick is perfectly acceptable in the business world.”
First of all, what a vile use of the word ‘straining’ – if we’re talking about things that feel acceptable, this certainly doesn’t. We’d also like to flag that his point doesn’t actually make sense: a man showing off his erection – a very obvious sign that he is aroused – isn’t the same as a woman wearing make-up which may or may not arouse other people. So good one for over-boiling the kettle there, buddy.
This feels like a good time to unpick the stereotype that women wear make-up and men don’t. Why is this? Well, it’s because women have historically been viewed as sexual objects for men’s pleasure and made to feel inadequate without extra primping and preening. Over time, this has built into the ridiculously high beauty standards that women feel pressured by today. For example, forehead lines on a man are seen as sexy and worldly, but on a woman unsightly. Men are viewed through a lens where things like an uneven skin tone wouldn’t be blinked at, whereas for women a full face of make-up is often expected.
Despite all of this, women are consistently encouraged to spend more money on beauty products than men. To take more time on their appearance and play into this societal expectation. And now, apparently, we can’t wear lipstick, because actually, it’s too sexually attractive for men to deal with?
Well, here’s a novel idea: women don’t wear lipstick solely for the appreciation of men. We wear it as a form of personal expression; we wear it because it’s fun; because it’s a creative outlet; it looks great on us; because simply, we enjoy it.
Unsurprisingly social media users also thought the comment was ridiculous, and had some pretty good comebacks themselves.
“PSA ladies, don’t ever get in an elevator with this walking red flag,” said one Twitter user. While another said: “I don’t wear lipstick for boys. I wear lipstick for girls. Every woman who says ‘Girl your lipstick game is on point’ gives me life.”
One woman challenged the author of the Tweet, writing: “Are you projecting your own lack of control around women? It sure sounds like it.”
We particularly enjoyed how this clapback highlighted the ridiculousness of his tweet: “Did you know that the color red enhances a man’s attractiveness? Let’s ban red ties, red cars, red socks. Fuck the colour red. In fact, financial success has been known to stimulate female arousel. Break all your watches, take the bus to work, foreclose your homes so we can cope.”
Sometimes it feels that, as women, we just can’t win. But although tweets like this are frustrating, we very much can and do win, just by being our badass selves.