I am not for a moment going to suggest that one of the main reasons being sexually assaulted or harassed by Weinstein is particularly bad is specifically because he is ugly. Being groped and made to feel unsafe by good looking men is not any nicer, and the fact that some men suggest this in the form of “women only call men creeps when they don’t find them attractive back!” just goes to show that they’ve never for a moment thought of anything from a woman’s perspective. Let me tell you – when a man starts to make me feel unsafe and objectified I am so preoccupied with making mental notes of the nearest exit, whether the people around me look like they might be of help or not, and the fact that I am starting to sweat, that I do not even dare look at him square in the face, never mind sum up if I think he’s good looking or not.
What I am suggesting the complete lack of any comment whatsoever on Weinstein’s ugliness conveys is a few other things. Is it not uncommon for women who speak out about sexual violence they’ve endured from men to be faced with “I don’t think so love, look at you.”. The accusation of being too ugly to rape is something many women face after voicing their experiences of rape and assault. Sometimes by others, as Andrea Dworkin faced after writing about her rape, as well as this young woman by a councillor, but also by the rapists themselves in an attempt escape their allegations. John Prescott denied assaulting his victim due to her looks, a Brazillian lawmaker said of his victim “she’s too ugly, she wouldn’t be worth it”, and of course the most powerful man in the world has also pulled the same tactic.
Men know how paralysing it is to objectify women and force us to objectify ourselves before speaking out. The fact that women may feel the need now to check themselves and assess their attractiveness before going public with an accusation of assault, for fear of looking full of themselves and embarrassingly ‘delusional’ is extremely, bitterly sad. Clearly, men believe that being a woman who thinks a man would assault you when you are in fact ugly, could well be a worse position to be in than to be a man accused of sexual assault by many women across many decades. You can’t deny that they stick it out there to see.
We have men with characters at rock bottom levels of depravity, such as Weinstein with his extensive history of harassing and abusing women, taking advantage of them and traumatising them, and yet still we do not think to ask of them – you know, you’re really pretty ugly? What were you thinking? Those women must have been horrified you thought that they were in your league? They were probably made to feel a little bit queasy at the thought of being with you? You must be absolutely mortified that now, with the public knowing that you’ve been trying it on with some of the most beautiful actresses (at alarmingly young ages as well), we can all see that you must, pitifully, be under the illusion that you’re somewhat handsome?
It seems that this is far too petty and disrespectful an avenue to go down with predatory and violent men, but it’s alright to do to women speaking out about their heinous treatment at the hands of men… and speaking out about pretty much anything else, really. Yet, despite Weinstein being really ugly, it clearly didn’t occur to him that it should hold him back from something as obnoxious and outrageous as grabbing women’s bodies. Nor, that his appearance could one day colour interpretations of his behaviour in a way which does not help him.
This is also not done to men because it just doesn’t hit the mark. Men aren’t expected to take any damage from appearance-based attacks, because society at large does not set up their appearances as fundamentally important aspects of them. The answer is not of course, to start doing the same to men in the name of equality. I’m not saying that we should be asking these questions of Weinstein, but pointing out what it says about the way we think of men and women that we don’t. Weinstein isn’t wrong to do what he’s done because he’s ugly, but the disparity between what men can get away with without thinking for a moment about their appearance and having their appearances judged, and the sky high beauty standards for women to so much as walk down the street, is glaring and significant.
If you don’t see race, how do you see racism? If you don’t see sex, how do you see sexism? And if you don’t see beauty, how do you see a double standard?