Love as Understood through Image/Text Combinations on Pinterest

125 Reasons Guys are Scared of Pinterest went around the internet a little while ago and I spent a long time struggling with why I found the images contained therein so objectionable, even apart from the way they’re framed. It’s not just that they’re heteronormative, or characterize romance as the centerpiece of one’s (probably teenage) life. It’s not even that they’re so depressingly simplistic. It’s really that they set up a conception of romantic love as a struggle between a girl and boy to hurt the other one before they get hurt. Love is a war in which each relationship is a battle, and girls are long-time victims who must marshal their weapons of melancholy, sass and overly high expectations in order to win the next battle against the boys, who are cruelly indifferent to their plight.

Let’s look at a few:

This is just really sad. It’s this admirable attempt for girls to band together in solidarity in response to being objectified hidden under the overwhelming amount of passive self-pity. If men are treating you as if you have breasts and no heart or personality, you should not just not date those men, you should not interact with them at all. Ever.

Again, I think the intention is good. For girls who have felt slighted one too many times, this can provide solace. But I really don’t think the healthiest way to fight relationship stress is by casting men (and cars) as useless obstacles in the way to your happiness. And not just because of how men will feel about it, but because of the low expectations you now have. It is ok to expect men to behave appropriately.

Come on pinterest, don’t do this to me! I get it, you want someone who wants you enough to ‘chase’ you, but relationships shouldn’t be built on passive aggressive games where the rules aren’t clear and everyone gets hurt at the end. That’s just a bad idea for everyone.

 I think this is supposed to be empowering, but I’m missing it. Women’s power is not in their ability to get really really mad, it’s in their ability to get things done. If anger propels action, that’s great. I know I’m really angry about a lot of things, and I hope that impels me to make change, but I’m disturbed by the notion that women’s capacity to scare men into submission in what I believe to be a relationship context is the basis of their power. That just sounds like perpetuating the stereotype that women are hysterical and emotional and relationships are built through mutual intimidation and threats.

This is one of the saddest ones. It’s so well-meaning. It’s a powerful message to girls who don’t fit the body standard that they are still sexy, that they still matter. But it’s a message told by the medium of, again, intimidation. Your curviness is so intrinsically sexy (note that the way that curvy girls are being uplifted is by putting down ‘boyish’ hips, just like the Real Women Have Curves nonsense) that it will scare boys away. That’s not helpful, to the large girls or the skinny ones. It’s a way of ‘beating the boys’ by being ‘too much’ for them. But it’s so empty when the entire message is about feeling insecure about not being desired. Sex is not a game you win against the other person.

I don’t particularly like this image, but this is by far the best message. And if any guys are scared of this, then I hope no girl who thinks this is inspiring has to deal with them, because they will have run away. And the ones that are left, and oh, there are so many, will be worth talking to, engaging with, and being with, not winning against.

This has been Post the Fifteenth of Blogathon

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