Thursday, 5 April 2012

Dropping a Brick

I am totally hooked by the Daily Mail Samantha Brick scandal even though I know perfectly well that the Daily Mail thrives by appealing to the worst in people, particularly xenophobia.* Note that I linked to the Telegraph instead.

To sum up, a married lady aged 41 wrote an article about how women hate her because she is so beautiful and how she can hardly wait for old age to catch up with her and remove her burden of beauty. She sent it on it to the Daily Mail with photographs of herself and her plump French husband.

If you don't know already, you can imagine what happened in the combox. And on Twitter. And on Facebook. The English-speaking blogosphere took a look at Samantha Brick, read her encomium to herself and fell about laughing with scorn. It wasn't that S.B. ranks with Angelina Jolie, for she doesn't. It's that she comes across as delusional.

She also presses two female buttons: 1. she claims women are inherently bitchy, envious and jealous, which is quisling-like slander 2. she claims she's looking forward to old age when she won't be beautiful anymore and men won't notice her, whereas that is one of women's greatest dreads.

It's a moot point whether Brick is as pretty as she thinks. I generally think I am dashing, and possibly my mirrors all lie because I usually like what I see in them, but then I see a cruel photo and I am sad. I go weeping to someone who loves me, and that someone tells me I am beautiful, and who am I to argue with that, eh?

However, even at my most confident, I would never believe women don't like me because I am too beautiful for their comfort level. If women don't like me, I guess it's because I said or wrote something that hurt their feelings. I never bought the idea that girls at school were mean to me because they seethed with envy of my "beautiful" hair, as my mother claimed.

Newsflash: women tend to admire beautiful women for their beauty. It's when a woman acts like she thinks she's so much better than all the other women around that we feel surges of dislike.

Anyway, Samantha Brick may or may not believe that she is as beautiful as she says she is, and I can see how it is certainly better for her to believe that she is. She has got scads of fame and might now get a regular column and better pay then freelancers tend to get. Meanwhile, she has taught us all a useful lesson in how to lose friends and disgust people.

*One of the weirder prejudices in British life is British resentment of the Poles. Why people who toddle happily in places marked "Kama Sutra" and "Fat Choy Fun" for their curry or noodle fix suddenly go bonkers at the sight of a sign marked "Sklep" is a mystery to me. Perhaps they have forgotten that Poles rescued Britain in the Battle of Britain. Total ingratitude.


Athanasius lover said...

I know what you mean about the mirror v. picture thing. I always like the way I look in the mirror, and then I'll see a picture of myself and think, "I hope that's not the way I look to everyone else!"

Domestic Diva said...

You hit the nail on the head by saying "Women tend to admire beautiful women for their beauty. It's when a woman acts like she thinks she's so much better than all the other women around that we feel surges of dislike." PERFECTLY stated.

Med School Girl said...

I agree with you about the quisling-like slander (inferring that women are bitchy and jealous) and I believe that we should always assume the best about others.

As a female physician (finished Med School in one week!), I have to tell you that other women aren't jealous of my beauty. However, any struggles I do have in the workplace (if any) are NOT with men and the concept of the "Old Boys' Club", and I'm going into Surgery! Instead, the struggles are with dealing with other women.
I used to be a nurse, and I will always be understanding and appreciative of other nurses.
However, some nurses DO NOT like another woman being in charge. I could give orders in the exact same tone and manner of wording as a male colleague. A nurse wouldn't bat an eyelash when receiving an order from the male doc, perhaps because men have traditionally been in positions of power. However, as soon as I give the order, that same nurse may take offense and resent my position of authority.

I believe that some women (particularly nurses) are jealous of women who are doctors, and assume that female doctors think they're better than they are. Luckily, most nurses don't think this way, but I have to tell you-I've had to develop a thick skin and get used to the fact that my position will automatically cause me to lose friends, so to speak, even if I do practice medicine with humility and team-based approach.

I wonder if there's an inherent "alpha female" trait amongst women, and this is brought out when one woman is in charge? I also believe that too many women working together is a bad thing. I believe that men are the caffeine in the cappucino of my work life, because they are rational, logical, and not overly sensitive when women sometimes struggle in these areas (including myself). I love having a balance between the genders. I hated my Labour and Delivery rotation because all of the nurses were female and they were so overbearing and territorial towards med students. It was the most difficult environment to be a learner in.

Anyways, that's my rant for today.

Have a blessed Holy Week, everyone!

Charming Disarray said...

Med School Girl, if you really believe women are less rational and logical than men, that's probably why the women you work with dislike you, especially since I'm sure they all worked very hard to get where they are in spite of their emotional handicap.

I, for one, have met plenty of irrational, illogical men and plenty of women willing to look the other way. I have also worked with both men and women, some of whom were irrational because they were irrational and not because of their gender.

Seraphic said...

My guess--and it is just a guess, just something to ponder, to accept or reject, depending on whether it is actually true to your circumstances--is that you are talking to the nurses "like a man" instead of like "a woman." Men bark orders and that's the way they are. But women--at least in Canada--make everything sounds so nice. There's no "do this", it's "hey, listen, would you mind...? Thanks, you're a LIFESAVER!"

Med School Girl said...

Charming Disarray,
If the main message you got from my post is that:
a) the majority of women at work dislike me
b) I think women are emotionally handicapped
Then I don't think I've expressed myself very clearly.

At my work, yes, sometimes I think men are more rational and logical than women, when the women in question are gossiping about others, criticizing others unfairly, and taking offense to situations that weren't meant to be hurtful at all. Those men, who are kind, fair, and reasonable, earn more respect from me than the women in that scenario.

I should mention, however, that my most important mentor is a female surgeon named Dr. M., who exudes professionalism, is loved by her patients, respected by staff, because she technically astute and a kind and gracious woman.

Back to the main argument of my post, I respect both men and women, and acknowledge that both can be irrational. I do think there are gender differences though, and I believe that men tend to focus on reasoning and problem-solving whereas women are more intuitive and relational.

Also, my main point in my previous post still stands; it is not always easy to be a woman in charge when working predominantly with other women, even though I respect women, enjoy being a woman and having feminine characteristics.

Others might have had other experiences, but that's been mine.

Clare said...

It may be that we've gotten used to men having positions of prestige and authority, and so when a women is in those positions, and is not apologetic about it, it feels like a betrayal somehow. Women don't trust the only girl in the boys' club, generally....especially when, as Charming said, she thinks women are inherently less rational than men.

Which means in the short-run, be extra respectful and sensitive to other women, and in the long run, encourage little girls in their dreams of being doctors.

Clare said...

Also, I'm not sure women have an emotional handicap. I believe we have emotions and are in touch with them, and that's good and healthy and in no way a threat to rationality.

However, I do believe that we are told from day one that we are so very emotionally fragile, so handicapped and incapable of controlling ourselves, that we internalize a tacit permission to behave like children. And then we do, and it's lousy. Until we get over that, and gain the collective virtue to tell the infantilizers where they get off, I think we'll always be subordinates.

Charming Disarray said...

You say you respect feminine characteristics but you include being irrational as one of them. "I don't get along with women because they tend to be irrational" is every bit as offensive as "I don't get along with women because they're jealous of my beauty."

I don't know what your circumstances are. Maybe all the women you work with really are irrational. But extrapolating from that about half the human race is not helpful, especially since there are plenty of men who like nothing better than when stereotypes like this about women get accepted as facts.

Charming Disarray said...

Clare, I agree with you. My comment about an "emotional handicap" was mean to be sarcastic. I don't even happen to think that women are more emotional than men, but I do think women and men are emotional in different ways. I certainly don't think men and women are the same, but one side of my family is Italian and ain't nobody going to tell me that men aren't emotional.

Seraphic said...

Okay, girls, settle down a wee bit. Keep it constructive.

What nobody has mentioned yet is the female capacity for bullying. Now of course men bully too, but they have more to lose in bullying women, especially these days.

Women who are a little different--and by difference I do not mean being beautiful, but something that breaks a consensus--often are at risk of being bullied. I can easily see how nurses, especially old hands on a ward, could gang up to make a female med student or doctor feel like hell.

The challenge for the female med student or doctor is to figure out how to win the respect and affection of the staff. Being charming or attractive in the same way a man is charming or attractive isn't going to cut it.

Mild as doves, cunning as the serpent. On my first day at my job of teaching 12 year old girls, I deliberately played up my resemblance (I was only 22) to Anne of Green Gables when SHE was a teacher. "Oh, MISS," cried the girls. "You look like ANNE!!!" But then I knew that the ideal teacher for your average gently brought up Canadian girl was, in fact, Anne of Green Gables.

What kind of woman doctor does a nurse respect, I wonder. Possibly this could be discovered by hunting down nurse blogs and message boards on the web.

Med School Girl said...

That's a good point. I should look on some blogs.
I don't think anyone likes having orders barked at them, and although I realize we've never met and you wouldn't know this, barking orders is not my style.

My question, though, is why DO women have to speak to other women differently than men without offending anyone?
Even just for the sake of efficiency alone, it is easier to say: "Hand me that scalpel, please", instead of: "Mildred, would you be so kind as to hand me the scalpel, now? I'd really appreciate it."
Trust me, after long hours, I like to remain calm and polite and not snappy, but conserve words.

That's my question to readers: why must women speak to each other (in a work context like mine which I've described) differently, or more delicately, so as not to offend? What is the potential offense that could be incurred?

Jen D said...

I have noticed the same thing at my hospital. I am a few years out of med school, and female/female interactions with a power differential in my workplace are absolutely different than those between opposite genders. Interestingly, I find that even male nurses take orders more graciously than some of the women. Of course, most of our nurses are wonderful, but the ones that make my work life the most difficult are females my age or above.

Lena said...

I don't like women who brag about their beauty, nor do I like men who are saps around beautiful women.

I do not like snippy women in the workplace, and I've met plenty. Nor do I like arrogant men.

Seraphic, I don't know what "Sklep" means and what Fat Choy Fun has to do with Polish people. I'll check the dictionary for Sklep.

Lena said...

One more thing, Blue Steel looks silly. I like Kermit the frog better than Blue Steel.

Seraphic said...

Oh heavens. Why do women have to act around women in a different way than the way men act around women? I will sum this up in a one word hypothesis: MOTHER.

And then there are women who simply feel in competition with younger women because advertising and pop culture has said forever that younger women are fabulous and older women are bags.

But why ask why? It's just a fact. Many, many, MANY women would rather work for a male boss than for a female boss. So if you are a female boss or find yourself in a hierarchy where women are perceived to be, or perceive themselves to be, lower than you on the totem pole, you have to think how best to get along with them. My guess would be to stress that we are all social equals now and even that someone with X more years of work experience than yourself is a source of invaluable information and help.

Seraphic said...

Lena, I'm afraid my postscript wasn't clear enough. It is about some British people who resent Poles. Of course there are also some Poles who resent British people for, ahhhh, rather compelling historical reasons, although it is really better for them to shelve that while they are living in Britain.

MichelleMarie said...

I, for one, think she is awesome. I wish I had her confidence. She is by no means the hottest thing out there - I personally wouldn't even call her pretty. What I think she's saying is that she tries - tries to be feminine, pretty, pleasant, appealing to the opposite sex, and that's what women resent her for.

I know that some women take an inordinate pride in "not trying" and still getting male attention. They are usually the ones who look askance at someone who actually dares to look pretty, or act pleasant. I.e., the old "omg, I was at the gym wearing baggy old sweatpants and sweating like a pig and this guy tried to pick me up" chestnut.

Like you said Seraphic, guys are who they are and have their own motives and turn-ons. Those aren't necessarily supermodel looks, or feminine dresses, or polished perfection. One should be able to be pleasant to the opposite sex, dress femininely if that's you're way of honoring everyone you meet in your day, whether or not it brings attention from the opposite sex.