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Some Thoughts On Being Amazing

There's a graphic floating around on the Internet right now that's kind of bugging me.

It's a pretty enough image, don't get me wrong. It shows a beautiful woman standing in the falling snow, with words over it. The words are all spelled correctly, there's no extraneous "Warning, the letter S is approaching!" apostrophe where there shouldn't be one (the prevalence of which in common use is itself an ongoing source of annoyance to your humble scribe), and it uses a lovely script font. I'm not going to bother to re-post it here, but overall it's not a badly done bit of Photoshop.

What bugs me is what the words say. They, read, in that lovely script font:

If She's Amazing, She's Not Easy.
If She's Easy, She's Not Amazing.

And it pisses me right the fuck off.

Now, I don't know if they mean "easy" as in "sexually promiscuous" or "easy" as in "easy to get close to." It doesn't really matter; both readings are pretty odious.

On the surface, I can kinda see what the artist intended, sorta, maybe. He or she was probably driving at a point that, in all fairness, is reasonable; if you think a person is amazing, you should be willing to invest in her (or him), and not necessarily to expect that a relationship will come easily or without effort. To some extent, it's a fair point; things worth having are worth working for.

But regardless of whether or not the unknown artist intended to make that point, I don't think it's the point that is actually being made.

If She's Amazing, She's Not Easy.
If She's Easy, She's Not Amazing.

Taken on its most superficial level--that is, with "easy" meaning "sexually promiscuous"--it's simply old-fashioned, sex-negative slut-shaming of the most boring and tedious sort. I've met some folks who are sexually "easy," at least for the right partners, who are pretty bloody amazing, thank you very much--smart, educated, driven, successful, literate, happy, fulfilled, insightful, incisive, and on at least one occasion even quite skilled at spinning fire. To suggest that a woman's amazingness varies directly with how tightly she keeps her legs closed is misogynistic, sure, but it's such a banal, humdrum sort of misogyny it's scarcely even worth talking about. Either the essential stupidity of such an attitude is glaringly self-obvious to someone, or it's entirely inaccessible to him. Either way, it's so lacking in subtlety or depth that it's not even interesting.

And it doesn't even exaggerate misogyny to the point that it becomes social commentary, making misogyny a target of sarcastic ridicule the way this graphic does1.

But I am willing to give the person who created it the benefit of the doubt, and assume that such a blatant reading of sex-negative claptrap isn't what was intended.

I think, though I could be wrong, that rather than trying to be patriarchal and sexist, the person who created the image was trying to say "An amazing woman won't be easy to get close to, so one should be prepared to put in the work; a woman who is easy to get close to isn't going to be nearly as amazing."

And even that reading is pretty fucked up, if you ask me.

If She's Amazing, She's Not Easy.
If She's Easy, She's Not Amazing.

The first thing I thought when i read this was, "easy to who?" A person who is amazing might very well be easy to get to know and to become close to, if she finds you to be amazing as well. On the surface, there seems to be a very deeply buried, tacit subtext of "I'm not terribly amazing myself, so it sure would be hard for me to get the attention of someone who is."

And hell, sometimes being a person who takes risks, who engages the world, who is open and transparent, who is willing to run the risk of living a life unencumbered by a fortress of walls and defenses, is part of what makes a person amazing. Even my pet kitten, who lives in a world that is filled with joy and for whom every new person is a friend, knows that.

The flip side, the idea that a person who is easy to get close to won't be amazing, is not only absurd, it's a slap in the face to those who are amazing and who choose to live their lives openly and without fear. Writing off a person as not being sufficiently "amazing" merely because that person is easy to engage seems to me to be profoundly short-sighted.

There's a deeper, more sinister kind of yuck buried in the sentiment as well.

If She's Amazing, She's Not Easy.
If She's Easy, She's Not Amazing.

Tucked neatly beneath the surface of this sentiment is an underlying assumption: that it is her job, as an amazing woman, not to be easy, and it is your job, and the person who is attracted to amazing women, to work to pierce that wall.

Yep, it's the same thing we see in Chanel ads and swing clubs and women's magazines at the grocery checkout: women are the gatekeepers, men are the pursuers. She is amazing, and her role is to make pursuit of her hard; you are the schleb who wants her, and it is your role to pursue her until you wear down her resistance. Don't settle for second-best! Don't take the woman who's easy to catch! She won't be as amazing as the woman who is.

And that kind of gender-stereotypical rolecasting is, if anything, even more corrosive than the simpler, more boring kind of misogyny in the first reading. The fact that the elegantly-dressed woman in the photo, standing out in the snow in her expensive cocktail dress, was conventionally pretty in the bland sort of Vogue-esque kind of way, sort of underscores that point a bit.

At least I think so, anyway. But then, I seem to have a statistically disproportionate number of amazing people around me, so perhaps I'm just jaded.

1 At least, I assume the Cinderella image is intended to mock misogyny. It certainly feels like social-commentary-through-comedic-exaggeration to me.


( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Well deconstructed!
Yes, there is: because the alternative is being labelled as 'easy', and therefore less valuable.
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:23 am (UTC)
I haven't seen the graphic you've seen. I only found this, over and over again:

If she's amazing, she won't be easy.
If she's easy, she wont be amazing.
If she's worth it, you won't give up.
If you give up, you're not worthy.

I can't find the origin, but it's repeated on the "thinspiration" pages of teen girls.

What if we changed the gender? Apparently some people have, and also twisted the conclusion:

If he's amazing, he won't be easy. If he's easy, he still might be amazing. If you give up, you're either ugly or a stupid bitch.

Well then.
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
I view 'easy' as a blend of attainable and familiar. At it's best it is physiological sort of response that 'familiarity breeds contempt' so that you are less inclined to want to date within your small tribal sub-unit and therefore date any of your siblings or near siblings. You cannot see how good you have it with those who already love and support you - or view them as attractive options for relationships. Taken to it's greater extreme this is an undercut of social networks where anyone who is familiar and attainable and available is part of a known and dismissed quantity. It removes you from your support structure, your ability to bounce off those you love and trust and forces you to balance all your decision making power on your amygdala response.
Feb. 8th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
I'm Easy AND Amazing
User joreth referenced to your post from I'm Easy AND Amazing saying: [...] Easy; If She's Easy, She Isn't Amazing.' What rubbish. http://tacit.livejournal.com/347489.html [...]
Feb. 8th, 2011 03:35 am (UTC)
It reminds me, tangentially, of the time I once complained to you that I was accused of being "high maintenance". You replied "You're not high maintenance! It's easy not to piss you off - don't be an asshole!"

I had a similar conversation with zensidhe. I have also been accused of being "easy" (i.e. sexually promiscuous) by coworkers (usually female), but when charged to name even a single sexual partner of mine, they cannot. Although why it's important continues to escape me.

I've had some men chasing after me for more than 2 decades, and I've had some men in my bed after knowing them a few days. I am both easy and amazing ... if my partner is too. If he is not, then I am very hard and unyielding, which isn't usually considered "amazing" in the positive sense.

As far as I'm concerned, if I have to work *that* hard at getting to know someone, either there's nothing worth knowing, or he's trying to hide it for a reason.

My ex once tried to date a girl he found attractive. She was very ambiguous about whether she liked him and gave him a lot of mixed signals. Eventually, he came right out and asked her if she was interested in him or not. She said "well, it's all about the chase, isn't it?" still not answering the question.

He said "if I have to chase someone, it means she's running away from me. What part of that am I supposed to find attractive?"

He had his faults, but that was a pretty good line, IMO.
Feb. 8th, 2011 03:37 am (UTC)
Oh, and the last time I checked, every guy I knew who had to coax sex out of a woman grew tired of the coaxing eventually & took a blow to the self-esteem. But the women who were enthusiastic and adventurous in bed remained among their most interesting and highly prized sex partners.
(no subject) - red_girl_42 - Feb. 8th, 2011 04:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jonnymoon - Feb. 8th, 2011 09:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - omimouse - Feb. 8th, 2011 09:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - red_girl_42 - Feb. 8th, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jonnymoon - Feb. 9th, 2011 01:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seinneann_ceoil - Feb. 13th, 2011 08:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jonnymoon - Feb. 13th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seinneann_ceoil - Feb. 13th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jonnymoon - Feb. 14th, 2011 04:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seinneann_ceoil - Feb. 14th, 2011 06:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jonnymoon - Feb. 14th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - joreth - Feb. 12th, 2011 01:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Obviously, you're no prize. - jonnymoon - Feb. 12th, 2011 06:05 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Obviously, you're no prize. - seinneann_ceoil - Feb. 13th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Obviously, you're no prize. - jonnymoon - Feb. 14th, 2011 06:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Obviously, you're no prize. - jonnymoon - Feb. 14th, 2011 06:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Obviously, you're no prize. - jonnymoon - Feb. 14th, 2011 06:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Obviously, you're no prize. - jonnymoon - Feb. 14th, 2011 06:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Obviously, you're no prize. - seinneann_ceoil - Feb. 13th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Obviously, you're no prize. - jonnymoon - Feb. 14th, 2011 06:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Obviously, you're no prize. - jonnymoon - Feb. 14th, 2011 06:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - slinka - Feb. 8th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - petite_lambda - Feb. 8th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 8th, 2011 05:18 am (UTC)
awesome you!
It's so true that you can be easily had *and* an amazing & astounding person! *hugsyou*
I like how you think franklin- keep bewing you kay? ;)
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 8th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
Exactly what I wanted to say. It is a very old psychological principle, which ruthlessly works in virtually all domains of our life. That which is harder to get, we percieve as being better. Remember the experiment with wine tasters whose brains released more dopamine when they tasted the more expensive wine, causing them to rate it higher (even though it was the exact same wine)? That's one example. Setting higher price to bait consumers is another. Unfortunately, as a manipulation, it just works. That's how our brains work: if you make someone work for something, they value it more. (Obviously, when they are familiar with the manipulation, it backfires...)
(no subject) - soul_in_flames - Feb. 17th, 2011 03:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 8th, 2011 06:37 am (UTC)
thank you Franklin

from a girl who's easy AND amazing

Feb. 8th, 2011 06:38 am (UTC)
whoops sorry for the anonymous post
that was from me

Feb. 8th, 2011 12:29 pm (UTC)
I've got a statistically disproportionate number of amazing people around me, too. It really rocks - I think that being amazing and being surrounded by awesomeness is self-perpetuating.

Yes: it's essentially another case of men as subject, women as object. And in this instance, being all about chasing, it underlines (to me) the way in which men, to start or stake a claim in a relationship, must simply be *interested.* The women must be interesting. And the men seem to think they only need to express interest, and tell the woman she's interesting repeatedly, to be liked. (As a woman who sometimes dates men, I've been repeatedly frustrated by the trend of people telling me I'm awesome but giving nothing of themselves: I summarise it as 'I know I'm awesome - what are you?!')

(I, er, wrote a bit about some of that here, if you're interested.

The 'is there, we wonder, some virtue in being difficult?' reminds me that I keep meaning to write about what I call 'the stupid dance.' You know that thing - in an argument, or when upset, most frequently with a loved one, one person acts so upset and angry that they walk away, *just so that the other will do the dance where they show they care enough to go after them, to chase them.* It reminds both parties, but especially the person being walked away from, that the relationship is important, that it might end, and stimulates a great big dollop of 'oh no, I might lose my partner, must make everything okay and forgive immediately.' Or, at a baser level, works to express a strong emotion. It's like a sort of... test.

The stupid dance. Almost everyone does it - I've seen it all over the place, but no-one really seems to talk about it.

Feb. 12th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
God I hate that dance! I repeatedly have to remind partners that, if I walk away from an argument, it's not because I want them to chase after me, it's because I need a break before I say something we'll both regret, and it is in their best interest to let me go.
(no subject) - soul_in_flames - Feb. 17th, 2011 03:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 8th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)
A more charitable reading might be "high maintenance is probably worth it", from a guy overgeneralizing his own tastes.

I really think it's the first reading, though, because people are mostly dumb like that.
Feb. 8th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
But also a more poisonous effect for the object in question that she's allowed to be high-maintenance because she can gauge her worth to those her pursue her by their willingness of those to do so. She can expect others to be mind readers, does not have to take responsibility for her emotions or needs and managing them and is not only objectified, but infantilized.
(no subject) - pstscrpt - Feb. 8th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 8th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
If It's An Overgeneralization*, It's Probably Not Meaningful.
If It's Meaningful, It's Probably Not An Overgeneralization.

*including this overgeneralization
Feb. 8th, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
( 42 comments — Leave a comment )