I am an object.
At least, this is how I feel when I’m ranked and pitted against my fellow females. In high school, men are boys. They’re immature, this much I understand; After all, it’s only been told to me about a hundred times. Even amongst my friends, who for the most part are girls, there’s a constant chant ringing throughout the unabashed silence.
“Boys will be boys will be boys will be boys…”
And so it goes, on and on. Until the real issue isn’t addressed. Because every girl has heard it, as much as we may say we’re unaffected by the so-called “meninists”. The boys, to our right, whispering through smirking grins as they look over at a cluster of girls getting ready to go home. Through our gritted teeth, we’ll all watch them point and raise their eyebrows. Though they try to make it subtle, the rankings are very obvious.
But it’s justified, because that’s just the way that men think. At least, that’s how it is according to one of my best friends. Who, I must mention, is a boy himself. I remember as he shrugged, somewhat ashamed. I know he understood that the way his own friends sexually objectified women was at the bare minimum, disgusting. We both knew that it was wrong, that they were in no position to be speaking of girls in this way. But there was nothing we could do to stop it. There’s still not a single thing I can do to prevent my peers, friends, and classmates from seeing their female counterparts as more than just a fine piece of ass. Knowing this, that I am helpless against the hurtful words of men as they pit me against my best friend, angers me. Of course it does. It would to anyone. But even more so to me, who is a seventeen-year-old girl in her final year of high school. Hell, people my age are supposed to be growing into their bodies, gaining some glimmering sense of self-confidence. We’re supposed to be past the point of social insecurities; For if we weren’t, how would we make it through another four or more years of university? So yes, it angers me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a crazy man-hater, or some chick who thinks the female race would be better off if men were entirely eradicated from the Earth. I just think it’s rather humorous that the same guys who will speak in front of my social class about the inadequacies of gender equality, will be the same people who roam their eyes over the chests of a girl with her sweater slightly unzipped. And yes, despite how it may appear, I am friends with guys. Not many, albeit, but still a few. I can understand where they’re coming from. It’s not as if my girlfriends and I won’t point out a cute boy when we see one. Because we will. However, we will not go so far as to pull out a numerical scale from the back recesses of our minds, and place those boys on the scale from 1-10. In my personal opinion, it is impossible to attribute such a finite, determining number to the face of a person. There’s simply no way to do so. One boy will have a long face, a small nose, and big eyes. The other may have a round face, a longer nose, and big lips. Which is better than the other? Can apples be compared to oranges, in any other way than to claim they are both fruit?
So this is why I was saddened when my best friend told me that in the middle of the night on our final Band Tour to Banff, he and his friends stayed up until the crack of dawn whispering incessantly about where various girls fell on the same numerical scale. He and I have been friends for three years, and I tell him everything. He knows about my family life, my friends, my feelings. To think, somewhere in the doubtful corner of my mind, that perhaps he may have aided in the placement of myself on that scale, after knowing all this, shocked me. So he understood when I blatantly stated “That’s disgusting.”
This friend, in specific, went into the gritty details. Of course, as we are both in high school and men are reaching the peak of their immaturity, they teased him about our relationship. (Because who could ever think a boy and girl can be friends?) According to them, “I am not the hottest girl in band, but I seem cool and fun to hang out with.” Oh, thank God. I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t known what boys thought of my social skills.
When I had finally processed the statement his friends spoke of me, I wasn’t sure whether to be pleased or upset. It occurred to me in that moment, that while I usually thought myself to be confident and self-assured, I had a deep connection to what others thought of me. What those boys thought of me mattered so much, in that moment and somewhat even now. I could only pray it didn’t revert me back to a time where my body image mattered more than my studies, social life, and mental health. But it got worse.
My friend, (though I’ll admit I was guilty of coaxing it out of him), then proceeded to tell me that his group of teenaged pals thought my closest, most important friend (who is a girl) was super hot. He told me that they would ask him “Why, if you’re so close with Gabby, haven’t you asked for her number?” At this moment, my faith in my best friend was restored. He hadn’t asked for her number in the three years we’d been together, and I knew he wouldn’t treat me like the enfranchised “DUFF”. Truly, at this moment I realized he was a really good guy.
It still hurt, though. To believe that everyone else thought of me as the Designated Ugly Fat Friend, to quote the film. While guys like him are not necessarily rare to find, it suddenly seemed as though there was a sea of objectifying men who like to mask themselves as feminists and equal opportunists. I spoke to this very close friend of mine on the phone for a long while after the conversation took place, and she reassured me that men are indeed idiots. She and I were both worried that the comment would affect our relationship, but it seemed there was nothing to worry about.
Men can not so easily break down the strong bond she and I have, or the confidence I have worked so hard to cultivated over the past few years. I know for a fact, that even now after being subjected to such harsh sexualizing comments, I will continue to look at myself in the mirror and believe that I am just as beautiful as I know I am.
Because how can you compare apples to oranges, when both are equally as delicious?