I follow the immensely interesting GalleyCat, so Iâ€™ve been keeping up with the â€œHotties of Publishingâ€ contest. I think itâ€™s cute and harmless, and I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s a damn thing wrong with celebrating attractiveness in a field where braininess is already celebrated every day. (And incidentally, the contest isnâ€™t just about looks; everyone who nominated someone was asked to note why they thought the person was hot, and hotness has to do with far more than just a pretty face.) Iâ€™d read that Claire Light had called the whole thing (and the people participating) â€œdumb,â€ and I just hadnâ€™t bothered to read what sheâ€™d said.
Well, I have now, and I have to say her response pisses me off hugely. She has at least backed down (in the comments) on the â€œdumbâ€ statement, which is a damn good thing, because I, at least–and probably every one of those women on the ballot–am sick to hell of people assuming an inverse correlation between intelligence and attractiveness. I have fought against it my whole professional life; I spent my entire twenties in the most unattractive clothes imaginable simply because I knew I was good at what I did, and I didnâ€™t want anyone assuming I was getting ahead because of my looks and the other less-savory things that implies. (And they will. I still deal with it; I just have the confidence not to give a shit anymore, because frankly, as I noted, I know I’m good at what I do.)
But here Claire comes along and, in the name of feminism, makes the same stereotypical assumptions that I feared from others for so long. Itâ€™s ridiculous. She is judging those women by their looks while saying that itâ€™s wrong to do so.
I sincerely hope weâ€™re coming to a place as a society where we can learn to appreciate all aspects of a person, because I’m sick of the old-fashioned feminism that says I’m not allowed to be myself. I was not at all offended by the folks who attended my 40th birthday party posting how hot I was. I donâ€™t at all mind being called â€œsexy,â€ any more than I mind being called â€œintelligentâ€ or â€œa damn good copyeditorâ€ or â€œa fantastic cookâ€ or â€œin great shape.â€ Theyâ€™re all aspects of my self, and itâ€™s nice to be able to appreciate my entire self without someone claiming Iâ€™m dumb because of it.
I am not one thing and one thing only–and neither are those women and men in the contest. It’s the people who assume otherwise who piss me off.