thegrandnarrative + female-sexuality   6

What It’s Like to Be a Really Beautiful Woman
Self/Reflection is a week of stories on the Cut about how we feel, versus how we look. Here, a woman in her late 50s tells Alexa Tsoulis-Reay how being beautiful affected her life, and how she feels about her looks today.

Around eighth grade people started to tell me I was pretty. I was tall and willowy. I had a great figure and I never weighed more than 120 pounds throughout my 20s. I started modeling in high school and had waist length dark brown hair and brown eyes. When I do the whole makeup, eyelashes, high heels, gown look I am very intimidating.

My looks definitely opened doors for me. I worked in PR and as a news producer, writer, reporter, and talk-show host. I did acting in daytime soaps, TV commercials, and theater. I never interviewed for a job I didn’t get. I had a good degree from a good college, sure, but I think all things being equal I’d get the job above other candidates because of the way I look.

One of the worst things about being beautiful is that other women absolutely despise you. Women have made me cry my whole life. When I try to make friends with a woman, I feel like I’m a guy trying to woo her. Women don’t trust me. They don’t want me around their husbands. I’m often excluded from parties, with no explanation. I imagine their thought process goes something like this: “What does it matter if I hurt her feelings. She has her looks and that’s more than I have. Life has already played favorites …” It’s kind of like being born rich, people don’t believe that you feel the same pain. It’s a bias that people can’t shake.

Throughout my life, competitive, attractive, wealthy, entitled women really hated me. At my first job after college, my female colleagues conspired against me. They planted bottles of half-drunk booze on my desk so that it looked like I was drinking on the job. Two women were obsessed with me. They told my boss lies to get me fired. I talked to some of my superiors about it and they put it to me straight: Look, it’s pure unmitigated jealousy. They really do hate you because of the way you look.

I was once engaged to a man who ended it after his sister-in-law spread gossip about me to his family. They threatened to cut his inheritance if he stayed with me, so he left. That broke my heart. I think her feeling was: I am the princess of this family, that woman must be eliminated. Later, after I married another man, I went through hell with my sister-in-law. She still doesn’t invite me on family vacations, she’s blocked me on Facebook.

That resistance other woman have towards being my friend is definitely one of the pitfalls of being attractive.When I was younger I was so desperate for friends, I’d take anyone.

Men were more loyal friends, but my boyfriends would always say: That’s because they want to get laid. So I’d think: Women dump on me. Men just want to have sex with me. Who am I? My closest friend was a gay man, he wasn’t jealous and he didn’t want to get laid. That might have been my only pure friendship.

I never had any trouble getting guys, but I got bored easily and moved on. I should have taken the good ones more seriously. I can see now that they would have been good husbands, fathers, and providers but I’d just drift away on to the next and stop returning their calls.

So I look back over my life and think, What did my looks do for me? They got me a few jobs, and a lot of boyfriends … but what else? I didn’t get married until I was 35 because I didn’t want the merry-go-round to end. One day I realized well if you want to have a kid, you better do it now. Of course all those great guys I didn’t take seriously when I was in my 20s were gone.

My husband was the last decent man standing. He had a bit of a drinking issue, which he’s overcome. There was a time when things were bad and I considered leaving him but I had no idea how to even go about finding someone new because I never, ever, had to pursue a man. I knew I couldn’t cope with that kind of rejection.

These days, since I have aged, when I don’t wear makeup and I gain a bit of weight (which happens often) I pass as normal. As far as men, and anyone under 40 is concerned, I am invisible. They do not see me. I could walk across the street naked — it’s that bad.

Here’s the really sad part. It doesn’t matter how beautiful you were in your youth; when you age you become invisible. You could still look fabulous but … who cares? Nobody is looking. Even my young-adult sons ignore me. The irony is that now that I am older I am a much better person. I went through some suffering in my 40s — raised two kids, dealt with an alcoholic husband, watched my parents get sick and pass away — and I really grew. But as far as the world is concerned? I’ve lost all my value.
beauty  mating-strategies  female-sexuality  female-mating-strategies  slut-shaming 
11 weeks ago by thegrandnarrative
Love, lust, a midlife crisis: Naomi Watts TV drama lays bare female desire | Television & radio | The Guardian
Keen to explore the idea of a female midlife crisis, Rubin also wanted to examine why society in general, and television in particular, tries to pretend that the sexual wants and needs of older women don’t exist.

“I thought it would be interesting to have a woman in her mid-forties being portrayed as desirable and desired, because the world is full of these women and yet we so rarely see them on television.”

She was determined not to rush the story, preferring instead to take the risk that the audience would wait as she patiently built up her world. “I really wanted the relationship between Jean and Sidney [the twentysomething barista Jean finds herself drawn to] to unfold slowly,” she explains. “I didn’t want us to just jump straight in with a sex scene. There is something romantic about longing [and] something sexy about the tease, about thinking about what might happen rather than seeing it straight away.”

...Netflix was very supportive, but not everything went her way. “My plan was to have only female directors because all the scenes are from a female perspective and it’s female desire that we’re examining, but we ended up with three women and two men,” Rubin says. “I still think it works – I was very conscious that I didn’t want the female characters to be objectified, for this to become another show told from the male gaze.

...“I really wanted to speak honestly about female desire, how it feels like and what it can means. It might be polarising and it may make some uncomfortable, but I’m fine with that because people are more than just good or just villains. They can be, and often are, both.”

Rubin, who grew up in Long Island in a resolutely unstarry family – “my mother is a social worker and my father works in textiles” – acknowledges that Netflix took a huge chance in first commissioning her pilot script to series and giving her a level of control that is rarely handed out to a newcomer.

“I think a lot of people were confused when they met me,” she admits. “Having read the script, I think they were expecting to meet a 45-year-old or someone who had been a therapist, and then I’d turn up.” She laughs. “So then they’d think again and go, ‘Oh, you’re not Jean, you’re Sidney.’

“The truth is I relate to all of the characters, and I’d argue that Jean and Sidney are similar in some ways – they’re just at different points in their lives.”

Gypsy starts on Netflix on 30 June.
female-sexuality  female-desire  gypsy 
june 2017 by thegrandnarrative
Eye tracking study finds women rate men with a lower waist-to-chest ratio as more attractive
In the study, 90 women of Mexican American descent (aged 18–38) viewed color photographs of a young Caucasian man in his early 20s while researchers tracked their gaze using an eye tracking device. The researchers found that women directed most of their visual attention toward the upper part of the man’s body. Women first directed their gaze towards the chest followed by the head, midriff, and lower portions of the body.

Women were more likely to rate the man as attractive when he had a lower waist-to-chest ratio. In other words, men with larger, more muscular upper bodies were rated as more attractive. Whether the man had facial or chest hair did not appear to influence his attractiveness on average.

PsyPost interviewed the study’s corresponding author, Ray Garza of Texas A&M University. Read his responses below:

PsyPost: Why were you interested in this topic?

Garza: I was interested in the topic because of my general interest in evolutionary reasons in predicting attraction. With that said, we noticed that there was limited information on men’s attraction by women during different stages of the menstrual cycle. Recent research (e.g., Dixson) who I cite repeatedly, has begun using eye tracking as a means to assess visual interest, and we have done the same. To our knowledge, our particular use of the eye tracker with cyclic changes is one of the first studies to investigate this phenomenon.
female-sexuality  sexual-attraction  men's-body-shape  body-shape  chests 
march 2017 by thegrandnarrative
Hunkier than thou
In a paper published earlier this year Dr DeBruine found that women in countries with poor health statistics preferred men with masculine features more than those who lived in healthier societies. Where disease is rife, this seemed to imply, giving birth to healthy offspring trumps having a man stick around long enough to help care for it. In more salubrious climes, therefore, wimps are in with a chance.

Now, though, researchers led by Robert Brooks, of the University of New South Wales, have taken another look at Dr DeBruine's data and arrived at a different conclusion. They present their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. Dr Brooks suggests that it is not health-related factors, but rather competition and violence among men that best explain a woman's penchant for manliness. The more rough-and-tumble the environment, the researcher's argument goes, the more women prefer masculine men, because they are better than the softer types at providing for mothers and their offspring.
sexual-attraction  female-sexuality 
march 2017 by thegrandnarrative
Women and desire: the six ages of sex
Six women across six decades talk about how their sex lives and sensuality have changed, and what they’ve learned about the politics of pleasure

by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, Emily Witt, Clover Stroud, Mariella Frostrup, Penny Arcade, Marie de Hennezel
female-sexuality  sexual-desire 
february 2017 by thegrandnarrative

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