From the Mailbag: “Why Are Women Labeled ‘Insecure’?”

53019ff06f7d6.imageIt’s been a while since I posted one of these:

I’m responding to a post a woman wrote about her boyfriend looking at other naked women on calendars, the Internet, TV, etc. I don’t understand why you, like the majority of society, label a woman as “insecure” when she doesn’t like women being objectified, which is a normal feeling. It isn’t normal that women should just have to suck it up when guys look at naked women. It’s a double standard! Why not call it what it is and stop making women feel like there is something wrong with them if they don’t like their men looking at other naked women? Instead, let’s demand more equality of the sexes and have more naked men in movies. Too bad if men feel insecure with it, they should suck it up like we women are expected to! This double standard of “boys will be boys” needs to be put in the past. What’s OK for men should be OK for women, even if the men don’t like it. — Not Insecure

Oh my God, I totally agree — MORE NAKED MEN in movies FTW! We women demand it! Enough of this “boys will be boys” crap. That is SO 1990s. At the latest, really. I mean, it’s more like 1950s! Or, 1960s, I guess, because I watched “Mad Men.” And, HELLO! Jon Hamm. I mean, he really should have gotten naked — like, full frontal at some point — in that show, amiright, ladies?? And if that makes other men insecure, well, tough. They need to suck it up! What’s OK for them (naked ladies), should be OK for us (naked Jon Hamm!)! Take your pants off, Hamm. We women DEMAND IT! Equality of the sexes, RAH RAH RAH — pants off NOW!


  1. RedRoverRedRover says:

    Actually I agree with the OP. Women *are* expected to accept a lot more of that type of behaviour than men are, and “insecure” is a word almost wholly reserved for women. I don’t care to see more naked men in movies, but I would enjoy seeing a lot fewer naked women in them. Or even just a decrease in women being constantly sexualized.
    It’s actually becoming worse, here are a couple studies showing that women are being increasingly sexualized in the media, and at younger ages, and some discussion of the kinds of effects that has on society:

  2. wobster109 says:

    I actually agree with LW. I don’t think more naked men is the solution, but women are told not to compare their partners to others. For example we’re not supposed to mention the physique or strength or penis size of other men. Well, maybe it’s not cool to compare your girlfriend’s boobs to those of other women either. But other women’s bodies are on display everywhere. Like it or not, women are getting compared to swimsuit models all the time.

    1. If your partner compares your boobs to other women’s, then your partner is a jerk and that’s not the media’s fault.

      1. I agree, but I think wobster’s point is that society is so inundated with sexualized images of women that it’s a subconscious comparison to media-driven beauty standards.

  3. I don’t think one thing has to do with the other.
    Why are women labeled insecure because their men are looking at other women?
    Well, because most of the time they are being insecure. Do you think that some women don’t want their men looking at other women just because they’re being objectified? That is not the reason. Most women complain about their men looking at other women because these guys may be picturing themselves with them, or this guys might be thinking that these women are better looking than their partners and so and so. So, they’re being insecure. This was the case, even in the post the LW mentioned.
    “It’s so painful because those people in movies and on the calendars are perfect and I can’t even come close to looking like that. When I asked my boyfriend if he thought they were better looking than me, he said yes and ever since then, I think about it.”

    She doesn’t want her bf looking at other women because she thinks they’re being objectified. She does so because she thinks that she is less than these women. Soo, she is being insecure.

    I think it’s one thing to complain about it because of your insecurity and your self esteem, and another to complain because your boyfriend or girlfriend objectifies women or men.

  4. I read the original letter and agree with Wendy that the writer of that letter was indeed, very insecure. However, I also agree with the writer of this letter in that women are objectified far more than men are and we are labeled as “insecure” if we complain too much about it.

    I don’t want to see more naked men. I would rather that respect and dignity become more valued in our society.

  5. Point One: Women participate in and perpetuate the beauty myth with a HUGE economic vote. The money women spend on clothing and beauty items absolutely dwarfs what men spend. Almost all women objectify themselves constantly because that is the standard in our society. We’re all a part of this, so let’s not be disingenuous. Point Two: There is a certain amount of biological inevitability in the “boys will be boys” position. It doesn’t mean we should feel entitled to behave like dickheads or make anyone, especially the women we are with, feel inadequate or unattractive. But if I’m honest, I’m wired to see all women as potential mating partners. Society has taught me to hide and otherwise be polite about something that never really switches off. If you think that this can actually change, think again. I love my wife, am faithful to her and don’t make her feel inferior to twiggy starlets. But it is what it is. Point Three: If youse all think more naked men would make the world more equal, i’m all for it. But hmm… Point Four: I’ll always associate Jon Hamm and nudity with the hilarious scenes in Bridesmaids, where he has highly uncomfortable and impersonal sex with Kristen Wiig. I am pretty sure Jon would be fine with being naked more. Perhaps Wendy could write him on this subject. Point Five: That red thing on my back? That’s a target i painted on myself by commenting on this post at all. Fire away.

    1. Okay, this “biology” point drives me batshit crazy. Guys LOVE to use that as an excuse – “honey, its my biological imperative to be on the lookout for another mate, its not my fault.” If that were seriously the case, then women would be dumping their husbands/boyfriends/partners the second someone who would ostensibly be a better provider came along. It’s a woman’s biological imperative to find the best possible protector/provider for herself and her offspring, it isn’t her fault!
      I know this isn’t exactly what you meant, and i don’t mean to come down on you, but i’ve been hearing variations of this ridiculous justification for years and it drives. me. crazy.

      1. This. Did the thumbs go away?

      2. I’m not using this as an excuse because I am not excusing anything. i say above that i am not using this to justify bad behaviour. I am not justifying anything. I am saying that in all honesty I am wired to be attracted to basically all women. I still behave very well, and i make sure my wife knows she is the only one I WOULD get with, and i have not been with anyone else since the damn 80s. I am not impelled to mate with every women I see, but parts of the response are not as voluntary as you imply. Likewise, women are not biologically impelled to dump their men the second a better mating prospect comes along. But it does happen. I agree that the dialogue skews to excusing bad behaviour by men. But that is not my point.

      3. Diablo, I apologize if this came across as a personal attack – I can see how it might be read that way, and certainly didn’t intend it to be! I mostly meant to point out that I hear men use this as a justification for cheating/wandering eyes/whatever so frequently that it is definitely gets a response from me. I also feel like this is a justification that comes up when men (“men” being a generalization, of course) try to explain how its “different” for them and their behavior then it is for women. It’s a loaded stance to take, that is for sure.

      4. No worries. I think, for probably the same reasons as you, that it is important to separate the biology from the behaviour. It is equally degrading to men that anyone, man or woman, makes the assumption that because of the real biology involved, men can’t control their behaviour. It leads to thinking like “if she dresses sexy, she askin’ for it,” which is obvs BS. A-holes and rapists don’t WANT to control their behaviour. Anyone who CAN’T should be under treatment of some kind. The rest of us guys need to act like grown-ups. And to be fair, most of us do. Trouble is, you only notice the a-holes, and there are quite a few of every gender.

    2. —> Women participate in and perpetuate the beauty myth with a HUGE economic vote. The money women spend on clothing and beauty items absolutely dwarfs what men spend. Almost all women objectify themselves constantly because that is the standard in our society. <—

      I don't get if you mean that (1) women are propagating the cycle, so they need to take ownership of the objectification, or (2) that women are forced to propagate the cycle if they want to fit in with society?

      1. I actually think women are each others own worse enemy, at least here in the U.S. I know far more women that judge other women than men. Yes, men look at scantily clad women. And some men are pigs and prefer the “porn star” look, but I have yet to friend one, and I work in a male dominated industry and have lots of male friends.
        I think this situation is far more complex than men objectifying women or calling someone insecure.

      2. This is about what I was going to say. It is hugely complex. we are ALL fed this stuff from birth. Both women and men perpetuate the cycle. Women ARE somewhat forced to participate if they want to fit in, and to feel desirable by the standards of the day. Not only that but men are strongly pressured to venerate certain kinds of “beauty” (like the porn star look you mention, like busty blondes, etc). When I say to people that I find all women have their own beauty, I am routinely looked at in a couple of ways. One, I am spouting happy hippy bullshit that even I don’t really believe. Not true. Two, I am talking about some vague concept of inner beauty, but there are still societal standards and hence, not applicable, hippy bullshit. Three, that I am just lying because I can’t really compete in this area, because i too am not beautiful (which I ain’t). In short, the prejudices here are so pervasive that I can’t even espouse a contrary idea of beauty without looking ridiculous. we’re all involved and we can all play a role in changing things. But just like racism and sexism, beautyism runs deep and will not change overnight.

      3. Agree. I sure as hell don’t get my eyebrows threaded to attract a man. Although I buy a lot of makeup, I usually only wear it when I’m meeting up with my female friends.

      4. Yeah this is pretty true. I put on a skirt today then took it off because my legs were too hairy. Of course I sleep in shorty-shorts and my husband already knows I have hairy legs– it’s the girls at the office that I don’t want to see!

    3. I don’t want to fire at you at all – I think you’re making some valid points. There is a difference, though, in my opinion, between biologically engrained and culturally engrained behavior.
      As a matter of fact I don’t mind female nudity at all, and I get real pleasure from looking at naked women – as a straight woman. What I AM getting rather tired of though, is series, books, films etc, portraying women as the perpetual sidekicks / neurotic mothers / prudish girlfriends / voluptuous ‘cool girls’ / strong but vulnerable emo girls…etc etc.
      There *definitely* seems to be a limited number of slots for women to fit into in media outlets (fictional or otherwise) and a lot of those *definitely* have to do with how women are being perceived by men. AND a lot of those slots have to do with physical perfection and stereotypes. So while I agree with you that the purely visual stimulus of a naked body might be different for men and women – which I doubt btw, considering my own filthy mind – that doesn’t mean there isn’t a completely skewered standard for how ‘we’, through media, see men as opposed to how we see women. And it’s absolutely maddening.
      For ONCE it would be so cool to see women just portraying…you know, women. Like men can portray any number of characters that happen to be male. A woman, who happens to be chubby, portraying something other than *the ugly duckling* or *true beauty is on the inside*.
      Sincerely, a secure woman;)

      1. Ok. Very much this.

      2. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

        A woman, who happens to be chubby, portraying something other than *the ugly duckling* or *true beauty is on the inside*.
        or her media cousin, the funny fat girl!
        And while we are at it, can we get rid of the drama queen gay guy, the angry Black woman, the Black thug and his cousin the street corner drug dealer, the fetishsized Asian woman, and the overly needy, whiny soccer mom who can’t find out that her husband is really an undercover sleazebag?
        These character ‘types’ have been making the rounds since at least the 70’s. You’d think that Hollywood would at least try to come up with some new character types. *smh*
        As an aside, I think the silent but must-remain-single-so-no one-gets-hurt-because-of-him hero is starting to get a little old too.

  6. anonymousse says:

    I definitely agree that the original LW is insecure.
    Women are sexualized because we have existed in a patriarchal society forever. Women were bought and sold in marriage not too long ago, and still are in other parts of the world. Instead of attacking advertising and tv and magazines, (other than, not buying it!) maybe use your energy on issues that actually change women’s lives for the better in other parts of the world. Women’s bodies are physically more attractive to the eye, even for women, (sorry, dudes!) if you go to any art museum, a woman’s naked body is the epitome of beauty. The standard has changed over the years, that’s for sure. And Diablo is right, we all buy into it. We cast our vote everyday with our wallet. You buy Cosmo, cover girl and push up bras. You are participating. A woman is a “hot mess” if she doesn’t jump out of bed and apply her mask of makeup and spend an hour on her hair. And we are our own worst enemies. We judge eachother and label.
    But the whole nudity thing…bodies are bodies. Why is nudity so taboo in our society? It’s really not a big deal. Everyone has a body. Every body has imperfections and gravity comes for is all!

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      If I have to choose between seeing an attractive man naked, or an attractive woman naked, I’ll take the man. Do most women really prefer to see women naked? I’ve never heard of that.
      Also about the “buying into it” thing, I mean, it’s hard not to. I wear makeup to work because it’s expected by society as part of a “professional” look for women. Same with shaving my legs, same with wearing heels. I work from home and if I’m not meeting with customers, I don’t do any of that shit. I don’t even get my hair cut more than once a year. But when I have client meetings, I’m representing my company, and I’m expected to look the part. That’s just how it is.

      1. anonymousse says:

        I don’t think I said women prefer to see other women naked, just that women’s bodies are seen as more attractive, even to women. If you need some of the other comments, straight women are saying this. It kind of blows my mind this concept is new to you. Women (straight) watch more lesbian or female focused porn than straight or gay. Women’s bodies have been fetishsized since the dawn of mankind, I’m sure. What sells women’s magazines? Attractive women. Underwear? Women. I don’t think it’s a lays a sex thing. I have no interest in having sex with women, I prefer my husband. And I love a mans body, but there are numerous, numerous studies showing women and men prefer to look at women.
        I’m not saying to be a feminist you can’t wear makeup or tight clothes, but if you are going to complain about, as you so carefully phrase it, “the way things are,” then do something with your wallet vote, or your free time to change what you despise so much, rather than complain and bitch about other women while you perpetuate what you say you hate.
        Plenty of women don’t wear makeup, or wear minimal makeup, and don’t have jobs that expect them to look any certain way. I’m not bashing any woman, I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy of supposedly hating the culture, but participating in it.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I do only wear minimal makeup, as minimal as I can while still fitting in as a professional. Powder, blush, and mascara, that’s it. I used to be in sales and am now in a strategy role where I deal with a lot of executives on the client side. That does make a difference I think, you’re expected to look a certain way when you’re a woman. If you don’t put some focus on your appearance, it gives the impression you don’t care about your job.
        I disagree that you shouldn’t complain about it if you join in. What I said is true, this is how it is, I don’t see how that was “carefully worded”, nor did i mean it to be. This is life. You can do what everyone else does, or you can be the one to stand out. Not all of us are the type who are comfortable standing out in that way. I don’t wear pushup bras or tons of makeup or colour/style my hair beyond simply drying it, I don’t shave my legs unless I’m wearing a skirt. I do the absolute minimum. But I’m not going to go against the social norms, at work, when it actually can affect the perception of my job performance. We’ve all seen the studies that more attractive people are respected more at work. I’m not going to hamstring myself by refusing to meet the minimum that society expects, just because I disagree with what that minimum is. Me not wearing makeup is not going to change society.
        I still don’t think women’s bodies are more attractive than men’s, I really would prefer to see men’s. The reason women are used in women’s advertising is because it’s aspirational. “If you buy this, here’s how you will look”. Not necessarily because women think women are hotter. And I thought the reason why women liked lesbian porn was because it actually treats the female orgasm as a major part of sex, rather than being focused on the male orgasm like most straight porn is. Anyway, sorry if I offended you.

      3. I am a youngish woman lawyer, and i wear makeup every day to work. One of the main reasons? Male coworkers (one specifically) who ALWAYS make comments to me along the lines of “are you sick?” “man, you look REALLY tired today” when i don’t. Wearing makeup = easiest way to fend off comments on/conversations about my appearance without having to get confrontational.

      4. anonymousse says:

        Hey, you do you, I never meant to make it so personal for you. I wear makeup. I love getting “ready.” I want to be appear attractive to the general populace. I just don’t think if you are heavily participating in the culture, that it’s fair to also be bashing other women or the culture in itself. Women love to attack other women. It’s part of the way “it” is.
        The reason I pulled that phrase out is, I don’t think that’s the way “it” is. That’s not the way “it” is for me.
        That’s the way the magazines would like you to believe it is, but in all my social circles in a few different cities, there is a mixture of all types. I have female friends that don’t wear makeup or bras because they just don’t care about it. And no one cares that they aren’t wearing makeup! Sometimes they get a comment here or there that they look “tired,” but I think that’s about all the societal pressure they’ve faced. I also have friends that will literally not leave the house without their “face” on. It takes all kinds, and I don’t care one way or the other. I oscillate from wearing makeup to not, and just generally wear minimal. I went to “alternative” schools for high school and college, including a bout in a high level academic setting. I probably felt as much pressure in those situations not to wear makeup to fit in as many women do to wear it. Different strokes, right?
        Point being, hypocrites are annoying. Either accept the culture or don’t. Don’t bitch about porn stars and super models and our looks obsessed culture…because it’s obvious that the complainer is the looks obsessed person. I personally don’t care, I’m secure in my own skin. There are people more attractive than me, and less attractive than me, and to judge everyone else around me just makes my life sadder and sadder. I refuse to participate in that type of negative, person-hating behavior, because it does nothing good and serves no one. There are ALL types of people in this world, and it would be boring without them.

        That’s great that you only want to see naked men, more power to you. I think if you do some actual digging you will find my concepts not so far out-there. Yes, I studied art history, where the philosophical theory of the ultimate beauty is often illustrated by the naked woman’s body. Patriarchy. It’s what we’ve (as humans) have grown up and participated in. Not saying it’s good or bad.
        I truly didn’t mean to offend you, and nothing I said was meant to.

      5. I’m a completely straight female and I check out other women all the time. Further, I have zero cleavage and I’m fascinated by it, so even I look at other women’s chest area. In fact, I probably dress for other women more than I dress for men. Like, I’d rather have another woman think I look put together than a man think I’m some super hot fantasy girl.
        Anyway, I do think women objectify women just as much as men do. I also think women objectify men. And vice versa.
        I aslo believe that a woman who has a major problem, to the point of forbidding something, with her sig other checking someone out is insecure. But I would 100% say the same thing about a man. I guess I just have a problem in general with people telling others who they can and can’t be friends with, who they can and can’t get off to via images or masterbation, who they can and can’t look at or admire in passing. This goes for both sexes though. I’m equal opportunity.

    2. I don’t know about anyone else, but I spent a long amount of time starting at Michaelangelo’s David when I went to Italy. He’s a great artist, but damn… This was also in front of Bassanio, I hope he wasn’t too offended or insecure.

    3. I’ve never understood that “women are the more beautiful gender” thing. And I say this as a woman who feels attraction to women. IMO, men’s bodies are just as beautiful and find it kind of weird that this isn’t generally thought to be the case. I fully believe it’s the result of sexist society and not ‘natural’ in the least.

    4. Avatar photo kmentothat says:

      “Women’s bodies are physically more attractive to the eye, even for women, (sorry, dudes)” –speak for yourself? I fin d men’s bodies more attractive, period. For the self identified straight women that disagree, I think there a few factors.
      1. Women are widely considered to be more sexually fluid than men and in many studies respond with arousal to any kind of sexy times, be they man/woman, woman/woman, man/man, woman/woman/man, etc. We just like naked in general, and are on a societal level much more allowed to admit we find a woman attractive without it making us question our self-identified sexuality or have people judge us harshly, whereas straight identifying men would be. Not too many men out there doing Man Crush Monday, you know?
      2. I think this is a symptom of misogyny more than anything else. Like, we have female sexuality shoved down our throats before we are even verbal so we are told what is attractive. So the default becomes what we are told, not what we really believe deep down. There is such negativity to male sensuality (ewwww body hair!) in general people find it weird that I as a straight woman lust after masculinity.
      3. Cool Girl TM. Oh yeah, I totes want to see strippers babe!

  7. Maybe men from behind would be nice, but full frontal men? I have no desire to see that and I’m straight. I think it’s time to face facts and say that a naked woman is more appealing than a naked man. In my opinion, anyway.

    1. Avatar photo kmentothat says:

      Fact and opinion, definitely not the same thing 🙂

  8. Yeah, original LW was really insecure and this one isn’t far behind. I’m sure there could be a million naked dudes helicoptering on screen but woe betide her guy look at the jugs in the corner. Honestly neither partner should be on the other’s case about any of this. We don’t own our partner’s sexuality, we are lucky enough that they want to share it with us and in most cases only us physically. That’s a huge commitment and trying to monitor every boner they might have really cheapens what they are already giving us.

  9. bittergaymark says:

    Honestly? I have never heard a guy in real life be upset about male nudity. But women carry on so all the fucking time. If you hate your body? Fix it!

    PS — Yes. John Hamm should ONLY work naked.

    1. You haven’t dated the insecure pricks I’ve dated. People are too uptight. All nude all the time, Game of Thrones style, is the way to go.

  10. If men complained about their partners in this way I believe they would be equally labeled as insecure. And there may be just as many of them feeling the same way (jealous of their partners noticing other men) but I feel they are definitely less likely to express those feelings. Maybe you could even say they are insecure about those feelings?

  11. Well I personally think it’s a double standard if I bitch at a guy I’m sleeping with for looking at women in the media since I masturbate only to lesbian porn…

    Uh so, please not less naked women.

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