Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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May 26, 2013

05/26/2013 — Lee Ward: Judgments about women continue

ASHLAND — Some young people are using their heads. A recent television news story told of an online contest at Issaquah High School near Seattle, Wash., called May Madness.

Based on the competitive spirit of college basketball’s March Madness and a similar activity played on early Facebook, May Madness is an online beauty competition at the high school. School officials believe students established the website on which girls in the school go through elimination rounds, each girl being judged on their “hotness” until one girl remains; she will be declared the “hottest” in school. The girls didn’t establish the website; in fact, most had been unaware they were in the competition.

I’m not surprised at this behavior.

When I was a teen, the movie “10” starring Bo Derek was popular and the boys loved to announce which classmates were “2s” and who rated “8s” or “9s.” Even now, practically every day, I hear grown men declaring who they think is hot — or not.

This brings me to the message I’ve been repeating for more than 30 years: Men are constantly judging women on their looks, even though women’s looks have nothing to do with how they do their jobs or what kind of people they are.

This is judgmental and sexist. You don’t see women on websites rating how “hot” men in their town are. Even if women did, the men would like it. Hey, maybe they’d even improve their grooming habits if women did judge them more harshly.

What does it even mean to be “hot?”  Does it mean good looking or does it mean sexy? Those are two different things.

What is the point of asking that question, anyway?

Isn’t attractiveness subjective? If so, the answer could be different every time, depending on the pool of people questioned.

Does anyone bother to ask how the women feel about being judged?

Honestly, most grown women have no idea many of their male friends and co-workers are constantly judging them. Most grown women don’t give a fig what others are thinking of them, either. That’s a good thing, because the only important way we’re judged is based on inner beauty. Anyone who is overly concerned with outer beauty wouldn’t understand.

The girls at Issaquah High School are certainly aware of being judged and they’re not all thrilled about it.

One girl who was interviewed in the news story was pretty upset about being judged on superficial factors. She said many of the girls felt their privacy had been invaded and they felt objectified.

I’m sorry the girls have to endure judgment, but it will prepare them for the never-ending sexism that is adulthood.

Knowing they resent the judgment also gives me hope there are young women who have some self-respect and who are aware of what’s happening around them.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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