December 29, 2013

Since we humans are social creatures, we have to seduce others in one way or another. There are two ways that I see kids learn to seduce others. One way is for them to be charming themselves. They seduce others with their personalities, social skills, “emotional intelligence”, etc.. Another way is to create things that are seductive. They themselves may be unattractive, but they can create things that appeal to others. In short, the choice is either to internalize (subjectify) or externalize (objectify) the seduction mechanism. I think the trajectory is set quite early in childhood. Some kids are naturally charming and sweet while others are naturally abrasive and annoying. Parenting can certainly influence these qualities but only to a degree. If you have a naturally sweet disposition, you would instinctively reinforce that quality to be more seductive. If not, sooner or later, you would realize that people around you respond more to what you make than what you are naturally. You would then instinctively reinforce that too. That is, you would focus more on what you create, not on how you behave socially.

And, our society expects our girls to be in the former camp, and boys in the latter. We tolerate annoying boys more than we do annoying girls. This is a subtle way that sexism manifests. For gender equality, we need to provide more support for girls who are abrasive, socially awkward, and annoying; NOT to make them more charming but to let them be annoying, so that they would be encouraged to create appealing things, instead of trying to be appealing themselves.