Monthly Archives: November 2014

Do heels make a women sexier?

Once back in the mists of time — well, truthfully, last year — I went on an OKCupid date with a man who had more than a passing interest in my shoes. Before the date he emailed me to ask how tall I was. I had neglected to include this nugget of information in my personal info for two reasons: firstly, I don’t care about height, either my own or a man’s; and secondly, I can never remember. Seriously, I know I’m “average” and somewhere over 160cm — hold on, I’ll check! I have just measured myself and it appears I am just over 164cm or around 5’4”, which is pretty average for women in Ireland — and taller than I thought!

You’d think I might have remembered this because I measured myself last year and sent the information to my date. He was French, and I’ll call him Pierre. Pierre expressed relief. He was on the short side, he told me, but taller than me. “Fantastic! You can wear high heels!” he joyfully informed me. I was less than thrilled by this, since I hate high heels and only wear them when I absolutely have to.

On the evening of the date I considered wearing heels, but it was a cold and miserable day. We were meeting for a drink, and personally I don’t see the point in getting dolled up to the nines for the pub — or for a man I didn’t know, for that matter. Heels would also have required a taxi, as the pub was more than ten blocks from my bus stop. I didn’t fancy either wet or painful feet, or worse, both. Taking all of this into consideration, I decided to wear boots. Pretty cool boots, even if I say so myself, and sexy in a Nancy Sinatra “these boots are made for walking” way, but definitely flat.

For the next few hours, Pierre quizzed me about my shoe choice. How often did I wear heels? How many pairs did I own? Were any of my shoes designer? Would I wear heels if we went out a second time?

Perhaps Pierre had a shoe fetish, or perhaps, like his countrymen, he just found high heels a lot sexier than flats. A study conducted by the French social scientist Nicholas Gueguen found that men are more likely to respond positively to a woman if she is wearing heels.

Gueguen conducted an experiment with a young woman dressed soberly in a black suit and white shirt. She approached various men asking them to take part in a survey. When she was wearing heels, 83% of the men she approached said yes; when she was wearing flat shoes the number of willing men dropped down to 47%.

Gueguen was also interested in whether or not this preference would be noticeable in “mate selection” and he wasn’t disappointed. It took men on average 7.49 minutes to approach women wearing high heels in a bar. For those wearing flat shoes, it took 13.54 minutes.

Gueguen hypothesis seems to correct — most men prefer women in heels. But meh — so what? I prefer to walk in comfort, and not risk bunions, hammer toes, nerve damage, stress fractures and ankle sprains. I don’t care that only 47% of the men I might encounter would respond to a request for help, or that it would take me a whole six extra minutes to find a dude in a pub if I was so inclined. Men may prefer high heels, but lots don’t care that much — and those are the men I prefer.

It won’t be much of a surprise when I tell you I never saw Pierre again, which was just as well. He was quite entitled to his preferences as I am to mine, Either way, we were not a good match. He hated my favourite boots; I hated being quizzed about my sartorial choices, especially by a man whose hair could have done with a wash… I don’t care about shoes, or height, but basic grooming? That’s just good manners.

IRISH MEN 1; PFAI 0

There is an internet truism — don’t read the comments. This is particularly true if the article in question is about rape. The necessity of avoiding the poisonous outpouring of anonymous asshats becomes all the more urgent if the victim could be cast as somehow at fault, by being drunk let’s say; or if the perpetrator is sympathetic, such as a young, attractive, successful sports star. But sometimes people surprise you.

It’s obvious that I am talking about Ched Evans, the former Sheffield United striker who was convicted of raping a drunk 19 year old woman at a hotel in 2011. He was convicted in April 2012 for 5 years but released this October. Evans maintains his innocence, and it seems a Stuart Gilhooly, and Irish solicitor agrees with him. Gilhooly wrote an article for the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland arguing that Evans was innocent. The PFAI has since removed the article.

Gilhooly’s argument boils down to two somewhat contradictory statements. First off that the crime wasn’t that serious: “There was no violence and thankfully the victim has no recollection of it. This, I hasten to add, does not make it right, or anything close to it, but it is nonetheless a mitigating factor.”

Then Gilhooly suggested that the rape of drunk women is so common that it hardly counts as a crime at all: “If having sex with a drunk woman is rape then thousands of men are guilty of rape every day.”

Gilhooly appears to be arguing that having sex with a person too drunk to consent is wrong, but not that wrong since lots of men do it. Whether or not thousands of men are guilty of rape doesn’t mitigate Evans’ crime; if anything it highlights the flaws in the justice system. He also compared Evans to the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, an insulting and specious argument since Evans was not a victim of police brutality or evidence tampering.

On the run-up to his conviction, articles about Evans tended to attract a huge amount of ire and victim-blaming. The woman at the centre of the case was named on Twitter; Sheffield United’s Connor Brown allegedly made offensive remarks about her; and hundreds of people seemed convinced that the victim had come forward since she was seeking fame and money.

Given all this, I was pleasantly surprise to see that the vast majority Irish internet commentators were not buying Gilhooly’s argument. I was even more delighted to note that while Gilhooly is prepared to see thousands of men as rapists, Irish men were rightly insulted by the implication. By far the majority of male commentators thought Gilhooly’s argument was “sick”, “appalling” and “disgusting” and many noted that he appeared not to understand the seriousness of rape.

Arguments like Gilhooly’s create a climate where it is difficult for victims — male or female — to come forward. Rape and sexual assault is depressingly common, but that doesn’t mean that rapists are. Most predators commit multiple assaults and continue to do so until they convicted. It is a crime that has a high rate of recidivism too, and those released back into society are very likely to reoffend.

Gilhooly suggests that Irish men don’t know the difference between having sex with a woman who has had a few drinks, and one who is too drunk to consent. They do. By suggesting that thousands of men have sex with blackout drunk women every day, he implies that most men have raped someone. They haven’t.

JULIEN BLANC ISN’T A PICK UP ARTIST — HE’S A PREDATOR

Julien Blanc, a so-called “pick up artist” has had his Australian tour cut short and his visa revoked. Protests have dodged Blanc’s tour and many venues had already cancelled their bookings. Australia’s immigration minister Scott Morrison waded in and cancelled the visa calling Blanc’s schtick “abuse” and “derogatory to women.” It is.

I don’t have an issue with “game” as a general rule. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be better at meeting women or trying to make yourself more attractive to the opposite sex. Not everyone is naturally socially confident or drop-dead gorgeous, but there are things you can learn that go a long way to help. I was a shy, awkward teenager but I learnt to fake confidence — and eventually got confident — because I wanted to meet boys.

Some of the advice, such as that given in Neil Strauss’ best-selling book, The Game, is pretty sensible and not that different from the tricks I used myself. These include paying attention to your grooming; having something interesting to say, even if you need to prepare it beforehand; finding out where interesting parties or events are happening; not worrying too much about rejection and accepting it graciously; and generally being the kind of person other people — men and women — want to spend time with. Strauss also advices not starting with a sexual come on, but rather making friends with everyone in the group, and building rapport with them and the person you fancy, before escalating to the next level. Not exactly revelatory stuff — it’s the kind of advice your mom would give you — and it is hard to monetise that.

As with many things in life, money causes the problems. After the success of Strauss’ book, the PUA scene exploded and people realised there was money to be made. Men pay hundreds, sometimes, thousands of dollars to attend seminars or bootcamps with well-known PUA coaches. But it is a crowded field, and each PUA coach has got to have a unique approach to distinguish himself from the herd. Some of the advice is straight-up ridiculous; some of it is close to advocating rape.

Blanc works for a company called Real Social Dynamics. RSD grew out of Project Hollywood, the house Strauss shared with his PUA coach Mystery. RSD is a company. Like most companies, it is dedicated to making a profit. But since the advice dispensed by the original PUAs like Mystery and Strauss is widely available in cheap paperbacks or on the net, nobody is going to pay for it.

Julien Blanc’s PUA advice is to grab a woman and force her head towards your crotch. Until recent days he was tweeting using the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundtheWorld. That’s not “game” — that’s sexual harassment. Grabbing someone and not letting go is assault. Some of his defenders argue that Blanc spent time talking to the women before doing this. That doesn’t make it better — it’s still sexual harassment.

Blanc is a racist, sexual predator who advices men that, “In Tokyo, if you’re a white male you can do what you want.” Here’s a clip of his seminars. At the end you’ll get to see Blanc in action. None of the women look pleased. Their body language says it all — pushing away or hunched up as small as possible to minimise physical contact with him.

When women complain about “rape culture” this is the kind of thing we mean — normalising sexual harassment and aggression as pick up techniques. Where Strauss advices being charming, Blanc suggests assault. There’s a world of difference there.

ESCAPE THE FRIEND ZONE — WEAR AN UGLY JACKET!

jacket

Good news guys! You can escape the dreaded friend zone. All you’ll need is a shockingly hideous bomber jacket, fancy ass shaving equipment and some fripperies. Oh yeah, and around €4500 to drop on this stuff.

This advice is brought to you by Esquire magazine’s fashion blog, and obviously it shouldn’t be taken too seriously as a guide to being successful with the ladeez. However, the underlying messages play into a number of exasperating stereotypes about men, women and sexual attraction. So yup, I’m going to ignore my own damn advice and take it seriously.

First off, a minor quibble. The article plays into the tired old trope that all women love fashion, therefore all it takes to woo us is a streamlined shirt and some nice shoes. Sure, being nicely dressed is probably a good idea if you’re on the hunt for sex or love, but even the most directional lambswool sweater is not a substitute for chemistry and attraction. Nor will dropping a whooping $485 on a classic shaving kit cause any woman to “recalibrate your standing in her life”, except perhaps to wonder why you throw money around like confetti at a wedding.

Which brings me to my second point… Most of your must-have items to escape the friend zone come with a hefty price tag. The bomber jacket costs an eye watering $3,495. The jeans aren’t exactly cheap at $210, and the sunglasses cost $575, despite looking like something you could pick up for a fiver in Penny’s. The unspoken message here is not just that women like fashion, but expensive fashion. Yup, flash some status symbols around and your lady friend will want to bed you, because at heart, all women are shallow, gold-diggers.

For years, magazines have been selling the same bullshit fairytale to women. Buy this dress, wear these shoes! Voila! You’re Cinderella! It doesn’t work for women either. The average dude won’t fall in love with you because you’re rocking designer gear. Neither will the average lady.

Finally, there is no such thing as the “friend zone” — there’s just friends. The friend zone seems like a gender-neutral term, describing a situation where one person secretly hankers after a romantic or sexual relationship with a man or woman who doesn’t feel the same way. However, the term is often used to suggest that “friend zoning” is something capricious, selfish women do to so-called nice guys — manipulating their feelings, using them for emotional support and keeping them dangling.

You know what, I’m not going to argue that these women don’t exist. I am sure they do. But if that’s the case, why the hell are you even friends? If a friend is prepared to play with your feelings, why would you want them to be your lover or partner? That person is an asshat! Boning won’t make them a better person, especially since the emotional stakes are higher. You can do better, even without a $350 denim shirt!

Wanting someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you is a shitty situation. I’ve been there, and so have many of you. Sometimes a friend might have a change of heart and see you in a new light, but mostly they won’t. But that’s not the friend zone, that’s just plain old unrequited love.

The annoying thing about the friend zone concept is that it suggests that men and women can’t be friends without sexual attraction getting in the way. They can. Sure, some times it is an issue, but the more friends you have of the opposite sex (or whatever sex you are attracted to), the less of a problem it becomes. It also suggests that a woman’s friendship has no value — that if you can’t fuck her, hanging out, going for drinks or to the movies is a big waste of time. If that’s the way you feel, then the asshat is you — and that’s why nobody wants you. Your clothes are irrelevant.