"Hey, what do you think of Sarah Jessica Parker?" I demanded of my boyfriend. In a whisper; we're at the library.
"What do you mean?"
"What do you think of her?"
"I don't care one way or the other."
"But if you had to say."
"Um, I guess I don't really care for her."
"I find her ugly."
"Because I find her extremely ugly."
"This isn't helping me."
I was attempting, in this exchange to determine via field work the veracity of Hadley Freeman's claim on Style.com that while women allegedly adore SJP and feel outraged by Matthew Broderick's tomcatting antics, men feel an antipathy towards her. She calls it "The SJP Divide."
Freeman ultimately arrives at the conclusion that "the reason men don't like her is because she dresses for herself rather than for them." Um, maybe? I'm more inclined to believe most men who purport to dislike Mrs. Broderick couldn't tell you a thing about anything she's ever worn except maybe that tutu in the opening credits of Sex And The City. But whatever the reason for men's 'viciousness' towards the actress, why do we care? Why are we so defensive about her? Why do we get so outraged when Maxim calls her unsexy? I think it's because she kind of epitomizes that, at the end of the day, men have very traditional standards of attractiveness and nothing we can do can change that. And it's infuriating. "But...she's chic!" We cry. "She's fun! She's darling! She's unconventionally attractive! What more need we do? Why won't you get the message? " We can laud her all we want, call her 'best-dressed,' make Carrie Bradshaw our role model. Men just aren't into her.
I also think this is a part of men's hostility. It's like, 'why are you worshiping this woman we've deemed unattractive?' After all, women react to her the same way we traditionally do to a conventionally beautiful woman, and this is very confusing to men. In a sense, we are defying them, creating a new ideal of sexiness that has nothing to do with male gratification - here I agree with Freeman - and this is obscurely insulting. If we disagree about what is fundamentally sexy, this becomes threatening, because the subtext of all sexiness is male attraction. To women, Sarah Jessica Parker is the actress who has shown women can be attractive without being conventially "pretty". To men, this distinction doesn't exist. And that's tragic. And it's not going to change.
"Hey," I whispered to my boyfriend, popping up behind his chair in the library's reading room. "Are you threatened by Sarah Jessica Parker's wardrobe?"
"What? No," he said.
"Are you threatened by the fact that women find her attractive?"
"No. I'm confused by it."
"Because she's obviously ugly! She looks like she was in a bar fight."
"She's a classic jolie laide!" I hissed. Then an old man asked me to be quiet.
Free Speech: Hadley Freeman Looks Into The Great SJP Gender Divide [Style.com]