Have you ever been at a party where a man makes a really terrible remark about a woman's looks and then tries to back his sexism with bullshit analysis? Something tells me Jeffrey Wells has.
After reviewing the play reasons to be pretty, Wells decided to devote an entire post to one of the central themes of the play: the way men and women interpret the notion of someone's looks being deemed "normal." A male character in the film claims that calling his girlfiend's looks "normal," is a compliment; his girlfriend is devastated by comment and ends the relationship. Wells thinks this is pretty insane, as he believes that calling a woman "normal" looking is actually a means of implying that's she's "not as drop-dead attractive. It means that you see her face as fine, good enough, pleasant, half-there." Wells understands that many people would take this type of compliment badly, but then he attempts to make a case for "normal" looking women by attaching a letter grade to their looks: "If you substitute "normal" for a letter grade of B-plus, B, B-minus or C-plus, he writes, "you could almost see "normal" as a kind of compliment."
Of course! Because what woman doesn't love being told that she's a solid B-minus? Nothing says "compliment" quite like, "You're delightfully average looking and clearly not as attractive as other women, but A+ for effort, doll face." It gets worse: Wells declares that B-minus/C+ women make the best partners, because A women, in his eyes, are "are a handful — often with very pricey material expectations and wanting things to be as good as what they got from their well-to-do dads if not better," while B-minus women "have tasted a little rejection and have come to understand that love and relationships are a two-way street and that it's not all about them and their whims or whatever."
"By this standard women who are Cs should be even better (sweeter, kinder, fairer-minded, more spiritually resourceful, more turn-the-other-cheek) than Bs, and that C-minuses and Ds would be better still and so on," Wells writes, noting that most of his female friends are Cs and Ds and that he's always dated A minuses and B pluses.
Wells also bemoans the unattainable standards of the A woman, blaming their fathers for teaching them to treat men like dogs: "They've all been taught that all they need to do is look around and send certain signals and guys all around them will drop to their knees and start panting like dogs. Life would be heavenly and rhapsodic if women had the personality and temperament of dogs — forever loyal, non-judgmental, constantly affectionate. But that's a loser's dream."
In other words: beautiful women are all shallow bitches with daddy issues, while "average" looking women have all been beaten down in submission by having their hearts broken and coming to realize that they'll never be as gorgeous as their A grade sisters. Their low self-esteem, in turn, makes them better wives and homemakers because they've been led to believe that they don't have many choices out there, while A women can do whatever the hell they want because they're so damn pretty, and they'd make terrible partners because all beautiful women are shallow and high maintenance.
There are so many things wrong with this article that I'm not even sure where to start. First of all, the notion of "ranking" women by letter grade is typically a phenomenon reserved for high school boys and douchebags like Arthur Kade, who base everything on physical appearance (and their personal standards of beauty) without bothering to consider the person for who they are below the surface, or the notion that not everyone views beauty in the same way.
Wells fails on many levels here: he assumes that all "normal" looking women are sweet, selfless, used to rejection, and willing to basically be a doormat simply because they don't look like Angelina Jolie. He also assumes that all beautiful women are shallow, demanding idiots who have never had to work for anything in their lives and who have impossibly high standards due to their looks. It's perhaps the most superficial, idiotic analysis I've ever read, and the sweeping generalizations that Wells only prove that he believes a woman's true worth should be determined by the way men view her, and how she uses her looks (or lack thereof) to make men happy.
Challenged by the commenters on his blog, Wells refers to this book as concrete evidence that his theory holds up: "What Men Don't Want Women To Know," one of those bullshit Tucker Max-esque tomes that drops such gems as "If a man is given the opportunity to engage in sexual relations with an attractive female, with no fear of getting caught and little risk of transmitted diseases, he will do so. Always. Without fail. There are no exceptions." A man referring to a sexist book to back his sexist claims: now that's consistency! No wonder why he truly believes in the bullshit he's spewing: his reading material only serves to support his ridiculous view of the world.
Wells fails to recognize that his practice of assigning letter grades to people's physical attributes is a ridiculously shallow and narrow way of defining beauty: he pays no attention to the fact that different people have different views of what constitutes an "A" or a "C-minus," and he makes sweeping generalizations regarding people's personalities and worldviews based solely on his judgment of their attractiveness. Showing his male privilege, he also completely sidesteps the fact that an entire industry has built up around women wanting to "enhance" their beauty in order to reach the "A" level, and that calling a woman "average" or a "B-minus" is simply another means to perpetuate the notion that all women must fit into a certain standard of beauty to be considered worthy of attention, adoration, and a life that does not revolve around serving some man who finds her to be as "loyal as a dog" due to "knowing that others are more attractive than yourself means you have to work harder and develop the internals in order to compete."
As for his own looks, Wells claims that he, at one point, was "an A minus or maybe a B plus when I was in my 20s and 30s. Now I'm a C, maybe a C-minus in a weathered, sagging-at-the-seams Chris Walken sort of way." It's too bad he doesn't have the self-awareness to recognize that his horrifically sexist and shallow analysis of women, their beauty, and their place in the world according to his bullshit standards of attractiveness deserves a big ol' F.
Just Hot Enough [Hollywood Elsewhere]