Women Who Want Attention

"She just wants attention" is a phrase I frequently hear. It's in regards to the girl who cut herself, and the girl who was on anti-depressants. Or the girl (this girl, actually) who had anxiety attacks, or the anorexic girl.

All of us were quickly dismissed using that contagious needy-for-attention rationale, and I guess the easiest explanation as to why is simply, well, middle-schoolers suck. They lack empathy and sympathy, and it's easy to resort to apathy. But here's the thing: entering Social Studies half an hour late into a room of kids who know very well why you were just in the counselor office and still choose to whisper about how you're probably just PMSing or angry about something girly and stupid like shoes or whatever — it's really hard to walk into that situation. You have no choice (one has to return to class, after all), and you continue to feel awful even if you manage to endure it. (Some people might respond here with a typical anti-feminist slur: that I'm only writing this to complain about my own problems. I'm writing this to try and shed a little light on this situation, as someone who has experienced it, but sees that it isn't uncommon in a world far greater than that of my peer group.)

When someone shoves aside another person's issues, they're saying that that person is putting a personal issue out there just so others will listen. But is that necessarily wrong? A need for attention can also be a call for all kinds of help, and maybe that's all a person who's struggling internally wants or needs. Apathy, for those who dismiss these people, is deliberately remaining passive in an effort to not care; not taking the time out to tell an adult, not going a bit out of your way to see if the person is all right, not taking a break from your own shit to help someone clean up theirs. That's why "she just wants attention" is so easy, and so middle school.

And yet...it's really not just middle school. At all. Unless...damn, were my teachers right when they said junior high really was preparing me for the real world?

So, Megan Fox. People really, really hate Megan Fox. If you have an Internet connection, you know this, but in case you've forgotten, here's a hate-driven Tumblr, the description of which reads: "Fuck you, Megan Fox. No, really. Keep your trap shut."

Megan Fox is a pretty talkative person. Wait, no, she's a pretty talkative woman. She's a pretty talkative woman who makes a lot of dudes happy by playing the sexy chick. And on top of that, she's talked about how her male boss, Michael Bay, can be kind of a jerk. And Michael Bay tends to dismiss her "silly" ramblings about how he's narcissistic and creepy and made her wash his Ferrari wearing a bikini in order to get a part in Transformers. Which she should apparently be really, really grateful for, since whenever people talk about her, they like to throw in the "don't bite the hand that feeds you" admonishment. To which I say, what if that hand is also trying to grab your ass?

People seem to get pissed that their sex symbols have to come with opinions, and like, emotions, and things to say. Fox is dismissed by Bay and the media as an attention whore, an egotistical bitch who just wants to find something to complain about so people will look at her. However, when Shia Labeouf insulted Michael Bay (and Stephen Spielberg, and George Lucas), he was just an honest young man with an old soul. Fox, you see, is similarly famous but also desired, so she should have nothing to be upset over. Surely a woman's needs and problems can't go deeper than that! She just wants attention.

Middle-schoolers and the media have a lot of difficulty believing that when a woman is upset, it's honest and real and not an attempt to fish for compliments because, well, why should she have anything to be upset about? Or maybe people can see some of the anger or sadness as real — but it's just so much easier to brush it aside. Women are just whiny, y'know? They'll get over it.

And so, apathy.

Gender becomes such a vital part of how we judge others, and the idea that a girl's anger is irrational is instilled, and then the girl with the eating disorder or the girl who cuts herself is ignored or scrutinized for having feelings and wanting help. It has to be realized that if a woman or girl is upset about something, it's not just because she wants attention. And if she does want attention, maybe it's because she wants care. Is that something to dismiss? What happens when we do dismiss it? I'm not sure I want to know.