Dear Girls, Male Attention isn’t A Prize

If you’re a heterosexual girl on the internet, this is a message for you:

Male sexual attention is cheap.

It’s given out abundantly and non-selectively. There’s nothing special about it. There’s no hidden meaning behind it. There’s no respectable intention attached to it. It does not imply love and care. It’s in no way a measure of your self-worth. It is not a prize nor a proof of anything of worth. It should never be a source of validation.

If you’re a girl on the internet, whether you’re posting images of yourself on social media or you put yourself out there on a dating app, you will encounter men who have nothing to say to you other than what they think of your outfits, your “sexy legs”, or your “nice figure” — men who seem to have an interest in you but quickly steer the conversation towards your body and their preferences in bed.

Please remember that these comments are neither about you nor flattering — no matter how politely worded. They’re about those men and their selfish needs. They’re often derogatory and can be predatory. So please allow yourself to not entertain them and ruthlessly block them.

If you’re a girl, especially a young girl, I know you want and like male attention.

I know you feel good when a boy whom you find cute replies to your Instagram story with a comment “Hot!”. I know it makes you giggle, thinking you’ve got it going and he must like you somehow. So you want to hold up your end, to behave in a certain way to keep that attention coming.

Being seen as an attractive girl feels good. Getting attention feels good. And getting sexual attention is better than getting no attention at all, you might think.

And it’s okay. It’s okay to be getting sexual attention — you’re beautiful, your beauty shines even when you don’t realise it, you will attract all sorts of men and all kinds of attention. It’s no big deal and nothing to be ashamed of.

But I want to remind you that you’re indefinitely more than your body and your look.

And if you want a respectful, loving relationship with a man, sexual attention is never the point.

The truth is a man who wants to build a respectful, loving relationship with you will appreciate your sexiness but it isn’t it for him. Men don’t fall in love because of sex. Men don’t fall in love just because he thinks a woman is sexy or attractive — ask any man.

But this message isn’t even about building romantic relationships with men.

Male attention isn’t a prize — period.

Dear girls, you’re more than being someone’s partner, someone’s girlfriend, someone’s wife, someone’s sexual escape.

You’re still living in a world where the male perspective is considered universal and a woman often disappears behind the man she’s with, so please stop seeing yourself through a man’s eyes and start advocating for yourself and your own needs.

Stop asking yourself what it is that a man wants from you because chances are high you’ll have a sexist, misguided view of who you should be.

Forget about the “cool girl” — the “cool girl” is lame. Forget about the “manic pixie dream girl” — this girl is a fantasy created by men for men. Forget about those advice articles telling women to do this and that to please men at the expense of their own comfort and needs. Forget about the media’s depiction of women.

None of these so-called women are real. None shows the needs of a real woman. None takes women’s issues seriously. None portrays women as real people.

Educate yourself on feminism, on the gross reality of gender inequality today. Read books like Invisible women and start living your life differently if you don’t already.

Dear girls, you’re capable and have so much in you. You can be whoever you want to be.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t shrink yourself for anyone.

Please remember that male attention isn’t the prize. Male attention isn’t your responsibility either.

Male attention should never be the reason you change or hate your body. Male attention should never outweigh your own opinions of yourself and what you want to do with your life. Male attention should never determine your self-worth.

Male attention should never be chased after — in fact, no attention should be chased after, it should be given because you’re deserving of it.

How to Live Your Life On A Real Woman’s Terms

  • Read books written by women and watch movies made by women from a woman’s perspective.

  • Support other women and celebrate other women’s success.

  • Never ask yourself “Am I over-thinking or over-reacting?” ever again when a man disrespects you in any way — You’re not and you don’t have to be nice about it.

  • Always call out disrespectful behaviours and be ready to walk away because you do not have to deal with bullshit.

  • You’re powerful — claim it.

  • Trust your own judgment.

  • Respect your needs, experiences, and perspectives as a woman and speak up openly and confidently about them.

  • Decide for yourself what’s normal and enough.

  • When you’re dating, set your boundaries and standards and stick to them. Don’t let anyone mansplain to you what’s good for you — you know it best.

  • There are good men who support and respect women out there; there are healthy, loving relationships out there — don’t give up on them. Your reality will change when you demand respect and good treatment instead of seeking out sexual attention and accepting crumbs.

Your life as a woman matters.

Your relationships with men, your aspirations, your actions will be examples for other men and women and the children of tomorrow.

You’re the change the world desperately needs, so please take space and don’t stop being your true self.

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