The first time that blogger failed, I had a post up announcing that “glasses are sexy!” along with the following picture:
Shortly afterward, I met with a friend for lunch, who casually expressed surprise, “You know, Nahida, that post was kind of ableist.”
Pushing aside my slight hurt, I asked, “What do you mean?” but even as I did I could see what she meant: I wouldn’t tell someone xir broken arm was sexy, because it’s fetishizing and creepy, what the hell was I doing implying, “Hey it’s really sexy that you can’t see at full capacity.”
“But that’s–” my voice trailed off as I thought. But that’s what? Different? Because glasses are a lot more socially accepted compared to pretty much every other tool for pretty much every other physical disability?
But even the sexualization of socially acceptable characteristics is (rightfully) offensive. I’m constantly irritated when men tell me, “You’re really smart. That’s hot,” because it’s fetishizing and belittling, and it means they’re not taking it seriously. Instead this characteristic has conveniently become an object of sexual attraction, something to be put away when they’re done. My intelligence is a real part of me that does not exist for the fetishes of others.
I tried to pretend that it was someone else, telling me my glasses were sexy. Considering that I need them, and depending on the context–yeah, I may possibly find it really, really strange. If I had just gotten new frames, and it were a friend comparing the old with the new: “Your glasses are sexy,” I’d be flattered, because she clearly meant the frames themselves–not the fact that I have to deal with horrible vision. If it were in a different context however, a stranger saying, “It’s really sexy that you wear glasses,” I’d be a little disturbed–and though I wouldn’t immediately have known why, it would be the same subconscious discomfort I’d feel if they’d said, “It’s really sexy that you wear a cast,” had I a broken arm.
If I’d decorated the cast, I wouldn’t mind someone telling me it looked good.
“I meant the glasses themselves,” I explained meekly.
She smiled, “Yeah I know what you meant. But what if you said that wheelchairs are sexy?”
“I was just thinking something along those lines. I think… when people say glasses are sexy you can safely assume they don’t mean that the characteristic of less than 20/20 vision is sexy, because they’re practically a fashion trend. Like sweaterdresses or high heeled shoes. But wheelchairs aren’t nearly as openly accepted or willingly accommodated. A guy telling you your wheelchair is sexy sounds like the same ass who tells you you’re exotically beautiful and fetishizes your race, or tells you how your intelligence is sexually attractive.. and he’s your boss or something.”
Context counts for this one, but I’m still tentative with that conclusion.
While I don’t have a cast or a wheelchair, I emphasize that glasses are sexy because I wear them. Is it not as douchey when it’s a way of reclaiming what others disagree about?
|All the cool kids have sideways crappy cellphone pictures.