"She's okay I guess, but I need someone that's gorgeous if I'm going to impress these guys."
My heart stopped. My breathing hitched. Every shallow thing that a boy has ever said to me ran through my head, tracing back through any time I had ever felt like I was compared, or not good enough, or judged for what I look like. I heard this quotation about my friend, a girl that I love and admire for her generosity and her enthusiasm for life. I could not believe that her worth was being questioned right in front of me, for something as simple as what she looks like.
The simple truth is that in heterosexual culture, the objectification of women is commonplace and even encouraged. I'm not going to pretend that we haven't made strides. I recently watched the film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's challenge of the laws that differentiated on the basis of sex just a few decades ago (10/10 recommend by the way), and it reminded me of how far we have come. But it also reminded me of how far we have left to go. People (usually men) use "how far we have come" to excuse sexist comments or "locker room talk." Even our president indulges in sexist speech, but that's no excuse. This is why I am refusing to believe excuses about "how far we have come" or "he's a nice guy" anymore.
Becoming a part of Greek life at my university has exposed to me, even more, the rotting culture of sexism. During rush events for fraternity men, sorority women are forbidden because the guys might use us as "props," as my chapter's president put it. That made me frustrated and upset to realize that not only are women still treated as nothing more than what they look like but that it is still excused by so many men around me. They excuse their friends on the basis of them being "a nice guy." They buy into groupthink, going along with what their buddies say just to seem cool and in the loop. They brag about the girls they've been with. They use the girls they bring to fraternity mixers as an item, almost like a fancy Rolex on their wrist to show off.
This is no new-fangled idea. I guess that I am just tired. I am tired of settling for guy friends that will talk behind my back about what I or my friends look like. Yes, nice guys can buy into sexism too. But that doesn't condone it and it certainly is something that I will continue to speak up about. I don't care about how it "looks" when I call someone out. I don't care that it's uncomfortable. I don't care that it's awkward. All it takes is a simple, "Hey, man. That's not cool. And that's not something we do here."