Since I still have another 26 days of my Facebook ban to go, I can’t write my usual commentary and shares there… which means, if I want to refute idiotic memes, I need to do so elsewhere. Why not here?
So yesterday I saw this dumb meme which went something like this:
Attention women: No man notices how long your eyelashes are.
So why bother?
Of course such a meme turned out to be rather divisive, with several women commenting (paraphrased), “It’s not for you; It’s for us”, and several people disagreeing… And one woman who even went so far as to disagree with all the other women to say that long eyelashes are indeed there to be attractive to men.
But I have seen this kind of argument used many times before, in religious apologetics of all places, so I’d like to address what the meme is really saying, in the form of a logical syllogism:
- Premise 1: Women’s worth is measured by their attractiveness to men. (Assumed.)
- Premise 2: Men don’t even notice women’s eyelash extensions.
- Conclusion: Women cannot increase their worth, which we conclude is based on their attractiveness to men.
But why did I write it like that? Well, because that’s what it’s really saying. It’s just like religious apologetics arguments, which almost always assume god exists, then have one or two premises, and conclude what we are not supposed to notice was actually assumed upfront. And just like with the poor arguments in apologetics, people responding don’t notice the upfront assumption, but respond to the premises without addressing that the conclusion was assumed upfront, which leaves them with the impression that it could indeed be true.
So let’s nip this in the bud, shall we? Such arguments are always fallacious because you can’t start with your conclusion (because it is begging the question, AKA circular reasoning). Even though it is only implied, it is treated as if it must be true. Yet nothing in the argument states any logical reason that women’s worth is measured by their attractiveness to men, just like nothing in the religious apologetics arguments give a reason the person assumes their god exists.
The meme is clever because it combines two very different things:
- A “sort of” truth, in that men probably often don’t notice women’s eyelash extensions.
- An assumption: That women’s value is measured by their attractiveness to men, which is absolute nonsense.
It’s clever in its attempt to trick you into conflating those two things. It’s also wrong.
Would you measure a man’s worth by how attractive he is to women?
You might think I’m reading too much into that statement, but I am not. It really is all about dismissing women in general as being silly because they do things like extend their eyelashes, while ignoring that any urge to do so may be for a number of reasons other than being attractive to men. It’s part of a broader problem where misogynistic views are widespread, and even women often propagate them, like some kind of internalized oppression.
In any case, men and women do notice long eyelashes, maybe not directly, but they do notice that something is different. I know this because I, a man, happen to have very long eyelashes. They annoy the fuck out of me when wearing glasses, because they often touch the lenses, which not only makes me uncomfortable, but also eventually damages the lenses, because years of lashes brushing against the glasses eventually scratches them. This is one of the reasons I prefer wearing contact lenses. And then people remark at how different I look. No glasses means you might actually notice my long eyelashes, and also, I can then “talk” with my eyes, by, for example, raising my eyebrows, narrowing my gaze, or widening my eyes, none of which people notice when I’m wearing glasses. You don’t see someone with (for example) long eyelashes and realize what you notice, but you do notice that there is something about them.