In my last post, I observed that in the reality show “The Girls Next Door,” Barbi Benton, Hugh Hefner’s 50-something ex-girlfriend, snarked about the extreme youth of his current crop of three girlfriends, the oldest of whom is almost fifty years younger than he is. Tango Man commented, Yeah, that female beauty and youth privilege thing can be hard to give up. It is unclear what specific “privileges” Tango Man may have been referring to in Benton’s case. The privilege of being Hefner’s temporary girlfriend? Whoop-di-doo.
It sticks in my craw when men talk about some alleged “power” or “privilege” young attractive women have by virtue of their youth and beauty. Are young and beautiful women sometimes treated favorably? Absolutely. But this isn’t “power,” nor is it privilege of any lasting or reliable sort.
When I was in my 20s, I constantly got pulled over for speeding without ever once getting a ticket. I have frequently been told that the cops probably didn’t ticket me because I was young and cute (and white, but that’s not the issue here). Was I glad to not get a ticket? Sure! But the power in these situations was always in the hands of the male cops who pulled me over. They got to decide whether they deemed me attractive enough to exercise their power and discretion to let me off the hook for speeding.
What advantages did I gain during the years when I was at my most “attractive”? People were often nicer to me than to supposedly less attractive people. People may have been more likely to hire me or date me. Teachers and police officers may have been inclined to give me a break. But again, while these may have been pleasant advantages, all the real power in a given situation was in the hands of those who chose to treat me in a particular way based on my looks. All that stuff plus $2.00 will get me a cup of coffee.
Some women have parlayed their beauty into actual power and control. But a famous model is not powerful because she is beautiful but rather because of the money or status in the entertainment industry which she has acquired by selling her beauty.
In reality, the supposed “power” and “privilege” enjoyed by beautiful women are merely fleeting advantages that are entirely dependent on the goodwill and subjective opinion of others (usually men), and are likely to disappear once the woman grows older, or gains weight, or becomes ill. Me -- I’d prefer the privilege of being able to buy three handsome 20-something boyfriends to live entirely at my beck and call when I’m 80.