Some Thoughts On Being Amazing

There’s a graphic floating around on the Internet right now that’s kind of bugging me.

It’s a pretty enough image, don’t get me wrong. It shows a beautiful woman standing in the falling snow, with words over it. The words are all spelled correctly, there’s no extraneous “Warning, the letter S is approaching!” apostrophe where there shouldn’t be one (the prevalence of which in common use is itself an ongoing source of annoyance to your humble scribe), and it uses a lovely script font. I’m not going to bother to re-post it here, but overall it’s not a badly done bit of Photoshop.

What bugs me is what the words say. They, read, in that lovely script font:

If She’s Amazing, She’s Not Easy.
If She’s Easy, She’s Not Amazing.

And it pisses me right the fuck off.

Now, I don’t know if they mean “easy” as in “sexually promiscuous” or “easy” as in “easy to get close to.” It doesn’t really matter; both readings are pretty odious.

On the surface, I can kinda see what the artist intended, sorta, maybe. He or she was probably driving at a point that, in all fairness, is reasonable; if you think a person is amazing, you should be willing to invest in her (or him), and not necessarily to expect that a relationship will come easily or without effort. To some extent, it’s a fair point; things worth having are worth working for.

But regardless of whether or not the unknown artist intended to make that point, I don’t think it’s the point that is actually being made.

If She’s Amazing, She’s Not Easy.
If She’s Easy, She’s Not Amazing.

Taken on its most superficial level–that is, with “easy” meaning “sexually promiscuous”–it’s simply old-fashioned, sex-negative slut-shaming of the most boring and tedious sort. I’ve met some folks who are sexually “easy,” at least for the right partners, who are pretty bloody amazing, thank you very much–smart, educated, driven, successful, literate, happy, fulfilled, insightful, incisive, and on at least one occasion even quite skilled at spinning fire. To suggest that a woman’s amazingness varies directly with how tightly she keeps her legs closed is misogynistic, sure, but it’s such a banal, humdrum sort of misogyny it’s scarcely even worth talking about. Either the essential stupidity of such an attitude is glaringly self-obvious to someone, or it’s entirely inaccessible to him. Either way, it’s so lacking in subtlety or depth that it’s not even interesting.

And it doesn’t even exaggerate misogyny to the point that it becomes social commentary, making misogyny a target of sarcastic ridicule the way this graphic does1.

But I am willing to give the person who created it the benefit of the doubt, and assume that such a blatant reading of sex-negative claptrap isn’t what was intended.

I think, though I could be wrong, that rather than trying to be patriarchal and sexist, the person who created the image was trying to say “An amazing woman won’t be easy to get close to, so one should be prepared to put in the work; a woman who is easy to get close to isn’t going to be nearly as amazing.”

And even that reading is pretty fucked up, if you ask me.

If She’s Amazing, She’s Not Easy.
If She’s Easy, She’s Not Amazing.

The first thing I thought when i read this was, “easy to who?” A person who is amazing might very well be easy to get to know and to become close to, if she finds you to be amazing as well. On the surface, there seems to be a very deeply buried, tacit subtext of “I’m not terribly amazing myself, so it sure would be hard for me to get the attention of someone who is.”

And hell, sometimes being a person who takes risks, who engages the world, who is open and transparent, who is willing to run the risk of living a life unencumbered by a fortress of walls and defenses, is part of what makes a person amazing. Even my pet kitten, who lives in a world that is filled with joy and for whom every new person is a friend, knows that.

The flip side, the idea that a person who is easy to get close to won’t be amazing, is not only absurd, it’s a slap in the face to those who are amazing and who choose to live their lives openly and without fear. Writing off a person as not being sufficiently “amazing” merely because that person is easy to engage seems to me to be profoundly short-sighted.

There’s a deeper, more sinister kind of yuck buried in the sentiment as well.

If She’s Amazing, She’s Not Easy.
If She’s Easy, She’s Not Amazing.

Tucked neatly beneath the surface of this sentiment is an underlying assumption: that it is her job, as an amazing woman, not to be easy, and it is your job, and the person who is attracted to amazing women, to work to pierce that wall.

Yep, it’s the same thing we see in Chanel ads and swing clubs and women’s magazines at the grocery checkout: women are the gatekeepers, men are the pursuers. She is amazing, and her role is to make pursuit of her hard; you are the schleb who wants her, and it is your role to pursue her until you wear down her resistance. Don’t settle for second-best! Don’t take the woman who’s easy to catch! She won’t be as amazing as the woman who is.

And that kind of gender-stereotypical rolecasting is, if anything, even more corrosive than the simpler, more boring kind of misogyny in the first reading. The fact that the elegantly-dressed woman in the photo, standing out in the snow in her expensive cocktail dress, was conventionally pretty in the bland sort of Vogue-esque kind of way, sort of underscores that point a bit.

At least I think so, anyway. But then, I seem to have a statistically disproportionate number of amazing people around me, so perhaps I’m just jaded.

1 At least, I assume the Cinderella image is intended to mock misogyny. It certainly feels like social-commentary-through-comedic-exaggeration to me.