top of page
  • Writer's pictureAlanna Grayce

WOMEN DON'T OWE YOU PRETTY



*CONTENT WARNING: THEMES OF SEXUAL ASSULT* (in episode and post)


Florence Given: Florence Given is a British illustrator, writer, feminist social activist, and influencer. She is known for her slogan designs which address social issues surrounding sexuality. In 2020, her first book, Women Don't Owe You Pretty, was published.


So the book starts out with Floss warning the reader that becoming more aware of a lot of these things and how people we love are varying degrees of problematic can lead us to not enjoying people we’ve cared about. Like the realizations that we might come to could cause us to cut people from our lives, ya know? It can also cause us to feel guilt over things we’ve done in the past, or it can cause us to rethink ourselves and our whole approach to life. Which is hard for a lot of people, but you have to humble yourself and do that if you ever want to grow or be any kind of a better person ya know?


She also discusses, importantly, that for women in general performing femininity and fitting into a lot of gender roles is a survival technique. It’s a way for women to not have to worry about dealing with things, ya know? Just do what’s expected and maybe you’ll be safe. Maybe you’ll even be given opportunities that other people who don’t conform won’t have. BUT the question we should be asking ourselves- as Florence so rightly points out- is whether or not it’s worth it?


Major topics:


You are the love of your own life/How to break up with yourself

Florence writes that one of the most radical things you can do is LOVE YOURSELF as you are- especially if that is enough for you to be satisfied without a romantic love. She explains that in a capitalist society where our flaws and insecurities are PREYED UPON in such a way that we, as women, are told that self care involves hundreds of dollars of products or treatments. Even shopping is widely considered a form of female self-love or self-care; treat yoself, right? It’s not the same for men- for Adam, self care is going to the gym to make himself strong, or playing video games, or hanging out with his friends. For my dad it’s working out, calling the boys, watching a movie, hanging out in the hot tub. These are things that may involve some money or investment in some way, but typically males are not told “hey you need this to be beautiful” or “hey you have to use this product if you love yourself”.

So this is why LOVING YOURSELF as you are (that doesn’t mean you can’t want other things, or want to change or grow, or whatever) but just loving yourself and not needing validation from outside of yourself is radical, because it’s breaking the norm. It is also ESSENTIAL.

So when the next chapter is about breaking up with yourself, it’s kind of confusing. But I just learned to love myself… why would I let that go? That’s not quite it, though.

In order for us to grow and improve and change in the best ways, we have to come to an understanding that we deserve better than what we are giving ourselves. Especially because sometimes we get into self-sabotage cycles, or we act badly and then don’t hold ourselves accountable. Or don’t let other critique us and hold us accountable. So often we like to blame our suffering or misadventures on sources outside of ourselves, rather than believe that we would choose suffering for ourselves- but in reality it comes from the toxic people we hate but we choose to keep around us, for example. Taking accountability for this and using it as an opportunity for growth will allow us to understanding so much about who we are and why we do things. Then, we can thank that version of ourselves, and we move on to the new.


To date or not to date

Knowing what you want, and don’t want, from life is an essential realization. This doesn’t necessarily mean like what you wanna be when you grow up- it means what kind of life you want to live, what kind of people you want around you, the kinds of energy you enjoy. Florence argues in this chapter that if you want a partner, going on as many dates as you’re comfortable with, with a wide variety of people, would help you understand what you enjoy in a partner, what you can’t stand, and ultimately the kind of person you would enjoy spending your time with. I know that personally I did this, and I realized SO MUCH about what and who I wanted. And before you say anything- no, this does not counteract the loving yourself first situation- this can only happen well if you do love yourself the most, because then you won’t accept love and attention that is less than you deserve. And so often, we have these less than perceptions of ourselves, and that’s why we get into cycles with shit bags and jerks- because deep down there is a part of us that doesn't understand we deserve better. But we do. So go on dates--you don’t owe anybody anything just for eating dinner, by the way; not your loyalty, not your body, not even a kiss--and find out what you like and what you don’t.


Refuse to find comfort in other women’s flaws

This is as simple as it can be y’all. We should not tear each other down. We are not competing to be top woman. Helping another women does nothing to take away from our own- this is something that I work hard to overcoming, actually, because I always feel like there’s a competition. Someone asked me recently for advice on something, and my immediate thought was that i shouldn’t be entirely truthful because what if they were trying to do the same thing as me and they might become more successful??? I took a step back from myself though and realized that she did not deserve that and she was coming to me from a place of trust- so I gave her my honest answer! And guess what- no, she was not going to be competing against me anyway. So if I had lied, I just would’ve been a dick. I’m really thankful that I saw that in myself and made a different choice- and I encourage you ladies or gentlemen to do the same if you ever find yourself feeling that same way.


Stop scrolling in the mornings

This is something I’ve been working on for a while- since way before I even bought this book and waiting what felt like forever to receive it. I actually did really well at it for a while- and guess how incredible i felt during that time?

Florence tells us “We all have a void we’re trying to fill, and social media assists in widening that void”- and she backs that up with a quotation from one of Facebook’s cofounders about how social media is literally designed to be addictive. Obviously the people who profit from it want us to be obsessed and not be able to get away from it, but they literally made it addictive because of the unpredictability. We don’t know how people are going to react to something we post so we like obsessively check it, or maybe we obsessively check to see what someone in particular is posting. But these highlights reels don’t represent reality 99% of the time, and it’s a lot for us to handle emotionally.

She says “Name one successful woman who got to where she is by scrolling instagram depressing herself with others fabricated lives.” And the point that Florence is making in saying this is that when we scroll through this ultra curated version of someone’s life as soon as we open our eyes- we are just giving our brain all this comparison to deal with. And that’s not a good way to start a day y’all.


Maybe you’re queer

Florence poses a really interesting dichotomy here: she says: “The sexualization of women’s bodies is so normalized, it made me question whether loving a woman outside of her objectification was valid enough. That if i didn’t objectify women and talk about them the way cis men did, that i couldn’t possibly be queer. How hetrifying.”

First of all- Florence says hetrifying all the time- like terrifying but also hetero, and it kills me to my core in the best way. I think it is the funniest possible word of them all.

But, more importantly, the idea that women are so inherently objectified that a queer person questions their sexuality BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT OBECTIFYING WOMEN ENOUGH is insane to me. Insane. Are you kidding me? Does this not tell us everything we need to know about like, everything???

Florence says that she didn’t have that reaction because she saw other women or non-binary people that she though were attractive, and she saw herself in them- in that they are multifaceted human beings, not simple objects to gawk at. For this reason, she encourages the reader to reflect on who you find attractive, your own identity, and how heteronormativity affects your perceptions- whether you’re queer or not. To give you an idea of the questions she wants you to start asking of yourself, and something to think on: Have you had queer feelings and shamed yourself out of them? How do the ideas of how your gender “should” behave affect how you actually behave? Do you judge a person and assume their personality just by a look?


If it isn’t hell yes, then it’s hell no

CONSENT. THIS IS ABOUT CONSENT. And frankly, it’s self explanatory. I’m going to supplement it with the fact that only once ever have I been asked if it’s okay to kiss me. Our senior year of college, he’s the first guy I’m kind of hanging out with after my 4year boyfriend and I break up, and he asked me “can i kiss you?” before he even touched me. And then constantly asked if it was okay and if i felt comfortable. Like, can you imagine?? If that was normal?????


She was asking for it - CONTENT WARNING

I think it is super important that Florence starts this chapter by saying sexual assault is never the victims fault. Because it’s not. No matter what you were wearing, if you were with your “nice guy” friend, if someone thinks you “lead them on” or not- the victim is not at fault. The assaulter made the choice to do something to another person. Full stop.

Florence makes the major point here that it should not be normal to experience discomfort or fear when you’re being intimate with a partner. Saying no, or nothing at all, should be the end of it.

So often people think that if you didn’t do everything possible on their made up checklist to get a person to stop, then you did not do enough and you are at fault for what another person decided to do to you. Are you sure you said no? Where you dressed modestly? Did you push them off your body that you did not invite them onto in the first place? Did they hear you say no? Did you struggle? Are you sure you want to call that rape?

To every single one of those people, fuck off. I personally know multiple rapists- and they know they did it, and other people know they did it, but nobody ever took the girls (YES MULTIPLE) who reported them seriously. One was in med school, last i knew. Imagine being treated by a doctor that is also a rapist. If i ever saw him in a hospital, i would tell them to wheel me out. Don’t trust him as far as i can throw him. And ya know- he was my friend, before. My good friend. The last thing he ever said to me was hey, have fun on your trip to england, can’t wait to hear about it. But when that 18 year old girl that i had known for much less time than him came to me and told me that she blacked out at a party and then woke up naked in his room and she was not comfortable with that, and that she could not have consented to the things that happened to her…. Well, i believed her. I didn’t interrogate her, i didn’t ask her if she is sure that she said no. i believed her, and i told her it was not her fault. Because it wasn’t.


Women do not exist to satisfy the male gaze

This is something I struggle to explain to people- and it’s actually something I’ve been talking about it a lot since I watched Birds of Prey, and there is a genuine difference in how Harley Quinn is pictured there because she no longer exists to satisfy a man. She is learning to love herself and live as her own human ya know. And.. well people don’t like that. Or maybe they don’t get it.

It costs more to be a woman, financially and emotionally. We choose where we live based on safety- whereas boys I’ve known live in terrifying areas that i wouldn’t be in if not for them. We spend money on rape alarms and pepper spray to protect ourselves from people who don’t like when we say no. When a man approaches us at the bar, we tell them we have a boyfriend, because they respect another man’s “ownership” of us before they respect us not being interested. Or, we give them a fake number- but they’ve caught on to that, so they call you right in front of them to catch you if you’re lying. That’s been done to me- they’re so insistent and won’t leave you alone, so you give in just to get some damn peace and be able to have fun with your friends- but it doesn’t stop. He’s crazy, run away. I mean even razors and shave cream marketed to women is more expensive, when the only difference is the color pink. It’s disgusting.

The male gaze typically comes down to the fact that the more feminine we are, the more desirable we are. Our worth is tied to our sexiness, but then at the same time if we embrace that then we are called whores. We are shamed by a society who doesn’t want objects to believe they have their own worth. The male gaze is that thing we perform for- Adam always asks me, who are you doing that for? Thank God at this point in my life the honest answer is myself, but he gets it without even knowing that he gets it.


Dump them- and also you don’t have to get married either

Is that person good enough for you??? No? Dump them. That’s it, that’s the chapter in a nutshell. She continues in the next chapter to explain some high level points about marriage- such as that marriage is a contract between you, a person, and the government, who has a say in whether you can or cannot exit this relationship even if it causes damage. Or, that it has in some traditions been a passing of property (the bride) from father to husband. Uncool. So she just goes into explaining that and the cultural implications and societal expectations that often come from marriage- and then she asks. Do you want to get married, or is that just what you’ve been told you want?


Accountability

This includes holding people around you accountable for shitty things they do and say, including racist grandma or misogynist uncle. This also includes holding yourself accountable for things that you do or believe that hurt others, and asking yourself why you think that way. And this ALSO includes understanding the privileges that you may have, and how they work for you- and that other people deserve them but don’t have them. So basically she is challenging us to hold ourselves accountable to make this world better.


Let that shit goooooo

Florence ends on this: that there will never be a point where you are fully healed from traumatic things you’ve experienced. But you have to focus on healing and growing through them, rather than distracting ourselves and searching for things that just fill the void and kind of half assedly glue the cracks together. We have to heal. Because if not, then that is how we get on these awful self destructive spirals, that's how we end up in situations we don’t enjoy- because we never grew from that trauma. And we have to keep in mind that people won’t always like it when we grow- like she says at the beginning, about loving yourself- you might lose people along the way. People might not like that you stop existing to please others, and start existing to please yourself. But if they’re not excited for you and helping you grow, then they’re not your friend. It’s time to say adios.

Everyone has things they need to heal from, and the perspective you need to retain as you go through this is this- imagine the past versions of yourself. How broken they were, how they cried at the bar bathroom, how they were bullied, maybe how they almost gave up completely. All of those versions of you are SO HAPPY to see you pulled through, and so proud to see how much you’ve grown.




Use THIS LINK to pre-order your copy from Target!

https://www.florencegiven.com/

https://www.palatinate.org.uk/women-dont-owe-you-pretty-overhyped-or-the-next-feminist-masterpiece/


2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page