I have spent an extraordinary amount of my life learning how to elicit male attention and cultivate male desire.
I started thinking about this recently when I had an important event coming up and my brain immediately informed me of the dozen or so steps I could take to show up for the event looking “maximally attractive” on the day of.
This is because years ago, I memorized the exact step-by-step plans required to maximize my hotness, whether I had 30 minutes, 24 hours, or 3 months… and I can never unlearn them.
I’m not kidding. My extensive knowledge of fitness and nutrition provided me with exact protocols for looking how I wanted to on any given day, plus I learned through extensive trial-and-error how to do the same for my face, hair, skin, clothes, and body language.
For well over a decade of my life, everything revolved around how to look as good as possible, and by that I really mean: how to cultivate as much male attention and desire as possible.
I committed countless hours of research, observation, practice, and analysis to the business of being sexually desirable to men.
You might not know this if you’ve never done this research (and for your sake, I sincerely hope you haven’t), but being sexually desirable is a fuck-ton of work.
There are teeth to be whitened, hair to be blown out, nails to be painted, skin to be exfoliated and moisturized, cheekbones to be contoured, eyelashes to be extended, smiles to be rehearsed, and invisibly flirtatious body language to be mastered.
Starting as a pre-teen, I consciously dedicated myself to this business. I was smart, funny, and talented, but who cares? Anyone can be those things, I though. I wanted to be HOT.
It’s important to note that this wasn’t about capturing the attention of someone I liked, it was about capturing as much male attention as possible. Why? Because it was very clear to me that THIS is the path to power as a woman.
After all, straight men hold all the social power, and straight men bestow their attention on desirable women. The most desirable of those women are then put in a position of controlling these men— of making them beg, or making them do whatever we want.
Men control the world, and if a woman is desirable enough, she can control men. This is simple syllogism, folks: If A controls B and B controls C, then A controls C.
By the time I was 11 years old, I aspired not to be a mother or wife, but a fucking vixen. A Bombshell. A seductress. I aspired to be powerful.
I understood that as a woman, I was in direct competition with other women for the coveted attention of straight men, and that in order to achieve greatness I must prove that I am “better than” other women by being more attractive, more easy-going, and more “ideal” to men in every way.
I am nothing if not driven to succeed.
I dedicated myself to the path, becoming an expert at eliciting male sexual desire, attention, and approval. I learned how to suck my belly in and subtly arch my back, all while maintaining a facial expression that suggested I was happy and relaxed.
I learned how to mirror a man’s body language and cues to make him validated and understood, how to turn “on” my most dazzling charm at will, and how to drop hints into conversation about things like loving blow-jobs.
I learned how to recognize when a man was admiring me, and to aim my body language toward him from across the room; how to laugh and toss my hair to appear carefree, how to pop my hip and arm to draw attention to my body.
I learned how to notice and track a man’s sexual arousal as we chatted, and how to make him feel like the most interesting person on earth.
I still know how to do all these things.
After spending years performing hotness in exchange for male attention, I’m still unlearning how to do it.
Despite the fact that I rejected this whole performance years ago, I still sometimes catch myself sucking my stomach in, and have to consciously relax it, or catch myself performing “carefree” because I know someone is watching me.
The unlearning process has been as purposeful and dedicated as the learning process was.
One by one, I’ve committed to examining and rejecting each habit of performance, in order to break free from the idea that I have to be desirable in order to be worthy or powerful.
I’ve shaved my head, given up makeup and nail polish, relaxed my belly, learned how to be authentic in my interactions with men, and worked really fucking hard to let go of the need be “better” than other women in any way. (Trust me, this is harder than it sounds when you’ve been fed lies about how the ultimate compliment is “you’re not like other girls.”)
I’ve had to undo years of habitual body monitoring, performing, and spectatoring, and re-learn how to feel myself from the inside instead of watching myself from the outside.
Sometimes I wonder…. what isn’t there in my head because I spent so long on the labor of desirability? What could I have pursued with that same time, energy, and passion, if I thought it would have gotten me what I wanted?
French? Carpentry? Slam poetry?
For what is worth, if any of this resonates with you and you’re feeling embarrassed or angry at all those wasted hours, I think it’s important that we recognize that we didn’t invent this drive for female power through desirability.
This shit is a LEGACY, passed down by our grandmothers, and our grandmother’s grandmothers, from bygone eras in which the only way a woman was ever going to have power of any kind was either to be beautiful enough to be chosen by a man who would provide for and protect her as his wife, or to be desirable enough that he provided and protected her via money in exchange for sex.
A woman in the not-too-distant-past wasn’t allowed to own land, or have her own money, or do basically anything without a man agreeing or doing it for her. So the legacy of female power is seduction, performance, manipulation, being desirable, all in service of ultimately getting a man to do what we want– because that was our only option.
This isn’t new. I am a product of my generation, a child of parents who were a product of their generation, and so on.
Luckily, I live in an era and country in which I am technically allowed to have an enormous amount of authentic power, and to exert my force of will with regard to my finances, business, career, relationships, reproductive rights (…) and more.
I’m grateful to live in a time where we get to examine the fact that women’s lives are being sacrificed to the patriarchy. I’m grateful to be able to discuss how so many female lives are wasted in pursuit of beauty, perfection, and desirability… and what it means that we learn to spend our lives in service of male desire, instead of pursuing our own.
Love and fucking fire,