Tag Archives: Powerful Women

Presidents Day, Strong Leaders, And Why We’re Attracted To Powerful People (And Always Will Be)

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It’s Presidents Day. I know that’s a somewhat bitter reminder for those still upset about the results of the 2016 Presidential Election, but it’s here and we might as well appreciate it. For most people, it’s a chance to get a day off work or take advantage of stores wanting any excuse to have a sale. I’m as fond of sales as much as the next guy, but I think there’s something else about Presidents Day that’s wroth discussing.

Presidents Day, in principle, is an American celebration of the famous leaders who have helped shape the path of the country. Most agree that not just anyone can lead. Even among those who can, only a select few have led particularly well. Even among the Presidents of the United States, there’s a decent mix of admirable strength and frustrating ineptitude.

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However, the ability of a strong leader isn’t what I want to scrutinize here. Instead, I want to focus on why we’re so attracted to powerful people. I’m not just talking about in a sexual sort of way, either. Regardless of whether or not you want to sleep with a powerful person, it’s hard to deny that we’re attracted to them on many levels.

From a pragmatic perspective, we kind of have to be to some extent. A powerful person is only powerful if they can get people to follow them, carry out their agenda, and do things they wouldn’t normally do for a total stranger. Sure, they can threaten people with force or violence, but that only goes so far. As I’ve noted before in my discussions on fascism, raw leading by brutality can be pretty self-defeating in the long run.

A Biff Tannen style bully, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t very powerful. A truly powerful person is someone who can rally a hundred people who are physically weaker than Biff Tannen and subdue him through a coordinated, cooperative effort. That person, even if they’re as unimposing as George McFly, will always be more attractive.

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In some sense, it’s frustrating. That’s especially true if you’re among those who don’t agree with or care for a powerful person’s agenda. From that perspective, they may seem like a Lex Luthor style super-villain. To them, someone with that kind of power can only ever be up to no good.

To their supporters, though, that same person is basically a messiah. They hold the hopes and dreams of an entire people in their hands. They aren’t just willing to follow that person into battle. They’re probably willing to sleep with them as well. There’s a reason why powerful cult leaders often have a lot of sex.

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That attraction isn’t just reserved for men, either. Women can also gain a special level of allure from power. They don’t have to be a cult leader. They can just be an influential celebrity. It’s one thing for some ordinary woman to demand that someone get down on their knees and lick the dirt off their shoes. However, if Madonna or Taylor Swift made that demand, more than a few people would probably line up to do it.

Regardless of how earned or undeserved that power might be, the forces behind the attraction are the same. A powerful person, be they a world leader or a celebrity, is going to have more advantages when it comes to influence others, regardless of whether or not their goal involves sleeping with them.

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There are plenty of reasons why so many fall under that spell, but a few stand out more than most. A powerful person may have the physical sex appeal of a bloated George Costanza, but they can more than make up for it by providing some very attractive benefits such as:

  • Protection from physical violence or personal loss
  • Status within a community by simple association
  • Advantages that allow someone to subvert or undercut laws or social norms
  • Resources for one’s self and their family
  • Opportunities to exert influence and pursue personal goals
  • Opportunities to create stronger social networks

By any measure, a powerful person is in a position provide someone with everything they need to survive, reproduce, and live their lives in some degree of comfort. A powerful person doesn’t have to be physically attractive. They just have to be physically capable of providing those benefits to a sizable group of people.

It plays directly into our collective survival instincts, which may very well be the only instinct more powerful than our sex drive. From an evolutionary standpoint, it follows a logical progression. First, we have to ensure that we’re alive and in one piece. Then, we can focus on getting sex and passing on our genes.

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Hooking up with a powerful figure is basically a two-for-one deal in the evolutionary game. Some may even go so far as to call it cheating and I wouldn’t disagree with that sentiment. However, when you consider how much men like Harvey Weinstein and John F. Kennedy got away with, it’s hard to argue with results.

Even as powerful people make the news for all the wrong reasons, a part of us is still going to be attracted to them. It’s a part of ourselves we may hate, to some extent, but in the same way we find ourselves affected by professional trolls, it’s hard to escape. Even as we advance our bodies and minds through technology, we may never escape it.

Now, I’ve argued before that we need to upgrade our brains through technology in order to transcend our tribal tendencies to hate and attack one another. I still believe that’s an imperative. However, even if Elon Musk manages to become a trillionaire by helping us all upgrade our brains to super-human levels, these same forces that make powerful people attractive will remain.

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No matter how advanced we become, both as a society and as a species, survival will always be a concern. So long as there are ways for individual people to become powerful within that system, they will always be attractive on a basic level.

At the same time, though, these same powerful people are also major factors in guiding our species forward. Without them, we probably wouldn’t have made the kind of progress we have to date. Like so many other things in this unfair world, you take the good with the bad. In the spirit of Presidents Day, I say we celebrate the good and continue working to minimize the bad.

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Filed under gender issues, human nature, sex in media, sex in society, sexuality

United Nations Ditches Wonder Woman Because She’s Too Sexy

Growing up, I’ve learned to see excuses the same way I see zits and hangovers. I hate that they’re there. They’re often unavoidable. There are very few good ones, if any, and the best we can do is make a concerted effort to avoid them.

That said, there are a few particular excuses that make me want to punch the nearest brick wall and throw a brick through the nearest window. Within the top five of those excuses, and there are times when it’s at the very top, is the one that amounts to something like this:

“She’s just too sexy to take seriously.”

Read that sentence again. Try to read it with a straight face, as hard a task at that might be. Under what circumstances does that excuse make sense? Under what circumstances does it not warrant punching someone in the dick? It’s hard to come up with one off the top of my head.

Unfortunately, the fine folks at the United Nations, as in the same organization that has failed miserably to stop massacres, genocides, and child sex trafficking, decided to use that infuriating excuse when they dropped Wonder Woman as their ambassador for women and girls.

I wish this were a joke. I wish this were one of my crazy thought experiments. This is really happening. The United Nations and in all their inept, prudish wisdom, responded to a petition that made this argument:

“A large-breasted white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee-high boots” is not an appropriate spokeswoman for gender equity at the United Nations.

Yes, they really said that. Apparently, a woman who has large breasts and doesn’t dress like a nun on Christmas is not appropriate. A woman who is beautiful and sexy is somehow disqualified from being a symbol of freedom and empowerment to women and girls. I guess it would be just too traumatic for women and girls to be inspired by someone that might actually look good naked.

Since this is probably too much for certain folks at the United Nations, or those who put together this bullshit petition, to understand, let me address a few of their concerns.

Has Wonder Woman ever told girls that they have to look as good as her? Hell no!

Has Wonder Woman ever told girls they have to be sexual in a certain way? Hell no!

Has Wonder Woman ever told girls they have to dress in sexy clothes to be empowered? Hell no!

With this in mind, how the hell is a badass warrior women who protects the innocent and fights injustice not worthy of being a role model to girls everywhere?

I’m trying to wrap my head around this. I’m trying to be polite about it. I can only try so hard, I’m afraid.

Now I understand there are some repressive, overtly patriarchal cultures in the world where women have just a few additional rights over dogs and pets. In those cultures, a woman showing her ankles is akin to Madonna shaving her pubic hair during the Super Bowl halftime show.

I’ve even tried to put this kind of repression into a context when I revealed the inner-workings of a misogynistic man. There are some powerful, non-political forces driving misogyny in this world and they don’t need some vast, patriarchal conspiracy to support. A lot of this sentiment comes down to economics, health, and social norms that govern how men seek sex from women and how women respond to those efforts.

However, none of those forces factored into this decision. None even showed up in the petition, which around 45,000 people signed. To put that into context, over 60,000 people bought the November 2016 issue of Wonder Woman. Even if you suck at math, you know the difference between those two numbers is not trivial.

The primary argument in this petition is that Wonder Woman is too much of a pin-up girl. Too many men want to have sex with her. Too many men fantasize about her. How can she possibly be a role model to young women and girls all over the world?

There’s a very simple answer to that question. I’ll try to frame it in the least vulgar way possible. It goes something like this:

“WHAT THE FUCK DOES BEING SEXY HAVE TO DO WITH BEING A GODDAMN ROLE MODEL?”

I’m sorry. That really was the least vulgar way I could’ve said that. Anything else would’ve risked a fine from the FCC.

I don’t doubt that Wonder Woman is beautiful. By almost every objective standard, she wields above-average beauty. Given her origin, which involves Greek Gods and divine forces, that makes perfect sense. Even in ancient mythology, beauty is kind of a big deal. Just ask Helen of Troy.

Beyond her origins though, Wonder Woman’s beauty is rarely an issue in terms of what she does and how she carries herself. She doesn’t flaunt her sexuality. She doesn’t distract her enemies by flashing her tits or something. She’s a warrior. She comes from a culture of warriors. That’s how she fights injustice and she’s been doing it since 1942.

To call Wonder Woman just another pin-up girl isn’t just insulting to her. It’s insulting to the actual pin-up girls within the comic book world. I’m not just talking about Starfire either, a character whose sex-positive persona would probably make the UN faint in horror.

Ladies, gentlemen, and those of unspecified gender, I give you Power Girl.

Notice anything distinct about her appearance? Maybe a couple of things?

If that’s not enough, here’s Emma Frost of the X-men.

Still not convinced? Well here’s another female hero named Vixen. Seriously, that’s her actual name.

See the pattern here? Do I really need to explain why these women qualify as pin-up girls? Hell, Emma Frost was an actual stripper at one point. Power Girl has actually used her big boobs to her advantage at times. These are female characters that channel their sexuality for justice and it’s a beautiful thing. Apparently, the UN just doesn’t appreciate such beauty.

Even so, that’s still a bullshit excuse to lump Wonder Woman in the same category. There are characters who do use their sexuality as a tactic of sorts. Wonder Woman does not. She is a warrior. She’ll fight an army of Nazis, zombies, and aliens before she even pretends to show a nipple.

Women who use their sexuality as a weapon have been part of our society for centuries. Just ask Cleopatra. However, even in the 21st century, our asses still clench at the thought of a woman just having the potential to use such a weapon. What’s that say about the state of women and how we approach women’s issues?

Regardless of United Nation’s bullshit excuses, Wonder Woman is still an icon. She’s still a role model. She still embodies so many of the traits we associate with the strengths of women and femininity. If that’s not enough for the United Nations, then that’s their problem.

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