Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Last year, I was sitting butt naked in a German sauna with various men of various ages and sizes. I was at my local gym; that evening the swimming pool was inaccessible as there were women taking aqua aerobics classes there.
One man complained about this as we sat in the sauna.
He mocked the women, trying to draw chuckles from us. He said they needed to be assisted in moving their asses. He insinuated they were infants, or physically disabled and in need of guided care. I saw them as mothers and women with weight problems taking one damn hour for themselves to work on their health. They deserved those classes, that space in the pool, and that self-care.
I looked over at the man (carefully, because I didn’t want to look like I was staring in a sauna and cause people to get the wrong idea) and saw he was overweight, I had to bite my tongue to not blurt out: “Hey you look like you need such a class, buddy!”
Then I realized: most of the time I’ve heard a woman being criticized or shamed about her weight, it’s nearly always been a man doing it. And not only that, he’s been overweight himself or struggling with this issue.
Psychologists describe ‘projection’ as one person projecting their feelings, desires and opinions onto others as a defense mechanism.
Within a patriarchy, mediocre men project on women they encounter.
Fast forward to a few months ago, I announced I was pregnant to a relative of my partner. He chimes in almost immediately with “Ha ha, how are you going to manage with that weight in the summer time?!”
He may have seen it as a friendly dig, but I saw it as not only a limp fisted attempt at humor doused in misogyny. But also, I saw he was actually speaking about himself. I wanted to ask him how he manages with his huge beer belly in the summer heat, but settled for cutting off contact.
I’ve been gifted with being skinny all my life. Even pregnant I resemble a watermelon thief with my skinny arms and swollen belly. I’ve had zero issues with any weight I’ve gained; every kilo is good for my baby.
I’ve also grown up watching my mother and other people I love struggling with their weight, counting calories, fretting about what people think, taking abuse and being shamed for something that they feel helpless about. And usually by men who themselves looked like they were not many years away from heart attack.
Why are women shamed by fat men for having weight? It's projection. Women naturally have bodies that hold more fat, which makes sense in terms of evolution. The male body is more muscular and from an evolutionary perspective isn’t supposed to be fat.
Another major patriarchal projection? Slut shaming women.
For an art project I researched how many English and German curse words there are for women. So far, I’ve collected around 50. Many of them are used to describe a woman as slutty, loose, easy or to insinuate she’s prostitute.
The funny thing is, women aren’t the gender that actually acts slutty or loose.
Men pay for sex; they need it more than women.
Men want sex so bad they spike women‘s drinks and recently have even started injecting victims in nightclubs.
Men harass and catcall women on the street.
They sexually assault and rape girls and women regardless of age, clothing, or circumstance. Men make laws to force women to cover up because they can’t control themselves.
Men have religions that cater to their sexual needs, giving him access to a wife, making it her duty to have sex and to have his babies.
She is often bound by chastity, yet he is free to be the real slut. How many women have gone their whole lives without having an orgasm?
Men strive to have sex, to be desirable. This is for most women, a given. We are mostly desired, pursued and offered sex.
Who are the real sluts if men are always doing the pursuing?
Regardless of what country or which time in history, the patriarchy is unable to escape one cold, hard, fact: a man will never have the intrinsic biological value a girl or woman naturally has. She is not loose or promiscuous, he is.
The patriarchy thrives on lies and projections. Once you wake up to it you start to see it everywhere. And only then you can start the work of dismantling it.