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Pretty or Smart? How To Offend A Woman

About a week ago, myself and a fellow colleague made our way downtown to interview one of our favourite bands that was performing in Toronto that night. We had put a lot of thought and effort into the interview, even getting the performers song-themed treats. We were excited up until we got an unexpected comment during the interview, which turned the whole thing into a disappointing experience. Instead of asking the same typical questions about fan girls and festivals, we wanted to ask more personal and philosophical questions that we thought reflected the artist’s own perception of themselves and the music they put out. We asked things like: Are you a product of your own fabrication or the product of pop cultures fabrication? What does happiness mean to you? What is your biggest fear?  

It’s not like they were the deepest questions. However, the lead singer of the band seemed caught off guard and repeatedly said that he wasn’t expecting questions like these. His exact words at one point were: “I wasn’t expecting questions like this from girls dressed like you.” After the words left his mouth and I pointed out how offensive his implication was he became flustered and tried to cover up. Instead he just made it worse by saying: “You’re dressed nicely. You’re a pretty girl. I’m going to have certain stereotypes about you”.

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What was he implying? That women can only be either pretty or smart? God forbid, a woman be more than just her looks or have a brain but also like fashion.  Yes, I am a blonde. Yes, I wear the occasional crop top.  Yes, I adore shopping and think Helmut Lang is one of the best things that has ever happened to the fashion world. But I am also a soon to be University of Toronto graduate.  I’ve read Plato and John Locke more times than I can count and am going to law school in the fall.

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Woman, in any field, have the capacity to be both smart and pretty. Being successful in any career, whether it be academic, fashion, or music, requires ambition, dedication and perseverance. These are qualities that belong to beautiful AND smart women all over the world. We can both adore Coco Chanel and Christopher Hitchens at the same time. Men do not have a monopoly on diversity and depth. Compartmentalizing women into rigid stereotypes and categories does not reflect badly on us but on the perpetrators that objectify us in that manner.  

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At the end of the interview, it was clear that he felt very bad for his remarks and apologized profusely but the damage was done. We went to the show that night with a bitter taste in our mouths. Since then I haven’t been able to listen to the band’s music anymore and I can confidently say that I would not buy a ticket to their next show. So although I might not have fit his stereotype of the dumb blonde, he definitely shattered my image of him as a wise and philosophical artist. Instead, he fit the age old stereotype of narcissistic musician perfectly.  

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I guess we all need to start to believe when people say: never judge a book by its cover. 

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