Who’s Accountable for What “Pretty” Means Today?

Does the death of pretty also mean the death of personal accountability?

I read a blog post a friend posted to Facebook  about a month ago and I have been thinking about it ever since.


In the blog post, the author mourns the loss of the publicly projected innocence women used to aspire to and concludes that “years of women’s liberation has succeeded only in turning women into a commodity”. He writes that in the past, “many beautiful women, whatever the state of their souls, still wished to project a public innocence and virtue”. He immediately follows this statement with, “By nature, generally when men see this combination in women it brings out their better qualities, their best in fact.  That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it”. Instead of wanting to be pretty, he argues, women want to be hot. He writes, “When women want to be hot instead of pretty, they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well”.  Instead of wanting to “protect and defend” as a result of pretty, men want to “consume” and “use” as a result of hot.

Initially, I agreed with parts of what the author wrote. I don’t think our society values innocence as much as it used to. However, in many discussions about what ails society today, the concept of personal accountability seems to be disregarded.

Arguing that a projected innocence will change men’s behavior and solve societies’ morality issues is like dousing yourself in cologne or perfume and refusing to take a bath.  In response to this post, one commenter stated that “Girls need to know you can look pretty and innocent and still have a little sexy look, with a few tiny things”.

The social standards of acceptable behavior may have changed, but that doesn’t mean personal accountability has to. Later the author writes that, “Of course men play a role in this as well, but women should know better and they once did.” I agree that women should know better. However, men should know better too. Do they not possess any ability to influence women to respect themselves? Do they not have the ability to exercise self-control or is their behavior completely dependent upon a woman’s choices? That kind of sentiment should be rather insulting to men.

Men who hold themselves to a higher standard will protect and defend all women- regardless of the “state of her soul” and certainly not conditional upon the image she publicly projects. Women who hold themselves to a higher standard will not merely aspire to “project” an innocence. Their goodness is not a means to capture or control another person’s choices. I have never felt like the women I look up to try to “project” any of the qualities I so admire. Those traits radiate from them because that is who they are, although they may be imperfect.

Although the author states that “Our problem is that society doesn’t value innocence anymore, real or imagined”, his previous comments may lead one to believe that our problem is actually that women don’t value projected innocence anymore.

A big problem with society today is that people don’t take responsibility for their own actions. I believe that people act for themselves and are not merely acted upon.

—by MR


4 thoughts on “Who’s Accountable for What “Pretty” Means Today?

  1. GoodReason says:

    I think there’s also the question of what do women think that men find desirable? In our porn-saturated culture, with so many men using that awful stuff on a daily basis, I think it is inevitable that women begin to suspect that men will only find them desirable if they resemble what the men see in porn. And you cannot get women to stop wanting men to desire them (and vice versa), especially in a context where women have such little economic and political power compared to men, and so are, in many ways, made dependent on them.

  2. Chad says:

    Well said. I hope my sons will always see the good in women and that they will take responsibility for their own thoughts and not place the blame on others.

  3. Victoria Fox says:

    I read the article, and I think the whole pretty vs. hot argument is off. Why should women “have to be” anything other than what they are? He’s arguing that women are trying to fit into the wrong box, when the real argument is why they feel they have to shove themselves into a box in the first place.

  4. Lauren says:

    The whole women being hyper-sexualized thing is a result of patriarchal backlash to the women’s movement anyways. But, things weren’t better when women were pretty and innocent. They are still merely objects to men either way.

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