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Woman Believes 'Pretty Privilege' Is The Reason Women Get Harassed

Photo: rfstudio / Pexels 
women sitting together on a couch

A Twitter-user named Misha started a rapid-fire debate on the platform, focusing on the intersection of gender, safety, and beauty in women’s lives.

According to her worldview, women get harassed solely because of how attractive they are, rather than because of the extremely gendered imbalances of power that pervade society, which put women in harm’s way just for existing.

The woman believes that ‘pretty privilege’ is the sole underlying reason why women get harassed. 

Misha posted a video titled, “POV: [You’re] a girl pumping gas alone.” It seems as though the woman in the video is not her; she’s using another woman’s video in an attempt to prove her point.

The post features a young woman at a gas station, filling up her tank as she looks around anxiously. The text overlaid on the post describes how the woman is “immediately analyzing everything,” when she “notices a truck going slow and staring.” 

The recorded footage shows the woman getting back into her car and locking the doors, noting that she “quickly leaves even when it’s not filled up all the way.”

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Misha offered her own analysis on the post, stating, “You cannot convince me "pretty privelege" [sic] is real when this happens everyday. Sometimes you really wish you were mid because of the safety boost it provides.”

Spelling errors aside, Misha is arguing that pretty privilege doesn’t actually exist, because being pretty directly translates into a level of harassment that other women– women deemed “mid,” or unattractive, don’t receive. 

Photo: Aryane Vilarim / Pexels 

“Pretty privilege,” also known as “the beauty premium,” is the idea that people who fit neatly into conventional definitions of what’s considered attractive tend to receive preferential treatment in society. Those privileges can take various forms, including higher wages, greater employment opportunities, and increased social and cultural capital.

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Misha takes the stance that pretty women can’t possibly reap advantages from fitting into stereotypes of conventional attractiveness, when being pretty is what makes you innately unsafe in a patriarchal society, rather than just existing as a woman, at all. She seems to believe that pretty women experience harm, fear, and a lack of bodily safety that other women are shielded from, by virtue of not being “pretty enough” to be a target of harassment. 

Pretty privilege might come with some downsides, but denying that it exists isn’t helpful to anyone, let alone any woman who's ever felt unsafe, or been the victim of violence. 

The idea that pretty privilege doesn’t exist hinges on a misguided sense of how privilege and power function in society. 

The National Association of School Psychologists published a paper titled “Understanding Race and Privilege,” in which the concept of privilege is broken down into multiple components.

According to their definition, part of having privilege is receiving valuable and valued advantages that are given without being earned, and restricted to certain groups of people. 

NASP maintains that privilege is problematic when it consciously or unconsciously works to uphold systemic barriers that deny equitable access to resources, social status and other necessities. When unchecked, privilege can actively harm others, depending on how it is wielded.

RELATED: Pretty Privilege Is The Most Useless Privilege

The argument that pretty privilege isn’t real because only pretty women experience being unsafe is based on a false equivalence.

Misha’s belief system upholds the idea that pretty women are the only people in danger of experiencing bodily harm, which ignores the root of gender-based violence. It’s not about sex or attractiveness, at all. It’s about how oppression and power manifest in a misogynist society

Her take on gender-based oppression had many men calling her out in the comments for being “mid,” which proves the point that harassment has nothing to do with beauty. It has to do with people using their power to cause pain.

One woman responded to Misha’s tweet by dismantling her argument piece by piece. FIrst, she explained the proper spelling for the word “privilege.” 

Then, she explained that “the root of the problem is not that she's pretty, it's that she's femme and that most men have an underlying patriarchal monologue that permits and allows misogyny and misogynoir based violence. This type of misinformation leads to misogyny based violence to be perpetuated, faulted on victims again and permits this type of ideology.”

Being the victim of assault, abuse, or violence has nothing to do with whether the perpetrator finds that person attractive. The violence has everything to do with exerting control and maintaining power.

To claim it occurs because a person is viewed as physically valuable is a myth that solely denies women’s experiences and perpetuates the unbelievably dangerous narrative that when women are hurt, it is somehow always our fault.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social justice issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.