Responding to GoGreen’s Cleavage Criticism Response

A Youtuber that has received a fair share of attention from the online atheist community over the past few months is GoGreen18, or Laci. Laci’s YouTube popularity was given a good jolt after her video on why atheists care about religious people’s beliefs was plugged by such popular blogs as Pharyngula. In her most recent video she responds to some criticisms that she has received in viewer comments regarding her showing of cleavage.

I respond to her rebuttal below.

Let me begin by saying that I’m a pretty liberal guy. However, I don’t know that I’m against Laci being criticized – depending on what precisely the criticism is. Laci says in the video that she should be able to show some cleavage if she wants to. Granted. I can accept that. But if she has the freedom to show cleavage, shouldn’t others have the freedom to criticize her for doing so? After all, their criticism does not stop her from showing said cleavage.

Next, I can’t say that I know why each and every girl who shows cleavage does this in each particular instance of cleavage presentation. But it seems pretty clear that Laci wants her cleavage to be seen. It is plainly visible in probably around half of her videos. Moreover, it was never a necessity for it to be shown. Considering the high-rotation of Laci’s cleavage’s cameo appearances in her videos along with the strong tendency for her to be fairly dolled up in many of her videos, it appears that she was trying to present an attractive picture of herself. One that would get not just attention, but positive attention.

Now lets just be honest here. Laci is a relatively attractive girl. If we ran a bell curve, she’d be on the plus side of the normal distribution. That means that according to most people who are attracted to women, there are more females who are less attractive than Laci than there are females that are more attractive than her.

So when she or any attractive person clearly and deliberately emphasizes that which makes people find them attractive, they can be viewed as being attention and adoration seeking show-offs. Similarly, an intelligent person who always made it a point of highlighting their great intelligence to others – say by constantly referencing their academic accomplishments – could be subject to similar accusations.

If people are free to demonstrate adoration, attraction and so on, and I’m not familiar with Laci making a special response video for these people, why can’t others respond negatively? I won’t stand by all the negative responses – far from it. I would imagine that many of them could be rationally argued against – e.g., no one has any idea if she is sexually promiscuous. But I would also imagine that at the core of the motivation behind many of the criticisms is a sense of insecurity and bitterness on the part of the criticizer. And I don’t blame them. It is a fact of life that people who are more attractive get many more rewards than than people who are less attractive. And so when people like Laci emphasize what makes them attractive to most in what seems to be a clear effort to gain access to some of these rewards (e.g., positive attention), it can understandably be hurtful to people who feel that they do not have access to this valued social resource that she has and is making significant visible usage of. And, for the record, I’m not intending to insult criticizers by saying this. I’m just stating a reality, or what I see as a reality. I’m also encouraging genuine sympathy, understanding and consideration.

Another thing I have a brief response to is Laci’s visual reductio ad absurdum, where she asks if critics expect her or would rather she bundled up as if it were the dead of winter and she was about to head outside. Obviously, none of the critics would have expected or wanted this of her. Even a turtleneck, which she alluded to, would have been exceeding most of their expectations. I was going to start listing clothing options that most people would consider to be “reasonable” with regard to not showing off but also not selling yourself short, but I would imagine that I could leave that to most of our imaginations given that most readers here will be from a Western culture. We won’t all agree exactly, but there will probably – in most cases – be enough agreement that we’ll be able to agree most of the time when we think that a person is going out of their way to flaunt. And I think that this really is the big thing here. That she appears to have been going out of her way to show off. Most people wouldn’t expect her to go out of her way to hide her attractive features – e.g., buying extra baggy clothing, covering her face or only making videos right after she got out of bed – but some will find it frustrating when she does the opposite.

Why would critics be frustrated by someone going out of their way to get the world’s sexual/romantic attention? I would imagine that they’re probably just bitter because she flaunts it and insodoing, implicitly reminds those less secure in their appearance (and others who are secure but are sympathetic to others that are not) that this salient person *is* attractive, and she *knows* it, and society is going to reward her for it in ways that it will not reward most others, and she’s seeing fit that she maximizes her rewards. Just as I can see why an attractive person would want to optimize their social benefits, I can readily see why people who view themselves as less attractive would be frustrated by it, and why others would be frustrated on their behalf.

Lastly, just as I defended the right of critics to criticize – again, it doesn’t stop her from doing what she is being criticized for, and the social rewards seem to more than keep up with the negative consequences – I similarly defend her right to respond to the critics. These were just some of my thoughts on her response.

Should Sexual Modesty Be Emphasized More In Our Unwritten Cultural Code of Politeness?

Perhaps more people should be more modest in their display of their seductive features simply out of consideration. Just as it can be offensive to some when others emphasize how smart they are, how rich they are, how popular they are, how much better they are than other people at X, and so on, it can be offensive when people who are relatively attractive and seem to know it show this off. Perhaps, just as it is considered common courtesy to not rub your wealth in other people’s faces, the same could be requested with regard to physical attractiveness. This is not a statement encouraging any sort of officially enforced legal rules or anything remotely close to this, so much as it is an encouragement for the parameters of common courtesy to be expanded and recognized in another domain. But at the end of the day, just as the intelligent person is free to boast, the attractive person is free to strut their stuff. But, like any other person perceived to be a show-off – and of course, there will always be unfortunate misunderstandings – they shouldn’t be surprised if they receive a criticism here and there. The criticism may not always be just or accurate, and it can be rebutted, but perhaps there shouldn’t be such outrage that there was a criticism at all.

Of course, there will be many who disagree with this perspective on consideration, as many of us just love to check out the attractive people. At the core of any solution to this issue is an emphasis on sensitivity, understanding, and consideration for the rights and feelings of each other.

Feel free to put your thoughts – positive or critical. Unlike religious dissenters of my posts – which, through way too much experience of futile frustration, mental exertion and unwarranted time-wasting, I tend not to reply to too often anymore – this discussion seems to be one that could actually go somewhere.

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