March 8 is Women’s Day (and the rest of the year are whose – men’s?) although popular practice is it’s celebrated throughout the month. It gives us something to do at least, like giving us one more reason to write something on our calendars, block the month off for women. Whatever that means. But count on businesses for action. March 8, my daughter and I visited the kids section of an SM Department Store and when we finally went up to the counter to pay, the cashier asked if I wanted to add some more stuff because for a PHP3,000 one-time purchase I could get a 20% discount on the total. I had with me just a few hair accessories – their worth, not even close to PHP500. I was, what, you’re recommending that I spend six times of this, today, pronto? Absolutely not! But, of course, this was just in my mind, and that my actual reaction was polite – no thank you. Every Wednesday of March, the promo is offered in SM Department Stores. Just for women.
Anyway. Where was I? The photo. It points to the duality of the impact of men’s admiration and advances toward women, in that the experience is on one hand exhilirating, encouraging, and affirming and on the other hand annoying and threatening. Why is this? Using my reaction to the retail promo as example, one’s reaction to a situation doesn’t happen because it just happens. There are variables at work. Let’s look at the photo. First, the treatment. Women (men too) know instinctively what to them is good and bad treatment. The woman in the photo obviously has anxiety written on her face. Second, the place. The street has become something like the wilds where animals group and lie in wait for their next meal. The street has become the stage where omegas strut their stuff and pat each other on the back. The men, on the other hand, come off as a pathetic bunch. In the final analysis, both are in need of rescue.
About the artist: Leon Levinstein, according to the New York Times, “died in 1988. He had few friends and dressed like the ragged street people he photographed. But with camera in hand, he became intimately engaged with humanity.”