What men think of women who light up
Men don’t like women who smoke. An infamous Virginia Slims ad from 1968 declares, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” with a ravishing girl celebrating women’s liberation with a cigarette in her shapely fingers. What is that supposed to mean? That smoking is to liberation what Imran Khan is to cricket? Some quick questioning of a few men made it clear to me that most men’s view of women smokers is that the act of doing so is unladylike. One young man asked why I was categorising male and female smokers separately as the lungs are damaged equally. Food for thought.
It’s quite simple actually. Every civilised society has an unwritten code of ethics which strongly discriminate the sexes on various matters. That accounts for the rising tide of libbers fighting for their rights (mostly women’s rights). What is clear is that there is a dichotomy in the minds of men, about things that men do and things that women do. Surprisingly, the most unflattering impressions of women smokers came from the younger men. “I wouldn’t date a girl who smokes!” a 17-year-old boy told me. Women smokers are unromantic, unfeminine, revolting and vulgar. A medical student said, “Whenever I see a gorgeous girl lighting a smoke, I’m turned off.” Men seem to have a particular contempt for women who do not conform to their ideal.
Men associate women with virtue, frailty, and the likes of a mushy Indian film heroine no. The irony is that none of these men who abhor women smokers seem to show concern about the health and well-being of females. Their chief concern is bad breath and rotting teeth, because they reduce femininity. Some men were of the opinion that women want to appear sophisticated so they smoke. One man stated that when he sees a woman smoking, he thinks she is doing so because she is upset. Men also label women smokers as being ‘fast’. She must be ‘that’ kind of girl, if she has a smoke in her hand. Not only men, but lots of women also demerit their sisters who smoke. How or when this concept developed is anybody’s guess. It’s here and will stay. A good girl does not smoke. Today she’s smoking; tomorrow, God knows what she’ll do. So forget about looking like a modern-day Bette Davis shrouded in a mysterious cloud of smoke.