A guy I kind of know and his girlfriend, who I don't know, were discussing a study about blind women in relationships and this guy made an innocent, satirical remark about how blind women in movies and on TV are always really hot. His girlfriend got really mad because he "called other women hot", and they fought about it for over an hour.
The anecdote was supplemented with another, where the couple in question was watching Mad Men and, when Christina Hendricks appeared on screen as Joan Holloway, the girlfriend shut off the TV and complained, "I can tell you were attracted to her!"
That is out of order. I'm not singling this couple out because you do run into this sort of thing every now and then, but it got me thinking about how absurd it is.
Some married friends of mine disagree, saying, "You can't really talk about how hot women are to your woman -- not even if she starts talking about how hot women are."
I'm sorry, but there should not be a hanging question in your girlfriend or wife's mind as to whether there are women in the world hotter than her. And vice versa for men -- what is she going to say if you ask if George Clooney or Tyrese Gibson is hotter than you? "Um, no…?"
Obviously things work a little differently if you say something stupid like, "Hey, girlfriend/boyfriend, I think your best friend is hot!" But celebrities should always be fair game for hotness remarks. Are couples supposed to wear blinders when they discuss subjects like fashion or drama or music or photography and pretend everyone else in the world is functionally faceless and formless? Come on. We like watching Mad Men, we don't live in Mad Men.
My girlfriend and I regularly discuss the hotness of celebrities. I've joked that I would totally leave her for Salma Hayek or Dana Delany. But for some reason my girlfriend does not actually believe Salma Hayek or Dana Delany could, by some astronomically unlikely set of circumstances, literally step out of the television and into our world and say, "Andy Khouri, I beg you to leave your human girlfriend and join me in a two-dimensional high-definition unreality of exquisite pleasures you could never begin to imagine."
These women are beautiful but they might as well be fictional characters, pin-up photos on coasters or drawings on a cave wall. We don't exist in the same reality, and my girlfriend couldn't care less how hot I think they are and I couldn't care less how hot she thinks any male celebrity is. It's just a conversation.
Things get sillier when you bring actual fictional characters into it, especially fictional characters on shows like Mad Men, where Christina Hendricks was cast as Joan precisely because hotness is a function of the character. What if you're watching Mad Men and you see all the guys falling all over themselves for Joan and all the women being envious of Don Draper's wife, are you supposed to say, "I understand that in the fictional universe in which Mad Men takes place, Joan is considered desirable because of her breasts and hips, which she possesses in greater volume than other women in said fictional universe, and/or that Don Draper is rich and confidant and possesses more traditionally 'handsome' features than other men in his immediate vicinity and it is within that context that I can understand why the characters' behavior is dramatic and/or humorous and/or ironic"?
When that guy's girlfriend angrily said to him, "I can tell you are attracted to Christina Hendricks!" the proper response was not to argue about it, but to stand up straight, point his finger in her face and declare proudly, "YOU'RE GOD DAMN RIGHT I'M ATTRACTED TO CHRISTINA HENDRICKS!"
There's a lot to be said about our depraved society and its perverted obsession with appearances, youth and physically impossible standards of beauty. But I'm assuming that if you're reading my blog, you don't generally fall prey to those cultural pathologies and understand what I'm getting at: We live in a world full of beautiful and talented people and to occasionally remark upon one person's qualities can't be read as an exclusion of anybody else's. We're all with our spouses or partners or romantic companions because we love them and we think they're beautiful inside and out, and we should all know our spouses or partners or romantic companions feel the same way about us. If your spouse or partner or romantic companion says something flattering about a person on TV that makes you question that belief, then there might be something wrong with you - but probably not with how you look.