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The Shrink-In-Violet: Session 4, Male Validation

Illustration by Emily Perkins

Hi Shrink-In-Violet,

How do I overcome the crippling omnipresent need for male validation?


My dearest reader,

You present me with a question even the greats have failed to answer. Forget ‘to be or not to be’; this is the question. Alas, poor reader, I know it well. The punishing pressures of patriarchy. The desire to be wanted. It is a tragedy that perturbs even the most strong-willed of us all.

Even men seek male validation. Think about it, no non-man has ever been impressed by any Snapchat story involving a muscle tank, a flexed bicep, and a dirty mirror. Who are they trying to impress? Methinks the man doth pose too much. But alas, it is us non-men who suffer most from the craving of their approval.

My prayers are with us all. Ah, the Holy Trinity of validation: parental, academic, male. Like the Holy Spirit, the third force is, as one says, omnipresent. But like that unwashed bowl that’s been sitting in your sink for 6 days ‘to soak’, you are all the better for not acting on the desire for male validation.

Is it crippling? Perhaps. Is it a need? Please. You need a man like Oxford needs 10 different bells to notify us of the time. A man is an optional add-on, as seems to be with seasoning on college food. An accessory, not a necessity. Yet oft they are more akin to excess baggage than a Birkin. Like that extra carry-on that Ryanair will charge you £500 for, the benefit is rarely worth the cost.

Biologically speaking, the concept of male validation is quite peculiar. In the wild, males must perform elaborate courtship rituals for the privilege of female attraction. You will never see a female bird of paradise dancing to attract a male. So why are you moving in that manner on the Cheese floor? Don’t let your inner male gaze turn you into an animal. Instead, let your inner animal turn you against the male gaze.

Chasing male validation is like trying to find a seat in the Rad Cam on a weekday at 3pm: a fruitless endeavour. And once you get it, it’s never quite as good as you remembered it. A smile, a compliment, something more. God forbid, you end up dating someone purely for the self-esteem boost.

As a personal friend of Florence Pugh (yes, I met her once; yes, it counts), I can tell you when the likes of Timothee Chalamet* and Harry Styles are out there, dating another mansplaining PPE-ist for the validation is simply not worth it. You do not want to spend the entirety of your first date pretending to listen to him talk about inflation (literally just print more money?). Seeking male attention will only make you yawn, scream, or cry. Or all of those at once, as in the above example.

*if you posted a 20xp quality zoomed in photo of him from about 5 miles away outside the Bod in 5th week last term, please re-evaluate your life choices. If anyone who knows me is reading this and saw the picture of him I posted, no you didn’t.

My advice is start to do things by yourself, for yourself. Exercise because it’s good for your heart, not to break his. Buy that charity shop corset to save it from waste, not to shrink your waist. Take up painting. Read a book. Meditate. An investment in oneself reaps greater profits than any amount of time with an E&M student could.

And remember to build a community with the people around you. Leave no gaps for male validation to bridge. Find fulfilment in your platonic friendships. Make each other playlists, Pinterest boards, poems. Compliment the girl’s earrings that you like. Smile at the person having an essay crisis (though I can’t promise this will elicit a positive response…).

It is of the utmost importance to discover happiness within yourself, and that will reflect on others. Do the things you love, find new things to love, and share that love with everyone.

Oh, and please, do not go to Parkend just to consort with another rake whose name is probably Charles.

With love as always,

Your Shrink-In-Violet


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