In architecture, a pediment is the nifty triangular thing that goes above the columns on classical Greek temple fronts (and alllllll the architectural styles that later mimicked that imagery). You know: it’s the bit on the real or fake pedestals.
I want to talk to you about pedestals, but not the real ones. Let’s talk about the pedestals that some folks claim to put their partners on – and why that’s a huge red flag.
It sounds pretty great, though, doesn’t it? “I put my lovers on a pedestal.” Sounds like “I worship them” or “I look up to them.” But it’s not. It’s “I don’t want to interact with my lovers as though they were humans, or be bothered by anything that isn’t my ideal image of what they should be like.”
When someone says they’re putting you on a pedestal, here’s what it means:
- They don’t intend to interact with you as an equal. In fact, it would be better if you just shut up and let them continue to project their image of you.
- They expect you to be grateful for their “worship” which may take the form of gifts or gestures that you don’t find meaningful or may actively dislike. Expressing anything but gratitude may result in you being branded “high maintenance” or “cruel.”
- They don’t want to be contradicted about anything, especially their vision of you. If you have your own likes or dislikes or interests outside of their vision, they will consider those individuations “defects.”
- They expect you not to challenge their own perfection: after all, everything they are doing is for you, why are you so ungrateful for it?
I know that doesn’t sound much like worship. In fact, it kinda sounds like you’re supposed to be worshipping them, doesn’t it? Hate to tell you, but that’s the thing encoded in “I put my lovers on a pedestal” – it’s a reverse Pygmalion effect. I mean, I think it would be great if Pygmalion and Galatea lived happily ever after, but I strongly suspect that as soon as she wanted something he didn’t want her to want, he started treating her like shit.
It’s at the base of a lot of incel and MGTOW bullshit, too. (Link to wehuntedthemammoth for folks somehow still unfamiliar with the terms. This is a deep rabbit hole. Wear waders and prepare to bathe in bleach afterward, even through the sanitizing filter of WHtM perceptions.) “Why won’t women just be GRATEFUL for the attention WE want to give them, the WAY we want? Why do they have to be actual people with actual preferences that we might have to pay attention to?”
Here’s the thing: That pedestal feels great when you’re climbing up onto it. It takes a while to realize that you can’t actually be seen up there. But don’t you deserve to be seen, and appreciated, for all of yourself rather than a foreshortened and idealized view? I think you deserve it.