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These Boobs. Not Yours.

(Note: This is not a post about all men; relax. It's about the kind of assholes that cannot see women as anything but sexual objects, and don't understand when we object to it.  The "geeze, cantcha take a compliment, bitch?" kind of guys...not to mention the "wow, you're really uptight about this" guys.  ...oh, and the "what's the big deal?" guys.

(um, yeah.)

hugh_mannity 's Boobgate! linking post led to some fascinating (nauseating) reading for me this morning. I read the original post, then the "A Modest Proposal" rebuttal. I was interested by the men who responded with "but kicking a guy in the balls is not the equivalent of asking to feel up a girl's tits!" (uh, if you read both posts, that sentence will make sense).

For the literal-minded, then: 

Of course it's not the same. You really don't have to worry about your balls. But consider the level of emotional response from the people agreeing with the writer - how angry are they about the original thinking and objectification ("we should give out buttons for women that say whether they're willing to be asked if you can feel them up") that the emotional equivalent they come up with is a swift kick in the balls?

Understand, the intent of the original happening was innocent, and if it had been kept private, amongst friends, I wouldn't have a problem with it (as long as no-one asked me to join in). It was the airing of the event, the associated "omg, wonderful boobies!" writing, and the repeated self-justification that women started it, so it's all okay that sits ill with me. A private experience between friends is one thing, but a call for "touch teh boobies, it's great!" gives me the willies. Not to mention the self-satisfaction the author feels when a woman comes up to him and "timidly" asks if she's "good enough" to have her boobs groped. Argh.

Apparently, a lot of people felt the same way, a large number of them female.

But there was, of course, some objection to the "Modest Proposal" post (not much, though - I am very thankful for that, as it means most men get the satire). There was some feeling that the kick was too extreme, and that "the equivalent would be feeling men's crotches". The trouble with that suggestion is that most men would not be averse to having cute women asking to have a "quick rub" - in fact, my experience at the Cons of my youth was that most guys were begging for it without being asked. Aside from the issue that the man gets most of the pleasure in most cases (I don't know many -if any - women who get any particular pleasure from rubbing a random guy's crotch), it is not the physical act that is the equivalent, but the emotional objectification and degradation inherent in that act. Especially with the proposal that it should not be something just that circle of friends do, but that it should be expanded and made available to anyone, with those who wished to participate wearing buttons that say "yes you can".

It's all very well to nobly say "and if someone asks, they have to take no for an answer", but precisely how long would it take for someone to just grab without asking, because the button "said it was okay!"? I used to get felt up on the bus; I wasn't wearing a button there. The issue for the women who disagree is that the default for a lot of men (not just creepy-seeming ones, either) is already "go ahead and touch". No asking, just copping a feel, whether the woman wants it or not. Those men don't understand, and will refuse to acknowledge "no", because they work from an assumption that men have a right to women's bodies.

(Less than 60 years ago, a woman could not sit alone anywhere in public without a man assuming that she would like his company. It was literally impossible for a woman to tell a strange man "I want to sit alone"; he would not comprehend such a statement. While we have changed that, there is still a hell of a lot of possessive behaviour from men exhibited today.)

We don't like this state of affairs. We also don't like being called "bitches" when we object to unwanted sexual propositioning. You want us to be free and comfortable with our bodies? Stop treating our bodies like they're your property.

Men throughout history have not exactly helped us women to be more sexually comfortable - the elevation to sainthood of female virginity, the assumption that a woman who enjoys sexual experiences is a slut, and the whole rape defense of "she was asking for it" have made us women very jumpy over the years. If men assume that any woman who enjoys sex is therefore free to any man who wants her (and there are many men who feel this way - there was a whole movement in the 1960s dedicated to this idea), women get jumpy. The same goes for dressing to show off one's "assets", smiling at strangers, and oh, heck, having the temerity to walk down the street in broad daylight, flaunting one's femaleness by the very act of wearing clothes.

(The nerve of these women!)

The "Modest Proposal" responses had the feel of "finally, someone who gets it!". These aren't psychopathic women looking for a chance to beat and kill, but regular women who have to deal with the burden of being adult females in a male-centric society every day. Being the owner of the boobies that men seem to want so much is often a degrading, objectifying experience - total strangers seem to think that a woman is there for their sexual pleasure alone. Hence the huge number of stories from women who deal with sexual come-ons all the time, and hate it, because along with the sexual come-on is an automatic assumption that it's perfectly normal to say to a woman "Hey. Can I suck your titties?".

When life is a gauntlet of lewdness from men who do not "respect a woman's right to say no", and feel that they "have a right to ask anything they want", then another damn man saying "it would be so great if women would let us feel teh boobies!" makes us want to hurt something.

It makes us angry. All of this makes us angry. It makes us angrier and angrier every time a man refuses to hear that we're saying no. It makes us angry that we can't admit to sexual enjoyment without men thinking we're "easy" and treating us like whores.  It makes us angry when a man takes pleasure in forcing us to passively participate in his sexual thrills. It makes us angry to be told filthy things, propositioned, rubbed on, followed, exposed to nakedness we don't want to see, and it makes us white hot angry when men claim we "like it really".

Oh yes, and we enjoy being assaulted and raped? Forced to do things against our will? Clearly. Screaming is just foreplay.

We women are trained not to fight, to be "ladylike", to be delicate, polite, fluttery, weak, and careful of the feelings of others (men). We are not really like that - we are angry, violent, strong, determined, and dangerous - just like men. The only way we differ is in our standard physical strength, but if you've ever seen two women really fight, you'd know for damn sure that we aren't safe to be around. If you make us angry enough, we will want to hurt you bad.

We usually won't, but that doesn't mean we can't.

But as long as we have to put up with sexual objectification, we will be angry. The problem is that we can't seem to express our anger in a way that will make those clueless men hear us, and really listen to what we have to say.   When we're nice and polite about it, we're blown off as "making a big deal out of nothing", and when we're more forceful, we're "ball-busting feminazis".

Many of us prefer to work from a position of strength, so we put up with the "feminazi" epithet, and make metaphorical jokes about a Swiftian kick to the balls instead of flapping our hands and saying "hey, guys, we're not comfortable with this!".  Take the satire literally, and you've completely missed the point. Think about the level of anger that generated the idea, and you'll be closer to understanding why we have issues with sexually charged propositions from men we're not dating.

In a world where women are constantly objectified, there is no innocence in "may I touch your breasts?" from a stranger. Not ever. 

(BTW, there is no faster way to turn off a woman who is interested in dating you than to say stuff like "nice tits - can I suck on them?".)

Comments

( 77 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
maricelt
Apr. 23rd, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
You want us to be free and comfortable with our bodies? Stop treating our bodies like they're your property.

Touche! (no pun intended)

ETA: I shouldn't have gone to read HollabackNYC. I just want to hurt someone now.

Edited at 2008-04-23 02:14 pm (UTC)
attack_laurel
Apr. 23rd, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
Some of the stories actually made me dizzy with rage. Seriously dizzy.
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kass_rants
Apr. 23rd, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC)
I used to have this friend. He thought he could grab every female friend's ass. This pissed me off to no end. I would routinely turn around and punch him in the solar plexus so hard that he lost his wind. But it didn't stop him.

Then one day he did it to a female friend of ours. And instead of yelling at him or punch him like the rest of us did, he reached back and grabbed his balls.

He never touched her again.

I don't condone this type of reaction, but clearly talking to him, asking him to stop it, screaming at him, and even striking him violently didn't work.

attack_laurel
Apr. 23rd, 2008 01:57 pm (UTC)
And that is the problem. >:(
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patrikia
Apr. 23rd, 2008 01:55 pm (UTC)
I think the emotional equivalent might be to ask to measure their crotches...
attack_laurel
Apr. 23rd, 2008 01:59 pm (UTC)
Some people suggestd that; I think for a lot of us, it doesn't express our anger sufficently. The humiliation, maybe, but not the anger. We try being nice, we try being bitches, and it's still not getting through. Fear is our next weapon.
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cat_itude
Apr. 23rd, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
Well instead of just an "innocent little crotch rub" go for the gusto and grab the balls as well. And then comment on the fact that he "doesn't measure up"

Nasty? Perhaps.
reasie
Apr. 23rd, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
These guys assume all women would be attracted to them, that they are the equivalent of Johnny Depp when they are, in fact, Steve Urkle.

Ask them, when they say they wouldn't mind random women grabbing their asses, if they would want, I don't know... Anne Ramsey hitting doing it?

Bet the answer is no.

*fumes*
cathgrace
Apr. 23rd, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
Before I had kids I was super thin, and super busty, I have never shown cleavage for a reason, I have been shouted at from the street, I have been groped, I have been verbally abused, and when I have protested, I have received a creepy "you know you like it", uhhhhh no I don't. I think it's sad that the few bad guys make it so I look at a cute shirt twice before deciding that the neck line is just that little bit too low, I don't shop for modesty, I shop for "don't molest me" Anyone who doesn't understand the hurt and anger that this causes clearly has never had breasts proceed them into every room they enter for more then half their lives.
damedini
Apr. 23rd, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
I hear ya! I was Barbie doll shaped through my teens and early 20s. It happened suddenly the summer I was 13 and first I had to put up with people asking me for a kleenex (implying I'd 'enhanced' my appearance and thereby demeaning it. And after I got the exact treatment you describe. Everyone wondered why I wore clothing that was more like a tent, and I totally grok why Muslim women embrace the Burqa.
Sadly, now that I feel empowered enough to wear what I want and now feel threatened I no longer have the shape to show in that clothing.
And why is it that the men who think they're Depp are actually Urkell, but the men who feel Urkell-ish are the Depps of the world?
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rufinia
Apr. 23rd, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
I believe that the people who started this.... mess... believe that they would not expect anyone to participate who did not want to. But knowing the geek subculture as I do, I believe that a) there would be women who would particpate because they wouldn't want to be labeled as "sex-negative" or "prudeish". And b) I believe that there are people who either would not ask, or wouldn't take no for an answer.

If there is anything I can rely on, it's that some men will be assholes some of the time, and some men will be assholes all of the time.
attack_laurel
Apr. 23rd, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
That was my thinking - I used to heavily participate in that culture. Low self-esteem is vicious, and all it takes is "don't be such a prude!" to make a girl take off her clothes in a room full of strange men.

That and poor socialization on the part of the men - I got all kinds of comments and assumptions made about me because I wore *boots*. No, I am not easy. No I am not available. No, you can't "accidentally" touch my crotch. >:(
quodscripsi
Apr. 23rd, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
I have to admit that these stories related to this that I just read and the one lady talking about guys masturbating at subway stations and what not seems like something someone made up or a rarified incident. But in many ways I live in a very different world then many of you on the east coast. Heck I was shocked driving through down town DC and seeing women dressed in I guess office attire like on TV. And its not like I have not spent time around oddball groups like amptgard or the SCA. While it would probably seem to many of yall to be improper around here those sorts of things would be met with at minimum a talking to making it very clear that such behavior is not acceptable and that next time the discussion won't have many words with it. Perhaps we have an older fashion sense of propriety but it doesn't bother me much. I can't imagine something like that going on in anything but a private off the wall group.
reasie
Apr. 23rd, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
My sister had a man masturbate in front of her at a train stop here in Cleveland, so it's not just east-coast, these things happen. More if you have to be in public a lot.
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runolfr
Apr. 23rd, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
But there was, of course, some objection to the "Modest Proposal" post (not much, though - I am very thankful for that, as it means most men get the satire). There was some feeling that the kick was too extreme, and that "the equivalent would be feeling men's crotches".

I haven't been in on this mess, but in the case of straight guys, at least, the closest equivalent would probably be to be groped by a gay man -- without permission, of course. Throw that comparison at the "it's innocent" crowd and watch them squirm.
attack_laurel
Apr. 23rd, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
Ooooooooooooo... Wow, you're good.
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ornerie
Apr. 23rd, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
I wonder if part of the response is "look how liberated I am!"

by saying you dont care, you can promote the idea that you're more modern and free thinking than the rest of us uptight puritans.

excuse me while I go adjust my bonnet.... :)
attack_laurel
Apr. 23rd, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
I'm as free-thinking as they come, but until the attitudes towards women who enjoy their bodies changes significantly, "can I touch your breasts?" from anyone except a *very* close friend will be unwelcome. If I could be guaranteed that men will not treat me like a whore, I will let them know how I feel. Until then, I don't even talk about sex stuff with my friends, let alone in public.

Hell, I don't like being casually touched by strangers - that kind of thing is *much* more intimate.

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alina_s
Apr. 23rd, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
Two comments:

1) You can appreciate beauty without touching. I don't feel a need to grope a sculpture in a museum, so why do you want to grope my breasts?

2) In an ideal world*, I suppose folks could go around 'admiring' breasts and touch them in a Completely Nonsexual, Not Even the Least Bit Creepy Way and everybody would be happy. Unfortunately, in the real world, many people (note that I'm not being gender specific here!) are territorial predators who will not hesitate to take a yard when someone gives them an inch. So until you breed the predator tendency out of humanity, keep your idealistic utopia to yourselves.

And I'm leaving out the already-discussed part about impressionable/low self-esteem folks joining in the party just so that they don't feel left out, or feel like people don't like them. *That's* where the predators catch the most prey...

(* You'll note how the high-fallutin' groups that protest the loudest about how all the touching is completely platonic in pursuit of a higher "Ideal" are often the ones that have some of the worst predators lurking under the surface...)
attack_laurel
Apr. 23rd, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
Word. :)
(Deleted comment)
heatermcca
Apr. 24th, 2008 03:08 am (UTC)
I don't think that it's a poor example, at all. My hubby and I when not in public enthusiastically do the grab/fondle bit (omg fencer butt) - but we've each given permission for that, and know and respect the boundaries. In the beginning, we had to establish some, and it could be awkward. F'r'ex, he'd unconciously stroke the side of my breast in public early in our relationship - and I could *tell* that it was unconcious, and based totally in the newness of the physicality, so I wasn't pissed anywhere near so much as I would have been. However he did Get The Talk About That Sort of Thing when we got some privacy (he got the "you just did *what*?!" eyes while we were in the public situation and immediately clued in both that he'd fondled me in public and without permission or even intent to publically fondle me, which reinforced to me that it was unconcious/not conciously meant as a "my woman *ugh*" sort of claiming behavior).

I'll confess to you that had I been in your situation, bf and I would likely not have lasted so long because if someone thinks that my words about my body are ignorable in any way it's way beyond my boundaries for either "okay," or "teachable."
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xntryk
Apr. 23rd, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
These sort of things scare me.

I've been blessed, I guess, with being bigger than the average gal. I could SCA fight, if I wasn't such a weinie (or so busy cooking, heralding, etc). I've always been one of those sorts that tend to be "butch" and ready to self-defend.

However, now that I'm expecting, I'm even more concerned. My body changes are making me feel puny, and the fact that most of my travel writing work is done solo, scares me. On the other hand, I can't imagine not doing my job because I'm scared I might get hurt.

It's difficult.
dorinda2212
Apr. 23rd, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
"but kicking a guy in the balls is not the equivalent of asking to feel up a girl's tits!"

Obviously the person who said that has never had sensitive bewbies...
taamar
Apr. 23rd, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I don't mind being asked... any more than I mind being asked if someone can touch my hair or feel how tiny my hands are. My breasts are just another part of me, no more or less special than any other. Still, just because it's OK with ME doesn't mean every woman should have to deal with it!

The problem with getting men to understand the basic level of threat we live with is that they think 'gee, I wouldn't mind if it were me...' imagining some attractive woman feeling them up. If we could get them to imagine with it would be like to be in prison and have Bubba say "Wow, nice ass, mind if I squeeze?"

But I have a feeling they'd say 'That's DIFFERENT!'
gargoyal3
Apr. 23rd, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
Ah, that's insightful.

Perhaps it should be pointed out to those who wish to do the grabbing, that for the grab-ee, this is a often a person who could take whatever they want.

The prison scenario is a good one.

Also that maintaining ANY barrier is what makes many women feel safe, feel that the takers can't just take what they want without societal repercussions....
( 77 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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