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( 55 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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Jun. 28th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
Found your post originally via stitchwhich (though I do occasionally come over and read just because). My own post is locked for other reasons, but sue_n_julia posted a follow-on to mine already. I want to thank you for your courage in saying what you did, and for your contribution to the discussion.
Jun. 28th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)
Two LJ friends have pointed here in days, so I figured it was worth the time, and then I read the comments too.

I think it's important, but awareness of the problem can only go so far. My questions are:

1) How do we create more "That Guy"s? The long answer is raise them that way, but there must be a quicker, shorter path. We can't implant empathy, but maybe we can grow empathy. What situations can we place guys in that will make them want to stand up for all women. A personal example may help. I used to be very callous about the way I opened my car doors. I'd bump into other cars routinely, thinking nothing of it since I view cars as tools, not treasures. I did this one day to a vintage pickup truck of a guy on a military base. He was livid. I was querulous; Why bring the precious car out of the garage if it couldn't be treated like all other cars. We couldn't reach an agreement and since I vastly out ranked him I won. My office mates found out about it and they started a three day argument that ended with this statement "How would you feel if someone walked into your home and ripped all the covers off your books?" The covers aren't required and the damage doesn't make the book less readable. A light came on. I treat car doors with more respect now.

Every man has a mother. Except for rare instances they mostly love their mothers. Would asking them "Do you want your mother treated this way? Would she approve of this behavior?" Would that work?

2) Is there a means to allow people to be sexually expressive without being intimidating or offensive? There are lovely women I see that I would adore the chance to get to know on a physical level. How can that be expressed in a motion, glance, or phrase in a way that WON'T offend? Or is that just patently impossible?

Thanks for your post. Thanks for getting people thinking and talking about such things. It is only by shinning a light on the problem that we can hope to improve.
Jun. 29th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
For your first question, yes, raising our boys to be That Guy is important, but an active resistance to the culture is also helpful now. I have seen women try to tell a creep to back off and fail until a man has stepped in to say, "Hey, she said to leave her alone. Are you really the kind of jerk who can't understand the word no?" The creep may well whine and pout about it, but he'll usually stop when a man tells him to, even if he'll ignore multiple women.

That cuts off an avenue for his unwelcome behavior, because now he knows you're going to call him on it, so he'll curb it more when you're around. It may cut off other avenues for his behavior, as nearby people realize what was going on because you spoke up and stop inviting him to things. But it also shows the other guys standing around how to be That Guy. They might not have noticed the problem or thought about how it's skeevy to keep hitting on a woman who's not interested or they might just not have known what to say to stop it. By speaking up, you give them a model for appropriate behavior. If we're lucky, they'll go out and use it somewhere that the positive behavior is modeled for other guys who've never thought, didn't notice, didn't know.

If you're still in the military, you can much more directly influence the men who serve under you, by making sure that rape awareness and prevention training is occasionally aimed at them instead of female servicemembers who often have more to fear from their own side than an enemy. You can make being That Guy an expectation.

There are other ways to help "grow empathy" as you put it, and here are some links that may give you some ideas:

As to your second question, a smile is often a good opener. As for phrasing perhaps, "Feel free to say no, but I think you're lovely, and I'd like to explore that physical attraction if you're interested." Then if she says no, say, "Okay, no pressure. Look me up sometime if you change your mind." Then walk away.

If you are tall, stand far enough away that she doesn't have to tilt her head up to look at you. If you are near her height stand far enough away that you would have to take a step to touch her easily. Make sure you don't corner her against a wall or furniture; stand where she can easily walk away from you if she wants to. As a woman, it doesn't take much to feel unpleasantly crowded by a would-be playdate, particularly when the man is much larger. Plenty of space makes such an offer far less intimidating.
Jun. 29th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
I'd like to ask an anthropologist's question: for those of you who have been raped, and are also in the SCA, has being in the SCA helped or hindered any healing or coming-to-terms you've done?
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
I've hesitated responding in this case because this is attack_laurel's turf, but I have to say that the casual way this question was asked took the breath out of me, and I'm not technically among the group addressed, having "only" been molested and assaulted but not raped. I dearly hope that I'm the only one taken aback by what reads as an absence of sensitivity.
Jun. 30th, 2009 09:47 am (UTC)
Um, that's a bit cold. We're not lab rats.
Jun. 30th, 2009 01:54 pm (UTC)
Chiming in: I'm not in the SCA, but I'm not sure why in the world you thought "ask[ing] an anthropologist's question" so as to attempt to derail the subject under conversation was welcome or appropriate.
Jun. 30th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
Change the culture
I've read the comments and many have a similar experience to mine. I was molested by older boys in my neighborhood when I was 5. For thirty years I denied it was important, just said it was boys being boys. We have to face the fact that we have a culture that on the surface says rape is wrong, even sex is wrong (which is another bad issue), but where the undercurrents say that any sexual activity makes a man a man, and so encourages rape and molestation. I was triggered once by a discussion of how horrible it was that a 10 year old was accused of rape... well, I can tell you that happens. And that IS sick.
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( 55 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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