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breeden
ursulav

My turn in the can 'o worms...

Okay, are we all tired of hearing about the Open Source Boob Project yet? Yes? Thought so.

For those who have blissfully avoided this discussion lately, the OSBP was a thingy that somebody dreamed up, presumably in a post-Heinleinian daze, about how it would be lovely if women at conventions would let you touch their breasts. And they were discussing this and some chick in the group said "Okay, feel free," and it was lovely and there were boobs and boobs are good things, as everybody knows, and somebody dreamed up an opt-in option whereby women who were cool with you asking if you could touch their boobs would wear little buttons at conventions, and there would be free range boobage for all (or at least those who had bathed recently) and life would be glorious. (There are links to this all over LJ--somebody might be so kind as to post a link to the original in the comments, I'm not gonna go digging.)

This idea got shot down about as quickly as you'd expect it would, for all the reasons of sanity, i.e. "Do you know how friggin' creepy that would be in practice?!" and "We have minors at conventions and do you REALLY want to spend the rest of your life on a sex offender's list when the captain of the local vice squad strolls in and sees you groping his fifteen-year-old daughter?" but it also opened the large and ugly can of worms that can only be handled with words like "privilege" and "consent" and "harassment", as if the words are very long tongs that we are handling some very toxic stuff with.

Now, I am not skilled with this kind of language. I can make words into a story or a joke or an aesthetically pleasing phrase--I am very poor at making words into a biohazard suit. You have to build that sort of thing very cautiously. You have to lay down each word to carefully exclude what you DON'T mean instead of singing paeans to what you DO mean, so that nobody gets offended, or more importantly, so that when they DO get offended, they're actually getting offended at what you meant, instead of at the thing that they instinctively get offended about, which wasn't what you meant at all, but you didn't build the biohazard suit carefully enough to exclude it.

I'm bad at that shit. I got through my feminist post-modernist perspectives in anthropology class by the skin of my teeth and the grace of a prof who gave me a C because I kinda needed the class and I can't imagine she wanted to see my frustrated bafflement at 8 in the morning for two semesters running. I like words too much. I can't DO that sort of thing to them. It's cruel. (It's the opposite trouble with clay. Clay, to my mind and my fingers, wants to be utilitarian. I cannot make abstract sculptures out of it, no matter how much the prof wants them. Clay  is alive, and it wishes to be useful.)

Maybe it's the difference between being an artist and an architect--artists just sling the stuff around and then hang it on the wall when it looks about right. Architectural words have to be meticulous and load-bearing and convey the meaning with precision and clarity and not fall down when you poke the clauses with a stick. Artist words just have to ding something in the subbasement of the soul, and the reader will generally cut you some slack while they fill in the rest of the space.

...man, I totally got off on a tangent there, didn't I? Never mind. Ignore the last few paragraphs. (See, I told you I was bad at that shit.) Back to boobs. Just keep in mind what I said about me and words. I cannot build a biohazard suit, and I am not good at joining these kinds of intense conversations. I'm glad somebody's having them--christ, am I glad!--but I just gotta muddle through by the skin of my teeth. My apologies in advance if I say something stupid and put my foot in it (or in arrears, if I've done it already, for that matter.)

I think the project was a laughably bad idea. Probably well-intentioned, in a doofy "I just read Stranger in a Strange Land, and boy, it would be cool if we didn't have all these hang-ups," kinda way (and hey, we were ALL that age once) but obviously you just can't do that kinda crap because when it goes wrong, it will go Very Very VERY Wrong, with the explosions and the screaming and the PTSD. Our social conventions may be weird, complicated, ridiculous things, and god knows, I dispense with a lot of them, but plenty of them are in place for a reason, and the simple fact is that if you come up to a majority of women and ask if you can touch their boobs, they will get A) pissed, B) terrified, or C) all of the above, and the number who will instead opt for D) flattered and amused will be a definite minority.

But I'll say that the intentions were probably pure, in the sense that I've known a fair number of men in my time, and "I like boobs!" really is a pure emotion in many straight members of the species, entirely devoid of extraneous thought or emotional baggage, in much the same was that some women like chocolate or shoes, and I personally like socks and Balinese demon masks. Love of boobs may be hardwired. (Okay, I'm SURE it's probably hardwired.) In most cases, I don't think it's got a damn thing to do with the objectification of women or anything else--I think they just plain like boobs. Sometimes the human psyche is just that straightforward.

Me, I like men. But I can't see an Open Source Cock Project getting off the ground worth a damn. And before guys leap to the "Hey, that'd be AWESOME!" conclusion, I want you to think about how you'd feel if the average chick at a con--not the supermodel, honey, but the one with acne and a few extra pounds and the great personality--came up and started pawing your junk. In public. Maybe this is a straight male fantasy, but even with a woman that might be considered attractive, in actual REALITY, as opposed to the porno flick playing 24-7 behind the eyes,* a lot of the guys I know would be backing away going "WHOA! Ah--uh--heh--really not interested--thanks--" and making a dash for the men's restroom and the whole situation would be awkward beyond measure.

Now think about the LEAST attractive women at a con.

Now compare the low end of female attractiveness at a con with the low end of male attractiveness at a con, 'cos trust me, you've generally got us beat hands down on that one. If you can honestly say that you would take part in a project that might involve one of the unwashed guys in a stinking undersized Sailor Moon costume asking to feel your naughty bits, then you, sir, are a better man than I and I will make no bones about the fact. You get a free pass on the rest of the conversation, go get a cookie and feel free to sit the rest out. (This all assumes you're a straight male--think how it would be for gay men. If empathy fails, please picture unwashed Sailor Moon guy again. There we go.)

And if all that hasn't dissuaded you, please ALSO consider the fact that we're going to talk to each other about the size of the junk thus pawed, and compare notes, and the phrase "Damn, he was hot, pity he's hung like a church mouse," will likely come up. (Yes. If you didn't realize that women do discuss these things amongst themselves, I'm sorry to have to be the one to enlighten you. There, there. Size really doesn't matter after a certain point, honest, but if all we're doing is the grope test, you don't exactly have the chance to prove what a tender/sensitive/manually dexterous/no, really, dude can fuck like a rutting wildebeest lover you are, now do you?)

...and once again I got off topic. Well, I warned you.

Okay, back to boobs, and the open source boob thing. I can't say how anybody should feel about this. I can't say how the execution should or could be handled well, or if it's inherently flawed down to the bone, or if there is a subrace of enlightened souls--possibly the same folks who can handle polyamory gracefully without it turning into a raging monkey clusterfuck--who could pull it off so that everybody was happy and there were boobs for all.

I can tell you that I have a really nice rack, and there are exactly two men who get to touch it, and one of them is my gynecologist, and that there is no future, however enlightened, where that is likely to change.**

And I can also tell you that if I were at a con, and some guy came up to me, and said "Can I please touch your boobs?" I would stare at him for a second and then I would break into hysterical soul-crushing laughter and say "What? Can you what? NO! Of course not!" and depending on how well-lubricated I was at that point, might or might not follow it up with further braying laughter and "What the hell are you thinking?" and furthermore, I'd spend the rest of that con telling everybody and their brother about this nasty little troglydyte with no grasp of the social graces. Shit, I'd be trotting THAT story out for years, along with the one about the guy with the alien implant in his head, whenever the booze started flowing.

This would definitely not be very nice of me, but...well...I know myself, and that's what I'd do. I'd be so completely dumbfounded that anybody would have the complete social gracelessness to say such a thing that hysterical amusement would be my only refuge.

Otherwise
I'd have to admit that I was creeped out and freaked out and maybe even felt rather degraded by the notion, (Do I? I don't know. It's squishy and scary and maybe the assumption that I SHOULD feel flattered is part of what's degrading. Shit, I don't know, and I don't want to play anymore.) and nobody likes admitting they're scared, and we're somewhat past the era when I could say "What!? What kind of trollop do you think I am!? My seconds shall call upon you at dawn, sir!"*** and smooth the whole thing over with bullets.

Hence the laughing. Because--well--I HAVE to turn something like that, at least in my head, into "harmless little worm with no social intelligence" because otherwise it turns into "fuck, I'm in a situation where strange men think they can touch me," and that sets off all the alarm bells. There's a particular set of hairs on the back of my neck, and when they stand up, I  know to bloody well listen, and I can guarantee that the minute that actually happened to me in real life (or whatever value of real life a convention is) those hairs would start doing a samba.

As a commenter on this whole fiasco said, very succinctly and with rather cruel accuracy, "Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them."

And the only thing I see coming of something like the open source boob project is that men WILL get laughed at, and women WILL get scared, and at the end of the day, the situation's just much more unpleasant for everybody.

(See, this is why I like furry cons. Never. Comes. Up.)


ETA: I should just mention, for the irony of it all, that I made this post topless, not because of any erotic reason but because my bloody sunburn hurts. *snort*


*I will not say all men have this, but I am told a great many of them do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We are as we are made, and you're talking to a woman who once had an orgasm at a stop-light while thinking about...well, we won't get into what I was thinking about, but anyway, I will not be casting stones from THIS side, trust me.

**We'll make exception for the fitters of various bodice-like clothing, who get the same professional free pass as the OB/GYN.

***Okay, definitely gotta stop with those Regency romances...


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I'd also like to point out that saying/intepretingwhat he said one way, and posting to the original, (which would clearly absolve him of your characterization), knowing that at least half the people who read your post won't bother to go look, is disingenuous.

I also never said anything, not once, about supporting the project. As a matter of fact, I pointed out that there were any number of good reasons to NOT support it. Asking me why I support it is then a strawman. red herring.

Finally, since you apparently haven't read anything to any great extent at his LJ, including the original post, (let me guess; tl;dr?) let me assure you that he also believes the project is a bad idea, and has advised that NO ONE take up the cause and attempt to start it up on their own. It's amazing what you can find out if you actually spend a few minutes and go to the source, rather than rely on gossip. In that comment thread, there are a number of responses, some much better than even Ursulas which clearly point out (likely) all the pitfalls which were overlooked in moving from an environment of a few friends to a large social environment such as a con. When presented with these arguments, he absolutely agreed with them. I find it infuriating that all over the net, people are bashing the heck out of him without even knowing firsthand what happened, or what his response has been, or anything about it. It takes five minutes of time to actually go read it, and grasp the concept that he understands exactly how stupid his idea was, and how bad he feels about the whole thing, but gossiping women and men all over the net need to bash someone just so they can feel socially accepted, because nothing says togetherness like anonymous moral outrage.

Edited at 2008-04-27 11:56 pm (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
You asked me to defend the position that people should be subjected to "his sexual attitudes, especially at something as large-scale as a convention" here.

Since the only reasonable reference that can be made from this is to the project, that is my assumption.

As far as your slander or failure to;
What particularly bothered me about the whole project was that, in the author's own words, no doesn't necessarily mean no; that a woman who refused to allow strange men to fondle her breasts would be asked upwards of fifteen times until she consented and that women who take that many requests to consent should be 'taken into an alleyway and beaten'.

First, the above statement was not made in any post concerning the project.

Second, if you have read the entire OP, the clarification, the apologies, and the comments, you know what his feelings are, both about his stupidity, and the project. Hence, coming to the conclusion which you claim to have come about this misquote shows deliberate refusal to accept anything else he has written as truth, although you're more than wulling to accept the bad things he has written as truth, or a complete lack of rational thinking. Or, thirdly, you might simply be ignoring all that for the sake of your post.

Third, the phrase "the author's own words" usually indicates a direct quote, not a paraphrase. This is not a direct quote, and is, in fact, your opinion of what he intended, quite apart from the fact that most rational people, in viewing that post, would not come to the conclusion that you did. The original post used hyperbole to make a point, and you paraphrase it, then attribute it as a direct quote, specifically to indicate that he meant literally what you say he said.

That is either negligence on an epic scale, indicating a complete lack of understanding of how communication works, and the difference between opinion and outright slander, or intentional misguidance of those who read your comment. (Read: intentional slander)

I have not attributed unwritten words into your posts. I have assumed some attitudes, but have also presented potential other interpretations of the reasoning behind your words and actions. Something you seem to be incapable of doing.

As far as my LJ, I opened comments on that post mere minutes after I made it. There's been responses to it already. Feel free to step in if you wish.

It is not your opinions that I object to. You can personally believe whatever you wish about the ferrett, or me, or anyone else your heart desires. It's when you start lying about people that I get upset. He never said that No doesn't mean No, nor did he say that women would be asked until they said yes, nor did he seriously say that they should then be beaten for failing to say yes immediately. And none of this was discussed in reference to the project.

You lied. That's my interest. You lied, and you continued to lie. You said this was about the project, and yet the entire time, you're misquoting a single footnote from a full page post which had nothing to do with the project for the sole purpose of supporting your lie. Personally, I find liars the most reprehansible creatures to walk the earth. I despise them more than I despise stupidity, which is right up high on my list, but stupid people can't always help it. Liars do this intentionally. I've given you the benefit of the doubt, and offered you the option to withdraw your accusations, but your consistent hypocrisy has led to a point by point discussion which clearly shows that only an outright lie or unbelievable ignorance and negligence can account for your original statement. So you tell me. Are you a liar, or incomparably stupid?

The really sad thing about this is, there's plenty of what the ferret did which could be used to bash him, if you had intelligence and were capable of a little perspective (and had a overriding need to bash him.) You weren't able to bring any of that to the table, and had to make shit up. How sad for you.

Edit:removed comment about misguidance being successful.

Edited at 2008-04-28 01:51 am (UTC)

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