Log in

No account? Create an account
Previous Entry Share Next Entry

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.

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...

  • 1
"Rape is not pressuring someone to have sex,"
Actually yes it is. For example, coerced sex, which is a form of pressuring someone into sex, is rape. My rape was coerced sex, and yes, it absolutely was rape. My rapist even told me immediately afterwards that it was as if I had raped myself. To further illustrate my point, my father would hound and nag my mother into sex nearly every night, when she was initially saying no and trying to refuse. She would get sick of his nagging and finally give in. That too was rape.

Rapists can look and act just like everyone else. There is no set standard for what a rapist does or thinks, other than the fact they do not respect the boundaries and autonomous rights of others.

Unfortunately, rape is indeed very normal in our culture and society. It's not right, but it is normal in that it happens on an extremely frequent basis. I wish it were otherwise.

This is, unfortunately, very true. And because we are taught that rape is only a violent, forced act, too many women are dealing with the realities of being raped without any support.

I know. I was one of them. It took me nearly ten years to come out and say "Hey, that was not wanted sex. I tried to say no, but he obviously heard something else and I was too scared to make more of a fuss.</>" I was scared shitless because i knew he was capable of violence and thus I let it happen so that at least I wasn't brutalized.

It is far too easy to dismiss these women as "making it up" or "secretly wanting it." Rape = unwanted sex. Period. Violent or no, it is still rape.

Indeed. I knew right away it was rape, but I pushed that thought down and did not acknowledge it as such again for a few years. I am still dealing with the aftereffects, I was dealing with the aftereffects even before I conciously began dealing with it as the rape it was.

Too many people believe the myths about rape, which leads to more rape and lack of support for the victims/survivors.

*nods* I am with ya there. Hell, I ended up breaking down last night for the firt time in years. it's been over ten years now, and it STILL hurts.

I think "unwanted sex = rape" is a bit broad. (Which is not to say that it's not bad unless it's rape. "No" does mean no)

But nagging someone into having sex is rape? Really? Sexual harrassment sure, I'd go along with calling it that in a hot second. And it's sick, without a doubt. But rape? Unless there's something more to the story than just "getting tired of the nagging" I'd have to think about that one.

Threatening someone (whether with the threat of violance or non-physical consequences) is still an act of force (even if not a physical act), and while I don't believe it requires physical violance to qualify, it seems like force of some sort should be necessary before we start calling things rape, shouldn't it?

Otherwise it sounds like we could lump in "Well I don't really feel like it, but he wants some. I guess I'll put up with it," as rape. And at the point where the person doesn't even have to say "No"... that's a little scary.

"And at the point where the person doesn't even have to say "no"...that's a little scary".
A lack of no does not automatically equate yes.

Repeatedly asking someone for sex, when they keep indicating they have no desire for sex right then, is indeed rape when they finally give in.

I don't have to "think about that one". I've listened to it. Nightly as a teenager. I've heard others' stories. I've been raped myself through pressure/coercion.

As I said in my other comment, we'll have to agree to disagree. I'm walking away from discussing this with you any further.

It's only rape if the person being "asked" feels that they HAVE NO CHOICE but to go along.

If they can tell the person, "Fuck off, I'm not having sex with you," without fear of the consquences then they still have the choice, they have the free will, and it's not rape. It may still be a horrifically unhealthy relationship though.

Now if the person actually is made to fear the consequences of saying "No" then it's absolutely rape. But free will has to have an important place in the defining of something as serious as rape.

But there is never no 'fear of consequences'. 'Consequences' don't have to be violence. When it's your boyfriend repeatedly asking you for sex, you might not be saying 'yes' in the end because you're afraid he might hurt you. It might be because you don't want to hurt his feelings, because you feel you owe him one, whatever. Free will is often entangled in a lot of human feeling and social expectations, sadly :/

I have been raped by someone I loved. So, it seems, has the person you're conversing with. I hope you understand how unspeakably offensive you're being by telling us we were not raped.

Re: Prevention (Anonymous) Expand

Re: Prevention

I knew some guys in high school who actually said they thought "sex against her will = rape" was a bit broad.

Now that's pretty scary. Makes me wonder what they think rape is then, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to know.

"Actually yes it is. For example, coerced sex, which is a form of pressuring someone into sex, is rape"

I wasn't talking about coercion. Coercion is a use of force, even if it isn't physical.

When I wrote that, I was thinking of pressuring in the sense of the infamous, "Aw c'mon, Babe. You'd do it if you loved me." Not coercing, just pressuring. That sort of thing, while pathetic and juvenile, is a far cry from rape IMO.

We'll have to agree to disagree because I consider the "Aw c'mon Babe. You'd do it if you loved me" to be emotional coercion/pressure, which in my opinion is rape. I feel that any time there is pressure involved in getting someone to have sex, it is rape.

We definitely disagree.

As long as the person chooses to go along without force or fear of the consequences for not doing so, then it's not rape. Wheedling someone to sleep with you is obnoxious, it's quite likely harrassment, and (at the extreme end) could even be a form of emotional abuse. But unless the option of free will is removed, or at least is perceived to be removed, then it can't be rape.

If we can't agree that rape requires the suspension of free will, then we have nothing further to discuss.

I think one of the things being glossed over here is that pressure, without outright threat, can still imply a threat. "Aw, c'mon, babe," might sound pleading and pathetic on paper (or on a screen) but in real life, in a room alone with some guy you've known a week in a house inhabited only by his big male housemates, and he's starting to look irritated because you were okay with him pawing your chest before but you don't want him to now that he's pushing your boundaries... You might start to feel a little fear in the background, a little itch of "this is not how this is supposed to go." Maybe this guy keeps a knife on the table, or a baseball bat by the closet, or maybe his stack of GTA games is something you could find indicative of violent tastes. But you're more than ready to leave and now he's pushing you down into the sofa and that's really hurting your arm, and it could just be the lighting but he suddenly looks angry, and you've said no six times but it's really hitting home all of a sudden that you're in over your head, that he could really hurt you if he wanted to, that the nice arms you thought looked appealing before are more than enough to hold you down if you tried to struggle.

For a woman of 5'2", this is a perceived threat. He may be thinking "She'll come around, she just doesn't know how lonely I've been," and he may just be pleading, he may bear her no ill will whatsoever. What she hears, and sees, and experiences, is a threat, and it may seem like the best option at the time, under the circumstances, to just let him have you than to refuse and risk him reacting badly out of anger.

Because men do react to a sexual refusal with anger. Not all men, but some of them, certainly, and a far larger number than you probably guess. You don't respond to a catcall in a bad part of town? You hear back a snarl, "Bitch." And sometimes, that anger, fueled by embarrassment in front of friends or by alcohol or by some unresolved issues over the ex you apparently resemble, boils over, and he wants to retaliate in some more tangible way. And even though the guy from the date scenario is not one of those guys, he's really very sweet and well-meaning, and he knows he's being something of an ass by pushing but he's so lonely, and she's really beautiful, and she's been driving him nuts all week... even though he'd be horrified if he knew his actions were being perceived as threatening, they are. She's scared, for her life, and rightfully, and she may engage in certain behaviours she might not under other circumstances if it means he won't hurt her.

Is that rape? For him? Of course not. But for her?

"some guy you've known a week...starting to look irritated...he's pushing you down into the sofa and that's really hurting your arm...you've said no six times.."

It saddens me that I have to say this. The scenario you describe is not a "perceived" threat. It's not "pressure" (of the type I was talking about). It's a threat. It's definitely a threat, even if there's no intention of actually carrying out that threat.

"the guy from the date scenario is not one of those guys, he's really very sweet and well-meaning"

Oh yes he IS "one of those guys" and probably worse. At best, he's a creepy SOB with some serious issues. No one is so oblivious that they can't tell the difference between fear and enthusiasm. A fear response to their advances would hit any sane guy like a bucket of ice water. Fear is not a turn-on. Any guy who would go ahead and have sex with the terrified girl in that scenario is a sick bastard, and yes, a rapist. And it's a rape for him too, whether he's willing to admit it or not.

I'm not "glossing over" anything. I never said the threat couldn't be implied, I just believe that a threat needs to actually exist before calling it rape.

The scenario you described... escalating when she said "no", holding down, etc... is rape. The guy sitting beside his girlfriend on the couch, giving her puppy-dog eyes and begging her to stop being mean to him, may be pressure... but it isn't rape.

Re: Prevention (Anonymous) Expand
  • 1