Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Unfathomable Expectations

I didn't write much on this one. I mean it's a lot of writing for me, but it is a long one. Long because I've got links like crazy and if you care about this kind of stuff, if you want to read this whole thing, you gotta click all the links and read all the reads. It's a big time investment and if you don't wanna, then don't; no harm no foul.

You should read it; not necessarily what I've put down, but what everyone else has in the links. They're stories that everyone benefits by reading.

So, wayback-a-go, a Tumblr user named ignitemythoughts mentioned how she maybe punched a guy who—after catcalling a separate woman across a street—said something to the effect of “Fucking cunt, I’d take her into the back alley and show her what I’m made of. She won’t even see it coming," right before laughing as if it were a joke. ignitemythoughts was pretty proud of this and posted a picture of her hand on the internet where the punch injured her. (She later took down her tumblr, but a reblog of the original is here.)

Many people were supportive, after all, if you're talking about raping a drunk woman who's all alone at 2AM on a sidewalk after she indicates she's not interested in your catcalls, you aren't "joking" so much as you're "seeing if your friend would be cool with a quick rape-ing."  However, there were some people who apparently thought this guy's words possessed the requisite structural characteristics of humor and believed that punching people for making jokes is bad.

It wasn't too long after this that a friend of Tumblr user breakfastcookie heckled Daniel Tosh while he was on stage, expressing her belief that rape jokes are never funny. Her timing was not ideal, but she legitimately stood up for what she deeply believed. Tosh suggested that if she were raped—gang raped—by the very people in that room, that it would somehow be funny, which gives you a clue who the villain in this scenario is.  He eventually apolog

Actually, he didn't apologize; he did the "I'm sorry dance" while justifying his actions. The "I'm sorry dance" is the one celebrities do when they piss off more people than they charm. It doesn't say, "I'm sorry. I was wrong. I didn't realize [consequences of actions]. [Moral lesson learned.] [Corrective action I intend to take.] I owe it to the people who believe in me to do better." It says "I'm sorry you got angry. I've learned nothing and you should shut up so I don't have to hear about this anymore."

Then, in quick succession, I hear a story from Giantsbridge about a guy harassing a woman despite her asking him not to contact her outside of a professional environment. Then I get this story about Toronto Batman being a dickbag in general, but mostly calling people names for not responding to him, and behaving as if he was owed smiles from female cosplayers and explanations for why they didn't want to associate with them.

Certainly, Toronto Batman should've said something like "I'm sorry. You are obviously upset. I didn't realize I came across as homophobic or credit hungry. I should get with you to address this. Here's my contact information. I owe it to my fans to do better. " Instead, he said they were jealous of his success and continued on his smug way.

Finally, we get to the pièce de résistance, Tumblr user (yes, you are detecting a theme) UnWinona recounts an experience on her daily commute notable only for it's unusual intensity.

She wears a wedding ring. She reads a book. She doesn't communicate with anyone or act socially open alone. The message to anyone with the slightest intellectual capacity is "I am not interested in talking to you."

Invariably, men ignore all of those simple and obvious social signals in order to feign interest and drag her into some social conversation as a pretext to try to have sex with her. When she interacts, she encourages people who have already demonstrated disrespect for her wishes to concoct a belief that she's interested in them. If she doesn't, she's accused of being rude and impolite, not just in abstract, but as the guilty party who deserves it when a random man calls her a whore and threatens to kill her.

Even better are the people who say she's too stupid to buy headphones. Even better better are the ones who suggest she buys a gun, tout their self-defense training, or remind the entire world that their mace makes them feel safe.

All those moronic assholes miss the fucking point; these men feel entitled to something from random women. Whether it's a polite silence for their casual mention of rape, an explanation for their absence, or justification for why they won't crack open the door for someone who only views them as a sexual conquest. Women don't owe you shit. Don't get me wrong; as a rule, people owe other people common courtesy, but when dudes break that rule and expect women to adhere to it to feed their insane, self-centered troll logic, they can go fuck themselves and no one who exclusively starts conversations on pretty women sitting alone without starting a conversation with every other occupant of that car can pretend or have someone else claim on their behalf that "they're just being friendly." Talk to the seventy-year-old guy that smells like denture cream and sweat.  Women shouldn't have to pay for headphones, fake wedding bands, books, guns, tazers, or change their clothes so creeps don't know where they work. Being a woman in public should not require more gear and costume changes than being The goddamn Batman. It's the responsibility of everyone else to stop these guys, be better, bring up your kids better, and be aware that this happens.

"But," you might say, "Bike guy was crazy. That's not indicative of social trends."

And I'll look across the vast expanse of electron exchange and whisper "no," because the best part of this, followed closely by UnWinona's decision to upload it is the massive response. I could only bring up a few hundred responses on Tumblr before my compy started lagging, but those paltry hundreds of replies (out of a total of twenty thousand), brought up no less than fifty responses of women detailing their own experiences.

Which brings up an interesting question: I'd like to link to each of the stories these women have put up; it would demonstrate just how pervasive this is, how it's not an isolate case, and how it's not a narrative by a political movement, but a real thing that happens to real people. However if I do that, I feel that I would be using personal stories, posted by real people for followers and a few others who stumble across it, for my own ends without their consent. Would I be no better than those who have caused them so much trouble? The alternative is that I either ask each of the fifty women individually in the littlebitty Tumblr ask boxes or forget it all together. Does anyone have any suggestions? Are the personal stories and actions you commit to the internet intended for a specific audience, or would you be fine if some parts of your internet presence went viral?

Links for more information:
Project Unbreakable

UPDATE: As I'm writing this, the incident where a guy insecure about his penis size takes it out and puts a woman's hand on it has surfaced and the there is this exceptional piece about someone who sees these things happen, fights them, and then tells her story.

1 comment:

Derek said...

Posting the original content with links to the source of the content while adding to the overall conversation with your own perspective enriches the conversation.

They posted their story to the internet and I would suspect that the general mindset of a person who does this is generally,"the more visibility the better".

The internet is a communal thing and those who want consent usually want it for monetary purposes. If you are using these stories to promote their message further, it is likely that it would viewed as being helpful while adding depth to the conversation.