This Might Piss You Off
At first I totally bought this article. I was like "Yeah, those guys suck. Society is screwed..." Then I took a shower and thought about it. I mean really thought about it. The conclusions I came up with were much different than my initial reaction.
Then, in the interest of getting all the facts, I wandered over to where the post originated from and saw some pictures. Firstly, I'm not saying this woman is not attractive but she certainly does not look like a stripper. I think it's the leotard. She looks more like a dancer. Strippers typically don't shop at the same places ballet dancers do. And the gloves or wristlets she's got on say "costume" for sure.
So, after gathering my facts and giving this some serious thought I now have a well formulated opinion. Or something like it. Below is the original article and below that is what I have to say about it. You can choose to only scroll half way if you're not interested in my thoughts.
Until, going to the bathrooms on the second floor alone**, I stepped into the elevator. It was filled with men who were all taller than me, and not wearing WisCon badges. They looked surprised and pleased as I got in. And I felt uneasy and self-conscious before I had time to think of why.
“Well, hey, now,” one guy murmured. “Hey there.”
“Yeah,” another chuckled.
“Second floor, please,” I said.
“Hey!” someone else said. “What’s going on on that floor?”
“Well, can we go?”
They laughed appreciatively. I said “No.” And I got out.
And that was it. They didn’t say anything foul, they certainly didn’t touch me, and it wasn’t even close to harassment by the standards of our society. So why was I shaky and scared and angry afterwards?
1) At the costume ball, my clothing – fishnets, black leotard, blonde wig - was coded “superhero”. In the elevator, it was coded “stripper”.
2) Everyone is conditioned to assess women primarily by how sexually attractive and/or available they appear to be. Making that assessment clear is normal. Vocalizing that assessment is normal. Blaming women for others harassing or abusing them based on how attractive they are or what they were wearing at the time is normal.
If you’re gearing up to say something like “But nothing really bad happened!” or “Well, what did you expect?” or “Come on, weren’t you looking for attention?”, or “They were just being nice!”: don’t.
I know that those men almost certainly meant me no harm; they probably thought expressing a wish to follow me to a party was a compliment. It is entirely possible that none of them have ever imagined being in an enclosed space with a group of big strangers eyeing you up and asking if they can come with you could be a frightening experience. Our culture is set up so that they’ve never had to.
This and like incidents have happened to me, like many women, time and time again: strange men telling me to “smile!”; strange men shouting “Show us your tits!” as they drive past; strange men groping my breasts and ass in crowded train carriages.
(Women also buy into the patriarchal imperative to judge women primarily by their physical appearance, and that is also extremely unpleasant. However, as it is far less likely that women will follow such assessment with rape or other violent crime, it is generally much less threatening when a woman says, “You look like a whore.”)
If a woman doesn’t want to be viewed – for some weird reason - as a sex object, her choices are limited. She can be visibly angry or ignore harassment, in which case she is a FRIGID BITCH who can’t take a COMPLIMENT from NICE GUYS. Or she can be pleasant in an attempt to show them she’s actually a human being, in which case she may be ASKING FOR further “compliments” with her MIXED SIGNALS.
Or she can stay at home.
- Karen of Girls Read Comics (And They’re Pissed)
Now for my thoughts...err rant. Stop reading now if you suspect this might piss you off and you're not in the mood. :)
"I felt uneasy and self-conscious before I had time to think of why."
If you're uneasy and self-conscious why is that someone else's fault? I have been in this situation numerous times, and while being surrounded by a bunch of strange men can be somewhat intimidating, it doesn't have to be. Why not make it an empowering situation? At that moment they were admiring the woman walking into the elevator. She made a conscious choice to feel uneasy and nervous. She could have chosen to feel powerful and even beautiful.
Let's face it folks, we're animals. Animals are driven by instinct. Our instincts tell us to be attracted to someone or not. Men are easily attracted to a woman who appears to be fun, interesting, and yes clad in tight clothes. Remember that our ancestors didn't wear clothes. The body is a big turn on. Anyway, I digress.
Men (straight men) are hard wired to be attracted to women. It's just a biological fact. And thank goodness for it or there would be no people on this planet. It is this drive to reproduce (in conjunction with the natural nurturing qualities of women) that is responsible for the thriving human race. If we expect men to honor us for being what makes us women - bleeding, birthing, nursing, emotional-izing, multi-tasking, powerful women - then why shouldn't we honor them for what makes them men? Yes they are sex driven and yes most of them have the will power to control those desires. But they can't control the every-seven-minute sexual thoughts any more than we can control the blood that pours from our wombs.
Now, before I get the whip let me clarify that I do not believe women should should be seen or used as objects. But admiring a beautiful woman in an elevator is far from objectifying her.
I've been married to the same man for almost 11 years. In that time his libido has not slowed down for a second. For a long time I would get annoyed when he told me I was hot or that he thought I looked sexy. I thought that was his feeble attempt at getting into my pants. In a way, that's true, but at the same time this is how a lot of men know how to show interest, affection, and desire for their partner. In short it's a normal working of the human brain to want to be desired and to desire someone else.
My main point here: You can choose to feel powerful instead of weak. You can choose to be a gorgeous and confident woman who can wrap a man around her finger. Or you can choose to be a frightened little girl with confidence issues. There are thousands of women who would love to be shown a little (appropriate) attention by a bunch of men.
This leads me to another point.
"Everyone is conditioned to assess women primarily by how sexually attractive and/or available they appear to be."
No kidding. And women do the same thing with men. Are you going to go up and talk to the unattractive guy at the bar who looks like he might not have showered in a week or are you going to catch the eye of the hunky 6 foot guy with nice hair? Again, this is another biological instinct. We go for the people who appear to have the better genes or jeans. Physical attraction is huge. Imagine being in a relationship with a really nice guy who couldn't turn you on. One word: Hell.
American men could use some changing. This is very true. Mostly I think they should learn to be more cultured, less interested in football, and more vocal with their emotions without having their buddies question their sexuality. And absolutely many of them could learn to appreciate and honor women instead of objectifying them. Let's just keep things in perspective and remember that they are men - human - and they can't control their hormones any more than we can.
To close I am going to clarify a few things.
- There is a big difference between admiration and harassment.
- There is a big difference between attraction and objectification.
- There is a big difference between showing someone attention and raping them.
- There is a double standard for men that shouldn't be there. Men are Goddess too.
- There is a choice in everything.
Now bring on the flogging.