Friday, October 16, 2009

Can't Stop the Signal

(Warning: about rape)

Man, I write all these awesome angry posts in my head while I'm on my way to work, and when I finally get in I've already blew my wad and don't care anymore. I mean, I care still, but I've forgot most of what I was going to say and can't be arsed to try to remember.

So, there's this post on LiveJournal by kathrynt (link) about Phaedra Starling's post at Kate Harding.

I'm not sure if that post was caused by the Sweet Machine's XKCD post, or if they already had it lined up and it was just coincidence that XKCD fans decided to go batshit in the XKCD post*.

But. The point is, I was thinking about both the quote Kathryn quoted in the car this morning, reminding myself to boost the signal when I got to work**, because my drive is a million minutes long and I have a lot of time to stew and get angry. And what made me angry is this:

I will guarantee you that if you show that quote to a group of guys, there will be at least one of them who will be going "Well I've never done that either so it's still not fair that I'm being painted with the same brush as rapists and potential rapists."


HERE IS THE THING. Because I think this needs to be spelled out because there are at least two guys I can think of off the top of my head who would say something like that, or at least think it very hard in my direction.

Let's pretend, for a minute, that you're right! You've never made a sexist joke. You've never said anything sexist in the presence of either men or women. You've never said nothing when someone near you said something like that.

Congratulations! You are a decent human being!

But, that girl you want to talk to who maybe isn't giving off "come talk to me :D!" vibes because she just hasn't noticed you or maybe isn't giving off "come talk to me :D!" vibes because she wants to be left alone? That girl has no way of knowing that.

She's not a fucking psychic. She can't tell that you're a descent human being. She is making a judgment of you based on past experience. And I will guarantee you that her past experience is that strange men do not respect women's anything.

And here's the hilarious part. What you're saying, whether you realize it or not, when you complain that it's not fair for strange women to look at you and see you as a potential rapist is that your desire to be seen as a good person trumps women's right to feel safe.

Which isn't even a full step away from this:
So if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.
As soon as you start prioritizing your desires over my rights, fuck that shit, you've gone from decent human being to potential rapist. Good job there buddy.

**I love XKCD as much as the next person. It makes me laugh more often than not, I agree that it's usually feminism 101 for nerds, and that does not stop it from failing it up occasionally. If you're too much of a fucking dumbass to see that get the fuck off my flist before I burn your LJ down.

**idky I am still in love with that phrase and the idea behind it.

(Also, I swear, this post was better in my head. Also angrier.)

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