Feminism: Wrestling with my Ambivalence

SWEARING ALERT: If you are sensitive to any particular arrangements of letters, don’t read the conversation bit at the end.

If  push came to shove I would identify as “feminist”, but I am very wary of some of the ways that term gets used by both other feminists and by anti-feminists. The only reason I would use it is because to say you’re not a feminist is tantamount to saying you don’t agree that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. And that would just be plain stupid.

feminism quote

So, I am a feminist, and ‘feminism’ to me is the idea that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Nothing more complicated than that. So that’s the standpoint from which I am writing this blog entry. It began when I happened to click on this link.

The article is about a Twitter project where women can record the instances of every day ‘sexism’ they encounter in their daily lives. When this was published, the group had just received its 20,000th entry.

everyday-sexism-get-your-examples-out-for-the-L-Xx0gRQ

At the word ‘sexism’, my Radar of Dubiousness starts whirring. I’ve started to feel an unbidden bubbling discomfort with words that end in ‘ism’. A lot of what I read around these isms nowadays seems divisive and combative and I frequently wonder if what were once useful terms are now so loaded with dogma that they are almost completely counter-productive in terms of successful debate. It seems that whenever someone is identified as a something-ist (Feminist, Humanist, Nationalist, Marxist, etc.) then everyone starts making assumptions about what the speaker/writer is saying based on what they think they know about the ism in question and not listening to exactly what is being said. This results in profoundly frustrating debates where pretty much every contributor is punching a straw man the whole time and nothing is achieved except frustrated rage and a deeper embedding of dogma on all sides.

straw manThe unlikeable term ‘sexism’ is usually used to denote male-on-female prejudice, but as a mother of two splendid sons and the spouse of an excellent man, I also cringe at least once a day at female-on-male sexism. Indeed, it’s perfectly acceptable in the media to imply that men are basically dribbling halfwits without the wherewithall to clean baths properly or know when to buy their sardonically critical wife flowers (that stupid rabbit thing advertising air freshener in between sections of Emmerdale). Perfectly lovely and intelligent women I know crack jokes about man-flu, men always being wrong, a bit stupid, useless and generally in need of the guidance of women. Even those who have great spouses do this because it’s just become part of everyday banter. These women are not being evil, they’re just not thinking how this might make men feel because there’s an assumption that men are so confident in their patriarchal power that you can’t really hurt them. Even if that were true of fully grown men (it’s not), is it also true of our small sons? Are they all born with the power to feel ok about themselves in a culture where it’s acceptable to constantly say men are a bit shit just because they are male? Is it only girls who are damaged by the repetition of negative gender stereotypes?

I was working with a group of young mums a couple of weeks ago and this conversation happened.

S: … yeah, well all men are twats aren’t they?
[general agreement from all present]
[pause]
Me: Didn’t you say earlier that your boyfriend gets up with your son to do the night feeds so you can sleep?
S: Oh yeah. Well, yeah he does…
Me: So, not all men are twats then?
S: Well, no, but you know what I mean…
A: Mine does night feeds too, and he makes me breakfast before he goes to work…

These young women were perpetuating the stereotype of men as useless, when evidence in their own lives points to the very opposite. It’s sort of like phatic talk about  the weather – nobody really thinks about what they’re saying, and nobody picks up on how damaging this could be because it’s socially acceptable to mock men.

boys are stupid
So it was with a certain amount of dubiousness that I went to explore the everyday sexism project http://www.everydaysexism.com/    Apart from being bugged by the question, ‘if we are going to tackle sexism shouldn’t we tackle it from all sides rather than just one?’, there was the nagging feeling that many of the annoying things people say are down to basic stupidity rather than sinister sexism. There are a hell of a lot of stupid people out there, and to be honest, some of the things posted on the everyday sexism site could be shrugged off as just the spoutings of the intellectually deficient. I’ve never been certain that explaining identity politics to dribbling morons is a productive way to pass the time.

What really struck me as I read through the contributions, though, was that the majority of them were about inappropriate touching and sexually intrusive language. Comments to do with getting back in the kitchen, etc, while irritating and puerile, can often be fairly easily shrugged off, but when someone feels they have the right to touch or comment on parts of your body it feels incredibly invasive. And it seems from the site that this stuff goes on ALL the time.  I’m a bit too middle aged and confident to be a victim of this kind of thing nowadays but I have some stories from my less confident past, so I showed some friends the site and asked what their experiences were. The following (edited) discussion ensued and includes anecdotes from three friends and myself. I’ve used false initials for privacy.

P: Ok, I’m reading the everyday sexism site. I hate it when boys say their shit comments are “banter”. Using a friendly word to justify being an absolute COCK.

I had one today. I might add.

J: What happened?

P: Nylon wearing man on the Underground asked me where I was getting off and if I was “the lucky girl who would be dealing with his erection tonight”. He touched my leg and I thought my gut was going to explode. Things like that scare the SHIT out of me.

S: I hope you were HORRIBLE to the disgustoman.

P: I was too scared to. Just walked away, and left the train at the next stop before boarding another. Shouldn’t have to.

S: Understandable. It makes my skin vibrate with angry. The casual sexism makes me angry. Yesterday we saw a bloke that was at a training event we went to. He was horrible to me there (and ignored us yesterday) because when he made a sex comment to me I reacted with some overt disgust. He got a bit nasty after that because I showed him up.

P: What thing did he actually say?

S: I can’t remember exactly, something about my arse, I think. But his aggression in response was visible.

P: Did he do that “you can’t take a joke”, “calm down” response? Fucking HATE that. It’s NOT a joke, I don’t know you, you’re a COCK.

S: I can’t exactly remember, but that sounds likely. He is one of those men whose pupils go too big too quickly. It makes me so very angry.

P: I get really scared when people are suggestive. I REALLY don’t like it.

S: It can be horribly intimidating. It makes me turn into the incredible hulk a bit.

P: I’m not brave enough to do Hulk. I don’t feel like I do anything to be victim of men being horribly explicit and suggestive. It’s horrible. Especially when they’re inebriateds.

S: It’s just_too_horrible.

P: Don’t really know what the answer is.

S: Eugenics. It means staying away from places. Which is EXACTLY the problem.

P: I don’t know if it’s getting worse. I think there are just more mediums to be sexist on, and information is more accessible.

J: What do you think of this?

S: It’s a pointless thing to say.

P: Dislike the possessive pronoun more than the actual implication.

J: I couldn’t decide whether it was funny or not. Part of me agrees with her, and then I think ‘am I just being humorless’. But the comments under the article are horrible.
Yeah, the possessive pronoun. But is it funny? Someone wrote, “imagine if it said, give this to your black maid…”

P: Fucking Hell. Never read the comments to anything on the internet, ever. Misanthropy.

S: Yes. Fucking stupid people. Someone take their keyboards away. It’s not massively offensive exactly, but it’s not funny. It’s old hat. It took EFFORT to make that label. Effort for a shit joke. Pointless.

P: Some years ago I did a presentation on Neurophysics in front of my class (which I was graded highly for). And at the end of it some boy from the back of the room shouted
“Yeah, that’s great and all, but get back in the kitchen” and all of the boys laughed.
Sort of, an attempt to devalue everything I had said.

J:    That IS the same sort of thing. Everyone knows it’s a joke, but. I suppose it’s like all irony, it’s only irony if you know it’s ironic. If you don’t, then it’s true.    I used to think that about that comedy programme where they played up all the Asian stereotypes. Funny if you know they’re being ironic. But if you don’t then it just backs up stereotypes.

S: I know what you mean. It’s quite complicated when you start thinking. People should be nice to each other. But sometimes it’s hard to tell when they aren’t.

J: Yeah! And sometimes they’re not even sure they’re not either.

S: It’s just thickness that jeans thing. Really. Even just in terms of humour. Unoriginal. If you can make me laugh and the offensive is for that actual purpose then ok, but when the offensive is real and joke is shit then fuck off and die.

[topic moves back to everyday sexism site]

S: Thinking about it, I’ve never particularly experienced the ‘get back in the kitchen’ stuff. I’ve experienced people thinking I’m stupid because of being a young/girl. But mainly it’s sexual. Actual touching and/or repulsive words.

J: Yeah. You’re right. I haven’t experienced the kitchen type stuff either, I think. Only sex stuff.   There was the rapey man on the beach when I was 16. Who didn’t even speak to me when he was doing it. Or after. And once a bloke tried to put his hand in my knickers and when I protested he said “fuck you then” and walked off leaving me alone in the dark somewhere scary.

P: That made my nose tingle.

S: Christ. That idea of being disposable if you aren’t willing to shag is hideous.

P: ACTUAL touching is worst. Hate.

S: I have grabbed their hands and actually screamed at them more than once when they did uninvited touching. One time I grabbed a bloke’s hand and explained to his girlfriend what he’d been doing. He did it when she was stood NEXT TO HIM. AND another time when that happened and I grabbed the bloke’s hand and did anger, he apologised to my boyfriend not me!

P: I mostly just cry and then hide under my duvet for a day with a swiss roll.

J: That apologising to the boyfriend not you makes me want to kill. My friend’s boyfriend wrote ‘slag’ all over my walls because I started going out with someone and wouldn’t shag him. And a bloke told my boyfriend he was lucky because I had good tits. I was embarrassed enough to hide under my duvet with a swiss roll.

S: Thinking it’s acceptable to say that to say that is so weird.

J: Yeah, it’s all about ownership.

P: A few weeks ago when I found myself in that horrible night club a boy came up behind me outside and picked me up from underneath with one hand. And I was wearing a dress. Then when I did some struggling he started making shushing noises so I went home.

J: Fucking hell. He was a total stranger? Was he young

P: Yes. Completely. He practically lifted me via genitals. Puke. He was about 27/28.

S: my friend’s boss, the big MD of the company tried to kiss her at the Christmas party. She refused and he did that typical ‘if you tell anyone then I’ll ruin your career…’. He got married a month later.

Someone I know was sexually assaulted by a bar tender when she was drunk and when she reported it to a policeman they said it was her fault for being drunk.

Oh, and the fact I get paid less than every man in my department despite the fact I am a manager and they are not.

J: I was sitting with a group of ‘friends’ once and a perfectly harmless bloke came in and said, “you’ve got to listen to this!” and it was (I think) a NWA song about a policewoman being raped. It had her screaming and crying for ages. Everyone thought it was really good because it was a policewoman and the police were bastards.

S: Someone put his hands down my pants on a dancefloor. Another bloke was doing repulsive finger/tongue movements right in my face, but my boyfriend headbutted him. Another man put his hand up my skirt once, I turned around and punched him in the head and he pushed me. My friends went for him and he got kicked out.

J: Our friend’s daughter was raped by a bouncer at a night club, and all the other bouncers enabled him to do it.

S: And he got away with it.

P: This all makes me feel HORRIBLE.

J: Sorry, P. Remember it depends where you hang out and there have always been shit people, but there are plenty of lovely.

S: There are LOADS of fucking brilliant people. There are. I have been in situations where people could’ve taken advantage and my lovely friends who are boys have looked after me and kept me safe.

P: Yes. There definitely are. I know that. But even ones who are potentially brilliant think with their penises when they’re my age. Learnt that shit people congregate in certain places and it’s best to just avoid them.

S: That’s true. It’s a fucking infuriating shame. But it’s true.

P: I’m under my duvet. Confused as to why it’s so difficult to accept that I’d rather strangers didn’t attempt to touch my vagina/anything without consent. I might wear a sandwich board saying so.

S: You have to put that stuff in a box and put it away. The only way it can be thought about is objectively, in a different context, in a trying to work out why people are broken way. There isn’t a simple explanation.

And eating makes the universe better. Brian Cox said so. Or something.

J: It would be funny as fuck if you did wear a sandwich board. But people would call you a crazy uptight feminist.

P: “Don’t touch my vagina please”. (I’d put “please” so they wouldn’t think I was uptight).

J: They’d think you were a lesbian.

S: I think there’s a ‘don’t touch my vagina face’ that can be developed a bit.

J: We could make Don’t touch my vagina face masks.

P: It should just be a regular face. I’ve eaten a six pack of Mars Bars since we started this.

                                                                            ***
J: My friend L just shared these joyous anecdotes:

” A bloke suggested he should carry me like god had intended – like a 6 pack of beer. That’s why women have 2 holes. When I told him to fuck off he said I had a fit body but a bad attitude. I should sort myself out.. Told him to go fuck himself. It made him even more outraged. Other girls actually said I should be pleased he fancied me because he was good looking…

….Oh, and Mr Day who stuck his fingers down my top every time I got a Maths question wrong and gave me an irrational hatred of Maths. Cheers for that!”
S: Fuck SAKE! I hope someone shot Mr Day in the fucking face.

__________________________________

So. Yes. Just four random perfectly usual well(ish) balanced women, and they’ve experienced all this stuff between them. It’s quite disturbing.

There really is a serious problem here, and I don’t know how it should be addressed. But this conversation made me realise that the everyday sexism project IS doing a useful thing. I may wriggle a bit at the terminology and wish it could be a bit more inclusive of male experience as well, but this stuff needs to  be talked about. I don’t want our daughters and their daughters to continue going through this shit. In fact, I can feel the latent angry feminist rise in me as I type. Time to log off.

 Bill-Bailey-007

 

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About throbbingsofnoontide

Bewildered human. Female. Looking for the next entertaining thing. I write a blog to share the bewilderment. It's here: https://throbbingsofnoontide.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Contemplations, Stories of my life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Feminism: Wrestling with my Ambivalence

  1. Andrea says:

    You seem to have very interesting friends. This might sound rude (and you don’t have to answer) but how old are you? I’m 36. Your friends all seem very wise and humourous and I can only hope that I also develop such wit. Brilliant read, as ever!!

    • Thanks Andrea!

      I’m 44 and the friends I was talking to are 19, 42 and 28 (I think!). But I tend to gravitate to people with a combination of gran-brains and a massive sense of the ridiculous. I’m lucky to have found them, I know that.

      They’ll be pleased you think they’re wise an humorous! x

      • Andrea says:

        19 and 28?!!! I’d never have guessed (perhaps that’s wrong of me). You must keep posting your convos. I can’t imagine how theyl be aged 50!! You’re hilarious x one of my fave blogs!

      • I think that too. I imagine they’ll be sort of gurus sitting on mountain tops when they’re 50.

        I’m really glad you enjoy reading the ramblings 🙂 x

  2. Hannah says:

    Me again! This is fab. I agree with andrea , would love to be a part of your conversations! Please write more frequently!!!! xxxxxx

  3. Martin says:

    FIRST : I love your blog BUT
    i don,t mean to sound disrespectful but i feel afew examples given are a bit rubbish ( not your fault ) !. I imagine the females could have given the offenders at least a little reason to be lasivious to them . It doesn,t excuse their behaviour , but you know what they say !! No smoke without fire…… I beleive in equal rights , but hmmmmm……… thoughts??

    • Hi Martin,

      This is a difficult one to answer because of course this is just a conversation I had with some friends about how to cope emotionally with unwanted sexual interference rather than an argument of any kind.

      The problem for me with answering your point is that anything I can say is just some words. I can’t PROVE to you that these women were not giving men any reason to believe it was OK to touch them without consent. And also I don’t know which incidents you feel are a bit rubbish. Perhaps if you could tell me which, then I could respond more effectively?

      No smoke without fire is an interesting aphorism (because it’s not always true). And in situations involving unwanted sexual attention, it’s about who interprets the fire. For example, in the incident where the 19 year old girl is lifted up by her genitals, she was standing down the road from a night club late at night on her own because she was distressed at some friends taking drugs and was trying to phone someone to come and pick her up. She is a very beautiful girl and the men who did it were young, probably perfectly ordinary and decent men who were drunk on a night out. To them, the ‘fire’ was probably a beautiful girl alone on a street, but to her, it wasn’t fire.

      • Martin says:

        My point i was trying to make is that ladies !DO! like attention . Rape is some thing different all together …. but all that should be done is to simply ignore unwanted touching !!

        I will use your eg ( but i still think a lot of it could be past off as male humour to be taken with a pinch of salt ) 😉 i assume you weren,t there ( by what you typed ) ?and so am i just to beleive that a 19 year old TEENAGER wasn,t dressed provocatively … OR that she didn,t want attention AT ALL? That,s what they do on a weekend….. they are teens . we all did it because we didn,t have the minds we do now ??!

        i just wanted to talk about this from another perspective . i really do like your blog .! we all have opinions 😉 ………..

  4. Daniel says:

    Even if a woman chooses to dress in what you might deem a ‘provocative’ way, that doesn’t give you carte blanche to have a grope! If she’s a teen, she’s expressing herself in what she chooses to wear. She’s not expressing a desire to be touched up.

    You’re essentially saying that any woman, that doesn’t cover up from ankle to chin in heavy fabrics is advertising her desire to be sexually available to anyone with a penis. I think most women are a touch more choosy and should not have to ‘ignore’ unwanted attention. It’s arguments like yours, Martin, that reinforce the attitude of the people committing these assaults on girls.

    Also, what a strange world we live in, where you can tell someone how much you like their blog, but also cast aspersions on the innocence of their attacked friends.

  5. maddietaylor87 says:

    Martin, are you suggesting that any young female dressed ‘provocatively’ is doing so to advertise their desire to be touched sexually by total strangers? You’d be surprised how many ladies !DON’T! like attention, particularly when it comes in the form of sexual harassment. I would also say that rape is not ‘something different altogether’ it is EXACTLY the same thing gone one step further.

    Are you not also being a bit hard on teens? My teens were mostly spent in gay clubs for the simple reason that you could dress up and go dancing with your mates without getting cornered by some sweaty leering prick who has decided that being female and wearing a skirt is basically equivalent to a ”please touch my vagina” billboard.

    Perhaps we should all adopt mormon clothing and so avoid such misunderstandings in future?

  6. Dear Martin,

    “is that ladies !DO! like attention” -Some do. Especially when consent is agreed upon.

    “Rape is some thing different all together” -I’m glad you think that but sexual assault can be traumatic whether it’s rape or a hand on a hip. Those who differentiate are usually the same people who say “A little bit pissed” or “Sorry darling, I only shagged her the once.”

    “all that should be done is to simply ignore unwanted touching !!” Not really. Ignoring unwanted attention to those who think touching is ok can be seen by those idiots as a license to do more. As a bi-male I’ll be glad to demonstrate how uncomfortable it can make someone by, with your consent of course, demonstrating some ‘unwanted touching’ on you.

    “I will use your eg ( but i still think a lot of it could be past off as male humour to be taken with a pinch of salt )” (e.g. and ‘passed’) ‘Passing something off’ is usually a deceit. That choice of phrase says more than you know. I’m male. It’s not my humour. I think you’re taking your cues from the wrong comedians.

    “;)” That wink was looking at me funny. Being used after that statement has made me feel dirty and I will endeavour to cease using the ‘wink’ emoticon.

    I was ready to comment on the rest but it all descended into drivel. Not all 19yr olds think like you, or dress ‘provactively’ (a disgusting euphemism for ‘she was asking for it’).

    Also, when someone highlights the word TEENAGER when someone’s 19, they’re basically pigeon holing the age into the argument. Anyway, whatever you tell yourself when you are ‘wantedly touching’ yourself.

    Yours,

    Steff (representing the vast majority of men on this planet who don’t think sexual assault is justified in any way)

  7. A person says:

    Martin, I am interested what exactly it is you ‘like’ about the blog when it’s painfully obvious that you have not understood a word of what’s been said? The touching ISN’T WANTED. That is a fact. I think this is something you just don’t believe. Feeling vulnerable and violated isn’t enjoyable for anyone. The words of others in response to yours restore my faith in humanity.

  8. Eddie Chauncy says:

    Hi Martin,

    You have a really interesting interpretation of the word ‘attention’!

    When your teachers at school said ‘Pay attention’, did you grope them?

    If so, that must have been a full-time job! I hope you got some time to look at the blackboard too.

    With love,
    Eddie

  9. 19 year-old girl says:

    Most of what I’d have said otherwise has already been addressed by some brilliant human beings. But yes, Martin, you ARE supposed to believe that being 19 doesn’t warrant sexual harassment.

    Fortunately, the extent of situation escalated no further than being pushed around a circle of drunk, groping males who were encouraging one another to take me elsewhere… And, other than sores on my wrists and a terrified brain, I walked away as I was approached. But it could have been worse, and for others, it has been.

    The problem is people (like yourself), sober or otherwise who believe that this type of behaviour is acceptable. Because it isn’t, and the more people who share your juvenile mentality, the more frequently these horrible situations will occur.

    “We” is collective and I can absolutely assure you that your thoughts are shared by very few males (and DEFINITELY not by my friends and I).

    Please think, even just temporarily.

  10. Dave says:

    I have had to install an app to make this comment and I hate installing ‘apps’.

    Martin, you’re a twat.

    Sadly, a dangerous twat.

  11. Joe says:

    I actually agree with Martin. Most women really are “asking for it”, simply by being women. It’s their own fault. It’s the same when I read these stories about some poor guy who gets jumped by a gang of youths and has the crap kicked out of him simply for walking past the wrong pub door on a Saturday night. It’s like, oh BOO HOO! If he didn’t want to fight with absolutely anyone who doesn’t like his face, then what was he doing walking around at night like that being all manly’n’shit? Same goes for children who are abused by paedophiles, if you don’t want to get molested, don’t be a child around a paedophile. It’s a red rag to a bull.

    The fact is, some men are genuinely enlightened, they live in something called “the 21st century”, are able to think for themselves, and recognise the right of women to exist without harassment. But, and I think Martin will back me up on this one, many of us are thick as pigshit, our values haven’t really progressed beyond the 1950’s, and we lack the imagination or basic human compassion to understand or care how our actions might make other people feel. Shouldn’t red-blooded men be allowed, even encouraged, to blindly follow whatever primitive urges come into their heads regardless of the effect their behaviour has on others? I think they should. Otherwise women will start getting it into their heads that they are somehow ‘equal’ to men, and the next thing you know they’re demanding equal wages and the right to vote and all sorts of other crazy shit.

    This blog actually made me quite angry, because it’s predicated on an idea that women are no less valid as human beings than men are, and that being nice to each other is somehow desirable. Who says? What’s certainly true is that a feeling of power is an essential component of many a man’s sense of self-worth, and as there’s only room for so many actual leaders in society, power over women (and occasionally children) is realistically all that’s left for the rest of us. We can’t really relate to women on an actual human level, but so long as we can casually assault them with impunity then it doesn’t matter.

    Please don’t take that away from us. Some of us really don’t have a lot left without that.

  12. MC Williamson says:

    Ah, Martin. We all know that “no” really means “yes”, don’t we? And we all know that most rape victims were “asking for it” too, don’t we? Whether this is because they got drunk in public at night, wore or short skirt or left the house, it’s all “asking for it” in some way, isn’t it? Because, if they didn’t want attention/to be groped/to be raped, they’d just stay at home, wouldn’t they? Wouldn’t they?

    I’d be tempted to believe you’re just another troll hoping to derail someone else’s debate with your comments, but your use of question marks and capitals suggests you actually believe what you’ve written. Which is probably worse.

  13. Meg says:

    OH DEAR! I hope Throbbings doesn’t have daughters.. she seems to have gone awol

    • Yes, sorry Meg… I have been standing back in awe at the posts of all these amazing people and thinking they have probably covered everything with much more astuteness, wit and brilliance than I could ever muster. And feeling proud that they’re contributing to my blog.

      But you’re right. I should also respond to Martin…

  14. Martin,

    There’s no way I can answer your points as well as all the previous posters. They have said everything that needs to be said.

    I just want you to know that your point that “All that should be done is to simply ignore unwanted touching”, is on the surface fairly rational, but only in a world where the person being touched feels fundamentally secure and safe. But we’re not talking about being touched on the arm here. We’re talking about women being touched in places that make them feel that their body is not their own. It is a really horrible feeling that someone feels your privacy is not to be respected and that it’s OK to touch you in places that make you feel embarrassed and violated. Added to this, men tend to be physically stronger than women and there’s always an element of fear involved. We are usually frightened that if we protest, violence will be the result. Because of this women DO often ignore unwanted touching, but just because we are sometimes too afraid to protest, it doesn’t mean it’s OK.

    I don’t believe our daughters should live in a world where they feel they have to let anyone who wants to stick their hands in their knickers.

    And your idea that “a lot of it could be past off as male humour to be taken with a pinch of salt ;-)” again misses the point. My example was of a distressed young woman stranded somewhere alone at night who experienced being approached by a group of young men, one of whom stuck his hand up her skirt and tried to pick her up by her genitals. I don’t know any men at all who would find this funny.

    My husband said to ask you if you were distressed and alone in the dark and a group of massively built drunk blokes came up to you and put their hands down your trousers, would you laugh? 😉

    Finally, your implication that my 19 year old friend wanted this attention is incredibly upsetting. I draw your attention to what she said as she described her experiences:

    “Things like that scare the SHIT out of me.”

    “I was too scared to [react]”

    “I get really scared when people are suggestive. I REALLY don’t like it.”

    “I’m not brave enough to [get angry]. I don’t feel like I do anything to be victim of men being horribly explicit and suggestive. It’s horrible.”

    “This all makes me feel HORRIBLE.”

    Boys will be boys.

  15. Tony says:

    I think Martin has a point. I think women should definitely stop being so sensitive about being picked up by their vaginas. They should just ignore it and keep staring straight ahead whilst they are being manoeuvred about by a hairy-handed quarter-wit like some kind of warehouse pallet on a genital forklift truck. After they have been released, they should ignore the vandalising of their vulva and put it down to youthful high jinks and come to realise that they probably asked for it by having limbs, a head, some appendages and clothing.

    I want to know what Martin thinks of the numerous sexual assaults on women in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. I’ll bet that’s down to the good-natured revolutionary fervour and the irresistible sight of women in conservative clothes just gagging for it.

  16. Bethany says:

    Because a man who ignores a woman’s NO in a non-sexual setting is more likely to ignore NO in a sexual setting, as well.

    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.

    For women, who are watching you very closely to determine how much of a threat you are, this is an important piece of data.

    • Very interestingly expressed, Bethany… I have never thought about it in those precise terms before. And it’s REALLY true that when you are approached by a man you don’t know in a potentially vulnerable situation you really do carefully observe to determine the threat. That is the sort of subtlety in male/femle communication that Martin is entirely missing. Thanks for contributing.

  17. Pingback: In Defence of Maleness (which may or may not exist / be under attack) | throbbingsofnoontide

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