beige_alert: (kilt)
[personal profile] beige_alert
There are some anti-street-harassment videos circulating at the moment, and you know what they say about reading the comments. Yeah.  That.

I'm reminded of the heyday of the voluntary waterboarding. Remember that? Macho Tough Guy ™ writers and TV personalities told us all that this notorious means of torture, used by notorious torturers for centuries, didn't sound so bad to them. In fact, they were going to show us it's not so bad by having themselves waterboarded. Not, you know, first being kept awake for two weeks, having a leg and and an arm broken, no food, genuine fear of death, and so on, just a quick, gentle waterboarding administered by friends of theirs, with a safeword, and paramedics standing by, just in case. The least possible dose of the torture. What did they discover? Wow, this notorious means of torture is really, really awful to experience! Who knew?

Well, yeah, the rest of us didn't have to try it to believe it, though I'm sure they have an appreciation for the true experience the rest of us don't have.

"Stop being oversensitive." "Technically, what that guy shouted is a compliment, can't you even take a compliment?" "I'd love to have women shouting at me."  Some people are capable of just believing people who say that they don't like being harassed.

Deliberately setting yourself up to be harassed to see what it feels like is a dangerous game.  (And harassing someone to teach him a lesson is a dangerous game.)  I can't really recommend it.  But I can assure you that wearing a kilt in public will get you some comments that will teach you something about what it really feels like.  Comments from women.  Technically, that's the straight men's fantasy of having women yell stuff at them.  I already believed that having drunk people shout stuff about your underwear would be uncomfortable, I didn't really learn that.  But I have a new appreciation for it.

And while I'm on this topic, while dressed in, well, attention-attracting ways, I have had people say things that were absolutely wonderful and delightful comments and compliments, and I've had people say things that I honestly believe were intended as complimentary and funny but which were nevertheless somewhat uncomfortable.  I've also had drunk women behave like drunk people, which was never really going to be good.  I did learn from this.

People like to post selfies on facebook with their new outfit or new hairstyle or new eyeglasses or whatever.  I do.  Let's be honest, we're fishing for compliments when we do that.  Now I think very hard about what I write.  Most especially with women who I don't know very, very well.  I very specifically want to avoid writing something that could be edited down to "I'd like to make use of your vagina."  There are times and places for that kind of thing.  Other times, "that pattern is fantastic" is much more appropriate.  A woman once asked me about my boots in the toothbrush aisle at the drugstore.  That was not a bad experience but it was odd.  Two women at the grocery store told me they thought my (exceedingly colorful) pants were fantastic.  Said in a very quiet voice while passing by, giving me the option to just say thanks and move on or else strike up a conversation, which is what we did do.  It can be done comfortably, but you'd best be very, very careful.  Now, at a party where everyone is all dressed up fancy?  Different thing.  Seriously, think about this stuff, don't just go out being Captain Awkward: Straight Dude Of Cluelessness. 
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January 2015


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