Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 10.25

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. The rape story is frightening and sad. When people wonder why we have to call men on every little sexist remark; this is the reason. Not that someone who makes an offhand joking statement will turn into a rapist but rather that behavior like what happen to this woman is fostered by tolerance of lesser behaviors. You of course can joke with your friends but you have to know the audience and in public with strangers intimidating behavior is simply unacceptable.
    .
    If, as a society, we were still ok with open hostility toward persons of color those amongst us who would use violence to “shut up the uppity” would be emboldened to do so. We have, for the most part, moved beyond allowing this type of behavior but yet intimidation and ridicule are accepted towards women, those in the LGBTQ community, certain imigrants (Mexicans and those who appear to be Muslim are fair game at the moment), and others.
    As individuals there is not too much we can do to stop it all, but we must call it out when we feel it is safe to do so especially among friends. It’s simply the right thing to do.

      1. I have learned a lot by just being here on this blog. I used to sexually harass fellow workers, with jokes and inuendo rather than threats and intimidation, but that was a long time ago (20+ yrs) and it is something that I am deeply ashamed of and something I would never dream of doing now.
        Heck, if you go back and read my earliest comments on this blog you will see me defending idiot man behavior, defensively mansplaining how I was a nice guy rather that a nice guy™ in high school (as I found out I had a little nice guy™ going on), and making wild assumptions about women and especially LGBTQ friends.
        I am proof that exposure and knowledge breed tolerance.
        .
        Sorry, that was a bit OT. Look at me, I’m growing. :)

        1. Yay! I admit, I’ve noticed the change. Nothing puts a commenter on my radar like misogynistic bullshittery, so then I also noticed when I stopped getting that headdesky sensation from your comments. :) Hooray for change and growth, it’s not so scary as some people make it out to be.

  2. Ugh, the anxiety about rape culture story reads like my autobiography. I don’t go anywhere without pepper spray at the best of times, and it’s coming up on that time of year where it’s dark anytime I’m not at work, so I get to be trapped in my apartment aside from work and weekends for the next six months. Yay!

  3. Maybe it’s just me but the TSA note seems more like it was written by a female.

    “Get your freak on girl” doesn’t seem like something a guy would write. In fact writing anything doesn’t seem like something a guy would do.

    Mike.

  4. Not necessarily true. I was an Admin. for a warehouse several years ago, and there was a maintenance guy that was clearly obsessed with me. Thankfully he wasn’t … scary, though he did make me uncomfortable (he was eventually fired for other reasons). This is something he would TOTALLY SAY if he knew I had sex toys.

    1. It was funny but totally inappropriate, the invasiveness is there whether the note was written on the edge or not (which is creepy in its own right) so it is, at least for this story, a moot point.
      So yeah, funny and inappropriate and invasively creepy all at once. The things we won’t do to pretend that we are being kept safe.

  5. That rape culture essay captures really well what a lot of women have to battle with just to function in society to a greater or lesser degree. I can only imagine that this is being compounded by the internet asshole phenomenon that seems so rampant at the moment. It seems that every unseemly thought, every rape threat, every threat of violence on the internet is just making this culture more open & acceptable. It’s fucking depressing.

    1. That story reminded me of something I experienced, and a good male friend’s reaction to that experience.

      One winter morning, at just after 5am, I was walking to the bus stop. It wasn’t dawn yet, and very dark. I live in Central Phoenix, which isn’t the worst place ever but still a large city with a high crime rate. I was in jeans, and a hooded coat, totally bundled up.

      I was almost to the bus stop, when I heard a truck behind me. I figured the truck would drive on. But no. I realized it was slowing. And then it slowed to a complete crawl, right next to me. I couldn’t see the person inside — it was too dark — but I heard a male voice: “Hey, baby! Want a ride?” I replied, very loudly, “NO! Leave me alone!” and almost ran to the bus stop. Thankfully the truck left and didn’t attempt to follow me.

      That freaked me the fuck out, and understandably so.

      When I explained it to my male friend, he was completely confused as to why I would be at all afraid, or why I would think what that guy did was inappropriate. “But he might have just been trying to be nice! Maybe he just wanted to give you a ride because it was so cold outside!”

      My friend seemed offended that I assumed the man in the truck had something more on his mind than just being nice, and that instead of jumping in the truck or saying, “No thanks!” nicely I instead got angry, scared, and ran to the bus stop.

      Like … my friend had no idea why this was inappropriate.

      He STILL didn’t quite get it when I told him that, right around that time, a woman was grabbed, in broad daylight, just a block from my apartment, and raped in an alleyway. And, during that time, The Baseline Killer was killing women (again, sometimes in broad daylight, and in the area I lived in!), and we also had another serial killer (Serial Shooter scaring the daylights out of Phoenix.

      He was shocked that I’d assume that a man who drove up to me when it was pitch black out had some sort of nefarious plan, and that because of that, I must assume all men are rapists. He had no idea why I was literally frightened for my life!

      Even if the man in the truck didn’t have darker plans (which I actually doubt), what he did was HIGHLY inappropriate. Much like the Elevator Guy. It’s just so highly inappropriate to put a women in that sort of situation, no matter what your intentions are.

      I consider my friend a very smart fellow, and pretty progressive (his mom is a dominatrix lol!), but sometimes he can be very, very clueless when it comes to how women live in this world. A lot of men just don’t get it.

      1. And, I just had a recent discussion with this same male friend about institutionalized sexism. He’s a sales engineer for a Tech company. He has witnessed institutionalized sexism himself. He didn’t deny it existed, and even game some recent examples. Dude isn’t completely clueless, at least! He has hope.

          1. He should! Too bad he’s not really the type to hang around and chat on blogs. :)

            Thankfully he’s not totally clueless, and I think if I hadn’t gotten so frustrated and annoyed, and just moved on to a happier subject, I could have helped him realize why being a woman can be down-right frighting sometimes. His views on sexism in general give me hope!

      2. When I was little, it was encouraged that you should immediately bolt if a stranger in a car were to slow down near you, especially in the somewhat depressed, urban environment we lived in. The parents, teachers, and cops called it street smarts.

        It shouldn’t take having been vulnerable to comprehend that others can feel vulnerable, however. *sigh*

        1. I think part of it is that he’s a really nice guy, and would totally love to help someone out who was walking out in the dark, when it’s really cold out, and if he stopped to ask someone if they wanted a ride, he wouldn’t be doing it because he wanted to rape them. So he had a really hard time considering that some men aren’t as nice as he is. Also, we were drunk and thats not necessarily the best time to have such discussions. He got a bit defensive because I think he felt I was calling all men rapists, or was assuming all men are rapists. I said something like, “Yes, I did assume he was a rapist, because of the situation. It was SMART of me to consider him a rapist, because it was a scary moment and I had to react quickly. I don’t assume all men are rapists in all situations.” I think he just couldn’t let it go that I thought the dude was a possible rapist, and because of that I must assume all men are rapists until I learn otherwise. He just wouldn’t let it go. He took it a bit personally. I suspect if we had the discussion again (sober), he’d be less defensive about it all.

          1. If it comes up again ask him if he would ever play Russian roulette. If he would walk into a room and pick up a gun and point it at someone without knowing if it is loaded. If he would eat something that a stranger handed to him on the street. Ask him if he would assume the worst of the owner of the gun or the street-food-guy.
            He would most likely say he was just playing it safe not making judgements. That’s good.
            Point out that some men are indeed rapists. Let’s assume it is 1 in 10; so 9 out of 10 men that offer a ride won’t rape you. Then ask if he would take those odds.
            It may be enough for him to realize that there is no personal judgement on the men but rather on the situation.

      3. Ugh. That would have scared the bejeebus out of me too. I mean, fuck, where do you draw the line? It’s fucking depressing, but I’ll bet that we all have stories like that. Sometimes they’re harmless, but how the fuck are you supposed to KNOW that??

        A couple of stories.

        I remember one time, when I was 16, I was walking to the bus stop (in the middle of the day in suburban Auckland, NZ), and it started to piss down with rain. Absolutely fucking buckets. I mean, the SKY opened up. I think it was summer, so the weather turn was unexpected. I was wearing a short skirt, top, and had just shaved my legs, so I was covered in moisturizer. That bit’s important. Anyway, I RAN to the bus stop which was a good couple of blocks away. By the time I got there, I was all wet, and the rain had made my legs all slippery (you know, water & moisturizer), and I wasn’t alone in the bus stop. There was some dude there who must have been in his 20s. Anyway, he started chatting, and I did that polite grimace that women always have to do because you know, stone cold ignoring him would have been just rude, right? He kept talking, I kept smile-grimacing, and because of the weather, it’s was like we were the only people in the world. I felt alone, and cornered, by this man, who was obviously looking at my slippery moisterized legs, and his thoughts were just radiating from him. After about 10 minutes of this uncomfortable attention, he then reached down, and touched my fucking legs. TOUCHED THEM. Like it was no big thing. WHAT THE FUCKITY FUCK?? At that point, I turned around, told him to mind his fucking hands, and gave him a good punch in the arm. He left me alone after that, thankfully, but what if I’d been too terrified to confront that?

        The second story also involves rain. I was running late for work. I’d missed my bus. A guy slowed to a crawl outside the bus stop and asked me if I wanted a lift. Absolutely desperate, I said yes. Normally, I would have never considered it, but it was raining, and I’d missed my bus, the next one wouldn’t be coming for an hour. There was just no way I was going to get to work on time. And I was poor, so I couldn’t catch a taxi. So, I got in the car, we made conversation, he dropped me off at work, and I never saw him again.

        You just never fucking know who the creep is going to be.

        1. One time, I was in the ghetto, waiting for the bus. It was just me and a man, a stranger. He walked up to me, and started hugging and rubbing me. Like we had known each other for years, and were dating or something. It was that intimate. Not necessarily sexual. I WAS SO CONFUSED and taken aback that I just stood there, frozen, and allowed him to hug and caress me. The bus came and I RAN on, straight to the back.

          I look back on it, and I don’t think he was planning on assaulting me, but apparently got his kicks off of hugging and caressing random women. It was so weird.

        2. Yikes!

          I remember you telling a shorter, condensed version of that story a little while ago. The detailed version is even worse. *wince*

          I don’t really have anything that bad, since I’ve only been living as female for a little while. But… it was a really big shock to realize just how common it is, how much harassment and cat-calling happens and how regularly and casually, and how much your life ends up being dictated by that sort of thing. All the precautions and changes I had to make to how I live my day-to-day life. I considered myself fairly feminist and sympathetic to women’s experiences before transition, but I had no idea. Maybe this is a bit cynical, but I’m not sure men really even CAN understand what it is or means or how much it effects and defines our lives. Even men who accept that it happens and that it is an issue have a hard time believing just how frequent it is.

          You know… I experienced overt sexual harassment on pretty much the FIRST morning I spent in Vancouver after going full-time? I sort of made that plunge on a Thursday evening. I went out presenting in girl-mode, and then got my hair cut/coloured/styled, and that sort of was the point of no return. I couldn’t just take off my hair later and go back to male presentation after that. The following day, Friday, I went off on a trans youth camping trip thing out to one of the islands. That was awesome, and pretty much the ideal way to spend my first weekend. I felt good and confident and even on the ferry ride and other situations around cis folk I didn’t run into any trouble or get misgendered or anything. But the very Monday morning after getting back… well, I go to get coffee from the convenience store up the street for me and my friend from Kelowna who was staying with me. On the way, I notice this really creepy elderly Asian guy giving me a weird look and smiling a big toothless grin. I go in and get the coffee. When I get out of the store, and start walking back to my place, I pass by him again, and he’s still standing there staring at me. At first I was thinking “Oh, whatever. He’s probably just clocked me. I just woke up and don’t have make-up on. No big deal”… but then he walks up and says “How much for blowjob?”

          “excuse me?!”
          “How much for blowjob??”
          “I…um… I don’t do that. No”
          “Come on. I pay for it”
          “No, please go away”
          *pulls out ratty little $20 bill*
          “I give you twenty dollars! Just for blowjob!”

          So I just rush off and don’t look back.

          FIRST MORNING back in Van after going full-time.

          Since then, I’ve been mistaken for a prostitute about four more times (once by a prostitute, who told me I needed to dress more feminine and that my boobs weren’t big enough). I’ve had two occasions with cars slowing down and offering me rides. I’ve had at least three run-ins with the “Smile! Gimme a smile, baby!” thing, more creepy smiles and leering looks and the up-down evaluation than I can count, numerous older men calling me “cutie” / “sweetheart” etc., an old homeless guy with a filth-encrusted beard outside the library saying “I’m single if you want a quick fuck”, a crackhead bending over to stare at my behind as he followed me down the street (like literally following behind me, bent over, with his face right in my butt), a teenage boy staring at my chest while he stuttered through an attempt to bum a smoke, an old man standing next to me as I ordered a sandwich from a street vendor asking me inside for a “proper meal” and absolutely not taking no for an answer (even saying “I’m not tryin’ to fuck you or nothin'” as part of his attempt to convince me), my 50-something ROOMMATE slipping a note under my door soliciting sexual favours, a guy on the street who’d read me saying “I’d like to break in those new parts, huh-huh”, a dude at a bar trying to convince me to sleep with his friend who was moving away to Mexico as a “going away present”, and probably a dozen more incidents of harassment I can’t remember right now.

          And you want to know the really f-ed up part?

          It’s been less than a year.

          1. Oh! And just two weeks ago, a really drunk african guy on the train standing up and saying “I love this country! I love all you Canadians! Especially HER! [points at me] I would tap that!”

            And speaking of tapping/hitting “that”, I recently tried to join a webboard and one of the first things that happened was someone responding to a picture I’d posted, and someone’s comment on how tall I looked, with “I’d still hit that”. It got worse from there. :P

            :sigh:

          2. Wow. You’ve only been externally female for a year?? That’s a pretty heavy load of harassment that you’re carrying around. O_o Some of those instances are by men who know you. Do they know that you transitioned? I would have expected more homophobia (transphobia?).

          3. Yeah, the roommate was aware of my status. And obviously the guy making the really creepy “new parts” comment had read me (“read” or “clocked” = could tell that I was trans).

            Honestly? I expected and prepared myself for a lot of transphobia and discrimination on those grounds. That’s what I thought I was going to have to be dealing with. But… it didn’t quite play out like that. Instead, most of the harassment and discrimination I ended up dealing with was just plain old sexism and misogyny. The same stuff any young woman has to deal with. I’ve had a few little issues with people hostile towards the fact that I’m trans (“nice titties, faggot!”), but it’s definitely been nowhere near as frequent or as much of an issue as the more conventional kinds of harassment I’ve had to deal with.

            My being trans does play into it a bit, I think. Like the stereotype that most trans women are prostitutes, or the myth that transition is just about trying to attract that kind of attention (“If he doesn’t want guys hitting on him, why’s he dressed like a chick?”) which itself is related to the myth that the only value of a female body or female identity is as a sexual object. But generally, I think it’s just a result of people taking things at face value, and that I have a certain degree of “passing privilege”. For better or for worse, I’m being perceived and treated as female. And that includes being perceived and treated as a sexual object rather than a sexual agent… cat-calls and harassment and “sweetheart” and everything else that goes along with it.

            In a funny way, I sometimes consider it almost something of a blessing-in-disguise that I’ve had the opportunity to DIRECTLY experience the difference in how a woman gets treated in our society versus how a man gets treated. My perspective on male privilege, and what it entails, is granted a lot of focus and clarity by the fact that I had it but sacrificed it.

          4. …and also being trans meant I wasn’t socialized female, which means I never really learned all the ways to protect yourself from the wrong kinds of men. Cis women learn over the course of their entire lives what kinds of things will attract attention and what kinds of things will keep you safe. I had to figure it all out really quickly, by myself, and I still make lots of mistakes… like eye contact, for instance. The guy on the train was sort of “my fault” in the sense that I’d looked back at him and made eye contact.

    1. First first, or the new first?

      The Start Trek short skirts have always bothered me because I always assumed that way in the future everyone would be wearing the most amazing and advanced yet practical and comfortable clothing ever. So why is it that movie makers often have their “future” characters wear amazingly impractical looking, sexist, and clearly uncomfortable crap? Oh damn, I almost forgot that movie makers today have not yet achieved the egalitarian ideal they so often try to represent in their movies.

          1. Obviously they’re made with a built in function to automatically remove waste materials from inside your body and recycle them. Only need to take it off to get your Kirk on.

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