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[personal profile] eleri
Was reading through some posts elsenet about dealing with Creepy Guys- and all of the information and advice given was spot on... but I noticed something in some of the posts that bugged me.

See, there was quite a few ladies who said "OMG yeah, we had this guy who was such a slimeball/creep/pervert..." and then they'd go on to describe a guy who would offer/ask for physical contact, and stop when told no. Often they'd say how said guy would offer to someone else- and that someone might say yes. And the write would express confusion that someone would 'seem' to be enjoying contact with the guy.

And that's where it bugged me. Here are people who are stating a physical request openly, and taking no as an answer, but because they make the offer to multiple people, or ask more than once on different occasions, they're a creepy pervert. Even if they take no, even if they don't complain and whine about your no, they're a creep. And if (like someone did) you spoke up and say you don't find that creepy, you got jumped on. Called a rape apologist, enabler, told you are invalidating the victim's feelings, and so on.

I keep seeing things like this around, and it is really starting to get to me. Like the essay someone linked to a while back that said that if you've ever 'persuaded' your chosen partner to have sex by snuggling them or nibbling them or whatever when they've not really been in the mood- then you are guilty of assaulting them, violating their boundaries, forcing them into coercive sex. I've even seen it called 'soft rape'(like there's degrees of rape or somesuch, the same people get pissed at 'rape'-rape ...). I dunno about the rest of you, but there's been times when I'm kinda 'eh' about sex, and a few well placed nibbles or whispered words gets me happily in the mood. The idea that I've somehow been coerced against my will is to laugh. Have I ever had sex when I didn't really want to? Yup. Did I feel horribly violated? Nope. I enjoy my partner's enjoyment, even when mine isn't percolating. I sit and watch movies I'm not really into, too.

I dunno where I'm going with this, really- other than the simple concept of no-means-no seems to have turned into this you-are-a-predator-if-you-can't-correctly-interpret-every-person-around-you's-non-verbal-communication rule instead, and I don't think that serves women or men very well.

It feels like a culture of absolutism is evolving- where openly expressing admiration for someone's physical traits is *always* offensive; asking for any level of physical contact makes you suspect (even as you are required to ask every time); physical intimacy will only be labeled non-coersive if you negotiate a written contract ahead of time, only the girl gets a clause to change or end the contract mid-stream, and the guy isn't even allowed to express a sense of sexual dissapointment, let alone any other emotions. Where every male is assumed to be a threat, and every woman is expected to act like they are.

Date: 2012-08-08 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zanda-myrande.livejournal.com
One writer on my flist posted a piece saying that the view expressed in your last line is a matter of simple fact, that whenever any woman encounters any man, even a friend or family member, she has to think He may try to kill me. That's an idea that saddens and horrifies me. Another says we should treat other people with the respect we give stray dogs. I never go near stray dogs.

Of all the worrying and frightening trends we see around us, I think this is the saddest.

Date: 2012-08-08 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eleri.livejournal.com
Exactly. We're building a culture where showing physical affection, making physical contact with anyone is shunned, because it might maybe somewhere be interpreted as maybe sexual- all while everything around us is seeped in artificial sexual imagery. We've come to a point where encouraging some basic common sense (like, don't walk down dark alleys alone...) is seen as victim-blaming and promoting rape culture.

Should the emphasis be on teaching Don't Rape? Fuck yes. Should suggesting that women know how to prevent and protect against predators be labeled as 'rape apology'? Hell no. If you start down that road then you need to tell people who put home alarms in that they are encouraging theft, or security measures on your computer encourage hackers, or seatbelts encourage drunk drivers.

If a woman has been raped, and then spends her time walking around looking at every man thinking 'he might rape me'- she has cloaked herself in fear, and handed over all her power to the person who assaulted her. And that reaction is *normal*, to a point. Eventually, with the right supports, she shouldn't have to be constantly afraid.

But if that starts becoming the cultural norm, if all women are expected to think like that, even if they themselves have never been assaulted- if disagreeing with that mindset makes you the *enemy*... then there is something seriously fucked up- and it is *not* just the fault of 'rape culture'.

Date: 2012-08-08 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] johnpalmer.livejournal.com
Well... I'm not going to defend the accused-creep, *nor* the accuser, because so much is context dependent. And it's really complicated.

If I tried to flirt when I'm detached and depressed, I might come across "wrong" - and therefore creepy. If that creeped someone out, well, that's a shame - it doesn't make me creepy, but it also doesn't make their reaction invalid. They shouldn't feel they ought to "give him another chance." In the general sense, if you feel a guy is creepy, you shouldn't think "well, maybe it's *me*, not *him*."

Of course, if they know one of my friends, they might be convinced to give me (a singular, particular person - not a generic guy who creeped them out) another chance, once they learn that I have chronic depression, and sometimes come across weirdly, but I'm quite harmless.

But unless and until they learn something different, they have to protect themselves first and foremost, and anything that suggests they shouldn't is risky.

And, I think, with a full intention of doing something noble, some folks will shoot down anything that even *hints* at rape apology, or a suggestion that it's wrong to trust one's instincts, or whatever. Even if someone, with full intention of doing something noble, points out that there's nothing inherently wrong with "wow, I find you very attractive, and if you wanted to, I'd have sex with you... oh, not interested? Okay, no hard feelings, I hope!"

Because there's nothing inherently wrong with saying that (saying it to a nun in full habit might be rude...), but if it creeped a woman out, she still has a right to feel creeped out, and might feel violated, even though the guy was trying to project safety. And that doesn't have to be anyone's fault... it doesn't have to be his fault, or hers. Sometimes conversations fall apart if people think there must be fault in these situations.

Date: 2012-08-08 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eleri.livejournal.com
See, I agree with that. If person X feels creeped out by person B, then they do- and they have every right to say 'hey, I felt creeped out by them'.

It is when it crosses from 'they creeped *me* out' to 'they are a creep, and everyone else should think so too, and if you don't then you must be supporting their creepiness.' that I think it is a problem.

And I'm seeing it go beyond even that into 'anyone who acts like X is a creepy pervert- no matter what their thoughts, motivations or personality may truly be.' And that's being applied to every type of contact.

Date: 2012-08-08 10:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] johnpalmer.livejournal.com
Nod. One thing I have learned, though... sometimes, in a particular conversation, a person won't be able to agree that "they aren't necessarily a creep". The nerves are too raw, or maybe the issue is too important. The right person might lead them through a series of questions or somesuch that gets them to say "...so, not everyone who creeps people out is a creep... OH!" but it won't happen without just the right questioning line, and it won't happen unless they're led there consensually.

Date: 2012-08-09 01:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nightshade1972.livejournal.com
I've seen several newspaper articles here in Houston recently, detailing problems with the concept of "statutory rape". While it's absolutely appropriate to charge a 40 year old for having sex with a 4 year old, many angry parents of teenaged girls decided to use "statutory rape" to their advantage, to "punish" their daughter's older boyfriend. They figure once he's aware of the charge, he'll leave their daughter alone. Unfortunately, if the boyfriend is actually *convicted* of statutory rape, he has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. The articles I've seen quote many of the parents of the girls as saying that if they'd known the boy would have to permanently register as a sex offender, they never would have wanted the charges to go forward. There were even some instances where the girl's parents specifically asked that the charges against the boy be dropped, only to have the prosecutor's office refuse.

Another problem I've seen is when the concept of "date rape" goes too far. Prom queen and class nerd are at the same party. Both of them get drunk. They consensually sleep together. Next morning prom queen wakes up, and realizes she just spent the night with the class nerd. It'll negatively affect her social standing if she admits she willingly slept with the class nerd, so she says "He raped me."

As I said, 40 year olds should definitely not be allowed to have sex with 4 year olds. I absolutely believe that there are predators out there whose preferred modus operandi is "date rape". I'm aware of the recent Readercon incident. While I'm not entirely certain, based on the woman's description of events, that *I* would have considered the man's behavior "stalkerish and creepy", it doesn't matter what *I* think, since it didn't happen to me. It matters what the woman thinks. If she felt threatened, I'm glad she had the strength to report it. I'm disappointed in Readercon's initial reaction to events, but at least there was enough public outcry that they ultimately did the right thing.

I absolutely agree with your last paragraph. A man shouldn't be afraid to tell me he finds me attractive, for fear that I might label him a "creepy stalker". Men consider it something of a "badge of honor" when a woman tells him he's "hot", why shouldn't women allow themselves to enjoy compliments in the same way?

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