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kate_nepveu


incidents and accidents, hints and allegations


wood cat
Kate kate_nepveu
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On asking to touch the breasts of a stranger

If you are a stranger, especially a man, perhaps especially in a group of other strangers who are men, and you come up to me and say, "You're very beautiful. I'd like to touch your breasts. Would you mind if I did?":

You will put me in fear.

Because you could be someone who will go away quietly if I say no (which I will). You could be the exiled gay prince of Farlandia, cursed to wander this Earth looking for the key to his return that can only be revealed by touching the breast of a willing stranger, and who isn't enjoying this at all. You could, in short, not be a danger to me.

But how am I supposed to know that?

How am I supposed to distinguish you from the person who says he's really just whatever, but is actually going to put emotional pressure on me, or make a scene, or stalk me, or rape me?

I can't. Because that would require a level of discernment and of trust that is not possible, by definition, in my dealings with a stranger.

And therefore, if you ask to touch my breasts, you will frighten me.

If your goal is actually to make a better world, I suggest that you use a method that doesn't involve putting women in fear.

(Also, I find it hard to believe you can create "the kind of world where [people can] say, 'Wow, I'd like to touch your breasts,' and people would understand that it's not a way of reducing you to a set of nipples and ignoring the rest of you, but rather a way of saying that I may not yet know your mind, but your body is beautiful," by going up to women, touching their breasts, and then going away. Among many, many other problems that are noted in the comments to the original. But that's secondary to my main point here.)


leighdb

2008-04-22 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

God, I forgot about that article. Cat Piss Man!

My non-geek friends do not believe me, sometimes, when I tell them about the version of him I met. *shudder*

theweaselking

2008-04-22 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

There's a "Wizard's Tower" - a gaming and comic store - near my new house. I haven't been in yet, although I mean to go[1]. torrain stopped in once, on a Sunday, during "gaming time", and immediately turned around and left again, because the place was full of screeching 30-something doughboys who *stunk*.

[1]: Mostly to either confirm that the place stinks all the time, or to tell the owner that the Sunday Stank is driving off paying customers.

leighdb

2008-04-22 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

This is why I only peruse the comics at the Barnes & Noble or Borders. Even though to date I've only ever bought Neil Gaiman graphic novels anyway.

Seriously, what is it with certain substrata of society and the aversion to smelling nice? I don't get it. If I have to go for more than a day without bathing I feel disgusting. How do you stand yourself if you stink all the time?

cmdr_zoom

2008-04-23 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)

The human mind is remarkably good at filtering out constant low-level stimuli/noise. Consider, for example, how hard it is to smell what your house smells like. I'm not talking about unusual odors, like a recent growth of mold, or strong smells like an open trash can or cleaning solution. If you've been to other peoples' houses, you know that every dwelling has a scent... except yours. Because you don't notice it. You subconsciously filter it out. (If you really want to know what your own house smells like, go away for a weekend, or a week, and pay attention when you first open the door - before your brain has a chance to adapt to "the new normal" and edit it from your perceptions again.)

Likewise, people who live in noisy environments learn to ignore the noise, and may even feel disturbed (consciously or not) without it. Experiments were done with glasses fitted with prisms that inverted the view of subjects; their brains eventually adapted to the flipped visual input and they were able to function normally, until the glasses were removed and they had to learn how to see the "right" way all over again.

So that's the "how do you stand it" part answered - they honestly don't notice. As to why?

Hygiene and personal grooming takes time and effort, even for males (qualifier added because, in my experience, the level of "acceptable/minimal" required maintenance is much higher in this society for females). If you're feeling lazy, and you don't think anyone's going to notice (because YOU don't notice, see above), and/or you just don't care or think such things are important (along with fashion and social graces), you might be tempted to skip bathing every other day, or not brush your teeth EVERY morning, or whatever.

I wish I could say I don't speak from personal experience here, but we all have things in our pasts we regret, yes?

leighdb

2008-04-23 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you for your very cogent explanation.

It makes sense to me, up to a point. I mean, you're completely right about the human nose adapting to constantly-present smells after a while - which is my theory of why anyone is able to be a forensics pathologist.

I just - I mean, damn. I'm talking about those folks who don't so much have body odor as they have a blast radius. And it's not just geeks, either; I met some dreadlocked hippie-granola I Believe In Only All Natural Baking Soda Deodorant potheads in Austin who could knock out a cow at twenty paces.

It's harder to smell yourself than others, true, but I've been in situations where I've been forced to do without bathing for a few days at a stretch (camping trips and the like), and while I got used to the smell, I still was definitely aware of it. I guess maybe the difference was that I cared?

(Also, apologies to Kate for hijacking her comment thread to discuss B.O. I'll shut up if we're, uh, stinking up the joint.)

kate_nepveu

2008-04-23 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

No worries. I'm finding it interesting too.

ms_daisy_cutter

2008-04-24 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Want some trainwreck reading?

yep_i_smell

I can't read more than a post on that comm without retching.

(Anonymous)

2008-04-24 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

It's not even subconscious: it's lower-level than that. It's *neurological*. Sensory neurons habituate fast and stop firing much if a stimulus persists. (This is why you don't feel your clothing all the time.)

(Speaking as someone who, hygiene-wise, had entirely too many similarities to Cat Piss Man until four or five years ago, the largest effect of acquiring personal hygiene skills from my POV has been that I now notice all the *other* buggers who smell like the back end of a horse. I suppose people probably don't try to avoid me anymore, either, but I'm shy enough that this is a slight *disadvantage* from my perspective. Unfortunately I'm not enough of a bastard to say OK, let's stink again to drive them off... ;} )

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