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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.)

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Well...err...I mean, you are attractive and all that (for all that we only met once several years ago).

But I have to say that the only way I'd ask to do that to someone would be in a medical or romantic context. Since I'm not a doctor and don't play one on TV and our romantic involvement is nonexistent...

OTOH, I might well ask if I can hug you, because I'm a huggy type of person

I might well ask if I can hug you, because I'm a huggy type of person

I'd say the same, and that applies to filkerdave as much as to kate_nepveu. But "might" is definitely a key word there; if I have doubts about the answer I'll probably never even ask.

OTOH, I don't mind online friends greeting me with a hug (without asking) on first meeting in person, even if there haven't been any e-hugs going back and forth beforehand.

You are articulate. That post makes me so angry I can't speak.

My body is not an open source universal shared resource, thank you.

I think that's one of the things that was irking me, and I think you've succinctly summed it up. It's taken me AGES to eradicate the notion that I'm here to appease other people.

(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 01:44 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Ferrett, while entertaining, is often a complete moron.

A friendly grope from a cherished friend is not going to do much more than make me laugh ( viz. Kenneth in Vegas or PRK in Indy), a request from a total stranger may well prompt me to punch him in the mouth for assuming that level of familiarity.

I think anyone who has the idea that making everyone's bodies "open source" will make the world a better place has more than a couple screws loose.

I don't know him. Do you? I entertained the possibility that he wasn't being serious about the reasons offered for doing this, but enough people seemed to be taking him seriously that I thought this was worth saying.

(no subject) - scifantasy, 2008-04-22 02:01 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - missysedai, 2008-04-22 02:49 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 03:00 pm (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - gaudior, 2008-04-22 06:30 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 06:35 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ad_kay, 2008-04-23 03:31 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - pecunium, 2008-04-27 06:26 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Having clicked on that link, may I just say, thanks you, because all I can find to type is Eeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Wow, I'd like to touch that guy's face. With a hammer. It's a very loving and respectful hammer.


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(no subject) - veejane, 2008-04-22 01:05 pm (UTC)(Expand)
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I really have to use this icon - gehayi, 2008-04-24 05:47 am (UTC)(Expand)
Been at that convention. Extremely uncomfortable that this was afoot. Oddly, didn't see a lot of female takers wearing the "yes you may" buttons, though I admit to being tired enough to miss them. Funny, that. Also, a counter "no you may not" button was circulating.

:reads link: Ah, okay, I missed things. I just...the way our culture is right now makes me uncomfortable with this idea. I'm not saying sex or bodies are bad. At some point, without having much noticed, I got over that enough that it surprises me when other people are guilty or ashamed of sex or their bodies. Nonetheless, there is still enough power dynamic between men and women even in America that it doesn't feel like an open safe choice in general. Still thinking on this.

(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 01:48 pm (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - sparkymonster, 2008-04-22 08:22 pm (UTC)(Expand)
unwanted touch by women - pir_anha, 2008-04-23 01:26 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: unwanted touch by women - sparkymonster, 2008-04-23 01:40 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 10:17 pm (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - caorann, 2008-04-23 02:22 am (UTC)(Expand)
If you mean ShoreCon in NJ? - theotherbaldwin, 2008-04-23 05:16 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: If you mean ShoreCon in NJ? - caorann, 2008-04-23 05:25 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: If you mean ShoreCon in NJ? - wizardru, 2008-04-24 03:37 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - geoviki, 2008-04-24 12:00 am (UTC)(Expand)
Strangers be darned, I wouldn't let most of my friends explore my chest for no good reason. And I'm a man. In Scandinavia. While I normally don't use the phrase WTF, this comes really close. I surmise it was a "you had to be there" thing (which normally involves mind-altering substances of prolonged sleep deprivation, in my observation.)

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Thank you! I was proud of that. =>

Fandom seems to include a lot of people whose utopian schemes make no allowance for path-dependence. There's no thought given to how the world got this way except for a general idea that terrible repressed people were ashamed of human bodies.

More to the point, fandom seems to include a lot of creepy guys.

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(no subject) - ms_maree, 2008-04-24 04:03 am (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - ms_daisy_cutter, 2008-04-25 10:16 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-26 02:14 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Well said. - grendelkhan, 2008-04-26 04:11 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Well said. - ms_daisy_cutter, 2008-04-26 09:52 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Well said. - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-26 02:23 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Well said. - ms_daisy_cutter, 2008-04-27 07:18 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 01:49 pm (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-25 05:14 pm (UTC)(Expand)
God, this makes me ill.

There is also the assumption that women's bodies should be physically available to others. And that in a perfect world they would be.

Making up buttons adds a certain anonymous creepiness to it that I can't articulate.

And honestly, I'm generally OK with people I'm not emotionally intimate with, but that I know casually, touching my body if they ask. In context. A stranger walking up to me and asking that is not OK

Edited at 2008-04-22 01:22 pm (UTC)

That too!

I've read the post and several dozen of the hundreds of comments to it. My only comment there was to the person who thinks that this is morally wrong:
What seems to be missing from your comment here--and from many of the others I read, is an acknowledgment that intimacy is expressed in different ways by different people and in different relationships. I once knew someone who wouldn't hug people, even good friends after long separation, because hugging should "mean something," and to this person that "something" was clearly sexual. On the other hand, there are people for whom sexual intercourse is not necessarily "intimate."

If your objection is truly a moral one, then it seems that either (1) it should apply only to those people for whom breast-touching has the intimacy-value that you place on it or (2) it should apply universally to all actions on which anyone places the intimacy-value that you place on breast-touching.

Other than that, I have very mixed feelings. I generally prefer situations in which everyone is free to ask for what they want and everyone is free to give it or not. I do not think there is anything "wrong" in wanting anything at all; I think the only wrong is pressuring (for wide values of "pressure") or forcing someone else to give it to you.

OTOH, I recognize that many women (actually, many people, but I think the relevant situations invovle women) feel "pressure" (again, for wide values) in situations where I feel none. The scenario you describe,
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?"
strikes me as different from the one the post describes in two significant ways: (1) the limited venue of a con, and (2) women in the group of touchers. In that situation, I would feel no fear at all.

One thing that strikes me is that it reminds me of something I have never understood: women who complain that a man is interested only in her body, but who does not care if a man is interested in her only for her mind (let's say, for example, a gay male work colleague). I feel that "I" am both body and mind. For myself, I see no difference between "I'd like to get to know your body better" and "I'd like to get to know your mind better."

(1) the limited venue of a con, and (2) women in the group of touchers. In that situation, I would feel no fear at all.

In my experience, people at a con are still likely to have poor boundaries, pressure women sexually, not take "no" as an answer, etc. etc. I know a lot of women are much more comfortable being physically affectionate and/or wearing sexy cleavagey clothing at cons. I think that there is a false sense of safety/security there.

I mean yes at a con there is likely to be a higher percentage of people who are clueful about reading the buttons and paying attention, than in a random sampling of people. But that the percentage isn't high enough for me to say "yes pls grab my boobs kthx"

(no subject) - tiferet, 2008-04-23 05:29 pm (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 10:19 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous), 2008-04-22 10:02 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - cakmpls, 2008-04-22 10:21 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - tiferet, 2008-04-23 05:35 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - cakmpls, 2008-04-24 05:20 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Also, I can't figure out why the concept of "just asking" is such a revolutionary one. People ask other people all the time if they can touch their boobs. IN PRIVATE. Where they can graciously decline or enthusiastically accept without wondering what this will mean to so-and-so's utopian touch movement.

To be more clear: I do not think asking people publically if you can touch parts that most people consider to be intimate is kosher.

(no subject) - badgerbag, 2008-04-23 04:54 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - pixelfish, 2008-04-23 08:23 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - meacoustic, 2008-04-22 01:45 pm (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 04:00 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - jacquez, 2008-04-22 04:08 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 04:10 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - pixelfish, 2008-04-22 04:39 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - jsbowden, 2008-04-22 04:35 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 04:42 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(Deleted comment)
I have never been hit on or sexually harassed at a con. Not all cons are like this. Not all people at cons are like this.

(But OH JOHN RINGO NO clearly needs to be said in those comments!)

(no subject) - rivka, 2008-04-22 02:00 pm (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - kate_nepveu, 2008-04-22 05:32 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - badgerbag, 2008-04-23 05:12 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vvalkyri, 2008-04-24 03:58 am (UTC)(Expand)
(Deleted comment)
You're welcome.

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