I've been giving myself headaches reading some blog posts.
Start here: Schrodinger's Rapist: or a guy's guide to approaching strange women without being maced
. On how women navigate the risk of being raped/assaulted every day of their lives, and what men may do to alleviate that risk a little, all presented in the form of a primer on approaching women in public. (Comments are worth a read.)
In the same vein: How not to be an asshole: a guide for men
and Stuff What Boys Can Do.
The first is written by a man, which I wish wasn't worth brownie points, but it is; and the second goes a little more in-depth by means of personal anecdata.
And for those of you who read the above and still have no idea what's going on (as I kind of didn't): Rape Culture 101
Tangentially related: Dear Fat Nutritionist: You're pretty good-looking (for a girl).
One (overweight) woman's experience with beauty and how it changed how people reacted to her.
And I still haven't gone through all the links I've found yet.
As I've been reading these, and the comments from women sharing their own personal experience, I felt: sympathy, caution, solidarity, a renewed commitment to my own safety and a need to examine my own assumptions about race and class as they relate to the issue of Not Trusting Men. And I also felt something kind of ugly: jealousy. Who are these women who are apparently attractive enough to men to be stalked/accosted/assaulted? Why don't men think I'm a worthy target?
Which is a giant load of horseshit,
of course. First, I have
had trouble with skeevy guys in college, though these were extremely minor events. And there was that guy at the Def Leppard concert, and a couple of people at the Renfest, so it's not like I've never been the target of Creepy Male Attention in my life. It's just never gone anywhere worth mentioning. Second - oh my god,
self. Are you seriously letting your self-worth get tangled up with being sexually assaulted?
Well, yes, I am. This is how our culture of conflating sex with violence-against-women has affected me, and I'm nowhere near as enlightened as I thought I was. Regardless of my preference for women, regardless of the very real fear of what these men could do to me, I still have a hunk of cultural sludge in my brain that says 'sexual assault means you're desirable, and desirable is exactly equal to being worth something.'Oh my god,
self. Brb, beating inner demons with a stick.
(And it's not like I don't know why I'm not a target. It's laughingly simple. I stay away from people.
It probably helps that I don't put effort into my appearance, I have a lot of 'don't touch me' body language, and I dress more or less like a guy, but those things have never been Rapist Raid from a historical perspective.)Reading all these things also kind of makes me feel kind of skeevy about my taste in porn fic, but that's a whole 'nother blog post.