Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's a Guy Thing

I think in the wake of the supposedly "lewd conduct" Senator Larry Craig committed, this is a response we'd all to well to keep in mind:
What I find more astonishing is the definition of "disorderly conduct." By this reckoning, ten years and thirty pounds ago, I had disorderly conduct foisted upon me approximately...let's see...15,923 times.

Per week.
Give or take.

But, even if they're unwanted advances, that's the natural order of things, right? Whereas men have to be protected from the unwanted advances of men at all costs (why? because they're worried they just might succumb to a particularly persuasive piece of foot telegraphy?).

Given the constant, daily harassment women endure (come on now, don't tune out; stay with me, here) -- harassment that makes us compress our daily activities into daylight hours, that circumscribes where we go, who we go with, and even what we wear; intrusive harassment, ruin-your-day, make-you-feel-powerless/angry/depressed harassment -- the overzealous prosecution of the toe-tapper really pisses me off. It's like those sophomore discussions one has of human trafficking, in which someone invariably says "but what about the men?", and then the rest of the discussion, in some form or another, is overwhelmingly preoccupied with those minority cases. Heaven forfend we don't keep men front and center, even if it makes lousy Bayesians of us all.

Look: if there'd been groping, a physical risk, or even just a persistent advance in the face of a single "no" (which doesn't seem to have ever been uttered), I'd be supportive regardless of the gender base-rates involved. But "he tapped his foot and looked at me funny"? Please! Men! Grow a pair!

Via Prettier than Napoleon

One of the things I've noticed about dominant social views on sexuality is that men really believe that a zone of sexual inviolability surrounds them and get really angry when it's penetrated. They want, at all times, to be in complete control of any sexual event or happenstance that involves them--but they don't seem to believe that women deserve the same courtesy. So when there is even the slightest risk of breaching a man's sexual perimeters (e.g., a gay man coming on to you in the bathroom), we erect all sorts of social and legal barriers to block it. Some jurisdictions seem to allow or at least condone violent assaults by heterosexual men being hit on by a gay man at a bar. And as Senator Craig's case shows, even something as tenuous as possibly signaling a sexual proposition of another man in a public place can get you arrested. Stacking that sort of treatment up against the yawning silence we give to the massive amount of street harassment women (especially urban women) face is mind-blowing.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The man only got fined $500, which doesn't seem out of line to me for peeping and trying to have sex in a public restroom. That's just not what they're for, and I'd say the mostly-not-having-sex-in-public-restrooms public has an interest in discouraging the behavior. (Let's not kid ourselves that Craig was trying to pick up someone to take home through subtle signals either, which isn't objectionable to me; it's clearly a case of trying to get it on *in* the stalls).

Now, did he get undue scrutiny from the media? Not in a world where the price of John Edward's haircut is a story.

None of this is to say that blatant harassment of women should not be taken seriously. It should. And it doesn't get Craig off the hook.