Jul. 22nd, 2013

pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
The idea that women are allowed to feel nervous around any man they choose, and to enforce that feeling by telling him to cease certain behavior or exit the premise, has really taken off in certain sectors of feminism lately. It's about time. Women were operating under an obligation to honor men's feelings first and their own second, and that's terrible.

Whenever this comes up on blogs, there are comments that I read approximately as "look, I see why you're upset, and rape is totally bad. But there are lots of not rapists, and have you considered that they will be hurt when you reject them? Could you maybe not reject anyone unless you're sure they're a rapist?" These people are assholes. But their abundance has led to an unfortunate tendency to dismiss a man's reactions to rejection as whining at best, and predatory at worse.

That's unfair. For an extreme case see "Trayvon Martin and I Ain’t Shit" by Ahmir Thompson, a black musician. Thomas achieved a lot of artistic success and was invited to a lot of elite, mostly-white spaces. He turned down the invitations because he knew his presence would make people uncomfortable and didn't want to/didn't want to see them react to him like that.

I mean, that is a crazy way to live. Seriously, imagine a life in which you think of other people's safety and comfort first, before your own. You're programmed and taught that from the gate. It's like the opposite of entitlement
...
My friends know that I hate parking lots and elevators, not because they are places that danger could occur, but it's a prime place in which someone of my physical size can be seen as a dangerous element. I wait and wait in cars until I feel it's safe for me to make people feel safe.

You can say that people feel unsafe around Thomas for bad reasons (skin color, size, hair style), and feminists are talking about good reasons (boundary violations), but that's not right. What I want to fight for is specifically the right of people to not have to justify why they don't feel safe around someone, and have that honored without friction. Women are imperfect, and I will not stand to see their rights dependent on their perfection, so that will include bad reasons. But supporting that will inflict hurt on people like Thomas, and that's not right.

Women's feelings of unsafety are legitimate. Thomas's feelings of isolation and dehumanization are also legitimate. Having the right to our feelings does not give us the right to have other people react the way we wish. Which, coincidentally, is what we've been trying to teach creepy men about women: you can want her all you want, but you do not have a right to have that desire welcomed. We're allowed to be obviously creeped out, we have a right for men not to treat us safely even if we are not being nice, but we have no particular right for them to like it.

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