Via guerrillamamamedicine, over at Shapely Prose hits all the points that -should- be obvious, but apparently still aren't, to any number of dudes like o f'r instance this one.
We’ve recently had a number of dudes dropping in to complain that asking them to be sensitive to women’s boundaries is essentially cock-blocking them. Sure, they say, if they don’t talk to us when we clearly don’t want them to, they’ll be making us feel less threatened in a world where one in six women is the victim of sexual assault — but on the other hand, they won’t get to talk to us, and how is that fair? Nothing interferes with a man’s ability to score like a woman who doesn’t think his ego trumps her safety. Underlying this argument, along with a host of other scuzzy notions, is the same idea Saletan spikes and the Navy wives catch: that taking a “womanly body” out in public is an a priori invitation for male attention...
Then there were the guys who were clutching their pearls (if you know what I mean) in the epic thread, horrified that women might think they were a danger. After all, it’s not their fault that women feel threatened — they’re decent, humane guys. Maybe some men are dangerous, but not them, and aren’t we really creating the problem by not letting them prove how decent they are all over us?
Those guys are right, sort of. There are lots of great men out there — you can tell who they are because when they read that thread, or Saletan’s piece, they go “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?” And it really isn’t fair that sometimes their wives also think they can’t be trusted in a sub with 138 other guys and a lady. That’s not their fault. But it’s also not their wives’ fault, or the ladies’ fault. It’s the fault of a culture that tells all of us, over and over, that men just don’t have the ability to resist. A culture that assumes it’s women’s responsibility to keep themselves armored and invisible, because sexual violence is a direct result of temptation.
In other words, the same cultural bullshit that asserts men’s right to invade women’s personal space and/or fuck 13-year-olds also perpetuates the notion that men are more dick than brain. That’s why they just have to talk to women, when they can see the women don’t want to! That’s why they get addled by a womanly body when they know it comes with a pubescent mind! They don’t have the willpower or intelligence to not act like cavemen, at least not when faced with feminine wiles.
Fuck that noise! The real decent guys sure don’t deserve that. And the pearl-clutchers, the ones who were horrified by our insistence that rape doesn’t occur in the passive voice… well, who says they deserve it either?
...But what if that’s not good enough for you? What if you’re the kind of self-styled decent guy who still doesn’t feel like it’s fundamentally worthwhile to contribute to a culture where women don’t feel threatened because they aren’t threatened? What reason do you have to forego the rape-joke T-shirts, notice body language signals, object to misogyny, back off when asked to, maintain a comfortable distance, or any of the other little things you can do to bring rape culture down by degrees?
If the well-being of women isn’t enough for you, consider this: patriarchy thinks you’re fucking stupid. It thinks you’re a penis without a brain that’s worthwhile and powerful only because women are vaginas without brains and that’s somehow worse. It thinks you’re untrustworthy, that you can’t be left alone with a woman, that you can’t be left alone with a child. Feminists didn’t make that shit up — they’re just noting it and passing it on.
Anyone who wants to lump this in with "victim feminism" or whatever the current moniker is isn't paying attention. Yes, women have agency. And responsibility. Same as any other human. But what's conveniently left out of the equation a lot of the time, or at least underemphasized, is not only that men have responsibility (also! too!), but what that responsibility consists of. It's not about being "good." It's not about not overpowering delicate wimmins with your brute masculinity or however that incredibly tedious and ubiquitous cultural fetish/trope goes.
It's about have some fucking empathy. It's about, there -is- such a thing as community, no matter what Maggie Thatcher said. And while you're trumpeting about your rights, your individual autonomy, your -free speech-, all those terrific American concepts that are the very same ones we invoke with such handy catchphrases as "my body belongs to me" (nifty little one, there, applies to a lot more than reproductive rights), you might consider that other cliche wherein "your right to swing your fist ends at my nose."
When a whole bunch of swinging dickheads are swinging like all get out and getting into womens' space, at minimum, your responsibility is to not -unsee it-, because it makes you uncomfortable. At -minimum-, you don't go: "Well, yes, he's a jerk, but hey, freedom of expression!" even as someone's standing there clutching her nose. At minimum, you don't go, "yes, okay, there's a lot of fist-swinging going on, (although not as much as you say there is, because -I- don't experience it), but it doesn't add up to anything; it doesn't signify; one and one and one and one do not add up to four, because I will it so."
A side note about the latter phenomenon:
How often do people-the "male pearl clutchers" alluded to above, for instance- not believe that things aren't as shitty as someone else says they are, not just because they wish to perpetuate said shittiness themselves or at least passively profit off it, but because they don't -want- to believe that shittiness exists? Because, that might fuck with their entire worldview as well as their self-image?
(part two to follow)