[personal profile] locore
An awful lot of feminist issues strike me as having a large component that's really about being polite/kind/etc. This morning's reading included an article about some loser whose idea of attractive behaviour was to send a fully nude picture, unsolicited, to a stranger on a dating site. After he failed to understand her expressions of distaste and indignation, she told him she was going to forward the picture to the loser's mother. He wasn't happpy, and instantly went from aggressive to defensive.

At one level, I see a moron with no social skills, who doubles down on his aggression when he receives unappreciative feedback. That's a bad plan, whatever you just did. If someone says they don't appreciate your actions, then it's almost always a good idea to apologize, and stop doing whatever it was. Don't try out variants either. And that's true regardless of context, short of cases where the action is necessary (e.g. giving an unwanted pill to a pet). In the context of trying to connect with a potential date, it's even more absurd - if they don't appreciate your behaviour, you aren't going to get a date. Duh!

Yet this thread immediately verged into discussions of "rape culture" on the one hand, and questions about the statistical likelihood of the "send unsolicited nude pic" strategy resulting in success at getting laid, with a side order of expressing surprise that any woman on a dating site wouldn't expect to have creepy guys sending her dick pics. One loser thinks that a self-description asking folks to "love" her provides authorization for any and every kind of "love", including dick pics.

I'm not sure where I'm going here. This seems to be an open and shut case of "rape culture", except to the extent that no one was commiting or advocating actual rape. I cheered for the woman who contacted the creep's mother. But I'd be cheering for her even if his behaviour was a lot more unusual, and never drew defenders. And I'd be cheering for him if the story were the other way round. Creep=creep=creep.

But then my mind wanders. There are a lot of people requesting that no one ever do thing X, because it offends them. Sometimes the requests are mutually contradictory. I can't keep track of all of them, and some of the time I feel infringed on. Thus for example some people with hidden disabilities apparantly object to the use of the term "spoons" (for capacity to do one more task) by non-disabled people. Now I'm not about to turn up on a forum for folks with some hidden disability, and yammer about how I have spoon issues too - sometimes I get exhausted, can't manage to do all I want to, or even fade out early and become effectively non-functional. That would be rude and unkind. I also won't use that term around a friend who specifically objects to it. But at some contexts I'm going to continue using the term, because it's a brilliant metaphor, makes sense, and I neither know of an alternative nor feel inspired to coin one.

And then there are the objections to what I think of as "geek culture", particularly it's US and Canadian east coast and Scandinavian manifestations. It's blunt. It doesn't have time or space for social niceties. It responds to suggestions with critique, some of it both detailed and trivial. It's also my native language, as it were.

But it's massively off-putting to many people from other cultures. Many of those people are women. Thus it was seen as a problem in itself at the AdaCamp I attended, and I was pretty much shut down when I came up with comments like "is that exclusionary/mean or just geek culture?" From where I sit, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If you come into a place with an established culture, you deal with it. That doesn't mean you tolerate behaviour that's generally regarded as inappropriate, such as slinging insults. But when someone responds to your patch with a list of things to change, that's actually positive. They think it's good enough to be worth spending a lot of time reviewing. And because of the culture, they won't preface their comments with "that's really good, I want to get it into mainline as fast as possible, but in the interests of making it even better/conforming with the project standards/etc. ......" Even though that's what they are thinking.

To me, the right answer is intros for newbies explaining geek culture, and an attempt to get some geeks to remember to include something like the above preface. But it seems that the Adacamp answer is changing the culture. And at the moment I'm biting my tongue trying not to play the disability card with regard to that culture. Because I strongly suspect that this is a culture developed by Aspies (people with Asperger's syndrome) for Aspies. It's massively comfortable for anyone with even subclinical Asperger's syndrome. Expecting it to change to something less comfortable for Aspies - but more comfortable for the statistical majority of women - doesn't seem like such a great idea, even though Asperger's syndrome is statistically more common (or more often diagnosed) in males.

And with this digression, let's go back to "rape culture." North America appears to have a culture where rape jokes are commonly seen as funny, sexual rudeness is seen as appropriate or inevitable (at least when directed from men to women), and folks who commit actual rape frequently aren't convicted or even charged. Some folks feel entitiled to sexual satisfaction, and statistically speaking the majority of those are males. I see it as a good thing to call these people on their bullshit - when it's just rudeness/presumption - and jail them when it becomes assault. I also see it as a good (but unfortunate) thing for the likely victims to take evasive action; personally I'm fond of large noisy dogs, when exercising in public, and staying away from a lot of internet forums. I shouldn't have to take those precautions, and I resent it. But the world never goes the way one wants it to go.

But at the same time, I'm concerned that the whole idea of rape culture is overblown, and paradoxically diminishes the importance of actual rape. If some asswipe tries to pinch my butt, and I stick an elbow in his gut, it's not rape. Same if I don't respond fast enough, and he gets away with it. Same if the asswipe is female, rare as that appears to be. It's not a good thing, and the cumulative effect, for me, was serious reductions in fitness due to reductions in outdoors activity. I'd like to see an end to it. I'd be overjoyed if behaviour like this resulted in mass mockery (of the aggressor) from everyone in sight, and retaliatory violence from the target. But if it were actual rape, I'd prefer to see the offender either dead, or jailed for a long time. (Yes, I consider killing a would-be rapist as appropriate self defence, with the usual caveats about "appropriate force" in self defence situations.)
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