Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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My two penn'orth

oursin has lots of sensible things to say here about the Open Source Boobies project.

Having read the post by one of the main instigators, I took away the same impression as oursin, namely that the original event was what would, in the 1960s, have been called a "happening". Something that was spontaneous, outrageous and designed to shake things up a bit in a non-violent and non-harmful way. Yes, probably a bit tacky in hindsight, but what the heck?

Making it "official" and repeating the event at another con was where it all went horribly wrong.

The problem with the idea of going up to women and asking to feel their breasts isn't about the sexual aspect. Well, it is. The idea of men getting their jollies by fondling strangers in public is a bit off-putting to say the least, even if the women genuinely don't mind. But it isn't just that. As oursin says in her post: it was not either hug or not-hug, but about not pushing in, waiting one's turn, and being a bit sensitive to others. The concept of the OSBP takes insensitivity to whole new level.

It took me a while to think of a non-sexual and gender neutral analogy, but I think I have finally have one. How about, at the next con I go to, I say that I just love the feeling of crisp banknotes riffling through my fingers. And other people's banknotes feel even better that my own. Perhaps a few of my friends feel the same? Why don't we go round asking people if they'll open up their wallets and let us have a feel of the contents. If you haven't got cash, credit cards feel really good too. That smooooth plastic, the little raised numbers... Mmmm.... That's really good...

I don't think we'd get very far, do you? And indeed we shouldn't be allowed to. We'd be invading people's privacy, even if we gave out badges for people to wear saying "Yes" or "No" and even if we assume that not wearing a badge means "No". I suspect people would be hanging on tightly to their wallets and tucking them away even more securely and they'd be eyeing us nervously as we progressed around the convention space in case we didn't spot that they weren't wearing a badge or forgot the rules.

Human beings just don't normally interact like that. Animals don't interact like that. Watch two horses approaching one another for the first time. There's a delicate dance of greetings and sniffing and reading one another's body language. It's a million miles from marching up, asking a point-blank question and demanding a yes/no answer about something normally regarded as personal and private. Whatever happened to getting to know someone as a person and proceeding with the delicate negotiations that precede intimacy?

No, these people just want to cut that out and just demand women give them what they want. Behaving like this is assuming an air of entitlement that really is mind-boggling.

The really mind-boggling thing is that the perpetrators genuinely seem unable to see why anyone should object. Which is why I wanted to think of a non-sexual analogy because anyone objecting is liable to be just labelled a prude and a killjoy, which is missing a large part of the point. The behaviour is just completely inappropriate, regardless of what they're asking for.
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