No, underwear is not the same as swimwear

enero 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

[Content note/Trigger Warning: Rape culture, assumptions about consent]

So a Facebook friend of mine posted this earlier today, thinking it was funny.

(The Spanish-language bit, by the way, says: “FEMALE LOGIC: Incomprehensible to all men”)

My first instinct was to defriend the guy on the spot: we’re not that close, and I doubt he’d notice. A second thought was to blast the entire ideas expressed in the picture for the bunch of sexist crap it is.  The idea that eventually won out, though, was to post this (in Spanish, which I’ve translated here):

Nothing complicated or illogical about it: just like I have no problems being naked in front of my (theoretical) girlfriend, but would have problems being naked in front of a classroom, there are women who have moments where they like showing skin, and others when they don’t.”

While possibly more diplomatic than they deserved (yeah, “they” the post quickly received multiple comments about how “true” the sentiment expressed in the picture was), and probably less forceful than is necessary, it’s what I was willing to say out loud–I’m not good with confrontations.  If nothing else, I hope that some of them at least get the point that this is not just an idiosyncrasy only women indulge in, or senseless.  Still, it only scratches the surface of the Brobdingnagian amount of fail expressed in the picture.  Hence, this post.

I’ll grant this to the poster: there are people–not all of them women–who do, in fact, feel this way.   I can not speak as to the reasons why, except to say that culture has a lot to do with it.  We’re taught that different contexts require different responses, and what’s okay in the beach (displaying a lot of skin) isn’t okay in the funeral parlor, and this is a natural extension of that.  Saying that this is something that only women do is, at best, unobservant and at worst, dishonest.

This picture also carries with it the underlying idea that if a woman is open to dressing or acting sexily in one place, then she must be okay with being that same way everywhere else, which no: I reject the premise in its entirety.  Just because a woman (person, really) consents to being ogled, or kissed, or whatever in one place does not mean that she must consent in every other context.  She’s free to give or withdraw that consent, no ifs, ands, or buts–that’s what the word MEANS.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  If a woman I’m with feels embarrassed when I accidentally catch her changing, even after we’ve spent the day at the pool, well then that’s quite alright–I feel  the same way, lots of times.  She’s allowed to have her own opinion: it is her right as a person.  And if I happened to believe that what she wants is secondary, and don’t apologize for disrupting her privacy, then congratulations, me: I’m a huge asshole.

Second is the implication that women are inherently senseless (“Female logic”), which includes the corollary that men are logical, and that never the twain shall meet–individuality or personhood need not apply. It’s this type of thinking that forms a major part of the rape culture feedback loop.  After all, if women aren’t logical like men, then they are less than men–less than people.  And if they’re less than people, you don’t need to feel empathy for them, and it’s okay to grope them and harass them and embarrass them, and to make proposals in elevators and to drug their drinks.  After all, they’re just women, right?

And women aren’t the only ones being insulted here–men are, too, since the poster implies no men can understand  women, which personally offends me.  I’ve worked very hard to try to understand people, so implying that I can’t understand half the world’s population belittles my efforts and my intelligence.  If you can’t that’s fine (no it’s not), but don’t go I think the same way you do just because we happen to share a Y gene.

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