On gender equality and elevators

by look i have opinions

Well, a while ago, this stuff happened. In the interests of gender equality, I would like to propose a new rule for men and women.

Guys! If you ever feel uncomfortable about the way a woman hits on you, it’s okay to talk about it. It’s okay to recount the incident without naming names. It’s okay to explain why her behavior struck you as inappropriate under the circumstances. It’s okay to say, “It creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when women act like that.”

It’s okay to give hetero women advice about how not to creep men out. It’s okay to say things like, “Um, just a word to wise here, gals, uh, don’t do that.” After all, nobody likes creeping people out. Most women will be glad to change their behavior accordingly, even if they’re initially embarrassed.

Men, if you ever find yourself in the position of being physically intimidated or feeling cornered by a woman, it’s okay to talk about it. (I’m not going to come up with examples, but there are a lot of situations where a dude might feel that way.) It’s okay to suggest that, when a woman is obviously capable of physically harming someone, she should be careful about how she treats others. With great power comes great etc.

Also! If you do say something like the above, it’s not okay for other people to respond, “Stop demonizing women for being sexual beings” or “Why should women have to obsessively police their behavior just to avoid being considered man-rapers?!” or “Poor guy, getting asked out by a woman! Do you think you’ve suffered more than any other oppressed group on earth?”

It’s not okay for anyone to respond, “I bet you would have been fine with it if she were a thin gorgeous supermodel” when you haven’t made an issue of physical attractiveness. (Nor is it okay for anyone to call you abnormal or unmanly for turning down a sexual offer—men get that particular variety of flak more often than women.) It’s not okay for anyone to respond, “What a hurtful thing to say about a lady!” when you’ve only criticized her behavior without identifying her.

All this also applies to women talking about men, men talking about men, and women talking about women. It’s not misogynist or misandrist to talk about inconsiderate behavior from members of the other gender. It’s not homophobic to talk about inconsiderate behavior from members of your own gender.

(Note: Just to be clear where I stand on this, I know for a fact that I have creeped people out in the past. I have flirted and stared and “sexualized” people inappropriately—not because I was a bad person, but because I was clueless. Learning about other people’s uncomfortable experiences has helped me be less clueless.)

Edited to add: Stephanie Zvan beat me to the punch.

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