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People expecting the worst December 13, 2009

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Breaking the fourth wall, Durham, Sheer bloody-mindedness.
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I was, as is probably predictable by now of a Saturday night, walking up to the theatre with Linguist Housemate, when we passed a few of Durham’s more glorious drunkards who attempted to high-five her.  She feigned deafness and selective blindness with a skill and ease  I always find impressive, and just kept on walking.  Being the closest thing Techie Towers has to a Militant Feminist In Residence, I thought this would be an interesting opportunity to run past her the idea that Jenny blogged about, that is, that attempting to high-five a woman, or wolf-whistling her, amounts to subconsciously trying to make her scared.

“Of course it is,” said Linguist Housemate.  (I envy her black-and-whiteness sometimes.)  “They wouldn’t do that to a man, would they?”

Durham counts among its oddball features a particularly talkative range of drunkards, who have a tendency to strike up conversation with passers by.  This usually strikes me as amusing, although sometimes it’s entirely misplaced: I think I might have given a few kids a complex a few weeks ago by bursting into tears when they asked me across the road what college I was from, and being told “I like your beret” by half a dozen men with broad accents who probably weigh twice as much as you each is naturally a little on the daunting side, but essentially perfectly harmless.  They’re trying to be clever for their mates.  I sympathise with anyone who makes an arse out of themselves in front of strangers, even if I wish they didn’t.  But the fact is that I’ve been on my own, and been talked to by drunks, and I’ve been with other girls, and been talked to by drunks, and I’ve also been with entirely boys and in a mixed group and the same thing’s happened.  So I’m not entirely sure about this one.

Equally, and here’s where I think the big problem is, I don’t think you can make the connection between ‘they’d only do it to a woman’, and, ‘therefore it’s a bad thing’.  There are plenty of things I’d only say to women: like complimenting them on their shoes in a queue, or randomly encouraging them to buy chocolate.  I’m all in favour of the philosophy that if you’ll say it to me, you can say it to my perhaps slightly misleadingly imposing 6′ 3″ boyfriend (sorry, dear) – and you can buy him a drink too, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind… but honestly, there’s something wrong with dressing like a whore but there’s also something wrong with going help! help I’m being objectified! when you feel in the slightest bit uncomfortable.  I don’t think it’s all a myth, not in the slightest, but I do think there’s very much a culture among the Modern Feminist Types to just assign any worry they feel in a given situation to any man participating in it.  That’s wrong, that’s unhealthy, and that’s only going to perpetuate a divide.

And anyway, think how much worse it would be if we didn’t have drunken social interaction with strangers.

(This isn’t to say that if you disagree with me you’re acting like this, it’s jsut vaguely relevant and besides I’m very conscious that that was a rant and I haven’t even got any socks to show you afterwards!)

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Comments»

1. Jenny - December 13, 2009

I’m very aware of any tendency I have to go ‘help, help I’m being objectified’ and get real about the situation at hand! I do just sometimes feel targeted because I’m a lone woman battling through the streets late at night. Not that this often happens, but. And I feel targeted *as a woman* i.e. my inner feminist at least has the perfect right to mutter darkly in the corner of my brain without having the rest of my brain heckling her too much…

That said why shouldn’t my inner feminist be personified as man? OK, ‘…without having the rest of my brain heckling HIM too much’. Or it. Or something.

Shut up Jenny…
xxx

2. Dickie - December 13, 2009

“a few of Durham’s more glorious drunkards who attempted to high-five her”
Drunk people high-five anyone!!!

“There are plenty of things I’d only say to women: like complimenting them on their shoes in a queue, or randomly encouraging them to buy chocolate”
I wouldn’t be offended if more people noticed my shoes. They’re pretty nice. (and now I’m gonna go do Manly stuff to make up for that comment… :-p)

“but I do think there’s very much a culture among the Modern Feminist Types to just assign any worry they feel in a given situation to any man participating in it. That’s wrong, that’s unhealthy, and that’s only going to perpetuate a divide.”
Yes!

3. mpdehnel - December 14, 2009

Completely ignoring the rest of the blog entry (sorry, it’s too early to think about this sort of thing intelligently), I ❤ Python. Such a superb clip. 😀

4. thewariefiend - December 15, 2009

You may tell Linguist Housemate that I would do it to men, in fact, I have done it to men. I neary did it to two male friends of mine last night until I realise they were almost certainly on a date and would probably rather be left alone. I do it to whoever I know it will boost rather than reduce confidense and happiness levels. It isn’t necissarily repressive. We can reclaim social actions.
I realise the ‘they’ stipulated in the statement is an entirely differnt social-ideological group with a very different view of sexuality and who aren’t likely to get enthused by Eve Sedgewick’s queer theory. But why the hell shouldn’t they? It’s about sensetivity not gender. And so to this I stick out my tounge. Look it’s a pink and eveything.


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