(Potential trigger warning: sexual assault, rape, molestation. Also, all of my opinions are based on my perspective as a white, cis female.)
When I was in pre-school a man came to us to talk about Good Touch vs Bad Touch. He showed us a doll that explained public parts and private parts. The public parts were arms or hands, legs...things that everyone has and that everyone sees. The private parts were...well, private. They belong to you and you alone and no one has the right to touch them. In fact, if someone did touch them, they were being naughty and you had to tell a trusted grown up right away.
I was four when I learned this. Twenty-nine years later I am flabbergasted and disgusted that there are peers of mine who still don't understand these concepts.
Yesterday it was brought to the attention of the Internet that Ken Hoinsky (aka TofuTofu) took to Kickstarter to fund a book outlining how to get girls. The front page description and accompanying video don't show anything other than a lame attempt to capitalize on socially awkward men. But when you go to Reddit and take a gander at some of the book's content (Hoinsky's posts), the heinous fuckery most foul can be seen. This is actually a guide to sexual assault.
Now, just over 730 people funded this thing and raised more than 800% Hoinsky's wet dream goal of $2000. In the following 24 hours, more than 47,000 people raised their voices to have this project pulled and the money cut off. Kickstarter, unfortunately, felt that misogyny is too grey an area to police, so they said that while they found the reddit posts "abhorrent" they would do nothing about the project on their site.
Hrm... okay. I guess I don't need to use Kickstarter in the future. Also, Hoinsky responded saying that he is "devastated" that people took his words out of context.
So now that you're brought up to date on all that fun stuff, let's get to why I've asked you to listen to me rant a bit. Like the SFWA debacle earlier this month, I worry that these guys (the authors, the people who funded the project, Hoinsky himself) are actually decent folk. They're probably not rapists just lurking in shadows waiting for the next unassuming female to click by in her heels. The problem is that they DON'T GET IT. Part of it is male entitlement. Part of it is this society that perpetuates rape culture. Part of it is sheer ignorance. We're in an awkward phase where people keep screaming about the messages in society (that hurt both women and men!) and while some are listening, others are truly deaf to it. They don't understand what it's like to live as a woman in this culture.
I need to tell you some things that I hope will enlighten you. (Again, please note the trigger warning.) I was molested at 9 years old by the kid next door. He was a few years older than me and fighting his own pubescent demons. I know that now. But at the time I only knew fear. Fear of him, his temper, being caught, being yelled at by my parents, or his parents. Fear of not being liked if I pushed back and said no louder. Fear of having to see him at school or on the bus every day. (Which was justified as he would later terrorize me and chase me to my house screaming. Daily.)
When someone touches you, looks at you or makes a comment that you find threatening...your brain sortof locks up. Because it's running through all of these possibilities and consequences. It's weighing the fight or flight options and escape routes and calculating strength ratios and cataloging potential weapons and trying to remember that stuff you learned in that self-defense class in college or saw on that movie or heard on the news. Like a computer just spinning on the hourglass, your mind and body freeze.
What do you do?
Oh sure, it's fine when you're in that self-defense class or in a room among friends to say, "I'd kick that sonofabitch in the nuts, break his nose and then hand him his face to eat for breakfast." But in the moment when your body is paralyzed with fear and all the warring voices of your instincts and social conditioning blaring in your ears (all the while you're just thinking to yourself, "This can't be happening") ... the plan goes out the window. Not everyone can find her voice. Not everyone can reach out and land a punch.
Sexual assault is not always penetrative rape. Sometimes it's unwanted touching over the clothes. Sometimes it's a leer and a disgusting comment that leaves a woman needing a bleach shower.
I'll be honest, I read Hoinsky's pages on reddit. The words and the comments urging him on and thanking him made me want to vomit everything I've ever eaten.
"Grab her hand and put it on your dick"? "Force her to rebuff your advances"? Really? Hoinsky touts that he is sensitive to the fact that no means no because he includes this gem:
- If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know. If she says "STOP," or "GET AWAY FROM ME," or shoves you away, you know she is not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this line:
"No problem. I don't want you to do anything you aren't comfortable with." Memorize that line. It is your go-to when faced with resistance. Say it genuinely, without presumption. All master seducers are also masters at making women feel comfortable. You'll be no different. If a woman isn't comfortable, take a break and try again later.
As I mentioned above, not all women can say "Stop". Not everyone can shove. Secondly...and this is what pisses me off... "say this line". Just use this patented script and you'll be in the clear. (Then try again later.)
What Hoinsky is talking about is manipulation of a mark. He's not talking about seducing a woman, he's not talking about fostering a relationship with another human being. He's talking about lubricating a fuckhole.
The problem that underlies all the bullshit with the SFWA, Hoinsky's misguided book and countless examples of everyday sexism, misogyny and harassment boil down to this:
You don't see women as people.
I saw a fantastic image the other day of a woman that said, "She's someone
's sister/wife/daughter/mother" . More and more it seems that this actually needs to be said. That woman on the bus is not a potential sex partner. That booth babe at the con is not there for you to oggle and treat like a piece of meat. That girl in your class is not a conquest.
Women are not here for your enjoyment. We are not here for you to use, abuse, fuck or ruin. You are not entitled to get a single word from anyone on this planet. You are not entitled to have attention lavished on you because you have a dick. You are not entitled to forcibly put me in your lap to show your dominance.
I've seen a lot of comments on threads lately from men saying that they are just paying the woman a compliment. This is not how to do it, guys. Headgames, power plays, unwanted physical contact...these are creepy. Don't be a creeper.
And I'm sure it's difficult. Society has screwed you over, too. I've seen the male role models in love stories and they are kinda fucked up. And the women are often vacuous, vapid and otherwise petty bitches. But that's another post.
I'm so tired of rape culture being the hot topic. Believe me. I've been dealing with this shit on some level since I was a kid. There are a million little things you might not know about being a woman. How we are trained to carry our keys as weapons. How we are trained to "not dress a certain way", to "not act like a slut", to not "give the wrong impression". How we are trained to "deal with it" and make coping mechanisms to grin and bear it when a guy (or group of guys) insists on making lurid comments. How when we talk with one another we realize that a staggering number of us were physically assaulted in one way or another. A few years ago, the teenage daughter of a friend of mine was sexually assaulted when a jackass thought it would be a good idea to "grab her hand and put it on his cock". When alone, the older women were talking about this and someone muttered, "Doesn't anyone get out unscathed?"
Not in that room. There were at least 10 of us there. And none of us could say we'd been untouched by this.
I have a daughter. She's 7 and already knows that if someone touches her she should scream, kick, bite, punch, scratch or do whatever it takes to get away and to a safe adult. She knows that she will be believed and it's safe to tell.
That's what it means to be a woman, guys.
For those who think the world needs Hoinsky's how-to guide, here's my advice: buy a Fleshlight and learn to talk to people. Treat others the way you want to be treated. And know that you're not entitled to shit.
I'm tired of rape culture being the hot topic. More than that, though, I'm tired of rape culture.
UPDATE 6/21/2013 - Kickstarter has apologized and gone further. Read about that here. Well done, Kickstarter. Way to own it.