Thursday, January 3, 2013
A low down dirty shame
OK so I need to talk about this comic, which I found through the @EverydaySexism twitter account. Have a look, we'll continue below.
So, this roused great emotions within me, not because the behaviour depicted in the comic is horrible, awful, heinous behaviour. I mean, it IS, but that fact isn't what gets me going.
What gets me going is that apparently this actually happens.
Seriously - it doesn't just happen in comics. I know women, and I hear women tell stories, and situations like the one in the comic happen. In real life.
Isn't that insane? I mean, I know that stuff like this happens, but most of the time I don't think about it, and whenever I do think about it, I feel like I've just found out that Die Hard is based on a true story.
Because that...that is just not the way human beings behave. Is it? Obviously it is. Obviously there are a bunch of actual, human, grown adult male people who go around shouting obscenities at women they don't even know.
And I can't fathom that. My mind's gears loudly grind when it tries to process this thought.
Because here's the thing: I'm not a very good guy. On any objective scale, I am a weak-willed, cowardly, thoughtless, selfish, greedy, lazy, uninteresting, socially inept man. This I know. This, I think, is not a secret.
But there is one thing I can say in my favour: it has never occurred to me to shout "show us your tits" at a woman in public. It has never occurred to me to call a woman I don't know a slut because she doesn't enjoy the experience of being sexually harassed. It has never occurred to me to make sexual advances to a stranger at all, let alone one who is simply passing by exhibiting no signs of wishing to be subjected to loud, braying comments upon her physical appearance. Whatever such signs may look like: I don't really know.
And when I say it has never occurred to me, I don't mean that I look at women in the street and make a considered decision not to yell at them. I mean the thought that this might actually be a course of action open to me has never even entered my head. I've never had to make this decision, because I have never, in my entire life, found myself in a situation where I've thought, hmm, maybe I could shout "Nice boobs!" at that lady.
Never. Not once has this happened. Never have I had to weigh the advisability of acting like the men in that comic, because never has my mind even entertained the possibility that I could. Thinking about whether I should harass women on the street is basically in the same category, for me, as thinking about whether I should travel across the Pacific standing upright on the wing of a 737: it's just not an option. The reason I've never had to make a decision about shouting "Show us your tits" is the same reason I've never had to make a decision about eating a live rhinoceros.
And that's why I don't get it: how can these men actually be behaving this way? How can human minds actually not only contain the outright ludicrous concept of publicly bellowing sexually aggressive inanities at someone you've never met, but go on to decide that acting on the thought would be a good expenditure of time and breath?
How? How can this happen in real life?
And yet it does happen in real life, and it's a disgrace. A disgrace for many reasons, but most of all, for this: these men make me look good.
As mentioned before, I'm not much of a man. I am, essentially, lame. But compared to these guys - who seem to be quite numerous - I appear to be some kind of patron saint of sensitive modern masculinity. They are making me look fantastic in contrast to themselves. It therefore becomes possible for me to give myself big ups, to portray myself as a really sensationally nice guy, simply by behaving at a sort of base level of civilised human decency. I'm not really being nice, I'm just being barely ordinary and maintaining a fairly unexceptional belief that the people around me are human beings irrespective of what kind of fleshy lumps their body might be sporting. But when I see other men behaving in the manner detailed above, I feel like I'm actually a pretty nice guy.
The fact is, these guys are giving me a good name. And that is just plain wrong.