One of the things I like about XKCD is the ironic meta-commentary that happens on multiple levels.
However, I don't actually know any
women who wish the complete stranger but-cute boy on the train would talk to them. Women are trapped on trains and buses, until the vehicle stops. A woman is typically a lot more aware of whether the creepy guy from the bus is following her to work, than whether or not the "cute boy" -- who is nonetheless a complete stranger -- will ever work up the nerve to talk to her. So the XKCD strip? It isn't a scenario I can even imagine a woman writing.
I happened across this particular strip from a comments thread link, following this post: Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced
Although the writer makes a number of assumptions with which I'm not in complete agreement, she also makes a some points that bear discussion and reflection, and sharing with your friends and acquaintances. And in the comments thread, before things go all to hell, woman after woman makes the point that she tries very hard to pointedly read her book or look out the window -- and inevitably, when some guy tries to make conversation, she's braced for him to escalate things to "Jeez, I'm being nice
, bitch - what's your problem
From the post linked above:
Now, you want to become acquainted with a woman you see in public. The first thing you need to understand is that women are dealing with a set of challenges and concerns that are strange to you, a man. To begin with, we would rather not be killed or otherwise violently assaulted.
“But wait! I don’t want that, either!”
Well, no. But do you think about it all the time? Is preventing violent assault or murder part of your daily routine, rather than merely something you do when you venture into war zones? Because, for women, it is. When I go on a date, I always leave the man’s full name and contact information written next to my computer monitor. This is so the cops can find my body if I go missing. My best friend will call or e-mail me the next morning, and I must answer that call or e-mail before noon-ish, or she begins to worry. If she doesn’t hear from me by three or so, she’ll call the police.
It brings to mind a number of thoughtful posts I've seen from men, the last few years, as well.Joss Whedon on "What's wrong with women?" wrote
I have yet to find a culture that doesn’t buy into it. Women’s inferiority – in fact, their malevolence -- is as ingrained in American popular culture as it is anywhere they’re sporting burkhas. I find it in movies, I hear it in the jokes of colleagues, I see it plastered on billboards, and not just the ones for horror movies. Women are weak. Women are manipulative. Women are somehow morally unfinished. (Objectification: another tangential rant avoided.) And the logical extension of this line of thinking is that women are, at the very least, expendable.Jim Hines wrote:
How pathetic is it that, in our culture, the only thing you have to do to be a good guy is say, "Hey, one of these days I'll write something about rape." Even that sort of vague, empty comment about rape is enough to make you stand out. Because that's already more than most guys seem willing to say or do.
From an essay on http://meloukhia.net
, called Feminism and Joss Whedon: Men, Women, and Dollhouse
We are taught, as a collective society, that women’s bodies are public property, and that they are always available for sex [Emphasis added]. The female body is an object of collective social consumption, not something which is private. While people may argue that rape is viewed as socially unacceptable, our entire society is structured around the idea of female availability, which is one of the reasons why many women and feminists have reacted so strongly to the troubling themes of personhood, body, and agency in Dollhouse. Even the perception of rape in the real world is complicated, which makes a reading of the events on Dollhouse far from simple. For women and feminists, the show is skirting dangerously close to a reality which already exists, a world in which women’s bodies are assumed to come with consent attached and in which grey areas are automatically not rape. In perhaps the most classic example of how this plays out in the real world, it is assumed that rape cannot take place in a relationship, because consent is built into the structure of the relationship, which means that the body is always available for sex, even when the body’s owner “isn’t there” in the sense that she is drugged, or drunk, or asleep. Even when she explicitly denies consent, it is not rape, because, in the eyes of society, how could you revoke consent once you’re in a relationship?
I'm thinking a lot about women, women's bodies, and sexual politics in SF, partly because I'm reading Bear's Carnival
, and thinking about how to go about writing a long essay about the book as a sort of ironic meta-commentary/response to the 20th century feminist utopian novel tradition.