Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winking Redux

In a post I made a few weeks ago, I discussed a conversation I had with my family about men winking at women in public and the ways that sort of behavior bolsters the harmful and toxic environment the patriarchy creates for both men and women. My intent in discussing winking was to open up a broader conversation about the nature of personal space in public and what I've perceived as many men's feeling of entitlement to infringe on the personal space of women. My thinking was that this conversation might lead to another conversation about how these small, seemingly insignificant breaches of personal space are part and parcel of a cultural atmosphere that is generally hostile to women. I didn't expect my anecdote would lead to much more than some civil discourse, but I didn't think a small discussion was an unreasonable expectation.

However, what I ended up doing was opening up a conversation with a bunch of crybabies about whether or not it is okay to wink at people. Let me come clean: I winked at someone like two weeks ago, while I was waiting tables at the diner. I was bringing a couple of regulars their check when one of them said to me, "can you actually add two small coffees to go?" I said, "how about instead I just bring you some to go cups for the refills I was about to pour you?" Then I winked, and dropped the check on the table. Someone let Andrea Dworkin know that my feminist ally badge needs to be revoked.

(Trigger warning for discussion of rape below the break.)

Ultimately, whether or not it is okay to wink is not even negligibly important. What I am concerned with is a general reframing of how we look at and see some of these issues. I'm not even asking the herds of dudely dudes who populate the internet to AGREE with me. I am just asking that they (you?) genuinely consider someone else's perspective. That they take one moment off from the "wah wah wah girls don't like me" self-victimization bullshit, that they set aside some of the directionless rage that our culture nurtures in all of its men, and that they listen to another voice. I am just asking to be heard without defensiveness, without resorting to the emotional armor of irony and sarcasm. I am putting myself out here and making myself vulnerable. I am not weaker for that, I can bullshit and posture and walk the man walk with the best of them, but I am tired of that.

Basically, the way I see it, things like street harassment, stalking, rape are falsely considered to be "women's issues." I'm too lazy to look up statistics right now, but something like 99% of reported rapes are committed by men*. As far as I can tell, that makes rape a Men's Issue and I think it's time that men took responsibility for it. And the same goes for street harassment, although that is harder to quantify as a statistic. It's time for men to own up to their behavior, own up to their sense of entitlement and let go of the notion that things are okay the way they are.

Men's feeling of entitlement to the time, attention, generosity and kindness of women contributes to a general atmosphere in which women's inherent human resources (their time, their energy, their patience) are seen as less valuable than those of men and that is so fucked up! If I was constantly reminded of the fact that my humanity was less valuable than other people's because of some factor totally outside of my control I would be hella bummed.

I just think people need to start taking responsibility for themselves and for each other. If I have been too scattered to articulate any of this well, please forgive me. If I have been unclear about anything, please ask questions. If you wanna make fun of me, or brag about how you fuck all the girls and you're never gonna stop or whatever, you just do you, homie. But I have a feeling the compulsion to proclaim it from the mountaintops has more to do with deep-seated anxieties than it does with sexual prowess. If you want to discuss whether or not winking is okay ever (and if so WHEN?!!?!?!?!!) don't bother, though. That is a stupid conversation and I'm sorry I started it.

Here are some things to read:

Stop Telling Women Not To Get Raped from Ebony Magazine

I Want A Twenty-Four Hour Truce In Which There Is No Rape by Andrea Dworkin

Middle School Boys Learn That They Can Stop Rape from the Daily News

I'm More Of A Breast Man And Completely Worthless Human Being, Myself from the Onion

Some Notes On Rape Culture from Racialicious

* And 90% of the survivors are women, and 25% of women are raped or sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetimes. All these figures are approximate and from memory so please don't be mad if I am off by a few percentages.


  1. We'll talk about pizza again next week.

  2. Personally I think painting all men with the same brush is part of the problem. To consider yourself a feminist (not you personally) is to make a separation between the sexes instead of real equality.Of course rape and abuse towards women is a real concern just as it is to men but the real person responsible is the perpetrator of the crime not a presumed male culture, in my humble opinion.

    May your pizza crusade continue unabated.

  3. In an unbelievable convergence of pizza blogging and rape-culture, your pizza-related interviewer Greg Kelly is facing charges he raped and impregnated a 30 year old paralegal. Months ago, District Attorney Cyrus Vance appeared on Good Day New York to discuss the Dominique Strauss Kahn allegations. To his credit, Kelly pressed Vance on his dropping of charges against Kahn citing the extreme power inequity between DSK and the hotel maid. That same DA is now investigating the Kelly case.

  4. Colin, fwiw I was totally on board with your comments re: winking - and the bigger issues of men's culturally conditioned hostility towards women

    But to read this (and your comments in the previous post) where you're all but throwing names ("crybabies") at your commenters is just downright rude.

    Frankly, the only person who seemed to be getting defensive was you. You brought up the winking issue. You detailed how you had consulted with your mother and your kid sister regarding this issue. You continued to dwell on the issue (in the comments and this post). What sort of response were you expecting?

    If you want to talk about the larger issues then perhaps it would be better to confront them directly. Getting all upset because others don't necessarily follow your train of thought seems rather silly.
    If someone leaves an offensive comment then just ignore it but please don't paint all the responses with the same brush.

    FWIW I was the one who left a comment after taking the trouble to consult both my girlfriend and sister (much like yourself) about the issue of winking and I was suprised at their seeming indifference to it.


    I'm kidding, dude! You seem totally nice and I really appreciate you taking the time to make thoughtful responses. I absolutely was not talking about you when I kvetched about crybabies or whatever, I was only talking about the people who were acting like wieners.

    Anyway, like I said, I appreciate and have appreciated your thoughtful responses.

    BAshment, I don't think I could disagree more! Like, for one thing, the notion that feminism is inequitable is totally bogus. And for the other thing, it is important to examine our culture and figure out why perpetrators commit the heinous crimes they do. Feminism is about examining and addressing these systemic and institutional issues so that we can even begin to move towards some form of equality. The notion that working to correct heinous wrongs is actually divisive and counter-productive is silly. It is only counter-productive for the people who benefit from the privileges afforded by our flawed system and don't want to see those issues addressed because they don't want to lose those privileges.

    I hope that made sense! I drank too much coffee and am feeling super scattered today.

  6. On a totally different topic! You are totally hot! A man who speaks his mind intelligently AND loves a slice! Ooh La La this girl sends her love of you and your pizza all the way from Montreal Canada - Mary Scott

  7. Slice harvester, I have no problem with the causes of crime being looked into but I believe in human choice when people are judged by there sex in either way I think you begin to head down a dangerous path.

    I in no way want to lessen the suffering of women in society. women are prejudiced every day based on there sex this is disgusting and we still have a long way to go with changing the attitude to sex.

    I guess my point is taking sides in not the answer presumption on behaviour based on sex is what I think is the real problem be it male or female stereotypes being asserted.

    I must say you put your point across eloquently and hope you continue to make people aware of how their actions effect others and where to eat great cheese based wonder bread.

  8. BAshment, I think either I am being unclear or you are misunderstanding me. I also believe in human choice.

    And I believe that many of the men I've known and many of the men I've talked to and many of the men who's conversations I have overheard while working in bars and restaurants and riding the subway and walking the streets and sitting on my stoop and watching tv and driving in the car with the radio on (and on and on and on) have chosen to behave like foolish, insensitive jerks!

    I am imploring these men, as a man myself, to stop doing that.

  9. I believe in human choice but unfortunately I don't have a choice in feeling bored by your moral crusade. You already made a difference in the world with your slice reviews, you wanna tackle gender equality now? Admirable, but you are losing your core audience.

  10. i think you'll find that there's quite a few ladies and gents who love to talk about feminism and pizza, we're quite the well-rounded bunch.

  11. Women are far more than 1% of rapists if you count men who are "made to penetrate" rather than penetrated. According to the latest CDC survey, 4.8% of all men were "made to penetrate" and 79.2% of the perpetrators were women.
    An example of "made to penetrate" is a woman who has sex with a man who is passed-out drunk. There is some confusion is due to the fact that their definition of rape excluded "made to penetrate" and only included men who had been penetrated. That was far less common (1.4% of men) and was mostly perpetrated by men. However, if you include "made to penetrate" as rape, which you should, since it is forced sex, the majority of male rape victims were raped by women. If you don't believe me, read the report yourself:

    Here are direct quotes from the report:
    "Approximately 1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else during their lifetime"

    "For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%)."

    Here are some stories from male victims: