Boooooooooobs. January 23, 2008 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Hey, you know how I'm apparently your friendly neighborhood irrational/uptight/bitchy feminist? Well, my Batsignal is going off. 'Cause I'm bitchy/uptight/irrational/out to ruin your fun. And I don't like conversations that are all about the hilarious inevitability of adults ogling some lady's rack.

I'm not a guy. I'm willing to accept that it is, in some mysterious way I don't fully understand, more difficult for a man not to look at boobs than it is for women not to look at boobs. Sure.

And I can also grasp that some men, for whatever reason, have had a harder time than others internalizing the "Hey man! Her EYES, look at her EYES." thing, and are asking for tips. Fine.

But I can't really get behind the back-patting, boys will be boys, check out my awesome new term for "breasts", women are for staring at LOL AMIRITE! stuff developing in that thread.

Cranky joking aside, I'm not actually out to ruin the good time of a bunch of dudes going "Yes, I know exactly what you mean, and here's how I've dealt with it..." - but the tenor of some of these comments is edging into essentially making cracks about sexual harassment. Okay, I'm supposed to flag and move on, right? But, say, this 29 person's comment: Anyways, you cannot look into a woman's eyes as if she were a man. That is just preposterous. Looking at a co-worker's dairy pillows is perfectly fine as long as you're not staring like a crazed pervert. Don't make it obvious, either. And it might be a good idea to not moan or touch yourself at the same time. Also, keep from talking about the juggs.

That comment makes me super uncomfortable, but there are unfortunately a number of much less egregious comments that (without the retarded har-har-har hyperbole, of course!) say essentially the same thing ("You can't help it! Just don't do it when she's looking and stuff.")

I am not casting some net of blame over the male denizens of AskMe when I say this: getting ogled by colleagues is a real and unpleasant part of the day of many female workers. And it's not all that hilarious when it happens to you. And holy shit guys, I'm a modest dresser, but I have big boobs, and if I ever bent over in front of a guy and he said "Hahaha, your boobs, they distract me!", my blush wouldn't be a charmed "Oh, that's awkward, but I'm glad he said something!" kind of blush, it would be the "Should I burst into humiliated tears now or later?" kind.

I just don't know, folks. Haven't most workers had some lame training at some point that gives you tips about this? Is this really still a conversation we're having in such an unenlightened way?
posted by thehmsbeagle to Etiquette/Policy at 3:30 PM (775 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

I think I was deleting some stuff from that thread (see your now-dead "women are for staring" link, for example) while you were composing this, thehmsbeagle. There were a few comments that were pretty much useless in their jokiness, and 29 was pretty much batting a thousand on that front.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:36 PM on January 23, 2008


I almost posted this thread, fwiw.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:38 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can't help it! Just don't do it when she's looking and stuff."

Yea, that attitude bugs me a lot, too.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:38 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


And it might be a good idea to not moan or touch yourself at the same time.

Damn, is that what I've been doing wrong?
posted by IronLizard at 3:42 PM on January 23, 2008


Yeah, I was struck by the guy who drew the conclusion that boobs he couldn't help staring at belonged to women he didn't know he was in love with. My god, there's been a lot of unrequited love following me around, and I didn't even know!!
posted by b33j at 3:43 PM on January 23, 2008


Ah, thanks/sorry, Cortex: I took a while to compose this to downgrade my irritation out of the ranty stratosphere.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:44 PM on January 23, 2008


Is this really still a conversation we're having in such an unenlightened way?

Is this really still a conversation we're having in such a perspective-less, humor-less way?

Must we wring our hands about this? Won't anyone think of the children?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:49 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yes, says the dude who gives this advice in-thread:

And whenever you get a good, (safe!), free shot at 'em, go ahead and GAWK at the snuggle-puppies. Just visually devour those sweater-stuffers. Get it out of your system. Familiarity breeds indifference.

I feel secure that your perspective and sense of humor are ones I don't need to emulate.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:50 PM on January 23, 2008 [25 favorites]


What's your perspective, Cool Papa Bell? Feel free to enlighten us uptight, humorless bitches.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:51 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's ironic you would make a call-out here since your "Don't do that because it's rude!" answer is hardly going to help someone who's asking "How do I stop doing this thing that I know to be rude?"
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:51 PM on January 23, 2008 [14 favorites]


And I don't like conversations that are all about...

Are you required to like every conversation on AskMe?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 3:54 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


MINDCRIME SEXISM ALERT.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:00 PM on January 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


And whenever you get a good, (safe!), free shot at 'em, go ahead and GAWK at the snuggle-puppies. Just visually devour those sweater-stuffers. Get it out of your system. Familiarity breeds indifference.

Funniest fucking thing I've read all day.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:00 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Metatalk thought-police squad, emboldened by their recent triumphs over the evils of death-thread snarkiness and displays of ambivalent hipsterism, turn their attention to a new scourge -- this one more sinister, more insidious and entrenched than any they've faced thus far... but they will not be dissuaded! Non-conformity is not an option!
posted by Dave Faris at 4:01 PM on January 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


I can avoid looking at them, but sometimes I feel them looking at me. They follow me around the room.
posted by RussHy at 4:02 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good callout, as the jokiness of the thread was out of place given the context: sexual harassment.

Avoiding ogling women at work (or at the beach, etc) is something that can be learned. It *is* possible. Obviously, both men *and* women use the attractiveness of their bodies (if they are attractive) to signal and communicate different things. If you look good in a tight sweater, why not wear it?

But I doubt anyone sane, professional person wants to be ogled all the time. "Visually devouring those sweater-stuffers" is a creepy, inappropriate response for AskMe.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:03 PM on January 23, 2008 [8 favorites]


posted by RussHy I can avoid looking at them, but sometimes I feel them looking at me. They follow me around the room.

Eyes, or breasts?
posted by fandango_matt at 4:04 PM on January 23, 2008


God, my three bosses are all women, all with d-cup breasts, and one with a penchant for dressing in quasi-inappropriate clothing, and yet I manage to be professional. How fucking hard can it be for people who don't have tits around them all the fucking time? Is it just that my job requires that I actually listen to what the women around me are saying? Is that why I don't stare endlessly at their breasts?
posted by klangklangston at 4:05 PM on January 23, 2008 [30 favorites]


I just don't feel any need to oogle breasts now that the internet has been created.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:06 PM on January 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


God, I haven't seen a thread that has made me despise so many men on mefi in a while.

Well done boys, you truly are "nice guys".
posted by hugsnkisses at 4:08 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


In stereotypical terms, it's like a woman on her period looking at a mound of the finest, freshly made chocolate. You can't help but be drawn to it.

What. The. Fuck.
posted by liquorice at 4:10 PM on January 23, 2008 [38 favorites]


Familiarity breeds indifference.

Now that you mention it, breasts are really rare and you hardly ever see them anywhere. The chronic-starer must have seen breasts only a handful of times before, thus his being mesmerized (mammorized?). Women, take comfort in the obvious truth of this. The upcoming generation that's had easy access to porn, Hooters, and Cinemax since prepubescence will be completely oblivious to breasts forever.

I also hear that a good way to ensure that one won't die from a snakebite is to regularly drink venom. Preferably with bloody, post-flossing, gums.

Beware of Wet Floor and Dripping Sarcasm
posted by CKmtl at 4:10 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Way to stereotype, hugsnkisses. Good on you for fighting against sexism by engaging in some of your own!
posted by Justinian at 4:11 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Visually devouring those sweater-stuffers" is a creepy, inappropriate response for AskMe.

My understanding is that the only inappropriate response for AskMe is one that doesn't answer the question. It may be creepy but it's the setup for the answer: "Familiarity breeds indifference." The reader's comfort with the answer is irrelevant.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 4:11 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oddly, when you preface your statement by acknowledging your presumed irrationality/bitchiness and saying that you're not out to ruin anyone's good time or hate on men, you weaken your point tenfold. Just. Say. It. Have the conviction to say plainly, without trepidation, without qualification: "This is sexist language and I don't think it belongs in MeFi-land."
posted by desjardins at 4:11 PM on January 23, 2008 [32 favorites]


Even after all the pruning there is a lot of dead wood, as it were, in that thread.

Honestly, the answer to "how do I not stare like a pervert?" is "don't stare like a pervert." Sometimes you make eye-contact, sometimes you turn your head and look out the window, and sometimes you look at something on your desk. What you don't do is fixate on her cleavage. You don't do it by not doing it -- it is honestly that simple, just like you don't pick your nose while giving a presentation and you don't grab the bus driver's ass and you don't spit in the soup.

So yeah, the stupid jokes and heh-heh-heh tone of GAWK at the snuggle-puppies wears pretty thin, pretty fast. And the knee-jerk reply of complaining about humorless PC-ists isn't really all that impressive, either.
posted by Forktine at 4:14 PM on January 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


Uh... let me just chime in that not only are these types of comments cringeworthy and an embarrassment but also completely useless as answers.
posted by Kattullus at 4:14 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


What's interesting to me is that after I got married other women lost all appeal. Seriously, it's like they're another species or something. Must've been the long drawn out ceremonies in my 4 day Asian wedding that made any woman besides my wife instinctually unsexual to me. Is that usual? Wrong site to post that question?
posted by Burhanistan at 4:15 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


No. I feel the same way about your wife.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:16 PM on January 23, 2008 [43 favorites]


Darling Justinian, do feel free to point out the sexism in my statement.
posted by hugsnkisses at 4:16 PM on January 23, 2008


posted by Forktine Honestly, the answer to "how do I not stare like a pervert?" is "don't stare like a pervert."

However, staring like a concerned citizen is perfectly acceptable.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:16 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know what? It's reaching the point with you, thehmsbeagle, where I'm beginning not to care what you're saying, even when you have a valid point (and make no mistake, you have a very valid point here with those crappy comments.)

However, in that thread, you're pulling the same shit you'd probably bitch about if it was woman asking a question about something female related and a guy chimed with the kind of dismissive, condensing comment that you made. That's fine, you have certain thoughts, you want to express them, go for it. But, IMO, it really hurts your credibility because overall (not in this specific instance) it doesn't seem as though you practice what you preach.

This feels like it isn't the first time this has happened either, hence my growing ambivalence over your statements.

I get the sense you and ThePinkSuperhero are pretty equally fed up with the boyzone around here, yet I thought her first comment in the thread was a perfect example of a great AskMe comment, in that it answered the question succinctly without demeaning a person. Maybe she thinks the guy is a complete pig who shouldn't be allowed near women or maybe not. The point is no one knows, because she stuck to answering the damn question without feeling the need to inject some shitty comment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:17 PM on January 23, 2008 [23 favorites]


Occasionally I see a guy at the gym unabashedly staring at a woman working out in shorts and a sports bra. But staring is not the norm even in that environment. Just thought I would mention that.
posted by mlis at 4:17 PM on January 23, 2008


It may be creepy but it's the setup for the answer: "Familiarity breeds indifference."

The setup for a completely inane answer, to be precise.
posted by CKmtl at 4:19 PM on January 23, 2008


Brandon_Blatcher: I'm not sure what response you expect from me. I've previously realized that you feel really ambivalent about me, and that's fine. TPS and I have very different styles of speaking (well, writing), and I'm fine with that, too. You may not be. But that's not something for me to take care of.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:19 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


/me enters thread (from the bottom).
posted by 31d1 at 4:20 PM on January 23, 2008


Sure, CKmtl. But not inappropriate....yet.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 4:20 PM on January 23, 2008


Good on you for fighting against sexism by engaging in some of your own!

Superb nonsensical derail, thx for that J.
posted by mlis at 4:22 PM on January 23, 2008


Meanwhile, the sexism flag is feeling lonely and unappreciated.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:22 PM on January 23, 2008


^-- "Fixating" is not staring like a pervert. A sexist question (predicated on differences in gender and gender-specific interactions) is going to produce variably sexist answers. So long as a thread like that is allowed, what do you expect. Really, what did the POSTER expect? A lesson on how to interact like a human? His real issue is probably feeling uncomfortable looking someone in the eye, not a tendency to look at cleavage.
posted by rob paxon at 4:22 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm looking forward to the "I fail to see how this is a question for the ages"-flag.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 4:23 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


The real crime here is that there is yet another problem that I didn't think I had, that I am now neurotic about.
posted by geoff. at 4:24 PM on January 23, 2008 [15 favorites]


However, staring like a concerned citizen is perfectly acceptable.

*forms Concerned Citizens for Breast Study and Conservation PAC*
posted by Krrrlson at 4:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's your perspective, Cool Papa Bell? Feel free to enlighten us uptight, humorless bitches.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero


He didn't call you bitches. Please don't imply that he did. Bad form.
posted by sourwookie at 4:28 PM on January 23, 2008 [9 favorites]


Thanks for posting this and fuckin' A.
Creepy. A question broadly framed as "I just can't stop - eh fellas?" is kind of asking for the answer to be "That's normal and there's really nothing you can do; we men are helpless before the imperatives of evolution and are cursed to ogle." But really, no.

Look, if there's a lot of cleavage on display, I think most people -- women included -- are going to look -- and then quickly find some way to look away. So the answer is, "find some way to look away - eyes, computer screen, stand up, etc."

The answer isn't, "boobies, they are definitely entertaining to look at." We are all drowning in that idea every day -- it's not a surprising or useful thing to say, it's not original or funny, it's just lame.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:28 PM on January 23, 2008 [19 favorites]


Sure, CKmtl. But not inappropriate....yet.

Well, actually. Yes, it is. The question is "How do you avoid looking down cleavage?". CPB's pseudoanswer is "You avoid looking down cleavage by... looking down cleavage! If you look down enough cleavage, you won't need to look down cleavage!" It's not really answering the question or providing the advice that the asker is asking for.

The "Familiarity breeds indifference" thing seems more like a folksy faux-wisdom thing tacked on to make the inane stuff seem like an answer.
posted by CKmtl at 4:34 PM on January 23, 2008


And if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 4:34 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can't stop looking at the title of this thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:35 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


The title of this thread makes the argument a little ironic.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:38 PM on January 23, 2008


posted by Krrrlson *forms Concerned Citizens for Breast Study and Conservation PAC*

Yeah, that's what we need. Another group of citizens to make mountains out of molehills.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:40 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


LobsterMittien, implying that someone must rush to "find" some way to look away is pretty childish and silly. "Boobies, they are definitely entertaining to look at" is as valid a thought as "I MUST LOOK AWAY QUICKLY". Neither is a particularly reasonable thought process for a rational, comfortable person in that situation. Neither is useful as an answer to the question... he said quickly looking away makes him feel as comfortable. Neither thought is surprising, useful, or original. At least the phrasing of some of the latter schools of thought were amusing.
posted by rob paxon at 4:41 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think rob paxon's comment here is probably correct, that the poster might not realize it's more of an issue with eye contact than breasts specifically.

But I think it's odd to expect any conversation about breasts on the internet to be completely dry and serious. There's a difference between the ideal and the realistic. Heck I was enjoying the comments, and I am female. It seems disturbing to me that people find all comments automatically serious and predatory. It reminds me of the "all men are potential rapists" attitude of some people.
posted by veronitron at 4:41 PM on January 23, 2008 [17 favorites]


If you look good in a tight sweater, why not wear it?

But I doubt anyone sane, professional person wants to be ogled all the time


Someone dresses in a way that makes them look 'good'. So in a manner that appeals to the people that find them attractive on a purely aesthetic level. So if you dress in a way that will make people want to look at you, then don't be completely surprised if people do look at you. It's only an issue if the looking becomes staring - when it becomes "all the time". Although not, in this case, stated as strongly as I have seen it in the past, the prevalent attitude of women in workplaces of "I want to dress attractively, but anyone that looks at me with anything other than professional thoughts is a SICK PERVERT" gets tiring. Everyone (everyone) looks at each other, but the result of past sexism makes men looking at women in the workplace subject to some sort of super scrutiny and jumping up and down (although not with revealing tops, usually. That'd be unprofessional).

The 'looking at breasts' thing is very specific. The attraction to look at breasts is primal and a taboo, and some people cope with it better than others. It's a deep set taboo in nearly all cultures, so it will usually trigger some sort of reaction. The knowledge that it is a taboo, and frequently drummed in as unprofessional and stereotypical, makes men overly paranoid about it, and they flap when they even do it accidentally. It gets blown out of proportion (like here) by both sides. The man panics about keeping his eyes on her face because he is aware of the concept of making women uncomfortable (where, for example, reading a man's shirt label would be perfectly acceptable), and his panic to appear professional is interpreted as being shifty and the woman wonders if he is trying to look down her top. It's a vicious circle the second it occurs to either one that they might look down her front.

The OP was trying to avoid that as it is unprofessional. Which is fair enough.

But. The woman in question is bending over the desk in a manner that exposes herself in a way that he finds uncomfortable - how he words that level of discomfort is that 'it makes me want to look, and leaves me flustered'. This is pretty common. It is not necessarily a conscious "LOL, I can see her puppies", but sometimes your eyes are drawn to things - sharp movements, bright lights, fast moving objects, clothing falling open. The fact that, when this woman leans over his desk, his eyes are drawn to the first thing that moves at eye height is hardly unnatural. At least some of the issue here is with a woman that doesn't realise that leaning over someone sitting at a desk is not a professionally neutral act - Just as much as a man doesn't stand right next to a woman at her desk with his groin right next to her head, so the woman needs to understand that leaning over a desk (on a regular basis, don't forget) is not appropriate. Accidental is one thing, but no woman would stand for the equivalent - I bet people can't help when the guy's nuts drop out of his shorts on the subway when he sits down, but if it happened at work every day, they'd soon pipe up and complain.

The issue here, is that the OP thinks it is solely his issue and is beating himself up about it. He should be asking the woman not to lean over his desk like that, but to do so raises the possibility of 'he may have seen her tits' which has been roundly condemned as an option here and in that thread. Fuck, what's the guy to do? He can't ask her to stop (according to some of the women here), yet he has something that has been drilled into him as NOT TO BE STARED AT at eye level. It's hard NOT to look in enough of a direction for him to hit the paranoia level - he'll feel limited to a tiny scope of visual acceptability and that creates tension and pressure as the cost of failure is being accused of being a pervert. The fact that he has to concentrate on her face to make sure he doesn't look down her top just says that she needs to sit the fuck down, to me.

Now, I am of course saying that staring at women's tits instead of talking to them (Er, the women) is bad, but to assume it is all the guy's fault is horseshit. Both parties have a responsibility to be aware of how they present themselves.
posted by Brockles at 4:43 PM on January 23, 2008 [81 favorites]


I'm willing to accept that it is, in some mysterious way I don't fully understand, more difficult for a man not to look at boobs than it is for women not to look at boobs.

Well, women's (straight women's anyway) appreciation of boobs is aesthetic. Straight men's boob appreciation is visceral. One is 'wow her breasts are nice,' the other is a primitive lizard brain saying 'I'd like to get my hands on those!' It's really not that mysterious. Not that it makes leering or staring OK, but I just wanted to demystify that for you.

As to why women don't check out male body parts as much, my theory is this: women aren't as into us as we are into them.

and if I ever bent over in front of a guy and he said "Hahaha, your boobs, they distract me!", my blush wouldn't be a charmed "Oh, that's awkward, but I'm glad he said something!" kind of blush, it would be the "Should I burst into humiliated tears now or later?" kind.

The best course of action in that instance would be to bend in closer and when he's suitably distracted, steal his wallet.
posted by jonmc at 4:44 PM on January 23, 2008 [8 favorites]


The true duality of man: each a potential rapist and rape victim.
posted by rob paxon at 4:44 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm not sure what response you expect from me.

Wasn't expecting a particular response, but I was hoping you'd buy me a Macbook Air for the sheer brilliance of my words (with the solid state drive too!).

But that's probably not gonna happen, so think about it or ignore it, the choice is up to you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:46 PM on January 23, 2008


This is some serious bullshit and I can't believe any men are trying to defend it. If there was a AskMe about "how do I avoid staring at dudes' packages at work when they're standing in front of me while I'm sitting" then would you get it? No, probably not. And to whine that thehmsbeagle doesn't have any humor? Staring inappropriately at a woman's cleavage in the workplace - not particularly a funny subject, sorry. The next logical step from, 'I'm a man, I can't control my eyes" is "I'm a man, I can't control my hands." Well, you don't seem to have a problem keeping your hands off 'em so I bet you have enough self-control to keep your eyes off 'em as well.

Anytime any female around here brings up any subject/question she finds objectionable, the guys flock from miles around to throw down the you're an uptight feminist gauntlet. Maybe instead of always dismissing us and saying we're overreacting, you should take a step back and realize that if one woman said it, chances are a lot of the rest of us were thinking it but didn't feel like taking the flack for it.
posted by CwgrlUp at 4:46 PM on January 23, 2008 [33 favorites]


Brockles comment there is the best thing I've read here or on the AskMe.
posted by rob paxon at 4:47 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


How do you avoid staring at cleavage?

I'm not telling you, I'm telling everybody.

Fucking look away, son.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:48 PM on January 23, 2008 [8 favorites]


Also, I think that suggesting the guy stands up when the woman is making him feel uncomfortable is entirely fucked up. Why should HE move? He has to stand up because she can't realise she is placing her chest in front of his face?

Come on. Stand appropriately. That's like saying it when Captain Beefcrotch walks up to a woman and stands (as I said) fully upright and two inches from the woman's chair to talk to her, it is up to her to turn and face the other way or get up and walk around the desk. That's not the answer. It is up to him to stop sticking his cock in her face, not for her to move. It's the same damn thing.

Parity in gender-related office politics? Not a hope.
posted by Brockles at 4:50 PM on January 23, 2008 [13 favorites]


Brockles comment there is the best thing I've read here or on the AskMe.

Just what I was going to say.
posted by missmagenta at 4:51 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


There were obviously some crap comments in that thread before pruning, and some stuff still floating around in there that isn't great either. thehmsbeagle, you aren't being uptight about this; it needed to be called out and I'm glad you did it.
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:52 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm firmly of the belief that I wouldn't trust any man who doesn't have a good relationship with a feminist sister or two of his, or a family member the general community might regard as "hawt".

I wouldn't trust them with my sisters, my non-existent daughter, heck, any of my friends that are women.

As a man, until you've experienced a truly non-sexual relationship with a person who you could never be sexual with (though if extenuating circumstances weren't as such, you might want to be), I'm not sure that you could ever treat women with the proper NON-SEXUAL respect, attention, and admiration they desire.

These relationships, over long periods of time, hopefully cure men of the boob-staring referenced in this thread. Maybe sometimes not. I guess I'm lucky to have many very important women in my life who I could never treat as such, and I tend to extend my experiences with them when interacting with women who I would have an interest in.
posted by localhuman at 4:53 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Brockles comment there is the best thing I've read here or on the AskMe.

Indeed. Bravo.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:53 PM on January 23, 2008


"Anytime any female around here brings up any subject/question she finds objectionable, the guys flock from miles around to throw down the you're an uptight feminist gauntlet."

Like that sentence can't be completely flipped around. Give the world a break from polarization, please.

"If there was a AskMe about "how do I avoid staring at dudes' packages at work when they're standing in front of me while I'm sitting" then would you get it?"

Get what? Your need to see past the question and find the perverted male subtext within?

"The next logical step from, 'I'm a man, I can't control my eyes" is "I'm a man, I can't control my hands.""

The next logical step from "Looking at something is alright" isn't "touching something is alright", and therefore that analogy was as useless as it was intentionally inflammatory. Unbelievable. The original poster is the one who is made sexually uncomfortable here, not the woman. The woman is causing it. That doesn't make her inappropriate but it doesn't make the guy looking (and trying to politely avoid looking) inappropriate either. If I walked around with my dick hanging out of your pants and you posted a question asking how to avoid looking at my swinging dick, would men accuse you of being sexist?
posted by rob paxon at 4:54 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Brockles comment there is the best thing I've read here or on the AskMe.

I thought it was overthinking a...um...er....?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:54 PM on January 23, 2008


hanging out of my pants* of course
posted by rob paxon at 4:55 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


No, no, Ubu. It was genius. Stark, unfettered genius.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:56 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Moments like these are when I'm really glad I'm an ass man.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:57 PM on January 23, 2008 [12 favorites]


Being a scat man myself, every moment makes me glad... BE BOP DA WOP DE BOO BOP DOP
posted by rob paxon at 4:58 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


nthd on Brockles comment being the most sensible in the thread at this point.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:03 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Localhuman, please provide me with infos on how to acquire my own female trainer who will turn me from the perverted scum I was born as into someone worthy of being around your sister.
posted by rob paxon at 5:04 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is that a fedora? I hear ladies really like that, so one should be along pronto.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 5:05 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sophia meets Jayne
posted by hortense at 5:07 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


I also don't trust men with my non-existent daughter.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:07 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'll ask it again because it wasn't answered ... Must we wring our hands about this?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:08 PM on January 23, 2008


She (the co-worker) might indeed be acting or dressing inappropriately. Unless it's bad enough (ie part of a pattern of harrassing behavior from her) that he feels he can go to a supervisor about it, all he can control is how he reacts.
1. Look elsewhere
2. Change posture (eg stand up), if it's possible to do that naturally in the space
3. Possibly mention it, depending very much on what he knows about the co-worker and his own verbal tact

Some combination of 1 and 2 is often enough to get a message across. (I'm having to make a point of not looking down your shirt; maybe next time, close one more button.) The explicit mention would be a nuclear option in a lot of working relationships.

Further:
As Brockles says, it's a problem that a person could have in good faith, and it's a tricky one because once you're aware of it, you're more self-conscious and uncomfortable and it's harder to know what to do with your eyes. Men aren't all assholes, this isn't a problem that only assholes have, etc. No generalized man-hate here. Only a complaint about the lame-o knockers jokes that thread had in it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:08 PM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


As to why women don't check out male body parts as much, my theory is this: women aren't as into us as we are into them.

Well, they certainly aren't as interested in me as I am in them.
posted by timeistight at 5:09 PM on January 23, 2008


As a man, until you've experienced a truly non-sexual relationship with a person who you could never be sexual with (though if extenuating circumstances weren't as such, you might want to be), I'm not sure that you could ever treat women with the proper NON-SEXUAL respect, attention, and admiration they desire.

Hi! I'm a man without any hot sisters or cousins, and you can trust your sister with me. I can guarantee you I won't drool on her dress nor try to cop a feel, and that I'll non-sexually respect her and have her home by 10pm. Cross my heart.

Do you have a cute brother though?
posted by CKmtl at 5:12 PM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


As to why women don't check out male body parts as much

I can't speak for other women, but I think we just don't yap about it as much.
posted by desjardins at 5:12 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Someone dresses in a way that makes them look 'good'. So in a manner that appeals to the people that find them attractive on a purely aesthetic level. So if you dress in a way that will make people want to look at you, then don't be completely surprised if people do look at you.

I think this is off base a bit. Some women are hot regardless of what they are wearing, and, to speak for myself, my power of imagination works just as well for hot woman wearing 3 winter coats versus hot women showing their cleavage.

There are many professional women who do use their sexual appeal to enhance their careers, but the vast majority of them don't. Near all of them are ogled, and I think that's what thehmsbeagle is trying to get at.
posted by localhuman at 5:13 PM on January 23, 2008


I'll ask it again because it wasn't answered ... Must we wring our hands about this?

If you're really holding your breath on this one, here:

No. But that doesn't mean we can't have a conversation about it, so maybe you should consider either toning down the polarizing snipery or not participating. If all you can see is handwringing while everybody else is seeing a discussion, you may not be coming at this thread from a very open-minded perspective.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:13 PM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


"So if you dress in a way that will make people want to look at you, then don't be completely surprised if people do look at you. It's only an issue if the looking becomes staring - when it becomes "all the time". Although not, in this case, stated as strongly as I have seen it in the past, the prevalent attitude of women in workplaces of "I want to dress attractively, but anyone that looks at me with anything other than professional thoughts is a SICK PERVERT" gets tiring. Everyone (everyone) looks at each other, but the result of past sexism makes men looking at women in the workplace subject to some sort of super scrutiny and jumping up and down (although not with revealing tops, usually. That'd be unprofessional)."

Hi, I'm THE MALE GAZE, and I have about SIX MILLION ARTICLES written about me, especially in conjunction with institutionalized sexism. Before you go off pontificating on what women are trying to accomplish with the way they dress, or how they want to be looked at, or what their reactions to staring at them are, we should probably get acquainted.
posted by klangklangston at 5:13 PM on January 23, 2008 [53 favorites]


rob paxon - you say it's childish and silly to suggest that someone should "find a way to look away".

I'm not sure why you say that. I only meant to be making explicit some of our normal socializing behaviors. I didn't mean "look away in fear, lest you be burned", I meant, even though your eyes might want to linger, choose to look at something else. That's how you stop looking at things you're socially prohibited from looking at. Look at something else, via an exercise of your will.

I think you're probably right that the original asker may have more-than-usual discomfort with maintaining eye contact.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:14 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


CwgrlUp: Maybe instead of always dismissing us and saying we're overreacting, you should take a step back and realize that if one woman said it, chances are a lot of the rest of us were thinking it but didn't feel like taking the flack for it.

I'd like to register my agreement with CwgrlUp, ThePinkSuperhero, and thehmsbeagle, and any other ladies taking objection to the thread in question. I objected in the thread too, but of course, I was Totally Wrong and Dismissive about it by saying what seemed obvious: the way to NOT stare at something is to avert one's eyes.

I really, really want to give respect to you, thehmsbeagle, and all the other women who start these threads when the need exists, because truthfully? I do not have the nerve to do it and face the flak.
posted by loiseau at 5:14 PM on January 23, 2008 [32 favorites]


"Moments like these are when I'm really glad I'm an ass man."

That's a shame—the secret menu at Taco Bell is pretty fucking awesome.
posted by klangklangston at 5:15 PM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


And HUGE props to KlangKlangston and the other men who get where we're coming from. I marry you all.
posted by loiseau at 5:15 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's not so much that she would be dressing or acting "inappropriately" as it is a matter where no one is being inappropriate, and it's only inappropriate if he were to pervertedly ogle (or on her end if she walked around with nothing but a bra). However, the issue is that someone's being made uncomfortable here and her dress and posturing is the most immediate cause. Ironically, his discomfort is probably, as Brockles says, out of concern of making her uncomfortable or otherwise think he's a creep. I think the best solution for him, generally, is to learn to be comfortable when his eyes catch cleavage and also be comfortable when he moves his eyes away from said cleavage. His discomfort is going to be the only thing here that makes her uncomfortable, save actual over ogling of the breasts which is obviously inappropriate in this setting. That isn't saying "boobs are awesome stare away" as is seemingly perceived by some.

thehmsbeagle, what's your motivation with the needling there? Whatever that was supposed to imply ("one will be along shortly"), it brings a mental image of a fish flopping around on the beach.
posted by rob paxon at 5:18 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sophia meets Jayne

*jaw drops to floor, shatters into a million pieces*

How uh I mean what er dress I think woah I uhm a bit warm in whoo... I don't think, err... damn!

*stumbles to floor picking up pieces of jaw, trips, knocks over dessert cart*

Yup, pretty damn sure I'm not gay.
posted by loquacious at 5:22 PM on January 23, 2008


Hi, I'm THE MALE GAZE, and I have about SIX MILLION ARTICLES written about me, especially in conjunction with institutionalized sexism.

Six million articles that nobody wants to read because there's porn around instead. Look were all corpses in training folks. Drink a lot, fuck a lot and try everything on the menu. Everything else is petty squabbles.
posted by jonmc at 5:22 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


If I walked around with my dick hanging out of your pants...

You're right, we would have a definite problem.

Like that sentence can't be completely flipped around. Give the world a break from polarization, please.

Really? Now I haven't been around forever like some, but I'm pretty sure I have yet to see a MeTa about a guy complaining over girlzone or being creeped out by snugglepuppies comments or getting your parts ogled.

Get what? Your need to see past the question and find the perverted male subtext within?

Exactly. Because all female around here are just going through each thread with a fine toothed comb just praying we'll find something we can use the sexism flag on. You want to talk about inflammatory comments? Puh-lease. I'm not trying to insinuate all males members are perverted.

The next logical step from "Looking at something is alright" isn't "touching something is alright", and therefore that analogy was as useless as it was intentionally inflammatory. Unbelievable.

It seemed that many guys were making the argument, they're boobs, I can't help but look, it's ingrained in me. I can't help but look. My point was, what else can't you help? It's ingrained after all.

...you posted a question asking how to avoid looking at my swinging dick, would men accuse you of being sexist?

Happens all the time at my office. Uh yeah, gimmie a break. The idea of comparing a woman who's shirt happens to be cut a little low to a man walking around with his dick out, well, let me borrow your words: "that analogy was as useless as it was intentionally inflammatory. Unbelievable."
posted by CwgrlUp at 5:23 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is some serious bullshit and I can't believe any men are trying to defend it. If there was a AskMe about "how do I avoid staring at dudes' packages at work when they're standing in front of me while I'm sitting" then would you get it? No, probably not.

What is "some serious bullshit"? Completely inappropriate, juvenile remarks that don't answer the question? Sure. Or did you mean someone posting a question about how they can best avoid offending a female co-worker? I have a suspicion the answer is that the two separate issues are now completely intertwined for some people and that's too bad. If you can't see how that kind of question is a positive thing, you're not going to help this discussion.
posted by yerfatma at 5:24 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm interested in the fact that the OP of the AskMe question was made equally uncomfortable shifting his gaze to make eye contact. Us Minnesotans are notorious for not making eye contact, and actually facing away from each other when we converse, so it makes things awkward when the person is right in front of you and you don't know where to look. I often focus on the forehead.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:24 PM on January 23, 2008


I also want to marry KlangKlangston. (Or at least his brain. But not in a creepy head-in-a-jar way.)

I don't know why his attitude isn't more popular. You say snappy things about the male gaze once in a while and the girls go "Oooooh!" and you still get to have a scruffy beard and talk about porn and be rambunctious and argumentative and manly. I see no downside.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 5:25 PM on January 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


Oops: on posting, the answer to my question is "I'M FUCKING PISSED!!!"
posted by yerfatma at 5:25 PM on January 23, 2008


Some of the useless bickering going on here could have been avoided if everyone had read and paid attention to the original post:

I'm not a guy. I'm willing to accept that it is, in some mysterious way I don't fully understand, more difficult for a man not to look at boobs than it is for women not to look at boobs. Sure.

...

But I can't really get behind the back-patting, boys will be boys, check out my awesome new term for "breasts", women are for staring at LOL AMIRITE! stuff developing in that thread.

posted by gauchodaspampas at 5:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]



I'm not sure why you say that. I only meant to be making explicit some of our normal socializing behaviors. I didn't mean "look away in fear, lest you be burned", I meant, even though your eyes might want to linger, choose to look at something else. That's how you stop looking at things you're socially prohibited from looking at. Look at something else, via an exercise of your will.


LobsterMitten, I'm saying it's childish and silly (overreacting) in the way I perceived you to say it. Looking away itself isn't what I referred to; I look away because of the aggregate social factors and the lack of being a pervert or utterly fascinated by 1/5th a breast. But I also look.

The OP's problem seems to be he's as uncomfortable "forcing" himself to look away as he is looking. I took what you said to be in the same vein, eg. thinking that you must force yourself to quickly look away as soon as you realize what you're looking at. That's not really reasonable. The result is not staring either way but the difference is one way ending the browsing naturally and the other is hitting a panic button and looking away before you're caught raping with your eyes.

Perhaps I interpreted what you said differently than you intended, but I took it to be more in line with the OP's apparent issue, in which case you would have been suggesting he do the same thing he pointed out as making him uncomfortable, rendering it an ineffective solution.
posted by rob paxon at 5:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know why his attitude isn't more popular. You say snappy things about the male gaze once in a while and the girls go "Oooooh!" and you still get to have a scruffy beard and talk about porn and be rambunctious and argumentative and manly. I see no downside.

The rumors about him and human sacrifices to Jamie Farr are greatly exaggerated.
posted by jonmc at 5:29 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm also opposed to the tone of that thread, but I have an honest question:

Is it possible for a woman not to be aware that she's making someone uncomfortable or presenting a little too much cleavage (or other exposure)?

I would think - considering all of the above and the tone of that thread, considering how much guys do stare - that most women would be generally aware of how little or how much is showing.
posted by loquacious at 5:33 PM on January 23, 2008


All I'm saying is there is a remote possibility that he might ask you, if being a girl is such a pain in the ass, why don't you simply become a boy.

Heyoooo!
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:33 PM on January 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'll ask it again because it wasn't answered ... Must we wring our hands about this?

If you're really holding your breath on this one, here:

No.


So, why doesn't it stop right there? Haven't we all been down this road before, many, many times?

It's like we're all stuck in WWI trenches made of dialog and puffery, and every now and again, there's some shooting before everyone goes back down into the trenches. It's all so very predictable.

Let's all just put our guns down, head for Paris, and enjoy the 1920s. Absinthe for everyone!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:34 PM on January 23, 2008


Let's all just put our guns down, head for Paris, and enjoy the 1920s.

No let's skip Paris, it's full of French people.
posted by jonmc at 5:38 PM on January 23, 2008


Absinthe was already banned in the 1920s, but I'd be happy to buy you a Ramos gin fizz.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:38 PM on January 23, 2008


what seemed obvious: the way to NOT stare at something is to avert one's eyes.

This is really what it all boils down to. I mean, I realize there is this whole "AskMe isn't JudgeMe" ethos here, but it seems to me there are some questions whose answers are so shockingly obvious that if you have to ask them at all you're probably beyond help. Even ignoring the sexist implications for a minute, this question belongs in the same category as "How do I stop my hand from burning when I place in directly onto a hot stove?"
posted by The Gooch at 5:39 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's like we're all stuck in WWI trenches

It's WWIV, it's a fucking wasteland and there are mutant, cannibial feminists out there. Tread lightly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:39 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Six million articles that nobody wants to read because there's porn around instead."

Dude, I do both, and still find time to read about music, art and science.

"You say snappy things about the male gaze once in a while and the girls go "Oooooh!" and you still get to have a scruffy beard and talk about porn and be rambunctious and argumentative and manly. I see no downside."

I mentioned this in another thread, how having a hyper-masculine exterior's really freeing in some ways. It means that here, at work, I don't ever have to pretend to like the huge fake tits, or be ashamed of being a vegetarian, or deal with any of the weird homophobia that some of my coworkers do. I just roll it all into what I consider being a man means and they can all get fucked, because as the biggest, hairiest, most swearin' son-of-a-bitch in the office, no one else can challenge me on it.
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on January 23, 2008 [15 favorites]


I don't get it. I mean, it's not like lesbians constantly fret about the fact that they can't stop staring at other women in the workplace and then come up with intricate just-so stories about how it's really the other woman's fault.

Several responses in this thread make it clear that some believe that this country's limited sexual harassment laws are too strong for CLEARLY OVERWHELMING AND OBVIOUSLY SUPER MANLY URGES. Now I get it, you like boobs. It must be so hard to be you on the internet. *hugs while wearing tight sweater*
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:40 PM on January 23, 2008 [10 favorites]


CPB, just come to Minnesota.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 5:40 PM on January 23, 2008


there are some questions whose answers are so shockingly obvious that if you have to ask them at all you're probably beyond help

Seriously, if I went to this thread and said "Stop crying! You're being a baby. I've never had this problem.", do you think anyone would treat that answer with a shred of respect? It seems people were able to offer constructive solutions there despite the fact that "Don't cry!" is just as constructive as "Control your gaze!"
posted by 0xFCAF at 5:41 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Dude, I do both, and still find time to read about music, art and science.

I'm too busy dealing with homeless guy spit (used to polish books) and insane bosses to even try anymore. By the time you're my age it'll happen to you too, and as my new theme song says, I Am Right.
posted by jonmc at 5:42 PM on January 23, 2008


it seems to me there are some questions whose answers are so shockingly obvious that if you have to ask them at all you're probably beyond help.

Again, you need to read the question. It essentially boiled down to "The obvious alternative to not staring make me as uncomfortable as the staring. How do I deal with this?".

Only reading half a question very often produces a facile answer.
posted by Brockles at 5:42 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


CPB, just come to Minnesota.

Ugh. If you want to spend $70 for a drink that, unless you have a super-sophisticated palate, is going to taste like Pernod and disappoint you by not getting you high? Absinthe is overrated, and the fact that there is a frenzy for it demonstrates that TC hipsters have no taste.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:43 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


"All I'm saying is there is a remote possibility that he might ask you, if being a girl is such a pain in the ass, why don't you simply become a boy.

Heyoooo!"

Za-za-za-zing!

(Some women kind of do, but I think there are more valid arguments to be made over gender essentialism than that cultural/religious/ethnic essentialism).
posted by klangklangston at 5:43 PM on January 23, 2008


In the name of science, tomorrow I will be staring at the crotches of all the men I encounter. To the men walking towards me in the hallway, guys that work in the cafeteria in the building, gentlemen entering the elevators, fellas sitting in your cubicles, incarcerated men working roadside detail for the fine state of Massachusetts, cops directing traffic - consider yourself warned.

I will report back with my findings.
posted by jerseygirl at 5:44 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


Really? Now I haven't been around forever like some, but I'm pretty sure I have yet to see a MeTa about a guy complaining over girlzone or being creeped out by snugglepuppies comments or getting your parts ogled.

I mean that as you say some men wait for a woman to call something out as sexist just to deride her, you can just as easily say those people sit around and wait to see something they can call out as sexist. The point being that you'd be shallowly generalizing either way. All we know is that some people call some things out and whenever something is called out, those not agreeing with the premise of the complainer will speak their piece. You're the one applying sweeping gender-based motivations to this, and such sweeping assumptions of motivation can be applied to all parties involved in call-outs such as these.

Exactly. Because all female around here are just going through each thread with a fine toothed comb just praying we'll find something we can use the sexism flag on. You want to talk about inflammatory comments? Puh-lease. I'm not trying to insinuate all males members are perverted.

No... because you DID look past the damn question to find the perverted male sexist subtext within. The said subtext that wasn't there until others fabricated it, mind you.


It seemed that many guys were making the argument, they're boobs, I can't help but look, it's ingrained in me. I can't help but look. My point was, what else can't you help? It's ingrained after all.


Because we are ingrained with certain things and we do acknowledge that we are partially controlled by those ingrained behaviors as humans. We make these realizations all of the time and we don't reach to use them to excuse rape and murder. There's no reason to then act as if it is the natural, assured progression that someone do just that.

Regardless of all, they are boobs. To be technical we can't help but look at anything. You can't avoid looking at something until you realize there's something in a location you want to avoid. And there is nothing wrong with looking at boobs, ass, cock bulge, pretty blue eyes, ankles, shoulders, or anything else... regardless of whatever superficial justification someone else might want to try using. There's just nothing wrong with it, period. Ogling and staring to the point of making someone uncomfortable is wrong, to the point of one's view. It's certainly wrong to do in our society's workplaces. No one says it is ingrained in us that we must stare pervertedly at breasts. If they do, they're an idiot. Saying it is ingrained in us that breasts are sexually attractive and ignite something deep within us, that is true. It is a reason for why we may look at breasts and enjoy some aspect of it. That does not lead to "it is ingrained in me that I rape you".

Happens all the time at my office. Uh yeah, gimmie a break. The idea of comparing a woman who's shirt happens to be cut a little low to a man walking around with his dick out, well, let me borrow your words: "that analogy was as useless as it was intentionally inflammatory. Unbelievable."

You brought it up as quoted previous to me saying that. Obviously you said "bulge" rather than "swinging dick", but we aren't talking about a bulge of breasts. We aren't talking about swinging breasts either but I was being intentionally exaggerating. You see, a bulge in a man's pants can not be controlled to the extent of a woman's cleavage being shown. In order to respond to your analogy I made it more accurate in that the one being "looked at" is by his or her actions exposing what the other person is looking at.

You asked if we would "get it" if the roles were reversed. I'd feel the same way as I do now, not the way you do. My "cry wolf" sexist alarm would not have rung, to the point. The person asking the question was not being sexist, if anything he was overly sensitive to a woman's perception of sexism, which itself today seems to be often overly sensitive (eg. this thread).
posted by rob paxon at 5:44 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm glad you took that in the spirit of levity it was intended, Klang.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:44 PM on January 23, 2008


In the name of science, tomorrow I will be staring at the crotches of all the men I encounter. To the men walking towards me in the hallway, guys that work in the cafeteria in the building, gentlemen entering the elevators, fellas sitting in your cubicles, incarcerated men working roadside detail for the fine state of Massachusetts, cops directing traffic - consider yourself warned.

I will report back with my findings.


The crucial difference between men and women is this: the men won't mind.
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


"I'm glad you took that in the spirit of levity it was intended, Klang."

After I'd calmed down, I took a fair amount of that prior thread with levity. Now I'm waiting a couple weeks until launching into the Holocaust jokes, but they'll show up again.

Sorry, girls, don't mean to take over your thread.

I'm not jonmc.
posted by klangklangston at 5:50 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm pretty unimpressed right now with a lot of users who I generally find to be rational and smart individuals. It is not anyone's birthright to stare at womens' breasts, whether they know you are looking or not (and trust me, they probably can tell, think of that 'someone's watching me' feeling). If you want to stare at boobs there are probably hundreds of opportunities every day to do this in advertising, magazines, television, the internet, movies, video games, etc. If you want to make juvenile comments about boobs, there are also a lot of other places on these here internets for that.

It's not being humorless, PC-patrol thought police to ask that you not act like jerks regarding women's bodies. You don't have the right to stare, or comment on, or appreciate, or disapprove of them. These are your coworkers and you have to respect them and their feelings. How hard is that? We're your fellow users, and you have to respect us and our feelings. How hard is that? I have no desire to police your thoughts. I just care about MetaFilter remaining a non-hostile and respectful environment for its users.
posted by SassHat at 5:50 PM on January 23, 2008 [16 favorites]


the way to NOT stare at something is to avert one's eyes.

See Brockles previous answer to a similar statement
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 PM on January 23, 2008


Hi, I'm THE MALE GAZE, and I have about SIX MILLION ARTICLES written about me, especially in conjunction with institutionalized sexism.

And there's nothing whatsoever ironic about that, is there?

Perhaps when six million similar articles have been published about THE FEMALE EXHIBITIONISM or whatever, people might start to realise what a profoundly anti-masculist theoretical construct it really is.

The fact that it has obviously been internalised by so many of my brothers makes it no truer, and no less of an offensive sexist stereotype, and it does no help to either the masculist or feminist causes to thoughtlessly regurgitate it as some kind of eternal truth about some kind of imagined, essentialised male nature.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:52 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


"I'd feel the same way as I do now, not the way you do. My "cry wolf" sexist alarm would not have rung, to the point. The person asking the question was not being sexist, if anything he was overly sensitive to a woman's perception of sexism, which itself today seems to be often overly sensitive (eg. this thread)."

Dude, I'm ignoring all of the silliness about how men can't control their eyes, or whatever. However, the "Oh, I'm sure if I was a woman I'd feel exactly the same as I do now" should get you laughed out of the building.
posted by klangklangston at 5:53 PM on January 23, 2008


posted by jerseygirl In the name of science, tomorrow I will be staring at the crotches of all the men I encounter.

Scientifically speaking, will this be a double-blind study?
posted by fandango_matt at 5:53 PM on January 23, 2008


As many have noted, the poster didn't ask for help on how to contend with being surrounded by inappropriately dressed female co-workers. It is disappointing to see how his problem- which, as he posed it, seemed to be an entirely sincere request for advice- was quickly transformed. Instead, the problem became not him but his female co-workers.

Parsing the descriptions by those who argue that women are at fault for being objectified in the workplace, it seems that the criteria for attire that is guaranteed to be deemed "approximate" - clothing that never displays one's breasts in a way that might attract attention- are impossible to acheive. The only option would be burkhas or sleeping bags, and those don't look very professional. The sum total of the comments suggest- some more explicitly than others- that women pose a problem just by being there.

I wish some of the posters here would have a bit of compassion for the inherent difficulties that come with being female in a professional environment, where being a woman means being gendered in a way that men are usually not, and always and inevitably having ones' appearance be an issue. I think it might help the well-intentioned OP to remind himself that he wants to be both a good colleague and a mensch, that his co-workers who happen to have breasts were hired for the same skills and abilities that he was, and that they deserve to have their words and thoughts be given his full attention as if and because they are his equals.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 5:54 PM on January 23, 2008 [15 favorites]


I'm not jonmc.

of course not. you don't have my flair for hat wearing or the proper respect for the Dictators. (ignore me, I'm tired and irrelevant)
posted by jonmc at 5:55 PM on January 23, 2008


Dude, I'm ignoring all of the silliness about how men can't control their eyes, or whatever. However, the "Oh, I'm sure if I was a woman I'd feel exactly the same as I do now" should get you laughed out of the building.

I didn't say that and if you can't follow a conversation you shouldn't be pronouncing that someone be "laughed out of the building". She said if a WOMAN had made a post about not being able to stop staring at a MAN's bulge. That has nothing to do with if I were a woman.
posted by rob paxon at 5:58 PM on January 23, 2008


Occasionally I see a guy at the gym unabashedly staring at a woman working out in shorts and a sports bra. But staring is not the norm even in that environment. Just thought I would mention that.

Dude, there wasn't a single woman in my family -- from my ten year old sister, to my seventy-six year old grandmother that wouldn't stop and stare at the TV whenever Linford's Lunchbox made an appearance. And not just stare, either. They'd make lascivious comments, too.

It's not nice having to listen to your own mother, describing the action of an enormous phallus in motion -- particularly when it fed in to a wimpy white boy's anxieties about the potency of black masculinity. And I wouldn't mind, but there wasn't a single one of them had any interest in athletics.

All they cared about was that bouncing roll of man-flesh.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:00 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Perhaps when six million similar articles have been published about THE FEMALE EXHIBITIONISM or whatever, people might start to realise what a profoundly anti-masculist theoretical construct it really is.

The fact that it has obviously been internalised by so many of my brothers makes it no truer, and no less of an offensive sexist stereotype, and it does no help to either the masculist or feminist causes to thoughtlessly regurgitate it as some kind of eternal truth about some kind of imagined, essentialised male nature."

Oh, spare me that "brothers" bullshit. I mean, first off, to argue that it's equivalent to "female exhibitionism" is to be profoundly retarded about how power is constructed in Western civilization. And to put it down to a stereotype shows that you don't fucking get it—it's not about male nature, it's about how expressions of power affect interpersonal and social dynamics. It's part of a critical body of work regarding the difference inherent in gazes (medical, editorial, diegetic) first, applied to gender relations second.

If you understand it as essentialized, you've missed the whole fucking point.
posted by klangklangston at 6:02 PM on January 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


Ask MetaFilter: All they cared about was a bouncing roll of man-flesh.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:02 PM on January 23, 2008


All they cared about was that bouncing roll of man-flesh.

dude, all anybody cares about is sex, money, power and ego. get over it.
posted by jonmc at 6:03 PM on January 23, 2008


"of course not. you don't have my flair for hat wearing or the proper respect for the Dictators. (ignore me, I'm tired and irrelevant)"

The Dictators only had one great album.

There, I said it.
posted by klangklangston at 6:04 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, no, Ubu. [Brockles' comment] It was genius. Stark, unfettered genius.

Actually, it reminded me of the way that one can watch a performance - say, by a juggler or acrobat - and the better they are, the more seamless the performance, the easier it is for you to think that it must be quite easy. That's a pretty good definition of at least a certain kind of genius, I think: making the difficult appear easy.

There was nothing in Brockles' comment that sounded like it wasn't common sense, nothing obviously exaggerated or projected or stereotyped. As such, it was all the easier to go "Yeh, that's what I was thinking. What's so clever about that?" without recognising that it actually takes a lot of skill to come across so naturally.

Well done.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:06 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is it possible for a woman not to be aware that she's making someone uncomfortable or presenting a little too much cleavage (or other exposure)?

Sure. You could not realize, under the fluorescent office lights, that you can see your bra through your new shirt, or it can be as simple as losing a button on a blouse. I've worn a new shirt to work only to realize that after hunching over a desk all day, it kind of rode down and really was more of a Boob Shirt than a Work Shirt. Cardigan, in the cubicle, at all times for the potential wardrobe malfunctions. You just never know when you or another woman may need it.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:07 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Dictators only had one great album.

which one? My respect for you depends on the answer. (There are two which will maintain it).
posted by jonmc at 6:08 PM on January 23, 2008


Again, you need to read the question. It essentially boiled down to "The obvious alternative to not staring make me as uncomfortable as the staring. How do I deal with this?".

Only reading half a question very often produces a facile answer.


Well, I guess I'm stumped then. When someone asks a question that has only one possible answer ("LOOK SOMEWHERE ELSE"), which the asker rejects outright from the start, I'm not sure there's much anyone can do to help.
posted by The Gooch at 6:10 PM on January 23, 2008


I always found that staring at my male teachers crotches in the first week or so of class was the way to make sure they would never call on me for the remainder of the semester.

Is it possible for a woman not to be aware that she's making someone uncomfortable or presenting a little too much cleavage (or other exposure)?

Well it can be a tough call really. I have a bit of a rack and my problem is usually this: if I wear a shirt that fits well, or snugly or has a bit of a neckline to it, I can look like a bit of an exhibitionist. If I wear something a little baggier or looser, I look like one of those women who is ashamed of their bodies. I want to fall somewhere in the middle but sometimes I miss, usually on the dowdier end, but it's immediately obvious if I've missed on the other end because people get edgy or weird about it, or make comments.

Not always, and certainly not where I live. However, I'm pushing 40 and really like to wear clothes that fit and feel that when I do I'm basically going to involve myself in a war of the wills with men who will either have that "you've put me in this awkward situation..." fidgets or just the flat out can't look me in the eye thing. Heck even if I wear baggy clothes people find it appropriate to talk about my ass even in MeTa. Which is sort of friendly-jokey I guess, but sort of not, you know?

I sympathize with the OP in this case. I wish that thread hadn't turned into cut-up-town.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:11 PM on January 23, 2008 [12 favorites]


It is not anyone's birthright to stare at womens' breasts, whether they know you are looking or not (and trust me, they probably can tell, think of that 'someone's watching me' feeling).

It is anyone's birthright to stare at whatever they want. It's your birthright to feel uncomfortable about it. It's the workplace's, society's, etc's right to say that in the interest of promoting a positive environment, this behavior, as it makes you uncomfortable, be regulated in said environment.

You can not possibly get any more ridiculous than "YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO LOOK AT ME". We don't have the right to look at or think about you or parts of your body? Are you the thought police? Patently absurd. And to connect this with respect and feelings is only one notch less silly. Looking at a woman's exposed cleavage is being disrespectful? Having a mental opinion of a woman's breasts is not respecting her feelings? How does any of this connect.

I fully agree that it is the polite thing to do to avoid behaviors known to make another person uncomfortable. It isn't a matter of "rights". People have the right to do things that make you uncomfortable, and they have the right to not care how it makes you feel. In the workplace, thankfully, people are forced within reason (and often outside of reason) to avoid making you uncomfortable. And that's it.

It's not being humorless, PC-patrol thought police to ask that you not act like jerks regarding women's bodies.

It is by definition humorless. Whether spot-on or ridiculous would be what is at issue, and frankly this hasn't been about "being jerks". It's been about something much more benign than being a jerk and therefore is unwarranted AND humorless rallying.

You don't have the right to stare, or comment on, or appreciate, or disapprove of them.

Actually we do, contingent on the rules relating to the institution or place in question.

These are your coworkers and you have to respect them and their feelings. How hard is that? We're your fellow users, and you have to respect us and our feelings.

No one has to respect you or your feelings, regardless of whether they should or shouldn't. And looking at your breasts or having an opinion of them, again, isn't disrespecting you or your feelings.

I have no desire to police your thoughts.

So long as those thoughts don't involve you or your breasts or whatever else you don't want people to think about or look at.
posted by rob paxon at 6:11 PM on January 23, 2008 [12 favorites]


Is it possible for a woman not to be aware that she's making someone uncomfortable or presenting a little too much cleavage (or other exposure)?

Sure, it's possible. It happens all the time. An anecdote follows. But I think it's more common for us to know that men are uncomfortable with the presence of our body parts but not have a whole lot of non-surgical available options to fix this problem. I started to make a list of the ways that it is difficult to dress human breasts in such a way that will please everyone but I started to get a headache, so on to the anecdote.

I tutor children. One day, I was wearing what I believed was a not-low-cut sweater. I leaned over to get something for a kindergartener and she screamed, "MISS LEMURIA, YOUR BOOBS ARE WHITE!!"
posted by lemuria at 6:11 PM on January 23, 2008


foxy_hedgehog from what I'm reading, the talk isn't about women simply existing in the workplace as being the problem. The problem is the women who lean in such a way as to, as the OP says, expose "[h]uge pendelous breasts in front of me." The OP explicitly said the woman bent down at his desk. This is clearly an issue with what the woman is doing. I don't know about you, but if I'm wearing something that is low-cut enough for someone to look up my shirt, I make a point of not bending down enough for them to see in. Especially at the office.

It's like the posters who said above that a man should not stand with his crotch 2 inches from a woman's face. It's just courtesy, and it doesn't sound like the woman in question was being very courteous.
posted by veronitron at 6:11 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't take a lot of what I read on teh internets deathly seriously. I just figured that a lot of the respondents thought it wasn't really that serious a question and so had some fun with it. Some of the answers were over the top, but I think most had been deleted by the time I read the thread, which shows the flagging system works. I really wish that instead of having yet another sexism thread, hmsbeagle, you had just flagged the offending comments and moved on. One sign, in my mind, of a bad call-out is feeling the need to write a really long justification for it, as you did.

Brandon_Blatcher: I'm not sure what response you expect from me. I've previously realized that you feel really ambivalent about me, and that's fine. TPS and I have very different styles of speaking (well, writing), and I'm fine with that, too. You may not be. But that's not something for me to take care of.

If you are going to call out a post, hmsbeagle, I think making a snarky comment in the post first, just to get your digs in is bad form, like Brandon Blatcher said. And that little, "I don't know what you expect from me...not something for me to take care of," line is bullshit. If you want others to watch what they write because it offends you, you need to take responsibility for what you write that offends others. Crapping in the post was uncalled for.

The title of this callout also doesn't help your case.
posted by misha at 6:13 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Also, cocks.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:13 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't mind if men ogle my breasts, I dunno what you other girls are on about...



hahaha psyche.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:13 PM on January 23, 2008


P.s. It is true that only one Dictators album was great. But the rest ranges for subpar to good.
posted by rob paxon at 6:14 PM on January 23, 2008


It's part of a critical body of work regarding the difference inherent in gazes (medical, editorial, diegetic) first, applied to gender relations second.

Typical anti-masculist apologetics. "Of course it's valid theory. It's really all about doctors & scientists", conveniently ignoring the fact that in practice, in real life, anti-masculists use it on a daily basis to essentialise & vilify males.

To point back to supposedly gender-neutral, rational "bodies of work" as a justification for the propaganda surrounding the gaze is about as disingenuous as referring to the medical science of anatomy as an explanation of female hysteria.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:14 PM on January 23, 2008


"which one? My respect for you depends on the answer. (There are two which will maintain it)."

Dude, Girl Crazy. Though Blood Brothers is pretty good. And Fuck 'Em was the first one I owned (inherited from my dad on cassette).
posted by klangklangston at 6:15 PM on January 23, 2008


Well, I guess I'm stumped then. When someone asks a question that has only one possible answer ("LOOK SOMEWHERE ELSE"), which the asker rejects outright from the start, I'm not sure there's much anyone can do to help.

There's a difference between a What question and a How question. The asker here was basically saying How, and identifying What as the thing they've been failing previously to accomplish.

So answering with "What, duh!" isn't necessarily a great answer.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:15 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Typical anti-masculist apologetics. "Of course it's valid theory. It's really all about doctors & scientists", conveniently ignoring the fact that in practice, in real life, anti-masculists use it on a daily basis to essentialise & vilify males.

To point back to supposedly gender-neutral, rational "bodies of work" as a justification for the propaganda surrounding the gaze is about as disingenuous as referring to the medical science of anatomy as an explanation of female hysteria."

Oh my fucking Christ, you either have absolutely no idea what you're talking about or are fuckin' retarded. I gotta drive home now, but Jesus, I really hope it's the former.
posted by klangklangston at 6:17 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did anyone suggest to the OP that the woman may be flirting with him? Or is that just totally out of the realm of possibility?
posted by fandango_matt at 6:17 PM on January 23, 2008


It is true that only one Dictators album was great. But the rest ranges for subpar to good.

actually it goes like this:

Go Girl Crazy! and Bloodbrothers=Great/*****/classic/essential
DFFD=near great due to "Pussy & Money" and "Jim Gordon Blues." Possibly the best reuninon album ever.
Manifest Destiny=pretty damned good but not as good as the others.
the live albums and demo comps=fun for fans but boring to outsiders
posted by jonmc at 6:18 PM on January 23, 2008


Dude, Girl Crazy. Though Blood Brothers is pretty good. And Fuck 'Em was the first one I owned (inherited from my dad on cassette).

Consider respect maintained. You had a cool dad. My dad's rock and roll appreciation stopped with 50's oldies. I had to find out all this shit on my own.
posted by jonmc at 6:20 PM on January 23, 2008


Is it possible for a woman not to be aware that she's making someone uncomfortable or presenting a little too much cleavage (or other exposure)?

Yes, I did it last week. Was wearing a shirt that was fine when I was standing but when I sit, I hunch, and it left a gap between two buttons which exposed my bra. The guy I was talking to started making motions on his own shirt, closing an imaginary gap. Bewildered I asked him what on earth he was doing and he pointed straight at my chest and said "Sorry, that was making me uncomfortable". I apologised and was slightly humilated in the process but we continued on with our conversation normally. I do wonder though, would it have been better if he said nothing at all? Then again, if I got home and realised my mistake I would have been mortified to know I'd been flashing my boss my red bra the whole day.
posted by liquorice at 6:21 PM on January 23, 2008


"Did anyone suggest to the OP that the woman may be flirting with him? Or is that just totally out of the realm of possibility?"

A few people did from what I originally gleaned.
posted by rob paxon at 6:21 PM on January 23, 2008


Jesus Christ. I don't even know what to say except that there sure are a lot of guys who not only Don't Get It, they don't want to Get It and don't even want to think about it.

But I think it's odd to expect any conversation about breasts on the internet to be completely dry and seriou
s.

We're not talking about "the internet." We're talking about right here, MetaFilter and in particular AskMe, which is supposed to be about answering questions, not boobie jokes.

There's a difference between the ideal and the realistic.


And there's a difference between AskMe and a frat house. I hope.

Thanks for posting this, thehmsbeagle. It took guts. Sorry it's going so badly. Keep the faith.
posted by languagehat at 6:21 PM on January 23, 2008 [29 favorites]


Veronitron, I think both of us can come up with different scenarios depicting what the "leaning in" in question might have looked like, and I most definitely don't think you or I or the OP can say with certainty that it was somehow deliberate on the co-workers' part (or not). I think all of us can agree, however, that in the course of working in an office environment, at some point you are likely to lean down to give a co-worker something or talk to them about something.

But all that's besides the point. What matters is that the OP wanted advice on his behavior, not advice about how to control or prohibit certain kinds of actions by his female co-workers. My point was that many of the responses here an in the AskMe post treated the woman's behavior- intentional or not- as the problem, when the poster very clearly stated that he was seeking help with his own.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:23 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm interested in the comparison of the crying thread to the boobwatching thread. I've both cried and stared in the past, and I've always found it easier to move my eyes away from something than to stop tears coming out. But, admitting the crying is more likely to be a feminine problem, and assuming that staring (for whatever reason) is more likely to be a masculine problem, are you saying that it is physically impossible to avert one's eyes? Sheesh, dudes, you probably shouldn't be allowed to drive with that kind of a problem. I mean, there's breasts on billboards and in cars all over the place.
posted by b33j at 6:24 PM on January 23, 2008


Go Girl Crazy! and Bloodbrothers=Great/*****/classic/essential

Jesus fucking Christ. Could we stop with your boyzone shit already jonmc?
posted by eyeballkid at 6:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ. I don't even know what to say except that there sure are a lot of guys who not only Don't Get It, they don't want to Get It and don't even want to think about it.

And still many who won't Say It, Explain It, or cite Evidence of It.
posted by rob paxon at 6:27 PM on January 23, 2008


Oh my fucking Christ, you either have absolutely no idea what you're talking about or are fuckin' retarded. I gotta drive home now, but Jesus, I really hope it's the former.

Well, since you clearly know what you're talking about, perhaps you could explain it, instead of resorting to childish ad-hominems, or vague statements like "it's about how expressions of power affect interpersonal and social dynamics. It's part of a critical body of work regarding the difference inherent in gazes (medical, editorial, diegetic) first, applied to gender relations second".

God, that sort of meaningless waffle takes me right back to three straight years of it, in my philosophy & sociology BA. It's easy enough to fall into, just repeat all the time-worn cliches & you'll pass with flying colours. Doesn't make a word of it right, though. It just sounds right, for the right audience.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:28 PM on January 23, 2008


And this is why God invented Burquas.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Typical anti-masculist apologetics.

Quite.
posted by kosem at 6:29 PM on January 23, 2008


One of my first reactions to that thread is, "Do men really stare at women's tits?" I mean, I'm a woman, and I have tits (and have from the time I was in early puberty). I don't recall one instance of someone staring at my tits. Ok, I'm overweight (and have been from the time I was in early puberty). But, I still have tits. And in my ren faire bodice, I don't know how anyone could miss the fact -- yet, nobody has ever stared at my tits.

Is it that this incredibly ingrained thing that men can't help but do only kicks in when the women are otherwise "current dominant culture standards for what women's bodies should be like"? If so, that doesn't sound biological, but culturally conditioned.

In other words, I am not sure I buy the "It can't be HELPED" that I'm hearing from some of the men in that string. I think this is a mythology, a bit of boyzone posturing. And it distracted from the real question.
posted by lleachie at 6:29 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's a work environment. Even if she is indeed flirting, it should be ignored in favor of professionalism.
posted by casarkos at 6:31 PM on January 23, 2008


At this point, I only look at a womans boobs if she's carrying a sign saying 'it's OK to look at them.' But then again these days I'm more interested in beer and finding a copy of The Golden Turkey Awards. Although, I was talking to female co-worker the other day and mentioned that drug dealers and panhandlers always called me 'Slim.' she said that she got 'Red' (she's red haired) and 'Bambi' (I have no idea) and (her words) 'nice boobs, baby, although I don't see it,' and pointed at her chest. I nodded.

The point is, women are aliens and make no sense. I realize I'm rambling but I'm drunk and had a bad day and my wife is watching American Idol.
posted by jonmc at 6:31 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this, thehmsbeagle. It took guts. Sorry it's going so badly. Keep the faith.

And if it goes totally belly-up, at least we'll have an answer to a question for the ages: "do we prefer talking about Heath Ledger, or arguing over boobs?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:32 PM on January 23, 2008


lleachie, I feel pretty strong in my assumption that women are fairly oblivious to when someone looks at their breasts. It is rare for a man or woman to stare prolonged at them with their jaws dropped. Most men or women who claim they can tell when someone is staring at them or "checking them out", in my opinion, is likely to be wrong a great deal of the time.
posted by rob paxon at 6:33 PM on January 23, 2008



which one? My respect for you depends on the answer. (There are two which will maintain it).


Suddenly loquacious appears in a flash of light and smoke, wearing black ninja garb, but you can't tell it's loquacious because he's in black ninja garb! Jonmc tries to react, but his nicotine, beer and junk-food addled sedentary frame is too old and too slow!

Ninja-loquacious blurs into motion, blades slicing like scythe. In seconds, years and years of diabolical, painstaking work is destroyed - it's the decline of Western Civilization all over again!

In another flash and bang, ninja-loquacious disappears.

As the smoke clears, a message is revealed neatly carved in the wall:
They say punk is dead.
Punk isn't dead.
But what was once punk is dead.
It just changed.
Because for it to be punk,
it must change and become new again.

Once the formula is written,
it must be erased.

You're only as old as your music.
posted by loquacious at 6:34 PM on January 23, 2008


It's a work environment. Even if she is indeed flirting, it should be ignored in favor of professionalism.

That's odd to me, because every place I've ver worked has been riddled with co-workers flirting and sleeping with eachother.
posted by jonmc at 6:35 PM on January 23, 2008


They say punk is dead.
Punk isn't dead.
But what was once punk is dead.
It just changed.
Because for it to be punk,
it must change and become new again.

Once the formula is written,
it must be erased.

You're only as old as your music.


I have no idea what you're saying here but I salute you anyway.
posted by jonmc at 6:36 PM on January 23, 2008


I realize I'm rambling but I'm drunk and had a bad day and my wife is watching American Idol.

Go join her. Please.
posted by mlis at 6:38 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I most definitely don't think you or I or the OP can say with certainty that it was somehow deliberate on the co-workers' part (or not).

Whether deliberate or not, I think the issue is whether it was repeated
What matters is that the OP wanted advice on his behavior, not advice about how to control or prohibit certain kinds of actions by his female co-workers. My point was that many of the responses here an in the AskMe post treated the woman's behavior- intentional or not- as the problem, when the poster very clearly stated that he was seeking help with his own.

The OP assumed it was his behaviour that was the issue. You seem to be in total denial that this assumption was not necessarily valid. Repeated leaning over on his desk is making him uncomfortable and unsure how best to deal with his discomfort. Such is the massive stigma about mentioning something to a woman in the workplace seems to be leading the OP to just blindly assuming full responsibility.

Is not (if worded correctly) "Please don't lean over my desk as you are exposing yourself to me unwittingly" a reasonable resolution? It entirely removes any discomfort on the OP's part. If it truly is accidental, the woman in question may (after the initial embarrassment) appreciate knowing she was unwittingly showing everyone her chesticles...
posted by Brockles at 6:41 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't. She's watching Moment Of Truth now.
posted by jonmc at 6:43 PM on January 23, 2008


rob paxon, you say of not policing thoughts, "So long as those thoughts don't involve you or your breasts or whatever else you don't want people to think about or look at." I don't see how you get there - it's your behaviour (staring, looking too much) in the workplace that you're being asked to control. One of a number of behaviours I presume you'd control in the office despite thinking otherwise- e.g. thought: boss, you are an incompetent arse who shouldn't be left in charge of a lemonade stand, let alone this project; action: saying, "Well, that's an interesting idea, but..." On AskMe - thought:(Some joke about breasts); action:post helpful answer or nothing.
posted by Abiezer at 6:43 PM on January 23, 2008


You can not possibly get any more ridiculous than "YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO LOOK AT ME". We don't have the right to look at or think about you or parts of your body? Are you the thought police? Patently absurd. And to connect this with respect and feelings is only one notch less silly. Looking at a woman's exposed cleavage is being disrespectful? Having a mental opinion of a woman's breasts is not respecting her feelings? How does any of this connect.

I fully agree that it is the polite thing to do to avoid behaviors known to make another person uncomfortable. It isn't a matter of "rights". People have the right to do things that make you uncomfortable, and they have the right to not care how it makes you feel. In the workplace, thankfully, people are forced within reason (and often outside of reason) to avoid making you uncomfortable. And that's it.


Ok, I have (rather stupidly) realized this discussion is quite futile. I hate to say this and my apologies to lhat and guys who have been reasonable but all I got at this point is: Lucky for you, you're a man. Lucky for you that you can walk down the street and not worry about people exercising the fact that the construction worker you pass knows "you have no rights to what other think/say about your body" and he can holler, whistle and say the crudest damn thing he can think of. Lucky you that you don't have to worry about someone grabbing your ass in a crowd of people because "you have no rights to what other think/say about your body."

What you're not getting is that we can't walk down the street, go to work, walk the mall, get on MeFi without someone ogling our junk! It's frustrating and you seem to have the attitude that that's just too damn bad. Well you know what? Easy for you to say.
posted by CwgrlUp at 6:47 PM on January 23, 2008 [9 favorites]


The "all men are hard wired to stare at boobies as sexual objects" thing is hysterical. Didn't any of you look at the pictures in National Geographic as kids? There are entire continents where fully exposed breasts are not considered sexual.

You have been carefully trained by modern society to stare at breasts and think badly of women whose endowments make it impossible for them to ever look "professional" in your eyes. It's not "hardwiring", it's culture. And, as hard as it is for you to believe, culture is changeable.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:49 PM on January 23, 2008 [31 favorites]


rob paxon: I've been reading up and down this thread for a while, trying to figure out where the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan in your case. I think it's here:

A sexist question (predicated on differences in gender and gender-specific interactions) is going to produce variably sexist answers. So long as a thread like that is allowed, what do you expect.

AskMe sets the bar a bit higher than that, specifically with the "Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers." note at the bottom of the Live Preview. Note that it wasn't the question that was called out here, it was the titty-joke wisecrack answers to it. And the subsequent (actual or perceived) defenses of those jokey wisecracks that added fuel to the fire. Writing it off as "eh, what you gonna do, the question is begging for that stuff?" doesn't quite cut it. You could say questions about anal sex are begging for poop jokes... but those get snuffed out too.

And still many who won't Say It, Explain It, or cite Evidence of It.

Did you read any of the massive Women-Talking-About-Sexism-On-MetaFilter threads? If not, maybe you should take a scroll through them. It might provide some insight, if you're up to it. And it might shed some light on why "well, people have the right to make you uncomfortable - toughen up, girly" train of thought rankles.
posted by CKmtl at 6:50 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Christ, wear a burqa already.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:54 PM on January 23, 2008


Abiezer, I honestly don't really follow what you're saying so I'll just respond generally. She was saying that people do not have the right to look at or think about her (or her _____). That is inaccurate. We have unlimited and unfettered freedom of thought. We are free to look at anything. This is not a work-specific statement as that part of the comment I was responding to did not specify itself to be work-specific. When later specified to be work-specific, I made comment specific to work. That is, in the work place that freedom to look is limited only in the aspect of staring/ogling to the point where it makes the person uncomfortable. That does not equate to "you do not have the right to look at/think about _____."

As to your example, the person would be limiting their speech not their thought.

Hrm... ok now I think I understand you, I believe you misunderstood me. You thought I was saying we only have freedom of thought unless _____. I was not saying that. I was responding sarcastically to her. She first made statements such as "you do not have the right to think about me/etc". Then she later said "I don't want to control your thoughts", so I responded "unless they're about you/etc". I hope this clears thing up.
posted by rob paxon at 6:55 PM on January 23, 2008


klangklangston writes "How fucking hard can it be for people who don't have tits around them all the fucking time?"

Apparently, for some people, hard enough that some folks approach middle age without learning how to avoid staring, and need to post a question on AskMe for advice.

foxy_hedgehog writes "Parsing the descriptions by those who argue that women are at fault for being objectified in the workplace, it seems that the criteria for attire that is guaranteed to be deemed 'approximate' - clothing that never displays one's breasts in a way that might attract attention- are impossible to acheive. The only option would be burkhas or sleeping bags, and those don't look very professional."

Y'all don't have "recruit suits" in the US?

SassHat writes "If you want to stare at boobs there are probably hundreds of opportunities every day to do this in advertising, magazines, television, the internet, movies, video games, etc."

I'm not defending staring, but I just want to point out that there is a substantive difference between seeing things in 2D and in 3D.
posted by Bugbread at 6:55 PM on January 23, 2008


Crap, nothing like running my thoughts together. The popcorn distracted me dang it...
posted by CwgrlUp at 6:56 PM on January 23, 2008


"Six million articles that nobody wants to read because there's porn around instead."

Dude, I do both, and still find time to read about music, art and science.

"You say snappy things about the male gaze once in a while and the girls go "Oooooh!" and you still get to have a scruffy beard and talk about porn and be rambunctious and argumentative and manly. I see no downside."

I mentioned this in another thread, how having a hyper-masculine exterior's really freeing in some ways. It means that here, at work, I don't ever have to pretend to like the huge fake tits, or be ashamed of being a vegetarian, or deal with any of the weird homophobia that some of my coworkers do. I just roll it all into what I consider being a man means and they can all get fucked, because as the biggest, hairiest, most swearin' son-of-a-bitch in the office, no one else can challenge me on it.


Ooooh, all that and humility, too. I'd marry you myself if I wasn't already taken.
posted by timeistight at 6:57 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


And it might shed some light on why "well, people have the right to make you uncomfortable - toughen up, girly" train of thought rankles.

well, most people of any gender, are made to feel uncomfortable multiple times a day, so the idea that a 'right' to comfort exists might sound like whining to some people.
posted by jonmc at 6:58 PM on January 23, 2008


It's a work environment. Even if she is indeed flirting, it should be ignored in favor of professionalism.

That's odd to me, because every place I've ver worked has been riddled with co-workers flirting and sleeping with eachother.


Yeah, I was going to say - if this were true I'd still be single (or at least not married to the woman I'm married to). Of course, most of the flirting happened at a nearby bar after work, so maybe the point still stands.
posted by The Gooch at 7:00 PM on January 23, 2008


well, most people of any gender, are made to feel uncomfortable multiple times a day, so the idea that a 'right' to comfort exists might sound like whining to some people.

Yeah, but the discomfort is not evenly distributed between the genders. Black people used to make white southerners uncomfortable too, so you could see why they'd get all upset when people asserted a so-called right not to be lynched. If only those damn activists could see how fucking hard it was to be white.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:06 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


You have been carefully trained by modern society to stare at breasts and think badly of women whose endowments make it impossible for them to ever look "professional" in your eyes. It's not "hardwiring", it's culture. And, as hard as it is for you to believe, culture is changeable.

I would like to favorite this five hundred times.

I'm coming down with a cold and am too fuzzy-brained to think much about all this now, but I throw my (germ-free) hat in the ring with thehmsbeagle and folk: the way to stop staring is to stop staring. It ain't that difficult. Guys who can't manage to keep their eyes in appropriate places in the office (at the least) are not cool or smooth or charming.

*goes to make tea*
posted by rtha at 7:07 PM on January 23, 2008


well, most people of any gender, are made to feel uncomfortable multiple times a day, so the idea that a 'right' to comfort exists might sound like whining to some people.

The place where I work has an official sexual-harassment policy that can be summed up as "Don't make people feel uncomfortable." It's pretty vague but it also gets around all of the issues of what is or is not harassment and gets straight to the point of making sure that the working environment is comfortable for everyone.

Also, as a computer programmer surrounded by other engineers, I've never had to deal with problems any related to viewing breasts.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:08 PM on January 23, 2008


Christ, wear a burqa already.

I'm not sure if this is funnier if the irony (of telling Jesus to dress like a Saudi woman) is intended or unintended.

Rob Paxton's analogy to the workplace is actually quite apt -- just like there are boundaries on one's behavior in the workplace, there are boundaries on one's behavior here on MeFi. Not thought control, not mandatory castration, not any prohibition on humor, not PC fascism.

Mostly it's about being a decent person, behaving in a way that is open to a diversity of viewpoints and experiences, being restrained by the community norms as expressed through the history of the site. Hey, pretty much like being at work! Or going to a restaurant! Or living within a society! Who'd a thunk it?
posted by Forktine at 7:08 PM on January 23, 2008


Ten tons of talk on a two ounce subject. Time for this old bat to weigh in:

Gals, if you must lean over a dest, take one hand and rest it on your chest, which keeps your shirt from gapping and exposing "the girls." Guys, just don't stare and drool. Girls, men like boobs and it doesn't make them sexist pigs...if you are dressed appropriately and they are staring, they ARE sexist pigs. Guys, just do the best you can, and meanwhile treat us respectfully.


Oh, and while I have everyone's attention: If I have a string on my butt, let a WOMAN tell me it's there. Guys, I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT FROM YOU, KTHANX.
posted by konolia at 7:09 PM on January 23, 2008 [10 favorites]


rob paxon - seems I missed the sarcasm; thanks for clearing that up. Set me off because of some "thought police" strands in the previous in the previous lengthy discussions on sexism. Those I disagreed with because I see a distinction between expecting certain behaviours and enforcing types of thinking; I do think it's reasonable to do the former both here and in the workplace.
Brockles makes a point that the question may not have been entirely about behaviour, which I confess I didn't see as a possibility until re-reading it. Still seems a bit of a stretch as an interpretation to me, but I suppose we won't know for sure unless the AskMe OP clarifies; either way, nothing wrong with saying something along the lines of what Brockles suggests about requesting some consideration from the female co-worker if she's being inappropriate.
posted by Abiezer at 7:11 PM on January 23, 2008


jonmc, when women walk into the middle of "women were made for staring at" conversations, or get "hey baby, you'd look good sitting on my face" in the middle of the street, we don't just feel uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is how you feel if you've committed a social faux pas. We feel more -- devalued and even at times menaced or threatened.

If I could, let me see if I can pull up a story a male acquaintance told me to give you an idea of how uncomfortable it could be for us. When he was 17, he accidentally boarded the wrong bus on the South Side of Chicago, which had originated in a very bad, gang-ridden neighborhood. This is what he got treated to on the bus:

"Whoo-EE! Looks like we got some white meat in here!"
"Ain't seen white meat in a LOOOONG time."
"Ain't TASTED white meat in a loooong time." And so on.

Regardless of the intent of these men, this guy felt threatened by their remarks. He felt as if this could escalate into something violent at any time. In addition, there was a sexual overtone that couldn't be ignored. And there were a lot of them, and only one of him.

This, I believe, captures what some women go through when they hit these types of "it's your priviledge as a male to stare at the boobies" in endless iterations notes. Frankly, we don't know any of you very well -- you're just pseudonyms on a page. And there's a lot of you, and fewer of us. It's not that we think all men are potential rapists -- it's that some of you are acting like the men who follow us and say, "Hey, baby, you'd look good sitting on my face." You are reminding us of men who have been sexually aggressive to us in the past. Yes, we feel threatened, just like my male friend who was subjected to the remarks in the story above. Yeah, they didn't REALLY do anything to him, but the threat was there. It was implied. And some of you are reminding us of those implied (and sometimes more than implied) threats we've dealt with in the past.
posted by lleachie at 7:11 PM on January 23, 2008 [29 favorites]


false analogy, allen.spaulding, but cute, I'm talking about all the usual stupis shit people do all day long, crazy people howling obscnities on the street, assholes flipping people the bird in traffic, guys spiiting on books (to 'clean' them) that I have to handle at work, bosses dressing you down in public etc, etc. Am I supposed to claim that's all part of systematic oppression or is that just fucking life in a chaotic universe?

Yeah, I was going to say - if this were true I'd still be single (or at least not married to the woman I'm married to). Of course, most of the flirting happened at a nearby bar after work, so maybe the point still stands.

I met my wife at work. The girlfriend before her, too. And I know at least two other married couples that started at the same workplace and several brief liasions. We spend most of our waking lives at work, it's not surprising that our sexual lives would enter that sphere, too.
posted by jonmc at 7:13 PM on January 23, 2008


In all my years of experience being a huge-titted, slim female, I've endured beyond my fair share of stares, ogles, and horribly rude comments. If I spent my time getting upset over every rude stare or comment, I'd be in a constant state of irritation. Let's face it, some guys are going to stare and be dicks no matter what you do, I've just come to accept it. Women might not be as bad with the staring and ogling, but women are just as bad when it comes to talking about the size of men's penises as men are with talking about women's breasts. Maybe when I'm old, wrinkled, with my tits touching the floor, I'll wish I were young again being gawked at by the opposite sex.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:13 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


well, most people of any gender, are made to feel uncomfortable multiple times a day, so the idea that a 'right' to comfort exists might sound like whining to some people.

It might, sure. And I mostly agree that there is no general 'right to not being offended'.

But. It's pretty tone-deaf way of responding, if one's interested in fostering a sense of community, y'know? In two different, yet simultaneous, ways:

- It strikes me as a bit like saying callously "Well, shit happens, everyone dies" when a friend's family member dies. The fact is that shit does happen, and people do die; but that's bloody cold.

- It sort of echoes the sort of thing a cocky cat-caller or whatever would say when confronted by the object of his ejaculations: "Hey baby, it's a free country!", etc.
posted by CKmtl at 7:21 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


jonmc, you're making even less sense than normal, and that's not just the booze talking. My booze, that is. The shit you deal with is not systematic in the way that gender motivated violence is. Thanks for making my point.

When women are stared at by men, there's no way to know if that guy is going to be the one who grabs her as she leaves the office or is just a pathetic lecher like the ones in this thread. It's a persistent threat that is highly organized and disciplinary in the truest sense of the word. The male gaze isn't the same as a random encounter on the street, it changes behavior and structures society. You and I are both beneficiaries of it, it's why are salaries are artificially higher than they'd be in a world of gender equality. Our female partners are more likely to stay with us than they'd be in a world with less gender-based violence because the next guy might be abusive. We get all sorts of fucking benefits, so stop trying to claim the additional one of getting off and celebrating the very act of control.

And to think I used to believe there'd be people here who'd come back at with me with Duncan Kennedy's Sexy Dressing and argue your points from a somewhat reasonable position. Then I could smack you around a bit and we'd have fun. Instead, you just want your damn porn and don't want to be made to ever feel bad. Every door must be opened to you at all costs.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:23 PM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


I am trying to have something meaningful to contribute to this, but the topic and I are so, so tired. Yes, breasts are beautiful and enticing. Maybe if we all acknowledged this, the lulz factor in bringing that simple fact up over and over again would die down. Like pirates, reiterating their coolness would go out of style.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:25 PM on January 23, 2008


What are the men who can't help staring at women's breasts going to call their 12-step program when they finally get around to realizing they need one?

I was looking through one of my best friend's family albums recently, and came across a picture of her sister, with her husband holding their 14 month old first-born standing beside her. The 1000-volt, naked desire on that boy's saucer-eyed face as he stared side-long at his mother's breasts made me blush bright red for some reason.

Better get it together men, or you may find you start to 'think of the children' in ways you never anticipated or desired-- I just saw an article saying breast buds are getting to be much more common in seven year olds.
posted by jamjam at 7:25 PM on January 23, 2008


rob paxon: I've been reading up and down this thread for a while, trying to figure out where the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan in your case. I think it's here:

Nothing 'set me off', I just find things being said here interesting enough to bother attempting to refute. My continued participation in this thread at this point does not have much to do with the "boobs lol" comments that were called out. Little of this thread does.

AskMe sets the bar a bit higher than that, specifically with the "Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. [...]

I understand that, which is why I do not make such comments and do not respond to AskMes that are essentially begging for offhanded comments. "If you have nothing to say that won't be deleted, say nothing at all." I have not argued in favor of allowing such comments. Any reference to them is about sexism and not about whether or not they meet AskMe-specific criteria of being relevant to questions.

Did you read any of the massive Women-Talking-About-Sexism-On-MetaFilter threads? If not, maybe you should take a scroll through them. It might provide some insight, if you're up to it. And it might shed some light on why "well, people have the right to make you uncomfortable - toughen up, girly" train of thought rankles.

I was more prodding the commenter for ambiguously lambasting/deriding and not citing anything, directing towards anyone, or making a point.
posted by rob paxon at 7:25 PM on January 23, 2008


321 and all typos are forgiven. Are. Our. Whatever.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:26 PM on January 23, 2008


It strikes me as a bit like saying callously "Well, shit happens, everyone dies" when a friend's family member dies. The fact is that shit does happen, and people do die; but that's bloody cold.

Callous maybe, but it's what 37 years on this planet have led me to conclude: that people care about things to the exact extent that it effects them, even if it's just in other poeople's opinion of them. If I'm brutally honest with myself, that's how I feel.
posted by jonmc at 7:27 PM on January 23, 2008


The shit you deal with is not systematic in the way that gender motivated violence is. Thanks for making my point.

Yes, but it's still shit. The 'systematic' makes a difference exactly how ultimately?
posted by jonmc at 7:29 PM on January 23, 2008


You and I are both beneficiaries of it, it's why are salaries are artificially higher than they'd be in a world of gender equality.

I make $9.50/hr unloading books from smelly drunk homeless guys and get berated by my bosses on a daily basis. anybody want to trade places?
posted by jonmc at 7:32 PM on January 23, 2008


Hey, I just finished looking at all of your boobs. Gotta say, niiiice.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 7:32 PM on January 23, 2008


Ooh, it's the oppression olympics. I stubbed my toe and am almost out of beer. WOE IS ME. NOBODY LOVES EEYORE. Tits or get out Take my wife life, please.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:34 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I make $9.50/hr unloading books from smelly drunk homeless guys and get berated by my bosses on a daily basis. anybody want to trade places?

Kind of, yeah.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 7:38 PM on January 23, 2008


allen.spaulding, I could give a flying fuck about oppression, but thanks for proving my point for me. If you are a member of a group that's fashionable to champion, the merest slight is horrible oppresion. If not, it's 'suck it up, that's life.' as far as I'm concerned it's 'suck it up, that's life for everyone.' Life sucks and then you die, the essense of equality is that all human beings are shit.
posted by jonmc at 7:39 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


When I said the thing about stark, unfettered genius, I was kidding. Like you'd say something effusive about Thomas Kinkade. I just had to get that off my chest*. It was driving me crazy.

*Only if you have a really good one.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 7:39 PM on January 23, 2008


To quote an old Dome song:

"That which I win is that which I love, and that which I love is that which I win."
posted by Burhanistan at 7:40 PM on January 23, 2008


Tex, you're welcome to go in my place. You'd last about 5 minutes based on what I've seen of you.
posted by jonmc at 7:41 PM on January 23, 2008


jonmc, fatalism isn't relevant to social justice. And why the hell can't you get a better job? Is the whining really that great?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:41 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tex, you're welcome to go in my place. You'd last about 5 minutes based on what I've seen of you.

What do you mean by that?
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 7:43 PM on January 23, 2008


Y'all don't have "recruit suits" in the US?

If that woman had DD size breasts, they'd be subject to the same difficulty that led to this discussion. No matter how conservative your attire, big breasts are big.
posted by small_ruminant at 7:43 PM on January 23, 2008


And why the hell can't you get a better job?

Because I'm a fuckup and a loser and lazy. My situation is entirely due to my own faults and shortcomings and I accept that, but don't expect me to gush with sympathy when my 'betters' whine about their own shit.
posted by jonmc at 7:44 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


My mama always taught me not to argue with drunks.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:45 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


So what I've learned today is that if I was a woman of endowment, all I'd have to do is carefully maintain a wardrobe that fits into the narrow range between dowdy and dissolute, keep a constant eye out for malfunctions, keep a cardigan handy at all times, make sure I don't lean over too much, keep one arm over my chest if I have to lean over at all, and test all of this thoroughly under all lighting conditions before leaving the house. If I did all of this properly, then when men stared at my chest they'd blame genetics instead of me.

I could never handle that. I'm just lucky nobody's attracted to mustard stains on black T-shirts, or else I'd be considered the biggest exhibitionist since Josephine Baker discovered the tropical fruit aisle.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 7:45 PM on January 23, 2008 [79 favorites]


What do you mean by that?

Meaning you complain about everybody and whine about everything. The first homeless guy bitching about nobody buying his piss-stained John Grisham paperback would probably have you throwing a tantrum.
posted by jonmc at 7:46 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I said the thing about stark, unfettered genius, I was kidding. Like you'd say something effusive about Thomas Kinkade. I just had to get that off my chest*. It was driving me crazy.

*Only if you have a really good one.

posted by thehmsbeaglePoster at 10:39 PM on January 23 [+] [!] Other [8/8]: «≡·

Trolling now? Can't see why you would go this route, unless you are actually trying to stir things up now.
posted by misha at 7:47 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wish I was so damn underappreciated at work that I didn't care about treating people with respect or fighting for some semblance of justice. That sounds real nice. Hell, I'd do that for $9/hr even. Watch out jonmc, I'm coming for your worldview.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:47 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I could never handle that. I'm just lucky nobody's attracted to mustard stains on black T-shirts, or else I'd be considered the biggest exhibitionist since Josephine Baker discovered the tropical fruit aisle.

Mmm...mustard! Much better than mayonnaise.
posted by misha at 7:48 PM on January 23, 2008


Meaning you complain about everybody and whine about everything. The first homeless guy bitching about nobody buying his piss-stained John Grisham paperback would probably have you throwing a tantrum.

Really? That's pretty funny.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 7:49 PM on January 23, 2008


Watch out jonmc, I'm coming for your worldview.

You're welcome to it. You can keep being a law student, though.
posted by jonmc at 7:50 PM on January 23, 2008


Is this the thread where I get to forward my examined contention that Girls Are Pretty?
posted by Firas at 7:51 PM on January 23, 2008


Really? That's pretty funny.

Not after trhe first time.
posted by jonmc at 7:51 PM on January 23, 2008


You can keep being a law student, though.

You're not the boss of me.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:52 PM on January 23, 2008


Not after trhe first time.

Are you being a cranky drunk?
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 7:53 PM on January 23, 2008


Huh, I came into this thread all excited thinking it was about boobs. Now I find out it's about one boob, in specific.
posted by Eideteker at 7:53 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Misha: actually, no. I had seen a comment that made me worry that the person making it thought I was serious and I wanted to clarify, so they didn't later feel that I had reversed positions completely. My intentions were sadly lacking in nefarious goals.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 7:53 PM on January 23, 2008


Jonmc, go get some peanut butter cup ice cream and calm down, dude.
posted by konolia at 7:54 PM on January 23, 2008


Okay, hmsbeagle, I get it now. It's late and I'm getting tired, but my finger just wants to push that refresh button anyway.
posted by misha at 7:55 PM on January 23, 2008


Nah Tex, I'm just as big an asshole when I'm sober as anyone who knows me will tell you. But you all keep listening to me blither, for the love of God, I'll never know why.
posted by jonmc at 7:55 PM on January 23, 2008


piss-stained John Grisham paperback

So it's a review copy?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:56 PM on January 23, 2008 [25 favorites]


You can keep being a law student, though.

You can only do that for so long. Then they kick you out.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:58 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Eid, people ask questions, I give my ansers or my best guesses.
posted by jonmc at 7:58 PM on January 23, 2008


The "all men are hard wired to stare at boobies as sexual objects" thing is hysterical. Didn't any of you look at the pictures in National Geographic as kids? There are entire continents where fully exposed breasts are not considered sexual.

You have been carefully trained by modern society to stare at breasts and think badly of women whose endowments make it impossible for them to ever look "professional" in your eyes. It's not "hardwiring", it's culture. And, as hard as it is for you to believe, culture is changeable.


Culture is indeed changeable, but don't be so quick to dismiss the hardwiring. Human females have proportionally the largest breasts of any primate, even though even small breasts produce adequate supplies of milk for feeding babies. This suggests that large breasts have been selected for evolutionarily, even though they serve no practical purpose.

We are also apparently the only primates who indulge in face-to-face sex; the rest do it doggie-style. For a rearward approach, the buttocks would be a primary sexual turn-on. There are theories that humans females' redundant, larger breasts serve to create an arousing buttock-substitute suitable for our idiosyncratic face-to-face sexual positions.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:00 PM on January 23, 2008


jonmc, I definitely like you, and I don't have a problem with cynical views of human nature, though I tend to cleave more to the opposite absolute from you. But, as someone who's been fired FOR being a fat, uppity, woman, and had worse jobs than yours, I both understand the day-to-day hassles of sexism and oppression and recognize that carping over those little things is both typical and nonproductive. But what I don't understand is why you think your self-avowed failure to benefit from your inborn advantages is relevant to our concerns for social justice. Where's the beef?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:01 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nah Tex, I'm just as big an asshole when I'm sober as anyone who knows me will tell you.

Fair enough. I even might throw a tantrum if some bum tried to sell me a piss-stained book. I can't recall ever throwing a tantrum at work, but there have never been bums or piss stains.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 8:02 PM on January 23, 2008


If that woman had DD size breasts, they'd be subject to the same difficulty that led to this discussion. No matter how conservative your attire, big breasts are big.

There are minimizer bras which help a good bit but are very uncomfortable. Sports bras also help them to appear smaller since they smash them down too. It's taken years to come to this, but I like my DD breasts, I don't try to hide them anymore...but I don't let them hang out either.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:03 PM on January 23, 2008


The original question was fine. The comments in question were not, but they were going to be deleted because they were jokes and/or not real answers. Anyone who has spent any time in AskMe would know that. The boyzone issue was previously discussed (to death). I am sure the questionable comments were flagged (to death). The system works. This thread does not.

So, on to something important: jonmc, what's you wife watching on TV now?
posted by probablysteve at 8:05 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


IN SUM

QUESTION GOOD

RESPONSES RETARDED
posted by generalist at 8:10 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


The place where I work has an official sexual-harassment policy that can be summed up as "Don't make people feel uncomfortable."

Interestingly enough, the woman in the post under question is sexually harassing the poster under this standard.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:18 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


jonmc, I definitely like you,

Most people do, at first, then they get to know me. Start hating me now, avoid the Christmas rush.

But what I don't understand is why you think your self-avowed failure to benefit from your inborn advantages is relevant to our concerns for social justice.

One, that there's such a thing as social justice. Assholes thrive, decent people flounder and fail. twas ever thus. Ther's no percentage in trying, so I've simply said to hell with it. Second, I just get really tired of hearing how difficult it is to be a successful attractive woman.
posted by jonmc at 8:19 PM on January 23, 2008


240 comments and counting, and I'll ask (sniper-style, cortex!) again: Must we wring our hands over this? Two hundred forty comments and counting later, I hope somebody out there besides me sees the futility of it all.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:21 PM on January 23, 2008


Bitterness taints the worldview...fills the brain up with all sorts of extra if-then loops and generally runs down the whole system.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:22 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cool Papa Bell, we heard you. We're enjoying our hand wringing. If you don't, go away.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:23 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I hope somebody out there besides me sees the futility of it all.

Oh, come on. This is Metatalk. OF COURSE it's futile.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:26 PM on January 23, 2008


There might even be neck-wringing to come later too, at this rate.
posted by Abiezer at 8:28 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


burnmp3s: "Also, as a computer programmer surrounded by other engineers, I've never had to deal with problems any related to viewing breasts."

Yea, same here; almost all male workplace. These two threads have been fascinating to me since I see so few woman on a day-to-day basis that don't really think about these issues too much. I've gone from working in home construction (100% male) to being a computer science major (90% male) to being an engineer (90% again) so I've really spent most of my career around other guys.

I do tend not to look people in the eyes when I'm talking to them, I usually wander around the room and look at the walls. At work we mostly hide in our private offices and chat via IRC anyway so there's no eye contact possible anyway.
posted by octothorpe at 8:29 PM on January 23, 2008


CPB, your point was a valid one. And I notice you're rather new to metafilter. So maybe it's an honest question.
Yes, handwringing, overthinking, moralising is something metafilter is prone to. I guess it creates a bond.
posted by jouke at 8:29 PM on January 23, 2008


This is Metatalk. OF COURSE it's futile.

Not to mention feudal.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:29 PM on January 23, 2008


240 comments and counting, and I'll ask (sniper-style, cortex!) again: Must we wring our hands over this? Two hundred forty comments and counting later, I hope somebody out there besides me sees the futility of it all.

Trying to measure futility while asking the same rhetorical question three times in the same MetaTalk thread is like trying to calibrate your oven's temperature while standing in an active volcano.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 8:30 PM on January 23, 2008 [10 favorites]


MetaFilter: Ten tons of talk on a two ounce subject
posted by Neiltupper at 8:31 PM on January 23, 2008


So you're saying that seeing the futility is futile? I imagine then, that seeing the futility in seeing the futility is futile is probably also futile.

God. No wonder Heath killed himself.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:33 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


(allegedly.)
posted by Dave Faris at 8:35 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


CPB, your point was a valid one. And I notice you're rather new to metafilter.

I wouldn't pull the "new to metafilter" thing if I were you, or else I'd be forced to point out my former primary account with the name I didn't like and haven't used in almost a year is older than yours. And the same would be true for a few other people in this thread. So there. Neener neener neener.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:36 PM on January 23, 2008


Futility is actually liberating. It frees you up to say what you actually think. And while you all may complain about my drunken bluthering you all keep reading me and favoriting my comments. Odd contradiction, that. Could it mean that you actually think I might be right?
posted by jonmc at 8:37 PM on January 23, 2008


This is metatalk.

To be said in the same way as "This is Sparta".
posted by jouke at 8:37 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Sjoberg said it.
posted by psmith at 8:38 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well I did CPB. Since you were acting like a noob.
Now what?
posted by jouke at 8:41 PM on January 23, 2008


Cool Papa Bell is new to Metafilter! Cool Papa Bell is new to Metafilter! He's a n00b! A n00by n00b n00b!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:43 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


OMG, did you just call me a noob?

Holy fuck. Do people still do that? What, is this 1996? Can I still sell my Pets.com stock before it goes tits up?

You guys like how I snuck "tits" in there just now?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:44 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Please please, jouke. This is about boobs.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:45 PM on January 23, 2008


And still, there are people that respond to jonmc when he's drunk. That's the real futility in this thread.
posted by gaspode at 8:47 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


You know what rhymes with boob? n00b! And Cool Papa Bell is both! A booby n00by n00b.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:48 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the correct phrase would be "Can I still sell my Pets.com stock before it goes teats up?"

Ok, I'm done being the pun booby making booby puns
posted by Burhanistan at 8:48 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


gaspode, you've never spoken to me sober, just so you know.
posted by jonmc at 8:49 PM on January 23, 2008


Who has?
posted by Dave Faris at 8:50 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's face it, some guys are going to stare and be dicks no matter what you do, I've just come to accept it.

Sorry, Mary, but tending bar is more than "just accepting" it. I'm sure you know that.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:50 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


actually for about 7 months, I was (as Divine Wino puts it) sober a a naked beekeeper, and i got into just as much shit.
posted by jonmc at 8:51 PM on January 23, 2008


Sorry, Mary, but tending bar is more than "just accepting" it. I'm sure you know that.

What the fuck does my job and my boobs have to do with anything?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:52 PM on January 23, 2008


Never change, MetaTalk. Never change. I've missed you, baby. (Is it okay for me to call you "baby"?)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:52 PM on January 23, 2008


Also, why do you think the two are related?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:52 PM on January 23, 2008


You're only as old as your music.

I'll be one hundred years old this year.
posted by timeistight at 8:53 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Check the tip jar--^
posted by rob paxon at 8:53 PM on January 23, 2008


gaspode, you've never spoken to me sober, just so you know.

You have time to drink at work while you're unloading piss-soaked books? Wow, now I am impressed.
posted by gaspode at 8:54 PM on January 23, 2008


The comments that were deleted were awful but the real embarrassment was how automatic they were. It was as if the algorithm of AskMe shot out comments about how it's fine to ogle at any mention of breast-gazing. I mean, it's not like it's the first time it's happened. This is a bug in the AskMe code, talking about it is good and proper. This was a fine MeTa post.
posted by Kattullus at 8:54 PM on January 23, 2008


I can picture jonmc going to work tomorrow morning, bleary-eyed and hungover, being berated by his boss while homeless drunks try to sell him spit-shined and urine-soaked paperbacks. As the day draws to its unremarkable close, jonmc trundles home to an evening of Kraft Mac & Cheese, several Budweisers, and late-night drunken posts on MetaFilter about how sad and wretched and pathetic his life is but he's too lazy and stupid and worthless to change it so we all much share in his self-inflicted misery while he attempts to troll us with pronouncements of how his hopelessness and futility is freeing and punk rock and we need to be more like him. And the next day he'll wake up bleary-eyed and hungover, and again he'll trundle off to work as the cycle begins anew, much like a swatch of used toilet paper swirling aimlessly around the bowl.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:54 PM on January 23, 2008 [17 favorites]


You have time to drink at work while you're unloading piss-soaked books? Wow, now I am impressed.

You've never spoken to me at work, only at meetups. and usually by the time you arrived I've had a few.
posted by jonmc at 8:55 PM on January 23, 2008


he attempts to troll us with pronouncements of how his hopelessness and futility is freeing and punk rock and we need to be more like him.

fandango_matt, you are under the mistaken impression that I give a flying fuck what you do, but people enjoy my drunken blithering more than your carefully worded ripostes and that just drives you nuts, dosen't it?
posted by jonmc at 8:57 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm no great fan of fandango_matt, but that was hilarious.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 8:59 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


These so-called "people" are sorely misguided.
posted by rob paxon at 8:59 PM on January 23, 2008


People like the clowns at the circus more than the acrobats, too.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:00 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


As someone who normally enjoys your drunken blithering as much as anyone, Jon, can I just say that tonight you're just kind of making me sad?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:03 PM on January 23, 2008


What, is it news to you that your profession is notorious for preferring women of certain looks, and that many if not most bars hire, provide shifts, and create dress codes based inlarge part on appearances? So, maybe it's a koinkidink that you're in a line of work that rewards for large breasts, but I assumed it was a shrewd moneymaking move. I know for my friends who've left white collar work, it has been.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:04 PM on January 23, 2008


I can picture jonmc going to work tomorrow morning, bleary-eyed and hungover

Wow, that was a pretty mean-spirited and low suckerpunch to someone who doesn't deserve it. Totally uncalled for. You really are a miserable jerk.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:06 PM on January 23, 2008 [8 favorites]


You have a penchant for self-congratulation jonmc. So f_m's comment is par for the course.
posted by jouke at 9:09 PM on January 23, 2008


As someone who normally enjoys your drunken blithering as much as anyone, Jon, can I just say that tonight you're just kind of making me sad?

Flo, this is what my day was today. I'm going to drink some more beers, screw around here some more and then go do it again tommorrow. and probably listen to people like fandango_matt when I go online, and yeah, I'm in that situation because I deserve to be there, but if I can make a few people squirm while telling my tale, so much the better.
posted by jonmc at 9:10 PM on January 23, 2008


You have a penchant for self-congratulation jonmc.

I'm congratulating myself on being an asshole? I thought I was merely being brutally honest.
posted by jonmc at 9:12 PM on January 23, 2008


So what I've learned today is that if I was a woman of endowment, all I'd have to do is carefully maintain a wardrobe that fits into the narrow range between dowdy and dissolute, keep a constant eye out for malfunctions, keep a cardigan handy at all times, make sure I don't lean over too much, keep one arm over my chest if I have to lean over at all, and test all of this thoroughly under all lighting conditions before leaving the house. If I did all of this properly, then when men stared at my chest they'd blame genetics instead of me.

And damn if that isn't a rather reasonable approximation of what many (most?) women think about while getting dressed for work in the morning and while manoeuvring through the day.
posted by Miko at 9:12 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


What, is it news to you that your profession is notorious for preferring women of certain looks, and that many if not most bars hire, provide shifts, and create dress codes based inlarge part on appearances? So, maybe it's a koinkidink that you're in a line of work that rewards for large breasts, but I assumed it was a shrewd moneymaking move. I know for my friends who've left white collar work, it has been.

Your generalized idea of female bartenders makes you look like an ignorant fool. Did you consult your crystal ball which told you exactly what I wear to work each and every day? Just so you know, the entire front of the house staff has the same uniform. So your dress code argument goes out the window. The shirt is a men's cut, button up shirt which we have to wear buttoned all the way up to the top button which bring the collar to fit tight around the neck. It's a shapeless, trash bag of a uniform and does absolutely nothing to flatter the female figure. The uniform does nothing for me except make me look fat since it billows out around the waist and completely conceals the size of my breasts. No one knows I even have breasts until I come into work dressed in plain clothes. Also our range of bartenders includes an equal number of both sexes and attractiveness doesn't play a role in who they promote behind the bar. Maybe I should start making generalizations about fat chicks...I hear they give great head, you know, to make up for other lacking attributes.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:12 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I winced as I read that from you, F_M.

So, to bail this out (and avoid having to wade in for a fight about sexism because I'm high and feelin' good and don't wanna call people fucks even if I think they kinda deserve it), here're a couple of songs that have reminded me of jonmc (well, and vice versa): Left Wing Fascists—I Drive a Yugo and K-Mart Shopper.
posted by klangklangston at 9:13 PM on January 23, 2008


Wow, that was a pretty mean-spirited and low suckerpunch to someone who doesn't deserve it. Totally uncalled for. You really are a miserable jerk.

Describing someone as having a bleary-eyed hangover is mean-spirited when that someone flaunts his drinking?
posted by rob paxon at 9:15 PM on January 23, 2008


I also thought that was mean-spirited, f_m.
posted by Abiezer at 9:16 PM on January 23, 2008


To be honest, fandango's opinion ofme dosen't bother me much, I don't know him and from hios MeFi persona, I don't think we'd understand or like eachother much. If klang or DW or Breezeway had said the same thing, it might bug me, but here's the thing: if I wanted to be a true asshole, I could mercilessly rip apart a lot of people's online selves, ut I don't because I realize that, despite their faults, they have their points to make and that ultimately their they are just telling me who they are and what they see and the combination thereof is what makes up any MeFi, MeCha or any other online comment.
posted by jonmc at 9:21 PM on January 23, 2008


That's a crap day for sure, Jon. And that's definitely part of what's making me sad. The other part is that I can't quite figure out why you don't seem to want to extrapolate from how that day made you feel to empathize with how many of the women in these threads say being demeaned makes them feel. Oh well, it's all shit, and everybody suffers isn't good enough. It's not good enough for you, and it's not good enough for them.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:23 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Jon, you had a bad day, it sucked, and now you are probably pretty fuzzy around the edges. But this thread is about boobs, NOT YOU.
posted by konolia at 9:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


No, I give great head because it pays better than tending fucking bar.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


So hard to tell the difference......

yuk yuk yuk
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Accidental is one thing, but no woman would stand for the equivalent - I bet people can't help when the guy's nuts drop out of his shorts on the subway when he sits down, but if it happened at work every day, they'd soon pipe up and complain.

Remind me why you consider a woman's breasts to be the equivalent of a man's testicles and not her ovaries (the true equivalent)? Because, yeah, you're completely misguided.

Please. If a woman comes and leans, that's not different than a man coming in and leaning. It's just a motion that many people put no extra thought into. It's simply done.

Leaning over is not anywhere near the equivalent of a man deliberately putting his balls in some woman's face. That wouldn't be just a normal motion without extra thought, generally speaking.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I didn't think it was particularly mean-spirited. As far as as jonmc has told us, "going to work tomorrow morning, bleary-eyed and hungover, being berated by his boss while homeless drunks try to sell him spit-shined and urine-soaked paperbacks" is precisely what he's going to do.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 9:27 PM on January 23, 2008


(And everyone in favor of jonmc going to see a counselor or a minister or a career advisor, please favorite this comment.)
posted by konolia at 9:27 PM on January 23, 2008 [23 favorites]


Anyone got bingo yet?
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:29 PM on January 23, 2008 [12 favorites]


while homeless drunks try to sell him spit-shined and urine-soaked paperbacks"

to tell the truth, I actually kind of like the homeless drunks. Show them a small amount of kindnes, even just calling them 'sir' or 'ma'am' like any other customer and they're nice as hell everytime they come in.
posted by jonmc at 9:31 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


So what I've learned today is that if I was a woman of endowment, all I'd have to do is carefully maintain a wardrobe that fits into the narrow range between dowdy and dissolute, keep a constant eye out for malfunctions, keep a cardigan handy at all times, make sure I don't lean over too much, keep one arm over my chest if I have to lean over at all, and test all of this thoroughly under all lighting conditions before leaving the house. If I did all of this properly, then when men stared at my chest they'd blame genetics instead of me.

I think what you really learned was how to read a thread wearing tinted glasses, then take a few things people on the "other side" said, lump them all together as if they were one cohesive argument supported by all of those whom you disagree with, and then spit them back out as extremely exaggerated paraphrases. Also known as Ass 101.

And damn if that isn't a rather reasonable approximation of what many (most?) women think about while getting dressed for work in the morning and while manoeuvring through the day.

Guys are so lucky they don't have to consider how work-appropriate something is on before putting it on in the morning. I mean rilly.
posted by rob paxon at 9:31 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think fandango matt meant to be funny, though it came out harsh.

And jonmc needs a hug.
posted by misha at 9:31 PM on January 23, 2008


So are you saying that it's hard for men and women to see each other's point of view on a topic that involves sexual behavior?

Yee-gads, that's a silly notion. Men and women usually are completely in sync on perceptions of sexuality...

Those that think male reactions to female breasts are a 'cultural artifact' should read The Naked Ape before making such claims.

For all our cool espresso machines, digital watches, and other trinkets, we are still animals only a few thousand years from roots as nomadic primates with neat opposable thumbs and a penchant for language that other animals lack.

I have to say there must be a spike in emergency room visits for whiplash from all the men here bending over backwards to declare they never look at breasts.
posted by Argyle at 9:33 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Has any man in either thread say they never look at breasts? Cite, please.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:36 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm kind of ashamed to admit this, but I don't actually know what breasts are. This thread has been kind of confusing.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 9:36 PM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


"said"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:36 PM on January 23, 2008


The male gaze isn't the same as a random encounter on the street, it changes behavior and structures society. You and I are both beneficiaries of it, it's why are salaries are artificially higher than they'd be in a world of gender equality.

Yet another example of the lazy-ass thinking that accompanies so much ranting about the gaze, and why I'd always prefer to hear somebody explain the structures, causes & effects, instead of relying on this holy cow that is little more than a *symptom* of power inequalities, with a bit of a reinforcement loop towards maintaining those inequalities in some situations thrown in.

So, let's try to set out the causes & effects claimed above. Some guys leer at women. Some of those guys are potential rapists. This causes women to often feel threatened under the gaze. Women get paid less as a result. Something tells me there's a step or two missing in there. Probably the bit where the gaze is treated as a synechdoche for gender inequality as a whole.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:37 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Y'all don't have "recruit suits" in the US?
We do. Just not that would fit me. Of all the many fashion challenges that come with having big boobs, finding a tailored shirt like that ranks just below finding a suit jacket. Anything that fits me in the shoulders and waist is so tight in the chest that the buttons strain visibly and you can see my bra through the gaps between each button. (You do realize, right, that women's clothing sizes don't take into account one's bra size. It's not like you can buy a size 6 shirt in a DD cup. It's just size 6, with the assumption that your breasts are proportionate to your frame. If your waist and shoulders are size 6 and your boobs are size 12, you're out of luck.) I have to mail order from Bravissimo in Britain to find either a blazer or a button-down shirt that doesn't look obscene, not to mention ugly.

I have unusually large breasts. Not like DD; more like FF or G. Finding clothes that fit is a huge challenge. Finding clothes that fit and make me look cute and don't show off more than I want to... well, I do my best. And the thing is, if I miss the mark, it really isn't anything I'm doing for your benefit. It's just that there are only so many hours in the day, and I have things to do other than contemplate the proper presentations of my breasts. It's really not a statement that I want to be ogled.
posted by craichead at 9:38 PM on January 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


Women get paid less as a result.

This is where I kind of lose the thread of the argument. Female bosses, in my experience, don't tend to be any better to those under them than male ones. I'm kind of wondering whether it's not so much connected to the usual gender stuff as it is to to those in power holding on to their power. And they aren't the ones who bear the brunt of the backlash and that's where the problems come in.
posted by jonmc at 9:41 PM on January 23, 2008


I have to say there must be a spike in emergency room visits for whiplash from all the men here bending over backwards to declare they never look at breasts.

Yeh, poor things. Just imagine how much pain they'll be in when they try to look away from the nurses leaning over them.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:42 PM on January 23, 2008


Tit. Tit.
Tit. Tit.
Tit. Tit.
Boobies.

Are we happy now?
posted by casarkos at 9:44 PM on January 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wait, are you guys saying "boobs" or "boob-urns?"
posted by Krrrlson at 9:45 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


casarkos, you can totally see cleavage in between those tit links.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:47 PM on January 23, 2008


by which I mean that when a a boss demeans jane female employee. it's often Joe the File Clerk working alomgsideher who feels the brunt of her anger for noticing that she looks nice today even though it's Vice-President Bob who's screwing her over but she can't say anything because then she'll lose her job and then Joe feels resentful, because as long as Bob says the right things publicly, he can continue screwing over both Joe and Jane.
posted by jonmc at 9:47 PM on January 23, 2008


No, I give great head because it pays better than tending fucking bar.

I see where your priorities lie.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:48 PM on January 23, 2008


Armitage Shanks, that's hilarious. I wish I could favourite it about 16 more times.
posted by Firas at 9:49 PM on January 23, 2008


Hey, guys, we're having Metafilter's First Annual Worst Job Contest. It started a while ago. The contestants so far:

jonmc: Buys piss-soaked paperbacks while hungover and being berated by his bosses. Bums are involved.

MaryDellamorte: Wears a trash bag while tending bar and looking fat. Until recently, her coworkers didn't know she had breasts.

AmbrosiaVoyeur: Sucks cock.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 9:57 PM on January 23, 2008 [23 favorites]


*sucks a cock in a piss soaked trash bag while berating a bum*
posted by jonmc at 9:58 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


So hard to tell the difference......

yuk yuk yuk


That was totally awesome if it was a play on the double-entendre.

If it was a comment about barmaids, it sucked.

/favouriting dilemma
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:58 PM on January 23, 2008


How do you avoid looking at a catfight?

So I'm sitting at a desk reading Metatalk and two female members start flaming each other. Huge, claws out catfight in front of me. I try to focus on other comments while reading but that makes me seem weird, as does clicking on other posts or turning off my monitor.

I'm approaching middle age and I still don't know how to deal with this! Will I ever? As far as I can tell this is just instinct.
posted by The Gooch at 10:01 PM on January 23, 2008


IANAB, but this is really useful.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:01 PM on January 23, 2008


I rolb muh jolrb!!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:01 PM on January 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


*sucks a cock in a piss soaked trash bag while berating a bum*

sorry, recreational activities are excluded from the competition.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:03 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


How do you avoid looking at a catfight?

You don't have to. You've obviously been pussywhipped too much.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:05 PM on January 23, 2008


UbuRoivas, TPS' comment was in reference to konolia's, not AV's. As a sidenote, I suck cock(s) too, but only in solidarity. And because I'm closeted.
posted by Firas at 10:06 PM on January 23, 2008


Forktine writes "Honestly, the answer to 'how do I not stare like a pervert?' is 'don't stare like a pervert.' Sometimes you make eye-contact, sometimes you turn your head and look out the window, and sometimes you look at something on your desk. What you don't do is fixate on her cleavage. You don't do it by not doing it -- it is honestly that simple"

Someone posted a similar comment in the AskMe of interest. IMO that's a really poor and unhelpful answer. The asker was looking for tactics to handle a problem and someone responding "Just don't do it" doesn't help anyone. Do they go around telling people in AA "Being sober is easy, just don't drink"? Do they picket Weight Watchers meetings saying "WW is a big scam" and "Loosing weight is easy, just don't eat"?

jonmc writes "dude, all anybody cares about is sex, money, power and ego. get over it."

Where does NetHack fit into that metric?

The Gooch writes "Well, I guess I'm stumped then. When someone asks a question that has only one possible answer ('LOOK SOMEWHERE ELSE'), which the asker rejects outright from the start, I'm not sure there's much anyone can do to help."

Yep, one of the unwritten rules of AskMe is not every question is answerable.

Cool Papa Bell writes "OMG, did you just call me a noob? Holy fuck. Do people still do that? "

What are you new here?
posted by Mitheral at 10:06 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


It suddenly occurs to me that I have never been in a workplace for any length of time without discovering that there's at least one person who works (presumably) on the same floor as me, and whom I might be interacting with regularly, who thinks it's okay to pee all over the seat or not flush something they really should have or other similarly vaguely repulsive things.

So I'm thinking that perhaps the unpleasantness of being ogled and verbally harassed by a subset of the male population is, well, not like the unpleasantness of encountering such a thing in the bathroom, but perhaps leaves a person feeling equally icky and helpless.

Or not; it's as hard for me to understand as it is for the women I've known over the years who don't seem to understand just quite how sensitive testicles can be. Sometimes, there's just no cross-sexual equivalent, just like there's not always a cross-cultural one.
posted by davejay at 10:07 PM on January 23, 2008


Remind me why you consider a woman's breasts to be the equivalent of a man's testicles and not her ovaries (the true equivalent)? Because, yeah, you're completely misguided.

Please. If a woman comes and leans, that's not different than a man coming in and leaning. It's just a motion that many people put no extra thought into. It's simply done.

Leaning over is not anywhere near the equivalent of a man deliberately putting his balls in some woman's face. That wouldn't be just a normal motion without extra thought, generally speaking.


This is all senseless. A comparison doesn't necessitate that things be biological equivalents. The penis and female breasts are similar in many ways of perception, sexuality, stigma, image, etc.

A man and a woman leaning in are different in that in one example a man is leaning in and in another a woman is leaning in. Breasts, vaginas, penises. There are some fundamental differences at work here regardless of if you want to act as if it doesn't matter. It is ALL that matters. No one is saying women can't lean in front of people. The point is that it results in something which can result in something else. It can result in cleavage right up in a man's grill which can result in him feeling uncomfortable and/or looking at it. But who cares if he feels uncomfortable, he's just fighting his perverted urges.

It's simple. When something is visible people will see it. People will look at what they can see. If you don't want something to be seen, then don't make it visible. Women know that bending over to pick something up will leave their ass arched up for all to see. Hell, men know it too and plenty are just as self-conscious picking something up. Those who do not want their ass sticking out will crouch down. The leaning is no different. If you don't want a man looking at your cleavage you should not bend down with your chest in a guy's face while wearing a cleavage-exposing shirt.

That isn't an unfair burden on you so to put a burden on men to feel as if looking at a woman's cleavage, breasts, or anything else is horrible when women look at and make the same mental notes. I bet women coworkers are as or more likely to talk about a woman's cleavage / provocative dress / etc as male coworkers are. This burden coupled with the woman's exposed cleavage leaning over right in his face are what is making the OP uncomfortable.

If you think it is wrong for a man to simply look at a woman's chest as it may make her uncomfortable then you should apply the same thinking to a woman leaning her chest into a man's face as it may make him uncomfortable. If you think one isn't wrong than the other shouldn't be either. A reasonable person will feel that there is a line to both. Looking is not staring and leaning to do something is not leaning for a prolonged time. In either case one should be aware of the potential to make the other uncomfortable and limit one's action to prevent that or stop once it reaches that point.

But that would be considering all sides.
posted by rob paxon at 10:07 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


Jon, seriously, man, just go to bed. Your best interests? At heart.

I'm going to bed, too, but it's hard to walk away from all of this without participating. I should say, though, that there's something that's been missed in the bartender conversation above. It's true, I expect, that attractive servers start out with a higher letter grade re: tipping than not, but ultimately tips are really based on how long you have to stand there wanting a drink and not getting one. You might be able to make a lot of money if you're spectacularly hot and a lousy bartender, but I tend to doubt it. Drinking folks wanna drink. Imply otherwise, and you operate from a false premise. Says me, anyway.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:09 PM on January 23, 2008


Hey, guys, we're having Metafilter's First Annual Worst Job Contest. It started a while ago. The contestants so far:

jonmc: Buys piss-soaked paperbacks while hungover and being berated by his bosses. Bums are involved.

MaryDellamorte: Wears a trash bag while tending bar and looking fat. Until recently, her coworkers didn't know she had breasts.

AmbrosiaVoyeur: Sucks cock.


Despite the hideous uniform, I actually enjoy my job and I make enough money to keep me happy. I only work 10 - 5 monday through friday, and it's just be behind the bar. Most of my clientele is comprised mostly of regulars and I just shoot the shit all day long and talk about great beer. I also think a good aspect of my job is that I get to leave work at work. I don't have to be bothered at home for work related issues. I also have a great benefits package including health and dental insurance, disability, and 401K.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:15 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've had the problem when it's hard to stop looking at a woman's breasts. Happened when I was watching a tv show the other day - I had seen it before, but I just never noticed how very well endowed the slim actress was, and how much her costume, which was not overtly sexy (faux military, actually), nonetheless completely accentuated that. Fortunately, it was a tv show, so I could stare without offended anyone. I supose that means I have Male Gaze. Is there a treatment you can get for that?

But seriously, I'm bi, and I've had trouble not staring at both men and women in the past. Does this make me an equal opportunity objectifier? Am I twice as evil, or do they cancel each other out?

I think the best suggestions were for the OP to stand up. This solves his problem, and the woman might realize that he is uncomfortable with her leaning over his desk.
posted by jb at 10:16 PM on January 23, 2008


konolia writes "But this thread is about boobs, NOT YOU."

Really? I thought it was about the inappropriate words of some posters (not to imply jon's words were inappropriate).

It's Raining Florence Henderson writes "Has any man in either thread say they never look at breasts? Cite, please."

Someone up thread implied it. However they then started hitting on my brother.
posted by Mitheral at 10:17 PM on January 23, 2008


UbuRoivas, I think you're off about what the idea of the Male Gaze is supposed to be about. It isn't the empirical claim that women get leered at and [missing steps] women get badly treated in the workplace. As I understand it, very roughly, it's along these lines (over-simplified! top of my head! just the general idea!):

Our (men's and women's) concept of what it is to be a (good/valuable) woman is based on women being watched by men. Men think of women's value in terms of how the women look, and women think of their own value in terms of how they look to men. (This comes out of film theory, and the study of advertising and visual art -- so the core cases here are cases of how men and women are represented in film or photos or paintings, not cases of real women being ogled in person. The first stuff on this -- as I recall -- is about how film cameras are positioned from the point of view of male lovers, watching women undress, but there weren't corresponding woman's p-o-v shots back at the guy. So in effect the viewer was put in the position of the male character.)

So we get a shared social concept of gender roles according to which it's very important how women look, how they choose to present themselves visually, how they do their hair and makeup and how they pose and so on. It's not so important how men look (other things about them are more important), and there are few things about a woman that trump the importance of how she looks. Women get their meaning/worth by being suitable for men to look at. Fat women, ugly women, women who don't shave, women who don't [do various appearance-cultivating things] are extra worthy of scorn because they're unsuitable for looking at, and being looked at by men is what they're for. Both women and men are conditioned to think of women this way. It leads to destructive behavior for women (trying to become better-suited for looking at); leads to both sexes thinking of women being passive objects, not agents (people who act and think independently).

Ok - now I'm off. As I said that's all very approximate. But the Male Gaze is not in the first instance about real women getting ogled at work. It's supposed to be a more background-of-consciousness thing that influences what we see as valuable in women, and that in turn has various effects.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:21 PM on January 23, 2008 [33 favorites]


END THE METATALK BUREAUCRACY
posted by rob paxon at 10:27 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


Ubu implied that he had some awareness of The Gaze through Foucault, but of course different schools use the concept differently.

To LobsterMitten's description, which is perfectly okay, I would add that male primacy and male bearing of "the look" obviously predates cinema. Laura Mulvey is pretty much a central figure in my academic interest, and I will happily discuss her work at length, but the discourse about it heretofore has been really scattered and kind of hard to clean up. Thanks for having at it, LobsterMitten.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:30 PM on January 23, 2008


Frankly, when I posted what I posted, it wasn't meant as females-are-objects male bs. But since it offended someone and then communism kicked in and got my comments deleted, I feel the need to say something about it.

If a female doesn't want her gazungas gawked at, maybe she shouldn't wear a revealing shirt. And don't give me that crap about men not having to do it, because in a good percentage of jobs, if a guy shows his milkless funbags he too would be stared at, talked to, and possibly corrected. Or, something more to the point, if his schlong was peaking out, even slightly, at people, he would get fired and possibly arrested.

Anyway, my point is, to avoid a crime, you have to remove the temptation of such crime. If you feel the shirt you are wearing is too revealing, it probably is. If you feel your skirt is too short, it probably is. Check yourself before you expose yourself.
posted by 29 at 10:31 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, I have DD breasts. No one does stare at them (except my husband, and not even him if there is a video game in the room). Maybe it's because they are under the black t-shirt with the mustard stain - I pulled it out of Sjoberg laundry.
posted by jb at 10:32 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


For a rearward approach, the buttocks would be a primary sexual turn-on.

I like big butts and I cannot lie.

You other brothers can't deny.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:34 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ron Paul will also legalize the IMG tag.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:34 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


late to the thread, but i have to say...
female breasts are just about the most powerful, iconic things in the universe. they're the first thing we see coming out of the womb, like a bullseye target that we're hardwired to suck on. it should be no surprise at all that surviving commenters honor these things at every possible juncture, because there is literally no comparison whatsoever. they start as ovoid when you palpate them up from the base, as i do, and finish off as incredibly rounded heavenly mounds demanding that my hand gently map and explore them, brushing the erectile nipples with the slightest touch for maximum effect. called upon for the record to endorse or denounce breasts, i'm speaking out to endorse them.
posted by bruce at 10:36 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


A lot of the men here should stuff a sock in it.

Trousers, that is.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:37 PM on January 23, 2008


If a female doesn't want her gazungas gawked at, maybe she shouldn't wear a revealing shirt.

Do you think men don't gawk at women that cover themselves up? They do.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:39 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm not saying that I disagree with what you said, but I just wanted to bring up a point.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:40 PM on January 23, 2008


It's really not a statement that I want to be ogled.

But it's so fullsome and attractive that my eyes I can't divert. It's an order of magnitude greater than all the other statements I've been ogling today.
posted by peacay at 10:42 PM on January 23, 2008


what would Carlin do
posted by Afroblanco at 10:44 PM on January 23, 2008


Do you think men don't gawk at women that cover themselves up? They do.

The topic at hand is cleavage.
posted by 29 at 10:49 PM on January 23, 2008


Do you think men don't gawk at women that cover themselves up? They do.

Maybe they're just ogling your great package.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 10:51 PM on January 23, 2008


Do you think men don't gawk at women that cover themselves up? They do.

No more, I imagine, than women "gawk" at men. But this is about exposed cleavage and naturally there is no direct comparison for women->men.

In the real world, if a woman doesn't want her chest looked at... she's shit out of luck. I don't want birds to shit on my car either but as James Brown sung, it's a bird's, bird's, bird's world.

So long as it isn't creepy staring in the workplace or any like situation where action can be taken there's nothing to be done. And if it makes any man or woman anything worse than a bit uncomfortable to be 'gawked' at, I really have to wonder what's up with that person's skin. Being looked at isn't staring isn't lusting isn't hiring/firing/paying/treating/molesting based on appearance.

Not that there's something "wrong" with what I'm basically describing as overreacting, and of course I can't judge something as a woman as I'm a man, but it seems more like a complaint gateway for more serious, legitimate gender issues (eg. it brings up feelings of gender mistreatment and is a common annoyance/gripe/etc so it commonly brings up said feelings whilst being something easy for women to identify with and men to acknowledge) which is a common mechanism for exploited groups / minorities / or really any type of advocacy.
posted by rob paxon at 10:51 PM on January 23, 2008


We are also apparently the only primates who indulge in face-to-face sex; the rest do it doggie-style.

Nope. Bonobos do, too. They do pretty much everything humans do, even French kiss. I wouldn't be too surprised if some of them were surfing the 'net looking at fetish sites right now.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 10:52 PM on January 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


I wish I could unread posts. My chest actually just leapt inward in horror and it's going to be a bitch getting it to pop back out again.
posted by lemuria at 10:53 PM on January 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


In fact, now that I think about it, I'm feeling like I must be hideous. Because I seriously, never get gawked at. Or whistled at or harrassed. I did get asked out for dates a lot when I worked in a donut shop, but only very politely. And I do have DD breasts - I just checked the label on my bra. I even have new bras, that are ever so much more flattering than the old ones. (Though DD is actually smaller than you would think, proportional to the body, if you are an average sized woman (sizes 12-14).

Sometimes I have to think that either I am hideous (my mirror suggests otherwise), or I don't notice any gawking (possibly), and also that when people get gawked at, that's all they remember. It could be like a blue moon effect - a construction worker whistles one time, and they forget the 10 other construction workers who didn't whistle, who didn't even notice them because they are too busy constructing things. If construction workers whistled at women as often as people tell me they do (again, I have only other people's claims on this), I can't imagine that anything would ever get built.
posted by jb at 10:54 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:56 PM on January 23, 2008


Though DD is actually smaller than you would think, proportional to the body, if you are an average sized woman (sizes 12-14)

You mean an average sized American woman.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:56 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think there is a little something to the "It can't be helped" argument. Some years ago I was in a restaurant and a group of about a half dozen young women came in and grabbed a table right in the middle of my field of vision, about 12 feet or so away. The one that was sitting at the side of the table more or less facing me had a large facial scar. It was probably a burn, and somewhat recent, looked like it had a little texture to it if you know what I mean. If I remember right it covered up most of one cheek. When I saw her I immediately recognized how difficult it was for her to be in public and present that to the world, and while I wasn't interacting with her I didn't want to be some asshole staring and conveying the message that she wasn't like the rest of us. My eyes were drawn to that scar like a magnet, over and over. Now this isn't the same deal but there is something to be said for our eyes being almost automatically attracted to difference. We sort through the visual field and in an other than conscious way designate some of it background and some of it foreground. For a lot of men (most?) one of the things we sort through that field for are women with attractive figures. That isn't to say it's insurmountable, just that I understand where that claim is coming from, and it doesn't deserve scorn. Especially when the person is interested in changing that tendency.

"I want to dress attractively, but anyone that looks at me with anything other than professional thoughts is a SICK PERVERT" gets tiring.

Indeed.

You don't have the right to stare, or comment on, or appreciate, or disapprove of them. These are your coworkers and you have to respect them and their feelings.

Says who? You have zero authority and you're making pronouncements on what you're entitled to. Do you really think that's going to win anybody over? You don't have the right to be treated however you like nor do you have the right to dictate other's behavior. An emphasis on rights elevates the individual claiming them, and when there's no political ground for the claim, it's more than a little off putting. Perhaps I'm just a nitpicker but I think you have a better case in talking about duty. As in, if you agree with the claim that each person is worthy of respect and compassion then that entails certain duties in how you interact. One way of thinking about it leads to entitlement, victim thinking and flights of fantasy (I Have a Right to Education! a Right to Healthcare! a Right to a High Paying Job!), the other doesn't.

No right to look? But we do. What you want is courtesy, and that isn't demanded, it's asked for. I have no doubt that rankles given that women face considerably more hardship in their life when courtesy isn't given. Some things can't be made equal.

What you're not getting is that we can't walk down the street, go to work, walk the mall, get on MeFi without someone ogling our junk! It's frustrating and you seem to have the attitude that that's just too damn bad. Well you know what? Easy for you to say.

Yes. It is too damn bad and it is easy for me to say. And that doesn't change anything. It is what it is. It may motivate me to be polite but it doesn't give you license to control someone's eyes like a pimp does to a whore.

I wish some of the posters here would have a bit of compassion for the inherent difficulties that come with being female in a professional environment, where being a woman means being gendered in a way that men are usually not, and always and inevitably having ones' appearance be an issue. I think it might help the well-intentioned OP to remind himself that he wants to be both a good colleague and a mensch, that his co-workers who happen to have breasts were hired for the same skills and abilities that he was, and that they deserve to have their words and thoughts be given his full attention as if and because they are his equals.

Completely agree. It's compassion that generates new behavior the easiest. Trying to obey some made-up rule "Oh, I mustn't... I'm not supposed to..." just brings tension.

-----
Ron Paul will also legalize the IMG tag.

Sweet!
posted by BigSky at 10:58 PM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


BECAUSE AMERICAN WOMEN ARE FAT! It's not sexist if you throw another qualifier in there.
posted by rob paxon at 10:59 PM on January 23, 2008


they start as ovoid when you palpate them up from the base, as i do, and finish off as incredibly rounded heavenly mounds demanding that my hand gently map and explore them, brushing the erectile nipples with the slightest touch for maximum effect.

Speaking of unreading, if I had a time machine, this would be one of my very first stops.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:59 PM on January 23, 2008 [10 favorites]


shudder
posted by lemuria at 11:02 PM on January 23, 2008


gag
posted by MaryDellamorte at 11:03 PM on January 23, 2008


I completely missed that comment. Someone has a promising future in fanfiction.
posted by casarkos at 11:04 PM on January 23, 2008


god why can't I scrub it from my mind

I just ate a bowl of nachos and they're returning
posted by lemuria at 11:04 PM on January 23, 2008


But since it offended someone and then communism kicked in and got my comments deleted, I feel the need to say something about it.

Aw, heck, honey, that was straight-up fascism. While I'm sure your comments got flagged a bunch, I didn't have to check the queue once I saw all the action on that thread; I could tell all on my lonesome that that shit needed to go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:06 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


No right to look? But we do. What you want is courtesy, and that isn't demanded, it's asked for. I have no doubt that rankles given that women face considerably more hardship in their life when courtesy isn't given. Some things can't be made equal.

Fine post. I get the feeling like a lot of people on "the looker" side of this debate are going to be thought of by "the other side" as assholes/etc, but I believe most of us are simply trying to establish that this issue involves exposed breasts and eyes that see them, balancing visual triggers of that which is desired and tact, feeling uncomfortable and feeling uncomfortable about making others feel uncomfortable, what is allowed and what is polite. I don't wish to treat women based on appearance but then again based on appearance I want to sleep with some of them. I'm definitely not a gawker but I will look, unabashed and unapologetic, with no desire to make uncomfortable or mistreat. Hell, I wouldn't even want a woman's ego to inflate thinking I like what I see. I have a right to act polite and with respect or to not. It is my choice to treat people how I feel is right. If it wasn't, than there would be nothing to being a good person.
posted by rob paxon at 11:09 PM on January 23, 2008


It's not being humorless, PC-patrol thought police to ask that you not act like jerks regarding women's bodies. You don't have the right to stare, or comment on, or appreciate, or disapprove of them.

Holy shit, but I just saw this quoted. "We're not thought police. You don't have the right to think these certain thoughts."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:09 PM on January 23, 2008


I keep clicking on the favorites. Like. Did they actually think that was... appealing? With the palpating of the ovoids? What the hell?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:10 PM on January 23, 2008


"We're not thought police. You don't have the right to think these certain thoughts."

These aren't the droids you're looking for.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:13 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Q: What do you call a one-eyed african-american with aids who became the first president to deliver a baby on the moon?

A: A gentleman and a scholar
posted by rob paxon at 11:16 PM on January 23, 2008


rob paxon, you keep saying that someone wants to berate men for just looking at a woman's chest but not staring, and then you say "looking is fine but staring is not fine". Yes. I think the scenario most people here have in mind is a quick look, and then moving the eyes so that one is not staring. A brief look. A non-lingering look. Look, then look away. I don't think there's anybody here saying "you must never even look at a chest in the first place". I think everybody's on board with the thing you're passionately advocating, and pretty much has been from the start. People get to look at each other's bods, then they stop it and look at each other's faces if they're co-workers.

bruce, you know, yuck.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:21 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


The other night at work I was so bored I searched for the words "flame out" in old threads just to have something to read. Now I get one night off and go see a movie, and lookit what y'all did.

Big buncha jerks.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:26 PM on January 23, 2008


Ovoid at all cost.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am late to the party, but I guess I would like to say a couple of things.

One, I have large breasts. Thus, I have experienced the annoyance, frustration, and oftentimes being-completely-fucking-creeped-out that comes from dudes staring at your breasts. It can be a very terrible, humiliating experience to have your teacher, or your boss, or your coworker comment on how nice your shirt looks while staring directly at your chest. You know it's not the shirt, it's not your fashion sense, it's those tits they like. Guys--straight guys--would you like it if when gay men talked to you they spoke to your crotch? If groups of them yelled about it when you walked down the street, and sometimes followed you, no matter how baggy the pants you were wearing (and God forbid you wear something you think your girlfriend would like)? Would that make you feel safe and appreciated as a human being?

Two, with regard to revealing clothing, it is not just low-cut tops that cause boob-staring. So do turtleneck sweaters, and hooded sweatshirts, and even dressing in a chest-mashing sports bra, a grubby man's t-shirt, ill-fitted blue jeans and hiking boots while working in a community garden. You name the outfit, and if I have worn it people have looked at my boobs. Just yesterday I was yelled at because the heavy chin-height wool coat and hooded sweatshirt I was wearing underneath it were apparently not modest enough for Random Male X. This isn't about modesty or flirtation. Unless I am planning on wearing a Frog Bra and a drag king's chest binder every day of my life, the existence of the boobs will be known in one way or another. It is unavoidable. So all I ask, all I ask really, is that guys not be dicks about it and treat me like a person, instead of a set of boobs with a body and orifices attached.

Finally, I like women in the dating and marrying way. And I fucking love boobs. They are pretty much my favorite part of the female form. I don't mean this in a "TEE HEE BOOBIES WATCH ME MAKE OUT WITH THIS CHICK" way, but just to say, yeah, I understand where guys are coming from, because I experience the reaction on a pretty visceral level and I know what some of you are talking about when you say it feels primal. But you know, I try my damnedest to not make excuses based on this and give myself permission to stare at boobs because I am programmed to like them. Because I know, from experience, that it sucks to be on the receiving end. And having someone give me some long genetic bullshit explanation for why they have to look at my tits would piss me off. I mean, consider that when I get mad my immediate, instinctual reaction is to curse and punch whatever is making me mad. However, due to social norms and common decency I don't do this. Why should it be different for boobs? If it is OK to suppress the instinct to steal, and murder, and rape, and basically engage in the nastier, brutish parts of nature, why is looking at boobs any different when the action causes the owner of the boobs extreme discomfort and upsets the social balance?
posted by schroedinger at 11:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [55 favorites]


God, can you imagine what these discussions are like at nudist camps?

On the plus side, they get to have them while playing volleyball.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:31 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ovoid [reading Bruce's comment] at all cost.

/in case that wasn't clear
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:35 PM on January 23, 2008


It's not an entire loss as a thread; communism's kicked in, and Christ knows I've waited long enough for this day.
posted by Abiezer at 11:37 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


29: Anyway, my point is, to avoid a crime, you have to remove the temptation of such crime. If you feel the shirt you are wearing is too revealing, it probably is. If you feel your skirt is too short, it probably is. Check yourself before you expose yourself.

You're joking, right? This is a big joke, no? Please tell me that there was a big fat sarcasm tag affixed to that statement. Tell me you're a troll. Tell me you're a griefer launched at MetaFilter from the grimmest bowels of 4chan. Because what you're saying is that males can't help themselves around females whose dress is "too revealing" (who would be the judge of that, by the way?) and therefore anything a male does to the female is the female's own fault. You've reworded the old saw of "it was her own damn fault for dressing like a skank."

If you mean what you wrote sincerely may I kindly request that in the future you take a dump on your keyboard instead of shitting in threads.
posted by Kattullus at 11:41 PM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


Creepsville, Oregon. Population: bruce.
posted by oaf at 11:42 PM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


I don't think there's anybody here saying "you must never even look at a chest in the first place". I think everybody's on board with the thing you're passionately advocating, and pretty much has been from the start. People get to look at each other's bods, then they stop it and look at each other's faces if they're co-workers.

I've been over this already, with you I believe, but I'm not strictly referring to "look... realize you're looking.. look away." It's about attitude, taboo, tact, and all of the other things I've been talking about (which you just compressed into one placid notion) and not an eye timer. "Staring", in of itself, isn't "fine" or "not fine"; I don't want to repeat everything in the same contexts again and again, but it's a matter of what's polite/acceptable--in the work place, a matter of what's allowed--and the lines therein. It's a dynamic. What is staring or gawking--or even looking--are issues of semantics and bias, and none of these words form the true basis of this discussion's bulk.

That oversimplification is not reflective of what my participation in this thread has been about. If it were I'd just go out and hang myself. While most of the participators of this admittedly thin (relative to attention given, chiefly by myself) thread see eye-to-eye or at least eye-to-tit on most of the major issues therein, there are some don't; they stick out with their ridiculousness and it provokes response.
posted by rob paxon at 11:47 PM on January 23, 2008


It's a dangerous game to comment on another user's appearance, especially in a thread like this, but I just wanted to say to schroedinger that the disconnect between your wonderful comment and your profile pic made me smile. And smiles in this thread have been hard to come by.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:49 PM on January 23, 2008


It was round and soft.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:50 PM on January 23, 2008


"Staring", in of itself, isn't "fine" or "not fine"
"It's rude to stare" was one of the maxims drilled into me as a kid.
posted by Abiezer at 11:54 PM on January 23, 2008


"Palpate" is pretty much the most unsexy, clinical word in the universe. Palpate is what you do to look for lumps in tissue. I mean, it goes beyond that, but that's the first thing that comes to mind.

Also: in general, this thread is fuck. I often enjoy the fiery character of MeTa, but this thread is just making me sigh a lot.

I'm not going to sort out who's right and who's wrong, but my goodness, there are some pretty thick-headed dudes in here.

There are also a few really intelligent, thoughtful, and sympathetic ones here as well, and we all know who they are.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:16 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


rob paxon, I was a bit short (responding to something you said well above) because I felt as if you have been taking basically reasonable things people have said and then getting "rules-lawyerish" on them.

For example, someone said "you don't have the right to stare at my body and make comments" and you said "yes I do have that right". Well, ok, you aren't legally prohibited. That's certainly true. But saying "you don't have the right" in this context is not about legal rights. It's a way of resisting the implicit background idea that women exist to be looked at, that part of being a woman is being available for viewing and being subject to evaluation -- resisting the flip side of that, the idea that men are entitled to sexual access to women, especially in the form of sexually evaluating women's appearance (in a context where women's appearance is taken to be deeply defining of their worth). So it's like saying "I reject the idea that men have a special right (in virtue of being men) to sexually evaluate my looks". Or, that's how I took it.

So: Of course you can put your eyes wherever you like; your legal right to do that is not what's at issue. But you've said you don't want to make women uncomfortable, and you recognize that there's a social norm that bars prolonged looking at the chest of a woman you're conversing with. But then you make a big point of asserting your legal right to stare or ogle or make people uncomfortable. Okay, fair enough, but I don't see why you're bothering to argue for that. Yes, people are free to be assholes. The original poster was seeking not to be one, you seem not to want to be one, only maybe one or two people in these threads seem to be suggesting that men should just look as much as they like and damn the consequences.

I guess it's that I don't really see what you've been trying to get across. You seem very eager to jump on some things that get said (I have mentioned a couple that seem like misinterpretations, or technicalities of language), but it doesn't seem like you want to propose something much different from "be reasonable, look but don't look for too long lest you make your conversational partner uncomfortable, maybe in this case the co-worker is acting inappropriately" or whatever. So I don't get your eagerness - the enthusiasm is as if you have some strong position and want to attack people who are opposing it, but I don't see what the position is.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:16 AM on January 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


It's sort of astonishing that the least depressing aspect of this thread turned out to be jonmc's dreary, lumpen bleating.
posted by Skot at 12:26 AM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


For example, someone said "you don't have the right to stare at my body and make comments" and you said "yes I do have that right". Well, ok, you aren't legally prohibited. That's certainly true. But saying "you don't have the right" in this context is not about legal rights.

She said we don't have the right to look at her body OR make comments, among other things, in fact. And that was wrong. Wrong meaning incorrect and wrong meaning "wrong". And it isn't just legally wrong, it is wrong in every possible sense. It's also incredibly condescending and I was not narrowly parsing it in some legal sense. I was responding to it as I would someone who says that the air is their to breathe. This is backed by the fact a half dozen people pointed out how ridiculous that particular comment was.

About making comments... no one has said anything about commenting on (breasts etc) in this whole thread, except for the particular comment you're referring to... which simply had that on a long list of things we apparently aren't allowed to do. So that is not what I or anyone else responded to and there's no reason for you to be focusing on it now. Gay men talking to me about my package has nothing to do with looking/staring. And no, I would not feel uncomfortable if a man or woman stared at me. If I did, that's my problem.

What you're saying about "legal rights" just isn't in line with what I've been talking about. Unless specified, I don't get why you think my use of the word implies legal when you assume what I'm responding to does not imply the same. Generally speaking, I use the word right the same as anyone else generally does. Specifically here I've been talking as much about "social" rights as "legal" rights, so I really don't understand your conclusion. Saying "You don't have the right to ____" doesn't mean "I don't want you to" or "I won't accept you doing ____" regardless of the absolutism attempted in the language. So the person who said that and anyone who spouts off in kind should learn how to hold a sensible view and then express it rationally and with respect for the intellect of others. And when I respond "No, I do have the right", it is because I do. In every sense possible. Making a long chain of justification and empowerment provided by making such a silly declaration doesn't change that. I won't even get into the fallacy of pseudo-liberated drivel that followed.

I'm not attacking anyone. I have no singular message to get across like I'm Jesus 2.0, I'm partaking in a fluid conversation that has been jumping between nuances and subtexts. I don't know why you're looking to pacify me but I assure you I don't need to be set right, calmed down, or understood in my vastly important motivations. As far as what I'm "proposing"... in general, nothing (though I'm sure I've made propositions in the context of some comments). I don't presume to tell someone who isn't out of line how to act and this isn't the AskMe thread. Ergo, I'm not here to answer the AskMe question. We're discussing things and, again, my "point" is fluid to whichever comment interested me to the point of then responding. Several times now you've made an effort to streamline me like I'm a sprawling brochure and you want to know what island I'm beckoning you to... I don't really get it. It's fairly irritating and I rarely find myself irritated in this setting. Especially your last sentence which really doesn't make a lick of sense to me, considering the entirety of this thread.
posted by rob paxon at 12:53 AM on January 24, 2008


schroedinger writes "It can be a very terrible, humiliating experience to have your teacher, or your boss, or your coworker comment on how nice your shirt looks while staring directly at your chest. You know it's not the shirt, it's not your fashion sense, it's those tits they like."

So your claircognizant? The attitude that men _only_ care about physical attributes has kept me from making an comment (approving or not) to anyone at the workplace for anything for the last 20 years. You never can tell when someone will misconstrue an innocent statement about their shoes as proof of podophilia or something. I don't comment on peoples appearance, kids, achievements, or anything else. Best just to avoid it 100% and be considered the quiet type that keeps to themselves.
posted by Mitheral at 1:05 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg writes "So what I've learned today is that if I was a woman of endowment, all I'd have to do is carefully maintain a wardrobe that fits into the narrow range between dowdy and dissolute, keep a constant eye out for malfunctions, keep a cardigan handy at all times, make sure I don't lean over too much, keep one arm over my chest if I have to lean over at all, and test all of this thoroughly under all lighting conditions before leaving the house."

And if you're a guy with a huge cock, you have to carefully maintain a wardrobe whose pants aren't too tight, keep a constant eye out for undone zippers, make sure you don't put your cock at eye level all the time, hold some papers in front of your package if eye-levelling is unavoidable, and avoid white or gauzy pants so that you don't have to test out lighting.

Honestly, it doesn't seem unreasonable.

cmgonzalez writes "Remind me why you consider a woman's breasts to be the equivalent of a man's testicles and not her ovaries (the true equivalent)?"

Because both testicles and breasts are pairs of external floppy things you aren't allowed to show in public? I mean, sure, I'd be bothered if a woman flopped her ovaries out of her shorts every day, but for totally different reasons than a guy flopping his testicles. Ovaries generally are internal organs.

cmgonzalez writes "Leaning over is not anywhere near the equivalent of a man deliberately putting his balls in some woman's face. That wouldn't be just a normal motion without extra thought, generally speaking."

Walking over to someone's desk when they're sitting down isn't a normal motion without extra thought? People in your office crawl by default?

craichead writes "We do. Just not that would fit me."

Ah, cool, an honest answer. Thanks.
posted by Bugbread at 1:50 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread will stop me from staring at breasts.
posted by telstar at 1:52 AM on January 24, 2008


Ubu implied that he had some awareness of The Gaze through Foucault, but of course different schools use the concept differently.

Foucauldian indeed; well spotted. I didn't realise we were talking about art history & film theory. They have a slightly longer bow to draw, I think, than sociology, in terms of relating texts back to actual social conditions & structures. Nevertheless, I understand that the methodologies are similar enough, in that both do - or should - examine the relationship between cultural artifacts & social structures. In doing so, you'd be exposed to all the familiar marxist, feminist, post-colonialist etc theories on how these things relate to society, and in particular, to power.

Having said that, what I've seen of Mulvey & feminist treatments of the gaze in art & film strikes me as quite disingenuously cherry-picked & loaded with confirmation bias. I could say the same about Foucault. They make for a nice (big M) Mythologies; fun little intellectual tools for analysis, but I think they stop a bit short of explaining away how things take place in the real world - an enterprise which would probably need to invoke experimental psychology much more heavily, for a start.

Consider LobsterMitten's claim:

Men think of women's value in terms of how the women look, and women think of their own value in terms of how they look to men. (This comes out of film theory, and the study of advertising and visual art -- so the core cases here are cases of how men and women are represented in film or photos or paintings, not cases of real women being ogled in person. The first stuff on this -- as I recall -- is about how film cameras are positioned from the point of view of male lovers, watching women undress, but there weren't corresponding woman's p-o-v shots back at the guy. So in effect the viewer was put in the position of the male character.)

On the face of it, it sounds common-sensical. You'd be inclined to agree with it more than disagree. The mention of film history adds an intellectuality to it, strengthening the argument. However, if you wonder about the actual processes at work, it becomes a massive hodge-podge of innuendo. Do those old photos & films reflect the actual thoughts of people (men) at the time, or did they contribute towards establishing a kind of genre, a visual vocabulary for how to depict women? Are they a cause or a symptom of gender relations? Have they distorted peoples' perceptions since? Are they still relevant today? And do they constitute a systematic sampling of all the cultural output of that period, or were they, in fact, cherry-picked to push an agenda? Are they even representative of all men, either of that period or of today?

All of this is glossed over in the stated connection between some old films & the assertion that "Men think of women's value in terms of how the women look, and women think of their own value in terms of how they look to men", which in itself is incredibly black & white, ignoring individual differences & differing contexts & purposes, and has a faint stench of historical inevitability & essentialism about it.

I'm also thinking that one could potentially make similar kinds of arguments about the relationship between violent video games & violence in society, such as the Columbine shootings, and people would be all "hey, you can't just say that without proving the causal relationship", but gaze theory has been belted out so consistently for so long, that a lot of people seem to think it describes an essential truth about culture, power, media & psychology, when in the end, it's just another tool among many for talking about texts. Treat it as more than that, and I think you'd need to start some serious explanation of the relationship between art & the human psyche, motivation & behaviour, rather than just throwing a whole bunch of related things together & hoping that they stick.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:32 AM on January 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


Right, so everyone who's changed their view passed on this thread raise your hands, please.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:38 AM on January 24, 2008


Ovoid [reading Bruce's comment] at all cost.

/in case that wasn't clear


No, it's not clear at all.

Why is the sheep going to any length to read Bruce's comment?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:39 AM on January 24, 2008


(oh, confused it with ovine)

nevertheless, why is the egg reading (etc)?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:40 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


whoops, passed=based. So early!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:48 AM on January 24, 2008


So, I don't have much in the way of boobs. I'm one of those girls that hopes and hopes that some guys believe that "anything more than a handful is a waste!" adage even though she knows that's highly unlikely. Anyway, I've always been fascinated by cleavage, probably because I never had any (seriously, most guys have more moobs than me) and I actually vividly remember the first time I took notice of someone else's. I was about eleven and it was Orientation Day at my new high school. I turned around to see a girl leaning down, the neck hole of her top hanging low to expose, well, her boobs. I couldn't turn away I was that entranced not to mention slightly enticed. I hadn't developed by that stage and I was more than a little jealous. Even now I'll still get a little bit stuck on that visual area when talking to someone but I'm respectful enough to look away in less than a second. The point is, guys, that I get the urge. But I was able to control that urge at 11. You're men, not boys, don't use "primal urges" as your excuse. At the end of the day it boils down to respect. If you respect the person you're talking to enough you won't stare at their cleavage/crotch and you won't expect them to wear a bloody habit so you won't get tempted. It's not that hard.
posted by liquorice at 2:49 AM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


Oh, shit. I kind of didn't intend to actually post that. Ha.
posted by liquorice at 2:51 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


You're men, not boys, don't use "primal urges" as your excuse. At the end of the day it boils down to respect.

This, coming from the self-proclaimed feminist who spouted the patronising, anti-masculist sentiment that "guys are easy to control, just flash your cleavage at them & they'll do anything you want"?!?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:54 AM on January 24, 2008


Dear lord, I was being sarcastic. I was mocking this belief that some (men and women) hold. Take me out the back and shoot me if I ever start indulging in fucked up generalisations like that.
posted by liquorice at 2:59 AM on January 24, 2008


I'm one of those girls that hopes and hopes that some guys believe that "anything more than a handful is a waste!" adage even though she knows that's highly unlikely.

You could always post an AskMe to find out. As "what is your taste in x?" AskMes consistently show, the world don't move to just one drum, what might be right for you, may not be right for some, so to speak.

My personal preference probably tends towards exactly a handful. I recall being physically repulsed, for example, by a girl who was probably like DD or E or something who was putting the moves on me, when other guys would probably have been in hog heaven. I just couldn't get the word "udders" out of my mind. Totally killed any hint of romantic feeling. Different strokes, and all that.

As somebody somewhere said, maybe even here, "no matter what it is you're selling, there's always somebody out there more than happy to buy".
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:11 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, Ubu, sometimes I wonder if I could love you more than I already do. And then I realise I could. A lot more. Like a lot. Copious amounts.

*hugs* because the note says everyone needs a hug.
posted by liquorice at 3:17 AM on January 24, 2008


poster: "I keep forgetting important appointments, how can I remember them?"
thehmsbeagle: "Just start remembering! I fail to see how this is a question for the ages."

poster: "How can I stop going out with jerks?"
thehmsbeagle: "Just stop dating those guys! I fail to see how this is a question for the ages."

poster: "I'm trying to cut down on my drinking, but how can I avoid it when everyone around me is boozing?"
thehmsbeagle: "Just stop drinking! I fail to see how this is a question for the ages."

AskMe isn't about asking monumental "questions for the ages." It's about getting helpful suggestions for real problems you have. If feel you have to be dismissive about the question, don't bother.

I agree there were some answers in that thread that should be deleted. thehmsbeagle's is one of them.
posted by grouse at 3:17 AM on January 24, 2008 [8 favorites]


liquorice - you forget: thou shalt not post drunk or fried
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:39 AM on January 24, 2008


Almost any issue on MeFi which brings up the word "right" gets my eyes rolling, regardless of which side says it.

Part of it is that I don't believe in absolute "rights". Rights come into existence when a law/rule/contract is made. Until then, it's not a "right", it's "something I believe should be a right".

The other part is that, linguistically, there's a tremendous amount of vagueness. "I have a right" is quite clear in meaning. "You don't have the right", however, is incredibly vague. It can mean "you can do it, but it isn't a right". It can also mean "you mustn't do it" (an anti-right, as it were). Unless it's made really explicit, it's really hard to tell what the speaker says when they say "you don't have the right".

I don't think men have a right to stare. And I don't think women have a right not to be stared at. There are no rights involved on either end.

Some folks may think I'm being pedantic and playing a semantics game. I'm not. I'm avoiding the semantics game other people are playing.

So, all that said, in a workplace, there are usually rights regarding this involved. Specifically, people have the right not to be made uncomfortable in a sexual manner. So, in this case, both of the parties involved seem to be infringing on the other's rights. The guy is probably making the woman uncomfortable by staring. The woman is making the guy uncomfortable by leaning.

MeFi generally doesn't do well with situations where either both parties are in the wrong, or both parties are in the right but in conflict. There's just an innate tendency to want to take sides and determine which party is right and which is wrong.

And, no, the use of the word "right" in that last sentence was not a pun.

Also, big thanks to LobsterMitten for writing a pretty brief yet cogent explanation of what the Male Gaze is. Much more useful than saying "there are a million papers on the internet about it; read one!"
posted by Bugbread at 4:27 AM on January 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


Part of it is that I don't believe in absolute "rights". Rights come into existence when a law/rule/contract is made. Until then, it's not a "right", it's "something I believe should be a right".

About the only thing of true value that i took from my law degree:

"there are no rights without obligations"

Rights don't require contracts, but if somebody asserts a right, they should also define their obligations, or know that they are subject to them.

eg: "I have a right to own a gun"

(yes, but with an obligation not to leave it loaded if there are kids around, not to wave it about when drunk, not to pull it out in a neighbourhood dispute, etc etc)

Westerners, in my observation, are obsessed with rights, but vehemently oppose obligations. The "right" to look down somebody's top, as these threads have shown, carries with it a corresponding obligation not to cause offence, ie: don't do it, or, at worst, have a quick discreet glance (perhaps unintentional) but don't stare like some drooling neanderthal. The latter part is the obligation. It's not possible to dismiss it, and convert & elevate it into some sort of "right". That is the exact opposite of how the system works.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:44 AM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


Heck even if I wear baggy clothes people find it appropriate to talk about my ass even in MeTa. Which is sort of friendly-jokey I guess, but sort of not, you know?

I had no clue, and wish I had been told some other way than being called out in this thread (and alerted by someone who reads this site more than I). I have done what I can to correct this. I am very sorry, jessamyn.
posted by terrapin at 5:53 AM on January 24, 2008


Just a tip: if somebody makes the argument that evolutionary psychology is nonsense, suggesting that their problem is that they haven't read enough Desmond Morris is probably not the solution. If you're going to read that crap, at least read something written after, say 1970 (The Naked Ape is copyright 1967. Seriously). Science does advance and stupid ideas do get discredited.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:05 AM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


What saddens me more is the fact that any guy should even have to ask this kind of question. I think the whole thread and half of the comments are ridiculous. The idea that as men we're supposed to be ashamed and embarrassed if we peek at an attractive woman is silly to me. There's a huge difference between looking at someone attractive and leering & gawking like a complete jackass.

The feminist vs 'average guy' arguing isn't going to solve anything either.
posted by drstein at 6:16 AM on January 24, 2008


Just a tip: If you are going to dismiss someone's reference as 'stupid', please recommend something that explains why it's wrong.

You must be right about Morris, I mean Einstein wrote stuff in 1905, it must be wrong too. That Darwin guy and Newton and Leibntiz, they wrote hundreds of years ago, and must be full of crap. Everyone knows that any idea older than 40 years must be wrong...

So now that you've taken your passive-aggressive jab, now try to defend your position rather than going after me as a misdirection.
posted by Argyle at 6:35 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. There are really adult men here who are claiming they can't control where their eyes go.

Wow.
posted by mediareport at 6:39 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Einstien's and Darwin's ideas have not been frozen in amber, perfectly realized since the day of creation; they have also undergone the scientific process of testing and modification and refinement over decades. If a modern-day evolutionary theorist read only Darwin and stopped his or her education there, they'd be unemployable and hopelessly ill informed.
posted by Miko at 6:42 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


So, I don't have much in the way of boobs. I'm one of those girls that hopes and hopes that some guys believe that "anything more than a handful is a waste!" adage even though she knows that's highly unlikely.

I think you need to give guys more credit than this. It's like the equivalent of a guy saying that he thinks all girls only want guys with big checking accounts.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:51 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ok, let me rebut the Desmond Morris advice a little -- sociobiology is a discipline fraught with interpretation errors. Even Darwin is guilty of some interpretation error, as in a passage of his journal when he is looking at an obviously negroid Egyptian sarcophagus and describing it as if it is white (I read this passage, and a scholarly analysis of it somewhere, can't remember where) because of a preconceived notion that Egyptian pharaohs MUST be caucasian.

More recently, we see some of Morris's observations being rebutted by female sociobiologists. One of the classic examples was that it was thought, among certain types of primates, that one male had a harem of females. It took fresh eyes -- of female sociobiologists -- to note that the reason that there was only one male was because the FEMALES of the group were driving other males away. So, the "harem" interpretation wasn't really accurate -- it was the male, not the females, that were "kept".
posted by lleachie at 6:59 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


So your claircognizant? The attitude that men _only_ care about physical attributes has kept me from making an comment (approving or not) to anyone at the workplace for anything for the last 20 years.

You know Mithereal, you are absolutely right. The day I dared to wear a sweater--turtleneck, by the way--to a community center and at least five older men expressed their appreciation by staring directly at my chest and telling me how nice that shirt was and how mature I looked, wherein past conversations they had talked to me, not my chest, well, I am just making assumptions that they were admiring my breasts! How conceited of me! How abusive!

I'm with LobsterMitten. I don't understand why UbuRovias and rob paxon are making such a big deal about women saying "Please don't stare at our boobs. It makes us uncomfortable." Focault? Really? Really? You're so invested in your "right" to leer that you're turning this thread into a philosophical discussion?

Just please, at least clarify this for me: Are you guys actually defending the practice of addressing a woman's sexual body parts instead of her face when you're speaking to her, arguing that it's tough cookies if this makes women uncomfortable because it's natural for men to do so? Or are you in the "Look, blatant staring is not OK, but sometimes people sneak a quick glance and that can be unavoidable."

Also, no straight guy here has really addressed my gay male analogy. Seriously. If you are a straight male, and a gay man who is taller and obviously more physically powerful than you looks at your crotch when he's talking to you, or harasses you about it when you walk down the street--sometimes even following you--would you be uncomfortable?
posted by schroedinger at 7:12 AM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


schroedinger ,

Sorry I missed that, but yep, I'd be uncomfortable.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:27 AM on January 24, 2008


Good points Miko & lleachie, I agree, Morris was not the last word in sociobiology. You are obviously better read on the topic than me.

My original attempt was to bring into this discussion the idea that our biology and evolutionary history plays a large role in human behavior, especially in regards to sexuality. I still feel that The Naked Ape is a good introductory book for this concept.

I reacted to the jab at me with a bit of hyperbole and the usual MeTa snarkiness, but stand by my original point that a discussion of human sexuality that tries to ignore human biological imperatives is not a well rounded discussion.
posted by Argyle at 7:27 AM on January 24, 2008


29 wrote:

If a female doesn't want her gazungas gawked at, maybe she shouldn't wear a revealing shirt. ... Anyway, my point is, to avoid a crime, you have to remove the temptation of such crime. If you feel the shirt you are wearing is too revealing, it probably is. If you feel your skirt is too short, it probably is. Check yourself before you expose yourself.


Are we reading the same AskMe question? Did a follow-up from the asker get deleted or something? 'Cause there's absolutely nothing in there about his colleague wearing an inappropriately revealing shirt. Nothing. You (and others) are adding that completely by yourselves. He describes the situation as:

So I'm sitting at a desk and a colleague bends down to talk to me. Huge pendelous breasts in front of me.

The only data are that she has (in his opinion) big breasts, and that she's leaning over. Maybe she has a bad bra, since they're "pendelous (sic)".

Her blouse could have a swooping neckline - as many women's blouses do - without showing any cleavage when she's standing up. It could be slightly but not overly loose, since wearing a skin-tight blouse would not really be comfortable or entirely office-appropriate. Combine this loose-ish blouse with the action of leaning over, and the seated guy has a straight eyeline down her cleavage without her wearing a "revealing shirt".

His situation is entirely plausible without her wearing hooker blouses that are only kept in place by either strategically placed double-sided tape or the traction and tension caused by her draft-hardened nipples. Assuming that she is doesn't help answer the question.
posted by CKmtl at 7:29 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thank you, CKmtl. I was going to make the same point.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:35 AM on January 24, 2008


MaryDellamorte: I think you need to give guys more credit than this.

I read that particular bit as being sarcastic.

schroedinger: Also, no straight guy here has really addressed my gay male analogy. Seriously. If you are a straight male, and a gay man who is taller and obviously more physically powerful than you looks at your crotch when he's talking to you, or harasses you about it when you walk down the street--sometimes even following you--would you be uncomfortable?

For some reason I set off many gay men's gaydar which means I've gotten used to getting hit on by men. I rarely find the experience uncomfortable, I just ignore it until it's over, but there have been times when it's been really awkward and made me squirm and get as far away as possible. To be fair, the same has happened when I've been hit on hard by women I didn't want hitting on me.
posted by Kattullus at 7:38 AM on January 24, 2008


I think you need to give guys more credit than this. It's like the equivalent of a guy saying that he thinks all girls only want guys with big checking accounts.

Oh, I think you can safely give us a little less credit than that, really. I've often heard it said tha t some guys prefer women with small breasts, but I've never, you know, actually met any. I doubt small breasts are a dealbreaker for most of us, but in terms of what you'd prefer? Come on. By the same token, I'm sure most women don't actually need a guy to be rich, but would they be pretty okay with it if he were? Survey says...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:38 AM on January 24, 2008


I just typed up an awesome comment that captured the essence of all perspectives and described a consensus viewpoint that would have earned the approval of all commenters in this thread and generated at least 75 favorites, but I accidentally deleted it.
posted by brain_drain at 7:44 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's not being humorless, PC-patrol thought police to ask that you not act like jerks regarding women's bodies. You don't have the right to stare, or comment on, or appreciate, or disapprove of them. These are your coworkers and you have to respect them and their feelings. How hard is that? We're your fellow users, and you have to respect us and our feelings. How hard is that? I have no desire to police your thoughts. I just care about MetaFilter remaining a non-hostile and respectful environment for its users.


A thousand favorites to SassHat.
posted by agregoli at 7:45 AM on January 24, 2008


a discussion of human sexuality that tries to ignore human biological imperatives is not a well rounded discussion.

Whatever anyone may believe about evolutionary biology, it's irrelevant when talking about social mores. Even if there is any truly essential sexual nature, it always expresses itself as behavior within a culture, and cultures have socialized sexuality very differently. What is acceptable in one culture may be reprehensible in another. We're discussing today the ways in which we'd like to see ogling in the workplace socialized. See the above argument about the urge to steal, hit somebody, or piss wherever you want - we suppress these urges in most cases because they are so socially damaging. So regardless of whether or not behaviors can be considered innate, they may not be welcome social behaviors.
posted by Miko at 7:46 AM on January 24, 2008 [14 favorites]


Eh, I got sidetracked answering schroedinger's question so I forgot to answer it. Yes, I would be uncomfortable if some guy stared at my crotch while talking to me.
posted by Kattullus at 7:50 AM on January 24, 2008


Guys prefer, as individuals, all sorts of kinds of breasts. I'd reckon that large breasts are more iconic, literally more totemic because they match the caricature of the womanly curve. Plus, Great Big Tits is a catchier image, a more obvious viva la difference than Great Small Tits; whether that fairly represents trained (or untrained) preference is an interesting question, but I wouldn't call it a slam-dunk, especially when you move away from media consumption and into actual human relations.

But even at that the fashion has swung like a pendulum over the years; Between fashion photography, mainstream porn and film stars, there's a pretty clear map of varying tastes and ideals.

So no, liquorice, I don't think you need to lie to yourself, even if it's not all guys who go for small chests. It's a big spectrum, out there, even if it may (does?) trend toward the larger side.

On the flip side, Mary, I don't think you're giving liquorice enough credit; I didn't read her as saying "guys only care about big tits", but as making a more personal and modest complaint about not feeling like she's topping out on one factor of male ideals.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:51 AM on January 24, 2008


Wow. There are really adult men here who are claiming they can't control where their eyes go.

I think that's missing the point, and also people are very clumsily (deliberately?) making a slightly different point. It's not that they can't control where their eyes go, as such, is that the control has to be massively increased and conscious the second they talk to a woman. When they are talking to a man, they don't control where their eyes go, because they don't need to. Because the man isn't going to go "Are you looking at my pecs? Treat me with respect!!!".

It is perfectly natural to glance at the person who is approaching you or talking to you. It is perfectly normal to take in what they are wearing. People simply do not constantly and perpetually stay locked on the eyes of those around them. No-one does that, and to suggest that you have to do that just because someone has tits is stupid. I would find it uncomfortable, from both sides, to have an entire conversation gazing into people's eyes, as I associate that with intimacy, so I think that advice is wrong for many people. In fact, anyone staring at any particular fixed point would strike me as weird. If it is perfectly ok for a man to look in the general direction of another man's torso in a professional environment, then it is ridiculous for women to demand constant and exclusive eye contact. Women say they want to be treated equally and in an equivalent manner. Well, in that case, don't start leaping at the 'Don't look at my tits!' defense instantly (there are, of course, occasions where it is warranted, but the number of actual cases far outnumbers the paranoia on both sides about it).

Because of this stigma, the very second a man looks (or a woman notices he looks) anywhere near her chest, the situation changes. All sorts of complications and associations and extra significance is attached to it. It stops being 'someone looking at me' and moves to 'He's looking at my tits'/'She'll think I am looking at her tits'.

This is why it becomes an issue. It is impossible for a lot of people to separate 'Looking at your torso' from 'THOSE ARE TITS'. Consequently, and particularly in a work environment, there is a significant pressure to 'not do something' that just makes everyone super conscious of doing it and creates an atmosphere. Under normal circumstances, just glancing above the waist of someone isn't an issue. The surrounding paranoia makes it a visual landmine.

I'm not sure that the problem (back to the OP) is as much 'I can't stop looking at her tits' as much as 'I'm incredibly self conscious because it feels to me that either she'll think I'm looking at her tits, or deliberately avoiding looking at here tits because I want to'. It's, as I said before, the stigma that is making him uncomfortable, not the tits.
posted by Brockles at 7:52 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


The day I dared to wear a sweater--turtleneck, by the way--to a community center and at least five older men expressed their appreciation by staring directly at my chest and telling me how nice that shirt was and how mature I looked, wherein past conversations they had talked to me, not my chest

So the fact that they were complementing you on an item of clothing, and indeed looking at that item of clothing at the time, instantly meant it HAD To be about you tits then? Thank you for proving my point that anywhere between the neck and waist on a woman is a minefield for a man to be seen facing.

I've often heard it said that some guys prefer women with small breasts, but I've never, you know, actually met any. I doubt small breasts are a dealbreaker for most of us, but in terms of what you'd prefer?

Consider one met. Right here. I'm no fan of large breasts and never have been.
posted by Brockles at 8:01 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


So...you...say!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:04 AM on January 24, 2008


a discussion of human sexuality that tries to ignore human biological imperatives is not a well rounded discussion

But a discussion of human sexuality that uses overly simplistic,understandings of "biological imperatives" isn't much better. You have to be careful whenever you start talking about "biological imperatives;" there's a long history of that concept carrying water for sexist crap in supposedly scientific circles.
posted by mediareport at 8:12 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen anyone saying you can't look at your coworkers or acquaintances, just that you should not stare. Staring is a different animal than looking.

As for the consequences of staring, I just started a new gym. For some stupid reason they have the elliptical machines up on a dais. When I am on the elliptical machine there is invariably at least one man who is in serious danger of falling off his machine while looking at the bodies of the women around me. Do you know what I think, whenever I look up idly from my television and see someone gawking? I don't think, 'oh, dear, that man cannot help ogling the women on these machines. How terrible it is that he is TRAPPED by his biology!'

No, I think, 'Check out subhuman doofus over there! What a pathetic lowlife with no social skills!'

So if you want many of the women you encounter to think of you as a Morlock escaped from your subterranean abode, please feel free to stare with your mouth hanging open. If you'd rather have your female acquaintances think of you as a person and not a boy trapped at age fourteen, try to look at women's faces when they're talking to or interacting with you. Trust me, in most cases women can tell the difference between being looked at and being stared at. Women have a lifelong experience with being the object of scrutiny.
posted by winna at 8:25 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow. There are really adult men here who are claiming they can't control where their eyes go.

No idea if you are speaking about specific posters, but it's important to keep in mind that there are many ages of people here, and by no means are they all adults.
posted by agregoli at 8:29 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


schroedinger writes "Also, no straight guy here has really addressed my gay male analogy. Seriously. If you are a straight male, and a gay man who is taller and obviously more physically powerful than you looks at your crotch when he's talking to you, or harasses you about it when you walk down the street--sometimes even following you--would you be uncomfortable?"

I'd be uncomfortable with the following me down the street part, but I'd be uncomfortable with someone following me down the street even without the package staring. I wouldn't be uncomfortable with the looking at the crotch part. I'd feel uncomfortable with the harassing part, because that's part of the meaning of "harass", right? Like asking someone "would it hurt if someone put you in pain"?

None of this is meant to reflect on how women do or should or shouldn't feel, but since you wanted a serious answer from a straight guy, there you go.

kittens for breakfast writes "I've often heard it said tha t some guys prefer women with small breasts, but I've never, you know, actually met any. I doubt small breasts are a dealbreaker for most of us, but in terms of what you'd prefer? Come on."

I've known two guys who preferred extremely small breasts. Not just "accepted", but "preferred". No pedophilic tendencies, either, as far as I know. Just flat-chest fans.

winna writes "So if you want many of the women you encounter to think of you as a Morlock escaped from your subterranean abode, please feel free to stare with your mouth hanging open."

My impression is that most of the people who stare with their mouths open don't mind being considered as a Morlock escaped from their subterranean abode. Many are even probably proud of that. What I hear most women saying (and I agree), is not "So if you want many of the women you encounter to think of you as a Morlock escaped from your subterranean abode, please feel free to stare with your mouth hanging open", but "Even if you want many of the women you encounter to think of you as a Morlock escaped from your subterranean abode, please stop staring with your mouth hanging open".
posted by Bugbread at 8:41 AM on January 24, 2008


I read old books all the time. I even went to the Old Books College. But I also understand that science never stands still, and so, in my scientific work, I do not rely on 40 year old sources.

If you want to actually learn about the advances in primatology in the past 40 years, there are many places to turn. Many new understandings of the interactions between males and females came about as a result of the Amboseli Baboon Project--science was greatly advanced by these researchers deciding to actually observe what baboons do all day rather than just making a note every time there was sex or a fight and assuming those two activities explained all other behavior. I am not exaggerating this methodological change at all. And, as several people mentioned already in the thread, research on bonobos has raised a lot of questions about our previous conceptions of human/primate culture and sexuality.

Psychologist Susan Oyama's book Evolution's Eye is a pretty fascinating rethinking of the nature/nurture debate: her conception is that it's impossible to separate genes from development from environment from culture because all four are at work from the moment two cells divide.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:46 AM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


When it is OK to ogle boobies:

1. When they belong my partner.
2. When I am in a titty bar paying for the privilege.
3. When they are depicted for that purpose in art and pornography.

When it is not OK to ogle boobies:

1. All other times.

I'll leave the analysis of the male gaze to others, but it seems significant to me that a deliberately averted gaze is still a psychosexual power play on some level.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:46 AM on January 24, 2008 [8 favorites]


I may have missed this above and forgive me if so, but....

As much as people complain when men jump right into AskMes about women's bodies or bodily functions or sexuality, why is that complaint not being levied against the women who jumped into this AskMe with their opinions?

It wasn't (IMO) a question for straight women to answer, really, more for men who are attracted to women. If it's uncool for men to spout off about our periods or hormones or experiences, I think it's pretty inappropriate for us to spout off about stuff that's pretty much exclusive to them.
posted by tristeza at 8:48 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I just don't feel any need to oogle breasts now that the internet has been created.

That's just sad. There's a whole generation of young men who can't get get "excited" by real women because they're so used to seeing large, hard, exaggerated fake breasts in porn.
posted by HotPatatta at 8:48 AM on January 24, 2008


Or are you in the "Look, blatant staring is not OK, but sometimes people sneak a quick glance and that can be unavoidable."

Yes. And it took over 400 comments to get there apparently.

There are so, so many things wrong in this thread. I want to say so many things, but I only have 10 minutes, not an hour and a half.

I read most of the thread last night just shaking my head.

I think what this thread tells me is something much greater and deeper than the actual subject at hand.

I think this thread, along with many of the SEXISM! threads here lately, show that many men and many women, in general terms, are still leagues apart in how they view the world.

Seriously, it is shocking. It is greater than the misunderstandings across cultures, which to me quite amazingly, has not entered this discussion yet.

I don't think ANY man in this thread is saying "Yes, I'm going to stare at your chest anytime I want, and if you don't like it, go back to the kitchen". But yet that is all the women seem to be reading. Over and over and over.

Most men who work in office environments have been harped at for almost 2 decades now about not doing anything that might make a woman uncomfortable in the workplace. Note that this is not due to any great social movement, it is simply an effort to reduce the number of lawsuits.

Everyone knows that straight men like to look at attractive women. I hope to sweet bungee jumping Jesus we don't have to establish that as fact.

The problem is a woman enters your office, you feel compelled to shoot your eyes, laser-beam like, to her eye sockets. And sometimes, yes, we will grab a glance of your breasts, and feel uncomfortable and try to hide it. It is sometimes completely accidental, and then we remember the video in Human Resources and think about getting fired for the simple fact that we might have accidentally scanned across a woman's breasts.

There is a difference between glancing and leering. And I think for most women the actual occurrences of leering are pretty small. Most men are trying to do the right thing.

But, I'm going to let you in on a huge secret. If you are an attractive person, and you wear attractive clothes, there are going to be people of the opposite sex, and sometimes of the same sex (as demonstrated above) that find you attractive. I'm sorry, that's just the way of the world.

There is no practical way for me to turn off my "aesthetic appreciation" gene just because I am in a certain environment.

The bad part of this is that, because of opinions like those expressed here, it is practically impossible to express that.

I'm not trying to play any sort of "look how men are oppressed" card or anything of the sort. But understand, from a practical standpoint, a woman who walked past a man in the office and said "Hey Rick, nice suit" and ran her hand across the lapel would feel she crossed no line, and practically no observer would either. But reverse the roles, and it would be a lawsuit.

Again, noone is suggesting leering at a woman is okay.

But, I do wish we were in an environment that I could feel safe and comfortable expressing my appreciation for the way a woman dressed without, LITERALLY, fearing for my job and/or my reputation.

In simplest terms, I might say "I like your shoes" and just mean I like your shoes. The fact that some man, somewhere, once said "I like your shoes, they'd look good beside my bed" doesn't make me a pervert.

I realize women have it tough in the workplace and elsewhere. Believe me, I do know this. But, a little understanding the other way would certainly be welcome.

I'm not advocating going back to slapping girls on the ass in the steno pool, but can we not ever start from the position of someone NOT meaning offense? Instead of ALWAYS starting from the position of purposefully taking as much offense as possible?

I'm lucky in that I'm not obsessed with breasts, and that the parts of girls I like to look at are generally the parts they like to be looked at, like hair, eyes, lips, fingernails, etc. I've thus far never caused offense complimenting a girl on her nail polish.

It's funny. In real life, most women would consider me a strong ally, a reliable, safe, dependable friend and boss, who sticks up for them and their point of view regularly. I have many women friends and frankly often get along better with women than men.

On Metafilter, I'm repeatedly treated as a sexist pig.

And at the risk of getting labeled a pig again, licorice, I wouldn't worry about your breasts. Breast size does matter to a certain subset of men, just like any other preference/fetish/whatever. But to most men, the actual size is irrelevant. Please don't make your self esteem suffer over something that honestly most people don't care.

One last thing. I do not like, at all, the way people are treating bruce. I think he was actually trying to express a true appreciation and longing for female breasts, and the only response he got was horrified disgust.

I don't think he was trying to be disrespectful. But again, no chance of giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

If you are truly horrified that a man might want to fondle and lick some breasts (not necessarily yours, I might add), you're in for a very rude awakening.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:49 AM on January 24, 2008 [14 favorites]


If I wasn't okay with people other men out my package, I wouldn't wear this codpiece.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:54 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Other men checking out, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:54 AM on January 24, 2008


Hey guys! What's going on... in... here?
posted by shmegegge at 8:57 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hooray! I'm caught up in this thread now!
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:57 AM on January 24, 2008


I wonder, if the tables were turned, and the AskMe in question involved a woman who felt guilty about staring at a guy's butt, would we even have this trainwreck thread? In fact, would there even be enough guilt for a woman to feel the need to post an AskMe about it?

I don't need to be told that there are zillions of double standards in our culture that favor men over women, but I can't help but feel, when I see a woman here posting messages on Metachat about how she just swoons over the sight of a 19-year-old pop culture star's buttocks, but has absolutely no troubles decrying Metafilter as a boyzone.

In truth, I don't think there's anything wrong with admiring beauty anywhere I find it. It's only a problem when you are incapable of looking deeper than merely objectifying the person whose beauty you admire. And in a business setting, in these days of hair-trigger sexual harassment suits, you certainly have to behave accordingly.

But you can't expect to exorcise thousands of years of evolutionary hard coding by spouting a list of do's and don'ts, and expect us (men or women) to suppress all sexual urges.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:58 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why should it be different for boobs? If it is OK to suppress the instinct to steal, and murder, and rape, and basically engage in the nastier, brutish parts of nature, why is looking at boobs any different ...

No. No you d'int. I hope you didn't mean that the way it came off. Seriously. You didn't just equate looking at breasts with theft, rape, and murder?

For the record I have NEVER, and I suspect most men I know, have never had any natural "instinct" to rape, steal, or murder. We are sexually aggressive. Sure. Testosterone is powerful thing. But we are not demons that need to subpress these animal urges 24/7.

There is nothing wrong with looking at physical attributes you find sexually appealing. No matter what they are. Red hair. Lips. Asses. There is nothing wrong with this. Nothing.

I am sorry but looking at whichever sexual characteristics you find appealing is HARD wired. There may be a complicated set of environmental or societal triggers that inform your preferences to a physical attribute more than another, but you (if you are a normal sexual being) WILL find something about another human deeply sexually appealing, and when the hormones are triggered it is very hard to resist looking at that feature.

The problem is staring. GLARING. Is different. That is aggressive. That is animal code for: "You want to fight?" And there is also the timing of looking at a sexual feature in our western culture. We have artificially segregated where we can be overtly sexual from where we cannot. This has more to do with large scale economics and the fact we don't live in intimate tribal environments any longer. But our bilogy has not adapted.

Somebody mentioned something about tribal societies not sexualizing the breast as some evidence of certain sexual behaviors being non-hardwired. Wrong. Nonsense. They STILL sexualize the human form every bit as much as we do in tribal societies. They are simply desensitized the form being NAKED since they see it all the time - but they still get aroused by what they perceive to attractive body forms - and big breasts are OFTEN considered attractive in tribal societies (helooo - full breasted arth mother cave paintings?). Getting aroused is hard wired. What arouses you may be informed. But there is no appreciable difference.

And tribal cultures are sexual all the time. They don't have office policies. They have rituals. But the sexuality in these cultures is far less schizophrenic than ours and much more natural. If I recall my anthropology courses some tribal cultures will fuck in the middle of eating dinner with he kids right there. They don't have the hang ups or taboos we have (or, rather, they have different ones). Though I would be cautious about romanticizing tribal sexuality.

Oh. And BTW. Speaking of tribes. "Sexual evaluation" of the physical form is not exclusive to males. It never has been. Never will be.

Men and women have EVERY right to "sexually evaluate" each other. I don't know what kind of fucked up world people want where this won't be the case but I hope I will neve live in it.

BTW. The way people are treating each other in this thread is just disgusting. So much for the new civil MeFi.
posted by tkchrist at 8:59 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Astro Zombie: Are you Larry Blackmon?
posted by Ynoxas at 9:00 AM on January 24, 2008


Dave Faris: I wonder, if the tables were turned, and the AskMe in question involved a woman who felt guilty about staring at a guy's butt, would we even have this trainwreck thread?

I generally try to avoid biological explanations for social mores but I think it's a generally accepted fact that pretty much every human being doesn't have eyes right above their glutes. The reason ass-staring doesn't raise as many hackles is that it takes a third person to notice the butt-learing.
posted by Kattullus at 9:04 AM on January 24, 2008


Nevertheless, isnt't the sexual objectifying tendency comparable?
posted by Dave Faris at 9:08 AM on January 24, 2008


Let's never use the word "objectifying" or "objectification" in this context again. It's like the Godwin of sexism arguments.
posted by tkchrist at 9:12 AM on January 24, 2008


So, as an undergraduate, I took a course called something like 17th and 18th century literature. It was one of the best courses I have ever taken, with an amazing professor. Anyway, in this course, everyone had to make a group presentation on some particular topic. I was put in the group on Mary Wollstonecraft. The professor told us that we should also look at Rousseau's treatise on education, Emile. Since I had slightly more of a background in philosophy than the other members of my group, it was decided that I'd be responsible for that part of the presentation.

Rousseau's Emile is a long book. I sat down with it over Easter Break, I cracked open the first page, and I started reading.

For a long time, I had no clue why I was reading it. It's a book in which Rousseau describes the perfect education by telling a bit of a narrative about how he would raise a hypothetical boy, named Emile. For somewhere around 300 pages, I had no clue what its relevance was. Did Wollstonecraft disagree with Rousseau's claims about bundling? Or maybe she took umbrage with his claim that a young lad ought to take ice cold baths even in the dead of winter? Because that's all that there was in those first 300-some pages -- practical advice about how Rousseau thought a boy ought to be raised, with cogent arguments to support his view.

And then, after those 300-some pages of young Emile's education, when Emile is finally old enough for Rousseau to turn to questions of marriage, we get to the last chapter of the book. This chapter is called "Sophie," and it is about how a wife ought to be raised.

Much of my understanding of feminism comes from having to read that chapter called "Sophie." Here, one of the most respected philosophers of a generation, one of the forefathers of talk of freedom and equality, one of the people whose name garners respect from just about everyone... Here, Rousseau, describes how a girl ought to be raised. One of the parts I remember best is when he describes how Sophie is willing to learn how to play the piano, because she likes how slender and beautiful her fingers look on the piano keys. The point of Sophie's existence was to look slender and beautiful, to be pleasant company, to smile so that men liked her. She didn't take to learning philosophy or mathematics, as did Emile, because her female mind was not made for rational thought. The best reward Rousseau claims Sophie can receive is for her father to tell her she looks pretty. Whereas her counterpart had 300 pages of advice about his upbringing, Sophie got only something like 75, and much of it was interspersed with advice on how to treat Emile when he meets her.

It was depressing. I, of course, knew the basics of the woman's movement. I knew that, long ago, women wore frilly dresses and did housework. I knew, as everyone does, that women had to fight to be accepted as equals. But I'd never encountered any actual theorizing about women from that time frame. It had never been made clear to me just how degraded and disrespected women were. Here, in "Sophie," was a brilliant individual, offering horrible, horrible insults about women, as if it were obvious, set into earth as natural law. It opened my eyes to how society used to function, and it made me aware of how some of those assumptions about women and "their place" are still lurking in our culture.

I'd suggest everyone who's in this heated debate read Emile. Don't just skip to the end, to see the offending passages about Sophie.. Read the entire book. Read those 300 pages of advice which, while sometimes contentious and sometimes just wrong, is well thought-out and reasoned. See how much care is taken to nurture Emile, to turn him into a functioning member of society whose fate is in his own hands.. And only then, after seeing Emile taken from a helpless infant into a grown adult, see how this great thinker of European culture then describes Sophie, and how she, as naturally inferior to the great Emile, must be bred to look pretty and smile pleasantly for him.

Rousseau is old, and I wouldn't think twice before suggesting everyone in this thread would disagree with his views on women. Our society has come along way since him. But he is the backdrop. He did not come up with these ideas from nothing, he is instead only expressing ideas that had been known to every thinker and layman before him for ages. He's where we've come from. He presents in "Sophie" beliefs that were completely obvious only a few centuries ago, that our culture accepted full-heartedly for ages, and which still, in our modern and enlightened age, raise their ugly head. If you don't know where we've come from, you don't know where we are now.

So, I suggest you all go read an outdated and obviously incorrect treatise about education. I don't care if you come to the same conclusions from it as I did, after reading it. I just think it might be a valuable experience. (And I'm assuming that none of you already have read it.. Because, really, it isn't exactly popular reading these days. I never would have heard of it, if not for that assignment.)
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:14 AM on January 24, 2008 [45 favorites]


If I wasn't okay with people other men checking out my package, I wouldn't wear this codpiece.

Don't be a boob.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:16 AM on January 24, 2008


But, I do wish we were in an environment that I could feel safe and comfortable expressing my appreciation for the way a woman dressed without, LITERALLY, fearing for my job and/or my reputation.

I think that it is sad that you feel so constrained. I am a man, and I feel quite comfortable saying "wow, your hair looks amazing -- what did you have done to it?" or "man, that skirt is really beautiful -- is that the one your sister brought back from Kenya?" to women I work with. (Yes, there are contexts in which any comment on anyone else's appearance is verboten, and there are sometimes good reasons for that.)

I am comfortable with this in large part because I know the times to not say those things. I don't tell someone how "mature" their shirt makes them look, because that is seriously gross behavior. (In fact, as a general rule using a comment on someone's clothes to covertly comment on their body is a pretty poor choice.) It's sort of the difference between "That is a beautiful shirt!" and "That shirt makes you look beautiful!" One is great is most situations, the other is ok in only very particular situations.
posted by Forktine at 9:17 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming that none of you already have read it.

Great comment. It's not uncommonly read, though -- it's often assigned in history/theory of education classes.
posted by Miko at 9:18 AM on January 24, 2008


Breast size does matter to a certain subset of men, just like any other preference/fetish/whatever. But to most men, the actual size is irrelevant.

All men are different, and I think the numbers that prefer giant, fake breasts are probably a subset of men. And breast size for most men certainly isn't a deal breaker, and maybe not that important. But irrelevant? No way.

Let a guy pick his perfect woman with the choice of beautiful A breasts or beautiful C breasts and I promise you'll find that your theory is nonsense.

And if women could choose the height of their man most would choose 6-2 over 5-6. Nothing wrong with that.
posted by gtr at 9:19 AM on January 24, 2008


Ynoxas: I don't think ANY man in this thread is saying "Yes, I'm going to stare at your chest anytime I want, and if you don't like it, go back to the kitchen".

Tthis callout's objection was to particular answers in the original AskMe thread, which displayed plenty of "I'm going to stare at your chest anytime I want." The most glaring examples of that have been deleted.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:21 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


And if women could choose the height of their man most would choose 6-2 over 5-6. Nothing wrong with that.

Huh? I find that just as mystifying as someone saying that men all love large breasts. I've met men who like breasts in many different sizes, and I've met women who love men of all different heights (me included - I don't like really tall men cause I'm 5'4" - don't like them towering over me).
posted by agregoli at 9:24 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, really? Sorry for my assumption then. I don't have any background in history or theory of education, so I didn't know.
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:24 AM on January 24, 2008


gtr: You're putting the cart before the horse.

If a man finds a beautiful woman who he clicks with, but she just happens to have an A cup, then the number of men who are going to pass over that woman solely because of having a smaller breast size is small.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:32 AM on January 24, 2008


tkchrist writes "For the record I have NEVER, and I suspect most men I know, have never had any natural 'instinct' to rape, steal, or murder. We are sexually aggressive. Sure. Testosterone is powerful thing. But we are not demons that need to subpress these animal urges 24/7."

I think part of that is just age of socialization, though. My son is two, and has a definite natural urge to steal and punch (though not murder). We're training him out of those natural urges now. The problem is that the sexual urges don't start until you're much older, when training stuff out is more difficult.

That said, training "leering" out is tough, because it concerns doing something you haven't been socialized against yet (looking) being done in a new way. "Rape", on the other hand, isn't really something that needs to be trained out for most people, because if you're socialized when young to not be violent, then when you reach sexual awakening, you've already been pretrained out of rape.

So, yeah, people have a natural instinct to do some bad things, but that's quashed before they reach adolescence. It's the urges that start at adolescence which require more conscious suppression.
posted by Bugbread at 9:36 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


gtr writes "Let a guy pick his perfect woman with the choice of beautiful A breasts or beautiful C breasts and I promise you'll find that your theory is nonsense. "

Let which guy? The average guy? Sure. All guys? No.
posted by Bugbread at 9:38 AM on January 24, 2008


when I see a woman here posting messages on Metachat about how she just swoons over the sight of a 19-year-old pop culture star's buttocks, but has absolutely no troubles decrying Metafilter as a boyzone.

Links or it didn't happen.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:42 AM on January 24, 2008


For the record, Dave Faris is talking about me, and I've already MeMailed him to not be a dick. Whether or not he's brave enough to respond, only time will tell.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:44 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


450 posts later, super late to the thread, and all I can say is... again with this?

TPS and hmsbeagle and a number of other users got upset about boyzone issues before and Number 1 agreed and so, over the course of well over 1,500 messages in two threads it was decided that there should be an (oddly named) "offensive/sexism/racism" flag. Some people hated it (OMG THOUGHT POLICE) some people felt it was needed (OMG BOYZONE/WHITEZONE); everyone got very heated and in the end the mods decided to implement it for "data collection".

It's been implemented now. It's not being used for "data collection"; it's being used for deletion, and in this case it appears most people think properly so -- I haven't seen the deleted content so I can't say. But the one thing it was supposed to prevent was threads like this. For goodness sake, hmsbeagle, YOU GOT YOUR OWN FLAG! Flag it and move on!
posted by The Bellman at 9:54 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Sorry. I was responding to TPS's memail. I really wasn't trying to embarrass her, and I was hoping not to make it personal, but it was such a great double standard, I couldn't resist using it. Here's the link.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:58 AM on January 24, 2008


It's really not the same thing, Dave, but I don't think you care. I think you just want to "win" by whatever means necessary, and you just did. Well, congratulations! Good for you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:00 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I didn't realise we were talking about art history & film theory.

Well, this is pointing once more to my stripes and slavish adherence to theories of representation, but many laypeople will find concepts critiquing mediated culture's socializing power more natural to understand (at least here in the states) than foucault's assault on institutional power, especially with regard to gender relations. I think the salient institution presently is media, so I'd assert that this concepts connect in a neat ouroboros.

However, if you wonder about the actual processes at work, it becomes a massive hodge-podge of innuendo. Do those old photos & films reflect the actual thoughts of people (men) at the time, or did they contribute towards establishing a kind of genre, a visual vocabulary for how to depict women?

I don't think you, or most people, give enough credit to the cognitive shaping abilities of the language of visual media, which is best represented through montage, but applies to still images as well. So, images do both, but the moment and the intent are lost, so of more currency is the visual vocabulary, yes, but not only regarding the HOW of depicting women, but the when, why and to what end. As a brief example, the physiognomy of media personalities or actors is used to convey meaning, and so btw fuck that mannequin Keira Knightley, but as in the Kuleshov Experiment, the meanings are malleable and dependent on countless contexts, within and outside of the film process. But this language is additive, so for every common text two people have seen, their likely agreement on the interpretation of visual information is increased. That way lies discussions of oppositional spectatorship, and I digress.

All of this is glossed over in the stated connection between some old films & the assertion that "Men think of women's value in terms of how the women look, and women think of their own value in terms of how they look to men", which in itself is incredibly black & white, ignoring individual differences & differing contexts & purposes, and has a faint stench of historical inevitability & essentialism about it.

I agree, and I don't like seeing "The Gaze" trotted out overmuch, and here, it seems merely convenient, though I understand its wonderful mind-opening resonance for many new minted feminists. However, just mentioning it doesn't convince opponents of its relevance to institutional power and media, and many people lean too heavily on its psychoanalytic points, for my taste. It's useful, I think, in its revival for Queer theory, which demonstrates succintly how it is an aspect of constructed masculinity, rather than merely a black and white feature of binary inter-gender relations, and sort of steers this topic back to the larger issue at hand: sexist power inequity, rather than theories of representation.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:01 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yes, Bellman. It's all me. If only I weren't so difficult, right?

No one else ever has a problem with anything.

Just me. (And the people who agree with me, but they're my secret second, third, fourth, etc. accounts.)

Don't worry! I have been adequately silenced, and months are sure to go by before I get uppity again.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:04 AM on January 24, 2008


We are also apparently the only primates who indulge in face-to-face sex; the rest do it doggie-style. For a rearward approach, the buttocks would be a primary sexual turn-on. There are theories that humans females' redundant, larger breasts serve to create an arousing buttock-substitute suitable for our idiosyncratic face-to-face sexual positions.

This is incorrect. Many of the higher primates have sex face to face. At least chimps and gorillas do. But don't let the facts get in the way of good Evolutionary Psychology excuses for bad male behavior.
posted by OmieWise at 10:11 AM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


But the one thing it was supposed to prevent was threads like this.

I certainly never got that was a goal with the implementation of the flag system. Cortex and matthowie both expressed interest in letting this be a continuing discussion as offensive speech comes up.
posted by agregoli at 10:11 AM on January 24, 2008


it was such a great double standard, I couldn't resist using it.

I like a juicy "gotcha" as much as the next person, but this one is pretty weak.
posted by brain_drain at 10:11 AM on January 24, 2008


It's been implemented now. It's not being used for "data collection"; it's being used for deletion, and in this case it appears most people think properly so -- I haven't seen the deleted content so I can't say. But the one thing it was supposed to prevent was threads like this. For goodness sake, hmsbeagle, YOU GOT YOUR OWN FLAG! Flag it and move on!

It's used the same way the "offensive" flag was before, but also to see if maybe there were a lot more comments that were annoying in that lazy-I'd-hit-it way than maybe we'd noticed before. It was NOT actually supposed to prevent threads like this, it was supposed to make a point that sexist stuff is no more okay than other offensive stuff and that it's okay to not like it here on MetaFilter. Whether or not that spurs deletions, Meta threads, tempbans or just a lot of back and forth about how lame/cool any particular stretch of comments is, is something the community+mods sort of work on. "Flag and move on" works for a one-off bad comment or thread. MeTa is for what people see as ongoing issues that are not being remedied by "flag and move on"

when I see a woman here posting messages on Metachat about how she just swoons over the sight of a 19-year-old pop culture star's buttocks

It's the exception that just about proves the rule, no? There was one "why is Justin so hot?" thread and TPS's two word comment. No one minds the occasional comment about someone being attractive, what they mind is the ongoing sandpaper rubdown of threads about women and/or their bodies being turned into sophmoric HURF DURF SWEATER PUPPY exercises and/or "she's asking for it, they're all asking for it" discussions. It's just annoying and tiresome and, at the end of it, keeps questions from being answered both because the threads get deails and also because people don't want to participate in them because they're noxious.

The place being a boyzone doesn't man "there are boys here" or whatever, everyone for the most part likes boys, men, women, girls, etc. What it means is that it's a place where (some) boys act like there's no other sort of people here and aren't using normal sort of courtesy as if they were in some other semi-public place.

Mathowie uses the analogy about the bunch of guys who rib each other and call each other "fag" and then when one of them turns out to have a gay brother and asks them to stop... they're sort of jerks if they're like "whatever FAG" instead of being like "oh the circumstances have changed, maybe we could be a little bit more courteous about this." It's not hyperpoliteness and it's not PC-anything, it's being appropriate to whatever the situation is -- the AskMe thread about swearing on a first date was fascinating for this because people's idea of what's appropriate is all over the place -- to encourage wider participation by ALL members of the community.

The Bellman, if you do not want to talk about this in MeTa, no one is making you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:15 AM on January 24, 2008 [27 favorites]


But the one thing it was supposed to prevent was threads like this. For goodness sake, hmsbeagle, YOU GOT YOUR OWN FLAG! Flag it and move on!

Someone should call the police and let them know that thehmsbeagle apparently has kidnapped The Bellman, restrained him with his eyes held open Clockwork Orange-style, and forced him to read this whole thread. Poor guy, hope he's ok!
posted by brain_drain at 10:16 AM on January 24, 2008


Personally, I like it when women have only one breast and I HAVE AN AMAZING JUST-SO STORY ABOUT MONKEYS TO PROVE THAT I'M THE ONLY ONE RIGHT IN THIS THREAD.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:17 AM on January 24, 2008 [9 favorites]


No one minds the occasional comment about someone being attractive, what they mind is the ongoing sandpaper rubdown of threads about women and/or their bodies being turned into sophmoric HURF DURF SWEATER PUPPY exercises and/or "she's asking for it, they're all asking for it" discussions. It's just annoying and tiresome and, at the end of it, keeps questions from being answered both because the threads get deails and also because people don't want to participate in them because they're noxious.

This sums up my attitude quite nicely, thanks Jessamyn.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:18 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's the link.

Yeah, because ogling a picture of someone's butt is the same as staring at a colleague's boobs while she's right there in front of you.

The most offensive thing about TPS's response is that she misspelled "squeels" (s/b squeals). (sorry for the spelling callout, TPS!)
posted by rtha at 10:20 AM on January 24, 2008


Hahaha, yea, that's one of those words I can never remember how to spell properly... oddly enough, butt "cheek" is another (I have been known to talk about "butt checks").
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:24 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I actually had my own flag, it would be "HILARIOUS/WITTY/EXCELLENT!" and I would have used it on allen.spaulding, but alas! I had to resort to a boring old favorite.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:25 AM on January 24, 2008


The most offensive thing about TPS's response is that she misspelled "squeels" (s/b squeals)

It's a faddish mashup of "squeal" and "squee". Bleeding edge linguistics, yo.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:29 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I actually had my own flag, it would be "HILARIOUS/WITTY/EXCELLENT!"

"Fantastic Comment" insufficiently specific?
posted by dersins at 10:30 AM on January 24, 2008


butt checks
Those are the kind my mouth is always writing and they always bounce.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:30 AM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yeah. Sorry. I was responding to TPS's memail. I really wasn't trying to embarrass her, and I was hoping not to make it personal, but it was such a great double standard, I couldn't resist using it. Here's the link.

I'm not quite sure why you enjoying feeling like the oppressed victim and minority when it comes to the internet Dave but this probably wasn't the example you were looking for. Keep trying though. I'm sure there will be another metatalk thread along soon where you can wave your ego, man your victimhood barricades and hopefully get Suzy the Cheerleader to finally notice you.
posted by Stynxno at 10:31 AM on January 24, 2008


Hey, you know how I'm apparently your friendly neighborhood irrational/uptight/bitchy feminist? Well, my Batsignal is going off. 'Cause I'm bitchy/uptight/irrational/out to ruin your fun.

I stopped reading here. Did anything interesting get written after that?
posted by tkolar at 10:44 AM on January 24, 2008


It seems like you were nicer to people when you were Crunchland. Wasn't it supposed to work the other way around?
posted by jtron at 10:59 AM on January 24, 2008


Yeah. It was a mistake to include the reference, even obliquely. My apologies to ThePinkSuperhero. She's more than welcome to squee over that kid.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:04 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why hasn't thehmsbeagle's response in the AskMe thread been deleted? It's a blatant non-answer.
posted by oaf at 11:04 AM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Can I ask something? I'm asking in all seriousness.

This happened in askme, yeah? For real, can we really expect this to affect askme, since the percentage of askme users who read metatalk is something less than .01%? We already know that comments like that are inappropriate for askme. The mods don't debate that at all, and the people in this thread who do not only don't represent the majority view of mefites but also don't really intend to ever change their behavior just because they got yelled at for it here. I can completely understand the urge to make this post, so I'm not trying to criticize thehmsbeagle at all. I just want to know why the mods are leaving it open. We close so many threads for being "things we don't do well" and the fact is that threads like this have already lost us several worthwhile and dearly missed members. Right now this thread reads like everyone's opportunity to point out whatever their minor quibble is with "the other side" of the debate. We've got comparisons of ogling to rape, we've got people fucking calling out other members for comments made on OTHER GODDAMN SITES, accusations of thought policing, and generally just the very worst that metafilter has to offer. why?

for a thread that was already being cleaned up by the appropriate authorities (thanks, cortex!) when this post was made, anyway.

seriously, we're not accomplishing anything good here. what's going on is that some good people are being driven to the brink by some complete fuckwads on both sides who are saying some unbelievably stupid and thoughtless things. So this debate? It's not really a healthy venting, and it's not accomplishing anything. It's just an opportunity for people with zero perspective to point out how annoying they find this or that minor aspect of feminism/masculinism. (is masculinism a word? am I using it appropriately? I don't know.)

can we please, for fucking fuck's sake, close this piece of shit thread.
posted by shmegegge at 11:05 AM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Why hasn't thehmsbeagle's response in the AskMe thread been deleted? It's a blatant non-answer.

I'm curious about that also.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:06 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


This metatalk thread, done right:

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: Sexism cleanup in aisle #3

Content:
Anyways, you cannot look into a woman's eyes as if she were a man. That is just preposterous. Looking at a co-worker's dairy pillows is perfectly fine as long as you're not staring like a crazed pervert. Don't make it obvious, either. And it might be a good idea to not moan or touch yourself at the same time. Also, keep from talking about the juggs.

This sort of sexism is way beyond my comfort zone. Could the moderators clean up in there? Thanks.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
posted by tkolar at 11:10 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why hasn't the disgusting "snuggle puppies" response been deleted? That's far more offensive than someone "not answering the question," although I have to agree that there's not much more to say except "How do you not look? You just don't." That IS an answer, as many people argue for that kind of answer on AskMe every day.
posted by agregoli at 11:11 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


It seems like you were nicer to people when you were Crunchland. Wasn't it supposed to work the other way around?

It's not the name. It's the mileage.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:14 AM on January 24, 2008


I remind my brain that although it may be natural for my gaze to drift toward something interesting, it's also rude. And I don't want to be rude, so I remember not to stare.

That's a non-answer? Really?

Seems to be a much more detailed response than the "just don't" a lot of people are casting it as.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:16 AM on January 24, 2008


Why hasn't thehmsbeagle's response in the AskMe thread been deleted?

Why hasn't the disgusting "snuggle puppies" response been deleted?

My thinking is that, given
- the degree of self-examination in both the askme thread and in here
- that significant chunks of the coversation in both focus on the comments mentioned above
- that those comments, though they both have problems, aren't nearly as clearcut beyond the pale as some of what's been removed

it'd be stranger to pull those comments at this point than to let them stand. Whether or not they'd stand under less hyper-attenuated circumstances is a separate matter, but this is an unusual situation and I think it's better to leave them and the existing conversation (first in that thread, now here) about them in place than to try to do a raze now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:18 AM on January 24, 2008


Did anything interesting get written after that?

Not really. However true and right the intentions were it started shittily and, barring a few kernels of engaging and thought provoking comments, remains a turd, bobbing in the bowl and begging for a flush.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:22 AM on January 24, 2008


In this discussion there's been a lot of misunderstanding on both sides. In fact I think most of us probably agree on the basics. Men will check women out, yes. Then to be polite and respectful, men won't stare, but will instead control themselves like most adults do, and look at the face of the person they're talking to. Both women and men have anxiety around the issue of boob-looking and the perception of boob-looking at work. That's a shame and we shouldn't make it worse by talking about how helpless we are against our urges, or about how staring is bad, or whatever. A quick look is normal and ok, and then (most of us know to) look away.

The women here aren't saying "all men are bad and should feel guilty if they like breasts." They're saying "It's great that you like breasts, but we know that already because every moment of our waking lives reminds us how central breasts are to music, cars, insurance, beer, and every other facet of life. Please don't stare, and don't act like you are specially entitled to stare; it makes us feel bad." Most men here probably already know that and act politely automatically. I don't get why there is so much rancor, as if we are saying something really controversial, when we pretty much all follow this social norm already and we understand the reason for it (it makes the stared-at person uncomfortable and as polite people we try not to do that).

Ynoxas, bruce's little paean to breasts is gross not because it's pro-breast, but because it reads (to me) as violating a social norm that you don't talk about fondling breasts in great detail when there are women present (and I assume that kind of description would be weirdly out-of-place in a men-only forum too). He knows he's violating that social norm, and that makes it not just uncomfortable but a little threatening in a way that's directed at the women here. It's creepy and aggressive and exhibitionist. It says "I am doing this to make you uncomfortable. Whattaya gonna do about it?". That's my take, anyway. But my sense is that bruce doesn't have a very accurate sense of how his comments here come off, and often what he intends as light humor comes off as pointedly assholish so who knows what he intended.

About the Male Gaze stuff: I didn't mean to be endorsing that as an explanation of all behavior or anything, I just meant to be explaining that it's a specific academic idea about visual representations especially, rather than a general claim that men do look at women. And yes, I agree that it can be taken too far and too facilely offered. But I do think there's something true in the general idea that (1) women and men are socialized to view women's (but not men's) appearance as very important to their worth, and (2) both men and women are socialized to view men as the ones who make that determination (of whether a woman's appearance is good enough). There are exceptions, and outliers, and so on, but I do think that these two claims are pretty close to right.

But again, on the issue of the day, I think pretty much everyone agrees (ok to briefly look, but not to stare), and the point of this thread (that there were some gross comments in that thread) has been taken care of.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:22 AM on January 24, 2008 [21 favorites]


Why hasn't the disgusting "snuggle puppies" response been deleted?

Whoa, that's still there (link)?! That's just...wow, wtf?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:24 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bleeding edge linguistics, yo.

*faints at sight of blood*
posted by rtha at 11:24 AM on January 24, 2008


Seems to be a much more detailed response than the "just don't" a lot of people are casting it as.

It's longer than "Don't do it", but doesn't actually say anything more. Don't confuse verbosity with clarity. "I don't do it because it's rude" doesn't help because the poster already knows it's rude, which is why they're asking the fucking question in the first place. It's a non-answer and if it didn't have all the terrible, terrible other answers in that thread to look good next to, it'd be deleted.
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:28 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not buying it, cortex. Other similar offensive speech in the thread was removed. Yet not that. Obviously that speech has been reproduced here as quotes, so I see no reason not to remove it, since the thread still stands and will remain in MeFi archives. Perhaps this goes back to the discussion you and I had about how you like "playful" terms for anatomy? I ask that honestly, not in a baited way.
posted by agregoli at 11:30 AM on January 24, 2008


cortex, are you serious?

you're not deleating the snuggle puppies comment because it's being discussed here and you don't want to confuse anybody by deleting it? and because it's not a clear cut deletable comment? you're not joking?

so a comment that refers to breasts as snuggle puppies and sweater stuffers isn't clearly offensive enough?

and come on, how on earth can you possibly justify leaving a comment in just because you want people to know what comment we're talking about in a metatalk thread? the text in its entirety has been quoted here. And since when do we leave problem answers in askme threads just because some other answers argued against it? just leave a note, like you guys always do. christ.
posted by shmegegge at 11:31 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm glad I'm not the only one flabbergasted by your response, cortex.
posted by agregoli at 11:32 AM on January 24, 2008


fuck, you know what? I'm going to take my own advice.
posted by shmegegge at 11:34 AM on January 24, 2008


also, I have a bleeding edge linguistics way of spelling deleting, apparently.
posted by shmegegge at 11:36 AM on January 24, 2008


Buy it or don't, agregoli. I mean what I said: I've left it because I think that under the circumstances it would be weird to remove it despite its problems than it is to leave it. That I have a big fondness for toilet humor and wordplay doesn't make me blind to the conversation here, and I don't think it's a slamdunk great comment being attacked unfairly or anything of the sort.

Neither have Matt nor Jess removed it either. I count on Jess in particular to help compensate for any blind spots I might have on this front; it's possible she's just missed that one and would disagree with me on this (in which case, let the axe fall; I'm hardly going to argue with her about it), but I'm not standing over it protectively and praising its virtues.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:37 AM on January 24, 2008


HURF DURF SWEATER PUPPIES
posted by waraw at 11:39 AM on January 24, 2008


500!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:44 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


If Cool Papa Bell's comment is basically "concentrate on looking at one eye at a time and ogle boobs when no one notices" it's a good answer, isn't it? Is the language the problematic part? Why? I don't like "tits," and rather prefer "snuggle puppies." It's a pretty gray area, isn't it?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:46 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


LobsterMitten: It says "I am doing this to make you uncomfortable. Whattaya gonna do about it?"

Good to read WTF else might have been the point of that comment. I thought he was just cluelessly glorying in his idea of himself as a great lover, but I didn't read carefully. I scanned just enough to think "this adds zilch to the discussion and looks ilke it'll end up creeptastic" and skipped the rest of it. And I'm not going to go back and read it now just to check on my possible mis/interpretations. /shudders
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:47 AM on January 24, 2008


If Cool Papa Bell's comment is basically "concentrate on looking at one eye at a time and ogle boobs when no one notices" it's a good answer, isn't it?

No, encouraging someone to plan to ogle their co-worker's breasts is not good advice.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:53 AM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


(I mean, in the context of the new and improved thread, no longer smothered by lol bewbies.)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:54 AM on January 24, 2008


I've left it because I think that under the circumstances it would be weird to remove it despite its problems than it is to leave it.

That's completely contrary to the deletions that have already happened on the thread - those were starting to be discussed here too - I don't see much confusion happening about it. So yeah. I don't buy it. I don't see any good defense for leaving it up. No one is going to be "confused" or think it's weird that it's deleted.
posted by agregoli at 11:54 AM on January 24, 2008


can we please, for fucking fuck's sake, close this piece of shit thread.
posted by shmegegge at 2:05 PM on January 24


I strongly disagree. We need threads like this, and doubtless more threads basically just like like this, to tease out what is appropriate for the site and how that changes over time. Just remove it from recent activity if you would like the conversation to go on without you.
posted by shothotbot at 11:55 AM on January 24, 2008


Not good advice, no, but deleteworthy in its malfeasance? I think it's just a perhaps uncomfortably frank version of our general consensus: looking is fine, unless it's obvious, awkward and untimely.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:59 AM on January 24, 2008


I had no idea the snuggle puppies comment was still there & thought it had been removed. While I generally agree wiht what cortex is saying -- it's hard to remove comments once they've been dragged into MeTa without confusion -- that one was primed to go. Sorry all.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:59 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why did the entire thread from this comment on just get italicized? Did this happen for anyone else or just me?
posted by Kattullus at 11:59 AM on January 24, 2008


But understand, from a practical standpoint, a woman who walked past a man in the office and said "Hey Rick, nice suit" and ran her hand across the lapel would feel she crossed no line, and practically no observer would either. But reverse the roles, and it would be a lawsuit.

I really disagree with that, but it brings up what I see as a big part of this question that's been mostly ignored: offices have very different versions of what is and isn't appropriate. If a woman did that at my office, it would be well over the line. There's no touching at my office, unless people are shaking hands. It's not prohibited, it just doesn't happen because of the culture here.

That "gawk when they're not looking" post is unforgiveably shitty. Let me just say to anyone for whom this might be relevant advice... sometimes you guys think a woman can't see you and you're fucking wrong.
posted by zebra3 at 12:01 PM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


And now it's back to normal. Nevermind...

I'm telling you, I'm telling you, it's real, it's real, I saw it with my own two eyes
posted by Kattullus at 12:01 PM on January 24, 2008


Thank you, jessamyn. I agree with cortex's basic premise as well, but it doesn't apply in this situation to me at all, particularly since the other comments were removed.
posted by agregoli at 12:01 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


[shothotbot, no, the askme thread wasn't the right forum for that, but this probably is.]

I had no idea the snuggle puppies comment was still there & thought it had been removed.

There you go!
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:02 PM on January 24, 2008


I think it's just a perhaps uncomfortably frank version of our general consensus: looking is fine, unless it's obvious, awkward and untimely.

If you're planning to stare at your co-worker's "sweater puppies" whenever you get the chance, how less obvious could you be?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:03 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: I kind of didn't intend to actually post that.
posted by Duncan at 12:06 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


We need threads like this

no we don't. we've had much better threads than this on this topic. this one is just a festering ground for bad sentiment.
posted by shmegegge at 12:08 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


THEN LEAVE ALREADY!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:08 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know why thehmsbeagle's account was disabled? Did she give up?

I posted the same query in the original thread too by accident.
posted by shothotbot at 12:10 PM on January 24, 2008


MetaTalk: a festering ground for bad sentiment
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:10 PM on January 24, 2008


So after almost 500 comments, the only thing that seems clear is that it's difficult for women and men to agree on human sexuality topics.

Who woulda thunk?
posted by Argyle at 12:12 PM on January 24, 2008


If she did, shothotbot, I am very sad. I hope that it is not the case, not that I blame her.
posted by agregoli at 12:13 PM on January 24, 2008


thehmsbeagle, come baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! ::howls like a beagle::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:15 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


TPS, well, I'm being a little more generous in my reading of that comment than you are, and that's surely in part because I never got the nasty experience of reading the entire squirmworthy litany of deleted comments. As one of the last remaining comments drawing objections, I don't think it reads as entirely literal, but indeed enthusiastic about drawing a line between the right time and the wrong time to look at breasts. That the implied breasted one in his comment was still the coworker was, in my view, just clumsy. I guess I interpreted is as "Boobs rule, look at them on your own time," which, as I admit, is perhaps too generous. I also feel confused about whether this community views the language, the enthusiasm, or the "unavoidability" as shameful taboos, or what. So, if it were only this comment under tinspection, what makes it deleteworthy, is my question, and boy is it late to still be wondering.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:15 PM on January 24, 2008


Huh? I find that just as mystifying as someone saying that men all love large breasts. I've met men who like breasts in many different sizes, and I've met women who love men of all different heights (me included - I don't like really tall men cause I'm 5'4" - don't like them towering over me).
posted by agregoli


Never said all men love big breasts. Didn't say all women like taller men. Didn't say either on of those. That's where the word 'most' comes in.

Let which guy? The average guy? Sure. All guys? No.
posted by bugbread


Again, didn't say all men.

If a man finds a beautiful woman who he clicks with, but she just happens to have an A cup, then the number of men who are going to pass over that woman solely because of having a smaller breast size is small.
posted by Ynoxas


Maybe I'm misunderstanding you. If you're saying most men wouldn't care if their beautiful wife that they love has an A cup, that breast size is irrelevant, sure, I agree. Though in my mind, that, is in fact putting the cart before the horse.
posted by gtr at 12:16 PM on January 24, 2008


If she did, shothotbot, I am very sad. I hope that it is not the case, not that I blame her.
I hope not too or if she did she just wants to take a break. Metafilter has a very high signal to noise ratio and I can only think it is better to work toward a consensus of changing this community rather than starting from scratch.
posted by shothotbot at 12:20 PM on January 24, 2008


I still quibble with the application of "most," gtr, because it applies liberal stereotypes to everyone - I'd rather that men and women be treated as individuals, not as "likely" to do something or like something because of their gender.
posted by agregoli at 12:20 PM on January 24, 2008


Does anyone know why thehmsbeagle's account was disabled?

She closed her account a little bit earlier, with a note expressing her frustration about some of the recurring sexist themes on the site and not really being okay with that. The note was kind and self-consciously undramatic; if it's possible to leave on good terms over a bad thing, I'd say that's what she was expressing.

I'm sad that she's left and I hope that she comes back.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:20 PM on January 24, 2008


Oh goddamn, googling for the "ideas that changed the world" MeFi thread I came across Jenny Diski's blogpost about the recent unpleasantness and was reminded how damn sucky it was when she and three others left MetaFilter and then quonsar a little later... and now thehmsbeagle is gone too!

*joins ThePinkSuperhero in howling*
posted by Kattullus at 12:22 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I guess I interpreted is as "Boobs rule, look at them on your own time," which, as I admit, is perhaps too generous.

I think it is. The question and answered referred to a specific person, the co-worker of the OP.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:23 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


god damn it.
posted by shmegegge at 12:24 PM on January 24, 2008


She closed her account a little bit earlier, with a note expressing her frustration about some of the recurring sexist themes on the site and not really being okay with that. The note was kind and self-consciously undramatic; if it's possible to leave on good terms over a bad thing, I'd say that's what she was expressing.

I'm sad that she's left and I hope that she comes back.


Well, that's a pretty shitty outcome from all this, isn't it? But maybe not too surprising, given the weird hostility and rah-rah-misogyny that has permeated this thread. Score one for the little boys club, I guess -- safe space for misreadings of evolutionary psychology assured.
posted by Forktine at 12:26 PM on January 24, 2008 [12 favorites]


Maybe I'm misunderstanding you. If you're saying most men wouldn't care if their beautiful wife that they love has an A cup, that breast size is irrelevant, sure, I agree. Though in my mind, that, is in fact putting the cart before the horse.

I think that practically, for most men it's a lot more general than that. When the rubber hits the road, there are a whole bunch of things that someone is going to find attractive in a potential partner, and while there are undoubtedly a handful of hardcore big-/little-/whatever-breast fetishist for whom cup size is going to be a decisive factor, that's not anywhere close to true for the vast majority.

Preferences tend to be fairly abstract, nonce evaluations of compatibility and attraction between two individuals a lot more concrete. If you could take a thousand verifiably happy couples and someone travel back in time to interview each partner before they'd met one another and demand a physical description of their ideal mate, smart money says you'd have a pretty low hit rate on what actually happened.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:27 PM on January 24, 2008


Sigh. Can't say I haven't considered leaving or at least never commenting again on many, many occaisons because of those exact issues, Forktine. She will be missed, quite a bit.
posted by agregoli at 12:28 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


i still don't understand how this thread became a discussion about breasts size. that's not really the point, is it?
posted by Stynxno at 12:41 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


WTF HMS
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:42 PM on January 24, 2008


Please think about coming back sometime, thehmsbeagle.

I just assumed the "sweater puppies" comment had been removed, too. I hadn't actually checked.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:45 PM on January 24, 2008


i still don't understand how this thread became a discussion about breasts size. that's not really the point, is it?

Fascinating, isn't it?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:49 PM on January 24, 2008 [11 favorites]


Well, that's a pretty shitty outcome from all this, isn't it? But maybe not too surprising, given the weird hostility and rah-rah-misogyny that has permeated this thread. Score one for the little boys club, I guess -- safe space for misreadings of evolutionary psychology assured.

It sucks, and I'd definitely trade...uh...kind of a lot of people in this thread for her return. But it seems to me that feminism is more winning than losing on MetaFilter, by far. If she did leave because the place is still too boyzone-y for her, well, I don't know. If she was waiting for somebody like bruce to become a feminist, then yeah, she's saving herself a lot of frustration. I hope she changes her mind, though.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:50 PM on January 24, 2008


gtr writes "Again, didn't say all men."

Yeah, didn't mean to imply you did. You didn't say "average guy", either. It was just "ask a guy", so I was clarifying the two possibilities (average versus any). My comment wasn't meant as a comeback or disagreement, sorry if it came out that way.
posted by Bugbread at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2008


Stynxno writes "i still don't understand how this thread became a discussion about breasts size."

These two comments did it:

liquorice writes "So, I don't have much in the way of boobs. I'm one of those girls that hopes and hopes that some guys believe that "anything more than a handful is a waste!" adage even though she knows that's highly unlikely."

Ynoxas writes "I wouldn't worry about your breasts. Breast size does matter to a certain subset of men, just like any other preference/fetish/whatever. But to most men, the actual size is irrelevant."
posted by Bugbread at 1:11 PM on January 24, 2008


Note: I, personally, do not care what you like or dislike about breasts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:15 PM on January 24, 2008


"He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision -- he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath --

"'The hand-wringing! The hand-wringing!'

"I blew the candle out and left the cabin."

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:18 PM on January 24, 2008


Flame out, Cool Papa Bell?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:21 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


bugbread: I am aware of those two comments and I know why it's being talked about but it's a derail that actually increases the noise in this thread.

Not that I mind the noise but I take it the more noise in any push-button thread probably isn't the best thing.
posted by Stynxno at 1:25 PM on January 24, 2008


Well, that's a pretty shitty outcome from all this, isn't it?

The shittiest part is that she decided to go out by posting a sarcastic and inflammatory metatalk post about an extremely sensitive topic.

A single crappy AskMe thread at its very worst couldn't possibly have done the damage that this thread has done to the process of arriving at a mature community consensus around sexism.
posted by tkolar at 1:27 PM on January 24, 2008 [10 favorites]


Now who's going to needlessly inflate my ego. Come back HMS, the internets is learning.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:27 PM on January 24, 2008


that one was primed to go. Sorry all.

Jessamyn, can you provide more detail on grounds upon which that answer deleted? From my perspective it seems that not so much the idea behind the answer that was objectionable (as an answer to the question) as it was the delivery (snuggle puppies).

Meanwhile, hmsbeagle's answer not only fails to answer the question (if the question is "how do I accomplish foo, the obvious answer 'bar' isn't working for me?" then "do bar" is an invalid answer) but attacks the legitimacy of question as well. Yet it remains.

I honestly do not understand why one answer stands while the other doesn't. Is there a documented guideline that 'snuggle puppies' violates that 'this is not a question for ages' does not?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:28 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Man, sexism threads just do not go well here. They start with the idea of reducing sexism, and yet end with anti-sexists leaving the site and sexists staying. Weird. I guess this kind of thing was always going on behind the scenes, without spectacular carwreck threads to make it obvious that someone had canceled their subscription, but it still feels like a weird dynamic.
posted by Bugbread at 1:38 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, that's a pretty shitty outcome from all this, isn't it? But maybe not too surprising, given the weird hostility and rah-rah-misogyny that has permeated this thread. Score one for the little boys club, I guess -- safe space for misreadings of evolutionary psychology assured.

sorry? there's been a whole lotta stuff in this thread, but i remember precious little overt "weird hostility" or "rah-rah misogyny". not even that much of misread evolutionary psychology (my comment that only humans do it face to face notwithstanding).

i guess some people are just hardwired to become hysterical & emotional & overreact to everything. *shrugs*
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:44 PM on January 24, 2008


i guess some people are just hardwired to become hysterical & emotional & overreact to everything. *shrugs*

Classy parting shot, UbuRovias.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:46 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn, can you provide more detail on grounds upon which that answer deleted?

She's actually out traveling, so nominally online but kinda busy with meetings and such. I dropped her a line to have her look at this thread, but I don't think she's going to be able to be super responsive.

As far as I'm seeing both sides of it, my take on the comment was that it wasn't sheer awfulness—I think my read is similar to AV's, and yours, that there's nothing fundamentally wrong (if neither fundamentally approved of) in the latter half of the comment as an idea. On the other hand, the sort of aggressively silly "sweater puppies", "just gawk the hell out of 'em" presentation wasn't great, and it was clearly bothering some people and from the sounds of things coming across less silly than just sexist and demeaning.

I was opting to leave it up, but not because it was a great comment. I won't repeat my arguments here, but as a comment it could have been done a lot better and in a vacuum I think I would have deleted it pronto and let CPB think about finding a less ridiculous way to phrase his point.

Meanwhile, hmsbeagle's answer not only fails to answer the question (if the question is "how do I accomplish foo, the obvious answer 'bar' isn't working for me?" then "do bar" is an invalid answer) but attacks the legitimacy of question as well. Yet it remains.

Again, I don't think it's a great comment, but in picking which side of the fence to roll to I'm not personally inclined to delete it, see again arguments above. If when Jess has a chance to look at it she thinks it should go, it'll go, and okay.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:49 PM on January 24, 2008


They start with the idea of reducing sexism, and yet end with anti-sexists leaving the site and sexists staying.

You're just saying that because you're a dumb man. No, but seriously, I haaaate fatalistic readings like this. As my old boss inexplicably said, "You're not on the ship if you're not here rowing."

Of course, he also said "You know, it’s a bird on the ceiling or a bird in the hand, but I know it’s two or three big birds and they’re coming down to land on us right now." Which is also prescient, if you think about it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:50 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Classy parting shot, UbuRovias.

another fan of self-referential irony!

my favourite thing in the whole world!
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2008


Flame out, Cool Papa Bell?

Hardly.

Look, I have some respect for the mods, so, yeah, whatever. Ultimately not my site to maintain. But I'll repeat a snippet of the MeFIMail conversation I had with ThePinkSuperhero (which ended in quite the civil way, btw).

I'm sorry that some feel it's a boy's club, but I'm really saddened by the lack of a sense of humor and perspective on this, and the ensuing self-righteous look-at-me-I'm-offended callout.

I tried to offer a simple, helpful tip (look in one eye, then the other) that has helped me in the past make meaningful, conversational eye contact with people. I hope that helped the original questioner.

But if you can't live in a world where people can't call 'em boobies, ya-yas, et al (as well as dongs, balls and one-eyed-trouser snakes), with a tongue planted firmly in one's cheek ... well, I can't help you.

And if the mods want to delete threads where people call 'em boobies, ya-yas, etc ... well, I can't stop them. But I don't think I'm anywhere close to the 99th percentile of inflammatory MeFis.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:57 PM on January 24, 2008


You know, it’s a bird on the ceiling or...

poor deluded fool obviously can't tell the difference between a bird & a bat. not surprising that his chickens came home to roost, being birds of a feather & all.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:00 PM on January 24, 2008


Of course, he also said "You know, it’s a bird on the ceiling or a bird in the hand, but I know it’s two or three big birds and they’re coming down to land on us right now." Which is also prescient, if you think about it.

...You worked for Yogi Berra?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:03 PM on January 24, 2008


Though DD is actually smaller than you would think, proportional to the body, if you are an average sized woman (sizes 12-14)

You mean an average sized American woman.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:56 AM on January 24 [1 favorite +] [!]


Or an average Canadian woman, or British woman (I've lived both places). Maybe the average is more size 10, I don't know. But it's not that out of average. Height and breadth of shoulders matters, of course, as all of these things are proportional (which was my point). I did spend many years thinking I must be a C cup and wearing such, but it turns out I'm a DD. That said, any of the women in this thread who say that they are D or DD might want to get sized at a nice bra shop - you might actually be larger, and be wearing your bra too small. Apparently that's pretty common.

But also - Sophie! I have to admit that I went to an easy university and we just skipped right ahead to that section (after an introduction to Emile). That chapter is what has made me a life long hater of Rousseau. I have no use for him. It wasn't just his time - I study the early modern world and women were thought to be inferior, but still helpmeets and capable of a lot more than he thinks. And if he was such a great thinker he would have been able to perceive that his logic about women's education just didn't follow from his beliefs about men.
posted by jb at 2:04 PM on January 24, 2008


I'm all for crude humor CPB, but that comment, in that context, comes off as too immature.

I would have waited until the MetaTalk thread to do something like that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:04 PM on January 24, 2008

I'm sorry that some feel it's a boy's club, but I'm really saddened by the lack of a sense of humor and perspective on this, and the ensuing self-righteous look-at-me-I'm-offended callout.
I've got to run, so I apologize if this isn't as articulate as it should be. But would you consider, just for a second, that perhaps the issue isn't so much that we lack a sense of humor as that everyone's sense of humor is conditioned by his or her experiences? And that the fun jokey titty jokes aren't as funny to those of us who have actually experienced being treated like a walking pair of tits from the time we were 13? It's not that we're humorless. It's that slipping on a banana peel isn't actually that funny when you're the one who ends up with the broken leg.
posted by craichead at 2:05 PM on January 24, 2008 [26 favorites]


Well, that's a pretty shitty outcome from all this, isn't it? But maybe not too surprising, given the weird hostility and rah-rah-misogyny that has permeated this thread. Score one for the little boys club, I guess -- safe space for misreadings of evolutionary psychology assured.

and who'da thunk the HMS Beagle would fall a-fowl of evolutionary theory, huh?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:05 PM on January 24, 2008


the sort of aggressively silly "sweater puppies", "just gawk the hell out of 'em" presentation wasn't great, and it was clearly bothering some people and from the sounds of things coming across less silly than just sexist and demeaning.

"Answers deemed sexist and demeaning may be subject to deletion" is a non-arbitrary guideline I can accept. Thank you.

"Answers whose presentation are 'not great' may be subject to deletion" or "Answers that clearly bother some people may be subject to deletion" are not. The latter I find particularly troubling. I support the new flag as it pertains to the goal of fostering discussion from diverse viewpoints, but as battering ram for neutering language I kinda hate it.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 2:06 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


And if women could choose the height of their man most would choose 6-2 over 5-6. Nothing wrong with that.
posted by gtr at 5:19 PM on January 24 [+] [!]


I do find something wrong with that. I think too many women discount shorter men - and frankly are judging them by their bodies, not their personalities. I'm not saying that one shouldn't have preferences - I have strong preferences for men within a few inches of my own height. But I'm disturbed by the way that there is a more global preference for men 6' and over - it suggests a cultural discrimination against shorter men. Maybe it's because of how men are protrayed in the media.
posted by jb at 2:09 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ugh, sorry for starting off that discussion about breast size. Should have realised that might have gotten out of hand.

But,...I can't believe HMS has gone! This is a great loss for MeFi, I seriously hope she considers returning.
posted by liquorice at 2:15 PM on January 24, 2008


The latter I find particularly troubling.

The unsolvable difficulty of brevity versus completeness. I've put a lot of words into this thread and into that comment specifically already, and loads more into the general subject over in metatalk, and that's just a segment of what's been said administratively when your roll in Matt and Jess, and that is just a handful of the commentary on the subject when you roll in all the mefites who've been part of these discussions.

There are a hell of a lot of things that go into evaluating a comment. There are things that get deleted, things that don't, things that get sidebarred now and then, and frankly it can be difficult during the long haul to ferret out a precise and thorough explanation every single time when "great" and "not great" are reasonable summaries in context. We try to be pretty clear about where we're coming from, administratively, but sometimes getting met halfway helps out a lot.

but as battering ram for neutering language I kinda hate it

I hear you, and it isn't remotely. Flagging hasn't changed significantly, as far as I can tell, since the inception of the new flag; an increase in some things being flagged, an increase in our attention behind the scenes as to what people are reacting to or finding objectionable, but no major change in moderation. There is no battering ram.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:16 PM on January 24, 2008


liquorice writes "I'm one of those girls that hopes and hopes that some guys believe that 'anything more than a handful is a waste!' adage even though she knows that's highly unlikely. "

A correlation of rule 34 pretty well ensures what ever you've got someone out there finds it attractive. However we hardly need to fall back that far. Even a quick look at most porn boards that aren't single focused will reveal a sizable percentage of men seek out those of modest endowment.


schroedinger writes "Just please, at least clarify this for me: Are you guys actually defending the practice of addressing a woman's sexual body parts instead of her face when you're speaking to her, arguing that it's tough cookies if this makes women uncomfortable because it's natural for men to do so? Or are you in the 'Look, blatant staring is not OK, but sometimes people sneak a quick glance and that can be unavoidable.'"

I'm not. I'm just saying that I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt even if there is only a 0.0001%1 chance the guy actually likes your sweater

schroedinger writes "Also, no straight guy here has really addressed my gay male analogy. Seriously. If you are a straight male, and a gay man who is taller and obviously more physically powerful than you looks at your crotch when he's talking to you, or harasses you about it when you walk down the street--sometimes even following you--would you be uncomfortable?"

The looking wouldn't bother me except I'd wonder if my fly was open. Even when I was ripped from hard physical labour I was never attractive and I was hardened to peoples comments on my appearance before I left high school. The following me down the street would bother me. Seems to me though that there is a world of difference between having a good look and stalking.

schroedinger writes "You know Mithereal, you are absolutely right. The day I dared to wear a sweater--turtleneck, by the way--to a community center and at least five older men expressed their appreciation by staring directly at my chest and telling me how nice that shirt was and how mature I looked, wherein past conversations they had talked to me, not my chest, well, I am just making assumptions that they were admiring my breasts! How conceited of me! How abusive!"

And hey you were probably right. But you don't _know_ and for all you know one of those guys might have been gay or otherwise genuinely appreciative of your sweater. It's the stereotype that all men are pigs that gets me going.

HotPatatta writes "There's a whole generation of young men who can't get get 'excited' by real women because they're so used to seeing large, hard, exaggerated fake breasts in porn."

I don't know if huge porn breasts is an American thing but from what I've seen both personally and on the net tastes are much more eclectic than that. Even here wasn't one of the posts in the recent sexism whirlwind about that pole vaulter's image, a woman of modest endowment?

1 not saying that is the percentage mind you
posted by Mitheral at 2:18 PM on January 24, 2008


It's that slipping on a banana peel isn't actually that funny when you're the one who ends up with the broken leg.

And as I also said to ThePinkSuperhero in MeFiMail ... to-MAY-to, to-MAH-to.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:26 PM on January 24, 2008


She closed her account a little bit earlier, with a note expressing her frustration about some of the recurring sexist themes on the site and not really being okay with that.

Fuck. Well, I'm sure UbuRoivas isn't the only one dancing in glee.

but i remember precious little overt "weird hostility" or "rah-rah misogyny".

I guess you're hard-wired not to notice it, huh?

I sure hope you'll come back, thehmsbeagle. We need more of you and fewer asshats.
posted by languagehat at 2:29 PM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry hmsbeagle has left.

But I have to say that lately I've been more afraid of commenting because other women have been rude to me. Maybe it's because I am somewhat gender queer and I don't have the same issues as other women. Also, my best friend, my now husband, is male, and he doesn't let me get away without thinking about how gender roles and politics affects them, just as it affects women.

Metafilter is can be a boyzone, but it can also be an "I'm more feminist than thou, and how dare you betray all women by diagreeing with me" zone. This is just as intimidating.
posted by jb at 2:32 PM on January 24, 2008 [11 favorites]


I understand using shorthand in context, cortex, and did not mean to over-parse your words.

The 'battering ram' thing was just that sort of thing...a thousand thoughts spread across these many threads that I'd been too lazy (or too squeamish) to type out, finally making some feeble attempt at birth.

I'm just saying, man, from here it seems more and more like expression is being curtailed in the name of "being welcoming". Ironically, it's like achieving consensus has overtaken tolerance of a variety of voices as a top priority. It's really not the metafilter I grew up with.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 2:36 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


sorry? there's been a whole lotta stuff in this thread, but i remember precious little overt "weird hostility" or "rah-rah misogyny". not even that much of misread evolutionary psychology (my comment that only humans do it face to face notwithstanding).

i guess some people are just hardwired to become hysterical & emotional & overreact to everything. *shrugs*


For a great example of both hostility and coded misogyny, your last sentence there works like a charm. And for bonus points, it even includes the use of evolutionary psychology to make the point. Right on, dude!

I started to go through the thread and pull quotes of the sort of stuff I was talking about, e.g.:

Metatalk thought-police squad

they start as ovoid when you palpate them up from the base, as i do, and finish off as incredibly rounded heavenly mounds demanding that my hand gently map and explore them, brushing the erectile nipples with the slightest touch for maximum effect.


But you know? Honestly, at this point you either kind of get it, or you aren't interested in getting it. And the weirdest thing of all is that some of the guys who are most out front about not getting it (e.g. you) are guys who in all other respects I think very highly of. But a bunch of men seem to have a totally blind spot about this one issue. They wouldn't think that using coded racist language or being hostile to MeFites-of-color (yeesh, what a phrase) was cool at all. But somehow misogyny falls into this other category where any criticism is met with "hey, where's your sense of humor?" and "wah wah I'm being silenced." I don't get it, and it is far and away the least attractive thing about this community at the moment.

I don't know -- I can say, "Hey, I'm a guy and really I'm cool and not hostile" all day long, but that doesn't change the general tone here in any real way. And every time this shit happens and a few more awesome and smart and funny people decide to leave or take a break, we are all the worse for it.

I'm not getting up on some high horse and saying "dude, you are totally wrong!" at all (like I said above, I'm really sympathetic to a lot of the points you are making). I'm saying instead that if you can't find a way to discuss these things that doesn't come off as hostile and nasty, then the community is hurt. This is a community that relies on openness and creating respect for ideas, but that sure as shit isn't what is happening in this thread. It's a how issue, not a what issue, if that makes sense.
posted by Forktine at 2:40 PM on January 24, 2008 [12 favorites]


Three people have closed their accounts based on this thread, and frankly, that sucks.

I don't know where to start -- I watched this early on but missed the craziness that happened here last night and early this morning. Things really seemed to get heated and it seems a small number of people fueled a fire that is still burning.

It seems like a lot of bad things come out in these fast, long threads. Anything with more than a few hundred comments within a 24 period on MetaTalk seems to end in flameouts, account closings, off-site email fights, and/or worse. From an admin perspective, it's really tough to balance the need for people to explore all the issues with curtailing the flames and trolling. I almost think we need to purposely slow down posting on threads with more than 200 comments to force users to read previous stuff or think before they hit the post button.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:41 PM on January 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell,

Just because that askme question wasn't the place to make jokes about breasts doesn't mean that mefi can't have a sense of humor, or that the people who object to it don't have one at all.

There's a difference joking around among friends and using terms none of you are upset by (which may very well include any number of phrases meaning breasts) and using those phrases publicly in a forum where not everyone is your friend.

Imagine a panel discussion at some kind of modeling convention or something, ok? And the panel discussion is about body image in relation to modeling. Now, there are underwear models in the panel discussion and they're talking about they're work day, their workout, their issues, etc... Breasts could VERY EASILY be central to that issue. But that doesn't mean some fucknut gets to raise his hand, stand up when called on and say "Now about your sweater stuffers..." It's not a joke, it's fucking offensive and totally inconsiderate.

Askme is like that. Even at it's most breast-related, it's not where you objectify, demean or otherwise make jokes about women's bodies.
posted by shmegegge at 2:45 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh shit. I don't want thehmsbeagle to leave. I don't want that at all.

You utter assholes. You and your nitpicky, defensive, competitive little focus on your "right" to look at tits and your "right" to address breasts as sweater puppies and your "right" to talk about licking and fondling them on a public forum--God, do you act this way in real life, too? Do you make these arguments to your bosses, your wives, your girlfriends, your sisters, your mothers, your fathers and brothers, your coworkers? Or do you just save it for here, where the barest hint of anonymity lets you feel like you can play Big Man and spew out all that bullshit in your head, that utter bullshit where you're some kind of goddamned hero for screaming you are free to treat anyone any way you like, regardless of how it makes the other person feel, because if they feel bad it's their fault and how dare they try to restrict your freedoms by expressing their discomfort!

Do some of you know what little kids you sound like? Whining because someone dares to suggest "sweater puppies" is not an appropriate term for breasts in a topic this sensitive! Attacking women who complain that guys stare at their tits for wearing the wrong clothing, making it "difficult" for a man to give a woman a compliment--because it is so hard to direct a compliment to someone's face! Oh, and yes, when a 55-year-old man stares directly at the chest of a 20-year-old girl and says her sweater makes her look mature, then proceeds to conduct the rest of the non-sweater related conversation towards her chest you are absolutely right, he finds the sweater that fascinating. Just the sweater. How awful of me to think otherwise!

You are a bunch of fucking brats, complaining to your parents when they ask you to say please and thank you--only now that you are adults you think breaking the bounds of common decency is edgy and hip and striking a blow against the Feminist Conspiracy Against Penises. They have the right to vote! They have that sexism flag! Why are those uptight humorless bitches still complaining?

And tkchrist--I did not equate looking at boobs with violence and murder. Way to strawman. I said all are instinctual, but we are able to repress our instincts for some and yet find it offensive to be asked to repress our instincts for another.
posted by schroedinger at 2:45 PM on January 24, 2008 [57 favorites]


three people have closed their accounts based on this thread

Who are the other two?
posted by dersins at 2:46 PM on January 24, 2008


But I have to say that lately I've been more afraid of commenting

This site has a decent amount of disagreement (which is good, IMO) and rudeness (which is not good, IMO). I hope that people will work on focusing on the issues, but in the meanwhile, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying, hey, you, what you said right there? That was pretty rude. From my experience, most people on this site are pretty reasonable, and are willing to cop to being rude, even while still disagreeing with you. And once that's all ironed out, you've just got another friend ::starts singing Kumbaya::

And, just to pimp one of my favorite comments ever: The secret is to not care if people on Metafilter hate you. What are they going to do? Come to your house? I'd like to see them try.

On preview: yea, what dersins said- who are the other two?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:47 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


*their work day
posted by shmegegge at 2:48 PM on January 24, 2008


You utter assholes.

That's NOT helping, at all. You're an awesome poster, so please don't stoop down to the level of those you find so disagreeable.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:54 PM on January 24, 2008


I miss jessamyn when she is away. Jessamyn, come baaaaaack!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:56 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a terrible shame if thehmsbeagle [no darwin inside] has left this site and I really hope she will come back.
posted by Rumple at 2:57 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I did not equate looking at boobs with violence and murder.

I'm quibbling, here, because I mostly agree with you, but yes you did. when you say "if it's ok to repress [x], then it should be the same to repress [y]." then you are equating the two. that is precisely what you did.
posted by shmegegge at 2:57 PM on January 24, 2008


Forktine writes "I don't know -- I can say, 'Hey, I'm a guy and really I'm cool and not hostile' all day long, but that doesn't change the general tone here in any real way."

What is the general tone here? I was under the impression for the longest time that it was a boyzone, hostile to women. The first big sexism thread supported that image. But the subsequent feminism threads have convinced me that it's just a "get angry" zone. Everybody is pissed, and no matter your position, a bunch of people probably hate you. It seems like people on both sides are pretty hostile.

I dunno. Probably just means it's time for me to take a break from reading the grey. I enjoy the grey, but the amount of seething between folks here sometimes becomes a bit overwhelming.
posted by Bugbread at 2:58 PM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


Three people have closed their accounts based on this thread, and frankly, that sucks.

And I have no respect for any of them. Good grief, these are words on a screen, people. You don't agree with them? Put your OWN words on a screen and stand up for yourself.

While I am on my soapbox...I am so sick of these fragile flower feminists who get the vapors when a guy goes into boyzone behavior. I respect myself. You should respect me, but if you don't, that's your problem, not mine.

The real world is filled with guys who say incredibly stupid, hurtful and sexist things about women in the aggregate. If I let that get to me, I'd be nothing but a shrieking harridan. I would much rather simply laugh and point at them, and go about my business. I don't like it when they stare at my butt, but I'm not going to have a nervous breakdown about it.

And I am certainly not going to take the "boyzone" stuff here seriously, as most of what is termed such is just humor and goofing around from people who aren't jerks at all. I mean, what is wrong with "sweater puppies"? I save my indignation for real problems.
posted by konolia at 2:58 PM on January 24, 2008 [16 favorites]


Fuck. Well, I'm sure UbuRoivas isn't the only one dancing in glee.

what? i'm not at all dancing with glee. in fact, i was going to make the original meta callout because of all that hurf durf sweaterpuppy crap, but hmsb beat me to it.

For a great example of both hostility and coded misogyny, your last sentence there works like a charm. And for bonus points, it even includes the use of evolutionary psychology to make the point. Right on, dude!

it was a joke, duh. americans just don't get irony.

but i remember precious little overt "weird hostility" or "rah-rah misogyny".

I guess you're hard-wired not to notice it, huh?


on balance, i think there was far more support for women, and far less asshattery in this thread. and people indulging in asshattery were called out for it. people not indulging in asshattery also had plenty of weird-ass projections & out-of-context strawmannery to deal with, fwiw.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:58 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


But a bunch of men seem to have a totally blind spot about this one issue. They wouldn't think that using coded racist language or being hostile to MeFites-of-color (yeesh, what a phrase) was cool at all. But somehow misogyny falls into this other category where any criticism is met with "hey, where's your sense of humor?" and "wah wah I'm being silenced." I don't get it, and it is far and away the least attractive thing about this community at the moment.

Yes.
posted by agregoli at 2:58 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've noticed that the sexism threads tend to treat sexist comments as endemic to MetaFilter. I was a pretty active participant in the antisemitism thread from a week ago or whenever, and, while I think there are certain acts of insensitivity that are bound to show up any time the subject of Judaism shows up, I don't feel that this damns the entirety of MetaFilter.

Rereading this thread, there are very few men who are Rah Rah, let's look at boobies, and very few that are actively telling women to shut up. There are a few asses popping up here and there, but there are more than a few who are attempting a reasoned and civil disagreement, and, in many cases, the arguments aren't dovetailing. Also, there are quite a few who agree that ooglng breasts is just crass, which I also agree with, jokes aside.

Anyone who comes out of this thread hollering that Metafilter is just a boyzone, the sexists are winning, and they don't want to be part of it anymore ... well, I just don't know. Call out the grotesque offenders, and there are a few, flag their comments, and move on. But I don't really think that the opinions of a minority of jerks define this community.

I suppose if you really feel like you can't be in a place where a small percentage of people don't instantly agree with you when you're offended, you might want to steer clear of the Internet.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:58 PM on January 24, 2008 [20 favorites]


While I am on my soapbox...I am so sick of these fragile flower feminists who get the vapors when a guy goes into boyzone behavior.

I don't like that language. Someone disagreeing with you doesn't make them weak.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:01 PM on January 24, 2008 [15 favorites]


konolia writes "And I have no respect for any of them. Good grief, these are words on a screen, people. You don't agree with them? Put your OWN words on a screen and stand up for yourself. "

Er...why should they? If you're at a place for fun, not because it's your job or somehow vital to you, and you find that it has become more fun not to go there than to go there, and in your efforts to make it more fun you actually end up having even less fun, why shouldn't you leave? After a while, you're throwing good money after bad. I respect someone who understands how to cut their losses instead of digging themselves into a deeper hole in hopes that maybe they can tunnel out the other side of the world.
posted by Bugbread at 3:02 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Meh, this thread was a trainwreck from the second it was posted. It doesn't matter if every reasonable voice on Metafilter shows up to discredit themselves at this point.

Damn, it's annoying that people are people sometimes.
posted by tkolar at 3:04 PM on January 24, 2008


It seems like a lot of bad things come out in these fast, long threads. Anything with more than a few hundred comments within a 24 period on MetaTalk seems to end in flameouts, account closings, off-site email fights, and/or worse. From an admin perspective, it's really tough to balance the need for people to explore all the issues with curtailing the flames and trolling. I almost think we need to purposely slow down posting on threads with more than 200 comments to force users to read previous stuff or think before they hit the post button.

Sorry, Matt, that sounds like overcontrolling to me. I'd rather wade thru trolling and flames than a slowed-down site.
posted by konolia at 3:05 PM on January 24, 2008


If it is OK to suppress the instinct to steal, and murder, and rape, and basically engage in the nastier, brutish parts of nature, why is looking at boobs any different?

I did not equate looking at boobs with violence and murder. Way to strawman. I said all are instinctual, but we are able to repress our instincts for some and yet find it offensive to be asked to repress our instincts for another.

It's true that you didn't equate them, but the chasm between equating and what you did rhetorically is short and shallow.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:06 PM on January 24, 2008


But,...I can't believe HMS has gone! This is a great loss for MeFi, I seriously hope she considers returning.

i wonder whether people who commit virtual suicide like that return to lurk on the thread, like ghosts at their own funerals?

and where do these disembodied spirits go? something awful? fark? do they reincarnate here? or is there a metafilter heaven? if so, what is it like? do we get 84 celestial maidens each (or manpower dudes, depending on which way you swing), but endowed with awesome scrabble-playing abilities and a penchant for anime cosplay?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:08 PM on January 24, 2008


it was a joke, duh. americans just don't get irony

Either that or you're just not funny.
posted by dersins at 3:08 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I am so sick of these fragile flower feminists who get the vapors when a guy goes into boyzone behavior. I respect myself. You should respect me, but if you don't, that's your problem, not mine.

Wait, wait, wait. So we're not only fragile but we're FLOWERS? Ooooh, I hope I'm a tulip.

The real world is filled with guys who say incredibly stupid, hurtful and sexist things about women in the aggregate. If I let that get to me, I'd be nothing but a shrieking harridan. I would much rather simply laugh and point at them, and go about my business. I don't like it when they stare at my butt, but I'm not going to have a nervous breakdown about it.

So basically what you're saying is that boys are just acting the way boys are and you put up with it because you know it ain't going to get better anytime soon. To me that sounds more defeatist than anything else. If we all acted the same way then many of the rights we have now (that we take for granted) wouldn't even exist. So, I'm sorry if my delicate sensitivites are getting in the way of you ignoring guys staring at your butt but by your own logis, that's your problem, not mine.
posted by liquorice at 3:08 PM on January 24, 2008 [17 favorites]


Option 1: Three hundred million people don't understand your brilliant comic stylings. Option 2: Your comic stylings aren't all that brilliant.
Hmm.... I wonder which option William of Ockham would choose...

posted by dersins at 3:08 PM on January 24, 2008


Standing up to inappropriate behavior is Fragile Flower Feminist behavior? Looks like I've acquired a new descriptor, then.

I don't think Metafilter is a boyzone, which is why I hang out here, and why I'm not about to passively let it turn into one, either. I'm grateful for thehmsbeagle for posting this and I'm sorry she's left. I hope she'll be back.

Just to establish credentials- I like men, sex, even porn. I also find describing breasts as sweater stuffers or snuggle puppies incredibly inappropriate in this context.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:10 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Someone disagreeing with you doesn't make them weak.

No, it doesn't. But someone who can't handle disagreement and closes their account very well might.

I see a difference between someone who chooses not to go on a thread-and I have done this myself on some threads where I KNOW I am the only one who feels a certain way on the topic-and someone who just decides to delete their account and leave. Come on, that is ridiculous.

Maybe it's because I am old enough to remember the bad old days when women could be teachers and nurses and secretaries but not much else. When the want ads had different sections for "men's jobs" and "women's jobs." Maybe, just maybe, I cannot waste my indignation on the fact someone dared to use a silly name for breasts. Big freaking deal.
posted by konolia at 3:10 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I almost think we need to purposely slow down posting on threads with more than 200 comments to force users to read previous stuff or think before they hit the post button.

A per-user comment throttle would be an interesting mechanism. Say, a user is only allowed to comment in a given thread twice in any 20 minute period.
posted by tkolar at 3:11 PM on January 24, 2008


Come on, that is ridiculous.

No, it's not ridiculous. When faced with an unenjoyable situation, it might be a very sane, strong response.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:13 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


mathowie: out of curiosity, have the really long threads which weren't about sexism resulted in as many account closings? Is it the mega-threads or the difficult subject?
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:13 PM on January 24, 2008


Let me clarify. If you stare at my butt and I catch you doing it, there will be hell to pay, and I will be the cashier. (Unless you are my husband and in that case, carry on.) I just get sick of hearing the whining followed then by the closing of accounts. STAY AND ARGUE or I will continue to think of you as a fragile flower.
posted by konolia at 3:13 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia- so you just have a lower bar than the rest of us?
posted by small_ruminant at 3:13 PM on January 24, 2008


konolia, I can dig that you're comparing today to the bad old days and thinking, "hey, it's better now". I think a lot of folks are looking at today and hoping that they'll have the same benefit of anti-nostalgia a similar interval into the future. From that perspective, belittling people who've decided to close their account on a website for not sharing your take on the situation comes off as pretty damned lousy, however comfortable you may be here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:15 PM on January 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


"We're not thought police. You don't have the right to think these certain thoughts."

These aren't the droids ovoids you're looking for.


fixed &c
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:17 PM on January 24, 2008


konolia writes "Come on, that is ridiculous. "

"I know you hate being here, but leaving is ridiculous! You should stay even though you aren't getting paid and you hate staying here!"
posted by Bugbread at 3:21 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


out of curiosity, have the really long threads which weren't about sexism resulted in as many account closings? Is it the mega-threads or the difficult subject?

Honestly, the self-closure thing is new enough that we haven't really had a lot of really contentious social-policy threads—the sexism threads are the ones that stand out in my mind since its inception. So it's hard to say if it's restricted to this, or if it's just that this is the only sample data we have.

I can't remember there being any clumps of closing-of-accounts in threads other than this one and the previous megaplex sexism discussion, for what it's worth.

Every now and then since the feature went live, someone closes their account, sometimes with a comment and sometimes without. Comments are generally personal, common thread being neutral "spending too much time on mefi" or "time to move on" stuff. So these spikes, small as they are (three today, seemingly all reactions to this discussion or at least to site issues associated with it), are kind of blinkworthy and shitty to behold. As much as closing an account may seem like an outlier choice, I really hate to see it happening and bear zero ill will towards the folks who decide to step away from the site of their own free will.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:21 PM on January 24, 2008


A per-user comment throttle would be an interesting mechanism. Say, a user is only allowed to comment in a given thread twice in any 20 minute period.

Unworkable. This wouldn't be very fair at all to someone whose comment was getting piled on.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:22 PM on January 24, 2008


Cortex, I have probably taken more crap-aimed at me personally- than anyone else on this site ever has, albeit on a different topic-but I am still here, and I enjoy the site just fine. I simply fail to see what has happened that was so awful that a member felt they had to close their account. Sorry, I just don't get it. And they cannot explain it to me, because THEY AREN"T HERE TO DO IT.

And yes, to your other point. Things used to be really, really bad if you were female. Can things get better? Certainly. But the guys who are looking at us as walking vaginas are not going to be changed into respectable gentlemen just because we argue them into it. I think it is more useful to simply be the strong people that we are, calling them out when appropriate, and meanwhile understanding that having pet names for body parts is not exactly the same thing as treating a PERSON like a walking body part.

I guess I am having a hard time explaining what I see as the difference, not to mention that the calling out of what seems to be objectionable comments many times seems to me to reek of hysteria, which to me is kinda silly.

Just my take.
posted by konolia at 3:23 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Konolia, maybe life would be easier if all women could reach your state of Zen. However, it feels like to me when guys are defending these little sexist practices--and yeah, they are little--they are basically defending the same culture that produces people who do much more monstrous things to others on the basis of gender. I remember in the sexism thread, where someone said something along the lines of maybe if guys would check each other about the small things, the bigger, more overtly criminal things wouldn't happen. Because if you've got friends who say "Dude, not cool" when you grab a strange chick's ass, you know you will be ostracized if you talk about that totally drunk freshman you slipped roofies to last night. The "Broken Windows" theory of social conditioning, I guess.

I think there is a lot of merit to that. So it upsets me, yes, it really does, when guys not only participate in this sort of "Ha ha, Sexism!" behavior during a serious discussion, but jump on people for complaining about it.

The written word doesn't work like real life. The ribbing and the jokes you make to your friends don't translate well here without accompanying physical cues. If you met me, if you knew me the way "real life" people know me, you wouldn't have any clue how to make the connection between Lady Dykes-A-Lot or whatever I am here and Me. I have shocked the frattiest of frat boys because "off-color" does not begin to approach some of the horrible, horrible things I say. But I generally don't bring that here, because you can't hear me, you can't see my body language, you only know me through the random crap I post about exercise programs or puppies or dating or politics or favorite jams and jellies. So I would rather fight these battles upfront, with my direct opinion, instead of going along with the fun and hoping everyone stays on the same page.

Sorry Brandon, my temper's up. I'm going to back away from this thread now.
posted by schroedinger at 3:24 PM on January 24, 2008 [12 favorites]


(And someone asked: the other two folks who closed their accounts were zebra3, who was clearly upset by some of this discussion today, and occhiblu, who left a kind note that had a shade of "hopefully this is just a break" to it. And I really hope that's turns out to be the case.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:24 PM on January 24, 2008


??????? !!!!!!!!!!

Dammit.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:27 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, it's not ridiculous. When faced with an unenjoyable situation, it might be a very sane, strong response.

When somebody using the wrong term for breasts makes the whole site unenjoyable then you really are too delicate for associating with anything but a small group of well known individuals.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:27 PM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Cortex, I have to respectfully disagree here. Isn't konolia saying "the cure for bad speech is more speech"? And isn't that right (occasional MeFi censorship notwithstanding?) We're not talking about physical threats or even uncomfortable gazes here, we're talking about words, and I think konolia's point (maybe, though I wouldn't presume to speak for her) is that if you are fighting the good fight with words, then walking away is cowardly--or at least "fragile". If you believe in your position -- which hmsb clearly did -- don't you owe it to yourself to continue to support it?

I suppose the response to that (which someone said above) is: MeFi is supposed to be fun, not work. That's totally valid as well, but in threads like this (and yes, before anyone calls me out, I'm still reading this thread, even though I wish it had never happened, now that Jessamyn has schooled me on my misunderstanding of the reason for the flag) I think it's also valid to suggest that you should hang around and try to change some minds. This particular thread has had some assholes in it, but it's also had some very supportive feminists in it -- of all stripes.
posted by The Bellman at 3:29 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know these threads depress a lot of people, but I always find them encouraging. This is the exact opposite of apathy, which I think is a far greater crime than squabbling.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:29 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


When somebody using the wrong term for breasts

That is a willful misunderstanding of the issues presented in this thread.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:30 PM on January 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


occhiblu? Aw, crap!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:31 PM on January 24, 2008


kittens for breakfast wrote...
A per-user comment throttle would be an interesting mechanism. Say, a user is only allowed to comment in a given thread twice in any 20 minute period.
Unworkable. This wouldn't be very fair at all to someone whose comment was getting piled on.


I don't think I could have come up with a better example for when this would be *exactly* the right mechanism. The whole point is to give people time to cool off, and the people who need that the most are those who are getting piled on.

If the only way you can defend your words is via instant comebacks, then maybe you shouldn't be posting them.
posted by tkolar at 3:32 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia writes "Cortex, I have probably taken more crap-aimed at me personally- than anyone else on this site ever has, albeit on a different topic"

d---, p---- p------, A--- R-------, and a few others would probably beg to disagree.

konolia writes "I simply fail to see what has happened that was so awful that a member felt they had to close their account. Sorry, I just don't get it."

Reiterating, then, one possibility: they realized that not being here was a more enjoyable use of their time than being here.
posted by Bugbread at 3:33 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


How about time-outs for some of the jerks in this thread to balance the loss of three excellent members?
posted by Rumple at 3:33 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well this sucks. I was hoping that having callouts like this one would be the way to change the behavior, convince people that they are actually effecting real people they would stop because they value the community here, even if (or especially if) they disagree with some of the members. Now HMS quit and Mr. Sensitive Erectile Tissue is still moping about trying to annoy people into retracting their views or quitting.
posted by shothotbot at 3:34 PM on January 24, 2008


If you believe in your position -- which hmsb clearly did -- don't you owe it to yourself to continue to support it?

Yes, of course. Repeatedly. In 1000+ comment threads. You're obligated to keep trying to make a point that not only falls on deaf ears, but results in allegations of hysteria and fragile flower status and humorlessness &c.

The reason people closed their accounts, I'm assuming, is that NOTHING EVER CHANGES. (Well, there were some small strides after the previous threads. But this one? Backsliding, man. Backsliding.)

How long do women have to keep saying "this shit stinks and it makes the place uncomfortable for me, could we talk about it"? Seriously. Is there a time at which things will magically feel better to the people who have been fighting this "good fight"?

If so, please let the some of us know so we can put it on the calendar, because this shit gets really, really old and really, really tiring.

There's no harm in walking away from it. It's almost the only sensible option, at this point.

[/relurks]
posted by mudpuppie at 3:35 PM on January 24, 2008 [10 favorites]


A--- R-------

Astro Rombie?
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:35 PM on January 24, 2008


occhiblu?!?!?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:37 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


(sorry, zebra3. i have no idea who you were)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:37 PM on January 24, 2008


and hosted from Uranus: from here it seems more and more like expression is being curtailed in the name of "being welcoming". Ironically, it's like achieving consensus has overtaken tolerance of a variety of voices as a top priority. It's really not the metafilter I grew up with.

Variety of voices? "Variety" meaning, as jessamyn observed, boys act[ing] like there's no other sort of people here and aren't using normal sort of courtesy as if they were in some other semi-public place.

The rest of her coment bears repeating, too:
Mathowie uses the analogy about the bunch of guys who rib each other and call each other "fag" and then when one of them turns out to have a gay brother and asks them to stop... they're sort of jerks if they're like "whatever FAG" instead of being like "oh the circumstances have changed, maybe we could be a little bit more courteous about this." It's not hyperpoliteness and it's not PC-anything, it's being appropriate to whatever the situation is -- the AskMe thread about swearing on a first date was fascinating for this because people's idea of what's appropriate is all over the place -- to encourage wider participation by ALL members of the community.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:39 PM on January 24, 2008


...I have to say, I've been keeping an eye on this thread throughout the day. By the time I've scrolled all the way down, I always find myself slouching a little more, with my jacket pulled closed and an arm folded over my chest.

It's not a particularly good feeling.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:39 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


How long do women have to keep saying "this shit stinks and it makes the place uncomfortable for me, could we talk about it"? Seriously.

But what do you call multiple thousand+ post threads if not "talking about it"? Isn't that exactly what everyone in this thread is doing? All I can figure is that "talk about" is a euphemism for "agree with".

(Note that I think the sweater puppies comment was not cool, I'm just agog that people don't think they're allowed to talk about something that has spawned more comments than anything else in the history of metafilter when you add up the last couple of threads.
posted by Justinian at 3:39 PM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


That is a willful misunderstanding of the issues presented in this thread.

No, its not.

This all started from a single askme question which was essentially harmless and happened to illicit a couple of answers with language that some people didn't like.

If they had been flagged they probably would have been deleted, i would say certainly if enough flags piled up considering all the sexism talk recently.

But instead someone just had to bring it to the grey to start another discussion that was thouroughly exhausted very recently and which was never going to go well, and when that discussion didn't go exactly to that users liking (in spite of most people being in at least broad agreement with her or at least handling their disagreement respectfully) they decide to just close their account.

Seems like someone wanted some attention and flamed out, nothing new there.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:40 PM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised and shocked about occiblu.

And very, very, VERY disappointed.


Yes, of course. Repeatedly. In 1000+ comment threads. You're obligated to keep trying to make a point that not only falls on deaf ears, but results in allegations of hysteria and fragile flower status and humorlessness &c.

OR you could log off, go make a cup of coffee, do a load of laundry or make a phone call, and come back later after the stupid thread goes offstream.

Closing an account doesn't make sexism go away. You walk out your front door or turn on the tv and it'll be right there in your face. At least here you can speak your piece without anyone cutting you off or talking over you.
posted by konolia at 3:40 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


konolia: And I have no respect for any of them. Good grief, these are words on a screen, people. ... But someone who can't handle disagreement and closes their account very well might [be weak and not worthy of respect].

Hmm. So you feel that way about EB and quonsar, too?
posted by CKmtl at 3:42 PM on January 24, 2008


I know these threads depress a lot of people, but I always find them encouraging.

Please don't lump this thread in with the very civilized and forward-looking threads that happened just before Christmas. Despite some bright spots, this thread started badly and just went downhill from there.

I've noticed over the years that "issue" threads in Metatalk seem to fit one of these two profiles. The forward-looking threads are few and far between but do happen; threads like this, where the major purpose appears to be for everyone to blow off steam, happen a lot more often.

Given Metatalk's dual purposes of being an administrative hub and giving users a place to vent, I suppose everything is functioning as designed. Sigh...
posted by tkolar at 3:43 PM on January 24, 2008


ut what do you call multiple thousand+ post threads if not "talking about it"? Isn't that exactly what everyone in this thread is doing? All I can figure is that "talk about" is a euphemism for "agree with".

It's not necessary for everyone to agree on all topics. But threads like this seem to bring out a lot of disrespect, rudeness, and dismissive attitudes, and I think that's what makes people decide to leave in the end.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:43 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


HEY EVERYBODY!

THERE'S A THREAD ON ANAL BLEACHING OVER ON THE BLUE!

C'MON, LET'S TAKE THIS PARTY OVER THERE!
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:44 PM on January 24, 2008


You know, as much as part of me dislikes the fallout and increase in acrimony of threads like this, another part of me would love to see how the current large MeFi audience and more outspoken members would handle the rape haiku thread.
posted by Bugbread at 3:44 PM on January 24, 2008


Metafilter:disrespect, rudeness and dismissive attitudes.
posted by konolia at 3:45 PM on January 24, 2008


Oh. My. God. I need a fucking smoke. This is getting way out of hand.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:46 PM on January 24, 2008


I suppose you're right, tkolar. You remember when callouts would lead to people threatening to cut their arms off and then flaming out?

Man, those were great.

Seriously, though, building bridges is a messy affair; building community even more so. It's only a few weeks after the last sexism thread. This one was bound to be murkier, because changes take time. In the blue, I'm seeing a lot fewer "I'd hit it" style comments. None, actually, although I presume there are a few that I miss because they're being deleted.

This thread isn't a failure. It's just a mess.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:47 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Closing an account doesn't make sexism go away. You walk out your front door or turn on the tv and it'll be right there in your face.

I don't know about you, but I don't watch TV that offends me and I don't associate with any people quite as nasty as some of the people in this thread, so were I to leave (and I'm not, so don't pull out the party hats yet!), a huge mountain of negativity would disappear from my life forever. Poof! What's unattractive about that?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:47 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


you should hang around and try to change some minds.

My theory about why these threads are such account-closing magnets is that each one is like Groundhog Day. There are a bunch of them, full of women and men trying to make their points without taking any of the bait, but if you don't take care to notice the infinitesimally subtle changes in the dialogue over time, each one can look like all of that past communication has been wiped away and the conversation has been reset to zero, with all of the "hey ladies, what's the problem, it's just a compliment, a man can't help it!" looping. The quote above is kind of unintentionally funny: many of the people who cancelled their accounts put a lot of effort into hanging around and repeatedly trying to change people's minds in many threads on this subject, but they apparently weren't getting an outcome that made it feel like a smart effort.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:49 PM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


I think part of the disappointment some people feel is that they're raised (as I was, I guess) with the idea that if people could just sit down and discuss an issue in depth, it would result in consensus. Subconsciously, most people think of it more as "if we could just sit down and discuss an issue in depth, I could totally convince you why I'm right". It rarely works out like that.
posted by Bugbread at 3:51 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think it is fine to leave if you don’t like it here anymore, but kind of creepy to cancel your account and then come back in to see people lamenting your departure. That is way too much like fantasizing about viewing your own funeral after your suicide.
posted by langedon at 3:52 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


tkolar, it's an interesting idea, but I think that what would happen is that people would take up the side of the muzzled poster, whereas now one might think, "Eh, Embattled Poster is handling stuff fine. Doesn't need my help."

Not that I think this is necessarily a bad thing. I think about how much work I've let occhiblu and hmsbeagle do in defending positions that I agree with, and I'm a little embarrassed at myself. Not that it's going to be my day job to be a First-in-the-line-of-fire Fragile Feminist Flower (can I be an artichoke? hooray!), and not that I'm so long-time a Mefite that I think I'd make any kind of an impression in people anyway -- still, I've definitely been aware of both of them out there saying things that I was too lazy and cowardly to say myself. Looks to me like they stepped up and then they burned out. I can't blame them. I can't help but think that I should have done some more stepping up myself from time to time.

If you two are out there, thank you.

(zebra3 I hadn't gotten such a picture of, but glancing over some AskMe answers I get an image of a generally kind and helpful person. Another loss.)
posted by sculpin at 3:53 PM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


OR you could log off, go make a cup of coffee, do a load of laundry or make a phone call,

Right on, sisters. Fight the power through doing laundry.
posted by Rumple at 3:53 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not necessary for everyone to agree on all topics. But threads like this seem to bring out a lot of disrespect, rudeness, and dismissive attitudes, and I think that's what makes people decide to leave in the end.

Thing is, this is a community and in any and every community there are people and attitudes, beliefs and opinions we don't agree with and even find offensive.

Part of a community is learning to rub along in spite of all our perceived differences. And in an online community that really is ridiculously easy. As soon as you get a whiff of something you don't like you are able to scroll past it. Or you can flag it, or you can engage with it.

In the end its only words, nobody is being ogled, nobody is being groped. Half the time you might not even know what gender the other users are!

I swear to god, before today i thought you were a guy.

That is what kind of gets my goat in these threads, the fact that people can't just get on with things, ok so you didn't like the joke someone made, does it really matter? The mods have already displayed a wish to tackle sexism and a willingness to delete sexist comments, if the flagging system was used more these long nasty threads wouldn't happen nearly as often.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:53 PM on January 24, 2008


Half the time you might not even know what gender the other users are!

That's true. Most people don't know that Astro Zombie 3 is female.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:55 PM on January 24, 2008


I think it is fine to leave if you don’t like it here anymore, but kind of creepy to cancel your account and then come back in to see people lamenting your departure. That is way too much like fantasizing about viewing your own funeral after your suicide.

No comment on the assertion, but there's no indication that anyone has done that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:56 PM on January 24, 2008


No comment on the assertion, but there's no indication that anyone has done that.

Didn't you see the curtains move over by the casket? THE WINDOW IS CLOSED!
posted by langedon at 3:59 PM on January 24, 2008


This is all very discouraging. It's really pretty unbelievable to me that the sort of cavalier misogynistic behavior in both the original AskMe and in this thread has so many supporters. And now we've lost some very valuable contributers to the site as well. It's a bad day for Metafilter. And for the record, the term "sweater puppies" makes me cringe. Grow up, boys.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:01 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Right on, sisters. Fight the power through doing laundry.

EVERYBODY does laundry, my friend. As to the comment, it simply happens to be what I myself am doing at the moment. I also had a cup of coffee and made a phone call. The HORROR!
posted by konolia at 4:02 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


nd I'm not, so don't pull out the party hats yet!

You're probably joking, but it should be pointed that no one has been doing high fiving and "thank god she's gone".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:02 PM on January 24, 2008


Oddly, on the site I edit, it is exclusively the female posters who use the phrase "sweater puppies." Before this thread, I'd never heard a man use it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:03 PM on January 24, 2008


Holy crap. There is so much about this that sucks.
posted by goo at 4:04 PM on January 24, 2008


Can we have firebreaks on user comments? After a thread reaches 100 comments on Metatalk it goes into lock down for 3 hours? I suppose there could be a kill switch for really good threads, such as GiveWell, but allowing people to cool off and stop engaging in chatroom back-and-forth would go a long way in easing tensions and stopping some sinister asshole behavior. It would be nice to try it. I suppose you could get fancy and pick a random number so that users wouldn't know where the kill switch is and try to game it with a shitty comment that no one can respond to (or just delete those comments entirely). It would seem rather simple to write code that choses to lock a thread beforehand and at 96 or 104 or whatever the comment number is. Perhaps that is a bit too complex, but the idea of firebreaks should at least help sooth tensions and keep crap like this from cropping up.
posted by geoff. at 4:05 PM on January 24, 2008


Right on, sisters. Fight the power through doing laundry.
posted by Rumple at 6:53 PM on January 24 [+] [!]

Eponysterical? Or do I just suck at laundry?
posted by The Bellman at 4:06 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


When people leave because of frustration and struggle here, it makes me think they didn't care enough about the struggle. I UNLOADED on EB over that, privately, and I think no one will ever get that kind of riding from me again, no one I can think of would ever be as painful a surrender. But I'm just a newbie. So, say Mefi is a community, rife with trouble and rich tradition, a post-Katrina New Orleans. Do you stay or do you go?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:08 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I realize that nobody gives a shit about a low-volume poster like myself, but I spent a good long time staring at the close account page last night and ended up not closing my account so I could read without the ads and using the plain theme. Also so I could post this apparently. Wonder how many people have fucked off without anyone noticing.
posted by stet at 4:08 PM on January 24, 2008 [9 favorites]


Reggie Knoble writes "Thing is, this is a community and in any and every community there are people and attitudes, beliefs and opinions we don't agree with and even find offensive."

Yeah, but different communities have these to different degrees. There are a lot of things I'm interested in whose communities I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole because the number and degree of people and attitudes, beliefs and opinions that I find offensive. For someone to insist that a community must be pristine and perfect to stay is silly. But to say that because all communities have some bad stuff, you shouldn't leave a community that you consider has too much bad stuff is also silly.
posted by Bugbread at 4:09 PM on January 24, 2008


Hello hmsbeagle. You and I have never met, but it was a brilliant comment of yours that inspired me to finally send in my five bucks and become a paying member after years of lurking. Granted, my choice of username and the reasoning behind it were misunderstood (or poorly thought out, and I won't deny that charge) but it was your words and intelligence that made me desire to join this community as a member, so thank you for that. Perhaps my really high usernumber and recent join date can't prove my years of lurking and give me no right to make a post such as this, but fuck it, I'm doin' it anyway.

I understand your desire to post this callout. I missed some of the now-removed offensive posts in that thread but saw enough of them to understand. The folks who are sighing "this again?" seem to have missed the point entirely. I think the AskMe question was a valid one, though. I can't/won't speak for other men, but I'm a man and my eyes are drawn to cleavage, though I don't stare. Apparently the poster of that question has the same quirk desired some tips on how to not be rude. The best of intentions on his part (and I do earnestly believe the poster had good intentions) were not enough to keep some people from acting like assholes. Such is metafilter, non?

I agree with this callout of the offensive answers, and wish that this thread had stayed on topic. If the askme had contained only one or two bad answers, flagging and moving on would be appropriate, but this was not the case, so here we are, as well we should be. But it seems that different people see different things going on in this thread. For example, where some people see rah-rah-misogyny I see people weary of discussing a subject they feel has been done to death. There's no way to change minds on the validity of that view, so ignore them if possible. But it seems it wasn't possible.

The crowd in #bunnies will be glad to inform you that I can come across as a real asshole. On the surface I'll grant that I can seem like a chauvanistic prick, sometimes by ironical intention sometimes not. But here, now, I pledge to do my durndest to excise such behavior from my metafilter life if you'd come back and listen to the people like languagehat, klangklangston and other men who get it and want to create a respectful community with you as a member. Please come back. The same to anyone else who quit but may still be reading.

Your pal,
w.
posted by waraw at 4:09 PM on January 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


Now that I think about it, haven't we men done enough damage to this planet through the last 2,000 years? Why don't the women take the helm for a while. Globally I mean.

I'm reminded of a short (sci-fi) story I read in high school about 24 people that were sent to go colonize a planet and it was assumed that twenty of the people were men and four were women. Then at the end in a crazy twist it was revealed that there were twenty women and the four guys were for breeding stock. I don't recall who it was by or what the name was.

Anyways, I think it's time for a global paradigm shift.
posted by chugg at 4:16 PM on January 24, 2008


Now that I think about it, haven't we men done enough damage to this planet through the last 2,000 years?

Let's not. I lived in England under Thatcher. Gender is meaningless when it comes to being a bad leader.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:18 PM on January 24, 2008 [11 favorites]


But to say that because all communities have some bad stuff, you shouldn't leave a community that you consider has too much bad stuff is also silly.

That is absolutely fair enough. I just find it hard to see how anyone can leave due to this "boyzone" stuff without being really oversensitive.

I have been reading this site for a lot longer than i have been a paid up member and it has never seemed like that was much of an issue to me, and in recent times has become even less of one.

People obvoiously have different opinions and tolerences but in the specific case of the askme that started this thread off it seems to me like flagging the shit out of the specific responses that a lot of people took issue with would have seen them nuked.

Taking an issue to the grey is always risky because this is where the gloves come off, the rules are relaxed here and people are pretty much at liberty to be assholes and the type of user who keeps an eye on whats happening here are the most likely to get into a pissing contest.

After having well over a thousand posts on the topic of sexism recently i am convinced that flagging those askme posts would have taken care of the problem and done so in a way that wouldn't have pissed off more than the two or three users whose comments got deleted.

People just need to chill and decide if they want an issue taken care of in the most efficient, least antagonistic manner or if they want to start a ruckus over their chosen issue. If they choose the latter they really need to have a thick skin.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:20 PM on January 24, 2008


the weird hostility and rah-rah-misogyny that has permeated this thread

Are you talking about the AskMe thread, or misreading this one?

I almost think we need to purposely slow down posting on threads with more than 200 comments to force users to read previous stuff or think before they hit the post button.

I was inclined to say "hell no," until I read this gem:

You utter assholes.…You are a bunch of fucking brats, complaining to your parents when they ask you to say please and thank you--only now that you are adults you think breaking the bounds of common decency is edgy and hip and striking a blow against the Feminist Conspiracy Against Penises. They have the right to vote! They have that sexism flag! Why are those uptight humorless bitches still complaining?

You're seeing things that aren't there.

I did not equate looking at boobs with violence and murder. Way to strawman. I said all are instinctual, but we are able to repress our instincts for some and yet find it offensive to be asked to repress our instincts for another.

You weren't equating them, but you were treating them as the same thing? (Area Woman Not Yelling at You, She's Just Saying.)
posted by oaf at 4:20 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Reggie Knoble writes "That is absolutely fair enough. I just find it hard to see how anyone can leave due to this 'boyzone' stuff without being really oversensitive."

Ok, cool, I was just misreading you, then. We disagree about whether it's oversensitivity, but that's just a matter of personal disagreement, not illogic.
posted by Bugbread at 4:26 PM on January 24, 2008


It's a pity hms left after a valid call-out. Comments like "GAWK at the snuggle-puppies" and "you cannot look into a woman's eyes as if she were a man. That is just preposterous." are pathetic.
posted by ersatz at 4:29 PM on January 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


The mothership sexism threads were amazing and generally uplifting.

This thread is poisonous and bears no relationship to the (recent) originals. Kill it. Kill it dead.
posted by peacay at 4:40 PM on January 24, 2008


I just find it hard to see how anyone can leave due to this "boyzone" stuff without being really oversensitive.

I've been looking at that "close account" button and I'm an employee. I don't think it's really oversensitive, imo. However, I do mostly agree with this.

People just need to chill and decide if they want an issue taken care of in the most efficient, least antagonistic manner or if they want to start a ruckus over their chosen issue. If they choose the latter they really need to have a thick skin.

Everyone who wants to realistically discuss this topic and stick around for follow-ups may need to be able to actually skip over the more noxious comments and be able to comment without getting your jabs in. It's really really hard though and I'm not surprised some people just aren't up to it when they're dealing with their whole other lives at the same time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:43 PM on January 24, 2008 [8 favorites]

Now that I think about it, haven't we men done enough damage to this planet through the last 2,000 years?

Let's not. I lived in England under Thatcher. Gender is meaningless when it comes to being a bad leader.
You know, I'm really grateful to that woman for finally killing the essentialist canard that said that women were loving earth mothers who would create a cooperative, caring matriarchal utopia if we could ever just get our hands on power. I think she staked that one dead. That might be the only good thing I can think of to say about her.
posted by craichead at 4:46 PM on January 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


No, no, not Occhiblu!

This is a terrible loss!

OK mathowie, how about making the 'close your account' button trigger an automatic one day time out, which only becomes permanent if you return within 72 hours to confirm it?
posted by jamjam at 4:48 PM on January 24, 2008


Wait... hmsbeagle disabled her account now?

Man... when gender sensitivity is the subject, this place sure has a knack for making people give up and flee sometimes.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:51 PM on January 24, 2008


stet writes "Wonder how many people have fucked off without anyone noticing."

Judging by the info dumps and analysis from yesterday it's in the thousands possibly even approaching 10K. However none of them slammed the screen door on the way out so as you observed no one noticed.
posted by Mitheral at 4:52 PM on January 24, 2008


Taking an issue to the grey is always risky because this is where the gloves come off, the rules are relaxed here and people are pretty much at liberty to be assholes and the type of user who keeps an eye on whats happening here are the most likely to get into a pissing contest.

And that's just ill-advised, because the girls have no chance whatsoever of beating the boys in a pissing contest.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:52 PM on January 24, 2008


Sorry to move the discussion away from the main issue at hand and off to what is probably a minor point, but out of curiosity, what is the practical purpose of closing your account? As in, what's the motivation for closing your account outright vs. just choosing to not actively participate on and/or read the site anymore? Is it to eliminate the temptation to jump back into the fray? A symbolic gesture of protest? A way to avoid nasty MeMail?

I'm not asking with any hidden agenda (as I hope my first two comments in this thread indicate, I'm clearly with thehmsbeagle on this one, so this isn't intended as a veiled criticism of her or anyone else who has closed their accounts), just something I've been wondering about for awhile and this seemed as logical a place as any to ask.
posted by The Gooch at 5:01 PM on January 24, 2008


And that's just ill-advised, because the girls have no chance whatsoever of beating the boys in a pissing contest.

I don't understand this. I'm not in favor of pissing contests, but why not?
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:02 PM on January 24, 2008


Unfortunately there's no way to find out who the posters of the deleted comments were, but I would be fascinated to see the overlap between posters to that thread and this thread, and in fact to see if the deleted posters from that thread had ever posted in MeTa at all.

No matter how many times we go over this topic in MeTa, for the vast bulk of Mefites the only way they'll ever know about it is an occasional change to the flagging structure and having a comment deleted out from under them.

Anyone looking for immediate social change is pretty much doomed to disappointment.

[runs off to statistics thread to work out what percentage of users never post to, and presumably never read MeTa]
posted by tkolar at 5:04 PM on January 24, 2008


Is it to eliminate the temptation to jump back into the fray?

Judging from past history, this is probably mostly it, with maybe a component of visible finality in "account disabled" that's less dramatic than a Farewell World profile update.

People had written to us now and then over the years to get an account closed, either temporarily or permanently. Now that we've got the close account button, we pretty much don't see it happen, and I'd say the overall rate of the action hasn't changed significantly since the changeover to the new system.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:07 PM on January 24, 2008


Astro Zombie:

As a matter of pure biology, men on average have significantly larger bladders (no uterus crowding things) when it comes to volume, and of course their equipment is much more conducive to victory in the distance and accuracy contests.

Unless the contest is one of average frequency of discrete urination 'events' over the course of a standard day, I'm afraid that men just win the pissing contest. Sorry :(
posted by Ryvar at 5:07 PM on January 24, 2008


You don't have my prostate.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:11 PM on January 24, 2008


Some might dispute the accuracy claim.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:12 PM on January 24, 2008


what's the motivation for closing your account outright vs. just choosing to not actively participate on and/or read the site anymore?

A lot of people requested that there was something they could do to close their account when they were done with the site. I had always said "gee, you just leave, you don't have to click anything" and a lot of people kept pointing me to other systems like twitter and blogger and facebook and how they all have a "close my account" option and that lacking one at MeFi was a gross oversight. I agreed, only because I found myself wanting to bail out of a web community about six months ago and not having the ability to (while getting annoying email everyday about the site). I eventually caved to the demands and let people chose to close their account if they felt the need to. Also, since the site started we've had people ask to be banned from the site, so they could finish a class, dissertation, or some work, with the promise of returning again someday and having a way to do that at 2am by choice seemed like a better option than waiting for me to wake up and do it for you.

Anyone that closed their account can have it re-enabled if they email us and ask and I think I recall a couple people have done that before.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:13 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't understand this. I'm not in favor of pissing contests, but why not?

LOLCHICKSDONTSTANDWHENTHEYPEE.

I am so sad about so much of the ugliness in this thread, and much of the ugliness I've seen on Mefi in general lately. And I'm terribly sad that HMSBeagle and occhblu both decided they'd had e-fuckin-nough -- but even worse, I'm not terribly surprised.

If expecting common decency in this community makes me a fragile feminist flower, then count me in as a fucking bouquet.
posted by scody at 5:14 PM on January 24, 2008 [14 favorites]


"And I have no respect for any of them. Good grief, these are words on a screen, people. You don't agree with them? Put your OWN words on a screen and stand up for yourself."

Yeah, counterpoint: You got banned over a pretty heavy freakout. You really wanna explore the line between the poster and the person?

But man, am I glad I went off and relaxed last night instead of continuing to engage the bullshit here (stand by my point of Ubu not knowing fuckall about gaze theory, though, and with his constant "irony," I don't feel much like wading back in on it).
posted by klangklangston at 5:17 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]



So what we've learned from all this is:

* If you can't post a Askme comment without being a jackass, then don't post the comment.

* Men and women are different. If someone from the opposite sex is asking for advice and you dont' understand why they're asking for advice, then perhaps you should be quiet and listen.

* Starting a fight on Meta will probably lead to fights. If your reaction to some things is "Should I burst into humiliated tears now or later?", maybe you shouldn't start fights.

On preview:
As in, what's the motivation for closing your account outright vs. just choosing to not actively participate on and/or read the site anymore

Sometimes people are just done, you know. The ratio of joy to pain swings too much in the pain direction and they've had enough.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:19 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


But I'm still confused as to whether we have actually resolved anything.

Have we decided that men are not allowed to post any AskMe questions that allude to echoes of past sexist behavior (despite explicitly wishing to learn how to remove said sexist allusions)?

Or that men are not allowed to post to said questions unless they are enlightened?

Clearly flagging the shit out of the idiots and getting their comments (rightly) deleted doesn't seem to be enough to keep people happy, so which is it?


Sorry to start to get all 'controversial', but change is slow, people. As has oft been said in this thread alone, significant improvements have been made with the progress (both on this site and globally) with respect to equality (of sorts) of the sexes. But to expect that, just because there was a long thread in MeTa a few weeks ago, therefore all idiots have been vanquished or reprogrammed is ridiculous. Flag the noise. beat them down if they read here, but don't be surprised if a thread that pops up next week gets some of the same idiots.

Just be disappointed if the same idiots are in equal number in 6 months. Clearly they are already proving to be slow learners, what on earth makes people think that telling them what twats they are will instantly turn off the Neanderthal in them? Slow progress doesn't mean that the cause is hopeless, it just means that the progress is slow...
posted by Brockles at 5:23 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


NOT CAVEMANIST.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:27 PM on January 24, 2008


This has all been very dramatic. I'm left with a nagging feeling of guilt, though, that I did nothing to contribute to the body count.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 5:28 PM on January 24, 2008


stand by my point of Ubu not knowing fuckall about gaze theory, though, and with his constant "irony," I don't feel much like wading back in on it

nah, i'd advise against wading into the aftermath of a pissing contest about gaze theory, especially with all the bullshit floating around in it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:29 PM on January 24, 2008


You know what's funny? I actually think the original question was a perfectly reasonable question and would in fact appreciate some tips on how not to stare at things you don't want to stare at, although boobies aren't my particular issue. Hell, if someone could give the OP good advice that would solve this problem for him, I'm sure that we'd all benefit, whether we're the starer or the stared at. I thought a lot of the responses, both there and here, were annoying, unhelpful, unfunny and/or sexist. But I don't have any problem with the OP or his question.
posted by craichead at 5:31 PM on January 24, 2008


The OP, "long haired lover from liverpool," is actually a woman, FYI.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 5:36 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some might dispute the accuracy claim.

Clearly there are amateurs in *every* field of human endeavor.
posted by Ryvar at 5:36 PM on January 24, 2008


Brockles, this callout was NOT objecting to the AskMe question. It objected to stupid jokey answers. HMS didn't know that, at the same time as she was composing her explanation, cortex was starting to deal with some of the objectionable answers. (See the top of the thread and Comment #1.)

So "Have we decided that men are not allowed to post any AskMe questions that allude to echoes of past sexist behavior (despite explicitly wishing to learn how to remove said sexist allusions)? Or that men are not allowed to post to said questions unless they are enlightened?" - these questions haven't got anything to do with the original callout.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:37 PM on January 24, 2008


LOLBLOKESPEEASIFTHEYHAVEGARDENSPRINKLERSATTACHEDTOTHEENDSOFTHEIRDICKS!!1!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:37 PM on January 24, 2008


Have we decided that men are not allowed to post any AskMe questions that allude to echoes of past sexist behavior (despite explicitly wishing to learn how to remove said sexist allusions)?

The question and its asker were never the problem. The jokey non-answers, and the defense of those jokey non-answers here, were. The valid question about how to avoid looking down cleavage got hijacked into an excuse for some to wax poetic about the loveliness of cleavage.

Or that men are not allowed to post to said questions unless they are enlightened?

If your definition of 'enlightened' is 'able to restrain the urge to act like middle-schoolers', then yes. Well, they're 'allowed' to in that there's no proactive restraint put on them... but they shouldn't be surprised when their tripe gets canned.
posted by CKmtl at 5:42 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

The OP, "long haired lover from liverpool," is actually a woman, FYI.
Nope. In a previous question, LHLFL identifies himself as a 35-yo male.
posted by craichead at 5:43 PM on January 24, 2008


And that's just ill-advised, because the girls have no chance whatsoever of beating the boys in a pissing contest.

As a matter of pure biology, men on average have significantly larger bladders (no uterus crowding things) when it comes to volume, and of course their equipment is much more conducive to victory in the distance and accuracy contests.

Unless the contest is one of average frequency of discrete urination 'events' over the course of a standard day, I'm afraid that men just win the pissing contest. Sorry :(


Not remotely true.

A smaller bladder with similar degrees of muscularity will exert greater numbers of pounds per square inch, which equates to greater initial stream velocities. Moreover, women's piss passes through a shorter pipe than men's, which also gives greater potential stream velocity because it means less friction. Men have an advantage in being able to achieve the 45 degree upward angle which gives maximum range (over level ground) for a given velocity more easily, but this is an advantage that some females are apparently able to overcome readily enough in practice. I have read of a number of contests held that were won by girls by a large margin, and I've known one woman who was delighted to demonstrate that she could piss twice as far as I could.

When it comes to the circumstances of an actual contest, you might want to keep in mind the fact that men can't pee at all with erections, as well.
posted by jamjam at 5:43 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Brockles, this callout was NOT objecting to the AskMe question.

I'm fully aware of that. But where do you draw the line to remove the objectionable content?

The objectionable content was removed (by the current system of flagging as evidenced by the very first response in this thread). This was clearly not considered enough as the thread continued LONG after cortex's response, in fact it hadn't even got going, so perhaps the preference is that the nipping in the bud needs o be considered to be earlier? Perhaps by the removal of the chance of these comments appearing, being as the deletion of them wasn't enough to stop this thread (not from being started, but from going quite to badly).

Now, I'm not suggesting that this is a sensible option, by any means, I'm just intrigued that the flagging and deletion of the offensive content (the purported reason for the call out) didn't remove a damned bit of momentum from this thread.

Discuss.
posted by Brockles at 5:45 PM on January 24, 2008


Or that men are not allowed to post to said questions unless they are enlightened?" - these questions haven't got anything to do with the original callout.

And this question is entirely pertinent to the call out., actually. The first was an extrapolation.
posted by Brockles at 5:47 PM on January 24, 2008


I'm terribly sad that HMSBeagle and occhblu both decided they'd had e-fuckin-nough

Wait, occhiblu left too?

You know, when I first came on here I used to let stuff really upset me and I probably would've done the same. But over the years I've learned that if I'm getting that upset about a thread, it's time for me to just walk away. I don't close anything, but I'll just put this aside. For a day, for a week, for months, whatever. I walked away for over a year at one point. I try to do that when I need to, because time heals. And sometimes I look back on stuff later (when I'm calmer) and see things with a different perspective than when I'm emotional and in the middle of it. With distance, it becomes clearer that it's not life or death that people here see things my way. (Even though I am right. Ha!)

Anyhow I digress... there are people who close their accounts that I think add something here, and it's a shame they feel they have to leave in an instant because they can't handle it anymore. Many people will miss their comments and participation.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:47 PM on January 24, 2008


When it comes to the circumstances of an actual contest, you might want to keep in mind the fact that men can't pee at all with erections, as well.

not actually true in all cases.

getting back to the point, the contest itself would need to be clearly defined before we could properly speculate on the results. we've already had volume, distance, accuracy & frequency mentioned, so perhaps a kind of pissing heptathlon would be in order? i love rhythmic gymnastics, so i'd like to see something with a bit of artistic flair - like snow calligraphy - included. also, an endurance event, like in those japanese game shows in which you drink five litres of beer & have to hold on for as long as possible.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:51 PM on January 24, 2008


oaf: Are you talking about the AskMe thread, or misreading this one?

To be honest, my guess is that it's exactly this sort of tag-team shittiness that gets people fed up to the point of quitting. Either you are constantly having to repeat, time after time, the most basic point (eg there has been misogyny expressed in this thread) and rewarded with "humorless," "misreading," and other childish taunts, or you have the super option of joining in on some derailment over the definition of "rights" or whatever. But in neither case is there a willingness to address, confront, and think about the actual issues at hand. In just the foot or so of comments above this, there are a number of quite nasty attacks on HMS and others, e.g.:

If your reaction to some things is "Should I burst into humiliated tears now or later?", maybe you shouldn't start fights.

That is the sort of semi-coded misogyny that leaves the worst possible taste in my mouth, and I dislike having to read again and again and again.

Me? I'm going to go have a beer, watch a movie, and have a really nice evening. I hope all of you do the same.
posted by Forktine at 5:54 PM on January 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


Nope. In a previous question, LHLFL identifies himself as a 35-yo male.

Oh snap. It was worth a try.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 5:58 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: If your reaction to some things is "Should I burst into humiliated tears now or later?", maybe you shouldn't start fights.

Forktine: That is the sort of semi-coded misogyny that leaves the worst possible taste in my mouth

Look up at the very top of this page. Brandon Blatcher's use of the phrase "Should I burst into humiliated tears now or later?" was a direct quote from thehmsbeagle's post. Whether it was dickish of him to throw those words back in her face, I will leave for others to debate. It was not, however, misogyny, at least not as I understand misogyny.
posted by dersins at 6:02 PM on January 24, 2008


Jesus wept.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:02 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry hms left as well. I can completely understand though. Much further upthread I was really frustrated too but you know, you just have to walk away sometimes. Lots of guys can be sexist (and women can too, undoubtedly). Other women were making the same points as me, just in much more eloquent ways. It begins to get under your skin when guys seem to crawl out of the MeFi woodwork to say they have a right to look at your breasts, the right to say whatever they want and you should have tough enough skin to deal with it. Because it's hardwired in them. I wish a few more guys would put themselves in a woman's shoes and not just immediately get pissed and say get over it.

We have this conversation over and over because women are continually made to feel uncomfortable. And when we do try to bring it up we're avalanched by comments from guys saying we're too sensitive or reading it wrong or whatever. C'mon, I think it was just last week bruce used a British slang term to call me a bitch in a thread because I dared argue something he said. Sorry, but I usually don't run out and call guys 'dicks' when I disagree with them.

Things like that are uncalled for. Staring at boobs is uncalled for. But if you don't already know that, then yup, me trying my absolute damndest still isn't going to convince you.
posted by CwgrlUp at 6:05 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


If your reaction to some things is "Should I burst into humiliated tears now or later?", maybe you shouldn't start fights.

That is the sort of semi-coded misogyny that leaves the worst possible taste in my mouth,


At the risk of offending further, but honestly trying to understand, I'll ask what exactly was misogynistic in that that statement? Because too me, it pretty clearly says "If you're going to be sensitive about this sort of situation, then maybe you shouldn't go start that fight."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:05 PM on January 24, 2008


"nah, i'd advise against wading into the aftermath of a pissing contest about gaze theory, especially with all the bullshit floating around in it."

As someone who has mucked stalls, this made me giggle.
posted by klangklangston at 6:07 PM on January 24, 2008


I know I'm late to the thread, I just want to express my sadness the hmsbeagle and occhiblu have left. I understand why, people like me have let people like them fight our fights for too long. I favourite comments to let the commenter know I'm on their side, but it's nothing against actually being the one to take the hits. I'm sorry for hiding behind you, and I hope you come back. I don't know if I will get the guts to stand up for myself and I am worried that without strong, eloquent, passionate people like yourselves, Metafilter will become a place where I no longer feel welcome.

This is why we can't have nice people.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:09 PM on January 24, 2008 [26 favorites]


It begins to get under your skin when guys seem to crawl out of the MeFi woodwork to say they have a right to look at your breasts, the right to say whatever they want and you should have tough enough skin to deal with it.

HOLY SHIT NO ON SAID THAT.

This is the most frusturating thread I've read in a long time.
posted by Snyder at 6:09 PM on January 24, 2008


Sorry, but I usually don't run out and call guys 'dicks' when I disagree with them.

There's your problem right there.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 6:10 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


. placeholder .
posted by five fresh fish at 6:10 PM on January 24, 2008


Well, here's a suggestion. How about when a thread gets to, say, 500 replies, it automatically rolls over into a new thread? Because I think most attempts to cap a subject other than out and out freezing people's ability to comment won't work, personally -- at least not when it's a subject as hot-button as this one -- and I think no one wants that, and I know I don't want to feel like I'm suddenly using AOL in 1996 every time I try to refresh one of these monstrosities.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:12 PM on January 24, 2008


Man, I wander off for a few days and all sorts of crazy stuff goes down!
Does anyone have a 'moral of the story' that they'd be willing to put out there?
posted by lilithim at 6:12 PM on January 24, 2008


HOLY SHIT NO ON SAID THAT.

This is the most frusturating thread I've read in a long time.


Yeah, actually, some did in one way or another.
posted by CKmtl at 6:12 PM on January 24, 2008

At the risk of offending further, but honestly trying to understand, I'll ask what exactly was misogynistic in that that statement? Because too me, it pretty clearly says "If you're going to be sensitive about this sort of situation, then maybe you shouldn't go start that fight."
When a guy gets pissed off, it's generally framed as anger. When a woman gets pissed off, it's framed in different, more demeaning and dismissive terms. She's hysterical. She has burst into tears. She has an attack of the vapors. This serves to make the woman look silly, her objections look trivial, and her anger seem unjustified. Male anger is scary and serious, even when it's unmerited. Female anger is adorable. You really don't see why that's a problem?
posted by craichead at 6:12 PM on January 24, 2008 [8 favorites]


I am embarrassed for the people in this and the AskMe who don't or won't get it. It's too bad we lost another three. I am glad MeFi is taking the experiment engendered by the "Mothership" threads seriously, and I hope we continue to do so--it feels like uncharted territory, and that's exciting. I am going to go home and drink some wine, and watch Colbert, and, though I am not a doctor, I prescribe same for the lot of you.
posted by everichon at 6:14 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wrong. Try here.
posted by CwgrlUp at 6:15 PM on January 24, 2008


When it comes to the circumstances of an actual contest

I know one man who got into said contest with a female companion on a camping trip. He lost.
posted by maxwelton at 6:15 PM on January 24, 2008


Actually, I think someone said the first part of that, and someone else maybe said the second part of that, but I really don't care and shouldn't have posted in the first place. This thread has been less than useless and activley reduces the ability to discuss sexism here. I give a shit about sexism, here and in real life, but certain people just bring it down to the stupidest, most ego-stroking, (mutal)masturbatory, self-righteous and willingly disengenious level, and it makes me angry and simply not give a shit.

So I'll take your word for it, because this thread was filled with stupid shit I can keep it straight and probably got confused. Because this whole thing is fucking rideculous.
posted by Snyder at 6:20 PM on January 24, 2008


Ugh. I can't believe thehmsbeagle and occhiblu have gone. MetaFilter's loss.
posted by trip and a half at 6:24 PM on January 24, 2008


Everything arcticwoman said
posted by hydropsyche at 6:24 PM on January 24, 2008


Wrong. Try here.

Sure. Fine. I agree.
posted by Snyder at 6:25 PM on January 24, 2008


I give a shit about sexism, here and in real life, but certain people just bring it down to the stupidest, most ego-stroking, (mutal)masturbatory, self-righteous and willingly disengenious level, and it makes me angry and simply not give a shit.

And everyone who I feel that way about probably feels the same about the people I don't feel that way about. This thread is like anti-communication for so many people. Maybe even me. Who cares? Fuck it.
posted by Snyder at 6:30 PM on January 24, 2008


0_o
posted by the other side at 6:33 PM on January 24, 2008


You really don't see why that's a problem?

I see why that is a problem. I don't see what it has to do with the comment I made, since it doesn't resemble it.

To me it boils done to this "if you admit you're going to be sensitive in this relatively mild situation, then you probably shouldn't throw bombs is this other situation because you're going to get upset."
That statement or line of thought could be applied to man or woman.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:34 PM on January 24, 2008


Snyder, it's clear that the thread is anti-communication for you, because you're barely intelligible. I don't even know what side of this issue you're arguing. Do you?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:37 PM on January 24, 2008


Yeah, Snyder. Pick a side already. There's no room for lone wolfs in this thread.
posted by tkolar at 6:42 PM on January 24, 2008


Brockles: This was clearly not considered enough as the thread continued LONG after cortex's response, in fact it hadn't even got going, so perhaps the preference is that the nipping in the bud needs o be considered to be earlier? Perhaps by the removal of the chance of these comments appearing, being as the deletion of them wasn't enough to stop this thread (not from being started, but from going quite to badly).

It went badly because some people (who, granted, may have ben primed by hms's pre-emptive reference to herself as "friendly neighborhood irrationa/bitchy/uptight feminist") jumped in with "humorless" and "thought-police" comments, rather than actually thinking about the objection. To wit, asking for a community standard where (using jessamyn's phrasing) boys refrain from act[ing] like there's no other sort of people here and aren't using normal sort of courtesy as if they were in some other semi-public place.

And this question is entirely pertinent to the call out., actually. The first was an extrapolation.

Could you please explain how "Have we decided that men are not allowed to post any AskMe questions that allude to echoes of past sexist behavior (despite explicitly wishing to learn how to remove said sexist allusions)?" is an extrapolation of any sentence hms wrote in her original callout? I'm not seeing it.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:42 PM on January 24, 2008


Yeah, actually, some did in one way or another.

So what? That there are a couple of dicks in our sixty-thousand membership is not the least surprising. MeFi and especially MeTa are choc-a-bloc full of offensive things. One had best learn that words on a screen are worth the paper they're printed on. And only half that much if they're written in MeTa.

The one thing I find most frustrating about these sexism threads is that there appears to be a helluva lot of confusion between sexuality and sexism.

I will be very disappointed if the Metafilter group of blogs become a place where one dare not be a sexual human being. Let's leave that for the workplace.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:45 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I notice one thing that's changed since the first sexism mega-thread: now men are doing the "silent favouriting of posts that sock it to the other sex" thing as well. Great, so we've driven sexism into the peanut gallery*.

And dammit, that's horrendous about occhiblu.

*OK, we've added sexism to the peanut gallery. WTG, net sexism increase.
posted by bonaldi at 6:46 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


My "side" is irrelevant.
posted by Snyder at 6:48 PM on January 24, 2008


When a guy gets pissed off, it's generally framed as anger. When a woman gets pissed off, it's framed in different, more demeaning and dismissive terms.

What you say about womens' anger being patronised is true, but there are also plenty of occasions in which angry men are dismissed as neanderthals, testosterone-pumped idiots, macho hooligans, etc. It's a common form of ad-hominem based on falsified biology.

True masculists should make it their goal to eliminate all "explanations" of male behaviour based on things like testosterone, which only reinforce the cultural perception of men as innately tied to nature & their bodies, and therefore incapable of participating in higher realms of emotion & thought
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:48 PM on January 24, 2008


Yeah, Snyder. Pick a side already. There's no room for lone wolfs in this thread.

Okay, fine. How about:

Snyder. You're obviously really pissed off about something, but it's impossible to say what, because you're fucking incomprehensible, dude.

Better?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:50 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I won't say a lot because hopefully this thread is starting to die down. I have felt sick to my stomach every time I have opened it and read the latest comments.

For me, the problem isn't the fact that the offensive answers were posted in the AskMe. Most of those were removed even as this thread was being posted, and that should have been enough.

But it wasn't, because a bunch of people still don't see what's so bad about those sexist comments, and think there is something more wrong with anyone who objects to them. It's those people who are making this experience more and more unbearable. That's why "flag it and move on" is insufficient, because too many have the attitude that there's nothing wrong with them, and nothing is done about those attitudes. Rather than being marginalized, they feel emboldened in Metatalk, where it is customary to viciously attack the poster of the FPP.

The now-deleted comments were obviously egregious and did not contribute to the site. So why is this thread so long? Because for objecting to these sorts of comments, people are called "weak" and "overly sensitive", accused of being the Metatalk thought police squad persuing "MINDCRIME"s, attacked with "God, are we still talking about this? Why?". Then eventually there are those who say it's the woman's fault for dressing that way (whatever way that is). And thus the debate is back, when there really isn't any debate. The comments should have been deleted, they were deleted, hmsbeagle was therefore correct in being concerned about their presence on Metafilter....so why the long thread?

On preview I see a bunch of people have said what I want to say, and much better as usual, so just add my voice to the fray.
posted by Danila at 6:52 PM on January 24, 2008 [9 favorites]


five fresh fish: So what?

So nothing. Snyder went all freak-out capslocky protesting that no one had said the things that CwGrlUp alluded to, when some people had in fact said those very things. As if she'd pulled it out of thin air.
posted by CKmtl at 6:55 PM on January 24, 2008


True masculists should make it their goal to eliminate all "explanations" of male behaviour based on things like testosterone

What about things like alcohol? 'Cause I'm willing to bet that explains a whole lot of the behavior in this thread.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:14 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Don't let me EVER hear you say another word against television alcohol, do you hear me?
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:18 PM on January 24, 2008


(god, i wish i had some work to do. if this thread goes on any longer i'm gonna have to seriously start thinking about working on the Pensky file)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:21 PM on January 24, 2008


All right, drunky! Whatever you say, DRUNKY!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:22 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I, too, am late to the discussion (balancing full-time university status and work leaves fairly little time to engage in such online debates (though let it be known that very similar discussions are held in classrooms on campuses the world over). This, however, does not mean that it impacts me as a member of the community any less.

I am devastated at the loss of both occhiblu and hmsbeagle. They were both intelligent, thoughtful and articulate members - both genuine assets to the Mefi community as a whole. I've always appreciated their input and insights in the various threads I read, and often found myself in agreement with them. It saddens me that things escalated to such a point that they felt they had no other recourse but to take leave of this place; nonetheless, I understand why they did so.

So many of my contacts and favorite members have packed up and left in recent months. It is unfortunate, as this phenomenon works to strip away whatever sense of community I feel I have developed here over the two years. It is as though Metafilter is entering into its own Kali Yuga of sorts. The end is nigh!

So to occhiblu, hmsbeagle, and the previously lost EtherealBligh: I pour one out for you.

If any of you read this, and are still open to discussion - albeit away from MetaFilter - feel free to email me at numinous.life [at] gmail.com. As both a previously fledgling member and a scholar who enjoys the thoughtful consideration of social mores, I appreciate your voices.
posted by numinous at 7:22 PM on January 24, 2008


I'm looking at all these comments that begin with "I'm late to the thread, but..." and they're halfway up the scroll bar. Kewl.

And no thread like this is complete without mention of Hitler. There.
posted by Doohickie at 7:22 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


So why is this thread so long?

Because it was started with fighting words and unsurprisingly turned into a big fight. I'd be about as willing to draw conclusions about Metafilter from this thread as I would to be to draw conclusions from any shouting match: what actually gets said isn't nearly as important (or depressing) as the fact that it happened in the first place.
posted by tkolar at 7:25 PM on January 24, 2008


I'm going to explain myself as carefully as I can, with the full knowledge that it will likely be misinterpreted and/or picked apart by people who disagree with me.

Saying that you "don't have the right" to do something does not mean that anyone is physically or lawfully stopping you from doing it - I acknowledged that I cannot change your thoughts and I do not want to. But when you come to MetaFilter, or when you go to work (or, like many users, when you do both at the same time), you are expected to follow certain standards of behavior. But I don't think it's such a big stretch to expect that people behave respectfully in a community that I participate in or the place where I work. When I say it isn't "your right," I'm just pointing out that some men seem to feel entitled to subject women to a constant analysis of whether they are aesthetically pleasing and therefore valuable human beings - through their words, and their unspoken actions (like staring). As a human being I don't think it's unreasonable to ask the people I interact with not to do these things. If you want to go around alienating people, disregarding their feelings and making them feel bad about themselves, please, go right ahead. Let your true colors show, so that it is easier to avoid people like you.

I don't live in a perfect neighborhood. But the rent is affordable and it's close to downtown and it's near the subway. The problem is, when I walk home at night, past the bars and coffee shops with guys out front smoking - they always have something - sometimes they try to flirt, sometimes they say something nasty or inappropriate, and occasionally I get followed or yelled at if I don't respond. How surprising is it that I don't want to hang around the area in my free time? True enough, the vast majority of the people in my neighborhood are decent, hardworking people who are respectful at the least, and often rise above my expectations through acts of kindness and grace. But the ones who treat me like shit, over and over again, who make it clear that they do not respect women and that no one can make them if they don't want to - they're the ones who bother me. And they are the reason I can't stop thinking about moving out of this neighborhood, even if I have to sacrifice on price or location. Because there aren't enough cops to keep an eye on these assholes from doing what they want to do, and my decent neighbors are all at home asleep.

So my options are grouped into two sections - stay, or go. And if I stay, it's a constant fucking compromise: don't go out late at night; if you go out late at night, stay at a friend's house; if you can't stay at a friends house, take a cab home; if you can't afford a cab, then walk quickly with your head down and make sure you aren't wearing anything remotely revealing, attractive or even feminine (so basically, dress like a man when going out). I find myself having to pick my shoes not by how they go with an outfit, or whether they are appropriate for the event, but based on whether I'd be able to run in them if I needed to. It's never come to that, and god willing, it never will. But dealing with that kind of regular, unchecked disrespect and outright hostility makes me anticipate the worst. I have no other choice.

Yes, this thread has become more than just about looking at a coworkers breasts. And when faced with such a long list of compromises to stay in this community, I just get tired. There are too many things that women aren't allowed to say here without getting treated like shit for it, or being called out for being humorless, or for over-thinking things, for bitching too much, for not just shutting the fuck up about our feelings and using our little flag already and letting the guys have their fun. The timeout button is very tempting right now, because, defeatist as it may be, it really doesn't seem like there will be a solution to the problem. Especially not a solution that won't lead to people resenting and blaming us for ruining MetaFilter. Sometimes your only choice is to pack up and move on.
posted by SassHat at 7:26 PM on January 24, 2008 [40 favorites]


Stats:

3960 people either commented or favorited a post/comment in Metatalk over the last year.

9970 people commented in AskMetafilter in the last year.


Even at the most optimistic, less than half of AskMetafilter users have any awareness of the discussions in Metatalk.
posted by tkolar at 7:31 PM on January 24, 2008


Would it be true that a lot of the vitriol on both sides of this "debate" stem from people who are really invested failing to give benefit of the doubt to the other side?

I bet a lot of us can see both sides of the issue and while hopeful that a more respectful, civilized society will arise can recognize that a lot of people don't think much before "speaking" or typing. That was probably some of the problem in the original post and seemingly a bunch of the problem here. I'd be willing to bet most of the boys, girls, men and women on metafilter are a pretty decent bunch, even the ones who have differing (even "wrong") opinions.

I thought there was a lot of reasonable conversation above, sprinkled with what, to this 3rd string mefite, seemed to be a lot of taking offense where I don't think offense was meant.
posted by maxwelton at 7:41 PM on January 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


Could you please explain how "Have we decided that men are not allowed to post any AskMe questions that allude to echoes of past sexist behavior (despite explicitly wishing to learn how to remove said sexist allusions)?" is an extrapolation of any sentence hms wrote in her original callout? I'm not seeing it.

Er. It had nothing to do with hmsbeagle's post. I didn't at any stage present it as such. But being as the removal of comments wasn't enough to stop people complaining about the deleted behaviour, a logical extrapolation of that is to remove the possibility of anyone posting the question that produces the comments that require deletion. Therefore you don't even see them, and so cannot possibly be offended.

The call out was "Comments exist that shouldn't". Cortex almost instantly replied that such comments were in the process of being removed. Yet the thread went entirely shit shaped and rapidly downhill from there. Therefore it seems logical (although not necessarily my view) that deletion of the comments is not far enough as a solution.

Hence my extrapolation.

The point being, a problem was called out. The problem was dealt with. If that solution is not good enough, what exactly do people want? Instant and total re-education of an entire generation? Or removal of the ability to even see these comments before deletion?

Which?

What is the solution?

My feeling is that "Try and have a realistic sense of how long this sort of reeducation is going to take, and calm down" (as I mentioned in the post you misinterpreted) is not all that crazy a viewpoint. As I said, the time to get pissy is if there are the same number of comments from the same number of people six months after pointing out, deleting and otherwise indicating that it is not acceptable to have that attitude.

Expecting ingrained elements to be instantaneously removed through indignation doesn't ever work. Ever.
posted by Brockles at 7:43 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Forktine writes "you have the super option of joining in on some derailment over the definition of 'rights' or whatever."

Bullshit. I don't see what gives Group A (for any value of Group A) the right to declare something ipso facto as a right without challenge. If you don't want a derail on the definition of the incredibly hazy hard to pin down nebulous word "right", don't keep repeating it as part of your argument. I'm on the side of thehmsbeagle and company, and I'm the one who was "derailing" on the issue of rights. It wasn't "tag-team shittiness". The "rights" argument, by people on both sides, was what was shitty.

kittens for breakfast writes "Snyder, it's clear that the thread is anti-communication for you, because you're barely intelligible. I don't even know what side of this issue you're arguing. Do you?"

I get what he's saying. And I can tell you he's on the anti-sexist side of things. I am finishing a night shift, so perhaps my sleepiness works with his anger, because his frustration and annoyance is what he's trying to communicate, and it's coming through clearly to me.

Danila writes "But it wasn't, because a bunch of people still don't see what's so bad about those sexist comments, and think there is something more wrong with anyone who objects to them."

Maybe I'm just being cynical, but I never really took the whole idea of making MeFi a more woman-friendly site by calling out sexism to mean "and thus educate the males at MeFi to be less sexist". In a few weeks, because of two threads and a new flag? Come on, if kicking sexism's ass were that easy, the US would have had a female President decades ago. I always took it to be "make MeFi a place where guys who want to say sexist stuff feel that it's awkward and unwelcome, like swearing in church, and either keep it under-cover here, venting their sexism at some other site, or leave MeFi completely, increasing the non-sexist:sexist ratio.

In fact, I'm kinda shocked that anyone would be surprised that people haven't "seen what's so bad". Did anyone really think that would happen?
posted by Bugbread at 7:45 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am somewhat skeptical of the notion that on a site where there are several dozen new posts a day, and several thousand new messages a day, that there is so much sexist writing that the place has become insufferable.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:48 PM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


I spent a lot of last night and today thinking about that kill button too. After taking some time away, I can look at this thread and consider how very few people (with loud magpie voices) it takes to make one despair.

thehmsbeagle and occhiblu, I totally understand. I hope you're not reading this, but instead are enjoying real-world interactions with considerate people who appreciate and deserve your fine company.

mathowie, I do think somehow slowing down the knee-jerk pile-on nature of the fast-moving Meta's might be a good idea. Or maybe earlier closing of a thread where not much is being accomplished. A lot of trouble comes from picking personal fights once the principled issue-discussion is over, or attempted jokes that go sour. In one of the mega-threads, occhiblu (I think) said it was like being trapped on a long car ride with the same people, and eventually you're going to start bickering even if you all start off friendly.

(About that: Mefi commenters know thyself. If your cup of tea is to try to "lighten up" a serious discussion by injecting some apparently-jerky comment (meant in irony! because we're all on the same page!), maybe consider holding off in discussions like this? Where you think it might puncture the tension and get everyone to relax, often it just makes everyone in the room whirl around and angrily say "what???!?!?" which leads to more tension, more misunderstandings, less good will, and so on.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:51 PM on January 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


I loved both Zebra3 and occhiblu. I am really, really depressed now.
posted by agregoli at 7:54 PM on January 24, 2008


The point being, a problem was called out. The problem was dealt with. If that solution is not good enough, what exactly do people want? Instant and total re-education of an entire generation? Or removal of the ability to even see these comments before deletion?

This is my thing, too, although the word "reeducation" skeeves me out to no end. I'm sorry to see people go, but I honestly don't know what the hell those people were looking for. Acknowledging a problem is not the same thing as solving a problem. I should hope we're all worldly-wise enough to get that. The consensus is that sexism is bad, which is not exactly a shocking revelation, but -- but -- the problem is that there is no metric by which to objectively measure sexism, so yeah, anytime somebody starts a conversation about how something's sexist, there's gonna be a fight about it. You can either read that as an opportunity to get your point of view across or as some kind of defeat -- shouldn't they already know what I mean? Isn't anybody listening to me? Etc. Well, no one's listening if you walk away. I hate to put it like that, because I'm sure the decision to walk away wasn't an easy one, but I just don't know what else to say about it. The flags really were intended to give people the ability to call out what they read as a sexist remark without having to engage in a protracted battle over it, as I recall.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:00 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Come to think of it, if there is so much sexist writing that this place is an abomination... well, then, perhaps all y'all who don't like it should treat this place like most of us treat Little Green Footballs.

Which, quite simply, is to not visit it. Joining LGF and trying to change its culture would be a pointless exercise in frustration. Much easier to just accept that it gives the shitheads of the world a place to hang out, and avoid it as if it were radioactive.

MetaFilter has existed as a community for nearly ten years. Many of you have been members for only two or three years. Perhaps it's a little unreasonable to expect great and sudden change simply because you've honoured MeFi with your presence.

Also, I agree with LobsterMittens: if Cortex had closed the thread when he told us he was cleaning the thread, we'd not have lost three members. Sexism threads are toxic to some people: as long as they're allowed to spiral out of control, we're going to keep losing folk.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:04 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


over the years I've learned that if I'm getting that upset about a thread, it's time for me to just walk away

I agree and that's generally good advice, but you have to put this into context. Occhiblu and hmsbeagle have been on the site for years. They have been involved in so, so many threads about gender relations. They have stuck their neck out to speak calmly and fairly about sexism, never denigrating men, never pointing fingers, just insisting, calmly, that an atmosphere of basic respect prevail. They have walked away. They have walked away many, many times. They have stayed their hand. They have taken deep breaths. As have I. I've taken long breaks. I've skipped entire threads because I could feel the veins in my temples starting to throb.

And they have returned. Dozens and dozens of times. Returned, particularly, to AskMe, where they've been there for people in all sorts of crises, been there to lend perspective and what jessamyn calls 'normalization' for people whose lives feel unmanageable, been there to say gently and repeatedly that all people are worthy of respect and proper treatment. They aren't weak flowers for walking away. They're strong, hardworking MeFites with more miles on their accounts than almost anyone in this thread, and if you don't believe me, run a search. Their kind of user is what makes AskMe such a frequent gateway to the site, such a helpful resource, such a valuable assist that almost any Google search you run, these days, returns you within the top 10 results to an AskMe thread. They have walked away, innumerable times, calling on deep patience, and they have returned. Because, all things considered, they found things of value here every single day - they found meaning, interest, humor, curiosity, new ideas, fascination, opportunities to participate - that outweighed the occasional battle over sexism.

It says a lot when people like that hit a limit.

There are wonderful, amazing people on this site, of both sexes. Probably 95% of the users, male and femal, are just fantastic human beings - and I'm eager to say that most of the men I've known through MetaFilter, particularly the ones I've met, have my deepest admiration and give me great confidence that the work of feminism to bring about equal partnership between the sexes was not in vain.. Overall, they are open-minded, fair, positive, non-reactionary, independent, thoughtful, loving to the women in their lives, and self-confident enough to represent themselves as men without any tint of misogyny. You all know you who you are, and you're wonderful.

The remaining few getting their jollies out of retrograde humor, and skating by on the tacit permission of others, are definitely reducing the quality of the site and making it less interesting to people of real substance and quality. Let's get that under control.

As to your point, konolia: feminism needs to evolve constantly until we truly live in an egalitarian society. We're not there yet. My grandmother's generation berated my mother's - after all, my mother had the right to vote and to a college education in a non-sexually-segregated instution. What more could she want? Well, my mother's generation kind of wanted the right to private decisions about birth control , the opportunity to wear trousers, and career choice. The next generation wanted not to have to choose between parenthood and career success, to break the glass ceiling and achieve the highest positions in the professional world, and to bring compensation for men's and women's work to equivalence. My generation now wants many things, including an atmosphere at work and in public where women are accorded the same basic respect and seriousness of intent that men have amongst each other in our daily interactions, especially in the workplace. We don't stop at any one point and say "Now girls, are you happy with that last bone you forced us to throw?" There will be a need for feminism until society is egalitarian, and feminism will continue to address the next most serious problem after progress has been made on the previous serious problem. Just because we don't have to choose between stewardess/teacher/nurse/secretary any more doesn't mean feminism must retire, and we should settle for new careers with hoary old crusty gender roles.
posted by Miko at 8:04 PM on January 24, 2008 [71 favorites]


Brockles: The call out was "Comments exist that shouldn't". Cortex almost instantly replied that such comments were in the process of being removed. Yet the thread went entirely shit shaped and rapidly downhill from there. Therefore it seems logical (although not necessarily my view) that deletion of the comments is not far enough as a solution.
A few others have already said this, I'll assume for now that you haven't read them. There was actually two 'problems' at play here.

1) The comments on AskMe. Those were, for the most part, dealt with quickly. Problem #1 fixed.

2) In reaction to this call-out, people came in and (intentionally or not) stirred the pot that was in the process of ceasing its sloshing motions w.r.t. Problem #1.

Things largely went downhill and shit-shaped here, not because of Problem #1, but because of Problem #2. Problem #2 could have been avoided by either:

a) People not running in to stir the pot [unlikely, but theoretically possible and would be nice].
b) HMS having opted for the flag-and-email-a-mod route [not providing a venue for the pot-stirring].
c) Early closure of this thread after Problem #1 was addressed.

The comments that led to Problem #1 don't have much bearing on Problem #2, so I don't see how it'd be a logical view that their deletions weren't 'far enough'.
posted by CKmtl at 8:05 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


occhiblu has been one of the best participants on all the parts of Metafilter. It's really too bad that she left, even if for just a while. There are other folks who participate in other ways that are also great, and still other folks who will come along and join the site, but occhiblu consistently elevated every discussion of which she was a part.

I'm sorry, too, that thehmsbeagle decided to close her account. I liked many of her comments and, while I didn't always agree with her conclusions about stuff, I thought that she displayed guts in sticking up for what she thought was right.

I'd be tempted to hope that the men who consistently disputed the relevance and importance of their comments on sexism, without ever suffering a moment's worth of systematic discomfort over their own ineluctable genders, might pause to consider why these two women felt the need to close their accounts, but konolia has kindly absolved them of any responsibility in that regard. Unless they're gay, in which case she condemns those men to burn in the fires of hell, 'cause she's charming like that.
posted by OmieWise at 8:05 PM on January 24, 2008 [17 favorites]


That shouldn't be in italics. Oh man, oops. Hope me? It was meant to begin with a cut-quote from Miss Lynnster:

over the years I've learned that if I'm getting that upset about a thread, it's time for me to just walk away

/waits for hope
posted by Miko at 8:07 PM on January 24, 2008


the problem is that there is no metric by which to objectively measure sexism

This is where it might be good to open the flagging system to viewing. Right now the "sexist" flag is a black box: only three people know what the community thinks is sexist, let alone what the super-conscious think is sexist.

Without that feedback, there is no way I can change my behaviour. I simply do not see MeFi/MeTa as being a particularly sexist place, so it's not bloody likely that I'm going to figure it all out on my own.

Mods, please hope us!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:09 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


But dealing with that kind of regular, unchecked disrespect and outright hostility makes me anticipate the worst.

SassHat, I hear what you are saying, and I can relate and respect that.

But it really has nothing at all to do with this situation. In fact, I think you have put your finger on the problem of why this thread has gone so badly.

People came in here with baggage, and they used the grey to let it all out. Instead of saying, "Hey, please don't use degrading terms for women's breasts," or, "Please don't assume that because I have a y chromosome I am a sexist jerk," we debated about everything from what it is appropriate for well-endowed women to wear/do in the workplace to breast size and pissing contests. The arguments went way beyond the original callout, and it became this huge women vs men argument.

Worse than that, it became either women=oversensitive or men=sexist, which is clearly not indicative of Mefi, at least in my experience. Nor is it my experience, come to that, in real life. Sure, idiots exist on both sides, but come on! Do you really feel that every man is only out to ogle you, or that every woman is just waiting for a chance to verbally castrate you?

I'm glad that the sweaterpuppies comment was deleted. It was flagged as offensive by a lot of people. I think that hmsbeagle's non-answer should also be deleted from the original thread, too, as that's a valid reason for deletion (I've had answers deleted, and I think most of us have).

We don't need hyper-reactivity from any of us. We just need some balance and common sense.
posted by misha at 8:15 PM on January 24, 2008 [19 favorites]


When I say it isn't "your right," I'm just pointing out that some men seem to feel entitled to subject women to a constant analysis of whether they are aesthetically pleasing and therefore valuable human beings - through their words, and their unspoken actions (like staring). As a human being I don't think it's unreasonable to ask the people I interact with not to do these things.

I think the point that a lot of people are making is that, like it or not, people (male & female) are always, on some level, somewhere in their minds, making such appraisals of others. We are all sexual people, and are subjected to such heavy barrages from the media about sex, romance, marriage, family, children & so on, that it's probably impossible for all but the strongest of Zen masters to meet a beautiful person & not have even a flash of a thought of "oh, he's/she's good looking!" or an ugly person & a "back to the loch with you, Nessie!" reaction. Average-looking people, likewise, are noted down as average. You can also add whatever more holistic appraisals women supposedly indulge in too, if you like, but at the end it's the same: nobody can help at some level appraising others, preferred gender or non-preferred.

On that level, people aren't so much saying that they're entitled to do this, but that you're pissing into the wind if you expect it's ever going to stop. On the other hand, it's perfectly reasonable to expect people to be subtle, to respect others' feelings & do what they can to not be obvious about it. I think we can, and should, all agree on that.

As for "subjecting women to a constant analysis of whether they are aesthetically pleasing and therefore valuable human beings", that's really oversimplifying things. Value lies in many factors, only one of which is appearance, and in this women probably aren't all that different in their appraisals than men (maybe substituting something like "...subjecting men to a constant analysis of whether they are aesthetically pleasing, rich & powerful and therefore valuable human beings").

Also, appreciating people on aesthetic terms does not automatically exclude the ability to appreciate them, or others, for their character, intelligence or achievements.

Of course, none of this is to assert that "it's natural & therefore ok for me to leer all I want", but I don't think anybody has been saying that, apart from the drunks. And as much as I sympathise with your struggles with the wankers who live in your area, it's not quite right if you're tempted to equate that kind of boorishness with what some people are saying here. At least, I hope that nobody here hangs around outside of bars, yelling "show us your tits!" & refusing to back down when told off about it.

As an aside, I really liked what somebody wrote way above, along the lines that there's a weird tension between looking for a mate & trying not to sexualise or objectify people. On one hand, you're doing what you can to not be constantly appraising people, but at the same time, you need to have that appraisal thing happening if you're not going to spend your life alone. Funnily, whenever I hear women complaining about the "man drought", part of me is thinking "yeh, that's because we're all walking on eggshells, trying not to make you uncomfortable or cause offence in any way!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:19 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thank you, Misha. That was very well put, and I think hit the nail on the head for much of this thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:19 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, hell. About half the commenters in this thread should be run down in the street. Feel free to guess which half.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:21 PM on January 24, 2008


Probably 95% of the users, male and femal, are just fantastic human beings

Do we really know that? I mean aside from those we've actually met in real life? This is a public forum, where people are often eager to say what people want to hear, so they often do just that. But, life has taught me that talk is cheap. Something to keep in mind.

I'm sorry occhiblu and hmsbeagle decided to leave, but ultimately part of living in a community of 60,000 human beings is accepting that they're, well, human beings. People aren't always going to hold the opinions and beliefs we'd like them to. A community is just a collection of people, ultimately, and that many people are never going to be in perfect harmony. It's an imperfect world.
posted by jonmc at 8:21 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


also WTF is up with all the italics?
posted by jonmc at 8:22 PM on January 24, 2008


I favourite comments to let the commenter know I'm on their side, but it's nothing against actually being the one to take the hits. I'm sorry for hiding behind you, and I hope you come back. I don't know if I will get the guts to stand up for myself and I am worried that without strong, eloquent, passionate people like yourselves, Metafilter will become a place where I no longer feel welcome.

This is why we can't have nice people.
posted by arcticwoman


Fucking A.

I'm a newer user who usually sticks to askme questions of the "How can I make enchiladas, hurf!" type, but I sure as shit will start speaking up more often. Metafilter is an infinitely poorer place after today.
posted by supercrayon at 8:26 PM on January 24, 2008


oh, LobsterMitten: yeh, it's a nasty habit, hey? *resolves to try harder next time*
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:28 PM on January 24, 2008


I hear that Mathowie is taking applications to hire an intern who will have the sole responsibility of the care and feeding of this thread. The position may become a permanent one if this thread eventually spins off into its own website.
posted by Doohickie at 8:33 PM on January 24, 2008


hms, occhiblu, zebra3. Well, fuck.

Please come back, y'all. I don't want to miss you.
posted by rtha at 8:33 PM on January 24, 2008


Hey my dear friends, enemies, acquaintances , fellow internet goof-offs and chuckleheads. Hi, how are you? Well, I hope. I suspect we can't answer or resolve many of the questions this thread has raised in the course of one long angry conversation. I also firmly believe that if a large group of people here (ladies, it seems) say they often feel uncomfortable, then, if we care about any sense of community, no matter how attenuated, we need to all figure out a way to work that out. A bunch of working that out is going to be fighting, or disagreeing or uncomfortable for people who don't understand why many women here are uncomfortable. So it goes. It's not some kind of sudden revolution of angry feminists, it's the boiling over of feeling about a lot of small indignities (the classic response, by the way) and it is going to include some feelings getting hurt on the part of people who didn't mean any offense. That's the story.

Here's the thing though, I really like metafilter. I like the personalities, I like the discourse, I like the jokes and the posts and the often really smart conversation and the feeling that for better or worse I've found a place where my sense of the world can interact (and sometimes spar) with others on an equal plane.

I'm a defensive person, accused of doing wrong or offense I have often wasted a lot of time arguing my point (the human condition, yeah?). I've fairly recently learned that if I want to participate in any community (my marriage, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my city) that I have to at least try to understand that sometimes I give offense when that wasn't my intention (and sometimes I take offense when it wasn't the giver's intention) and that it's worth my involvement in the "community" to listen, to apologize for giving offense and to make some demonstrable effort to do better in the future. I've learned that often enough my own hurt feelings and damaged sense of self do not justify continuing a stupid and senseless fight. That shit is hard to admit and I'm talking about it here in a much more objective way than I actually practice it, but I am practicing it.

For me this does not mean (AT ALL) abandoning snarking and arguing with people I disagree with, it simply means opening my mind to the idea that I might be wrong, sometimes.

For me, this thread is going nowhere, people are flaming out, taking the big forever logout, burning good will. I think the issue is more than worth debating and trying to resolve, but it ain't worth a fracture of this thing of ours.


I propose (oddly enough, given that I am a commenter mostly, not a poster) another FPP contest, with some mild prize (we can pass the hat) as the reward. Just something to reinforce that almost all of us are here because we've found a place where we can talk intelligently about cool things and share our experiences and knowledge.

I don't think any effort should be made to abolish disagreement and even out and out fighting (heaven forfend), but if the point of metafilter (my endless daily over and over solace) is to be thousand comment threads that go nowhere acrimoniously, then we're all going to rob each other of a really excellent place to spend time.


If I was asked to summarize my own comment I would simply say "the fuck, yo? supposed to be good here mostly."
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:36 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Variety of voices?

Yes, variety. Like the two non-native-English-speaking dudes who got called out in separate MeTas for admiring a woman's appearance.

Jesus Christ. I don't even know what to say except that there sure are a lot of guys who not only Don't Get It, they don't want to Get It and don't even want to think about it.

Yes, my old friend, I don't get it and have no interest in getting it. I don't get a place where you can't say "sweater puppies" but actual gender-based screeds are heaped with favorites. And I really don't get why I'd want to spend any time there.

It's kinda hard to believe that just two years ago you and I were enjoying freedom on the open seas, sharing vikings and needles alike. Oh well. I still love you metafilter. (*waves to occhiblu*) I could oogle you boobs all day (and probably will).
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:39 PM on January 24, 2008


I took a break from MeFi for, like, a day and this happens. It just took me a solid 3 hours to read this whole thread. Wow. I don't know if I'll ever have the guts to post a call-out on the grey after seeing how this one went down.
posted by lunit at 8:39 PM on January 24, 2008


Well that does it! I'm leaving Metafilter forever! Goodbye, fuckers!
posted by Krrrlson at 8:46 PM on January 24, 2008


Okay, I'm back.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:46 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh, hell. About half the commenters in this thread should be run down in the street. Feel free to guess which half.

That's piss-easy to answer: all of those equal to or higher than 18404.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:46 PM on January 24, 2008


I'm a newer user who usually sticks to askme questions of the "How can I make enchiladas, hurf!" type, but I sure as shit will start speaking up more often. Metafilter is an infinitely poorer place after today.

Don't get your AskMe in my MeFi. They are distinctly different cultures.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:54 PM on January 24, 2008


We stopped the running of the n00bs back in 2005 when those five people died.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:54 PM on January 24, 2008


Goddammit! Not occhiblu and zebra3 too.

Reggie Knoble: This all started from a single askme question which was essentially harmless and happened to illicit a couple of answers with language that some people didn't like.

As a matter of usability I think it would be good, if a MeTa callout leads to the deletion of comments, to post the text of deleted comments in the MeTa thread so that people who come to it after the deletions know what the dilly is. I think a lot of the "what's the big deal" type comments wouldn't have happened if they could've read the deleted comments.

jessamyn: Everyone who wants to realistically discuss this topic and stick around for follow-ups may need to be able to actually skip over the more noxious comments and be able to comment without getting your jabs in. It's really really hard though and I'm not surprised some people just aren't up to it when they're dealing with their whole other lives at the same time.

I let a troll get to me yesterday and I got angry. I posted enraged and that's never a good call. I don't regret responding to the vileness but the manner in which I did so was not conducive to better discourse.

UbuRoivas: I think the point that a lot of people are making is that, like it or not, people (male & female) are always, on some level, somewhere in their minds, making such appraisals of others.

The problem as far as MetaFilter is concerned isn't what people think but what people type.

Oh, and to explain the "Tex"/Steve joke the "Tex" account has been closed now.
posted by Kattullus at 9:00 PM on January 24, 2008


five fresh fish writes "Also, I agree with LobsterMittens: if Cortex had closed the thread when he told us he was cleaning the thread, we'd not have lost three members."

Probably wouldn't of made any difference, if not today than sometime time in the near future. It just might not have been so obvious.

Miko writes "My generation now wants many things, including an atmosphere at work and in public where women are accorded the same basic respect and seriousness of intent that men have amongst each other in our daily interactions, especially in the workplace. "

I think you might have a "grass is greener" view of daily interactions between men. It's not respect and seriousness 24/7/365 by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by Mitheral at 9:00 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Um...did a whole bunch of stuff just disappear?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:03 PM on January 24, 2008


You know, the last thing we need is some fucking account-resurrection cage-match bullshit at this point. Elvis/Tex, if this is what you wanted your old account back for, you've pretty much blown the limited goodwill you were being extended in one shot. I've deleted the exchange with jonmc; cut that shit out or find a new site to hang out on.

I hesitate to close this up, but I've hesitated about four times already and regret at this point not having closed it after my first comment. If folks want to regroup and pick up the worthy parts of this conversation some time in the near future, that's fine, but I don't want to see what another night of unattended infighting will produce.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:04 PM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


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