Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On the Bright Side

It's all so very snark-worthy

"This should be a better world," a friend of mine said. "A more honest one, where sex isn't shameful or degrading. I wish this was the kind of world where say, 'Wow, I'd like to touch your breasts,' and people would understand that it's not a way of reducing you to a set of nipples and ignoring the rest of you, but rather a way of saying that I may not yet know your mind, but your body is beautiful."

I must fail at logic, because I completely fail to understand why saying "your body is beautiful" is massively more complicated than saying something like "Wow, I'd like to touch your breasts."

And I will say, yet again, that if any guy ever comes up to me and compliments me by saying simply "you're beautiful," I will die of shock. Which will be very sad, because he was sure to get my number and/or my first born child otherwise.

We were standing in the hallway of ConFusion, about nine of us, and we all nodded. Then another friend spoke up.

"You can touch my boobs," she said to all of us in the hallway. "It's no big deal."

I'm fascinated by her phrasing here, and how everyone in the group finds this so refreshing. I mean, I'm very much not down with the whole "sex is a special thing that should only happen between two people who are in love!" meme that most of the world pretends to be caught up in, but isn't it a little insulting for her to say that "it's no big deal?" Unless her breasts are completely lacking in nerve endings, shouldn't she have some kind of feeling toward the experience? Otherwise, isn't it just a mini version of pity-sex?

Now, you have to understand the way she said that, because it's the key to the whole project. The spirit of everything was formed within those nine words - and if she'd said them shyly, as though having her breasts touched by people was something to be endured or afraid of, the Open-Source Boob Project would have died...

I agree. Her lack of (stated) desire and the fact that she was making an offer and not a proposal, very much is the spirit of the project, and very much why the project is complete FAIL.

Yet it wasn't a come-on, either. There wasn't that undertow of desperation of come on, touch me, I need you to validate my self-esteem, and maybe we'll hook up later tonight. There was no promise of anything but a simple grope.

Because, of course, when women do come-on's it's because we are desperate. Guys on the other hand, are just being guys. So when they say 'Wow, I'd like to touch your breasts" women should translate that to "your body is beautiful" and not get sidetracked by all the "me/I" statements.

We all reached out in the hallway, hands and fingers extended, to get a handful...They were awesome breasts, worthy of being touched.

Which raises the question of which breasts are not worthy of being touched, and how the poor women attached to such breasts feel about that.

And life seemed so much simpler.

Yeah, not having to think about privilege is like that.

In this moment, all of the societal restrictions had fallen away, and we discovered an eBay-like need: We liked to express adoration of her body, and she liked the compliment of being desired. It wasn't a one-way flow; it was a stream of compliments being passed back and forth as we explored that small zone of her body, a My God, these are beautiful breasts you have, along with the backstream compliment of Thank you, you're worthy of touching them.

Dear idiots, the issue is not your worthiness, but her desires. You can pretend all you want that you are living in a brand new world, but if she says you can touch her breasts because you are worthy, oh great one, and not because she wants you to, then it's really just the same old world. As it usually is.

Plus, "an eBay-like need"?? wtf is that even supposed to mean?

It could have been a base lechery. But instead, it was sexual desire made simple. We knew we couldn't go further, but being allowed inside this area of restricted access with nothing more than a question was somehow amazing.

After all, usually women make using their bodies all complicated and shit.

Oh and wtf is up with confusing desire and pleasure? Dudez, the desire was made simple by skipping from compliments to expressing your id. It's the getting of sexual pleasure, not desire, that you are talking about here.

We stood there afterwards, a little shocked

Do I really have to say the obvious?

Then someone else spoke up in the same tone of voice:

"You can touch mine, too."

Well, at least this time there was no "it's no big deal." Although, I must ask, why no "Can I see your cock?" Cuz that's totally what I would have said instead.

And my God! We all reached out like zombies trying to break through a door to get to those breasts.

Yeah, no desperation here.

And it wasn't getting any worse! We weren't degenerating into an orgy....

Isn't that a direct contradiction to the above sentence? Or maybe he thinks zombies are sexy.

Nobody was trying to pull off a bra or suck on a nipple; we'd been given access to a very special place that only lovers usually touched, and why would you be so crude as to try to push the boundaries of that?

You mean men can be expected to respect personal boundaries? I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you!

No really. After reading all of this, I kinda am.

And every girl in that hallway was then asked the question: "May I touch your breasts?" They considered, and said yes. And we all did.

Wow, no pressure there.

And my Lord, I'd had experience in breasts in my time, but having so many compared right next to each other was beautiful. One of the reasons I love sex is because every body is so different, and the differences in size, and skin tone, and nipple sensitivity, and bras - bras were a big deal in how a boob felt - were highlighted....

Yes, every breast is different, but only some are worthy of being touched.

We went back to some of the first open-sourcers, eager for comparison. "Can I touch them again?" "Sure!" And the feel-ups continued.

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means. As others have painstakingly pointed out, open-source is about who owns the rights, not who ultimately uses the software.

I felt the terrors of high school washing away from me. It could be this easy. Just ask!

Apologies, but I really must quote CM on this one:

"I wish all our unsubs tacked their profile up on the wall like this."

Unresolved issues much?

And then the real magic happened. Because a beautiful girl in an incredibly skimpy blue Princess outfit strode down the hallway, obviously putting her assets on display (the thin strips of her clothing had to be taped to her body to stay on), and we stopped her.

Oh dear god, no.

"Excuse me," the first, very brave girl asked. "You're very beautiful. I'd like to touch your breasts. Would you mind if I did?"

Ok, now I'm really confused. If the idea is that people should take "I'd like to touch your breasts" to equal "You're very beautiful" then why the hell did she say both? Methinks someone isn't being very honest with themselves.

We held our breath. We didn't want to offend.

Yet, they "didn't want to" enough to not take the risk of doing so, obviously. How daring of them to risk her feeling humiliated so that they could cop a feel.

This could go wrong, collapsing and turning us into cruel lechers who'd make her feel uncomfortable and shamed of who she was....

You know, most people get past the "it doesn't happen unless I see it" stage at about age 3.

A tip for all dudez (and dudettes) thinking of trying this. Her saying that you are lechers is not what turns you into lechers.

She thought for a heartbeat, sizing us up. But there must have been something honest and trustworthy in our eyes that promised that we wouldn't get out of hand... Because after a moment, she smiled and said, "Sure!"

Again with the worthiness. And the idea men behaving is shocking. And the lack of awareness of risk analysis. (She decided that they were trustworthy, not that what they promised was worth the risk of what might happen. And god forbid we mentioned the possibility of peer pressure or the risk analysis often involved in saying "yes" when you want to say "no.")

The first girl touched respectfully.

The repetition of "respectful" is really making me wonder why such respect is considered so noteworthy to the author.

And reported that they were glorious.

More than any other part of this post, this sentence makes me want to beg the writer in question to never write anything ever again. Please. With sugar on top.

.... It wasn't that she was a piece of meat to be felt up, but rather that a living person that we did not know had voluntarily lowered the barriers that separate us and allowed us in... And we were so grateful that we were showering her in pure adoration.

You know, I might actually believe this if I thought for one nano-second that any one of them asked her how she wanted to be touched, rather than if they could touch her or how she didn't want to be touched. But since I'm fairly certain none of them did, I fail to see how any of this is adoration.

It was exciting, of course. I won't deny it was sexual.

Except for her, of course.

But it was a miraculous sexuality that didn't feel dirty, but clean.

Dare I suggest that it's because you weren't bothered by thoughts of her pleasure? Plus, your issues are showing again. You might want to take care of that. And no, not caring about how others feel is not the way to do so.

Emboldened, we started asking other people. And lo, in the rarified atmosphere of the con, few were offended and many agreed.

Which makes it all good, cuz that's what a democracy is about, right? As long as most everyone's ok with it, it's ok to do it.

And they also felt that strange charge.

You know, it might have been just you. I doubt that most SF fans are quite as repressed as the stereotype says they are.

Or, it could have just been the static electrcity

We went around the con, asking those who we thought might be amenable - you didn't just ask anyone, but rather the ones who'd dressed to impress - and generally, people responded. They understood how this worked instinctively, and it worked.

Gee, there's no rape apology lingering under all that. No siree.

And on a completely unrelated note, I wore oversized t-shirts all through high school because I was all about being comfortable at that age.

By the end of the evening, women were coming up to us. "My breasts," they asked shyly, having heard about the project. "Are they... are they good enough to be touched?"

I just can't snark about that. It's just too sad.

And lo, we showed them how beautiful their bodies were without turning it into something tawdry.

I'm glad you've finally figured out how to do that, but I still don't think a public space is quite the right place for it.

Oh, and I thought I'd give you fair warning that I'm trying to find a way to ban the letters l and o from the internet.

We talked about this. It was an Open-Source Project, making breasts available to select folks.

Really, there is no end to his lack of understanding of the idea of open-source.

(Like any good project, you need access control, because there are loutish men and women who just Don't Get It.)

Irony, my good friend! So nice to see you.

And we wanted a signal to let people know that they were okay with being asked politely,

For their sake, of course.

so we turned it into a project:

The Open-Source Boob Project.

At Penguicon, we had buttons to give away. There were two small buttons, one for each camp: A green button that said, "YES, you may" and a red button that said "NO, you may not." And anyone who had those buttons on, whether you knew them or not, was someone you could approach and ask:

"Excuse me, but may I touch your breasts?"

Ok so, I'm going to give the Douche the benefit of the doubt and assume that people with the latter buttons were left alone. But still, what is the point of the "No!" buttons?

Oh, silly me, I keep thinking that he's being sincere in trying to make this easier for the gropees. No, it's always all about the gropers.

And if you weren't a total lout - the women retained their right to say no, of course - they would push their chests out, and you would be allowed into the sanctity of it. That exchange of happiness where one person are told with gropes and touches that they are desirable and the other is someone who's allowed to desire.

Again, desire =/= sexual pleasure. Which, in turn =/= access to other's bodies. There is a connection, yes. But they are not all the same thing.

For a moment, everything that was awkward about high school would fade away and you could just say what was on your mind. It was as though parts of me were being healed whenever I did it, and I touched at least fifteen sets of boobs at Penguicon.

Unresolved issues. Drink!

It never got old, surprisingly.

Surprising? In what way is that surprising?

Some women didn't want to. That was fine.

Wow. Good to know.

We never demanded anything of anyone.

You know, despite the obvious douchbaggery involved here, it never actually occurred to me that any of them did (explicitly). The fact that he felt the need to clarify that makes me wonder, however.

And if you didn't want to put yours up for the Project but you wanted to touch, well, that was fine, too. It was simply for folks who felt like being open.

Open to what, exactly? Other than being reassured that I am worthy enough to be groped, I'm a little confused as to what I'm supposed to be open to.

It was a raging success at Penguicon.... And there haven't been any hookups that I know of thanks to the Open-Source Boob Project.

So, I'm not saying that touches aren't good by themselves, but still, this is a good thing why?

I've left off the names, because frankly, people should reveal for themselves whether they're Open-Sourcers or not. Not everyone wants to go public with it, and what happens at the con stays at the con. But trust me. If you are, and I meet you, I will ask.

You have insurance, yes? Good.

And you'll understand the beauty and simplicity of the Open-Source Boob Project for yourself.

Well, yes, being the crazy feminazi that I am, I'm always eager to kick men in the balls. I so rarely get socially sanctioned chances to do so, however. Nice of you to do me that favor.

Touch the magic, my friends. Touch the magic.

And here, I though that earlier sentence could never be topped for pure "dear god, I wish I'd never read that"-ness.


Mana G said...

In the beginning, he man seems, to me, to take incredible pains to insist(unsuccessfully) that this "Open-Source Boob Project" is not about privilige. Then, as he elaborates, (as you so brilliantly make clear), he proceeds to make the thing ALL ABOUT PRIVILIGE. Whatever he says about the women's roles in the "Project," in the end it is all about the men. That, to me, is what makes it so, so very squicky.

Mickle said...


And apparently his responses are even worse.

The most telling is where someone suggests that the would-be-gropers be the ones to wear the buttons and the willing groppes do the asking.

But no, that's too passive.

Too passive for whom? being the unspoken question that proves he's privileged ass.