A Comment

I have to go to work for a few hours.

I pulled this comment up from my friend Derek from the backwaters of a previous post. I am not at all sure that D reallt went back and read Wess' post and 45 comments.

I won't get back to this until later today.
Meanwhile, anyone want to have a go at responding to this?

Derek Lamson said...
What do we do about the fact that young impregnable women's secondary sexual characteristics - breasts, buttocks, skin tone, hair sheen, eyes, lovely smell - ALL are apparently designed by a Benevolent Deity with one practical object in mind... and that, brothers and sisters, that practical function is to attract otherwise clueless young males. Otherwise they might spend all their time blowing things up, or punching each other on the arm.I mean obviously. The biological task programmed into any young guy is - at a glance - to tell the difference between a possible mate, and say, a sapling. Or another male. Wouldn't want to make that mistake, would we?

Look, Ms Parson's, I have always enjoyed the smart strong savvy women in my life. Always. And I've usually been able to admit the truth with a smile when I knew some woman was smarter, stronger, savvier than me. For instance, better in airports, just to pull a wild example out of my imagination...

As an almost 55 year old guy I can say a little easier these days, "Dress - or undress - any damn way you want. Wear a burlap bag or a bikini: my job is to treat you with courtesy and respect."

And absolutely, the young guys in the car were out of line. Three on one is chicken anyway you slice it. I feel a little more sympathy for the older guy; because I think that having a protective attitude towards the pregnant lady is a good and gallant thing.

So... but... so... do you really think, "Hey bud, whattayou think you're lookin at...?" is quite fair? Isn't little buddy - our universal young man - just looking because that's the way he's built, too?

Just sign mePerplexed in Portland
Gallantry can be nice from time to time. Frequently it is unnecessary and presumptive. Having a "protective attitude" towards a pregnant woman assumes that she needs to be protected, which in turn implies that she is unable to protect herself.

Boys in cars are nothing more than an annoyance which every woman deals with on a regular basis, it is not something we need to be protected from. We are perfectly capable of handling things ourselves.

There is a bit of a dual lesson here, the old man, while acting on a false presumption, is teaching the boys that its not socially acceptable to heckle a pregnant woman. A slight plus.

Being a pregnant woman myself at the moment has really driven the chivalrous actions of others to a crazy making point. All the people trying to "protect" me, while done with good intentions, is a little insulating. I am perfectly capable of protecting myself and my baby.

We need to teach our sons what real protection involves (i.e. stopping someone from hitting a child.)

We need to teach our daughters that they can protect themselves.

-Daughter #1 who still hates recitals.
I'd say: Hey, Bud, I know the difference between a guy simply flirting (e.g., yesterday a guy rolled down his window & said "buenas, linda!"). What's the difference between this guy's big, warm smile and me smiling by just waving and him going about his business, and the jerk-offs who followed Pastor Parsons?

The difference is (pay close attention): The guy who said 'hello' to me with an appreciative twinkle in his eyes was just doing that, acknowledging someone attractive and going about his business. The vultures who followed the Pastor way back when, on the other hand, got off on extracting FEAR, and making their 'subject' feel like a piece of meat they can use.

I don't know how clearer I can make this. Thinking like yours, sir, is the mild version of the Taliban's idea that women need to dress like walking sacks because WOMEN are responsible for straight men's actions.

Oh, and speaking about that -- would a GAY man be justified in treating YOU like those idiots treated the parson because YOU have a large penis that's sort-of bulging just-so, or hot pecs? Just a thought.
James Riemermann said...
This issue you raise, about not being seen as an individual but only in certain assumed roles for a woman, is an important one. I'm glad you raise it.

But I find myself reacting somewhat like Derek, to the way you characterize and seem to judge the old man. The thing is, he didn't know you as a person, so he really couldn't see you individually. The situation didn't allow for it. He saw a bunch of kids treating you like crap, and he straightened them out. The particular language and tone he took might have been off-base, but the easy response would have been for him to ignore the kids' behavior, and he didn't do that. The fact that you didn't need any protection, doesn't mean the old man should have assumed that and walked away. He used your pregnancy to shame the kids, but it's entirely possible he would have responded that way to punks making trouble for anyone. The way you tell the story, he seems like that kind of tough old coot.

I hope I don't come off too strong with this. Most of what you're saying in this "Women's Blog-o-rama" seems right on the money and important. But you might not have been the only person on that street who wasn't seen.

1:46 PM PDT
James, I think you are making apoint very near unto mine. Everyone in this scenario was reduced to a cartoon of themselves. The young, sex-driven "animals", The old man, presumable aged beyond danger and so left the role of avenger, and me, comically getting to play two roles at once. There was no reason for any of us to interact that day, but bad behavior propelled us into the little morality play.

I do happen to think, though cannot prove, that the only reason the old man intervened was my pregnancy. In the Santa Fe culture pregnant equaled "Blessed virgin" you suddenly became totally asexual. I got harassed a lot in Santa Fe, and no one ever said boo about it except this time.
How very nice to hear from the only other person I know who was there on that day.

Hi Baby!
Id just like to thank derek for daring to even maybe possibly seem like he's disagreeing with women on a feminist subject. often, men are completely left out of the discussion because anything they try to add gets equated with the taliban, regardless of what they may or may not have actually said.

So, Thanks Derek!
Dear Perplexed,
I'm perplexed, too.

For a while I lived in a country where the women went about bare-breasted as a matter of course. Men did not follow them around drooling, unable to concentrate on anything else; men kept their hands (and other parts of their anatomy) to themselves in public and went about their business. This, by the way, was a Muslim country and one in which I was taught the importance of unconditionally respecting others.

As an adolescent and adult, I lived in the US and found that all too often men and boys stared, drooled, and treated me as though I was somehow designed for their benefit rather than my own. Dressed modestly for the period, I was nonetheless not seen as myself but as the potential for sexual gratification. And I was told that it was all my fault, that it was up to me to control the response in the male or be subject to it.

How can this be?

If, indeed, male creatures are "wired" to be distracted by female creatures, how is it that in a setting where women (and girls) walk around half-naked men behave more civilly towards women in general than they do in one in which women and girls dress to cover both their upper and lower bodies?

My personal experience in this life leads me to believe that it has nothing to do with how men are "wired" and everything to do with how people are trained. So why do we in the US train people away from respectful behavior?

I find that perplexing.
Derek is entirely correct about attraction, and it's a subject that needs to be considered. As Letty pointed out, there is an appropriate response, which is to silently appriciate and realize that you are not in a position to pursue any possibility of establishing a relationship, or acknowledging the attraction in a way that leaves open the possibility, whether it can be a romantic relationship or not. The point I think Peggy was making was that these boys did not consider "attraction" to be a possible beginning point for getting to know a person. I think this somehow is not taught in our culture, and I don't see it being addressed there. Kids, not just boys, need to know about attraction and attractiveness before Junior high ('cause boys at least seem to go nuts then) not as an invitation to merely physical contacts, but as a spark to getting to know a person, whatever direction that might take as a person to person interaction develops. The old man was right for dressing down the boys, but he was not addressing that point, just that they should "know better" than to express attraction for a pregnant woman..... how did she lose that quality? By being unavailable or somehow holy? I don't think so.

In His Love,
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