Don’t be That Guy
For the idiots on this thread who are trying to use feminist opposition to sexual harassment and assault as a way to “prove” that feminists have some secret agenda against male lust, I offer a funny story from my college years that has always demonstrated to me why men with healthy, mature sexualities should be aligned with feminists on this issue.
So I’m at home one Saturday afternoon in college, and I decide I want to get a ginormous Diet Coke at the 7-11. It’s around the corner, so I walk. It’s hot outside, so I’m wearing a kind of thin T-shirt, cut-off shorts, and sandals. Legs were visible, therefore I’m an attractive target for men who want to say I deserve it if men harass me while pretending to flirt, because I was asking for it. On my way home, a guy in a car pulls up and starts following me, harassing me while disguising it as flirting. Contrary to what guys in this thread are claiming, there were no illusions on his side or mine that the subtext of the conversation was anything but, “You are vulnerable and I could really hurt you, and you know it. Now cringe some more, dear.” But what he said was something along the lines of, “You’re so pretty blah blah get in the car.” Even that pretend flirting is creepy, no? The entitlement—he sees the object, he wants to have it, and my desire to be safe is merely an obstacle between him and his desires.
Anyway, I say no, and then after a moment, tell him to fuck off, and reach for my keys in case I need a weapon. (But it’s because I’m a man-hating feminist that I think I need a weapon because some no doubt not at all rape-inclined sweetheart of a guy couldn’t take no for an answer, right?) He drives off after a minute, and I hurry home, making sure to wind my way through the apartment complex so he can’t follow me home. Which is further evidence that women are fickle, of course, because I was inviting “flirting” with my cut-off shorts.
That night, I’m hanging out with my then-boyfriend and I tell him this story. He jokes, “See, guys like that ruin it for the rest of us. Guys like that make women not want to walk around in public wearing cut-off shorts, and then guys like me who don’t harass women don’t get to see that.” You see, even at his young, inexperienced age, this guy could grasp the basic difference between harassing a woman and flirting with a woman, and the difference between enjoying how someone looks and ogling her to the point where she’s uncomfortable. Mature, healthy straight men don’t get off on making women unhappy, unsafe, or uncomfortable. They enjoy women’s genuine smiles (instead of coerced ones you get by yelling, “Smile!” at someone), relaxed postures, and the pleasure women get from being free.
When you toe the line, cross the line, or ask where the line is, you become That Guy. And That Guy is not just the enemy of women (especially when they waste your time making you feel guilty because you don’t want to be imposed upon or subject to line-toeing behavior), but the enemy of men who can handle themselves in absolutely non-coercive ways. Because everyone but That Guy benefits from women feeling safe and free to dress how they wish, to flirt, and to go about in public without fear of being creeped at. Women benefit, but so do men who can handle themselves. The notion that feminists are on a hunt against male lust is ridiculous. Mature men’s sexuality is better served by a world where women feel safe, because that’s a world where women can be playful, sexy, and fun instead of constantly checking themselves to make sure they aren’t “inviting” harassment and negative attention disguised as flirting.
Here’s the thing, guys who want to posit that women use feminism as a cover to attack male sexuality: The ability to declare that there’s some sort of female anti-sex conspiracy is a form of male privilege. Women who find themselves striking out in the sex and dating department don’t get to pretend that men are hostile to sex. There are men who are hostile to sex, sort of, but they’re social conservatives who are invested in strict gender roles. It’s more that they want to control sex than anything else. I particularly find it laughable when men in comments psychoanalyze me and suggest that my hostile reaction to misogynist pornography is due to some deep hostility to male lust instead of to the more obvious cause, which is the misogyny. It’s easy to put that on women, because you know that they can’t come back with the evidence that they love sex, thankyouverymuch, without it just feeding the creepy vibe that’s already been put into the room by That Guy behavior. But women’s silence on the matter of how they know they really do have a problem with the misogyny in (at least a lot of) porn and not the sex doesn’t mean that those who suggest otherwise are right. Just that their creepy behavior has already put all women around them on notice that we should absolutely button up about our own sexual thoughts and desires because we don’t want to feed the beast.
Okay, that’s off my chest. Now back to my regularly scheduled day of getting my work done so that I can do absolutely nothing of importance on Thanksgiving.