I find it highly amusing that his username is "ferret."
So. Heinous things have gone down on LiveJournal today, in case you missed it!
It started with theferrett posting about something he calls the Open-Source Boob Project. His post is here, although he's edited the opening to whine about people commenting on his public post, and not being able to keep track because LiveJournal is not his job. Can I just say? That I totally understand that blogging is not a full-time job. And sometimes people leave 1,000 entries on a post you wrote that you see nothing wrong with. But you don't have to reply to every comment! I personally think it's really awesome if people start talking to each other in the comments of my entries. Just saying. There are much better things to whine about.
Anyway, here is an excerpt from his original post:
"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."
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."
We all reached out in the hallway, hands and fingers extended, to get a handful. And lo, we touched her breasts - taking turns to put our hands on the creamy tops exposed through the sheer top she wore, cupping our palms to touch the clothed swell underneath, exploring thoroughly but briefly lest we cross the line from 'touching" to "unwanted heavy petting." They were awesome breasts, worthy of being touched.
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?"
kate_nepveu articulates quite nicely why this is not okay:
If you are a stranger, especially a man, perhaps especially in a group of other strangers who are men, and you come up to me and say, "You're very beautiful. I'd like to touch your breasts. Would you mind if I did?":
You will put me in fear.
Because you could be someone who will go away quietly if I say no (which I will). You could be the exiled gay prince of Farlandia, cursed to wander this Earth looking for the key to his return that can only be revealed by touching the breast of a willing stranger, and who isn't enjoying this at all. You could, in short, not be a danger to me.
But how am I supposed to know that?
How am I supposed to distinguish you from the person who says he's really just whatever, but is actually going to put emotional pressure on me, or make a scene, or stalk me, or rape me?
I can't. Because that would require a level of discernment and of trust that is not possible, by definition, in my dealings with a stranger.
And therefore, if you ask to touch my breasts, you will frighten me.
If your goal is actually to make a better world, I suggest that you use a method that doesn't involve putting women in fear.
coffeeandink is a bit more blunt with, "Fuck you. My breasts are not a shared common resource."
hernewshoes has compiled links to more horrific comments, and tries to consolidate a timeline.
rachelmanija expresses her own views here.
I have no objection to clearly labeled private grope parties. But I enjoy cons, and tempting as the prospect is to get the chance to try out my martial arts in a real-life situation, I think the desire of women to not enter a public grope zone pre-empts my desire to kick the asses of sexual harassers, or theferrett's desire to cop a lot of feels.
Therefore, if I hear that this button scheme is likely to go on at any con I would like to attend, I will contact the management for the hotel in which it takes place, inform them of it, point out the danger of sexual harassment lawsuits, and further inform them that if they do not get the con organizers to ban the buttons from public spaces at the con, and someone gropes me, I will sue the hotel and call the police. And that I will also encourage anyone else who is groped without their consent to sue the hotel and call the police.
And I think that coffeeandink makes a very timely argument to people trying to play-down the original post. Because, indeed, theferrett did refer to it as the "Open Source Boob Project," which, to me, sounds like a movement, and not a one-time or one-con or one-space event.
What you observed at the con is one part of the discussion. What it means for this practice to be made into a movement and extended to other spaces is another issue, which is not resolved by individual women at one con feeling threatened or unthreatened.
It appears as though theferrett has deleted all of the comments on his original post? Which is a shame, because I wanted to link to everything that mswyrr said, as she was amazing.
ETA: Thanks to goldjadeocean's comment on this entry, I can now link to mswyrr's comment, and then thread of comments on theferrett's original post. Find the thread here.
Also, ladyjax has some friendly advice: "Touch your own damn self. You'll be glad you did."
ETA 2: I like what coffeeandink has to say about this issue as related to space:
What people are saying is: Women spend THEIR ENTIRE LIVES IN SEXUALIZED SPACES. All of us. Ugly, pretty, fat, thin. Women are by default assumed to be sexual objects for the enjoyment of the men we encounter, and our pleasure has nothing to do with it. All spaces. Streets, houses, bedrooms. Either we are pretty/dressed provocatively/flirt, in which case we're asking for it, or we are plain/dressed in concealing clothes/don't flirt, in which case we're repressed prudes unable to enjoy sex because of damaged psyches.
What you're suggesting, repeatedly, is taking a public space whose boundaries are often and already transgressed to sexualize us when we want to be whole persons including but not limited to bodies and saying that these already-permeable boundaries are too solid. What you're suggesting is that instead of the default being "No, you may not touch my body", you want to turn cons -- large public spaces -- into spaces where women have to repeatedly and loudly say no in order to be heard. And you keep insisting on equating "No, you may not touch me" and "No, you may not act like my body exists for the sole purpose of your enjoyment or edification" with "You are bad and wrong for having sexual desires." You're not bad and wrong for having sexual desires. You're bad and wrong for arguing that your sexual desires are the most important criteria under consideration.