mystickeeper [userpic]

I find it highly amusing that his username is "ferret."

April 22nd, 2008 (05:11 pm)

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.


Posted by: Sasha_feather (sasha_feather)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)

So why is this skeevy idiot getting so much attention? Did he post this in a community? The discussion is all over my f-list.

Posted by: mystickeeper (mystickeeper)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
You may refer to me as God.

No, he only posted in his journal. Judging by his profile, he's just a really popular LJ person (over 3,000 people have him on their friends list). I've noticed that in the Wiscon community (not the actual LJ community, but the people), and with coffeeandink's friends in particular, epic fail like this spreads like wildfire.

I'm sure it got put on fandomwank, or something? Even friends of mine who usually don't post about feminism are blogging about it.


Posted by: Bears and Butterflies (goldjadeocean)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
Gospel according to St. Bastard

It's not on f_w, because it's not funny. I saw it via james_nicoll, who's another fandom hub.

mswyrr said:

I'm not trying to be adversarial here, I'm just confused. Many people seem to be upset by this, but if you were uncomfortable with the idea wouldn't it be refreshing to be able to just put on a red button to keep the annoying men away?

Sometimes, I like to enjoy the delusion of living in a world where what a woman has on her chest isn't the primarily important thing about her, whether it be buttons or shirts or what-have-you. I'd like to live in a society where my bodily autonomy is the default and not something I or any other woman is required to indicate by a pin, or drive myself crazy trying to make the "right" clothing choices to indicate.

It's been the experience of myself and other women that we're treated as if we're perpetually wearing a freaking green button in the eyes of some men, for reasons like the lovely ferret mentioned when he said that the "beautiful girl in in an incredibly skimpy blue Princess outfit strode down the hallway, obviously putting her assets on display." That right there is a man looking for an excuse to stop a woman going about her life and put her on the spot as a sexual object by asking a really freaking horrible question that she in no way indicated she wanted to be asked. No, really: wearing an outfit ferret found hot wasn't a "yes" signal. Srsly.

What if you were your dick to 80% of the people you met. Every day, the eyes of women around you went to it. Not every woman, but enough. What if women offered comments about how you "look cold," or "warm," felt free to comment on her possible choice of undergarments, or stroke your back in a "friendly" way meant to figure out whether you've got underwear on.

What if somebody told you that now it's okay for women to grope you, whereas when they did it before at least it was frowned upon.

All you have to do to say no is pin a big red sign to this area you already feel vulnerable and objectified about. This thing that sometimes doesn't even feel like it's you anymore, because so many other people have claimed ownership of it.

Wouldn't you want to scream and shout and say "damnit, we're not even living in a world where this dick is mine, why do you have to come along and make this shit I put up with worse? Why do you have to make everything I am even MORE about this for your pleasure?"

Posted by: tif123 (tif123)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 11:30 pm (UTC)

That comment wins.

Posted by: mystickeeper (mystickeeper)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)

THANK YOU for the link, and the copy/paste! I think I got confused, with his re-edits and stuff, as to where the original post was. Reading this comment for a second time made me feel even better than it did the first time. It targets exactly what I find so appalling about the original post.

Posted by: Sasha_feather (sasha_feather)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC)

INTERNET INFAMOUS! You see, J., internet fame isn't always something to strive for. (*rueful laugh*)

Posted by: mystickeeper (mystickeeper)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
You may refer to me as God.

Mmmmmaybe. ;)

Posted by: badgerbag (badgerbag)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 01:24 am (UTC)

Now when I saw some ripples about this, this morning, I didn't see the open source part. OMFG. It pissed me off royally in the beginning, and now I am ballistic. It makes me sick someone would mess with the open source philosophy that way.

Posted by: mystickeeper (mystickeeper)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 01:25 am (UTC)

I think my favorite comment about this was by lnhammer:

Leaving aside the personal space issues for the moment, as mighty a granite block as they are, the Open Boobs Project has a major failure of metaphor. The guys aren't contributing boobs to the project -- they're just the testers. What they do for bugs is an interesting question: reject them? insist it the defects be "corrected"? And more ugliness. Really, they should have beta-tested the name with a rhetorician before taking it live.
All of which points up that it's misnamed. What they're trying for is public domain boobs.
Which is a good way of pointing up that granite mountain of personal space. I suggest everyone start calling it the Public Domain Boobs Project. Mockery being a most excellent criticism.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
Open What?

I'm not even sure what "Open Source Boobs" even means ...

A free comprehensive DNA-screening with every grope? That might be worth it if you consider yourself high-risk for various diseases.


Posted by: badgerbag (badgerbag)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)

Oh you slay me. Then we could have the Creative Commons boob-ogling license as well. I think I might just go copyleft my body now...

Posted by: Meeko Nari and Jume (jume)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 06:11 am (UTC)

"he guys aren't contributing boobs to the project "
you missed the part where he said he let himself be groped as well, then xD

It's kinda weird; ferrett's a guy whose lj I've been reading for several years now and he's always posting crazy views and stuff he does, so it's kinda weird to see a bunch of people from EVERYWHERE making a big fuss about it.

it seems to abide by the 'free as in beer' concept that OSS goes by to me anyways.

Posted by: Jacquelyn (antarcticlust)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:20 pm (UTC)
Queen Elizabeth

I suppose I shouldn't be shocked that there are twisted concepts of sexuality playing out at Cons - one of the big problems I always had with the role-playing and otherwise geeky crowd I hung out with at times (often comprised solely of men) was the often completely fucked-up relationships to women that were played out both on and off the gaming table. Guys who played females were often "raped" in-game, females were aggressively pursued and made to feel like shit because they didn't want to date the "nice guys" (and were accused of wanting rich guys, or some other stereotype, as an alternative). Patriarchal elements played out in fantasy princess-in-a-tower antics, where the emasculated men could be hero for a day, replete with dark and brooding good looks and a very large, er, sword.

Don't get me wrong - I love my geekery and don't begrudge my past. I loved the guys I played with - some of whom where my best friends and boyfriends. I certainly don't want to suggest that these kinds of scenes are the only ones out there, but they are heavily, heavily prevalent. The women who hang out with them are often highly sexualized, even beyond what you might experience in day-to-day life, and the elements of low self-esteem that often draw people to the geeking/gaming lifestyle are often reiterated in the role of the (then, at least) rare female gamer: lots of attention, lots of expectations.

I've rambled enough. But thanks for gathering all the comments and posts and such.

13 Read Comments