I was recently a part of a dialog between numerous people, the catalyst of which was a woman who expressed her discomfort at a recent convention, in which she received unwanted attention. She felt uncomfortable given the situation, and she wanted to start a conversation about her experiences, to determine the experiences of others, and to discuss ways the producers would navigate this tricky water at future events.
I was a first responder to her post on social media, and I stressed that she had to take some of the responsibility on herself for making her discomfort known in the situation. It is the responsibility of the producers of an event to ensure I have access to safety. It is my responsibility to speak up for myself when my comfort is being infringed upon, though.
A very crude example follows: I go to a party at my friend’s home. I have a good enough relationship with the friend (to the point that we will be exchanging gifts at this event) that I can expect her home will not be filled with, say, asbestos. What can I say, I don’t want to get cancer. However, when I get there, I see that there are people smoking on her front porch. She asks me to come out and light up. Here, I have a choice. I can go outside and stand in the cold, uncomfortable and pissed off, but remain silent. Or, I can say, “I would prefer not to,” taking a line from Bartleby.
The onus is on me in this instance. The onus is always on me when I am of my right mind and sound body to determine where my comfort levels can reach.
If I am out dancing, and choosing to not drink (and I should point out that the alcohol was all outside the boundaries of convention space – I do not believe the original poster could make a claim that she was intoxicated when she became uncomfortable, and it was the responsibility of the producers of the event to step in for her safety), and I grind on a male, the responsibility is mine to say, “I would prefer not to,” when he asks if I want to go home and have sex.
If I am at a library, and a man sitting a table’s length from me is staring intently at me, the onus is on me to say, “I would prefer not to be stared at.”
If you are at a non-monogamy focused convention, and you are being flirted with mercilessly, and you really want it to stop, say, “I would prefer not to continue this conversation.”
For anyone to claim that they are not responsible for speaking their discomfort about any situation, well, that is ludicrous in my opinion. If you aren’t comfortable speaking to the person who is making you uncomfortable, it is still your responsibility to find a way to get comfortable. Find a friend to head to the bathroom with. Find a bartender who can cut the jerk off. Find a police officer and go talk to him until the jerk leaves if you don’t want to bring attention to the one who is making you uncomfortable. Find a producer of an event and ask for their help in navigating through the unwanted attention your beauty is attracting.
“Why is it my responsibility to keep myself from being objectified?” My answer is, it isn’t your responsibility to keep from being objectified, as that is IMPOSSIBLE. There will always be jerks in the world who think that a man is nothing more than the size of his penis or his ability to open a jar of pickles. There will always be jerks in the world who think that a woman is nothing more than tits and ass. There will always be jerks in the world who think that punks dress the way they do because they want to be a moving piece of art and it is right to stare. There will always be jerks who will objectify you. There is nothing you can do about that.
It is your responsibility to keep from *feeling* objectified. You are the owner of your emotions, and when there is a catalyst that is triggering an emotion, and when you have a need to know you are seen as more than a piece of meat, then you are responsible for saying so. You are responsible to speak your mind, to be the change you want to see in this world. You are responsible to say, “I would prefer not to.”