Situations where it’s OK for men to talk to women they don’t know

Content note: this post discusses a form of street harassment

The tantrum crops up time and time again. This time it’s because there was backlash from women towards an article teaching men how to chat up women who are wearing headphones. When women say they’d rather be left alone, men tend to completely lose their shit. Apparently it will cause the poor babies anxiety:

It’s funny how it’s almost always men pushing this nobody-ever-talks-to-each-other dystopia, while for women it actually sounds like it might alleviate anxiety somewhat, what with not having to worry about whether the latest man coming up to us wants to murder us, or merely rape us.

This is the thing men never understand, in pushing their imaginary world wherein men striking up conversation with strange women is polite, romantic, or otherwise not unpleasant: maybe you’re not a rapist murderer, but you could be. And even if a woman isn’t afraid, your advances may still be unwelcome, because sometimes people just want to ride the tube in peace, walk home in peace, drink a cup of mediocre coffee in peace.

So, men, let’s start from the assumption that your attempt to start a conversation with a complete stranger is more likely to be unwelcome than it is to be welcome. Yes, even if she does respond to you, that’s pretty likely to be out of a conditioned sense of politeness rather than any genuine desire to hear about your opinion of the book she’s trying to read.

Going from this assumption, there are few scenarios wherein it is acceptable for men to talk to women they don’t know in public places:

  • If she’s in mortal peril and you need to rescue her. Maybe a time-travelling robot is trying to kill her. Or maybe the peril is more banal, and she has a long trail of bog roll stuck to her shoe, or she dropped her keys. At these points, it’s perfectly polite to say “You dropped this,” or “Come with me if you want to live.”
  • If you’re a benefactor who is bestowing a completely non-conditional gift on her, such as handing her ÂŁ50, or a gigantic diamond. It is then socially acceptable to say “excuse me, have this money,” hand it over, and then let her be on her way.
  • If she’s doing a job, wearing a t-shirt saying “Ask me about mortgages”, or something similar. Please note, in this scenario, it is only acceptable to ask her about mortgages.
  • Literally no other reason.

If you’re concerned that this might lead to you never getting to speak to a woman again, consider this: you’re probably an obnoxious tit. Get out and meet women in situations where you’re likely to have something in common with them: develop a hobby, get a bloody job in a non-misogynistic industry, &c., &c.

And meanwhile, leave women alone to just move about in the world without being bothered.

 

Things I read

Welcome to the exceptionally-late round up. Here are some articles.

Black Lives Matter: Why we #Shutdown Heathrow Airport this morning (Wail Qasim)- A report on the action. Follow UK Black Lives Matter. Twitter FB Vital work.

My feminism will be capitalist, appropriative and bullshit merchandise (Flavia Dzodan)- Flavia coined a very popular feminist slogan, but it’s been appropriated and profited from.

10 things about BDSM and 10 things about better kinky sex (Queer Anarchism)- An exceptionally good short critique of the problems of BDSM, and a move towards solutions.

For Poly Folks Who Desperately Need Autonomy (brute reason)- This meditation on relationship needs, contrary to the title, is probably a must-read for everyone, not just poly people.

Outing gay men on Grindr isn’t journalism. It’s homophobic and dangerous (Huw Lemmey)- A resplendently furious, comprehensive and sadly necessary response.

Hollywood Has Ruined Method Acting (Angelica Jade Bastien)- How the Hollywood style of method acting is absolutely awful.

Why I now stand with Caster Semenya (Madeleine Pape)- An athlete explains how she came round to supporting one of the greatest runners in the world.

A Peek Inside Berlin’s Queer Club Scene Before Hitler Destroyed It (Clayton J. Whisnant)- A little bit of forgotten history.

The Spoon Theory Gave People the Wrong Idea About My Illness (Jennie Smales)- The spoon theory helps some people explain their disabilities, but abled people still get the wrong end of the stick.

Getting Rid Of Clothes I Hated Helped Me Love My Body (Arianna Rebolini)- I did this myself, and for me it worked a hell of a lot better than losing weight.

No Human is Illegal: Immigration raids that treat migrants as criminals are a disgrace (Maya Goodfellow)- Examining the wider context to Byron’s egregious behaviour–hope you’re still boycotting those rip-off burgers though!

Does Marge have friends? (Raphael Bob-Waksberg)- A short twitter poem that made me cry.

A Closed Loop: Sex Work, Violence and Criminalisation (Molly Smith)- Looking at community violence against sex workers, and how it interacts with criminalising the job.

Detransition, Desistance, and Disinformation: A Guide for Understanding Transgender Children Debates (Julia Serano)- An exceptionally handy guide to what’s really going on.

And finally, have an accidental broadcast of Aziz Ansari subtitles over a nature show, it made me cackle.

Dear Sussex University, remove Lee Salter

Update: Sussex University now say Salter is no longer employed by the university. Good.

Content note: this post discusses violence against women and institutional misogyny

This letter has been sent by email to information@sussex.ac.uk, and to the Vice Chancellor vc@sussex.ac.uk, with the subject line “Lee Salter”

Dear Sussex University,

Sack Lee Salter, effective immediately.

The urgency of this situation calls for a directness some may find uncomfortable.

In your employ is a lecturer named Lee Salter. He has been convicted of beating a woman, a former student. You kept him on, knowing this. You say that he has been suspended from teaching duties, but you have not confirmed this in writing. Can you confirm that he will not be teaching at your institution?

I ask because induction week is fast approaching, and Salter picked his last victim out at an induction day. Will you be taking steps to ensure that Salter will not be able to make contact with any young, vulnerable women during the induction process?

You see, I don’t trust you to take this predator very seriously. You smiled and nodded and advised Salter to be discreet when you learned of his relationship with a student. The woman Salter beat felt as though she had received no support from you. You can’t undo the harms you have already allowed to happen, but you can take steps to preventing them ever happening again.

I believe in rehabilitation, but I believe that the need for women to be safety takes precedence. I have also seen no evidence whatsoever that Salter is in any way rehabilitated: he thinks he has done so little wrong that he is appealing his sentence.

A man who manipulates, coerces and beats woman students over whom he is in a position of power is not someone who should be anywhere near woman students. So it’s really important that we see some evidence that you are taking steps to keep him away from anyone he could possibly victimise. Personally, I think sacking him is the best possible step, since beating a woman shouldn’t be a ticket to indefinite paid holiday time.

I see you, Sussex. We see you. You cannot hide this any longer. Please provide reassurances that you will never put Lee Salter in a position where he can abuse again.

The Great Pussy Bake Off: Cunt Sourdough vs Regular Sourdough

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I’ve been continuing with my experimental baking, and decided to compare a freshly-made sourdough starter containing a sample of my vaginal flora with a control starter that didn’t contain any vaginal yeast. One of them performed really well, and the other… didn’t.

The full report will be published on this blog on September 4th, but if you’re desperate to find out whether vaginal yeast improves sourdough, or makes it inedibly gross, you can read it on my Patreon page–it’s patrons only, but you can access it by pledging as little as $1. Also included in the post is a recipe for quick, simple crumpets!

Read: The Great Pussy Bake Off.