Holla Back That Ass Up!

April 29, 2008

Handy illustration of hot feminist activism? Or just more sex-sells advertising? I can never tell…

Some of you may be aware of the much-lauded feminist self-defense project, Holla Back. The project started with Holla Back NYC, and has spread to an uncountable number of world-wide locations.

Personally, I’ve always had some concerns.

First, some of these cretinous Dudes are probably proud to have their grinning mugs and exposed penises posted on the internet.

Second, many of the comments on Holla Back trade in heavy doses of classism to put pervvy assholes in their place–including on post in which the poster called the harassers’ “nice,” “polite” boss. This is unsurprising, but strikes me as a strategy likely to reproduce, rather than eradicate, a cycle of shame, resentment, misogyny and harassment.

But my main concern is that there is nothing particularly feminist about the technology of the camera phone-plus-internet combo, or strategic about this kind of individual resistance to street harassment. In the context of a sexist, porn-sick society I fear that defending our right to take pictures of whomever we want in public and do whatever we want with them on the internet will be more than likely to bite us in the ass, than solve the problem.

The Camera phone expose is a neutral technology on a power-infused field; who’s going to be more humiliated to find their picture posted on the internet against their will (given that a main function of the internet is collection and delivery of pornographic images)–me or some asshole street harasser?

I don’t know quite yet, because I haven’t located my picture on the internet as of this morning. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. My feeling is that 80’s night should be a sacred space of cheese where I’m allowed to dance in peace without some shitbag taking pictures of myself and my companions to giggle (or worse) over with his friends, but, alas, it isn’t.

Which leads me to my final point. Regardless of what recent 20/20 “journalism” might suggest to the average viewer, straight men getting turned on by live girl-on-girl action and then hitting on said girls or taking their picture or laughing and pointing or following them home really doesn’t count as social “approval” of gay public displays of affection.

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I already hate 2008

January 11, 2008

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Please, Dudes. Don’t make me identify with Hillary. Or–God!–feel sorry for her. She’s been responsible for the death and rape of more people than your average Dude could hope to catcall in a single life time. And you think the problem with her is that she’s a bitch?
Fuck you.

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If my experience is any guide (and according to MRA concern trolls, it is not) rudeness can be an effective and satisfying strategy against sexual harassment.

When I was a budding young man-hating bitch, I was still too young to drive. I therefore had to walk about a mile to the bus to get to my summer job at an art supply store. Back then I lived in Houston, Texas, a city that some have described as “the Asshole of America.” In fact, it is more accurately described as the Cunt of America; Houston is incredibly wet, ridiculously hot, and with a basically roundish geography that some people, unaccountably, find endlessly confusing.

In any case, I was walking along the bayou to the bus. It was hot as hell. For trips like this I always packed a 48oz plastic cup full of homemade iced tea (non-sweet; I was a traitor to the South even back then) . On this particular day, a white Ford Explorer slowed down. The Ford Explorer contained at least four baseball players from the nearby high school, wearing white baseball caps. White-capper Dudes. Great.

They start calling out “hey, babys” and “you look sexys” and “nice ass.” They speed off. They round the corner. They do that again. The slow down as the approach me once again from behind.

This time they drive slowly next to me, and the passenger leans out of the car, and describes, in a creepy whisper, sexual acts he would like to perform on my body in detail so crass and violent I can’t bring myself to repeat it even now 10 years later. Also, if I do, my readership, which seems to consist entirely of c8rpse p8rn surfers and MRA’s searching for “misandry,” would probably double.

I was young, inexperienced both with sex and with the level of hate directed at people with the bodies of adult women. But I only froze in anger and fear for a moment. In the next move, without turning to look at them, I threw the entire 48oz of iced tea in the window of the Explorer.

Passenger Dude stopped talking mid-charming discussion of my various orifices. The Explorer sped off, this time with no intention of circling back for more. I took pleasure in picturing Driver Dude explaining to his mom how the white upholstery came to be covered in tea…

Him: “We were stopped at a red light and this crazy girl threw tea at us!”

Mom: “yeah, my ass.”