Skip

In Defense of Prudes
July 7, 2011 10:45 AM   Subscribe

So, I have come to take back the knife on behalf of us prudes, who quite often are only reserved, shy, terribly square people whose native restraint and weak knees are, in fact, generally accompanied by a deep love of personal freedom and diversity of opinion. Prudery comes in for a lot of flak because people imagine that the prudes want to impose limitations on the behavior of others, but they particularly, especially do not. The wimpy and yikes-prone, far from wishing to restrict or even to express an opinion regarding anyone else's private practices, are in reality possessed of a fervent, if doomed, desire to know as little about them as possible.
In Defense of Prudes, an essay by Maria Bustillos, from the Awl.
posted by sweetkid (150 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think this could have been call "Redefining Prudishness," because pruishness isn't just modesty.
posted by absalom at 10:48 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


If we really value all this open-mindedness and tolerance like we say we do, presumably people just get to be a total square, shy and reserved without fear of censure. They don't, of course. Maybe they don't want to see the Apatow movie, maybe the very idea of The Human Centipede sends them shrieking into the next room, maybe they don't like to go to the strip club. In practice, though, this kind of reluctance is liable to be treated as inferior, defective even, plus politically incorrect because if you say that you don't like to go to the strip club, this might easily be taken to mean that you're stuck up and narrow-minded and don't have respect for sex workers, plus probably you will be told that you're so inhibited personally that sleeping with you must really be some kind of ordeal. On balance it's often easier to just go along to the heinous performance art or endure all the farting and whatnot in the Apatow movie than it is to deal with the smackdown if you don't.

tldr maria bustillos's friends are pushy asses who love Human Centipede a lot
posted by Greg Nog at 10:53 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Women are farting in films, people. Farting.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:57 AM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


American Heritage Dictionary:
prude

(prūd) pronunciation
n.
One who is excessively concerned with being or appearing to be proper, modest, or righteous.
The question, now, is what's "excessive" and who gets to decide. If you go by the majority definition, and you're more modest than the majority, you're a prude. For now, anyway. If everyone does as you ask and keeps their private business private, you cease prude-ing.

With that in mind, the essay is about how fucked up our standards of modesty are.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:59 AM on July 7, 2011


On one hand I think the double-standard is a real thing and it sucks but on the other hand I have lost my patience for opinion essays on the internet. If for nothing else they all seem to describe life on a very alien, hostile planet besieged by anxiety gorgons on all sides.
posted by The Whelk at 11:00 AM on July 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


MetaFilter: a very alien, hostile planet besieged by anxiety gorgons on all sides.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:02 AM on July 7, 2011 [20 favorites]


Are you saying I'm the only one who sees the anxiety gorgons? Fuck.
posted by enn at 11:05 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


That author was trying to redefine what being "prude" means. Quite to the contrary, prudish folks are usually try to censure art, entertainment, literature, and different cultural norms.

Sorry prudes, we can't bubble wrap the world for you just so your aren't squeaked out at the slightest normal bodily function, or whatever it is that gets under your skin. The world is a diverse, beautiful, and ugly place. Get use to it.
posted by handbanana at 11:05 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"anxiety gorgon" sockpuppet? Anybody?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:06 AM on July 7, 2011


Women are farting in films, people. Farting.

But only in films, right? It's not, like, happening out here in the real world, right? Right?
posted by griphus at 11:07 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


So, handbanana, what would you call someone whose take on things is, "it's cool if you want to go to a strip club, or you're into bondage or have a foot fetish or something, but I'd rather not see it, and I don't like that I get flak for not wanting to see it"?

Because for some things, that's kind of me. I was once at the same party with someone who had brought her slave, and at some point she started idly flogging him. I happened to glance over, did a double-take, and she saw me looking and offered me the chance to have a swing. I politely, but hastily, declined.

But then my friends, who'd watched the whole scene play out, teased me about it -- why hadn't I taken a crack at whipping this guy? What was wrong with me? But that's the thing -- nothing was wrong with me. I didn't think anything was wrong in general principle, but it just wasn't something I wanted to do, and there is nothing wrong with that.

So if "prude" is not the word for that, what is?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:10 AM on July 7, 2011 [23 favorites]


Hell, I'd happily trade accounts permanetnly for a username like "anxiety gorgon."
posted by Marty Marx at 11:10 AM on July 7, 2011


Women are farting in films, people. Farting.
posted by 2bucksplus at 6:57 PM on July 7


Rule 34 applies here too, I regret to say. Or so I've been told.
posted by Decani at 11:12 AM on July 7, 2011


"A violent case of the willies" did not turn out to mean what I thought it might.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:12 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


on the other hand I have lost my patience for opinion essays on the internet

I haven't—I love a good personal opinion essay. But MAN this shit was boring.
posted by kate blank at 11:13 AM on July 7, 2011


don't be silly - no woman would ever fart in real life.

They just explode instead. It's hell getting the gut stains out of the carpet.
posted by jb at 11:16 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


So if "prude" is not the word for that, what is?

Your friends were teasing you, but that's an issue that has nothing to do with prudishness. And not wanting to whip someone else's slave isn't even remotely what this article is talking about.
posted by hermitosis at 11:19 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I see you've avoided answering her question. Why don't you want to answer her question?
posted by LogicalDash at 11:23 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Because I'm helping to maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.
posted by hermitosis at 11:24 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


So if "prude" is not the word for that, what is?

Not-sadist?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:25 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I don't want to do something, like watch or even know about Human Centipede (which I regret knowing even one little thing about, thank you), I just say, "Not for me, thanks!"

Seems to work.

Just like, I don't want to know anything at all about Kim Kardashian, so I don't consume anything she puts out for consumption. I'm not sure I think this is so hard.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:26 AM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


1. The author's experience is obviously rather particular; different social groups experience this rather differently.

2. Women are encouraged to be enforcers of "good" behavior - to say "oh you're terrible!" when somone makes a pun or an off-color remark. It's difficult for me personally to simply not react - I'm fairly modest about sexual and body stuff and prefer neither to endorse nor to censure, but I sometimes find myself doing the girlie hand-wavey "don't joke about fisting at the breakfast table" thing even though I do not care.

3. I tend to read a lot of the Real Housewives/Sexually-and-bodily-frank-stuff in mainstream culture as an expression of anxiety about sexuality. Growing up as I did during Susie Bright's lesbian phase, when it was hip in punk and queer circles to be all laid back about sex toys and amateur porn photos were common in feminist zines and so on, I now would almost always rather talk about other things unless there's the possibility of actual sex happening. (It was an awesome time, by the way - much, much more laid back about sexual practices because less evangelical about them, since the mainstream wasn't really involved. If you took part in something, it was because you really wanted to, not because there was a clearly articulated Jude Apatow-movie level norm about what women should do.)

4. I think it's not productive to say "you can do THING but I don't want to see it" - that's what my dad says about gay guys holding hands, for heaven's sake. A finer-grained reading of what is reasonable freedom-from-squick versus what is unreasonable constraint on people's actions would be helpful.

5. If I were at a party and everyone were all "oh, Frowner is so humorously prudish because she won't discipline someone else's slave!!" I would assume that everyone there was extremely anxious and uncomfortable about the whole bdsm thing precisely because they had to make a big deal about my non-participation .
posted by Frowner at 11:27 AM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


They just explode instead. It's hell getting the gut stains out of the carpet.

No no, Lady's Delicate Wind (as they are called) smells faintly of lavender and is attended by the sound of gently tinkling bells.
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Your friends were teasing you, but that's an issue that has nothing to do with prudishness. And not wanting to whip someone else's slave isn't even remotely what this article is talking about.

But neither is "prudes want us to wrap the world in bubble wrap for them", as handbanana suggested.

I was asking that, since handbanana clearly thinks "prude = wants to censor everything for their own delicate sensibilities," what is his word for "doesn't care what everyone else does, but just gets annoyed when people tease them for just not wanting to see certain things themselves"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:27 AM on July 7, 2011


"doesn't care what everyone else does, but just gets annoyed when people tease them for just not wanting to see certain things themselves"

Wait, isn't annoying someone, like, the whole point of teasing?
posted by Greg Nog at 11:30 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Lady's Delicate Wind" sounds like a tsunami-grade special move in a Chinese martial arts novel.
posted by griphus at 11:31 AM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't mean to interfere with the enjoyment of contorting yourself to try and find a way to relate to the subject on a personal level, but getting annoyed is actually a pretty common response to getting teased, I swear.
posted by hermitosis at 11:32 AM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is the dumbest fucking essay I have ever seen on The Awl, usually a bastion of sense. They must have forgotten their motto ("Don't be stupid").

I'll admit that I'm on the outer edge of the bell curve here, in that I'm pretty tough to gross out. I don't relish blood or shit or vomit, but I've dealt with them all in my day, and it's far easier to suck it up, ask yourself what the real risk is, and power through the discomfort. I usually find that after I've done that, especially a couple of times, the discomfort disappears or at least lessens to a manageable level. While there can be too much information, it's rare and it's usually not that big a deal if you think about it.

And yes, I do tend to disdain prudes. I find squealing counterproductive, and tend to think of prudes as people disconnected from the basic stuff of live — sex, eating and shitting, and death. In this essay, Maria demands to never be discomfited, never be shaken out of her bubble, instead of truly embracing the broad human experience. It's fine for people to do whatever they want, she says, but she doesn't want to hear about it.

How would that work for people, like one member here, who can't hear the word "homosexual" without imagining graphic gay sex (which disgusts him viscerally)? Isn't the, ahem, prudent course of action to encourage as much discussion, even if it may be uncomfortable, as possible in order to make sure that the marketplace of ideas is well-stocked?

I understand some caveats have to go with this — liberty isn't license, and going out of your way to shock unsuspecting people is obnoxious, just as using differences in power to shock people is generally harassment. But I value knowing that if someone I love is too sick to care for themselves, I can do it. And I value knowing that there's plenty of sex out there so freaky that I'm not interested in participating, but my friends and I have pretty good boundaries and are able to understand that it's not the act that is fraught, but rather the implicit change in relationship that comes with being a spectator to someone else's sex life.

Ultimately, what this comes down to is harm — there is no real harm that comes from TMI. Therefore, in a conflict between people's right to set their own boundaries, and people's right to live in public as they want, I'll come down for living in public every time.
posted by klangklangston at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look I am not into whipping some doms slave. Not my bag either.
I don't get squeaked out by it though. Different strokes for different folks. We all have things we would rather not see (we all could make a list, but let's not derail), but I wouldn't want it any different. Life is complicated, and messy, I never want someones idea of a "polite society". Fuck that.

My point is I have seen things in life that are so much worse than some stupid apatow film could portray. I didn't have a choice, wrong place, wrong time. But if something is making one uncomfortable, at least in my case, I ask myself why. Why is x bothering me?
posted by handbanana at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2011


I feel conflicted.

I think fart jokes are hilarious, but I mostly into policing people's sexuality as part of my reactionary religious agenda. Can I rally around the modesty flag as well or do I have to be explicitly against fart jokes?
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In this essay, Maria demands to never be discomfited, never be shaken out of her bubble, instead of truly embracing the broad human experience.

I don't see where she said that, no.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:35 AM on July 7, 2011


We all have things we would rather not see (we all could make a list, but let's not derail), but I wouldn't want it any different.

See, that's what I took to be the takeaway from her article. I didn't see that she was calling for implimenting her idea of "a polite society" across the board, I saw it more of a plea to not give the more-modest people a hard time simply because they were more modest than the norm. You know, "I just plain don't like Judd Aptow movies, and there's nothing wrong with me because I don't like them, so please don't imply that there is, thanks."

I don't mean to interfere with the enjoyment of contorting yourself to try and find a way to relate to the subject on a personal level...

....It's called "making an analogy." You've honestly never done that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:38 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having vanilla tastes isn't being a prude.
Living a modest lifestyle isn't being a prude.
Being shy isn't being a prude.
Concerning yourself with your own behaviour isn't being a prude.

A prude tells other people what what their tastes should be.
A prude shames sluts.
A prude worries about what the neighbours know.
A prude wants to control other people.

The article is not talking about being a prude. The article is talking about modesty, taste and preference. They are not the same at all.
posted by bonehead at 11:42 AM on July 7, 2011 [29 favorites]


Emperoresscallipygos,
You are right, she even mentions something to that effect. Yet it strikes me as a false disclaimer after she starts her rant. It spills over from 'i don't like this' into moral callings into her community and society at large when practiced.

More over, it sounds like she does indeed need new friends.
posted by handbanana at 11:43 AM on July 7, 2011


"Lady's Delicate Wind" sounds like a tsunami-grade special move in a Chinese martial arts novel.

To me it sounds like something one might request in a particularly discreet and exclusive brothel, one that caters to very refined sensibilities.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:43 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks, bonehead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:43 AM on July 7, 2011


If someone really had a yen to have me whip their slave, I would trade them for their karaoke performance of Adam Ant's "Beat My Guest." As long as we're demanding to make one another uncomfortable.
posted by adipocere at 11:46 AM on July 7, 2011


"Lady's Delicate Wind" sounds like a tsunami-grade special move in a Chinese martial arts novel.

I read it as "Lady Delicate's Wind," and I thought it was a long lost (and deservedly so) Oscar Wilde play.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:48 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'll admit that I'm on the outer edge of the bell curve here, in that I'm pretty tough to gross out. I don't relish blood or shit or vomit, but I've dealt with them all in my day, and it's far easier to suck it up, ask yourself what the real risk is, and power through the discomfort. I usually find that after I've done that, especially a couple of times, the discomfort disappears or at least lessens to a manageable level. While there can be too much information, it's rare and it's usually not that big a deal if you think about it.

And yes, I do tend to disdain prudes. I find squealing counterproductive, and tend to think of prudes as people disconnected from the basic stuff of live — sex, eating and shitting, and death. In this essay, Maria demands to never be discomfited, never be shaken out of her bubble, instead of truly embracing the broad human experience. It's fine for people to do whatever they want, she says, but she doesn't want to hear about it.


You're just drawing arbitrary lines to demarcate what's the authentic human experience. Of course you're doing it in a conspicuously self-favoring way. Of course you're pretending to humility as you praise yourself.

You're welcome to adopt whatever attitude you like to pissing, shitting, fucking, etc (it's more authentic when you use the rougher language). But you can't make a virtue of not understanding other people's experiences.

The writer of this (admittedly silly) article doesn't want to be harassed by her friends for not relishing The Human Centipede, a strip club, or a Judd Apatow movie. I have no idea why we're reading about this on the Internet. But is there no other sun in the sky that if we don't worship body humor we walk in darkness? Do I have to be connected to Judd Apatow to be getting something out of my life? Are the truths of The Human Centipede really the essential truths of human existence?
posted by grobstein at 11:48 AM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


See, that's what I took to be the takeaway from her article. I didn't see that she was calling for implimenting her idea of "a polite society" across the board, I saw it more of a plea to not give the more-modest people a hard time simply because they were more modest than the norm. You know, "I just plain don't like Judd Aptow movies, and there's nothing wrong with me because I don't like them, so please don't imply that there is, thanks."

But what's so special about being "more-modest?" There are certain categories of things that many of us have agreed to not give each other a hard time about, at least in certain situations -- things like race, gender, sexual preference, disabilities, etc. I don't see why being "more-modest" should be included as one of these categories any more than "not liking beer" should be. And she doesn't really offer a reason why it should.
posted by callmejay at 11:49 AM on July 7, 2011


Isn't the author actually in the majority? Aren't most people into policing social norms? Don't most people get hung up on explicit portrayals of sex and bodily functions? Isn't this like Christians complaining that they are oppressed?
posted by subdee at 11:51 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't see why being "more-modest" should be included as one of these categories any more than "not liking beer" should be. And she doesn't really offer a reason why it should.

...."saying that someone's got a problem just because they don't like something isn't a nice thing to do" isn't a good reason?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:51 AM on July 7, 2011


...."saying that someone's got a problem just because they don't like something isn't a nice thing to do" isn't a good reason? posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:51 AM on 7/7

No one has to be nice. The world isn't nice. She needs new friends.
posted by handbanana at 11:55 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read it as "Lady Delicate's Wind," and I thought it was a long lost (and deservedly so) Oscar Wilde play.

Much like Tennessee Williams' "lost" plays having openly gay characters, Lady Delicate is very specifically a drag role.
posted by griphus at 11:57 AM on July 7, 2011


It's actually a regency riff, complete with the characters of Master Debator and Connie Lingus.
posted by The Whelk at 11:58 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The wimpy and yikes-prone, far from wishing to restrict or even to express an opinion regarding anyone else's private practices, are in reality possessed of a fervent, if doomed, desire to know as little about them as possible.

And, likewise, I am possessed of a fervent, if doomed, desire to know as little about prudes as possible.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:02 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


No one has to be nice. The world isn't nice.

Well, no one HAS to be nice, but...

She needs new friends.

People who are....nicer?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:02 PM on July 7, 2011


I really think that it's all in the reaction. I never go to strip clubs, I haven't seen and have no desire to see Human Centipede, and I have missed more Apatow movies than I've seen (although I've mostly enjoyed the ones that I've watched). No one has ever given me any shit about not wanting to participate in these activities, because unless I make it a big deal, no one has any idea of why I'm not going and most people just don't care that much.

EmpressCallipygos, I suspect that your friends were teasing you about not wanting to whip someone in public because (below a certain threshold) the discomfort of friends is hilarious to many people. I don't laugh when a friend breaks his leg, but I do laugh when he gets distracted and walks into a pole. I am more than willing to tease a friend if he says something that gets him in notable but not relationship-threatening trouble with his significant other. Your friends saw an opportunity to make you mildly uncomfortable, and they took it; the slave situation was simply the excuse.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:05 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I tend to describe myself as a bit of a prude, and I recognized some of my own feelings in the article. I'm as lefty-feminist-sex-positive-queer, as the next mefite, but when my girlfriends are comparing the bras they are wearing I definitely look away. If someone is drunk and pressing their breasts or their dick against the window to shock us, I am shocked. I get changed in the private room at the pool, and while I can sit and have a conversation with my friends as they are changing, I am studiously observing my feet. Some of my friends will shower together, I won't join them.

I don't like massages, pedicures, facials, etc because it involves someone else touching me. I can barely tolerate haircuts.

Now, I can talk about anything, and being married to a sex researcher I often do - and I enjoy it! I love talking about weird sexual practices and I am an open book when it comes to my own life (we've often given Lesbian 101 talks to clueless heterosexuals), but I don't want to see it. Even looking at bras with friends makes me incredibly uncomfortable. That's why I call myself a prude.
posted by arcticwoman at 12:05 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I read that as "anxiety groupons."
posted by Eideteker at 12:09 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think it's "nice" so much as simply respecting that other people have preferenes different from one's own. Prude fundamentally don't respect that difference. Other people should, must! think the way they do. It's improper, immoral no to.

Projection and control goes both ways, of course. People should be allowed to be modest, even naive if they want to be. That's really the point of the article.
posted by bonehead at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2011


Yes, but to be fair if a friend/loved one said x,y, or z bother me I don't wish to know/see/hear about it. I would respect that as they are someone I care about, but I am not handling grown ass adults with kiddy gloves. Get over yourselves/hang ups and confront them.

Yes, friends who are nicer.

/derail, I dont follow internet videos. I think they are largely stupid, timesucks with attention whores seeking attention. My friends were talking about the "Friday" video and when they asked if I had seen it I of course said" no, I don't watch stupid videos, they are a waste of my time". My friends insisted I watch it as they debated the merits of being in tune with pop culture, of which I don't give a shit about. 1 minute 20 seconds in, I was at square one wishing I hadn't seen that stupid shit.
posted by handbanana at 12:13 PM on July 7, 2011


I don't like massages, pedicures, facials

That doesn't seem so prudish to me; I don't like facials either. They just strike me as kind of a hassle and a big mess.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:15 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]



"Lady's Delicate Wind" sounds like a tsunami-grade special move in a Chinese martial arts novel.


Countered with Chun Li's "Spinning Turd Flick".
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:15 PM on July 7, 2011


Okay, the only reason I brought up the whole "slave-at-the-party" thing was in the service of a point. Let's strip away the story and I'll rephrase my point.

There are people who don't like [things]. They may have no problem whatsoever with the fact that [things] exist, it's just that [things] are not their thing. Which is fine, they just don't engage in [things]. However, sometimes if these people say "I don't like [things]," other people will accuse them of trying to take [things] away from everyone else. Or they get accused of being neurotic/repressed/cloistered/etc. simply because they don't like [things]. But these people never said "you should boycott [things]" or "I'm going to try to shut down the local [venue] because they are showing [things]." All they said was, "Thanks, but no thanks, you all go have fun doing [things], but I'll stay home because I don't like [things]".

The takeaway I got from the article was, basically, "it's okay to not like [things]." The author suggested that a name for a person who didn't like things is "prude". However, handbanana implied that "prude" is more suitable for the people who believed "no one should like [things]," and bonehead further suggested that people who said "I don't like [things]" would be more accurately described as being "modest" rather than "prudish". And I concur.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: smells faintly of lavender and is attended by the sound of gently tinkling bells
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"doesn't care what everyone else does, but just gets annoyed when people tease them for just not wanting to see certain things themselves"?

I think part of it is that very few people believe that people who don't want to see others do x really don't care whether others do x. The objectors are, after all, expressing a pretty firm preference that it not be done in their sight.

On reflection, this doesn't always hold. I don't want to see things like autopsies but am glad that others perform them. We call people like me squeamish, not prudish. The difference, I suppose, is if you think something is gross or indecorous. If someone thinks autopsies are gross, the desire not to see them can pretty readily be separated from the desire for no one to do them since it is just the objector's immediate experience of them that drives the objection.

If someone thinks (as was the case in the past) that autopsies are indecorous, you can't make the division as easily, since the reason the person doesn't want to see it is rooted in a claim that there is something wrong with autopsies. Even if the objector allows that they might be done out of sight, that comes across as a concession; in the objector's perfect world, there would be no autopsies at all. (If you're still not convinced, try the example again with abortion or contraception).

...."saying that someone's got a problem just because they don't like something isn't a nice thing to do" isn't a good reason?
No, it isn't, because then we would have to concede that the homophobes who claim to be okay with LGBT folk so long as they don't "shove it in their faces" do not have a problem. Not coincidentally, this is the sort of modesty that is invoked in removing references to the existence of LGBT people from school curricula. Publicly proclaiming that the people whose sense of modesty is offended are the ones with the problem is an important part of changing views that are used to defend oppression, in the context of LGBT rights and elsewhere.

You can say that there's no accounting for taste, and that people shouldn't tease you for not liking gross stuff, but you shouldn't want a universal pass on having a problem with something. Sometimes, as in the case with Frowner's gay people holding hands example, having a problem is itself wrong.
posted by Marty Marx at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I read that as "anxiety groupons."

If enough people get together we can have a mass panic at half price.
posted by The Whelk at 12:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also, I will absolutely include an "anxiety gorgon" monster in the Roguelike I am currently working on.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"So if "prude" is not the word for that, what is?"

"Normal"?

Which is why your friends tease you.
posted by klangklangston at 12:20 PM on July 7, 2011


I read that as "anxiety groupons."

$5 for $10 worth of laying face-down and motionless on the bed with the lights off and the shades down.
posted by griphus at 12:21 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read that as "anxiety groupons."

If it were for benzos, I'd be so there.
posted by sweetkid at 12:24 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a gorgeous comic scene in a 1961 novel by the late Dutch-American writer Peter De Vries - when the hero has just blissfully bonked his girlfriend, Greta, in an illicit love-nest, the spare bedroom of a suburban show house belonging to her upright European immigrant parents. The lovers are frozen in horror after Greta's mother, making a surprise visit to the house with some would-be buyers - suddenly flings open the bedroom door, switches on the light - and takes in the disgusting sight:

"[Mrs. Wigbaldly] was a short broad woman, with an extremely wide middle narrowing steeply to her shoulders, in shape not unlike a brandy snifter. She bent down and through the bed sheet shrieked into my ear the single word:

"Prude!"

This good woman, at best only half Americanized, had a number of such imprecise terms of which that example comes most readily to mind. She knew it only to be an epithet relating to conduct in matters of sex, and took it to mean a wanton indulgence therein, unable to imagine a system of values in which an opposite attitude could possibly be deemed a fault...
"

(The Blood of the Lamb). De Vries was a fantastic writer - James Thurber was a great fan..
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:25 PM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Lady's Delicate Wind" pretty much reads itself in the voice of Stephen Fry.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:25 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"You're just drawing arbitrary lines to demarcate what's the authentic human experience. Of course you're doing it in a conspicuously self-favoring way. Of course you're pretending to humility as you praise yourself. "

It's hardly arbitrary to say that it's normal to fuck, fart and die. I suppose you can get through life without the first, but the second two are pretty mandatory.

"You're welcome to adopt whatever attitude you like to pissing, shitting, fucking, etc (it's more authentic when you use the rougher language). But you can't make a virtue of not understanding other people's experiences. "

I'm sorry, m'lord, I didn't realize this was a latinate discussion. Prithee excuse me for mine Saxonisms.

But it's the prudes who don't understand other people's experiences.

"The writer of this (admittedly silly) article doesn't want to be harassed by her friends for not relishing The Human Centipede, a strip club, or a Judd Apatow movie. I have no idea why we're reading about this on the Internet. But is there no other sun in the sky that if we don't worship body humor we walk in darkness? Do I have to be connected to Judd Apatow to be getting something out of my life? Are the truths of The Human Centipede really the essential truths of human existence?"

I haven't gone to a strip club in years, am fifty-fifty on Apatow, and don't plan on seeing the Human Centipede. But I can make those aesthetic judgments without constructing some farcical notion of prudery that defines everything I find boring, unpleasant or tacky as "immodest."

And yes, I tease my friends if they say things like, "I don't like beer," or if they pretend not liking cilantro makes them a special super taster. Because that's silly.
posted by klangklangston at 12:26 PM on July 7, 2011


I'm a bit reluctant to click through to Bustillos' article. I've heard that she has a tendency to display a flash of ankle on the street on occasion, and fear that her writing may display such louche tendencies as well.

And, yet... what if she is sincere in her intentions? Perhaps it may not be uncouth for me to express my admiration to her for declaring herself an ally for such as myself in the title of her missive, but how to do so, since I have shunned the E Mail, it being a shameless purveyor of unsolicited solicitations for enhancements of parts of myself which I shall not name but, if I am not mistaken, are at least of adequate dimensions, probably? I shall send her a note through the regular post, but... might she find such expression of appreciation from a gentleman to whom she has not been properly introduced an affront? And, yet, one hesitates to send a note unsigned.

Oh, I know! I'll send a playing card--the Jack of Hearts, of course--and draw a little pumpkin on it! Such an intelligent and perceptive lady will surely enjoy the challenge of working out the puzzle... oh, wait, playing cards are the toys of drunkards and cads. Oh dear, oh dear...
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:29 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


...you shouldn't want a universal pass on having a problem with something. Sometimes, as in the case with Frowner's gay people holding hands example, having a problem is itself wrong.

But should you persuade or proscribe? Is it better to convince some one or simply tell them what to think?
posted by bonehead at 12:33 PM on July 7, 2011


And yes, I tease my friends if they say things like, "I don't like beer," or if they pretend not liking cilantro makes them a special super taster. Because that's silly.

Why? I'm honestly curious.

it's the prudes who don't understand other people's experiences.

But does everyone's experiences and tastes have to overlap so completely? I like the idea of a world in which there are people who enjoy things that I don't, and vice versa.
posted by jhandey at 12:34 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think a lot of these things are in-group boundary markers, defining who's part of the tribe and who isn't. I've known people who don't like the taste of beer because, well, they just don't. But they drink it anyway because of social pressure, not so much to prove that one isn't a prude, but to prove that one is part of a group, the "right kind" of person, even if one doesn't actually enjoy the activity or object. It's a little bit like the "Yes, we're all individuals!" bit in Monty Python's Life of Brian. I really noticed this behavior while living in Seattle - there were so many in-group/out-group markers that I sometimes imagined the affluent younger Caucasian parts of town like Capitol Hill as being a lot like a gigantic 9th grade, down to the similarly-dressed tribes of "individuals".
posted by jhandey at 12:45 PM on July 7, 2011


In this essay, Maria demands to never be discomfited, never be shaken out of her bubble, instead of truly embracing the broad human experience.

Except you don't actually embrace the discomfort, you "power through" until you don't feel it any more. Overloading your senses until you feel nothing should be considered every bit as escapist as not wanting to see certain things. It's nothing to be proud of.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:48 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Why? I'm honestly curious."

Why do I tease my friends?

Because fairly often, people who declare that they don't like beer are doing two things — they're indulging in an ignorant aesthetic opinion (it's rare that they've tried enough beers to know that they don't like beer) and they're trying to put forth their non-beer tastes as normative, similar to the "prude" of the FPP. It's not normative, and teasing them reminds them of it.

As for the super taster thing, I've got more than one friend who likes to inflate their senses to superhuman proportions in order to dismiss things that they just don't like, and it strikes me as pompous and goofy, so I make fun of them for it.

But these are my friends, so I can't really speak beyond that.

"But does everyone's experiences and tastes have to overlap so completely? I like the idea of a world in which there are people who enjoy things that I don't, and vice versa."

It's fine for them not to enjoy them, but trying to support those aesthetic opinions with an appeal to morality (as in the prudery article) is dumb.

Maybe I'm more attuned to this, having worked as a critic, but there are a lot of really dumb and poorly articulated aesthetic opinions out there, and I think it behooves everyone to move past them as quickly as possible.
posted by klangklangston at 12:55 PM on July 7, 2011


But should you persuade or proscribe? Is it better to convince some one or simply tell them what to think?

Honestly, I don't know. It's better all around if someone is convinced that, say, same-sex marriage is just as fine as opposite-sex marriage, but I don't think people waiting for same-sex marriage to be legalized are obliged to wait until their most ardent opponents are convinced. Nor is every member of the LGBT community obliged to be the patient and helpful educator of the hetersoexual world. Worse, many of the objectors just aren't very reflective about their own views or interested becoming so. In their cases, persuasion was not an option in the first place. At that point, it's difficult to argue for including them in the conversation at all. I guess if someone were beating me up, I'd love to convince them to stop, but I'd be okay with a cop pulling them off of me, too.
posted by Marty Marx at 12:56 PM on July 7, 2011


Except you don't actually embrace the discomfort, you "power through" until you don't feel it any more. Overloading your senses until you feel nothing should be considered every bit as escapist as not wanting to see certain things. It's nothing to be proud of. posted by AlsoMike at 12:48 PM on 7/7

You don't "feel nothing", you feel more dynamically. Don't create a false dichotomy.
posted by handbanana at 12:56 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This talk of people "wanting to never be discomfited" and being in a "bubble" ignores the possibility that far from living in a bubble, some people live through or witness enough discomfort in their real lives to not need any more in their spare time entertainment. Don't assume without evidence that you're the one with the thicker skin.
posted by Anything at 12:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


There's this weird disconnect that has never made sense to me with respect to how women are supposed to grossed out by bodily functions. Who do you think wiped your ass before you were able to do so yourself? Not to mention PERIOD FARTS.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Except you don't actually embrace the discomfort, you "power through" until you don't feel it any more. Overloading your senses until you feel nothing should be considered every bit as escapist as not wanting to see certain things. It's nothing to be proud of."

That's kinda a weird misreading. I tend to see prudery as an irrational fear commingled with an aesthetic preference, and getting over the irrational fear allows people to be a lot more honest about what they like and why they like it.

If you can't deal with Piss Christ because of the piss, you're missing a pretty amazing artwork.
posted by klangklangston at 12:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


A bit like arcticwoman, I'd say some of my personal living preferences are more reserved than average for the culture.

In the arts/entertainment, I'm pretty open to the frank, graphic, ribald, disturbing and embrace it in some cases. I was thinking the other day that I wonder if, as we get more "frank and open," we're losing our appreciation of the subtle.

I think the average American moviegoer is way, way prudish:

*They could sit through all the Saw movies without blinking an eye but would be very, very uncomfortable withThe Sweet Hereafter.

*They can watch pr0n or see any amount of sexualized, often violent, and usually completely fantasyland nudity that bears little resemblance to frank reality but, in the case of my students, for instance, freak out at the brief, matter-of-fact, non-sexualized, non-airbrushed nudity -- including a bunch of old women, egad! -- in Roman Polanski's Macbeth.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:05 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


But only in films, right? It's not, like, happening out here in the real world, right? Right?

I'm sure it must, but as anyone who has been decently raised will tell you, such things must never be acknowledge in public.

That's why we have movies. books, and theatre. So we can laugh at things that are most kindly ignored in real life.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:06 PM on July 7, 2011


It's not normative, and teasing them reminds them of it.

I think that's what I'm getting at. Why is it necessary to remind them of it at all? Is it reall that important? And how do you feel when someone decides that you are violating their norms? Norms conflict often, so whose norms win? Is it a matter of who has the most power/influence/social status?
posted by jhandey at 1:07 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


whose norms win?

The ones that don't frighten the horses.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:10 PM on July 7, 2011


This thread needs a naughty monkey running amok.
posted by loquacious at 1:15 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because fairly often, people who declare that they don't like beer are doing two things — they're indulging in an ignorant aesthetic opinion (it's rare that they've tried enough beers to know that they don't like beer) and they're trying to put forth their non-beer tastes as normative, similar to the "prude" of the FPP. It's not normative, and teasing them reminds them of it.

Exactly how much beer does someone have to taste before you believe that they just plain don't like beer?

And when you say someone is "trying to put forth their non-beer tastes as normative", are you talking about someone who makes a snooty face and says "eewww, how can you drink beer? Blecchy", or someone who just says "I'm not a beer person, do you have cider?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:16 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I think that's what I'm getting at. Why is it necessary to remind them of it at all? Is it reall that important? And how do you feel when someone decides that you are violating their norms? Norms conflict often, so whose norms win? Is it a matter of who has the most power/influence/social status?"

I'm sorry, do you not understand teasing your friends at all? Is that where the disjunction is? Because you're asking a lot of questions that are either rhetorical or require a "It depends. Context matters," answer.

"And when you say someone is "trying to put forth their non-beer tastes as normative", are you talking about someone who makes a snooty face and says "eewww, how can you drink beer? Blecchy", or someone who just says "I'm not a beer person, do you have cider?""

More the former than the latter, though I might ask if the latter has tried lambics.
posted by klangklangston at 1:25 PM on July 7, 2011


I think there is a real disconnect in this sort of teasing because the teaser seems to not realize that a lack of wanting to engage in something needn't be equated with being uptight about that thing. It's ok to just respect the person's boundaries and not try to push up against it.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:28 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe that's the disconnect -- you're talking about the former ("ewww, how can you drink beer?"), but I think the article was trying to talk about the latter ("I'd rather have cider, personally"). Although, it's very possible this wasn't 100% clear.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:29 PM on July 7, 2011


Which is also to say the teaser is not entitled to logically vet said person's boundaries to determine whether or not the teaser finds them legit.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:30 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, do you not understand teasing your friends at all?

Yeah, I do. But it is what it is, and I don't think about it much. I'm not trying to turn my teasing (or, hopefully, their teasing of me) into a defense of the social order, and I generally don't look at it as an attempt to convert them to whatever I might happen to enjoy. They don't enjoy the Avett Brothers? They don't like "Parks and Recreation"? It's unfortunate, but that's their business. In my experience, friends appreciate not being nagged and judged over things like this.
posted by jhandey at 1:36 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


She has confused prudish behavior with having taste and modesty. I think you can only be judged a prude in the privacy of your own bedroom.
posted by Kokopuff at 1:42 PM on July 7, 2011


> This thread needs a naughty monkey running amok.
> posted by loquacious at 4:15 PM on July 7 [+] [!]

This thread needs a goatse or tubgirl link, to see the banhammer comes down and marvel at the prudishness. But I will not be the provider.
posted by jfuller at 1:44 PM on July 7, 2011


Maybe that's the disconnect -- you're talking about the former ("ewww, how can you drink beer?"), but I think the article was trying to talk about the latter ("I'd rather have cider, personally").

I think part of the disconnect is that someone might claim to be the latter, or even sincerely believe themselves to be the latter, but through tone and intonation appear to an outside observer to be the former. It wouldn't need to be anything sinister or bad, just enough of their personal revulsion against [thing] leaking through into their tone.

I could certainly imagine someone saying "I'd rather have cider, personally" in a manner that indicated a disdain for beer and beer-drinkers, even if they didn't intend it to.

Similarly, I can imagine someone saying "Thanks, but no thanks, you all go have fun doing [things], but I'll stay home because I don't like [things]" when what they mean is "No, that disgusts me and I think less of you for wanting to do it." Either as intentional passive-aggression -- you all go and have your fun -- or as unintentional leakage.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:45 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


...or as unintentional leakage.

Dude, I'm eating.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:55 PM on July 7, 2011


klangklangston: That's kinda a weird misreading. I tend to see prudery as an irrational fear commingled with an aesthetic preference, and getting over the irrational fear allows people to be a lot more honest about what they like and why they like it.

Why privilege enjoyment as the ultimate of human experience? You haven't achieved a new kind of openness and honesty by eliminating disgust at a jar of urine and only appreciating the lovely shade of yellow. As much as prudes do try to avoid certain things as a result of a traumatic encounter with them, their reaction is far more truthful than desensitizing yourself to them and experiencing them as non-traumatic so that you can enjoy them. From my perspective, only those who are unable to deal with Piss Christ because of the piss are experiencing it in it's full traumatic intensity.

And isn't also true that your anti-prude position is just as normative - someone's failure to enjoy is pathologized as irrational.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


In practice, though, this kind of reluctance is liable to be treated as inferior, defective even, plus politically incorrect because if you say that you don't like to go to the strip club, this might easily be taken to mean that you're stuck up and narrow-minded and don't have respect for sex workers, plus probably you will be told that you're so inhibited personally that sleeping with you must really be some kind of ordeal. On balance it's often easier to just go along to the heinous performance art or endure all the farting and whatnot in the Apatow movie than it is to deal with the smackdown if you don't.

It is? That seems rather passive. I don't hang out with people who go to strip clubs. Problem solved. Also, I have no desire to see The Human Centipede. It's an interesting though morbid concept, but I think it might make me physically sick to see it on the screen, and I'm not an especially squeamish person (nor a prude as far as I'm aware). None of my friends have suggested it so far.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:01 PM on July 7, 2011


"I think there is a real disconnect in this sort of teasing because the teaser seems to not realize that a lack of wanting to engage in something needn't be equated with being uptight about that thing."

It depends.

When I tease my girlfriend, saying that the reason she doesn't like Chinese food (especially since she just doesn't like the crummy American Chinese take-out goop) is because she doesn't like Chinese people, it's pretty well understood that I'm pretending she's uptight and we both know it's not serious.

On the other hand, when I tease my girlfriend's father about his visceral and baffling dislike of seemingly any ethnic food, especially street food, it's because he's a bit of a stiff rube.

But there's a pretty big overlap between prudery and provincialism, at least in my eyes.
posted by klangklangston at 2:01 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I tease my girlfriend, saying that the reason she doesn't like Chinese food (especially since she just doesn't like the crummy American Chinese take-out goop) is because she doesn't like Chinese people, it's pretty well understood that I'm pretending she's uptight and we both know it's not serious.

Yeah, but you've got how much experience with each other to trust that you're not serious about this?

Just like some people don't like beer, and some people don't like chinese food, some people...have things that they don't like to be teased about. You know that this isn't one of them. But I bet there's something that if you DID tease your girlfriend about, she'd be bugged by it, and I bet that you know what that is, and so you don't. Right?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:05 PM on July 7, 2011


I agree that "prude" is being used to cover a bunch of related but different things: squeamish, reserved, somebody who doesn't like what's cool in my tribe, somebody who's easily shocked by sex and/or nudity, and judgmental busybodies who think nobody else should do any of that "shocking" stuff either (some overlap is possible, of course). Objections to the last group splatter over the others, which I think is making some of us feel attacked or at least judged.

(I'm reserved and I don't want to hear about your private life or tell you about mine, but I support your right to do things in private that I would never do. Consenting adults, knock yourselves out! Where you draw the line between what's OK in public and what's for private enjoyment only is mostly a function of your community. Even MetaFilter has hard-line prohibitions against a few things, like goatse).

I think there's also a connotation that prude = old person. You know, "OMG don't tell Grandma!" MetaFilter collectively doesn't like Baby Boomers, so anything that evokes that demographic is distasteful here.
posted by Quietgal at 2:07 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"This thread needs a naughty monkey running amok."

Been chastised already today, sorry.
posted by Eideteker at 2:09 PM on July 7, 2011


"Yeah, I do. But it is what it is, and I don't think about it much. I'm not trying to turn my teasing (or, hopefully, their teasing of me) into a defense of the social order, and I generally don't look at it as an attempt to convert them to whatever I might happen to enjoy. They don't enjoy the Avett Brothers? They don't like "Parks and Recreation"? It's unfortunate, but that's their business. In my experience, friends appreciate not being nagged and judged over things like this."

Dude, are you asking me why I tease my friends about stuff and then accusing me of over-thinking it? I think maybe I'm misreading you.

And I don't think I'm nagging people — judging maybe, but that's kind of a stretch too.

There's a whole lot of stuff that I like that my friends don't, but I'm not ragging on them for not digging noise music or black metal or anything crazy abrasive — I know that's not for everyone. But if someone thinks that Parks and Rec has too many fart jokes or is too sexually immodest? Yeah, that's a goofy opinion and I'd probably assume that they didn't know what they were talking about.
posted by klangklangston at 2:13 PM on July 7, 2011


"Why privilege enjoyment as the ultimate of human experience? You haven't achieved a new kind of openness and honesty by eliminating disgust at a jar of urine and only appreciating the lovely shade of yellow. As much as prudes do try to avoid certain things as a result of a traumatic encounter with them, their reaction is far more truthful than desensitizing yourself to them and experiencing them as non-traumatic so that you can enjoy them. From my perspective, only those who are unable to deal with Piss Christ because of the piss are experiencing it in it's full traumatic intensity."

SO MUCH BAD ARGUMENT!

I haven't privileged enjoyment as the ultimate of human experience, though there are plenty of reasons to do so (see: Utilitarianism). Achieving openness and honesty is irrelevant to the example as stated. "As much as prudes do try to avoid certain things as a result of traumatic encounter…" is a huge question-begging, along with again reasserting "truthful" as a reasonable metric. Finally, arguing that those unable to deal with Piss Christ are having the most authentic experience ignores both the purpose of the work and reasserts authenticity as an aesthetic marker.

"And isn't also true that your anti-prude position is just as normative - someone's failure to enjoy is pathologized as irrational."

"Pathologized"? I don't think you know what that word means. Second off, as I stated above, fear without harm is irrational. Sorry, that's pretty much definitional.
posted by klangklangston at 2:21 PM on July 7, 2011


"Yeah, but you've got how much experience with each other to trust that you're not serious about this?

Just like some people don't like beer, and some people don't like chinese food, some people...have things that they don't like to be teased about. You know that this isn't one of them. But I bet there's something that if you DID tease your girlfriend about, she'd be bugged by it, and I bet that you know what that is, and so you don't. Right?
"

Yeah, but this all started out with talking about friends teasing friends.

It's OK to be uptight about things, even irrational things. But it's OK to be teased about being uptight, especially about irrational things.
posted by klangklangston at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2011


When I make it clear to my friends that I don't like being teased, I expect them to stop. If they don't, they're not good friend material.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:37 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I couldn't care less if you fart around me, fwiw. But do stay dressed unless you are the Original Spouse. (tm)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:44 PM on July 7, 2011


The Awl, usually a bastion of sense

But also more than occasionally a bastion of Maria Bustillos being dumb and clickbaity (previously 1 2 3).
posted by RogerB at 2:54 PM on July 7, 2011


I favorited this post because I have been labeled as a prude for my entire life. Now, it really isn't an issue. I'm too old to care about what people think.
But back then, it was an influence on my life and I did worry. It hurt me that people I cared for imagined me as something I wasn't. It hurt me to see some of these people hurt themselves on not-prudish people. It's not that my actual life was or is prudish. It's that I am private. I don't want to share the details with my personal life with anyone, and I don't want to know anyone else's details. I can imagine it. It's fine.

Marty Marx' comment above reminded me of a particular incident. But first Marty's comment:

No, it isn't, because then we would have to concede that the homophobes who claim to be okay with LGBT folk so long as they don't "shove it in their faces" do not have a problem. Not coincidentally, this is the sort of modesty that is invoked in removing references to the existence of LGBT people from school curricula. Publicly proclaiming that the people whose sense of modesty is offended are the ones with the problem is an important part of changing views that are used to defend oppression, in the context of LGBT rights and elsewhere.

Once upon a time, I was invited to a dinner party. Already at arrival, I was offended, because it was so obvious this was the freak party. Apart from me, the other guests were a homosexual couple and a gentleman who is severely handicapped. All were wonderful people, but there was a conspicuous absence of "people the hosts deemed as normal".
During the dinner, suddenly the host asked of the gay couple exactly the words from Marty's comment: I'm OK with LGBT folk so long as they don't "shove it in their faces"
Wow. This is a couple who pride themselves of their liberal, unprudish views. The gay couple took the time (since we were all freaks anyway) to explain everything. I thought they were amazingly cool. But I have not forgiven the hosts. Not least because they weren't listening. They were enjoying their private freak-show. I guess I'm trying to say, these two things are so incredibly different you are not even in the same room.

What Maria Bustillos is writing is what Foucault spent a lifetime studying from a more philosophical point of view. Privacy is the privilege of the citizen. It is what we deny prisoners as well as kings. Foucault is long dead so we have no idea what he would have thought of an age where exposure is not just a possibility (where one can test the limits of society) but an obligation (where one is deemed inappropriate if one is unwilling to be exposed). I don't think we should see this forced exposure as something limited to extremely liberal circles. I think it is even worse among social conservatives, who may not want to know about "The Human Centipede", but who do want to know just about every about everyones personal lives.

I don't believe it is "liberal" to demand exposure. I believe it is civil to protect privacy. Every citizen should have all rights of a citizen regardless of his or her sexual or religious or political orientation. I believe it is our right to expose our dreams and desires if this brings us happiness, and to keep them private if that is important to us. Obviously, criminal acts are not included in this privacy. I do think it is a problem if someone lies to protect their privacy, but I also think this is a moral dilemma. I'm not a public person, and I don't have that problem. But I could easily imagine one or two of my ex's going to the tabloids if I was. That would hurt my children dearly. Is whatever mistake you did worth that? No one cares at all the day after the tabloid went to the fish-mongers. Except those affected.
posted by mumimor at 3:03 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Apart from the possibly odd use of the word 'prude' (it's one of those things my non-native english can't quite tell), what exactly is dumb about this piece?
posted by Anything at 3:05 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a prude.
In Ernest Becker's 'Denial of Death he talks about how people 'take comfort in the species act.' With all other sources of meaning gone people pretend that physical pleasure will somehow give meaning to their life. Even on an intelligent site like this that view prevails, with lots of in-depth discussions about plumbing and vigorous defenses of public nudity.
It's a bodily function. The body, the site of death and decay.
As for pushy friends, I've resisted Human Centipede but some horror buddies convinced me to see House of Flesh Mannequins, which was basically softcore Eurotrash S&M horror. Ugh.
Usually I can resist gore (unless it's part of the plot) or a videogame. I don't need that in my head.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:06 PM on July 7, 2011


Does it really matter what these affectionate people do-so long as they don't do it in the streets and frighten the horses?
posted by BlueHorse at 3:08 PM on July 7, 2011


The wimpy and yikes-prone, far from wishing to restrict or even to express an opinion regarding anyone else's private practices, are in reality possessed of a fervent, if doomed, desire to know as little about them as possible.

THIS. I don't like being dragged to a strip club, but I don't want them shut down. I wi defend to the death your right to see Salo. Just don't take me along.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:09 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And could we not talk about farting and pooping here? this isn't 4chan.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:16 PM on July 7, 2011


I don't hang out with people who go to strip clubs. Problem solved.

No one's dragged me to a strip club, but I recognize many of the other kinds of complaints about 'immodesty' (or whatever to call it) that can get pretty tiresome. The problem is that with the prevalence of this attitude it's actually gotten unclear how much different company is available to begin with.

I suppose you could take Bustillos's article as a means of attempting to gauge support.
posted by Anything at 3:21 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recognize many of the other kinds of complaints about 'immodesty' (or whatever to call it) that can get pretty tiresome.

And now I notice this sentence is completely ambiguous. Take 'tiresome' here as referring to ''immodesty''.
posted by Anything at 3:26 PM on July 7, 2011


One of the most difficult acts of graciousness (and I like to think that many people here aspire to graciousness) is to decline something that others are indulging in, and for it to be limpidly obvious that the declining is only about one's own tastes, and implies nothing about the one offering. It is a skill that is beyond me, but I imagine that John Waters is incredibly deft at it.

"No, I would not like to lick your peacock's feathers. Yes, of course it gives you great pleasure. It only makes sense that it would, and of course most people would enjoy it. However, just right now, I'm not in the mood to do so. No, don't be silly, no imposition at all."
posted by benito.strauss at 4:05 PM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's kind of weird that this got posted here, when the real news from the Awl today is that Tim Pawlenty follows Astro Zombie on Twitter.
posted by Rangeboy at 4:30 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


benito.strauss, I would like to use all 100 of my daily quota of favorites on your comment.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:34 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's OK to be uptight about things, even irrational things. But it's OK to be teased about being uptight, especially about irrational things.

I think the tease-ee should get to decide what it's okay to tease them about, yes?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:39 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think the tease-ee should get to decide what it's okay to tease them about, yes?

Teasing can be complex. In some situations it can be good to challenge your friends, to engage their wit. But when it turns into humiliation it can be really annoying. But there is a delicate balance with the frisson when it happens. Uh, this is starting to sound like AskMeFi now.

I agree: Yes, the tease-ee should get to decide what it's okay about.
posted by ovvl at 5:19 PM on July 7, 2011


One of the most difficult acts of graciousness (and I like to think that many people here aspire to graciousness) is to decline something that others are indulging in, and for it to be limpidly obvious that the declining is only about one's own tastes, and implies nothing about the one offering.

I wish there were a class for this because my tastes are so oddball that I have to do it a lot, and this is the response I often get:

"No, really, you have to try this feather-licking. You'll love it. No? Are you sure? I think you just haven't licked the right feathers. Come on, just lick the neck here where it's smooth -- just a little. You won't even stick out your tongue? So, what?, you're saying there's something wrong with my peacock? Everybody I know considers this a wonderful peacock with superlative feathers. People line up around the block to lick this peacock. I guess maybe if I special-ordered you an analog peacock with subtitled feathers, then you might deign to lick them. Or are you just above licking peacocks entirely? Well, lah-di-dah-di-dah. [sigh] That's fine, but if being a feather-licker was good enough for my old man, it's damn well good enough for me. Here in America, we are a nation of peacock-licking values, or have they cut that out of all the textbooks over at Pinko State U?"

So I'm pretty sure I'm doing it wrong.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:42 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


The problem is that with the prevalence of this attitude it's actually gotten unclear how much different company is available to begin with.


Yeah that's the thing. I like loud music and nerd shit and that can often cross the line into 'man you gotta see this piece of extreme horror' or 'come to this Star Wars burlesque show' or even just 'come to a strip club'.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:54 PM on July 7, 2011


I guess I'm trying to say, these two things are so incredibly different you are not even in the same room.

I disagree, I think. I read EmpressCallipygos to suggst that because "saying that someone's got a problem just because they don't like something isn't a nice thing to do," we should no more criticize modest/prudish people's modesty/prudishness than we should criticize others for their race, gender, disability status, or sexual orientation.

So the issue wasn't whether people like the hosts in the example are prudes (or modest, or whatever this no-true-Scotsman defense of prudery would have them be) but whether criticism for simply disliking something should be treated the same as criticism for being of a particular race, gender, disability status, sexual orientation, or identity.

My point was just that simply disliking some things--displays of same-sex affection, for example--is worthy of criticism even if the modesty or prudishness isn't accompanied by any other objectionable views. We absolutely should criticize people "just for not liking something," since just not liking something may itself be wrong, in a way that being a member of a certain race, gender, disability status, sexual orientation or identity never is.
posted by Marty Marx at 6:18 PM on July 7, 2011



My point was just that simply disliking some things--displays of same-sex affection, for example--is worthy of criticism even if the modesty or prudishness isn't accompanied by any other objectionable views. We absolutely should criticize people "just for not liking something," since just not liking something may itself be wrong, in a way that being a member of a certain race, gender, disability status, sexual orientation or identity never is.


Why? I dislike public displays of affection, public nudity, flip flops, etc. Why is that wrong?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:20 PM on July 7, 2011


Well if you're equal-opportunity in disliking PDA then it is what it is. But if you only dislike same-sex (or mixed-sex) PDA then you are being discriminatory.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:36 PM on July 7, 2011


Why is that wrong?

I didn't say it was.
posted by Marty Marx at 6:51 PM on July 7, 2011


The art of teasing lies in using wit and humour such that the teasee gets as much out of it as the teaser.

Ragging on people for their tastes is some weak sauce.
posted by sarahw at 7:01 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Why? I dislike public displays of affection, public nudity, flip flops, etc. Why is that wrong?"

Why are you right? Distaste without reason is just cranky old man bullshit.

And frankly, too many people try to pretend that not liking things is as interesting a character trait as liking things. It's an adolescent assumption.
posted by klangklangston at 10:42 PM on July 7, 2011



And frankly, too many people try to pretend that not liking things is as interesting a character trait as liking things. It's an adolescent assumption.


You just described Metafilter. But why is there something wrong with my tastes? I'm afraid that in trying to break down the old fashioned barriers in regards to sex and decency we've gone too far in the other direction and privileged utter openness.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:45 PM on July 7, 2011


"But why is there something wrong with my tastes? I'm afraid that in trying to break down the old fashioned barriers in regards to sex and decency we've gone too far in the other direction and privileged utter openness."

And that's pretty much bullshit. Sorry.

Have we privileged utter openness? No. At the very least, most places still have public nudity laws.

That level of hyperbole undercuts your argument. There may be another argument justifying your opinion, but you haven't made it.

Further, this is an argument that has been trotted out for literal millennia. Socrates complains about the sexual freedom, crazy music and ugly clothes of kids too, and predicts the immanent downfall of society. It's always been wrong, has been repeatedly used to justify some pretty bogus crap, and is empty conservatism.

While I reminded folks above that liberty isn't license, I don't ever feel bad about privileging liberty. I'm a liberal. It's OK. We'll get through flip-flops and teens kissing on park benches.
posted by klangklangston at 10:57 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its always with us. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with being uncomfortable with it. I'm open minded in that I accept the right of all of that to exist - from furries to strip clubs. I just don't want to be made to feel weird because I think sex shouldn't be talked about in polite company.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:02 PM on July 7, 2011


Marty Marx, I think my post was a bit jumbled. Seen from my point of view, those hosts were plain old bigots. But they were playing at "liberal and openminded" and using that position to step a good bit over the boundaries of everyone present, and I think we all felt cornered. I used the example of the gay couple because your comment reminded me of it, but they continued round the table, confronting each and everyone of us with the traits they found freakish.

I can easily see the point of activism when it comes to LGBT rights, (which was what the gay couple explained back then) and there are other aspects of private life where we have to make things explicit for political or practical reasons. (For instance: all kids need to go through the embarrassment of comprehensive sex-ed, sorry about that). But I personally prefer being private, and some of the things I most regret in life have been done when I tried to let this privacy go. Not because anyone has ridiculed me or blamed me, but because I felt uncomfortable.
posted by mumimor at 1:40 AM on July 8, 2011


Why are you right? Distaste without reason is just cranky old man bullshit.

So. You want him to account for his distaste. Which is just as impossible as accounting for taste, and for the same reasons.

And if he can't, he's engaging in "cranky old man bullshit".
posted by LogicalDash at 3:38 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Socrates complains about the sexual freedom, crazy music and ugly clothes of kids too, and predicts the immanent downfall of society.

Good thing nobody here is doing that, eh?
posted by LogicalDash at 3:39 AM on July 8, 2011


klangklangston, the issue is that it really looks like you're trying to ascribe some sort of transcendent moral purpose to your teasing of people. Which I have a problem with because teasing to inform the teasee what's "normative" sounds an awful lot like old-fashioned bullying. And I still wonder how you'd react if you ran afoul of someone else's norms.

Maybe I'm reading too much into all this, but I still can't shake an icky feeling about evangelizing people through teasing. It's an empathy thing, I guess - I keep wondering how the teasee feels, and how you'd feel if the shoe was on the other foot. Not very much logic on this one, sorry to say.
posted by jhandey at 3:39 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I gotta go with jhandey on this one --

Which I have a problem with because teasing to inform the teasee what's "normative" sounds an awful lot like old-fashioned bullying.

I mean, hell, lots of people regard heterosexuality as "normative," so does that make it okay for them to tease a gay person?

And who decides what is and is not "normative" in the first place? Especially when we're talking about things that are a matter of personal taste?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:08 AM on July 8, 2011


I just don't want to be made to feel weird because I think sex shouldn't be talked about in polite company.

I think this gets to the core of the issue, that was also alluded to with strip clubs.

The thing is, you choose your company. For me, I'll choose company that is generally open about sex, and that doesn't go to strip clubs. Maybe I've been extraordinarily lucky in my life, but I've never found it hard to surround myself with that kind of company.

It makes more sense to choose the company you want to spend your free time with than to spend your free time trying to change the company you're around.

If you need all your company to only enjoy exactly the same kinds of films as you do, you will probably have less options for company. If you can tolerate your company enjoying films that you don't and even inviting you to join them for things that they enjoy, and are comfortable turning invitations down in a non-judgmental way, then I think you have an excellent chance of finding plenty of company that will accept your taste in movies in a non-judgmental way. At least, based on my experience.

With regards to teasing, I definitely believe that teasing should be affectionate and not hurtful. If it doesn't leave the friend feeling good, and affirmed and accepted for herself and her choices, then it's not friendly teasing, it's just passive aggressive bullying at worse and socially inept at best.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:08 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


My best friend from high school is definitely the biggest "prude" I know, but it wasn't really a life choice (although now that she's an adult it may count as one), it was more near-abusive brow-beating by her parents into doing nothing but homework and consuming practically no culture more controversial or more contemporary than Gustav Mahler.

I try not to object to her automatic "ew" responses to things other, more "normal" grown-ups talk about, but she does say "ew" an awful lot, and yet exhibits a clear, if rapidly-stifled, fascination in the more perverse aspects of culture. "Human Centipede?? Tell me about -- wait, no, don't don't don't!!!"

So is she fighting for personal liberties, or suffering from a neurosis caused by the early quelching of such freedoms?
posted by Mooseli at 7:30 AM on July 8, 2011


I try not to object to her automatic "ew" responses to things other, more "normal" grown-ups talk about, but she does say "ew" an awful lot, and yet exhibits a clear, if rapidly-stifled, fascination in the more perverse aspects of culture. "Human Centipede?? Tell me about -- wait, no, don't don't don't!!!" So is she fighting for personal liberties, or suffering from a neurosis caused by the early quelching of such freedoms?

whichever one it is, I'm not sure I see how anyone teasing her ("Oh, there's that neurosis cropping up again, ha-ha") is going to help her overcome it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 AM on July 8, 2011


"So. You want him to account for his distaste. Which is just as impossible as accounting for taste, and for the same reasons."

No, it's not. "I like this because…" "I don't like this because…" Just because something has its roots in subjectivity doesn't mean it's a black hole.

"klangklangston, the issue is that it really looks like you're trying to ascribe some sort of transcendent moral purpose to your teasing of people. Which I have a problem with because teasing to inform the teasee what's "normative" sounds an awful lot like old-fashioned bullying. And I still wonder how you'd react if you ran afoul of someone else's norms."

How do I react? Well, like I said, it depends. Usually, I try to realize that it's my cranky dislikes that are weird and react with good humor. I wouldn't like my friends nearly as much if they didn't give me crap when I deserve it.

But no, your readings, both with the "transcendent moral purpose" and the bullying are pretty off-base. Teasing is part of humor, and humor is extremely context dependent. Trying to link it to a paper about bullying is pretty insulting and ignores the context that I've given a couple of times. As far as the transcendent moral purpose, there's a moral purpose insofar as there's a moral purpose to any humor (which, again, depends on context) and transcendence is nonsense.

Maybe I'm reading too much into all this, but I still can't shake an icky feeling about evangelizing people through teasing. It's an empathy thing, I guess - I keep wondering how the teasee feels, and how you'd feel if the shoe was on the other foot. Not very much logic on this one, sorry to say."

Yeah, if I seem to be bullying, you seem to be arguing for a milquetoast world and it seems strange that you'd find yourself a member of a site that's pretty routinely snarky. And like I said, how I feel depends on a lot of things, and it feels like you're simplifying things just to get some tut-tutting and synthetic empathy in.

"I mean, hell, lots of people regard heterosexuality as "normative," so does that make it okay for them to tease a gay person?"

Depends on the context. Do you think it's never OK for a straight person to tease a gay person? I think that's a pretty ridiculous overstatement. I tease one of my pals all the time, on a variety of topics from chickenhawking to his crush on a local nightclub magnate.

And who decides what is and is not "normative" in the first place? Especially when we're talking about things that are a matter of personal taste?

We have elections every year in my social group to decide what norms we all hold. This year, I'm campaigning for bahn mi, Roy Acuff and sweater vests. I mean, most social groups do this through conversation, but I think it really helps to have a formal process.
posted by klangklangston at 8:44 AM on July 8, 2011


I just don't want to be made to feel weird because I think sex shouldn't be talked about in polite company.

By "in polite company", I assume you mean "around me".
posted by benito.strauss at 9:49 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you think it's never OK for a straight person to tease a gay person? I think that's a pretty ridiculous overstatement.

And that's why it's not what I said.

What you seem to be saying is "if I think my friend is being a little hung-up about something, I'm gonna tease them about it to snap them out if it, and if that upsets them, too bad, because they're just being weird and should know better."

What I'm saying is, "no matter what a person's preferences are, and no matter how weird or quirky or backward you may find their habits, the person you're teasing should be the one who gets to decide whether you're allowed tease them about something, not you."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:19 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, it's not. "I like this because…" "I don't like this because…" Just because something has its roots in subjectivity doesn't mean it's a black hole.

OK.

You want people who dislike things to give reasons. You want to understand the internal logic of their distaste. Otherwise you consider their dislike to be "cranky old man bullshit".

Do you demand the same when people like things? I suppose you could; certainly, some critics believe that, because they can deconstruct their opinions, those opinions are worth more than the same opinions from one who can't justify it.

If you don't, why not? Why demand higher standards of specificity from people who dislike things?

If you do--if you only care about others' opinions, positive or negative, if they can be eloquent about them--what's the benefit? It gives you an easy blanket reason to dismiss others' opinions most of the time, but if you consider that a benefit, I'm a little worried for your friends.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:56 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You want people who dislike things to give reasons. You want to understand the internal logic of their distaste. Otherwise you consider their dislike to be "cranky old man bullshit"."

More to the point, generally when someone doesn't like something without a good reason, it's unexamined prejudice. And that's silly, if not stupid. When it's silly, there's no harm in making fun of it, because everyone has silly opinions that they hold without real reason — e.g. the huge number of non-copy editors who suddenly care about Oxford commas after the press release about the Oxford PR department nixing them.

"Do you demand the same when people like things? I suppose you could; certainly, some critics believe that, because they can deconstruct their opinions, those opinions are worth more than the same opinions from one who can't justify it."

Demand is pretty belligerent phrasing. But yes, justified opinions are more worthwhile of consideration. I'm pretty amazed that this is a point of contention.

"If you do--if you only care about others' opinions, positive or negative, if they can be eloquent about them--what's the benefit? It gives you an easy blanket reason to dismiss others' opinions most of the time, but if you consider that a benefit, I'm a little worried for your friends."

That's a pretty idiotic framing and misstatement. I don't only care about others opinions if they can articulate them — which is different than the "eloquence" you impute — but I certainly give them more weight, something I think is pretty goddamn uncontroversial.

And if you have to ask what the benefit of articulated opinions is over unarticulated ones, I doubt you're asking in good faith.

But, to riposte, if your friends are unable to say why they like or dislike anything, I'm more worried for your social circle.
posted by klangklangston at 12:18 PM on July 8, 2011


More to the point, generally when someone doesn't like something without a good reason, it's unexamined prejudice. And that's silly, if not stupid.

And it's also their own god-damn business, and if they tell you to back off, then what you need to be doing is backing off.

Demand is pretty belligerent phrasing. But yes, justified opinions are more worthwhile of consideration. I'm pretty amazed that this is a point of contention.

Let's test this. I have two questions:

1. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

2. Can you justify why it is your favorite flavor?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2011


"And that's why it's not what I said.

What you seem to be saying is "if I think my friend is being a little hung-up about something, I'm gonna tease them about it to snap them out if it, and if that upsets them, too bad, because they're just being weird and should know better."

What I'm saying is, "no matter what a person's preferences are, and no matter how weird or quirky or backward you may find their habits, the person you're teasing should be the one who gets to decide whether you're allowed tease them about something, not you."
"

No.

Let's take your hetero/homo example, and let's grant that hetero is normative for the purposes of this hypothetical social group.

Would I tease someone just for being gay? No. Would I tease someone who found heterosexual behavior disgusting or gross? Yes. With more tact and warmth than I'd tease someone who thought that homosexual behavior was disgusting or gross (where I wouldn't feel bad about being a bit mean, because that's a mindset that encourages actual harm).

So, no, it's not just the person being teased who gets to decide — that would exclude mocking bad actors for the purported benefit of sparing good actors.

Like I've said multiple times, context is determinative, and coming up with a blanket rule is doomed to failure when applied to how normal people interact.
posted by klangklangston at 12:26 PM on July 8, 2011


Would I tease someone just for being gay? No. Would I tease someone who found heterosexual behavior disgusting or gross? Yes. With more tact and warmth than I'd tease someone who thought that homosexual behavior was disgusting or gross (where I wouldn't feel bad about being a bit mean, because that's a mindset that encourages actual harm).

Why on earth do you think it's acceptable to tease someone if they personally think a particular sexual habit is "gross"? That sounds like you also think it's acceptable to tease a woman who says she doesn't like anal sex or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:31 PM on July 8, 2011


"Why on earth do you think it's acceptable to tease someone if they personally think a particular sexual habit is "gross"? That sounds like you also think it's acceptable to tease a woman who says she doesn't like anal sex or something."

Doesn't like it is different than "gross." "Gross" is a pretty empty descriptor.

And no, it doesn't sound like I'd tease a woman who didn't like anal sex, or a woman who said she wasn't interested in it or interested in trying it. But a woman who just said it was gross? Sure, why not? It's something that millions of people do and enjoy, and all sex is gross if you think about it too much. So is kissing. Pretty much anything is disgusting if you zoom far enough in on it — even Swift got that, and satirized it with the Brobdignagians.

You make it seem like you wouldn't tease someone who thought kissing was gross, and wouldn't suspect that if they made a big deal out of it, something was wrong with them, not the kissers.
posted by klangklangston at 12:53 PM on July 8, 2011


You make it seem like you wouldn't tease someone who thought kissing was gross...

Well, yeah. I wouldn't.

....and wouldn't suspect that if they made a big deal out of it, something was wrong with them, not the kissers.

Again, yeah. I wouldn't.

Firstly, because -- we all have things that just skeeve us out, you know? And the reasons why may not be inexplicable. I'm completely incapable of watching anything people do involving touching eyes (putting in contact lenses, getting stuff out of their eyes, etc.), but I couldn't for the life of me tell you why. It just freaks me out. If you were to make a big show of trying to take out your contact lenses in my presence all the time, I'd be pretty damn pissed off -- and if you asked me to explain what the big deal was about not wanting to watch people doing that, I'd also be pretty pissed off because I don't know. It just does. Well -- there are very likely some people who feel that way about kissing. No reason why, it's just a thing, and that's that.

And secondly, even if there was some psychological reason you can point to for why someone may think kissing is gross, how would teasing them help them overcome that? How is making fun of them going to help them overcome the sense of shame and 'not-right" they're already feeling in the first place?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:19 PM on July 8, 2011


"Firstly, because -- we all have things that just skeeve us out, you know? And the reasons why may not be inexplicable. I'm completely incapable of watching anything people do involving touching eyes (putting in contact lenses, getting stuff out of their eyes, etc.), but I couldn't for the life of me tell you why. It just freaks me out. If you were to make a big show of trying to take out your contact lenses in my presence all the time, I'd be pretty damn pissed off -- and if you asked me to explain what the big deal was about not wanting to watch people doing that, I'd also be pretty pissed off because I don't know. It just does. Well -- there are very likely some people who feel that way about kissing. No reason why, it's just a thing, and that's that."

I don't like needles and I don't like putting things in eyes, other people's or my own.

But that's on me. It's pretty normal to wear contacts (though I don't need them or glasses) and if I have to see someone doing it, I put up with it. If someone was going out of their way to put in contacts — which seems to be a pretty far-fetched concern — I might feel that was antagonistic, but again, my weirdness is on me, not on them. And if someone asked me to explain, I wouldn't be pissed off — that'd be ridiculous and I'd deserve to get made fun of for it. I'd just say that it skeeves me out to think about it. But getting mad? Yeah, that's self-important nonsense.

Further, if someone's skeeved out by kissing, or by dudes holding hands, or by any number of other harmless public behaviors — that's on them. If they get fussy about it, yes, I'm going to make fun of them for that.

What you don't seem to realize is that if you take your position to its logical conclusion, there's no time in which you can make fun of anyone ever. Which either means that you're a hypocrite or that it's not a very good philosophical position.

If someone can't deal with strangers kissing, I will not feel bad about asking them if they're in third grade, because the rest of us got over that shit already. How will this help them get over it? Well, setting aside the weird assumption that all teasing has to be edifying, it'll help them by showing them that no one else cares because it's not that big of a deal. If they can't deal with it, get therapy, but I'm not a therapist and they aren't my clients. Who cares how they move past it? Likely, they'll overcome it the same way most people overcome most things — by shutting up and acclimating.

Even beyond that, both you and this essay are ignoring how disgust (and when we talk about prudery and "gross," we're talking about disgust) works. There are a handful of things that are physically disgusting and pretty universally true in humans — the scent of rotting meat for one. For pretty much everything outside those few universal physical disgust triggers, it's culturally determined. I know a Turk who thinks peanut butter is disgusting. It's not, and I'm not going to avoid eating my sandwich because he's got a weird hang up about it. I think drinking milk is pretty gross, but it's culturally normal. It's, again, on me to deal with it. But by declaring it publicly, I'm seeking for people to agree with me and to change the cultural consensus. But there's nothing truly physically revolting about drinking milk. It's a phantasm. While there may be real reasons to discourage drinking milk, my disgust is not one of them.

And as for kissing, to bring this back again, it's not just abnormal to be disgusted by it, it's unhealthy. I don't feel bad about making fun of viewpoints that are unhealthy or would be unhealthy if adopted broadly.
posted by klangklangston at 1:45 PM on July 8, 2011




Further, if someone's skeeved out by kissing, or by dudes holding hands, or by any number of other harmless public behaviors — that's on them. If they get fussy about it, yes, I'm going to make fun of them for that.

Maybe what's not clear is what you mean by "getting fussy about it." Can you explain?

What you don't seem to realize is that if you take your position to its logical conclusion, there's no time in which you can make fun of anyone ever. Which either means that you're a hypocrite or that it's not a very good philosophical position.

No, that's not the most logical conclusion of what I'm saying. The part you miss about what I keep saying is "don't tease them if they ask you to stop."

What I mean is:

SITUATION a: You take your contact lenses out in front of me, and I give a full body shudder and I squeal. You see me, and you burst out laughing and tease me about that. I laugh with you, and poke a little fun at myself too.

This is a situation in which teasing is okay.

SITUATION B: You take your contact lenses out in front of me, and I give a full body shudder and I squeal. You see me, and you burst out laughing and tease me about that. I get upset and say that it just bothers me to see people poking things into eyes.

That is a situation in which teasing is NOT okay.

You are making it sound as if your friends got upset with your teasing, but you thought they were being uptight, you'd ignore them asking you to stop. THAT is the not-okay part.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:50 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


If someone was going out of their way to put in contacts — which seems to be a pretty far-fetched concern — I might feel that was antagonistic,

Going out of your way to do something that irritates someone is a defining characteristic of teasing.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:49 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


And frankly, too many people try to pretend that not liking things is as interesting a character trait as liking things. It's an adolescent assumption.

It's an adolescent assumption that either of those things is interesting.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:23 AM on July 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


« Older You have to click on the text box?   |   Six Strikes Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post