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The Open Source Boob Project
April 23, 2008 5:25 AM   Subscribe

The Open Source Boob Project. At Penguicon, we had buttons to give away. There were two small buttons, one for each camp: A green button that said, "YES, you may" and a red button that said "NO, you may not." And anyone who had those buttons on, whether you knew them or not, was someone you could approach and ask: "Excuse me, but may I touch your breasts?" Once taken online, the grand flurry of reactions have been decidedly mixed.

The main link is awkward to read; it starts with a bunch of caveats and explanations. The original post comes after all the updates and edits. And there are a lot (and I mean a lot of comments, many of them very thoughtful and interesting, some from people who were there, many from those who weren't.
posted by Hildegarde (247 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am astonished that someone over the age of 11 would conceive of this. Seems like the debate has already been beaten into the ground though.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 5:33 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait, what's "Open Source" about this? Were the breasts freely modifiable and redistibutable? Will we soon be seeing the Creative Commons Boob Project? What the hell, people? What the hell?!
posted by Spatch at 5:36 AM on April 23, 2008 [17 favorites]


Unsurprising given the context of the "project": i.e., an omphalos of hypernerdery. Also unsurprising that the guy who came up with this sports an awful little beard. We should really be putting these people in camps.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 5:39 AM on April 23, 2008 [18 favorites]


As an experiment: Neat. As a "real" event: Ick.

But everyone is free to choose to attend and beyond that what pin to wear AND they apparently have a last refusal even beyond that. I guess I don't see what there is to have 1300 comments about.
posted by DU at 5:39 AM on April 23, 2008


You do know we have a sexist flag now, right?
posted by mattbucher at 5:40 AM on April 23, 2008


By the end of the evening, women were coming up to us. "My breasts," they asked shyly, having heard about the project. "Are they... are they good enough to be touched?"

Oh, jesus.
posted by liquorice at 5:42 AM on April 23, 2008 [21 favorites]


Apparently I didn't read far enough.
posted by DU at 5:48 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait until you see the results of the Open Source Cockpunching Project.
posted by longbaugh at 5:56 AM on April 23, 2008 [95 favorites]


I'm actually working on a similar scheme, "the Open Source Child-Hugging project". Parents are encouraged to wear one of our freely distributed T-shirts - one kind reads: "Yes, Please Hug My Child!" and I'm working on getting the other kind printed just as soon as I get back out of solitary and that goddamn son-of-a-bitch Governor lets me back in the prison workshop. And then you'll all pay for how you've treated me, you hear me? YOU'LL ALL PAY.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:56 AM on April 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm working on a similar project, tentatively entitled "The Open Source Clotheslining Skateboarders as they pass me on the Sidewalk" project.
posted by selfnoise at 5:57 AM on April 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


You know what's worse? Livejournal
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 6:05 AM on April 23, 2008 [17 favorites]


The possibilities are endless.

The Open Source Spontaneous Trepanation Project
The Creative Commons Random Walrus Evisceration Jaunt
Glue 2.0 : Sticking Shit To Your Friends And Their Shit For Shits And Giggles Under The LGPL

and so on
posted by 5MeoCMP at 6:08 AM on April 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


This makes me tired. Things like this always make me tired. At the rate that tiring puerile shit keeps showing up, it's a miracle I'm not Rip Van Fucking Winkle by now.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:11 AM on April 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Gross skeezebag at an anime convention finds an excuse to grope women, gets called a skeezebag, attempts to rationalize away skeezebaggery. LJ-Drama ensues.

Current Mood: Bored
Current Music: Journey - Don't Stop Believin'
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:15 AM on April 23, 2008 [14 favorites]


"My pokeys, let me show you them."
posted by briank at 6:17 AM on April 23, 2008


Wait, what's "Open Source" about this? Were the breasts freely modifiable and redistibutable?

Hmm, it's almost as if someone who would conceive of this brilliant master plan thought of breasts (and thereby the women attached) ass some sort of object to be posessed. Surely that couldn't be the case.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:17 AM on April 23, 2008 [10 favorites]


...thought of breasts ass...

as, damnit, AS. That is one whopper of a Freudian slip there eh?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:18 AM on April 23, 2008


Your nuts, may I kick them?
posted by anthill at 6:19 AM on April 23, 2008


Women will often let you touch them in all sorts of interesting ways if you're not a repulsive dink who has to invent some complicated scheme of douchebaggery just to get his paws on some sacred, sacred boobies for a few seconds. True story.
posted by shadow vector at 6:21 AM on April 23, 2008 [50 favorites]


You know, all of these people are very nice people. They are the kind of people who feel lonely and alienated because they're 'weird' and they end up forming clubs where everyone is nice and accepting to each other and all enjoy super-nerdy pursuits.

But at the same time it's hard not to find these people annoying. I mean, they're awkward for a reason. And now, thanks to the internet, rather then conforming they are finding other awkward people to hang around with and be awkward with. I'm sure they are happier, and I don't have anything against 'em. But man.

I was reading some feminist blogs a while ago and they were all going on about "Nice Guys", by which they mean guys who become good friends with women and then get all moody that they won't sleep with them, because they consider themselves nice guys. This guy comes across like the archetypal "Nice Guy" in that sense. What he wants is to grope women, which most men would like to do, but he wraps it up in feminist terminology and blathers on about making women feel safe, etc.

Also, he says this could be a "fun and sexual thing" if done with the right mindset. Well no, it wouldn't be fun and sexual it would just be kind of pathetic. Touching a girls boobs isn't that exciting, I mean compared to what you could be doing. It's the kind of thing that would be thought up by someone so deprived of sexual contact that touching breasts is like a rare treat.
posted by delmoi at 6:28 AM on April 23, 2008 [51 favorites]


why are we even talking about this.... ?

delmoi summed it up nicely, can this just go away now?
posted by HuronBob at 6:38 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


In my day we used the touch command, and we were glad to have it!

nicolas léonard sadi carnot,
I think you should register the domain name omphalosofhypernerdery.org as soon as possible.

posted by lukemeister at 6:39 AM on April 23, 2008


May I touch your soul with some Rod McKuen poetry? Ewww.
posted by kozad at 6:45 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now I know how to be the belle of the ball at ROFLcon, thanks!

The pullquote here is actually misleading "And anyone who had those buttons on, whether you knew them or not, was someone you could approach and ask: 'Excuse me, but may I touch your breasts?'" If you read the clarification, red ("no") button wearers were not just saying "no" they were basically saying "Don't even ask and I'd prefer not to talk about this whole business."
posted by jessamyn at 6:47 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was hoping that when MeFi lit up with a titillating (sorry) title (sorry) like "The Open Source Boob Project", it would link to a clever play on words designed to prick (sorry) interest in reading a post about a new initiative of the British Organization of Orwellian Bores... or something. But no, it is indeed a post about a frigging moron who designed a situation in which women are actually being asked to wear a button that either (a) authorizes or (b) prohibits people from touching their breasts (sorry).

Never mind a "sexist" tag. Isn't there one for "High Count on the Really Stupid Shit-o-Meter"? I thought MetaFilter was a classier place than this.
posted by Mike D at 6:48 AM on April 23, 2008


I still don't understand why the "No" buttons were necessary. If wearing a "Yes" button means that people have permission to ask you if they can touch your breasts (and to potentially be rejected, I guess), and if lack of a button is a default "No", what's the logical point of offering a "No" button as well? (Don't make me try a Venn diagram here, folks.)

Maybe the point of the "No" button was really to identify the women who had been asked to participate and who refused, so that only buttonless women could be approached in good cheer and fellowship and invited to choose a button. So buttonless women got to be meta-asked, I guess, which not only goes against the goal of the project, but is rather creepy as well. I can see and sympathize with how isolated some of these guys feel, but if women were actually coming up and asking if their breasts were good enough to be touched -- well, that readiness to seek reassurance so awkwardly is a whole other flavour of sad there, too. How many women put on "Yes" buttons out of a sense of fun and self-empowerment, and how many did so because they didn't want to look like prudes? And how many didn't participate because they thought they'd wear the "Yes" button yet never get asked anyway?

I need a cup of tea and a little special time with Cam now.
posted by maudlin at 6:49 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


ewww.
posted by miss tea at 6:49 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know this is a breach of etiquette and decorum, but I am compelled to ask: Why the fuck is this socially retarded 5th-grade horse-shit on MetaFilter?
posted by Mister_A at 6:57 AM on April 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


These nerds should be ashamed of themselves. Cons are for a good time, not trying to get a lucky grope in on some stranger's boob.

If you really must get laid at a con, shouldn't it be done in the more traditional way - booze and room parties?
posted by smackwich at 6:59 AM on April 23, 2008


To me, the main issue is not about the women and men who were involved in the project but the other convention goers. I don't know about you, but I go to Cons to fawn over C-grade celebrities and geek out on overpriced memorabilia. If I was attending this Con where women were willingly allowing their breasts to be fondled I don't believe this would enhance the Convention atmosphere. More likely, make me want to stay far, far away from those indulging in the groping. Mostly, I wouldn't feel like I was in a safe space at all, which is sad because I've always felt really comfortable in the welcoming and accepting nature of most Cons.
posted by liquorice at 7:01 AM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dear fucking christ, you know all that stuff people say about sexism in IT and the world and the internet and all that shit? It's never touched me. I have known, from other people's stories, that it exists, that somehow people can behave in a way that makes it clear that for some reason they actually might consider me as a woman first and as a programmer/asshole/contributor second, but it's never been something that I could really imagine.

Way to go, you stupid sexist fucking wanker. I get it now. People like you actually exist. They actually graduated high school and made it to the real world without getting the stupid beaten out of them. I hate the whole world a little bit more now. And if any shithead ever asks me, at a professional conference, if he can touch my breasts, I'll go ahead and kick him in the nuts without asking.
posted by jacalata at 7:03 AM on April 23, 2008 [34 favorites]


When I saw the title I was sure that it was a project to provide breast implants cheap to the masses.

This is just icky. But I sure knew some of these guys in college, and the truth is that there are women who like this, who find it equally liberating, who really enjoy having that kind of attention. Just like with those photos that I think were linked here the other week of those bizarre orange-tinted muscle guys from New Jersey, or swingers parties, or anything else I find marginally repellent -- there are plenty of people for whom it is a real treat.
posted by Forktine at 7:08 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Doesn't the guy who came up with this write Magic the Gathering articles?

So setting aside the idea that having a connection to an actual game company makes you a prime catch at some conventions (I'm not proud of what I done), you'd think that this guy has enough experience with posting essays to the intarwebs to know that there was only one way this sort of thing could go down: badly.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:08 AM on April 23, 2008


professional The rest stands, though.
posted by jacalata at 7:09 AM on April 23, 2008


Can you just imagine the heavy mouth breathing and wet little lip-smacky sounds this guy makes when he actually gets his hands on an actual woman? It must be like getting attacked by the Gelatinous Cube of fucking dork.
posted by The Straightener at 7:10 AM on April 23, 2008 [44 favorites]


if any shithead ever asks me, at a professional conference, if he can touch my breasts, I'll go ahead and....

You know, I think I would go ahead and let him, photograph the whole thing and then go all dog-poop girl on the whole adventure because I think there are still some people who would be surprised by the fact that there are more similarities between nerds-gone-wild and girls-gone-wild than there are differences.

Really I don't think it's so much that the whole idea of "Hey your breasts are beautiful can I touch them?" is so fucked in and of itself (people think it, people refrain from asking in polite or mixed company, consensual breast-touching is often an agreeable pastime) but that it's really a one-way street here. It's not like there's some sort of sex come-on where the guys are like "Hey, I would like to give you a really rocking orgasm the best way I know how!" they're just copping a selfish feel in a sort of "OMG tee hee" way and then going on to the next selfish feel.

While it feels good in certain contexts to have your rack appreciated, this just seems like taking advantage of the "it's a con and we're nerds and all rules of social interaction are up for grabs!" (sorry) situation and taking something that could be fun and sexy well into the realm of something pervy and transactional (and not in a good way).
posted by jessamyn at 7:13 AM on April 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


My sweetie has the satirical link on "have". Yay. She's so cool.

I will not comment on the original project beyond saying that I think it's a very stark expression of how having entitlement about a certain form of (male) privilege can turn geeky cluelessness and sliminess into a situation displaying a downright lack of ethics and awareness of how it can sometimes be coercive to seek consent.

This is why we have social etiquette, people. This is why we should remember that asking permission indicates there is a potential boundary there.
posted by kalessin at 7:14 AM on April 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


exhibitionism with rules? This is lame and inappropriate (as an idea, I mean). There has to be a better, still geeky way of nurturing each other's body image...

Some sort of limited vocabulary mesh networked compliment transfer device that has built-in share/receive ratio limits that favors the shy and neglected, time-decay anonymity, directional tagging, bound with an EULA that requires honesty and emotional responsibility. And a "need a long hug" panic button which sends a compatible hugger (based on temperament metrics, typical compliment traffic, age, height[!], etc.).

Then just have a stylish user signifier, like a feather pinned to clothing.

Le sigh...
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:21 AM on April 23, 2008


It must be like getting attacked by the Gelatinous Cube of fucking dork.

Kudos, sir. I like the cut of your jib.
posted by jquinby at 7:21 AM on April 23, 2008


Imagine a Beowulf cluster of Open Source Kicks to the Balls!
posted by lukemeister at 7:23 AM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


hmmm, you forgot the HURF DURF BOOBIES tag.

It's like a handkerchief code for losers.

The juvenality of this idea is astounding, and shows just how dangerous nerdlove can be. What delmoi said about the 'nice guy' phenomenon nails it, and his hand-waving no, no, seriously, you guys got me all wrong, I'm a total feminist follow-up post just compounds the image of 'pathetic nerd' that he established with the original.
posted by cosmonik at 7:26 AM on April 23, 2008


We all reached out in the hallway, hands and fingers extended, to get a handful. And lo, we touched her breasts - taking turns to put our hands on the creamy tops exposed through the sheer top she wore, cupping our palms to touch the clothed swell underneath, exploring thoroughly but briefly lest we cross the line from 'touching" to "unwanted heavy petting." They were awesome breasts, worthy of being touched.

I agree. Camps. We need camps.
posted by Rafaelloello at 7:29 AM on April 23, 2008


LOLCONGOERS.

I think the idea is stupid. I also think the abuse being heaped on this guy is offensive both in tone and in scope. Unless I'm missing some real criticism from someone who was actually there of course.
posted by Skorgu at 7:37 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh my God. I think if I see this one more time, I might actually scream.

I've seen it about fifteen times on my LJ friends list, it was all over several communities this morning, including one of the fandom_wank spin-offs and just... ugh.

No one is coming out looking good here. Not Ferrett, not the people commenting and making assumptions about his life (for the record, the dude is married. He gets plenty of play.), not the people screaming about how no one could REALLY have wanted to do this, or how anyone who wanted to do this is obviously a loser.

The entire thing, post, follow-up post, commenters, every single bit of it, including this post because I should know better? Is dumb.

The project is closed, he realized it was a bad idea, and really, going on and on and oonnnnnnn about how sexist it is, or how socially freeing it is, or how much of a loser Ferrett must be, or how man-hating the detractors must be? Really, does it actually accomplish anything, or is everyone just getting their rocks off in proclaiming feminism, anti-feminism, anti-anti-feminism, etc?
posted by FritoKAL at 7:40 AM on April 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


The camp metaphor is really sketchy. Historically the people most accessible in our cultural memory who were put in camps were the ones who did not deserve it and who were villainized by societal forces beyond their control. They were put there by powermad fearmongers. As much as I think this experiment was weird and noxious, I'm not in the camp-putter-inner camp and I find that metaphor more than a little off.
posted by jessamyn at 7:41 AM on April 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


This is why we have social etiquette, people.

Allow me to play devil's advocate: You're forgetting that some people lack an understanding of social etiquette. It's astonishing how often we take for granted that socialization is learned, not some god-given knowledge people are born with. There are many who, through whatever combination of social ostracism and biological inability (eg Asperger Syndrome), don't learn your norms of etiquette.

This event may squick you out, but prior to the mass freakout after posting, I don't see any evidence of an awareness on behalf of the planner that he'd done something wrong. The awkward caveats and explanations seem to have come from the negative reaction he received.

I can't imagine the initial idea was any more complex than "I and others want to touch some boobies, and there are some girls out there who want their boobies touched. What on earth could be wrong with bringing these two factions together?" It was certainly ill-advised, and certainly brought about by, as others have noted, a hefty dose of nerd-groupthink, but I have difficulty connecting that to being Demonstrative of Male Hegemony.

On preview: He's married? Shit. Ignore this post.
posted by Ndwright at 7:43 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


*pops his collar*
posted by cortex at 7:44 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


FritoKAL, I think folks object to the fact that the idea got so far off the ground before it was junked as a bad idea. I too think it is objectionable.

Ferrett's other character traits aside, it's true that he is like that - he'll post about stuff that's not well-thought-out. It's his poor fortune that the Internets have a long memory for foolishness and a short memory for redress. But then, he can hardly claim not to know about that, being an Internets shit-stirrer from the get-go.

Sorry the attention is so painful (possibly for you, potentially for Ferrett), but I think you doth protest too much. You pays your money, you takes your choice.
posted by kalessin at 7:44 AM on April 23, 2008


Ndwrite, the lack of awareness of privilege does not excuse the doer from being entitled. Self-education is always warranted, including the ability to recognize and respond appropriately to social cues. This is a basic social survival trait.

I don't expect it because I am blind to the fact that some folks haven't achieved that level of survival. I expect it because I have standards.
posted by kalessin at 7:46 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


The camp metaphor is really sketchy. Historically the people most accessible in our cultural memory who were put in camps were the ones who did not deserve it and who were villainized by societal forces beyond their control. They were put there by powermad fearmongers. As much as I think this experiment was weird and noxious, I'm not in the camp-putter-inner camp and I find that metaphor more than a little off.

Camps for the rest of us then?
posted by Rafaelloello at 7:47 AM on April 23, 2008


Ha, in my day a TRUE gaming geek would not be distracted by breasts. I went to a con once with a friend who in medieval garb who could shoot hard candies from her breast region. She would come up to fellow gamers and ask, "would you like a candy?" and if they said, "Yes" would shoot one right out from her bodice. It was a skill, almost a gift. Anyway, the true gamers would yell at her for distracting people from the Warhammer table and tell her to get the hell away because serious business was happening. If you are distracted by breasts at a con then you sir or madam, are no true geek. And oh yeah, get the hell off my lawn/chest munchkin!
posted by jadepearl at 7:48 AM on April 23, 2008 [13 favorites]


As long as they respect a woman's wishes when says No, what's the problem?
posted by grubi at 7:49 AM on April 23, 2008


But I sure knew some of these guys in college, and the truth is that there are women who like this, who find it equally liberating, who really enjoy having that kind of attention. Just like with those photos that I think were linked here the other week of those bizarre orange-tinted muscle guys from New Jersey, or swingers parties, or anything else I find marginally repellent -- there are plenty of people for whom it is a real treat.

The problem that I have with it, really, is the setting. This isn't something that a hobbyist's con should be about, methinks. (Sorry...it's gonna take me a couple days to get the "methinks," "forsooths," etc., out of my system.) Because, regardless of why you showed up at the con, it's now TittyTouchin'Con '08. That's a little, y'know, deceptive. Like getting into someone's car thinking you're going out to dinner and a movie but then dude says, "Hey, also, along the way, we're going to stop and pick up a bunch of my friends? And, I mean, this is cool, I think they might all want to feel you up. Is that okay? We're still getting dinner!"
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:50 AM on April 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


When I read about this at Scalzi's weblog Whatever (which is down for the moment, so linking cain't happen) I misunderstood and thought the whole project had been organized initially by a woman. I kept thinking that for the first few comments in this thread—not having clicked through to the link—and when I realized it was a man who put it together, my whole attitude just inverted or something. At first I thought it was bizarre fun; now I think it's inept and will return to favorite delmoi's view, above. Fie!
posted by cgc373 at 7:52 AM on April 23, 2008


I guess you could skip out the camp step and go straight to grinding them into a nutrient mush that could keep the world's piggeries in feed for a few months.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 7:53 AM on April 23, 2008



As long as they respect a woman's wishes when says No, what's the problem?


I think the argument is that by creating the situation, there are woman who will consent not because they actually do so out of free choice but social pressure.
posted by drezdn at 8:01 AM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


We all reached out like zombies trying to break through a door to get to those breasts.
posted by mecran01 at 8:01 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Scalzi's take.
posted by cgc373 at 8:02 AM on April 23, 2008


Kalessin - Oh, it's not painful for me so much as just really annoying. I don't agree with the Project, I wouldn't participate if asked, but -25- posts in 24 hours where 90% of the posters/commenters are the same people is just too much for anyone to handle.

EVERY single website I visit is talking about it. ALL OF THEM. And I find the whole thing so laughably pathetic that I just don't see why everyone else didn't look at it, laugh, shake their heads in that "Oh God, that's dumb" and WALK AWAY.

Ultimately all this publicity for it means that someone with even -less- tact then Ferrett, who is renowned for his lack of tact and clue is going to try to resurrect it with even LESS ability to make it un-skeevy.

You think it's bad now? NOW it's been seen not just by the 2700 people on Ferrett's LJ, but about ten times more then that due to all the posts about it. At least one of those places is one of the anti-feminism groups on LJ. Odds on them trying to resurrect this without a "no" button? Or without the "Even with a Yes button, you can say no?" rule intact? HIGH.
posted by FritoKAL at 8:08 AM on April 23, 2008


Really, does it actually accomplish anything, or is everyone just getting their rocks off in proclaiming feminism, anti-feminism, anti-anti-feminism, etc?

You're new around here right? This sort of rock off-getting is hugely popular in these parts.
posted by three blind mice at 8:09 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I discussed this with a female friend and we both agreed that we would not find this nearly as icky if it were a bunch of women groping each other's boobs. I mean, boobs are fun. My friends and I comment on and poke at each other's - but the idea that a bunch of men started this and are somehow judging and validating women's bodies - yuck!

I could see it working in a group of trusted friends (though I'd still question the gender relations dynamics in that group) but I really hope this doesn't catch on at other gatherings. I haven't been at a convention in a very long time, but something like this would make it an extremely unwelcoming environment, even if one could opt out.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 8:10 AM on April 23, 2008


What disgusting behavior by a bunch of pathetic unsocialized losers. Reading that livejournal account by "theferret", I want to pull paragraphs out and write a clinical intake of his sexual dysfunction. But that would take forever.

You know, all of these people are very nice people. They are the kind of people who feel lonely and alienated because they're 'weird' and they end up forming clubs where everyone is nice and accepting to each other and all enjoy super-nerdy pursuits.

What you say is true, but ultimately this isn't healthy. Here is the key to what I am going to call "nerd pathology" - the nerd Rosetta Stone:

For a moment, everything that was awkward about high school would fade away and you could just say what was on your mind.

Nerds have to take responsibility for their own lives. I was a nerd in high school, and high school for me sucked in every way imaginable. But once you are in college, there are no more cliques that exclude you, no more baggage, no more parents etc. You are on your own. If two months into college you are still alienated and ostracized, it is your fault, not society's. You are lacking in some social skills that others have, and that deficiency is holding you back.

For some reason, it became socially acceptable for nerds to retreat into computers and wallow in their alienation, instead of trying to improve themselves. The inability to talk to girls, strangers, and adults became a source of pride. Nerds have built a sub-culture for themselves that so insular that they have managed to convince each other that the rest of society is backwards, and that they are the smart and enlightened.

Truth be told, it is very easy to talk to women if you realize that they are people with a mind who have something interesting to say. Women aren't a collection of sex parts behind a security system that needs to be bypassed before you can access them. If you are thirty and can't talk to women, you need to see a psychologist, because you have serious problems. Acknowledging this to be the case is part of the solution, but not the entire solution.

On to the articles: the idea of these buttons came about because this guy and his friends were lamenting that groping a woman's breasts wasn't a trivial. They can't talk to women, which actually is trivial, so they want the entirely of interpersonal interaction that extends beyond conversation collapsed down to the level of a polite greeting. That is insane.

What awful non-humans these people want to be. Where is the love of romance? Where is the passion? Don't you want to have the chance to be charming, to be charismatic? Don't you want to connect with someone on so deep a level that they make themselves vulnerable to you? Don't you want to do the same? Don't you want to look into someone else's eyes and explore the unfathomable mystery you find there?

Or have you convinced yourself that charisma, charm and wit are 'tricks' that men ply to dupe women into sex? Understand that for most people, most healthy people, sex isn't the objective, the relationship is the objective. That connection with another person that remains even during physical separation. A connection so deep and profound that it makes physical intimacy both frightening and exhilarating, no matter how experienced you are.

FTA: It wasn't that she was a piece of meat to be felt up, but rather that a living person that we did not know had voluntarily lowered the barriers that separate us and allowed us in... And we were so grateful that we were showering her in pure adoration.

Oh, adoration! What a brilliant idea he came up with that has been commonplace in bars and nightclubs for decades! He says over and over that the woman "retains her right to say no." Oh great benefactor, thank you for not enslaving the women. Oh, great Conqueror, our eternal gratitude for not rendering all women concubines! Of course she retains her right to say no, and you don't have the ability to take it away in any case.

Does this fool, this eunuch who cannot ask a woman even to join him for a dance, does he think he has the power to project his will with such force that it robs women of their consent?

If these people think this is so wonderful, they then admit they are not capable of any relationship that extends beyond prostitution. If the entire world operated under these rules, these people should realize that while a few women would let them touch their breasts, nearly all women would still refuse to go on a date with them.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:11 AM on April 23, 2008 [75 favorites]


FritoKAL, I'm glad you're not invested in the OSBP cause.

As for folks bitching about it, it's outrageous. It's going to keep being outrageous as long as there's something to talk about. That's also how the Internets work, wouldn't you agree?
posted by kalessin at 8:14 AM on April 23, 2008


Kalessin - Yeah. I just wish people would stop and think "Oh, crap, is my bitching going to actually make this potentially WORSE?"

It's like LJ-strikethrough and one-day boycotts. Are you really helping, or just causing drama and making people go "Wow, you're WAY over the top here, and I'm going to disagree with you just so I don't look as dumb as you." (Also a dumb reaction, but commonplace.)
posted by FritoKAL at 8:18 AM on April 23, 2008


If two months into college you are still alienated and ostracized, it is your fault, not society's. You are lacking in some social skills that others have, and that deficiency is holding you back.

The inability to talk to girls, strangers, and adults became a source of pride.


With it's own fancy 'syndrome'.
posted by pieoverdone at 8:27 AM on April 23, 2008


The topic of the post made me lose faith in humanity.

The snarks in this thread restored it.

Thank you MetaFilter. Thank you.

posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:32 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whoops. Sorry I went bold on you guys. I was going to quote someone and I forgot to.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:33 AM on April 23, 2008


As long as they respect a woman's wishes when says No, what's the problem?
posted by grubi at 10:49 AM on April 23 [+] [!]


The problem is that this is not a question I, and I think for once I can actually speak for most women, ever even want to be asked. Magically, because lots and lots of people don't want this question even asked, it ordinarily is not. And that is a really good thing and one where basic social etiquette really works.

Here's the deal: this is my body. I have breasts. I appreciate being left the fuck alone when I'm doing something, whether that's at a con or walking down the street or at the store or whatever. Here's a little exercise: try turning it around, as long as your wishes are respected if you say no, is it okay if anyone - and I'm saying anyone, male or female - comes up to you on the street and says, hey, can I squeeze your testicles? How about when you're busy and minding your own business and not actually even thinking about your testicles at that exact moment? How would you feel if that kept right on happening?

It would make me want to start shooting people, to be honest. Leave my breasts alone because, look, if I want someone to touch my breasts, I can guarantee that he will know about it. He won't even have to ask out loud. Really. And the pool of men who I want to touch my breasts is very, very small and it doesn't include even one stranger.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:34 AM on April 23, 2008 [27 favorites]


By the end of the evening, women were coming up to us. "My breasts," they asked shyly, having heard about the project. "Are they... are they good enough to be touched?"

Jeez, they're all good enough to be touched.
posted by fixedgear at 8:38 AM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's a little exercise: try turning it around

According to theferrett, somewhere in his response to 1300 comments, women had offered to do just this - and he knocked them back.

And if you believe him, I have a bridge to sell you. Unfortunately the 'just imagine it was you' thing doesn't really apply to many situation regarding sexism, because until men have been objectified from year dot to the same degree females have, both personally and implied throughout society, then it's going to be difficult for men to appreciate how fucking uncomfortable it is when people operate on the assumption that your body is somehow communal.
posted by cosmonik at 8:39 AM on April 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


By the end of the evening, women were coming up to us. "My breasts," they asked shyly, having heard about the project. "Are they... are they good enough to be touched?"

I assumed this was just a lead-in to her asking "and...I'm a virgin, I don't know much about sex...will you teach me, theferrett?" at which point he normally wakes up.
posted by cosmonik at 8:41 AM on April 23, 2008 [18 favorites]


Whoops. Sorry I went bold on you guys. I was going to quote someone and I forgot to.

This is no excuse for ignoring my No You May Not (Bold) button.

Overall: basic obliviousness about one's own dysfunctions is by no means restricted to nerds. But man, when they hang theirs out, they hang theirs out. It's like the world is constantly throwing them Mardi Gras beads.
posted by Drastic at 8:43 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Their sexism was outrageously tepid and juvenile, but what really grinds my gears about this is that it could have been an interesting open sores experiment if they'd simply allowed the meaning of "Yes" and "No" to change organically, and maybe thrown in a few blank buttons for people to write their own instruction sets on. Probable result? Nerd orgy. Which may or may not have involved sexuality, but would at least have been interesting.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:43 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are posts about this all over the parts of the internet I frequent, and I like it. I like that when someone makes a blog post which makes me feel as creeped-out and icky as this one, there are lots of people saying hey, no, this shit is not acceptable and here are dozens of articulate arguments and parodies and discussions of the issues, and that next time I happen to go to a con while in possession of breasts not everyone is going to be thinking like theferrett was.
posted by penguinliz at 8:45 AM on April 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


As a geek living in Southeast Michigan, I had to make a choice this weekend: Penguicon, a D&D Meetup, or a Democratic Party district convention. I am now so glad I chose politics over computers.

Those people sound like a bunch of losers. They sound like the losers who used to show up at my college gaming club, say stupid things about women, and get mocked until they ran away. Rejected by people who played Dungeons & Dragons as their primary hobby. That's some serious, full-color, life-size, world-endling loserdom, there, and apparently, it's taken over Penguicon.

Penguicon is now permanently ensconced in my mind as "the boob-touching convention." From now on, everytime somebody suggests I go, I'm going to have to say "Isn't that the boob-touching convention?" If someone tells me they're going, I'm going to have to warn them, "Hey! Look out for the boob-touchers!" I'm going to be a one-man anti-Penguicon propaganda machine.

Man, I'd really like to punch somebody right now. I should start the Open Source Punch a Sexist Project. Anybody know a union print shop around Detroit that can make some buttons for me?
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 8:46 AM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


an interesting open sores experiment

I am adamantly opposed to any Open Sores project, regardless of the body parts involved.
posted by Drastic at 8:46 AM on April 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Fair enough, mygothlaundry. That's all I needed to know.
posted by grubi at 8:47 AM on April 23, 2008


By the end of the evening, women were coming up to us. "My breasts," they asked shyly, having heard about the project. "Are they... are they good enough to be touched?" And lo, we showed them how beautiful their bodies were without turning it into something tawdry.

Okay, so I'm assuming that never happened. And, the moment anyone says "and lo", the response should be an automatic 2+1 drill, double-tap to the chest and a single to the head.

But there it is again, we showed them how beautiful their bodies were. They were the arbiters of beauty, and it depended on first touching their breasts. See how he tries to sound magnanimous in the act of judging her? Because at the core level, this is about power and control for these guys. He's so happy he had some power over women for once, he can't contain himself.

And Scalzi's take is, I'm sorry to say, preposterous:

I think it’s reasonable for folks to get used to breasts being a component of a whole human, not these strange, mystical entities there to entice and distract one, and if there’s any place where there are people who could benefit from this lesson, it’s a convention full of computer, science fiction and anime geeks, many of whom are very young men (temporally and/or socially). Hopefully some of them benefited from the experience, and not just because they got to touch a girl’s breasts.

What's the benefit that the geeks can gain from this? How does creating an environment where it's socially acceptable for men to ask to touch a woman's breasts help them to see that breasts are a component of the whole woman? They aren't asking to hold their hand or touch their hair. You know what would actually help these geeks?

Notice that the commentary is from the standpoint of the guys. Why does he assume that geeks=men. Weren't the women there also geeks? What is the lesson that women learned? They learn that men can change the social order at their whim into an one where their refusal to have strangers violate their personal space nonetheless attracts undue attention to their bodies. Men of course do not have to submit.

You know what I'm going to do for the next Penguincon? I'm going to hire five or six nearby college football teams to show up in full uniform and just walk around through the entire convention, mingling and saying and doing whatever they want. You want high school, motherfucker? I'll give you high school.

We live in a civilized society, please don't ruin it.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:47 AM on April 23, 2008 [18 favorites]


Man, I feel robbed. I was hoping for some kind of an Open Source Boobie Project.

You know, a counter to that fucking penguin who gets all the good press.
posted by quin at 8:52 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


BTW, unfortunately married does NOT always mean lots of play.

Personal experience here.
posted by Samizdata at 8:55 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I'm going to hire five or six nearby college football teams to show up in full uniform and just walk around through the entire convention, mingling and saying and doing whatever they want."

Well that'd guarantee breast-touching, at the very least.

penguinliz, I wonder if, at a convention, he'd be in the minority re. his conception of female anatomy, and how males may treat such. Here's hoping.

I wonder what the threshold is for virtual suicide of an online entity - would it be easier for him if he just folded up his LJ, start up again as theotter or theweasel or some other mustelid, and distanced himself entirely from his 'theferrett' personae?
posted by cosmonik at 8:59 AM on April 23, 2008


I didn't read further than the title of the FPP. But if it has anything to do with Toothing or Greenighting:

I'd.
Hit.
That.

OK, back to work. "Welcome to Wendy's; may I take your order, please?"

Timer reset?
posted by not_on_display at 9:00 AM on April 23, 2008


Samizdata, true enough. We must remember that Howard Stern was also married during a lot of his shock jockiness years.
posted by kalessin at 9:06 AM on April 23, 2008


lukemeister: "In my day we used the touch command, and we were glad to have it!"
grandsham@animecon /usr/female $ touch breast
touch: cannot touch `breast': Permission denied
Obviously, hese guys just need to know how to use chmod.
posted by grandsham at 9:16 AM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


As long as they respect a woman's wishes when says No, what's the problem?

The problem is that the default should be "no", but in the OSBP, the default is "yes", and the women are the ones who have to be proactive and wear a big red button to tell you not to do something you shouldn't be doing in the first place.

The problem is that it's legitimizing treating women like objects.

The problem is that women are already basically born wearing a green button, and live their lives trying to take it off.
posted by tzikeh at 9:16 AM on April 23, 2008 [21 favorites]


Ugh.
posted by maxwelton at 9:27 AM on April 23, 2008


The problem is that the default should be "no", but in the OSBP, the default is "yes"

...Office of Small Business Programs?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:28 AM on April 23, 2008


I know this is a breach of etiquette and decorum, but I am compelled to ask: Why the fuck is this socially retarded 5th-grade horse-shit on MetaFilter?

I assume so we can all moan about how it being socially retarded, 5th-grade horseshit. Which it is.

What I'd like to know is why it's tagged with feminism and not sexism?

Some great reactionary posts on LJ though.
posted by opsin at 9:33 AM on April 23, 2008


"Hey, I would like to give you a really rocking orgasm the best way I know how!"

Idea for yes/no buttons at the next con?
posted by owtytrof at 9:33 AM on April 23, 2008


I read in the paper today that PETA is offering a million-dollar prize for the first person to come up with a viable way to produce breasts in vitro.

These so-called test-tube breasts will be touchable without the social awkwardness of having to ask the bearer for permission.
posted by found missing at 9:38 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Hey, I would like to give you a really rocking orgasm the best way I know how!"

Hint: It involves my iPod, one rather curious attachment, and The Very Beast of Dio
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:38 AM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


As long as they respect a woman's wishes when says No, what's the problem?

Not to mention, you end up with women who were completely unaware of the nonsense, and have neither button. Now it's socially acceptable in this project to walk up to a woman you don't know and say, "Hey, where's your button?" "Why aren't you wearing a button?" "Don't you want a button?"

Isn't it a clever project? You can force women to participate for yea or nay, when they should be allowed to be just left alone in the first place.
posted by headspace at 9:39 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


It could be the lack of sleep for me today, but the additions of 1) a third button that said, "Guess," with accompanying knife and/or 2) pictures of the groper's mother's breasts for every other woman wearing a button to be shown during the process, seems really funny right now. Other than that, it's not funny.
posted by sleepy pete at 9:40 AM on April 23, 2008


Isn't it a clever project? You can force women to participate for yea or nay, when they should be allowed to be just left alone in the first place.

In all seriousness, I'm really surprised that there are apparently no reports of nerdy little mouthbreathers getting knocked the fuck out. Or at least yelled at.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:43 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd touch it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:00 AM on April 23, 2008


You're new around here right? This sort of rock off-getting is hugely popular in these parts.
Excellent, so it's not just racism.
posted by bonaldi at 10:11 AM on April 23, 2008


the women are the ones who have to be proactive and wear a big red button to tell you not to do something you shouldn't be doing in the first place.

Ah. I thought we were just talking about the simple act of asking, not specifically the button thing. But, yeah, that makes sense. It is particularly douchey.
posted by grubi at 10:23 AM on April 23, 2008


I'm so glad we're putting livejournal drama on fucking metafilter.
posted by shmegegge at 10:36 AM on April 23, 2008


You are? May I touch your comment?
posted by found missing at 10:49 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's like Valie Export's "Tap and Touch Cinema," completely reversed.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:50 AM on April 23, 2008


Pastabagel:

"Notice that the commentary is from the standpoint of the guys. Why does he assume that geeks=men. Weren't the women there also geeks?"

In fact, the person I heard it from -- after the fact, and after I'd left the convention -- was a female participant, who is definitely a geek, and was rather positive about the experience. And cgc373, when I heard about it, I was under the impression it was female-initiated as well, because that's who I heard about it from. Indeed, in a follow-on post, I wrote:

I’m for the idea of demystifying breasts to young men who fetishize them to the extent of not being able to process the fact there is an actual person that they are part of, yes. My understanding of the project was that this was a component of the thing, although I fully admit that inasmuch as my knowledge came after the fact and based on what I remember being told about it at lunch, it may have been at variance with how it was envisioned by the participants, or how it was otherwise reported. How I saw it, however, was that if some women wanted to attempt to mitigate mammary hyperfocus in socially underdeveloped male geeks via this sort of offer, I was fine with that and wished them luck with it.

I'd note that it's not the way I'd do it, personally.
posted by jscalzi at 10:53 AM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Timer reset?

Damn you!
posted by dersins at 10:57 AM on April 23, 2008


ew
posted by FunkyHelix at 11:00 AM on April 23, 2008


Yeah, this seems like the sort of thing some of the people I went to University would dream up. Also, in a posse like this, there is always that one chick ready to say, "You can touch my boob." The social dynamics of the super-nerdy are interesting.
posted by chunking express at 11:09 AM on April 23, 2008


I agree with so much that Pastabagel is saying.

I am proud of my nerd heritage. But I hate the tradition of glorification of sexual retardation within certain segments of the Nerdo-American community. Nowadays, with three recent Tolkien-based major movies having been so popular, and a computer of some type in every room of many people's houses, I feel a little vindicated for my high-school days when I risked getting an ass-kicking for carrying a book about elves and hobbits that had a map in it, or knowing how to load a file from another computer across town onto the one I was sitting at.

So, a lot of classical nerdosity has gone mainstream. And this "nerdly relations as sexual harassment" theme went mainstream with it a long time ago. The movie Revenge of the Nerds, for instance, featured Our Supposed Heroes The Male Nerds relating to women by sneaking cameras into their rooms to watch them undress, and tricking them into sex. And these were seen as the Nerds' Great Triumphs!
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:11 AM on April 23, 2008


Man, I don't know about you guys, but I feel so much better about myself now that I've found out what kind of person everybody hates (and I'm not like him)!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:13 AM on April 23, 2008


I don't know.

Maybe I'm just a freak (as so many tell me), but, given it's purely voluntary and the rules are obeyed, the whole thing sounds vaguely amusing. Hell, I'd wear a "Yes" button myself (some seriously perky A cups here - yes, I am a boy, BTW) just for the good spirit of the thing.

It reminds me of a seriously odd adult Halloween party I went to once. Someone had a costume consisting of cardboard shaped in such a fashion over a woman in a wheelchair that nothing but her rather large bare breasts could be seen. Above them, there was the simple caption "Touch them".

I didn't get to try, mind you, as I was in a rather elaborate costume as a hanged man, and the foam gallows strapped to me precluded any real bending over, but it was still a rather interesting experience. In an odd sort of way, though, it really didn't do much for me at all, much like those, ahem, parts you see in adult stores.

I guess I am a whole package kind of guy. And, no, that doesn't mean any significant others of mine have to get little tattoos everywhere that say "Not intended for individual sale"...
posted by Samizdata at 11:15 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and geek is a completely gender neutral term, IMLTHO...
posted by Samizdata at 11:16 AM on April 23, 2008


I quit reading theferrett some time ago. I can't remember why. I think his politics turned me off.
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:22 AM on April 23, 2008


I discussed this with a female friend and we both agreed that we would not find this nearly as icky if it were a bunch of women groping each other's boobs.

Well.... actually....

That's how it started.

From the clarification, The originators of the Project were women, who asked first, and received first, with the men asking afterwards. In fact, it started out as women exploring each other.
posted by dwivian at 11:31 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Women aren't a collection of sex parts behind a security system that needs to be bypassed before you can access them.

And here I thought this was what made them so much fun...

Kidding. Nice diagnosis Pasta.

Asking a beautiful woman to dance is one of my favorite things about being alive.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:39 AM on April 23, 2008


Man, what a "Ladies, I sure do love cunnilingus" feeling over in those comments.
posted by klangklangston at 11:47 AM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Klang, if you can come up with some sort of word (possibly in German) that can defined as a '"Ladies, I sure do love cunnilingus" feeling, I promise to put a picture of you next to it in my homemade dictionary.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:52 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


As soon as I heard about this from various people on my livejournal it made me think of the MENSA convention A.J. Jacobs visits in The Know-It-All, where people have stickers on their nametags indicating whether or not they accept hugs.
posted by jtron at 11:57 AM on April 23, 2008


As a woman who was at Penguicon for the whole weekend with another woman, neither of us even saw any of this going on. I saw a girl with one of the green buttons but she was kind of an asshole so I didn't bother to ask about it.

Penguicon actually had a really good gender ratio for a sci-fi and computer focused gathering, and I actually had no bad or cringeworthy gender-related experiences. At all! Randall Munroe of XKCD actually talked about sexism on the internet at his panel. It was great.

So come to Penguicon! It's not inherently a boob-grabbing festival, it's really cool and there is free beer. That is all.
posted by Tesseractive at 11:58 AM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I read two of the pages linked, just two, and I read none of the comments, and at least half of the indignant questions asked in this thread are answered in one of those two pages, mostly on the clarification page.

Those buttons were given out by one woman only, who only gave them to people she could vouch for or who had been vouched… Because she had to trust that the people involved would be cool with it. If you didn’t wear a button and didn’t ask what was going on, nobody ever asked to touch you. The default was thoroughly opt-in.


it was approximately 4% of the con, mostly people who knew each other.

I think the whole scenario's a bit weird, and kinda juvanile, and there's something that sounds wrong about it, but if those two statements are true, it lessens a lot of the shudder factor.

I've never been to a Con, of any sort, but I understand them to be a gathering of a particular community, with a lot of the people familiar with each other beforehand, and I can see something like this occurring without being a crime against the human race, much less concentration camp worthy, for heaven's sake.
posted by redsparkler at 11:59 AM on April 23, 2008


Tesseractive:

"As a woman who was at Penguicon for the whole weekend with another woman, neither of us even saw any of this going on."

Not a woman myself, but also at the convention the entire weekend long, and as a fairly high-profile guest, and all of this went right past me. Hell, I know The Ferrett and several other practitioners of the project, and I still didn't hear about it until after I was gone. They didn't make a big deal out of it. It really wasn't a major component of the con. It's a much larger issue after the fact then it was at the actual event.

I think it's rather unfortunate that Penguicon itself seems to be getting slammed for the Open Source Boob thing. It was the action of some of the attendees, not of the con itself.
posted by jscalzi at 12:10 PM on April 23, 2008


That'd be Das Cunnilingusliebensverhalten, I think. "Cunnilingus-loving demeanor."

Although there's probably a good colloquial word for cunnilingus that might sound better.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


I have favorited all of the comments that made me laugh out loud. The phrase 'cockpunching', employed so skillfully by longbaugh above made tears run down my face. The internet represents both the worst and the best of humanity. Kudos to all of you for making my damn day.
posted by msali at 12:36 PM on April 23, 2008


Although there's probably a good colloquial word for cunnilingus that might sound better.

Guy's got kind of a, like, pussyeating grin? That doesn't cover the desperate twinkle in the eye, though. You know the one I mean.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:43 PM on April 23, 2008


I’m for the idea of demystifying breasts to young men who fetishize them to the extent of not being able to process the fact there is an actual person that they are part of, yes.

Yes, the best way to stop the fetishization of breasts is to come up with a game that allows men to reduce every encounter with a woman into an opportunity to touch her breasts. Why look a woman in the eye when it's so much easier to look at her button?
posted by turaho at 12:46 PM on April 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: You know what's worse? LiveJournal.
posted by steelbuddha at 12:51 PM on April 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Turaho:

"Yes, the best way to stop the fetishization of breasts is to come up with a game that allows men to reduce every encounter with a woman into an opportunity to touch her breasts."

Well, as I said, it's not the way I would do it.
posted by jscalzi at 12:57 PM on April 23, 2008


jscalzi, I'm not an "you're either with us or against us!" type of male feminist, but I do think that when we're talking about these sorts of topics it can do the most good for getting the message across (not to ferrett, who clearly heard the feedback, but to lurkers and hangers on) that it's not okay to behave that way is to frame that kind of negative feedback that you're sort of glancingly giving in a more direct and stronger tone.

I read your reaction, and yours seems more like a washing your hands of it and a you didn't see it sort of reaction, and not really any sort of condemnation. This sort of "it's not the way I would do it" reaction is pretty tepid, given the sheer loud indignation and outright hurt the publicity of the project seems to have induced in women in the world who were otherwise uninvolved and would not have heard about had ferrett chosen not to publicize it the way he did.

I'd personally prefer you to express a stronger opinion about it. You have the influence to do good with that sort of a stance.
posted by kalessin at 1:22 PM on April 23, 2008


I'm starting to think that the timer reset is deliberate. Those lies about there being no cabal are insidious.
posted by waraw at 1:37 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


dwivian: I saw that, but the whole story was related from a male perspective, and probably because of that focused on the boob-groping by the men, which is the part that seemed icky. And it is icky, and the many facets of that ickyness have been described by hundreds of comments.

You want to be icky with your friends? Enjoy! But bring it out in public and it's open for commentary and yes, condemnation.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 1:38 PM on April 23, 2008


Stay Classy, Open Source Boob Projecteers!
posted by tittergrrl at 1:40 PM on April 23, 2008


Well, kalessin, you can prefer anything you'd like, of course, but it doesn't mean you're going to get it. The women I know who participated in this aren't stupid or passive or tools for men; they had their reasons for doing it, and I think it is relevant to note that in the context of when and where it happened, it was so not a big deal that it seems the majority of con-goers weren't even aware it was going on. While it's definitely not something I'd be inclined either to try or to suggest others do outside of very safe and consensual situations, I don't think it's the worst thing that's ever happened, either. I do give credit particularly to the women participating that they knew what they were doing and why and how it would play within the context in which it happened.

I do think there's an underlying assumption that the people who were doing this are idiots/oversexed dweebs/socially horribly maladapted/variously clueless, and alternately, that Penguicon was a nipple flash away from becoming some horrible spring break scenario in which howling bands of boys terrorized unsuspecting women. The reality of the situation is that neither of these is the case: The women I know who participated are accomplished and intelligent women who had a point they wanted to make about touching and intimacy, and who have been regular attendees of Penguicon over the years; the vast majority of Penguicon attendees, as far as I could see, were extremely well-behaved. The make Penguicon attendees might be geeks, but they're generally not dicks. There's a lot of arrogation of perspective going on, and people having a hard time imagining a brace of smart, well-adapted and, yes, feminist women doing something like this. Well, guess what: Smart, well-adapted and, yes, feminist women did something like this, and did it in a place where it could work like they wanted it to.

As I mentioned in my follow-on, the first time I heard about it was from one of these women, who was enthusiastic about the event and how it played out; my reaction on hearing about it was well, that's not what I would do, but, okay. Everyone else in the world heard it from the The Ferrett, who (as even he appears to admit now) wrote about it in just about exactly the right way to make Teh InterTubes have a massive spasm of indignation. I don't imagine if my first exposure to the concept was The Ferrett's retelling of it, that I would react any different, especially considering my basic lack of enthusaism for the concept anyway. However, that's not how I encountered the concept, and I know some of the people who participated and have faith in them as people that they weren't doing something stupidly or heedlessly. I'm not going to pretend male feminist indignation simply because people I don't know apparently expect it of me.

Would I have done something like the Open Source Boob project? No. Would I have availed myself of a free touch if I had known about it at the time? No. Would I suggest porting the Open Source Boob projects to other contexts and venues? No no no no no. Am I going to say or assume horrible things about the participants, some of whom I know? No. Am I going to change the way I express my opinion about it? No.
posted by jscalzi at 2:10 PM on April 23, 2008 [9 favorites]


If this group of little pishers (who, I'm convinced, all talk in creepy Peter Lorre voices) wanted to touch boobies, I just don't get why they didn't just stroll around in public at a crowded con wearing giant buttons that said:

I WOULD LIKE TO TOUCH THE BREASTS OF RANDOM WOMEN I DON'T KNOW but I am a feminist, baby, so don't punch me in the face

Oh, wait, that might have been humiliating and uncomfortable for the poor fellows, and we can't have that.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:24 PM on April 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


I would support this project under one condition, that an approached female had one of THREE options:
1, green button
2, red button
3, cancel the project entirely and remove all buttons from the convention.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 2:38 PM on April 23, 2008


Open source is quite the misnomer here. How the fuck is this in any way open source? It sounds like a cuddle party gone even more wrong than cuddle parties usually are.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:33 PM on April 23, 2008


This doesn't look like Open Source, this looks like Public Access.

Either way....ew.
posted by casarkos at 3:42 PM on April 23, 2008


I really, really do not get what the big deal is here. Not even a little bit. Some people touched each other. So what? I was not there, so I only know what was written by people who were. But assuming the accounts are accurate, most responses I have seen seem completely ridiculous.

The "default" option was NOT grabbing people's breasts.

The "Yes" button was not an automatic invitation to grope. It meant "Yes, you may ask."

This was a small group of people who all decided to participate. People were not required to participate, or shamed for not participating. As far as I can tell, people were not even invited to participate unless they approached the participants, not the other way around.

These things are not sexist. They are not wrong. I think it's dumb, but my opinion really doesn't have anything to do with this group of people and their experience, which was, from all accounts, positive.
posted by Nothing at 3:59 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Part of the problem is that the actual reality of the project (small group of people, all linked in a network of friends, across both genders, not approaching any unconnected individuals, and just for the one convention) is totally at odd with theferrett's account, which gives the impression of a group of heterosexual men propositioning women they had never met because they thought their skimpy outfits were an invitation, and letting women know their breasts were worthy of groping. And goes on and on about how this was a wonderful, transcendent experience we should totally spread to other cons, and just screams of drooling fanboy finding a way to cop a feel and generally invokes my OH JOHN RINGO NO sense. I do find it hard to reconcile the smart, feminist women I know taking part in anything like that, and while the clarifications help, they don't negate the creepy vibe of the first post and many of theferett's replies to comments.

redsparkler: how well the con-goers know each other beforehand is going to be heavily dependent on the size of the con, and when you're up to a thousand attendees no one is going to know more than a subset of the other members. There is a tendency I've seen for people to assume that because everyone at a con is from the same broad community that it's a form of safe space where everyone will be awesome like your friends, when in reality anyone can buy a membership and wander in no matter how unpleasant they are.
posted by penguinliz at 4:22 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Penguinliz:

"Part of the problem is that the actual reality of the project (small group of people, all linked in a network of friends, across both genders, not approaching any unconnected individuals, and just for the one convention) is totally at odds with theferrett's account"

It's entirely possible that he's engaged in a bit of gonzo journalism in his recount. Certainly the version of it I heard about was less dramatic. It was more "this was a thing that happened" rather than "this is the beginning of a movement we're taking on the road."
posted by jscalzi at 4:40 PM on April 23, 2008


So you are saying that this is something to be outraged about because of how you imagined the situation, based on your "impression" of the "vibe", even though the actual situation was quite different? And you also find it difficult to imagine certain women you know liking what you imagine happened?

From what I can tell, all the noise is about the fact that what people imagine happened, or what people imagine might have happened if things had gone badly, or what people imagine might happen in the future if other people tried this, is bad, even if what actually happened was a positive thing for the people involved. That is a bit too much imagining for me to be able to get outraged.
posted by Nothing at 4:41 PM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


From what I can tell, all the noise is about the fact that what people imagine happened, or what people imagine might have happened if things had gone badly, or what people imagine might happen in the future if other people tried this, is bad, even if what actually happened was a positive thing for the people involved. That is a bit too much imagining for me to be able to get outraged.

Well, no. It's noise about what people imagine happened based on the lengthy writing of a participant and apparent evangelist for the cause. So that's not a stretch at all, really.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:54 PM on April 23, 2008


By the end of the evening, women were coming up to us. "My breasts," they asked shyly, having heard about the project. "Are they... are they good enough to be touched?"

I assumed this was just a lead-in to her asking "and...I'm a virgin, I don't know much about sex...will you teach me, theferrett?" at which point he normally wakes up.


Yes, then he has a shower, and changes his sheets.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:23 PM on April 23, 2008


also, i have no idea what an "entry tag" is in livejournal, but whatever they are, these offer a very depressing metacommentary or something:

Entry tags: a bit sad, agree with me or you're a prude, among the stupid the semi-stupid is king, basic decency is oppressive waaah, boobs =/= public domain, boobs drooling over boobs, can i touch your manboobs?, charizard hates your mom, crap thoughts on personal space, desu desu desu, don't judge me, elrond hates your sexist bullfuckery, entitlement complex - i has it, farmer ted, fauxpology, feminists are big meanies, getting back at the mean girls, getting your tits groped is feminist, half-assed passive-aggressive apologies, hi! i'm a jackass!, huh i didn't know backpedaling was spell, i don't understand peer pressure, i like nips, i'm a man so the world owes me boobs, i'm a misogynist jerk, i'm an ass, i'm so progressive, inability to set boundaries, king of the geeks, let me validate you, look but don't touch, male entitlement syndrome, male privilege, may i please kick you in the balls?, may i squeeze your waistflab?, molestation is totally respectful, molesting strangers is cool, my sexual enlightenment let me show you, neanderthal gratification, nearly 2000 years after one man had been, no social skills necessary, o hai passive aggression, objectification, part of the kick in the balls project, passive system, personal boundaries = prude, pretentious bullshit, really crap heterosexual ferret, shut up spelling nazi!, shutting down comments = nobody disagree, silly feminists and their personal space, so ronery, stfu and diaf plz, stupid women with their bodily autonomy, then they came for the lawn gnomes, this is not open source, unmitigated asshattery, very poor backpeddling, very poor spelling of "backpedaling", waaah feminists, when "nice guys" aren't nice at all, white people like sandwiches, why i'm scared to go to cons now, you people and your personal space, your boobies: give me them
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:26 PM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Richard Stallman looks really good in comparison.
posted by lukemeister at 5:40 PM on April 23, 2008


waraw,

We try not to take Our existence deniers personally.

It does occasionally get to Us however.

To relieve Our mood We sometimes take over Mr President Dr Steve Elvis America's login and make false comments.
posted by the Cabal at 5:52 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stay Classy, Open Source Boob Projecteers!
posted by tittergrrl at 1:40 PM on April 23 [+] [!]


epony....hee hee.
posted by tristeza at 6:44 PM on April 23, 2008


Amen delmoi !!

Don't worry about women wearing "Yes you may" buttons out of social pressure. A few may wear them for rebellion, but they'll take the button off once they've have enough rebellion. No big deal.

See cuddle party for a more gender symmetrical (asexual) version.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:55 PM on April 23, 2008


jscalzi: In fact, the person I heard it from -- after the fact, and after I'd left the convention -- was a female participant, who is definitely a geek, and was rather positive about the experience. And cgc373, when I heard about it, I was under the impression it was female-initiated as well, because that's who I heard about it from.

I believe Pastabagel's criticism (with which I agree, frankly) is that you're aware of the female origins of the OSBP, but you characterize young men as "geeks" and the hypothetical women whose breasts they touch as "girls." And yet, the girls are also geeks, so you're implicitly denying them of their fellow geekitude. Hence the male-biased perspective to which PB refers.
posted by bettafish at 7:25 PM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, and is theferrett always so inarticulate? I remember reading a profoundly stupid post from him once about how people with chronic illnesses and disabilities needed to Face Their Problems and Stop Medicalizing - and when I called him out on how he was vastly oversimplifying a spectrum of ways people manage illness - using a very ill-defined set of vocabulary to boot - it was always my fault for not understanding him because I didn't get his theory, or I wasn't willing to work with his vocabulary, or I was arguing outside the terms of his argument, or not accepting his good faith...

Anyway, he seems to be doing the same kind of backpedaling in the comments and clarifications here. It's never that he's failed to communicate; it's always on the other person.
posted by bettafish at 7:32 PM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Jsonic: I am very sorry to hear that you were kicked in the nuts and that this has impaired your ability to understand hyperbole. Way to go, however, on emphasizing that men can beat women up. You're a fucking champ.
posted by klangklangston at 8:19 PM on April 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


Or have you convinced yourself that charisma, charm and wit are 'tricks' that men ply to dupe women into sex?

They're not tricks, they're stats. Duh. Now roll. Come on, natural twenty!
posted by Miles Long at 8:27 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please don't send Scalzi to the camps. I'm looking forward to his next book.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:28 PM on April 23, 2008


HAHA: Joking about physical violence is ok if you're a woman, according to klangklangston. And I'm a 'champ' for dissuading such actions.

/me adds klangklangston to dumbass list
posted by jsonic at 8:30 PM on April 23, 2008


jsonic: i know probably dozens of women who could knock all but the biggest guys flat without the guys even knowing it was coming.

and the way it tends to go with hidden martial arts skills, i wouldn't be surprised if there were dozens more who could do likewise, only i don't know it yet.

apart from the phenomenal stupidity of violence itself, this is a great permanent reminder against getting physical with strangers.

(that applies somewhat to jacalata's original comment, too, although i'd like to believe that the vast majority of guys wouldn't retaliate)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:33 PM on April 23, 2008


bettafish:

"And yet, the girls are also geeks, so you're implicitly denying them of their fellow geekitude."

Well, no. We were all at a science fiction/open source software convention. Geekiness really is assumed all around. The idea that an explicit notice of male geekiness in this particular context implicitly robs women geeks of their geekitude strikes me as zero-sum bending over backward for something to be worked up about. If that's indeed where Pastabagel is coming (or you), that's fine, but I think it's acontextual, which has interestingly been something of a problem with this whole discussion.

I think theferrett is unusually unfiltered, which is not necessarily a good thing if you don't like to do a lot of backtracking.
posted by jscalzi at 8:38 PM on April 23, 2008


Did jsonic get lost on his way home from the youtube comments?
posted by dersins at 8:38 PM on April 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


although i'd like to believe that the vast majority of guys wouldn't retaliate

What kind of sexism is this? Someone physically attacks another person, and you expect the victim to stand there and take it based on their gender?
posted by jsonic at 8:38 PM on April 23, 2008


jscalzi, thank you for clarifying. I truly do understand the boundary between what I want and what you'll do. It's still not clear to me that ferrett and his compatriots do or did, though. :)

I do not think, though, that given ferrett's initial account, that the assumptions folks made were that far off from what was written about.

And I also still think that your influence could be used here to help guide folks back to the civil side of society if you so chose.

I do respect your right not to do anything anyone tells you to, though, of course. It's sort of a pity that we feel the need to underscore this dynamic, but context being what it is in this overall discussion, it feels especially important to be as clear as possible about not only requests but desires and rights, freedoms and obligations and the potential coerciveness of social desire. Doesn't it?

bettafish, from what I know about what's going on behind the scenes, it indicates to me that yes, he's backpedaling, but that is ferrett's style, as far as I can tell. Stir the shit, and then backpedal furiously if things get too stinky.

I can vouch for his having gotten very sound public and private spankings over, pretty much, his journalistic ethics in this case, though, much good it will do him or us. My impression is that it will probably not leave a lasting impression.

Honestly, the thing that pisses me off about any of this is that, yes, it's possible that there were some women who got some validation from the project but now that the shit is stirred up as much as it possibly can get, that validation will bring its own shame (for having backed this very wrong horse), whereas if ferrett hadn't felt the need to shed so much public light on this particular experience, that validation may have survived in the privacy of the con.
posted by kalessin at 8:49 PM on April 23, 2008


jsonic: my personal version of feminism doesn't include equal opportunity for bashings.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:50 PM on April 23, 2008


lukemeister, at least RMS didn't (this time) wave his MacArthur around and ask for a starfuck. He did used to do that a lot to Bostonian geek-friendly women who swam in certain geeky social circles. Maybe he's grown out of that. If so, good on him!
posted by kalessin at 8:54 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


my personal version of feminism doesn't include equal opportunity for bashings.

Who's talking about equal opportunity here? The only thing I've argued against is the delusional idea that it's OK for a woman to initiate physical violence if she feels offended.

I'm all for equal rights and equality for all. I'm NOT for some bullshit 'reparations' mentality that thinks women deserve a free pass for violence simply because they were oppressed in the past.
posted by jsonic at 8:57 PM on April 23, 2008


Kalessin:

"And I also still think that your influence could be used here to help guide folks back to the civil side of society if you so chose."

Heh. Well, thank you. I do suspect you overestimate my influence. And in this particular case I'm not sure what's left to do in that regard. The event and Ferrett's retelling of it have been roundly rejected by the mass of Teh Internets that have concerned themselves about it, and I don't see too many folks defending either or particularly the latter.
posted by jscalzi at 9:05 PM on April 23, 2008


jsonic: /me adds klangklangston to dumbass list

Is this some new pony I'm not aware of?
posted by cosmonik at 9:05 PM on April 23, 2008


jscalzi, don't be too humble now. I know a bunch of micro/macro famous people but am always a supporting character, very rarely in the limelight. You know the sort. Anyhow, while I don't personally find influence, fame or infamy particularly compelling, I do know when I'm around it.
posted by kalessin at 9:09 PM on April 23, 2008


I want on the dumbpony list, too.

What kind of sexism is this? Someone physically attacks another person, and you expect the victim to stand there and take it based on their gender?

Yes, societally we do have that expectation. I'm a large, strong man. There are very, very strong social norms and beliefs such that if a small woman (provoked by my terrible sense of humor and suggestions of grabbing her breasts, say) kicks me in the nads -- that is, she attacks me first -- there is still an expectation that I should control myself. Just because I have the strength to, as you suggest, kick her teeth in, does not mean that I am socially permitted to do so.

Legally, I don't know what the boundaries are. Socially, if a large man started kicking in a woman's teeth in a convention hall, I would expect people to intervene, perhaps brutally. Now, in real life what happens is that violence against women is kept largely out of sight, and out of mind, and is allowed to continue, and women who fight back are sometimes charged with serious crimes. Sexism runs very deep; our collective tolerance for someone here saying that she would kick a guy in the nads for behaving inappropriately is not exactly the central point of your oppression.
posted by Forktine at 9:17 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


jsonic: we might be more or less in agreement here; just that your initial comment had a rather macho sort of framing, along the lines of "oh, gonna get violent with me, huh? well, in that case i'm gonna knock yr freaking teeth out! howdja like that?!??"

i don't believe *anybody* should initiate physical violence just because they're offended, although perhaps a slap might be ok. in fact, i had a girlfriend full-on punch me in an argument once, and my response was to say that if she ever Ever EVER did that again, she'd be dumped that very instant, becoz it's *not* ok for her to hit me, any more than it would be ok for me to hit her.

but back to your initial point: if guys are so much bigger & stronger (on average) than girls, doesn't that place an onus upon them to show some restraint? walk away, block, defend if you have to, but retaliation? no, i don't think that's called for.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:20 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


... the delusional idea that it's OK for a woman to initiate physical violence if she feels offended.

Now, I may not be a woman, but I think if someone walked up to me and asked to fondle my testicles, I'd feel more threatened than offended. Also, I think it was meant as hyperbole, and there's plenty of violent exaggeration all over this site which are made and well-received by both genders.

... because they were oppressed in the past.

You say this as though the problem has been completely solved.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:22 PM on April 23, 2008


Yes, societally we do have that expectation.

That you accept this expectation, as do others, shows your acceptance of the delusional idea that feminism is not about equality, but rather, is the idea that women should be placed on a pedestal. Do you honestly not see how this is not only patronizing towards women, but also a continuation of the idea that women need some form of 'manly protection' in order to function in society?
posted by jsonic at 9:30 PM on April 23, 2008


Legally, I don't know what the boundaries are.

Generally speaking, reasonable self-defence is ok; excessive self-defence can become a criminal charge of assault & battery / causing GBH. A defence or mitigation of provocation can be argued, but most courts would probably rule in favour of the woman. It all depends on the specific circumstances, though. And also on your jurisdiction.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:31 PM on April 23, 2008


macho sort of framing, along the lines of "oh, gonna get violent with me, huh? well, in that case i'm gonna knock yr freaking teeth out! howdja like that?!??"

I don't see that as 'macho' at all. If I picked a fight with some dude who was larger than me, then I'd expect to get my teeth knocked in.

The idea that this woman thinks she is morally justified in physically attacking someone else simply shows some delusional sense of entitlement. It is also incredibly naive of her to think that there would be no physical repercussions for her if she attacked someone much larger than her.
posted by jsonic at 9:40 PM on April 23, 2008


Dude, you can't have things both ways.

We (societally, not all of us individually) agree with you that:

You do realize that, on average, you will be at a severe physical disadvantage if you decide, in your moral outrage, to start a fight.

Note the bold bit. Because of that stereotype (that woman = smaller, weaker), along with all kinds of other ideas our society has about men and women and gender and so on, there is indeed a belief that the stronger party should at times exercise restraint even if attacked.

And that isn't anti-feminist, or anti-equality, or anything like that. That's just a silly argument to make. We can argue about whether or not those social norms should exist, but that doesn't get away from the fact that they do, in fact, exist. (Maybe you should clarify whether you are making a reality-based or a faith-based argument here, because it's different if we are talking about how our ideal utopian societies would be constructed, versus how society today functions.)
posted by Forktine at 9:42 PM on April 23, 2008


Because of that stereotype (that woman = smaller, weaker)

Uh, how is that a stereotype? On average, it is reality.

I'm all for avoiding violence, especially against those who are weaker than I. The original woman I responded to felt morally justified in taking advantage of this societal norm. She felt that it was OK to initiate violence because she felt she could get away with it without repercussion. Guess what, she's wrong. If she actually tried to put her money where her mouth was, she would not only get fucked up, she would also get arrested for assault.

This false sense of entitlement is the very antithesis of feminism.
posted by jsonic at 9:51 PM on April 23, 2008


no, let jesus continue. i'm liking not being on the receiving end this time.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:05 PM on April 23, 2008


It's also impressive how you valiant men are coming to the aide of the damsel in distress. Why not let the self-proclaimed ball-kicker defend herself? Or do you get off on the antiquated idea of defending her 'honor'?
posted by jsonic at 10:15 PM on April 23, 2008


a false analogy strawman! this jesus has the full range of logic-defying miracles!

so the gay guy at the professional conference is asking to touch the straight guy's cock, right? and the straight guy is probably smaller & weaker, right? (although he might have awesome martial arts skills; we don't know). and the straight guy is constantly bombarded with images & messages that remind him that his main value in society is proportional to the size of his cock, right? and he's subjected to these kinds of advances all the time, right? and he's sick to death of them? and they often carry overtones or the very real possibility that these forward gay guys (and a bunch of their mates) might drag him into an alley for a violent butt-rape, right? that *was* what you were saying, true? becoz otherwise the analogy wouldn't *quite* work very well.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:18 PM on April 23, 2008


huh. It's all about me now - I feel special. You know what, jsonic? I'm a total non-confrontational wuss. Part of why this whole thing infuriated me so much is that I am absolutely that girl who would be all 'um...ok' while thinking "NO! WTF? GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!" Despite all this, I have been known to say 'I felt like punching him in the face' and similar. Hyperbole, do you recognise it?

To clarify
"She felt that it was OK to initiate threaten violence on the internet because she felt she could get away with it without repercussion.

Damn straight I did. You wanna fight about it?
posted by jacalata at 10:23 PM on April 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Enjoy your self-rationalizations guys.

Here's the facts:
1. Girl threatens to initiate violence
2. Girl is NOT condemned for threatening violence by people who otherwise are opposed to violence.
3. Girl actually gets dozens of favorites for threatening violence.
4. Manly men feel the need to defend the honor of poor little Miss Ball-kicker
5. Manly men fail to realize they are doing feminism a disservice.
posted by jsonic at 10:23 PM on April 23, 2008


"It's also impressive how you valiant men are coming to the aide of the damsel in distress. Why not let the self-proclaimed ball-kicker defend herself? Or do you get off on the antiquated idea of defending her 'honor'?"

since jacalata isn't here to defend herself, i demand satisfaction! retract your suggestion that her honour has been besmirched.

*slaps jsonic across face with glove*
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:23 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also - fuck you. Some of us have stuff to do offline, many apologies for taking 15 hours to sleep and go to uni.
posted by jacalata at 10:25 PM on April 23, 2008


oh, jacalata's here now.

i would be privileged to stand as your second, my lady.

this blackguard has been behaving most caddishly & deserves his comeuppance.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:25 PM on April 23, 2008


Hyperbole, do you recognise it?

Stop being so intentionally obtuse. If I, a manly man, threatened (hyperbolically) to shove my foot up your ass, I'd be shouted down as a misogynistic asshole. But when you, the poor-wittle-girl, threaten violence, not only are you NOT condemned, people actually feel the need to favorite you.

How sad that a bunch of self-proclaimed feminists fail to realize how non-feminist their actions are.
posted by jsonic at 10:28 PM on April 23, 2008


If I, a manly man, threatened (hyperbolically) to shove my foot up your ass, I'd be shouted down as a misogynistic asshole.

well, to remain as true to the original scenario as possible, could we imagine that you're a manly black man, and jacalata has just seen you at a professional conference, and said "hey, boy! take my coat to the cloak room, and bring me a coffee - white, two sugars!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:34 PM on April 23, 2008


jsonic, re: feminist

You keep using that word -- I do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:34 PM on April 23, 2008


"Here's the facts:
1. Girl threatens to initiate violence
2. Girl is NOT condemned for threatening violence by people who otherwise are opposed to violence.
3. Girl actually gets dozens of favorites for threatening violence.
4. Manly men feel the need to defend the honor of poor little Miss Ball-kicker
5. Manly men fail to realize they are doing feminism a disservice.
"

This may help you in the future: to be facts, statements have to be true. Perhaps you have a literate friend you could ask to help you out with that?

Here's a hint: For a threat to be real, there has to be a real target.

Also, just tarting up your spastic opinions by calling 'em facts? Doesn't actually make them more convincing.

"But when you, the poor-wittle-girl, threaten violence, not only are you NOT condemned, people actually feel the need to favorite you."

Who says she's a poor "wittle" girl? She seems like she could kick your ass.

But total extra points for again ignoring social context! It's like you want to stay in your group home!
posted by klangklangston at 10:37 PM on April 23, 2008


Men threaten violence (hyperbolically) on this site all the time and are not condemned for it.

You're fighting about something that exists mainly in your mind, and shouldn't your ax be sharp enough by now? You'll just shorten its lifespan if you keep at it.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:39 PM on April 23, 2008


"Keep avoiding the discussion Ubu. You know your in a losing position when you're actually defending violence based on the gender of the wannabe attacker."

And you keep avoiding discussing why you want Hitler to kill all the Jews. Can't you see how anti-Semitic that is?
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 PM on April 23, 2008


But total extra points for again ignoring social context!

Thank you for explicitly stating you major malfunction. You actually believe that women should be placed on a pedestal instead of being treated equally, all based on the 'social context' of past discrimination. You, sir, are the type of person who fancies himself to be a supporter of feminism, yet fails to realize that your viewpoint is just as parochial as those you purport to oppose.

She seems like she could kick your ass

HAHA: YOU GOT ME! Way to continue to condone gender-specific violence, dumbass.
posted by jsonic at 10:44 PM on April 23, 2008


Keep avoiding the discussion Ubu. You know your in a losing position when you're actually defending violence based on the gender of the wannabe attacker.

feel free to point out anywhere that i defended violence.

as far as i can see, i've made a few points condemning violence, but none defending it.

what i *am* attacking, though, is somebody who apparently feels it's ok to punch somebody's teeth out, for resisting his boob-groping attempts.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:45 PM on April 23, 2008


I favorited it. Not because of the ball kicking, but because of this:

I hate the whole world a little bit more now.

It lightens my heart when people come to the dark side. I bet there have been few conversions just because of you jsonic, so you can't be all bad.
posted by M Edward at 10:46 PM on April 23, 2008


for resisting his boob-groping attempts.

Way to fail @ reading comprehension.
posted by jsonic at 10:47 PM on April 23, 2008


"Thank you for explicitly stating you major malfunction. You actually believe that women should be placed on a pedestal instead of being treated equally, all based on the 'social context' of past discrimination. You, sir, are the type of person who fancies himself to be a supporter of feminism, yet fails to realize that your viewpoint is just as parochial as those you purport to oppose."

ABORT/RETRY/FAIL.

You're the kind of guy who gets pissed off because black people can call each other "nigger" and you can't, right?
posted by klangklangston at 10:56 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


This tomfoolery reminds me of the clarion callers who declare that proponents of affirmative action are the real racists. I too thought that was a very persuasive argument when I was 13. In a few years, jsonic will be sitting around in his dorm room and his thoughts will drift to this discussion and his roommate will be like, "dude, why did you just shake your head and shudder to yourself?" It's okay, jsonic, we've all been there.
posted by granted at 10:59 PM on April 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Oh my fucking god. Way to ruin an civilised discussion about sexism on MetaFilter, jsonic. Fuck you.
posted by liquorice at 11:00 PM on April 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Firstly, I have never proclaimed myself to be a feminist. And despite the fact that your approach makes me want to tell you to fuck off and ignore everything you say, you are making some interesting points.

For instance, there are two different arguments here
1) As a girl, I should never threaten/initiate violence because I will end up getting hurt. In general, I disagree with this on two counts - I could totally take many stereotypical (or 'average') geek guys, and in some cases I would be happier to start and lose a fight than to let it go.

2) It is never acceptable to begin violence based on a verbal approach. I also disagree with this. For instance, if the hypothetical approach was made to me in a dark alleyway, I would feel completely and absolutely justified in taking it as a threat, and responding physically. This response may not always be the best response (see above) but it would still be justified.

So one issue here is - would this hypothetical approach, in a (supposedly) safe social setting, be enough of a perceived threat to justify my initiating violence, and would it be just offensive/dangerous enough that I actually felt it to be worth initiating violence over rather than, say, running away? And the weird thing is, the more it fits criterion 1 (perceived threat) the less likely it is to fit criterion 2 (that a violent response is the most likely to be successful). In general, as a girl, there are almost no situations that are likely to actually fit both those criteria, and that's where your argument gets it's power. It seems that if I could physically overpower anyone, then clearly there is not enough of a threat to justify using violence in response to it. And that ...oxymoron? is partly why it is more acceptable for girls to joke about being violent, because it is so much less likely to actually happen.

So to sum up: yes, there is a double standard. In my view, given that girls are less successful at being violent, it is more acceptable for them to threaten and joke about it. Just like* it's more acceptable for me to joke about nuking Iran than it would be for Bush to do so.

*except not like it, in any way that analogy fails.
posted by jacalata at 11:03 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're the kind of guy who gets pissed off because black people can call each other "nigger" and you can't, right?

HAHA: Now who's resorting to non-sequiturs?

Enjoy your 'white mans burden' form of feminism where past inequalities are righted by creating inequalities today.
posted by jsonic at 11:03 PM on April 23, 2008


Way to fail @ reading comprehension.

ok, Doctor Comprehendo: since your reading comprehension skills were so clearly up to the task of finding where i had defended violence, perhaps you can demonstrate how it should be done?

for example, please point out what part of the following sentence does not fit the phrase "resisting his boob-groping attempts":

And if any shithead ever asks me, at a professional conference, if he can touch my breasts, I'll go ahead and kick him in the nuts without asking.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:05 PM on April 23, 2008


"Enjoy your 'white mans burden' form of feminism where past inequalities are righted by creating inequalities today."

Man, them women an' coloreds are sure gonna be glad to hear that all inequalities are in the past.

Can you give me an exact date on when that happened? Like, was it a while ago? Late April, '68? Or did it happen when Reagan took office?

Was that when women stopped being disproportional victims of sexual violence?
posted by klangklangston at 11:11 PM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


So to sum up: yes, there is a double standard. In my view, given that girls are less successful at being violent, it is more acceptable for them to threaten and joke about it. Just like* it's more acceptable for me to joke about nuking Iran than it would be for Bush to do so.

I see your point. My argument was based on two things: your threatened violence AND the blanket acceptance of this threat by the numerous dumbasses who favorited it. Honestly, if you were just a lone voice in the sea of comments, I wouldn't have bothered. But it was the combination of a threat with the apparent endorsement of said threat that prompted my response.

I also find it interesting that, while your response is cordial and cogent, the responses of the manly men defending you are so impregnated with fervent emotion. What might they be compensating for?
posted by jsonic at 11:11 PM on April 23, 2008


please point out what part of the following sentence does not fit the phrase "resisting his boob-groping attempts

"asks me"

Got it yet?
posted by jsonic at 11:13 PM on April 23, 2008


"HAHA: Now who's resorting to non-sequiturs?"

Also, ps. duder—the point was that social context mattered. I understand not being able to make the connection, what with all the gas you're clearly huffing, so I'll let it slide.
posted by klangklangston at 11:15 PM on April 23, 2008


Was that when women stopped being disproportional victims of sexual violence?

It's sad that you think the wrongs of some men make it morally justifiable for all women to make threats of violence against any man. It's as if you can't see the logical fallacy in saying that some men do bad things, therefore all men should be treated accordingly.
posted by jsonic at 11:17 PM on April 23, 2008


"What might they be compensating for?"

EVERYONE WHO CALLS ME DUMB HAS A SMALL COCK. THERE I SAID IT.
posted by klangklangston at 11:17 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also find it interesting that, while your response is cordial and cogent, the responses of the manly men defending you are so impregnated with fervent emotion. What might they be compensating for?

well, if the emotional manly men are impregnated, it can't be womb envy, so you can strike that off the list.

on preview: asking to grope boobs = making an attempt to grope boobs. it's just not a physical attempt. but i can forgive you misunderstanding that one; it's a bit subtle.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:19 PM on April 23, 2008


EVERYONE WHO CALLS ME DUMB HAS A SMALL COCK. THERE I SAID IT.

Actually, I was leaning more towards your self-hatred.
posted by jsonic at 11:20 PM on April 23, 2008


KLANGKLANGSTON IS EXCEPTIONALLY CLEVER. I JUST HAD TO SAY THAT.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:21 PM on April 23, 2008


"It's sad that you think the wrongs of some men make it morally justifiable for all women to make threats of violence against any man. It's as if you can't see the logical fallacy in saying that some men do bad things, therefore all men should be treated accordingly.

Really? She made the "threat" (not conceding that) against "any" man?

Oh, no, we're in jsonic's fantasy world again, where Spiderman is still Captain Marvel. Don't you know that shit got retconned?

It's like you can't see patterns and extrapolate… almost like you're fucking blind to social context.

I gotta go to sleep no, Rainman. How about you post some gems so I can wake up and laugh at you again?
posted by klangklangston at 11:21 PM on April 23, 2008


It's sad that you think the wrongs of some men make it morally justifiable for all women to make threats of violence against any man.

WTF? Who shot who in the what now?
posted by granted at 11:22 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually, I was leaning more towards your self-hatred.

oh, so you're like that stuffwhitepeoplelike guy?

only, without being funny.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:22 PM on April 23, 2008


I had the fortunate advantage of reading all your comments and then being forced to leave for a meeting for an hour before I could respond. I still had to edit my response heavily before it came across as reasonable, and for an example of my instinctive reaction, see liquorice's comment above mine. And remember how I said I'm ridiculously non-confrontational? I'm less so online, but still perhaps more than others.

Aside from that, if you want reasonable discussion, you should stop using words like 'dumbass' in your opening contribution. See that line "what might they be compensating for?"? That's you being a dick, and moving towards personal arguments, and that's not going to get you any cordiality in response. Your overall level of conversation is frustratingly trollish, and the main reason mine isn't in return is because I'd be ashamed to have that in my comment history.
posted by jacalata at 11:29 PM on April 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I also find it interesting that, while your response is cordial and cogent, the responses of the manly men defending you are so impregnated with fervent emotion.

Ahem.
Also, notice: not defending anyone, merely stating this is simply being blown way out of proportion. Now, why don't we all stop with the name-calling and insults, take a deep breath, and forget this whole mess ever happened.

At any rate, if I've learned anything today it's that no good comes from this whole "Open Source Boob Project." None. At all. And, now, I'm going to bed.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:32 PM on April 23, 2008


The entire context of this thread was a self-consenting environment where the girls chose if they wanted to participate or not.

This isn't true, in that much of the context was gained by reading the ferret dude's blog, which does NOT give that impression. My original response, certainly, was written under the impression that girls not involved in the project would be asked, either straight out or under the guise of 'which badge do you want?' which is in fact the same question. Therefore it seemed that by being at the con, you would inadvertently be participating.
posted by jacalata at 11:33 PM on April 23, 2008


Act like an asshole, and I'll treat you like one.

I don't come out of the woodwork to argue for no reason. Violence is one of topics that prompts me to. Especially violence that is condoned by folks who normally claim to be non-violent.
posted by jsonic at 11:34 PM on April 23, 2008


I love how you guys are favoriting each others comments. It makes them seem SO much more legitimate.

i can't speak for the others, but i tend to favourite the comments that make me laugh out loud; especially when the commenter shows sheer bombastic bastardry.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:37 PM on April 23, 2008


Therefore it seemed that by being at the con, you would inadvertently be participating.

That still doesn't excuse a threat of violence on your part, even if it was hyperbolic. You wouldn't accept a man threatening violence against of woman, much less favorite it. That you felt entitled to make such a statement is the bothersome part.
posted by jsonic at 11:39 PM on April 23, 2008


Act like an asshole, and I'll treat you like one.

And you wonder why people aren't giving you the courtesy of 'cordial, cogent responses'? That's exactly the reasoning everybody else has used in responding to you. If you actually want a real discussion, rather than the self-righteous glow of having told everybody where to go, you're going to have to take some responsibility yourself for maintaining or sometimes even lifting the level of discourse.
posted by jacalata at 11:41 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


jsonic, you do know that you sound like a fucking loon, right? And you're doing it on purpose, right? I mean, this is all just performance art trolling, isn't it?

I ask because the alternative is painful to contemplate.
posted by dersins at 11:43 PM on April 23, 2008


And you wonder why people aren't giving you the courtesy of 'cordial, cogent responses'?

I see your point, but come on. You of all people are really in no position to lecture me on how to act cordially. At least I'm not resorting to threats of violence.
posted by jsonic at 11:44 PM on April 23, 2008


No, it's hyperbolic threat of violence ON THE INTERNETS that seems to have roused you from your slumber big fella.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:47 PM on April 23, 2008


OK, I'm to try and actually explain this instead of just making bitchy comments, and then I'm going to sleep.

jsonic, one aspect that you seem to be missing is that for many women (including myself, and obviously jacalata), the mere question "Can I fondle your breasts?", coming from a man, is itself an implicit threat of violence. I would even call it an act of violence itself, insofar as I would have a very physical reaction to it - wincing, stomach-churning fear and revulsion. To many women, it's insulting to act like it's just an innocent request. It isn't, for all the contextual reasons that many here have tried to point out to you. Now I don't know how it feels to be kicked in the balls, and thankfully I never will, but as a metaphorical comparison, I think it's pretty apt - a painful violation of a very fragile place. Jacalata was trying to translate our experience to something men can identify with. Yes, it really is that bad.
posted by granted at 11:47 PM on April 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'll stand up for Ferrett. He is often an entertaining and insightful writer, and does not deserve to be written off over one silly post alone.

On sex, and abortion.
On the death of his uncle.
On relative sexual experience, and happiness.
On money.
On capitalism and lying.

Regarding the "Open Source Boob Project" itself ... I think it's silly, but I don't think it's awful. Having been to many gaming conventions, I can easily imagine a small subset of attendees coming up with the idea and no-one who didn't want to be bothered, being bothered (except aesthetically, but that's the observer's problem, IMO).

In my experience the usual signifier is a corset designed to fit someone fifty pounds lighter, not a green badge, but the person wearing it and their general attitudes would be the same. :)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:49 PM on April 23, 2008


aeschenkarnos - you really don't want to pull out the "look at what she's wearing, she's totally asking for it" argument.
posted by casarkos at 11:51 PM on April 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Me of all people? I thought I actually was demonstrating 'taking responsibility for lifting the level of discourse'. Clearly, however, I am as dead* to you, so I'm going to go drink my sorrows away over the long weekend.

*or maniacally violent, same diff.

I still think that if you wanted a better discussion, you could have had one, and the only reason that discussions here are usually 'a few steps above the noise' is that most of them don't involve someone acting like you and preemptively dismissing everyone in the conversation.
posted by jacalata at 12:02 AM on April 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


aeschenkarnos - you really don't want to pull out the "look at what she's wearing, she's totally asking for it" argument.

i don't think that was what he was trying to say at all.

i think it was a stereotype of a certain kind of goth / gamer girl. i know bunches of these girls in real life, and yes, they do wear corsets that look five sizes too small because they want to have their boobs looked at, and also touched, as often as not.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:05 AM on April 24, 2008


I'm sorry for butting in on your very private conversation in front of the 60,000+ members of Metafilter.

I didn't favorite Jacalata--I chimed in because you're being a dick and I'm on vacation--but I'm guessing those who did were supporting her gumption and defiant attitude rather than the actual act of ball-kicking; it was perfectly clear to me that her comment was about the sentiment, not the act. (Don't get me wrong, like all viewers of America's Funniest Home Videos, I love watching a good ball-kicking). Your reading of her comment is a pinhole-narrow literalism, and even you must have noticed by now that others didn't read it the same way.

In addition to your unorthodox interpretation of the comment in question, you're reacting against a perceived view of Metafilter ("a website where most people (I'm guessing) disapprove of violence"--maybe, maybe not...some violence? All violence? According to the single-volume or seven-volume version of Vollmann's Rising Up and Rising Down?).

Your vehemence, then, is based on a strangely literal interpretation of a comment in a thread, an unsupported (and vague) stereotype of the membership of this site, and, pretty obviously, a hobbyhorse stance about feminism (and a pet peeve about putting women on pedestals or something like that).

Your comportment in this thread has been neither charming nor clever, neither insightful nor edifying. Top it off with some choice diction ("dumbasses") and suddenly your contributions to this thread directly contradict your impression of this site ("Usually discussions here are a few steps above the noise.").
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:09 AM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry for butting in on your very private conversation

Yawn.

Here's the facts again:

1. Jacalata makes a comment endorsing violence in response to a non-violent act
2. Dozens of people favorite said comment, tacitly endorsing said violence (even if hyperbolic)
3. I post a comment denouncing said violence as well as pointing out the inherent danger in attempting it
4. Certain posters fall over themselves in attempts to support or excuse her comment
5. The hypocritical nature of their posts reveals underlying issues with gender that they are uncomfortable in contemplating

I didn't jump into this thread this evening because I wanted to make some friends. I pointed out an issue to the original commenter. That others felt the intense burning desire to defend her comment is their doing, not mine.
posted by jsonic at 12:19 AM on April 24, 2008


Ubu, I don't question that there are people who indeed wear outfits like that at cons, and maybe even do so in hopes of getting attention and/or touched, but I'd rather not presume to say that applies to each and every person who dresses that way.

Especially with stuff like this in the FPP:

And then the real magic happened. Because a beautiful girl in an incredibly skimpy blue Princess outfit strode down the hallway, obviously putting her assets on display (the thin strips of her clothing had to be taped to her body to stay on), and we stopped her.

That's some prime we-get-to-judge-what-your-clothes-mean right there. Without a green button, even.
posted by casarkos at 12:19 AM on April 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


granted for many women (including myself, and obviously jacalata), the mere question "Can I fondle your breasts?", coming from a man, is itself an implicit threat of violence. I would even call it an act of violence itself, insofar as I would have a very physical reaction to it - wincing, stomach-churning fear and revulsion.

It's really not a question a man ought to ask, unless he knows the answer is yes. Even then asking it in such a way strikes me as off-putting. It would be extremely rude. I don't see much difference, in terms of manners or appropriateness or whatever, between this and outright sexual proposition, except that outright sexual proposition seems to me to be less juvenile. I totally agree with all those who said the red badges were stupid.

But the green badges? *shrug* There really are some women who get off on that, and men who get off on women who get off on that. It's pushing the boundaries of tasteful public behavior, that's for sure, but it's a question that's extremely difficult to separate out from one's personal aesthetic prejudices and preferences. I'm on the side of "you go ahead, but don't involve me, or anyone else that isn't unambigiously wanting to."

Personal space issues are a gender divide, and that's fine. The worst sexual harassment I've ever personally experienced from a woman (exactly the sort I'm visualizing wearing a green badge), while annoying and disturbing, in no way gives me the same anxiety granted describes. I don't expect it would, for most men. I'm comfortable with the idea that the experience is different for women, and therefore, different rules ought to apply.

As for men with serious "don't touch me!!" issues that put them on the same sort of level (again, not unheard of at gamer/SF cons), well, I think it's common politeness not to run around grabbing people anyway. But maybe that's just me. Maybe the social context allows for a certain amount of certain kinds of grabbing. *shrug*
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:23 AM on April 24, 2008


(casarkos - yeah, we're on the same page. Err on the side of not. :) )
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:25 AM on April 24, 2008


So this theferrett person? Is he also furry?

Because that would explain a lot.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:33 AM on April 24, 2008


So, this made me a little sick to my stomach.
posted by Nattie at 12:49 AM on April 24, 2008


jsonic, this flamewar is making my eyes bleed. And for the people who kept feeding him, for the love of god, why? It's obviously a dispute that went beyond civility in the first few volleys. x_x;

I would probably not kick a man in the nuts if he asked to grope my breasts at a con and offered me a button. I would give him a fish eyed look, feel very alienated and not come back.
posted by Phalene at 1:38 AM on April 24, 2008


When I say, "Like any good project, you need access control, because there are loutish men and women who just Don't Get It," I am not referring to the women who don't want to be involved, who are perfectly cool, but rather the guys/gals who see a green button and assume that it means that the woman has to let herself be touched because she's got the green on.

Yes, I am completely certain that there were many, many uncontrollable, loutish women who were using this asinine "project" for their own pervy ends.
posted by PM at 1:52 AM on April 24, 2008


but making me water from the eyes through the wrath of your bombast cancels that out, akhi.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:03 AM on April 24, 2008



1. Jacalata makes a comment endorsing violence in response to a non-violent act
First of all, it was a joke, and everyone understood that.
Secondly, asking a strange women if you can fondle her breasts is not only unbelievably annoying, it's dehumanizing - especially in the context Jacalata was referring to. If you proceed to then touch her breasts without her consent, you've crossed the line into sexual assault territory, which does, in fact, sometimes warrant non-hyperbolic physical retaliation.
2. Dozens of people favorite said comment, tacitly endorsing said violence (even if hyperbolic)
That is because they thought it was funny.
3. I post a comment denouncing said violence as well as pointing out the inherent danger in attempting it.
Your funny-detector is broken. Your sense of self-righteousness and cannot compensate. I will, however, endeavor to take your concern for the well being of weak girly-kind into consideration; next time someone is groping me, I will flag down a big strong man for assistance.
4. Certain posters fall over themselves in attempts to support or excuse her comment.
See - response to 2.

5. The hypocritical nature of their posts reveals underlying issues with gender that they are uncomfortable in contemplating.
My head just exploded.

It didn't really explode, nor should this post be considered an endorsement of head-exploding, which is bad and wrong and stains the couch.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:17 AM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. I went to sleep, came back and didn't recognize this thread at all.
posted by jscalzi at 4:31 AM on April 24, 2008


Wow. I went to sleep, came back and didn't recognize this thread at all.

It's like the a meeting of the Junior Internet Anti-Sex League got invaded by contestants for the Ultimate Internet Fighting Champion.

Did you ever notice that the acronym for Anti-Sex League is A/S/L?
posted by Sparx at 4:49 AM on April 24, 2008


jsonic's especially choice in this conversation with his self-righteous posturing about other folks endorsing violence. If you take the time to look at his comments-posting activity, you'll find a lot of language in a discussion about gun rights where he talks about "defending [himself]" from the fantasy of criminals with guns. Wherein "defending" pretty clearly means having the option of shooting at them. You know, with guns. In the violent way.

Throwing stones in glass houses could be interpreted as a violent act, jsonic, but maybe we'll just let this one ride as a really interesting illustration of contextual self-criticism or lack thereof.
posted by kalessin at 4:54 AM on April 24, 2008


Just goes to show: you never know what's going to happen when you post something you think is kinda interesting to metafilter.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:56 AM on April 24, 2008


[a few comments removed - this thread was going FINE for a really long time. please don't continue this fuckuppery by turning it into some namecalling pissing match that could go to metatalk or email. thank you]
posted by jessamyn at 5:10 AM on April 24, 2008


When do we get the pony that lets us flag users?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:25 AM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Darn tootin I favorited it. Yes, it was hyperbole, but if somebody behaves in a threatening, abusive manner, or commits assault, self-defense is generally allowed.

The whole thing, the event and the discussion, trivializes and objectifies women. The project was probably mildly amusing, and should have remained a concept, an in-joke, a mildly amusing anecdote. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Everybody comes out looking really dumb.
posted by theora55 at 6:28 AM on April 24, 2008


The Open Source Boob Project? More like The Open Source Bags of Sand Project.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:38 AM on April 24, 2008


[let me be clear - troll talk goes to meta or email starting now, thank you]
posted by jessamyn at 7:32 AM on April 24, 2008


When do we get the pony that lets us flag users?
posted by kittens for breakfast [!] at 9:25 AM on April 24 [+] [!]


Wait, you don't have it?
posted by oaf at 3:28 PM on April 24, 2008


Wow.

All I can say is that this is something that got blown way out of proportion.

No other comments.
posted by saysthis at 4:25 AM on April 25, 2008


Skipping over the violence brouhaha...

jscalzi: Well, no. We were all at a science fiction/open source software convention. Geekiness really is assumed all around. The idea that an explicit notice of male geekiness in this particular context implicitly robs women geeks of their geekitude strikes me as zero-sum bending over backward for something to be worked up about. If that's indeed where Pastabagel is coming (or you), that's fine, but I think it's acontextual, which has interestingly been something of a problem with this whole discussion.

No, it's not this particular context of one convention, and it's not acontextual; it's a culture-wide context context wherein geeky women are still, all too often, even in my generation (let alone yours) treated as freakish novelties, elevated on pedastals, or accepted as "one of the guys" until they do that one thing to out themselves as a weirdo with a uterus and a different opinion because of it. Frankly, to ignore that cultural background seems to me to be astoundingly naive.

Also, if you could do me the courtesy of not assuming my feelings on this matter, that would be much appreciated. Trust me, if I were worked up ... well, I was going to say you'd know, but actually you wouldn't, because jessamyn, mathowie or cortex would remove my comment straight off the bat. So there you have it!
posted by bettafish at 7:06 AM on April 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


aeschenkarnos, the man you're defending over the Boob post is also the same man who said (bolding mine):
"Angered guys may try to humiliate the women, or they may enter a spiral of asking repeatedly* because God forbid their ego has to deal with a rejection. The idea that every woman in the world must be sexually attracted to you is ridiculous.

Some women asked whether there's a good way to turn idiots like these down - "fuck off" seems to make them even angrier - and thus, I'll put that question open to the crowd: what's the best way to turn down an idiot like this so he goes away?

* - Unfortunately, I can't decry the process of "asking repeatedly," mainly because it's the only stimuli a lot of women respond to. Frankly, I think any woman who has to be begged fifteen times before she eventually accepts should be drug into the back alleyways and beaten, because her rampant need for a string of pleadings trains the wrong sort of men that no doesn't mean no."
So according to this social misfit, it's totally a woman's fault when she finally breaks under the pressure of some asshole's continuing harassment of her, and she should be beaten for being such a victim and making men act like assholes.

I feel so incredibly sickened that there's men like this out there, and that someone like you is reading along and is convinced he's a good guy.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:27 PM on April 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I feel so incredibly sickened that there's men like this out there, and that someone like you is reading along and is convinced he's a good guy.

Go read the rest of the comments then. Your point is put to him, and he gives a reasonable account of himself. He's not necessarily right, per se, but his (very hyperbolically expressed) point comes down to: "I wish women would stop using random positive reinforcement to train men to be assholes. (I also wish men would stop being assholes, and I should have said that first and loudly, but I thought it went without saying.)"

He says--and I, with some caveats, agree--that there are responses other than to break, or not break, under pressure of harassment. One is: she may escalate the force of her refusal. Another is: she may seek out aid in reinforcing her refusal. Another is: she may add negative consequences for him continuing to harass her, such as social humilation, and legal problems. This seems reasonable to me.

His problem, as I read it, seems to be with women who use persistence as a "test" of sorts, and/or are flattered by persistence rather than annoyed by it; his argument is that these women contribute to the harassment of their more forthright sisters. That is far too simple and facile a summary, but I wouldn't call it wrong.

I'm not "convinced he's a good guy", precisely; I don't categorize people as "good" and therefore to be defended no matter what they say, nor do I assume that one post a person makes that I disagree with, or offends me, makes them entirely a bad person through and through forever more. That said, I do think he's more "good" than most people are. I'm convinced he's an interesting writer. In many of his more interesting posts, he describes some shitty thing he did once and now regrets. Some years from now this may be another one.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:46 PM on April 27, 2008


His problem, as I read it, seems to be with women who use persistence as a "test" of sorts, and/or are flattered by persistence rather than annoyed by it; his argument is that these women contribute to the harassment of their more forthright sisters. That is far too simple and facile a summary, but I wouldn't call it wrong.

I read him as suggesting that those women ("a lot of women", in his words) are actually responsible for the rape of others - what on earth else does "no doesn't mean no" imply?

Which is quite a fucking ridiculous strawman point to make, if you consider how many women these days really do resist 15 times before succumbing.

It sounds as if he based that entire argument on a wholly imagined stereotype thrown together from a mixture of an 1950s sexual mores, as viewed through a filter of 19th century literature.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:15 PM on April 27, 2008


(sorry, i meant to put scare-quotes around "resists" and "succumbing" - to highlight the fuckedupness of his mental model. his framing seems to be contributing to the very model that he decries with his next breath...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:30 PM on April 27, 2008


It sounds as if he based that entire argument on a wholly imagined stereotype thrown together from a mixture of an 1950s sexual mores, as viewed through a filter of 19th century literature.
Yeah, I think that about sums it up.

"resists" and "succumbing" - to highlight the fuckedupness of his mental model
He's not the only one who operates under that model, though, and he certainly didn't invent it. I would argue (and I don't like it either) that the majority of human beings operate, more-or-less, within a "resists"/"succumbs" or "give"/"recieve" transactional framework of sexuality. I am sure (reiterating that I don't like it either) that there are sound social and historical reasons why that is so.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:30 PM on April 28, 2008


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