PARK SLOPE, BROOKLYN – If one word local area feminist Ada Cunningham says describes her and how she’s been feeling as of late, it would be distraught. This past Thursday night after having waved five separate men over to her table at the local watering hole and eatery to fill out her Consent to Maybe Initiate A Conversation Form (CMIC), Ada couldn’t understand why no one wanted to indulge her. I made the mistake of pointing out that the ‘In Case You Rape Me After This‘ header might turn some men off. However, what was to me baseless castigation to Ada was an unarguable fact. Noticeably louder than before Ada proceeded to enlighten me: ‘An alarming majority of women are raped by men they know. No woman ever thinks that their smiling back at a male exhibiting interest could be encouraging a rapist into our space. That’s a scary thought, especially seeing how every man, even those who haven’t raped yet, are rapists. Yes, all men are rapist. The one’s who haven’t done it haven’t been presented the opportunity’. Since conceiving of forms as a way to keep track of who she talks to in the event of a rape, not a single one has been filled out. Ada finds herself alone weekend after weekend and visibly distraught. Moved by the severity of her predicament, I proposed that Ada walk to the bar with me, where I give the bartender $20 while simultaneously pointing to Ada, telling him that whatever 2 drinks she wants are on me. I instruct Ada that she must at her discretion, first go to the bar while I walk back to our table, then chose her drinks in order to finally see them made in front of her eyes. This ensures no date rape drug conveniently finds its way into her drink. To my surprise, my following to the letter, the instructions for how to make a woman feel safe when buying her a drink, Section II of her CMIC’s Supplementary Information Section, changed Ada’s demeanor. Days later she called me to tell me that she had updated that header I commented on to “In Case You Chose To Rape Me After This”.
“And if the professional rapist is to be separated from the
average dominant heterosexual (male), it may be mainly a quantitative difference.” – Susan Griffin, “Rape: The All-American Crime”,
Ramparts Magazine, September 1971
For me it is ridiculous to blindly follow ideology. While each ideology gives us some insight. That insight should be an aid in helping in our attempts to balance exercising common sense and remaining open-minded. In other words we cannot let someone else’s thoughts and opinion dictate our behaviors. Looking at these words from a former waitress at Hooters:
As for making profits off of my body, it’s easy enough to reconcile when you consider that nearly any restaurant (or service job) will likely judge you a little on your appearance. When exactly did it become a problem to make money off of your body anyway? It just so happened that at Hooters we wore less than at other places. Any position where you have to put yourself in front of other people, in any degree of dress, your audience is listening, making judgments and perhaps fantasies about you. I’ve gotten hit on at the grocery store and walking down the street by total strangers, it’s a lot more comfortable when it’s in a controlled situation.
Honestly, the ability to do this in a safe environment and enjoy myself couldn’t have been more liberating. I didn’t do porn or strip or give handies under the table for cash, I simply appeared each day at the tacky, wood-paneled franchise and did my job.
Each of us has to come to a conclusion on our own as to what is acceptable, without forcing our view on others. For this women her experience at Hooters was liberating. I did a lot of reading before I went to the Tilted Kilt and afterwards. One clear conclusion I’ve reach is that while there are some clear cut cases of objectification, there are other cases where our societal, linguistic, religious, ethnic, socio-political difference make it very difficult to call.
In other words, the reality depicted in classrooms and books is at best a limited approximation of reality. It all tends to fall apart once strong emotions, deep-seated projects, and fantasy come into play.
When the waitress came by to take my order I didn’t see a pair of tits just hovering in the air. I also didn’t hear a feminine voice coming out of the ether telling me the specials of the day. I saw a person like me who looked tired. I have seen a pair of tits before. I’ve even seen a woman naked before it’s not a big deal. I’ve seen enough women naked that is someone bearing me gifts of food like the three wise men did the Messiah isnt going to phase me.
Places like Hooters or The Tilted Kilt are created with a masculine fantasy in mind. Some customers pay for time in a controlled environment where it is ok to ogle, admire and lightly flirt while imbibing the foods and entertainment statistically geared to specific male demographics. There are a plethora of reason why each customer goes. For the families there I am pretty sure it wasn’t to view this server as an object. Each case is specific. For the guys glued to the TV watching the soccer game or the UFC fight, or cheering for a goal, or knockout I am sure that while they appreciate the chicks there, the fact that pay per views are so expensive had a role in them going there. It’s not this blanket objectification just by entering the doors.
Another important issue is the will to chose. If women are put in a position economically where they have no choice but to sell their looks, body, companionship to make a living than that is clearly a case of an entrenched social/economic objectification. I don’t think that the women working at these establishments are forced into these jobs because of economic duress.
The idea that someone else is used as a tool for another’s purposes need further explication, without care for there feelings concerns or experiences. Every relationship is based upon benefit and gain. If there is no coercion of any form there for the women to be there then it seems to be a mutual beneficial arrangement. The presences of attractive females brings people in, as do the giant big screen TV’s and sports, beer and food. The women there are not lacking in agency or self-determination. They are not under the control or ownership of another. There are rules, standards and security in place to safeguard them. There is a concern for their health or well being.
With that said, it doesn’t seem that this environment exploits women. It’s actually quite tame. I have seen regular bars with scantily dressed shot girls and all kinds of lasciviousness. But that is just what I feel at the moment. In due time the more I read, the I talk to people I’m sure things will change but at the moment that’s my story.