Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

on the "Open Source Boob Project"

When I first heard about the Open Source Boob Project* on friendsfriends yesterday, I sort of skimmed it and wasn't all that fussed.  People can do whatever they want with their bodies and I don't typically feel threatened or skeeved by people doing stuff in my vicinity.

*Sidebar: soundingsea points out: "it's poorly named. The Open Source Software movement is about freely sharing information and solutions. [...]"
    I believe this comment [link seen here] was the first place that it was suggested that "Public Domain Boobs Project" would be more accurate.
    A commenter on soundingsea's post points to RivkaT's post "The right of making available."

Reading various flisters' personal posts today, though, about times they haven't refused unwanted touch, brought home better to me (see, sharing stories = important! in case we didn't know that already) the issues of ambiguous consent.  Of how we often don't want to say no to people for a variety of reasons -- we feel like our discomfort is irrational/excessive/whatever, we feel like it would be insulting to the other person, we feel like we owe the other person, we want to be wanted.  For all my performative fronting, I'm really confrontation-avoidant, so I'll often let things slide that make me uncomfortable, and that sometimes includes physical contact.

I went back after having read those and various other commentaries (some linked below) and read all of theferrett's follow-up clarifications and re-read the original post more slowly (I had completely missed the bit about feeling "healing" from high school awkwardness for example, which lots of commentators had jumped all over).  One thing that jumped out at me was:

[[ 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. ]]

Possibly I was just primed from having read various other commentaries, but the idea of a woman's self-esteem (even just in regards to one part of her body) should be contingent on male approval (or on anyone else's approval, really) is really squicky.  I mean, external validation is all well and good, but ... I just ...

Two comments via the_red_shoes:
Hey, here's a tiny change you could make that casts your project in a whole new light: everyone who might like to grope a stranger wears a green button. Then they sit tight, shut up, and wait to see if anyone offers. If you don't wish to grope a particular body part that is offered to you, you can always refuse, of course!

If there are, in fact, no skeevy power dynamics going on in *your* groping scenario, then shouldn't this version result in an equal number of mutually satisfying gropes? And you obviously don't mind advertising your desire to grope to the whole internet, so wearing a button shouldn't make you feel singled out or uncomfortable at all.

....you have to look at the development of female geeks, who not only have the same not-conventionally attractive, socially confused, and isolated early conditioning as male geeks, but the added stigma of not having their intelligence recognized, encouraged, or appreciated. And being told that their only worth is their sexuality, and clearly they FAIL at that.
You end up with a lot of touch-starved women. You end up with women who think, "I'm sick of being only appreciated in virtual spheres for my intelligence, but still not treated as being as intelligent as men, and I'm sick of being told I'm worthless because I'm not drop-dead gorgeous. If I can't be loved, I want to at least be desired."
I read rhienelleth's post on why the Open Source Boob Project is a really bad idea (link via the_red_shoes).  She closes with: "The bottom line is, this sends a really bad message, and sets up a dangerous precedent/situation for every woman attending."  She makes some really good points I hadn't thought about before -- though part of me worries that her concerns fall too close to the "Don't wear skimpy clothing because then you're asking for it" idea ... but I know it's a delicate balance between, that while it's not necessarily appropriate to blame the victim, that also doesn't mean that people should be encouraged to make themselves likely targets.

TBQ posted:
ladybug218 pointed out that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. IRONY!!!

In more positive news, vito_excalibur brings us the Open Source Women Back Each Other Up Program.

I mentioned this yesterday but it bears repeating: The Gift of Fear should be required reading for everyone. It's about understanding the psychology of violence and learning how to listen to your instincts. It completely ties in to the idea of the Back Each Other Up program because one of the things that keeps us from interfering when we see a situation where someone might be hurt is that we're scared of being wrong, of making a scene, of being considered rude or bitchy. Likewise it helps to show why something like the Open Source Boob Project is violating and frightening even though it wasn't about full-on violence or rape.
Edit: carlamlee's post on this includes a big link roundup, one of which is the following from ladyjax:
I think we should just declare the rest of the day: "Touch Your Own Damn Self" Day.

Want to feel really empowered? Touch yourself.

I'm serious. Feel yourself up, notice the different textures and changes in skin tone. Are you hairy in one place? Less so in another? Ticklish on your feet, your sides?

Touch those places that seem to be a mystery on your own body. Let your fingers do the walking. Your body is lonely with out your touch. In fact it gets jealous that you want to touch someone else so bad instead of concentrating on the home front.

"Body," you might say, "Let's you and me go on a date."

Body might reply, "Why yes, let's do that. It's been so long and you've been neglecting me. Bring flowers."

Touch your own damn self. You'll be glad you did.
Tags: my body is my own

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