I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
~”Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke
A lot of ruckus was generated this past month and continues to be stirred around this song, and not without reason. It actually says that men can interpret whatever gesture a woman makes as sign of horniness and agreeing to sexual advances, which is not only disrespectful but also dangerous for women. The song is climbing the charts and that’s worrisome. I am not going to give further attention to the singer or the song and its MV – I hope some lyrics are enough for you and please refrain from searching it on youtube and thus giving it more credit and views; but you can check the chilling comparison with rape survivors’ testimonies here. I want to step on it to talk about misconceptions in flirting, share some experiences and make certain things clear.
Flirting is tough business; it can be akward and humiliating and generally it can make either the initiator or the receiver feel very vulnerable. That’s why in some cases words aren’t used much, so that there is always the chance to withdraw and deny whatever occured. The one who initiates and the one who has the ultimate word is women. That’s what scientists say and what most people believe. Take a minute to reread this and find the false statements.
Not only this doesn’t reflect anymore an every-day, full of cat calling, reality for a lot of women, but also foments and reinforces victim-blaming or even slut-shaming. In the meantime, it totally ignores the fact that men have no right to make women feel uncomfortable because they have a huge ego and interprete everything to their favor, to be persistent and, much more, to humiliate them publicly. Women don’t necessarily ask for attention when they dress a certain way, and even if they want men to look at them, this doesn’t equate with them wanting to be sexually abused.
It was just this summer, the past month, that I was going home after a plunge in the sea and I heard a ‘hello’ so I wanted to make sure for whom it was intended. I looked around and asked the waiter of a restaurant on my way if he meant to greet me. And he confirmed that he was talking to me and he said it was a simple ‘hello’. I thought that it would be weird to consider it weird, since waiters do PR as well and in the end just a greeting what bad could it be?
I was wrong though. He suggested to treat me a coffee and I said that my parents waited for me at home. He tried to persuade me to come back later that day and I said I couldn’t, I was tired and made clear he brought me to an uncomfortable position and that tomorrow could be more possible, since I still have issues saying a clearcut no and making a scene due to my upbringing (fighting to get better at it though). He kept asking and waiting for a positive answer and I tried to just get away without answering and he even tried to appeal to me through honesty when I said “we’ll see”. In the end, he agreed to see me tomorrow and although he had moved away for awhile to fix some chalk boards with the menu, he came back to me to make me say the ok and handkissed me.
I don’t need to say that I found totally gross that a stranger not only touched me but kissed my hand as well and although he could certainly understand that I was negative to his ‘kindness’ he kept going. And he was sly enough to use the virtue of ‘honesty’ to make me feel even more awful and press me to either outright reject him (though I don’t think he would take a no) or accept his invitation. Not sure if it’s worth mentioning, but it so happened that I had some purple mascara on left from a morning walk to the shops and I wore no glasses. Did he think that he had the right to be pushy because I wore make up? I didn’t go of course. I don’t like men -especially strangers- paying for me and then function like I should owe them.
Sorry I’m not sorry, but many men should stop thinking and behaving like they’re entitled to women’s attention. They should start being decent human beings who respect when the other party declines any gesture, even a ‘kind’ one, and back off when they can see that women don’t want to associate with them. And no excuses like what Megara puts correctly in the above gif. Most probably it’s because these men don’t let us space to breathe and be honest that easily.
Nevertheless, I am not going to complain only about men being brutes, but I want to talk to women, too. Of course, men being the ‘attackers’ and all bear the first and heavy responsibility of their actions. Yet the culture and the parents, and in some cases the notion of what is ‘romantic’ and ‘desirable’ by a woman don’t help much either.
I have encountered a couple of times posters on social media where basically women demand from men to kiss them before they even ask them to because they are so awesome -and impossibly magical- that they can read their minds. If we stretch this line of thought a bit, we aren’t only having extreme expectations from men but also we are allowing men think they can take initiative believing they know what we want. Which might not be that important for a kiss (in an already existing relationship) but certainly it’s more than dangerous when it comes to sexual advances with a stranger and sex itself even with an intimate partner- it feeds the rape culture itself.
I am not always very fond of the jokes and language Louis C.K. makes, but there’s an experience he narrates and does highlight how messed up our worldview as women wanting romance and/or sex is. He was approached by a waitress and they ended up in a bedroom making out, but each time he tried to feel her up, she stopped him and he respected her setting limits, thus nothing happened that night. Next day, the same lady complained about the lack of sex. She has rape fantasies and there’s nothing wrong with it, except that in order to have them fulfilled safely in reality, you have to verbally inform the other party. She was actually saying that he should have … violated her!
And this isn’t just something that a single individual with a twisted perception of reality thought up and created. From discussions face to face that I had with female friends and acquaintances of different ages, I have to tell you that many women still falsely seek the ‘hunters’ or/and the ‘princes’. They want the man who takes decisions in a blink, who is proactive, who ‘hits the hand on the table’. I remember very clearly when a colleague of mine at the university was telling me how fascinated she was by a young man she met who without permission took her mobile phone, made a call to his phone to get her number, and some hours later he was mysteriously outside of her house nudging her to go for a date somewhere. I was totally freaked out. Because she was getting off with a person breaching her privacy and being bossy… Isn’t such behavior the 101 how you got into an abusive relationship?
Something has gone terribly amiss in the way we perceive romance and with our child-rearing when we seek out the fairy tales and do not learn about basics concepts as consent. To sum up, both men and women should make a reality check, and the first should learn to respect the latter.