HollaBack Girls 02

Having read the archives of HollaBackBOSTON, HollaBackNYC and HollaBackDC, that I found out about the other day and posted about… I gained more of an understanding of what their complaints are.

[Disclosure: Anyone who actually KNOWS me knows that there’s nothing I like more than an attractive chick, and I’ll be the FIRST one to check her out… regardless. :D]

The way I can empathize with what they’re saying is to consider bums that we have on the streets of NYC. For instance, you might have a bum standing outside of McDonalds, who has taken it upon himself to act as the doorman. As you go inside, he’ll hold the door for you and perhaps say something pleasant to you. On your way out, he’ll hold the door again, and then ask you for some change. That’s pretty annoying. First of all, it’s not like he has an actual JOB with McDonalds. Second, it’s not like you ASKED HIM to open the door for you either time. Third, you go to McDonalds all the time and open your own doors, so what in the world do you need HIM to open the doors for, and FOURTH, why would you choose to pay him for a service that you didn’t ask for. That’s a couple of levels more annoying than going to the bathroom in a restaurant or club and finding out that there’s some guy whose job it is to stand next to the sinks and hand you paper towels, and he expects you to tip him. πŸ˜•

The reason I see the bum @ McDonalds as a simliar situation is that he’s attempting to interrupt whatever you were doing, saying or thinking in order to try to get some money for you, totally to HIS benefit, and none to yours. This would be similar to the guy on the street that makes some complimentary statement to a woman so maybe he can ‘get on’ in the near future. The reason it’s NOT similar is that I’m a guy. I have all these fantastic, aggressive male options available to me, such as telling the bum to shut up or mind his business, saying I don’t have any change, or letting him know I take offense to him bothering me and if he keeps it up, I’m going to do something about it.

One difference is that many women are intimidated by male harassers and aren’t willing to attempt to get them to cease and desist. This makes sense, because most men like women that are smaller than they are, so they would be physically intimidating to the women. Another difference is that women can’t act like they don’t have what the guy wants. The fact that the guy has chosen to try to get some from her indicates that he’s already decided she has what he wants. The bum doesn’t know whether I have change on me or not. If I tell him I don’t have it, and he persists, there’s going to be a problem.

This is where I empathize with the HollaBack series the most, because a lot of the women who post there aren’t willing to do anything but talk to or about their harassers. Some guy says something or touches them or does something he knows damned well he shouldn’t be doing, and their only recourse is to talk about how ugly he is or how old he is or how out of shape he is or how badly he smells or how pathetic he is or how disrespectful to women….

The pattern is clear, though. In the vast majority of the cases, by the women’s own posts, the men didn’t give a damn AT ALL what the women thought or wanted, and they still don’t. This is something they understand, but they don’t seem to benefit from this knowledge. Knowing that the guys don’t care what they think or say doesn’t cause them to revise their complaints to a more efficient format that might bring about education and perhaps some degree of change. It’s the same reason why the porno industry is big business. The women look good, do what the guys want them to do, and have ZERO opinions about ANYTHING. It stands to reason that if you take someone whose only interest in women is how good they look and “what they’re good for”, and put him on the street and he does whatever he does, it’s not an effective retort to say stuff like:

“you’re old enough to be my father”
“you don’t even know me”
“your breath stinks”
“you’re disrespectful to women”
“would you treat your mother or sister like that?” (my personal favorite :D)
“have you no home training?”
[flipping the bird or cursing him out]
[some statement to him that she wasn’t “dressed sexy” at all]
“did I ask you to talk to me?”
“I didn’t give you any indication I was interested in you”
etc etc etc etc etc…….

I think HollaBack’s idea of the women taking pictures of the range of guys from pervs down to regular guys just trying to meet a woman he finds attractive is a good idea, although a dangerous one, for obvious reasons that I won’t bother to go into. Apparently they also give speeches and have other programs that they do. I think that’s great, because increasing education and awareness is key, IMO. They’re never going to outlaw guys trying to talk to girls… That’s just not going to happen. Society’s set up so that guys have to chase girls, period. That’s why guys court women and take them out to dinner and buy them drinks at the club, etc etc. It’s all an attempt to gain favor with her so he can eventually get whatever it is he wants from her… sex, a relationship, free food, a place to stay, money, whatever. Biologically, women are more of a commodity than men, simply by the incredible difference between how much sperm men have and continually create, and how few eggs women are born with and then they don’t get any more. It’s never going to be different, so the best bet is to increase awareness that women feel endangered when guys press up on them in the street.

So… With my new understanding of what the issues are for women being harassed in the street, I decided to take a walk tonight and pay attention to the interactions I had. I walked to a bar without incident. The male “doorman” checked my ID without incident. The female hostess greeted me without incident. I ordered my beer from the male bartender without incident. The few people that needed to get by where I was standing, some male and some female, excused themselves, I made way for them and they went by without extraneous comments. I left the bar without incident. I walked around the neighborhood some more, passing individuals, couples walking together and groups… no incident. I went into Barnes & Noble. I asked a woman there with a laptop if she was using a wireless connection. She wasn’t. I asked this guy behind the counter if B&N had wifi, he said yes, and got me a pamphlet on it. I thanked him and left. I ordered food from a female cashier and didn’t hear any extraneous remarks from her or from the waitress that was hanging out near the front of the place. I went to another store, then walked back home without incident.

Just about every one of those situations is mentioned in a story by some woman on those HollaBack sites, and I’m sure whatever other support groups that were created for this kind of thing. I can’t imagine how annoyed I’d be if every time I went to do something, someone tried to strike up a conversation with me or get something from me. For me, it would be like bums standing in front of every place that I want to go into and always asking me for change! πŸ˜€ Still, I can’t fully “get it”, because my aggressive nature makes me see situations like that as a challenge, not something intimidating. I don’t feel pressure… I just feel annoyed.

Anyway… Good luck to the HollaBack Girls. Some of the guys on those pages are legitimate creeps and need to be prosecuted. A lot of the guys are just “boys being boys”, and I can tell you, as one of the boys, a lot of them just don’t get it as far how the women feel physically intimidated by their street raps. A lot of guys aren’t going to care one way or the other, and they’re going to enjoy women as they see fit. I think that there are also a lot that would change their ways of being if they received some sort of education that what they consider flirtation and socialization is seen by many women as harassment and physical intimidation.

HollaBack Girls

So I’m browsing the blip videos, and I see this one called “I holla’ed back”. Having no idea what that meant, I figured it referenced the popular song about Hollaback Girls. πŸ˜€ The whole point of that record was saying that she WASN’T a Hollaback Girl, so I was curious to know why the title of this video indicated that this person DID “holla back”. I won’t spoil the plot of the video… You can go watch it if you’re interested by clicking this link to the original post. I didn’t watch it from the post, I watched it from blip.tv, but you get the actual context in the post. Anyway… I didn’t see any of that background information when I watched the video. I went to her blog to check out the comments, and that’s where I found out what she was talking about in her title.

There’s a network of sites called “HollaBack…..”:

All Holla Backs are independent collectives, in support of the same international mission; they are in no way affiliated with one another unless otherwise noted.

The site that referenced the “I holla’ed back” video was HollaBackBOSTON. When I followed the link, I realized that she had taken the idea of the site to the next level, hahaha πŸ˜€ The idea of HollaBack sites is for women who feel they were harassed to be able to tell their friends and the world about it. Some of them bolster their complaints with snapshots from their cell-phone cameras. This was the next level, because this was an actual LIVE VIDEO of someone going back and confronting her harassers.

It’s really pretty interesting to read what these women have to say about their daily experiences. HollaBackBOSTON has archives going back to May 2006 (6 months). The video was taped in SF, so I figured it was sent to Boston because there was only one site like this. I was thinking… MAN! They could write about this for DAYS in NYC… That’s when I started looking for links and found the list of the rest of these sites, including HollaBackNEWYORKCITY! πŸ˜€ New York’s archives go back to October, 2005! πŸ™‚

This was interesting for a few reasons. One of them was that as I was heading back home from Art Bar a few nights ago, after one train completely ditched us at the platform and never stopped… I was in the middle of a subway car that had some overly-drunk guy on one end of it with a couple of guys and a girl with him, trying to keep him quiet and get him to sit down, and a couple of women sitting together at the other end of the car. This guy kept yelling drunk stuff at them, and he was really pretty belligerent. The women acted like they couldn’t hear him. As they were getting off the train, he screams at them “GOOD NIGHT, LADIES!!!” as if he had just been kicking it with them, hahahaha πŸ˜• Obviously, I had my camera on me, but it TOTALLY didn’t occur to me to tape him running his mouth, because A) I didn’t give a damn, and B) I didn’t find it interesting and couldn’t figure out who MIGHT think it was interesting. Now I know… hahahaha πŸ˜€

The other reason it was interesting was that I felt like this girl on the subway took a picture of me with her phone. πŸ™‚ I really didn’t think anything about it, because there are always Paparazzi… “those damned Paparazzi! :D” This is New York City, tourists and cameras all over the place. There’s always someone trying to take a picture of someone else.

Anyway, I find this stuff entertaining, because it’s the kind of thing that women never bring up in front of guys… they only tell other women. It’s interesting to see their perception of random guys trying to get sex from them, having just seen them for the first time in life a few seconds ago, or staring at their bodies or hissing at them or committing egregious indecent exposure or worse. I’m sure that from most of the guys’ sides of things, if they mentioned the situation at all, all they had to say was “Yo… there was this fine [chick] at the bus stop… MAN! You should have seeeeeen her ass! :D” and that was the end of the entire conversation.

Myriad Genders

As I was wasting my day, I stumbled into Yahoo 360. I’m not sure how I got there. I think I was browsing MyBlogLog and one of the members in my contact list had a Yahoo 360 page, and when I clicked on it, I found out that I had a Yahoo account, but not a Yahoo 360 account. I figured this was similar to having an XBOX but not having an XBOX 360, so I joined up right quick. It’s a simple process, and your avatar transfers automatically.

ummmmmmmm…..

So now what do I do with this? Apparently, from the home page, there’s a page to get you to the news, there are pages so you can set up your profile and check your mail, and then there’s “search”. That’s it…. When you go to search, you can either search people by location and age, or you can search people or feeds by key words. From there, you can read stuff and invite people to your friends list. oh… There’s also a list that someone creates for you called “Interesting Pages on Yahoo 360″… Interesting to whom? Who chose this stuff? I’m not seeing the 360-ness of this aspect of Yahoo.

If you go back to regular Yahoo, there’s a bunch of stuff on the main page. I decided I needed to see what other people found so interesting about 360, so I googled “benefit of yahoo 360”. I got a lot of pages of people that weren’t getting any benefit from it at all. Three pages into the google listings, I spied “dykes do digital”, so you KNOOOOWWWWW I had to click on THAT! πŸ˜€

http://www.dykesdodigital.org/yahoo-360-mandatory-binary-gender-choice-sucks/

“… I’m REALLY REALLY disappointed that I have to a) choose male or female as a gender and b) I have no choice about making it public or not.. it’s mandatory that the bit is made public, and searchable.

It stinks.

At the very minimum, I should be able to choose whether I want that info public or not. Better: I could tag my gender, or at least get a text box. Something. Throw us people of complexity a bone here. And, in the best of all possible worlds, *I wouldn’t have to be asked in the first place because no one would give a crap* in some sort of ridiculous institutional put-people-in-boxes sort of way because we feel the need to LOCK DOWN and CONTROL every bit of stray METADATA we think might be appropriate. I love metadata, too. But not when used against people, to fix them down and gloss over things that are really, really important and complex, like how you feel about your gender. In case anyone has been living under a rock since the dawn of time: GENDER IS A COMPLEX, PROBLEMATIC ISSUE. Complicated by the vast long history of sexism, culture, sociology, biology, technology, politics.

You can’t just collapse all of that INTO A LITTLE CHECKBOX.

Okay, I’ve had my tirade, now, thanks. ;)”

Hmm… The title of “her” post was “Yahoo 360 mandatory binary gender choice sucks”. So I needed to go look up “gender”. πŸ˜€

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender

So now, things start to get ‘interesting’. “She” was complaining that there was a binary (meaning only two) choice for gender. That would make Male (1) and Female (2). ummmmmm….. How many more genders does she want? What’s she expecting the distinctions to be? Or perhaps her idea is for there to be no distinctions at all. You can just be whatever you feel like being, whenever you feel like being it. Like… if someone engages you in conversation, instead of not declaring a gender at all, you get to say “I’m vague, thank you” or “I’m ambiguous” or “Is it Tuesday? I’m kind of a chick on Tuesdays… but not really”. I suppose if someone walks up to you and accuses you of being a human, you’d like to be able to say you’re a beetle… or perhaps a cow. So I read on to see what wikipedia had to say.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender

“Since the 1950s, the term gender has been increasingly used to distinguish a social role (gender role) and/or personal identity (gender identity) distinct from biological sex. Sexologist John Money wrote in 1955, ‘The term gender role is used to signify all those things that a person says or does to disclose himself or herself as having the status of boy or man, girl or woman, respectively. It includes, but is not restricted to, sexuality in the sense of eroticism.’[5] Elements of such a role include clothing, speech patterns, movement and other factors not solely limited to biological sex.”

Disclose himself or herself as having the status of boy, man, girl or woman? So, if a guy decides to “disclose himself as a girl”, that’s supposed to make him a girl and there’s supposed to be a gender choice on Yahoo 360 for “guys that disclose themselves as girls”? πŸ˜•

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender

“Many societies categorize all individuals as either male or female.. however, this is not universal. Some societies recognise a third gender[6].. for instance, Native American Two-Spirit people, and hijras of India and Pakistan[7].. or even a fourth[8] or fifth.[9] Such categories may be an intermediate state between male and female, a state of sexlessness, or a distinct gender not dependent on male and female gender roles. Joan Roughgarden argues that in some non-human animal species, there can also be said to be more than two genders, in that there might be multiple templates for behavior available to individual organisms with a given biological sex.[10]
There is debate over to what extent gender is a social construct and to what extent it is a biological construct. One point of view in the debate is social constructionism, which suggests that gender is entirely a social construct. Contrary to social constructionism is essentialism which suggests that it is entirely a biological construct. Others’ opinions on the subject lie somewhere in between.
Some gender associations are changing as society changes, yet much controversy exists over the extent to which gender roles are simply stereotypes, arbitrary social constructions, or natural innate differences.”

How interesting is THAT? Maybe she’s onto something! πŸ˜€

side note: I’m going to have to get back to that “Native American Two-Spirit people” idea…..

So, let’s say Yahoo 360 is released in India… People there should be complaining that there are only two divisions as well. Do you get the extra genders if you register in India?!?! πŸ˜€ hehehe Maybe she should make a foreign account and see what happens.

While we’re at it… Where’s the part where we get to declare that we have several wives? Shouldn’t the sultans be up in arms about this? How come we can’t go on Match.com and declare that we have 8 wives and are looking to date? πŸ˜€ All we get to put is stuff like “married” “single” “in a relationship”… Isn’t this as bad as *ONLY* having Male and Female to choose from in gender selection? :O Where’s the selection for “I’m screwing several chicks right now, and I’m looking for more women that want to get with this program?” hahahaha

Well… I’m off to research how gender is a social construct and learn about the Two-Spirit people! πŸ˜€

Destiny? Fate? Meaningless Coincidence?

So I get on a bus, today. I normally don’t get on buses, but I decided to try one today. Not just any bus, but a bus going out of state. Not like a public bus or something. I get my ticket at the bus terminal and walk to the waiting area. I get in line behind this girl/woman/young lady, whatever your favorite term is. She’s relatively attractive. I don’t know that that has anything to do with the topic other than that’s the reason I noticed her in the first place. I don’t know that that’s not the ONLY reason I’m blogging this. πŸ˜€ So the bus comes, and we’re going to the same stop. It was an express bus, so I suppose EVERYONE was going to the same stop… or maybe they weren’t… maybe there were “points beyond” that that bus was going to. I call for my ride to pick me up, and she goes about her business. Meanwhile, I’m wondering to myself what the odds are that I’m going to see her on the way back “home” (at least for me).

Amongst others, I meet up with someone that took an earlier bus from NYC. I decide to leave my plans for going back home up to whenever he decides he’s leaving. That’s not exactly a fair statement. I should say that I was working with him today, so I definitely wasn’t coming back to NYC BEFORE he was… there was just nothing saying that I had to leave when he did.

Anyway… I leave it up to him, and when he’s ready to head back, I get ready to go. Our ride has to pass by Fedex, so we end up going for the 8:30pm bus instead of the 8:00pm bus. We get dropped off, and as we’re waiting for the bus, the same chick is dropped off @ the Park N Ride by her father (which I could tell because of their conversation). So now, the question has changed from “what are the odds that we will come back together on the same bus, when there’s a bus that runs every 30 minutes from the center of the universe (New York City) to some town in the sticks in Jersey” to “What’s going on here? Destiny? Fate? Meaningless Coincidence?”

It’s true that the odds were relatively good that I would come back on the same bus she did… at least, compared to other modes of transportation like New York Subways, where you can take several different lines, or you can take buses, or you can catch a cab, or you can walk. Between 10:30am and 8:30pm, there are 20 buses, but you can cut that number in less than half, considering I wouldn’t expect someone to take a bus to Jersey just for a couple of hours, then go back home. So let’s say the odds were 1 in 6.

For someone to believe that it was Destiny or perhaps Fate that caused you to run into someone twice in the same day, you’d have to believe there was a plan or someone/something pushing you in a certain direction, and also pushing the other person. Then again, you’re not supposed to be able to escape “destiny”, so what exactly WAS your destiny in that situation? Just to be there on that day, on that time? Your actions still come down to Free Will, so even when put in a situation of potential Destiny, what happens still comes down to what you choose to do, or what’s chosen for you.

Maybe it’s not a plan, but a suggestion from ‘the powers that be’. Then again… maybe it’s Meaningless Coincidence. If it’s a suggestion, and you don’t recognize or act on that suggestion, you miss out on something potentially great for you… IF the power suggesting this to you had your best interests in mind! πŸ˜€ Similarly, if it’s Meaningless Coincidence, and you act like it’s something special, you could overreact to ‘nothing’.

So I’m thinking about this on the subway ride home from Port Authority. What just happened? Did ANYTHING happen? DOES anything EVER happen? Is it all Meaningless Coincidence?…..

I leave the subway and walk home… just in time to meet a new chick simultaneously entering my building. πŸ˜€ She’s fun, friendly and attractive, and as we bid each other ‘good night’ as I leave the elevator, I’m glad that I didn’t stop to meet the first chick, because I would have missed the second one! πŸ˜‰

Sexism?

A few days ago, I became aware of a… series of comments (because it wasn’t actually a conversation or a debate) that revolved around the reasons someone would choose or hire someone else to be a spokesperson for them. I missed that conversation, entirely, so I’ll just mention my thoughts about it here, and be done with it. Specifically, it pertained to whether a woman should be chosen for the job? and if so, should it be an attractive woman? and if so, should that be the deciding factor in hiring her? To be even more specific, they were looking to hire someone to be on-air talent… not on television, but on the internet. A host of a show. “The Face” of their broadcast.

Anyone could have been chosen to be the host of this show, yet they specifically requested an attractive female. This was called “sexism”. Definition #2 of sexism, according to m-w.com/dictionary/sexism, is “behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex”. Could choosing an attractive female to host a show foster stereotypes of a woman’s social role? Could choosing a more attractive woman who knows nothing about the topic (but is going to be fed her lines anyway, via a script) over a less attractive woman who knows a lot about the topic imply things to the viewers or people that become aware of this situation about the role of a woman in this society or what’s valued about her? I think it says more about the people looking to hire this attractive woman and their target demographic than it says about the woman herself or women in general. What could be the reason that an attractive woman was desired for the position? How about RATINGS? πŸ˜€

How about if one of the reasons… if not the ONLY reason to put on the show was to get viewers? How about if they knew that they would get MORE viewers to tune in with an attractive female spokesperson than an unattractive female or a male? What’s their incentive to go with decidedly less effective ‘bait’ when they’re fishing for viewers? Where’s the ROI?

On top of all that, it’s not like they were trying to hire her for some kind of intellectual show
like “On The Record w/ Greta Van Susteren”. πŸ˜€

All this new spokesperson has to do is study some simple introductory lines or read them from a teleprompter. She’s there to wave and smile and look good and ATTRACT viewers to watch the show, which benefits the guys that were looking to hire her in the first place. Mission accomplished. If you’re trying to do a show about lawyers, and you hire a woman that looks good and is NOT and never WAS a lawyer, you’re a fool. If you want someone to turn letters on a game show, there’s no need to hire a lawyer. πŸ™‚

What does that say for the _content_ of a show that needs eye-candy to get viewers? hehehehe… well…… πŸ™‚

However, like I said… I think it says more about the show and the show’s demographics than it says about women. If the show’s topic is appealing to men, then putting an attractive woman in the spotlight is only going to benefit you. Look at Harlequin….


They’re selling fantasies to women. Does Harlequin hire busted-looking, out-of-shape, unsuccessful-looking ‘Joe Average’s to model for the covers of their novels for women? NOPE! πŸ˜€ You know why? Because fewer women would BUY.THE.BOOK. They’re better off using covers that don’t imply anything about the guy’s looks at all than they are using a cover that defines the protagonist as visually unattractive.

That’s not to say that I don’t see the other side of the ‘argument’. Television’s filled with uncommonly attractive people, percentage-wise. Most places you go, people don’t actually look like that. πŸ˜€ I understand that a lot of girls and women feel pressure to attempt to make themselves look like models because they think models are the definition of good-looking, when, in fact, models are models because they fit the ONE.SIZE.OF.THE.DRESS that the designer made for the show. They hire models to fit clothes… they DON’T make the clothes to fit the models. I understand the reasons that women want to ‘fight the power’ and get more unattractive women into on-air-talent positions. However… what they’re missing is that the woman wasn’t being sought because she was a woman. They were looking for someone that would have been attractive to their target demographic… MEN. If you take away the desire to hire someone attractive, that doesn’t mean that the unattractive woman has a chance at all. She’s on the same level (if not lower) than a man now, because neither the man nor the unattractive woman is going to add to the show’s ratings. Unfortunately, even fighting the power doesn’t mean a win for the unattractive woman… it’s merely a loss for the attractive woman. And, yes… I’m aware that I’m using terms that relate to _visual_ attractiveness, because that’s the line that was drawn in this particular case.

Do I think this situation was sexist? No. It would have been sexist if what the new employee looked like wouldn’t have mattered at all to their ratings. If they were hiring a video editor, who was never going to be seen on the broadcast, choosing a more attractive and less qualified woman would have been a sexist decision, benefitting the men in the company that would rather walk in the editing suite and see an attractive woman, and hurting the bottom line, since she would be less effective at getting the job done than the less attractive woman. In the case of hiring on-air talent for a mindless hostess position, go for the gusto. Get all the ratings you can, because that’s where you’re going to get viewers, fame, advertisers, more work… whatever. If you need the new hire to actually DO SOMETHING, go with the most qualified person in the best interests of your business.

Like I said, I missed the boat on this conversation, but it ended with ZERO resolution, whatsoever. Each camp rallied around their respective positions, and no solutions came up that might have gotten a less attractive, yet more qualified female the job. In this case, its absolutely right what the women were saying, that her personality wasn’t being showcased and that she was chosen for her looks instead of her ideas and thoughts. “Someone” also said something that I found interesting and true. One of the arguments from the “good looks” side was that “sex sells”. Her response was that it wasn’t actually sex that was “selling”… it was how attractive the woman looked. I think she’s absolutely right. I don’t think a more sexual or sensual, yet visually unattractive woman would have stood a chance of being hired for this position, because she still wouldn’t have helped the ratings.

What never came up in the conversation is Human nature. Regardless of the technology, it’s still people on the other end of the line. Attractive people get more ‘stuff’ in this world. That’s how it is. Every time there’s a scientific study done, those are the results. All other things being equal, attractiveness wins the position. Even when things AREN’T equal, attractiveness wins the position. It’s valiant and respectable to fight the good fight, but until the society changes to the point where the viewers don’t care what the host / hostess / romance novel cover model looks like, their visual or physical attractiveness is going to be a tool to use to bait viewers into watching something they otherwise wouldn’t even consider taking a FIRST look at.