Thursday, April 24, 2008


"Do You See 'Touch-A-Boobie Foundation' Tattooed On My Forehead?"

As has been stated on multiple occasions on this blog, I am a geek. And, as a geek, I am often defensive of geek culture. Because, let's face it, John Rogers has it right (as he does on so many occasions) when he says that the unwritten laws of the media say that most portrayals of geeks will fall upon the absolute outliers of the subculture, the same way that most gay pride parade coverage includes at least a five-second shot of all the drag queens and virtually zero coverage of the gay police officers. Of course, this has put me in the position of trying to defend geek culture while at the same time trying to distance myself from its excesses and areas where the lack of social understanding really comes through, all while entertaining the paranoid notion that I may be the geek equivalent of the "straight-laced" gay guy who wishes the drag queens would all go away so that we would look better for the straight people.

Still, there's no other way to say it: this Open-Source Boob Project is incredibly stupid, and deserves to be dragged out into the sunlight for ridicule, damn the consequences. For those of you who aren't on LiveJournal and who don't read feminist blogs, the_ferrett, a somewhat popular LJer and webcomic author, was at a con when he and his friends came to a conclusion:

“This should be a better world,” a friend of mine said. “A more honest one, where sex isn’t shameful or degrading. I wish this was the kind of world where say, ‘Wow, I’d like to touch your breasts,’ and people would understand that it’s not a way of reducing you to a set of nipples and ignoring the rest of you, but rather a way of saying that I may not yet know your mind, but your body is beautiful.”

After some female friends agree to the idea, the_ferrett and company try to apply it to total strangers:

And every girl in that hallway was then asked the question: "May I touch your breasts?" They considered, and said yes. And we all did.

Okay, so, just so you got that: the_ferrett and his gaggle of friends approach a girl in a hallway as a group. One member of the group asks the girl, "Is it okay if we touch your tits?" Anyone else remember those little classes from middle school about peer pressure and its effects? But here, the_ferrett cites it as an example of his utopian experiment in action.

But, of course, it must be applied to other cons to gather more gropes data. And how will they do this?

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?"

And if you weren't a total lout - the women retained their right to say no, of course - they would push their chests out, and you would be allowed into the sanctity of it. That exchange of happiness where one person are told with gropes and touches that they are desirable and the other is someone who's allowed to desire.

So... at a convention devoted to geekdom, a place where geeks of both genders and all sexual orientations are ostensibly gathered in some sort of safe place to indulge in their hobbies without repercussions from the hegemony, a situation has now been created where a women must actively designate whether or not she is okay with the concept of being felt up by a man. Instead of enjoying the silent compact that is supposed to exist in our culture where one's body is one's own property to be used as one wishes, and not at the behest of a bunch of horny guys who're still coping with their issues from high school.

Now, I can understand the idea that society's hidebound mores on sexual tendencies have made things horribly awkward for everyone; this was the philosophy on which the "free love" communes of the '60s operated. Unfortunately, philosophy does not equal practice. This guy is talking about introducing into a male-dominated setting a system of action where women are asked, not by an individual, but by a collective of (predominantly) men whether or not they are comfortable being touched in an intimate place. If you can't see the number of ways this can go horribly, horribly wrong, you just aren't trying.

I love a lot of my fellow geeks. I really do. But there are some geeks out there who really need to realize that not everyone digs the utopian love trip you and your friends are on, especially when it comes with the baggage of groupthink.

Post title comes from the inimitable Something Positive

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