In the comments to PUA Travesty on Kickstarter a reader pointed me to a two part series of blog posts by some porn starlet named Stoya, in which she describes some of the examples of sexual harassment she has had to endure. Partly, she claimed this is due to her "taking off her clothes for a living", but of course mainly you've got to blame all those male sexist pigs who make advances. Alek Novy did a good job pointing out Stoya's hypocrisy, but let's go through it methodologically, before arriving at a possibly surprising conclusion. It should be surprising for feminists, at least.
First, Stoya lumps all unwelcome encounters of a sexual nature together. Some guy trying to shove his fingers up her cooch and some other dude squeezing her ass in the context of porn conventions is seen as "absolutely nothing, NOTHING" compared to the pain it causes a delicate flower like her to just walk down the street. Now, please note that I don't intent to trivialize sexual harassment, I mean, real sexual harassment, like guys forcing themselves upon girls, grabbing their ass and the like (and of course this also includes the many women who dared to pinch my ass in night clubs). Then again, since girls do that too, a reasonable argument could be made that this is part of human dating behavior, and only once force comes in, people clearly overstep a line.
However, look at what kind of actions overstep a line according to "International Porn Superstar Stoya(tm)", with commentary:
- "followed me down the street" (just walking after her and presumably not for more than a few steps)
- "poking me" (presumably playfully)
- "grabbed the cord to my headphones and ripped them out of my ears" (more like taking them with thumb and index finger and playfully pulling on the cord; still, normally too invasive)
- "grabbed parts of my body" (no, not okay)
- "grabbed my coat or purse strap" (seriously, Stoya, they didn't try to rob you but only wanted you to acknowledge their presence)
- "blocked me into corners on mostly empty subway cars" (sounds bullshitty to me. You can always walk away.)
- "followed me for blocks and then stood outside whatever shop I duck into for absurd amounts of time" (stalker, not okay)
- "say I have a sweet ass, nice tits" (hmm, probably wasn't an "opener", and probably many of the guys who've fucked her outside her job said the same things to her)
- "say I have a real pretty dress" (oh, the horror!)
- "ask if they can get my number" (note: only counts as "street harassment if she's not into you)
- "ask where I live" (hmm, not so odd either)
- "ask why I’m not smiling" (could even be an okay conversation starter when the girl acts bitchy)
- "ask why my boyfriend lets me walk around by myself" (ever heard of flirting?)
- "Then they ask why I’m such a bitch, if my pussy is made of ice."
Please note that --- apart from the bolded items --- all of this would have been perfectly welcome if (!) the guy would have happened to be her type. Heck, if some rockstar greeted the groupie who is eager to spread her legs for him, "You've got nice tits!", then she's be very excited about it.
Also, note that Stoya makes it sound as if she has to go through this entire ordeal with every single guy who approached her and whom she didn't fancy. They stalk her, grab her ass, ask her all kinds of questions, and at the very end, they tell her that she's a bitch. Imagine the absurdity: here's Stoya, standing there, not reacting at all, and there is the guy who does all those things, and eventually he asks, and even that is quite humorously, whether her pussy was made of ice. Is it just me or is there a big part of the story missing? Seriously, how do you get from a guy saying, "hey, nice dress" and moving on because you're not interested, to standing there for minutes, having your ass and tits grabbed, and being told that you're a bitch!? Something clearly doesn't compute here.
Then, there is the problem of lumping all kinds of incidences together. Yes, some clearly are examples of sexual harassment. Others, though, not so much. However, Stoya wants you to feel enraged at all those monsters who attack and suppress women all day, every day. She does this by widening the concept of "sexual harassment", and includes basically any kind of attention of any man who just had the misfortune of not being her type. Really, being told that your dress is pretty constitutes sexual harassment Smile and move on, girl, or just move on.
The problem, though, is that labeling everything, even normal flirtatious behavior, as sexual harassment, people just take feminists less seriously. Do you know this one saying about fame, and why not everybody can be famous: "If we're all famous, then no one is."? It's the same with sexual harassment. If any interaction between man and woman is supposed to be sexual harassment, then the concept loses all meaning. Of course, this has been happening already. I'm not sure this is the consequence feminists had imagined, though.
As an amusing coda to this article, let me quote from Stoya's second post on "street harassment":
Teach every moldable male mind (brothers, friends, sons) that treating women (humans) with respect is the right thing to do. Don’t have sex with jerks. Don’t blow them, don’t give them a handjob, don’t give them your phone number.To me, this doesn't really make sense, to be honest. But, dear women, you have sex with "jerks", blow them, and give them hand jobs. All presumably because you want to. Yet, you want your brothers, friends, and sons to pussyfoot around women and be completely asexual? Aren't the real "jerks" those who harass you in the streets, and not those who did the same, you happened to fancy them and then blew and fucked them? Please excuse me, I've got to read some Saul Kripke now. Stoya's "logic" just makes my head spin.
What's your opinion? Let me know in the comments below!