This is just a post full of shameless feminist fangirling about machineplay on LJ.
You may have heard by now about the Heinlein-lovin’ dude who thinks he invented objectification and groping at Penguicon, and who stormed out of his con into the world to spread the word. theferret’s original post is here.
Edit 24 Apr 2008: I’ve added a blog roundup here.
In short, he and his buddies drummed up a scheme at a con whereby women who were happy to have men march up to them and ask “Can I feel your tits?” wore a green button, and women who weren’t wore a red button. “Beautiful”, “simple”, “miraculous”, and “magic”, he gushes.
But tell me if this doesn’t just make you want to hurl and hit things:
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.
I won’t rant at length, however, because Machineplay sums up so, so much better than I could:
I’m tired of the assertion that this is opt-in, because it’s NOT. Not fundamentally. Everyone is participating because everyone there has a body. I can’t opt out of my boobs. I can’t opt out of people making a value judgment about me when they see I’m not wearing a button, even if I never knew about it when I got there. Having your breasts touched is optional — WHAT A NOVEL IDEA. Being ranked as ‘unwilling to play along’ is not optional. I wear a red button every day, basically, and not only am I not PROUD of it, I’m really fucking tired of having to put it on and living in a world full of the colour-blind.
further energy I wasted on this:
If it were “Can I hug you?” or “Can I touch you?” in general, that would be one thing. One could then enter into negotiations of where touching was acceptable. But this is solely about “Can I touch your breasts?” Can I grab the Cosmic Titty? Can I cry on your shoulder about how no one understands that I’m really a Nice Guy TM? Can I get over the pain of an abusive society by groping you?
This whole thing is framed and executed so incredibly badly, I can’t even begin to entertain it as valid activism. Why didn’t women get Green for “I have autonomy over this space, don’t even ask to touch me.” and Red for “I’m ready for contact.”? It’s framed totally from the possessor’s point of view. Green, go ahead, means ‘I can possess this’ and Red, stop, means ‘I can’t’. It automatically puts the weight, as always, of denial or submission of on the subject of the question.
Why would you even need to make a button for “Don’t ask me if you can grab my breasts.”? It shows a silent acknowledgment that the default is not the woman having the right not to be addressed as simply a bearer of a pair of tits. If you want to go around wearing a button that says, “Ask me if you can grab my breasts!” that’s one thing. But to even dream up a RED LETTER for ‘non-participating’ women is completely ludicrous.
Anything that distills women down to their breasts is simply never going to be anything but vile to me. This is totally different from “please, enter my personal space and commune with me”. This is not breaking down any barriers to women being seen as humans and not breast-bearers. This is not just a step backwards, this is throwing one’s self down the stairs.
Yeah. Machineplay? You’re awesome.