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I rarely rant on LJ. I mostly use it to keep up with friends and occasionally post notes about my life or invites to various events. But the current BoobGate mess that has taken over my friendslist has triggered me to rant. I've been ranting in responses to the original post now locked, and in various friends' LJs (sorry [livejournal.com profile] cynthia1960).

Because this is one of those issues that somehow men don't seem to understand. Not even men who are otherwise feminist.

I'm going to speak only for myself, and from my experience. Feel free to chime in in agreement, or disagreement.

When you get boobs, it's one of those defining moments for a lot of girls. You change from being "just one of the guys" and looking quite like your male friends, to being a "girl" and an object of... well, objectification. Almost every woman I've talked to remembers when she got boobs. I got them relatively late, but they kept going. Even when I was wearing a 34" band, my cupsize was in the multiple letters. Yeah, as a 15-year old this meant I got a lot of comments, a lot of attempts at groping, and general obnoxiousness. I'm still disproportionate, but now that I'm this heavy it's not as obvious. When I was 15 I was quite athletic and did competitive swimming as well as martial arts.

Now I'm fairly intimidating, 5'9" with broad shoulders, and heavy to boot. And I still occasionally encounter inappropriate comments and touching. I still have quite a few men talk directly to the boobs. And I am still evaluated by my body and looks. Ok, so that's the baseline where I'm coming from.

The experiment itself crossed the line for me twice. First, I was pretty bothered by this part in the original post: Because a beautiful girl in an incredibly skimpy blue Princess outfit strode down the hallway, obviously putting her assets on display (the thin strips of her clothing had to be taped to her body to stay on), and we stopped her. "Excuse me," the first, very brave girl asked. "You're very beautiful. I'd like to touch your breasts. Would you mind if I did?"

I read this and I hear the traditional line, "she was asking for it." She was dressed skimpily so sexual advances were inherently acceptable, right? This seriously crosses the line for me.

Second, and oddly even more so, I was bothered by this part: 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?"

An event which sets up this type of pressure and discomfort (am I good enough to be a sexual object for this group of people?) makes me twitch. A lot.

I would've been surprised, mostly positively, had a group of women decided to wear the opposite of this shirt. But here, there was obviously pressure. There was the accosting of women who were "asking for it." There was obviously an expectation that the men were evaluating these women's breasts. Are they "good enough"?

Cons might be full of free spirits, but the minute you are starting to judge women's "acceptability" by their body parts, you've excluded them from participating fully in the Con. Yes, there might have been women gropers as well as gropees, but that does not change the set-up. Men do not have the same issues around (1) being touched, and (2) their breasts being used to judge and evaluate them.

So there you are. Rant done.

I must also add as someone who evaluates the validity of open source licenses professionally, this isn't open source. It's not even public domain. At most it's a share-alike license.
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