Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pretty and Jaded

If you're attractive, you're bound to receive a lot of attention. Some of it will be positive attention, and some of it will, inevitably, be negative attention. The important thing is not to use the presence of negative attention as if it were proof that everyone who gives you attention has the same thing in mind. And while it may be true that receiving less attention would reduce the negative attention you receive, it's still not fair to treat everyone who gives you any of that attention as if they were one of the bad ones.

If one guy who told you you were pretty decided to stalk you, it doesn't mean that the next guy who tells you you're pretty will follow the same pattern. And if one stalker decides to try to rape you, it doesn't mean another stalker has the same intentions. It doesn't mean you shouldn't protect yourself, but it doesn't help to view everyone who gives you attention as a live threat. Treat the attempted rapist as an attempted rapist. Treat the stalker as a stalker. And treat the kind gentleman who just gave you a compliment as a kind gentleman who just gave you a compliment, not as if he were attempting to rape you.

Just because bad people do bad things in the name of sex, doesn't mean it's a good idea to punish good people for wanting to do good things in the name of sex. What bad people do doesn't make sex bad. It makes bad sex bad. But bad sex is already bad, and there's such a thing as good sex. Just because somebody shows evidence of an attraction, does not prove that they are one and the same as the back alley rapist. The whole thrust of my argument is that we shouldn't punish good people for the things that bad people do. And telling a good person not to like sex, or that he's bad for liking sex, or just for admitting it openly, is not good. For you or him or any of us in this society.

One comment I see in flickr profiles a lot is "if you have ANY pornography in your photostream or favorites, I WILL block you". But this just propagates the stereotype of people who like pornography. Like as if, just because I have a few pornographic pictures in my photostream, it means I'm not the kind of person you'd like to get to know. Even if the majority of people who are "okay with pornography" are annoying and offensive and disgusting, it doesn't mean every one is - and why not criticize the behavior rather than the pornography? Instead, you could say, "if you are annoying or offensive or disgusting to me, I WILL block you." That would be far more reasonable.

I understand that some people might just be opposed to pornography on a level that they can't stand dealing with people who are okay with it. Although I don't really respect that approach, because I've made friends with people who do all sorts of things I don't agree with. Unlike most people, I believe we should live and let live, and let people have their interests so long as they're not hurting me (or others). And no, pornography doesn't hurt anyone just by virtue of being pornography (the fact that some people might use pornography to hurt people doesn't change the fact that I don't hurt anyone with my pornography). But the funny thing is, on flickr, there are content filters so that people who don't like pornography don't have to see it. So how do you even know if somebody has pornography on their photostream, unless you're going out of your way to look for it?

It just bugs me because when I see a comment like that, I identify with the type being told off, even if I don't really belong in the group - but for certain superficial qualities, like having pornography (even if I don't act like your typical single-minded drooling pervert). But, those superficial qualities are enough for lots of people - they see a pornographic picture, and they dive for the bushes. And I'd hate to take on the duplicitous approach of having to tell myself (and others), "well, okay, this person doesn't like anyone who has pornography, and I have pornography, but I'm not included because I'm different from most people who have pornography." I guess it's a matter of taking these statements in the spirit they're intended, rather than the letter. But that bothers me - I believe that you should say what you mean, and mean what you say. And anyway, if I were to take on the approach of not treating myself like I have anything to do with pornography in spirit, then things just get more confusing, because people will argue that what I do is pornographic, and then how do I defend myself? Am I supposed to just say, "well, it's not technically pornography because I don't fit the social profile of a pornographer"?

The point is that a style of picture doesn't dictate whether a person is good or bad company. And it really bugs me that I see so many people discriminating on that account. Are you one of them? I guess you would also assume that just because I took (and liked) a picture like this:

...that means I don't have the intelligence to write an insightful post like this one.


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