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Another Humorless Feminist – I am not Your Pet, Women, and Lies

June 12, 2008

There really are some things of little immediate consequence that I find terribly unfunny, and I think are worth addressing.

First, the “buy and sell your friends” applications in Facebook and MySpace. It really rubs me the wrong way to receive a notification that “Some a-hole bought you as a pet.” When I saw the post at random babble on this, I found out that I’m not alone in my uneasiness. There are real people being bought and sold all over the world, including in the United States. There are real women and men and children being trafficked and enslaved. I don’t find it cute or funny to pretend to buy one another as “pets.”* I am not the least bit interested in some phony estimation of your worth or mine in U.S. dollars. I am even less interested in normalizing and trivializing the idea of people being bought and sold.

There are people I like a great deal from whom I have received these notifications. Yes, I know, “it’s just a game,” or “it’s just for fun,” or whatever. As ouyangdan wrote for Shakesville:

The reason why Friends For Sale isn’t amusing is because the actual sale of real human beings is affecting real people all over the world, and in our very own backyards who don’t have the privilege of seeing it as “just a game.” For some people there isn’t the amusement of pretending to buy and sell people or the sheer thrill of seeing how much people are willing to spend to make them their “pets.” They already know how much someone is willing to pay to force them into sex, or to have them torn away from their families and sold into farm labor or slavery in the US or Canada or Western Europe or anywhere else. They already know what the value of their lives is in dollars.

I couldn’t have said it better, and you need to read her whole post.

Second, it has been suggested that the woman mentioned in the recent post about breastfeeding in a Florida restaurant made up or embellished the story for attention-getting purposes. Supposedly, there is video from the restaurant proving that her account is not accurate, although I have not seen this evidence (it is similarly unvetted). I mentioned in the initial post that the story had not yet been properly vetted, but was a good reminder to managers to make sure they and their employees were aware of existing laws that protect breastfeeding in public. Similarly, I do not know whether or not the allegations that the story is phony are true, but would like to encourage everyone to avoid making up this sort of thing because it hurts other women everywhere. More importantly, though, I’d like to point out that knowing of a woman who may have exaggerated her story should not make all women suspect when reporting violations of their rights.

Look, there’s no shortage of people assuming that when a woman complains of a violation of her rights or body that she is simply making it up or imagining a problem. His word versus hers. There are people who believe that because some women are unfaithful, and might bear some children with men other than their husbands, and some of those husbands might eventually want out of child support, that the government should mandate genetic paternity testing of all children at birth. There are people who will argue that a woman who goes out for a drink should have expected to maybe be raped. There are plenty of women who don’t report sexual assault because they don’t want their entire sexual history made public record, and don’t believe that anyone might possibly believe that it wasn’t their fault.

These are just off the top of my head – there are any number of liberties that need protection, and any number of people predisposed to believe that women are lying when they report that these liberties have been violated. When women invent or embellish incidences of violation, it can add to the problem of women automatically being suspect when these issues are raised. Most importantly, though, let’s try to remember that knowing of a past incident when a woman was found not to be truthful does not mean that all women are liars, or that the default assumption should be that any woman’s liberties were not violated when she reports that they were.

*[Leaving aside that I don’t think pets should be bought in the first place, but should be adopted.]

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Meg permalink
    June 12, 2008 8:22 pm

    I saw the picture of the woman breastfeeding on the forum and “discrete” is not a word I think she should have used. If she had a button up shirt it would have been fine, but the women had her entire breast outside her shirt. I’m not surprised that they asked her to cover up. Whether or not her story is truthful and her credibility shouldn’t matter since she does feel her rights were violated. But I hope the server and the restaurant use that picture to build a case for public nudity and indecent exposure.

  2. Meg permalink
    June 13, 2008 1:18 am

    Oh I also wanted to post this.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/06/12/national/a120520D84.DTL

    Because it goes to show how laws can overlap.

  3. June 13, 2008 6:33 am

    Meg, the laws on breastfeeding in many states specifically exempt breastfeeding from public indecency/exposure laws, and, if you look at the state law or the portion I excerpted in the previous post, explicitly make clear that it is permitted regardless of nipple exposure.

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