4/21/13

A wink as harassment? Teaching lions to become vegetarians


1) A few days ago when I was on the subway in Seoul, I was so tempted to take a photo. All of the people seated in a row of seats? Males. Everyone standing up? Females.

I typically stand up on the subway so I will be positioned to hop off. Those rare times I sit, I have noticed that when I do stand up, a Korean male will quickly scurry to claim the seat. Guys, it is polite to allow a lady to sit--even if you don't want to give up your seat, at least you don't have to elbow a woman out of the way to claim a seat.

But I have changed my mind. 

2) I want to apologize to those Korean guys I have complained about.  

Eun-jung Chung has come into my life. She just wrote an incoherent commentary in the Korea Times complaining about some expat businessmen winking at her. I think that is her point, please excuse me for not being able to differentiate between garbage and trash. 

She says she responded to the expat with a middle finger.
 
Dear reader, you won't hurt my feelings by explaining to me what in the hell was her point, why it is important--and why anyone besides her friends, family, and work colleagues needed to know it. Of course, Korean males who stand on the subway aren't thinking about her when they continue sitting on the subway. I will be, however. 

If she complains about a man winking at her then she is likely to complain about other things men do. Smiling at her? Asking her to sit on the subway?

3) My first thought was that she is out of her mind. But it may just be that she is a lousy writer and thinker.

4) I was a graduate student the first time I heard about something called "lookism." I first burst out laughing, then ridiculed it, but knew it was an important moment. One thing I have learned over the years--once someone comes up with an idea or policy then it will never disappear. It may be ridiculed at first, but other people will start to believe in it, and at some point it will even enter the mainstream. It doesn't matter how many people get slaughtered by socialists, there will always be socialists plaguing humanity.

5) Back when I was a student participating in a "take back the night" workshop, I said two things that almost turned the workshop into a riot. The first is so controversial that I won't talk about it now, but the second one also got the people at the workshop upset: Not only do men need to be taught to respect the individual space of women, but women also need to be taught to respect the individual space of women. Women need to claim ownership of their bodies--and not just when they are chanting at a pro-choice abortion rally.

Telling women they are responsible for protecting themselves didn't go over very well. I see posters saying that a woman isn't asking for rape because of the way she is dressed. I absolutely agree and have made this point to guys ("Even if she wants 'play rape' or 'real rape," that doesn't mean she wants your ugly ass to do it.") So I get that.

The problem? All of the advice, the focus of the conversation, is addressed to men. That is like having a seminar teaching lions not to eat deer. I agree, but as I tried to argue at that workshop, aren't there also some lessons that women need to hear?

So many of the sexual assaults in America (and probably other countries) are against women younger than 30 years of age. Inexcusable, but it makes sense that it happens more often among younger people. Those are prime dating years, years in which eager and horny young men and women are figuring out who they will be, are going to drinking parties. Some of them may even wink at each other. Yes, let's teach the lions not to eat the deer, but aren't there some lessons to teach the deer?

6) Okay, I'm just kidding. I will still offer a seat to women. One excuse is that I was born and raised in Texas where it was considered polite. A second excuse is that any of those women could be going through that time of the month and may appreciate sitting instead of standing. Third...well, it just seems nice to be considerate of women.

Damn you, Eun-jung Chung, for making me cynical about this. I try to remember to do what I think is the right thing, even when some sophisticated person tries to argue me out of it. Despite your best effort, Ms. Chung, to make me cynical about women, I will still try to be a gentleman. Chivalry may not be dead, but it is dying--and feminists are helping to kill it off.

7) Dear Eun-jung Chung,





Regards,

Casey Lartigue, Jr.

And her response?










A wink and a smile by Harry Connick Jr., dedicated to Ms. Chung



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