The Pinch Problem: Anna’s Take
[Jeff’s take here]
I wasn’t going to write about this. I really wasn’t. If I wrote about every feminist bee in my bonnet I got, you all would stop reading this blog. But right now I have so many EMOTIONS inside of me that I just don’t…. I can’t even… I want to… you know… *sputter* ARGH! The thoughts can hardly form! All I know is that I have a lot of thoughts and emotions about how people are reacting and what people are saying on social media, and writing often helps me put those thoughts in order.
So, fair warning *Feminist Rant Ahead*
There are actually a few things to address in this “pinch-gate”: the fact that Sagan thought it was appropriate to grab the woman’s ass; people’s reactions to the pinch; the whole idea of podium hostesses in the first place.
So why did Sagan grab her ass?
Probably because he’s an immature 23 year old, who appreciates attractive women, and often doesn’t think about how his actions are going to affect others. Does Sagan grabbing her ass make him a bad person? I would say yes and no. No, because he was just an immature kid doing something stupid. While many argue that 23 is old enough to know better, this is a kid who’s spent his whole life in a male dominated sport, surrounded by other males, which often, as we know, causes them to regress back to their teenage years. I would suspect he’s spent very little time around women who are treated with respect- when you rarely see other men treat women with respect, how are you going to learn? On the other hand, it does make him a bad person because 1) it shows a lack of respect for the opposite sex and 2) it’s an indicator of a larger problem in society. But in the end, I can’t condemn him too much, as he’s shown what I believe to be true remorse.
My biggest issue with all of this? The reactions.
Especially the reactions of people who saw no problem with his actions. Now, while I don’t condone his actions, I don’t condemn him either. Don’t think I’m excusing his actions, because I’m not. He made a stupid mistake and should be reprimanded for it, but I believe he meant no harm and his apology is sincere. He recognized he acted badly and feels remorse. So he apologized, as he should have. So what bothers me is all his apologists who are saying things like:
That’s what I have a problem with and that’s what is making me so upset. When those people can’t acknowledge that Sagan did do something inappropriate and should apologize, then I get angry, upset, depressed.
You see, a woman has a right to be able to do her job (whatever that job may be) without wondering if she’s going to get touched in an inappropriate way without her consent. No matter what your job is, whether you’re a consultant, a CEO, a fast food worker, an administrative assistant, or a podium hostess, you should be able to go to work without wondering if someone is going to call you sweet cheeks, stare at your boobs, leer at you, or cop a feel. This type of behavior is called “sexual harassment.” If you’ve ever worked in the US, it’s highly likely you’ve had to take a sexual harassment prevention class. So you know that it’s not about your intentions but how your intentions are interpreted. I’m sure Peter didn’t mean any harm- he was just having a bit of fun! But if the woman whose ass he grabbed does object, then it caused harm. And it causes harm on greater level, because it illustrates to other impressionable males that it is okay to grab a woman’s ass without her consent.
So now a quick word on another type of reaction.
Are you familiar with victim blaming? It’s the act of placing the responsibility of a crime/accident/incident on the person who was on the receiving end of the transgression. So when someone gets raped and the response is “Did you see what she was wearing?? She was totally asking for it!” that’s victim blaming. Or when a podium hostess gets her ass pinched and the response is:
…that’s victim blaming. It doesn’t matter what one is wearing or how one looks, that’s never an invitation to touch, grope, kiss, what-have-you. It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing pasties and a g-string- that doesn’t privileged you certain actions against me. So, when someone says
…that’s unacceptable and helps perpetuate a rape culture. And that, in a nutshell, is what bothered me so much about the whole situation.
And the whole idea of podium hostesses in the first place?
That isn’t something I want to address right now, but quite simply, I see podium hostesses as representing the “spoils” of victory, presented to the winner along with a trophy, champagne and flowers. So yeah, I’d rather this tradition was phased out.
In the end, the biggest issue is how should one react to a situation like this? The way I see it, a good rule of thumb is asking yourself if the woman was your daughter/wife, would you be comfortable with the way she is being treated? Would you think it’s a funny joke then? Or, if it was your husband/son treating women that way, would you proud of him? Think about that the next time you see a situation like this. If you do, then maybe I can start having some hope in humanity again.
[read Jeff’s take here!]