Our Lady of Perpetual Win, patron saint of internet awesomeness, has written a post on a topic I bet is near to the heart of most male geeks, discussing inequality in how relationships are defined before both parties actually get to weigh in on their intentions.
This is the phenomenon in which a (generally young) woman dismisses her behavior around a guy as “Oh, that’s just so-and-so. He’s safe.” It always sounds like it’s meant to be a compliment, but there’s very little like it to bring out the bitter in a guy even decades after the fact. It took explaining the concept of “safe” to the wife of one of these friends for me to really figure out why.
The men aren’t being asked whether they have any sexual interest and whether they’re okay with it being put on hold. They aren’t being asked where the limits of their comfort with the women’s behavior are. They don’t have an option to say, “No,” except by walking away from the situation. These guys might still choose to engage in flirtatious relationships for the fun, but the choice should be theirs every bit as much as it is the women’s. With the unilateral declaration of “safe”-hood, it isn’t.
It’s another one of those sociological minefields where I suspect the problem stems from blowback from feminists’ reasserting of control (not that I dislike that reasserting, on the contrary), but can sound far too much like whinging. Or sexist. Or merely anti-feminist. Or completely made up. It’s far too easy to dismiss that the inequality even exists, but as someone who’s been declared “safe” before even getting the chance to make any sort of effort at showing romantic or sexual interest, I’m sure it does. I mean, I certainly don’t want to be seen as unsafe. But I want a say in whether I get turned into a virtual eunuch right off the bat, right?
I’m glad Stephanie, yet again, “gets it”. Even if I’m not really sure what “it” is, exactly.