Politeness, confrontation, civil liberty and rape culture

…another man…plonked himself at our table and started asking us detailed, personal questions, one at a time. We were tired, chewing in silence, not even talking among us, and this man’s insistent question-asking was not merely annoying, but excruciating. About 10 minutes into a conversation which consisted mainly of very polite silence on our side, it occurred to me that this man was a parasite on female politeness, nothing more: one of those men who simply exploit most women’s need not to be confrontational. So I asked:

“Sorry, would you like to go somewhere else? We don’t feel like talking to you.”

Except that he then said: “No.”

(source: there is this thing called ‘right to the city’; women have it too.)

This paragraph in an interesting post about civil liberties, gender, public space and violence caught my eye. I think marking these connections between ‘politeness’, sexual harassment and rape are important because they chart the territory of rape culture. And I think we need to take a long, hard look at international lindy hop culture, and start dismantling the ‘everyday’ parts of our social dance practice that position women as objects and men as subjects.

As part of that sort of thinking, I was struck by the way this author notes that women’s politeness (and avoidance of confrontation) plays a key role in curtailing women’s civil liberties (in this case the peaceful enjoyment of public space).

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