“I am sure you give better handjobs than blow jobs.”


So I’d like to start by saying that I spent a reasonably long time revising my response, because my initial several attempts involved a large amount of profanity and a few inappropriate suggestions involving sticking cacti where they probably shouldn’t be stuck. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s break down this comment (posted to my ask.fm channel) one piece at a time, starting from the end and working our way back to the beginning.

“I am sure you give better handjobs than blow jobs.”

For one thing, I fail to see how this, true or false, is relevant to literally anyone other than the person I’m sleeping with. For another, while I appreciate that you’ve attempted a logical progression — ”you’re a physical therapist, therefore you must be really good with your hands; since you’re also a girl, you therefore must give good handjobs” — there’s one aspect of your thought process that pisses me off even more than your sexism.

Yes, in the gaming scene, the vast majority of injuries I’ll be working on preventing or managing are hand-related. On occasion, this may involve using manual therapy on hands and forearms. I am not, however, a glorified hand masseuse. I spent 6.5 years and a not-insignificant amount of money earning a doctoral degree. Please respect that.

The rest of the issue with this statement is just garden-variety sexism, so let’s move on.

“I bet guys are scared to even say they like you.”

Based on my personal experience with guys being perfectly comfortable telling me they like me in either romantic or platonic contexts, that would be an incorrect conclusion. More to the point, though, the implication that a) my behavior is so out-of-line as to scare men away and b) my goal in life should be to do the exact opposite of that is both really demeaning and really stupid. The romantic approval of the opposite sex should not be anyone’s primary goal in life. If I was actively being an asshole, then yes, I’d concede you may have a point about my behavior scaring people. Pointing out that it’s sexist to tell a girl “I bet you give good handjobs because you’re a physical therapist and a girl” is not being an asshole, it’s being Captain Obvious.

“You might as well become a lesbian.”

I’m not sure how you’ve concluded this is a bad thing to be. I get that you intend it as an insult, but it’s not actually insulting. In the context of your entire comment, I think you’re trying to say “if you think guys are so sexist, why don’t you just start liking girls?” This raises the issue of the fact that I don’t think all guys are sexist, and that being straight, gay, lesbian, or asexual isn’t a matter of choice. I think it’s sexist to say sexist things; it’s not inherently sexist to be a guy.

If you’ve managed to conclude that I think all guys are sexist from the fact that I post the relatively uncommon examples of sexist messages I receive, I would politely suggest you learn about the concept of sample size. Also logic.

“This is why you’re single because if a guy sexually advances on you, you get scared and think it’s sexist.”

I saved this one for last with good reason. Part of that reason is that you’ve finally managed to get something correct: I am, in fact, single. The other parts are less pithy.

So there’s this whole concept of consent involved in sexual advances. I’d be more than happy to talk about the importance of affirmative consent sometime, but in the context of this conversation, I did not consent to you making sexual advances at me on ask.fm. If we were two strangers in a bar, it’d be considered sexual harassment if you walked up to me and started immediately making comments about my blowjob and handjob skills. This is VASTLY DIFFERENT than a scenario in which we’re two strangers in a bar who have some amount of actual conversation, realize we’re sexually attracted to each other, and mutually engage in flirting. I have no problem with someone making sexual advances towards me when I’ve consented to them. I have no tolerance for someone making sexual advances towards me when I haven’t.

This is also not an issue of fear. If there were fear involved, I wouldn’t be publicly pointing this out and risking the inevitable backlash I expect any time I talk about sexism publicly. There’s fear involved when it’s 10 PM and I’m walking home alone from the metro in the dark and a man is following me, making comments about what I’m wearing and how my body looks and what he’d like to do to me (this has happened before). There’s fear involved when I’m on the metro and I’m the only other one in the car except for a group of teenaged boys who are watching porn on their phones and loudly commenting about how much “this one slut looks like that girl at the end of the car, I bet she’d like to get fucked like this too” (this has also happened before). There’s fear involved when I’m hanging out with friends at a bar and a guy won’t stop touching my arm, or my hair, or my ass, despite me asking politely and then less politely for him to stop (this, too, has happened before; it only stopped when another guy, bigger than him, told him to knock it the fuck off). There is no fear involved in calling out an anonymous internet stranger’s sexism, and if you think the above sexual advances are also not problematic, then you are, in fact, part of the problem.

It’s not sexist to like a woman. It’s not sexist to inform a woman that you like her or are attracted to her. It’s not sexist to make sexual advances towards a woman who is interested. It’s not sexist to think about a woman in a sexual context.

It is, however, sexist to make sexual comments to a woman who’s not interested, who has no prior relationship to you, who is attempting to help the community via her professional medical skills; it is sexist when you would not make these sexual comments to a man attempting to do the same; and regardless of the gender of the person you’re addressing it is inappropriate, out-of-line, and not appreciated.

Some people have asked why I post these examples. “Why are you giving them attention?” “Just ignore them.” “They just want a rise out of you.”

One reason I post these examples is because I learned something a long time ago, long before I ever got involved in any gaming scene: no matter how reputable I am, no matter how respected I am, no matter how much people trust me in other contexts, unless I have proof when I talk about instances of sexist behavior or sexual harassment I’ve experienced, I won’t be believed.

Another reason I post these examples is to put a spotlight on them. For every person who trolls me as a response, I get 10 more who say “thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one” or “that’s not right, we should change that”. To those of you who say the latter: say it loud, say it often; don’t wait to react to an incident occuring to say it.

The last reason I post these examples is because we’ve already tried the “just ignore them” approach. We’ve been trying that since the inception of the internet. Hell, we’ve been trying that since before the inception of the internet; we all know how well “just ignore them” works on bullies in elementary school. It works about as well on the internet, and to everyone who suggests that my particular method is ineffective: you’re welcome to come up with a better plan. But I won’t ignore it, and neither should you.

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