No, not me – my skills of prognostication are fairly weak.
It is the sort of thing, however, that is often gifted to those who oppose us in general. It’s claimed by those who work for us as well, and one of the hallmarks of this gift is the basic sort of statement we hear all too often in so many ways from so many sources:
If you do X, then Y will happen.
Now, cause and effect applies, of course. For every action, there will be an equal and opposite reaction.
Not so keen on the name for that basic concept, but it seems to have held for most of science and even appears to be central to some aspects of quantum studies – not that I’m any expert in such matters or anything.
I talk often about the impact of advertising on society – its fundamental to the idea that if we produce PSA’s that speak to general good stuff, then we will get general good stuff.
Well, advertising uses a lot of this sort of thing – and while many talk about the use of subliminal efforts, I tend to focus on the more overt and exliminal aspects.
And commercials are there to make you believe something that isn’t true.
Right now, on an internet page, I’m being suggested to “wake up on the bright side” thanks to a trademarked phrase that notes there are rates from 59 bucks at La Quinta Inns and Sites.
Now, I happen to really like the LQ chain of hotels. Really, I do – they are generally affordable and quite comfortable and they have the basic amenities I tend to like to see in my hotels. Since I love to travel – and would, in fact, travel probably 6 weeks out of every 8 if I could – those things are of value to me.
However, I’m seriously trying to figure out how it is that waking up in an LQ room is somehow going to make me wake up on the bright side.
Effect does not follow cause. I could wake up on the dark side – some might say I already have, come to think of it, lol. I could wake up on the floor, or the left side of the bed, or the right side of the bed. Hell, if it’s a night filled with good dreams, I could wake up sideways.
So there are many, many different possibilities as to how I wake, and, in fact, I could wake up in any of those situations anywhere else I might stay on a trip.
But in advertising, they know that. So they want me to have a “good feeling” about the product.
A lot of people like to do this sort of thing – the “slippery slope” argument is one such example. In this case, however, the objective is to create a “bad feeling” about whatever it is.
A good example of this we hear a lot about in our community is the whole “but if you pass legislation protecting gender expression, you will be letting rapists into the restroom”.
Right now, today, in the United States, a man can walk into a woman’s room, and a woman can walk into a man’s room, and, basically, the most they’ve done is broken a social taboo. Indeed, women enter into the men’s room quite a lot – not all women, and not in all situations, but frequently enough that even a cursory glance through on a Google search will reveal several examples.
A man entering a women’s room, however, is treated with considerably greater seriousness – and it’s nearly always set up as a threatening situation (even in the case of janitorial stuff).
Part of the reason for this is that men are, as men, socially perceived as threatening. Men have a social role that says “I am dangerous”.
Well, in part that’s because reports like the FBI’s crime statistics show that men are significantly more likely to commit acts of violence and aggression and dominance than women are.
However, that report, when you factor in the population of the US, shows that relatively few men do such things – it’s still a greater number than women as a percentage of the total population, but it’s not enough to socially justify such a horrible thought as a woman will absolutely rape a woman in the men’s room.
There is of course, the author Marilyn French, who’s novel “The Women’s Room” sorta set a standard and it sold a gazillion copies. Published in 1977 following several years of effort in the feminist community, it’s most often remembered concept is the single line spoken by a fictional lesbian feminist who’s daughter is raped:
“Whatever they may be in public life, whatever their relationships with men, in their relationships with women, all men are rapists, and that’s all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes”
Now, the book is considered a critical reading work for American feminism. It was, in its time, a hugely successful book – roughly about the same level as another book not too long after wards, where the author of it bluntly called MtF transsexuals men and said:
All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves …. Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive.
This, in combination, is a strong part of why the idea of transsexuals in the restroom is so strong – both aspects have percolated within the overculture in the US for a great length of time, and are fairly strongly linked to the rise of such things as the men’s liberation movement, which led to the concepts of gender and biological sex being distinct, in contrast to what at the time was a strongly essentialist view that sex and masculinity or femininity were inextricably linked.
And, I should point out, its deeply transmisogynistic, since it only targets transwomen, not trans men, and is sexist because the focal point is always the presence of the penis.
This is where the issue of what I call phallic fear comes in – at the most basic level, it is the fear of the penis and all that it represents in the most negative of ways.
And it is assumed to be true, automatically, because of this popular conception that men are at its mercy.
(I could take a moment and note how, when combined with things discussed later on, transwomen in general actually kinda sorta share the sentiment from a different POV and with a different rationale, but that’s probably best left for later).
Now, restrooms include things like showers, locker rooms, even (literally) places to rest – it is, in part why we call them “rest rooms”. We also call them washrooms, as well, and we segregate them for reasons of modesty in public, but not in private.
It is modesty that drives the conception of segregation – body modesty in particular, something transsexuals are intimately familiar with, since no transsexual that I know, personally, can really say they like their schlong. Some find it has use, but they don’t like it. That is not to say that such can be categorically said about all transsexuals, just that my anecdotal experience says such – I can’t say if it can or cannot be said of others, since I do not know all of them.
And, by itself, that single piece of information is not significant enough to statistically extrapolate the likelihood of it being true for all.
So modesty, then, is the deeper issue, hidden beneath the veneer of fear of men. No one wants to be seen going to the restroom by someone they don’t know – it’s embarrassing and angering because it violates our personal sense of modesty.
Now, the concept of modesty is also why the argument inevitably takes place around the women’s restroom:
Standards of modesty (also called demureness or reticence) are aspects of the culture of a country or people, at a given point in time, and is a measure against which an individual in society may be judged. Though the term can be applied to both men and women, and boys and girls, it is most commonly applied to women and girls.
Modesty is most often rendered as humility, shyness, or simplicity. The general principles of modesty include:
Avoiding attracting attention to oneself by moderating one’s actions or appearance;
Downplaying one’s accomplishments (see humility);
Avoiding insincere self-abasement through false or sham modesty, which is a form of boasting.
In this situation, it is comparable to something like the rule of always keeping a woman’s breasts covered in public, while men can run around shirtless. However, that wasn’t always the case – prior to the 1930′s, men were generally frowned on if they also were uncovered up top – it was world war two that really changed that (due to the large number of soldiers being shown doing things like bathing and such).
Things changed – although, these days, there is a subtle increase in issues of modesty in semiprivate spaces among even men, as gay men have reached a mainstream level of acceptance.
Which, again, is a reflection – even in men’s spaces – of how men are perceived as dangerous and risky – it’s a cultural component that’s present widely.
So, in reality, what is being said in things like the bathroom argument is that transsexuals are immodest – lacking in humility, demureness, or reticence regarding their genitalia – and also men – it’s inherent in the accusation since, if they were being thought of as women, they would not pose a danger. This is a fairly inescapable truism, and not an new one.
Now this assumes, of course, that the slippery slope argument is made about transsexuals, but, typically, it is not.
It is made about men in general. In this case, it considers men immodest, and a threat to the safety of people, because invariably the argument is structured in such a way as to involve “a man” without identifying any particular characteristics, and usually with the insinuation or outright statement that they would actively dress in order to give them some benefit in doing so.
To which the question that comes to my mind is “what benefit do they get?”
That is, in what way does a person who is interested in domination, controlling, or showing power over someone else – in this case, a woman, most likely – benefit from dressing as the subject of their attack? They aren’t going to rape themselves.
It is important to note that most of the crimes involving rape in latinate language countries speak to it in some form or other as being a violation of another person’s modesty.
The charges against the asswipes that do camera and peephole stuff are often charges of violation against modesty.
This is also why the issues of male rape are so often ignored – men do not have the same social requirements of modesty that women have, outside of genitalia.
So what benefit do they get? There’s nothing stopping them from doing such now other than basic social modesty requirements, so they do not gain benefits of entry or disguise.
As near as I can tell, they get no benefit, whatsoever, and, additionally, in doing so, they would be placing themselves into that position, via The Rule of Screwing. People in this mindset are not going to be taking such risks.
There is also the issue of privacy for them – restrooms are places of consistent entry and exit with privacy in only certain places, of the sort necessary for such a happening. In a strange twist, they have greater privacy in a park with hedges, or in a home or alley. And this is important to them, as a matter of commission of what they generally know is, indeed a crime.
So the assertion, itself, it entirely without any real value – much like the wake up on the bright side idea used by La Quinta – but it does have the effect of doing what is intended, much like any sort of advertising: it promotes fear.
Fear of the unknown, of the remotely possible, and if you argue with that fear, you place yourself at risk of being portrayed as callous or, indeed, immodest – which is a fallacy of popular appeal.
And what’s interesting is that instead of seeming prescient, those who make such an argument instead seem, well…
And I don’t know about you, but I do not see fear as empowering.