Feminist Flirting – is it possible?

I had to met Jen on Saturday to collect a ticket for the film festival and I went to meet her in Door 51. Here is what accosted me on the way in:

I dunno about you but all I can see is boobs, boobs, and more boobs. I really wonder at myself that I’m still surprised by this sort of blatant objectification. Yet, in another way I’m glad because if it didn’t upset me or make me want to agitate for change then I’ll just have accepted that there is nothing I can do about it.

While some laugh this sort of advertising off as a joke,  ‘but sure that’s how all pubs advertise’, tell you to get over it, or often turn the tables on you and say this is ‘real’ female empowerment…I can’t help but think it is having a much greater impact than we realise.

I don’t know if it’s because my feminist conscience has been stronger in the past few months since starting Cork Feminista but being single in Cork since the summer has been utterly depressing at times. One night over Jazz weekend, in a pub not so far away from Door 51, some guy tried to chat me up using a rape joke. A RAPE JOKE!! I actually couldn’t believe my ears. I’d love to know what was actually going through this young fellas mind – ‘right so, I like the look of her…. I’ll make a joke about rape being surprise sex and then she’ll be putty in my hands’…. ???? the mind really does boggle…. I’ve lost count of the number of times my ass has been slapped – as if being handled like some cattle running round the field trying to fetch a good price is really going to encourage me to give out my number. Then there was a group of lads in one establishment who thought sending a friend over on a bet to try to score us was a good way to bag a lady.

That isn’t to say I haven’t had great conversations either when I’m out, but the former definitely outweigh the latter. So I put this question to you – is feminist flirting possible?Or do I just need to frequent some different establishments?!!

Do you have to forsake your values for those few hours in the pub, just so you can get along with everyone… and not be that person who always makes the conversation serious? Or, as in my case, do you call it as you see it, when someone is doing/saying something completely inappropriate (rape jokes, ass slapping) …. because otherwise who else will do it?

I don’t have a coherent linkage here nor have I done any academic research but I have a gut feeling. My gut feeling is that the blatant objectification of women, reducing us to mere sexual objects, has really diminished how men and women interact with each other. Objectification is, whether we like it or not, complicated by the fact that people are attracted to each other and want to score/kiss/hold/shag/love/marry someone. I don’t know if I’m explaining myself well enough here…  this issue is one far bigger than myself and my own personal experiences .. I see it replicated in my friends lives as well, in the workplace and across all the media. A supersize meal for thought really and not something I can hope to make sense of way past my bedtime on a Monday night!

Feel free

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2 Responses to Feminist Flirting – is it possible?

  1. Sarah says:

    I hate to say it but I really think you’re going to the wrong pubs. Certain places in Cork – we all know them – seem to have a higher than average percentage of sexist male scumbag. Even walking past them on your way home late on a saturday night can be nerve wracking (especially if you are on your own). Not that I can’t handle sexist jibes and leery attention….but why should I have to? I do think the pubs encourage this sort of “laddish” behavior too. You wouldn’t believe the condescending and patronizing behavior I got when, as one of the organizers of a well know feminist music and arts festival in 2008, I had to deal with the managers of certain places.

  2. John Ryan says:

    It may be down just to the maturity of the men involved
    ie their emotional age

    Hopefully education slowly over the next couple of generations will start to have
    an impact on the mass concience.

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