Save Some For The Nightly News

I realized this morning that I have become a perplexed old feminist fart, utterly baffled at modern young women. There is a lot of admirable gumption out there but sometimes I wonder how they expect anyone to take them seriously.

This morning a newish, local newsblog featured a story about a jackass who hangs around a nearby subway station checking out women and taking upskirt photos with his cell phone. No one’s busted him yet, but a local blogger went to the police after he tried it on her, and caught a good photo of him (what comes around goes around) with her own phone, so it’s probably a matter of time. I salute this chick for doing her damndest to shut down this obnoxious behavior, but I’m utterly weirded out by the language used in discussion of the incident in various places online.

“Horrifying.” “A special place in hell for this guy.” “Things like this make me question humanity’s worth.”

Hello? Horrifying is the Gulf oil spill. Special places in hell are held for people like Slobodan Milosevic or Ted Bundy. (Granted, if cell phones had been around when Ted Bundy was he probably would have tried this.) Questioning humanity’s worth is what you do when digging in the fields of Cambodia yields a harvest of skulls, or a farm in the Tidewater turns out to be a dog-fighting operation, like Michael Vick’s. And if you want to zero in on real gender-based harassment, shake with tears or howl with outrage over the people who shoot abortion doctors or refuse to sell the morning-after pill at their pharmacies.

This guy just takes pictures up skirts, for God’s sake. It’s icky, it’s probably the behavior of someone who would rape if he had the guts, but at the end of the day, no one was physically injured, the incident was momentary and the picture is not going to be recognizable even if Mr. Jackass puts up his own page at upskirt-dot-com or something and plasters it all over the Net.

I remember finding myself in a crowd that had formed to watch a Chinese New Year parade downtown, years ago, alongside a friend from my school days who probably stood about 5’1″ and weighed in at a hundred pounds. I thought I was just being jostled at first, then realized that the guy behind me in the press was copping a feel off my ass. I stomped down and backwards, scored a glancing blow on his loafer, grabbed my friend around the waist and bodily dragged her away, then explained. Then we went on wherever we were going, and we mostly remembered it as “the day you carried me across H Street under one arm.”

I’m glad the cops pay attention to these things now in a way they wouldn’t have back then (Bundy did start out as a window peeper, after all) but if this is what provokes tears and trembling outrage, what do we have left for mass murder, or Abu Ghraib?

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16 thoughts on “Save Some For The Nightly News

  1. I totally agree. I think today we have lost the sense of what is important and what is not. As you say, I’m not saying that taking pictures up skirts is a nice thing to do, I’m saying that today nobody cares a fxxxx any more about the real important issues, like genocides, war torture and raping, anti-man mines that create millions of cripples etc. God, we were protesting in the streets for that.
    As far as sex, I think our generation – the men and the women alike – was less attentive to details and cared more about violating bourgeois rules, at least here, I mean in Italy, Germany, France, UK. Any violation here was considered good in that it was against bourgeois (a very vague concept) ethics.

    • Yes, I think we all went to far in our behavior in the late 20th Century just to say goodbye to the phony Peyton Place world (it didn’t really work but we tried), but I think we need to understand that some people are perverts and they need unpleasant contact with the law.

      No, this isn’t the outrage that fanatical Islam perpetrates on women daily by denying them the right to education, but it is the behavior of an animal that may one day do far worse if given the chance. The creep with the camera will probably do just that.

      • Of course I don’t condone that, Zeus, and I’m not saying that we were perverts in the 60s-70s. I’m just saying we liked to violates rules – very mildly: we certainly didn’t took pictures up-skirts – just for the hell of it. And, thinking of it now, violating for the hell of violating, was a totally moronic thing to do!

      • I’ve had more than one brush with sex creeps. Another story I remember with grim amusement involved a teenage rape-artist-in-training who followed me up a bike path with his pants down; I typed up a careful description of the incident for the police (at one point I advised him to stick his appendage in the nearest knothole he could find) and started a chain of events that ultimately saw him in juvenile detention. There was a lot more personal peril involved there but, given that I outran him, I couldn’t see crying and getting upset and carrying on about the horror, the horror. It was just the order of business to get his ass locked up before he did have a chance to do lasting harm to someone (which, with luck, will also happen in this case).

        I’m far more terrified and helpless-feeling in the face of the way people drive every day — and NOBODY screams outrage or wrings their hands over near-miss incidents when someone risks wiping out a life because he can’t stand the thought of having to wait for a traffic signal.

  2. To call the incident “horrifying” is indeed an exaggeration but don’t we all use words carelessly to some extent? I realise this is what you are calling attention to and I try to say what I mean and mean what I say but it’s hard in this digital age of firing off quick comments

    Another blogger, I think it may have been Ricardo, raised the issue of using the word addiction too loosely. Many people are guilty of this, myself included – I’m sure I’ve left comments on blogs about my ‘addiction to chocolate’ or some such thing. Now I’m more careful about that word and I guess after reading this I’ll be more careful about what I call horrifying.

    • I don’t feel it’s out of place to be hyperbolic in the flip way that “addiction to chocolate” is, but I do get wildly frustrated when confronted with the modern, straight-faced Oprah-Winfrey salvationism that sees a genuine, intervention-requiring addiction in anything anyone likes enough to do more than once.

      I have a friend who has wasted hours and hours of his life in stupid Sex Addict Anonymous meetings and adopted a view of himself as a permanent cripple. Yes, he stepped out on his wife a lot in the past, but unlovely behavior is not addiction; most people who know him roll their eyes and agree that his Catholic background has a lot to do with his going along with that label. It’s sad. Another lady I know, who has rheumatoid arthritis for God’s sake, found herself on the receiving end of a lecture about the danger of becoming “addicted” to NSAIDS that she uses when the joint pain gets ahead of her treatment. The whole concept has gotten out of control.

  3. It’s like when I get a survey from my dealership about my last service appointment with them and I give them an 8 out of 10 and they want to know why I didn’t give them a 10. Because 8 is great but 10 is like super excellent and there’s nothing super excellent about getting a state inspection. It’s not like they went out of their way doing it. 10’s should not be given out all willy-nilly, nor should every bad event be lumped into the same category of “Worstest Thing EVAR!!1!”

  4. Couldn’t agree with you more, Sled. Far too much hyperbole and too little real empathy in many responses to this kind of thing.

    And don’t even start me on the voice-over trails for new episodes for drama series on TV… “You WON’T BELIEVE what happens next week!”… er, actually, I’m pretty sure I can accurately predict exactly what rubbish you’ve got in store for us, actually.

    • The art of understatement has been lost, I think, and the art of accurate statement may be increasingly confined to people on the witness stand (when it can be coaxed out of them).

  5. When you get that shirt, order two, I need one too. It should also include “addicted to gardening” or some such hyperbole.

    I could not agree with your post more. Anger and deterrent action, but hyperbolic outrage? Your examples are much more to the point.

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