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Male nudity in public spaces

by Emily Mead

cw nudity, sexual assault, male entitlement, anxiety, mentions of genitalia, swearing, possible biological essentialism

x

i feel u mike

feminists are often accused of focusing too much on the little things and looking for offence; we  basically go through life searching for molehills to make mountains out of, because that’s just our idea of fun, I guess!!! so when I complain about cis men stripping down and parading around topless during summer, or drunk men peeing in public, some people just assume it’s because I’ve run out of Important Things to be angry about.

chances are, if you’re a cis man, you might vaguely know that this is annoying, but never really think about how harmful this sort of behaviour is. that’s probably because cis male nudity is normalised throughout childhood and in popular culture, whereas female nudity is portrayed as an exclusively sexual thing… cis male nudity is so commonplace that you can get away with doing it without anyone batting an eyelid (or at least, with no-one feeling safe enough to tell you it makes them uncomfortable).

cis men exposing their bodies in public spaces is really fucking irritating because just shows how entitled they feel to public spaces (you might also have heard of / partaken in manspreading). when you take your shirt off because it’s hot outside, when you pee in public because you can’t be arsed to find a bathroom, when you send unsolicited dick pics for whatever reason you thought was appropriate (???), you are implicitly asserting your dominance and saying that your comfort matters more than everyone else’s.

as if that wasn’t enough to be upset about in the first place, this sort of crap can make survivors of sexual violence really fucking uncomfortable to say the least. Gross cis men imposing their nudity on me is a really fucking awful reminder of times when dudes felt like it was ok to subject me to way more than I’d consented to— at best displays of cis male nudity make me feel disgusted and unsafe, at worst they give me panic attacks. i’m sure (i hope?) that wasn’t the intended effect.

please please p l e a s e think about what you’re doing when you treat unwanted nudity like it’s no big deal. in future, before you pull this kind of shit, think about whether or not the people around you are okay with what you’re doing. (they’re probably not).

 

two things, in case someone has opinions about this

1— please don’t even think of talking about #freethenipple and how **everyone** should get naked for equality to be achieved. not only is it weird that you’d try to use a liberation movement for people with breasts against them just to make a point, but it’s problematic in that it mostly focuses on liberating able bodied cis white women. being able to take my top off without feeling too uncomfortable is a massive fucking privilege that I have & i have 0 interest in subjecting people to that. so yeah no, “women should get naked too!!!” is not nearly as relevant or useful as you might think

2— if a woman’s experience isn’t enough to convince you that there might be something wrong with forcing your nudity on non consenting strangers, here’s a heartfelt tale from a reformed dudebro who has seen the error of his dick displaying ways (same content warnings as this article apply + alcohol, discussion of homophobia).

Movement

[TW: suicide, physical disability]

 

Each syllable
each rounded, echoing diphthong
conveys nothing, except creating delicate
incisions in my ears

My back is bristling.
I have not felt in control of this body
ever
Let alone “at home in it”
“comfortable in my skin”

On this day my legs forget how to walk,
On this day my mind attempts to kill me
And on this day, again, I fail
To speak in ways that appease people
Whose thoughts and desires are a mystery to me.
I don’t remember doing anything with ease.
I cannot even trust my body to hold me upright.

Sexuality
is something that people who are not me
possess.
How can someone who resembles
a scuffling witch
who hobbles and aches
who stutters,
who falters and forgets
own something as
precious as this?

My humanity
and my body –
all accidentals
and false starts.
I lack identity
with your movement
with myself

Space

By Mel Berill

[TWs: misogyny, classism, ableism]

 

come back and tell me

you don’t like safe spaces

when you know what it’s like

to feel unsafe

 

when you’ve walked down a street

where you’re not human

but a piece of public flesh

 

when you’ve explained you’re ill

for the thousandth time

and you know half the world still thinks it’s fiction

 

when you know for sure

that if some people got their way

you’d have even less to live on

than you do now

 

when your home is not

cosy and safe

 

when your words are not

worshipped and valued

 

when your body is not

important.

 

come back and tell me then

that I’m not allowed a space

where people have agreed to respect me

and I them.

 

where people try not to hurt me

and I them.

 

where I can listen to people

who need safety more than me

and let their words

sit above mine.

 

where, sometimes, it’s all right

for me not to speak

or even be there

because I’m white

and cis

and I can know that sometimes, to keep people safe

i must keep quiet.

 

when you know what it’s like to need that space

come back and tell us we can’t have it.

come back and tell us then.

 

you will, of course

you’ll come back louder, stronger

full of bile

and make us listen

in your column

on your platform

through your megaphone

’til it’s deafening.

 

that’s why we need spaces

where we can’t hear you.

and fuck you

we’re going to make them.

 

Good Men don’t exist

 

cn: mention of sexual violence, transphobia, racism

1.22that is all.

 

 

 

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