So, you’ve heard about the open-source boob project controversy, right? Well, now you have.
I will summarize, with prejudice: some pervs hanging out at Penguicon decided that people aren’t rude enough already and it should be easier to proposition random strangers re: copping a feel. In the interest of that goal, they devised buttons that indicated whether the wearer was interested in hearing that particular proposition. The idea was that if you wore a “Yes” button you were part of the Open-Source Boob Project.
Now, pervs at conventions do a lot of stuff that grosses me out, and usually I just try to ignore them. This particular pervy activity turned out to be very controversial online, and the chief instigator (linked above) threaded his original post with a big mea culpa, but I’m still not sure he gets the problem with it. Not why it might lead to an atmosphere of predatory sexual behavior or whatever, but why it was offensive.
Let’s start with the name. “Open-source Boob Project” strongly implies that women’s breasts are a commodity. A commodity that, in a perfect open-source world, would belong to everyone, and not to the holder of the copyright. You know, the woman.
Also, I seriously question his account of the way the project started — with the band of happy rude pervs blithely dancing down the halls asking every pretty girl they met if they could touch her breasts. In his story, all the girls say yes and none of them are offended. But in real life — if you pulled that at, say, Norwescon — I’m pretty sure that some people would be offended. I don’t know if the original band of OSBP pervs simply got lucky, petitioned a more pre-selected group than he’s letting on, or if he’s lying or misremembering. Or, maybe, the OSBP people were simply tone-deaf to the signs that they were, actually, bothering people.
His account of the events also reveals a certain familiar attitude, which I will summarize as, “I have noticed that I think you’re beautiful! Wasn’t that special of me to notice? Aren’t you flattered? Don’t you want to reward me in some way now?”
He describes it thus:
By the end of the evening, women were coming up to us. “My breasts,” they asked shyly, having heard about the project. “Are they… are they good enough to be touched?” And lo, we showed them how beautiful their bodies were without turning it into something tawdry.
Oh. My. God.
Were these women all hideously deformed? Insecure fourteen-year-olds? From another planet? On crack? Because unless the answer to all of those is yes,
WOMEN KNOW DAMN WELL THAT MEN WANT TO TOUCH THEIR BREASTS.
It is not surprising. It is not flattering. It is not special. It does not have magical healing powers.
And his account is completely disingenuous anyway — he keeps trying to emphasize the supposedly non-pervy nature of it, with quotes like “it’s strangely wholesome and sexual at the same time,” and rhapsodizing about the lowering of barriers and the making of connections.
But you know, I have to ask, if it wasn’t really a sexual thing, why weren’t they just scamming hugs?
And, as if this needed to be said, the pathetic souls who wander around conventions scamming hugs are ALREADY PLENTY CREEPY.