I am hesitant to identify as a feminist. This is predominantly because I fundamentally disagree with the definitions and behaviours of some who do define as one. I believe people should be treated equally and on their abilities, actions and merits regardless of gender, sexuality, socio-economic background or political views. Let’s stick with that then.So, to me, phenomenon such as the low conviction rate of sexual assault and rape, harassment etc. can definitely be put down in at least part to the pervasiveness of a patriarchal attitude in society. Of course, without this factor being eliminated, we cannot know what effects such as the structure of statutes, precedents and evidence have on the statistics to any accurate measure.
So, where does feminism sit on aggressive flirting? There is the obvious common sense of “if someone asks you to stop or you sense they’re uncomfortable, ask”. But what about before that? How forward is disrespectful? Does it depend on the context, your impression of the individual? [edit: after writing this post I found this discussion (Trigger warning sexual violence on BeYoungShutUp about one particular feminist and survivor’s experience of physical contact [see the section called Secondary rant about unwanted physical contact, which is relevant and helpful if you’re a bit lost on what I’m on about]
And what about in a post-patriarchal world; will we all be so considerate and equal minded that feisty flirting is possible without rebuke? Only the occasional mis-interpretation of a signal, followed by an apology?
So, in the here and now, should we be more careful in our seduction habits? Should we aim for treating each other with kid gloves to perpetuate a culture of respect, or forge forward in an attempt to reach that post-patriarchal space in which gender and sexuality are not a major determinant of every individual’s role and experience of life?