« Can we still pick up people on the street? »

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This was the main question of our first tea & talk of the semester. We discussed what seduction entails in our relationships, what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to making contact with the other person, as well as the changes (improvements or discomforts) that feminist, LGBTIQ+, and anti-inequality struggles have allowed.

Let us put you in context:

You’re on the street, in the pouring rain, and your eyes meet the wonderful person you’ve been waiting for all your life. You decide to gather your courage and approach the person. Here are the sentences that go through your mind:

  • Hello, you really have a wonderful body, I had to come and talk to you.
  • Hello, our gaze met and I felt you strived to talk to me so here I am!
  • Hello, what a rain this is! Do you still have a long way to go?
  • You ask the person for your way or the time in hopes of diverting the conversation to another topic

The rather strong opinions at the beginning, eventually converged to a more nuanced one, and perhaps shared by the majority of us. I’ll let you read on to find out more.

FOR OR AGAINST STREET DATING?

There were two main opinions at first. Some of us defended the fact that approaching in the street for many reasons (asking for directions, laughing at an unexpected situation, asking to take pictures) is totally acceptable, and therefore there is no reason why it should not be in the case of getting to know and seduce a person. For them, interactions in public places are a right and are essential in a healthy community. To forbid them would make our daily life « quite sad » or « less natural ».

Some of us objected this view. For them, in many cases of street dating, an unequal relationship is established between the one who generates discomfort and the other, who is made to waste his/her/their time without his/her/their consent. Apart from cases where the interaction is deliberately enforced, the possibility of refusing the interaction is often not offered to the approached person. Indeed, the objective of seduction is to « convince » the other person that we could be an ideal partner. Thus we necessarily start from a situation where the other person could not consent to this interaction, it is thus imposed on him/her/them.

BUT THEN… WHO’S RIGHT?

The debate brought out some important points that we would like to expose here.

First of all, we thought it would be useful to point out that not all public places are conducive to seduction. The majority of us agreed that seduction is much better accepted in a place of relaxation and leisure, such as pubs, gyms or cultural festivals for example. The street is an unavoidable place of transit and the people who walk there do not necessarily have time or the desire to create a connection.You will then more likely disturb someone on the street.

We also noticed several interesting things. In Europe, the vast majority of street flirts are men. On the other hand, few women trust the person who approaches them in the street when it is a man, and many say that they are immediately rejected.These women justify their attitude by explaining that street flirt by men is ongoing and often disrespectful.

To that point some answered « respectful » men who hit on the street and women who like to be approached are the first to be penalized by the misconduct of disrespectful people. According to them, it is a pity that everyone suffers from the stupidity of a « few ».

AFTER #METOO WE CAN’T FLIRT ANYMORE!

We’ve heard it many times. Some men say they are reluctant to get into an elevator with a woman, in the doubt she will file a complaint against him, for a look, or a misinterpreted gesture.Some men complain about a denunciatory atmosphere, especially with the massive use of social networks. However, what is happening today seems inevitable to us, and for good reason:if women have to go through public denunciation, it is because nowadays no legal or medical system is really listening to them. This situation is transitionary, it will allow the creation of a necessary protection framework, until now neglected or even guilt-inducing for the victims themselves.The law is not enough, the public perception of these crimes is important, it influences the enforcement.

Ascenseur-2-2

« People are wrongly denounced, feminism has ethically questionable practices ».

It is true that there may have been miscarriages of justice or wrongful denunciations, in the current evolution of social norms thanks to feminist struggles. This is unacceptable, just as it is unacceptable to leave the victims of sexual violence without protection and justice.People who choose to destroy the public life of another for personal reasons are unforgivable, and must be brought to justice.But this is not what feminist struggles seek to foster when they allow oppressed women to have their voices heard for the first time.Feminist struggles do not promote whistleblowing, they break a system that gags women.These methods will no longer be necessary when women have the means to be heard, supported and defended. No one here is defending defamation, we are defending the right to speak.

When we look back on hundreds of years of abuse, assault and neglect, we are even saddened that it didn’t happen sooner. With any change comes obstacles, complications, and questions that were never asked before. However, we must not stop moving forward when we encounter difficulties, we must build solutions together.

« If everyone who had spent time slowing down the movement had joined hands to enhance it, today no one would hesitate before going in the elevator with a person of the opposite sex ».


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