Wednesday, August 28, 2013

on gatekeeping and ownership

For people without cable, we sure do watch a lot of television.

One of our current favorite shows is Leverage.  It's a con/heist show that somehow manages to be compelling despite the overwhelming volume of other con/heist entertainment out there.  It's available on Netflix, is really quite good, and you should watch it.

Anyway, there was a particular exchange in one episode that I'd like to address.  In The Bottle Job, the plot centers around the young woman, Cora, who owns the bar above which Main Character Nate rents an apartment.  Apparently Nate kind of grew up in that bar while his dad conducted criminal business, and has been around to watch Cora grow up.

She's also a hot redhead, so there's that.

Exhibit B: Brawny Character Who Likes To Punch Things Elliott, the con team's bruiser, is a bit of a ladies' man, or possibly an exaggerator.  We get to see him chatting up models, mentioning umpteen bazillion sexual escapades in passing, and generally just being masculine and horny.

He has long hair, which I like, but that's beside the point.

ANYWAY.  BCWLTPC Elliott is firmly established as a nudge-nudge-know-what-I-mean charmer/philanderer/whatever over the course of the first season as a half.  No one has cared, least of all Nate.  The lad receives no pushback from his friends about this behavior.  To be clear, we've seen no coercive behavior, just slick seducer kind of stuff.  Oh, and he did have one serious relationship that he seems to have bailed on due to being too busy with all the superspy kickassery and stuff.

Enter Exhibit A, the hot redhead who Nate has known since she wore diapers.

Elliott, predictably, leers.

This happens:

Nate: Hey.  She's like my niece.  
Elliott: At least she's not like your daughter.  
Nate: She's like my niece.  So I don't want YOU to LIKE my niece. 

This is treated as a Final Word On The Matter.

May I register a what the fuck?  I am so so so so so so so so (so) tired of this.  Let's break it down.

1) This idea that you should only care about your relatives, out of all the female people out there?  This patriarchal display of ownership of kinfolk?  Is disgusting.  If you have a problem with Elliott's behavior, Nate, what EXACTLY has stopped you from mentioning it before?  Oh, right, it's because all those other women don't really matter, but as soon as this same behavior happens around someone you happen to have known for a long time, suddenly it's a problem.  And by way of explanation, you offer that she's practically family.

THIS DOES NOT MATTER.  If his behavior is out of line, it's always out of line.  Suddenly giving a fuck just because it's someone close to you is a really, really weak case that smacks of thinking you are the ruler of your female relatives Because Authoritative Man With Female Possessions.  Gross.  You do not own this person.

2) Also, and this is a bit of an aside, the bonus unspoken-because-it's-just-so-totally-obviously-objectively-true implication that it's 'better' for Elliott because Nate thinks of her as a niece and not a daughter, because of course a man's degree of ownership of a woman is directly proportional to the closeness of the genetic (or appropriated) relationship?  Ugh.

3) WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO POLICE THIS WOMAN'S RELATIONSHIPS???  Your friend, whose behavior in this domain you have never had an issue with before, is interested in your other friend (granted, it's at an inconvenient time because she's a bit distracted at the moment by being extorted by a loan shark, but still).  Said lady never gets to even know about this interest, because YOU, oh all-master Nate, have flexed your muscles and used the authority granted to you by having known her for a long time (!) and, presumably, being older than her and male (!) to Bravely Guard Her Sexuality by cutting off the advance.  By gatekeeping Cora's life simply because you can.  You being uncomfortable sitting with the notion of this woman living her life as a fully functional adult does not, in any way whatsoever, give you any right to demand that she behave in a way as to ease your discomfort (see pretty much every civil rights 'debate' ever, wherein one group is uncomfortable with the existence of another, and thinks they get a say in that).  She is allowed to live her own damn life as a grown ass woman.  Full stop.

An argument can be made that maybe he knows he's not her type.  We have no evidence that they've actually, like, talked at all in the past ten years, so no.  Maybe he thinks he'd be dangerous or a potential rapist?  THEN WHY HAVE YOU NEVER SAID ANYTHING BEFORE?  Nope, don't think that's it.

The only option left is that he's policing her sexuality because he can.  Because he's a man, damn it, and she's his auxiliary property.  Maybe he's 'protecting' her 'virtue.'

Barf city.  What if she really likes one-night stands with hunky beefcakes?  Would you know?  No.  In which case you're denying her something she might enjoy.  Or maybe she hates one-night stands with hunky beefcakes, in which case she can tell Elliott that herself!  Or maybe she wants his number but isn't in the mood right now.  She's, like, a person with desires and preferences and gets to make those choices.  

In either case, Nate, you can fuck right off.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have thoughts about my posts? Put 'em here!!