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  • eli

let's be friends instead


Hey everyone! Eli here.


It’s been roughly a year since #metoo became a social phenomenon. The movement gave me many chances to learn stuff I had no clue about, such as the dynamics of sexual abuse and consent.


One year later I’m still here thinking about consent, this time from a slightly different perspective. Now that I am in Japan I experience (and listen to experiences) that remind me very well of my social standing as a woman, and a foreign one at that.


Being a non-east asian foreigner in Japan means that you are hypervisible. You are, in a way, constantly sexualized. This can be perceived as both good and bad, depending on the person you are and the situation you’re in. I’ve heard people who were positively surprised by the (sexual) attention they were receiving, who were obviously happy to be popular. But being sexualized has its setbacks. For me, to be honest, it’s mostly a nuisance.


The thought of being more visible (and possibly perceived as an easy person in virtue of my being a foreigner) sometimes makes me feel paranoid – everytime I speak to a guy I end up worrying about the possibility of him hitting on me, even if I’d just rather being friends. It makes me feel sad my experiences led me to develop this thoughts.


Has anybody ever had similar thoughts? Sadly among my peers, there is always some skepticism about the possibility of sexually disinterested relationships between boys and girls. Even the most progressive people I have around usually settle for a middle ground of the “it sucks that it’s like this and I don’t approve of this idea, but that’s the reality of it” kind.


This seemingly innocuous thought has some important consequences. In an environment where people are not aware of the need for sexual consent, as soon as you get harassed (in any way), it becomes your fault for being naive, not realizing that “that’s the reality of it”. You got groped in the club? It’s your fault for being there in the first place, only “easy” women go to the club.


This whole dynamic gets even more intense if you are, for any reason, hyper-visible or hypersexualized. Some people think that attractiveness (whatever the reason behind it) exists as a signal that they can chase you. How often have you heard people saying that “if she didn't dress like that, she wouldn't have been abused”?


It is here that one of the keywords of the #metoo debate, consent, comes save the day. What if we taught people that they can’t just rely on their assumptions when approaching people in a sexual way? Maybe some people, even most of them if you want, go to the club (or to parties, or nomikai, or wherever) to find a partner. But that surely doesn’t mean that everyone has to be looking for that. Heck, sometimes people think they’re interested, but they end up changing their mind. Maybe if we kept these thing in mind, life would be a tiny bit easier.


How do you feel about being friends with people of the opposite (or same, in the case of some sexual minorities) sex?


Images by Eli

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