You are not entitled to my attention

Ignoring someone can be the most powerfully feminist action anyone can choose to take. There’s situations and types of entitlement it’s especially effective against, especially when women receive unwanted attention from men.

Dear attention-seekers: I know it’s hard being you. There’s really very little attention to go around these days, what with advertising everywhere, cellphones, e-readers, and mp3 players vying for your favoured commodity. But you’re not entitled to my attention, no matter what context you want it in.

Female attention-seekers seem to be quite keen on feminism only so far as it produces positives for them: as they see it, their opinion is more valued, less suppressed, and agreed with more readily now that the social paradigm has shifted to take at least some tenets of feminism into account, and tend to hide behind it as a shield to a certain degree when they don’t get what they want beyond the point that feminism would actually support. (I’m not saying this is a common thing in general, just among attention-seekers- they tend to treat ANY potential social advantage that way)

The problem is that this is a completely straw-feminist position. A woman is entitled to equal treatment by anyone who believes in equality or feminism on principle, but that doesn’t mean that any given thought or action a woman expresses or takes should be defended automatically. Feminism is about criticising unequal treatment, and the ways in which women are built up when they shouldn’t be- the kid gloves many men use on women that they view as sexually attainable, when they’re lacking social skills or could do with thinking more critically- that attitude is just as sexist as the unfair and negative treatment more prominent women receive.

One of the most feminist things I do around women is to be ambivalent when they’re pretending to be someone they’re not, when they’re feeling entitled, or when they’re simply attention-seeking. It’s an excellent contrast to the supportive side of feminism, and I don’t even have to be critical to do it, and when used together with supportive feminism, withdrawing praise or attention can actually change people’s behaviour quite dramatically when they value you socially.

But it can get me some odd reactions sometimes. It’s especially a mixed blessing in the dating world, (or at least, the 90% of it or so that involves androsexual women) but it’s not like beliefs are something that can be turned off. Attention is something that people earn, it’s not necessarily a right, and while you get a little of it for free, you can lose it pretty fast, too. While needy favoritism might be successful in getting some positive feedback on the surface, acting out something closer to what you actually feel about people is a pretty good policy.

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