by Andre Perez
In Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced, Miss LonelyHearts endeavors to help men understand why women perceive men as threatening, offering Anne-Landers-meets-Andrea-Dwarkin-style romance advice. With a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and an uncannily accessible style, Phaedra Starling addresses some of the most difficult issues with consent, sex, and sexism. The step-by-step format allows her the space to be playful without ever loosing site of the fact that non-consent and fear are at the heart of gendered experiences.
I was a bit uncomfortable with how much Starling's work draws on second-wave feminists, addressing an audience assumed to be straight and framing her arguments in terms of a gender binary. HOWEVER, she describes gender dynamics that felt relevant to my own experiences and relevant to majority of peoples' experiences. Unfortunately, we all get read by strangers and treated accordingly. Understanding the assumptions at play (and the reasons for them) was a first step in deciding how I wanted to deal with them.
Regardless of how you identify this article is a great prompt to push you outside of your own experiences, help you examine your own actions, and/or instigate a contemplation about why any of us relate to strangers in the ways we do. Ain't that what good writing is supposed to do?