Feminism, Fear, and Faux-pas

During the whole permission-to-fondle-your-boobs blogging flame-war (you have heard about this, right?), I was told that I would be violating a woman's rights if I told a female stranger that I thought she was attractive. Specifically, I was told that these kinds of events can be "triggering" for victims of trauma (assault and rape in particular). I can't seem to get this thought out of my head.

I generally don't tell strangers I think they're hot. : ) I do, however, make specific comments, and I make them with some frequency. Things like "that's a really nice necklace", or "I like that skirt", or "what a great tattoo".

This freaks me out because I don't know where to draw the line.

I can't imagine the fear that a victim of assault may have. But I fully understand that the tiniest little things can be triggering events. ...but where does the line of reason stand, in terms of what actions should be considered potentially triggering and those that should be "okay"? At what level does being "safe" with one's actions (and in particular comments) become ad absurdum?

When I think deeply on the subject, I realize that my frustration is because my right to speak freely is being trumped. "Why does your dysfunction have to affect me?" ...And then I realize how selfish it is.


So if I've said something to you that caused you pain, I apologize. I would assure you my intentions were good, but I realize that good intentions don't mean shit if you've been hurt.

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