You may prefer this VERY updated version of this post: HERE.

I am not afraid of dogs, and most women are probably not “afraid of men.”

Except I’m actually afraid of dogs and most women are justifiably afraid of men. If you get what I’m saying so far, go away and do something useful because this post is not written for you. If you are puzzled, especially about the idea of women being afraid of men at all, then sit down, shut up, and allow me to slap you across the chops a couple of times1 with a little reality because that is what you need. Assuming you are a sentient adult and still have no clue.

I admit that I see “pit bulls” as potentially dangerous.2 When I was a kid, it was German Shepherds (or similar dogs) that were routinely trained as “one-man” guard dogs or attack dogs, and if you saw one either it was on a chain (not a rope, a chain) or on your leg (in a bad way). Seriously. These days, Shepherds are kept because they are good with kids. Go figure. The point is, I’m fully aware that almost 100% of the danger level of a dog is based on its training and treatment and not on its breed. So, when I see a “pit bull” I know intellectually that this could be the most gentle beast I’ll ever meet in my life.

Or not.

I live in a place where mullets are not a fish that swims upstream and Jeff Foxworthy is regarded as a philosopher. If people around here see me with a compact florescent light bulb they look at me funny. We avoid having bumper stickers on our cars that reflect our politics just to avoid getting bumped by people on the exit ramp. Their bumper stickers usually involve urination. And so on. Dogs in this neighborhood are often bred for sport, and I’m not talking about duck hunting. Well, that too. But fighting dogs or guard/attack dogs are bred to be nasty, as often as not, judging by what I see in people’s yards and on the ends of chains … not ropes … in my neighborhood.3

So the other day, I walked outside and found myself utterly alone. Surrounded by garage doors and closed windows in a sort of cul-du-sac, I knew that you could probably pop someone with a small caliber handgun and no one would hear it or see it. I wasn’t thinking that exactly at the time, but I could sense the loneliness and remoteness as I closed my garage door behind me, heading for the mail box, with the medium-term intent of hopping in my car (which was not in the garage) to head off and pick up Huxley from daycare.

That’s when the dog showed up. It was a pit-bull like dog, though I have no idea what the actual breeding history of this animal was. It was tall, almost as tall as a Dane, but had the pit-bull head and a boxer-like body. Some sort of Frankendogish mastiff derivative, perhaps. A massive mastiff, indeed.

The dog was un-chained and frenetic. The first thing it did was to run at me and bump its head into my leg. Then it ran around in the cul-de-sac, running up to doorways and then turning instantly away each time. When I say running I mean mainly walking very fast. The dog was only bounding into the air now and then. It came towards me a couple of times but almost as though I wasn’t there, it would just pass me. Instinctively, I employed the usual voice and hand gestures one employs to bring a dog to a spot and have it sit, so I could look for ID on its collar, but it would have none of that. This dog was not receiving any of my signals.

That, and the fact that it was foaming at the mouth, gave me pause.

Different instincts suddenly kicked in. I’ve had encounters with dangerous dogs, and if you’ve read the Lost Congo Memoirs you’ll know that I’ve had dealings with rabid dogs as well. After the fourth or fifth time that the frenetic zombie-like (but fast-style zombie, not slow-style zombie) frothing beast passed by, having made my way to the car, I quickly unlocked the door, hopped in, and slammed it shut.

That is when I noticed that my heart was racing and my adrenalin was pumping. I had just encountered a rabid dog that, once it freed itself from whatever trance state the brain-eating disease hat put it in, was going to turn on me and bite me in the face (last place you want to get bit by a rabid dog).

Or not. Probably not. The foam was surely just drool. Its frenetic behavior was probably just because it was lost. Its failure to understand my commands was probably … well, that was actually a real problem because a well trained dog would obey any person’s dog-talk, and if you don’t train your dog that way you’re either a moron or you’re not training it to be nice to people but rather, to be a killer or fighter or something! OMG! Oh, wait, sorry, my fears are getting the better of me again … That’s totally irrational, of course. The dog was probably just confused. I suppose. Maybe.

So, I usually keep what happens in my house private, or at least if I write about it check first with the involved parties, but I think I will be forgiven for spontaneously telling you about a conversation I had with Amanda last night.

For the course of much of Rebeccapocalypse (the maneno with Elevator Guy, Rebecca Watson, and so on) Amanda was out of town while a friend of mine visiting from out of town and I huddled over our computers down in the blog cave, or visited SkepchiCON where, coincidentally, the Actual Rebecca Watson and other Skepchicks were hanging out, where the two of us fussed over the problem. So, Amanda missed all of the run-up, hadn’t read any of the blog posts, and had gotten only the briefest overview of events from me after her return. The story of Rebecca and Elevator Guy was low priority for her at the moment and the story thus went to the back of her head (well, probably, actually the front, but that’s not how we refer to it) for processing. Then, last night, the whole thing rushed forward and Amanda ran down to the blog cave to tell me something. I should say, this is a rare event. She was kinda freaked out.

“Do people get it?” she asked me, kinda freaked out (as noted).

“Get what?” I was distracted and unclear on the point she was making.

“Do people get what it is like for a woman to have a man join her on an elevator in the middle of the night? Do they understand that this is ALWAYS something that raises one’s stress level, even if just a little?”

“Huh?”

“Sometimes more, sometimes less, it depends on your state of mind, the time of day, all sorts of other factors, but if I’m in a hotel somewhere in the middle of the night and some guy I don’t know gets on the elevator, my stress level goes up and stays there until one of us gets off. If he says something to me other than ‘nice weather we’re having’ I get much more stressed. That’s true to some degree for all women.”

“Elevator? What?” She was going fast, almost upset.

“If the guy did what that guy did, asking me to his room, I’d totally Freak.”

Ah. She was talking about Elevator Guy. “Yeah. Desiree said would punch him in the face.”

“Me too.”

“That guy’s gonna have a bloody nose. Hey, did I tell you about this dog the other day?”

“Huh?”

Anyway, in life I was not as clueless as the above dialog suggests. Amanda hadn’t really been thinking about the issue at all, and the moment she gave it any thought she immediately concluded that Elevator Guy did the wrong thing and that Rebecca Watson, in pointing this out to the clueless, was doing all women in the West, where there are elevators and a chance of some equality, a service. And every other woman that I’ve spoken to about this has said the same thing, more or less.

Guys (and some gals) who are not getting this are making two mistakes. First, they consider the event post hoc and say that no one was attacked or raped, therefore there was no threat of rape or anything else serious. If it didn’t happen, it couldn’t have happened. (I will assume you get why that is stupid.) Second, they think of this sort of thing generally and figure that the chances that Elevator Guy was a real threat was low. Why or how they assess this is beyond me, since they weren’t there, but I suppose statistically it is a reasonably valid guess … chances are the foam is just drool, chances are the frenetic behavior is just confusion, chances are the zombie-like state of the 160 pound dog is just … oh, wait, sorry, I was talking about Elevator Guy. Right. Chances are that Elevator Guy was just a socially ignorant slightly drunk dweeb of no consequence.

Or not. And it is the “or not” part that a woman MUST pay attention to in order to live her life as long as she can before her first sexual assault, or to increase the amount of time spent between her last sexual assault and her next one, or to make the next sexual assault hopefully non-fatal or something that she can get out of quickly or minimize in some way. Because very few women get away without something happening in their lifetime. (It occurred to me some time ago that my knowledge of a woman having been sexually assaulted in the past is correlated with how much I know about that woman generally. I quickly add that correlation is not causation. The point is that if you know a woman and don’t have knowledge of her prior sexual assault, that may not be because it didn’t happen. It just may be because you don’t know.)

When I was about 14 through 17, hanging around in an urban environment, with no car, and spending a lot of time at night on foot going places, I learned to do this trick. Say I’m walking down State Street and it’s 1:00 AM and there’s a woman walking in front of me in the same direction. With very few exceptions, I’ll overtake her, and there will then be this long, maybe one-third of a city block long period when I’m right behind her, then right next to her, then just in front of her.

From any of those three vantage points, I could grab her. From behind, or from next to her, or by turning around and grabbing her from the front. Then I could push her to the ground and drag her into an alley or whatever.

But I would not do that. Therefore, the woman walking alone at 1:00 AM in the morning downtown has nothing to worry about, right?4 Well, actually, since she does not know me she has a great deal to worry about because the chances that some guy walking (fast) alone down State Street in the middle of the night is a perfectly nice guy who will do no harm (me) vs. the chance that the guy is some sort of sexual assaulter or mugger is hard to assess, and the chance of the latter being the case is far from zero.

So I learned this trick. Cross the street about a block back and “pass” the lady that way. Same with a potential head-on encounter. If you see a woman walking towards you in the middle of the night on a lonely urban street, my practice in those days was to cross the street to not stress her out.

(Interestingly I stopped doing that second move when I moved to South Minneapolis a number of years back because because the social context there was very different. It would have been considered very bad form. Instead, you make eye contact and say hello. To everybody. That’s how we roll in that neighborhood, but that is an exception, and this paragraph is a digression.5)

All men. ALL men who have given sufficient consideration to women’s position in our society do this walking trick in the right context (for some that will be common, for others, rare). If you are a man and you do not know about this trick then there is a problem with you.

Here’s the thing. A woman normally possesses a certain sense of caution related specifically to things that mainly happen to women, which does cause stress. A man should respect that and act accordingly, by doing certain things and not doing certain things. Every single person I’ve spoken to about Rebeccapocalypse has had a view of this roughly in the same range: Rebecca displayed normative behavior in being put off by Elevator Guy and it was up to her to decide to speak about it, and generally a good thing to do so. People do disagree on the modus operendus of speaking out, but not dramatically. Everyone understands that a woman should have a certain sense of caution … as should a man but in different ways, for different things, to different degrees … and that a man should respect this and act accordingly. By doing certain things and not doing certain things.

But then there are these people, mostly guys, and also Richard Dawkins, shockingly, who don’t get it at all. I’m thinking that the fame factor has caused Dawkins to live a life in which certain conversations have been avoided, and he is just socially retarded because of this, though in most ways he is a fine example of an English Gentleman. Or maybe being socially retarded and being an English Gentleman are the same thing in certain areas. Oh, right, this might apply to privilege, might-en it? And privilege might be what makes men tend to be stupid about certain things. Get out of my way, Bitch, I’m walking down the street and I don’t care that trammeling past you is going to freak you out. Your problem. What are you doing out in the middle of the night by yourself anyway? Oh, if I was asked over for coffee at 4AM in the morning in Ireland on an elevators, I’d see it as a complement! Yes, yes, I suspect Richard Dawkins has been asked over for coffee and servicing at the wee hours of the morning many times, because he’s a star and that is what happens. So from his point of view, I suppose he was giving Rebecca the highest complement when he figured that she had no brief: “Rebecca, you are one of us stars! You have a groupie! Good show, Old Girl!”

Oh, but sorry, my cynicism is getting the better of me. I want to close by restating my point so it can’t be missed.

I was freakin’ afraid of that dog, even though I know how to handle big dogs. I was afraid of that dog even though I’ve smelled the breath of more than a few wild super-carnivores who were busy contemplating me as a meal or a rival, so a dog should be nothing to me. I was afraid of that dog even though I’m not afraid of dogs. I could not help myself from being afraid, and I have chosen to do the very unmanly thing of not lying to you about that. My heart was beating when I got into the car, into safety.

And here’s the thing, the point you need to get: I can only tell you about the dog. I can’t tell you a story about a sexual assault. I don’t have one. I only have the dog story for you because I’m a 50-something year old man, not a 50-something year old woman. If I was a 50-something year old woman, I’d be able to tell you stories on point for the current discussion, stories about men who cornered me, who touched me when I didn’t want that, who verbally threatened me, who woke me up in the middle of the night or tracked me down on some dark street or who freaked me out in an elevator. If I was typical, that is.

But I only have the dog story to help you empathize with Rebecca because I’m a man.6

________________________________________

1Verbally. I would never slap you across the chops. Unless you followed me into an elevator in the middle of the night and asked me to come over to your room for a cup of coffee.
2Let me be clear. I am not afraid of dogs. There are nuances running through this post, however. Are you afraid of nuances?
3Having grown up in a neighborhood like this, but more urban, I tend to see these subtle cultural features and I find them all endearing except the politics.
4No. Do not even THINK about saying that. Or, I will kick your ass. Seriously. You have been warned.
5Except it’s not really a digression. It’s a nuance. In this post I discuss a woman’s sense of caution. But this little story about South Minneapolis is here to subtly remind you that the nature of that sense of caution is context specific. In South, if I crossed the road, it would be assumed that I was up to something and the neighborhood watch would take notice. Or, I’d be thought of as rude and unfriendly. At the same time the front door of my porch is unlocked and there’s a friendly sign indicating that I’m part of the SAFE program so if any person on the street feels threatened they can run into the porch and lock the screen and bang on my door, or if somebody gets locked out of their house they can use my phone to get help, etc. But in some other context you cross the street. Most importantly, you have to understand the context and its meaning and how it shapes expectations and fears, and if you don’t you are not fulfilling your role in society.
5The use of violent language and themes in this post was done to make you uncomfortable and defensive. Did it?

Comments

  1. #1 jaf
    July 5, 2011

    One time a middle-aged man asked me for coffee while getting off the bus and I was creeped out.
    Another time, a different male person (who appeared to be mentally challenged) started talking to me as we were waiting to cross the street after getting off of the bus. He asked me where I live. Awkward. I just pointed in the general direction and said “that way.”
    Did he mean harm? Probably not. But did it make me uncomfortable? Hell yeah! I decided that if I was going to be followed I would just take a trip to the grocery store instead. Fortunately, he didn’t follow me.

    These are two of many stories I have about getting creeped out, not even the ones where I was blatantly harassed.

    I think about these things daily. Just seeing a stranger on the street.

    Oh, and, what Amanda said about elevators.

  2. #2 Sondrah
    July 5, 2011

    I read some of the back story on this and I have to agree, I would have experienced increased stress on the elevator as well. And I like men that recognize this uncomfortable uneasiness that women experience in certain situations. It isn’t sexism; it is good manners for a man to stand down so to speak and appreciate the stress caused due to our anatomical differences e.g. strength.

    However, I want to point out that some women, not just men, will clamor that she shouldn’t have been stressed at all. I would have been that woman in my youth, when I thought stereotypes were labels and didn’t realize they were often closer to being statistics, when I thought I could always take care of myself not realizing that feeling secure in my independence didn’t give me super strength to fight off real aggressors, and when the world and individuals seemed more interesting and worthy of investigation as opposed to typical and slightly scary.

    Women are free to want a man to approach them or to approach a man and have one night stands, this is true. But women also need to be more cautious and protective of their personal space because that potential one night stand is more than likely physically stronger than them and if he turns out not to be the strange they wanted but the stranger they should fear, it could be too late.

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    July 5, 2011

    No, the violent language and themes did not make me uncomfortable. In fact, they helped slow down my own heart and breathing so I can do what I need to get done around this. Thank you.

  4. #4 Karen
    July 5, 2011

    Thank you. You get it.

  5. #5 Tired woman
    July 5, 2011

    Thank you for this. I know exactly why men cross the street when I am walking alone, and I appreciate every single one of them for doing so. And yes, I am almost fifty. And yes, I’ve got plenty of stories. And I’ve thought maybe carrying a concealed weapon isn’t such a bad idea, except I don’t want to spend all my spare time learning how to properly use a gun since it is probably even more dangerous to have a gun you aren’t comfortable with than not, and I’m trying to lower the assault level, not increase it.

    So therefore I appreciate men who have the courtesy to cross the street and/or wait for the next elevator.

    Though I’ve also thought about getting a large scary looking dog.

  6. #6 Ana
    July 5, 2011

    There was violent language?? Huh. Thanks for writing this. And for crossing the street.

    @jaf: Why do they *always ask where we live?

  7. #7 dirk
    July 5, 2011

    So… you’re saying it’s a completely irrational fear. Gotcha. That’s all the guys were trying to say to begin with.

  8. #8 Don F
    July 5, 2011

    I remember working overtime, repairing medical equipment at a hospital . . . and at about 2AM going out to my car and seeing a woman about 100′ ahead of me turn back and see me on the way to the same parking lot. Her look of terror is still clear, sad to say. I wanted to go up to her and say, “It’s OK, I’m just going to my car,” but I knew that would be the wrong thing to do, so I waited until she was in her car and then went slowly to my car, giving her plenty of time to leave the lot.

    Sometimes the males of my species really disgust me. That was one of those times.

  9. #9 James Hrynyshyn
    July 5, 2011

    Best post on this subject to appear anywhere on the blogosphere to date. Here’s hoping the D-man reads it.

  10. #10 sailor
    July 5, 2011

    “that Rebecca Watson, in pointing this out to the clueless, was doing all women in the West a service.”

    Men also in my opinion. After all it was a men she was trying to educate

  11. #11 ppb
    July 5, 2011

    Very thoughtful and well written. I agree 100%. I don’t know why this is so hard for some people to understand.

  12. #12 ashleyfmiller
    July 5, 2011

    I didn’t know the crossing the street thing was a *thing*. I’ve only ever had it happen once, that a guy crossed the street when he was going to pass me, walking at night maybe a month ago. I almost cried with gratitude. I didn’t realize how tense I was until he just made it a non-issue by crossing the street. I wanted to yell out, “Thank you!” but thought it would be weird, so thank you!

  13. #13 I George
    July 5, 2011

    Ok, I’ve read a fair bit of this over the last few days. I think I get in the main, the dog analogy mostly works for me. I have a dog, I love dogs. Never trust a strange dog in an elevator. It’s caused me to think over some things.

    Post 8, Don F – “Sometimes the males of my species really disgust me. That was one of those times.”

    I don’t get this however, not in the context of your anecdote. Sometimes a male of my species disgusts me, sometimes a dog disgusts me. I don’t blame the rest as a whole when this happens.

  14. #14 SallyStrange
    July 5, 2011

    This weekend I went to a nude beach with my boyfriend. It was his first time, my fourth. Unfortunately there were a bunch of middle-aged dudes kind of congregating around the entrance to the beach and talking to Every Single Person who came through. Most of their conversation revolved around the fact that they were naked. BF was hesitant about getting in the water, so they urged him on and compared getting in the water to getting naked — “You have to do it all at once. Just get it over with!” They asked me what I thought of the temperature of the water, noting that I didn’t have any goosebumps. They pointed out that we’d be losing the sun on our little spot soon. They asked about my tattoo (a very small one at the top of my left breast). They complimented my breasts without coming out and saying, “nice breasts.” And here’s the kicker: they spoke to every person who was leaving too, and at one point expressed that “Hope we didn’t freak you out too much!”

    The likelihood that I was going to get sexually assaulted that very minute? Quite low. The likelihood that I’ll ever go back there by myself? About zero.

    Nothing happened to me. It was just words. But, as a woman, I felt alienated and excluded. Of course, they wanted to INCLUDE me — or, rather, they wanted to include my beautiful breasts. Not me, myself, SallyStrange the person. (And not my boyfriend, obviously.)

    Atheists should consider what they want their movement to look like. A bunch of lonely, pathetic, middle-aged single dudes? Because that’s what they’re sounding like right now. This incident has revealed to me that a lot of my favorite feminist bloggers are atheists also, but refuse to embrace the label because of precisely this sort of behavior. Now I’m considering how closely I want to ally myself with a movement that thinks it’s acceptable to shout a woman down when she has the temerity to ask to be treated as an equal.

    By the way, when I read Rebecca Watson’s account of the elevator incident to my boyfriend, verbatim, his first reaction was, “Wow, that’s really creepy.”

    What’s wrong with the rest of you?

  15. #15 Nemo
    July 5, 2011

    I totally understand why Rebecca Watson found that situation creepy, and why most other women would, too. At the same time, I can also guess why Elevator Guy did what he did. I’m thinking he was just shy.

    I’ve read several variations on “he had plenty of time to approach her in the bar, surrounded by her friends,” and it makes me think: Are you out of your minds? Get shot down in front of all those people? Because that’s what a shy guy thinks; that’s what he expects. The prospect of such humiliation… it’s too much to bear. Better to talk to her alone. He’ll still probably be shot down, but at least it will be less embarrassing. That’s all he’s thinking, although he should’ve thought further. He doesn’t mean to corner her, although that’s how it turns out. He doesn’t see that he’s stalking her, because he doesn’t see himself as threatening to anybody. He’s a shy guy, after all.

    I could be totally wrong about this, of course. And to reiterate… it’s not an excuse, I know.

  16. #16 netjaeger
    July 5, 2011

    Good eve,

    My ma is pushing twenty and several years ago she told me the same thing … about me.

    She noted that every woman has always been in the situation of being de facto less powerful, physically, than a man.
    She was kind of pissed off at a world that looked at her son as being a possible assaulter by default.

    So I let her know that I was trying to change, and to change things. …
    Ma loves me so she bought into it.

    tq

  17. #17 Saffron
    July 5, 2011

    “So… you’re saying it’s a completely irrational fear. Gotcha. That’s all the guys were trying to say to begin with.”

    No, he was saying the fear is perfectly rational. Just because it might be wrong doesn’t make it irrational.

    If she HAD been raped on the elevator, she’d have been criticized for being on an elevator alone with a man in a foreign country at 4 a.m.

  18. #18 Brigit
    July 5, 2011

    Damn, I wish more places would have a SAFE program. When I was growing up I tutored on public elementary schools during the summer. Once, while walking to my aunt’s house for lunch, I was accosted by a creepy middle age man on a pick-up truck. He started yelling very nasty shit and slowing up the truck more and more, as if he were going to side-park. I ran to the closest home with activity yelling ‘grandma, grandma!’ while fearing that the person/people in the house would be even less safe. Thankfully, an elderly woman came out, got me on her porch, and yelled at the sick bastard on the truck until he went away. I returned to the classroom without eating. I wasn’t 15 yet, and that wasn’t even the only time I was harassed or someone intended to assault me that summer.
    But yeah, I wish there had been a program like that when I’ve had to make a run for it while walking about.

  19. #19 Tom S
    July 5, 2011

    I wonder how many people (men mainly) are going to click on that last link and read the book. I read it years ago and it changed my life. (Mostly in a good way)

  20. #20 Helen
    July 5, 2011

    “It occurred to me some time ago that my knowledge of a woman having been sexually assaulted in the past is correlated with how much I know about that woman generally…. The point is that if you know a woman and don’t have knowledge of her prior sexual assault, that may not be because it didn’t happen. It just may be because you don’t know.”

    I wish that way more men got this.

    I very much appreciate the major points of the article. I don’t think, however, that, even though it might be amusing, and downright common to do so, that it’s okay to refer to any people as trash, even white people. I think you might be more careful in your description of your neighbors if they were poor, rough people of another color. I’m not crying “reverse racism” here. I’m saying it’s not okay to dehumanize people with labels, even if you feel threatened by them.

  21. #21 bks
    July 5, 2011

    Nemo is 100% correct. Most men will not ask a woman for a date in public for exactly the reason that Nemo explains. I fully accept that women feel threated by men, but what does EG’s question *add* to the threat? Rapists don’t ask you out for coffee first. OTOH, maybe they do. Over 75% of rapes are committed by acquaintances or family members.

    Now it is being suggested that after her highness spent all night regaling the crowd with her “don’t touch me there” act, EG was not only supposed to remain silent, but should have waited for the next elevator! Yow!

    –bks

  22. #22 Jim
    July 5, 2011

    Most men take care to have some consideration of women. The crossing over the street thing is certainly something I have done in the past. The problem is where to draw the line. Men are not mindreaders, and some women have completely irrational and paranoid fears, so one is bound to make a woman uncomfortable sooner or later, even if inadvertently. However, that is just life and you can’t go around complaining about everything that makes you uncomfortable because we all share this world, and not everything revolves around your own personal foibles.

    For example, maybe a woman was raped by a man wearing a leather jacket. She is now afraid of men wearing leather jackets. Understandable perhaps, but that is her foible and no man can possibly know that or be expected to behave differently because of it.

  23. #23 bioephemera
    July 5, 2011

    Thank you for this one, Greg.

  24. #24 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2011

    Helen,

    Thanks for that comment. I’m shocked that it took ca 20 comments before someone pointed this out. I admit to trolling.

    My neighbors include many great people and trash. All are of roughly similar socioeconomic background. And I use the word trash advisedly and specifically to refer to the latter group which includes the white supremacists and the guys with the “Get her drunk and get her done” bumper stickers. So “trash” is probably a bad word to use because it does have other non-specific and classist meanings.

  25. #25 DataJack
    July 5, 2011

    Well said, Greg.

  26. #26 Mattir OM
    July 5, 2011

    Thank you. As I’ve said elsewhere, I have never lost so much respect for a person as I did with those 3 posts by Dawkins. Makes me wish I could get back the hour I spent waiting in line for him to sign my copy of Ancestors’ Tale.

  27. #27 JohnV
    July 5, 2011

    Ok so at work when I’m waiting for the elevator (7th floor, zzz) if there’s a woman already waiting should I not take that elevator and wait for another one? If I’m there first and a woman comes do the same rules apply?

  28. #28 Sam
    July 5, 2011

    Thank you.

  29. #29 Pierce R. Butler
    July 5, 2011

    So you just drove away and left an apparently rabid dog roaming your neighborhood?

    How SAFE is that?

  30. #30 daedalus2u
    July 5, 2011

    People who say she should not have been stressed have not a clue what PTSD does. I was abused as a child, physically and psychologically by my older siblings. I can’t stay more than a couple of days in the house where the abuse happened in because my stress level gets too high. It is purely a somatic reaction at an autonomic level that I have absolutely no control over. My younger brother lives there now with his family and I have no difficulty with him. I could spend 24/7 with him and it would not stress me out at all, just not in the house that we grew up in.

    That stuff happens at a subconscious level. There is no conscious control over it. You might be able to block it with beta blockers, but then adrenaline won’t work if you need it.

    Trauma causes neuronal remodeling that has life-long effects. It is a reflex to get a racing heart and trigger the fight-or-flight response. That response also changes cognitive abilities. It isn’t that you get stupid, what you get is paranoid, hyper-vigilant, seeing severe danger where there might only be modest danger. Your logical brain turns off because you don’t have time or mental space for the cumbersome algorithms of logic while in the fight-or-flight state. What turns on is the more primitive pre-logical brain, the brain that all vertebrates have and use to escape from predators. Once fight-or-flight has been triggered, you can’t be a skeptic any more. You default back to systems with less cognitive overhead.

    If you intimidate someone, and trigger their fight-or-flight state, so they can’t respond with skepticism, that doesn’t mean that you have “won” the argument because they stopped being a skeptic, it means you lost the argument by ending it by being a dick.

    There is a good book, Gauvin de Becker, The gift of fear.

    http://www.amazon.com/Gift-Fear-Gavin-Becker/dp/0440226198

    Some of his other books are good too.

  31. #31 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2011

    Pierce: THAT is a whole nuther story. But a bit of a distraction from the point at hand!

  32. #32 Stephanie Z
    July 5, 2011

    daedalus2u, beta blockers block some of the action of adrenaline, but not all of it (personal experience). I wouldn’t advise on that basis against someone who can be helped by them getting them.

  33. #33 Elizabeth
    July 5, 2011

    JohnV, is your office building busy? Do you work at night with only a few people in the building? See footnotes about nuance and context in the OP.

  34. #34 Brian Carnell
    July 5, 2011

    I like how you really cut to the chase with this:

    “. . . most women are justifiably afraid of men.”

    Really? Justifiably? Interesting.

    Three things:

    1. Its interesting that someone like Sondrah goes along with this and says well, you know, sometimes stereotypes are statistics. True, but really?

    For example, if I am in an elevator with a Black man, I know that the odds are significantly higher that he has a prison record compared to a white man. Do I get to say, “hey, if I’m at a skeptic convention and you’re Black, please don’t approach me in an elevator at 4 in the morning? That would just be creepy.”

    As a general rule, I don’t cross the street to avoid gatherings of urban youth, but I certainly know people who do and believe they are completely rational in doing so.

    2. It is also annoying to read long screeds about sexual assault which seem to have as their starting premise that sexual assault is something that *only* happens to women and therefore the audience of men reading the post must be reeducated to understand the risk that is apparently borne only by women in our society. Sexual assaults where men are the victim are far more common than you seem to realize (and we’re atheists, right — hello, Catholic Church! … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg).

    I have been sexually assaulted and have also been propositioned by a man I barely knew late late at night in a circumstance where I was definitely not expecting it and the guy could have easily kick my ass if he wanted to. I’m not sure why I should have thought “aha! another creepy potential rapist” (and yes, I turned him down, and yes, he was very cool about it.)

    I think the one thing that comes through all of the debate about Elevator Guy is the extent to which Americans as a culture vastly overestimate their risk of being victim of a violent crime. We’ve elevated “stranger danger” to an art form.

    (I think a bigger issue is the manners-related issue of the sheer # of such propositions and the feeling that women might get that they’re being seen purely as sexualized beings…for example, I bet Dawkins would get annoyed at some point if he had women who constantly ignored the content of his talk and instead pestered him about going back to his room for coffee…might be an interesting to get an organized group of men and women together somewhere where Dawkins is scheduled and see how he likes being propositioned a couple dozen times an hour .. #justsaying).

    Finally, there is something I really don’t understand here. Let me preface this by saying I haven’t been to any atheist conventions, but I have been top plenty of nerd conventions.

  35. #35 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2011

    Brian, I explicitly refer here to sexual assault among adults.

    Reread, rethink, get back to us.

  36. #36 JohnV
    July 5, 2011

    @Elizabeth

    The elevator I use is not constantly busy and the place where people get on and off are not busy except for people getting on and off the elevators. At various times (8-9 AM, 12-1PM, 4:30-5:30 PM) it is not uncommon for there to be a woman either on it or waiting for it.

    But does time really matter? It seems like it would be me abusing my male privledge to assume women in general only get assault late at night. I certainly have know way of knowing the previous history of any given woman on the elevator.

    But I can revise my question if it will help arrive at an answer. When I arrive at work first thing in the morning or a night when I work late (research life = sucky) should I wait and not get on the elevator if there is a woman waiting?

    What if it’s the weekend, when there are fewer people around?

    As there are testimonials up thread about how grateful women are when a man crosses the street at night to avoid going anywhere near them I honestly want to know if I should not ride in the elevator if there’s a woman on it.

  37. #37 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2011

    JohnV, The gratitude that women have expressed above is not, I assume for the crossing of the street, but rather, for understanding the situation (and thus, in those instances, crossing the street). Please see footnote 4, as Elizabeth suggests. It’s all about context; There is no exact formula, really.

    You must know some women where you work. Bring this up with them. Talk to a few of the women you know who use this elevator about their comfort level. If the first response you get is something like “Oh, heck, there’s no problem, don’t even worry about it” then don’t automatically assume that the issue is settled; People often let their own inclination to be polite stop them from saying what they probably should say at first. If you make even a modest and sincere effort to find out and give it some time and thought, you’ll know what to do eventually and soon you’ll be guru for your fellow males.

  38. #38 Sondrah
    July 5, 2011

    Brian, making a comparison of a black man to a former offender is not the type of stereotype I even implied. We know the man in the elevator was after sex, we know he was intoxicated. Those two additional factors are what would enable her to stereotype him as a potential risk, not to mention the confined, inescapable space.

    Had you said a black man with a prison tat and wearing colors, then you’d be justified in turning your assumption into a stereotype that would indicate the need for caution.

  39. #39 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2011

    …would enable her to stereotype him as a potential risk, not to mention the confined, inescapable space.

    And I would even say not ‘stereotype’ but just ‘evaluate’

    Furthermore, Brian, I mean really. For fuck sake.

    Thank you Sondrah.

  40. #40 surgoshan
    July 5, 2011

    JohnV has raised an interesting question, and I don’t say that just because we share a first name.

    1) Greg, great post. I’ve only recently discovered your blog, but you’ve wowed me time and again with insightful, well-delivered comments. Keep it up!

    2) To the ladies who have commented, JohnV’s comments have got me thinking. Getting on an elevator alone with a man late at night would make you uncomfortable; this I perfectly understand and appreciate. If you were to suddenly receive a call on your phone and answer it, I might assume you were faking it so you could avoid an uncomfortable situation and I wouldn’t be offended (I’m kind of a big guy).

    But what would you think if, instead, I offered you an elevator to yourself? “All yours; don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I’ll take the next one.”

    Would that be good? Bad? Would you view it as a chivalrous gesture like holding a door? Or would it add more creep factor because I’ve thought of the creep factor and maybe I’m avoiding it now so I can do more bad things later…?!

    I’m curious about this specifically and more generally because, while I’m aware of the difficulties you face and male privilege on a general, intellectual level, I’m worried that I don’t really understand them on a gut level. I’m certain that if I was alone in an elevator with a woman and said *anything* to try and reassure her that that would only creep her so far out that she would get off at the next floor and run (well, maybe).

    Basically, when it comes to elevators or stairwells or parking garages… is there any way I can cross the street?

  41. #41 V. infernalis
    July 5, 2011

    Sondrah,

    Unless you’re privy to a source of information that we’re not, we know neither of those things.

  42. #42 Connie
    July 5, 2011

    I’ve been following this story for a few days now, and wanted to put in my 2 cents. I don’t know any of the people involved, including commenters. My perspective is from what I would call the more political part of atheism. I think a strong, robust community of atheists is the only “team” that can effectively reduce the oppressive influence of organized religion on education, scientific progress, gay rights, and women’s rights.

    From my facebook atheist circles, there appears to be two major communities within atheism: Scientists and people fighting religious oppression. Of course, the overlap is significant. The Scientific side spends most of their time proving evolution (and global warming, origin of the universe, etc.) and tying that to disproving Bible and other religious mythologies. The fighting oppression side is more motivated by the knowledge that the powerful institution responsible for all homophobia and the oppression of women, among other damaging oppressions, is religion.

    The part of the community that is all but exclusively scientifically driven (I haven’t read his offending posts, but Dawkins would be in this group, I suppose) needs to understand that they need to do everything they can to be as respectful as possible towards women atheists. If they can’t do that, atheism will never become a political force.

    Atheism has a chance to show society what a fair and just and equal community can be and do. Committing itself to respecting women (maybe by overcoming and condemning those maddening urges that Evolutionary Psychology often seems to be rationalizing) will do much to strengthen our community and our political organizing while weakening the grip religion has on so many in our world.

    Women have a compelling story to tell about the relentless oppression of the patriarchy. A patriarchy that has been propped up by religion for centuries. This story should be front and center in any atheistic argument. Without it, the community will devolve into disjointed communities prone to circular firing squads. The patriarchy will do everything it can to preserve its power. The patriarchy sees the rise of women in atheism as a double threat to its continued existence. If anything, atheists should celebrate, support and elevate women to positions of visibility and influence and leadership at every opportunity as our movement continues to grow and gain power.

  43. #43 Ibis3
    July 5, 2011

    Nemo is 100% correct. Most men will not ask a woman for a date in public for exactly the reason that Nemo explains.

    There are options in between in public in front of a multitude and in an enclosed, isolated space in the middle of the night.

    I fully accept that women feel threated by men, but what does EG’s question *add* to the threat? Rapists don’t ask you out for coffee first. OTOH, maybe they do. Over 75% of rapes are committed by acquaintances or family members.

    OK. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Elevator Guy is *not* a nice guy. He’s a bit of a jerk. Not only that but he’s been drinking so his normal jerkitude is ramped up a notch or two. Rebecca doesn’t know this, so she says “No thanks. I’m tired.” (for the record, repeating what she already said in the bar). Now the real EG dropped it there, but if he were a jerk who didn’t like taking no for an answer? He could then have said something like “Well, we don’t have to drink coffee, why don’t you come back to my room and we’ll find something else for you to drink.” or he could have said “What’s the matter? You frigid, bitch?” or he could be the rapist who decides that if he’s not going to get her back to his room for a date rape scenario, he better get what he can now. In other words, a rejection can be an escalation of the situation: an invitation to press and pressure or to subdue by means of verbal or physical abuse. The woman can’t tell. The question puts her in a position of having to say no to someone who might be even more dangerous if refused.

    Now it is being suggested that after her highness spent all night regaling the crowd with her “don’t touch me there” act,

    I’m obviously not writing this for your benefit because you’re one of the misogynists who thinks that women shouldn’t have the right not to be treated as objects.

    EG was not only supposed to remain silent, but should have waited for the next elevator! Yow!

    All reasonable options:

    1. He could have taken another elevator and not propositioned someone who just finished giving a speech about how strangers hitting on her makes her feel objectified.

    2. When she indicated that she was leaving the bar to go to bed, he could have asked if he could speak to her for a minute and drawn her a bit from the crowd (still within sight of other people) and suggested to go for a coffee somewhere public to talk with her the next day.

    3. He could have taken the elevator with her and talked to her as a human being instead of as a hook up, thus setting the foundation for further friendly conversation (or perhaps more) the next day or in the future.

    4. He could have taken the elevator with her, smiled and said good night & wishing her a good sleep.

    5. He could have taken the elevator and said nothing and stood apart from her in a non-threatening manner.

    There are situations other than this one where a more aggressive flirtation/proposition might have been acceptable, but never proposition a woman in an elevator unless you’ve got an already established relationship or she makes the first move.

  44. #44 JohnV
    July 5, 2011

    Greg I’m very uncomfortable with speaking to strangers (which adds an amusing level to this conversation :p) and the prospect of walking to someone and starting any conversation, let alone one that ends up with “does my presence make you fearful” seems unlikely.

    This of course is one reason why asking people on the internet is a preferable option.

    I could ask the women who work in the same lab I do, but at this point I hope they feel reasonably comfortable in my presence and not in fear of me. Also, at least 1 of them would probably shank me if I tried anything :p

    With minimal effort I can come up with a properly worded question involving unknown people on the elevator (to avoid the politeness issue) and assume it applies to known people as well?

  45. #45 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2011

    Connie, you’ve hit several nails on he head, thanks.

    I should point out that the original “naming of names” event happend at the CFI (Center for Inquirer) which I associate with skepticism, not atheism. In the two-part world of atheism you define the “science” part overlaps with (almost perfectly) the “skeptical community.”

    It is within the skeptical community that we find entrenched racism and sexism. This became an “atheist” thing mainly, perhaps, when Richard Dawkins jumped in. And, of course, there is all sorts of overlap. Rebecca was “Blasphemy challenge” girl and founded the Skepchick blog and organization … can’t get much more overlapped than that.

    I think of myself as a “skeptic” but as of late I am explicit not a member of the “skeptics” community. I’m a critic of it. It dates to the middle ages when it comes to social awareness. It is in fact rather embarrassing.

    Some of the energy you see in this disucssion is, I think, pent up frustration with the community coming to the surface.

    surgoshan: Good questoins. See footnote 4. There is a need for this conversation (locally, mainly) to develop an understanding of context.

    Personally I agree that “you get on the elevator, I’ll wait in the hall” is a bit odd in a normal work setting during regular hours.

  46. #46 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2011

    JohnV: LOL (but it’s nervous laughter).

    I was thinking you would talk to the women you work with. They are the people to talk to. Don’t talk to the people who fear you. They will hit you. Also, consider wearing a “stab proof” vest for the first few weeks of this experiment. You can get them in police supply stores.

    But seriously, just talk to the people you work with. Email your coworkers this post and say “hey,can we have this conversation?” That will allow a smooth transition from internet to meatspace.

  47. #47 daedalus2u
    July 5, 2011

    Stephanie, yes, I know. I was on propranalol for a fairly short time, but it was very strange to not have these somatic feelings in circumstances where they were “normal” and expected.

  48. #48 Ibis3
    July 5, 2011

    @Jon & surgoshan

    If you’re unknown to a woman and there aren’t other people around, yes, I think it would be seen as courteous to take another elevator. You don’t have to say anything if you do, or you could say something like what Jon suggested: “It’s okay, I’ll take the next one.” If you’re already in the elevator and she gets in with you, keep your physical distance and give her the side with the buttons.

    In a parking garage or stairwell? I think the best thing (in a world of bad things), is just to ignore the fact that she’s there. Go about your business. Don’t look at her if you can help it. Maybe even pull out your cell and pretend to be talking to someone. The more preoccupied with yourself you seem, the less of a threat you seem. Some one else may have better advice than me. That’s the best I’ve got.

  49. #49 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “Get out of my way, Bitch, I’m walking down the street and I don’t care that trammeling past you is going to freak you out. Your problem. What are you doing out in the middle of the night by yourself anyway? Oh, if I was asked over for coffee at 4AM in the morning in Ireland on an elevators, I’d see it as a complement!”

    Seriously? That’s how you’re painting the people who disagree with you? I’ve never heard of this crossing the street rule, so I must be a misogynistic asshat who refers to women as “Bitch”?

    About a year ago, a student at Weber State University did a survey of female college students’ preferences for sitting on the bus. What she found was that girls preferred to sit alone, away from other people. If that wasn’t an option, they preferred to sit next to other girls. If that wasn’t an option, they preferred to sit next to men who were either reading or listening to music, as those were signs that these guys probably wouldn’t bother them.

    Are you suggesting that all men who ride the bus carry books and iPods with them, and break them out in these scenarios just to nonverbally communicate “I’m not going to proposition you! Really, I swear!” Maybe next time I ride a crowded elevator in a hotel, and a woman and I get off at the same floor, I should just step back on and ride up and down a few more floors to create a comfortable distance. If I’m brought to a waiting room whose only occupant is a woman, should I just go back to the desk and reschedule?

    There is a difference between treating people with respect and handling them with kid gloves. Attacking anyone who doesn’t adhere to this crossing the street rule (What if there’s no crosswalk? What if it’s a busy street? How busy is too busy? What if I stop to consider that crossing a street at night, you know, when it’s dark, maybe isn’t the safest idea? What if jaywalking laws are enforced? What if there’s a woman approaching on both sides of the street?) is ridiculous.

  50. #50 SallyStrange
    July 6, 2011

    Kid gloves. My ass. Fucking douchnozzle.

    Would a man treat a man the way EG treated RW?

    No, and if he did nobody would disagree that it was rude and creepy.

    Look, until straight guys get off their fucking asses and work to change this rape culture that we’re all living in then yes, the onus is on you to show that you’re considerate, kind, and yes, not rapey.

    Don’t like? Then be a feminist and change society so women aren’t living in fear. Otherwise, STFU and stop complaining about it. Fuckers.

  51. #51 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “Look, until straight guys get off their fucking asses and work to change this rape culture that we’re all living in then yes, the onus is on you to show that you’re considerate, kind, and yes, not rapey.”

    I demonstrate that every day. I do it by treating people the way I want to be treated, by being kind and courteous and respectful, and by not raping anyone.

  52. #52 Glendon Mellow
    July 6, 2011

    Thank you Greg. And thank you Stephanie Z: I don’t want to add a comment to what should be a list of signatures on your own post, but it was very well written and hard to read.

    Whole thing makes me sick. Dawkins is something of a personal hero of mine, and I found his comments pretty shocking and outrageous.

    Thanks for the writing you both do.

  53. #53 SallyStrange
    July 6, 2011

    Then follow it the fuck up by not whining about a woman giving a bunch of fellow atheists a helpful tip about how not to alienate women from the movement.

    Also, refrain from beating on strawpeople.

  54. #54 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “Then follow it the fuck up by not whining about a woman giving a bunch of fellow atheists a helpful tip about how not to alienate women from the movement. ”

    Where did I whine about that? At all?

    I’ve got no problem with her outing the asshat who propositioned her. What I have a problem with is this notion that at the first sight of a woman we should all fall all over ourselves to communicate to her that “REALLY, I SWEAR, I’M NOT GOING TO RAPE YOU!”

  55. #55 Ibis3
    July 6, 2011

    Seriously? That’s how you’re painting the people who disagree with you? I’ve never heard of this crossing the street rule, so I must be a misogynistic asshat who refers to women as “Bitch”?

    No, you’re a misogynistic asshat because you’d rather complain and defend your behaviour and trivialise the valid concerns of other human beings than mildly inconvenience yourself in order to make those other people less afraid. Or even better, rather than defend the position of and become allies with those that have to go through life at constant risk of sexual assault and systemic dehumanisation/objectification.

    You’re worse than the clueless because you get it and you still think you should keep your privilege at the expense of others.

  56. #56 Ibis3
    July 6, 2011

    Oh, and I liked SallyStrange’s response better than mine.

  57. #57 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “No, you’re a misogynistic asshat because you’d rather complain and defend your behaviour and trivialise the valid concerns of other human beings than mildly inconvenience yourself in order to make those other people less afraid. Or even better, rather than defend the position of and become allies with those that have to go through life at constant risk of sexual assault and systemic dehumanisation/objectification.

    You’re worse than the clueless because you get it and you still think you should keep your privilege at the expense of others. ”

    I’m not defending my behavior, because I’ve done nothing that requires defending. I ride elevators. I walk down sidewalks. I generally try to cross streets at crosswalks, because I like not getting hit by cars. I fail to see how you can turn something like that into an example of trivializing women.

    I’m not complaining about the practice. If men want to cross the street, great. Good for them. It’s no skin off my back. But to suggest that any man who doesn’t is a monster is ridiculous.

  58. #58 Ibis3
    July 6, 2011

    I demonstrate that every day. I do it by treating people the way I want to be treated, by being kind and courteous and respectful, and by not raping anyone.

    I’ve discovered your problem. You should (generally) treat people the way they want to be treated. Women are telling you how they want to be treated, and you’re ignoring them and dismissing them. That is not kind, not courteous, and not respectful.

  59. #59 SallyStrange
    July 6, 2011

    Yes you are fucking whining. You’re doing it all over. “Oooohh poor me, I can’t walk down the street without frightening some silly woman who wants me to treat her with kid gloves! OOoooohhh poor me I don’t know if I can talk to a woman without her seeing me as a sexual predator! WHAT SHALL EVER I DO???!!?”

    Here’s some smelling salts and a fainting couch. Pearls are available if you need something to clutch.

    Yes, men should be more respectful towards women. That includes being respectful of the fact that it’s different being a woman, thanks to our sexist, rape culture, and woman have different responses to the same stimuli that men do.

    If a man says, “X made me uncomfortable, please don’t do X again,” do you demonstrate your respect for him by

    a.) Immediately inquiring WHY he felt uncomfortable and then explaining to him why his reaction was in error, and his emotions are inappropriate and invalid, at least compared to yours

    b.) Ridiculing him by accusing him of being oversensitive and wanting to be handled with kid gloves

    c.) Saying, “Gosh I never saw it that way before, I’ll have to think about it, but I’ll definitely make an effort to avoid doing X again. Do you mind helping me understand because this is really something I know nothing about…” Or something along those lines.

    This is not a trick question!

  60. #60 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “I’ve discovered your problem. You should (generally) treat people the way they want to be treated. Women are telling you how they want to be treated, and you’re ignoring them and dismissing them. That is not kind, not courteous, and not respectful.”

    When I say I treat people the way I want to be treated, what I mean is I don’t bother them. At all. I’m someone who once suffered from and is now recovering from crippling social phobias. I’m one of the guys who rides the bus with headphones on, because I don’t want to be bothered. I don’t want to be bothered, and I don’t want people bothering me.

    As a general rule, I don’t talk to ANYONE on a bus, sidewalk or elevator. Doesn’t matter if they’re a man or a woman. My general philosophy is “You leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone.”

  61. #61 SallyStrange
    July 6, 2011

    Well if you don’t do any of those things AngryNoodle, then why the fuck are you so defensive about it? This is NOT ABOUT YOU.

  62. #62 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “If a man says, “X made me uncomfortable, please don’t do X again,” do you demonstrate your respect for him by

    a.) Immediately inquiring WHY he felt uncomfortable and then explaining to him why his reaction was in error, and his emotions are inappropriate and invalid, at least compared to yours

    b.) Ridiculing him by accusing him of being oversensitive and wanting to be handled with kid gloves

    c.) Saying, “Gosh I never saw it that way before, I’ll have to think about it, but I’ll definitely make an effort to avoid doing X again. Do you mind helping me understand because this is really something I know nothing about…” Or something along those lines.

    This is not a trick question!”

    Depends on what the request is. If he says “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t use that kind of language around me”, I’d stop. If he said “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t wear the blue jeans anymore”, I’d think he was crazy.

    Not wanting men to proposition you in an elevator is completely understandable. Not wanting to walk on the same sidewalk as a man is not.

  63. #63 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “Well if you don’t do any of those things AngryNoodle, then why the fuck are you so defensive about it? This is NOT ABOUT YOU. ”

    Because what’s being suggested here, by you and by Greg, is that all things being equal, the onus is on me to demonstrate that I’m not going to rape you. I fail to see the sense in that.

  64. #64 bks
    July 6, 2011

    Ibis3: L’Oreal had revenues of over $20 billion last year. I think I can honestly say that I have never objectified any woman more than she has objectified herself.

    –bks

  65. #65 bad Jim
    July 6, 2011

    I’ve many times crossed the street or changed my route to avoid coming up on someone from behind. For what it’s worth, the sex of the person ahead of you isn’t always obvious, but for that matter it sometimes frightens guys as well. It’s pretty obviously good not to make someone else feel bad.

    Nice to know that I’m not the only one wondering what happened with the dog.

  66. #66 SallyStrange
    July 6, 2011

    Not wanting men to proposition you in an elevator is completely understandable. Not wanting to walk on the same sidewalk as a man is not.

    What is understandable or not to AngryNoodle is unfortunately not the determining factor in how most women respond to situations where they’re isolated and a strange man is approaching them.

    Bizarre, isn’t it?

  67. #67 Ibis3
    July 6, 2011

    When I say I treat people the way I want to be treated, what I mean is I don’t bother them. At all.

    Except, through no fault of your own, what would not bother a man can bother a woman. All we’re asking is that you men keep that in mind and act accordingly. If you know that certain things bother women which wouldn’t bother men and you do them anyway, that’s on you and puts you into the class of asshats.

  68. #68 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “What is understandable or not to AngryNoodle is unfortunately not the determining factor in how most women respond to situations where they’re isolated and a strange man is approaching them.”

    True enough. It doesn’t change the problem, though.

    Why is the onus on me to demonstrate that I’m not going to rape you? Why is it assumed that if I don’t cross the street, there must be something wrong with me?

  69. #69 surgoshan
    July 6, 2011

    Ibis 3. Thank you. That is exactly what I needed to hear. The only way to convince a woman that I’m not a threat to her is to be actively engaged in something that in no way involves her.

    One of my previous posts, I think, indicated that I wouldn’t be insulted if a woman faked a phone call in order to not get on an elevator with me.

    And now I can do exactly the same in order to let a woman get away from me.

    Granted, it’s not perfect (women will still feel threatened by me), but now I have a good excuse to, as it were, cross the street. I can fake the phone call and give women the freedom to escape uncomfortable situations.

    At an elevator, she doesn’t have to pretend to receive a phone call to avoid me, I can pretend to receive a phone call so she doesn’t have to.

    I love that.

    It’s like the guy who invented the high-heel shoe inventing the excuse where guys can’t stay seated if a woman is standing. So liberating.

    Because, for all I want strive to be a liberal feminist at heart, I was raised in a Southern Baptist home…

    In many ways, this one does pass by on the other side… when he can.

  70. #70 ManBitesDog
    July 6, 2011

    So, what you’re saying is that all men should be approached as if they are rabid dogs until proved otherwise.

    Right… no. That’s not acceptable. Where I live, a disproportionate amount of crime is committed by black people, does that mean I should look at every black person as a potential mugger? We live in a theft culture right? Video games, movies, music, advertising, the media, all glorify theft and crime.

    I don’t like sexism. I don’t like racism. I don’t care who it’s against; treating people like rapists because they happen to be men is no different than treating people like thieves because they happen to be black.

    And just to be clear: I’m not disagreeing with RW, I think her response was fairly appropriate to the situation, I’m disagreeing with *you* and this insane notion that it’s appropriate to treat someone as a rapist based on nothing more than their gender.

  71. #71 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “Except, through no fault of your own, what would not bother a man can bother a woman. All we’re asking is that you men keep that in mind and act accordingly. If you know that certain things bother women which wouldn’t bother men and you do them anyway, that’s on you and puts you into the class of asshats.”

    That makes sense. I’m certainly not planning on approaching women on sidewalks at night out of spite or anything. I wasn’t aware that this was an issue, and now that I am, I’ve got no problem crossing the street (crosswalk permitting, of course). I generally don’t go out of my way to make people uncomfortable. If anything, I go out of my way to not be noticed.

    The issue I have with this thing is that it sounds like what’s being argued by some people (Sally among them) is that I should go above and beyond just to prove that I’m not going to rape you. The assumption being that I am a rapist until proven otherwise.

  72. #72 Chris
    July 6, 2011

    JohnV, go ahead and get in the elevator if there is a woman you do not know. But use basic elevator etiquette by staring at the door and ignoring the woman. Shuffle through some papers, text on your phone, listen intently to a podcast on your mp3 player or read a magazine as an indication that you are preoccupied with your own life.

    If she asks you to push a button for a certain floor, just say “okay”, and push the button. If she reaches across you to push the button herself, just step back and say “Oh, sorry.”

    A few years ago my twelve year old daughter and I got into an elevator after leaving the apartment of her friend in the middle of the day. A young man got in and just stared at us. It was very creepy.

    There are some societal rules that we use to make people feel more comfortable. I am pretty sure the young man had no ill intention, but it made us feel a bit out of sorts. Since the apartment building was near an art school, for all we knew was that he was absorbing some kind of artistic concept of a woman with her daughter.

    Many years ago, which were three children and several more pounds than I can think of ago: I got a similar proposition that was offered by “Elevator Guy.” Except is was an older man, it was in the middle of the day, at work and with an audience of a male co-worker. After providing an older engineer with some data and technical help he propositioned me.

    I remember my reaction to this included being all of the following: speechless, slack-jawed and wide-eyed. The elder man left. My co-worker, another engineer my age, was also shocked. All I could say was “Save me from dirty old men.” The other engineer seemed to whisper “WTF.” All we could figure out was that the guy had no idea how to deal with professional women, expect for a certain kind of “professional woman.”

    I guess there has been some improvement in over twenty-five years. Those guys who think with their little head wait until after midnight, a closed environment and no audience.

  73. #73 surgoshan
    July 6, 2011

    Now I realize I may not have been clear. If I find myself in an awkward position, I don’t have to wait for her to find an excuse to pull away; I can do so myself. I can fake a phone call and let her take the elevator by herself. No threats. I love that.

  74. #74 Greg Laden
    July 6, 2011

    I guess I need to point out that we are not speaking here of how the metaphorical person treats the metaphorical dog. we are speaking of how the metaphorical do treats the metaphorical person. The race card, played as it is being played here, is worthy of bringing up (because, frankly, it almost always is worthy of bringing up) but it fails to be relevant.

    This is not about stereotyping. That should be obvious.

    Please read the post carefully, and please do not neglect the footnotes.

  75. #75 SallyStrange
    July 6, 2011

    Because what’s being suggested here, by you and by Greg, is that all things being equal, the onus is on me to demonstrate that I’m not going to rape you. I fail to see the sense in that.

    So you’d rather have me in fear, wondering if you’re about to rape me? You’re sounding nicer and nicer. No wonder you keep to yourself a lot.

  76. #76 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “So you’d rather have me in fear, wondering if you’re about to rape me? You’re sounding nicer and nicer. No wonder you keep to yourself a lot.”

    I’d rather you not assume that every man who gets on an elevator with you, or walks on the same sidewalk as you, is a potential rapist.

    What was suggested above by Chris is completely reasonable. Getting on the elevator, pressing my floor, then minding my own business. Staring forward, reading my newspaper, listening to my music, whatever. And when I approach anyone on a sidewalk, night or day, man or woman, old or young, I instinctively step off onto the grass or the curb to give them the right of way. There are things you can do, in elevators, on sidewalks, anywhere really, to show the other person that you are keeping a respectable distance and minding your own business, that don’t involve running across the street or catching the next elevator.

    And even then, as I said above, knowing that it’s an issue now, I’m OK with it. I’m never in such a hurry that I can’t wait for the next elevator. But the idea that it’s reasonable for a woman to think “This guy might rape me” every time she passes a man on a sidewalk or in an elevator is nonsense. It is not reasonable to assume that every man is a rapist until proven otherwise.

  77. #77 coffeycake
    July 6, 2011

    AngryNoodle, maybe I can help clear this up somewhat. I’m walking down the street alone at night, trying to get home. I’m a young woman, a rape survivor, and have had numerous bad experiences with men. I also have asthma and injuries to my left tibia and ankle that cause me to walk slowly. (I’m not even exaggerating, here. This is me.)
    You are walking behind me, in a hurry. You want to pass me while walking. This means that you have to be creepily behind me, then beside me. Like in the post, there are any number of points at which you could hit me over the head and drag me away.
    Now, how am I supposed to know that you won’t do that, as we’re strangers? How am I supposed to trust that you won’t do that, given my background? The onus cannot be on ME to figure out that you’re not going to hurt me, because by the time I do figure it out, it may be too late and I may be attacked. So, YES, the assumption IS that you’re a rapist until proven otherwise, because if I assume that every guy is NOT a rapist until proven otherwise… well, let’s just say it was trusting that a guy wasn’t a rapist is what got me raped in the first place and leave it at that. (And I do blame myself somewhat for that trust.)
    It’s not fair, and I admit it, but the onus HAS TO BE on you, because I have no way of knowing whether or not you’re as good a guy as you say you are here. I have no way to ascertain that you’re not going to pull me back by the hair and rape and/or murder me.
    There are no other options that I can see. I could carry mace and spray it in your eyes for no reason. I could learn self-defense so I can beat the crap out of you if you make me uncomfortable. Or is it just easier for all involved if you slow down or cross the street? I could have a full-blown panic attack in an elevator, or is it easier for you to let me have the side with the buttons and not say anything, even a compliment to try to make me feel better? (That has happened, and I was embarrassed afterward and apologized to the guy, but I can’t help my triggers.)
    I get that you’re, in all likelihood, not a rapist. I understand that, and you have every right to be annoyed. But women like me HAVE to paint you this way in that sort of situation. Please, don’t blame us for that reaction. It’s not the fault of the women, or the good guys. The problem is that, as a stranger, a good guy is not immediately discernible from a rapist. I would never assume that a guy was a rapist if I could tell the difference on sight. I don’t enjoy worrying for my life every time a guy walks too close behind me. I don’t LIKE this, and it’s not fair to any of us. It’s a judgment call that I have to make, and I’m sorry, but my safety is more important than whether or not you’re offended. I don’t know that any man walking behind me or joining me in an elevator isn’t a rapist, no matter how awesome that guy actually is. ‘Cause I don’t know that guy and I can’t trust him. Does that make sense?
    I’m really sorry if it offends you. No snark intended; I really am sorry. I just can’t act any other way, for my own safety.

  78. #78 Sylvia Sybil
    July 6, 2011

    I’d rather you not assume that every man who gets on an elevator with you, or walks on the same sidewalk as you, is a potential rapist.

    Guess what? You don’t get to set other people’s boundaries for them. You don’t get to decide what’s an acceptable level of risk for others. Assuming everyone I see could hurt me and calculating my odds of staying unhurt is routine for me and a helluva lot of other women. It’s how we survive. You don’t want women assuming that men will rape them? Then do something about all the rapists. Don’t put it on us.

  79. #79 Flora Poste
    July 6, 2011

    Actually I think the race card as it’s being played here is pretty offensive. Since we’re fond of perspective, how is being told “Hey that’s kind of a jerk move” compare to being profiled for driving, walking, or shopping while black or brown, by people with actual guns and uniforms and stuff? People who might get a few years inside, max, for shooting you stone cold dead in the back as you lie on the ground?

  80. #80 Ibis3
    July 6, 2011

    My last comment of the night. I gotta get some sleep.

    @ surgoshan: Glad to be of help. Talking to (or pretending to) talk to your wife/girlfriend/mother in an affectionate, respectful manner is probably the best signal that you’re not interested in being rapey with the woman in your presence.

    @ AngryNoodle (but appropriate as an answer to ManBitesDog)

    The issue I have with this thing is that it sounds like what’s being argued by some people (Sally among them) is that I should go above and beyond just to prove that I’m not going to rape you. The assumption being that I am a rapist until proven otherwise.

    Okay. In a perfect world, or even in a less patriarchal one, this wouldn’t be the case. But in this world, we women really do have to continuously evaluate every man as a potential rapist. Not just strangers. Friends, relatives, co-workers, bosses. Husbands and boyfriends. The more familiar we are with a guy, the more free of this we can be (assuming of course that there are have been no signals of abusive behaviour). I don’t want to do that. I know that most guys don’t rape. But I also know that enough of them do that sexual assault is common. Every woman I’ve ever met in real life and online, when the subject has come up, has told a story about rape, molestation, unwanted groping, physical abuse, or threats of rape of which she has been the victim.

    Imagine that we lived in a city where dogs were free to roam at large and there were strays wandering about everywhere. Now, most dogs are harmless, many of them being even better than harmless–good, friendly dogs. But, say, one in twenty were vicious, and ninety percent of those acted like the friendly dogs until certain circumstances were met and then they suddenly turn on you. Statistics say that one in six people has been seriously attacked by a dog, but statistics also say that most attacks are not reported and there are less serious attacks which are not included in those stats. In reality, almost every person has been in an encounter with a vicious dog. What should we do? Should we stay indoors and only go out with an armed escort and wear protective gear in case there is a dog who can’t control his urge to bite? Should we pretend that no dogs are vicious because taking precautions and training the friendly dogs to act in a non-aggressive way is mean and unfair to the friendly dogs who are being treated as potential vicious dogs?

    Luckily, men are not dogs. We can actually (hopefully) educate them and communicate with them the importance of not acting in a threatening way. If they’ll listen.

  81. #81 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    @coffeycake: no offense taken. And I guess we’ll just have to respectfully disagree on whether or not the burden should be on me to prove my innocence. To me, that’s like saying I must prove to stores that I’m not a thief (I’m not), that I must prove to my teachers that I’m not a plagiarist (I’m not), and that I must prove to casinos that I’m not counting cards (I’m not, I suck at math).

    And given your experiences, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking those things. I just disagree that, at the larger societal level, it is men’s responsibility to step up say, either directly or through demonstrations like crossing the street, “Ladies, have no fear! I will not rape you!” It’s one thing if a victim of abuse is scared of getting into an elevator with a man; it’s quite another to say “Until further notice, all men must make grand “I will not rape you gestures!” towards all women.”

  82. #82 Monado
    July 6, 2011

    “He didn’t want to be shot down in public”?? He didn’t want to show everyone that he was a creep, hitting on a married woman in public! If he wanted to talk, there’s “I hope we can find time to talk tomorrow.” If he wanted to hit on her, she had already announced that she didn’t want to be hit on at conferences.

    The guys that cross the street to avoid overtaking can add to their repertoire, “You take this elevator–I’ll take the next one.”

  83. #83 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    “Okay. In a perfect world, or even in a less patriarchal one, this wouldn’t be the case. But in this world, we women really do have to continuously evaluate every man as a potential rapist. Not just strangers. Friends, relatives, co-workers, bosses. Husbands and boyfriends. The more familiar we are with a guy, the more free of this we can be (assuming of course that there are have been no signals of abusive behaviour). I don’t want to do that. I know that most guys don’t rape. But I also know that enough of them do that sexual assault is common. Every woman I’ve ever met in real life and online, when the subject has come up, has told a story about rape, molestation, unwanted groping, physical abuse, or threats of rape of which she has been the victim.”

    Fair enough. I’ve never been a victim of anything worse than a dog bite, so it would be grossly disrespectful of me to even attempt to say “I know what it’s like”. I don’t. I have no clue what it’s like to be a woman in this world. And it sounds like, not just from you but others posting here, that it is an unfortunate truth that it’s safer to assume guilt until innocence is proven.

    If that’s the way it is, then I’m happy to do what I can to help. But at least you and coffey seem to understand where I’m coming from (and I wish Sally would already), that it’s insulting for us normal guys to be treated as rapists-until-proven-otherwise. Sexual assault and rape are vulgar, disgusting acts, and those who commit them deserve nothing less than to be beaten to death, resuscitated, then beaten again, as far as I’m concerned. So to find out that I’m being lumped in with them by default is… well, you get the idea.

    But like I said, I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in those situations, and from reading the comments here it’s sounding more and more like assuming until proven otherwise is what keeps you safe. If that’s the case, then I’ll do my part.

  84. #84 fancyflyer
    July 6, 2011

    @JohnV: It is the gentleman’s art to make any person feel at ease in his presence, and to know when to disengage. Art, not science, not law or rules. You just have to work your way through it. Now if you simply present a hypothetical kind of question to your coworkers, or start a discussion in that vein, you might get better information about their feelings. Try that first. And maybe you could get to know the other folks in your building a little.

  85. #85 Caoimhe Snow
    July 6, 2011

    AngryNoodle, you asked:
    Why is the onus on me to demonstrate that I’m not going to rape you?

    Well, I’ll tell you what.

    Let’s say the assumption is wrong, and you aren’t a rapist, and yet she keeps her guard up as if you were. What damage is caused? Pretty much nothing. She might not talk to you much. She might be nervous.

    Now let’s say the assumption is right. What happens? Oh yeah, she gets raped.

    So looking at the consequences for each circumstance, if everything else is equal, wouldn’t it be best for her to err on the side of caution, even if you don’t like it? Because what it comes down to is that she’s the one taking the risk, not you.

    (And just to add something about other comments: It’s really kind of gross when the posters whip out their own racism against black men on this thread.)

  86. #86 Ibis3
    July 6, 2011

    No really. This is my last post.

    But at least you and coffey seem to understand where I’m coming from (and I wish Sally would already), that it’s insulting for us normal guys to be treated as rapists-until-proven-otherwise.

    I’m not sure why you think Sally doesn’t get how it’s insulting to be lumped in with the rapists. The point she’s trying to make is that we can’t be concerned about the insult when it’s our lives and our safety on the line. And unless you’re physically incapable of getting to me, you are a potential rapist to me. I can’t afford to give you (or any man) the benefit of the doubt and I’m sorry.

    Shorter: Patriarchy hurts men too.

    You’ve said that you’ll do your part & that’s a victory. Thank you. Part of that is standing with us and doing what you can to change the culture that allows this crap.

  87. #87 coffeycake
    July 6, 2011

    AngryNoodle

    I do get that you don’t want to be labeled a rapist. Who does? I get that you don’t want to be blamed, in however small a way, for crimes you didn’t commit. I really, really understand that. It’s COMPLETELY UNFAIR, and after reading your posts and others’, I’m actually angry for you.
    But what are my options? What are the options of women as a whole? Whose responsibility is it to make women feel safer? I already showed the inherent flaws with women defending THEMSELVES. All it’ll take is one mace to the eyes of an innocent guy in a moment of panic and people will be screaming that women are all crazy and hysterical. And worse if a woman is panicked and carrying a gun.
    The rapists aren’t going to make anyone feel safer, for obvious reasons, and it’s one of the oldest crimes (if not THE oldest), so it’s not reasonable to expect them to just stop it. The police and justice system in general tend to engage in victim-blaming, as do many ordinary people (family members included) that a woman could tell about a sexual assault or go to for help. You’ve just said that good men shouldn’t have to prove that they’re good men, and it’s not a reasonable or kind suggestion that women just suck it up and get over it. (Not saying you said that. You didn’t. Others have, though.)
    So, then, whose job is it to make women feel safer? Whose job is it to show us the difference between the rapists and the good guys? Who is left?
    And, incidentally, I don’t wear a shirt that says “victim of abuse; please be kind and don’t stand next to me in elevators.” How was that guy I upset supposed to know? How would YOU know? If it’s not fixed at a societal level, then how CAN it be fixed at an individual one?
    I’m still not being intentionally snarky, so I’m sorry if I come across that way. I want to fix this problem and if no one can fix it, then I may as well just stay in my apartment for the rest of my life or commit myself to a mental institution and save myself the trouble. I want to be able to go out like a normal person and not have to worry about this sort of thing. I want to feel like I can go to atheist conferences, ride up and down elevators until I feel dizzy if I so choose, and take out the trash at night if one of the cats makes a mess on the floor so the apartment doesn’t smell. But I can’t.

  88. #88 AngryNoodle
    July 6, 2011

    @caoimhe: By that logic, though, I should assume every person I walk past on the street is a mugger. I should assume every person in the store is a shoplifter. I should assume every cop will shoot me for videotaping a crime, or taze me when I haven’t done anything wrong. I should assume that every driver will ignore the red light as I’m crossing. I should assume that any food I haven’t cooked myself is poisoned. I should assume any dog I haven’t personally taken to the vet has rabies. I should assume all Halloween candy is filled with razorblades.

    See the problem here?

  89. #89 Monado
    July 6, 2011

    Bingo! I noticed on another thread someone saying “None of the women I know has been raped.” Believe me, that’s the last thing they’ll tell you.

    Ibis3 @80:

    Every woman I’ve ever met in real life and online, when the subject has come up, has told a story about rape, molestation, unwanted groping, physical abuse, or threats of rape of which she has been the victim.

    Or multiple threats of rape for turning down that offer to “go for a ride.”

    Ibis3 @80:

    Imagine that we lived in a city where dogs were free to roam at large and there were strays wandering about everywhere. Now, most dogs are harmless, many of them being even better than harmless–good, friendly dogs. But, say, one in twenty were vicious, and ninety percent of those acted like the friendly dogs until certain circumstances were met and then they suddenly turn on you. Statistics say that one in six people has been seriously attacked by a dog, but statistics also say that most attacks are not reported and there are less serious attacks which are not included in those stats. In reality, almost every person has been in an encounter with a vicious dog. What should we do?

    A nice analogy! If men were faced with a problem like that, the preferred solution would be to wipe out the dogs.

    Most women compromise. It’s not all elevators all the time, it’s elevators when no one’s around an no one is likely to come by.

    For stairwells and such, if you’re going in the same direction, I suggest not overtaking; and, if meeting face-to-face, relax, don’t stare at her and either say nothing or murmur Hi or Excuse me.

    It would be funny if RD had trouble getting off elevators at the next conference.

    Greg!! What happened about the dog?

  90. #90 coffeycake
    July 6, 2011

    AngryNoodle

    Oh, I DID see your post saying that you’ll do what you can. Thank you.
    I just like to debate when the debate stays friendly and respectful, and I like to be exposed to other people’s viewpoints because it makes me think about things. Sometimes I wind up disagreeing with my own opinion by the end of it. I for reals just want to see what you think about this, and I don’t mean to seem like I’m jumping down your throat when you’ve already said you’ll do all you can to make people like me more comfortable. I appreciate that more than I can express.

  91. #91 Monado
    July 6, 2011

    The basic Street Smart program for children tells them to stay out of arm’s reach of adults: not to go help them read a map, nor to look at a kitty, nor anything else; but to tell them to call an adult or offer to fetch an adult for them. Our domestic cats outdoors stay about a broad-jump’s length away from people and farther from people they don’t know. By overtaking a woman walking late at night, on the same sidewalk, you’re counting on her sense of politeness (mustn’t hurt a man’s feelings by suggesting that we don’t trust him) to make her violate that safety rule. It is courteous to vary your route and spare her the anxiety.

  92. #92 Laurent Weppe
    July 6, 2011

    A nice analogy! If men were faced with a problem like that, the preferred solution would be to wipe out the dogs.

    As a matter of fact, when faced with a problem like that IRL, men do not wipe out the dogs: they erect statues in their honor, and yes, you can complain about dog privilege (i mean: seriously: three people could sit where this dog is sleeping)

  93. #93 Amphigorey
    July 6, 2011

    AngryNoodle:

    it’s insulting for us normal guys to be treated as rapists-until-proven-otherwise.

    Yes, that sucks. But don’t be angry at women for thinking that – be angry at the guys who are actually rapists who are ruining it for all other men.

  94. #94 Raiko
    July 6, 2011

    Thank you for the post, Greg. I thought of that dog analogy, too, but I don’t have the output hub, of course, and not the writing skill, either.

    I always felt a little silly for walking faster when hearing steps behind me at night or seeking more crowded places or feeling generally at unease when I am alone with a (semi-)stranger anywhere. However, I figured that most woman who once felt “silly” will one day get the confirmation (in hopefully a very lame form like I did) that their worries are not entirely unfounded.

    In my case, I had a late workday in the same office as my male colleague and suddenly found myself physically assaulted (luckily for only a kiss at that point) – from someone I NEVER thought would do that and whom I worked with everyday. Luckily, a firm word from me and a forceful physical push ended the situation rather quickly, but it left the uneasy feeling of ‘no place is absolutely safe and even the kindest man can momentarily turn into a monster’. That man was physically stronger than me and he had me feel that, but luckily I was stronger in other ways. Now I know that a good deal of the men here would never do that and will feel offended for even suggesting they are all potential assaulters. Regardless of that being a somewhat of a strawman, I also would have sworn my colleague was harmless and would never forcefully touch a woman (and certainly not a confident, outspoken lesbian) – that he was a nice, gentle and considerate guy with even too little self-confidence to do something that very stupid. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. Fortunately, this little “misjudgement” lead to a situation that wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. But a misjudgement of “nice guy, won’t harm me” can have terrible consequences while the consequences of the misjudgement “treat this guy with caution when you’re alone” usually aren’t that terrible.

    Before I get any entirely stupid replies, let me say this: I still fully trust my male friends, by the way, and I don’t meet new men with the thought “oh, potential rapist!” – but I no longer feel ‘guilty’ for being stressed finding myself alone anywhere with a man I don’t know well or don’t know at all because it appears that my fears do have a point. I’ll be alert because while 99.9% of these alone-with-a-man encounters will not be harmful, when a problem appears I’ll at least be in an alert state and ready to act.

    So, the point is – certain situations do *reasonably* stress us women. Most women will be able to tell you a story like this, if they’re willing to share, and if they don’t, they’ll probably know someone who does.

    If a man changes the side of the street or signals they’re harmless, that is very considerate, but of course not required. That is up to their general politeness. However, if a man gives us additional reason to worry by making remarks in the direction that worries us already, that is uncalled for.

    To most men, this difference is probably not intrinsic. It is therefore that Rebecca did a great job mentioning it in passing. I think more women should mention stuff like that – else, how are people supposed to understand the problem?

  95. #95 Phillip Moon
    July 6, 2011

    Let’s see. I know one female that was molested at 4 and raped at 14. Two others who were sexually assaulted by relatives, one who was raped by her father and one who was sexually harassed by an employer. These are just the ones that come to mind without having to think deeply.

    A good rule of thumb (as stated by my daughter) is don’t get on an elevator if you are made at all uncomfortable by someone on there or getting on. And to all those who keep defending men, might I point out that the vast majority of these assaults on women are by men and happen with regularity.

  96. #96 Azkyroth
    July 6, 2011

    Most importantly, you have to understand the context and its meaning and how it shapes expectations and fears, and if you don’t you are not fulfilling your role in society.

    Unfortunately, society fails to teach some people a lot of these things and then expects them to know anyway. Some people even have disabilities that affect these things, and I think it’s really unfortunate first that people who don’t have those disabilities don’t seem to be interested in differentiating between people who have disabilities affecting social functioning and, in particular, the absorption of “unwritten rules” and reading of body language, and people who have a sense of entitlement such that they either don’t care to learn or ignore the information once they have it, so that people are basically talking about a polyphyletic group of the disabled, the willfully-ignorant, and the amoral, as if they represented a cohesive whole, and usually in terms with “morally defective” connotations interspersed with references to “cluelessness” or “ineptitude” as if they were basically the same thing. I also think it’s unfortunate that one can’t even bring up this issue without fucking morons who can only perceive and respond to cardboard caricatures of “enemy” positions pretending that one must be “defending” or “excusing” behavior that makes others uncomfortable.

    For those of us in the “disability” range, posts like this that write formerly unwritten rules are helpful, though less so than they would be if they weren’t almost invariably served with a sizable helping of condescension and disgust at anyone who needs to be told these things, a distinction that would probably come naturally if we weren’t discussing the “disability” and “don’t care” groups in blanket terms. As it stands, the end result is a bit like buying a homeless guy a sandwich, and then breaking it into pieces and chewing each of them 2-3 times before dropping them into his hand.

  97. #97 Andrew
    July 6, 2011

    So you use the analogy of rabid dogs to represent men? Does that mean YOU represent reasonable precautions overwhelmed by FEAR? Because it certainly appears your logic suggests men are RESPONSIBLE for women being uneasy in an unavoidable common place event (sharing elevators). It seems you feel men are inherently beasts that could care-less about a womans desires. Lastly it appears you mask unneccesary fear as a protective reaction. Unlike the *rabid* dog; elevator man made some lame attempts to flirt and went about his business like MOST MEN DO. He didn’t attack her.. just like the dog didn’t attack you. Im all for logical fear but your analogy detracts from an otherwise decent arguement. Please expand as to explain your contradictory examples.

  98. #98 Misaki
    July 6, 2011

    “And here’s the thing, the point you need to get: I can only tell you about the dog. I can’t tell you a story about a sexual assault. I don’t have one. I only have the dog story for you because I’m a 50-something year old man, not a 50-something year old woman. If I was a 50-something year old woman, I’d be able to tell you stories on point for the current discussion, stories about men who cornered me, who touched me when I didn’t want that, who verbally threatened me, who woke me up in the middle of the night or tracked me down on some dark street or who freaked me out in an elevator. If I was typical, that is.”

    And do you have a constructive point to make? Perhaps a suggestion about how the crime rate in the US could be reduced? For example while a reduction in economic inequality would decrease the bulk of purchases that could be made by someone in the middle or upper economic tiers, there is substantial evidence that doing so would increase social cohesion and decrease crime: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_inequality#Effects_of_inequality

    So if anyone is interested in addressing this issue by increasing economic equality without inefficient government wealth redistribution, please see here: http://pastebin.com/Q86Zhgs9

  99. #99 Matt
    July 6, 2011

    I’m going to have to call bullshit on your last link there. We are equally related to bonobos who aren’t violent and don’t do those things. Since we are equidistant from chimps and bonobos you have to look at both sides. Our society may bring out more of one than the other, but that isn’t the individual’s fault.

  100. #100 jadesmar
    July 6, 2011

    This evening/morning at midnight I asked a couple ladies at the bus stop if they knew what time the next bus arrived. One of them said that it would be 5 minutes and since I had a transfer, a 5 minute wait would cut about 40 mins from my walk home for no cost.

    During the bus ride one of the ladies got off the bus.

    Slightly before my stop, and before I could, the other lady signaled the bus to stop and then proceeded to the exit before me. So, there I was, the only other person on the bus, exiting the bus behind the lady who was nice enough to answer my earlier query and feeling like a total creep.

    She, unfortunately started walking in the direction that I wanted to go. I probably should have sat on the bench at the bus stop for a few mins; instead I just kinda quickly ran past her in the direction I was going. Just to get rid of the awkward. :)

  101. #101 Paul Murray
    July 6, 2011

    Over in someone’s blog, there was an explanation to the effect that to a woman, it’s as though all men were carrying an unholstered gun.

    Hmm, I thought. Hmm. Does that apply to black men too? Because if anyone were to say “Being in the same room as a black man, it’s as stressful as if they had a gun, even if they don’t”, why, that person would be a racist!

    These women report being “creeped out”. Really? Would they be “creeped out” by someone thy found attractive? Of course not. So the crime is not anything you do, but that of being unattractive.

    Nothing would amuse me more than these women getting exactly what they ask for – a skeptic conference where every man makes every effort to not accidentally frighten them, and walks to the other side of the road.

  102. #102 Flora Poste
    July 6, 2011

    Azkyroth – I don’t know what your disability is, but the people I know with Asperger’s are the ones least likely to interpret “I’m not available, I don’t like getting propositioned by random people, and am now tired and going to bed” as some kind of code for “I want to be alone with you in your hotel room.”

    I have friends whose teenage daughter has Asperger’s, and one of the things they are dealing with is the reality that she may be at increased risk for sexual assault.

  103. #103 Paul Murray
    July 6, 2011

    “So you’d rather have me in fear, wondering if you’re about to rape me? You’re sounding nicer and nicer. No wonder you keep to yourself a lot.”

    No, I’d rather not have to walk on eggshells everywhere I go, just in case – just in case – someone might be all frightened. The women are demanding the same thing as the christians – the right to not be affronted, no matter how delicate their sensibilities. When the situation is that a person is affronted by something that is not your fault (you were born with a missing X chromosome, or a propensity to produce a lot of melanin), then it steps over the line.

  104. #104 Azkyroth
    July 6, 2011

    I don’t know what your disability is, but the people I know with Asperger’s are the ones least likely to interpret “I’m not available, I don’t like getting propositioned by random people, and am now tired and going to bed” as some kind of code for “I want to be alone with you in your hotel room.”

    What?

    …how…could…that…possibly…relate to what I posted?

  105. #105 Graydon
    July 6, 2011

    I’m increasingly surprised about how difficult this issue seems to be, and how many guys get personally offended by it.

    If women are human — have agency, get to make their own decisions, etc. — it’s impossible to escape that the default answer is “no”. If there was any material possibility of the answer *not* being no, as applied to you personally, she would have communicated directly to you about it. (not hinted, not implied, communicated directly.)

    If that hasn’t happened, the answer is so completely “no” that if you do anything, anything whatsoever, that indicates that you don’t know, or are not clear on, or even just have doubts about, the answer being NO, you’re part of the precipitate. You don’t think women have agency, you don’t think women are human — or, probably, if someone asks, you think that, but you haven’t actually done the work to change your behavior out of the inherited women-are-chattel patterns, so as a matter of expected conduct you’re in the awful indeterminacy of the Schrodinger’s Rapist state.

    So, Andrew right up there — most men, statistically, aren’t safe. Because most men, when they interact with women, do not treat the default answer as no; they treat the default answer as “yes with extenuating circumstances”.

    Since that’s, well, hostile — attention that isn’t paying any attention to you, your actual desires, or acknowledging that you might have them is plenty hostile — even if it’s ostensibly lacking in a direct threat of physical violence (only, hey, it isn’t, in any externally detectable way) — all that affront you’re displaying is, alas, also displaying that, at best, you don’t get it.

    (Also, and this is a tangent, flirting requires context, and pretty specific context, one involving material security, numbers, mutually understood social norms, and an enforcement mechanism for the norms. Isolated strangers CAN’T flirt, the context isn’t there.)

    So, well, most of the answer is “if you thought women were human, with agency and ownership of themselves and an inherent right to control of their sexuality, sex lives, and social contacts, you wouldn’t act like that”. If you act like that — like there is any possibility that the answer isn’t NO without some direct communication to you, by her, even within some carefully non-physical, ritualized, or otherwise ostensibly polite norms — then, yeah, you disagree with that whole women-are-people thing, you’re just arguing that you’re a polite and well-socialized tool of the patriarchy.

    Which, from a female perspective, is absolutely nothing to rely on; the “tool of the patriarchy” trumps the “polite and well-socialized” part, because, hey, core assumption that women are people? It’s not there.

  106. #106 pteryxx
    July 6, 2011

    Oy, well it’s not like I can *sleep* or anything.

    “To me, that’s like saying I must prove to stores that I’m not a thief (I’m not)”

    That’s why stores have security cameras, clerks guarding a till that is closed and locked until they signal, scanners to prove what items you have, and often, live tags that have to be manually deactivated before you can go out the door with them.

    “that I must prove to my teachers that I’m not a plagiarist (I’m not)”

    That’s why teachers have systems of graduated testing, classroom discussions, maybe oral exams or presentations, and often run some sort of online paper-checking, though plagiarism’s under the radar still.

    “and that I must prove to casinos that I’m not counting cards (I’m not, I suck at math).”

    Casinos have cameras *everywhere*, train their dealers in card-handling techniques to reduce the possibility of cheating, have pit bosses looking for suspicious activity, and may *still* throw you out if you win too much.

    All of these are more or less reasonable precautions against common threats. You’re really not making your case here, when there’s much less at stake than a person’s body being violated or killed.

    And because one batch of complaints wasn’t anywhere NEAR enough for you:

    “By that logic, though, I should assume every person I walk past on the street is a mugger.” and “I should assume every person in the store is a shoplifter.”

    Unless you’re terminally oblivious, your brain’s scanning for threat-signals. A person minding their own business passes the immediate subconscious checksum. A person in a store who glances around furtively or looks for where the cameras are, and a person on the street who steps out suddenly at you, have raised danger flags. You don’t notice the other ones consciously BECAUSE they look normal.

    “I should assume any dog I haven’t personally taken to the vet has rabies.”

    This one makes me angry because in vet work and shelters, that’s almost exactly how it works. Dogs are supposed to have rabies vaccinations listed on a tag on their collar (where I worked anyway) so their status can be verified if they bite anyone, and if you get bitten by *any* dog or wild mammal, you’re advised to get rabies shots just in case.

    “I should assume all Halloween candy is filled with razorblades.”

    This one is just stupid because it’s an urban legend in the first place. There has never been a case of Halloween candy tampering that wasn’t done by a close relative of the injured children, as far as my reading has gone. It doesn’t compare because the odds are miniscule. Even so, there’s an entire industry of food-safety seals and tamper-proof medicine bottles because of basically one guy, the Tylenol killer. That’s how important safety is.

    The verifiable stats say somewhere between 1 in 60 and 1 in 30 men is a rapist, and 1 in 6 women are their victims. Women tend to be wary because their odds SUCK. If 1 car out of 60 had its brakes fail, there would be a massive recall, a scandal and probably a batch of lawsuits, and few people would even say the *name* of that car without contempt. Certainly very few would willingly drive one. If 1 in 60 customers of a store or casino were stealing nontrivial amounts, the places would go out of business. If 1 in 60 medicine bottles were contaminated, the pharmaceutical industry would collapse.

    Don’t have an ego about this. Women’s safety is more important than the pride of clueless men.

  107. #107 msironen
    July 6, 2011

    “Women have a compelling story to tell about the relentless oppression of the patriarchy. A patriarchy that has been propped up by religion for centuries. This story should be front and center in any atheistic argument.”

    What the serious… hell? Are we at the point where we use the words “feminism” and “atheism” completely interchangeably?

    “If anything, atheists should celebrate, support and elevate women to positions of visibility and influence and leadership at every opportunity as our movement continues to grow and gain power.”

    Has it actually ever occurred to you that once you’ve achieved this great Atheist Reformation by smoking out all the “rapists” and “gender traitors”, you’ll end exactly what you started with: feminists and feminism?

  108. #108 Jim
    July 6, 2011

    Some extraordinary posts here. Too many to respond to really, but…

    To Sallystrange (50). We do not live in a rape culture. That is a feminist fantasy and is a very damaging mindset to get into. I do not have to prove anything to you about not being a rapist. If women are “living in fear”, then that is their neurosis and is not my problem. You might want to consider not feeding women’s fears unnecessarily.

    To Ibis3 (58). You are so very wrong there. The “golden rule” or “ethic of reciprocity” states that you should treat others how you would want to be treated. By contrast, you are stating that you should treat people how they want to be treated. The correct version is the basis of most codes of morality. Your version is the basis for subservience, even if we first ignore the necessity to be a mindreader.

    To Sylvia Sybil (78) and Ibis3 (86). Just as you say it is not up to a man to determine a woman’s boundaries, so it not up to a woman to define his. You can’t have it both ways. As deeply offensive and paranoid as it is, you have every right to assume that every man is a rapist, but then you would have to agree that a man may equally assume that every woman is up for it and wanting sex with him. As long as he takes no for an answer, that’s OK. Of course, such assumptions make you an idiot and the man a jerk, but such is the freedom we all enjoy to be that idiot or jerk.

  109. #109 Flora Poste
    July 6, 2011

    Azkyroth – I guess I misunderstood your point.

  110. #110 Artor
    July 6, 2011

    @ Andrew and also some @ AngryNoodle

    The dog analogy is perfect. Most men, like most dogs, will turn out to be harmless, but that small percentage who don’t are very, very dangerous. And bear in mind the importance of context. For a woman alone at night, in an enclosed space, you can add several more very’s.
    “It seems you feel men are inherently beasts that could care-less about a womans desires” Some men are exactly that, and women can’t tell which ones until too late sometimes. They have to be careful, and decent men should be aware of the risks women face.

    @AngryNoodle #88
    I almost thought you got it, but then it was clear you didn’t. “By that logic, though, I should assume every person I walk past on the street is a mugger. I should assume…”
    People aren’t saying women have to assume everyone IS a rapist, but that they MIGHT be one. I don’t assume every cop is just waiting to taze me, but I know some cops might, so I’m wary around cops. I’m not afraid of dogs, but I’m wary of big dogs I don’t know.
    I’m a big guy, and I know I can be intimidating. If I’m in an elevator in a setting that might make someone uncomfortable, I stay in the corner with my hands in my pockets & smile pleasantly. I keep my voice down, I don’t follow people too close at night. It’s no skin off my nose, and I don’t take offense that some people might be afraid of me. I just try to not give them more cause to be. And yes, I know too many women who weren’t careful with the wrong guy and have their own stories of assaults & rape.
    It’s not that someone is putting the burden of proof on you; that’s just where it falls. Denying it just makes you into an insensitive asshat. Do you get it now?

  111. #111 Ramel
    July 6, 2011

    I’m amazed that some people are failing to grasp this, it’s not as though a difficult concept. It’s even more bizzare that some guys are getting offended by it. Seriously, when reality starts to offend you it’s time to give up and start watching fox news…

  112. #112 msironen
    July 6, 2011

    “I’m amazed that some people are failing to grasp this, it’s not as though a difficult concept.”

    I’m amazed how skeptics and atheists, who once took some pride in disowning all dogma, are now berating other skeptics and atheists for NOT swallowing (feminist) dogma hook, line and sinker.
    Added irony is that feminist theory is nothing if not eerily similar to theology for their shared virtues of being “conclusion based” or to put a bit less fine point on it, not much bothering with trifles like evidence.

  113. #113 John K. Funk
    July 6, 2011

    I’ve been watching the Rebeccapocalypse with great interest since it started, but haven’t felt any need to comment until now. I kind of wish I had my own blog on which to post, but this will have to suffice for now.

    Two or three years ago, there was a bit of a brouhaha in the blogosphere — it began right here on Greg’s blog, if I remember correctly — about a “rape switch.” The idea was that all men have the potential to turn into rapists if subjected to the right (wrong?) conditions. Some male posters reacted with extreme defensiveness. They were NOT rapists, they insisted, and would never, EVER commit rape under any circumstances.

    That was my immediate, visceral reaction as well. Then I stopped and thought about it, ultimately concluding that, yes, perhaps I do have a rape switch. It’s never been triggered, I hope it never is, and I really don’t know what might trigger it. But, I realized, it’s healthier for me — and safer for the women around me — to acknowledge it. By being aware of my own potential to possibly commit rape, I can better guard against it, thereby making it less likely that I will ever actually commit rape.

    Which brings us to the Rebeccapocalypse. Many of the objections raised here seem similar to objections raised on this very blog a few years ago. Some men take offense at being considered potential rapists, because they insist that they’re NOT rapists, and would NEVER commit rape under any circumstances, so it’s unreasonable for women to regard them as potential rapists.

    But here’s the problem: Remember the rape switch? You are a potential rapist. It’s not even that you might be. You are. Don’t feel bad. So am I, and I take no offense to being considered as such. That doesn’t make us actual rapists — I certainly hope we never cross that line — but the switch is there. And under certain conditions, it might get flipped.

    I’m almost 100 percent confident that being alone with a woman in an elevator won’t flip my rape switch, nor will walking down a lonely street at night. I’ve lived both scenarios several times, and the switch was never in any danger of being activated. Not even close. But here’s the thing: A woman I’ve never met has no way of knowing that.

    Therefore, I take no offense at a strange woman being uncomfortable in my presence, nor do I find it unreasonable to go out of my way to alleviate her discomfort, whether that means waiting for the next elevator or crossing the street.

    I’m actually more alarmed when strange women seem too trusting of me. I once had a young woman I barely knew invite me to sleep on the couch in her apartment. She had no ulterior motives, and neither did I — I accepted her invitation, and slept on her couch. That’s all there was to it. But I kept wondering if I should somehow point out that it’s probably not safe to let guys you barely know sleep on your couch. I never did figure out a way to bring it up gracefully, so I didn’t. But I still wonder.

  114. #114 Ramel
    July 6, 2011

    @msironen
    Yes of course how silly of me, I should of seen it straigt away! The very idea of showing a little consideration for other peoples feelings and not being a total dick is clearly feminist theology intended to enslave men! It’s so obvious! The scales have fallen from my eyes! You’re a fucking idiot…

  115. #115 msironen
    July 6, 2011

    Ramel:

    You forgot to include “patriarchy”, “rape culture” and “privilege” in your comment.

    Your grade: 2 / 10. Sorry, that means you’re still probably a rapist.

  116. #116 G127
    July 6, 2011

    A bit late to the discussion: but I it really resonated with me. When I was in college I often needed to catch the late bus back to my dorm room.

    In winter it usually was already becoming dark outside. Classes usually ended just a little to late to catch the bus so I often had to run. One day I walked behind a women who kept increasing her pace. I thought nothing of it, did the same even, because I saw the bus was already driving in the street. Therefore I started to run (the bus only came every half-hour). The women before me also started running (I assumed she needed to catch the same bus). However she ran away from me, in the grass next to the pavement.

    I did catch my bus; she saw that and ran waving to the bus. The driver opened the door and made some comment about where she thought the bus was going to be… I think I spooked her and felt quite embarrassed but also slightly irritated; (how dare someone think that I could mean any harm;). But she couldn’t know that of course.

    I did

  117. #117 G127
    July 6, 2011

    catch my bus; she saw that and ran waving to the bus. The driver opened the door and made some comment about where she thought the bus was going to be… I think I spooked her and felt quite embarrassed but also slightly irritated; (how dare someone think that I could mean any harm;). But she couldn’t know that of course.

  118. #118 V. infernalis
    July 6, 2011

    @109.

    A “rape switch”? What. The. Fuck. That’s the worst (best?) example of question-begging I’ve ever seen.

  119. #119 Wow
    July 6, 2011

    “and most women are justifiably afraid of men”

    Ah, so all men ARE bastards, hmm?

    Women may have reasons to be afraid of men, but that’s not a justification of it.

  120. #120 maureen.brian#b5c92
    July 6, 2011

    Thank you, Greg.

    And, bks, you need to do some research on how “real” rapists behave before shooting your mouth off. Have you thought of talking to some actual women?

  121. #121 msironen
    July 6, 2011

    “But here’s the problem: Remember the rape switch? You are a potential rapist. It’s not even that you might be. You are. Don’t feel bad. So am I, and I take no offense to being considered as such. That doesn’t make us actual rapists — I certainly hope we never cross that line — but the switch is there. And under certain conditions, it might get flipped.”

    Feminism theory -> Christian theology translator:

    “But here’s the problem: Remember the sin switch? You are a potential sinner. It’s not even that you might be. You are. Don’t feel bad. So am I, and I take no offense to being considered as such. That doesn’t make us actual sinners — I certainly hope we never cross that line — but the switch is there. And under certain conditions, it might get flipped.”

    Note that in Christian theology, every human is a moral failure whether they’ve committed an offense or not. In feminism, a product of vastly more brilliant minds, everyone is neatly divided into moral failures (men) and holier-than-them (women).

    An open question seems to be whether homosexual men are potential rapists since on one hand they’re, well, men, but on the other only rape towards women count. A promising avenue of theorizing is that the rape switch also turns homosexual men into (at least temporarily) heterosexuals, in which case the thought crime charges can once again made to stick.

  122. #122 Jim
    July 6, 2011

    To John K Funk (109), I guess you are technically right about a “rape switch”, but I’m not sure it gets us anywhere. You could just as well say that given the right triggers we are all potential murderers. Walking around thinking that the next person (because let’s face it, women can be murderers too) you meet might kill you is not very helpful for one’s sanity, social life or even as a defensive mechanism.

  123. #123 Laurent Weppe
    July 6, 2011

    The dog analogy is perfect

    The dog analogy is not perfect: it’s moronic: not silly, not stupid: moronic, as in “I’m willingly dumbing myself down so I can pretend that the rabid dog/rapist analogy is a good one”. A rapist is, in most case an adult citizen doing a very conscious and premeditated act, not a domesticated pet whose brain is being eaten by a deadly virus. And in cases of violent dogs with no illness who bite humans, well, it’s a safe bet to say that rare are those who thought “I’m gonna put my happy-puppy face and wag my tails like I want to play fetch the ball until a sucker comes close enough so I can eat his face” instead of acting on the spur of the moment.

    ***

    Anyway, It is my understanding that coffeycake’s argument is not that non-rapist men look like rapist, but that rapist can look and behave like harmless people until they see an opportunity to strike, therefore if a descent male human being is in a position which, had he be a rapist, would have presented a good opportunity to commit an assault, women have reasonnable cause to feel unconfortable or even afraid because they have no way to know wether they are in the presence of a descent human being or a rapist. I do not see anything offensive about saying so: if a criminal starts aping my behavior so that he can go on unnoticed, I have no reason to be angry at the criminal’s potential victims if they start to act with a lot of caution around me: it’s the criminal who’s aping me I will be getting angry at. And while seeing a woman rushing to the opposite corner of an elevator (it happened) after I asked “which floor” is annoying, I was not arrested, forced to do a perp walk and sent to jail for it, so I may roll my eyes when it happens but I’m not going to pretend that my freedom and basic rights have been impeded.

    But I most certainly disagree with the idea that what the world needs is another dose of male etiquette. Frankly, do anyone really think that imposing a “Have I mentioned that I am utterly harmless today?” routine is going to make woman safer instead of, you know, creating a false sense of security?
    Try to look lost in your own world with a book or cell phone or something? Do ypou think a rapist would be unable to appear to be very focused on a level of Angry Birds in order to lool non threatening?
    Cross the streets so the woman walking in front of you does not feel threatened? Somehow, I don’t think many would-be rapists will have problems stalking a woman from the other side of the road.

    So we’ve come from Rebecca Watson asserting that men should avoid some display of familiarity with women they just met because women do not have rapedar so fine tunned that they can with a glance know if the display is innocuous (Elevator Guy might have been a very big cafeine enthousiast), clueless (Elevator Guy might have desired a one night stand between two consenting en enthusiastic adults and did not get the memo that it was not the time and place to ask), or an harbinger of a distaster to come (Elevator Guy might have been a sexual predator ready to put Butanediol in her coffee) and will be creeped out no matter the intent behind it: a reasonnable, rational, logical and perfectly acceptable assertion; to the idea that men should display some behaviors -behaviors which could be very easily emulated by rapists- so that women can feel safe, while still being as much at risk as before? How did this whole conversation become one of magic thoughts and rituals?

  124. #124 NancyNew
    July 6, 2011

    Thanks, Greg, for this post–it’s excellent. I think the potential dog attack/elevator scenario makes a terrific analagy, too.

    The “weapons” issue is something I’d like to talk about briefly. I live and work in weapons-oriented environments, and something you rarely hear in the marketing hype needs to be said:

    A weapon, under many circumstances, if you are not very, very good with it, can be taken away from you and then used against you.

    The problem with the “I’m armed” mentality is that is often goes hand-in-hand with “I’m invulnerable” ideas.

    To become proficient is one problem; to become proficient with the weapon AND know you’d have both the mind-set to use it against another human and the judgement to know when it’s the right thing to do is another problem.

    It’s easy to say “well, she should carry a taser or mace or a handgun,” but the realities are not simple, and involve all sorts of other risks.

  125. #125 LightHorsemen
    July 6, 2011

    All men are potential rapists, and should be ashamed for not being ashamed of the fact.

    Of course, try this sort of bullshit out with a minority in the place of the generic male, and one would be howled down as a racist, and rightly so.

    And yes, I know I’m directly contributing to the plight of FGM sufferers in Azerbaijan for saying so *rolls eyes*

  126. #126 Ace of Sevens
    July 6, 2011

    Something I don’t get: Isn’t whether this fear is rational relevant? My understanding that while rape and other forms of sexual assault are relatively common, most of it involves dates and other acquaintances.

    http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cvus0802.pdf

    Rape by a non-stranger is three times more likely than a stranger, even though we run into way more strangers each day. Why should the strangers be the ones who get labeled as potential criminals? It seems to me it would be more accurate to say women are taught to be irrationally afraid of strangers due to societal sexism (with a good deal of xenophobia) than to say women should be afraid of strangers due to societal sexism. Look at the charts. While women are a greater risk for sexual assualt, men and women are at almost equal risk of being crime victims overall, yet no one tells men to see every stranger on the sidewalk as someone who may beat them for their wallet. Yes, this is due to sexism, but people are seeing the sexism in the wrong place.

  127. #127 Connie
    July 6, 2011

    @msironen – “What the serious… hell? Are we at the point where we use the words “feminism” and “atheism” completely interchangeably?”
    Hmmm… that’s a leap, I think. The point of my post was more to point out that atheism and feminism can be natural allies in the fight to reduce the oppressiveness of religion. It’s too bad that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of strategic political thinking in this crowd. Oh well, minority communities (and yes, atheists are a minority community) avoid and alienate potential alliances at their peril. Especially when the allies (feminists) are already a part of the atheist community.

    Both sadly hilarious and tragically short-sighted, msironen. BTW, feminism isn’t exclusive of men, either. I know many proudly feminist men.

  128. #128 G127
    July 6, 2011

    I don’t think the rationality of a potential rape is besides the point. If someone asks you up for coffee in an elevator the change of him being a rapist is quite low; a rapist would probably use harsher words and just start raping… That doesn’t matter however.

    It’s a bit creepy to proposition someone you haven’t spoken to before in a closed space. So it’s probably a bad idea. Besides… the chances of ‘success’ with such a proposition are microscopically low.

    Elevator guy should have restricted himself to giving a compliment about the speech, commenting on the weather or some other harmless subject or he could have his mouth shut.

    Rape switch? Really? I’ve never fantasized about rape, nor do I find the thought of rape appealing, so I reject any notion that I might be a potential rapist. The point for most women is (I think/hope) that a rapist might look normal, not that a normal guy might rape at any second.

  129. #129 Dunc
    July 6, 2011

    Ace of Sevens: The thing you’re not getting is the way that any women who doesn’t act as if all men are potential rapists risks being blamed for it if she does get raped. If a man gets mugged on the sidewalk, nobody starts wondering whether he was “asking for it”, and even in the rare case that they do, it’s not regarded as a reason to let the perpetrator go free. That is what makes the rape of women different from other crimes – society still regards it as the victims’ responsibility to avoid any of the stereotyped “rape myth” behaviours (walking alone at night, drinking alcohol, flirting with men, having had “too many” previous sexual partners, dressing “provocatively”, etc) and juries still let rapists walk if they think the victim was “asking for it”, or is just insufficiently chaste.

    Which leads to the whole “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” problem – if you do treat all men as potential rapists, then you’re a frigid man-hating bitch, and if you don’t, you’re “asking for it”. It’s some catch, that catch 22…

  130. #130 G127
    July 6, 2011

    I don’t = I do

  131. #131 Deen
    July 6, 2011

    a rapist would probably use harsher words and just start raping…

    Can you really be that ignorant about rape that you don’t know that most rapists use manipulation and alcohol, not brute force?

  132. #132 G127
    July 6, 2011

    @Deen

    please don’t make strawman arguments by calling me ‘ignorant’ of manipulation. This situation isn’t about rape in general but about potential rape in an elevator.

    In the elevator it’s pretty hard to use alcohol or spike someone’s drink. And given the direct nature of the propostion, manipulation isn’t the issue either. Brute force is exactly the thing that would be the treath in this situation. Like I said before: the chance of Elevator guy being the rapist is besides the point. It’s still not a smart or decent thing to do; propositioning someone in an elevator.

  133. #133 Deen
    July 6, 2011

    This situation isn’t about rape in general but about potential rape in an elevator.

    No, it’s not. It’s also about the potential of rape after accepting the invitation of “coffee” in his room – and that risk would be considerably higher than a direct assault in the elevator itself. Like I said, violence isn’t the most preferred method, and hotelrooms offer more privacy than elevators.

    I dare say that the fact that the guy made a proposal with a high rape risk factor was part of why the situation was creepy. If the guy had invited her for coffee in the lobby the next morning, it wouldn’t have been half as creepy.

    In the elevator it’s pretty hard to use alcohol or spike someone’s drink.

    But in a hotelroom it’s not.

    And given the direct nature of the propostion, manipulation isn’t the issue either.

    If someone would intentionally wait with proposing someone until they are cornered, that would be manipulation. If someone would offer “don’t-get-this-the-wrong-way-coffee” while having other, ulterior motives, that would be manipulation. Never mind the manipulation that might start after the woman accepts the invitation.

  134. #134 Ace of Sevens
    July 6, 2011

    Men do get blamed when they are the victims of crime in plenty of circumstances. This seems to be SOP to try to get the victim to drop the complaint, which saves paperwork and lowers crime stats. Have you tried to file a police report? I have a friend whose van was broken into and most of the police questions were about why it was left parked where it was, why it was equipped how it was and insinuations that he wasn’t being cooperative.

  135. #135 Marella
    July 6, 2011

    Well I must be the last woman left on the planet who hasn’t been molested in some way, but I still feel a bit stressed by being stuck in an elevator with a bloke I don’t know. Being propositioned by a perfect stranger at four in the morning would freak me out considerably, rejected men have been known to get shirty. I live in a very safe area and as I said I have no history to make things worse, but just like you always assume that a dog is dangerous until proven otherwise (even if its owner says its safe), good analogy there, I always assume that a man is a threat, to my equanimity even if not my body, unless he has proven otherwise.

    Its not just that all men are a threat (potential threat is a tautology, all threats are potential), all people are a threat. The question is merely the degree. Being locked in lift with anyone I don’t know raises my stress levels slightly, a normal looking man a bit more, a creepy looking one a bit more still, one who seems to be off his meds, even more, an entire gang of Hell’s Angels and I’m gonna get off at the next floor!Blaming people for being afraid is pointless, the question is, are you going to behave courteously or not?

  136. #136 msironen
    July 6, 2011

    @Connie:
    “This story should be front and center in any atheistic argument.”

    Can you please give examples what patriarchy has to do with, and how it can be used in atheistic argument on:

    a) Truth of theism / atheism in general?

    b) Truth of any given religion in particular?

    In short, how is it even possible to inject “the oppression of the patriarchy” to any such discussion without being laughed out of the room?

    Admittedly I’ve brought up the subjugation of women up in discussions about the moral failures of particular religions, but it’s by far not the greatest moral failure at all (in comparison to the doctrine of Hell, for example).

    “It’s too bad that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of strategic political thinking in this crowd.

    Especially when the allies (feminists) are already a part of the atheist community.”

    Yeah it’s a shame that making ideological shit up for political gain is a bit of a taboo in atheist/skeptic circles. Well, used to be anyway.

    Oh and I do know feminism doesn’t exclude potential rapists as long as they plead guilty to their thought crimes. Though I’m not sure if thought crime is the best descriptor; it’s really more like a retarded version of pre-crime where you’re convicted of a future crime that, instead of being “sure” to happen through some plot device, is in fact only marginally likely to happen through statistical magic.

  137. #137 Dunc
    July 6, 2011

    Admittedly I’ve brought up the subjugation of women up in discussions about the moral failures of particular religions, but it’s by far not the greatest moral failure at all (in comparison to the doctrine of Hell, for example).

    Say what? The actual, routine, day-to-day oppression of slightly more than 50% of the population is less of a moral issue than holding some absurd belief about what happens to you after you die? How so?

    I mean, sure, the notion of Hell is morally repugnant, but there’s a big difference between holding a morally repugnant notion and directly oppressing people with real physical violence and intimidation.

  138. #138 Connie
    July 6, 2011

    Such protestings!
    I have no intention of answering your questions, they have nothing to do with the point I was trying to make – atheists and feminists are natural allies. The patriarchy that oppresses women is based on religious dogmas that claim men are superior to women. That atheism opposes religion makes atheism a threat to the patriarchy.

    If atheism isn’t trying to be a player in the political sphere, well, that’s a bummer. I think atheism might have a valuable voice to lend to civil discourse in our society.

  139. #139 G127
    July 6, 2011

    @Deen,

    There was no chance of her accepting the invitation to the hotelroom. No offense: but you simply want to bring stuff to the situation that wasn’t there.

    Manipulation is (for example) the use of false pretense: someone asks a women to go with you for help, to see a friend and then assault them. That might have been the case if she thought that the guy really meant ‘coffee’ and not ‘a one night stand’ but that clearly isn’t the issue here. She was asked for a one night stand in an elevator by a guy she didn’t know. That’s creapy: but there is no manipulation.

    There might be a treat: if she felt that not accepting the invitation would lead to repurcussions. That’s the treath of violence, not manipulation.

    Alcohol is not the issue in this instance. Of course it is a big issue in rape in general and I’m not denying that.

  140. #140 msironen
    July 6, 2011

    “Say what? The actual, routine, day-to-day oppression of slightly more than 50% of the population is less of a moral issue than holding some absurd belief about what happens to you after you die? How so?”

    Let’s put it this way; which moral belief would you rate as more reprehensible:

    a) Being born a woman is justly punished by various forms and degrees of oppression during her lifetime.

    b) Dying as an unbeliever is justly punished by eternity of torture.

    If you don’t get this right, congratulations. You’re either a grade A fundamentalist Christian or weapons grade feminist.

  141. #141 Stephanie Z
    July 6, 2011

    So we’ve convened a rapists support group, have we? “I have a right–a right! I tell you–to do whatever the fuck I please regardless of any impact on anyone else! You pointing out that other guys don’t feel a need to assert this right at every turn is the worstest thing on the internetz evar!”

    News, guys: You should feel threatened. Go ahead and cower. We’ll watch.

  142. #142 Dunc
    July 6, 2011

    Let’s put it this way; which moral belief would you rate as more reprehensible:

    a) Being born a woman is justly punished by various forms and degrees of oppression during her lifetime.

    b) Dying as an unbeliever is justly punished by eternity of torture.

    If you don’t get this right, congratulations. You’re either a grade A fundamentalist Christian or weapons grade feminist.

    Well, I’d say (a) is more reprehensible on the grounds that it can actually have real consequences as opposed to imaginary ones. Real suffering is worse than imaginary suffering in my book, and I don’t see how anyone can sensibly disagree.

    Let’s put it this way: given the choice, would you rather I actually mutilate you with a rusty knife, right here and now, or merely claim that you deserve to suffer said mutilation in some imaginary afterlife?

  143. #143 Deen
    July 6, 2011

    @G127:

    There was no chance of her accepting the invitation to the hotelroom.
    We know that, but apparently the guy who asked didn’t, did he?

    No offense: but you simply want to bring stuff to the situation that wasn’t there.

    No, I was telling you that you were wrong to claim that the chance that someone asking such a question is a rapist was low, and that the fact that he didn’t start right there would support that assessment. Everything he did could still be entirely consistent with the guy being a rapist (not saying that he was) – just not one that would risk being busted in an elevator, but would prefer having more privacy and time to work on the woman. This is a type of rapist that is far more common than what you seem to think a rapist would do.

  144. #144 msironen
    July 6, 2011

    @Stephanie Z:

    Yes, it’s called Rapist Atheism. The best thing about it is that you don’t even have to have raped anyone to join, it’s enough if it is conceivable that under some extreme conditions you might!
    You do get a gold badge for being an actual rapist, potentials only get silver ones.

  145. #145 Deen
    July 6, 2011

    Argh, blockquote fail.

  146. #146 Deen
    July 6, 2011

    a) Being born a woman is justly punished by various forms and degrees of oppression during her lifetime.

    b) Dying as an unbeliever is justly punished by eternity of torture.

    When I run into atheists that believe b), I’ll be sure to tell them they’re wrong. Until then, I’ll worry what we’re going to do about atheists who still believe a).

  147. #147 msironen
    July 6, 2011

    “Well, I’d say (a) is more reprehensible on the grounds that it can actually have real consequences as opposed to imaginary ones. Real suffering is worse than imaginary suffering in my book, and I don’t see how anyone can sensibly disagree.”

    Yes, one possible solution to the problem of Hell is just to assert atheism. The problem is the Christians actually think it’s real instead of imaginary.

  148. #148 Dunc
    July 6, 2011

    The problem is the Christians actually think it’s real instead of imaginary.

    I don’t actually care much about what they think, it’s when they decide to make it real, here in the real world, (e.g. by oppressing people for being born with the “wrong” gender) that really bothers me. And unfortunately, it’s not just the religious who jump on that bandwagon…

    Think on this: every time you justify, excuse, or ignore oppression, you’re helping to create Hell (or as near as we’re ever going to see), right here on Earth.

  149. #149 Stephanie Z
    July 6, 2011

    msironen, if you want something to read like sarcasm, first you have to convince us you don’t mean it with all your shriveled little heart. As for the threat of Hell, if you find that to be so important, go do something about it instead of whining about feminists here. Or, at the very least, get the fuck out of the way of the women who are working on it.

  150. #150 Ace of Sevens
    July 6, 2011

    I’m not defending EG’s behavior, though I think he’s more likely a socially inept crackpot who wanted to tell Rebecca about aliens and/or the illuminati (this based on anecdotes from other people who have spoken at conferences and/or comic cons) than a rapist.

    I think it’s perfectly fair to condem EG’s behavior. At best, he was so intent on talking to her and worrying about his own social comfort, he completely forgot to think about her social comfort. Or perhaps since he was familiar with her through her blog, he thought that meant they weren’t strangers, even though she didn’t know him.

    I think she may have misunderstood the situation, but don’t have a big problem with what Rebecca Watson originally said. I think Stef misinterpreted what Rebecca was saying and completely missed why this creeped her out. She was responding to something Rebecca hadn’t actually said, at least not in the video she linked to. If she had been responding to someone who had complained about atheist men looking for atheist girlfriends, she might have had a point. My guess is she was already upset about this issue and this caused her to interpret Rebecca’s comments in a way that someone looking at them fresh wouldn’t have. This doesn’t make Stef an anti-feminist and it isn’t fair to criticize her personally, rather than what she said, from the pulpit.

    Here are my other problems. I may be taking this personally, but I have an autistic brother who’s had run-ins with the police who interpret his normal behavior as suspicious. I resent the insinuation that socially awkward people are potential criminals. Basically, while I don’t think Watson was being unreasonable, I don’t think it’s dismissive of what she said to point out that he likely didn’t realize that she would perceive herself as trapped in an elevator. No one tells men that women aren’t supposed to get on an elevator with strangers. I think this is key to understanding and addressing the problem.

    I also think there’s a big difference between saying people need to think more about how others are going to perceive their behavior (and sexism is just a slice of the pie here, albeit a particularly large slice with tons of extra coconut) and saying men are all potential rapists or should consign themselves to being treated as such. Watson didn’t say or imply this, but plenty of other people have in responding to her. The former is completely reasonable and also addresses the majority of human problems, the latter is sexist.

  151. #151 James
    July 6, 2011

    Some comments, and then a question.

    I have to say that I have never heard of crossing the street rather than passing by a woman on the sidewalk. That said, I don’t recall ever walking down the street at 1 am either.

    One habit I do have, though, is to make a point of walking noisily whenever I overtake anyone on the sidewalk or in a hallway. I also stand a good distance away from anyone at an ATM, and am at leasst arm’s length when standing in line. I do this regardless of the gender of the other person, the time of day, or how well I know them.

    So here’s my question. A woman is waiting at a bank of elevators in a hotel, at 1:00 am, at a convention. I come to the elevator bank and also need a ride. She sees me approach, I nod the generic “hey” nod which I do anytime I happen to meet the eyes of anyone, then proceed to ignore her. Am I expected to back away and take a different elevator? Am I a “bad person” because it has never occurred to me to do so?

    For the record, I am male, caucasian, straight, average height, overweight, a non-drinker, 45, bearded, glasses-wearing, slightly balding, married, and a father of three. Do any of these factors apply? CAN any of these factors apply?

  152. #152 Sondrah
    July 6, 2011

    Ted Bundy and Megan Fox. The first is an example of a good looking charmer who was a rapist and a killer. That is for you Paul who said some bs about good looking men not being feared. I am cautious regardless of appearance. The second is an example of how men’s minds work and will always work. My guess is that every straight man who read Megan Fox at least momentarily thought about having sex with her.

    I am a Christian, so go ahead and flame away, but I like that men and women are different. Life isn’t fair and will never be equal either. And truthfully, I don’t want a world where there are no sexes because our men are pansy ass pacifists and women are equally bland, androgynous beings. And really for that world to happen where men aren’t thinking about sex and considered a potential threat by women you’d have to remove their manhood, their desire to procreate and women would have to be trolls. Yes my examples are exaggerated and probably seem immature to those in the scientific community, but you cannot deny human nature.

    I for one hope we cannot change the world to this glorious, utopia of equality that many seem to think would be better. And don’t suggest that I don’t believe in women’s rights, because I do. I work full-time, make more money than most men in this country, and don’t rely on my husband for anything that I can do myself. I just happen to like the guy who waits for the next elevator. I bet he gets laid more too.

  153. #153 Dave X
    July 6, 2011

    Thanks.

  154. #154 Raging Bee
    July 6, 2011

    Because what’s being suggested here, by you and by Greg, is that all things being equal, the onus is on me to demonstrate that I’m not going to rape you. I fail to see the sense in that.

    Greg wrote a LONG post explaining “the sense in that,” and several other readers chimed in with coherently-written comments providing furether insight, and you STILL don’t see it? That says a lot about you, Noodle.

  155. #155 msironen
    July 6, 2011

    “msironen, if you want something to read like sarcasm, first you have to convince us you don’t mean it with all your shriveled little heart.”

    But that’d be a complete waste of time; even if I didn’t actually mean it, I could always potentially mean it!

    “Or, at the very least, get the fuck out of the way of the women who are working on it.”

    Working on what? Are there some startling new insights from the world of Non-Rapist Atheism that I should know about?

  156. #156 Denise
    July 6, 2011

    To me, that’s like saying I must prove to stores that I’m not a thief (I’m not)

    Hmm, interesting. So if you’re at a store and you pick up something small to purchase and then go browse around for a while, do you put it in your pocket or bag? If a store has outdoor displays, do you grab some things, and then take those things outside and look at the outdoor display?

    No, you probably don’t, because you know that when you are in stores, the people who work there are obligated to look out for thieves, so you do your best to not look like a thief, if only because getting trailed around in a store by an employee or security guard is obnoxious and kind of embarrassing. Holding a couple small objects in my arms rather than shoving them in my bag is a slight inconvenience that I am more than happy to endure in order to not look like a thief when I’m in a store.

    And for the love of FSM, can we please cut it out with the “the only solution acceptable to feminists is for me to hide my face and cower in a corner whenever I see a woman pass” bullshit? Absolutely nobody is making that argument. Women are around hundreds of men every single day of our lives and we don’t collapse in terror every time we see one. Come on. You’re asking women to get real, maybe you should take your own advice!

  157. #157 SQB (fuck death)
    July 6, 2011

    Greg, thanks for pointing out the cross-the-street-technique. It simply never occurred to me, but I will keep it in mind from now on.

  158. #158 Raging Bee
    July 6, 2011

    This Noodle guy seems to be getting dumber with each comment. Seriously, Greg mentions a few small acts of civility, like not making a pass at a woman in an elevator in the wee hours, and he’s crying about the soul-crushing burden of having to prove he’s not a rapist? Dude, just shut the hell up, relax and reread the post and comments slowly and carefully, and try to stop (further) embarrassing our half of the human species, okay?

    I’ve never been to an atheist convention, but from what I’ve read in various places, I suspect that part of the problem here comes from the fact that lots of atheists are also libertarians of the Randroid variety. In addition to being jaw-droppingly juvenile, immature, clueless and contemptuous of nearly all social norms, and deeply and inexplicably resentful of any notion of personal responsibility toward others, libertarians also embrace an ideology that considers all of those negative traits to be virtues. Ask a Randroid to change any aspect of his behavior to benefit others, and he CAN’T do it, because it is, in an almost literal sense, “against his religion.” (And yes, libertarianism is a religion, too often propped up by the same bigotry, self-importance and religious thinking we find in religious cults.)

  159. #159 Ace of Sevens
    July 6, 2011

    Bee, I think you are mischaracterizing noodle here. The claim isn’t that it’s okay to hit on strange women on an elevator at four in the morning. That’s not all Greg said. Noodle is objecting to the idea he shouldn’t get on the elevator in the first place.

  160. #160 The Nerd
    July 6, 2011

    Sigh… I read all this, and then I think to myself, what if she had actually been assaulted in that elevator? You know what the reaction would be? “What was she doing alone in an elevator with a stranger at 4am? She should have been more careful!”

  161. #161 Sondrah
    July 6, 2011

    Ted Bundy and Megan Fox. The first is an example of a good looking charmer who was a rapist and a killer. That is for you Paul who said some bs about good looking men not being feared. I am cautious regardless of appearance. The second is an example of how men’s minds work and will always work. My guess is that every straight man who read Megan Fox at least momentarily thought about having sex with her.

    I am a Christian, so go ahead and flame away, but I like that men and women are different. Life isn’t fair and will never be equal either. And truthfully, I don’t want a world where there are no sexes because our men are pansy ass pacifists and women are equally bland, androgynous beings. And really for that world to happen where men aren’t thinking about sex and considered a potential threat by women you’d have to remove their manhood, their desire to procreate and women would have to be trolls. Yes my examples are exaggerated and probably seem immature to those in the scientific community, but you cannot deny human nature.

    I for one hope we cannot change the world to this glorious, utopia of equality that many seem to think would be better. And don’t suggest that I don’t believe in women’s rights, because I do. I work full-time, make more money than most men in this country, and don’t rely on my husband for anything that I can do myself. I just happen to like the guy who waits for the next elevator. I bet he gets laid more too.

  162. #162 Loubear
    July 6, 2011

    to make a sensible suggestion for all the men in here, try to use your brains and decide based up on the situation when doing things like crossing a road or getting into a lift. Is it the middle of the night? Is it a public place, or in the back end of nowhere? Are there other people around, or are you alone? Have you been drinking alcohol? There are so many factors involved you have to try and learn more about why women feel fearful from sexual advances (using the word rape is such a straw man, I’ve never been raped but been flashed, harassed, men asking if they can pay me for sex and so on – it still scared me!) to be able to learn to assess the situation better.

    Middle of the day in a busy shopping mall going up 2 floors, you can easily assume you can just get on the lift. 3am in a dead quiet apartment block lift with no security cameras, and you’ve been drinking and you know your judgement is impaired? Wait for the next lift.

    The most important thing going forward is to let women speak about what makes them feel uncomfortable, and why they are afraid in certain situations and try to understand. EVERY time a woman tries to speak out they are shouted down with ‘she’s overreacting’ or ‘its never happened to anyone I know’ or best ‘I would never do something like that so you’re a bitch for thinking I would, and I’m going to shout about it even though this discussion has nothing to do with me!!!’

  163. #163 bks
    July 6, 2011

    If you get onto an elevator with an acquaintance, you’re almost four times as likely to get raped by him as if you get onto an elevator with a stranger. And Amanda is much more likely to get raped by Greg than to get raped by a stranger. Maybe talent for statistical inference is Y-chromosome linked?

    –bks

  164. #164 StevoR
    July 6, 2011

    Well said – or rather well written as the case may be.

    I agree completely.

    Rebecca Watson made a reasonable point in a reasonable manner : “Guys this happened to me. It made me uncomfortable. Don’t do that.”

    And those simple, clear basic words of advice from her, one anecdote lasting two minutes or so and not even 500 words long (I know, I typed the relevant section out to quote it myself – 417 to be precise incl. lots of context and a related afterword.) have unleashed hell and hundred thousand blog comments. All too many of those being just nauseatingly ignorant and fractally wrong.

    That’s just .. well I thought I had a low opinion of some humans and how stoopid and (metaphorically) ugly some people can be beforehand but now … after this that former view looks like Mt Everest.

  165. #165 StevoR
    July 6, 2011

    Oh what the blazes – This is what all the fuss is (supposedly) originally about :

    ***

    “The response was really fascinating, the response at the conference there was wonderful, there were a tonne of great feminists there, male and female, and also just open-minded people who had maybe never really considered the , the uh way that women are treated in this community but were interested in learning more. So thankyou to everyone who was at that conference who engaged in these discussions outside of that panel ,um you were all fantastic and I love talking to you guys. All of you except for the one man who, um, didn’t really grasp, I think, what I was saying on the panel because, um, at the bar later that night, actually at 4 in the morning, um, we were at the hotel bar, 4 am. I said “You know I’ve had enough guys I’m exhausted, I’m going to bed” so I walked to the elevator and a man got on the elevator with me and said “Don’t take this the wrong way but I find you very interesting and I would like to talk more, would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?” Um, just a word to the wise here guys, ah .. don’t do that. , Um, y’know, er, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable. But I’ll just sort of lay it out. That I was a single woman, y’know, in a foreign country at 4 am in a hotel elevator with you, just you. And I, don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualise me in that manner. So, yeah. Um. But everybody else seemed to really get it and thankyou for, for, getting it. Then RN posted that video online and the response was fascinating. I wanted to thank all of the misogynists who commented on that video um, because some people will watch that video and they’ll think that I’m exaggerating, y’know how girls are, sensitive, and then they’ll read your comments and they’ll realise exactly how terrible you are. And how it is a problem so then we can move on with actually helping to stop the problem. So thankyou for not hiding your misogyny, thankyou for putting it on display and thankyou to those of you who are the opposite of that and who emailed me to thank me and to offer your support I really appreciated everyone who did that so thankyou.”

    Source :

    http://skepchick.org/2011/06/about-mythbusters-robot-eyes-feminism-and-jokes/

    This is what got Richard Dawkins of all people telling her she had nothing to worry about because Muslim women have it so much worse and btw. elevators have buttons. Insulting her intelligence and ours – and lowering him in my esteem to say nothing of many others.

    Something so simple – such a small basic point of good manners and think for a half a second about how the woman might feel being approached like that is now a controversial, contestable thing to voice? Really? How sad.

  166. #166 Laurent Weppe
    July 6, 2011

    My guess is that every straight man who read Megan Fox at least momentarily thought about having sex with her.

    I thought about transformers, then about gouging my eyes out: thank you for reminding me those shitty movies >_<

  167. #167 Tualha
    July 6, 2011

    AngryNoodle @88: I used to very consciously assume that no one on the street was a mugger, because I didn’t want to be a jerk and make assumptions about people and live in fear.

    And then one day, while I was standing at a corner waiting for a bus, a guy came up behind me and tried to take my wallet out of my pocket. I grabbed for it and wound up on my back, right hand still on my wallet and left being held, yelling my head off and trying to kick his crotch (bad aim, unfortunately). He gave it up as a bad job after maybe 20 seconds and ran off. I lost some skin off my elbow and a lot of complacency.

    Can you understand why now I’m a lot more alert and aware of who’s around me whenever I’m out walking? I don’t assume everyone might be a mugger. But someone young, male, and dressed poorly? Damned right I assume he might be, and no apologies.

    Now imagine that you’re a woman, alone on a fairly deserted street, or in a parking garage, or an elevator. Someone male you don’t know is nearby. Could be dressed for the ‘hood or could be in a suit. Could be 18 or 68. Could be black, white, Asian, whatever. Looks like a sensitive new age guy or a tattooed biker. All you know for sure is that he has a dick.

    Can you really afford to assume that you have nothing to worry about, the odds are maybe 59-to-1 in your favor, you can safely ignore this person? There’s no chance at all he’s going to hit you in the head and push you down and force that dick into you for as long as he wants? Would you take those odds for that stake?

  168. #168 Marnie
    July 6, 2011

    Thank you for this. I think even beyond what you point out — and the dog analogy is excellent — is the fact that still, even to this day, when a woman is assaulted, the first thing people do is speculate on how she got herself into that situation and should she wish to prosecute, she not only has to prove that her character is unassailable, that her recollection of the evening was photographic (nearly impossible if any alcohol was consumed) but even if there is evidence of sex…sex that might have even been aggressive, she will have to prove that she did not consent, a nearly impossible feat. One need look no further than the NYPD officers who were cleared of all rape charges recently.

    Admittedly, this is at least in part a byproduct of a legal system that very rightfully assumes the innocence of the accused, but with rape, it’s a zero sum game in which the innocence of the accused is determined by putting the blame on the accuser.

    So this is my long way of saying that women are expected to be responsible for avoiding other people’s unspeakable behavior. This makes the claims that we should not feel nervous in such situations, particularly frustrating. We cannot implicitly trust people we don’t know. Not only will our safety be at risk, but we will bear the burden of proof in proving we didn’t “have it coming.”

    Of all the conversations going on over at Skepchick, I found this particular one most galling. https://skitch.com/missmarnie/fepb2/the-privilege-delusion-skepchick
    Apparently, women’s being mistrustful is hurtful to men. *sigh*

  169. #169 pteryxx
    July 6, 2011

    If you get onto an elevator with an acquaintance, you’re almost four times as likely to get raped by him as if you get onto an elevator with a stranger. And Amanda is much more likely to get raped by Greg than to get raped by a stranger. Maybe talent for statistical inference is Y-chromosome linked?
    –bks

    Oh FFS. Nobody claimed being polite about elevators is going to magically end all rape everywhere. It won’t make mens’ balls shrivel up and the species go extinct either. All it WILL do is help people respect each other a little more. Y’know, respect *instead of fear*. Or is your hyperbole gene X-linked? /geneticspedantry

  170. #170 DuWayne
    July 6, 2011

    AngryNoodle –

    I am a generally compassionate, caring person – even when it comes to people I find completely repugnant. I genuinely care about my fellow humans, simply because they are human and subject to complex sets of variables that drive their behaviors. People in general annoy the shit out of me, but I understand a fair bit about human behavior and the complexities involved in decision-making – so I am able to maintain a fair bit a caring, even for people who believe horrible things.

    I am not always very nice, but I am very free with whatever I happen to possess that might help someone else.

    I am mortified at the idea that women would consider me a potential threat. I certainly don’t deserve to be thought of that way – I will even happily assume that you don’t either. I have a innate desire to assume the best fo people, until they prove themselves undeserving of that respect. We are likely both very nice guys who wouldn’t dream of purposely hurting anyone. I will even go as far as to say that it makes me angry that women feel that way.

    The important thing is that I accept that women have very important reasons for feeling the way that they do. Yes, it makes me angry, but that anger isn’t for the women who need to do what they must to protect themselves – rather it is for a culture that fosters the need for this fear. I also accept that while I may not be responsible for ensuring that women are clearly aware that I am not a threat, I do think it is polite to do so when possible.

    It doesn’t damage me in fact, that women assume that I might be a bad guy. And it is generally easy enough to put strange women at ease – even if that takes some small effort on my part.

    As for the idea that we should be paranoid about other things, if women are going to be afraid strange men are a potential threat – I have concerns about all the things you mentioned. I tend to relegate my concerns about those things to a ratio that reasonably closely matches the threat level – both in terms of potential harm and the likelihood of a given threat actually manifesting.

    For example, out of the items you listed, I am most concerned about drivers running red lights and focus more attention of that potentiality than any of the others you list. Especially as I am not a particularly bad driver – pretty average really, and I have run red lights a couple of times. I also assume that cars that swerve a little towards or into my lane a little aren’t paying enough attention to avoid hitting me. Does that mean most drivers are going to run a red light? No, it happens quite rarely really – but it happens and I am big on doing what I can to keep my family safe on the road. Are most drivers who swerve a little actually a threat? Again, no – but my assuming they are doesn’t hurt them or me.

    Personally, I don’t understand not making those sorts of assumptions. I am not talking about walking around afraid all the time, but rather being careful. And really, that is exactly what we are talking about here. Women are generally not walking around in a constant terror of being sexually assaulted (though some are, usually for very unfortunate reasons). They are just very aware of that underlying threat – especially when they are in specific situations that elevate that threat level.

  171. #171 what
    July 6, 2011

    So men should adjust to an other people’s irrational fears?

    The dog analogy is completely ridiculous. The reason you don’t see it is because you’re referring to me. What happens when you make this analogy with African-Americans? After all, they have a higher crime rate. Do you fear blacks? Perhaps we should drink from a separate fountain in order to be considerate of this fear.

  172. #172 Raging Bee
    July 6, 2011

    what: if a woman has been harassed or assaulted, and/or knows other women who have been assaulted, then her fears of assault are not “irrational,” you stupid shit.

    And what the Hell is wrong with making occasional minor behavior adjustments in response to other people’s concerns? If that’s too harsh a burden for you, just remember that in some parts of the world, men and women alike have to make MAJOR adjustments to keep from being harassed, arrested, and possibly murdered by corrupt or tyrannical security forces. We men have it easy here, so quit being such a Randroid crybaby.

  173. #173 Raging Bee
    July 6, 2011

    What happens when you make this analogy with African-Americans?

    That’s already been discussed, moron. The fact that you didn’t read it above says a lot about you.

  174. #174 what
    July 6, 2011

    No, Raging Bee. It hasn’t been discussed at all. Greg merely brushed it off. Saying this is not stereotyping when it very clearly is. Instead he opts to call it “evaluating.”

    So again I ask, with Greg’s logic and dog analogy withstanding, how does he feel about black people? What does he feel they should do in order to make racists more comfortable? I would really like to know.

  175. #175 HFM
    July 6, 2011

    First, I don’t believe the “shy guy” defense. In terms of public humiliation per unit of sex, propositioning fellow conference-goers in an elevator has got to be only marginally better than standing in a highway median with a sign reading “hello ladies, please do me”. She’s basically guaranteed to say no, and then she’ll tell her friends who you are so they can avoid you too. I think Elevator Guy just saw an opportunity, figured that an infinitesimal chance of getting laid was better than none at all, and went for it. And he was called out, correctly, for having bad manners.

    Second, Rebecca is right – when you’re in a professional context and trying to argue for your ideas, it’s discouraging to find yourself constantly hit on instead. I’ve never been to an atheist con, but as a female in a CS-ish field…the conferences are ridiculous. There are typically several dozen men for every woman. I don’t feel threatened, because I’m large and surly enough that even the genuine creeps don’t want to be locked in an elevator with me when I’m angry. But even then, it’s discouraging and tiring. (And it makes me far less likely to respond – if word got out that I might fancy a shag, I’d never get a moment’s peace at these things.) I know that many women are much more uncomfortable with this than I am; they don’t go to conferences, or they leave the field entirely. That’s a great way to lose talent.

    It’s not that men should never express interest. However, women are real people too, and we have interests besides getting laid. If you can manage to be interested in the person attached to the vagina, you’re likely to make a friend – and a friend is far more likely to either reciprocate your interest or introduce you to someone who will.

    And finally, when did manners become so controversial? You don’t corner people in elevators, or overtake a smaller person on the sidewalk late at night, for the same reason you don’t take a dump on the subway – we’ve all got to share the public spaces, so we should think about how our behavior affects those around us. I’ll cross the street, and when that’s not possible, I have pulled out my phone and had a fake conversation. It’s just polite, and it’s really not that hard.

  176. #176 Tualha
    July 6, 2011

    Raging Bee @172: There are an awful lot of comments to wade through, you might cut people a little slack there.

    DuWayne @169: Very well put.

    what @170: The point that Greg and many others have been making is that these fears are not irrational, any more than fearing a possibly-rabid dog is irrational. Lots and lots of women have been sexually assaulted and/or raped. I’ve met four myself, that I know of, and I’m by no means an outgoing person with hundreds of friends. It’s a very real and prevalent danger. And the only “adjustment” being asked for is to realize that hitting on a stranger while alone in an elevator at 4am, or walking behind a woman alone on the streets at night, is a legitimate cause for wariness on her part, and to be aware of this and be a little considerate and polite.

  177. #177 Marnie
    July 6, 2011

    @What
    If you are willing to consider this point seriously, here are my thoughts on the topic.

    1. Black people do not hold the same position of privilege that white people do so the analogy fails there. Women are at a disadvantage to men because of their generally smaller stature and the logistic limitations of a woman raping a man versus the alternative. So racism from a person in a place of privilege is more akin to a man telling a woman not to worry her pretty little head about being alone in an elevator with a stranger asking for sex.
    2. When an individual is mugged, regardless of what gender or race any of the individuals are, it’s assumed the person making the claim is being truthful and that person, having your property on hand, can conceivably be linked back to the crime. When a woman is raped, her manner of dress and level of intoxication are considered against her, and even if she submits to a rape kit, it may be argued that she consented and it is simply her word against his. Women often get fucked twice when they are raped, once by the perpetrator and again by society.
    3. Avoiding putting yourself in dangerous situations is not racist or sexist. Anyone, anywhere, who has avoided walking or driving through a dangerous area late at night, or who chose the well lit atm over the dark one or who looks both ways before crossing at a pedestrian cross walk has taken similar measures. It’s not to disparage any one individual in the area, it’s to avoid situations that could spiral out of your control.
    4. Women clearly hook up with men all the time. There are ways to do so without making her feel like she could be in a dangerous situation and by making small accommodations for someone else’s feelings you might actually have a better chance of getting the results you are hoping for. It seems like a win all around to me.

  178. #178 Tualha
    July 6, 2011

    BTW, “what”, you might consider using a handle that’s easier to search for. It can be hard to follow a thread in a big conversation like this if you can’t effectively search for the participants’ names.

  179. #179 Raging Bee
    July 6, 2011

    No, Raging Bee. It hasn’t been discussed at all. Greg merely brushed it off.

    Bullshit: it was discussed quite seriously, in at least one comment that I recall. You could have been honest and admitted you hadn’t read the comments before asking a question that had already been answered, but instead you just flat-out denied something that is still up there for all to see. Like most of the guys trying to pretend we’re the ones being victimized here, you’re acting like a clueless asshat by equating a valid concern with ignorant racism. Take your pet peeve somewhere else where it’s actually relevant.

  180. #180 DaveL
    July 6, 2011

    For all the guys who are mortally offended at being told not to accost lone women in elevators and avoid walking up behind them on empty streets at 1 AM, I have to wonder: haven’t you ever been in that situation?

    I was never taught these ‘tricks’ people here are suggesting for defusing what are stressful situations for women. I know about them because I learned them from having been alone in an elevator with a woman I didn’t know, and from innocently overtaking a woman on the sidewalk at night. I could feel the anxiety and alarm coming off those women, I could tell it was because of me, and it really made me uncomfortable and desirous to find a way to defuse or avoid the situation. So I learned to ignore the woman on the elevator. Or stop to make a phone call. Or cross the street.

    So what I really want to know is – have you just never found yourself in this situation so it’s all just an abstract intellectual exercise for you? Have you been in thses situations and just not sensed any anxiety from the woman in question? Did you sense it but just dismiss it as irrational, and unfair toward you to boot?

  181. #181 Raging Bee
    July 6, 2011

    And finally, when did manners become so controversial?

    When people like Ayn Rand took reflexive, hormone-driven adolescent rebellion, dressed it up, put lipstick on it, and made it into an ideology/religion.

  182. #182 Mel
    July 6, 2011

    Women (especially feminists, like myself) constantly tout how strong we are and how, if given the opportunity, we can contribute to society in a way that has been suppressed for centuries. However, articles like this play on the fear that women are fed from the womb, that all men are scary monsters out to steal our virtue, and women are delicate flowers easily bruised and taken advantage of. It is time that women stand up for themselves by taking action … if one feels threatened by the larger male population, than do something about it by become educated in self-defense and becoming aware of one’s personal space and the environment around them. It is not only an unfair and sexist generalization toward males, being tagged as a potential threat and forced into catering to the fear that women have been force-fed for decades, and to be responsible for the feelings of every woman he confronts, but it is unfair and sexist toward women to be forcibly victimized through these grand generalizations that all men are sex-crazed maniacs waiting to pounce on any breathing female that crosses their path. Perhaps it is the media’s way of maintaining the glass ceiling, of keeping women at arm’s length so that we are too afraid to reach our full potential, I don’t know for sure. And don’t get me wrong, a very large portion of the female population has been or will be victimized in their lifetimes, but don’t forget that males are socially discouraged from speaking out or reporting crimes/abuse against them, do we just overlook the countless men who have been and will also be victimized? This article is patronizing and offensive. It makes women look like weak, inept, naïve prey instead of intelligent, capable, assertive, contributing members of society.

  183. #183 Raging Bee
    July 6, 2011

    It is not only an unfair and sexist generalization toward males, being tagged as a potential threat and forced into catering to the fear that women have been force-fed for decades…

    Who here is talking about “forcing” men to do anything remotely that extreme? We’re only talking about tact, manners, and making some minor changes in our behavior in certain situations. Your gross misrepresentation of both women’s valid concerns and men’s appropriate response to such concerns is not at all helpful.

    Besides, if you’re really as concerned with how women are treated as you say you are, you’d understand that women’s fears aren’t “force-fed,” they are — as many women’s comments here remind us — the result of direct experience and observation.

    This article is patronizing and offensive. It makes women look like weak, inept, naïve prey instead of intelligent, capable, assertive, contributing members of society.

    You’re the one being “patronizing and offensive” here. Are you saying that the woman who objected to one man’s creepy uncalled-for behavior “looks like weak, inept, naïve prey instead of intelligent, capable, assertive, contributing members of society?” Has anyone here said anything like that? Did you even read this thread, or are you just trolling for opportunities to bash feminists?

  184. #184 James
    July 6, 2011

    @Dave at 180 –

    I am not offended, but no, I have never been in that situation. I have never overtaken anyone on the street at 1 am. I have never spoken with anyone in an elevator that I did not know, unless they spoke to me first. I certainly have never propositioned anyone without already being very well acquainted with them.

    But what am I to think about this blanket statement in the original post… “If you are a man and you do not know about this trick then there is a problem with you.” I have never heard about crossing the street to avoid being too near a woman. Therefore, there is a problem with me.

    How did this happen? How did all males become either someone who “gets it”, or a creepy rapacious jerk?

  185. #185 Phyraxus
    July 6, 2011

    Considering the veritable shitstorm that has ensued, and EG probably reads blogs since he was at an skeptic conference, Why hasn’t he come forward to tell his side of the story?

  186. #186 Tualha
    July 6, 2011

    Probably too embarrassed. I know I’d be.

  187. #187 Warren
    July 6, 2011

    I don’t believe ‘Mel’ @ 182 is a woman. Too many convenient, canned responses – the post could have been written by the MansplainerBot 2000 AI algorithm.

    From the moment this thing started leaking into my RSS feeds, I was deeply discouraged, because I’ve seen these kinds of discussions come and go, and I’d really hoped for a more enlightened response than has happened.

    I’m not sure what’s so hard to understand about Rebecca Watson’s objections to Elevator Guy, and while I suppose I can understand the defensive tone that some men have taken on, I learned a while back that the best attitude for any man to take in this kind of situation – if he doesn’t get what’s happening, or if he’s feeling defensive – is to just sit quietly, pay attention, and listen to what’s being said.

    The worst part for me, though, was (and remains) Dawkins’s tone-deafness.

  188. #188 Bill Door
    July 6, 2011

    Raging B. #172, #181
    Yeah, we get it, you don’t like Libertarians. Hasn’t Dispatches grow tired of your little hobby-horse already? Or is that why you’re here?

  189. #189 Raging Bee
    July 6, 2011

    Yeah, we get it, you don’t like Libertarians.

    Yeah, I get it, you can’t actually defend libertarianism, but you’re too insecure to let any criticism of it pass without saying something, even if it’s nothing of substance.

  190. #190 Dan
    July 6, 2011

    If a person were afraid to be on an elevator alone with a dog, I would suggest that person might increase their quality of life by addressing that phobia. Most encounters with strange dogs do not end in getting bitten (granted…some do), and those that do not are very rewarding. Being able to cautiously, but confidently interact with dogs is a great asset in a world so full of dogs, and a rewarding experience if you don’t shut yourself off from it due to irrational anxiety.

  191. #191 Marnie
    July 6, 2011

    @Mel/182, your statements are another take on blaming the victim, already a problem for victims of assault. What you said boils down to, “the man isn’t responsible for his violent behavior, the woman is responsible for not having taken self defense courses.” How is this even remotely feminist?

  192. #192 Bill Door
    July 6, 2011

    #189
    I’m not a Libertarian. It’s just annoying and has jack shit to do with the topic. That’s all.

  193. #193 Azkyroth
    July 6, 2011

    The second is an example of how men’s minds work and will always work. My guess is that every straight man who read Megan Fox at least momentarily thought about having sex with her.

    1) who?
    2) wrong.

  194. #194 Stephanie Z
    July 6, 2011

    Bill, Bee is dead on that the issue here is people who aren’t willing to take on their equal responsibilities in society. I appreciate the commentary and any additional analogy that might help somebody else finally get it.

  195. #195 Raging Bee
    July 6, 2011

    …if he doesn’t get what’s happening, or if he’s feeling defensive – is to just sit quietly, pay attention, and listen to what’s being said.

    I’m no great understander of women, but I do keep hearing that they want partners who are good listeners.

  196. #196 Donna Watkins
    July 6, 2011

    This post made me weak with relief and I wish this could be mandatory reading for all men and those men who read it but did not get it could be sent to some sort of camp.

  197. #197 Donna Watkins
    July 6, 2011

    I just read this post, went on my break at work, came back to my desk and am still thinking about it.

    To the woman who thought about getting a dog- this is a huge equalizer. I have big formidable looking dogs and there are three situations that they have probably prevented things from happening to me just by their presence. In all three cases, my dogs were not immediately apparent, men approached me in places where it was not appropriate to do so. As soon as my dogs made themselves visable, the men in all cases immediately stopped, turned around, and walked away. I have no concrete proof they were going to do anything, but in the first case especially, the man’s behavior almost couldn’t be explained innocently.

    To the author of the piece, just because a dog doesn’t obey someone he or she does not know does not mean they have been trained for illicit purposes. My dogs ignore strangers and they have never been trained to do anything other than be good companions, really.

  198. #198 Pteryxx
    July 6, 2011

    Know how one woman’s being an intelligent, capable, assertive, contributing member of society? By publicly speaking about women’s concerns in society, backing them up with data and analysis, and giving illustrative examples along with suggestions on fixing the problems.

  199. #199 DaveL
    July 6, 2011

    But what am I to think about this blanket statement in the original post… “If you are a man and you do not know about this trick then there is a problem with you.” I have never heard about crossing the street to avoid being too near a woman. Therefore, there is a problem with me.

    Well, I do think that’s a little too general. If you’ve never been taught and you’ve never even been in a situation where such knowledge would be called for, who could blame you? But now you know, so that’s moot.

    I also have a lot of compassion for people who answer with my second option, those men who through no fault of their own are extremely bad at reading other people’s emotional cues. Again, though, Rebecca Watson and others have come out to explain how this all works explicitly, so now it would behoove such men to work this new knowledge into the coping strategies they use to navigate social interactions without an emotional radar.

    Which leaves us with the third option, the people like Dan here who simply declare the woman’s anxiety irrational and substitute their own evaluation of how they ought to feel and what risks they ought to be comfortable with. That attitude displays a huge amount of entitlement and privilege. The only question is, will he respect a woman’s right to her anxiety even if he finds it irrational?

  200. #200 Vince whirlwind
    July 6, 2011

    Men are far more likely to become victims of violent assault than women.

    *Men* are afraid when they find themselves in close proximity to a strange man at 4am in the morning.

    Rebecca’s problem (and Greg’s) is that despite having long ago reached adulthood, she still spends all her time at school. Her and her over-educated ilk need to get a real job in the real world and stop whining about their elaborate persecution fantasies.

  201. #201 Marnie
    July 6, 2011

    @Vince,
    Your statement is so insane it hardly deserves comment but.

    1 and 2 mean that you are just as creeped out by someone being confine in close proximity to you at 4 in the morning as Rebecca was. That is all she said.

    Your third item makes no sense, what does schooling have to do with anything. I do not have a college degree, I work a real job and I have personally been in situations where I was confined against my will by a stranger I couldn’t out muscle. Where is this “elaborate persecution fantasy” and what is so distasteful about a woman saying that she doesn’t appreciate being creeped out by someone else?

    You may not be a misogynist, but that statement makes you sound like one. Your arguments are not about what Rebecca said or her argument supporting her view, they are attacks at her personally, and that only serves to make you look like you have no valid argument to make.

  202. #202 Misaki
    July 6, 2011

    “Hi everyone, I found out what the problem is!

    This is a conflict between people who think that atheist and skeptic organizations are ways to meet new friends and interesting people, and people who think that the purpose is to improve the world by fixing problems.

    The former now dislike Richard Dawkins. The latter think that the former are stupid, and accordingly they should read http://pastebin.com/Q86Zhgs9 on how to address that stupidity in a very roundabout way.”

  203. #203 Misaki
    July 6, 2011

    (mistyped closing markup for bold… anyway)

    To clarify, the first type of person wants to eliminate poor behavior by males who attend atheist and skeptic conferences. The latter type of person puts priority on problems that affect the entire world, not just the social environment of a particular movement.

  204. #204 Tired woman
    July 6, 2011

    @ Donna Watkins @ 197,

    Thanks for your post. I have a friend in law enforcement who would agree with you about the deterrent power of large dogs, and even though I am in a state that allows for concealed carry, I think having a large dog (or three) is a lot better than training with and carrying a handgun.

    Though I imagine the latter would be a deterrent as well.

  205. #205 Greg is a Sexist, Probably a Racist
    July 6, 2011

    Greg, if you’re going to claim, post facto, that there is a world of difference between what you wrote about men, and what commenters are abstracting to blacks, you need to spell it out.

    In fact, that kind of substitution is frequently used by feminists trying to explain why a statement about women would be offensive if made about blacks.

    I agree with many that while I sympathize with Rebecca Watson, YOUR post comparing men to dogs, IS offensive, and sexist.

    Your denial that this is analogous to a statement about blacks demonstrates your ignorance.

  206. #206 Azkyroth
    July 6, 2011

    I also have a lot of compassion for people who answer with my second option, those men who through no fault of their own are extremely bad at reading other people’s emotional cues. Again, though, Rebecca Watson and others have come out to explain how this all works explicitly, so now it would behoove such men to work this new knowledge into the coping strategies they use to navigate social interactions without an emotional radar.

    Which is more or less my point. Of the polyphyletic group “clueless guys,” a significant proportion, maybe even a slight majority, would be helped by more of this, with more explicit steps and guidelines and fewer vague blanket references to using intuition and empathy. And would be helped even more by attaching that to less contempt for people who even need this sort of help.

  207. #207 SallyStrange
    July 6, 2011

    Somebody – I don’t recall who – said that we don’t live in a rape culture.

    1 in 10 women (conservative estimate!) will experience rape, sexual assault, or attempted rape in her lifetime.

    6% of rapes result in a conviction for the rapist.

    What would it take for this to be truly a rape culture? 1 in 2 women assaulted over the course of the average woman’s lifetime? 1% of rape resulting in a conviction?

    Right now we live in a society where rapist behavior is normalized.

    This guy was not, in fact, exhibiting socially awkward behavior. Inviting someone to your bedroom while you’re in an enclosed space together with no immediate exit available is socially aggressive behavior.

    It’s the kind of behavior rapists use to identify likely targets. Rapists, particularly the ones that don’t get caught, use society’s expectations around rape and sexual assault to ensure they won’t get caught. Undetected rapists:

    -are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;
    -plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;
    -use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse
    -control and use only as much violence as is needed to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;
    -use psychological weapons – power, control, manipulation, and threats – backed up by physical force, and almost never resort to weapons such as knives or guns

    By defending EG’s right to be an asshole, you are defending a society where rapists can count on the fact that it’s very common for men, not just rapists, to try to figure out ways to ignore a woman’s “no,” whether it is direct or implied. What you are doing is ignoring “the social structure that allows the predators to hide in plain sight, to sit at the bar at the same table with everyone, take a target home, rape her, and stay in the same social circle because she can’t or won’t tell anyone, or because nobody does anything if she does.”

    Source for the quotes: http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/

    It’s unfair. Certainly. But women didn’t create this situation. Men did, by raping women for centuries and/or keeping silent while other men raped women. And boys and girls and trans men and trans women. If it makes you angry then work to change the culture, and stop complaining about how hard it is to take up the onerous burden of considering women’s fears and perspectives as if women are real and rational persons with intrinsic value beyond their worth as cock-wetting devices.

  208. #208 Greg Laden
    July 6, 2011

    SallyS, your rates of assault number is probably way low.

  209. #209 SallyStrange
    July 6, 2011

    Once again for clarity:

    Undetected rapists:

    -are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;
    -plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;
    -use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse -control and use only as much violence as is needed to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;
    -use psychological weapons – power, control, manipulation, and threats – backed up by physical force, and almost never resort to weapons such as knives or guns

    Whether EG was a rapist or not, he was using some of the same coercive behaviors. Maybe he really did just want to talk to her once he got her in his room, maybe he wanted consensual sex, maybe he wanted to rape her. Who knows? The point is that non-rapist men can help combat the problem of rape by a.) not engaging in this behavior and b.) stigmatizing this sort of behavior amongst men.

  210. #210 GodfreyTemple
    July 6, 2011

    Well done, Greg. Thank you for the post.

    It mystifies me as to why people are so deeply invested in making this an attack, or nothing, but in either case something that shouldn’t be discussed and go should away.

    And perhaps it’s new to me because I’m relatively new to blog-reading, but this is the first time I’ve seen a seemingly unfocused group doing a surprisingly focused (though certainly not by intention) job of trying to silence a reasonable complaint/suggestion.

    It’s not been heartening at other blogs. So it’s been good to see a few patches of reasonable here.

  211. #211 James Davis
    July 6, 2011

    Hey Greg. I seem to disagree with you more than all the other Sciencebloggers combined, but I hope I’ve written out my response in a clear and respectful way over on my blog.

    I agree with most people that EG probably did something bad that he shouldn’t have, and I agree that R. Dawkins was totally out-of-line here, but I am displeased with some of the things you suggest here.

    http://aleis-blog.blogspot.com/2011/07/elevators-women-and-dogs.html

  212. #212 Greg laden
    July 6, 2011

    James, thanks for the link. Your problems with stereotypes are not related to the topic, however. In any event, were you aware of the fact that African Americans often spend considerable energy dealing with white discomfort? Also, male compensation of female discomfort gone bad or insufficient does not lead to multiple arrests over trumped up charges, lynchings, etc. IOW the symmetries of the two situations are utterly different.

  213. #213 Laurent Weppe
    July 7, 2011

    The point that Greg and many others have been making is that these fears are not irrational, any more than fearing a possibly-rabid dog is irrational

    Actually, being afraid to meet a rabid dog is irrationnal: I don’t know about the US, but if I take mainland France, there has been one case of a girl being bitten by a rabbid dog in 2008, and the case before that happened in 1924. With 8 millions dogs in the country and one case every 80 years, I would certainly say that someone in my country claiming “OMG, Dog is drooling, rabbies alert!!!!!” is way way way waaaaaaaaay more irrational than someone fearing to be assaulted at night. And even assuming that there are more rabbies cases in the US, I really don’t think that the number of rabbid dogs in the US comes close to the number of rapists. Another reason why this analogy is moronic to begin with.

    ***

    So what I really want to know is – have you just never found yourself in this situation so it’s all just an abstract intellectual exercise for you? Have you been in thses situations and just not sensed any anxiety from the woman in question? Did you sense it but just dismiss it as irrational, and unfair toward you to boot?

    It happened to me, more than once. But the point is not that anxiety is irrational or impossible to comprehend: the problem is that what is asked (cross the street, take another elevator, pick up your phone) is utterly useless. Once I was in the subway, alone with a woman in front of me. The woman gauged me, then decided to move (rather hurriedly) to the other extremity of the wagon. The problem is, it did not make her any safer: with me, the chances of being assaulted were zero to begin with, so it’s not much of a problem, but let’s assume that it was not me but my very hypothetical evil raping clone: in this case, rushing 10 to 20 meters away from my evil clone would not have diminished the threats either, because my evil clone would have had no difficulty following her. The only thing it gave the woman was an illusion of control.

    Those routines that some are demanding here are similar: a rapist can cross the street, and keep stalking a woman from here, or pick up his phone, and pretend to be talking or focused on a video game while planning his assault: the only thing those “minor behavior adjustment” grant women is an illusion of safety.

    ***

    In all three cases, my dogs were not immediately apparent, men approached me in places where it was not appropriate to do so

    Personnaly, seeing a woman with a formidable looking dog is the most surfire way to make me jump from “utterly indiffirent” to “cafeinated obnoxious dog enthousiast”. Then again, I grew up with a big and very formidable dog, so now big dogs just make me go starry-eyed and thinking “Puppy! Iwanthesamathome!”

  214. #214 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2011

    What does France have to do with rabies in the US plains? And rabies was only one (minor) factor in responding to the dog.

  215. #215 Laurent Weppe
    July 7, 2011

    What does France have to do with rabies in the US plains?

    You’re the one who started with the rapist/dog analogy: I’m pointing, using the case I know the most, that the chances to meet a rabid dog are way lower than the chances to meet a rapist, which means that “I’m afraid that this drooling dog might bite me because he’s become mad from his disease” is not as rational “I’m afraid that this unknown man might assault me”, and even taking into account the fact that there are more rabid dog in the US than in France, they are still quite clearly less numerous than sexual predators:
    http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/resources/publications/2009-surveillance/rabid-dogs.html

    And beyond that, the fact is that as far as we know, an healthy dog who bites does not premeditate its attack, does not select in advance its victims, and does not use manipulative tactics to create opportunity to bite.

  216. #216 SallyStrange
    July 7, 2011

    Those routines that some are demanding here are similar: a rapist can cross the street, and keep stalking a woman from here, or pick up his phone, and pretend to be talking or focused on a video game while planning his assault: the only thing those “minor behavior adjustment” grant women is an illusion of safety.

    You can, at least, grant a fellow citizen a few moments’ freedom from worrying about the integrity of that illusion. Everyone’s feeling of safety is an illusion.

    I don’t find the crossing the street discussion to be as interesting as the elevator discussion, because it doesn’t have that element of a man clearly disregarding several signals from the woman he’s interested in, RW in this case, that she’s going to say “no” to any potential offers of sexual congress. If we can get normal, well-intentioned, non-raping men to stop. period. with these bullshit, half-assed ways of “getting around” the no, whether the no is explicit or implicit, that will afford actual rapists fewer tactics and fewer ways to hide in plain sight.

  217. #217 Greg laden
    July 7, 2011

    Laurent, I’m afraid that you have utterly missed the point of the dog story, then.

  218. #218 Equisetum
    July 7, 2011

    “that it’s insulting for us normal guys to be treated as rapists-until-proven-otherwise.”

    Jumping in mid-thread for just a second. I don’t know if this is addressed further downstream, but I have to go to work, and I just wanted to say this: I’m a normal guy. Never raped or harassed anyone. I’m not a threat. And I am not at all insulted when a woman I don’t know, or who doesn’t know me well perceives a threat where none exists because she doesn’t know that. I’m not insulted because I understand the fear and anxiety. What the guys aren’t getting is that women have to continuously evaluate the threat level of men they meet.

    OK, I just thought the about women I know who have been raped. Just the ones who trusted me enough to tell me what happened. The rapists have been: Husband, brother, father, father and brother, brother again, step-father, boyfriend-turned-stalker. That’s where I stopped. So I’d like to amend one sentence above to read “And I am not at all insulted when a woman perceives a threat where none exists because she doesn’t know that.” Any man can be a threat to any woman.

    Don’t take it so personally.

  219. #219 Raymond
    July 7, 2011

    Truly sensational!

  220. #220 Laurent Weppe
    July 7, 2011

    I’m afraid that you have utterly missed the point of the dog story

    I did not miss the point: it’s just that this analogy sucks.

  221. #221 sigh
    July 7, 2011

    >It’s unfair. Certainly. But women didn’t create this situation. Men did, by raping women for centuries and/or keeping silent while other men raped women. And boys and girls and trans men and trans women. If it makes you angry then work to change the culture, and stop complaining about how hard it is to take up the onerous burden of considering women’s fears and perspectives as if women are real and rational persons with intrinsic value beyond their worth as cock-wetting devices.

    It’s unfair. Certainly. But men didn’t create this situation. Women did, by being whores for centuries and/or keeping silent while other women were whores. And boys and girls and trans men and trans women. If it makes you angry then work to change the culture, and stop complaining about how hard it is to take up the onerous burden of considering men’s fears and perspectives as if men are real and rational persons with intrinsic value beyond their worth as cock-wetting devices.

  222. #222 Paulino
    July 7, 2011

    The stress level of women in this sort of situation is completely understandable. I have yet to meet a woman who has not been sexually harassed in some way.

  223. #223 Jess
    July 7, 2011

    Whores are businesswomen, sighing troll; very stigmatized and very visible ones at that.

    It’s not easy to mix them up with non-professionals, which is probably one of the reasons beyond being cheap bastards why rapists generally don’t offer to pay their victims for their time, and why rapists choose to rape instead of part with a few hours’ worth of their wage for a nice consensual blow job.

    BTW, seeing an equivalence between being a sex worker with a willing, indeed paying clientele and being a rapist demonstrates a grasp of economics that’s almost as poor as the self-esteem of any woman who’d touch your junk if you shared that sort of perspective with her.

    If you’re going to come up with a trollalogy, try to make it a bit less obviously retarded. The grown-ups are talking.

  224. #224 sigh
    July 7, 2011

    Yes, grownups are talking. Grownups who are bigots and ignorant to their own stereotyping of men as rapists.

    You argue specifics to avoid the obvious. Unless, of course, you’re actually fine with a man considering all women whores.

  225. #225 Stan Douglas
    July 7, 2011

    I’ll first summarize my position, and then I’ll explain it. Please read the entire text before criticizing.

    As a very respectful man, I simply refuse to behave in order to minimize some people’s irrational fears. And no it’s not because I’m insensitive. Everyone should be responsible for their own thoughts and the effects they have on their own lives, and if they don’t, I refuse to let the crazyness spread to me.

    If they choose to have irrational fears, and those have an bad effect on their lives, I’m sorry but I will not accept to be penalized or to do something different. Security is not increased when fear is generalized. And yes, I’d really feel dirty to behave in a certain way just so I don’t hurt your exagerated insecurity. When every women live in fear when crossing any men, nobody wins, and everybody loses.

    Since rape will most likely continue, the problem for these women is simply fear itself, a wrong understanding of the phenomenon, and not taking effective means against the attack.

    In addition to making your life less enjoyable (since it’s a frequent situation), fear will not help you defend yourself. You will be much more likely to defend yourself if you are vigilant than if you’re terrified and shaking.

    Instead, I urge the people having those fears to confront fear itself. Take self-defense courses, become more confident through sports or other means. Vigilance is good, but not fear.

    Actually being too fearful might even work against her. Instead of having more friends, they may end up being more isolated and thus more vulnerable. In the same way that when I find a wallet I do not leave it there, since I know I’ll behave in the best interest of the owner and maybe not someone else, I estimate that my presence in an elevator is actually a protection for a female.

    The big problem with irrational fears is that not only do they not help you improve the situation, but they also may suggest solutions that are inneficient or that bring a false sense of security, whereas a rational approach connects you more directly with reality. Taken from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_in_the_United_States#Rape_statistics):

    – Only between 8 and 26% of the rapes are committed by a stranger versus the rest committed by a Current or Former Intimate Partner, Another Relative, or a Friend or Acquaintance
    – Only 4% of rapes are committed outdoors.
    – In 47% of [] rapes, both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking.
    – four out of ten sexual assaults take place at the victim’s own home

    Let’s consider the real tradeoffs in the fight for our security (see Bruce Shneier), and let’s penalize the rapists and not all men.

  226. #226 Jess
    July 7, 2011

    I argue specifics to illustrate you’ve got no idea what you’re arguing about, sigh, which I’d say is actually confronting the obvious head-on.

    Your analogy was beyond poor. The more I look at it the more laughable it is, and in light of your second comment it’s even funnier, because I’m starting to think you believe you have a point.

    You suggested women are disproportionately whores (or else made a clumsy attempt to suggest that considering women disproportionately whores has something to do with women being scared of men because they get assualted by men quite a lot) and then suggested I was alright with a man thinking they’re all whores, on the basis of me writing it’s hard to mix up a whore with someone who isn’t a whore.

    Mind you, that’s the sort of sharp observational power I’d expect from someone who’s got the message “all men are rapists” from this post or thread, or the comment you so witlessly rephrased (wherein, by the way, you suggested children are whores. Bravo!).

  227. #227 Petzl
    July 7, 2011

    The message is clear: do not flirt with or attempt to date atheist women, lest you be seen as one of those aforementioned “pathetic single atheist men.” Wait, that’s exactly how you become a pathetic single atheist man. Now, I’m confused.

  228. #228 utopia27
    July 7, 2011

    This is not the first time that I have been accused of being a potential rapist. One of my daughters has a friend whose family is very traditional muslim. The male head of their household works hours that don’t align with mine, so our families never visit. Because muslim mores/taboos are predicated on the assumption that all men are rapists, and only incest taboos protect women within their families.

    Now the fact that they want to observe these traditions is their business. I find the basic premise deeply insulting and offensive. But mostly, it’s their problem. Until they make it my problem, because they won’t answer the door if the husband isn’t home – not even to release my daughter to me. My wife must go to pick her up. If their daughter is visiting our house, my wife must be in the house.

    For my daughter’s benefit, and to support her friendship with her friend, I keep track of these cultural taboos/mores and do my best to respect them. And every second I spend thinking about it, I am reminded that the premise is that I am an untrustworthy rapist and child molester. And I am recurrently pissed off that I have to have a space in my head labeled “as a rapist, you would sexually assault females in this situation, therefore this situation is taboo”.

    If it were not for my daughter, I would remove myself from association with anyone that forces me to consider my potential rapist activities in any given situation. It’s a disgusting and insulting exercise.

    I do not have a rape switch. What a disempowering, degrading bit of tripe. I also don’t have a cannibalism switch. Nor a murder switch.

    My sister was sexually assaulted in Europe. Some of her friends in country got her proper medical treatment, while several other friends ensured that the attacker was no longer properly equipped. Very direct educational correction to an errant member of our sex.

    I had another friend who was traveling across the Sahara with her husband (because that’s the kind of thing they do for fun). The area they were in _really_ has a rape culture. They encountered a crew of AK-47-toting local gentlemen. My friend did the math, and ‘paid the toll’. She was very clinical and matter-of-fact about it as a ‘transaction’. Her husband was deeply traumatized.

    I really hate rape culture. I really hate being presumed to be a rapist. Ladies, I will avoid pushing your buttons to the extent that it doesn’t involve pushing mine. If you ever have problems with one of the local gents, please sing out so I can come and administer some corrective instruction to the nice gentleman, which I will gladly support. But when I treat you like a human being, and greet you in an elevator (as I would with other adult humans), and maybe even strike up a conversation with you (as I would with other adult humans), and yes, maybe consider the eventual desirability of a sexual liason with you (abstractly – I’m happily married, but sincerely, because I haven’t been castrated) – in that case, if you treat me like a rabid dog I perfectly recognize your right to do so. And I reserve the right to be insulted. Because I am not a rabid dog, and refuse to spend my life self-imagining that way.

    Because the alternative is the arab/muslim assumption, and stereotype reinforcement, that all men are always rapists and must be treated as such. The assumption that women are powerless, and must be maintained haram-like away from all of the confirmed rapist males. This confirmation/vilification also trains and licenses young men in the correctness and license to be a rapist. And I don’t think that’s the kind of world anyone on this forum (if I’m reading it rightly) thinks is ideal.

    As a final note – I think the race analogy is actually very fully and directly apt. If I told a back guy that he ought to wait for the next elevator because I would feel threatened if he rode with me, I would be labeled a crass racist. If it was in a workplace, I might even be up for a hostile workplace suit. And if I tried to use in my defense that I know people who have been mugged and beaten up by black folks (actually true), and that the statistics say that black folks have a higher incidence of criminal prosecution for violent crime than other racial groups in the US (also true), I would be told that these are not valid reasons to inform my coworker that his blackness frightens me and he should ride a different elevator.

    And yet. if you do the substitution, apparently it’s valid for a female to tell me I’m insensitive because my maleness in an elevator with her frightens her.

    And no – ‘FFS’ is not a persuasive argument that logically convinces me that the analogy is not apt. Neither are vague assertions about the degree of privilege inherent in black/white interactions v. male/female interactions. In this instance the power relationship is based on presumed willingness and ability to use violence, and the fear reaction that invokes.

  229. #229 Jim
    July 7, 2011

    SallyStrange (206), shocking as those figures are, it is absurd to say they point to a “rape culture”. I would bet that rates for theft are greater than rape. Does that mean we live in a “theft culture”? No one denies that rape is an evil, but to say it is a “culture” implies that rape is some kind of positive male recreational diversion and not the crime that it is. Your slur on men helps no-one.

    BTW, the figure of a conviction rate of 6% for rape is at best misleading. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7442785/Rape-conviction-rate-figures-misleading.html

  230. #230 Jim
    July 7, 2011

    Nice post Stan (224). I would agree entirely. The problem is that the fear caused by the feminist line that “all men are rapists” can have serious, negative consequences. It is not just a harmless defence mechanism. Let me relate a true story that happened to my friend:-

    My friend was at a party. As the party came to an end, being the thoughtful gentleman that he was, politely offered to walk a certain lady home. He thought he was being considerate and mindful of the woman’s valid concerns for her safety walking alone in a city in the middle of the night. Her reply was astonishing: “I would feel safer on my own”. This, understandably, deeply upset my friend. Accusing an acquaintance of being a potential rapist (but having no evidence), is inexcusable. How can you be friends with someone having explicity implied that you think they are a rapist? Needless to say, the woman was ostracised by many of her social circle for her appalling accusation. If she genuinely felt afraid, then fine, but just politely decline the man’s polite offer. You will note that what Rebecca Watson did was very similar, except that she had the better sense not to do it to Elevator Guy’s face.

  231. #231 Ramel
    July 7, 2011

    @224

    As a very respectful man…

    See also “I’m not racist/sexist/homophobic(delete as apropriate), but…”

  232. #232 DaveL
    July 7, 2011

    Her reply was astonishing: “I would feel safer on my own”. This, understandably, deeply upset my friend. Accusing an acquaintance of being a potential rapist (but having no evidence), is inexcusable. How can you be friends with someone having explicity implied that you think they are a rapist? Needless to say, the woman was ostracised by many of her social circle for her appalling accusation. If she genuinely felt afraid, then fine, but just politely decline the man’s polite offer.

    Are you kidding me? That’s just what she did. She did not accuse him of being a rapist. If your friend is really mindful that a woman has valid safety concerns walking home alone in the city in the middle of the night then he ought to understand why she can’t automatically trust every male ‘acquaintance’ with her personal safety.

    I imagine everybody has ‘acquaintances’ that we wouldn’t have hold our credit cards for safekeeping, or watch our children. It’s not a matter of evidence of criminal behaviour, it’s simply a matter of trust. If you disagree I’m sure you wouldn’t mind giving me power of attorney over your financial dealings – after all I’m a good person and you have no evidence I’m a criminal of any sort.

  233. #233 msironen
    July 7, 2011
    “Accusing an acquaintance of being a potential rapist (but having no evidence), is inexcusable.”

    “She did not accuse him of being a rapist.”

    Either a “potential rapist” is, in some meaningful sense, a rapist or the it’s a meaningless term. “Potential rapists” have, in some meaningful sense, committed an abject moral evil, or they have not.

    Now, considering that all it takes to be a “potential rapist” is to be born with a particular set of genitals, I’d ask anyone who still thinks “potential rapist” is somehow justified to reconsider.

    You can of course keep using it dishonestly to denigrate and shame men (which I surmise is the original intent) or you can try find some less offensive label if you want to be a bit less of an asshole. You’re of course also free to actually believe it’s justified, which of course has the downside that it would make you, in the words of Tim Minchkin, a bit ****ed in the head.

  234. #234 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2011

    Now, considering that all it takes to be a “potential rapist” is to be born with a particular set of genitals, I’d ask anyone who still thinks “potential rapist” is somehow justified to reconsider.

    I have no idea what you mean by this. Could you please explain?

  235. #235 msironen
    July 7, 2011

    “I have no idea what you mean by this. Could you please explain?”

    It simply means that every male is considered a “potential rapist” (even infants, since “potential” obviously isn’t limited to the here and now). I’m still not sure if homosexuals are supposed to get a pass here, though.

  236. #236 Equisetum
    July 7, 2011

    “If they choose to have irrational fears”

    Does anyone else see a problem with this construct?

  237. #237 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2011

    msironen, it’s the second part of your statement that I’m not getting. Are you saying that since all males are “potential rapists” that therefore they are …. what? It is not clear.

  238. #238 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2011

    - Only between 8 and 26% of the rapes are committed by a stranger versus the rest committed by a Current or Former Intimate Partner, Another Relative, or a Friend or Acquaintance
    – Only 4% of rapes are committed outdoors.
    – In 47% of [] rapes, both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking.
    – four out of ten sexual assaults take place at the victim’s own home

    Stan: It’s worst than I thought. Rebecca should have just maced Elevator Guy the moment he got on the lift.

    But seriously, are these statistics supposed to suggest that the chance of being raped by stranger in a non-domestic setting are something that a woman should not be worried about?

    Do you wear a seat belt, Stan?

  239. #239 DaveL
    July 7, 2011

    Either a “potential rapist” is, in some meaningful sense, a rapist or the it’s a meaningless term.

    False dichotomy. A potential rapist is quite simply anyone who isn’t known not to be a rapist or obviously incapable of rape. That definition quite necessarily includes a whole lot of non-rapists and also isn’t meaningless since it does exclude a lot of people.

    “Potential rapists” have, in some meaningful sense, committed an abject moral evil, or they have not.

    Easy question: they have not.

    You can of course keep using it dishonestly to denigrate and shame men (which I surmise is the original intent)

    You surmise wrong. I use it to describe a threat-assessment category that women are forced to use in a limited-information environment. It is not an indictment of the moral character of individual men or of men in general, and any idea that it is can only come from your own personal umbrage-generating machinery.

    It doesn’t even make any sense to say a man is “accused” of being a potential rapist. Nobody is going to be brought up on charges of “potential rape”. A rapist is a rapist regardless of whether anyone else knows or what anybody can prove – you can accuse someone of being a rapist. Being a potential rapist, however, is a purely subjective judgement entirely based on what a woman knows about you and how she perceives what your presence implies for her personal safety. You are a potential rapist to most women, and so am I. You are not, I am sure, a potential rapist to your mother or other women who know you well.

    If you still don’t get it, I’m sure you won’t mind taking me up on my previous offer and signing over power of attorney to me, or sending me a copy of your house key, or your Social Security number, or your credit card information. After all, I’m a good and trustworthy person and how dare you suggest otherwise?

  240. #240 msironen
    July 7, 2011

    @Gren:
    “Are you saying that since all males are “potential rapists” that therefore they are …. what? It is not clear.”

    That they have, in some meaningful sense, committed an abject moral evil.

    @DaveL:
    “After all, I’m a good and trustworthy person and how dare you suggest otherwise?”

    Oh it’s not that I’m suggesting otherwise, it’s just that you’d potentially use it all to commit mass murder so I’ll have to pass.

  241. #241 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    Looking at the most recent comments, it seems the thread is being taken over by anti-feminist (and in some cases, flat-out anti-woman) concern trolls, flogging pet peeves over imagined wrongs that have absolutely nothing to do with the incident originally under discussion here. There’s probably no point in continuing to argue with comments whose substance has gone from arguing over proper responses, to plain old hatred and contempt toward women. Perhaps it’s safe to say this argument is pretty much over and done.

    The only thing I can add here, is that taking small measures to protect oneself in potentially dangerous situations, is NOT the same thing as “presuming all men are potential rapists.” I am certain that in most cases, the presumption is that the strange man is most likely NOT a rapist, but given the stakes involved, and given how badly things can go wrong if they go wrong at all, one still needs to leave oneself an out just in case one gets very unlucky in that instant. As Greg said, it’s like wearing a seat-belt: I presume I’ll get where I want to go without an accident (otherwise I wouldn’t drive at all, would I?), but I’m still taking an easy minor precaution because sometimes bad things do happen.

    If a woman REALLY presumed that all men are “potential rapists,” she’d never travel without an Uzi, and would probably fire on any man who got too close to her — because that’s an appropriate response to such real threats. This is not happening regularly all over the world, therefore it’s safe to conclude that men are not really all routinely presumed to be “potential rapists.” Seriously, guys, the anti-feminist rhetoric is getting massively overblown, and has been for many years now. Get off your hobby-horses and stop getting all hysterical about women allegedly getting hysterical.

  242. #242 DaveL
    July 7, 2011

    That they have, in some meaningful sense, committed an abject moral evil.

    I can see from the rest of your post that you’re at least aware of mine, not that I’d say you’ve read it. For I clearly explained how being a potential rapist in no way means you’ve done anything wrong.

    Now clearly you don’t feel comfortable sending me your house key or credit card information. Now you tell me, is it because I’ve done anything wrong? Do you think you have a right not to trust me despite having no evidence of wrongdoing on my part? Do you think women do not have that same right for some reason?

  243. #243 msironen
    July 7, 2011

    “A potential rapist is quite simply anyone who isn’t known not to be a rapist or obviously incapable of rape.”

    Quick question, can men be “incapable” due to moral concerns, or not?
    If they can, that sort of throws a wrench into this whole “rape switch” theory. If not, you’re categorically judging men (and again, only men) morally deficient in this regard (and it’s a fairly big regard). Also, if you take this route out, I’d like to know why stop with rape? What’s there to say we’re not morally deficient in regards to all sorts of mayhem?

  244. #244 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2011

    Raging Bee, nice perspective, thanks.

  245. #245 Marnie
    July 7, 2011

    @230

    The problem is that the fear caused by the feminist line that “all men are rapists” can have serious, negative consequences.

    What was the “serious” negative consequence? That your friend feelings were hurt?
    That’s not “serious” that’s his interpretation of the situation and at the very worst, is on par with her concerns with his intentions.

    Honestly, I can’t think of many situations where I’d meet someone for the first time, in a casual manner and then be happy to give them my home address. Regardless of gender, that would be weird to me.

    When I’m at a party, presumably where drinking had been happening. And when it is the end of the night and all the folks who had paired off had gone and paired off, I would assume, at the very least, that someone asking to walk me to my house, is hoping for a chance for sex. I know there may be men who function on a completely chivalrous level and wouldn’t dream of even letting the thought of sex cross their mind, in that situation, but I don’t think that’s common. Considering how often I’ve heard men relate buying dinner with an expectation of sex, it’s hard to miss that many men feel chivalry is currency for sex. (One of the many reasons I always brought enough to pay my own way back in my dating days).

    So, a woman who might feel intoxicated, at night, leading a man she hardly knows back to her house, has NO idea what level of expectation he has for sex and how aggressively he might peruse it. Even a man who normally respects boundaries while sober, might be less so under the influence.

    Have you ever been in a big city and had someone really aggressively pan handle? Someone who maybe didn’t respect your personal space, didn’t seem to want to take “no” for an answer? Have they ever done so when it’s dark and secluded? If that hasn’t happened to you, can you imagine it? Even if you felt you could take the person or defend yourself, would that not make you uncomfortable? Would you want to avoid that? That’s what it can feel like when someone is pushing you for sex that you do not want to have. Even if you are capable of getting out of the situation, being in the situation sucks. If that person is big enough, strong enough and aggressive enough that you don’t think you can defend yourself, it can be downright terrifying.

    I don’t even know why I bother addressing some of these issues. The argument seems to be that men’s feelings are so much more important than a woman’s perceived risks and that those risks should be dismissed out of hand. I don’t particularly want to talk about my personal history. I will say that I have been in situations where men who very much consider themselves “nice” have held me against my will, physically restrained me in order to coerce sex out of me and have generally been more than reluctant to take no for an answer. I’ve also had very wonderful experiences with men and am happily married and generally go about my life without living in abject fear. But, at this point in my history, a woman still bears the burden of setting many of the boundaries. I cannot assume a man will take no for an answer and so I have to avoid situations where things could escalate. I’m sorry if this offends the men that are good and kind and reasonable, but his feelings are more easily mended than my cervix.

  246. #246 Stan Douglas
    July 7, 2011

    @Ramel:
    Why don’t you learn how to read?

    @Greg:
    > Do you wear a seat belt, Stan?
    Yes I do, since I hate living in the constant fear of a car accident. It’s the perfect example of a reasonable and efficient means of preventing something very bad and rare. That being said, it’s far from perfect, but I accept it’s imperfection and stop worrying since I’ve used reasonable means. No to fear, yes to vigilance. Fear is not efficient, and as I wrote, is likely detrimental.

    > But seriously, are these statistics supposed to suggest that the chance of being raped by stranger in a non-domestic setting are something that a woman should not be worried about?
    Is this supposed to suggest that you have a point, or that you completely missunderstood what I wrote? I vote for the later.

  247. #247 msironen
    July 7, 2011

    @DaveL:
    “Now clearly you don’t feel comfortable sending me your house key or credit card information. Now you tell me, is it because I’ve done anything wrong? Do you think you have a right not to trust me despite having no evidence of wrongdoing on my part? Do you think women do not have that same right for some reason?”

    Considering we both know you have no legit reason to ask me for them, and yet you “did”, I would suspect foul play. I’d still stop short of accusing you of a moral failure.

    Do you, similar vein, feel that women have the right to determine if a man has a legit reason to be on the same side of the road?

  248. #248 Stan Douglas
    July 7, 2011

    @Equisetum:

    > “If they choose to have irrational fears”
    > Does anyone else see a problem with this construct?
    It’s possible to get rid of irrational fears, although it often takes time. So it might be more appropriate to say “if they do nothing to stop their irrational fears”.

  249. #249 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2011

    Stan, yes, I probably misunderstood. So you are saying that it IS reasonable for a woman to be concerned about being alone in an elevator with an unknown male.

  250. #250 Beth
    July 7, 2011

    Petzl said: The message is clear: do not flirt with or attempt to date atheist women, lest you be seen as one of those aforementioned “pathetic single atheist men.” Wait, that’s exactly how you become a pathetic single atheist man. Now, I’m confused.

    I’m not sure if this is meant to be sarcastic or you really have that impression. If the latter, how do you go from ‘please don’t do that’ regarding propositioning a lone woman in an elevator late at night to a message of ‘do not flirt with or attempt to date atheist women’?

    FWIW, let me clue in anyone who feels that is the message coming through. Propositioning a women in an elevator late it night does not qualify as flirting or an attempt to date. Even if you mistakenly think it does, she won’t see it that way. Instead, she will likely think you are a creep for hitting on her in an elevator.

    Further, the message coming through to this women from all the comments and blog posts I’ve read is that if I don’t want to be subjected to inappropriate propositions and touching, I should avoid atheist/skeptic conferences or attend only with a male by my side to ward off unwanted attention of that nature.

  251. #251 DaveL
    July 7, 2011

    Quick question, can men be “incapable” due to moral concerns, or not?

    I don’t see why not. However, “obviously incapable” would be quite a stretch.

    If they can, that sort of throws a wrench into this whole “rape switch” theory.

    What the hell is the whole “rape switch” theory?

    If not, you’re categorically judging men (and again, only men) morally deficient in this regard (and it’s a fairly big regard).

    Just like you’re categorically judging me by not trusting me with power of attorney. It’s all right, though, I’m not offended – I understand the difference between reasonable caution and accusations of criminality.

    Also, if you take this route out, I’d like to know why stop with rape? What’s there to say we’re not morally deficient in regards to all sorts of mayhem?

    I don’t stop there. I’m sure women don’t stop there either, and that they’re also concerned with people who could beat them, rob them, burglarize their house, or plunder their bank accounts. Just like you are. I think people are getting intellectually stuck on “potential rapist” as an example because it includes the dreaded “R-word”, choosing to take offense rather than relate it to the their own everyday calculus of trust and threat assessment.

    Considering we both know you have no legit reason to ask me for them, and yet you “did”, I would suspect foul play. I’d still stop short of accusing you of a moral failure.

    But I’m concerned about your welfare, just like the gentleman in the earlier example offering to walk a woman home. How dare you suspect me of an ulterior motive! Further, the woman in that example said nothing worse than you just did, yet you claim you wouldn’t “accuse me of a moral failure!”

    As I explained at length earlier, nobody accused men in general of any moral failure.

    Do you, similar vein, feel that women have the right to determine if a man has a legit reason to be on the same side of the road?

    Yes – It’s part of the same calculation everyone makes, not just women. Approaching a woman when one has no plausible legitimate reason to do so would likely be a big red flag – but the presence of a plausible reason probably doesn’t mean she can throw caution to the wind.

  252. #252 mrw
    July 7, 2011

    Can something be understandable and offensive at the same time?

    Black male here. I will tell you that I do at times adjust my behavior based such fears. I know that if I’m walking alone after dark there’s a good chance I am seen as a potential rapist/mugger. My avoidance of random women is not out of some sort of respect but a desire to not get maced or have any sort of interaction with the criminal justice system whatsoever. So please, no thank yous.

    I have changed my route upon seeing lone women, I have changed my clothing based on vague “black man in shirt” descriptions of suspects. Such is the way of things when you are constantly trying to convince folks that you aren’t a violent criminal.

    I hadn’t though of the elevator thing specifically. Now I have something else to avoid.

  253. #253 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2011

    Why it is not unreasonable to think of men as potential rapists:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2011/07/driving_the_patriarchy_demonic.php

  254. #254 DaveL
    July 7, 2011

    If I may expand on my previous comment, msironen, we have this:

    Considering we both know you have no legit reason to ask me for them, and yet you “did”, I would suspect foul play.

    You just made a judgement on whether or not I have a legitimate reason for asking for them. I have proferred a reason similar to the earlier example of a man offering to walk a woman home. I have no doubt that you will proceed to judge the sincerity of that reason.

    The point is, these are judgements you are allowed to make. Judgements that you have to make in order to function in everyday life. I am not allowed to override your judgement as irrational and substitute my own just because I know myself so much better than you do.

  255. #255 msironen
    July 7, 2011

    “What the hell is the whole “rape switch” theory?”

    It’s a somewhat recurring theme on this blog. In short summary it states that under “favourable” circumstances, any man will resort rape (ie, there’s a kind of a biological “rape switch”).

    “Just like you’re categorically judging me by not trusting me with power of attorney. It’s all right, though, I’m not offended – I understand the difference between reasonable caution and accusations of criminality.”

    But neither of us would refuse a legitimate woman attorney on the basis that we think women are morally deficient in regards to theft.

    “I think people are getting intellectually stuck on “potential rapist” as an example because it includes the dreaded “R-word””

    Yet no-one’s talking about “potential murderers” and better yet claim that it’s roughly equal to all members of a certain gender.

    “Further, the woman in that example said nothing worse than you just did, yet you claim you wouldn’t “accuse me of a moral failure!””

    Indeed, I’m not claiming that you’re a thief of opportunity , just waiting for that chance where there’s no risk of getting caught.

    “As I explained at length earlier, nobody accused men in general of any moral failure.”

    No, they’re just lumping together men who will never rape, due to moral character, anyone in their life and rapists of opportunity who just haven’t raped anyone YET.

    “Yes – It’s part of the same calculation everyone makes, not just women.”

    I should’ve clarified: do they have the right to make determinations that are binding to others?

  256. #256 Tualha
    July 7, 2011

    utopia27 @228:

    This is not the first time that I have been accused of being a potential rapist. One of my daughters has a friend whose family is very traditional muslim….

    In other words, asking men to not hit on a woman when alone in an elevator at 4am, or to let them have the elevator and wait for the next one, or to give a woman a wide berth when passing on a deserted sidewalk (for reasons of realistic threat assessment and avoidance), is as offensive as refusing to open a door to let your daughter out (for reasons of religious tradition having little basis in reality).

    Ladies…. If you ever have problems with one of the local gents, please sing out so I can come and administer some corrective instruction to the nice gentleman, which I will gladly support. But when I treat you like a human being, and greet you in an elevator (as I would with other adult humans), and maybe even strike up a conversation with you (as I would with other adult humans), and yes, maybe consider the eventual desirability of a sexual liason with you (abstractly – I’m happily married, but sincerely, because I haven’t been castrated) – in that case, if you treat me like a rabid dog I perfectly recognize your right to do so. And I reserve the right to be insulted. Because I am not a rabid dog, and refuse to spend my life self-imagining that way.

    In other words, since you are perfectly willing to straighten out any man who acts inappropriately, women who have never met you should assume that they are safe with you, and if they are at all nervous about being alone in an elevator with a man they’ve never met, or worry that this man (about whom they know nothing) might attack them, you will be insulted. Because, dammit, they should just know that you’re an ok guy and would never attack them.

    Because the alternative is the arab/muslim assumption, and stereotype reinforcement, that all men are always rapists and must be treated as such.

    No. The alternative is to have some appreciation of the dangers all women face, and recognize that they have legitimate concerns about being alone with men they don’t know, and to be polite and understanding of those concerns. Within reason, which does not include refusing to open the door to a known man in order to let him collect his daughter, but does include being wary of a complete stranger in an otherwise deserted elevator.

    The assumption that women are powerless, and must be maintained haram-like away from all of the confirmed rapist males.

    No. The principle that women must be allowed to set their own boundaries, rather than having them set by men, whether the man in question is a Muslim, or Richard Dawkins, or you.

    This confirmation/vilification also trains and licenses young men in the correctness and license to be a rapist.

    In other words, if some women choose to be wary and avoid potentially dangerous situations, then men may assume that any woman who is not wary is asking for it and has it coming. I would like to be able to find some other way to interpret what you wrote, but that’s the only interpretation I could find. Do please clarify if you meant something else.

    If I told a b[l]ack guy that he ought to wait for the next elevator because I would feel threatened if he rode with me, I would be labeled a crass racist….And if I tried to use in my defense that I know people who have been mugged and beaten up by black folks (actually true), and that the statistics say that black folks have a higher incidence of criminal prosecution for violent crime than other racial groups in the US (also true), I would be told that these are not valid reasons to inform my coworker that his blackness frightens me and he should ride a different elevator.

    And yet. if you do the substitution, apparently it’s valid for a female to tell me I’m insensitive because my maleness in an elevator with her frightens her.

    Thought experiment. You’re alone on an elevator and a black man gets on. He’s in his 40s, neatly groomed, wearing a classy suit. Do you feel threatened? Now suppose the person who gets on is, instead, a white man in his early 20s, unshaven, wearing dirty torn-up clothes and apparently not having bathed recently. Do you feel threatened now? How about if he asks you for spare change? How about if it’s 4 in the morning?

    Race isn’t the issue. Probable threat is the issue. A woman can get some idea how likely someone is to rape her, but there’s more variability. Yes, a clean-cut guy is less of a threat than a scuzzy guy who’s staring at her, but lots of rapists manage to seem clean and nice and charming until they get their victims alone. Too many women have found that out the hard way.

  257. #257 bks
    July 7, 2011

    There’s also a “Cannibal switch” so watch out for the lean and hungry.

    –bks

  258. #258 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    Sure, you can think of me as a “potential rapist;” but by the same logic, shouldn’t you also be labelling me a potential soldier, a potential spy, a potential vigilante, a potential drug-dealer, a potential hit-man, a potential POTUS, a potential whatever-else-it’s-physically-possible-for-me-to-do-if-the-circumstances-allowed…?

    “Potential rapist,” as used here, is so overbroad it’s totally meaningless; and, as I showed above, just merges with a nearly infinite number of other “potential-whatever’s-possible” until all you have is rhetorical mush that doesn’t help anyone make sound self-protective judgments.

  259. #259 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2011

    It’s a somewhat recurring theme on this blog. In short summary it states that under “favourable” circumstances, any man will resort rape (ie, there’s a kind of a biological “rape switch”).

    That is not correct, depending on what you mean by “favourable.” If by “favourable” you mean including everything (all developmental factors) than yes, but most people mean by that “Immediate” … so any man in a particular novel context with all the conditions just right will have their rape swtich turned on.

    What it DOES mean is that there is potentially (not always) but perhaps commonly (but this is unkown) a swtich. The thing about the switch is not that all men have it, but rather that it is a switch. A man that is simply not a rapist has the switch get thrown ad that man is now a rapist.

    Which does not mean that they rape.

    So, to review, because this is actually a little complicate:

    The rape switch hypothesis is a hypothesis.

    The rape switch may or may not be present in a man, and if it is real its prevalence is hard to assess. Entire societies may emerge in which it is rare. Entire societies may emerge in which it is common. THere is not an assumption that it is a genetically coded for thing, however, and see “Demonic Males” post just up, it would still be a biological phenomenon.

    The rape switch being present or absent in a man under normal non-rape conditions has no bearing on anything.

    If a rape switch can go on it can also go off.

    Not all rape happens because of the rape switch.

    In a society with laws, reasonable equality between men and women, an anti-rape culture, most rape may indeed be unrelated to the rape switch.

    By most current standards, the rape switch probably explains the culture of wartime rape very well.

    The rape switch can be turned off.

    The idea of the rape switch makes some people madder than they are able to handle and they can’t have a rational discussion of it. I call that the rape-switch switch. No, but seriously, I refuse to discuss this idea with anyone who screams at me about it so just don’t do that. It is just a hypothesis that a student came up with a long time ago to explain Viet Nam war rape stats. Subsequently, we may see something like it in the Congo. It is probably too simplistic but could be a starting point for discussion, but not for screaming. No screaming.

  260. #260 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    My problem with the “rape switch” theory is that it’s not falsifiable. If only some men commit rape under a given set or circumstances, it would not be taken as disproof of the theory; it would only mean we had not found every men’s “switch” yet. And that could be said regardless of what circumstances the men are sublected to. No matter how consistently good my actions are, you could still say I have a “rape switch,” you just haven’t found it yet. In other words, it’s just a way to denigrate my integrity without actual evidence of violent tendencies.

    Also, if there really is a “rape switch,” then it’s obvious that it’s not the same for all men; therefore I also have to ask how useful or meaningful this theory really is. Does it show any real explanatory or predictive value? Or is it just a rhetorical device?

  261. #261 Marnie
    July 7, 2011

    @msironen

    But neither of us would refuse a legitimate woman attorney on the basis that we think women are morally deficient in regards to theft.

    No but if you were approached by someone claiming to be a lawyer and wishing to represent you in a car accident you were just involved in, you might rightfully decline to give that person your personal information and you might rightfully want to look them up and make sure they are legit, before hiring them. You would not simply assume that anyone who approaches you is someone you wish to associate with and give access to your personal information.

    This is not a discussion about women not wanting to have sex with nor associate with any man. It’s not about a woman claiming that every man is a rapist. It’s about pointing out to someone who might want to have sex with a woman, that there are ways to do so that don’t make a woman question your intentions or the relative safety of the situation.

    Honestly, if anything, the whole elevator situation is simply explaining a way to improve your odds of getting into the sack with someone. A woman is more likely to trust you if you put them at ease and this particular technique of approaching someone in a confined space, doesn’t generally put women at ease. Instead of taking it as a personal affront, consider it dating advice.

  262. #262 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2011

    Raging Bee, I think it is falsifiable if we assume how it works. How it works is a whole other issue that would have to be independantly tested. But, if it simply formulated this way:

    … there is a substantial category of men who under day to day cirsumstnaces never commit rape who, under specific altered cirsumstances usually commit rape …

    then that is testable using field data (though I’m sure someone will think of a way to do it experimentally, it would be indirect and unclear) .

    The problem is this: Are men along a spectrum where the cutoff for rape moves (not a rape switch) or is the “rape potential” something that turns on regardless of overt and day to day context and attributes (is a rape switch). That is harder to tease out.

  263. #263 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2011

    Also, if there really is a “rape switch,” then it’s obvious that it’s not the same for all men; therefore I also have to ask how useful or meaningful this theory really is.

    The idea is that it is there for most men. You have to leave room for it not being there in some men, frankly, just to be able to discuss it because many men will not allow the discussion to go forward if they are not allowed to personally think that it does not apply to them. But really, it is all men.

    The thing is, many people jump right away from “a rape switch in all men” to “all men are rapists” without examining the idea even a little. bks, who is a rather suspicious commenter most of the time, makes a good point: Forget rape, consider cannibalism. Or other things. Try a “switch” vs. “spectrum” idea out in other places first. I’m sure you’ll find that many cultural practices (eating things with lots of legs, for example) are on or off (but with variation) rather than shades of variation or spectra. Spaking your child: In a society in which it is never done, one could easily argue that there is a spaking swtich that turns on now and then in individuals but otehrwise is usually off, unless you move to a different social context, then it becomes common.

    Get away from rape for a while and circle back and the idea is a bit more plausable.

  264. #264 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    Greg, what sort of “field data” would you use to test this theory as you’ve stated it?

    Also, the word “usually” is a problem here: how can you say a man would “usually” commit rape under certain altered circumstances, if those circumstances are not “usual?”

  265. #265 DaveL
    July 7, 2011

    In short summary it states that under “favourable” circumstances, any man will resort rape (ie, there’s a kind of a biological “rape switch”).

    Totally irrelevant to this discussion. In fact why men rape or whether all men are capable of rape is irrelevant. You can subscribe to the “rape switch” theory or not. I don’t care if you subscribe to the “alien mind control” theory or the “parasitic brain wasp” theory – it doesn’t matter. The facts before us are that:

    1. Most men don’t rape; but
    2. A sizeable minority of men do rape; And
    3. As a consequence rape is not rare.
    4. There is no way of knowing which is which on sight.

    But neither of us would refuse a legitimate woman attorney on the basis that we think women are morally deficient in regards to theft.

    Nothing outside the minds of perpetually offended doodz here suggests that men in general are morally deficient in regards to rape.

    However, we know that somewhere between 3% and 10% of men are morally deficient in regards to rape. It turns out they’ll willingly tell us so on surveys, provided we don’t use the “R” word. We also know that virtually all rapists are male.

    In view of the foregoing, do you think women are not justified in including a person’s sex in assessing what kind of threat they may pose? Sure, it’s only a minority of men who rape, but it’s not a vanishingly small one. Is 3% not enough? 10%? 30%? Do you really think you’re the one who gets to make that determination?

    Now, notice your construct “legitimate female attorney”. Can you tell on sight that a woman is a “legitimate attorney”? Can you even tell, in a forum such as this, that a person is a woman? Or would you exercise caution, demand and verify bona fides, and perhaps set up a face-to-face meeting first? Do you think you’re justified in this?

    Yet no-one’s talking about “potential murderers” and better yet claim that it’s roughly equal to all members of a certain gender.

    Like I said, people get stuck. Want to talk about potential murderers instead? I’m game. I’m not sure you’ll like what the statistics say about it, though.

    Indeed, I’m not claiming that you’re a thief of opportunity , just waiting for that chance where there’s no risk of getting caught.

    Whoa, wait a minute here. A “potential rapist” is not a rapist of opportunity, waiting for his chance. Nor does it mean a “likely rapist”, nor “future rapist”, nor “likely future rapist”. It seems the reason you get stuck on this is that you keep insisting it does when it doesn’t.

    No, they’re just lumping together men who will never rape, due to moral character, anyone in their life and rapists of opportunity who just haven’t raped anyone YET.

    What else would you have them do? Having no way of telling one from the other, they cannot possibly avoid lumping them all together. Now, you might prefer that they lump them all together under the assumption that none of them are rapists, because that makes you feel better. However, that hardly seems conducive to their personal safety, now does it?

    I should’ve clarified: do they have the right to make determinations that are binding to others?

    Their determinations are not binding on others. Nobody’s forcing men to cross the street or wait for the next elevator. You can decide that your convenience trumps her understandable fear and anxiety. That just means you’re a jerk. People have a right to be jerks in our society*. You just don’t have a right to act like a jerk without being called out for being a jerk.

    * I know, I know, white guys like me have a much better track record of being a jerk in public without legal consequences than others. That’s a whole other discussion.

  266. #266 Dan
    July 7, 2011

    Which leaves us with the third option, the people like Dan here who simply declare the woman’s anxiety irrational and substitute their own evaluation of how they ought to feel and what risks they ought to be comfortable with. That attitude displays a huge amount of entitlement and privilege. The only question is, will he respect a woman’s right to her anxiety even if he finds it irrational?

    All privilege is situational. As a male, I have privilege of being less likely to suffer unwelcome propositions in an elevator. Males have privilege in most situations due to our patriarchal society. However, females have a situational privilege of being less likely to be feared in an elevator, or treated like a “potential rapist” when meeting a stranger. This attitude is indeed harmful to those who are victims of it. If women believe it is fair and balanced to treat strange men they meet as “potential rapists”, and require them to prove their innocence and good intentions before getting the level of respect that would be given to a woman demonstrates *female* situational entitlement and privilege. They have not experienced the other side of that coin.

    If someone has a fear which interferes with their social interactions, that is not cause to be disrespectful of that person. It’s unreasonable to expect people’s emotions to be entirely rational and we should make every reasonable effort to be sensitive to people who suffer from fears. However, fear based on prejudice or bigotry is harmful to both the fearer and the fearee. Ultimately, we should not be accommodating that fear, or considering it normal or healthy. Neither side wins.

    The elevator incident was disrespectful and socially awkward. To characterize it as dangerous or threatening based on the available descriptions belies prejudice. Fear and mistrust are not suitable alternatives to caution and awareness.

  267. #267 DaveL
    July 7, 2011

    However, females have a situational privilege of being less likely to be feared in an elevator, or treated like a “potential rapist” when meeting a stranger. This attitude is indeed harmful to those who are victims of it.

    Unless, apparently, they’re sufficiently priviledged that they deem they get to ignore that stranger’s fear as irrational or prejudiced and demand the latter replace it with their own rational, considered, superior opinion.

    Sheesh.

  268. #268 Dan
    July 7, 2011

    Unless, apparently, they’re sufficiently priviledged that they deem they get to ignore that stranger’s fear as irrational or prejudiced and demand the latter replace it with their own rational, considered, superior opinion.

    I have explicitly stated that I believe people should be respectful of others fears. So, this is a mischaracterization of what I’ve said.

  269. #269 DaveL
    July 7, 2011

    I have explicitly stated that I believe people should be respectful of others fears. So, this is a mischaracterization of what I’ve said.

    You say one thing explicitly one thing and the rest of your post says quite the opposite. Elsewhere you say “Ultimately, we should not be accommodating that fear, or considering it normal or healthy.” So… what – You “respect” their fear as pathological and wrong? Surely you don’t expect me to fall for such obvious doublespeak?

  270. #270 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    I have explicitly stated that I believe people should be respectful of others fears.

    Then you went on to equate those fears with bigotry, and call them harmful (so much for respecting others’ fears), after a bit of nonsensical word-salad about “situational privilege” that had no bearing on the situation.

    The elevator incident was disrespectful and socially awkward. To characterize it as dangerous or threatening based on the available descriptions belies prejudice.

    Once again, you say you respect other people’s concerns, then turn around and mindlessly belittle those concerns in the same comment. YOU WERE NOT THERE AT THE TIME, so what right do you have to judge the responses of those who were? You’re a hypocrite and a liar, and beneath the pretentious verbosity, you’re just another clueless guy trying to pretend he’s smarter than the gurls.

  271. #271 DuWayne
    July 7, 2011

    misronen –

    Do you, similar vein, feel that women have the right to determine if a man has a legit reason to be on the same side of the road?

    They have a right to assume that a given man is a potential threat. They also have a right to attempt to determine whether he has a “legitimate” reason for being on the same side of the road. This is no different than my own right to assume you’re potentially a dangerous driver and if you happen to be behind me for some time and after a turn or two, that you might be following me for some nefarious purpose. I even have every right to attempt to deduce whether you have some legitimate purpose for having followed behind me for a couple of turns.

    Why you are too bloody damned stupid to understand that making these assumptions is no different than any other of the innumerable threat assessments that people make on a daily basis is beyond me. You either have to be close to the stupidest human I have ever come across, or you feel you have some vested interest in being dishonest about what is actually being discussed here. I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that you’re both a complete and utter bloody moron and a lying sack of dirty diapers.

    No one and I mean absolutely no one here has claimed that anyone has a right to infringe on the freedom of others, so they can feel safe. No one is suggesting that we pass some law about crossing the street at night, when you happen to be on the same sidewalk as a female stranger who is by herself. No one is even suggesting we pass some law against your right to be an asshole and try to hit on said lone woman. What has been suggested are some ways that men can make women feel less uncomfortable, less afraid.

    If you don’t care, that is your prerogative. But then you should leave it at that and shut the hell up. Because what you are doing now is essentially telling the women who are reading this, who also happen to have these feelings of discomfort due to their concern for their safety, that their feelings are not valid. That would be a lot like telling you that your concerns about Dave are invalid, or that your concerns about other drivers aren’t valid. The thing is though, they are valid.

    We are talking about a non-zero threat here – rape happens every day. Whatever the odds of it happening to a given woman in a given situation, it could happen. And frankly, women who aren’t concerned about it – who happen to believe that it just couldn’t happen to them, are the ones who are being irrational. The degree of actual threat varies a great deal by context, but to pretend that women should all just assume that every guy they encounter is a really great guy who is unlikely to hurt them, unless he proves otherwise, is just asking to get hurt.

    Makes a hell of a lot more sense to assume that strange men are a potential threat and adjust that assessment if it makes sense to do so.

  272. #272 Stephanie Z
    July 7, 2011

    DaveL, if you’re familiar with rapist surveys, you’re probably also aware that rapists assume most or all guys really are just waiting for that opportuntity to pounce, just like them. Does that help make sense of msironen’s comments here? Particularly when you note that the reason he doesn’t want to give you his information is that you might murder someone with it (thus implying that the identity theft just isn’t all that big a deal)? He reads to me as a guy very invested in protecting his “right” to intimidate and coerce without being called on it.

    There’s a reason I’ve been calling parts of this discussion a rapists support group.

  273. #273 Dan
    July 7, 2011

    “YOU WERE NOT THERE AT THE TIME, so what right do you have to judge the responses of those who were?”

    The response of the person who was there was balanced and appropriate. Rebecca Watson said it made her uncomfortable. She did not say it made her fearful, or threatened. Greg Laden later characterized it as a “potential sexual assault”, which is not balanced or appropriate. So, what I’m saying is totally in line with the people who were there, and I’m mostly addressing the reactions of people who were not there.

    I’m afraid of spiders. I don’t want people to jump out of closets and throw spiders on me as a prank. But, neither do I want to read blog entries telling me that it’s normal and healthy or that it’s a good bet to treat every spider I encounter as a “potential venomous biter”. People should strive to neither aggravate nor accommodate my fear. It should be acknowledged as unhelpful. This is the sense in which I hope people are respectful of my fear.

  274. #274 Marnie
    July 7, 2011

    To Dan @ 272

    The response of the person who was there was balanced and appropriate. Rebecca Watson said it made her uncomfortable. She did not say it made her fearful, or threatened. Greg Laden later characterized it as a “potential sexual assault”, which is not balanced or appropriate.

    Well actually, she said she was uncomfortable and felt sexualized and a bunch of people basically said “why? what’s your problem? what do you mean? no one can ever flirt?” Being followed into a confined space by a man who has been drinking, a man you do not know, who has suggested he would like to have sex with you, is creepy because of the risk of violence and/or rape.

    I think it’s pretty patronizing for you to dismiss the fear of rape as irrational. I think you need to define what is irrational about it. Do you think it’s irrational for children to learn “stranger danger” attitudes and assume that someone trying to lure them to a remote spot might be a danger? Is that an irrational fear because the rates of child abduction are relatively low? Or is the fact that the child may be at a physical disadvantage and that the outcome could be horribly physically and emotionally damaging, reason enough for the child to consider certain situations dangerous?

    The rates of sexual assault are higher than those of strangers abducting children. I believe both situations constitute legitimate concerns.

    And to your point, if you do not know what kind of spider you are dealing with, it is probably safer to presume it is poisonous so you do not take unnecessary risk. I wouldn’t pick a spider up with my hands if I didn’t know if it would be poisonous or not. I would try to remove it in a manner that kept the risk of bite low. I would advise others to do the same. I don’t find that irrational.

  275. #275 Dan
    July 7, 2011

    Also, to clarify, I understand that there’s a spectrum of reactions a person can have when interacting with a strange man between naive trust, and crippling fear. Somewhere on that spectrum is a great, healthy response : cautious but confident. It has been suggested that women should set their own tolerance level to situations. But if some type of intervention is good for someone naively trusting of strangers, it is probably good for someone who has a fear that prevents them from interacting confidently but cautiously with strange men as well.

  276. #276 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    Greg Laden later characterized it as a “potential sexual assault”, which is not balanced or appropriate.

    Actually, when a guy is drunk and making inapproprate sexual advances to a total stranger in an obviously inappropriate place and time, there really IS a potential for sexual assault there; and there’s nothing “unbalanced” in mentioning that it could, indeed, have had a far worse end than it did. This guy was fucked up, and as Mike Tyson said in the movie, “we all do stupid shit when we’re fucked up.” FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME ALREADY, your willful ignorance of what was really at stake here shows how blinded you are by pointless prejudice and axe-grinding. You’ve already admitted RW acted appropriately that night; so why the fuck are you still trying to pretend you can question her motives or judgement?

  277. #277 John K. Funk
    July 7, 2011

    Sigh. Perhaps I shouldn’t have brought up the rape switch hypothesis. I should’ve known it would start this whole unpleasant shitstorm all over again.

    But since I have stirred the pot can’t un-stir it, I’d like to explain why, despite being a heterosexual male non-rapist, I happily embrace the rape switch hypothesis.

    First, yes, I know it’s a hypothesis, and I know what a hypothesis is. Just sayin’.

    Second, I’m aware that the term “rape switch” is an oversimplification. If you’re uncomfortable with that, just replace every use of “rape switch” with “an extremely complex set of neurological, psychological, sociological, behavioral, and/or environmental factors which could, under certain conditions, motivate an otherwise-non-rapist to commit rape.” But I’m just going to say “rape switch.” It’s easier to type.

    Now, I’ve never committed rape, never considered rape, and never fantasized about rape. I find the whole concept of rape morally repugnant, as do most men under most circumstances. Part of me would like to think that I will always find rape repugnant under all circumstances, but there are some circumstances where rape is terrifyingly common — war zones, as Greg mentioned — to which I’ve never been subjected.

    So I ask myself, what would happen if I found myself in a room with two or three guys — whom I’ve been conditioned to regard with very strong comradery and allegiance — and one woman, whom I’ve been conditioned to see as a member of a sub-human, enemy population? Like I said above, I’d like to think I’d find rape as morally repugnant in that situation as I do right now. But what if I don’t? What if my base instincts take over, and I find myself wanting to gleefully participate in this atrocity? The thought horrifies me, but I can’t say with 100 percent certainty that it wouldn’t happen.

    And that’s why the rape switch hypothesis appeals to me. It offers a little extra perspective. In the moment of truth, it could give me an opportunity to step back and regain some self-control. It might allow me to say to myself, “Dude, your rape switch just got turned on. You’re not thinking clearly. This is bad. Slow down. Back off. Stop this from happening.”

    By denying the existence of a rape switch, I’m denying myself a potentially crucial mechanism for exerting self control. That’s not a bad, degrading, or insulting thing. It makes me more confident that I will do the right thing if the chips are ever down, and that makes me feel better about myself, not worse.

    So, yeah, I like the rape switch hypothesis, and I’m going to stick with it.

    This is, of course, only tangentially related to Rebeccapocalypse. An elevator is not a war zone. But the whole point was that I take no offense to strange women considering men (myself included) potential rapists. It strikes me as a very reasonable level of precaution.

  278. #278 DaveL
    July 7, 2011

    I’m afraid of spiders. I don’t want people to jump out of closets and throw spiders on me as a prank.

    So you agree men should respect the boundaries women set up for self-protection, even if you think they’re irrational? That’s good. It’s a start, at least.

    But, neither do I want to read blog entries telling me that it’s normal and healthy or that it’s a good bet to treat every spider I encounter as a “potential venomous biter”.

    What about if you knew that 25% of people would suffer a serious bite from a venomous spider in their lifetimes. Something that would affect them for the rest of their lives – say that 25% had to be hospitalized for that spider bite.

    Would it still be a harmful attitude to treat each spider as a “potential venomous biter?”

    Somewhere on that spectrum is a great, healthy response : cautious but confident.

    How gracious of you to let Rebecca know exactly where on the spectrum from panic to complacency her reaction should lie. It must be quite a feat of cognition to be able to more accurately judge these things than she is even though you don’t have the benefit of having been there or having ever met the man.

    Maybe some women would find they live happier, more fulfilled lives if they turned down the sensitivity on their threat radar. Maybe others would be found in a dumpster if they did the same. Can you tell which is which?

  279. #279 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    And that’s why the rape switch hypothesis appeals to me. It offers a little extra perspective. In the moment of truth, it could give me an opportunity to step back and regain some self-control. It might allow me to say to myself, “Dude, your rape switch just got turned on. You’re not thinking clearly. This is bad. Slow down. Back off. Stop this from happening.”

    In that “monent of truth,” why can’t you just tell yourself “Dude, this is wrong and totally against the morals I’ve held all my life, stop this from happening?” Are you really trying to tell us the “rape switch” hypothesis would help you when your own basic — and more firmly-established — values would not? I find that notion highly suspicious, especially after you admit how weak and undeveloped the hypothesis really is at this time.

    Besides, once your “rape switch” was turned on, would you really be able to reason your way out of that situation, after you were unable to reason your way out of having your “rape switch” turned on?

  280. #280 msironen
    July 7, 2011

    @DuWayne:

    “No one is suggesting that we pass some law about crossing the street at night, when you happen to be on the same sidewalk as a female stranger who is by herself.”

    Well in feminist utopia you could, but since we aren’t there you’re left with social pressure to achieve that. It’s just that not everyone is impressed by your bullshit rationalisations why calling all men rapists isn’t really calling them rapists, especially if you add some wink-wink-“potential”-nudge-nudge qualifier.

    Thinking something to yourself (like someone being a rapist) and publicly calling them one with the justification that you don’t have evidence to the contrary, well that’s Glenn-fucking-Beck logic.

    “Because what you are doing now is essentially telling the women who are reading this, who also happen to have these feelings of discomfort due to their concern for their safety, that their feelings are not valid. That would be a lot like telling you that your concerns about Dave are invalid, or that your concerns about other drivers aren’t valid. The thing is though, they are valid.”

    Subjectively at best. Last time I checked reality doesn’t conform to the concerns of anyone particular, male or female.

    “We are talking about a non-zero threat here – rape happens every day.”

    Lot of bad stuff happens every day. It seems the only reason rape comes up is because it gives a certain group of people license to demean others.

    “But then you should leave it at that and shut the hell up.”

    Fuck you and the horse you rode in, too.

  281. #281 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    Well in feminist utopia you could…

    Bashing feminists with no actual evidence, and no apparent understanding of what feminists actually say or advocate? Do you really think that even sounds plausible here? I, for one, have heard it before, MANY times, and it’s total bullshit based on pure escapist fantasy of cartoon-stereotype “feminazis” — in addition to being totaly irrelevant to this or any other particular issue.

    I’m with DuWayne on this: you really should shut up, because it’s perfectly obvious you have nothing intelligent to say. Go grind that rusty old scrap-metal anti-feminist axe somewhere else.

  282. #282 sigh
    July 7, 2011

    >Bashing feminists with no actual evidence, and no apparent understanding of what feminists actually say or advocate?
    Are you asking for evidence that feminist organizations have supported legislation that doesn’t support equality and/or supports the removal of rights for men?

    There are plenty examples of that.

  283. #283 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    So give us a few such examples, and show a) which and how many feminists actually support or supported such laws; b) how far such proposed legislation actually went toward passage; and c) how long ago such laws were seriously proposed. A handful of largely unknown radical fringers making proposals no one else took seriously doesn’t count here.

    You just said there were “plenty” of such examples, so you should have no trouble at least posting a link.

  284. #284 msironen
    July 7, 2011

    @Raging Bee

    Actually I just threw that in there to see if anyone would bite. I can be such an asshole, I know.

    To be perfectly honest most of my writing on this thread has been venting at the sad state of this whole discussion (not limited to this thread). But there’s only so many ways I can re-formulate my point so tell you what, I’ll take my ball and go home to learn how to start thinking myself as a rapist since it obviously makes some women feel more comfortable. Maybe one day I’ll really GET IT and finally be able to internalize this whole “rapist-until-proven-otherwise” thinking that you guys seem so proud of.

  285. #285 sigh
    July 7, 2011

    I really didn’t want this to be anti-feminist since I lean on anti-bigotry but you asked.

    http://www.now.org/organization/conference/1996/resoluti.html#alert

    http://www.glennsacks.com/enewsletters/enews_11_28_06.htm

    I hope NOW is sufficient enough to not be considered “fringe.” We could talk about VAWA, Title IX, etc. but that’s not what this blog is about.

  286. #286 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    sigh: NEITHER of the articles you cited have anything to do with “removing rights for men.” One is a resolution calling for action against political opponents (pretty standard for a political advocacy group, donchathink?); and the other is about opposing a bill in Michigan regarding the rather complex issue of child custody in dovorce cases. Whether or not you support the bill, there’s no sign that NOW is advoating “removal of rights for men.”

    Your examples are crap, and once again prove your case against feminists is pure feverish fantasy. Are you a troll from a “fathers’ rights” group?

  287. #287 Marnie
    July 7, 2011

    For the record, in my “feminist utopia” no one has to worry about whether they should cross the street because violence and rape would not exist.

    Crazy, right? Silly feminist.

  288. #288 Pete Rooke
    July 7, 2011

    I must, again, register my disagreement with some who castigate Ms Watson for her behaviour.

    Propositioning someone for sex (and I was not initially aware that the offer of ‘coffee’ was actually a thinly veiled request to begin an intimate liaison) at any time, let alone at 4am alone in a elevator, is immoral and wrong.

    The two were not married! Or indeed, even in a relationship.

    That is not to say that Ms Watson is a moral/righteous person (she is most certainly not).

    But she is right to call people out for excusing this! The sexual mores of our times are abhorrent.

  289. #289 sigh
    July 7, 2011

    In my reply I said “supported legislation that doesn’t support equality”, how does that not fit the bill? NOW opposes shared custody, which is an issue of equality between parents. That is rather clearly in opposition of equality.

    Please don’t be so delusional to think that feminism hasn’t stepped on the toes of men. VAWA and Title IX specifically take away a male’s right to due process instead opting to punish them despite lack of evidence. This is very clear discrimination that feminism supports.

    I suppose I’m just fantasizing though. Continue on with the baseless insults.

  290. #290 Jim
    July 7, 2011

    To Marnie (245), you seemed to miss the other negative consequence I mentioned. Not only was the woman’s behaviour deeply hurtful to my friend, she lost a good number of her friends over the incident. You can’t go around accusing people of being a rapist/potential rapist and not expect to become a social outcast.

    Your example of panhandling is a good one. Yes, I agree it can be intimidating. I’d prefer people didn’t do it. But do I expect that all homeless people who are begging for money to buy food for that evening shouldn’t do it because it might make me feel awkward? Of course not. It’s just one of the things in life that I have to accept and get on with. Same with dogs, black men, spiders, or any other person or thing you might be uncomfortable with (to quote a few of the things previously mentioned by others).

    You, and anyone else, has every right to be cautious and to try to avoid situations that annoy you or cause distress. But let us accept that you have to be careful how you communicate such thoughts.

    A lighthearted example could be: my gran gives me a godawful Chrismas present. A pair of socks perhaps. This makes me feel awkward because she has been nice to me, but at the same time I don’t appreciate the gift. Do I accept the gift in the manner it was intended and smile, thank her for thinking of me and move on, whilst putting the socks in a drawer, never to be used; do I berate her in front of the rest of the family, throw the socks back into her face and tell her she should be more considerate in future; or do I remain silent and then blog to the world about how all grannies buy terrible Christmas presents and that even enlightened grannies only need to “flick a switch” and out comes a scented pin cushion on Dec 25?

    If you think about it, this is pretty well analagous to the Rebecca Watson situation, other than the fact that receiving hideous socks is, of course, not in the same league as being a rape victim!

  291. #291 A. D. Kay
    July 7, 2011

    Cheese louise. I try to catch up on all the comments from the last 24 hours, and guess what? Just like clockwork, some guys are busy getting their feelings hurt because women have to take safety precautions in certain situations. Boo hoo. It’s high time for a link to the the famous “Schrodinger’s Rapist” post.

    http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%E2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%E2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

  292. #292 DuWayne
    July 7, 2011

    msironen –

    Thinking something to yourself (like someone being a rapist) and publicly calling them one with the justification that you don’t have evidence to the contrary, well that’s Glenn-fucking-Beck logic.

    No one is advocating calling anyone specific a rapist you fucking moron. Christ you are stupid.

    Subjectively at best. Last time I checked reality doesn’t conform to the concerns of anyone particular, male or female.

    The reality is that you are telling people their concerns are not valid.

    Shut up and go away, you rapist piece of crap. Seriously, no one here has the least desire to read more of your rapist and rape apologist drivel…And no whining about your bullshit desire not to be called a rapist. Your concerns are no more valid than the concerns that many women have about being sexually assaulted. Reality doesn’t conform to your desires.

    Except that I suspect you aren’t actually a rapist, just a really dense sort of moron.

    Lot of bad stuff happens every day. It seems the only reason rape comes up is because it gives a certain group of people license to demean others.

    Except that no one is fucking demeaning anyone. Saying that all strange men are a potential rapist means that women need to make that assumption. That doesn’t mean that they are going to wander around talking about you being a rapist or potential rapist. That might well mean that women will mention that they don’t feel safe with so and so – not particularly polite but also not an accusation of anything. Get the fuck over it.

    But there’s only so many ways I can re-formulate my point so tell you what, I’ll take my ball and go home to learn how to start thinking myself as a rapist since it obviously makes some women feel more comfortable.

    Or you could simply think of yourself as, you know, yourself. No one here wants anyone to think of themselves as a rapist and no one has said they do – unless the person in question actually is a rapist.

    What they want others to think about, is how women they don’t know might perceive their actions and to please take that into account when interacting with women they don’t know. That is it – nothing particularly complicated about it, nothing demeaning about it. Unless you’re a fucking moron who wants to blow the conversation way out of proportion and wander into the land of strawpeople to beat on.

  293. #293 Jim
    July 7, 2011

    Thanks for the link A D Kay (291). Interesting and well written piece, and a thought provoking perspective. I can see where she’s coming from and a lot of what she says makes sense, but I have to say, she is also one messed up woman who has a lot of psychological issues. Maybe men have forced her to be that way, but her behaviour is not how any sane adult should (have to) behave. Perhaps her approach is geared more to an urban US perspective, which is alien to me, but wow!

  294. #294 DaveL
    July 7, 2011

    In my reply I said “supported legislation that doesn’t support equality”, how does that not fit the bill? NOW opposes shared custody, which is an issue of equality between parents. That is rather clearly in opposition of equality.

    This reminds me of the definition of a Men’s Rights Advocate: A man who is horrified to learn that Patriarchy hurts men too and demands that it be modified to hurt only women.

    There’s a pattern here that either you’ve somehow failed to notice or that you’re studiously ignoring. When women are preferentially awarded custody in divorce cases, that’s the flipside of a culture that puts the vast majority of child-rearing responsibilities on women. It’s a side-effect of patriarchy-enforced gender roles. It’s the same thing with social pressure on men to avoid situations that make women feel unsafe – it arises as a minor concession to the vast difference in how men and women experience the risk of sexual violence.

    When a man claims to be all about equality but the only asymmetries he seems interested in addressing are the few fringe benefits of being a woman in our society, themselves side effects of major disadvantages, I see no reason to believe he’s arguing in good faith. You’re ignoring the cloud and demanding to know why women get a silver lining.

  295. #295 Marnie
    July 7, 2011

    @Jim 290

    You can’t go around accusing people of being a rapist/potential rapist and not expect to become a social outcast.

    Her execution may have been poor form, but I don’t think anyone here is advocating or even suggesting that women tell men they are dangerous rapists. I think I would have said “no thank you, but thanks so much for the offer.” But I also think it would be courteous (not required, not law, not that anyone is expected to do this but courteous) for the gentleman in question to phrase his offer in a way that it is clear he understands the concerns a woman might have. For instance, he could say “Hey, I know you have to walk home in the dark alone. No pressure at all, I know we don’t know each other well, but if you would like a friendly escort home, I would be happy to walk you to or near your home.” Yes, that might seem convoluted or overly formal, but it lets her know that you appreciate that she is taking a chance if she walks home with you and that your expectations are not to coerce her into sex. It also lets her know that if she declines, you will not press her about it.

    Yes, I agree it can be intimidating. I’d prefer people didn’t do it. But do I expect that all homeless people who are begging for money to buy food for that evening shouldn’t do it because it might make me feel awkward?

    Well, that is exactly the point. No one here is saying that you can’t proposition a woman in an elevator or pass her when she’s walking alone on the street, they are saying that you should be aware that this makes many women uncomfortable. If you would prefer not to make other people uncomfortable, these are measures you can take. It’s not about imposing rules on anyone, it’s about common courtesy. Just as you do not HAVE to hold a door open for the elderly man, tentatively plodding along with his walker, it is a NICE thing to hold the door for him. And if you feel that being told it’s a nice thing to hold a door open for someone, is somehow a condemnation of you, you are mistaken.

    You, and anyone else, has every right to be cautious and to try to avoid situations that annoy you or cause distress. But let us accept that you have to be careful how you communicate such thoughts

    I’m all for avoiding being an ass, no matter what side of the situation you are on. Be aware, though, that many women, yours truly included, have had an attempted to politely decline, aggressively denied. Some of us may get jaded over time. Some of us may find that we can balance being polite but firm, but no one is perfect, and getting that balance right may take time. And again, we are talking about courtesy from both sides. Knowing that a woman may feel you have overstepped her comfort zone, you too must accept some responsibility for “communicating” thoughtfully.

  296. #296 Did Laden Ever Date?
    July 7, 2011

    I suggest that we put women in burkas and only let them out in public with male relatives – that we cut off the hands of non-related men that talk to them.

    This would solve the issue of stressing out women.

    You see all men are really just inherently rapist and you never know when it is going to come out!

  297. #297 Third Brother of the Peach Orchard
    July 7, 2011

    Now we have mullah laden to add to the list of ayatollah myers (PHUH) and mullah phil (SAW).

    thank you laden for reminding me that someone can be brilliant in a narrow area of science but still utterly prudish and dogmatic in real life.

  298. #298 SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu
    July 7, 2011

    The male ego truly is a fragile beast.

  299. #299 Third Brother of the Peach Orchard
    July 7, 2011

    Now we have mullah laden to add to the list of ayatollah myers (PHUH) and mullah phil (SAW).

    thank you laden for reminding me that someone can be brilliant in a narrow area of science but still utterly prudish and dogmatic in real life.

    btw mullah liden (SAW & PBUH) – dawkins is the victim himself of rape. Your entire rants is predicated on the sexist notion that men can’t be raped or were never children who couldn’t be molested – talk about a soap box in the privileged corner.

  300. #300 sigh
    July 7, 2011

    >When a man claims to be all about equality but the only asymmetries he seems interested in addressing are the few fringe benefits of being a woman in our society, themselves side effects of major disadvantages, I see no reason to believe he’s arguing in good faith.
    Riiight. NOW opposes equality legislation that would relieve women of some of “the vast majority of child-rearing responsibilities on women.” By doing this, they reinforce the patriarchy you so despise.

    Yet somehow I’m the bad guy.

    Someone asked for evidence that feminists, not fringe feminists, have done something dubious. I provided that information. Somehow he/she missed all the clearly sexist statements by prominent feminist leaders/figures.

    Thanks for assuming I’m a man by the way.

  301. #301 Jim
    July 7, 2011

    Marnie (294). Thanks for the considered response. I agree with all that you say.

    The problem is, the communication and showing consideration issue is a huge nightmare for which a man is inevitably going to be blamed at some point no matter what he does. Hold a door open for a woman, or give your seat up on the subway and you have no idea whether you will be considered a really nice guy and thanked profusely, or thought a patronising ass by a hardcore feminist who can’t appreciate a kindness. No wonder many men don’t bother these days. Different women will see it differently and you just don’t know beforehand. With EG, some women are clearly of the opinion he should have remained completely silent and any utterance would have been out of order. I’m sure others might have been glad of him saying something innocent (like a comment on the weather) just to relieve the tension. (I know that’s not what he did, but just using it as an example). The point is, you just don’t know and it’s harsh to criticise a man for not being a mindreader.

  302. #302 Stephanie Z
    July 7, 2011

    sigh, you’re saying that fighting legislation that doesn’t allow the best interest of the child to be taken into account in custody disputes is sexist? That’s what you’ve got?

  303. #303 Marnie
    July 7, 2011

    @JIm – 298

    You never know how anyone is going to react to anything. Instead of feeling like the bad examples are proof you should give up on being courteous, just view it how you view any unpleasant person. Surely, if you’ve worked in any sort of customer service or retail role, you know that there are all kinds of really nice and really terrible people in this world.

    But just as you might opt to shield the key pad as you type your pin number at an ATM, especially if someone seems to be standing unnecessarily close to you, it’s completely reasonable for a woman to assess the relative risk of a situation and do her best to keep herself safe. Just as it is A-OK for you to mention on your youtube channel that you think it’s really rude and kind of creepy, when the person behind you at the ATM stands really close while you complete your transaction, it’s A-OK for a woman to mention when someone has overstepped a boundary that many women find uncomfortable.

  304. #304 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2011

    NOW opposes shared custody, which is an issue of equality between parents.

    It’s an issue of far more, and more complex, things than “equality between parents,” and it involves actions where abstract “equality” may not even be an option at all.

    VAWA and Title IX specifically take away a male’s right to due process instead opting to punish them despite lack of evidence.

    In what way, exactly, do they “take away a man’s right to due process?” And if that’s the case, why hasn’t the Supreme Court struck down the offending parts of either law? Another wild claim not supported even by specifics, let alone evidence.

  305. #305 chgo_liz
    July 8, 2011

    Two details that don’t seem to have been covered yet in this long argument:

    1) Crime is largely committed against victims of one’s own race; thus, the most likely victims of crimes by black people are other black people: white people have no rational reason to be automatically afraid of any black person who happens to be standing next to them. Women’s caution and fear around men, on the other hand, is based on reality rather than prejudice.

    2) Studies have shown that men will deny having ever committed rape, but if asked questions like “have you ever had sex with a woman when she was too drunk to talk?” or “have you ever had sex with a woman after she told you no?” they’ll admit to the behavior with no regret. I don’t feel I understand the “rape switch” concept well enough to argue for or against it, but the claim that most man are incapable of committing rape has to take into account that a large number of men don’t even recognize what rape is.

  306. #306 Brandon
    July 8, 2011

    Amazing article with a great comments, I appreciate your efforts & the commentators who gave their time to discuss this topic, however this discussion has been too personal.

  307. #307 Brandon
    July 8, 2011

    Amazing article with great comments, I appreciate your efforts & the commentators who gave their time to discuss this topic, however this discussion has been too personal.

  308. #308 c0mputar
    July 8, 2011

    Someone other than myself made an interest observation.

    “ugh, does the person that suggests this realize that african-americans did this for white people before desegregation.

    further proof of the pushing of men into 2nd class citizenship.”

  309. #309 DaveL
    July 8, 2011

    NOW opposes equality legislation that would relieve women of some of “the vast majority of child-rearing responsibilities on women.”

    Hey, I’m no fan of NOW, but this “some” you’re referring to just happens to be specifically the part that could be seen as an advantage enjoyed by women? You don’t seem too interested in the rest of it. My point entirely.

    Thanks for assuming I’m a man by the way.

    Am I wrong? You’d be the first woman I’d ever encountered who was so fixated on the side-effects of patriarchy that disadvantage men yet so oblivious to the principle effects that disadvantage women.

  310. #310 Marnie
    July 8, 2011

    @ c0mputar / 308

    “ugh, does the person that suggests this realize that african-americans did this for white people before desegregation.
    further proof of the pushing of men into 2nd class citizenship.”

    Um, no, men are not becoming 2nd class citizens. Their level of privilege may be decreasing. When you compare the level of privilege men, especially white men, once had, it can look like some sort of oppression, to the individuals who no longer enjoy as much special treatment, but that is not oppression that is a walk towards equality. Men still hold most political offices, are more represented amongst the top tiers of business and still earn more than their equally qualified female counterparts. Women are still overwhelmingly expected to bear the burden of parenthood often while working as many hours or more than her partner if her partner has even bothered to stick around.

    Comparing men, especially white men, to the plights that people of color have faced throughout western history, is not only petulant, but offensive and shows a decided lack of empathy and exactly no understanding of history.

    The fact that there is some small progress towards equality is not something to fear or bemoan. The rich kid whose mom made him get a job or else face losing his porche, isn’t being abused, he is learning to interact and be a part of adult society. Some day, there will be a level playing field (I hope) and that would be a huge boon to everyone, men, women, people of every nationality (though hopefully that won’t be a thing at all), young and old.

    I’m going to go hug a tree now.

  311. #311 DaveL
    July 8, 2011

    Sure, you can think of me as a “potential rapist;” but by the same logic, shouldn’t you also be labelling me a potential soldier, a potential spy, a potential vigilante, a potential drug-dealer, a potential hit-man, a potential POTUS, a potential whatever-else-it’s-physically-possible-for-me-to-do-if-the-circumstances-allowed…?

    Bee, this is why I made the point that it’s more about another person’s knowledge and context rather than about any particular characteristic of yours.

    To a military recruiter, you probably would be labeled as a potential soldier – because it’s their business to find potential soldiers and turn them into actual soldiers. Similarly, intelligence agencies have comprehensive security clearance processes, in effect treating everybody as a potential spy, because we understand that such agencies have to be concerned about spies.

  312. #312 Raging Bee
    July 8, 2011

    DaveL: Those “potential” assessments you speak of are valid because they are based on more than one observed characteristic. A military recruiter would call me a “potential soldier” if I look strong and healthy and show some interest in serving (but not if I’m flabby and act retarded); a spycatcher would call me a “potential spy” if I’m in a position where I might have the incentive and ability to spy and get significant information (but not if he found me unemployed, drunk and living under a bridge). The “potential rapist” assessment, as described here, is based only on my having a dick, therefore it has no validity and is of no use to anyone.

    Sensible women do not make “potential rapist” assessments; they make “potential assault situation” assessments, and take precautions appropriate to the situation, without having to assess the abstract potential of any individual to be a rapist. That’s what RW did in that elevator. The knowledge she acted on was knowledge of a situation and of actions, not of a person. The situation, at that important moment, mattered more than the person; and the person’s potential to be a threat depended on the situation in which one encountered him.

  313. #313 Solius
    July 8, 2011

    I live in a place where mullets are not a fish that swims upstream and although the trash isn’t always white, the white is usually trash. If people around here see me with a compact florescent light bulb they look at me funny. We avoid having bumper stickers on our cars that reflect our politics just to avoid getting bumped by people on the exit ramp. And so on. Dogs in this neighborhood are often bred for sport, and I’m not talking about duck hunting. Well, that too. But fighting dogs or guard/attack dogs are bred to be nasty, as often as not, judging by what I see in people’s yards and on the ends of chains … not ropes … in my neighborhood.

    I call bullshit! DOX or STFU! You sir, are a cultural bigot. And a clueless one at that.

    As to the latter part of that paragraph, ask yourself… why do they chain their dogs instead using rope???

    Come on, you are a smart guy. You can figure it out.

  314. #314 Raging Bee
    July 8, 2011

    Solius, are you trying to say such places don’t exist? Because they do, and there’s nothing “bigoted” about stating the fact. Ever heard of these things called “sunset towns?” They’re not called that for their beautiful sunsets.

    And what kind of “DOX” are you looking for — the home address?

  315. #315 DaveL
    July 8, 2011

    The “potential rapist” assessment, as described here, is based only on my having a dick, therefore it has no validity and is of no use to anyone.

    That simply isn’t true. Presumably a woman would rule out someone as a potential rapist if they were prepubsecent or a quadruplegic, despite being male. Women routinely also rule out men as potential rapists because they have personal knowledge of them (and sometimes they turn out to be wrong).

    Sensible women do not make “potential rapist” assessments; they make “potential assault situation” assessments,

    Either being stuck in an elevator with a strange man is more of a “potential assault situation” than being stuck there with strange woman or with your grandfather or this is bollocks. Of course the potential of individuals in your immediate environment to cause you harm can and must be included in evaluating a situations potential for an assault. I suspect that what you mean is that the term “potential rapist” is meant to apply only to specific contexts, which is what I’ve been trying to explain all along.

  316. #316 Elizabeth
    July 8, 2011

    Everyone must declare whether or not they have been sexually assaulted or raped, whether or not they have a close person who has been so assaulted, or whether or not they themselves have assaulted or raped someone in the past. I feel like only with that knowledge can I really get a handle on where this conversation is going, and coming from. You start.

  317. Donna Watkins #197, I want to second your observation. It wasn’t nearly so drastic with me, but I was amazed that walking my friend’s middle-sized, friendly dog eliminated those drive-by slow-downs to look me over.

  318. So, Jim, do you feel mortally insulted if someone shields a keypad so that you can’t see their PIN, because that implies that they see you as a potential card-grabber?

  319. #319 Raging Bee
    July 8, 2011

    The problem is, the communication and showing consideration issue is a huge nightmare for which a man is inevitably going to be blamed at some point no matter what he does.

    Really? How many men really have that problem on a regular basis? How many men really get “blamed” “no matter what they do?” Got any specific real instances, or is this all just folklore?

    Hold a door open for a woman, or give your seat up on the subway and you have no idea whether you will be considered a really nice guy and thanked profusely, or thought a patronising ass by a hardcore feminist who can’t appreciate a kindness.

    The male commuters in my region give up their seats every day, and the standard, predictable response is either a smile and a “thank you,” or a smile and a “no, thank you.” I live in a pretty liberal area, and I follow a religion that attracts a lot of women in the generally “feminist” category, and I’ve never met ONE “hardcore feminist who can’t appreciate a kindness.” This is nothing but an imaginiary boogeyman that haunts the dreams of ignorant, immature, insecure overgrown boys. And the vindictive religious demagogues who pander to their irrational fears to line their own pockets.

    No wonder many men don’t bother these days.

    That’s a pretty lame excuse for acting like an oblivious indifferent brat and then throwing a tantrum when someone tries to give you a helpful hint.

    There’s men all over the world who start learning (and practicing) basic etiquette when they’re still boys, and you’re still crying about how hard it is to keep up? Jim, you are one unbelievably stupid troll.

  320. #320 Jim
    July 8, 2011

    Raging Bee (319), quit the name calling. You really are a most immature debater. My post to which you were replying was quite reasonable and measured.

    If you look at my earlier post (230), you will see a concrete example of where a man is blamed for doing the polite and gentlemanly thing, so no, it’s not just folklore. It doesn’t happen on a regular basis I agree, but then, like rape, it doesn’t have to happen on every other encounter to have a big impact.

    Just because you’ve never been insulted by a woman for being chivalrous, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Then again, being a woman yourself, you’re not likely to have experienced it are you.

  321. #321 Stephanie Z
    July 8, 2011

    Congratulations, Jim. Now being insulted has a “big impact” just like rape. Keep going. You’re terribly convincing.

  322. #322 Rging Bee
    July 8, 2011

    One guy felt hurt because a woman said “I would feel safer on my own?” That’s the best example you’ve got of women bashing men for trying to be chivalrous? ONE incident, with no insulting words? Here, lemme ‘splain something: if the woman did now know the man beforehand, then she can’t necessarily be expected to feel “safer” with his escort than without it. It was nice of the guy to offer, but her choosing not to accept isn’t exactly “hard-core feminists” punishing men for trying to do the right thing.

    It doesn’t happen on a regular basis I agree…

    Exactly — it’s not the “huge nightmare” you imagine haunting huge numbers of men. You’re raving about phantoms based on ONE incident, and even that incident isn’t what you make of it.

  323. #323 Jim
    July 8, 2011

    Raging Bee and Stephanie (321, 322). I was not comparing the impact of a rejection or insult with that of rape. Sorry if you thought that was the case.

    The impact is threefold though. Firstly it is very hurtful to the man. Secondly, it makes men as a whole reluctant to do nice, chivalrous things for women (this is a big impact in terms of its breadth of effect on society). This can also end up making women more vulnerable to real rapists because they reject nice guys in favour of walking home alone. Thirdly, it had a fairly major impact for the woman because she lost half her friends.

    It’s not a “huge nightmare”. That was hyperbole on my part, but it’s the woman who suffered most from her behaviour, and that’s a shame.

  324. #324 Marnie
    July 8, 2011

    Jim, you should be the man you want to be regardless of an occasional rude individual. I hold doors open for other people, even though they don’t always say thank you, and some are downright rude. I allow people who are older than I am, off the elevator before I go. Sometimes I get sideways looks, rarely does anyone notice. If you expect a reward for common decency, and decide it’s not worth being decent because of an occasional rude person, then you may want to look at your motives. Be kind not out of chivalry, but because you want to be a good person. Be equally courteous to men and women, young and old, beautiful and not-so-much-your-taste.

    Women, men, adults and children all need to take necessary precautions to avoid situations that may be dangerous. You buy insurance, you wear your seatbelt, you don’t give out your pin number and you don’t wave big wads of cash in public. You might ask your neighbors to take in your mail or put a hold on it while you are on vacation. This isn’t a condemnation of other people but a necessary precaution based on real risks in life.

    Equating a rude response to an offer meant to be courteous, with feminism, is intellectually dishonest. Rude people are rude people. Feminism has no policy of being rude for rude’s sake.

  325. #325 Jim
    July 8, 2011

    Nicely put Marnie (324), thanks. For what it’s worth, I do usually behave as you suggest and most people are happy with that.

  326. Jim, it’s too bad everyone overreacted to an honest woman explaining why she was politely declining the offer of a walk home, so the man wouldn’t go on offering and feeling she was just being modest. I imagine she did it just so he’d know she was comfortable without being over-helped. However, she has expressed her feelings about what’s inside of her — she did not say that she expected the escort to jump her. It was not an accusation. I don’t know whether to wish that her friends should come to their senses or be glad she got rid of a passel of shallow critics.

    Speaking of Schroedinger’s Rapist, here’s a guy who’s obviously safe to walk you home! Except he’s not. Colonel William Russell, a respected and high-ranking officer in the Canadian armed forces, went from stealing panties to raping to murder. And Paul Bernardo, a slimy serial rapist and murderer, volunteered as an escort for women on Glendon University who were afraid to cross the campus alone at night (and for good reason, it has a lot of trees and had about 6 or 7 rapes a year in a small school).

    Dan and others, you don’t get to decide what is an acceptable level of sensible vigilance for someone else. It’s very normal to think that we are Just Right. Other drivers, for example, are divided into Slowpokes and Maniacs, with only a few driving just the way *I* do, the right-thinking way. Can’t you see that your judgement about how worried someone should have been, when you weren’t there and you don’t know what other experiences or attitudes people brought to the situation, is useless? Worse than useless if you don’t shut up, but harmful?

    More women are raped by co-workers than by strangers. It’s absurd to tell them that they can trust people just because they’re attending the same conference–which is what, in effect, you’re doing, by denying that caution can be appropriate.

    You can’t judge what went on in the elevator because you weren’t there. You don’t know what fears a woman is bringing from past experiences. You can’t dictate other people’s reactions. It’s no use to get all huffy and start throwing around that all-or-nothing crap about not being able to have sex any more. And stop whining! I’ve given up my seat thrice as often as I’ve been offered one.

    If it helps, try to think of it as a traffic situation: women will be aware of your velocity, mass, and signals–and if you don’t want to leave them with an adrenalin spike and a sense of relief at their near miss, you will move smoothly, avoid collision courses, give clear signals. It’s not mollycoddling irrational (your pre-judgement!) fears to act with consideration. If you want to get to know someone, why not start with not creeping her out? Do you really want her second thought about you to be, “I’m glad he’s staying on his side of the elevator for a change?” Wouldn’t it be better if her first thought was, “I feel comfortable with him because he’s not pushing my limits” and her second thought something even more positive?

  327. My long comment has links in it, so you won’t see it til later.

    Meanwhile, go read the open letter to Dawkins on Almost Diamonds, and the ever-growing list of signatories.

  328. #328 Aaron
    July 9, 2011

    I’m afraid I’m just not gonna inconveneince myself to make insecure wenches more comfortable. It’s beneath my dignity. If I get any complaints from women in my life I actually care about, then yeah, but viewing myself through the lens of a quivering little waif? Nah. Sorry ladies, you’re just gonna have to be afraid.

  329. #329 Marnie
    July 9, 2011

    @Aaron 328, you probably don’t inconvenience yourself with covering your nose when you sneeze, turning on your turn signals, avoiding hitting other people with you bag when you are walking in confined spaces, stepping out of a theatre to make a phone call, or any of the myriad other niceties that people engage in when they realize that a little thoughtful gesture can make other people’s lives nicer even if it “inconveniences” us slightly.

    If the offended men would please take a deep breath, know that we are just talking about a courteous gesture. No one is saying men must cross the street. No one is calling you a rapist. The distrust and uncertainty is probably the same way you feel if you have to park your car somewhere without good lighting in a neighborhood you don’t know well, on an untraveled side street. You simply have no idea whether your car is at risk of vandalism or not. It sure would have been NICE if the city had better lighting in these streets. If you see a crowd of teens, standing around a block or two away, you might arguably think they are “potential vandals.” That doesn’t make you a waif quivering in fear, that makes you someone rationally assessing the risk of the situation.

  330. #330 Raging Bee
    July 9, 2011

    The impact is threefold though. Firstly it is very hurtful to the man.

    A woman politely declining an offer of an escort is “very hurtful?” Jeezy Creezy, get over yourself! If you’re that eaily hurt by a woman making her own judgments, you have a major problem — she doesn’t.

    Secondly, it makes men as a whole reluctant to do nice, chivalrous things for women (this is a big impact in terms of its breadth of effect on society).

    One woman saying no makes men reluctant to offer to help in the future? If you’re that easily deterred from doing what you thnk is right, then you’re probably not that committed to women’s safety; and the women are right not to trust you.

    This can also end up making women more vulnerable to real rapists because they reject nice guys in favour of walking home alone. Thirdly, it had a fairly major impact for the woman because she lost half her friends.

    So if a woman says no, all the men in her life will run away and she’ll be lonely and vulnerable for the rest of her life and she’ll regret saying no but then it’ll be too late ’cause she’s doomed herself to die an old maid? Gee, where have I heard that before…? Oh yeah, every stuck-up guy who wants to guilt some woman into stroking his ego and other bits! Your manipulative, underhanded threat is both transparent and disgraceful; and it shows you really don’t give a shit about doing the right thing for women. If I have an opportunity to walk a woman home, and think it would help her, I certainly would not let any butthurt from my past stop me from trying to act like a good guy (and maybe get a date or at least a little respect).

    And all that dire generalization from ONE INCIDENT? What a jucking foke.

    It’s not a “huge nightmare”. That was hyperbole on my part…

    That’s all your argument is: hyperbole and childish resentment.

  331. #331 Aaron
    July 9, 2011

    Yeah, yeah Marnie. Two points:

    No. 1: I might be the only poster here who not only doesn’t need a deep breath but also doesn’t need medication.

    No. 2 How are your examples not inconveniences? Look, I’m not gonna physically contact or verbally annoy people. Great. However I’m not gonna indefinitely extend the sphere of consideration to all subgroups who might feel annoyed/menaced for any reason, I think the line’s fine where it is. Also I’m not going to approach women with the idea that they might be terrified of me. I kind of like my social life to be more enjoyable than that, cheers. However I might get a big t-shirt saying TRIGGER WARNING on it.

    While we’re considering everybody’s possible feelings, tell you what, if we do approach you when you’re in a crowd and you turn us down, don’t gossip about us to your pals, it might make us, poor, poor souls, want to approach you while you’re alone to mitigate the embarrassment of other people watching. Also, hey, you want men to feel a bit less sexually frustrated? Cover up! The poor, poor men can’t help that nature lumped them with the higher sex drive. Oh yeah, and if you’re in a relationship with us don’t ask us for money, it undermines our trust that you love us for ourselves. It’s not that much of an inconvenience, just need to check yourself. Whinge, whinge, whinge.

  332. #332 chgo_liz
    July 9, 2011

    @ Tim

    One of the basic aspects of atheism is that we don’t need the carrot/stick approach to ethics: we choose to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, not because we’re hoping for heaven or fearful of hell.

    If you think “being a gentleman” can be dropped the instant there is one example of a woman not appreciating your behavior the way you want her to, then you’re still thinking like a theist. And like a jerk.

  333. #333 Aaron
    July 9, 2011

    pteryxx,

    ============
    “The verifiable stats say somewhere between 1 in 60 and 1 in 30 men is a rapist, and 1 in 6 women are their victims. Women tend to be wary because their odds SUCK.”
    ============

    LOL @ 1 in 6. Let’s just assume for a moment these whacky facts are true. I kind of wanted to know what it must be like to go around with a similar probability of being attacked. Of course, I wouldn’t know, being a privileged gobshite. But wait! Turns out I’ve actually had a similar experience, but nobody gives enough of a fuck to write a gender studies PhD on it and tell me about it. I googled some violent crime stats, and found this: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1661

    “Young men, aged 16 to 24, were most at risk, with 13.4 per cent experiencing a violent crime of some sort in the year preceding the interview, compared with 6.4 per cent of women of the same age”

    And that’s just in the past year! What are the lifetime stats like?!

    Wow, here I am walking around with a 1 in 10 + chance of getting hammered. I had no idea! If a guy enters an elevator with me, or approaches me when I’m alone, or whatever, I too shall begin a bowel movement. Oh no wait, I’m 1. not officially recognized as oppressed and 2. not quite THAT pathetic.

    Anyway, I’m sick of scanning through this thread. Things must be pretty bad on your planet and I’m sure you got some work to do, so I’ll let you refuel your space-jets and shoot along home.

  334. #334 Marnie
    July 9, 2011

    @Aaron / 331

    No. 1: I might be the only poster here who not only doesn’t need a deep breath but also doesn’t need medication.

    I’m feeling both level headed and unmedicated, not that the latter matters. Needing to take medication is not a personality flaw. It’s also a pretty hurtful way to accuse other people of being unreasonable. Suggesting that people who do need medication should feel shamed about it is right up there with logging around “faggot” and “retard”.

    How are your examples not inconveniences?

    I don’t think being courteous is inconvenient, but most courtesies require some level of effort on a person’s part. Sneezing into the air is less work than covering your face. Holding a door, or holding a bag close to you as you navigate a busy street all take effort. Stepping out of a theatre to make a phone call is surely as inconvenient as crossing the street. Every day, we all make concessions to our own convinces to be a decent member of society. If you don’t want to make some or any of those concessions, no one will make you do so. Just know how you’ll be perceived. The reason I said to take a deep breath is because no one here is telling you you have to do anything, so you don’t need to be defensive. No one is infringing on your rights. You are allowed to plow past a lone woman walking alone on a deserted street. She may wonder your intentions as you do so. If you weren’t aware of that before, you are now.

    If we do approach you when you’re in a crowd and you turn us down, don’t gossip about us to your pals, it might make us, poor, poor souls, want to approach you while you’re alone to mitigate the embarrassment of other people watching.

    I have never been in a situation where my friends openly mocked a man who approached one of us. Don’t know what to tell you. I’m sorry if your feelings were hurt when that happened. I’ve had men call me a bitch when I politely declined a dance. I’ve managed to move on in life.

    Also, hey, you want men to feel a bit less sexually frustrated? Cover up!

    Sorry, no, that’s not going to work out, any more than we can end robbery by not allowing people to own expensive items. You have to be responsible for your own behavior. You don’t get to play the “why do you make me rape you?” card.

    Oh yeah, and if you’re in a relationship with us don’t ask us for money, it undermines our trust that you love us for ourselves.

    I don’t. Part of being a feminist is that I feel a relationship should be equal and I have always paid my half. But, I’ve dated men who have asked me for money as have plenty of other women. If you continually find yourself perusing women who ask you for money and mock you when you ask them out, perhaps you need to think about the women you are drawn to and why. As the saying goes, the only common link in all your failed relationships is you.

  335. #335 Jim
    July 9, 2011

    Raging Bee (330), as you continue to misread and misrepresent and twist my comments, I shan’t respond to you further. It’s a shame you can’t discourse like a rational person.

    Have a read of what Marnie said and my responses to her. Though we don’t necessarily agree on everything, she at least gave considered, thoughtful responses and I enjoyed the debate with her. You are just a hater, prone to giving abuse and deadening your arguments with emotive and loaded name calling. See ya.

  336. #336 Greg Laden
    July 9, 2011

    Raging Bee [264] Greg, what sort of “field data” would you use to test this theory as you’ve stated it?

    First, let me reiterate that I did not state it. I don’t take credit for the rape switch hypothesis. It’s Victoria Brandon. As far as field data, she used Browmiller’s data on wartime rape. I would add to that data this: I lived in the congo for quite some time and the average man there was not a rapist. Now, in the area that I lived, there are very few men under the age of 20 who have ever had sex that was not rape.

    Also, the word “usually” is a problem here: how can you say a man would “usually” commit rape under certain altered circumstances, if those circumstances are not “usual?”

    I don’t understand why there is a problem here with equivocation. Is this hypothesis required to work like a physics problem while all other things in the social sciences do not? What if there is no woman? What if the man is physically unable to commit rape? Right now there are four light switches in my house that when I throw them there is no light. There is a different reason in each case ranging from there is nothing plugged into the wall to the bulb is burned out. Even a switch does not meet your standard!

  337. #337 Greg Laden
    July 9, 2011

    DaveL [266] Thank you for your permission to think stuff that did not occur to you! This is very much relevant to this discussion. To dismiss “why” is rarely wise. To take rape as you feel you understand it as a given is unwise .

    What is more important than how many men rape is how many women are sexaully assaulted or otherwise messed with in a way related to them being women, by men. Otherwise, I think we agree that women are legitimacy concerned.

    Very nice use of footnote. I may start requiring that all commenters use footnotes.

  338. #338 Greg Laden
    July 9, 2011

    Dan [266] The elevator incident was disrespectful and socially awkward. To characterize it as dangerous or threatening based on the available descriptions belies prejudice. Fear and mistrust are not suitable alternatives to caution and awareness.

    Actually no. You see, Rebecca gets to tell us what the situation was. You don’t get to tell her. That is the point.

    Raging Bee [270] Then you went on to equate those fears with bigotry, and call them harmful (so much for respecting others’ fears), after a bit of nonsensical word-salad about “situational privilege” that had no bearing on the situation.

    The equation of bigotry and a woman’s strategy to avoid sexual assault (or other similar acts) is really important, I’ve realized, because it is one of the main barriers to people (mostly doods) understanding what is going on here. This may require a blog post…

  339. #339 Greg Laden
    July 9, 2011

    Raging Bee [279] Besides, once your “rape switch” was turned on, would you really be able to reason your way out of that situation, after you were unable to reason your way out of having your “rape switch” turned on?

    There is an irony here that relates to why the “rape switch” hypothesis was first suggested. The conundrum was this: A very large percentage of combat soldiers in the US Military in Viet Nam raped women. The vast majority of those men seem to have ceased that behavior on return to the US. (Viet Nam is a well studied case. This applies as well to other theaters of war, though not all). The “rape switch” seemed needed not so much to be something that gets turned on, but rather, to be something that gets turned off.

    A way to think about this is the following: In the late 1980s when this discussion was happening, imagine a room full of college students in the US Ask the students to raise their hands if their dad was in the military at any time. Keep your hand up if he was in Viet Nam. Those with dads who were in combat, keep your hand up. (This only works in a very large lecture hall, where it would be rather impressive.) Of those, half (or whatever the number is) have dads who are rapists, using the following definition of rapist:

    “A rapist is a guy who raped someone.”

    That’s pretty straight forward and rather heavy stuff. The first, most obvious question would be: Shouldn’t dad be classified as a Level 4 (or whatever the number would be) sex offender? Or is that not necessary because the women he raped were merely peasants in some foreign country? Is dad a rapist now? Well, by the definition given yes. Will he rape again? Maybe. Do these men rape again? Usually not. Thus the switch hypothesis. (And how it was born…. I quickly note this raising of the hands thing never happened, it was a thought experiment)

  340. #340 Greg Laden
    July 9, 2011

    msironen [280]

    Well in feminist utopia you could,

    Missed the point by a mile. Missed the whole concept. In feminist utopia, which is a place we all strive for, you would not have to cross the street.

    bullshit rationalisations why calling all men rapists isn’t really calling them rapists, especially if you add some wink-wink-“potential”-nudge-nudge qualifier

    Spoken like a true … man.

    And I paraphrase myself.

    well that’s Glenn-fucking-Beck logic.

    I’m seeing a lot more of these “I’m concerned you are Glenn Beck” trolls. It does not help me to understand the situation because I’ve never seen Glenn Beck, only the parodies of him. I think.

    the concerns of anyone particular, male or female.

    Last time I checked you were a misogynist creep.

    Fuck you and the horse you rode in, too.

    Now, here is something you and I have in common, msironen: You and I have both told DuWayne to fuck his horse. The difference is that I love the guy and I’m thinking you might not.

  341. #341 Jim
    July 9, 2011

    To Chgo_Liz (332), totally agree with you there. I do also still behave as a gentleman and usually it is appreciated. However, as a theoretical point, I think you can understand that if one were to be accused of being a rapist every other time you tried to be nice to someone, you’d eventually stop bothering. Currently, it happens only rarely, so it’s not an issue right now. Hopefully it never will come to that.

    Unfortunately, people like Raging Bee have distorted what I said, so that it appears I am hung up on one incident (which didn’t even involve me) and act as a thin-skinned and petulant ass. That was just one example, because I used it as, yes, an example. Does anyone really expect me to detail every interaction, positive or negative I’ve had with women?

  342. #342 Zugabdu
    July 10, 2011

    I think a meaningful distinction needs to be made between over-and-above-the-call-of-duty gestures to make women comfortable, like crossing the street or waiting for the next elevator, and baseline expectations of non-misogyny, like not hitting on a woman who has said she is not interested in further social interaction in a confined and isolated space.

    In the former cases, it’s nice if you do them, but there’s nothing wrong or unreasonable about not doing them (obviously, one can imagine circumstances in which doing them becomes becomes mandatory – dark alleys late at night come to mind – but in a typical situation, they’re not necessary), while in the latter case, you are doing something morally offensive if you fail to observe a behavioral standard.

    To me, waiting for the next elevator is the paradigmatic example of the latter and that’s where I would draw the line. If it’s late, and I’m tired and I just want to get back to my room, and the elevator is large enough to comfortably accommodate two people, I am not going to wait for another elevator so that you can ride in solitude. If some men want to wait for the next elevator to be polite, good on them, but I’m not being unreasonable by not waiting. I certainly won’t intrude on your personal space, or try to make conversation with you, let alone sexually proposition you. I’ll probably say good evening and go back to reading my kindle or fidgeting with my iPod. But I won’t accept that I have seriously breached any line of etiquette. It’s not that the woman’s feelings are meaningless and irrelevant, it’s just that I am going to balance them against my own comfort and convenience and that I have to draw the line somewhere.

    I in no way mean to imply or suggest that women who are made uncomfortable by being alone with a man in an elevator are being excessively sensitive or that their feelings are unreasonable. I come down firmly on Rebecca Watson’s side in the Richard Dawkins controversy. I do mean to suggest that an expectation that men not to hit on women at 4am in elevators and an expectation that men not even ride an elevator with a woman for the purpose of going about his own business are in completely different leagues.

  343. #343 Raging Bee
    July 10, 2011

    I think you can understand that if one were to be accused of being a rapist every other time you tried to be nice to someone, you’d eventually stop bothering.

    How many men are “accused of being a rapist every other time [they] tried to be nice to someone?” Seriously, how often does anything like really happen, outside the fantasies of the feminist-bashers? Some reliable statistics would be helpful here. In the incident originally under discussion here, RW certainly did not accuse anyone of being a rapist, only of acting creepy. Tell us, Jim, did the woman who turned down your friend’s offer of assistance accuse him of being a rapist? You didn’t state that in your original retelling. I’ve offered my seat to women on subway trains, asked women out, held doors for them, stood back to let them go before me…and none of them accused me of anything. Once again, you appear to be raving about imagined wrongs and insults.

    That was just one example, because I used it as, yes, an example.

    Exactly: you’re basing a lot of dire generalizations on ONE ANECDOTE. And even that anecdote doesn’t support your conclusions. Again, you got any actual statistics to back any of it up?

  344. #344 Jim
    July 10, 2011

    Raging Bee (344). I really didn’t want to reply to you, but as you are clearly the dumbest fuck I have ever come across, I’ll force myself to. In your first quote of mine, if you just included the very next sentence [Currently, it happens only rarely, so it's not an issue right now], then it answers your question as to how often it happens. You also missed out the preceding phrase which was “As a theoretical point…”, which is kind of important if you then go on to demand reliable statistics. Perhaps you’re also the kind of moron who would ask a physicist for the data-set of a thought experiment?

    Really, I’ve got better things to do with my life than discuss things further with you. Byeee.

  345. #345 Greg Laden
    July 10, 2011

    Zugabdu,
    In the former cases, it’s nice if you do them, but there’s nothing wrong or unreasonable about not doing them (obviously, one can imagine circumstances in which doing them becomes becomes mandatory – dark alleys late at night come to mind -

    I know its been a long time since you read the post, but that was the circumstance being discussed!

    To me, waiting for the next elevator is the paradigmatic example of the latter and that’s where I would draw the line.

    See, here’s the problem … and this needs to be discussed more so I’m glad you brought it up … there is no “line” but there are a lot of circumstances that are highly variable. Men should not walk around with a set of rules in their heads like some sort of engineer’s lookup table for how much red balls weight. They should walk around with the more or less (but mostly more) tendency in place to be thoughtful and to have some sort of clue. Then you make your decisions on the basis of circumstance. Drawing lines and making rules can be interpreted as just another way of expressing disagreement with something that has not even happened yet in a way that does not look too much like sexism but may well be.

    Regarding waiting for the elevator, I don’t see myself doing that very often (Cant recall having ever done it) but what a lot of men may be missing is this: There have been times when women have taken action to avoid being on the elevator alone with you! Well, if you live in a place with no elevators prolly not, but the point is that the world of women that men live kind of next to but are often unaware of is busy compensating for what people here are talking about commonly enough that it is mostly internalized and automatic.

  346. #346 Zugabdu
    July 10, 2011

    @Greg Laden

    They should walk around with the more or less (but mostly more) tendency in place to be thoughtful and to have some sort of clue.

    I don’t think anything to the contrary appeared in my post.

    Drawing lines and making rules can be interpreted as just another way of expressing disagreement with something that has not even happened yet in a way that does not look too much like sexism but may well be.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to get across with this sentence. How can I disagree with an event that hasn’t happened yet? I’m not drawing the line based on something that “hasn’t happened yet,” I frequently ride in elevators with only one other passenger, and frequently that one other passenger is a woman. Prospective rulemaking is a part of etiquette; that’s why rules are called rules. Maybe rulemaking and line-drawing were the wrong terms to use (as an attorney I’m drawn to that kind of language).

    I am aware of women’s higher level of threat awareness and agree that they are reasonable to have it. I also agree that I may from time to time have to take steps to accommodate that awareness. I can even imagine particular situations in which I would not ride on an elevator with a lone woman; the easiest of which to imagine is that it’s one of those tiny, old elevators that wouldn’t give you enough room to spread your arms. But as a matter of routine, I am not going to assume that I should not ride an elevator with a lone woman, even though I will assume that I shouldn’t stand in her personal space or try to make small talk by asking personal questions. It sounds like you won’t assume that either, based on your post.

    Also, if you’re trying to accuse me of sexism (I can’t quite tell if that’s what you’re doing), can you do it in a less mealy-mouthed and roundabout way or provide any evidence for that assertion?

  347. #347 Greg Laden
    July 10, 2011

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to get across with this sentence. How can I disagree with an event that hasn’t happened yet?

    I may be thinking this through farther in my head than in my comment … What I’m talking about is this. People are currently arguing that there is an objective and rational way to approach one on one interactions between a man and a woman who do not know each other who end up encountering each other, including statements about what is doing too much, what is doing too little, what it is reasonable to react to, what is not reasonable, etc. MPost hoc, it will often be easy to say that a certain thing should or should not have been done … indeed, the argument that Rebecca should not have been put off by EG is an example of that. A priori it is easy to say that a certain thing should never happen … one should never cross the street because that’s just tough luck, or one should never avoid getting on an elevator, etc. My position on this is that most attempts at a priori rules of behavior that are not fairly vague guidelines are useless because they don’t take into account what a reasonable person should do, and post hoc assessments of what should have happened are suspect because they are at best biased hearsay.

    (Notice all the legal termini logy in that paragraph!!!)

    I’m not accusing you of sexism, and I’m not sure we are even disagreeing. I’m talking rather about the nature of the argument and the language we use to make the argument, and its consequences.

    I would not ride on … one of those tiny, old elevators that wouldn’t give you enough room to spread your arms.

    The trick here is to not spread your arms!!!!

    Even before you wrote this, the present conversation made me remember an elevator in a museum I used to work in. It was tiny, you had to pull the doors shut and open yourself, the inner door being one of those cage-thingie-deals. There was one person who worked in that building who fit almost perfectly into the elevator and had to actually enter the elevator with her hand up and ready to press the button, that’s how small it was. I got stuck in there once with YoYo Ma and his cello. That would have been an elevator to avoid under certain circumstances.

  348. #348 Zugabdu
    July 10, 2011

    @Greg Laden

    I’m not accusing you of sexism, and I’m not sure we are even disagreeing.

    I don’t think we disagree much about anything either. I completely agree that the awareness you describe is absolutely necessary and that many people fail to exercise it. To me, the bigger question is what that awareness morally requires requires you to do.

    My position on this is that most attempts at a priori rules of behavior that are not fairly vague guidelines are useless because they don’t take into account what a reasonable person should do

    To the extent I disagree with you, it would be here. I do not believe it is difficult or useless to imagine a typical version of a situation and what ought to be expected a priori when one encounters that situation. Rules of etiquette do not simply consist of “do what is reasonable under the circumstances.” They typically list various circumstances and explain what is and is not expected behavior and why. Maybe norms is a better word than rules. Here’s a good example of the kind of norm I’m talking about:

    ALL men who have given sufficient consideration to women’s position in our society do this walking trick.

  349. #349 Greg Laden
    July 10, 2011

    “ALL men who have given sufficient consideration to women’s position in our society do this walking trick.” …. when appropriate; They do not run across the street every time they see some chick.

  350. #350 John C. Welch
    July 11, 2011

    This is the part that really, truly confuses me.

    As best I can tell, every comment here agreeing with Greg, and even Greg’s post have what is to me, a very bizarre, and honestly disturbing theme:

    *women are helpless*.

    Seriously, it is stated, in different ways, over and over that women must live in fear of any and every man, because he might try to rape her, and well, if that happens, she’s fucked. (on every level).

    This I do not understand. Admittedly, I have a different background, having taught martial arts for some years, and having taught women all kinds of ways to commit mayhem on anyone who would harm them. But still, this assumption that all women are helpless if attacked by a man is, to put it mildly, crap.

    Data point. Guy i used to work for in the clearwater area has a sister, who was maayyyyybe 5’0″. If she stretched a bit. One day at the mall, dude tries to attack her. Classic setup too, waited until she had her trunk open and was putting packages in it. Started to grab her from behind. The INSTANT this happened, she attacked back. Drove his ass into the trunk, (it was a 70’s caddy, BIG trunk), and then drove to the police department. She runs inside, and says “Some shithead tried to attack me, I have him in the trunk.” The cops, undestandably, alllll flood out to see what is going on, and she pops the trunk. Ta-daaaaa, very confused dumbass. She sees him, and the way my boss told it, she starts seeing red again, and dives into the trunk to finish what she started. Cops had to work hard to pull her off him.

    This guy, it turns out, wasn’t a potential rapist. He was an ACTUAL rapist. Not a small guy either. Got his ass beat by a 5’0′ woman who wasn’t going to take his shit.

    Over and over, I can point variations on this out. The women who, when there was a rapist at UND in the late 80s/early 90s promptly got concealed carry permits, .380s, and commenced to walking around in the dark, alone, with large loads of books. Because they were not going to take that shit.

    The girl in Grand Forks during that time who, upon waking to the site of a man breaking into her basement apartment window, did not let the dude do…whatever, but rather reached under her pillow, out came the 9mm, and while she managed to not hit him, (most people are shit shots under stress), made DAMNED sure he didn’t lay a hand on her. may have nicked him once. By the time he got back onto the street, she was not the only one gunning for him.

    Women, are not, in general, (and there are lots of exceptions to this), going to have as much max muscle mass as a guy, but, not all attackers are 6’4″ weightlifters either. Also, as it turns out, guys are not inherently good fighters. The ones that are, learned that “craft”.

    Defending yourself is not some esoteric bullshit, it is something that every man, woman and child needs to understand and know. Not that bullshit women’s self-defense with a series of carefully choreographed moves that will never be practiced and therefore leave one with a false sense of security, but rather something you think about and practice regularly.

    If you feel you are too weak to defend yourself, there is an answer: Become stronger. Lift weights. Do the same things men do to become stronger. (NO, you will not instantly become some roided out freak if you get to where you can do 20 pushups without needing to be on your knees.)

    It is nice and wonderful and good that there are men willing to go out of their way to help you out. But why, why, WHY are we assuming that is the only answer? Why are we, well, no, why are so many of YOU assuming women are so damned helpless?

  351. #351 jafafahots
    July 11, 2011

    Rapists don’t ask you out for coffee first.

    I knew a guy named Stephen Peter Morin. Very charming, good-looking guy. Extremely friendly and personable. He asked my mom out, ended up living in our house. He would ask other women out.

    For example, there’s one woman he has what I imagine was a charming conversation with because he was driving my Mom’s van with NY plates in TX, and she was from NY. Not far from where we were from.

    Being charming and friendly and good looking, and a nice guy from (she thought) near her home town, she apparently decided to say OK to a proposition, or at least continue the conversation, or at least let her guard down in some way.

    At which point Stephen Peter Morin raped and murdered her. As he had done with many other women. Over 26, or so he claimed, though he was only tried in the case of a few. Left bodies around the country.

    TX executed him.

    He may very well have asked some of his victims out for coffee. Maybe many. He might never have had to sneak up behind them and hit them on the head, he was very personable, he didn’t need to.

    He was a very nice charming polite “good” guy apart from the rapey-strangly-shooty stuff he did regularly.

    But this isn’t to say that the ONLY reason EG’s behavior was inappropriate was that many women (correctly) would assess the situation as having at least SOME possibility of risk to them.

    It’s also inappropriate because there are probably a lot of women who just plain don’t want their first perceived “utility” and therefore first topic of conversation to be about how good they’d feel surrounding a man’s penis.

    Or even about how they’d make a nice woman to rescue that man from his loneliness and social anxiety and would come home and be all cheerful and movie-cute when he needs someone to serve that purpose for him.

    Me, I just like to be left the fuck alone. I don;t like being approached by strangers most of the time, and I’m not afraid of harm, I just don’t want to be fucking bothered.

    As a man, I have that privilege. If you’re a man, you probably do too even if you don’t recognize it. You can engage a person, or you can stand at the bus stop, ignore everyone and not let people intrude into your space.

    Give others the same courtesy.

  352. #352 jennygadget
    July 11, 2011

    jafahots,

    Thank you. I just rolled my eyes when I read that bit about rapists not asking their victims out for coffee first because…just….WHAT?! How do they isolate their victims then, with a rag soaked in chloroform as their victim is leaving work?

    John,

    You know, it is remotely possible that the larger problem is that women quickly learn we will be punished if we fight back, and not just by our harassers/attackers/etc. But, no, wait…now that you have mansplained to me that being aware of my limitations – and the larger context of my situation – is the same as thinking I am weak, I am sure you are right and I am wrong.

  353. #353 Noadi
    July 11, 2011

    @351 I don’t think anyone is suggesting that women NOT learn self defense or be willing to use it. I’m pretty comfortable in my capabilities to defend myself against the average unarmed man.

    However it’s much better for my peace of mind and blood pressure to only feel stressed out that a guy might attack me when he actually is going to. The idea here is that men who aren’t rapist/mugger/etc. act in a way that does not trigger my fight or flight response, especially not in an enclosed area where the response is more likely to be fight. Also, I really don’t want to get charged with assault for breaking some guy’s nose because I interpreted his actions as a threat when he didn’t actually intend me harm.

    However you have to be a fucking moron to think that self defense training or having a gun is some sort of immunity to harm. Simple fact is that maybe I’ll run into a man who is a better fighter than I am or has a gun. Even if I go around armed all the time that’s no guarantee, if you are faced by someone who has a gun or knife on you it doesn’t matter one bit if I have pepper spray in my purse (or a gun for that matter) because you will always be slower to pull out a weapon and use it than the person who already has the weapon out. If being trained how to fight or being armed was some guaranteed protection from harm then cops wouldn’t wear bullet proof vests.

  354. #354 John C. Welch
    July 11, 2011

    353:

    John,
    You know, it is remotely possible that the larger problem is that women quickly learn we will be punished if we fight back, and not just by our harassers/attackers/etc. But, no, wait…now that you have mansplained to me that being aware of my limitations – and the larger context of my situation – is the same as thinking I am weak, I am sure you are right and I am wrong.

    And here we go. I said something that was not in perfect line with what you wanted to hear, but you have the magic word: Mansplaining. It’s the ultimate ad hominem. Now you, and anyone else who agrees with you can dismiss everything I say, have said, and will ever say. It’s bullshit. If you have a problem with what I was saying or was not sure about my intent, ask.

    Maybe I’d blow you off or whatever, but maybe I wouldn’t. But now it doesn’t matter. You’ve used the word of power. I MANNNNNNSPLAINED. Bang, done. Surprised you didn’t also include the MRA bit.

    It didn’t even occur to you to talk about why you would feel i’m wrong for thinking what I am, or try to point things out to me I might not be aware of because every damned body on the planet has shit they aren’t aware of. Nope. I “mansplained”, fuck that guy, he’s worthless.

    If you want to to know what’s pissing people off, and by people, i include more women than you may like to think, it is this…*orthodoxy* being imposed. No one can even THINK of saying “But what about…”. Nope. if you disagree in the slightest, you’ve lost all value as a human being.

    And no, I don’t think you’re necessarily wrong because you disagree with me. It is obviously possible, and quite common for two different people to take two different viewpoints on the same issue and neither be wrong. However, if you’d like to talk about your disagreement without the dismissal, I’d be more than happy to. We may never agree, but we both may learn something new.

    354:

    However it’s much better for my peace of mind and blood pressure to only feel stressed out that a guy might attack me when he actually is going to. The idea here is that men who aren’t rapist/mugger/etc. act in a way that does not trigger my fight or flight response, especially not in an enclosed area where the response is more likely to be fight. Also, I really don’t want to get charged with assault for breaking some guy’s nose because I interpreted his actions as a threat when he didn’t actually intend me harm.

    (Thanks for not just dismissing a point of view you disagree with. Makes for a much nicer discussion.)

    Well, given that Laden knows two women who would have committed assault on EG:

    Ah. She was talking about Elevator Guy. “Yeah. Desiree said would punch him in the face.”
    “Me too.”
    “That guy’s gonna have a bloody nose. Hey, did I tell you about this dog the other day?”

    That’s a valid point. However, part of teaching people to fight is a lot of time spent teaching people to read situations and master fight or flight so that they can use that instinct correctly. Are there things men *can* do to help out? sure. Of course. *Should* guys do this? That’s up to the individual guy in question, and I’m not going to bag on anyone’s choice. I think what some guys are objecting to here is the *expectation* than they *have* to do these things, especially the crossing the street thing. (that one is a bit of a lightning rod, and I can see why. The others are things you just do in general, i.e. elevator behavior, bus stop behavior, etc. The crossing the street one is out of the general norm, and I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised that it raises the most objections.)

    However you have to be a fucking moron to think that self defense training or having a gun is some sort of immunity to harm. Simple fact is that maybe I’ll run into a man who is a better fighter than I am or has a gun. Even if I go around armed all the time that’s no guarantee, if you are faced by someone who has a gun or knife on you it doesn’t matter one bit if I have pepper spray in my purse (or a gun for that matter) because you will always be slower to pull out a weapon and use it than the person who already has the weapon out. If being trained how to fight or being armed was some guaranteed protection from harm then cops wouldn’t wear bullet proof vests.

    Sigh. I know I didn’t say that. I’m really quite positive I didn’t say that. In fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t imply it, but in case i was accidentally imprecise about it, no, obviously fighting back doesn’t render you immune from harm. If it did, no one would ever have to actually get punched, it would be impossible. But I also didn’t think I had to be that detailed about things. I was incorrect in that assumption. I’m also not going to get into tactical arguments here, because it’s inappropriate, and not the point I was asking about which is the constant implication that “women are utterly helpless in this world”. I’m well aware of how few things stop a bullet. So are SEALS. They wear lots of body armor, and they’re rather a bit more capable than any civilian police officer. The fact that there are things almost impossible to defend against doesn’t dismiss the wisdom of learning to manage what you CAN.

    And I still don’t know why there is an implication that women are helpless.

  355. #355 Raging Bee
    July 11, 2011

    And here we go. I said something that was not in perfect line with what you wanted to hear, but you have the magic word: Mansplaining. It’s the ultimate ad hominem.

    You said something ignorant, and we called you ignorant. And let’s face it — after spending so much time and effort protesting your inability to understand what we’re saying, you really don’t get to complain when we acknowledge that you’re as ignorant as you confess you are.

    And I still don’t know why there is an implication that women are helpless.

    Gee, I dunno, it’s such a deep unfathomable mystery…maybe it’s because so many women find themselves in situations where they really are helpless, or would be helpless if they were assaulted in said situations? That’s just one guess. Another guess is that NONE OF US are actually saying that women are always helpless everywhere; we’re saying it’s a little more complex than that.

    I think I’ve narrowed the source of your problem down to the area between your chair and your keyboard.

  356. #356 Marnie
    July 11, 2011

    @ John C. Welch, maybe I can explain it in terms you can better relate to.

    All people are susceptible to identity theft. You never know if an email, a person talking to you, an unsolicited call or someone walking by your mail box when you have outgoing mail, will be looking for a chance to steal you identity.

    You don’t live in crushing fear of identity theft but when someone comes up to you and starts asking about your mother’s parents last name or wants to see what kind of credit card you carry, or asks you what street you grew up on, you start to wonder. Do you think this person might be trying to get my personal info? Is it possible this person has alterier motives? You are a bright person and you tend to know what sorts of info not to give out, but it’s really creepy when someone you don’t know puts you in a position that makes you wonder and you can either be rude and call them out and risk finding out they are just bad at small talk or you can try to politely brush it off, but no matter what, you don’t want to risk being in a place where you have exposed yourself to potential risk.

    As a side note, you mention to other people that it’s really unnerving when people ask you questions that might be used to determine your passwords or your credit info and then a million billion people jump all over you and ask you why you are so untrusting and don’t you know that you can monitor your credit and that you should be using extra strong passwords and why do you allow yourself to be a victim?

    Stop looking at this as poor helpless women demanding people behave different and look at it as informed women who avoid risk and want to point out behavior that is generally agreed to be a sign of possible risk. Why? Not because they are demanding anyone be different but because it simply may not have occurred to some people, — people who actually care if they are making someone feel uncomfortable — that certain behaviors set off warning bells.

    Stop telling women that if they are a victim of crime, it’s their fault for not having sufficient martial arts training or firearms training. That’s backward thinking and it presupposes that an individual would rather fight an attacker than avoid him or her altogether.

    It also assumes that the potential victim is completely able bodied, with his or her hands free and not in any way, at a disadvantage. It assumes the potential victim has more martial arts training than the potential attacker. These are all some pretty huge assumptions.

  357. #357 John C. Welch
    July 11, 2011
    And here we go. I said something that was not in perfect line with what you wanted to hear, but you have the magic word: Mansplaining. It’s the ultimate ad hominem.

    You said something ignorant, and we called you ignorant. And let’s face it — after spending so much time and effort protesting your inability to understand what we’re saying, you really don’t get to complain when we acknowledge that you’re as ignorant as you confess you are.

    I wasn’t protesting squat. I was asking someone what the deal is with that. Yes, I am ignorant as to the thinking behind it. So I did what rational people do in such cases. I asked the people who seem to know more about it than I to clarify it so that I might not be as ignorant.

    And yes, i actually DO get to complain when someone decides to treat me in a way I see as uncalled for. Don’t like it? TFB, I still get to complain just as any other human on the planet gets to say “Hold up a damned minute. You don’t have to agree with me, but the way you’re behaving towards me is bullshit.” You don’t have to agree with me, but I haven’t shit to you that’s even VAGUELY rude. I asked a question about something I admit to not getting and provided information that might show WHY I don’t get it. When someone dumped on me in a dismissive manner, I called bullshit on it, as I am doing on you now. You want to know why emotions get amped up so damned fast? This kind of crap. Okay, you disagree with my points. How the hell does treating someone like crap explain what you’re actually disagreeing about?

    It doesn’t, and if you’re about to tell me that the history of men treating women in the same manner justifies it, Ima call bullshit on that seven-year-old logic crap as well. Yes, men have a long, craptacular history of treating women like children. It’s bullshit. But the concept of NOW IT’S YOUR TURN doesn’t fix anything. It just perpetuates the problem, because *now* you have the “Well, fuck, it doesn’t matter, what *I* do, i’m going to be dumped on anyway, so fuck ‘em.” And then the other side does the same thing. < href="http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mohandasga107039.html">Congratulations, you just proved Gandhi’s point.

    Gee, I dunno, it’s such a deep unfathomable mystery…maybe it’s because so many women find themselves in situations where they really are helpless, or would be helpless if they were assaulted in said situations? That’s just one guess. Another guess is that NONE OF US are actually saying that women are always helpless everywhere; we’re saying it’s a little more complex than that.

    Ah yes. Such an excellent dialog technique. “I don’t agree with you, as far as I’m concerned, you’re stupid.”

    Awesome sauce.

    “you’re stupid”. I bet you’re a hoot in a meeting. “Well, I disagree with you here on these points, and have question about that point.” “You’re stupid if you don’t agree with me.” “Alrighty then.”

    However, if you were so damned crystal clear about not saying women are helpless everywhere, guess what? I wouldn’t have asked. Maybe, just maybe, you’re not as clear about it as you think, and you’re giving off a vibe or a meaning you don’t see. Maybe, just maybe, people who aren’t you might be picking up a subtext that you don’t intend, or weren’t aware of, and because they aren’t you, and view things with a different point of view, and from a different background and worldview, they’re going to see things differently.

    “You’re stupid”

    Yep. I guess I am.

  358. #358 John C. Welch
    July 11, 2011

    357:

    Marnie, I appreciate it, but this isn’t the place to discuss this. What is wanted here is something…that isn’t discussion about a complex problem with no magic solution, just a series of imperfect ones applied over time that may one day make things right. There’s one viewpoint that is acceptable here, and as I do not perfectly fit that viewpoint, it’s obvious that I am not welcome here. If you want to actually discuss this offline, where people aren’t lining up to call me names, jwelch@bynkii.com, and I’d love to.

    Thank you again for the decent treatment.

  359. #359 Greg Laden
    July 11, 2011

    John, I think you accidentally posted the entire internet into that comment. How about if you post a clean version of what you meant to post as a new comment, then I’ll delete that misfired missive! Thanks.

  360. #360 Stephanie Z
    July 11, 2011

    John, this is exactly the place to discuss this. For the record, it’s much less creepy to have the discussion out here than to get into an email discussion with someone who can’t handle having mansplaining pointed out to him. If you’re up to having your ideas criticized (which is what jennygadget did), stick around. You might even learn something.

    For example, I’m not particularly helpless. When I was talking with a friend about which commenters in these threads bothered me, it wasn’t the blatantly hostile who were the worst. It was the ones who hid it just a little bit. Why? The blatantly hostile ones would make it much simpler for me to show I was acting in self-defense.

    But still, I’m not particularly keen on hurting anyone, even emotionally, which is why I think posts like these are quite useful for guys. Don’t want to get hurt? Don’t put me in a situation where I’ll act defensively.

  361. #361 Stephanie Z
    July 11, 2011

    Also, John, the “You’re a good commenter; you’re a bad commenter” game of playing people against each other only works if those people actually care how you feel about them. First you have to show your approval is worth having.

  362. #362 Greg Laden
    July 11, 2011

    “…much simpler for me to show I was acting in self-defense.”

    That’s scary.

  363. #363 Stephanie Z
    July 11, 2011

    Scary that I’d defend myself or scary that I’d have to prove it?

  364. #364 Marnie
    July 11, 2011

    John, I’m happy to talk with you here. I’m not really looking to get into a private discourse with anyone, but thank you for the offer.

    I do think my comment was a valid response to your question. You seem to think that women are claiming to be helpless, they can be, in some cases, as can men and children and the elderly, and cops and navy seals and martial arts experts.

    This particular topic addresses rape or potential rape, but any risky situation in which one person’s behavior can be an indication of malicious intent, is a good analogy. Having martial arts training is a wonderful tool to avoid crime, but it’s not a panacea and it’s not the answer to other people’s bad behavior.

    Feeling as though you might find yourself in a situation that could escalate is frighting, I assume, for almost any reasonable human being. This happens to be one type of situation that overwhelmingly affects women and while unintentional, I am sure, it comes off as both patronizing and misogynistic, when men (the overwhelming perpetrators in these crimes) tell women (the overwhelming victims in these crimes) that they shouldn’t worry about the risk and that it’s their own fault if they cannot fight off the crime. I know of few other crimes for which people regularly make these sorts of statements.

    This is not to say that men cannot weigh in, offer their insight and make suggestions, but they should recognize their own privilege in doing so.

  365. #365 DuWayne
    July 11, 2011

    John, it isn’t the fact that you disagree that makes you “stupid,” or more accurately, willfully ignorant – it is the content of that disagreement. Your implications were disgusting – both the implication that women should learn to defend themselves, or take what comes and the implication that “unable to withstand a physical assault” = helplessness. Whether you actually believe teh former or not, it is certainly what your comment reeks of.

    What I find repulsive though, is the latter implication. I know a whole lot of people who simply can’t bring themselves to engage in violence – even the faux violence of learning how to fight. Indeed, my ability to engage in violence is extremely rare amongst the people I choose to associate with. While not all of them are so diametrically apposed to violence that they cannot bring themselves to learn, there are also those who simply don’t have the time. Personally, if I had to try to learn violence or any number of things now, it would be impossible. I am the only parent of an emotionally traumatized nine year old boy and a rather complicated three year old.

    Their inability to engage in violence does not, however, make them helpless. It means they are unprepared to deal with a sexual assault, or any other assault for that matter, but that is just one facet of their lives. Not only are most of them not helpless within other contexts of their lives, they positively thrive. Asserting that simply because they aren’t capable of violence, that they are helpless is insulting and paternalistic fucking garbage.

    The most egregious implication of your comment though, is what our society should look like. I am far more interested in preventing sexual assaults before they are even attempted, than I am in seeing more guns and people trained for violence on the streets. The biggest problem is that most people believe that this isn’t really possible, that we will always have these sorts of problems. That is a complete load of shit. It is obvious that we can, in point of fact, foster change – the improvements that have been made over the past hundred years make it abundantly clear that continuing to make things better is very possible.

    And that brings us full circle to this conversation. Because that is what this conversation is about – it’s purpose if you will. We aren’t talking about this, getting angry about this and digging our heals in about it because it is fun. Frankly, talking about sexual assault is fucking creepy and uncomfortable for me and if it is for me, I can’t help but assume it is rather moreso for the women involved in this discussion. We are talking about this, because we want to foster change and one of the ways to do it, is to talk about changes we can make, to make the world better for all of us.

    No one is suggesting that you cross the road, rather than walk past a lone woman. What we are suggesting is that you should be aware of what might be going on in her head and act accordingly – such as walking past, but giving a wide berth – or purposely making some noise, so she doesn’t think you’re trying to sneak up on her – or simply paying attention to her body language and taking that into account when you choose how to proceed. Mostly though, it is about understanding what a lot of women are feeling in certain situations and how you can avoid being an asshole within those contexts.

  366. #366 Raging Bee
    July 11, 2011

    Wow…incoherent defensiveness AND indiscriminate re-pasting of THE ENTIRE THREAD? That’s gotta be a trolling record of some sort. No wonder he wants to go offline — he still needs training wheels for the Internet. Watta maroon!

  367. #367 DuWayne
    July 11, 2011

    I would also add that I would much prefer that most people not carry guns, simply because they are afraid of some general threat of assault. Someone who has a more specific concern (ie. someone carrying things that are particularly valuable) and knows how to use a gun is a different story. But someone who is carrying because they are afraid of being attacked is extremely dangerous.

    Do you think that merely having a gun is going to dramatically reduce most people’s anxiety? At best it doesn’t change the baseline, often enough it actually contributes to heightened concern. People aren’t generally all that rational when they are afraid and can make very unfortunate decisions. People who carry guns for generalized concerns about being assaulted are just, if not more likely to be startled in certain contexts and because they have a gun, this can produce deadly results. They might brandish the weapon and accidentally shoot someone, or possibly even be shot themselves. Statistically speaking, it is far more likely that something bad will come of carrying that gun, than there is that the carrier will actually prevent an assault because they have it.

    ANd now I really must beg off, as I have two tests this afternoon.

  368. #368 Tom
    July 11, 2011

    John, you seem worried about not getting on an elevator with a woman alone because she might get uncomfortable. How about this… when you are alone on an elevator with a woman you don’t know, don’t ask her for sex. Why is that so complicated? Just be polite. And some more advice… don’t go behind her. Act like you are busy… read your papers; play with your iPhone; check your watch like you are in a hurry; don’t stare at her; don’t check her out. Or think of this… some day you might have a daughter. How would you like your daughter treated by a stranger on an elevator?

  369. #369 pteryxx
    July 11, 2011

    On self-defense: remember that male-on-male rape also happens, for instance in the military, and one reason it’s underreported is that men are ashamed to admit they didn’t fight off their attackers somehow.

    Most predators take measures to render their target less of a threat, whether by politeness and charm, situational maneuvering, bringing power differentials to bear, threats or weapons or whatever. I’m unconvinced that self-defense training itself is of any more utility than merely being willing to scream or run, or simply having stepped back from a slightly iffy situation. Often it just gets folded back into the victim-blaming narrative: if she had self-defense training, but still got raped, then it MUST have been consensual! sigh.

  370. #370 jennygadget
    July 11, 2011

    “I wouldn’t have asked.”

    I missed where you asked anything. I do believe you told me and other people here how we view ourselves. And gave nothing other than a long winded diatribe about how you think we should live our lives to back up your assertion.

    When I was talking with a friend about which commenters in these threads bothered me, it wasn’t the blatantly hostile who were the worst. It was the ones who hid it just a little bit. Why? The blatantly hostile ones would make it much simpler for me to show I was acting in self-defense.

    Yes. THIS. Which is why self-defense is largely an off-topic point for the kinds of scenarios we have been discussing in this thread and general internet slap flight. I mean, really, what the fuck is John suggesting – that Watson should have bloodied EG’s nose instead of using his behavior to try to spark a conversation about empathy and respect? That I should flash my gun at guys instead of them not leaving room for me on the sidewalk?

    And WORD on the way self-defense training tends to be used as an excuse to claim that she didn’t really say no. Which, again, is why “learn marital arts” is such a ridiculous suggestion.

    Escalating the situation is usually a really bad idea, self-defense wise, in the situations we are talking about. Requiring that women be the gatekeepers – that the focus still be on if we said no and if we said it loudly and forcefully enough – and not on if the guy is doing something wrong – does not make women safer.

    Bringing up the idea of taking a threatening guy down in a conversation that is largely about things like continuing to ask even after she has said no…all this does is suggest that the only things we are actually allowed to object to is straight up assault. Because you cannot possibly be suggesting with a straight face that I punch every guy who doesn’t immediately leave when I tell him I’m not interested.

    I mean, I can promise you that there are days when I really want to – but I don’t refrain from doing this because I am afraid or think that I am incapable of it.

    Disappearing or minimizing the other things we have a right to say no to does not encourage women to believe we are not helpless, all it does is teach us that we do not have a right to say no in the first place and therefore makes us more vulnerable. If we are constantly learning that we do not have the right to say no to the little things, how are we supposed to just turn off our conditioning and say no effectively when the big things come along? How does this not make it harder to err on the side of caution, or be willing to take risks and know we will get the empathy we need if it comes to that?

    Many serial rapists use all this to their advantage by manipulating women through our conditioning and public pressure to remain “nice” at all times; when people are willing to make a lot of excuses for such behavior (and jump on us for not rejecting men nicely enough), it becomes a really effective tool to use in isolating women and ensuring their silence. Which is why being obnoxiously persistent is evil even if you aren’t a rapist – you are still making women less safe by normalizing rapists’ tactics and making it harder for women to both recognize them and respond to them in a safe and effective manner.

    One last thing, regarding the Watson’s original topic of women’s participation at conferences: When the excuses we hear for EG’s behavior is not along the lines of “Watson is a celebrity and like many people with authority, is more likely to be believed, so why would he think he is being threatening?”, but rather “you know, EG is probably just a good guy who is clueless and what do you mean men always look like predators to women? and how do we know she is being completely honest about the whole thing anyway”…

    I can tell you that what *I* learn is that I had better damn well not find myself in the same situation Watson was, because it’s clear to me who will be believed and who will not if something goes down. This includes the “something going down” being his eyes being gouged out so that I can escape.

  371. #371 pteryxx
    July 11, 2011

    jennygadget: Yes, exactly this! Well spoken.

    Your post reminds me of the relevance of this:

    http://kateharding.net/2009/08/04/she-didn%E2%80%99t-fight-back-because-you-told-her-not-to/

    For anybody who has ever watched the gendered social interactions of women — watched a woman get browbeaten into accepting attention she doesn’t want, watched a woman get interrupted while speaking, watched a woman deny she is upset at being insulted in public, watched a woman get grabbed because of what she was wearing, watched a woman stop arguing — and said and done nothing, you never have the right to ever ask, “Why didn’t she fight back?”

    She didn’t fight back because you told her not to. Ever. Ever. You told her that was okay, and necessary, and right.

  372. #372 Sleazeweazel
    July 11, 2011

    I am a short male person who was socially inept as a teenager, as a result of which I was much abused by my peers. They called me the “Siamese Scientist”. Even dogs picked up on my social status. As a result I gained a loathing of dogs and groups of young men that I hold even to this day. As a teenager this attitude was crippling, but as I grew I became aware that I was abnormally strong and intelligent, much more so than my tormenters. The tide began to turn as I realized that they needed to be afraid of me and not the other way around. They just wanted to dominate me whereas I wanted eviscerate them. My body language changed and soon I could see the fear in their eyes as I walked boldly down the street with an evil grin. I still loathe dogs and teenagers, so it gives me great pleasure to observe that they instinctively understand that I want to kill and eat them! It has all been quite liberating. Now that I am no longer afraid I can afford to be Mr. Niceguy, pat the puppy on the head and even chat with the punk. Nobody has to be afraid of me unless I’m hungry and I don’t have to be afraid of them.

  373. #373 jennygadget
    July 11, 2011

    pteryxx – thanks :)

    I love that post! Although I think that bit is actually from Harriet’s:

    http://fugitivus.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/another-post-about-rape-3/

    People wonder why women don’t “fight back,” but they don’t wonder about it when women back down in arguments, are interrupted, purposefully lower and modulate their voices to express less emotion…

    And then, all of a sudden, when women are raped, all these natural and invisible social interactions become evidence that the woman wasn’t truly raped.

    There are a lot of specific kinds of comments that seem to be cropping up in most threads on this topic, but I think the one that drives me the most batty is when people respond the talk of fear by bringing up guns or martial arts.

    As if the issue was that women don’t know how to say no forcefully enough, not that guys like EG don’t listen until we meet whatever arbitrary level of rejection they have decided suits them. Or maybe they think the issue is that we are substituting little annoyances for big fears, rather than the fact that, on a daily basis and micro-level, the penalty for rejecting “too harshly” (or at all) is often higher than the penalty for not demanding autonomy and respect.

    Clearly, some of them think we are all too stupid and ignorant to have even considered that fighting back is an option, rather than us being fully aware that the reason we feel so fearful is in no small part because self-defense in the face of extreme violence is the only option that remains socially acceptable – that so many of our other defenses have been curtailed in favor of men not having to worry about being called on their shit.

    (That a non-zero percentage of the people bringing up self-defense go on to castigate women for not being nice enough when women point out they are acting like patronizing gits….)

  374. #374 Marnie
    July 11, 2011

    @Sleazeweazel

    Is it safe to assume from your user name and the sheer insanity of your post that you are just a troll or are you really proudly saying that you found being bullied traumatic so now you are not only a bully but you use non-verbal communication to intentionally intimidate people and that you have no compunction with acting out violently? Because you sound like you are trying to make a case that women have a legitimate reason to cautious of strange men as they may be just like you.

  375. #375 ParatrooperJJ
    July 13, 2011

    Sorry, if women are soo afraid of guys passing them on the sidewalk, they they should cross over.

  376. #376 Pollak
    July 14, 2011

    So what I’ve gathered from all of this is that benevolent sexism is a OK. Most of you seem to have some serious “Stranger Danger” issues.

  377. #377 Greg Laden
    July 14, 2011

    Pollak. No. There is only one issue here, but it has two parts:

    1) Many men do not have a clue what women deal with on a day to day basis; and 2) Of those men, many don’t want to be told about their cluelessness, so they resort to a handful of counter arguments which are so old and tired that we can predict them from a mile away.

  378. #378 Stephanie Z
    July 14, 2011

    Funny, what I’ve gathered is that we, as a society, still have a long way to go in our fight for reading comprehension.

  379. #379 jennygadget
    July 14, 2011

    I’m getting really increasingly annoyed with the claim that, by recognizing that EG was both an unknown and a potential danger, we must therefore be trying to say that he is a “jump out of the bushes” type of stranger/potential danger.

    If Watson had gone to his room and he had assaulted her there, it definitely would have been categorized as “acquaintance rape” and not “stranger rape.” I’m not so certain that it still wouldn’t have been “acquaintance rape” if he had assaulted her in the elevator, seeing as how they had both been at the same social gathering for hours.

    “Unknown” in terms of EG not knowing Watson well enough for what EG did to not be an asshole move is not the same “unknown” being referred to in those “most rapes are not stranger rapes” statistics. “Acquaintance rape” does not always equal “family member, coworker, close friend, or intimate partner.”

  380. #380 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    I’m a woman, and if a nice guy is on my side of the street, I want him there in case an attacker appears because that would be rational and helpful. I could use assistance fending him off. (Not that an attack by a stranger is likely. Most sexual assaults/violent crimes are committed by people the victim knows — like mine.)

    In any case, I don’t need special favors. I need people to obey the law and to treat me with respect. Men are not dogs, and I don’t view them as such. As a feminist and attorney, I find the word “chick” to be mildly offensive. But comparing men to dogs? Women and men alike should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings. In the case of an attack, a companion, mace, or self-defense training will help you, but a man crossing the street will not. Also, what are you going to to if there’s a lone, weak, vulnerable, helpless, frightened, irrational woman on both sides of the street? Walk in the middle of the road? If you want to be considerate, here’s advice you can actually follow: when you pass a woman, try to give her as much room as possible. Or don’t. It’s up to you.

    In any case, I’m not afraid of men. Please quit speaking on my behalf or acting like I need to be “educated” about women’s issues. Many, if not most, educated women feel like me. Also, unlike Watson, I’ve actually studied feminism. And I don’t need a false sense of security. I’m OK with facing reality. Further, don’t pretend to know how I feel about being sexually assaulted or raped. You couldn’t possibly. At least Dawkins can speak to the issue because he’s experienced sexual abuse himself. As far as surviving abuse, he is my role model because he doesn’t act like a victim. As far as interpersonal relations, he’s not. No one deserves to be attacked, not even verbally. EVER.

    To conclude my hasty rant, while Watson is free to feel what she feels and speak about it, her erroneous perception of threat does not entitle her to launch character attacks against others, like Dawkins or Stef. Calling Stef a misogyny enabler and “anti-woman” was wrong and possibly actionable. And men don’t need to change their behavior just because Rebecca cries “sexism” with no evidence other than one inapplicable anecdote and some troll-spam. A request for coffee and anonymous YouTube threats are not examples of sexism in the atheist community.

    Sexism: Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.

    That’s what you’re all engaging in right now. Unintentional, sexism with noble, but misguided intent. Don’t buy the snake oil. It won’t solve the problem.

  381. #381 Raging Bee
    July 14, 2011

    Please quit speaking on my behalf or acting like I need to be “educated” about women’s issues. Many, if not most, educated women feel like me.

    So…we can’t speak on your behalf, but you get to speak on behalf of “many, if not most, educated women?” Sorry, not buying it.

    At least Dawkins can speak to the issue because he’s experienced sexual abuse himself.

    I might respect that experience of his, if he had actually said something intelligent and respectful on the occasion. Instead, he sounded like just another clueless, indifferent guy refusing to understand why some chick was getting all emotional about something he didn’t care about. He may very well be a far better man than that, but he should have shown it then — it wouldn’t have been that hard.

  382. #382 Stephanie Z
    July 14, 2011

    Congratulations, bluharmony. With the many/most educated women crack, you’ve just managed to insert a nasty little piece of classism into an already contentious discussion. As a highly educated survivor of sexual assault I ask that you never try to speak for me on any topic ever.

    That you want and are able to treat your assault as something that only affected your life while it was happening is just fine. More power to you. Using that to look down on women in different situations is gross.

    As for guys walking on the street, feel free to call all the good ones over to walk by you. I’m certain someone of your education will have zero difficulty figuring out which ones they are.

  383. #383 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    Actually, it’s not classism. I took several random polls of people I know. They’re educated, so that’s where my non-scientific sample comes from. And obviously you didn’t even understand my point that having a non-violent man on your side of the street might protect you from a real attacker. If he crosses the street, then you’re on your own. A rapist won’t cross. Which scares you more the threat of attack or an actual attack? If someone is not educated on this issue, then it would be in their best interest to be educated. The odds of being attacked by a stranger are relatively low, depending somewhat on location. In comparison, the odds of getting in a car accident are extremely high. I assume you don’t ride in cars then? Because in could be in Schrodingers car. It’s interesting that you immediately resort to personal insults. It says a lot about the point you’re trying to make.

  384. #384 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    @Ragin Bee: No, I’m only speaking on my own behalf, and obviously, of those who agree with me. Many are choosing to remain silent. I no longer care. Viewing women as pathetic weaklings is not my idea of equal rights. Anyway, everyone gets to speak on their own behalf, and argue the positions that they think are correct. That’s how a discussion works.

  385. #385 Raging Bee
    July 14, 2011

    bluharmony: she wasn’t making personal insults; she was pointing out that you don’t get to speak on her behalf, just as you assert that no one here gets to speak on yours. You started with a reasonable point of view, but now it’s being poisoned by a visible touch of hypocricy.

  386. #386 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    It’s interesting that I’m accused of classism when the OP refers to poor white people as “trash.”

  387. #387 Stephanie Z
    July 14, 2011

    I understood it, bluharmony. I thought it was silly. It’s predicated on the idea that a guy who is thoughtful enough to cross the street in order to reduce your stress won’t cross the street in order to deal with an actual threat to you.

    Also, you didn’t speak for the educated women you know and would ask about this topic by saying they agreed with whatever wording you presented them. You spoke for educated women. You generalized from your tiny sample to educated women as a whole. Your basis for this is…?

  388. #388 Raging Bee
    July 14, 2011

    Viewing women as pathetic weaklings is not my idea of equal rights.

    So in your opinion, showing respect for a woman’s dignity or safety concerns is “Viewing women as pathetic weaklings?”

    RW certainly wasn’t acting pathetic or weak when she refused the inappropriate advances of a creepy guy; nor when she publicly criticized such behavior. Nor do I recall any of her supporters here calling her pathetic or weak.

    Speaking only for myself here, my main concern isn’t with “Viewing women as pathetic weaklings;” it’s with people who view assertive women as man-hating ball-breaking bitches who hate all men and despise all acts of kindness from men.

  389. #389 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    @Raging Bee: You’re right. But like everyone else, I feel passionately about this issue and hurt by what’s going on. I never said that my experiences weren’t painful or traumatic. I’m just pointing out that the bit of chivalry suggested here is counterproductive. Giving a woman some space on the sidewalk would be better than crossing. Also, I would never call another human being “gross.” When women in the atheist community try to “shame” each other for dissenting opinions, it’s as disappointing to me as the Dawkins response to Rebecca was to you. I also didn’t like his dismissive tone, but given his experience of actual molestation, I can understand.

  390. #390 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    I love acts of kindness from men. I am not strong and I wish I were more assertive. Where are you getting your information from? Thin air? When did I say that Rebecca was weak? I think she’s much stronger than I am. When did I say she couldn’t speak out? She could and she did. I take issue with her words about Stef and Dawkins only, not the fact that she shared an anecdote about some guy. Calling people names and accusing them of misogyny… is not kind. And her choice of forum was, perhaps, not the best.

  391. #391 Raging Bee
    July 14, 2011

    I’m just pointing out that the bit of chivalry suggested here is counterproductive. Giving a woman some space on the sidewalk would be better than crossing.

    With this one minor point, I kind of agree. It’s probably not what I would do in the situations discussed here. But I’m sure an educated person like yourself could have made that point without all the additional rubbish about who speaks for whom and “viewing women as pathetic weaklings.”

    I also didn’t like his dismissive tone, but given his experience of actual molestation, I can understand.

    So if you were molested, it’s okay to be an asshole to people who have done you no wrong? Maybe it’s just me, but that seems like the wrong lesson to draw from the wrongs done you in early life.

    Besides, does the fact that Dawkins was molested really have ANYTHING to do with his reaction to a public statement by a fellow atheist? Personally, I don’t see the connection. Is there really a connection, or is that just an excuse thrown out by Dawkins’ supporters after the fact?

  392. #392 Raging Bee
    July 14, 2011

    I love acts of kindness from men. I am not strong and I wish I were more assertive. Where are you getting your information from? Thin air? When did I say that Rebecca was weak?

    Okay…so where, exactly, DID your bit about “viewing women as pathetic weaklings” come from? You’re the one who brought that phrase into this thread; you explain it.

  393. #393 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    @Stephanie: Actually, I know of a man who was unable to help a woman on the other side of the street because he crossed, as you advise. His name and that whole discussion is on my FB page, but it’s anecdotal. Then again, so is the origin of this debate. Anyway, in an attack, seconds can make the difference between life or death. And you’re right. I have just a tiny sample of women. But who says that you have a larger one? When most of the figureheads in the movement — meaning the men — and a prominent personality, like Rebecca are doing the talking, it’s difficult to speak up against them. Again, look at what happened to Stef when she did. In fact, look at the way I was attacked in response to what I actually said. Just consider it. There are many approaches to feminism. Yours is not wrong. Rebecca’s is not wrong. Stef’s is not wrong. And mine is not wrong. There’s room for all of us. Wasn’t this supposed to be about getting women to participate in the community? If so, then why ridicule them (or, as Rebecca did in her Dublin speech, tell them how awful it is and how all you get is hate mail)? Why don’t we join heads and try to figure out how to prevent some of the worst cases of abuse at the hands of those we know? If safety and fear are so prevalent, maybe men can do something to actively help rather than just look less threatening. It’s obvious that they want to.

  394. #394 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    @Raging Bee: Men are crossing the street because they see us as weaker and in fear. (I was using hyperbole.) Advice is given by men on our behalf. Men are telling other men how to treat us. Lots of men are doing this. So are we or aren’t weak and in fear? Because if we’re not, then perhaps we don’t need to be protected from nonexistent threats, and men should try to help ones with the real ones instead. I believe this is possible. But in any case, each voice is valuable. Rebecca’s. Stef’s. Rose’s. Dawkins’. Yours.

  395. #395 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    Also, this is just speculation, but Rebecca insulted Dawkins at the Dublin speech, and I think that might be why he reacted so brashly. About halfway through her talk on the panel, she brought up Bill Maher and what an idiot he was. Maher got the Dawkins award. I can’t imagine Dawkins liked hearing that, and really, it had nothing to do with her (changed) subject — sexism (by email or on YouTube). The original speech was supposed to be about getting more people to participate, and that’s what the other panel members, including Dawkins, spoke about. He also seemed irritated by her switch. Watch the speech if you haven’t, it’s available.

    OK. I’ve gone way off-topic now, and I’ll leave you to yourselves. Greg can delete my posts or not, as he pleases.

  396. #396 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    Final post, I promise. Responding to: “Besides, does the fact that Dawkins was molested really have ANYTHING to do with his reaction to a public statement by a fellow atheist.”

    The crux of the complaint against Dawkins is that he can’t understand how a victim of sexual abuse feels. But he was sexually abused, so he understands. Rebecca, on the other hand, experienced no abuse, as far as I know, just “discomfort.” His point, as rudely as he stated it, was that the fuss over a nonexistent threat, even if real to the person experiencing it, trivializes and takes attention away from actual abuse. That abuse is going on right now, as we speak. In Muslim countries and in the USA, and so often, with children. Maybe behind out backs, at this very moment. And no one is immune, not even men.

    Besides, I never said I liked the way Dawkins treated Rebecca. In fact, the only good behavior I’ve seen in this whole mess has been from Stef, whose opinion was ridiculed and marginalized (and Rose, though she’s a very minor player). I don’t even consider my own behavior good. I wish I could have worded things more thoughtfully and less abrasively. In the end, I hope Dawkins apologizes to Rebecca at TAM and vice versa. Dawkins for his reaction to Rebecca’s video and Rebecca, for her reaction to Dawkins’ reaction. It was unnecessary. He said he wanted to understand and asked for people to explain. Sophie Hirschfield wrote the best, most patient, explanation (on SheThought); but who knows if he’ll ever read it.

  397. #397 Raging Bee
    July 14, 2011

    AIUI, first RW mentioned the creepy elevator guy; then Dawkins insulted her by unnecessarily belittling her concerns; and RW didn’t say anything bad about Dawkins until after that. In fact, RW had previously spoken of Dawkins as a friend. Unless I’m missing something, it was Dawkins who started the insults, and Dawkins who, in at least two subsequent statements, refused to acknowledge or understand what everyone was so upset about.

    In all honesty, the original public comment, about the EG, weren’t about Dawkins at all. He didn’t have to say ANYTHING, because the original controversy didn’t concern him at all. It’s not like anyone was blaming Dawkins for the EG incident.

  398. #398 Stephanie Z
    July 14, 2011

    bluharmony, I’ve had discussions with Greg about the use of classist language. I get what he’s trying to do in recoupling terms with behavior instead of economic status, although this thread is one of the reasons I think his effort is doomed.

    You, however, are looking at a sample of women like you in many ways, comparing their responses to those of a fair number of other women, and deciding that education makes the difference. You haven’t even demonstrated the imagination to figure out that women of lower SES actually are more vulnerable (by virtue of not being protected by the privileges of class), making any observed difference in fear rational instead of a reason to sneer.

    As for Stef, her voice as an individual is on par with anybody else’s. Her voice as a leader of a student group, writing on the group’s blog, carries a hell of a lot more weight. Thus, her facile dismissal of the most common complaint of women who have left atheist groups deserves and requires scrutiny and consequences.

    And if Dawkins is going to step up to smack everybody who’s called Maher an idiot in a very public venue, he’ll quickly find he has no one left to work with in the atheist movement.

  399. #399 Greg Laden
    July 14, 2011

    bluharmony: Why would I delete your comments?

    Regarding [395]: Nice try, but that is not a way to get me to quiet down, to not be a feminist, and to not support my allies! And, that is a rather absurd way of looking at how conversations about sexism should operate. From what you are saying, the only possible way that a man can be involved in a conversation about society is to shut up. While I agree that 90% of the time that may be a good idea, it is also probably a good idea for women about 55% of the time, and the fact remains that we have to have this conversation.

    [384] “The odds of being attacked by a stranger are relatively low, depending somewhat on location. In comparison, the odds of getting in a car accident are extremely high”

    OMG.

  400. #400 Marnie
    July 14, 2011

    @ bluharmony
    You are making a few of the same mistakes that have been repeated throughout.

    Greg (though he is free to correct me if I’m wrong) did not call men dogs any more than he called women Greg Ladens. He was using an analogy to try to paint a picture that someone could relate to, that had none of the challenges of male privilege nor the discomfort of discussing sexual assault. To say that Greg was referring to men as dogs the way people casually throw out “chick” is to misunderstand the post.

    Secondly, the only people calling women helpless or pulling out chivalry are (up until your post) men and they do so mistakenly. Women are not helpless, but there is, as you well know from experience and as I know from experience and as several other women in this thread know from experience, a real risk of sexual assault. Women do need to be aware of those risks and avoid situations that may be risky. This is not helplessness, this is avoiding a shit situation before it happens instead of trying to escape it if it does. I don’t care how kickass and strong I am, I don’t care how easy it might be to escape the situation if I can avoid someone trying to assault me, that is ideal.

    Talking about the one guy who would have staved off an assault but he was politely on the other side of the road is like talking about the one guy who would have survived his car accident if he had NOT been wearing his seat belt. Yes, there is some remote chance that any person who might be able bodied and willing to intercept an attack, might be unable to do so from the other side of the street, but a woman is far more at risk when she is alone with someone than when there are other people around, so simply being near would generally be a deterrent to a completely random attack and that person would still be close enough to call the cops, get a description of the perpetrator and determine where said perpetrator had gone.

    And back to that chivalry thing. I personally hope that no man, ever again, feels obliged to be chivalrous. I think you should be polite because you want to be a good person. Courtesy or manners or whatever you whatever you want to call it is recognizing what will make others comfortable and endeavoring to do so, as far as it takes not to put yourself at risk or discomfort. This may vary by situation, location and individual. Recognizing that women are vigilant of certain risky situations that are less risky to men is a matter of courtesy not some antiquated rule of chivalry. No one is demanding men cross the street or wait for elevators. But just as it makes you a nicer person to be around, if you know your host would like you to take your shoes off before entering and you do so, you will be a nicer person to be around if you are a man and you don’t plow past her when she’s walking alone on a dark street.

  401. #401 bluharmony
    July 15, 2011

    @Stephanie – I’m a first generation Russian-Jewish immigrant who grew up in communist Russia, and then the apartment projects in New York (for the first year of my life in America). I’ve never met anyone in my family other than my mother; almost everyone was killed during WWII, and my father chose not to participate in my life. Also, for the last year or so I’ve been mostly too ill to work. My parents were classical musicians, but at this point, other than education, I’m not sure what privilege I have. People aren’t always neatly categorized. So I’m sorry you think so little of my imagination, but I didn’t have to use it, I’ve lived it. Also, I’ve spent five years in superior court and two at the court of appeals dealing with sexual assault crimes, so I do know a little about the subject. Why do you keep making unwarranted assumptions?

    While I agree that Stef’s viewpoint must be considered and scrutinized along with everyone else’s, the way Rebecca chose to do it was an abuse of privilege. The privilege of fame. The privilege of being a keynote speaker in that environment. (I love how the privilege argument can be used for just about anything.) During her panel discussion in Dublin, Rebecca didn’t address the given topic because she wanted to respond to something in a previous panel, and said she had insufficient time during the Q&A. Then just a short while later, she suggested that Stef should have responded in the Q&A at the CFI talk. Stef did not, but she did write a detailed account of what it was like being in the audience for the entire presentation after being called anti-woman and a rape-enabler. (There was no rape.) The point here is that what Rebecca did was unprofessional and insensitive. If she had something to teach, then calling someone names isn’t the way to do it. She didn’t criticize or scrutinize Stef’s point of view or feminist ideas, but dismissed them “because they’re not feminism 101.” Well no, they’re not, they’re the basic principles of liberal feminism. And anyway, didn’t this whole mess start with someone acting insensitive to Rebecca’s feelings? Can’t we all be a little nicer to each other? Is a fractured atheist community really the best place to mandate radical feminist views?

    Also, the silent public reaction to this incident is interesting. Rose’s YouTube video criticizing Rebecca’s position is “liked” by the vast majority of those who voted. Rebecca’s original account of her experience with EG is “disliked” by the vast majority. Does this tell us something? I don’t think YouTube comments are an accurate indication of what everyone is thinking, but they do reflect the feelings of the target audience. In any case, Rebecca lost my respect, and not because of the elevator situation. I can’t deny her feelings even if mine would be different. She lost my respect because of the way she handled criticism — with utter insensitivity, the exact opposite of how she wants to be treated herself. Sometimes we have to think not only about women’s rights, but human rights. Humanism.

    A useless fact: The hotel that hosted the convention in Dublin was only 4 stories high, though no one knows which floor EG was on and which floor Rebecca was on. They must have been talking or in close proximity at the bar for Rebecca to tell him that she was tired and wanted to go to bed. But just because she said something, doesn’t mean he heard unless he acknowledged it. So, does in matter when they started talking? Does his intent matter? Does it matter how long they were in the elevator? If he was going to assault her in a crowded hotel during a four-minute ride, would he ask her to go to his room for coffee? I’m not excusing his clumsy, socially awkward actions, but I can’t judge someone based on such a vague anecdote. In any case, I think he probably learned his lesson from all this. At least I hope so.

    @Greg If I add up your percentages, then we end up talking OVER each other. That’s not a good use of time. Anyway the problem I had was with a male voice speaking for me, stating what women want. I never told anyone to shut up, in fact, I wanted to make sure all voices were heard. And what I said was that I don’t want men running from me when I walk down the street, especially if they’re the sort of men who are willing to do so. Men are just as entitled to be there as I am. Sorry if the thought of that upsets you, but I’m not scared of most strangers and try to avoid situations that may be dangerous when possible.

    Clearly OMG is not an argument, and I think you failed to realize that I was being sarcastic. You can’t go through life being afraid of everything that can happen, especially when the odds of it happening are low. The risk of stranger rape is low. The risk of acquaintance rape is high. Risk of spousal rate is highest of all, so I assume one should never get in an elevator with one’s spouse. (Sarcasm again.)

    @Raging Bee I think Dawkins resents the conflation of atheism with Rebecca’s brand of radical feminism. Many are concerned about this. And you’re absolutely right, he didn’t need to say a thing and shouldn’t have. Furthermore, he at least wrong on at least two counts: 1. elevators are not always safe or easy to escape from. Rapes have occurred in elevators; 2. You can’t invalidate someone’s feelings with argument.

    Anyway, I got it. The fact that I was raped and assaulted doesn’t count because I’m privileged and subscribe to liberal feminism as opposed to radical feminism. Therefore, I’m not rational and not a good atheist. You guys sure know how to make a woman feel welcome.

    BTW, sexism does exist in the atheist/skepticism movement, but Rebecca can’t seem to figure out where it is. I think the Friendly Atheist hit the nail on the head though. Or at least one of them.

  402. #402 TK
    July 15, 2011

    I have to say, as a atheist, that I completely agree with these feminists advice.

    I simply agree for a completely different reason.

    Menz need to understand that women are becoming even more dangerous in our feminist society.

    Menz, you should never trust a woman.

    Women commit more child abuse and rape than men. They commit more DV against men than men do against women, this is especially true in lesbian relationships.

    Women can simply destroy a man with a false allegation. Or she can play “let’s you and him fight” and get a bigger male to beat you up.

    Never trust a woman. When you are out and they are around, go the other way. Your life may actually depend on you crossing the street or not taking that elevator or not working late in a office with another lonely woman.

    Several years back I was leaving a bar, this was New Years Eve, and it was late. It was in part of the grundgy and hip part of the old city. This young woman came up to me and asked if I would give her a ride. I was feeling generous and felt sad for her. She was either homeless or a meth head or both.

    As soon as she got into the car she pulled a small little knife on me. I could have disarmed her but all the years of, “don’t hurt women…don’t hit women..etc” that were conditioned into me sprang forward into my mind.

    I literally froze up. She grabbed a few handfuls of change from a pile in my console and I drifted back to reality and yelled at her and she ran off. I could have been stabbed or ended up like Mr. Bobbit.

    Or I could have ended up like two of my friends a few years later.

    They were leaving the bar and saw a woman in distress. One was a guy and the other a girl and they pulled over to help her. Then three guys jumped out and carjacked and kidnapped them. She was the decoy and apparently put together the plan, or so they would testify.

    They tortured and beat and raped both of them. They then poured bleach down their throats and set them on fire and dumped their bodies by the railroad track. The woman got 20 yrs in jail and the men got life sentences.

    If I heard a woman being beaten up or crying for help or yelling that she was being raped, I would not help her and I would walk the other way. You simply can’t trust women or men these days.

    You guys need to listen to these feminists and literally never talk to women or interact with women, especially western women. Even your mothers/sisters/daughters/gfs/wives/exs/classmates/etc will throw you under the bus for no reason what so ever. They will rape you or make a false rape claim against you or extort money out of you or get another man to beat you up etc.

    DO NOT TRUST THEM! WALK THE OTHER WAY! ENSURE YOUR SAFETY AND SANITY AND LIFESTYLE!

    It is truly fucked up when we live in a society where just being friendly with a female co-worker can get you fired for sexual harassment (I have seen it happen to a black friend of mine, she was white). It is truly sick when a female teacher can rape young boys and spend less time in jail/prison than some guy caught with more than a half ounce of weed. It is truly sick when a man can be insinuated to be a rapist and called a creep when all he did was ask a woman for coffee and then leave when she said no. She could have had him arrested under a false allegation of rape.

    Everyday men are freed by the Innocence project for false rape claims. Protect yourselves guys. Any woman in the west can destroy your life at anytime by just muttering a few lies.

  403. #403 Stephanie Z
    July 15, 2011

    bluharmony, there you go treating Stef like a private individual again. She isn’t in this case. She is a leader of her organization. Give her the full credit and responsibility that comes with her position. Does it suck to take some of the hits that leaders take? Yes, it sucks. But this was leadership training. Everybody there got to find out how they’d been screwing things up. Many of them identified themselves, based on reports I’ve heard from at least one workshop. While yes, there should probably be a better way to address failures of leadership in the movement, we haven’t reached that point yet.

    As for assumptions about your ignorance on the extra challenges facing women of lower SES with less education, I thought it was the generous choice. Being more of a post-colonial feminist myself, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people in a position to know better who fail to acknowledge that the hand you’re dealt has a lot to do with how you make it (or don’t) and nothing to do with whether you’re worthy of attention or consideration.

  404. #404 Marnie
    July 15, 2011

    @TK / 403

    My favorite mansplainers are the ones willing to make up statistics and anecdotes, and accuse people of saying something completely outlandish, like you should never ever help someone in need, attribute it all to feminism and then be sure to put in a men’s rights plug at the end. Awesome. You are like a mansplain-bot-6000.

  405. #405 asdf
    July 15, 2011

    This whole debacle was a chance for people to showcase their misandry. This is a good example. Men as dogs, the right to assault men, and that old chestnut: all men could be rapists. It’s pathetic to see otherwise smart people rush to flaunt their bigotry for an out of fashion minority.

  406. #406 ii
    July 15, 2011

    Dear Black Person,
    Can’t you understand that some white people might be intimitated when passing you on the street? That their heart might quicken just a bit and anxiety turn up just a notch? You should be courteous and cross the street when you see a white person walking on the sidewalk, because you don’t know of you might be causing them stress.
    Signed,
    A white person who understands not all black people are criminals

  407. #407 FascistOrigami
    July 15, 2011

    I tend to agree with TrollKing, though with slightly fewer absolutes.

    Here’s why I don’t take women seriously when they say they are “scared”. I had a neighbor, a woman in her late 20s or early 30s, who within a couple of weeks of moving in announced that she was “scared” by my letting my dogs out in my yard at night. And no, she was not frightened of my mid-sized dogs, “scared” was clearly a code-word for “stop being rapey you creepy strange man”. Now, she may have had no way of knowing that I am a gay man and could not be less interested in her if she was a canine herself, but it takes a special sense of entitlement to presume to tell another adult what they may or may not do in their own yard.

    Many women are so fearful that they would have us in a totalitarian police state dictating the minute details of behavior in the most trivial of situations, and many other women use the appearance of their vulnerability to manipulate others (usually men). I would not enable this behavior, except that men ignore it at their own peril.

    I’m glad I’m gay, as I have zero incentive to put myself needlessly at risk.
    I avoid women like rattlesnakes, especially those under 30.

  408. #408 Marnie
    July 15, 2011

    @asdf / ii presumably the same keyboard pounding person making the same silly arguments that have been debunked throughout these comments.

    To your second comment:

    Dear person of color,
    Don’t worry, there’s no more racism anywhere, your claim that there is makes me feel bad about myself so you should stop acknowledging it. Also, asking me to be respectful of your culture, history, situation or anything else is asking me to give up some of my privilege and that is like oppressing me and I know you don’t know about oppression because there is no more racism.
    All the best,
    Middle class white person

  409. #409 FascistOrigami
    July 15, 2011

    @Marnie/405: My favorite feminists are the ones who complain about “mansplaining” (“Don’t be mad at me because your lived experience contradicts my half-assed conjecture”, as one meme so eloquently puts it) while discounting the lived experience of any man.

  410. #410 ii
    July 15, 2011

    The problem with that is there’s a huge difference between acknowledgement of discrimination and the active discrimination you’re arguing for. You’re not asking for an end to sexism – you’re asking for your right to be sexist. Two two aren’t even comparable, and the one I posted is relevant to the topic at hand.

    Also don’t know who the other guy is – I’m just reposting a comment from reddit.

  411. #411 Matt
    July 15, 2011

    How to handle bitch behavior: http://goo.gl/obiC

  412. #412 Marnie
    July 15, 2011

    @ii
    No, I’m not asking for sexism. I don’t expect any man to go out of his way for me. I don’t think it should be a rule or a law. I am saying that I have a risk to face that men generally do not. I am cautious of that in the same way that you prefer to park your car in a brightly lit well traveled area instead of a dark secluded spot. It’s not about anyone being put out, it’s about acknowledging a disparity in general safety.

    So when a man tells me I should not worry about the risk of assault when I have been assaulted by men and held against my will in a confined spot, it smacks of privilege (mansplaining, if you will) on the man’s part. When I bring up that I am aware of that risk and I’m accused of being sexist despite the fact that I am infinitely more likely to be raped by a man than a woman. I don’t know how else to explain how patronizing (mansplainy) that sounds. I appreciate that there are many man many wonderful, kind, good men in the is world who mean me no harm. There are also many many kind wonderful people who are not trying to steal my pin number. I am still going to avoid putting myself in a situation that could allow a man to corner me and I’m still going to shield my keypad when I enter a pin while someone is close by me.

    If that person has the decency to stand a comfortable distance away while I enter my pin number, I am less inclined to worry and need to take fewer measures. I haven’t told them they have to, but damn, it is courteous. The same with everything said here.

    I don’t live in fear of men. I am simply aware of what can be a more risky situation and what is a less risky situation. If someone has the thoughtfulness to help avoid a situation that could be perceived as more risky, I appreciate that, but I don’t expect it. I don’t see that as sexist.

  413. #413 TWR
    July 15, 2011

    Why is this bigoted, third-rate demagoguery posted on a website called “scienceblogs.com” anyway? There’s nothing scientific to be seen here. Just the same old feminist religious bigotry that we’ve seen for the last four decades. Yes, even Richard Dawkins has an inkling of what feminism has become, despite having to constantly kowtow to its adherents since it has basically become the establishment itself.

    The core of this debacle is that you want to criminalize (ostensibly unattractive) men approaching women. Normal courtship behavior? Well this man must be a rapist, despite not having raped her or having barred her exit from the elevator or really done anything that an actual rapist would have done.

    Want to talk about privilege and entitlement, want to talk about who’s in the wrong? Look at yourselves.

  414. #414 Don Stone
    July 15, 2011

    I assume it equally acceptable to all the women here to assume all black men I see are hardened criminals and that all arabs are suicide bombers and should be treated as such.

  415. #415 Raging Bee
    July 15, 2011

    During her panel discussion in Dublin, Rebecca didn’t address the given topic because she wanted to respond to something in a previous panel, and said she had insufficient time during the Q&A.

    That dispute is pretty much a separate issue from what was originally being discussed here. Why are you changing the subject — because you’re still looking for an excuse to paint RW as the bad guy, after failing to do so over the EG incident?

    I don’t think YouTube comments are an accurate indication of what everyone is thinking, but they do reflect the feelings of the target audience.

    Make up your mind — are YouTube comments representative of some (unspecified) group’s opinion, or are they not? You seem to be trying to have it both ways.

    @Raging Bee I think Dawkins resents the conflation of atheism with Rebecca’s brand of radical feminism.

    And what “brand” of “radical feminism” is that, exactly? By what observed characteristics do you judge RW a “radical feminist?” (Oh, and did Dawkins criticize RW’s “brand of radical feminism” before the EG incident?)

    Is a fractured atheist community really the best place to mandate radical feminist views?

    Who’s doing the fracturing, RW or Dawkins? And who, exactly, is “mandating” what “radical feminist views,” exactly?

  416. #416 Raging Bee
    July 15, 2011

    Well, I see we have another little wavelet of concern-trolls from the special-ed branch of the Men’s Movement, looking for a place to spout the same tired talking-points and voice the same old pet peeves without regard to what’s already been said here. Since they’re clearly not bothering with us, there’s no reason for us to bother with them.

  417. #417 bluharmony
    July 15, 2011

    @Stephanie. I hope you know that your constant use of ad hominem attacks belies the intellectual poverty of your position and says a lot about you as a person. Cut it out. Focus on the argument (if you have one). Or is everything you think right and everything else “mansplaining”? Good to be so sure of yourself then, because I’m not. Skepticism is about always allowing for the possibility that you’re wrong.

    Let me repeat that, since I think a lot of people here just don’t get it. Skepticism is about always allowing for the possibility that you’re wrong. That’s what attracted me to skepticism. Not radical feminist dogma.

    Who said Stef shouldn’t have been confronted? Rebecca should have made an argument for her point. But she couldn’t because she apparently didn’t have one. Other students made the point for Rebecca in Stef’s blog. (Isn’t it sad when those in attendance know more than the speaker?) The point is that the world is more dangerous for women, especially when it comes to sexual assault. Most women are physically weaker, and all are biologically different. And some women are constantly in fear or on guard because of it. In America alone, one in three women will be raped in her lifetime. We haven’t made it to equality yet, and many of us aren’t even sure we want it. That’s why the feminist movement, in general, has stalled. But instead of speaking rationally, Rebecca chose to call Stef names. Her behavior was irresponsible, vindictive, and cast all feminists and activists in a bad light.

    The greatest privilege in the country is money. And if we want to address greater social ills such as crime and poverty, we need to do it through different avenues such as better social programs, better education, real health care reform, and equality-enforcing legislation. This is not strictly a women’s issue, and it involves much higher taxation of the wealthy and general economic overhaul. It also involves many foreign policy changes that go way beyond the scope of this ridiculous argument. And in a safer, better world that we should all be working toward, there will be less need for religion. That’s the way to win over the religious. Tempt them with a better future. Be a good role model. Listen to each other. Learn to help the weaker. Encourage dissenting voices.

    Men can cross the street if they want to. No one’s stopping them. That won’t protect anyone from sexual assault or make the world safer. It won’t help the plight of the poor. But it will make a lot of men angry that women are demanding something so irrational. What’s next? Asking men to walk around blindfolded so that they’re never tempted? Putting gags in their mouths unless they’re parroting what Rebecca says? Anyway, if you want to live in a world of false security, dogma, and nonsense, I’d like to suggest religion. Because what you’re asking for right now is for men to fool you into thinking that you’re safe. That’s pretty much how religion works. It would be a good fit.

  418. #418 bluharmony
    July 15, 2011

    @Marnie. I missed your post until now, but I really liked it. I think you make a good argument. I’m not sure I agree, but it’s something to consider. Thank you so much for not insulting me!

  419. #419 Rick
    July 15, 2011

    So basically, we’re supposed to do what feminism is supposedly against: treat women as patronizingly as possible. Sure, if you want to be treated like a child, I can do that. But I damn sure won’t treat you like an equal. Everyone has fears, I get that. But if you insist that your fears supercede another person’s rights to go somewhere and do something that you don’t like, I’ll tell you right now, equal to equal: go fuck yourself, precious snowflake. You don’t have the right to not feel uncomfortable, no matter what your bullshit dogma tells you.

  420. #420 Raging Bee
    July 15, 2011

    bluharmony: I just reread Stephanie’s last two comments, and there were no “ad-hominem attacks” in either of them. Zero. She may be wrong in some or all of her facts or logic (or not), but your responses to her comments lack credibility because you’re ignoring her actual points and making false accusations instead.

    Let me repeat that, since I think a lot of people here just don’t get it. Skepticism is about always allowing for the possibility that you’re wrong.

    Yes, we get that. It’s just that you have not actually proven us wrong. Do you get that?

  421. #421 il128
    July 15, 2011

    Reall! Why can’t black people understand this! Oh wait…

  422. #422 bluharmony
    July 15, 2011

    @Raging Bee. I wasn’t referring to YouTube comments, but statistics. In any case, YouTube response is obviously some measure of audience reaction, but you can’t conclude that those doing the commenting are atheists unless you personally know them (or their work).

    Neither Rebecca nor Dawkins were right to act as they did. Being nasty doesn’t make an argument better.

    This is Rebecca’s feminist dogma, since it’s what she links to in her blog: http://tinyurl.com/42v2fe. But apparently she doesn’t understand the first concept discussed on that page — the difference between sexual attraction and sexual objectification. She accuses Stef of being ignorant of this, when Stef actually defines it correctly: http://tinyurl.com/3rktglt. In fact, that’s Stef’s whole point. http://tinyurl.com/3sf2o72 Because Rebecca couldn’t or wouldn’t rebut Stef’s argument, she chose to attack her — both at the conference and in her blog. (See links above.) Yet Stef’s argument can be refuted, at least in part. Rebecca failed to do this. Rebecca’s position assumes that EG heard her say she wants to go to bed and that he wanted sex other than coffee and chat. If she’s that psychic, she should be the winner of Randi’s challenge. I cannot assume that someone who’s been listening to me talk all day and all evening, says I’m interesting, tells me the request isn’t sexual (“please don’t take this the wrong way”), and then invites me to a private coffee, only wants sex. But as it’s been said ad nauseum, even if it were a proposition, it’s still not objectification, it’s attraction. He instantly took no for an answer to a question that had not been asked before. OK. Bad manners and inconsideration? Maybe. Objectification and misogyny? No.

    @Marnie – I thought about your comment some more and here’s my response: I understand what you’re saying and can’t disagree with the feelings that some women are expressing. I concede that it’s a valid viewpoint. Except I fear that having men cross the street for us does more harm than good in that it is sexist, and when we make that request, it paints us as fearful and weak. (Though I did a quick poll on my FB page and about 50% of those who responded — close to 100 — do this already. Not because someone told them to. Because they don’t want to scare the woman. And I don’t necessarily want to be seen as afraid, especially when I’m not. I’m fearful in front of a crowd, for example. But I wish I didn’t look that way. I’m not fearful walking down the street; however, and I don’t want to be perceived as such. Why should people assume that I’m more vulnerable and sensitive than I am? That said, I actually feel (and am) safer with a man walking a comfortable distance behind or in front of me on the same side of the street. As I’ve explained, it keeps potential attackers away & a potential protector nearby. Unless the man behind me (or in front of me) looks creepy, of course. In that case, should we ask men not to look creepy? And what if, as some have pointed out, certain biological traits (often called race) are perceived as scarier than others? This is a slippery slope and I don’t even want to go there. As for chivalry, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it. But that’s a gift, not a requirement. I can give it too.

    Of course I know that comparing men to rabid dogs is an analogy. Now let me explain why it’s absolutely the worst analogy someone can make. First of all, it’s old news and associated with aggressive feminist tactics and unreasonable hysteria. Second, rightly so. Men are not rabid dogs, but usually creatures of reason. They can and do empathize with us. (Those who cannot are called sociopaths, and there are female sociopaths as well.) And they do know how to be vulnerable or to live in fear. They can relate to instances of bullying when younger or being afraid of their father or any one of an infinite number of human experiences that we share. Further, many men do know what it’s like to be sexually violated or simply sexually objectified. Rape is generally an act of violence, of dominance. Most men can and do understand that. Stranger danger, whether it involves rape or not, applies to both men and women. Men do experience this. What men don’t experience as much is the threat from those they know and constant societal objectification. In any case, comparing men to rabid beasts is offensive and best avoided, don’t you think? Thank you for your engaging opinions.

  423. #423 bluharmony
    July 15, 2011

    Raging and Stefanie: Stef McGraw is not a public figure. Is that what I didn’t refute? She may or may not be a limited public figure depending on state law. But this is IRRELEVANT unless she wants to sue Rebecca. I have no idea what the law in Ireland is. See: http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation. The statement that Stef was encouraging misogyny and was encouraging anti-woman rhetoric are most likely false factual assertions.

    Also if naming names is so important, why didn’t Rebecca name *any* of the other people (making rape threats) referenced in that talk? Why was Stef the ONLY ONE called out by name? And surely, by now, someone must know who elevator guy is; they weren’t alone at the bar, I’m assuming. Who else was there? Does Rebecca know his name? Why not name him? I’m seriously curious.

    Anyway, calling Stef out was tactless and needlessly cruel, and dangerously close to being actionable. Further, either both Rebecca and Stef’s feelings matter or neither. You can’t have it both ways.

    You defend Rebecca’s actions on the ground that she didn’t break the law. She may or may not have, but she’s close. EG, on the other hand, did not break any law at all. Not even harassment. Not assault. He didn’t even objectify Rebecca, according to her own words. She said he found her interesting. He said his interest wasn’t sexual. And that made her “uncomfortable.” Also, she thought he was “creepy.” OK. If it happened, I’m truly sorry she was uncomfortable, but she’s made plenty of other people “uncomfortable” with her actions in this situation.

    As for ad hominems, making remarks about my ignorance is insulting, as if you didn’t know. Calling me dumb doesn’t make you smart.

    — Maria. (I want the men here to be aware that it’s a woman posting.)

  424. #424 Evil Pundit
    July 15, 2011

    I stopped reading at the word “Menz”.

  425. #425 Marnie
    July 15, 2011

    @blueharmony,
    Thanks for your thoughts on that. I really really hate to try to speak on Greg’s behalf, so I will simply say how I interpreted it. The way I read it is that the dog’s behavior was somewhat ambiguous and that was what was frightening. A rabid dog, like someone attempting to assault a person is a known and real risk but someone who is simply giving strange signals/clues/aggressive or erratic behavior is an unknown quantity. Are they friend or foe. I certainly don’t see men as rabid dogs or inherently bad or aggressive people. I’ve met hundreds, probably thousands of men in my relatively short lifetime and the vast majority have been perfectly unremarkable in their behavior, either way. Same with women.

    I think the point Greg was making, and again, I do not speak on his behalf, is that one way a man can endeavor to be unambiguous in his intentions is to not crowd or plow past a woman who is isolated, especially at night, but really at any time.

    At the same time, I am the first to say that I do not expect nor would I ask any man to go out of his way for me. I certainly find it easier to assess a situation if I don’t have to wonder if someone is rushing past me to take my purse or rushing past me because they are a fast walker. This is actually a gender neutral thought for me. I walk really fast so if someone is coming up fast behind me, I notice their approaching before I know their gender.

    In the same way, if I’m on an elevator and I’m standing next to someone who shows no real interest in me either way or simply offers some friendly platitudes, I don’t think anything of it. If someone leers (anyone, really) or stands unnecessarily close or asks odd or sexually aggressive questions, that sends up alarm bells.

    Again, I *think* Greg’s point is that you can clearly signal your intent with other people by not raising potential red flags and here are a couple of techniques he’s found to be well received.

    As for chivalry, I think you may misunderstand my intention. I think courtesy is a wonderful thing and I really appreciate it. I thank a person (anyone) any time they let me walk ahead of them, open a door, let me merge into traffic or any other kind gesture. These are efforts that just make life a little nicer. But I wouldn’t want any of those done out of chivalry which I feel is a bit paternalistic. As I’ve said above, I hold doors for other people regardless of age or gender and I have greater respect for men who do the same than I do for men who make a grand gesture of it for pretty women and ignore anyone else. In the same way, I have more respect for a guy who is as nice to the person working for an hourly wage as he is to the VP of the company. Kissing up to the boss is like chivalry, to me. It’s the lowest common denominator, done only for selfish reasons: to look good to someone who can give you something you want.

    Clearly, I think this issue requires nuance and that tends to be lacking online. I hope I’m communicating clearly when I say that it’s nice not to have to question someone’s intention. I wouldn’t expect a man to cross the street for me nor wait for another elevator. I do appreciate when they respect my personal space and I do find it generally creepy to be propositions for sex by someone I don’t know. However, it’s a free country and I’ll take the measures I need to avoid such situations regardless of what anyone else does. I just don’t think it’s fair for other people to tell me I shouldn’t worry about sexual assault nor consider the relative risk of a given situation when I am alone in an isolated place.

  426. #426 Porky D
    July 15, 2011

    “Except I’m actually afraid of dogs and most women are justifiably afraid of men.”

    I stopped reading at that point. If you think women are that cowardly you have been spending too much time with feminists.

  427. #427 Stephanie Z
    July 15, 2011

    bluharmony, you don’t know what an [argument] ad hominem is. An insult it is not.

    As for Stef, I said nothing about legal actions or the plausibility thereof. I said that, as she is a leader, Stef needs to be held to account for her words on her organization’s blog. You seem to think you know exactly what was said, but your account conflicts with Rebecca’s, which discusses Stef’s words, rather than her internal state. Were you there? Have you seen a recording to know whether you’re correct? Or are you making the same mistake you did in accusing me of ad hominems, treating a person’s words for the person themselves?

    Also, I didn’t say Stef’s feelings don’t matter. However, there are other considerations that are also important, such as her responsibilities to her organization and it’s constituencies. When those come into play, it’s time for Stef to suck it up and act like an adult. “She was mean to me” doesn’t cut it, particularly in lieu of addressing the content of Rebecca’s criticisms.

    As far as the identity of Elevator Guy, no, Rebecca doesn’t know who he is. Also, him having heard her speech earlier, in which she said she didn’t want to be hit on at these conferences, is the charitable interpretation. Him lying about finding her ideas fascinating in order to get her back to his room is far creepier. But yes, reducing her from the person who expressed that preference to an acceptable target of his proposition is objectifying.

  428. #428 bluharmony
    July 15, 2011

    Rebectionary:

    Mansplaining = Accusing someone of demanding equal rights, but preferential treatment. Pointing out that men have feelings and experiences too.

    You just don’t get it = I don’t have a valid justification for my position.

    You get it! = You agreed with whatever I just said, no matter how nonsensical. Good boy.

    I get it! = I’m sexualizing you very much. Do you want to go back to my hotel room for coffee?

    Privilege = Anything different about your background or heritage that I can use against you to justify discrimination and/or needless accusations. (When the first one fails, there’s always another. E.g. “You’re a white straight male, therefore you don’t get it.” “No, I’m gay.” “You’re a white male, so you don’t get it.” “No, I’m part Native American.” “You’re male, so you don’t get it.” “No, I’m a butch-looking lesbian.” “You’re an educated rape apologist.” “Omigod, how did you know? That’s exactly what I am!”)

    Sexualizing = Substantially shy of objectification, but sounds controversial enough to garner attention. After all, we all know that men don’t actually mean what they say. *Wink.*

    Creepy = Nerdy, socially awkward, and/or unattractive. (As compared to threatening, menacing, scary, abusive.) harassing.)

  429. #429 bluharmony
    July 15, 2011

    @Stephanie: I got my account from Rebecca’s blog (www.skepchick.org) and her discussion with Stef on Stef’s site. It’s all in print, though a few comments on Skepchick have been deleted, I think. But I didn’t use anything from those. Research is good.

    Wikipedia: An ad hominem (Latin: “to the man”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to link the truth of a claim to a negative characteristic or belief of the person advocating it. — Wikipedia. And yes, I find this insulting.

    Did you seriously not know what an ad hominem was?

  430. #430 bluharmony
    July 15, 2011

    @Stephanie: Please watch the video from the conference. It’s on YouTube. Rebecca doesn’t say a thing about hitting on her. She talks about e-mails, YouTube, and comments left on the SGU forum/calls to the show. Basically, things that unfortunately go with being a female celebrity. In particular, she complains about rape threats, which no one should be sending or getting, and could possibly be criminally actionable if anyone knew where they were coming from. She claims they’re coming from atheists, though, along with other lascivious comments.

    A proposition, even after someone excuses oneself from the bar is not objectifying. Neither is a request for coffee. Whenever. Wherever. Please read Feminism 101, since Rebecca advises it. Also, she doesn’t say that she was objectified in her video. She implies it later. Please watch Rebecca’s video.

    Hope that helps you out with some definitions & facts, ya know, those little things that are sometimes useful in arguments.

  431. #431 Stephanie Z
    July 16, 2011

    bluharmony, I’ve watched the video. Have you? Rebecca specifically stated that the rape threats did not come from atheists, but that the objectifying fan mail did. She pointed out that she didn’t find it complimentary and ended her talk with suggesting people communicating give some thought to how their words will be received on this topic.

    Have you noticed, though, that making the incident not Feminism 101 objectification requires saying it didn’t happen the way Rebecca said it did? Maybe he didn’t hear her talk on her panel (despite finding her “fascinating”). Maybe he didn’t hear her say she was tired and going to bed (because Rebecca’s a quiet person and a bar at 4 a.m. is a hoppin’ place). Maybe Rebecca shouldn’t think coffee means sex (even though, in our society, it requires context, a prior interpersonal relationship, or a solid explanation to make it mean anything else) even in someone’s hotel room (which always offers the best brew–better than anything that can be had in a more public place, like the bar). Maybe she shouldn’t have found an elevator to be a potentially dangerous place (despite having given a talk that demonstrated she has plenty of reasons to have a heightened concern for her personal safety). Because if you leave the details in place, it is exactly what Rebecca called it, objectification (from Feminism 101: the viewing of people solely as de-personalised objects of desire instead of as individuals with complex personalities and desires/plans of their own).

    It’s a relatively mild case, but it’s still objectification. Elevator Guy, unless you’d like to just say flat out that you don’t believe Rebecca, set aside Rebecca’s context and desires to assert his sexual interest. That’s exactly the point at which interest becomes objectification. And I think you understand that, since you’re working to keep the story from standing as described–and as Stef reacted to.

    And no, you still don’t understand argument ad hominem. Me finding some of your behavior gross (the Rebectionary is just another example) isn’t substituting for argument. It’s standing alongside it. Should I put it in separate comments so you can see the difference?

  432. #432 Stephanie Z
    July 16, 2011

    Here’s a taste of what’s wrong with your redefinitions. Rebecca has spoken of privilege three times that I’ve seen. She called Paula Kirby’s assertion that sexism wasn’t a big deal in atheism an argument from privilege. In this case, that means that it’s easy to not think about the scope and consequences of a problem if it doesn’t affect you.

    Rebecca also called Dawkins a “rich white man” in a post called The Privilege Delusion. Again, it means what it meant when applied to Kirby. It’s easy for Dawkins to not think about the scope and consequences of sexism in the movement when he doesn’t have to deal with them directly.

    Then, in the same post, Rebecca referred to “the hoards of clueless privileged people who didn’t get it.” While you can define that group a number of ways, you already have two instances to show you how Rebecca is using the term, and nothing to show that she must mean it any other way.

    So why are you making shit up?

  433. #433 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    Here’s how you defined ad hominems above:

    “Or are you making the same mistake you did in accusing me of ad hominems, treating a person’s words for the person themselves?”

    Not only is that wrong, but it doesn’t even make sense. You use ad hominems all the time. I specifically cited your example regarding my “ignorance.” Ah, the irony.

    Clearly you haven’t been reading what I’ve been writing and it wouldn’t matter anyway. I could go on and point out how you’re wrong bit by bit again, but it’s not worth my time. Laterz dudez.

  434. #434 Stephanie Z
    July 16, 2011

    Not only is that wrong, but it doesn’t even make sense.

    When you unflounce, bluharmony, would you care to pick one of those? It’s a bit hard to tell something is wrong if you don’t understand it.

  435. #435 Jason Thibeault
    July 16, 2011

    An ad hominem is when you make an insult one of the premises of an argument. Insults in the conclusion are just insults.

  436. #436 Greg Laden
    July 16, 2011

    Jason, the fact that you did not italicize ad hominem means that you are an idiot and therefor your argument about what at hominem means is wrong.

    OK, parse that.

  437. #437 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    @Stephanie. OK. Let’s take this one really slowly. Things are often wrong because they don’t make any sense in the context provided. Let’s look at an example:

    Q: Why is the sky blue?
    A: Because jelly bellies fly apart in firebursts with purple pandas.

    I can say:

    1. That’s wrong.
    AND
    2. That doesn’t make sense.

    All better now? Good.

  438. #438 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    Greg, you’re awesome for leaving these posts up. Rebecca deletes everything critical and so does Amanda. PZ, whom I love, closes threads. But you’ve been great. It’s fun and appreciated.

  439. #439 Jason Thibeault
    July 16, 2011

    Greg: Yeah, that first part’s not an ad hominem either. Your conclusion was that I was an idiot because I didn’t (nor will I now) italicize. Everything that came after it is an ad hominem because you used the fact that I’m an idiot (oh, it’s a fact all right, you proved it with your first premise!) to prove that what I understand about ad hominems is wrong.

    Correctly parsed, yes? Especially the “I’m an idiot” part. :)

    I also believe you’re right about ad hominems being valid sometimes. If someone is demonstrably lacking in knowledge about something, their burden of proof should definitely be higher, to show they actually understand what they’re trying to prove.

    bluharmony: no, you can’t say “that’s wrong” because what you said was actually nonsense. Nonsense expressions do not have to be “wrong”. They simply have to not parse.

  440. #440 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    @Jason: Nonsense, *as an answer* to that question is wrong. What Stephanie said was also nonsense. Or didn’t you read it? That was my point. Nonsense is the wrong answer. And I don’t understand nonsense. It doesn’t parse.

  441. #441 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    Q: What’s an ad hominem?
    A:”[T]reating a person’s words for the person themselves.(sic)”

    1. Nonsense (Doesn’t make sense)
    2. Not the right answer to “What is an ad hominem”? (Wrong)

    What she wrote a grammatically incoherent sentence fragment that made no sense. It was also, obviously, the wrong answer.

  442. #442 Stephanie Z
    July 16, 2011

    Oh, dear, bluharmony, I edited my statement such that it said, “for,” where it should have said, “as.” Oh, eek. Oh, gasp. Can you possibly comprehend it now? Can you figure out the difference between calling Stef’s words, “anti-woman,” and calling Stef, “anti-woman,” once that horrid preposition has been swapped out? I’m guessing not, since you still can’t parse the difference between a simple insult and an argument based on one even after four people have pointed out that you’re wrong.

  443. #443 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    What you wrote was nonsense. Even if I replace “for” with “as,” it still has nothing to do with an ad hominem attacks, which are basically an attempt to discredit what the person is saying by saying something nasty about them. “Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason.” – Online Dictionary. There are several definitions, none of them has anything to do with what you said. You and Rebecca Watson can read minds. I can’t.

  444. #444 bks
    July 16, 2011

    It wasn’t easy but I’ve located EG. He’s a medical student at Leeds University who had been working nights. He says that it is not unusual for people in their 20’s to stay up all night and that he was definitely *not* propositioning Waton; he’s gay. He really did want to have coffee and chat.

    –bks

  445. #445 Jason Thibeault
    July 16, 2011

    What exactly is an ad hominem in saying “I don’t have sympathy for people who are in a position to know better” than to do what they did? I’m really curious. That IS what you’re talking about, right?

  446. #446 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    Let me help you out. Although this has nothing to do with your ad hominems against me, which was what we were talking about, you seem to be saying that when Rebecca writes that Stef “espous[es] misogynist sentiment,” that’s not the same thing as saying she’s a misogynist. Fine, I’ll grant you that. YOU’RE RIGHT. Stef could just be really stupid, like me.

    But my point was that Stef did no such thing, and she didn’t. No anti-woman sentiment was espoused. Stef said (I’m embellishing) that a suggestion for coffee, after a single woman had been hanging out by herself in a bar all night, in a secured four-story hotel in downtown Dublin was not sexist. She’s right. It’s not. I get used to get propositioned when I left bars all the time. Granted, I was rarely alone. But when if I ever was, men would always take that opportunity. It’s normal. It’s annoying, sometimes flattering. Big deal. If that prospect frightens you, then don’t engage in the behavior. I’m not saying what anyone here should or shouldn’t do. I’m not ENTITLED to do that.

  447. #447 Stephanie Z
    July 16, 2011

    All right, bluharmony. I’ll make the connection extremely explicit, even though I doubt it will help. You confusing what Rebecca said about Stef’s words for a statement about Stef herself has a parallel in your ongoing confusion about arguments ad hominem. You can’t seem to tell the difference between attacking someone’s words and attacking the person themselves.

    To translate between something you think you understand and my statement that is causing you so much trouble: appealing to logic or reason is addressing the content of the person’s words; appealing to personal considerations is addressing the worth of a person as though it reflects on the worth of their (or in this case, your) words.

    What everyone else has been pointing out to you is that I have been addressing your arguments (your words) in addition to insulting you (your personal inconsideration). Got it yet?

  448. #448 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    @Jason. No. You have to look at everything she said to me in the thread, and specifically at the post when I asked her to stop the ad hominems. Even asserting privilege, arguably, is an ad hominem, because what you’re actually saying is that a person can’t possibly make a valid argument because of who they are. How do you overcome that? There’s no way. Anyway, Stef’s disdain, disrespect, insults, and ad hominems appear in almost every post she makes. I didn’t and don’t appreciate it, because I was attempting to have a serious discussion about something that matters to me. I’m a rape victim. I’m an attorney; I’ve worked with rape victims. And I don’t think that telling the “good guys” to be more sensitive to our feelings will solve the problem of rape. I want to see legislative solutions instead, like better rape shield laws. Rebecca’s elevator incident makes feminists look silly. Look at her video ratings on the video in question. Thousands of people are making fun of her, and almost no one approves. I’m not interested in persuading men that I’m weak. I’m interested in making sure that women have equal rights and adequate evidence-related legislation is enacted to make certain real rapists are brought to trial and convicted. Does that make sense?

    I’m interested to see if Stef will argue against better rape shield laws now. Have at me, Stef. I’m clearly an idiot.

  449. #449 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    No, Stephanie (sorry for calling you Stef). I’m put to shame by your brilliance and lucidity, and so is everyone else. Please go ahead and bask in your feminist glory.

  450. #450 Jason Thibeault
    July 16, 2011

    To reiterate: including an insult in the conclusion is not ad hominem, in any way, shape or form. You believe it is. You are therefore incorrect, and an idiot.

    See? That was an example.

  451. #451 Stephanie Z
    July 16, 2011

    bluharmony, the inability of women to opt out of this ritual without avoiding social situations is normal only because we’ve been trained to it. And it is most decidedly sexist.

    Also, I fully support rape shield laws. However, I think rape is better prevented before it happens. You know, if we want to actually prevent it. Starting with the assumption that women should be listened to when they opt out would be an excellent start.

  452. #452 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    Sorry for my typos in the my post trying to once again explain to Stephanie that she didn’t define ad hominems properly. She, apparently, still doesn’t understand. I’m slightly drunk. It’s my B-day and I’m going out with a (gasp) scary man. Have fun congratulating yourselves over your big victory, I guess.

  453. #453 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    Obviously, telling someone who’s not inclined to rape won’t stop the actual rapists. Calling attention to a non-incident distracts and trivializes the problem. My suggestion that it would keep women safer if men walked slightly in front of them rather than crossing (because attackers are not as likely to attack when there’s more than one person) was dismissed as idiotic, while running across the street, back and forth, for every woman a man sees is viewed as rational. It’s an upside down world.

    Jason, an adhominem is a *personal attack* or appeal to emotion. Doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you’re doing it in a way that attempts to invalidate the argument. There’s no “order” rule. Please look at Wiki and various dictionaries.

    OK, now I’m really gone.

  454. #454 Greg Laden
    July 16, 2011

    Jason, you are not an idiot after all! Just as I suspected! But seriously, yes. I’ve hardly ever, by the way, seen an ad hominim claim come from someone who was winning an argument. I’m negotiating now to have an Ad Hom remover script installed on the site.

  455. #455 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    He may not be an idiot, but he’s wrong. Unlike him, I don’t call people idiots. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the conclusion or not. All that’s necessary is that you attack the person and use it to invalidate the argument. Try a dictionary, people.

    Like this: ad hom·i·nem (h m -n m , -n m). adj. Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason. – Online dictionary, (also, Websters, Wiki). Citing a source to support your position is a nice idea. You should try it sometime.

    But then again, I forgot, you’re know-it-all mind readers.

  456. #456 Giliell
    July 17, 2011

    Obviously, telling someone who’s not inclined to rape won’t stop the actual rapists.

    No, and nobody claimed that.
    What’s been asked is that the good guys actually pay a bit attention to what they’re doing so they won’t put women through fear.
    You know, the fact that you’re not going to rape me when you follow and finally pass me on a lonely street at night is not a comfort in those seconds to minutes in which I actually have no clue whether you’ll do that or not.
    Because I can’t read your mind.
    For all I know, you’re acting exactly like the guy who was most likely trying to rape me that one time where a bit of luck and a bit of clever thinking meant that I reached my car about 5 seconds before he reached me.
    If you think that your behaviour is of no consequence just as long as you’re not actually raping, you are an idiot indeed.

    Look at her video ratings on the video in question. Thousands of people are making fun of her, and almost no one approves.

    Ahhh, I smell an argument from popularity here.
    Yeah, and if you look at the actual comments, I don’t see people making fun of here, but truely raging misogyny.
    And people who think that because she posed once naked herself, men now have the right to consider her meat.
    Tell you what, I don’t want approval from those people.

  457. #457 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    “If you think that your behavior is of no consequence just as long as you’re not actually raping, you are an idiot indeed.”

    Either you didn’t read or didn’t understand my posts because (1) I never said that, and (2) I suggested what might be more helpful than crossing a street every time a man sees a woman.

    The YouTube views only had to do with which was the majority opinion, since Greg asserts it’s his side. I wasn’t basing an argument on it. So you might want to check your sense of smell.

    Who said anything about RW’s nudie calendars? Yes, she did objectify herself and other men and women, but I’m more concerned with her blog entry saying that what two “hot college girls” were discussing was unimportant and how she wanted to get them upstairs for a tickle fight. That’s objectification. Asking someone for coffee or even to spend the morning with you isn’t. She also told lies and did a ton of spiteful things before getting banned from the JREF forum, so her nastiness toward Stef and others is not without precedent.

    Don’t know what ad hominem means and involved in skepticism? Don’t understand that “privilege” is actually an ad hom? Don’t understand that feminist dogma is incompatible with skepticism? Calling people names because they disagree? Impressive.

  458. #458 Giliell
    July 18, 2011

    Either you didn’t read or didn’t understand my posts because (1) I never said that, and (2) I suggested what might be more helpful than crossing a street every time a man sees a woman.

    I read your posts.
    You suggested that RW’s story was a non-incident, thinking just like Richard Dawkins that you get to decide that just because she didn’t get attacked.

    Who said anything about RW’s nudie calendars?

    The people on youtube you mentioned.

    Yes, she did objectify herself and other men and women,

    Ah, so you’re one of those people who think that women can only honestly protest against the objectification of women if they wear a burqua themselves.
    So you’re actually one of those people who don’t get the difference between doing something yourself and having something done to them.
    Celebrating the beauty of the human body and the joys of sexuality by chosing to present yourself in a certain way is the exact opposite of having people objectify you and not treat you as an actual person who is able to make those decissions, but as meat.

    but I’m more concerned with her blog entry saying that what two “hot college girls” were discussing was unimportant and how she wanted to get them upstairs for a tickle fight. That’s objectification.

    Yes it is. It was 5 years ago, she has apologized for it and she has learnt in the meantime.
    You know, that’s what honest people do. Not pretend that it was nothing or zero-bad, but saying “shit I messed up, I was being stupid back then, I don’t hold that view anymore”.

    That’s objectification. Asking someone for coffee or even to spend the morning with you isn’t.

    Disregarding the expilcitly stated wishes of somebody as if they weren’t acpable of making good decissions for themselves is, whether it’s about “want to stay up for 2 more hours even though you said that you were terribly exhausted which isn’t a wonder at 4 am ” or “want to fuck even though you said repeatedly that you’re not interested” is.

    Don’t understand that “privilege” is actually an ad hom?

    LOL

    Calling people names because they disagree?

    Nope, I’m calling you an idiot because you have given me every reason to believe that you indeed are one. You know, about everybody on planet earth disagrees with me on something.

  459. #459 Stephanie Z
    July 18, 2011

    Seriously, bluharmony? You’re still getting ad hominem completely wrong? All right, one more time. If I were to have simply pointed out that your comment about women with lower education was a statement of privilege and left it at that, that would have been an argument ad hominem. Since I told you why it was fucked up AND pointed out that you were likely demonstrating some privilege based on your education in getting it so fucked up, it wasn’t. That “rather than” part of the definition you like so much is critical.

    Also, if you don’t like insults, perhaps you shouldn’t have started your comments here by saying the same sort of thing about Rebecca that you’re insisting is an insult when it’s directed at Stef.

    Sheesh.

  460. #460 Greg Laden
    July 18, 2011

    blueharomony, with all due respect, I don’t think you are correctly parsing the correct definition of ad ho·mi·nem as it is generaly used. It is appeal to the person in making an argument. Insulting the person is a personal attack and there is an overlap there with ad ho·mi·nem, but the argument part is missing.

    In other words, “Lewis Binford is an untrustworty asshole therefore his work at Hatchery West” is bad (my memory is that it was Binford who first brought the term ad ho·mi·nem to widespread use in the social sciences, via archaeology). Just saying “Lewis Binford is an asshole therefore his work is wrong” is something you never really hear.

    A common example of ad ho·mi·nem on the internet that is almost never recognized, but that might overlap with what you are saying, is this: “Greg Laden said something I don’t agree with, therefore his credibility is RUINZED FOREVAh 11!!1111″ In that case, all of Greg Laden’s future and former arguments are invalid because he has zero credibility … where credibility is not credibility but rather code for “does not agree with me.”

    I also think that the argument that ad ho·mi·nem trickery is being done is almost always a code word for “I’m a baby and can’t handle rough conversation unless I’m the one dishing it out and everyone else is agreeing with me like good girls should” or words to that effect.

    In other words, when I hear ad ho·mi·nem, my personal assessment of the person making the complaint goes down and I no longer see the rest of their argument as valid because I don’t think they are being intellectually honest, their credibility is damaged, and they might as well be Adolf Hitler.

    Damn the dictionaries.

  461. #461 Stephanie Z
    July 18, 2011

    I try not to use the phrase myself. If I can’t just say, “Yeah, sure, I’m an XYZ and totally unfair. Now, did you want to address the substance of what I said?” then (1) it’s probably not an ad hominem and (2) it’s just going to derail the thread anyway.

  462. #462 Marnie
    July 18, 2011

    my butt hurts ≠ ad hominem

    Being in a privileged position and feeling hurt that someone brings it up ≠ ad hominem

    Most of us have some level of privilege somewhere in life. As a white middle class woman, I wouldn’t deign to tell someone of color that there is no more prejudice in this world. I wouldn’t deign to tell someone who was disabled that everywhere they go is handicap accessible. I wouldn’t deign to tell someone who didn’t have enough to to feed her family to just get a promotion at work or something. The fact that I have an advantage in areas of my life that other people do not, is not an attack on me, but it is something I have to consider before opening my yap.

  463. #463 Greg Laden
    July 18, 2011

    Stephanie, well, technically I’m sure some people I respect have used it (likely correctly) just as I’ve been engaged in perfectly good conversations in which Hitler came up (because they were conversations about Hitler!) But it has become something of a marker.

  464. #464 Jason Thibeault
    July 18, 2011

    I can definitely see why you might consider it a marker, Greg. People who go for “ad hominem” as a catch-all club to stop dissent from their viewpoints (or incivility!), especially when they obviously don’t understand what it means, are about as frequent among people with crank positions as are people with a Galileo complex when they have hypotheses that don’t pass peer review.

    Using logic to prove you wrong as well as insulting you in the process, is not the same as using the insult as a substitute for the logic.

    Hell, half the time when I try to really rub it in that they’re wrong, I’ll throw in the insult just to see if they cry “ad hominem” instead of dealing with the substance. Objective observers will note that bluharmony deserves every insult that comes her way in this thread because she repeatedly and with aplomb makes the same mistakes over and over again, despite the fact that she should know better (ahem), due to being in this conversation for as long as she has and being told as often as she has that she’s wrong. The important part is not that she is being told that she’s wrong, but that the commenters have been showing her *how* and *why* she’s wrong.

  465. #465 Greg Laden
    July 18, 2011

    Jason, I take the duplication of your comment to be incontrovertible evidence that YOU ARE A BAD PERSON!!!

  466. #466 bluharmony AKA Disappointed
    July 18, 2011

    Who said it was the same as an insult? To the extent privilege is used as a negative characteristic to discredit an argument, it is an ad hominem. “To the man.” Appeal to emotion. Attacking the person RATHER than the argument.

    In other words, an ad hominem is a general category of logical fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of “argument” has the following form:

    1. Person A makes claim X.
    2. Person B makes an attack on person A.
    3. Therefore A’s claim is false.

    And you’re right, fuck the dictionaries, logic textbooks, encyclopedias, and my experience as a trial attorney. What bearing could any of those things have on the issue?

    The irony of white men attempting to ostracize women from the skeptic community in the name of feminism is incredible. (Do you need a definition of irony, too?)

  467. #467 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    Jason you are seriously an idiot. And that’s not an ad hominem because it’s true. And, further, you deserve every insult that anyone tosses your way because you’re a bully using the comfort of being surrounded by people you know to indulge in shameful behavior. Funny and ironic that my complaint about people using ad hominems instead of addressing my arguments (or even bothering to find out the facts) results in this.

  468. #468 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    @ Marnie – “Most of us have some level of privilege somewhere in life. As a white middle class woman, I wouldn’t deign to tell someone of color that there is no more prejudice in this world. I wouldn’t deign to tell someone who was disabled that everywhere they go is handicap accessible. I wouldn’t deign to tell someone who didn’t have enough to to feed her family to just get a promotion at work or something. The fact that I have an advantage in areas of my life that other people do not, is not an attack on me, but it is something I have to consider before opening my yap.”

    This is perfectly true. But when “privileged ignorant (white man)” is lobbed at someone rather than addressing the argument, it’s an ad hominem, and particularly funny when someone isn’t any of those things. If you’re trying to use privilege to address my arguments, you can’t. Because I am a first generation immigrant woman with a disability (who has been raped). It’s inapplicable in this situation. Understand? So when I say that women aren’t any safer and potentially less safe with a (respectful) man on the other side of the street, or that crossing the street isn’t always logistically possible, and someone brings up my ignorance and privilege, it doesn’t apply. And further, it’s an ad hominem.

    Which, of course, isn’t a fallacy when it’s true.

  469. #469 bluharmony AKA Disappointed
    July 18, 2011

    And Greg, I’m supposed to just accept ad hominem attacks and “suck it up” then? Then may I suggest, you sexist male chauvinist bully, that women do the same fucking thing when there’s a guy on their side of the street or when someone happens to be on an elevator with them. Or frankly, they can do whatever they want, since I’m no one to tell them not to. And so can you. But that wasn’t my point. My point was that facts were not looked at and arguments weren’t addressed.

  470. #470 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    Finally, I don’t suppose it matters that asking someone for coffee is not objectification. Even if what EG wanted was sex. Even if it happened in an elevator. Even if EG heard Rebecca say that she wanted to go to bed (which seems odd if she’s never talked to him before, but possible, I suppose), it’s still not objectification. This is what I’m arguing. It’s rude, tactless, unpleasant, inappropriate, perhaps even frightening, but it’s not objectification. Saying “don’t take this the wrong way” and “you’re interesting” indicates that EG did not view Rebecca as an object. He just wanted to get to know her. Big deal. Unless he was lying, which you can’t know because you can’t read minds. And moreover, even if EG hadn’t said anything, Rebecca would have been just as uncomfortable and in exactly the same danger. The argument you’re really making is that EG was too creepy to be there in the first place. Or that he’s not entitled to use the elevator. But if Rebecca felt this uncomfortable walking around in the safety of a posh hotel in the middle of the night, she should have had someone escort her to her room. Problem solved.

    Also, the term misogyny is being used as if it’s meaningless. Just because someone disagrees with Rebecca on the issue of objectification doesn’t mean they hold misogynist views. This is bad logic and further, completely untrue in any of the cases where it’s been applied. A rapist is misogynist. Someone who hates women is misogynist. Someone who says elevators are perfectly safe is simply wrong.

    Issuing an apology AFTER someone brings up a fact that is not advantageous to your current position is not the same as issuing it when someone becomes aware of their incorrect conduct themselves. But this is irrelevant.

    I have no problems with nude calendars, porn, prostitution or anything else. And I don’t disrespect women who engage in these activities. But when you put nudes of yourself out there, you risk the chance that people might objectify you. Especially if they don’t know you. But this is also irrelevant.

    Rebecca is entitled to feel whatever she did. It’s not “zero bad” to her, and she’s entitled to say so. But she’s not entitled to mischaracterize the incident to further her own agenda. No one would ever accuse Rebecca of being dumb. She’s extremely smart, attractive, and a great speaker. But that doesn’t change the fact that her conduct toward Dawkins and Stef was unprofessional and ugly. And I’m not defending Dawkins’ argument because it was also improper, but it wasn’t nearly as cruel.

  471. #471 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    Me: I’m just pointing out that the bit of chivalry suggested here is counterproductive. Giving a woman some space on the sidewalk would be better than crossing.

    One of you: With this one minor point, I kind of agree. It’s probably not what I would do in the situations discussed here. But I’m sure an educated person like yourself could have made that point without all the additional rubbish about who speaks for whom and “viewing women as pathetic weaklings.”

    Me: This isn’t a minor point. This is the fucking MAIN SUBJECT of this whole thread. Men speaking on behalf of women is my other point, when women are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves.

    Also, I never said anyone must to anything, or must keep from doing anything. All I said is that we don’t have a right to restrict what people can do when they’re not putting us in danger or violating any of our rights. This is different from saying what people should do, obviously. Rebecca was the one giving all of mankind instructions. “Don’t sexualize me in this manner.” (Sexualization, BTW, is very different from objectification.)

    As for privilege, since you like that term so much, I’d have to say that you wouldn’t recognize it if it bit you in your collective asses. Laden has privilege in this “community” as the owner of this blog, as an aging white man (I’m guessing from tone – could be wrong), and as someone with status. And he feels no concern in taking advantage of it. The same is true with Rebecca. Having status and using it as a platform to attack someone IS improper use of privilege. Looks suspiciously like this “community” is attempting desperately to clutch to the status quo and prevent new people from participating, especially educated women. They’re apparently perceived as a threat.

    Also, saying that I don’t understand the issues of women with less education because of my privilege, where’s the actual evidence or argument for that? On the one hand I’m an idiot, so I can’t understand, on the other hand, I have too much education so I can’t understand. That appears to be what you’re saying. And there was, of course, a time when I didn’t have an education. Then I got one. My attitudes toward men and equality haven’t changed. I think that decent housing, a welfare check, health care, food, child care, and education would help these women a lot more than “menz” crossing the street. Rebecca isn’t one of these women, however, nor is your target audience, so how is it even relevant?

    You still haven’t addressed my point about mind-reading. You still haven’t shown how crossing the street helps with safety. You don’t understand the dangers of speaking on behalf of all women (when you’re only speaking on behalf of a select few), and you viciously attack everyone who disagrees. Looks like you just “don’t get it.” The fact that a woman says she doesn’t like being viewed in a patronizing light is completely irrelevant. And that’s the point.

    So where’s your argument? I still haven’t seen one. Let the insults roll in.

  472. #472 Stephanie Z
    July 18, 2011

    bluharmony, let me point out again that you started the insulting style you seem to not like when it’s directed at you. As for the requests for an argument, which argument do you want? I’ll give you the comment number it’s already in. You’ve been ignoring arguments in favor of crying “ad hominem” for something like 50 comments now.

    And again, stop speaking for me as an educated woman. I’ve been fairly rapidly accepted into the skeptical community, and Greg and Rebecca both have played a role in that.

  473. #473 pornonymous
    July 18, 2011

    Greg, I had to stop at “pass the other way”–gopingout of your way for a woman. Not thatI don’t doit myself, and not that I don’t undersatand rape( I do).

    But what a crock of chivalrous shit we men have to employ, and the still get berated for chivalry!

    Fuck white women, and white female privilege, man–but not literally.

    And lookism sure has a biological explanation in this whole conflated, and profitable discussion, but I won’t elaborate on that; not to mention that Ms. Watson has surely increased her mating fitness…

    http://pornalysis.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/inspiring-white-females-to-action-rationalization-of-late-term-post-partum-white-female-privilege-abjection-and-feminist-cowardice/

  474. #474 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    No, I was pointing out that you don’t know the meaning of the term, Stephanie. Which apparently you still don’t. You were trying to say that it means “don’t mistake the argument for the arguer,” but bad grammar got in the way. Then I got attacked because Greg also didn’t know the meaning, but when he figured it out, he said that using ad homs on his board is a great idea, and anyone who doesn’t like it is a whiner. Also, fuck dictionaries. (See any similarities here?)

    Tell me how you *know* what EG was thinking. What comment is that in?

    Tell me what it is that I don’t understand about poor women and why you’re in a position to understand better. What comment is that in?

    Tell me how you know what EG saw and heard that day. What comment is that in?

    Tell me how come no one has seen EG. What comment is that in?

    Tell me why it matters what EG said in the elevator if rape was his intent. What comment is that in?

    Tell me how crossing the street will help the actual safety of women? What comment is that in? (I know that some women like the idea, but coughing and passing at a slight distance works just as well.) Tell why men should have to do this? (There are useful safety suggestions for women as well. And men are overall more likely to be the victims of violence than women. Rape is also a crime of violence.)

    Tell me why it’s OK for men in this community to be patronizing and paternalistic? What comment is that in?

    Tell me why PZ’s suggestions to men on how to get laid will improve my safety? What comment is that in? Tell me how they’re not sexist? What comment is that in? Tell me how a hotel room is safer than an elevator when it comes to rape? What comment?

    Tell me why you think that calling someone a misogynist is somehow more offensive than saying she’s ignorant and “parrots misogynistic thought.” What comment is that in? (Oh, she’s not a misogynist. But her thoughts are misogynistic. Either assertion is libel if untrue.)

    Tell me how radical is consistent with feminism. What comment is that in?

    Those are just a few of the points I brought up that weren’t addressed. You chose to throw insults around instead and give me non-answers, such as privilege.

    And I have plenty of friends in this “community” as well. I’ve given money to Skepchick and JREF, and spoken at events, though I won’t be doing that again, obviously. I’m one of Elevatorgate’s many casualties, so if getting more women involved was the goal, you’ve failed. Of course, you don’t want women like me. I get that.

  475. #475 Jason Thibeault
    July 18, 2011

    Greg: oops. My bad. I may have pressed the post button REALLY SUPER HARD. Coz that’s how the internet works right?

    bluharmony @469: no, let me explain.

    Logic:
    1: If A, then B.
    2: A.
    3: Therefore, B.

    Logic plus insult:
    1: If A, then B.
    2: A.
    3: Therefore, X is an idiot for arguing against B.

    Ad hom:
    1: X argues A.
    2: X is an idiot.
    3: Therefore, Not A.

    Your post @470 fits one of these. Guess which one?

  476. #476 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    I meant to say, tell me how skepticism is consistent with radical feminism?

  477. #477 Greg Laden
    July 18, 2011

    Skepticism is a form of critical analysis of various things. Feminism is a form of critical analysis of society and politics (and a few other things) that focuses specifically on gender bias related issues. In a sense, Feminism is a subset of Skepticism, except it may not appear so becuase skepticism has tended to focus on a subset of things that don’t have a lot to so with sex bias.

    Which is probably why there are so many abysmally clueless people who call themselves “skeptics.” They are fine debunking Bigfoot but when it comes to Male Privily they choke like a rat on a corn dog.

  478. #478 Jason Thibeault
    July 18, 2011

    No, I was pointing out that you don’t know the meaning of the term, Stephanie. Which apparently you still don’t. You were trying to say that it means “don’t mistake the argument for the arguer,” but bad grammar got in the way. Then I got attacked because Greg also didn’t know the meaning, but when he figured it out, he said that using ad homs on his board is a great idea, and anyone who doesn’t like it is a whiner. Also, fuck dictionaries. (See any similarities here?)

    I have a really excellent, funny and insightful post caught in Greg’s spam filter that explains exactly this. I do hope Greg un-spams it. Yes, it has to do with ad homs. It also explains what me, Stephanie, Greg, and others are saying is and is not an ad hom, and why what you’re claiming to be an ad hom is not.

  479. #479 Marnie
    July 18, 2011

    @blueharmony,

    My point on ad hominem was general and not specifically pointed at you. There were quite a few people discussing the issue and I was well aware that you aren’t a man and that you have been assaulted and your family immigrated to the states. I think you and I discussed a lot of this further upstream but I stand by my point that identifying a point of privilege is not in and of itself, and ad hominem attack in the same way that questioning someone’s religious beliefs isn’t in fact religious oppression or intolerance.

    I don’t, personally, share your particular view on the topic especially since you say exactly what I think is the argument against your point and say it is proof to support your point, namely that having a “nice” guy on your side of the road is a good thing unless the man turns out not to be “nice” and really you have no way to know the difference. *shrug* I’m ok agreeing to disagree.

    But just as I can say “listen, I don’t see racism around, I don’t think it’s an issue, every situation and person I know is highly accepting of people of all colors and creeds, therefore I don’t agree with some other person’s point that there is in fact, still racism.” It’s totally appropriate for someone to call me on my privileged station. Basically, as a middle class white women living in a liberal west coast city, I may not be privy to the racism that still exists. This may hurt my feelings but it’s no less true. And just as someone who claims to have experienced a miracle or an alien abduction or ESP, might truly believe that they’re experience trumps reality, it is still true that no matter how strongly they feel their view to be true, it is a skewed view that is out of touch with reality.

    I respect that your experience as a woman, having been assaulted, is different than my experiences as a woman having been assaulted and that we both walk away from these situations with a different view of how to stay safe. You feel there is less risk being near someone who could potentially help you and I feel it is better to avoid situations that could potentially harm me. I don’t think either of us feels anyone should feel obliged to assist or avoid us, we simply choose to put ourselves in a space that seems least risky and for us. Those situations just happen to be polar opposites. Hopefully, we’ll both remain safe :)

  480. #480 Greg Laden
    July 18, 2011

    Point of clarification: Privilege is not something one chooses (though there are probably ways to do that). It is something you have, an attribute of the state of your being as observable along several dimensions. You can’t (normally) walk away from your privilege (though you can deny it, i.e., leave it uninterrogated). But you can walk away (with some significant work perhaps): religion, sexism, misogyny, and dairy queen ice cream blizzards.

  481. #481 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    Why didn’t you address my substantive questions, Jason? Because none of them have been answered. Making insults instead of addressing the issues is an ad hominem attack. Why not just drop implying and saying how stupid I am and address the actual arguments instead? I put them in the form of questions this time. Stephanie says they’ve been answered, so just point me to the answers. If they have been, then I’m in the wrong.

  482. #482 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    @Marnie I agree with everything you’re saying. My perception when someone shouts “privilege” instead of answering the argument is negative. I interpret it as “You don’t understand the issue because of who you are and I can’t explain it to you.” This is usually said in a patronizing tone implying how stupid you are. It’s no fun to argue like that. Only after being called an idiot multiple times by multiple people, did I finally start doing the same. I love your civil tone, and I’m absolutely fine agreeing to disagree on the issue regarding men crossing the street. Hugs.

    @Greg Privilege: A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to one person or group of people. Online Dictionary, Wikipedia, Webster’s.

    I realize that’s not how you’re using the term, but it is the dictionary definition. Therefore, it’s the definition I was using. And under the dictionary definition you and Rebecca have status privilege. In your case, white male, probably wealthy, too.

    Feminist theory defines the term differently, I’m aware.

  483. #483 Jason Thibeault
    July 18, 2011

    I got a fight over at my place that sounds exactly like this:

    Rebecca is entitled to feel whatever she did. It’s not “zero bad” to her, and she’s entitled to say so. But she’s not entitled to mischaracterize the incident to further her own agenda.

    Strangely enough, that’s an actual quote from bluharmony @473.

    Rebecca’s allowed to feel creeped out by EG’s actions but is not allowed to explain why lest she be seen as making stuff up. When she explained why she felt the way she did, she’s been accused by every single EG supporter of making stuff up. Interesting how that works, that she’s allowed to feel that his actions were creepy but nobody is allowed to agree with her.

  484. #484 Greg Laden
    July 18, 2011

    That is how I’m using the term, as per the dictionary definition. Maybe you are putting emphasis on the word “grant” like there is some granting agency you can avoid or get to take back your privilege. There isn’t.

    Yes, I totally do have status privily, fucking piles of it, and white priv and male priv. Wealthy, not a chance, never had money haven’t spent a day in my life not in debt.

    And I interrogate my privileged all the time. Spent a couple of hours on that yesterday, in fact.

  485. #485 Jason Thibeault
    July 18, 2011

    You might notice, bluharmony @484, that I have basically been arbiting the fight over the dictionary crap that Greg hates and that you’re getting grossly wrong. Even when you’re quoting the dictionary, you’re misunderstanding it, and using an ad hom of your own while decrying others’ logic-plus-insults.

    I’m letting Stephanie answer the questions you asked her at the moment, and I have it on good authority that your answers are coming, with copious citations. If you’d like me to address something specific that I actually argued myself, please do let me know what comment it is that you’d like me to clarify, and how.

  486. #486 Greg Laden
    July 18, 2011

    And I can’t fucking spel. Damn autocorrect.

  487. #487 Jason Thibeault
    July 18, 2011

    We still love you, Greg.

    Well, the other people here that recognize their own and others’ privilege, anyway.

  488. #488 Stephanie Z
    July 18, 2011

    bluharmony, I asked whether Greg would remove the monster comment, since loading this page has gotten very slow. If that happens, these comment numbers may be off by one. Ditto if there’s something hung up a ways back in moderation.

    No, I was pointing out that you don’t know the meaning of the term, Stephanie. Which apparently you still don’t. You were trying to say that it means “don’t mistake the argument for the arguer,” but bad grammar got in the way.

    Jason first defined argument ad hominem in comment 437. That you thought he was talking about a time-dependent phenomenon instead of the difference between the premise and conclusion of an argument isn’t his fault. Since that point, it’s again been explained in comment 441 (“Yeah, that first part’s not an ad hominem either. Your conclusion was that I was an idiot because I didn’t (nor will I now) italicize. Everything that came after it is an ad hominem because you used the fact that I’m an idiot (oh, it’s a fact all right, you proved it with your first premise!) to prove that what I understand about ad hominems is wrong.”), comment 444 (“..you still can’t parse the difference between a simple insult and an argument based on one…”), comment 449 (“…appealing to logic or reason is addressing the content of the person’s words; appealing to personal considerations is addressing the worth of a person as though it reflects on the worth of their (or in this case, your) words.”), comment 461 (“If I were to have simply pointed out that your comment about women with lower education was a statement of privilege and left it at that, that would have been an argument ad hominem. Since I told you why it was fucked up AND pointed out that you were likely demonstrating some privilege based on your education in getting it so fucked up, it wasn’t. That “rather than” part of the definition you like so much is critical.”), comment 462 (“It is appeal to the person in making an argument. Insulting the person is a personal attack and there is an overlap there with ad ho·mi·nem, but the argument part is missing.”), and comment 466 (“Using logic to prove you wrong as well as insulting you in the process, is not the same as using the insult as a substitute for the logic.”).

    Tell me how you *know* what EG was thinking. What comment is that in?

    I don’t know what happened that day. I pointed out in comment 433, however, that if one doesn’t want to call the situation Rebecca has described “objectification,” one has to assume that things didn’t happen the way she said they did when telling other guys what not to do to appeal to women in the movement.

    Tell me what it is that I don’t understand about poor women and why you’re in a position to understand better. What comment is that in?

    The what is in comment 399. The why is in comment 404. You might want to check out post-colonial feminism and see what it kind of perspective it can offer you.

    Tell me how you know what EG saw and heard that day. What comment is that in?

    I don’t know what happened that day. I pointed out in comment 433, however, that if one doesn’t want to call the situation Rebecca has described “objectification,” one has to assume that things didn’t happen the way she said they did when telling other guys what not to do to appeal to women in the movement.

    Tell me how come no one has seen EG. What comment is that in?

    See comment 428 on what Rebecca knows about the identity of Elevator Guy. If you’re asking why he hasn’t identified himself in the middle of all this, you’ll have to rescind your objection to mind reading. I have a guess, but it’s only that. Why would you expect him to step up and say, “Hi! You’re all talking about me!”

    Tell me why it matters what EG said in the elevator if rape was his intent. What comment is that in?

    I’m not sure I even understand what you’re trying to say here. Did someone say Elevator Guy was intending to rape Rebecca? She didn’t.

    Tell me how crossing the street will help the actual safety of women? What comment is that in? (I know that some women like the idea, but coughing and passing at a slight distance works just as well.) Tell why men should have to do this? (There are useful safety suggestions for women as well. And men are overall more likely to be the victims of violence than women. Rape is also a crime of violence.)

    SallyStrange addressed the first part of this nicely in comment 216 before you joined the discussion. Greg also discussed the difference between different actions in the original post, in footnote 4. See also comment 37.

    Tell me why it’s OK for men in this community to be patronizing and paternalistic? What comment is that in?

    Who has said this is okay?

    Tell me why PZ’s suggestions to men on how to get laid will improve my safety? What comment is that in? Tell me how they’re not sexist? What comment is that in? Tell me how a hotel room is safer than an elevator when it comes to rape? What comment?

    This is the first time you’ve brought this up. They may improve your safety if the point about treating women like people is more generally taken to heart, but that wasn’t PZ’s point. His point was to get the men commenting in other posts to treat women like people. It’s not sexist because it was aimed at specific commenters and people who shared their views, who happened to be men where gender could be distinguished. And no one has said that an elevator is more dangerous than a hotel room. Why would or should they?

    Tell me why you think that calling someone a misogynist is somehow more offensive than saying she’s ignorant and “parrots misogynistic thought.” What comment is that in? (Oh, she’s not a misogynist. But her thoughts are misogynistic. Either assertion is libel if untrue.)

    This is the first time you’ve asked. However, if you want to know, I suggest you watch Jay Smooth’s “How to Tell People They Sound Racist” on YouTube. It explains the difference quite well. Also, Jay’s always worth watching.

    …tell me how skepticism is consistent with radical feminism?

    Organized skepticism is still an organization. I explained the requirements of leaders of organizations with respect to their members in comment 404 and comment 428. I explained the relevance to atheist organizations in particular in comment 404.

  489. #489 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    @Greg – Thanks for finally engaging the argument. That’s all I was asking for. Political ideology and skepticism are not the same thing. First of all, feminism contains many different schools of thought and many assertions that cannot be examined by looking at the evidence. Take, for instance, privilege. That argument implies that a human being who has it is incapable of experiencing empathy. I posit, on the other hand, that as humans there many levels on which we can all relate and understand each other. What men (or women) should do in certain situations is not something that can be answered through skeptical inquiry. It’s based on preference and politics. Liberal feminism based on equal rights is difference from feminism based on victim mentality. I subscribe to the former, not the latter. I think my (very liberal) political views are right, but I can’t prove it.

    So, applying skepticism to the EG situation, I want to see actual evidence if we’re to draw generalized conclusions from the event. If it’s just about Rebecca’s feelings, then, of course, she’s entitled to them.

    Clearly, Rebecca would have been in the same danger no matter what EG said, so I don’t know why his words are even relevant. But if you consider the words important you can’t take them at anything but face value because we have no idea of his intent. We can guess, of course. But that’s not skeptical evidence-based inquiry. In fact, it’s the opposite of what skeptical inquiry is supposed to look like. That’s why so many people are seriously bothered.

    Different women want different things. Men are all different. You can’t generalize.

  490. #490 pornonymous
    July 18, 2011

    ahhhhh….endlessly indulged in the post-partum abject. Such a nice privilege to have.

    @”Privilege is not something one chooses (though there are probably ways to do that)”

    I would disagree, because at the exact point of knowing ones privilege, there is sort of a duty social duty accept it; to reject it; or to deny it.

    Whatever comes after that is awareness of it, denial of having it, socially proactive ways to spread it around, or to enhance it with impunity, and at the expense of others.

    In the case of Rebecca, she chose the latter.

  491. #491 Greg Laden
    July 18, 2011

    There would have been a difference between EG riding the elevator quietly and getting off at his floor, vs. saying anything. For instance.

    Regarding politics and sketpical things… I certainly don’t claim that any political movement is internally logical and consistent, or that people get to their political place through any particular form of argument. But I see the presumed separation of “politics” from “skepticism” as an incorrect argument based on nothing other than a desire to avoid certain issues, including the widespread racism and sexism in the skeptical movement. Looking at political movements from a skeptical point of view one can certainly see things that don’t hold together, as you point out. But looking at the sketpical movement with a skeptical eye produces a fairly similar result, including argument from authority (I’ve seen “I’m a JREF moderator” used as support of an otherwise weak argument), ad hom arguments (sensu the correct definition!) as well as purely politically motivated arguments (see the average member of JREF on nuclear power, for instance)

    No, the skeptical movement includes a lot of people with what I consider to be bad politics hiding behind fake skepticism, and when people with different politics come after the they cry foul. Not very logical.

  492. #492 pornonymous
    July 18, 2011

    Hey if anyone has an answer: I would like to know 1) how going across the street for a woman is anything but “chivalry”–which, of course, is inherently sexist, and

    2) Greg, what do you do in S. Minneapolis when it is a pack of women walking at you on the street–or was your neighborhood all single walking white women?

    3)And why is it that downtown Minneapolis, white people don’t get out of your way, or form a single file line, or acknowledge that they are hogging the sidewalk when walking in packs?

    4) are packs of white women hogging the sidewalk different than packs of other women hogging the sidewalk?

    Hmmmm…women and men, traveling in packs…white….hmmmm.

  493. #493 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    @Stephanie: my general complaint was paternalism and men speaking on my behalf. That includes this thread and related thread. “Rules for men by men.”

    If, as you say, we have to take everything at face value, then it means EG found Rebecca interesting and wanted to chat over coffee. You can’t take what Rebecca said at face value, but apply a different standard to EG. No one knows his true intent. So what we have left is an issue of manners. Even if we presume intent (which we can’t), it’s still merely a request to spend the night together. We have no idea what he heard. Rebecca cannot speak for him, and to assume she can is illogical. We can’t even assume he heard her talk earlier that afternoon if there’s absolutely no evidence of that fact. I always skip talks that don’t have to do with science. Maybe he’s the same way. Maybe not. Finally, if we assume he heard everything Rebecca said, which we can’t do, then at he heard her say that she was going to bed. It may be rude to ask for company after someone says that, but it’s not objectification, since according to Rebecca’s own words, she never said anything directly to him. If he said, “Nice tits.” That would be objectification. If Rebecca had refused his specific request before, you’d have a better case.

    What I mean by the elevator comment is that if rape was EG’s intent, it doesn’t matter what he said, the rape would have happened anyway.

    As to misogyny, let’s try this (to use someone else’s example): I’m not saying you’re a racist, I’m just saying that all the words you say are racist. I’m sure you’re not a racist even though what you say is nothing but racist. It’s disingenuous and equally offensive.

    Moreover, misogyny is hatred of women and there’s nothing to indicate that Stef’s analysis of the situation was misogynistic. Ignorant? Arguably, though I don’t think so. Misogynistic? Absolutely not. There’s a difference between sexism and misogyny. Her words may be at best perceived as sexist, but that’s all.

    No one has answered how crossing the street makes a woman safer. It may make a woman less anxious, and that’s the best that can be said. Men have no obligation to make us less anxious when they are rightfully walking on public property, and many are offended by that idea, since it’s sexist: different rules for different genders. Further, it’s a concession of female weakness. Every man is not a rapist; most aren’t so they shouldn’t be treated as such. That said, everyone can do whatever they want in regard to this.

  494. #494 Raging Bee
    July 18, 2011

    Take, for instance, privilege. That argument implies that a human being who has it is incapable of experiencing empathy.

    That is pure bullshit — NO ONE said that. The “privilege” argument says nothing about “empathy,” it merely states that people who have not experienced a certain injustice, and have no reason to fear it or take daily precautions against it, are LESS LIKELY to understand, appreciate or respect the POV of those who are more at risk then they are. Furthermore, the “privilege” argument has, on these threads, only been used against people whose words indeed show such lack of understanding. I’m a guy and I’ve never had to worry about being sexually assaulted; but I’m not labelled “privileged” here because I at least try to see past my own limited experience. It’s not an “ad hominem attack,” it’s a relevant response to statements that sound incredibly ignorant, uncaring or naive.

    bluharmony, your misrepresentation of what’s being said here — along with your continuing falsehoods about “ad hominem” this and that — is only damaging your credibility.

    Oh, and pornonymous? You’re just fucking incoherent. “Pornoriented amateur rapeologist?” Really? Get help. Or at least try to get your education from sources other than porn.

  495. #495 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    @Greg: That’s a valid position to take, but I fear it alienates people from skepticism. Largely we’re liberal atheists (with a significant group of libertarians). But there’s no reason to exclude other groups, and every reason to make them welcome. Simply saying the word “feminism” makes a lot of people run for cover, though I consider myself a feminist in the traditional sense. There are different schools of feminist thought, and no evidence-based way to determine which is right.

    Regarding the elevator thing: if EG said nothing, the level of danger in the elevator wouldn’t change. If he were an actual rapist, she’d still be attacked. I agree that what he did was bad manners, awkward, rude; but not objectifying. I can’t reach a different conclusion without actually knowing exactly what he heard and what was in his head. I need more evidence.

    The crux of this issue is people not applying the rules of skepticism to analyze this situation, and drawing conclusions based on what they think was intended. That’s why it’s such a heated debate.

    Further, as a woman, I wouldn’t have minded the proposition, but I realize that different women feel otherwise. We are pretty evenly divided on this point, I think.

  496. #496 Raging Bee
    July 18, 2011

    You can’t take what Rebecca said at face value, but apply a different standard to EG.

    RW’s and EG’s behaviors were different; so even if we apply the same standard, we still get different judgments for different behaviors.

    No one knows his true intent.

    The issue isn’t his intent; it’s his behavior, which RW found creepy and disturbing.

    No one has answered how crossing the street makes a woman safer.

    Good Gods, are you still harping on that minor side-issue? That was just a few guys’ chosen actions, not some universal feminazi diktat. And no one said it made anyone safer, so quit trying to interrogate us on something we didn’t say.

    Further, it’s a concession of female weakness.

    Pure bullshit. A minor act of reassurance (appropriate or not) is not a “concession of weakness.” If I do something that I think will prevent a woman from being scared of me (like walking louder as I catch up behind her), it’s not because I think she’s weak; it’s because I don’t want to scare her. That’s a perfectly simple and easily-understood point, which you’re burying under a heap of tired old labels and anti-feminist scolding-points.

  497. #497 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    Raging: You fail to understand that the privilege you’re claiming doesn’t apply to me because I’m a woman who has been raped. And if privilege is something you’re born with, as Greg contends, then my level of education is irrelevant. So throwing “privilege” at me does nothing. It simply implies that I’m too stupid to understand.

    I may have different views than some of the women in this thread, but that doesn’t make me privileged. It makes you privileged. And by being so demeaning, you’re abusing that privilege.

  498. #498 pornonymous
    July 18, 2011

    “harping on that minor side-issue?’

    Chivalry is now a minor issue? Oh–that’s until some universal “feminazi diktat” make it a major issue again; tomorow, next week–G-d they’re always “harping” about that.

    At which point, the blog hit counters will light up as men try to defend themselves from the barrage of aggressive talk that attempts to focus the dialogue away from white female feminist privilege.

  499. #499 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    @Raging: Without intent, all we have is his words, which don’t lead to objectification; just inconsideration. We can’t get to objectification without reaching a conclusion on his intent. “He viewed her as just an object.” Well, he may or may not have, but we can’t get there based on the facts we have.

    The side issue you mention happens to be the thread topic. And if ERV’s forum is any indication, it offends men and women alike.

  500. #500 sidhe3141
    July 19, 2011

    It may be rude to ask for company after someone says that, but it’s not objectification, since according to Rebecca’s own words, she never said anything directly to him. If he said, “Nice tits.” That would be objectification. If Rebecca had refused his specific request before, you’d have a better case.

    I would say that it absolutely is objectification for EG to assume that a sleepy convention speaker who does not know his name and in fact (by her account) has never actually spoken with (rather than possibly to) him would have the slightest interest in going to his room for either discussion and coffee or “discussion and coffee”. The only question at this point is whether he was objectifying RW as a speaker or as a woman.

    Hopefully, EG has been following this kind of discussion and will not do it again. And if we’re lucky, EG has figured out why he shouldn’t do it again, and has gained some awareness of the issues surrounding why he shouldn’t do it again.

    Oh, and: by Azathoth’s yellow hair ribbon, why is “this behavior makes a certain subset of the population uncomfortable, this is why, it is not polite to make people uncomfortable, doing so will not help you get any” a difficult enough concept to keep this thread on top of the discussion list for two weeks?

  501. #501 bluharmony
    July 19, 2011

    @sidhe3141 “The only question at this point is whether he was objectifying RW as a speaker or as a woman.”

    I think he was genuinely interested in her and a bit starstruck, but again, I have no idea what he was thinking. Clearly his behavior was inappropriate and unwanted. And I’m sure no atheist or skeptic will proposition a woman in an elevator again. At least not in the near future.

    Why I got upset in the first place was the treatment of fellow atheists by another atheist. It was just so mean-spirited. And if that’s how we treat each other, our “movement” is a lost cause.

    There was nothing in Stef’s blog to indicate that she was anti-woman or had misogynistic views, so that was a lie. Stef had a valid opinion, and got publicly shamed for it in a place where she couldn’t respond. But it’s what was said, not how or where, that bothers me most. As for Dawkins, he was rude and his logic was faulty, but I see his point. And surely as someone who has contributed so much to the movement and has worked for gender equality, he deserves correction if he was wrong, not an aggressive attack. Remember, he asked someone to explain it to him. That’s how I see the situation, anyway.

  502. #502 bluharmony
    July 19, 2011

    Here is Rose’s back story. She was the other woman called out by Rebecca. Rose has a long history of sexual abuse and depression: http://www.unifreethought.com/2011/07/in-times-of-crisis-to-what-do-i-atheist.html. Considering these women had a valid point of view on a situation related to feminism, not atheism, I can’t see a reason to do something in a way that would hurt them. And in their position I would be hurt. I wouldn’t give a second thought to EG. As women, our reactions are different. As people, we’re all scared of different things.

  503. #503 Greg Laden
    July 19, 2011

    What is the Rose St. Claire link exactly? Did Rebecca mention Rose by name ;rior to anyone else bringing her situation in, and if so, where and when?

  504. #504 bluharmony
    July 19, 2011

    Rose made a YouTube video. She’s also a student and an atheist. Rebecca discussed her in her blog response to Stef, but didn’t say bad things about her: http://tinyurl.com/3rktglt. The venom was directed at Stef. I don’t think Rose was at the CFI talk, and don’t know if she was mentioned in it. Rebecca said Rose was “uneducated in feminist thought,” which is very different from engaging in “anti-woman rhetoric” and “parroting misogynist thought,” brought up in the same breath as YouTube rape threats. In reviewing the situation, I think Rebecca’s treatment of Rose was proper, and Stef should have been treated the same way.

    This is a good summary of events and might contain some links that you don’t have in your link farm: http://heathen-hub.com/blog.php?b=1229 It’s biased toward my view of the situation, but also mentions all the somewhat visible skeptic women who have commented on the matter defending EG/Dawkins.

    Rose’s video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfA5AZutpCs

    In conclusion, it’s not that Rebecca made a video about EG that bothers me; she’s absolutely entitled to be bothered by it; but her reaction to contrary opinions. And I can empathize with men, since women are constantly sending them mixed messages. Some are fine with this sort of thing, whereas many others are not. So it’s no wonder men end up puzzled. But that doesn’t make them woman haters.

    Something to think about: For those who see this incident as objectification, it seems that Rebecca’s main problem was that this happened in an elevator. She emphasizes this point in her video. Many blog comments also suggest that asking in the bar would have been fine. But how does location bear on the objectification analysis? Is the issue the alleged objectification or riding in an elevator with a stranger? Because it seems to me that those are two separate issues (though I obviously understand how one aggravates the other).

  505. #505 bluharmony
    July 19, 2011

    Dawkins Foundation to fund free child care at atheist conferences, announced at this year’s TAM (rumored to have been in the works for a while). That’s real feminism. He “gets it.” Brilliant.

    Watson objectifies women by having them dress as hookers for TAM 2010, alienates more women: http://skeptopia.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/why-ill-never-return-to-jref-forum-or-the-amazng-meeting/ Apparently, she hasn’t learned her lesson. Nor does she understand the distinction between objectification and and sexual attraction, apparently. And she accuses others of being ignorant of feminism that she learned from an internet site. Check mate.

  506. #506 Stephanie Z
    July 19, 2011

    bluharmony, would you please make up your mind on the coffee. Does it express sexual interest as you’ve said or not? If it does, how is it not objectification to set aside all of Rebecca’s expressed wishes and her context in order to express this sexual interest in such a creepy manner, to ignore her as a person in favor of expressing his interest?

    As for your privilege, it’s only been brought up in the context of you trying to speak for educated women on this topic. Don’t do that, and it’s not an issue. But you keep trying to do that.

  507. #507 hummingbird23
    July 19, 2011

    Why is the onus on men to take the next elevator, or cross the street?

    I don’t dispute the crime & victim statistics that have been brought up, but the way that this has been turned into an obligation is absurd.

    If you are concerned about sexual assault in an elevator with a strange man, don’t enter. That person is not responsible for your admittedly justified fear. If he wishes, he may choose to wait for the next elevator, but if he doesn’t, he’s not an ass.

    Similarly, why is the obligation for the man to cross the street? Because of some crime that he has nebulously been associated with due to his sex? If you cross the street when you know I’m behind you, I won’t take it amiss and claim you’re stereotyping me as a rapist. You’re simply taking action to protect yourself. But establishing a social norm that men alone must constantly, actively, signal to all women in a one-on-one situation that he has no intention of harm by going out of their way to cross the street, take the next elevator, or busy themselves with electronic devices is simply ridiculous.

    I won’t at any point claim that a woman who enters an elevator with a man and gotten raped had it coming. No, no, and no. The responsibility for that lies with the rapist alone, not the woman, not women in general and not with men in general. Do I think its bullshit that clothing etc. is taken into account in judicial decisions? Yes. I’m not defending that, nor am I defending the patriarchal ideas that underpin that kind of idiotic reasoning.

    What I AM defending is the notion that if you feeling something or someone is a threat, you take action. Barring employment or other kind of power preventing you from doing so, the onus is on you to end it or ascertain its truth. If you cross the street and the other person crosses as well, alarm bells might shift into much higher gear and for good reason.

    In no way at all does this trivialise the concerns about sexual assault that women have, according to the statistics provided previously, you’re absolutely free and IMO justified in being wary. You’re just not free to dictate that men in general change their behavior because of some bad apples. Neither does saying that “we” (men) are responsible for rape culture suffice for a justification, three billion human beings are no more responsible as a single entity than the other three billion are.

    As an aside, I think RW did nothing wrong, she said, “that’s creepy, don’t do that”. RD’s comments were outright stupid and heavy criticism directed at him mostly justified.

  508. #508 Raging Bee
    July 19, 2011

    Apparently, she hasn’t learned her lesson. Nor does she understand the distinction between objectification and and sexual attraction, apparently. And she accuses others of being ignorant of feminism that she learned from an internet site. Check mate.

    I guess we can take this paragraph as proof that bluharmony’s attacks on RW are based on personal dislike and/or ideological dispute, and the facts of the EG incident are considerably less important than bluharmony’s need to “win” an argument over what appears (to me at least) to be a separate matter. And, possibly, a slavish loyalty to Dawkins that prevents her from admitting he could ever be wrong.

  509. #509 Raging Bee
    July 19, 2011

    Bloody ‘ell, Greg, you still haven’t deleted that huge ridiculous copy-n-paste comment by John C. Welch? Geez, you couls save yourself some disk space and save us a noticeable bit of download-time as well, without losing any meaningful content.

  510. #510 Giliell
    July 19, 2011

    @Stephanie
    I don’t think she will.
    Because that’s the wonderful ambiguity of the whole affair. And it always plays out in EG’s favour.
    It was only coffee, what are you nasty people thinking.
    You’re just prudes who think that sex is wrong.
    They’d never spoken before, how could he have known?
    He said he found her interesting and wanted to talk, so he wasn’t objectifying her….

    @Hummingbird
    Yes, because not using the elevator really is an option if somebody follows you in there. Apart from the fact that yes, you will be accused of thinking a perfectly normal guy a rapist if you then obviously leave because a man just got on the elevator with you.
    Nobody is dictating you what to do. You are free to overtake women on a lonely dark street, you are allowed to proposition to strange women in elevators.
    Yet women are totally allowed to think you inconsiderate.
    Because it is usually thought polite if the person who causes the discomfort stops it if this only means a small sacrifice on their part.
    You know, I have the unnerving habbit of playing with my hair. If we were to meet and it would annoy you, and you let me know, I would stop it. I have the knowlege and the power to make the world a tiny bit better with very little sacrifice on my side.
    Also the women doing it still hasn’t the same effect. With little effort on your side you can signal “look, I mean you no harm”. She goes home with a little less fright and discomfort, you go home with the reward of kn owing you did a good deed. Win-win.
    If she does it, the signal is “I think you might be a rapist”. She goes home and is still feeling bad, you go home being angry that she thought you might hurt her. lose-lose.
    And yes, your argument leads to the various accusations women face like wearing “sexy clothes”, behaving “stupid” and so on.

  511. #511 Raging Bee
    July 19, 2011

    It was only coffee, what are you nasty people thinking.

    Yeah, that’s what kills me about all of EG’s apologists: even if it wasn’t an attempt to have sex, caffeine at FOUR IN THE BLOODY MORNING is still an incredibly idiotic thing to suggest. That is, in fact, why so many people (not all of us female) are so quick to label such behavior inappropriate and creepy: it’s totally devoid of common sense, and doesn’t even make sense as an attempt to get conversation or sex. The idea that someone would want to have COFFEE at a time when even hardcore partiers are moving toward bed is just laughably inconsiderate of how humans function — as is the idea of a first date at FOUR IN THE BLOODY MORNING — even if there’s no conscious intent to “objectify” anyone.

  512. #512 hummingbird23
    July 19, 2011

    @Giliell

    Exit and wait for the next elevator. Cross the street. The exact same things that you expect the man to do. How does it inconvenience you more than it inconveniences the other person? Accused of thinking a man is a rapist? By who exactly? And how generalizable is that to people in general?

    How does my argument lead to victim blaming? When person A does something to person B which is in violation of the law, no one but person A is to blame. I’ve said as much in my initial post, you might have missed that part.

  513. #513 Giliell
    July 19, 2011

    @Raging Bee
    Yep, I’ve made several people take this “test”. People who didn’t know who RW or RD is or what this whole thing is about. I just gave them the basics : Conference, evening at bar, didn’t spek to each other, 4 am, asked her for coffee in his room”. Every single one said it was about sex.
    When I mention this, I often get “yeah, just because you never heard of it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, coffee means coffee”.
    Yeah, if somebody tells me that John is gay I should think he’s generally cheerful.

    @Hummingbird
    Hmmm, where have you been the last weeks? If you want I’ll dig up the numerous posts all over the internet that say exactly that, that the fact that we are even uncomfortable in such situations means that we think all emn are racist and (my favourite comparisson, I’m not saying you made that) that this was similar to white people fearing black people.
    I tried to explain to you why the perception is different. I also object to putting the whole responsibility on the women again. This translates to many contexts and finally also to women behaving appropriately so they don’t have to fear something might happen.
    The power balance between men and women isn’t even and it’s usually thought that the person who holds more power should be considerate to the person holding less power. That doesn’t mean women are delicate pretty flowers.
    I didn’t say you were comitting “victim blaming”, but your arguments lead down that path.

  514. #514 Stephanie Z
    July 19, 2011

    In short, hummingbird23, the situation is already unequal, with the larger burden on women. You may choose not to do anything to even out that burden (and the individual actions to even the burden may differ–see footnote 4), but that choice maintains that uneven burden.

    Giliell, given that bluharmony asked for a bunch of citations to arguments, then simply restated an argument of hers that had already been dealt with (and the refutation cited) and threw up a new argument rather than acknowledging any of the comments she’d asked for, I have to think you’re dead on.

  515. #515 hummingbird23
    July 19, 2011

    @Giliell & Stephanie

    I’ll take your word for it that it’s a pretty common idea to surface in comments or posts, given that I don’t spend that much time reading about this incident. I disagree with that idea and acknowledge subjective positions of power in confined/deserted spaces, it’s less about the maleness of the person than it is about the potential for harm, if I’m understanding correctly.

    I can agree with context specific behavior within limit, without the “you’re an ass if you pass, even if you’re in a hurry”, or Greg’s “if you don’t know this trick, something’s wrong with you”. That sort of hard social expectation is objectionable to me, there has to be some sort of compromise.

    With that said, where I live the sexual assault statistics do tend to be a lot lower than in the US apparently, although the way that rape victims get treated in the court of public opinion here is at least and often more disgusting as what I’ve heard about over there.

  516. #516 Greg Laden
    July 19, 2011

    Hummingbird, I’ve presented no hard social expectation whatsoever. Nada. I’ve said again and again that context is key, basic guidelines should suggest appropriate behavior, and the whole thing is rather nuanced. I can’t do much about the commetners who retranslate what I wrote into “All menz must crosses the streetz or they iz sexists bozos says Graig Laden Osama Bin.”

    Well, I suppose I could delete all the willfully ignorant bullshit that pervades these 500 plus comments, but I’m busy classifying them into categories of asshatitude for my forthcoming “Encyclopedia of the Misogynist Mind, Illustrated”

  517. #517 bluharmony
    July 19, 2011

    Yes, women who aren’t afraid to walk alone after dark are apparently misogynists or rape-enablers. And so are men who think they have a right to stay on their side of the street and not get fined for jaywalking.

    On the other hand, paternalism and condescension, that’s absolutely fine and dandy.

  518. #518 Stephanie Z
    July 19, 2011

    bluharmony, is it time to start explaining the straw man fallacy now?

  519. #519 pornonymous
    July 19, 2011

    Raging Bee: get over your little stinger will you? Rapeology is actually a branch of wome3n’s studies, and the restis me working with language to create new words–just like when I began using “fauxminists” here several years ago–and my my how that caught on.

    So yeah, little honey sucker wannabe, I am a “Pornoriented amateur rapeologist?” in so many ways, trying to harness the dialectic in a way that you lack imagination for–focused as you are on your little stinger.

    And if you had half a mind instead of a lens full of honey,and a compound eye full of–whatever leaked out of your stinger– you might actually read what I wrote, rather than stop at the fun parts.

    And I bet you missed my rant about the warp-porn and depleted uranium babies http://pornalysis.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/american-child-war-porn/
    , focused as you are with those pollen colored lenses.

  520. #520 pornonymous
    July 19, 2011

    “The idea that someone would want to have COFFEE at a time when even hardcore partiers are moving toward bed is just laughably inconsiderate of how humans function — as is the idea of a first date at FOUR IN THE BLOODY MORNING –”

    Yeah–I got your number: you have never been a hard core partier–I remember mornings full of bloody mary’s AND coffee at the old Uptown bar in Minneapolis with women I met at four a.m.–who were trying to shag me baby [ Austin Powers VO]

    You are so, um, structured/alist in your nature–so, um….likely not young anymore, and , um…kind of out of the loop for how the kids are shtuppin’ each other these days–ever been to a rave? I doubt it.

    This whole debate is like watching old apes try to intervene in the breeding of young apes–to get a little themselves.

    And Greg: I know you are tossing or not answering to repeats etc, and compiling a thesaurus of misandry, but I an seriously trying to ask a class and race question above about sidewalks.

    And if you could point me to your opinion on the chivalry issue” I am reading the latest take on “benevolent chivalry” .pdf re:

    “Writing for the Psychology of Women Quarterly, co-authors Julia Becker and Janet Swim said: “Many men not only lack attention to such incidents but also are less likely to perceive sexist incidents as being discriminatory and potentially harmful for women.”

  521. #521 bluharmony
    July 19, 2011

    @Stephanie “bluharmony, is it time to start explaining the straw man fallacy now?”

    My response was to Greg saying he’s compiling an Encyclopedia of misogyny. Or do you suddenly get to determine what I respond to?

    I replied by saying he didn’t know the definition of misogyny, but I used different words to do it. I know this is hard concept to understand, so sleep on it.

    Classic.

  522. #522 Raging Bee
    July 19, 2011

    …and the rest is me working with language to create new words…

    You mean like Newspeak? Yeah, that’s useful, if you’re either delusional or dishonest, and you want to make up words, define them to suit your own purposes, pretend you’re the final authority on what they mean, and use them to try to control how the rest of us communicate. But why the fuck would the rest of us want to play that silly-assed game, when we already have plenty of already-agreed-upon words we can use? You actually think your own thoughts are so new and original that a centuries-old language is suddenly not good enough to express them?

    Go to bed, boy, the rest of us are perfectly capable of talking about reality with the language we have. And you haven’t contributed squat in any language, old or new. You can stick your head up your ass as far as you want, but we’re not following you there.

  523. #523 pornonymous
    July 20, 2011

    Wow. Lil’ bee has some issues. I need to check through this thread just to make sure I didn’t attract a nutcase.

    But simple short form answer is: language, and meaning EVOLVES, unlike you dusty lil’ bee, your form is pretty much the same as it was millions of years ago.

    But dude, or whatever you are, Newspeak was the language of Orwell’s prediction–and as we sit here ignoring the growth of the prison system, the dropping of depleted uranium on non-white females kids, and discussing one privileged white females experience in an elevator, Newspeak takes on new proportions.

    You must be an advocate of “preemptive war,” including with words, while I am a pro-active amateur linguist who has successfully put the word fauxminist into play.

    I am kind of proud of that, you fauxminist(or merely weird bitter person is better?, and after all Chauvinist wasn’t a word until…um, people like you came along.

    I mean, what is a word if not an invention? A symbol, to someone of something, which then takes on meaning to others, and then meaning to culture at large–a cultural construct.

    Words for example, like, feminist. You can look that up, but once upon a time mean bitter little bee, it wasn’t even a word!

    Such is the nature of “constructing reality” after all–that reality that you claim to be living in was made by someone else, and somebody elses.

    Now go wipe the whatever it is off your pollen soaked lenses, and stick your head back in withering morning primrose, you troll.

    But here is a flower for you that blooms at night!

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6014368268797963848

  524. #524 pornonymous
    July 20, 2011

    And then the biggest clue about the clueless bumbler:

    RB says “I’m no great understander of women, but I do keep hearing that they want partners who are good listeners.”

    Oh. You heard that huh? Wow, you must be a good listener.

    O.K. now back to work inventing new prose for the “great understander”–or should that be “understanderer”?
    Gee, its so complex…

    Nite, now.

  525. #525 Stephanie Z
    July 20, 2011

    So, yes then.

    A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

    This is what you’re doing when you suggest anyone here is defining misgyny as “Yes, women who aren’t afraid to walk alone after dark are apparently misogynists or rape-enablers” when no one has said that. It’s what you’re doing when you say, “And so are men who think they have a right to stay on their side of the street and not get fined for jaywalking,” immediately after a comment of Greg’s that says:

    I’ve presented no hard social expectation whatsoever. Nada. I’ve said again and again that context is key, basic guidelines should suggest appropriate behavior, and the whole thing is rather nuanced. I can’t do much about the commetners who retranslate what I wrote into “All menz must crosses the streetz or they iz sexists bozos says Graig Laden Osama Bin.”

    It’s also what you’re doing when you say, “On the other hand, paternalism and condescension, that’s absolutely fine and dandy,” without having even attempted to answer my question in comment 491 asking you who had said anything of the sort was fine. Your entire comment was arguing against straw men that exist only in your head.

  526. #526 hummingbird23
    July 20, 2011

    Greg, could you then explain this section of what you wrote then?

    [quote]All men. ALL men who have given sufficient consideration to women’s position in our society do this walking trick. If you are a man and you do not know about this trick then there is a problem with you.”[/quote]

    Is this or is this not a case of hard social expectation? To clarify, I do not agree with bluharmony nor many of those commenters you’ve referred to.

  527. #527 bluharmony
    July 20, 2011

    @Stephanie Would you like me to explain “sarcasm”? GET A DICTIONARY. And share with your friends. :)

  528. #528 bluharmony
    July 20, 2011

    @Stephanie “bluharmony, would you please make up your mind on the coffee. Does it express sexual interest as you’ve said or not? If it does, how is it not objectification to set aside all of Rebecca’s expressed wishes and her context in order to express this sexual interest in such a creepy manner, to ignore her as a person in favor of expressing his interest?”

    Your lot is the one with the mind reading abilities. I was just offering alternatives, and trying to show that no matter what, you’re still wrong. But given no other evidence we have to take him at his word, so coffee it is.

  529. #529 bluharmony
    July 20, 2011

    Oh, and it’s straw person. Stop sexualizing it.

  530. #530 Stephanie Z
    July 20, 2011

    Actually, bluharmony, what you’re doing is saying no matter what, it didn’t happen the way Rebecca said it did. You’re rewriting her story in Elevator Guy’s favor. Do you get why this is anti-woman yet?

    As for sarcasm, I don’t think it’s used the way you seem to want to use it. Unless you agree that Greg is correct to find heaps of misgyny in this thread, you’re doing it wrong.

  531. #531 Greg Laden
    July 20, 2011

    hummingbird23, where is the social rule here? there isn’t one. I’m talking about the difference between men who get it and men who don’t. This is not about rules, it is about consideration of one’s place in society as a matter of observation, reflection, understanding, and active feminism.

    Why is this distraction you are creating of interest to you?

  532. #532 Elizabeth
    July 20, 2011

    Many, if not most, educated women feel like me.

    No we do not. First, most honest educated women do not create strawmen to argue against. Second most educated women stand with each other on issues of sexism and feminism when they are as obvious as this. Please do not pretend to speak for me. If I want that I will hire you as my lawyer. Don’t hold your breath.

  533. #533 bluharmony
    July 20, 2011

    @ Stephanie:

    sarcasm (särkzm)
    n.
    A cutting, often ironic remark.

    ironyˈ(īrənē)
    n.
    The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

    I meant the opposite of what I said, so that’s exactly how sarcasm works. Please, invest in a dictionary.

    I take Rebecca’s words at face value. Unless you’re a mind-reader, you have no idea what was in EG’s head. How hard is that to understand? We can’t read minds, and neither can Rebecca.

    And no, I’m squarely an equity feminist; your brand of feminism is dogmatic, unscientific, illogical, full of lies, and damaging to both men and women. And I’m certainly not anti-woman, but you would know best. (That’s sarcasm, see definition above.)

  534. #534 bluharmony
    July 20, 2011

    @Elizabeth: Many does not mean all or even most. And I speak for no one but myself, as explained above. And who are you speaking for with your “we”? All women? Ah, the irony.

  535. #535 Elizabeth
    July 20, 2011

    bluharmony, I take it you are a contract lawyer and not a litigator.

    Your opinion is not only untenable and incorrect is is also in the minority among “educated” women. Get with the new wave, lady.

  536. #536 Stephanie Z
    July 20, 2011

    See, bluharmony, there you go saying it didn’t happen the way Rebecca said. What would we women do without educated old-wave feminists like you to tell us women can’t tell when they’re being hit on? Even when it is, as you’ve said, perfectly normal in such situations for men to hit on women. Are you even paying attention to yourself?

    Also, if you were using sarcasm correctly, we’re simply back to the fact that you were arguing against things no one has said.

    Would you care to specify what it is about post-colonial feminism that’s any of the things you’ve said? Do you really want to try to defend the proposition that historical inequalities aren’t built into the social structures that have been handed down to us?

  537. #537 bluharmony
    July 20, 2011

    @Elizabeth: I don’t deny that it’s very prevalent in universities and in government, but I prefer to make my own political decisions. I support most of the feminist agenda, but I don’t accept the notions patriarchy or female oppression. I’m happy to discuss this further, if you’re interested. :)

  538. #538 bluharmony
    July 20, 2011

    I wasn’t making an argument. I was making a sarcastic comment.

    “Do you really want to try to defend the proposition that historical inequalities aren’t built into the social structures that have been handed down to us?”

    Maybe to some extent, but I think there are other key factors at play.

  539. #539 Stephanie Z
    July 20, 2011

    So, no, you’re not listening to yourself, you responded to Greg without any intention for your sarcasm to mean anything, you think inequalities are built into the system but don’t believe in the patriarchy, and you don’t want to specify what’s unscientific, etc. about post-colonial feminism. Got it now.

  540. #540 Elizabeth
    July 20, 2011

    what she said

  541. #541 bluharmony
    July 20, 2011

    Stephanie: Who said I don’t want to show what’s unscientific about it? Stop putting words in my mouth. Then again, I forgot, you can read minds. Glad you can think for yourself Elizabeth. But Stephanie didn’t know what “sarcasm” meant or the difference between an ad hominem attack and the ad hominem fallacy. So yeah, follow that leader.

    Also, stop rambling, Steph. My sarcasm was directed at the fact that Greg is dismissive of women like me in the name of feminism, and doesn’t know what misogyny means. So it had exactly the context I intended it to have — as a response to his assertion about the misogynistic comments on his board. He said, look at all these misogynists. I said, you don’t know what the word “misogynist” means. But seriously, your limited vocabulary and lack of reading comprehension skills are not my problem.

  542. #542 Rging Bee
    July 20, 2011

    But given no other evidence we have to take him at his word, so coffee it is.

    Right. And if I say “Greg Laden is gay,” everyone has to assume I’m only saying he has a happy disposition, because there’s absolutely no evidence I was referring to sex or sexual orientation. And if Greg takes offense at being called gay, he’s just wildly overreacting and misreading my perfectly unambiguous and harmless assertion. bluharmony, are you really that naive about how people use words, or is this something you have to do to maintain your pointness pretense that RW must be wrong no matter what?

    …your brand of feminism is dogmatic, unscientific, illogical, full of lies, and damaging to both men and women.

    Stephanie’s “brand of feminism,” as evidenced here at least, is a hell of a lot more sensible and honest than what we’re hearing from you. Not that that’s saying much; but your credibility suffers, both from your false (and hyocritical) accusations of “ad hominem” this-that-and-the-other, and from the tired old anti-feminist axe-grinding that lards up every argument you try to make. The fact that you can’t make or respond to factual and logical claims without constant reference to the “feminist” and “feminism” labels, pretty much proves you’re arguing with the boogeybitches in your head, not with any real people here.

    Seriously, folks, feminists have never been saints, and they’ve never been 100% right about everything; but the hateful attacks against “feminism” I’ve been hearing since the ’60s have always been downright demented and unhinged (or, at best, junior-high mouth-breathers making fun of female attributes), and the critics’ issues have always seemed more psychiatric than socio-political. I’d recommend psychiatric help, but there aren’t enough psychiatrists to deal with the load.

  543. #543 Stephanie Z
    July 20, 2011

    bluharmony, holler when you have something to say that’s more on-topic than, “You people aren’t worth all these words and time I’m spending on you.”

  544. #544 Raging Bee
    July 20, 2011

    bluharmony, if you’re still having trouble with the “coffee” thing, here’s what another commenter said here earlier:

    Yep, I’ve made several people take this “test”. People who didn’t know who RW or RD is or what this whole thing is about. I just gave them the basics : Conference, evening at bar, didn’t spek to each other, 4 am, asked her for coffee in his room”. Every single one said it was about sex.

    See, out here in the real world, words are often used ambiguously, especially in matters of sex, for a variety of reasons too numerous and complex to describe adequately here; and people tend to understand this. Your pig-headed refusal to admit this fact — which I’ve been at least vaguely aware of since high school — is just plain comical and beyond ridiculous. Do you really think you even sound plausible saying what you’re saying?

    Calm down, get over yourself, get over your grudge against RW and whoever else, and try to take a mature look at what you’ve written here. Do you really think it makes sense?

  545. #545 Mu
    July 20, 2011

    The change in what constitutes (according to Dear Feminist Abby) correct behavior towards women from my time in college (about 25 years ago) to today is amazing. Feminists used to demand that we treated them just the same as the guys, giving them extra space to not feel threatened would have been considered extremely sexist as in “are you calling us weak”?

  546. #546 Jeff
    July 20, 2011

    Greg, that was the best analysis of this kind of situation ever made, so congratulations. I’ve noticed how women tense up in elevator situations before, but you have raised my consciousness a notch to where I will not get into one if it’s a woman by herself. The same with walking down a deserted street at night: that doesn’t happen often around here but crossing the street would indeed show some courtesy.

    I grew up around Lake Minnetonka in the 50s and 60s where assaulting any woman was simply unthinkable, and had to get used to the idea that in the big city that does happen and the menfolk need to adjust to the idea. The guys who are calling this “no big deal” are embarrassingly clueless!

    I thought Rebecca was doing the right thing by mentioning the encounter, and she did it in a very straightforward and non-hysterical way. The hysteria came later, from those who didn’t get the point.

  547. #547 pornonymous
    July 20, 2011

    Bluharmony, keep up the good fight–these dogmatists are the reason why communists kill all the intellectuals.

    And remember: these Minnesota folks are the people who created MacKinnon, so they are beyond the scope of discussion equity– and these same stood solidly behind the eugenics movement of Dight when that was popular–hell Greg even works in the hallowed halls of Dights alma mater.

    On the fauxminist bingo board, men with actual knowledge of the abuse that women perpetrate–not on huge grown men who are potential rapists, but the violence that women perpetrate on little boys who can’t speak for themselves–is dismissed as men having “mother issues,” rather than an acknowledgement of womens violence and power-rape.

    And this is an example of a dialectic power-rape.

  548. #548 Greg Laden
    July 20, 2011

    Greg even works in the hallowed halls of Dights alma mater

    I do?

  549. #549 pornonymous
    July 20, 2011

    Wow…see how bad I gotta act just to get your attention?

    O.K. I don’t know if it’s his med-school(I think he went to Hamline before its med school merged with the U of MN)alma mater, but his legacy is all over that place.

    I wonder if the dismissal of male voices isn’t part of the roots of rape culture…

    But, yeah, or at least you used to if you work at the U of MN., which is also the procurer…er…curator of Hitlers twins studies, right?

    http://www.mnhs.org/library/tips/history_topics/117eugenics.html

    And you never answered my legit, non-trolling, non-denying question up there about chivalry–benevolent chivalry.

    And just for that, I am going to go corner some woman in an elevator and say absolutely nothing at all for ten floors–how creepy would that be??!!

  550. #550 pornonymous
    July 20, 2011

    Wow…see how bad I gotta act just to get your attention?

    O.K. I don’t know if it’s his med-school(I think he went to Hamline before its med school merged with the U of MN)alma mater, but his legacy is all over that place.

    I wonder if the dismissal of male voices isn’t part of the roots of rape culture…

    But, yeah, or at least you used to if you work at the U of MN., which is also the procurer…er…curator of Hitlers twins studies, right?

    http://www.mnhs.org/library/tips/history_topics/117eugenics.html

    And you never answered my legit, non-trolling, non-denying question up there about chivalry–benevolent chivalry.

    And just for that, I am going to go corner some woman in an elevator and say absolutely nothing at all for ten floors–how creepy would that be??!!

  551. #551 pornonymous
    July 20, 2011

    Wow…see how bad I gotta act just to get your attention?

    O.K. I don’t know if it’s his med-school(I think he went to Hamline before its med school merged with the U of MN)alma mater, but his legacy is all over that place.

    I wonder if the dismissal of male voices isn’t part of the roots of rape culture…

    But, yeah, or at least you used to if you work at the U of MN., which is also the procurer…er…curator of Hitlers twins studies, right?

    http://www.mnhs.org/library/tips/history_topics/117eugenics.html

    And you never answered my legit, non-trolling, non-denying question up there about chivalry–benevolent chivalry.

    And just for that, I am going to go corner some woman in an elevator and say absolutely nothing at all for ten floors–how creepy would that be??!!

  552. #552 Raging Bee
    July 21, 2011

    Bluharmony, keep up the good fight–these dogmatists are the reason why communists kill all the intellectuals.

    pornonymous, the incoherence of your comments is matched only by their irrelevance. How’s that making-up-new-words thing working out for you?

  553. #553 pornonymous
    July 21, 2011

    Greg–sorry about the triple post there; I didn’t realize you were under a DOS attack.

    Raging Bee, dude, or whatever you are: I apologize for sending you the fading evening primrose last night, I thought you were biology, or animal kingdom savvy with a moniker like raging b–and then I realized that raging bee is a synonym for raging bitch, as you serve no purpose other than to signify what has already been signified by others–you are a signal repeater.

    I mean, you’re not even a fauxminist or a mangina ( that last one isn’t mine, sadly…)–you are so irrelevant, and repetetive.

    I noticed your posts elsewhere, and how substance-less they are. I mean, what, do you write your bile in between dying the grey out of your hair and watching Oprah reruns?

    You, with no substance or statement other than re-statement of what others have said–you are the “norm,” that lowly, ordinary thing that let us get into that whole middle east thing.

    You are a thing–an Oprafied troll suffering from rapeosis, due to imbibing this type of rhetoric on a regular basis–there already IS a word for you.And you probably have gynorhea from all of your consorting with such flawed and divisive rhetoric.

    Sorry lil’ b, but even parthenogenesis isn’t going to save the world from your aged rhetoric, or let the new world be free of the type of man-hate that is so evident in this gynotopia of blogspaces.

    But, yes, it is going well, thank you. And how are you? Wait: you already told me how dull your existence is.

    And please stop stalking me–I noticed how your last comments followed me from one of Greg’s posts to the other, in rapid succession.I am feeling afraid right now…it must be YOUR fault.

    And I, for my part, being responsible to my own feelings, will avoid you from now on in other forums where I encounter your name–but I might talk about you, use you as an example, and point to your inanely ordinary sycophantic agreement–because in my estimation, you are just a tool ( not my invention either)

  554. #554 Giliell
    July 21, 2011

    Jeff:

    Greg, that was the best analysis of this kind of situation ever made, so congratulations. I’ve noticed how women tense up in elevator situations before, but you have raised my consciousness a notch to where I will not get into one if it’s a woman by herself

    As Greg said, it’s a matter of situation. I live in a multi-story building, the elevator is my daily bread, so I’m much more relaxed about them than a lot of people are in general. The fact that this is “home” also matters. There are people here I know. I don’t expect my neighbours to wait for the next one (OK, they could still be “bad guys”, but after some years you get to know them).
    Maybe just give them time to choose. Tardy a little, let them go ahead. Tie your shoe-laces. If she keeps the door from shutting, that’s a sure sign she’s ok with you joining her.
    On the elevator, that is.

  555. #555 Raging Bee
    July 21, 2011

    So…our “pornoriented amateur rapeologist” has nothing to offer but pompous name-calling. Why am I not surprised? Don’t let the sound of our yawns hit your ass on the way out, boy…

  556. #556 Marnie
    July 21, 2011

    I wonder if the dismissal of male voices isn’t part of the roots of rape culture…

    This might be the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Rape is mentioned at least as far back as biblical times when women were quite literally barred from having any say in anything in our out of their home. Women were property, not people. If she were raped, she was either killed or forced to marry her rapist. They had no representation in government or religion, they were nothing. But sure, it’s all women’s fault they get raped because men can’t help but rape them. Let’s burn them all as witches while we’re at it.

    Sorry, I know feeding the trolls is pointless, but man alive that was GOLDEN.

  557. #557 Raging Bee
    July 21, 2011

    Marnie, you think that’s golden? Check out ERV’s post on this subject, where the latest wave of clueless mansplainers are now saying that women who try to assess, anticipate and avoid threats to their safety are violating the 14th Amendment. Guess that means you chicks need a Federal judge to rule on the Constitutionality of your personal safety precautions. Or something.

  558. #558 pornonymous
    July 21, 2011

    Hi Marnie, and thanks for your ridicule. That’s exactly what the world needs more of right now–ridiculous female complaints about what Jews did to other Jews back there, some few millennium ago.

    Cool. Now go talk to them Jews about it–do you have a rabbi? GET ONE, AND THEN COMPLAIN TO HIM ABOUT YOUR HYPOTHETICAL STRAW WIG.

    And since citing ancient cultures is so popular in the feminist rhetoric, why don’t we go back a bit farther, say, um that point in history where chimps, bonobos, and the human ape merged, mated, or split or whatever–did you get more bonobo genes? Did I get more chimp?

    Let’s see: you advocate a matriarchal culture full of ass kissing ‘fuckers’, and you accuse me of advocating a culture full of fighters.

    But see, had you mosied on over to my blog, you might notice that I am stuck between you chimpobos, and trying to find something that you all ain’t found yet.

    Bonobos fuck to solve their problems, chimps fight. I am neither.

    And, if any of you knee jerk bonobos had an ounce of sense, you would take responsibility for your part in rape culture–but you don’t.

    Which almost leads me–almost–to hope you get raped sometime, just to give you a clue about what it feels like.

    Until then, men who suffer violence from women will continue to rape; and I might add that I would gladly trade one of you for a Congolese rape victim.You belong over there, she belongs over here.

    Get it?

    Now here’s a bit of what the real issue is for you–from something that I have been writing for quite awhile:

    “But let me give you a clue about things that I am not alone in feeling, remembering, or experiencing as a YOUNG male, before I had to re-experience women’s rape anxiety and its projections, and its violence perpetrated against MY voice, I am certain I was raped dozens of times before the age of ten: If I NEVER have another auntie “hug me” while smashing her double D’s so deeply in my face that I literally could not breathe, and then pinch my cheek so hard that it hurt, I will be a man who can hear you; If I never have another woman stand there and shame me with my pants down or my red-slapped face in a corner because she ran out of language to discuss spilled milk with a four year old, I will get it; If I never have to see the neighbor woman fondling her sons penis through the crack in the door, while she “babysits” me, I can learn to listen to you; and if I never ever have another woman pinch the tip of my dick so hard that I cry–because I wet myself at three, I will understand your fears; and if I never ever have to face that wall, or stay in my room for a whole day because what I said about mom and the post man in front of dad, I will hear you, too.

    But for now, I have had enough of talking about rape anxiety, and not hearing about the horrors that little boys face when they are too small to rape, or fight against the female rapists that raise them.

    And I sincerely hope you can learn to listen too, and put your fear and rage aside long enough to actually begin to solve the problem that creates rapists. You know, after all, some 30% to 80% of rapists report that they were sexually and physically abused by women when they were little boys. You can look the stat up yourself; I am done baby sitting your rape anxiety–that is if you actually care about the issue, and aren’t just “rambling on” to get attention.

  559. #559 pornonymous
    July 21, 2011

    And Marnie, labeling me a troll? What a cowardly sniping and demeaning thing to say to someone who is trying to substantively address an issue. I mean, who teaches people like you that such verbal abuse is o.k.? What creates a “you”?

    I think the Congo is calling you–after all, they need more women to rape, and you need to know what rape REALLY is–then I could listen to one of you; we could have something in common.

    Until then, you are like a radio with a bad signal: lots of static, and only the faintest drizzle of music.

    Perhaps it is your fading youth overlapping your desire to make a difference.

  560. #560 pornonymous
    July 21, 2011

    Oh: and ArBy, I am pretty much done with you, k? You have NOTHING to add here that hasn’t been said, noted, reflected upon or otherwise discussed by others.

    Any new data? Anything other than name calling? Otherwise, I will consider you a stalker, and not a very clever one either.

    You old lame fucktard.

  561. #561 Marnie
    July 22, 2011

    Pornonymous, I label you a troll because you make wildly idiotic and aggressive statements and try to bait people into ridiculous debates. I don’t even know what a straw wig is. You said that women caused the rape culture, I laughed because
    1. rape is at least as old as recorded human history
    2. you blame the victim

    I can either get righteously indignant that you honestly believe that women deserve to be raped and that the reason they deserve to be raped is because they demand to be treated as equals and because of that demand (a demand many men agree with) they have somehow robbed men of their privileged status and those men must now rape.

    Or I can assume you just love getting people all angry, and just as I would laugh at the guy who flashes people in the park, maybe if laugh at you, the game won’t be so fun and you’ll take your ball and go home.

  562. #562 Copyleft
    July 22, 2011

    “Your behavior bothers me; therefore, it bothers all people in my demographic, and you and all people in YOUR demographic have an obligation to stop doing it, ever. And if you refuse or even question this, you’re a bigoted asshole.”

    Let me know when that argument gets persuasive.

  563. #563 Jason Thibeault
    July 22, 2011

    You know, after all, some 30% to 80% of rapists report that they were sexually and physically abused by women when they were little boys.

    That’s a hell of a range. From a minority to a majority. Do kindly provide the link to your source rather than saying “you can look that up yourself”.

    If not, one can also assume that the error bars on those statistics are the size of your rectum.

    Because getting into another flame war with The Real Meme is exactly what I want to do right now.

  564. #564 Raging Bee
    July 22, 2011

    Bonobos fuck to solve their problems, chimps fight. I am neither.

    No, you don’t really do ANYTHING to solve problems. And while I sympathize with the truly horrid experiences you just mentioned (if they really are true, which is not at all certain when it’s you doing the mentioning), they’re not an excuse for being an incoherent dick and refusing to act like a grownup who actually wants to solve (or at least honestly describe) a problem.

    Which almost leads me–almost–to hope you get raped sometime, just to give you a clue about what it feels like.

    Another victim of abuse becoming an abuser (or at least an abuser-wannabee). Yeah, that’s really a proven and effective way to stop physical abuse. Thanks for showing up those dumb feminists with your superior compassion, moron.

    You know, after all, some 30% to 80% of rapists report that they were sexually and physically abused by women when they were little boys.

    I agree with Jason here — that’s a suspiciously huge range, and it’s probably resulting from wildly differing interpretations of what, exactly, constitutes “sexually and physically abused.” Or that, at least, is the charitable interpretation. Here’s some less charitable guesses: either your statistics are bogus, or you don’t know how to interpret them.

    More importantly, however, none of that justifies treating women like crap, or scapegoating them for things they DIDN’T do; any more than male abuse justifies treating men like crap. I’m sure the feminists — yes, even the “radical” ones — would agree that child-abuse is bad, and should be stopped by any reasonable means, whether or not it causes rape. (FWIW, I don’t remember a single “feminist” condoning anything like the abuse pornonymous describes.)

  565. #565 INTP
    July 22, 2011

    For Greg: First off, when I saw R. Watson’s video, I agreed with her mostly. I think the EG should have been more mindful of the context and her boundaries. I understand how Watson would feel uncomfortable receiving an advance in a situation like that.

    However, I think you go a bit too far here in asserting what the proper role should be with men’s behaviour towards women. I also resent the notion that there’s a “problem with [me]” if I disagree with you regarding your crossing-the–street trick. One thing that’s turned me off about this whole debate are divisive attitudes like “if you don’t agree with my, you’re my enemy” or “you’re a misogynist, narcissist, gender-traitor, etc… because you don’t think the way I do.”

    Greg, what do you think of women who disagree with your approach? In addition to men, do you really think there’s a “problem” with women who don’t agree with you? Are they “gender traitors” as some have kindly put it? For instance, see this post
    from Miranda ’s blog, by a female commenter:

    In particular, one that made me want to either throw up or face-palm so violently that I lost consciousness, was the idea that the sensitive, feminist-aware male should cross over to the opposite side of the street, on spotting an unaccompanied woman so as not to alarm, intimidate or upset the lone female.

    Seriously, this is the epitome of a 100 years of feminism? Treating women like helpless, infantile victims?

    Thanks, but no thanks. I expect men to treat me like an equal, not like a half-witted invalid.

    Anyways, if I was in the street situation you mentioned, I would not employ your trick. I believe in being a gentleman, but I refuse to accept the idea that men must treat women as victims and that they should go out of their way to tiptoe around them to avoid alarming them. When I’m in those situations, mind my own business, respect her boundaries, and I don’t think anything else is required.

    If you really think I’m a “misogynist” for thinking that way, then perhaps I’m not the one with the “problem.”

  566. #566 Greg Laden
    July 22, 2011

    INTP, I suspect both you and the commenter you mention did not grow up in my neighborhood.

  567. #567 pornonymous
    July 22, 2011

    O.K.–this whole scienceblogs hold the post, and selectively post thing is getting tiresome, Greg.

    Holding posts in cue? That is soooo not Greg Laden, the way I remember you. It interrupts the flow of conversation, and paints an entirely untrue POV. It is prior restraint in civilian form. My, My how deeply you have internalized, and personalized and ‘embodied’ the assault on the Constitution…

    And really–holding posts in cue makes the thread kind of not viable for me anymore. If anyone wants to throw more shit on my POV, do it at my censorship free blog.

    RB, like I said, if you get any more insulting than you have been ( and remember, as usual, you threw shit first)I have nothing to say to you.

    You don’t exist. You are lost in the 80’s with a line up your nose and some bitches phoney dick in your ass( was that adult enough for you? Try reading your own useless, repepetetive and insulting shit sometime–it goes nowhere),and if you want a substantive response, I will give *you* one: unlike yourself, I am not here to please, teach, address, or discuss anything with feminists. Get that through your head.They are too enmeshed(look that word up in the dictionary of psychological terms).

    However, once in awhile, I meet women who want to share data, discuss, or otherwise share time and conversation.Ironically those strong, engaging, enlightening women often have stories of actually being raped,and other “TRUE STORIES of DANGER!!” to talk about, rather than metaphors from the mouth of the monolith.

    You done like my use of words, re: “almost makes me wanna”? You obviously haven’t read what they wanna, and what they ARE doing, and ARE saying.

    @”(if they really are true,”….wow.

    Ruminate on that wannabe feminist, ruminate on that. I mean, have you ever read any feminist literature? If you had, you would get that point probably more than any other.

    Child abuse is feminisms dirty secret, especially maternal sexual abuse of daughters (women tend to molest girls), and how hard so-called feminists work to NOT discuss it, and how hard feminists work to NOT define maternal abuse.

    Go here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxv6R9fUO74

    And then read the literature on that topic, and the nature of women’s orgasms while breastfeeding; then read what the PsyD.s say about it..Then we can talk. But feminist condone this sort of abuse.

    @”I don’t remember a single “feminist” condoning anything like the abuse pornonymous describes”

    You obviously haven’t waded into the tragic feminist heroine Ann Sexton. Give her child molesting ass a go, and then go take a long walk in the mountains with a pistol, and pick yourself some wild hollow points.Or get involved.

    I mean, you claim to have knowledge about the “60’s” etc.–I personally love some of what Nikki Craft was all about; but why does male anger about similar themes challenge you so much? I mean, how did Abu Ghraib sit with you? What are you doing about depleted uranium babies?

    Dude, peace and love and protect the flower children as long as they are women and all that, but really–2.3 million men in prison?

    That bothers me a bit, how bout you? But geez, Iget it with elevators–what decent man doesn’t?

  568. #568 Greg Laden
    July 23, 2011

    pornonymous, I’m not going to read your comment right now because I’m busy and annoyed. I will explain briefly and in a way that makes you look like an ass and feel bad for the rest of the day. (Working on my Minnesota Nice here.)

    I’m out of town. I have limited internet access, distracting outdoor work to do, its raining, I can’t find my keys and there is a toddler. Therefore I have been checking my backlog only once or twice a day.

    Meanwhile, because of this whole discussion of sexism in the skeptics community, I’ve enraged a number of people who have taken to making lots of very inappropriate comments on this blog, sometimes signing my name to them, and carrying out other nasty activities. This has been happening in my email as well. So I’ve got things cranked up a bit as far as moderation goes.

    There is NO selective moderation unless you count deleting posts such as those that say “I drink my own pee” signed Greg Laden as selective. I am not deleting comments that I merely disagree with. Why should I? I love those comments. When they appear on my blog they are mine, forever, to use as examples, point to, ridicule, whatever.

    YOU on the other hand may be more part of the problem rather than the solution. Did you notice that your name is “Porn” something? I’m pretty sure your comments are being moderated by the Big System that finds spam before it even gets to my in box. You might consider changing your name if you don’t want to get harassed by Internet Nannies.

    So there.

  569. #569 Raging Bee
    July 23, 2011

    pornonymous, both Jason and I raised a FACTUAL objection to your so-called statistics; and you ignored it while pretending I was only insulting you (after several comments of yours containing nothing but insults). Whatever real injustices you’re on about, you’re not the one to talk about them, because you have no credibility.

    Oh, and my comments were held in moderation too, sometimes for HOURS. You’re not being censored, so cut the pompous self-pity.

  570. #570 bluharmony
    July 23, 2011

    For all my my experiences on this issue when I happened to hold the minority views: (E.g., women are equal, they’re not generally afraid of men, and men are not beasts), Greg has let every one of my comments stand; even the nasty unreasonable ones. He deserves nothing but credit in this regard, since so many boards (Skepchick, Amanda, etc.) delete, and often ban, anyone who disagrees. Otherwise, I mostly agree with you pornonymous.

    Same to be said for PZ. I love the man. He lets the conversations on his forums go on. He’s a friend, and I admire him in many way. We follow each other on twitter. He’s been kind enough to promote my work, I understand why he’s standing for Rebecca, and I see him as nothing as a true and loyal friend to both of us.

    Please give Greg, and everyone else a break. Greg may be wrong about some things (we all are), but he means well. He’s a good man.

    Now, back to the flame wars. I’m ready to be attacked just because someone else isn’t familiar with English vocabulary or doesn’t understand nuance.

  571. #571 bluharmony
    July 23, 2011

    @pornonymous:

    “Bluharmony, keep up the good fight–these dogmatists are the reason why communists kill all the intellectuals.”

    As I mentioned before, I love the irony of men silencing (what appears to be the majority of female voices outside this insular, Rebecca-worshiping community, in the name of Feminism. Objectifying a womyn isn’t what she says it is; even among radfems, it has a real meaning, and what happened to Rebecca isn’t it, because absolutely nothing happened to Rebecca. If she’s afraid of riding a life in a secured four-story hotel, then that fear is irrational, and she should deal with it in therapy. Bottom line. There’s no reason we need to discuss it.

    As for radical feminism in skepticism, it is totally inappropriate, as is any other set of dogmatic beliefs not supported by evidence. Clearly. And I am a feminist; I just like to consider what’s best for women and what isn’t before spouting party lines. The day old white privileged educated men start telling me what’s best for me, it’s no longer feminism; it’s the opposite, and it scares me to death.

    It’s an insult, to real victims of rape, like me, that someone like Rebecca is making money (as she bragged on her facebook page) from our horrifying experiences — though as is common in these circumstances, the rapes were not a result of “stranger danger.”

    Shame on Rebecca for making money off of those who have been seriously abused. Like me. Like Dawkins. Like Rose St. Clair.

    And as a final note, the chance of being raped in a downtown, four-story, post, secured hotel in the center of Dublin is just about as great as the chance of being hit by lightning.

    But go on with the hysteria. It suits you.

  572. #572 pornonymous
    July 23, 2011

    OK, Greg: I can hear the from you. Yeah, there is something in a name, although no other blogs hold it like yours does….hehehe

    RB: Let me get right to the point: You are a flat out liar.

    It is impossible to even have rational conversation with people like you or Thibeault who are unnacountable for their behavior.

    Read all the way to the top of the post, where I asked very reasonable, well intentioned, civil, and frankly honest decent questions.@473, 493, 495 etc.–and not of you, butto Greg.

    Then read down to EVERY single comment that was made by any detractor here, you, Marnie, etc.

    Not one of you addressed the substance of any of my four previous posts up there, which not only were civil and friendly in tone, but also rational attempts to fit into a conversation.

    See how that works? You acted like an asshole first, as did Thibeault, Marnie, etc. What is wrong with you people, starting with not one of you addressing me civilly AFTER my four attempts–which went unaddressed–to make conversation?

    Really–those are the facts. What you are doing is LYING, which I take to be a general statement of your character. Jason’s bullying behavior goes without saying–we expect that from him: he is a bully, with nothing of substance, lots of game theory, and ONLY a desire to sound impressive.He is a social retard.

    So don’t lay your bullshit on me. I merely responded to all of you in kind, with extra emphasis on mean.

    And you still haven’t done the homework, and actually looked atthe data–what is you all are afraid of? I mean, the head of Utah’s sex offender program is pretty solid opinion, isn’t it?

    which puts you solidly in the category of “blowhard” and suck harder.

    Marnie,same goes for you–I mean, why is my question about packs of women walking down the sidewalk not germane? Why is asking about the difference between groups of white women on sidewalks versus other women on sidewalks NOT germane?

    You people are irrational in the least, and never even addressed the valid substance of my query. What are you scared of white woman?

    And straw wigs are what orthodox women wear after they shave their hair off…

  573. #573 bluharmony
    July 23, 2011

    @Raging Bee — I don’t have a problem with you. Re: ad hominems, I didn’t bring it up. But since’s it’s become an issue, a simple ad nominem is simply an attack against the person. The logical fallacy results when you rest your argument on the characteristics of a person, and nothing more. It’s that simple. All a asked for is for Steph to stock attacking me instead of responding to my arguments, a perfectly legitimate use of nonspecific ad hominems. Now, let’s let it be. I find Steph’s inability to understand sarcasm or strawmen far more problematic. Please not another word about this, it’s pointless. She thinks she’s right unless someone other than me explains it to her. (She even said all English language dictionaries are bogus.)

    As for the remarks of the guy in the elevator, since they had nothing to do with sex, and included phrases like “don’t take this the wrong way,” “I find you very interesting,” and “Would you like to talk more (implying that they have talked before” — I can’t conclude that this is sexual advance without further info. It may or may not be, but since I’m not a mind reader, I can’t tell. It’s as simple as that. That’s what the application of skepticism would lead is to conclude. Not what someone else thought he said on the basis of his innocuous comments, especially when she needed an anecdote for her presentation. Even Rebecca, in her blog, states that she doesn’t know what EG meant, and it could have been just coffee. If, on the other hand, we think that it was a proposition, we’re stereotyping all men with the notion that all they want is sex. That’s sexist. And just because Feminism Blog 101 wants to eliminate “reverse sexism” from it’s discussion, that still contradicts what all dictionaries and wiki say.

    Finally, and most egregiously, I didn’t like Rebecca’s attacks on Stef (who was right) and Dawkins (who was inexcusable rude, but right). Those were, in my opinion, were unjustified and an abuse of privilege, especially in Stef’s case. They were also untrue and based on the most fringe of the hundreds different threads of feminism.

    I am a feminist. I fight for abortion rights, better rape laws, the ERA, and even minor issues, such as the cost of laundering female shirts over male. But apparently I’m supposed to keep my mouth shut because some prominent “feminist” men tell me to do so? That’s ironic, and even scary. Feminism is a human movement, and should be lead by women. And based to obvious biological differences, it should entail the freedom of self-determination (as opposed to public shaming for not toeing the party line). We have much too learn about the physiological difference between and women. Although I believe that all should have equal rights, I’m willing and eager to learn.

    This post isn’t meant to vilify anyone (with a giggle at Stephanie, perhaps), just a request to consistently apply skepticism to feminism. It’s this latter issue that has so many of us so upset.

    I am also a mixed economy socialist and a humanist. I think that a welfare state that includes an opportunity for success would to a lot to alleviate the problems we’re discussing today.

    Oh, attack away, you bastions of maturity. I’m ready.

  574. bluHarmony, I read through your argument, and I want you to know that I support what you are saying, and will take note of your commentary elsewhere.

    I also wonder about the flames between Steph and you.

    If you back way up to her initial response to your initial post, she mad a comment about your education to the effect that ‘women with your education should have no trouble picking a man off the street.’

    I might be the only one, but I would read that comment as inferring that you are a hooker–very cleverly worded, but debasing as well, in its context to class and privilege, and what ‘type’ of woman would even imagine any other options than the limiting discussion presented here.

  575. #575 bluharmony
    July 24, 2011

    Thanks, Faux. Mainly I just got the impression that Stephanie didn’t know what she was talking about. Even the most basic concepts confused her. And in the end, I can’t blame her for that. In her case, I don’t even think even it’s a matter of education. What I said may have been mean, but it’s true, and beyond that, it’s over her head. .

    Again, thanks. These people sure love to attack different points of view with not desire for discussion or learning. It’s very sad. So much for skepticism and critical thinking.

  576. #576 Marnie
    July 24, 2011

    @P**nonymous

    Marnie,same goes for you–I mean, why is my question about packs of women walking down the sidewalk not germane?

    Honestly, I don’t know what you are asking. You said:

    4) are packs of white women hogging the sidewalk different than packs of other women hogging the sidewalk?

    I think anyone hogging the sidewalk, regardless of race or gender is rude. People can be rude. I am opposed to being selfish and rude when there is no reason you can’t take a moment to consider other people around you. I simply don’t understand how this applies to the conversation except to say that both men and women can be rude jerks, which no one here has denied

    You also said:

    1) how going across the street for a woman is anything but “chivalry”–which, of course, is inherently sexist, and

    Courtesy isn’t inherently chivalry/sexist. The same might apply to anyone. If a bunch of women and I are out and crossing the street would put someone else on the sidewalk at ease or avoid crowding them, we would cross. In fact, my friends and I have done it, especially if there’s an individual pushing a stroller or walking with kids, and we can easily walk all the way around, making better time and not being rude to the individual. But I don’t condone saying men *need* to cross the street. If doing something kind will put others at ease and it isn’t a huge inconvenience for me, I’m happy to do it. It’s nice when others feel the same.

    The individual’s intention, be it chivalry, courtesy or a desire to not be near me, are out of my hands. I can’t control a person’s intention. So if a person holds a door for me because he’ courteous or he holds a door for me because he’s aiming to be chivalrous, I don’t know. I have more respect for the man who also holds the door for other men or people he doesn’t find attractive, but I appreciate the effort either way and thank people when they do it.

    Greg, what do you do in S. Minneapolis when it is a pack of women walking at you on the street–or was your neighborhood all single walking white women?

    I’m not sure what your question to greg is hear, or how it’s relevant to the argument of a woman being isolated on a street with an individual whose intention is unknown. If I, as a woman, were alone on a street and a group of any people were approaching me, regardless of gender, I wouldn’t be stricken with fear but I would consider their body language. A group of strange women who are all staring aggressively as they walk at me, are a bigger risk that a bunch of women all talking lightly with each other and paying little notice to me. The same is true of men.

    3)And why is it that downtown Minneapolis, white people don’t get out of your way, or form a single file line, or acknowledge that they are hogging the sidewalk when walking in packs?

    Because they can be rude? Why don’t people in boston let you merge on the highway and cut you off when you turn on your turn signal? Because people can be jerks.

    I think the reason people are disinclined to respond to many of your posts is because you have a lot of anger and a lot of accusations but they are tangental, at best, to the conversation. These are usually considered strawman arguments. You build up a case against a point that is irrelevant to the post and then claim victory.

    The way I see it:
    it is nice if a man sends non-verbal signals that he has no intentions of putting me in a situation where I need to go into fight or flight mode. Some of those signals are things like crossing the street if I am alone at night or, not leering at or propositioning me in confined spaces. HOWEVER, if someone doesn’t offer me that courtesy, as they haven’t many times before, I manage it just fine. I’m simply going to have more questions about their intentions and feel relieved when I am out of the situation.

    This is a small small spectrum of the sorts of courtesies I think everyone should consider offering others when they can and this isn’t about men being courteous and women only receiving. If I could be perceived as a threat or a problem, I want to do what I can to communicate that I am not. I think women bear just as much burden to be courteous as men.

    There are lots of terrible people, both men and women. Hopefully, you are equally cautious about putting yourself at risk with any of these people. If a woman asks you for personal information about yourself or is leaning really closely to you while you enter your pin numbers, you probably feel uncertain and cautious. You may not realize that many people give you a comfortable bubble of space when you are at the ATM, but you sure notice when they don’t. You are not saying all women are identity thieves and you are not quaking in fear of identity thieves, but you would rather avoid having to deal with identity theft than wait until it happens to fix the problem. I feel the same way, about sexual assault, identity theft, break ins, muggings, whatever. When a man gives me plenty of space when I am walking alone, or on an elevator, I feel more at ease, just as I do when the person behind me at the ATM gives me plenty of space.

  577. #577 bluharmony
    July 24, 2011

    Marnie, I appreciate your point of view. It’s different from mine, but I value the fact that you explain where you’re coming from without resorting to insults. It makes a difference. xo

  578. #578 bluharmony
    July 24, 2011

    @Marnie – You may thing it goes unnoticed how calm, and reasonable you’re being. I may disagree with you on the topic at hand, but your conduct is beyond reproach. Thank you for that. It’s refreshing.

    As you know, if you want people to see your point of view, attacks (aka ad hominims) are not the way. In any case, I disagree, but with the way you approach the issue, I’m much more likely to reconsider.

    Hugs — thanks for remembering that we’re all human too.

  579. #579 Greg Laden
    July 24, 2011

    Porn 495: I didn’t grow up in South Minneapolis. I’m not from Minnesota, I’m from New York.

  580. #580 Jason Thibeault
    July 24, 2011

    Jason’s bullying behavior goes without saying–we expect that from him: he is a bully, with nothing of substance, lots of game theory, and ONLY a desire to sound impressive.He is a social retard.

    lolwut

    No, really, Meme — err, Pornonymous — err, whatever you’re calling yourself lately. I empathize with you. I totally get that you’ve personally had a bad experience. And I get how people who’ve personally had a bad experience might extrapolate it onto the larger world as though every single situation is exactly like yours. In a way, that’s what we’re talking about — where women feel like they need to defend themselves preemptively from men because they’re taught to try to keep from being raped, either by having been raped in the past or by knowing someone that did. So I totally get why you’d want to defend yourself from all those people that are trying to defend women, because they must de facto be anti-man.

    I feel for you, bro. Really.

  581. @ bluharmony “The day old white privileged educated men start telling me what’s best for me, it’s no longer feminism; it’s the opposite, and it scares me to death.”

    I am as scared of that as you are, but perhaps even more, I am scared of white women. For you white female leadership could be great, for me, I would be imprisoned, or otherwise marginalized (further). White women spend way too much time resenting white male power, and not enough time getting their own power.

    Then, sadly, once they get power, they often shop it around to WMP!Grrrrr. Imagine if WW could get those disenfranchised/never were franchised males on their team. Wow. Now that would be power–old school, ground up, socialist power.

    BUt they don’t. They spend all their time locking up potential allies, and labelling potential allies as rapists. Imagine that?

    @Marnie, “I think the reason people are disinclined to respond to many of your posts is because you have a lot of anger and a lot of accusations but they are tangental, at best, to the conversation”

    Discussing the topic at hand–women on sidewalks and me on sidewalks? is tangential? Ummm. No.

    Women and me, on a street, is NOT a tangent. Later response to verbal abusers might well have been such, but my first four comments were Nailing The Board.

    I almost quit reading your response at this point–up until then I was tracking with you.Then I read on, because that is how I am.

    Marnie, go back up there if you have to and notice how reasonable my posts were and usually are until dickheads, and fauxminists start flaming me.

    The number, and race has everything to do with the discussion–this discussion of course part of a trend of white middle class self-deconstruction. And the question to Greg is because S. Minneapolis has many neighborhoods, and they are all different. It was a question of class that he was ducking.

    There are parts of S. Minneapolis when I cross the street because the group of girls ahead of me are gang members, and I fear for my safety.

    There were times in S. Minneapolis where I was shot at for being white( and back then, I was cool with that, and had a response for them, too). So sure, I know about S. Minneapolis a bit, which is now largely white women safe, and gentrified.

    The rest of the streets over South are essentially lined with cops for the sole protection of white women, not minorities, or out group white males.

    You should walk through there some time–lots of good things–and frankly, beyond walking across streets, there is an obligation to always say hi to white women so that they don’t call the block patrol or the cops on you for not respecting their tax-paying privilege.

    And we fundamentally agree on the topic of courtesy, and you sound like an equalist, as I am–a two way street, I might add.

    But note how every person who initiated a dialogue with me here did it in an assaultive manner? To which I replied with great force.I don’t believe in getting my ass kicked anymore by random strangers, and my language is my pro-active defense against such aggressiveness.

    I recognize how language can be violence, and I am responsible where I direct my violence–defensively, not offensively. You would have to read my first four posts to get that, not just the posts where I was responding to verbal abuse.

    I wrote about that awhile ago.But what is missing here is discussion about social violence, the net effect of crying wolf, and the net effect of gentrified discussion.

    And then notice how even then Jason, and Bee have nothing to say? That is the cowardice I was speaking of. Greg should write more about male chimp murder party behavior,how it affects females ( positively) and why he is acting like the great leader of chimps on this issue; acknowledge his role here stirring up the little chimps.

    And, for accountability sake, I might add: isn’t it interesting how a male had to act badly to get attention on this post? And even then, my very valid questions were not answered–until NOW by you and bluharmony!!

    And I had to change my name to FMU b/c Gregs spam blocker, net nannie, or one of those creepy, conversation monitoring softwares employed by the FBI, NSA, et al is active. That is one of the ways that the last decades dialogues about “hate speech” changed the world: it legitimized surveillance.

  582. #582 Fauxminist Manginas Unite!
    July 24, 2011

    Thanks for addressing that, Greg. I have a post stuck in the que about just that.

    I think it is a valid issue of race and class we are talking about as well. I held the door open for a young black woman today who seemed almost stunned, and was quite amply rewarded with a thank you, under her breath.

    Her boyfriend behind her, who I also held the door open for, looked at me cautiously.

    Courtesy, man, it costs nothing, and pays out for generations in building trust.

    But I am working on this idea about elevator shafts: big, huge openings, that take living things into them, and transport living things out of them….hmmmm…

  583. #583 Jason Thibeault
    July 24, 2011

    Did you link to something Fauxmeme Memeginas United? I was hoping you’d provide a link to the study about how 30-80% of all rapists were sexually assaulted by their moms.

    You don’t have arguments — you have one overriding event in your own life that basically colors everything you talk about. And if we’re not talking about the event that hurt you, then we are either actors of bad intent or part of some vaginaspiracy. Why do you think that is, Meme?

    You might want to go back over my posts in this thread. You’ll notice they involve correcting someone you support on what “ad hominem” means, a snide comment about the topic at large, and that’s about it. You’re the only other person I’ve addressed directly, and that’s to question your bald-faced and ridiculous assertions with no evid