Islamic Sexism and the Sense of Entitlement

Does this remind anyone of anything?

On Jan. 16, Warda was nearly raped. It happened in early afternoon, in the heart of central Cairo, in an elevator.

A man with short black hair entered, Warda recalled. “We didn’t really look at each other; I was reading some messages on my phone,” she said. The elevator, big enough for four people, stopped suddenly, and the lights went out. The electricity was cut, nothing unusual in some neighborhoods of Cairo. They called for the bawab – the caretaker – but no one answered.

“Then I felt the hand of the man in my pants. I asked him to stop, but he said I better shut up or he would take his knives out,” she said, fighting back tears. He opened his pants and pressed himself against her for what felt like hours, she said. Luckily, the lights came back on. “He stopped and let go of me. I just didn’t want to look into his face.”

As I’ve written about before, for women in the Middle East, pervasive, aggressive sexual harassment is a fact of life. My esteemed co-author, Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy, wrote about her own encounter with it during a legal internship in Morocco:

I was shocked from the moment the plane landed at the reaction I elicited. I had never felt so sexualized and objectified. It was a suffocating and overwhelming deluge of incessant, aggressive, unwanted male attention. Taxi drivers tried to kidnap me. Soldiers harassed me. Strange men tried to lure me into their shops, their homes, their beds. I was baffled at the rudeness of these men who felt absolutely no compunction in trying to touch and grab me.

Another quote from the Times article:

Heba Habib, a law student from Cairo, said she “couldn’t take it” anymore. “Every day, dirty comments, the grabbing when you ride on the bus.”

Once, she said, a cab driver started recounting his sexual fantasies. “I was so ashamed and tried to overcome it by laughing,” the 22-year-old said, flicking her long dark hair behind her left ear. “When I got out of the car and wanted to pay him, I saw that his pants were down and he had been masturbating.”

She threw his fare on the seat and left. “You feel every day less and less like a human being.”

The idea that women ought to be sexually available to any man who desires them is heavily entrenched in these societies. It’s the end result of a longstanding cultural and religious tradition that treats them as objects rather than people. (A piece of fruit doesn’t object to being eaten. Why should a woman object to being assaulted, groped or catcalled?) Even in Egypt, in the aftermath of a democratic revolution where women played a major leadership role, it’s too much to expect that this will change overnight.

I mention this because the atheist blogosphere has spent the last few days blowing up over a prominent male atheist who asserted that Western feminists have nothing to complain about, that the most they have to put up with is creepy advances and undesired attention, versus the vicious sexism that women suffer in the Islamic world. Well, I’ve got news for anyone who thinks that: These aren’t different problems; they’re different manifestations of the same problem.

These are points on a spectrum, to be sure. It’s perfectly clear that women in Morocco or Egypt, in general, are subjected to more and worse sexual harassment than women in America. But what I saw so often in the aftermath of that blowup is the attitude that a man is entitled to solicit a woman’s attention wherever, whenever, and in whatever manner he chooses, and if that makes her feel annoyed or upset or harassed or afraid for her safety, too bad, because his desire to hit on her trumps any desire she has not to be hit on. And that’s the same attitude that motivates street harassers in the Middle East and that underlies so many of the other injustices inflicted on women in that region.

The most common complaint I’ve heard from men in response to this is that they can’t be “mind-readers”, that they can never know in advance whether a woman would welcome their attention. Well, here’s a novel suggestion: If you want to know what women like or don’t like, ask them. In the aftermath of the elevator incident, many women explained in great detail just why that situation would have made them uncomfortable. And, in general, that pattern holds: if you want to know the best ways to approach women, go and ask some women! It won’t make you telepathic, it’s true, but I guarantee that what you learn will come in handy in social situations. I suspect that what some of these men really mean is not that they can’t imagine how a woman would feel, but that they don’t want to make the effort to learn.

I said that harassment of women in the Middle East and creepy, unwelcome advances on women in the West are manifestations of the same problem, the same sense of entitlement, and they have the same solution as well. Men need to stop taking the attitude that they should be able to do what they please as long as they don’t actually assault or rape anyone. If you make advances on a woman and she feels harassed, you are in the wrong, and you need to stop, take a step back, and evaluate what you can do differently. Where sexism and harassment have the sanction of religion, this consciousness-raising is going to be a long and difficult process, but skeptics and rationalists don’t have even that much excuse.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Well, since I’m suffering from insomnia, I might as well be the first to comment on this.

    I have to say, when I first saw that you referred to that piece about my time in Morocco, I got a knot in my stomach.

    When that piece was first published, three or so years ago now, I was mercilessly attacked online. I was accused of lying, of seeking riches and fame, of having provoked the harassment by (fill in the blank — dressing like a Western woman, dressing scantily, not wearing hijab, not abiding by local custom, smiling at men on the street, responding when spoken to, living alone, not being accompanied by a man constantly, not having traveled to Morocco in a group, not being able to speak Arabic, having huge breasts (I don’t), looking around at my surroundings, walking to work, taking a taxi to work, wanting to speak to the locals, wanting to engage the public in discourse, being friendly, being white, being a Westerner, being a woman, being a Western woman, being a white woman, and, of course, being a white Western woman, etc., etc..), and, of course, of being an Islamophobic racist ethnocentric imperialist colonialist.

    I was attacked by both men and women. And, the women were as merciless as the men.

    There was a particularly nasty bent to the women’s attacks — women from the West who had also traveled/lived/studied in Morocco.

    I simply told the truth.

    I chalked most of these attacks up to the extreme culture of anti-universalism, hyper-cultural relativism and obscurantism that is pervasive throughout academia in the US in particular. (I will be charitable and say that I think most of this is a response to feeling awfully guilty about all of the war/genocide/colonization perpetrated on developing world peoples by developed world peoples.)

    So, when I first read this post, I thought, “Oh, great, here we go again.”

    But, now, I see a different aspect to these attacks.

    Because what I was really thinking was, “I don’t want to be treated the way Rebecca Watson has been treated, the way I was treated before.”

    Because, exactly as you say, Ebon, this isn’t just about cultural relativism. This isn’t just about obscurantism (although I am shocked by all of the obscurantist comments equating women being wary of men to racism — that’s an interesting one: you have to let me hit on you; otherwise, you’re a racist).

    This is about sexism. Pure and simple. And, it’s sexism in Morocco. And, it’s sexism in the UK. And, it’s sexism in the US.

    But, now, after having spent a year with the fierce women of Ni Putes Ni Soumises, I am much better equipped to deal with the attacks than I was before. They get attacked constantly, and they are, for the most part, darker-skinned, Muslim, immigrant women from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. And, they get attacked, not just for stigmatizing men, but for stigmatizing Muslims, and immigrants, and dark-skinned people. And, they are, for the most part, Muslim and immigrant and dark-skinned.

    I just have to say — thank you so much for your recent posts on sexism.

    Truly — you have opened my eyes in certain ways. I am now able to see aspects of these issues, which were hidden to me before.

    I’m still processing, but I am still a staunch and unapologetic universalist. Women’s rights are universal human rights without compromise. But, I am thinking more and more about the legal implications of the Model Penal Code’s definition of assault.

    What does it mean that a perpetrator of assault should have been aware that he/she would have provoked fear of imminent bodily harm in his/her victim?

    Can we define this in a way that doesn’t stigmatize men or dehumanize women?

    I think we can.

    Can we take this definition out of the criminal law context and apply it to our everyday interpersonal relationships?

    I think we can.

  • Ubi Dubium

    Thank you , thank you, thank you! Thank you for being one of those who understands this. “Consciousness-raising” is exactly the point here.

    If we are to legitimately criticize the treatment of women in other countries, we’d better have our own house in order first. Some may see this as a tempest in Russell’s Teapot, but I think this is a teachable moment. I’m hoping we can see an attitude shift from those people saying “you’re all a bunch of whiners” to “I don’t understand. Help me understand.”

  • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou Doench

    Well said Ebon, which i suppose goes without saying. What’s the over/under on the number of comments before someone calls you or someone else a “Femtard” of “Fembot”?
    I’ll take the under at 20…

  • http://www.facebook.com/OklahomaAtheistsGodcast D4M10N

    “These aren’t different problems; they’re different manifestations of the same problem.”

    Thank you for pointing this out and for making the case that sexual entitlement and male privilidge are symptoms of an underlying cross-cultural problem. I wonder how much that problem stems from the sexual norms we've inherited from religious tradition. Certainly I was overly optimistic to assume that sexual equality would come quickly and easily to those who have already freed themselves from the faith-based misogyny of Paul or Moses or Mohammad.

  • Syn

    Ebon, I really, really appreciate your persistence on this issue. Thank you.

  • http://reedbraden.com Reed Braden

    Ebon, my response to you started as a comment and morphed into a blog post. Suffice it to say, I think you’re deeply mistaken in likening this tragic story to one of a creeped-out divorcee who just left a bar.

  • Nathaniel

    Excerpt from previous commenter’s post

    I would bet—again—that if the exact same thing happened to Rebecca, but the man in question looked more like Sexiest Man Alive Ryan Reynolds and less like Iowa State Fair Award Winning Giant Cheeseball Drew Carey, she would have found some safe way of accommodating a date with the man.

    Really? You think that’s all, that it was about the attractiveness of the man? Not that she didn’t know him at all? That it was 4am in the morning? That they were is a tight enclosed box? None of that registers?

    Really?

  • Brett

    Yeah, holy shit, Reed. I’m probably not going to be returning to your blog. Wow. That little slice of sexism is really not helpful, speaking as someone who would defend Elevator Guy and Richard Dawkins in all of this.

    Wow.

    Anyway, yeah, this story does remind me of something. Didn’t something incredibly similar just happen to Rebecca Watson?

    No, of course not. Though I like that we’re being more honest now and drawing more direct comparisons between Elevator Guy and an actual rapist. And men who hit on women with men who tell sexual fantasies and masturbate while talking to women. I don’t know that we learn so much from this story in Cairo that relates to Rebecca’s anecdote, at least not as much as how it’s not good for a woman to enter an elevator with a man in Cairo. Although, as Sarah has pointed out, even that is not as dangerous as entering a romantic relationship with a man, because that’s the most dangerous thing a woman does in her life.

    Anyway, this is all just a lot more bad argumentation. I was asked today for directions to a nearby hospital. The woman who asked me was placing her right to ask me for directions above my right to not be asked for directions. That’s indisputable. And it doesn’t matter. Just like anyone’s right to not be talked to, even a polite request with potential romantic implications, like asking someone out on a date.

    But I’ve taken Ebon’s advice and talked to women. I’ve been bothering my women friends about all of this. What they think of Elevator Guy, how their lives are different from mine because of the assholes in the world. And I heard lots of things, and learned A LOT. One friend walks with her keys in her hand if it’s dark and she’s alone. Another thinks that friend is a bit paranoid for doing so. Nearly all have had to deal with bullshit from strange men, though not in a physically threatening way. It’s been eye-opening. But none of them took the stances I’ve been seeing from unhinged internet feminists. Some of them have even pointed out that they sympathize with men on the “talking to women” thing, and all of them thought Elevator Guy was a dope, and not much more. None thought he was “dismissing Rebecca’s identity”.

    But I did get a much better picture of the shit women go through because of the assholes in the world. Really. But I also heard, quite happily, that the most intense fears of some women, and their approach to certain situations, should not form the basis of communication between humans. At least one was actually a bit offended by the “Schrödinger’s Rapist” essay which has been the link presented to men to help them “get it” (i.e. agree unconditionally with internet feminists)

    By the way, Ebon, you need to make a case for men hitting on women stupidly coming from the same place as, say, masturbating in a taxi while you tell a woman your sexual fantasies. I don’t see at all how Elevator Guy and Taxi Jerkoff have the same motives, worldview, or attitude about women. And this is a case where you can leave the perception of women out of it, because you’re talking about why men do things. Are you saying that Elevator Guy, Richard Dawkins, and Taxi Jerkoff have the same attitude about women? Also, on a very much related note, why does the “right to not be hit on” trump the “right to hit on” and how is it different from my issue with being asked for directions? I know that my comparison of being asked for directions to being asked out is as ridiculous as comparing an attempted rape to a clumsy comeon, but the basic issue of my right to be left alone, as outlined in the Schrödinger’s Rapist essay, is the same.

  • http://indiscriminatedust.blogspot.com Philboyd

    I just realised something: all this ‘right to hit on’ stuff might be missing the point.

    It’s possible to argue that men don’t have the right to ‘hit on’ women – if ‘hit on’ means soliciting sex without so much as a by-your-leave. While it’s certainly permissible to seek casual sex, doing so by going up to people and asking ‘Sex?’ is threatening and we probably shouldn’t be doing it. Decent human beings attempt to form some kind of connection by conversation, however brief or flirty, before propositioning someone.

    If ‘hit on’ means flirting with someone in a conversation that leads to a proposition, then that seems totally fine. If ‘hit on’ means approaching someone like they’re a slot machine and you’re hoping for the jackpot, then I can easily see how that – quite literally – dismisses someone’s identity.

    That said, I just came up with this idea; feel free to show me where I’m wrong.

  • Brett

    Well, you make interesting points, in my opinion, but I think that by this approach, all casual sex “dismisses people’s identities” (unless you’re suggesting that a superficial conversation beforehand counters that). Sometimes men and women go out just wanting to get laid, and whatever leads to that sex, and usually anything that follows, is meaningless.

    Though yeah, walking up to people and saying “Sex?” is probably not good. Though an honest question mark and acceptance of a no would not be, really. I would worry about exclamation points.

  • http://www.politicalflavors.com MissCherryPi

    H G Wells understood this in 1909.

    After all it was true that a girl does not go alone in the world unchallenged, nor ever has gone freely alone in the world, that evil walks abroad and dangers, and petty insults more irritating than dangers, lurk.

    The problem with those petty insults is that you never know if they are actually dangers.

  • http://indiscriminatedust.blogspot.com Philboyd

    Brett, just to clarify my position: I’m not really suggesting that a ‘superficial conversation beforehand’ makes casual sex okay. Casual sex itself is generally okay because it’s mutual: both people, ideally, are in a state of enthusiastic consent. The point of the ‘superficial conversation’ is to make the proposition for sex okay: to establish the likelihood of enthusiastic consent from both parties before the proposition is made.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    The most common complaint I’ve heard from men in response to this is that they can’t be “mind-readers”, that they can never know in advance whether a woman would welcome their attention. Well, here’s a novel suggestion: If you want to know what women like or don’t like, ask them.

    Or you could read this: Context Matters, the excellent piece by Jen McCreigtht at BlagHag on when — and when not — to flirt with women, compliment us on our appearance, and/or approach us sexually.

    And if any men following this kerfuffle still think this is about angry feminists telling them never to flirt or be sexual, I implore you to read the excellent and much-cited Schrodinger’s Rapist. This, guys, is the context in which women live all the time, and the context in which your advances are being perceived. If you read this and still think we’re trying to silence you — as opposed to, you know, helping you understand the world women live in, and for crying out loud helping you get laid already — then I have to change my usual assumption of good intentions, and assume that you’re coming from a place of willful ignorance.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Oh, and P.S. Many thanks to Ebon for being such a bulldog on this issue. It is greatly appreciated.

  • Emburii

    Brett:

    Like most people, you’re misrepresenting Rebecca’s initial position and conflating subsequent discussion with Elevator Guy himself. When she first started talking about the situation, she didn’t call him a rapist. She didn’t even say he was particularly hateful, just oblivious in a way that could have been something worse. She said that the timing was inconsiderate since she’d just announced she was retiring the for the night, that the isolation and small space of the elevator made it a little creepy, and that people should keep that in mind next time they proposition someone.

    For this mild statement, she got attacked. She got dismissed as oversensitive and hysterical and unhinged. I’m not surprised that some of her explanation later may have tried to convey some of the wider context after the frustration that a simple ‘this was kinda not cool’ became ‘ohmygosh you’re calling him a RAPIST, you feminazi’ from her critics. Ebon draws a parallel between Rebecca and Warda in the first paragraph not because Rebecca Watson was raped in this circumstance, or even that she was in the elevator car with a rapist. He brings it up to point out that Rebecca Watson in her elevator car had no way of knowing that the man talking to her would take no for an answer. She didn’t end up like Darda but she could have (especially since she’s gotten rape threats in the past), and she gave her fellow atheists the benefit of the doubt in assuming that they could draw the lines with minimal explanation and find ways of communication and proposition that wouldn’t feel quite so oblivious. It’s a shame to see that she was wrong.

    In all your description to your friends, Brett, I wonder how you described it. I wonder if you called her ‘unhinged’. I wonder if you said the other man ‘just’ asked her for coffee, without using similar exculpatory modifiers for Rebecca. Did you show them Rebecca’s original post, or did you conflate her initial post with the subsequent follow-up of male privilege in general the way most of her male critics have?

    Go and reread Sarah’s first response and post to her face, so to speak, that she’s ‘unhinged’. I keep returning to that word because you haven’t cast any aspersions on ‘your’ side of the argument. Richard Dawkins, for instance, doesn’t even get the censure of being insensitive, even with his sarcarcastic drive-by comment rather than a simple ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘I don’t agree’, but women like Sarah are being dismissed with worse language. If you don’t want fear and frustration to be principle modes of communication between human beings, how about you start listening to why they’ve gotten so entrenched?

  • RJK

    Re: Brett @ 8

    I’m not at all surprised that you had a variety of responses from the women you spoke to. Given that everyone has a different set of life experiences colouring their perceptions of the world around them, there’s no good reason to think that someone’s reaction to a given situation would be the same as any other person’s.

    I have to wonder, though, how complete of an account you gave of the situation. This wasn’t just “unfamiliar man approaches Ms. Watson in a moving elevator.” Did you mention that Ms. Watson had been speaking at the conference about how some women who self-identify as skeptics and atheists are reluctant to engage in the community because there’s a sense that they will be treated as potentially available sexual partners first, and fellow skeptics and atheists second? Did you mention that she had been talking at the bar about how she, herself, didn’t like being approached that way? Did you mention that as she left, she indicated that she was tired and wanted to go to bed? Did you mention that Otis (Mr. Elevator) had been in the bar to hear her say these things? Did you mention that Otis prefaced his remarks with “don’t take this the wrong way,” which to my mind indicates that he knew there was a possibility that Ms. Watson might not want to be propositioned?

    Those are all important facts, and ones I would argue do point towards a kind of dismissal by Otis of Ms. Watson’s clearly-articulated preferences, which are, in my view a part of her identity.

    Edit: Aaand, beaten by Emburii.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    The most common complaint I’ve heard from men in response to this is that they can’t be “mind-readers”, that they can never know in advance whether a woman would welcome their attention.

    And the funny thing about that is that a man who doesn’t consider or care how a woman would react to his advances would freak out and become possibly agitated and violent if another man were to hit on him.

    Some straight men seem to take it for granted that women just have to put up with being hit on by guys. Imagine if women reacted to unwanted male advances the way men react to unwanted advances from other men.

  • Cafeeine

    The most common complaint I’ve heard from men in response to this is that they can’t be “mind-readers”, that they can never know in advance whether a woman would welcome their attention.

    This is exceptionally ironic, since the opposing view can be stated in a much similar way, that is, that women can’t be mind-readers either, so they can’t tell if person A is “well-meaning, socially-awkward, nice guy” or “sociopathic rapist” before its too late to matter. It is therefore galling to hear that the solution for problem A is to ‘at least give guys a chance!’ while the solution for the second problem is to ‘ just suck it up and deal’, when it is acknowledged as a problem at all.

  • Jack M.

    This post casts a new light on the purpose of the burka. It’s to protect your muslim woman from being raped by OTHER MUSLIMS.

    When you live among a horde of savages to whom rape is a passtime, you’ve got to do something to keep the ravening horde off of your woman.

  • Nathaniel

    Except it doesn’t work. Women dressed in sheets will get raped just as readily as ones dressed in shorts.

  • http://deusdiapente.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-faith-is-not-virtue.html J. Quinton

    The problem here goes a bit deeper than blaming it on patriarchal religions. Maybe both examples are along the spectrum of sexist behavior, but for millennia the dynamic between men and women has been Man > Aggressor, Woman > Receptive. For all of written human history, masculine behavior has always been associated with aggression and feminine behavior has always been associated with grace.

    Is that human nature, written into our genes, or is it something that we can change? How many men are turned on by aggressive women (i.e. women who do the approaching, asking out, getting phone numbers, setting up dates, etc.)? How many women are turned on by passive men, the type of men who implicitly would force women to be the aggressor? We don’t choose what we’re attracted to. If we did, then I could “choose” to be attracted to men like the fundagelicals claim.

    Imagine a society where romantic propositions were instantiated in equal parts by men and women. Maybe we wouldn’t have this socialized expectation of women waiting around to be hit on by men; we would probably see more poor judgment like the Elevator Guy from the women’s side. Hell, I’ve been groped in public by women a number of times but I kinda just laugh it off… probably because my sense of entitlement prevents me from feeling threatened by it.

    But even still, I don’t think a society like that would be possible. Men are physically bigger, more aggressive, and more sexually aggressive; men have 10 times the testosterone as women. Somehow I doubt an aggressive woman in an elevator at 4am with some guy pushes the same buttons as the original scenario did; we would probably see something like that in a comedy (and in a comedy because comedies usually get laughs by reversing expectations). Studies have shown that testosterone makes people take more risks and makes them prone to poor judgment. In short, I think the perception of sexism will always exist since nature made two distinct sexes with two distinct sexual mating strategies. Now I’m not trying to excuse horrible behavior like some guy jerking off in a cab just because a woman is his passenger, but guys will be guys. We can try our best to minimize “sexism”, but sexism we will always have unless we genetically do away with sexes altogether.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    This is exceptionally ironic, since the opposing view can be stated in a much similar way, that is, that women can’t be mind-readers either, so they can’t tell if person A is “well-meaning, socially-awkward, nice guy” or “sociopathic rapist” before its too late to matter. It is therefore galling to hear that the solution for problem A is to ‘at least give guys a chance!’ while the solution for the second problem is to ‘ just suck it up and deal’, when it is acknowledged as a problem at all.

    Superbly put, Cafeeine. I don’t think one can explain the double standard dynamic going on here more concisely than that.

  • Kacy Ray

    Ebon,

    You and I have spoken at length about this, and during that time I made the case that Elevator Guy suffered from a clear case of social ineptitude. I conceded that Rebecca’s feeling of “creept-outneddness” was probably a rational emotional response, so from her perspective there’s really nothing to speak of (as far as I’m concerned).

    It seems to me that the fundamental argument here is whether Elevator Guy was acting stupidly or acting immorally. I’ve argued for the former. By making the statement “These aren’t different problems; they’re different manifestations of the same problem.” you are arguing for the latter.

    So with the argument clarified, my follow-on question would be: Where do you draw the line between ineptitude and mal-intent? Where do you draw the ethical line between a guy who’s just a bumbling social idiot and a guy who is malicious in his actions? Are you prepared to lump them into the same bag, condemning as evil (to whatever degree) every dork who simply doesn’t understand social dynamics and hasn’t had the occasion to read every article in the blogosphere about the subject?

    “Don’t be that guy” usually implies social ineptitude. Claiming that their motives come from the same psychological place as those of, say, Taxicab Jerkoff implies misogyny and vice. You simply can’t have this ethical cake and eat it too.

    So which is it?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Hi folks,

    Well, let me say one thing at the outset: I wasn’t going to write about this again, but then that news article about Egypt fell into my lap, and it was just too opportune to pass up, particularly since I could draw parallels with Sarah’s earlier essay.

    I was expecting this misunderstanding, but I probably didn’t do enough to avert it. So, just so there’s no confusion, let me say it clearly: This post isn’t about the elevator guy. It seems clear that Otis (thanks, RJK!), despite his poorly-judged approach technique, had no malicious intent. He was guilty at most of a social faux pas. And Rebecca Watson’s mild rebuke of him reflected that! All she said was, in essence, “Hey guys, word to the wise, that’s a little creepy, don’t do that.”

    The focus of this post isn’t on him, but on something else: the absolute shitstorm that blew up in the wake of her message, with countless men loudly asserting that she was wrong to condemn him, even in the mildest terms, because it’s their absolute right to hit on women wherever, whenever, and in whatever manner they choose, and any curtailment whatsoever of that right is unthinkable. If there hadn’t been that intense hostile reaction toward Watson’s video, this whole story would have ended then and there. And when every man has that attitude, you get Egypt and Morocco.

    For all we know, Otis is normally a good guy who let drunkenness, tiredness, or eagerness get the better of him on one occasion and made a bad spur-of-the-moment decision. Or, for all we know, he’s already taken Watson’s words to heart and changed his ways. The problem isn’t him; it’s the people who continue to defend this behavior as completely acceptable and completely unproblematic, even after so many have explained why it isn’t. Richard Dawkins’ spectacularly ill-advised comments, in particular, poured liquid oxygen on that fire. If he’d just said, “The guy didn’t assault or harm her, he took no for an answer, I don’t see what the problem is here,” I think the backlash wouldn’t have been nearly as large. Instead, he chose to be openly scornful and dismissive in a way that couldn’t help but make things even worse.

    P.S. I’m amused by the post which so confidently asserts that Watson would have welcomed Otis’ advances if he’d been better-looking. Unless you have access to some information denied to the rest of us, how do you know what he looks like?

  • Kacy Ray

    Ebon,

    “The problem isn’t him; it’s the people who continue to defend this behavior as completely acceptable and completely unproblematic”

    Once again I would point out that you are failing to distinguish between whether his behavior was *socially* unacceptable and problematic or *ethically* unacceptable and problematic. This is fundamental because the former has no ethical implications, whereas the latter does.

    I think think that the shitstorm resulted from that blurred line. People are trying to defend his actions from an ethical stadpoint (he’s not a bad guy he’s just socially inept) – a standpoint with which you claim to agree (as I think most of us do). But when you say things like “These aren’t different problems; they’re different manifestations of the same problem.” you are *clearly* drawing an ethical parrallel between the actions of Otis and those of Taxicab Jerkoff. It’s this ethical equivocation that I take issue with (the equivocation occurs when people use the term “wrong” in a social sense which then becomes argued from an ethical standpoint).

    “with countless men loudly asserting that she was wrong to condemn him, even in the mildest terms”

    It would be wrong of her to condemn his actions ethically (which, by the way, she did not do), although she is perfectly within her right to deliver social commentary on the wisdom of his chosen approach. Can we all agree on that?

    P.S. Speaking of social ineptitude – word to the wise… women don’t seek men for their looks. They seek men of higher social value. A man of higher social value *is attractive* to any women who perceives him as such. So the suggestion that had he been a better looking man she might have welcomed his advances would have been true IF the term *better looking man* were replaced with the term *man of higher social value* (than whatever social value she perceives herself to possess).

    And if she were to deny that, she’d be lying either to us or to herself. (Note: I’m not saying she would’ve accepted his offer, I’m only saying she would have found his offer quite flattering and would not have complained about it for a moment.)

  • Nathaniel

    P.S. Speaking of social ineptitude – word to the wise… women don’t seek men for their looks.

    Speak for yourself. There are plenty of women I have known that appreciate a good looking man. Hell, they may even attempt to hook up with him.

    But wait, I guess they are just lying to themselves. After all,

    And if she were to deny that, she’d be lying either to us or to herself.

    Funny how we were talking about mind reading, and now it turns out you’re one! How nice for you. It allows you to tell if someone is lying to themself over the internet.

    Tell me, what number am I thinking right now?

  • Mrnaglfar

    Here we go again:

    Does this remind anyone of anything?

    Yes; it reminds me that people continue to draw bad comparisons: “You see, this one woman was in an elevator with a man and got attacked; another woman was in an elevator with a man and didn’t get attacked. Do you see the parallels? If you think the second case isn’t bad, then you’re part of the problem for the first case”

    Right, this post isn’t about elevator guy. It’s just a post about a set of similar circumstances that allow you draw some parallels and post again about how anyone who disagrees is part of the problem of violence against women. Yup; totally different subject…

    he most common complaint I’ve heard from men in response to this is that they can’t be “mind-readers”, that they can never know in advance whether a woman would welcome their attention. Well, here’s a novel suggestion: If you want to know what women like or don’t like, ask them. In the aftermath of the elevator incident, many women explained in great detail just why that situation would have made them uncomfortable

    You know, it’s the damnedest thing. I was talking about the discussion with several women and not one of them said what happened was at all bad. They seem to agree with Dawkin’s sentiment. They seemed to think the reaction of the people on Watson’s side of the debate were over the top.

    Of course, I’d not want to just take their opinions and project them onto all women (that’s a job for certain other people). No; instead, I’d like to treat each woman as her own individual person and not as a representation of her gender. Some might like it, some might not, some might not care, and the only way to find out in any specific case is to ask the woman in question. I’ve learned from this discussion to always ask a woman “Would you mind if I flirted with you?” before I try to flirt with her. Then I can know for sure whether my advances are welcome or not. Of course, I’d probably interfere with her right to not be talked to in public, on top of being given a very strange look. I’d be “that guy”, who thinks he can just try to solicit someone’s attention by talking to them because he’s all arrogant and cocky. Hell, for all she knows I could be Schrodinger’s rapist, and since there’s a non-zero chance that I might pose a threat, she should assume I do.

    Also of course, if my inquiring about whether I could flirt with her makes her uncomfortable in any way, I’m in the wrong. As we know, people have a right to not feel uncomfortable. Amiright or amiright?

    Now let’s see how far down the rabbit hole this slippery slope goes.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Men of “higher social value” rape too.

    I’m not lying when I say that I don’t want to be raped, not even by a man of “higher social value.”

    Kacy Ray,

    I’m just going to offer you a suggestion, which is well meant, even though you probably won’t take it so.

    Seriously, just stop. You are digging a hole so deep, not even a man of the “highest social value” would be able to climb out of it.

    They way in which you just dismissed the humanity, autonomy, and personhood of Rebecca Watson, and any woman who would dismiss a man of “higher social value,” is truly staggering.

  • Spreader of humanist songs

    I have been reading this blog on and off without commenting almost since the outset but I simply had to say thank you Ebonmuse for being so persistent and willing to continually engage with arguments such as these.

    There’s only one thing that makes me more upset than living daily in a world that’s daily telling me ‘wear less, eat less, get implants/tans/extensions to be acceptable – and now you look like you’re begging for it – come ‘ere darlin’. Oi! Oi come back here! Don’t ignore me or you’ll be f*cking sorry! Ugly cow! … … …

    Yes, the thing that drives me to rages and to tears more than this is the remarkably blinkered individuals that claim women are not oppressed. Now, here’s what I would consider a golden rule:

    It is not the duty and burden of an oppressed to person to have to explain that they are oppressed to individuals who do not experience/understand their oppression.

    You know why? Because it can make life pretty hellish. Having to suffer injustice is bad enough, but then having to argue – most often with the people who love you – that your hurt is valid and not made up? Can you imagine that?

    I’ll do the comparison that usual makes people get it: would you ever dream of telling a black person who felt they had been the victim of racism that they were probably imagining it? That it’s not a big deal – that they might even have imagined it? Well, I guess these is always the slim possibility, but instinctively you know not to challenge their sense of hurt/public shame/outrage. Why? Because it’s accepted that we live in a pretty racist world and so odds are they’re not mistaken!

    So. Telling women that their experiences are no big deal: On one end of the scale, women are daily hurt by this double indignity and their trust in themselves – and/or their world – diminishes and their quality of life doesn’t improve to the level of their male counterparts*. They continue to encounter shame, hurt, anger, pain, fear and possibly resignation. Even denial, since it’s better to say ‘it’s meant to be this way’ than ‘I live in a world where I could become a victim at any time’.

    On the other end of the spectrum, the majority of rape, enslavement, sexual and domestic violence, ritual mutilation, witch killings and honour killings against women go unpunished and/or unreported. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that it <bactually happens. On a massive scale. I’m in my 20s and i already have double figures in close friends who have been victims – of the people who feel close enough to me to share this information – there are definitely others. Of these: ONE went to the police and the perpetrator was found innocent. I have to see men mixing with my friends who i know are rapists and attempted murderers of their girlfriends. Of course, they look and act just like everyone else in company, and their victims beg you not to bring more pain by exposing their stories and having people tell them they’re hysterical or liars.

    And people wonder why women sense dangers?

    So, thank you again Ebonmuse for having the patience to keep doing the thing that I to have had to do so many times – that I’ve had to do for adult men who love me and who don’t understand how much they’re hurting me. Each time I have to do it I swear that I will never be the educator facing slings and arrows again, because of the pain, but every time I feel I have no choice.

    One thing’s for certain though: anyone who replies to this questioning what I have argued: I hope that even if you don’t agree with me, you can at least accept my response in advance: like hell am I going to argue with you.
    Not this time.

    P.s. is there a public outcry about Dawkins’ comment? Because it’s not reached my radar yet. And there should be. Loudly. But, just as Hitchens is still an atheist hero after this: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/01/hitchens200701?currentPage=3 …I’m not exactly surprised.

    * I use ‘male counterparts’ rather than simply ‘men’ so as to imply men who share the same oppressions/privileges as the woman in question e.g the same race/class/cis or trans status/disability/sexuality etc

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    And, if anyone wants to know what’s creepy —

    implying that you only seek out women of “lower social value” in public to approach for sex/romance/whatever.

    Why would that be?

    Why would a man want there to exist a power differential (with himself as the more powerful party) between himself and a woman he is approaching in public for sex/romance/whatever?

    Is it to make sure that she won’t dismiss his advances?

    That’s not just creepy; it’s disgusting.

    And, a man thinks that’s ok, because he doesn’t intend to actually break any laws? (He’s not going to do anything ethically untoward, just socially untoward.)

    He’s just going to use his power differential to his advantage to manipulate and coerce?

    With attitudes like these being tossed about so flippantly, it is shocking that so many women don’t wish to be hit on in public.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    I’ve learned from this discussion to always ask a woman “Would you mind if I flirted with you?” before I try to flirt with her. Then I can know for sure whether my advances are welcome or not.

    You know? I’ve resisted commenting anywhere on any forum about this. But that statement? Well, look, “elevator guy” was either congenitally socially challenged or a jerk. We’ll never know which, but if you want to strike up a relationship with anyone.., anyone regardless of gender or other defining feature, you don’t choose an elevator at four in the morning when you are alone with them for the first time ever. It’s nothing to do with feminism or any ism, it’s to do with respect for another individual’s personal space. You don’t have to ask permission to flirt. Flirt to your hearts content in flirting appropriate situations and be prepared to back off gracefully if the flirting isn’t reciprocated. Incidentally, situations where one gender is heavily in the majority are not conducive to flirting if you are one of the majority, whilst most people are flattered by being perceived as sexually attractive it loses something when they’re the only game in town.

  • Mrnaglfar

    You don’t have to ask permission to flirt. Flirt to your hearts content in flirting appropriate situations and be prepared to back off gracefully if the flirting isn’t reciprocated.

    “Appropriate situations” are different for everyone. It depends on who is doing the asking, who is being asked, and the situation surrounding it from the immediate environment to one’s emotional state. Let’s not pretend they’re universally acceptable or not.

  • Kacy Ray

    Nathaniel,

    Physical attractiveness is only one component of social value. No matter how good looking you think you are, if you either have no job, no money, no respect from your social peers, or no ability to defend yourself or your woman (and potentially her children) against even the slightest amount of physical aggression, you will be dropped. Looks will only carry you so far.

    By way of analogy – a world-class professional athlete, however brilliant and effective, will be dropped from his team if he can’t show up to practice, can’t stay out of trouble with the law, can’t pass a drug test, or can’t stop making the rest of the team look bad with his personal conduct. All of those qualities put together determine his true value to the team. His athleticism, while important, is only one component. Likewise, looks are important, but they’re only part of a bigger picture.

    And if you doubt me, just ask yourself why Hugh Hefner can have multiple, world-class-beautiful women at any moment of any day. You think his sense of humor is that good? Do you feel his physical appearance alone merits the kind of options he is afforded?

    “Funny how we were talking about mind reading, and now it turns out you’re one! How nice for you.”

    Slippery slope much? One need not be a mind reader to understand social dynamics. Educate yourself.

    Sarah,

    “Men of “higher social value” rape too. I’m not lying when I say that I don’t want to be raped, not even by a man of “higher social value.”

    Who ever said they don’t? Apparently Bundy was one hell of a womanizer. Even during his trial he had women sending him LOVE LETTERS and WEDDING PROPOSALS. Was he really that good looking? Did his great looks mitigate the whole serial-killer thing? So much so that women wanted to marry him while he was on trial for murdering women? I don’t even see what your point is here. Are you suggesting that women do NOT social value in a man? I haven’t dismissed Rebecca’s humanity in any sense, in fact I’ve clarified it. She is a woman. She is a human being. She is a specific being with a specific nature, and to STATE that nature does not in any way *denigrate or disrespect* that nature.

    But you’re illustrating the problem with this modern feminist culture – the idea that to identify what makes a woman a woman, what a woman’s needs and desires are, how women characteristically act in specific situations. Indeed to *state or even acknowledge the rule – even while recognizing that there are exceptions* – is “misogynistic”, “dehumanizing”, or my personal favorite… “objectifying” (a completely vacuous and arbitrary accusation).

    Personally I think women like you are afraid that your secret is out – that’s why you become so overtly hostile when a man dares to speak the truth about women’s basic needs and desires (The nerve! How dare I suggest that such needs and desires exist!). That’s why you hurl accusations of misogyny and dehumanization. I think that it’s a deep-seeded resentment that men – some of us at least – have caught on to the fact that YOU are not exempt from having a nature, an instinct, and biological hard-wiring JUST LIKE US and that it can be identified, analyzed, and discussed.

    If you are going to sit there and suggest that Rebecca is not subject to the normal human hard-wiring, internal drives, internal instincts, and basic needs that every woman shares, then it is YOU who are dehumanizing her, not me.

    “Seriously, just stop. You are digging a hole so deep, not even a man of he “highest social value” would be able to climb out of it.”

    Thanks for the healthy dose of condescension, sweetheart. Not convinced you’d recognize such a man, but thanks.

    “And, if anyone wants to know what’s creepy — implying that you only seek out women of “lower social value” in public to approach for sex/romance/whatever.”

    There you go again, confusing men with women. Interesting how you assumed that because I stated that a woman has certain needs and drives, the implication is that men would necessarily have the *equal and opposite* needs and desires, like a hammer and a nail. That’s an understandable way to see it I suppose, but it is misguided. Men seek women of higher social value just the same as women do, but the factors that constitute a woman’s social value are different than those which would compose a man’s social value. (Notice I am being very specific when I say “social” value, as none of us are any more intrinsically valuable to this universe than anyone else).

    Men and women both seek out the highest value they can obtain in the social/sexual marketplace. The things they look for are different, but the principle is the same. If you think I’m wrong, show me one NFL player, one UFC fighter, one world class boxer, or one NBA star with a fat wife (or even a mildly unattractive one). Or, show me one pop-star diva, one A-list actress, one model, or one highly successful woman with a unemployed husband who stands 5’2” and weighs 95 pounds. Don’t kid yourself, the internal forces that move those folks to choose those specific mates are the same forces that move ALL of us. And that’s BECAUSE we are human, not because we aren’t.

    If you want to know what people’s true instincts and drives are – look to the people who have the most options. Look what THEY choose. That will give you your first clue as to what is inside the rest of us for which the options are much more limited.

    You know, if you’d drop the hostility, condesention, and resentment, you and I could probably have quite a pleasant conversation.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Yeah, unfortunately for you, Kacy Ray, I consider myself to be incredibly highly socially valuable.

  • Brett

    Philboyd: Sorry, I wrote in a rush, on my way out. I basically agree with what you said there. But what I meant was that “dismissing someone’s identity” is more or less an meaningless phrase, invoked here to villify someone (Elevator Guy) who didn’t really do anything ethically wrong. What is my identity? What is your identity? How can I “dismiss” it? Why should one care? These are all unanswerable and dumb questions. And if Rebecca’s identity was dismissed by Elevator Guy (sorry, not using “Otis”), mine was dismissed by Directions to the Hospital Girl.

    Emburii: Don’t tell me what to respond to. I thought Rebecca’s initial video was more or less fine. If people freaked out about it, I have no idea what it was about. There are things to argue about there, but I thought it was basically fine. I only got involved later from reading illogical and stupid comments from the internet feminist wing.

    Also, yes, I told my friends all of those details. Even the ones that aren’t important, like that Rebecca said she wanted to go to sleep. My friends, like me, don’t think that a stated intention means another person can’t attempt (even clumsily and politely) to persuade them to change their intention. Because that’s an idiotic view to have. When discussing this with women friends, I was very careful, asked about how THEY handle various situations, when THEY have fear, and what they think of Rebecca’s anecdote. When possible, I gave direct quotes. And I emailed “Schrödinger’s Rapist” to some people. One was actually offended by parts of it. My feminist girlfriend, who once walked out of a movie because its story, based on reality, didn’t have enough female protagonists, thinks I’m too hard on Elevator Guy.

    Will I tell Sarah she’s unhinged? Sure. She’s nuts. I ignored her first comment here because so many of her other ones are completely worthy of dismissal. She invents facts in an emotional tone, and responds to her own comments, sometimes more than once. And it may be a personal prejudice of mine, but when a person’s name sprouts two hyphens in about a year’s time, I start to wonder. If something happened to her in Morocco, that’s terrible, but it doesn’t add any validity to her nutty comments. I’ve been raped. By a woman. Does that add weight to my arguments? No.

    And have I not cast aspertions on people on my side of this? Didn’t I open my post by calling a guy who is unfortunately “on my team” sexist? Pay attention, yeah?

    RJK: See above. And I really appreciate the assumption that I’m giving dishonest accounts of Rebecca’s anecdote.

    Ebon: “This post isn’t about elevator guy”. Sure. What a big fucking coincidence then. “Hey guys look at this story about attempted rape IN AN ELEVATOR OMG REMIND YOU OF ANYTHING LOL”. Sorry. No.

    There is so much bullshit in these arguments. “We’re not saying Elevator Guy is a rapist” but “Hey look at this rape in an elevator, HELLO!” Or “Nobody’s saying you can’t hit on women” but “You hitting on women means you hold your right to hit on women above women’s rights not to be hit on”. And on and on. There have been so many examples, but it’s bedtime here in Germany. My feminist girlfriend is waiting for me to come to bed.

  • Kacy Ray

    Sarah,

    I’m sure that you are an extremely pleasant and intersting person that would be a pleasure to spend time around. It appears you enjoy and appreciate the discussion of ideas, and that is a definite plus. I have no doubt you and I would get along.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Kacy Ray,

    Seriously, dude? Turn the page.

    Something I was just thinking about —

    And, I really do consider the omnipresent public sexual harassment of women to be a form of customarily recognized gender punishment for women having the audacity to enter the public space and engage in public life.

    Because women in the US, generally speaking, are protected by our laws and our state police forces and our courts, the harassment isn’t as overt — it isn’t usually actually grabbing or explicit verbal threats,

    BUT, it’s still there — the constant and pervasive sexual harassment. It’s just more surreptitious and insidious. (In a way it’s worse — it’s like they know exactly how far to go without crossing a legal threshold, which will provoke a response by the authorities. They know exactly what they can get away with. And, they all go just up to that line, denying a woman legal recourse. Or, they cross the line, but just barely, so the police aren’t going to bother.) Women in the US are constantly criminally sexually assaulted (not battery, but menaced) in the public space too, but this is rarely, if ever, prosecuted.

    Because it’s more surreptitious and insidious, it’s not as obvious who are the ones who will actually react violently — women don’t know.

    So, the guys out there who are so upset that so many women are not interested in being hit on in public —

    Well, I guess you can get upset that it’s because we have come so far in recognizing the humanity of women and in protecting their rights.

    The actual rapists can get away with less and less and less in the public space, so they have to make themselves more and more and more subtle.

    The thing is: I’m not willing to go back to the way things were.

    I’m not willing to relinquish one iota of my humanity.

    I want my rights and my personhood and my autonomy and my bodily integrity protected by my society’s laws and courts and police forces.

    And, if that makes things inconvenient for men pursuing sex and/or romance or whatever,

    I guess I just have to say:

    too bad, so sad.

    Yeah, I just don’t care.

    And, our world is overpopulated as it is, so it’s good that we make it as difficult as possible for people to reproduce.

    Now we have to start protecting the personhood, autonomy, and bodily integrity of women in the private space, in the same way that we do in the public space.

    A woman doesn’t give up her rights just because she’s married, or has agreed to sex, or has entered the family home.

    And, I stand behind my claim that the most dangerous thing a woman does in her life is enter into a romantic/sexual relationship with a man. (I am obviously referring to interpersonal violence and not accidental or medical dangers. I wish that I had double checked before I typed that 90% of women murder victims are murdered by their significant other/lover/boyfriend/etc., but the number is still egregious, whether it’s 30% or 60% or somewhere in between, and I think I might have been thinking of the percentage of domestic violence victims by gender or the percentage of rapes/attempted rapes perpetrated by someone the victim knows. I’m not sure what I was thinking of. I retract that percentage statement, and I apologize for not having checked it. But, I stand behind my point.) (BTW, if Brett thinks I’m nuts, I take that as a real compliment, given my negligible regard for his stance and stated opinions.)

    We do not protect women’s humanity in the private sphere as we do in the public sphere.

    We are still fighting against the idea that once a woman has consented – to romance, sex, marriage, moving in together, getting pregnant, entering a private space, physical contact, the third date, letting a guy pay for a nice dinner and a movie, etc., etc.. – that she has relinquished her rights.

    Power differentials coupled with a lack of transparency almost always result in human rights abuses.

    These widespread attitudes about men having the right to pursue sex with women without regard for the humanity, autonomy, or personhood of women, is indicative of a larger problem with widespread attitudes about men having the right to use women’s bodies to create offspring.

    It is part and parcel with the anti-abortion frenzy, which has beset us in the US.

    Women in the US are still widely regarded as the sexual and reproductive property of the men in their families, and if they haven’t been claimed as such, then they are fair game for the taking. And, obviously from these recent discussions, these abuses are not confined to fundamentalist religious communities.

    I guess the US isn’t that different from the Muslim world after all.

    This is what the Muslim women at Ni Putes Ni Soumises have been trying to tell us.

    The fight for women’s rights as universal human rights is not over, not in the Sudan, not in Morocco, not in France, and not in the US.

    This is a universal fight, and it has barely just begun.

  • jane hay

    What tommykey @#17 said. Whenever men start up with complaining about women’s objections to being hit on with the usual “she’s over-reacting”, I just say, “and how would YOU react to being hit on by a man?” I have seen/heard how they react in such a situation, and they freak out. Really, really freak out. Even when it is only a hypothetical in-the-future encounter, in which they are being required to ride alone with a known “gay guy” to a seminar/conference, whatever. I considered it quite amusing, given that riding with a gay woman doesn’t bother me a bit. I guess just the remote possibility of a proposition causes them to get the heebee-jeebees. They certainly couldn’t survive mentally in the world that most women live in every day.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    That’s the other thing:

    As soon as a woman does anything in response to a man in public — a smile, a polite acknowledgement, a verbal response, she leaves herself open to having her behavior questioned by authorities, if she actually ends up being assaulted/battered by this man in anyway.

    It’s like as soon as she consents to interact with him in any way, she places her rights in jeopardy.

    This is why F off is the safest response, or simply ignoring and not making eye contact.

    This is true in the Muslim world, and, unfortunately, this is true in the US.

    I’m not willing to place my rights, my humanity, my autonomy, or my personhood in jeopardy.

    I’m not willing to place what access I have to my humanity in jeopardy, so that some man can hit on me in the public space.

    So, if men want women to feel comfortable being hit on in the public space, then I guess we’re going to have to get to work on legalizing the fully human status of women in the US.

    And, I’m telling you, we’ve got a way to go.

    Even if we’ve come a long way.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    I just have to say how highly entertained I was by Brett’s last comment.

    My personal experiences are dismissed as irrelevant, but the opinions of his “feminist women friends and girlfriend,” who can’t wait for him to come to bed, BTW, somehow count as evidence.

    And, he completely misses Ebon’s point that this isn’t about condemning Elevator Guy, but condemning the widespread misogynistic online outcry to Rebecca Watson’s reasonable commentary on the situation.

  • Kacy Ray

    Sarah: I wish you well in this cold, cruel world.

  • jennhi

    And the funny thing about that is that a man who doesn’t consider or care how a woman would react to his advances would freak out and become possibly agitated and violent if another man were to hit on him.
    Some straight men seem to take it for granted that women just have to put up with being hit on by guys. Imagine if women reacted to unwanted male advances the way men react to unwanted advances from other men.

    Tommy, that is the absolutely best comment I’ve ever seen regarding this whole kerfluffle, and I read Pandagon. Hat’s off to you!

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Or, we could work to try and make it a little less cold and a little less cruel.

  • Daniel.I

    @ Brett (Comment 8)
    I find it hard to understand how you could take Reed’s comment as being sexist. In fact, by calling it sexist you are the one being sexist here. If Reed’s comment (I assume Reed is a guy) was from a woman expressing that opinion, would it have been sexist. Surely not. So the comment itself wasn’t sexist, but the fact that it came from a man made it sexist? Please learn to think rationally.

    @ All the people siding with the women…. please read above and stop being sexist.

    @ All the people siding with the men…. please read above and stop being sexist.

    Cultures vary and what is and isn’t acceptable in a society is not always an absolute truth. While an American might feel uncomfortable in many situations in Egypt, an Egyptian might not feel uncomfortable. What an American finds unacceptable, a Chinese might not. That’s one thing to think about in this whole discussion.
    Another is that this is about where we draw the line. Where does one person’s rights to do something stop, and another person’s rights to not have it done begin.
    From a fairly universal perspective, walking up to another person and raping them is quite unacceptable. So is punching them in the face or stealing their ipod.
    Close to the other end of the spectrum, is walking up to another person and breathing, or introducing yourself, or blinking.
    In between these extremes we have asking someone a question. You can’t know the answer until you ask. The other person can’t know you want to ask a question until you ask, unless you ask “Can I ask you a question?” but that doesn’t really help, does it? I could also ask “Can I ask you to have sex with me?”, but that doesn’t help either. So really, we have to ask to find out.
    Now in every society we have politeness and rudeness and every social interaction will be somewhere on the spectrum between the two. Many people are disscussing the approprateness of propositioning someone, so lets go with that, but this could be done with any situation. Walking up to someone who is in the process of getting married at the alter and saying “Let’s F**k, you stupid (insert expletive)” is clearly unacceptable. Dating someone for 20 years and calmly suggesting that maybe you could make love together to grow in your close personal relationship is clearly acceptable.
    To all those saying that the guy in the elevator was wrong / right…. PLEASE respond and tell me
    A)exactly where a proposition becomes unacceptable.
    B)Is it unacceptable to everyone.

    I’m sure any answer to B) would be NO, and I’m sure any number of answers to A) would vary. So we get back to the idea that if a proposition might be accetable, the only way to find out is to try. We live in this world with other people. What I want isn’t what everyone wants and that doesn’t make anyone right or wrong. As long as people aren’t trying to be rude, I need to accept them for who they are and either learn not to be upset by them, or try to politely teach them my way if I think I’m better.

    I don’t write very well, so I hope the above is fairly clear to most people.

  • bbk

    I’m going to come out of hiatus for just a moment and have this be my only comment on this issue, since when I heard about it my first thought was “I wonder how Daylight Atheism will turn this into a crusade?” And low and behold…

    Greta, kagerato, etc., I haven’t failed to notice that the logic is exactly the same from both camps. But why is it a double standard only when men claim not to read minds? Shrodinger’s Rapist is the same as Shrodinger’s New Girlfriend. They’re both explicitly based on the same reasoning. Shrodinger’s Rapist is an entire blog post based on the presumption that women should assume that every guy is a rapist while men should do everything in their power to determine how the woman really feels. What I don’t understand is why either argument is any better than the other. This entire geeky brouhaha is based on both sides demanding that the other memorize all the rules and work harder to understand their sex while granting itself the right to treat the opposite sex in black and white. So women get to treat every guy as a potential rapist and men get to ask out anyone they please, since no one can read minds. And such is the stalemate.

    Shrodinger’s Rapist is in itself a hit piece, obviously written with some amount of spite. It’s not titled “How not to scare away the potential love of your life,” it’s called “How not to get maced.” I’m not quite sure what the intent is, based on their view of men – it’s either giving socially awkward guys advice on how not to scare a girl half to death or it’s giving free advice for rapists so that they may become better rapists. There are tons of subtle messages that create an overall tone of rejection. Based on the tone of this piece, a guy reading it would not be wrong to conclude that these are women who are writing specifically about guys who they do not wish to date, have sex with, or even become friends with. So it’s not surprising at all that based on the dialog, guys like Kacy Ray and countless others conclude that there are two standards at work for how men are treated.

    Jenny, Tommekey, the fact that some homophobic drunk guys might react violently to a gay guy flirting with them is a horrible way to make your case. Violence and disgust is obviously the wrong way to react! When a gay guy hits on me I take it as a compliment and sometimes we even become friends. I’m appalled by these gay analogies to “teach” men how uncomfortable feels like to get hit on as a girl. It’s an insult to anyone who isn’t a prick, for one thing. My response to the analogy is to wonder if women who react so adversely to guys flirting with them are equally as wrong as homophobic men. Meanwhile, it brings to bear the lack of attraction between a hetero-gay match up. Perhaps it’s really more about sexism than about rape, after all, and all the conjectures about this brouhaha really being about dumping on socially awkward men are correct. That’s what I conclude from the gay analogy. Please use a better analogy.

    @Ebon, Elevator Guy was definitely on the same continuum of male behavior as Taxi Jerkoff. However, Elevator Guy was on that the zero point on that scale or pretty close to it. What you fail to see about Richard Dawkin’s comment is that he saw it as a case of extending the strong arm of feminism to police basic dating skills (or the lack thereof), which he obviously does not think is appropriate. It was not about relativism because it was not about comparing 5 to 10, it was about comparing 0 to 100. He felt that the case had not been made that this specific encounter is a real issue from a feminist standpoint. I think that it’s a perfectly valid stance to point this out, especially given that feminism is always struggling to NOT be seen as just a rich white woman’s movement. You can disagree and say that you feel it’s a real issue, but you really don’t have the right to drag him through the mud and jump to conclusions about the inherent sexism in his comment. That’s not necessarily what his stance is.

  • http://verbosestoic.wordpress.com/ Verbose Stoic

    Songs,

    “It is not the duty and burden of an oppressed to person to have to explain that they are oppressed to individuals who do not experience/understand their oppression. ”

    Then whose is it? I don’t think that people who don’t understand someone’s experience should have to go out and research it to figure out what that person is saying and why they’re saying it, when it’s just so much easier for them to actually explain it themselves.

    “You know why? Because it can make life pretty hellish. Having to suffer injustice is bad enough, but then having to argue – most often with the people who love you – that your hurt is valid and not made up? Can you imagine that? ”

    There’s a difference between “valid” and “not made up”. But if in their impression the hurt is at least exaggerated, that you don’t care for having to explain it does not in any way mean that you don’t have to. Especially for people who love you, whom you can thus reasonably suspect are really confused about it or genuinely disagree with you because they do have your interests in mind and don’t want you to be unhappy.

    “I’ll do the comparison that usual makes people get it: would you ever dream of telling a black person who felt they had been the victim of racism that they were probably imagining it? That it’s not a big deal – that they might even have imagined it? Well, I guess these is always the slim possibility, but instinctively you know not to challenge their sense of hurt/public shame/outrage. Why? Because it’s accepted that we live in a pretty racist world and so odds are they’re not mistaken!”

    Well, I certainly might — if I thought that they were wrong about their interpretation. Especially if that interpretation involves the motives of people who are not them, and even more especially if their interpretation involves my motives. And I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    Take this hypothetical example:

    A person at work is responsible for assigning new equipment, which will come in two phases. It happens to be the case that the new equipment goes first to white employees, and last to non-white employees. They complain that this is racist; the white employees are being treated worse than the non-white ones. However, the person says that the machines were assigned on the basis of whose deadlines came first, and that just happened to be this case. The deadlines were assigned long before the issue of equipment and can easily be seen as benefiting the non-white employees.

    In that case, I’d have no problem telling the non-white employees that they’re presuming racism there where none exists, and think that any rational person should have no problem with that.

    The same thing, to me, applies here. Watson used the word “sexualize” in her video, and McGraw’s reply focused completely on that. It’s perfectly reasonable to question whether what EG did was an attempt to sexualize or not.

    Your privilege to interpret a situation stops the instant you step outside of your own internal thoughts, feelings and motivations and start talking about someone else’s.

  • Lou Doench

    Wow, I don’t agree with everyone here, but a casual reading reveals that I lost my own bet! Congratulations onn elevating the tone of the conversation.

  • Brett

    Sarah Jane Braa….etc:

    I just have to say how highly entertained I was by Brett’s last comment.
    My personal experiences are dismissed as irrelevant, but the opinions of his “feminist women friends and girlfriend,” who can’t wait for him to come to bed, BTW, somehow count as evidence.
    And, he completely misses Ebon’s point that this isn’t about condemning Elevator Guy, but condemning the widespread misogynistic online outcry to Rebecca Watson’s reasonable commentary on the situation.

    First, I want to congratulate you on writing a comment that is not a series of six word paragraphs. If I didn’t know better, I’d take you seriously.

    I didn’t dismiss your personal experience as irrelevant, though I will do so now, because anecdotes are a terrible way to form a worldview. I mentioned earlier that I have been raped by a woman, and that doesn’t really inform my worldview, because I’m not ridiculous. I dismissed you because you seem unhinged. (Again, one-sentence paragraphs, replying to yourself, inventing statistics, regular expansion of your name, complete failure to understand analogies) So please don’t misrepresent me. To do so denies my autonomy and in an ideal world would be legally punishable under my interpretation of the Model Penal Code.

    So I dismiss you because you seem silly, and I do not dismiss my friends because they do not. If this is the wrong approach, explain why. Also explain why society and law should be based on your opinions and not those of my friends. Or that of the woman commenting on Rebecca’s last post who was dismissed as a moron because she didn’t toe the line. And why the most extreme fears of any minority group should trump everything else.

    Now, you may think Ebon is not condemning Elevator Guy, but he clumsily compares him to a rapist in this post. He even admits he could have done it better. (OH SHIT EBON DID SOMETHING SLIGHTLY OFFENSIVE IN A CLUMSY WAY; REMIND YOU OF ANYTHING? CAN WE PUNISH HIM WITH THE MODEL PENAL CODE?) But I understand what he means. He lays it out explicitly. He says that Elevator Guy’s asking Rebecca to agree to “have coffee” was motivated by the same attitudes that inspire an Egyptian taxi driver to jerk off while telling his sexual fantasies to a non-consenting female passenger whose permission he did not seek. That’s Ebon’s opinion. And he doesn’t provide any evidence or a logical basis for this. And it seems to contradict his claim that Elevator Guy was probably guilty of nothing more than a faux pas. On the surface at least, it all appears to be as ludicrous and made up as “the most dangerous thing a woman does in her life is enter a romantic relationship with a man”. (Hint: getting a driver’s licence is more likely to bring you harm)

    As for the widespread misogynistic response, this is just restating the internet feminist position.

    So Ebon is making a very, very poor comparison, and trying to pretend he’s not making a comparison at all. A good comparison is the one you completely failed to comprehend earlier. That to (fully and even legally) legitimize all statistic and demographic-based fear, as the internet feminists would have us do, means that white people would be justified in expecting black people to understand their (statistically sound) fear of them, at least relative to their fellow white people. Now, you intrepret this as “you have to let me hit on you; otherwise, you’re a racist”, presumably due to some cognitive failure. I was trying to think about how to better explain this to you, but it’s so obvious, it would be like explaining why “A is NOT A” is bad thinking.

    If you want to disagree with the race comparison, go right ahead, many have. The most common objection is that the analogy doesn’t hold, because having whites represent women and blacks represent men reverses the reality of who holds social and political power. Such a rebuttal, in contrast to your actual one, would at least superficially make sense. Of course, it’s also wrong because social and political oppression are not the issue with Elevator Guy, as nobody was afraid of EG politically oppressing Rebecca in the elevator. It was based on statistics about various demographics causing physical harm, and it stands.

  • Emburii

    Brett: I didn’t tell you what to respond to, or whether you could weigh in or not. SO I’m not sure where the hostility in your response to me comes from.

    Thank you for including the details and trying to get an informed and varied opinion from a relevant population, it does show some good faith. You’re still using terminology like ‘unhinged’ or ‘nuts’ for people you disagree with, and refusing to re-evaluate your opinion of people’s sanity even when you admit they break their perceived ‘pattern’, which does weaken your position, but you are at least willing to also call out your own (albeit in milder language) along with your critics. I notice, though, you didn’t say anything to Kacy Ray. Is he not as ‘crazy’ to you with his ‘all women are gold-differs and can’t help it’ argument? Or is it just women and feminist-identified folks that get that special ‘hysterical’ sticker?

    I don’t know if you’re unwilling or as of yet unable to take in the larger pattern at work here. It’s a difficult one to explain, and I personally think even the Schrodinger’s Rapist essay only sheds so much light on the subject. I also disagree that interest in another person is automatically objectifying, though I have to take your word for those claims since I haven’t seen them in quite those terms. In the end, though, it really does seem as if most of Ms. Watson’s critics are upset because she dared say that someone made her uncomfortable and that she’d appreciate some consideration on the circumstances next time she was approached. Not that people should never approach her, just that she’d like them to think about the situation beforehand. In your opinion, was she wrong to ask this? Why?

    (Note: if you decide to categorize me as ‘crazy’ and not actually engage with my arguments but make assumptions on their length anyway, please just say so in one ad hominem line and save us both some time and energy.)

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Jenny, Tommekey, the fact that some homophobic drunk guys might react violently to a gay guy flirting with them is a horrible way to make your case.

    Who said anything about them being drunk? And I didn’t say the response would be exclusively violent. The guy being hit on might simply respond with vulgar epithets.

    I stand by the analogy and see nothing wrong with it. It’s about the way we are condition to think by society. Guy hits on girl and we take it for granted that she just has to put up with it. Guy hits on guy, and we take it for granted that the recipient is entitled to express a strong, negative response.

    And thank you Jenhi and Jane Hay.

  • Brett

    Emburii, thanks for replying.

    Let me try to lay out where my frustration in this comes from.

    First, I only became aware of this some time after Rebecca’s initial video, and after the thing blew up. By that time, there were a few assholes saying crazy sexist things, men and women taking a balanced and fair approach, and feminists saying that you don’t “get it” unless you agree with everything they’re claiming. “Get it” has actually become a euphemism in this debate, which means “to unconditionally agree with internet feminists”.

    If I disagree with the internet feminists, and I do, I very, very frequently hear only a reference to Rebecca’s initial video. As if that’s all that has been said. It’s not. And that’s why I said don’t tell me what to respond to. Sarah says entering a romantic relationship with a man is the most dangerous thing a woman does in her life. She invents statistics. Another woman says that women don’t hate all men but would be justified in doing so. Rebecca goes from “Guys don’t do that” to “Elevator Guy was attacking my very identity”. A woman who disagrees with the internet feminists is called a moron. I don’t like it, and that’s what I’m replying to.

    And there is constant contradiction in the internet feminist side. “We’re not saying Elevator Guy is a rapist, but here’s a story about rape that really reminds me of Elevator Guy”. Okay. Or Ebon says he’s not going after Elevator Guy per se, because he did nothing morally wrong, but his defenders are inherently committing immoral actions, and do so for the same reason a man in Cairo jerked off in a taxi while forcing his sexual fantasies on an unwilling passenger. Okay. Not attacking the perp, but just his defenders. Do I have to play along with this horseshit to be in the “get it” club? Sorry, but I’m not gonna do it.

    Incidentally, Sarah is the only person in this who I would say is unhinged (other than the blatant sexists, who generally are not found on DA, except for the guy who linked to his stupid blog entry, and I called him out). She was discussing potential criminal prosecution of Elevator Guy. And she just behaves like a crazy person, as I briefly outlined above. To elaborate would be even ruder than I’ve been. And if I’ve made it sound like I’m classifying all internet feminists as unhinged, I do sincerely apologise. I think they’re wrong on this case (and bbk explains why better than I have), but I don’t think they’re bonkers.

    As for Kacy Ray, he has his approach, but he makes a good point. I would go somewhere else with it and point out that absolutely horrible sexist dickheads have absolutely no problem finding women. The kinds that inexplicably seek out dickheads as partners. I know women like this, and every woman I know knows women like this, and I would submit that this supports dickhead behavior more than Elevator Guy’s actions, or any defence of Elevator Guy’s actions. If that’s his angle fine. If he changes his name to Kacy Joe Ray-Happy, leaves comments three at a time, doesn’t know how to write paragraphs, and starts inventing statistics, then, yes, I’ll throw his ass right onto Sarah’s crazy boat.

    But to close, I can only speak for myself. I’m not responding to Rebecca’s initial video. It wouldn’t have shown up on my radar at all. I’m responding to incessant poor and contradictory argumentation, the cultish “getting it” argument, the idea that Elevator Guy’s behaviour could be criminally prosecuted, and the claim that Elevator Guy dismissed Rebecca’s autonomy, identity, control over her own body, etc etc. I’ve honestly asked female friends and colleagues for their reaction to this stuff, and about their personal feelings and fears and how they respond to them. I’ve heard a variety of things, which enlightened me to the plight of women, but none of which lines up with the stuff I’m hearing from opposing commenters on atheist blogs. I’ve also heard sympathy for men, including Elevator Guy. There’s an acknowledgement, at least in my circle of acquaintances, that this issue is complicated, that men and women are a bit different, and asshole behaviour and the most intense and fearful responses to it are not a sound foundation for a society.

  • RJK

    Re: Brett @ 35 and beyond

    I’m sorry that my questions contained an implicit accusation of dishonesty. Unfortunately, as I’ve worked through this issue across different blogs, I’ve seen a lot of people misrepresenting the situation or withholding key facts for rhetorical effect. When I first saw your post, that’s where my mind went. When I challenged you, it was not because I thought that you were being misleading. Rather, with the information that you had provided, I couldn’t be sure that you hadn’t been misleading. That being the case, I felt I needed more information, and turned to the only available source, i.e. you. I appreciate you taking the time to clarify and lay out your position in more detail.

    The only other thing I’d like to say at this point is that I think concerns about people “going after” Otis are wrongheaded. He hasn’t been outed, and we know so little about him that it doesn’t even seem possible to criticize him in any meaningful sense. We can talk about what he did, and that’s it. If I were Otis, would I feel like I’ve been raked over the coals? Probably, and I can understand why he wouldn’t come forward with his side of the story. If I were Otis, I would probably also be aware, and maybe bouyed by, the vigorous defense that people were putting up on my behalf.

    At the end of the day, I think Otis will come out of all this unscathed. The debate will run its course, some people might change their positions one way or another, Otis will remain anonymous, and he will live out his days with only a few people ever knowing that he was the one who made Ms. Watson uncomfortable in a Dublin hotel elevator.

  • Kacy Ray

    I’d like to ask for everyone’s opinion on this. Please look at Sarah’s comments #34 and #37. Specifically these statements:

    “Yeah, unfortunately for you, Kacy Ray, I consider myself to be incredibly highly socially valuable.”
    “Seriously, dude? Turn the page.”

    Does anyone else sense certain “undertones” in these statements? Perhaps a certain presumption? I don’t think it’s my imagination. Anyone else see it?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    People are trying to defend his actions from an ethical stadpoint (he’s not a bad guy he’s just socially inept) – a standpoint with which you claim to agree (as I think most of us do). But when you say things like “These aren’t different problems; they’re different manifestations of the same problem.” you are *clearly* drawing an ethical parrallel between the actions of Otis and those of Taxicab Jerkoff. It’s this ethical equivocation that I take issue with…

    I think, on the basis of the evidence available, the worst you could accuse Otis of is social ineptitude. He clearly had no malicious intent, even if he should have known better when it comes to respecting someone’s stated boundaries.

    As I said, it’s not him I’m concerned about. The ones I’m concerned about are the people who’ve thrashed this discussion to death, who’ve read the explanations from women why an encounter like that would have been unwelcome at best and frightening at worst, and who still assert that none of that matters, because men have the right to hit on women in any situation they choose, regardless of what the women may think about it. That’s the attitude that motivates street harassers in the Middle East, and that’s the parallel I intend to draw.

    Everyone, I think, has the right to one mistake. If you make a badly-judged move once, you’re excused. But if you do it again after hearing a specific argument why you shouldn’t do things like that, then yes, you’re acting unethically.

    So the suggestion that had he been a better looking man she might have welcomed his advances would have been true IF the term *better looking man* were replaced with the term *man of higher social value* (than whatever social value she perceives herself to possess).

    I’m amazed I have to keep reiterating this, but again: We don’t know who Otis really is. He could have been a hedge-fund billionaire for all anyone in this thread knows. You just can’t defend the claim that Watson would have welcomed his advance if he was more or less X, when we don’t even know what level of X-ness he may have possessed.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Now, you may think Ebon is not condemning Elevator Guy, but he clumsily compares him to a rapist in this post.

    No, I didn’t, Brett. You did that, as you can see in the following quote:

    And there is constant contradiction in the internet feminist side. “We’re not saying Elevator Guy is a rapist, but here’s a story about rape that really reminds me of Elevator Guy”.

    What I said was “Does this remind anyone of anything?”, and you were the one who decided that this meant I was calling Elevator Guy a rapist. (Honestly, it reminds me of Richard Dawkins saying “How dare you compare your minor inconvenience to the injustices suffered by Muslim women!” when the only one who made that comparison was him.)

    This is a good place, I think, to repeat something I said in a private e-mail that shows why the Cairo elevator story is relevant:

    Women’s magazines and rape-prevention counselors consistently warn women that they should be careful to avoid getting into small, enclosed spaces with strangers, especially elevators and especially at night, for just this reason. This is something that all women are taught. See for yourself:

    http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/03/08/how_to_avoid_rape_an_article_to_read__amp_pass_on_to_every_woman_you_know.htm
    http://www.womenshooters.com/wfn/preventrape.html
    http://www.cosmopolitan.com/advice/tips/how-serial-rapists-target-victims-2
    http://www.chattanooga.gov/police_department/74_preventingrape.htm

    Now obviously, the elevator guy wasn’t a rapist, nor did he have any intention of harming [Watson]. But in that instant of contact, she had no way of knowing that, and more importantly, he should have known that she had no way of knowing that. The way he approached her was the way a shy, socially inept man would choose to approach a woman, but it’s also the way a rapist might choose to isolate a target. In the moment before it became obvious which he was, it would be perfectly natural for any woman to experience a brief instant of fear. That fleeting feeling, I think, is what women usually call “creepy”.

  • http://darkenedstumbling.blogspot.com/ Leum

    A person at work is responsible for assigning new equipment, which will come in two phases. It happens to be the case that the new equipment goes first to white employees, and last to non-white employees. They complain that this is racist; the white employees are being treated worse than the non-white ones. However, the person says that the machines were assigned on the basis of whose deadlines came first, and that just happened to be this case. The deadlines were assigned long before the issue of equipment and can easily be seen as benefiting the non-white employees.

    In that case, I’d have no problem telling the non-white employees that they’re presuming racism there where none exists, and think that any rational person should have no problem with that.

    It doesn’t occur to you that the fact that the white people just happen to all have earlier deadlines than the non-white ones might be racially motivated?

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    I feel comfortable that I’ve made my point clear, and that I’ve spoken my piece (or peace).

    If anyone wishes to continue to dismiss me as crazy or twist my arguments beyond recognition, I’m not going to spend my day banging my head against a wall trying to convince them otherwise.

    The only thing I want to add is this: I made it PERFECTLY clear that I never suggested that Elevator Guy should be criminally prosecuted.

    I was discussing the MPC to show how those who were dismissing RW’s concerns were asking the wrong question. (Now I feel like Ebonmuse — how many times do I have to say the same thing over and over?)

    This discussion has devolved into a back and forth of nonsense. I’m not interested in repeating myself ad nauseum.

    If anyone chooses to dismiss my arguments, because I misremembered and miswrote a single percentage, which negates the point I was trying to make not at all, then that’s your choice. I hope you never make any mistakes in life either. Additionally, if you don’t like my style or think what I write is stupid, then stop reading it and commenting on it. It’s no skin off my back, I assure you.

    And, finally, about Richard Dawkins: I really like Jen’s recent post on Blag Hag. He made a mistake. Granted, it was a bad one. A really bad one. But he isn’t beyond redemption.

    I really hope to see him grow and change from this experience.

    In the same way that I have grown and changed from this experience.

    So, thank you again, Ebonmuse, for opening my eyes to a new perspective.

    I wish it could be so for everyone reading this thread, but, like Richard Dawkins, some take a little longer.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Brett,

    You MIGHT just want to CONSIDER the possibility that employing the “I dismiss you and your arguments, because you’re crazy” is not the best rhetorical style to adopt when the crux of the matter is the sweeping dismissal of a woman’s concerns for her personal safety.

    You could try engaging with my actual arguments, just like you could try engaging with RW’s actual concerns.

    But, why would you want to do that, when it’s so much easier to just dismiss them all as mimicry of the “internet feminist wing.”

    I don’t think Richard Dawkins is beyond redemption, but I think you might be.

    It hurts my brain to invest anymore energy into your ludicrous comments, so I’m not going to do so.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    And, just in case anyone else was wondering, my first name is actually Sarah Jane.

    And, my paternal family name is actually Braasch.

    My maternal family name is actually Joy.

    And, I’ve chosen to hyphenate my last name. (Ultimately, I’m going to drop the Braasch.)

    I know, crazy, isn’t it? Who would do something so crazy? That must be a good reason to dismiss my arguments as crazy.

    And, I use my real, actual name, because I stand behind my arguments. And, I want them to be taken seriously.

    I expect them to be taken seriously. I expect them to be critiqued. I expect them to be critiqued harshly. I want to argue about the real issues.

    I do not expect them to be dismissed, because of my real, actual name.

    So, if anyone doesn’t want to argue seriously about the real issues, then I don’t have time for you.

    My time is valuable. And, I am a serious person.

    We have too much work to do to legalize the full humanity of women to waste time on nonsense and personal attacks. It is a debilitating distraction.

    And, I’m not going to put up with it anymore.

    So, if you want to attack me personally, or dismiss me as crazy, then don’t expect a response.

    I’ve got better things to do with my time.

    Like fight for women’s rights as universal human rights without compromise.

  • Brett

    Ebon, I know you weren’t calling EG a rapist. But you conflated his case with an actual rape (for different reasons, as you’ve stated), and cheekily asked “Remind you of anything?” This on a site where your “esteemed co-author” speculated about the potential prosecution of EG. (“Don’t be that guy”, comment 41) She didn’t say he SHOULD be prosecuted, but she was headed in that direction quite strongly. And you knew very well what you were doing, as you stated above. Had you ever said in a post, and not only now in comments, that EG did nothing ethically wrong, it might have helped a bit. But then you go and say Dawkins is dismissing the all claims of Western feminists. He didn’t. If you’re going to extrapolate unreasonable conclusions from Dawkins, why would I think you’re not doing the same with Elevator Guy?

    I understand your point though, that if a man were to dismiss the concerns of all women, that would be a very bad thing. But who’s doing that? I’m asking women about their feelings on this stuff, learning a lot, and not hearing the kind of stuff I’m hearing from RW (post initial video), Sarah, or some others who have commented on this. A woman who was more “on my side” of this argument was dismissed as a moron (actually “maroon”, some kind of wordplay thing) on the Skepchick site. (I should clarify that it was by a commenter, and not by a Skepchick writer) Should I listen to that woman too? To my friends and acquaintances? Or only if they agree that the fear of some women should dictate all communication between the sexes? Should I listen to elderly white women, who might have an even more specific fear? Are my female friends self-loathing, harboring the same base instinct as the taxi masturbator? Are other dissenting women? Do they lack a sufficient fear of stranger rape?

    I want to finish by repeating that I’ve really learned a lot from talking to women about this stuff. I assumed that a woman going out on a Saturday night here in Hamburg would probably face regular verbal bullshit from assholes, and I’ve learned that it’s much more than I had expected. And again, that different women have very different perspectives on these kinds of risks. But I did hear more concern about “What happened after she said no?” than about the elevator.

    Sarah J B-J: After having engaged your false statistic, demonstrably false blanket claim, and misunderstanding of a simple analogy, and then gone on to inspire a classic triplet of back-to-back comments full of one-line paragraphs, I’m satisfied that we can call it a day. Keep on truckin’!

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    I want to take some more time to address a common thread in the comments here and on other websites, and I feel that I am in a position to do so.

    The racism analogy.

    This is a false analogy. (Saying that women being concerned for their personal safety when placed by themselves in an enclosed space with a larger, stronger man are no better than white people who are afraid of black people.)

    Consider the burqa ban debate.

    Is being afraid of and avoiding being around masked persons the same as white people being afraid of black people?

    Nope.

    Are banks who post signs prohibiting the wearing of masks inside the bank racist?

    Nope.

    Because there is a legitimate public safety concern that has absolutely nothing to do with the group identities of the alleged/potential perpetrator.

    Additionally, when a woman is hit on by a man in the public space, and she refuses to consent to interact with him or respond to him in any way, or if she tells him, in no uncertain terms, to leave her alone, she has legitimate legal/rights concerns to worry about.

    Women do not have access to their full humanity, their full personhood, legally speaking. Not even in the US.

    A woman knows that she places herself in legal jeopardy; she compromises her rights, if she consents to interact with this person. Because she is a woman.

    White people do not compromise their legal rights, because they are white, if they consent to interact with black people in the public space.

    (I just want to make clear — I interact with men in the public space all day long, every day. I am speaking specifically about being hit upon by men in the public space.)

    And, finally, the issue of the MPC.

    I recognize the concern that we don’t wish to stigmatize men or dehumanize women.

    If anyone has been following this website for any length of time, you will know that I have often resisted Ebonmuse’s arguments that we provide special accommodations to women to make them feel safe and welcome in the atheist community, because I think those accommodations are paternalistic protections, which legitimize the lesser status of women, and exacerbate the problem, not diminish it.

    I have always averred that we should treat all persons equally, as human beings, with the respect and dignity that that status demands.

    I am trying to address this real issue in a new way, which doesn’t stigmatize men or dehumanize women, but which addresses women’s real concerns for their personal safety and their legal rights.

    If you are expecting women to expose themselves to legal liability, so that you can hit on them in the public space, then you are expecting too much.

    So, what can we do?

    Well, if we look at the Model Penal Code’s definition of both criminal negligence and assault, I think we might have a possible answer.

    When can we say that someone should have been aware that he/she would have provoked fear of imminent bodily harm in another person (male or female) without stigmatizing men (or being racist) or dehumanizing women?

    That is the issue we should be addressing.

    I think the answer has to do with size/strength and context, regardless of gender or race or whatever other group identities of the alleged/potential perpetrator and the alleged/potential victim.

    We do the exact same thing in other legal contexts.

    People with special knowledge (doctors, for example) are held to different reasonable person standards in civil negligence cases, etc.

    I’m still processing this — but I feel like this is the way to go.

    And, I think we can remove this definition from the criminal law context and apply it to our everyday personal relationships/interactions.

    And, in case anyone was wondering — this is how you address a real argument in a serious fashion, without employing ad hominem attacks and specious sophistry.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    I’m going to say this one last and final time.

    I NEVER even suggested that Elevator Guy should be criminally prosecuted.

    NEVER.

    If anyone says otherwise, this is a brazen and bald-faced lie.

    I used the discussed circumstances to illustrate how the Model Penal Code’s definition of criminal negligence and assault shows us that those who were making sweeping dismissals of RW were asking themselves the wrong question.

    Just as I was exceedingly careful not to accuse any actual persons of having perpetrated any crimes, I strongly suggest that all others be careful not to do this as well.

  • Brett

    I’ll bite!

    You address the racism analogy by tacking on a second analogy, and it just doesn’t work.

    The fact is, if it’s justifiable to criminalise the invocation of fear based on statistics, white people have a right to make certain demands of black people. If people wearing burqas were statistically more likely to commit crimes, then maybe that would be relevant. But that’s not the case, as far as I know. Your analogy does not work on any level.

    I see what you’re saying, of course, about a woman losing legal rights in a sense because she was agreeable with a man who later raped her in private. It’s a good point. But the reason that happens is that the disgusting crime of rape can be very difficult to prove. Your forthcoming proposal about criminalising behaviour like that of EG, is probably not going to work. I don’t see how a corrosive social environment will stop actual rapes.

    So the problem is that there are rapists in the world, and that rape can be difficult to prove, especially given that it happens with non-strangers a majority of the time. The nature of the crime is what complicates the issue, and not the law. The law can be sexist in both directions, and usually with unfortunate good reason. When I was raped by a woman, I’m quite sure that if a pregnancy had resulted, I would be paying for that child now. We can also get into the fact that men have far less reproductive choice than do women. But there’s no reason to, because addressing that point would require restrictions on women more grevious than the current problem. As would the approach of criminalising misguided comeons.

    But to repeat, the racism analogy is completely valid. A black man is more likely statistically to harm me than a white man, and he must be held accountable for my fear.

    EDIT: “Don’t be that guy”, comment 41. Sarah discussed the hypothetical prosecution of Elevator Guy. She didn’t say it SHOULD happen explicitly, but read it for yourself. She made a preface that it was hypothetical, but the actual discussion was anything but.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Regardless of statistics (but I think the statistics back me up, and I will post a link to some below), women expose themselves to tremendous legal/rights deficiencies when they enter into a romantic/sexual relationship with a man, and, even, when they consent to date, enter a private space alone with a man, physical contact with a man, etc., etc..

    This is why consenting to a romantic/sexual relationship with a man is the most dangerous thing a woman does in her life.

    Because a woman will no longer be protected by our laws, courts, and police forces in the same way as she would have been as a single woman interacting with strangers in the public space.

    But, if you want statistics, here are some statistics for you:

    One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

    An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

    85% of domestic violence victims are women.

    Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew.

    Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.

    Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

    And, here is where those statistics came from:

    http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    People don’t feel fear in social situations, because they’ve memorized the Department of Justice’s national statistics on crime in the US.

    Their fear can be based on rational arguments or irrational arguments.

    If I’m afraid of black people, because they’re black, that’s irrational.

    If I’m afraid because I’m in an elevator with someone who is twice my size, and he is physically approaching me, looking at me lasciviously, and asking me for a date, that’s rational.

    And, not because of statistics.

    Just like it’s rational for me to be wary of masked persons.

    But, even so, I’m NOT even suggesting that we criminalize this elevator behavior (I do suggest that we criminalize the wearing of masks in public, but different topic) (how many Fing times do I have to say this, really?). I am suggesting that we use the Model Penal Code as a guide to suggest how we might address this real issue, even in a non-criminal context.

    But, regardless, my point about the diminishment of women’s rights still applies.

    If lascivious elevator guy (my hypothetical guy, NOT THE ELEVATOR GUY) approaches me, asking me for a date, and I let him kiss me, he can use this against me, and my legal protections will be diminished accordingly. In fact, just the fact that I chose to enter an elevator with a guy alone can be used against me and diminishes my legal/rights protections.

    Just as I was personally attacked for choosing to go to Morocco by myself. It’s basically as if people were saying that I consented to being physically mauled by the nation-state of Morocco.

    So, the next time a man approaches a strange woman in public to hit on her, I just want him to think about that.

    He is asking her to place her rights/legal protections in jeopardy, so that he can hit on her.

    Do you really think she shouldn’t be concerned?

    That she doesn’t have a right to be concerned?

    Do you really think this is a reasonable thing to do?

    Do you think it’s reasonable to ask another human being to place her legal/rights protections in jeopardy, so that you can hit on them?

    And, no, black people don’t ask white people to place their legal/rights protections in jeopardy when they approach them or speak to them.

    But, when a man approaches me in public and hits on me, that is exactly what he is doing.

    That’s why the sweeping dismissals of these concerns are so infuriating.

    That’s why I react emotionally.

    I get emotional when my human and civil and constitutional rights are at stake. And, those of all women everywhere in the world.

    Again,

    If men want women to feel comfortable being hit upon in public, then I guess we better roll up our sleeves, because we’ve got some work to do legalizing the fully human status of women in the US.

    And, throughout the world.

  • Brett

    I can’t believe how much of comment 65 I agree with. Sort of. Progress!

    But you’re still totally wrong about the race analogy. Unfortunately it IS rational to fear black people more than white people. Sorry, it’s a statistical fact. I don’t, you shouldn’t, and I don’t like racial profiling, but the tone of the Elevator Guy discussion is headed straight there. Your point, which is correct, that white people don’t put their rights at risk by engaging a black person is irrelevant. That isn’t the immediate concern in the elevator.

    But yeah, a guy twice your size who physically approaches you in an elevator asking you for a date with a creepy look in his eyes, yeah, you should be afraid, and do your best to hurt him and have him prosecuted. But that has nothing to do with Elevator Guy, and that’s why a lot of people are really annoyed by the tone of the discussion.

    However, if we want to use the law to penalise dickheads who hassle my friends on the subway Saturday nights, great. Just a fine, but I’d like to see them pile up until they can’t afford their hair gel anymore.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    But, the point about the diminishment of women’s rights/legal protections is EXACTLY the issue in the Elevator Guy scenario (the actual Elevator Guy, not my hypothetical Elevator Guy).

    Even if a totally nice guy in bright sunlight in the middle of a busy town square approaches me and asks me for coffee,

    he is still asking me to consent to interact with him, which immediately places my rights/legal protections in jeopardy.

    Women just want men to be cognizant of this fact.

    It doesn’t mean I want to criminalize asking women out.

    But, be aware that women have legal protections / rights concerns in this situation that men do not have.

    And, the racism analogy is still a false analogy,

    because white people do not place their legal protections / rights in jeopardy in the middle of a busy square in broad daylight in the middle of the day when black people approach them asking for directions.

  • Mrnaglfar

    The ones I’m concerned about are the people who’ve thrashed this discussion to death, who’ve read the explanations from women why an encounter like that would have been unwelcome at best and frightening at worst, and who still assert that none of that matters, because men have the right to hit on women in any situation they choose, regardless of what the women may think about it. That’s the attitude that motivates street harassers in the Middle East, and that’s the parallel I intend to draw.

    The one’s I’m concerned about the people who continue to assume that all women have the same comfort level. Some women will find it unwelcome; some will find it frightening; some won’t.The women I’ve talked to agreed no bad happened here, so let’s not just cast their opinions aside because they don’t agree with the opinions of real women.

    The point is not that men have a right to hit on women whenever the choose, regardless of what the woman thinks. The first point is that men don’t know what any given woman thinks until he asks her, and if he asks, and she declines, then nothing bad happened. The other point is that women (or men) don’t a right to not feel uncomfortable or offended. People seem to be confusing “She felt offended” with “something offensive happened”. There’s a big difference.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Mrnaglfar,

    Regardless of whether or not you can find a woman who says she ONLY wants much larger, stronger guys to hit on her, using misogynistic epithets, in dark alleys in the middle of the night when she’s alone,

    when a totally nice guy approaches her to hit on her in broad daylight in the middle of a busy town square,

    her legal protections/rights are still placed in jeopardy.

    Whether she appreciates his approach or no.

  • Brett

    Sarah J B-J: Nope. That’s a different issue. The fear in the elevator is “This guy might do something”, not “After this guy does something, I’m going to have a hard time proving it”. And even if that were the issue, it still applies more to men (as opposed to women) and blacks (as opposed to whites). Sorry, it stands.

    Mrnaglfar: Nice to see that your women friends are freaks like my women friends, and are in the “not getting it” club. I was starting to feel weird. :-)

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Brett,

    You’re still in the not getting it club.

    It has nothing AT ALL to do with what the guy making the approach might or might not do.

    It has to do with the WOMAN’s legal status as a human being.

    Regardless of what the guy making the approach might or might not do, I am not willing to place my legal protections/rights in jeopardy.

    I really want you to get this point.

    I think you’re almost there.

    Seriously.

    The woman’s status as a human being is diminished, even if the guy is a totally nice guy who ends up loving her and marrying her and they move in together and have kids together and grow old together and die in their sleep in each other’s arms.

    The woman’s legal status as a human being and a citizen of the US is still lessened by her consenting to interact with him.

    She would have had more legal protections/rights, if she had told him to F off.

    I’m really wanting you to see this.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    I think, ultimately, the answer is simple.

    If men want women to feel comfortable being hit upon in the public space, then,

    we need to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified.

    Who’s with me?

    Any men out there who want to be free to pursue sex and romance with women in the public space?

  • http://darkenedstumbling.blogspot.com/ Leum

    The point is not that men have a right to hit on women whenever the choose, regardless of what the woman thinks. The first point is that men don’t know what any given woman thinks until he asks her, and if he asks, and she declines, then nothing bad happened. The other point is that women (or men) don’t a right to not feel uncomfortable or offended. People seem to be confusing “She felt offended” with “something offensive happened”. There’s a big difference.

    No, it’s not possible to know in every given situation if a woman will be creeped out by being hit on. But it is possible to know in some situations. In a confined space, with no easy out, late at night, with no other people around is one such situation.

    And while women don’t have a right not to feel uncomfortable, it behooves people who want women to be members of their group to make some simple, basic steps that will make women more comfortable.

  • Brett

    Sarah J B-J: I understand what you’re saying. But it doesn’t apply to the analogy that was being discussed. At any rate, I have no problem whatsoever remaining in the not getting it club.

    There’s definitely something to what you’re saying about “rights”, but I think you’re missing the mark with your terminology. The state of affairs is a result of the nature of rape and burden of proof. It’s unfortunate, and probably not changeable without introducing draconian measures that would make for more net evil and not less. Women in the countries I’ve lived in (USA and Germany) have full status as human beings and citizens. The murky nature of burden of proof in trying rape cases is the problem, it’s not likely to go away (how could it?), and that is why, indeed, being agreeable with another person can make things slightly more difficult if worse comes to worst and must be legally demonstrated. And this same murkiness is present in many other legal situations.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Leum, it’s only possible to know what some women, in the general sense, might want. Given that context matters – who the woman is, who the man is, how the woman is feeling, how the man approaches her, etc – it becomes very hard to generalize from what some, not all, women think. There have been women who have spoken up in these threads about how they think Watson is making a big deal out of nothing and think nothing bad happened. That would make up the sentiments in my immediate friend group that I’ve talked to as well.

    Maybe this is cynical of me, but I even get the sense that the elevator incident and some of the support that came out in favor of Watson could be part of the same motivation. That there are guys out there who want to appear to be the ones who “get it” so they can come off as being nice guys to try and get women to show up/the attention of women who already do. I’m sure everyone would deny that up and down, but I get the distinct feeling its out there. Wonder which one women would consider creepier, on average.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    [Sarah]: If men want women to feel comfortable being hit upon in the public space, then, we need to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified.

    It should be ratified because it’s the right thing to do. I am doubtful that it would have any immediate effects on socialization. Maybe on the next generation…?

    [Mrnaglfar]: Maybe this is cynical of me, but I even get the sense that the elevator incident and some of the support that came out in favor of Watson could be part of the same motivation. That there are guys out there who want to appear to be the ones who “get it” so they can come off as being nice guys to try and get women to show up/the attention of women who already do. I’m sure everyone would deny that up and down, but I get the distinct feeling its out there. Wonder which one women would consider creepier, on average.

    Oh, I see how it is. Men who take the “woman’s” side of the argument are obviously just liars looking for favors. They’re also the real creeps, unlike “real men” who know better than to listen to a woman seriously.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Leum, it’s only possible to know what some women, in the general sense, might want. Given that context matters – who the woman is, who the man is, how the woman is feeling, how the man approaches her, etc – it becomes very hard to generalize from what some, not all, women think.

    I would really love to hear an explanation of why this argument couldn’t also be used to defend the behavior of the Taxi Jerkoff guy recounted in my post. Hey, women all like different things, it’s unfair to generalize! Maybe some women would have wanted him to masturbate in the front seat of his cab while describing his sexual fantasies to them! There’s no way he could have known in advance it would bother this one specific woman! He’s not a mind-reader!

  • Mrnaglfar

    Because public masturbation is considered totally socially – and legally – acceptable, just like talking to someone else is, right?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    OK, two things about that:

    First: When did “social acceptability” become the standard here? How is that not a complete 180-degree reversal of everything you’ve been arguing up to this point?

    Second: In Egypt, what that guy did apparently is acceptable – at least as far as the men are concerned. Does that make it all right?

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    If anyone thinks that American women don’t understand that their legal protections / rights are curtailed the moment that they consent to interact with a man in any way, then read this:

    http://news.yahoo.com/texas-woman-loses-iraq-rape-case-against-kbr-210931043.html

    Pay particular attention to the reaction of the mother of the alleged rape victim.

    Or this,

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10733669&ref=rss

    This article is very brief and doesn’t delve into the issues, but I just wanted to point out that this was worldwide news. This online article is from New Zealand.

    How could we not know that we are second class citizens, and that our legal protections/rights will be further eroded the moment we consent to interact with a man, when we have my good buddy Antonin Scalia telling us this in the press pretty much all the time.

    The moment I started typing this, I remembered a made for tv movie from when I was in high school starring Annabeth Gish. She was raped by her college dorm roomie’s super popular jock boyfriend, and she was vilified for coming forward by everyone — men and women. And, her behavior was pored over with a fine tooth comb.

    I obviously internalized that message, since I remember it some 20 years later.

    I’m just saying that women have received the message loud and clear, and we do think about this when a man approaches us in public to hit on us.

    Even if the guy is the nicest guy in the world and it’s the middle of the day in broad daylight in the middle of a busy town square.

    Men do not have to worry about their rights/legal protections being lessened when a woman approaches them in public to ask them out.

    But, stop for one second, and imagine what it must be like to have to constantly weigh those considerations while maneuvering through the public space in everyday life.

    So, maybe someone reading this won’t call a woman a stuck up bitch the next time he gets told to F off.

    Or, maybe someone reading this will think about the context and the woman’s perception of her personal safety the next time he decides to approach a woman.

    Because, if we already understand that our rights will be curtailed and that the laws, courts, and police forces are not going to protect us in the same way if we choose to interact with a guy who is approaching us in public to hit on us, then why on earth would a man choose to do so in such a manner, which places the woman’s personal safety in jeopardy, from the woman’s perspective?

    And, I think we can define how the man (or anyone) should have been aware of perceived threat to personal safety in terms of context and size/strength differentials, using the MPC’s definitions of assault and criminal negligence as guides (only guides — I’m not suggesting we criminalize anyone for hitting on women in public).

    Anyhoo, I don’t really know what else to say about the situation or how to make my point anymore clear.

    I have to devote some time to my Ni Putes Ni Soumises page today, so thanks to everyone who took the time to read anything that I have written.

    I really appreciate it. I know that in these threads on this subject, my mental path was bit meandering, but I think something quite productive and constructive came out of it in the end.

    Take care all.

  • Mrnaglfar

    I don’t know if public masturbation is illegal in Egypt, though I assume it is. I don’t assume that as far as the men are concerned represents one momental opinion. Let’s stop making this out to be some kind of gender war. It’s not one. Men and women are not opposing camps. I’m sure many Egyptian men, probably the vast majority of them, oppose guys pulling out their dicks and jerking off just because they feel like it. If you have some statistics to refute that assumption, I’d be very interested to see them.

    The point, again, comes down to drawing a comparison between something that isn’t at all bad – man flirts, woman rejects, he accepts – with some that is illegal and forces a sexual situation onto someone who’s consent hasn’t been gained – public masturbation. In one case, he’s trying to gain her consent and accepting her “no”; in the other case, you see someone either not bothering to try and obtain consent before acting, or acting in spite of that consent. It’s a very bad analogy, unless you’re going to argue that people need to consent to being talked to. The elevator guy situation has already been compared to sexual harassment and rape, so hell, let’s just add public masturbation to that list. That won’t sound insane at all.

    Since you just posted on circumcision, that reminds me of a similar case of something like this. I recall PZ posting about why FGM is bad (which I don’t think anyone disagreed with), but when some people had the nerve to say “what about male circumcision? Both are cases where the genitals of a person are surgically altered without their consent and both have ties to trying to prevent sexual activity”, do you remember what happened? People basically told those people arguing against circumcision to “grow a thicker skin” and “stop whining” because the two aren’t even comparable.

    On PZ’s blog, circumcision and FGM were generally believed to not be even in the same ballpark, yet flirting on an elevator was equated to rape, stalking, and harassment. I assume this was probably done by largely the same group of people. I can’t be the only one who sees that logical disconnect.

  • Kacy Ray

    Sarah,

    I wanted to ask you a question. I wanted to ask you what your vision for an idea society is, where woman are fully recognized as human beings with all the legal rights that men have. What would be different then than it is now, and how it would play out in practical terms?

    I wanted to ask you that in a FB message because it’s off topic for this thread, but you’ve got that thing locked down so tight with security measures that the only way I’d have been able to do that is by sending you a friend request, and judging by your comments 34 and 37, it seems any attempt I make to be cordial or friendly is interpreted by you as some sort of pick up line, and I’d hate to risk infringing on your personhood or humanity by sending you an unsolicited friend request in order to have polite conversation.

    So I’ll have to settle for asking here.

  • http://darkenedstumbling.blogspot.com/ Leum

    Can’t speak for Sarah, but here’s one thing I’d like to see: in most cases, we don’t deny that a crime occurred. Absent overwhelming evidence, we don’t doubt that there was a bank robbery, that someone was killed, that the diamonds were stolen. I’d like to see that extended to rape. Rape victims who claim to have been raped should be believed; we shouldn’t deny that a rape took place. The burden of proof on the prosecution should be to prove that the defendant was the rapist in question, not that a rape took place at all.

  • http://verbosestoic.wordpress.com/ Verbose Stoic

    Leum,

    The problem here is that what makes something a crime in this case is whether consent wsa given or not. If the defendant claims that the sex was consensual, the prosecution will indeed have to demonstrate that that didn’t occur. Because of this, these cases look more like lawsuits than like other crimes.

  • Kacy Ray

    Leum,

    I disagree. If Johnny is walking around, then we absolutely DO doubt that he was murdered. If the diamonds are still in the shelf, we absolutely DO doubt that they were stolen. If the money is still in the vault, we absolutely DO doubt that the bank was robbed.

    These crimes are investigated only after a body is found, diamonds are missing with a cracked display case (and usually a video to accompany), or a bank vault is shown to have been compromised. The evidence only needs to be scaled to the proposition.

    Two very specific factors – factors that have NOTHING to do with cultural sexism – are at play with your proposition. One, women falsely use their vulnerability as a weapon in hurling accusations at men. Women routinely use a rape plea as a weapon against men. This doesn’t happen nearly as frequently as rape itself, but it does happen, and as far as I’m concerned, the crime of false accusation should be prosecuted as harshly as the crime of rape itself (for the reason that false accusations of rape do almost as much damage and disservice to true victims as the rapists themselves).

    The second factor is the reality that women have the option the change their minds after sexual intercourse, and decide that they never really wanted to bring that guy from the club home in the first place, or that maybe now that they’re sober, they suffer from buyers remorse and dangit… maybe if I hadn’t drank so much I wouldn’t have banged this guy, his best friend, and his girlfriend last night! Maybe her boyfriend might be upset when he finds out (or her politician father) and maybe claiming she was raped is a much better option.

    [I was stationed in Okinawa in 2007 when a very high-profile case involving a Marine Staff Sergeant took place that resulted in all of us being locked down on base for months. He picked up a 14 year old girl on his motorcycle and spent time with her. He wound up kissing her and engaging in other very light forms of affection (completely consensual, completely harmless, completely inappropriate, completely ill-advised, completely in poor judgment, but completely not rape). However when she got home and her father flew into a rage, she claimed she was raped. It caused an international outcry and suddenly we were all under a microscope. It turned out the charges were entirely fabricated. It was just a girl who didn't want to get in trouble with her father. For this, an entire swath of military personnel in the Pacific region suffered, as well as the reputation of a nation.]

    THIS, and NOT because of sexism, is why a rape accusation is not the same as an accusation of murder, robbery, or theft.

    So let me ask you this – seeing as how much damage is caused by false accusations, are you prepared to reserve as much rage for those women who do that as you are for true rapists? Are you prepared to admit that the power a 14 year old girl had, the power the damage the reputation (not to mention the bullshit we had to hear from our senior leadership) of tens of thousands of good people, is one hell of a tradeoff?

    You know, had a Marine under my charge claim that he had been sexually assaulted by a woman, he’d have been laughed out of the room. But some 14 year old Japanese kid with poor ethics claims it and the whole world listens.

    Hmmm… Gee, must be terrible to be a woman. Poor, helpless souls.

    Rape is a terrible crime that should be prosecuted relentlessly. But let’s not use that fact to pretend that it’s a crime which is as unambiguous as murder or theft. Let’s just not, eh?

  • Sarah

    Two very specific factors – factors that have NOTHING to do with cultural sexism – are at play with your proposition. One, women falsely use their vulnerability as a weapon in hurling accusations at men. Women routinely use a rape plea as a weapon against men. This doesn’t happen nearly as frequently as rape itself, but it does happen, and as far as I’m concerned, the crime of false accusation should be prosecuted as harshly as the crime of rape itself (for the reason that false accusations of rape do almost as much damage and disservice to true victims as the rapists themselves).

    A false accusation of rape is one of the worst things a human being can do to another. I believe that rape education in schools should include study on the terrible harm that is inflicted via a false claim. A false claim has the potential to destroy a man’s reputation in his community (and deprive him of liberty if he is sent to jail.)

    I believe in unbiased counselling after accusation of rape – to give the accuser some mental space and reflection before proceeding with the rape claim.
    Men have rights too – and this should never be taken away.

    Also, no woman, child or man should ever have to fear rape or to have rape happen to them. It’s a crime that doesn’t belong in our society.

    No, you cannot compare rape to theft – because rape is violence. Forcing sex on someone is violence, full stop. All rapes are violent whereas not all theft involves violence.

    I am very sure a man would not like to be held down by one or more persons who are bigger and stronger and who will ejaculate dangerous bodily fluids into them (the danger including STDs and AIDS).
    Women who are raped also have the worry of a pregnancy, the humiliation of being unable to protect herself, the possible scorn of others upon telling – and the terror of it happening to her again (remembering that most men will be bigger and stronger than most women.)

    And the above is not even including the rapes that include bashing, broken bones or murder.

    Rubbing your penis against someone in a lift is sexual assault and should be prosecuted. No argument. It’s just a small step away from rape.

  • Warren

    I spent a couple of nights thinking about this before posting the following, and it may be still off the mark, but anyhoo, let’s see if it makes sense.

    The idea that men should be aware of the effect that they have on women shouldn’t be limited to just interactions between genders. The same principle should be applied to any situation where you find yourself having a position of ‘privilege’. Privilege comes in other forms, not just male privilege… you may be in a group of people walking down a street with the only other person in the street being a lone person walking towards your group… you may be wealthy… physically attractive… famous… white… heterosexual. These are just some examples where being aware of the effect you have on the person without privilege can help smooth the social lubricant. People are more respectful, people walk around feeling less targeted and more included. Yay for everyone!

    But i do think there are very serious negatives that this implies. The first is that each of us are now partly responsible for another’s thoughts and emotions regardless of whether anything happened or not. Consider the scenario above about the group and the lone person… but now add that it is now night, the street is dark, and the group are behaving in an agressive way towards each other (bumping, teasing, shouting, insulting each other).. if that lone person feels fear because they are aware that being alone with a group of drunks on a deserted street late at night increases your risk of being assulted, which is a quite rational thing to do, should that group be at fault for causing that fear? Is it right that they are guilty until proven innocent, without evidence other than because they are fitting a statistical model? Should they be responsible for the way the lone person is feeling? Under the privilege awareness system, the answer is yes all three questions. It now becomes ok that we are allowed to blame others for our own prejudices, regardless of being rational or not… not just that we HAVE prejudices, but others are at fault for us having them. It is now a case where the other group is in part responsible for the individual’s mental thoughts. The other group should of been aware of their privilege and should have done everything in their power to ensure that the lone person does not feel fear… fear that stems from their own prejudices which the group would have no way of knowing they held or didn’t.

    The other important aspect of this is that it can also dehumanize everyone. Everyone, instead of being regarded as an individual, are now considered a statistic… or probability. Here is a group of people on a dark street… to the lone person, they are now no longer a group of individuals, they are now matched against the probabilty of assault statistics. The argument that people need to know their privilege level and be aware that those that are not in the same position as you may be fearful of you is one thing… but to then ask that people then change based on that awareness is to also ask that they accept that they are being pre-judged based on statistics, or ignorance, or just on someone’s state of mind at that time… that they accept that they are being dehumanized… regardless of intent, evidence, or a defence. In effect, the loner IS presuming that the group is going to do them harm, the loner is taking the fear caused, either via a statistic or direct experience, by a third party and putting the blame that should be ONLY reserved for the third party on to the group they are now facing.

    In the end, I think, it’s important to address two issues here. One is that, in the case of women, most if not all will be judging a situation based on various factors. One of which WILL be ‘are they going to be raped/assaulted/flirted with etc’. This is the reality of their situation. The other is that, in the same scenario, the guy will have been pre-judged, and YES even labelled even for a split second while the female sums-up the situation, as being a potential rapists etc before they even have a chance of ‘fair trial’… and YES this is a dehumanizing thing to do, and YES the guy is being blamed for something a small percentage of the population does. But from my perspective, it’s critically important for the guy to realise it’s not about THEM when a woman does that… it’s about the situation.

    It’s also (and this is what I hope will not be taken the wrong way) important for women to re-evaluate their prejudices. I’m putting this out knowing that I’m potentially wrong, so I hope someone can point out where. This stems from something that was said on another blog about this Elevator Guy topic. A gay man was talking about the fact that they also feel targeted and fearful of being assaulted/raped etc, and a female commentator said that just because the guy is a part of one ‘prosecuted’ part of society doesn’t mean they have the right/knowledge to comment on the plight of another prosecuted group like women. But in a way, neither does that woman. There are many factors that are a part of rape statistics, and just by being a woman, while it may automatically increase your chances of being raped, doesn’t mean that the situation a woman is in means they will also be raped/assaulted/etc. For example, for every rape case, if we’re looking at the statistics alone, what are the percentage of those rape cases are based on race, religion, socio-economic factors, and how do they then apply to you as a woman? If you’re a white woman of middle income in a relationship, and the statistic says that 25% of women in relationships will be assaulted by their partner, what is the percentage of that 25% are white middle income women? IF, and this is a hypothetical, only 5% of that 25% are white middle income women, doesn’t mean that the woman has any more right to say that they are at a 25% chance of being assaulted by their partner. At what point does a statistic become so low that thinking you’re going to be raped in any given situation becomes irrational. I’m not saying that it’s WRONG to think that a woman will be raped (because quite obviously woman have been raped), but is it justifiable to think that in every situation?

    So what can we do? Being aware of the issue is one thing, but through awareness I would hope that we can be more pro-active in creating a society where a woman doesn’t NEED to think those things. I’d also hope that we are being more pro-active that we are creating a society where ANY group of people don’t need to think they are going to be assaulted.

  • http://darkenedstumbling.blogspot.com/ Leum

    I don’t think it shouldn’t be permissible to ever argue that the alleged victim is lying, just that the burden of proof shouldn’t be on her (or him) to prove that she (or he) didn’t consent. Despite rape shield laws, rape victims are still relentlessly bullied, questioned at every turn, and made to look like sluts in an attempt to prove that their lack of consent doesn’t really matter. My suggestion would help to correct for this.

    I also disagree that being accused of rape is just as bad as being raped. The vast majority of people accused of rape are never prosecuted and those who are are rarely convicted (note, opens as Word doc). The media generally supports the accused rapist over the alleged victim, especially if the victim is seen as being insufficiently virginal.

  • Kacy Ray

    Warren,

    Bravo. You are right on the money, brother.

    Leum,

    “Despite rape shield laws, rape victims are still relentlessly bullied, questioned at every turn, and made to look like sluts in an attempt to prove that their lack of consent doesn’t really matter.”

    Only by defense attorneys and their cronies.

    “The media generally supports the accused rapist over the alleged victim, especially if the victim is seen as being insufficiently virginal.”

    That’s because an accused rapist is not a convicted rapist, and an alleged victim is exactly that – an alleged victim.

    You do realize, don’t you, that YOU are subject to accusations of sexual predation? YOU are not exempt from such accusations. If you were accused tomorrow of sexual misconduct with a 7 year old, would you feel it was alright for the whole goddamned country to know about it? Would you feel that you you at least had the right to a trail before you were convicted by the court of public opinion?

    And that goes for every single person reading my words right now. YOU are not exempt from ANY accusation, so think very carefully before questioning the rights of the accused. You are not exempt. Yes, I’m talking to YOU.

  • http://darkenedstumbling.blogspot.com/ Leum

    Okay, let’s make that supposition. Obviously I’d be pilloried by the media, by society, by the courts. Our society is very harsh on accused child molesters. I would probably be killed in prison and everyone would say, “Good riddance.” Obviously, I don’t approve of this. I don’t approve of the way the media parades accused criminals before the public eye for everyone to judge. The recent Casey Whatshername case is a perfect example of what not to do.

    But say I were accused of raping one of my female friends (who are around my age). It’s very likely that my accuser would be analyzed by the media to see if she’d done anything slutty or dressed slutty or allowed me into her house alone etc etc. Anything that might indicate she “deserved” to get raped. People would wonder why she hadn’t taken more precautions, why she’d been friends with a twenty-something guy at all. I would be let off far more lightly. In all probability no one would believe her word against mine, I probably wouldn’t even be charged with rape and, if I were, I’d almost certainly be acquitted. And that’s not how it should be.

  • Kacy Ray

    People fling around terms extremely loosely. When I hear these conversation about how a woman was “asking for it”, I hear two things: 1) What they individual is “saying” and 2) What the individual is likely trying to “communicate”.

    Over the years I have become convinced that people who use that phrase (or anything like it) are not actually claiming that a victim literally asked to be victimized. What they are claiming is that women sometimes demonstrate spectacularly bad judgment, and in doing so they are “asking” for trouble much in the way that a kid who pokes a stick at a viscous dog is “asking” to get bitten, a hapless home intruder is “asking” to get put in jail, or a bumbling goofball like Otis was “asking” to get rejected. They don’t mean it in the literal sense, so to argue that no woman is asking to get raped is useless. The fact that a victim cannot literally asked to be victimized is almost tautological.

    (Substitute the word “deserve” in, and the idea still holds. The term “deserves” implies justice, so the term “deserves to be victimized” is self-contradictory).

    With your comment #90 you’ve waded into the waters of justified credibility, and I think you’ve slid headfirst into a fantasy world of idealism. Ideally ALL people who told the truth would be believed, and ALL liars would be seen as liars (whether for leveling false accusations or for falsely proclaiming their innocence). But since we as human being cannot possibly know who is being honest and who is lying without a careful analysis of ALL the relevant facts (including analyzing an individuals character), the sad reality is that we have no choice but to go on whatever information we have.

    And yes, that means a persons character and judgment is *fair game* when trying to determine who is telling the truth and who isn’t.

    Sorry, but the facts don’t just present themselves. We can only go by what information we have available at any given time. Maybe that’s not how it should be, but that’s how it is.

  • Danikajaye

    Kacy Ray, if I have to read any more of your rape apologia I’m going to vomit on my keyboard.

  • Kacy Ray

    Danika – then I suggest you either stop reading or get a clue about what I’m saying.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    I’m sure many Egyptian men, probably the vast majority of them, oppose guys pulling out their dicks and jerking off just because they feel like it. If you have some statistics to refute that assumption, I’d be very interested to see them.

    Wait a minute here. Are you saying that what the majority of people approve of is a relevant consideration? If I could produce a study showing that 51% or more of Egyptian men approve of what that taxi driver did, would you then say that it was OK?

    In one case, he’s trying to gain her consent and accepting her “no”; in the other case, you see someone either not bothering to try and obtain consent before acting, or acting in spite of that consent.

    So what? You’ve spent the entire thread up until now arguing that there’s no right or wrong way to approach a woman because women’s preferences differ, and some might welcome a particular conversational technique while others might reject it, and there’s no way to tell in advance which is which. Well, I say that principle holds in exactly the same way when it comes to public masturbation. I’m sure we could find some women who wouldn’t mind. Does that make this a morally acceptable way to initiate contact with a woman? Or are you now saying that certain approach techniques can be disqualified in advance based on their anticipated effects on some women?

  • Danikajaye

    Kacy Ray, are you comparing rape victims to kids that poke dogs with sticks and home intruders? Are you saying that *some* people think like that and you do not? Or do you think that too? It isn’t clear from your post.

  • Kacy Ray

    I’m pointing out that people very frequently use imprecise language, so to argue against what they’re “saying” is pointless when what they’re “saying” isn’t what they’re actually trying to communicate.

    I also pointed out that to suggest that anyone merits victimization is self-refuting, so I owe you nice healthy “Fuck you” for suggesting that I’m defending rapists. Whatever else you and I discuss, just know that you’ve earned that one.

    I wasn’t comparing rape victims to dogs, I was comparing an ACT OF BAD JUDGMENT to other ACTS OF BAD JUDGMENT. If you are incapable of thinking in terms of principle, please just cease this dialogue now before you embarrass yourself further. It’s not like you’re contributing anything useful and to be honest, your suggestion that I endorse rape has chapped my ass and I don’t think I’d be missing out on much if you were to just bow out gracefully at this point.

    In light of your immediately hostile approach to me, I don’t think I could even be cordial to you at this point.

  • http://darkenedstumbling.blogspot.com/ Leum

    Kacy Ray, there really are people who do believe that people can deserve to be raped. That some people don’t have the right/capacity to withdraw consent and so cannot be raped. And they use language very similar to the language you’re using. This makes it very hard to determine who is and is not arguing in good faith. After a while of talking to the people that aren’t, it becomes more or less reflexive to assume that no one is arguing in good faith. That’s why it sounds to some of us like you’re endorsing rape: because people who do endorse it (explicitly or implicitly) use a lot of the same words and arguments that you’re using.

  • Danikajaye

    Kacy Ray, here is the problem as I see it. Many people insist there is nothing unsafe about being in an elevator with a man and that women that look at him as a potential rapist are being “hysterical”. Then, when women are raped they were exhibiting “spectacualarly bad judgement” because they were not careful enough. It is a lose/lose situation. Never mind the fact that some of things women do that get put in the “spectacularly bad judgement” pile are things they have to do to go about their daily lives. Take walking home alone in the dark for example. That is often put in the bad judgment pile but if you are walking home from work and live somewhere where it is dark by 5PM in winter you may not have much choice.

    The problem I see with your point of view is that it puts women in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position. Why is so much pressure put on women to not get raped instead of the focus being on individuals NOT RAPING PEOPLE?

  • Danikajaye

    And just so we are clear, your post above fits the definition of rape apologia EXACTLY. Here is how it is most commonly defined:

    “The simple answer is that a rape apology is any argument that boils down to the myth that rapists can be provoked into raping by what the victim does or does not do.

    Such apologies feed off the old myth that rapists have no control over the sexual temptation they experience in response to the victim, therefore the victim could have avoided awakening the irresistible rape temptation by behaving differently. It’s classic victim-blaming.”

    So, if your angry at me for claiming you support rapists your anger is misdirected.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Anyone who can’t understand why a woman would be concerned by a man approaching her and propositioning her in an elevator alone at 4 am,

    Anyone who doesn’t think a woman has a right to be concerned for her own legal status/rights/personal safety when a man approaches her and propositions her in an elevator alone at 4 am,

    please, please, please read Kacy Ray’s comment at #91.

    If I exhibit the spectacularly “bad judgment” of riding in an elevator alone with a man at 4 am, do I “deserve” to be raped by him?

    This shows how women have to be wary, because the second I consent to interact with a man in the public space in any way, shape, or form, my legal status (which wasn’t that great to begin with in the US) as a human being and a citizen, and my right to be protected by our laws and our courts and our police forces, just dropped significantly.

    And, these are the very same men who would try to tell these women that they don’t have a right to be afraid of a man approaching them in an elevator alone at 4 am.

    These are the very same men who would try to tell these women that they are being hysterical, crazy, unhinged, nuts.

    I don’t really think there’s anything left to say.

    This could not have illustrated my point more perfectly.

  • Kacy Ray

    When did I ever qualify what constitutes “spectacularly bad judgment” in the way that you are all making it sound? This is so ridiculous that I am feeling less and less inclined to resist my initial instinct not to take any of you feminists seriously.

    Walking home at 5AM does NOT equal bad judgment. taking an elevator does NOT equal bad judgment. Doing ANYTHING that is normal behavior in the course of one’s day is not bad judgment.

    Inviting a man in your home that you just met yesterday in an AOL chatroom = bad judgment. Going out to a bar late at night in a bad neighborhood provocatively dressed without anyone there to help you in case of emergency = bad judgment. Dating a convicted sex offender = bad judgment.

    Note: NONE of the scenarios I just listed constitute a woman “derserving” to be raped. They only constitute bad judgment. Just like a kid who pokes a vicious dog doesn’t “deserve” to be bitten. But it does demonstrate a spectacular lack of judgment on their part.

    “If I exhibit the spectacularly “bad judgment” of riding in an elevator alone with a man at 4 am, do I “deserve” to be raped by him?”

    Strawman.

    ” Take walking home alone in the dark for example. That is often put in the bad judgment pile but if you are walking home from work and live somewhere where it is dark by 5PM in winter you may not have much choice.”

    Strawman. I never suggested such a ridiculous idea.

    “Kacy Ray, there really are people who do believe that people can deserve to be raped. That some people don’t have the right/capacity to withdraw consent and so cannot be raped. ”

    Yeah, and I’m not one of those, and I wasn’t talking about those people. Those people are wrong, plain and simple.

    “This could not have illustrated my point more perfectly.”

    Except it didn’t. It only illustrated that you’re going to see what you want to see and hear what you expect to hear.

    “I don’t really think there’s anything left to say.”

    Finally something on which we agree. By the way, I have reassessed what I said earlier about the probability that you and I would probably get along. I am pretty confident at this point that I could probably stand to listen to your prattle for about 15 seconds before deciding that my carpet really needed vacuuming.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    I guess that was spectacularly bad judgment on your part.

    Fortunately for myself, I exhibited good judgment and rebuffed or ignored you.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Just think, if you were a woman and you exhibited that kind of spectacularly bad judgment in the real world, your legal status as a human being and a citizen and your right to be protected by the laws and courts and police forces would have gone out the window.

    I guess it’s nice to be a man and not to have to worry about exhibiting that kind of spectacularly bad judgment.

    I’m a woman, so I don’t have that luxury, which is why I rebuffed and/or ignored you.

  • Warren

    Or are you now saying that certain approach techniques can be disqualified in advance based on their anticipated effects on some women?

    I can see what you did there.

    But to say yes to that question does not mean that you can say ‘So an approach in an elevator at 4am CAN, nay MUST, be disqualified based on it’s anticipated effect on some women’. To say that makes a lie out of the statement that “it doesn’t mean that you can’t try at ALL”… why? because it would be true that ANY approach can have an anticipated negative effect on some women, thus disqualifying all approaches.

    Not that you were going to say that… but it can be inferred.

  • Danikajaye

    Kacy Ray, let me first say I am having this discussion with you in good faith.

    The second thing is that if you are not saying that anything a woman does makes her “deserving” of being raped then what is your point about poor judgement? Is it that what you have designated as “poor judgement” makes a woman more vulnerable to rape and they therefore should not do these things?

    If that is the case, the problem is that in reality most women are raped or sexually assaulted by people they know when they are not doing any of the things you put in the bad judgement basket. The crazy rapist in a dark alley that most people have in their mind isn’t the reality. If we were to collect the data and make a pie chart according to the relationship the victim had with their rapist, the section labelled “stranger” would only be a tiny sliver. The great, big, whopping chunks of pie would be allocated to dates, boyfriends, husbands, relatives (blergh!), friends and co-workers. The instances of what you have designated as bad judgment actually have very little to do with lessening the threat of rape as it happens, in the real world.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Good point, Danikajaye,

    According to the DOJ’s 2008 statistics on rape/sexual assault (including threats) is that of approx. 203K reported rapes/sexual assaults, only 52,000 or thereabouts were perpetrated by strangers.

    Another 17,000 or so were unknown.

    And, all of the rest were known to the victim, at least casually.

    So, these would have been people that the victim would have believed to be trustworthy most likely.

    But, a woman who has consented to interact with a man has immediately placed her legal protections / rights in jeopardy. Her legal status as a human being and a citizen has diminished.

    This is why a woman has to be so careful about with whom she chooses to interact.

    Because we do not protect a woman’s rights in the private sphere as we do in the public sphere.

    In fact, as the current state of the law is concerned,

    the women dressed “slutty” walking down a dark alley in the middle of the night by herself probably has more legal protections/rights than a woman who has consented to date or engage in physical contact with a man or to enter a private space with a man whom she trusts.

    Here’s where you can find the 2008 DOJ statistics on rape/sexual assault:

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

  • Danikajaye

    Kacy Ray, another thing, while I think of it, that would help me clarify your position.

    You said “Going out to a bar late at night in a bad neighborhood provocatively dressed without anyone there to help you in case of emergency = bad judgment.”

    Do you think that a woman SHOULD be able to dress provocatively and go out to a bar at night by themselves and be safe?

    If you do then we agree. There is an important distinction I am after. Do you think that a woman should not go out late at night because some asshole will think that the way she is dressed means he is justified in raping her and that is just fucked up? With the bad judgement line is it bad judgment because of the way YOU think or because of the way you are aware that OTHER PEOPLE think?

    I’m asking these things because several parts of your previous posts throw up giant red flag warning signals to people who are familiar with the topic of rape and assault. It is possible that it is a miscommunication and that what is coming out on paper is not what your intent is in your head. So, I’m assuming you aren’t a rape apologist but I’m trying to show you the parts that mad me think you are one.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    The following is still problematic, and indicates that Kacy Ray thinks that, legally speaking, the rape victim’s character! and poor judgment should be a deciding factor in determining the alleged perpetrator’s guilt.

    “And yes, that means a persons character and judgment is *fair game* when trying to determine who is telling the truth and who isn’t.”

    And, actually, the federal rules of evidence favor the rape victim who has been raped by a stranger rather than a rape victim who has been raped by her lover, boyfriend, husband, significant other, friend, acquaintance, etc., etc..

    Because prior sexual encounters with the perpetrator can come in to prove consent. (Which is disgusting — basically saying that once you’ve consented to sexual contact with someone, you no longer have the right to withhold consent.) Or, if the alleged perpetrator knows other persons with whom the victim has had sex, then the perpetrator can bring that in to try and show that the rape was perpetrated by someone else.

    From the Federal Rules of Evidence (the Rape Shield Law):

    (1) In a criminal case, the following evidence is admissible, if otherwise admissible under these rules:

    (A) evidence of specific instances of sexual behavior by the alleged victim offered to prove that a person other than the accused was the source of semen, injury, or other physical evidence;

    (B) evidence of specific instances of sexual behavior by the alleged victim with respect to the person accused of the sexual misconduct offered by the accused to prove consent or by the prosecution; and

    (C) evidence the exclusion of which would violate the constitutional rights of the defendant.

    (2) In a civil case, evidence offered to prove the sexual behavior or sexual predisposition of any alleged victim is admissible if it is otherwise admissible under these rules and its probative value substantially outweighs the danger of harm to any victim and of unfair prejudice to any party. Evidence of an alleged victim’s reputation is admissible only if it has been placed in controversy by the alleged victim.

    You can find this info here:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rules.htm#Rule412

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    So, a prosecution can no longer argue, “She’s a slut; she sleeps with everyone in town; of course she gave it up willingly.”

    But, a prosecution can still argue,”She’s his wife or his girlfriend or they’ve been sleeping together in the past or she blew him at a party once or she let him take her to a movie and he felt her up, or they made out at the company picnic when everyone got hammered, so of course she gave it up willingly.”

    Both are pretty gross, as far as I’m concerned.

    But, this means that the woman who was raped by a complete stranger has more rights/legal protections than the woman who has ever consented to contact with her alleged perpetrator.

  • LKL

    @91 and other apologists:
    If I, as a law-abiding citizen, use ‘bad judgment’ and decide to go for a walk alone, on public sidewalks, at 4 am, is it my fault if I am attacked and break my attacker’s elbow with one of the joint locks I have trained on for the last 10 years? Is it my fault if my dog attacks him after he grabs me? Is it my fault I kill him with the knife I carry, as I attempt to get away?

    If it is at all a woman’s fault for showing ‘bad judgment’ and getting into that elevator alone with the stranger, then it follows that it is her fault for ‘leading the attacker on’ by presenting the image of a woman with ‘bad judgment’ who is ‘asking for it’ and vulnerable by being in a bad place at a bad time, like a police entrapment scheme.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Fair warning: I’m going to close this thread later tonight. Please wrap up anything you want to wrap up.

  • Kacy Ray

    “Kacy Ray, let me first say I am having this discussion with you in good faith.”

    I don’t think so. Your very first comment toward me was deliberately insulting and provocative.

    “The second thing is that if you are not saying that anything a woman does makes her “deserving” of being raped then what is your point about poor judgement?”

    My point was clearly articulated. Reread if you have to. I’m not going to repeat it. If you can’t grasp it or just don’t get it, oh well.

    “The instances of what you have designated as bad judgment actually have very little to do with lessening the threat of rape as it happens, in the real world.”

    No shit. that’s why you should’ve considered those comments in the context in which I presented them instead of hysterically assuming I was engaging in rape apologia. Take your blinder off and we might have had a real conversation.

    “Do you think that a woman SHOULD be able to dress provocatively and go out to a bar at night by themselves and be safe?”

    Yes

    “If you do then we agree.”

    No shit sherlock. Only took you 24 hours to figure that out? I guess that makes you sharper than Sarah, but that isn’t saying much.

    “I’m asking these things because several parts of your previous posts throw up giant red flag warning signals to people who are familiar with the topic of rape and assault.”

    Only if you read pieces of what I’ve said in isolation. I was pretty careful to qualify what I was saying. I suggest you reread comment 91 in its entirety, and don’t forget I previous said this “Rape is a terrible crime that should be prosecuted relentlessly. But let’s not use that fact to pretend that it’s a crime which is as unambiguous as murder or theft.”

    “So, I’m assuming you aren’t a rape apologist but I’m trying to show you the parts that mad me think you are one.”

    Oh yeah, hold on….

    “Kacy Ray, are you comparing rape victims to kids that poke dogs with sticks and home intruders?”
    “Kacy Ray, if I have to read any more of your rape apologia I’m going to vomit on my keyboard.”

    I’m assuming you’re not a moron, a retard, or an asshat, but I’m just trying to show you the parts that made me think you are one.

    LKL – you are another story entirely. Read comment 101 before you make more of a tool of yourself. I’ve already said: “Walking home at 5AM does NOT equal bad judgment. taking an elevator does NOT equal bad judgment. Doing ANYTHING that is normal behavior in the course of one’s day is not bad judgment.”

    Killing an attacker = not your fault. Sounding like a tool in the comments thread of a chatroom = your fault.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    [Sarah]: And, actually, the federal rules of evidence favor the rape victim who has been raped by a stranger rather than a rape victim who has been raped by her lover, boyfriend, husband, significant other, friend, acquaintance, etc., etc..

    Because prior sexual encounters with the perpetrator can come in to prove consent. (Which is disgusting — basically saying that once you’ve consented to sexual contact with someone, you no longer have the right to withhold consent.) Or, if the alleged perpetrator knows other persons with whom the victim has had sex, then the perpetrator can bring that in to try and show that the rape was perpetrated by someone else.

    This is critically important to understanding why many rapes can not be successfully prosecuted, so I think it bears repeating. So long as past consent is considered evidence for present and future consent, it’s not really possible for a victim to receive a completely fair trial against the accused.

    Another huge part of this is that typically, the entire past history of the accused is rarely brought into the trial. We are therefore weighing unequal information about two people in determining the verdict. However, the standard of proof for a criminal trial is reasonable doubt — any reasonable doubt. There will essentially always be reasonable doubt concerning what happened when you cannot consider the accused’s past transgressions yet any sexual behavior on the part of the victim is evidence against them.

    I would also like to note that many times the victim is dismissed on the basis of lack of physical injury, as though that proves something. There are many ways to coerce someone. Requiring that victims fight for their lives, often against a much stronger assailant, is vicious and petty. The victim is also in no position to know how far or how much it takes to turn their attacker into a murderer. Violent people can snap under very mild stimulus, and fear for your life is a very powerful motivator.

  • Niklaus Pfirsig

    This post got me to thinking about something that may add a different twist to the debate.
    I’ve known people from many non American cultures for many years, and in middle eastern cultures, what we interpret as restricting women’s rights, they interpret as protecting the women. In man middle eastern cultures, men are expected to be driven by their baser instincts, are only a trusted male family member, such as a brother, father or husband is expected to protected the women in his family from all other men who are assumed to be so horny they will hump any warm object. The hijab, for example is to make the woman look less alluring to strange men. In those cultures, any woman who doesn’t cover herself is assumed by others that do as advertising her body and sexuality.

    And now for a couple of true anecdotes.

    A few years ago, I rented an apartment in an old house in a low rent section of a moderately small town in Tennessee. Many elderly retired ladies lived in th4e neighborhood. A recent divorcee, moved into the house next door, along with two small children and her brother. Her brother worked days and she would often spend a lot of time sunbathing in the back yard, wearing a bright green string bikini. Her children would often end up in my back yard, playing under the shade trees because there were no trees in their backyard.

    One day she asked me if she could watch her soap opera on my TV, because a fuse had blown in her house and she didn’t have time to go to the store before her show came on. I invited in, offered her a soda, she watcher her soap, andon a commercial break we talked a bit and that’s how I found our she was from Miama, her kids were visiting their grandparents and she was divorced and bot looking for a relationship. I respected that.

    However, the little old ladies in the neighborhood had the gossip flying and some of it got back to me about a torrid and sleazy affair between me and “that woman who run around practically naked”. In Miami, her attire was acceptable, in Tennesse, it was immodest at best.

    Second story

    Back in my college days, I returned from class and was immediately assaulted by my roommate. I had no idea why at the time, but recovering from some rather painful injuries, the story came together. My roommate was a Nigerian foreign student. He had been harassing a girl because he wanted to have sex with her. Apparently he believed that in America, he could walk up to any woman, invite her to bed and she would gladly accept. His belief had been developed by watching American movies. At first I thought he meant porno, but realized the movies he based this idea on were what we call teen “coming of age” flicks, like Porky’s, Hollywood Knights, and others I can’t recall. When she refused his advances (which included following her into an elevator and hitting the stop switch after the doors closed), he theorized that someone must be telling her bad things about him to turn her against him.

    I knew her, and can say without a doubt that she was not “that kind of” girl. I had some classes with her, and one day she missed a class due to a doctor’s appointment. She happened to see me later, and asked what had been covered in class My roommate saw us talking and decided that I most be scaring her away, Thus the attack.

    The point is that cultural background plays a large part in interpreting people’s actions and reactions. Back in college, I dated an Iraqi girl. From knowing her, I knew that Iraq, in the late 70′s was much more secular than the rest of the middle east. The popular attire for young women in Bhagdad at the time was distinctly Euro: blue jeans and sweaters. Back then, their culture was more inline with the west, and women were treated much better. This is partly witnessed by the fact that my girlfriend was studying engineering and her tuition was paid for by the Iraqi government.

    I am not supporting the dehumanizing treatment of women in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other places with similar cultures. I think what is important is cultural change must happen to address the inequalities.

  • Vjatcheslav

    “Because prior sexual encounters with the perpetrator can come in to prove consent. (Which is disgusting — basically saying that once you’ve consented to sexual contact with someone, you no longer have the right to withhold consent.) Or, if the alleged perpetrator knows other persons with whom the victim has had sex, then the perpetrator can bring that in to try and show that the rape was perpetrated by someone else.”

    It eerily sounds as if the person who wrote this is campaigning to make rape provable by the word of the victim, regardless of the victim status is conferred by actual rape or because the person a quo changed her mind later. Newsflash: power corrupts women too.

    Why would prior sexual encounters be interesting to conclude if there was rape or not? Probably because there are many encounters (at least from the point of view of the law with its presumption of innocence) where a woman has second thoughts – for example, a relationship ends, and the woman considers that the last time they had sex was rape (she feels slighted and desires vengeance, and a rape accusation is a quite terrible weapon).

    And secondly: proving that you weren’t the one who had sex with the victim is a perfectly legitimate defence. It is really no different from proving that you have an alibi when there is someone robbed or murdered.

    Many crimes don’t get prosecuted for lack of evidence, and a whole other series of reasons; rape can be especially difficult. This is indeed an important problem. But opening the system to gigantic abuses isn’t the way to go; I thought the dictatorships of the world had proven that quite satisfactorily.

    It is blatant misandry like this that has convinced me that the present day western branch of feminism doesn’t deserve my support any more (also add the glass floor – the fact that the great majority of heavy/dirty/dangerous work is done by men, and that there isn’t much done to make sure women do their part of that work – as a reason). Western feminism has gone from laudably trying to reach equality (e.g. the suffragettes) to trying to impose some kind of female superiority.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Are you saying that what the majority of people approve of is a relevant consideration? If I could produce a study showing that 51% or more of Egyptian men approve of what that taxi driver did, would you then say that it was OK?

    Let’s straighten something out: you’re the one who claimed that the masturbation was apparently accepted practice, when you wrote: “In Egypt, what that guy did apparently is acceptable – at least as far as the men are concerned”

    The first point was that you just made that up, as far as I can tell. As for the other matter:

    So what? You’ve spent the entire thread up until now arguing that there’s no right or wrong way to approach a woman because women’s preferences differ, and some might welcome a particular conversational technique while others might reject it, and there’s no way to tell in advance which is which. Well, I say that principle holds in exactly the same way when it comes to public masturbation. I’m sure we could find some women who wouldn’t mind. Does that make this a morally acceptable way to initiate contact with a woman? Or are you now saying that certain approach techniques can be disqualified in advance based on their anticipated effects on some women?

    I stick by there being no one right or wrong way to approach a woman to ask, since asking for consent is not wrong. All he did was ask, and rather politely from what I can gather.

    Yes, I feel people are fully entitled to ask, even if they don’t know what response that asking will get, even if the majority of women won’t accept the offer or will think it rude. While it may be awkward or uncomfortable at times, there’s nothing wrong with asking for consent.

    Acting without asking or in spite of a declined offer is obviously something entirely different. So much of this debate has centered around conflating asking with not asking. In fact, it’s what you’ve been doing as well. Rape, public masturbation, harassment, and stalking all have nothing to do with what happened in that elevator. It’s comparing apples and sexual assault.

    The only argument against what happened in that elevator was that it could make people uncomfortable; in fact, it did make someone, probably two someones, uncomfortable. Well, tough shit. That doesn’t make it bad, which is precisely why the chewing gum analogy works far better than any of the other examples people try to pawn off. When PZ nailed the wafer, he did so knowing it would make people uncomfortable and offend them (in fact, that seemed to have been his intent), and he also did nothing wrong.

    Pointing out that nothing bad happened doesn’t make anyone a misogynist or a sexist or either. Trying to label them as such reveals a bit of unexamined bias you might want to consider mediating on.

  • Kacy Ray

    It eerily sounds as if the person who wrote this is campaigning to make rape provable by the word of the victim, regardless of the victim status is conferred by actual rape or because the person a quo changed her mind later. Newsflash: power corrupts women too.

    Why would prior sexual encounters be interesting to conclude if there was rape or not? Probably because there are many encounters (at least from the point of view of the law with its presumption of innocence) where a woman has second thoughts – for example, a relationship ends, and the woman considers that the last time they had sex was rape (she feels slighted and desires vengeance, and a rape accusation is a quite terrible weapon).

    Ohhhh!!! Rape apologia!!!

    I feel pretty raped and dehumanized by this comment thread. Vj, you're right on the money. If people like Sarah had their way, the word of an alleged victim would be sufficient evidence for a rape conviction. She'll deny it, I'm sure. But I asked her flat out: "…what your vision for an idea society is, where woman are fully recognized as human beings with all the legal rights that men have. What would be different then than it is now, and how it would play out in practical terms?"

    She didn't answer, and I'm pretty sure I know why. This utopian idea she has of a world where all women are "humanized" (code word for "not recognized as being subject to the very forces, desires, and needs that make them female humans") and no longer "objectified" (code word for "being recognized as specific beings with specific natures") would sound pretty rediculous if it were to be spoken out loud. Better to just hurl insults, accuse men of being sexist pigs, and elevate women of the status of demi-gods who get to decide any any point in their lives whether the sex they just had in a restroom stall was consentual or not.

    Note that not *one* of these feminists has addressed the reality that there are times when it’s simply one womans word against a mans word. Ask them about those situations – see what they say. I guarantee they they will all, without exception, endorse the presumption that the woman is telling the truth and the man is lying.

    That’s a statement rejecting the presumption of innocence. And I give every feminist in this room the chance to repudiate that stance right now.

    We’ll see if any of them do. Wanna take bets?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Kacy, the tone of your last few comments is unacceptable. I strongly urge you to take heed of tthis warning.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    These comments show me how much we need a branch of Ni Putes Ni Soumises in the US, how far we have to go to legalize the fully human status of women in the US, how much we need the ERA and to ratify CEDAW, and how far we still have to go to change attitudes in the US about women being human beings and not the sexual and reproductive property of men.

    I guess the US isn’t that different from the Muslim world after all. And, I guess atheists aren’t that different from Republican Christianists in the US, when it comes to attitudes towards women as autonomous persons with a right to their own bodily integrity and control over their own lives.

    This just serves to motivate me, as I continue my life’s work.

    I strongly suggest some of the male commenters in this thread take a moment and use this experience as motivation for some serious self-reflection.

    If anyone is interested in learning more about Rape Shield Laws and the definition and prosecution of Rape (which varies from state to state — as criminal codes vary from state to state — you can probably guess which states are more progressive in protecting the humanity of women and which are not), here are a couple of links.

    http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbID=DB_FAQ:RapeShieldLaws927

    http://www.vawnet.org/Assoc_Files_VAWnet/RapeShield.pdf

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0325/p12s02-usju.html

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Oh, and BTW, the victim’s testimony is, generally speaking, sufficient evidence to convict for the crime of rape.

    Even without corroborating witnesses or physical evidence.

    This is also the case in other crimes where there exists a single eye witness to the crime in question without any DNA or other physical evidence tying the specific alleged perpetrator to the crime.

    (Not that the above scenario would be likely to be prosecuted or to secure a conviction, because, unlike for a single eye witness to a theft, say, the single eye witness to a rape will have any prior sexual encounters with the perpetrator brought into the courtroom to discredit her. So, if the perpetrator is someone she knows or has a relationship with, which is usually the case, she’s probably out of luck. Because, as evidenced by the comments above, the prevailing attitude in the US is still “You broke it; you bought it” when it comes to women’s bodies.)

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    The elevator incident did not just make RW uncomfortable, it placed her legal protections / rights in jeopardy.

    This is the point I’ve been trying to make for about 50 comments.

    The man’s legal protections/rights were not threatened, but hers were.

    This is about so much more than making someone uncomfortable.

  • bbk

    This is such a spectacular fail. I could imagine this written for Curb Your Enthusiasm but I would never expect it to happen on its own. Just typing “elevator” in The Onion’s search bar is enough evidence that anything one does in an elevator can potentially weird someone else out. http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-study-shows-people-with-panic-disorders-respon,20892/ How much of this has to do with rape culture and how much of this has to do with elevator culture we may never know. But it shouldn’t have happened. It shouldn’t be too hard to explain to Elevator Guy that he should not have violated the unwritten rule of elevator ridership: you do NOT talk on an elevator. Even if you know someone. Just stand there and shut up and everything will work out just fine. If you talk on an elevator, it might cause entire atheist community to come undone. Case in point.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    This is really the last thing I’m going to say on the matter — really:

    All human beings should be wary of power differentials coupled with a lack of transparency, because these scenarios almost inevitably lead to human rights abuses.

    By power differentials – I mean a difference in access to legal rights/protections.

    All human beings should likewise be wary of placing someone in such a scenario — wherein they are the ones with greater power and they are placing someone else in a scenario with themselves coupled with a lack of transparency. (Because this would reasonably provoke fear of imminent bodily harm in the potential victim.)

    I think this is about as non-gendered and non-racist as you can get.

    Rule of thumb (ironic, I know):

    Don’t place persons with whom you share a power differential in a situation wherein there exists a lack of transparency.

    For example:

    One man, one woman, one enclosed hotel elevator at 4 am equals power differential coupled with a lack of transparency.

    Equals: not cool. Guys, don’t do that.

  • Kacy Ray

    One man, one woman, one enclosed hotel elevator at 4 am equals power differential coupled with a lack of transparency.

    Sarah, let’s assume I concede that there is, in fact, a power differential here (which I do, for the record). I have to ask… so what? Can you please – in any way shape or fashion you see fit – describe a world in which such power differentials do not happen? Such a world is not possible!

    Even if Otis wouldn’t have propositioned RW, that power differential still existed. The only way for it not to have existed would have been for him – and any man at all – to have refrained from taking an elevator ride simply because she was on it. Is that your suggestion, that if I see a woman getting on an elevator at 4AM that I should take the stairs?

    You’ve already heard situations described where those power differentials exist where women aren’t even involved. Don’t you see? In *any* interaction between two human beings, power differentials exist. No two people are exactly alike.

    All human beings should be wary of power differentials coupled with a lack of transparency, because these scenarios almost inevitably lead to human rights abuses.

    Okay, so every situation where there exist a power differential requires transparency? Should my wife install a camcorder in our bedroom? Just in case?

    Your statement that such situation “almost inevitably” leads to human rights abuses is fantastic! And on multiple levels.

    1) The elimination of such situations is untenable. I would challange you to describe a world in which such situations do not exist.
    2) The option of making all such situations transparent is equally untenable, both practically, ethically, and socially. You’d need a camcorder in every bedroom of every household in America. I notice the picture of you and a child on your FB profile. Dare I suggest that there are times when you and that child are alone in an unsupervised situation? Do we need someone there to monitor the power differential there? Does it almost inevitably lead to human rights abuses?

    How would you feel if I suggested that there was something wrong with you for suggesting that you being alone with a small child = an unsafe situation that is almost certain to lead to abuse? How would that make you feel? Becauase guess what, that’s exactly the way you’ve been making me feel from the moment we began discussing this.

    Let’s not forget, there are power differentials in almost all human interactions – not just between men and women. And *even between men and women* the power differential sometimes works in the opposite direction.

    So although I know you’ve said your last on this topic, I find that the last thing you said is actually the most damning statement of your position. And if this comment thread becomes closed (or if Ebon muzzles me heh…) I would still ask you to answer the question I asked two days ago.

    Can you please describe the world you are implying ought to exist – a world where no power differentials exist, or a world where all such power differentials are closely monitored…. or is there a third option? Honestly, what kind of world ARE you trying to live in? If you could snap your fingers tomorrow and have things the way you want them to be, please describe what the world would be like tomorrow.

    (Because this would reasonably provoke fear of imminent bodily harm in the potential victim.)

    Reasonably? That statement requires context. I can think of a million different scenarios in which the potential victim would be unreasonable to assume that the more powerful person is going to hurt them. I’ll spit out three right here:

    1) You’re in a restroom using the urinal. Cop walk in and stands next to you. It’s just you and him. And if he were to start clubbing you, it would be your word against his as to what happened. Would a reasonable person suddenly be stricken with fear?

    2) You are 12 years old. Your parents left you with a brand new babysitter, aged 24. Would feelings of terror be a rational response?

    3) I’m standing in front of my boss’s desk. It’s just me and him. It is well within his power to walk out of the office, claim that I called him a foul name, and charge me with disrespect, even though I never spoke a word. Should I be terrifed every time I go in there?

    Power differentials exist EVERYWHERE, and frequently in opaque situations. If you disagree with this reality, what is your solution? Because it sounds to me like you are simply complaining that life isn’t the way you wish it was. But if you have some great idea on how to change it, please share. I’m all ears.

    The elevator incident did not just make RW uncomfortable, it placed her legal protections / rights in jeopardy. This is the point I’ve been trying to make for about 50 comments.

    And the point I’ve been trying to make is there is no alternate reality in which such situations do not exist or will not exist at some point. Such a world is pure fantasy. ANY situation is which a more powerful person is alone with a less powerful person places the second persons legal protections/rights in jeopardy. That’s just a fact of life. Can’t you see that?

    Ebon – your warning is notied, and I apologize (to you) for bringing the tone down. Just be advised, I react rather adversely to insult and disrepect, particularly when unprovoked. I will be thrown out of here before I allow myself to be disrespected, that’s just simple math for me. If that happens, hey, no hard feelings on my end. You’re one of two blogs I read regularly and it will stay that way. Do what you have to do brother.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Well, first of all, to quote Ellie (Jodie Foster’s character) in Contact, a movie I adore, BTW:

    “That’s funny. I’ve always believed the world is what we make of it.”

    As anyone who has been reading this blog for some time can attest, I have made my goals (in guest posts and comments) more than abundantly clear, in terms of the society for which I am fighting.

    Feel free to read at your leisure.

  • Kacy Ray

    Sarah (or any feminist), reading these last few posts have made me begin to wonder…

    With my concession that physical power differentials exist in various social situations (such as RW and Otis in the elevator), are you willing to offer a similar concession that very relevant social power differentials also exist, but in the reverse flow? What value are you willing to assign to social power differentials?

    But most importantly, do you feel that it’s fair that social power differentials exist, while condemning physical power differentials? Or should we work to eliminate ALL power differentials?

    After all, it was Rebecca who called the shots in the elevator, was it not? It was she who determined how the rest of that evening would go, was it not? She alone had the power to determine whether Otis was going to have a wonderful evening or go back to his room with his tail betwen his legs. That’s some pretty real power, and it was all hers. Is there no value to this power? Are we going to shrug it off as though it means nothing?

    Is it only physical power differentials we should be wary of, or all types?

  • Kacy Ray

    Fair enough. I agree to read what you have to say and give your ideas careful consideration if you would just be so kind as to point me in the right direciton.

    If the things you’ve written address the numberous questions I’ve just asked, I will be more than happy to educate myself on those ideas. Not saying I’ll agree or disagree… but I will at least know exactly what it is you’re saying.

    (P.S. I like Contact, too. Awful waste of space if there’s no one else out there to share it with. Carl Sagan is one of my very few personal heroes. But the idea is that the world can be anything we make of it is fantasy, surely you realize that. There are certain realities that are simply… reality! The fact that power differentials exist between people is one of those.)

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Facepalm.

    Epic fail.

    Did you seriously just define a woman’s right to control her own body as an unfair power differential, which disfavors men?

    I think you might want to reread your last comment.

    I think I was pretty clear in defining power differentials as unequal access to legal protections/rights.

    Seriously, Kacy Ray, when you write things like that, I just can’t take you seriously or believe that you are arguing in good faith.

    Do you think it’s an unfair power differential, which disfavors men, that your wife has the right to reject other suitors as she wishes?

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    There’s a search this site function to your right.

    You might want to just search under Sarah Braasch, so that everything comes up.

    Enjoy.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    OK, folks – I think this thread has more than run its course.

    If there’s one thing I’m happy about, it’s that this whole fiasco has reached so widely into the blogospheric consciousness. It’s drawn broad attention to the question of whether women feel welcome in the skeptical community, and what we can do about it if not, to an extent that no prior controversy has. Ironically, Richard Dawkins probably deserves a lot of the credit for that, even if it was wholly unintentional. I think the long-run effects of that are beneficial, even if in the near-term they’ve revealed an ugly streak of sexism in the atheist community. (You can’t kill the snake until it slithers out of its hole.)

    What’s more, the majority of people who’ve commented on this matter, both in these threads and in private e-mail to me as well as on other blogs, are decent, reasonable individuals who understand perfectly well what’s at stake here. Regrettably, there are a few – more than a few – who continue to cling to the position that propositioning a woman, regardless of the circumstances or even her own prior expressed wishes, is never wrong as long as you don’t actually assault her. Here’s John Rennie, the former chief editor of Scientific American, summarizing the moral of this story in a way I couldn’t possibly improve on:

    The principle is: be sensitive to others’ feelings and don’t make them pointlessly uncomfortable. Simple human decency, not some special consideration that some of us should show to the rest of us. Consider the advice with which I started this post. The idea of not staring at strangers in elevators is something that all of us learn or intuit as part of our normal social adjustment. We learn that staring at strangers is a generally bad idea, and that people may be extra disturbed by such attentions in closed confines.

    So the natural reaction that socially adjusted people would have to my advice not to stare would be a nod or shrug of acceptance. Someone who instead responded by shouting “Why shouldn’t I be able to stare at them? I’m not hurting anybody!” likely wouldn’t come across as merely weird; he’d come across as a little psychotic.

    …This is yet another reason why the rebellion against Rebecca’s comments is dumb in a way that I think reveals deeper misogyny. Rebecca gave men good advice, and they attacked her because it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.

    …Misunderstanding is one thing, but persistent misunderstanding is suspicious, and in my experience, it usually signals that someone doesn’t really want to get it. The best explanation, I think is misogyny among a lot of people who don’t think of themselves as misogynists.

    If you need to see yet another summary of the whole matter, Lindsay Beyerstein has a very good one, and there’s also a letter to Richard Dawkins from survivors of sexual assault, and, as a complement to that, here’s a post listing the horrible, disgusting, vile sexism that any post like this inevitably draws. (I’m posting all these links partly for myself, to put them in one place in case I have occasion to refer to them in the future, as I sadly suspect I shall.)

    In the interest of this not turning into a flame war that consumes all the oxygen on the site, I’m closing this thread. Rest assured, these topics will come up again in the future. And one more thing that I want to make perfectly clear: for reasons I’ve articulated, Daylight Atheism is and will always be an unapologetically feminist blog. If you’re the kind of person who finds that an intolerable thought, then I suggest that you go elsewhere, because I can say now that you won’t be welcome here.


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