Resetting the ‘Inappropriate Sexual Proposal’ Counter

(In response to this post)

About M J Shepherd

Matthew graduated Louisiana State University in 2009 with a BA in studio art and a minor in art history. He has been drawing cartoons and comics online for several years.

  • Lauren

    I am arguing this topic no my homepage, but wow, wish I could share my thoughts with everyone on why I think this uptight bitch was so out of line.  Here is a little sample: ok, here is a little story
    that might humanize why I feel for this couple the way I do. I looked
    at their pictures, and yes, they are a larger couple. While I do NOT
    support how they approached this, I might have more personal experience
    to empathize, and why I think their humiliation is COMPLETELY out of
    line: Obviously, I have struggled with my weight my whole life, and
    continue to to this day, but I grew up far larger then I am now.
    Whereas I would have NEVER considered publicizing a nekkid pic of me,
    when i 1st met hubby, I sent him a rather unflattering picture (in
    clothes, more my style, lol!). I wanted him to understand “what he was
    getting into”. Perhaps this couple, maybe being socially awkward, wants
    their swing partners to understand as well, so they will attract
    playmates that they will truly share chemistry with, and will appreciate
    their naked bodies, since obviously sex is their goal. I would imagine
    few want to indulge in a sexual experience with someone who finds them
    repulsive, even swingers. I bet dollars to doughnuts, the naked picture
    was LESS of “harassment” rather then a way of them saying “this is who
    we are, this is what we are into, we found you attractive and articulate.
    ***IF*** you care to join us for some fun. If not, no harm, no foul,
    just ignore”. THIS is why I am so angered by this. I see it as an
    awkward, NON-THREATENING attempt to meet like minded
    individuals……nothing close to harassment!!!!!!!!! What a bitch.  Had they persisted = harassment.  A one time offer?  Be flattered, you pretentious bitch.

  • Hibernia86

    Maybe focusing on telling convention goers how to appropriately proposition others for sex would help at least a little with this.

    • Tom

      A lot of the basics have already been covered multiple times, on multiple blogs and in other media.  In case you missed all of that, here’s the most important bit (which applies pretty much anywhere, but especially at conventions, it seems): don’t do it in places where there is no apparent means of escape e.g. closed rooms, elevators, places people wish to stay because they’re doing something there, and places where there are no other people nearby (if you can’t understand why, you’re not empathising with your prospective partner, which doesn’t bode well for successful relations with them, or anyone else, anyway), and don’t do it to people you don’t even know except when you’re at an event or location where casual hookups are widely known to be or, ideally, officially, accepted – which doesn’t usually include conventions. 

      Funnily enough, most people go to conventions to engage with whatever the convention is about, not to advertise unconditional sexual availability.  Singles bars and matchmaking websites were invented to fill that gap in the market.

      Look at it this way: a convention is little different to any other public place, except the “escape” factor mentioned above is worse, because the person may wish to remain there to enjoy the event – if you wouldn’t walk up to random people you don’t know in the street and ask for sex (and most people would strongly recommend that you don’t), then don’t do it at a convention.  Sure, the fact that you’re both at the same convention might imply that you have a common interest, but that’s a non-issue if you’re not interested in getting to know them first.  If you *are* interested in getting to know them first, you’ve largely avoided the problem of how to proposition people at conventions, or anywhere else, anyway.

      Oh, and if it turns out the person you proposition is disgusted, offended, made bloody uncomfortable, or just says “no” or ignores you and declines to give a reason, *even* at a “hookups-can-happen” venue, accept it, shut up, move on, leave them the hell alone, and don’t try to make yourself feel better by publicly denouncing whatever the heck you think *they* did “wrong.”

      • Tom

        Sorry, I think I misinterpreted your post.  When you said “at least a little,” I should have realised you were rather more aware of the situation than just blithley asking “well, how are people supposed to do it?”

        That said, although your idea of some kind of matchmaking arrangement within the convention for those who would wish to use it is an interesting and probably quite workable one, it is important that it be handled so nobody should come to expect or demand that there be one at every convention, because I’m not sure if that’s likely to happen (who knows, though – maybe it could become a de facto standard at conventions in a few years or so if it turns out to work well).  Like I said, though, that’s not the primary function of conventions – it might be a nice extra, but it’s not a fundamental requirement, and people should be able to control themselves at least for the duration of most conventions without an explicit outlet provided for any urge they have to proposition strangers.

        I’m conflicted on this.  On the one hand, maybe we’re solving a genuine social problem; sexuality is an important part of the human experience, and adding such a facility to conventions would be enabling that for those who desired it at that time.  On the other hand, it feels a bit like capitulation to those who have been behaving inappropriately at conventions – is it really unreasonable to expect someone to refrain from inappropriate sexual behaviour if one has not gone to the trouble of providing an official appropriate outlet for sexual behaviour at an event that a) will not last very long, and b) where one is not actually incarcerated, but can leave and engage with the rest of the world before returning at any time?

      • Isilzha

         And take “NO” for an answer the FIRST time. 

    • Michael

      Maybe we should just accept that if you proposition someone for sex who you only know through conventions then that’s just inappropriate in all cases? It seems that people who insist on differentiating between inappropriate vs appropriate are just making excuses for questionable behaviour anyway.

      If you want to proposition someone for sex go to a singles bar. There are even atheist dating websites where you can arrange to meet up at a convention if you like. Policing the boundary between good ways to ask someone you just met for a shag and bad ways is doomed to fail.

  • Gertrude

    Kill it with fire… If you don’t have anything to add, let it die.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

    Is this still Elyse at Skepticamp, or did it happen yet again?

  • Jack

    I don’t think we will be hearing any excuses for this one, and the implied suggestion in the cartoon that this behaviour is not significantly different from a clumsy invitation for “coffee” is pretty crass. This refusal to consider the differences between situations and to simply apply the broad doctrinaire brush to all concerns about sexism and harassment is a big part of what’s caused many of us to become pretty disgusted with certain sub-groups of people in the increasingly divided atheist “movement”.  And not just the creeps who harass women at conferences.

  • Isilzha

    I was really put off by the guy from TAM who kept using the world “misinformation” in his defensive post about how this stuff doesn’t happen to women.  If I was someone who attended TAM then that post right there would make me boycott it!  Actually, it would make me stand outside with a sign and PROTEST.  How DARE some…MAN…try to tell me that I’m “misinformed” about how women are generally treated in public settings ESPECIALLY when they are a minority.   GAH…the dude just needs to stop flapping his gums for a while and LISTEN!!!


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