Not All Men™ Categorize People Into Unhelpful Categories


[Content note: sexual assault]

Let’s talk about Not All Men™, and specifically about the disconnect between people who say “not all men!” and people who maintain that this is a useless thing to say.

One bitterly funny and perhaps illuminating meme I’ve seen over the past few weeks goes something like this:

You say not all men are monsters?

Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. 10% of them are poisoned.

Go ahead. Eat a handful.

Not all M&Ms are poison.

I’ve seen many variations on this, and all of them get at the idea that it doesn’t matter that “not all men” are violent, just that a significant, non-zero percentage of them are, and when you don’t know until it’s too late which ones those are, you can never be too careful.

(I would love, by the way, if not a single man who has ever seriously said “not all men” has ever believed or stated that women should “take precautions” to avoid getting raped, such as not talking to strangers, accepting drinks, flirting, etc. I would love it if that were the case, and nobody could possibly be so hypocritical as to hold both of these beliefs in their heads simultaneously.)

The M&M metaphor certainly makes sense. But if I rewrote it to be more in-line with the way many people actually think about sexual violence, it would go something like this:

Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. Most M&Ms are delicious and safe to eat, but some very small percentage of them are poisoned. Luckily, the poisoned M&Ms are easily identifiable: they have a gross sewage-green color and are marked with a skull and crossbones rather than the usual M&Ms logo. Most responsible M&M eaters are easily able to avoid them and stay safe. But others are careless, snatching M&Ms at random and not even bothering to check whether or not they may be poison. Of course it’s terrible that some people get poisoned by M&Ms, but they really should’ve been more careful.

So it is, supposedly, with sexual violence. Predators are easy to spot. They’re Bad Boys; they give off a lot of red flags. They have tattoos. They drink and smoke excessively. They’re not white or middle-/upper-class. They hang out in seedy bars, not in fraternities, prestigious companies, government offices, or schools. If you’re careless enough to ignore the warning signs and interact with someone like that, well, it’s not that it’s okay that you were sexually assaulted, buuuut you should’ve known better.

This version of the metaphor also takes some of the focus away from the fact that the M&Ms are poisonous and transfers it to the people eating the M&Ms and their behavior. Are they “careful”? Are they aware of the “risks”? Are they “attentive” to the “warning signs”? Are they “smart” about the way they dress and where they go? Have they “prepared” themselves by taking a self-defense class or carrying pepper spray? Now I’ve gotten my metaphors mixed up.

This view of sexual assault holds that rapists are “evil.” They’re “monsters” who bear no similarity to other men: “Good Guys,” the “not all men” being referenced by men eager to dissociate themselves from the subjects of #YesAllWomen tweets. This view is convenient for a number of reasons:

  • “Good Guys” never have to consider their own role in the perpetuation of sexual violence. (And yes, there are roles in its perpetuation that do not include actually committing it. I am not saying you are all rapists. I’m saying that most of you to some extent buy into a dangerous and toxic masculinity that makes widespread sexual violence possible.)
  • All rape prevention work must fall to potential victims, because it’s easier to demand that women drastically limit their opportunities for work and play (even more than they already do) than it is to try to proactively stop perpetrators who are evil unstoppable monsters. It’s easy to say Don’t Walk There Don’t Work There Don’t Live There Don’t Wear That Don’t Drink Don’t Smile Don’t Flirt Don’t Dance Don’t Relax when you’re not the one upon whom the burden of all those Don’ts will fall.
  • Our emotional responses to stories of sexual assault will be less painful and severe if we are able to shrug and say that the poisoned M&Ms were clearly labeled and the victim should’ve bothered to look before eating than they would be if we had to acknowledge that usually there is no amount of carefulness that will actually keep anyone safe.
  • When someone we know and like gets accused of sexual assault, we are able to avoid the cognitive dissonance of realizing that someone we like did a very bad thing by refusing to believe it. That’s impossible! He’s such a great guy! He’s so great with kids! He’s so white, conventionally attractive, and middle-class! (Though we never actually hear this one in those words.) Look at everything he’s done for our community! Look how great he is at catching a ball and running all the way to the edge of the field with it without being tackled by the other men!

It’s very important to understand and analyze what’s at stake when it comes to ideology. In this case, that means understanding why people are so vested in this view of Rapist-As-Subhuman-Monster, and there it is.

In this view, it’s understandable (if not justifiable) that well-meaning men get so offended during discussions of sexual violence that do not explicitly state “not all men.” Because those discussions are happening in a way that acknowledges that we’re not talking about some rare, recently-discovered species called Homo rapus. Because there is no subtype of man who rapes; people of all genders rape, and they’re much more likely to be men, but otherwise there are no distinguishing markings or migratory patterns that help us identify rapists in the wild.

To these men, to whom it seems so obvious that rape is something that Those Other Men Do, it’s offensive to have that distinction blurred or ignored altogether.  To all people who are used to thinking of other people in terms of categories rather than degrees or spectra–so, most people, because we’re all taught to think that way about other people to some extent–the intentional refusal of many anti-sexual violence advocates to make that distinction seems ignorant at best and insulting at worst.

They hear “It’s impossible to tell who’s a rapist and who isn’t just from looking” and interpret it as “Anyone could potentially become a rapist.” The latter claim is inaccurate and not what’s being said. There are plenty of people who would never, and will never, rape anyone. But we have to be very careful when we consider how much information we need to be able to say that with near-certainty. It’s more than you think.

That risk-assessment calculus will look different for every individual. I try to stay away from making definitive statements about what anyone I know would or would not do, and when it comes to people I don’t actually know, or don’t know very well, all bets are off.

People will continue talking past each other on this issue until there is widespread acknowledgement of the fact that our brains are designed to categorize everything, and while this can be a useful heuristic and an obvious evolutionary adaptation, it’s leading us astray when it comes to sexual assault prevention.

~~~

*I should emphasize that there are definitely competing and intersecting popular views of sexual assault besides the one I’ve discussed here. Some people claim that you can’t tell who’s a rapist, and that’s why women should just avoid “risky” behaviors altogether. It’s possible to understand that you can’t tell who’s a rapist and still put the onus on women to avoid rapists, and it’s possible for this view to actually coexist with the view that rapists are Monsters and Others. People tend to haul out whichever popular view best serves the point they’re trying to make at the time, or whichever one makes them feel the least cognitive dissonance in that particular situation.

Comments

  1. Graham Shevlin says

    “I’m saying that most of you to some extent buy into a dangerous and toxic masculinity that makes widespread sexual violence possible.” That, I am afraid, is the sort of rhetoric that is more likely to antagonize men than it is to stimulate debate. It is a broad-brush, highly perjorative assertion for which no evidence is offered. Read it again and think really hard about how it is going to be processed.
    The focus on the M&Ms example misses the main point – many rapists are not obvious “bad boys” in the way described in this posting. The movie “Jagged Edge” was a Hollywood fiction, but its portrayal of a narcissistic murdering sociopath was a window into hidden pathologies that exist among many abusers and rapists. To put it another way – I am less worried about the bad boy in the biker bar than I am about the professional-looking man in the suit. The latter may be a refined sociopath who has learned how to fake empathy and sincerity to seduce people in all sorts of ways.

    • says

      That, I am afraid, is the sort of rhetoric that is more likely to antagonize men than it is to stimulate debate.

      Only those men who are unable to distinguish between “men” and “masculinity.” These are not the same thing.

      The focus on the M&Ms example misses the main point – many rapists are not obvious “bad boys” in the way described in this posting.

      Yes, that’s my entire point. I’m addressing the idea that it’s possible to distinguish immediately between Rapists and Not Rapists, and that the people who cry “not all men!” are assuming that it’s obvious to everyone which camp they fall into.

    • says

      Anyway, if it’s so “pejorative” and “antagonizing” when said by a woman, here are some well-known and respected male academics making the same claim:

    • says

      —-That, I am afraid, is the sort of rhetoric that is more likely to antagonize men than it is to stimulate debate.—

      This reminds me of one of my grandmother’s sayings –

      ‘Throw a stone into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit’.

      Why, exactly, would it antagonize men to talk about toxic masculinity?

      There is certainly toxic femininity as well, you’ll find it in books like ‘created to be his help mate’. I’m not insulted by people who point out that such women are misogynistic shitheads. I’m insulted that such women ARE misogynistic shitheads.

      So why, exactly, are you antagonized by it being pointed out that toxic masculinity is a thing and a problem?

    • says

      Graham:

      That, I am afraid, is the sort of rhetoric that is more likely to antagonize men than it is to stimulate debate.

      Some men, perhaps, but not all.
      Certainly not this man. I understood what Miri was saying and I completely agree.

      And what is it about Miri’s statements that are going to antagonize men such as you?
      Do you disagree that most men buy into notions of toxic masculinity that help enable sexual violence?
      Do you understand what she means by toxic masculinity?
      Do you understand how adhering to toxic notions of what it means to be a man (or what a man’s role/job is) can help foster an environment where sexual violence thrives?

    • says

      @ Graham

      That, I am afraid, is the sort of rhetoric that is more likely to antagonize men than it is to stimulate debate. It is a broad-brush, highly perjorative assertion for which no evidence is offered. Read it again and think really hard about how it is going to be processed.

      I know the type you have in mind. The type that will assume “most of you to some extent” means that there is no problem because they and those like them can’t possibly be making rape easier. The type that will assume that “toxic masculinity” automatically means the speaker is saying that their masculinity is toxic.

      Why should I respect people that assume global descriptions of behavior tendencies automatically mean them? People who automatically think the their group is just like them? These are the people that make it harder to look at racism, sexism or any other -ism in any group from the Republican party (Not all Republicans!) to the tech industry (Not all tech guys!).

      Do you have an efficient strategic solution for dealing with the risk of shutting down introspection in people sensitive to group think? Because I think that continuing to point out common experience and showing the irrationality of such group think is a better course at this point.

    • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

      Not All Men object to accurate criticisms of toxic constructions of masculinity. :P

      Much less shut the fuck down on encountering one.

  2. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Post #1 and we already have the obligatory Deny the Problem by Exemplifying the Problem Guy in attendance.

      • says

        I’m curious what you think is wrong with my response. I corrected a misunderstanding, linked you to a bunch of works by male researchers who have informed my views on masculinity, and requested that you leave the condescension out of your comments. If this is not “encouraging,” I don’t know what would be, short of full agreement and abandonment of my own opinion.

      • says

        Yeah, shoot, I woulda lost. Though I’m still skeptical he’s going to say anything else of substance. Can I still win if he comments but doesn’t, you know, say anything?

  3. says

    That, I am afraid, is the sort of rhetoric that is more likely to antagonize men than it is to stimulate debate.

    Where do I start?

    Are you denying that there are underlying cultural problems and attitudes that provide for rapists to stand on the shoulders of the masses, as it were? Or do they just pop up out of the vacuum, and each and every rapist is a psychopath?

    People who are antagonized by this are the problem. They clearly don’t see the cultural soup they live in as having anything wrong with it, and seem to react in an individual way as if someone accused them personally of being a rapist, which also means they have generally low comprehension or a vested interest in denial.

    Who was asking for a “debate”?

  4. says

    That reminds me of one of the issues in skepticism, the way that people have an image in their heads of what a irrational person looks like. They think of someone who argues by emotion, who is unintelligent and uneducated. And so when someone is polite and educated, how can we question them, and how dare we insult their intelligence? I get where people are coming from, since skeptics most often focus on the most ridiculous beliefs, and often with scorn and mockery. But intelligent people can have strange beliefs, nice people can have strange beliefs, even skeptics can have strange beliefs, because irrationality is a normal human condition.

    Similarly, though we spend a lot of time scorning and mocking the worst examples of sexism, sexism is largely an everyday thing. Sometimes I wonder if the way to convey the magnitude of sexism is counterintuitively to make sexism small, small enough that people can swallow the thought “I too have been sexist.” Doesn’t seem to quite work out though.

    • says

      @ miller
      Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.
      Socrates (from what the internet tells me)
      Emotion is often correlated with bad logic and reasons, and you are correct to point out that many are emotional for good reasons. The trick is in pointing out emotion and argument (or lack of argument and all emotion in the other person). There are many ways that people will use the presence of emotion to try to distract and discredit argument because they know deep down that emotion is useful for spreading a message. So they have to tag that emotinal message as a thing to be distrusted by others even as they conveniently ignore the emotion that is present in how they do what they do. Nothing in our actions is emotion free. I have seen really intelligent people limit themselves to emotion in arguments when the subject is very sensitive to them. Nothing replaces looking at the reason and logic in a political conflict.

      Similarly, though we spend a lot of time scorning and mocking the worst examples of sexism, sexism is largely an everyday thing.

      I think the problem here is in how detailed the category of “sexism” is in the mind of the person. When faced with a pattern that is not in one’s direct experience we start mentally simple and set up a dichotomy of simple “sexist/not sexist” examples. What is supposed to happen after that is that we learn the rule “sexism” thorough analysis of the examples (like an algorithm) and discover how to see it in new contexts, which can take some practice and effort for a person who is used to their own set of gender experiences.

      Too many just remember the specific examples in the first part, or fail to apply the rule in perception often enough to develop skill with it so they go on thinking that they are not sexist because they don’t do A-J, or that sexism does not exist because they never recognize the unfamiliar examples. People won’t learn to see the small stuff if they don’t recognize the rule present within the patterns, or apply the rule to their experience.

  5. Blanche Quizno says

    Hey, Miri – love the way you ruin fun so professionally. Keep up the good work. Here is a variant on “#NotAllMen” that I thought perfectly complemented the M&Ms one:

    http://tinyurl.com/mgx6zz2

    This was an especially good column – you hit upon the really important points clearly and succinctly. Way to drive it home.

    The problem with describing the bad person as a “monster”, as you put it, not only makes it easier to blame the victim (“I certainly would have recognized him a mile off!”) but in that blaming the victim, the accuser creates a false sense of security that the terrible thing that happened to the victim can never happen to him/her, because the accuser feels insulated and safe via the delusion of superior discernment ability and wise caution. This, BTW, is why you see so many women failing to support rape victims, and even attacking them with insults and accusations, punishing them for speaking out. Far better we all pretend that rape and sexual assault are simply stories that never happen.

    • Tessa says

      Hey, Miri – love the way you ruin fun so professionally. Keep up the good work. Here is a variant on “#NotAllMen” that I thought perfectly complemented the M&Ms one:

      Completely off topic, but Wow! All this time I’ve been reading that as “Miri, professional fun-runner.”
      I feel silly now.

      Back on topic,
      Another problem with making rapists monsters is that when people do find a rapist, and it’s someone that know, or love or respect, etc. It conflicts with their idea of a monster, so there must be a problem. She must be mistaken. He just made a little mistake. His whole life shouldn’t be ruined for this. And so on.

      Because the rapist isn’t a monster, they can’t be a rapist, or at least not enough of one for it to be branded on him forever.

      • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

        Another problem, a minor one in comparison, is that the division of society into “normal okay guys” and “OTHER”s who are dangerous often means that people in general and women in particular are primed to find people who seem “weird” or “off” threatening. This sometimes can manifest in ableist ways.

      • Onamission5 says

        As someone near and dear to me said about a rapist related to her, “I can’t stop seeing him as the sweet little boy I grew up with. I can’t see him as that kind of a monster.” She then proceeded to deny that he was capable of such things because he was a sweet little boy once. She’s well aware that this relative of hers is a horribly manipulative and abusive person in many other ways, but believing that he’s a rapist is just a bridge too far, because while she’s able to humanize manipulators and abusers, she’s unable to accept rapists as human beings. To her, they are an other, not someone you have known since their earliest childhood.

    • smhll says

      The problem with describing the bad person as a “monster”, as you put it, not only makes it easier to blame the victim (“I certainly would have recognized him a mile off!”) but in that blaming the victim, the accuser creates a false sense of security that the terrible thing that happened to the victim can never happen to him/her, because the accuser feels insulated and safe via the delusion of superior discernment ability and wise caution.

      I really like this. I think some of the careless assumptions people make about rapist recognition skills are warped by media representations of sexual assault and other crimes. When the potential assailant is about to appear on TV, the audience is warned by an ominous soundtrack (which real life doesn’t give us). Also, TV and movie criminals are quite often unattractive people, sometimes with visible markers intended to suggest that they are lower class. So, unfairly, middle class and upper class men may believe that they themselves categorically do not look like rapists. (While there are female rapists, most of them don’t rape women, hence I don’t personally fear them.)

      Relatedly, people with a superficial understanding of rape may assume that rapists are unpartnered and sexually unsuccessful. (A strong meme that is contradicted by the data but held by many people.) Thus some people might think any suggestion that they resemble a rapist is not just a slur on their (invisible) character but also an insult to their appearance.

  6. Jacob Schmidt says

    That, I am afraid, is the sort of rhetoric that is more likely to antagonize men than it is to stimulate debate.

    This assertion relies, perhaps unbeknownst to you, on the premise that a man is more than likely a fool who can’t distinguish between a description of a cultural norm and a personal attack. Not All Men™ are such fools.

    Hey, Miri – love the way you ruin fun so professionally. Keep up the good work. Here is a variant on “#NotAllMen” that I thought perfectly complemented the M&Ms one:

    Interestingly, the rates for car accidents and sexual assault are actually comparable. I find its a very good analogy. Things like defensive driving and the like are taken as banal, effective precautionary measures, but women being wary around men in vulnerable situations is taken as tantamount to calling all men rapists.*

    Though I’m still skeptical he’s going to say anything else of substance.

    Minor edit, for strict accuracy’s sake.

    *There is the argument that being wary around men, specifically, is “profiling” or “discrimination”; I’d find the argument far more convincing if a) the actions of these women being wary had an actual impact on the men in question and b) if men didn’t make up about 98% of those who rape women.

    • Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

      Interestingly, the rates for car accidents and sexual assault are actually comparable. I find its a very good analogy. Things like defensive driving and the like are taken as banal, effective precautionary measures, but women being wary around men in vulnerable situations is taken as tantamount to calling all men rapists.*

      *There is the argument that being wary around men, specifically, is “profiling” or “discrimination”; I’d find the argument far more convincing if a) the actions of these women being wary had an actual impact on the men in question and b) if men didn’t make up about 98% of those who rape women.

      I like the analogy of using an atm and standing so as to block the keypad from the view of people waiting in line behind you. Pretty much everyone does that but nobody howls that they’re being profiled as identity thieves. It’s just one of the million ways we perform risk assessments on a daily basis.

    • says

      People asses risksall the time. In traffic, at the ATM, whenencountering stray dogs. People telll youthat you need to be wary when buying on the internet. Only when women say Hey, we have no clue whois dangerous it’s that we are acccused of misandry

      • Ben Crouch says

        I can honestly understand both sides of the issue. I recently had a female friend of mine voice some of the same complaints I’ve seen scattered around on the #YesAllWomen. This was eye opening for me since I know for a fact that isn’t even aware of the current internet uproar in regards to feminism and misogyny. I was completely floored when she told me about how upset it makes her about being asked if she had a boyfriend when shes out at a club. Everyone is uncomfortable with having to re-access themselves.

        But, to speak to the entire “profiling” point, this is where I have to voice my concern. As a black man who grew up in the deep south, I’ve dealt with racism my entire life. I’ve suffered the vitriol of bigoted whites in one form or the other for almost 30 years. Seeing their suspicious, hate filled stares would cause me to go home some nights and weep out of a frustrated sense of helplessness. And it seemed to me that most of my abuse came from white women.

        When I read these generalizations, the very human part of me again can’t help but feel that sense of overwhelming frustration rise again. I can’t help but notice that it is white women who are making these outraged claims about ‘privilege’ and ‘misogyny’ and ‘sexism’ when they themselves are, at least in the US, the second most privileged group in the country. The percentage of white women CEO’s is 2 times higher than black men CEO’s and nearly 5 times that of latino men. White women as a whole earn 6 more cents on the dollar than black men and a whopping 15 cents more than latino men.

        It goes on and on and on. I suppose this has all lead up to me saying, “What should we do to make this better for everyone?” I understand the frustrations, fears, anxiety, anger and other emotions some women must go through on a daily basis living with the casual and deeply systemic sexism and misogyny in everyday life. But there is also that part of me that refuses to accept that I will be stereotyped and villainized because of something innate to my being.

        • says

          I can’t help but notice that it is white women who are making these outraged claims about ‘privilege’ and ‘misogyny’ and ‘sexism’ when they themselves are, at least in the US, the second most privileged group in the country.

          Well, the #yesallwomen hashtag was started by a woman of color, and women of color are also really active on Twitter and elsewhere online and off in discussing these issues in addition to racism. Of course white women speak out about it too, and of course they’re often horrible at listening to women of color, addressing intersectionality in their activism, and creating inclusive feminist communities. But sexism doesn’t go away or stop having an impact just because the woman in question is white, and the numerous women of color talking about it shouldn’t be overlooked either.

          But I hear what you’re saying and I wish there were a better answer to it. I do like the Crommunist piece that Onamission5 linked to.

          When a particular white woman avoids a particular black man on the street, it’s impossible to say “how much” of that is racism and “how much” is justified fear of male violence. It’s probably always a little of both. When I’m out alone at night and there aren’t many people around and I see a man, I can’t suppress or ignore the fear that I feel, but I try not to let it show.

        • says

          You know, there’s a difference between all those scenarios mentioned by me and the one mentioned by you:
          The former fears and precautions are justified, the latter are not.
          Men attacking and raping women? Happens more often than you would like to believe. Traffic accidents happen a thousand times a day. People trying to steal your credit card and pin? Fucking organized crime. People being bitten by dogs? Really not something exceptional. Black people routinely committing violent crimes against white people? Not really that much of a thing.
          But I will admit that there’s an intersection of unjustified racism and justified precaution. Is this white woman extra cautious with you because you’re black or because you’re a man? Hard to tell. You could probably devise a study in which you present white women with the same scenario and only vary the skincolour of the man. I think that especially in the USA* you would get a much higher level of precaution when the guy is black, but you would not get a zero precaution when the guy is white.

          I’m not USasian, there are very few black people where I live, but I can assure you that I use mostly the same patterns of precaution my American sisters do

        • says

          @ Ben Crouch
          It’s not an easy issue and you have every right to be sensitive and suspicious about any group that practices a type of discrimination. Let’s call it what it is, discrimination can be rational as in between political parties or alternative medicine versus medicine, while still doing what you can to let people show you what they are really like as individuals inside of the groups. In fact I’m of the opinion that folks such as yourself can help to find the most rational ways of properly tuning rational discrimination.

          I think that a key difference here is the understanding that race is not a contributing factor in activity that might determine risk (if you want to point out that there are a lot of people that irrationally think it is a factor I would agree, they are wrong and need to be fought), but we are all collectively somewhat wary about all of our fellow human beings in a strategic sense. Outside of a few isolated extreme examples that anti-feminists love to drag out, women don’t really believe that all men are like what gets pointed out on #yesallwomen or with respect to the Schrodinger’s rapist example.

          But they still have to strategize, and that has to be acknowledged.

          • says

            I actually DO think that race is a factor. Only that it’s probably not a factor that decides whether or not a woman is cautious at all but more a factor in how extreme the reaction is.
            Let’s not deny that “black/brown men rape white women” is a well-established racist trope. It also means that this is one of the few types of attack where a woman might actually be taken serious: She is white, he is not.
            It also means that women are having a hard time being believed if he was white (and probably even middle-class) and a double hard time if they aren’t white.
            There is no universal female experience when it comes to rape and sexual assault. Because sexuality, purity and victimhood are constructed differently for white women and for women of colour. There is no innocent girlhood for WoC

          • says

            I see nothing in your comment to disagree with Giliell. Those are all relevant points.

            When I say “race is not a contributing factor in activity that might determine risk” I’m thinking in terms of how racists normally think of criminality among minorities and such as in the some of the things that Ben Crouch would be concerned about (though they are probably concerned about your as well). Race absolutely is a factor in such tropes and other sorts of irrational discrimination and prejudice.

          • says

            Not surprising. I have a lot of trouble piecing my thoughts together sometimes. I don’t mind clarifying because of that.

      • says

        That ATM example might be closer to something that might be more effective than the poisoned M&Ms example. The poisoned M$Ms example is a good one because it matches the problem that women are facing fine, but it’s too easy to dismiss because we don’t face example like that normally.

        What about an example that is more of a part of everyone’s experience? Instead of an ATM though lets say that the person in the example is in a situation where the can’t leave, maybe they are behind the counter at work and they work somewhere that has multiple locations. But they really need something from a nearby store that costs a fair amount (lets say 50$ or more) and they overhear that a customer is going to that store and coming right back (I need to think of a good example of something they might really need quickly).
        Do we ask that person to pick something up for us? Most of us probably do not because we know that there are enough dishonest people out there that would just take our 50$ and go to another location where we work so they don’t have to see us again. But there are plenty of people that would not mind picking up something for us. Is this massively unfair that we would “pretend everyone around us was a potential thief”? No, because we are not pretending everyone is a thief, we are acting strategically because we can’t know who all the thieves are.

  7. says

    I find this subject fascinating.

    Some decades ago I went to see the movie “The Accused” whith Jodi Foster. The film was built around a rape and the following court case. Several men in a bar rape a woman who is in there “for a good time”. What hit me, and hit me hard, was how easily I could be one of the guys in the bar. How easily I could end up acting in excitement and regretting at leisure, along with all the self denials and victim blaming.

    Putting the onus of self protection on women might seem sensible but it isn’t. We men need psychological mechanisms in place to block off such behaviour. We need deterrents for those who would not otherwise care, and ways of identifying those that do it any way. The onus should be on each individual not to be a rapist and to know how to avoid it.

    Instead we ask large chuncks of the population to live in fear and to avoid living full lives so we wont have to rape them. Psychotically we get groups of men that feel that women should show caution with everyone except them.

  8. says

    A good companion piece to this, I think, is this post by Cliff Pervocracy.

    That was nearly three years ago, and Schrödinger’s Rapist is older than that. Maybe if enough people post about it, for long enough, it will sink in?

  9. thelibyan says

    “Most of you to some extent buy into a dangerous and toxic masculinity that makes widespread sexual violence possible”

    Such as?

    • pjhalifax says

      Maybe start with any number of messages men and boys receive (or are bombarded with) that promote the idea that a woman is an object, or property, and therefore less than a person. I’d argue that these are all related to how we learn about (acquire?) masculinity.

      Print and TV advertisements, movies, sitcoms, all depicting “traditional” “masculine” roles and women in relation to them — just the list of media sources could go on and on, not even getting into other areas like religious teachings, etc., but you get the idea. When a human being is portrayed not as an individual, equal person but instead an object…well, then an object is something to be possessed and most likely controlled. It’s easier to commit acts of violence against that object.

      How much we identify, reject, or buy into how masculinity is packaged is hard to quantify but I’d argue that it’s impossible to deny…the messages are everywhere, and have been everywhere for a long time.