Homicide: life in Seattle »« The girls complained of headaches, dizziness and vomiting

Do you at least agree with the principle?

Guest post by Daniel Fincke of Camels With Hammers, replying to a comment on It was a joke, huh huh huh.

May 30, 2012 at 6:49 am  (Edit)

1. It’s not okay to assume that any woman (or non-woman) is at a conference to be your plaything.

(I fail to see such an assumption)

First: this is a general principle Ophelia is laying down. Do you at least agree with the principle?

Second, let’s not get distracted by the semantics of whether literally the couple just looked at Elyse and said, “wow, is that a talking sex doll here at the conference simply for our amusement?? Holy crap, I think it is! Let’s go give her our card with our naked pictures and proposition her for sex!” Of course it is not that simplistic.

But the point is that when your only interaction with a stranger is on the sexual level in a non-sexual context, then what you’re doing is bypassing all other levels of human interaction and saying, “Look, the only thing that I am interested in conveying about the way you strike me is that I’d like to have sex with you.” Now to a stranger, with no context about who you are and no relationship with you, this is objectifying. If the context were, say, an orgy or some other sort of sex party or swingers club or sex website or sex chatroom or strip club or brothel, where this was an understanding of all participants, then maybe the sorts of expectations for how it is permissible to introduce yourself to someone might be a bit different and various ways of (friendly, respectfully) introducing yourself with a sexual pass may be more understandable.

But in the non-sex-specific contexts, people expect to be first addressed and considered and treated on grounds other than their sexual desirability to you. That should be our default assumption. To convey otherwise where this expectation is implicitly in place is to effectively risk being interpreted by the recipient of your sexual request that you are so uninterested in them for anything but sex that you refuse even to take the normal steps of acquaintance and friendship and trust-building but insist instead of just seeing if they are willing to be a sex partner first since that is all that matters. This disregards their own sexual ethics or interests (which you have decided not even to take any steps to inquire about, whether implicitly or explicitly). It disregards any concerns they might have for what sorts of gestures make them feel good or bad about themselves. It disregards any emotions that they may have according to which they would are concerned about being judged on the merits of their arguments or insights or other abilities and not their sexual desirability. It disregards all the possible fears they may have that no matter what they do of merit others will only be judging them by crude standards of whether they want to fuck them.

It disregards all of this and instead treats them first and only in a sexual way as one would treat a sexual plaything. Even in the situations of orgies and brothels and sex chatrooms and strip joints one is not doing this because the context sets up certain assumptions of certain forms of consent. You have in those contexts some consent to proposition people a bit more quickly. You still do not have consent to have sex or touch without the other’s agreement but the context frees things up a bit to be more sexually forward.

Without contextual consent to be sexually forward like that, the default assumptionshould be that the person you are engaging with does not want to be propositioned first and have questions asked later as though they were primarily interested in being perceived as and treated as a potential sex partner.

2. It’s not okay to assume a stranger welcomes your nakedness.

(I fail to see such an assumption)

They gave her a picture of themselves naked to her without first asking whether she would like to see it. Therefore they either assumed that she welcomed seeing their nakedness or they realized she might not and didn’t care that it would repulse and upset her.

You say they didn’t assume she welcomed their nakedness. Okay, then they realized that quite possibly that she would not welcome this and that it would repulse and upset her. So they took the (quite likely) chance of repulsing her and upsetting her rather than erring on the side of avoiding any unnecessary repulsion and dismay. That’s really selfish and inconsiderate and obnoxious behavior on their part. They are no different than unsolicited flashers in this regard.

How you could defend that is beyond me.

3. It’s not okay to remove another person’s ability to have a say in the situation you’ve put them in.

(I fail to see such a removal)

They ran away. They refused to give her a chance to express her feelings directly to their faces—unless she were to call them and arrange a meeting just to yell at them, I guess. That’s an unreasonable demand to put on her. This was effectively, again, like an unsolicited flasher coming up flashing and running away like a coward, not staying to allow the victim to express her feelings in response. They wanted to make the agency to make an aggressive advance but denied the person on the receiving end agency to express her feelings to them.

4. It’s not okay to proposition someone while they are at work.

(a matter of opinion, when it’s a one-off and there is no hint of persistence)

I imagine this depends on the job. In most jobs, it’s not okay and even where it may be justifiable, it should only be where there is already an established mutual rapport, friendship, and trust in which one can be reasonably confident that there are good odds, already expressed to you, that they like you enough, trust you enough, and treat you flirtatiously enough that they seriously could be interested in accepting the offer.

5. Your speaker’s looks are irrelevant to everything else she brings to your conference. And so is your boner.

And so is the basis for this outrage.

(bah)

No, the basis for the outrage is not irrelevant. The point is that if every time women speakers stepped down from the podium they were treated like they just got off the strip pole and solicited for sexually related activities, then women would have an unfair choice between being speakers and avoiding being treated in a sexual way by strangers. That’s the kind of burden that is put on the speaker if this sort of behavior is condoned/normalized. The speaker has every right that the people who approach her will show respect for her as a speaker first and foremost. It’s extraordinarily rude to send the message that “yeah, whatever you were talking about may be nice and all, but let me cut to what I’m really interested in, ‘wanna fuck?’”

6. If there is a conference policy on not propositioning people at your conference, don’t approach people for sex.

Was there such in this situation?

7. I cannot think of a single situation where it’s ever appropriate to hand someone an invitation to group sex if you haven’t already had or discussed having sex.

Argument from lack of imagination.

(Seriously?)

There could be scenarios, I guess, like your presence at a swinger’s club where your first discussion of sex might involve a discussion of group sex in particular. But this was not a swinger’s club or any other place specifically designated for greater tolerance of sexual advances. In non-sex-specific contexts where a certain level of consent to discuss sex is not implied by the nature of the event or space, stages of intimacy usually require that one move from less familiar and probing to more familiar and probing. One’s interests, or lack thereof, in group sex are fairly personal for many people. Not for all people but for most people and so it is intrusively abrupt to raise the topic with just anyone since the default assumption is that the person you are speaking with has a typical sense of propriety and a typical aversion to jumping stages of intimacy before being asked about or propositioned for any particularly kinky form of sex. You have to respect the average person’s sensibilities, and when dealing with a woman in particular you must think about the average woman’s sensibilities in thinking about what is generally appropriate. The average woman is put off by questions that leap to very intimate questions of sexual interests before rapport, then trust, then trust with sexual questions have been established.

8. Outnumbering a stranger while putting them in an uncomfortable situation is a dick thing to do.

How does one “outnumber” a stranger?

(Sophistry is sophistic)

There were two of them propositioning one person for sex. This was not “one” outnumbering a stranger. It was two doing so. Two people saying, we both are lurking around here with sexual designs on you is creepier than even just one person doing it.

care to establish your basis for opining that the example provided constitutes creepy, sexist behavior?

(Is it really so very creepy that poly people take a chance in inviting you in? Me, I’d be flattered)

And

It was a fucking invitation, one that (need I repeat?) I would be flattered to receive.

What sort of world is it where a one-off, indirect but apparently sincere offer is ‘creepy’?

Creepy behavior is whatever disrespects someone’s boundaries or signals a willingness to disregard boundaries. It is disrespectful. When you ignore the typical boundaries of the average person you are showing a disregard for social norms. Now your own private norms may be much different than social norms. You may privately be polyamorous or open to sexual advances from strangers who you have not yourself yet given any implicit or explicit sexual green lights to. But the average woman’s norms are mirrored in social norms which find both of those things transgressive of proper boundaries. Until you have established a private relationship with someone and come to learn her particular private norms and establisher her particular level of rapport, trust, and sexual interest in you, your default assumptions must be that she is one of the “normals” and not like you.

The fact that you would be flattered by the invitation does not mean women are. Humans are not all the same. Men in our culture tend to be more flattered by unsolicited bold come-ons than women. I know I am. But men and women obviously live in wildly different social contexts though and we must respect that. We must respect that women live in a context in which they are turned into both idealized and denigrated sex objects constantly. We must respect that women are in the culturally dictated position of being the ones typically propositioned and so the propositions come far more frequently and far more annoyingly (on that account alone if none other). We have to respect that women are constantly having their capabilities and accomplishments in other areas of life put second to their sexual desirability (or presumed lack thereof) and so propositions in many contexts (such as in the one in the case under discussion) are not flattering at all but a signal that what they would like to people to be focusing on about them is being ignored so that they can be viewed on only a sexual level. Again.

We have to respect that women are often physically smaller and less muscular than the men propositioning them and often in less powerful positions to them and so propositions come with imposing physical, social, and professional threats as possibilities in many cases. Also, many men are socialized to ignore initial (or even all) refusals to propositions that women in various contexts make and so propositions come with them the scary and frustrating possibility of follow up harassment even if they say no.

I could go on listing the ways that the social world in which women are propositioned makes it hard in many cases for them to simply feel flattered. They have good reasons to associate propositions with many unflattering attitudes towards them and good reasons to have Pavlovian fears of follow up harassment and cajoling when they are propositioned—even when dealing with people they like and have sexual interest in but still feel the need to refuse for one reason or another. Even the people they have rapport and trust and a degree of physical intimacy with could turn into date rapists and even have in many women’s experiences. So, in that context, a stranger who signals first and foremost a disregard of social norms and a cluelessness or apathy about how they experience things is creepy to them and rightly so.

Comments

  1. says

    I should add that this isn’t really an appropriate way to behave in a strip club either. Sure, strippers expect it more than conference speakers, but it’s only marginally more welcome.

  2. says

    I should add that this isn’t really an appropriate way to behave in a strip club either. Sure, strippers expect it more than conference speakers, but it’s only marginally more welcome.

    Yes, I was trying to avoid implying that you could just proposition strippers for sex so I talked about it being okay to solicit of someone who had “just come off the stripper pole” for “sexually related activities”. A lap dance is a sexually related activity if not (traditionally interpreted) “sex”.

  3. John Morales says

    Well, I know Ophelia considers the matter settled, but still.

    Re 1 and 2, I still think they are unwarranted imputation of motives and beliefs; basically, they’re self-serving guesses masquerading as facts.

    Re 3, I’d say Elyse did, in fact, have a say in the situation (as this very post demonstrates). She could even have had a say at them then and there, had she been more attentive.

    Re 4, I suppose that’s right. At work, non-work related activities are improper.

    Re 5, the stated basis was the previously enumerated set of points, which I think are more effects of than causes for her discomfort.

    Re 6, that was phrased as a conditional, not as an absolute (unlike 4). Clearly, the result of a conditional depends on its condition.

    Re 7, what more is there to say? That one can’t imagine stuff, therefore stuff can’t be possible remains a purely rhetorical argument and remains unconvincing.

    Re 8, the uncomfortable situation occurred when she actually paid attention to the card; the card does not outnumber her. When the couple were actually in her presence, she was not in an uncomfortable situation.

    Well, perhaps I’m too literal, and I know people read all sorts of implications and motives in what I write.

  4. John Morales says

    Oh, I should add that of course I agree that assuming that women at conferences are there to be one’s playthings is an offensive and stupid assumption.

  5. Vicki says

    I’d add that, despite what the commenter you’re answering says, this isn’t about polyamory. Most poly people–like most monogamous people–wouldn’t proposition a stranger that way.

    The “you wouldn’t understand, you aren’t polyamorous” here is the same kind of “we are better than you, so you have to expect us to transgress your boundaries” as claims that men who assault women “just can’t help themselves.”

  6. says

    @John Morales

    Suppose you are right and we simply have no way of knowing what their motives were, or making educated guesses as to what their motives were.

    That doesn’t matter. What they did was still harassment. Intent is not, as the bard said, fucking magic.

    Moreover, as Dan notes regarding 2, if they DIDN’T assume that she would welcome their nakedness, then they did it with full knowledge that their action would potential cause harm.

  7. unbound says

    Thinking that John Morales is nothing more than a troll. But let me try an analogy.

    When taking my children to the mall (when they were much younger), there were occasions where I would say a harsh word or two over how the behaved. I did notice that strangers (usually the ones without children) reacted to how harsh I was with my kids (even though it was only verbal). From their limited perceptions and extremely limited experience in life, they say a single incident that didn’t seem to be particularly big in which the parent immediately got very harsh. It was pretty easy to tell that the non-parent thought I was going way overboard.

    However, what the non-parent didn’t understand is that this was not the first time the child misbehaved. I wasn’t over-reacting…I was trying to correct the poor behavior of the child that had been doing it off and on for many months now. The most effective way to get the child to understand that the behavior was unacceptable was to step in immediately and tell the child that it was wrong each and every time. After awhile, the child did learn and the behavior stopped.

    Ophelia has put in some rather basic and agreeable rules. You seem to think that the rules are harsh…potentially because it won’t allow you do what you want to do. In the world, however, we need to learn to behave around other people. It isn’t that the woman was propositioned for the first time in the history of women; the issue is that this happens repeatedly over time.

    It isn’t that the outburst by the child (or the propositioning by the person) is a huge issue when it happens once. The problem is that it keeps happening. Where do you draw the line?

    The best line that halts the poor behavior is the one that doesn’t let it start to begin with.

  8. says

    Re 1 and 2, I still think they are unwarranted imputation of motives and beliefs; basically, they’re self-serving guesses masquerading as facts.

    As per 1: John actions convey standard meanings. One has to understand how one’s actions are most likely to be interpreted when one acts. I explained the implicit message that most women will hear when you behave as this couple did. Meanings are public in this way. It is the onus of the bearer of a certain set of motives and beliefs to communicate those properly. If they do not intend to convey that they see someone as merely sexually interesting then they should not treat her in such a reductionary way that only focuses on their sexual interest, before engaging with her as a full human being.

    The issue was how she was treated. Any one who cares to convey respectful beliefs and motives towards a woman should not treat her the way these people treated this woman because it will convey the opposite message for the rational reasons I articulated at length.

  9. John Morales says

    skepticalmath:

    Suppose you are right and we simply have no way of knowing what their motives were, or making educated guesses as to what their motives were.

    Where have I claimed that “we simply have no way of knowing what their motives were”?

    That doesn’t matter. What they did was still harassment. Intent is not, as the bard said, fucking magic.

    That would be why 1 and 2 specifically focus on the inferred intent, right? :)

    Moreover, as Dan notes regarding 2, if they DIDN’T assume that she would welcome their nakedness, then they did it with full knowledge that their action would potential cause harm.

    Pretty much any action has potential to cause harm; the point is that, before the fact, there are more possible outcomes than either liking it or being repulsed by it.

  10. says

    Yes, John, obviously, there are ranges of reactions. But the idea that just because there is a range absolves one from responsibility to pay attention to the bad outcomes as well as the good is ridiculous. If someone walked up to you and started ripping off your clothes to have sex with you, it is *possible* that you’d be either welcoming or indifferent, but nonetheless it would be wrong of them to do so.

    Where have I claimed that “we simply have no way of knowing what their motives were”?

    You keep repeated that we’re making unwarranted assumptions (without, naturally, ever demonstrating that.) Given the fact that we actually have provided reasons that you refuse to even try to refute, I assumed you were making some kind of principled stand. If I was wrong, please feel free to demonstrate that that’s the case.

    That doesn’t matter. What they did was still harassment. Intent is not, as the bard said, fucking magic.

    That would be why 1 and 2 specifically focus on the inferred intent, right?

    My point is that you’re making a huge fucking deal about how you think our assumptions are wrong, when that is only incidental to how wrong the couple was to do what they did, and how severely problematic this kind of environment is to an ongoing skeptical community.

  11. says

    TL;DR — you keep saying that the assumptions we infer are wrong. Yet that’s all you do: despite copious arguments provided for why their behavior indicates certain assumptions, you refuse to provide any actual counterargument. I decided to give you the benefit of doubt, and assume that you don’t think simply reiterating a position without support is good argument, and assumed you were making some kind of principled stand.

  12. Yessenia says

    Re 1 and 2, I still think they are unwarranted imputation of motives and beliefs; basically, they’re self-serving guesses masquerading as facts.

    Let me introduce you to the Reasonable Person Standard.

    There are two possible results from handing someone a picture of your genitals.
    1. They’re happy about it! Yay!
    2. They’re not at all happy about it, and you just harassed someone.

    #2 is by far the more prevalent reaction. Their behavior shows they know this – they had business cards printed out for mass distribution, and then fled the scene before their mark had a chance to react negatively.

    A reasonable person – and arguably, these assholes – is thus aware that the potential for harming a stranger with this behavior is very high. Thus, a reasonable person who did NOT intend to harass someone would not engage in this behavior.

    If you don’t mind harassing someone – maybe eight or nine or ten someones in your quest for group sex – then I don’t mind inferring that your intent is to harass them.

    Finally, note that : your motive might be to find a sex partner, but your intent is to harass your way through a crowd to find the one person who’d take you up on such a creepy offer.

  13. John Morales says

    [meta]

    unbound, your concern is unmerited but your intent is appreciated.

    skepticalmath:

    But the idea that just because there is a range absolves one from responsibility to pay attention to the bad outcomes as well as the good is ridiculous.

    Had I made this claim, it would indeed have been ridiculous.

    You keep repeated that we’re making unwarranted assumptions (without, naturally, ever demonstrating that.)

    <sigh>

    I’ve been explicitly referring to points 1 and 2, where the couple’s purported beliefs and motives are inferred and condemned.

    My point is that you’re making a huge fucking deal about how you think our assumptions are wrong

    Well, it wasn’t, though you might have intended it to be so. It was about the purported irrelevance of intent when judging behaviour, to which I responded by noting that the first two points (you are aware that this is Elyse’s enumerated list, not mine, right?) are all about intent.

    As for this point which you claim was your original one: Care to try to quote me making this claim?

    I decided to give you the benefit of doubt, and assume that you don’t think simply reiterating a position without support is good argument, and assumed you were making some kind of principled stand.

    Your assumptions are flawed, nor have I been reiterating my position except when noting various misrepresentations of it, such as yours above.

  14. John Morales says

    Yessenia, note that I have not claimed that Elyse’s beliefs regarding 1 and 2 were wrong, but that it’s unwarranted to express certitude about them.

    There are two possible results from handing someone a picture of your genitals.

    Semi-covered breasts are not genitals.

    Other than that, I neither disagree with nor dispute your post.

  15. says

    I’m sorry, sometimes I used “assumption” to refer to the motives that Elyse and others have assumed they had. That might be confusing.

    Had I made this claim, it would indeed have been ridiculous.

    Your rebuttal to the point that if the couple had not assumed that Elyse would welcome their nakedness, then they were aware that she might not, therefore their action was malicious, you responded that, “the point is that, before the fact, there are more possible outcomes than either liking it or being repulsed by it.” This seems fairly clear to me that you think that the fact that there are more options is somehow a sticking point to Dan’s original argument, which it isn’t.

    I’ve been explicitly referring to points 1 and 2, where the couple’s purported beliefs and motives are inferred and condemned.

    Sorry, this is one of those points. You have been repeating that our inferences are unjustified, without ever defending that position. You said, first, that you fail to see such an assumption (referring to the inferred assumption of the couple) and then that you still feel that it is an unwaranted guess. You don’t defend this, despite when argument and evidence is given for the inference. That’s what I was saying.

    As for this point which you claim was your original one: Care to try to quote me making this claim?

    Um, that you claim our inferences (again, sorry I used the wrong word) are wrong? See above.

    Your assumptions are flawed, nor have I been reiterating my position except when noting various misrepresentations of it, such as yours above.

    Which ones are flawed? Yes, you did. At least twice (once quoted in the OP, once in response to the OP).

  16. says

    Though, if you agree (or don’t disagree) with Yessenia, chances are I’m simply completely misreading your posts, in which case, my apologies.

  17. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    Jesus fuck, John Morales. Stop. Just stop. You are not even making any sense any more with your “Huh-uh, prove it, what about this, what about that JAQing off.

    I’m sure you WOULD be flattered by something like this. That doesn’t make something like this OK or not-harassment. Can you honestly not see how these two things are not the same or are you just trolling right now?

    Because I’m supposing the latter.

  18. John Morales says

    skepticalmath, this endless loop of iterative clarification grows tedious.

    Your rebuttal to the point that if the couple had not assumed that Elyse would welcome their nakedness, then they were aware that she might not, therefore their action was malicious, you responded that, “the point is that, before the fact, there are more possible outcomes than either liking it or being repulsed by it.” This seems fairly clear to me that you think that the fact that there are more options is somehow a sticking point to Dan’s original argument, which it isn’t.

    I was noting there is no dichotomy; specifically, I deny that the only two possibilities are either assumption of welcoming or malice.

    I’ve been explicitly referring to points 1 and 2, where the couple’s purported beliefs and motives are inferred and condemned.

    Sorry, this is one of those points. You have been repeating that our inferences are unjustified, without ever defending that position. You said, first, that you fail to see such an assumption (referring to the inferred assumption of the couple) and then that you still feel that it is an unwaranted guess. You don’t defend this, despite when argument and evidence is given for the inference.

    You seem confused by what I’ve written; I nowhere have denied that it is possible (maybe even likely) that this couple imagined women at conferences are there to be their playtoys and that their invitation was to be welcomed. What I’ve indicated is that this is not logically-entailed, and thus is not known to be true.

    Note that I did not claim it was an unwarranted guess (which makes it seem like the act of guessing at their beliefs and motives was unwarranted), but rather that it was a guess, and therefore it doesn’t warrant certitude.

    Which ones are flawed?

    The ones which I quoted immediately prior to that response.

  19. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    You know what, John Morales, never mind. I’m not going to argue with you on this – one more douchenozzle in a whole world full of them hardly makes a difference anymore, now does it?

  20. says

    What I’ve indicated is that this is not logically-entailed, and thus is not known to be true.

    Note that I did not claim it was an unwarranted guess (which makes it seem like the act of guessing at their beliefs and motives was unwarranted), but rather that it was a guess, and therefore it doesn’t warrant certitude.

    Do you seriously think that any one of us doesn’t realize that, considered strictly, it is not logically certain that the couple had the intentions we inferred? You do realize that *in general* this kind of thing is assumed to be understood so that we can have an actual substantive conversation, since otherwise every single conversation would devolve into an epistemic dick-measuring contest?

    Like, seriously, is your entire purpose in this thread merely to show off that you have a basic understanding of logic? Because we all get it.

  21. John Morales says

    Gen:

    I’m sure you WOULD be flattered by something like this. That doesn’t make something like this OK or not-harassment. Can you honestly not see how these two things are not the same or are you just trolling right now?

    I’m giving people the courtesy of responding to their posts to me, nor am I claiming that because I personally would not be bothered others shouldn’t be. From my very first post, my critique has been about the characterisation of the couple’s beliefs and motives, not with their behaviour per se, and with the basis on which this characterisation was argued.

    You are not even making any sense any more with your “Huh-uh, prove it, what about this, what about that JAQing off.

    Those “Huh-uh, prove it” posts are responses to people strawmanning me and refer to their contentions about mine.

    (cf. my #5)

  22. says

    Hey John Morales? If you find this tedious you can stop any time. I find you not just tedious but also clueless and patronizing and I would love you to stop.

  23. says

    And because you seem to have misunderstood, I’ll make clear that I posted this because I like Dan’s comment, not because I like yours. This post is not about you.

  24. John Morales says

    [meta]

    skepticalmath:

    Do you seriously think that any one of us doesn’t realize that, considered strictly, it is not logically certain that the couple had the intentions we inferred?

    But people have been arguing this claim, which seems perverse if they realise its truth.

    (And 1 certainly makes the assumption that this is the case)

    Like, seriously, is your entire purpose in this thread merely to show off that you have a basic understanding of logic? Because we all get it.

    Again, you are wrong in your attribution of motive.

    As I wrote above, my entire purpose in this thread has been to respond to people responding to me.

  25. John Morales says

    Ophelia:

    This post is not about you.

    I’m disappointed that you imagine I think it is.

    But yes. I stop forthwith.

  26. says

    John: I think most people have assume that, like in most conversations, these kinds of epistemic disputes regarding absolute logical certitude of knowledge are not relevant, and mere empirical and probabilistic knowledge is sufficient. Thus, perhaps, some of us have misread your point, assuming that you were actually trying to join in our discussion, rather than completely derail it.

    Regardless, you have a strange definition of response.

    Like you, I find this tedious. Bye now.

  27. Josh Slocum says

    Because I like to barge in where polite people fear to tread, shut the fuck up John. You’re being a complete asshole, and you’re being deliberately manipulative. You’ve been around FtB long enough to know exactly why this behavior is unacceptable. I’m not buying your “Unwarranted assumptions” and affected academic disinterest/innocence stance. You either know exactly what you’re doing, or you have no clue at all. Either possibility leads to the unpleasant conclusion that you’re warped and to be avoided.

    Your bullshit last night here at B&W was beyond weird. Aratina Cage asked you if you were impaired for good reason—your sentences didn’t even parse grammatically. It was literally impossible to understand what you thought you were trying to convey.

    I’m going to be charitable, very provisionally, and assume you’ve been drunk for two days straight. If I’m wrong then I really want to see even less of you.

  28. Philip Legge says

    [meta] The obtuseness is strong in this one. [/meta]

    John,

    I know you are being the good skeptic and all, but I can’t help comparing this to all of the endless Elevatorgate discussions that derailed en masse over the last ten months. For example, seemingly endless comments and words were spilt over whether the simple phrase spoken by Elevator Guy, “Don’t take this the wrong way…”, was a rhetorical manipulation to avoid the open acknowledgment that he was about to do something very predatorial and skeevy, or that he was honestly interested in talking to Rebecca and had already anticipated that his phrasing would be taken to mean something different.

    Or, more contentiously, whether a simple phrase such as “back to my room for coffee” has only one, completely unambiguous meaning.

    In the end, it had absolutely no bearing on the matter whether Elevator Guy was being predatorial or honest, or wanted coffee or made a veiled invitation to sex. The wrong that was inflicted has to be taken from the point of view of the person who was harassed and made to feel unsafe, insulted, or disrespected: in that case Rebecca Watson, in this case Elyse Anders. So, to turn to the first of your objections to Elyse’s points:

    1. It’s not okay to assume that any woman (or non-woman) is at a conference to be your plaything.

    (I fail to see such an assumption)

    In other words, you are playing the tactic of second-guessing other people’s intentions, and because Elyse hasn’t proved beyond your reasonable, skeptical doubt that the couple did in fact regard Elyse as a plaything in this specific case, I’m reading your objection as though this renders her general point moot. And your subsequent objections follow a similar pattern of quibbling that Elyse hasn’t provided a metric fucktonne of utterly unassailable proof for this one case, rather than considering the generalities. (For example, your point 6 is sheer laziness on your part for raising the question of whether the couple broke the conference’s policy: read it yourself and tell us.)

    If you’re unable to observe that the so-called ‘chilly climate’ has unarguably sexist features, taking for example your own observation that sexual invitations addressed directly to you (or some other men) are rare enough that you find yourself flattered by them, whereas many women are arguably irritated at not only having to regularly fend them off but moreover have to justify the argument that they should not have to be available and open to receiving sexual invitations at any hour of the day, any day of the year, then respectfully you need to consider shutting up and listening to the larger issues, rather than engaging in pedantic quibbling over the minor facts (which are going to remain peskily in dispute when the couple issued a not-pology).

  29. John M says

    Although I have never engaged or propositioned for casual sex, millions have, and no group has a snowball’s chance in banning it or changing the culture. Or else just ban men people from bad behaviour, period.

    wonderful! solved! not! same with discourage as with ban. ban weed and coke while you’re at it. ban me from normal natural stuff and i will kick back, like millions will.

    adapt, people. I have children and would give them good advice whether they like it or not.

    That said, I don’t see the harm in asking people to behave.

    Had to edit to read gender neutral.

  30. Josh Slocum says

    Although I have never engaged or propositioned for casual sex, millions have, and no group has a snowball’s chance in banning it or changing the culture. Or else just ban men people from bad behaviour, period.

    We’re changing it right now. Go back to your hoggle hole.

  31. Philip Legge says

    One thing more I should have added before: I’d also like to record my sincere appreciation of Daniel Fincke’s comment, quoted here as the originating post for the comment thread. Warm applause.

  32. John M says

    you are failing now with an overdose of righteous idealism, Canute. you rude person!

  33. Philip Legge says

    Let no one make the mistake of thinking that this interloper calling himself “John M” is a sock-puppet of John Morales; I would like to confirm that he is keeping to his promise of dropping the subject (as at post #26).

    “John M”, to quote another well-known trollish personality… “you’re not helping”.

  34. Beauzeaux says

    I have to stop reading these discussions. I’m going along– happy as larry, then this thread appears and makes me hate men, A lot. AGAIN. (Sorry to all the “good” guys. But damn!)

    This bullshit about “how it was meant” and “casual sex is always around” and therefore “you dumb women have to get used to it.”

    And John Morales is an egregious and nasty troll.

  35. John M says

    Perhaps this may help. I would advise my daughters not to get alone with men they are uncomfortable with. Get out of their way, be diplomatic and firm, but don’t expect them to listen to reason, how do you reason with a dick. And maybe learn some self defence. And scream.

  36. says

    The sad thing is that John Morales is, in all probability, not a troll. He is a regular in the Pharyngula Endless Thread and is usually sincere about what he says.

    He did this same go-round during elevator-gate. I thought perhaps he had learned something. Apparently not.

  37. says

    Perhaps this may help. I would advise my daughters not to get alone with men they are uncomfortable with. Get out of their way, be diplomatic and firm, but don’t expect them to listen to reason, how do you reason with a dick. And maybe learn some self defence. And scream.

    If you gave a shit about your daughters, you’d be addressing the disease rather than the symptoms. You would be changing the culture to lessen the probability that they’d ever have to scream or use self defense.

    Instead you assume that it’s going to happen and put the burden of how to deal with it on their shoulders.

    YOU DO NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOUR DAUGHTERS.

  38. John M says

    Its an adapt and survive strategy, its about their welfare, not putting them in the front line of fixing society. I prioritise my own battles, thx but no thx.

    Tell me I don’t care, caps fail. yeah whatever.

    I don’t feel like wasting any more of my life responding to the rude angry person you are portraying.

  39. carlie says

    And it won’t work, John M. A guy will corner them somewhere they have no chance to escape. Or won’t listen to their diplomatic remarks. Or there will be no one there to hear them scream. Or, more likely, will be someone they’ve let their guard down with already, who they trust, who they think is their friend, who will so blindside them with it that they won’t even have time to think to react.

    Sure, teach them all of that. Self-defense is good. But don’t fool yourself into thinking it will do a damned thing to stop them from being raped.

  40. Aratina Cage says

    So this whole time, John Morales has been asking us to prove using pure logic that we are loved by someone (a.k.a., that porn card purveyor was creepy) while ignoring the empirical evidence (what Elyse said about her feelings). Because we can’t know with certainty that we are loved (or if someone is being intentionally creepy). As if being loved (creepy) was an objective fact about the world. Is that right?

    By the way, I think I remember seeing porn card purveyor’s pornographic photo in a Typepad avatar a long time ago when Pharyngula was still solely on scienceblogs and you had to click on people’s nyms to see their avatars. There was also a similar photo of some commenter’s willy being crushed in a laptop by a woman’s stomping foot, and I wouldn’t doubt if it is the same guy. A friend of John’s, perhaps?

  41. A nym too says

    I’m seconding Carlie.

    John- the adult version of “stranger danger”is as much bullshit as the kid version.

    Their friends, colleagues, classmates, and anyone close to them – they’re the risks. You, as Dad,don’t want to hear this, but the creepy,looking guy on the train is (statistically speaking) as likely to hurt them as he is to shoot rainbows from his eyes. Paul from maths class, Bobby the paper-boy, Timmy from next door, trusted or even loved by her… they’re danger on legs.

    In fact, trust levels seem to magnify risk levels. Oh that first boyfriend Justin, AP student, star quarterback, volunteers at the local hospital. Aren’t they cute together? He’s quite the little gentlemen.

    One night she comes home upset. She brushes you off, something about an argument. Her phone beeps,he’s. texting her,”Sorry babe, luv u”. Over the following weeks she looks tired, her grades are slipping, but she still seems happy with him, but not in the way that she was.

    Then your wife calls you at work and asks you to come home. The school gossip grapevine has word that your daughter is having sex with her boyfriend, and had a pregnancy scare.

    It turns out that first ‘argument’ was. actually him coercing her into sexual activity. But he apologised, said it was a misunderstanding, he loves her and. would never hurt her.

    You’re inclined to believe him. A good boy from a good home, kind and respectful. Anyway, why would she stay with him if he’d hurt her? You’ve taught her how to defend herself, how to say no, so why hasn’t she? Can’t have been that bad, she’s misread him, you know how boys are!

    And that’s how it starts. You can’t spot predators or protect her from everyone with ill intent. The. only thing that a parent can do is say “Sweetheart, we love you. If anyone makes you feel uneasy, or they hurt you, please come to us, or an adult you trust. Nobody has the right to touch you if you don’t want them to. But being your age can be confusing, people can sometimes do things that make you want something and not want it at the same time. You might feel like you can’t say no or leave. That will never be your fault, and you can still talk to us about it. ”

    Tell her that kissing, making out, touching,, or any activity, is consent for anything else.
    Tell her she can stop whenever she wants. Tell her that doing something once does not mean she ever has to do it again. if she doesn’t want to. Every consent is valid for that event only, not in perpetuity.

    So sorry this got bong, but it’s important stuff.

  42. says

    @A nym too: I have two young daughters (7 and 5) and a boy (3). That is exactly what I want all three of them to know. Excellent and honest advice.

  43. John M says

    Hi all you kind people, my daughters are late twenties to late thirties, effectively past the age where either their mother or I can educate them any more. Two attempted assaults by strangers in 16 years, both had police combing all over the area for perps. neither attacker got to them, they ran too fast.

  44. eric says

    Holy cow, did JM actually use the “you can’t know their motives for sure” argument as a defense?

    That’s right up there with “you can’t logically rule out the existence of a god.”

    No, you’re right, we can’t know their motives for certain. But we are perfectly justified in deciding how to respond to events based on the best inference we can draw from the data we DO have.

    The problem of induction doesn’t cause people philosophical paralysis in coming to conclusions about people’s motives at any other time. So why should Elyse abstain from judgement in this case?

  45. John M says

    I think I’ve made a booboo in conflating photos of genitalia with inappropriate advances. Sorry if I have caused a problem. So I think best STFU and next time read the label :(

  46. Hypatia's Daughter says

    These guys who claim they would enjoy being propositioned out of the blue make me laugh. I suspect that if this overweight, gray haired 60 year old made a pass at one of them, that their enthusiasm would wilt as fast as their hard-on.
    It’s always Angelina Jolie or Keira Knightley who can’t keep their hands off them, isn’t it?

  47. says

    I’m coming into this late, so I don’t know if people are still reading. Anyway, I feel Marty Klein has a point here.

    I guess it comes down to this: Is the purpose of a conference’s harassment policy to protect people from ever feeling uncomfortable?

  48. Aratina Cage says

    @Tim Martin
    Oi. Marty Klein’s essay is so much hogwash and misguidedly patronizing. There is a lot of difference between 1) asking someone out politely or nearly politely in sight of many others at a reasonable time of day and 2) slipping a nude photo of yourself grasping and pulling on the naked breasts of your wife to a woman you’ve just met with a message on the photo inviting her to be your next play thing.

    As for the idea that “['No thank you'] should have been the end of the story“, since when? Can we not warn others about the people who just basically flashed themselves at us and treated us like fresh meat? Can we not share our horrid experience with others? What does Marty want other than for women to shut up about things they have a problem with?

  49. says

    I don’t actually agree with the “not telling others about it” part. I think that’s fine. But you didn’t answer the question that (I think) is the crux of the issue – Is the purpose of a conference’s harassment policy to protect people from ever feeling uncomfortable?

    Sure, there is a difference between your #1 and #2, mainly that most people would be comfortable with 1 and not with 2. But there are plenty of things that make people uncomfortable, and there are plenty of people who are “outliers,” who feel uncomfortable when others wouldn’t. So what is the purpose of a conference policy? To keep most people comfortable most of the time?

    Also, that’s twice I’ve used the word “harassment” now, but I’m not convinced that an honest request to have sex is any more harassing than an honest request to go on a date. I agree that the circumstances of the former made it unexpected and uncomfortable for Ms. Anders, but there was no power imbalance, there was no repeat offense – it was creepy people being creepy.

  50. says

    In the case of women in particular being more likely to be put off by such questions, it is because of the fear of slut-shaming (slut-shaming is an aspect of dying victorian sexual morality which ought to die faster).

    One’s interests, or lack thereof, in group sex are fairly personal for many people.

    This is probably in most cases due to a.) dying victorian sexual morality or b.) fear of unjust opprobrium based on dying victorian sexual morality if one is in to that sort of thing.

    Dying victorian sexual morality needs to die faster. In an ideal future, “Are you down for a threesome?” will be of no more consequence than “Do you like pizza?”.

  51. julian says

    @Skepgineer

    Not everyone responds to sex the same way. (Some don’t care for it all.) It shouldn’t be about scoring points against Victorian ideals but about respecting the boundaries and limits people have.

    This is probably in most cases due to a.) dying victorian sexual morality or b.) fear of unjust opprobrium based on dying victorian sexual morality if one is in to that sort of thing.

    How do you know a or b? It could any multitude of reasons from bad experience with group sex (me) to just not interested in sex with a group. I could say the fantasy of 3 way sex has it’s roots in male ideals of dominance an control over multiple women but that wouldn’t make it true.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>