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May 29 2012

It was a joke, huh huh huh

Elyse Anders was the keynote speaker at Skepticamp Ohio last weekend, and had an unpleasant experience at the end.

Then, at the very end, when everyone was preparing to leave, and I was packing up the Hug Me table, answering questions, and generally socializing with other speakers and attendees, thinking about how fat my check is going to be from Big Pharma when one man and his wife, whom I’ve become vaguely acquainted with on Facebook in the last week, approached my table. He said, “Here’s a little something to remember us by” and handed me an upside-down card. I turned it halfway over, glanced at it peripherally, then thanked them.

A minute or so later, I had a “wait… what?” moment, then flipped the card over and looked at it not peripherally to discover I had not been handed a business card, but a card with a naked photo of the two of them, with their information on how to contact them should I want to fuck.

TMI – with “I” meaning not information but intimacy. Too much intimacy with strangers, without invitation or permission or preliminaries. People, don’t do that.

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. I think a nice rule of thumb on handing out such things is: Have you discussed or engaged in sexual activity with this person? If yes, hand them the card. If not, do not hand them the card. If you’re sad because you never had the opportunity to discuss such an opportunity with them, the thing to do is not to shove your card in their face. The thing to do is accept that sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. There isn’t a shortage of humans in the world. You can find another one to have sex with.

There you go, you see –  If not, do not hand them the card. Don’t start from zero with “wanna fuck?”

Also sprach the Taliban, I know. The cool right on anti-Taliban thing to do is just say “wanna fuck?” to anyone you consider hot enough to fuck, just in case. Treat the whole world as a cruisey park where people are there for instant fucking, to let the Taliban know it’s not the boss of us. Except no, don’t. Don’t treat women who are there to work as if they’re really, under the mask of doing-something-else, there to have sex with you.

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  1. 1
    Brian Engler

    I couldn’t believe it when I read Elyse’s post. WTF were these people thinking? I suppose, more to the point, they weren’t. As appalling as the whole episode is, I loved the quote: “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.” Self evident as that should be to everyone, apparently it isn’t. So maybe we need to codify it as the Elyse Law or turn it into a t-shirt.

  2. 2
    Pierce R. Butler

    Some people have a rather expansive definition of “hug”.

  3. 3
    Bret

    I’m not sure I understand the problem. I mean, I’m with you in that I’m rather reserved sexually, but I was once propositioned by a gay man (granted it wasn’t via nudity card… or in an elevator). I didn’t feel violated or put upon, I didn’t get offended that he would assume I was gay because I was at a pro-gay rights rally. It wasn’t a big deal for me to say, “No, sorry, but I’m flattered.”

    I just don’t see the big deal here, and certainly not because this little creep-move is something I think is a good idea, would ever do, or would ever want to happen to me. But it’s harmless, though clearly a little awkward. I doubt anyone wants to turn it into a lawsuit or make such a thing criminal, so what’s the point? Why can’t we laugh at how socially inept that couple is without getting indignant?

    Still, if anyone read this and thinks it’s a good idea… even if you see this as just “playing the odds,” be warned that anyone this works on will, indeed, be odd. Then again, maybe that’s your thing…

  4. 4
    Bernard Hurley

    Of course, it’s always just a joke. For some reason I don’t see it that way myself; maybe I just lack a sense of humour.

  5. 5
    Comradde PhysioProffe

    I just don’t see the big deal here, and certainly not because this little creep-move is something I think is a good idea, would ever do, or would ever want to happen to me. But it’s harmless, though clearly a little awkward.

    No, it isn’t harmless. It is grossly intrusive, objectifying, and belittling. Did you even read Elyse’s post? She explained in great detail exactly how harmful this “little creep-move” was to her.

  6. 6
    eigenperson

    #3 Bret: The problem was that it made Elyse feel very uncomfortable. She shouldn’t be subjected to that. Besides, as the keynote speaker, she was present at the conference in a professional capacity, making the conduct even more incomprehensible than it would be otherwise.

    Also, your situation would have been more analogous if Gay Elevator Guy had handed you a card bearing a photograph of his penis.

  7. 7
    eigenperson

    #6: Hmm. By “Gay Elevator Guy” I mean “Gay Non-Elevator Guy”, since I misread your post.

  8. 8
    'Tis Himself

    It was a joke. Can’t you take a joke?

    The classic response of someone who got caught being an asshole but doesn’t want to admit it.

  9. 9
    mordacious1

    Yikes! This is creepy. I’m okay with alternative lifestyles, but there is a time and place. They have clubs you can join, internet sites, newspapers…not when someone is working. It seems like the organizers took action right away, so kudos to them. Maybe they should have just asked her out for coffee first…

  10. 10
    julian

    Oh my god.

    I knew, literally could have guessed if asked, it would be Bret piping in to say getting hounded for sex or given nude pictures of someone is no big deal. It certainly isn’t a form of sexual harassment. Really it isn’t and you’re wrong to say it is or should be.

    Jesus. Fuck this community.

    And stop saying socially inept. They are not socially inept. They disregarded someone else’s feelings. There’s a world of difference between the two.

  11. 11
    julian

    You know I’m kinda glad actually. There’s no way to pretend this wasn’t an unwanted and unsolicited sexual invitation. So the douchebags are going to have to be upfront about how they don’t consider it problematic.

    “I’m not bugged by this. So why should I listen to you when you are? You’re just being silly. Laugh it off.”

    No more pretending it was just coffee. No more pretending there’s (in their minds) a wrong or bad place for it. No more pretending there would be a bad way to do it. Anything and everything is in bounds. Sexual harassment that isn’t physical isn’t sexual harassment. It’s no big deal.

    It’s so refreshing. I can breath again.

  12. 12
    John Morales

    Ophelia, it is you who would seem intolerant to me, did I not think this a lazy post.

    (I am aware that you have no good basis upon which to be bothered by my perception)

    So, they gave Elyse a more-than-explicit offer, no strings attached.

    (That’s problematic how?)

    Let me not be purely rhetorical:

    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)

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

    (I fail to see such an assumption)

    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)

    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)

    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)

    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?)

    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)

  13. 13
    phhht

    Why not say “Thank you, but I have other plans.”

    If you don’t want to have sex with people you hardly know, that’s just fine. People who want to do that are hard to find. Advertising is a time-honored way of achieving such a goal.

    You may not swing that way, but some of us do.

  14. 14
    John Morales

    julian:

    There’s no way to pretend this wasn’t an unwanted and unsolicited sexual invitation.

    Unsolicited, indeed. Unwanted, not-so-much: it was not known to be wanted.

    Whence any claim of pretence?

    (Also, how one makes it known that a sexual invitation is welcome without actually soliciting such is of relevance here, no?)

  15. 15
    Josh Slocum

    I just don’t see the big deal here, and certainly not because this little creep-move is something I think is a good idea, would ever do, or would ever want to happen to me. But it’s harmless, though clearly a little awkward. I doubt anyone wants to turn it into a lawsuit or make such a thing criminal, so what’s the point? Why can’t we laugh at how socially inept that couple is without getting indignant?

    You dumb shit. She was at work. She was a public speaker. She was interacting with people in a professional context and representing not only herself but her well-known blogging network. And some pigs walked up to her—after this past year’s vomitous misogyny-fest—and handed her a Wanna Fuck Me and My Wife card. In public.

    You’re either too stupid to live or you have no concept of appropriate boundaries.

  16. 16
    phhht

    Josh,

    There is nothing inappropriate about advertising your sexual proclivities. Look at Haines. Look at Chevrolet. Look at American Apparel. Look at Marlboro.

    See, Josh, I think YOU are too stupid to explain what is wrong about what happened.

    I think the best you can do is to say See! See! If you don’t see it like I do, you’re stupid!

    All you got is invective, Josh. Try a little reason.

  17. 17
    Aratina Cage

    John, since you don’t see it, it doesn’t exist! (heh)

  18. 18
    Aratina Cage

    And let’s stop it with the “but what about the menz” whining already, John and Bret. It didn’t happen to a man, it happened to a woman yet again.

  19. 19
    John Morales

    Josh Slocum:

    You dumb shit. She was at work. She was a public speaker. She was interacting with people in a professional context and representing not only herself but her well-known blogging network. And some pigs walked up to her—after this past year’s vomitous misogyny-fest—and handed her a Wanna Fuck Me and My Wife card. In public.

    Work is sacrosanct, and this (that which you characterise as “Wanna Fuck Me and My Wife”) was done supposedly done in public (as purportedly evinced by the claim “A minute or so later, I had a “wait… what?” moment, then flipped the card over and looked at it not peripherally to discover I had not been handed a business card, but a card with a naked photo of the two of them, with their information on how to contact them should I want to fuck.”).

    Gotcha.

    (Uh-huh)

  20. 20
    John Morales

    [OT + meta]

    Aratina:

    And let’s stop it with the “but what about the menz” whining already, John and Bret.

    Care to attempt to justify your allegation?

  21. 21
    Aratina Cage

    Your first “point”, John. Knock it off.

  22. 22
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Aratina Cage @21, this is my first point: “Ophelia, it is you who would seem intolerant to me, did I not think this a lazy post.”

    “knocking it off” essentially implies I should shut up.

    (Is that really your appeal?)

  23. 23
    Josh Slocum

    Oh, lord. Is there a back-door pipeline to the slimepit from here?

  24. 24
    Aratina Cage

    John, I can’t understand “Ophelia, it is you who would seem intolerant to me, did I not think this a lazy post.” Please rephrase that in a way that is more easily comprehensible. But no, that isn’t your first “point”. Your first “point” is labeled with the number one.

  25. 25
    Albert Bakker

    Saw it first on PZ this morning (UTC +2), went over to skepchick and think that perhaps Herman Mehta’s question (who reportedly also spoke at this occasion): “why doesn’t this ever happen to me?” summarize this sordid – and most definitely humorless – episode best.

    It is a good thing Elyse brought it out in the open. It is also a good thing that some people feel obliged to defend this shameful behavior. They inadvertently, nay inevitably, show the insincerity of the intellectual pretense by which they defend their position because it is utterly untenable, and the inadecuacy of their reasoning to arrive at the predetermined conclusion.

  26. 26
    MLR

    Maybe I’m some sort of prude or puritan (though I have certainly never been accused of it). But I would think that, just maybe, people might want to err on the side of caution when it comes to soliciting sex from folks they don’t know or only know in a non-friend capacity. In fact it seems like such a simple concept that I really thought the comments on this issue would finally be of the hive-mind, echo-chamber variety that we’re so often accused of having… But it seems I was mistaken. Apparently there are people here that believe this was okay, because, well, how else can you find out if a speaker at a conference is interested in sex? I mean, I suppose there’s the option of, you know, maybe just accepting that you can’t find out without crossing some very serious boundaries and that, just maybe, a person’s desire for sex doesn’t override another person’s desire to not have those boundaries crossed.

    Anyway, I thank those folks commenting for reminding me that no matter where people fall on the religious or political spectrum there’s one thing a good chunk of them can agree on: women have too many rights. Conservatives of course think they have too many reproductive rights. And apparently some godless folks here think that women shouldn’t have the right to be free from sexual harassment and hostile work environments, because some men (or couples) want sex, and that “want” clearly trumps a woman’s “want” to not be harassed. So, I say to those godless folks that have no issues with this: go try to find some common ground with your religious conservative brethren. Maybe you can join forces and figure out ways to deny women even more rights! Think of all you could accomplish together. Or, maybe accept the fact that women are people. With rights and shit. Including the right to not be harassed. So, if a woman doesn’t want to be harassed, that want always supersedes another person’s desire for sex, period. Hard concept, I guess… sigh.

  27. 27
    Aratina Cage

    And, yes, my appeal to you, John, is for you to stop going in that direction now by shutting up if you must. The topic is on the multiple cases of harassment of women at atheist events, not the harassment of men.

    And really, John, aren’t you saying that the women affected should shut up about this? Isn’t that what you are really saying? You think it was OK for the man to slip a pornographic photo of himself in a sexual pose with another woman to the keynote speaker with a note propositioning her for sex, so what’s the big deal, right? Why the fuss? (Sounds to me a lot like: “Shut up. Shut up! SHUT UP!”)

    Women shouldn’t have to put up with that kind of creepy, sexist behavior. They have a right to say it is going too far without having to be interrogated by you.

  28. 28
    John Morales

    Albert:

    It is a good thing Elyse brought it out in the open. It is also a good thing that some people feel obliged to defend this shameful behavior. They inadvertently, nay inevitably, show the insincerity of the intellectual pretense by which they defend their position because it is utterly untenable, and the inadecuacy of their reasoning to arrive at the predetermined conclusion.

    It is a good thing that such as you are exposed, too.

    (Do you imagine my #12 is subject to your contention?)

  29. 29
    John Morales

    Aratina:

    And really, John, aren’t you saying that the women affected should shut up about this?

    What?

    No — not even slightly.

    Women shouldn’t have to put up with that kind of creepy, sexist behavior.

    I concur that women shouldn’t have to put up with any kind of creepy, sexist behavior; now, care to establish your basis for opining that the example provided constitutes such?

  30. 30
    Aratina Cage

    It is a good thing that such as you are exposed, too.

    What?

    John, I think you might want to seriously consider refraining from commenting right now. Your recent comments make you appear impaired for some reason.

  31. 31
    Aratina Cage

    The “example provided”? John, what happened to Elyse isn’t an example that was provided (and which deity would have done that providing if it had been provided, I wonder?) for our intellectual consideration or amusement. That actually happened to her.

  32. 32
    John Morales

    Aratina:

    I think you might want to seriously consider refraining from commenting right now. Your recent comments make you appear impaired for some reason.

    The reason is, I think, your incomprehension.

    The “example provided”? John, what happened to Elyse isn’t an example that was provided (and which deity would have done that providing if it had been provided, I wonder?) for our intellectual consideration or amusement. That actually happened to her.

    You imagine I deny this?

    Again: 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)

  33. 33
    Aratina Cage

    The reason is, I think, your incomprehension.

    My incomprehension–which is caused by you being somewhat incomprehensible at the moment, John. I was worried you were drunk-commenting or something and that you would later regret it.

    You imagine I deny this?

    I was not sure. Do you? It is not an example but an actual event that happened. Examples are often made up situations to illustrate a point.

    Is it really so very creepy that poly people take a chance in inviting you in?

    If you have to ask, you are not listening to the woman this happened to. She found it creepy. Your personal thoughts on how you would feel if you were in her shoes are irrelevant.

    Me, I’d be flattered

    You are not everyone else.

  34. 34
    John Morales

    [final]

    Aratina, please.

    Then, at the very end, when everyone was preparing to leave, and I was packing up the Hug Me table, answering questions, and generally socializing with other speakers and attendees, thinking about how fat my check is going to be from Big Pharma when one man and his wife, whom I’ve become vaguely acquainted with on Facebook in the last week, approached my table. He said, “Here’s a little something to remember us by” and handed me an upside-down card. I turned it halfway over, glanced at it peripherally, then thanked them.

    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’?

    (You imagine that, were I to receive a gay offer in such a manner, I would find it creepy?)

  35. 35
    John Morales

    (sigh)

    Yes, Aratina. I fully acknowledge that the recipient found it creepy, after the fact.

    (Privilege takes many forms)

  36. 36
    Pteryxx

    I concur that women shouldn’t have to put up with any kind of creepy, sexist behavior; now, care to establish your basis for opining that the example provided constitutes such?

    …Is this really a No True Harassment argument?

  37. 37
    John Morales

    Pteryxx, no.

  38. 38
    John Morales

    Pteryxx, suppose you change ‘women’ to ‘men’. Does it change anything?

    (If not, in what sense is it sexist?

    If so, how so?)

  39. 39
    Aratina Cage

    Don’t bring gay men into this, John, please. It is too easily abused into the “all gay men are predators” trope.

    What sort of world is it where a one-off, indirect but apparently sincere offer [no, it was a proposition--an offer would have been something that was expected to be received] is ‘creepy’?

    One where the proposition is pornographic and completely off-topic. John, different people find different things creepy. Spiders are creepy to some people, for instance. Why does that bother you so damn much?

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

    It was an invitation in the same sense that the request for a loan from your long lost cousin in Nigeria is an invitation. I’m glad that spam makes you feel flattered.

  40. 40
    Yessenia

    Good thing all these men are here to tell us women how to cope with sexual harassment. The real problem is that women don’t have enough experience being sexually harassed. It’s understandable we’d the proper etiquette explained to us.

    Thanks, men. Next time I get handed a card with some stranger’s cock on it, I’ll smile and remember that a man would find it flattering, and men know best how to react to what they dish out.

  41. 41
    Yessenia

    we’d need* argh

  42. 42
    John Morales

    A rat in a Cage:

    Don’t bring gay men into this, John, please. It is too easily abused into the “all gay men are predators” trope.
    [...]
    Spiders are creepy to some people, for instance. Why does that bother you so damn much?

    Two things: (1) I am not in denial and (2) Gaydom and polysexuality are much the same, to me.

    (I respect both equally, though I’m not inclined to either)

  43. 43
    John Morales

    Yessenia, are we reading the same source?

    Because what I’ve read is:

    A minute or so later, I had a “wait… what?” moment, then flipped the card over and looked at it not peripherally to discover I had not been handed a business card, but a card with a naked photo of the two of them, with their information on how to contact them should I want to fuck.

    (Straw dummies are made of straw)

  44. 44
    Aratina Cage

    John, I tried to respond to you, but ironically the spam filter was tripped by my comment and it disappeared into the void. My short response is: gay people are human, too, and don’t ever complain about the spam in your inbox again.

  45. 45
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Aratina, I leave this here, but please know that you have my respect, and that I pay attention to what you write.

    (FWIW, I successfully practice Web prophylaxis; I get no spam on my personal mailbox; but then, as you’ve noted, I’m atypical)

  46. 46
    fredbloggs

    I’m no expert on how this group sex thing works, but I’m guessing approaching complete strangers is part of it.

    I have a friend who was always hitting on bar-staff (and my reasoning has always been that they are under an obligation to be polite to you. They can’t tell you to f*ck off) I’ve always thought of staff as being off-limits for this reason.

    Having said that, sometimes people do make contacts of a personal kind while in the workplace. People do meet future partners at the workplace. Workplaces are not completely de-sexualised.

    Ultimately, it all comes down to the sensitivity of persons involved. Learn to read the signals and respect others wishes.

    Behavioural guidelines are not a bad thing, but I think the kind of person who makes clumsy passes in the workplace isn’t likely to be the kind of person who reads them.

  47. 47
    Aratina Cage

    Well I hope you forgive my snark then, John. Seriously, this really isn’t any different than filtering out spam from the inbox. It’s not OK to take advantage of social spaces in a way that sexualizes these spaces when that is unwanted.

    I won’t type out the keywords that tripped the filter last time, but you should know how it is to get the more sexual email messages out of the blue from people you might know but can’t quite place a finger on. I don’t see anything wrong with thinking those kinds of messages are creepy or with wanting to prevent them from making it to your inbox again.

    The social spaces of some women in the atheist community are being violated by the equivalent of sexualized spam messages from men. There is nothing at all wrong with wanting to prevent those types of interactions from happening, and there is nothing wrong with veiwing such interactions negatively.

    Your suggestion for women to treat such situations as if they are no big deal seems to be the same as telling women to forget about installing spam filters and instead continue to select each spam message individually, then click the delete button, and then empty their trash folders to deal with spam.

    Let’s face it, after spam reaches a certain daily volume, it will start to feel like harassment and you are going to want a spam filter that can catch it before it gets to your inbox.

  48. 48
    John Morales

    Aratina, your snark is not to be forgiven, but to be criticised.

    Your suggestion for women to treat such situations as if they are no big deal seems to be the same as telling women to forget about installing spam filters and instead continue to select each spam message individually, then click the delete button, and then empty their trash folders to deal with spam

    There is no such suggestion.

    Again:

    A minute or so later, I had a “wait… what?” moment, then flipped the card over and looked at it not peripherally to discover I had not been handed a business card, but a card with a naked photo of the two of them, with their information on how to contact them should I want to fuck.

    The two of them, with their information.

    (I see no gender-based dominance/submission here.

    Care to elucidate?)

  49. 49
    Aratina Cage

    John, if you are not making that suggestion, then why are you arguing that this was no big deal?

    And please inform yourself better, John. Go to Skepchick and click the SFW card to see the NSFW card. No gender-based dominance my ass! The pose comes off as extremely predatory on the man’s part.

  50. 50
    John Morales

    Aratina:

    And please inform yourself better, John.

    You, whom I imagined had some idea of how I operate, didn’t think I did do so upon reading the OP, before commenting?

    (I stand corrected, if disappointed)

    This is the text of the card: “Hi! We’re Bob and Babs! Let’s be friends!

    Call us!

    [redacted phone number]

    [redacted web address]”

    (Very sexist, that!)

  51. 51
    Albert Bakker

    #28 No it wasn’t to my contention, not in the slightest manner. Instead it serves as a demonstration the thing I said about inadequacy of reasoning. In fact is why I said that.

    A short cut to a much more sensible position is perhaps available to you by taking a Rawlian perspective and discover what is wrong with your point of view. You should have perhaps already been a little less convinced of your defense by the fact that the people involved apologized, apparently profusely too, for their inappropriate behavior and even felt compelled to say it was a joke. At least at some point it dawned on them that this sort of thing is truly abnormal and not defensible.

    Also it seems you weren’t able to come up yet with the right answer to Herman Mehta’s question.

  52. 52
    Bernard Hurley

    I can’t see how the behaviour described can be thought of as anything other than sexual harassment. It is not dissimilar to various cases I had to deal with when I was a trade union official. In each such case the issue was not whether sexual harassment had taken place but what should be done about it. As to the “I am the world’s greatest comedian” defence, it is incredibly common but to my mind just adds insult to injury.

  53. 53
    mikee

    A minority of posters seem to think they wouldn’t mind being handed a card offering sex. Many others find it creepy.
    Therefore, if this couple insists on handing such cards out to virtual strangers it seems to me they will alienate and offend more people than they manage to get it on with.

    Different people have different thresholds when it comes to sexual behaviour, perhaps this couple should have erred on the side of caution.

  54. 54
    Aratina Cage

    John, I can see you are thick as a brick (willfully or not) on this one and will launch into flat-out denialism (like pretending the creepy pornographic photo of the man dominating the woman didn’t exist in that form on the card) to maintain your immoral position that Elyse should have gotten over it and even been happy to have received the card. Please eat spam.

  55. 55
    John Morales

    Aratina:

    (like pretending the creepy pornographic photo of the man dominating the woman didn’t exist in that form on the card)

    Right.

    Hands on breasts is totally a dominant act.

    … to maintain your immoral position that Elyse should have gotten over it and even been happy to have received the card.

    Really.

    (Care to quote me claiming such?)

  56. 56
    John Morales

    mikee:

    A minority of posters seem to think they wouldn’t mind being handed a card offering sex. Many others find it creepy.

    Some seem to think find it they wouldn’t mind, but many others seem to think find it creepy.

    Uh-huh.

    (Such egalitarianism!)

  57. 57
    John Morales

    Bernard:

    I can’t see how the behaviour described can be thought of as anything other than sexual harassment

    Uh-huh.

  58. 58
    Marvin

    There are places I’m sure were getting such a card would be just dandy, but this was not one of those places. If you want to pass out such cards there are fetish clubs and swingers clubs and such. In these places people are expecting sexual content and perhaps approaches when they go in. Doing this at an unrelated conference IS creepy.

  59. 59
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    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’?

    (You imagine that, were I to receive a gay offer in such a manner, I would find it creepy?)

    John, the first rule of social justice is to listen to the affected person.

    The point where ‘splaining begins is the point where you start dismissing the affected person’s statements just because you, the Privileged Person, would not have reacted that way.

    This is mansplaining. Stop it.

  60. 60
    John Morales

    Setár:

    The point where ‘splaining begins is the point where you start dismissing the affected person’s statements just because you, the Privileged Person, would not have reacted that way.

    You can, presumably, quote me doing such dismissing?

  61. 61
    Marcel Kincaid

    #53 A fair, thoughtful, and intellectually honest assessment, quite unlike most of the raging ideologues here.

  62. 62
    John Morales

    Marcel:

    #53 A fair, thoughtful, and intellectually honest assessment, quite unlike most of the raging ideologues here.

    Uh-huh. Allow me to quote #53: “A minority of posters seem to think they wouldn’t mind being handed a card offering sex. Many others find it creepy.
    Therefore, if this couple insists on handing such cards out to virtual strangers it seems to me they will alienate and offend more people than they manage to get it on with.”

    Is it the argument ad populum or the straw claim (the purported insistence) that’s convinced you that those who disagree with such a characterisation are “raging ideologues”?

  63. 63
    Bernard Hurley

    John, I gave away my books on UK employment law some twelve years ago and I am not familiar with current government or TUC guidelines on the harassment or with case law over the past decade or so. However I have enough familiarity with anti-harassment policies, one of which I negotiated myself, to be virtually certain that such behaviour would normally be considered sexual harassment. Any employer who allowed this sort of behaviour to occur in the workplace would almost certainly be in breach of their duty of care to their employees. I realise that being a speaker at a conference does not involve the usual employer/employee relationship, but I fail to see that the difference is such as to either to warrant a re-definition of the word “harassment” or to diminish the speaker’s right to expect reasonable protection from such harassment.

    I think we can safely ignore what Wikipedia has to say.

  64. 64
    John Morales

    Bernard:

    I think we can safely ignore what Wikipedia has to say.

    Uh-huh. Let’s.

    So, you categorically deny that insistence has no connotations of persistence despite objections?

    Pray elucidate, in what sense is giving someone a card and going away, after which the recipient considers the contents of such a card ‘creepy’ being insistent?

    (I acknowledge that it could be argued to be inappropriate, but I don’t see any insistence)

  65. 65
    Marcel Kincaid

    #62

    You seem to have misread me … the raging ideologues I had in mind are people like Aratina Cage. As for the word “insists” there, in the context of handing out cards, it really should be read as (and I charitably read it as) “persists” … it’s not like they are debating with someone as to whether to hand out cards. And there is no ad populum argument there … the argument was that, if more people find it creepy than not, that more people will be alienated than not … that seems pretty straightforward to me.

  66. 66
    John Morales

    Marcel, fair enough, I misread you.

    And there is no ad populum argument there … the argument was that, if more people find it creepy than not, that more people will be alienated than not … that seems pretty straightforward to me.

    It’s only straightforward if you presume no discrimination in such dissemination; I put it to you that the poly couple took a chance, but misread the situation.

    (Creepy it may have been to some, but to call it ‘harassment’ is… um, well, at best it’s hyperbolic)

  67. 67
    Marcel Kincaid

    I realise that being a speaker at a conference does not involve the usual employer/employee relationship, but I fail to see that the difference is such as to either to warrant a re-definition of the word “harassment” or to diminish the speaker’s right to expect reasonable protection from such harassment.

    Aside from the fact that the case law all pertains to “the usual employer/employee relationship”.

    Any employer who allowed this sort of behaviour to occur in the workplace would almost certainly be in breach of their duty of care to their employees.

    So, if this couple walked into a store and handed a clerk such a card, the clerk could sue the store owner?

    I think we can safely ignore what Wikipedia has to say.

    Right, we should ignore Wikipedia articles with all of their citations of reliable sources, and instead listen to you, regardless of how baseless and stupid your comments are.

  68. 68
    Marcel Kincaid

    I put it to you that the poly couple took a chance, but misread the situation.

    Which seems to me consistent with #53: “Different people have different thresholds when it comes to sexual behaviour, perhaps this couple should have erred on the side of caution.”

    (Creepy it may have been to some, but to call it ‘harassment’ is… um, well, at best it’s hyperbolic)

    #53 didn’t call it harassment or in any way imply that it was harassment; it didn’t even say it was creepy, it only reported that the majority of posters find it to be … and #53 is the only post I referred to, and commended for its lack of raging ideology.

  69. 69
    Eric MacDonald

    How did a red-neck barbarian get into the house? John Morales, really, do you think you’re doing yourselve much good by arguing like an idiot? There are stages in relationship. If Elyse Anders had given the slightest indication that she was interested in sexual relationship, then perhaps a gentle, probing question might have been in order. But she was in a public place as a public speaker. There were no cues to indicate that she was interested in a sexual relationship. The context was wrong to start with, she did not know the persons concerned, friendship or relationship had not been discussed, so there was no reasonable basis for making this kind of crass approach. It was not only unwelcome, it was uninvited. If you can’t see that this kind of approach is not only rude but sexist, then perhaps you should work on your social skills. You may not be a raging ideologue, but to say that you are a boor and a bore would not be far off the mark.

  70. 70
    carlie

    Most places have laws against what is termed “indecent exposure”. Walk up to someone, show them your private parts, and you’ll get arrested. Why? Because it’s a social convention that in public, you do not show someone your genitals, and it’s a strongly-held enough convention that almost everywhere has put the force of the law behind it. We, as social people, have pretty much all decided that at most times, out in public, showing someone else your genitals is at the least really rude, to the point where the majority of people are ok with there being laws against it.

    Seriously, why is this suddenly a primer on “Wait, I shouldn’t just show someone my junk?” That’s like being confused as to why anyone should be upset if you walk into the room and pee on the carpet. Because it’s part of the basic social contract, that’s why.

  71. 71
    John Morales

    Marcel:

    #53 didn’t call it harassment or in any way imply that it was harassment; it didn’t even say it was creepy, it only reported that the majority of posters find it to be … and #53 is the only post I referred to, and commended for its lack of raging ideology.

    Faint praise, that is.

    (Your consequentialist utilitarian perspective is duly noted; such uppity polyamorous people!)

  72. 72
    Forbidden Snowflake

    John:

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

    (I fail to see such an assumption)

    Handing a nude photo of yourself to a stranger requires either assuming that the stranger would welcome the eyeful, or at least allowing the possibility that they would find it unpleasant and not giving a fuck. I don’t see a third option.

    Is it the argument ad populum

    Saying “most people find X creepy, so by doing X to a random stranger you run the risk of creeping them out” is not an argument ad populum, it is a perfectly valid logical inference. Social norms are not truth statements: they are defined by what most people find acceptable.

  73. 73
    Marcel Kincaid

    P.S. John, I don’t necessarily agree that the couple misread the situation or should have erred on the side of caution. I posted a comment, that seems to be held in moderation, linking to online discussions by swingers of how to approach “unicorns” (bisexual women interested in swinging), and suggested that they may have given up on the suggested techniques for engaging with these rare creatures and settled on the common belief (among hetero males; I don’t know if swingers have the same myhtology) that 1 in 25 women will respond to a direct approach … which just means they need to print more cards (and that they are far more concerned with having their erotic adventures than with whether they will thought of as creepy; as swingers, they probably receive a lot of that attitude anyway, and may have become desensitized to the ethical considerations).

  74. 74
    John Morales

    Eric:

    John Morales, really, do you think you’re doing yourselve much good by arguing like an idiot?

    The idiocy of my argumentation is yours to demolish, O wise one.

    It was not only unwelcome, it was uninvited.

    Did I claim otherwise? ;)

    If you can’t see that this kind of approach is not only rude but sexist, then perhaps you should work on your social skills.

    Care to explain to me in what sense this was sexist?

    (You imagine that if the speaker had been a man, this incident would’ve been out of the question?)

    Seriously, why is this suddenly a primer on “Wait, I shouldn’t just show someone my junk?”

    Nice straw dummy.

    (Have at it)

  75. 75
    Marcel Kincaid

    Faint praise, that is.

    Yes, but I gave it more praise than that.

    (Your consequentialist utilitarian perspective is duly noted; such uppity polyamorous people!)

    Again you misread me, but I anticipated that; see #73

  76. 76
    John Morales

    Forbidden Snowflake:

    Handing a nude photo of yourself to a stranger requires either assuming that the stranger would welcome the eyeful, or at least allowing the possibility that they would find it unpleasant and not giving a fuck. I don’t see a third option.

    I told you what I’d imagine my reaction would have been: flattered but uninterested.

    So, that’s a third option, no? ;)

    Saying “most people find X creepy, so by doing X to a random stranger you run the risk of creeping them out” is not an argument ad populum, it is a perfectly valid logical inference.

    You imagine a non-existent dichotomy.

    Social norms are not truth statements: they are defined by what most people find acceptable.

    Nice hand-grenade, there.

    (Most people find Christian ethics acceptable, so that they’re the norms. You happy to comply with them?)

  77. 77
    Marcel Kincaid

    Handing a nude photo of yourself to a stranger requires either assuming that the stranger would welcome the eyeful, or at least allowing the possibility that they would find it unpleasant and not giving a fuck.

    In other words, it requires either assuming that the stranger would welcome it, or not assuming it (and perhaps not caring). So John was right on this score.

    How did a red-neck barbarian get into the house? John Morales, really, do you think you’re doing yourselve much good by arguing like an idiot?

    I guess that sort of comment is considered sophisticated and refined here.

    Good luck with this mob, John. Good night.

  78. 78
    John Morales

    Marcel:

    Again you misread me, but I anticipated that; see #73

    OK.

    @73: “John, I don’t necessarily agree that the couple misread the situation or should have erred on the side of caution.”

    You don’t necessarily agree.

    Gotcha.

    which just means they need to print more cards (and that they are far more concerned with having their erotic adventures than with whether they will thought of as creepy; as swingers, they probably receive a lot of that attitude anyway, and may have become desensitized to the ethical considerations).

    How many cards were handed out, to your knowledge?

    But fine, what they did was creepy and beyond the pale.

    (Could they possibly have transgressed even less discreetly?)

  79. 79
    maureen.brian

    John Morales, you are missing a key fact about this tale.

    At the conference in question there was an explicit and widely publicised anti-harrassment policy in force. It seems that there was an earlier, unrelated incident which was well handled.

    This particular pair of creeps did nothing untoward during the conference itself as far as we know. This incident happened once the conference had ended.

    Can you not come down from your pedestal for a moment and imagine them thinking, “Yippee! The conference is over, the policy no longer applies, and there’s Elyse helping to clear up. Now we can do something really rude and then run away.”

    Dunno about you, mate, but that’s not behaviour to which I’d give a free pass in anyone much over the age of 7.

  80. 80
    Marcel Kincaid

    Just one more:

    So, that’s a third option, no?

    It seems that some people are incapable of imagining that someone could be indifferent to a picture of naked people, even an erotic or “pornographic” (not even Potter Stewart would have thought that) picture. Or they are just wearing ideological blinders.

    Nice hand-grenade, there.

    These ideologues are scary, and oh so hypocritical.

    Over and out.

  81. 81
    John Morales

    maureen,

    John Morales, you are missing a key fact about this tale.

    At the conference in question there was an explicit and widely publicised anti-harrassment policy in force.

    You imagine I haven’t read both the OP and its cited document?

    Dunno about you, mate, but that’s not behaviour to which I’d give a free pass in anyone much over the age of 7.

    You can, of course, quote me as giving it a “free pass”, right?

  82. 82
    Dave

    I dunno about you, OB, but I’m seriously beginning to doubt the wisdom of even attempting to engage with the kind of people who infest the blog-commenting world these days. Perhaps it’s because of the capacity to pass seamlessly from watching porn to typing a comment, but many of them seem to have lost all sense of what might be reasonable boundaries around public interaction.

    Perhaps we need to reinforce the concepts of a secular public space to include the idea of a ‘sex-secular’ space; in which nobody cares what your preferences are, but we’d all rather not have to think about them when we’re trying to think about something else.

    And obviously that will be problematic for people who feel that we haven’t yet gone far enough to make patriarchy not-normal, and their sexual identities are thus always at the centre of discussion. But I think the problems we have here are not with those kinds of people, and they would find a way to engage constructively.

  83. 83
    John Morales

    Dave:

    Perhaps we need to reinforce the concepts of a secular public space to include the idea of a ‘sex-secular’ space…

    Gender identity, gender expression, sexual identity, sexual expression, sexual preference — all the same, no?

    … in which nobody cares what your preferences are, but we’d all rather not have to think about them when we’re trying to think about something else.

    You can’t both not care about something and simultaneously wish to avoid that something.

  84. 84
    Bernard Hurley

    So, if this couple walked into a store and handed a clerk such a card, the clerk could sue the store owner?

    Marcel, maybe you would like to would like to peruse the latest USDAW leaflet on abuse and harassment of shop workers:

    http://www.usdaw.org.uk/adviceresources/resources/numberedleaflets116to376/296abuseisnotpartofthe.aspx

  85. 85
    Dave

    Yes you can; it’s what secularism does with religion. Or do you have a different definition of what that relationship is? It’s even a step up from mere tolerance, where we agree to pretend we don’t care what your preferences are, even though actually deep down we hate and despise them.

  86. 86
    John Morales

    Dave:

    Yes you can [simultaneously not care about something and wish to avoid that something]; it’s what secularism does with religion.

    Seriously?

    You’re really claiming secularism cares not about religion?

    <boggle>

    It’s even a step up from mere tolerance, where we agree to pretend we don’t care what your preferences are, even though actually deep down we hate and despise them.

    There is no such ‘we’.

    (You imagine I would agree to something like that, or that I would hate and despise on such a flimsy basis?)

  87. 87
    John Morales

    Dave:

    Or do you have a different definition of what that relationship [secularism::religion] is?

    Secularism

  88. 88
    John Morales

    [disclaimer]

    I am a member of the Secular Party of Australia, but it ain’t because I don’t care! ;)

  89. 89
    Comradde PhysioProffe

    care to establish your basis for opining

    You imagine a non-existent dichotomy.

    Your consequentialist utilitarian perspective is duly noted

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We’ve got a high-school debate-team champeen in the house!!!!!

    Dude, are you getting a sitffy? Are you gonna shoot a big fat fucken load all over your computer screen if you “win”?

  90. 90
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Dude, are you getting a sitffy? Are you gonna shoot a big fat fucken load all over your computer screen if you “win”?

    There is no ‘sitffy’ nor am I cumming, dude.

    (Your astonishment at my employment of ordinary English is duly noted, O lexically-impaired Prof)

  91. 91
    Comradde PhysioProffe

    Dude, you can win!!!! You can convince people you’re RIGHT!!!! DO ITTE!!!!!!!

  92. 92
    John Morales

    <snicker>

  93. 93
    Marta

    Ok, what am I not getting?

    A pair of strangers hand a woman a card with a naked picture of themselves on it. The woman to whom the card is given has made no indication whatsoever that giving her an item like this would be welcome.

    By any measure of common sense, how has the woman not been, at a minimum, harassed?

    John Morales, this is not your finest hour.

  94. 94
    Graham Martin-Royle

    Er, Yuck!

    Sex is good, sex is fun, group sex is fun. There’s lots of good stuff about sex. I enjoy sex. I can’t say for certain, cos I don’t know the majority of people here, but I guess that most people on here would agree with me that there is nothing wrong with sex. There is a time and a place though for this type of thing.

    Even with friends, even ones that you’ve known for a long time, some things are inappropriate. With some friends you can do certain things that you know you wouldn’t with others. It all depends on the context, the situation, the people involved, etc. etc. etc.

    From this, it is obvious that Elyse didn’t really know this couple that well. That being the case, it was so out of order it’s unbelievable. I think Elyse put it perfectly in the piece quoted above. This isn’t Kevin “Bloody” Wilson, “Do you fuck on first dates” territory (KBW is an Aussie singer/comedian and that’s one of his songs, I’m not providing a link).

  95. 95
    carlie

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

    (I fail to see such an assumption)

    Because there are laws everywhere that determine how much nudity is allowed in the public space. When you are in a public space where nudity is not allowed, you do not expect to see nudity. There is an expectation, in fact, of non-nudity.

  96. 96
    Ophelia Benson

    Argh.

    (Dave is right…but then I didn’t exactly “engage” with this. It arrived.)

  97. 97
    Daniel Fincke

    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 assumption should 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.

  98. 98
    ippy

    “Also sprach the Taliban, I know. The cool right on anti-Taliban thing to do is just say “wanna fuck?” to anyone you consider hot enough to fuck, just in case.”

    That’s actually not true. Taliban and other sexist religious creeps are actually exactly like the “wanna fuck” crowd. In their minds others are just for them to fuck and the whole world would be a giant gangbang orgy if not for the religious police-state. That’s also why groping and sexual assault is such a problem in Egypt and other places like it. The religious way of looking at sex and obsessing with sexuality makes people depraved.
    And of course you find in the “sceptic etc.” community a lot of people who due to religion and other causes never managed a healthy approach to their genitalia and thus think they can live out the Mullahs wet dreams and sick fantasies if only the Mullahs weren’t there. A famous example in cultural history for this cooptation of “without religion everything is permitted” by the anticlerical is the Marquis de Sade.

    The true “anti-Taliban” thing is however exactly to respect each other and not to reduce your neighbour to a sex-object. And to be decent without a supernatural nanny. To develop a healthy and non-obsessive attitude to sex and to come to understand sexuality as one aspect of a person, and not the defining one.

  99. 99
    Ophelia Benson

    Let’s try this. Apparently John Morales does not do empathy, so how about:

    It’s a non-optional social convention.

  100. 100
    Lyanna

    Seriously? SERIOUSLY? People are seriously claiming that it’s always appropriate to proposition people, in any setting? (I suspect commenter “phhht” of being performance art: did he/she/it really make the argument of “Chevy commercials exist, therefore inviting strangers in a professional setting to group sex is okay”?)

    John Morales, if you behave like this in real life you will be fired and ostracized, or even arrested. And you will deserve it. There are spaces where sexual advances are inappropriate. When someone is at a convention in a professional capacity, that is such a setting. Also, don’t chew with your mouth full, and don’t forget to cover your mouth when you sneeze. Try to avoid drooling when you look at women, too. We tend to find that gross.

    People sometimes dating their co-workers doesn’t justify randomly walking up to someone you’ve never spoken to before, who is there in a professional capacity, and inviting them to group sex. People sometimes dating their co-workers is okay if there’s been some build-up in terms of mutual interaction. Randomly asking your co-worker out? Probably a bad idea. Randomly asking a stranger in a professional setting to join you for group sex? Always a bad idea!

    And yes, this is sexist. No, this type of invasive advance would not be likely to happen to a man.

    ippy@98: exactly right. 100% right. Taliban ideology says that a woman existing in public is automatically inviting any and all men to make sexual advances on her. If a woman exists in public, saying or doing anything sexual to her is automatically okay, including violence.

    These “Slimepit” types are similar. The only important difference is that they haven’t (yet!) excused violence. (Not out loud, anyway). But they have excused sexual advances on any woman who exists in public, because her public existence counts as consent to such advances by default.

  101. 101
    Lyanna

    Hahahaha, Ophelia! I approve of quoting Sheldon Cooper!

    Except that Sheldon genuinely probably has Aspergers, and is not a creep hiding behind legions of fools willing to excuse him by imagining he has all sorts of neurological atypical features.

    And you can tell this is true because Sheldon never harasses anyone! Sheldon would never invite anyone to group sex out of the blue. Sheldon would be the first to feel deeply uncomfortable if anyone did that to him!

    Saying “non-optional social protocol” ought to be enough to teach anyone who genuinely wants to do the right thing but doesn’t have an instinctive grasp of social skills.

    It will never be enough for people who could damn well learn if they wanted to, but enjoy harassing others too much to even try.

  102. 102
    Bernard Hurley

    And yes, this is sexist. No, this type of invasive advance would not be likely to happen to a man.

    I don’t think it’s sexist to say this at all; it’s merely an observation of how things are.

  103. 103
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    How you could defend that is beyond me.

    Oh, I don’t know. Is Morale playing on the “easy setting”?

    i can only imagineh he is, since A FUCKING YEAR after Egate and he’s now pretending not to understand what harrassment is. HE’D be FLATTEREd to get such an invitation, so what are you hysterical bitchez complaining about?

  104. 104
    Godless Heathen

    Seconding Yessenia @40.

  105. 105
    Aratina Cage

    the raging ideologues I had in mind are people like Aratina Cage. –Marcel Kincaid

    Not sure how you got that from anything I’ve written here. Where is my raging ideology?

  106. 106
    Aratina Cage

    Good luck with this mob, John. –Marcel Kincaid

    *rolls eyes*
    Ah yes, lone man defends sexism against the PC mobs. News at 11.

  107. 107
    MyaR

    Why does John Morales care so much about creepy people* being free to harass that he makes fully 1/3 of the comments on this post? (35/105, before mine.) It did make it much speedier to read though, since I skipped most of his.

    Regarding the incident happening after the official “end” of the conference, I wonder if this is something generally covered by a harassment policy — it should remain in effect all the way to your car/transport away from the event.

    * I would like to point out that they are not creepy for being swingers (their own term on their card) or even for having a naked picture business card (although that’s kind of hilarious) but for handing it out to someone that they had, at most, a passing acquaintance with, at a time and place that had no explicit expectation of that type of approach.

  108. 108
    Pteryxx

    John Morales hasn’t made arguments, either, except for “I don’t believe you, neener neener”. Just Asking Questions (TM).

  109. 109
    Forbidden Snowflake

    I told you what I’d imagine my reaction would have been: flattered but uninterested.

    So, that’s a third option, no? ;)

    You fail at comprehension.
    I’m not discussing the entire range of potential reactions of the person approached. What I’m talking about is the range of scenarios the person doing the approaching is preparing for. And they either failed to consider the possibility of her being upset by it, or did consider that possibility and decided to go on anyway. This isn’t exactly complicated.

    You imagine a non-existent dichotomy.

    You seem to like making unfounded accusations of committing logical fallacies.

    (Most people find Christian ethics acceptable, so that they’re the norms. You happy to comply with them?)

    What are you babbling about? “Most people” aren’t even Christian. And in a Christian-majority society, one could still go against Christian ethics… but in that case, challenging the commonly-accepted would either be the purpose of their act or a price they are willing to pay to do what is right. You wouldn’t violate the social norm as your first step to establishing intimacy/rapport with someone, expecting it to make them like you, and then whine when people are offended.

    Marcel:

    Good luck with this mob, John.

    “Mob”? By all means, don’t censure yourself. Just call the people objecting to what you say “baboons”. It’s not like you’re fooling anyone.

  110. 110
    Lou Doench

    @Daniel… Thank you. that was epic. You summed that up perfectly. I guess that’s why they pay you the BIG bucks!

  111. 111
    dogeared, spotted and foxed

    Daniel Fincke, that was beautiful. I may be paraphrasing you the next time this topic comes up in conversation.

  112. 112
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    A footnote to the discussion: I am a poly person.

    What the couple did is NOT acceptable to poly communities. Because of the fear of persecution/harassment, you do NOT cold proposition strangers. Being outed as poly can still affect your working and social life, because people tend to think that alternative lifestyles mean you’re skeevy.

    Thank you, asshole couple, for providing another data point in the bad reputation of poly people. :(

  113. 113
    Lyanna

    Bernard Hurley @ 102: yeah, I meant that the behavior described in the post is sexist (the “cold propositioning” for sex). I was unclear.

  114. 114
    Laurence

    I just wanted to say that I really appreciated Daniel Finke’s response.

  115. 115
    Ophelia Benson

    I too appreciated Dan Fincke’s response, and thought I might make it a guest post; those comments have decided the matter.

  116. 116
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    John #60:

    You can, presumably, quote me

    I did. You just ignored it.

  117. 117
    SallyStrange

    Morales, you fucked up. Go home and put on your thinking cap.

    No, scratch that. Put on your empathy hat.

    If you don’t have one, fix that right away!

    For fuck’s sake.

  118. 118
    Dave

    Politeness. Respect. An appreciation of the reasonable boundaries of public interaction. All this, and more, we have lost to the intertubes…

  119. 119
    mikee

    @ Marcel Kincaid, #68

    Thanks for the support

    @ John Morales,#56

    I take your point regarding the inconsistent use of “seem to” and “find”
    Glad it gave you the opportunity for sarcasm.

    Personally if I received such a card from someone I would probably find it a bit weird but not particularly offensive. However, I also recognise that others would find it creepy and/or offensive.

    I am curious as to where and how you draw the line as to what is acceptable behaviour. If the couple had exposed themselves to the speaker would that be acceptable? Or is what is acceptable/moral down to what is considered legal?

  120. 120
    davros

    John Morales, the things you are saying here show you to be a sexist arsehole. Please reconsider your views.

    Just one of many things you have wrong which may not have been fully dealt with upthread:

    Unsolicited, indeed. Unwanted, not-so-much: it was not known to be wanted.

    Whence any claim of pretence?

    (Also, how one makes it known that a sexual invitation is welcome without actually soliciting such is of relevance here, no?)

    This sort of excessively ‘logical’ approach causes so much harm. It may not have been ‘known’ in the sense of 100% sure information, but it was surely obvious that the ‘invitation’ was highly likely to be unwanted.

    In part because it was obviously unwanted, this ‘invitation’ conveys a deeply demeaning attitude toward the recipient – in effect that they ought to be flattered to be attractive enough to get an invite.

  1. 121
    Do you at least agree with the principle? | Butterflies and Wheels

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

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