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Squicked again

Oh good – this just in – another “bitchez need to stfu about all this sexual harassment shit” announcement, from a Dr Marty Klein.

He cleaned up the facts about the harassment to improve his case though. That’s naughty, Dr Marty Klein.

I recently attended the national conference of a large progressive organization. It was well-organized, stimulating, and fun. The people were mostly energetic, interesting, and friendly; it was a good mix of ages, sexual orientations, and divided almost 50/50 male-female.

I was eventually asked, as a sex therapist, what I thought about Sexual Harassment. Apparently a couple at last year’s conference had gotten friendly with a particular woman in her mid-30s. Eventually “Mary & John” handed the woman their card—suggesting quite clearly that they were “open” to “adult activities.”

The woman didn’t want to share this kind of fun, which is perfectly fine. But she was somehow “offended,” which is not.

See where he got the facts wrong? The couple did not “get friendly” with Elyse during the conference, at least not according to her account.

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.

See? That’s different, isn’t it. They didn’t get friendly with her and then “eventually” hand her their card. They came up to her at the very end of the conference, handed her the card face down, and split.

Is it fine for her to be “somehow ‘offended'” at that? What a fucking stupid question. How fucking stupid and unpleasant of this Dr Marty Klein to change Elyse’s account of the incident and then announce that it’s not fine for her to be “offended” in scare quotes – it’s not fine for her to be offended by two total strangers – apart from vague acquaintance on Facebook – sneaking her a card of them naked inviting her to contact them if she wanted to fuck, and then running off.

The name of his blog is Sexual Intelligence. That’s sexual intelligence?

The woman didn’t want to share this kind of fun, which is perfectly fine. But she was somehow “offended,” which is not. In fact, the woman felt that this invitation constituted Sexual Harassment, and she complained. Even worse, this previously loyal movement member then blogged and blogged and blogged about it, urging her female readers to stay away from the organization. Now the word is out to younger progressive women—don’t go to this group’s conferences.

Unless you want strangers slipping you an invitation to fuck and then running away. If you do, by all means go to this group’s conferences! But no, that’s not good enough for Dr Marty Klein – it has to be forbidden for people to blog about such jolly incidents, because to blog about it is disloyal. (And as for blogging and blogging and blogging – there are no words to describe such treason.)

So what did that young woman experience? Not Sexual Harassment, but Unwanted Sexual Attention. And when the woman made it clear it was unwanted, the attention went away. That should have been the end of the story. But if the recipient of a friendly, non-pressuring, non-institutional sexual invitation isn’t grown up enough, she (or he) will feel assaulted. And with today’s heightened consciousness—and internet access—she will have the option of describing herself as victimized to a large number of people.

No, the attention went away before she registered what it was. One could see that as considerate tact, or one could see it as creepy. I think it’s creepy. But in any case – some people (at least, some women) really don’t want to be the recipient even of a friendly, non-pressuring, non-institutional sexual invitation from complete strangers in a work situation. Not as a card with naked people having sex on it, not as a 4 a.m. invitation for coffee in a hotel room. Some crazy women just really want to be able to go places without being asked for sex. Dr Marty Klein apparently thinks that’s nuts. What a creep.

Comments

  1. says

    It’s perfectly fine to say “the fact you are offended does not give you the right to silence me.” It’s perfectly fine to say “the fact that you are offended is not a sufficient step to do this thing/enact this rule/make this change you demand.”

    But saying “it’s wrong that you are offended” is controlling to a disordered and not-normal degree. It represents feeling entitled to a particular subjective reaction from another person. It’s like the people (usually men) who approach complete strangers (usually women) and say words to the effect of “why can’t you smile?”

    Also, anyone who thinks that distributing swinger-calling-cards to complete strangers, unsolicited, is not problematical, but “hav[ing] the option of describing herself as victimized to a large number of people” IS problematical, has an extremely odd approach to freedom of expression.

  2. Robert (SeraphymC) says

    Isn’t grown up enough? Wow that’s incredibly offensive right there.

    All Elyse did was point out their behavior and comment that it was inappropriate (incredibly so). No one suggested criminal actions.

    Additionally, this was a professional environment, and what they did would absolutely have qualified as a “Hostile Environment” in just about any company’s anti-harrasment policy.

  3. Robert (SeraphymC) says

    Shorter version: doing something in public to someone you dont know that would normally get you fired from your job if you did it to a coworker is inappropriate. Don’t do that.

  4. kerfluffle says

    See, if the scenario was totally different, it would have been ok. Like if Elyse actually knew them. Or maybe if the displayed non-speaking wife had invited her to dinner instead.

    If the facts are ignored, it’s easy to see how this is inoffensive.

  5. chigau (違う) says

    from his website:

    … Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Sex Therapist, and sociologist …

    I can’t see who certified him, licensed him or granted his degree.

  6. Z says

    Note that after the couple were contacted by one of the organizers of the event, they offered an apology, saying that “The intention was not sexual, it was comical,…”, i.e. that it was some kind of joke.
    http://skepchick.org/2012/05/sex-and-the-keynote/
    Of course, it is possible, and indeed very likely, that the apology was an inept attempt at saving face. Some of the language in it reads as a classic “nonpology” (“i truly apologize that there was a misinterpretation”, “apologies to anyone who may have been offended”).

    And this part is blatantly false:

    Even worse, this previously loyal movement member then blogged and blogged and blogged about it, urging her female readers to stay away from the organization.

    The conversation about harassment policies was ongoing before that incident. Elyse Anders herself in the same post thanked the organizers for having and enforcing a good harassment policy and said that she was proud to have taken part in the event. So it’s very possible that the clueless blowhard is conflating Anders and Watson.

  7. CT says

    Maybe I’m dumb but unwanted sexual attention and sexual harassment are the same thing, aren’t they?

    The only think I got out of that article was a feeling of nausea.

  8. says

    CT, pretty much yes. In a work situation, absolutely yes. I’d except some social situations, where some unwanted expressions of sexual interest are OK, but only as long as they’re polite, only once, and a polite refusal is accepted without argument. Some people seem to be confusing conferences with social mixers. Not to mention losing track of the “polite” angle. (I’m being excessively polite here by suggesting they’re “confused”, too.)

  9. says

    Yeh even in a social situation I don’t think a furtive card with two naked people and the message “if you want to fuck, call 555 5555″ is all that polite…

  10. kerfluffle says

    ttch, I’m not sure all comments are allowed. I started to post to a desenting reply and the original comment had disappeared.

  11. says

    Yea, I LOL’d at the idea that “It’s not sexual harassment, it’s just unwanted sexual attention!” is a compelling argument, when unwanted sexual attention is the literal definition of sexual harassment.

  12. says

    It’s the essence of a mansplanation. He couldn’t even be arsed to take two seconds to look up the definition of the term he was mansplaining to us about. But surely he’s right – he’s the man in the conversation.

  13. ibelieveindog says

    This idiot may as well be patting us all on the head and calling us little girls.

    He refers to Elyse as a woman in her mid-thirties, then proceeds to call her a “young” woman who “isn’t grown up enough” to understand what’s going on or to keep her big mouth shut and stop influencing the rest of us “younger” women.

    Whaasidjtiiueaghtg blargle?

  14. thephilosophicalprimate says

    Based on other things I’d read by him, I liked Marty Klein — so I felt compelled to dress him down for this. But I don’t know whether my dressing down will survive whatever comment policies they have, so I’ll share here:

    —————–

    Others have pointed out a few of your factual distortions, but I want to provide some more details about the broader distortion this post represents. First, as noted by a few other commenters, your description of this situation bears only tangential resemblance to the situation as described by woman in question, which follows:

    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… 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.

    With no substantial prior conversation that could reasonably constitute your attribution of having “gotten friendly” with this woman, these more-or-less complete strangers explicitly sexually propositioned her. In any workplace in America, this would legally constitute sexual harassment — and for the invited conference speaker, this was a professional working environment, if not exactly a workplace. Thus, the distinction you make in the title of your post doesn’t make a real difference: Unwanted sexual attention — explicit, unsolicited, direct sexual attention; attention whose target has given not the slightest sign of inviting or welcoming in any way — exactly meets the ordinary definition of sexual harassment. The only relevant distinction is that a conference isn’t a workplace as such, which means the sexual harassment LAW doesn’t directly apply. But neither this woman nor anyone else in this conversation has ever said sexual harassment law does apply, or that it should. This isn’t about sexual harassment law, it’s about actual sexual harassment, which isn’t exclusively defined by law.

    You talk about “hostile work environments” while discussing the history of sexual harassment law, but don’t seem to draw the obvious connection: A hostile conference environment is bad for the organization holding the conference, because it gives women attendees a bad experience and lowers women’s attendance. Thus, organizations have good reasons to institute and enforce sexual harassment policies on their own, even though there is no legal requirement for them to do so. As you say, “Sexual Harassment law was never designed to protect women from merely feeling uncomfortable.” Yes, but the discussion to which you are so dishonestly responding was never about sexual harassment law. It’s about having and enforcing sexual harassment policies at conferences, which precisely IS about protecting women from feeling uncomfortable — because some organizations (unlike you, apparently) actually value the presence and participation of women at their conferences, so they want women to feel comfortable attending. And many women — I would dare say most women — do in fact feel uncomfortable when they experience unwanted, uninvited, explicit sexual advances from complete strangers. And their discomfort has a reason.

    Dismissing women who experience sexual harassment as merely “feeling uncomfortable” is misogynistic bullshit. Being subject to persistent, unwelcome, and explicit sexual attention is an all-too-common experience for many women. Women have every right to feel threatened and dehumanized by such treatment because it DOES threaten and dehumanize them: In the overwhelming majority of cases, such as explicit sexual comments and propositions from strange men in the street, threatening and dehumanizing women is exactly what the behavior is *intended* to do. I will grant that the unwanted sexual attention in this situation was not at all threatening in the way that sexual harassment of women in the streets usually is, and that you are right to characterize the invitation as non-pressuring — but it was certainly dehumanizing: “You’re an invited speaker at this conference, here to share your professional expertise, and the context is all about your intellectual and political contributions to the cause of the organization — but instead of approaching you for friendly conversation about any of that, we’d just like to drop off this explicit invitation for sex because we think you’re hot and we’d like to fuck you.” If that’s not dehumanizing, what is? I’m open to sexual adventures and don’t consider such invitations rude or unwanted in any general sense — but given the context, I’d be every bit as offended as she was. Dismissing her reaction as mere prudery or oversensitivity ignores this context entirely.

    Other distortions: The woman in question didn’t “blog and blog and blog” about this incident. She used the incident as an example in an ongoing discussion taking place within an online community about the real and ongoing problem of sexual harassment at conferences, and she cited this case as a *positive* example: She PRAISED the organization in question for having a good sexual harassment policy in place and handling her complaint efficiently and effectively, and she did NOT urge other women to avoid the organization.

    That said, my biggest criticism of your post isn’t about your distortions, nor the not-so-subtle misogyny your distortions clearly demonstrate. It’s about the basic premise of your post: How can you, as a working counseling professional, EVER have the sheer gall to tell someone that they have no right to their feelings or reactions? I quote: “The woman didn’t want to share this kind of fun, which is perfectly fine. But she was somehow “offended,” which is not.”

    It would be legitimate to argue (without distorting the facts, as you did here) that for some reason this incident should not count as sexual harassment under a conference sexual harassment policy. I think such an argument would be mistaken, but it wouldn’t be outrageous to make such an argument. More generally, it would be reasonable to argue that one person’s offense is insufficient reason to restrict another person’s autonomy. In fact, I would strongly agree with this as a general principle. I just think the principle is wrongly applied in this (or any other) sexual harassment situation: Sexual harassment is not merely about actions which “offend,” it’s about a category of actions often taken with the intent of — and almost always having the effect of — undermining women’s autonomy.

    But never mind those arguments you could have made, because what you actually said in your post is that this woman was wrong to even *feel* offended in the first place — which is a ridiculous, pathologically controlling thing for you to say about another human being. At the very least, it’s the sort of thing a professional counselor ought never say about or to anyone, in any context.

  15. says

    Unwanted sexual attention is a subcategory of sexual harassment. The word unwanted is there for a reason. Worse things can happen, and Elyse did not overstate her case. She did not, in fact, say that Unwanted Sexual Attention is The Holocaust.

  16. thephilosophicalprimate says

    To be honest, I actually found his misogyny much more repellent him telling Elyse that she was wrong to even feel offended — and let’s face it, telling a woman how she should feel about something is one of the most common forms misogyny takes, so I can’t separate it out from the rest of his misogynistic bullshit. But I thought it would be more effective to call him out as a counselor for that particular bit: Counselors should NEVER invalidate anyone’s feelings, or tell them that they are wrong for feeling how they feel or reacting how they react. No one should ever do that — it’s rude, and it’s the exact opposite of helpful even when someone genuinely is overreacting to something — but counselors should fucking KNOW BETTER than to do it!

  17. Stacy says

    I went to the Psychology Today article ttch links to at #9 and posted several comments.

    An ERVite is there (I assume: ze’s even brought up a garbled version of elevatorgate. It has to be garbled; the truth doesn’t fit their narrative.)

    I wonder if Klein will admit he got the facts wrong and offer a correction? His disregard for the facts of the matter is disturbing.

    (I heard him speak at CFI-Los Angeles just a few weeks ago. He was so-so.)

  18. ohioobserver says

    As I was getting to know women when I was a young, single man, I figured out that to “get laid” (although that wasn’t what it was, really) was a complex process; you had to meet her through some activity or group that you had in common; you had to spend some non-threatening time with her, usually with mutual friends; eventually it would move to private moments such as coffee after, or maybe (after quite a while) dinner; sometimes a long walk with some talk about each other that we wouldn’t share with just anybody; eventually, sex might be discussed and maybe consummated. Or not; sex wasn’t the sole object of this activity (I believe it was called “dating” or maybe “courtship”) Of course, by that time, you actually liked and cared about her, and she about you (as far as you could tell). Just meeting the lady wasn’t an assumed invitation to jump in the sack. I followed this routine because the women liked it (and I finally figured out that it showed them respect), and never assumed that sex was going to be the inevitable outcome. I had a lot of fun this way, lots of companionship, a little sex now and then, and, finally, a relationship that’s lasted 35 years. I’m not a prude; when a woman made it clear she wanted to move into bed, I was generally happy and willing. But this wasn’t assumed.

    So what does this make me, that I didn’t use “wanna fuck?” as an introductory line? Stupid?

  19. Albert Bakker says

    On a related note, my mommy taught me pretty early that people who insist on being called doctor are usually bad news. I have been suffering a life long case of confirmation bias since then.

  20. Stewart says

    Sorry if this is too much of “the bleeding obvious,” but am I completely out of line for suggesting that knowing someone well enough to broach the subject of having sexual relations with them ought to mean you can do it face to face, as in talking to them about it while making eye contact, rather than handing over a graphically illustrated card with only the reverse side visible? This is what is actually wrong with the whole business. If Elyse had ever indicated she was up for what they wanted, they’d have chatted, arranged to do it, had a great time (or not) and we’d never have known anything about it. It’s the combination of brazen, furtive and uninvited, all in the space of one move, that makes us feel that the couple were trying to get something, somehow sneakily, that they had not been given to understand was on offer.

    And now we’re all being told that objecting to something like that is wrong.

  21. says

    Thanks to the Philosophical Primate for thinking this thing through so thoroughly. It really is troubling to have all these benighted people making such assinine remarks about situations that are full of anxiety for women, and makes it difficult for them to participate as equals in the atheist and nonbelieving community. It is important that organisations and conferences have clear sexual harassment policies. But it is truly disturbing that people like Marty Klein think that they can dismiss women’s concerns so cavalierly. Obviously, not being a woman, he cannot imagine what it is like to receive unwanted sexual attention — which, given the enormously high rate of rape and harassment, is perceived as quite threatening. As a counsellor he gets a failing grade. The man needs to go back to school. Thanks to my favourite philosophical primate — and to Ophelia, for not letting this problem simply sink into the past unnoticed.

  22. says

    Even worse, this previously loyal movement member then blogged and blogged and blogged about it, urging her female readers to stay away from the organization.

    Where I come from that’s called a lie.
    Because quite a part of the post was about how excellently the organisation handled a previous complain and how well they followed her complaint up.
    But that somehow doesn’t fit the narrative.

  23. says

    Great comment, G. It hasn’t been deleted over there. I’ll probably put it on the front page here.

    I should have said in the post that he also told a falsehood in saying Elyse “urg[ed]her female readers to stay away from the organization.”

    This shit is sustained and deliberate – it’s a sustained deliberate campaign to bully certain women out of the public sphere, by telling lies about them, threatening them, degrading them, and just plain ordering them to get out of the public sphere. It’s a fucking scandal.

  24. Kathy says

    I sent him an email via his website telling him how dissapointed I am that – in deliberately conflating several incidents into one narrative – he has completely minimised a very real problem.

    I closed by asking him to please not be part of the problem. I wonder if I’ll get a reply.

  25. polanski says

    All Elyse did was point out their behavior and comment that it was inappropriate (incredibly so). No one suggested criminal actions.

    Sexual harassment is a crime, if what happened constitutes sexual harassment, then these people should be criminally punished.


    Additionally, this was a professional environment, and what they did would absolutely have qualified as a “Hostile Environment” in just about any company’s anti-harrasment policy.

    The reason workplaces are relevant to the notion of sexual harassment is because there is a power dynamic. If your boss starts hitting on you, there is always the threat that rejection could cost your job or other other opportunities. There is the threat of coercion there. THAT is a “hostile environment”.

    Giving someone a card, and leaving before the response is completely “not hostile”. In fact, as horribly tactless as the whole thing was, the fact that they did not stick around for an answer made rejection easy and in no way awkward. The fact that they waited for the very end made it unlikely in the event of a rejection, that there would be any accidental encounters. Rejection was as simple as not calling the number. That is really amazingly not hostile.

    It’s like the complete opposite of elevator guy, (except being for the most part, a stranger). There was no enclosed space, there was no interpersonal awkwardness or in any way the possibility of violence or force.


    Yea, I LOL’d at the idea that “It’s not sexual harassment, it’s just unwanted sexual attention!” is a compelling argument, when unwanted sexual attention is the literal definition of sexual harassment.

    No it’s not, please look up the definition.

    If you were correct, however. Any and every sexual advancement that ended in rejection, however close the two(or three) might be, would by the act of reject mean it was “unwanted”. So any guy who has ever hit on a girl at a conference and was rejected, should also be thrown out. Every guy who has ever made a sexual advance that was rejected should have criminal proceedings brought against them. Because sexual harassment is serious, and it is a crime.


    It’s the essence of a mansplanation. He couldn’t even be arsed to take two seconds to look up the definition of the term he was mansplaining to us about. But surely he’s right – he’s the man in the conversation.

    Again, it really seems like you haven’t looked up the definition yourself a single advance is not harassment. There was no intimidation, or coercion, or torment. A sexual advance that has previously been made clear to be unwanted may constitute, but that is very different. Go ahead and invoke his gender though, gender is what makes someones argument credible/not credible :\

  26. Pierce R. Butler says

    … a card with naked people having sex on it…

    ??? From the description given by the recipient, and other blog posts I’ve read about this incident, the card featured “a naked photo of the two of them” (which I think means “a photo of the two of them, naked”, though the photo itself probably wasn’t wearing any clothes either).

    Where did the “having sex” part come from?

  27. Miki Z says

    Sexual harassment is a crime, if what happened constitutes sexual harassment, then these people should be criminally punished.

    Where? I am not a lawyer, but it’s my understanding that even in the workplace, harassment is a civil issue, not a criminal one. Kudos to you for changing the facts to fit your argument, the way that Ophelia suggests we all do.

    Giving someone a card, and leaving before the response is completely “not hostile”.

    You know what would have been maybe even less hostile, then? They could have just shown her, live, right there — that way, she wouldn’t even have to deal with the card. As long as they leave before the response, the action is irrelevant, right?

  28. Stewart says

    “They could have just shown her, live, right there — that way, she wouldn’t even have to deal with the card.”

    What, with their contact details tattooed on their bodies?

  29. says

    [polanski]: Sexual harassment is a crime, if what happened constitutes sexual harassment, then these people should be criminally punished.

    You’ve conflated the legal and practical definitions of harassment here. Yes, harassment of any sort is a crime in most jurisdictions if it meets the criteria used in that jurisdiction and the authorities take it seriously enough to prosecute. However, the legal process nearly always requires evidence that is rarely ever available in the vast majority of actual harassment cases. This is why the practical definition of harassment is different than “a crime has been committed”.

    Elyse never claimed to be the victim of a crime, so your interpretation comes off as disingenuous at best.

  30. Stewart says

    “Of course. A QR code temporary tattoo is perfect for this.”

    Wouldn’t it have to be motionless?

  31. Happiestsadist says

    I like that the guy defending sexual harassers here has taken his pseudonym from someone known for drugging and violating a child. Says it all.

  32. Stacy says

    OK, I have to weigh in here–I saw the card in question.

    No, they weren’t having sex. They were technically naked, but he was covering her breasts with her hands.

    I agree that it wasn’t sexual harassment. Had I been the recipient, I might have laughed, or rolled my eyes. On the other hand, had I and my colleagues already been on the receiving end of interweb harassment for months at the time of the incident, I might have felt differently.

    In any case, I am not Elyse.

    It was unprofessional and it made Elyse feel as though she’d been reduced to a sex object, and she had every right to discuss the incident on her blog. She did not “blog and blog and blog” about it.

    What I object to is Marty Klein’s egregious misrepresentation of what happened. He could have posted a link to Elyse’s blog, so people could compare what he claimed she said to what she actually said, but, of course, he didn’t.

  33. says

    Hostile work environment definitely does not mean just the boss asking for sex. It’s about what co-workers do, too – naked pictures on lockers, “banter,” playing tricks, all that kind of thing.

  34. Stacy says

    Fancy that; I’m speaking there in November

    So glad to hear that. I’m a regular volunteer. I look forward to meeting you. And now I have no reason to be sorry I’ll miss TAM this year.

  35. polanski says

    I like that the guy defending sexual harassers here has taken his pseudonym from someone known for drugging and violating a child. Says it all.

    That is my actual last name, you dickhead.

    Where? I am not a lawyer, but it’s my understanding that even in the workplace, harassment is a civil issue, not a criminal one. Kudos to you for changing the facts to fit your argument, the way that Ophelia suggests we all do.

    No, i was simply mistaken and I will admit that. kudos for thinking the worst. I am associated with someone known for drugging and violating a child after all.

    You know what would have been maybe even less hostile, then? They could have just shown her, live, right there — that way, she wouldn’t even have to deal with the card. As long as they leave before the response, the action is irrelevant, right?

    Did you read my post? That is completely the opposite. She didn’t have to deal with them being there at all, having two people randomly strip for you in public would be extremely awkward. If you see something in the card objectionable, you do have the option to turn it away and tear it up. People taking off their clothes in front of you is so amazingly different, this is just a really really bad analogy.

    You’ve conflated the legal and practical definitions of harassment here. Yes, harassment of any sort is a crime in most jurisdictions if it meets the criteria used in that jurisdiction and the authorities take it seriously enough to prosecute. However, the legal process nearly always requires evidence that is rarely ever available in the vast majority of actual harassment cases. This is why the practical definition of harassment is different than “a crime has been committed”.

    You are correct, i was mistaken. She did however have some amazing evidence. A card with pictures of the harassers, along with contact information and biometric data.


    Hostile work environment definitely does not mean just the boss asking for sex. It’s about what co-workers do, too – naked pictures on lockers, “banter,” playing tricks, all that kind of thing.

    Correct, i was giving one example, this is very different though, these were no co-workers, it is entirely possible that she will not encounter these people again. A workplace like that would be a hostile environment, especially since you have to keep returning and keep interacting with those people.

  36. Stewart says

    polanski has a point. If two people take their clothes off in front of you, you can’t just tear them up as if they were Bernard Cribbins’ omelette in the “Hotel Inspectors” episode of “Fawlty Towers.”

  37. yahweh says

    It’s certainly true that “Hostile work environment definitely does not mean just the boss asking for sex. It’s about what co-workers do, too – naked pictures on lockers, “banter,” playing tricks, all that kind of thing.”

    I’ve worked for most of my career in the City of London and, if you take every story of sexual discrimination and harassment you hear there at face value and believe it uncritically, you will probably not be far from the truth. It’s pretty bad. You can almost guarantee that any woman in that environment is firstly very competent and secondly very able to look after herself.

    So maybe I am somewhat inured to all this, but I do think that people here are expecting a level of comfort which no-one really gets after leaving the womb.

    These atheist conventions are packed with some of the tamest, mildest men you will find outside of a convocation of Anglican priests. And more inclined to repent of their sins.

    So Elyse Anders was propositioned – and by a couple – and was given a picture of them naked. Maybe not a life enhancing experience but sheesh – it’s not THAT bad. Worse happens to us all. Do you really want to be so wrapped in cotton wool?

  38. julian says

    Maybe not a life enhancing experience but sheesh – it’s not THAT bad. Worse happens to us all. Do you really want to be so wrapped in cotton wool?

    You are an ass.

    She did not make a big deal out of it. She complained and said she didn’t want it to happen again. She said that to them and they apologized.

    Fuck you, you self gratifying asshat.

  39. julian says

    again, fuck you. Asking not to be handed nude photos of people is not trying to find a comfort level equivalent to being in the womb. That’s incredibly basic as most anti-sexual harassment policies reflect. I understand being an ass you’re prone to hyperbole as a way to dismiss people you view contemptuously but your comment is beyond condescending and incredibly moronic.

  40. says

    Sigh.

    Mr Jehovah, what do you mean “sheesh – it’s not THAT bad”? Not WHAT bad? What number did anyone put on it?

    And what do you mean “so wrapped in cotton wool?” What wrapped in cotton wool? How wrapped in cotton wool am I?

    I think I can explain how wrapped in cotton wool I want to be. Wrapped enough to think women are welcome at conferences to talk and discuss.

    That’s it really. It doesn’t seem like much to me. Is that so wrapped in cotton wool?

    I don’t want to think women are there primarily to be of sexual interest, because in that case I won’t be there at all, or if I am I’ll be made to feel superfluous and in the way, and also because women who will be there will be made to feel their ability to talk and discuss is beside the point. At conferences.

    Do you think that’s asking a lot? If so, can you explain why? Saying things are worse in the city isn’t an explanation.

  41. julian says

    Ok, I’m going to apologize for my tone and the insults. Sorry, yahweh, but I’m finding my patience gone lately. That’s no excuse to take it out on you.

    I still think your comment was condescending and dismissive and that you grossly underplay what would qualify as harassment.

  42. says

    A sexual advance that has previously been made clear to be unwanted may constitute [sexual harassment], but that is very different.

    So your theory of sexual harassment entitles you to one freebee per person, eh?

    This is the problem. You apparently think the onus is on the rest of us to seek you out and inform you in advance that future sexual advances are unwelcome, rather than the responsibility resting on you to find out whether your sexual advances would be welcome to a specific woman before making any sexual advances.

    This is why there is a harassment problem at conferences.

    If every man in attendance thinks that he gets to harass every single woman at least once with the excuse that boils down to, “She didn’t say no!” then guess what that means for women at conferences?

    It rhymes with ape vulture.

  43. polanski says

    So your theory of sexual harassment entitles you to one freebee per person, eh?

    Not my theory of ‘sexual harassment’ just the basic definition of harassment.

    This is the problem. You apparently think the onus is on the rest of us to seek you out and inform you in advance that future sexual advances are unwelcome, rather than the responsibility resting on you to find out whether your sexual advances would be welcome to a specific woman before making any sexual advances.

    You can’t find out until you ask. There are many situations, from two people chatting at a bar, to very close friends sitting alone at a beach, who may have previously thought they were on the same page, until one of them makes an advance. If rejection occurs, then that advance is by definition unwanted. And if we were to go by your definition of sexual harassment, then at any point whenever a man(or a woman) makes a sexual advance that is rejected, then they have committed sexual harassment.

    Which is obviously absurd. Because if it were true, then everyone should fear making a move on anyone else, no matter how close they are, because they might end up as a ‘sexual-harass-er’.

    If every man in attendance thinks that he gets to harass every single woman at least once with the excuse that boils down to, “She didn’t say no!” then guess what that means for women at conferences?

    Such a thing is unlikely to happen, you seem to be portraying all men as sex crazed maniacs who would actually proposition every person of the opposite gender in sight if given the chance, you seem out of touch. an advance is a testing of the waters, when someone is interested in another. The vast majority of people understand “no means no” and further attempts would constitute harassment.

    It rhymes with ape vulture.
    Great way to minimise and play down the experiences of actual victims of rape.

    I wonder if i should ask my wife if she wants to have sex tonight. If she doesn’t want to though, that could mean I have engaged in sexual harassment…

  44. yahweh says

    Ophelia, Where does the “primarily” come from?

    Are you saying this is pervasive behaviour at these cons? Common, perhaps? Frequent? Too frequent?

    Or are you saying that once is once too many?

    Are you tarring everyone with the same brush?

  45. yahweh says

    I thought they were rhetorical questions but here goes.

    Q: Not WHAT bad? What number did anyone put on it?

    A: What I was saying is that I find it hard to believe these conferences can be as hostile, threatening or unwelcoming as you are saying.

    I’ve never been to one so I’m open to correction as I’ve seen some pretty dreadful behaviour over the years, I know how some men can treat women, but this incident is tame stuff.

    I also know you receive vitriolic email and comment – there’s no shortage of vitriol. It can’t be nice and maybe your afraid that these creeps will show up in the real world. And maybe they will – I think Jessica Alquist is pretty brave and I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes. But atheists at atheist conferences? I find it hard to believe.

    Q: Do I think it’s too much wanting to think women are welcome at conferences to talk and discuss?

    A: I think they are. There are some pretty damned good women advocates for atheism. I don’t believe I’m alone in thinking this or in the minority.

    Finally, I think my questions stands, whether it’s answered or not. Where did the ‘primarily’ come from?

  46. says

    Why on earth did you think they were rhetorical questions? Your comment was full of loose unexplained claims; the questions were intended to get you to clarify them. There’s nothing rhetorical about that.

    A: What I was saying is that I find it hard to believe these conferences can be as hostile, threatening or unwelcoming as you are saying.

    How hostile, threatening or unwelcoming is that? What have I said about conferences being hostile, threatening or unwelcoming? I don’t think I’ve said anything about that. The only conferences I’ve been to so far have been very friendly and welcoming and not at all threatening.

    I have said that various people and incidents have been making me feel unwelcome at one future conference, but that’s not the same thing. You’re not confusing that with generalizing about all conferences are you?

    I also know you receive vitriolic email and comment – there’s no shortage of vitriol…But atheists at atheist conferences? I find it hard to believe.

    Are you kidding?

    The vitriolic email and comments I get come from atheists.

  47. says

    polanski

    You can’t find out until you ask. There are many situations, from two people chatting at a bar, to very close friends sitting alone at a beach, who may have previously thought they were on the same page, until one of them makes an advance.

    You know what’s in those two scenarios you mention? People actually communicating. People who might have a reasonable expectation that their advances are welcome. Still they might fuck up, happens. Yet that situation is remarkably different from anything described in the OP

    Such a thing is unlikely to happen, you seem to be portraying all men as sex crazed maniacs who would actually proposition every person of the opposite gender in sight if given the chance, you seem out of touch.

    Interesting that you first defend the right of men to do so and then claim that only sex crazed maniacs would do such a thing…

    The vast majority of people understand “no means no” and further attempts would constitute harassment.

    Which means that if you can acctually predict that the answer to the question will be no and do so anyway you’re actually harassing somebody.
    What do you think, how many people would say “yes, please” if you asked them out of the blue whether you can hand them your fuck-card with your nekked picture (always given that we’re outside of place and situation where that is the norm)?
    How many women would answer the question “like to fuck with me” with yes if that’s more or less the first thing you ever say to them?
    How many women would allow you to invade their personal space if you asked them for permission?

    Great way to minimise and play down the experiences of actual victims of rape.

    Ignoramus mayor.
    Rape culture is actually a well-defined term that describes this whole situation in which the onus is put on women and the victims to avoid rape, abuse and harassment. Actually I’ve seen it discussed and used most by actual rape survivors who violently battle this culture.

    I wonder if i should ask my wife if she wants to have sex tonight. If she doesn’t want to though, that could mean I have engaged in sexual harassment…

    Fucking stupid.
    But tell me, if your wife complains all evening about being tired, and not feeling well, and really wanting to go to bed early (and not in the “oooh, I have such a headache, I really want to go to bed *wink wink* way), do you think it would be inappropriate and an asshole move to ask her for fucking?

  48. yahweh says

    “I don’t want to think women are there primarily to be of sexual interest, because in that case I won’t be there at all, or if I am I’ll be made to feel superfluous and in the way, and also because women who will be there will be made to feel their ability to talk and discuss is beside the point. At conferences.”

    “What have I said about conferences being hostile, threatening or unwelcoming? I don’t think I’ve said anything about that. The only conferences I’ve been to so far have been very friendly and welcoming and not at all threatening.”

    You may pour scorn on my confusion, but you are not exactly making yourself clear here.

  49. dogeared, spotted and foxed says

    polanski @57

    The vast majority of people understand “no means no” and further attempts would constitute harassment.

    This particular get “out of jail free” card keeps coming up. It assumes that all advances are made in good faith and that verbal communication is the only option. It is used to justify the numbers game (ask enough people and you might get lucky) which a tactic designed to insult the greatest number of people for the most minimal gain.

    People are not blank screens. Non-verbal communication is part of the repertoire. If there are no signals, verbal or otherwise, that a party is interested the “no” has already been said. Pushing to get a verbal “no” is ignoring stated boundaries. It is the further attempt that constitutes harassment. A sexual advance made before there are any signals of interest, verbal or otherwise, is not made in good faith.

    And no, awkward people don’t get a pass. If they have no talent for reading non-verbal language, they should either learn it or learn some type of communication skill which will reduce the discomfort they may cause. No matter how inadvertent.

    Just for the record, it is possible to harass or even rape your wife. Marriage does not negate her boundaries.

  50. Polanski says

    You know what’s in those two scenarios you mention? People actually communicating. People who might have a reasonable expectation that their advances are welcome. Still they might fuck up, happens. Yet that situation is remarkably different from anything described in the OP

    That is fine, I was addressing the previous comment that “unwanted sexual interest = sexual harassment” Which is an amazingly stupid simplification. you proceeded to attack me through the rest of the post based on different standards to what I was addressing.

    Interesting that you first defend the right of men to do so and then claim that only sex crazed maniacs would do such a thing.

    There are a lot of things in life like this, where we are given the freedom with the trust that it will not be taken advantage of ad infinitum. Because the alternative is a totalitarian set of rules that would regulate and restrict what reasonable adults can do between themselves. That’s what is cool about being a grown up.

    Which means that if you can acctually predict that the answer to the question will be no and do so anyway you’re actually harassing somebody.

    How high do the odds have to be before it’s harassment? 50%, 70%?

    How many women would allow you to invade their personal space if you asked them for permission?

    all of the ones who say yes.

    Fucking stupid.
    But tell me, if your wife complains all evening about being tired, and not feeling well, and really wanting to go to bed early (and not in the “oooh, I have such a headache, I really want to go to bed *wink wink* way), do you think it would be inappropriate and an asshole move to ask her for fucking?

    Again you are addressing my post under different conditions to the post i was addressing. I noticed however you left out the specific term “sexual harassment”

    Should we have a policy against “being an asshole”?

    People are not blank screens. Non-verbal communication is part of the repertoire. If there are no signals, verbal or otherwise, that a party is interested the “no” has already been said.

    Now you are making decisions for other people. You yourself are setting the standard by which other people wish to engage in interaction. There have been women comment ON THESE BLOGS, that you do not speak for them, you have NO RIGHT to speak for them, and if someone wants to come up and ask them for sex, the answer will not always be yes, but you are welcome to ask.

    Just for the record, it is possible to harass or even rape your wife. Marriage does not negate her boundaries.

    Thanks for the Protip relationship lesson, I’ll let my wife know this too.

    Interestingly enough, in a conversation with my wife about “surprise morning sex”, i was told by here “it is impossible for you to rape me”. She was not referring to me being unable to physically overpower her, just that in our relationship she would not consider any sexual encounter as rape.

    So again, you can not speak for everyone (not saying you were specifically in that last comment). But don’t think that everyone’s standard is your own to dictate.

  51. says

    You know what’s in those two scenarios you mention? People actually communicating. People who might have a reasonable expectation that their advances are welcome. Still they might fuck up, happens. Yet that situation is remarkably different from anything described in the OP

    That is fine, I was addressing the previous comment that “unwanted sexual interest = sexual harassment” Which is an amazingly stupid simplification. you proceeded to attack me through the rest of the post based on different standards to what I was addressing.

    Why is it a stupid simplification? Unwanted sexual interest is indeed a key component of most definitions of sexual harassment. Subsequent attacks, while irritating to you, are not germane to that fact.

    Interesting that you first defend the right of men to do so and then claim that only sex crazed maniacs would do such a thing.

    There are a lot of things in life like this, where we are given the freedom with the trust that it will not be taken advantage of ad infinitum. Because the alternative is a totalitarian set of rules that would regulate and restrict what reasonable adults can do between themselves. That’s what is cool about being a grown up.

    Totalitarian? Dude, what? Totalitarian is expecting people to restrict requests for sex to forums and social scenes where such requests are accepted and exptected? Paging George Orwell. You’re ridiculous.

    Which means that if you can acctually predict that the answer to the question will be no and do so anyway you’re actually harassing somebody.

    How high do the odds have to be before it’s harassment? 50%, 70%?

    If you’re spamming people with whom you’ve had zero personal interaction prior to the request for sex then it’s definitely harassment, even at a conference for swingers or a sex club.

    How many women would allow you to invade their personal space if you asked them for permission?

    all of the ones who say yes.

    This makes you sound pretty creepy.

    Fucking stupid.
    But tell me, if your wife complains all evening about being tired, and not feeling well, and really wanting to go to bed early (and not in the “oooh, I have such a headache, I really want to go to bed *wink wink* way), do you think it would be inappropriate and an asshole move to ask her for fucking?

    Again you are addressing my post under different conditions to the post i was addressing. I noticed however you left out the specific term “sexual harassment”

    Should we have a policy against “being an asshole”?

    Whyever not? That is what anti-harassment policies basically amount to, n’est-ce pas? Is there something about assholery that particularly attracts you?

    People are not blank screens. Non-verbal communication is part of the repertoire. If there are no signals, verbal or otherwise, that a party is interested the “no” has already been said.

    Now you are making decisions for other people. You yourself are setting the standard by which other people wish to engage in interaction. There have been women comment ON THESE BLOGS, that you do not speak for them, you have NO RIGHT to speak for them, and if someone wants to come up and ask them for sex, the answer will not always be yes, but you are welcome to ask.

    You’re stupid. Those women who welcome nonstop sexual advances and objectification are perfectly capable of using nonverbal communication to indicate their interest as well. As a woman who has recently used such nonverbal signals to secure some sexytimes with a guy I just met, I resent your implication that women like me have a problem with men treating other women according to a sort of lowest common denominator of respect. I often want sex, but I am not into having every single man I meet pose the question.

    Just for the record, it is possible to harass or even rape your wife. Marriage does not negate her boundaries.

    Thanks for the Protip relationship lesson, I’ll let my wife know this too.

    Interestingly enough, in a conversation with my wife about “surprise morning sex”, i was told by here “it is impossible for you to rape me”. She was not referring to me being unable to physically overpower her, just that in our relationship she would not consider any sexual encounter as rape.

    So if the next time your wife said, “I’m not in the mood,” and you then beat her and tied her up and had sex with her anyway, would that not be rape? Idiot. That includes your wife, too, though her idiocy may be born of simple ignorance.

    So again, you can not speak for everyone (not saying you were specifically in that last comment). But don’t think that everyone’s standard is your own to dictate.

    There’s a basic minimum of decent behavior I would like to see at conferences, and indeed in any public or professional setting I’m at. That this doesn’t always happen doesn’t mean it isn’t an ideal worth striving towards.

  52. dirigible says

    “Sorry about the grammatical errors and broken formatting. You get the idea though.”

    Yes. You’re a misogynistic creep with a dubious nym.

  53. says

    Wow, I think my creep-o-meter exploded

    That is fine, I was addressing the previous comment that “unwanted sexual interest = sexual harassment” Which is an amazingly stupid simplification. you proceeded to attack me through the rest of the post based on different standards to what I was addressing.

    No, you were moving goalposts faster than lightning.
    You were moving the goalposts to “friends sitting on a beach”. Unwanted sexual interest the way it was discussed here all the time is harassment because there’s absolutely zilch indication that it would be welcome.
    Your “friends at a beach” is what’s called a mistake and you know what: a mistake still means that somebody did something wrong they shouldn’t have done. It still means that they’re inflicting pain on an another being. It still means that they have to take the responsibility and carry the consquences (like said friend breaking up the friendship).

    There are a lot of things in life like this, where we are given the freedom with the trust that it will not be taken advantage of ad infinitum. Because the alternative is a totalitarian set of rules that would regulate and restrict what reasonable adults can do between themselves. That’s what is cool about being a grown up.

    No, that’s actually what children do: they push and push and push until somebody yells at them to knock it off. Adults are given freedoms because they’re trusted to think before they act and weigh the possible risks against the possible benefits. People who are not assholes understand that if the benefits are mostly on your side and the risks mostly on the side of other people that you shouldn’t do that because you’re making the decision
    to take a risk for somebody else. People who are not misogynists understand that women fall under the category of people.
    BTW, talking about numbers, since you’re so keen on them, how many men do I have to endure cold-propositioning to me until I’m allowed to say I’m being harassed and mad e feel unsafe? And if each one of them only cold-propositioned to me, are they all free of blame? Or is it only the last one? Do they share X% of the blame or do I just have to STFU and be a good girl?

    How high do the odds have to be before it’s harassment? 50%, 70%?

    See above. You’re not justified in deciding that somebody else has to take a risk. Especially since there are good and perfectly acceptable ways to narrow down that risk, like getting to know somebody.

    all of the ones who say yes.

    Creepy dude is creepy.
    So, you think that your chances of finding the one woman who will allow you so is justification enough for creeping all the others out. Which shows again that you actually don’t care about anybody except yourself.

    Again you are addressing my post under different conditions to the post i was addressing. I noticed however you left out the specific term “sexual harassment”

    Should we have a policy against “being an asshole”?

    Yep, that’s usually what codes of conduct and harassment policies are about: recognizing that although something might be legal it is not acceptable among decent human beings. We make those loilicies all the time, from official codes of conduct to just not calling you again for having a beer because you’re a misogynist creep.
    Oh, and just because I used the term “asshole move” it doesn’t mean it was not sexual harassment.

    Thanks for the Protip relationship lesson, I’ll let my wife know this too.

    Interestingly enough, in a conversation with my wife about “surprise morning sex”, i was told by here “it is impossible for you to rape me”. She was not referring to me being unable to physically overpower her, just that in our relationship she would not consider any sexual encounter as rape.

    *yuck* That’s disgusting.
    You really come off as somebody who doesn’t look for people’s boundaries and is interested in respecting them, but as somebody who tries to push while shutting the victim up in the meantime.
    I’m glad you married the ultimate unrapeable Chill Girl™ because that might make life a bit safer for the rest of us.
    As for her, maybe she’s just naive. You couldn’t rape her, not at 3am while she is asleep? Not after she wakes up and tells you to stop?
    No, you definetly look like one of those guys who makes somebody afraid of saying “no” and then claims that everything was right because she didn’t say “no”.
    On the other hand I’ve met too many women whom it took years to understand that they were actually raped, that what happened to them was a horrible crime because by not calling it rape all those years they kept up their protections and survived.
    “Surprise morning sex”?
    I’ve never seen anybody use that term in good faith.

  54. Lyanna says

    Philosophical Primate: awesome post.

    It’s amazing how people play dumb about basic social conventions that everyone takes for granted, and without which society wouldn’t function, when it comes to sexual harassment.

    So Elyse Anders was propositioned – and by a couple – and was given a picture of them naked. Maybe not a life enhancing experience but sheesh – it’s not THAT bad. Worse happens to us all. Do you really want to be so wrapped in cotton wool?

    Oh good grief–the “starving children in Somalia” brush-off.

    Hey, Yahweh, so a woman complained about being inappropriately propositioned, and her complaint annoyed you. So what? It’s not THAT bad. Worse happens to us all. So shut up and go away. If it’s so insignificant, then leave us alone and stop wasting your time.

    You know what else isn’t the end of the world? People talking loudly on their cell phones in subways and trains. People cutting ahead of me in lines for grocery check-out. People standing still on the wrong side of the escalator. People picking their noses in public.

    Yet, if I complain about any of these things, I get expressions of sympathy. People share my disgust at the lack of manners, even though in most cases the rudeness is unintentional.

    But when it comes to sexual harassment, where the rudeness is 100% intentional, people suddenly start up the “it’s not the apocalypse so why are you whining?” chorus.

    There are worse things in the world–rape, murder, torture–but persistent sexual harassment is awful and needs to stop.

    And stop pretending like it’s just one instance. The problem is that it’s frequent and pervasive. Any one instance can be dismissed as “not a big deal,” but when you’re constantly treated like this, it becomes a big deal. There are bigger deals, but this is big.

    Polanski: do you really not understand the difference between two friends on a beach and a speaker at an atheist conference?

    I think you do. For one thing, I think you wouldn’t wear a speedo to an atheist conference. I know I wouldn’t wear a bikini to one. I think you also understand the difference between a conversation that leads to a request for a date, and an explicit infliction of nudity out of the blue. I think you’re playing dumb.

    And you probably shouldn’t take your wife’s statement that it’s impossible for you to rape her too seriously. It’s legally incorrect. You still have the obligation to respect any refusals on her part. Does your wife really think you can smack her around and drag her to the bed while she screams in protest?

  55. says

    Polanski:

    The vast majority of people understand “no means no”

    Of course they do, but pretending otherwise is useful.

    You yourself are setting the standard by which other people wish to engage in interaction.

    Yeah, how dare I set the standards by which I want to be treated.

    Should we have a policy against “being an asshole”?

    That’s what most codes of conduct boil down to.

    Interestingly enough, in a conversation with my wife about “surprise morning sex”, i was told by here “it is impossible for you to rape me”.

    And, of course, your wife gets to speak for all women. While you chide Giliell for supposedly speaking for all women.

    Giliell:

    You really come off as somebody who doesn’t look for people’s boundaries and is interested in respecting them, but as somebody who tries to push while shutting the victim up in the meantime.

    Indeed. A rape rules-lawyer.

  56. says

    It rhymes with ape vulture.

    Great way to minimise and play down the experiences of actual victims of rape.

    If only I had a nickel for every dude who appointed himself defender of Actual Victims of Rape ™.

    It’s like it’s never crossed their fucking mind that they might be talking to one.

    I guess I ought to be hiding in a closet somewhere, weeping, a ruined pile of damaged goods who is too traumatized to ever leave the house or express an opinion ever again.

  57. yahweh says

    I said
    “Ophelia, Where does the “primarily” come from?

    Are you saying this is pervasive behaviour at these cons? Common, perhaps? Frequent? Too frequent?

    Or are you saying that once is once too many?

    Are you tarring everyone with the same brush?”

    No answer from Ophelia but Lyanna, you said
    “And stop pretending like it’s just one instance. The problem is that it’s frequent and pervasive. Any one instance can be dismissed as “not a big deal,” but when you’re constantly treated like this, it becomes a big deal. There are bigger deals, but this is big. ”

    So I suppose that could constitute an answer – yes they are frequent and pervasive – except that the my question was specifically about atheist conferences. I made it perfectly plain that I know how difficult other environments can be.

    I also said I’d never been to an antheist conference myself and Ophelia chided me that the only ones she’d been to were friendly and welcoming.

    Which is the whole point really. Because if these cons are OK, all this fury is misdirected.

  58. says

    Which is the whole point really. Because if these cons are OK, all this fury is misdirected.

    Oh fuck, Yahweh, the world is not OK. The world is not an OK place for women. The world is a place where many women are glad if they can close the door after themselves in the evening and those are the lucky ones where the home is actually a safer place than the street.
    Ophelia perfectly recognizes and knows that her experiences aren’t universal and that people who were friendly and welcoming to her aren’t necessarily so to everybody (after all she is Ophelia Benson and that is a name that carries some respect with many people AND she’s there as a speaker. As we know neither of those things protected Rebecca or Elyse).
    So, what women demand is actually something that’s a bit better than normal because normal isn’t good at all. To repeat a wonderful phrase someboy else coined: Why should I spend a lot of money on TAM if I can get treated like shit for free?

  59. Sally Strange says

    So I suppose that could constitute an answer – yes they are frequent and pervasive – except that the my question was specifically about atheist conferences. I made it perfectly plain that I know how difficult other environments can be.

    If you know how difficult other environments can be, then why are you playing dumb?

    There’s nothing I know of that would suggest that atheist/skeptic conferences would automatically be vastly different in that respect from any other place in North America.

    Did you have some astounding piece of evidence to that effect that you have been keeping secret?

    Please. This disingenuous posturing does not make you look smart or uber-skeptical.

  60. yahweh says

    Giliell,

    That sounds hearfelt. I don’t know what your experiences have been, and I don’t presume to know, but this doesn’t mean I know nothing. My mother, now pushing 80, still cannot grieve for her stolen childhood. But you’re surely looking in the wrong direction here.

  61. says

    yahweh – I didn’t answer because your question, again, makes no sense given what I said. I said:

    I don’t want to think women are there primarily to be of sexual interest, because in that case I won’t be there at all, or if I am I’ll be made to feel superfluous and in the way, and also because women who will be there will be made to feel their ability to talk and discuss is beside the point. At conferences.

    As I said before, the sentence is conditional. That means it’s not describing a way things are. That means it doesn’t make any sense to ask ‘where does the “primarily” come from?’ If I say “I don’t want it to rain tomorrow, because if it does the picnic won’t be any fun,” it doesn’t make any sense to ask “where does the rain come from?”

  62. says

    yahweh

    That sounds hearfelt. I don’t know what your experiences have been, and I don’t presume to know, but this doesn’t mean I know nothing. My mother, now pushing 80, still cannot grieve for her stolen childhood. But you’re surely looking in the wrong direction here.

    head->desk
    face->palm

  63. Matrim says

    Huh? So by Dr. Klein’s logic, it wouldn’t be harassment for someone to walk up to you on the street, whip out their penis and begin masturbating while asking you for a fuck? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what it looks like.

    I just don’t get some people…

Trackbacks

  1. […] Ophelia Benson picked apart this article by Dr. Marty Klein ludicrously titled, “Sexual Harassment or Unwanted Sexual Attention?”   “Rape, or just Unwanted Sexual Penetration?” “Robbery? Or Just Unwanted Gift-Giving?”  ”Kidnapping, or Unwanted Field Trip?” […]

  2. […] Ophelia Benson picked apart this article by Dr. Marty Klein ludicrously titled, “Sexual Harassment or Unwanted Sexual Attention?” I eagerly await the rest of his series: “Rape, or just Unwanted Sexual Penetration?” “Robbery? Or Just Unwanted Gift-Giving?”  ”Kidnapping, or Unwanted Field Trip?” […]

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