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Infantilizing?

One of the current hot memes in the “let’s hate on FTB and feminazis” campaign is to announce that we’re “infantilizing” women and that it’s disgusting, outrageous, appalling. What’s up with that?

How are we infantilizing women? I don’t see it. By thinking conferences should have anti-harassment policies?

Surely not. Having a policy doesn’t “infantilize” any more than laws do. Having a policy lets people know where they are, instead of forcing them to try to figure it out on their own. It lets people know they have some rights (and some obligations). It lets people know what’s expected of them. If anyone is being infantilized surely it’s people who have to be told not to make unwanted sexual moves.

In a way, anti-harassment policies de-infantilize women, in the sense that women who want sexual moves will probably have to do some initiating. What’s wrong with that?

Or is it by objecting to being called cunts and bitches all the time?

Come on. Is it “infantilizing” for people to object to racist epithets? I don’t think I’ve ever heard that suggested. If it’s not, why would it be so for women to object to sexist epithets?

Or maybe it’s neither of those, but then I have no idea what it is.

Anyone?

Comments

  1. says

    Or maybe it’s neither of those, but then I have no idea what it is.

    Anyone?

    I’ll try my best Chill Girl mode:

    Put on your Big Girl Blouses and stop being a victim. Life’s a bitch and language only has the power you give it. Not having bad words is for little children, I’m a grown up and can say them as much as I like and you can’t make me stop! B…, c…, w…!

    Sadly, that sounds exactly like a kid throwing a tantrum…

  2. 'Tis Himself says

    Anyone?

    “Hey, I was looking at the dictionary today and I found a new word… infantilize. Pretty neat, huh? Let’s throw it at some feminists because I bet they won’t know what it means either.”

  3. Anonymous Atheist says

    They think a ‘mature’ person should be willing and able put up with any behavior anyone decides to subject you to, and when or if you’ve had enough, convince the misbehavers one-by-one on a case-by-case basis to please stop; any discomfort experienced in the process is purely a result of personal inadequacies.

  4. A. Noyd says

    Or maybe it’s neither of those, but then I have no idea what it is.

    My take? “Infantilizing” is the tune of “special rights” whistled out of a different orifice. See, women get to use policies to shield ourselves from harshness while men are expected to “man up” and weather everything on their own.

  5. artharjar says

    We need harassment policies for the same reason we need laws. If a policy is well drafted, open to public comment, and properly enforced than it can do a lot to protect everyone in the group (shockingly just like a law).

    I suspect that people arguing for no policy at all are not being sincere. More likely, the detractors are afraid of what a policy might contain. I’d like to see an initiative to get a reasonable policy drafted and circulating for review. In fact, it would probably be a good idea to develop a kind of model policy that can be easily adopted by the different events and satellite organizations (with modification as their individual needs demand).

    I think that a lot of awareness has come out of the recent debate and it would be nice to see that turn into something constructive with which we can go forward. Respect is not going to maintain itself. There is some energy available right now, lets tap that and get some work done.

  6. julian says

    I am a know nothing and a poor reasoner but

    Part of this, I think, is how toxic masculinity has established a very warped perception of how equality should work. Men, traditionally, are expected to shrug off any form of verbal abuse and internalize anger, resentment, fear and sorrow. So it comes back to that jaw droppingly idiotic retort some men have towards women complaining of harassing behavior.

    “I thought you said you wanted to be treated like a man?”

    And, for whatever reason you want to ascribe to it, people still largely view being “a man” as the height of maturity and what we should aspire to. Encouraging open discussion of harassment, asking for community solutions, open displays of pain, all of that runs counter to being “a man.” It’s weak which is the most anti-manly thing there is. And, of course, infantilizing to people who should be aspiring to be more manly.

    Anyway, 2 bits.

  7. Erista (aka Eris) says

    You are initializing women by assuming that they are not Vulcans, untouched by feelings and guided only by cool logic*. You think women will get their feelings hurt? Will feel unwelcome? Will feel violated? Will feel isolated? Will feel afraid? Will cry? Will feel pressured? Will feel overwhelmed? Will be impacted by many small instances of hurt in addition to a few large instances of hurt? Will decide not to return to a place where they experienced the aforementioned?

    Only infants experience these things. Real, True Atheists do not. Anyone who feels these things has not trained themselves sufficiently to attain Kolinahr**.

    *Well, cool logic, distaste, scorn, and sadism, of course.

    **Well, a Kolinahr that leaves distaste, scorn, and sadism intact.

  8. says

    What’s interesting is that the only infantile thing is see is people jumping up and screaming about having to follow basic common sense rules of public conduct. Ophelia, you bring up laws but you leave out the strong libertarian “laws are bad by definition” aspect of much of the “skeptical” community.

  9. says

    Not even laws. We need harassment policies for the same reason we need fire safety regulations, escape maps, and emergency drills. No one hems and haws about how big the problem of fires are, or if the existing sprinkler system can handle it without any escape policies, or says that you should put the fire out yourself or, if it’s that big, just call the fire department to deal with it.

    The infantilizing thing comes in part because I think they see harassment policies as being “protective” of women, suggesting that they can’t handle harassment on their own (the way men can). Unpacking the problems with that is a post in and of itself.

    But the other problem is the way they’ve distorted every significant event in the feminist/atheist intersection as women being oversensitive and hyper-reactionary and wanting to insulate themselves from offense, and then suggest that those women (and others) are trying to say all women are hypersensitive reactionary thought-police, or need to be protected by same. It’s all very…projection-y.

  10. says

    If “complaining” is infantilizing – what’s the alternative? I see only two – non-verbal communication that makes people stop what they are doing, or simply taking the abuse.

    You know – not talking about it until you are so mad that you resort to physical violence.

    That approach is really macho – and therefore not immature at all!!/sarcasm

  11. H2s says

    “women who want sexual moves will probably have to do some initiating. What’s wrong with that?”

    They’ll be called sluts, probably.

  12. says

    I don’t take the bait (I don’t think) but I was curious about what it was even supposed to be. If it’s just an item out of a tattered play-book – yes, that’s not very interesting.

  13. smhll says

    Much love for posts #4 and #9 (and pretty much all the rest of you, too).

    The only thing I can think of that would be close to being “infantilizing” is having a harassment code that says we can’t discuss sexual topics (even clinically) and we can’t say “shit” or “f-ck”. However, those things have not been the driving force when harassment policies have been requested AFAIK.

  14. smrnda says

    Anti-harassment policies would be infantalizing to women if say, a bunch of crusty old men were making the policies over the objections of women who didn’t want them. However, if women are taking the initiative in this because it’s been a problem, which is the case, it’s pretty much exactly the opposite.

  15. F says

    Maybe they can draw up and submit anti-infantilizing policies, so we know what not to do to infantilize anyone.

  16. says

    It is just dressed up victim blaming. If not being infantile can prevent harassment then the women getting harassed deserved it for being unable to handle it. It means women who say “what problem? I can handle myself!” should represent women as a whole and that there is something wrong with women who want a structural change. Maybe some women feel tough or mature for their response to harassment.

    It has a very libertarian feel to it- all of us are an island, no social context to explore, etc.

    I hear it all the time when critiquing problems in the sex industry. The crowd says its infantalizing or that I’m denying women autonomy when I discuss abuse of women. Its as if they think every woman can win and stop harassment/abuse if they just tried hard enough when we all know damn well that some men are dead set on mistreating women for fun. They will find someone to mess with so leaving it up to an individual woman to deal with isn’t an acceptable answer to me.

  17. Lyanna says

    Basically, they see anti-harassment policies as special treatment for women, rather than as policies that ensure that women get treated the same treatment as men (i.e., that we don’t get harassed).

    This “you should just stand up for yourself” crap is awful, and it needs to go. I’ve heard it way too much lately.

    I wonder if they would see policies banning slurs like “nigger” as infantilizing minorities? By their logic, they should.

  18. says

    The weird thing is the frothing rage people get into. It’s as if we were literally shoving women down and putting diapers on them and tying them into cribs.

    It means women who say “what problem? I can handle myself!” should represent women as a whole and that there is something wrong with women who want a structural change.

    And it’s so odd to think – to insist – that we should have to. Sure, I can “handle” a bunch of shit, but I don’t see why I should have to. I don’t want a bunch of shit thrown at me just because I’m a woman, and I don’t want other women to get that either. I want a better world where people don’t act like that.

  19. smrnda says

    I also don’t see why ‘standing up for yourself’ can’t include, enacting policies that make sure you don’t have to put up with harassment. It’s just a more effective way of handling the problem, though I suspect that it runs afoul of the staunch ‘no collectivism ever’ philosophy of some libertarian, who just dislike collective actions pretty much because they work in terms of addressing problems of unequal power and privilege.

  20. Hypatia's Daughter says

    #22 Lyanna

    Basically, they see anti-harassment policies as special treatment for women, rather than as policies that ensure that women get treated the same treatment as men (i.e., that we don’t get harassed).

    Yeppers. Men have carefully crafted their societies to protect themselves from the truly harassing to the merely annoying – it is so built in that they are oblivious to how they are protected.
    Gay men, for example, don’t randomly make passes at other men in social, work and public situations. Far too dangerous for the gay guy who could be subjected to anything from ostracism to violence. The social and legal attitudes towards LBGT’s has been finely crafted to protect men from unwanted harassment from that quarter. Does that make the average man “infantile”?

  21. smhll says

    Does that make the average man “infantile”?

    I think the point is that the average woman is physically unthreatening to the average man. Men don’t make passes at men who might sock them in the jaw (or worse). Around Elevatorgate time frame one married woman posted about how many fewer sexual advances she received when her husband was with her at a conference vs when she was alone. I think that was fear of getting socked in the jaw (by the husband) that toned things down. I suspect that or a gun or a taser may be the recommended Libertarian remedy for women who are not being particularly good in a fistfight. If we fight back with words, after an unwelcome surprise proposition, we run the risk that we will receive the same in return, plus the implicit threat of physical violence, or actual physical violence. (The Libertarians that I remember meeting were all fairly big guys. “Law of the jungle” seems fine for them.)

    Oh, also I believe there is an attitude that anyone who is “weak” can’t possibly be “equal”. Take that feminists! ;-)

  22. says

    I think it’s quite simple, honestly. A bunch of infants are trying to bring everything down to their level.

    :p

    Okay… seriously, I think #4 and #9 hit the nail on the head. It’s pathetic, really… and quite sad.

    It’s not about infantilizing women. When women say they want to be treated as human beings, they aren’t asking to be harassed. They’re asking to be respected. There is a huge fucking difference, and yet some people just seem to insist on being blind to that fact.

  23. says

    To add to that… what man grabs another man’s ass or chest out of the blue?

    Yet they do it to a woman who gets angry and they say “what?!? I thought you wanted to be treated like a man?”

    But you don’t treat men like that you idiot!

  24. F says

    Ophelia Benson

    That would be great! Then we could yell at them for, like, months!

    ROFL! They would have to make some sort of coherent rules first, based on some sort of principles, so I won’t hold my breath. I wouldn’t mind watching some group attempt the exercise honestly, though. I would expect much headexplody.

  25. F says

    skeptifem @ 21

    Which is why everyone should be packing heat. Problem solved! Everyone can take care of themselves, in vacuo.

  26. Erista (aka Eris) says

    Maybe they can draw up and submit anti-infantilizing policies, so we know what not to do to infantilize anyone.

    Bwahahaha, I love it.

  27. Erista (aka Eris) says

    @F You know, I actually get that a lot (“You should carry a gun!”) but if women aren’t allowed to say things like “Guys, don’t do that” when propositioned in an elevator in a foreign country by a guy they don’t know at 4am, in what possible situation would people rule the use of SHOOTING some guy as justified? I mean, these same people get pissed off when women get nervous and cross the fucking street when the women encounter a guy who makes them nervous. “That’s bigoted/sexist/labeling all guys as rapists/the same as assuming all black men are thieves/blah blah blah.” All their advice reminds on fucking mind reading: shoot the guy who is planning to rape you, but don’t cross the street from the guy who is not, and all of this will be determined after the fact by whether or not he raped you; if he raped you, you should have shot him, if he didn’t rape you, you shouldn’t have crossed the street..

  28. bjartefoshaug says

    Judging by the comments that Rebecca, Amy and Jen have been retweeting from people who “disagree” with them, I can only conclude that “maturity” means the freedom to behave in ways that would get you labeled a bully and punished as a child.

  29. R Holmes says

    To be brutal, people who think that what happens at FTB is ‘bullying’ are doing a sterling job of infantilising themselves.

  30. says

    So it comes back to that jaw droppingly idiotic retort some men have towards women complaining of harassing behavior.

    “I thought you said you wanted to be treated like a man?”

    Yes, and it’s the sure irony that if we were actually treated like men, our reasons to complain would suddenly have almost vanished.
    Somebody on another thread brought out the idea of the “football-talk rule”. Would you approach a guy to talk about foot ball in that situation? No? Then leave the woman alone, too.
    You don’t ask random men on the street about their favourite football team, you don’t shout “XYZ rocks” out of your car, you don’t go over and interupt a conversation to talk to a strange guy about football.

    It means women who say “what problem? I can handle myself!” should represent women as a whole and that there is something wrong with women who want a structural change.

    What doesn’t kill you makes you harder. Problem is that sometimes it just kills you. And then that’s your fault, apparently.

    Around Elevatorgate time frame one married woman posted about how many fewer sexual advances she received when her husband was with her at a conference vs when she was alone. I think that was fear of getting socked in the jaw (by the husband) that toned things down.

    My suggestion is that it has more to do with women having a legitimate owner then.
    But yes, the self-defense argument comes up frequently. WTF? I don’t want to run an arms-race. The assholes will do that, too. What good is knowing Karate if he has a gun? And how will a gun protect you from being drugged? And yes, what’s the appropriate meassure?

  31. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    To be brutal, people who think that what happens at FTB is ‘bullying’ are doing a sterling job of infantilising themselves.

    That’s not brutual, that’s the deliciously hilarious truth. Its fun watching grown men pitch a testerical fit because they recently discovered all women do not, in fact, want to sleep with them.

  32. Erista (aka Eris) says

    @33/maureen.brian Thanks!

    @35/R Holmes & 37/Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Here is a conversation where I learned that if a “community leader” decides that they want to include something that is “atheist adjacent” rather than “atheist centric,” that said “community leader” is a fascist:

    https://twitter.com/Eristae/status/238023332111474688

  33. says

    It’s a standard justification for all forms of bullying, not just men bullying women: when you object to bullying, or try to speak up for his victim, the bully (or his posse) loudly objects that the victim is (or should be) able to speak for themselves, and who ever gave you the authority to speak for anyone else, you’re being a presumtuous commie collectivist trying to deny individuals the ability to be independent, etc. etc. ad absurdum. It’s how bullies divide and rule, how contempt for the weak is rationalized, and how their victims cope when they don’t see anyone standing up for them. It’s also just another instance of an immature maladaptive response enshrined in our rhetoric and our national self-image as American “self-made men.”

    In short, it’s a tribalistic/animalistic reflex dressed up in libertarian fuzzwords.

  34. HM says

    @30 For the gun comment – not every country has as loose gun laws as the US (ie Canada where I live).

    @28 Great point, it gives me an idea for the next time it happens to me. I think I’m going to ask the grabber when was the last time they grabbed a random guy’s cock.

  35. says

    Anyone else recognize this as exactly the twisted line Republicans push re: racial politics? Calling Democrats racist for wanting to even out the playing field?

  36. R Holmes says

    Erista,

    Saying “This is where I’m heading; do come along if you feel like it” is fascism? Heavens: fascism has clearly been the victim of some dreadful PR.

  37. R Holmes says

    C Mason Taylor,

    The ‘infantiisation’ crowd seem to believe either that there is no unlevel playing field or that, if there is, the job of disadvantaged players is simply to keep running uphill and attempting to score goals. Which is a fine thing to do, but it leaves the systemic unfairness intact.

  38. says

    Which is a fine thing to do, but it leaves the systemic unfairness intact.

    Given that those who scream the loudest are in their majority those who are at an advantage right now, and given that, although it’s not a zero-sum game, not everything comes in endless amounts, their opposition often stems from fears of losing something.
    Hence the screams about “reverse racism/sexism”, too

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