PIPA, SOPA, NOPA! »« Obama the Ominous Tyrant (or Not)

Sexism, Racism, and the Golden Rule

Our own Ian Cromwell (the one and only Crommunist) posted today on the Schroedinger’s Rapist metaphor and the pushback against it that uses racism as an example (if you don’t know the back story, Daniel Finke provides). Ian’s thesis is this:

I’ve frequently heard people object to the Schroedinger’s Rapist argument as sexist, with anti-black racism used as a counter-example. I reject this comparison because it neglects two important factors: 1) that the issue under discussion is about whether or not we want women to feel more comfortable; and 2) that black people often make similar behavioural adjustments to accommodate the racism of their white friends. I share some personal stories to illustrate this.

He invited my comment and I realized I was just writing a blog post of my own. So here goes!

(To all of my readers, the following assumes you’ve read his post.)

Ian, awesome. I agree with most everything you say. I’d only offer some qualifications that come from comparing my experience and attitude to yours. You can tell me if I’m on track with this or not. (Though much of this in fact confirms your point.)

I think we should still account for the fact that there’s a difference between reasonable and unreasonable reactions.

I believe it would be wrong of you to adjust your behavior because of that crazy street-crossing lady, because not all people are like that. If I have to jog to get somewhere on time, I jog. You shouldn’t be deprived of that option because of your skin color. Were a hooded black man jogging up behind me, I would not be any more concerned than I would be were it a white man, nor would I dash away. And that’s saying something, as I’ve not only been attacked by black men, I was attacked for being white. So if anything you might think I’d have a legitimate reason to flee from jogging black men. But I’m not an idiot. I don’t assume all black men are racists or violent. And one dude jogging does not fall into any threatening reference class I know.

Likewise (regarding your door-to-door example), I chat with black men who show up at my door unusually frequently (I say unusually only because I live in a very diverse neighborhood and most people don’t). Again, people not talking to you is simply irrational behavior. You might have to end-round it (by wearing a suit, or developing a more disarming opening line and smile) for the practical reason that you need their cooperation and there really isn’t anything you can do about their being a racist idiot. But, IMO, you don’t have to like it. And when you don’t need their cooperation, you don’t owe them anything. Their fear and discomfort is their own damn fault. (But again, that’s just IMO.)

On the other hand, as I have myself been menaced by groups of black men for being white (complete with anti-white racial slurs and attacks with hurled bottles; I live on the edge of a rough town), I will cross the street to avoid a group of black men dressed like gangbangers, but not a group of black men dressed in suits or jogging clothes or even dressed in “hip hop” kit but with backpacks (as the sort of guys who would menace me would not be so dorky as to carry backbacks; those are clearly school kids). My reasoning is not “those guys must be dangerous” but “if I avoid those guys, my risk of being menaced declines considerably.” And that conclusion is based on actual, personal experience. (Which is also neighborhood specific; I have no such worries walking about in Harlem where I effectively lived for many years.)

It’s also not based solely on their being black (obviously it is partly: in this town [Richmond, California] there are some black people who will attack you for being white, whereas no white people tend to attack you for being white), but on their wearing gear that identifies them with the culture that dangerous men boast being a part of. And yet, only some people in that culture are dangerous. Thus, my avoiding them does not entail I assume they are dangerous, but only that I am reducing my risk in the event that they are. I don’t see that as racism. It looks more like common sense to me. (Which, as you note, is exactly a woman’s point: any random man could be Schroedinger’s Rapist–that doesn’t mean 50/50, but still a non-negligible risk that has to be managed.)

Accordingly, a bunch of black guys who see me do that in this town should know there are guys who actually do look like them who would give me shit, and thus acknowledge that it’s not unreasonable of me to avoid finding out. They might even telegraph a heightened friendliness to reassure me that they aren’t those guys. And that would be entirely reasonable, too.

This kind of adjustment doesn’t necessarily have to do with race, either. Even though I am white, I would have enough presence of mind to know I shouldn’t walk into a business wearing a ski mask, even if I was wearing it just to keep warm; and I wouldn’t joke about carrying a bomb within earshot of airport security; and I engage all manner of adjustments to my behavior to ensure my presence in some context is not misinterpreted. As you point out, that’s just good sense.

Like you, I’ve been attentive to what clothes I was wearing, for example, and adjusted to compensate, e.g. when I’m thrashed from construction work and covered in mud and grunge and dirt and wearing “second hand” clothes (because those are the ones I don’t care about getting ruined), and I walk into a shop to get a coke, I make an effort (by whatever means, from body language to conversation to facial expressions) to telegraph that I’m an orderly, intelligent man with money, and not a crazy homeless guy keen on pinching something.

And like you, I have often scared the hell out of people by walking up on them too quickly, so I also shuffle my feet now so someone ahead of me is aware. And even then (and this has happened a couple times just in the last year) I sometimes get fearful, worried looks as I pass. And I’m a white dude. (Which perhaps means you shouldn’t assume it’s always about your being black; evidently some behaviors worry people regardless.)

The point is, some kinds of reactions are simply unreasonable and do not need to be accommodated (unless for practical reasons they have to). But some kinds of reactions are reasonable and should be accommodated (and we should actually feel good about accommodating them). This applies in the male-female dynamic just as much as any other. I do make an effort to make women around me feel comfortable, and I don’t see this as some sort of reverse gender bias or affirmative action, but as simply what a good guest and/or host does: make those around him feel comfortable. We do the same thing when we avoid political arguments at family gatherings.

On the other hand, there are people whose company I don’t want, if they don’t like the way I naturally am. For example, I will avoid swearing in certain contexts (e.g. a formal lecture; when I’m a guest in a conservative’s house; etc.), but I’m not going to hang out at a party where I can’t swear. I’d rather be elsewhere. Conversely, if it’s my party, and you don’t like swearing, you belong elsewhere. And that’s your responsibility. By extension, any women who might have unreasonable expectations shouldn’t mingle with men who don’t meet them. But not all expectations are unreasonable.

How do you tell the difference? Empathy and the Golden Rule: (a) first understand what difference it makes to be a woman [e.g. by a huge margin, women are far more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than men, and they live with that fact, we don’t] and (b) then ask if you were them, how would you want to be treated? (Or, “how would that behavior then look to you?” or “what would that remark then sound like to you?” or “what would reassure me that I’m going to be comfortable here?” etc.).

Another example of (a), BTW, is the fact that men tend not to have much actual experience receiving unwanted advances; whereas women tend to get that shit a lot, to the point of getting fed up by it as much as any man would who had the same experience. When guys say “but all advances from women are welcome!” that only confirms to me they are naively inexperienced. Would you want persistent advances from your best friend’s wife? Or women you find unattractive? What about daily menacing come-ons from gay men? I have been hit on or flirted with by gay men a good amount (and not just because my wife used to work in the theatre) and I don’t mind it, it’s even flattering, but this is because they were always polite about it, genuine gentlemen; but imagine if they weren’t? Or they just wouldn’t lay off? Or literally everywhere you went yet another dude came on to you? It would get tiring after a while. Why, gosh, you might even give up going to group events where that keeps happening.

Hence, Ian, I think your overall point is spot on.

Comments

  1. says

    Mostly well said – but you’ve undermined your own point quite horribly by talking about the “crazy street-crossing lady”. Crommunist didn’t say she was crazy. Had you not just read the article on Schrodinger’s rapist, which explains why her behaviour is not actually crazy? Would it not be advisable to first understand what difference it makes to be a woman [e.g. by a huge margin, women are far more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than men, and we live with that fact, you don’t], and then ask if you were them, how would you want to be treated, before dismissing her as crazy?

    • says

      Alethea H. Claw: …you’ve undermined your own point quite horribly by talking about the “crazy street-crossing lady”. Crommunist didn’t say she was crazy.

      I didn’t say he said that either. I said that. In other words, that’s my opinion. Anyone who foolishly risks life and limb out of an irrational belief is crazy. In a colloquial sense, if not the clinical. If I saw that, I’d be calling her the crazy street-crossing lady every time I told the story. But then, unlike Ian, I’m an infamous asshole.

      Had you not just read the article on Schrodinger’s rapist, which explains why her behaviour is not actually crazy?

      Had you not just read my article, which is entirely about there being a difference between unreasonable and reasonable reactions? And that we shouldn’t have to accommodate the unreasonable? That’s my point. She was my poster child example of the unreasonable. A woman who runs away from jogging men for fear of rape is not behaving reasonably; the more so if she darts into traffic, thus hugely increasing her probability of being harmed, in a foolish attempt to supposedly decrease it. We can’t informally ban men jogging because it makes women out for a walk uncomfortable. That’s an unreasonable expectation.

  2. says

    Your point about not talking about politics with family is well-put. It’s the same reason I don’t talk about religion or politics or race etc. at work. Yes, I would be justified in telling my co-worker “hey, your jokes about how the carpet-layers should go fetch you a margarita just because they speak Spanish – that’s racist!” But then I still have to work with them, long after the carpet-layers are gone. Or to give an example of something that actually affects me – I don’t object to coworkers talking about the “War on Christmas”, even though that’s such a bigoted false accusation against my group of people. Sometimes we make concessions that facilitate peace at the expense of justice.

  3. iknklast says

    Good job, Richard. All of us women know that few of the men we meet are rapists; we also don’t know which ones. I remember being out in a restaurant on my anniversary, dressed to the nines. A drunk leered at me, and stood behind me making obscene gestures, until my husband finally decided we needed to leave before he got out of hand.

    I also faced (near daily) sexual advances from men at work throughout my 20s and into my 30s. Most men, if called on it, will say “I didn’t mean anything by it”. If you don’t mean anything by it, don’t do it, and that’s the best advice I can give. It isn’t fun, it isn’t funny, it’s sick and scary when you don’t know who you can trust. If you know the woman well enough, then you can make jokes around her if she’s down with it, but it really doesn’t hurt at all to get to know someone before you treat them with intimacy and familiarity. We all do that all the time in social settings, and there is no reason we can’t do it even if we find the other person totally hot. If she’s that hot, she’s worth waiting for and trying to get to know.

    I have become quite unnerved lately by the extreme level of sexism and ugly hatred I’ve been seeing on the Internet, and for me, I don’t see why my choosing not to be called “cunt” or “twat” should mean that I should leave the internet, while the rude oblivious folks stay (yes, Mallorie, that is addressed as much to you as to anyone else…you are clueless).

    Thanks to all of you on FTB for fighting this fight, even when most sane people would have given it up as hopeless.

  4. says

    A nice addition, Richard.

    I want to make very clear that I don’t think these kind of behaviour adjustments ought to be compulsory or the default. I do not think it’s fair at ALL that I can’t walk around my neighbourhood without constantly worrying about terrifying people. I don’t think it’s fair that due to the simple fact of my race, I am associated with a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with my personal interests or character. I don’t think it’s fair that I have to go out of my way to demonstrate how “safe” I am.

    The issue of whether or not it is fair is immaterial, however. It’s a question of survival. It’s what I have to do in order to get by. I didn’t point out my experiences as a “this is how everyone should behave” tale, just as a “this is my day-to-day experience” one. Much of it was a reaction to having people who are clearly ignorant about the facts try to use my experience as a counterexample. The point is that it’s a bad argument, because it is entirely common for black people to be seen as dangerous, and we make adjustments for that to change the conversation (and the minds of those who falsely believe that). It is not a virtue to stand on princple otherwise, and it’s annoying to be used as a cudgel but have our perspective ignored.

    I’m glad to have your support and empathy on this.

  5. says

    I don’t have anything to add, other than to corroborate Ian’s experiences since I’m also a large black guy. I’ve always tried to not startle people by making sure my keys jingle while walking. I also don’t wear hoodies any more for the same reasons, and keep my hands out of my pockets if I go into a gas station or grocery store or something especially late at night. Those sort of “precautions” I also try to apply as a guy if I’m in an isolated environment (elevator, street, etc.) with a woman I don’t know.

    I figure that people looking out for their own safety on a quick encounter in the street don’t have time to analyze a situation “rationally”. It’s not a time for a logical argument so I do what I can with a little empathy to make myself non-threatening.

  6. Luna_the_cat says

    Re. “Crazy street crossing lady”

    This is Ian’s story (in part):

    …I decided to pick up my pace. It was cool outside, so I had my hoodie up.

    I was trucking along at a fairly decent pace when I noticed an older woman ahead of me on the street. At first I didn’t pay any attention to her, so intent was I on making my appointment. However, as I drew closer, she became more visibly agitated, constantly looking over her shoulder and speeding up. There was no way she was going to walk faster than me, though – I was way taller than she. When I was about 50m away, she suddenly broke to the right and crossed the road …

    Here is what is constantly in the media.

    Look, there are a HELL of a lot more things that happen than just rape and sexual assault. I live in a small city, only about 500,000 people, and yet, there are roughly 1-2 stories every week about a pensioner getting knocked down and having their bag snatched.

    YOU, I don’t think, pay attention to stories like that in the same way an “older woman” does, because the targets are not the same demographic as you.

    You also probably don’t have to worry that if someone knocks you down you could suffer a major injury, like a hip fracture.

    And you have no clue how common crimes like that appear to be, to the people who know that they are targets.

    Now, here is what she perceived:
    1. Assault in order to snatch someone’s bag is an event which happens frequently.
    2. Injury often results, sometimes serious injury, even if it is just the “accidental by-product” of the mugging
    3. Here is a man in a hoodie, the clothing favoured by those trying to hide their faces from CCTV cameras
    4. He is jogging towards her and speeding up
    5. He has made none of the social signals, at this point, that would indicate “I’m just on my way somewhere else, not aimed at you” — like veering a few feet away from her.

    Her decision to risk her life in traffic may or may not have been wise, but the subconscious metric going on in her head (and let me tell you, I know this from experience) would have been “risk injury in a situation where I am prepared to react, or risk being attacked where I know I’m at a real disadvantage.” Her reaction was not “crazy”, and you are, in a slightly different way, putting yourself in the same category as the people who said “well, most people aren’t raped in elevators, so what on earth did RW have to complain about.”

    • says

      Luna_the_cat: Ian was not speeding up. And he was 50 meters away when she threw herself into traffic. It’s ridiculous to think she does this every time a jogger approaches her. And living like every jogger is out to snatch your purse is insane.

      Being actually propositioned alone in an elevator (essentially a locked and confined space with no retreat and no one to hear you, past midnight, in a hotel where most everyone is asleep, by someone you don’t know) is not even remotely analogous. Especially when Rebecca’s main point was that you’re not going to score that way, as it suggests insensitivity to her feelings and perspective. Ian wasn’t asking for a date. He was just jogging on a public sidewalk. There’s reasonable, and there’s unreasonable.

  7. Hertta says

    Great post, thanks. I have one minor disagreement.

    The crazy street-crossing lady may have been unreasonable (and racist) but Ian might still want to adjust his behavior and it wouldn’t be wrong, just something he might want to do so the unreasonable crazy lady won’t do something so stupid as to run into the traffic. It’s not his responsibility but it’s not wrong either.

  8. dysomniak says

    Great followup to a great post but I think Luna has a point. It may not have been the MOST rational choice for the old woman to make, but given the media imagery that is so pervasive it is entirely understandable. Maybe her attitude is not reasonable enough to warrant making much of an accommodation for (that, of course, is up to each person to decide for themselves), but “crazy” goes a bit far.

  9. says

    Nerd: “Sometimes we make concessions that facilitate peace at the expense of justice.”

    That’s a great point.

    When this debate came my way, I’d realized I was already making lost of such practical accommodations based on my general impression of the otherwise unmanageable excesses of others. And I often thought others were kind of stupid for not making similar changes to their behavior.

    But when it comes to the level of enforcement or social disproval the popularizing of these topics has brought, I have been a bit put off by thinking I’m somehow socially *obligated* to accommodate (rather than ignore injustice or retaliate against it). I don’t inherently *owe* women a presentation of myself that doesn’t come off as a creep especially if they don’t owe me a blank slate hearing based off of my actual personality on its own terms. But it takes two to tango and so I check the list of innocent behaviors that read as cultural creep tripwires even if they are kind of inane.

    I think the conversation in many of these interrelated social issues needs to be mainly about education about the real feelings and *actual* statistical threats different demographics tend to go through and let people live or “die” with their own social ineptitude. Culture will likely improve just based on knowing the terrain. Attempting to maintain a social mandate would probably drive just as many people deeper into their holes as it frees.

    Rick: “But then, unlike Ian, I’m an infamous asshole.”

    And this relates to the warrior/diplomat debate. You know people’s feelings will be hurt by using the non-clinical definitions of “crazy” and yet you still do it. Clearly you are willing to make accommodations for other similar hurt feelings. But it’s a mixed bag.

    Lots of irresponsible religious philosophers certainly deserve in a sense to be called out harshly for their bullshit without concern for the unintended consequences like the mechanical fact their brains are less likely to process threatening rhetoric. They’ll feel just as justified from their own mistaken perspective at denouncing you and the entire conversation goes down in flames. A persistent firebrand tone has social cost that the diplomatic leaning folk tend to want to mitigate. But it is probably wrong to tell firebrand leaning folk to stop since justice and peace are closely competing values in convoluted cultural circumstances.

    What can’t we relate this to, right?

  10. Luna_the_cat says

    @Richard

    I know that Ian didn’t say he was speeding up; I should have expressed more clearly, that if someone is “trucking at a fair pace” directly towards you, and not obviously slowing down, there is often (really, very often) a perception that this someone is accelerating. It goes along with the relatively well-known phenomenon that someone running towards you automatically gains at least a foot in height and 40 lbs. in weight. Her perception didn’t match reality, but it is kind of the way that human perception ticks; people can learn to overcome distorted perceptions that way, but it generally takes training. I accept that my statement as made was inaccurate, I was incompletely expressing the thought. (Hey, I know what’s in my head; why don’t you?)

    The point that you are bypassing, again, though:

    1. Awareness that a type of threat is common
    2. Awareness that if the threat is real she could be badly hurt
    3. Ian’s actions matched those of a potential offender in these circumstances.

    Your characterisation of a reaction as “crazy” is not based on the reality of what an older woman experiences in conjunction with the details of the situation, it is based on the fact that you would not perceive the threat the same way. Do you see the parallel here with the EG incident?

    • says

      Luna_the_cat: Irrational perception is one of the defining characteristics of crazy. Most old ladies (by far) don’t dart into traffic to avoid joggers. Do the math on that. Reasonable, unreasonable.

  11. Luna_the_cat says

    “Incorrect” =/= “irrational”, and also =/= “crazy.”

    Think you could engage with the other points at all? Like, the fact that you don’t perceive risk the same as the old lady for very good reasons which do not involve anyone being crazy, but because she has risk factors that you don’t?

  12. Luna_the_cat says

    Let me make clear, anyway: I appreciate most of what you say, and agree. But like Alethea Claw said, I just think your calling the older woman “crazy” undermines the rest of the message. She saw a big guy in a hoodie rushing at her. He did not offer any “not threat” signals. So her reaction may not have been what most people would do, but on the other hand, reacting with fear and getting herself out of there is not entirely crazy or irrational, either. ~~Another thing besides risk indicators and experience to consider: many people genuinely prefer to face a situation where they’ve had practice enough to feel confident in their own abilities (e.g. dodging traffic) and where they can legitimately think that other people will also try not to hurt them (e.g. dodging traffic) in strong preference to facing what they see as an attack. And again, this is rational; it can work. There are a lot of women (me included) who can tell you stories of being, for example, followed off of a bus and apparently stalked, and rather than stop to confront the person and determine his intentions for sure we chose to dash across a busy road to discourage him.

    I’m not saying that the older woman in the question wasn’t incorrect in her assessment or that she didn’t end up risking herself unnecessarily; I’m trying to say, her reaction isn’t crazy, and part of the problem is that you are doing what you are criticising, and failing to see the situation from her point of view.

    • says

      Luna_the_cat: There was no “big guy in a hoodie rushing at her.” That’s precisely what’s wrong with this. A man jogging is not “a big guy in a hoodie rushing at her.” It’s a guy jogging. To perceive that as “rushing at” someone is exactly what is crazy. Just try to imagine this woman darting into traffic every single time any guy jogging in the cold comes along. Sorry, but that’s just crazy.

      The entire point of my blog is that we do not have to respect unreasonable perceptions and expectations. You clearly aren’t getting that.

  13. Luna_the_cat says

    @Richard

    You also aren’t engaging with Ian’s own description of the event.

    For someone supposedly espousing thoughtful analysis of one’s own blindnesses, you don’t seem to be doing it very well here.

  14. Pteryxx says

    Uh…

    A man jogging is not “a big guy in a hoodie rushing at her.” It’s a guy jogging. To perceive that as “rushing at” someone is exactly what is crazy.

    Since Crommunist said that he IS a big guy, and he WAS wearing a hoodie, and he WAS moving at a goodly pace (most old ladies don’t run very fast), then I’d say, yes, she saw “a big guy in a hoodie rushing at her”. Maybe “towards” would be more accurate than “at”.

    And I have come very close to running into traffic because I saw someone approaching who I mistook for my stalker. So yeah. Fear isn’t always a rational thing.

  15. crissakentavr says

    I have to say, I’ve found being in steel-toeds and rough clothes covered with dust and dirt to actually get me more approving looks than I normally get.

    But I suppose there’s some sort of baseline to that… I loved Ian’s article, yours is a bit long, but the point is the same, I suppose; reasonable adaptions to reasonable fears. Don’t hafta like it. That’s not that point.

  16. carlie says

    The entire point of my blog is that we do not have to respect unreasonable perceptions and expectations.

    Who gets to determine which ones are reasonable and which are unreasonable?

    • says

      carlie: Who gets to determine which ones are reasonable and which are unreasonable?

      You do (since, in the context of the argument, you are the one deciding how much to accommodate).

      The epistemological problems you might be hinting at are no different than in any other situation (e.g. you can shoot someone in self defense by mistake, too; so you should aim to be as objective, rational, and considerate as possible, in order to reduce errors of judgment; but that there will be errors is inevitable in all social choices and therefore is not an argument against making choices, but an argument for getting better at it).

  17. F says

    Luna_the_cat

    Your posts and your reference search make a point: Women may be attacked or robbed, and they fear these things. Who wouldn’t, right?

    But look: The choice to run out into six lanes of high-speed traffic is not close to an optimal decision, and is completely irrational with respect to someone jogging and still fifty yards behind you. This choice dramatically increases the chances of having a bad day. That is stepping straight into the fire when a frying pan may or may not be involved. A fear reaction is exactly irrational by its nature. Unmitigated by reason, before or after the fear sets in, the reaction can’t be rational.

    Now, maybe the traffic just looked scarier to Ian than it really was. I don’t know, I wasn’t there, and I don’t know the roadway to which he refers, but I’ll just take his word for it unless he wants o modify his description. And in the even that it was fear of being hurt in a purse snatching as you suggest for a possibility, dropping the purse and stepping away would be the thing to do. There’s nothing in your purse worth your life, or hip, or a broken arm, or a kidney, or whatever.

    This isn’t being dismissive of your experience or anyone’s, it is a suggestion that in the case described, a rather poor (or contrary) decision was made in the in the interest of self-preservation.

  18. says

    If I have understood the situation correctly, most men are not rapists and most rapes are not stranger rapes. It seems much more likely to be raped by ones intimate partner than by a stranger. So treating men as a group as plausible rapists seems to fit the definition of “irrational perception”?

    Surely, there has to be a minimum level of credibility before the assumption that “that man over there is a plausible rapist” can rationally be made? This seems to be based on the notion that rapists have a certain appearance (do they?) that can be readily identified by a female (can it?) and that it is useful to continually updated this probability with respect to the background knowledge with evidence (is it, or will the influence of confirmation bias be too much?).

    Maybe I have simply misunderstood the Schroedinger’s Rapist analogy. Could the counterargument be that rape has such negative consequences that stereotyping and extreme vigilance is favorable from a cost/benefit stance? In other words, avoiding failure to identify a probable rapist is much more valuable compared with avoiding identification of non-rapists as rapists that it can be rationally defended?

    • says

      Emil Karlsson: If I have understood the situation correctly, most men are not rapists and most rapes are not stranger rapes. It seems much more likely to be raped by ones intimate partner than by a stranger. So treating men as a group as plausible rapists seems to fit the definition of “irrational perception”?

      The only relevant statistic is context-dependent: what is the probability of a bad outcome given the circumstances you are actually in (thus “most rapes are not stranger rapes” even if true, is wholly irrelevant). Risk assessment also does not hinge solely on probability of loss, but the value of the loss put at risk, and also the cost of avoiding that risk (but saying “no” to a proposition costs nothing, so that’s not a major factor here; although this goes into my point, that some behaviors, by costing so much, or being so hugely off the mark on the risk assessment to begin with, are not reasonable, but that isn’t something the original SR argument denied).

      The point of the SR argument is that men should be aware that women are running this risk analysis when placed in a situation where they will have to make a choice that could put them at risk. It is not arguing that women should assume all strangers are rapists, but (a) that women can reasonably turn down men when they don’t know them from Adam (therefore men should not be offended by that) and (b) men who don’t take this into account are broadcasting their insensitivity to a woman’s point of view which is pretty much the worst thing you can advertise about yourself if you actually want to win a date. (Read the original argument again.)

  19. says

    That woman did not perceive him as jogging but as rushing at her.

    That’s the whole point.

    How is your position different than that from those who said Rebecca Watson was crazy because the guy did not, after all, rape her?

    • says

      Momo Elektra: That woman did not perceive him as jogging but as rushing at her.

      And my whole point is that to perceive every jogger heading toward you but still fifty meters away as “rushing at you” is unreasonable. Indeed, it’s insane.

      How is your position different than that from those who said Rebecca Watson was crazy because the guy did not, after all, rape her?

      She didn’t do anything insane. She just said no. Then told people that’s not how to ask her out on a date. That’s entirely reasonable.

  20. Luna_the_cat says

    @F

    This isn’t being dismissive of your experience or anyone’s, it is a suggestion that in the case described, a rather poor (or contrary) decision was made in the in the interest of self-preservation.

    That’s not the point of my argument, here. I didn’t say she wasn’t wrong. The decision to jump into traffic was under most circumstances an incorrect one. But it also wasn’t absolutely crazy, given context. The point of my argument is that it’s massively dismissive and objectionably patronizing to declare her crazy (and note, here Richard did not characterise her action as crazy, he declared *her* “crazy”) for her fear and her reaction, and unfortunately recapitulates many of the more objectionable objections to the whole EG situation.

  21. Luna_the_cat says

    It also raises an interesting point. Let’s say for the sake of argument that you notice someone who is genuinely “crazy” in the clinical-mental-health sense, say with schizophrenia, who is beginning to react fearfully and nervously to something you are doing. Do you (a) carry on as normal, since obviously it isn’t “reasonable” to cater to a crazy person, or do you (b) slow down, back off, and give them plenty of room since you have noticed that they are reacting with an excessive fear?

    See, to me, the obvious course of action would be (b), but perhaps not everyone agrees with that. I just don’t entirely get why.

    • says

      Luna_the_cat: Let’s say for the sake of argument that you notice someone who is genuinely “crazy” in the clinical-mental-health sense…

      If they have already done something crazy, it’s too late. So the question is moot. We can’t psychically predict who will do something crazy when we go jogging.

  22. Luna_the_cat says

    That’s a complete cop-out, and untrue in the real world. It is entirely possible to notice that someone is not reacting along normal parameters long before they run into traffic.

    You don’t want to deal with the question, natch, is what I’m getting from this response.

    • says

      Luna_the_cat: That’s a complete cop-out, and untrue in the real world. It is entirely possible to notice that someone is not reacting along normal parameters long before they run into traffic.

      So everyone who “is not reacting along normal parameters” is doing so because of you jogging and is going to run into traffic? You have some amazing psychic powers, I must say. Talk about saying things that are untrue in the real world.

Leave a Reply

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

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