UPDATE #2 Men cry foul cos evil feminism makes hitting on women more difficult


Would probably helped if I linked to the piece: Here.

That’s a piece I wrote, as a response to a Guardian post which – to say the least – I didn’t like. The piece claims campaigns like Everyday Sexism make hitting on women harder, because it makes all them “females” think confident flirtation is same as harassment.

Er, yeah. No.

I also commented directly on the piece itself, in the comment section, which got one… strange response.

Some readers can’t locate my comment Guardian site. I’ll reprint it here:

Since I’ve been following Everyday Sexism for a while, I find the author’s characterisation of the project different to mine. I’d be interested to see where exactly the claims come from that indicate all men do this – considering the campaign has been encouraging and welcoming men’s voices, too, who speak out and discourage this behaviour.

I’d also be interested where exactly the claim is made that mild flirtation is equated with street harassment. It seems to me if you can’t distinguish between the two then maybe that’s a serious problem and you should rethink what you mean by flirting – not what the woman you’re flirting with is “doing wrong”.

Of course, your intention could very well be one that truly is harmless and is non-threatening – but misinterpreted. And this I understand, to a small degree.

But considering, as you know, the environment in which women live and what some face everyday, that’s just… well… TOO BAD. Yes, it sucks that it’s harder to intitiate conversation and flirtation without being perceived as “yet another creep”. Yes, it sucks that women have been so constantly bombarded with such idiocy they change their behaviour, time of day for jogging or walking or doing basically anything (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/02/apps-and-online-programs-offer-new-ways-to-report-street-harassment.html), – because victim-blaming also is this pernicious, see?

It’s easy for us men to claim “but we’re nice guys and never do that” – but again, I assume most people can distinguish between the two behaviours.

There will exist genuine mistakes and misinterpretation – as there is in everything we do. Except here it’s compounded by the environment that so many women live in, everyday. The name of the project says it all.

In a world screaming for their attention, namecalling them when women refuse to give it, we shouldn’t be wagging our fingers when our kinder voices go unnoticed. We should be empathetic, target the environment and other men doing this – and also respect women enough to, you know, be able to tell the difference between harassment and harmless flirtation. I don’t see Everyday Sexism as ushering in the downfall of sexual freedom – I see it as protecting it, particularly women’s, so that we can all live in a better world.

(Weirdly, Dawkins linked to this comment – even though his quotation indicates his support of the very article I was criticising in that comment.)

PS: Ophelia also has some important insight, as always.

Comments

  1. John Horstman says

    The piece claims campaigns like Everyday Sexism make hitting on women harder, because it makes all them “females” think confident flirtation is same as harassment.

    And when the confidence of the flirtation means ignoring boundaries/signals of disinterest, then confident flirting becomes harassment. If one is worried that anti-harassment campaigns make flirting difficult, one is probably doing flirting wrong (what one considers “flirting” is probably actually “harassment”). This can be difficult to understand (perhaps willfully difficult) for people who are not accustomed to trying to identify and consider how others are reacting (perhaps becasue of a sense of entitlement bred by cultural privilege), becasue the difference between flirting and harassment is consent – whether the other party is enjoying it and wishes the interaction to occur/continue. There is no set of absolute rules that define whether a behavior is okay or not in all contexts – it requires paying attention to someone else and actually behaving in accordance with their preferences. In a sense the people complaining are correct – anti-harassment campaigns make the harassment they consider to be “flirting” more difficult or socially unacceptable. This is a feature, not a bug.

  2. Onamission5 says

    @John Horstman #1:

    And not just that, but even within the framework of respecting boundaries and social signals, repeated passes from different men when all you want is to get to your destination can wear a person down. It’s the social view that women in public are fair game for hitting on that Everyday Sexism also works to oppose. It would be great if eventually a woman on a bus, street, or train (et al) could be just given the benefit of the doubt that she’s got a reason for going out in public other than potentially providing sexytimes for straight men, and is treated accordingly.

  3. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Yes, it sucks that it’s harder to intitiate conversation and flirtation without being perceived as “yet another creep”.

    But don’t blame the women. The ones who have poisoned the well are the creeps, and they don’t lieten to women’s attempts top get them to stop being creeps. You males are going to have to take action to stop the creeping.

  4. Copyleft says

    Or (and here’s a radical thought) women could do some of the initiation and approaching, and take the risk of being rejected too.

  5. Chaos-Engineer says

    Or (and here’s a radical thought) women could do some of the initiation and approaching, and take the risk of being rejected too.

    Women generally do this already.

    It’s true that they’re not likely to randomly approach strangers on the street, but that’s about the worst possible way of meeting people. It’s also rude and I don’t think we should be encouraging more of it.

    Women are more likely to make approaches that actually work: Flirting with people they’ve been introduced to at social functions, asking friends to set them up with somebody, or even just putting up profiles on online dating sites. All of those carry a risk of rejection.

    Reading between the lines – is it possible that the real problem is that women aren’t approaching you specifically? If it is, maybe you could ask some of your friends if there’s anything you could do to make yourself more attractive.

  6. Bob says

    This is how people like Rebecca Watson turned be against feminism. I studied feminist theory, but if I’m subjected to public shame because I dared ask a woman out, I have no interest in supporting an ideology that is interested in harming me solely on account of my sex. When feminists say “men and women are equal” but decry that notion with every action they engage in. Goodnight, I refuse to support your rampant classist war of hate against lower-class men.

    http://imageshack.com/a/img842/146/o343.png

  7. Chaos-Engineer says

    I studied feminist theory, but if I’m subjected to public shame because I dared ask a woman out, I have no interest in supporting an ideology that is interested in harming me solely on account of my sex.

    OK, I see where you’re confused.

    People only get subjected to public shame if they do something that’s widely seen as rude or offensive. It’s possible to ask a woman out without being rude or offensive. (If you’re not sure how to do this, get one of your woman friends to coach you, or, better yet, see if she can set you up with someone compatible.)

    A good analogy would be reacting to a job offer. If you’ve been carrying on a conversation with someone for a while, and they offer you a job that’s suited to your skills, you’ll probably be flattered even if you aren’t interested in the position. But if some random stranger comes up to you on the street and offers you a job out of the blue, then you can safely assume it’s an MLM pyramid scheme and that they’ve been asking every person who comes along. So you’ll be annoyed rather than flattered. It’s better to be unemployed than to get suckered into a pyramid scheme.

    If you get pestered by a different pyramid scammer every single week, then you’ll eventually get really annoyed and you might feel like publicly shaming the recruiters in hopes of discouraging them. If even one in a hundred recruiters gets belligerent when you turn them down, you’re going to see this as a real problem and you might want to set up a website to brainstorm different solutions to it. And that’s where we stand today.

    To continue the analogy: If the pyramid scammers get all upset and wail, “I’m being picked just because I’m a job recruiter. Why are job seekers always persecuting job recruiters? Why can’t anyone see that we’re the real victims here?” Then they won’t even be publicly shamed. People will just point at them and laugh.

    Goodnight, I refuse to support your rampant classist war of hate against lower-class men.

    Goodnight to you too!

  8. AMM says

    Bob @6

    This is how people like Rebecca Watson turned [m]e against feminism.

    This is like saying, “Rebecca Watson telling me not to use the village well as a toilet turned me against public health.”

    It sounds like the “feminism” that both Bob and the guy at the Guardian have gotten “turned .. against” was the “feminism” that was supposed to guarrantee them free nookie, anytime, anyplace, with whoever they wanted. It’s no surprise that they “turned .. against feminism” when forced to recognize that feminism is actually about treating women like human beings (!= free sex toys.)

    No surprise — and no loss. Feminism is better off without “allies” like that.

    BTW, if Bob is being subjected to public shaming for “daring to ask a woman out,” it’s pretty obvious he’s doing it wrong, since millions, maybe billions of men manage to do so on a regular basis without coming across as creeps. Of course, if he’s displaying in RL the attitude he displays in his comment, it’s no wonder he’s getting publicly shamed.

  9. says

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as
    though you relied on the video to make your point.

    You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you
    could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  10. says

    Thank goodness Rebecca Watson turned Bob against feminism! I’m always relieved when men like him realize that overt sexism, rather than attempting to fake the ability to view women as human beings, is their true calling. Simplifies things.

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