Thunderf00t has a new video, and it’s the usual nonsense of bad metaphors and vague recommendations and a complete lack of empathy and reason — more mountain lions and wasps, and new comparisons that don’t work.
Here’s the problem I have: he keeps saying that women can do things to reduce their chances of getting raped…and then he trots out a fake equation, like this:
Probability of rape = AxBxCxDxExFxGxH
Where cyan are the factors women control, and red are the factors the rapists control. And therefore he’s only advocating that there are steps you can take to acceptably reduce your risk of rape, not that the rapist is excused.
Can I just say that I really, really despise fake equations? It’s a way to put up a pretense of scientific objectivity, without having to do any actual work in trying to understand the relationship of the variables. Why would you give all of these variables equal weight? Why would you think these are probabilities that are appropriately multiplied together? And most importantly, what the hell are the variables? I would think that one of the major objections here is that he leaves his variables unspecified, and if we think it through, it turns out that those parameters are what many of us are objecting to.
Later in his video, he mentions “body language” as a factor in rape (let’s call that his factor A) — apparently, women just have to learn the right body language to discourage rapists…like being waspish or lionish. I think. Looking fearful is apparently a bad thing — so ladies, if you get raped, perhaps it’s because you weren’t presenting yourself forcefully enough. But on the other hand, what I’ve seen is that if women are aggressively outgoing and bold, they get more hatred and accusations of being unladylike and death and rape threats. How’s that working out for Rebecca Watson?
So apparently A doesn’t scale in a simple linear way, and it isn’t even interpretable as a numeric value…and it’s going to have different context-dependent values, depending on the personality of your wanna-be rapist. So what exactly are women supposed to do?
I asked this question on the chat to the Magic Sandwich show, in which Thunderf00t tried to defend himself (which was awful, by the way: who thought it was a good idea to bring on four men to discuss how women should behave to avoid rape? Lilandra was the token woman, and they gave her very little time to speak). The answer: watch what they choose to wear (we’ll call that Factor B).
Again, we’re missing specifics. So women aren’t supposed to dress attractively? The whole world is sending women signals that they’re supposed to care about their appearance, and dress beautifully and apply makeup, and when men get together to mansplain how to avoid rape, their answer is…be less attractive. Right. So we’d expect that the male scale of feminine attractiveness is now equivalent to the scale of rapeability? What a damning relationship, if true…and of course it isn’t.
We’re still guessing at what factor C might be. Thunderf00t makes one of his typical clueless metaphors: that there’s something about women’s behavior that is like wearing a hardhat in a construction area. We have signs in such areas that warn people and tell them they must wear a hardhat, and we don’t get upset that it’s limiting people’s freedom to follow common sense rules.
So, I wonder, what is the hardhat equivalent for women’s behavior? What are they supposed to wear or do to protect themselves? Be specific. A construction site has specific risks — heavy falling objects — and a straightforward defensive measure — wearing a hardhat — to address the risks. Every woman in the world would love to know what simple defensive measure they can take to prevent all forms of rape.
Thunderf00t doesn’t have an answer to that. It’s all handwaving and invalid metaphors that break instantly upon inspection.
What he doesn’t address at all is the fundamental unfairness. Everyone, men, women, bosses, workers, wears a hardhat at a construction site. We don’t single out some group and say their heads are especially fragile so they need special protection. But we blithely assume that it is entirely reasonable to demand that women live with heightened risk.
My wife mentioned a simple example to me: she’d never walk into a parking garage alone late at night. And that’s a reasonable precaution she takes all the time. But think about it: if men had special reason to fear the security at a particular parking area, we’d be demanding more police patrols, greater video surveillance, that steps be taken to reduce the danger. But women? Heck, that’s just a consequence of their being the “weaker sex”, they need to adapt to deal with it.
Can you even image the reaction if people at a workplace were told that the company parking garage was risky, so you men need to partner up when you walk out to your car? Outrage and demands that the company fix the problem right now.
So Thunderf00t has invented an utterly useless pseudo-scientific formula to justify his views, and even the most casual analysis of possible factors to fit into it reveals that it simply cannot work, that it fits reality remarkably poorly, and that it is so sloppily defined that it is meaningless. I reject Thunderf00t’s ideas because they are appallingly bad science.