There’s several different conversations about SR that are going on right now and which provoke this post. As always, the objectors, deniers and condesplainers are out in force.
This chap was retweeted as part of a conversation begun by @clementine_ford:
This is what I just posted as a comment on his blog (as always I wish I’d added a few more clauses for absolute clarity, so this is a slightly improved version, especially since I’m going to link to other posts here and I didn’t there):
You’re coming at this from the wrong direction, E. The problem is not that women think that you (pl.) look like a rapist – the problem is that women know that rapists look just like you (pl.).
You’re also only doing half of the risk assessment calculus – the metric is not just how likely is it that any given man that I meet may be a rapist, the metric is also what are the consequences if my probability assessment of any given man that I meet is wrong? If I am wrong about him maybe being a rapist, then the only thing I miss out on is the possibility of an uplifting human connection that I’m not particularly seeking right now anyway, but if I am wrong about assessing that he most likely is not a rapist, then I end up raped. As a bonus, should I survive I will be interrogated by just about everybody I know on how could I have been so reckless and why wasn’t I much less trustful of somebody I didn’t even know.
BTW, women are also assessing strange men they meet as Schrödinger’s Thief, Schrödinger’s Drunk Who Vomits On New Shoes, Schrödinger’s Teller Of Long Boring Tales, and they’re also assessing every car for whether Schrödinger’s Hit And Run Driver is behind the wheel. Do those background safety checks upset you as much as Schrödinger’s Rapist? If not, why not?
N.B. YouTube is full of video rants about SR and Atheism+, as if that one concept totally defines the Atheism Plus movement. Good times.
Not a single one of these terribly upset people appear to be bothered by the fact that shops treat every customer as a potential thief, that casinos treat every gambler as a potential cheat, that schools treat every student as a potential plagiarist etc. But they’re totally being rational in their analysis, all right?
Image Credit: index-page thumbnail is a screenshot from a Pepe Le Pew cartoon, where relentlessly stalking and blithely assaulting a woman who has consistently indicated refusal and who is obviously fearful for her safety is presented over and over and over again as obviously hilarious, just a bit of fun, and nothing that anybody should be getting upset about.
Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, social justice, violence
Pepe le Pew always bothered me.
I laughed and laughed and laughed at Pepe le Pew when I was a kid. I saw no difference then between him and the Coyote chasing the Road Runner. But at least the cartoons were honest about how Coyote is a brutal predator.
Great post, TT.
Wow, he really lost me long before he got into the meat of that complaint. Right here:
Really? None of us consider those risks or modify behaviour based on them? Commercial flight is one of the most heavily regulated industries on the planet, and probably the safest way to travel as a result. Even then, I fly very rarely, keep my seatbelt on, listen to safety instructions. If there were as many commercial-flight based injuries as there are rapes, recreational flight would be considered an utterly unacceptable risk for anyone to take.
Food production, again, is heavily regulated because of the risk of food poisoning. Even then, I won’t eat sushi that doesn’t seem freshly made, and I wouldn’t eat non-homemade sushi while pregnant. I use a hands-free kit if I’m going to be on my mobile for more than a minute or so. And I won’t smoke or take E because of the health risks involved. So, uh, yeah, we really are evaluating these risks and changing our behaviour as a result. And the CAR? Seriously? We chose what house to buy based on minimising daily driving. Our car decision was based heavily on safety ratings, not just for us but if hitting a pedestrian also. The car doesn’t move if seatbelts aren’t on and worn properly. Drinking stays within strict limits. I plan my life around not driving tired. Every single second while driving I’m evaluating risks and potential risks around me. Driving is possibly the very best analogy to Schrodinger’s Rapist – I’m already starting to teach the Lad that it’s safest to drive (ride a bike, get around as a pedestrian, etc) as if every single driver is out to kill you. You can’t get a licence until you demonstrate to the Government’s satisfaction your awareness of the risks and that you have the knowledge and skills to ensure that you’re not an unacceptable risk to other people.
So yes, not only compassion fail and feminism fail, but basic logic and analogy fail.
…and of course, I was completely tl;dr, and could have summarised far more glibly and reductively, by saying “Get back to me when it’s a criminal offence to be drunk while in charge of a penis, kthxbye”.
Breaking news: man has been charged with the rape and murder of Jill Meagher in Melbourne, he is assisting police with finding her body.
I’m sure many of us had a bad feeling about this for a while now – how awful for her family, friends and colleagues.
The guy who’s so worried about being thought a sex offender? I want to put him in a sensory deprivation box with nothing but a pair of speakers shouting, “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU” over and over and over again.
Also, lauredhel’s tl;dr comment. Bwahaha. Too true.
Awesome post comment. I hope he actually takes the time to read it and think about it instead of just reacting. Even if he doesn’t, hopefully there are some who will.
Ed’s engaging with our comments on his blog, Eden. He appears to be making an honest attempt to grok our point of view. Expanding one’s viewpoints can be a difficult process.
I was thinking of making a comment to the effect that all women are effectively Schrodingers “stupid slut” (apologies for the language) because the moment anything happens it is our fault for being there. Given that women live with this reality everyday, moreso for some women than others depending on your level of privilege, is it so bad that blokes – who have a clue – might temporarily feel crap because a woman nearby is assessing their threat level to her?
Moderator note: now that an arrest has been made in the Meagher case, HaT has a responsibility under Australian law as a publisher to avoid posting any potentially prejudicial material about the accused while the matter is sub judice.
I’m sure that the social media blitz from media-savvy friends of Meagher’s (and friends of friends), ensuring wide coverage in the MSM, assisted the police in making such a quick arrest (which makes you wonder about all those other sudden disappearance cases which don’t get such coverage). The flip side is that a similar flurry of reportage about the accused could risk the success of his prosecution. The blog’s moderation filters have been adjusted accordingly.
as the author of said piece, I just want to say that I totally get what you’re all saying and I was probably hasty in putting my thoughts on paper.
In no way am I suggesting women need to change their behaviour, and I don’t want to make this about ME or MEN. I guess I just feel like, as a guy who’s as torn up about this as women are, that I don’t want this to turn into a discussion of being afraid of men. Most of us are OK. I wrote a separate piece about my desire for women to feel safe the day before, if that helps off context.
Ed, I get that you’re upset about this case. I’m glad that you’re upset about this case, because that makes you a human with compassion.
But what you don’t get to do is dictate how other people are processing and discussing their own fear and grief.
I haven’t read your posts, and I am replying only to your comment above that you “don’t want this to turn into a discussion of being afraid of men”.
If what we are talking about doesn’t apply to you, then it doesn’t apply to you. If you don’t like the content of a particular discussion, okay, go and talk to someone who feels the same. But don’t tell others to stop talking about their genuine fear and distress, and their own lived realities. That, Ed, is selfish and callous, and is in fact making it “all about you”.
Jet, I’m sorry you feel that way. I was never looking to tell people how to feel, or what to say. I was acknowledging that the discussion that happens in the wake of this is important. That discussion is already underway, and I was offering my thoughts, that it’s not about men, it’s about some men who do awful things.
I don’t agree that I should simply go and speak to people who agree with me (even though I don’t think we disagree on the key issue here, that women should not have to be afraid on our streets) – we’re all here to share thoughts and ideas, no?
Anyway, I obviously never meant to belittle people’s grief. I apologise.
Ed says, “Most of us are OK.” Actually, you (plural) aren’t. If you think of how many men rape, how many men sexually harrass, how many men beat, how many men emotionally abuse, that’s a significant chunk of the male population. Then think of how many men excuse that behaviour because “he’s a good guy” or “he was stressed” or “he was drunk or wasted”. Then think of how many men don’t even understand issues of consent, don’t even understand that their “sex” was in fact rape (no, I’m not saying all sex is rape). At least half of the male population probably have done one of these things. So, not all those acts are “violent” as many people understand them, but really, all are violence against women and most perpetrators act more than once, against more than one woman. Most women who’ve experienced this have experienced more than one event by more than one man. This is a hugely under reported problem.
Women are not paranoid. We live this everyday. We have to assess every man we come in contact with. He might be fine. Or. He might not hear “no” when we say we don’t want to have a drink. He might be persistent and we have to think how to handle this guy. We might let him put his arm around us because we’re scared he’ll get violent. So our bodily integrity is violated and we don’t act because we don’t want to inflame the situation. We might watch how all the other men on the street ignore what’s going on. We might be scared the other men may join in. We might “fight” and be abused or he might back down. Even when no attack takes place we feel the fear and the stress. We take the blame which is not ours.
Violent men often approach just like a nonviolent man. They’ll make a polite conversation opener. So your nonthreatening is potentially very threatening. We have to be on guard all the time. All the time.
Women are not exaggerating.
Women are not being too cautious.
Women are not being too sensitive.
You don’t like being considered a potential rapist? Get over it because it’s way worse to be the potential rape victim.
You don’t like being considered a potential threat? Then think about your behaviour. Think about the behaviour of other men. Don’t make excuses, don’t be an apologist. Be a man who actively works against violence towards women.
The “you” is directed to any man reading this. If you’re already a true ally, congratulations and big love.
This sort of taking of offence does tend to occur when companies or people publicly admit to doing this though. For example, although you’ll see companies admit that theft from customers is a problem and they use everything from plain clothes security guards to follow people to surveillance cameras to watch everyone, you won’t see the CEO of David Jones publicly say that they treat every customer as a Schroedinger Thief – because some customers will be offended. And employees certainly complain about policies which imply they’re thieves, even if it is a real problem for employers.
Think back to the recent controversy of airlines not sitting men next to young children, treating all men as schroedinger-paedophiles. It’s been happening for years, but the airlines keep very quiet about it because they know people will be offended by the policy. But even now I doubt the policy will change unless they are forced to by law.
I’m male, but if I’m out alone late at night I treat strangers as Shroedinger-Muggers. Especially homeless looking people who ask me for money. Is that really fair to homeless people in general? Probably not, but I was assaulted once by a couple of homeless looking people who first asked for some money, and as a result that’s how I behave now.
IIRC humans are generally pretty bad at behaving consistently with high impact, but low probability events compared to lower impact but common events. Thus, we end up with really strong anti-terrorist freedom-crushing related laws that pre-9/11 we would not have accepted as a community.
In general I’ve absolutely no problem with people making these sorts of decisions as individuals. In the vast majority of cases it causes absolutely no harm to others. But its a similar sort of attitude that leads to parents asking that male carers don’t change their babies nappies or driving their kids to school instead of letting them walk or letting them play in the park alone which was really common when I was young. It does reduce the risk of something very bad happening even if its a very small reduction, but its not always without cost.
I’ve been thinking about this since I read this piece last night.
I am a straight, white cisgendered woman.
Whenever I first meet a gay person, I assume that they will assume I’m homophobic until I prove otherwise, so I try to prove otherwise as quickly and non-obnoxiously as I can.
Whenever I first meet a person of color, I assume that they will assume I’m racist until I prove otherwise, so I try to prove otherwise as quickly and non-obnoxiously as I can.
Whenever I first meet a trans* or genderqueer person, I assume that they will assume I’m transphobic until I prove otherwise, so I try to prove otherwise as quickly and non-obnoxiously as I can.
This just seems like basic human decency to extend to people who have valid fears about being belittled, attacked, or killed because of who they are.
I’m thinking that the more unexamined privilege you have, the more annoyed you are when asked to accommodate other people’s realities. (Now that I type that out, it seems pretty obvious, actually.)
Exactly. What was that Margaret Atwoood quote?
“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”
The very fact of male privilege means that men and women do not have equal power.
This reads like a veiled attempt at establishing consensus on the equality of all parties involved, but all parties are never equal when a man enters a feminist discussion. Men are so accustomed to their privilege and have no idea the way it affects people without it. It’s like someone with a sledgehammer for a hand walks into a china shop, then says innocently; “What’s the problem?” when the shopkeeper seems nervous.
Ed: your choices are: living in world where women are doing rape and sexual harrassment threat assessment all the time and you know about it, or living in world where women are doing rape and sexual harrassment threat assessment all the time and you are ignorant (willfully or not).
Telling women to stop doing it is somewhat like telling poor people to stop being poor. Yes, it’s probably unpleasant to learn this fact about the world, but that’s not our problem, or our obligation to make the world more like you would like it to be. Fix the system, the men who make women feel unsafe.
Actually, I’m noticing a lot of iterations of this game recently: someone learning an unpleasant fact about the world and, well, blaming the victims. Eg Atheism+ is ‘divisive’, not the harrassers and apologists who’ve been trying to drive women away from mainstream (boys’ club) atheism.
MrRabbitts post begins as being pretty offensive and the statistics don’t back up your claims regarding the percentage of men that commit acts of sexual violence. Your feelings regarding it’s commonality aren’t as important as the statistical reality, otherwise those innocent but ignorant men who don’t have a clue as to the real extent of sex crimes would have opinions as valid as your own, so best keep it in lines with what is known. The rest of your post is reasonably constructive.
Jet’s very condescending and attempts to suggest that Ed can’t frame the debate but she can, which is a sure fire way to get people to ignore you. Don’t do it.
Quixoute suggests that men’s own fears around rape, and being accused are irrelevant. Id say they are a big part of the solution to making men wake up and stop putting themselves in situations that could see them commit or be accused of rape. The balance of getting woman to come out and report sex crimes and protecting innocent men is a hard and our justice system requires the accused be proven guilty. Don’t belittle what the falsely accused go through, it will save you some grief debating over uncommon ground.
Behaviour modification is fine, everyone who is at least a little conscientious does it every day, I don’t see the need to specifically modify my behaviour around a lone strange woman and some woman might object saying I don’t understand and that I am living some white male delusion, but I’m pretty thoughtful and already give them plenty of time and space, men and woman that is.
The a problem with the SR concept is that if the potential victim is living with a particular fear of getting raped then they aren’t likely to notice men modifying their behaviour all that much. Unless we are talking about a particularly vocal, physical and in your face type of male who wouldn’t be acting in that way if he was at all conscientious. Which brings us to MrRabbits idea that potential rapist is passive and non threatening, in which case my behaviour becomes irrelevant to your real feeling of safety and I can’t help you.
In general I still think the idea of being able to define a set of rules and guidelines as to which men and woman can socially interact is archaic and backwards, it would be impossible to get some sought of consensus on what is acceptable and even harder to implement not just for men but for woman who might disagree.
And I’ve got very little time for A+. They are a bunch of socialist alliance types don’t have a political home in the USA, but still call themselves liberals when they are are everything but Liberal.
mjd, did you have any point to offer other than that you think every woman here is wrong?
is the point, which is that there’s no point in any laws except property laws?
I could be mistaken.
It is really difficult to get accurate statistics on how many men:
Force, cajole, coerce or manipulate sex (nonconsensual sex, rape)
Sexually assault women, including unwanted grabbing, touching
Make unwanted sexual comments
Pester women for phone numbers, personal details
Refuse to hear “no” when asked to go on a date
Shove, hit, punch, choke
Sexually harass women
Make unwanted advances and get upset when rebuffed, becoming abusive
Loudly comment on women’s bodies in public
Shout from cars at women
Make sexual gestures at women in public
Approach women late at night whom they don’t know hoping for sex, especially as they are walking home or waiting for public transport
Expose themselves to women
Drug women or encourage a woman to drink to make sex “easier” (rape, sex without consent)
Expect sex after a date or just because the person they are approaching is female
Rub up against women deliberately esp on the train or bus
Threaten physical or sexual violence
Have “sex” without consent
Scare a woman alone at night for fun
Follow a woman home
Stalk a woman
Make harassing phone calls, tweets, facebook messages, emails
Kiss a woman they don’t know without consent
Write a woman’s phone number in a public place and encourage men to call her for sex.
I know I haven’t covered everything. But you add up the spectrum of violence towards women and that is not a minority of the male population. There are lots of men who don’t do these things; there are lots who do. They do it, not because of some innate male nature but because people make excuses for this spectrum of behaviour, they hide the extent of this behaviour and they refuse to acknowledge the prevalence of this behaviour. I am talking about the whole range of these behaviours, not just the most violent or sensationalist. The sad everyday reality of these behaviours.
What I find offensive @mjd, is how prevalent these behaviours are and how we, as a community, downplay the lived experience of women in a male dominated world. And how we downplay how many men are engaging in these behaviours. And how many men cover for the other men doing these things.
I just thought I’d mark the point where I stopped reading mjd’s comment, as it became clear we have a nice, shiny Mens Rights Activist in our midst.
I will believe there is a large problem with false reports of rape when the number of “false accusation” cases overwhelms the number of reported rapes which aren’t prosecuted because there isn’t the likelihood of getting an actual conviction. Let’s make this clear: “not enough chance of a conviction” doesn’t mean the rape didn’t happen. What it means is there might not be a way of proving one particular guy committed the crime (even though the crime occurred).
To take an analogy from property law (where mjd might be a bit more comfortable): my partner and I had our car stolen from our home. I apprehended the thieves in the process of taking it, but wasn’t able to stop them, or get a very good look at them. We got the car back about two days later. Nobody was arrested for this crime, or charged with it.
Our car was still stolen. There were still two people involved in taking it (one of whom ran away, and the other of whom drove off in the car). The crime still occurred, it’s just that the police didn’t have enough evidence to charge anyone with it.
The same thing can happen in the case of rape. A rape can occur, a person can be violated in a very personal manner, and there can be evidence gathered which proves a crime occurred. But charges may not be able to be laid or proven, either because the person involved isn’t listed in a database yet, or because while there is evidence, it isn’t the correct type. In Scottish law, there is a verdict of “not proven” for some offences (such as murder). “Not proven” basically translates to “we know it happened; we know this person seems to be a pretty good fit for the crime, but we can’t prove it beyond all shadow of possible doubt to this particular jury”. If this verdict were available for rape cases, I think you’d see a lot more of them prosecuted.
Driving in a car you want safety messures for yourself, so you put on a seatbelt… I’m not mad if a woman doesn’t enter an elevator if I’m the only person currently in it. But it won’t stop me catching an elevator with a woman in it.
Like I don’t expect a group of young drunk people to change the path they are walking just for me to feel safe, even though I’ve been beaten up twice already in my life by a group of thugs. I don’t expect a muslim to change flights, I don’t expect a black man to avoid me, if it makes me feel unsafe, I’m responsible to do sth about it.
Way to completely miss the point Anon.
Did you get blamed for the thugs beating you up Anon, do you get blamed if you are on a plane that gets hijacked, do you get blamed if a
blackPOC person doesn’t avoid you? No you fucking don’t.
If a woman gets raped does she get the blame or does the rapist? If you think the rapist gets the blame I have a lovely bridge over Sydney Harbour to sell you.
Do you see the difference Anon?
This. So much this.