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Female Experience Simulator
August 3, 2013 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Good morning! Isn't it a beautiful day to be a woman?
posted by Foci for Analysis (370 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Subtle.
posted by R. Schlock at 4:40 PM on August 3, 2013 [28 favorites]


posts like this make we wish we could still embed images in the comment threads.
posted by H. Roark at 4:41 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would post a photo of myself in a short demin skirt with a strappy top.

Which is why the option was taken away in the first place.
posted by R. Schlock at 4:42 PM on August 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


Is "minger" a common insult in the UK?
posted by Apropos of Something at 4:42 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stupid. Because I would never go home and start again. He might have to but not me, nope.
posted by maggieb at 4:45 PM on August 3, 2013 [31 favorites]


Is "minger" a common insult in the UK?

Definitely in Scotland - common enough to be understood, anyway. It means someone unattractive.

This would have seemed unrealistic to me a while ago, but I've been following @everydaysexism for some time.
posted by liquidindian at 4:53 PM on August 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is harder than the Kobayashi Maru.
posted by cazoo at 4:56 PM on August 3, 2013 [36 favorites]


I thought "Kobayashi Maru" would be a combination of the badass from "The Usual Suspects" and my favorite Internet Cat. No such luck.
posted by scose at 4:59 PM on August 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.
posted by jammy at 5:01 PM on August 3, 2013 [24 favorites]


A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

I get the reference but I guess the winning move is to not leave the house at all. Forever. Damn.
posted by naju at 5:04 PM on August 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Stupid. Because I would never go home and start again. He might have to but not me, nope.


A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.



I guess this means I should just not be a women! If that is the way to win hahaha. But I generally found this game to be absurd. Women get sexually harassed occasionally and it is wrong, but I do not think it is that prevalent or obvious and as maggieb said you wouldn't just go home and cry. So this in no way simulates what it is like to be a women. I find most men to be nice and appropriate.
posted by Jaelma24 at 5:07 PM on August 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


Women get sexually harassed occasionally

But the potential for being sexually harassed exists every day as soon as you step out of the front door. Every woman doesn't get sexually harassed every day. But women get sexually harassed every day.
posted by billiebee at 5:13 PM on August 3, 2013 [48 favorites]


This is currently the topmost item in my Contact Activity sidebar: Advice about "not putting yourself in that situation" does not and should not apply when that situation is "Ordering a sandwich" or "Being at work" or - dare I say - walking around being female.

The fact that this even had to be said means that I think this game falls under Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped.
posted by kagredon at 5:13 PM on August 3, 2013 [22 favorites]


I took one trip through and saw the only option was "try again" when I know my wife would have left some teeth on the pavement, and I knew this wasn't realistic.
posted by localroger at 5:16 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I kept looking for the HEY ASSHOLE GO FUCK YOURSELF link but it never showed up.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:16 PM on August 3, 2013 [56 favorites]


I get that the point is to talk about the prevalence of sexism and the inability to avoid it regardless of what choices you make, but the 'game' seems like it makes this point by denying agency entirely, sort of saying "you are a fragile porcelain doll who is irreperably damaged by any and all contact with the world" to support the foregone conclusion.
posted by anazgnos at 5:17 PM on August 3, 2013 [30 favorites]


I knew this wasn't realistic

It's not only 'not realistic', it's actively disempowering. Why is this crap still on the front page?
posted by R. Schlock at 5:17 PM on August 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


Is "minger" a common insult in the UK?

It's common enough that I recognize it here across the pond from its use in British television alone. It means an ugly person. Rhymes with winger, not whinger. From minging, apparently a corruption of the Scots mingin, stinking. (The far more directly sexual-harrassment-y minge, with the other kind of g, is unrelated.)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:18 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would like to see this turned around. You know:

You are a man, walking down the street, you see a woman. Do you
A) Shout something at her?*
B) Leer at her?**
C) Go about your business?***

* You are a dick. Fuck off and die
** You are a dick. Grow up.
*** Keep up the minimal good work

You know, that sort of thing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:20 PM on August 3, 2013 [47 favorites]


Also missing

Stomp on his cell phone
Middle finger
Mace
Withering comeback

Seriously anything but run home and change your clothes because ain't nobody got time for that


and

any wardrobe items I would actually conceivably wear
posted by louche mustachio at 5:22 PM on August 3, 2013 [23 favorites]


I did not interpret this as "You got sexually harassed so go home and cry you little baby." I interpreted it as "That set of options resulted in sexual harassment, so start again and see what a new set of options results in." And, since all options result in sexual harassment, it demonstrates that harassment has absolutely nothing to do with what a woman did leading up to it.

Subtle

Apparently too subtle.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:28 PM on August 3, 2013 [101 favorites]


Captain Obvious, everybody.
posted by R. Schlock at 5:29 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


actively disempowering

I don't understand this. At least, I don't understand if you mean that the game is actively disempowering. I understand that sexual harassment is disempowering.

Are you arguing that the game should have options to respond to the harassment? Because the point I took away from this is how prevalent it is and how it happens no matter the player's choices. Adding in choices to respond would detract from the point - it's not up to women to respond to change this, it's up to men to stop doing this.

(Argh I'm now another bloke on the internet arguing about women's issues as if we need another one of those)
posted by liquidindian at 5:33 PM on August 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


How annoying. Being harassed doesn't hurt my self esteem. It makes me think certain people are gross idiots.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:34 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Because the point I took away from this is how prevalent it is and how it happens no matter the player's choices.

That's how I experienced it too.
posted by KathrynT at 5:34 PM on August 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


Disempowering? To whom, I wonder. Women, who, by nature of being women, have no use for a FES beyond wry entertainment? Men, who, once they're done with the simulator, can just go out into the world and everything goes back to normal? I honestly don't see your point.

Also, on preview, calling Bunny "Captain Obvious" is just rich beyond words.
posted by tigrrrlily at 5:35 PM on August 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


He is at the very least a lieutenant colonel. This denigration of the bunny army cannot be allowed to continue.
posted by elizardbits at 5:38 PM on August 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Okay, I get it. I guess it's "No Consciousness Raising Exercise Left Behind" night in MetaFilter.

Rock on.
posted by R. Schlock at 5:39 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Kinda stupid since the first list of clothing choices doesn't include anything I would ever wear.
posted by unSane at 5:40 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I was lost at the lack of option for "old metal band T-shirt and cargo shorts from Old Navy."
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:44 PM on August 3, 2013


Tumblr has been leaking into Metafitler quite a bit lately.

It's the tubes, they leak.
posted by localroger at 5:44 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's more obnoxious as a woman playing because it seems really simplistic and hastily thrown together. I can see that yes, they want to show that the point is that a woman can be harrassed wearing anything, but then it doesn't do much to make you empathize with the character you're supposed to be. I can see something like this being effective if it were fleshed out and better written.


Also, again speaking as a woman, seriously, the wardrobe is absurd. Who wears a cocktail dress and heels during the day?
posted by louche mustachio at 5:45 PM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


The message seems to be HAHA ANYTHING YOU WEAR YOU ARE A VICTIM AMIRITE.
posted by unSane at 5:48 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also missing

Stomp on his cell phone
Middle finger
Mace
Withering comeback


I know what you're saying. But for me the point isn't what the reaction to the harassment is. It's that it happened at all, and you had no choice in the matter, and nothing you wore and no place you went prevented it.

So we can say we'd punch his lights out/stomp on his phone/mace him, but they're all illegal where I live so I can't. And I can swear at him and give him the finger, but so what? He'll probably laugh, and I'll get madder, and ill have to keep on my way, seething and feeling a bit dirty. There is no getting back at him or getting even, I just have to get over it.

The disempowering thing isn't how strong or not your comeback is, it's that you're forced to make one at all no matter what you do. And the game is just a very simple way of pointing that out, obviously. But I don't get why that's such a bad thing?
posted by billiebee at 5:48 PM on August 3, 2013 [23 favorites]


Also, again speaking as a woman, seriously, the wardrobe is absurd. Who wears a cocktail dress and heels during the day?

This guy!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:49 PM on August 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


I interpreted it as "That set of options resulted in sexual harassment, so start again and see what a new set of options results in." And, since all options result in sexual harassment, it demonstrates that harassment has absolutely nothing to do with what a woman did leading up to it.

Actually, all the game demonstrates is that it has nothing to do with what you wear. Because the only options the game offers are to go home and change your clothes and try to feel better about yourself- as if the only response to this kind of shit is to open up the closet and peruse the wardrobe. Does anyone do that? Women don't need this game to teach them that being harassed has very little to do with what you're wearing. If men are so out of touch that they need to play a silly game to understand it, then what's going to stop them thinking that women IRL respond to being groped by blowing off work and going home to change?
posted by oneirodynia at 5:50 PM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


although yes with the wardrobe, short skirt or unicorn t-shirt what
posted by billiebee at 5:51 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, everything was "strappy," "short," "cute," and "unicorn."


Yeah, I was lost at the lack of option for "old metal band T-shirt and cargo shorts from Old Navy."



Switch "shorts" to "pants" and "Old Navy" to "random thrift store" and I can tell you pretty exactly how you will be harrassed.

You will be walking home from work and a dude will roll down his window and yell "HEY CAN I SMELL YOUR PUSSY" and then you say "what the fuck dude it's eight in the morning."
posted by louche mustachio at 5:51 PM on August 3, 2013 [41 favorites]


The point is that no matter what she wears, she still gets harassed.

This is a true point and one that victim-blamers need to understand.

I've been harassed wearing unwashed sweatpants, with dirty unbrushed hair and teeth and not having slept all night.

The point is that there is nothing a woman can do to avoid "bringing it on herself", because she doesn't actually bring it on herself.
posted by windykites at 5:52 PM on August 3, 2013 [37 favorites]


What a great medium video games can be for lived experiences. Instead of rendering near godlike player characters, imagine giving the player choices, having them experience their own agency in a small but intricately detailed game world only to have that agency to be stripped away at every turn.

For example, imagine a typical sims game. The goals are things like going to work, choosing what kind of food to buy, improving your relationships, improving skills, saving money etc. Overall victory conditions are pinned to happiness. The aesthetics convey the emotions with smiles and fist-pumps. You get promoted, happiness goes up a few points. You break a leg, happiness goes down a few points. You lose a partner, etc.

You invest hours in this game, building your character up. You become attached to your homunculus. This is where most simulations end, with the homunculus successful and attractive and fully-skilled. It would be so simple to add a layer realism. For instance, add a random creep factor. Daily commute from work? Creep factor shows up with an ogling asshole who is obviously taking pictures of you with his cell phone. Your happiness drops, your comfort dips. You were going to go to night class but now you won't be promoted because your happiness levels suck. Take the night in to recover? Go to class for the long run? Wear different clothes? Bond with friends? Now there's tension and the choices, which were already difficult, are made moreso.

The factor is not every single day but it's pervasive. It's a D20 dice roll mechanic that exists lurking in the back of every scenario that robs the player of their control. Any game designer would tell you that this is a terrible idea. It's akin to having a Mario game where he loses lives and power-ups at random. Why did you even get the mushroom in the first place? It's just a super shitty, nearly impossible to control condition in an otherwise all right sim game. Which would be the point. But there's still a balance that favors what you can control over what you cannot.

The place where this game went wrong was that there is absolutely no player agency. You don't become invested if you can't do anything. So FES ends up being more manifesto than a game which is a shame because the message is on point but it just doesn't realize the potential of its medium. It's like a blunt version of Margaret Atwood's Happy Endings. There's power in the story but it's not yours.
posted by dubusadus at 5:53 PM on August 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Cocktail dresses etc: It's clothing that, in the minds of some, makes you 'deserving' of catcalls and other attention.

I know this because I remember a much younger me expressing the opinion, in a class discussion, that women should be more responsible about what they wear in certain places because it attracts the wrong element. Victim blaming, essentially.

So you can roll your eyes about how obvious this is if you want, but I know a guy (16yo me) who needed this sort of stuff spelled out to him.
posted by liquidindian at 5:56 PM on August 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


The place where this game went wrong was that there is absolutely no player agency. You don't become invested if you can't do anything.

Yes. And if options were given, then it could be demonstrated how wrong those sometimes go, and how genuinely frustrating it can be when nobody beleives you or takes you seriously.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:58 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Stomp on his cell phone
Middle finger
Mace
Withering comeback


I think for a longer game, it would also be appropriate to have some more options, but "fight" shouldn't be the only one, because it also paints a grossly incomplete picture. Sure, sometimes it's "yell 'fuck off'", but sometimes it would also have to be "smile and nod and look away hurriedly because you're alone and he's twice your size," or "walk away seething because you're too tired of this bullshit to even come up with a snappy retort." While it would be really cathartic to have a "punch him in the teeth" option, that misses the essential point that (a) fighting back isn't something you're always physically or emotionally equipped for and (b) even when it is, you're still going to wake up the next day, look in your wardrobe, and know that nothing you do can really make it stop.

(I did think the "go home and cry over your fragile bruised ego" was a little much, even as sarcasm. What would really make the game as it stands more effective is if on your first loop through, you just kind of shrugged it off as one asshole and went on with your day, and then each progressive loop would get you more and more sad and angry, kind of like the mechanic in Dysphoria City.)
posted by kagredon at 5:59 PM on August 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


I had enough problems just figuring out what to wear.

obviously taking pictures of you with his cell phone
What do you do about this? I've only had people take pictures of me on a couple of occasions, typically when traveling, but it really ticks me off and I don't just internalize it. I'd guess there is not much you can do without creating a scene.

Well, anyway, back to the simulation. I feel I'm very close to winning.
posted by relish at 6:06 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded of an earlier attempt to tackle street harrasment through a video game - only this one was a first person shooter game where you can shoot the guy who catcalls you. Which of course got a whole flutter of attention when it was first released.

But one of the most telling epiphanies I read about it came in the middle of the New York Times review of the game -

"And that is the point of Hey Baby. The men cannot ever actually hurt you, but no matter what you do, they keep on coming, forever. The game never ends. I found myself throwing up my hands and thinking, “Well what am I supposed to do?” Which is, of course, what countless women think every day."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 PM on August 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


I've been harassed wearing unwashed sweatpants, with dirty unbrushed hair and teeth and not having slept all night.

To be fair, the wedding invitations did say "formal attire is requested."
posted by ShutterBun at 6:09 PM on August 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


 > tell the guy to go fuck himself
Man calls you stupid slut, and worse. He might even get physically violent!
 > Stomp on his cell phone 
Man calls police. You deal with months of court crap because that's assault.
 > Middle finger
Man tells you where to put that finger.
 > Mace 
Congrats! Not only was it illegal for you to be carrying mace in your jurisdiction, now you are on the hook for assault charges!
 > Withering comeback
Thank god you you have a quick mind and made a witty joke about it! The man laughs and says he likes his women fiery.

In my experience, any response to sexual harassment usually escalates the situation. What diffuses it? Usually another man pointing out how inappropriate it is.
posted by frecklefaerie at 6:13 PM on August 3, 2013 [79 favorites]


I should clarify my comment above: I don't mean to imply that there's anything wrong with blowing off whatever and going home and being really upset after being sexually harassed. However this game makes it seem as if that's the only response for the average female, when I think that 95% of the time we have to try to pretend nothing happened and continue on to work or school or the bus stop or whatever. It's kind of a weird implication that women ever even get the opportunity to go home and change after an encounter with a creep. We have real jobs and real school and real responsibilities. No matter how icky or scared or angry any of us feel after being harassed, we still have shit to do. I think that's why this little exercise really rubbed me the wrong way.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:15 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, I hate that women have to deal with this, but I also hate being falsely tarred with the same brush.

I identify as male, and I like women and men. I DO NOT, and, to the best of my knowledge, have never done things like this EVER (not counting teasing SOs). But, according to the author, I do as I am not female.

So, IMO, such an important message fails. I suspect there was a better way to deliver this message.
posted by Samizdata at 6:22 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


But, according to the author, I do as I am not female.

Where does it say that?
posted by kagredon at 6:24 PM on August 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


A woman I knew I had the best anecdotal response to the subway guy who puts his hand on your ass. This anecdotal girl would grab the guy's hand and call out "I found a hand on my ass?" Doing that uplift thing you do when you are asking the general public if anybody lost a hand, she had found it on her ass.
posted by angrycat at 6:25 PM on August 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


Yes. And if options were given, then it could be demonstrated how wrong those sometimes go, and how genuinely frustrating it can be when nobody beleives you or takes you seriously.

Yeah. Whatever decision you make there's still a chance that it all goes to shit no matter what your choices are. You can tackle it like the Kobayashi Maru by downloading a cheat engine but otherwise it's just a persistent fuck you game condition that requires an inordinate amount of patience to deal with.
posted by dubusadus at 6:25 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I went through "I know where this is going" > "Oh, that was more abrupt than I expected" > "Fuck, this is annoying as shit" pretty quickly, and I mean that in a good way.

Speaking from a purely game design perspective, I would have couched the game within the expectation of there being some victory condition if you finish the day within six "moves" or so, and then added some other responses like people have suggested which ultimately just overrun your move allocation.
posted by lucidium at 6:26 PM on August 3, 2013


(but I unfortunately just got the crotch rubbers, and no way am I going to try that with some sick fiend's junk)
posted by angrycat at 6:26 PM on August 3, 2013


Guys who don't do crap like this should feel good not bad. There are plenty of you and I, for one, appreciate you very much. The point is that this behavior is so widespread and everyday that we must call it out whenever we can. Loud and proud and unafraid.
posted by maggieb at 6:29 PM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


The disempowering part of the game is when it says things like:

Surprise! You've been sexually harassed. You feel so embarrassed that you have to go home and cry to your cat.

Or

Uh-oh, you've attracted unwanted attention, otherwise known as sexual harassment. It's time to pick up the tattered remains of your self-confidence and go home.

Or

Oh no, you've been sexually harassed! You lose 100 self-esteem points and wish that the ground would open up and swallow you.

That's beyond ridiculous. It's not just "start over and see if you can avoid harassment." It's "one harassing comment and you wither away and have to go home, you fragile flower." This is so blatantly sexist--not even subtle--that I am amazed so few people seem to have noticed.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:30 PM on August 3, 2013 [66 favorites]


ha yeah that's what got me it treats women like wilting flowers and fuck that noise for reals.
posted by angrycat at 6:32 PM on August 3, 2013


That aspect of it is poorly written, I agree.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:36 PM on August 3, 2013


So: A few months ago, I was trying to decide what to wear when I was going to go take the mile walk to the grocery store. I had a "cute" outfit picked out that I wanted to wear that day anyway, but then I thought "but dudes might honk at me if I wear this!"

So I considered a couple of other options and realized it didn't matter -- dudes were going to honk at me regardless of what I wore! So I might as well wear the outfit I felt comfortable in.

Really: A lot of times it doesn't matter how you look or what you're wearing: If you're a woman out on her own, you're fair game for certain dudes. That's just life.

I'm of the mind that street harassment can't really be solved because the men doing it do not care. It's just a sad fact of life that if you're a woman and trying to walk somewhere to buy, say, dish soap, you're automatically on display. Responding to these men aren't going to stop them. It just makes you more of a target.

It's depressing, but I've accept that's just a fact of life. It's not a game you can win.
posted by darksong at 6:36 PM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Guys who don't do crap like this should feel good not bad.

I disagree. We should feel bad, because there are legions of guys who do this shit and it needs to stop. And if women feel bad because of this endless harassment, then I need to feel bad too.

It's "one harassing comment and you wither away and have to go home, you fragile flower.

No. Wrong. This is multiple times a day, every day. It's always disconcerting to hear female friends of mine tell me about how when they walk alone down some street that the two of us walk together, they get harassed. Like clockwork.

And the sad part about it is that the "fragile flower" thing is completely wrong, from what I hear. Women tell me they absorb it. They have to, to live. Here I am appalled and ready to go do something and it's like "oh that's not even close to the worst thing I get". But it still hurts. It's still a pain. It's still harassment.

I think the point was not to say that women are wilting flowers, it's as someone noted before, to say that there is no path outside of harassment. If this were a video game, you would have to go back to start. You can't get to your goal unscathed. Back to start.

On preview, darksong beat me to it.
posted by cashman at 6:38 PM on August 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Interesting. On the one hand, I want to like this little project because it actually is trying to make a real point and share an experience that we're not very good at talking about. But the whole message seems to be that it's "game over" if an immature schoolboy makes fun of you on your way to the gym or a construction worker makes catcalls when you walk under his scaffolding. Every time one jerk inserts himself into your life (and in this game, your life consists of nothing else besides fashion choices and jerks), you have to go home and cry about it while you change clothes. And that's just dumb.

Jerks suck and sexual harassment is a real problem, but this "game" doesn't begin to offer any alternate courses of action to try out. What if I could ignore the construction worker and carry on with my trip to the supermarket, just like I ignore other people who are jerks? What about telling off the naughty schoolboy and going to the frickin' gym like I wanted to in the first place? Would that be empowering or would the weight of dealing with that crap all the time be too exhausting? I don't know, and everyone is different, but I do know that giving up and going home every time someone on the street is a jerk to me is not the only way to live my [hypothetically female] life.

On preview: I see Pater Aletheias noticed this too!
posted by zachlipton at 6:40 PM on August 3, 2013


A game that represents a disempowering phenomenon, and wants to communicate it, needs to be disempowering, doesn't it? Maybe it's over-egged, but all games simplify.
posted by liquidindian at 6:42 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Every woman doesn't get sexually harassed every day. But women get sexually harassed every day.

What other situations can we use this line of reasoning?

Everybody doesn't get killed in a car wreck every day, but every day somebody dies in a car wreck.

Everybody doesn't get an ear infection every day, but every day somebody gets an ear infection.

Everybody doesn't eat a pound of ice cream every day, but every day somebody eats a pound of ice cream.

This sort of argument trivializes a very real problem.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:43 PM on August 3, 2013


If you don't do this, you can go ahead and feel good for yourself, but you can't feel good for the world, because it doesn't take a million guys doing this, it takes one guy in every fourth office. One guy on every tenth construction crew. It's not an indictment of men in general. It's an indictment of the idea that this is a problem that can be solved with different behavior on the woman's part. It doesn't matter how many options they gave you for the woman's behavior, IT CANNOT BE SOLVED WITH DIFFERENT BEHAVIOR ON THE WOMAN'S PART.

Given that, it's a bit more efficient to stick with just a couple options, the point isn't to have to play three hours to get the point across.

And you know what, just to get it out there: I haven't had this happen to me in a long time, but I have had it happen to me. And I went home and cried afterwards. Just to offset those people who either really are that bulletproof, or who think that they're totally going to just come up with a witty comeback in the moment. You shouldn't have to be bulletproof or have a witty comeback in the moment, just like you shouldn't have to wear sensible shoes and avoid public places.
posted by Sequence at 6:44 PM on August 3, 2013 [21 favorites]


For the people who only tried it once through, after my third try I was given the choice of Try Again or "Screw this, I give up." Clicking on the Give Up option leads to a screen with this text:

"Did you think that maybe if you changed your clothes or avoided certain places that you could avoid being harassed?

Yeah, it doesn't work like that.

Welcome to life as a woman."


So, yeah, not subtle, and clearly not a lot of depth for people who already get it, but I could see using this as a jumping-off point in a sexual harassment training, especially with young people. In a previous life I ran such things for college-aged audiences and we facilitators spent a lot of time on exactly this sort of hypothetical.
posted by camyram at 6:46 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


--not subtle, and clearly not a lot of depth--

So it clearly matches the problem it targets.
posted by peacay at 6:50 PM on August 3, 2013


I don't know if this is a talk about causes thread or story thread, but until it's clear, I'm going to mention something. I think most of us realize how much patriarchy influences the world, and much like racism it's blared out in all forms of media, but lately it has really been getting to me. It's like that broken glass thing. Once you really see it, you can't unsee it. It's easy to watch television and see many obvious sexist messages, and I've talked on metafilter before about how many men grow up and adopt these bs messages about what it means to be a man, but I guess it's just distressing to feel like it just keeps pouring over you in waves.

Last night I watched 3 or 4 shows. Not even counting commercials I channel surfed across, I watched a show where a woman was doing something 'stereotypically male' and a man was doing something 'stereotypically female' and in the end they resolved to switch to make life easier. It was essentially patriarchy pausing the screen and saying "stick to your gender roles. stick to your gender roles".

I flipped to a movie channel. That ridiculous movie with a bunch of SNL cast members was on. The one where Adam Sandler is Andy Samberg's dad. The moment I switched, Sandler was just in the middle of going to the bachelor part for his son (Andy). Upon finding out that it was going to be a calming massage, Sandler said the most ridiculous and horrible things to the female staff members (one played by Ana Gasteyer), and was just a boorish harasser. 3 minutes later, Ana Gasteyer's character said she wanted to have sex with Sandler's character. Again, patriarchy puts the video on pause and says "Ladies, you should be attracted to these boorish men. Men, this is how you can easily get women".

And so on. Flip to a different channel - same thing. Same messages. Just washing over you, again and again and again. So sick of this.
posted by cashman at 6:50 PM on August 3, 2013 [23 favorites]


I think the point was not to say that women are wilting flowers, it's as someone noted before, to say that there is no path outside of harassment. If this were a video game, you would have to go back to start. You can't get to your goal unscathed. Back to start.

And that's the point I think this game does more or less succeed at. It doesn't matter what choices you make; the game is rigged from the start by virtue of the pink background. This discussion raises a lot of questions about victim-blaming, and I that's where I feel the game leads us a little astray. The way the story is structured, it makes automatic the assumption that changing your clothes is the first and only thing you do. Now, after playing it through, it does challenge that assumption, but I'm not sure it challenges the automatic nature of that decision. Why is it that we jump immediately to the conclusion that we should wear something else to stop the harassment?

Maybe I'm just asking too much of a fairly simple online "game" though.
posted by zachlipton at 6:51 PM on August 3, 2013


I think the point was not to say that women are wilting flowers, it's as someone noted before, to say that there is no path outside of harassment. If this were a video game, you would have to go back to start. You can't get to your goal unscathed. Back to start.

To put it another way though, in this game, you can't get to your goal at all. You never get to the gym to get harassed on the treadmill or to the supermarket to get harassed while squeezing melons (which would also be showing life as a constant stream of harassment, and everyone's experience naturally differs). It's not that you lose HP or something, you give up constantly. And obviously, women can and do make it to the gym, the supermarket, their offices, and all the other awesome, mundane, and awful things people do in this world.
posted by zachlipton at 6:57 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The defeatist nature of the game is problematic for the issue it tries to illustrate. But here I am thinking as the woman I am so it bothers me. Perhaps it fires up men to step up the game against random harrassment. I don't see it that way but, hey, we are talking about it again so there's that.
posted by maggieb at 7:00 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here is some client software for creating your own stories (the original link to Twee was broken).

http://gimcrackd.com/etc/src/

I think creating an alternative story is the best form of critical response.
posted by mecran01 at 7:01 PM on August 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


No woman I know (well enough to make this judgement about, anyways) decides what to wear, and then decides where to go. It's ALWAYS the other way around. It's what took me 10 minutes to choose because I was thinking "well where could I possibly be going today?".
posted by ryanfou at 7:02 PM on August 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


I really hope people don't nitpick the thing so much they miss the point.
posted by cashman at 7:04 PM on August 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think creating an alternative story is the best form of critical response.

Yes, certainly. If someone catcalls you surely have a lot of options besides being crushed and going home and trying to change your clothes.
posted by unSane at 7:04 PM on August 3, 2013


*Defeatist = too few options , too quick to the inevitable end
posted by maggieb at 7:06 PM on August 3, 2013


--Why is it that we jump immediately to the conclusion that we should wear something else to stop the harassment? --

Because the harassment is, in a major sense, a product of the male gaze and it has been a tried and true defense against harassment and rape to turn the accusations around to the victim by making judgements about the role their clothes played in the incident.

I like this game because it is ultra-simple. It's only got the one message so all the fleshing out of stories for empathy and other dress choices and what about the destination and how come we can't kick 'em in the balls etc etc etc are irrelevant. In fact, if those or any of a million additional accoutrements were present, then the discussion would no doubt fracture into the relative propriety of each of those choices in the context of showing that the choice of dress has no influence on the harassment likelihood or outcome.

Because it's a simple message I don't feel it's defeatist. It's just a way to break through a few closed minds (hopefully) by sticking rigorously to the simple message.
posted by peacay at 7:06 PM on August 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


The fact that it only has one simple message also means that it only works on people who believe that simple message. Which does not make it a very convincing piece of rhetoric, which is presumably the aim.
posted by unSane at 7:10 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The fact that it only has one simple message also means that it only works on people who believe that simple message.

What? That doesn't follow at all.
posted by kagredon at 7:13 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


peacay, I see your point but it still p.o.'s me that it portrays women as weaker than we are and that is a bigger problem than dealing with sexual harrassment.
posted by maggieb at 7:16 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why? It's a classic preaching-to-the-converted trope.
posted by unSane at 7:16 PM on August 3, 2013


I should probably have said 'simplistic' and 'prepared to believe'
posted by unSane at 7:16 PM on August 3, 2013


Most of the women I know have learned not to let male gaze ruin their day. I cannot recall ever going home and crying after some creeper in a van bothered me (a fairly regular event for an attractive female).

The people that need the message will not see it.
posted by _paegan_ at 7:17 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe this was mentioned, but it really needs an option for women who get harassed about their weight. If you thought cat calls were bad for a woman's self-esteem...
posted by Brocktoon at 7:17 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


--it only works on people who believe that simple message--

Maybe so, but there are 2 alternatives: no game so no message or a more complicated game so the real message gets somewhat hidden. Repetitive learning is sometimes ok.

maggieb, I agree but don't know how to do both at once such that the message gets (any) traction.
posted by peacay at 7:19 PM on August 3, 2013


And no, a website will probably not have any effect on these types of men, but it has an effect on us, and perhaps we know men like this.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:19 PM on August 3, 2013


ARGH. Agreeing that the writing is just absolutely gross. From of the patronizing little "ermahgerd you're soooo cute and prancey and innocent" comments to the "your self-esteem was shattered! Let's go home and cry to your cat!", I absolutely refuse to believe that this is a coherent narrative of any woman's life.

Geez. If the goal of this game is to get men to see how women can be oppressed by a constant threat of sexual harassment, maybe pretending the internal monologue of a women involves nothing but clothing and appearance and being a completely shattered emotional being isn't the best way to do it?

For a game that tries to be feminist, it doesn't do a very good job of portraying women as people.
posted by Conspire at 7:20 PM on August 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


> tell the guy to go fuck himself

Man calls you stupid slut, and worse. He might even get physically violent!

> Stomp on his cell phone

Man calls police. You deal with months of court crap because that's assault.

> Middle finger

Man tells you where to put that finger.

> Mace

Congrats! Not only was it illegal for you to be carrying mace in your jurisdiction, now you are on the hook for assault charges!

> Withering comeback

Thank god you you have a quick mind and made a witty joke about it! The man laughs and says he likes his women fiery.



See? There are LOTS of ways to not win the game if you don't have the option of running home to change. Wait, you can also talk to the police, who will scold you for walking by yourself, or tell your friends who think you are making it up. There are so many levels of suck to explore!

Come with me
And you'll see
A whole world
of gross humiliation
Take a whirl
and you'll feel
my anger and frustration...

posted by louche mustachio at 7:29 PM on August 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Who wears a cocktail dress and heels during the day?

Female newscasters in Los Angeles.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:38 PM on August 3, 2013


I prefer louche mustachio's version of the game. As it stands, the people who need to learn a lesson about this will always have a mental "out" of saying, "that character seems like a weeping willow...well, why not just do x or y or z?" It really is a problem of the simulation, that it doesn't already have snappy answers for that kind of reaction.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:43 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


At its core, sexual harassment is a form of bullying. Its about the power imbalance that exists between a male and female and how the power-wielding party (mostly males but sometimes females as well) takes advantage of the situation.

The best way to end bullying is to either remove the power imbalance (longer term) or to ensure that there are consequences to the bullying (short term).

Looking at the link with that sense, its correct in pointing out that sexual harassment is not about what you wear but more about the power imbalance that exists but its a bit disappointing because it kinda assumes (and may be even reinforces) that power imbalance is perpetual and unavoidable.

I think the link has sort of self limited itself when it would have been so much more easier to expand upon the thought and turn it into something empowering, positive and helpful.

weak sauce for FPP if I may say so.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 7:45 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


So the message of the game is that there is that there are no even remotely successful strategies to combat sexual harassment. Empowering!
posted by unSane at 7:49 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The people that need the message will not see it.

The Everquest thread today considered discussing the blatant objectification of women in the game a derail. The framing was a gushing RPS article that had a single sentence devoted to sexist representations amidst all of the free advertising it was giving along with a link to the Everquest Next site. Some commenters were talking about how they felt playing the game as a woman, how the game was a product of male fantasy, how lived experience helps to understand the importance of both banal and suberversive sexism in games like Everquest. There was also the typically banal gamer defense that 'the dudes are also ripped so objectification is okay' and a weird comment about 'this is for the lesbians' getting torn to shreds. All that was considered off-topic. On-topic was MMORPG mechanics and whether or not the game would be fun. Got to have a safe space for white males gamers because god knows they don't get that everywhere they go.

I'm beginning to understand the need to have moments where you just vent over shit like this.
posted by dubusadus at 7:49 PM on August 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


The Everquest thread today considered discussing the blatant objectification of women in the game a derail.

No, it didn't. Some commenters did. To identify them with 'the thread' grants them power they did not otherwise have. Why would you do this?
posted by unSane at 7:51 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just played through again, and not all of the scenarios end in the lead going home to weep. When you hit "try again", you're brought back to the start of the game, which is at home at the wardrobe.

I can think of a few people who should play this game. They are all women who aren't feminists and aren't aware of issues, they're too immersed in the culture.

And on a second more thorough playthrough, I appreciate this game even more. I think it's wonderfully well done- but haters gonna hate and beanplaters gonna beanplate.
posted by windykites at 7:53 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The link I included in the sentence 'All of this was considered off-topic' goes to a comment Cortex made. I'm making the same point you are.
posted by dubusadus at 7:53 PM on August 3, 2013


No, you're not.
posted by unSane at 7:59 PM on August 3, 2013


I liked the game. I think I would have liked it even better if it were less subtle. Like if instead of telling the player that they feel like crying, it admonished the player for playing badly.
posted by Courage is going from failure to failure at 8:08 PM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, unSane, I'm going to bed. Sorry if you were offended or if I misrepresented the thread. I meant the best.
posted by dubusadus at 8:10 PM on August 3, 2013


It's too lame. I honor the intention, lament the execution. The impact will be minimal.
posted by Miko at 8:13 PM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's bad form to talk about sexism in video game and in hip hop threads. It's a thing here that happens regularly, and it's probably not because those of us who disrupt these threads give them "power".
posted by Brocktoon at 8:15 PM on August 3, 2013


So the message of the game is that there is that there are no even remotely successful strategies to combat sexual harassment. Empowering!

What strategies do you think it should illustrate?
posted by kagredon at 8:23 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suppose the male equivalent is showing up to your office and being forced out of a leadership position by the Board of Directors.

But, the produce aisle at the local grocery store could definitely be a challenge.
posted by four panels at 8:27 PM on August 3, 2013


I backtracked to the main post Alyson Macdonald made to announce the game, which she says she created after this post on Rock Paper Shotgun got her thinking. The comments (I know, "never read the comments") are illuminating. There's the person wanting to know if they can play as the aggressor, accusations of sexism towards men, flat-out sexual harassment/rape threats, variations on "shut up, women have it easy", "this is why women don't belong in the video game industry", faux-feminist comments that use "womyn" a lot and joke about hyperbolic responses to imagined harassment, and accusations of "whining", being a "bitch", and not having the intelligence to create a "real" game. If somebody had posted "take your boobs and go home" I would've had a BINGO.

And this is just what people were willing to say publicly. As I said in my previous comment, this game certainly has its flaws, but I applaud the woman who created it for doing so when as a blogger she probably knows very well what often happens to women having opinions in public. Sometimes you just get annoyed and want to make a point, not change the world, and I'm willing to hold this to the Making a Point standard.
posted by camyram at 8:39 PM on August 3, 2013 [21 favorites]


Thanks, camyram, for chasing it back. You validate peacay.
posted by maggieb at 8:44 PM on August 3, 2013


I prefer louche mustachio's version of the game.

I am sure I will have more to add to it, as it is a balmy night and I will be waiting for the bus downtown at midnight after work.

Experienced being catcalled by a pink and purple zebra-striped bus full of drunken bachelor party! It's amazing.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:45 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Most women probably don't go home and cry after every single time they are harassed. This game should have mentioned that they felt embarrassed/like shit/scared/humiliated, BUT still had to go about their day and go to work and buy food to eat, and then continue to get docked "self-esteem points" as they go about their day running into construction workers catcalling. Maybe point out that by the end of the day they lock themselves in their homes and drink.

Unfortunately, women bring this upon themselves by simply being women and existing at all. And presumably, we should just be rolling over on the sidewalk and spreading our legs for the random creep to fuck us right then and there or something.

I get where they are going with this, and given how cheap it looks, maybe they couldn't afford more nuance in the "game." It makes its point. Just kind of anviliciously. At the very least, it needs to clarify that the point of its game is to leave the house without getting one catcall all day.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:46 PM on August 3, 2013


What strategies do you think it should illustrate?

I've no idea. But it seems defeatist and sexist to suggest there are none.
posted by unSane at 8:46 PM on August 3, 2013


Experienced being catcalled by a pink and purple zebra-striped bus full of drunken bachelor party! It's amazing.

I wish....
posted by maggieb at 8:47 PM on August 3, 2013


I've no idea. But it seems defeatist and sexist to suggest there are none.

But there are none, or at least none that are effective on the micro level, as executed by an individual woman trying to go about her business. That's the fucking point of the game.
posted by kagredon at 8:52 PM on August 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


Okay, that may not sound right. Where I live the harrassment is more personal. I have experienced it in urban settings, in this country's cities and abroad. Being catcalled from a garish bus is more likely to make me laugh. I am fail sometimes....
posted by maggieb at 8:53 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


But there are none, or at least none that are effective on the micro level, as executed by an individual woman trying to go about her business. That's the fucking point of the game.


Is that the consensus feminist position these days?
posted by unSane at 9:00 PM on August 3, 2013


I don't know if there is such a thing as a "consensus feminist position", but I do think that there are many, many women, including plenty in this thread, who have personally grappled with this problem, and if there were actually some magic bullet that would stop guys from harassing us on the street, one of us would've maybe found it by now.

It's pretty telling that upthread you characterized people "prepared to believe" the message of the game as being part of "the choir". Your unwillingness to listen does not signify a problem with the message.
posted by kagredon at 9:02 PM on August 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Your unwillingness to listen does not signify a problem with the message.

I'm not unwilling to listen. The message is unpersuasive.
posted by unSane at 9:08 PM on August 3, 2013


Even though your "counterargument" is "I don't know". Got it.
posted by kagredon at 9:09 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


You win. You're fucked.
posted by unSane at 9:14 PM on August 3, 2013


This always comes down to this. Females, before race issues or anything else, have been seen as lesser than within the society of humans (with very few exceptions.) Why do you think black females are on the lowest of the totem pole for many criteria? Once we recognize and begin to rectify this fact we might find some equity.
posted by maggieb at 9:19 PM on August 3, 2013


If only I could bootstrap myself into a more equal society, huh unSane? I'd like that, too. I'd also like a unicorn.
posted by kagredon at 9:23 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just think the background is important.
posted by maggieb at 9:30 PM on August 3, 2013


I really wish I knew why my experiences as a woman are so different than everyone else's here.

I've done all the same things - taken public transportation, gone to gyms and coffee shops and work. I've walked along busy streets late at night wearing short skirts and fishnets.

I have NEVER been catcalled or sexually harassed.

I can count on three fingers the number of times in the last ten years a stranger has tried to ask me out, and each time it ended with me saying that I was married, the guy in question going "oh, that's a bummer, oh well" and each of us going on our merry way.

The only possibilities I can come up with are that either I look like a guy, every single person in my life that I have ever encountered is decent and enlightened, or it does happen and I'm just oblivious to it.
posted by Lucinda at 9:36 PM on August 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


--The message is unpersuasive.--

WTF?!?!! The message is: females get harassed sometimes and that it has nothing to do with the choice of their clothing before leaving home. Do you HEAR ok?? Do you need that r.e.p.e.a.t.e.d??

unSane, you eponysterical hipster you, it's not a fucking argument where you need to be persuaded; think of it as a presentation by someone belonging to a group that is not you about what a tiny smidge of their life is like. So, either you are calling the game maker (and women - and men - who line up behind her, as well as commonbloodysense) a liar or you are now into trolling territory.
posted by peacay at 9:36 PM on August 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


That's right as a bloke I am either a sex predator or pedophile. Where in fact most guys I know are definitely not either. I feel offended by these types do "games" but I guess that is the point.
posted by Aedo55 at 9:38 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


kagredon: "But, according to the author, I do as I am not female.

Where does it say that?
"

Let me see....

Every encounter I have had stepping out the door had a MALE insulting the female.
posted by Samizdata at 9:40 PM on August 3, 2013


I really wish I knew why my experiences as a woman are so different than everyone else's here.

Lucinda, you're not alone. I was honked at maybe twice as a teenager. No one has ever yelled at me or groped me.

I hear all the time about how women are harassed constantly, and it sounds awful. It also reminds me that, as an ugly woman, I really don't count as a woman at all.
posted by Toothless Willy at 9:47 PM on August 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


I try to be decent to everyone, but I guess my one man war isn't working out so well.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:52 PM on August 3, 2013


OnTheLastCastle, yes it is.
posted by maggieb at 9:54 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's some corollary to Godwin's law that states that as a thread - involving sexism - grows longer, the probability of the true victims being outted as MALES approaches 1.
posted by peacay at 9:58 PM on August 3, 2013 [27 favorites]


That's right as a bloke I am either a sex predator or pedophile. Where in fact most guys I know are definitely not either. I feel offended by these types do "games" but I guess that is the point.

If you don't do this sort of stuff, you're not the one being criticized. No need to run in and say "But I don't do that therefore this offends me!" That offense might better be spent being offended that others do engage in relentlessly harassing behavior.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:05 PM on August 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


The magic bullet that stops men from harassing women is Complete Societal Transformation, Including Comprehensive Sexual Education, An End To Weird Anti-Sexual Taboos, And A Culture Wherein Objectification Is Understood To Be A Powerful And Often Oppressive Behavior. It is a very large bullet and it takes about seven billion people to pull the trigger.

People saying how obviously there is a solution to this that will end harassment ever: have you succeeded in stopping every single behavior you dislike in every single person you encounter on every single day? If so, what kinds of drug cocktails have you been mixing yourself? Are you sure you are a living, breathing, processing human being, and not some other kind of entity, like perhaps a toaster?
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:07 PM on August 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


(This game was pretty bad btw)
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:07 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every encounter I have had stepping out the door had a MALE insulting the female.

That doesn't imply that all or most men are harassers; only that most harassers of women are male.

Are you, as a man, frequently harassed by women when you step out of the door in real life? (If so, then I'm very sorry to hear that; if not, then consider that many women cannot say the same about not being harassed by men.)
posted by kagredon at 10:12 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually can't even get my toaster to behave. I mean, are the factory settings really only "barely heat it" and "burn it all to shit"?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:13 PM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


That's right as a bloke I am either a sex predator or pedophile. Where in fact most guys I know are definitely not either. I feel offended by these types do "games" but I guess that is the point.

It's not about being a sex offender, it's about being so insensitive to the shitty shit that happens to lots and lots of women that you make it easier or more likely for bad things on the level of sexual abuse to happen.

I just had a talk with a young woman I know (and used to camp counsel a while back) who told me a ghastly story about dating and falling in love with a young man who called her bitch and cunt and shoved her, then told her that he was a nice guy, she just MADE him so mad that he did all these things. And because we live in the real world and not some less shitty place, she totally believed him, and kept loving him, and got stuck in a months-long cycle of returning to him that I am now hoping is broken.

You're not that abusive guy, maybe. But you're the guy arguing so loudly about how unfairly men are treated, how stupid conversations like this are, taking this conversation to such hyperbolic level, that smart, confident young women like my ex-camper are led to believe that their abusive boyfriend really is okay, that maybe they ought to think more about what's wrong with themselves, that it's a terrible thing to conflate sexist, abusive language, and even mild physical abuse, with, I don't know, pedophilia. Because God knows "not being a pedophile" is the highest standard we reach to these days.

You know what, mate? I'm a guy who isn't a sex predator or a pedophile either. Just like you! And I didn't like this game, just like you! But it's not because I was OFFENDED by it. Jesus Christ, where in this game did it say "Every single man catcalls you right now?" Or are you just assuming that because this game depicts catcallers, it must be sending out the message that all men catcall?

As a good person, which I imagine you imagine you are, I think that what you do in response to a game like this is simple:

1) Keep on not catcalling, because good for you!
2) When women start talking about all the shit they go through, instead of immediately dismissing them or talking about how hard guys have it too, think to yourself, "Oh man, that sucks. I wish it wasn't that way."
3) When you notice behavior in yourself or others that sucks, do something about it, instead of shrugging and saying, "Welp, at least I'm/they're not molesting children! La dee da dee!"
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:18 PM on August 3, 2013 [45 favorites]


Are you, as a man, frequently harassed by women when you step out of the door in real life?

I've actually been catcalled on a couple of occasions by men driving by in cars - I presume it's because the long hair - and I'm a 6 foot tall, broad shouldered, and bearded man. So I can only imagine it's far worse for actual women.
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:19 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


WTF?!?!! The message is: females get harassed sometimes and that it has nothing to do with the choice of their clothing before leaving home. Do you HEAR ok?? Do you need that r.e.p.e.a.t.e.d??

The message isn't unpersuasive because it's not true or people don't understand it. The mesage is unpersuasive because it's very poorly presented.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:19 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


That doesn't make the message unpersuasive. It makes the presentation unpersuasive.
posted by kagredon at 10:20 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The message isn't unpersuasive because it's not true or people don't understand it. The mesage is unpersuasive because it's very poorly presented.

Do you mean you don't like that it's in the form of a Hypertext game? Or the wording of the game? could you elaborate?
posted by hellojed at 10:28 PM on August 3, 2013


I honestly don't get the point of this game. What exactly does it hope to do?

The audience as I see it is comprised of:

A. Women who already relate, and/or a few who cant relate, but empathize
B. Men who don't do this and become stubbornly offended
C. Men who don't do this and already empathize

I've noticed that similar representations of this men v. women thing appear to have only two audiences: Preaching to the choir, and angering a few men who feel they're being lumped into a negative over generalization of their gender.

If the intended audience is in fact these scumbag men, I don't think they're even in the theater.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:32 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I identify as male, and I like women and men. I DO NOT, and, to the best of my knowledge, have never done things like this EVER (not counting teasing SOs). But, according to the author, I do as I am not female.

Why the fuck is it that any time sexual harassment comes up on Metafilter-- a site that is usually decent on shit like this-- some dude comes in and complains about how oh boo-hoo I'm so offended that someone said something bad about the menz by portraying harassers of women as men and this threatens me personally?

NOTICE TO DUDES: If your poor widdle feelings are hurt by someone stating that harassment, sexual violence, etc is mostly done by men, that is your fucking problem and you need to take it up with your goddamn therapist. If you come into threads about harassment to complain about your injured feels because you're being "tarred by other men", you're a part of the problem.

Need help with this? Think of it this way: A woman is talking about her experience with sexual harassment. Other people are talking about it being an endemic problem and how annoying it is that other people are very dismissive of it. Now, what would someone from the misogynistic shitpool that is the Men's Rights Movement do in this situation? One of the things he would do is come in and complain that we were demonizing all men. How do I know this? Because this is what they did over an anti-rape campaign. That's right, they turned a campaign attempting to raise awareness about date rape and consent into what about the menzing and then went full on into rape apology.

This is an endemic problem that regularly affects women's lives. It fucking sucks. And yeah, you learn not to be *too* bothered by it eventually, but it's just one of those little things that puts a bit of fear into the back of your mind, that you know could happen at any time, that you know could be a threat of something worse. It's true, it's not as simple as the game makes it, but I don't have a great idea of how to simulate that little bit of awareness you have to dedicate to what other people might do to you all the time, that feeling not quite of danger but of unsafety (these people are often bigger than you, you're often in situations where it'll be seen as your fault if you "make a fuss", and they're often in cars when you're a pedestrian), that dismissal of your complaints about it ("Can't you take a compliment?" "How dare you tar all men by that brush?" "Why do you let things bother you so much?" "Why didn't you just beat him up/flip him off/yell at him/smash his cell phone?" "Why did you wear that?" "Well, you shouldn't have gone there at night.").

It's no Depression Quest. But it makes a point, even if it does do so by smashing the point repeatedly into your brain with a hammer.
posted by NoraReed at 10:34 PM on August 3, 2013 [57 favorites]


I spent a lot of time elaborating upthread. It's poorly written and presented. It feels thrown together.

The "charater" you are supposed to be playing is basically a Barbie doll - "Here, get dressed! You got harassed! That is sexual harassment! Now you are sad. Go home and change. See that is what it is like to be a woman!"

There is nothing there to empathize with. There's no character.

Part of the thing that really hurts about being harassed is that your harasser sees you as a cipher and not as a person. Your entire value is based on whether he wants to fuck you or not or how much power he has over you as a bully. So to make the "woman" that you are supposed to be such a non-person seems to defeat the purpose.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:41 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


NOTICE TO DUDES: If your poor widdle feelings are hurt by someone stating that harassment, sexual violence, etc is mostly done by men, that is your fucking problem and you need to take it up with your goddamn therapist. If you come into threads about harassment to complain about your injured feels because you're being "tarred by other men", you're a part of the problem


One thing I've learned with gaining some wisdom is that irrational or not, or whether I understand it or not, I have no right to deny someone their emotions. I understand your anger, but inflammatory statements and unrealistic expectations make for poor bedfellows.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:41 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have no right to deny someone their emotions.

denying people's emotions is exactly what NoraReed is protesting.
posted by kagredon at 10:47 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


P.S - for those still keeping score at home, I did not get catcalled by a party bus. However, I, along with several other women on the bus, did get propositioned by a gentleman who was clearly not mentally well.

It was gross. I am drinking.


This game should add more drinking for versimilitude.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:55 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hit post not preview...

I have a daughter, she's three, and I want her to live in a world where harassment is not the norm. I do absolutely recognize your anger and actually agree with your stance, if not the delivery, but as a man, I also recognize the why there may be a knee jerk emotional reaction to the perceived classification of men as a whole as scumbags.

I logically understand that this is not the point that is trying to be stated, but it seems that these discussions of sex and gender inequalities are often framed in such a manner to arise these feelings of false persecution perhaps because of their heavy handedness.

I'm just one man, however, and I have always and plan to always play the only part I can in combatting this sexist behavior, which is simply not to partake in it.

Still, these posts and ensuing threads always seem to get my hackles up, perhaps a defect of character, but its there nevertheless.

So yeah, I get slightly offended by these threads, and by reading this thread a lot of women get offended dealing with daily harassment. I'm not even trying to compare the two as equivalent offenses, but I feel what I feel, and I don't think that having an emotion necessitates a need for therapy. (Although I am in therapy, but I doubt I'll be bringing this up in my next session).
posted by Debaser626 at 11:03 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


[A couple of comments deleted; if you want to discuss moderation feel free drop us a line. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 11:04 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I won't be buying the burqa dlc.
posted by bleep-blop at 11:22 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Debaser626: "I have a daughter, she's three, and I want her to live in a world where harassment is not the norm. I do absolutely recognize your anger and actually agree with your stance, if not the delivery, but as a man, I also recognize the why there may be a knee jerk emotional reaction to the perceived classification of men as a whole as scumbags. "

My daughter is four. She's already worked out that it isn't women screaming things from cars at me, and nobody screams things at my husband. That isn't a perceived classification error that she's making, it's a learned observation that the people who harass me in front of her are men and men only and yeah, daddy and all the other awesome men in her life are great but also, they don't get yelled at by strangers like mummy does. They also don't yell things at women either, so there is some hope. She knows it's bad, that it's mean and unkind, but so far I haven't had to explain exactly what the men are saying. I'm not looking forward to it though.

It's a protective behaviour too, not just a learned one. I would like her to grow up in a world that has no harassment. But as a second option, I'd like her to develop some skills to protect herself physically and emotionally and one of those things is recognising patterns. A carload of men presents a different risk to a carload of women, when they pull up at the bus stop - something she has already learned by firsthand experience.
posted by geek anachronism at 11:25 PM on August 3, 2013 [24 favorites]


But the potential for being sexually harassed exists every day as soon as you step out of the front door. Every woman doesn't get sexually harassed every day. But women get sexually harassed every day.
posted by billiebee at 1:13 AM on August 4


The same is true for men and assault. Or children and abduction. Or kitty cats and being run over by a car.

This sort of thing crassly trivialises the (very real) problem.
posted by Decani at 11:26 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it trivializing real problems to say that I have had it up to here with men telling women how they are and aren't allowed to talk about the "real problems"?
posted by kagredon at 11:28 PM on August 3, 2013 [29 favorites]


Yeah, I read the whole "you're trivializing real issues by talking like that" as something straight out of Derailing for Dummies.
posted by NoraReed at 11:37 PM on August 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


So what can we, men, do best to help you females out regarding this issue? I don't catcall women, I try my best to treat women as the truly equals that they are.

I realize this is an ongoing and serious problem that needs to be snuffed out permanently, but what more do you suggest I (and other considerate men like me) do?
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:47 PM on August 3, 2013


It's pretty easy for me to see that because I don't sexually harass women, I am not cast as the antagonist in this game. I don't recognize myself in any of the scenarios. Do you recognize yourself? Why is your skin so thin? I mean, I share your privilege of gender and, gosh, I can take it. It's a pretty low tax considered all the other unearned benefits which accrue to us.

Even if one person plays who does recognize themselves and maybe engages their brain in future interactions with women, the game was worth making.

And you know what? If I occasionally get a suspicious eying from a woman because I'm a potential harasser, that might sting me a bit--but I'm not going to blame that woman, who has suffered enough harassment from my gender that they feel like any man might be trouble. I'm going to blame my fellow men, enough of whom either directly harass, or dismiss harassment as "boo hoo, it's the way of the world, sweetie" (which is just simple bullying), to make women think that maybe all of us are that way.

WTF, dudes.
posted by maxwelton at 11:53 PM on August 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Debaser626: I'm just one man, however, and I have always and plan to always play the only part I can in combatting this sexist behavior, which is simply not to partake in it.

Actually, it's really helpful if men call out other men for shitty behaviour. Cutting & pasting from a previous thread:
Social and cultural contexts play a role in facilitating the occurrence of sexually harassing behaviours, in conjunction with an individual's disposition for engaging in sexual harassment (see also Pina & Gannon, 2012). They found that this behaviour "is most likely to be perpetrated by men with individual proclivities for sexual harassment only under context where the situational norms are tolerant, ambiguous, or even supportive of such behavior" (Wesselmann & Kelly, 2010, p. 451). In contrast, where the situational norms were not supportive of sexual harassment, men with a proclivity for sexual harassment were no more likely to sexually harass than other men.
Harassers harass partly because of their perception that their peers think it's not a big deal, it's harmless, it's unremarkable (as in, not deserving of discussion), it's perfectly OK.

Here is extremely useful advice for how to call it out, from user tkchrist (may he come back to Metafilter someday):
Take good ten long steps away from them. And then yell "Hey, is everthing okay over there! Howz it going! Be nice!" Don't call anybody names and smile. Don't jump between them unless you know what you're doing. If you got a couple people with you have everybody do this.

Seriously. Yell from a several feet away. You're not close enough to be considered a threat to him or adrenalize him. He's gonna have to barrel towards you to get to you. . . .
That's just a snip. I highly recommend reading the rest of it.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:55 PM on August 3, 2013 [24 favorites]


The incredible extent of sexist and misogynistic behavior in our society is a massive, tragic, and severely under-recognized phenomenon. Granted.

And yes, I recognize it is understandably an absolute last priority for people working on this message, but, I can't help but wonder if they realize that the men who are largely receiving this message were likely already on their side in the first place. Curious, introverted men who were open to this sort of discourse on gender and equality in the first place, with the exception of Hugo Schwartz, are going to be frankly hurt by the assumption that they would ever engage in that kind of behavior - even if they have, but hadn't realized it.

I firmly believe that the greatest success of campaigns like this would be more like public shaming of villains, like the Queensland Rail campaign. Implying that the reader of the message would never consider doing this, and pivots the message from argumentative to enlisting the audience as a de-facto ally, which is extremely powerful rhetorically.

Progressing slowly by talking about how sexual harassment and assault occur as part of a larger phenomenon, but starting off by acknowledging that they, the audience, would never do that. This has the added benefit of teaching from the subtle shared assumption that the behavior is wrong, so they would automatically refrain from continuing to do it if they had somehow previously considered it as a harmless prank, or as flattery.

Eliminating the perception of there being a gender-based duality of these messages isn't at odds with the message or the goal, and would go a long way to stop the inherent confrontation that leads to defensiveness, cerebral blockade/short circuiting, and reception of an accusatory posturing.

Because what I've witnessed over the last decade is that guys just go into polite, just-world-hypothesis type denial, and maybe with enough pressure it turns into an argument, which easily backfires into turning what was likely an ally into a permanent opposition.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 11:57 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obviously, that's advice for calling strangers out. Guys in previous threads have suggested, for calling it out in people you know, "Hey dude, that's not cool" or whatever equivalent works for you.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:58 PM on August 3, 2013


So what can we, men, do best to help you females out regarding this issue?

Call other dudes around you out on it! And on other misogynistic/sexist stuff. Misogynists don't listen to women, they can be really trivializing, and so your status as a man-- an equal, to these people-- holds some weight. If you see someone harassing a woman in a way where she is expected to respond-- the sort of "Hey, why won't you talk to me? Bitch." kind of guy that you get in public-- offering a woman a way out is always nice. Cybercoitus interruptus' suggestion is a good one, though I'd ask women if they have other solutions and see if there are any that work specifically for you (men with different presentations and physical appearances will obviously get different reactions) or that work specifically for situations you're in-- have a public transit plan, for example.

Harassment is a part of rape culture-- the culture that trivializes female bodies and makes them seem to be public domain, something that can be regularly commented on/fantasized about/etc in a way that would be taboo for men. So calling out other aspects of rape culture and spending time explaining why that isn't OK and making sure that these men know that it isn't welcome around you can be really valuable, especially because fighting that fight when it's personal for you can be pretty draining.

Back up women in your social circles when they call out bad behavior. It's a commitment to fighting misogyny in culture as a whole, and that ends up being not just a patch on the issue of harassment but a way to tackle the underlying issues and the cultural forces that make this kind of behavior acceptable.

Oh, and I doubt you meant it that way, but a lot of women prefer not to be referred to as "females"-- it's used by a lot of the kind of virulent young sexists that pollute reddit and youtube comments and can come across as dehumanizing.
posted by NoraReed at 12:01 AM on August 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


NoraReed: "Oh, and I doubt you meant it that way, but a lot of women prefer not to be referred to as "females"-- it's used by a lot of the kind of virulent young sexists that pollute reddit and youtube comments and can come across as dehumanizing."

My apologies!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:09 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


No worries :)
posted by NoraReed at 12:16 AM on August 4, 2013


I would suggest that unless the problem is one you personally deal with, you are in no position to decided what trivializes it or not, and statements like that come of as paternalistic at best and concern trolling at worst.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:36 AM on August 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


This was great, if only because I was able to wear a cocktail dress and heels for the first time in my life.


/please return to your serious discussion

posted by HuronBob at 3:12 AM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


doesn't do much to make you empathize with the character you're supposed to be. I can see something like this being effective if it were fleshed out and better written.

Here's what I'd like to see. Do it as a proper 3D 2nd person over the shoulder game. At the start you have yourself in the bedroom with the vanity mirror, make up kit, jewellery box, walk in closet, etc.

Have this initial "character setup" phase be really detailed. As you try on outfits and makeup combinations you fill up different meters - sexy, classy, beauty...

The idea being that you get yourself, as a character, to buy into the objectification as well... and to build up an investment. Then you can still have the "nothing will possibly work out OK" result, but much bigger payoff once you've put 20 minutes into prepping your character.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:40 AM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have no idea who this is aimed at.

Women already know this stuff--though the women I know don't experience this to anything like the degree that's suggested here. (So maybe this is really a Female Experience In the Big City simulator... I don't know.) I expect that the kind of males who are likely to see and "play" this are like me. That is, they'd never do anything like this in a million years, and the shit already pisses them off in a big way. In fact, I'm strongly inclined to intervene in such situations...and I'll bet that goes for a fair percentage of male (e.g.) MeFites.

The assholes how are doing this stuff...does anyone think that they're really inclined to see this, play it, and be changed by it?

Maybe they are... That would be great. But it just doesn't seem very likely to me.

So, absolutely serious question: who is this aimed at?
posted by Fists O'Fury at 4:15 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a daughter, she's three, and I want her to live in a world where harassment is not the norm. ...

I'm just one man, however, and I have always and plan to always play the only part I can in combatting this sexist behavior, which is simply not to partake in it.


Basically, this means that in effect, you are actually fine with your daugher experiencing a world where harassment is the norm. Not partaking is simply basic self-control. Calling it out, pointing it out, dealing with your feelings of discomfort - those are part of the solution.

Because what I've witnessed over the last decade is that guys just go into polite, just-world-hypothesis type denial, and maybe with enough pressure it turns into an argument, which easily backfires into turning what was likely an ally into a permanent opposition.

While I think there is value to the kind of social norms campaign you recommend, I also think it's a fallacy that this kind of discussion turns would-be allies into enemies. In fact, I think what it does is uncover deeply held biases that were always there, comfortably hidden under the veneer of "but I'm a nice guy." There's a degree to which your recommendation might be pragmatic and efficacious, but there's also a degree to which it could represent the caretaking of men's feelings and the protection of them from difficult truths.
posted by Miko at 5:04 AM on August 4, 2013 [17 favorites]


I genuinely don't understand the motivation behind coming into sexism threads to say "it's not fair, I don't do this stuff." Who said you did? Where in the game, or anywhere, does it say ALL men do this stuff? If you don't do it then why do you think you're being called out? Are you just coming in because you think it's some kind of general anti-men propaganda that can't be allowed to stand? It seems kind of pointless when we can find evidence that (some) men are a nuisance at best, and a threat at worst, any time of the day or night just by turning on the news.

Men are the people who (mostly) do the harassing. If you don't like that fact, don't shoot the messenger. Have a word with the guys who are ruining your reputation.
posted by billiebee at 5:30 AM on August 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


________are the people who (mostly) do the ________. If you don't like that fact, don't shoot the messenger. Have a word with the guys who are ruining your reputation.

Think of how many other nouns/verbs you could put in that sentence which would cause the argument to totally collapse.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:36 AM on August 4, 2013


But why do I need to insert other nouns and verbs? I'm only talking about this subject, so the ones I've used will do fine. There is no need for hypothetical extrapolations.
posted by billiebee at 5:49 AM on August 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


It sounds to me like people people here are making the argument that communication is ineffective at making people change or perceive the world differently. Which, like, flies in the face of the entire history of communication, but whatevs.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:04 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Think of how many other nouns/verbs you could put in that sentence which would cause the argument to totally collapse.

Amazingly enough, many women are capable of holding the ideas that (a) SOME men are harassers and (b) MANY men are not harassers, simultaneously.

Think of it this way: you're a man on vacation and you've been told to be careful of pickpockets*, so you wear a money belt or keep your wallet in your front pocket or whatever. Maybe for the first day or so you look at everyone who comes near you with suspicion and you're all jumpy, but after a bit you relax a little and start to interact with the locals...AND you keep wearing the money belt or doing the wallet thing or whatever you were doing to protect yourself from being pickpocketed. Women are always in that place where there is a chance something could happen - we learn to sit with fear in a way most cis men never have to.


*Just in case this is necessary to say, I do know that sexual harassment and assault are not the same thing as being pickpocketed. This is a metaphor.
posted by camyram at 6:10 AM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm imagining the gameplay mechanic of Hitman combined with this concept.
posted by odinsdream at 6:11 AM on August 4, 2013


I'm really puzzled by the number of people in this thread who don't understand that "Most X are Y" does not imply "All Y are X" in any way whatsoever. It's not exactly rocket surgery.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 6:16 AM on August 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


But why do I need to insert other nouns and verbs? I'm only talking about this subject, so the ones I've used will do fine. There is no need for hypothetical extrapolations.

Because logistically it is the same argument. If one is invalid (or valid), both ought to be.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:17 AM on August 4, 2013


But why do I need to insert other nouns and verbs?

Come on, don't be obtuse.
posted by unSane at 6:17 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh cool, you reminded me of another scary scenario - getting backed down a blind alley by strangers. Good work!
posted by billiebee at 6:29 AM on August 4, 2013


This is glib and tiresome, SB.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:32 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Both males and females exploit their behavior towards the opposite sex to gain social status within their own gender. There is a lovely experiment where you've a cardboard mockup of a naked man and woman with leaves covering their genitals and put them in a room with a group of strangers. If your group is gender homogeneous, then frequently someone lifts the leaf on the opposite gender mockup. If your group is mixed, then usually nobody lifts either leaf. Yes, men should call out men who commit harassment, but also women must stop the victim blaming.

I'd agree "the only winning move is not to play" in the sense that "sexual harassment should not influence your self-esteem". Yes, the harasser is an ass, well usually he's trying to gain social status amongst his male friends by cowing a female, but the females emotional response remains her choice. Ignore him and he loses. I'd believe only a decade ago most straight males would visibly take offense if they were ogled by a gay man, but that changed rapidly. Admittedly random men should get ogled by gay men far less than women get ogled by straight men, well gay men are less common, higher class, and more polite, but straight men are still choosing their emotional reaction.

There are cities like Barcelona where a male walking around alone will gets his ass grabbed by a prostitute relatively frequently, especially if say your shirt is unbuttoned. Just don't even acknowledge her existence, make sure she didn't pick your pocket and keep walking. I understand that women worry that harassers might commit physical violence, but most public situations prevent this though, so simply ignoring the harasser sounds effective.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:35 AM on August 4, 2013


I'm really puzzled by the number of people in this thread who don't understand that "Most X are Y" does not imply "All Y are X" in any way whatsoever.

The implication (of the game) is that "all Y need to have a lesson taught to them, on behalf of their misbehaving brethren."

Or, more generally, the game implies "Group A represents the protagonist, who (in this scenario) does no wrong. Group B represents the antagonist, who (in this scenario) does only wrong."

When translating this to "real life," (which presumably is the whole point) I find that I am by definition a member of Group B. Suddenly, the narrative changes from "walk a mile in their shoes" to "you're part of the problem."

If Law & Order did an entire season where 100% of the criminals were black, they surely couldn't cover it up with a simple "hey, we're not saying all blacks are criminals."
posted by ShutterBun at 6:38 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Basically, this means that in effect, you are actually fine with your daugher experiencing a world where harassment is the norm. Not partaking is simply basic self-control. Calling it out, pointing it out, dealing with your feelings of discomfort - those are part of the solution.

I do see your point, but honestly, I simply don't encounter the types of harassment perpetrated by these men towards women beyond the once in a blue moon frequency. I do notice with greater frequency, men leering at the backsides of women or silently checking them out, but I'm not going to correct this to the detriment of potential verbal and physical altercations.

I haven't associated with people who engage in this type of behavior in years, and when I did, whether they be friend-of-a-friend, acquaintances, or buddies, I usually attempted to correct the behavior. Not through shame, but through truth.

I was hanging out with a bunch of loose acquaintances outside of a Stabucks and they were checking out the female passersby. In a devolving spiral of testosterone and one upmanship, it quickly turned to catcalls and harassing comments. (Not directed towards these women, but at a volume they were likely to hear as they were walking away). After one or two of these exchanges, I finally addressed the group to the effect of "If you were being honest, you wouldn't be talking about how much you want to grab her breasts, you'd be wondering out loud as to whether she'd want to watch "50 first dates" with you curled up on a couch."
posted by Debaser626 at 6:38 AM on August 4, 2013


jeffburdges, your comment reads, yeah, men do bad things but women also do bad things that make the man bad things worse.

also, ignore him and he loses? um.
posted by angrycat at 6:39 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's funny. Obviously, it's not a real game, but a wee bit of slightly interactive commentary and kind of silly, yet bizarrely poignant metaphor. If reactions are "OMG this is dumb!" – well, yeah. Frustrating? Yup. Yup. Super annoying? Tiresome? Yes!! You're seeing it too!! Stupid? YES!!! SO VERY VERY STUPID. SO MUCH STUPID. WE ARE AGREEING!

I'm also amused that it is apparently making a bunch of Reddit/4chan dudes' heads totally asplode... that this silly little obviously jokey, exaggerated (but at its heart kinda real) thing that amounts to a lightly illustrated comment is AN OUTRAGE SIR! AN OUTRAGE! is kind of hilarious.
posted by taz at 6:49 AM on August 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


Did you think that maybe if you changed your clothes or avoided certain places that you could avoid being harassed?

This is 5 minutes of modding from a Saudi Arabian appropriate-dress-and-public-behaviour for women edutainment sim
posted by Bwithh at 7:11 AM on August 4, 2013


The implication (of the game) is that "all Y need to have a lesson taught to them, on behalf of their misbehaving brethren."

The implication of the game is that it doesn't matter what you wear or where you go, there is the potential to be sexually harassed by some man (not all the men all the time.) What's so bad about making that point, even if it is made in a simplistic, tongue in cheek way?
posted by billiebee at 7:12 AM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I highlighted an experiment that isolates the one major cause of sexual harassment. I've only ever had my ass grabbed by prostitutes hanging about in groups, which suggests they were showing off to one another. You can penalize harassment by inverting that social reinforcement.

Yes, the harasser loses his play for social status if his harassment illicits dominance instead of submissiveness. If he touches you, you might signal dominance by calmly threatening to call the cops. Ignoring him completely achieve this too if he wants attention but kept his distance though.

Have you ever really ignored a spanger, begger, subway performer, etc.? I'm not talking about merely avoiding, refusing, etc. but fully denying their presence. It visibly disturbs them. Imagine just placing a landline phone on the table when a direct marketer calls.

I've observed a similar reaction when I visibly plugged my ears during a subway performer, which helps discourage anyone else from paying him too. In the same vein, there are supposedly women who disrupt harassers in Italian by using the feminine form when referring to the harasser, meaning they verbally treat him like a female.

Is it fair to ask all women to master subtle insults? Of course not! Any that do penalize the harassers though.

I've no problem with female cops dressing up to walk around town to cite any guys who proposition them as if they were prostitutes as well.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:24 AM on August 4, 2013


ShutterBun:
If Law & Order did an entire season where 100% of the criminals were black, they surely couldn't cover it up with a simple "hey, we're not saying all blacks are criminals."


If you can't tell the difference in implication between an entire season a popular TV show and a five minute webgame, I'm not sure I have the words to explain it to you.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 7:43 AM on August 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


Have you ever really ignored a spanger, begger, subway performer, etc.? I'm not talking about merely avoiding, refusing, etc. but fully denying their presence. It visibly disturbs them.

Not in New York City it doesn't....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:44 AM on August 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


________are the people who (mostly) do the ________. If you don't like that fact, don't shoot the messenger. Have a word with the guys who are ruining your reputation.

Men commit most of the world's sexual harassment and sexual violence. This is not to say that most men commit sexual harassment and sexual violence. In the United States, for instance, 99% of rapists are men (PDF, see the last item of page 8 of the document). This is not to say that 99% of men are rapists. The report may date from 1997, but I doubt the rate has changed much.

Think of how many other nouns/verbs you could put in that sentence which would cause the argument to totally collapse.

billiebe's main arguable assertion was her first sentence, which is factual. You cannot replace "men" with "black people" and "sexual harassment" with "crime," as your Law and Order counterfactual suggested, because doing so would result in a false sentence.

The implication (of the game) is that "all Y need to have a lesson taught to them, on behalf of their misbehaving brethren."

The implication of the game is that men harass women no matter what women do. Not enough men who have learned the lesson care to share it with our misbehaving brothers. Harassers get away with it because they are not ostracized for it. Instead, they are often encouraged by men who don't know better, and the men who do know better go along to get along. This is cowardice.

Or, more generally, the game implies "Group A represents the protagonist, who (in this scenario) does no wrong. Group B represents the antagonist, who (in this scenario) does only wrong."

And if the protagonist had been able to do wrong - what then? Are bad women supposed to accept harassment as punishment? The harassment most likely has nothing to do with whatever they did, after all. Punishment usually follows from misbehavior.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:48 AM on August 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


At the start you have yourself in the bedroom with the vanity mirror, make up kit, jewellery box, walk in closet, etc.

Huh. As an XX member of the species, I have none of these things. Thankfully, however, my bathroom includes an area with tools, and I have many sizes of buckets. I needed all of those things today, as my morning routine this here Sunday went like this (harassment included, we'll get there, I'm a woman, you see):
- You wake up at 10am. You snuggle with your kitty who is chirping at you while sitting in the crook of your shoulder.
- You get up and put on a stretchy skirt and a cotton tank top, which were hanging on your towel rack from the day before.
- You walk into the kitchen to make breakfast, and discover said kitchen drenched in water!
- You get your handy buckets and sponges etc. so forth.
- You carefully take apart each thing that could leak. The washing machine ran last night, so we'll start with that, since nothing else was running water. Its filter is clean, which is normal because you clean it regularly. The attachment to the sink evacuation pipe is also clear. Huh. Now you check the trap: it's gross, but also clear. You reattach it, remembering to replace the rubber joint. Checking that everything's reattached firmly, you run the water. Oops!! It's not draining!! The sink must have overflown with outgoing water from the washing machine. Sheesh. You take off the trap again (boy those buckets are coming in handy), and you use your auger to check the evacuation pipe. Two meters in, which is the length of pipe in your place before going outside, and... nothing. It's clear. WTF. You reattach everything again. You run the water again. It does not drain, again.
- You have several buckets full of water and no drain to dump them.
- You go to your closet. Why? Because you are a woman and wearing a lightweight skirt and tank top. You need to change before you go outside. (Not that it makes a difference.)
- You put on darker, heavier-weight trousers and a darker, heavier-weight tank top. You grab your buckets and go outside. (In my case, I live in France and we can dump water into street drains legally.)
- You dump your buckets into the street drains, legally. While bending over, which, y'know, you have to do in order to empty a bucket, YOU GET HARASSED BY A PASSER-BY. "Joli cul !" ("Nice ass!") You stand back up. You are a tall woman and, when not bending over, usually get harassed for being too tall, but this guy hadn't noticed, so instead, suprised by the muscular, nearly 6-foot woman glaring down at him from several inches above his head, he lets escape a barely-audible "erp" and skedaddles. This is not always the case; today was a bit easier than others.
- You go back inside and rip apart the wood in your kitchen which is falling apart under the influence of water, using your rubber mallet and metal chisels. You remove the trap on your kitchen sink so you can use it in a makeshift way with your deepest bucket and occasional trips to the street. Not too many though, because HARASSMENT.
- You declare your water damage online with your insurance company.

If I were a man, all of this would be fucking normal and I would not have been harassed. It's as simple as that, and it's a fucking drag.
posted by fraula at 7:56 AM on August 4, 2013 [39 favorites]


Look I'm not sure what snappy comebacks are supposed to achieve. It's like, hey ladies, just insult that guy right back, instead of ignoring it or letting it make you feel bad/like people are treating you like less than a person! There you go, you have now combatted harassment rather than being a "victim."

Just yesterday I was walking with my parents who are visiting me here in NYC and we were walking near rock center and I was trying to think of a place to eat because my dad is super picky and has health problems that meant he needed to eat and sit pretty soon but he is super picky sp the place would have to have x and y but not z and windows but not too many and you shouldn't be able to hear too much this but too little that and and and...so I was preoccupied when this shoeshine guy goes, "you look nice" I kind of shrugged distractedly and said thanks and the guy screams " you're supposed to smile and say thank you don't be like that"

Under normal circumstances I would just ignore, speed up and be as far away from that guy as possible,but my parents were walking So Slowly because they're old and not New Yorkers so we were just in this guys orbit for what felt like so long and after several seconds of shouting I shot back "I'm with my family, have a little class."

So then he started screaming really abusive stuff, telling me I'm racist, on and on and on.

Sexual harassment not fixed by (mild) snappy comeback. And I actually felt like if he hadnt needed to stay by his shoeshine stuff he would have assaulted me or my parents, physically.

I didn't feel empowered, I felt like I might have invited harm to my family because I made an impulsive comment instead of ignoring. Also the only way to have gotten out of that situation initially without this guy losing it would have been to have an appropriately large and appreciative smile, which I wasn't ever going to do because I had other stuff on my mind than what this guy thought about my body and face.
posted by sweetkid at 7:59 AM on August 4, 2013 [37 favorites]


billiebe's main arguable assertion was her first sentence, which is factual. You cannot replace "men" with "black people" and "sexual harassment" with "crime," as your Law and Order counterfactual suggested, because doing so would result in a false sentence.

That's not a bad point. There are certainly categories of bad behavior where males dominate to such an extent that any deviation would be unrealistic. (or the exception that proves the rule)

Granted, there are probably sub-groups that could be singled out due to statistics that would be uncomfortable to acknowledge, but it's still fair to say "what did you expect? Female harassers?"

I guess it's a little harder to pin down the "ugh" factor of this game (and yeah, I know it's only a game but we're talking about actual issues by now, aren't we?) than I thought.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:13 AM on August 4, 2013


Some people — possibly, many men — only learn things the hard way.

So I suggest tasering the assholes is very likely the only way to get things to change.

Seriously. These guys are immune to talk. Immune to feedback. Immune to rational thinking. They do things the way they do them. They're a hammer and everything in the world is a nail.

Standing your ground is the only way to break them of their behaviour. Immediate consequence brings enlightenment.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:14 AM on August 4, 2013


I guess it's a little harder to pin down the "ugh" factor of this game (and yeah, I know it's only a game but we're talking about actual issues by now, aren't we?) than I thought.

Not hard for me -- the 'ugh' factor was that it was overly simplistic and crappily written.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:37 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing is, gender splits on harassment are not just statistical phenomena. They are driven by a worldview that is so deep and pervasive that almost everyone is complicit in it, even women.

Not all men harass women, but lots of men judge women on their fuckability. At least at some point in their lives. Many men are well behaved and would never make comments to a stranger on the street. I refuse to believe, however, that many men find this behavior truly incomprehensible and alien, that they simply cannot understand the male entitlement and power grabbing that underlies harassment (as well as what are often male feelings of inadequacy and powerlessness). This stuff is pervasive, and not just a matter of being a good person or a bad person; it's part of our culture. And to the extent that men are somewhat blind to the experiences of women -- you may know what it's like to look over 10 women on the street during the day, but you probably have no idea what it's like to be looked over 10 times -- it never hurts to listen.
posted by leopard at 8:39 AM on August 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


billiebee: I genuinely don't understand the motivation behind coming into sexism threads to say "it's not fair, I don't do this stuff."
Another source of the discomfort and anger . . . stems from the frustration of being seen as a group member, rather than as an individual. . . . 'I'm an individual, view me as an individual!'
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:46 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone who has been a panhandler in my life, I don't know many "beggars" who give a shit about the people who visibly ignore or "deny our existance". It doesn't even register. The exception is people who are drunk/disabled (mentally)/ enjoy making a ruckus.

Putting your fingers in your ears acknowleges a musician's presence, rather than denying it- if they didn't exist, why are your fingers in your ears?

And why does the game need to be perfect to be acceptable? Why can't she just express herself?
posted by windykites at 8:47 AM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


leopard: "it never hurts to listen."

I think the problem seems to be that for a lot of men it *does* hurt them to listen. Of course them not listening hurts the rest of the world...
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 8:48 AM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I actually felt like if he hadn't needed to stay by his shoeshine stuff he would have assaulted me or my parents, physically.

Yes exactly, he wanted you to feel that way, but it's simply an act to make himself feel more significant by demeaning a female, ideally a female of a higher social class. I've witness beggars act threatening when just ignoring them too.

I would just ignore, speed up and be as far away from that guy as possible

A priori, ignoring him completely right from the beginning sounds effective here. I speed up too if harassed on the street by spangers, prostitutes, etc. I suppose a mild speed up signals to strangers who the aggressor is, thus inviting them to intercede if he pursues. You must certainly fire up your situational awareness of course, but accelerating should be unnecessary on a crowded street, especially in the daytime. We learn that smiling helps resolve so many situations, but I avoid giving harassers any validation myself, so maybe an absent minded smile, but nothing pointed towards them.

I suggest tasering the assholes is very likely the only way to get things to change.

Just fyi, tasers are illegal in some jurisdictions like NYC, but pepper spray is legal everywhere, although a couple states restrict sales to pharmacies or fire arms dealers. I'd support pepper spraying harassers myself but you should research local laws before doing so. Can you spray him if he taps you to gain your attention, obstructs your path without touching you, etc.? In practice, women could presumably plead self-defense with "I thought he was going to assault me", just take some care though.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:54 AM on August 4, 2013


As someone who has been a panhandler in my life, I don't know many "beggars" who give a shit about the people who visibly ignore or "deny our existance". It doesn't even register. The exception is people who are drunk/disabled (mentally)/ enjoy making a ruckus.


Sorry, is this supposed to bolster the argument that women can eliminate the harm of harassment by ignoring men who do it?

I mean, that would be bullshit, and I think I must be confused, because that would like crazy-eyed bullshit.

Sorry if I misunderstood
posted by angrycat at 8:55 AM on August 4, 2013


The implication (of the game) is that "all Y need to have a lesson taught to them, on behalf of their misbehaving brethren."
The implication of the game is that men harass women no matter what women do. Not enough men who have learned the lesson care to share it with our misbehaving brothers. Harassers get away with it because they are not ostracized for it. Instead, they are often encouraged by men who don't know better, and the men who do know better go along to get along. This is cowardice.

I don't think this game is about men, really. It reads to me like it's more of a cathartic metaphor about what it's like to be a woman in a patriarchal world. The principle is that women have no agency because of the patriarchy. A major point of contention in this thread is that the game's depiction of this agency rings false since it is possible for women to actively empower themselves in light of institutional forces. There are also issues with its depiction of the limited kinds of agency a woman has (ie primarily wardrobe changes).

An interpretation of the game from a male perspective would leave you with a lesson about actively confronting oppression when you see it. And while this interpretation is valuable, I don't think it's part to the premise.
posted by dubusadus at 8:56 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


OH HAI I TOTALLY MISUNDERSTOOD SORRY
posted by angrycat at 8:57 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


jeffburdges: I understand that women worry that harassers might commit physical violence, but most public situations prevent this though, so simply ignoring the harasser sounds effective.

Sounds effective, sure. Is effective? Not so much. Let me share a story from last summer with you.
Today has totally been Creeper Day. On the way over to Aldi, some guy hung out his car window while I was waiting to cross Telegraph. "HEEEEEEYYYY MAMA!" Gross.

Then in the Aldi parking lot, another creep was hanging out his window. "Hey, baby, where you goin'? You want a ride?" I ignored him. HE FOLLOWED ME. "Hey, how come you're not talking? I'm a personal trainer! You want my number? We can have some free sessions!" I walked faster. "FUCKING CUNT!" I RAN into Aldi.

Then halfway through Aldi, pushing a cart full of groceries and minding my own fucking business. "So, uh, doing your grocery shopping?" I gesture at my cart and continue to mind my own business. "You got a lot of wine in there. You need some help drinking that?" I stare, shake my head, continue to to mind my own fucking business. "Hey, girl, why don't you speak? You should smile, I'm trying to talk to you!" I stare again. _No, thank you. I'm not interested in any new friends._ He erupts in fury. "Bitch, why you gotta be like that?" The manager made him leave. When I called for a taxi, I asked the dispatcher to send me the biggest, ugliest, meanest dude in the fleet.

I still need to go to Target and Pet Supplies Plus to get Zoe's tags and some doggie treats, but I'm kind of terrified of going out alone today. I think I'll wait for Ernie to get home.
...and wouldn't you know, a friend of a friend asked me on that G+ post - a dude, unsurprisingly - if I had done something to "set them off". He interrogated ME about their motivations, as if I could have controlled or prevented the situation.

I am short. I am fat. I am middle aged. My daily attire is black yoga pants and a black t-shirt, sometimes with sparkly shit on it, sometimes not. I don't have any particularly distinguishing characteristics, save my very long, very purple hair (which is piled up on top my head when I'm running errands), and I think my crow's feet are cute. What did I do to set them off? I left my fucking house. I was walking alone in my own neighborhood, plainly attired, in broad daylight, while a woman. I can count on being harassed at least two or three times a week. Sadly, three times in a day isn't even a record, though three times in an hour might be.

Ignoring the first harasser was easy, he was in a speeding car. I ignored the second harasser and he FOLLOWED ME. The third one, I politely said No to, and he erupted in a fury frightening enough to lead the (male) store manager to believe that he might do violence and remove him from the store. I didn't leave my house after that until my sons and their very tall, brawny friend came home, I was that unnerved by the whole thing. I consider myself a pretty tough broad, but Jesus Henry Christ, that was all a bit much.
posted by MissySedai at 9:04 AM on August 4, 2013 [45 favorites]


Lucinda: "I really wish I knew why my experiences as a woman are so different than everyone else's here.

I've done all the same things - taken public transportation, gone to gyms and coffee shops and work. I've walked along busy streets late at night wearing short skirts and fishnets.

I have NEVER been catcalled or sexually harassed.

I can count on three fingers the number of times in the last ten years a stranger has tried to ask me out, and each time it ended with me saying that I was married, the guy in question going "oh, that's a bummer, oh well" and each of us going on our merry way.

The only possibilities I can come up with are that either I look like a guy, every single person in my life that I have ever encountered is decent and enlightened, or it does happen and I'm just oblivious to it.
"

I don't know why my pal went to take his car in to repair his brakes. I mean, MY brakes work fine!
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:09 AM on August 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


A major point of contention in this thread is that the game's depiction of this agency rings false since it is possible for women to actively empower themselves in light of institutional forces.

I know that women have choices about how to confront harassment. But for me the main issue is the fact that I have to. Because you know what? I really can't be arsed. I've got a shit-ton of things to do every damn day just to keep going with my actual life. There are some days when I feel kind of resentful that in between getting petrol and going to the supermarket, I have to take time out to use any form of defence against some fuckwit who decided to comment on my ass. I can shout at him, swear, ignore him, publicly shame him...that's not the point. I'm tired and busy and lazy and I DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS. So if all the nice guys out there could help out rather than getting defensive, that would be really great.
posted by billiebee at 9:11 AM on August 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


ShawnStruck, please tell me exactly where in my comment I said this never happens to anyone else and that I couldn't understand why other women complain about it.
posted by Lucinda at 9:17 AM on August 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah billiebee, I do think that it's important to confront shitty behavior when it's left unquestioned. Reading this thread and the one we had a few days ago about women's experiences with harassment over the internet was really eye-opening. I was just being pedantic about the characterization of the game since it was written with a very specific audience in mind. This is a good sign that it's time for me to get off the internet and go for a jog.
posted by dubusadus at 9:17 AM on August 4, 2013


I don't know why my pal went to take his car in to repair his brakes. I mean, MY brakes work fine!

If everyone you knew was having their brakes fixed multiple times per week, it might start to feel weird.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:23 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


if all the nice guys out there could help out rather than getting defensive, that would be really great.

Don't make me play the tired, busy, and lazy card. I can't do anything with those knuckleheads.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:25 AM on August 4, 2013


Group A represents the protagonist, who (in this scenario) does no wrong

It's street harassment, what kind of wrong can she do?

Additionally I think, if you're picking up on the fact that it makes all men out to be fearful you've just hit on precisely why the phenomena known as "rape culture" is such a miserable mess- women are trained to see all men as rapists as well as a risk vector because right now we don't have a solution to the problem. I already get the joy of walking down the street not really knowing which of the dudes on benches and railings is going to pop out with something. I can't smile at men because it is seen as consent to a sexualized interaction. I can't sexualize my body because it's seen as consent to an escalated interaction- I have to hide my nude modeling even away from my profile on adult websites because it's the only protection from men who want to make that the opening salvo to some truly disgusting behaviour.

The game was poorly written in its reaction- because it's hard to convey the sense of exhausting irritation without making it seem like he person is a paper rose in a rainstorm. Realistically the way I can describe this sort of entitled behaviour is as if people were dropping stones in your boot. Sometimes they're round little pebbles that you can mostly ignore ("nice shirt!" said with a boob leer) and sometimes they're sharp and nasty (touches your ass and calls you an asshole for telling him to knock it off) and once in a blue moon it's well meaning and you find a flower in your boot (that's a really pretty dress!/damn you look like you could take on the world!), but most strangers don't give you flowers. It doesn't stop you from doing your stuff, but it gets annoying and it can be crippling.

I get really tired of people telling me how I just need to confront the person or people because it isn't helpful advice and it's not like it doesn't occur to me. I will try to explain it this way:

One of the filtering mechanism we use to deal with people is to avoid those with poor boundaries. People with poor boundaries are likely to take liberties they shouldn't. Different people set their filters at different levels, and culture defines how we learned our boundaries, as does experience and upbringing- but we all look for red flags, for example the inability to have empathy with me as a person, or body language, etc...

About the safest thing I can do when someone has this little red flag pop over their head is to avoid aggro-ing them. Whether they mean well (and rapists tend to be self deluded about the victim wanting or 'deserving' it) or they're just being territorial, the easiest and best course of action is to get the heck away in the least attention grabbing method possible, even pretending I didn't hear them, if I can. This information, incidentally, is the advice given to men or fights- first, avoid and don't escalate.

A 'turn and fight!' approach is basically like I am inviting them to keep interacting with me. It's only one of the possible responses that I can default to if cornered- but many people naturally default to playing possum, and this isn't a fault in them if say, a person is humping them on the subway- it typically takes training to make a human combat ready. And it presupposes that I can fuck the person up enough to make it not worth it- I don't know if he is not so crazy that gouging one of his eyes out won't still be a net win to him if he kills me. Do you know that?

I already know that if someone is taking liberties with me they think I am asking for it. If it is a grandfatherly type being a relatively polite dirty old man, I will sometimes bring to bear huffy sarcasm or a chirpy "No thank you!" but at the end of the day these interactions functionally allow them to force me to have to have some sort of interaction with them that involves my fight or flight reflexes- the other metaphor here being if someone came up behind you whenever you were relaxed and banged a big gong and shouted.

Imagine, ungendered, if your quiet time was forever being interrupted by people with firecrackers and cymbals or a pot and spoon and war whoops, or suddenly leaping out and shouting "YOU'RE AWESOME!!!, and then other people would tell you that you need to be ready to get into a noisy shouting match if you want to be ready to read in peace, and you should be willing to wear only dull colours to not make yourself seem excitable, etc...
posted by Phalene at 9:30 AM on August 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh but before I finish lacing up these red ass running shoes, I do want to point out that I think ShawnStruck meant the best. It's hard to understand how disempowering it can be to live in a society that possesses buttloads of institutions that encourage the harassment of women and then to be a woman cognizant of these things and not be harassed.

It sounds like a double standard at first but it's consistent with the view that patriarchal notions are really shitty and do no good for anyone (unharassed women and normal men included).

Don't make me play the tired, busy, and lazy card. I can't do anything with those knuckleheads.

Sure you can. You just have to be patient and not flip your shit even though every nerve in your body tells you to. Dialing back thousands of years of sexism along with the pervasiveness of contemporary justifications is difficult but you can do it with the people you are close to. You just have to lay down specific examples, talk about lived experiences, and not be too broad in your characterizations. People have a much better time empathizing with pain and suffering when it's localized and on the ground (ex. The Diary of Anne Frank) than when it's packaged as abstract concepts (ex. Derrida). As another example, this game could be a pretty effective presentation of the localized experience with a bit more work.
posted by dubusadus at 9:35 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lucinda, I would guess it might be a combo of local culture norms, and good luck.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:54 AM on August 4, 2013


I wonder if there are pockets of harassing/not-harassing culture. Are some cities harassing, and some not? Is it more a big-city thing? Do the people reporting daily harassment live in a different place (culture) than those reporting never being harassed?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:09 AM on August 4, 2013


Don't make me play the tired, busy, and lazy card. I can't do anything with those knuckleheads.

Yeeah - that would be one of the standard responses one gets from the "Hey, I'm a guy and I'm not like that! Quit saying we're all like that!" contingent. Excellent demonstration.

I mean, people do realize that they don't have to get in the face of a street harasser or confront every guy they see ogling someone in order to Do Something, right? They do know that saying, "Hey, that's not cool," to the co-worker who's speculating on the new hire's bra size counts, right? They know that men listen to other men and they don't have to make big long speeches about being an ally in order to be heard, right?

I mean, if this stuff is so benign and street harassers are not to be feared, why do so few bystanders say anything? Why do they laugh or look away and hurry past and try not to attract the attention of the harasser? Are they all thinking "Well, I could say something, but that would be taking away her agency and I wouldn't want her to feel disempowered"? Is that what men who don't call out their friends who are making rude comments are thinking? As opposed to "Well, I could say something but then they might call me a pussy and I'll spend the night having these guys call me a girl and wouldn't that suck. And it was a compliment, really, and look - she's leaving, anyway. What's the harm in the other guys thinking I agree with them, if it keeps the peace?"

I'm going to go take a nap.
posted by camyram at 10:18 AM on August 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


Hey jeffburdges I didn't post that anecdote about the shoeshine guy so you could tell me I was doing it wrong and actually I was safe the whole time because he was just making me think he could attack us but he wasnt gonna really. There's no way for either you or I to know that
posted by sweetkid at 10:27 AM on August 4, 2013 [24 favorites]


Also it is necessary to accelerate on a crowded street because sometimes you can be physically assaulted but passersby will not help you. So you need to get away ASAP so the assault has as little a chance of happening as possible.
posted by sweetkid at 10:32 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Men are primarily responsible for street harassment" is not like "black people are primarily responsible for crime" because:

-- Men are not a historically oppressed minority
-- Men are primarily responsible for street harassment, while black people are not primarily responsible for crime
-- All men benefit from street harassment. It empowers men over women by creating an environment in which women are constantly reminded that they are continuously seen as an object of pleasure for men, while men don't have to experience that
-- Street harassment is a strong-armed bully of patriarchy. It's not just something some men do and it's coincidental that they are men. It's an example of men, explicitly, expressing power over women
-- Not all men do this. But all men benefit from the privilege of being male; not having to deal with street harassment is part of that privilege. And "not having to deal with it" means "not addressing it when it happens." It also means "rejecting that it is something men are responsible for" and "making threads about the subject into threads about how they are not personally at fault"

It's a men's issue. And if you can't address it as such, but instead hide behind false equivalences where addressing it in this way is very much like oppressing black people, you're part of the problem, because you're helping the problem to continue, and, whether you realize it or not, you're benefiting from the problem.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:45 AM on August 4, 2013 [42 favorites]


five fresh fish: "I wonder if there are pockets of harassing/not-harassing culture. Are some cities harassing, and some not? Is it more a big-city thing? Do the people reporting daily harassment live in a different place (culture) than those reporting never being harassed?"

I have - anecdotally - noticed a correlation between population density and some kinds of harassment. I live on the outskirts of a small town now, and don't see or hear the same levels of catcalls and uninivited touching that I would see when I lived/was in metropolitan suburbs or a big city - or even in the nearby college town. This is not to say there aren't leches or borderline "appreciation" here or in the more rural areas, but it's harder to get away with when I went to elementary school with you, or shop in your dad's store, and we all sorta know each other. Sexual harassment in a small town is more likely to happen between people who know each other and boundaries aren't respected.

There's more anonymity in the college town, so there's more street and public harassment. There are whole communities of people who rarely interact, and several of those communities are relatively transient. Combined with class and power issues ... well there's a significant uptick, but it still isn't as frequent as the catcalling, commentary, unsolicited ratings and evaluations, and expectations that I am there to be your plaything if you want me as I've experienced in larger cities.

That said, I've also noticed situational population density plays a role. I get more alert when I find myself in extremes of density: me and 1 guy (or a 1 pack of guys) or me and a whole lotta people packed together. This is when I've had trouble in the past. There is often a physical component (intimidating behavior, inappropriate touching, groping, isolating you to a corner or a wall, ) or a quiet predatory aspect (the whisper in the ear, the lip licking, the obscene gestures, the turn around and follow, the unseen goosing, the standing spoon) in those two situations.

Anonymity as a useful out for these harassers is a common tool. If there's no one around to call them out, or if there are too many people around to single them out (or if in a group of people they think will have their back), harassers will feel emboldened to harass. Harassment is an egotastic act, really. Many reactions will feed the ego, and those that challenge it are often met with a macho uptick to protect the ego.
posted by julen at 11:26 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apologies sweetkid, but yours was an example lying around. I simply wanted to argue that tricks exist for ruining part of the harassers day.

Intentionally ignoring like I proposed obviously places you personally at greater risk precisely because you make them angry. I just feel the actual risk of violence is so low that pissing them off is worth it. I mean, if he's yelling "FUCKING CUNT!" then you've 'won' in the sense that you've hurt his self-esteem, maybe cost him a customer, a street corner, a job, etc. If that happened every time he harassed anyone then he'd probably stop.

I accept that "Ignore him so that he must choose between losing ego points or physically touching you to illicit a response" is not an answer that's fair, but at least it's safer than camping with protestors in Zuccotti Park. Are we discussing how to stay safe or are we discussing how to protest harassment?

Actually you could simply call the police in the shoeshine guy example, explain his location and that he is harassing women who walk by. I'd assume that, at least if you saw officers in the next block and explained the situation, then they'd probably go chat with him and maybe kick him off that block. I donno if they'd always bother with a call, but if it's a slow day presumably they'd do so.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:28 AM on August 4, 2013


I mean, if he's yelling "FUCKING CUNT!" then you've 'won' in the sense that you've hurt his self-esteem

I don't...what
posted by billiebee at 11:33 AM on August 4, 2013 [29 favorites]


hobo gitano de queretaro: "I can't help but wonder if they realize that the men who are largely receiving this message were likely already on their side in the first place. "

Um, presumably the men already on our side know better than to leap to weird accusatory conclusions like that? That's what makes them on our side! And your suggestion about how our complaints and attempts at education should be worded is sort of disgusting.


jeffburdges: "Yes, men should call out men who commit harassment, but also women must stop the victim blaming.

Wait, what??

"... "sexual harassment should not influence your self-esteem".... but the females emotional response remains her choice .... simply ignoring the harasser sounds effective.""

Oh, wow, why hadn't we tried that? Thank you for solving our harassment problems, jeffburdges! And to think, all it took was a man considering our situation for five minutes and he was able to figure out how to eliminate a whole form of sexist oppression! We feeble-minded women appreciate your genius and thank you for your time, gee golly!
posted by Corinth at 11:37 AM on August 4, 2013 [35 favorites]


Jeff, do you go to the police when you see women harassed? If it's the kind of crime that the police would be interested in, wouldn't they take the word of any witness? If you see a lady's purse snatched, you would likely stay and be a witness, eh? I dare you to speak up when you see harassment.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:38 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh. Oh, jeffburdges, sweetheart, I'm not sure you get it.
posted by Corinth at 11:39 AM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just feel the actual risk of violence is so low that pissing them off is worth it.

Feel free to come on over and ignore the people who harass me. You may take that risk of violence on for me, and I will be happy for it.

Me? I HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION SO I DON'T GET RAPED, BEATEN UP, OR OTHERWISE IN NEED OF MEDICAL INTERVENTION.

Dude, did you eat a bowl of Oblivious for breakfast?
posted by MissySedai at 11:43 AM on August 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


This is like the "men offer advice, women offer sympathy" thing with more mansplaining and being patronizing.
posted by NoraReed at 11:55 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've reported kids riding around on a motorcycle in a park and coming up behind people and yelling as they past, not sure if those two did this to guys too because I've long hair and carried a computer bag that resembled a purse, but the cops I bumped into soon after were happy to try to kick them out of the park. It's not always about actually convicting anyone of anything, just give the cops a reason to mess with someone who's being a problem, frequently they'd love to do so.

Anecdotally, I've witnessed far worse harassment in France than anyplace I've lived in the English speaking world. As the worst bits fell along racial lines, there were several Scandinavian-ish ladies who claimed variations on "I became racist after moving to France." Imho, the police really need to intercede in that situation : Send a dolled up female to walk along certain neighborhoods. If approached, she could respond "I'm working" or insult the guy. If he asked how much or behaved aggressively, they arrest him. It'll discourage the behavior even if he walks. Obviously the French cops are unwilling to take it that far, but cops do deal with problematic individuals when asked to do so. You need to ask though.

Apologies if I'm coming off as patronizing, but I'd expect that, if you wish to protest harassment, then you need to inflict pain on the harassers somehow, whether that's social, police, etc. I'll keep an eye out for opportunities to point beat cops toward street harassers if I see them in proximity.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:12 PM on August 4, 2013


"Lucinda: "I really wish I knew why my experiences as a woman are so different than everyone else's here. "

ShawnStruck: I don't know why my pal went to take his car in to repair his brakes. I mean, MY brakes work fine!
"

This is not at all what Lucinda was saying, and to claim otherwise is either grossly obtuse or grossly uncharitable.

Asking this question is a good thing. It means you realize -- maybe for the first time ever -- that your experience may not be the norm, and that, in fact, may an anomaly.

My experience is very similar, and I have asked myself the same question*. I have also wanted to throw the question out to the community here but was worried about being misunderstood about a very serious issue so Lucinda, thank you for asking it. Your experience is not unique.

cybercoitus interruptus: "I would guess it might be a combo of local culture norms, and good luck."

I have come to the same conclusion about my own experience. Additionally, I think a big factor is having lived for 40 years in a city where people spend an above-average amount of time ensconced in their car, which then reduces the chances of having any kind of interaction with strangers.

five fresh fish: "I wonder if there are pockets of harassing/not-harassing culture. Are some cities harassing, and some not? Is it more a big-city thing? Do the people reporting daily harassment live in a different place (culture) than those reporting never being harassed?"

Random data points:

1) For the past five years I've probably walked past more construction sites in a day than most people walk by in a week, a month, or even a year. I have never, ever been cat-called or harassed in any way.

This is not because of some kind of "game face" or attitude, nor the fact that I am undoubtably recognized by some as a regular in the area, nor related in any way to my looks or attire**, because probably 70% of the people in my neighborhood (which is unusually walkable for L.A.) can be stereotyped into a few general groups: Tourists (who would not have game face), people on their way to or from a yoga class who are wearing clothing that can be revealing**, and people basically wearing their bathing suits**. I have never, ever heard anyone being cat-called or harassed.

I have no explanation for this.

2) As an adult I've lived all over the city, but as I child lived in West Hollywood and as an adult have spent most of my time living on the Westside, which is pretty homogenous and extremely liberal. If there are indeed differences in cities or neighborhoods these would be the places you'd expect to see a difference.

3) Living in such a large city -- both in population and geography -- has probably allowed me to self-select to some extent the circles I have worked and socialized in.

4) To the best of my recollection this has never been an ongoing topic of conversation with any of my friends. That's not to say it hasn't or doesn't happen to them, but I don't feel like my experience is as different with them as it is elsewhere.

On preview, my experience in somewhat similar circumstances definitely contradicts julen's, which probably points to mine being even more unusual.


* MetaFilter is 100% responsible for this, and I'm sure many others have been so enlightened.

** Do I need to clarify that I do not think this should be an invitation for harassment?
posted by Room 641-A at 12:20 PM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dead angry subway rider face (which may have been discussed previously in MeFi comments) helps.
I learned this when living in New York.
I am short, dark, have very short hair, and usually wear trousers and non-femme clothes. I'm not sure that I register as female at drive-by glance.
When I am harassed by street types, it's as a dyke.

My opinion of the DC Metro has dropped another few notches. Not only does Metro have mold-infested cars, mold growing in the double-paned windows, overheated cars, unpredictable delays, incomprehensible intercoms, Canada goose infestations (outside stations), and excessively high fares, it has workers who go around calling women "lezzies." I wish I had gone up to the guy and asked him for his ID, name and number, so I could report him, but Metro would of course do nothing.

There is another kind of harassment -- ostensibly non-rude, old school, as in 90-year-old Southern gentleman old school, pseudo-courtly condescension. In nice office clothes, I have gotten this little-girl treatment from such guys, who don't have the excuse of actually being 90 years old. Now my own hair is greying, it doesn't happen anymore.
posted by bad grammar at 12:45 PM on August 4, 2013


I discussed this thread with my wife, who has basically never been publicly harassed as described in this thread, and is attractive and slim and in her late twenties. We concluded that it's mainly because she is much taller than most American women (5'10") and has kind of a stern neutral expression. We live in NYC.

NOT claiming that this never happens to other women or that this isn't a problem. Just throwing in my $0.000001.
posted by pravit at 12:46 PM on August 4, 2013


jeffburdges, the words are "women" and "men."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:57 PM on August 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


RE: "Why don't I get harassed?": I think I have a default "fuck off" expression or something because I get catcalled and yelled at when I'm walking by myself or with others and people would randomly try to bother me from cars when I rode my scooter everywhere, but in situations where I might actually respond I tend to get somewhat less shit. I also tend not to get hit on in bars and stuff like that, though this is probably partially because I tend to be in mixed groups and near men who can "claim" me. I think most of it is luck: basic luck as to these dudes not noticing you on individual occasions and luck for where you live and where you need to go and whether those routes take you past these men. I have noticed my friends tend to get inappropriately hit on and otherwise harassed when I'm with them and that this happens more to curvier women and women of color. I also get harassed in groups or pairs of women but not in the same with mixed groups or pairs; I think there are specific types of harassment that seem to happen specifically to lesbians or women who are read as lesbians (whether alone or in couples/pairs) as well, but I haven't spent enough time in same-sex relationships to have a decent block of data on that.
posted by NoraReed at 1:10 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit bewildered by that pravit. I mean, lucky her! But. I know plenty of women in NYC who are tall and slim and attractive and are harassed.

Personally I get harassment a lot -- I was counting today because of this thread, and while out and about I got seven comments- four " WOW you're beautiful," one "señorita something something" shouted from a car, one "you have a tropical look" (wtf?) and one guy who said hello gorgeous and got mad because I ignored him "ok it's like that."

I am ethnically Asian Indian but most people think I am some ambiguous brown ethnicity and often people decide I am whatever they want me to be, and I think this has a lot to do with the level of harassment I get. I'm also 5'2" and have a baby face. I try to be stern or whatever if I'm feeling like I'm going to be harassed, but they just take it as my being a snob or "uppity."
posted by sweetkid at 1:15 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh also: I am single and so go about on my own a lot - of course I have been harassed when with my family, as in my previous example, and when walking with men, but it is much more rare (and when with men, it's often "you are one lucky man!" to the guy which has been awkward when it's like my boss).
posted by sweetkid at 1:18 PM on August 4, 2013


There is often a physical component (intimidating behavior, inappropriate touching, groping, isolating you to a corner or a wall)

This is where laying a beatdown is required. Fuckers that pull that shit will only learn through reciprocal, extreme violence. Stand your ground—if not by shooting the fucker, then by macing or tazing him.

Also: Jesus, Jeff.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:24 PM on August 4, 2013


Trying to make rhyme or reason of why some people are harassed and others are not raises more contradictions than clarity.

I'm as tall as pravit's hassle-free gal. And I get hassled.

I live in the same locale as Room 641-A (howdy, neighbor!). And I get hassled.

I'm not young. And I get hassled.

I am fearless to the point of folly, karate-bodied, and walk with a swagger (just because), and I get hassled.

I get hassled when I dress like a schlub. I don't necessarily get hassled when I am dressed to kill.

You tell me what the algorithm is here?
posted by nacho fries at 1:25 PM on August 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


This is where laying a beatdown is required. Fuckers that pull that shit will only learn through reciprocal, extreme violence. Stand your ground—if not by shooting the fucker, then by macing or tazing him.

But none of this is actually possible in real life. I'm not physically strong enough to take on a large man in a fight, and I don't have a gun or mace or a taser and it wouldn't be legal to use them if I did.
posted by billiebee at 1:34 PM on August 4, 2013 [14 favorites]


Not to mention the psychological implications of macing/knifing/killing every harasser which would leave a lot of blood on my hands and make me a superhero level of crime fighter.
posted by sweetkid at 1:39 PM on August 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


Yeah, real-life fights are not like in the movies. It's messy, chaotic, and there is no slow-mo / pause button to allow you to position yourself perfectly, get out your weapon/mace/tazer, take calm aim, and let rip.

And even seasoned streetfighters will tell you that avoiding an actual beat-down situation is by far the wisest approach. You just never know what the other party is bringing to the fight.
posted by nacho fries at 1:43 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


You tell me what the algorithm is here?

Yeah, it makes no fucking sense. Assholes gonna ass?

Jay Smooth released a new video and though he was talking about race I feel like what he said about advice tends to follow the conversations about harassment pretty well, in this thread and in wider culture in general: "There's two kinds of advice that people usually give: There's advice that you give to try to help someone with their problems and then there's advice that you give to try to help yourself feel better about not knowing how to help them with their problems and the difference is all in the context."

And yeah, actually doing something about harassment-- other than dealing with it, living your life and going on with your day, which is fucking hard enough-- would take a serious time commitment, even if there is something you can do about it, and the whole "why aren't you fighting them/saying something/calling the cops" not only puts all the responsibility on the victim but it asks her to interrupt her day every time this happens (which can be a lot of times a day!) and do something that takes emotional energy or requires legal action (and a lot of emotional energy from dealing with that, too-- I mean, if cops are regularly terrible and hostile to rape victims how do you think they're gonna be to victims of harassment?). I mean, that's asking us to put ourselves in physical and legal danger EVERY TIME, and a lot of women face this multiple times of day, and asking that is basically like telling women that they should feel guilty for not bothering every time it happens and putting all the onus on them.
posted by NoraReed at 1:43 PM on August 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


I wonder if there are pockets of harassing/not-harassing culture

Of course there are. That's one of the things that's why India keeps getting its butt in the news. Acceptable sexual behaviour is also time related, with enthusiastic consent becoming increasingly more fashionable.

Stand your ground—if not by shooting the fucker, then by macing or tazing him.

I don't want to die in a poorly thought out confrontation, and I don't want to issue the death penalty for sexual assault, which is effectively what you are asking me to be ready to do if it escalates. Can we not require me to inflict physical damage on someone who outweighs me, is stronger than me and has already defined themselves as a crazy person with a poor concept of consequences?

And can you understand how blindingly offensive it is for you to tell me to try to solve a problem that is systemic sexism with violence? Shall I slap people for gender imbalances in engineering too?
posted by Phalene at 1:46 PM on August 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


which would leave a lot of blood on my hands

the laundry bills would be a nightmare/
posted by billiebee at 1:46 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's one of the things that's why India keeps getting its butt in the news

I think "harassment is acceptable in India" is a massive blanket statement and a kinda gross derail. Also there have been major protests there about the recent sexual violence and harassment, which have also been in the news.
posted by sweetkid at 1:50 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


You tell me what the algorithm is here?

There's no top-down solution, you just have to report to the nearest certified mansplainer and implement whatever protocols and lifestyle changes he indicates in your specific case.

Or you can take your complaint to the Status Quo Review Board. (It may come to the attention of a roving Enforcement Agent as well.) Your case will be examined in isolation with the starting assumption that you are exaggerating and there is no problem to be solved. Be sure to get all your research and citations lined up. Remember, if they can find one thing wrong, one single counter-example or grey area, they will dismiss your case entirely. Try to avoid the double-bind where either you either could have easily avoided what happened, or else you did everything right but just got unlucky, which can't be helped, so either way it's not a problem for them.
posted by bleep-blop at 2:02 PM on August 4, 2013 [30 favorites]


Me:There is often a physical component (intimidating behavior, inappropriate touching, groping, isolating you to a corner or a wall)

five fresh fish: "This is where laying a beatdown is required. Fuckers that pull that shit will only learn through reciprocal, extreme violence. Stand your ground—if not by shooting the fucker, then by macing or tazing him."

The thing is: I have to decide in every situation which solution is going to get me out of it in the safest manner possible. Sometimes it's lying ("I'm meeting my boyfriend at the MetroCenter; he's not going to be happy with any dude this close to me." "Oh god [restrained wretching sound], I'm going to throw up - do you have a bag or something I could use?). Sometimes it is yelling or talking loudly ("Get your hand off my breast." "Excuse me." "Here, let me get out of your way."). Sometimes it's silence/ignoring what has just happened/is happening. Sometimes it is running. Sometimes it's the fake phone call. Sometimes it is turning around and walking quickly away. Sometimes it's a combination of things. And sometimes, yes, it's a violent physical act: There are certain things you can do to me and my elbow will come flying out because it's a trigger from past traumas. (These can not be confused with regular incidental brushes by)

I've tried to restrain myself from that because not seeing someone's face/physical actions and acting violently is foolhardy - if I think I can lie to get out of that, I'd rather try that first than to have another experience where my elbow flies backward, gets grabbed, twisted, and then him trying to get the subway car to agree that I assaulted him because I'm a fucking bitch who really needs to be taught a lesson. He's going to get the cops. He's still holding onto my twisted elbow at this point, and I'm furious and crying. I'm also grateful to the older lady who looked at him and said essentially: I saw you grinding your crotch into her butt and you should be glad she just elbowed you. I'd have punched you. That experience stayed vividly with me for days, and not just because my elbow was aching and bruised.
posted by julen at 2:03 PM on August 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


Or you can take your complaint to the Status Quo Review Board.

Indeed. After which, I should seek therapy with an Evolutionary Psychologist who will 'splain how it's just good ol' Survival of the Species at work. Maters gonna mate.
posted by nacho fries at 2:17 PM on August 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


pravit: I discussed this thread with my wife, who has basically never been publicly harassed as described in this thread, and is attractive and slim and in her late twenties. We concluded that it's mainly because she is much taller than most American women (5'10") and has kind of a stern neutral expression. We live in NYC.

My girlfriend is tall, slim, and attractive and she's been harassed plenty. A few weeks ago she was telling me about an experience she had walking down the street when some guys pulled up to her in a car and asked her if she wanted a ride. She told them no and kept walking. So, naturally, they decide slowly roll along next to her for about a block in complete silence until she reached a busy corner.

I don't think physical characteristics have that much to do with it. If you're within that age range extending from prepubescence to essentially menopause and you happen to be a woman, there's a chance that someone somewhere will feel the desire to harass you.

jeffburdges: Apologies if I'm coming off as patronizing, but I'd expect that, if you wish to protest harassment, then you need to inflict pain on the harassers somehow, whether that's social, police, etc. I'll keep an eye out for opportunities to point beat cops toward street harassers if I see them in proximity.

I've asked my girlfriend in those situations, "Well, why don't you just mace the fuckers". It's similar to asking why she didn't report it to the police. There's an answer for that: most officers of the law aren't particularly inclined to pursue someone based on circumstantial evidence. They are trained to be skeptical of civilian accounts. What they will do is arrest her since it's the harasser's words against hers and they're the ones who were maced.

Skepticism towards civilians is a strategy that limits the abuse of the legal system but it's not without costs. For instance, pair that attitude with the trope that most women as hysterical or irrational or on their period and you get a small minority of officers who are inclined to act in a situation like the ones above. Pair that with the fact that the vast majority of officers are men who don't know what the lived experiences of women are and are rarely interested. Pair that with the outward appearance of someone who is dealing with the anxiety of being harassed from the street and you start getting a clearer picture.

Women don't have a lot of success reporting harassment. Have you seen The Invisible War? Over and over again there were stories of women who were raped and beaten who reported it to their superior officer only to have their cases shuffled off into some forgotten filing cabinet. Civilian police forces and military forces share identical structures. The gender makeup of their forces are similar. Their attitudes towards women are similar. If that's how unsuccessful women are at reporting cases of sexual assault and battery, can you imagine how laughable it is when an officer hears a woman reporting harassment? Granted, they still should report it but it's neither as easy or as successful as you make it out to be and it's not the answer.

For what it's worth, my girlfriend has said that her experiences in America haven't been nearly as aggressive or blatant compared to her experiences in sub-Saharan Africa and South America. I've heard that machismo culture more or less encourages sexual assault as the norm which ultimately results in really horrible rates of domestic violence. This does not excuse the harassment that does happen in the United States but it does illuminate the end result of a heavily patriarchal society. South American countries have the highest rates of femicide due to domestic violence on top of extremely high rates of domestic violence and extremely high rates of rape. It's only made worse when you realize that corrupt municipalities underreport these crimes due to bribery. There's men at every stage failing to take action. Even in the US, with its relatively robust criminal justice system, less than half of all rapes are reported and only 3% of them lead to prison sentences. And remember, we're still just talking about street harassment.

Your advice is patronizing because it dismisses the lived reality of what it's like to walk a day in those shoes. Whether or not you choose to believe the women in this thread who have recounted dozens upon dozens of cases of sexual harassment, you should know that patriarchal institutions and notions exist and they are pervasive. The way you fight these things doesn't start with giving pithy, no-nonsense advice. That doesn't remove you of your responsibility to educate the men and women who reinforce these norms when and wherever you can.
posted by dubusadus at 2:35 PM on August 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


A bit of necessary levity for those who might need it: Here's Ever Mainard's "Here's Your Rape!" stand-up that reminds me there are people who get it.

Also, jeffburdges, with all respect, you have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by lauranesson at 2:36 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


But none of this is actually possible in real life.

Alas. There really does not seem to be a solution, because the creeps aren't going to stop being creeps unless they fear being creepy.

It really sucks all around.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:40 PM on August 4, 2013


Yes there is no immediate solution but talking about it is important which is why we're doing it here.
posted by sweetkid at 2:43 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Alright, I accept that any suggestion I dreamed up are garbage, well never experienced the situation, context, etc. And creepy men are too physically aggressive against women for brinksmanship via the silent treatment. I'll buy that, fair enough. What is the solution though?

Men should call out other men? Will do. That should help given that study about aggression towards the opposite sex being used for social status. I've called out friends for racism occasionally, seems not too different.

What else needs to actually happen though? Is there an experiment in police awareness some academic is proposing that we can lobby for with a change.org petition? Will Google glass help?

On preview, I do not believe that no solution exists either. We're rubbish at controlling self destructive behaviors, but society has reformed behaviors that actually harm other people before. It's nice to convince people a problem matters, but until you've actual proposals not much changes.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:05 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It might help if we taught all kids, by example, that publicly calling out any form of disrespect or bullying when we see it is the normal response. If every time a woman was being harassed and all the other people - men and women - at the bus stop or on the train or whatever started loudly telling the guy to stop, rather than looking at their shoes, it might send a different message about what we tolerate as a society.
posted by billiebee at 3:09 PM on August 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


but until you've actual proposals not much changes.

So, what, we should stop talking about it? You seem to be really invested in women handling this in ways that you find acceptable.
posted by KathrynT at 3:10 PM on August 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


Changes in regards to rates of domestic violence often happen at the local level. You can, for one thing, look up the laws governing your jurisdiction. Compare the rates of violence near where you live with the rest of the country. Are there significant differences? Can they be lower?

Sure. They can always be lower.

Write to your local representatives about your concern. Gather data and present it to local news channels. If you attend a religious organization, see if you can get them to talk about domestic violence. See if you can get them to talk about harassment and how easy it is to slip from perceived gregariousness into creep territory. Volunteer at a shelter. Call out friends when you can and call out strangers if you're in a situation that needs you to do so. Talk about it with people on MetaFilter and on the rest of the internet. Call out privilege when you see it. Continue educating yourself. Write essays and get published in lay journals. Write a blog detailing your intellectual adventure into feminist theory. Write short stories detailing how not to be an asshole and try to get published. Good luck. Nobody reads short stories anymore but nerds (;_;).

There's actually a lot that you can do. That's just the stuff I can list off the top of my head and I'm just an inexperienced, 24-year-old nobody. I'm sure you can figure out better solutions with more measurable effects.
posted by dubusadus at 3:25 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, honestly, basically the only thing I can see working is social pressure from other guys. Which sucks. I have, as a woman, risked violence and told off guys for hassling women on a number of occasions. It generally shuts them up for the moment, but it's pretty clear there wouldn't be any lasting effect.

This spring I was on the way to work at about eight in the morning, dressed in my paint clothes. A random guy walking toward me was giving me the "I'm gonna talk to a stranger" look and I figured he wanted a cigarette. That happens, and it's cool, I'm friendly, I'll give them a cigarette. Then I saw he was already smoking. He asked me how I was doing. I said, "Fine. 'Morning," and kept walking past him. He started moving toward me and said, "There are a lot of guys out here right now," in a low voice and every red flag started waving. He changed directions to start following me. I said, "Back the fuck up. Go where you were going." He laughed. I started walking faster. He kept following me. He asked me why I was so angry. I started looking for someone to help me, at least be a witness if something went down. I saw a twenty-something guy across the street and yelled to him. "This guy's following me and I don't know him." The guy across the street looked uncomfortable and put his head down. I yelled, "I'm not joking. I need your help." The other guy kept walking. I pulled out my phone and dialed nine-one and kept walking.

The man followed me for four blocks until I could get lost in a crowd. I kept my eyes open for him at the subway platform.

What ought I have done?
posted by lauranesson at 3:31 PM on August 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


I will say, though, I was proud of the time when I was walking home at night and a guy on a bicycle rode past me twice masturbating in my general direction. I called the police and said, "Hi, there's a guy who keeps riding his bike past me with his dick out." The man on the phone said, "Excuse me?!" as he was offended by my language. "I KNOW, RITE?!" I said.

(The operator's solution was to have me wait where I was until the police showed up. Which is not ideal, given that there was a man in the vicinity who had already exposed himself to me twice. I tried to strike a compromise in promising the dispatcher that I'd still be walking north on the same street a few minutes from then, but it didn't work. Luckily, the flasher asshole was scared off when I told him I was calling the cops. Otherwise, who knows?)
posted by lauranesson at 3:41 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The operator's solution was to have me wait where I was until the police showed up

Sure that sounds perfectly safe.
posted by sweetkid at 3:45 PM on August 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


I never expressed an opinion on what is acceptable, KathrynT. I rambled on about passive-aggressively ignoring harassers, but everyone says women won't get away with doing so, fine.

Anti-bullying measures and hopefully education are seemingly becoming a thing now, billiebee, so maybe that'll help, assuming they actually put some research into it too rather than simply checking a box.

I've no clue, lauranesson. What would 911 do if you report merely that you're being followed and ask them to remain on the line for a moment? It's important to know if 911 is free or expensive in your area I guess.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:46 PM on August 4, 2013


Yeah, honestly, basically the only thing I can see working is social pressure from other guys. Which sucks. I have, as a woman, risked violence and told off guys for hassling women on a number of occasions. It generally shuts them up for the moment, but it's pretty clear there wouldn't be any lasting effect.

I think speaking up as a woman is helpful sometimes--there are some guys who are emboldened enough when they think no one's looking, but go slinking off into the shadows when it becomes clear that someone, anyone, is paying attention. But then again, there are other guys who will use that as an opportunity to turn on the intercessor, and especially if the intercessor is female. That's one of the barriers; the other is that a lot of people, (this may be part of the divide that a few people have mentioned, because I think it's especially true in cities) generally err on the side of "don't intervene in other people's business", which is generally a good rule to live by, but not when you think there's something fucked-up going on.
posted by kagredon at 3:52 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's important to know if 911 is free or expensive in your area I guess.

You see how this is weird, right? I think you mean (and I might be wrong) that I'd be charged for dialing 911? Any amount of money I'd have to pay for dialing 911 would be worth my LIFE.

There's no solution if women are the only people trying to solve it. There's just no way. I've tried every iteration. I've ignored, I've laughed at them, I've yelled "I'm married," I've tried to enlist strangers, I've called the police, I've politely declined, I've rudely declined. Hell, I lectured a guy for about ten minutes on 9th Avenue that asking random women how they could find a nice girl like her wasn't going to work out for him.

What we need is a culture that values women as human beings, and I know full-well that's a far cry from what we've got. It sounds, though, like you're starting to come around, which is awesome. So any time you get the opportunity to tell another guy to knock it off, please seriously do so with the full assurance that I'm properly happy that you did so. That's such a small thing that could do such a good thing.
posted by lauranesson at 3:56 PM on August 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


What we need is a culture that values women as human beings...

This is really the long and the short of it. Do whatever you can to push this goal, which is a hell of a lot, sadly.
posted by odinsdream at 4:09 PM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


There are reasons why most discussions of sexual violence and harassment are all about "what women can do" and not about how to eliminate sexual violence and harassment in the first place.

The fundamental principle of this rape culture is that men will do what men will do and it's all up to women to find ways to redirect or otherwise manage those mostly uncontrollable male urges. And, of course, women really can't control male behavior this way, just like in general we can't ever really control what other people do, and so the whole "what women can do" thing is a lie. A very convenient lie because it a) perpetuates the status quo while appearing to be empowering and offering hope, and b) implicitly places the responsibility for sexual violence and harassment on women.

Every time you find yourself responding to discussions of sexual violence and harassment with advice about "what women can do" — whether it's about appearance, affect, verbal exchanges, self-defence, whatever — you're part of the problem, not part of the solution.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:20 PM on August 4, 2013 [29 favorites]


Look I'm not sure what snappy comebacks are supposed to achieve. It's like, hey ladies, just insult that guy right back, instead of ignoring it or letting it make you feel bad/like people are treating you like less than a person! There you go, you have now combatted harassment rather than being a "victim."

I can tell you what it achieves, although you've kind of hit it. It turns the tables on someone who was trying to frighten me or make me feel bad. If it was someone showing off for his friends, it kind of deflates him. It throws the aggressor off-balance. I'm not just going to insult someone back, I want it to be funny or confusing. Its how I win the situation, instead of just letting it chip away at me. I mean, yeah, the only way to win is not to play, but if I can make it funny, that feels like winning to me, even if it's only that round.

Of course, it doesn't Solve All The Harassment Forever, and it's very much a situational thing. All the coping mechanisms and defenses I have built up are situational. Some things are easy to ignore. Some things are smile and nod. Some things are bitchface. Some people I have engaged and told them what they were doing wasn't cool (which actually turned into a respectful conversation -this only happened once ever.) And sometimes I have had to seek shelter in the nearest business, hide behind a dumpster, call the police. I have developed a sense of how to react to my gut instincts through years of trial and error.

It's fucked up that I have to do that, but I don't have the option of insulating myself from it. Some days it's easier to deal with than others.I fervently wish that I didn't have to at all.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:30 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


This thread is a better Female Experience Simulator than the game itself.
posted by like_a_friend at 5:21 PM on August 4, 2013 [21 favorites]


it turns the tables on someone who was trying to frighten me or make me feel bad. If it was someone showing off for his friends, it kind of deflates him.

Sometimes it does that. Sometimes it brings on more anger, danger and crazy like it did in the story about the shoeshine guy. Like you said situational. Personally I've never seen a guy deflated or feel bad if I talk back, they either laugh or get really scary or are just happy I'm giving them attention.
posted by sweetkid at 5:22 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been away for most of the day, and I am pretty startled by the directions this thread has taken. I would think we can do better than dismissing women's personal accounts of harassment and offering impractical advice (however well-intentioned). Sometimes the best approach to a complex problem is to just listen and offer general support...
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:01 PM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


For all of you with magic solutions, what am I gonna do with my four-year-old while I'm macing and tazing and snappy comeback making and swearing and bolting and calmly talking and calling cops (and being put on hold and asked why the fuck I called the cops because a truck full of dudes said something to me)?

And what the fuck is any of that gonna teach her?

I mean, it's nice that somehow my emotional reaction is supposed to be logical and a 'choice' but it isn't. And neither is hers. She doesn't understand the words that those guys are saying but she sure as fuck knows that it's unkind, that it's mean, that it's not aimed at making me happy. But she can read their emotions, their posturing, and she knows what it's meant to do.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:34 PM on August 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


I've no clue

Then perhaps instead of ardently arguing with the women who are trying to help clue you up, you LISTEN and THINK about what we are telling you.

I don't know if you feel like you need to hand us a roll of duct tape, or what your motivations are in your "why don't you just do this thing that I, a man, think will be effective" commentary, but it isn't helpful.
posted by MissySedai at 6:52 PM on August 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't think anyone said they had any magical solutions.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:22 PM on August 4, 2013


You're right, Corinth. That was disgusting of me. I apologize.

I need to step back and listen rather than participate in this topic. Honestly, thank you for bothering to specifically point that out to me. I really do appreciate it.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 7:31 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


louche mustachio: "I don't think anyone said they had any magical solutions."

If you ignore him he'll go away is a magical solution.

Decide not to be upset by the graphic description of dick sucking is a magical solution.

If you'd just done 'x' then they wouldn't bother you/it wouldn't happen/they'd lose is a magical solution.

The sheer hypothetical fucking 'winner' concept is a magical solution because while they get to fucking swan off I've had to make a concious choice on how to react, how to respond, and to marshal my emotions less my upset be allowing them to win.

Those are magical solutions because they don't solve anything, they handwave away what is apparently the 'real' problem of women not liking being sexually harassed and talking about it without appropriate deference to the male problem solvers whose 'suggestions' are so utterly bound up with their own blind fucking privilege their solution is a goddamn insult.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:24 PM on August 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


So something happened to me yesterday that, though I don't even know if it qualified as harassment, sort of made me realize why harassment makes me so angry.

It was around 10:30 at night, I was walking to the subway in an unfamiliar neighborhood, going home from a party. My roommate had been at the party; we could have gone home together, but I wanted to leave earlier than he did so I was walking alone. I came up behind 3 guys. I was walking faster than them. As I came up behind them they turned around, and started asking me questions. 'Why are you chasing us?' and 'Those are nice shoes, where did you get them?', which made me extremely aware that I was wearing heels that I probably wouldn't be able to run in. They moved aside to let me pass them but I felt unsafe doing so. I didn't want to have to pass them (giving them an opportunity to do who-knows-what) and I didn't want them behind me. I knew that these guys were probably just slightly drunk, overly friendly guys who didn't mean me any harm, but in a split second everything that could happen to me ran through my head, and I turned on the spot and started walking as fast as I could in the other direction, even though it was taking me out of my way, and even though it meant figuring out a different route to the subway in a neighborhood I didn't know.

In that moment I felt like literally anything they did to me would have been at least partially my fault. For what? For wearing the wrong thing? For leaving the party at the wrong time? For being a woman, alone, in public.

Harassment makes me so angry because it leaves you with no good options.
You ignore-- and they 'win', you feel shitty, they feel good, they laugh at you because you were bothered by their comments.
You respond-- and any escalation that happens is your fault (not actually, but you feel that way), because you should have just ignored it. You feel shitty anyway. Not to mention that if they escalate it, you end up feeling more scared and vulnerable than if you'd just ignored it.

Sometimes I respond. Sometimes I don't. It never makes me feel better about it. That is one of two things that rang true to me about this game. Firstly, that literally no matter what you wear, where you go, or what you're doing, you might be harassed. Secondly, that when it happens, there is no win state. Your options are feeling shitty and feeling slightly less shitty, but you never know which choice (respond or ignore) is going to be the one that leaves you feeling worse.
posted by matcha action at 8:51 PM on August 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'd like to mention that, however tiresome it may be for others, I've found the back-and-forth on possible responses to be really educational. I learn by trying to do things. You can roughly think of them as experiments of the form, "Well, if this works like I think, then when I do this, things look like that." So, while I may quibble with the text-adventure presentation (just show the flowchart!) and the content (cry, go home, and change? really?), I do like the basic format of showing possible responses and the expected outcome for each.

For similar reasons, I think I've learned a lot from reading this thread. Jeffburdges is getting some grief for his suggestions, but if he hadn't posted them I wouldn't have had the chance to read people's explanations of how they would all end poorly in various ways. So I thank you, Jeffburdges, for taking the time to write in. It would have been a lot easier to read the thread, note the prevailing sentiment, and
keep your head down.

Nobody I know has told me about street harassment, but, as a microcosm of the general phenomenon you're discussing here, I've recently started to hear about "creepiness" among contra dancers. I say "creepiness" instead of "sexual harassment" because that's the term people use when they tell me about what happened to them, and I quote it because it seems to be a fuzzy term: I've heard it used to describe behaviors ranging from forcing somebody into a dip after being told not to (which is bright-line inappropriate everywhere I've danced) to asking somebody to dance (which I would do without a second thought).

So I'm pretty new to all this, and I'll be watching this thread for further examples.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:59 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's hard to understand how disempowering it can be to live in a society that possesses buttloads of institutions that encourage the harassment of women and then to be a woman cognizant of these things and not be harassed.

This seems to be the Metafilter thread where women who fit this profile are finally doing more than reading and being afraid to speak up for fear they'll be condescended to, inferred to be unattractive, or otherwise have conclusions drawn about them that aren't true...

...in the midst of a thread that's all about anger at conclusions drawn based on appearance.

Hi, I'm one of these women. And some of you aren't behaving much better than those you're vilifying.
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:25 AM on August 5, 2013


Hi, I'm also a woman who rarely if ever gets harassed. I haven't picked up the implication from this thread that being a woman who doesn't get harassed means I'm unattractive or that I can expect to be condescended to if I discuss my own experiences.

Of course, if I were to discuss my experience in terms that seemed to imply that I don't get harassed because I'm smarter or tougher or otherwise better or more special in any way than the women who do get harassed, I would probably get a snarkier, more hostile response.

But as far as I can tell, when I compare what other women say about their experiences with my own experience, my almost-total freedom from harassment is not due to anything special about me. Sure, there are things I could point at ("I walk with confident body language"), but those things are also true about women who get harassed regularly.

I mean, that's the message at the core of this simulator, it seems: Whether a woman gets harassed is not something that she can prevent by her behavior or appearance. The fact that some women don't get harassed doesn't change the fact that many women do, and it doesn't mean that those women could have avoided it if they'd dressed differently/held their heads higher/walked down a different street/whistled Figaro as they went/anything else.
posted by Lexica at 8:55 AM on August 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


I've recently started to hear about "creepiness" among contra dancers.

I used to contra dance and, unfortunately, in that scene this is unpleasanantly common. I think just asking someone to dance is an extreme outlier interpretation (in most contra dance cultures that's exactly what your supposed to do), but in addition to attracting plenty of decent guys, contra seems to also attract a subset of somewhat socially awkward men who use the opportunity for physical contact with women to cross boundaries - some knowingly, some, I think, unknowingly. A hand too low on the lower back or side, an overly intense grip on the body during a swing, an insistent pursuit of eye contact beyond what is comfortable - there is really a lot of this. It's a hazard of swing, and women do talk about it amongst themselves. Eventually you know who's likely to behave like this and just do your best to avoid dancing with them. They tend to catch newbies, though. It's one of the most negative aspects of this scene and one that is commonplace and I'm surprised not more openly discussed (there tends to be a desire to not make waves!)

Oddly, in swing dance I really didn't experience much of this at all.
posted by Miko at 8:56 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This seems to be the Metafilter thread where women who fit this profile are finally doing more than reading and being afraid to speak up for fear they'll be condescended to, inferred to be unattractive,

No one has said that women who aren't harassed are unattractive. Often in this thread, it's the women themselves who haven't been harassed who mention something like that - "I'm fat, I'm old, I'm ugly, I have a bitchface" whatever.

To the women who don't get harassed - do you notice when other women get harassed? Have you noticed men make crass jokes about women in your presence, or overheard comments? I mean there are so many ways to notice this without having people yell, "hey, baby" at you, personally. There are many men in this thread who seem to have noticed.

...in the midst of a thread that's all about anger at conclusions drawn based on appearance.

Is that what this thread is about?
posted by sweetkid at 9:57 AM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


To the women who don't get harassed - do you notice when other women get harassed? Have you noticed men make crass jokes about women in your presence, or overheard comments? I mean there are so many ways to notice this without having people yell, "hey, baby" at you, personally. There are many men in this thread who seem to have noticed.

Yes, of course I have seen other women get harassed. Of course I have noticed misogynistic behavior and attitudes. I don't think anyone who has said they've never a direct target has stated that (1) it's nonexistent (2) it's not a problem. Why does that continue to come up in this thread, then? I count three times, and maybe I've missed a couple.

Is that what this thread is about?

In a thread where someone described harassment as "a fairly regular event for an attractive female," it's hard for me not to draw that as at least a partial conclusion.

(And I am very sorry, but I need to bow out of this thread now because I have meatspace obligations. MeMail, etc.)
posted by gnomeloaf at 10:26 AM on August 5, 2013


I'm fat, I'm old, I'm ugly, I have a bitchface" whatever.

The only woman who calls herself "fat" in this thread is a woman relating a harassment situation. But hey, thanks for the generalization!
posted by Lucinda at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2013



In a thread where someone described harassment as "a fairly regular event for an attractive female," it's hard for me not to draw that as at least a partial conclusion.


The vast majority of commenters have been talking about how this is an issue for most women from puberty through menopause, because of women's place in society and an overall lack of respect for women as autonomous individuals and not objects for men to comment on.

The whole point of the post, and therefore comments, is how it's not about attractiveness necessarily.
posted by sweetkid at 10:39 AM on August 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


who use the opportunity for physical contact with women to cross boundaries - some knowingly, some, I think, unknowingly.

I hate this. I hate that it's so hard to do anything about it. Avoiding men you know who are "creepy" but not having the ability, in a social context, to just flat out tell them to go to Hell, because you have to see them again. The manager who gets too close, the customer who shakes your hand and holds it just too long, the colleague who converses mainly with your nipples... Ugh.

And that's sexual harassment, and the thin edge of the wedge of rape culture, but what can you do?
"Hi officer, this man I work with stares constantly at my tits and puts his hand on my shoulder or my back sometimes and he makes me feel uncomfortable and angry.... Hello?"
I can't confront him because this (real) guy has a really bad temper so he would make life difficult, and he's besties with the boss. And what do you do if they're otherwise nice enough? A colleague was leaving last week and we always got on well, and when I was saying goodbye I gave him a hug and he just held it too tight and far too long, past the point where I was trying to pull back. And I was kind of suprised and creeped out but I never said anything. Because what do you say? "You hugged me too long. Bastard!" So instead I just felt sort of sad and skeevy. I felt like he'd manipulated the situation to "steal" some physical contact that he knew I wouldnt consent to otherwise. I was sad because I thought he was one of the Good Guys. But hey, I hugged him first so, y'know, not a leg to stand on.

I can handle myself with a stranger calling out something, because the anger carries me through. But when it's actually someone you're forced to interact with, even occasionally, that's when I feel most disempowered I think.
posted by billiebee at 10:44 AM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Billie, I'm facing that with a guy at my kayak club now, where he's just gotten way more huffy lately.

This thread has convinced me to speak up plainly next time, though, so thank you all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:47 AM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


the colleague who converses mainly with your nipples.

With this thing specifically, I stop talking and look at my boobs, too. It's worked every time.
posted by sweetkid at 10:55 AM on August 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


this is an issue for most women from puberty through menopause,

Because beginning in your mid-to-late 40s...what happens exactly?

Sweetkid, I totally know what you meant and your intent when you said that, so we have no beef, but I do think this is a good example of how there could be different interpretations about how/if attractiveness is being addressed here.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:33 AM on August 5, 2013


I wasn't the person who said that puberty through menopause was when this happens it was someone else. We've also had comments about four year old girls seeing the influence it has on their mothers. The point is that this is an issue that affects women and isnt about "hot or not."
posted by sweetkid at 11:37 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh no, I'm sorry! I was going by your comment here, but I see now you were referring to this:
I don't think physical characteristics have that much to do with it. If you're within that age range extending from prepubescence to essentially menopause and you happen to be a woman, there's a chance that someone somewhere will feel the desire to harass you.
But now that I see the full comment I stand by my point that there could be different interpretations about how/if attractiveness/desirability is being addressed here. Still, no beefs from me all around.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:54 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, no beefs here either.
posted by sweetkid at 11:55 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, for whatever reason (I think round face, skinny with fat booty, hair often in a bun) I got comparisons to Popeye's girl friend from highschool to my spinal cord injury. Men would shout it at me. That was a lot of fun when I'd go into work with my nice little suit, carrying my satchel, on my way to court and some construction worker would yell HEEEEY OLIVE OIL

God, how I would cringe. Would a guy who had the dimensions of, I don't know, Peter Griffin get that? I don't know. But it was this weirdly specific harassment thing that was degrading. What do you say to your formal male boss after a guy has yelled HEEEEY IT'S OLIVE OIL while you and your boss are bopping down the street? I don't know.
posted by angrycat at 1:11 PM on August 5, 2013


(and that was to the attractiveness thing. aside from the booty, I am not sure that Olive is considered to be a creature of sexual allure. but then, I could be projecting)
posted by angrycat at 1:13 PM on August 5, 2013


I've spent a lot of time comparing notes with female friends, coworkers, relatives, etc, and the one thing I've learned is that your (lack of) beauty or age doesn't really seem to matter whether or not you get harassed and how much - I have some friends who are far better looking than me who haven't experienced much of this at all, and other lovelier friends who have experienced more than I have. There's no rhyme or reason to it, mostly because we're not the ones who cause the harassment to happen.

In fact, we've discovered, the biggest role in our relative attractiveness plays in the harassment is to color how the interaction goes. It isn't as common to hear how you are not living up to random dude's standards for fuckability, but it happens. I prefer those, actually, unless it comes along with a threat of violence or sexual violence for not living up to his ideal.

There's also the "helpful" harrasser, who is happy to give us weight loss tips like "You should stop sucking down so many donuts/ice cream/dumplings and come over here and suck my ..." or it's inverse, "You need to build that butt up, girl. I can work it out. Come here." and style tips like "Take off that sweater and let us see your ... "' and "I'll give you some real cardio!" which is often accompanied by gestures or partial disrobing in case we were unable to parse the innuendo.
posted by julen at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


But when it's actually someone you're forced to interact with, even occasionally, that's when I feel most disempowered I think.

In a slightly different vein, forced interaction with harassers is especially a problem for women in service positions, because - except in very rare instances - they are typically not empowered to defend themselves from the harassment. Sometimes they end up dead as a result.

I give "front of house" seminars twice a semester in the Culinary program that my son graduated from, and one full seminar each semester deals with sexual harassment in a restaurant situation and how to handle it. I tell my students that if they are harassed on the job and their supervisor tells them to suck it up and be nice to the customer (common in that biz, anyone can open a diner or ice cream shop, really), they should LEAVE, because their lives are worth more than a harasser's ego. Women in service positions are extraordinarily vulnerable because of the power dynamic between them and their customers - the customer being "always right", of course, and the woman needing to maintain that illusion in order to keep her job.

My college roommate and I worked together as servers in a family restaurant (part of a chain) just a couple blocks from our apartment. Our manager was largely clueless in many respects, but he did allow us to violate the company's policy of wearing name tags with our full names on them. We worked under pseudonyms, a different one each week, because we were often followed home after work. It made it much easier to call the cops when some drunk showed up at our door at 3AM, howling for Spencer or Julie to "come on, baby, you know you wanna bang!" The cops around here do a better job of showing up if the guy hammering on your door at 3AM is screaming someone else's name. If he's screaming yours, you get a lecture about "leading [him] on".
posted by MissySedai at 3:21 PM on August 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think one thing that's easy to dismiss is the weight of the male gaze. Like, I didn't think about it at all until I shaved part of my head.

Suddenly, all those looks that lingered just a bit too long (because they're hetero men, and love the female form, can't help themselves, it's just a look what are you gonna call that harassment?) disappeared. Immediately and suddenly. The only non-slide over looks I've gotten have been from two fairly butch women and that just made it worse because the look wasn't anything like the up and down and linger a bit of men's.

And I hadn't even realised it was happening. Would have said that apart from the losers shouting things I didn't get much attention at all. Except that now I'm not getting the looks it is really obvious how much of a weight it was. Stare out the window lest I catch their eye as they rate my fuckability. Move my bag around to hide myself. Have my daughter in my lap like motherhood is a shield.

Now? I'm the last one to get someone sitting next to me on the bus. Gazes just slide right over, the same way mine do with men. It's fucking glorious. And all because I have a patch of shaved hair about two inches by two inches on the side of my head and live in suburbia, and dress like a mumsy sort of a mum (jeans, shirt, dress sometimes, cardigan, sneakers and boots).

Is that a solution? Fuck no, not in the slightest. But it illustrated really obviously to me just how pervasive the male gaze has been and how lovely it is to not just be invisible, but obviously disconcerting.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:21 PM on August 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


On a positive note, at least a rape prevention poster (from a women's bathroom at a military base) doesn't see fit to include advice on a dress code [story origin].
posted by peacay at 7:42 PM on August 5, 2013


Is it uncouth to ask why you shaved four square inches of your head? 'cause—and I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking this—that seems a dead curious sort of thing to do to one's scalp.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:31 PM on August 5, 2013


"On a positive note, at least a rape prevention poster (from a women's bathroom at a military base) doesn't see fit to include advice on a dress code [story origin]."

Wow, that is such a perfect example of what I wrote about earlier.

Ever since I was involved with rape crisis twenty years ago, I've been privately and publicly harping on this issue. Assault survivors blame themselves and there's no end to the messages they get in our culture — even from friends and family — that are all about how they're in some sense responsible for the assault.

When you deal with actual, individual survivors, this is something that often comes up right away. The survivor will talk about "what ifs" and their guilt and, worse, you will sometimes hear people close to them say such things. The strategy I developed was to confront this head-on, to not sidestep the self-evident truth that some choices and situations are more or less dangerous than others but that, even so, the moral responsibility for the assault is always, always fully the assailant's, not the survivor's and that, ultimately, no one should be expected to live their lives and make choices on the basis of how, when, and where someone might sexually assault them. That women even consider these things as a practical matter is an injustice done to them.

With survivors you can't avoid the issue of personal choices involving personal safety and so I think it's important to acknowledge it, but nevertheless emphasize that it does not and can not in any way reduce or minimize the wrong and the responsibility for that wrong done by the assailant ... and then move past that discussion. You'll probably have to do this more than once, but I think it's possible to at least partly convince someone that, no, it isn't their fault even in the face of having made one choice rather than another.

And with people who are aren't survivors, you'll also have to deal with this because women want to know how they can manage or reduce the risk of sexual assault.

So in both cases you have to somehow tackle the issue of personal choices regarding safety head-on, in a practical and realistic way, while also emphatically countering any messages that anyone is ever, in any way, responsible for an sexual assault or harassment committed against them. It's difficult to do, but I think it can be done.

As an aside, I'll say that partly it's difficult because many people have this intuitive, weird, zero-sum view of moral responsibility where my responsibility to myself for my own safety somehow offsets the moral responsibility of someone who attacks me. I encounter this in all sorts of contexts, not just violence, from discussions of street assaults to home burglary to car theft to computer security. The claim that if you don't protect yourself, if you don't do X thing that is preventative, then you're "asking for it" and responsible for what happens to you is extremely common. I've long puzzled at all the various psychological and cultural factors that play into this — I do think it's especially prevalent in American culture and is related to an individualistic, libertarian view of human interaction.

But, per this discussion, the other reason I've long harped on this is this larger context of thinking about and approaching harassment and sexual violence (within which I include harassment and I won't distinguish the two in the rest of my comment) from this perspective of placing the locus of responsibility on the victim, not the assailant. It's all of a piece — talking about how to respond, talking about self-defence, is exactly the same sort of thing as talking about how to dress and act, of the message that it's all about what women do or don't do, as if the male assailants were inevitable facts of the natural universe.

It's really frustrating because, again, this is something that women want to talk about — of course they want to think about and discover actual, practical things they can do to reduce risk and respond to assailants.

But the problem is that, culturally, this is almost all we ever talk about — it's no coincidence that it's the first thing we talk about and the first thing that men discuss when they "advise" women about this. Notice that if we were in a thread talking about racism, we'd be talking about the culture of racism, about laws and institutions and how our society does and does not tolerate racism, and if we did talk about ways for racial minorities to respond to racism or avoid it or whatever, that would be a side discussion and everyone would be very aware of how perverse and just plain wrong it is to even have to talk about such things. And yet with sexual violence against women, that's the majority of the discussion.

Over and over and over in our culture the message appears that it's women who are responsible for the sexual violence done to them (or for avoiding it).

Here's another analogy: I'm disabled. I encounter hardship and occasional discrimination and hurtful comments. In a thread about living as a disabled person, we naturally would talk about what's it like to deal with this stuff and, yes, we'd talk some about how to respond. But it would always be very clear that disabled people shouldn't have to deal with this stuff, there would be at least as many mentions of ways that we collectively could change the culture, through laws and otherwise, it would probably never occur to someone to implicitly criticize me because I didn't deal with a hurtful person in the "right" way. I wouldn't be expected to dress a certain way, or present myself a certain way, or that I had some implicit responsibility to "be assertive". All discussions about how I could practically deal with being discriminated against in this way would be universally understood to be in the context of the fact that I shouldn't have to deal with this.

For these reasons, I think that discussions of "how to respond" or "how to be safe" are pernicious. I see it as similar to the cultural emphasis on stranger rape, not acquaintance rape, and the very similar cultural emphasis on the sexual assault of children by strangers, not by friends and family. It's not that stranger rape and child abduction don't occur — of course they occur. And the awfulness and incidence of these things shouldn't be minimized. But in both cases, almost the entirety of the public discourse is about these things when, in fact, they each account for only a small portion of their respective categories of sexual assault. We talk about them instead of the more common forms because to recognize the scope of acquaintance rape and incestous assult of children is terrifying in its implications.

I think the impetus in those examples is more just an inevitable fear and not so much itself a manifestation of rape culture. To some degree it is — some people and institutions have a vested interest in the status quo and therefore have motivations to keep attention focused on the extraordinary horrors and not the ordinary horrors.

But I see the impetus to talk about women's choices regarding safety and response in the context of sexual assault to be very much a product of rape culture. We're conditioned to think this way, to think about sexual assault in terms of a feature of the environment that women must learn to navigate through safely. We're taught to not question the existence of the danger, to focus only on how to respond to the danger.

And so while it's obviously true that discussions of how to respond to the danger can be helpful and are natural things to talk about, such discussions are nevertheless pernicious insofar as they are the focus and take attention away from the simple truth that things shouldn't be this way, they don't have to be this way, and the real responsibility always, always, always lies with the assailant, not the victim.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:23 PM on August 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: "Ever since I was involved with rape crisis twenty years ago, I've been privately and publicly harping on this issue. Assault survivors blame themselves and there's no end to the messages they get in our culture — even from friends and family — that are all about how they're in some sense responsible for the assault."

Ten years afterwards I finally worked out that I was still blaming myself and it was affecting my behaviour. I stopped talking about sex because I thought, back there deep in my lizard brain, that it was my fault. And yeah, some of the stuff he did to me was based in things I'd told him, that he knew, but it doesn't make it my fault.

I still didn't talk about sex for ten years, still had this white hot rage and shame any time that I got drunk enough to talk about it anyway.

TEN FUCKING YEARS. Therapy, feminist theory, all that shit, and I still spent 10 years leaving the room if someone talked about sex, or hating myself if I got drunk and giggled with a friend about wangs.

five fresh fish: "Is it uncouth to ask why you shaved four square inches of your head? 'cause—and I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking this—that seems a dead curious sort of thing to do to one's scalp."

I shaved a chunk of my hair because I thought it looked cool - my sister did it, and so did my kid, so I went along for the ride. I was also getting a bit precious about my hair, so it seemed like a nice change that wasn't a fringe, since I can't dye it cool colours either. And, to be honest, I was a little tired of the pretty comments.

posted by geek anachronism at 12:30 AM on August 6, 2013 [6 favorites]



I shaved a chunk of my hair because I thought it looked cool - my sister did it, and so did my kid, so I went along for the ride


That is super cool.
posted by sweetkid at 7:48 AM on August 6, 2013


If you don't do this sort of stuff, you're not the one being criticized. No need to run in and say "But I don't do that therefore this offends me!" That offense might better be spent being offended that others do engage in relentlessly harassing behavior.

i'd buy that only if you didn't make such unqualified statements like

Men are primarily responsible for street harassment

All men benefit from street harassment.

they are continuously seen as an object of pleasure for men

It's an example of men, explicitly, expressing power over women


basically, two wrongs don't make a right.
posted by cupcake1337 at 11:56 PM on August 8, 2013


What are you on about?

Men are primarily responsible for street harassment

"Men commit most stalking. Four out of every five stalking victims are women "

All men benefit from street harassment.

You left out the next sentence: "It empowers men over women by creating an environment in which women are constantly reminded that they are continuously seen as an object of pleasure for men, while men don't have to experience that"." That is, by definition, a qualified statement.

they are continuously seen as an object of pleasure for men

Check out the Schrodinger's rapist thread for further discussion of the message that street harassment sends.

It's an example of men, explicitly, expressing power over women

Do you disagree with this statement? Or is the issue that you are putting the word "all" in front of my usage of the word "men." If the latter is the case, let me ask you to stop doing that, because its putting words in my mouth.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:33 AM on August 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


Ten years afterwards I finally worked out that I was still blaming myself and it was affecting my behaviour.

It's been about seven years since I was in an emotionally abusive and sexually coercive relationship and I honestly still have a hard time labeling it as such. I seriously googled the criteria for "emotional abuse" before posting this because I'm not 100% sure it fits and it feels like I'm claiming something I don't have a right to by putting it in that category. I still don't feel comfortable claiming his treatment of me as rape even though he was pushing me into sex when I wasn't interested until I broke down and let him and doing that in conjunction with generally treating me badly. That was in HS and I took a shitload of Women Studies courses and read feminist theory out the wazoo and yelled at people about consent on the internet and I still spent years with issues with sex as a result-- not the same kind you had, but still, issues. Sometimes this shit takes a long time to get past, no matter what theoretical grounding you have in not letting it affect you in the way that society dictates. I'm still figuring it out.

Also, your hair looks great.
posted by NoraReed at 1:27 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


INT., 27TH PRECINCT OFFICES
BRISCOE: Could just be a simple case of jealousy. Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy meets mistress, girl finds out, girl kills boy.
GREEN: Except that our newly widowed Mrs. Parker was also straying from the marriage...and doing it in a very crowded place at the time that the murder happens.
BRISCOE: Jealous mistress, maybe. Wouldn't be the first time.
As BRISCOE, GREEN and VAN BUREN walk through the reception area, a FURIOUS MAN bursts in
FURIOUS MAN: I DIDN'T DO IT! I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU'RE BOTHERING TO INVESTIGATE! STOP!
MAN exits precinct office. GREEN starts to pursue him, but VAN BUREN stops him with a hand on his shoulder
GREEN: Shouldn't we question him? That's an awfully specific denial.
VAN BUREN: That's the third time this month that guy's been in. If we get cause to believe he's involved, he'll be back.
BRISCOE: Disgruntled taxpayer, huh?
Dun-DUN!
posted by kagredon at 4:09 PM on August 9, 2013


I've been thinking about this post for several days, and working on formulating this comment for about as long.

I get a comment like this once or twice a day. It happens while I'm waiting for public transit, it happens in the grocery store, in coffee shops, in crosswalks. It happens at 8 in the morning, it happens after dark, it happens no matter what I'm wearing. The men who engage in this behavior are sometimes near the courthouse and wearing suits, sometimes they are visibly homeless. Sometimes they are sober, sometimes they are intoxicated. Sometimes they try to touch me. Sometimes they are in cars and sometimes they are on bicycles. Sometimes they are cheerful about it and sometimes they are leering and start off angry. Sometimes they repeat or rephrase their request or statement. Sometimes they just keep walking, or driving, or smoking a cigarette as though nothing happened. Sometimes they invade my space and sometimes they shout from a block away. Sometimes I respond and sometimes I do not.

Sometimes they do this to me when I am clearly alone. Sometimes when I'm in groups of women it's directed to us as a group. On the rare occasion I'm next to or near a man when this happens, I might ask the witness what he thinks of what happened. I can only think of one time in the last year that man has been visible within 100 feet of me when another man has yelled at me. This behavior is invisible to men.

Through the course of a day, I pass or meet hundreds of other humans. While it's true that maybe some of those guys have already cat called another woman, or will choose a different target, and it's probably true that someone who harasses me might also go on to harass someone else...the vast majority of guys don't do this every day. A non-zero number report that they do not do this, or have not done it since they were in their early teens, or some other age.

From anecdotal experience of giving talks to college freshmen, I'll ask the men in the room how many of them have done this behavior (neutrally described as "telling a woman you do not know that you find her attractive or unattractive, want to do something sexual to or with her, asking for her number even though you haven't had a conversation") ever, this year, this month, this week, today. Of course, by the time we get to today, the number of men who self report doing this is much much lower. I ask the men to talk about what they are trying to communicate, and how they think it makes the women feel. Common responses include "flattered," "proud," "aroused," "they don't notice or care." Occasionally a man will say that he thinks "some women may not like it," sometimes adding some variation on "because they're prudes."

I ask the men how often they have seen other men do this. They are nearly unanimous that it happens sometimes in cars or large groups of men. Usually there has been drinking. But in pairs, generally no. Also, they almost all report never seeing/hearing men they do not know directing this type of speech to women. It bears repeating: This behavior is invisible to men.

For the women, the number drops a lot, but not in a way that matches closely with the drop in male behavior. A few men seem to be accounting for a large proportion of harassment. But like a good statistics problem, getting cat called at 7am does not protect you from it happening at lunch or in the park. It's a Shroedinger's Cat Caller problem, you don't know a guy won't do it until he's gone. After we talk about the frequency for women, we talk about how women actually feel when they hear these comments. Common descriptions include "afraid," "embarassed," "ashamed," "nervous," "waiting for him to come back/do something else" and "I wonder what he wants." Sometimes one or two women in a group will say they don't feel threatened, or that they like the attention. One or two out of 25 to 50 women.

The men are almost all surprised when they learn that this is not flattering, and that it is in fact scary or insulting. These men have never considered the implication of telling a woman "you should smile more, you're prettier when you do." (for hints, it's that women exist to be visually appealing to others, especially men. And that women should express positive affect whether that matches their internal state, so that men can have something nice to look at, or not have to think about what might be making another person stressed or tired or whatever) When men realize that they are probably not the first person to tell a particular woman that she has great tits, would probably be a great lay, or even just "should smile more," AND that this attention is generally unwelcome....the men self report wanting to change their own behavior, and also report being willing to advocate that their friends and acquaintances be more considerate in the future.

That feels like a win for me.

I don't know what kind of game online can achieve that. But I suspect it's not this game, because this game (while I appreciated it on a lot of levels) does some problematic things with the reactions of women, and the tacit expectation that we be thinking about what others might say to us when we put our clothes on (try again).

The game feels like it was designed by men to "solve" a problem they don't experience.

Don't get me started about the expectation that women express gratitude for or otherwise repay any "positive" attention men throw our way. (that we are hot, or "could be" prettier, or whatever.)

For a tip on a thing I am pretty sure will not work: asking men "how would you feel if a woman did this to you?" because women are generally smaller, less advantaged in many domains, and effective training that we must NOT to behave this way makes many of the above scenarios nearly unimaginable. The most viable alternative carries glaring homophobia, "How would you feel if the new 250 pound doorman of your building, who you don't know, did this to you?" I have asked that, and the response is usually a frozen type of fear. A realization that such a confrontation would be potentially dangerous, and usually not welcome even if the man I'm talking to is trained in martial arts. But like I said, the problem is homophobia, which I don't usually have the energy to also address.
posted by bilabial at 4:29 PM on August 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


I got three "god bless you, baby" comments on my 2 minute walk from yoga. It's dark and rainy, yoga studio was hot, and I just wanted to be home. It's frightening, strangers lunging at you in the night, grinning, leering, while you're carrying an umbrella and some shopping. I didn't feel cheered that these men want god to bless me in my travels here on earth and beyond just because they like my rack.
posted by sweetkid at 5:56 PM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am male. It's a long story, but for about 20 years I have worn my hear long. (Programmers wear long hair. Pest exterminators don't, or at least didn't back then.) Also I wear some jewelry. No earrings, but I wear a very recognizable pendant. Before it got pickpocketed in England I had a very nice heavy gold bracelet.

And since I'm a little overweight and an old male face isn't that different from an old female face in marginal light, I've been catcalled. Not nicely, since the female me is an old bag. This has happened in some unbelievably inappropriate situations.

The weird thing is, the few times I've made my actual gender plain in response it didn't change anything. Sex may be a trigger but once the behavior is initiated it seems to follow its own mad and inalterable logic. It's about dominance and submission in ways that responsible BDSM people don't ever behave, because it isn't conscious. I think it is a deeply instinctive impulse that is very hard to stop once triggered, and pretty hard to stop from being triggered if you don't have a good motivation for recognizing what's happening to you.

In most cases it's just a little burst of assertion, like the human version of a bird territory announcement tweet. But if you challenge it, it doesn't matter that your challenge is rationally justified. The result is the equivalent of a bird songfight, only we do it with shouting and jeers. And as with the birds, moral rightness is not a big factor in who wins.
posted by localroger at 7:12 PM on August 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod brought up some points.

Or is the issue that you are putting the word "all" in front of my usage of the word "men." If the latter is the case, let me ask you to stop doing that, because its putting words in my mouth.

sometimes, when people talk about groups they don't qualify the group with the word "some" usually they imply some homogeneity within the group. when they make superlative statements often they mean something like "on average."

if someone says "black people do X" or "women are such Y" most people would reasonably thing they were talking about all/on average black people or women, and they could probably (rightly) be called out as prejudiced.

so, when someone says "group X is primarily responsible for action Y" it's reasonable to assume the statement is saying all members of group X are equally responsible. if you're only talking about two groups (or all other groups are so small to be immaterial) it's a statement that can sound damning, but can technically be true as long as group X on average does slightly more of the behavior than all other groups combined.

Men commit most stalking

this is kind of like saying "most heroin users started with marijuana" in that while it may be factually true, that alone doesn't imply that the condition is useful in predicting the thing you're concerned about. all alcoholics started with milk. i'll agree that it's technically true, but my problem is with how exactly that supports your point.

You left out the next sentence: "It empowers men over women by creating an environment in which women are constantly reminded that they are continuously seen as an object of pleasure for men, while men don't have to experience that"." That is, by definition, a qualified statement.

i'd say that's not so much qualifying the statement as providing a second statement to support the first that is impossible to prove or disprove.

Check out the Schrodinger's rapist thread for further discussion of the message that street harassment sends.

i've read that thread, believe me. but going back to the first point, your use of the passive voice

they are continuously seen as an object of pleasure for men

seems to imply that all men are seeing women ("they") this way. or are we suppose to think women think this way about women? or everyone thinks this way about women? technically, the statement is very weak: yes, there are enough people in the world such that there is an um-broken chain of people who think that; but the statement is meant to make it sound pervasive. this is, again, something that is nearly impossible to prove or disprove.

the bottom line is: if someone were to say "women are bitches" they'd be called out as prejudiced. if that person replied "of course i'm only talking about some women, and on average it's true. and, don't put words in my mouth" you probably wouldn't consider them disingenuous.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:05 PM on August 12, 2013


cupcake1337: "the bottom line is: if someone were to say "women are bitches" they'd be called out as prejudiced. if that person replied "of course i'm only talking about some women, and on average it's true. and, don't put words in my mouth" you probably wouldn't consider them disingenuous."

I, personally, would think they were being incredibly misogynistic and I'd like to see their cite for 'on average most women are bitches' - because unlike that statement, the statistics around stalking. DV and non-DV violence and rape are pretty comprehensive in showing that the perpetrators are primarily men. Not that most men are rapist stalking abusers, but that most rapist stalking abusers are men.

And men as a class is different to men as people. Men as a class benefit from sexism which does not translate to each man getting those benefits with a nice little card detailing how many women were mistreated to give them to him. Because the benefit is often unseen - it's NOT being treated certain ways, NOT having to engage in certain actions, NOT having to worry about certain things. It doesn't sound like much of a benefit, but it's a straws and camel situation.

On another note I had a particularly lolcry moment at the bus-stop on Monday. I had my hair back, one of my dresses on and a dude was pulling up at the lights staring at me (I've got big boobs and was wearing a dress in public, what else should I expect) but the moment I turned my head to reveal the shaved bit he suddenly found the roof of his car SO much more interesting. The speed at which he averted his gaze was hilarious. As was the fact he still wasn't watching the fucking road.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:55 AM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


when someone says "group X is primarily responsible for action Y" it's reasonable to assume the statement is saying all members of group X are equally responsible.

No, it's completely unreasonable to ignore the (factually correct) "primarily" in that sentence, with reference to men and harassment, in order to be wilfully offended by the assumption of "all".
posted by billiebee at 4:10 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's a statement that can sound damning, but can technically be true as long as group X on average does slightly more of the behavior than all other groups combined.

"Slightly more" to the tune of a ninety-nine-to-one ratio?

Most rape and sexual violence is committed by men; most stalking is committed by men. Is it really unreasonable to conclude that most sexual harassment is committed by men? Is there any reason to believe that about as many women as men do this?

i've read that thread, believe me.

I don't.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:29 AM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


so, when someone says "group X is primarily responsible for action Y" it's reasonable to assume the statement is saying all members of group X are equally responsible.

You know, it's absolutely not reasonable - not by the rules of logic, and not by the rules of common conversation. No matter how many times you assert that this is the inevitable conclusion, your assertion doesn't make it true. You're the one doing the assuming and amplifying here, so that you can find a way to take umbrage. I suggest you stop it. Nothing about the way this language is being presented implies a belief that all men harass women - quite the opposite, in fact, as many here take care to note how hard they work to avoid it - and everyone here seems to understand that clearly. Except for you.
posted by Miko at 5:57 AM on August 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also, and there is no polite way to put this, it's just bad form to extend the life of a thread about the relentless public harassment of women in order to make an unsupportable case that it's terrifically important that you personally are offended because if we don't do a careful reading of language it can be incorrectly intuited that some men are being unfairly lumped in with the men who do the bad stuff.

That's just a shitty thing to do in a thread about a woman's issue.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:55 AM on August 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


Most rape and sexual violence is committed by men

ok, but that does not imply that most men commit sexual violence and rape, so directing your anger at "men" can be misguided at best. it's similar how anger over terrorism has been directed at Muslims in an unhelpful way.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:50 AM on August 14, 2013


it's similar how anger over terrorism has been directed at Muslims in an unhelpful way.

No, it's not, because only about 3000 people were killed by one terrorist attack in the United States, compared to about that number of women every year by gendered violence in the United States.

Also, slimy politicians trying to get ahead in their own careers by exploiting people's fear aren't behind sexual violence.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:55 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


ok, but that does not imply that most men commit sexual violence and rape, so directing your anger at "men" can be misguided at best.

No, it does not imply that, my point exactly; that's why nobody did that. You are imagining that.

Why do you want that to be true so badly?
posted by Miko at 6:14 AM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Most rape and sexual violence is committed by men

so directing your anger at "men" can be misguided at best.

Who then, exactly, should we be angry at? No one said it's ALL THE MEN, which has been pointed out over and over again, and you're refusing to hear it. But, dammit, I'm kind of sick of qualifying who I'm allowed to be angry at. And much as I love all the great men in my life, and all the men who don't do this stuff, there are times when, yes actually, I'm angry at men in general. Because if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem. And complaining about the poor misunderstood menz is definitely not part of the solution.
posted by billiebee at 6:40 AM on August 14, 2013 [8 favorites]




Most rape and sexual violence is committed by men

ok, but that does not imply that most men commit sexual violence and rape


No one has said that. At all.

And I also don't believe you read the Schroedinger's Rapist thread.
posted by sweetkid at 7:14 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's a good question, cupcake - if you're mad about this perception you have that "women think all men are rapists", then why not take it up with the men who ARE rapists, and get them to stop damaging your reputation?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:15 AM on August 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also it is so blisteringly wrong to AGAIN be bringing up "what if we were talking about black people," cupcake. Here's what Bunny had to say about that before:

"Men are primarily responsible for street harassment" is not like "black people are primarily responsible for crime" because:

-- Men are not a historically oppressed minority
-- Men are primarily responsible for street harassment, while black people are not primarily responsible for crime
-- All men benefit from street harassment. It empowers men over women by creating an environment in which women are constantly reminded that they are continuously seen as an object of pleasure for men, while men don't have to experience that
-- Street harassment is a strong-armed bully of patriarchy. It's not just something some men do and it's coincidental that they are men. It's an example of men, explicitly, expressing power over women
-- Not all men do this. But all men benefit from the privilege of being male; not having to deal with street harassment is part of that privilege. And "not having to deal with it" means "not addressing it when it happens." It also means "rejecting that it is something men are responsible for" and "making threads about the subject into threads about how they are not personally at fault"

It's a men's issue. And if you can't address it as such, but instead hide behind false equivalences where addressing it in this way is very much like oppressing black people, you're part of the problem, because you're helping the problem to continue, and, whether you realize it or not, you're benefiting from the problem.



Like...if you have read all those words, and still think saying men do most harassing is like saying all men harass, or that bringing up this topic at all is just like saying bad things about black people and oh no one would do that (Actually, they do - recent stuff I've seen about Stop and Frisk on Facebook had plenty of that), then...I don't know. You have a reading issue or something or are reading AlternaMetaFilter.
posted by sweetkid at 7:22 AM on August 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


[Comments removed. Folks... difficult topic necessitates a bit more obvious "I am not trolling" approach with comments designed to engage with this community on this topic. Also, we do not call people trolls here. Use the contact form or go to MeTa if any of this is unclear.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:04 PM on August 14, 2013


it's similar how anger over terrorism has been directed at Muslims in an unhelpful way.

No, it's not, because only about 3000 people were killed by one terrorist attack in the United States, compared to about that number of women every year by gendered violence in the United States.


the thing is, that fact is irrelevant to the important part of the analogy: P(A | B) doesn't tell you anything about P(B | A). in other word, given you know that someone does B behavior they are highly likely to be part of group A doesn't tell you anything about how likely someone in group A is to do behavior B.

a common idea in these threads is that only men do sexual assaults --> efforts to reduce sexual assaults should be focused on men. underlying that is the assumption that someone being a man is a useful predictor of how likely it is they will commit a sexual assault. but as we see in the previous paragraph, that is not a conclusion we can really draw from the evidence.

but it's about the "culture", the "atmosphere" the "context" and that's why efforts stop no shorter than all men. ok, show evidence that that's how it works. the fact is, no one really knows.
usually, people just assume whatever fits with their ideology.

bringing it back around, the salient part of the analogy is the basic mathematical concept that is accepted in one context when the affiliated political parties are well aligned, but then rejected when they are not. i use the analogy to try to illustrate that point. i suppose if a person is unwilling to release their moral relativism this would not be a persuasive argument.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:41 PM on August 15, 2013


a common idea in these threads is that only men do sexual assaults --> efforts to reduce sexual assaults should be focused on men.

That literally did not appear in this thread nor in any other thread on sexual harassment I have read. You are persisting in having an argument with a phantom.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:02 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Perhaps I'm having a slow-brained day, but I'm finding you a bit incoherent because I think you're trying to blind us with logic somehow.

I think what you're saying is: it is unfair that efforts to reduce sexual assaults should be focused on men. Because all men don't do this stuff, so in targeting efforts at ALL men you're going to inadvertently "catch" men who don't need it. Why should "innocent" men, through no fault of their own, be the focus of the efforts to stop the minority of them who are offenders? Is that it?

Because before you get too worked up about the injustice of that, let me just point out that there ARE no efforts out there. No one, harasser or non-harasser, is the focus of any campaign. That's kind of the problem. I mean, if you're one of the Good Guys and there was some kind of campaign and you found yourself being told not to do stuff you'd never do anyway, I'd still like to think you'd accept it as the price of balancing out a greater evil, and you'd be an asshole to complain about it, all things considered in the context of what women suffer, worldwide, everyday (because sexual harassment is on the same continuum with rape as a tool of war and that's being perpetrated right now in conflicts across the globe. Perpetrated by SOME men, of course.) So a little misdirected preaching or whatever is no big thing to bear if it manages to stop the people who DO do this stuff.

The only advice out there is directed at women - dont wear this, don't go there, don't leave your drink, don't go down the dark alley, don't go asking for it, don't invite him home, don't walk down the street, don't walk to work, don't trust strange men...but don't you go being all man-hatin', ya hear?

This post was about a game that highlighted how it doesn't matter what women do, the threat is there. So next step, what can we do to stop it from the other side. Thoughtful, creative ideas would be helpful. You got any?
posted by billiebee at 7:26 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


given you know that someone does B behavior they are highly likely to be part of group A doesn't tell you anything about how likely someone in group A is to do behavior B.

You've shifted the goalpoasts a little, but it doesn't really help your cause. We don't need to use any logical inference on this question, because we have a number of statistics on how likely it is for a member of Group A (here, men, surveyed in various demographic swaths) to do behavior B (here, sexual assault):

  • In a large study of college men, 8.8% admitted rape or attempted rape (Ouimette & Riggs, 1998).
  • Malamuth (1981)...found an average of 21-35% of males indicated some likelihood of raping if they could be assured of not being caught.
  • More than one in five men report "becoming so sexually aroused that they could not stop themselves from having sex, even though the woman did not consent."
  • Percentages of men who acknowledge committing a sexual offense range between 4.8% and 12% of the broader population, depending on nature of offense

    Depending on which behavior you're studying for, then, it appears that illegal sexual offenses are committed by between 4% and 20% of all men, and that perhaps up to 35% of men would be inclined to try it under the right circumstances.

    You're the one who tried to claim that people are conflating "sexual offenders" with "all men," so you can do high school logic problems until you're blue in the face, and that still doesn't mean anyone asserted that. No one else was doing that.

    At the same time, what people were saying - that men as offenders vastly outnumber women as offenders, and that the culture works to shield offending men from accountability by enlisting even those men who do not themselves commit assault by encouraging them to minimize, dismiss and discount those assaults - is borne out by evidence, and remains true.

  • underlying that is the assumption that someone being a man is a useful predictor of how likely it is they will commit a sexual assault

    That assumption exists; and yes, it is a predictor.

    but as we see in the previous paragraph, that is not a conclusion we can really draw from the evidence.

    As we can see from the evidence, yes, it is.

    Does it mean that all men will commit assault? Obviously not. Does it mean that being male is a risk factor for committing assault, or a predictor of an increased likelihood of assault? Yes, it means that. All true even though statistics indicate that the majority of men will never commit an assault.
    posted by Miko at 7:34 AM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


    Because before you get too worked up about the injustice of that, let me just point out that there ARE no efforts out there. No one, harasser or non-harasser, is the focus of any campaign. That's kind of the problem. I mean, if you're one of the Good Guys and there was some kind of campaign and you found yourself being told not to do stuff you'd never do anyway, I'd still like to think you'd accept it as the price of balancing out a greater evil, and you'd be an asshole to complain about it, all things considered in the context of what women suffer, worldwide, everyday (because sexual harassment is on the same continuum with rape as a tool of war and that's being perpetrated right now in conflicts across the globe. Perpetrated by SOME men, of course.) So a little misdirected preaching or whatever is no big thing to bear if it manages to stop the people who DO do this stuff.

    Agreed. Obviously, the vast majority of drivers do not drive while dangerously inebriated, yet I have never heard a driver complain that "don't drive drunk" campaigns are targeted indiscriminately toward all drivers. In that case, it seems everyone who is a responsible driver quickly parses out the message and a) realizes it doesn't really apply to them and b) maybe feels a slight sense of reinforcement of societal expectations. Why is this so much different?
    posted by GenjiandProust at 7:39 AM on August 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


    we have a number of statistics on how likely it is for a member of Group A (here, men, surveyed in various demographic swaths) to do behavior B (here, sexual assault)

    If the crime stats were about, say, gun crime, and broken down by race instead of sex would your argument change?
    posted by unSane at 7:48 AM on August 16, 2013


    Sure the argument would change because it's comparing two completely different things that have completely different societal contexts and stats histories associated with them, though if that's a topic you are interested in you might enjoy the "There is no black on black" violence thread for more discussion on that topic. This thread is not that thread.
    posted by jessamyn at 7:55 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


    The post puts it in a general manner - members of Group A do behaviour B - and uses that as an argument. But it turns out it's highly specific, no?
    posted by unSane at 8:00 AM on August 16, 2013


    I agree that one kind of crime is not particularly germane to another and won't argue from analogies to other crimes. These are the available statistics for this particular kind of crime.

    it turns out it's highly specific, no?

    Each type of crime has its own specific contexts and incidence rates? Sure, yes.
    posted by Miko at 8:03 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


    The post puts it in a general manner - members of Group A do behaviour B - and uses that as an argument. But it turns out it's highly specific, no?

    Of course it's highly specific. Which is why the post doesn't actually put it in a general manner. Only you are doing that, which is all the baffling to me since you already understand that it is highly specific.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:11 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


    to the extent that P(A|B) tells you nothing about P(B|A), no, i disagree, the type of crime does not matter and is not "highly specific."

    also, there are many problems with self reporting surveys about sensitive topics like these. i think miko's interpretation in her/his comment has charged language that does not elucidate the findings of the actual surveys, assuming the results are believable.

    1 in 20 or 1 in 10 is simply, to me, not high enough to justify panting all men with such a broad stroke. i think that the statistic of 21-35% of those who say they would be inclined to rape if they could get away with it is more indicative of the prevalence of that fetish than actual propensity to rape.

    you say 100% of rapes are committed by men? ok. but only 12% of men commit rapes. that someone is a man does not tell you much about that person's probability of raping someone else. so, saying things with an underlying meaning of "tisk, tisk men, learn to not rape why don'tcha?" are, at best, misguided.
    posted by cupcake1337 at 10:49 PM on August 24, 2013


    Well, perhaps you should share your email, so when women are looking for a word to describe their experiences, they can pass it by you for your approval first.
    posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:52 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


    saying things with an underlying meaning of "tisk, tisk men, learn to not rape why don'tcha?" are, at best, misguided.

    You realise you're being incredibly offensive, right? I'm unclear whether it's through spite or ignorance. No one in this thread is saying "tisk tisk" about rape or sexual harassment or any of the threatening or frightening behaviour women have to contend with. The fact that you highlighted "all men", when you are well aware that no one in this entire thread but you has said anything but the opposite, can only point to you being deliberately provocative. If you aren't interested in a good faith discussion why are you wasting your time in this thread?
    posted by billiebee at 4:29 AM on August 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


    you say 100% of rapes are committed by men? ok. but only 12% of men commit rapes. that someone is a man does not tell you much about that person's probability of raping someone else.

    If I'm standing alone in a room with a man and a woman, both of whom are unknown to me, that statistic tells me a hell of a lot about which one of those two strangers is more likely to rape me. Getting to know them over time will of course replace that statistic with actual experience, but in the moment in time in which people are unknown commodities to me, statistics become incredibly useful tools.

    And incidentally, you do realize that arguing as you do means that you are personally okay with the fact that one in ten of your male acquaintances is likely to be a rapist, right? Is that something you're okay with?
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:14 AM on August 25, 2013


    I have been mostly staying out of this, but really, EC, I can't believe you can't see how much what you just wrote reads like this:
    If I'm standing alone in a room with a black and a white teenage boy, both of whom are unknown to me, that statistic tells me a hell of a lot about which one of those two strangers is more likely to mug me. Getting to know them over time will of course replace that statistic with actual experience, but in the moment in time in which people are unknown commodities to me, statistics become incredibly useful tools.

    And incidentally, you do realize that arguing as you do means that you are personally okay with the fact that black teens who comprise 16% of the youth population account for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, right? Is that something you're okay with?
    It is, of course, quite possible to bristle at the idea of being profiled because of the way you look and to be very uncool with the fact that people who look like you are acting badly and provoking this reaction.

    If you want Cupcake and people who think like him to acknowledge that you have reasons for feeling the way you do, you should also acknowledge that he also has cause to feel slighted when the default reaction to his presence is "potential criminal." Your last post and my blockquote are functionally equivalent; if one doesn't bother you then neither should the other, and if one does then the other should too.
    posted by localroger at 7:33 AM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


    As a man, I'd like to state that I think cupcakeleet's argument is unwarranted and embarrassing to men. It's about as rational as getting worked-up about drink-driving commercials, workplace safety promotions, or buckle-up campaigns.

    And besides which, Men's Rights activism has sweet-fuck-all to do with the OP link. This typical MRA threadjacking is wrong-headed and should have been stopped by mods ages ago.

    Cupcake, as a man I'm telling you you're doing us harm. If this MRA bullshit is what you want to argue, you need to make your own front page post for the subject. Do not hijack threads like this.
    posted by five fresh fish at 7:35 AM on August 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


    We've discussed many times how replacing "men" with "black" people is an incorrect and offensive substitution in these conversations and it would be great if people could just cut it the heck out or at least stop thinking they're making some novel argument or "gotcha" when using the comparison.
    posted by sweetkid at 7:40 AM on August 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


    is more indicative of the prevalence of that fetish than actual propensity to rape.

    If your fetish is non-consensual sex with someone, that's still a troubling data point regardless of how you interpret the study that Miko cited. This is not actually a thread about anything remotely like that, however, so I'll save that barrage of citations for a discussion where it's appropriate and on-topic.
    posted by jessamyn at 7:42 AM on August 25, 2013


    sweetkid, I did not intend that as a "gotcha." Cupcake has certainly pushed his argument too far but when you start saying things like statistics are incredibly useful things to justify treating random people badly you are over a line. If you want people like Cupcake to learn nuance you need to display some yourself. It is possible to express EC's point in a way that wouldn't make that substitution so obvious and, while offensive, precise.
    posted by localroger at 7:46 AM on August 25, 2013


    when you start saying things like statistics are incredibly useful things to justify treating random people badly you are over a line

    I'm not sure how "being cautious" equates with "treating people badly."

    I'm comfortable with talking about aggregated risk factors and predictors while still understanding that the behavior of any one individual is not perfectly predictable. Why is that so difficult a concept to accept?

    However, in this discussion, there's no place for bringing in an analogy to an entirely different crime set with an entirely different set of motivations and an entirely different set of class (in the broad sense, racial/gender/economic/age) politics at play. It is just a non-starter to try that.

    It is an unpleasant reality that women need to consider maleness, very broadly writ, as a bigger risk factor for sexual assault than femaleness in most scenarios. I'm sorry, but you or I alone can't change that fact no matter how many analogies we draw. We don't have any statistics to look at that support the assertion of the opposite, or even of equivalence.
    posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on August 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


    Thanks miko that is a much better way to put it.
    posted by localroger at 9:28 AM on August 25, 2013


    Localroger, firstly miko put what I was saying much better. And I believe you'll not that I did not advocate for treating people badly based on statistics, and I'm frankly at a loss as to how you thought I was advocating that.

    But I agree with you that statistics are not always reliable - which then begs the question of cupcake as to why he is relying on one particular statistic so much.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on August 25, 2013


    Yes EC I made the first comment mainly because you walked right into what Cupcake wanted; the way you said it made the substitution so obvious it was like a flaming head on a pike, especially after the protracted Zimmerman thing. But there are differences, both in the reasons for the profiling and the reasons one might advise not being offended by the profiling.

    In a similar vein, the assertion "all men are potential rapists" is unuseful, insulting, and amounts to little more than trolling. The more accurate statement "because of history, it's good strategy for a woman to assume all men might be potential rapists until there is evidence otherwise" is both truer and much less inflammatory. When you bring the nuance into it, it becomes much harder to make a blanket substitution where the nuance is so much different.

    The fact that 10% of my fellow penis owners think sticking said penis into a person who doesn't want it in them might be acceptable recreation is appalling. But a much larger percentage of penis owners find it appalling too. They might be useful allies if you don't start the conversation by pissing them off.
    posted by localroger at 11:35 AM on August 25, 2013


    They might be useful allies if you don't start the conversation by pissing them off.

    I think it's their moral imperative to be allies on this issue, no matter who isn't nice to them. Standing up against sexual violence isn't a courtesy that should be given only to those who behave the way one wishes.

    This whole idea "I would be on your side if you weren't so mean to me" is specious. Oppose sexual violence on the principle that sexual violence is the wrong thing to do - not because people who also oppose it are pleasant to you and act like your friends.
    posted by Miko at 11:51 AM on August 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


    In a similar vein, the assertion "all men are potential rapists" is unuseful, insulting, and amounts to little more than trolling.

    That's probably why no one at all made it.
    posted by billiebee at 12:14 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


    no one at all made it.

    No one had a protracted argument about how X it is to replace "male" with "black" either, but it got mentioned.
    posted by localroger at 12:15 PM on August 25, 2013


    I think it's their moral imperative to be allies on this issue, no matter who isn't nice to them.

    I agree, but I also live in the real world where the perfect really is often the enemy of the good.
    posted by localroger at 12:16 PM on August 25, 2013


    If we're going to have a just society, then it's obvious that the place to begin is to ensure that no members of the class which has the most stuff, is treated the best, and is known to treat others badly is ever themselves treated unjustly. Where else would we start? What could possibly be more important? C'mon, folks, get your priorities straight.
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


    No one had a protracted argument about how X it is to replace "male" with "black" either, but it got mentioned.

    Did "all men are potential rapists" get mentioned? I don't see it, whereas I see multiple examples of "this is like saying all black people are" such and such.

    I agree, but I also live in the real world where the perfect really is often the enemy of the good.

    I don't think that's a fair statement. I, and many other men in this thread, also live in the real world, and have no problem with phrases like "mansplaining" and understanding that Schrodinger's rapist is a mechanism women use to address the real possibility of sexual violence in their life, not as a mechanism for insulting men. That's also the real world; the trouble is, there are a lot of men who refuse to be good allies to women in addressing sexual violence, and instead, as this thread has demonstrated, want to make any subject that affects women into a subject of how men feel about the subject, how addressing it is somehow unfair to men, etc.

    Yes, that is the real world. It's the real world because there is a lot of sexism in the real world -- and make no mistake, hijacking and derailing threads about women's issues in order to make it about men is sexist behavior. But I think it is a crappy world, and I think it is even crappier to expect women to say things exactly right, do things exactly right, and constantly think about the way sexist men feel about things, because otherwise, in punishment, they will continue to be sexist.

    I mean, I can't imagine anything shittier than that, and fictionally saying "well, that's just how things are, and I know this because, unlike you, I live in the real world" is even shittier.
    posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:03 PM on August 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


    Ivan, that's just stupid. Really. You should be embarrassed.

    The basic problem is the conflation of groups and individuals. Men, as a group, represent a statistical problem, but most men, as individuals, do not deserve to be treated like potential criminals any more than black people, as individuals, do, and that comparison is exact whether you like it or not. It does not matter why you were profiled or whether the profiling can be justified by a statistical model if you're the individual being treated with extra suspicion and rudeness because of something you cannot control.

    That being said, men as a group are a big enough problem that we do need to acknowledge that there are situations where we have to suck it up and let trust be earned. What is lacking on both ends of the debate is a sense of proportionality and a respect for the other side's valid concerns.

    I spoke up because I think EmpressC's original statement to which I replied was over a rudeness line. It may not have warranted the male-as-black substitution but it practically begged for it by the way it was phrased, and EC has admitted that and I have accepted that her better phrased meaning is valid. So why are we still arguing about this?

    This is how some of these arguements always end up going, with each side backed up against a wall going "well YOUR concerns are meaningless because MY concerns are more important." It's tiresome and hey I think the rock saw needs to be reset.
    posted by localroger at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2013


    Huh. I guess it is possible to mansplain to men.
    posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:15 PM on August 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


    most men, as individuals, do not deserve to be treated like potential criminals any more than black people, as individuals, do

    Declining to accept a drink from a man, or engage him in conversation, or smile when he demands it is not treating him as a criminal.
    posted by KathrynT at 1:25 PM on August 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


    Bunny: "Mansplain" is right up there with "all men are potential rapists" for just plain killing the discourse. It's not womansplaining to write a diatribe about how all men have to be treated with suspicion but it's mansplaining to say that that's insulting and objectifying?

    KathrynT: I have no problems with any of the precautions like not accepting drinks and sensible responses to boorish behavior which women adopt, since I never do those things. This being the point. I am mainly offended by the suggestion in theoretical discussions like this one that it is OK and not somehow reductive and objectifying, however necessary it might be, to behave as if all men are wild beasts who might go out of control at any time, or that complaining about that somehow means we are somehow OK (as EC expressly said in the poorly stated comment that started this) with the minority of men who are like that.

    Look, women do not like being objectified. I totally get that. I don't blame them because I don't like it either. I am not asking as Ivan so stupidly suggested that all men be treated politely. Quite a few men demonstrate very quickly that they don't deserve to be treated politely. But don't give the Cupcakes of the world ammo by using the exact same language used to justify objectifying and profiling other groups. You can parse it better than that and that's really the only point I intended to make here.
    posted by localroger at 2:03 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Bunny: "Mansplain" is right up there with "all men are potential rapists" for just plain killing the discourse. It's not womansplaining to write a diatribe about how all men have to be treated with suspicion but it's mansplaining to say that that's insulting and objectifying?

    The thread you want is here.
    posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:18 PM on August 25, 2013


    it's mansplaining to say that that's insulting and objectifying?

    It is not mansplaining to say that it's insulting or objectifying. You misunderstand the term.
    posted by KathrynT at 2:18 PM on August 25, 2013


    Thank you for that link, Rustic Etruscan. That was a fascinating thread with many good comments on both sides of the issue.

    That said, I while "mansplain" might be a useful term (and I can see the focused meaning and think Bunny was misusing the term in that sense) the fact is that thread well demonstrates it is so loaded and prone to misuse, abuse, and misunderstanding that it really isn't all that useful in general public discourse.
    posted by localroger at 3:01 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


    that thread well demonstrates it is so loaded and prone to misuse, abuse, and misunderstanding that it really isn't all that useful in general public discourse.

    That thread is also the proper place for discussions about that word. This thread is more about street harrassment, and there's another thread that is about unwanted sexual advances at cons...

    ....Has anyone realized that there are three active and contentious threads going on at the same time, all three about completely different facets of sexism, and yet all three have "but this isn't fair to men" complaints and whining therein?
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:47 PM on August 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


    Yes. Pretty sure they all have someone saying "substitute 'black' for 'men' And see how you look" as an excuse for a valid argument as well.
    posted by sweetkid at 4:55 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


    "Mansplain" is right up there with "all men are potential rapists" for just plain killing the discourse.

    Killing the discourse? For whom? There are a lot of people enjoying the discourse, having the discourse, understanding the discourse. The few who aren't don't seem to buy into the basic concept in the first place, which is a bigger issue than discourse. Why so afraid of words? Why must we speak to some men in just the right way for them to do the absolutely, obviously, unequivocally right thing? Is treating others like a human being a favor they should grant only to those willing to grovel and tiptoe around their fine sensibilities? And why does that sound so familiar?

    This is how some of these arguements always end up going, with each side backed up against a wall going "well YOUR concerns are meaningless because MY concerns are more important." It's tiresome and hey I think the rock saw needs to be reset.

    I don't see this argument going this way. I see one or two people making a big stink over a very simple issue, and trying to make sure that they remain at the center of it, with the power to control terms, always. I see a lot of other people having a decent conversation and making progress on a meaningful issue. It's easy to choose which argument you want to have and avoid it "always" going that way.

    it really isn't all that useful in general public discourse.

    One thing it does do is make it really clear who's so irritated and offended by it that they are unable to do anything but act from defensive positions.

    there are three active and contentious threads going on at the same time, all three about completely different facets of sexism, and yet all three have "but this isn't fair to men" complaints and whining therein?

    This attempt to derail and refocus happens in almost all sexism-related threads of the past few years. Interesting, isn't it?
    posted by Miko at 5:01 PM on August 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


    God, yeah; the last thing you want to do is to kill the discourse with people who don't want to have the discourse.
    posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:51 PM on August 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


    The idea that privileged groups can withdraw their support if marginalized groups aren't nice to them is a fundamental way that privileged people attempt to control discourse and the people who claim that they'd be allies if only [marginalized people] were nicer to them are lying, because they are still attempting to use their privileged status to control the conversation via tone arguments. Allies don't do that, and if you are trying to do that, you are not an ally.
    posted by NoraReed at 6:34 PM on August 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


    Anybody who's only going to agree to fight harassment if I'm sufficiently nice to him is, frankly, participating in the harassment already.
    posted by KathrynT at 6:38 PM on August 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


    They might be useful allies if you don't start the conversation by pissing them off.

    Some men will insulted no matter how much you mollycoddle them and will never be allies, will always want the conversation to be about them and their hurt feelings though. Pandering to them just derail any useful conversation, as has been done here and won't help anybody, least of all the actually existing victims of the kind of low grade everyday harassement we're talking about.

    Any social change will offend some people, but some people need offending and if we want to end harassment we can't let asshats who rather worry about their bruised egos than help stop rape determine how we want to talk about it.

    In general, as men, it really isn't up to you or me to decide how women should deal with harassment or conservations about it; course you can always chose to be offended, but that says more about you generic you) than it does about the message.

    ....Has anyone realized that there are three active and contentious threads going on at the same time, all three about completely different facets of sexism, and yet all three have "but this isn't fair to men" complaints and whining therein?

    Yes, and as a bloke I'm frustrated by the same spoiled brats bringing that up while pretending to speak for me.
    posted by MartinWisse at 3:12 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


    This attempt to derail and refocus happens in almost all sexism-related threads of the past few years. Interesting, isn't it

    As you know, Bob Jane, not a new phenomenon at all, as dr King explained fifty years ago already:
    I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
    posted by MartinWisse at 3:19 AM on August 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


    "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will."

    Quoting for truth. Thanks MartinWisse.
    posted by billiebee at 5:33 AM on August 26, 2013


    I gotta admit - KathrynT gave me some food for thought, because I know that I personally have made that same "not a good idea to insult the people whose minds you're trying to change" and I had to examine myself for hypocrisy.

    And while it's close....I think I'm still on the side of the right. And I think the reason why is ultimately an important thing for the foes of "mansplaining" or the "you're saying all men are rapists" to consider.

    I've usually chided the folks in religion threads, but I've done so when they actually outright attacked religion itself, and outright told the religious that being religious was outright folly. In other words, they were saying that who their rivals ultimately were was wrong, and were telling their rivals to change who they fundamentally were. Whereas the people who use the term "mansplaining", or who cite the fact that the male gender is far more likely to be the gender who rapes, are not attacking men as a global concept, or insisting that men stop being men.

    Many of us women do not hate men as a concept, and actually like quite a few men. What we dis-like is this behavior which is unique to many men we've met, and we just want y'all to either stop it (if you do it yourself) or get your buddies to stop it. We do not, however, wish that men would stop being men, or wish that you'd all go away into a cave and abandon the earth to women or anything. Statements like "all men should just be killed at birth", now, that's something to get up in arms about. Someone using "mansplaining", frankly, pales in comparison.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:21 AM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


    as dr King explained fifty years ago already:

    I am certain that if King were here today, saying the things he said fifty years ago, a ton of well-meaning (and not so-) people would insist on pointing out that he'd get a lot farther if he just didn't call people racists and if he were nicer and less strident and if he'd only use less confrontational terms and techniques to enact change they would be more supportive, but he's lumping all [thiskind] of people together and they feel attacked and threatened and so he's wrong. It's depressing.
    posted by rtha at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


    The thing that frustrates me so much is that because the social context is one of unequal treatment, with an advantaged group and a disadvantaged group, the demand by the advantaged group for fair treatment by the disadvantaged group is itself an advantaged demand and results in further inequity. Advantage means that such demands carry much more weight than the similar demands of the disadvantaged. So the well-meaning advantaged will unintentionally divert resources to address their grievances and reinforce the implicit standard that they come first. The ill-meaning advantaged will seize upon this as an effective tactic to achieve those ends.

    Clearly the social context of negative generalizations about women is very different than the social context of negative generalizations about men. Nevertheless, negative generalizations about men are unfair and hurtful in the same way that any negative generalization about classes of people are hurtful, all else being equal. The former truth means that too-convenient equivocations are deeply suspect and needn't be tolerated. The latter truth means that we can't just dismiss all such grievances entirely.

    But entertaining them leads to the trap described in my first paragraph.

    Men (and the occasional woman) in this thread and others have tried to make a comparison to race. Okay, let's do that.

    They've placed men in the role of blacks, which is specious. Let's place men in the role of whites, privileged group to privileged group.

    What do we think when we hear a white person saying "but blacks are racist, too"? What do we think when we read of a survey that finds that a majority of white Americans now believe that bigotry against whites by blacks is a larger problem in our society than bigotry against blacks by whites? What do we think when we hear a very angry white person talking about how offended they are by "cracker", how that because the word isn't as stigmatized as the n-word proves that white people are being badly treated?

    The thing is, lots of black people have treated white people badly. The word "cracker" is offensive.

    But we know there's something wrong with the implicit claim of equivalency. We know that a good portion of the hurt and outrage is the hurt and outrage of someone who has been lucky enough not to experience this kind of injustice on a daily basis, at most levels of society, for their entire lives and so, too, have their parents and their parents' parents lived this way, and also their children. It's a sort of surprised hurt and anger, like a pampered child unexpectedly injured, not the dull, constant, life-sucking hurt that comes from living with new injuries stacked atop old injuries, day in and day out.

    And I think most of us are frustrated and angered by these claims, not because we believe that they're utterly false, but rather because to whatever degree to which they're true, it doesn't invalidate the grievances of black people, grievances which are much more serious; and yet even if the compared injustices aren't zero-sum (that is, white grievances and black grievances don't offset each other), the space for public discourse, the time and effort and money for addressing grievances are all zero-sum and so insofar as these claims are recognized and addressed it's a reification of the greater injustice done to black people by a society which devalues them.

    We recognize the absurdity of predicating justice for black people on their own perfect behavior, individual and class. But the raising of white grievances against black people within the context of discussions of black grievances against white people carries with it that implicit message. It says as long as you have a spot of guilt, we will talk about it and not the vast stain upon us.

    All of which is to make the point that it doesn't matter whether these grievances of men against women are valid or invalid, serious or trivial, comparable or incomparable. They are not part of this discussion. They should not be part of this discussion, they cannot be part of this discussion because they are inimical to this discussion. We can have that discussion when we have it, but we can't have it here. We can't have it anywhere and anytime when the discussion is about the grievances that women have against men. It's that simple. It's not about right or wrong or true or false or valid or invalid. It's that despite the implicit argument that some make, the possibility that mainsplaining might be offensive or "rapists are men" might be offensive have no bearing on the matter of the injustice of mansplaining or the injustice of violence against women. These are separate discussions.
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:57 AM on August 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


    I am certain that if King were here today...a ton of well-meaning (and not so-) people would insist on pointing out that he'd get a lot farther...if he were nicer and less strident and if he'd only use less confrontational terms

    We don't even need to speculate. This morning, I read a great piece titled The March on Washington in Historical Context, which said:
    On June 11, registration day for new students at the University of Alabama, the state’s new governor George Wallace “stood in the schoolhouse door” in Tuscaloosa to make sure no blacks were among them. His supporters included the editorialists of the Winona (Kansas) Leader, who wrote, “The very people who have the greatest stake in preserving the Constitution”—black people—“are doing the most to destroy it” with their meddlesome protesting.

    ...violent backlash was protesters’ fault. Before the Storm: “Theirs was an almost desperate belief that America was by definition a placid place, if only ‘extremists’ could be kept in check. That didn’t just mean the racists who perpetrated the violence—but also those who ‘disturbed the peace’ on the other side by protesting racism.” (I found one example of a civil rights worker charged with disturbing the peace for getting pistol-whipped.)

    The thing that makes Martin Luther King’s masterpiece “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” such a political watershed was that it was one of the first texts to explicitly take this mad consensus on...
    Which sent me back to Letter From a Birmingham Jail. (Which is also where the discussion of King's disappointment in white moderates and the traditional Christian church comes from). The letter is King's response to a letter sent him in the jail by a group of fellow clergy, who express sympathy with the cause of civil justice, but concern that King and his allies are going about it in too disruptive a way:
    ...In Birmingham, recent public events have given indication that we will have opportunity for a new constructive and realistic approach to racial problems.

    However, we are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro citizens, directed and led in part by outsiders. We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel their hopes are slow in being realized. But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely.
    The letter closes by saying that civil disobedience, however "technically peaceful" is the cause of - not the result of -racial violence and oppression, and urges local black citizens not to take part.

    King responded:
    MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN:

    While confined here in the Birmingham City Jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely...It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative....
    King recounts his and others' efforts to deal with opppression in Birmingham by using the courts process, by negotiating, by sitting directly down with merchants to ask them to remove "humiliating" racially segregating signage in return for a moratorium on store protests. He notes that none of it has worked, that people's homes and churches are still being bombed, police brutality has not abated, and Birmingham remains one of the most segregated cities in the nation, despite the long good-faith efforts of the black community to work within the system. He says "we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise."

    Then he talks about why he plans to lead his social action groups in protests, despite others' recommendations that he not rile the beast, speak carefully, negotiate peacefully:
    You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood...

    We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
    So yeah, lots of people didn't like King's "tone," and they attempted to blame him and his supporters for the outpouring of anger, brutality, and simple cold indifference that reflected a deep-seated American racial hatred. However, that was never caused by him, and it was never caused by the longing for justice, and he knew that.

    So while I recognize that pointing out the uncomfortable truths about sexual aggression does create a tension in some of our interlocutors, I would point to King's discussion of that tension and encourage you to experience it as a call to action. It is possible to choose which role to play in this kind of ancient drama about preserving the status quo vs. doing the difficult work of change. Rather than writing us the letter that the very effectively oppressed, conservative and fearful clergy wrote to King in the Birmingham jail, think about what might happen if you walked toward the tension, and rose, Socrates-style, "from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal."
    posted by Miko at 9:18 AM on August 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


    Great analysis, Ivan F. Flagged as fantastic.
    posted by Miko at 9:20 AM on August 26, 2013


    It says as long as you have a spot of guilt,

    Ah, yes - the one-drop rule. Purity is required before legitimacy can be recognized. Hell of a trap.
    posted by rtha at 9:26 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


    Let's place men in the role of whites, privileged group to privileged group.

    ok: white people commit the vast majority of white-collar crime in america. or, i'm thinking, the kind of crime where someone signs off on dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean. maybe it's not even a crime, but just a really shitty thing to do.

    anyway, apply that to the discussion above.

    P(dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean | white)

    could be very high while

    P(white | dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean)

    could be very small.

    it would be misguided to talk about the problem of people dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean as a problem that white people, as a group, are responsible for. and that any white person potentially is dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean until they prove to you otherwise. and it's oppressive when white people take issue with statements like "white people are predominantly responsible for dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean."
    posted by cupcake1337 at 5:38 PM on August 26, 2013


    "white people are predominantly responsible for dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean."

    Um...but they are.

    I'm white. I'm not oppressed by your statement. Yeah, it is my responsibility to try to stop this type of crime that affects us all in countless and painful ways. I recognize that the history and construction of whiteness plays into the fact that these criminals have gained the power to do this awful thing.

    I love that you're still trying, though. Even after you (presumably) read and understood (?) Ivan F's comment about why addressing this particular argument, which may I remind you is about men and women, not banking crime, through analogies, is specious.
    posted by Miko at 7:16 PM on August 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


    Does dumping waste benefit white people in general? Does it disadvantage non-whites especially?

    I guess to an extent it does. There is such a thing as environmental racism. So maybe it isn't such a bad parallel.

    I think you accidentally made the opposite point you intended to.
    posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:34 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


    [Comment removed. Stop with the personal attacks, they are not okay here and are not a substitute for an actual discussion.]
    posted by jessamyn at 7:58 PM on August 26, 2013


    it would be misguided to talk about the problem of people dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean as a problem that white people, as a group, are responsible for

    It really wouldn't. As a white person, I'd be happy to have that conversation. Not here, of course, because this is not that thread.

    However you have made an interesting analogy: white people dump toxic waste, but not all white people do. On a wider scale that's true. But on an individual level, actually all white people do dump toxic waste (if we're going to look at household waste.) So rapists are men, but not all men are rapists. But on an individual level are all men, in fact, responsible for the continuation of rape culture in some way if they don't play their small part in dismantling that culture? One example could be, oh I don't know, derailing rather than engaging with a thread that tries to discuss these issues?
    posted by billiebee at 3:45 AM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


    white-collar crime

    This is really offensive. Not all people who work white-collar jobs commit crimes, y'know.

    /hamburger
    posted by rtha at 8:27 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


    cupcake1337: "it would be misguided to talk about the problem of people dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean as a problem that white people, as a group, are responsible for. and that any white person potentially is dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean until they prove to you otherwise. and it's oppressive when white people take issue with statements like "white people are predominantly responsible for dumping millions of toxic chemicals into the ocean.""

    You are failing, spectacularly, to understand both the logic and emotion of this argument.

    Yes, white collar crime is responsible, in most ways, for environmental degradation (be it outsourcing specifically to countries where that is accepted, or the lack of oversight, or the financial coercion or whatever). But one out of ten white people I meet are not in industries that do this, or are fantasising about doing this, or stating that they would if they thought they could get away with it.

    And if they did do it? Wide-spread environmental harm but not personally, actively harming me.

    Whereas one in ten men I meet is actually a rapist, that's not even counting the one who would if they could, or want to, or anything. That is men who have raped someone (that might be a woman, a man, a child). And here's the thing - I am never allowed to forget that. If I do, then I am blamed for not being wary enough. I am not allowed to forget it by the actions men take around me, like hollering from cars, like sexual harassment, like inept and threatening come ons. All of that reminds me that men, as a class, possess a weapon they can use against me as a woman. A weapon, that has in actual fact, been used against me.

    And when men try and tell me that it's not a weapon, that I need to be less wary of men lest I hurt their poor little feelings by not being logical enough?

    I, in all honesty, stop caring about their feelings. They obviously do not care about mine, so let us remove emotion from the equation. One in ten of you have raped people. One in ten of you have hurt someone, violated someone, in a manner that is deeply intimate. Even more of you apparently would like to. I surround myself with men who understand that, who know that and do not make excuses for why it's okay. Why I, as a woman, should put their emotional needs ahead of my physical safety and my own emotional needs. I surround myself with men who undestand that rapists USE this 'don't be so wary' bullshit to continue committing crimes, that they use 'but I'm a nice guy' to select their victims, that they USE rape culture to both excuse the rapes they commit and to undermine the notion of rape itself.

    It is not emotion that makes me mistrust men, it is experience and logic. Who is the one in ten? They don't have signs. And who is the one in six who has decided that, yes, actually I can get away with it? Again, they don't wear signs. They are at the top of the food chain, they are the ones with power in this deeply sexist society - to mistrust them is not reinforcing patriarchal power structures, it is acting against them.
    posted by geek anachronism at 3:39 PM on August 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


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