The Problem with Privilege (or: Predatory Behaviour)

Post 9 in an ongoing series. See the Master Post for previous entries in The Problem with Privilege.

From blacklava.net. Buy one today! (If you're privileged.)

In the last post in this series, comments diverged from the topic of overzealous application of skepticism to the idea of whether it’s right and rational for women to assume that all men are potential rapists. I made the following analogy, as regarding a comparison to assuming all Muslims are terrorists:

I also suspect you’re suggesting that there is a visual difference between Arabs and Caucasians, but you substituted “Muslim” for it. Muslims don’t necessarily have to look like brown people in turbans, you realize.

And as for assuming all of them are terrorists, there are just as many non-Muslim terrorists in recent history to suggest that what you mean is that you’re justified in thinking that anyone who is overzealous about some particular dogma is a potential terrorist. Meaning animal rights activists, Christians, men’s rights activists, anti-abortionists, et cetera. The problem with that is, you can’t visually distinguish that someone is an adherent to a dogma unless they do something to self-identify, like wearing some distinctive symbol. And even then, your fear responses shouldn’t automatically trigger or you get incidents like where clerics are arrested for praying in an airport.

And in the States, carrying guns or knives is legal in some circumstances, so even if they were, that doesn’t mean they’re planning on using them.

So, you can get situations where people’s fear responses are triggering unnecessarily. You’re within your rights to be afraid of every person you meet being a terrorist, but unless you see them with a bomb or knife or gun, there’s something slightly irrational about it. Likewise with women who have already been assaulted, or have already been trained by seeing others assaulted, or have been trained by just about every “rape avoidance” sheet, that there are certain behaviours that, to them, are like seeing a gun or knife or bomb.

Following a woman into a secluded area where they don’t have any potential backup and don’t have an easy escape route (like an elevator), making your first contact with them something that doesn’t make any sense outside of being an oblique request for sex (because there’s no coffee maker in the rooms and there was coffee at the bar you just left), or even just waiting until the girl has had a few drinks and is heading to bed because she’s tired — all of those are predatory behaviour. Whether Elevator Guy knew it or not, he was sending off all sorts of signs to Watson that he was carrying a gun or knife or bomb like your hypothetical “potential terrorist”. And just like your “potential terrorist”, he doesn’t have to actually use those weapons to be scary.

I’ve pointed out before that the elevator pitch is a well-known hard-sell technique in the business world, so named because you have a captive audience who can’t get away from you for a minute or so. This is another example of a predatory behaviour, and society has a tendency to look down on such behaviours unless a premium is put on them — for instance, if you’re in an extremely competitive marketplace, using an elevator pitch on someone might be seen as admirable by a sufficiently sociopathic recipient.

The term “predatory behaviour” covers a spectrum of actions that society generally frowns upon, because it involves taking advantage of imbalances of power between two or more entities. Predatory lending, for instance, takes advantage of the poor by offering them a way to get out of their financial situation, but doing so in a way that the loan-taker likely does not understand the risks they’re taking, and where the lender benefits more if the loan defaults than if it is repaid in full. Some predatory behaviour is not so abhorred by society at large, like within the capitalist context of a business: where one advances within a company by taking no prisoners, back-stabbing, lying, cheating, or sabotaging one’s opponents within the scope of their office politics. This will win you no friends but might win you the big promotion. And some predatory behaviour drives steep divides between political parties, like when lies and misinformation peel voters away from their own best interests, eviscerating the social programs that keep them afloat.

In the context of sexual politics, predatory behaviour takes a different cast. With sex, consent is paramount — it is the singular defining factor that segregates acceptable and unacceptable congress. Not everyone understands this point, and in fact, not everyone agrees with it. Some people engage in zoophilia or pedophilia or necrophilia, engaging in sex acts with entities that are incapable of giving informed consent. Society frowns upon these fringe activities more strongly than more common acts, where there is significantly less agreement as to what constitutes informed consent. It was, until very recently, treated as “not rape” to force one’s matrimonial partner into unwanted sex. It is still, to this day, difficult to get the legal system pretty well anywhere in North America to take seriously any charges of sexual assault or rape made by a sex worker, much less a girl that goes to a party and has too much to drink, or who wore a low-cut dress, or anyone else prejudged to be “loose” or “looking for sex”. And attendant to the question of consent is the concept of the “pick-up artist”, the guy who learns psychological techniques to convince women to have sex with them outside the scope of any level of familiarity. All predatory behaviour with respect to sexuality involves finding ways to circumvent consent or to obtain it under false pretenses. This makes it significantly more difficult to obtain justice after a sexual assault has occurred, especially in assaults that do not result in physical harm.

With the difficulty women have in having rape charges taken seriously; with so many of them being classified out as “false reports” for having insufficient evidence, or being summarily dismissed before being investigated at all because the report taker believes it to be invalid; and with the difficulty of providing positive identification resulting in a woman really being raped, and the very real possibility of an innocent man really going to jail; it’s small wonder this culture has developed the nervous tics that it has about the topic. These nervous tics manifest primarily in people completely misinterpreting incidents like the blow-up that has been the blogosphere’s reaction to the admittedly mild Watson elevator incident. I say “admittedly mild” with reservations, because in comparison with genital mutilation, the incident is fairly mild. But then, so’s having your car stolen, on that particular yardstick. And putting scalar values on personal experience is a fool’s errand at best, a convenient way for apologists to piss a lot of people off at worst.

The “disputed” events around Elevator Guy’s actual cold-proposition notwithstanding, if you take every element out of the picture including the prior “no’s” expressed by Watson except for the following facts, the story plays out thusly:

1. Guy and girl who are not familiar with one another get onto an elevator together in a hotel at 4 am after drinking in the hotel bar for multiple hours
2. Guy suggests he has been paying attention to girl, includes prophylactic “don’t take this the wrong way”, and would like to invite her back to his hotel room
3. Girl says no, guy relents without further incident

There’s “no harm” there in that the guy did not actually force himself on her in any way, per 3, but she still has every right to recognize his behaviour as predatory. The facts that indicate predatory behaviour in this attempt are:

1. Girl has been drinking and is probably visibly fatigued, suggesting vulnerability to such tactics
2. Guy has isolated girl in an elevator despite having had other opportunities to make his proposition when others were around in a more public venue
3. Girl does not know guy AT ALL prior to this proposition, no matter what guy knows about girl from observation (because girl has a higher profile in their community)
4. “Don’t take this the wrong way” indicates comprehension that what he’s about to say could be interpreted negatively — meaning, in a manner that might be off-putting to the girl

There are more indications of predatory behaviour in the story though, when you take it all as true, including the high-pressure sales tactic of ignoring blanket statements at two previous points during the day that she’s not interested in being hit on in this way, at all, ever. Apologists might dispute the possibility that Elevator Guy was around to hear either signal, but the only people disputing the core of the story — saying the incident was fabricated from whole cloth, for example — are so far removed from rationality that they truly believe that all feminists want men to be subservient to women, or think that all men are rapists, despite all the evidence to the contrary. In point of fact, Watson gave the mildest of mild rebukes to this man and his actions by saying his actions were creepy, and don’t do it the way he did because it probably won’t work.

Apologists demanding an explanation as to why it’s creepy have been given this exact line of reasoning a number of times already, but each time, it appears they are unwilling to accept the facts in evidence. Stephanie Zvan crafted a challenge for EG apologists asking that they stop arguing the minutiae and accept the premises regarding the story as true, then argue how it was in fact “zero bad”, akin to chewing gum. Many folks stepped up to… dance around the challenge and haggle for a more favorable-to-their-viewpoint set of circumstances, and met with being put into moderation until they could actually bring themselves to address the challenge proper. The howls of censorship have reverberated through the various blogs that the various actors have not been banned at yet. I fully expect one of them to appear and call this a screed against men, in fact.

One of them, in this last post, suggested that I believe all men are rapists. I do not. I don’t even believe all men are capable of rape. I have made the point previously that I will not brook statements that all men are rapists, and I stand by it — if you make this statement and refuse to recant, you will be summarily banned, I don’t care whose side of the argument you claim to be on.

This suggestion about my philosophy is only true in the same sense that I think all people are terrorists, or all people are astronauts, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of people are not terrorists or astronauts. I believe that all people (note, not all men, all people) are POTENTIAL rapists, insofar as there’s nothing a person can do to tell us apart except to watch for predatory behaviour and defend themselves when they spot it.

This statement shouldn’t be controversial, no more than the statement “all guns are potentially loaded”, as made by pretty well every gun safety course or manual I’ve ever been privy to. This safety tip does not stem from bigotry against guns. One does not have the ability to distinguish between a gun that is loaded and a gun that is not from the outside of the gun (assuming an average, modern gun). The consequences of getting it wrong can be disastrous, even if the vast majority of guns are not loaded.

The fact that according to the US Department of Justice, 99% of rapists (in reported cases) are men, strongly suggests that women have more to fear from strangers than men do with regards to sexual assault, though fully nine percent of rape victims are men. Behaviour like Elevator Guy’s, whether he knows it or not, involved doing stuff done mostly by pick-up artists and rapists. He was engaging in predatory behaviour that sent signals that Watson picked up on as creepy. And because of it, feminists like myself would like men to shoulder some of the burden by avoiding sending such signals and ending such predatory practices where they see them. Certain less savoury elements characterize our wishes as misandry or sexist behaviour or an attempt at establishing a female-dominated society. I call bullshit on this particular slippery slope argument.

Since society has placed such a high burden on women to defend themselves from rape, and since failing to do so could come at such a high cost to the woman in question, and since certain men are fighting the necessity to shoulder some of their burden with cries of sexism and abridged freedom, it’s frankly no wonder that so many women react strongly to situations like the elevator incident. It’s no wonder these women treat every man that does not go out of his way to avoid predatory practices as a potential rapist. They’re well within their rights to do so, at that, because too many men have betrayed them by refusing to acknowledge this is even a problem.

We’re better than this, men. We can shoulder some of this burden. We can stop this utter assholery that has spawned from Watson’s mild rebuke of a mildly creepy incident. All we gotta do is take responsibility for our actions and understand that even some of the more innocuous ones might have consequences for women who have been damaged by society at large. And hell, fixing the parts of society that tend to damage these women in the first place might be a good idea, while we’re at it.

The Problem with Privilege (or: Predatory Behaviour)

88 thoughts on “The Problem with Privilege (or: Predatory Behaviour)

  1. 51

    I’ll even give you some more quotes that you can attempt to mine to suggest that I’m advocating segregationism.

    Battered spouse shelters have a disadvantage in that they have to take anyone at their initial word in letting people into the building. Existing men’s and women’s shelters do not account for the possibility of homosexual relationships, and thus can have significant disadvantages for the people trying to make use of them — disadvantages including that someone’s partner might claim to be a battered spouse to gain access to the inner sanctum and attack their ex again.

    But sure, make it one single “battered spouses” shelter. If you can do it while also addressing the concerns that people might enter the shelter specifically to find and attack the people who escaped them.

  2. 52

    I saved this statement from onion girl, posted in a discussion back in April:

    (Disclaimer: I am going to write from a US perspective because all of my professional experience is based in the US.)

    >I’m fighting against laws that work to hide the amount of domestic violence that men suffer.
    Laws that define domestic violence, or even rape, as specifically something a man does to a woman.

    Yeah, those suck ass. And state by state we’re slowly changing those laws. Despite the fact that male victims of domestic violence can, in some states, have difficulty accessing services and getting justice, 50%-70% of domestic violence victims are women (Sources: CDC, DOJ, NIJ)

    And let’s look at some stats here:

    *From 1993 to 2007 female homicides dropped 43%, yet the rate of females killed by intimate partners was 70%, approximately the SAME rate as it was in 1993. (Source: BJS)
    *In 2008 females age 12 or older were five times more likely than males age 12 or older to be victims of intimate partner violence. (Source: BJS)

    *One in five rape or sexual assaults against females (20%) was committed by an intimate partner–on the positive side, rape against women dropped by 70% from 1993-2008, and rape against men to 36% (.5 in 1000 to .3 in 1000) (Source: BJS)

    So what we get from this is that rape and violence against men (over age 12–we’re not taking into account child abuse) occurs, but still at a drastically lower amount than against women–which is not to say that under-reporting will probably shoot these percentage points up about one or two notches.

    In the past decade that I’ve been working with domestic violence, 99% of the case of male domestic violence victims that I have worked with have been ‘retaliation victims’–that is, men who attacked their partners, generally by hitting with fists or objects, and then were injured when the partners fought back, usually by scratching or biting. When the police arrive, the bruises on the women are not visible, but the scratches on the men are–and the women are charged.

    Those actual male victims of domestic violence generally had totally different injuries: they’d been struck with heavy objects, stabbed with pens or other sharp instruments, had food tampered with, or been injured in the groin–exactly what you expect from a woman attempting to injure a man, using weapons, poison (three rat poison cases), or attacking the genitals.
    I once ran a batterer intervention group where one guy started talking about how he got his wife put in jail, and the entire rest of the session was the rest of the guys admitting how they’d manipulated the situation to have their partners arrested.

    Domestic violence against men DOES HAPPEN. I have seen it, I counseled men, I’ve put women abusers in jail. BUT.

    Working to eliminate patriarchy only serves to BENEFIT male victims of domestic violence. By changing the dynamics of male-female relationships to eliminate the assumption that a power imbalance must exist, eliminating the concept of women (and thus all things female) are weaker, negative, bad, by promoting communication and equal, healthy relationships–you will DECREASE the number of victims. Male or female.

    Likewise rape–defining rape as only occurring between men & women is ridiculous, and most states are changing those laws. But to eliminate rape, you MUST eliminate patriarchy, because the power imbalances in male-female relationship–the ACCEPTANCE of those imbalances–are 99% of what causes rape in the first place–regardless the gender of perpetrator or victim.

    Source for original comment: here.

  3. 53

    tawaen,
    it’s like you swallowed a bag of buzz words but have no idea what they mean. Can you help me understand what it is like to sound of on a topic that you don’t know much about? Why do people do that? I wish I knew.

    OK first up: black people fear white people you say. I have never heard that. Are you black? Where do you get this from?

    “fear of racial discrimination”

    You ever been on the end of discrimination? Sure doesn’t sound like it. You don’t fear discrimination. You EXPECT it maybe. You get angry about it. You get resigned to it. Fear it? Can you give an example of what you mean?

    “such as what played out in the 1960s during the civil rights movement”

    Yeah being beaten up is something to fear. But you were saying black people fear white people just standing there doing nothing. Not even saying anything. Meeting them in an elevator. That’s my point.

    I don’t think you “get” discrimination. I know all this is so new to you. I know it sounds funny to say that it is the powerful who fear the powerless. Specifically though – get the context here – I mean that if a member of the powerful meets up with a stranger who is of the powerless, and they meet together briefly on equal terms, and there’s no police or whatever to protect the powerful person — that is often pretty scary for the powerful person. Because in that instance they wonder if their power can really protect them.

    Sure rich guy has money and maybe bodyguards, sure the woman has centuries of prejudice on her side saying “women and children first” and “never hit a lady” but in that instance those societal protections may be lacking.

    Plus of course – which is more my point more – the powerful tell fearful stories about the powerless, to dehumanize them. To justify their own power.

    Do you get the idea?

    “With poor people, it’s the fear of economic retribution from someone with more resources.”

    You are talking about maybe something else entirely. Something far more abstract. I’m talking about the raw emotion of fear merely because you meet someone else in an elevator.

    “Considering that every single woman I know has been sexually harrassed”

    Well duh. Everyone on the planet has been, male or female. The definition is that wide on purpose. Its to give you feminists some artificial crap to bitch about.

    “none of them have felt that the police would do anything”

    Maybe because it is not actually a crime?

    Do I need to explain to you what sexual harassment is? It’s history? Sexual harassment is a form of institutional discrimination. It’s not done by an individual as such. And its a law suit not a criminal case.

    “Would men be taken more seriously than women are now if they reported all the women shouting sexually explicit messages out of cars at them? Or if they reported women going around exposing themselves to teenagers on the subway? I don’t know, because I’ve never met a man with that problem.”

    Men don’t die of breast cancer too often either. But they die of all sorts of other stuff at higher rates than women do. You are just ignorant of what men’s issues are. So you deduce “men have no problems”

    Your sexism and prejudice leads you to disinterest which leads you to ignorance which you then interpret as evidence that men have no problems.

    “Is it a bad thing that physical abuse against women is occasionally taken seriously, but not abuse against men? Yes. But that would be less of a problem if more men and women challenged gender norms and became more aware of how sexism influences society.”

    Thanks for admitting your initial comment was wrong.

    What a shame there’s no movement of people to tackle that problem huh? But you feminists are too busy screwing over men to get to that issue.

    “Again, the patriarchy hurts men, too”

    Then you’re doubly an asshole for calling it a patriarchy aren’t you? You are blaming the real victims. That’s sexist.

    “it’s relatively new that women’s complaints of physical abuse are taken seriously”

    Don’t be absurd. Things have ALWAYS been this way. “Women and children first” is not a 20th century slogan.

    “Family or spousal abuse was considered to be a private affair”

    They would go round to the guys house and beat the shit out of him if that’s what you mean by “a private affair”. Of course there’d also beat the shit out of the man if his wife was the one beating him. I don’t know if you know this but life used to be pretty damn violent, and just as today, most of that violence was against men. Women and children were protected (although it was still bad for them too but far less so).

    You’ve heard of “women and children first”, right? On the titanic first class men died because third class women were given priority. Gender trumped class on life and death issues. And you have the utter gall to suggest to me that women used to have it bad?

    “If men want abuse against men to be taken more seriously, maybe they should try to organize”

    Yes “men” should organize. Of course when they do you attack them as “MRAs” or “mansplaining”. I happen to think that ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL should fight for equality. But I guess that thought is way over your head.

  4. 54

    Pteryxx thanks for pointing out (as I have done before here) that the definitions of rape and DV are sexist.

    Quoting statistics based on sexist definitions and then saying “OH gosh look, men are hardly ever the victims so screw them!” is pretty sick thing to do, and something it seems all feminists do.

    Jason getting the ban hammer out again.

    Jason. Serious question: in real life do you constantly interrupt conversations by threatening to hit people? Because that’s what you are doing here. Cut it out.

    “But sure, make it one single “battered spouses” shelter. If you can do it while also addressing the concerns that people might enter the shelter specifically to find and attack the people who escaped them.”

    Since you already mentioned the gay issue, I don’t comprehend why you seem to think that concern you mention is any sort of problem. As a result I am not sure what you are saying.

    Do you or do you not favour sex segregationism? in domestic violence shelters for example. It’s really rare for a feminist to oppose sex segregationism. It’s how they get their money (as a movement). It’s like a CIA agent being opposed to drugs.

    I understand many DV shelters have been sued over this in Canada?

  5. 55

    I’m waiting, David. Quote, recant, or be banned?

    Though honestly I’ll probably just put you into moderation rather than banning you, to be released at scheduled intervals when I can address your claims with well-researched evidence-based argumentation. You know, since you’re the only one of us has roughly fifty dispensable hours a day to post anti-feminist screeds on feminist blogs. (I’ll have to ask at some point for your time management tricks!)

  6. 56

    Jason getting the ban hammer out again.

    Jason. Serious question: in real life do you constantly interrupt conversations by threatening to hit people? Because that’s what you are doing here. Cut it out.

    I’m threatening to cut off your mic until someone else can have a say. I’m threatening to usher you out the front door since you barged in here uninvited. Under no circumstances would putting you in moderation be like hitting you. You’ve more than had your say, and I am, as it says on the column on the right, under no obligation to give you a platform for unanswered proselytisation.

    QUOTE, RECANT, OR BE BANNED. Last chance.

  7. 57

    Oh Pteryxx was a little dishonest. Some of that comment was written by someone else and just quoted. The reply above makes it sound like the woman had been working for men’s rights. The opposite is true. She was part of an effort to slam an MRA who wrote this:

    ===================================================

    Ignoring the attempt at sexist, emasculating language, this is actually a couple of quite good questions.

    Because the men I’m concerned aren’t the ones who are “privileged” at all. If you think all men are privileged then you’re sadly, sadly, mistaken.
    Men’s Rights would be better off named Men’s Issues, but it doesn’t have quite the same ring.

    I grew up in rural Australia, where after twenty years of drought, the suicide rate of rural adult males was almost fourteen times that of rural adult females. Yet this has been almost totally ignored by the media and government. I’m fighting to reverse this trend.
    All over the world, for every ten workplace fatalities, nine of those will be men.
    I’m fighting against laws that work to hide the amount of domestic violence that men suffer. Laws that define domestic violence, or even rape, as specifically something a man does to a woman.
    I’m upset about laws that allow rapists to force their victims to pay child support, as long as those victims were male, and raped “willingly” despite being below the age of consent.
    I’m fighting for father’s rights, against the sexism and bias in prevalent in family courts in so many countries.

    I could go on for pages, but the short answer is this:
    I’m not an anti-feminist, I think feminism has been and continues to be an important force for social change and justice. What I am against is EXACTLY your attitude: “why would someone who is in the privilaged class feel the need to advocate for the rights that he already has and has never needed to fight for?”

    The issues I listed are just a drop in the bucket of the issues that are uniquely male, but they’re largely made invisible by society. The focus is so overwhelmingly on feminism, the perception of masculinity so thoroughly negative, that speaking up results in this INCREDIBLE backlash.

    Can you tell me why, as a gender, men shouldn’t be allowed to come together and campaign for our own issues?

  8. 58

    Jason,
    “I’m threatening to cut off your mic until someone else can have a say”

    LOL, no you’re transparently not Jason.

    You said something which marked you as a sex segregationist. That is true. Most feminists are sex segregationists. Also true. When I deduced you were a sex segregationist — not exactly a huge leap of logic — you objected. Sort of.

    So I asked you to clarify your position.

    And I am waiting for you to do so.

    Could you do so?

    I repeat:
    Do you or do you not favour sex segregationism? in domestic violence shelters for example.

    Instead of more threats you could simply have said, “Actually I am opposed to sex segregation. I think DV shelters should be opened to all.”

    But you did not.

    So I am waiting for you to clarify your position…. or do your threats do that for you…?

  9. 59

    Feminists are such bigoted fucks that even male kids are banned from DV shelters (in the US) if they are over about 14 years old which as you can imagine causes problems. It’s nothing to do with allowing attackers into the shelters. The ban is sex segregation in its most brutal form. Feminists say men have an evil stench and women can’t be expected to be in the same place as men. Not even a 14 year old kid.

    So again Jason. Simple question. Do you think men and women should be allowed equal access to domestic violence shelters?

  10. 60

    Jason,
    “since you barged in here uninvited”

    You did invite critics over actually. Regretting that now? Never mind you can just lie about it, although PRO TIP, it is generally easier to ban people first and THEN lie about them.

    Should I DEMAND A RETRACTION from you? for lying about me?

  11. 61

    I even gave you more quotes to mine from which provide explicit clarity on that point:

    But sure, make it one single “battered spouses” shelter. If you can do it while also addressing the concerns that people might enter the shelter specifically to find and attack the people who escaped them.

    To reiterate, if you can address all the concerns that led to domestic violence shelters being sex-segregated to begin with, if it can somehow be done more efficiently that way, then by all means, overhaul the whole damn system, especially if you can also address all the issues that the LGBTQ communities face with regard to domestic violence and the inadequacy of current resources. I do not explicitly support sex segregation, nor do I explicitly want to abolish it. I want all parties to have access to support structures in “safe zones”, whatever happens to be “safe” for them, and I welcome ideas on how best to do that.

    Since you couldn’t comprehend that, and you refuse to recant, I am doing a pretty douchey thing by moderating you despite your obvious learning disabilities.

  12. 62

    Ladies and gentlemen, he’s modded. Please feel free to go back through the Gish gallops that this anti-feminist dogmatist has spouted, and rebut, knowing that he’s not about to go off on another tear.

    I will also do so as time allows, because despite everything else, despite his invective and his lies about us, there are a few points that actually matter with regard to egalitarianism. It’s very much a “but think of the men” cry on a post about the inequalities that women face, and so off topic, and I apologize if that has hobbled rational discussion.

    For right now, I have work to do, and I’m tired of parrying his ridiculous unevidenced assertions.

  13. 63

    I apologise to tawaen for biting her head off there.
    Sorry.

    Jason: I let this through because it’s the first sane thing out of his mouth. I didn’t let the thing through about me being a liar, though.

  14. 64

    @DavidByron

    I would appreciate it if you would find a new analogy, and leave the comparisons to the black civil rights struggle alone. Not only do I not wish to have one of the proudest achievements of my ancestors in modern history sullied by being associated with such an ass-backwards argument, but it makes you look like an idiot. The civil rights movement, from its very inception, was pro-feminist. To use it to cry “help help, I’m being repressed by feminists” is absurdly inappropriate.

    @Jason – you lasted about 30 comments longer than I would have before simply ignoring him, and advising my readers to do the same. His is not an ignorance that wishes to be corrected through argument – it is one that boldly crashes through your front door, stands with muddy boots on your sofa, and sneers at you for failing to be a good host.

  15. 65

    I think men are allowed to come together and campaign for “their” issues (note: male here).

    It’s just that we don’t have to take them seriously.

    Speaking for myself, there’s a very good reason why I don’t. I consider myself a feminist for very similar reasons to our good host. It’s an egalitarian thing. I as well, seek to break down gender roles and social norms. They hurt men as well as women. I also want to break down social norms and roles relating to things such as religion (see the modern atheist movement) and sexuality among others. A good example of the “other” is anti-bullying.

    I write this because on my Facebook today it’s pretty crowded as a young girl around my hometown committed suicide due to bullying. One thing that bullying of the social variety does, it it seeks to enforce said social norms. As such, it’s why I think reducing the power of non-harmful social norms is essential.

    Instead of acting like a male-focused version of feminism that seeks to tear down these social norms, those that campaign for “Men’s Rights” instead often act as anti-feminists, that is, looking to maintain and even increase enforcement of social norms.

    And that’s something that most of us simply can’t and won’t tolerate.

    I think that everybody will agree that there’s some there there in terms of the MRA movement. Not to the scale that they claim, of course, but men do get abused, and often are unable to get help, as an example. But unfortunately, what is there is lost under the mountain of BS that you and others like you heap on top of it.

    Or in short, you’re your own worst enemy.

  16. 66

    With people like DB, that’s his sole intent. Just to hobble rational discussion. By creating enough noise that nothing else can be heard. He’s been refuted easily on the many threads on this topic on other FTB sites, but he thinks if he can just take up 99% of the airwaves with “but what about Teh Menz” shyte then people must see that he’s correct in his wonderfully mature philisophy that bitchez ain’t shit.

  17. 67

    I want you folks to know that he’s posted an extraordinarily conciliatory comment explaining that he would like another chance at rational discussion sans all the insults and recriminations. I’m not planning on letting him out of moderation until I’ve gone through this thread, picked all the actual pearls of wisdom from the piles of dog feces and hobo vomit he’s couched it all in, and put up a post about issues that men face, because they’re worth discussing, but they’re most certainly not on topic here.

    I am an egalitarian, as I’ve said before, and there is some amount of truth to some of what he says about ways that men are disadvantaged. I personally feel that these ways in which men are disadvantaged are wholly resultant of the patriarchal society we’ve got presently. But there’s a hell of a lot to unpack. So bear with me.

  18. 69

    As a public service for ease of reading this thread, I present links to Greasemonkey and the Pharyngula Wiki collection of user scripts. If you are using the Firefox browser you need to install the Greasemonkey add-on (first link), which can then use various scripts. The killfile script does what it says; all comments by a single poster or individual comments can be hidden, so when an obsessed poster hogs the thread with 30 Gish-galloping comments (way more than the blog owner), hiding them all via a single click can clarify what other conversation is being had.

    KiwiSauce wrote:

    I don’t know if someone else has pointed this out already with the “elevator pitch” metaphor. I don’t think it is a good analogy because, in the pitch proper, the power lies with the person who is the receiver of the pitch. The reason the pitch is being done in that environment is so that the powerless can speak to the powerful. In the EG incident, the power was with the man, so the context is extremely dissimilar: the one already with power is the one controlling the situation.

    [my emphasis]

    Despite the apparent reversal of power dynamic, the similarity is in the fact that the hard-sell spruiker is pitching his or her case to persuade or pressure the listener to do something which is in the listener’s power (such as extend a favour to the spruiker, or otherwise “buy into” the pitch), and which the listener would have no inclination to do without the deliberately contrived opportunity to hear the spruiker. This is exactly the same in the Elevator Guy scenario: the speech, though rather shorter than a typical elevator pitch, appears reasonable on the surface but the mode and subtext of its delivery are far from reasonable (which the guy himself perceived judging by his initial rhetoric). Like the elevator pitch the elevator guy wants something which is in the listener’s power to give:

    “… I would like to talk more; would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?”

    Notice the indirection that the expressed aim is the guy’s wish “to talk more”, but what is actually desired of the listener is “come to my hotel room for coffee” and the place and time of the utterance serve to undermine the plausibility of such a request.

    I mentioned earlier that each phrase of the “elevator pitch” could be interpreted several different ways but I don’t intend to do that unless we’re all really bored trying to find other related topics to this thread. The point is, even if the meaning was the intended one and the guy really did want to offer (presumably non-existent) coffee in his hotel room to Rebecca at 4am in order to keep talking with her, the situation would still be “zero bad” because of the coercive method of making his approach.

  19. 70

    [meta]

    Jason, I can’t see any evidence in the 30 posts that did get through before you put him on moderation that the guy is prepared to approach the topic in good faith, let alone refrain from serving up insults and off-topic “what about teh menz?” ranting on the side. The apology at 63 is too little, too late (and I gather from your comment there it didn’t prevent him offering a fresh insult alongside the apology). There have been some things worth responding to in some individual posts, but they are usually surrounded by worthless dross. His supposed change of heart and attempt at conciliation is the expected bait-and-switch. He’s already made his points at considerable length: what more does he need to say on this subject that he hasn’t already said?

  20. 71

    Wow, not to hit a guy when he’s down, but DavidByron went so far past wrong with his response to my post that I’m not sure how to even feel about the apology.

    I assure you, DavidByron, I don’t deserve an apology because you managed to miss every point I made.

    I wonder if DB sneaks up behind soldiers that have come back from combat operations and pops balloons. And then calls them bigots for reacting negatively, because obviously he wasn’t really trying to hurt them because he’s clearly not an enemy… Are they saying that they think he’s a terrorist? They’re just oversensitive after being shot at, and shouldn’t they know that he’s such a nice guy that he’s only trying to help them get over their fear.

    Such irrational people, everyone who’s been conditioned by their environment to be wary of warning signs. Geez, just like those women who don’t like to be cornered at night, or those people of color who don’t like the cops stopping them to ask for their IDs… Straight white guys have it so hard when not everyone trusts them implicitly. And don’t you know that this one time on a boat men were told to put women and children first, so that makes everything OK?

  21. 72

    Hi all

    I’m trying to get up to speed on current feminist thought, but the language used is outside my experience ~ a bit of a barrier
    Where can I find a concise on-line resource that defines “privilege”, “silencing” & the like?
    Who coined those two terms & did they originate inside the feminist movement?

    Thank you

  22. 73

    Jason,

    I think a men’s issues posts would be good. Lots of the feminists I know are actually really encouraging of that, and one of the reasons we have guys like DB here is because there’s only really non-progressive places for them to do so, because they’re only being started by men with no idea of how privilege works sucking in guys with a lot of unconscious privilege and messing their heads around. Any place where our “safe spaces” are not also “hate spaces” would be a very progressive thing.

    I’ll say this for DB…he obviously gives a shit and his views do seem to come from experiences in his own life as opposed to rhetoric from someone else. Which doesn’t give him the right to talk about OTHER peoples experiences, of course, but good for you for holding your ground so long for not discarding it.

  23. 74

    The new post will be good, but don’t expect that David will have anything but insults and bile for it and you, Jason. Like the MRAs who say there should be shelters for battered men but never follow the lead of the feminist movement in building their own shelters, David doesn’t actually want you to talk about the menz. He wants you to stop talking about women. He wants you to stop being a feminist.

    Evidence here: http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2011/06/wealthy-handsome-strong.html?cid=6a00d8341bf68b53ef01538f5c52f5970b#comment-6a00d8341bf68b53ef01538f5c52f5970b

    Also, this is the guy who responded to me pointing out that (in the U.S. at least) that white guys have the lowest rates of victimization of violent crime and that the gendered difference in victimization is due to the crappy way our society treats black men by saying I don’t want to help men. He doesn’t actually want anything to happen to make things better. He just wants feminists (yes, not feminism) to end.

  24. 75

    I will confess I can’t really be rational about this thread because DB’s style of ranting triggers me very strongly.

    I lived with someone who talked EXACTLY like that for six years. In private, in public, on the internet, in restaurants, pretty much nonstop.

    He was not a rational, egalitarian fellow who just wanted women and people of color to give him a break. He was an abusive, psychotic asshole who thought all women who weren’t doing whatever random thing he wanted RIGHT THEN were bitches and whores and all other people – men, women, whatever – who weren’t in his immediate family were stupid, evil monsters who were out to get him. When he decided he wanted something he could be very charming, but it turned off and on like a spigot.

    It’s very fair-minded of you to want to give DB another chance to prove he’s not that type of guy. Really, it is. I applaud you. But I’ve stayed out of these threads specifically because of his trolling, and I’ll continue to do so.

    Sorry, but I’ve done my time with folks like him. Not doing it again.

    While I’m here, though, I’ll second Michael Fisher’s request. A basic, non-Elevatorgate related primer on race/class/gender privelege would be INCREDIBLY useful – not just for ourselves but to point other people to.

  25. 78

    Thank you

    I’m reading it now & I will think about it & then respond. What about my other questions ?

    Where can I find a concise on-line resource that defines “privilege”, “silencing” & the like? [A dictionary ~ a quick scan of the linked page didn’t produce “silencing”]

    Who coined those two terms ?

    Did they originate inside the feminist movement ?

  26. 79

    Michael, I don’t know of any good single source for you. The concept of privilege goes way back. The only thing new in any discussions of privilege is that we now understand that they can be granted by societies instead of just by law makers. Wikipedia has a decent intro to the concept: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Privilege

    Silencing appears to be more recently understood. If I had to guess, I’d assume it came out of the work on political linguistics that started in the 50s. The word looks to have come into common usage in this sense in the late 80s. If you want to understand it better, I suggest you read this post: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/25/the-ways-of-silencing/

  27. 81

    I wonder if DB sneaks up behind soldiers that have come back from combat operations and pops balloons. And then calls them bigots for reacting negatively, because obviously he wasn’t really trying to hurt them because he’s clearly not an enemy… Are they saying that they think he’s a terrorist? They’re just oversensitive after being shot at, and shouldn’t they know that he’s such a nice guy that he’s only trying to help them get over their fear.

    Wouldn’t surprise me. My ex — yes, that one — once pinned me down and restrained me in such a way that I was completely immobilized. He did it “to help [my] claustrophobia.”

    *shudder*

    @Nice Ogress — Did we date the same guy?

  28. cmv
    82

    I have to say that I share the view that DB has no interest in engaging in dialogue, only in bullying everyone into accepting his assertions. In case I’m wrong in that view, here are a couple of points.

    Segregation by sex is not always a bad thing. We do it in the case of washrooms almost everywhere. In the case of domestic violence shelters, how else would you assure that an abuser could not get in? Admittedly there are shortcomings as outlined by Jason and by DB (same-sex relationships and pubescent male children), but making all shelters co-ed is not a valid solution to those problems. Women who go to shelters are afraid of their partners and need a place where they will feel safe. If feeling safe requires that there are no men there, how is that a problem?

    More germane to the original event that set all of this off, why would anyone question Rebecca Watson’s version of what happened? In this case, she didn’t name names. There’s no reason to make this up. Take Jason’s example of buying milk: Imagine a post in which the blogger mentioned that they’d gone to a store where the milk in the cooler was past its sell-by date, and suggested that store owners should be more careful about making sure that they weren’t selling food that had gone off. Would you demand proof that the milk was actually old? Or give the benefit of the doubt that it really had happened that way?

    There are problems that men face in society, but those do not negate the problems women face. Nor does discussion of the issues women have to deal with in society negate the validity of men’s issues. In this case, a woman expressed discomfort due to the manner in which a man approached her to suggest an activity. After that, a lot of other women agreed with her that they, too, would feel uncomfortable in that particular situation. As decent human beings, it behooves us to listen to what these women say, and take it as advice on how not to make people feel uncomfortable.

    Jason, I want to thank you for the series. I didn’t see your blog until I followed PZ here from SB, but I’m glad to have found it.

  29. 83

    There is this place…

    http://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com/

    which I have found extremely interesting. Some excellent posts with the focus being on gender egalitarianism, one in particular is worth looking up… The one about “Ozy’s Law” which states that for every instance of misogyny there is also an equal and opposite instance of misandry. I cant do the site justice with my own words, but I think they would definitely benefit from more visits and debate.

    David Byron, I was sad to see him go. The comment about abusers bringing flowers the very next day seemed spot on.

  30. 84

    Regarding #4, you are certain that “Don’t take this the wrong way” is an awareness that the following words are wrong/immoral? It seems to me to be an awareness that he is likely to be rejected. It may also include genuine concern that if he is rejected, that she not be offended, because that is not his intent.

    Surprisingly, her original reaction was mildly expressing her feelings and requesting that some of her audience change their behavior with respect to her. It is the Rebecca Watson defense force that have turned this polite, yet socially awkward man into a stalker and a creep, including this article. Your suggestion that he should have propositioned her in public, not private, is daft. And equating it to a predatory elevator pitch is also unfounded, since by all accounts it was one line, full of uncertainty and without an accompanying hard-sell – without a follow up of any kind. You assume so much from so little.

  31. 85

    Arnold @84: you are erecting several straw dummies here. First, nobody said what EG said was wrong or immoral. They said that he exhibited predatory tactics and was aware that what he said might be taken as such, and that he didn’t want Watson to react negatively to them, but was aware that she might. Second, the “Watson defense force” didn’t rally until people started saying that she thought all men were rapists, or nobody should be allowed to flirt ever, or men have no right to want to get laid, or something.

    We assume predatory behaviour due to all of the itemized reasons in the original post. Try reading it. It actually talks about the reasons why his behaviour was predatory, even without all the stuff you claim to be contentious.

  32. 88

    […] with regard to the problem she’s somehow catalyzed by the horrific act of advising men not to act inadvertently predatorily if they don’t want to creep their flirting targets out. She said this about the community […]

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