a thoughtful web.
Good ideas and conversation. No ads, no tracking.   Login or Take a Tour!
comment by goo
goo  ·  2156 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why Women Smile At The Men Who Sexually Harass Them

    As a man ... aggression is the language we speak

I think this is where the disconnect lies. It is generally unspoken that men have "active" behaviours, while women are supposed to have "passive" natures.

Forgive my generalizations, but women are taught from a very young age to be compliant. Neat. Quiet. Courteous. Don't make a scene. Don't draw any attention to yourself. It's just easier to be passive because that's what we're told to do from a very young age. It's a pervasive historical stereotype, and you'll be hard pressed to convince me that it has disappeared in our society. As an example, just look at how many women are terrified of asking a man out because it's not "proper."

Do note that the author isn't talking about rape and physical attacks here. She focuses on men who talk to her for attention, a conversation, a reaction, some form of validation. Quite often ignoring someone who demands your attention will cause a reaction of anger, because ignoring = "you're beneath me." The easiest way out is usually just to smile and nod and keep going. You mention some of these cases are appropriate for a violent response - but how are we to know when that's okay, when there's no clear baseline for being justified? The few times I have said to someone, "Your behaviour is not okay," their response is to call me a cunt, it's just a joke, they were just being nice, [insert excuse here]. I'm not a mind reader - all I know right now is that I'm uncomfortable. And in terms of physically fighting back? Yeah... not always an option when someone is much stronger than you.

The concept of "male entitlement" does not include "all men." It means that sexual harassment is RIDICULOUSLY gendered, with men typically the instigators and women as the victims. This table pins roughly 87% of sexual assault victims as female. It means you probably very rarely think, "It is dark and isolated here, and a drunk man is sitting up ahead. I should cross the street." It means that often, the mindset behind casual sexual harassment occurring is "you should smile and be flattered when I touch you and talk to you, because we men only flirt with women who are worthy of us." When you're acutely aware of your own experiences and those of other women, you consider it much better to be on the safe side than to hurt someone's feelings for acting cautious around them.

I think a lot of people get hung up on these kinds of articles being personal and arguing, "Well, I'm not like that!" That's fine and all, but really the point is to encourage more people to stop and consider how others are shaped by different experiences.





o11c  ·  2154 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Forgive my generalizations, but women are taught from a very young age to be compliant. Neat. Quiet. Courteous. Don't make a scene. Don't draw any attention to yourself. It's just easier to be passive because that's what we're told to do from a very young age. It's a pervasive historical stereotype, and you'll be hard pressed to convince me that it has disappeared in our society. As an example, just look at how many women are terrified of asking a man out because it's not "proper."

Do remember that there is some component that is genetic (or rather hormonal, which is merely initiated by genes and may be altered) - testosterone is definitely related to both aggression and muscle growth, and is likely related to the way the brain track objects. In lower animals, estrogen will actually force the females to submit to copulation.

That said, I agree that the societal effects predominate in humans. But while it hasn't disappeared (and likely won't ever completely), it is significantly decreasing, and in Western society isn't enforced by law.

I posit that women are more likely to condemn themselves (and perhaps each other) than men are to condemn them. In my personal experience, men tend to respond very favorably to women who act definitively.

goo  ·  2154 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    some component that is genetic

Is there? What would that be? This is a can of worms that is ridiculously controversial. It is virtually impossible to remove all the social constructs jammed down children's throats. At this stage, we have no idea how much is genetic. But you are correct - testosterone is likely related to aggression. But does testosterone cause aggression... or does aggression cause testosterone? The nature vs. nurture debate is ongoing and it is unclear which is more pervasive in our social behaviours.

    In lower animals

I refuse to accept this argument as human beings are capable of rational thought. There is no equivalency here. Sexual cannibalism has been observed in mantises; is that a justification for me to decapitate the next man I sleep with?

    societal effects predominate in humans. But while it hasn't disappeared (and likely won't ever completely), it is significantly decreasing, and in Western society isn't enforced by law

I'm not sure if we had a misunderstanding but I don't see your argument here. Our societal interactions are literally what makes us human. Can you give me some examples to clarify?

    In my personal experience, men tend to respond very favorably to women who act definitively.

And my entire point is that this is your experience. Which is understandable - what else do we base our worldviews on? But take a step back and listen to others' experiences. When a large group is telling you that they experience harassment from men, they aren't making it up just to fuck with you.

I'm going to respond to your other comment here so we don't clutter up _refugee_'s thread.

    a physical reaction is perfectly justified.

When de-escalation is a viable option, it should be used before a physical response. Legally and in terms of safety. If you can run from the situation or talk your way out by just smiling and nodding, that should be your first choice. Especially when the person you're up against is typically stronger than you.

    Harassment is usually defined as something like "continuing after being told not to". If you smile and nod, then no harassment is actually taking place.

No. No. Holy fucking shit, no. Victim blaming at its finest here. It is not the victim's responsibility to tell someone to stop harassing them; they shouldn't be harassed in the first place! What about people who are sexually harassed by their bosses and can't say no because they need that job? There are so many extenuating circumstances where a person is afraid of saying no.

This right here is why the consent movement has shifted gears from "no means no" to "yes means yes" - because if someone isn't continuously, enthusiastically, and verbally saying yes, then stop right there. Smiling and nodding does not equate to "why, yes, I do enjoy being told how hot my tits are" when it's being used as a tactic to defuse a situation.

I think you are missing the fundamental point where this is about how women actively figure out the best way to keep safe. From men harming them. Margaret Atwood famously said, "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them." You don't roll out of bed and think, hmm, I'm going to harass someone today. But you also don't have to let your friends know when you're going out at night, just in case someone harms you. You don't have to watch your drink, or be mindful of how you dress, or travel in pairs at parties and clubs. That, my friend, is male entitlement.

o11c  ·  2154 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Do note that the author isn't talking about ... physical attacks here

Many of her examples are physical, or are threats of physical attacks. In these cases, a physical reaction is perfectly justified.

    She focuses on men who talk to her for ...

That doesn't seem to be the focus of the article to me. Talking may be mere rudeness or actual harassment.

Harassment is usually defined as something like "continuing after being told not to". If you smile and nod, then no harassment is actually taking place. If you make a clear disinterest, then the offender is forced to either quit forever or cross the line into harassment, at which point you have more options.

    The concept of "male entitlement" does not include "all men."

You might not denote it as such, but it definitely connotes it, and is quite harmful if you want to work for a solution. (Names and symbols do matter, no matter what we try to tell ourselves about roses).

It's like that article that was posted on Reddit (and likely elsewhere) with the title something like "Lesbian tourists arrested in Dubai". It's technically true, but gives a completely wrong impression - they were arrested for drugs, and trying to use their sexuality to cloud the issue.

I don't have any disagreement with your statistics FWIW.