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July 4, 2011 10:59 AM   Subscribe

How has this crap not been deleted already? Editorialized posts about community drama? Better posts about more interesting/important issues have been deleted for less.
posted by Talez to MetaFilter-Related at 10:59 AM (1114 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

I am so fucking livid with that thread right now I am seriously considering disabling my account. This is a great community but the self-righteous bullshit and over-moderating needs to stop pronto.
posted by MattMangels at 11:02 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry I meant to link to the threat itself. Orthogonality's little godwinning was pretty terrible the but thread itself is garbage.
posted by Talez at 11:03 AM on July 4, 2011


Thread itself. I can't type today.
posted by Talez at 11:03 AM on July 4, 2011


You need some coffee.
posted by the cuban at 11:04 AM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


The atheist community is pretty big (on the internets, at least). Lots of mefites are atheists. Lots of mefites are bloggers.

Also, what's the "over-moderating" you're talking about, Matt? I see jessamyn has deleted some comments that were apparently dragging arguments/history in from other threads, which has pretty much never been okay here.
posted by rtha at 11:05 AM on July 4, 2011


The post has gotten one flag, that's basically saying to us one of two things

1. no one thinks it's a deleteworthy post
2. no one is around

As much as I don't enjoy this sort of posts, MeFi is not for things that only I am interested in. It hits a few points that this community seems to like discussing [the atheist community, how to speak to women, drama in other communities] so it's here.

This is a great community but the self-righteous bullshit and over-moderating needs to stop pronto.


You made two comments basically calling the entire site a bunch of crappy names and called out a user who was not particpating in the thread. I'd like you to remain a community member, but you seem to be having trouble dialing it back today.

And yeah holiday weekends seem to bring out the worst in people for whatever reason. I'm sorry about that but I think people who want to argue can argue there and other people should flag and move on. There's nothing deleteworthy about that post, as annoying as it is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:05 AM on July 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


Really? Even if being Metafilter's analogue to TMZ or Perez Hilton isn't deleteworthy the framing of the post sure as hell is.

Or do you get a free pass on editorializing because it's pointless loldrama involving atheists being misogynistic?
posted by Talez at 11:08 AM on July 4, 2011


you seem to be having trouble dialing it back today.

Well I'm just angry because some, no, quite a lot of people on this site have trouble dialing back the finger-wagging and knee-jerk condemnations every single time race or gender issues come up just to show how liberal and PC they are. It annoys me because that kind of stuff makes casual observers hate anything that remotely smacks of liberalism. And yeah, that person was not participating in the thread but her comment was completely relevant to my point. And my complaint about over-moderating wasn't just about that thread, but how tangents are not allowed and the conversation can never veer too far off-topic. This policy has probably deleted some stupid ramblings that don't go anywhere, but it's probably deleted even more interesting tangential discussions.
posted by MattMangels at 11:12 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Happy 4th of July!
posted by cj_ at 11:12 AM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


That thread is persuasive evidence that there is no God.
posted by Trurl at 11:16 AM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I do not accept that Livejournal is an "analogue to TMZ or Perez Hilton". Some of the most interesting net conversations take place in and around Livejournal.
posted by Danila at 11:16 AM on July 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is a great community but the self-righteous bullshit and over-moderating needs to stop pronto.

Telling folks to stop doing the metacommentary thing in thread is a bog-standard part of thread moderation here, and has been for years and years. If you're frustrated about something about the site or the community and need to talk about it publicly, that's fine, but you do it here, not in the middle of a thread. That's just how this place works, and making a point doing it more in the original thread after we've stepped in to say "cut it out" is not okay.

And my complaint about over-moderating wasn't just about that thread, but how tangents are not allowed and the conversation can never veer too far off-topic. This policy has probably deleted some stupid ramblings that don't go anywhere, but it's probably deleted even more interesting tangential discussions.

I think you have a view of what we do and don't trim re: conversational tangents that is badly skewed by something here, because we almost never say "don't have that side conversation" on the blue; we mostly take action when it's a "that's a metatalk issue" situation or a "please don't start a random fight in here" situation. Tangents are fine. They happen constantly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:18 AM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's going to get lively, but it's an interesting incident and it touches a lot of MeFite buttons. I see no problem.
posted by Decani at 11:19 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lou Donaldson's version of 'Who's Making Love' was sampled in Craig G's 'Droppin' Science.'
posted by box at 11:22 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought the post was fine, but I knew better than to comment and get that thread in my recent activity after having to bail out of another "omg poor men picked on because women are annoyed about sexism" thread this week for my own sanity. I'm not surprised a thread involving atheism and feminism went south pretty fast.

Mods, I'm sorry y'all are having to spend your holiday dealing with this.
posted by immlass at 11:25 AM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Remember when Matt would close down Mefi when he wanted to go on holidays? Those were good times.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 11:28 AM on July 4, 2011 [19 favorites]


quite a lot of people on this site have trouble dialing back the finger-wagging and knee-jerk condemnations every single time race or gender issues come up just to show how liberal and PC they are

I didn't comment on the thread because I have nothing interesting or useful to say about it, but as a general rule, I have trouble dialing back my finger-wagging/etc when race or gender issues come up because holy crap I think it's bad to act in a racist or sexist manner. I'm not really sure what that has to do with being liberal or PC1.

1. I'm more of an NDP/Green supporter. Although the old Tories were ok.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:30 AM on July 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Metatalk: And yeah, that person was not participating in the thread but her comment was completely relevant to my point.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:33 AM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


quite a lot of people on this site have trouble dialing back the finger-wagging and knee-jerk condemnations every single time race or gender issues come up just to show how liberal and PC they are.

Alternately, a problem is that you have decided that people who are participating in earnest with passion and genuine convinction are posers who are trying to score PC points.

That's a hell of an uncharitable read on the discussion. I do not believe you are participating in it with openess to a contrary viewpoint, or even openess to the idea that those viewpoints are being presented honestly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:34 AM on July 4, 2011 [45 favorites]


Metatalk: that's right, I bookmarked that comment JUST SO I COULD BE PISSED OFF ABOUT IT AGAIN AT A LATER DATE!
posted by so_gracefully at 11:35 AM on July 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


I think it's bad to act in a racist or sexist manner. I'm not really sure what that has to do with being liberal or PC.

orthogonality should have been able to express his minority view of what was at issue in this episode without getting rhetorically stomped for it.
posted by Trurl at 11:36 AM on July 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


Trurl, the problem with orthogonality's post in particular is you can't go into a thread like that with a complete powder keg of a viewpoint without a veritable mountain of evidence to back it up.

Anecdotally guys do experience the behaviour and I have cited a study many months previously that showed that attractiveness does contribute to the perception of sexual harassment but going in like that is just asking to be stomped for it.
posted by Talez at 11:39 AM on July 4, 2011


There is a risk when you come in with guns drawn that others will draw theirs too.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:40 AM on July 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


orthogonality should have been able to express his minority view of what was at issue in this episode without getting rhetorically stomped for it.

It has 30+ favorites and counting. I don't think its a minority view.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:41 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Matt M: "the finger-wagging and knee-jerk condemnations every single time race or gender issues come up just to show how liberal and PC they are"

Exactly. Similar scripts every single time, starting long before you joined MeFi. You are becoming a true Mefi veteran, and a lot of us experienced the same rage you feel now. You are reaching another meta-plateau, group dynamics in a microcosm.
posted by Ardiril at 11:42 AM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


going in like that is just asking to be stomped for it

You don't see what you did there.
posted by Trurl at 11:42 AM on July 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


Favorites don't reflect how popular a viewpoint are. A lot of people use them as bookmarks.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm not really sure what that has to do with being liberal or PC.

I'm more of a minicomputer person myself.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:43 AM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Favorites don't reflect how popular a viewpoint are. A lot of people use them as bookmarks.

Everyone always says that, but I think really only a few people treat favorites as a bookmark. Most people, I am guessing, treat favorites as favorites.
posted by Falconetti at 11:45 AM on July 4, 2011 [26 favorites]


"She totally would have been all over his junk if only he'd been attractive because the world is a vale of tears and woe to unattractive men and it's terrible that I can't just walk up to a stranger and ask to get naked with her without risking being perceived as creepy" is not a goddamned minority view worthy of careful consideration, it's yet another in a long series of guys barfing up their lady issues on the internet. He said something confrontational and disgusting, and the people he confronted were disgusted.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:45 AM on July 4, 2011 [126 favorites]


I favorite some of the particularly reprehensible things said on Metafilter for the inevitable war-crimes tribunal.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:46 AM on July 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


Most people, I am guessing, treat favorites as favorites.

Yeah; its pretty simple.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:46 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"rhetorically stomped"? Give me a break. If you want to participate in a conversation you take the risk that people will disagree with you.

If you want to say things and have no one respond, you can do that, but you can't do it here.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:47 AM on July 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


Most people, I am guessing, treat favorites as favorites.

Pehaps. But we don't know, and therefore can't claim that they represent anything specific.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:47 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Favorites don't reflect how popular a viewpoint are. A lot of people use them as bookmarks.

For posts, sure, I believe you. For comments, particularly comments in threads like that, no way. When we've had the favorite discussions in the past, many commenters have explicity said that they use favoriting to show support. This is held up as a positive for their continued use.
posted by bonehead at 11:49 AM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


just to show how liberal and PC they are.

Yeah, that's totally why those of us who participate in these threads and who call out out sexist behavior do it. To show how liberal we are. Not because shitty behavior and comments need to be called out. No, it's never that. It's to score points on the PC scale - get enough, and you win stuff, like blenders. It's awesome.

orthogonality should have been able to express his minority view of what was at issue in this episode without getting rhetorically stomped for it.


Well, I think he should have been able to express his (minority?) view without having to be all "Girls only like it when hot guys hit on them amirite" because that is a stupid fucking thing to say, and ortho is not stupid.
posted by rtha at 11:49 AM on July 4, 2011 [59 favorites]


And here I thought I'd have to go outside for fireworks and explosoins!
posted by cavalier at 11:50 AM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


[re: delete worthy] ...the framing of the post sure as hell is. Or do you get a free pass on editorializing because it's pointless loldrama involving atheists being misogynistic?

I missed the editorializing. I don't have a dog in this fight, but it seems pretty well balanced post. It states the conflict, the individuals involved, and what their positions are. Everything is linked or taken from context.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:51 AM on July 4, 2011


it's yet another in a long series of guys barfing up their lady issues on the internet. He said something confrontational and disgusting...

If that were true, the mods would have deleted the comment.
posted by Trurl at 11:51 AM on July 4, 2011


Talez: "Really? Even if being Metafilter's analogue to TMZ or Perez Hilton isn't deleteworthy the framing of the post sure as hell is. Or do you get a free pass on editorializing because it's pointless loldrama involving atheists being misogynistic?"

I absolutely take issue with this and would like to respond: I go out of my way not to editorialize when I post to MeFi. That post is entirely composed of quotes and a straightforward recap of the gist of what happened, with linked context. When MattMangels questioned one sentence I used, I replied right away to point out that I was quoting Dawkins himself in my paraphrase. I have not participated in the discussion otherwise.

I think this characterization is incorrect.
posted by flex at 11:51 AM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I guess my point is that if we start arguing about how many favorites a comment gets, then we run the risk of people appealing to the popularity of a comment rather than to its content.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:53 AM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is part of my personal continuing problem with favorites.
posted by bonehead at 11:54 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I favorite some of the particularly reprehensible things said on Metafilter for the inevitable war-crimes tribunal.

Considering you only get a hundred a day, it's like Sophie's Choice playing out every twenty minutes.
posted by griphus at 11:56 AM on July 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


If that were true, the mods would have deleted the comment

I don't think the mods delete comments for that reason.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:59 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"rhetorically stomped"? Give me a break. If you want to participate in a conversation you take the risk that people will disagree with you.

Disagreement: You couldn't be more wrong and here is why I think so.

Stomping: some comments are just dumb but then now and again there are comments which are not only spectacularly, face-shreddingly dumb but also provide a pathos-sodden window into the life of the person making it.
posted by Trurl at 12:00 PM on July 4, 2011 [23 favorites]


you can't go into a thread like that with a complete powder keg of a viewpoint

You can on the 4th of July!

GRAR for some, tiny American flags for others!
posted by amyms at 12:02 PM on July 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


My theory is that the heat makes people crazy and the only way to compensate is blowing things up.
posted by fuq at 12:03 PM on July 4, 2011


"Dawkins still doesn't get it" isn't editorializing?

My mistake. I'll remember that for next time.
posted by Talez at 12:05 PM on July 4, 2011


"Dawkins still doesn't get it" isn't editorializing?

Dawkins said he didn't get it in the comment linked with those words. It would have been a direct quote if the OP had written it "Dawkins: 'No, I obviously don't get it.'".
posted by immlass at 12:09 PM on July 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


That thread is persuasive evidence that there is no God.

Funny, I was taking it as confirmation of the fact that Hell is other people.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:12 PM on July 4, 2011 [36 favorites]



If you want to say things and have no one respond, you can do that, but you can't do it here.


I know I'm not the only one who has managed that trick.
posted by Forktine at 12:16 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


For the record, I use favorites as bookmarks.

And now I wish I had favorited that heavily favorited comment that said something like "NOBODY IS KEEPING A FUCKING RECORD".

PS: And if someone's going to link to that comment now, could you please also dig up the one about this 21st century life being amazing.. listing out all the stuff we take for granted that is basically just miraculous in view of what we've had historically (open the tap and get clean water to drink!).
posted by vidur at 12:21 PM on July 4, 2011


"Sorry I meant to link to the threat itself. Orthogonality's little godwinning was pretty terrible the but thread itself is garbage.
posted by Talez at 2:03 PM
"

Orthgonality Did no Godwinning in that comment. He would have had to specifically compare someone to Hitler or Nazis or it's just another comment from a mysogynistic sexist missing the point of the post.
posted by longsleeves at 12:33 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Vidur, I can tell you that second one comes from a Louis CK rant, everything is amazing and nobody is happy. I've seen a few comments based on the truth underlying that skit including one of my own.

Here's the rant of his.
This is what I had to say, but I don't know if that's quite what you were looking for.

As for the nobody keeping a record, that's sort of a common refrain around here about favorites. That's mostly true, but I wouldn't unfavorite this comment. Just in case.
posted by Saydur at 12:38 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Perhaps. But we don't know, and therefore can't claim that they represent anything specific.

Favorites almost always represent simple agreement, and it ain't hard to tell either. If somebody's got a hundred, two hundred or so favorites, or less, they're probably using them as bookmarks. If somebody's got over a thousand, they're using them as upvotes. People don't keep thousands and thousands of bookmarks.

(cue exceptional person taking exception, but come on)
posted by furiousthought at 12:45 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, I'm not going to bet my favorites that you're wrong.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:47 PM on July 4, 2011


Saydur, thanks. You're right, and many people have said similar things ever since, I guess. But I found the specific comment I was thinking about. It's this one by EatTheWeak.

And the "for the record" comment I have in mind is someone being really upset by people constantly saying "for the record" because WTF! NOBODY IS KEEPING A RECORD OF YOUR THOUGHTS!
posted by vidur at 12:47 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


(cue exceptional person taking exception, but come on)

Or they could be using favorites to indicate something else entirely.
posted by [citation needed] at 12:49 PM on July 4, 2011


I was following the Pharyngula thread until I realized that it was messing with my blood pressure. Thus I didn't even go near the post on the blue. I've gotten better at that. But I still made the mistake of getting into the topless thread here. Hey, I'm working at it.
posted by Splunge at 12:49 PM on July 4, 2011


If that were true, the mods would have deleted the comment.

Trurl, you know damn well that's not true at all. The mods often have to leave shitty comments like that in place when the discussion then becomes significantly about the shit contained within the shitty comment, and deleting the comment would leave a weird hole of missing context in the thread.

Please don't pretend you aren't well aware of how things work here.
posted by palomar at 12:50 PM on July 4, 2011


Trurl: “orthogonality should have been able to express his minority view of what was at issue in this episode without getting rhetorically stomped for it.”

orthogonality is wrong. It's not cruel or evil to point that out.

hal_c_on: “It has 30+ favorites and counting. I don't think its a minority view.”

Yes, this is certainly true, since as we all know there are only 59 people on Metafilter.
posted by koeselitz at 12:51 PM on July 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


Vidur, yeah, that was a great comment. Really put that optimism out there. Thanks for finding and linking it, just feels good to even read that again.
posted by Saydur at 12:51 PM on July 4, 2011


Talez: ""Dawkins still doesn't get it" isn't editorializing?

My mistake. I'll remember that for next time.
"

Hey, you can also remember that people explained that was pretty much explaining the man's position as he himself described it -- within four comments of the original post. And then you can remember your passive aggressive sulking, too. Perhaps you will feel embarrassed, perhaps not. Who can say.
posted by boo_radley at 12:52 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Happy 4th of July, mods! Go barbeque!
posted by Justinian at 12:59 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Talez, seriously – that seems like a really interesting and vital conversation to me. It's a little contentious, but that comes with the territory. Conversations about sexism are argued with seriousness and passion here. That's not a bad thing.

Really, I'm wondering what exactly you think is so offensive about that thread. Why is it so terrible that people have a discussion about something important?
posted by koeselitz at 1:01 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


quite a lot of people on this site have trouble dialing back the finger-wagging and knee-jerk condemnations every single time race or gender issues come up just to show how liberal and PC they are.

Seems to me like you're hauling around a way bigger and more cynical chip on your shoulder than the most strident OMFG Shamerer.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:12 PM on July 4, 2011


Justinian: "Happy 4th of July, mods! Go barbeque!"

If you need flames for the charcoal just check back here occasionally.
posted by Splunge at 1:13 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I definitely sympathize with the woman in this situation, and I find these discussions really interesting because I think there's some real contradictions in the advice being given to men.

When a nerdy, mildly-socially inept man (or woman!) posts on the Green something along the lines of "I really like [person], and I think [person] might like me back. What should I do?", there is a resounding chorus that answers "make the first move! but respect [person] if they says no". And I think that's good advice, in general! Be assertive, but respectful!

But then we get threads like this, where women talk about how hard it is to be constantly hit on. And Christ, I can only imagine what that's like, but I don't envy them at all.

Now, you and I know that there is a sea of context-dependent cues that allow you to be forward at times without being skeevy (in this case, the woman explicitly talking about not enjoying being hit on is a pretty glaring one). But for the guys who have trouble with women in the first place, that's just begging the question and I can understand the frustration: "Make the first move!" vs "only if she's definitely interested" is a difficult path to navigate for the best of us. I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that I jump into every nerd-dating question to push OkCupid.

Finally, I think it's a bit disingenuous to characterize ortho's comment as "if he was hot she would have said yes". It's a fair point that the difference between creepy and romantic often comes down to whether the woman is already interested in/attracted to the dude. Agreeing with that statement doesn't imply that it's ok to indiscriminately hit on women.
posted by auto-correct at 1:17 PM on July 4, 2011 [47 favorites]


...because I think there's some real contradictions in the advice being given to men.

What I personally find infuriating about this thread is the way people are dragging their personal baggage into a situation that's pretty much completely clear-cut. Don't hit on women in places where they can't leave the situation if they want to! Especially don't do it in isolated places like elevators or dark alleys where they have no idea what the consequences will be if they upset you!

I don't see how this basic guideline is remotely controversial. How is this not obvious?
posted by gerryblog at 1:26 PM on July 4, 2011 [20 favorites]


What the women here say for the most part, at least in my reading, is "it sucks to be hit on out of the blue all the time". If a woman here has said "I was really attracted to that guy, but then he started hitting on me, ugh", I'm not aware of it. So I don't think there is a contradiction in the advice for those shy men, because those guys, at least in your example, are talking about escalating a pre-existing relationship where there appears to be signals that that would be welcome. These are the kinds of factors that make advances, if not necessarily desired, at least not creepy.
posted by Errant at 1:27 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Trurl, you know damn well that's not true at all. ... Please don't pretend you aren't well aware of how things work here.

I believe the comment remains because it is well within the parameters of acceptable MeFi discourse. You apparently believe that it remains because too much thread has grown around it. Although any random comment is more likely to be explained by the former than the latter, they are both plausible explanations here. In the absence of a mod comment explaining the decision, we have no evidence either way.

Why then can you not simply disagree with me? Why must you accuse me of arguing in bad faith - and in such a personalized way?

Unless, by my defending the legitimacy of orthogonality's comment (which is not the same as necessarily agreeing with it), I have somehow made myself an enemy to you?
posted by Trurl at 1:27 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really understand the criteria. Tammy Camp was a big hit here too, after the initial comment was deleted.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:29 PM on July 4, 2011


Finally, I think it's a bit disingenuous to characterize ortho's comment as "if he was hot she would have said yes". It's a fair point that the difference between creepy and romantic often comes down to whether the woman is already interested in/attracted to the dude. Agreeing with that statement doesn't imply that it's ok to indiscriminately hit on women.

That's a pretty charitable reading of:

Fact is, had she fancied this guy (had he been (like the best coffee) hotter, richer, or smoother), this wouldn't have been an issue. [...] But because this guy was too nervous, too inept, too fat, too geeky, whatever, his polite pick-up line becomes some sort of misogynistic oppression.

But it's a much better argument. Yes indeed, if Elevator Guy (regardless of his level of hotness!) had taken the time to know the lady and gauge her level of interest, it would not have been creepy. That's the crux of the creepy/romantic divide.
posted by Freyja at 1:29 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Orthogonality's little godwinning

orthogonality godwined it first? Shit....
posted by Chuckles at 1:29 PM on July 4, 2011


Unless, by my defending the legitimacy of orthogonality's comment (which is not the same as necessarily agreeing with it), I have somehow made myself an enemy to you?

This is a little over the top. By pointing out that you know how things work here, I am not tacitly declaring myself to be your enemy. Come on.
posted by palomar at 1:30 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The post has gotten one flag, that's basically saying to us one of two things

1. no one thinks it's a deleteworthy post
2. no one is around


*shakes cash box* Hi, everyone, I'm taking up a collection to buy vodka for the mods when everyone comes back in from barbecues and road trips or whatever, sees that post, and dumps 86-gabillion flags on it and the servers turn sentient just to avoid crashing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:30 PM on July 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Favorites don't reflect how popular a viewpoint are. A lot of people use them as bookmarks.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:42 PM on July 4


Fancy a bet? Let's ask everyone who favourited that comment whether they actually liked it or whether they were just using it as a bookmark so that they could... I dunno, AZ, what? Go back and hate on it in quiet moments? 20 bucks that at least 90% actually liked the comment? You game? I am.
posted by Decani at 1:33 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


In the absence of a mod comment explaining the decision, we have no evidence either way.

It was not-removable by the time I saw it. It was out of line. In a slower-moving thread I would have removed it. If it wasn't a huge holiday and I wasn't trying to have a good time with my boyfriend and neighbors I might have removed it. The world is complicated. You are not wrong, but neither are you right. Usually that level of calling-out of other people would have gotten axed. These are not usual times.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:36 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I ALREADY SAID I WILL NOT BET.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:37 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't like Astro Zombie's most recent comment, but I have favourited it.
posted by ODiV at 1:38 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


it's just another comment from a mysogynistic sexist missing the point of the post.
posted by longsleeves at 8:33 PM on July 4


You seriously think ortho is a misogynist sexist? Seriously? No, I really want to know.
posted by Decani at 1:38 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I ALREADY SAID I WILL NOT BET.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:37 PM on July 4


I know you did. But I'm trying to persuade you to change your mind. The reason I'm doing that is because I think the reason you will not bet is that you know damned well you would lose. Right?
posted by Decani at 1:39 PM on July 4, 2011


In a slower-moving thread I would have removed it.
Which comment are you referring to? Ortho's?
posted by joost de vries at 1:43 PM on July 4, 2011


These threads are always difficult. I have to stifle my immediate defensive reaction for some reason and I have no idea why.

I read, "Some dude came on to me in the elevator and it was uncomfortable." and I think in an outrageous voice, "What the hell, can I not do anything without making a woman feel uncomfortable!?"

Then I read some comments and realize that no one was saying, "You can't talk to women" or anything remotely like it and I can't figure out why I got that impression.

And I'm not even talking to strangers that often anyway, nor am I hitting on anyone because I'm seriously off the market. And I can't figure out why I get so defensive. It's interesting.

It's a good thing I've (mostly) learned to stop commenting immediately after reading a subject heading and a couple pull-quotes.
posted by ODiV at 1:44 PM on July 4, 2011 [40 favorites]


When a nerdy, mildly-socially inept man (or woman!) posts on the Green something along the lines of "I really like [person], and I think [person] might like me back. What should I do?", there is a resounding chorus that answers "make the first move! but respect [person] if they says no". And I think that's good advice, in general! Be assertive, but respectful!

But then we get threads like this, where women talk about how hard it is to be constantly hit on. And Christ, I can only imagine what that's like, but I don't envy them at all.

Now, you and I know that there is a sea of context-dependent cues that allow you to be forward at times without being skeevy (in this case, the woman explicitly talking about not enjoying being hit on is a pretty glaring one). But for the guys who have trouble with women in the first place, that's just begging the question and I can understand the frustration: "Make the first move!" vs "only if she's definitely interested" is a difficult path to navigate for the best of us. I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that I jump into every nerd-dating question to push OkCupid.


DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER!!

This whole affair has probably set this poor guy's social skills and confidence around women back to the stone age. But God forbid we consider the male perspective on this, or even entertain the idea that a male perspective on these things even exists. I guess that's my white male privilege talking.
posted by MattMangels at 1:45 PM on July 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


But God forbid we consider the male perspective on this, or even entertain the idea that a male perspective on these things even exists.

So if I don't share that perspective, does that mean I'm not a male?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:47 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


MattMangels: " I guess that's my white male privilege talking"

Well, the first step in overcoming a problem is admitting you have a problem.
posted by ShawnStruck at 1:48 PM on July 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


Question for Angry Mefi Men:

... which part of her response fills you with fury? That a woman said no, or that a woman has asked men to be more sensitive?

And ... (as so well stated in the thread) ...

- ... if a stated goal of atheist associations [metafilter] is to increase its proportion of women to men, then it is a very big deal. Behavior that will make women uncomfortable will drive them away.

I am feeling very uncomfortable about the way women are being treated on metafilter.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:48 PM on July 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


I figured orthogonality's post was stating the obvious: that actions that are charming and intriguing in one situation between two people will be weird and uncomfortable-making if you change the scenario slightly. The Onion has made the point more artfully, but I am baffled by why the general idea would be controversial to anyone.

Is there anyone who thinks that someone who looks like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie is not given more latitude in social situations than someone looking like Danny DeVito or Rhea Perlman?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:49 PM on July 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


Which comment are you referring to? Ortho's?

No, the one calling ortho out in a sort of shitty manner that followed it. The one Trurl was talking about. Orthogonality is welcome to have his opinions and he knows enough about how folks interact here that I think he knows what's likely to be unpopular and he can handle that on his own. Even unpopular opinions shouldn't be shouted down.

But God forbid we consider the male perspective on this

You're welcome to continue trying to have a conversation in this manner, but it's likely to be about as useful to you as the one over at MeFi. There are many men talking about their perspectives (of varying sorts, not all in lock-step with whatever you seem to think the only approved perspectives are) there and here and if you're not seeing them I'm not sure what the problem is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:49 PM on July 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


I know you did. But I'm trying to persuade you to change your mind. The reason I'm doing that is because I think the reason you will not bet is that you know damned well you would lose. Right?

It's because I don't really care. As I said, my concern is that people may start arguing the value of their opinion based on how many favorites they get. So it is useful to remember that favorites are no evidence of popularity, much less rightness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:49 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Favorites almost always represent simple agreement,

I agree with this. To which I would add:

1. yes, in general, favorites represent agreement with what has been said.
2. no single favorite can be assumed to represent agreement with what has been said.

Or we could just keep on arguing about it.
posted by philip-random at 1:50 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


That thread and this one are making me a little sad. I'm going out into the sun for a bit. Happy 4th, y'all.
posted by smirkette at 1:50 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, the first clause of that second sentence should be "But God forbid we consider the male's perspective on this", i.e. the guy in the elevator's perspective.
posted by MattMangels at 1:50 PM on July 4, 2011


This whole affair has probably set this poor guy's social skills and confidence around women back to the stone age.

OMG - that poor poor man. Now instead of hitting upon female conference attendees in otherwise unoccupied elevators in the early morning , he'll be reduced to clubbing them upn the heads first thus eliminating the nasty after-blog consequences.

Oh my that poor man.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:51 PM on July 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


MattMangels, I feel for you. No sarcasm!

You're experiencing firsthand how the dynamics arising out of gender inequality are hurting men as much as they're hurting women. Everyone would be more relaxed about these things if there were no reasons to be on our guard.
posted by Freyja at 1:51 PM on July 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


Decani, I frequently use comments as bookmarks. Especially in long threads, when I don't have time to read the whole thing at once and I don't want to make a dumb comment simply so that the thread pops up in my recent activity. Sometimes I'll also favorite comments that I've flagged as offensive in some way -- it's a little easier for me to follow up on them later and see if they got deleted or called out or whatever.

Some people use favorites in ways that are different than the way you use them. It's not a good reason for fighting.
posted by palomar at 1:52 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


But God forbid we consider the male perspective on this, or even entertain the idea that a male perspective on these things even exists.

Actually, just above you is ODiV's comment which I would honestly like to point out as a really great and excellent example of doing it right. I really don't see any usefulness to the idea that men aren't welcome in a discussion of how men and women interact, and I really really would love to see more examples of the moment ODiV describes - where he realizes his gut reaction may not be a product solely of the situation presented.

I mean, I get it, I really do. Unpacking a reaction like that is not easy to do and it's not comfortable for the person doing the reacting or the subsequent unpacking. And I think that when someone does it anyway, and acknowledges doing so in a public space, it's downright heroic. I really mean that.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:55 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Favourites are cool as sort of reverse bookmarks. When I see a name I don't recognise I can click a couple of times and see a list of popular comments/posts they've made, which usually leads me down at least one interesting rabbit hole I missed the first time around.

I fave for bookmark, for upvote, and because I'm on a mobile browser and I'm trying to scroll.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:57 PM on July 4, 2011


Actually, just above you is ODiV's comment which I would honestly like to point out as a really great and excellent example of doing it right. I really don't see any usefulness to the idea that men aren't welcome in a discussion of how men and women interact, and I really really would love to see more examples of the moment ODiV describes - where he realizes his gut reaction may not be a product solely of the situation presented.


Given that you were the one who made the nasty thread-shitting comment being actively discussed in this thread, maybe you're not a good judge of what constitutes an acceptable suppression of gut reactions
posted by nasreddin at 1:58 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is a great community but the self-righteous bullshit and over-moderating needs to stop pronto.

It's been like this for as long as jessamyn's been a moderator, which is probably a good thing.

She'll delete a lot of comments, and I also tend to think the Jezebel Sex Positive Rape Squad has installed itself into the front page here, but MetaFIlter is still one of the most clean, smart, interesting sites to visit, which is also attested by its "Best Of" inclusion on lists year after year.

So this Metatalk thread has come up over, and over, and over again and next week there will be more outrage, on the Internet of all places. orthogonality's comment is a good one, even if you disagree with it. And of course if you disagree with it IT MUST BE OPPRESSION. I think it's only his reputation that has allowed it to not be deleted, to be honest. There have been hundreds like this one erased as quickly as they're submitted.

In the end everyone here wants the same thing, for this to be the best site they can make it. And, so far it still is, despite your level of discomfort over reading something that happens to not be your perspective.
posted by four panels at 1:58 PM on July 4, 2011


You know something, I really can't believe no one has made this comparison before now, or maybe I've missed it, but this whole thing brings to mind a certain Simpsons episode.
posted by MattMangels at 1:58 PM on July 4, 2011


When a nerdy, mildly-socially inept man (or woman!) posts on the Green something along the lines of "I really like [person], and I think [person] might like me back. What should I do?", there is a resounding chorus that answers "make the first move! but respect [person] if they says no". And I think that's good advice, in general! Be assertive, but respectful!

But then we get threads like this, where women talk about how hard it is to be constantly hit on. And Christ, I can only imagine what that's like, but I don't envy them at all.

Now, you and I know that there is a sea of context-dependent cues that allow you to be forward at times without being skeevy (in this case, the woman explicitly talking about not enjoying being hit on is a pretty glaring one). But for the guys who have trouble with women in the first place, that's just begging the question and I can understand the frustration: "Make the first move!" vs "only if she's definitely interested" is a difficult path to navigate for the best of us. I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that I jump into every nerd-dating question to push OkCupid.


The difference is the power differential. I don't think it makes me less of a dude to say it, but, hell, I'll turn in my testicles if this is disagreeable. Here's the thing. If a woman hits on me and has ill intentions if I turn her down, unless she's Amazonian, the most she can do is hurl herself at me while I fend her off. If I'm a woman and a creepy guy comes at me, he's probably bigger and stronger than me and can carry out what he wants to do and there's nothing I can do about it if he's really determined.

They don't know anything about the creepy guy in the elevator. They don't know if his intentions are good or ill. What they do know is someone who is probably bigger and stronger than they are has them cornered in a confined space, alone, for a significant amount of time. Maybe he takes the "no" with good grace and apologizes. Maybe he gets in her face about it and starts screaming at her about what a bitch she is. Maybe he yanks the emergency stop and tries to get what he wants anyway and (here's the thing) not only does she have to deal with the physical crime, she has to deal with the investigation, all the emotional damage, and a lot of people blaming her. You turned down a creepy guy in an elevator? Geez, you should've known not to do that!
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:00 PM on July 4, 2011 [34 favorites]


So it is useful to remember that favorites are no evidence of popularity, much less rightness.

Favorites are absolutely evidence of popularity. I don't know how you can reasonably think otherwise. Many people are so sick and tired of the discussion that they'd rather just favorite the people that are making the points they would make if they had the stomach to post their opinion in Yet Another Fucking Thread About This Shit.

Rightness, on the other hand… no argument here.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:00 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


longsleeves: “it's just another comment from a mysogynistic sexist missing the point of the post.”

Decani: “You seriously think ortho is a misogynist sexist? Seriously? No, I really want to know.”

Good point, Decani. We should all try to keep this in perspective and remember that this isn't about what people are essentially but what people said. And the point is not that orthogonality is a misogynist sexist. I hope all of us can be clear on the fact that he isn't. The point is that a lot of us feel he said a misogynist or sexist thing. That's very different.
posted by koeselitz at 2:02 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


This whole affair has probably set this poor guy's social skills and confidence around women back to the stone age.

I would suggest they hadn't yet left the stone age, but assuming that they're more evolved than that:

Are you seriously suggesting it's the woman's fault that he's not able to be emotionally mature enough to not hit on strange women in an enclosed, restricted space like an elevator at 4 in the morning? Man, that's how rapists operate. Intentionally following someone to an elevator where she's a captive audience is stalking and it's physically intimidating and threatening. This isn't just about coffee.

The fact that this guy doesn't understand this is not her fault. Suggesting that it is is misplaced victim blaming.

But God forbid we consider the male perspective on this, or even entertain the idea that a male perspective on these things even exists.

What perspective is that? I'm sorry, are you saying men are weak-willed creatures who don't know their own minds? Are they not to be held accountable for their actions?

Are we supposed to, say, offer some kind of special dispensation and forgiveness for their behavior because they happen to be male - or even just happen to be this one socially clueless guy?

Wow, that sure sounds like sexism!

I guess that's my white male privilege talking.

You said it, and I'll confirm it. It's actually your white male privilege talking.

You're accusing people of "just to show how liberal and PC they are" and that's also bullshit.

It's not a fucking contest. I actually believe and fight for these things, because I believe they're important. The entire end goal is to make the world a healthier, more functional place - first, for myself - and second, for the people in my life that I love. I'm not doing it because "chicks dig it" or because I think it'll get me laid, or a job, or anything at all except - hopefully - a healthier, safer world.

And thanks to people like you who think it's just an act, it's still a risky thing to fight for.
posted by loquacious at 2:03 PM on July 4, 2011 [70 favorites]


Go back and hate on it in quiet moments?

Honestly, given the amount and popularity of outragefilter around here a lot of the time, I would have to say this doesn't seem all that improbable.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:06 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then let's say it is useful to pretend that favorites are no indication of popularity.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:07 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


There have been hundreds like this one erased as quickly as they're submitted.

The fact that the mods - and not just jessamyn - have said over and over that sometimes comments that would otherwise be deleted remain standing because pruning the thread of the dozens of comments responding to it and leave the thread an incomprehensibly holey mess has nothing to do with it, of course. It's because of something something rape squad something. (WTF was that about?)
posted by rtha at 2:07 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then let's say it is useful to pretend that favorites are no indication of popularity.

Useful how? That seems disingenuous to me. We shouldn't pretend that it isn't a system at least some people use keep score.
posted by bonehead at 2:10 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're experiencing firsthand how the dynamics arising out of gender inequality are hurting men as much as they're hurting women. Everyone would be more relaxed about these things if there were no reasons to be on our guard.

This is so important. It really would be helpful if fewer conversations about gender assumed a "MAN VS WOMAN" dichotomy. Instead, we should have a "US VS PREDATORS" dichotomy, or maybe a more abstract "US VS CULTURAL CONSTRAINTS AND SOCIAL TRENDS" dichotomy. If you're a man and you hate how gender is dealt with in our society, don't blame women. Blame the predators. Blame the way our society, in which we're all raised and thus, in some way, prisoners, defines the roles of men and women. Be mad at that.

This is the jokey way to put it: when it comes to feminist issues, we can all be victims. Women and men may struggle with our society's gender issues differently, but it's something we're all struggling with in some way or another. We can work together for a better tomorrow. For realz.
posted by meese at 2:11 PM on July 4, 2011 [28 favorites]


Are you seriously suggesting it's the woman's fault that he's not able to be emotionally mature enough to not hit on strange women in an enclosed, restricted space like an elevator at 4 in the morning?

No. This has been another edition of simple answers to not-so-simple questions. Believe it or not there is such a thing as an honest mistake. Do I know for sure that's what it was? Of course not. But it is absolutely a possibility.
posted by MattMangels at 2:13 PM on July 4, 2011


It seems pretty clear to me that favorites are an implied indication of popularity. It's also clear to me that favorites are not, and never can be, a clear and direct proof of popularity. As I pointed out above, the fact that something gets thirty favorites after however many thousands of people have looked at it means next to nothing statistically.

Most importantly, this is a good demonstration of why we should ignore favorites if we want to have a serious discussion. That doesn't mean favorites are evil, necessarily; but they can only get in the way if we make them the basis of actual conversations.
posted by koeselitz at 2:15 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the jokey way to put it: when it comes to feminist issues, we can all be victims.

This is a non-jokey way to put it: 90% of rape victims are female.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:15 PM on July 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


I won't discuss favorites anymore, unless somebody wishes to open a separate threas on it. Threads about women's issues are at great threat of being derailed by trivialities, and I do not care to continue to participate in this trivial derail.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:18 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


they can only get in the way if we make them the basis of actual conversations.

...or, as was the case here, they turn into a staw poll with a couple of comments early on, setting up an us vs them dynamic in the thread.
posted by bonehead at 2:19 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're experiencing firsthand how the dynamics arising out of gender inequality are hurting men as much as they're hurting women. Everyone would be more relaxed about these things if there were no reasons to be on our guard.

So much THIS.

I didn't comment in the thread because everyone has read into it what they want to see as much, if not more than, what's actually there. I've taken to calling these Rorshach threads, and they are NOT what Mefi does particularly well.

As far as I can tell this is how the scenario played out (with my commentary in parens):

1. Watson was speaking at a conf. Later, she was lamenting how women in those groups are objectified and sexualized in part because of their relative rarity. (A totally legit point, but I also think there's something where things that attract the hyper-rational will also attract those people who have retreated into hyper-rationalism due to varying levels of social inability, increasing the likelihood of ham-handed passes by clueless dorks).

2. Clueless dork didn't take the social cues and made a ham-handed pass. (Quelle surprise!)

3. Watson complains about it as an example of exactly what she's railing against. (Totally legitimately.)

4. McGraw says, basically, that she should lighten up a bit about it. (I disagree, but whatever.)

5. Watson makes a big stink calling out McGraw by name. (Here's where Watson loses my sympathy. Someone disagrees and she could've left it at that, but Watson really escalates).

6. Shitstorm ensues.

--------------

I can practically tell the life stories of some of the people commenting in the thread, and whose perspective is informed only by their own experiences and they've never really thought much about how others' comments are informed by their own, every different experiences.

To wit: the socially inept clueless dork who never got many girls always saw other guys much more successful than they, and it was frustrating and angering -- but it's not because they're richer or handomer. It's because those guys can read clues of encouragement/discouragement much more accurately, and navigate those clues straight to much more romantic success. The smart-and-cute girl who has been the frustrating recipient of innumerable ham-handed passes by guys who didn't pick up their discouragement cues, but have had fair success in relationships because the clued-in smoother guys picked up on their encouragement cues.

Being the unwanted recipient of attention is as bad and frustrating and angering as never being able to pick up the girls and never understanding quite why -- but both of these people see the other one as the Bad Person in the situation.

There's no solution here. Both sides in this argument are hurt by unspoken expectations and an inability to adequately communicate -- because the mating ritual is complicated and difficult and rewards the charismatic over the bumbling, and there's not really a way around that.
posted by chimaera at 2:25 PM on July 4, 2011 [28 favorites]


Poet_Lariat, I'm not sure how you expect that statistic to relate to my point... I specifically didn't make any sort of claim about the extent of victimhood men and women, as separate groups, face. I didn't feel it helped my point. My point was simply this: we all have a common enemy that does damage to all of us, so let's stop acting like we're each other's enemy. Specifically: men who feel threatened by conversations like this shouldn't think of women as that threat but instead identify it as the same groups/cultural forces that threaten women.
posted by meese at 2:26 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I personally come to Metafilter for "the best of the web". I can't see in any way how that thread, or any of the FPP links in it, in any way meet that standard.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 2:33 PM on July 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


They don't know anything about the creepy guy in the elevator. They don't know if his intentions are good or ill. What they do know is someone who is probably bigger and stronger than they are has them cornered in a confined space, alone, for a significant amount of time.

I have often wondered how much of the opinion divide among guys comes down to guys who consider themselves fairly imposing, physically, and guys that don't. Maybe it's just confirmation bias but I feel like guys who consider themselves physically threatening (yet are thoughtful enough to wind up in online debates about feminism) are more commonly feminist, just by virtue of having an easier time understanding how women could find men constantly threatening. It seems to take a lot longer to get that idea through to guys who have never felt that they could be threatening - it certainly did for me, anyways.

I'm a skinny, tiny-wristed, terribly out-of-shape nerdy guy and so it still always takes me an extra few seconds to even consider the possibility that a woman is finding me threatening. It's just because the idea of me being threatening is so far outside my own comprehension of my capabilities that it just seems weird and alien to me; it's like running into someone who devoutly believes that you are, in fact, bright purple in color. You almost can't help the knee-jerk, inarticulate "But I'm not like that! What hell are you smoking?"

I am much better about not discounting womens' feelings of being threatened by me these days than I was when I was younger (I often used to think that just because I was, in my own eyes, so clearly not a Big Scary Dude (tm) that if she had an issue it was 100% her problem), but I'll be honest: while your instincts are causing you to freak out because you and I happened to be walking down the same street at night, if I notice, I'm probably thinking: "Yeah, I think she's freaking out, even though she could totally own my skinny ass. I'd end up getting curb-stomped if we got in a fight. I haven't been in a fight since 4th grade, and in that one I threw one punch and he sat down then we both started bawling. Please don't decide I'm a rapist and kill me, lady."
posted by mstokes650 at 2:33 PM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sorry I meant to link to the threat itself. Orthogonality's little godwinning was pretty terrible the but thread itself is garbage.

I didn't Godwin. No reference to Hitler was made.

I did get an ad hominem personal attack in response, which I'm surprised wasn't deleted. Which implies that I'm some sort of serial killer in waiting ("one day you'll show them all") because I don't agree that maladroitly propositioning someone is somehow terribly anti-woman.

Frankly I think I (and anyone who comments here) shouldn't be subject to such vicious personal attacks, and it leaves me very disappointed.
posted by orthogonality at 2:33 PM on July 4, 2011 [27 favorites]


chimaera: "Being the unwanted recipient of attention is as bad and frustrating and angering as never being able to pick up the girls and never understanding quite why -- but both of these people see the other one as the Bad Person in the situation."

I agree with everything in your comment but I would add that in this statement here the person who has been the unwanted recipient of attention also has no way to know whether said attention could escalate into violence. That safety aspect is paramount: without it, the constant sexual attention women receive would probably just be really annoying, and perhaps would weigh closer to equal with the frustration of the guy; with it, it can be terrifying and life-threatening.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:34 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I did get an ad hominem personal attack in response, which I'm surprised wasn't deleted

Me too, and scanning through the thread I'm really not seeing why it couldn't have been removed.
posted by lalex at 2:47 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


the unwanted recipient of attention also has no way to know whether said attention could escalate into violence.

Indeed, and I wasn't intending to say that the frustrations were equivalent: there is definitely an undercurrent of presumed threat on the side of the women. It's also worthwhile to note that the socially inept with absolutely no dangerous motive or inclination is subject to being seen as an implicit threat, carrying with it, intentionally or not, implicit accusation -- which, as text I quoted that these issues and inequalities harm both sides. Women feel implicitly threatened, men feel implicitly accused. Perpetrators and the very nature of the unequal dynamic isolates women who want to feel safe from men who have no intention to cause harm. Rhetoric on both sides only furthers the division.

And THIS is why everyone on both sides get really testy about this issue very fast.
posted by chimaera at 2:54 PM on July 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


I have often wondered how much of the opinion divide among guys comes down to guys who consider themselves fairly imposing, physically, and guys that don't. Maybe it's just confirmation bias but I feel like guys who consider themselves physically threatening (yet are thoughtful enough to wind up in online debates about feminism) are more commonly feminist, just by virtue of having an easier time understanding how women could find men constantly threatening. It seems to take a lot longer to get that idea through to guys who have never felt that they could be threatening - it certainly did for me, anyways.

I think a lot of guys (singular) just don't know how creepy guys (in general) can be and are on a regular basis. It's probably not something the women in your (general your) life talk about because they're worried about getting the "Pfft, lookit you girls getting all bent out of shape" reaction.

The biggest eye-opener for me was as part of my job some years back. We did conventions and exhibitions and as part of it, we hired event models. These are the attractive women who hand you flyers on boats or video games or sea planes or routers or whatever. (And I'll leave aside thoughts on using them etc. for the sake of making my point). I wound up roped into working "security" for our girls for several years possibly because I'm big and intimidating (which may play to your thesis) and we had a lot of odd rules. Like:

She/they must always be in shouting and visual range at all times.
She/they must never go to the bathroom unaccompanied
If she/they are changing in the booth, someone must physically stand in front of the door.
We walk them from the floor all the way to their car and see them off safely
All of the outfits had to include pants, no skirts or dresses on the floor.
In advance, we work out various signals for things like "I need help" and "get this guy away from me", both visual and subtle "safewords."

At first I thought this was either the far-flung imaginings of company legal or some kind of ridiculous infantilization of the girls and our employees. But after talking to the veteran models and employees, the rules were based on incidents that actually happened. One of the girls got cornered and almost assaulted one year. Dudes showed an alarming tendency to see an attractive girl go into the bathroom unaccompanied and try to follow her in. Sometimes, the guys'd wise up to us watching and wait until the girls were walking to their cars and try to ask them out or grope them or get them up to their rooms, so we had to start walking them to the car. They weren't allowed to wear skirts because creepy guys would regularly try to shoot upskirt videos and take pictures. And so on.

And in general, a significant portion of guys take an attractive woman as an open invitation. They were hit on constantly. Some guys would just walk up to them and casually grope them. Some guys would get irate when the girls shot them down and start swearing and screaming. It was never-ending, and that's why we had signals, so I could sidle over and ask the guy to leave and drag him off to Security if he didn't. And I gotta say, I never had a quiet year. Every show, there was at least one guy that had to get dragged away, sometimes they were never-ending. And these weren't shows where you'd expect creepers or be on guard for it, just everyday conventions with everyday dudes who thought an attractive college girl was just waiting to hear from the balding, pudgy 50 year old of her dreams and maybe she'd really like it if he fondled her chest.

The rules were there for a reason, in other words, set up as a result of long experience, some from the agency side, some from the model side, some from our side.

And in talking to them, this wasn't just a work thing. It was daily for them, which is why they'd learned so many ways of parrying the guys hitting on them, but there wasn't always a big guy in a nice suit to pull the "This guy bothering you?" routine.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:55 PM on July 4, 2011 [93 favorites]


Believe it or not there is such a thing as an honest mistake. Do I know for sure that's what it was? Of course not. But it is absolutely a possibility.

It being an "honest mistake" is in no way inconsistent with "he's not able to be emotionally mature enough to not hit on strange women in an enclosed, restricted space like an elevator at 4 in the morning".
posted by asterix at 2:57 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, hey.

Just to hopefully put a cap on the parts of this involving me: It's like this.

It's not that I never get frustrated when dealing with people who express opinions with which I disagree strongly. I do. But generally speaking, I try to temper that frustration with the belief that just tearing into someone - regardless of how viscerally satisfying at that moment - accomplishes nothing constructive and in fact only makes things worse, and that (obviously) making things worse is a bad thing, and not desirable.

Even when edging into invective territory, I usually try to keep things fairly light and/or goofy. I say try, because here we are.

Ortho, what you said struck me as pretty gross. I'm not asking you to agree that it's gross, nor for anyone else to do so either, because at this point the discussion isn't about that. And under different circumstances, I'm pretty sure I'd have tried laying out an actual case for what was wrong with it. But - as a result of multiple factors completely unrelated to the discussion - instead I said a thing which was intended as, at best, an irritated joke. But upon revisiting the thread later, I find that it's much more nasty than funny. Really, it's more nasty than anything else, and had enough of an edge to it that to some folks it's not even clear it's a joke, and that is no fault but my own.

To be clear, Ortho, I do not believe you are a serial killer, in waiting or otherwise.

There are times when discussing feminism on the internet feels a bit like bashing one's head against a brick wall, and for me that frustration manifested itself in (what I believe to be) an uncharacteristically untempered way, and I am sorry for that. Today is more of a day for bike-riding and partying with friends and I expect I shall be a kinder MONSTER after.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:01 PM on July 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


Hah! I wasn't going to read the thread, but thanks for the link to orthogonality's comment. So true.
posted by planet at 3:03 PM on July 4, 2011


I have a gmail account. It's "theorthogonal".

What I don't have is a lot of time for this. I'm going to go see some real fireworks now, instead of the kind thrown by folks hiding behind their monitors.
posted by orthogonality at 3:05 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've been quietly watching that thread and this one (and I have no idea why because threads like these just make me feel tired and sad) and trying to squish my negative feelings into a positive criticism and this is the best I can come up with:

What bothers me the most about the thread is that no one (no one*) seems capable or willing to make their point (and there are a lot of good points, from lots of different perspectives) without also making hurtful comments or insinuations. I'm chalking it up to people being hurt, and responding somewhat thoughtlessly, which kind of perpetuates it. It's crazy-making to read and I wouldn't even consider posting in that atmosphere.

Anyway. I think I'm going to get away from this little glowy box for a while. Have nice days/evenings/whatever works, everyone.

* Hyperbole, slightly.
posted by byanyothername at 3:08 PM on July 4, 2011

Believe it or not there is such a thing as an honest mistake. Do I know for sure that's what it was? Of course not. But it is absolutely a possibility.
Of course there is. And I don't think anyone is saying that the guy in the elevator was deliberately being threatening or creepy. But the point is that these honest mistakes have consequences for women who are on the receiving end of them constantly, and they have consequences for the communities that would benefit from having such women feel comfortable participating. I understand how hard it is not to feel defensive and accused when you're imagining an honest mistake being taken as some terrible act of misogyny, but I don't think it's meant that way. It's more like "look, can you try to see this from my point of view and not do this, so that I will feel like I can participate in this community on an equal basis?"
posted by craichead at 3:09 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Which is to say: empathy is cool, and we could all do with a little more of it.
posted by craichead at 3:10 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's more like "look, can you try to see this from my point of view and not do this, so that I will feel like I can participate in this community on an equal basis?"
Well, no, to be blunt. How else are people supposed to get laid at conferences?
posted by planet at 3:12 PM on July 4, 2011


Thank you, ghostride the whip.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:15 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Today is more of a day for bike-riding and partying with friends and I expect I shall be a kinder MONSTER after.

Definitely. A genuinely classy apology, MONSTER, for a comment (that had nothing to do with me, but) that I will admit I was surprised to find your username at the bottom of.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:16 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

How else are people supposed to get laid at conferences?
Right. Because elevator dude got laid. And because any straight dude is going to get laid after y'all have successfully communicated to women that we can't expect even a modicum of respect from the men who will be attending your conferences and therefore might as well stay home. That's a pretty awesome getting laid strategy you've got going for you!
posted by craichead at 3:22 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


planet, I thought PZ Myers had a fantastic blog post on this: The Decent Human Beings' Guide to Getting Laid at Atheist Conferences. Works in other social settings, too.

I think there's a fair number of folks who just go to conferences to learn new shit and network, though.
posted by smirkette at 3:25 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


OKAY I'M GOING TO SAY ONE LAST THING (I'd have been out the door already but needed to let the mp3 player finish charging) AND THEN I'M OUT:

Thank you, ghostride the whip.

In addition to its already-existent merits, this sentence becomes even more fantastic if you parse it the same way you would "Thank you, drive through."
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:29 PM on July 4, 2011 [23 favorites]


because I don't agree that maladroitly propositioning someone is somehow terribly anti-woman.

Well, you've gone off to do something funner - not that I blame you, and I'll be watching actual fireworks myself in about six hours, when it's dark - but you didn't just disagree that a poorly made pass was anti-woman, and I really wish you wouldn't be so (seemingly) disingenuous about it. You posited as fact that a woman will find a guy and his advances creepy only if he's not hot. And that's utter bullshit.

What's weird to me about your comment is that you say something that's generally quite true (if a woman finds a guy attractive, his advances might not be unwelcome) and conflate that with this completely cockeyed thing (women never find advances from hot guys creepy, and advances from nerdy guys are always creepy), and that is, again, some bullshit you made up out of thin air and then applied to all women. You skip right over the part where a man a woman finds attractive might not be, objectively speaking, "hot." Plenty of nerdy, fat guys get laid - lots of women (and men!) find them attractive. In one comment, you managed to be offensive (and wrong!) about both men and women.
posted by rtha at 3:31 PM on July 4, 2011 [24 favorites]

That's a pretty awesome getting laid strategy you've got going for you!
Nothing works every time. Sure things are few and far between unless you're really attractive.
posted by planet at 3:33 PM on July 4, 2011


This is so important. It really would be helpful if fewer conversations about gender assumed a "MAN VS WOMAN" dichotomy.

This example could just as easily be seen as a dichotomy between ask culture & guess culture.

As auto-correct described eloquently, there's a lot of advice telling people (not only guys) to "just make a move already; it's the only way you'll know!" (ask) at the exact same time as a chorus of people warn that propositions should only be made if the recipient has been clearly sending out signals that the proposition will be welcomed, especially in response to feelers sent out in advance by the would-be propositioner (both aspects of a guess culture approach).

Orthogonality's contentious comment could be paraphrased into this kind of framing as a response to a supposed unwritten law: "If you're hot, just ask; if not, then you're obliged to guess"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:34 PM on July 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Talez: "Trurl, the problem with orthogonality's post in particular is you can't go into a thread like that with a complete powder keg of a viewpoint without a veritable mountain of evidence to back it up."

So you're suggesting that nobody is allowed to express their opinion unless they can produce sufficient evidence to show that their opinion is scientifically proven beyond doubt? Or does that only apply to opinions you disagree with?

I find this issue really conflicting because, on one hand, I have enormous sympathy for women who are constantly propositioned in inappropriate circumstances and I guess that gets old pretty quickly and moves on to being occasionally downright scary not long after that. On the other hand, I have seen uncountable situations in my almost 50 years where women are offended by advances from (in a purely physical sense) less attractive men but flattered by and responsive to advances from more attractive men. So I'm sympathetic to the inept, socially awkward not-so-stereotypically-attractive men (among whose number I count myself) as well and there's a conflict there that's difficult to resolve.

The subject is such a powder-keg that it's hard to see how it can be discussed rationally in any sufficiently large group that it includes enough of each side to end up with a dozen different, conflicting viewpoints, all with their own legitimacy from the perspective of the person expressing it.
posted by dg at 3:37 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


How else are people supposed to get laid at conferences?

Hire a prostitute. Bring a significant other. Make arrangements with somebody they've known for years and with whom they have a friends with benefits arrangement.

It's also possible not to treat a conference as a meat market, not aggressively seek it, and treat it as a fringe benefit if it arises out of some mutually respectful interaction.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:39 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

It's also possible not to treat a conference as a meat market, not aggressively seek it, and treat it as a fringe benefit if it arises out of some mutually respectful interaction.
I suppose anything is possible, but you're being kind of silly right now. Are people really going to forgo all that sex just to spare some women's sensibilities? Nope.

Guys hit on random women because it works. Not every time, not even most of the time, but enough of the time.
posted by planet at 3:42 PM on July 4, 2011


The interesting thing about ortho's comment is that it's begging the question, essentially saying "If she wanted you to make a pass at her, she would welcome you making the pass at her." Too bad he had to muddle it up with the bracketed aside, which has garnered probably the most attention.
posted by ODiV at 3:43 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is so important. It really would be helpful if fewer conversations about gender assumed a "MAN VS WOMAN" dichotomy.

This is an important point, also - men are much more likely to reject any advances from women they perceive as unattractive physically than from those they are attracted to, so it's not really about women being shallow and only being interested in hot guys, but about people tending to dismiss advances from other people they consider unattractive. Of course, the odds of a man not being able to swat off any physical advances are much much lower than for a woman, so the power balance is skewed because the risk of responding positively are much higher (in potential if not actuality) for a woman.
posted by dg at 3:43 PM on July 4, 2011


How else are people supposed to get laid at conferences?

Och! Thanks for reminding me I have to pay for my Worldcon membership today.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 3:44 PM on July 4, 2011


Guys hit on random women because it works. Not every time, not even most of the time, but enough of the time.

That was exactly what she was complaining about. And perhaps I am being silly, but if people at the conference are starting to feel they cannot go to these things without feeling like they're primarily seen as sex objects, then people have prioritized their penis over respect for their fellow conference attendees.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:47 PM on July 4, 2011 [27 favorites]


Are people really going to forgo all that sex just to spare some women's sensibilities? Nope.


And then, in the end, the guys looking for all that sex wind up complaining about how there are no women there and it's a sausage fest.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:49 PM on July 4, 2011 [11 favorites]

That was exactly what she was complaining about.
Yeah, I know what she was complaining about. I just can't imagine caring enough to do anything about it.
posted by planet at 3:51 PM on July 4, 2011


I just can't imagine caring enough to do anything about it.

Well, aren't you a superhero.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:53 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


perhaps while going to conference, the penis could be left at home.
posted by clavdivs at 3:54 PM on July 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


a penis cam might work, banking institutions swear by them, cameras that is.
posted by clavdivs at 3:56 PM on July 4, 2011


perhaps while going to conference, the penis could be left at home

Shit, and if you don't think I'd detach the damned thing from time to time, you're crazy. Nothing but bloody trouble, my penis.
posted by Mooski at 3:57 PM on July 4, 2011


Please see a urologist.
posted by ODiV at 3:58 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


And of course this ends with orthogonality disabling his account. I hope he's back soon.

This whole affair has probably set this poor guy's social skills and confidence around women back to the stone age. But God forbid we consider the male perspective on this, or even entertain the idea that a male perspective on these things even exists. I guess that's my white male privilege talking.

I'm embarrassed that this was said in agreement to a comment of mine. If this is what you took from what I said, then I really need to rethink the way I say things around here. (Unless that was sarcastic agreement, in which case, cool!)
posted by auto-correct at 3:59 PM on July 4, 2011


As we all know, the detachable penis has inherent problems.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:59 PM on July 4, 2011

Well, aren't you a superhero.
I wish I had a superhuman ability to disregard other people's petty concerns! Unfortunately, I get suckered into being considerate now and then.
posted by planet at 3:59 PM on July 4, 2011


perhaps while going to conference, the penis could be left at home.

I can leave it home, when I think it's gonna get me in trouble
posted by mstokes650 at 3:59 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


planet: "
Well, aren't you a superhero.
I wish I had a superhuman ability to disregard other people's petty concerns! Unfortunately, I get suckered into being considerate now and then.
"

Well don't worry. You have me fooled.
posted by Splunge at 4:01 PM on July 4, 2011


Unfortunately, I get suckered into being considerate now and then.

I am not clear as to how not caring enough about somebody's concerns translates as being considerate.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:02 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whole great big outdoors, people. Whole yawning dome of sky you can go spend some time under this afternoon or evening or for some of you maybe even the witching hour. Books to read, TV to watch, treadmills to run on, foods to eat. It would really be totally okay to go do any of those things or any number of others, and maybe a good idea if mostly you're hanging out in here because you're in the mood for an argument.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:03 PM on July 4, 2011 [21 favorites]

On the other hand, I have seen uncountable situations in my almost 50 years where women are offended by advances from (in a purely physical sense) less attractive men but flattered by and responsive to advances from more attractive men.
Ok, I just want to be clear on this. Do you really think that there are a lot of women who would respond favorably to an attractive man cornering them on an elevator and saying, basically, "I enjoyed your conference presentation on how you don't like how often you are propositioned by men in our community. Why don't you come back to my room and sleep with me?" Because I'm thinking that it probably would not have made any difference if elevator dude was the best-looking dude in the universe.

Honestly, I sort of wonder if guys who perceive themselves as not-good-looking overestimate the success that good-looking guys have with this sort of thing.
posted by craichead at 4:04 PM on July 4, 2011 [22 favorites]


I can leave it home, when I think it's gonna get me in trouble

Christ on a cracker, how is it I've known klangklangston all these years without realizing he was the keyboardist in King Missile?
posted by scody at 4:05 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I find the (now exponentially) growing amount of energy being poured into this bottomless hole of oneupsmanship and purposeful-misreading and out-and-out bullshit ("75% of American women have been raped!!!!112") sincerely depressing. What is wrong with you people? Christ on a cracker, it must be obvious to a mentally challenged two year old that no consensus or even constructive dialogue is going to come from this, and yet dozens of names I recognize and have respected in the past are actively engaged in throwing poo at each other from their cages across the uncrossable divide...

Maybe I'm just paying attention for once, but to my mind this is so far from "the best of the Web", matthowie could be sued for false advertising...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 4:05 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Got that covered Cortex:

Behold the Juicy Lucy.
posted by Splunge at 4:06 PM on July 4, 2011


(Until now, I thought I was the only person other than my Uncle Bill, now deceased, who said, "Christ on a cracker", scody... See, that is why I love MetaFilter, not this juvenile madness frothing up above...)
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 4:07 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another dramatic disabling.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:09 PM on July 4, 2011


> Behold the Juicy Lucy.

I would like more information on this, please.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:09 PM on July 4, 2011


If you don't spell it jucy lucy, you're already off on the wrong foot.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:09 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey, I made it, I name it. Then I eat it. Yum.
posted by Splunge at 4:10 PM on July 4, 2011


Well, keep in mind, the middle is basically molten lava when it comes off the grill. It's PURE MAGMA.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:12 PM on July 4, 2011


Pure delicious cheese magma. Damn, now I want another one.
posted by Splunge at 4:15 PM on July 4, 2011


Orthogonality's contentious comment could be paraphrased into this kind of framing as a response to a supposed unwritten law: "If you're hot, just ask; if not, then you're obliged to guess"

For many women, even if a guy looked hot, cornering you in an elevator and behaving as if he hadn't heard a word you said is going to make him seem pretty damn unattractive right quick.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:15 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Damn it. Now I'm derailing. Sorry.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:15 PM on July 4, 2011


Whole great big outdoors, people. Whole yawning dome of sky you can go spend some time under this afternoon or evening or for some of you maybe even the witching hour. Books to read, TV to watch, treadmills to run on, foods to eat.

Yeah, rub it in. It's a perfect, crystal-clear blue-skied day here, only it's just past 9am & all I can do is watch the trees swaying gently in the light breeze from behind the huge picture windows of my office.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:16 PM on July 4, 2011


I am getting the hell away from that thread and doing anything else I can think of, now.

rtha, emjaybee, Astro Zombie, Loquacious, thanks for saying all the stuff I am too grar-ful to say.
posted by cmyk at 4:16 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


For many women, even if a guy looked hot, cornering you in an elevator and behaving as if he hadn't heard a word you said is going to make him seem pretty damn unattractive right quick.

Hey, you know that putting things into context isn't the way we do things around here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:17 PM on July 4, 2011


cheese filled hamburger comment
posted by Splunge at 4:19 PM on July 4, 2011


Ridiculous thread-sitting by the mods today.
posted by Shit Parade at 4:22 PM on July 4, 2011


It's a lovely blue-skyed evening here. It's also 100 goddamn degrees, which I call "Arguing on the Internet" weather.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:25 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I guess we're safe from being exposed to any more of ortho's Thoughts That Should Not Be - at least for the time being.
posted by Trurl at 4:27 PM on July 4, 2011


The corpse in the library: "> Behold the Juicy Lucy.

I would like more information on this, please.
"

I would give you a detailed recipe for the delectable viand pictured but recipes are a no-no. Unless a mod okayed it for this one instance. Nah, that would never happen. Sorry, it's really wonderful too.
posted by Splunge at 4:28 PM on July 4, 2011


Ridiculous thread-sitting by the mods today.

Oh, I'm glad you showed up here.

If you think coming into a thread with a comment that was basically "fucking spoiled bitch thinks she's too good to get hit on in an elevator" is appropriate, you're deranged. And the problem isn't the mods. It's that you need to lurk more.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:28 PM on July 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


Ridiculous thread-sitting by the mods today.

Elaborate, have more to say than empty petulant noise, or shut up.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:30 PM on July 4, 2011


Yeah, rub it in. It's a perfect, crystal-clear blue-skied day here, only it's just past 9am & all I can do is watch the trees swaying gently in the light breeze from behind the huge picture windows of my office.

All right, people, listen up. This thread is now being taken over by Aussie mefites. Resistance is futile. You Americans can go watch some fireworks while we sort this issue out. Come back in the morning and we'll have a compromise solution all worked out.
posted by vidur at 4:32 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


a comment that was basically "fucking spoiled bitch thinks she's too good to get hit on in an elevator"

Even the most willfully hostile reading of the comment will not get you anywhere near "basically".
posted by Trurl at 4:33 PM on July 4, 2011


You Americans can go watch some fireworks while we sort this issue out. Come back in the morning and we'll have a compromise solution all worked out.

If the solution involves a roadtrip through the Outback I'm all for it.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:35 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Go ahead and repost the comment if you have it. As I recall, it started "Fuck her with her spoiled bitch attitude ..."
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:35 PM on July 4, 2011


Yeah that is exactly my comment, so what it generates hates and flags? It is a valid perspective, the point being it is her problem and has nothing to do with sexism. Some people just suck and will pull out whatever card they have, be it female, black, poor, etc.
posted by Shit Parade at 4:35 PM on July 4, 2011


oy.
posted by vrakatar at 4:37 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some people just suck and will pull out whatever card they have, be it female, black, poor, etc.

Under etc., I assume you're including "oppressed by the mods?"
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:39 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Some people just suck
posted by Shit Parade at 7:35 PM on July 4 [+] [!]


Quoted for truth.
posted by gerryblog at 4:39 PM on July 4, 2011


Yeah that is exactly my comment, so what it generates hates and flags? It is a valid perspective, the point being it is her problem and has nothing to do with sexism. Some people just suck and will pull out whatever card they have, be it female, black, poor, etc.
posted by Shit Parade at 9:35 AM on July 5


See, this is why we need eponysterically-neutral user names.
posted by vidur at 4:40 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shit Parade, it is not a valid perspective, it's just a load of thread-shitting bull malarky. That I personally flagged the shit out of. You'd do well to take AZ's advice.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:41 PM on July 4, 2011


So, does she suck for pulling out the card, or is it your opinion she sucked in the first place? I'm genuinely curious.
posted by Mooski at 4:41 PM on July 4, 2011


WHERE'S THE FUN IN THAT.
posted by grar at 4:41 PM on July 4, 2011


Some people just suck and will pull out whatever card they have, be it female, black, poor ...

... extended adolescence, sexual frustration, entitled male delusions ...
posted by Surfurrus at 4:41 PM on July 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


In honour of the 4th of July* I think I'll crack open some Samuel Adams (brewer, patriot) tonight.

*which was yesterday, btw, but who cares?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:41 PM on July 4, 2011


I'm glad Shit Parade's here, because it gives me the opportunity to repost someone else's comment that got deleted in the cleanup of his steaming pile on the blue:

Eponi-terrible.

(I wish I could give credit, but I don't remember whose that is.)
posted by hades at 4:42 PM on July 4, 2011


Yeah that is exactly my comment, so what it generates hates and flags?

Well, this is an online community, not a free-for-all unmoderated bulletin board. Stuff that people feel like is totally out of line is stuff that we as mods get alerted about, and one of the things we may do when that happens is remove the stuff causing the problem.

Your comment was totally awful, got flagged to death, and got deleted. If that's a sort of thing you are not okay with, you may have the wrong idea about what Metafilter is, because "so what" doesn't actually get any traction as far as really bad behavior goes. The behavior is a problem and it's on you to figure out how to reel it in, not on everyone else to put up with it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:42 PM on July 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


hades, it was mine, though the mods were right that I shouldn't have bothered.

I honestly can't believe ShitParade is still posting. It's a reverse 4th of July miracle.
posted by gerryblog at 4:43 PM on July 4, 2011


And I, for one, welcome our new Australian overlords!
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:44 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If holiday weekends bring out the worst in people, why not shut MetaFilter down during those periods?

Put up a big sign saying:

"Internet's closed this weekend kids. Go out and celebrate with people you love and who love you. And if you don't have such people in your life, put some effort into meeting them. It might make you less fucking cranky."
posted by jason's_planet at 4:44 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


How can you just claim it isn't valid?

She is being utterly unreasonable, she is making a huge deal and pulling out very impactful words to decry a behavior which happens all the time without anyone giving it a second thought. What if someone went around claiming racism all the time? The reasonable thing to do would be to call out the person as someone who is abusing their position.
posted by Shit Parade at 4:45 PM on July 4, 2011


And I, for one, welcome our new Australian overlords!

Underlords, properly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:45 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


And I'm out of here. The corpse in the library check your memail for detailed instructions.
posted by Splunge at 4:46 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


When you allow the many to shout down the few you are creating a closed system more prone to group think and less able to actually handle dissent. I thought metafilter was for opening discussion, not an echo chamber.
posted by Shit Parade at 4:46 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


If holiday weekends bring out the worst in people

I left the thread when my dander got up, although I could probably have done so a bit sooner. On this holiday, I shall promise that when I feel my dander rising, I shall excuse myself.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:46 PM on July 4, 2011


Ok, I just want to be clear on this. Do you really think that there are a lot of women who would respond favorably to an attractive man cornering them on an elevator and saying, basically, "I enjoyed your conference presentation on how you don't like how often you are propositioned by men in our community. Why don't you come back to my room and sleep with me?" Because I'm thinking that it probably would not have made any difference if elevator dude was the best-looking dude in the universe.
Assuming that he had actually been part of the audience (which seems pretty likely) and assuming that he had actually said 'why don't you come back to my room and sleep with me?' (which doesn't seem to be the case), I guess you're right.

I understand why this assumption happens (because everyone know men never speak to a woman unless they think it will lead to sex, right?), but 'I think you are interesting, would you like to have coffee with me?' shouldn't be assumed to mean anything more than that.


Honestly, I sort of wonder if guys who perceive themselves as not-good-looking overestimate the success that good-looking guys have with this sort of thing.
I guess it's possible, but it's certainly not my perception as an avid people-watcher, although I admit that perception may be skewed by being one of the unattractive, socially inept brigade.
posted by dg at 4:47 PM on July 4, 2011


If holiday weekends bring out the worst in people, why not shut MetaFilter down during those periods?

Because there are no universal global holidays?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:47 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I just want you all to know that once I complete my ninja training, I will never have to fear rape again. Pla told me so.
posted by emjaybee at 4:47 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


("universal global"?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:48 PM on July 4, 2011


I thought metafilter was for opening discussion

Honestly, and without any comedy: Reconsider how you open discussion. You have every right to your opinion, but there are ways to express it that encourage discussion and ways that don't. Saying "bitch" in a thread about a woman is always going to get you deleted.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:48 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


and how is this acceptable behavior:

Shit Parade: "I read the posts but I didn't understand them or care about the context so I'm just going to be childish and tell you to grow up because I can't think of a reasoned response. Nyah!"

Oh, and this "Using the example of being asked for coffee is not how to move forward in the proper treatment of one another. If that is the best example that woman can use to discuss sexism than she has other, more serious, problems."

According to ME, ShitParade!! Who cares that many women have a different opinion than me?! It is _I_, ShitParade, who is the OFFICIAL ARBITER of "how not to move forward in the proper treatment of one another. I don't care how many women are telling me otherwise. It is _I_, _ME_, ShitParade, who doesn't have to listen to anyone else, because _I_, ShitParade, who get to decide what problems are serious or not! ME! ShitParade! Everyone else is dumb.
posted by jfwlucy at 4:32 PM on July 4 [1 favorite +]


what, it comes from the majority view so it is fine for them to misquote me, and then proceed to insult me?
posted by Shit Parade at 4:49 PM on July 4, 2011


Hah! Can you imagine the shit storm that would ensue if the mods shut down metafilter for a holiday that's only celebrated in the US?
pulling out very impactful words to decry a behavior
I'm not feeling very well and am stuck at this frigging coffee place until the world stops whirling enough for me to get home, so I'm just going to spend the next few minutes trying to figure out what kind of "impactful words" one can call out without being an evil bitch, etc. etc. etc.
I understand why this assumption happens (because everyone know men never speak to a woman unless they think it will lead to sex, right?), but 'I think you are interesting, would you like to have coffee with me?' shouldn't be assumed to mean anything more than that.
If they're inviting you to Starbucks at four in the afternoon, I agree with you. If they're inviting you to their hotel room at four in the morning? No.
posted by craichead at 4:49 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


If holiday weekends bring out the worst in people, why not shut MetaFilter down during those periods?
So, you're suggesting the site be closed on ANZAC day?
posted by dg at 4:49 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


She is being a bitch, sorry should i use another word? she is being willfully obtuse to the point of being a fuckwad?
posted by Shit Parade at 4:49 PM on July 4, 2011


Shut up it is July 4th jerkface.
posted by vrakatar at 4:50 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, emjaybee, I thought that pla was actually advocating universal flacid penises ... with the option to reactivate when the circumstances were agreeable to consensual adults. THAT would solve the rape problem
posted by Surfurrus at 4:50 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


She is being a bitch, sorry should i use another word? she is being willfully obtuse to the point of being a fuckwad?

That's an opinion. And it's a gendered term, and a loaded one, and insults never invite conversation -- they're designed to start fights. I trust you have a larger and better vocabulary.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:51 PM on July 4, 2011


Shit Parade, it's an echo chamber (in that comments will be deleted) when the dissent a person brings to a thread sinks to the level of "stupid bitch should stfu". There are so many ways to make the same point you've been trying to make, and many examples of them lie upthread of your contributions. If many of us called you what we felt you were being right now, we would probably be flagged down as well.
posted by grar at 4:51 PM on July 4, 2011


and how is this acceptable behavior:

It's not, but I'm watching two fast moving threads on a goddam holiday weekend and instant response time is an unreasonable expectation to have. See something out of line? Flag it, that will help us find it when we can and remove it if it needs to go.

She is being a bitch, sorry should i use another word?

Yes, that would be a pretty smart move. If you can unpack it into an actual substantial statement of opinion, that'd work a whole hell of a lot better, here and elsewhere.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:52 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


She is being a [redacted], sorry should i use another word? she is being willfully obtuse to the point of being a [redacted]?

Spoiler Alert!....



ןןǝʍ puǝ ʇou ןןıʍ sıɥʇ
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:53 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


[[ [[ a comment that was basically "fucking spoiled bitch thinks she's too good to get hit on in an elevator" ]] ]]

[[ Even the most willfully hostile reading of the comment will not get you anywhere near "basically". ]]

Go ahead and repost the comment if you have it. As I recall, it started "Fuck her with her spoiled bitch attitude ..."

I thought you were referring to ortho's comment here.
posted by Trurl at 4:54 PM on July 4, 2011


Ah. No harm, no foul. No, I would have linked to Ortho's comment. I prefer not to paraphrase when I don't have to.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:56 PM on July 4, 2011


That's an opinion. And it's a gendered term, and a loaded one, and insults never invite conversation

But calling Dawkins a dick perfectly fine.
posted by the_artificer at 4:56 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


But calling Dawkins a dick perfectly fine.

Well, his first name is Richard.
posted by mstokes650 at 4:59 PM on July 4, 2011 [25 favorites]


If they're inviting you to Starbucks at four in the afternoon, I agree with you. If they're inviting you to their hotel room at four in the morning? No.
Starbucks probably wasn't open at 4 in the morning.

Conferences are funny things and lots of social conventions seem to go out the window - I have both been invited to and invited females to a hotel room to continue drinking/chatting with no thought on either side that there is any sexual connotation, behaviour that would be unthinkable in any other situation. Of course, strangers weren't involved, so the intrinsic level of trust is vastly different.

I think lots of people underestimate just how socially clueless some people are and the problem feeds itself - if you are socially inept, you never get to hone your social skills and, because you lack social skills, you never get the opportunity to develop them. There is a very real possibility that this is simply a case of someone having no clue as to the inappropriateness of the approach. Clueless does not equate to bad intent.

Again, I understand (as much as I can, not having ever had to confront this sort of thing) why women would be worried about this sort of approach because, while the risk is actually extremely low, the consequences of making a bad decision are catastrophic. It's probably wise to be risk averse.
posted by dg at 4:59 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


But calling Dawkins a dick perfectly fine.

That's actually a valid point. Douchebag it is. Or asshole, assbag, shitweasel, pompous fuck, clueless wanker. Those are gender-neutral and work just as well.

(maybe not "wanker"? I suppose women can wank too. It's complicated.)
posted by emjaybee at 5:00 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


But calling Dawkins a dick perfectly fine.

Probably not. I didn't. I'm not sure they carry the same weight -- gendered words about women come with thousands of years of patriarchy behind them. But insults are generally a pretty bad way to go, I'd say. I use them sometimes, I know. I'll try to avoid it when I can.

I would suggest that if thread was about an issue specific to men, and somebody came in and said "Bunch of fucking cocks and balls, fuck them with their testes and other male-specific generative organs!", that comment might also stand a chance of getting deleted.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:01 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, I thought this was a discussion worth having. The issue is bigger than the OP. Lots of misunderstanding and talking past each other going on here. Seeing this played out in blue-and-white has given me a lot to think about. I hope it will give others pause to stop and seek understanding.
posted by SPrintF at 5:04 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter obvious has a gender bias when it comes to women, they get more protection with regards to what is and isn't appropriate speech, while men are allowed to be accused of being rapists, dicks, etc.
posted by Shit Parade at 5:04 PM on July 4, 2011

There is a very real possibility that this is simply a case of someone having no clue as to the inappropriateness of the approach. Clueless does not equate to bad intent.
I'm assuming it was cluelessness and not bad intent. But the point is that the cluelessness is making women uncomfortable, and so it would be cool if guys would clue in a bit, especially since they claim to be baffled about why more women don't participate in their events. Most guys, I think, would kind of automatically get that this was not a good way to approach a woman. She's letting the guys with less-developed social skills in on the secret.
posted by craichead at 5:05 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter obvious has a gender bias when it comes to women, they get more protection with regards to what is and isn't appropriate speech, while men are allowed to be accused of being rapists, dicks, etc.

And pla and hincandenza are doing a fine job of making sure women are accused of being irrational and bigoted, so don't worry, there's plenty of equal representation going on.
posted by palomar at 5:06 PM on July 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Metafilter obvious has a gender bias when it comes to women, they get more protection with regards to what is and isn't appropriate speech, while men are allowed to be accused of being rapists, dicks, etc.

That is thoroughly not the case, and you are demonstrating that you're not actually interested in finding out how to be a good member, but merely to piss and moan because your first thoroughly reprehensible comment got deleted.

There are online sites where that behavior flies. If you do not care for this one, perhaps you might be satisfied elsewhere.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:07 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


And condemnation requires strong unequivocal language which can at times be inciting. Plenty of comments in the past have been direct insults with explicit language without any flagging, but when it comes to talking about women (as one topic) the discussion is always heavily modded. How many times have I seen the right-wing accused and insulted of all sorts (for all sorts) of crazy behavior?
posted by Shit Parade at 5:07 PM on July 4, 2011


Sorry astro zombie that you cannot see your own bias, and sorry i am pointing it out in the community you are an active member, and sorry you decide that for this you are going to just claim i am merely pissin' and moanin, cause you know, that is actually how you would talk with someone who is attempting to engage in conversation.
posted by Shit Parade at 5:09 PM on July 4, 2011


And condemnation requires strong unequivocal language which can at times be inciting.

Hey! You do have a vocabulary! Why not use it?
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:09 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is a very real possibility that this is simply a case of someone having no clue as to the inappropriateness of the approach. Clueless does not equate to bad intent.

Here's the problem, and it's been said many times but please, please listen: There is no way for the woman to know.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:10 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow. Quite a cross you brought with you.

I gave you some good advice. You can take it, or you can ignore it. I'm gonna go ahead and ignore you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:11 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shit Parade: “Metafilter obvious has a gender bias when it comes to women, they get more protection with regards to what is and isn't appropriate speech, while men are allowed to be accused of being rapists, dicks, etc.”

We are often more sensitive to the way these things hurt women than we are to the way they hurt men. I understand that, to a lot of people, this seems like a "double standard" and a "gender bias." However, we should have this sensitivity. Why? Because men are still privileged over women. Men still enjoy better treatment, less threatening situations, etc, than women do.

The current issue is a good example of that. Lots of us men respond by saying: "so she got hit on! So what? I would love to get hit on every once in a while! Why is it that words are such an issue? Come on now!"

What we're ignoring when we say that is the context in which this occurs. This woman isn't complaining about simply being hit on once; she's complaining about being hit on right after she'd expressed to the fellow that she'd rather not, in a context where she couldn't be sure of her safety. We're also forgetting the larger context; that many women get hit on like this every day. And it sucks. It really, really sucks. If we men start saying that it doesn't, it just means we don't realize that; we've been blinded by our own privilege, so we're totally ignorant of what women must be going through.

I understand that a lot of us guys are scared to death of being accused of being sexist, but we have to set aside that fear and attempt to be just and decent human beings.
posted by koeselitz at 5:12 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


There are online sites where that behavior flies. If you do not care for this one, perhaps you might be satisfied elsewhere.

Well said . I'm going to watch some fireworks and drink something intoxicating for a few hours. I'm finding the interaction between the mods and, what I perceive to be, a very obvious troll both interesting and educational with no sarcasm intended at all. I'm going to bookmark his account because I am very interested to see if he's going to get a time out .

Zombie - go find yourself some nice fermented brainy drink and have yourself a great night :)
posted by Poet_Lariat at 5:12 PM on July 4, 2011

palomar: And pla and hincandenza are doing a fine job of making sure women are accused of being irrational and bigoted, so don't worry, there's plenty of equal representation going on.
Not women... just the raging crazies- men and women- that show up in these threads. Most women I know don't fly into rages or accuse me of being a, or supporting, rapists.

See what I did there? I didn't take the things I didn't like about what some people did, boil it down to a class, and then lambast the entire class or declare them responsible for fixing a problem? It seems wacky, but it works, trust me on this one.
posted by hincandenza at 5:13 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do not disagree with the statement that insults like "dick" are tossed around casually, and allowed to stand where "bitch" usually is not. But, for the record, the only commenters referring to Dawkins as a dick (or an ass, for that matter) in that thread, except for one, are male.
posted by grar at 5:14 PM on July 4, 2011


Most women I know don't fly into rages or accuse me of being a, or supporting, rapists.

Did that happen in the thread, or the original link?
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:14 PM on July 4, 2011


hincandenza, can you actually link to a comment in that thread where someone accused you of being a rapist? I can understand the accusation of you supporting rapists -- you don't exactly come off as being supportive of rape survivors in these threads.
posted by palomar at 5:15 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


hincandenza: “Not women... just the raging crazies- men and women- that show up in these threads. Most women I know don't fly into rages or accuse me of being a, or supporting, rapists. See what I did there?”

Yes. In an ostensibly 'charitable' comment, you wildly exaggerated the tone of the conversation, painting the people who disagree with you as "raging crazies." Please note that no one in that thread has accused you of being or supporting rapists.
posted by koeselitz at 5:15 PM on July 4, 2011


So, what does somebody have to do to get banned around here
posted by bq at 5:17 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


She is being a bitch, sorry should i use another word?

Speaking as someone who has been defending ortho's similarly unsympathetic take: Yes, you should.

Because "bitch" is functionally equivalent to "nigger". It articulates nothing but the user's hatred of a person for belonging to a particular group. It is language whose sole purpose is subjugation. As such, it is noise - in addition to being hateful.

If hate is called for, you must articulate a reason why that does not depend on her having been born into a group you dislike.
posted by Trurl at 5:18 PM on July 4, 2011 [13 favorites]

koeselitz: However, we should have this sensitivity. Why? Because men are still privileged over women. Men still enjoy better treatment, less threatening situations, etc, than women do.
Better searchers than I will turn up that much-favorited comment, I believe from grobstein (?), about how men aren't winners, just a small number of people are winners, and plenty of men get shit on. Adding to that doesn't help.

Also, because MeTa is probably better than MeFi for this, but I think AZ is one of the worst commenters on this site when it comes to gender discussions. He's condescending, snide, and insulting; he makes a point of swinging his "enlightenment" merit badge around for all to see; he intentionally (or worse, obliviously) misquotes or misunderstands, he derails with side fights, and when the conversation doesn't go his way or bores him, he declares how he'll just leave and is done with the whole gosh darn thing, for pity's sake! If I didn't think he really believed what he said, he seems to pretty much be a troll.
posted by hincandenza at 5:18 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


So, what does somebody have to do to get banned around here

Engage in shitty behaviour, and wait for mods to get there. The second part is critical. Flags help, but there is only so much a mod can do in any given time.
posted by vidur at 5:21 PM on July 4, 2011


Sorry, I meant in the general how these threads go. In this case today, it wasn't my comments, but orthogonality got the brunt of it- and a very, very insulting comment by FAMOUS MONSTER (admittedly since apologized for in this thread) still stands, with 80+ favorites, all but implying orthogonality was some nascent serial killer. Actually, there are a few comments in the thread noting that Watson isn't getting enough attention for the bicky (bitch+dicky, I guess) move of publicly lambasting a person to their face, who had the temerity to disagree with her viewpoint online.

Eh, since it seems to be the "hip" thing to do, I guess now I get to declare how I'm "done with it" and "leaving this thread". It's not actually that sunny out, but I am getting hungry...
posted by hincandenza at 5:23 PM on July 4, 2011


The same comparison of trolling can very easily be said about your contributions to gender issue threads, hincandenza.
posted by palomar at 5:23 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Better searchers than I will turn up that much-favorited comment, I believe from grobstein (?), about how men aren't winners, just a small number of people are winners, and plenty of men get shit on. Adding to that doesn't help.

Being aware of the fact that, if you are a man, in some situations women may find your advances more than unwelcome but actually threatening makes you a winner. Calling out women for putting up boundaries or sharing their experiences which they found threatening makes you a loser. At least in my book.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:27 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


me: “However, we should have this sensitivity. Why? Because men are still privileged over women. Men still enjoy better treatment, less threatening situations, etc, than women do.”

hincandenza: “Better searchers than I will turn up that much-favorited comment, I believe from grobstein (?), about how men aren't winners, just a small number of people are winners, and plenty of men get shit on. Adding to that doesn't help.”

The point is not that we should allow people to "shit on men." I never said that.

The point is that the standards of what is disturbing to women are necessarily different from what is disturbing to men. Why? Because what women are subjected to is different.

And that's what Shit Parade's problem here boils down to, I think. He argues that men wouldn't feel put upon if they were hit on in this situation. This is true. But men would feel put upon if they were subjected to all the hitting-on that women are subjected to, all the threats, all the hemming-off of public space – and then were hit on in this situation.

The point is: sure, this in itself doesn't seem to scary to us. That's because we're men, and we have no idea what it's like to be a woman in that context. I am suggesting that it's worth thinking about.
posted by koeselitz at 5:28 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, because MeTa is probably better than MeFi for this, but I think AZ is one of the worst commenters on this site when it comes to gender discussions.

Was it because I asked you if anybody in the thread had actually accused you of supporting rapists? Because I notice you haven't answered that, or provided a link.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:28 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a very real possibility that this is simply a case of someone having no clue as to the inappropriateness of the approach. Clueless does not equate to bad intent.

Quite likely. But so what? Yes, it'd be nicer for the guy in question to learn that this is inappropriate in a gentler way, but then again it'd be nicer for Watson to not have to deliver that lesson in the first place.
posted by asterix at 5:29 PM on July 4, 2011

There is a very real possibility that this is simply a case of someone having no clue as to the inappropriateness of the approach. Clueless does not equate to bad intent.
I'm assuming it was cluelessness and not bad intent. But the point is that the cluelessness is making women uncomfortable, and so it would be cool if guys would clue in a bit, especially since they claim to be baffled about why more women don't participate in their events. Most guys, I think, would kind of automatically get that this was not a good way to approach a woman. She's letting the guys with less-developed social skills in on the secret.

Here's the problem, and it's been said many times but please, please listen: There is no way for the woman to know.

Agreed, agreed and understood. Still, there are far better ways to clue people in than public shaming. Without trivialising the very real fears that women face on a regular basis, some poor guy has been paraded as a potential rapist all over the Internet because of his lack of social skills while more socially accomplished males snigger at his ineptitude and brag to one another how they would have been able to smooth-talk their way into bed (notwithstanding the actual probability of them being able to do so).
posted by dg at 5:33 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


By the way, I left that thread because I was getting pissed off. And I was getting pissed of because you decided to characterize an act of consideration on my part as trying to score brownie points.

Perhaps you do not consider that sort of comment to be dismissive. After all, you just did it again. But, as I stated in the thread, I have been robbed and attacked in the streets -- I was hospitalized once. So I know what it's like to be afraid when it's just you and a stranger in the street at night, and try to be considerate of the fact.

Do you have some evidence that this is just for show? If not, can you recognize that your characterization of it is pretty uncharitably, and not likely to get somebody to respond with the best considered words?
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:37 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Without trivialising the very real fears that women face on a regular basis, some poor guy has been paraded as a potential rapist all over the Internet because of his lack of social skills while more socially accomplished males snigger at his ineptitudeand brag to one another how they would have been able to smooth-talk their way into bed
She didn't name the guy, right? And I don't think she called him a "potential rapist."

If "more socially accomplished males" are doing that, then they're missing the point entirely. Which I guess isn't surprising.
posted by craichead at 5:40 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


bitch has become gender neutralized as much as dick.

yeah women the world over are still oppressed and subjected to terrible treatment.

Let women bring up issues when they are subjected to horrible treatment, but let's call a spade a spade and tell people to calm down, just because a woman feels uncomfortable doesn't de facto make it a sexism issue.

And again, it is extremely one sided that men can be called dicks or politicians can be called something worse, but call a woman a bitch and i get flagged, stomped on, and silenced.

And you don't balance out the gender issue by allowing men to be insulted while protecting women, it is an incredibly naive argument.
posted by Shit Parade at 5:44 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


And you don't balance out the gender issue by allowing men to be insulted while protecting women, it is an incredibly naive argument.

Nobody's made that argument.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:46 PM on July 4, 2011


Shit Parade, who exactly is here saying that men should be insulted? I don't get it. If you're offended by people who use the word "dick" in a derogative way, that's fine. It's worth talking about. But nobody did it here, so I don't know why you're bringing it up.
posted by koeselitz at 5:46 PM on July 4, 2011


Dammit. I was going to ignore him. Time to hit the port wine. Happy Fourth, all!
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:47 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You too, Astro Zombie.
posted by annsunny at 5:49 PM on July 4, 2011


Without trivialising the very real fears that women face on a regular basis, some poor guy has been paraded as a potential rapist all over the Internet because of his lack of social skills

No, he was called out for inappropriate behavior, because Watson was talking about how to encourage women to come to these conferences. She was saying- here's an example of something men shouldn't do if they want us to feel welcome. She did not name this man, nor did she imply that he was a rapist. She was saying that the behavior is threatening, not because he's a rapist, but because there is a precedent.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:49 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


bitch has become gender neutralized as much as dick.

Whenever I've heard or read 'bitch' directed towards a man, it is meant to emasculate or deny his maleness or perceived masculinity, ie: 'You are acting like a woman'. Just because its application has transcended the gender it was originally associated with does not mean it has become gender neutralized.

Talk about naive arguments.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:53 PM on July 4, 2011 [29 favorites]


Since I left the thread, I hit 3000 favorites. YAY! I'm gonna be a dick now. I can call myself that just because.

Shit Parade is an anal sphincter. There, I said it.

Night all.
posted by Splunge at 5:54 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


She didn't name the guy, right? And I don't think she called him a "potential rapist."
No, that's true - others seem to be doing that, but I shouldn't have intimated that this was part of the original statement.

If "more socially accomplished males" are doing that, then they're missing the point entirely. Which I guess isn't surprising.
Trust me on this if nothing else - they are doing that, have always done that and will continue to do so while society lauds them as the 'alpha males' and, in doing so, validates their actions. In the meantime, those of us who quietly go about our lives according people the respect they deserve based on their actions continue to be tarred with the same brush. Which is a lot easier to live with than having to be perpetually on guard for predatory behaviour, obviously.
posted by dg at 5:56 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


We are often more sensitive to the way these things hurt women than we are to the way they hurt men. I understand that, to a lot of people, this seems like a "double standard" and a "gender bias." However, we should have this sensitivity. Why? Because men are still privileged over women. Men still enjoy better treatment, less threatening situations, etc, than women do.

and the point above that a male was called a dick and no one really cared much at all. And yeah I will continue to press that bitch is as gender neutralized as dick.
posted by Shit Parade at 5:57 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The departure of orthogonality leaves a sad hole in the ranks. But be not downhearted! There is some real quality in that thread, still. I'm glad I had the popcorn left over from the Independence Day celebrations.

The fight against inequality has been won because men no longer boast about beating their girflriends in bars? BIFF! It's selfish of women not to become masters of the martial arts, which would make them rape-proof, and instead to consider good men like me as a potential threat? BAM! Feminism should stop complaining about this stuff until all the real problems have been dealt with, and if they don't feminism is worthless? POW! My male friends can't have ever raped anyone, or they or their victims would have mentioned, so it stands to reason that men in general are not raping anyone either, and all rape statistics are made up? KABLAM! The discrimination men suffer when women are made nervous by their advances in elevators can be directly equated to discrimination against African-Americans in the United States? Wheeeeeeeeeee-BOOM! Awesome stuff.

I'm sorry, I realize this is not very helpful to sorting out the rights and wrongs, but this stuff is gold, and it would be a shame if it got lost.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:57 PM on July 4, 2011 [31 favorites]


And yeah I will continue to press that bitch is as gender neutralized as dick.

Well, you're wrong, enjoy.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:58 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you flag the comments that called Dawkins a dick? And if you disagree with people using that sort of insult, why then go and do it yourself, and in a much nastier tone?
posted by grar at 6:01 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


And yeah I will continue to press that bitch is as gender neutralized as dick.

What you believe is completely your call and you're welcome to it, on this subject and any other. How you choose to put that belief into action on this site is more of the issue, and you need to do a better job in terms of basic civility and discretion than you did today. Metafilter is just one small corner of the internet, but it's up to you whether you want to be here or not, and part of that is looking past your own personal convictions about the world and figuring out how to be a part of a larger whole.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:03 PM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


And again, it is extremely one sided that men can be called dicks or politicians can be called something worse, but call a woman a bitch and i get flagged, stomped on, and silenced.

I agree with you that commenters on MeFi-detested public figures regularly get away with rhetoric as nasty as that which you're being censured for here.

But "bitch" is a word that should be silenced in civilized conversation. If you think her behavior was hateful or vindictive, say that.
posted by Trurl at 6:14 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


... how to be a part of a larger whole...

Here we are at the big family meal and the elders are modeling behavior, gently guiding, carefully explaining ... and then ... exasperated, boxing the ears of the kids, warning, 'You could just end up at the cardboard table of life.'
posted by Surfurrus at 6:16 PM on July 4, 2011


So at this point do we have the three horsemen of the grar-pocalypse lined up? Because between pla, hincandenza, and Shit Parade; I think that this (and parent) thread seems to be the perfect situation for needlessly aggressive and insulting posts.

A shame that this came up when many people have other things they'd rather be doing. (Mods in particular)
posted by CrystalDave at 6:16 PM on July 4, 2011


And you don't balance out the gender issue by allowing men to be insulted while protecting women, it is an incredibly naive argument.

Nobody's made that argument.


koeselitz: We are often more sensitive to the way these things hurt women than we are to the way they hurt men. I understand that, to a lot of people, this seems like a "double standard" and a "gender bias." However, we should have this sensitivity. Why? Because men are still privileged over women. Men still enjoy better treatment, less threatening situations, etc, than women do.
posted by kafziel at 6:17 PM on July 4, 2011


Because it seems like people could use the reminder, I will quote the note under my preview box:

"Everyone needs a hug."
posted by Tknophobia at 6:18 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't flag the dick comments because I don't find it inappropriate and doing chills speech. What I am arguing about is the obvious double standard.

And what insulting banter cortex, I often look past my own personal convictions and know plenty of world and how to be a part of it. The belabored point is metafilter isn't actually encouraging discussion even if that is its intention.

How about the mods look past their PC-window-view and accept honest discussion isn't always civil.
posted by Shit Parade at 6:18 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


More appropriate, I think, would be for you to accept the general standards of this community and decide whether you want to be part of it, as it is, or not. You don't have to be here. If you think a moderation policy "chills speech," then you should go to some part of the internet where there isn't one.
posted by meese at 6:24 PM on July 4, 2011


But "bitch" is a word that should be silenced in civilized conversation. If you think her behavior was hateful or vindictive, say that.

This is a larger point but attempting to change speech patterns is a classic way for majorities to oppress and change behavior it deems unsuitable. Sometimes free speech is offensive speech. Forcing discussions to use latinates often drains it of passion and the true force language is capable of mustering. If you ever watch senate or the house on c-span you'll have an idea of what I am attempting to communicate.
posted by Shit Parade at 6:25 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't people just do whatever it is they'd rather be doing, then? (except mods). No one is being forced to participate in this thread.

Personally, I didn't like Watson's original video commentary. We don't know exactly what happened in the elevator, but it was really her call-out of the female student and saying that she didn't know enough about feminist thought or whatever that really got to me, like it did for other thread participants. And then on top of that, Dawkins' comments were ridiculous. I read the Selfish Gene my first year in college and loved it, and then weeks later heard him speak and since then have been interested in what he has to say from time to time, but i still think his personality sounds a bit rotten.

What's happened in the thread is typical of threads about gender issues and other highly contentious topics -- people have very strong opinions and people are talking past each other. I think this is inevitable, though. I had a conversation with a male *friend* a year or so ago, in which I complained about getting hit on constantly, and he was like, "what, would you rather they say you're ugly? It's a compliment." I saw red immediately and we argued for a while, but it's just sad that people don't understand: " no, I'd rather walk down the street with no comment on my appearance whatsoever." I've met men and women who don't get that, and how quickly those "compliments" can escalate into aggressive behavior. It doesn't bother me as much in threads, but it bothers me much more in real life, when we at least in theory should have closer bonds to each other.
posted by sweetkid at 6:25 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


SP, discourse is about growing and learning; debate is about scoring points. I don't think the latter is as valued at metafilter as it is in other communities. You really should lurk here more. You might just find it really boring ... or not.
posted by Surfurrus at 6:27 PM on July 4, 2011


More appropriate, I think, would be for you to accept the general standards of this community and decide whether you want to be part of it, as it is, or not. You don't have to be here. If you think a moderation policy "chills speech," then you should go to some part of the internet where there isn't one.

and sometimes you fight to change the culture you don't perfectly align with in hopes of making it better. I have social obligations, but i'll read through the replies later tonight.

and on preview, i lurked here 3 or 4 years before signing up.
posted by Shit Parade at 6:28 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, telling the mods what to do works so well.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:30 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


... and sounding off about how everyone should follow your ideas really "makes the culture better"
posted by Surfurrus at 6:31 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


and sometimes you fight to change the culture you don't perfectly align with in hopes of making it better.

Yes, it would certainly make the culture better around here if we could all characterize women we disagree with as bitches. Throw in the freedom of accusing us of being on the rag, and we may well achieve internet community nirvana.
posted by scody at 6:32 PM on July 4, 2011 [48 favorites]


Shit Parade: Forcing discussions to use latinates often drains it of passion and the true force language is capable of mustering. If you ever watch senate or the house on c-span you'll have an idea of what I am attempting to communicate.

I think possibly the only way to make the Senate or the House less communicative would be if you let them call each other bitches.

(Then again, half those guys probably think latinates are what we ought to build a wall to keep out amirite?)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:33 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shit Parade: "More appropriate, I think, would be for you to accept the general standards of this community and decide whether you want to be part of it, as it is, or not. You don't have to be here. If you think a moderation policy "chills speech," then you should go to some part of the internet where there isn't one.

and sometimes you fight to change the culture you don't perfectly align with in hopes of making it better. I have social obligations, but i'll read through the replies later tonight.

and on preview, i lurked here 3 or 4 years before signing up.
"

Lurk moar noob.
posted by Splunge at 6:34 PM on July 4, 2011


Sometimes free speech is offensive speech.

I think freedom of speech is a valuable and important thing, and am glad it's given the constitutional weight in the US that it is. I'm also glad that it's not an absolute, and embrace the fact that different private places have different approaches to speech. It means that people with different priorities can look for a discursive venue that serves their needs; it means that there doesn't have to be one, single, absolute answer to the question of how to balance individual vs. community desires or unfettered personal expression vs. practical group civility.

Metafilter has a relatively loose approach to speech—provocative language and rhetorical obnoxiousness are both tolerated far more here than on a lot of moderated (by humans or by filters) discussion venues. But it's not a no-hold-barred place; we draw the line somewhere a bit short of where a free speech absolutist is going to.

That's a thing to either accept or not, and it's any given current or future mefite's choice to make for themselves. If that's not free enough speech for you, very well and good luck in your future ventures, but it's not going to change for the sake of your right to call women you don't agree with spoiled bitches.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:35 PM on July 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


Jesus scody, stop trying oppress men! Let us be free!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, mr shit parade, let me put it like this.

If I or my daughters are bitches because we would be offended that a man hit on us in an elevator at four in the am under those circumstances, then I for one will wear the appelation PROUDLY.

PROUDLY, I say.

But at least I know from your conversation what type of person you are, and let me just say that type would be the kind I would avoid, and advise my daughters to avoid. Because you are showing yourself not to be a good person.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:39 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


How about the mods look past their PC-window-view and accept honest discussion isn't always civil.

If you can't disagree civilly you may as well just go home; nobody is going to be convinced by a frothing stew of grar. A minority position is not license to disregard common courtesy.
posted by Skorgu at 6:41 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't believe them Shit Parade, stay strong and fight against the vast female agenda! We're counting on you!

For entertainment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:48 PM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sometimes free speech is offensive speech. Forcing discussions to use latinates often drains it of passion and the true force language is capable of mustering.

No one is forcing you to use latinates. If you want, say she's a man-hater who wants to cut your balls off. In addition to being passionate and forceful, it makes two assertions of fact that people can agree or disagree with as they see fit.

But the only two assertions of fact that "bitch" makes are that you hate her and that she's a woman. The latter we already knew and the former is not intrinsically interesting. So that particular kind of free speech isn't contributing anything to the site.

If it's a choice, I'll take the civility.
posted by Trurl at 6:49 PM on July 4, 2011


Oh, and if it were your sister or daughter or wife in that elevator, is she still a "bitch"? Just wondering.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:51 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, with a mongrel attempt at dog-whistle gender politics, the hounds of war have been unleashed. Sometimes it really is best to let sleeping dogs lie, but whatever you do, don't try to sleep with them or you'll wake up with fleas. That's just a friendly pointer, because I don't want to see you hounded out of here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:51 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why is it that the Hey Man Free Speech Don't Censor Me You PC Thugs!-types never really seem to have any speech with some actual substance to offer beyond their trite and shallow posturing?

It used to be funny, but now it just strikes me as very sad. Maybe I am getting older.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:52 PM on July 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hey, who's fighting who now?
posted by hal_c_on at 6:54 PM on July 4, 2011


How about the mods look past their PC-window-view and accept honest discussion isn't always civil.

I accept that. However MetaFilter has general community norms for discussion here and your deleted comment was so far over that line that it wasn't a judgement call on our part. Your beef isn't with us, it's with a large section of this community. You are welcome to engage them, but you need to do so more or less on the community's terms. Up to you, it's a big internet.

I'm sorry, I realize this is not very helpful to sorting out the rights and wrongs, but this stuff is gold, and it would be a shame if it got lost.


It's very very unhelpful and it would be great if you could not cherry pick shitty comments and drag them over here. The discussion here is difficult enough as it is.

If holiday weekends bring out the worst in people, why not shut MetaFilter down during those periods?

Things had been improving and we didn't feel like it was necessary. We are reconsidering that decision.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:56 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Alia, keep your head down! It's a shit parade here.
posted by Splunge at 6:59 PM on July 4, 2011


Shit Parade: “Sometimes free speech is offensive speech.”

Whoa now. What side are you on, exactly? The "you guys are jerks for saying some men are sexist for doing x or y" side, or the "you guys are free to say whatever you want, because sometimes free speech is offensive speech" side? Please remember that this little jag started because you were upset at the words that were being applied to men.
posted by koeselitz at 7:00 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sometimes free speech and offensive speech are one and the same. As well jerks can use both. I don't see mutual exclusivity there. Of course, intelligent people can moderate their speech. Others, well, not so much. But they are covered too.
posted by Splunge at 7:05 PM on July 4, 2011


jessamyn: " Things had been improving and we didn't feel like it was necessary. We are reconsidering that decision."

I truly wish you wouldn't. Even though the thread probably makes for a shitty holiday for Team Mod. :(

Ironically enough, I had been watching this unfold on pharyngula and decided against posting it to MeFi this weekend. Ditto with an ongoing story and revelations on the Catholic pedophile scandal in Philadelphia.) Figured it was a holiday and the Watson incident specifically was just a massive shitstorm waiting to happen here. So I made a single (hopefully mostly innocuous comment) in the thread early on and bowed out. Returned this evening to find two huge, angry threads....

Shit Parade, there is value in many forms of speech, and the moderation here is actually rather light. It's also usually invoked to serve a single purpose: continued dialogue that avoid flamewars.

However, if you want people to listen, discuss and ponder your points, your aim shouldn't be to offend, or use hyperbolic / inflammatory language. Or to devolve into name calling. If you really have lurked here for a few years, you know that never, ever works. Not here. Not on Mefi. Certainly not on Ask. In a debate, making your point that way might work well. But here, people get wrapped up in how you are saying things, rather than what you are saying, and you wind up torpedoing your own arguments.

As has happened here.

You asked why you shouldn't use the word "bitch." The simplest and most correct answer is that you want people to listen to you.
posted by zarq at 7:16 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


If holiday weekends bring out the worst in people, why not shut MetaFilter down during those periods?
Things had been improving and we didn't feel like it was necessary. We are reconsidering that decision.

I hope this doesn't happen. MetaFilter is currently very much an international community that happens to be managed from within the US. Observing US holidays by closing the doors at those times would turn it into an American community that tolerates involvement from outside the borders. There may not be much distinction from the viewpoint of people who live in the US, but it would certainly change my perception of the community. Would it be possible to anoint one or more people* from other countries to be able to step up during important US holidays?

*People who are not me, of course.
posted by dg at 7:19 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


We are reconsidering that decision.

If that's what it takes for y'all to have a non working holiday, go for it. 'Cause being at the whim of any one of 50k people when you could be having fun is the very definition of suckage.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:22 PM on July 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


Even the mall closes on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think the mods deserve a break and the rest of us could survive without Metafilter for a day or two a year.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:24 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


ThePinkSuperhero: "309Even the mall closes on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think the mods deserve a break and the rest of us could survive without Metafilter for a day or two a year."

Of course, I can quit anytime I want.

*madly refreshes "Recent Activity*
posted by zarq at 7:26 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dude, I'm fine with Metafilter closing on Thanksgiving or the 4th of July, but Christmas is seriously the most boring thing ever if you don't celebrate it. It's so boring that every year I'm tempted to go to Wal-mart, because it's the only thing open. *Wal-mart*, people. It's that boring. Please keep Metafilter open on Christmas! I promise to be good, even if I'm so bored that I'm tempted to get in arguments just to have something to think about!
posted by craichead at 7:27 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Even better would be mandatory time off for users. Everyone had to take a week off from the site at some point, other major holidays are assigned as that time off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:27 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's very very unhelpful and it would be great if you could not cherry pick shitty comments and drag them over here. The discussion here is difficult enough as it is.

Apologies - I thought MetaTalk decay had set in from the (eponysterical) Shit Parade onwards, and those comments, although perhaps shitty, were also hilarious. But feel free to delete - I'll cast the first flag.

That said, I'm not sure what the aim of this discussion is. I mean, possibly to persuade Shit Parade that his First Amendment rights do not hang on not having posts deleted from MetaFilter, but beyond that? The discussion in the elevator thread and here is essentially the same discussion that happens every time sexual harassment comes up on any lightly-moderated board. I'm guessing that essentially the same arguments have been had on MetaFilter, almost word for word and by the same people, at least once in the past year.

Even if MetaFilter isn't closed for the 4th of July, it feels like closing this thread and the MeFi thread it sprang from would maybe calm things down. Would that be an exceptional or exceptionable action to take?
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:27 PM on July 4, 2011


I wouldn't blame the mods a bit if they shut the site down for breaks.

Two simultaneous exploding threads rehashing the horror - HORROR - of a woman who has the audacity to want to be treated like a human being instead of a sex dispenser makes me want to take quite a long holiday myself.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:28 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Those desperately in need of a fix on days the site is closed to new posts and comments could read through the recent archives to check out stuff they've missed :)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:28 PM on July 4, 2011


Or possibly some no-lifers (a term I use with fondness) who aren't celebrating the holiday could be Mod For A Day, just to stave off major meltdowns.
posted by grar at 7:29 PM on July 4, 2011


running order squabble fest: " Even if MetaFilter isn't closed for the 4th of July, it feels like closing this thread and the MeFi thread it sprang from would maybe calm things down. Would that be an exceptional or exceptionable action to take?"

It would probably get posted again by people itching to continue the discussion. The mods would have to play whack-a-mole.

Or people would be outraged that the thread was closed, and would then complain loudly in MeTa.
posted by zarq at 7:32 PM on July 4, 2011


Christmas, Christmas Eve, 2 days of Thanksgiving, some of Labor and Memorial Day weekends and my birthday should be the days off.

Throw in Canadian or British day, and we're all set. Meatbomb, be a lad and write this up and get the word out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:35 PM on July 4, 2011


I wonder how much traffic the entire site sees on American holidays as compared to the rest of the year. Is there an increase or decrease in traffic on say, Memorial Day or Christmas Day?
posted by zarq at 7:38 PM on July 4, 2011


Not that Christmas is solely an American holiday, of course.
posted by zarq at 7:39 PM on July 4, 2011


zarq: "I wonder how much traffic the entire site sees on American holidays as compared to the rest of the year. Is there an increase or decrease in traffic on say, Memorial Day or Christmas Day?"

I try to hold up my end on the holidays.

Of course site traffic, who the hell knows?
posted by Splunge at 7:56 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, just above you is ODiV's comment which I would honestly like to point out as a really great and excellent example of doing it right.

The linked comment agrees with you, of course you find it acceptable.
posted by spaltavian at 7:58 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Splunge: " I try to hold up my end on the holidays. "

And here I thought you were just happy to see me! :D
posted by zarq at 7:58 PM on July 4, 2011


The fuck? Seriously? There are people who think "come up for coffee" in a 4AM elevator is an appropriate thing to say? To anyone?

No. I'm a guy, and I don't want to be hit on in the wee hours on a goddamn elevator. Of course other people don't want that. Most other people.

Damn, but WTH?!!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:02 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Autism. I posit MeFi has many autistic members.

It's that or creepers.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:05 PM on July 4, 2011


I admit I don't understand why this is controversial.

1) Hitting on someone you just met in an elevator is totally skeevy. No matter who you are or who they are.
2) Using a bully pulpit to harass a blogger with whom you disagree lives up to the name bully pulpit and is an assholish thing to do.
posted by Justinian at 8:07 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


There are people who think "come up for coffee" in a 4AM elevator is an appropriate thing to say? To anyone?
Just to be clear, I don't think it's appropriate in any way. I'm just not as convinced as others are that there was nefarious intent.
posted by dg at 8:13 PM on July 4, 2011


Don't believe them Shit Parade, stay strong and fight against the vast female agenda! We're counting on you!

For entertainment.


Normally if someone makes me laugh out loud, that is an automatic favorite. In this case I just can't bring myself to favorite Shit Parade even though I'm laughing like a hyena. Seriously, is this Performance Art?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:17 PM on July 4, 2011


Things had been improving and we didn't feel like it was necessary. We are reconsidering that decision.

Sorry to hear that. But I totally understand where you're coming from.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:17 PM on July 4, 2011



If holiday weekends bring out the worst in people, why not shut MetaFilter down during those periods?

Put up a big sign saying:

"Internet's closed this weekend kids. Go out and celebrate with people you love and who love you. And if you don't have such people in your life, put some effort into meeting them. It might make you less fucking cranky."


Besides it not being a holiday everywhere when it is a holiday for me the 'holiday' usually takes up about 4 hours and the rest of the time I'm just fucking around on the Internet. And MeFi drama is more fun then family drama.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:24 PM on July 4, 2011


Imagine, for a moment, that a significant portion of the population believed, based on your looks, that if they encountered you in public, you owed them a dollar.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:27 PM on July 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


It hurts that the orthogonality comment has over 100 favorites, I'm not gonna lie or pretend that the majority are bookmarking it. People can say favorites don't matter or I'm too sensitive, I don't care, go ahead. It really bothers me that people think women only have boundaries for "ugly guys" and if a woman complains about her boundaries being crossed it must be because the guy wasn't hot enough for her. That means I can't complain about my boundaries being crossed or mention them because it is just proof of my shallowness that I even had a problem with it. That creates a hostile atmosphere for women here.

Between that and Dawkins' (amongst many others) argument that this whole thing is unimportant and a setback to feminism (SO tired of guys declaring this or that to be a setback to feminism as if they were dedicated proponents in the first place), and it looks like the desired effect is for women to shut up about this. To make us feel bad for being annoyed with someone who just heard you say "don't do that" and does it anyway, in the skeeviest possible manner. To make us feel like the water torture of harassment and other inappropriate behavior is meaningless. Women have to be mind-readers of intent, but then we're hysterical for thinking we can read minds. People offer up the "he's just clueless" excuse but then rant and rave whenever women try to offer up some clues.

So many of the comments seem like a retread of comments from other posts, like the Watcha Reading thread and it's meta. Right down to the white people afraid of black people argument. Or the well I guess guys can just never date. I must admit, have you ever had consensual sex because if you had you'd understand said to a rape victim is a new one though.
posted by Danila at 8:27 PM on July 4, 2011 [69 favorites]


Yeah, here is my 4th of July:

8:30 p.m. Pack husband's lunch.
9:00 p.m. Husband leaves for work.
9:10 p.m. Book, movie, or MetaFilter?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:29 PM on July 4, 2011


And MeFi drama is more fun then family drama.

It's no fun at all for the people who work here and who would like to kick back and enjoy the occasional holiday weekend without having to babysit a gang of basement-dwelling hate wraiths hurling digital dookie at each other.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:30 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm just not as convinced as others are that there was nefarious intent.

I don't have nefarious intent when I shit. Regardless intent, I still don't shit on the elevator.

Likewise, I don't ask strangers to my bedroom when I'm on a hotel elevator. No matter what time it is.

This is not a difficult calculus. Even I get it.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:31 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps you missed the 'I don't think it's appropriate in any way' part of my comment?
posted by dg at 8:34 PM on July 4, 2011


On the plus side, Danila that's over 100 people who have considerately identified themselves as not necessarily the best people to share an elevator with at a meetup. If only everyone was so considerate.

Speaking personally, I wouldn't feel my $5 had been wasted if MeFi and MeTa were shut down for the high holidays - AskMe makes most of the money, right? And is relatively easy to moderate? There don't seem to be many threads in MeTa taling about AskMe threads. Hell, the occasional Sunday off wouldn't kill anyone, either.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:35 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


It hurts that the orthogonality comment has over 100 favorites, I'm not gonna lie or pretend that the majority are bookmarking it. People can say favorites don't matter or I'm too sensitive, I don't care, go ahead. It really bothers me that people think women only have boundaries for "ugly guys" and if a woman complains about her boundaries being crossed it must be because the guy wasn't hot enough for her. That means I can't complain about my boundaries being crossed or mention them because it is just proof of my shallowness that I even had a problem with it. That creates a hostile atmosphere for women here.

Many guys believe that, though. I still half-believe it, even though I should know better. The thing is that I don't understand why guys consider it some huge 'gotcha!' double standard. I'm not the most attractive or charismatic guy, and I've still been hit on by people I didn't like. And I reserve to right to not like that. It doesn't make me a hypocrite for rejecting them when I might not reject somebody I did dig. And even a moments reflection should convince you that if you're confronted by somebody radiating bad crazy or dangeorus vibes (not to stigmatize mental illness) it doesn't matter how attractive they are. If River Tam confronts you an an elevator you're going to be scared.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:35 PM on July 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hell, the occasional Sunday off wouldn't kill anyone, either.

Road trip to BoingBoing! I got shotgun.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:38 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


planet: Are people really going to forgo all that sex just to spare some women's sensibilities? Nope.

Guys hit on random women because it works. Not every time, not even most of the time, but enough of the time.


I’m going to depart from my usual pattern in threads like this. I'll leave aside how depressing these threads are, and how much I want to tear my hair out, for just long enough to respond on a whim to this one comment. Then I’m going to go enjoy some dinner and a book, and resist all temptation to jump into the fray any deeper.

I’m single and female. I’ve always been sexually attracted to nerds. Stereotypical nerds, even – pocket protectors, thick spectacles, tousled hair, social awkwardness and all. I honestly and truly think nerds are super hot and sexy. If I went to a conference where a lot of nerds were present, I admit that I’d be checking some of them out (discreetly, without making a spectacle of myself), and entertaining some lustful thoughts about them here and there, while also behaving respectfully toward them and treating them as individuals.

Because in my world, lust and respect for the basic personhood, professionalism, and intelligence of one’s conference-lust-object go hand in hand. I would expect the same respect in return from anyone who might be sexually attracted to me. Sadly, though, experience has taught me that, as a woman, I won’t often get it.

Anyone who showed little regard for my legitimate and completely rational safety concerns as a woman (e.g., trivializing them with dismissive phrases such as “just to spare some women’s sensibilities”) would be immediately written off as a prospect.

In other words, men who behave as if their prerogative to hit on “random women” is more important than ensuring women’s basic safety are in fact losing real sexual opportunities with real, self-respecting women. In addition to, you know, making the world a less welcoming place for ALL women.
posted by velvet winter at 8:38 PM on July 4, 2011 [40 favorites]


River Tam.... In the elevator are there any brass fixtures or components?
posted by clavdivs at 8:40 PM on July 4, 2011



If holiday weekends bring out the worst in people, why not shut MetaFilter down during those periods?


What about Ramadan; it's coming up soon. A month of cranky, hungry, thirsty people. OR, if people were observing it in the right spirit, it would be a month of self-aware, considerate, caring people. Why don't we all celebrate Ramadan this year?
posted by Surfurrus at 8:40 PM on July 4, 2011


Metafilter: a gang of basement-dwelling hate wraiths hurling digital dookie at each other
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:41 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


well I guess guys can just never date.

I have to admit, the one humorous thing about these threads for me is that inevitably some guys pop out of the woodwork in threads about womens' fear of sexual assault to get dating tips.
posted by winna at 8:42 PM on July 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


As for holidays, I 'love' that the one 4th of July thread is about a lame anti-American song. Even I don't pull that shit on Anzac Day.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:45 PM on July 4, 2011


Perhaps you missed the 'I don't think it's appropriate in any way' part of my comment?

I'm not sure I said he had nefarious intent, although it has to take a special sort of thinking, IMO, to perceive it otherwise. People who think like that sometimes need a clue-by-four to learn themselves appropriate elevator conversation at 4AM. Others are creepers and should be publically identified so everyone can protect themselves.

Anyway, nefarious is a loaded word. And irrelevant; nefarious or not, one doesn't try to make friends with strangers in the elevator.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 PM on July 4, 2011


I hate to suggest holiday profiling, but if certain holidays correspond to clusterfucks, shut the place down for those days. Sure, maybe it's unfair to profile a holiday because of it's nationality, but it's probably effective. I'm all for the effective in this case.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:49 PM on July 4, 2011


I would love to know what that guy from the elevator is thinking.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:49 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Danila, I feel your pain. There are a handful of folks in those favorites whose comments I usually really enjoy reading. My only tiny, wee hope is that some of them kept reading and stopped to consider the other side of the equation.

I get where the angry nerd-guy hurt comes from, I really do, being a fat chick. But the context of the situation from the original post (sister had JUST HAD A FREAKING SPEECH about how she hated being automatically chatted up by random guys at conferences; 4 AM on an elevator with no way to remove herself from the situation) just makes my head spin.
posted by smirkette at 8:50 PM on July 4, 2011


As metafilter threads grow longer, the probability of Lovecraft in Brooklyn declaiming on Australian behaviour approaches 1
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:50 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


I would love to know what that guy from the elevator is thinking.

"'What's the worst that can happen?', I figured. Worst case scanrio is she turns me down and I forget about it in the morning. But at least I tried."

"Oh shit."
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:51 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


As for holidays, I 'love' that the one 4th of July thread is about a lame anti-American song. Even I don't pull that shit on Anzac Day.

Haven't found any lame anti-Australian songs yet?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:52 PM on July 4, 2011


Things had been improving and we didn't feel like it was necessary. We are reconsidering that decision.

I have been here since 2002. Please don't close the site on holidays. For some of us, that is the only time we get to really catch up on what's going on here. Especially on Christmas, as someone else has pointed out for some of us having Metafilter around during those times makes a big difference.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:54 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


sister had JUST HAD A FREAKING SPEECH about how she hated being automatically chatted up by random guys at conferences

Minor question: was it established that the guy was someone who had seen her talk?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

On the plus side, Danila that's over 100 people who have considerately identified themselves as not necessarily the best people to share an elevator with at a meetup.
Honestly, these threads are the reason that I won't ever go to a meetup. Which I think is part of the point.
posted by craichead at 8:54 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


today we have these holidays (july4)

Birthday of Queen Sonja Norway
Commemoration of Jewish Genocide Latvia
Day of Agwe Haiti
Family Day Lesotho
Fisherman's Day Marshall Islands
For Independence Day Guam
For US Independence Day Puerto Rico
Independence Day Rwanda
United States of America
King's Day Tonga
US Independence Day US Virgin Islands
posted by clavdivs at 8:54 PM on July 4, 2011


Haven't found any lame anti-Australian songs yet?

Let's start with this one.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:54 PM on July 4, 2011


As metafilter threads grow longer, the probability of Lovecraft in Brooklyn declaiming on Australian behaviour approaches 1

And once that happens, to be fair to LiB, even comments poking fun at him get a favorite from him. If, as seems to be the case for many people who are not me, people use favorites to express support/amusement, that is a good thing. The ability to take a joke on oneself is rather rare on the Internet.
posted by vidur at 8:55 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really? The best part of meetups is talking smack about people who are ridiculous on the internet, with other people who actually know who you're talking about.

(Actually the best part is the drugs and eligible singles but whatever)
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:56 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Haven't found any lame anti-Australian songs yet?

Most of the Australian songs I know are awesome. Please don't flood this thread with Kylie and Art Vs Science to prove me wrong.

Back on topic, I think the sexism threads are where MetaFilter is at its best because this sort of thing gets explained and hashed out.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:56 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The ability to take a joke on oneself is rather rare on the Internet.

It's also a hallmark of the Aussie character.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:57 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Honestly, these threads are the reason that I won't ever go to a meetup.

I've met many many MeFites [including ortho] at meetups and they are all generally good people. It's fine to not want to go for whatever reason, but people are really different offline.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:58 PM on July 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


yeah, right.
posted by clavdivs at 8:58 PM on July 4, 2011


It's fine to not want to go for whatever reason, but people are really different offline.

Seriously I've had people utterly slam me on A Certain Aussie Music Forum who were really charming IRL. The problem is I couldn't figure out which version was how they really felt, so it breeds paranoia.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:59 PM on July 4, 2011


The ability to take a joke on oneself is rather rare on the Internet.

It's also a hallmark of the Aussie character.


So, you are saying that LiB is actually ... an Aussie!? I wonder how he'll react when he finds out.
posted by vidur at 9:01 PM on July 4, 2011


I'm sure he'll tell us.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:03 PM on July 4, 2011


As much as I quite categorically disagree with Shit Parade about the degree to which certain sexist insults are equivalent, I have found some of his ideas worth thinking about in general terms, and I find the piling-on, shaming, childish insults, outright dismissal and general all-around bullying by long-timers here the more distasteful aspect of the interaction with his point of view, those behaviors being particularly ironic on a holiday like Independence Day. This feels like the worst of Metafilter in so many upsetting ways.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:04 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, here is my 4th of July

Here's my 4th of July:

1. Think about the fact that no fireworks are allowed here this year due to fires
2. Do some chores
3. Check on Metafilter, because it's my day off, and I'm sick of doing chores

Yes, I have no life. Well, I don't drink, so I don't like going out on holidays when people drink a lot. But I need some human interaction.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:04 PM on July 4, 2011


mine was

1. work
2. therapy
3. Supernatural
4. write reviews

Supernatural has muscle cars, classic rock, and raging misogyny, so it's both American and relevant to this thread.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:05 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


needs more GTO
posted by clavdivs at 9:08 PM on July 4, 2011


As for holidays, I 'love' that the one 4th of July thread is about a lame anti-American song. Even I don't pull that shit on Anzac Day.

There are really two "4th of July" threads, and this one is pure awesome.

(Actually the best part is the drugs and eligible singles but whatever)

Note to self: start going to meetups
posted by mstokes650 at 9:08 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops, that first line should be in italics, it's a quote from LiB.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:09 PM on July 4, 2011


I find the piling-on, shaming, childish insults, outright dismissal and general all-around bullying by long-timers here the more distasteful aspect of the interaction with his point of view, those behaviors being particularly ironic on a holiday like Independence Day

I'm not sure what one has to do with the other. We don't celebrate the 4th in the US as a day of freedom to be a jerk and not get called on your behavior.

I don't condone overreaction, but Shit Parade certainly knows what happens when you lob the equivalent of a Molotov cocktail into a politically charged conversation. He should anyway, as he claims to have lurked for years. If this is his attempt to have a conversation about it or even change the discourse around here, he picked just about the worst way to go about it.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:09 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I bought pillows.
posted by annsunny at 9:10 PM on July 4, 2011


It really bothers me that people think women only have boundaries for "ugly guys" and if a woman complains about her boundaries being crossed it must be because the guy wasn't hot enough for her.

As I read it, ortho's comment didn't say that women only have boundaries for unattractive men. It said that a man's attractiveness will affect where the boundary gets drawn.

Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?

If not, then the elevator dweeb's only sin was not knowing his place on the desirability scale.
posted by Trurl at 9:17 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


This feels like the worst of Metafilter in so many upsetting ways.

I feel this way about the thread. As a woman and a feminist I disagree with the bulk of what orthogonality said here, but I am genuinely shocked that FAMOUS MONSTER's vile comment (since regretted) was allowed to stand.

I know sometimes nasty bits of rhetoric are not deleted because there are many responses and cleaning up the whole thread is unfeasible, but that's not the case here. Why is that comment still there?
posted by lalex at 9:17 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, when your entry into a thread is "fuck her and her spoiled bitch attitude", I'm not shedding any tears for the inevitable resulting pile-on. Anyone wants to dismiss you out of hand after that, even if you've started using your big boy words, well, that's what you get for leading with that shit. Some things are just not recoverable, even if the mods clean up after you.
posted by hades at 9:21 PM on July 4, 2011


Why is that comment still there?

As odious as SP's views are to me personally, he is generally correct that there is a double standard about what kinds of sexist language are tolerated (and not).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:22 PM on July 4, 2011


lalex is referring to FAMOUS MONSTER's comment in the original thread, not to SP's.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 9:24 PM on July 4, 2011


Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?
If not, then the elevator dweeb's only sin was not knowing his place on the desirability scale


count me as among those that finds this idea really offensive.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:26 PM on July 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?

Someone said in the other thread, and I am the same way, that in some circumstances the more attractive a man is the more suspicious I am.

When the man with 6% body fat and razor cheekbones stopped me in the gym parking lot at 3 in the morning to tell me 'good job', it was far freakier than if he'd been a normal-looking guy. Because it is not like people who look like male models go about the earth hitting on people who look like me, so ULTERIOR MOTIVE flashy signs were going off all over the place in my head.

The only thing that would have been creepier than a Tom of Finland model popping up out of nowhere in an empty parking lot to encourage my schlubby, sweat-lathered self would have been an actual creeper.
posted by winna at 9:27 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]



I feel this way about the thread. As a woman and a feminist I disagree with the bulk of what orthogonality said here, but I am genuinely shocked that FAMOUS MONSTER's vile comment (since regretted) was allowed to stand.


Huh? Famous Monster's comment was the rebuttal that was needed to Ortho's.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:27 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know what lalex is referring to, and my observation about SP's general argument stands.

I haven't met orthgonality in real life, but based on his long history on Metafilter, I would be really surprised to learn he is a closet misogynist who seeks one day to violently rape every woman he sees.

It is shameful that the community seeks to let FM's comment stay out of some kind of revenge against orthgonality. And it definitely seems about getting revenge (or putting ortho in his place, which is kind of ironic given the subject of this whole mess), because there's no way in hell that comment would have otherwise been allowed to stay in any shape or form on Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:31 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


... one doesn't try to make friends with strangers in the elevator.
Well, I certainly don't. As far as I'm concerned, those people don't exist and I'm happy for them to treat me that same way.
posted by dg at 9:32 PM on July 4, 2011


Why is that comment still there?

I explained this above. We did not, in any way, let that comment stand because we in some way agreed with it. See also: holiday weekend.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:34 PM on July 4, 2011

As I read it, ortho's comment didn't say that women only have boundaries for unattractive men. It said that a man's attractiveness will affect where the boundary gets drawn.

Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?
This is honestly just really weird to me. I would be very freaked out if a Handsome Hollywood Actor propositioned me in an elevator, in part because I would be concerned that I might be hallucinating.
posted by craichead at 9:34 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I still don't see what's wrong with FM's comment. It said what needed to be said, though it was a bit blunter than some people might prefer.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:36 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, ortho, if you're out there reading, I'm sorry that the community sees fit to allow you being called a rapist. Most times that gets people as well as comments axed. These are unsettling times for this site, indeed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:37 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I explained this above. We did not, in any way, let that comment stand because we in some way agreed with it. See also: holiday weekend.


I saw your comment above. I guess I don't understand why it wasn't removable; I've been following that thread closely and didn't see that it had spawned some kind of difficult cleanup situation. I know it's a busy weekend and I didn't expect it to be gone immediately, I just have no idea why it's still there now.
posted by lalex at 9:38 PM on July 4, 2011


I'm not seeing the revenge in it. I found orthogonality's comment to be much more vile than FAMOUS MONSTER's, by far. I had to go back and read FAMOUS MONSTER's comment and skim both the FPP and this thread to figure out what the problem is with it.

Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?

I can't speak for any other woman, obviously. But I can confirm that if the famous handsome person of my choice propositioned me in an elevator, I would be incredibly uncomfortable and find it very very off-putting, because I find that people who proposition strangers within minutes of meeting them to be sleazy at best.

on preview, BP, what on earth are you on about with the rapist comment?
posted by palomar at 9:38 PM on July 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


I know sometimes nasty bits of rhetoric are not deleted because there are many responses and cleaning up the whole thread is unfeasible, but that's not the case here. Why is that comment still there?

Because by the time we were really aware of it was already the subject of discussion, and as much as it's an obnoxious interpersonal kissoff thing it's also not some nuclear grade thing that continued to derail that thread. It's hardly the first obnoxious chunk of an exchange to get talked about instead of deleted, and it will not likely be the last; I sympathize if your vote is on the "it should go" side of the fence, we're pretty much never in a position with contentious exchanges where everybody is going to be happy with what gets deleted or not.

Arch sarcasm and flat assertions that e.g. "YOU ARE A FUTURE RAPIST" are two different things.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:40 PM on July 4, 2011


How about the mods look past their PC-window-view and accept honest discussion isn't always civil.

What's "honest" about claiming someone is a "bitch"?

Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?
If not, then the elevator dweeb's only sin was not knowing his place on the desirability scale.


I told this story in the other thread, I'll tell it again here.

I was at a bar last night, on my own. I was glancing about at people, and noticed a guy at the bar was checking me out. For various reasons, I didn't feel any "spark" towards him -- so I did what I usually do, which is to smile a thin, tight smile, one that acknowledges "I can see you were checking me out and thank you, but I'm not interested." And I looked away.

Now, usually what happens when I do that, is a guy will take the hint and leave me in peace, and then I think nothing of it later. But this guy did not stop staring at me. Even after I pointedly turned away. Even after I shot a glare at him. Even when I got up and went to the far end of the bar where two guys were playing skeeball and asked them "there's a guy skeeving me out at the other end of the bar, can I pretend I know you?" and they put on a big show of flirting and kidding around with me for his benefit. Even despite all that, when I went to leave, the guy followed me out the bar and started following me down the street, angrily asking "why didn't you want to talk to me?" Fortunately one of the skeeball guys had been watching and came out himself, and continued to put on a show of "I know her and she's kind of with me" to scare the guy off, and offered to walk me partway down the block just in case he came back out again.

What put me off was not the guy's degree of pulchritude. What put me off was his absolutely unshaken belief that simply because I possess breasts and a vulva, I was therefore OBLIGATED to talk to him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:40 PM on July 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


If anyone is seriously claiming that the woman's sexual attraction or lack thereof to the man propositioning her had literally nothing to do with her reaction to said proposition, I am going to have to disagree with them - whether they find that disagreement offensive or not.
posted by Trurl at 9:40 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank god for Blazecock. Without him, who would be here to remind us that the very worst thing about this thread was that the "fuck that bitch" guy got called out on his behavior. Truly sad times indeed.

You're so deep in the "minority voices are being silenced" hole right now, Blaze, you're barely comprehensible.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:41 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


1) Unless you're a statistician, and have conducted a reasonably rigorous poll, you do not have the authority to declare what is a "minority" viewpoint.

2) Shitwars like this make me really glad that I play for the other team. I don't think ortho had any ill or misogynistic intent, and that there's a grain of truth to what he said. However, these things quickly go down the slippery slope, and all of the sudden, the man is expected to be the paragon of virtue in every goddamn situation, because the woman cannot possibly defend herself (which is a horribly sexist view in and of itself), and the argument feeds back into itself until the singularity is reached.

And, now, to offer my perspective, recast this situation and ortho's comment to substitute a same-sex pair in the elevator. The comment doesn't seem remotely as offensive, which suggests to me that our outrage-triggers may be miscalibrated, given that all else being equal, the comment should be equally offensive in both situations or neither. (all things are not equal, but I think that we're overstating the difference here)

Of course, the rampant misandry in this (and that) thread is also problematic, and not helping the discussion. I'm frankly disappointed that FM's comment stood, and that FM's account is still active after that comment. As much as you might want to disagree with one line in ortho's comment, that sort of callout would have been out of line on 4chan, let alone MetaFilter.

And, of course, you're welcome to disagree with what I just said. I'd love to discuss this, but there's been virtually no discussion taking place here.
posted by schmod at 9:42 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


tl;dr; Metafilter should close up shop on holidays.
posted by schmod at 9:42 PM on July 4, 2011


If anyone is seriously claiming that the woman's sexual attraction or lack thereof to the man propositioning her had literally nothing to do with her reaction to said proposition, I am going to have to disagree with them - whether they find that disagreement offensive or not.

It's rarer for guys but can you honestly claim you've never been in a situation where an attractive girl was being too pushy and too drunk and you just needed to get out of there because you knew that there was no way it was going to end well?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:43 PM on July 4, 2011


Actually, I have something to add to my comment:

What put me off was not the guy's degree of pulchritude. What put me off was his absolutely unshaken belief that simply because I possess breasts and a vulva, I was therefore OBLIGATED to talk to him, and what also put me off was the fact that he was a stranger chasing me down the street. I don't care what gender you are or what the circumstances, if a stranger is chasing you down the street that alone is going to creep you out. And I speak from experience.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:44 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Some forms of sarcasm are allowed, like jokingly calling another user a rapist, and others are not. At the end of the day, the site got some payback against ortho and now we're kinda scrambling to rationalize it as sarcasm that, let's face it, would never pass the light of day in almost all other real-world situations.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:45 PM on July 4, 2011


Nobody called anybody a rapist.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:50 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?
If not, then the elevator dweeb's only sin was not knowing his place on the desirability scale


This is such a load of bro-think hogwash. It's the kind of crap that I would expect from the pits of Reddit, and I am deeply disappointed to see it all over these two threads.

The implication in this statement is that women do not feel true unease or discomfort in a situation. What we think of as unease is in fact just thinking someone is unattractive! Oh, we may think we're being menaced or inappropriately sexualized, but in fact we do not know our own minds, silly, flighty things.
posted by jess at 9:50 PM on July 4, 2011 [39 favorites]


Let's be clear about this: FM never made any flat assertion about orthogonality, much less that he is a future rapist. Blazecock Pileon seems to have gotten it into his head that such an assertion did indeed appear in the thread. If so, I'd like to see it, because it wasn't in the much-debated comment by FM.
posted by koeselitz at 9:51 PM on July 4, 2011


And at the end of the day, we know we really want it. But only if you're hot.
posted by jess at 9:52 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some forms of sarcasm are allowed, like jokingly calling another user a rapist, and others are not.

He said that Ortho had issues with women that informed his post. Which is true, and the more that's called out the more guys are aware of it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:52 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


jokingly calling another user a rapist

Honestly it didn't even occur to me that that's what FM was even talking about. Is that what you think they meant? If so, I guess I sort of get the outrage. To my read that comment didn't, at all, say that, it was just generalized menacing oogy boogy language.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:52 PM on July 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Having skimmed the remainder of that thread and this one, I can see how the mass response to orthogonality seems like piling on. And I want to apologize for that. Honest to Morbo, I was just trying to provide my take on the situation.

The rest of my day:
-Go to neighborhood pool that I have walked past a bajillion times, but just found out about.
-Fail to use pool because it is closed. Really? Somebody pooped in it? That really happens??
-Walk a long ways to Red Hook to see if we can use the pool there.
-Get yelled at by a lady like five seconds after walking in, for going in the wrong direction.
-Decide to hang out in the park instead.
-Head home.
-Go out to eat giant burritos, and drink the silliest drink I've had in a long while.
-Go back home. Wear bathingsuits in tub, pretend it is a pool.
-Watch random neighborhood fireworks from window.
-Decide that going to north Brooklyn to drink with friends will derail my tomorrow. Eat fruit, do innernet. And now, sleep.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:53 PM on July 4, 2011


Trurl, you are conflating two separate things:

1) the conventional "attractiveness" in terms of surface physical appearance or charisma of a given person.

2) an existing vibe or chemistry or attraction that exists between two people.

What many of us are saying (and said back in the other thread) is that no matter what level of 1) somebody has, approaching a total stranger with whom you've never conversed or interacted in circumstances that set off alarm bells make the possibility of creating 2) damn near impossible.

What seems to have happened here is more of a groupie thing than a meeting of peers. Watson was apparently part of a large circle of conversation in the bar, and this guy was part of that or on the periphery, but he never initiated or got into conversation with her there. Why not?

Maybe there were too many people competing for her attention. Maybe he's shy. Maybe he was listening or talking to other people. But the whole vibe here reminds me of what happens when very accessible yet famous-enough-to-have-a-following musicians come out into the venue after a show to have a beer and make nice with the fans. They're often very friendly and accessible and regular people. That doesn't mean they want you to follow them backstage and invite them to dinner or whatever; and they're often wary of people who show those inclinations not because of paranoia but because they have to shake off perfectly well-intentioned enthusiastic devotees every day of their lives.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:53 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


You're so deep in the "minority voices are being silenced" hole right now, Blaze, you're barely comprehensible.

AZ, your comment is ironic because you're not even debating the ugliness behind FAMOUS MONSTER's egregious comment — which still remains, by the way.

That said, you are definitely amongst the worst offenders of the type of bullying that I was talking about, the kind of bullying which can only be done when the majority gives its assent. If you didn't have the community to get your back, I doubt you'd say 5% of some of the nastier things you've said (possibly including what you just said now).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:54 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's hardly the first obnoxious chunk of an exchange to get talked about instead of deleted, and it will not likely be the last; I sympathize if your vote is on the "it should go" side of the fence, we're pretty much never in a position with contentious exchanges where everybody is going to be happy with what gets deleted or not.

I think I will respectfully have to agree to disagree. I think my main problem is that allowing the comment to stand and rack up favorites just encourages this kind of nasty, lazy, content-free attack on another member.
posted by lalex at 9:55 PM on July 4, 2011


"One day," he said, "I'll show them." He carefully mists the bulbs. "One day I'll show them all," and with that he crushed the pamphlet for last year's state tulip fair in one fist.
posted by adipocere at 9:56 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


That was a really, really ugly thread. Is a really, really ugly thread? I'm somewhat shocked by how neatly all of the typical antifeminist bingo boxes got so neatly filled--though I guess it didn't help that the entire initial debate had its foundation in "chick's gotta be less sensitive" rhetoric.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:56 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


... recast this situation and ortho's comment to substitute a same-sex pair in the elevator.

Schmod, no don't. Because you are talking as a male (same-sex); I think even lesbians would have a different take* on this issue of 'sexual attraction' being a motivating force.

Perhaps men should simply not project their sexual proclivities on women. We don't operate the same way. Stranger sex is fraught with danger for women, so, unless a woman is really drunk or unbalanced, acting on sexual urges is pretty well thought out beforehand.

Dan Savage's bias on these kind of issues came up in fpp thread - although, to be fair, he himself has often said he doesn't relate to vagina questions well.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:57 PM on July 4, 2011


That said, you are definitely amongst the worst offenders of the type of bullying that I was talking about,

Oh, I know what you think, and don't care. I really think you've gone off the deep end, and, in your time, you were pethaps the site's greatest conversational bullt. So you'll excuse me if I don't defer to your judgement, especially as, as far as I can tell, you're still up to your greatest trick -- deciding for somebody else what they meant, and insisting that this will now be the discussion, never mind what they say they meant.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:59 PM on July 4, 2011


Honestly it didn't even occur to me that that's what FM was even talking about.

I don't mean to be obtuse, but the meaning of FM's comment seems fairly plain:
yes, those horrid women.

you'll show them.

one day you'll show them all.
This is very clearly implying that ortho is seeking violence against women in a thread that is about sexual politics. The implication is practically transparent. I mean, seriously, what these words mean in this context is really up for debate? Seriously?!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:00 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Those horrid women, I'll show them," he muttered to himself, shuffling the fabric squares across his master thesis, You Really Can Match Red and Purple, "One day I'll show them all."
posted by adipocere at 10:00 PM on July 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


Bully, rather. Bullt was the social media version of the Steve McQueen film.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:00 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Man it's like fireworks in here
posted by Sailormom at 10:01 PM on July 4, 2011


The implication is practically transparent. I mean, seriously, what these words mean in this context is really up for debate? Seriously?!

This is literally what I was just talking about.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:01 PM on July 4, 2011


This is very clearly implying that ortho is seeking violence against women in a thread that is about sexual politics. The implication is practically transparent. I mean, seriously, what these words mean in this context is really up for debate? Seriously?!

Its an exaggeration used to point out that he was verging on some very creepy views of women that usually pass unnoticed online and IRL.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:02 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, I know what you think, and don't care.

And once again you do not bother to address what people are discussing...

One thing I learned about bullies at an early age is that if you hit them back, hard, they suddenly don't care about you anymore.

Thank you for reinforcing that lesson, Astro Zombie. Genuinely.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:04 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously?!

Yes. It is 1 am and I've been trying to have a nice day and at the same time be responsive in this not-very-rewarding thread. And yes seriously I think it was a vaguely menacing lame thing for FM to say, not at all in line with calling ortho a rapist or serial killer-of-women. FM has apologized, ortho has moved on and will hopefully be back, and I am going to bed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:04 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, I guess my Metafilter rose-colored glasses have been finally smashed. I thought this place generally had a higher level of discourse than, say, Gizmodo or (shudder) Kotaku or Reddit. And to be fair, in general, it does. But the misogynistic ...crap... that has GRAR-ed out these threads... I guess it really *is* the Internet! :smacks forehead, lightbulb lights up: What can I say; I'm kind of new here.
posted by smirkette at 10:05 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Shouldn't you all be outside blowing off your hands or something?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:05 PM on July 4, 2011


Wait -- Blazecock, is that the post you were talking about?

I offer as a data point that I took that as a sort of implication that ortho was one of those people who has irrational and paranoid revenge fantasies but is ultimately too cowardly to act upon them. So it does seem possible for others to have interpreted his comment in a more harmless mode as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:05 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


BP, you're seeing things that aren't there. There was no violence implied.
posted by koeselitz at 10:08 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hi! I am back and have ridden my bike and partied with friends and am winding down.

it was just generalized menacing oogy boogy language.

For what it's worth: yes, this is exactly right. I honestly had nothing specific in mind; it was meant as a general ominous sort of thing. That is all.

But!

Once the words leave my brain, the amount of control I can exert over those words diminishes tremendously. If a reader believes I was calling him a rapist, as Ortho believed I was calling him a serial killer, then that is how the words hit them and I do not fault a person for interpreting a thing the way they interpret it, and I believe that what I actually intended to convey is largely immaterial to a person's reaction - they have every right to take it however they take it. So if that is what you thought I meant, then I am sorry. Was not my intent.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:12 PM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


... and it's really tedious to me, your continued refusal to accept how far out of line ortho's comment was. It really hurt people, I think. And that's not a light thing. I am not happy that ortho took from this the mistaken impression that someone called him a rapist; but he needs to get past that and think about what that comment meant to some of us. It really bothered me, and I'm not even a woman.
posted by koeselitz at 10:12 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


(that last was for BP, btw)
posted by koeselitz at 10:12 PM on July 4, 2011


OK, is this just me? After Trurl's comment, I started thinking about how I'd react if some gorgeous celebrity put the move on me in this situation (back in my misspent youth). And it honestly would have NOTHING to do with the hubba factor of the propositioner and everything to do with my own state.

If I had just been up for nearly 24 hours, at a conference, busy, working, using my brain, interacting with lots of people, wearing the same clothes the whole time, I would be exhausted, dazed, headachy, crabby, sore-footed, and nearly my entire body would be sort of simultaneously dry and sticky and salty and smell like old sweaty gym socks (fortunately, this would be mainly masked by clothes and lingering deodorant, I hope, as well as the fact that everybody else was also sort of smelly by then).

Yeah, those would be just perfect circumstances in which to bang the brains out of Some Famous Heartthrob. Are you totally insane? I'd be horrified at the mere thought of being naked anywhere near the person.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:14 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Moving on, I do understant the frustration in that thread. People don't like to suddenly feel like they might be culpable. When they were told "hitting on me in the elevator is an example of what I'm talking about," well, suddenly a lot of people were likely to think, you know, maybe I've done something like that. And, damn it, I'm not dangerous, and I don't mean any harm by it, and what if I actually did just want coffee and conversation?

It's a tough thing to hear, that behavior that to you seems totally innoxuous can be read as threatening or just an endless bother to somebody else. We've all probably had that experience, and we've all probably reacted defensively.

But this was held up as one example of a broader problem, an example that was really only notable due to its immediacy after the issue was raised. It's certainly not the most eggregious example. It's a small nip from a duck in the midge of a death from a thousand duck bites.

But people are making the elevator the be all and end all. It's not a big enough issue! Who cares? How am I gonna get laid? I'm not a rapist just because I say hi in the hallway!

It's not about the elevator. It's about creating a culture in which women aren't pecked by ducks anytime they go near a man, and feel they are on equal terms, rathed than feeling they are some mobile sex object.

Perhaps the woman in the elevator might have raised this point better, or expressed it better, or picked a better example. Butbthe issue she raised is worth considering, and, instead, there has been a defensive rush to dismiss her. Which is a great way to lose women in your community.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:14 PM on July 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


There was no violence implied.

One more time:
yes, those horrid women.

you'll show them.

one day you'll show them all.
If it isn't that orthogonality seeks violent revenge against women, then the real, non-violent implication still remains mysterious.

Otherwise, the implication is clear, as much as the double standard that allows it to remain.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:15 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Trurl:Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?

Yes. If I understood her video correctly, yes. And If I understand you correctly, you totally missed the point. Maybe you should actually watch the youtube video in question. The tell me that the looks of the person involved would matter.

And by the way, the straw-hollywood-hottie thing is a load of shit. Why do you bring up a point that has nothing to do, at all, with the issue?

She wasn't mentioning Brad Pitt trying to chat her up in a fucking elevator. She was talking about a guy who followed her to the elevator from a hotel bar. You do get this don't you?
posted by Splunge at 10:17 PM on July 4, 2011


your continued refusal to accept how far out of line ortho's comment was. It really hurt people, I think.

I neither accepted nor refused orthogonality's original comment.

I think it's fair to disagree with him about his comment and indicate how hurtful it was.

My point is that calling him the equivalent of a rapist or serial killer (even if that wasn't the intent) seems well out of line for Metafilter, and probably wouldn't otherwise pass Metatalk standards — except that the majority is okay with him being put in his place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:20 PM on July 4, 2011


After re-reading Ortho's comment, I have to say I regret favoriting it; the whole "your boundaries depend on how attractive the guy is" argument kind of stupid. Honestly the only reason I clicked the "+" was that someone was pushing back against the dominant view in that thread and suggesting that maybe Rebecca's response to the situation was just a little out of proportion.
posted by MattMangels at 10:20 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


If it isn't that orthogonality seeks violent revenge against women, then the real, non-violent implication still remains mysterious.
Another one who saw no accusations of violence in that comment, although it's easy to see how someone would. If they chose to.
posted by dg at 10:21 PM on July 4, 2011


I promise you that there can be no universally clear implication, as there was none written into it. I am the MONSTER who wrote it and I know what I meant. The real implication remains mysterious because there is no real implication, and that is how it was intended.

Anything read into it is a product of the reader's mind when confronted with something deliberately constructed as vague but menacing, which I rush to point out is not any less valid for being so. If you believe I honestly intended to call another user of this site a rapist then I apologize once more.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:21 PM on July 4, 2011


Oh great, long thread is long.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:22 PM on July 4, 2011


Ah - and when I say it "is not any less valid for being so," I mean the reaction in the mind of the reader is no less valid for being in the mind of the reader.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:23 PM on July 4, 2011


If you believe I honestly intended to call another user of this site a rapist then I apologize once more.

Perhaps I am not the one you should be apologizing to.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 PM on July 4, 2011


It's not about the elevator. It's about creating a culture in which women aren't pecked by ducks anytime they go near a man, and feel they are on equal terms, rathed than feeling they are some mobile sex object.

Seriously. I went for a walk today in the town we just moved to--on the road where I live, which is fairly busy, without sidewalks in places, but it was a pretty day and a holiday and I wanted to check it out. I wore a sundress, because it's hot out. No less than six drivers honked at me on a fifteen minute walk--as I was trying to navigate the narrow road and not get hit by a car, etc. I even got one offer for a ride--I'd like to think that the guy was just being polite, but you know, you just don't know--about anyone. It's not about thinking people are rapists. It's about having to constantly navigate questions of other people's desires even when that's the last thing you want to think about, and how that forces you to consider shitty ancillary issues attached to that (Should I not wear a dress?! Am I asking for this attention?!). I know my husband doesn't encounter these sorts of things when he goes for a walk. I wish I could, too. Sometimes you'd like to just go about your business and be concerned with the road that's in front of you rather than being forced to consider someone's opinion of your appearance and all the baggage that entails.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:25 PM on July 4, 2011 [29 favorites]


This is the video in case anyone hasn't seen it. Start at 4:30 for her actual words and the way she says it.
posted by Splunge at 10:26 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


BP, the apology was already offered and accepted.
posted by annsunny at 10:28 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Blazecock, MONSTER apologized to Ortho. Here.
posted by smirkette at 10:28 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


If it isn't that orthogonality seeks violent revenge against women, then the real, non-violent implication still remains mysterious.

The implication I read out of it was a pretty explicitly non-violent "you're being ridiculous, man". As an obnoxious person-to-person thing in the thread, it was crappy and unnecessary, but, yes, there's a big difference between FM's comment and some kind of unambiguous assertion that ortho was a rapist or violent offender waiting to happen or whatever.

To the extent that me and Jess have now taken turns camping in that thread for basically the entire rest of the day, we were able to promptly remove some other crappy inter-user stuff from the thread before it became A Thing. What that DOUBLE STANDARD! narrative has to say about that, who knows, I'm frankly too tired of wrangling all this shit on my holiday to want to spend much more energy appealing to uncharitable readings of the work we do.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:29 PM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


And by the way, the straw-hollywood-hottie thing is a load of shit. Why do you bring up a point that has nothing to do, at all, with the issue?

True, but I think the perspective underlying this weird hypothetical is that we are all at all times latently ready to fuck if the right turn-on is provided. And maybe something like that is true for some people. I have friends who (not entirely kiddingly) say stuff like, "If I were bleeding to death in the street and had an opportunity to have sex, I would do so." Some people do through daily life on, I don't know, stand-by or something.

And we certainly have a culture that encourages us to think about sex everywhere all the time.

But for plenty of us, there are times and situations when we flat out don't feel sexual or have no interest in that sort of activity. At all. Regardless of who's asking.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:29 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


BP, since you have appointed yourself the moral arbitrator, could you put in a request for apologies from all the guys who have piled on abuse of the women here?
posted by Surfurrus at 10:30 PM on July 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


BP, you aren't the one FM has apologized repeatedly to. Geez.

Also, yeah, I get that you are not talking about the substance of ortho's comment. That's what bothers me.

Finally, it's really annoying that you keep darkly implying either that the mods have some weird vendetta against ortho that they carry out by alloying him to be slandered, or that the community at large has something essential to do with deletion decisions. You haven't been very clear in these dark hints, but I wish you'd get it over with and name names, if that's what you'd like todo.
posted by koeselitz at 10:32 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: When it's all said and done .... it still isn't.

but thank the gods it isn't reddit
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:36 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


since you have appointed yourself the moral arbitrator

This would be no different from everyone else in this thread, of course, except that I do probably share almost all your opinions about this subject, even if I and a few others acknowledge at the same time the double standard that exists to allow really awful comments against people who dare to disagree.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:38 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes you'd like to just go about your business and be concerned with the road that's in front of you rather than being forced to consider someone's opinion of your appearance and all the baggage that entails.

@PhoBWanKenobi, completely. The other day I was walking up the road here in Brooklyn and a woman ahead of me was wearing a bright yellow dress. Two guys were following her in a car shouting, "Love your yellow dress!" "Yellow dress! Nice yellow dress!" She didn't respond or turn around. The driver sped up, and pulled up next to her screaming all kinds of obscenities at her, at which point she ducked into the train station and the car sped off.

Happens all. the. time.
posted by sweetkid at 10:39 PM on July 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


That's right, BP. If you phrase it extremely vaguely, and do not directly imply that you're doing so, and furthermore don't intend to, and then apologize about it and have your apology accepted by the person, you, can, in fact, hint vaguely at the merest sliver of a chance that maybe some might be... a rapist.

The horror that this is allowed on Metafilter! The horror!
posted by koeselitz at 10:42 PM on July 4, 2011


This was linked in the other thread, and then I linked it again further down. The whole thing bears reading. I'll excerpt the most (to me) relevant bit:
Conley’s Major Conclusions:

I’ll just quote at some length here:

First, male sexual proposers (who approached women) are uniformly seen as less desirable than female sexual proposers (who approached men). Therefore, gender differences in the original Clark and Hatfield study are due more to the gender of the proposer than to the gender of the study participants. Moreover, the idea that these gender differences reflect broad, evolved differences in women’s and men’s mating strategies was not supported. Across studies involving both actual and hypothetical sexual encounters, the only consistently significant predictor of acceptance of the sexual proposal, both for women and for men, was the perception that the proposer is sexually capable (i.e., would be “good in bed”). The perceptions of sexual capabilities also mediated the relationship between gender and acceptance of casual sex offers. Finally, indirect evidence suggests that perceptions of risk may play a role in gender differences in casual sex attitudes.
(emphasis in the original)
posted by rtha at 10:42 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a tough thing to hear, that behavior that to you seems totally innoxuous can be read as threatening or just an endless bother to somebody else. We've all probably had that experience, and we've all probably reacted defensively.
The defensiveness is kind of bizarre, when you think about it. Of course being hit on (or even spoken to, sometimes) by someone undesirable is obnoxious. If it's truly unbearable to imagine that one might be the obnoxious person in such a scenario, well, don't talk to people?

That doesn't make the woman's complaint in the FPP any less funny, of course. It was all just a delightful clusterfuck of people reacting absurdly to absurd complaints.
posted by planet at 10:45 PM on July 4, 2011


The mods have stated in the past they'd like the site to be international. With the apparent need for live moderation, I'd respectfully suggest considering hiring someone (perhaps even only on a holiday basis) that lives in an appropriate time zone, and for whom the work would not seem such an onerous task.

Shutting down the site seems like the worst possible solution to the problem.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:48 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?
If not, then the elevator dweeb's only sin was not knowing his place on the desirability scale


ok, here's why I find it offensive - you're making assumptions about women here - you don't know that this is the case, but you believe it to be, and now you're telling all of us here that that's the way things are. It's certainly not true for me, and there have been a bunch of other women responding in this thread for whom it is also not true. It's really insulting to be told by a total stranger how I and all other women would behave in a hypothetical situation. Especially when you're implying that our behaviour is comtrolled by something as shallow as physical attractivenes.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:07 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


This "Handsome Hollywood Actor" thing is ridiculous. I don't care who the guy is, how handsome he is, or how many Oscars he's got at home. If he follows me into an elevator at 4 a.m. and hits on me, I will be skeeved out. I'm pretty sure most of the women I know would feel the same way.
posted by OolooKitty at 11:17 PM on July 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


One of the many crazy-making things involved in the "What if it was her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice?" fallacy is the inference that only men get to have standards and that there's no behavior that could make someone less attractive.

Really?
posted by Space Kitty at 11:19 PM on July 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Good to see...this thread has quietened down just in time for Samuel Adams o'clock.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:43 PM on July 4, 2011


Metafilter: just generalized menacing oogy boogy language
posted by vidur at 12:09 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


True, but I think the perspective underlying this weird hypothetical is that we are all at all times latently ready to fuck if the right turn-on is provided.

And another load of pure bullshit is laid.
posted by Splunge at 12:15 AM on July 5, 2011


Man there a few people here that can paint a fucking turd gold and call it jewelry. Do you even hear yourselves? I am so pissed off I...

Fuck it. I'd like to open a PayPal account so that people can buy a fucking clue.

But I don't have the cash and even a six figure amount wouldn't help you assholes.
posted by Splunge at 12:20 AM on July 5, 2011


The Handsome Hollywood Actor exception to the skeezy elevator pickup absolutely would fly for me and most other gay men I know. The 4am post-conference overtures of Colin Farrell would be a source of sheer unalloyed pleasure.

The idea is bunk, but to a male psyche -- with no understanding of female subjectivity, or experience of women's orientation to patriarchal power -- it makes perfect sense.
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:30 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I haven't met orthgonality in real life, but based on his long history on Metafilter, I would be really surprised to learn he is a closet misogynist who seeks one day to violently rape every woman he sees.

One thing that comes up often is the need to separate the words from the person. So, in calling someone out for sexist language should be done on that basis. Unfortunately, sometimes people forget this, but I think ortho can understand why people might have reacted the way they did. Or not. To me, his words were misogynistic. It matters little whether I think he is or not, as a person, and I have no way to derive his intent in any case and am not interested in hearing what a nice guy he is, really, no really. His words are what is at issue.

The best way to react on his part at that point is not to act like a victim of Metafilter "groupthink" or some such nonsense, but to ask what behavior or words were problematic, and how to change one's behavior in the future so as not to ignite a powderkeg. The less productive response is to act like a victim. If you said or did something which upset someone, you can dismiss it out of hand like you're entitled to behave in whatever manner you like no matter what anyone thinks, or you can act like an adult. Even FM has owned up to her words, even though I can sympathize more with her response to ortho's comment than with some men's egos being wounded because they can't figure out what is appropriate behavior and what might be perceived as threatening. When a woman is talking about threatening behavior, unless she's talking about you specifically, it's not about you!
posted by krinklyfig at 12:35 AM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]

cortex: To the extent that me and Jess have now taken turns camping in that thread for basically the entire rest of the day, we were able to promptly remove some other crappy inter-user stuff from the thread before it became A Thing. What that DOUBLE STANDARD! narrative has to say about that, who knows, I'm frankly too tired of wrangling all this shit on my holiday to want to spend much more energy appealing to uncharitable readings of the work we do
So, one thing that puzzles me about mods and the mod duties are... why bother, some times? The world won't stop spinning on its axis if you look at a thread like that, throw up your hands, and just say "Fuck it. Anyone still reading and posting in that thread knows it's a goddamn mess, so what can we reasonably be expected to do? Caveat Mefite..." I get the "broken windows" theory probably applies to community sites like this one to an extent, but unlike actual broken windows, a shitstorm thread will scroll off the front page in a couple of days and be forgotten (except by the same people who'll show up in the next one of its type to link-quote from the previous thread).

Really, why is it important to try to moderate a thread like that? Just let it burn out and flame away after a day or two, it's just 1's and 0's that only the people as culpable for the thread's messiness seem to even care about anyway. In the scheme of the impact on the site's servers, I don't imagine it matters too much anyway. Users flagging comments in threads like that- which I assume is the only meaningful impact on you, since it'd clutter your dashboard from other more meaningful issues- is usually just an attempt to appeal to authority, since if you can sway the mods to delete a comment you disagree with- you win!

I mean, as you and jessamyn damn well know, I have my very biased personal opinions about comment deletion (I'd argue that anything short of a legally meaningful threat or an outing of personal information ought to stand as undeleted), and it seems to me that when thread turns out like that one did, maybe you ought to just have a special flag you can put on the whole thread. This flag would disable flagging, and maybe turn the background some kind of different color, and has a banner at the top and the bottom (by the comment field) that says basically "Look, we gave up on moderating this thread, it's a shitstorm, so wade in at your own peril". People may still grar, but why lose your own time on it? Eventually most people just say fuck it anyway, and go outside.
posted by hincandenza at 12:50 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


we gave up on moderating this thread, it's a shitstorm, so wade in at your own peril

Needs a new colour for a subsite. Mefi brown?
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:56 AM on July 5, 2011


Really, why is it important to try to moderate a thread like that? Just let it burn out and flame away after a day or two, it's just 1's and 0's that only the people as culpable for the thread's messiness seem to even care about anyway

Because the community standards dictate otherwise. Unmoderated sites exist, and I'm sure you know about them. For many reasons people prefer that Metafilter adheres to a standard that is higher than "anything goes."
posted by krinklyfig at 12:59 AM on July 5, 2011


Autism. I posit MeFi has many autistic members.

It's that or creepers.


Thanks for equating autism with being creepy. It really contrasts nicely with the political correctness you exhibited in your previous comment, really showing the duality that defines the human condition. Well played, sir.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:13 AM on July 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


Unmoderated sites exist, and I'm sure you know about them.

Yes, krinklyfig is right -- and there are also sites that don't have pesky feminists. I'm sure you know about them.

What? You want to discuss things with women, too? Oh. And those other sites don't have many women? Hmmmm ... how interesting ... wasn't that the issue that Watson was addressing when she related the elevator incident?
posted by Surfurrus at 1:17 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


After a whole day of following this, I find out there's drama in my own backyard. Bob Ellis posts a bizarre attack on feminism and Ben Pobje satirizes him.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:23 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, rather than start another argument in the thread, let me ask this here: Is any request for a woman's attention/interaction from a stranger treated as a sexual advance even when said request is prefaced by disclaiming any sexual intent? Is it the "let's have a conversation in my hotel room" part, or what?

I understand that and why a woman might be wary of any such interaction on the basis that just because someone claims no sexual interest does not actually mean there is none, but it's still something I'm curious about.

Oh, and everybody gets a hug (if they so desire), because metafilter reminded me that everyone needs one.
posted by wierdo at 1:50 AM on July 5, 2011


is there some way of keeping track of just how many favorites are being generated by this thread and its associated meta-thread?
posted by mhjb at 1:54 AM on July 5, 2011


I can practically tell the life stories of some of the people commenting in the thread, and whose perspective is informed only by their own experiences and they've never really thought much about how others' comments are informed by their own, every different experiences.

To wit: the socially inept clueless dork who never got many girls always saw other guys much more successful than they, and it was frustrating and angering -- but it's not because they're richer or handomer. It's because those guys can read clues of encouragement/discouragement much more accurately, and navigate those clues straight to much more romantic success. The smart-and-cute girl who has been the frustrating recipient of innumerable ham-handed passes by guys who didn't pick up their discouragement cues, but have had fair success in relationships because the clued-in smoother guys picked up on their encouragement cues.

Being the unwanted recipient of attention is as bad and frustrating and angering as never being able to pick up the girls and never understanding quite why -- but both of these people see the other one as the Bad Person in the situation.

There's no solution here. Both sides in this argument are hurt by unspoken expectations and an inability to adequately communicate -- because the mating ritual is complicated and difficult and rewards the charismatic over the bumbling, and there's not really a way around that.


This is the best comment in this thread and about this subject I have read and I have for some reason read this whole entire thread so I quoted it here entirely for you to read it again. The fact is that social situations require social skills, and hitting on someone both successfully and non-creepily including reading clues like body language and, oh, whether the person has just given a speech about sexual harassment. It has nothing much to do with being attractive, except of course attractive people more often get the signal "Go for it tiger" but they can still screw it up by missing cues and doing things weirdly or at the wrong time.

I have hit on women before and been creepy by accident. I feel bad about it, it was clear that I was reading things wrong, and I am now pretty good at not doing that. I have been in situations where I was made to feel horrible about innocuous courting requests like asking for a phone number. It was frustrating, and probably made me say the word bitch to myself in my brain to make myself feel better until I got over and stopped being hurt.

These are the perils of being social animals, and you try to avoid them. I have learned a lot from failure and success, first learning not to be bitter about rejection, and second to learn how to recognize subtle signs of disinterest or pure friendly interest only so as to not even go there if I can sense it's not the right time or place or person.

In the end, I think there is one thing we can all agree on: whether you're male or female, feminist or conservative, free-speech martyr or PC bully... an atheist convention is the world's single worst place to try and get laid, for 1000 different reasons. It's so extremely bad it might actually be an argument for the existence of God.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:27 AM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

the only consistently significant predictor of acceptance of the sexual proposal, both for women and for men, was the perception that the proposer is sexually capable
Well, the question then is what % of the population do women find sexually desirable, vs the % of women men find sexually desirable? If the percentages are different, doesn't that imply some kind difference (caused by genetics or perhaps something else)
Fuck it. I'd like to open a PayPal account so that people can buy a fucking clue.
Use bitcoin!
posted by delmoi at 2:28 AM on July 5, 2011


Is it the "let's have a conversation in my hotel room" part, or what?

Yes, it's that, because that's very widely understood as a sexual come-on - see vorfeed's comment in the original thread. If he was only interested in fully-clothed conversation, I will eat three hats and a copy of The God Delusion.

But also, notice it's only that guy she singles out, not every man who spoke to her. What she says in the video is this:
The response [to her panel] at the conference itself was wonderful. There were a ton of great feminists there - male and female - and also, just open-minded people who had maybe never considered the way that women are treated in this community, but were interested in learning more. So, thank you to everyone who was at that conference who engaged in those discussions outside of that panel. You were all fantastic, I loved talking to you guys. All of you except for the one man who didn't really grasp, I think, what I was saying on the panel…
Conferences are full of interactions between strangers, and most of those aren't intended or taken as sexual advances.
posted by Catseye at 2:37 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a woman and a feminist I disagree with the bulk of what orthogonality said here, but I am genuinely shocked that FAMOUS MONSTER's vile comment (since regretted) was allowed to stand.

This is precisely the problem with deleting comments. It used to be, back before these kids trampled all over our beautiful blue lawn, that the "nuclear" option was reserved for egregious violations of policy. For the most part, that meant when someone posted personal information about another user. And that's it. FM is calling Ortho a sociopath. That's one user insulting another user because of their opinion. So where's the cavalry? Might want to zip up, jessamyn, your bias is showing.

While we're at it, can we get a "made me sad" reason to the comment flag? Maybe with a little frowny-face next to it?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:48 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This whole thing is just really a shame.
posted by Nabubrush at 3:17 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel super bad at this point about making a post in this thread that the mods thought was unhelpful, having seen how every such post must look to them like an unmarked package that might contain a 200-post argument about their double standards and bias. On a public holiday. I'm relieved my package (angle brackets slash Tobias Funke close angle brackets) wasn't resonant or interesting enough to get any responses, because oy.

Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?

Trurl, I think people have responded to that on the "good looking men making random advances is just as potentially unwelcome" side, but I think there's another side to this. In the video, she says pretty clearly that she would like all guys not to do that - including, presumably, good-looking guys. (And we're assuming that this guy was not good-looking, which seems a little unfair to him.) Basically, this is suggesting that she's not telling the truth, and/or that you understand how her sexuality works better than she does. Without wishing to spark another giant fight, claiming to understand what a women wants better than she does, sexually speaking, is generally considered a danger sign.

So I have her direct, spoken words to the effect that no propositioning at 4am in an elevator by a man she had not spoken to all night would have been welcome on the one side - that no guy should do that; and I have your words to the effect that when she says this she is wrong - that there exist people from whom such a proposition would be welcome. On the balance, I'd say that there's no reason not at least to assume that she is sincere in her belief that she didn't want to be invited to anyone's hotel room for coffee.

(Plus, of course, the idea that all women default to exception-making desire for Handsome Hollywood Actors is kind of iffy, but we can replace that with Atheist Prom King or Emeritus Professor of Astronomy at UCLA and the structure stands.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:43 AM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


why is it important to try to moderate a thread like that?

Because if you don't moderate shitstorms, this becomes the kind of place where shitstorms are an acceptable part of the community. When that happens, people leave. Good people. People whose opinions, while I might not share, happen to be opinions worth hearing. Without those people, the site isn't as good as it could be.

I imagine the mods have a pretty damn good idea how many people see stuff like this and just throw up their hands and push the button. Between this thread, the boyzone thread of some time back, and all the others, and hell, through the random users being consistantly shitty to each other, I'd imagine there's at least a couple dozen users I know I looked forward to hearing from on a regular basis that just aren't here anymore.

Why moderate? Maybe so we can keep some pillars of the community from throwing in the towel next time someone takes umbrage to being told not to call people bitches.

If the mods are seriously even entertaining the idea of actually closing up shop for holidays, don't you think that maybe things are being pushed too far? Is it utterly unreasonable to attempt civility and restraint?
posted by Ghidorah at 4:22 AM on July 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Ha, Ghidorah you've summed up a lot of how I feel about the site- I am not a major player on the site by any stretch but I don't think I've deliberately shit on people here either. One thing that I have noticed is that I rarely feel that I want to comment here anymore. Far too often, what was once nuanced discourse, has been replaced by shrill hysteria on all sides of a debate. At times, it resembles a school yard argument only with bigger words.

The long clusterfuck threads depress the life out of me and make me want to go elsewhere on the internet. If it tires me out, fuck knows how it makes Jessamyn, Cortex etc feel. It's not normal work for them either. It tends to be nasty, pernicious and brings out the worst in everyone.

I've also got to question why Flex chose to post the FPP in the first place. It seems almost like it was designed to be the ultimate Mefi IED. I can't help but think there was mischievous intent. I saw it on the front page when there was zero comments and there and then predicted that it would generate 500+ comments and descend into shit-slinging with a MeTa attached.

I went to post a Milly Dowler FPP yesterday (later posted by Bonaldi) but decided that it was too important a story to be posted around the same time as that thread was getting going. I wonder how many other people are similarly put off when stuff like that goes on.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 5:13 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I read through the Meta Talk thread.

When women share stories of getting cat calls for wearing a summer dress on a hot day, these are the stories I find arresting and all the more so when I know it a daily event, as something which colors every consideration from jogging outfits to how they have to consider every friendly gesture with an eye on an implicit intention.

Recently, a friend was relating a conversation with her boyfriend, saying how she didn't have any male friends who hadn't, at one time or another, made an advance on her. Then her boyfriend mentioned me, and she said yeah, Steven never has, he is my only male friend who hasn't tried to get me in the sack. This isn't intented to be self-congratulating, it's depressing and sad. And it would be a lie if I said I never thought of it, never considered it, but then again, I (be it my own make up or my genitals) have imagined sex with just about anything and everyone. In some ways, it the reason humans are around, we men are biologically built to procreate and to do so at a moments notice, sex is ingrained in us, on us.

Or another time, when after meeting a woman she told me, you know, every man I've ever meet wants to have sex with me. All too often girls, usually when they are young, learn that nearly every man near their age (and some far from it) want, invariably to have sex with them. It is a sad thing to learn and a lesson most men needn't learn and unfortunately never do learn because they are usually not subject to constant sexual advances.

All of this is to say, there certainly is a problem, I've experienced it first hand as an observer, as a confidant, and I'd be a lier if I didn't say as a prepertraitor (nothing criminal mind you, but as a boy and a man I havn't always acted nor suspect I will always act with grace and perfection). I am reminded of Rousseau's little fable of man's state of nature, and how he twists it and recasts the fall as woman tricking man to believe in love and that is what ushers in civilization. A cynical and lazy reading would be to demonize females for their wiles, but a more beautiful reading is to acknowledge that love, in it's full sense, is what is responsible for our past and current advancements from beasts to humans. Love has a power to take two opposites, two others and make them both better and make in turn the world better, it is an awesome force, some could say the awesome force.

Of course, responsibility is to be taken, needs to be taken, by both sides, by both others and when women lash out with cyncism and scorn, when they take an event so innoculous as to be laughable it does little to further bridge the wide cultural gulf which still exists even in Western Democracies. Men are trying, this thread, that conference, some could even point to our middle east follies, as men (and women) trying to further gender/sex equality. But it is asinine not to accept criticism, not to reflect and consider perhaps a woman overreacted, perhaps she felt uncomfortable but “the fault” isn't necessarily to be laid at the foot of a man.

My comment, my comments, surely were hurtful, inciteful, but discussion, honest discussion needs passion and it isn't always pretty and when all participants try to act ”like adults” with careful overly precise language the real kernel of belief can be easily lost, glossed over, unheard. Forceful language recalls forceful behavior, and it is the behavior we want to correct, the language can follow, but we need one to call to mind the other or we won't be speaking of the things we truly wish to discuss.

Sorry if this is still confused, it is 6am and I am finishing graveyard shift. Thanks meta, I joined the community to think and hear opinions and tonight has, in that respect, been fruitful.
posted by Shit Parade at 6:05 AM on July 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


re: holiday moderating: for whom the work would not seem such an onerous task

I can't imagine anybody for whom moderating giant shitstorms like this would be anything but an onerous task. Bad enough for people who have a lot of experience and an established relationship with the users, but worse for a novice mod who doesn't. Look at all the crap poor restless_nomad has had to put up with for being the new weekend mod while the user base takes her measure. Multiply that by being the holiday mod who's only on deck a few times a year and gets all the shitty threads where people are dealing with holiday stress and maybe drinking too much or whatever. That's a recipe for one of these 500+ comment MeTas every holiday for the usual modly suspects to come back to and clean up. I don't blame them for saying no thanks. At least if they take some time off and close the site, nothing will blow up while they're gone.

On the general subject at hand, just adding my voice to the chorus of "threads like this are depressing" and "MeFi is better at boyzone stuff than a lot of the internet but that doesn't make it great all the time". I was feeling optimistic and positive about the site on boyzone issues after the Schroedinger's Rapist discussions a while back, but over time, that optimism has been worn down a lot. This thread is a capstone to that; I'm back to not wanting to talk about sexism-related issues because defending myself from Good Guys (tm) is more tiring than dealing with people who are saying things that I find blatantly sexist.
posted by immlass at 6:11 AM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


After a whole day of following this, I find out there's drama in my own backyard.Bob Ellis posts a bizarre attack on feminism and Ben Pobje satirizes him

Thanks for posting those, LIB. Ellis' piece is a head-scratcher and Probjie's response is hilarious.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:31 AM on July 5, 2011


It really bothers me that people think women only have boundaries for "ugly guys" and if a woman complains about her boundaries being crossed it must be because the guy wasn't hot enough for her. That means I can't complain about my boundaries being crossed or mention them because it is just proof of my shallowness that I even had a problem with it. That creates a hostile atmosphere for women here.

I think the real issue isn't that women do or don't have boundaries. It's that it's simply not the case that these boundaries are always consistent. It can be really frustrating for men who think that they're "doing all the right things" to see men who, for whatever reasons, seem to be able to get away with much different behavior. None of which excuses someone from engaging in behavior that makes someone uncomfortable, but does raise some complications since what is "uncomfortable" depends on so much more than what I guess you'd call the "surface behavior" of the situation.

And the funny thing is, it's rare that a man actually is criticized for turning down the advances of a woman simply because he finds her unattractive. Technically, that is being "shallow" but in a very real sense, we are talking about mating here -- even if that is not what is actually happening, that is the context of all of this and why a huge portion of humans have this drive to become physical with one another -- and so in that context it absolutely makes sense that physical attraction would play a large role on whether or not a particular interaction is going to progress sexually or not.

You absolutely can complain if someone you're not attracted to fails to take the hint and makes you uncomfortable. And again, so much of this comes from the unending pressures and fears that women face and men don't. If a man is not attracted to a woman, he can generally turn her down without fear of what the response might be. It is this last part that is genuinely the problem, and not anything before that. If ours was a world where things like harassment and assualt were unheard of, I think that situations like the one that launched this FPP would simply not happen. They would become events that annoy rather than events that threaten.

And so it's important for men to make conscious decisions that respect the uncomfortable dynamic that currently exists: don't try initiate in situations that would be awkward, uncomfortable, or frightening to a woman (e.g., an elevator) -- instead, approach her in public social settings where this is generally expected (bars, clubs, etc). Accept rejection with grace and alacrity. And be willing to accept that women can be "shallow". There are women you wouldn't date; for some reason you just happen to be on her list of men she wouldn't date.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:40 AM on July 5, 2011


Of course being hit on (or even spoken to, sometimes) by someone undesirable is obnoxious.

Oh my fucking GOD. Some people in here truly do not possess reading comprehension.

The obnoxiousness of a pickup has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with someone's "desirability". It has EVERYTHING to do with respect, and the lack thereof. "Undesirable" has nothing to do with how a guy looks -- "undesirable" actually means "someone who ignores it when a woman acts like she wants to be left the fuck alone".

Sometimes both men AND women just want to be left the fuck alone. And both men AND women get very cranky when they want to be left the fuck alone but other people keep bothering them. Why the fuck is that so hard to understand?

And Shit Parade:

My comment, my comments, surely were hurtful, inciteful, but discussion, honest discussion needs passion and it isn't always pretty and when all participants try to act ”like adults” with careful overly precise language the real kernel of belief can be easily lost, glossed over, unheard. Forceful language recalls forceful behavior, and it is the behavior we want to correct, the language can follow, but we need one to call to mind the other or we won't be speaking of the things we truly wish to discuss.

That's true, of course. However, there's a difference between "honest, passionate discussion" and "saying jackassy things." And there is a difference between asking for careful overly precise language and asking you not to use one specific word.

I promise you there are ways you can inject passion into your argument without having to resort to saying "she's a bitch." In fact, the comment I'm responding to demonstrates you know how to do just that, quite eloquently. Whereas "she's a bitch" sounds like you don't even want to have a discussion, you just want to write her off as a bitch so you don't have to think about her anymore. Claiming that saying "she's a bitch" is in some way "impassioned argument" is a really lazy way to see things, and you've proven that you are capable of better. I invite you to aspire to better.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:45 AM on July 5, 2011 [21 favorites]


Perhaps men should simply not project their sexual proclivities on women. We don't operate the same way. Stranger sex is fraught with danger for women, so, unless a woman is really drunk or unbalanced, acting on sexual urges is pretty well thought out beforehand.

Point well made, but part of my issue with this discussion seems to be that people are saying:

1) Men should be innately in tune with female sexuality.

2) Men cannot possibly understand female sexuality.

How do you draw the line and compromise? Last night, the more I thought about this, I started getting the impression that the guy on the elevator was a socially inexperienced doofus (and, let's be honest....we've all been there at some point or another).

The attractiveness scale, I think, does come into play here. Let's be generous here, and say that the guy on the elevator is an average-looking introvert. This is generally not a great combo for dating or meeting people, and he's probably suffered from a lot of rejection, and doesn't understand why. Unfortunately, this means that he has no clue what works and what doesn't, and as he becomes more desperate, he tries to put on a faux-aggressive persona, which admittedly seems to have decent odds for more attractive guys (who also happen to be good enough at reading body language to tell which women will react well to that sort of behavior, which this guy clearly isn't; also, TV doesn't help)

And the worst part about this? The guy probably has no %*#$ing idea that he's coming across as a creep.
posted by schmod at 7:09 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This has been an incredibly depressing thread to follow, because of how inane many of the comments have been. There's a level of "not getting it" on such a basic issue of interpersonal relations that is really sad, honestly.

Trust me, it's not rocket science. You don't trap a woman in an enclosed space and make a ham-handed pickup attempt. You just don't do that. It's rude, it can be threatening, and guess what: it won't work. That's just plain stupidity, period.

To find that 500-ish comments into this, people are still missing the point totally about why this was an inappropriate thing to say at that moment and in that context, makes me kind of sick. This is seriously not rocket science. In the middle of that FPP, someone described how to approach that kind of social interaction in terms useful for someone on the autistic spectrum; it's a really basic iterative process that can be learned even if it doesn't come naturally to a person, and is essential if you want to have successful social relationships.

I've tended to mostly enjoy some of the previous long discussions here about sexism and the like, but this one is really leaving me cold. My hat is off to the people engaging again, and again, and again, in careful and descriptive language, with this.
posted by Forktine at 7:14 AM on July 5, 2011 [16 favorites]


Point well made, but part of my issue with this discussion seems to be that people are saying:

1) Men should be innately in tune with female sexuality.
2) Men cannot possibly understand female sexuality.

How do you draw the line and compromise?


Well, people have also often given the advice on AskMe that "when a man tells you what he's like, take him at his word." Perhaps the same could be said of women -- that when she's just spent several minutes telling all present that a) she is annoyed when guys see her as nothing more than a sex object, and b) that she is tired and wants to go up to her room and go to sleep, take her at her word.

Being tired means that the answer to "do you want to come have coffee with me right now" is most likely going to be "no". So why ask?

The attractiveness scale, I think, does come into play here.

Again, we have an example of "when a woman says something, take her at her word." Because there's been about 86 gabillion women who've come in here and said "attractiveness has nothing to do with whether a guy is creepy or not." I've told my own story TWICE now. And yet you are still persisting in the belief that attractiveness comes into play here.

If a man tells you who he is, trust him. Similarly, if a woman tells you what she wants, trust her.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:15 AM on July 5, 2011 [16 favorites]


jessamyn, in response to: "If holiday weekends bring out the worst in people, why not shut MetaFilter down during those periods?" said:

Things had been improving and we didn't feel like it was necessary. We are reconsidering that decision."

There is now another MeTa thread on this topic.
posted by zarq at 7:18 AM on July 5, 2011


Really, why is it important to try to moderate a thread like that? Just let it burn out and flame away after a day or two...

Controlled burns are tricky things, if we want to run with the fire analogy. Writing a fire off as a lost cause and letting it consume itself and go away on its own can make some kind of sense when you know that the fire won't spread, but when you don't know that, when you can't be sure it's contained, it's a risky, irresponsible stuff.

To some extent, threads get unfixable sometimes, absolutely. In the sense that nothing short of deleting it will guarantee that crappy behavior will stop; to the extent that bad feelings once manifest aren't likely to evaporate on short notice, that people grumpy at each other will continue to be grumpy at each other. Walking away from those hand in the air gets to be tempting sometimes, not least because at the point it's almost certainly not a thread I'm personally interested in reading.

But there's still baseline expectations of what is and isn't okay, sorts of escalation or personal infighting or rhetorical nukes that we've as mods and as a community pretty much said Not Okay to, that need to not be left to accumulate unfettered. And in a thread where people are already grumpy, the chance of someone stepping their game up to that kind of Not Okay material is arguably a good bit higher than elsewhere.

So we keep an eye on them and try to keep the thing contained, not because it's a great thread or because we feel like it's an awesome use of our time and energy but because it's part of keeping the whole site from burning down, part of letting folks know that even when shit gets bumpy we're still around and still trying to help keep this place be the community folks want it to be. It's part of the job. We do a lot of triage, sometimes.

Users flagging comments in threads like that- which I assume is the only meaningful impact on you, since it'd clutter your dashboard from other more meaningful issues- is usually just an attempt to appeal to authority, since if you can sway the mods to delete a comment you disagree with- you win!

I don't think this is so, actually; it's a fairly ungenerous read on what is among the more helpful feedback mechanisms we have. Especially on busy days where lots of stuff is going down, flagging can be enormously helpful to us, and things might actually go a bit smoother during heated moments if people would more often opt to flag the thing that's upsetting them instead of making a too-sharp reply. In the worst case, someone flags something that's fine but that they just don't like, we blink at it, and we take no action.

This is precisely the problem with deleting comments. It used to be, back before these kids trampled all over our beautiful blue lawn, that the "nuclear" option was reserved for egregious violations of policy. For the most part, that meant when someone posted personal information about another user. And that's it. FM is calling Ortho a sociopath. That's one user insulting another user because of their opinion. So where's the cavalry? Might want to zip up, jessamyn, your bias is showing.

Uh? Comments have been deleted since forever. I don't know what you're harking back to, there, but Matt's had a delete button since day one and if anything used to gut things more heavy-handedly than happened now, between the fact that early-days deletions (and in the case of metatalk threads, right up to like 2007) were completely gone from the database and the fact that Matt back in the day didn't have the spare resources to discuss deletions in as much length as they are now.

To the extent that the site has grown up a little bit about how it deals with personal infighting—that there's a more explicit expectation now that people not freak out on each other and make a thread about their personal grudges or some tete-a-tete with whoever has pissed them off—yes, things are different from 2002. Fewer raging screamo metatalk flameouts, fewer extended bouts of unchecked assholery. One of the things that has not particularly changed is that some people want more stuff deleted than is, and other people want us to delete less stuff, and neither camp is probably ever going to be happy because this particular pendulum doesn't have much swing in it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:20 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"If holiday weekends bring out the worst in people, why not shut MetaFilter down during those periods?"

Just FYI, Matt has chimed in to say that won't be happening.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:27 AM on July 5, 2011


Point well made, but part of my issue with this discussion seems to be that people are saying:

1) Men should be innately in tune with female sexuality.
2) Men cannot possibly understand female sexuality.


Men need to be in tune with a female's words before tuning into her sexuality. In fact, 'tuning into a woman's sexuality' is not even useful to reaching your goal unless already involved in an intimate conversation. The upshot is once you really are having an intimate conversation, you will likely have no problem getting some insight into the woman's sexuality.

BTW, women probably cannot possibly understand male sexuality. Frankly, I still find it mind boggling that a man can say he likes to reach before he thinks (sexually speaking) ... that certainly is not a compliment to the woman he has 'chosen'.
posted by Surfurrus at 7:44 AM on July 5, 2011


Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?

I would be more afraid of this guy. Because in my experience, a guy who knows he's hot will not only hit on you and act like you owe him something, he'll also aggressively confront you because you're not grateful for his attention.

Short version: don't hit on women in enclosed places where they cannot immediately and instantly leave, no matter how hot you are.
posted by headspace at 7:55 AM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Civil_Disobedient :FM is calling Ortho a sociopath.

FWIW, I did not read the comment that way myself. FM did not call Ortho a rapist (as has been misstated so often here before) now did FM call him a sociopath. My take on FMs rebuttal was that she was calling him extremely socially inept, by way of metaphor, to believe that a woman's fear of being accosted by a strange man in a strange place while alone is somehow moderated by whether or not the strange man is good looking. I know literally nothing about Ortho or the 120 almost exclusively male Mefites who favorited that comment but I do find that a belief in such a scenario to be far less than socially competent at best.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 7:58 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: " Just FYI, Matt has chimed in to say that won't be happening."

Good.
posted by zarq at 7:59 AM on July 5, 2011


Thanks for equating autism with being creepy. It really contrasts nicely with the political correctness you exhibited in your previous comment, really showing the duality that defines the human condition. Well played, sir.

Dude, when one is autistic it can be very difficult to navigate the social world. One might make the mistake, say, of attempting to invite conversation with an interesting stranger by asking if they'd like to have coffee, despite it being 4AM, in an elevator, and the venue you suggest is your hotel bedroom.

Perfectly normal autistic error in interpreting and judging a unique social situation.

It is also the behavior of creepers.

An autistic person, once informed of the social norm and cognizant of the setting, will be chagrined and not repeat the behavior.

Creepers persist in their behavior.

You seem to confuse a description of behavior with being that behavior. It's only when one persists in that behavior that it's fair to say one is being that behavior.

Everyone gets to make a mistake. Creepers persist in it.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:16 AM on July 5, 2011


Oh my goodness! Ladies and gentlemen, come quickly, you have to see this! If you'll direct your eyes upward, you'll find a live, in the wild example of man 'explain. Note the hair splitting and complete obliviousness to original comment, along with the desire to define the situation how they see it and ending with quick, yet taunt remark on how the other person is wrong. Oh, so exciting! Tom, PLEASE tell me that we caught that on video and audio, this is one for the archives!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 AM on July 5, 2011


What's up with all the single line assertions in that creeper screed?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:27 AM on July 5, 2011


It's a lot nicer if you think of the creepers as like this.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:27 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


It really bothers me that people think women only have boundaries for "ugly guys"

Despite it's terrible phrasing, ortho's comment didn't say this. I don't know if it's a willfuly blind misconstruction, or an inability to see around the poor word choice.
posted by spaltavian at 8:28 AM on July 5, 2011


They call you Hitler and then kick you around like homogenized milk.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:28 AM on July 5, 2011


<understatement>I get the feeling that a lot of MeFites don't get out much.</understatement>
posted by MattMangels at 8:32 AM on July 5, 2011


Because there's been about 86 gabillion women who've come in here and said "attractiveness has nothing to do with whether a guy is creepy or not." I've told my own story TWICE now. And yet you are still persisting in the belief that attractiveness comes into play here.

1) If this was as simple of an issue as some here would believe, this thread would not have 500 comments. It is not a simple issue.

2) Confirmation bias. Lots of projection going on here. I never said that 100% of women react to male advances in the same way (which many people here seem to be doing; on both sides). However, my view is that the guy acted very much in line with the current "pop culture" norms for dating, which may or may not be very fucked up. He continues to act this way, because nobody has ever called him out on it in person.

Fuck it. I seriously want to disable my account after reading through this thread.
posted by schmod at 8:32 AM on July 5, 2011


Tom, PLEASE tell me that we caught that on video and audio, this is one for the archives!

Eye-rolling sarcasm is not helping this thread suck less.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:36 AM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


immlass: " On the general subject at hand, just adding my voice to the chorus of "threads like this are depressing" and "MeFi is better at boyzone stuff than a lot of the internet but that doesn't make it great all the time". I was feeling optimistic and positive about the site on boyzone issues after the Schroedinger's Rapist discussions a while back, but over time, that optimism has been worn down a lot. This thread is a capstone to that; I'm back to not wanting to talk about sexism-related issues because defending myself from Good Guys (tm) is more tiring than dealing with people who are saying things that I find blatantly sexist."

I feel the same way. Often. But I still think it's worth trying.

It is human nature to react defensively when one feels they're being attacked.

The Schroedinger's Rapist thread is a good one. But quite a few initial comments from MeFites in that thread were highly defensive. It took extensive, at times angry discussions, personal stories and explanations to get to a point where deeper understandings and empathy were reached. Where people were willing to listen, rather than reacting defensively. Rather than blindly taking things personally. Hundreds and hundreds of comments.

Many Mefites participating in this and the current thread on the Blue did not chime in at the Schroedinger's Rapist one. A number of people also left the Schroedinger's thread without saying their minds had been changed. So we can't extrapolate a picture of MeFi as a whole from that thread. And subsequent threads since then about gender relations and male behaviors perceived as threatening or problematic by women have not always gone as smoothly.
posted by zarq at 8:39 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


> Because there's been about 86 gabillion women who've come in here and said "attractiveness has nothing to do with whether a guy is creepy or not." I've told my own story TWICE now. And yet you are still persisting in the belief that attractiveness comes into play here.

If this was as simple of an issue as some here would believe, this thread would not have 500 comments. It is not a simple issue.


Just because a thread has a lot of comments doesn't mean it's "not a simple issue". Because, see, those 500 comments consist of a lot of women saying "attractiveness has nothing to do with it" and a lot of men saying "it does too, don't lie to us."

You only think it is "not a simple issue" because YOU ARE NOT LISTENING TO WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING. That means you only think it is "not a simple issue" because you are UNNECESSARILY making it complicated.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Point well made, but part of my issue with this discussion seems to be that people are saying:

1) Men should be innately in tune with female sexuality.

2) Men cannot possibly understand female sexuality.


FFS. This is not an issue of "sexuality," much less being "innately in tune" with it. It's an issue of gender, and the expectation that in the 21st century, men are fully capable of being respectful of it.

The fact that certain men seem to confuse/conflate women's sexuality with women's gender is, however, extraordinarily (if inadvertently) revealing.
posted by scody at 8:58 AM on July 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


I don't think men cannot understand women's sexuality, but I'm pretty sure it's impossible if men refuse to listen to women.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:01 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


don't hit on women in enclosed places where they cannot immediately and instantly leave, no matter how hot you are

If there's a reasonable chance that the woman will not merely reject the advance but want to flee for her safety, the proposal has bigger problems than where it takes place.

Also, if the paramount concern is sparing the woman anxiety about being assaulted, he should not have gotten on the elevator with her in the first place. Statistically, that act elevated the risk level far more than the coffee invitation did.
posted by Trurl at 9:04 AM on July 5, 2011


Or maybe it just made the ride super awkward and frustrating, and she was trapped in the elevator with the guy who made it awkward. And that's why its not a good idea to make a pass in an enclosed space.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:07 AM on July 5, 2011


Is there a tl;dr version of this saga? I just purely hate videoblogs.
posted by theora55 at 9:07 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there's a reasonable chance that the woman will not merely reject the advance but want to flee for her safety, the proposal has bigger problems than where it takes place.

Until a proposal is made, there's no reason it's anoything other than two people sharing an elevator. I know it's sort of weird and tough to get your head around, but women often get a lot of random proposals of varying degrees of appropriateness. The ones that seem inappropriate, but maybe the guy is just clueless, and the ones that can be concerning [i.e. "this might be trouble"]. Therefore if you're trying to talk to and/or interact with a woman that you like, doing a sort of reality check to see if your interaction bears more than passing resemblance to creeper-interactions is a good idea. I know it's sort of weird since why would you have to think about how creeps interact if you're not a creep, but if you're interested in positive outcomes, this is one of those sort of simple things to do that will help make things go better. So, no elevator pickups, for example.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:11 AM on July 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


If there's a reasonable chance that the woman will not merely reject the advance but want to flee for her safety, the proposal has bigger problems than where it takes place.

A large part of the problem is that it IS taking place where the woman cannot flee for her safety. Receiving such a proposal in a place where one cannot flee for safety makes one a lot more conscious about the prospect of fleeing for safety. You start to think, "Is he doing that here specifically because I can't leave?" And the possibility that, yes, he chose an elevator specifically so that you're trapped with him makes the situation very creepy and scary.
posted by meese at 9:14 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, we're still hung up on the elevator, which is an interesting trend in this threads. It happened with the woman who pulled the emergency stop cord on the subway whwn she was flashed.

WOMEN: Yeah, subway flashers. Big problem.

MEN: She shouldn't have pulled the cord.

WOMEN: Well, maybe not. But there are a lot of guys who will just whip out there junk ...

MEN: It slowed everybody down. It might have been dangerous.

WOMEN: All right, but, beyond whether there was a cord issue, can we discuss a sex crime?

MEN: Cord cord cord cord.

And so it is here. A discussion of the larger question of the fact that women at conventions feel like they're primarily seen as sex toys and not as equal contributors becomes bogged down into whether the elevator incident was a big deal or not, and questions of how to hook up at a convention, and back to the elevator, and the people say accusations of rape happened, and then back to the elevator again.

I don't think it's deliberate. But it's a damned effective way to avoid the topic that the woman originally wanted to discuss.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:15 AM on July 5, 2011 [40 favorites]


Can we at least agree that it's better to tell people to their face that you find them creepy and they make you uncomfortable than to post passive-aggressive treatises about acceptable behaviour on the internet the next day
posted by tehloki at 9:18 AM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


And subsequent threads since then about gender relations and male behaviors perceived as threatening or problematic by women have not always gone as smoothly.

I absolutely agree with that last. Schroedinger's was just a point at which I, personally, felt like it was safe to occasionally open up about What It's Like To Be A Woman In My Personal Experience without assuming that men in the thread were automatically going to take it as a personal attack on them. I have been thoroughly disabused of that notion since that thread. This MeTa thread (and what I read of the thread on the blue that inspired it, which I am not following) are definitely the straw that's breaking the camel's back for me, but there were a lot of other straws between there and here that made the camel's back ready to break.
posted by immlass at 9:20 AM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Can we at least agree that it's better to tell people to their face that you find them creepy

And risk them getting angry and shouting, or insulting you, or maybe even getting violent? No thank you.
posted by jess at 9:22 AM on July 5, 2011 [27 favorites]


Can we at least agree that it's better to tell people to their face that you find them creepy and they make you uncomfortable than to post passive-aggressive treatises about acceptable behaviour on the internet the next day?

Not until we no longer have any instances when a woman tells a man to his face that she's not interested, and he responds by angrily shouting, "What, you think you're too good for me, bitch?" and tries to attack her.

Now, those instances are few and far between. But so is the one bullet in a chamber of Russian roulette. I'm still not gonna play Russian Roulette, just like I'm going to really be careful about how I turn down a guy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 AM on July 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


Personally I wish people would just discuss the topics in this thread and the FPP, rather than scolding and handwringing and talking about disabling their accounts. I don't think this thread is a shame. I participated in it last night and am still following it, and I think there are things in here that will hopefuly resonate with some people. Look, I get in these conversations occasionally with my liberal New York friends and while I can see they're trying to be respectful, a lot of times guys are flabbergasted that the catcalling goes on day in and day out, and can't wrap their heads around it. I can only expect to see that x10000 on a website that people have access to from all over the world, and all different viewpoints. And also people who don't know each other personally and therefore feel more free to say things without cushioning their tone or thinking about the impact.
posted by sweetkid at 9:26 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we at least agree that it's better to tell people to their face that you find them creepy and they make you uncomfortable than to post passive-aggressive treatises about acceptable behaviour on the internet the next day

I am happy to agree with you that being able to turn down a sexual proposition should always be able to be done directly and safely.

If you think that women actually live in that fantasy land, however, then we'll have to disagree.
posted by scody at 9:28 AM on July 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


immlass: " I absolutely agree with that last. Schroedinger's was just a point at which I, personally, felt like it was safe to occasionally open up about What It's Like To Be A Woman In My Personal Experience without assuming that men in the thread were automatically going to take it as a personal attack on them. I have been thoroughly disabused of that notion since that thread. This MeTa thread (and what I read of the thread on the blue that inspired it, which I am not following) are definitely the straw that's breaking the camel's back for me, but there were a lot of other straws between there and here that made the camel's back ready to break."

FWIW, I'm sorry. :(
posted by zarq at 9:36 AM on July 5, 2011


Or maybe it just made the ride super awkward and frustrating, and she was trapped in the elevator with the guy who made it awkward. And that's why its not a good idea to make a pass in an enclosed space.

I don't think anyone has suggested this was a smart move on his part.

And we probably agree that it's bad manners to needlessly create awkwardness for another. But I'm more sympathetic to his need for human contact - however clumsily expressed - than I am to her desire to never be made to feel awkward.

Until a proposal is made, there's no reason it's anoything other than two people sharing an elevator.

Until he bullies or assaults her, it's just an invitation to his room. But this entire discussion is predicated on men (justifiably) being considered potential rape threats.
posted by Trurl at 9:37 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


And we probably agree that it's bad manners to needlessly create awkwardness for another. But I'm more sympathetic to his need for human contact - however clumsily expressed - than I am to her desire to never be made to feel awkward.

Then you haven't paid attention to her desire, which is to not constantly be made to feel like she is available for sexual overtures when she is in an environment where she would prefer to feel like an equal.

And if you're still more sympathetic to a man's need to make awkward passes than a woman's need to occasionally not have to deal with them, you're legitimately part of the problem she has raised.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:40 AM on July 5, 2011 [22 favorites]


don't hit on women in enclosed places where they cannot immediately and instantly leave, no matter how hot you are

If there's a reasonable chance that the woman will not merely reject the advance but want to flee for her safety, the proposal has bigger problems than where it takes place.


Again, this seems to be saying that there must be something unattractive or wrong with the dude in the first place, and totally disregards context.

I'm going to say it one more time: this guy could have been the most attractive man at the conference, but proposing she come up to his room after she spent a day talking about unwanted sexual advances at conferences, is not socially awkward nerdery. It is an example of not listening at all to what she was speaking about at the conference; or worse, listening and then not giving a shit. When confronted with a man who has demonstrated that for one reason or another he doesn't care what you have just said, you have to wonder if he's going to listen when you say you don't want to join him in his bedroom.

This has nothing to do with attractiveness, and everything to do with a man not listening to a woman when she is talking about her personal feelings regarding very specific male/female interactions in a specific context. I don't know why there seem to be certain users here banging on about women who like a guy will most likely not turn him down. No fucking duh. The point is that willfully disregarding a specific woman's carefully explained reasons for not enjoying being hit on by proceeding to hit on her is ugly, self-centered behavior. Very few people in the world find that attractive. Even less people find being trapped in an elevator with a stranger whose sole interaction has demonstrated that they can't hear your concerns a soothing experience. I don't understand the few people here who insist that the circumstances would have been different if the dude was hot. The whole point of her talk was that certain circumstances pretty much render any sort of normal interaction between females and males uncomfortable, ie. being one of a few women among dozens of men at a conference.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:45 AM on July 5, 2011 [21 favorites]


But I'm more sympathetic to his need for human contact - however clumsily expressed - than I am to her desire to never be made to feel awkward.

Why is his neediness more important to you than her security?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:46 AM on July 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


But I'm more sympathetic to his need for human contact - however clumsily expressed - than I am to her desire to never be made to feel awkward.

Again, I think editorial insertion may be showing. For all we know, the guy has a wife and child, or a girlfriend and/or a bunch of terrific guy friends who do krav maga and don't believe in God together. Sometimes, people who already have human contact just want a little more human contact, especially at conferences after a long spell at the bar.

I'm kind of enjoying this - some of the crazy people are scary crazy rather than funny crazy, which is a shame, but most of the properly mad seems to have blown out, and it's interesting to see and talk about what people think about this stuff. It'll probably be less interesting when it happens for the fifth time, but it's exciting and new.

Also, it feels very self-contained. Do people hold on to animus? I have this feeling that it's a bit like pro-wrestling.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:48 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I'm more sympathetic to his need for human contact - however clumsily expressed - than I am to her desire to never be made to feel awkward.

Threatened. It's not merely awkward. It's being made to feel threatened.
posted by marimeko at 9:48 AM on July 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think the attractiveness and creepiness argument mixes up a couple different issues.

First, are women more likely to respond favorably to someone's advances if they find them attractive? This is obviously true. (Women are not different all that different from men in this respect.) As some people have pointed out, attractiveness is not entirely a matter of looks, but it's certainly a factor.

Second, is attractiveness an important factor in whether behavior is perceived as creepy? A lot of women have been saying it isn't (almost unanimously), and to some extent the opposite.

I think it's easy for guys who have poor social skills and get rejected a lot, to assume that if they were different people, better looking, less dorky, something, that wouldn't happen. After all other guys hit on women all the time, and they don't get called creeps. What they're not getting is that the other guys do it differently. Sure, other guys manage hook up with women at conferences, but they don't do it the way Watson's elevator guy tried to do it. However, if your social skills are poor, it can be hard to see that.

I get it. I used think a lot like that when I was younger, but I've gotten a bit smarter as I've gotten older. My social skills are still not great, but I've certainly developed more awareness about it.
posted by nangar at 9:49 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


This MeTa thread (and what I read of the thread on the blue that inspired it, which I am not following) are definitely the straw that's breaking the camel's back for me, but there were a lot of other straws between there and here that made the camel's back ready to break.

I agree with zarq. It is sad to see good posters so dispirited by the 'mob rule mode'.

Many years ago I found a comfortable place online, and then it was 'invaded' by an unruly bunch. We couldn't even converse over the noise. I complained bitterly. One 'elder' was more sanguine, "This is just their way of having fun." And most of the newcomers did eventually move on (and some stayed to join in the more personal-vulnerable discussions). I called this time the invasion of the Huns.

What I learned from that is that when an online community has a foundation of 'elders' who have the patience and wisdom to watch and wait (and then do the mother cat smackdown), it will maintain its balance -- even under attack.

Part of maintaining that wisdom is sharing our expectations with each other, over and over. After all this brouhaha this weekend, I am more impressed with metafilter than ever. There was much sharing -- and great validation of community civility. Don't let the noise obscure the signals, immlass, there are some gems here.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:54 AM on July 5, 2011


Until he bullies or assaults her, it's just an invitation to his room.

But women don't magically KNOW this. The fact that the possibility exists -- and that it is not actually a very remote possibility -- that he could bully or assault her means most women will feel we cannot afford to read it as "just" an invitation, even when the man making the invitation knows it is just an invitation.

Rapists very often look exactly like you non-rapists. We can't instantly tell the good guys apart from the guys who may hurt us.

If that upsets you, then please direct your anger toward men who bully, assault, and rape women, not at women who necessarily have to make certain choices to try to avoid being bullied, assaulted, or raped.
posted by scody at 9:54 AM on July 5, 2011 [29 favorites]


First, are women more likely to respond favorably to someone's advances if they find them attractive? This is obviously true.

What the fuck do you mean "obvious"?

Look. I told a story about a guy who wouldn't stop staring at me at a bar, and then when I left he chased me down the street hollering "why didn't you come talk to me?" I would not have been any more inclined to respond favorably if it was John Cusack who was staring at me and then chasing me down the street, and I have no idea why you think it would.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:55 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Trurl: " And we probably agree that it's bad manners to needlessly create awkwardness for another. But I'm more sympathetic to his need for human contact - however clumsily expressed - than I am to her desire to never be made to feel awkward."

This is not a desire on her part "never [to] be made to feel awkward." She felt threatened. You're making the same error in analysis that Dawkins did. He conflated "threat" with "offense."

No matter how many people try to reframe the former as the latter in an effort to condescendingly dismiss her, the two are absolutely not equivalent.
posted by zarq at 9:56 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I'm sorry, Trurl, I realized after posting just now that I misread your subsequent sentence to the one I quoted, which I think indicates that you get what I was just trying to say anyway.)
posted by scody at 9:57 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Until he bullies or assaults her, it's just an invitation to his room. But this entire discussion is predicated on men (justifiably) being considered potential rape threats.

Ugh, if she thought that, why go to conferences where the gender balance is so inequitable? Why stay in the bar until 4am? Obviously the woman in question would not do these things if she looks at all men as potential rapists. This dude's behaviour falls somewhere on the spectrum of OMFG are you really that oblivious<>oh shit what happens now. That's because most average guys don't do this kind of thing; in fact she pointed out that many men were very supportive of her talk. You don't have to accept the premise that all men are potential rapists to be severely scared by unexplained outlier behaviour by a single individual.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:58 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not merely awkward. It's being made to feel threatened.

To whatever degree she was at risk of being assaulted by this man, she was under that risk as soon as the elevator door closed.

If he can be assumed a rape threat, he should not have boarded the elevator with her. If he is not assumed to be a rape threat, his inviting to her his room does not deserve the treatment it has received here.
posted by Trurl at 9:58 AM on July 5, 2011


proposing she come up to his room after she spent a day talking about unwanted sexual advances at conferences, is not socially awkward nerdery. It is an example of not listening at all to what she was speaking about at the conference; or worse, listening and then not giving a shit

I suppose it could be one of two other things:

1) The guy listening and understanding what she was talking about but somehow being totally unable to see his own behavior as an example of it -- like he has an image of "hitting on women" that only includes some foul, gross, crass, graphic sleazy come on.

or, and this is my guess because I see it all the time everywhere --
2) "X does not apply to me" syndrome
"This attendance policy in your syllabus? I'm sure you'll make an exception for me because my circumstances are special and snowflaky."
"No parking in the handicapped zone? Well, no one will mind if I do it since there are 3 spots free."

I think a lot of human interaction problems would be solved if we all just chanted "The rules apply to me. The rules apply to me" as a mantra.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:00 AM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


That guy sounds seriously unattractive, EmpressCallipygos, and would be no matter what he looked like. I don't think nangar was talking about physical appearance. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but it seems like several factors can outweigh someone's looks and make them incredibly unattractive, for instance propositioning someone out of the blue in an elevator. That's how I was reading it, anyway.

To whatever degree she was at risk of being assaulted by this man, she was under that risk as soon as the elevator door closed.

And then you'd never be able to go anywhere, which is ridiculous. Assuming you're relatively safe until someone makes an inappropriate sexual advance seems like a reasonable compromise. I'm not a woman though, so I can only speculate.
posted by ODiV at 10:02 AM on July 5, 2011


To whatever degree she was at risk of being assaulted by this man, she was under that risk as soon as the elevator door closed.

So, what, you think she should have waited for another elevator?

Why are you putting the onus of the blame on HER? Why are HER needs so unimportant to you? Are men so frail and delicate that you fear they cannot accept critique?

Must be. And yet you heap all sorts of critique and chastising and such on women's behavior.

Wow. "Women are the weaker sex" my ass -- we're not even allowed to criticize a man's behavior because we may hurt his FEEEEEEEElings, but women can take all sorts of flak.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:03 AM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


The whole point of her talk was that certain circumstances pretty much render any sort of normal interaction between females and males uncomfortable, ie. being one of a few women among dozens of men at a conference.

I should explain that I don't mean to generalize about this: I'm a woman who is often very comfortable in unequivocal male/female situations (I worked for a gardening company in which I was the only female employee among a dozen male gardeners, and never had any issues with my workmates. Just the creepy boss). I'm referring to her conference talk specifically.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:03 AM on July 5, 2011


Schroedinger's was just a point at which I, personally, felt like it was safe to occasionally open up about What It's Like To Be A Woman In My Personal Experience without assuming that men in the thread were automatically going to take it as a personal attack on them. I have been thoroughly disabused of that notion since that thread.

Likewise, on all counts. The Schroedinger's Rapist thread was phenomenal for me, because it gave me a kind of hope and encouragement that I have never had before or since. It gave me a taste of something very heady, and even made me feel safe enough to tell the entire Internet a tale I had never before told anyone. For many months afterward, I went out into the world with a more optimistic outlook about the possibility for more empathic listening and witnessing from men, more widespread understanding and respect between men and women, and creating space for deeper healing work to be done among mixed-sex groups. That thread renewed my affection for MetaFilter, even as I sobbed with emotional exhaustion, sorrow, compassion, and rage while reading all the heartbreaking stories of rape, assault, and harassment. To this day I still refer people to that thread for all kinds of reasons, and they still thank me for doing so.

But I, too, have seen things degenerate on MeFi since then, and this thread and the one on the blue that spawned it are not exactly inspiring much confidence, to put it mildly.

Is this a two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of thing? Because I really want to believe that if MetaFilter can spawn something like the Schroedinger's Rapist thread once, then we are doing better than 95% of the Internet. But right now I'm not feeling very hopeful. Not very hopeful at all.
posted by velvet winter at 10:03 AM on July 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm more sympathetic to his need for human contact - however clumsily expressed - than I am to her desire to never be made to feel awkward.

I feel that this is a parody of her position. At some level these things are so tough to talk about because by their very nature they involve two people with real feelings. And while people can characterize rapists as somehow non-human and worthy of consideration, a lot of people identify with the awkward guy in the elevator.

But without being able to really talk about the Problem of the Awkward Guy in the Elevator then people seem to think that thse sorts of things never (or rarely) come up, aren't a huge wearying problem to many women and just the act of trying to talk about it turns into a huge shit show.

When the Wikimedia Foundation decided to try to figure out how to get more women interested in editing Wikipedia and made some moves in that direction, there was a similar bizarre (over)reaction. People felt that trying to make a space more comfortable for women was in some way saying that the men involved in Wikipedia had done something wrong, or that this was in some way an affirmative action program for women who couldn't hold their own in the Wikipedia culture. And that by saying they wanted to change the culture, people got really pissed as if it were an indictment of their existing culture.

And I think this is the tough part, you have to, at some level, say that some of the ways gendered interactions and culture have been operating are sort of broken. And of course that stings. But if you're trying, as this group was, to make your culture more friendly and hospitable to women, you're going to have to accept that that is going to involve some people telling you that it's not meeting its goals. And there will be conflict, and tough discussions. It happens here on MeFi, people want the site to be one way or another way and we try to set expectations properly and help people work towards them.

But there are some things where we put our foot down and say "this is/isn't okay and you can lobby for change but this is how it's going to be" that I feel like you can't get to via consensus. And that level of leadership is often missing from situations where people want to change the culture, however they want to change it. Where you have to tell some people "that's just not going to work this way here"

Can we at least agree that it's better to tell people to their face that you find them creepy and they make you uncomfortable than to post passive-aggressive treatises about acceptable behaviour on the internet the next day?

No, we can't. And I'm sorry because I'd like that to be true too. But it's not an outlying data point that sometimes this sort of interaction is met with anger and violence and all sorts of abberant behavior. So I think both sides work on it with decent intent. That's what we can agree on.

we're not even allowed to criticize a man's behavior because we may hurt his FEEEEEEEElings

Less sarcasm and ALLCAPS snark makes this thread go better.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:04 AM on July 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Trurl: " To whatever degree she was at risk of being assaulted by this man, she was under that risk as soon as the elevator door closed."

Holy fuck, way to blame the victim.

Are you seriously trying to tell us that his behavior in this situation should not be a factor here? That it's her responsibility to act as if every man is a potential rapist just because they happen to be in her vicinity, and not judge them on their actions and stated intentions?

Do you not see how astoundingly unreasonable that is?
posted by zarq at 10:04 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


First, are women more likely to respond favorably to someone's advances if they find them attractive? This is obviously true.

The blog post about the study I linked to upthread does say this:
Study 2a Results: Here’s the headline — differences between men and women in likelihood of taking the proposer up on the offer was a whole lot closer. For the proposition by the attractive person, women were at 4.09 (2.16) to 4.16 (2.56) for men — just about a tie. For the unattractive celebrity, men were at 1.43 (.84) to women’s 1.71 (1.61) — women were higher. For the unknown person, though, no such effect. Women were at 1.86 (1.38), men were still at 3.52 (2.06). Women were only marginally more interested in the offer from a stranger than from a man generally thought ugly. Men were almost as interested in the random stranger as Angelina Jolie. The short fling results basically track this, with the fact of celebrity seriously closing the gap between men’s and women’s interest, and the gap for a stranger remaining wide. The appeal of the offer follows the same pattern: little difference in men’s and women’s response to the unattractive celebrity, little difference in their reaction to the attractive celebrity, lots of difference in their response to the stranger.
It's really, really worth noting that the specific scenario that participants were asked to imagine was:
You are fortunate enough to be able to spend your entire winter vacation in Los Angeles. One day, about a week into your stay, you decide to visit a trendy cafe´ in Malibu that overlooks the ocean. As you are sipping your drink, you look over and notice that actor Johnny Depp is just a few tables away. You can hardly believe your eyes! Still more amazing, he catches your eye and then approaches you. He says, “I have been noticing you and I find you to be very attractive. Would you go to bed with me tonight?”

(For men, the proposer was Angelina Jolie. Also, emphasis in the original)
posted by rtha at 10:05 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Because awkward != unsafe?

When I was younger, and much thinner, I'd occasionally get hit on by gay men on Capitol Hill. It was awkward for me, but I just politely rejected it and they moved on. I didn't call it unsafe or threatening, and didn't vlog about it on the internet. It was a thing that happened, then it was over. Big effin' deal. Sure, I suppose they could have physically threatened me, but that basically never happened- although I've been attacked on the street by drunk/homeless people a couple of times. I don't however hate homeless people because of it, or act like they should all be pre-emptively jailed so I can feel marginally safer for my crippling phobias.


This is what baffles me: I don't hit on women. Ever. Literally: I last asked a woman out I think around '98 or so. By your apparent standards, I'm the perfect man, absolutely perfect- perhaps even more so than our intrepid hero of the gender wars, Astro Zombie.

But man, am I lonely. And when the inevitable end comes for me, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you winnowed out another loser from the gene pool, and that I adopted your perfect strategy, gaining your unknowing approval as the perfect man, and if everyone did what I did the species would die out in a generation.

So this is what you want for me. Isolation, then death. THAT is how I read your words, and why I and guys like me get so angry at these threads. A while back, jessamyn deleted a comment of mine where I noted that a poster who usually lambasts me as the prototypical "nice guy (tm)" was in a separate thread talking about how her own friends were forcing her to have a 'come to jesus' moment and dump her douchebag boyfriend. I couldn't help but note the irony that one of the more vocal "men are jerks, and you're a jerk!" posters was dating a douchebag. Physician, heal thyself!

And still, I ask no one out, because to do so would make me a rapist and a murderer and a sociopath. My mother and sisters raised me well to respect women's space and boundaries. Oh, so very very well. The last woman I was attracted to told me over dinner a few months ago (before she left to do some teaching in Africa) how I was more than just polite, but almost like a classy throwback to "politesse" of a bygone era. She too said such kind words about how utterly amazing I was. Not for her, of course- but for someone, surely.

And you know... it has gotten me nothing but isolation, even though every woman I know says how great I am, how amazing I am, how I don't even know my own worth, how any and every woman would be lucky to have a guy like me... but uh, not THEM mind you, that part is unspoken but certain.

So THAT is how I read your words. And that's why, when I read your words, I hate you all so very, very, very much. Because I read your words as the words of hypocrites, liars, and haters. Because despite being a huge loser in life and love, you'll jump down my throat to tar me as a monster, me and people like me, and say that in your Just World ramblings, I must deserve this isolation, and bear the burden of being responsible for all the asshole boyfriends, the abusers, and the rapists- that that, somehow, is also my cross to bear. I can make my peace with being a loser in life, with dying alone. I can't make my peace with people who don't know me telling me I'm more responsible than them, somehow, for the jerks in the world, like this is my problem to fix, like I'm to blame in some way, or certainly just like them.

So. Much. Hate. For you people.
posted by hincandenza at 10:06 AM on July 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


FWIW, I'm sorry. :(

Which is appreciated and does make me feel better. My saying how I feel is not intended as a scold or a threat to leave the site; I'm just saying, in MeTa, where we're supposed to talk about how we feel the site should be run, that now when I see threads about gender issues, I'm less likely to weigh in than I might have been, and that current discussions have made me aware of that and factor it into my decisions on where to participate in the site and how.

The mods like to tell us to FIAMO. I don't think there was anything about flex's original post to flag. There is no flag for "likely to generate a thread that makes me sad" and shouldn't be one. To the extent that I think a thread is going to upset me and make me fighty or grar-y or sad, particularly in a way that makes me likely to behave badly too, it's on me, as an adult, to Move On. Life is too short to drink bad beer, etc. But I wanted to say "these threads change how I participate on the site" in a place where the mods are paying attention, because they do change how I (and quite possibly others) participate here.
posted by immlass at 10:08 AM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just because a thread has a lot of comments doesn't mean it's "not a simple issue". Because, see, those 500 comments consist of a lot of women saying "attractiveness has nothing to do with it" and a lot of men saying "it does too, don't lie to us."

In fairness, there's a lot of not-listening going on on both "sides" (ugh, this shouldn't even be a thing in conversations like this) here; there are an awful lot of guys saying "look, it's hard to know when I'm going to come off as creepy" and a lot of other people insisting "NO, it isn't! It's easy, how can you not get it?" which is, if not quite as tone-deaf as insisting that no, it really *is* about attractiveness, is no less unsympathetic.

Me, I think that clearer social conventions would do everybody a world of good - both the guys who can't figure out how to make contact and the women who'd prefer to be left alone - in the same way that I think simplifying the hell out of the tax code would lead to a lot fewer people cheating on their taxes and a lot fewer honest people incredibly frustrated with their taxes.

More importantly, I think there's validity for his need for human contact, however clumsy, and for her desire to not be threatened. I'd love to live in a world where neither one of them completely and unilaterally overrides the other one. On the one hand, the fact that women are exhausted and demoralized by just trying to live life is a tragedy, plain and simple; on the other hand, the story that Empress told in the other thread, about her friend being accosted by the woman who asked if she could be his friend, and how Empress and her friend both felt it was really creepy - well, it feels tragic to me, too, because I don't want to live in a world where the only people I ever interact with are people I already know, and I see a lot of parts of the modern world trending that way. I've met some really interesting folks just by being willing to talk to them on the subway, or when I was walking past them in a park at 3am and they said hi. But yeah, it doesn't feel like there's a lot of room for moderate viewpoints in here amidst all the shouting...I'll just show myself out then.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:08 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


[I edited Trurl's comment that he only half finished but that had already been responded to by the time he brought it to our attention. Sorry.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:11 AM on July 5, 2011


When I was younger, and much thinner, I'd occasionally get hit on by gay men on Capitol Hill. It was awkward for me, but I just politely rejected it and they moved on.

That's the difference, though -- I guarantee that if any one of those men who hit on you reacted to your polite rejection by angrily saying, "what's the matter, you're too good for me?" And acting like he was going to attack you, you may have a different reaction to this.

This is what baffles me: I don't hit on women. Ever. Literally: I last asked a woman out I think around '98 or so. By your apparent standards, I'm the perfect man, absolutely perfect- perhaps even more so than our intrepid hero of the gender wars, Astro Zombie.

With all due respect, assuming a martyr's pose is not quite what people are asking you to do here. There is no need for the dramatic, handwringing "I guess I'll die alone since that's what you people want," because no one is saying that that is what they want. Your mother was absolutely correct in encouraging you to respect women's boundaries, but with all due respect, "respecting women's boundaries" does not mean "don't talk to women ever," and I invite you to reflect upon why you believe this must be so.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on July 5, 2011 [17 favorites]


First, are women more likely to respond favorably to someone's advances if they find them attractive? This is obviously true.

What the fuck do you mean "obvious"?


Not to get into this debate too much, but I think the exchange here is talking about two different situations.

1. The above statement is probably speaking more in a general sense, i.e. women are more receptive to attention from handsome men. Again, generally speaking, that's obvious

2. You, Empress, are talking more about a specific instance, the one the thread is about and the one that happened to you. Attractiveness doesn't matter a damn once creepy behavior starts, a woman just wants it to stop. If anything, it might be harder for a woman, because if she complains she might be admonished for "turning down such a catch".

So I think that's what was meant by the "obvious" and two different situations are being discussed.

I'm more sympathetic to his need for human contact - however clumsily expressed - than I am to her desire to never be made to feel awkward.

It's been explained to me, by women, that it's not feeling awkward, it's feeling unsafe. Sure, this might not be that guy that snaps and does something, but all it takes IS one guy and suddenly a women is in danger of physically killed.

It doesn't matter if that specific male isn't that guy. The woman doesn't know and there's no reason she should risk her safety just to please someone else. All of this could have been avoided if the guy had talked to her at the gathering or bar, or simply asked if he could walk her to the elevator or something.

If you're still having problems understanding, think of it this way: How do you feel when your shitty asshole boss or even your nice boss corners you and wants to talk or share something and all you really just want to do your work or leave at your normal time. Instead you're cornered and have to listen and somehow appease him 'cause hey he's the boss and your paycheck relies on him liking you in some way. You have no idea who long he's going to on talking or what else he's going to say or do. Now imagine dealing with that everyday from various strangers who you have no connection with or responsibility for, yet they all want something from you.

So yeah, give the woman some room and space and don't make it harder for her. It may not get you laid, but there's plenty of other situations where you getting laid are more appropriate.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:13 AM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


From Rebecca Watson's Wikipedia page: In 2006, Rebecca released The Skepchick Calendar, a pin-up calendar featuring pictures of skeptical women for every month.

I think I hate this person.
posted by MattMangels at 10:14 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So. Much. Hate. For you people.

Are you freaking serious? You are not really making your case that you're a "nice guy" by saying how much you hate women for not sleeping with you.
posted by jess at 10:15 AM on July 5, 2011 [24 favorites]


Me, I think that clearer social conventions would do everybody a world of good - both the guys who can't figure out how to make contact and the women who'd prefer to be left alone

I don't know what is more clear than giving a talk at a conference about this very subject.

I also don't know why some people think don't hit on lone women in elevators at 4am is equivalent to don't hit on women, ever. I can only imagine that they still don't understand that cornering someone makes for an uncomfortable situation for anyone, to put it mildly.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:17 AM on July 5, 2011


So, one thing that puzzles me about mods and the mod duties are... why bother, some times? The world won't stop spinning on its axis if you look at a thread like that, throw up your hands, and just say "Fuck it. Anyone still reading and posting in that thread knows it's a goddamn mess, so what can we reasonably be expected to do?

Taking this sentiment another direction, I don't see a problem with "DELETION REASON: This thread sucks. Go take a walk."
posted by norm at 10:17 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the one hand, the fact that women are exhausted and demoralized by just trying to live life is a tragedy, plain and simple; on the other hand, the story that Empress told in the other thread, about her friend being accosted by the woman who asked if she could be his friend, and how Empress and her friend both felt it was really creepy - well, it feels tragic to me, too, because I don't want to live in a world where the only people I ever interact with are people I already know, and I see a lot of parts of the modern world trending that way.

In his defense: my friend is actually quite gregarious. He is not one to "only ever interact with the people he already knows." But he demonstrated what this woman did to him, and I instantly understood why this instance creeped him out -- "she came and sat up next to me like this," he said, putting his nose only about three inches from my face and staring at me.

Being unnerved by such behavior is not a sign that you are unwlling to interact with people you don't know.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:18 AM on July 5, 2011


Look. I told a story about a guy who wouldn't stop staring at me at a bar, and then when I left he chased me down the street hollering "why didn't you come talk to me?"

No, I don't think any sane person would respond to that favorably. And don't think most people would expect anyone to respond favorably.

I think you missed that I was making a distinction between "responding to advances" and "perceiving as creepy." And advances, I meant normal advances, like asking a person on a date, not staring at some one and then chasing them down the street and yell. That would count as creepy, not to mention openly hostile and scary. No, when you get into creepy or threatening territory looks don't matter.

My point is I don't think some people aren't getting the distinction between the two, and it's ended up muddling the conversation.
posted by nangar at 10:19 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So. Much. Hate. For you people.

Are you sure this is where the hate is most profitably directed? Your issues with women and assertiveness aren't going to be addressed by getting mad at men who are more skilled than you or women who are attracted to directness and confidence. If you were physically handicapped your most healthy choice would be to go to therapy and try as hard as you can to improve your life, not insist that everyone pity you right and spit bitterly on folks walking by.

I empathize strongly with you Hal, and just because women have it rough don't mean that there aren't cruel, shitty women out there who abuse the situation to be either dismissive or shrilly oversensitive. But instead of focusing on that, focus on this: nobody wants you be alone, and you don't deserve to be alone. You can change your situation. You can find someone who respects and is attracted to you. You can do it. Don't just take a bunch of drugs and play tennis, we can hear you!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:19 AM on July 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think you missed that I was making a distinction between "responding to advances" and "perceiving as creepy." And advances, I meant normal advances, like asking a person on a date, not staring at some one and then chasing them down the street and yell. That would count as creepy, not to mention openly hostile and scary.

My apologies, nangar. I only plead a few too many experiences with other men in real life who also were unable to make such a distinction between "normal advances" and "being creepy" themselves.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:21 AM on July 5, 2011


Me: if the paramount concern is sparing the woman anxiety about being assaulted, he should not have gotten on the elevator with her in the first place.

EC: So, what, you think she should have waited for another elevator? Why are you putting the onus of the blame on HER? Why are HER needs so unimportant to you?

zarq: Are you seriously trying to tell us that... it's her responsibility to act as if every man is a potential rapist just because they happen to be in her vicinity...

[emphases added]

Whether this is willful misreading or just grar-blindness, I think we can all agree that I'll be accomplishing nothing by further participation in this thread.
posted by Trurl at 10:24 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


hincandenza: ...And still, I ask no one out, because to do so would make me a rapist and a murderer and a sociopath. ....
...So THAT is how I read your words. And that's why, when I read your words, I hate you all so very, very, very much. Because I read your words as the words of hypocrites, liars, and haters. ...
Because despite being a huge loser in life and love, you'll jump down my throat to tar me as a monster, me and people like me, and say that in your Just World ramblings, ...
...So. Much. Hate. For you people.


My friend you have real issues, issues that have nothing to do with MetaFilter , this discussion or the people participating in it. Looking at the entirety of you words that I only briefly quoted from, you are clearly talking about your deep seated hate for women and as a woman I find that incredibly scary. I do not want to mock you in any way and I urge you to find someone professional to talk through your feelings . I sincerely do not think that discussions like these do not do you any good and urge you to consider avoiding them until you are better able to work though, understand and come to grips with your feeling regarding women.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:28 AM on July 5, 2011 [17 favorites]


Oh, give me a break, Trurl. The comment you made did not include the sentence you're quoting.

It did include the one we quoted: "To whatever degree she was at risk of being assaulted by this man, she was under that risk as soon as the elevator door closed."

We can only respond to what you say, not what you meant to say before hitting "post" prematurely. I'm not psychic, dammit. If you want to claim that what you posted isn't entirely what you meant that's fine with me. But don't tell me I willfully misinterpreted what you actually said. That's incredibly disingenuous of you.
posted by zarq at 10:29 AM on July 5, 2011


Trurl -, in our defense, your comment for a time read as follows:

"To whatever degree she was at risk of being assaulted by this man, she was under that risk as soon as the elevator door closed.

If he can be assumed a rape threat, n"

(sic.)

I believe what you're seeing are responses to that original weird version of your comment, and not the amended version; rather than an instance of willfully misreading. My own apologies nevertheless.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:30 AM on July 5, 2011


Because awkward != unsafe?

Can you please, please explain how am to tell the difference, if I don't know you, have never seen you before? Can you please, honestly, explain to me how I can tell the difference between the guy who's maybe pushing my boundaries because he's kind of awkward and has just gathered up all his courage to talk to me, and the guy who's an asshole who won't take no for an answer?

And still, I ask no one out, because to do so would make me a rapist and a murderer and a sociopath.

Have you only ever approached women you don't know, and who have no context for you at all (like, oh, we met at so-and-so's party last week, he's a friend of blahblah's)?

I get that you're pissed. I don't think you should not be pissed. I do think that your anger is misplaced - why aren't you pissed at the assholes who are responsible for making women wary of talking to strange men?

I briefly dated a woman who worked at the video store that was next to the bookstore where I worked. Before either of us ever asked the other one out (and I can't remember any more who did the asking) there was several weeks' worth of hanging out and chatting about movies and books and crazy things that customers do (retail worker bonding!). We got to know each other well enough to be able to judge that neither of us was an axe murderer. We had a very nice little fling. Please note that I did not walk into the video store and ask her out the first time I laid eyes on her. That would be weird, and inappropriate, and would almost certainly not work.

So, again: if you, a person unknown to me, walks up and asks me out, how should I know that you are awkward and shy but not an asshole?
posted by rtha at 10:31 AM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


perhaps even more so than our intrepid hero of the gender wars, Astro Zombie.

If you absolutely must persist in mocking me, can I ask that you take it to MeMail?

But for the momnemt, let me point out that suggesting that I cannot honorably be standing up for a position I belive in is bizarre and troubling. Why do you think it is impossible for a man to take the side I have, and persist ib characterizing me as some PC crusader?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:31 AM on July 5, 2011


Sorry, yes, that's my fault. Another "trying to MeFi from a cell phone" tragedy.
posted by Trurl at 10:32 AM on July 5, 2011


Some eloquent thoughts on feminism from PZ Meyers' daughter Skatje.
posted by MattMangels at 10:35 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So. Much. Hate. For you people.

For who? For women?

This seems to come up on every thread like this--how you can't get a date because the women around you taught you the wrong thing, which is to be nice. Every comment is dripping with contempt for women, how they've done this to you, but no, you're not going to act like the creeps that go out and take what they want because you, of course, respect women.

(I don't even want to talk about the implicit threat there--the oh, if I was really doing what I wanted kind of attitude. It's there, though, and it makes me uneasy.)

But you don' respect women. It's really, really obvious from your posts here that you don't. And I can't help but wonder if it's apparent to women who meet you in real life, too. You don't even believe them (why is that woman moving to Africa cited as if it was some kind of falsehood or excuse?), so I wonder if you respect them, either.

There has been some really, really good advice here on how to respectfully ask someone out. It all pretty much boils down to this: stop strategizing and stop objectifying--this doesn't mean just not asking women out on elevators, but it means not viewing every woman as a potential conquest or even romantic partner first. It means getting to know women as individuals first, being empathetic and unselfish. These aren't difficult things. These are basic-human-decency things. It means that you quit seeing women as the other.

Christ, I kind of want to repeat that just for emphasis: quit seeing women as the other. It seems to be the fundamental problem here. Many of the people minimizing this woman's experience insist that either she's lying, or overreacting, or if she isn't, then she can't understand the pain she caused the poor man, and by extension, all men who have ever been rejected. This is digging in your feet, ignoring the commonalities between men and women--the fact that sometimes we all face rejection, that sometimes we all like to fuck, that we like to have our words trusted at face value, that we deserve to be trusted and believed first and foremost because we are human beings, not creepy alien invaders who must be, I don't know, held for questioning.

From Rebecca Watson's Wikipedia page: In 2006, Rebecca released The Skepchick Calendar, a pin-up calendar featuring pictures of skeptical women for every month.

I think I hate this person.


I don't understand this. A woman can consent--and even participate--in sexualized activities and that doesn't mean she's inviting people to see her as a sexual object 24/7 and it doesn't mean she's deserving of contempt, either.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:37 AM on July 5, 2011 [49 favorites]


Some eloquent thoughts on feminism from PZ Meyers' daughter Skatje.

That's not eloquent. It's an outdated strawman. She doesn't know (or understand) the fundamental definition of feminism.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:40 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Empress, I wrote:

A lot of women have been saying it isn't (almost unanimously), and to some extent the opposite.

I guess I should have said explicitly that I agree with this. I phrased it this way because I'm male, and I agree because I don't think I'd react any differently and because every woman I can remember who has commented about who has commented about this has said pretty much the same thing, and I don't think they're lying. (I thought it would be obvious from context that I accept this, but I guess it wasn't.)
posted by nangar at 10:44 AM on July 5, 2011


These two threads, so much obtuseness, possibly deliberate, but I just can't look away. Am I missing something PhoB? It seems to me that the definition you linked to is exactly what she is talking about.
posted by MattMangels at 10:44 AM on July 5, 2011


Some eloquent thoughts on feminism from PZ Meyers' daughter Skatje.

You posted this in the main thread too; I shall copy my own response as well, in return:
That's interesting, but it's not germane to this conversation. This is not a conversation about "feminism". This is a conversation about "both men and women seem unable to accept that women's expressly-stated wishes about personal boundaries are being routinely ignored, and it beats the fuck out of me why that would be the case."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:44 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


These two threads, so much obtuseness, possibly deliberate, but I just can't look away. Am I missing something PhoB? It seems to me that the definition you linked to is exactly what she is talking about.

I'm not being obtuse. She's saying that women who call themselves feminists hurt their cause because it's "a frenetic beast, striking blindly at every phantom it can find, leaving behind rational discourse and losing sight of the most important issues." But that's not the case, not what any feminists are arguing here (or, generally). Feminists are arguing that women deserve to be treated equally to men--nothing more, nothing less. That she claims that she's not a feminist--and therefore is somehow superior to women who label themselves as feminists--doesn't negate the fact that by believing that women's equality to men is self evident, she is, in fact, a feminist.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:47 AM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


So. Much. Hate. For you people.

Dude, you think it's hard for you to get laid and find a partner? I'm basically seeking a lesbian/bi relationship but I'm biologically a dude so I have the lovely task of finding women who can deal with all of that and accept the weird spectrum of my gender identity - because frankly it's never worked if I just pretend to be a dude for the purposes of maintaining a relationship, and it's only barely worked for the rare one night stand.


Here's my fairly reliable guide to meeting partners, dates and casual sex partners in the modern world without being a creep:



Step 1: Don't base your self-worth on being lonely or not. I know it's hard, but, speaking from experience I assure you it's possible. But if you just sit there and stew in your own self loathing and difficulty with being alone, you go toxic and selfish and self centered and people don't want to talk to you. No, that's not victim blaming, but bitter, needy people are no fun to be around. If needed, fix your shit. Get help, therapy, out of your box, out of your own head. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Help a stranger just because it's good for you.

Yeah, bootstrap yourself. If you can't do step 1 - you may be depressed or struggling with something bigger than simply boredom or loneliness.

But interesting people are rarely bored or lonely. Self-contained and self-motivated and taking your own bite out of life is very attractive to people. Neediness isn't.

Step 2: Find something you enjoy, and do it. Join a club, user groups, do it solo. Enjoy it. Repeat. If the something you enjoy isn't known for attracting people of all genders - well, maybe find a different hobby. But don't pick something fake, do something you actually enjoy, and don't be afraid to try something new or unusual. You might actually like it.

To be clear, it doesn't have to be a club. It could be any number of solo activities from painting outdoors to photography to juggling.

Step 3: Meet people. Not women. PEOPLE. Treat women like people, because, well, they're people. Be interested in what they have to say. Listen. Converse with them. As people, not as potential dates or sexual partners. You shouldn't be looking to just jump in the sack anyway. Actually pay attention to and get to know people.


Step 4: This is where it gets tricky.

Somewhere during steps 1, 2, and 3 you're looking for (person of the gender of your choice) who you actually find interesting, not just because they're physically attractive to you. In fact, try to throw out the whole mental table of "would I or wouldn't I sleep with this person based on their physical appearance" because it just gets in the way of meeting people and hanging out with them on a strictly platonic basis, and it eliminates many potential mates or partners that you'd get on with just fine.

Find someone you're actually interested in. Talk to them. Engage them about things that aren't dates or sex or "we go back to my apartment, bouncy bouncy?". Ask their opinion about things, and mean it. Listen. Be honest in your own opinions, too. "Scaring off" potential partners by being honest about yourself is part of the program. It means you're not actually compatible, and it's a good thing. Better to find out now than later after you've bought a house.


Repeat steps 1-3 over and over again. Live life. Enjoy being single. No, seriously - enjoy being single. When you're single you can go out for pancakes and eggs at 3 in the morning and no one cares and you don't have to explain yourself. You can smoke a cigar in the bathrub with a pint glass of whiskey. You can wank any time. You can wear that shirt again, and again. Being single is fucking awesome.

But if you don't like yourself first, it's going to suck. But it's going to suck whether or not you have a partner if you're struggling with self esteem and self care issues.

Eventually if you keep your eyes open you'll find someone you're actually compatible with and interested with. THEN ASK THEM OUT. You probably won't even have to ask them out. It'll just happen. They might even ask you out.
posted by loquacious at 10:48 AM on July 5, 2011 [39 favorites]


(I don't even want to talk about the implicit threat there--the oh, if I was really doing what I wanted kind of attitude.

You just did. See, also not really calling a guy a rapist, just saying that one day he'll show them all. I'm pretty sure that was not about winning the state tulip fair or overturning established paradigms in the field of color matching.

If we could please avoid mentally superimposing ski masks on some of the men here, then announcing the fear one has in reaction to the vision conjured up, that would be a little more productive to reasonable discourse.
posted by adipocere at 10:53 AM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


> So. Much. Hate. For you people.

Back atcha :D
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:56 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having read the remainder of your comment, hincandenza, whatever problem you have with me is the least of your issues, and I don't say this to mock you, but because your comment is genuinely something that raises concern. Honestly, speak to somebody. You're in a very unhealthy state, and I suspect a lot of your experience of this thread is being mediated by that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:01 AM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Okay, then I'll state it directly. I feel uncomfortable when hincandenza states that he hates women and men who agree with the women who have spoken up here, that he resents toeing the boundaries of respectful discourse with the opposite sex, that he blames women for teaching him to do so but also for his failure to connect with women. Many women and men have already stated that no one here believes that someone is a rapist for asking someone out--in fact, we've said that we didn't even feel that the guy in question was a rapist, but that his actions were a poor choice in light of the situation, that it's better to respect women when they say that don't want to be hit on and not do that, because it's uncomfortable, because some men are rapists, and it's difficult for a tired woman in an enclosed space to tell the difference. And yet he says that if he acted as he actually wanted, his actions would see him labeled as "a rapist and a murderer and a sociopath."

There is a general specter of contempt and disdain there, and a lot of resentment, and it makes me uncomfortable.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:03 AM on July 5, 2011 [17 favorites]


Back atcha :D

Seeing someone in pain who is also maybe being a jerk is a great opportunity to take the high road. Or just think "Is my comment making this problem better, or making it worse?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:04 AM on July 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


But man, am I lonely. And when the inevitable end comes for me, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you winnowed out another loser from the gene pool, and that I adopted your perfect strategy, gaining your unknowing approval as the perfect man, and if everyone did what I did the species would die out in a generation.


I think a lot of people go on OKCupid, or similar? I mean, that's an environment where everyone you encounter is at least somewhat receptive to the idea of getting into a relationship, and a selectable group might be interested in getting into a relationship with you, specifically. That might be a way to avoid feeling intrusive?

I mean, after maybe looking into some therapy?

Meant quite sincerely - this has taken a bit of a turn for the weird and worrying.

That's between this and Mattmangel deciding to hate Watson, and then finding PZ Meyer's 20-year old daughter in what feels, narratalogically, like it's meant to be a coup de grace ... it kind of reminds me of those noir stories where the investigator found the Senator's gay/communist/junkie son. Seriously, Mattmangel, what's the goal here?
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:08 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the record: I don't think that hincandenza is a rapist, and I'm sorry he hasn't found a romantic situation that's worked for him, and I hope he does. But it's very, very difficult for me to hear discourse that paints women with such a broad, ugly brush, that's so heavy with resentment and anger, and not feel uncomfortable, in a space that's usually a very safe space. Like immlass, it's really shaken my faith in metafilter's ability to have reasonable conversations about women's experiences.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:09 AM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


the fundamental definition of feminism.

I'm not a feminist because I've learned the hard way that all words that end with ism are bad words (except one*). That is, "ism" suggests ideology and ideology suggests power and power corrupts.

That said, I do believe that women deserve every right that men deserve.


* the one "ism" word I can get behind is witticism; the world needs more witticisms, and witticists; long live the Witticist Internationale.
posted by philip-random at 11:10 AM on July 5, 2011


I would like to see hincandenza banned. He fucking scares me. Reminds me of my abusive dad! I don't want to take the high road, I want him out. Dealt with and done. That's what a healthy gut reaction to his violently angry gendered martyrdom looks like, folks.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:10 AM on July 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


What a freaking katamari ball of misaligned expectations and old wounds this is. Starting right from dude who fucked up on the elevator to what Watson means when she talks about it (in the video, it's presented as kind of a joke and not a huge trauma – she doesn't actually morph into a howling Lydia Lunch the instant after she describes the incident, though it'd be better if she did, she's not the most engaging speaker) to, do you react by going "I know, right? Tell it!" or "WE MUST FIX THIS" and it just compounds scar after scar after miscommunication after miscommunication exponentially from there.

And I think Talez up at the very beginning has the right of it. This kind of drama is going to generate this kind of discussion, and, well – when was the last time a blog-drama thread went well anyway? I don't think you moderator-types need people flagging a post to delete it. You can just look at it and go "that never works" and in this case you'd be right.
posted by furiousthought at 11:13 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eventually if you keep your eyes open you'll find someone you're actually compatible with and interested with. THEN ASK THEM OUT. You probably won't even have to ask them out. It'll just happen. They might even ask you out.

I just want to say that I have seen loquacious in action, so to speak, and he is really good at figuring out when to talk to somebody, and how to talk to them, and how to get that phone number or coffee date or future friendship. And (sorry, loq!) he's not some guy that everyone would be all "Wow, he's the best-looking person I've ever seen!" His hair can get a little wacky. Sometimes he wears these glasses that people might think are weird. He does not wear $3,000 Armani suits. But he is genuine and friendly and genuinely interested in people as people. He does not "hate us all," and he does not hate himself, and that really shines through and makes him beautiful.
posted by rtha at 11:14 AM on July 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


There is a general specter of contempt and disdain there, and a lot of resentment, and it makes me uncomfortable.

I mean, that's kind of how it works, this vicious cycle. You get uncomfortable and he gets resentful. Everyone needs to stop for it to stop. This thread keeps escalating to Defcon5 because nobody can put down their weapons first. Maybe men should because the bad apples on our side are actually hurting people physically while dickhead women are just shaming nerd guys which only hurts in the heart place. But it's pretty hard to do when you also hate yourself for not just getting over it and being cool like all the cool bros smirking in their well-turned clothes sliding into seduction from a lifetime of being winners. It's not easy to just go Oh Well That's The Way of the World I Guess I'd Better Take Up Bowling and Accept that 50% of the Time My Attraction To Women Comes Off As Creepy.

These are natural reactions...the 'Yikes Yuck' and the 'Ugh Bitch'. Maybe we could try not listening to those baser instincts for a change? I think the first step is for everyone to assume that whoever we are talking to in this thread is a rational person who is neither a misogynist nor a hurtful snob. Maybe we can start there. Maybe it would help to believe in a soul? JK! kinda
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:16 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's what a healthy gut reaction to his violently angry gendered martyrdom looks like, folks.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur


"healthy" is not the word that came to my mind.
posted by philip-random at 11:18 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


If we could please avoid mentally superimposing ski masks on some of the men here, then announcing the fear one has in reaction to the vision conjured up, that would be a little more productive to reasonable discourse.

What reasonable discourse is to be had with someone who essentially blames me because he's not getting laid, and I have a vagina, and says he hates me?

Oh, but he's hurting, be nice. Bullshit. He loves to play the victim as an excuse to lash out at random people (usually women), while at the same time trying to convince us that he's super-nice to women. Yeah fucking right.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:18 AM on July 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


Pedantic: DEFCON 5 is the least severe condition on the scale; you escalate towards DEFCON 1.
posted by cgc373 at 11:20 AM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


These are natural reactions...the 'Yikes Yuck' and the 'Ugh Bitch'. Maybe we could try not listening to those baser instincts for a change?

Oh, fuck this noise. I have instincts about what is normal and what is creepy and likely to get me harassed/assaulted and I'll be damned if I give those up to be "nicer" because not getting laid = excuse for misogyny and sexism.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:20 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


hincandenza, the entirety of the rest of your comment utterly belies the statement:
I can make my peace with being a loser in life, with dying alone.

I honestly have no idea where to go from here but that comment is the exact opposite of making peace with anything.
posted by Skorgu at 11:20 AM on July 5, 2011


I would like to see hincandenza banned. He fucking scares me. Reminds me of my abusive dad! I don't want to take the high road, I want him out. Dealt with and done. That's what a healthy gut reaction to his violently angry gendered martyrdom looks like, folks.


FUCK YES. I agree with this 100%.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:21 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


hincandenza: "Because awkward != unsafe?

Who is the best judge of whether she feels unsafe here? Her, or the guy propositioning her for sex at 4am -- after she had just given a talk about unwanted sexual advances at conferences? Me? You? When someone says they feel threatened, our instinctive reaction should not be to dismiss them and say, "No, you don't."

So yes, awkward ≠ unsafe. Awkward ≠ threat. What does she say about it? Does she say it was an awkward, entirely safe and unthreatening encounter? (No.)

But man, am I lonely. And when the inevitable end comes for me, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you winnowed out another loser from the gene pool, and that I adopted your perfect strategy, gaining your unknowing approval as the perfect man, and if everyone did what I did the species would die out in a generation.

*sigh* I'm sorry you're lonely. Truly, I am. And I'm sorry that you're having such a difficult time of it. But this isn't about winnowing you out of the gene pool. It's about creating an environment that provides women with a privilege and comfort that men have literally enjoyed for generations. The right to be able to speak their minds without being summarily dismissed because of their gender. The right to not be objectified and demeaned. Not to be threatened because someone feels that what they say is less important than what they are. Empowering women to speak their minds and speak out when they feel threatened or worse is a good thing.

So this is what you want for me. Isolation, then death.
...
And still, I ask no one out, because to do so would make me a rapist and a murderer and a sociopath.
...
So THAT is how I read your words. And that's why, when I read your words, I hate you all so very, very, very much. Because I read your words as the words of hypocrites, liars, and haters. Because despite being a huge loser in life and love, you'll jump down my throat to tar me as a monster, me and people like me, and say that in your Just World ramblings, I must deserve this isolation, and bear the burden of being responsible for all the asshole boyfriends, the abusers, and the rapists- that that, somehow, is also my cross to bear.

As far as I have seen, no one is saying that all men everywhere are assholes and rapists. No one is tarring us all with that brush in any way shape or form. But it would be nice if we men were to keep in mind that there are dynamics and power imbalances in gender interactions, and that women do not necessarily see these things the way we do.
posted by zarq at 11:21 AM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:22 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What this thread needs is a massive Sting derail.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:22 AM on July 5, 2011


I'd occasionally get hit on by gay men on Capitol Hill. It was awkward for me, but I just politely rejected it and they moved on. I didn't call it unsafe or threatening, and didn't vlog about it on the internet. It was a thing that happened, then it was over. Big effin' deal. Sure, I suppose they could have physically threatened me, but that basically never happened- although I've been attacked on the street by drunk/homeless people a couple of times. I don't however hate homeless people because of it, or act like they should all be pre-emptively jailed so I can feel marginally safer for my crippling phobias.

Big effin' deal

If it were a big deal to just one other person that should be respected--but it's a big deal many others.
posted by marimeko at 11:29 AM on July 5, 2011


Man, I'm glad I took a day from the internet yesterday even though it was a with a migraine. I am also one of the people who participated and was encouraged by the conversation in the Schroedinger's Rapist thread. I do remember a month or two later that had the types of comments that made it seem that perhaps the SR thread wasn't as heartening as I believed. Since then, like immlass, my optimism has radically waned.

This woman, and countless others, have made it clear what kind of behavior they find problematic. For me the problem hasn't been expressing what behavior is problematic, it's getting people to believe that I REALLY DO FIND THIS BEHAVIOR PROBLEMATIC and yeah I'm really disheartened because we not only have to have this conversation over and over, but that to me it doesn't seem like it shouldn't be that hard to accept someone's (male OR female) stated boundaries at face value.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:29 AM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm drowning in loneliness, too, hincandenza, but you can't let hatred be the result of that.

I think calling for hincandenza to be banned is a deeply awful thing to do.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:31 AM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I really don't think it's deeply awful. This is a community, there are boundaries.

That said I don't think publicly calling for bans is going to help de-escalate what's going on here. The mods saw what he said; let them handle it.
posted by gerryblog at 11:34 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean, that's kind of how it works, this vicious cycle. You get uncomfortable and he gets resentful. Everyone needs to stop for it to stop.

Right, well, why isn't anyone telling the man spewing vitriol to cut it out? Why is it that the women who respond--as you say, fairly naturally--with discomfort are the ones who are tut-tutted? Why is it okay for him to write a long screed about why he hates us, and why is it our job to turn the other cheek?

I'm clearly not, by any means, the only woman uncomfortable here. It's not easy to just go Oh Well That's The Way of the World I Guess I'd Better Take My Lumps and Let Someone Scream At Me and My Gender Across the Internet About All of Our Perceived Crimes Against Men and How We Withhold Sex from Nice Guys and Only Sleep with Douches and We're Hypocrites and Deserve Hate!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:36 AM on July 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


So THAT is how I read your words. And that's why, when I read your words, I hate you all so very, very, very much. Because I read your words as the words of hypocrites, liars, and haters. Because despite being a huge loser in life and love, you'll jump down my throat to tar me as a monster, me and people like me, and say that in your Just World ramblings, I must deserve this isolation, and bear the burden of being responsible for all the asshole boyfriends, the abusers, and the rapists- that that, somehow, is also my cross to bear. I can make my peace with being a loser in life, with dying alone. I can't make my peace with people who don't know me telling me I'm more responsible than them, somehow, for the jerks in the world, like this is my problem to fix, like I'm to blame in some way, or certainly just like them.


Hincandenza, one of the least attractive traits in anyone, whether they are classically handsome or pretty or not, is extreme neediness. I submit that this is the issue you are dealing with. I'm not condemning-I used to be in that exact same boat years ago, and it sucks.
But I refuse to sit here and allow you to blame us women for your problem, because altho it sucks to be lonely, it sucks way worse to be harrassed or attacked or raped.

Hie thee to a counselor and learn to be assertive rather than aggressive, and while you are at it learn to appreciate yourself and how to get your worth from within rather than female validation. You'd be surprised how well that works. It worked awesomely for me.

And ditch the bitterness. That stuff's poison.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:37 AM on July 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


I agree entirely with everything you just said Pho. But I think everyone is saying that he needs to cut it out, including me in that comment you quoted.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:38 AM on July 5, 2011


As part of a group that has dominated pretty much every conversation we've ever deigned to step into, pretty much everywhere, since the beginning of conversations...I DEMAND TO BE HEARD.
posted by Pants McCracky at 11:38 AM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think we have all experienced loneliness, and it's a terrible thing when it is unwanted. I am deeply sympathetic to the experience, and, having worked with disabled people who could not leave their homes and had no family they could rely on, I know it is often not the fault of the lonely person.

But loneliness does not necessarily lead contempt or hate. It's so passing rare that somebody is accused of being a rapist for flirting as to be a non-issue, but there are levels of flirting. A certain amount of it is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged -- it tends to make people more comfortable, and feel good about themselves. But a lot of men go from 0 to 60 in five seconds, like some awful race car ad. My girlfriend can't walk alone without men literally demanding her attention and then getting resentful when they don't get it, like the women of the world owe them her time.

Nobody ever owes anybody their time. No man was born being owed a smile from a woman, much less a fuck. And so it's important to remember that as lonely as we may feel sometimes, and as unjust as it often is, it's not because we are owed something we have not gotten. If the world was a fair place, we could all count on a certain amount of attention and affection. But the fact that the world is not fair does not mean women are oppressing people by not giving their attention to whoever demands it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:39 AM on July 5, 2011 [16 favorites]


Does it help to know that you can be a totally hoopy smooth feminist dude who gets laid a lot and still be drowning in an ocean of lonely?

I can't imagine that would help but there you go.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:42 AM on July 5, 2011


"But man, am I lonely. And when the inevitable end comes for me, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you winnowed out another loser from the gene pool, and that I adopted your perfect strategy, gaining your unknowing approval as the perfect man, and if everyone did what I did the species would die out in a generation."

Well, you win some, you lose some.

I mean, plenty of other guys manage to not confuse archaic politeness and dogmatic beliefs in algorithms of gender relations with actually treating women like people, and likewise, many guys manage not to resent every woman who doesn't cure said dude's deep-seated, therapy-worthy loneliness with what would no doubt be totally worthwhile sex (because your attitude just screams "over-estimation of perfunctory sexual skills").

At least some of those guys manage to get laid, even without conflating women with some magical vagina-bestowing fairies that will reward door-holding with pussy.

So, yeah, either you're doing it totally fucking wrong and blaming everyone else for that, or you've correctly interpreted all the social cues and we're headed for species-wide extinction. I'm willing to roll those dice.
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 AM on July 5, 2011 [18 favorites]


I think calling for hincandenza to be banned is a deeply awful thing to do.

He has done this in numerous threads, and this is just one that has survived. It seems to be at least 50% of his reason for being here--telling us all about how women are horrible people and he's going to die alone and it's all our fault for being horrible and shallow and not telling him what we REALLY want and blah blah blah women are awful and he hates us all.

This is interspersed with garden-variety misogyny and nastiness, a lot of which is deleted.

And then people in this thread are telling the women who don't like being the target of intense hatred that we should be "nicer", his hatred is coming from a place of hurt, whatever.

I, for one, am sick of being the target of his intense misogyny and want him to GTFO. He already hates me because I'm a woman and/or a feminist and has made that clear for years, so I'm sure he'll be able to survive this particular sentiment.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:45 AM on July 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


From the original thread:
This entire thread consists of some women (and a few transgender men, whose right to speak "as women" strikes me as fundamentally illogical in this situation; and a few other men who are terribly, terribly concerned to appear progressive) screaming that men just don't get what it's like to have a female body in the world.
I don't want to contribute to a derail in that thread (so I'm contributing to a derail in this one) but I would really like fourcheesemac to explain why it is fundamentally illogical for a person who has years of life experience with having a female body and being perceived as female by the rest of the world to participate in a thread discussing those experiences.
posted by titus n. owl at 11:47 AM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it really is one of those endless hobbyhorses for Hincandenza, and it's one that I can understand women being especially fed up with — I have the privilege of seeing it as ridiculous sad sack moaning from someone who's confused any thread involving sex with the proper time to get the therapy he so richly needs.

I was even surprised pretty recently when I stumbled onto a Hincandenza comment that was on topic and didn't invoke dying alone even once and was surprised, like, hey, this guy has other interests besides moping!
posted by klangklangston at 11:49 AM on July 5, 2011


So. Much. Hate.

This is why you're lonely. This is the only reason.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:51 AM on July 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Based on many of your comments, the young rope-rider, I have come to the conclusion have issues with men. Is it cool with you if I make an argument supporting that conclusion next time it comes up? Maybe call for you to be banned? Or would it better if I just engage your words as they appear on screen and not try to play armchair psychologist to try and explain why you said you said?

Right, well, why isn't anyone telling the man spewing vitriol to cut it out?

Perspective is a funny thing. From where I'm sitting *everyone* is telling "the man" (ortho, hal, in this case) to cut it out, but very few ever say anything to "the woman"* spewing vitriol.

(* the "angry feminist" more accurately, who is just as often male as female)

posted by Dano St at 11:58 AM on July 5, 2011


Yeah, it really is one of those endless hobbyhorses for Hincandenza

It is, and it's one that pretty much needs to stop being so. I am sorry you are hurting, hincandenza, but this needs to stop being an Oh, It's That Thing He Does trope in threads about dating/socializing/creepy-or-not stuff. If you want to talk about your personal experiences in a way that doesn't involve "this is why you all suck/this is why I hate you" stuff, that's one thing, but the kind of stuff you just posted upthread needs to stop happening on the site. Put it on a blog if you need to write it down somewhere on the internet.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:58 AM on July 5, 2011 [23 favorites]


Thank you, cortex. I appreciate that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:01 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have the privilege of seeing it as ridiculous sad sack moaning from someone who's confused any thread involving sex with the proper time to get the therapy he so richly needs.

Charming.
posted by Trurl at 12:03 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


hincandenza

stop reading metafilter. I promise you this is the cure. mefi is a very specific space, very specialized in terms of demographics and intellectual bent, and you will learn nothing about social interaction from these types of threads. people are professionals at lunging at words on here and the vastness and vagueness and beautiful open space that is true connection is totally lost in these little jabs. Don't discuss it. Don't think about it. Eject it. Go learn for yourself.
posted by the mad poster! at 12:04 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


hincandenza, I am sorry that you are in so much pain. Many other comments in this thread have already pointed out the many issues with your "So. Much. Hate." screed, I won't add to that because I don't think I have anything to say that will be meaningfully different from the advice you've already gotten.

What I can do is offer you the contact information for a therapist that helped me get out of the same kind of thinking that you're exhibiting here. He's a very good, very gentle man who will treat you with dignity and respect, and I really do think that he could help you. He's located in the Green Lake/Wallingford area. If you are interested, please MeMail me and I will send you his contact info. If you're not interested, I won't be offended.
posted by palomar at 12:05 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I had my mind totally messed up from reading too many of these threads too that's why I know. It all made a lot more sense to me when I stopped thinking about whatever I read on mefi as a way to referee my conceptions of things. Just... breathe. Let people on here do their thing. Find some other social spaces to explore in. And go do your thing.
posted by the mad poster! at 12:06 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Feel free to call me out if you want to, Trurl. Otherwise, I'm liable to see your neediness as obnoxious.
posted by klangklangston at 12:07 PM on July 5, 2011


hincandenza, I am sorry you are in so much pain and are so lonely. The fact that women make choices to avoid being verbally, physically, or sexually assaulted by men is, however, not the source of your pain.

I strongly urge you to contact palomar for the offer of a referral to a good therapist. You do not have to keep suffering, and you do not have to continue to hate women (and men who don't hate women?) as the manifestation of your suffering.
posted by scody at 12:15 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really, really wish the thread hadn't spun the way it did, into a shouting match about whether women are right to fear rape or not from men. Not that that is not a conversation worth having, but it ended up burying the topic of the post, which was about ways to make conferences more welcoming to women. You can mock that debate as being unimportant in a world where there are far more horrific issues that women deal with, but I'm not sure why you'd do that. It assumes that women who want a less sexualised conference atmosphere, or at least one where the assumption isn't that one is there to be hit on, are not also interested in other issues women face. But some of us have had repeated uncomfortable experiences where we've left the conference feeling that we are not listened to as peers, but tolerated as potential bedmates. Asking people to behave appropriately is not an intolerable burden that will end the future of the human race and derail all biological imperatives. And how else are people supposed to know how to behave appropriately unless someone points that out? Social interactions are guided by rules. Sometimes those rules change as society does and as new groups enter certain spheres. There is nothing to be feared in that.

(Though some of the behaviour I've seen at conferences has made me wonder what was going on at them before women started attending. Were they all gay orgies? Or awkward male homosociality sessions, where bars were filled with guys asking each other out?)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:21 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Metatalk: an acceptable suppression of gut reactions
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:22 PM on July 5, 2011


explain why it is fundamentally illogical for a person who has years of life experience with having a female body and being perceived as female by the rest of the world to participate in a thread discussing those experiences.

As with nearly every clarification I posted in the original thread, my first response is, I didn't say that. I certainly didn't say transgender people shouldn't *participate.*

"Fundamentally illogical" was overstated. I withdraw it and apologize. I will point out that many radical feminists also dispute the right of transgendered women to speak "as a woman" about their experiences. My point is simply that being socialized as a male (and imbibing patriarchy's representation of the feminine alternative) is somewhat different from being a biological woman. In many ways, from the point of view of discrimination, sexual abuse, and rape, and as was pointed out in the thread, it is arguably *worse.*

The reason I got heated about it in the thread is that loquacious, in the course of characterizing a gender-ambiguous perspective, also launched the seriously crazy statistic that "something like 50 to 75 percent of women have been raped." I should not have conflated my dispute with that figure (and its rhetoric) with the perspective of a self-proclaimed "dude in a dress" to speak on behalf of women everywhere as that particular comment did. It also contained the blatantly sexist line, "women hold up more than half the sky." Paraphrasing Chairman Mao in one of his better moments is cool, I guess. But that statement is no less sexist than saying men should have more rights than women.

We're all in this together, is my view. I find myself in the odd position of being fully supportive of Rebecca Watson's right to make her point, the point she made itself, and the general argument that men need to be conscious of these issues and change some very ingrained behaviors, yet not willing to accede to the view that what Watson experienced in the elevator was any sort of precursor to actual rape, nor representative of a rape-tolerant culture, nor all that unusual (which makes it no less worthy of commentary). I simply note that it's *metafilter* that's made this all about rape and loneliness and fear and humiliation and autism spectrum disorders. In my view, it was one guy acting boorish and insensitive, in a way too many others might under such circumstances, and with the added irony of directly undermining the goals of the group to improve its gender dynamics. Lots of lessons to learn.

But instead it turned, as these things always do, into a Rorshach test, and one that hits a little close to home in a community made up of -- let's face it -- a lot of folks of the sort who'd like to think themselves above this sort of thing, but recognize that they aren't (and a whole lot of nerds of all sorts who identify with both protagonists in the situation).

I regret wading in at all. I don't recognize the situation Watson described as relevant to my own conduct. I don't identify (much) as a nerd. I think of myself as someone who respects women, works collaboratively and professionally with more women than men, has more female than male students and colleagues these days, and yet also as a male who can reflect on 40-odd years of inhabiting this particular body and brain -- 40 years of massive transformation in the gender politics of my particular social niche, in academia especially.

I was once asked to give a paper on panel at a major conference, on feminist politics in indigenous societies. It was a big double panel, on which I was not only the only male, but one of only two white people from the United States. The panel chair jokingly introduced me as the token white male on stage.

It felt fucking awesome.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:25 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Feel free to call me out if you want to, Trurl.

OK.

As ugly as hicandenza's comment was, yours was uglier - and with less excuse.

It was an embarrassment to the site and you should feel ashamed of yourself.
posted by Trurl at 12:27 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sure, I suppose they could have physically threatened me, but that basically never happened

Right, so you can't really comment on it. Women are physically threatened all the time.

By the way, I was never any good at picking up women either. That's pretty much why I went for online dating exclusively. It worked for me because I knew if a woman responded positively, it was because she actually wanted to date me. So I didn't have to feel out if she was interested in eventually getting physical with a guy because that's effectively what it means to put yourself on a dating site.

I realize there are some guys who even manage to come off as creepy on a dating site too, but it's still going to better than, say, approaching a stranger at a book store.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:31 PM on July 5, 2011


It was an embarrassment to the site and you should feel ashamed of yourself.

I bet you wouldn't feel that way if you found klangklangston attractive!
posted by jess at 12:34 PM on July 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Guys this thread is getting ugly and really, really personal. Can we please all steer away from making this thread about individual members or groups of people?
posted by Deathalicious at 12:34 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


The bile must flow!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:35 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


That would be superb, yes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:36 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also want to say that in my view there is an almost willful level of misrepresentation going on in the original thread, and here, and in too many such discussions here. It's happening to almost anyone who takes any sort of nuanced position: someone else comes back and characterizes it in the most extreme possible way (for example, "the right to speak 'as women'" becomes their right "to participate" and referring to the very well documented prominence of sexual drives in male brain function becomes a charge that all men are "leering at women all the time,")

This is a bad thing for fair and open debate, and it is especially easy to do when paraphrasing someone else in an angry way. I've done it myself, probably in that very thread, so I'm not pleading innocent. But when the subject is heated and close to people's deeply held views and controversial, we could all be a little more careful about the way we represent each other's views -- just a little more direct quotation would help, in place of strident paraphrase.

It is not unrelated to the fantastic embellishment of the bare facts of the original elevator encounter story that have also hardened into folklore in that thread.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:36 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am so, so glad that what I really am is just a (genderless) butt elephant.
posted by butt elephant at 12:38 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


(Though some of the behaviour I've seen at conferences has made me wonder what was going on at them before women started attending. Were they all gay orgies? Or awkward male homosociality sessions, where bars were filled with guys asking each other out?)

A lot of guys tossing back extra gin and tonics, carefully spinning the tie pin holding back their red ties, crossing their legs just so to briefly display a white athletic sock contrasting with the black dress shoes. Little foldout maps from the gas station they stopped by on the way into town with the locations of by-the-hour hotels, but not the conference hotel itself, circled. "Do you ... travel a lot?" Fiddling with your wedding band.

Later: "The wife, she wouldn't understand."
posted by adipocere at 12:39 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I bet you wouldn't feel that way if you found klangklangston attractive!

I understand why you're angry. I've been following this thread closely and I've agreed with many of your points so please take this in the spirit it's delivered: please don't do this. It's fuel to a fire already burning. If you're worn out from this exchange please consider taking a break and coming back with less sarcasm.
posted by nuala at 12:39 PM on July 5, 2011


"Fundamentally illogical" was overstated. I withdraw it and apologize. I will point out that many radical feminists also dispute the right of transgendered women to speak "as a woman" about their experiences. My point is simply that being socialized as a male (and imbibing patriarchy's representation of the feminine alternative) is somewhat different from being a biological woman. In many ways, from the point of view of discrimination, sexual abuse, and rape, and as was pointed out in the thread, it is arguably *worse.*

Oh. You originally said "transgendered men", who are men who were considered female at birth and generally raised and socialized as though they were girls/women.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:43 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will point out that many radical feminists also dispute the right of transgendered women to speak "as a woman" about their experiences.

Meh. Sheila Jeffreys. Janice Raymond. A few acolytes here and there. But to be correct, what you actually said was:

This entire thread consists of some women (and a few transgender men, whose right to speak "as women" strikes me as fundamentally illogical in this situation; and a few other men who are terribly, terribly concerned to appear progressive) screaming that men just don't get what it's like to have a female body in the world. And some men, mostly with odd self-esteem issues, insisting that it's a mean old world full of women who have all the real power and how can men ever get laid if they can't sometimes seem a little rapey?


In context, it's pretty clear that all the descriptions here are intended to be pejorative. Women don't talk - they "scream". Men who agree with them are doing so to "appear progressive". Transwomen are not women at all, but "transgender men".

It's nice glad that you are now doing this frenetic "I meant it was so much harder to be a transwoman" rowback, but, dude, own your words.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:44 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


titus n. owl :I would really like fourcheesemac to explain why it is fundamentally illogical for a person who has years of life experience with having a female body and being perceived as female by the rest of the world to participate in a thread discussing those experiences.

Och... I missed the "transgender men acting as women quote" from him until you re-quoted it :( Now I would have something to be miffed about if I hadn't had such a nice time last evening :) As it is, I just chalk it up to the kind of continued ignorance cum trolling for attention that I see in that person's posts regularly. You can't tell a brick wall to be a soft pillow so I expect it's best to not bang your head up against certain thing in the world. :)
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:44 PM on July 5, 2011


Though some of the behaviour I've seen at conferences has made me wonder what was going on at them before women started attending. Were they all gay orgies?

Sex work.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:44 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm sad about hincandenza's choice of username, because I love that book. I don't agree he should be banned, but maybe a different username would be a nice change of pace.

Also, hincandenza's post about hating women reminds me of some things I saw on Metachat a long time ago (and the much lower level of moderation on metachat made it too difficult for me to spend time there) -- a lot of men bringing all this aggression and sadness and lonelines out and making it all about the women and "why can't you just smile?" "what's wrong with attention?"etc. and went into being the nice guy and hating women. Honestly, people who are talking like that do need therapy. That's a terrible way to go through life and it's not good for any of us. It's more common than we think, as well.

hincandenza, maybe if you can forget about this being about men and women, and instead people, remember David Foster Wallace's This is Water.

The capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness - awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: "This is water, this is water."

posted by sweetkid at 12:45 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


young rope-rider, I did, I misspoke, and I apologize. I meant transgendered women.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:45 PM on July 5, 2011


Poet_Lariat, can you please stop lableing every longstanding member who you disagree with as a troll?
posted by spaltavian at 12:50 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


poet-lariat, I'd be delighted to learn in more detail why you are quite so offended by the point that a transgendered woman's experience is not typical of 'women's' experience more generally, quite specifically because of differences in socialization and because transgendered persons (of either gender) face unique, and often significantly worse, levels and kinds of discrimination and physical violence.

This is what I mean. You're reacting to a caricature, like I said "trans folks should just shut up about this." I said nothing of the sort. But I apologize if I said something I did not intend to say that you found particularly offensive.

On preview, thank you spaltavian. I can be an asshole, but I'm committed to the debate.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:52 PM on July 5, 2011


So, question, fcm, since that was just misspeaking. When you go on to say:

But I have some news from the basics of mammalian biology, let alone human psychology. If your goal is to have men "not see you as a sexual object," then you had best put on your burka, and even then you'd best stay home (usually in the role of one man's sexual object). There is no way a straight human male can avoid seeing (potentially) any human female as a sexual object, and (in practice) most human females as such. That is the male brain, and if you don't like it, start building a spaceship or move into a convent.


Leaving aside the weird religiousy stuff about burqas, sexual objects and convents for the moment - do transwomen feature in this count? Would you say that a statistically noticeable number of the women that you've seen as sexual objects, as a man, were in fact transwomen?
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:52 PM on July 5, 2011


I don't really understand the question. The "religousy" stuff was a reference to a kind of regime (which we had in the west) in which the "sexual property" status of women was a central social and economic institution. It's still found all over the world, and (as I said, ironically) it is heavily defended by (if not central to) many religious traditions. Damn right atheists should work through this and treat women as full agents and subjects.

On the transwomen question, I just can't say. First, I didn't personalize it. My comment was not "when I walk down the street I want to fuck every woman I see." (So, I see what you did there with the pronouns, running order . . . and it's part of the strategy I'm calling out of polemical paraphrase.) Have I ever been attracted personally to a transwoman? I have no idea, since I live in New York and am undoubtedly surrounded by transgendered people all the time in many different settings, and I'm sure I could have mistaken a transwoman for a biological woman, yeah. Men respond instinctively to elements of feminine behavior that are specifically learned and exaggerated by many trans people, as some very interesting work on language has shown.

But we're obviously leaving the whole spectrum of non-heteronormative sexuality to the side here, aren't we? To bring it up raises a million qualifications that are not being discussed at all (except in occasional mentions, like hincadenza's tale of being hit on by gay men growing up).

I'm fairly certain there is a biological explanation for the diversity of human sexuality and gender orientation; transgendering of some sort is found in all human cultures, and is central to many human rituals. As I think I said in an earlier thread, if you believe that homosexuality as such is innate and not merely a learned/socialized behavior, you already believe the same thing I do about biology and sexuality.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:00 PM on July 5, 2011


"My point is simply that being socialized as a male (and imbibing patriarchy's representation of the feminine alternative) is somewhat different from being a biological woman. "

Why do you not consider that decades of socialization as a female, after transition, gives one the more or less same socialization as a woman? There's also the bit of nastiness of referring to transsexual women as "transgendered men" which I see that you have refrained from doing in your later posts. I find your new tact only somewhat less offensive.

Obviously newly transitioned women do not share the same previous social experience as women who were born women. But you know what? We suffer from the same sort of crap right from the start. My lack of socialization 25 years ago did not prevent my 30% drop in income that occurred within 6 month of transition nor did it prevent the assault and rape attempt as I was entering into my car after a night at the club. Neither did it stop me getting catcalled every fucking time I walked along Venice blvd to the bus station to get to work. Those are all feminist issues - issues caused by bad male behavior - that affected me just as much as any other woman despite my admitted lack of gendertypical socialization. That was 25 years ago but it doesn't take long at all to gain all the rich wealth and knowledge that arises as a consequence from such bad behaviors.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:01 PM on July 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


I would like to see hincandenza banned
ermm.... I don't think that is how things work around here. Metafilter | Community Weblog.
Do you understand the community bit - it means he has every right to be here as you. Please engage or back out and take your posse with you.
There's a big scream for help or understanding and your reaction comes off as burn the witch.
posted by adamvasco at 1:02 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

poet-lariat, I'd be delighted to learn in more detail why you are quite so offended by the point that a transgendered woman's experience is not typical of 'women's' experience more generally
I'm a little confused about what women's experiences count as the "typical 'women's' experience", and which women you think are required to explain how their experience jibes with it.
posted by craichead at 1:07 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


What is it that attracts me to threads like this? It's so obviously such a stupendous waste of time, and mostly discomfiting, yet I've read all of this and the original. There's something really interesting going on here that I don't seem to understand at all.
posted by Estragon at 1:08 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I bet you wouldn't feel that way if you found klangklangston attractive!

That the community is blind to the irony in making this kind of hateful comment once again illuminates the double standard at hand.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:14 PM on July 5, 2011


adamvasco, do you understand the English language sequence "I would like to see"?

I don't have a posse. What I do seem to have here is a group of female users who are also very disturbed by this user's angry, hateful, and misogynistic posting history and sometime targeting of us as individuals. Fortunately, the mods agree this behavior needs to stop and will no longer be tolerated.

And I don't think it's doing hincandenza any harm to know that his misanthropic ire evokes literal anxious nausea for some readers. I think he should know that.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:15 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Over the years I have known quite a few transwomen, some fairly well.

As a straight woman I have absolutely no problem believing that as they presented as women they were treated as women. And for the sake of this argument I think they have a unique perspective that deserves to be heard. The fact that people want to argue with them almost certainly proves their point-because, hey, to be a woman? It's like some people think we're not worth listening to.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:16 PM on July 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


I've been following all the tangled threads.

I understand how personal the discussions have become, because folks are unerringly hitting each other's buttons. We all have personal histories that are somehow relevant.

But I'd like to start my comment from the original issue: Watson participating in the conference, invited to speak to the possibility of increasing female participation, and stating she wants to be seen as more than her gender, which here means not getting hit on. Then politely reiterating on her vlog "please don't do this " - after getting hit on.

She wasn't hysterical, nor being a bitch, nor comparing her discomfort to enduring female circumcision in Islamic countries.

What some don't seem to appreciate is that this is a spectrum. If you ignore or disregard or dismiss a person's opinions, desires or feelings about how they wish to be treated, you are saying that that person is less important that you are. So ultimately, whatever the issue, whatever the circumstances, their opinions or desires or feelings are always less important than yours. At the far end of the spectrum, this means you then treat them as you wish. Because of history, conditioning and personal experience, women here associate their stated preferences being disregarded to possibly having their safety actively threatened. Because it is a spectrum.

Yes, I fully understand that clumsy guys make inept approaches sometimes, and no, that doesn't make then "losers" in my eyes. (That's a whole 'nother hot topic I'd like to discuss some other time - the whole uniquely American dichotomy of losers/winners.) Nor does it make them potential rapists. But in the particular circumstances described in the original incident, the actions of the guy concerned are on the spectrum.
posted by likeso at 1:19 PM on July 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


>I bet you wouldn't feel that way if you found klangklangston attractive!

That the community is blind to the irony in making this kind of hateful comment once again illuminates the double standard at hand.


I believe the community instead accurately ascertained that comment as a joke. Perhaps a misguided one, but a joke nonetheless, which pokes fun at the "I bet she wouldn't have turned the guy down for coffee if he was cute" argument.

In the immortal words of Charlie Brown: "Don't you know sarcasm when you hear it?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:19 PM on July 5, 2011


Telling victims they need to get a sense of humor is one of the calling cards of a bully. Either engage with the discussion, or don't, but don't tell people you deliberately hurt to laugh it off.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


poet-lariat, I referred exactly once, and by admitted and apologized for mistake, to "transgendered men." That seems a straw man to me, or a willful decision to take offense where none was intended or otherwise implied by anything else I said. I'm not up enough on the lingo. It's the very definition of PC to use that as a substitute cudgel to accuse me of insensitivity. I fully support transgender rights. I am not involved in the struggle directly, for whatever reasons, so I misspoke and I regret it

I accept that your experiences reflect your gender identity. I suggest (as you in fact did in your comment in the original thread) that they are atypically extreme in some ways, because transgender people are *more* discriminated against in many ways. You are caricaturing my views again here. I didn't say you didn't experience gender discrimination; quite the contrary. Nor do I need to hear about your experience to believe that women are paid less, treated worse, sexualized more, etc. (Not that I am incurious about your experience, but your very ardency is the passion of a more recent convert to an oppressed class.)

In fact, you really could exhort less and explain more, because I think we could learn a lot about the gender dynamics of our society by considering where transgendered women and biological women share similar or divergent experiences (which is why I regret "fundamentally illogical," which framed the "logical" question here too narrowly, as I conceded above).

In the communities where I work professionally, in fact, more than half of all women *have* experienced sexual assault and rape, and nearly all women have experienced some form of domestic violence by the age of 30. It's an exceptional situation for the United States, but it is in the United States, and it does happen here. Many young women and men commit suicide -- at rates well over double the general population. Discrimination against alternative sexualities is intense, and there is little doubt that plays a role in addiction and suicide and violence and mental illness, all of which are off the charts.

Feeling uncomfortable in an elevator sucks. I'll grant you that. Facing housing or wage discrimination sucks too, even worse. And they're connected. But let's not lose sight of the fact that even having this discussion is such a first world privilege and try to see each other a little less as enemies.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:24 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Telling victims they need to get a sense of humor is one of the calling cards of a bully. Either engage with the discussion, or don't, but don't tell people you deliberately hurt to laugh it off.

I apologize if I gave the impression that you needed to just "laugh it off," as that was not my intent.

However, what was my intent was to point out that jess did not sincerely mean that "you wouldn't feel that way if you thought klangklangston was attractive." She was riffing on the whole "you women wouldn't feel this way if the guy picking you up was attractive" argument, in an attempt to point out how foolish such an argument is.

You expressed surprise that such a comment was allowed to stand, and I was suggesting that it was allowed to stand because most readers understood it to be sarcasm rather than expressed opinion. Although, I admit I did a piss-poor job of framing that point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:28 PM on July 5, 2011


You know what sucks about being a man?

Other men.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:32 PM on July 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


I do try to stay out of these threads, and I do think I've gotten better, but damn if I don't let myself get sucked back in (and no, it's not the ONLY contribution I make around here, thanks) every now and then. Hey, I'll keep trying, more because it doesn't make me feel any better.

Also, to clarify: my "so much hate" is reserved not for women, but for the MeFi posters of any gender/age/race/socioeconomic status who play armchair psychologist, and diagnose me, or who toss up what seem to me to be conflicting concepts/cognitive dissonance (an example being Astro Zombie never replying to the question in the original thread about how a clue for a man to make a move is "if she touches your arm"... yet asking whether touching the arm would be considered inappropriate for a guy). I can make my peace with being alone, and it hurts- but then you say I *deserve* it, or that I'm simply a horrible person awful, or that I scare Ambrosia Voyeur, etc- and that cuts to the bone. Still a human being in this fragile shell, just like you.

What does drive me batty is that people who've never met me think they understand me. Either I'm a stupendous actor, or all the people in my life who know me, who tell me positive things see the side of me you don't. And if I showed up at a meetup and pretended to be someone else, you'd probably never guess it was me, because I'd have no horns and not be dripping bile and acid from my fanged mouth.

Me, I think everyone has theories, about lots of things. If you believe in ETs and Roswell, well, that doesn't really impact your life, but you go on believing thing. But if you believe gravity doesn't apply to you when you're high... well, that theory will crash and burn when you try to test it. And in my experience, everyone has theories about life, and especially about love, romance, interactions, etc. The thing is, you can have all the theories you want, and it's completely unrelated to your actual success or failure. There are men who have theory X, and they are successful with women, and assume it's due to theory X- but it's not, or they may not realize it's not. Similarly, people are so quick to spout their theories on how people are, or what it takes to woo [gender], or for that matter on whether Social Security is a net good, or public education a worthy expense... but like every other spoiled American living at the top of the heap, if things are going your way you don't really question whether your theories matter, because things are working.

And that part is stultifying. Can't people see their theories- even my theories- are unrelated to what's happening in your life? It's just a few neurons firing in your brain, and nothing more. You can have theories but they're probably wrong, and life is such that you rarely get direct proof or consequence from your hare brained theory.

"Augh", is what I'm saying.
posted by hincandenza at 1:35 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


fourcheesemac :Nor do I need to hear about your experience to believe that women are paid less, treated worse, sexualized more, etc. (Not that I am incurious about your experience, but your very ardency is the passion of a more recent convert to an oppressed class.)

You do realize don't you that right now, even in the context of this discussion, that you are in essence telling me that I am telling you nothing that you don't already know? What you don't appear to realize is that kind of attitude is largely what the women in this thread and the other one and Skepchick are complaining about in the first place? You are discounting my experience by telling me you are already fully aware.

"In fact, you really could exhort less and explain more, because I think we could learn a lot about the gender dynamics of our society by considering where transgendered women and biological women share similar or divergent experiences (which is why I regret "fundamentally illogical," which framed the "logical" question here too narrowly, as I conceded above). "

Now of course you are ever so helpfully (insert head smack sound here) telling me how to properly frame the argument (in your eyes) . Patriarchal, condescending and mostly void of any kind of empathy or understanding of what we are experiencing.

Be more listeny. Be less pedanticy
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:37 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


> That the community is blind to the irony in making this kind of hateful comment once
> again illuminates the double standard at hand.

Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
posted by jfuller at 1:37 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fourcheesemac: First, I didn't personalize it.

Well, you certainly didn't first-personalize it. You said:

But I have some news from the basics of mammalian biology, let alone human psychology. If your goal is to have men "not see you as a sexual object," then you had best put on your burka, and even then you'd best stay home (usually in the role of one man's sexual object).

Second person, addressed to any woman who might not want to be seen as a sexual object. Telling them they either have to wear burqas or stay at home. (or go into space or go to a convent). Of course, that was an odd thing to get exercised about, since nobody had objected at that point to the idea of men feeling desire, but that's a different question.

But OK. So, straight men instinctively feel sexual desire for (in practice) most human females they see. You are a straight man. So, I felt that a good way to determine whether or not transwomen counted as women, in your model, was to determine whether a straight man would feel sexual desire for a transwoman. You're my control group, here. And your answer to that question was quite interesting:

I have no idea, since I live in New York and am undoubtedly surrounded by transgendered people all the time in many different settings, and I'm sure I could have mistaken a transwoman for a biological woman, yeah. Men respond instinctively to elements of feminine behavior that are specifically learned and exaggerated by many trans people, as some very interesting work on language has shown.

That's interesting, because you've answered the question "would you say that a statistically noticeable number of the women that you've seen as sexual objects, as a man, were in fact transwomen?" as if it was the question "have you ever mistaken a transwoman for a cisgender woman?" With, one assumes, the further proviso that if one has done so, on the balance of probabilities one has had dirty thoughts about them, as one does of most women - a truth of the real world which applies to the male brain universally.

So, a transwoman is a woman - in the essential sense of being an entity that might generate dirty thoughts in the mind of a straight man - when she is mistaken for a biological woman. Fair enough. But help me out, here. Are (not personalizing it) transwomen women once the male brain knows that they are transwomen? That is, does the male brain (not personalizing it, although we can of course draw from experience) have dirty thoughts about transwomen whom one knows to be transwomen?

This is just a really interesting little island, for me, in the map of the male brain that you've drawn for us.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:38 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: " That the community is blind to the irony in making this kind of hateful comment once again illuminates the double standard at hand."

I'm sorry, but I must have missed the point in the thread where you jumped to Ms. Watson's defense when numerous MeFites declared without a shred of evidence that she only rejected a guy's unwanted sexual advance because he wasn't attractive enough. And that she had no right to feel threatened by the guy. Or when a Mefite upthread called her a bitch for doing so. Could you please link to your (no doubt entirely objective) comments about that?

Wait, what's that? You say you haven't commented at all in the other thread? Isn't that interesting.

The fact that you attacked one person's sarcastic response to multiple instances of gender bias and have ignored a ton of other shitty behaviour by Mefites in both threads to once again grind your axe is quite telling.
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on July 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Oh my god, this thread is still going. It's even spawned another meta. Can it never end?
posted by foggy out there now at 1:48 PM on July 5, 2011


Do you understand the community bit - it means he has [the same] right to be here as you.

So, this thread is almost certainly not the best place to be holding a referendum on hincandenza's membership. But as one of the people who favorited the call for his banning (and not because I wanted to bookmark that comment), I'd like to explain my thinking on that.

Communities don't have to accept everyone unconditionally. That's why we have prisons in the physical world. (Well, one of the reasons, anyway.) Someone who repeatedly violates community norms as expressed by the legal codes gets temporarily or permanently removed from the community. We don't have a legal code here, so maybe it's not as clear an analogy as I'd like it to be, but you see what I'm getting at, yes? We do have mods, and MeTa for hashing out what the community norms are.

Hincandenza's posts have often caught my eye as the kind of toxic misogynist rantings that I would expect from a guy I know ouside MeFi who I'm pretty sure would be a rapist if he thought he could get away with it. For all I know, he (the guy I know, not hincandenza) is a rapist. It wouldn't surprise me. And being in a community with him made me really uncomfortable. It was apparent that he didn't make others in that community as uncomfortable, so instead of trying to campaign to kick him out, I just left. It wasn't a community I felt particularly committed to by that point, although it had been in the past.

The downside of my leaving is that now that guy gets to set the tone for that community. There are people in there I still like, and I regret that his continued presence seems to be affecting their idea of what constitutes normal behavior. He's dragging them down with him.

I don't want to see that happen to metafilter. Hincandenza has been allowed to get away with his shit for way too long, in my opinion. I'm sorry that he's hurting, but that's no excuse. I'd like to know that he's getting help for that, because I'd much rather have him around and happy than gone and unhappy. But given the choice between him staying here and acting like he has, or leaving, I'd prefer the latter. It may not be best for him, but I truly believe it would be best for the rest of us. I regret that I haven't flagged every single comment of his that I thought was vile, because that's a better mechanism for alerting the mods than a public call-out.

At some point, though, I think it is entirely appropriate for the immune response of the community to a toxic element to be a public call-out rather than back-channel flagging. You know when you're sick, sometimes all you want to do is throw up? And when you do, you feel better after? Like that.

On preview: sorry about the armchair psychologizing, if that's what you feel this is. All I can say is that I'm comparing behaviors of two people, one of whom I know to present a pretty non-threating and reasonable persona in public and to be a misogynist shitbag in a private IRC community, and the other to be you. If it's not a valid comparison, well, people are different, and I could be wrong. All I have to go on is what I've experienced. And I know it hurts to hear that people are scared by you; I've been there. I found out years later that maybe the reason some people in high school were nice to me was because they thought I'd kill them with a bomb otherwise. That wasn't fun, and wasn't how I saw myself at all. But maybe that's how I was back then. I hope I'm better now. And I hope I'm better off for knowing that that's how some people perceived me, no matter how it felt to hear it.
posted by hades at 1:49 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't agree that it was sarcasm, and it is an obscene idea that someone who doesn't respond to every obviously problematic comment is somehow at fault for not doing so. It certainly doesn't justify your hypocritical behavior in responding to those comments.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:50 PM on July 5, 2011


That seems a straw man to me, or a willful decision to take offense where none was intended or otherwise implied by anything else I said. I'm not up enough on the lingo. It's the very definition of PC to use that as a substitute cudgel to accuse me of insensitivity.

Whether or not it was your intent to offend, calling a trans woman a "man" is going to piss people off because it is so frequently done with the intent to hurt, dismiss, degrade, or humiliate.

In addition to that, you appealed to the authority of certain radical feminists (who often lead the pack in nasty anti-trans bigotry) to bolster your argument.

Those things make you look like a bigot and/or insensitive. That wasn't your intent, fine. That doesn't mean poet_lariat is making shit up to bludgeon you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:50 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I keep trying to defend this kind of discussion as being contentious yet valuable, but it's become really hot and personal in here. And not in a good way.

I really think that everybody needs to step back and think about what they're posting. If your post is not going to change any minds, and you're not going to get anybody banned, ostracized or shot, then what's your ideal outcome? Because there are way better ways of blowing off steam, and a lot of people seem to be genuinely upset.

Kumbaya and all of that, for real. I love a good article about issues, but mud flinging and personal attacks is a little bit too Fox News for my taste, and this site should aspire to better.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:51 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: " It certainly doesn't justify your hypocritical behavior in responding to those comments."

Was this directed to me? Seriously, I can't tell. And before I respond I'd like to make sure.
posted by zarq at 1:51 PM on July 5, 2011


I just resolved to read a little into the literature on transgender feminism, and man was I surprised by how much writing there is on this. (Well, not really surprised, more chagrined to realize I hadn't been paying attention to gender theory enough in the last few years, when it was a discipline I was closely engaged with back in my grad school days.)

Anyone who thinks I am articulating a purely patriarchal perspective needs to search google scholar for "transgender feminism." There is apparently a fairly large element within academic and political feminism, led by women, to limit the claims of transgender women to representation within feminist politics, and it goes back a ways and is hotly contested, of course, by the emergence of an actual discourse of "transgender feminism." Having read into neither conversation, I am not picking sides, just reporting on having had a glimpse of an elephant (maybe a butt elephant) on google scholar just now.

I can see why it's a sensitive issue for transgender folks -- the possibility of a double exclusion is truly marginalizing -- which I didn't see as much before, so how about that, poet-lariat, I've learned a little something from this exchange. But what I've learned is that these are not settled questions even among people who believe they are advocating for very progressive gender politics.

It seems obvious to me that most of the battles of the feminist movement simply apply, mutatis mutandis, to transgendered people, just as a common sense perspective, and that this just fills in the spectrum of political identity and social activism between gay and lesbian rights and women's rights in a little more detail (there's an equally complex and theoretically conflicted intersection between transgender rights politics and gay/lesbian rights politics, I believe).

I don't believe in ranking oppressions on a scale, or deriving one from another. Anyone's oppression is my oppression too. I most certainly believe that men pay deeply for patriarchy too, and that many of the costs have been on display in these hot discussions.

running over squabbles, I can't quite follow your final points. I assume every human feels a spectrum of desires, not all of which are even conscious, none of which are quite constant. I regret misconstruing your question, but my personal response is really irrelevant anyway.

I see your point about the exhortation in my original comment (burqas etc) being directed at women and construable as a "get used to being viewed as sexual objects" argument.

That is certainly not how I meant it. My point there, as here, is that we've made tremendous progress in the cosmopolitan west (and some other places. A woman was just elected to lead Thailand, dig it?). My perspective is that of an anthropologist who thinks about the wide scope of human evolution, cultural diversity, and long-term historical development (as well as the interactional dynamics of any actual community). As far as the anthropological record shows, we are living in an unprecedented time for human freedom with respect to gender and sexuality. When a case can be made that (okay, perhaps nearly) every human culture so far has been built around the central institution of the control of women's reproductive freedom (hoping the analogy to contemporary politics is clear), I think it is clear that one of the primary purposes of culture is the management of desire and the sublimation of the sexual instinct into social institutions like elevator etiquette and the burka.

My basic argument is that the struggle continues. Peace out.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:53 PM on July 5, 2011


Except, wait, now it's sexist to refer to radical feminist theory?
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:53 PM on July 5, 2011


hincandenza: “Also, to clarify: my "so much hate" is reserved not for women, but for the MeFi posters of any gender/age/race/socioeconomic status who play armchair psychologist, and diagnose me, or who toss up what seem to me to be conflicting concepts/cognitive dissonance...”

hincandenza, please note carefully that no one did this before your fateful "so. much. hate." comment. People may have disagreed with you, but nobody diagnosed you, nobody psychologized you. Maybe people were "tossing up cognitive dissonance," but I have no idea what that means to you. I really think you were exaggerating the tone of the people with whom you disagree.
posted by koeselitz at 1:54 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can make my peace with being alone, and it hurts- but then you say I *deserve* it, or that I'm simply a horrible person awful, or that I scare Ambrosia Voyeur, etc- and that cuts to the bone. Still a human being in this fragile shell, just like you.

We are indeed all human beings in fragile shells.

However, we are also all human beings who have to take responsibility for what we say and do. That includes you as much as me or anyone else in this thread or in the world. You come off as wanting to dodge this responsibility by saying that you're being victimized for being alone/different/not conventionally attractive, which is absolutely not what's happening, nor why AV said she was frightened by what you wrote.
posted by scody at 1:57 PM on July 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Referring to radical feminist theory isn't sexist in and of itself.

My point is that if you call a trans woman a man and then tell us that, hey, radical feminists agree with you about trans women being excluded from certain spaces, people are going to get pissed, and it's not because they're purposefully making shit up just to bludgeon you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:58 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't agree that it was sarcasm, and it is an obscene idea that someone who doesn't respond to every obviously problematic comment is somehow at fault for not doing so.

Well, jess did get some criticism for "being sarcastic" by making that statement, and it was largely frowned on. But the general tone of responses to her crack seemed to suggest that people did indeed take it as sarcasm -- and misguided sarcasm at that.

It certainly doesn't justify your hypocritical behavior in responding to those comments.

Were you talking to me? If so, can you explain what comments it was that I responded to "hypocritically" and why you feel that way?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:58 PM on July 5, 2011


Hincandenza's posts have often caught my eye as the kind of toxic misogynist rantings that I would expect from a guy I know ouside MeFi who I'm pretty sure would be a rapist if he thought he could get away with it.

I'm sorry, but did you just say we should ban people who say things that remind you of things other people (who you are pretty sure would be criminals if they could be) say?

I really think you were exaggerating the tone of the people with whom you disagree.

Just as hincandenza has a history on these sorts of topics, so too does metafilter have a history of responding to him. He has been diagnosed here plenty in the past to warrant a certain defensiveness.
posted by Dano St at 2:07 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, hincandenza, I know that people are fragile and get hurt by stuff, and that's why I try not to post long rants about how much I hate them and how they want me to die alone and how they're going to celebrate when I leave the gene pool.

Instead you turn it around to be you being fragile and it's so mean of AV to have a reaction to your post because her being scared hurts you. Like you would have no idea that anyone would react negatively to your comment. If this had been the first time, maybe. At this point you have to know that people will react very badly to this kind of nastiness.

It has been literally years of this shit from you. At what point are you going to realize that this thing that you do is not okay? At what point are you going to realize that empathy goes more than one way, and that the people reading your hateful rants and comments have feelings and, in fact, exist as more than bit players in your own personal narrative?
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:07 PM on July 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


That the community is blind to the irony in making this kind of hateful comment once again illuminates the double standard at hand.

Can you explain to me what's hateful about it? Because there's clearly something I'm not seeing.
posted by rtha at 2:09 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


My point is that if you call a trans woman a man and then tell us that, hey, radical feminists agree with you about trans women being excluded from certain spaces, people are going to get pissed, and it's not because they're purposefully making shit up just to bludgeon you

Dammit, again with the paraphrase. I apologized for calling transwomen "men," so that point is conceded, and it was a linguistic, not a categorical error. I believe in every individual's right to declare their (!) own gender and live it free from oppression. Period.

I specifically did not cite radical feminists as agreeing with me in order to defend my point. I took an explicitly agnostic position, merely pointing out that the argument that seems to have caused the original offense has a significant feminist (and female) constituency. (Really, it seems like it was two separate arguments, leaving aside my linguistic error: 1) transwomen experience a somewhat distinctive form of gender discrimination, which I still maintain is generally true, but not to the point of claiming it doesn't overlap significantly with the experience of biological women, and of course there are going to be cases along a wide spectrum of possibilities there); and 2) that should exclude their experience from being considered normative for the discussion in the original thread, which assumed a heteronormative context -- a point I have since conceded was overstated and poorly phrased).

There's no reason to get "pissed" in a reasonable discussion among political allies, and I don't think I was accusing anyone of making things up to bludgeon me. Paraphrasing things until they are unrecognizable caricatures of anything I actually said, however, is another story.

It's a lesson one never fully learns, or I don't, about Metatalk in particular, MeFi debates in particular. You can choose heat or you can choose light. Some people think you win by being the meanest, some by being the most earnest, others by using the most inflammatory tone. I've been guilty of all of it myself plenty of times, and it leads nowhere.

I've learned something from this discussion, even from some of the snarkiest commenters. Gonna try to stick with the light.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:10 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to point out to Blazecock Pileon that my first and only comment in this thread before this was to ask jess not to make those kind of comments. So I don't think it can be said that the 'community' accepts it because not everyone rallied the way he wanted.

That being said, this comment from likeso so perfectly illustrates what I feel about the subject that spawned this thread that I feel compelled to quote it for truth:

I understand how personal the discussions have become, because folks are unerringly hitting each other's buttons. We all have personal histories that are somehow relevant.

But I'd like to start my comment from the original issue: Watson participating in the conference, invited to speak to the possibility of increasing female participation, and stating she wants to be seen as more than her gender, which here means not getting hit on. Then politely reiterating on her vlog "please don't do this " - after getting hit on.

She wasn't hysterical, nor being a bitch, nor comparing her discomfort to enduring female circumcision in Islamic countries.

posted by nuala at 2:13 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hincandenza and I have gotten way past any of this talk to down right pitface- if we were face to face, there would be blood. (dam iraq war) Though his posting was abit of a turning point as i even turned the other cheek. I have every personal motivation to offer a "why" he should be timed out but I wont because he should'nt and i once said "I'd pray for him". In a situation like that it is better to to rise above the hate words to try and reach the person, it is effective and makes one a better member.
posted by clavdivs at 2:13 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but did you just say we should ban people who say things that remind you of things other people (who you are pretty sure would be criminals if they could be) say?

No, I'm saying that many of his comments have come across to me as similar to the rantings of a misogynist shitbag I know and who I am worried might be a rapist. And that it is an entirely appropriate response to that kind of behavior to want the source of that behavior to go away. If you want me to leave out the comparison to the guy I know, ok. I believe that hincandenza's comments in this type of discussion, on their own, with no comparison to anyone else, merit at least a time-out if not an outright ban. I'm saying that we should be able to talk about whether the behavior merits a ban without being characterized as screaming "burn the witch".
posted by hades at 2:18 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Was this directed to me? Seriously, I can't tell.

Yes, it is directed at you and everyone behaving just like you in this thread, who rationalizes certain gender-based offenses as sarcasm.

And I'll say again that it is a truly obscene idea that someone who doesn't respond to every obviously problematic comment is somehow at fault for not doing so. This is the second time you and your group have tried to label me a misogynist in this underhanded way and it is getting really fucking offensive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:20 PM on July 5, 2011


fourcheesemac: "Anyone who thinks I am articulating a purely patriarchal perspective needs to search google scholar for "transgender feminism." There is apparently a fairly large element within academic and political feminism, led by women, to limit the claims of transgender women to representation within feminist politics"

Trans women as a group struggle not to be marginalised by mainstream feminism, the mainstream LGBt movement, and society itself. It's pretty fun, in a sort of razorblades on the skin sort of way.

As a trans woman, I am vulnerable to four specific types of discrimination:

1. institutional sexism: lower pay than men, fewer promotion opportunities, and so on.
2. interpersonal sexism: all the other shit women have to deal with, including but not limited to what's been discussed in these threads.
3. institutional cissexism/transphobia: difficulty accessing appropriate medical care (or having to pay for treatments provided for free to cis women), fewer job opportunities (even though it's illegal here to refuse to hire someone because they are a trans woman, it happens a lot), less access to critical services (such as rape counselling; wow, topical), and so forth.
4. interpersonal cissexism/transphobia: violence against my person because I am trans, the usual anti-trans bullshit. For me this is mostly an optional one since whether I out myself to a person or institution (outside of a medical context) is largely under my control, paper trails notwithstanding, but it's a biggie -- possibly the biggie-est -- for some trans women. I can't think of anything more dangerous to be on the streets than a trans woman who doesn't "pass".

Note that points 1 and 2 are forms of discrimination that affect cis women, too. Some reproductive issues aside (and they're big ones; I'm not suggesting the erosion of abortion rights is a small issue) there is no discrimination adult cis women are subject to that trans women do not also suffer. The teen and pre-teen experiences diverge or don't depending on the age the trans woman transitions, and many many other factors.

I would also note that trans women are not socialised as men at any point. We are socialised as trans women, which means, by and large, that we pick up the passive socialisation aimed at cis women via media and the lives of our cis women friends and family, and we are pummelled with attempts to socialise us as men, often accompanied by threats of violence, shame, or emotional blackmail if we don't live up to it, all the while being told that we are superior to women because we're men, dammit! It's a deeply toxic soup to be raised on.

Finally, and I know you do not mean harm so I'm not going to yell, please be careful with your phrasing. "I'm sure I could have mistaken a transwoman for a biological woman," is quite an offensive way to put the point you were making.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:21 PM on July 5, 2011 [16 favorites]


What does drive me batty is that people who've never met me think they understand me. Either I'm a stupendous actor, or all the people in my life who know me, who tell me positive things see the side of me you don't. And if I showed up at a meetup and pretended to be someone else, you'd probably never guess it was me, because I'd have no horns and not be dripping bile and acid from my fanged mouth.

When, in threads about sexual harassment, all you show is bile and acid, how are we to know it's not an act? In every one of these threads I've been in that you've been in too, you come across immediately as so hostile, so full of sneering contempt, and so chock-full of bitterness, that this is really the only impression I have of you.

Try an experiment. Print out your big comment from up above - take off any identifying markers, like username and stuff. Show it to someone who knows you, and ask them what their impression of the person who posted it is.
posted by rtha at 2:21 PM on July 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


Aside, Nitpick, Off-topic: Heated posts like this always bring to light the question as to why metafilter doesn't have both a "Favorite" and a "Bookmark" ability? Is it because it is too similar to what other sites (you know the one) do? Please feel free to respond/point me in the right direction via memail. I feel like I must be missing a discussion somewhere regarding this "it has so many favorites it must be awesome/not" confusion factor...

P.S. - come back orthogonality, this place won't be the same without you...

posted by RolandOfEld at 2:25 PM on July 5, 2011


I'm saying that we should be able to talk about whether the behavior merits a ban without being characterized as screaming "burn the witch".

I don't think you can publicly encourage the banning of a member without looking like a witch-burner.

It's the mods' decision and one they're not going to make in the gladiatorial arena of a MeTa thread. Contact them privately.
posted by Trurl at 2:26 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shit has gotten mad weird in here.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 2:34 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"As ugly as hicandenza's comment was, yours was uglier - and with less excuse.

It was an embarrassment to the site and you should feel ashamed of yourself.
"

It was uglier than telling everyone he hates them? Because I said he should get therapy? Or that I made fun of his poor social skills?

No, not really.

You're the one arguing that it's better to be sympathetic to men's neediness than women's comfort — hincandenza's comments are the epitome of that, and I can see why it'd sting you when I make fun of them.

But the reason why I draw you out from your snide one-liners is that your comments are pretty ridiculous when you're forced to actually articulate them instead of just trawling for BP's favorites. They're always a combination of needless hyperbole and sanctimonious posturing.

You should stick to making music FPPs. You do those well.
posted by klangklangston at 2:35 PM on July 5, 2011


Speaking personally, I tend to especially LIKE people who are alone, not conventionally attractive, etc. Ha, immediately I think of my stalker, this guy in college who could see into my window and found out my IM name somehow and propositioned me all the time and was short and chubby and balding and really uncouth and became one of my favorite people. He liked TMBG.

I don't think anybody who's on Metafilter is a loser. I think those things basically counteract each other. Awww. It's twoo.

For your records, hincandenza, you freak me out because your comments add up, over the several years I've read you, to the cocktail of misanthropy, misplaced blame and resignation that makes a person literally dangerous to be around. That's my own baggage in evidence, and it's a gendered stereotype in my mind, one for men, but it might be right on, and I'm not ignoring instincts that say "fumer-seether-rager. murder death kill. get away from." I see "hincandenza" and my inner little girl flinches, and my outer big girl says "get out of here." That impression is cemented for me. Brand New Day would be a good fit here, I suggest. What kind of witch-burner suggests relocation of the witch, right?

And I'm pleased have a public discussion of how far that behavior is allowed to go on this site before it's addressed by mods. I'm sure it helps their process somewhat, though I bet it's also annoying. So, sorry I didn't FIAMO but it's hard to do that with a pattern of squickiness.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:39 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's not the heat so much as it's the humidity.
posted by Sailormom at 2:40 PM on July 5, 2011


ArmyofKittens, that was much appreciated. I didn't understand the very last point:

"I'm sure I could have mistaken a transwoman for a biological woman," is quite an offensive way to put the point you were making.

Can you explain why? My point was that I didn't know the answer to the question, "have you ever been attracted to a transwoman?"

Should I have used "cisgendered" for "biological"? Or is merely making that distinction problematic?
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:41 PM on July 5, 2011


Ambrosia Voyeur : For your records, hincandenza, you freak me out because your comments add up, over the several years I've read you,

You and others have mentioned that this has been going on for years. This is the first time I ever noticed the man so my reply to him was within that context. Knowing that this person has been making the same comments for a prolonged period of time puts things into a different light completely for me. I hope that hincandenza really does see all these negative views of his posts and adjusts his behavior accordingly. Also: the person in this thread who offered to recommend a known therapist to hincandenza is a wonderful person. If hincandenza takes that recomendation and acts on it I think this thread will have not been in vain if for only that reason.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:46 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fourcheesemac: Except, wait, now it's sexist to refer to radical feminist theory?

I may be able to help here.

Strictly speaking, it's often identified as transphobic to say "transwomen aren't women". As a result of that, many of the radical feminists (Janice Raymond, Sheila Jeffreys, Julie Bindel) whom you are now finding in Google Scholar are also often called transphobic. In many cases, they do not accept the validity of the term, because they do not accept that validity of the concept of transgender - for their purposes, a transwoman is a man, and a transman a woman who has been brainwashed by patriarchy into mutilating her body.

So, saying I will point out that many radical feminists also dispute the right of transgendered women to speak "as a woman" about their experiences in defence of your original statement - apparently without deeper knowledge - was unwise, because it made you look like you were making common cause with transphobic elements within radical feminism, when it looks like you were just making an uninformed appeal to authority.

As it happens, many feminists disagree with these radical feminists, for about the same reasons you appear to - that they feel that the struggle for trans equality and recognition is a part of the broader struggle for equality that defines the feminist project. I'm simplifying, of course. As a result of that, the particular form of biologically essentialist anti-trans position espoused by and beyond Raymond's The Transsexual Empire is often seem both as something the mainstream of feminism is opposed to and something that is a form of gender reification of its own, which shades in some ways towards sexism.

So, I think the tone of your descriptions - screaming women, men concerned to appear progressive, transwomen with no logical right to comment on women's experience, men with odd self-esteem issues - was clearly intended to denigrate these groups (in contrast to your real-world perspective and wisdom, and knowledge of the male brain). As it happens, you tripped over by accident into a much more transphobic terminology than you intended with "transgender men", and while defending yourself you pulled in Raymond et al, rather unwisely. The screaming women bit sounded a bit sexist, too, just FYI.

So, not sexist, or rather secondarily and contentiously sexist, but primarily you looked transphobic, when I think you were trying to be indiscriminately but not n-phobically dismissive in the first instance and were trying to justify doing so in the second without knowledge of what you were citing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:47 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I should have bolded. "Mistaken" was the word I spotted ("biological" just makes me laugh, although I get that it pisses some people off: I'm a technological woman! I clank when I walk! And I can't be submerged in water OR I'LL DIE). There's a deep anti-trans meme whereby we are depicted in media as being deceptive: we will seduce the poor innocent man with our wicked ways, then at the last moment, PENIS! It usually ends badly for the trans woman in the story. It doesn't really happen in real life (and it's not even about "developing an instinct for danger" or anything; flashing the ladywang is self-evidently fucking stupid and people just don't do it) but it drives a lot of the public opinion of trans women which in turn drives stuff like the comedy pathetic sentences handed down to people convicted of violence against us.

"Cis woman" is definitely better than "biological woman" though, yes.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:48 PM on July 5, 2011 [8 favorites]

Anyone who thinks I am articulating a purely patriarchal perspective needs to search google scholar for "transgender feminism." There is apparently a fairly large element within academic and political feminism, led by women, to limit the claims of transgender women to representation within feminist politics....
Well, there was in like 1987. But that battle has been over for about twenty years, and the Rad Fems lost. Radical Feminism is very, very marginal in the academy at this point, because it relies on an essentialist view of female nature and experience that just doesn't work with contemporary ideas about... pretty much anything. And dude, am I right in remembering that you're in anthropology? Because if so, you really need to back away from this thread and go read whatever textbook your university uses for its introductory feminist theory class for undergrads. This is not "keeping up with the latest scholarship" type stuff. It's actually pretty embarrassing that you're relying on google scholar searches for this stuff.
posted by craichead at 2:50 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Should I have used "cisgendered" for "biological"? Or is merely making that distinction problematic?

Conventions about what people like to be called is going to vary for different people. I personally don't self-identify as trans-anything but rather as only a woman. I use the trans conventions for context when necessary such as in conversations like this. My choice of self-identification may well be in the minority.

But none of that matters at all. Don't refer to us as men (unless we're ftm) is pretty universally a good rule and don't flaunt selective feminist authors in our faces to divide us from women born women is also a pretty good rule of thumb to follow.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm a technological woman! I clank when I walk! And I can't be submerged in water OR I'LL DIE

This caused me to snort-laugh so loudly that the conversation in the next cube paused for a minute.
posted by rtha at 2:54 PM on July 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm saying that we should be able to talk about whether the behavior merits a ban without being characterized as screaming "burn the witch".

I agree, except that AV's "He fucking scares me. Reminds me of my abusive dad!" is, to me, fairly characterized as "screaming 'burn the witch'". [long rambly addendum abandoned]
posted by Dano St at 2:55 PM on July 5, 2011


Don't refer to us as men

fourcheesemac has repeatedly stated that he misspoke (and apologized for it), at this point you're either calling him a liar or arguing in bad faith.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:56 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


hincandenza's comments are the epitome of that, and I can see why it'd sting you when I make fun of them.

According to you, his comments are the result of mental illness.

That you would preen yourself on publicly jeering at it is not stinging - it is disgusting.
posted by Trurl at 2:56 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't memail you, bp, so I'm forced to say this publicly. One of my kids took ill, so I'm going to be offline for a few hrs. Will respond as soon as I can, but most likely late this evening.
posted by zarq at 3:00 PM on July 5, 2011


fourcheesemac has repeatedly stated that he misspoke (and apologized for it), at this point you're either calling him a liar or arguing in bad faith.

...or providing useful advice for next time. It's actually a pretty good rule of thumb. Don't call someone who identifies as a woman a man, don't call someone who identifies as a man a woman - regardless of their birth gender.

I now have "technological woman" stuck in my head, to the tune of "American Woman" by Lenny Kravitz. Which seems a good place to head out.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:01 PM on July 5, 2011


"According to you, his comments are the result of mental illness.

That you would preen yourself on publicly jeering at it is not stinging - it is disgusting.
"

Hyperbole? (Needs therapy = "mental illness.") Check!

Sanctimonious posturing? ("Preen," "disgusting.") Check!

Ignoring what I said and failing to provide any further examples aside from your opinion? Check!

BP favorite? Check!
posted by klangklangston at 3:03 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So help me, I'm now imagining Brigitte Helm singing Lenny Kravitz songs. With intertitles.
posted by cmyk at 3:04 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really, craichead? You're going to tell me all about anthropology?

I'm not going to dignify that with more of a response than to suggest you give it a shot.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:05 PM on July 5, 2011


Did anyone else initially misread intertitles as .....
posted by Poet_Lariat at 3:07 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos wrote: Your mother was absolutely correct in encouraging you to respect women's boundaries, but with all due respect, "respecting women's boundaries" does not mean "don't talk to women ever," and I invite you to reflect upon why you believe this must be so.

To be fair, men are told regularly "don't talk to women on the street, don't talk to women on the subway, don't talk to women who are working, don't talk to women on the elevator, don't talk to women in the park, don't talk to women at Starbucks" and so on. It doesn't help that we're further told that any time we talk to a woman she will think we're hitting on her, hence why we must avoid talking to women in all these situations.

Well, I should clarify. Perhaps we aren't actually told those things. Perhaps we are being told similar, but not identical, things that we hear as "don't talk to women anywhere" and "any time you talk to a woman you're hitting on her."

So yeah, it's understandable not to want to be hit on all the time, but at the same time, it's understandable to be frustrated that you can't talk to over half the human race without them thinking you're an asshole for hitting on them even when you don't think you're hitting on them.
posted by wierdo at 3:08 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Poet_Lariat: "I personally don't self-identify as trans-anything but rather as only a woman. I use the trans conventions for context when necessary such as in conversations like this. My choice of self-identification may well be in the minority."

I'm actually probably halfway to where you are, identification-wise. I know a lot of activists (and dabble myself occasionally) which keeps me up to date with the lingo but I never want to be known as or thought of as anything other than a woman. At this point I think I keep up with the trans identification out of sheer bloodyfuckingmindedness that no-one gets to tell me or any of my trans sisters and brothers and everythingelses who we are and who we are less than.

Sometimes I feel like I'm staring the world down, daring it to flinch. Jesus.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:12 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'll just say that the last thing I thought this thread would do was reveal that actually there are a number of transgendered people on MetaFilter. I knew there were at least a couple, but it's nice to see that we really do have a few here that can share their own perspectives on things. I'm not expecting them to speak for all transgendered people or something, but more diversity in life experiences is always welcome.

So out of all the crap in this thread comes out a few positives for me at least.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:12 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


For the record, a couple of points in defense:

1) Yeah, I'm angry. Sorry for being way too harsh and angry or strident, but fucking hell, I have a valid reason to be angry. Several, at least. Yeah, I have a personal pony in this "race" - but I would even if I didn't identify as trans or pangender. (Again, my gender is "other" because I just want my gender to be "me". It's not indecisiveness, it's taken me several decades to come to that conclusion or acceptance. I want to reject the gender binary and find my own place on the spectrum, because I'm discovering that forcing myself into either box is not "me" and is harmful.

Sure, that makes me a weirdo and an outlier. Many find the merest concept to be abhorrent - but that's their own problem with their own worldview of what gender is, because whatever gender is it's not actually a binary. It's a spectrum.

But regardless I would strongly argue for feminism. Equality helps everyone.


2) My claim of 50-75% of all women in the US being raped includes sexual assault of all kinds and is based on what the women in my life tell me. Nearly all the women in my life have been the victim of sexual violence.

If you'd like to find out for yourself I'd suggest asking the women in your life - and be prepared to actually listen, not argue or defend or pick apart what they're trying to tell you. You will be shocked and disgusted about what you discover. (If you disagree that unwanted sexual contact of any kind isn't either rape or sexual violence you might need to recalibrate your understanding of sexual violence itself.)

People don't want to hear this, and men in particular don't want to hear it because it's threatening and depressing - and then they might actually have to do something about it or pay attention to the fact that their mothers, sisters and partners are nearly all survivors of sexual violence.

And you shouldn't only count reported rape statistics, because rape is vastly underreported. Because, again, women aren't taken seriously. Even if they go to the cops right away and get a forensic rape kit done, then they have to go through trial. Assuming the attacker is found. Assuming they even test the rape kit before it expires.


3) I don't speak for all women. I'm speaking for myself, and for people I personally know.

I have a very limited perspective of what it's like to be a cisgendered woman, but this is coming from a place of both sympathy and empathy. As well as personal experience in being treated differently and/or badly. I was agreeing with Poet Lariat's experiences.

But I've seen enough to get a big taste of it, and it's fucking terrifying to behold. It really is. If I could really, truly share that feeling with men all over the world it would probably help pave the way to equality and make it easier for everyone.

And this is what I'm talking about when I say "women hold up more of the sky", because not only are they expected to compete with men, but they're expected to do it from an unequal footing while being objectified, oppressed, harrassed - and then they're expected to be smiling and pleasant and pretty while they do it.

It's like watching a marathon where just one segment of it is constantly harassed, belittled, negated, assaulted and basically not ever encouraged - meanwhile the crowd is cheering for the rest of the marathon. At the end of the marathon they announce the winners and then totally disrespect the "losers", confirming that the segment of "women" is no good at running marathons, so why do they even try?

It's a rigged game. This is what feminists are talking about when they talk about patriarchy and misogyny. It's pervasive throughout our culture from dumb jokes to outright violence, to reduced pay for equal work, or the inability to get loans to buy a home or start a business... this list is long.


4) So, again. I don't speak for all women. Of course not! Why? Because women are different. They're people! They're all different, like people everywhere.

But I should mention that I have women here on metafilter sending me private messages thanking me for voicing what they're unable to voice, speak or articulate. Whether it's anger or fear that silences them - that's an indication of something wrong.

I don't mention that to show off. I'm not saying "chicks dig me", 'cause by and large they don't. I mention it because it's fucking depressing they even feel the need to thank me in the first place just for trying to talk common sense about equality and sexual violence and oppression.

If you think my comments or opinions are wrong - why don't you show my comments to the women in your life and see if they agree or disagree?

If you're male and you feel defensive or attacked by my comments - maybe you should re-read my comments and really think about where that defensiveness is coming from. Because I'm not attacking men, or anyone at all. I'm defending women from being attacked, and there's a huge difference between offense and defense.

And by proxy I'm fighting for and defending a major and important part of myself.


Last, if you have issues with my gender identity and intentional ambiguity - imagine for a moment what that would be like for yourself. I don't really care if you have issues with my identity. It's mine, not yours.

I've never mentioned this ever before on Metafilter but even before coming out as trans back when I was arguing/defending feminism I've been personally harassed in comments through IM and email, people signing my publicly available email account up for skeezy adult dating profiles, signing me up for spam harvesters and other trivial annoyances. This kicked up a notch or three after coming out and being more vocal about speaking up for transgender people.

Whatever. If that's the best they've got, I pity the fools. I don't mention it to the mods (or in general) because I can handle my own, and it's laughable. But disturbing to realize that people think it's ok to harass others just because they can't deal with their own shit.

posted by loquacious at 3:12 PM on July 5, 2011 [34 favorites]


Really, craichead? You're going to tell me all about anthropology?

It sounded to me like she's trying to tell you that the scholarship you ran across is pretty outdated and has been supplanted, and that those who still hold with that particular branch of feminist scholarship are in the minority. As an academic, you know that a quick search of google scholar is not always likely to be terribly helpful when you don't know anything about the field your googling.
posted by rtha at 3:14 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


example being Astro Zombie never replying to the question in the original thread about how a clue for a man to make a move is "if she touches your arm"... yet asking whether touching the arm would be considered inappropriate for a guy

I didn't ask if it would be appropriate. I answered a question about it that the appropriateness of it woukd be based on context. You seem to be reading that thread through a lens of your own devising, with eagle eyes for perceived hypocrisy or contradictions, which, is this instance, s invented because you have some sort of problem with me.

If you wish to engage me, do so based on what I have actually said. I can't answer to anything else.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:29 PM on July 5, 2011


I wasn't writing a scholarly article. I took all of 10 minutes to ascertain that the subject was in fact more complex than I had considered, that there was in fact a literature on it, and that there were in fact feminist-identified women (with whom I disagree!) who would exclude transwomen from representing as such.

That the views I cited are held by a "minority" of scholars (or even if they have lost the argument in feminist theory circles, since they certainly have not in institutional politics, and in any case the former point is by no means obvious to me, contra craichead) is neither here nor there, especially in a discussion that seems to be all about minority opinions, amirite? And I wasn't citing the literature in question for its substance, just pointing out that this is in fact a debate within feminist circles. I specifically said it wasn't my area of expertise and was just poking around to discover the topic even existed. craichead's response was so disingenuous it was laughable. As poet-lariat correctly noted, I wasn't in fact agreeing with the exclusion of transwomen from feminist politics, quite the contrary. I was not arguing the merits of the underlying question at all. There was no appeal to authority.

This is nonsense. It's PC thought/language policing like I remember from being in grad school in the 90s, back when I first realized that "gender theory" was code for "ideology trumps science" and lost interest in staying current with academic feminist thought.

Enough. I'm joining orthogonality for the time being. It's really striking to me that those who complain loudest about their oppression here are so willing to engage in retributive bullying at any opportunity. I have tried to engage seriously and in good faith here, and I appreciate the several who have joined that tone and in fact educated me on some stuff I admit I should have known (but not knowing which doesn't make me less of an anthropologist, craichead, or where is it you're a tenured professor again?). But the general nastiness and righteous ritual abuse has had its effect.

What a sour thread, this and the original. I don't recognize the metafilter I love here, where no matter how down and dirty we get, people argue in good faith and with some attempt, usually, to be fair in representing the views of others in the debate. Not here.

I leave you with Aerosmith. I've been wanting to post this all along.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:30 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

This is nonsense. It's PC thought/language policing like I remember from being in grad school in the 90s, back when I first realized that "gender theory" was code for "ideology trumps science" and lost interest in staying current with academic feminist thought.
Ok, then.

I'm going to stand by my recommendation that you seek out that undergrad textbook if you're going to make claims about feminist scholarship. Your google scholar searches are not doing you any favors.
posted by craichead at 3:37 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


fourcheesemac: That was absolutely not the video I thought you were going to link.
posted by ODiV at 3:40 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


And I wasn't citing the literature in question for its substance, just pointing out that this is in fact a debate within feminist circles.

It isn't. It was. It was once a hotly debated topic. Now, it's a "debate" in the sense that creationism vs evolution is a "debate."

On preview: I guess you're gone, but correcting your erroneous assertions about the state of debate/scholarship in re transgender issues and feminism is not thought policing. For fuck's sake, at least be honest with yourself. If I come into a thread about your particular area of anthro and said wrong stuff based on outdated scholarship, you saying "No, that's not current anymore" isn't thought policing.
posted by rtha at 3:40 PM on July 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


So yeah, it's understandable not to want to be hit on all the time, but at the same time, it's understandable to be frustrated that you can't talk to over half the human race without them thinking you're an asshole for hitting on them even when you don't think you're hitting on them.

Various incarnations of this have come up again and again this thread and in the parent thread. Yet somehow, I, a straight male who is neither particularly handsome or suave or charismatic or unique or whatever, have been able to talk to women, including strangers, without being thought of as an asshole. It pretty much amounts to a sort of internalization of diffuse social norms. Obviously, there are people out there for whatever reason that have a hard time internalizing those social norms, and I am not disparaging those people. But "normal" social interaction is not a logic game, it is a manifestation of various social phenomena occuring at all levels in the relevant culture, including elements that may contradict one another (and I am talking about all social interaction, not just the subset of men hitting on women and when that is perceived as appropriate).
posted by Falconetti at 3:48 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


fourcheesemac, I was relieved that you didn't link to "Dude Looks Like A Lady". I was very worried for a second.
posted by futz at 3:50 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yet somehow, I, a straight male who is neither particularly handsome or suave or charismatic or unique or whatever, have been able to talk to women, including strangers, without being thought of as an asshole.

Not that I disagree with the gist of your comment, Falconetti, but I have a very hard time buying an assertion like this.
posted by ODiV at 3:53 PM on July 5, 2011


And here I just championed this thread over in the other MeTa as an example of folks beginning to work stuff out.

Well, shit. I thought fourcheesemac was being very open to adjusting his views. He apologized for a few misjudgements and statements, he was interested in actually hashing stuff out, he was asking questions. Damnit.
posted by likeso at 3:55 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


fourcheesemac has repeatedly stated that he misspoke (and apologized for it), at this point you're either calling him a liar or arguing in bad faith.

...or providing useful advice for next time


No, this is continued piling on for the sake of ignoring everything else he wrote. If you bother to read the rest of his posts, you'd see you're not dealing with the Gender Norm Champion. But, it's easier to make the argument you want to make, and everyone wants to argue against the worst boogieman they can think of. Poet_Lariat gets to be aggrieved and everyone else gets to be condescending.
posted by spaltavian at 3:56 PM on July 5, 2011


Not that I disagree with the gist of your comment, Falconetti, but I have a very hard time buying an assertion like this.

Fair enough, I should have qualified this by saying that it is not common that I, as an adult, have come across like an asshole (to my knowledge). I am sure I have been an asshole, especially when I was younger and less mature.
posted by Falconetti at 3:58 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I should clarify. Perhaps we aren't actually told those things. Perhaps we are being told similar, but not identical, things that we hear as "don't talk to women anywhere" and "any time you talk to a woman you're hitting on her."

Well, this is pretty much it. We're not being told "don't talk to women anywhere", it's just that sometimes we reduce a more nuanced position to this essentialist view, because it's easier than parsing social language, and it's easier than doing all the right social things and being turned down anyway.

Sometimes I think some guys have this binary mental state where the only two woman-interaction outcomes are "she went home with me" or "she thought I was a creep". I don't think those are the only results that follow, and I don't think that not being a creep gets you a prize with the ladies. If that seems unfair, like you have to work harder just to be moved into a neutral-viewpoint, well, it is and you do. Patriarchy hurts men too. But the reward for your work isn't ladies falling all over you; the reward for your work is not being a creep. It's actually pretty nice when you think about it.

(all preceding 'you's are the general 'you' and are not specifically addressed to any individual. English is a very silly language.)
posted by Errant at 3:58 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


My opinion in a nutshell: equal levels of ignorance-- most men's understanding of how scary it is to be harassesed by a stranger = women's understanding of how many guys live in their daily lives terrified of talking women even for a second.

Not that one is less or more worthy of being honored or pitied, just that, jeez those are places where we could all stand to learn how miserable daily interactions make us. Try to put yourself in the other's shoes. We are spirits, in a material world.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:05 PM on July 5, 2011


you dropped a noun, sir.
posted by clavdivs at 4:05 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Falconetti: Granted it was pretty nit-picky of me to make that comment and I absolutely get what you meant. But I made the comment anyway because I think when we're younger (or have a different mindset) we tend to think in absolutes a lot. So it's valuable to know that, yeah, chances are as a man it's impossible to talk to women and not be thought of as an asshole or come off as sexist at some point, but it's not the end of the world and its not like your only sane option is the complete disengagement from society.

Didn't mean to aim that at you. Just thought it's important to reach the subtext that some literal minded people (as I myself often am) might not be catching.
posted by ODiV at 4:06 PM on July 5, 2011


Falconetti wrote: Various incarnations of this have come up again and again this thread and in the parent thread. Yet somehow, I, a straight male who is neither particularly handsome or suave or charismatic or unique or whatever, have been able to talk to women, including strangers, without being thought of as an asshole.

So can I, but that's not what I hear, especially on MeFi. And occasionally, my innocent remarks to strangers do get misinterpreted as me hitting on someone. If I still gave a flying fuck what people I don't know think of me, I'd be very wary of talking to women for precisely that reason. I don't want to be "that guy" who is always hitting on the ladies in inappropriate situations.

It took a long time for me to learn that I can't control how people interpret my words. If they misinterpret them, that's on them, so long as it's not something that happens every time I talk to others. Until that point, it was very hard for me to talk to anyone, much less women, precisely because I didn't want to be a creep. Instead, I was terribly weird for never talking to anyone about anything. So if occasionally someone misinterprets my interest in the weather or whatever as me trying to hit on them, they need to stop assuming that every word from me is a come on.

I'd like to think it would be easier with a wedding band, but I somehow doubt that, given the amount of philandering that goes on in this world.
posted by wierdo at 4:08 PM on July 5, 2011


many guys live in their daily lives terrified of talking women

Talking women don't bother me. Even the silent ones raise little more than momentary disquiet.
posted by Grangousier at 4:08 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


That the community is blind to the irony in making this kind of hateful comment once again illuminates the double standard at hand.

Did the comment frustrate you? Did it make you feel as though people weren't listening to what you were saying? Did you feel marginalized? This is how most women in this thread feel when they are told that they do actually enjoy being inappropriately sexualized by men, but only if the guys are attractive enough.

I will not lie: my comment was sassy as hell. It was a little dose of "good for the goose is good for the gander", and I stand by my message. That all being said, I'm sorry if anyone sincerely felt that I was being too mean. If it helps any, my intention was to be playful more than anything.

The advice someone gave above about stepping away from the computer is a good one. At some point we are beyond teachable moments, beyond taking the high road, and left with what I personally feel is a fundamental lack of respect for women by some people on this site. I suppose, at that point, that there is not much left to say.
posted by jess at 4:12 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Potomac Avenue: My opinion in a nutshell: equal levels of ignorance--....."

Have you been listening at all to the bit where the worst that happens to one gender is that they may become embarrassed and the worst that all too frequently happens to another is that they get raped? Because that bit is kind of the whole point that every woman s trying to make here in that there is no equating the nature of the two issues.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:12 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Poet_Lariat: "I know literally nothing about Ortho or the 120 almost exclusively male Mefites who favourited that comment but I do find that a belief in such a scenario to be far less than socially competent at best."

Well, I was one of those men. Even as I clicked that little +, I knew that this painted me in a poor light for many people and I hovered over it for a few seconds trying to make my mind up. In the end, I clicked because the comment coincides with my personal experiences so closely, despite being clearly something that would incite wrathful responses. I was conflicted about it because I agree with those responses (even though I hadn't seen them, they were easy to predict in general), while still holding a world-view that coincides with the comment. I'm still conflicted about it because, while I understand it to be wrong in so many ways, I can't seem to help believing that there is a core of truth in there.

five fresh fish: "Dude, when one is autistic it can be very difficult to navigate the social world. One might make the mistake, say, of attempting to invite conversation with an interesting stranger by asking if they'd like to have coffee, despite it being 4AM, in an elevator, and the venue you suggest is your hotel bedroom."

You don't have to be autistic to be be socially clueless. Hopefully, the man in question and lots of others have learned at least this lesson - don't approach women you don't know in an environment where they may feel trapped.

neuromodulator: "I think calling for hincandenza to be banned is a deeply awful thing to do."

Although I understand why, I'm saddened that someone who is where I have been myself is shunned by this community.

five fresh fish: "You know what sucks about being a man? Other men."

This really sums this whole thing up for me - it infuriates me to think that I and others like me are considered potential rapists by every woman that comes in contact with me for the first time and I am horribly saddened that other men have forced women into having to take such a dismal, tragic and wrong view of 50% of the population.

I'm not suggesting that women are wrong to take this view, just that the view itself is not accurate.
posted by dg at 4:17 PM on July 5, 2011


It was a little dose of "good for the goose is good for the gander"

This kind of it's-okay-when-we-do-it-because-it's-sassy rationalization really doesn't help. Pointing out the double standard not about a fundamental lack of respect for women, it's about you doing the very same thing you're calling out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:18 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


most men's understanding of how scary it is to be harassesed by a stranger = women's understanding of how many guys live in their daily lives terrified of talking women even for a second.

Not that one is less or more worthy of being honored or pitied, just that, jeez those are places where we could all stand to learn how miserable daily interactions make us.


The fear you (as a man have) amounts to the fear of being rejected, thought poorly of, and/or embarrassed.

The fear I (as a woman have) amounts to the fear of being beaten, raped, and/or killed.

I am truly, sincerely all for people trying to put themselves in each other's shoes, but there is really no equivalence between the two.
posted by scody at 4:21 PM on July 5, 2011 [33 favorites]


ugh, sorry, weirdly placed parentheses there. My main fear, as an editor, amounts to the fear of being seen as someone who doesn't know how to punctuate.
posted by scody at 4:23 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


BP, the blinking text was unnecessary and annoying. Achievement unlocked?
posted by futz at 4:25 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Poet_Lariat wrote: Have you been listening at all to the bit where the worst that happens to one gender is that they may become embarrassed and the worst that all too frequently happens to another is that they get raped? Because that bit is kind of the whole point that every woman s trying to make here in that there is no equating the nature of the two issues

We're social creatures. Feeling like an outcast is a terrible thing. That fear is precisely why so many women choose not to report rape, so I don't see how you can so easily dismiss it when it's a man who feels that way.
posted by wierdo at 4:26 PM on July 5, 2011


Feeling like an outcast is a terrible thing. That fear is precisely why so many women choose not to report rape, so I don't see how you can so easily dismiss it when it's a man who feels that way.

Wait, what? Are you talking about men who also fear a shunning if they report themselves as victims of rape?

Cuz otherwise, you're not talking about the same things AT. ALL. and making a rather absurd point besides.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:34 PM on July 5, 2011


No, I'm saying that feeling shunned is shitty no matter what gender you happen to be and no matter what may have physically happened to you or not happened to you. We're social animals, like it or not.
posted by wierdo at 4:39 PM on July 5, 2011


Feeling like an outcast is a terrible thing. That fear is precisely why so many women choose not to report rape,

To equate the fear of having to do this and the fear of being turned down for coffee is... well, the kindest word I can come up with is misguided.

Moreover, there are a lot of reasons why women don't report rape -- including fear of physical retribution (against themselves or their families), fear of being branded a liar and a whore, fear of being blamed for it, fear of having to relive the rape through the investigation and trial, and yes, fear of being socially outcast. You cannot seriously be asserting that those are the same fears that men have of talking to women in public.
posted by scody at 4:39 PM on July 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Further, it's utterly ridiculous to be aware of the social pain in one context, but to dismiss it out of hand as you just did in another.
posted by wierdo at 4:40 PM on July 5, 2011


This kind of it's-okay-when-we-do-it-because-it's-sassy rationalization really doesn't help. Pointing out the double standard not about a fundamental lack of respect for women, it's about you doing the very same thing you're calling out.

And once again, she was called out for that. She then apologized. See: That all being said, I'm sorry if anyone sincerely felt that I was being too mean.

What more is it you'd like for her to do, exactly?
posted by nuala at 4:41 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


feeling shunned is shitty no matter what gender you happen to be and no matter what may have physically happened to you or not happened to you

Wowsers. Seriously, wow. Absurd point confirmed. False equivalency is false.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:42 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Scody, you're taking a general statement and making it specific just so you can attempt to crucify me. Dial it back, pls.
posted by wierdo at 4:42 PM on July 5, 2011


I see no crucifixion going on, wierdo. If you do, point it out.

jess: “I will not lie: my comment was sassy as hell. It was a little dose of "good for the goose is good for the gander", and I stand by my message.”

But, uh, it wasn't "good for the goose."
posted by koeselitz at 4:43 PM on July 5, 2011


EatTheWeak, so you're saying that a woman's emotional pain should be recognized, but a man's emotional pain should be dismissed? That's what I'm hearing.
posted by wierdo at 4:43 PM on July 5, 2011


Let me put it another way. We're all working for equality, not matriarchy.
posted by wierdo at 4:44 PM on July 5, 2011


Blazecock Pileon is calling out the tactics, not the stakes. The stakes are different. Nobody is arguing that the stakes are identical.

If you do not like the tactics, do not do them to others. That is a reasonable thing to bring up.
posted by adipocere at 4:44 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Scody, you're taking a general statement and making it specific just so you can attempt to crucify me. Dial it back, pls.

No. What a few people are pointing out to you is there is no way to compare potential being raped to potential being rejected.
posted by marimeko at 4:46 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


wierdo - I'm saying it is baffling to see some make a straight-faced comparison to the suffering of a man who struggles to talk to women and the suffering of a woman who is afraid to report her own rape. It's beyond goofy. You're not even comparing apples and oranges, you're comparing apples and power saws or something. I can't believe this even needs pointing out. In comparison to a rape victim's suffering, yes, the suffering of a dateless man damnsure oughta be dismissed - these things are nowhere near each other on the pain spectrum.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:48 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


koeselitz wrote: I see no crucifixion going on, wierdo. If you do, point it out.

You're right, it was just completely dismissive. Perhaps people think that I'm being dismissive of rape or something, which I'm not.

Clearly, this is not a discussion that will be fruitful in this environment, so I'll just bow out now.
posted by wierdo at 4:48 PM on July 5, 2011


She then apologized

Nuala, I don't know if she needs to apologize. She doesn't need to do anything. I'm simply recognizing the hypocrisy of what she did. On her part, saying "I stand by my message" is not any kind of recognition of that. For that matter, saying "I'm sorry if anyone sincerely felt that I was being too mean" is the typical kind of non-apology rhetoric that people regularly call out (albeit in other threads, where a different subject matter would make it acceptable to do so).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:48 PM on July 5, 2011


As I read it, ortho's comment didn't say that women only have boundaries for unattractive men. It said that a man's attractiveness will affect where the boundary gets drawn.

Would this woman have been equally off-put had the proposition come from her Handsome Hollywood Actor Of Choice? Really?

If not, then the elevator dweeb's only sin was not knowing his place on the desirability scale.
posted by Trurl


Sure, it it's brad pitt, she probably doesn't react the same. Hey, it's brad pitt! But your comment isn't what Orthogonality implied, which is simply if the stranger was better looking her reaction would be different.

If we're talking a bar scene, or lunch time at starbucks, Orthogonality might be right. But to believe that on an elevator in unfamiliar surroundings, alone at 4 in the morning and in an enclosed space that a better looking man might get a better reaction is just an amazingly ignorant comment. Maybe in real life Orthogonality completely understands the opposite gender. But with that comment he certainly doesn't show it.

That 152 or whatever other men agreed with that drivel doesn't change that.
posted by justgary at 4:52 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, one last comment, on not preview. It's not about being rejected. If you think my statement was solely confined to that or that I was drawing a perfect equivalence between rape and..whatever it is you thought, I can understand being upset by my statement. The isolation I'm talking about goes far beyond being rejected.

Ostracization is shitty no matter who it happens to and no matter why it happens, barring some sort of untoward conduct.
posted by wierdo at 4:52 PM on July 5, 2011


One of the wisest things I've ever heard someone say is "No one is ever the bad guy in their own movie."

I'm not sure anyone involved in this thread is being purposefully obtuse or pedantic; that said, I do think it's become more about being right than discussion.

Is there any possibility of the folks most involved just typing out "[target], I disagree," then leaving this thread for greener (or bluer) pastures? No points scored, no need even to see if you get a reply?

That would be so damned cool of everybody.
posted by Mooski at 4:52 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, BP. Sincerely, thank you for answering me. I was beginning to feel that there's no progress to be made in this thread.
posted by nuala at 4:53 PM on July 5, 2011


...these things are nowhere near each other on the pain spectrum

To be honest, they probably are nowhere near each other on the occurrence per interaction spectrum either.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:53 PM on July 5, 2011


wierdo:Feeling like an outcast is a terrible thing. That fear is precisely why so many women choose not to report rape, so I don't see how you can so easily dismiss it when it's a man who feels that way

And the whole worrying for a month about being pregnant with your rapist's baby, having to decide whether to abort it (hope ya don't live in Kansas), worrying the rest of your life about what STD you caught from the guy or having your sexual life well land truly messed up for years to come by the emotional trauma and trust issues that derive from rape - you're seriously equating all that to a man's fear of being rejected by a woman? ??

Again, you are not being part of the solution here. Not by a long shot
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:56 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh also - the reason why so many woman choose not to report rape probably has a LOT more to do with the shitty way that they are treated by the judicial system than anything else.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:58 PM on July 5, 2011


I really do not understand why it's so hard to understand that you risk ostracization when you ignore someone having told you (and an entire conference) explicitly that they do not seek sexual attention and then you approach them anyway. Which is what we're talking about here. If you cannot listen to the object of your attraction well enough to know what their point of view is then the disappointment you later feel at being rejected is on you.

More to the point, saying that wasn't okay should in no way have caused this kind of reaction and it's telling that it has.
posted by nuala at 4:59 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will make one more comment: It makes me sad that even on MeFi you can't expect people to read and understand the nuance of an entire comment before responding to it with serious GRAR. My fault for expecting more in such a hotheaded thread.
posted by wierdo at 5:00 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The isolation I'm talking about goes far beyond being rejected ... Ostracization is shitty no matter who it happens to and no matter why it happens

TO BE CLEAR: I don't know and don't care how isolated the man in this equation of yours is here. It is irrelevant. It is clean out the way. I don't care if the dude has obtained monklike durations of involuntary celibacy. It does not matter. Sexual frustration and sexual assault have never and can never cause equivalent or comparable kinds or amounts of suffering. Not ever, no matter what. To say otherwise is ridiculous.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:01 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


And one more clarification: I wasn't talking about the subject of the original post at all. I was continuing my thought about how men constantly hear that they can't talk to women in a way that isn't unwanted.

And it's still not about sex or sexual frustration, in the least.
posted by wierdo at 5:02 PM on July 5, 2011


most men's understanding of how scary it is to be harassed by a stranger = women's understanding of how many guys live in their daily lives terrified of talking [to] women even for a second.

You know, I've seen that Margaret Atwood quote about 'men being afraid of being laughed at, women are afraid of being killed' like umpty bajillion times, and I've always thought that it was a bad rhetorical flourish. Things can be true and still be hyperbolic and off-putting, so I've always thought that using it to explain why women have higher stakes in interaction is like using a howitzer to kill a gnat. To see someone actually use the scenario it from the opposite perspective, that of 'men have it rough, too' is... odd.

In an attempt to smooth over the waters, I'ma leave this youtube video of Bebel Gilberto singing Samba da Benção here.
posted by winna at 5:05 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


weirdo, I don't think it's that people don't understand or agree that ostracization sucks no matter who you are. It does. Being human is a strange and complicated and sometimes lonely thing, and it can be painful and frustrating to feel like how you want things to be (socially or otherwise) is not how things are playing out. That's a given, absolutely.

It's more that in the context bringing that up as an "it's hard out there for the guys, too" thing feels a bit out of nowhere. It's pressing an uncontroversial point—yes, everybody hurts, and that sucks—in a context where the conversation isn't so much "does everybody hurt?" as it is "this specific system shit women have to deal with really sucks".
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:05 PM on July 5, 2011


Dude, you appear to be under the impression that the reason people are mad is because they didn't actually read or understand you. Let me submit that they did read and understand you, it's just that you came across as saying something other than what you meant, and I'm pretty sure that "fear of being outcast" is neither the sole nor the primary reason why many women do not report rape, so your analogy was flawed to begin with.

I was continuing my thought about how men constantly hear that they can't talk to women in a way that isn't unwanted.

I would really like it if you would stop making claims about what all men constantly hear, because it's not true. If you constantly hear these things, that's fair enough, but please don't presume to speak for me.
posted by Errant at 5:06 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's more that in the context bringing that up as an "it's hard out there for the guys, too" thing feels a bit out of nowhere. It's pressing an uncontroversial point—yes, everybody hurts, and that sucks—in a context where the conversation isn't so much "does everybody hurt?" as it is "this specific system shit women have to deal with really sucks".

This. This a thousand times. I haven't commented in the thread on the blue because it was really frustrating to see an example of a problem for women turned into a referendum on men's feelings about social interactions. It's silencing to me and it's not the first time it's happened here.
posted by nuala at 5:09 PM on July 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


"I'm simply recognizing the hypocrisy of what she did"

What's hypocritical? To zing someone over a lazy and wrongheaded view they advanced earlier in the thread?

I think that hypocritical is one of those words that you just don't know the definition of, like bully or troll, and you trot it out there because your whole persona on this site has been reduced to two things: Being Aggrieved and Defending Apple.

I mean, seriously, you've been snapping like a spooked colt, seeing rustlers in the tall grass for years now. Trying to brand jess as "hateful" is sillier than clown shoes, and she put up with it a lot more than I would have.

So knock off your sniffling piety and chill out — just because she zinged one of your buds doesn't mean that you have to be the cavalry, riding in to rescue him from a one-liner.
posted by klangklangston at 5:14 PM on July 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


I haven't commented in the thread on the blue because it was really frustrating to see an example of a problem for women turned into a referendum on men's feelings about social interactions. It's silencing to me and it's not the first time it's happened here.

This is not limited to Mefi, unfortunately. Anywhere online I see a women's issues discussion begin, I tend to start a mental "WHAT ABOUT TEH MENNNZ?" countdown. It never runs for long.

Some fellas seem to think that the most important thing women must do in securing their own safety is to avoid hurting any dudes' feelings in the process. Seen it hundreds of times, am still boggled every time it happens. It's such an absurd thought to see expressed, I feel like I'm hearing the setup for a punchline that never comes.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:18 PM on July 5, 2011 [18 favorites]


sillier than clown shoes
posted by clavdivs at 5:27 PM on July 5, 2011


Errant wrote: Dude, you appear to be under the impression that the reason people are mad is because they didn't actually read or understand you.

I'm under the impression that they didn't read and understand what I wrote because they specifically stated that I was doing and thinking things that I specifically stated I was not. Ironically, that's exactly what I was talking about in my first post in this thread.

cortex, you're right, I was stupid to think that this discussion could be had here, although it wasn't out of the blue, it was a continuation of my earlier post.
posted by wierdo at 5:27 PM on July 5, 2011


it infuriates me to think that I and others like me are considered potential rapists by every woman that comes in contact with me for the first time

I won't speak for all women but I bet I'm pretty safe in saying that most of us here don't think this, and have not said this. I don't see the random guy on the street, on the bus, making my coffee, as a potential rapist.

Nuance, remember? If you are Random Guy and you approach me, Random Woman, for a bit of a chat, and you don't back off when I indicate that I really don't want to talk to you (or anyone), then that puts you in the category of People to Keep an Eye On. If you continue to persist, despite signals both subtle and overt that you should go away, then you get moved into the category of Someone Who Might Be Dangerous.

If you are walking down the street and you smile at me, I am not going to assume you're a rapist. Honestly. I went for a walk yesterday and must have passed several dozen men, of all races and sizes and ages, and I did not for one second assume any of them were rapists. Because none of them acted like creeps or people who might be otherwise dangerous.
posted by rtha at 5:28 PM on July 5, 2011 [31 favorites]


What's hypocritical?

The following has been the general progression, more or less, for justifying misanthropic jibes and accusations of violent tendencies towards women:

• It's just a joke
• It's just sarcasm
• Toughen up, wimp
• It's "good the goose", anyway

To the extent that the subject of this thread is about respect for human beings, as a general matter, the comments you are defending demonstrate the ugly nature of hypocrisy on this site in about as raw a form as it can possibly exist.

I think that hypocritical is one of those words that you just don't know the definition of, like bully or troll

I am certainly understanding what those words mean on a much deeper level as I read more of your comments, that's for sure.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:33 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yet somehow, I, a straight male who is neither particularly handsome or suave or charismatic or unique or whatever, have been able to talk to women, including strangers, without being thought of as an asshole.

I won't claim that no woman has thought me to be an asshole, but I'm pretty damn sure none of them thought I was a creeper. Because, you know, I make it habit to not hit up women in every damn environment.

There's a time and place for it, and it really isn't so hard to figure out.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:34 PM on July 5, 2011


Oh, and the stupid autism comment I made: yes, it was stupid, I should not have. I was kinda fishing for a reason to believe that mefi isn't filled with creepers.

But I guess it is. How very discouraging.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:35 PM on July 5, 2011


I'm under the impression that they didn't read and understand what I wrote because they specifically stated that I was doing and thinking things that I specifically stated I was not.

Thinking, no, I don't think you were thinking that the pains are equivalent. Doing, though: you did kind of equate them. I don't think you meant to, and I understand that you were trying to say that the general experience of fear and social ostracism is a driver of many anxieties, from the small to the large, without comparing the two experiences. But you did seem to compare them more than once, and because a "what about the men" attitude is frequently prevalent in these kinds of discussions, it may help to try to avoid that appearance in order to more clearly approach your point.

On preview: well, that was ugly, jamjam.
posted by Errant at 5:40 PM on July 5, 2011


BP, can you explain why I didn't see you didn't get anywhere near this angry about the original subject of the post -- a gender offense against women -- but when it came down to what you perceived as a gender offense against men, you accused me and about ten other people of hypocrisy and jumped in guns blazing?

I agree that men and women should be treated equally, but if you truly also believe this, I'm wondering why you're making the argument only on one side rather than both.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:43 PM on July 5, 2011


Poet_Lariat: "I personally don't self-identify as trans-anything but rather as only a woman. I use the trans conventions for context when necessary such as in conversations like this. My choice of self-identification may well be in the minority."

Respectfully, there are transgendered people who consider being transgendered part of their identity and while they may have to check off a particular box to satisfy a doctor's office or driver's license, it doesn't mean they have personally only delegated themselves to that box. I wholeheartedly respect everyone's self-identity, but I just felt like I needed to put this out there.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:48 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


BP, can you explain why I didn't see you didn't get anywhere near this angry about the original subject of the post -- a gender offense against women -- but when it came down to what you perceived as a gender offense against men, you accused me and about ten other people of hypocrisy and jumped in guns blazing?

Because BP, like everyone else here, isn't required to fight every single battle or respond to every thorny comment? I noticed you didn't say anything about the questionable comparison of autism to creepers that occurred earlier in this thread. Why don't you care about people with autism?
posted by lalex at 5:54 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Come on, rtha's comment was super helpful and awesome. Why are people focusing on the outrage comments and not listening to the people trying honestly to share perspectives?
posted by sweetkid at 5:54 PM on July 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Folks, we need people to do a whole less of the "I think this is your specific problem" out here in public with people who are not really actively participating and/or who are having real trouble. We made an executive decision and cut that comment and follow-ups out and we sort of need people to show some basic decency if this thread is going to stay open.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:00 PM on July 5, 2011 [17 favorites]


"The following has been the general progression, more or less, for justifying misanthropic jibes and accusations of violent tendencies towards women:

• It's just a joke
• It's just sarcasm
• Toughen up, wimp
• It's "good the goose", anyway

To the extent that the subject of this thread is about respect for human beings, as a general matter, the comments you are defending demonstrate the ugly nature of hypocrisy on this site in about as raw a form as it can possibly exist.
"

Well, no, they don't.

First off, it pretty clearly was sarcasm — I doubt my attractiveness (stunning as it is) likely to play a part in whether or not Trurl appreciates my comments.

Second off, you're totally conflating actual joking or even snarky zings with "violent tendencies toward women." Under your misapprehension, no actual joking could ever take place — you're essentially making a category error.

Third, to decry these as the rawest form of hypocrisy is pretty flatly bullshit. It feels good to type, but just means that I don't take your complaints seriously.

Likewise, insinuating that I'm trolling or bullying is pretty much a non-starter. While I'd take seriously an argument that I was bullying (I try not to), pretending that I'm a disingenuous shit-stirrer is pretty farcical. That you snap at twigs doesn't mean that others are baiting hooks.
posted by klangklangston at 6:01 PM on July 5, 2011


Because BP, like everyone else here, isn't required to fight every single battle or respond to every thorny comment? I noticed you didn't say anything about the questionable comparison of autism to creepers that occurred earlier in this thread. Why don't you care about people with autism?

Well, you're right. I didn't say anything about the autism/creepy issue (but for the record, I felt it was unfair).

However, I also didn't jump in with guns blazing and accuse individual posters of "hypocrisy" based on a mis-reading I made of a dumb joke, either, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:03 PM on July 5, 2011


I'm wondering why you're making the argument only on one side rather than both.

As lalex notes, I am not obliged to respond to every obviously problematic comment just to mark my agreement with you.

And the "other side of the argument" certainly does not justify your choice in responding to people like SP and hincandenza by behaving in a manner that is as odious as some of their views.

I made my position on SP's views (and similar) crystal clear at the very outset, and despite this you are implying that I am somehow a misogynist, simply because I stated that bullying sucks, regardless of where it comes from and regardless of what excuses you (and others) are using to justify what you're doing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:06 PM on July 5, 2011


we sort of need people to show some basic decency if this thread is going to stay open.

This is a totally, 100%, non-snarky suggestion: could some variation on this please become part of the MetaTalk guidelines? Because for all that this is a slightly freer part of the site, some basic decency would be a great minimum bar to set, and one that a significant portion of this thread has not attained. I'm not pretending to be perfect, but I'd happily support a more vigorous culling policy (for comments and/or users) who can't manage that.

The nastiness is awful to read, and the really thoughtful and thought-provoking comments (from all sides of the issue) are getting lost in the drama.
posted by Forktine at 6:14 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


It will make me sad if we definitively start using 'creeper' to mean 'creepy person'.

These are creepers. Observe that they are green and square.
posted by winna at 6:16 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


BP, please point out where I said you were "a misogynist." I never said any such thing, and to be honest, that's what's bothering me most.

The ONLY thing I was discussing with you was:

* You called out a comment that was a sassy joke and said "why are the mods letting this stay?"
* I said, "uh, that's a joke. Jess did not SERIOUSLY mean that people would like Klangklangston better if he were cute." (note: I am paraphrasing, but only in the interest of brevity.)
* You then accused me of claiming you were misogynist.

I'm sorry you interpreted what I said as "accusing you of being a misogynist," but I have to say I'm utterly baffled about precisely WHAT I said that has lead you to that belief, and would like you to point to the exact words I use which you feel imply you are a misogynist, and explain why you feel that way, because I sincerely do NOT get it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:19 PM on July 5, 2011


just because she zinged one of your buds doesn't mean that you have to be the cavalry, riding in to rescue him from a one-liner

That is the third time in this thread that you've expressed irritation with whatever BP-T cabal you've manufactured in your imagination.

The sheer pettiness of this aside, the fact that you are examining my favorites to see if BP is responsible for bestowing them seems unhealthy.

I am petitioning the court for severance. Whatever attacks you feel obliged to make against me, please leave him out of it - and vice versa.
posted by Trurl at 6:20 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


When you're working on a hot rod, it's important to have both the right creeper and the right creepers.
posted by box at 6:20 PM on July 5, 2011


I can't say I really understand the issue any better after reading this and the original thread on the blue, but one thing I can honestly say (and I'll understand if they don't believe me based on my past behavior) is that I do respect the work the mods do here more than I did 36 hours ago, and I feel kind of bad about the comment I made at the very beginning of this thread. I mean, they are still monitoring these threads! If I were one of them I'd have closed down this thread already and told everyone to take a hike, or at least take it to MeMail, although that may not be realistic considering the sheer number of people participating in the discussion. Not only do they have to monitor this shit but there are still new threads being created that they have to keep an eye on. I apologize for the over-moderating comment.
posted by MattMangels at 6:21 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


These are creepers. Observe that they are green and square.

Thank you, winna, for that peaceful interlude. I imagine that's what those Christmas Eve truces must've felt like on the Western Front in WW1.

A different kind of Creeper. (not quite so peaceful but it does feature Leon Russell on organ.
posted by philip-random at 6:22 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


MattMangels, that was pretty awesome of you. Kudos.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


BP, please point out where I said you were "a misogynist."

I said you were implying it, and I stand behind that assessment based on your words here, which I will requote:

but if you truly also believe this, I'm wondering why you're making the argument only on one side rather than both

If you want, we can follow the meaning of words in this sentence through and through, but you put me on a "side" which I have repeatedly indicated I am not on.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:28 PM on July 5, 2011


Well, you're right. I didn't say anything about the autism/creepy issue (but for the record, I felt it was unfair).

However, I also didn't jump in with guns blazing and accuse individual posters of "hypocrisy" based on a mis-reading I made of a dumb joke, either, though.


No, but you did jump on nangar after misreading one of his comments, yell at someone for observing that the issue was complicated, and imply that a comment describing orthogonality as someone who has "has irrational and paranoid revenge fantasies but is ultimately too cowardly to act upon them" as "harmless". And just the other day you hinted that another member's stylistic criticisms of an article might be misogynistic, although that's already been litigated in this thread.
posted by lalex at 6:39 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reaching way back in the thread here:
"It hurts that the orthogonality comment has over 100 favorites"

I'm sorry that you feel that way. I have mixed feelings about favorites but I'm in love with the fact that we have no "downmod" button and I try not to use faves in a hurtful fashion.

I faved that comment for a number of reasons, none of which was to indicate complete agreement with it. In fact I think the last line is about 180 degrees from correct. But I thought there was a kernel of truth in there, expressed better by richochet biscuit. I also felt compelled to register my disagreement with those who would silence speech with bullying personal attacks.

There were a number of things not to like about that comment and I didn't fave it the first time through. But it took courage to post and any of its faults pale by comparison to the damage done to this board by unrestrained personal attacks. A quote from Anastasia on another board I frequent:

"It's ridiculous to tear apart others as if people are indestructible. We are not. Words can kill and... They can save. Be careful what you say. We need each other, we need to be there because it does count in a million ways. "
posted by Manjusri at 7:04 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


What is it that attracts me to threads like this? It's so obviously such a stupendous waste of time, and mostly discomfiting, yet I've read all of this and the original. There's something really interesting going on here that I don't seem to understand at all.

For my part it is the nakedness of it all-- the confessions, the phobias, the bizarre attitudes-- flat out and unvarnished. You never get this sort of discussion in the real world because we are all social animals who just want to be liked and in the real world (aside from from drunken ravings) most people seek approval and agreement.

I was 40 years old when I first went on the internet and I was absolutely shocked at the naked misogyny I found; hard core stuff that shook me up. You would think I would have figured out by age 40 that some men really do despise women but to see their inner thoughts in black and white was a bitter, bitter lesson.

I don't know if anyone on this web site is a true misogynist, but there do seem to be a few are confused about how to talk to women. If I could I would befriend you and try my best to help you see women as just people, not "The Other." It can't be fun going through life so desperate yet so afraid.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:15 PM on July 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


BP, I really do apologize, but I can see that there's no way I'm going to be able to respond tonight. Will try to do so tomorrow morning.
posted by zarq at 7:23 PM on July 5, 2011


I said you were implying it, and I stand behind that assessment based on your words here, which I will requote:

As I said earlier, BP's argumentative peculiarity is that he decides what you meant, and won't allow any other discussion. There is no point engaging him, as he has moved from being a lefty scold to just a scold, and his scolding is based on his own idiosyncratic interpretations of intent and meaning, which will quarter no difference of opinion. I regret engaging him earlier, if only to mock him, and would encourage others to disengage. He's not playing fair, and never really has.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:24 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


I faved that comment for a number of reasons, none of which was to indicate complete agreement with it.

Yeah, one of the many things that is displeasing in this thread is that some people seem to think favoriting a comment indicates total approval. I understand if that's how they use favorites, but not everyone uses favorites for exactly the same reasons. I favorite things I like, things that make me laugh, things that don't represent my point of view but are eloquent or thought provoking, things that I think it took guts to say. I don't have favorite views turned on so I don't react to other people's favoriting. I recommend this change to your preferences if favorites on comments you disagree with make you unhappy, particularly because it's not a good indication of anything other than that certain users favorited a comment. Without knowing people's motivations or how many people read the thread or avoiding clicking "+", you can't draw any useful conclusions.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:27 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Without knowing people's motivations or how many people read the thread or avoiding clicking "+", you can't draw any useful conclusions.

Oh man, I made this exact point and it did not go well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:35 PM on July 5, 2011


Oh man, I made this exact point and it did not go well.

Yeah, I started that derail, but my intention wasn't to beat you or anyone else up about it, I wish that didn't happen. I just think the standard response of "favorites don't indicate approval" is generally not true, even though there are obviously exceptions. But of course, no one can know whether this is absolutely true or not unless you polled everyone.
posted by Falconetti at 7:59 PM on July 5, 2011


I also felt compelled to register my disagreement with those who would silence speech with bullying personal attacks.

I don't see the bullying personal attacks prior to orthogonality's comment. In fact, there are quite a few comments supporting the "this is nothing/hysterical woman" point of view, particularly in the first five or six comments or Nasreddin's heavily favored comments. There is a discussion about American women and their overfearfulness. And there are disparaging comments about Richard Dawkins. Are those the bullying personal attacks you are talking about? The comments about Dawkins? None of them are nearly as personal or bullying as what he said to and about Rebecca Watson. Or what Orthogonality said about her and by implication any other woman who shares her point of view.

I try to be very careful and reread things a lot. To me, things were pretty balanced prior to ortho's comment and if anything, were more against Watson than for. No, I'm sorry, these personal attacks are not there.

Yeah, one of the many things that is displeasing in this thread is that some people seem to think favoriting a comment indicates total approval.

Honestly, I think the comment is mean-spirited and misogynist. It is an awful comment. What is the kernel of truth? What is the little bit to approve? He made his message very clear, he said and I quote "the message here is that unless you're hot, you're wrong for even politely propositioning a woman." That's what the entire comment is about, that the elevator guy (who is not personally attacked at all by Watson and to this day remains anonymous, all she said is "don't do that guys, ok") did nothing at all wrong, he was in fact polite, and she's just shallow. And not only is she shallow, but it doesn't matter how a guy "propositions" a woman, the only problem a woman could have is that he's not hot enough for her to get "the warm glow of being desirable". He says "It wouldn't have been an issue" if she "fancied the guy" who cornered her in the elevator at 4am. She's just lying about all that other stuff.

So for all of us who think yeah this is really an issue, well we too are shallow liars who don't want to admit that we'd give it up in a heartbeat to that anonymous guy who never even SPOKE A SINGLE WORD BESIDES ASKING FOR SEX (this is what orthogonality calls "polite, respectful"), or at least we would feel flattered, if he were "hotter, richer, or smoother".

That is nasty.
posted by Danila at 8:07 PM on July 5, 2011 [37 favorites]


There was no reason before orthogonality's comment to assume that Rebecca Watson was any less than truthful about the reasons for her discomfort with the guy in the elevator and it's especially bothering to me that we're still pulling over her words as though she must have been lying. If we're not looking for ways to dismiss her and her feelings, then I don't understand why this is still happening? Because it hurts other people's feelings? Why does that get to be more important than her initial discomfort?
posted by nuala at 8:30 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


this thread was founded on defensiveness and went down in flames because of defensiveness. buzz-kill central.
posted by facetious at 8:48 PM on July 5, 2011


Honestly, I think the comment is mean-spirited and misogynist. It is an awful comment. What is the kernel of truth? What is the little bit to approve?

I wrote and deleted comments like this a couple times, but I totally agree. It's not just that people favorited the comment, it's that people keep bringing it up as a "kernel of truth" that really bothers me -- like that makes it appropriate, when no such kernel exists. It's all based on bias, and has nothing to do with the original thread topics. We don't know what the guy looked like at all, or how Rebecca Watson makes her dating/hookup decisions. Also the whole commentary about "no, no, she wasn't RAPED or anything" was the whole point of the post -- just because she wasn't raped doesn't mean she doesn't have a right to be uncomfortable. That was the whole thing about Dawkins' comment -- it boiled down to "well, you're not a Muslim woman so doesn't matter what you think, good that you don't have it so bad." That's really reductive and insulting. I said before, as have others, that I don't agree with Watson's actions in calling out the woman who disagreed with her. But I do think both women had the right to say whatever they wanted to about what does and doesn't make them uncomfortable and not make every point of objection relative to the other horrible sexual crimes that are committed on a regular basis.

Honestly, I was surprised more people didn't call out orthogonality's comment.

Finally, it's annoying that people favorited orthogonality's comment because there have been SO MANY other comments, from both men and women, that have been great or trying to move the discussion along, even if they aren't agreeing, and it's not just that people aren't favoriting them, they seem to be entirely skipping them over to comment on who's hypocritical and to recite over and over again the great truths in ortho's comments.
posted by sweetkid at 8:51 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


rtha: "it infuriates me to think that I and others like me are considered potential rapists by every woman that comes in contact with me for the first time

I won't speak for all women but I bet I'm pretty safe in saying that most of us here don't think this, and have not said this. I don't see the random guy on the street, on the bus, making my coffee, as a potential rapist.

Nuance, remember? If you are Random Guy and you approach me, Random Woman, for a bit of a chat, and you don't back off when I indicate that I really don't want to talk to you (or anyone), then that puts you in the category of People to Keep an Eye On. If you continue to persist, despite signals both subtle and overt that you should go away, then you get moved into the category of Someone Who Might Be Dangerous.

If you are walking down the street and you smile at me, I am not going to assume you're a rapist. Honestly. I went for a walk yesterday and must have passed several dozen men, of all races and sizes and ages, and I did not for one second assume any of them were rapists. Because none of them acted like creeps or people who might be otherwise dangerous.
"

I'm not very good at expressing myself, which is part of the whole thing around being socially inept, I guess. When I say '...I and others like me are considered potential rapists...', I mean that I now feel like every woman who doesn't already know me and whom I interact with considers me as a person who, in the right circumstances, would force myself on her and that such women are constantly scanning me for signs that I'm about to pounce. To be honest, your explanation above is more in keeping with my usual perception of the world and, regardless of gender, everyone pretty much does this to some extent, at least subconsciously.

However, many of the comments in this and the MeFi thread have me wondering how many women are sizing me up as someone they should be scared of. I'm 6'1", have one of those faces that makes it look like I never smile and am very awkward about interacting with strangers (yet I can stand up in front of 300+ people and deliver a presentation without a qualm - go figure), so now I'm wondering if that makes me fit the profile of someone to be scared of. The thought of that makes me feel a bit sick, to be frank.
posted by dg at 8:53 PM on July 5, 2011


i went back in time and murdered this thread's grandparents
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:55 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've felt like hicandenza before. I think many guys have. What started to cure me was reading threads on MeFi and Something Awful and seeing the community engage with people like that.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:00 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll just add that I am so, so glad that I am married and out of this scene altogether. If I was still in the game I could see how the stakes might feel higher. But for me, I never have to worry about whether or not I can approach a woman and ask her out because I'm simply not going to have to do it.

Interestingly, since being married (heck, since being firmly engaged), I've found that it's a lot easier to talk to women since none of that other drive is there. I can be relaxed and natural. I don't care if the woman finds me attractive or not, I just care whether or not she's interested in talking. I find that it's also a lot easier to concentrate on the discussion when no percentage of you is wondering whether you'll get in their pants.

Really, guys, I can't recommend long-term monogamy strongly enough.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:01 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think the guys in this thread, who are frustrated, are frustrated because they don't think long-term monogamy is for them. I think they're having trouble understanding, given all the discussion here, exactly what's appropriate for them to do and not to do.
posted by sweetkid at 9:06 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the lighter side: And then it dawns on me, she's running from me - comedian John Mulaney on the strange experience of being threatening (personally, I think he addresses it in a respectful and funny manner, but know that it is comedy and possibly offensive to some).
posted by Deathalicious at 9:07 PM on July 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


sweetkid wrote: I don't think the guys in this thread, who are frustrated, are frustrated because they don't think long-term monogamy is for them. I think they're having trouble understanding, given all the discussion here, exactly what's appropriate for them to do and not to do.

I think we all get that propositioning a woman in an elevator in the middle of the night is not OK. But some of us are wondering if it's possible to speak with a woman in an elevator in the middle of the night (or at any other time for that matter) without seeming like we're propositioning her or about to proposition her.

I can't say what the guy's lead-in of "don't take this the wrong way, but.." meant. In days gone by, I might have said something like that to indicate non-sexual intent, thus the confusion.
posted by wierdo at 9:10 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


...is this conversation basically a sociological text-based version of Team Fortress?

At this point, my more cynical side takes over and it seems that most people are too stuck into their positions to have a rational discussion. There's too much very real hurt on both sides to allow for much else; the few more seasoned voices on BOTH sides of the debate are getting drowned out by grar (the Internet meaning, not to be confused by the MeFite GRAR who seems very nice indeed).

You can vehemently disagree with someone and still have rational discussion, but it takes some serious mutual respect and sensitivity. My dad and I do this a lot these days (he's an uber-conservative republican, I'm too liberal to be a democrat). It's taken a lot of time and care to get to this point; it's not easy, and it might require far too much love than one can find on an Internet message board. So I don't know what the answer is, other than for all of us making a concerted effort to be nice to everyone, ESPECIALLY people who say things that we may personally find scary, because you can't engage with an angry or threatened person. And if we're not here to try to really hash ideas out, ...well, what *are* we here for? There are other sites we can visit and have our own point of view confirmed by like-minded individuals.

I'll admit to getting seriously, SERIOUSLY skeeved out by some of the things said here and in the FPP. I have so many personal experiences and experiences of friends which color my understanding of this issue and some of the comments here make me want to scream and cry, but as cathartic as that is for me (and as righteous as it feels), it doesn't make for productive discussion and isn't going to help lessen my skeeved-out factor. [note: the Internet makes it easier to wait until I'm calm enough to have a measured response. Alas, less so IRL, where I generally don't say anything because I am admittedly a wimp.]

Which isn't to say that we shouldn't call each other out when we see something that's not well thought-out. We need to not take attacks on our words as personal attacks. I've been called out on shit I've said. It's one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world. But I really, really, really think I'm a better person for having dealt with that discomfort and the resulting fall out.

I'm going to shut the hell up after this bloody essay. Sorry for longwindedness, but I think this online community is worth dealing with some GRAR and I needed to process all this. Thanks for reading.

TL/DR: Have some appropriate Gil Scott-Heron [RIP]. Hugs, y'all. There's a lot of hurt out there. Raising my wine glass to the day when we all hurt a little less and can actually talk about this shit without a firestorm. :clink:
posted by smirkette at 9:13 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Deathalicious, that was f'ng HILARIOUS.
posted by smirkette at 9:16 PM on July 5, 2011


I mean that I now feel like every woman who doesn't already know me and whom I interact with considers me as a person who, in the right circumstances, would force myself on her

There is a shade of meaning that you (and some/many of the men who are upset by this?) seem to keep missing, despite the fact that I and many other women (and a number of men) keep repeating it. To wit:

It is not that women who don't know you will think of you as a person who might force yourself on us under certain circumstances.

It is that women who don't know you cannot automatically know whether or not you are a person who might force yourself on us under certain circumstances.

Hence the famous analogy to Schroedinger's cat. Generally speaking, most women do not believe all men are potential rapists; it's that we can't automatically tell which category men fall into simply upon meeting them (or even upon knowing them for quite awhile, as anyone who has been assaulted by a friend, partner, or colleague will attest).

It is not a state of certainty; it's a state of uncertainty. Does that make sense?
posted by scody at 9:16 PM on July 5, 2011 [28 favorites]


it infuriates me to think that I and others like me are considered potential rapists by every woman that comes in contact with me for the first time

I just have to point out here that there are concrete things we can do to move the world in a better direction. Even just taking women seriously when they talk about feeling unsafe is a way to do that. By contrast, backing up dudes who say women just claim to feel the way they do when the guy isn't hunky enough, is a way to move it in the "women feeling unsafe" direction.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:17 PM on July 5, 2011 [18 favorites]


In that circumstance, no, I don't think there was an appropriate way to talk to her since what he wanted was for her to come back to his room. She'd clearly stated she wanted to go to bed. If he'd listened to her there wouldn't even have been a conversation here. It was that dismissing of her and her needs that's the core problem, in my opinion. He could have tried the next day or caught up to her earlier in the evening if he really wanted just to talk.
posted by nuala at 9:17 PM on July 5, 2011


I think we all get that propositioning a woman in an elevator in the middle of the night is not OK. But some of us are wondering if it's possible to speak with a woman in an elevator in the middle of the night (or at any other time for that matter) without seeming like we're propositioning her or about to proposition her.

I'd hazard unless you have something fairly urgent to say ("Excuse me, miss, but your hair appears to be on fire.") whatever it is can wait for a different time or place. I've actually talked to women in elevators before. Maybe they were just being nice, but they never seemed creeped out. Maybe they were just being nice, or maybe it was because: a) it was a short ride (to/from the 2nd floor); b) it was never a topic that would make someone uncomfortable ("Where do you work? What do you do? Looking forward to the weekend?" etc. are all relatively safe topics); c) daytime; d) only ever said something if they looked friendly and receptive to begin with.

That said, if I were single I probably wouldn't start a conversation in an elevator simply because there's a chance that the drive underneath would come through and create tension. And again, we're talking about a < 1 min. elevator ride sometime in the 10 am-6pm range. A conversation in a hotel, late at the night is just beyond the pale. At that point, people are ghosts passing one another in the night. Unless you're not strangers, best to just be quiet and at most nod in the other's direction.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:23 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've hardly ever talked to people in elevators, except for the smallest of small talk. " OMG it's so hot out" " So many floors" "Cute puppy" etc. I think the elevator is a red herring in this discussion though.
posted by sweetkid at 9:31 PM on July 5, 2011


But some of us are wondering if it's possible to speak with a woman in an elevator in the middle of the night (or at any other time for that matter) without seeming like we're propositioning her or about to proposition her.

Possibly. Like "Wow, some conference so far, eh?" or "Hanging out in the bar with everyone was fun, but I don't think I'll be making it to the first session in...[checks time] four hours!"

It might also not be possible - I don't know the individual woman you're imagining. And neither do you. It's a two-minute elevator ride, and whatever you have to say is probably not so important (unless, indeed, her hair is on fire).

If in your heart of hearts what you ultimately want from the encounter is her phone number or a date or something, then an elevator is not a great place to make your pitch. That study that I keep linking to? Near enough to 0% that it makes no difference of women say they would say yes to a stranger who propositioned them.

Pick your opportunities. You are not required to set yourself up to fail (by approaching strange women in elevators, for example).
posted by rtha at 9:39 PM on July 5, 2011


I told a story about a guy who wouldn't stop staring at me at a bar, and then when I left he chased me down the street hollering "why didn't you come talk to me?" I would not have been any more inclined to respond favorably if it was John Cusack who was staring at me and then chasing me down the street, and I have no idea why you think it would.

I was actually harassed by a famous singer back in my country once. I pushed him and told him to back off. He called me a bitch and told me to relax. I was 16. It was really fucking scary, and his being good looking or famous did not make it better.
posted by Tarumba at 9:41 PM on July 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


If we're giving our anecdotes about being creeped out by "hot," rich or famous men or whatever it is some guys think we're just secretly wishing for.

-When I was 17 I lived in a dorm that all my university's football players lived in. Coincidentally, I was cornered in an elevator by one of them once. It was a guy I knew, he was extremely good-looking, later went on to play for the NFL, it was early evening, and there was another guy in the elevator (who wasn't friends with either of us). And it was still heart-stoppingly terrifying. He "jokingly" had me pinned up against the wall and started "dancing" with me in a "sexy" way, and I could not get away from him. I panicked so much that I actually dropped to the floor and awkwardly slithered out from between his legs.

-Another time, in my early 20s, I was working the overnight shift at a 24 hour gym. A guy around my age would always come in there in the middle of the night, and it would just be him and me alone in this gym, on a desolate block in a commercial area of the city. He was probably one of the most conventionally good-looking guys I've ever talked to in person, but there was just something off about him. He would tell me about how he didn't have a bed or any furniture and would just write stuff on his walls. He tried to make friends with me but I just got that "off" feeling from him and I never wanted him to know anything about me or where I lived, and I was never comfortable with him all the times I was alone with him in that gym.

-Once, I was walking through a large apartment building in NYC on my way to see a friend (also in my very early 20s). It was the middle of the night, like 11 pm or so. A door opened. A guy stood there looking at me. He looked like a male model or something out of Norse mythology. He was also naked except for a leopard print thong. He asked me if I wanted to come in. I was kind of shocked, so I just kind of stood there. He said, "I can tell you're attracted to me." I could not honestly have been less attracted to him, I was seriously terrified.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:59 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


scody: "It is not a state of certainty; it's a state of uncertainty. Does that make sense?"

Perfect sense. Thanks.

It still saddens me that women have to even consider this sort of thing in every interaction they have. What a world we live in.
posted by dg at 10:07 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

>...there do seem to be a few are confused about how to talk to women. If I could I would befriend you and try my best to help you see women as just people, not "The Other." It can't be fun going through life so desperate yet so afraid.
If you're talking about me (the comment I'm quoting quotes me), I would welcome your friendship and anything you have to teach me, but it seems likely that your compassion is responding to a historical resonance which doesn't really reflect my current way of life. I was never exactly a mysogynist, but in the past I have been the guy in the elevator and worse. I've since learned better, though. I've been in a mostly peaceful and mutually respectful relationship with a woman for going on three years (we got married recently.) She studies feminist continental philosophers, among other things, and would run like hell from the domineering asshole I once was. I did meet her online, though. Still haven't really figured out the whole impromptu conversation thing. That really goes for talking to men, too, though. Heck, I think I find it harder to strike up impromptu conversations with men.

The obsession with the thread probably comes out of that resonance, somehow.
>It's more that in the context bringing that up as an "it's hard out there for the guys, too" thing feels a bit out of nowhere. It's pressing an uncontroversial point—yes, everybody hurts, and that sucks—in a context where the conversation isn't so much "does everybody hurt?" as it is "this specific system shit women have to deal with really sucks".
I think the hostile male reactions in these threads provide the context. It seems likely that it is precisely that sense of unmerited ostracism wierdo was talking about which brings some of this hostility forth. ("...it's understandable to be frustrated that you can't talk to over half the human race without them thinking you're an asshole for hitting on them even when you don't think you're hitting on them.") I'm not saying the sense of ostracism is necessarily accurate, but it is probably a large part of the emotional basis for the conflict here, and ridiculing the people who talk about it explicitly is only going to confirm the sense of ostracism, not undermine it.

I know it's not a perfect analogy, but the comparison to race relations does seem germane, here. Don't these threads look a bit like a verbal version of a classic tit-for-tat cycle of violence between ethnic groups? Both groups feel aggrieved about something members of the other group has done to them, and then members of each group then have a much lower threshold for attacking members of the other group purely on the basis of that historical grief, even though it usually has no practical bearing on the current situation. At some point, from the perspective of repairing the relationship between the groups, it stops mattering so much that one group violated the other more outrageously, because it's the grief itself running the show, not any sense of justice or self-preservation. (This is not to say that the relative outrage in rape, harassment or rejection/ostracism doesn't matter, only that belittling the experience of ostracism as a trivial grief relative to the experience of rape seems to be part of what's fueling the fire here.)
posted by Estragon at 10:10 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


But some of us are wondering if it's possible to speak with a woman in an elevator in the middle of the night (or at any other time for that matter) without seeming like we're propositioning her or about to proposition her.

Step 1: Pick any conversation topic other than "Would you like to come back to my room?"
posted by The Gooch at 10:23 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


It was the middle of the night, like 11 pm or so. A door opened. A guy stood there looking at me. He looked like a male model or something out of Norse mythology. He was also naked except for a leopard print thong. He asked me if I wanted to come in. I was kind of shocked, so I just kind of stood there. He said, "I can tell you're attracted to me." I could not honestly have been less attracted to him, I was seriously terrified.

Coke is a powerful drug.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:28 PM on July 5, 2011


(apologies in advance, i'm typing this out on an ipod, and it sucks)

My problem with the "race relations" analogy that frequently comes up is that men cast themselves as the black/hispanic/asian/etc. part, dealing with the women as "white people" part, which is a (perhaps unconciously) calculated inversion of the usual power relationship. If you want to use race relations as an analogue, try this:

Dude: Hey, how are you?

Lady: Hey.

Dude: Listen, bring my bags to 332, and don't be too long.

Lady: Uh...

Dude: There's a shiny dollar in it for you if you're quick. There's a good boy.

Lady: Uh... what?

Dude: How was I supposed to know you weren't the bellboy? Fucking tease.
posted by Errant at 10:29 PM on July 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Don't these threads look a bit like a verbal version of a classic tit-for-tat cycle of violence between ethnic groups? Both groups feel aggrieved about something members of the other group has done to them

Trying to make the "we're really both in the same boat" argument is as nonsensical 800 comments into this thread as it was in the beginning.

It's not about men's feelings and how they have to be taken into consideration as well. It's about men sexualizing women in inappropriate places and it's about the fact that 90% of rapes are committed upon women thus making us understandably wary. Men's feelings are not what this thread was about and not what the blue thread was about but I don't expect that to sink in for some people if there were 16 million comments instead of 16 hundred.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:32 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would not have been any more inclined to respond favorably if it was John Cusack who was staring at me and then chasing me down the street

To be fair, while he was running down the street John would probably be holding a boombox over his head with Peter Gabriel playing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:36 PM on July 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't think I've deliberately shit on people here either... [One paragraph later] ...I've also got to question why Flex chose to post the FPP in the first place. It seems almost like it was designed to be the ultimate Mefi IED. I can't help but think there was mischievous intent.

Hey look, you just deliberately shit on someone here! Mazel tov!

You talk about how you rarely feel that you want to participate in the discussion and how the clusterfucks make you want to take your internet custom elsewhere. How do you think it makes someone feel to be accused of making a bad-faith post with shitty intentions? You suppose it encourages them to make more posts and participate, or maybe not so much?

Flex is a friend, so your comment pissed me off than it probably should have. But all the same, it was a pretty prickish thing of you to say.

And I say that as a prick.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:37 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Estragon, I hate to say this, because it really seems like you're trying to create peace here, which I think is really necessary and important.

But to characterize women who are trying to talk about these issues, as, in any significant numbers, "attacking members of the other group purely on the basis of historical grief, even though it usually has no practical bearing on the current situation," to say that "it's the grief itself running the show, not any sense of justice or self-preservation" --- that just makes my jaw drop.

You think what has happened historically has no bearing on the current situation??? You think we're not talking about these issues out of any current desire for self-preservation? Just that we're holding a kind of grudge for long-passed grievances? You have got to be kidding me. Sexual harassment, rape, molestation, sex trafficking, and domestic violence all went away today and nobody told me? I guess nobody told the 600 women who were raped in the USA today. I guess nobody told the two teen boys in an SUV who buzzed by me while I was in a crosswalk calling me a cunt.

Statements like that are belittling of experience and what makes peoples' blood boil.

At some point, from the perspective of repairing the relationship between the groups, it stops mattering so much that one group violated the other more outrageously, because it's the grief itself running the show, not any sense of justice or self-preservation.

You're talking about this like it's past tense. What will "repair the relationship between the groups" is not just for one group to stop caring about how outrageously it has been and continues to be violated by members of the other group, and just get over it because it should stop mattering so much. It's for the group members doing the outrageous violating to stop doing so.

Look, it's horrible that people feel rejected and ostracized, and I truly sympathize with that, and I try to do my part to help change that (although it's not easy when you try to explain to guys how to make things go better and are howled down by other guys saying that women don't know what they want or are lying or guys should just learn PUA tactics.)

But the solution isn't to say "belittling the experience of ostracism as a trivial grief relative to the experience of rape seems to be part of what's fueling the fire here." Having experienced my well fair share of ostracism, ostracism IS a trivial grief relative to rape. What's fueling the fire here -- what is fueling this entire issue -- is the power imbalance between men and women in society. Continuing to put something like the ostracism that happens to men on a par with the RAPE that happens to women, is part and parcel of that. It hurts, it doesn't help.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:04 PM on July 5, 2011 [18 favorites]


Would guys really enjoy being drunkenly hit on in an elevator at 4am? There was a story hitting the gossip blogs about Karen Gillen (Amy Pond from Doctor Who) showing up at somebody's hotel room drunk and naked late at night. He called the cops, or at least hotel security.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:05 PM on July 5, 2011


I think we all get that propositioning a woman in an elevator in the middle of the night is not OK. But some of us are wondering if it's possible to speak with a woman in an elevator in the middle of the night (or at any other time for that matter) without seeming like we're propositioning her or about to proposition her.

Yes it is possible, but some things it may depend on, off the top of my head: reading body language, facial expression, eye contact, your relationship with the person, context, whether it is going to be a long elevator ride, when she exits on her floor are there going to be other people around (a safe space)... things like that. And if you do say something, you keep reading those signals and her feedback -- if you pick up that she is uncomfortable or not interested or giving you short replies, you close the conversation out as gracefully as you can and let her be. (Hell, if she seems really uncomfortable with you, you get out before your floor and give the space to them. It's basic kindness.) If that sounds complicated, most of those things we already have to do all the time when we start a conversation with strangers, man or woman. This is just with a little more awareness of what women face in their lives.

I get that these things come more intuitively to some people than others. Really, as someone who no one would accuse of being socially confident, I get that. But if a person does not feel so confident about reading these things, why would they not err on the side of caution, if they cared about women feeling safe more than they cared about their own needs? If you care about people, you err on the side of keeping them feeling safe and comfortable and respecting their space and boundaries, you stay clear of their boundary perhaps more than necessary until you get to know them. It's just kindness, just being considerate. In this case, this means if you can't be reasonably sure that you can start a conversation with a woman without making her feel uncomfortable, don't do it at all. So many other places to start a conversation! So many other places understood to be for dating and meeting sex partners!

Women's feeling of safety comes first. If you care about women, this comes first. This is non-negotiable. There's no I'm a nice guy, but.... What can you need that is above that, if you actually cared about women as human beings at all?
posted by catchingsignals at 11:15 PM on July 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


"And there are disparaging comments about Richard Dawkins. Are those the bullying personal attacks you are talking about? The comments about Dawkins?

I was talking about personal attacks in general, and specifically those in response to ortho's comment. But as an aside, I used to relentlessly plug this site to a celebrity I think would fit in well here, until I read some really ugly comments about her. I do think attacks on public figures are a concern, esp. on a bullhorn as loud as this one.

"I think the comment is mean-spirited and misogynist."

I don't believe Ortho intended it that way nor do I read it that way. Given that, I don't see the utility of cleaving to that interpretation. I suspect much of the anger comes from the list of things elevator guy didn't do, rather than the semantic content of the comment. That bugged me too. But I don't see how one can honestly characterize the post as bullying.

The line you quoted was the one I described as 180 degrees from the truth. I'm pretty much all on Watson's side on this, except maybe the keynote.

"What is the kernel of truth?

Well, I'm not sure I can say it better than the RB comment I linked. But here goes: A man's desirability has a profound effect on how he is perceived in these situations. Just that. This can be confusing for those not gifted with a facility in reading social cues. There are many possible interpretations for elevator guy's behavior including that he's a raging misogynist, but one is that of a very lonely guy trying desperately to make a connection with someone. If that's true I imagine that finding himself the subject of that vlog would be devastating.

My belief in this "kernel" doesn't mean that I think Watson is "shallow or lying" but that she's human.
posted by Manjusri at 11:21 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


As difficult as it may be for some guys to believe ("kernel of truth" argument), no matter how hot or rich you are (I'll leave out "smooth," because if you are really smooth you probably aren't going to make someone feel nervous or frightened instead of intrigued), most women are probably not going to hop into the sack with you if you trigger the alarm sense.

I'm well past the age that this sort of thing happens much any more, but I just had a very creepy experience in my own neighborhood which has always felt quite safe. I took my dog out for a walk a couple of nights ago and we passed by a house where a guy was standing on a doorstep (an apparent visitor) talking to another guy (apparent resident). As I approached (just walking down the street in the direction of our house) the visitor broke off talking and just stared at me. Weird. I didn't look at him, though normally if I encounter people on our walks, I'll nod, or say hello, or smile if I recognize them from the neighborhood. But the staring was out of the normal social comfort zone. I thought:

a) Maybe he's looking at the dog? Dog people usually check out other people's dogs. Still, weird.

b) Um, drug delivery? He's on the doorstep, he's not being invited in + the weird staring and ceasing of conversation. Odd.

So we pass by, with me resolutely not looking toward them at all. A moment later the guy gets in his car and starts in our direction, and I get us off the street to wait for the guy to pass. He doesn't pass, he slows down inching by, window down, staring. I don't look at him at all. I'm looking down at the dog while holding her in what I hope is a manner that suggests I'm restraining her from lunging forward to bite his face off, focusing all my attention on her while getting my keys out as a possible poke-'em-in-the-eye weapon, should he decide to get out of the car. Finally he takes off, and we hightail it home, hoping he's not circling the block.

You know what I didn't do? I didn't check out how hot he was at all, and no amount of hotness would have made me feel anything but scared. I also didn't check out how expensive his car was, because I wasn't going to go from Yikes! Panic! to OOH! He must be rich! Me like! even if he was driving a Rolls Royce with solid gold tires. I realize that a lot of guys in my situation would have checked out how hot the strange person (of their preferred gender) was, but for most women it's really entirely irrelevant when they're worried about their safety.

Now, maybe he really did want to ask me about my dog, but everything about his actions was so very wrong that I couldn't afford to approach the situation that way. This doesn't mean that if you are a man you can never say hello, and ask me about my dog. It happens all the time; nearly every day. I talk to men about my dog. I chat and smile and sometimes make friends. In fact, I was getting ready to go ring the doorbell of a nearby house belonging to a family I casually know because I met the father on another walk and he stopped to chat about my dog. In the daylight, without staring or stalking.

So, to guys who are feeling so angry, can't you see the difference? If you aren't crossing lines that make people feel worried, why conflate the advice to be cognizant of the circumstances and setting of your approach with "don't ever talk to women anywhere because they'll think you're a possible rapist"? Why conflate suggestions that it not a great idea to follow a woman to an elevator at 4 a.m. and once you're alone ask if she wants to go to your room with "never talk to a woman in an elevator"? I'm really not getting how it's so enraging to hear that maybe you should consider the setting, and the insistence about it just being a question of "hot or not."

You may have witnessed situations where some guy seems to easily pick up a girl under conditions that don't seem likely, but I'll bet you that there was a lot of communication between those two that wasn't obvious to your eye. I understand that this may not seem fair, but it's a simple fact of life that some people are much better at both verbal and nonverbal communication than others, just as some people have more musical talent, or intelligence, or have natural curly hair. I understand feeling some resentment about that, but I don't understand the idea that if the same guy made the same girl feel uncomfortable and worried, she would still respond to him – because she wouldn't.
posted by taz at 11:23 PM on July 5, 2011 [30 favorites]


A man's desirability has a profound effect on how he is perceived in these situations.

You say this in spite of the many women in this thread who have explicitly said otherwise, and even shared experiences chimed in to illustrate why this is false.

I would ask you to humbly consider -- on your own; you don't even have to answer me here -- why you are discounting all of those women's stories. Did you read their comments and decide they were lying? Or did you not really weigh all that seriously what they had to say in the first place?
posted by scody at 11:30 PM on July 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


after she had just given a talk about unwanted sexual advances at conferences?

I think I have the chronology screwed up or I'm failing to properly skim the YouTube video (or maybe this wasn't a part of that specific talk, happened later/earlier?), but I'm actually not seeing where in the talk Watson actually said anything about advances at conferences (or anywhere?). The only thing I noticed about people objectifying here was the vulgar and graphic mail she gets.
posted by floam at 11:32 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't believe Ortho intended it that way nor do I read it that way. Given that, I don't see the utility of cleaving to that interpretation.

I am reading this to mean that because you did not see the misogyny and bitter meanness in orthogonality's comment, you believe anyone who is upset by the post is being unreasonable.

I would advise you to reread this entire thread, and the FPP. You are discrediting input from many, many other Metafilter members who were offended by orthogonality's comment. Some of them are women, but some of them are also men, so maybe you'll be able to get past the idea that someone who disagrees with shitty comments that you like is not necessarily being unreasonable.
posted by palomar at 11:38 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, and to chime in one last time on this:

A man's desirability has a profound effect on how he is perceived in these situations.

What you're also missing is the scenario which -- counter-intuitively, I'm pretty sure -- a highly attractive guy in this situation could actually be perceived as MORE of a threat. That is, some Brad Pitt type wearing Prada and a Rolex may actually come off as more threatening precisely because his appearance sends the signal "I am used to getting what I want/I am not used to being refused," which itself would actually increase the sense of perceived risk (and thus heightens fear/aversion) under certain circumstances.

Yes: that totally contradicts the notion that all women automatically become weak in the knees for displays of hot alpha male power/aggression/dominance, which is pretty clearly the assumption underlying a number of comments here. But -- and I don't mean this sarcastically -- these are the things you can learn when you listen to what real women have to say about our varied experiences in the real world, rather than relying on gender stereotypes and rigid binaries to inform us what we really think and experience.
posted by scody at 11:52 PM on July 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


A man's desirability has a profound effect on how he is perceived in these situations.

No, in this case it does not. Specifically because Rebecca Watson had just spent time explaining on a panel that the key to getting women to participate in the community was to stop sexualizing interactions with them. A man's attractiveness is irrelevant here. The question for me is why are we still discussing hitting on women when just talking to them as human beings is what they asked for? Have you considered that no-one should have been hitting on her at all?
posted by nuala at 11:55 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


But what if it was Paul Weller?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:56 PM on July 5, 2011


And that's my cue to bow out now because I know you are probably joking, Ubu, but I wish you wouldn't.
posted by nuala at 11:58 PM on July 5, 2011


Sorry, that was a quip directed at scody - this thread is taking a looooong time to refresh so you got in first.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:01 AM on July 6, 2011


Also, when you're an average-looking woman, if Mr. Hotshot Alpha Male in a Rolex is coming at you, your first thought (or at least mine, I should really just speak for myself here) is "What does he want with me?" Because it's something that doesn't normally happen. It's suspicion, it's "this is weird and out of the ordinary." That was my thought during my encounter with the guy in the thong. It was like, "What does that guy want with me? What is going on here? What is he going to do?"
posted by Ashley801 at 12:03 AM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Weller doesn't wear a Rolex.
posted by scody at 12:03 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

>Trying to make the "we're really both in the same boat" argument is as nonsensical 800 comments into this thread as it was in the beginning.

It's not about men's feelings and how they have to be taken into consideration as well. It's about men sexualizing women in inappropriate places and it's about the fact that 90% of rapes are committed upon women thus making us understandably wary.
I can see that I did a poor job crafting this sentence in the paragraph you quoted from: "This is not to say that the relative outrage in rape, harassment or rejection/ostracism doesn't matter, only that belittling the experience of ostracism as a trivial grief relative to the experience of rape seems to be part of what's fueling the fire here." I mean it as an explicit rejection of the notion that "we're in the same boat," or any other trivialization of the outrage of rape or harassment. In that paragraph, I was talking about the dynamics which are fueling this conflict. Although rape and harassment per se are definitely by far the more important issue, it seems like here on MetaTalk it might be worthwhile to talk about some of the factors which may be making this conversation about rape and harassment so acrimonious, and what it might take so that everybody in the conversation could hear each other.
>You think what has happened historically has no bearing on the current situation?
The "current situation" being the the interactions which are going on in this thread, yes I do. Your own response to me may be a good example. For instance,
What will "repair the relationship between the groups" is not just for one group to stop caring about how outrageously it has been and continues to be violated by members of the other group, and just get over it because it should stop mattering so much. It's for the group members doing the outrageous violating to stop doing so.
This shifts the focus away from the hostile way we are relating to each other and onto another set of people who aren't explicitly part of the conversation, the actual perpetrators of rape and harassment. It's an understandable shift, based on anger and grief at sexual violence. But it moves the conversation between you and I to a very difficult position: you have suggested that I want you to stop caring about these violations, and therefore don't care about them myself. ("...not just for one group to stop caring...") As I said at the start of this comment, I wrote it a little unclearly, but that is not actually what I said in the comment you're responding to. If your interpretation of my comment "made your jaw drop," and you'd actually been interested in what I was saying, I think you would have been able to parse it out, or at least ask me what I meant, because "surely you don't mean it the outrageous way it seems to read." So this looks (to me) very much like you're responding more to your own (perfectly justifiable) grief and anger than to what I was actually saying. Where do I go in the conversation from here? Where were you hoping that I and your other readers would go? In any case, I think I'll go to bed.
posted by Estragon at 12:04 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


A man's desirability has a profound effect on how he is perceived in these situations.

Everyone's quoting this already and refuting it, but I'll go ahead and say this is 100% true, but probably not in the way you think. How a man acts in situations like these is a major, and sometimes overwhelming factor, in determining how "desirable" he is, which in turn, determines how he is perceived. Inviting a stranger in an elevator to your room at 4am makes that stranger very uncomfortable which makes you undesirable and therefore perceived negatively. Doing nothing in the same situation results in your desirability being a non-factor, which is about the best you can hope for in circumstances like that.
posted by ODiV at 12:07 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


No harm done. I'm just feeling tired and cranky, which means it's time for a break.
posted by nuala at 12:07 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Have you considered that no-one should have been hitting on her at all?"

I think that's obvious. But a charitable interpretation is that it was not obvious to elevator guy.

"100% true, but probably not in the way you think.

Definitely part of what I was thinking, and how I read Ortho's use of the word "inept".

Roadtripping tomorrow, not sure I'll make it back to this thread
posted by Manjusri at 12:20 AM on July 6, 2011


>You think what has happened historically has no bearing on the current situation?

The "current situation" being the the interactions which are going on in this thread, yes I do.


Dude, they're related. The current situation has centuries of history behind it. It doesn't, no it can't just go away, when two people, let alone 20 start talking to each other.

On a completely different note, I'm amazed people are still doing the back and forth over this, 850 comments later.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:36 AM on July 6, 2011


Okay, well that sounds reasonable, Manjusri. I'm going to tell you what I think is going on here, but it could be I'm just being my usual hyper-literal self.

I think the whole point of conversations like these is to get men to realize what actions/attitudes can make women uncomfortable. To point out, as you did, that someone who is desirable, and thus mindful of these boundaries, would be perceived differently is very prone to misinterpretation in this discussion. The reason for this, as far as I can tell, is that it's pretty much a truism if taken literally, so almost completely meaningless, unless we add some words or context we think are implied which changes the meaning dramatically.

I think it's hard to read your statement without either adding the word "conventionally" before "desirable" and without also thinking that "these situations" implies similar or identical action on the part of the hypothetical man. I certainly did at first, before I read it again trying to just read the words you had written.

This is why I believe scody responded that many women have "explicitly said otherwise" even though I've seen absolutely no stories involving any men described as anything close to desirable.

Again, maybe I'm beanplating this, but I think it's probably one of the major disconnects going on here.
posted by ODiV at 12:54 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm popping in to say thank you to PhoB, AZ, et. al. for saying all the stuff I want to say but haven't because I have found these two threads so disheartening and intimidating to do it myself, despite having taken the time read both of the darn things in full.

I also wanted to say, schmod, if you're still reading, don't quit on us. I can't count the number of times I've read a comment and though "wow, that is so true/insightful/well-phrased/whatever" and then seen your name at the bottom. I disagree completely and fervently with some things you've said in this and similar threads, and frankly find them pretty baffling, but I would still be disappointed to see you go.
posted by naoko at 1:06 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


To point out, as you did, that someone who is desirable, and thus mindful of these boundaries, would be perceived differently is very prone to misinterpretation in this discussion

I very much agree. I think that there's a fundamental misapprehension going on here, with some people saying that a hot guy could have gotten away with this.

Instead, in this kind of situation, his desirability, or lack thereof, is behavioral, not appearance. Like in the example Taz gave above, the guy that creeped her out wouldn't have been less creepy if he looked like an underwear model -- he would have been less creepy if he didn't stare and act threatening. A desirable guy, on the street or in the elevator, is one who knows when to just smile and nod and when to say hi, and who knows that cornering a stranger and inviting her to your room is a bad idea.

I'm sure there are all kinds of situations where someone who is hot gets results when us average people wouldn't. I don't really know, honestly; I've never been capital-h hot, so maybe I don't know what I'm missing. But I have been able to talk with women, including women who are much better looking than I am, and I'm pretty sure that for most women in most situations, creep/non-creep is a far more important distinction than is hot vs normal.
posted by Forktine at 3:00 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, yes. Imagine these different scenes, assuming no party is a rapist or psychopath:

Scenario A) Man and woman in a hotel bar, amid a group, late at night. They aren't speaking to each other, each is involved with talking to other people, but they snag eyes and smile at each other, then begin exchanging glances that mutually grow from brief to lingering. Somebody makes a loud, boneheaded statement and the girl looks over at the guy to gauge his reaction. He raises his eyebrows and makes a funny goggle face; she stifles giggles into her hand. He starts to take a drink but realizes his glass is empty and makes an exaggerated sad-face. She grins and takes an exaggeratedly satisfied sip from her own full glass. He makes a funny poor-me face and she laughs, then continues to talk to her neighbor while still occasionally peeking over at him to see what he's doing. He does likewise. More of the same. Eventually, she says "well, I'm tired, I guess I better get to bed," glancing pointedly in his direction. He follows her to the elevator, and once inside asks if she would like to have a coffee with him in his room. She agrees.

Scenario B) Man and woman in a hotel bar, amid a group, late at night. They aren't speaking to each other, each is involved with talking to other people. At one point their eyes briefly catch, and she smiles vaguely for a tiny moment, as you do. He tries to catch her eye again; she notices but doesn't respond and avoids looking in his direction. More of the same. Eventually, she says "well, I'm tired, I guess I better get to bed," not looking at him at all. He follows her to the elevator, and once inside asks if she would like to have a coffee with him in his room. She feels worried, and declines, hoping he won't react in any physically or verbally violent manner.

To the casual observer, everything about those two situations seems the same, except in one instance she takes him up on his offer, and in the other she doesn't, and also feels some alarm. But in Scenario A, she has invited him to follow her for purposes of talking, sex, or, probably both. He knows what it means because he's very good at instigating, carrying out and correctly deciphering that kind of communication. So is she. They have actually had a prolonged conversation before anything ever happened in the elevator, but almost no one else would notice that.

Asking for things to be fair, in the sense of the girl being just as likely to say yes to the guy in the B scenario is completely illogical. Let's look at Scenario B but with a woman who is trying and failing to get the attention of the guy. He's in a relationship, or she's not his type, or she reminds him of his sister, or his Ex, or he just doesn't like her general demeanor, whatever – he's not into her. He doesn't return glances or instigate or respond to any across-the-room intimacy and ignores her bids for attention. She follows him to the elevator and invites him to her room, and he turns her down. Is this a horrible injustice? While he probably doesn't have worries about his physical safety (though he could, depending on how she acts) he doesn't want to have sex with her or get to know her better, wishes she hadn't put him on the spot, and feels irritated that she seemingly ignored his earlier failure to respond. Is he cruel? Is this a spoiled bitch reaction on his part?

Mix these up any way you want: woman/woman, man/man, hot/hot, ugly/ugly, hot/ugly, average/hot, average/ugly, average/average – in Scenario A, the two are attracted to each other and have mutually conveyed that information.

In Scenario B, one person is not attracted, hasn't flirted, and feels uncomfortable.

Can we feel sorry and empathetic that the rejected person in B isn't as good at deciphering social information or establishing a rapport in a stranger situation? Of course! I reckon most of us are more like that than the confident couple in scenario A. Does it make sense to be angry at the man or woman who feels uncomfortable and turns down the offer in Scenario B? Are they shallow? Spoiled? Bitches or Dicks? Are they bad and wrong for feeling what they feel, or not feeling what the other person wants them to feel? What is their responsibility to the stranger? Is it incumbent on them to have sex with anybody if they would have sex with a particular person they were attracted to? Is it important for them to exhibit trust by going to the other person's room? If they feel uncomfortable should they force themselves to move past that and act against their instincts and preferences?
posted by taz at 3:04 AM on July 6, 2011 [21 favorites]


Weller doesn't wear a Rolex.

oh my god this entire time I have been picturing Paul WALKER. This is a revelation.

posted by elizardbits at 3:30 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Estragon: I know it's not a perfect analogy, but the comparison to race relations does seem germane, here.

In a funny sort of way, this ties in with the discussion of transgender and radical feminism we just had. One of the more aggressive arguments of The Transsexual Empire was that transwomen were men who were seeking to extend male privilege into the condition of womanhood - that by demanding to be treated as women, transwomen were actually seeking to poison the wells of womanhood. That's a remarkable position, especially given the relative numbers of transwomen and women born women, and also the extent of the loss of male privilege experienced by transwomen. What it does is seek to cast a minority as a threat to a vast majority - in a way, demanding that the status of minority persists even in situations where it is not the case.

That's a sort of mental judo, and it's something to be wary of when trying to draw equivalences - especially equivalences between complex and sensitive subjects. The difficult things about what you might call the basic race comparisons drawn in that thread - that it would be racist if a white person felt uncomfortable if a black person stepped into an elevator with them and propositioned them, and therefore it must be some analogous form of bigotry if a woman feels the same way about a man - are a) that it is a silly analogy and b) it works hard to put men in the position of the minority - in effect, to acquire the privilege of the oppressed. I mentioned upthread that a direct equivalency between the oppression of men and the civil rights struggle was a laughable one, and this is one reason why, although not the only one.

Your model is a little more complex, because it brings in the metaphorical idea of "people behaving as if you owe them a dollar" (that is, in the metaphor, expecting you to pay them attention and give them positive response because you are a woman, they are men and they are expressing their attraction to you in some way) and the literal idea of people asking you for a dollar - specifically, African-American panhandlers. This is a pretty tricky idea on a number of levels, but the most immediate level is that it once again means that the white man in the story is taking on the role of the oppressed victim of negative attention (for one metaphor only).

Saying "I had this bad experience with an African-American panhandler, but I'm not going to let that one bad experience stop me from engaging without fear with poor African-Americans, because that would be unjust and racist" and going from there to "and therfore, women, you should not let bad experiences with men prevent you from engaging without fear with me, because that would be unjust and the equivalent of racism", I think falls down on two levels.

First, it ignores the possibility that people might have different risk perceptions, based on their experiences. It might make you uncomfortable to have panhandlers ask you for money, or get annoyed when you decline to give it to them (or offer to buy them things instead - which, incidentally, I think has some tricky elements to it itself), but I think it's hard to map that onto the experience of sexual harassment by women.

Second, it ignores the disparities in power between these two situations. The guy who followed you up the street shouting that he was going to kill you - scary situation. But he was also totally marginalized. If the cops had arrived, they would not have questioned your story or asked if by dressing like you had a dollar you had provoked him. The woman driving the car did not tell you that this shouting homeless man was a really nice guy, and that you were being a bitch for wanting to call the cops over a misunderstanding like this.

I don't think this supports the idea that being sexually assaulted is equivalent to being threatened by a homeless man, or that women being wary of you, a man, on first meeting in a situation which has historically been risky for women (a dark alley, an abandoned parking lot) is equivalent to racism.

Short version - comparisons which compare one form of injustice to another form of injustice are dangerous. Comparisons of anything with racism or sexism are dangerous, especially when what is being compared with racism is sexism.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:38 AM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Eventually, she says "well, I'm tired, I guess I better get to bed," glancing pointedly in his direction. He follows her to the elevator, and once inside asks if she would like to have a coffee with him in his room. She agrees.

It works better like this:

Eventually, she says "well, I'm tired, I guess I better get to bed," glancing pointedly in his direction. He follows her to the elevator, and once inside asks if she would like to have a coffee with him in his room. She agrees.
--

Not sure why it's necessary to follow the woman into a confined space to proposition her, where she cannot escape. I agree it's better that they conversed before, and I'm sure a lot of people hook up this way, but it still seems inappropriate to me.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:04 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


If nothing else, this thread has got me playing ELEVATOR: The Game. What would I feel if it was:

Johnny Depp
Woodie Allen
Tyrion the Dwarf
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:13 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should add, I wouldn't welcome anyone's advances-- I just wonder how frightened I would be if it was Tyrion. I think I could take him, but then again he IS pretty muscular.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:16 AM on July 6, 2011


I do agree 100% with that, krinklyfig, and think the guy in A would have done it that way (outside the elevator); I was just trying to adhere to the original situation as much as possible in my hypotheticals.

(but outside is definitely better than inside, especially given that the propositioning party may be like, "Whoah! They smiled at me... and then used the code-word 'bed'," when the tired party may have been either completely unaware, or trying to be very careful not to encourage the propositioning party.)
posted by taz at 5:21 AM on July 6, 2011


Secret Life of Gravy, this is exactly why I encourage young women to always carry a live lobster with them – just in case it's Woody Allen in the elevator.
posted by taz at 5:24 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) is hotter to me than Johnny Depp. YMMV.
posted by mauvest at 5:27 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


If this is actually Tyrion (he must be snarkily confused by the elevator!) I would not necessarily get with him, but I wouldn't be frightened, because he's quite the gentleman.

Woody Allen is a total fucking creepo and I'm too old for him anyway so I'd ask him if he needed a new pair of glasses. Seriously, though, I would be hightailing it off of that elevator ASAP.

Johnny Depp, I would be so confused that I would probably faint.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:00 AM on July 6, 2011


BP, I saw your response to my question, but you also implied that I accused you of misogyny before that point. I'd like to wait until you also provide that quote as well before I respond, so as not to clog up the thread with multiple posts. thank you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 AM on July 6, 2011


Woody Allen, you talk about jazz.

Johnny Depp, you talk about Hunter Thompson, by which I mean drugs.

Tyrion, I, hmm, I guess you ask him why his show is so popular.
posted by box at 6:38 AM on July 6, 2011

>Dude, they're related. The current situation has centuries of history behind it. It doesn't, no it can't just go away, when two people, let alone 20 start talking to each other.
Yes, centuries of history, centuries of grief, which can't just go away. And the impact on the current conversation is to distort people's perceptions of what they're saying to each other about the topic on both sides of the conversation, which seems to be contributing to the ongoing verbal conflict. This maps pretty exactly onto the analogy to the tit-for-tat conflict that I was trying to draw. But if we look at the grief itself and how it's driving the conversation here, as I tried to do with that example in the comment you quoted from, we might find a way to see past those distortions and express ourselves so that others can actually hear what we're saying. You don't get someone past anger and grief by telling them it's inappropriate because their suffering is less outrageous than yours, even if that's true, which I accept that it is in this case. Best case, they put their hurt in a box and it comes flying out later in some equally disruptive way. (Very best case, they grow up while the hurt's in the box and deal with it gracefully next time it comes out to play. But forcing it out of the discourse altogether makes that pretty unlikely.)

I mean, the Schroedinger's Rapist essay was useful to me, and led me to reevaluate my behavior partly because it didn't trigger any defensive reactions as I read it. That was partly because I'd evolved to a teachable point, but mostly because that was a skillfully written essay which was sensitive to the anxieties of its target audience. (E.g., "Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person.") If everyone in these threads had somehow been forced to write in a similarly sensistive way, I think they would have been much more respectful and productive.
...I'm amazed people are still doing the back and forth over this, 850 comments later.
I'm trying to understand why I'm so compelled to watch this trainwreck, partly by getting in the middle of it. The reactions I'm experiencing are interesting.
posted by Estragon at 6:38 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm bowing out of this thread for at least a day or so. Possibly for good.

Apologies to Blazecock Pileon but (at least for now,) I won't be responding. Too much happening for me in real life at the moment, and I'm honestly too worn out and exhausted right now to keep up with this thread and continue the discussion.
posted by zarq at 6:43 AM on July 6, 2011


A lot of us have said over and over that a stranger who makes an ill-timed approach isn't necessarily a bad person. I and others have said over and over that we don't think of all random guys as rapists. Watson herself said that she didn't feel threatened by this guy.

But it's not my personal responsibility to assure the awkward guy who is maybe coming on to me that I don't think he's a bad person, and I hope he doesn't take my rejection of his offer to have coffee in his hotel room at 4 am the wrong way. It's perfectly fine to say "No," and leave it at that.
posted by rtha at 6:46 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


May I just say:

Opinions are like [butt]holes. Everyone's got one.
posted by butt elephant at 6:50 AM on July 6, 2011


A man's desirability has a profound effect on how he is perceived in these situations.

This is just a variation of "she didn't respond to me so she must be a lesbian" and as such, it's a distraction from the actual issues women.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:55 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't get someone past anger and grief by telling them it's inappropriate because their suffering is less outrageous than yours, even if that's true, which I accept that it is in this case.

That's a completely logical thought and thus has no place in this discussion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:29 AM on July 6, 2011


One thing about the whole famous person analogy nobody seemed (or I missed it) to touch on is the fact that when you take on that analogy, you kinda of implicitly move from "Is this acceptable behavior?" to "Is this successful behavior?" I'm a straight guy and George Clooney could very well succeed in groping, poking me in the eye, and stealing my wallet from me in the elevator, but that wouldn't make it OK. Celebrities are larger than life in much of the world and to many people, and the rules often do not apply to them.
posted by floam at 7:45 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

> ...going from there to "and therfore, women, you should not let bad experiences with men prevent you from engaging without fear with me, because that would be unjust and the equivalent of racism", I think falls down on two levels.
Thanks for your thoughtful response, running order. I agree with everything you say here, and just want to clarify that that I did not mean that comment as some kind of sermon drawing an ethical equation between wariness about sexual violence and racism. It was a framework for thinking about the issue which confused me but at the same time seemed to point to something important underlying the intractability of this conflict. Your observations of disparity in risk and power dynamics show why it makes no sense to draw an ethical equivalence between the two situations, and helped me to clarify my thinking about the issue. But it was never my intent* to say something like "This fear of sexual violence is ethically equivalent to ethnically-motivated fear of violence, so you should stop being afraid of us." That would be at least as counterproductive as saying "My experience of sexual violence is far more outrageous than your experience of ostracism/rejection, so STFU about your pain," because obviously the grief of sexual violence is going to cut far deeper, and be far harder to get past, than the grief of ostracism. What I was stumbling towards with the your-race-owes-me-a-dollar analogy was a better understanding of my own sense of ostracism/rejection, and your comments have been helpful in that regard.

I still think the comparison is germane, in that it brings into sharper focus the grief which seems to be driving much of the male hostility that has been triggered in these threads. If we're going to have a productive conversation about these issues, it seems likely that that grief needs to be out in the open (NOT as a negotiation chip, NOT to say men have it just as bad as women, or for any other rhetorical/political tactic) just as much as grief about sexual violence needs to be out in the open. Pushing it back into the shadows isn't going to stop it from running the show, it's just going to make it even harder to figure out what's motivating the intransigence you've experienced here. Pushing this grief back into the shadows is harmful in the same way l as pushing grief at sexual violence back in the shadows with "You're just a whiny bitch..." etc. It's not as harmful, because obviously the sexual violence is the central topic and the much greater outrage, and it's going to be much harder to see clearly through the much stronger grief. But I think it's a big part of what fueled the male hostility in this thread.

*I say in that comment "... I'm not trying to say that women are necessarily unjust for applying this reasoning to men, (you should all do what you want, and I'm grateful to understand the needs of the people around me)..."
posted by Estragon at 7:51 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's a completely logical thought and thus has no place in this discussion.
Thanks for clarifying. I'll go take my frustrations out on my cats instead. I will post video later.
posted by Estragon at 7:54 AM on July 6, 2011


I present a very delayed-reaction comeback to a joke Cortex made:

To be fair, while he was running down the street John Cusack would probably be holding a boombox over his head with Peter Gabriel playing.

Somehow, I get the feeling that the actual John Cusack would rather spit tacks than do anything that involved Peter Gabriel on a boombox ever again.

(Fun fact: when they were filming the scene, what was actually playing on the boombox was a copy of one of John's Fishbone albums.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:00 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's a Fishbone video. Maybe we can all agree, at least, that this is full of some delightful WTF-ery in addition to be being rockin'? All I am sayin' is give ska a chance.
posted by smirkette at 8:11 AM on July 6, 2011


I think I can understand where hincandenza's comment is coming from, on some level - if not at the flailing raging froth of intensity that it's dialed up to. The expectations of behaviour in polite society and the reality of what usually leads up to two people ending up in a relationship and/or having sex seem to be diverging to a point where timid, cautious, incredibly poor body language/facial expression readers *points thumbs inward* have little hope. I just wish I lived in a world where a woman wasn't afraid I might strike or rape her if she told me "you're making me uncomfortable" or "back off" to my face. I don't think women are by any means responsible for that inherent attitude, though. That's on my gender, and history.

sigh. Why can't we just describe our feelings in verbose detail instead of this ridiculous ape dance called subtlety
posted by tehloki at 8:27 AM on July 6, 2011


I think what Watson said herself - "wait for her to make the first move, just in case." is the end of this discussion, and the solution. "Wait for her to make the first move, just in case." Simple advice for guys. We can beanplate what "first move" means, but to me it would mean an unmistakable move toward you specifically.
posted by rakim at 8:34 AM on July 6, 2011


For what it's worth, tehloki, describing feelings in verbose detail is one of the many ways in which people socialize, and it can be the start of two people realizing they like each other. That doesn't go for everybody, though, more than anything else does (ape dances included), so there's a lot of trial and error and potential disappointment out there in the world.

I guarantee you there are women out there who are totally down with the Discussing Feelings in Verbose Detail and who would be into the tehloki experience. If it was in my power to guarantee that you would meet her sooner rather than later in mutually agreeable circumstances, I would do that, but life is trickier than that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:35 AM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm pretty sure 'the tehloki experience' is under construction right now at Canada's Wonderland.
posted by ODiV at 8:44 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not sure why it's necessary to follow the woman into a confined space to proposition her, where she cannot escape.

People keep focusing on this aspect. "Confined space", "where she cannot escape", "trapped in an elevator". Unless you make the baseline assumption that this guy, being male, is a potential rapist, and thus should be treated as a rapist, and thus she needs a way to physically flee after saying no, then the fact that it took place in an elevator is irrelevant. Technical capacity to run away only matters if you assume, a priori, a need to run away.

You want to know why it's necessary to go to a place that isn't the middle of a crowded bar, assuming he was following her around in the first place instead of happening to be in the same elevator? So that if rejected, this doesn't happen in public for everybody to laugh at you. You seek out the elevator, or the lobby, or other more intimate environment because a proposition is already an act with extreme emotional risk involved, and nobody wants an audience for that. Assuming that someone is seeking out an elevator because he doesn't want her to be able to run away is adding all kinds of things to the interaction that have nothing to do with it.


It is not that women who don't know you will think of you as a person who might force yourself on us under certain circumstances.

It is that women who don't know you cannot automatically know whether or not you are a person who might force yourself on us under certain circumstances.


The difference is pretty semantic if you, as people in both threads keep defending as the correct approach, take the leap from "cannot automatically know" directly to "and therefore must assume rapist" without ever stopping at whether that's a reasonable assumption to make individually or statistically.

Trurl spoke above to the effect that "Also, if the paramount concern is sparing the woman anxiety about being assaulted, he should not have gotten on the elevator with her in the first place." The internet, as is its wont, interprets this as "victim-blaming" and attacks Trurl for disrupting the familiar narrative with reason, but he's entirely right. If it's inappropriate for a man to come on to a woman in an elevator because it's a confined space and she is justifiably assuming him to be a rapist until he proves otherwise, then it's inappropriate for a man to get into the elevator alone with a woman at all. He's not some genderless nonentity until he opens his mouth, at which point he suddenly transforms into Schroedinger's Rapist. To the extent that there is reasonable anxiety about being in an elevator with a man because he might attack you, that danger - and thus, anxiety about the danger - is present as soon as the doors close.

If you want to say that the guy in our example was wrong to open his mouth on the elevator, then he would be just as wrong to get on the elevator in the first place, and the problem is with the chilling and escalating effect this has on all kinds of interaction. Assuming, as has been done in both threads with call-outs being dutifully shouted down, that if a woman gets uncomfortable in response to a man's action, that man's action was automatically inappropriate and wrong, is to deny the possibility of overreaction - yes, yes, haul out your antifeminist bingo cards, I've said something that means you can comfortably ignore everything I've said and file me away as dismissable - and to expand the definition of inappropriate behavior to cover practically anything. Saying you enjoyed Watson's panel and wondering if she's speaking again in the conference could, if said by a putative rapist, be interpreted as an attempt to determine her schedule so you can attack her, and thus is an inappropriate question. Asking if she wants to meet up tomorrow, as has been suggested multiple times in this thread by those deriding the initial request, could mean an attempt to get her in a place where she can be drugged and date raped, if you assume the guy's a rapist and allow this to color everything he says. Wait for her to make the first move? Why would she ever make the first move, if she thinks you're a rapist? It's a nonsensical assumption that makes actual interaction impossible. That's the problem. It's not about protecting men's feelings, it's about objecting to those defending an irrational fear that poisons any attempt at interaction.
posted by kafziel at 8:47 AM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Not sure why it's necessary to follow the woman into a confined space to proposition her, where she cannot escape.

Obviously not necessary or ideal, and this is not an excuse for Rorschach Elevator Man That Poorly Hit On Famous-ish Internet Person That One Time, or a refutation to anything, but I think some guys have an idea why that might happen, and why they may prefer that elevator for reasons other than confining. Especially if we go ahead and assume the dude was particularly socially challenged and nervous. Hitting on someone in front of a group can be scarier than doing it one-on-one. In his mind, maybe there's people to watch him fail and remember it (so it actually happened), and other guys' mental wrath. The places that can be the scariest for women might feel safer to men because if they fail (which they probably will, if this is how they roll), the rejection is contained to one stranger they'll never meet again.

If you want an example of what I mean by the mental wrath, go to your nearest high school, gain mind-reading powers, and mind-watch a table where there are boys and girls. There's a fair chance that if there's one boy hitting on a popular girl, you will find others nearby mentally throwing him off a cliff onto jagged rocks.

The horse, is he dead yet? My arm is tired.
posted by floam at 8:53 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Er, Jinx.
posted by floam at 8:54 AM on July 6, 2011


Getting in an elevator is a normal, neutral thing to do. Propositioning someone that you have never spoken to before, after following them into an elevator, at 4 in the morning, is not.

I mean, I understand wanting other people not to see someone turning you down, but I've not been in a hotel where the elevator was actually in the hotel bar, either.

If it's more important to guys at some conference to feel comfortable propositioning women at any point than to have women feel comfortable not being propositioned, well, then the guys should just admit it, and quit paying lip service to wanting women to come and feel comfortable -- they want women to come and *sleep with them*, which is a different sort of thing.
posted by jeather at 8:59 AM on July 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think some guys have an idea why that might happen, and why they may prefer that elevator for reasons other than confining. Especially if we go ahead and assume the dude was particularly socially challenged and nervous. Hitting on someone in front of a group can be scarier than doing it one-on-one. In his mind, maybe there's people to watch him fail and remember it (so it actually happened), and other guys' mental wrath. The places that can be the scariest for women might feel safer to men because if they fail (which they probably will, if this is how they roll), the rejection is contained to one stranger they'll never meet again.

But this is precisely why so many women make their testimonies in threads like this.

Our friend Sid the Socially Awkward Clueless Guy may very well be aware of what the "stakes" are if he tries to make his pitch in front of a crowd. But we are all saying this to inform him that "that's as may be, but for your information, here are the stakes for if you wait until we're in an elevator, and those stakes appear to be considerably higher."

We are telling Sid that "look, on the one hand, the stakes are potential embarrassment -- but on the other hand, the stakes are potentially freaking out the target of your affection and making her think you are a creep, and here is why." Now, I don't know about you, but "looking like a dork in front of other people" seems like smaller stakes than "making the person I want to ask out think I'm a creep".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

If it's inappropriate for a man to come on to a woman in an elevator because it's a confined space and she is justifiably assuming him to be a rapist until he proves otherwise, then it's inappropriate for a man to get into the elevator alone with a woman at all. He's not some genderless nonentity until he opens his mouth, at which point he suddenly transforms into Schroedinger's Rapist. To the extent that there is reasonable anxiety about being in an elevator with a man because he might attack you, that danger - and thus, anxiety about the danger - is present as soon as the doors close.
I don't understand this. Why should behavior not be part of perceived threat level? A number of people in this thread have already pointed out that maleness alone is not the source of the threat.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:01 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why would she ever make the first move, if she thinks you're a rapist?

Good! If she thinks you're a rapist, she will not make the first move. Why is that a problem?

If she does not think you are a rapist, then she can make the first move. That is what Watson says. Seems fine to me.
posted by rakim at 9:04 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


A number of people in this thread have already pointed out that maleness alone is not the source of the threat.

Seconding this. I also just recently shared an elevator alone with a guy who recognized me from us being in the same office, and he too struck up a conversation with me without my shivering and cowering in the corner.

That's because the conversation he struck up with me began with, "So, do you have anything fun planned for the weekend? I'm visiting my mom."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Somehow, I get the feeling that the actual John Cusack would rather spit tacks than do anything that involved Peter Gabriel on a boombox ever again.

OK, this has nothing to do with Peter Gabriel on a boombox, but I woke up this morning wanting to lighten the mood.

A year or so ago, scodyboy and I were out for dinner at our neighborhood sushi bar. This is L.A., so even neighborhood sushi bars have valet parking. So we've finished dinner, and we're waiting for the valet to arrive with my humble, boring Hyundai.

As we're waiting, Obvious Hollywood Dude pulls up in a Maserati or something. I'm distracted and don't really pay attention; all I vaguely notice is a dark-haired guy -- tallish, kind of puffy, actually -- get out of the car and brush past me as he heads into the restaurant.

My chariot awaits car arrives, and we drive off. My boyfriend turns to me and says admiringly, "wow, you were very cool back there!"

"Uh... thanks, honey?" I say, not knowing what he's talking about.

"At the valet. When that other car pulled up."

"Uh. Yes?"

"When the driver got out of the car."

"Yes, yes. The driver. What are you getting at?"

"He walked right by you."

"YES?"

"You were totally cool. It was like you didn't even notice him."

My bafflement is beginning to give way to alarm. "Who didn't I notice?"

"You're kidding, right?"

"FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY WHO WAS IT?"

"John Cusack."

I start shrieking in literally the least cool manner possible, while trying to turn the car around on Ventura Blvd. in the middle of traffic in the manner of someone trying to escape a fireball. "WE HAVE TO GO BACK! I LEFT MY PURSE! I LEFT MY SHOES! I LEFT SOMETHING!"

He gazes at me, disappointed. "It's not like he still looks like he did in Say Anything, you know."

I snort. "Say Anything. Please. Better Off Dead, dude."

posted by scody at 9:13 AM on July 6, 2011 [25 favorites]


Nthing karmakaze and other women on the safety of men in elevators. There are a lot of factors that play into when women, or at least this woman, feel safe in elevators: time of day/night, how many floors you're taking (i.e., duration of ride), how many other people are in the elevator, their general demeanors, whether there's an emergency phone, etc. This is stuff women weigh all the time in different situations, like taking public transit, walking down the street, getting their car in the parking lot, etc. It's not like we sit down and think about and deliberately identify risk factors; we just develop a sense of what "feels" safe.

Sure, I can say that a guy who hit on me in an elevator at 4 AM when I was away from home in a hotel I probably didn't know very well would probably unnerve me. That's also an obvious case with a lot of explicit points of suspicion. If the same guy gets in an elevator in my busy office building with me at noon, I'm not going to be wary unless he does something otherwise suspicious. This is logical to me and totally opposite to never getting into an elevator with a man ever.
posted by immlass at 9:14 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


without ever stopping at whether that's a reasonable assumption to make individually or statistically.

Given that women bear the majority of the responsibility for avoiding rape? It's reasonable. Women are taught from puberty on that the way, as a culture, that we can lower the incidence of rape is for women to change their dress and behavior so as to present less of a target of opportunity. So, guess what? That's the message we learned. We learned that it was on us to police our own drinks, to travel with groups of other women or not at all, to avoid being alone with a man unless we're willing to trust him with our safety. Until and unless this messaging changes radically, it's always going to be reasonable.

Here's my elevator / convention story. It was Saturday night at a big local science fiction convention, and I was dressed up to go out to the dance, wearing black BDU pants and this full-torso leather corset (image barely SFW, parent site NSFW). My husband and my best (female) friend and I were all being very flirty and high-energy when we got onto the elevator with a couple of other guys, and my friend reached out and patted the top of my boob to make it jiggle, at which point one of the guys on the elevator reached out and grabbed my other boob.

I have a history of sexual assault, and I kind of froze, but my friend slapped his hand away and said "Excuse me!! Who said you could touch her, asshole?" The guy purpled and took a step forward and said, angrily, "Well, you guys are touching her!" My friend said "Yes, we are; I've been her friend for a decade, and this other guy is her HUSBAND. Who the fuck are you?"

The guy took another step forward and said "Look, I don't know what you're trying to say, but when someone gets into an elevator looking like that, you have to expect --" and my friend said "OH MY GOD you are not SERIOUSLY going to pull out the 'She was asking for it, look how she was dressed' card are you?"

At that point, one of the guy's friends grabbed his arm and pulled him back and said "Seriously, dude, you're acting like kind of a buttmunch here" and he deflated and said "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, you're right, that was not OK. I'm really sorry, what can I do to make it up to you?" I said "Just get the fuck away from me!!" and he said "But I -- yes, right, I'm sorry. I will do that." And to the guy's credit, he did, including excusing himself from a panel the next day when I came in. But until HIS friend stepped in, he reacted by escalating the situation and defending his right to my body. What would have happened if his friend hadn't been there?
posted by KathrynT at 9:15 AM on July 6, 2011 [38 favorites]


One of the first discussions I participated in on this site was about sexual harrassment at science fiction conventions. It was then I realizes that it was unfair that the word "hysterical" is typically applied to women, because men were responding with a knee jerk defense of their privilege, at the expense of the safety of women at the convention, that richly deserved tbat appellation.

I used to think privilege was invisible to those that have it. Now I don't. Those with privilege must be aware of it, because the moment it is challenged, thye instantaneously form an army of idiocy to defeat the challenge.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:32 AM on July 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


He's not some genderless nonentity until he opens his mouth, at which point he suddenly transforms into Schroedinger's Rapist.

The problem with Schrödinger's Rapist is that whether the guy is a rapist or not is indeterminable, and he individually is both capable of being a rapist and not a rapist right up until he's raping you or didn't rape you. But where the analogy doesn't work at all is that the guy actually really was a bad guy or not before he entered the elevator, or the hotel, the woman just doesn't know it.

Since most dudes aren't rapists, and even if they are they're probably not going to rape you specifically, and because you shouldn't have to fucking wait around in the elevator lobby for a chaperone or empty elevator due to people sucking, it seems very reasonable for both parties to get on the elevator. But as you are given more information about this person, you could start to use some kind of (poor, because us humans suck at this shit) mental model to try to narrow down the odds for this individual guy being a threat. Also, things the woman does might have an effect on whether the rapist will rape her, today — it seems reasonable to not want to make strange guys angry. When I see a guy bigger than me, I sure as hell don't want him mad at me.

Now, I'm not really sure that I'm on board with the specific magnitude of fear out there. (And I don't mean in here. I mean in the parts of America where girls simply don't walk outside alone at night, where women feel like they need to carry handguns just to not get raped, etc.) We're a fearey country, it's what we do. I kind of wonder about the percentages of women who have been raped statistics we've seen, because people live a long time. A lot of those rapes might have happened when the feminist movement in the US was in a very different place, and I'm just generally curious what that trend looks like. Are there any studies out there that give these stats based on "Percentage of 25-year old women who have been sexually assaulted", or just by year, whatever? This might be a result of me still having a few troubles not imagining this as the Muslim racial-profiling analogy (even with the power-role being backwards) and not digging the part where we fear anybody based the type of human they are. Really, I think it is textbook profiling, but people getting raped is sort of more common than 9/11 events, and I can't really think of more civilized solutions that would result in less people being hurt. And I'm not going to tell other people who I can't really properly empathize with how scared they should really be instead.

On Preview, EmpressCallipygos: I'm totally with you. And we didn't even need Metafilter for that — Watson solved this already! "Hey dudes, this behavior you're prone to? It comes off creepy. Don't do that.". I'm not sure what made so many people see red. Maybe because she said the guy turned her into a sex object while he was at it or something like that? (I forget, and I've been up all night, sorry if this was a different thing.) I am not disagreeing with Rebecca on anything except her (unrelated) handling of the YouTube outing thing.
posted by floam at 9:38 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think what Watson said herself - "wait for her to make the first move, just in case." is the end of this discussion, and the solution. "Wait for her to make the first move, just in case." Simple advice for guys. We can beanplate what "first move" means, but to me it would mean an unmistakable move toward you specifically.
posted by rakim at 8:34 AM on July 6 [+] [!]


Sexism has come full circle then? It used to be that society frowned upon aggressive women, that girls should be "good" and not engage with their sexuality, to always wait for men to approach them. I for one and many others are glad tat women are not (as often) oppressed by being told to always be the passive one in the whole dating dance. Now we want to claim it's progress and good if men became the passive ones instead and take on the role women have had to endure for many centuries, that does nothing to promote equality.
posted by Shit Parade at 9:39 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Disclaimer: I've watched the (main? only?) vlog and seen ortho's and FM's comments, but that is all I know of the thread on the blue.)

Watson herself said that she didn't feel threatened by this guy.

Then why is the whole potential rapist thing so central to this discussion? Did ortho bring it up entirely on his own, or was he reacting to something previously posted in the linked or mefi discussions?

And why did she need address the guy in the vlog in the first place? I agree that she seems more bemused than afraid in her recounting of events, but if her point was not "don't do this because it's threatening" what was it? Maybe "You made me uncomfortably objectified (but not threatened)"? Or "Guys, listen, if you want to pick up women this is not how you do it"?

If we accept the narrative that he's socially inept, whether she felt threatened is an important distinction I think. She basically laughs at the guy for two minutes. For what? If it's because men must learn to respect that women are rightfully afraid of them, then eh ok maybe calling the guy out is worth the greater good. Rape is indeed that much heavier on the scale of potential badness than embarrassment.

But if it's that she doesn't like the thought of him thinking about her sexually (as I reckon her talk was somewhat about) or that she somehow actually wants to improve men's pickup game, then it seems to me needlessly cruel to single him out as the one guy everybody in the community should have a laugh at. The actual badness of his embarassment and shame over the incident seems at odds with an exchange like "want to have some coffee in my room? No? Ok." if that is what happened. (And like I said I don't know what happened. I am sincerely asking.)
posted by Dano St at 9:40 AM on July 6, 2011


Dano St, this happened the evening after Watson gave a talk addressing the conference organizers' desire to include more women in the conference, and her main point was that the constant sexual advances made it an uncomfortable place to be. So when something this blatant happened, she basically said "hey, that thing I was talking about? Here's an example of it."
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:46 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


ShitParade, don't be obtuse.

But if it's that she doesn't like the thought of him thinking about her sexually (as I reckon her talk was somewhat about) or that she somehow actually wants to improve men's pickup game, then it seems to me needlessly cruel to single him out as the one guy everybody in the community should have a laugh at. The actual badness of his embarassment and shame over the incident seems at odds with an exchange like "want to have some coffee in my room? No? Ok." if that is what happened. (And like I said I don't know what happened. I am sincerely asking.)

She singled him out as an example of how relentlessly clueless some people can be.

Let's pretend that her talk was about something totally different. Let's say it was about vegetarianism, and she spent a half hour talking about how she was a vegetarian and she found it annoying when people tried to tell her that "hot dogs taste fucking delicious, so being a vegetarian makes no sense."

Then she goes somewhere after the talk and a guy walks up to her and says, "I heard your talk. But I don't get why you're a vegetarian, because hot dogs taste fucking delicious."

She wasn't singling him out because of any "ha ha let's make fun of him," she singled him out because "he sat through my whole talk and then did the exact thing I spent a half hour saying I didn't like. What the hell?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sexism has come full circle then?

I did not say this specifically in the MeFi thread but I am saying it here: if you are not trolling, as you have said you are not, you need to look less like you are trolling.

There have been days of difficult conversations about this touchy topic happening all over the site in many different locations and your comments, maybe accidentally, maybe purposefully, seem to be designed for maximum impact and not for having a good faith discussion with the community. It's entirely possible that this is accidental and the result of a failure to "read the room" but from this point forward I'd like this to be something in the front of your consciousness as we all move forward here. You are more than welcome to email me if you have questions about this.

She basically laughs at the guy for two minutes.

That is not, at all, how I read what she was saying. Her express purpose for being at the conference was to talk about how the conference could be more inclusive to women. This was an example. I do not think that she was expecting it to blow up as much as it did. I think this was pretty much the opposite of the "name and shame" approach but the other side of the spectrum is to do nothing and just say "ah well, shit happens" which is what has historically been happening resulting in fewer women at these sorts of events. Want to deal with it? Have to handle talking about things that are difficult.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:50 AM on July 6, 2011 [15 favorites]


Now we want to claim it's progress and good if men became the passive ones instead and take on the role women have had to endure for many centuries, that does nothing to promote equality.

Oh come on man. Guys, and likely this guy, are at the top of ladder when it comes to equality. You're not going to be chatting it up with every woman you can find in an elevator one day, listen to Watson, then be enslaved by Joana the Hutt the next. Don't even waste your time going down the "we're oppressed!" road. Women in droves (including Watson) are saying they want guys to stop coming on to them. Many are saying they fear for their safety. Listen. You're not going to die or lose your rights if social convention begins to be "wait for her to make the first move, just in case."
posted by rakim at 9:50 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


So far, a woman's feelings of discomfort shouldn't matter because: And on top of that, a lot of guys are really angry because hey, they are the good guys and they should be able to hit on women without feeling like a rapist.

This is really starting to upset me. This is one of the few safe places I have, and i'm not sure if i can joke about ponies and swap recipes with people who think that my feelings are fundamentally worthless because it might make them feel bad.
posted by ukdanae at 9:51 AM on July 6, 2011 [35 favorites]


main point was that the constant sexual advances made it an uncomfortable place to be.

I'm kinda starting to think I'm goings nuts here. Can someone help me out and tell me where in the video she talked about that part? Is this in the 4-person panel discussion linked from the FPP, or something that she talked about this over the drinks at the hotel, or what?

posted by floam at 9:51 AM on July 6, 2011


And why did she need address the guy in the vlog in the first place? I agree that she seems more bemused than afraid in her recounting of events, but if her point was not "don't do this because it's threatening" what was it?

I think it was "don't do this because it's frustrating and makes conference-going yet another uncomfortable place". Person Complains About Thing They Don't Like is a pretty standard part of human existence. Watson mentioned something frustrated as an aside in context of something else she was talking about.

Why the discussion around the whole has escalated into discussions of boundaries and threatening behavior and rape and communicative misunderstandings and so on is mostly an Applied Internetonomics issue: the farther discussion (here, elsewhere) gets from that core, uncontroversial moment of beefing-about-an-annoyance, the less rooted it is in what actually specifically happened there and the more it becomes about people talking about one or another related topic that they have a personal stake in.

That folks end up talking past each other a lot when that happens is frustrating but pretty unsurprising.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:53 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm kinda starting to think I'm goings nuts here. Can someone help me out and tell me where in the video she talked about that part? Is this in the 4-person panel discussion linked from the FPP, or something that she talked about this over the drinks at the hotel, or what?

I believe it was the four-person panel.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:55 AM on July 6, 2011


This is one of the few safe places I have

And there are some people here who are jerks and/or sloppy speakers on this incredibly difficult topic. The topic is difficult because people have a hard time talking about it, so to me it's not that surprising that there are hurt feelings on both [all] sides of this.

That said, we'd really really appreciate if people didn't just drag out the absolutely worst comments from that long and annoying thread and call out specific users by name/profile. If you want to talk about something specific, please feel free, but just bringing up the grar--a handful of comments out of over 1000--as if it's indicative of the general site consensus starts more problems than it solves.

I am very sympathetic to people whose feelings about this community have been rocked by this. At the same time I feel like I have to point out that the moderation guidelines for this site do not include making it a "safe space" outside of some pretty broad "don't be total assholes" guidelines. I say that only to set expectations and not to chastise anyone or invalidate people's feelings.

This site, even at its most perfect, will always have some people who act like what other people think are assholes (whether they think they're being assholes themsevlvs is another matter). I know that's tough and times like this make it seem like the asshole/non-asshole ratio is askew but I'd encourage people to be patient, to maybe walk away if they need to, and to reflect when maybe this doesn't seem like such a raw spot for them. Thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:00 AM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


You want to know why it's necessary to go to a place that isn't the middle of a crowded bar, assuming he was following her around in the first place instead of happening to be in the same elevator? So that if rejected, this doesn't happen in public for everybody to laugh at you. You seek out the elevator, or the lobby, or other more intimate environment because a proposition is already an act with extreme emotional risk involved, and nobody wants an audience for that.

Tough shit for the guy then. Woman upon woman has posted in thread upon thread around here about how fraught turning down a guy can be. They have to be very careful because they have, in the past, been sworn at, flinched at, and even assaulted by aggrieved men who believe they were entitled to female attention/affection. That's where the Schrodinger part comes in. The moment a man propositions a woman, the woman has no idea how this is going to play out. It is entirely reasonable to expect that an aggressive "Well fuck you then you stuck-up bitch! You're to good for me?!" might follow a polite but firm rejection of an offer to accompany a man to his bedroom at 4 am. And that's nowhere near a worst-case scenario.

And that's why public is necessary instead of private/enclosed. Because at least with people around a woman has the ability to easily escape the situation in the (not necessarily likely, but reasonable probable) event that the rejection doesn't go over well. Furthermore, a man is going to be discouraged from freaking out if there are other people around. A person's fear of public embarrassment is nothing compared to avoiding a supposed object of your affection think "Jesus how to I get out of this without making him want to hit me? Because if he decides he wants to hit me there isn't a damn thing I can do about it."
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:03 AM on July 6, 2011 [17 favorites]


Sorry Jessamyn, I wasn't trying to call out as much as I was trying to distill it down to highlight the ridiculousness of the whole thing, but I thought that if i wrote it all out without citing that it would be wrong, somehow. Feel free to delete my comment.

I also totally get that Metafilter isn't going to be moderated to be my Safe Place or anyone else's, and I don't want it to be. I guess I was just trying to get across that there are real people reading these arguments like me, people who don't participate that often at the site but are really disappointed when they read stuff like this. I've read similar comments here in the past and it's made me think twice about some of my behaviour, so i was hoping that it would do the same. Sorry if i've made things worse.
posted by ukdanae at 10:06 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, the more I think about it, the more I realize that bringing up "celebrity relations" may not be as much of a tangent as I thought, as I've heard a couple of stories which may help to clarify the "sometimes an act can be different in a different context" point.

I think most of us can agree that a person asking a celebrity for an autograph is making a reasonable request. They set up events where you can do this, even, but if you bump into Jon Stewart at the grocery store or something, it's not totally weird of you to quick grab a napkin out of your pocket and ask something like, "I totally love your work, can I get an autograph?"

However: consider these two situations.

* David Tennant recently mentioned on a talk show that he was showering up after a workout in the gym, and someone came into his shower stall to ask for his autograph. He said that he was just so baffled by the surreality of the situation that he complied, but was considerably freaked out.

* Neil Gaiman once said that someone approached him for an autograph while he was at a urinal, and was engaging in the act that one traditionally performs at a urinal. He declined.

Now, most of us agreed that asking for an autograph is a reasonable request. But I also suspect many of us would also agree that asking for an autograph under those certain circumstances was inappropriate. Yes?

Therefore: there are some things that may be totally appropriate and fine in one context, but in another context may not be appropriate. Agreed?

....Just like the difference between asking a woman if she wants coffee, and asking a woman if she wants coffee in your hotel room at 4 am.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 AM on July 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


You want to know why it's necessary to go to a place that isn't the middle of a crowded bar, assuming he was following her around in the first place instead of happening to be in the same elevator? So that if rejected, this doesn't happen in public for everybody to laugh at you. You seek out the elevator, or the lobby, or other more intimate environment because a proposition is already an act with extreme emotional risk involved, and nobody wants an audience for that.

Tough shit for the guy then. Woman upon woman has posted in thread upon thread around here about how fraught turning down a guy can be. They have to be very careful because they have, in the past, been sworn at, flinched at, and even assaulted by aggrieved men who believe they were entitled to female attention/affection. That's where the Schrodinger part comes in. The moment a man propositions a woman, the woman has no idea how this is going to play out. It is entirely reasonable to expect that an aggressive "Well fuck you then you stuck-up bitch! You're to good for me?!" might follow a polite but firm rejection of an offer to accompany a man to his bedroom at 4 am. And that's nowhere near a worst-case scenario.


Yeah, also I'm a woman, and I've asked men out and men have asked me out, and I've rejected them and vice versa, and there was no public pointing and laughing. This isn't a ninth grade nightmare. We're talking about adults here.
posted by sweetkid at 10:17 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


ukdanae, did you mean to link to the user's profiles instead of the comments? The time links to the comment. The name links to the user profiles. Sometimes, I make that mistake myself.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:29 AM on July 6, 2011


Neil Gaiman once said that someone approached him for an autograph while he was at a urinal, and was engaging in the act that one traditionally performs at a urinal. He declined.

Who was it that that happened to, and they turned round to face the person interrupting them without... um... stopping? That might provide a disincentive.
posted by Grangousier at 10:35 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I actually kind of want to think that when Neil Gaiman refused to give out his autograph that one time, that he somehow used "my hands are full right now" as an excuse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on July 6, 2011


It still saddens me that women have to even consider this sort of thing in every interaction they have. What a world we live in.

I'm always amazed when I realize (over and over again) that a large segment of the population does not have to consider this sort of thing. How much extra energy I'd have!

What you're also missing is the scenario which -- counter-intuitively, I'm pretty sure -- a highly attractive guy in this situation could actually be perceived as MORE of a threat. That is, some Brad Pitt type wearing Prada and a Rolex may actually come off as more threatening precisely because his appearance sends the signal "I am used to getting what I want/I am not used to being refused," which itself would actually increase the sense of perceived risk (and thus heightens fear/aversion) under certain circumstances.


QFT. I have had WAY more scary situations involving guys who were attractive, or who were sure they were attractive, than I have with normal guys.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:38 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nooneyouknow, yes! Damn, that's really bad to just link to the profiles, I meant to just link to each comment. Really sorry about that!
posted by ukdanae at 10:40 AM on July 6, 2011


While I was walking home through Camden, some guy ran up behind me and grabbed my arse. Both cheeks! I saw him do it to another woman after he ran off. Neither of us knew quite what to do.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:41 AM on July 6, 2011


> Neither of us knew quite what to do.

Shoot his hands with a shotgun.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:42 AM on July 6, 2011


I can't believe I the whole thing.

I'm kind of sad that I did. The original MeFi thread felt a little ridiculous to me, but whatever. I didn't engage because I didn't have anything to add to the conversation. But then this thread... and how MetaFilter functions as a community...

I just want to start sputtering and foaming at the mouth. It's hard for me to sit here and calmly write anything and not just long all-caps screeds about listening to what the hell women are saying because they are human beings expressing feelings with their words and WHAT THE HELL I DON'T EVEN.

I've been through the boy-zone and SR threads and honestly, I have never felt like MetaFilter was a non-safe space for me as a woman until now. Now, I'm seriously feeling like we can't even talk about mundane shit without being mischaracterized as attacking men or implying that they're misogynist.

And really, (some) men of MetaFilter, it's trying my near infinite levels of patience to keep reading about how aggrieved you are and how women you've never met and do not know personally need to consider your feelings. If you sincerely feel this way, I don't even know where to start other than "It's not about YOU."

From my own anecdotal experience, when we first started dating my now-husband didn't understand why I would be so freaking cranky when I got to his place if some random dude had hit on me on my way over. Wouldn't it be flattering? He just didn't get it. Then he started hanging out with me in public more and saw the attention I got when I was with him, obviously realized it was worse when he wasn't there, and was able to correctly extrapolate that no, no, I was not flattered and realized that the behavior of these random dudes was, in fact, totally out of line. So, there's another case for a man who was just honestly unaware about how pervasive and noxious this kind of unwanted attention is for women until he actually saw it.

If you haven't seen it, just trust the women of MetaFilter when we tell you that it's there and pretending that it's not doesn't make it go away - it makes it worse.
posted by sonika at 10:45 AM on July 6, 2011 [26 favorites]


Now, I'm seriously feeling like we can't even talk about mundane shit without being mischaracterized as attacking men or implying that they're misogynist.

Yeah, "yet another in a long series of guys barfing up their lady issues on the internet" is so totally not implying that they're misogynist. It's quite explicit actually.
posted by Dano St at 11:01 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe it was the four-person panel.

Well, I watched the thing through, and then again in slo-mo and transcribed it. I'm pretty sure I'm not crazy and she really doesn't say anything about behavior at conventions in it. I can't promise you this is 100% perfect, typo-free, anything like that:

I apologize if this is too long, I was going to upload it to my web server but I'm having some kind of issue with my VPS it seems
Thank you, thank you very much for that intro. Can everybody hear me in the back OK? Yeah it's never really been a problem for me, but everyone else has been asking that so I figured I would as well.

I was a little unsure about what I would be speaking about because, the topic of communicating atheism is such a large one, and I really wasn't exactly sure what I should narrow it to. And then I saw the really interesting panel earlier today, on women, women atheist activists. And I was going to ask a question, at the Q&A, and I didn't have a question, so much as an hour-long lecture. So, I'd like to get that now. No, specifically I took issue with something said by Paula Kirby, whose work I really enjoy. But she made a comment that she felt that there was no problem with sexism in the atheist community, because she's never experienced any sexism in the atheist community. In the skeptical movement we refer to this as an argument from ignorance, and in the feminist community we refer to it as an argument from privilege. And I'm really genuinely happy that she hasn't experienced any, any sexism. But I don't think that's a proper basis to make a judgement on whether or not there is a problem with sexism and atheism. And she also later said that she didn't think that there was some great conspiracy to keep women out of the atheist community. Well I don't think anyone thinks that -- I think that's a bit of a straw-person, if you will --, I think, unless you want to consider the patriarchy, in general, as a conspiracy. Which I don't -- I don't think that there's any club getting together: "How can we get less women involved?", no I don't think that's happening. But there is an issue with sexism, and I thought that, because the topic of this panel is "communicating atheism", I thought maybe I could offer my perspective, as someone who communicates atheism while being a women, because it differs from Paula Kirby's experience, and I think it's important you know that her experience isn't my experience.

So, a few weeks ago, I have a podcast called the Skeptic's Guide To The Universe, and um... No you were right not to applaud, it's fine. That was the right decision you all made. No, and, if you're not familiar with the, it's mostly skeptical topics, science topics, but we occasionally discuss secularism and things like that. I talked very briefly on these talks I've been giving recently at atheist conferences in which I describe the religious right in the US, and their war on women they've been raging very recently. Just to give you a quick idea, in the first 3 months of this year, state legislatures in the US passed 916, er, not passed, sorry, introduced, 916 bills that restricted reproductive rights.

Um, amongst those that passed, were some really horrific things, like abstinence-only education must be taught in one of the states, I think in North Carolina, unless the school petitions the government to teach something called "Abstinence Plus", which is a way for religious conservatives to get abstinence-only education into the schools, while throwing in something about condoms at the end. Um, also some very serious restrictions on abortion, and also on general access to contraception, they're allowing pharmacists for instance, to not give contraceptives to women who ask them for it. And you know, they're protecting the pharmacists jobs, saying they're allowed to take a religious exemption. Which to me is like saying "a vegetarian priest can refuse to give the flesh and blood of Jesus.... [laughter] and still keep his job. If you can't do the job, don't do the job. So I spoke briefly about that, on the podcast, and I encouraged people in the audience who were concerned about the separation of church and state when it comes to things like prayer in schools, and creationism, I encouraged them to learn more about what's happening to women, and to get involved and help fight the religious right.

And then the emails started coming in. The first email was addressed to "The Female On The Podcast" [laughter]... My name is on the top of the show, everyone calls me by that name. It's Rebecca. It's on the website. But it was address to the female, and he was wondering why I was encouraging people to kill babies. He's an atheist. Another email I got was addressed not to me, but to the men of the podcast. It was basically, Dear Guys, won't you do something about that Rebecca? This isn't the first that.. I get those emails all the time. They're not addressed to me, they're addressed to the men, to shut up that girl. And it most-often happens when I talk about feminist issues, women’s-rights issues, things like that. And I'll also note briefly that that email was terribly misspelled, grammatically incorrect, and ended up "you should all just grow up" and then, "with great power comes great responsibility." [laughter]

And so my response was simply, um, thanks for your e-mail, it takes a lot of courage for a semi-literate adult male to quote spider-man... [laughter] and then tell us to grow up. [applause]

So I wish I could say that those e-mails were rare, but they're not. I get a couple of them a month, usually. More if I'm talking about women's issues. They're extraordinarily... there's some... they range in sexism. From extraordinarily sexist, to "this is probably kinda sexist." and it's quite disheartening to get these emails from people who actually agree with me on 98% of everything else that's important. But not on this. Then there are there e-mails from people who seem to agree with me 100% of the time, there are, I get fan mail, and a certain percentage of the fan-mail is graphically sexual. [laughter] And it's, you're laughing, I hope, out of a little bit of discomfort. [laughter] And if you're not uncomfortable, I'm gonna make you uncomfortable. [laughter] Because some of these emails do describe in graphic detail what these men would like to do me sexually. These are from the people agree with me and they think they're complimenting me by sending these e-mails, these tweets, youtube messages, things like that. So these are from atheists. And they don't necessarily understand that they're being horribly misogynistic, but they are. Because misogyny isn't something that's just relegated to religion. Religion can certainly bring it out, and strenghten it, but it's a cultural problem, and even atheists, even rational people, haven't necessarily rationally looked at their own ideas of gender, and equality and sex.

So, that's one of the things I like to do on SkepChick, that's one of the things that SkepChick as a website stands for is, it's a place where we combine skepticism and atheism and secularism and humanism and feminism. And through that we hope to sort of let know about what their privileges are and how they can help be more welcoming to women, how they can get rid of the biases they hold that they might not even realize they hold. So, what it's like to deal with other atheists as an outspoken atheist woman. And of course there's also, I should mention, the contact from people who disagree even on the atheism. The contact I get from religious people. I'm sure we've all heard of Richard reading his amazing hate mail. Which is hilarious. [chuckles] Which I should mention, is actually my cell-phone ring. [laughter]

I probably should have brought it up here. But yeah, I'm like walking to the grocery store, and suddenly my purse goes "YOU SUCK!", "I HOPE YOU GET BY A BUS!"

[Laughter]
[Dawkins leans over laughing, starts to say something]

Rebecca:

"...BY A CHURCH VAN.",

[Laughter]

... that's right. So, the hate mail I get, obviously we all get some pretty terrible hate mail. I'll just mention briefly, that as a women, a lot of the hate mail I get isn't just violent, I do get the death-threats, and you know, the standard sort of hate mail like that, but I also get a tremendous amount of threats from religious people that involve rape. Um, a huge amount, probably more than the death threats, are the threats of rape. Whether they're threatening to rape me, or they're just saying somebody should, because you'll probably be better off. They come in all the time. And it's incredibly damaging.

So, I'd just like to add my voice to the...the earlier panel I thought was really great, and I thought it was a great message to tell women, yeah, you do need to speak out, you do need to stand up, but you also have to knowledge what you're going to be facing when you stand up. You're going to be facing... you may be facing, obviously not every woman has these problems, it depends on probably what media you're using. Don't go on YouTube. Don't do it. And I'm hoping Aron can maybe speak more to that later.

But, we do need to acknowledge the fact that women in our community do take a risk by standing up ask speaking out. And when we acknowledge that we can help build a better support basis for them, so that when they start getting these terrible e-mails, when I was getting them, I was alone, and I would cry a lot about it. Until the other guys from the podcast started speaking up about it "you know these emails are terrible! Do you know how terrible these emails are?" and I'm like "Yes! Thank you!", And I just want to encourage you all to support one-another, and to supper the women in your lives, and to know that it is a problem, and to me to even watch your own language, and your own behavior to try to root out any biases that may be lurking within you.

And so, that's all I've got.

[applause]
posted by floam at 11:08 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, I watched the thing through, and then again in slo-mo and transcribed it. I'm pretty sure I'm not crazy and she really doesn't say anything about behavior at conventions in it. I can't promise you this is 100% perfect, typo-free, anything like that:

....You seriously watched the whole thing through just so you could type it out for us and say, "ah-ha, she didn't specifically mention anything about CONVENTIONS during her talk!"

Could you do me a favor? Could you watch the thing and actually listen to it for the content instead, rather than trying to find evidence that You Are Right And We Women Are Overreacting Again?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:14 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well it's explicitly stated in Watson's post (July 5th - yesterday):
And then I would make a comment about how there could really be more women in the community, and the responses from my fellow skeptics and atheists ranged from “No, they’re not logical like us,” to “Yes, so we can fuck them!” That seemed weird.

So I started speaking more about women. About how they’re not idiots. About how they can think logically but maybe there are other social pressures keeping them away from our message, like how we tell women they should be quiet and polite and not question what is told to them. I spoke about how people need role models, and there were so few women on stage at these events.

And I got messages from women who told me about how they had trouble attending pub gatherings and other events because they felt uncomfortable in a room full of men. They told me about how they were hit on constantly and it drove them away. I didn’t fully get it at the time, because I didn’t mind getting hit on. But I acknowledged their right to feel that way and I started suggesting to the men that maybe they relax a little and not try to get in the pants of every woman who walks through the door. Maybe they could wait for her to make the first move, just in case.

And then, for the past few years as the audience for Skepchick and SGU grew, I’ve had more and more messages from men who tell me what they’d like to do to me, sexually. More and more men touching me without permission at conferences.
posted by rakim at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Empress, I don't think that's what floam was trying to do.
posted by Vibrissa at 11:19 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos, I did it because someone on the Interent was wrong! I really did my best to read it for content. If you can point me to where I failed to read between the lines, I'd appreciate it. Besides conventions, I really didn't notice anything about hitting on women, besides you know, not sending graphic emails about raping them. I'm not saying this changes a whole lot — the guy hit on her after she gave a speech on sexual harassment, I think is the more fair thing to say. A lot of people seemed to think it was important that she had supposedly just given a speech saying not to do the specific thing that guy did. I don't think it's fair to assume from what I know that the guy did anything that was overtly sexual harassment.
posted by floam at 11:21 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I've been up all night, and I really, honest-to-mom, wasn't sure if I was confused or not, and I kind of wanted to nail it down.
posted by floam at 11:22 AM on July 6, 2011


Then I direct you to where rakim posted the express mentions of conventions above.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:22 AM on July 6, 2011


I don't think it's fair to assume from what I know that the guy did anything that was overtly sexual harassment.

He didn't.

Her complaint, from her video and the blog post above, is that she is pretty relentlessly hit on at conventions, and it's exhausting, annoying, and makes her feel like she is less an equal participant than a sexual item, and she would prefer if men didn't so this all the time, because it's alienating. He was one example of this.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:24 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Then there are there e-mails from people who seem to agree with me 100% of the time, there are, I get fan mail, and a certain percentage of the fan-mail is graphically sexual. [laughter] And it's, you're laughing, I hope, out of a little bit of discomfort. [laughter] And if you're not uncomfortable, I'm gonna make you uncomfortable. [laughter] Because some of these emails do describe in graphic detail what these men would like to do me sexually. These are from the people agree with me and they think they're complimenting me by sending these e-mails, these tweets, youtube messages, things like that. So these are from atheists. And they don't necessarily understand that they're being horribly misogynistic, but they are. Because misogyny isn't something that's just relegated to religion. Religion can certainly bring it out, and strenghten it, but it's a cultural problem, and even atheists, even rational people, haven't necessarily rationally looked at their own ideas of gender, and equality and sex.

If this isn't about unwanted sexual advances, I seriously don't know what would be. Listing every single instance of unwanted advance in an academic climate really shouldn't be necessary.
posted by nuala at 11:26 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


And by 'this' I mean the section I quoted.
posted by nuala at 11:28 AM on July 6, 2011


Well, I don't know what to tell you guys. I'm not trying to prove there's no sexism at conventions or anything like that. The thing I was interested in was whether or not the guy had just heard what everyone seems to agree he just heard. The closest I saw was that she said some people don't realize they're being misogynistic... when they're sending her rapemail. That blog post was from 24 hours ago. She didn't talk about getting hit on (unless sending people I want to rape you mail is hitting on them, I guess) in her video. I certainly don't think she HAD to announce to people, up on stage, that she's not into getting hit on in order not to get hit on, or anything like that. I just don't think she made it as clear as everyone was making it seem that there's much to do with the kind of is-it-or-isn't-it creepy behavior we've been talking about.
posted by floam at 11:29 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just don't think she made it as clear as everyone was making it seem that there's much to do with the kind of is-it-or-isn't-it creepy behavior we've been talking about.

I can only assume that she was granting him the degree of intelligence to be able to not have it spelled out explicitly as if it were a court briefing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:36 AM on July 6, 2011


The thing I was interested in was whether or not the guy had just heard what everyone seems to agree he just heard.

Since she was using that as an example of a broader trend, I wonder if it really matters whether he heard it or not. we seem to be fixated on the guy in the elevator, but he is a minor sampling of a larger trend, and I don't see the value in going over every shred of that particular story like a group of amateur CSIs in order to see whether or not he's guilty.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:38 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


She didn't mention rape at all in the part I quoted, however. Hence her mentioning the belief that the people sending the messages thinking it was flattering even though she did not see it that way. She talked about sexual advances, albeit explicit ones. I really think that not seeing a connection is a matter of being convinced that *I* must be the exception. Hence, her saying in her vlog 'please don't do that'.
posted by nuala at 11:41 AM on July 6, 2011


Dano St: But if it's that she doesn't like the thought of him thinking about her sexually (as I reckon her talk was somewhat about) or that she somehow actually wants to improve men's pickup game, then it seems to me needlessly cruel to single him out as the one guy everybody in the community should have a laugh at.

It's surprising that you watched the whole vlog and come out thinking that she singled him out. In fact, she did not name him, there or elsewhere. It's a shame that you didn't look at the other thread, because at various points in that thread people say "Did she have to name and shame him/publicly humiliate him/ruin his reputation?", and others responded that she did not name him.

Given how little we know about this guy - because she has said nothing more than how he behaved at 4am one night - it's interesting what's being said about him, either without evidence or actually in direct denial of the evidence. I think he's become something of a representative of a lot of personal anxieties. He's been called desperate and in need of human contact. It's been suggested that he may be autistic. I have a feeling that the recurrent belief that he has been singled out for humiliation is perhaps reflective of a fear of same.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:43 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Given how little we know about this guy - because she has said nothing more than how he behaved at 4am one night - it's interesting what's being said about him, either without evidence or actually in direct denial of the evidence. I think he's become something of a representative of a lot of personal anxieties. He's been called desperate and in need of human contact. It's been suggested that he may be autistic. I have a feeling that the recurrent belief that he has been singled out for humiliation is perhaps reflective of a fear of same.


I agree, especially with all the people commenting that he "poor guy"is "lonely," etc. He could be out trying to cheat on his girlfriend. He could have been in an open relationship. He could have been bisexual and picking up a girl after a long time with men. He could have been desperate and lonely, but he could have been a million other things as well.
posted by sweetkid at 11:47 AM on July 6, 2011


I seriously wish she would identify the guy.

I don't see the value in going over every shred of that particular story like a group of amateur CSIs in order to see whether or not he's guilty.

Oh I do. Because then you get specifics, and you can get out of the waters of speculation and imagination. If he says "I heard her say it and I ignored it", if he says "I left before she did, then happened to run into her in the elevator", if he says "I don't know, I just really was attracted to her, I am stupid", it sheds light on that part of the story. I like having more context and more information about an interaction when trying to judge that interaction. It's about the larger idea, but this particular instance is certainly worthy of being examined with the significant amount of information that is currently missing.
posted by rakim at 11:48 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's all speculative since we don't know who this guy even is because he wasn't the point. He hasn't come forward and there's no reason to believe he would. The behavior was the point. And since all she wanted was for the behavior to stop, I don't know why his motivations matter. It was a reasonable request.
posted by nuala at 11:51 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


you can get out of the waters of speculation and imagination.

You can also get out of them by recognizing that this example was an aside, meant merely as the most recent example of a trend.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:53 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, "yet another in a long series of guys barfing up their lady issues on the internet" is so totally not implying that they're misogynist. It's quite explicit actually.

What?

Is this what you think I was saying? Because really, misreadings like that are what makes what could be an otherwise productive conversation into the hyper-defensive clusterfuck that we've got going on here.

That's not what I said in any way shape or form.
posted by sonika at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2011


It's not about the specific situation. It's about a general pattern of behavior of one group toward another group they're claiming to value and how actions they might see as innocent often alienate that other group. Light doesn't need to be shed on that part of the story--this isn't something to logically dissect.

(I suspect this is where a lot of these conversations are running into trouble, both within the atheist community and on metafilter. It's an experiential and, yes, anecdotal account that's all about subjectivity (because the men in question can't experience this directly, so they have to rely on the experiences of women). Experience and anecdote and subjectivity are all things that are often automatically rejected by those who embrace logic, never mind the dismissal of feelings.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:56 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd laugh at someone trying to get me to name this guy if I were her. Because the moment she does she'll get hell rained down on her all over again. If he wants to come forward, he will, but I think that's extraordinarily unlikely.
posted by nuala at 11:56 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is this what you think I was saying?

No, it's something someone else said, two days ago. I was confused too and had to CTRL-F to figure it out.

These conversations work best if you take up your issues with things you don't like with the people who said them and don't hold them against other commenters.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:02 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not rejecting anything. I am the one posting Watson's own words, again and again. I am not rejecting the aggregate, the larger point - in fact I am holding up Watson's words to do just that - talk about the the general pattern of behavior. But I think it is ridiculous to act like you haven't seen comment after comment dissecting the time, the place, the words, the environment - everything about the interaction. And that is a missing piece. As missing as if we knew from both people what had been said, but didn't know where, or what time it happened at. As many women in this thread have said, context matters. This interaction is meaningful and women in this thread have been discussing many points of it. The larger, problematic behavior pattern is meaningful and has been getting discussed also.
posted by rakim at 12:05 PM on July 6, 2011


Just for the record, I stand by my deleted comment, but I have no objection to deleting it for the sake of site hygiene-- or any other reason-- if that's what cortex and jessamyn think best.

I can't defend what I said in detail without essentially repeating it, other than to assert that, in contrast to a number of other comments in this thread, I called no names, I made no accusations about hating women, and that even the darker possible implications of my comment are not that uncommon in this society (though I would like them to be).

Moreover, I was motivated by sympathy, a perception of basic will to the good on the part of the subject of my comment, and a desire to help, rather than the distaste, dislike, and desire to exclude explicitly expressed by others here.
posted by jamjam at 12:06 PM on July 6, 2011


In fact, she did not name him, there or elsewhere.

I think it's likely that somebody somewhere knows this guy personally and knows Watson is referring to him. And even if not, he knows. I'm pretty sure watching that vlog hurts. Getting ragged on by his buddies hurts. It may not be a great hurt, it's probably something he can laugh off and "be a man" about, but I'm pretty sure he feels it in his gut.

I have a feeling that the recurrent belief that he has been singled out for humiliation is perhaps reflective of a fear of same.

Yes, I fear being singled out for public humiliation. Is that odd?

---
That's not what I said in any way shape or form.

That's what somebody else said waaay up top. My point being that it is not a mischaracterization to say there have been accusations of misogyny in this thread, which is what I read you to be saying.
posted by Dano St at 12:08 PM on July 6, 2011


fourcheesemac did indeed disable his account.

The statement he posted in his profile before he did so said that he believes it will probably be permanent this time.
posted by zarq at 12:09 PM on July 6, 2011


And that is a missing piece.

It's a missing piece to a puzzle that need not be solved. It's a distraction, a piece of forensics that is only designed to turn a general point into a specific one, so that the uncertain details can endlessly be haggled over.

There's either a problem at these conventions or there isn't. If there is, it doesn't matter what happened in that elevator. It was an aside, and a rather lightly tossed off one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:10 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Getting mired down in the specifics of one interaction is one of the reasons that this thread is so long and trending toward unproductive. I can't see where intentionally continuing the pattern is helpful.
posted by nuala at 12:10 PM on July 6, 2011


jamjam, if you truly were coming from a place of sympathy and good will, then a better way to do that might have been to memail him that comment instead of posting it here. Posting it here makes it look more like you're being really ugly while maintaining plausible deniability about your intentions, kind of like when someone sneers at you while saying "nice shoes". They really mean you have no class and your shoes suck, but if you call them on it, hey, they _said_ the shoes were _nice_. And maybe I should be memailing you this comment. Shit.
posted by hades at 12:10 PM on July 6, 2011


I was confused too and had to CTRL-F to figure it out.

Ok, obviously that comment didn't strike you the way it did me. It is something I will remember for a long time, as it makes me feel pretty much unwelcome here.
posted by Dano St at 12:11 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


fourcheesemac did indeed disable his account.

No he did not. His account is active.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:15 PM on July 6, 2011


It's a missing piece to a puzzle that need not be solved. It's a distraction, a piece of forensics that is only designed to turn a general point into a specific one, so that the uncertain details can endlessly be haggled over.

Getting mired down in the specifics of one interaction is one of the reasons that this thread is so long and trending toward unproductive. I can't see where intentionally continuing the pattern is helpful.

I disagree. I think that the women who have, over and over, been talking about those specific details (4am, elevator, hotel, etc) and how each individual piece of the puzzle adds up to an interaction and that's what makes it creepy and inappropriate - I think those women would disagree with you that context is unimportant. I get that you don't want someone to come along and try to haggle out "well what shoes was he wearing?" as a way to filibuster out the discussion. I understand that.
posted by rakim at 12:16 PM on July 6, 2011


It looks like fourcheesemac only disabled MeMail.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2011


What's to argue? It was creepy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seeing as I'm one of those women, rakim, who has mentioned those specifics I understand that it adds up to an interaction. I never said it was unimportant. I said I thought it could be unproductive. How many times does it have to be explained and rehashed when many women have explained countless times what the problem with the interaction was within the context of the convention? Just what else is left to be explored beyond how to stop making it an uncomfortable climate for women to participate in?
posted by nuala at 12:22 PM on July 6, 2011


Yeah, his intention sorta doesn't matter because the person in the elevator with him has no way of knowing his intention. That's the point. Knowing what he was thinking has pretty much nothing to do with the unacceptability of the behavior. That might be a hard pill to swallow because we'd all like to be appreciated for our good intentions when we have them, but it's the reality of interacting with other people (especially strangers).
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:23 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: "No he did not. His account is active."

Oops. Sorry. Read the manifesto in his profile this morning, then went back a few minutes ago and saw the disabled memail note and jumped to conclusions. My bad. Thanks for the clarification.
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on July 6, 2011


He has changed his name to "Outta Here."
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:27 PM on July 6, 2011


I have a feeling that the recurrent belief that he has been singled out for humiliation is perhaps reflective of a fear of same.

Yes, I fear being singled out for public humiliation. Is that odd?


No, it's not odd at all, Dano. I totally understand that.

What I don't get, then, is why so many guys seem to be against threads where women bring these things up and talk about how things can go better, and push back against the women talking about how they can go better and deny what they're saying.

If you're afraid of finding yourself in a situation like the guy in the elevator, wouldn't you want to find out how to avoid that?
posted by Ashley801 at 12:33 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I think it's likely that somebody somewhere knows this guy personally and knows Watson is referring to him. And even if not, he knows. I'm pretty sure watching that vlog hurts. Getting ragged on by his buddies hurts. It may not be a great hurt, it's probably something he can laugh off and "be a man" about, but I'm pretty sure he feels it in his gut. "

But won't someone think of the creepers? If you prick them, doth they not bleed?

I mean, Jesus, dude, I'm consistently amazed at how much energy you can expend in sympathizing with dudes getting called out on socially clueless behavior without any seeming thought to the woman who actually has to deal with it first hand.

I mean, if you act stupid, you can get called out. Sucks to get called out, but it's your fault — not hers. Don't like it, don't be hitting on women you don't know at 4 A.M.

And at least the poor, humiliated wretch knows that there are plenty of dudebros on the net willing to get his back and make it seem like Watson was at fault for not properly honoring and cherishing the special qualities that he has as an individual, even though he pretty much ignored the same in her.
posted by klangklangston at 12:39 PM on July 6, 2011 [19 favorites]


Maybe, Ashley801, but it comes against a backdrop with a lot of "no" and "don't" and precious little "do" and "yes." This, despite decades of knowing that telling people what to do is so much more effective than saying don't do that. If not there, where? If not then, when?
posted by adipocere at 12:39 PM on July 6, 2011


it comes against a backdrop with a lot of "no" and "don't" and precious little "do" and "yes." This, despite decades of knowing that telling people what to do is so much more effective than saying don't do that. If not there, where? If not then, when?

adipocere, a sincere question -- do men need this kind of finely-detailed instructions for knowing what they are allowed to do when it comes to relating to other men?

If not, why do you suggest they need such finely-detailed instructions for when it comes to knowing what they are allowed to do to women?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:46 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just what else is left to be explored beyond how to stop making it an uncomfortable climate for women to participate in?

Knowing what he was thinking has pretty much nothing to do with the unacceptability of the behavior.

I'll just say that when judging interactions, I like to get information from the parties that were interacting. It's also weird to see people around here going "no no, don't get more valid information when judging an interaction". And certainly his part of the story is relevant. Don't go from that to me (at least) ready to string it out and derail the conversation. I think what he did was inappropriate.

I think, though, that it would be helpful to get his discussion of his behavior. It's like that "I don't care what they think" talk that people applied to interactions with non-Americans who looked a certain way. They just "hated our freedoms". No, I want to know what he was thinking. It would be useful to me, personally, to be able to talk to guys and have a specific instance to point out. When they say "I walked up to her, thinking x, I even prefaced it with y", I can say "you know, that exact situation occurred at a conference, and here's how it was taken.

But I'm not anticipating it happening, because as you say, people will use that to turn the conversation into places we don't want it to go.

But - remember, at the core of this, we are trying to change men's behaviors, right? I think an insight into the behavior of the man that caused this incident that led to thousands of comments over multiple threads is at the very least, relevant.

At the core of this, we want men's behavior to change. So I think would be helpful to learn and understand this man's own estimation of his behavior. Maybe some variant of CBT could be developed to aid in this, since it is useful in behavioral change.

The actions were inappropriate. We want men to change their behavior. Learning about what males are thinking when these males are having interactions where they do inappropriate things - I think that is helpful, and people should not use that as a way to get out of or assert that the actions were inappropriate.

Watson has led the way by clearly stating what she thinks is a possible solution: "wait for her to make the first move, just in case." So we can just go with that as a blunt suggestion, or we can take what he was thinking and use it to help us. After all, I don't think Cognitive Behavioral Therapists just go in and tell their clients "stop doing that". They ask questions, have the person discuss the inappropriate behavior, and advance from there in getting the person to stop it.
posted by rakim at 12:47 PM on July 6, 2011


And it sort of feels like the demand is that women teach them. I am not sure we improve anything by replacing "women as ongoing sex object" with "women as dating instructors."
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:47 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is the millionth time this thread where I've basically been told that I should be therapist-like and it's getting kinda irritating. If someone needs therapy, cognitive behavioral or otherwise, they should get it. However, telling someone "that behavior is creepy, don't do it" doesn't require that you then sign up to be their free therapist.

Especially since telling someone that their behavior comes across poorly is actually a favor in and of itself.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:51 PM on July 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


but it comes against a backdrop with a lot of "no" and "don't" and precious little "do" and "yes."

Then, respectfully, if the question is reframing to avoid the negative this could be easily solved by asking 'What can I do to foster female participation?' Instead, I've seen a great deal of unhappiness that there just isn't a way to talk to women romantically, which never would have been appropriate here since that's not what she was looking for and wasn't ever really an option. Which guy in the elevator would have seen if he'd been paying attention to what she had said.

Women are not the only ones in this conversation using the negative. Plenty of men have been saying 'I can't'. Why is the onus on us to provide teachable moments here? In life people tell me how much they care by how much they are willing to try on their own.
posted by nuala at 12:51 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Initiating romantic interaction is not trying, by the way. Listening and having a conversation about say topics relating to atheism might have been in this context.
posted by nuala at 12:53 PM on July 6, 2011


I try to, adipocere. For example, I think I really tried to do that here. More "do this," less "do that."

The problem is, some things really just need to happen less. If the question is, "How can I successfully hit on women in these situations" and the issues is "Women are hit on way too much in these situations and wish there were a lot less of it," it doesn't really make sense to frame it in any other way than "Hitting on women in these situations is not likely to go well".
posted by Ashley801 at 12:55 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the millionth time this thread where I've basically been told that I should be therapist-like and it's getting kinda irritating.

You don't have to do a damn thing. I am talking about for those of us who see this behavior or are around people and we want to be able to analyze the situation, the thoughts and help people change their behavior. You don't have to do anything.

Clearly guys' mindsets are the problem. I'd like to figure out where the disconnect is, and be able to get guys that I know to get it.
posted by rakim at 12:56 PM on July 6, 2011


(When I said "I think I really tried to do that here, I meant to link this.)
posted by Ashley801 at 12:56 PM on July 6, 2011


And it sort of feels like the demand is that women teach them. I am not sure we improve anything by replacing "women as ongoing sex object" with "women as dating instructors."

telling someone "that behavior is creepy, don't do it" doesn't require that you then sign up to be their free therapist.

Absolutamente. Arriving at any permutation of the "my sexual and romantic needs are a problem for the women in my life to solve" theory is a clear, unambiguous signal that a fellow ought to shake his social etch-a-sketch and try again.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:57 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why is the onus on us to provide teachable moments here?

It is not. You don't have to do anything. I am a guy. You do nothing. Live your life. I want to do more than say "cut that shit out" to any guy that does this stuff. I think that stops it in the moment, but doesn't stop it long term. And from the testimonies in here, this is a widespread problem, and I doubt it has only remained because "well nobody ever said cut it out". I want to know what the guy was thinking. You don't have to do a thing.
posted by rakim at 12:58 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I don't get, then, is why so many guys seem to be against threads where women bring these things up and talk about how things can go better, and push back against the women talking about how they can go better and deny what they're saying.

Speaking only for myself, Ashley801, I'm not against any threads. What I don't like is seeing things like "Misogynist!", "Rapist-wannabe!", "Abusive!" thrown about whenever somebody says something out of line with the feminist majority on this site. I don't really have a problem with (what I know of) what Watson said, but I am trying to understand how her comments fit in with those in this thread and am trying to share how I would if I were the guy referenced in her video post.

I can empathize with elevator guy to a certain extent because I have felt belittled by the comments of some women at various times in my life, but I don't actually have to worry about rejection by a love interest since I've been in the same relationship for 23 years as of 7/4.

I also think a lot of the charges of "denying what women are saying" come from uncharitable readings of what some men here are saying.

Klang, I'm not capable of responding to that nicely. Suffice to say that if you think I'm a 'dudebro' then you are arguing with somebody else, not me.
posted by Dano St at 12:58 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Arriving at any permutation of the "my sexual and romantic needs are a problem for the women in my life to solve

Which is good that nobody arrived there. Or at least, certainly not me.
posted by rakim at 12:59 PM on July 6, 2011


I can empathize with elevator guy to a certain extent because I have felt belittled by the comments of some women at various times in my life, but I don't actually have to worry about rejection by a love interest since I've been in the same relationship for 23 years as of 7/4.

did your fear of rejection ever overwhelm your sense that "trying to invite someone to have coffee in my hotel room late at night is a bad idea"?

If it didn't, then I'm not sure why it's germane.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:01 PM on July 6, 2011


Well, I suspect part of the problem is that the atheist convention hasn't really established whether it is an intellectual and professional gathering or a 70s-style Plato's Retreat-style orgyfest, so some people go expecting one thing, and some another, and when those two expectations come into conflict, it inevitably winds up being the people who don't want to be treated like a sex object who suffer, and a lot of those people (although not all) are going to be women.

This is a common problem, and ones of the ways to address it is to make collective decisions and establish collective standards of behavior that are spelled out in advance. And this doesn't necessarily mean the orgiasts lose out -- merely that their swinging be attached to specific locations or events, which may or may not be attended by other conference-goers, as is their tastes.

That was, at 4am, the guy who hits on you in the elevator has transgressed a set of expectations that are mutually shared, and somebody can say, hey, elevator guy, that sort of behavior is okay on the 10th floor, or, as we call it, the mattress room, but don't do it elsewhere. And the people at the conference who don't want to feel like walking sex objects can feel like the conference has addressed their concerns, and that it will respond if somebody violates the norms established.

Sort of like MetaFilter, where we don't hit on each other in the main forums, but instead go to MetaBang to do so.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:03 PM on July 6, 2011


Astro Zombie: "MetaBang"

Pony request time!

No, wait. Not ponies. Humans.

definitely not ponies
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:06 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


A sincere answer:

Usually not, for a few reasons:

1) Boys spend a lot of time socializing with other boys and generally developing male-male communications skills, just as girls spend a lot of time socializing with other girls and developing female-female communications skills. I think this could use some work, fairly early on, by encouraging more group activities between genders in schools, early, and (I'll admit this is radical) teaching about flirtation in human sexuality classes in junior high.

2) The frequency of men "hitting on" men is lower. It isn't zero. As a function of #1, there's a stronger framework (though not perfect, see also gay panic) for working out communication issues in dude-dude come-ons.

3) A low incidence of men calling out men for unwanted sexual behavior just as there is a low incidence of women calling out women for sexual behavior, probably as a factor of #1 and #2, with some in-group identification thrown in the mix as well. I think the incidence is higher for men because of stupid macho issues.

Some combination of nature and nurture, proportions unknown, has made intersex communication (and priorities) usually more fraught than intrasex dealings.
posted by adipocere at 1:06 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pony request time!

Bangship is Magic?

Dano St: Yes, I fear being singled out for public humiliation. Is that odd?

No, I don't think that's odd at all. I have the same fear. Mind you, I also have a fear of having a spider crawl into my ear when I sleep and laying eggs in my brain, and to my knowledge that has never happened.

The people who are complaining about how she has exposed this guy to ridicule by naming him, however, are manifesting their fear in a non-useful way. In fact, their fear is apparently making them hallucinate things that have not happened, like Watson naming this guy, and in some cases going on from there to judge her very harshly for something she totally hasn't done.

And familiar terrors can in their own way be quite comforting. I mean, you're now writing Elevator Dude Fanfic to justify your belief that he was named and humiliated, to adapt that belief around the fact that she didn't actually name him.

I think it's likely that somebody somewhere knows this guy personally and knows Watson is referring to him. And even if not, he knows. I'm pretty sure watching that vlog hurts. Getting ragged on by his buddies hurts. It may not be a great hurt, it's probably something he can laugh off and "be a man" about, but I'm pretty sure he feels it in his gut.


Since there were no witnesses, the only people who know would be people he or she has told - and we have no evidence of this having happened - or I guess people who saw him leave the bar at roughly the same time as her and made a note of it despite it being at the time an apparently insignificant detail. But even if, actually, nobody knows, she was still wrong to mention that it happened:

And even if not, he knows. I'm pretty sure watching that vlog hurts.

So, she is still mean, for describing what he did, anonymously, in a place where he might see it.

Seriously, how milktoast is this guy in your imagination?

I think being afraid of being publicly named and shamed for inappropriate behavior to women is not an irrational fear. However, there are ways to minimize its likelihood - like listening when women tell you what inappropriate behavior is, rather than projecting your fear onto a situation where it hasn't happened, in order to condemn a woman for doing something she didn't do.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:10 PM on July 6, 2011


I suspect part of the problem is that the atheist convention hasn't really established whether it is an intellectual and professional gathering or a 70s-style Plato's Retreat-style orgyfest

Amusingly and only partly relevantly, this sort of thing sometimes comes up at library conferences where there's not the same sort of gender balance, perhaps quite the opposite. There's the main conference and then there's the drunken pick-up/hook-up scene that happens at the conference.

People who have gone to the conference for a while usually know who is aligned with which groups but there's an occassional misstep, usually because someone who isn't aware of the hook-up scene winds up in a place where the hook-up people are and the hook-up people assume that person is part of that scene. To my recollection this often means that some men get hit on by other men and some women get hit on by men and I presume that some women get hit on by women and men get hit on by women though I've never heard of this.

My point, and I do have one, is that this idea of conferences as orgyfests is weirdly not as unusual as I had first thought, but that it's sort of on the orgiasts if they want to have a shadow orgy-conference to be pretty clear about boundaries lest they look like creepers.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:11 PM on July 6, 2011


I'm just glad someone remembers Plato's Retreat. I was beginning to think I made that up in my sleep.

MetaBang could have ponygirls and ponyboys? No bronies, though. I refuse.
posted by adipocere at 1:12 PM on July 6, 2011


I'm not attracted to ponygirls and boys, but there is something I find irresistibly fascinating about them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:14 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


milktoast

This has nothing to do with anything, but that is the first time I've ever seen that eggcorn for "milquetoast" and those odd moments of natural language adaptation make me happy and it's nice to be made happy by something in this thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:16 PM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am deelited to learn the word eggcorn.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:18 PM on July 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "I'm not attracted to ponygirls and boys, but there is something I find irresistibly fascinating about them."

I'd like to think that MetaBang would be sort of like Second Life, but real, in that you could stand in the middle of the room turning in three-degree jumps like the Sentinal and at every turn you'd see a different fetish.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:18 PM on July 6, 2011


When I read over the comments here and in the regular MetaFilter thread, a lot of people made a pretty specific assertion, over and over. Very few people stated things as they actually occurred in the 10 minute video.

I would ask some of those who had it wrong: What made you decide to add the "... at a conference!" zinger? I strongly suspect that most never made this choice, that someone else did for them.

I doubt it was that most people heard what Rebecca had to say, perhaps from the part nuala quoted, and then came away with that interpretation of the events based on their viewing and understanding gleaned and then posted the comments. Instead, maybe they skimmed through the videos, read parts of the Encyclopedia Britannica worth of crap that's been written on this, got primed by the first few comments here, and started repeating what was clearly the case. This is exactly the kind of thing humans do that Watson and the crew have been battling for years on their podcast, The Skeptic's Guide to The Universe. I'd highly recommend anyone and everyone subscribe (ideally, listen to the old ones first).

but he is a minor sampling of a larger trend, and I don't see the value in going over every shred of that particular story like a group of amateur CSIs in order to see whether or not he's guilty.

I agree that in this case, the specifics are meaningless, and I feel like the less one knows about the elevator story the more likely one is to grasp what Rebecca wanted to communicate about sexism and Atheism, and the more likely I am not going to suffer some kind of head explosion. But this wasn't a specific about what went down that I dug up for the tabloids — I thought the non-fact was added ex post facto, and do believe that it's objectively better for everyone's brain when wrong beliefs are corrected, especially when they're as clear as this one. I didn't post any of this stuff in the main thread.

Deciding whether this guy is guilty or not solves nothing. Completely meaningless. At the same time, I think people, debates, theories, will come to the best conclusions when they come to informed conclusions. It's clear a lot of people deeply care about what's going on here, and a lot of conclusions are being drawn anyhow. I think a few people got a little over-defensive about it.

tl;dr It's not important to me whether or not this guy is innocent or guilty, but I thought it important to try to disprove a myth that is informing a lot of decisions on whether this guy is innocent or guilty anyhow.
posted by floam at 1:19 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm really pleased to have been reminded about this fantastic site.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:19 PM on July 6, 2011


Boys spend a lot of time socializing with other boys and generally developing male-male communications skills, just as girls spend a lot of time socializing with other girls and developing female-female communications skills. I think this could use some work, fairly early on, by encouraging more group activities between genders in schools, early, and (I'll admit this is radical) teaching about flirtation in human sexuality classes in junior high.

I'm not sure why what is applicable to socializing with other boys can't also be applicable to socializing with girls.

Because boys and girls are both people, after all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:20 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, running order squabble fest, I do not mean to align myself with anybody who has said she named the guy. None of my comments have been written under that assumption. And I concede that 'elevator guy is an awkward kinda guy' is pretty much a made up narrative.

I don't think I said she was "mean". I did question the point of her saying everybody was cool at the conference except that guy if she didn't actually find him threatening. The answers to my question were helpful.
posted by Dano St at 1:21 PM on July 6, 2011


Because boys and girls are both people, after all.

How are most people to learn that when they're treated like some kind of exotic species you'll learn to like "when you're older".
posted by floam at 1:21 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why what is applicable to socializing with other boys can't also be applicable to socializing with girls.

I often say to my male friends, "Hey! Won't it be nice when we can kiss girls! Maybe we should practice on each other first, so that we have experience."

I learned it from porn films, where it is almost always the girls doing the practice kissing on each other.

It has never worked out like in the movies.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:22 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jessamyn: My point, and I do have one, is that this idea of conferences as orgyfests is weirdly not as unusual as I had first thought, but that it's sort of on the orgiasts if they want to have a shadow orgy-conference to be pretty clear about boundaries lest they look like creepers.

Business conferences are also often if not orgies certainly places where people have unusual license.

That said, if you're still in the orgiast meeting room at 4am, and the meeting room itself is not the site of an orgy, you might be doing it wrong. Maybe Elevator Dude mistakenly thought he was in the orgiast meeting room? And that it was a terrible orgy?

On preview - wow, cortex, I've been spelling that wrong for decades. I had no idea there was a Caspar Milquetoast, named after the New England dish milk toast. I just assumed it was a direct reference to the dish. So, a sort of etymological overreach eggcorn ...
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:23 PM on July 6, 2011


How are most people to learn that when they're treated like some kind of exotic species you'll learn to like "when you're older".

By listening to women when they tell you "here's what we do and don't like."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:23 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


By listening to women when they tell you "here's what we do and don't like."

You're almost making it sound as if there is some difference in the communication styles.
posted by adipocere at 1:25 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, floam, there are plenty of guys who do managed to get what is and isn't appropriate even though they grew up with the same "you'll learn to like women when you're older" messages, so I'm not sure that that statement is at fault.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:26 PM on July 6, 2011


I'll just say that when judging interactions, I like to get information from the parties that were interacting. It's also weird to see people around here going "no no, don't get more valid information when judging an interaction". And certainly his part of the story is relevant.

Sure. If the guy is a friend of yours, then you can take the opportunity to say "Dude, what were you thinking?"

But this is not the responsibility of the woman he's inviting back to his room, in the moment he's asking her back to his room. If a guy comes out of a dark alley in the middle of the night as you're walking by and asks you for a light, are you going to ask him what his real motivation is right then and there, in order to avoid possibly humiliating some innocent person who really just wants to light their cigarette?
posted by rtha at 1:26 PM on July 6, 2011


You're almost making it sound as if there is some difference in the communication styles.

How am I doing that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:26 PM on July 6, 2011


Also, floam, there are plenty of guys who do managed to get what is and isn't appropriate even though they grew up with the same "you'll learn to like women when you're older" messages, so I'm not sure that that statement is at fault.

Well shit, plenty of guys managed to get what is and isn't appropriate even through they were cultured in the patriarchy, so it couldn't possibly be the problem! I think some kind of flag flipped in your head that I'm your enemy here but I'm really not.

I agree women telling men how it is is good. I also think it's good for kids to have a diverse group of peers.
posted by floam at 1:29 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eggcorn! Wow. My daughter and I made a Valentine's book once with visual puns - heartegg, hart to hart, hart of the matter, etc. I didn't know those were eggcorns. cool.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:29 PM on July 6, 2011


By suggesting the necessity that men must be told, you're in turn implying that men lack a set of knowledge of behaviors which women do have.

Put another way, we wouldn't be having this thread if everyone were on the same page.
posted by adipocere at 1:32 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think some kind of flag flipped in your head that I'm your enemy here but I'm really not.

Actually, I started talking to adipocere who was asking "why can't women tell us what to do instead of always telling us what not to do." When you jumped in, I thought you were doing what my father always did and taking the counterargument just becuase he wanted to get in on a good debate with me.

We're good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:32 PM on July 6, 2011


New Skepchick post - Dear Richard Dawkins. Full of letters from women and men writing to express their feelings to Dawkins.
posted by rakim at 1:33 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I did not know the word eggcorn existed. This has been a good day.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:33 PM on July 6, 2011


By suggesting the necessity that men must be told, you're in turn implying that men lack a set of knowledge of behaviors which women do have.

Dude, you were the one who complained that there was "precious little 'do' and 'yes'," "despite decades of knowing that telling people what to do is so much more effective than saying don't do that."

You seemed to be implying that men lack that knowledge of behaviors yourself, if you're aspiring for women to tell men what TO do rather than what NOT to do.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:36 PM on July 6, 2011


EmpressCallipygos, your comment just happened to be at the bottom when I loaded the new comments, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't here to get some good arguing in. Thanks for letting me off.
posted by floam at 1:38 PM on July 6, 2011


Ummm, in all seriousness, because I often fear that, in my introversion and inexperience, I have missed out on various facets of life, is this conference hook-up thing a real thing? This isn't just one of those long in-jokes MetaFilter does?

Because I just started re-evaluating a few interactions I have had at conferences and now feel more stupid than usual.
posted by adipocere at 1:39 PM on July 6, 2011


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't here to get some good arguing in.

I presume people discuss things in good faith, and not just for the pleasure of arguing. I hope this is not what you are saying you're doing, as it's impossible to have a genuine discussion with somebody if they are not in it for the same purpose.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:40 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


is this conference hook-up thing a real thing?

Depends on the conference.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:41 PM on July 6, 2011


I am absolutely arguing in good faith, I don't say stuff I don't believe. I also get a little dopamine out of it.
posted by floam at 1:42 PM on July 6, 2011


I also get a little dopamine out of it.

Well, that's understandable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:42 PM on July 6, 2011


I presume people discuss things in good faith, and not just for the pleasure of arguing.

Wellllll, some people do take a Socratic approach to things to explore an idea. My dad does that. And he enjoys that process.

In theory, you could say that he does this "for the pleasure of arguing", but it's more "for the pleasure of exploring ideas." He just gets feisty when he does it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:43 PM on July 6, 2011


Yes, EmpressCallipygos, that has been my thesis all along.

Men and women, right here and now, generally* seem to have some different communication styles and that this causes friction, whether or not it relates to romantic relationships, dating, sex, hookups, and flirtation. Perhaps some of the friction can be lessened. Some approaches to lessening the friction may be more fruitful than others.

* insert as many lawlerly disclaimers as the reader may please to assure themselves I am not asserting some kind of laser-drawn line of binary, eternal perfection
posted by adipocere at 1:43 PM on July 6, 2011


No, conference hook-ups are a real thing in what appears to be a bunch of difference circles. Booze, weird hours, hotel rooms, instant small talk fodder and people you don't have to pass in the hall on Monday add up to predictable behavior. Some of it mutual and fine (as long as the spouse never finds out,) some of it creepy and excessive, and some of it really fucking shitty. As per usual, I guess. I could tell stories, but none of them are my stories because I'm goddamn boring in person.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:43 PM on July 6, 2011


I think what Watson said herself - "wait for her to make the first move, just in case." is the end of this discussion, and the solution. "Wait for her to make the first move, just in case." Simple advice for guys. We can beanplate what "first move" means, but to me it would mean an unmistakable move toward you specifically.

no, you do not get to say this. you do not get to dictate societal conventions so they align with your comfort zone. to imply that it's a dick move for the man to make the first move ever (and I can't see what else that is implying) is to justify rants like hincandenza's. the goal we are shooting for is not "men always wait for women to make the first move", it's "neither party feels threatened when the other party makes the first move, whether they turn them down or not"
posted by tehloki at 1:47 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


and I say the above as somebody who always lets the other party make the first move
posted by tehloki at 1:48 PM on July 6, 2011


you know, just in case you thought i was rebelling against feminism so i could better exercise my privilege or whatever
posted by tehloki at 1:49 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I figured it happened from time to time but I didn't know there was a seedy conference underworld. Just waiting for the FPP now.

no, you do not get to say this.

Are you talking to me, or Rebecca Watson? And why does it bother you that Watson is asking guys to wait, just in case? Doesn't bother me at all. What are you losing that is so precious? You don't want to approach women who aren't interested in you, right? And if a woman is interested in you, she can make the first move. I thought it was a good solution. You clearly don't. I'm just not sure what you think you're losing that is so holy. Especially since you said you always let the other party make the first move.
posted by rakim at 1:52 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Men and women, right here and now, generally* seem to have some different communication styles and that this causes friction, whether or not it relates to romantic relationships, dating, sex, hookups, and flirtation. Perhaps some of the friction can be lessened. Some approaches to lessening the friction may be more fruitful than others.

In my experience, though -- and as evidenced on this thread -- a big, big source of that friction comes when some men refuse to take women at their word.

To wit:

WOMAN: Okay, I don't like it when guys do [thing.]
MAN: What's wrong with [thing]?
WOMAN: I just don't like [thing.]
MAN: But what's wrong with [thing]? I wouldn't be bothered if you did [thing] to me.
WOMAN: Okay, I'll explain why I don't like [thing]. Here is my explanation for why I don't like [thing].
MAN: But my old girlfriend liked [thing]. What's wrong with [thing]?
WOMAN: I am not her. I am me, and I don't like [thing].
MAN: ....I don't understand. What's wrong with [thing]? Don't take [thing] so seriously.

Etc.

Instead, it would be a lot simpler, I would think, for the conversation to go like this:

WOMAN: Okay, I don't like it when guys do [thing].
MAN: Really? Huh. Okay, thanks for telling me, I'll stop doing [thing].
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:52 PM on July 6, 2011 [20 favorites]


is this conference hook-up thing a real thing?

In academia, yep. Real enough to be a cliche in *ahem* some fields, although I hear others are better behaved.

The only time I've ever heard 'my wife doesn't understand me' used both non-ironically and as part of a pickup line, it was at a conference. I kid you not.
posted by Catseye at 1:53 PM on July 6, 2011


is this conference hook-up thing a real thing?

Nthing what others have said. Yes, it can often be a real thing. It depends on the conference, and the size of the conference, and how much outside-panels-and-floor-show-if-there-is-one hanging out there is. Some groups that hang out outside official conference times may not be very hooky-uppy; others may be. As is often the case for folks who have trouble reading social cues sometimes (and for those who don't), it can be hard to figure out what's happening, and what things are particularly context-dependent and not applicable to all outside-conference hanging out.
posted by rtha at 1:54 PM on July 6, 2011


Great. I now feel like I need to buy some of Roast Beef's Cards for Men:
I'm Sorry If I Inadvertently Spurned Advances You May Have Made At The Conference
Inside (It's Just That Strange Places With New People Make Me Blind With Anxiety)
The follow-up card would read
You Probably Don't Remember Me And I Just Made An Ass Of Myself
Inside (Business As Usual, Here Is A Coupon For A Free Denny's Egg Breakfast)
posted by adipocere at 1:57 PM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ixnay on the uckyourselffay.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:01 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hey, flagging works. Good to know.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:08 PM on July 6, 2011


A lot of the conversation here reminds me of the time I was a conference held at a villa. We were all pretty much stuck there as there was nowhere else to go. People had private rooms but there communal showers (one for men, one for women). There was this male academic who insisted that he should get to use the women's communal shower because the male one got rather grubby and ours was nicer. He would just barge right in and then get highly irate when shrieking women chased him out. He complained that this was horrible sexism because we had the nicer showers, which he should be allowed to use because it was only fair and hadn't we all moved past these sort of petty concerns with gender. The entire 3 days of that conference he would collar people (including the women) at every opportunity to tell them that no one understood his feelings and that the women were just too uptight to understand that it was fine, he wasn't going to do anything. Until the very last moments he was complaining about the injustice that was dealt him and could absolutely not understand why in this marvellous new age of equality we were against him showering in the same room with us.

I guess I just didn't appreciate his feelings enough. And I'm okay with that.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:09 PM on July 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


is this conference hook-up thing a real thing?

Yep. The recent movie Cedar Rapids plays this for humorous effect. I think, projecting as someone who often speaks at conferences that I don't otherwise go to, this gets particularly weird when "everyone" knows that the bar after the banquet is the place where people go to hook up and you just go there because that's where the people are. Anyhow, I feel that people are usually pretty discreet at these things but you hear about people having "conference girlfriends/boyfriends" which is a bit like Same Time Next Year sorts of things. I am like restless_nomad in this regard. I hear the stories but am rarely (possibly never) involved in them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:26 PM on July 6, 2011


EC: The rub is, that for a lot of guys it's probably completely not obvious in which conversations going with the "Really? Huh. Okay, thanks for telling me, I'll stop doing [thing]." option is appropriate until they've been through it or other conversations like it. Then once you're in an online conversation with many people, of course you're going to get some who will still not go that way by the end of it, and you'll probably also drown in minutiae.
posted by ODiV at 3:01 PM on July 6, 2011


My point being that it is not a mischaracterization to say there have been accusations of misogyny in this thread, which is what I read you to be saying.

No, what I was saying is that as what triggers the the accusations of misogyny becomes more and more mundane that these conversations get more and more exhausting for everyone involved.
posted by sonika at 3:18 PM on July 6, 2011


I feel that people are usually pretty discreet at these things but you hear about people having "conference girlfriends/boyfriends" which is a bit like Same Time Next Year sorts of things.

I know a crazy-large number of people who have conference boy/girlfriends. The weird part is that some of them have different hookups at different conferences, even though sometimes the hookup from the first conference is also at the second. That kind of lifestyle is too complicated for me and makes my brain hurt, so I just hang out until the point late in the evening when people are needing some privacy to make their assignations, and then I head to bed (alone). But yes, it's a major phenomenon. For a lot of conference attendees, the one or two conferences that they go to each year is pretty much the only time they are out in the wide world without spousal supervision. Add in alcohol and you have hookup city.

WOMAN: Okay, I'll explain why I don't like [thing]. Here is my explanation for why I don't like [thing].
MAN: But my old girlfriend liked [thing]. What's wrong with [thing]?
WOMAN: I am not her. I am me, and I don't like [thing].
MAN: ....I don't understand. What's wrong with [thing]? Don't take [thing] so seriously.

Etc.

Instead, it would be a lot simpler, I would think, for the conversation to go like this:

WOMAN: Okay, I don't like it when guys do [thing].
MAN: Really? Huh. Okay, thanks for telling me, I'll stop doing [thing].


In fairness, outside of totally fucking obvious stuff like cornering strange women on an elevator and giving them the clumsiest proposition in history, a lot of stuff is more nuanced and complicated than this, and the messages can get mixed.

So you'll have a bunch of women saying "hell no, don't do X." But you'll also have some women saying "hey, I really enjoy X and don't want it to stop at all." And simultaneously, you'll have guys saying "no way dude, don't do X, you'll look like an asshole" and other guys saying "dude, if you don't do X you'll never get laid, trust me."

For X, put in something like "approaching women in a cafe," say. Some people hate it, some people love it, and even if there were to be magically a consensus about it here, there certainly isn't a social consensus about it in broader society and there might never be.
posted by Forktine at 3:45 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


In fairness, outside of totally fucking obvious stuff like cornering strange women on an elevator and giving them the clumsiest proposition in history, a lot of stuff is more nuanced and complicated than this, and the messages can get mixed.

So you'll have a bunch of women saying "hell no, don't do X." But you'll also have some women saying "hey, I really enjoy X and don't want it to stop at all." And simultaneously, you'll have guys saying "no way dude, don't do X, you'll look like an asshole" and other guys saying "dude, if you don't do X you'll never get laid, trust me."


That's why I had a single woMAN saying "I don't like [thing]" than having woMEN saying "we don't like [thing]".

But my point still stands that what we've seen in here is a whole bunch of women coming in to assert that "we don't like [thing], and here is why we don't like [thing]," and they've had a lot of responses from men that all sound like "what's wrong with [thing]? You're overreacting to [thing], you're misinterpreting [thing], have sympathy for the guy who does [thing]", instead of responding with, "wow, I didn't know so many women didn't like [thing], thanks for sharing."

My point was in response to adicopere's observation that there was a difference in "communication styles" between men and women that caused "friction." My point was that it appeared one big source of "friction" was coming from some men refusing to JUST FUCKING LISTEN to women when they said something, instead of second-guessing their statements to death. Fortunately, "just listening" works if you have one woman saying "I don't like [thing]" and another one saying "I do like [thing], personally". By just listening, the man then knows "okay, this woman likes [thing] but that one doesn't. Got it." And he can react accordingly.

It works!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:29 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


rakim:

I was referring to you, specifically your advancement of the idea as a "solution" to anything. It is far from a solution; its general application would spare many women some degree of offense and/or fear, but also leave many people of both genders confused, frustrated, and lonely (see hincandenza). One party always has to initiate something. To suggest that one should universally yield the responsibility to either gender is ludicrous. The fact that responsibility seems to lie with the man to initiate things when desires are reciprocated (in the majority romantic situations in the majority of cultures) is just as fucked up of a situation. I've said this before but I'd like to live in a world where either gender could propose something without fear of causing threat or offense and be answered honestly. I realize there are situations where one party's advances are obviously inappropriate, like in an elevator at 4am with a stranger, but your solution throws the baby out with the bathwater.
posted by tehloki at 4:30 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's to argue? It was creepy.

I suppose the argument is that an unsolicited, probably sexual proposition in an elevator by a man to a woman to whom he's never spoken before is not always creepy, or whether it was automatically creepy because she just complained about how often she gets hit on.

In this case, sure it seems creepy. But in all cases? Apparently there's disagreement...
posted by mrgrimm at 4:37 PM on July 6, 2011


But in all cases? Apparently there's disagreement...

I could be wrong - this thread is so long, that I haven't always kept up - but I think almost every woman on this thread (and quite a few men) have said that, yes, hitting on a woman you've never talked to in a lift at 4 am and asking her to come to your hotel room is creepy. Not just clueless, but creepy. I don't care if he really wanted to show her his Italian coffee maker and whip her up some frothing work of caffina