Being Cautious of Men Versus Being Cautious of Blacks

This entry posted in Feminism, sexism, etc, Race, racism and related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

79 Responses to Being Cautious of Men Versus Being Cautious of Blacks

  1. 1
    fannie says:

    I kind of don’t care if anti-feminists think it’s anti-male or (absurdly, akin to racism) for women to be cautious of men in certain contexts. I prioritize my safety and well-being over whatever new rhetorical game anti-feminists want to play to demonize women and feminists.

    And, of course, the instant a woman isn’t “sufficiently cautious” while being woman in public, she’s blamed for “putting herself in the situation” to become a victim of an attack. So, there’s that context too.

  2. 2
    Iseter says:

    Men aggressively talking to women on the street versus a black man mugging a white person is not the correct comparison because mugging is a much more violent act. In fact, mugging is a felony, aggressively talking to a woman on the street is either nothing or maybe some kind of misdemeanor.

    Many whites who have lived in predominantly black neighborhoods (for instance attending university in the middle of Detroit and actually living downtown there instead of commuting in from the suburbs) may tell you that they have been harassed on the street by black men. And not infrequently. What do you think loitering laws are really about.

    To Fannie: You have every right to take any precautions you wish. I am in agreement with you. I don’t care if it’s against “men” or against “blacks” or against “martians”. I would only say that when it goes above and beyond taking precautions, I see a great deal of smearing of “all men” today (all men are potential rapists, for instance, and men as an amorphous group commit rape, not individual men), and that is just as bad as smearing all black people for what some of them do. If you are a man – or a black man – you don’t have much control over what others of your gender or race do.

    As an example you may understand, you may think it is OK to take precautions against child abuse when someone else is watching over your child. But above and beyond the precautions, a campaign against women – using the statistic (whether real or not) that they are more likely to commit child abuse – and calling all women out to stop abusing and killing our children – would likely irritate you.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    Many whites who have lived in predominantly black neighborhoods (for instance attending university in the middle of Detroit and actually living downtown there instead of commuting in from the suburbs) may tell you that they have been harassed on the street by black men. And not infrequently. What do you think loitering laws are really about.

    I do indeed think loitering laws are really about giving authorities an excuse to harass men of color, as well as other groups, most of all the homeless. The difference is, you seem to think this is a good thing.

    When I lived in Harlem, in New York City, I walked through black-dominated blocks every day. I was harassed almost never, although people sometimes asked me if I wanted to buy drugs or copies of movies. For the most part, people ignored me. In contrast, when I lived in Astoria Queens, the white kids would harass me every day as I walked home from work (because I had long hair).

  4. 4
    mythago says:

    The example is exactly backwards. It should be “is it racist for black people to be wary of white people?”

    I doubt Young took it this far, because the example is really more than LOLRACISM, but: the implication is that women are in a powerful and privileged position relative to men, just as whites are in a powerful and privileged position relative to blacks. In real life it is of course the other way around.

  5. 5
    nobody.really says:

    I find the conclusion of this web post undeniable and irrefutable: TWITTER IS A STUPID WAY TO HAVE A DISCUSSION.

  6. 6
    Copyleft says:

    Hating and fearing black people is unacceptable and racist; hating and fearing men is just what they deserve because they’re so darn terrible, and men should be required to make those who hate them happy and comfortable in their presence by changing their behavior to suit the haters. Got it.

    Negative stereotyping isn’t a thing when it affects men, after all….

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    Copyleft, where in my post (or, you know, series of tweets) did I say men are “so darn terrible”? Quote the exact words, please.

    Where in my post did I call for “hating and fearing men”? Quote the exact words, please.

    Where in my post did I say that men in general – as opposed to “some men,” by which I very obviously meant those men who sexually harass women on the street – should change their behavior? Quote the words.

    Where did I say Negative stereotyping isn’t a thing when it affects men? Quote the words.

    You can’t. Because every claim you just made is a lie, either an outright fabrication, or made by twisting my obvious intentions. None of the views you just attributed to me is a fair or honest characterization of what I think or what I wrote.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Nobody really, Twitter is a great way to have a discussion! It’s tumbler that’s awful.

  9. 9
    Iseter says:

    Ampersand, with regard to Copyleft:

    I didn’t really get that impression with you so much as (strongly) with Mythago.

    I could specify, but it would sound like I am insulting her, so I’ll leave it.

    Maybe Copyleft is responding to that overall feeling.

  10. 10
    Charles S says:

    Mythago, of course, is exactly right. Whatever bizarre penumbra you (and perhaps Copyleft) are reading into mythago pointing out that women and black people are subject to routine harassment by white people/men/people in positions of power, and white people and men aren’t, is your own problem. Copyleft’s comment remains a nonsensical non-response to anything in this thread, whatever ghosts they may be responding to.

  11. 11
    Iseter says:

    “… women and black people are subject to routine harassment by white people/men/people in positions of power, and white people and men aren’t …”

    OK

  12. 12
    RonF says:

    That #EndFathersDay bit was definitely a case of “Hm. Let’s not jump into this one until we see just WTF is going on.” A good reminder to all of us, regardless of your political or social viewpoints, to show patience when someone makes a claim that happens to reinforce YOUR biases ….

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    Charles, read literally, your comment could be read as saying that none of the group “white people and men” are ever “subject to routine harassment by… people in positions of power.” That’s obviously not true, and I’ll be very surprised if you believe it to be true.

    Copyleft’s comment remains a nonsensical non-response to anything in this thread, whatever ghosts they may be responding to.

    That, I totally agree with. I’m pretty positive Copyleft was responding to my post, not to Mythago’s comment (Mythago’s comment didn’t say anything about changing behavior). But if it was a response to Mythago’s comment, then it was a nonsensical non-response, as you say.

  14. 14
    Charles S says:

    Yeah, sure. Adding “people in positions of power” over-complicated an already over-simplified statement excessively, and was also aside of the point. Of course, there are also some men or some white people who are routinely harassed somewhere by some women or some black people, but US society as a whole is not structured to routinely produce and tolerate such harassment.

  15. 15
    fannie says:

    Iseter -

    “You have every right to take any precautions you wish. I am in agreement with you. I don’t care if it’s against “men” or against “blacks” or against “martians.”

    I wasn’t seeking other commenters’ permission, agreement, or approval on what my rights are with respect to the precautions I take in my own day-to-day life.

    “I would only say that when it goes above and beyond taking precautions, I see a great deal of smearing of “all men” today (all men are potential rapists, for instance, and men as an amorphous group commit rape, not individual men), and that is just as bad as smearing all black people for what some of them do. If you are a man – or a black man – you don’t have much control over what others of your gender or race do.”

    Thanks for sharing your opinion. I will point out that it doesn’t address my beliefs or commentary regarding “all men.” So, I see this comment as addressing a position no one in this particular conversation, including myself, has actually articulated.

    “As an example you may understand, you may think it is OK to take precautions against child abuse when someone else is watching over your child. But above and beyond the precautions, a campaign against women – using the statistic (whether real or not) that they are more likely to commit child abuse – and calling all women out to stop abusing and killing our children – would likely irritate you.”

    My understanding, empathy, and intelligence level do not require you to create special examples that I “may” understand as parallels with respect to taking precautions.

    Sorry if this comment seems harsh. I think your comment to me was just really condescending and patronizing.

  16. 16
    Ampersand says:

    Fannie wrote:

    So, I see this comment as addressing a position no one in this particular conversation, including myself, has actually articulated.

    Good catch, thanks, Fannie.

    Iseter (and everyone else): Please try to limit yourself to responding to views actually expressed in the original post, or by the other comment-writers here.

    Alternatively, if you think it’s on-topic to bring up something people outside this thread are saying, please link to an example of someone saying what you object to (preferably someone who has some sort of name recognition, rather than just some random person on twitter).

    I ask this because I’d like people to avoid comments which are attacking strawmen (or strawfeminists).

  17. 17
    nobody.really says:

    [W]ould this tweet be offensive if it referred to blacks/racism, not men/misandry?

    Yes, it would be – not because of the sharks, but because of the false and harmful stereotyping of black people….

    There are things that matter – youth, acting suspicious, etc – but those merit caution regardless of skin color.

    I’ll refrain from opining on the question of offensiveness. However, I wondered how hard it would be to find Bayesian statistics about the risks of being attacked by a man, by a black person, by a young person, etc. Trickier than I thought.

    First I needed a some measure of victimization broken down by characteristics of the assailant. Didn’t quite find what I was looking for. But I found incarceration stats. In 2011, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics published Correctional Populations in the United States, 2010. Appendix Table 3 lists “Estimated number of inmates held in custody in state or federal prisons or in local jails per 100,000 U.S. residents, by sex, race and Hispanic/Latino origin, and age, June 30, 2010.” I think the table says –

    For every 100,000 US residents, 732 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 male US residents, 1352 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 female US residents, 126 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 black US residents, approx. 4607 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 Hispanic/Latino US residents, approx. 1908 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 white US residents, approx. 769 were incarcerated.

    For every 100,000 black male US residents, 4347 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 Hispanic/Latino male US residents, 1775 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 white male US residents, 678 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 black female US residents, 260 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 Hispanic/Latino female US residents, 133 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 white female US residents, 91 were incarcerated.

    (The table breaks down these data by age group, too.)

    Admittedly, incarceration rates are not a perfect proxy for attack rates. And admittedly, the data shows that most people, regardless of gender, race, or age, are not going to be incarcerated. With those provisos, I read the data to suggest that race is a stronger predictor than gender.

  18. 18
    Harlequin says:

    With those provisos, I read the data to suggest that race is a stronger predictor than gender.

    Depends on what you mean. If we take these to be representative of crime rates–which we know, for many reasons listed above, that they absolutely are not, in addition to the fact that your data also is affected by the length of sentencing which will make the racial disparities even worse–and if we take those crime rates to then be proportional to the violent crime rates, then yes, black people are more likely to be your attacker than white people. On the other hand, you should only be about 6 times as cautious of a black person as a white person, while you should be about 11 times as cautious of a man as a woman. I don’t think this is actually a reasonable set of numbers, but if it was, it doesn’t support the idea that black people are more criminal compared to white people than men are compared to women.

    And, as I’ve mentioned before, these chances really vary a lot depending on your profile as a potential victim. If you’re a man, you’re much more likely to be a victim of nonsexual assault than a woman is, for example.

    (Question: why did you specify you were looking for Bayesian statistics?)

  19. 19
    closetpuritan says:

    If I were to say that I know most dogs are friendly, but I cannot know which dogs are friendly in advance, and my preferred method of dealing with this fact is to cross the street to avoid an oncoming human and dog walking on the sidewalk, would I be accused of being insufficiently considerate of the dog-walkers’ feelings? Or tarring all dogs with the same brush?

  20. 20
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Making matters more complex:

    The whole concept of discrimination based on group characteristics is limited to stranger encounters. That’s because you don’t rely on group characteristics if you actually know someone. When you’re asking “is it reasonable to distrust ___ because s/he is ___?” question, it is functionally limited to people you don’t know.

    Anyway, roughly 1/5 rapes is committed by a stranger. For rape in particular, the analysis w/r/t male strangers needs to take that into account.

    I do not know if we have statistics for what %age of other crimes are committed by non-strangers, and I’m too busy to look. But those statistics would be relevant as well.

    Without knowing, I’ll guess that it really varies by crime: I suspect that rape, assault and murder are in the “much more likely between people who know each other” category. And I suspect that muggings and some other similar crimes are probably almost all committed by strangers.

  21. 21
    mythago says:

    @Iseter: That’s an impression entirely from your own imagination. I was pointing out that Cathy Young’s analogy was backward; if one is trying to draw an racial analogy to women being wary of men, the correct question is whether black people should be wary of white people. Not the other way around.

    (And actually, the answer to that second question is ‘probably, yeah’.)

    @closetpuritan: You’re taking statistics about incarceration for all crimes by race, and extrapolating from that to assumptions about the race of people who commit assault? To say that is not a ‘perfect proxy’ is a gross understatement.

  22. 22
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    People are objecting to the inconsistency of analysis.

    If we privilege the subjective generally, then we run into some results which are at odds with what folks want. Under a general subjective analysis, it might be OK for Wally Whitedude to be “justified” in discriminating against POC. Perhaps Wally feels scared of them due to a belief that POC are more violent; perhaps Wally had a bad experience with POC in the past; perhaps Wally thinks that he won’t get believed if he complains; perhaps Wally is aware of the racial tensions in the country and therefore fears the added potential for racial animus in an encounter. If it’s subjective, who are we to tell Wally whether or not his personal fears are appropriate?

    But that seems racist, and simply wrong. I am sure that many folks here (including me) would be a bit uncomfortable with Wally’s position.

    So: what do you do with Wally Whitedude? If you start telling Wally that he is a racist for feeling as he does, because it’s not justified… well, then you also set up the other classes of folks to have their claims challenged–by people like Wally. That has its own set of costs.

    I think the discussion about process needs to precede the analysis: we shouldn’t be attacking Wally for racism until after we have established that it’s reasonable to use objectivism for Wally and subjectivism for someone else. Which I sort of feel like it is, but can’t explain why.

  23. 23
    nobody.really says:

    @ 17: Oops, data glitch — I inadvertently doubled the data on incarceration rates by race. So here’s the revised bold-face data:

    For every 100,000 male US residents, 1352 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 female US residents, 126 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 black US residents, approx. 2304 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 Hispanic/Latino US residents, approx. 954 were incarcerated.
    For every 100,000 white US residents, approx. 385 were incarcerated.

    I don’t think this is actually a reasonable set of numbers, but if it were, it doesn’t support the idea that black people are more criminal compared to white people than men are compared to women.

    I was trying to explore the thesis that fear of being followed by a man is more justified than fear of being followed by a black person. And, acknowledging and setting aside the weakness in the data set, I think the data support the following conclusion: If you realize that you’re being followed, you should have less to fear realizing that the person following you is male than realizing that the person following you is black.

    (Question: why did you specify you were looking for Bayesian statistics?)

    Oh. That was an artifact of an earlier version of this post (and an earlier version of my understanding of Table 3). But now that you mention it, maybe I could combine the data in Table 3 with 2010 census data about the prevalence of each characteristic in the population….

    But it’s hard to get excited about fiddling with the data, given its weaknesses as a proxy.

    @closetpuritan: You’re taking statistics about incarceration for all crimes by race, and extrapolating from that to assumptions about the race of people who commit assault? To say that is not a ‘perfect proxy’ is a gross understatement.

    I suspect this criticism is directed to me. And I’m happy to review better data sets (time permitting). A lot of knowledgeable people read this blog; does anyone have a lead on better data?

    Otherwise, I can also accept the conclusion that we lack sufficient data on the question, and thus we have no basis to conclude that people are justified in being more wary of men than of black people.

  24. 24
    mythago says:

    I suspect this criticism is directed to me. And I’m happy to review better data sets (time permitting).

    Yes, it was directed at you. It isn’t about ‘better data sets’. It’s about the ludicrous assumption that incarceration rates for all crimes is informative or useful in determining whether black men are more likely to assault strangers than are white men. This isn’t merely ‘weak’. This is the old joke about looking for your glasses under the streetlamp because the light is better there.

    And, while I concede the weakness in the data set, I think the data support the conclusion that, if you realize that you’re being followed, you should have less to fear realizing that the person following you is male than realizing that the person following you is black.

    I have no earthly idea why you would think that, but putting the nonlogic aside, you’re also starting from the faulty premise that rape = being assaulted in a public place by a random stranger.

  25. 25
    mythago says:

    And yes, that was directed at nobody.really. My apologies for misreading the comment headers.

  26. 26
    nobody.really says:

    I have no earthly idea why you would think that, but putting the nonlogic aside, you’re also starting from the faulty premise that rape = being assaulted in a public place by a random stranger.

    Apparently there’s a lot of this going around. I have no earthly idea why you would think that. : -)

  27. 27
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    the faulty premise that rape = being assaulted in a public place by a random stranger.

    Right. 80% of rapists were known to the victim.

    I don’t know the statistics, but I’m willing to bet that of the remaining 20% of stranger rapes, the majority (probably the vast majority) took place in a non-public place, be it a dorm room, house, etc.

    “Rapist in an alley with a knife” is the common public image of a rapist, but is the opposite of reality.

  28. 28
    Ampersand says:

    I get the impression that people have forgotten about the original post, which didn’t suggest “rape” or “assault” as the minimum threshold which justifies caution. Rather, the post used street harassment (“If a woman is walking and someone starts following saying “Hi! Hey, hi!” and escalating to “don’t ignore me bitch!””) as the example of a frequently-occurring event that would justify being cautious of strangers.

    In particular, Nobody Really, your response utterly ignores the actual argument I made.

    When my female friends ask me to walk them to bus stops or don’t want to walk down a particular street alone because of bad experiences on that street in the past, yes, part of what they are worried about is being assaulted and raped. But typically, they also want to avoid being sexually harassed by strangers. And that latter event happens much more frequently than stranger-assault and stranger-rape – for some women, it is literally an everyday experience. And, importantly for our purposes, the people committing this very common form of harassment are overwhelmingly male rather than female.

    In contrast, when I hear some white people talk about their fear of blacks on the street, their concern is mainly being physical assaulted (usually mugged), not harassment.

    So that was the basis of comparison in my post. If you’re comparing something else, then you’re not being responsive to my post. What you’re effectively doing, Nobody Really, is completely ignoring sexual harassment and pretend it isn’t happening and isn’t (for many women, not all women) a major aspect of why they’ve learned to be cautious of stranger men on the street, and if we ignore that reality completely and instead look only at assaults, etc etc etc..

    I understand why you’re doing that – the light is indeed better under that lamppost. But the keys simply aren’t there, no matter how much better the light is.

    does anyone have a lead on better data?

    Yes, the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics.

    In my post, I wrote: “Statistically, there are a greater proportion of muggers among blacks than whites – “but the number of such muggers is so vanishingly small that a blacks chance of being one is only slightly higher than a white’s.” For practical, walking-the-streets purposes, the odds of a stranger being a mugger are effectively identical regardless of skin color.”

    Let’s look at “robbery,” the category closest to muggings. According to the Sourcebook (pdf link and another to relevant tables), which gets its data from the government’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), 136,445 Americans are robbed by white offenders in a year (2008, most recent year with data up), while 246326 were robbed by black offenders.

    Let’s assume – wrongly (because this ignores both multiple-offender robberies and serial robbers) that the number of offenders equals the number of robberies. That means that 99.40% of blacks are not robbers, while 99.94% of whites are not robbers. For evaluating how I should react to two strangers when the only known difference between them is skin color, those numbers are virtually identical.

    (The odds get even more identical for me as a white person when I consider that 1.6 per thousand white Americans are robbed in a year, versus 5.5 per thousand Black Americans. (pdf link) In other words, muggers disproportionately prey on Blacks, not on whites like me, so I have even less reason to fear any random stranger is a mugger. But I’m too lazy to figure out how that effects these numbers.)

    But anyway, although I’ve succumbed to temptation and am looking under the same lamppost you’re looking under, let me repeat that this is a waste of time. The comparison that’s relevant to my post cannot be found under this lamppost.

  29. 29
    nobody.really says:

    To be sure, one challenge in answering a question is to have an underspecified question.

    When my female friends ask me to walk them to bus stops or don’t want to walk down a particular street alone because of bad experiences on that street in the past, yes, part of what they are worried about is being assaulted and raped. But typically, they also want to avoid being sexually harassed by strangers. And that latter event happens much more frequently than stranger-assault and stranger-rape….

    I expect sexual harassment is more common that assaults. And I expect that assaults are more traumatizing (salient) than sexual harassment. When it comes to evaluating what a person should be rationally more cautious of, I expect both factors might enter into the equation.

    99.40% of blacks are not robbers, while 99.94% of whites are not robbers. For of evaluating how I should react to two strangers when the only known difference between them is skin color, those numbers are virtually identical.

    I am not remotely surprised to learn that 99+% of people, regardless of race, have not been convicted of robbery. And I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to learn that 99+% of people, regardless of gender, refrain from shouting “don’t ignore me bitch!” at strangers. In either case, we’re discussing the behavior of a minority of the population.

    The comparison that’s relevant to my post cannot be found under this lamppost.

    To avoid the under-specification problem, let’s be clear: You’re saying you doubt that data exists to permit evaluation of these questions.

    That may be so — in which case, we’re each left to our individual intuitions. But I’d offer one insight brought out by the discussion here: This is a topic that seems to provoke strong feelings. Strong feelings do not facilitate critical analysis. When I rely on my individual intuition on a topic that provokes strong feelings, I’m just groping in the dark. Maybe that’s as good as it gets. But all the same, I’m going to scrutinize the ground around the lamppost a little longer before I join you.

  30. 30
    Charles S says:

    nobody.really,

    “Strong feelings do not facilitate critical analysis.”

    Rubbish. Lack of significant investment in the topic leads to facile argument and a willingness to use shoddy reasoning to reach a conclusion, because it doesn’t really matter to you if you are right or wrong (as we’ve seen here with your slovenly use of inappropriate metrics and incompetent reference to Bayesian statistics).

    You are treading perilously close to the traditional argument of “Oh, those women and black people are too invested in their own experience of oppression to engage in profound thought about their experience, that should be left to us white (upper class, highly educated) men, should we feel that it is an amusing intellectual exercise.”

  31. 31
    Ampersand says:

    Nobody Really:

    Well, it sort of depends on if you believe what many women say when they say street harassment happens frequently. It’s not that the information doesn’t exist – it’s that it’s anecdotal. Acknowledging that a commonly-reported experience exists is not the same as “strong feelings” – and the choice to pretend reality doesn’t exist if it isn’t quantified in data is not objective analysis.

    If you aren’t even willing to admit that there’s strong reason to believe street harassment is MUCH more commonplace than muggings, then you’re not being reality-based, imo.

    [Cross-posted with Charles.]

  32. 32
    Charles S says:

    nobody.really,

    There is also an absence in your critical analysis of an awareness of who gets harmed by the decision (or tendency) to avoid a potential street interaction, and how that differs between women avoiding street interactions with men and white people avoiding street interactions with black people.

    To expand a bit on mythago’s point at comment (4):

    Our society is substantially segregated by race, but not by gender, and the desire of white people to avoid interacting with black people is a major driver of that segregation. Meanwhile, women avoiding street interactions with men mostly plays out by limiting the mobility of women, so women’s pattern of avoidance harms women, and white people’s pattern of avoidance harms black people.

    Additionally, because women and men are highly integrated in our society (most women grew up with men in their family, work with men, have male friends, etc), street interactions with strangers do not represent the overwhelming majority of women’s interactions with men. This means that the psychological effects of having an aversion to interacting with strange men on the street is heavily moderated by positive interactions with men in other contexts.

    Meanwhile, most white people in the US have very limited interactions with black people, so the psychological effects of viewing black people on the street as threats has very little moderating counter-balance, and plays a much larger role in setting white people’s psychological biases when they interact with black people in other contexts.

    There is also, I think, actually a substantial difference in the psychological effects of micro-aggressions when they occur in a power-up direction than when they occur in a power-down direction, but I don’t have time at the moment to work this argument through or look at the relevant literature.

  33. 33
    Hugh says:

    @Amp: The idea that street harassment is common and that 99% of men are not street harassers are not necessarily opposed. It’s possible it’s just a small number of men doing a lot of harassing. Is this what I think is the case? I’ve no idea, but you seem to be coming it from the perspective that, if there is a lot of street harassment, any given man is reasonably likely to be a street harasser. I don’t think that follows.

  34. 34
    Ampersand says:

    The idea that street harassment is common and that 99% of men are not street harassers are not necessarily opposed.

    Agreed.

    you seem to be coming it from the perspective that, if there is a lot of street harassment, any given man is reasonably likely to be a street harasser. I don’t think that follows.

    Nope, I don’t think I said that.

    I did say that given how completely common street harassment is, I think women are justified in being cautious of men they don’t know. That is not the same thing as what you just said. Do you really not see the difference?

  35. 35
    Hugh says:

    I’m not getting into the whole “are women justified” thing. I just thought that what you were saying about it being common was a reaction to Nobody Really’s point about the 99%.

  36. 36
    Ampersand says:

    Oh, I see. No, I didn’t mean it that way.

    The more I think about it, the more I think that the 99% argument I made was a wrong turn.

    This issue comes down to how common something is. What if 0.05% of fat people ever punched strangers in the nose, but getting punched in the nose by fat strangers was commonplace for thin people in public? In that circumstance, my instinct would be to say that for thin people to be cautious of strange fat people would be warranted – even though that would be unfair to 99.5% of fat people. If Slim Sam can reasonably expect that every time he’s out in public there’s pretty good odds of a fat stranger punching him in the nose, it would be unfair to expect Sam not to respond by becoming cautious of strange fat people.

  37. 37
    Elusis says:

    Just to offer some data points on street harassment:

    http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/06/street-harassment-survey-america

  38. 38
    nobody.really says:

    There is … an absence in your critical analysis of an awareness of who gets harmed by the decision (or tendency) to avoid a potential street interaction, and how that differs between women avoiding street interactions with men and white people avoiding street interactions with black people.

    True, my analysis omits an awareness of these dynamics – not because I disagree with them, not because I don’t regard them as important for other questions, but because I don’t see how they bear on this question. Given that I’m trying to model rational behavior, it’s not obvious how psychological dynamics influence the analysis.

    If you aren’t even willing to admit that there’s strong reason to believe street harassment is MUCH more commonplace than muggings, then you’re not being reality-based, imo.

    Ok, here goes: There’s strong reason to believe street harassment is MUCH more commonplace than muggings. Sound good?

    In fact, I’ll go further than that; I’ll concede this:

    I expect sexual harassment is more common that assaults. And I expect that assaults are more traumatizing (salient) than sexual harassment. When it comes to evaluating what a person should be rationally more cautious of, I expect both factors might enter into the equation.

    In contrast, here are my litmus tests for reality-based thinking:

    1. A woman may rationally weight the consequence of having someone shout “don’t ignore me bitch” differently than the consequence of violent assault/purse snatching/pick-pocketing/etc.
    2. Members of different groups may have a different propensity to engage in different antisocial acts.
    3. All these facts are relevant to identifying what a person should be rationally more cautious of.

    From my perspective, the discussion is not lacking for failure to acknowledge that harassment is more common than assault. Rather, the conversation is lacking for the failure to acknowledge that a rational strategy would involve considering not just common phenomena, but also less common but more salient phenomena. Routine check-ups may be the most common reason I visit a doctor – but when it comes to shopping for health insurance, it’s not the sole consideration.

    I’m sorry if I sound pedantic. But when Amp says “This issue comes down to how common something is,” I have to suspect that either he is making a fundamental error here, or I am.

    This issue comes down to how common something is. What if 0.05% of fat people ever punched strangers in the nose, but getting punched in the nose by fat strangers was commonplace for thin people in public? In that circumstance, my instinct would be to say that for thin people to be cautious of strange fat people would be warranted – even though that would be unfair to 99.5% of fat people. If Slim Sam can reasonably expect that every time he’s out in public there’s pretty good odds of a fat stranger punching him in the nose, it would be unfair to expect Sam not to respond by becoming cautious of strange fat people.

    Well, it’s a start.

    Yes, we’d want to consider how often subgroup A has characteristic X and we’d want to consider how large subgroup A is as a percentage of the population as a whole. Black people are about 13% of the population; men are about 49%. So even if the average black person was three times as likely to have attribute X than the average man, men as a group would have more of attribute X than black people as a group.

    Then we’d want to consider that we’re evaluating more than one attribute, arguably with different salience.

    This leads back to the under-specification problem: What question are we answering? The answer to the question “Should I anticipate greater threat coming from men or from black people?” may differ from the answer to the question “Should I anticipate greater threat coming from a random man or from a random black person?”

    In conclusion, Amp is right: In the US, men are more common than black people; men as a group create more consequences – good and bad – than do black people as a group. If “[t]his issue comes down to how common something is,” then pretty much anything associated with men will be more common than anything associated with black people. If the question is more complicated than that, then the answer may be more complicated, too.

    Thanks for reading. Note that Amp and I have been having some variation of this discussion for about eight years now. Guess I’m just a slow learner.

  39. 39
    Charles S says:

    Given that I’m trying to model rational behavior, it’s not obvious how psychological dynamics influence the analysis. “

    This leads back to the under-specification problem: What question are we answering?

    Indeed, you seem to have missed the question in a variety of ways: (1) failed to understand the salience of the reference to misandry and racism in the conversation Amp and Cathy Young had; (2) instead reduced the standard of evaluation down to rationalism; (3) tried to model human thought processes and behavior without including psychological dynamics; (4) disregarded any feedback loops between individual behavior (the model agent training itself to have an aversion to black people in the hopes that it might reduce the risk of being mugged) and society (black people being treated worse systematically because the white model agents now are aversive racists) or any secondary personal benefits and harms (the model agent’s sorrow at living in a racist society and its black friends and relatives suffering racist abuse) from the weighting system of your model.

    So you end up investigating the wrong question and producing an answer that is boring and inadequate (but at least it was tractable! Or would have been if you could have been bothered to actually hunt down adequate data). But at least the lamppost you are stumbling around under does cast some light. Mostly on how your thought processes work, but so it goes.

    And yes, your comment on a fairly intense thread 8 years ago does demonstrate that likelihood estimation is an ongoing interest of yours and that this is not the first time it has caused you to wandering off into the weeds. :p

  40. 40
    mythago says:

    I’m sorry if I sound pedantic.

    Speaking only for myself? Sounding pedantic, I have no problem with (or even actually being pedantic). Tapdancing, that’s a whole different matter.

  41. 41
    Hector_St_Clare says:

    Re: I was pointing out that Cathy Young’s analogy was backward; if one is trying to draw an racial analogy to women being wary of men, the correct question is whether black people should be wary of white people. Not the other way around.

    Not really, because the issue here is violent crime. Just like men commit more violent crimes than women, people of African descent commit more violent crimes than those of European descent. So, if it’s OK for women to assume men are all potential violent criminals, it should be ok for white americans to assume the same of Black Americans.

    Needless to say, I don’t think it’s OK in either case.

  42. 42
    Ampersand says:

    Unless you consider street harassment to be a violent crime – and maybe you do – I don’t think “the issue here” (if “here” is determined by my original post) is only “violent crime.”

    As for “if it’s OK for women to assume men are all potential violent criminals, it should be ok for white americans to assume the same of Black Americans” – it’s already been argued why you’re wrong about that, both in the original post (which it seems like you didn’t read) and in the comments. Maybe you could address an argument?

  43. 43
    mythago says:

    The funniest part of Hector’s comment is his having forgotten that most black Americans are also of “European descent”, and many have equal or greater “European” ancestry as they do “African” ancestry.

  44. 44
    closetpuritan says:

    Kind of tangential (but then, what part of this comment thread hasn’t been tangential?), but I actually would be surprised if 1% or fewer of men were street harassers. nobody.really linked to an old post here where it was estimated that 4.5% of men were rapists; a couple different studies by Lisak have put the number at 6% and 10%. If those studies are anywhere near accurate, it would mean that rapists are about 5x more common than street harassers. (I could maybe see it being true if most street harassers are young and stop doing it at some point, and you exclude people who have stopped doing it (but continue to count rapists who have stopped raping).)

    I do agree that probably most men are not street harassers, though.

  45. 45
    Hector_St_Clare says:

    Mythago: African-Americans, on the whole, have about 80% African ancestry and 20% European.

  46. 46
    mythago says:

    Hector, I am astonished that a scientist such as yourself would be so sloppy. (Let’s ignore the lack of citation.) What does your comment even mean? That the median genetic distribution among people identified as “black” is 20% “European”, whatever that means? That any given black person is 80% “African”? How does that work given that, in the US, labels such as black or white have to do with skin color, regardless of actual ancestry?

    Those are rhetorical questions, anyway; I still think it’s amusing that you forgot “European ancestry” is not the same thing as “white”. But do keep on if it’s helpful to you in avoiding Amp’s question.

  47. 47
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    There’s a lot of mixed analysis going on–I don’t think it’s intentional but it is important to keep things straight.

    For example, the # of men who are calculated to be rapists is, of course, fairly high and WAY higher than the actual # of convicted rapists. So obviously, if you’re going to use a calculated number than you’ll also have to use that for everyone, whether it’s “women who rape**” or “people of ___ race who have committed a act that a researcher would retroactively classify as violent.”

    Then for each subset you also have to account for threat location, at least in the context of private/public (if we’re talking about discriminating against random people in a public setting.) Those are quite possibly different for calculated #s: only 20% of rapes on average are committed in public, but I suspect an even smaller %age of the type of actions which Lisak tried to capture take place in public.

    And you’d have to decide whether you’re looking at “random encounter” statistics or “lifetime” statistics. If you imagine that 1 in 24 women will be sexually assaulted in public over her roughly 30000 days of life, the chances that she will be assaulted in a particular encounter that she is having right now are extraordinarily small. The same applies to street muggings. You need to compare apples to apples.

    **Almost no women are convicted of rape. But to use a single example of “conduct which would be retroactively classified as rape,” I suspect that a non-insubstantial # of women have had sex with someone who was really really drunk. Different analyses, different results. Etc.

  48. 48
    Hector_St_Clare says:

    Mythago, here’s the citation. Razib is usually a good source for relevant papers addressing this kind of thing.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/05/genetic-variation-among-african-americans/

    Re: How does that work given that, in the US, labels such as black or white have to do with skin color, regardless of actual ancestry?

    Um, I’m not sure why it wouldn’t work? Even if two group is defined by some arbitrary social metric, as opposed to on the basis of ancestry, it’s possible for the distribution of ancestry to differ between the two groups. African-Americans are, not surprisingly, of mostly African descent.

  49. 49
    Hector_St_Clare says:

    Re: This is a topic that seems to provoke strong feelings. Strong feelings do not facilitate critical analysis.

    Yup.

  50. 50
    closetpuritan says:

    g&w:
    There’s a lot of mixed analysis going on–I don’t think it’s intentional but it is important to keep things straight.

    I can’t tell if you are concerned that within comments people are mixing things and are currently confused, or between comments different people are talking about different things, and you want to preempt any confusion.

    If/to the extent that you’re addressing my comment: I was only comparing the number of rapists (mostly unconvicted) with the (speculated) number of street harassers (mostly unconvicted, because they are generally not committing a crime in the first place). If street harassment is near one end of a continuum going from more-serious to less-serious, and rape near the other, I would expect more people to engage in less-serious behaviors than more-serious behaviors.

  51. 51
    mythago says:

    @Hector, you’re right, Razib’s posting is head and shoulders above so much of what passes for science journalism.

    That said, no, the article doesn’t say that everyone ‘black’ in the US has 20% European ancestry; it’s focused on ethnicity in terms of different ancestral groups, and goes on to note that 1) people who have more European than African ancestry are labelled ‘black’ and 2) one can have strong African ancestry and still pass as ‘white’.

    Re “why wouldn’t it work”, please see above re: passing. As well, since being “black” is tied to skin hue rather than ethnicity per se, someone whose ancestry is not directly African – such as Australian Aboriginal people – would be labeled ‘black’.

    So, I’m still going to be snotty at you for assuming “African” and “European” are separate things and never the twain shall meet, and by the way in people of both ancestries only the “African” counts to criminal tendencies if you can see it. Of course by some definitions I am only half “European”, so perhaps that’s the problem.

  52. 52
    Chris says:

    Relevant quote from the Daily Show:

    KLEPPER: But not all men are bad! Some are still gentlemen, thank you very much.
    WILLIAMS: Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind the next time a guy says he wants to lick my back when I’m walking to work at eight in the fucking morning.

    http://jezebel.com/the-daily-shows-take-on-sexual-assault-is-devastatingly-1596369413?utm_campaign=socialflow_jezebel_facebook&utm_source=jezebel_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

  53. 53
    Hector_St_Clare says:

    Re: Re “why wouldn’t it work”, please see above re: passing.

    I’m still not sure of your point.

    You can have a group that’s defined socially rather than genetically, but we can still make generalizations about differences in biological traits between the groups, as long as the two groups have somewhat different distributions of ancestries. Indian ‘Muslims’ and ‘Hindus’ are obviously not defined genetically (being a Hindu or a Muslim is a matter of choice, not genetics), but we can still make generalizations about, say, a genetic trait that might be more common in Muslims than in Hindus (because, e.g. one group is more likely to have some Middle Eastern ancestry and less ASI ancestry than the other).

    I don’t know why the violent crime rate is higher among African Americans than among white Americans, but if you discovered that the crime rate was no higher among people with 90% African ancestry than among people with 40% African ancestry, then that would eliminate some explenations.

  54. 54
    mythago says:

    Somebody get Hector a can of WD-40 for those goalposts, please.

  55. 55
    Charles S says:

    mythago,

    Hector’s in a tricky position. As an admitted “Scientific Racist”, he has been forbidden from discussing his repellent views on race on Alas. In this thread, he has been trying to run right up to the edge of that prohibition without crossing over, which leads to a lot of hinting and then backing off into anodyne platitudes. Which is actually kind of irritating and tedious to read.

    Hector,

    I’m tired of reading your vague boundary pushing comments, so I’m going to clarify the boundary for you a good bit farther back. Comments that would be fine from people who aren’t advocates for a repellent racist ideology are not permissible from you. Please stop commenting entirely on discussions of race on Alas. Thanks.

  56. 56
    mythago says:

    Charles S., that’s a good point, and honestly it’s not very fair of me to try and get Hector to actually explain his position when he has been banned from doing so. My apologies to all.

  57. 57
    Charles S says:

    mythago,

    I actually do appreciate you trying to get him to explain his position as it did get me to ban him from half-discussing his views. If you’d called him into the discussion, that would have been unfair, but once he put himself in it and hinted at his views, asking him to clarify seems entirely fair.

  58. 58
    Hector_St_Clare says:

    Charles S.,

    Fair enough, I apologize and I’ll refrain from entering the fray on race issues anymore. Mythago, you can find me at Dreher’s blog if you want to discuss this further.

  59. 59
    Hector_St_Clare says:

    On second though, Charles, given my *very deep* disagreements with so much of what’s written here, perhaps it would be the best use of my time and yours for me to refrain from commenting here entirely.

  60. 60
    hermithome says:

    I got linked to this post and liked it so much that I used bits from your twitter exchange and from the comment section here to put together a fairly long post: “Being Cautious of Men vs Being Cautious of Blacks – Dissecting Rational vs. Irrational Fears, Weighing Potential Harm and Learning How To Analogize”. I touched on some other critical theories that intersect nicely and added a few points I felt were missed. Hope you enjoy.

  61. 61
    Ampersand says:

    I did enjoy! Thanks for putting that together.

  62. 62
    Hector_St_Clare says:

    Incidentally: the fact that Charles S. is apparently unable to continue this discussion, even to tell me to shut up, without resorting to slurs and insults, says a lot about the capacity that his sort has for civilised discussion. Or lack thereof. Unsurprisingly, I guess: a lot of these folks seem to consider the distinction between civilization and savagery to be racist in itself.

  63. 63
    Charles S says:

    I have to admit it makes this example of my sort really happy that you came so close to leaving graciously and then, 5 days later, came back with that.

    Goodbye, Hector, goodbye.

  64. 64
    Hector_St_Clare says:

    Ah. More evidence, if we needed it, that clowns like Charles S. are incapable of civilised discussion.

    Really, this is part of why I always like to claim it was a mistake to allow his sort to vote, write blogs, or otherwise participate in the public square. If you were made to work on a sugarcane plantation for a while, Charles , instead of yapping on a blog, we’d probably all be better off. To start with, you might learn some damned respect for your betters.

  65. 66
    Wahr says:

    “Wow. True colors.”

    No, I’ll tell you exactly what it is. Hector_St_Clare and Charles S just don’t like each other. Charles S is provoking him and being bossy with “get off my thread”. Hector sees his future here, which consists of eventually being banned, and is firing back with insults he thinks will work. It just happens that it is black stereotypes that may get Charles’ goat. With someone else, it may be physical appearance. With someone else, it may be their propensity to be a crashing bore. Maybe a feminist would bristle at “make me a sandwich”.

    Hector is just firing back the only way he can before he is banned. That’s all.

  66. 67
    Ampersand says:

    Hector sees his future here, which consists of eventually being banned, and is firing back with insults he thinks will work. It just happens that it is black stereotypes that may get Charles’ goat.

    I can’t imagine why you think this is an excuse. As far as I can make out, you’re defending Hector by claiming that he was using racism instrumentally in order to attempt to insult Charles, and therefore being racist is not Hector’s “true colors.”

    But that’s nonsense. Even if we ignore Hector’s long history of racism, on this and other blogs, your argument is still nonsense. Because being racist instrumentally, rather than sincerely, is still being racist.

    As I recall, some people defended Mel Gibson’s anti-semitic rant using an argument similar to yours – he wasn’t REALLY being anti-semitic, he was just trying to say the most hurtful thing he could think of, blah blah blah. Why are some people so invested in making excuses for bigotry?

  67. 68
    Wahr says:

    Well, there’s a difference between someone who legitimately hates blacks and a person who doesn’t like a person who happens to be black, and that characteristic is used as a basis for insults just because it gets his goat.

    But I doubt I’m going to get that point across to you, and maybe your point is that you shouldn’t say anything bad about someone’s personal characteristics, which is kind of true, so it just seems kind of useless and a waste of time on both sides to argue. I’ll let you win if you want.

    Edited to add: A person can be both, of course. He can hate blacks AND use that characteristic to insult the other person.

  68. 69
    Ampersand says:

    Well, there’s a difference between someone who legitimately hates blacks and a person who doesn’t like a person who happens to be black, and that characteristic is used as a basis for insults just because it gets his goat.

    I can see that there’s a difference, of course. I just don’t see why the different matters. It’s not that person A is racist and person B is non-racist; it’s that they’re being racist for different reasons. But they’re both being racist nonetheless.

    If Chris punches me because he hates me, and Sam punches me just to make an instrumental point, I’ve been punched either way.

    Agreed on your final sentence.

    Re: “I’ll let you win.” There is no one keeping score; there is no win condition; this isn’t a competition. Except in the sense that if we manage to have a good discussion, then we both win.

  69. 70
    KellyK says:

    Charles S is provoking him and being bossy with “get off my thread”

    That’s not “provoking” or being “bossy” (as if it’s somehow Charles’s fault that Hector decided to start flinging racist crap all over the thread). Hector doesn’t have some inherent, God-given right to post whatever he wants in the comments of someone else’s blog. Charles, as a moderator, has every right to tell him when he’s crossed a line, and when his comments are not welcome. The moderation on this blog is extremely polite, and nothing Charles said was in any way out of line.

  70. 71
    KellyK says:

    Well, there’s a difference between someone who legitimately hates blacks and a person who doesn’t like a person who happens to be black, and that characteristic is used as a basis for insults just because it gets his goat.

    Like Amp said, it’s a difference that doesn’t matter much. If your bar for racism is “hates blacks,” that’s way too low. Racism can be hate, or it can be believing stereotypes, or being okay with black people getting worse treatment than white people. If someone’s willing to throw racist comments around any time a black person pisses them off, they’re obviously okay with black people being treated worse than white people, because they’re *perpetuating* that. They don’t then get to claim they’re not racist just because they haven’t been to any Klan rallies.

  71. 72
    closetpuritan says:

    It’s sort of like the difference between someone who kills their spouse because they’re angry that the spouse plans to divorce them, and someone who kills the about-to-divorce-them spouse for the insurance money. Both are amoral, and both show an indifference to the other person. In the case of using racist comments instrumentally, it’s at best the difference between “wants the world to be more racist” and “does not give a fuck if the world is more racist”.

  72. 73
    mythago says:

    You know, it wasn’t that long ago that Amp posted about why it’s wrong to slam sexist dudes by saying they can’t get laid or have tiny penises. I don’t recall anyone there jumping in and arguing that it’s OK because people hurling those insults don’t REALLY believe guys with small penises are inferior, it’s just a way to attack them.

    I also tend to doubt that if a Charles here attacked Hector with anti-male slurs, that “Wahr” would be rushing in to scold Hector for being bossy or to say those slurs were all right, because clearly Charles was just trying to get his goat.

    But otherwise, this is a useful, if entirely unsurprising, example of what really is behind “scientific” racism. It is not in fact about impassioned observations of characteristics across human populations; it’s about wanting an excuse to believe oneself is entitled to birthright privilege. Sort of a distant, pathetic second prize for people who missed being born into royalty, I guess.

  73. 74
    Jake Squid says:

    That was horrible and enlightening. Sometimes, when you’re not the victim of a particular bigotry you forget just how awful that bigotry can be. I have been reminded. If I ever forget again, I have this thread to remind me.

  74. 75
    Wahr says:

    Where have I landed here?

    A combat veteran just back from Afghanistan is sitting next to Jake Squid in a wine bar. The marine – fresh back – pounds down his drinks and says he just saw a mine go off under an unprotected truck. The crankshaft went through his buddy’s head. He had to walk back to camp alone with his friend’s blood and guts and pieces of his brain all over him.

    Jake says, “That’s nothing … I saw a guy say kind of mean stuff on a message board once, and I always look back at it to remind me how horrible life can be.”

    The marine breaks down crying at Jake’s story.

  75. 76
    Wahr says:

    Yeah, Ampersand, I know you have a moderation policy (that only applies to people who are ideologically opposed to you). Do what you got to do, Big Guy.

    What people say here is borderline unbelievable. Do they live in the real world?

  76. 77
    Jake Squid says:

    What a wonderful non-sequitur. It shows both a lack of comprehension and utter irrelevance. I salute your skill.

  77. 78
    Ampersand says:

    Both of you, dial it back several notches, please.

    Wahr, I could point you to a whole bunch of examples of me moderating people who I basically agree with, but why bother?

    You’re now openly in contempt of the moderation goals here, and you’re trying to game the referee, which as the referee I kinda hate. I’m putting you on “automatic moderation”; from now on, your comments will only appear after a moderator has looked at them to see if they pass our moderation policy. If you want to be removed from automatic moderation, make several comments in a row which get approved, and then ask to be put back into ordinary status.

  78. 79
    Charles S says:

    In the service of accuracy, I will mention that Hector does not think I’m black, he just wishes he could enslave everyone who doesn’t think he’s the greatest (or something- can’t say I care what his exact criteria for enslavement are).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>