Open Thread and Link Farm, Two-Face Was A Piker Edition

  1. “The hypocrisy is astounding”: this tax bill shows the GOP’s debt concerns were pure fraud
    In other news, ocean still wet.
  2. Can We Cut the Crap on the Debt from the Tax Bill Hurting Our Kids? | Beat the Press | Blogs | Publications | The Center for Economic and Policy Research
    The GOP tax bill is terrible – but the problem is not the effect of future debt on the children.
  3. GiveDirectly is launching their randomized control trial of long-term guaranteed basic income in Kenya. The Unit of Caring has gathered some highlights.
  4. Letting robots kill without human supervision could save lives | New Scientist
    You can’t read the whole article, because paywall, although you can read enough to get the gist of the argument.But honestly, I added this to the link farm because I just love the headline, about which someone on Twitter wrote “Was… was this written by killer robots?”

  5. What alarmist articles about transgender children get wrong.
    It’s not true that 80% – or anywhere near 80% – of transgender children either desist or detransition.
  6. Detransition, Desistance, and Disinformation: A Guide for Understanding Transgender Children… | Julia Serano
  7. Prepubescent Transgender Children: What We Do and Do Not Know – Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
    Only the first page here. To read the whole article, email me and I can hook you up.
  8. When “desisters” aren’t: De-desistance in childhood and adolescent gender dysphoria | Gender Analysis

  9. ‘Lady Bird’ Star Laurie Metcalf Might Be the Best Actress Working Right Now
    I saw “Lady Bird”; the movie was wonderful – it did mostly the usual coming-of-age narrative moves, but it did them all so well – and Metcalf, as the main character’s mother, was astounding. (Metcalf is most famous for playing Jackie on “Roseanne.”)
  10. Speaking of Roseanne, one of my favorite TV shows ever, there’s going to be a tenth season next year, with Metcalf and the rest of the original cast (including John Goodman) returning to their old roles. I hope it’s good.
  11. The Rise of the Post-New Left Political Vocabulary | The Public Autonomy Project
    Long and (to me) interesting comparison of New Left and Social Justice Left jargon, asking why the vocabularies changed and if it matters.
  12. Obama won lots of votes from racially prejudiced whites (and some of them supported Trump) – The Washington Post
  13. Liberals Are Becoming Knee-Jerk Anti-Trumpists | New Republic
    “The left should be encouraging the president’s moderation on foreign policy rather than distorting the truth about alleged gaffes.” Article by Jeet Heer. (In context, I think “moderation” means not that Trump is a moderate, but that Trump has moderated his rhetoric and approach compared to his previous statements.)
  14. The Right Way, And The Wrong Way, To Measure the Benefits Of Tax Changes | Tax Policy Center
  15. Facing deportation, Lucio Perez is adapting to life in Amherst church sanctuary | masslive.com
  16. Here is a fantastic example of the difference between the male and female gaze. Patty Jenkins’ Amazon warriors on the left. Zack Snyder’s on the right.”
    I don’t think I agree with the terminology – perhaps I would call it a fantastic example of women as subjects vs objectification – actually, I’m not sure that’s right either – but whatever the terminology, it’s a striking comparison.
  17. The Zombie Fungus Takes Over Ants’ Bodies to Control Their Minds – The Atlantic
    Turns out the fungus is even creepier than previously thought. It’s like they plagiarized their ideas from “Get Out.”
  18. Sandy Hook Victim Noah Pozner’s Family Driven From Boca – The Forward
    Conspiracy theorists seem ridiculous, but they can (further) destroy people’s lives.
  19. How to stop sexism and raise a son who respects women.
  20. ZOA Rolled Out The Red Carpet For Steve Bannon — And It Backfired – The Forward
    The headline doesn’t really reflect the article. “Zionist Organization of America rolls out the red carpet for Steven Bannon, and this illustrates major divisions in the US Jewish community, and also Alan Dershowitz makes a cameo and is a jerk” would have been more accurate.
  21. A comic about every comment thread under any content involving a fat person existing. Ever.
    I’m jealous that I didn’t create this strip.
  22. An LAPD officer accidentally filmed himself putting cocaine in a suspect’s wallet – Vox
  23. Myths of the 1 Percent: What Puts People at the Top – The New York Times
    According to this economist, the answer isn’t trade, or information technology, or declining unions, or immigration. “Almost all of the growth in top American earners has come from just three economic sectors: professional services, finance and insurance, and health care, groups that tend to benefit from regulatory barriers that shelter them from competition.”
  24. Reflections of an Affirmative-Action Baby – The Atlantic
    The author, a white man, writes “the affirmative action I enjoyed, and the sexual harassment Sarah suffered, were connected. I was given extraordinary opportunity at TNR, in large measure, because talented women like Sarah Wildman were not.”
  25. Marvel takes on colonialism and white supremacy in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’
    The movie is an anti-colonial fantasy disguised as a screwball comedy disguised as an action movie. I really enjoyed it.
  26. Detroit cops posing as drug dealers tried to arrest Detroit cops posing as drug buyers and then they all had a fistfight in the middle of the street. This would make an awesome movie.
  27. The Disappearing Right to Earn a Living
    Do we really need someone to be licensed to hook up a stereo? “In the 1950s, about one in 20 American workers needed an occupational license before they could work in the occupation of their choice. Today, that figure stands at about one in four.” This is an issue I agree with libertarians about.
  28. Hari Kondabolu’s The Problem with Apu attempts to shut down The Simpsons’ racist caricature for good – The Verge
  29. The Last of the Iron Lungs
    The reporter found and interviewed the (as far as they know) last three people still using iron lungs to survive. All three are polio survivors, and boy, do they not like anti-vaxxers.
  30. I love Yoshitoshi Kanemaki’s wood carvings. Check out Kanemaki’s Behance page, and be sure to look at the gallery for the statue at the top of this post, which includes multiple angles as well as making-of photos.
  31. The bottom image is by Alessandro Sicioldr, another wonderful artist with a tendency to go all multi-face. Check out his behance, too.

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103 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Two-Face Was A Piker Edition

  1. 1
    Jokuvaan says:

    Robots killing somewhat independently is already reality in a peer adversary conflict like there are smart missiles seeking targets independently or smart mines that can tell apart a tank from a car.

  2. 2
    Seriously? says:

    On the difference between the male and female gaze, I do not get it.

    Both pictures show ‘warriors’ dressed is stupidly feminized attire that makes them vulnerable to any weapons that they are likely to face. Both pictures show ‘warriors’ who have forsaken the very first piece of armor anyone needs, the helmet. On both pictures, the ‘warriors’ have kept long unruly hair that will be a liability in combat, and failed to secure it. On both pictures, the ‘warriors’ lack warrior physique, and look like models who will feel the pangs of hunger after a short march.

    On the right, it is not immediately obvious that the ‘warriors’ do not know how to hold a sword.

    On the left, it is not immediately obvious that whoever armored them did not care about their lives. They had no idea how to make armor, but they may have actually cared.

  3. 3
    Gracchi says:

    Seriously?,

    Actually, the first piece of armor that blade-wielding warriors need is the shield. Full body armor that protects from arrows is extremely cumbersome and thus only works for heavy cavalry. Furthermore, blunt weapons can cause severe trauma when bashing plate armor. So a shield was key to stopping arrows and deflecting blunt weapons.

    The armor of the Amazon warriors seems inspired by ancient Athens, which suggests that they ought to look more like this. Interestingly, that armor has unnecessary nipples and muscular definition. I guess that the female gaze was strong in ancient Athens.

    Of course, plate armor is very expensive, so if the Amazonian warrior suffered from a pay gap (or were common soldiers, rather than elite soldiers), they might only be able to afford a linothorax or boiled leather armor. Unlike both movie pictures, it would still have been a single full breastplate.

    PS. I agree that it is silly how Hollywood tends to have lithe supermodels beat up burly men. That is not realistic as muscles and mass wins fights (in direct combat). Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano have done action movies and they have a much more realistic physique for combat (although not much acting prowess).

  4. 4
    Seriously? says:

    “Shields are not armor!” is a point that has been drummed into newbies in every HEMA club of which I have been a member.

    Blunt weapons that are superb at causing severe trauma against plate armor are a video game myth. It’s the mass, and its distribution that causes the damage, and that mass is always better off focused than spread on a blunt surface. Flanged maces are no more blunt weapons than morningstars are, and plenty of edged and thrusting weapons were orders of magnitude more common and significantly better suited for defeating armor than blunt ones, even at the height of plate armor use in Europe. The only place where blunt weapons were the go-to tool for defeating plate armor was Japan, and that was a combination of (1) powerful, authoritative government, (2) terrible iron ore and ignorance of blast furnaces and related metallurgical processes, and (3) high quality, proofed, imported European steel breastplates. Thus the kanabō, which outside of palaces still would be ‘festooned’ with spikes.

    Amazons are fictional, but even if the legend comes to us from the Greeks, they should not be wearing Greek inspired armor. The Greeks got hot and bothered by accounts of Sarmathian, Scythian, etc. women warriors, and constructed their silly narrative from there. That they had no idea of the role of Scythian women on the battlefield, or of the equipment those women used is amply evident from titillating details like Amazons cutting off their left breast so they could use bows. Of course, we know from the Odysseya that the Greeks considered recurves mysterious and borderline magical, and had no idea of thumb rings, so we have a great example of ignorance breeding bullshit.

    All this to say that the Amazons should be wearing scale over cloth over silk, at the very best, which of course would be much, much better protection that whatever the abominations in both screenshots happen to be… of course, so would be a few cotton T-shirts over a silk one. Or a linothorax, or a gamberson. Of course, none of these would be titillating, so no go.

    But of course, everything is wrong with everything on these two shots. The boob mounds channeling blows to heart and neck, the smooth shoulder armor that is pointless without at least a lower bevor, the non-overlapping plates of leather on the abdomens, the 11th century or later swords, the Gucci hangbag straps on the scabbards etc.

    What I do not understand is the purported superiority of one shot over the other. On the right, fewer abdomens are covered by the silly leather strips, which seem to have been designed on both shots by the same moron. That’s it. I see no other important differences.

    By the way, unless the actors on the right are posing for a picture in the parking lot, the movie(?) setting seems to have modern vehicles, thus probably firearms. With firearms in the equation, the ‘armor’ from the shot on the left becomes much worse than useless.

  5. 5
    Harlequin says:

    I don’t know anything about armor, but according to one costume designer, the inspiration was Roman, not Greek. That article also has some screencaps demonstrating that in Wonder Woman, there were many body types among the Amazons–though I haven’t seen Justice League to compare the Amazons who actually appear in that to know if the same is true there.

    That being said, it’s been pointed out to me that the costumes on the right in that comparison pic do also feature in the WW movie as training outfits, and the Amazons who appear in JL during battle are armored more like the Amazons in the WW movie. There are differences that stick out to me in makeup, posture, facial expressions, etc; but without knowing the provenance of the two pics (promo vs stills from filming or whatever) it’s hard to know how fair a comparison that is. As just an illustration of male gaze vs…not male gaze, I’d point as much to those characteristics as the bare midriffs, though.

  6. 6
    Gracchi says:

    Seriously?,

    Many people consider shields to be personal armor, but lets just agree to disagree on that point.

    I’m not very much into superhero comics, but I believe that the Wonder Woman mythology is that the Amazons were sequestered on an island away from ancient Greece and never developed gunpowder or such. However, they have some magical equipment given to them by the Gods. For example, indestructible bracelets that can deflect automatic gunfire. So upon contact with ‘Patriarch’s World,’ Wonder Woman was used to ancient Grecian warfare, but she adapted to deal with modern weaponry. That last bit is where the mythology obviously becomes super silly, like most superhero stories. So I think we should just ignore that part and judge the armor by the environment for which it was designed, which supposedly is ancient Greece-like.

  7. 7
    Gracchi says:

    Harlequin,

    Based on your link, I found this very interesting page about the scaled roman leather armor that was found.

  8. 8
    Seriously? says:

    I write: On the right, fewer abdomens are covered by the silly leather strips, which seem to have been designed on both shots by the same moron. That’s it.

    You write As just an illustration of male gaze vs…not male gaze, I’d point as much to those characteristics as the bare midriffs, though.

    First, one of the characters in the righthand shot has the exact same leather contraption as the characters on the left. Second, I said as much in my quote, and asked for other examples. Third, now that I have looked, promo shots from the new movie sometimes show many more characters having the fauld-wanna-be, so I guess it was removed to showcase the (unwarrior-like) toned abdominal muscles. My guess is that the woman who kept her ‘fauld’ looked less chiseled, i.e. less starved and dehydrated, and we can’t have that. Fourth, as you mentioned, in combat, the characters from the male-directed movie wear actual armor. Fifth, as far as I can tell, both screenshots show eye makeup, which is a horrible idea in combat, and the postures and expressions depend on the shot.

    So I do not think anyone here has made any decent argument as to one shot being ‘fantastically’ worse than the other. We are comparing two turds, and the only real difference is that they have been shat by persons of different gender.

    ———–

    Oh, and if showing off chiseled abdominal muscles is degrading and sexist, do you explain the dozens of male actors doing so via the female gaze?

  9. 9
    Harlequin says:

    Seriously?, apart from the Greek vs Roman issue, I was not responding to you or refuting you specifically, just musing on the topic in general. But to respond to a couple of your points in that last comment–

    So I do not think anyone here has made any decent argument as to one shot being ‘fantastically’ worse than the other. We are comparing two turds, and the only real difference is that they have been shat by persons of different gender.

    As I said above, posture, facial expressions, and type and amount of makeup are different between the shots. So are hairstyles. For example, on the left, most of the women are standing face-on to the camera, weight equally balanced on both feet; only one of the women on the right is doing the same. The women on the right are all at least looking at the camera, while one has her mouth open in the kind of sexy face models are often asked to do; on the left, the women are ignoring the camera. Some of the women on the right have their hair pulled over their shoulders. The lighting is dimmer and the main source appears not much higher than the women on the right, while it’s overhead and full sun on the left. Etc. Yes, they’re not directly comparable in the sense that they’re not the same kind of shot–but indeed that’s part of the point.

    I can’t do much more except that to say, as a woman who’s been exposed to American advertising my whole life, and as a queer woman, I look at those shots and see, on the left, a shot where I can more easily imagine myself as one of the women, and on the right, a shot where I’m steered to imagine myself as someone observing the women. To me, the difference is very stark. That’s a gut-level thing, though, and obviously not everyone will have the same reaction.

    As to your final question: one, “the male gaze” and “degrading and sexist” are not synonymous; you’re the only one here using or implying the latter terms. Two, this is a little oversimplified, but I think it’s useful anyway. There’s also a great cartoon on the topic that I can’t for the life of me find right now, but I’m sure somebody here will know what I’m talking about…the one with the female cartoonist who draws Spider-Man for a male comics fan?

  10. 10
    Seriously? says:

    I think we have a still from a movie, where the women are in character, and a promotional shot, where the women are posing. The gear from the two movies is indistinguishable from each other, and indeed, some of it is the same props, and all of it is bad.

  11. 11
    desipis says:

    If we’re comparing male gaze to female gaze, I think you have to look at something like this for the female gaze side.

  12. 12
    Ampersand says:

    I saw Justice League, and – iirc, it’s been weeks – it had Amazons fighting in both the skimpy outfits and in the fuller armor. (And yes, the armor in both cases is unrealistic.)

    I don’t think it’s true that the bikini-like outfits were as prominent in the WW movie, and most of the training outfits weren’t designed like that, iirc. Here’s a photo of Gal Gadot in the WW training outfit, for example.

    But – as Harlequin says – it’s about more than the outfit. Here’s a publicity photo of actresses from the WW movie wearing relatively skimpy outfits. But what’s being emphasized is that they look powerful.

    Oh, and if showing off chiseled abdominal muscles is degrading and sexist, do you explain the dozens of male actors doing so via the female gaze?

    As Harlequin pointed out, no one here brought up “degrading and sexist,” apart from you.

    I’ve gotten into this argument a lot with comic book fans over the years, who claim that since both superhero women and superhero men are drawn with extremely idealized bodies and skintight outfits, they’re being treated the same. I don’t know how to argue with this, because although they’re wrong, there’s no way of making someone see or acknowledge obvious aesthetic differences.

    Here, look at these two drawings of Batman. Both of them show him with an idealized body; he’s got a shirt on in the drawing on the left (which is from an actual Batman comic), but it’s far tighter than any real-life shirt would be, the better to show off those abs. The drawing on the right is by Joe Phillips, a gay comic book artist who did the drawing to show how Batman would be drawn if the idea was to show off, not how powerful his body looks, but how sexy his body looks.

    If you can’t see the difference, then I’m not sure what to tell you.

    I don’t think pinup poses and outfits are necessarily degrading or sexist. In the right context, it’s fun and entertaining to look at beautiful bodies. It’s a matter of context and storytelling. The problem with mainstream comic books is that female characters are drawn as pinups FAR more often than male characters, often in stories and situations where that approach goes against both the characterization and the tone of the story. (That’s less true now than it was a decade ago.)

  13. 13
    Harlequin says:

    Here’s a publicity photo of actresses from the WW movie wearing relatively skimpy outfits

    Oh, that’s quite a picture! I believe those are the three women in the front of the “male gaze” picture from the tweet in the roundup, too, and it helped me put my finger on what’s so weird about the “male gaze” picture–they just look so darn uncomfortable.

  14. 14
    Elusis says:

    I’ve gotten into this argument a lot with comic book fans over the years, who claim that since both superhero women and superhero men are drawn with extremely idealized bodies and skintight outfits, they’re being treated the same. I don’t know how to argue with this, because although they’re wrong, there’s no way of making someone see or acknowledge obvious aesthetic differences.

    Because just listening to women when they say things like

    I can’t do much more except that to say, as a woman who’s been exposed to American advertising my whole life, and as a queer woman, I look at those shots and see, on the left, a shot where I can more easily imagine myself as one of the women, and on the right, a shot where I’m steered to imagine myself as someone observing the women. To me, the difference is very stark.

    is not enough. No, we must have historically-based evidence! We must build a case for why we hate the one on the right and not so much the one on the left! We must convince people (read: men) that this feeling is Correct and not Simply Emotion!

  15. 15
    Michael says:

    A while back I complained that feminists demonized people that said they were afraid of hurting women and this reinforced the stigma that people that suffered from anxiety disorders suffered from. Barry said I was exaggerating and Kate said that it was in response to people complaining in spaces that women used to discuss rape and harassment. Well, look at this article:
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2017/12/05/quit-playing-the-fool-guys-youre-hurting-our-reputation/
    It promotes the toxic idea that people that complain about being afraid of hurting women are really predators. “if you have to ask yourselves if you’ve crossed a line, then yes, you have crossed a line”- I don’t want to start on how toxic that philosophy is. And it was in response to people complaining to CBS- hardly a feminist space.

  16. 16
    Kate says:

    There are a lot of people with anxiety and OCD related disorders who are irrationally afraid of accidentally hurting people. My heart goes out to them. I hope they get the treatment they need. But, framing their fears as reasonable does no one any good.

    The passage PZ was reacting to wasn’t about them:

    “Have we gotten to the point now where men can’t say, ‘That’s a nice dress’ or ‘Did you do something with your hair?’” says the veteran sales associate for a Los Angeles company. “The potential problem is you can’t even feel safe saying, ‘Good morning’ anymore.”
    The sexual misconduct allegations that have brought down powerful men in Hollywood, media, politics and business are sending a shiver through the workplace. Men are wondering if it’s still OK to hug a female colleague or ask about her weekend. And some are asking themselves if they ever, perhaps even inadvertently, crossed the line.

    Read more: https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2017/12/05/quit-playing-the-fool-guys-youre-hurting-our-reputation/#ixzz50SevKo1w

    The notion that a man might be accused of sexual harassment for saying “good morning” is patently absurd. This is clearly framed to make accusations of sexual harassment look like hysterical witch hunts.
    The men being brought down by alligations of sexual harassment and assault didn’t simply ask about someone’s hair. They didn’t offer chaste hugs. They grabed at breasts and genitalia. They flashed women, masterbated in front of them and, in some cases, raped them. Men know damn well that those things are wrong.

  17. 17
    desipis says:

    Quote from PZ:

    Also, if you have to ask yourselves if you’ve crossed a line, then yes, you have crossed a line.

    That’s pretty much telling anyone with social anxiety that they are de facto sexual harassers.

  18. 18
    Mandolin says:

    I think our culture in general sucks at finding ways to heal and repair after someone has done something hurtful, accidentally or otherwise. We need more space for expiation. I don’t know whether that’s exclusively a leftist thing, I wouldn’t expect so, but it is in call out derived cultures in which I personally observe its extremity.

  19. 19
    Mandolin says:

    Desipis:

    I agree, he’s wrong on that one. I had the same response to that line when reading the post.

  20. 20
    Charles says:

    I’m curious: what is the acceptable way to express what PZ is expressing? For the vast majority of men, if we are wondering if we crossed a line, that’s because we crossed a line. How do we express that idea to other men without causing harm to the small minority of men who suffer from scrupulosity or the specific forms of social anxiety that relate to fear that you are crossing boundaries?

    The man in the article that PZ was responding to was a long-time salesman talking to news media. I find it highly unlikely that he suffers from scrupulosity. How do we address his dishonest claim without harming others?

  21. 21
    Michael says:

    My major problem with the article was this- the major reason why people suffering from scrupulosity, harm OCD, etc. don’t receive treatment is because they’re afraid that if they tell people about their condition, the people they tell will assume if they’re obsessed with the idea that they might or have hurt someone, then they really are a threat- or they don’t realize that they’re sick and they think they’re really a threat. But feminism sends the message that if you’re overly concerned you might violate the feminist rules, you’re just looking for an excuse to do something wrong. This is a silencing tactic. And I think it’s a false dichotomy to say that people that complain that they might easily get in trouble are either mentally ill or looking to get away with something. For example, according to this study 66 percent of Democratic men had recently reflected on their own behavior or attitudes towards women. Only half as many Republicans had:
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/large-majority-americans-say-there-sexual-harassment-job-n825121
    So does that mean that most Democratic men are sexual harassers or that Democrats are twice as likely to be sexual harassers as Republicans. No, it means that sometimes people worry about doing something wrong when they’ve done nothing wrong.The crucial question is whether the person ACTUALLY does something wrong. The fact that people who do something wrong and then claim that they didn’t know any better are lying does not imply that people that claim that they are worried about doing something wrong that isn’t really wrong are lying and looking to cause trouble.

  22. 22
    Charles says:

    After some off-line discussion and consideration, my proposed pithy version is this: “If you are intentionally crossing lines, we see you.” With the maybe less pithy addition: “Pretending that you are cutting back now because you don’t know where the lines are anymore won’t protect you.”

    The men who do most of the line crossing are the ones who know what they’re doing and are doing it because they want to. We don’t even need to get into the question of worrying about maybe having crossed a line.

  23. 23
    Gracchi says:

    Michael ,

    The logical conclusion is that sexual harassment by men will go down a lot if all Democrats become Republicans. /s

  24. 24
    Buttercupia says:

    Laurie Metcalfe was amazing in the short-lived HBO comedy Getting On. It’s a marvelous series overall and Metcalfe was brilliant, as was Neicy Nash.

  25. 25
    RonF says:

    “Have we gotten to the point now where men can’t say, ‘That’s a nice dress’ or ‘Did you do something with your hair?’” says the veteran sales associate for a Los Angeles company.

    Yes. And where has he been? I haven’t made any comment to any woman in my workplace regarding her appearance in any fashion for a good 20 years. And most guys I know do the same. All it takes is for someone having a bad day to take something you’ve said the wrong way, complain to HR and your career is ruined.

  26. 26
    Kate says:

    For example, according to this study 66 percent of Democratic men had recently reflected on their own behavior or attitudes towards women. Only half as many Republicans had:
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/large-majority-americans-say-there-sexual-harassment-job-n825121
    So does that mean that most Democratic men are sexual harassers or that Democrats are twice as likely to be sexual harassers as Republicans.

    How do you get from “reflected on their own behavior or attitudes towards women” to “are sexual harassers”. That’s one hell of a leap. There are a lot of problematic behaviors and attitudes that don’t constitute harassment.

    It would have been better if PZ had put in something like probably/usually/in most cases somewhere. But, the article that he criticized is far more damaging, both generally and to people who have this type of social anxiety, as it is designed to feed anxiety by presenting totally unreasonable fears as reasonable.

  27. 27
    Jake Squid says:

    All it takes is for someone having a bad day to take something you’ve said the wrong way, complain to HR and your career is ruined.

    I suppose this is true if you have the worst HR department imaginable. I mean, if somebody comes to me for what somebody else said to them, I try to get the situation resolved in a way that everybody understands why that thing was inappropriate or why that the thing was not inappropriate. Everybody should leave with knowledge of how they need to act towards their coworkers going forward. But if there is an ongoing pattern of behavior over a period of time, yeah, somebody is being let go. But once? Because somebody was having a bad day and misinterpreted? That doesn’t happen at any workplace that’s close to reasonable.

    I haven’t made any comment to any woman in my workplace regarding her appearance in any fashion for a good 20 years. And most guys I know do the same.

    Either your experience or my experience is far out of the norm. I’m guessing that it’s your experience that is unusual, but I could be wrong.

  28. 28
    Harlequin says:

    I haven’t made any comment to any woman in my workplace regarding her appearance in any fashion for a good 20 years. And most guys I know do the same.

    Either your experience or my experience is far out of the norm. I’m guessing that it’s your experience that is unusual, but I could be wrong.

    I can think of exactly one time in my career that a man mentioned anything about my appearance. It doesn’t seem to be the norm in my STEM field. People just aren’t that observant about it, either–in grad school I cut a foot off my hair, and the only person who noticed was the secretary. But that is a norm shared by all genders to some degree– not just men being extremely cautious about harassment.

  29. 29
    Jake Squid says:

    It doesn’t seem to be the norm in my STEM field.

    In pretty much every place I’ve ever worked, people make comments about new hairstyles or outfits. Just today a coworker said to me, “Is that a new sweater?” When I said that it wasn’t, she said, “Blue is a good color for you.” I’ve seen this happen weekly or monthly for 3 decades. Granted, I haven’t worked in STEM, but I have worked retail, computer consulting, TPA and food distribution.

  30. 30
    Michael says:

    @Kate#26- I’m not defending the article. If PZ had just criticized the article for presenting the fears as valid, then I’d agree with that. But instead, he argued that anyone that claimed to have such fears was lying. He doesn’t have the right to erase other people’s experiences just to make his argument easier. We agreed earlier that this argument by Captain Awkward was toxic:
    https://captainawkward.com/2013/04/20/476-i-have-anxiety-that-women-will-have-anxiety-about-me-approaching-them/
    In fact it’s a perfect example of why people with similar problems don’t confide in their friends and families- because they’re afraid they’ll react like Captain Awkward did. Yes, I know she apologized. But my point is that the argument she made was the same argument PZ made. The same argument that countless feminists have made.
    Let’s not forget another argument made in the comments of PZ’s article- feminists routinely say that correctly that autism doesn’t cause people to miss social cues to the extent of sexually harassing people. But they NEVER mention that there are disorders that can cause people to be AFRAID that might or might have sexually harassed people. Pardon me if I hold feminists to a higher standard then the demons in horror movies.
    Your argument seems to be that PZ and other feminists like him intended well. But what’s that argument feminists are so fond of making- “Intent isn’t magic”.

  31. 31
    Seriously? says:

    Just today a coworker said to me, “Is that a new sweater?” When I said that it wasn’t, she said, “Blue is a good color for you.”

    I work for an automotive manufacturer. Of the 280+ people in the plant, maybe 50 are women. Of them, there are five with whom I would allow myself to comment on a piece of clothing, and two with whom I would allow myself a comment about something particular suiting her.

    I have know the five for more than 15 years, and I have met them outside work. One of the two is someone whom I used to give piggy back rides when she was five, and the other I hired about twenty years ago, fresh out of high school, to bring my ‘department’ to the grand milestone of Two.

    I would not dare to comment on any other woman’s appearance. I’m a department head only answerable to the owners, and it is a privately owned company. No HR member would seek a fight with me. Still, I think it is looking for trouble… and a bit presumptuous, to boot. Now, it would be completely different if I were flirting, which I theoretically could imagine doing outside of my department, before I was married.

  32. 32
    Kate says:

    Pardon me if I hold feminists to a higher standard then the demons in horror movies.

    Sexual preadators are not “demons in horror movies”. They are all too real. We should be targeting them a lot more then we target feminist intersecionality fails.

    Your argument seems to be that PZ and other feminists like him intended well.

    Don’t put words in my mouth. My arguement is that what PZ said is true 95% of the time. He should have given thought to that other 5% and phrased his criticism differently. Nobody is perfect. “Intent isn’t magic”, but when someone is on the right side of issues 90% of the time, I’m willing to cut them some slack.

    I also question where some commenters here put their focus. How about calling out all the predators apropriating anxiety disorders and autism, and on and on to cover up their crimes? Maybe people would who suffer from anxiety would be less likely to fixate on this particular issue if there weren’t so many articles like the one PZ was criticizing hyping up problems that don’t exist?

  33. 33
    Charles says:

    Kate,

    I agree.

  34. 34
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t have a workplace, per se. But I routinely compliment my work peers (of any sex) when I meet them at cons, if they are wearing neat clothes or have an interesting hairstyle or tattoo or something.

    My rules for compliments are, don’t make compliments lecherous, and compliment only things that people have obviously put some effort or thought into. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a problem. I acted the same way back when I had a real job, and again, never had a problem or a complaint. (I’m confident my boss would have told me if there had been a complaint.)

    Can anyone cite an actual case – documented in a mainstream newspaper article or public record – of anyone being fired or successfully sued for nothing more than “are those new glasses? They look nice” or the equivalent? Something where we have more than the word of the employee in question to go on.

    It may have happened somewhere. Probably has – the law of large numbers and all that. But I’m not persuaded that this is a common problem.

  35. 35
    VK says:

    A friend of mine has a great set of rules for telling the difference between “awkward, possibly autistic” and “creepy as fuck”.

    1) Does the person do it to everyone? (i.e. is this behaviour targeted at women? Bonus point if only attractive or vulnerable women)
    2) Do they change their behaviour when observed? (i.e. is this something that they stop when men are around to see, or when independent witnesses are there)
    3) Do they refuse to change their behaviour when requested?

    If the answer to all of those is yes, the chance of them being “creepy as fuck” is too high to ignore. Particularly worth applying this standard if there is someone who all the women agree is creepy and all the men have no idea what they are talking about.

  36. 36
    Sebastian H says:

    The “does he do it to everybody” thing goes a long way. Joe Biden is clearly WAAAAYYYY more touchy than I comfortable with. Be he’s never seemed creepy to me. (Please universe don’t let me be setting myself up by saying that).

    Kevin Spacey always always struck me as super creepy on the other hand.

    I totally believe rape culture is a thing, and I can see it from a different angle.

    I’m DEFINITELY awkward and probably on the low end of the scale at picking up signals. I’m also 100% homosexual, so I definitely know that I wasn’t staring at your boobs. But I’m tall and have been told I have an imposing voice. I can definitely see women respond in the “protective don’t even think about raping me” pose sometimes in elevators late at night, or when I’m crossing a parking lot near them. It makes me sad because they definitely don’t have to be afraid of me–but they definitely are afraid of what I represent to them. That sucks. (For them, I mean. Having someone scared of me in the parking lot doesn’t suck for me).

  37. 37
    Jameson Quinn says:

    > What PZ said is true 95% of the time.

    What exactly would “95%” mean here? If it’s “95% of the behaviors that are either directly creepy or awkwardly pseudocreepy are direct”, then that may be roughly true. But if it means “95% of the times somebody worries about whether they’re being creepy, they are” then it’s certainly false.

    Quick back-of-the-envelope calculation. Say 30% of men are serial creepers, 80% of men have had a creepy lapse or two, and 5% of men are overscrupulous. (I myself have been in categories 2 and 3, at different times.) The serial creepers behave questionably at least x times as often and the overscrupulous question their behavior at least x times as often, where x>>5. That would mean that >95% of the questionable behavior was indeed creepy, but <50% of the self-questioning about behavior was well-founded. And so PZ’s rule would be unhelpful in over half of the cases where it was applicable.

  38. 38
    RonF says:

    Jake @ 37:

    Either your experience or my experience is far out of the norm. I’m guessing that it’s your experience that is unusual, but I could be wrong.

    I *occasionally* hear women compliment other women on a new hairstyle or article of clothing. I never hear men offer such. And there are women here I’ve been working with for > 15 years and pretty much say anything to (including a black woman who I’ve worked with for 20 years and with whom I have regularly discussed race relations and politics).

    I suppose this is true if you have the worst HR department imaginable.

    It doesn’t have to mean you get fired over the incident. It can mean that you’ll never see a promotion again, or that during the next layoff you’ll end up on the list to go instead of someone else. It could mean that you’ll never get on any planning/strategic group. Now, the fact that I work in STEM and have all my life may be a factor. In fact, ever since I left high school I have spent my class/lab/work time in environments where women have been significantly in the minority.

    Sebastian @ 36:

    I’m also 100% homosexual, so I definitely know that I wasn’t staring at your boobs.

    I was in an opera with 40 cast members. The male half was mostly gay. During a costume fitting incident that actually is a pretty funny story in itself I asked one of the gay guys “What are YOU looking at?” and was immediately assured by the gay guys that “Even gay guys like boobs!”

  39. 39
    RonF says:

    So now Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is resigning after it has become publicized that he discussed surrogacy with a couple of his aides and offered one of them $5 million to actually be a surrogate for him and his wife.

    I’m not clear why he should have to resign. There may be more to it, of course. I can see why such a thing could make his aides uncomfortable, but he didn’t assault anyone or attempt to do so and he didn’t propose having sex with anyone but his wife. He didn’t propose anything illegal. Why – again, on the available information – should he have to resign?

  40. 40
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, from Politico:

    The sources said Franks approached two female staffers about acting as a potential surrogate for him and his wife, who has struggled with fertility issues for years. But the aides were concerned that Franks was asking to have sexual relations with them. It was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization. Franks opposes abortion rights as well as procedures that discard embryos.

    A former staffer also alleged that Franks tried to persuade a female aide that they were in love by having her read an article that described how a person knows they’re in love with someone, the sources said. One woman believed she was the subject of retribution after rebuffing Franks. While she enjoyed access to the congressman before the incident, that access was revoked afterward, she told Republican leaders.

  41. 41
    Sebastian H says:

    Well the reason I mentioned the boobs thing is actually from a particular incident.

    I was studying for finals at law school (the day before the test) and I was really tired. I went to the school 7-11-type store and was trying to get a sugary snack. But I was kinda spacey (more than usual) because I was tired. So while I was looking at the Hostess display (the one that used to have little racks with the packages in it) a young woman yelled at me: “Stop looking at my boobs!” I was startled and I said something like “What?”She said “I saw you looking at my boobs. Stop it, thats not OK”. I was very muddled and confused, so I just blurted out the truth: “I wasn’t staring at your boobs, I was just trying to decide between the Ho-Hos and the Ding-Dongs”. She had that head exploding look and screamed “You Asshole” and then stormed off.

    I didn’t realize till just after that she probably interpreted my response as meaning something like Ta-Tas.

    Anyway, I’m certain that when she tells the story it begins with something like “I was feeling pretty good about myself as a feminist so when this jerk was oggling my boobs I decided to tell him off” and ends with something like “Can you believe he said [sarcasm dripping from her voice] ‘I was trying to eat Ho-Hos'”

    Which is sad for both of us.

  42. 42
    nobody.really says:

    So the Democrats have decided to send to the Senate a Smith and a Jones?

    Hooray for the party of diversity….

  43. 43
    Kate says:

    Democrats didn’t sent Jones to the senate. The African American community in Alabama sent Jones to the senate.
    And Smith is a woman. Women are still underrepresented in the Senate. So, yes Smith is a diversity apointment.

  44. 44
    Charles says:

    If the African American community in Alabama were able to send Jones to the Senate, Clinton would be president. White Alabama Republicans sent Jones to the Senate. About 150k of them crossed over to vote for Jones, and 20k of them showed up to write in not-Moore.

    Really, white Republicans, white Democrats, and black Democrats sent Jones to the Senate. Subtract even a few of those and he would have lost.

  45. 45
    Sebastian H says:

    Heck, the massive nonturnout of Republicans also sent him to the Senate. For which we should all be very grateful as well.

  46. 46
    nobody.really says:

    Heck, the massive nonturnout of Republicans also sent him to the Senate. For which we should all be very grateful as well.

    As a gesture of my gratitude for their restraint, I’m going to refrain from sending them a fruitcake. For which they should all be very grateful.

  47. 47
    RonF says:

    Amp, @40:

    Hah! O.K. That’s different. I figured there had to be more to the story than I had seen. Thanks!

  48. 48
    Sebastian H says:

    That seems very much in the spirit of fairness nobody.really. :)

  49. 49
    nobody.really says:

    Ok, here’s a thread-hijack—except that we’re in an open thread, which seems to preclude the concept. I’ve been loath to bring this up, but it seems cowardly, so here goes: Let’s talk groping.

    My query breaks down into two components.

    1. WHAT’S UP WITH ALL THE GROPING?

    There was a point in my testosterone-addled youth when I found the idea of fondling women quite arousing, regardless of the effect of that groping on the women in question.

    Now, perhaps it’s merely the passage of time that has reduced my libido to its current state. Or perhaps it was the discovery of a substitute erotic obsession: fucking. Either way, I long ago developed a new perspective: Groping is desirable as a prelude to fucking—or, at least, a means of enhancing a woman’s interest in fucking. The idea of groping without the prospect of increasing a woman’s interest in fucking—worse yet, detracting from that interest—has no appeal. And thus we return to my theme, to wit: What’s up with all the groping?

    Some hypotheses:

    A: Maybe many guys earnestly do derive satisfaction from groping women regardless of the propensity to lead to sex, or even desire, on the part of the gropee.

    Perhaps this may relate to a sense of power. But in this regard, I’d expect the behaviors of high-status men—who I suspect have a number of willing potential partners—might differ from men who have NO willing partners. Men without sex partners may regard groping as the best available substitute for sex, and sexual frustration might manifest itself as a will to power. But high-status men would presumably not need such a substitute. Instead, they might have a sense of entitlement; see Hypothesis C, below.

    B: Maybe few guys derive sexual satisfaction from groping women, but the topic is sufficiently explosive as to make the news a lot right now, leading to a distorted sense of frequency. After all, perhaps 1-4% of the US population are sociopaths. Psychopathy would seem to be a useful attribute in deriving sexual satisfaction from other people’s discomfort.

    C: Maybe groping actually does lead to sex, or at least an erotic sense of intimacy, more often than we have yet acknowledged. Maybe groping is a way to break the ice and signal sexual interest. At a minimum, I’d be curious to know if Pick-Up Artists have talked about this.

  50. 50
    nobody.really says:

    2. To what extent can I rely on my own sensibilities when evaluating the news of the day?

    C.S. Lewis disapproved of homosexual sex. But in Surprised by Joy, he concluded that homosexuality received widespread condemnation not because its harms were so great, but because the share of the population who felt the temptation was so small. And for precisely that reason, Lewis felt less inclined to condemn homosexuality, rather than more. ”[T]he sin in question is one of the two (gambling is the other) which I have never been tempted to commit. I will not indulge in futile philippics against enemies I never met in battle.”

    That’s just a high-brow way of introducing the idea that I don’t feel the appeal of groping strangers—and so I have an immediate skepticism about people’s accounts of groping that occur in environments that seem extremely unlikely to lead to sex, or even sexual longing on the part of the gropee.

    For example, while Senator Al Franken was credibly accused of a variety of inappropriate sexual behavior, I found one type of accusation hard to credit: the idea that Franken would go to public events to beg for votes, and then grope people as he’s begging. What mindset would prompt Franken to grope people under such circumstances? Did he imagine that they’d like it? Did lust cause him to forget the purpose for which he had come to the public event in the first place—and the job to which he (and all politicians) dedicates most of his waking hours? Would he do it out of sheer boredom, just to see what would happen? (If you’ve read All Franken: Giant of the Senate, you’ll know that he reported doing a variety of whimsical things during his long campaigns.)

    In contrast to these scenarios, I find it easy to imagine circumstances under which people might perceive that Franken touched them inappropriately. If you’ve ever worked on a campaign, you’ll know that a campaigning politician’s job while campaigning (and these days, they’re ALWAYS campaigning) is to let each constituent he talks to know that the constituent has his undivided attention for that moment—yet to keep that interaction as short as possible in order to give attention to all the OTHER constituents in line. Want a photo? Cool—but not if it’s going to require three or four takes. And in crowed environments, third parties are always walking into the frame. So what do celebrities do under these circumstance? If they can, they’ll try to ooch people in the photo closer together, or shift them away from any incoming photobomber. Bingo: “He grabbed my butt.”

    Of course, this dynamic wouldn’t eliminate the possibility that Franken ALSO groped people in public settings for other reasons, too. But I’m reminded of Richard Feynman’s comments on UFOs:

    [Someone asked,] “Is it impossible that there are flying saucers? Can you prove that it’s impossible?” “No”, I said, “I can’t prove it’s impossible. It’s just very unlikely”. At that he said, “You are very unscientific….” [Instead,] I might have said to him, “Listen, I mean that from my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra terrestrial intelligence.” It is just more likely.

    From my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it is more likely that the reports of politician gropings during photo shoots are the results of the understandable dynamics of campaigning in crowded environments than the inexplicable compulsion to attack someone from whom the politicians is trying to curry favor. It just seems more likely.

    But this puts me squarely in the “I’m not believing the women” camp.

  51. 51
    Ben Lehman says:

    nobody.really

    You’re overthinking this.

    Simpler explanation: Some people enjoy making other people feel uncomfortable or hurt as a raw exercise of power. Full stop.

    –Ben

    P.S. Obligatory note that people who enjoy making other people uncomfortable or hurt are perfectly capable of practicing it with _consenting adult partners_ and choosing not to is, in fact, the problem, not the inclination itself.

  52. 52
    Mookie says:

    Maybe groping actually does lead to sex, or at least an erotic sense of intimacy, more often than we have yet acknowledged. Maybe groping is a way to break the ice and signal sexual interest. At a minimum, I’d be curious to know if Pick-Up Artists have talked about this.

    Are you distinguishing consensual groping from nonconsensual groping here?

  53. 53
    Charles says:

    I think that it is more likely that the reports of politician gropings during photo shoots are the results of the understandable dynamics of campaigning in crowded environments than the inexplicable compulsion to attack someone from whom the politicians is trying to curry favor.

    Most or all of the women who have reported being groped by Franken have been explicitly clear about what the difference between being accidentally groped in the process of being photographed and intentionally groped is like and why what Franken did felt like intentional groping, so you are not just not believing women about sexual assault, but specifically not believing women about their own ability to assess something with which they have experience and you probably don’t.

    If your simplest explanation were the correct explanation, then for every Senator accused by 6 women of intentional groping, you’d see many many more senators accused of intentional groping by a single woman (if women were somehow unable to distinguish between intentional groping and being pulled into a photograph, and if Senators were somehow unable to figure out a way to pull someone into a photograph without it being mistaken for intentional groping, then there should be a random distribution of misinterpreted accidental gropes). I suppose you can make up a further layer of excuses in which Franken is just exceptionally bad at pulling people into photographs without grabing their buttocks and squeezing them, and is an extreme outlier among Senators. Then you have to explain why 6 women have come forward but no men have made accusations against him. Then you have to explain why he is also accused of aggressively kissing multiple people and how that is also just an accidental result of normal senatorial behavior. Etc.

    Then you also have to explain how this explains George H.W. Bush, who intentionally and openly gropes women in photographs and makes jokes about it. Somehow, George H.W. Bush has gotten a complete pass for being a serial groper, despite the fact he has been doing it since the 1980s.

    From the outside, coming up with and believing stupid reasons why Franken isn’t a serial groper seems like obvious motivated reasoning. I think it is most likely that (a) as Ben says, you don’t get why people non-consensually grope other people and (b) you really really want Franken to be innocent (don’t we all?).

  54. 54
    Ampersand says:

    There seems to be an entire class of sexual behaviors that can be roughly described as “getting off on surprising someone who doesn’t consent with a hostile display of sexuality.” Gropers, flashers, flasher/masturbatory (like Louie C.K.), and hostile dick-pic senders all seem to fall into this category. And it’s not about trying to win approval or trying to get laid; kind of the opposite, as far as I can tell.

  55. 55
    desipis says:

    “getting off on surprising someone who doesn’t consent with a hostile display of sexuality.”

    Which may very well be the release of the cognitive dissonance cause by being constantly sexually stimulated by the presence of attractive women while being in a culture that tells them they shouldn’t be.

  56. 56
    Mandolin says:

    Yeah, sex negative culture probably doesn’t help. Along with the telling men they have to get and fuck chicks to be men. It’s going to produce some weird turn-ons through the odd stew of fear and whatever else produces some kinky erotic imaginations.

    Even if we fix some of those factors I doubt control based desire will ever really go away. But it might look different than it does here and now.

    Caveat re fine to enact this with consenting partners.

  57. 57
    Ampersand says:

    Do we really think that our culture tells us men that we shouldn’t be sexually stimulated by the presence of attractive women? That’s not at ALL the message I got from TV, from movies, from novels, or from peers. On the contrary, I feel like our culture tells us men that NOT being sexually interested in attractive women is warped and wrong.

    Unless we’re using different definitions of “sexually stimulated,” I guess.

  58. 58
    desipis says:

    Do we really think that our culture tells us men that we shouldn’t be sexually stimulated by the presence of attractive women?

    In pop culture sure, if anything men are told they ought to be sexually stimulated. Although I would say this is at least partially a case of art imitating (biological) life, rather than the reverse.

    In the work environment the opposite is very much true (which was the context of this discussion). Men are expected to see and treat women as completely nonsexual beings. Meanwhile biology just keeps doing its thing. This creates the cognitive dissonance.

    The desire for a release from this dissonance requires men to either completely suppress their sexuality, which some may be unable to do, or to reject the cultural norms to some extent. This could range from breaking the taboos on sexual topics in the workplace, through to a complete rejection of the norms on consent. It’s not about causing harm or control, rather quite the opposite; it’s an act of liberation from a environment that seeks to repress sexuality.

  59. 59
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Desipis – I more or less agreed with you until your last sentence; rejecting cultural norms in this manner is very much about control. It’s about imposing your will on other people rather than have other people impose your will on them. The men in question aren’t going somewhere private and masturbating to fantasies of their co-workers. They are not seeking out swingers clubs or any other form of liberation from sexual norms that is consensual among the people involved. They are “liberating” themselves by involving unwilling participants, making it very clear to the women involved, if not to themselves, that it’s the men’s desires that matter and not the women’s.

    To give an example from another domain – at work, when at a meeting I often feel very stifled by the cultural norm that requires me to wait my turn and not immediately respond to someone who is talking, even if I think that what they say is irrelevant or wrong. On those (too common) occasions when I choose to interrupt someone, it is liberating. It’s also very much an act of trying to control the conversation, and of letting everyone know that I think my opinion is more important than theirs. Being liberated and being in control often go hand in hand.

  60. 60
    Kate says:

    In the work environment the opposite is very much true (which was the context of this discussion). Men are expected to see and treat women as completely nonsexual beings.

    Not being sexual with someone is not the same as treating them as “completely nonsexual beings”. Part of treating someone as a sexual being is respecting their right to bodily autonomy. Part of treating someone as a sexual being is respecting their relationships.
    Everyplace I’ve ever worked, people talk about their partners. People talk about going on dates. People talk about pregnancies and having children. Suppressing this aspect of their sexuality is one thing that makes being in the closet so difficult for gay people.

    Meanwhile biology just keeps doing its thing. This creates the cognitive dissonance.
    The desire for a release from this dissonance requires men to either completely suppress their sexuality, which some may be unable to do, or to reject the cultural norms to some extent. (my emphais)

    Waiting until you’re off the clock to be sexual with appropriate consenting parnters isn’t “completely supressing” sexuality. In fact, it is a basic requirement of being in the most common type of sexual relationship, monogomous relationships. Even if you’re poly, how many people do you need to be able to express your sexuality with?

  61. 61
    Mandolin says:

    Not being allowed to express sexuality at work isn’t the same as not being allowed to feel aroused at work.

  62. 62
    Ampersand says:

    Desipis

    In the work environment the opposite is very much true (which was the context of this discussion). Men are expected to see and treat women as completely nonsexual beings. Meanwhile biology just keeps doing its thing. This creates the cognitive dissonance.

    The desire for a release from this dissonance requires men to either completely suppress their sexuality, which some may be unable to do, or to reject the cultural norms to some extent. This could range from breaking the taboos on sexual topics in the workplace, through to a complete rejection of the norms on consent. It’s not about causing harm or control, rather quite the opposite; it’s an act of liberation from a environment that seeks to repress sexuality.

    1) This reads as an argument to justify and excuse sexual harassment. (And the same logic could equally be applied to rape.) It sounds as if you’re saying the flashers, gropers, and Louie C.K.s of the world are unfairly being blamed for being “about causing harm or control,” rather than being recognized as libertarian rebels against sexually-repressive environments.

    2) As Kate and Mandolin said, not being sexual with someone, or overtly expressing desire for them, isn’t the same as seeing them as a completely nonsexual being, or not being allowed to feel arousal.

    3) You’re writing as if you’re unaware that women also have sexual desires and feelings, which they are also expected not to express inappropriately at work, on the subway, etc..

    4) Actually, I wasn’t only talking about sexuality in the workplace, in the comment you were responding to. Dick-pics and flashing, for instance, are not things that only happen in the workplace.

    5) Could you clarify: DO you think that sexual harassment is wrong? Is it wrong for a man, frustrated by “the cognitive dissonance cause by being constantly sexually stimulated by the presence of attractive women while being in a culture that tells them they shouldn’t be,” to grab someone’s ass or flash his dick at strangers or co-workers? (Assume no consent.) Do you think that should be a firing offense?

  63. 63
    Sebastian H says:

    In the gay community there is a whole discussion going around about dark-rooms and such. There seems to be a big part of the community that says things like “I go to a dark room for the express purpose of getting groped” and others who suggest that darkrooms are just rape dens.

    I sort of think that a lot of the feminist discussion of sexual activity (at least where I’ve seen it) doesn’t actually cover a vast majority of sexual and sex-adjacent activity. There are whole topics that seem glossed over in the areas of implicit consent, situational consent, non-verbal consent and tacit consent. There seem to be a lot of consensual sexual and erotically charged behaviors that the feminist lexicon is unable or unwilling to deal with. It seems wrong to bring that up when we are talking about actually predatory behaviors, but I always feel super uneasy when the talk about predatory behaviors starts to barrel full speed into the types of non-predatory behavior that (many?) feminists, or at least feminist writers don’t seem to want to talk much about.

  64. 64
    Harlequin says:

    The desire for a release from this dissonance requires men to either completely suppress their sexuality, which some may be unable to do, or to reject the cultural norms to some extent. This could range from breaking the taboos on sexual topics in the workplace, through to a complete rejection of the norms on consent. It’s not about causing harm or control, rather quite the opposite; it’s an act of liberation from a environment that seeks to repress sexuality.

    In addition to what the others have said, I wanted to note a thing you’re taking for granted here, which is that, even if we assume that men are oppressed at work by norms around expressions of sexuality, it’s only to be expected that those men will take out their feelings of oppression on the people they are attracted to–rather than the people enforcing the norms, such as their bosses or the people in HR. That choice of target is not a neutral one, and would bring in bias and power dynamics operating against the victims of harassment at that last step in your chain of reasoning, even if the rest of what you’ve described is accurate.

  65. 65
    Ampersand says:

    It seems wrong to bring that up when we are talking about actually predatory behaviors, but I always feel super uneasy when the talk about predatory behaviors starts to barrel full speed into the types of non-predatory behavior that (many?) feminists, or at least feminist writers don’t seem to want to talk much about.

    Is there a specific example of this discussion, on this thread, doing this?

  66. 66
    Ampersand says:

    That said, as long as a darkroom is understood as a place where people go expecting to be groped without being asked first, etc. – and in fact that’s why they go there – I don’t see any problem with groping there. In such a case, as long as everyone understands, entering the room is a form of consent.

    However, if people are entering the room without understanding that, then that’s a problem. Maybe the club needs to do more to make sure newbies understand how the darkroom works.

  67. 67
    desipis says:

    Ampersand,

    1) I was attempting to describe the subjective, and to a certain extent subconscious, mental states of the individuals involved. I wasn’t trying to provide a comprehensive ethical analysis. Harlequin raises an important point towards the later.

    2) Feeling an emotion (arousal) and not expressing that emotion is bottling things up and isn’t generally considered mentally healthy. And this isn’t about beating around the bush by talking about romance and dates, pregnancies and babies; this is about expressing desires about penises and vaginas, touching and humping.

    3) I was following the general gendered nature of the topic, however I’m not intending to exclude women. In fact I think if you look at the sorts of things women are permitted to do sexually it might be a better starting point for building a (gender neutral) ethical framework that doesn’t start handicapped by the view that male sexuality is inherently harmful and toxic. Sebastian H also makes some good points about the shortcomings of the currently dominate “consent” framework.

    4) Sure, but I’m not sure those circumstances differ substantially in terms of cultural taboos surrounding expressions of male sexuality.

    5) I’m trying to avoid that dichotomy. I’m not sure it’s a good approach to take something as complex and nuanced as this topic is and come up with a set of simple this-good, that-bad type rules. Consider the following three points as an analogy:

    (a) People shouldn’t be subjected to verbal abuse and profanities from their co-workers.

    (b) People who make verbal outbursts and swear at co-workers are horrible monsters who should be fired and socially ostracised.

    (c) Society and workplaces should be tolerant and empathetic when dealing with people with Tourette Syndrome.

    I’m suggesting we find a way to combine points (a) and (c) in a way that doesn’t end up at (b).

  68. 68
    Ampersand says:

    1) When you say “the individuals involved,” it’s clear you only mean perpetrators. But there are individuals involved other than the perpetrators. When you say “It’s not about causing harm or control, rather quite the opposite; it’s an act of liberation from a environment that seeks to repress sexuality,” you’re taking the view of the perpetrators while ignoring the view of their targets, who quite likely do experience it as being about harm and control.

    That aside, even just looking at perpetrators, you paint with too broad a brush. When a man calls out to a woman “hey what’s your number,” and when she shakes her head and walks on follows her whispering “whore bitch fuck you!” at her, would you really say that’s just “an act of liberation from a environment that seeks to repress sexuality,” without elements of hostility or control? That seems dubious.

    Some people – both male and female – clearly get off on power and control. You must know this. Well-behaved people who get off this way, do it through consensual kink. But there’s no logical basis for assuming that getting off on power and control is something found exclusively among well-behaved kinksters, and never among the gropers, flashers, harassers, etc, who operate without consent.

    2) The opposite is true. The ability to feel aroused but not express it, if the situation is appropriate, is perfectly normal behavior among mentally healthy adults. (It’s also perfectly normal behavior among most people with mental disabilities.) Indeed, an actual inability to hold back expressions of arousal, even in inappropriate situations, would be a symptom of a mental health issue. (As I understand it; I’m not a doctor.)

    3) McCarthy’s behavior was gross, and was frequently criticized at the time, at least in the circles I read (example, example). Watching the video, it’s obvious that Bieber was very uncomfortable. Why would that be behavior you’d suggest anyone should use as the basis for an ethical framework?

    Also, I’m pretty sure no one here believes “male sexuality is inherently harmful and toxic.” That’s just a strawman.

    4) Yes. All over society, people are expected to not grope, flash, send obscene selfies, etc., people who don’t consent to that. How is that a bad thing?

    5) It doesn’t require giving up nuance to simply say “sexual harassment is wrong.” (As a comparison, I can say “murder is wrong,” and still believe that in some cases killing someone might be justifiable self-defense.)

    As I understand it, people with Tourette’s are actually incapable of not swearing (if that’s the form their Tourette’s takes). I don’t think there’s any evidence the same is true of typical sexual harassers, gropers, rapists, etc..

    However, let me rephrase my question:

    Should we disapprove morally of a man who, frustrated by “the cognitive dissonance cause by being constantly sexually stimulated by the presence of attractive women while being in a culture that tells them they shouldn’t be,” but who DOESN’T have a Tourette’s-like disorder leaving him incapable of controlling himself, grabs someone’s ass or flashes his dick at strangers or co-workers without consent? Still assuming no Tourette’s-like disorder, do you think that should be a firing offense?

  69. 69
    RonF says:

    Interesting story on the Daily Caller. Anyone else hear about this?

    The inspiration behind the Women’s March on DC, Linda Sarsour, has been accused of enabling the alleged sexual assault and harassment of a woman who worked for the feminist activist, according to the victim and two sources directly familiar with the matter.

    Allegations of groping and unwanted touching were allegedly brought to Sarsour during her time as executive director of the Arab American Association. In response, Sarsour, a self-proclaimed champion of women, attacked the woman bringing the allegations, often threatening and body-shaming her, these sources alleged. The most serious allegations were dismissed, Asmi Fathelbab, the alleged victim told The Daily Caller, because the accused was a “good Muslim” who was “always at the Mosque.”

    More at the link. Reportedly Sarsour has pursued this after the woman left and puts pressure on anyone hiring her to fire her.

  70. 70
    Mandolin says:

    The thing about a Tourette’s like compulsion is it’s not controllable. (Sort of. You can briefly delay it.) If this sort of compulsion were responsible for groping etc behaviors then the people doing it wouldn’t be able to restrict it to only circumstances in which they are unlikely to get in trouble. It would happen in public, around people who have power over them, and they’d do it to bosses and peers as well as subordinates.

  71. 71
    Mandolin says:

    (Anyway, if a medical disorder is responsible for someone violating others’ bodily autonomy, at some point the person has to get treatment or find another method of mitigation.)

  72. Desipis:

    The desire for a release from this dissonance requires men to either completely suppress their sexuality, which some may be unable to do, or to reject the cultural norms to some extent. This could range from breaking the taboos on sexual topics in the workplace, through to a complete rejection of the norms on consent. It’s not about causing harm or control, rather quite the opposite; it’s an act of liberation from a environment that seeks to repress sexuality.

    I confess that I do not understand this, or the reasoning that leads to it, unless what you mean is that male heterosexual desire requires/demands/deserves/choose-your-verb more or less unfettered expression as a matter of the mental health of heterosexual men. As such, it is about as naked a statement of male heterosexual privilege (read: rationalization for sexual harassment, rape, etc.) as I have ever seen.

  73. 73
    Michael says:

    @Sebastian#63- When I hear stories like this I have to wonder- has anyone in the clubs heard of the science fiction story the Cold Equations? It’s famous because the plot involves a woman that ignores a No Trespassing sign on a spaceship having to be shot into space because otherwise there wouldn’t be enough fuel and the ship would crash. It was intended to convey the message that we have to face the consequences of our choices even if we’re ignorant of those consequences. Instead, everybody that read the story wondered “Why doesn’t the sign say “Trespassers will be killed”?” Would it be that hard to put a sign outside the rooms “Don’t enter or you might be groped”?

  74. 74
    Sebastian H says:

    Well it used to be that women wouldn’t enter seedier gay bars, so that wasn’t necessary. But better signage is never the proposed remedy when the horror stories are told. I sort of wonder what people are thinking. The room is loud so you can’t talk. Dark so you can see only a little. The communication is by touch.

    The problem is an interesting one for a minority group. How much do you have to change everything on the concern that someone from a majority group might wander in. You used to have door guards make clear warnings, but now that is highly likely to get you in trouble for discrimination. It is a difficult problem. (You get it even in minorities among minorities. What happens if one group likes a much more touchy oriented atmosphere? Are they allowed to do that?)

    But the problem is well beyond that. An more comprehensive discussion of sexual harassment at the workplace wouldn’t have people suggesting that all appearance based compliments should be off limits. It would acknowledge that some large segment of the female population like workplace compliments on their appearance. Abusers hide behind that fact, but that doesn’t make it less of a fact. What women don’t want is to be made to feel unsafe when receiving such compliments. They don’t want there to be negative consequences if there is a pass hidden in the compliments.

  75. 75
    Mandolin says:

    Yeah, the “absolutely no compliments” thing bugs me. It just stops some very nice guys from giving compliments while having no effect on abusers whatsoever.

    I think signage is a good idea even within an understood minority culture—there’s always someone who failed to get the message. Because people.

    It really, really bugs me that the sexual harassment conversations end up leaving a lot of good men worried about tiny things. I think it may be a necessary consequence of the way the conversation has to unveil, but the sooner we can mitigate it, the better.

    I think oversimplification appears to be … unavoidable? And really irritating. There’s nothing that’s ever going to stop stupid people and extremists from taking any nice, nuanced idea and making it three words which will later be misinterpreted. “Believe women” (should be believe victims) originally meant “believe women to the same extent as you believe men in comparable situations that aren’t about sexual assault.” The reduced version is catchy. And wrong.

    If it helps, I’ve seen this conversation writhe through several communities now. It’s painful, but after a while, it ebbs, leaving a slightly improved situation.

  76. 76
    Mookie says:

    What women don’t want is to be made to feel unsafe when receiving such compliments.

    Also, unappreciated and overlooked but as a pretty bauble*, or at risk of losing out on networking / promotion / project leads because they’re not ornamental enough to attract attention from Powers That Be. After all all, the notion that beautiful people and beauty-compliant* women lack aptitude (either for innate reasons or, following aggrieved anti-feminist logic, because they never ‘had’ to work or study a day in their lives) is a fairly common and enduring sexist trope.

    Pace Mandolin above, I don’t really see why Nice Guys’s worried feelings matter here, need much consideration. Appearance-based compliments unrelated to performance are fraught with pitfalls even if and when they’re not intended to harass or abuse or solicit sexual or romantic attention in return. When women lack institutional power, this is not a “tiny thing” for them, but a question of their professional future and lifetime purchasing power. It — that is, carefully preserving the right for “good men” who are not abusers to impose on their female colleagues and subordinates — creates ripples and unintended consequences. Surely that is obvious.

    No, you can’t socially engineer people into being discreet and polite and professional one-hundred percent of the time, but there’s no reason to pretend anyone would be missing out on much if men, in particular, kept their unsolicited opinions about adjacent female people’s bodies and faces to themselves or at least to a minimum. Giving compliments and sexually signaling interest is pleasurable; does it matter at what cost to the recipient and to bystanders watching, listening, and absorbing the lesson?

    *the standards one is complying with are set in accordance with heteronormative, middle-class white sensibilities in mind, so this intersects broadly with how working-class people and people of color and other marginalized people negotiate the professional sphere and conform to expectations in manner, dress, diction, et al. Social mobility is, at present, gendered and racialized.

  77. 77
    Mandolin says:

    I am a woman. Don’t lecture me on what’s a tiny thing for women. Seriously, don’t.

    I like compliments and as a depressed person sometimes they are the kind of thing that makes a serious difference in how well I’m functioning.

    Just because my experiences aren’t what you weee expecting does not make it okay for you to deny them in this way.

  78. 78
    Mandolin says:

    To be honest, I think you owe me an apology. For lines like “no need to pretend anyone would be missing much.” I’m not fucking pretending.

    I am really triggered from something else right now so I’m sure some percent of my reaction derives from that. But this is really obnoxious.

  79. 79
    Sebastian H says:

    “I don’t really see why Nice Guys’s worried feelings matter here, need much consideration. ”

    Well one potential reason is that with a low enough burden of proof an actually nice person might legitimately worry about situations where he would be alone with a woman, thus not inviting her to work on certain projects that would otherwise enhance her career.

    But I wasn’t talking about him at all. I was talking about the fact that an enormous percentage (I would guess well over 70%) of women (and men) like getting compliments from people they see all the time. Like it or not, lots of us see our workmates more than almost anyone else. Politely complimenting people we hang out with on a very regular basis is big part of how communities function. Abolishing that because abusers can hide behind it is overkill. Abusers hide behind whatever they can, that doesn’t mean that all things that they hide behind have to be erased.

    I kind of think that is the problem with lots of our discourse. We end up getting sucked into anti-bad-behavior instead of promoting good behavior. A sexually abusive ‘compliment’ has a threat behind it. Some women (because they’ve experienced the dangers of such threats) are hyper cautious about compliments because they are afraid of the threat. Some of them may be so wounded by their experiences that they will occasionally see a threat when there really isn’t one. But very few women seem to be against clearly non-threatening compliments.

    In fact one of the especially nasty things about exposure to too many abusers is that it poisons the abuse victims’ perception of lots of the wonderful day to day interactions that non-abusers and non-abuse victims enjoy.

    This also speaks to the burden of proof problem. One of the long term ways that abuse damages people is that (for totally understandable reasons) they become hyper vigilant about potential signs of abuse. This can happen to the point that they see signs of abuse even when they aren’t really there. This fucks them up because they have trouble maintaining relationships even with non-abusers because they can become triggered by normal day to day interactions that their abusers used against them. (This can become a nasty cycle because a lot of abusers are great at picking up on it somehow and then causing them to question themselves).

    We definitely need to attack sexual workplace threats. We definitely need to protect people from abusers who veil such threats in the language that most of use when being nice to each other. But levelling and destroying a bunch of things that regularly bring legitimate and non-destructive joy to people isn’t a good method.

  80. 80
    Michael says:

    @Sebastian#79- Very true. That gets back to what I was saying earlier. Many feminists claim that if a man claims that sexual harassment laws/rape prevention workshops make a man afraid that he might do or have done something wrong, the only reason is that he’s looking for an excuse to do something bad. And I’m sure that some people claim to be afraid in bad faith. But the argument that everyone is saying that in bad faith is objectively wrong. The real reason feminists say that is that they don’t want to argue with people who are making the argument in bad faith- but that’s no excuse for stigmatizing people who are arguing in good faith. Yes,some abusers say that they think sexual harassment rules mean everything is self harassment but that doesn’t mean that everyone that interprets the rules overly broadly is an abuser.
    There’s a similar problem with social workers and mentally ill mothers. People with post partum psychosis have thoughts of harming their babies but people with non violent mental illnesses also sometimes have thoughts of harming their babies. So often people in authority treat any patient who admits they had thoughts of harming their babies like Andrea Yates, which of course makes patients less likely to be honest about their conditions. This is a problem feminists have shown little interest in fixing.
    Basically, the problem with “Hitler Is A Vegetarian” arguments is that most vegetarians are not homicidal. I’m sure some abusers like NCIS- that doesn’t mean everyone that likes NCIS is an abuser.

  81. 81
    Kate says:

    Many feminists claim that if a man claims that sexual harassment laws/rape prevention workshops make a man afraid that he might do or have done something wrong, the only reason is that he’s looking for an excuse to do something bad. And I’m sure that some people claim to be afraid in bad faith. But the argument that everyone is saying that in bad faith is objectively wrong. The real reason feminists say that is that they don’t want to argue with people who are making the argument in bad faith- but that’s no excuse for stigmatizing people who are arguing in good faith.

    This may be part of it. But, there is much more to it. If you are told that roughly 10% of your classmates are likely to be sexually assaulted and your main respose is not to worry about the victims, but to be worried about the minute chance that you could be falsely accused…your priorites are probably out of whack. Expecting your unreasonable fears to be centered by a group trying to deal with a very serious problem with violent crime is selfish. Most colleges have free counseling services. Go to them. It’s not fair to ask some random feminist to give you free counseling.
    It also shows that you probably weren’t really listening to the content of the presentation. Because one thing these workshops tend to do is tell people what they need to do to successfully report sexual harassment. If you were actually listening, you would know that, while it might be easy to commit sexual harassment, it is really, really difficult to hold someone accountable for sexual harassment.
    To sucessfully report sexual harassment, a victim must do two things:
    1.) establish that she clearly told the perpetrator that his behavior was unwanted (preferably with additional witnesses)
    2.) establish that there was a pattern of the offending behavior continuing after the request was made, despite repeated reminders that the behavoir was unwanted (additional witnesses to at least some of the incidents vital)
    Unless someone has asked you repeatedly to stop making inappropriate comments, you are in no serious danger. If someone has asked you repeatedly to stop making such comments and you have continued making those comments, then you actually are harassing them.

  82. 82
    Jake Squid says:

    Seeing that this is an open thread and we’re discussing sexual assault… I just finished being on a jury for a rape & sexual assault trial. The trial itself was horrible and as emotionally heavy as you can imagine. The deliberations were fascinating and I now understand why it’s so, so very hard to get a rape conviction if the perpetrator is not a stranger who used weapons and rope.

    In the end, we got to my preferred outcome but hearing why some jurors were reluctant and had reasonable doubt was very revealing. Nearly everyone on the jury initially bent over backwards to give the defendant the benefit of the doubt. This required ignoring the victim’s testimony while privileging the defendent’s testimony even though we had much more reason to question the veracity of the defendant. This required believing that the defendant was so socially inept that he couldn’t comprehend that stopping saying, “No,” after tens of minutes of saying, “No,”didn’t mean, “Yes.” There was no evidence given that the defendant was outside the normal range of understanding verbal and non-verbal cues, yet this is what was holding up a number of folks.

    According to the logic of some of the jury members, there was no way anybody could ever be convicted of a crime in which the defendant needed to know that there was no consent from the victim. I pointed this out to them.

    So, yeah. Any domestic/friend/acquaintance rape is very difficult to get a jury to convict on. Our socially ingrained biases and difficulty of believing a partner or friend would do such a thing really makes it hard to convict rapists.

  83. 83
    Michael says:

    @Kate#81- so basically you’re calling people selfish for having fears and then wondering why they don’t seek therapy? Uh, you don’t get the way this “stigma prevents treatment” thing works, do you?
    I agree that it’s not fair (or effective) to ask some random feminist to give you counseling. But it’s totally fair to ask feminists not to shame people who complain of such fears. And feminists don’t just limit their shaming to people who complain on feminist websites. They also shame people who complain in neutral venues like newspapers or private venues like their own websites. This is typical of the authoritarianism of the Regressive Left- they don’t want to have a conversation, they want to shame people into silence.
    As for your argument that it’s illogical to be afraid of get accused of sexual harassment- that’s the point of anxiety disorders- you can’t argue them away logically.
    To put it bluntly, feminists have a choice when someone complains about being afraid that they might sexually harass or rape someone. They could try to treat them like monsters or they could explain how children as young as 12, some of them girls, obsess about the fact that they might hurt someone- not just sexually but in other ways as well. They usually choose to hurt someone they think is a jerk over helping children. That choice speaks for itself. The fact that they react to people’s fears that way isn’t because of some grand scheme to better the lives of women. It’s because of their vanity, their self-importance.

  84. 84
    Mookie says:

    Michael, is fear of being falsely accused of sexual harassment, abuse, or assault a disease that needs “treatment?” In turn, is fear of being sexually harassed, abused, or assaulted also a disease? What about fear of being disbelieved? How often do false accusations of any crime happen? How often do assaults happen? How often are they investigated, prosecuted, and punished?

    illogical to be afraid of get accused of sexual harassment- that’s the point of anxiety disorders- you can’t argue them away logically.

    Well, no, therapy often involves trying to recalibrate one’s perceptions and reactions to reduce or at least recognize illogical thinking and behavior. In the meantime, widespread fear-mongering with Schrodinger’s Lying Rape Victim does no one any good, particularly the individual experiencing an unreasonable fear. Fear of being falsely accused of a serious crime is not a unique phenomenon, of course, and is, indeed, common to all humans. As is the fear of being a victim. These aren’t ever going away.

    Yes,some abusers say that they think sexual harassment rules mean everything is self harassment but that doesn’t mean that everyone that interprets the rules overly broadly is an abuser.

    That is true everywhere, everywhen, and about everything; there is always a subset of people who cautiously over-correct. That doesn’t mean the rules that you refer to are flawed. The bulk of all people understand and abide by them fine.

    so basically you’re calling people selfish for having fears and then wondering why they don’t seek therapy? Uh, you don’t get the way this “stigma prevents treatment” thing works, do you?

    Kate didn’t “wonder” about anything. She wasn’t asking a question. She was recommending treatment. Recommending treatment for unhealthy and fantastic thinking is the opposite of “stigmatizing” anything. If you want to argue that the existence of feminism causes people to be unhealthy, you’re going to have to show your work. People have been experiencing, discussing, and reporting sexual violence and formally and informally punishing sexually violent behavior long before feminism was ‘invented.’

    I am a woman. Don’t lecture me on what’s a tiny thing for women. Seriously, don’t.

    Right back at you, Mandolin. If you want compliments of any strength and flavor, you have a tongue and you can ask for them. You do not represent me and you are not the default woman, your desires are not the default desires, and you don’t get to use me as collateral damage in order to get what you want. Don’t generalize all of womankind and then pretend I am erasing you by reminding the thread that benevolent sexism and microaggressions are often deemed “tiny things” of no special importance. Nowhere, of course, did I write that all compliments, in or out of the workplace, ought to be stifled for the good of the cause. Pretending that women can’t discern the difference is ridiculous.

    I think you owe me an apology.

    I have no intention of apologizing to you.

    Sebastian H

    Well one potential reason is that with a low enough burden of proof an actually nice person might legitimately worry about situations where he would be alone with a woman, thus not inviting her to work on certain projects that would otherwise enhance her career.

    Women already self-select out of professional and educational opportunities because of gendered and sexualized hostility, harassment, and abuse. And since “a low enough burden of proof” does not describe reality at present, the point of the Pence Rule is a moot one.

  85. 85
    Ampersand says:

    This is typical of the authoritarianism of the Regressive Left- they don’t want to have a conversation, they want to shame people into silence.

    Thank goodness you’re here to show us what someone wanting to have a conversation looks like. As I’ve told you before, you don’t have any credibility saying that you want “conversation” while treating people who disagree with you with hatred and contempt.

    Seriously, dude, dial it back several dozen notches, please.

  86. 86
    Ampersand says:

    Jake, that’s quite a story. I’m not at all surprised to hear about the jury’s reflexive attitude, but I am disappointed. Maybe you should write up a longer description of your experience?

  87. 87
    Ampersand says:

    Mandolin and Mookie, I hope you can find a way to continue this discussion (if you want to) but de-escalate it a little?

  88. 88
    Mandolin says:

    I am not interested in continuing to converse with Mookie.

  89. 89
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand#85- But it’s OK for Kate to treat people with phobias she considers “selfish” with hatred and contempt?

  90. 90
    Sebastian H says:

    I wonder if some of the reason we are talking past each other on the ‘burden of proof’ for sexual harassment in employment is colored by true experiences that people we personally know have had with companies that dealt with things very differently.

    I used to work in employment law in California (an employee friendly state). I’ve thankfully gotten out of an area of law that makes me want to wring people’s necks but I obtained some practical experience before that. In my experience there are three basic approaches to sexual harassment claims. (Please note this is 2000-2015 experience. The #metoo movement is obviously shaking things up, but not particularly in a ‘measured investigation’ way at present). There is a cover-up/deny approach which repeatedly dismisses the accuser and ends up enabling the abuser. There is a zero tolerance approach which in practice ends up meaning that if you get accused, you get fired. There is a measured approach where things get thoroughly investigated and you get fired if you’ve shown repeated abuse. I’ve seen the first two approaches quite a bit (I’d thumbnail the cover-up approach at about 45% and the zero tolerance approach at about 45%). The well investigated/measured approach would seem to be about 10% of my experience.

    The reason the cover-up approach is so prevalent is pretty obvious. It boils down to the fact that harassment can be pretty common, and often has a local (or larger) culture willing to protect it. (See basically all the clear #metoo cases)

    The reason the “you’re accused you’re out” approach is so prevalent is pretty obvious, especially if a company has gotten burned for having a previous cover up approach. In a state where you can be fired for any legal reason, “being accused of an instance of sexual harassment” is a hassle where if the company investigates but wrongly doesn’t find sexual harassment, they could get slammed for a cover up. So the incentives to not worry good investigation and over-fire are pretty high. This is made a bit complicated by the presence of other protected classes. Firing someone because they are a protected class is not a legal reason to fire someone, so if you are in a protected class your chances of getting a fairer investigation (as someone who is accused) is higher. This plays in to the whole ‘minorities have it easier’ complex, which while clearly untrue holistically, can obviously feel more true if you are low on the totem pole such that you will get zero-tolerance treatment.

    This is made even more complicated because it plays out with HUGE class dimensions. In practice, a company often has an ‘accused and you’re out’ policy for its low level workers, a ‘measured’ approach for some people in the middle, and a ‘cover up’ approach for its executives. (Which is an interesting case of focusing on [usually] race over class. If class were attended to, it would be easier to point out that it is the executives who get the special investigative treatment.)

    So when I hear that a woman was sexually harassed in some awful way and the company covered up, I have no trouble believing that.

    Also, when I hear that someone was fired on the force of a single accusation of behavior which even if true might not strike most people as a fire-able offense, I have no trouble believing that.

    If I hear that both happened at the same company, I used to have trouble believing that, but I don’t any more.

    If I hear that heterosexual male was treated under the zero tolerance method, but a homosexual male was given a fuller investigation, that isn’t surprising either.

    The current set of legal incentives as they intersect with the nastiness of the rape culture make all of the above VERY likely.

    Further, as we start dealing with lower level offenses (things NOT like rape or threatening harassed person’s livelihood if he or she doesn’t give in) the question doesn’t just turn on whether the accuser is lying. As I discussed in comment #79, there are perfectly understandable reasons why some neutral interactions might be interpreted as scary.

    I think that we all want it to skew toward “well investigated”, but currently there is very little incentive for that.

  91. I have been reading through and trying to get a handle on this thread regarding sexual harassment (and assault?) and the predicament of men who are so afraid of doing something that might cross the line into either harassment and/or assault that….and here is where I get lost. I’m not sure if you’ve been talking about men (people?) with diagnosed anxiety disorder; if you’ve been talking about whether or not feminism/feminists have a responsibility to modulate their social analysis/policy proposals/etc. to accommodate men who might have this disorder; if you’ve been talking about the phenomenon in which men complain they can’t say anything to women anymore because “women are just so damned touchy about these issues.”

    I am just confused because it reads to me like these issues are getting conflated, but I can’t quite put my finger on where or how.

    Or am I completely misreading this through the end-of-semester fog I’ve been moving in all morning?

  92. 92
    Mandolin says:

    Richard – to whom are you speaking? Different people have, I think, been discussing different things at different times.

  93. 93
    Ampersand says:

    @Ampersand#85- But it’s OK for Kate to treat people with phobias she considers “selfish” with hatred and contempt?

    Nope, that wouldn’t be okay. But her comment wasn’t dripping with hatred and contempt the way yours was; for the most part, she merely disagreed with you.

  94. 94
    Sebastian H says:

    Richard, “I’m not sure if you’ve been talking about men (people?) with diagnosed anxiety disorder; if you’ve been talking about whether or not feminism/feminists have a responsibility to modulate their social analysis/policy proposals/etc. to accommodate men who might have this disorder; if you’ve been talking about the phenomenon in which men complain they can’t say anything to women anymore because “women are just so damned touchy about these issues.””

    The anxiety disorder thing seems like the flip side of what I discuss in #79. Both men and women have all sorts of things going on, and developing policy as if everyone were perfectly neurotypical seems like a way to set up disaster. Our policies should probably be able to handle many of the most common ways that people aren’t neurotypical.

    The ‘touchy’ thing seems like an uncharitable misread. How about “if you work for a company that you can’t trust to investigate fairly, you may feel that dealings with women are much riskier than dealings with men because some things get misinterpreted, some people lie, and some people lash out in unfortunate ways”. All of these things can happen with both men and women, but at the moment there is an additional risk with women that does not exist with men. A lot of this has to do with where you think you work, and how much you are willing to accept that other people might have harsher workplaces.

  95. 95
    Kate says:

    There is a cover-up/deny approach which repeatedly dismisses the accuser and ends up enabling the abuser. There is a zero tolerance approach which in practice ends up meaning that if you get accused, you get fired. There is a measured approach where things get thoroughly investigated and you get fired if you’ve shown repeated abuse. I’ve seen the first two approaches quite a bit (I’d thumbnail the cover-up approach at about 45% and the zero tolerance approach at about 45%). The well investigated/measured approach would seem to be about 10% of my experience.

    In my experience (granted related to fights in primary school) cover-up/deny and zero tolerance go hand in hand. If your policy is that you must fire people (or suspend them) for minor infractions, no one will want to do that and deal with it. Small violations which could be nipped in the bud grow into more problematic behaviors. Offenders learn that they can get away with more and more….until they are impossible to ignore and then they can’t. People will only actually get fired (or suspended) for minor infractions when the company (or school) want an excuse to get rid of them anyway (low performance/test scores).
    Still, I find it hard to believe that for every person reporting sexual harassment and getting turned away, there is one getting summarily fired based on a single accusation. What sorts of accusations are these? If a single accusation is – “He called me a whore in front of five other people.” and those five people corroberate then…well – is an investigation really needed?
    If a single accusation is “He said he liked my hair while leering at my chest.” That’s a serious problem.

  96. 96
    Kate says:

    Michael – Take into consideraton that people with anxiety, people expressing feminist views and perpetrators of sexual assault are not totally separate groups. They have considerable overlap.

    so basically you’re calling people selfish for having fears

    No, I am calling them selfish for going into discussions about how to prevent sexual assault and harassment and trying to make the conversation all about them and their unreasonable fears.

    You don’t get the way this “stigma prevents treatment” thing works, do you?

    Yes, actually, I do. That doesn’t change the fact that treatment is the only effective remedy.

    I also agree with most of Mookie’s response @ 84, particularly

    widespread fear-mongering with Schrodinger’s Lying Rape Victim does no one any good, particularly the individual experiencing an unreasonable fear.

    And, as I said @32

    I also question where some commenters here put their focus. How about calling out all the predators apropriating anxiety disorders and autism, and on and on to cover up their crimes? Maybe people would who suffer from anxiety would be less likely to fixate on this particular issue if there weren’t so many articles like the one PZ was criticizing hyping up problems that don’t exist?

  97. Mandolin,

    Different people have, I think, been discussing different things at different times.

    I guess that’s why I am confused. I’m having a very hard time parsing which conversation is going on where.

  98. 98
    Sebastian H says:

    “Still, I find it hard to believe that for every person reporting sexual harassment and getting turned away, there is one getting summarily fired based on a single accusation. ”

    That’s not quite it. If a company has a culture of covering up, a single harasser can cause problems for dozens or given enough time even hundreds of people. So for each 50 people reporting and getting turned away, there might be one person summarily fired on a single (weak) accusation. But in terms of number of harassers compared to number of people inappropriately fired, I wouldn’t be shocked if it were something like 2:1 or 3:1.

    I think that kind of factual pattern might drive the differences in perception as well. If the bad actors are also repeat actors (and I think they are) you might have ratios of probably true accusations to probably invalid accusations of like 10:1 or 20:1. (Correctly reflecting the idea that false/incorrect accusations may be in the 3-8% range). BUT it could simultaneously be true that the people you know who have BEEN ACCUSED might have a true/false ratio more like 2:1 or 3:1. So the men who say things like “In my time here I’ve see 2 (or 3) guys accused and I’m SURE that one of them shouldn’t have been fired with what he did” aren’t just deluding themselves in the service of patriarchy, or insensitive to what should be a firing offense, or whatever. They could be completely right under the exact same assumptions.

  99. 99
    lauren says:

    There is a lot to parse in this discussion, but one thing I would like to point out:
    Based on the statistics I know, men are a lot more likely to be sexually assaulted than the are to be falsly accused of sexual assault.
    Now, I am he last person to normaly go “what about the mens”, but I think this is a pretty clear case of “the patriarchy hurts men too”. The public discussion being so often focused on men afraid of false accusations has to be especilly painfll fpr men who were victims of sexual assault.

  100. 100
    lauren says:

    Regarding people with anxiety disorders who get obsessed with fears of false accusationts or accidentaly saying something wrong to women:

    As far as I know, the way to eal with anxiety disorders is not to treat the anxiety as completely reasonable. If someone tells you they have to check that they turned of the stove 20 times before leaving the house, the best way to respond is not to tell them about the dangers of housefires or deamnd that stoves be built with remote monitoring so anxious people can check they are turned of from wherever theyare. Why should this particular fear be different? Why should a fear of false accusations be met with measures to protect people from supposed false accusations (at the expence of victims) instead of pointing out that the fear is unreasonable?

    Also, while I don’t believe that people have to disclose mental illnesses, women talking about sexual assault and harassment are met with so many “but what about false accusationts/ what if I no longer can say anything to women” from people who are onlytrying to shut down the discussion, I don’t think they can be expected to magically know when someone is saying these things because of an anxiety disorder. And really, what are they supposed to do about it? Anxiety disorders are not rational. And the place to deal with them realy is therapy, not a victims rigts movement.

    That’s not me being callous about anxiety disorders. Why should this particualr anxiety be treated diferently from all other ones? Do we tell people talking about the spread of germs in hospitals to accept a certaain amount of it because otherwise their advocacy might trigger people who have anxiety disorders that force them to clean their hands thirty times a day? Do we tell architects to stop building skyscrapers because some peole have debilitating fears of hights? No. And that doesn’t mean the needs of neuroatypical people shoudn’t be taken into account. But taking them into account in this case means getting them Help dealing with irrational fears and lobbying for a socity that allows for time to do so (and alows them to practice whatever self-soothing measures they need without judgement), not changing the way we do things to pretend that those anxieties are reasonable.

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