miss_s_b: (Politics: Post Feminism)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
This week's episode contains an interesting piece by Pete Hague. In it, among many other things, he claims that the idea of Schroedinger's Rapist is inherently irrational. I have made a little (deliberately non-gendered and non-sexual) consequences graphic with which to illustrate the point that I think he is wrong:

As you can see from the graphic, the consequences of treating an unknown stranger with caution (the stranger might get a bit miffed) are far less disastrous than the possible, even though far less likely, consequences of NOT treating an unknown stranger with caution. It doesn't matter that the stranger being an attacker is markedly less likely than them not being an attacker; the consequences of non-caution are overwhelmingly worse. It's like the climate change thing: if the science is wrong about climate change and we still modify our behaviour, all we have lost is a little inconvenience and we've probably saved a bit of money through using less resources. But if the deniers are wrong and we don't modify our behaviour, the consequences are far, far worse.

Obviously the graphic can be tempered by various specific circumstances.

If you're in a crowded public space, in daylight, with plenty of escape routes and plenty of people to help if something should happen, a physically weak person is less likely to feel threatened. In a confined space, with uncertain escape routes, at 4am, when you have already announced that you are going to bed because you feel tired? I think it's perfectly rational to be a little creeped out, and to treat an unknown person with caution.

To do so is not an attack on the sovereign right of all men to be trusted unless they have proved that they are evil by attacking you; it is simple, rational, modification of one's behaviour to minimise risk. Treating all people who appear physically stronger than you with caution is not irrational at all; to claim that it is is to say that a stronger person's right to avoid being miffed is more important than a weaker person's right to protect themselves from attack. Now, if Pete can tell us that he has never (for example) changed his route to avoid being caught up in a EDL march or felt physically threatened in some other way and thus modified his behaviour then I will buy that he genuinely doesn't understand that sometimes it can be rational to change one's behaviour towards another person dependent on the possible consequences of that behaviour.

Otherwise, I'm afraid I am going to have to continue to think of him as willfully misunderstanding in order to attack feminists, which he pronounces to rhyme with scum at several points during his piece.

As to the rest of Pete's flimsy arguments and straw men... Well, I fully intended to do a line by line rebuttal of his piece today, for which purpose he kindly sent me a transcript, but I'm not going to have time before work. Somebody else has made a pretty good start for me, here, though. And Pete might pay attention to that person, since he's a man.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 09:26 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Your graph fails to take into account the relative probabilities of each square, but nice try. Changing your behavior in response to threats only makes sense in proportion to how likely the threats are, unless you are going to become a paranoid shut-in.

Both you (and that rather pathetic blog post you link to) have taken the position that because I interpret the statements of feminists in a way you do not like, I am "willfully misunderstanding" or have no ability to comprehend language, rather than acknowledging that the way I have read these statements is valid and maybe those feminists should've chosen their words more carefully to avoid that intepretation. Oh, and you both accuse me of lying (by implying that it was my intention to attack feminism all along and I didn't have a genuine desire to get on with feminists, despite me claiming that). If you are just going to straight up call me a liar, you have forfeited any possible high ground and given up on rational debate.

I am only addressing this because you are on the Pod Delusion next week and I thought I would preempt some of your worse arguments. That other blogger, whose point of view is basically "he disagrees with me therefore wrong", is beneath my dignity to address.

Pete Hague

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 09:43 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
You have dignity? Jeez, you've done well at hiding that.

After listening to you on Pod Delusion and reading your response above, I can't help feeling that subtext is rapidly becoming text here.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 10:13 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] gwenhwyfaer
"If you are just going to straight up call me a liar, you have forfeited any possible high ground and given up on rational debate."

Where the FLYING FUCK do you get THAT idea from?! If the only logical conclusion to be derived from a conflict between someone's stated intentions and their consequent actions or statements is that one or the other must be false, it's perfectly acceptable - nay, necessary - to call their honesty into question! It's not an ad hominem attack if it's justified by the evidence. And those who would seek to label it as such have, in my experience, generally had a particular reason for doing so.

My take on this is slightly different. A not inconsiderable number of men, having been bullied for substantial chunks of their lives and strongly believing that they are actually in the "physically weak person" category shown above, get their arse right in their hands about being presumed to be in the "physically strong person" category by someone who has no idea whatsoever about their personal history. Which is, as a second's thought will tell you, a bit stupid. And oddly enough, an alarming number of these men pop up online - and especially charmingly, bring out all the scary aggression they're frustrated from (or would never dream of) showing in real life to bear in a forum with no physical consequences. And then get upset when it's pointed out that they're making it a hostile environment for women... which is, of course, equally brick-headed.

And then, some people are just pigs.

Oh, by the way, Pete? What you just did here is generally called "mansplaining". Stop it. It makes you look like a clueless fuckwit.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'll be the one who tells you the contents of my own mind, thankyou very much. I said "I would like to support feminism but..." and meant exactly that. I will not be accused of lying.

You also appear to be psychoanalyzing me in the second paragraph. But of course, you know nothing about me, so this is just a cheap shot. As is 'mansplaining' - basically a derogatory term for a man having an opinion that contradicts feminist dogma, as far as I can tell.

If this is the level of discourse that is normal for feminists, then it appears my complaints were well observed.

Pete Hague

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 01:37 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
I would say 'res ipse loquitur', but I suspect you wouldn't get it.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
ginasketch: (feathers)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
Your first mistake is making this all about you.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
daweaver:   (Default)
From: [personal profile] daweaver
It was written,

I'll be the one who tells you the contents of my own mind, thankyou very much.

This is absolutely correct, it is how it should be, everyone has the right to speak the contents of their mind. A logical extension of this is to refrain from speaking on behalf of other people, because outsiders cannot know others' thought processes, experiences, and risk assessments.

For my part, I believe it polite to assume other people see me as a threat unless and until they have evidence to the contrary. That is a decision for them to make, and that I should not influence.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] gwenhwyfaer
"I'll be the one who tells you the contents of my own mind, thankyou very much."

Sweetie, on the evidence I've seen I would not dare to presume that your mind even has contents, let alone what they might be.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
I have to say, on a serious note, the whole business about seeing yourself as a physically weak person rings a lot of bells. I don't feel physically threatening, but I'm six foot five and not lightly built. But I don't feel like that. I feel the same as I did when I was twelve or so. I just have to bear in mind that I look like a damn great lump and I need to act accordingly and bear in mind how I come across to other people.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
telegramsam: John Byers Disapproves (Disapproving Byers)
From: [personal profile] telegramsam
I don't see the word "liar" anywhere in Jennie's post. Actually, I don't see half of what you seem to in her post. You seem to think it was a personal attack, and I just don't see anything in there that is an attack on YOU, just your previous STATEMENTS.

Good grief....

Date: Sunday, July 10th, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scarier.wordpress.com

I'm sorry, but having just listened back to your Pod Delusion piece, on quite a few points you genuinely don't seem to "get it". Schrodinger's Rapist doesn't deny the agency of the potential attacker, it simply recognises that the potential victim has no reliable insight into their intentions. In this sense, the quantum metaphor is rather apt: nobody objects to discussions about rape statistics in the context of an overall population (what we might call the "thermodynamic" approach), but when we get down to the question of what a single member of that overall population might or might not be (the quantum level), it suddenly becomes psychologically rather different. I appreciate that, but it's still a rational approach, and it has nothing to do with denying the agency of the person/potential rapist in question.

Similarly, I have to agree with others that citing rape statistics which suggest it is a minority of men who have committed rape in a given year is not any kind of disproof of the statement that "men still have no idea what no means most of the time". Having an unclear sense of boundaries and what is or isn't consent is not the same thing as actually committing an act of rape, and it was the former which I think the SlutWalk movement was trying to prompt people to consider. I will agree, however, that that statement was rather a sweeping generalisation, and seems a bit of a snub to those who have made the effort to think carefully about the issue (the get-out clause "most of the time" isn't really clear whether it means that some people are better than others, or that everyone is equally bad but they have good days and bad days).

Your final set of advice to "feminists" to engage in rational debate, stop calling men rapists, etc., is especially patronising and bizarre, taking some of the most unhelpful behaviour displayed by anyone who self-describes as a feminist and tarring the whole diverse field of feminist thought with the same brush, in rather a similar way that you object to all men being tarred with the "rapist" brush. Surely you must be aware that there are, in fact, quite a number of feminists who do indeed engage in rational discussion, and who do not take the position that all men are rapists.

Also, in the above comment, you accuse Jennie of ignoring the relative likelihoods of the four possible outcomes in her diagram, despite the fact that she immediately acknowledges this as an issue right under the diagram in her OP.

What I will agree with you about is that too often the term "mansplaining" is used as a silencing mechanism specifically directed towards men who try to engage in discussions about feminism. It is, I suppose, a legitimate position to say that male privilege is such that men simply can't contribute meaningfully to discussions of feminist issues, but as a liberal feminist it is not my position. I think you deserve to be dismissed not for "mansplaining", but simply for talking bollocks.

Date: Sunday, July 10th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angryyoungalex.blogspot.com
Pete: "Your graph fails to take into account the relative probabilities of each square, but nice try."

Miss SB: "As you can see from the graphic, the consequences of treating an unknown stranger with caution (the stranger might get a bit miffed) are far less disastrous than the possible, even though far less likely, consequences of NOT treating an unknown stranger with caution."

What was that you were saying about ability to comprehend language? But nice try.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 12:30 pm (UTC)
haggis: (Default)
From: [personal profile] haggis
I genuinely don't understand why people have a problem with the concept of Schrodinger's Rapist. Isn't it just doing exactly what we're supposed to do in all that advice about rape? Oh, I forgot, considering our own safety is only acceptable if it doesn't interfere with a man's chance of getting laid.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
telegramsam: (lilbrudder)
From: [personal profile] telegramsam
We just can't win, can we?

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
ginasketch: (feathers)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
No. If we change our behaviour to avoid potential rape we're standoffish bitches. If we stop worrying and rape does happen then "it was all our fault for not being more careful."

You're right. We can't win.

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
telegramsam: Walter hates you. (wallyhate)
From: [personal profile] telegramsam
I think I'm okay with being a "standoffish bitch" actually...

Date: Saturday, July 9th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
ginasketch: (lady skellie)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
Me too.

Date: Sunday, July 10th, 2011 12:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scarier.wordpress.com
People don't like Schrodinger's Rapist because it casts many of them, essentially, as "rapist until proven otherwise", and that's not a particularly pleasant way to feel that others see you.

However, I do appreciate the difficulty here, I'm not sure what a better solution is, so I'm not going to criticise people for using it as a concept.

Date: Sunday, July 10th, 2011 12:45 pm (UTC)
haggis: (Default)
From: [personal profile] haggis
But the way to deal with this is quite straightforward.

1) Consider your location - is the person you are talking to likely to feel trapped or physically intimidated if you start chatting them up here and now?
2) Consider the person's body language and responses - do they seem happy to chat, do they seem interested in the conversation or reply in short phrases and turn away?
3) Respect their boundaries and be willing to back off if necessary.

And voila, you've already demonstrated that you respect my boundaries and consider me a person, not a means to an end. The likelihood that I will assume you are a rapist has dropped dramatically.

Date: Sunday, July 10th, 2011 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scarier.wordpress.com
Indeed. I don't really disagree with any of that. Like I said, I understand why this is a rational framework for risk management, I was just responding to the (possibly rhetorical) question in your comment; I do think Schrodinger's Rapist is a reasonable way of thinking, but I don't think it requires much effort to understand why people don't like it, or might wish there was a better way to approach these issues.

Date: Sunday, July 10th, 2011 01:22 pm (UTC)
haggis: (Default)
From: [personal profile] haggis
I think it's a bit recursive - I am more wary of people who take great offence at the Schrodinger's Rapist concept.

If someone doesn't believe I have the right to be wary of strangers approaching me in public and who expects me to protect their feelings before protecting my own safety (going back to the diagram at the top of the page), I am more likely to be suspicious of them because they are already demonstrating that their desires are more important than my boundaries.

And to be clear, this is wariness, not immediate assumption of guilt. If someone backs off when I show I'm not interested then we can both go on with our day quite happily.

Date: Sunday, July 10th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angryyoungalex.blogspot.com
"considering our own safety is only acceptable if it doesn't interfere with a man's chance of getting laid."

It doesn't. Schrödinger's Rapist is a handy guide for men to recognise when we're interfering with our own chances of getting laid. The poster is taking an awful lot of flak just for quietly mentioning that someone's gun is cocked and pointed at their own foot.

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