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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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76 Responses

  1. Florence
    Florence February 28, 2011 at 11:42 am |

    As someone who has never paid much attention to James Franco, I’m curious: Is he always this much of a freakbag?

  2. Hugo
    Hugo February 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm |

    I disagree with you that the porthole was too large. But what do I know? I’m still heartsick that my favorite red carpet gal and ueber-crush, Tilda Swinton, wasn’t at the Oscars this year.

    The Molly Lambert piece is superb, and I’m distributing it widely. I’m only sorry that because it is so lengthy, some folks won’t read it all the way through — it’s the post of the year so far in the blogosphere, I think, or at least it’s near the top.

  3. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie February 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm |

    Re: Molly Lambert’s piece: constantly referring to women as “girls”? Saying “girls” can sometimes be “cunty” to other “girls”? Saying “there are no gender quotas?”

    And this is an example of “everything she says it totally right.”

    Re: facebook – my guess is, people post photos and comments of their families because that is just what their lives are like. Most people’s lives are pretty mundane. That you think said posts are all about making single, childfree people “jealous” is quite a leap.

  4. Theresa
    Theresa February 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm |

    “Get a hobby / job, you guys.”

    Who, the people in Park Slope who are obsessed with Park Slope, or the people who don’t live in Park Slope who are obsessed with Park Slope?

  5. William
    William February 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm |

    Who, the people in Park Slope who are obsessed with Park Slope, or the people who don’t live in Park Slope who are obsessed with Park Slope?

    Ok, I’ll ask: what the fuck is Park Slope? Is this one of those hip New York things I never get?

  6. Women's Voices for Change
    Women's Voices for Change February 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm |

    Cate Blanchett is always so elegant and such a class act – but at the WVFC liveblog, there was definitely agreement that it was just a little odd.

  7. marchioness
    marchioness February 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm |

    Re: McD’s oatmeal. Definitely go after McD’s for their misleading advertising, like, what’s new? (What the hell is “wholesome” about a bunch of overpriced refined sugar? And people should know what they’re eating! WHAT IF YOU’RE DIABETIC) But saying that the oatmeal isn’t “healthy” doesn’t really mean much. “Healthy” is whatever is best for your body and is different for everyone. Plus, the eating-sugar-leads-to-heart-disease-leads-to-your-untimely-death isn’t a given.

    I am not defending McDonald’s – BLECH – I’m just saying that when foods are labeled good choices or bad choices (“healthy oats” vs. “an artery-clogging sugary mess”) they inherit a moral quality that doesn’t belong anywhere near food.

  8. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie February 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm |

    I’m not sure sugar clogs your arteries – it can wreak havoc on your pancreas, if you are insulin-resistant.

    Re: FB: You said, there is an assumption, I think, that when you hit a certain age (late 20s / early 30s) and you’re still single, you must look at pictures of your friends with their babies and their families and feel envious. I incorrectly read “must” as “HAVE TO” as in “WE PEOPLE WITH CHILDREN REQUIRE YOU TO” (aka “must”) I now see how you meant “must.” I apologize for my error. I can see how my comment must have given you the WTFs. Kinda funny, IMO.

  9. Lori
    Lori February 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm |

    I’m so glad you posted the link to the NY Times article and the Voice article, b/c I’d read both and was thinking they were very good. I agree with your dress choices, though I have to say, it’s the best Nat looked this awards season. (Though I must confess, I loved her in Black Swan, I think the cutesy awards acceptance speeches talking about her creating a life, blah blah, and her fiancee are becoming a bit much. I give them a year together, tops.) Anyway, I’m rambling. Just giving you kudos to your links today and your fashion criticisms.

  10. Andrea
    Andrea February 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm |

    Re the Park Slope article. Let’s talk instead about how the woman’s dog with the cone was probably really cute/funny. I mean, what is cutter or funnier than a puppy with a cone on? Mine is wearing one right now, and she looks very pathetic. I think that discussion is at least worth having as much as which side of the sidewalk to stand on.

  11. Erica
    Erica February 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm |

    Re: the facebook piece, I’d be pretty annoyed if a mother (or any other person, really) described my life as “depressing” or “sad” because I don’t have any kids. I get the idea of shooting down stereotypes about the yearn-y childless career woman, but I think it’s counterproductive and terribly inappropriate to shoot down other women’s choices in order to do it. That article really left a bad taste in my mouth.

  12. Lori
    Lori February 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    I’m not sure I’m allowed to do this here, but I’m pasting a link to a comment on Salon about Nat’s acceptance speech. I was relieved to know that someone other than me was irritated or at least struck by Natalie’s comment about how her fiance had given her her “greatest role” (i.e. impregnating her). I’m a mother and love my children, but you’re there accepting your Academy Award and you have to comment about how motherhood will be your greatest role? Ugh. http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/oscars/index.html?story=/ent/tv/feature/2011/02/28/natalie_portman_most_important_role

  13. thewhatfor
    thewhatfor February 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm |

    Yeah, that facebook article was the smuggest thing I’ve read all week.

  14. For Kids Sake
    For Kids Sake February 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    I love Monday reads! Thank you for taking the time to find articles that I would never find. They are all fantastic!

  15. Alison
    Alison February 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    Lori: I’m not sure I’m allowed to do this here, but I’m pasting a link to a comment on Salon about Nat’s acceptance speech.I was relieved to know that someone other than me was irritated or at least struck by Natalie’s comment about how her fiance had given her her “greatest role” (i.e. impregnating her).I’m a mother and love my children, but you’re there accepting your Academy Award andyou have to comment about how motherhood will beyour greatest role?Ugh.http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/oscars/index.html?story=/ent/tv/feature/2011/02/28/natalie_portman_most_important_role  

    Hmm…well, I am childfree by choice and have no desire to be a mom…but I might find it a bit odd if a woman thought winning an award for a movie was more important than becoming a mother. I mean, believe me – I *hate* the notion that being a mom is the ultimate goal for all women and that it’s put out there as the most important thing we can or will ever do…but at the same time, motherhood/parenting *is* a very big and important job, and I do kind of see it as meaning more than winning an award for acting.

  16. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni February 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm |

    It’s weird how different McD food here in the UK is, compared to the American stuff. The breakfast porridge here is rolled oats and milk, with the only extra ingredient being a stabiliser (lecithin).

    All the ingredients are sourced from suppliers accredited by the Farm Assurance Scheme.
    The burgers are made of (shock) beef, and the dairy products are made mostly from milk and cream. They only use forequarter and flank meat from cows in beef products.

    I’d be curious as to what the difference is in the taste/quality.

  17. Natalia
    Natalia February 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm |

    OMIGOD, I FUCKING HATED THAT FACEBOOK PIECE. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATED IT.

    (What I meant was – I hated it. In case I’m being unclear.)

    Also, Javier Bardem should just win all awards, indiscriminately. Oscar, Pulitzer, Nobel Prize in Physics, the Ohio Mr. Football Award, etc. It would save everyone time and money.

  18. Lori
    Lori February 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm |

    Alison, I completely agree that an Academy Award win might not be nearly as important as becoming a mother. I was merely making the point that her constant commenting about the creation of life, becoming a mother these days is just perpetuating the idea that the ultimate goal/accomplishment for all women is becoming a mother. Maybe I’m a little jaded at this point about Natalie and her relationship. It seems so forced, that’s all.

  19. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm |

    @Paraxeni,

    You brits with your healthy food choices, quality healthy care and locally sourced coops…one would think you care about quality of life… :)

    In short, food tastes like salt and rubbish but mainly salt at McD.

  20. Jadey
    Jadey February 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm |

    I don’t understand why the even bother with designer names for the men’s pictures. All the tuxes look the same. THE SAME.

    I hate when men won’t let me split the bill on the first date. If I have any doubts about whether there will be a second date, this always makes the answer crystal clear. The last guy even argued with me, even though I had ordered lunch and he hadn’t, and I thereby accounted for 80% of the bill. I don’t know if there is a polite way of dealing with that – next time I will just stare at the guy until he feels uncomfortable.

    /shallow comment

  21. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    @ Jadey,

    Back in the ye olden days I insisted…and the insisting was itself a “test” of sorts. Graceful acquiesence equals second date…having a cow when you control is challenged equals no second date. A good friend who is presently dating always picks up the first check herself by going to the restroom and resolving the check before it comes. When they are ready to leave she breezily says “Oh I saw the server on my way back and took care of it while I was answering a page (she’s a doctor). You can pick it up next time.” YMMV, but I thought it was rather clever of her.

  22. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni February 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm |

    @kristen – don’t worry, our new govt. wants to model the NHS on the US system from now on, because it’s working so well for you guys!

  23. latinist
    latinist February 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm |

    I’m so glad that people are pointing out how much the results of that strangers-offering-sex study has to do with fears of violence. Because I’ve always found that study bizarre: I’m a straight dude, but if a strange woman accosts me and says “let’s go to a private place because I implausibly want to have sex with you,” I am going to assume that that woman is probably a serial killer. Right? But maybe this is because I grew up in NYC in the 80s, with very strong don’t-talk-to-stranger education; I bet you could break the results down by where people are from and get some interesting results.

  24. Sam
    Sam February 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm |

    Jill,

    this –

    “Perhaps consider that women may want sex just as much, but have spent their entire lives hearing about how sex with strangers is a terrible, dangerous idea, leading to the (probably correct) understanding that the only kind of men who would approach you in broad daylight offering sex are men who are either serial killers or sex offenders or at least total fucking creeps?”

    so what’s your point here? If the only men asking are men women aren’t interested in while all men asked are interested in the women asking, how is the story about men wanting sex more than women not correct? It doesn’t necessarily answer the question whether men have an innately higher sex drive (although other studies also point in that direction, but that’s a different story), but it certainly shows that in *this* world, female sexuality is scarcer than male sexuality. And that it, accordingly, has a price that women can and will charge in various currencies, only one of which is male sexuality. And only few men will be able to *only* offer male sexuality in return for female sexuality – particularly since women will need proof that those who don’t offer it aren’t “total creeps who would approach you”. It is slightly strange how your point about the stereotypical lack of female sex drive is an argument that totally depends on the stereptype that you’re employing – the “probably correct” assumption that men who are be up front and open about their desires and sexuality are creepy.

    Why aren’t women who walk up to men offering sex considered creepy? Seriously, why? Because a guy’s touch is considered less valuable than a woman’s touch unless the value of the respective touches is equalised by an intervening transcending variable, like love (or a functional variable, like marriage).

    I do believe that women and men are pleasure compatible, but you can’t fight a stereotype that’s based on another, without addressing the bottom one first, or at least at the same time.

  25. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar February 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm |

    Sam, you’ve asked a question that assumes a factual predicate:

    “Why aren’t women who walk up to men offering sex considered creepy?”

    what is your evidence that a woman walking up to a man wanting sex are not considered creepy? Are you evaluating the reactions that actually transpire when it happens in your presence, or something you saw in pop culture, or just reasoning from a construct in your mind?

    If it happens so rarely that there isn’t a discourse around it then I don’t think it’s accurate to say that it isn’t considered creepy. If it does happen with enough frequency to be discussed, it is possible that the idea that “creepy” conveys re men is captured a different way, such as the language of “slut” and “skank.”

    Anyway, Jill’s point that women may be just as inclined by discouraged by different social structures has new empirical support.

  26. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar February 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm |

    I seem to have cut some words from that last sentence. I meant “just as inclined to have casual sex with an appealing partner in an appealing circumstance but be discouraged …”

  27. Marksman2010
    Marksman2010 February 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm |

    Reading that piece of McDonald’s and their McOatmeal does make me want to get up tomorrow and eat some naked oatmeal.

  28. RD
    RD February 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm |

    I didn’t make it through that whole slideshow, but. I agree about Scarlett Johansson’s and Halle Berry’s dresses, they were beautiful, but I thought Amy Adam’s dress was beautiful too (I want it for myself actually :P). I also thought Anne Hathaway looked gorgeous.

  29. Sam
    Sam February 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm |

    Thomas,

    “Are you evaluating the reactions that actually transpire when it happens in your presence, or something you saw in pop culture, or just reasoning from a construct in your mind?”

    a little of all of that, as is, I think, the standard for arguments with respect to gender. I believe people who are “gender aware”/”sexuality aware” do notice things more often than others would, but of course, I did not do empirical research on this matter. Even though the plural of anecdote is not data, let me regale you with two and a half anecdotes that may shed some more light on what I’m trying to say.

    When a guy is groped by a woman at a party, whether or not he likes it or not, he will be considered the “winning party”. I’ve been in that situation, and I am pretty sure that most of the people here would consider her behaviour as sexually harassing. It wasn’t a big deal, but still. Yet she wasn’t in that case, and I believe neither she nor any other woman would be considered a creep for groping. She was/would/will (possibly) be considered slutty, but not creepy. And I believe that’s why she is considered to be *losing* value, but actively giving it away. Creepy, at least in my understanding, always has a notion of “taking”, slut is about “giving it away”. Those are different aspects – both are, I believe, intrinsically tied to – at least social notions of – relative sexual scarcity (see also this – http://www.realadultsex.com/content/shorter-no-sex-class-paradigm#comment-19057 – I think you looked at before, when I asked you explain your performance metaphor with respect to the scarcity aspect over on the yes means yes blog a couple of months ago – but at that point you merely said that you wish the world were different)

    Last Friday, I talked about body language with a female friend, and while she said how annoying she finds it when guys are too touchy – I mean literally *while* she said that – she kept caressing my cheek. Again, not even unpleasant, but once again an indication of things women can do that guys would not be allowed to do. And while this was noteworthy because of the way her body language did something she wanted others to refrain from, most women I ever talked about this say “we get away with pretty much everything we want to do”. I once talked to a bisexual woman about flirting with women, and she said “I swoop in under the radar, because as a girl I can be so much more physical than any guy ever could”. Again, anecdotes, but I believe they’re not giving the wrong impression.

    Remember Schrödinger’s rapist – can you imagine a similar discussion about the specificities of a woman saying hello to a man? I’m asking. Maybe you can imagine that, but I can’t. And there are reasons for it – some cultural, some simply related to assumed or average physical strength. I’m rarely intimidated by a woman, and I can keep her off of me whenever I want. Women can’t do that in all circumstances, so their bodily autonomy *does* depend on the cooperation of others, both individually and socially. And one of the cooperation mechanisms is shaming and thus controlling male sexuality for things for which female sexuality is not and likely will not ever be shamed.

    So, yeah, this essentially goes back to Clarisse’s Creep essay if more people had read it correctly instead of jumping on the term “creep” and fearing she would argue for taking a defense weapon away from women.

    Again, I believe that women and men are pleasure compatible, and that we need to do all we can to rid society of cultural artefacts that increase the imbalance of socially attributed value of female and male sexuality as well as rid ourselves to the extent possible of the negative psychological consequences of living in a world that is not free from such notions.

    But I believe that, in order to do that, it is not possible to only look at one side of the equation and keep the other one up, as Jill does by adding “probably correct”. If “probably correct” is actually inherently correct, then there is no way to correct the imbalance. If “probably correct” is a cultural artefact that is in itself reinforcing its problematic assumptions, then it should at least be avoided, and at best be actively fought.

    I do realize that this is occasionally tough for feminists who need to balance the “keeping women safe right here right now” with the negative consequence of (possibly inadvertendly) aiding in reconstructing the social foundation that leads to the problematic (cultural) structure in the first place.

  30. Sam
    Sam February 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    Thomas,

    also – thanks for the link. Need to read that paper.

  31. RD
    RD February 28, 2011 at 6:44 pm |

    Way to miss the point Sam!!

    Sam: Jill,this -“Perhaps consider that women may want sex just as much, but have spent their entire lives hearing about how sex with strangers is a terrible, dangerous idea, leading to the (probably correct) understanding that the only kind of men who would approach you in broad daylight offering sex are men who are either serial killers or sex offenders or at least total fucking creeps?”so what’s your point here? If the only men asking are men women aren’t interested in

    No. A het/bi woman might be completely and totally interested in having sex with the guy, EXCEPT that he is a stranger who approached her out of the blue. Because this indicates to a lot of women that he might be a serial killer, or otherwise DANGEROUS. Nothing to do with desire.

    while all men asked are interested in the women asking, how is the story about men wanting sex more than women not correct? It doesn’t necessarily answer the question whether men have an innately higher sex drive (although other studies also point in that direction, but that’s a different story), but it certainly shows that in *this* world, female sexuality is scarcer than male sexuality.

    That may be true but the study does not show that. People being approached randomly by strangers wanting to hook up (and not in a bar, and not offering payment, etc.) is not how most sex in this world starts.

    Also major LOL @ “men” as a group and “women” as a group being “sexually compatible.”

  32. RD
    RD February 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm |

    Sam: I believe neither she nor any other woman would be considered a creep for groping.

    This is completely untrue.

    I once talked to a bisexual woman about flirting with women, and she said “I swoop in under the radar, because as a girl I can be so much more physical than any guy ever could”.

    This, by the way? Is CREEPY.

    Remember Schrödinger’s rapist – can you imagine a similar discussion about the specificities of a woman saying hello to a man? I’m asking. Maybe you can imagine that, but I can’t. And there are reasons for it – some cultural, some simply related to assumed or average physical strength. I’m rarely intimidated by a woman, and I can keep her off of me whenever I want. Women can’t do that in all circumstances, so their bodily autonomy *does* depend on the cooperation of others, both individually and socially. And one of the cooperation mechanisms is shaming and thus controlling male sexuality for things for which female sexuality is not and likely will not ever be shamed. So, yeah, this essentially goes back to Clarisse’s Creep essay if more people had read it correctly instead of jumping on the term “creep” and fearing she would argue for taking a defense weapon away from women.

    By your own arguments this WOULD be taking a defense weapon away from women. I don’t understand how you could acknowledge everything you acknowledged above and then follow that with your last sentence. Either you don’t understand your own arguments or you see no problem being contradictory.

    Again, I believe that women and men are pleasure compatible, and that we need to do all we can to rid society of cultural artefacts that increase the imbalance of socially attributed value of female and male sexuality as well as rid ourselves to the extent possible of the negative psychological consequences of living in a world that is not free from such notions.

    For men, you mean.

    But I believe that, in order to do that, it is not possible to only look at one side of the equation and keep the other one up, as Jill does by adding “probably correct”. If “probably correct” is actually inherently correct, then there is no way to correct the imbalance. If “probably correct” is a cultural artefact that is in itself reinforcing its problematic assumptions, then it should at least be avoided, and at best be actively fought.I do realize that this is occasionally tough for feminists who need to balance the “keeping women safe right here right now” with the negative consequence of (possibly inadvertendly) aiding in reconstructing the social foundation that leads to the problematic (cultural) structure in the first place.

    Say what? So taking this back to the original example, say you are a woman walking down the street and a guy approaches you for sex. You think her refusing him based on the fear that he is dangerous…makes women less safe overall? Because of some “problematic cultural structure”? It may very well affect the “value” of sex like you said, but this is unrelated to, and much less important than, safety.

  33. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie February 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm |

    Why aren’t women who walk up to men offering sex considered creepy? Seriously, why?

    It’s called patriarchy. You’re soaking in it.

    For one thing, look at statistics: How many women rape men, as compared to how many men rape women (or other men)? How many women kill multiple men? How many women kill their partners and/or their children and/or themselves becuase of what the news always trumpets as “a relationship gone sour!” (B.S.)

    Additionally: In patriarchy, sex with a woman is the prize. So why would it be creepy? In patriarchy.

  34. marle
    marle February 28, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    Sam,

    What does it really matter if women who approach strange men for sex are considered creepy or slutty? First of all, that rarely happens, for the same safety issues that discourage women from accepting sex when a stranger offers, and second, is it really important to have a society where we all can randomly offer and accept sex with strangers? How well would that even work out, without knowing the person at all or taking time to discuss what you do and don’t like in bed? Besides, we have dating websites now to find people who also want casual sex, without the hassle of bothering people you randomly come across who may or may not have any interest at all.

    Also Sam, this may be really hard for you to understand, but conventionally attractive women do not get all the sex they want with any man they want. Really. It’s hard to say how different it is for men versus women, but believe me, women face sexual scarcity as well.

  35. Sam
    Sam February 28, 2011 at 8:43 pm |

    Hey Marle,

    “is it really important to have a society where we all can randomly offer and accept sex with strangers?”

    no, not really. It’s not about the absolute quantities or specific mating practices. More about relatives. My point is that Jill’s “probably correct” argument that men who are open about their sexuality in that situation are likely creepy is (inadvertendly) reconstructing the very structure in which women cannot live out their (theoretical) desires and (assumed equal sexual desires) an imbalance between female and male sexuality ensues that, in turn, gives additional value to a man who “gets some” and reduces the value of a woman who easily “gives it up”. I don’t think it’s possible to argue against one part of that setup – slutshaming – while continuing to assume potential male sexual sociopathy (“probably correct”). These are two sides of the same coin.

    “Also Sam, this may be really hard for you to understand, but conventionally attractive women do not get all the sex they want with any man they want. Really. It’s hard to say how different it is for men versus women, but believe me, women face sexual scarcity as well.”

    No, I am well aware that even beautiful women experience scarcity, at least with respect to what they’re looking for. And as you say, it’s really hard to say how it is different for the other sex – the grass is always greener on the other side, after all. But I do believe, and I think that’s also what the respective part of the OP was premised on (as well as the article Thomas linked to), that for several rational reasons, women are more selective about their sexual encounters than men. Jill made the point that it’s not about a higher male sex drive, but about culture – to which I replied “fair point, but if you blame culture, don’t just mention one part of the equation and claim that the other aspect is ‘probably correct'”.

  36. marle
    marle February 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm |

    Sam, I guess I’m not really getting what you’re looking for. Jill was actually talking about a specific, not about relatives. She was talking about men approaching women they don’t know for sex. Do you think that society should make strangers approaching others for sex OK (I disagree)? Do you think that we should be careful to say that women who approach strangers for sex are also creepy (rarely happens, so I feel that’s nitpicky). Or do you think we need to redesign how people talk to and approach each other for sex in general (without specifying that approaching strangers for sex be OK)? I would agree with you if it was the last one, though it’s a very different discussion than what you pulled it out of.

    I also want to add that one big problem with culture and sex is that the conventional wisdom is that men always want sex. This isn’t true, and it is the other half to the socialization that pushes women to downplay their sex drive. Because men always are seen to want sex, and it’s OK, men feel they are entitled to act creepy, because they’re men and all they want is sex. Jill’s comments don’t enable that.

  37. Sam
    Sam February 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm |

    RD,

    “By your own arguments this WOULD be taking a defense weapon away from women. I don’t understand how you could acknowledge everything you acknowledged above and then follow that with your last sentence. Either you don’t understand your own arguments or you see no problem being contradictory.”

    no, the essay was, in my estimation, largely misunderstood. It was about much more than the term “creep”, it was about general social attitutes towards expressions of male desire and sexuality and how they are dealt with in potentially harmful ways.

    “You think her refusing him based on the fear that he is dangerous…makes women less safe overall? Because of some “problematic cultural structure”? It may very well affect the “value” of sex like you said, but this is unrelated to, and much less important than, safety.”

    Not exactly. First, safety is more important, no argument here. And aren’t you sort of making my point about the problems of seeing how dealing with a current problem can lead to its own reconstruction? Yes, explicitly approaching women on the streets is (likely generally) creepy for men, since it is not a culturally condoned way of interacting, but it is, I still believe, different for women (far less creepy), and I believe that this imbalance is both cause and symptom of the differing value-of-sexuality-problem that we’re dealing with here.

  38. Sam
    Sam February 28, 2011 at 9:11 pm |

    Marle,

    it’s mostly #3 with a little #2. As for this –

    “Because men always are seen to want sex, and it’s OK, men feel they are entitled to act creepy, because they’re men and all they want is sex. Jill’s comments don’t enable that.”

    As so many cultural matters, it’s a chicken and egg matter – you can also turn this around: since they’re men and the assumption is that they always want sex and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it, whatever they say will be viewed through a creep filter. And that’s different for women – and that imbalance plays a big part in both shaming men for being creeps and shaming women for being sluts. And, again, I don’t think it’s fair (or possible) to concentrate on the slut part without addressing the creep part, because they’re connected through the “value-of-sexuality-variable”.

  39. RD
    RD February 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm |

    Ok. We have different views on what “the problem” is. The whole “value of sexuality” thing strikes me as fairly unimportant and beside the point.

  40. marle
    marle February 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm |

    no, the essay was, in my estimation, largely misunderstood. It was about much more than the term “creep”, it was about general social attitutes towards expressions of male desire and sexuality and how they are dealt with in potentially harmful ways.

    I think you’re having problems expressing yourself clearly, and I think the problem happened because you’re trying to make a discussion of male desire and male sexuality in general out of a specific comment about men who approach women they don’t know for sex. I think you would have made more sense if you completely derailed the tread and started talking about examples that fit with what you’re trying to discuss, though that would have probably gotten you shut down by the mods.

    Not exactly. First, safety is more important, no argument here. And aren’t you sort of making my point about the problems of seeing how dealing with a current problem can lead to its own reconstruction? Yes, explicitly approaching women on the streets is (likely generally) creepy for men, since it is not a culturally condoned way of interacting, but it is, I still believe, different for women (far less creepy), and I believe that this imbalance is both cause and symptom of the differing value-of-sexuality-problem that we’re dealing with here.

    Do you think it’s OK for women to approach men they don’t know for sex? I don’t think that is in our culture, and I think the study would have turned out completely different if they did it anywhere besides a college campus. I also don’t think that there’s many women who would approach strange men for sex unless they’re being paid for a psych study, for the same safety reasons that women don’t normally accept propositions from strangers. So I’m not really sure what the problem is, or how you think that calling creepy men creepy reinforces the “differing value-of-sexuality-problem” which isn’t nearly as straightforward as you think it is.

  41. RD
    RD February 28, 2011 at 9:29 pm |

    Another thing. You seem to see slut-shaming and people finding men creepy to be two sides of the same coin. This makes no sense to me. I would say those two things ARE related, but not through this “value” thing…slut-shaming is about men wanting to control women, and creep “shaming” is about protecting oneself from people who want to control and hurt you (male or female).

    I have not read Clarisse Thorn’s essay yet, but it did seem as though you were objecting to the entire concept of the “creep.”

  42. marle
    marle February 28, 2011 at 9:36 pm |

    Sam: Marle,it’s mostly #3 with a little #2. As for this -“Because men always are seen to want sex, and it’s OK, men feel they are entitled to act creepy, because they’re men and all they want is sex. Jill’s comments don’t enable that.”As so many cultural matters, it’s a chicken and egg matter – you can also turn this around: since they’re men and the assumption is that they always want sex and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it, whatever they say will be viewed through a creep filter. And that’s different for women – and that imbalance plays a big part in both shaming men for being creeps and shaming women for being sluts. And, again, I don’t think it’s fair (or possible) to concentrate on the slut part without addressing the creep part, because they’re connected through the “value-of-sexuality-variable”.  

    I don’t think that men are always viewed through a creep filter, and more specifically I don’t think feminists like Jill view men through a creep filter. I also think creep is useful as a term to describe someone who inappropriately goes past sexual boundaries but doesn’t commit sexual sexual assault or anything. It’s not directly comparable to slut, because sluts, well, often just look sexier than people think they should, but by definition don’t cross sexual boundaries to make people feel uncomfortable. The way a yelling sexual slurs at you from his car does. I have no problem with calling women who cross boundaries creepy too, because creepy is not the male version of slut. The male version of slut is stud, or if the speaker thinks negatively of him, man-whore. Those are not terms that feminists encourage or use uncritically.

    I think what you’re looking for is a discussion along the lines of how can shy guys talk to girls without coming across as creepy. Which is an important discussion. But this isn’t really the place for it.

  43. Sam
    Sam February 28, 2011 at 9:42 pm |

    Marle,

    “I think you’re having problems expressing yourself clearly, and I think the problem happened because you’re trying to make a discussion of male desire and male sexuality in general out of a specific comment about men who approach women they don’t know for sex.”

    I was mainly annoyed about “probably correct” bit in the OP. I tried to explain why it bothered me and how I believe saying this is related to reconstructing the circumstances causing the problem they’re supposed to address. But I may have problems expressing myself, if you’re not understanding what I’m trying to say…

    “Do you think it’s OK for women to approach men they don’t know for sex?”

    I think it iwould be highly unusal, likely inappropriate, and she would probably be considered a slut, but she would not be considered a potential sex offender (see the difference?).

    “the “differing value-of-sexuality-problem” which isn’t nearly as straightforward as you think it is.”

    I’m beginning to realize that…

  44. marle
    marle February 28, 2011 at 10:01 pm |

    “Do you think it’s OK for women to approach men they don’t know for sex?”I think it iwould be highly unusal, likely inappropriate, and she would probably be considered a slut, but she would not be considered a potential sex offender (see the difference?).

    I don’t know. I don’t think that slut is the worst thing she would be thought of, and latinist above does point out that he would be afraid that she would be a serial killer. I really do think that the studies would have gone completely different if the men hadn’t all been 20 year olds on a college campus. I also don’t really see what the problem if women who approach strangers for sex aren’t seen as potential rapists, but other negative things.

  45. Sam
    Sam February 28, 2011 at 10:23 pm |

    Marle,

    “I also don’t really see what the problem if women who approach strangers for sex aren’t seen as potential rapists, but other negative things.”

    I do think that it matters, but I’m afraid I’m apparently not able to sufficiently clearly explain why I think it does.

  46. Spay Your Sea Kitten
    Spay Your Sea Kitten February 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm |

    If the judge found the rapist not guilty (cos of magical “sex signals”), why make him send a letter of apology? Apology for what, if no rape took place? Sounds a lot like the judge takes the position that rape – unlike any other crime – is legal if he thinks the victim deserved/asked for it.

  47. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn March 1, 2011 at 12:22 am | *

    Hmm, interesting.

    Sam, I don’t think that Jill’s comment expresses the stereotype you’re referring to. The value attribution problem exists, but I think it’s separate from the danger problem. Women are taught that we have a lot more to fear from men, especially when it comes to sexual situations, than men are taught they have to fear from women.

    I think that anyone who approaches someone else in daylight/public, offering sex straightforwardly, is likely to be viewed as weird or unstable or whatever because people who do that are clearly transgressing social boundaries in an extremely obvious way. But if most men believe they have nothing to fear from women, then they are more likely to be intrigued or curious rather than scared by such an unexpected event. Whereas if women believe they have a lot to fear from men, they’ll be more likely to be anxious and freaked out. I think this is what Jill was getting at, and again, I think it

  48. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn March 1, 2011 at 12:27 am | *

    Hmm, interesting.

    Sam, I don’t think that Jill’s comment expresses the stereotype you’re referring to. The value attribution problem exists, but I think it’s separate from the danger problem. Women are taught that we have a lot more to fear from men, especially when it comes to sexual situations, than men are taught they have to fear from women.

    I think that anyone who approaches someone else in daylight/public, offering sex straightforwardly, is likely to be viewed as weird or unstable or whatever because people who do that are clearly transgressing social boundaries in an extremely obvious way. But if most men believe they have nothing to fear from women, then they are more likely to be intrigued or curious rather than scared by such an unexpected event. Whereas if women believe they have a lot to fear from men, they’ll be more likely to be anxious and freaked out. I think this is what Jill was getting at, and again, I think it’s separate from the value attribution problem.

    As it happens, I think this is true, and that women are much less likely to get a desirable sexual experience out of casual sex (especially one-night-stands) than men are. So I’m glad Thomas posted that link, because it’s evidence for an argument I’ve been making for years.

    If anyone’s interested in my creep article, it’s available here:
    http://clarissethorn.com/blog/2011/01/02/men-dont-deserve-the-word-creep/

    If I were writing that article today, I would do it differently. In particular, I worry that it comes across as trying to police the language of women who try to express anxiety about men who freak them out (which I had no intention of doing). I intended the framework of the word “creep” to be just that, a framework, not a prescription. Anyway, I certainly stand by the basic points of the article (which I bulleted at the end), I just don’t think I constructed it ideally. (On the other hand, it’s not clear to me that there’s any way to construct an article on this topic ideally.)

  49. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn March 1, 2011 at 12:29 am | *

    hmm, I don’t seem to have mod power on this thread. I posted a complete version of the above comment, but it’s still in mod, sorry.

  50. RD
    RD March 1, 2011 at 12:37 am |

    Actually I was LOLing at “pleasure compatible.” Its a little less funny when you say “sexually compatible,” but still bullshit.

  51. Colin Day
    Colin Day March 1, 2011 at 12:41 am |

    #2
    @Jill

    So you like James Franco, but how did he look in that dress?

  52. timothynakayama
    timothynakayama March 1, 2011 at 12:57 am |

    “I don’t understand why the even bother with designer names for the men’s pictures. All the tuxes look the same. THE SAME.”

    They only look the same if you don’t wear tuxedos. As a guy who likes wearing nice clothes, I really do appreciate them putting the designer names for the men’s pictures. Fashion doesn’t always have to about women and dresses all the time.

  53. April
    April March 1, 2011 at 1:09 am |

    thewhatfor: Yeah, that facebook article was the smuggest thing I’ve read all week.  

    Seriously. It was nothing but “gawd, family life is so dreadfully dull, and I’m sooo glad I didn’t make that mistake, like so many of my idiot friends!”

  54. SephONE
    SephONE March 1, 2011 at 2:34 am |

    @Sam:

    “I think it iwould be highly unusal, likely inappropriate, and she would probably be considered a slut, but she would not be considered a potential sex offender (see the difference?).”

    Because.. men are the ones who are more likely to /be/, and actually are given actual statistics, the sex offenders and rapists and the ones who abuse women. In an overwhelming majority even. So yeah, I basically agree with Tinfoil Hattie up there. That’s not women’s fault. They have every reason to be cautious as long as men keep giving them reasons to be and then dismissing it as no big deal or implying that women can give these ‘magical signals’ that make men rape them. Last I checked street harassment of women by men wasn’t really down much either.

    Perhaps you should start talking to other men about how they can stop treating women like public property (and also stop calling them sluts/bitches/ugly/whores if they react badly to it) if you want women to not react so badly to other men?

  55. April
    April March 1, 2011 at 2:48 am |

    If I were sitting at a park bench or something, in daylight, in a well-populated area, and a man I did not know came up to me and bluntly asked if I’d like to have sex with him, I would very likely tell him no, but not because I was afraid he was a rapist. I’d be afraid he was a rapist if it were darker, in a less-populated area, among other things. In the situation they presented, it would just be more startling than anything. I don’t think the Shroedinger’s Rapist scenario is really comparable in this case.

  56. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn March 1, 2011 at 3:46 am | *

    I think Jill is right that a guy who approaches a woman in daylight, in public, offering sex in a straightforward manner, is likely to be a guy who is either performing a dare (or a study), or who is very unusual and possibly dangerous. I don’t think this because I believe men are inherently dangerous, though, I think it because a man who does that is breaking social mores and boundaries so dramatically, it’s a good indicator that his future behavior would be very hard to predict and possibly dangerous. No one who is trying to follow social norms, or who is not willing to make other people uncomfortable, or who is not mentally disabled in a way I am not qualified to supervise, would do something like that.

    I should perhaps stipulate that I do think it’s entirely possible for a man to approach a woman in broad daylight, in public, and ask her out on a date, in a non-threatening and non-invasive and non-irritating manner, assuming that the woman is not actively signaling that she don’t want to be approached (e.g., wearing headphones). I think it’s somewhat difficult, though (despite the fact that some pickup artists choose to specialize in “day game” :P). And I don’t think that directly suggesting to a total stranger that you want to have sex with them, in any environment but a sex club, is going to be a useful strategy in such an approach. (And perhaps I should note that there are plenty of sex clubs where that wouldn’t be acceptable either!)

  57. Jadey
    Jadey March 1, 2011 at 8:58 am |

    Spay Your Sea Kitten: If the judge found the rapist not guilty (cos of magical “sex signals”), why make him send a letter of apology? Apology for what, if no rape took place? Sounds a lot like the judge takes the position that rape – unlike any other crime – is legal if he thinks the victim deserved/asked for it. Spay Your Sea Kitten

    No, he was found guilty, he just wasn’t sentenced to prison. So he isn’t exactly “free” – a conditional sentence means he will be supervised in the community on conditions. If he breaches, he can be incarcerated.

  58. Jadey
    Jadey March 1, 2011 at 9:03 am |

    timothynakayama: They only look the same if you don’t wear tuxedos. As a guy who likes wearing nice clothes, I really do appreciate them putting the designer names for the men’s pictures. Fashion doesn’t always have to about women and dresses all the time.

    Ah, that makes sense. Sorry, it was a careless comment – I couldn’t tell any of them apart unless they were wearing a different kind of tie, but I’m a fashion flop either way and don’t understand women’s fashion designers either. Shallow comment was shallow.

  59. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar March 1, 2011 at 10:05 am |

    Sam, I have not forgotten about your question about scarcity and value. I’ve been thinking about it and kicking it around with colleagues, including one with a background in behavioral economics, and at some point I want to write to deal with that. My evolving thinking, though, still stands in a place that you seem not to want to accept, which is this, to quote a political phrase: “it’s the patriarchy, stupid.”

    Clarisse mentions differential risks and assessments of risk above, and so do the article on that paper — though I don’t have the paper itself yet. I think the short answer is that the primary cause of relatively lower availability of women wanting sex with strange men to men wanting sex with strange women is about their risk assessment, which has everything to do with patriarchy — attempts to police the use of technology to protect themselves from STIs and unintended pregnancy, violence, stigma, etc.

    (Even discussing whether women lose value for fulfulling their sexual desires contributes in part to reifying the risk! We’re part of the problem just by having this conversation, though perhaps only at a marginal level and though I think the conversation contributes more to the solution than the problem, ultimately. Yes, I am entirely serious about this. One thing that makes a difference is that, in this patriarchal and commodified culture, talking about “value” brings to mind talking about women as commodities. I know you’ve read my stuff and you know I’m against valuing people in that way. To the extent that I’m engaging with that language, I mean to discuss only the value of a particular potential sexual interaction to each possible participant.)

    So, construct the risks as costs.

    The other major issue is analysis of reward. The report on that casual sex paper notes that many women just don’t think that the sex offered will work well for them. That may be as simple as a woman recognizing that she’s culturally conditioned to have too much anxiety and discomfort with a brand new partner for it to be really enjoyable, or it may be doubts about the guy’s ability to pick up the nuances of a new partner’s preferences or whatever, but most of the things in play here travel through cultural conditioning about how sex is done.

    Construct that as a discount to upside risk. If women believe that 90% of men are fairly selfish partners, they’ll take a substantial discount to the upside risk.

    Loosely, that’s a model that explains variable valuations, and therefore relative scarcity. If one side bears a lot more risk and has a much less certain reward, they’re going to be less psyched about the proposal than the side that has less risk and a more certain upside.

    If we want to see what it looks like to tinker with those factors, look at environments where some of the risks women face in an offer of sex with a stranger are mitigated, and where they are more certain of or better able to assess the reward. Particular sexualized communities spring to mind. Queer and BDSM communities offer some places where women have a better idea what they’re going to get and better (though not good enough; I write and write about how BDSM communities need to be better) risk mitigation. I would argue based on some significant familiarity with such communities that the better the perception of downside risk mitigation (reputational, physical, psychological) and the better the visibility of upside risk (through player reputation, etc.) the more willing women are to engage in casual sex play. (I would argue that this is totally the case as between BDSM communities, where the relative perception that women can trust even partners they don’t know and the relative perception that the reputation of a particular partner gives them better info on what to expect are major drivers in how eager women are to play with new partners. Other folks with experience with sexuality communities might inject their observations on this.)

    So I’m back to where I started: if you want the way men and women value sex with new partners, and therefore scarcity, to change, make the world a better place. Increase the practical access women have to the tools to control STI and unintended pregnancy risk, support social norms like Yes Means Yes that normalize bodily autonomy and respect for boundaries, oppose slut shaming so that reputational and psychological risks for women to pursue their desires decline, and support normalization of better communication about sexuality so that folks can more easily assess what they’ll get out of the interaction.

    That really does amount to “I wish the world were different,” except that I’m not just saying we should wish for it. I’m saying that we make the change, not in the whole world all at once, but as much as we can with what we have where we are. I know of no other solution.

  60. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar March 1, 2011 at 10:09 am |

    Jadey, look at Russell Brand. Those tapered pencil pants … shudder. The cuts are not the same; some are boxy, some are very fitted. The pants are not the same. The lapels are not the same in shape or fabric. Some men wear tuxes with cumberbunds, some with waistcoats, different ties, etc. Those things are aesthetics and references. Men’s fashion happens within a more constrained system than women’s, but there’s still a lot going on.

  61. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband March 1, 2011 at 10:20 am |

    Sam,

    In addition to missing how patriarcy has constrained women’s choices regarding stranger sex, your analysis fails to address how the current construction of masculinity, where value is attached to number of sexual partners and sexual availability, may have *greatly* skewed the statistics for men.

    Kristen would also like me to mention that in large part the methods of disease protection still require male cooperation in PIV sex. Beyond the risks of physical assault, there is a significant lack of control over disease protection that always made her and some of her friends learly of sex with people she was unfamiliar with. There is a female condom, of course, but it wasn’t well known when she was single and she isn’t certain of its widespread usage in the US.

  62. Sam
    Sam March 1, 2011 at 11:45 am |

    I wrote this over on Clarisse’s blog to further explain what irked me about the “probably correct” in the OP, she suggested I cross-post it here –

    “As for the comment, I’m sorry I apparently can’t express what irks me about the “probably right”. I feel it’s some sort of argumentative “have your blank slate cake, and eat it, too” that I find unfair. You say –

    “Women are taught that we have a lot more to fear from men, especially when it comes to sexual situations, than men are taught they have to fear from women.”

    – paraphrasing Jill’s argument about *learnt* fear as cause of the assumed/reported lack of female sexual spontaneity, and in itself, that’s a fair enough argument. But then she also says that this being afraid is not merely a cultural artefact, but “probably correct” – thus implying that there is something correct about the prejudices and attributed dangers that originally lead to the cultural “teaching women to fear men”.

    I’m essentially reading it as saying that “female desire is not inherently different from men’s and we’d have all kinds of spontaneous sex if we weren’t taught about the bad boys”, but as opposed to our desires, that are shaped by culture, “men are probably like that, so we have to be careful”. And I don’t think that’s a fair argumentative approach.”

    Thomas,

    thanks for your substantial reply.

    I sort of feel like you’re restating my criticism about the “probably correct” when you say this (about affecting women) –

    “We’re part of the problem just by having this conversation, though perhaps only at a marginal level and though I think the conversation contributes more to the solution than the problem, ultimately.”

    I said that the risk avoidance aspect is paramount, but that implying cultural causation on the one hand and essential characteristics on the other is not fair and – as you say – contributes to the problem the discourse is supposed to address.

    “talking about “value” brings to mind talking about women as commodities.”

    Not for me. I’m from an economics background, and I naturally interpreted the terms in the way you clarified them above.

    “My evolving thinking, though, still stands in a place that you seem not to want to accept, which is this, to quote a political phrase: “it’s the patriarchy, stupid.”

    Well, in case of Jill’s point, I’d say it’s more a matter of either/or, resp. fairness, of the argumentative structure. As for patriarchy, I believe what I wrote over at figleaf’s blog is a testament to my belief in the power of patriarchy. What I am less certain about is the question of causation and the *relative importance* and interdependence of cultural and essential/biological/evolutionary aspects.

    As in this case – to which extent is male (sexual) violence a cultural feature or not? To which extent is fear of male (sexual) violence a cultural feature and to which extent is it caused by rational individual observations of higher average physical strength in males that, as I said above, leaves women more dependent on social cooperation with respect to their bodily autonomy. The latter aspect can hardly be characterized as patriarchical, although it may well give rise (have given rise) to control structures that effectively present as patriarchical – and to the extent that the differences in average physical strength between women and men are the origin thereof, there’s really nothing that can be done about it except wait if evolution has something new in mind for humans.

    However, to understand that there will likely always be a remaning difference, imbalance, that will require social coordination, doesn’t mean it’s not possible to address the merely cultural aspects to the extent that they’re identifiable, and I think you’re totally right about this –

    “Increase the practical access women have to the tools to control STI and unintended pregnancy risk, support social norms like Yes Means Yes that normalize bodily autonomy and respect for boundaries, oppose slut shaming so that reputational and psychological risks for women to pursue their desires decline, and support normalization of better communication about sexuality so that folks can more easily assess what they’ll get out of the interaction.”

    But I also do believe that the aspect of male sexual shaming (ie the other side of the equation) is one that is usually overlooked, and I believe that everything that can help men practically reduce the scarcity experienced, help giving them the subjective feeling of sexual choice, is one of the most effective tools in addressing the issus you mention above.

    I’m currently in the process of summarizing scarcity aspect related comments in Clarisse’s huge manliness and feminism series of posts, and it’s great to have heard back from you about the scarcity aspect in that process.

    Kristen J.’s Husband,

    re – value and numbers for men – you may be interested in this comment I once wrote about that matter – http://www.realadultsex.com/content/shorter-no-sex-class-paradigm#comment-17675

  63. RD
    RD March 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm |

    April: If I were sitting at a park bench or something, in daylight, in a well-populated area, and a man I did not know came up to me and bluntly asked if I’d like to have sex with him, I would very likely tell him no, but not because I was afraid he was a rapist.I’d be afraid he was a rapist if it were darker, in a less-populated area, among other things.In the situation they presented, it would just be more startling than anything.I don’t think the Shroedinger’s Rapist scenario is really comparable in this case.  

    I guess I’ll just come right out and say it. That’s a trigger for me (park bench broad daylight!). Which you could not have known, its not a hugely obvious one, but it wouldn’t be one at all if that was something those people didn’t do. They start talking sexual very quick too, to test your boundaries.

  64. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband March 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm |

    Sam,

    That comment doesn’t address quite address the issue. Het male sexual desire isn’t simply inaccurately described as non-mutual, its constructed as non-mutual. Consider that surveys indicate that about a third of het men would consider committing rape if they believed they wouldn’t get caught. That statistic points several conclusions two of which are relevant here. First, women have a reasonable fear of men not only because they often have the physical capability to commit rape, but also because they have *self reported* the desire to do so under certain conditions. Second, that HMSD is non-mutual or at least indifference to mutuality is part of the construct. In any event the issue still remains that study referenced in the OP is a reflection of sexual constructs and consequently a kyriarchial society and not a reflection of sexual desire.

  65. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar March 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm |

    Sam, we live in such a complex and regulated social structure here in late capitalism that the ability to use violence is driven more by the social structures around it than the individual’s strength or efficacy at violence. There are places at the margins where the actual tougher combattant prevails, but those are few. Mostly, the use of violence is differentially incentivized. Some people get away with it, some don’t; some have a lot to lose and some don’t, etc. For that reason, evolution isn’t the driver in bodily autonomy. Social acceptance of transgression is.

    (IOW, Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t rape women because he’s big and strong; he rapes women because he gets away with it. Women’s perception (accurate) of being without recourse in the event that their boundaries are not respected is the driver here, not some observation of differential physical strength. I could expand on this, but I don’t want to tangent.)

    I don’t agree literally with what Jill said, including the “probably correct” part. (The serial killers and sex offenders part, in particular, is a matter of data, and I don’t think there is actually support for the proposition that a man propositioning random women for sex is a serial killer or a convicted sex offender — more on that below; “creep is a bit different, and the probably correct assertion has a basis that I think does deserve a defense, see below), but I didn’t take it as a statement of gender essentialism or even a statement about expression or male sexuality. She’s raising the issue of the extent to which an offer of sex to a complete stranger in a nonsexualized context is itself taken to convey information about the proposer, and I took “creep” in that context to mean pushy and disinclined to respect boundaries. Just being more direct than social niceties generally call for does, in fact, raise the inference that one is not inclined to respect boundaries.

    I’m a lawyer. Say for example I’m at a cocktail party and I’m talking about what I do and someone says, “I may want to hire you.” Great. Potential new client. That’s not a strange way for that offer to arise, so it conveys no unease. Now, if someone walks up to me on the street and says, “Are you a lawyer who does X? Because if you are I may want to hire you.” I’m immediately suspicious, because that’s … not the way these things generally go. I infer that something is atypical about the proposer from what I perceive as the mismatch between the offer and the context. And that isn’t even relevant to the specific concern about boundaries.

    So it may be that “hey, I have no idea who you are, but you’re really beautiful. Wanna come back to my place?” goes over a lot better at a party at midnight than on the sidewalk outside the deli at noon, for the reason that the time, place and manner of the offer raises issues with an otherwise attractive offer. And the issue it raises may be a belief — and I don’t know whether this is accurate or not without empirical evidence — that someone who makes the offer in the atypical circumstance where it is unexpected is more likely than the general population to disrespect boundaries.

    Going back to my Schoedinger’s Rapist post, if one of the major criteria for women in male sex partners is “will respect my boundaries,” then saying, in effect, “hi, I propose sex in ways that disregard common social boundaries” is not a great pitch.

  66. Sam
    Sam March 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm |

    Thomas,

    will reply in more detail later. Funny thing, though – while I liked the original Schrödinger’s post because it was well-intentioned advice, positive and merely suffered from an audience mismatch (talking in feminist language on a feminist blog to feminists about something that guys need to hear in language that’s not riddled with sociological lingo), I didn’t like your interpretation of the article too much when I later read it because I felt your argument (that there is no situation ever when the unknown opportunities of a potential conversation outweigh its potential risks – we talked about that at length in Clarisse’s manliness thread) sort of left out the contextual variables both the original Schrödinger’s article and you above mention as key for communication – and I agree with that. Interesting…

  67. SephONE
    SephONE March 1, 2011 at 5:51 pm |

    “talking in feminist language on a feminist blog to feminists about something that guys need to hear in language that’s not riddled with sociological lingo”

    You’d think the ‘guys’ could go learn that sociological lingo if they’re really so very interested. Also, I’m pretty sure there’s an assumption here that there are no men on these types of blogs (not true in the least). And of /course/ it would be on a feminist blog, because that’s a safe space. Putting it in other places is proven to lead to harassment, misogyny, and a ton of other crap people give feminists for daring to criticize men.

    Also, I entirely agree with the ‘probably correct’ comment Jill made up there. Because the fact is, it is creepy. No matter how you slice it, especially in a world where men tend to sexually harass women all the time in broad daylight (to the point of following them and slinging insults at them when they don’t react the way they want).

  68. RD
    RD March 1, 2011 at 6:46 pm |

    Sam…ew. its all in our heads then huh? Nothing to *actually* fear? Fuck you.

  69. Sam
    Sam March 2, 2011 at 1:05 am |

    Thomas,

    as for the remaining aspects of your last reply –

    “For that reason, evolution isn’t the driver in bodily autonomy. Social acceptance of transgression is. … Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t rape women because he’s big and strong; he rapes women because he gets away with it.”

    Right – I agree that cultural aspects are paramount, but I don’t believe in ideological explanations about the appearance of ideologies/social structures. The structures we are living in today are the likely unintended consequences of individuals acting and codifying and creating social practices that they believed would solve the social ills they were confronted with. In that respect, I believe that the remaining difference, the part that cannot be accounted for by cultural practices (rape culture) – in this case the average difference in physical strength as one relevant variable – are relevant, because they are the variables that cultural processes started from before they often became decoupled from their underlying purpose. But *if* the current practices should be successfully changed, the underlying difference will still be ther and very likely give rise to new attempts to manage it culturally.

  70. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar March 2, 2011 at 7:47 am |

    Sam, I find that thinking nearly incomprehensible. You’re saying that cultural inequalities not only exist in addition to sex dimorphism, which is uncertain, but that the cultural overlay is in effect determinist so that we shouldn’t expect to be able to tear down a social inequality and replace it with more equitable structures.

    First, I just think there’s no evidence for that. Second, if true, my answer is “take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

  71. Sam
    Sam March 2, 2011 at 12:56 pm |

    Thomas,

    “but that the cultural overlay is in effect determinist so that we shouldn’t expect to be able to tear down a social inequality and replace it with more equitable structures.”

    not quite, I tried to say that the non-cultural gender differences, however small, will always lead to *some* social management – I did not say it can not be more equitable. In fact, that’s what irked me about Jill’s “probably correct”.

  72. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar March 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm |

    Well, then I think we’re agreeing. I don’t think patriarchy arises necessarily from the mere existence of some biological dimorphism, and so I think we can formulate a fair society even though there are some biological differences.

  73. Studies over vrouwen en seks deugen niet « De Zesde Clan

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