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Old 10-21-2011, 12:27 AM   #16
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Depends on the guy. Depends on the approach. Depends on the situation. Some guys (women too) do not handle a declination gracefully and then it can become distinctly unflattering and sometimes nasty. Irvine, I don't know if you've dealt much with that or perhaps you've been fortunate on being hit on only by people who can take "No, but thanks for asking" well without a little side vitriol. You never know quite what you are going to get.

And for some other reasons, Yolland addressed them nicely.
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Old 10-21-2011, 10:59 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yolland View Post
^ Is it possible that's partly because you haven't repeatedly had the experience of specific individual men commenting on your sex appeal for the purpose of belittling your authority, competence, or intelligence? Which can affect how you evaluate being hit on in general, and also how much respect you'll trust you can take for granted from men in general. And at times how positively you feel about the fact that you have sex appeal at all.

i usually take it at face value -- a comment on my sex appeal. nothing else. because why would i ever care if the person hitting on me things i'm a dumb slut or not? that's his problem. why do i need to not be hit on in order to positively affirm that yes i am also a competent person working a demanding job and am valued for my brains? for a feminist, she seems to place an awful lot of her own self-esteem in the hands of other men.

she commented on her own blog:

Quote:
But regardless, the point I was making was that people need to be aware of how their comments might make someone feel extraordinarily uncomfortable and even feel as though they are in danger. This person failed to recognize that even though I had been speaking about little else all day long.
perhaps it's because, being a man, i understand that one's sex appeal alone is about the level of complexity that it is usually intended when one is hit upon. i'm not sure that there's nearly as much intent to "belittle" women as is perceived, though if that is the effect, then this leads to bigger questions in general rather than about the behavior of this individual, and about the set of assumptions this woman has about herself and about other women because it seems that the incompatibility of sex appeal and brains exists more in her mind than anywhere else.

someone made a pass at her. she said no. he left. seems as simple as that. there's much less going on inside of a man than many woman appear to believe, or at least this woman.

i've been hit on by married "heterosexual" men before. do i take this as, "this guy thinks all gays are sluts and will have sex with anyone"? no. i take it as, "this guy really wants to try something with a guy, and he finds me attractive." and i have an easy out in that i'm for all intents and purposes married.

as for the very valid understanding that straight women are the victims of most sexual violence at the hands of straight men, that i do understand (though i've been called a faggot, i've also been called a "redneck" and a "fucking gringo" and i am routinely bashed on television by elected representatives as well as well-known hate groups and read every day about gay bashings that happen nightly across the country), and i could certainly be the victim of date/acquaintance rape, or a baseball bat upside the head. however, this situation does not seem a precursor to sexual violence in any way at all, and this is the point Dawkins was trying to make i think.

Dawkins response was over the top, but we've all done the hyperbole thing on the internet, especially in here, myself absolutely included.




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I think there are perfectly reasonable arguments to be made that Ms. Watson judged this particular man unfairly (see Jamie's post above for instance), but I didn't find her read of what happened unreasonable either, and based on what little I've seen of both her initial comment and the kinds of responses it drew, I think she was overreacted to way more than she herself overreacted to anyone.

agreed it was an overreaction all around.

but, i think my point stands: how can a man in a relatively benign interaction invalidate what a woman thinks of herself? seems like she belittled her own authority, competence, and intelligence because she seems to have an issue understanding that authority, competence, and intelligence aren't negated by the recognition of sex appeal.

and a comment on her blog like this:

Quote:
All of those are very real possibilities that women face all the time. There is no way to know what any man’s intentions are, unless they make it clear. It shouldn’t be up to Ms Watson or any other woman to anticipate, plan for, prepare for, or be hyper vigilant for every possible threatening interaction that may be encountered by men. It is up to men to make choices…choices that show their intentions are not harmful or threatening to others.
makes me almost feel badly for heterosexual men. how much you put on them, and how little room for error, and how responsible they are for how you feel about yourself.
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Old 10-21-2011, 03:46 PM   #18
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:pimiento-stuffed olive?:

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Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post
how can a man in a relatively benign interaction invalidate what a woman thinks of herself?
If people were androids, and never internalized certain common disparaging messages but rather took them as strictly someone else's problem, then I suppose it wouldn't happen. I was responding in general terms because your comment was likewise general, and am not sure how precisely they apply to the OP--Watson didn't say anything that sweeping when she recounted the incident; again, it was a brief wry comment, not some melodramatic women-are-such-fragile-creatures sob story, and the only phrase she used that even remotely struck my ear as politicized/ideological was that she didn't appreciate the way the particulars of that situation (especially feeling cornered, she seemed to emphasize that) caused her to feel "sexualized" in an inappropriate way that she resented. I don't know what exactly that means to her, it's fairly broad language, but I interpreted it more or less as referring to what I described in my own terms above:
Quote:
...a woman might additionally feel unnerved by the obviousness of the attempt to (literally) catch her alone, and/or--where applicable--insulted by the sudden, blunt shift to sexually suggestive interest when you'd previously been effecting only general social and intellectual interest (as Watson hints, though doesn't explicitly state, might've been the case here). The broader context matters, too--it's an atheist conference, most people are there primarily to enjoy intellectual exchange, and while that certainly doesn't rule out a little fun on the side, women are apt to be particularly sensitive in such an environment to anything that comes across as 'Yeah, yeah, you're a smart girl and whatnot, but I'd rather see you naked,' which makes the sudden blunt approach a dubious idea.
I'm certainly not saying that's the only reasonable reaction a woman might have to that situation. I think my own reaction might've been to frown on the guy's timing, but otherwise not think about it for more than five minutes. Hard to say though since I wasn't there, for instance he might've seemed vaguely creepy in other ways her brief account didn't convey, sometimes it's the intangibles that raise red flags.

Quite a few years ago now I read an autobiography by an MTF transwoman, can't recall the name, Kathy or Katie then some Jewish surname I think?. There was a chapter where she discussed some of the changes--good, bad and neutral--in how others responded to her as a woman compared to as a man (and judging from the photos she was attractive and 'pass'-able as both, FWIW). One of the more unpleasant recollections involved a man in her neighborhood (who didn't know she was trans) who repeatedly verbally propositioned her in what most people would consider a crude and hostile way, making her feel threatened and uncomfortable. She commented on this in a wryly ironical manner, "Five years ago, these breasts and these hips weren't around to get me in trouble." That stuck in my mind because it's such a good description of what being on the receiving end of the intentionally derisive forms of 'hitting on' feels like--like the visibly female parts of your body are badges of humiliation some bad cosmic joke slapped you with that you'd at times give anything to get rid of. Sure, it's "irrational" and "unhealthy" etc. etc. to internalize it that way, but that's true of all kinds of shame that people from often-stigmatized groups whose social identity is based on appearance struggle with. It seems unrealistic to me to expect that that kind of awareness isn't going to result in some degree of habitual wariness towards situations that might appear neutral or inconsequential to others.
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however, this situation does not seem a precursor to sexual violence in any way at all, and this is the point Dawkins was trying to make i think.
He was pulling the "How dare you whine about the piddling difficulties of being a Western woman when women in Iran et al. are being stoned, mutilated and forced to hide behind veils" trump card. Which is always a lousy counterargument, even when delivered in a relatively understated way, which he certainly didn't. Look, her writing sucks too in its own way, it reads like the half-baked pensées of some college sophomore who hasn't had time yet to digest the subtler points of all those critiques of received wisdom, but there's a big difference between clumsy overreliance on jargon to make your points and the emotional tenor of many of the responses she got (which LJT summarized; it wasn't just Dawkins), which is what her subsequent blogposts were reacting to. I'm pretty sure she heard in much of that the offended-entitlement sentiment BonosSaint was describing ('Bitch! What's your problem, it's a compliment!') and I understand why. That is something very different from the reasonable counter that she perhaps unfairly judged a respectfully delivered proposition to be a disrespectful one.
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i've been hit on by married "heterosexual" men before. do i take this as, "this guy thinks all gays are sluts and will have sex with anyone"? no. i take it as, "this guy really wants to try something with a guy, and he finds me attractive." and i have an easy out in that i'm for all intents and purposes married.
This is an interesting point, but TBH I don't feel like I understand nearly enough about the social dynamic of married 'straight' men hitting on gay men under the assumption openly gay=always available to address it effectively. I would tend to assume as one starting point that gay men, not being women, don't have an especially similar relationship to the idea/fact of their own bodies as sexual attractant as women do, but surely there's a whole lot else informing a moment like that, and that makes me wary of commenting on it as if I understood it.

I could say something, from having seen it (at work) a couple times over the years, about a certain kind of married straight woman who has a habit of propositioning her (straight) male students and younger male colleagues--and, yes, they react somewhat differently to that than women in an analogous position vis-a-vis a man would, though hardly positively I'd say--but it's probably not very applicable.
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and a comment on her blog like this: ...makes me almost feel badly for heterosexual men. how much you put on them, and how little room for error, and how responsible they are for how you feel about yourself.
Yes, rejection is unpleasant, unexpectedly indignant rejection is especially unpleasant, and it's surely true that since men do more propositioning than women they'll experience both more. Sometimes a negative response to being hit on that in truth amounts to little more than "I find you highly unattractive, and therefore am not keen on your attraction to me" can wind up getting reframed in the displeased one's mind as an actual wrong against them in ways that are unfair to the one doing the propositioning; I can recall one instance where I was guilty of this myself, responded in a needlessly hostile way and felt bad about it afterwards, even though the guy counterresponded in an equally hostile way at that point. Sometimes the fear of a polite "No thanks" being responded to aggressively can itself lead in a vicious-circle way (guilt --> defensiveness; internalization stuff again) to a needlessly hostile response, too. I don't think either of these was likely behind the OP scenario, though.
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Old 10-22-2011, 07:29 PM   #19
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I was at the event, though I didn't stay around for the festivities.

I went along to see Dawkins speak, not some blogger called "Skepchick". In any case, her contribution did not particularly impress me. She struck me as a self-publicist with an agenda, so I guess she got what she wanted.

Dawkins is right. Being chatted up in a hotel lift at 3 a.m. is not harassment, still less sexual violence. I hope the guy sues her for defamation, but on the other hand, maybe that would not be a good outcome it just gives her more publicity which is what she probably wants.
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Old 10-22-2011, 08:08 PM   #20
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She never said it was either of those things or even close to it. Nor did she name the guy. Whatever. I'm not surprised her panel contribution was unimpressive, since her writing is certainly fairly described that way.
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