Why Does Talking About Creepers And Harassment Make People So Angry?

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  1. Lizard says:

    You're ruining my popcorn budget, I hope you know.

  2. rmv says:

    Lizard,

    I cleaned out my local supermarket of popcorn, even the pre-popped, flavored crap.

  3. Lizard says:

    Also, semi-serious answer: Because a big part of geek/nerd/SF culture is "We're ever so much more open-minded and tolerant and accepting than THOSE people, who are narrow minded bigots. Why, look! I'm wearing a pentagram and I'm vegan! That proves I'm better!" And this feeds into a classic Geek Fallacy: Being tolerant means you can't call out assholes when they're assholes. "Tolerance" doesn't mean "respect", and it certainly doesn't mean "support".

    It's probably closely related to why people who dedicate their lives to stories of far future technologies have one of the most astounding luddite streaks I've ever encountered… the number of "Ebooks are the death of True Literature!" spiels I've been stuck next to in consuites is astounding.

    And, thirdly — conventions, etc., are probably the only place a lot of these types ever dare talk to girls at all. Telling them they have to learn HOW to do so is (to them) imposing an incredible burden on them. (I only get to play "Rockband" maybe 2-3 times a year, at friends' parties. Wanna bet I'm not going to be as good at is as people who can play every week or every day? Self-evidently, this is a flawed analogy… but the people who subconsciously make it don't perceive the flaws. It *is* unfair to expect someone to be good at a video game without practice. It is NOT unfair to expect someone to know how to talk to women like human beings, no matter how infrequently the opportunity arises. If you don't think you can… don't pick up the controller. Or settle for picking up your own controller, if you get my drift.)

  4. perlhaqr says:

    Why Does Talking About Creepers And Harassment Make People So Angry?

    Well, sometimes, it's because the people "talking" about "creepers" and "harassment" are actually ganging up on people who are just talking about a subject. Like your reference to the "lady writers" kerfluffle from the SFWA magazine. What the fuck else would you expect an article explicitly about early pioneering women in the SF community to be about, other than "lady writers, lady editors, lady illustrators", etc? Yes. The authors of that piece were talking about "lady writers", because the entire point of the article was to talk about how they had broken into the male-dominated field of science fiction writing.

    So, I think people get angry because often times, the people getting angry think the people doing the talking are being self-righteous, overly sensitive morons.

  5. I'll play devil's advocate here.

    You have Doug Mataconis Syndrome. You go after low-hanging fruit re: social issues in order to distinguish yourself as a Tolerant, Enlightened Man of Virtue. As a politically Libertarian fellow, you are at home neither with hard right nor left. But as a man of refined tastes and heightened intellect, you'd (understandably!) rather win the plaudits of the Upper West Side set than the approving grunts of the People of Wal-Mart.

    Your trolling in this regard attracts not only the fringe lunatics, but the slightly-less-fringe indignant contrarian element, who maybe sympathize with the D&D creeps or the PUA creeps, because, hey, they can't (or perhaps couldn't, in their youth) get girls, and they take some of your criticism personally.

    This line of reasoning is supported by parsing your occasional writings on the so-called "PUA community." Implicitly, you suggest women are somehow victims of these gentlemen. You absolve women of their free-will, but the women's rights crowd doesn't mind it in this instance, because you're only denying them credit for their bad decisions. Failure is an orphan, as we know.

    All of this is simply empty kabuki designed to elicit the right reactions from the Right People. No serious intellectual discussion is going to come from "Is it OK for BO-reeking D&D nerds to tell strange women about their rape fantasies?" As a piece of signaling, though, it lets the world know that you are a Thoughtful and Sensitive Man.

    In short, you trollin'. And as one who has bitten the hook, I tip my cap.

  6. InnocentBystander says:

    I think a lot of this stereotype of the "geek" culture has a basis in fact. There tends to be a lot of men and teens who lack social skills. The "asperger's" association with low emotional, high rational intelligence and the "geek" association with the same isn't purely coincidental. Lacking social and interpersonal skills is a very frustrating situation. The failure to adequately socialize with the opposite sex leaves them with the idea that the behavior of their subculture (consisting of like stunted individuals) is "normal". This leaves many hopeless in their attempt to interact in a socially appropriate manner. Pointing out these inadequacies is deeply hurtful in a way that those who are well socialized can never understand. Since they are doing the best they can (and failing miserably), they lash out also in a socially inappropriate manner when criticized.

  7. Adam says:

    Oh my God, I just read through that 2009 thread with Supremacy Claus. Now I wish I'd argued on my Torts final that the reasonable person standard violates the Establishment Clause and procedural due process.

  8. Kasper says:

    I've been around a lot of sexist guys, and I think the root of the issue – what makes this subject so much more controversial than racism or homophobia or any other form of discrimination – is desire.

    Look at it this way:

    A racist doesn't want to sleep with blacks, asians, whoever.
    An anti-Semite doesn't want to sleep with Jews.
    A homophobe doesn't want to sleep with gays.

    But a sexist? He wants to sleep with women.

    Yet look at these guys – they're clearly not the type of men that women want to sleep with, and that makes them angry. Their carnal instinct is that they're being deprived of a right, that these "sluts" are parading around, sleeping with everybody else, but not giving them the one thing they desire so powerfully.

    And that generates a lot of anger, anger that an altered state of mind would see as perfectly righteous. Most of these sexists are guys who never quite figured out how to talk to girls. So they start blaming that fact on the girls. They start blaming that fact on a society that gives girls enough power to say "no". They start blaming that fact on people like you, Ken, who "just don't get it", because – guess what – you know how to talk to girls.

    This is all a gross oversimplification, but I stand by my core theory – what makes this issue different than other forms of discrimination is desire.

  9. Ken White says:

    @perlhaqr:

    Well, sometimes, it's because the people "talking" about "creepers" and "harassment" are actually ganging up on people who are just talking about a subject. Like your reference to the "lady writers" kerfluffle from the SFWA magazine. What the fuck else would you expect an article explicitly about early pioneering women in the SF community to be about, other than "lady writers, lady editors, lady illustrators", etc? Yes. The authors of that piece were talking about "lady writers", because the entire point of the article was to talk about how they had broken into the male-dominated field of science fiction writing.

    Sure, you could parse that particular controversy that way. I'm not saying that the only possible interpretation of the "lady writers" SFWA incident is that the authors in question are big awful sexists. I'm saying that in this culture, when the issue is sexism, people seem disproportionately likely to break out "criticism is censorship" tropes that don't get broken out as much over other skirmishes about politics and nomenclature. You edge towards it with "ganging up on." If all the comments here disagree with my premise, am I being ganged up on?

  10. Orphan says:

    As InnocentBystander alludes to, you're taking a subculture with little social graces, and attacking them for having little social grace.

    These groups, by and large, were formed of and by people without social grace. You're effectively demanding they stop participating in a social group they helped form for people who couldn't fit in with normal society – because they don't fit in with normal society.

  11. Damon says:

    It's heartening to see this addressed and discussed outside of specifically feminist or progressive circles. This blog continues to be one of the best things on the internet.

  12. SarahW says:

    Kaspar nails it, really.

  13. Kevin says:

    To take a random, stream of consciousness stab at answering your question about why the difference in response to race vs gender issues, I'd say it's because there's just a much greater variance in the community of potential victims as to what does and does not constitute harassment… i.e. within the female demographic, there's a very wide variety of opinions/assumptions about where the "line" is – at one end of the spectrum there's tomboyish "just one of the guys" types who WANT to hear, and participate in, locker-room style talk along with the guys, and at then at the other end of the spectrum there's radfems who think that "all sex is rape" etc, and of course there's everything in between. Different women, at different points on this spectrum, can have wildly different opinions about what does and doesn't constitute harassment.

    With race, on the other hand, there's no such spectrum, or at least a dramatically narrower spectrum. For instance, I don't think there are any black people who are OK with white people using the n-word. This means there's much less confusion about where the lines are drawn, so the only people who end up crossing them are racist assholes who are TRYING to cross the line, whereas with gender it can get much more confusing, as men can end up crossing the line due to simple confusion about where exactly the line is, rather than intentional assholery.

  14. Ken White says:

    You go after low-hanging fruit re: social issues in order to distinguish yourself as a Tolerant, Enlightened Man of Virtue. As a politically Libertarian fellow, you are at home neither with hard right nor left. But as a man of refined tastes and heightened intellect, you'd (understandably!) rather win the plaudits of the Upper West Side set than the approving grunts of the People of Wal-Mart.

    Isn't this a form of projection, akin to "mangina" and "white knight" and the like? You're assuming you know my motives based on your ordering of the universe. Yet you have read here long enough to know perfectly well that one of my favorite themes is making fun of people who over-react to criticism and mistake it for censorship or tyranny.

    This line of reasoning is supported by parsing your occasional writings on the so-called "PUA community." Implicitly, you suggest women are somehow victims of these gentlemen. You absolve women of their free-will, but the women's rights crowd doesn't mind it in this instance, because you're only denying them credit for their bad decisions. Failure is an orphan, as we know.

    It's not clear to me how discussing obnoxious behavior is absolving its targets of agency. I don't advocate speech-restrictive laws limiting PUAs from being PUSs. I advocate mocking and criticizing them.

    No serious intellectual discussion is going to come from "Is it OK for BO-reeking D&D nerds to tell strange women about their rape fantasies?" As a piece of signaling, though, it lets the world know that you are a Thoughtful and Sensitive Man.

    Perhaps not. But there are plenty of people who will argue, with a straight face, that (1) I am part of a fascist speech-suppressive movement that will Destroy America, (2) that the evil wimmenz wants to take their talks away, (3) that criticism and ridicule are equivalent to official censorship, (4) that extrajudicial racist murder is an apt comparison to being criticized for creeping on strangers, and so on.

  15. Jim Crider says:

    I'm not sure I'd characterize Theodore Beale as "alarmingly close to the mainstream", but his ranting on this and other subjects makes me wonder just how someone sharing my natal year could be so obviously born at least one millennium later than his personality fits…

    That said, is it okay if I get the popcorn ready?

  16. Ken White says:

    @Orphan:

    As InnocentBystander alludes to, you're taking a subculture with little social graces, and attacking them for having little social grace.

    These groups, by and large, were formed of and by people without social grace. You're effectively demanding they stop participating in a social group they helped form for people who couldn't fit in with normal society – because they don't fit in with normal society.

    I understand this argument. But I'm not sure I agree.

    First, my credentials: I am a socially awkward unattractive person who has always had trouble speaking with strangers, particularly women.

    But I don't think that means it is awful to ask me to refrain from, for instance, groping people or staring at their chests.

    Perhaps the problem is, in part, one of communication. When you read the links above – the stories from women who experience harassment — most of what they talk about is (to me) very clearly over the line, not merely a matter of "I have difficulty figuring out how to act." But perhaps some people are getting a different message about interacting at all.

  17. KC says:

    @kaspaer – I can't believe I hadn't thought of it that way before.
    @kevin – I agree, that's part of the issue too.

    Another issue I'm glad to see addressed here, where folks actually use intellect and rationality.

  18. Irk says:

    You live and speak in a culture that has, in recent decades, increasingly had its patriarchy challenged. You should expect tantrums, shouting, fighting, name-calling, and fingers-in-the-ears-la-la-la-pretending-I-can't-hear-your-rational-observations.

    You should expect pleas based on free speech overruling the right to complain or disagree, dissent being equated with censorship, and accusations that people are being "shut down" by political correctness.

    There will be some drivel about people just wanting to "have fun", that women and women-allying men are "no fun anymore" and that no one can "take a joke". Bonus points for free speech pleas as relating to jokes.

    Most of all, despite their claims to be dedicated to free speech, the opposition will try to batter and harangue you in an attempt to make you stop speaking out of pure exhaustion and frustration. If it helps, if you were a woman (or LGBTQ or any type of identity which by its very existence conflicts with the default assumptions of machismo-ridden masculine-dominant identity), you would be experiencing ten times the abuse, and you would have already been experiencing that abuse for your entire life previous, so you would already be very tired.

    This culture actively makes it difficult to defend women. This is something that will not change for awhile. So yes, expect rage, expect yelling, expect threats and moments of outright befuddling oddball weirdness in the name of defending a type of masculinity that has become outdate for quite awhile, but doesn't want to die. And thank you for speaking up despite it all.

  19. Hypozeuxis says:

    A comment in yet another discussion of this same theme pointed out that the "poor social skills" excuse is not an explanation if the same people are aware enough not to make similar comments to (or take similar actions against) female cops, reporters, receptionists in busy public buildings, etc.

    There's a huge difference between "not knowing it's wrong" and "knowing you can get away with it".

  20. janetl says:

    Kaspar definitely puts a finger on some of it, but not all. There are plenty of men with wives and girlfriends who are also fiercely objecting to posts like this one.

    When an article is published that objects to racism or anti-semitism — or whatever -ism other than sexism — the readers aren't particularly interested in defending it (at least not publicly). But sexism steps on a privilege they're using every day, and do not consider a "privilege". It's painful to confront yourself with the fact that you're treating half of the human race poorly, so it's natural to lash out at the messenger.

  21. Dave Ruddell says:

    Oh Paranoia. Ken, I am not surprised that you played that one (as did I). The main problem was, of course, that the best jokes were for the GM. Unless you were the GM.

  22. SJD says:

    We live in US for about 2 decades, and talking about these topics consistently make us (both husband and wife) bored. Not angry. Bored. Sorry for non-contribution to the discussion.

  23. Because guys are just as cowardly, venal, and insecure as any of the other options out there.

  24. Lizard says:

    @Orphan: By framing the issue as "the social group consists of nerdy guys who can't talk to girls, and it's not fair to ask them to learn", you basically say "the girls aren't part of the social group" — which sort of fits the definition of bigoted/exclusionary behavior.

    Women in F/SF fandom aren't outsiders telling the fandom how to act. They are PART of the fandom, and have as much say in the consensus rules for social behavior as anyone else. This issue is getting attention precisely because of the attitude that some fans are more equal than others, that some active participants in a subculture have no right or standing to comment on the very subculture they're a part of.

    Of course, there's a tiny handful of people who will seek controversy so that they can try to ride the outrage for their own aggrandizement, or run pell-mell into a hornet's nest and scream "Waaah! I've been stung!" — but they're safely and easily ignored, and trying to make the entire issue out to be just a few outsider busybodies clucking their teeth is not a valid or useful argument.

  25. Orphan says:

    Ken –

    There are three components to it. I'm not sure if you grew up being called "creepy" because you're bad at social interaction (I knew a guy in high school who was about 4' tall who got called creepy just for -talking- to girls, not even doing badly at it – "creepy" is really just an offensive and sexist epithet in many people's eyes), but many of these guys have, and these are -literally- the only social groups they're accepted in. Many of them have tried and failed to get better, so to them, the message you're sending is indeed "Get out."

    Second, there's a strong double standard. Nobody complained or would act against the girl who followed one of the guys from my CS program around talking about sex and showing him furry rape cartoons. You don't hear about the girls doing the same kind of thing; it's just not talked about. The girls in these groups really are just as defective as the boys, or shall I say -were-, which brings me to the third component –

    Nerd culture is being overrun by normal people, it's been entering the mainstream steadily but surely for years. It's hard for many of them not to get resentful of the fact that their safe havens aren't safe anymore, and that they are in fact being kicked out.

  26. Daniel Taylor says:

    Why does it make people angry?
    Because it is objectifying to both men and women the way it is usually discussed.

    Men are treated as mysogynist assholes, and women are treated as thin-skinned whiners.

  27. Anonymous Coward says:

    Perhaps the difference with sexism is that, unlike race, the differences between the sexes are basically present in all populations across all cultures and thus seem more comfortable to certain people. Perhaps it is due to the fact that, unlike with racial prejudice, there actually are true, scientifically-accepted differences between the sexes (not that it justifies anything). Perhaps it is simply that the world is full of people who are deeply frustrated sexually, or harbor emotional scars inflicted by some past member of the opposite sex.

    I happen to like the abundance of sexual frustration theory. It certainly isn't helped by our culture's strange, prudish taboos on human sexuality. Especially since they somehow exist side-by-side with constant exposure to titillation and violence in our media.

    Note: I realize now that there is some other fella that goes by the name "that anonymous coward". I'm not trying to troll him. I took my name from Slashdot.

  28. Nobody says:

    My popcorn stock had declined without Prenda news, Lizard.

  29. sorrykb says:

    Not Claude Akins wrote:

    This line of reasoning is supported by parsing your occasional writings on the so-called "PUA community." Implicitly, you suggest women are somehow victims of these gentlemen. You absolve women of their free-will, but the women's rights crowd doesn't mind it in this instance

    WTF NCA?!!? [deep breath] I am trying to be polite, here. … Do you mean to say that a woman who was harassed at a convention is at fault for failing to exercise her free will to… what? not attend? Because it certainly sounds like that's what you mean. It sounds like you're saying that this sort of behavior just comes with the territory, and people should just "put up and shut up" because that's how it's always been and they should just be thankful that they're even *allowed* to be there. …
    Count me as part of the women's rights crowd (aka the human rights crowd) for calling that attitude complete bullshit. Ken's welcome in that crowd too, pink shirt or not.

  30. Orphan says:

    Lizard –

    If a group of men don't want women to join them, do women really have the right to force it?

    You're wrong, as Ken is wrong, in making it a men-women thing; defective people exist on both sides, we just overlook it when it's women being defective. But even if you were correct, is that really a position worth having? Is it really -wrong- for men who are unable to interact with women to form a social group free of women so that they can feel human?

  31. Chris says:

    Well, we've already had "patriarchy" and "privilege" mentioned. Now all I need is for someone to say "rape culture" I'll be close to a bingo!

  32. OneIsOneAndOneIsFree says:

    People will keep jumping up and down on your lawn.

    I also have to say though that the reaction to allegations of sexism in geek culture is not that different to reactions to broadly based accusations of racism. There is plenty of data and strong arguments pointing to the conclusion that our current society is still institutionally racist. Black people are still being shown fewer homes than white people with an equivalent background (but are actually being served, a big improvement). People with "black sounding" names getting fewer callbacks for interviews. Black people get significantly harsher sentences than white people for the same crime and so on and so forth. However the argument that our society is indeed still racist and that many of us help perpetuate this through our talk and action, generally without really intending to, gets huge pushback.

    Anyway, moving back on topic. A previous comment about "locker room talk" to me sheds some important light on the situation. It isn't an issue limited to geek culture it is an issue tied to what used to be traditionally male social circles. I'm pretty sure you'd see the same kind of talk and behavior in fraternities, sports teams and the likes. The reason why the clash of cultures has become marked in gaming rather than these other areas as it's the only one where a significant female presence has built up.

    In short, I don't think that it can be laid down to the fact that geeks are uniquely socially maladjusted. It has more to do with what attitudes are perceived as generally macho and how these become parts of communities where women are excluded.

  33. Speaking as one of the participants in the "how to report harassment" thread Ken mentions above, I will second his remarks but from a different point of view.

    The 'convention security' folks these things would be reported to? That would be me. I work as security at various genre conventions every year, at least two of which are pretty damned big. There are always a few harassment complaints at each of these, and if they seem credible, it's my job to speak with the accused. This is always a delicate situation, and I approach each instance with full knowledge that I have only one side of the story and that I am not a policeman, lawyer or judge.

    I don't keep easily quantifiable reports, but IMHO a very significant percentage of the time the accused instantly becomes angry and defiant. Common responses include "I was just being friendly," " can't take a joke," "how dare you/he/she accuse me?" and so forth.

    This behavior is very different from the responses in other security incidents. Without going into the details on what those responses are (tho they do often include anger), the critical difference is the immediate blame of the other for perceiving the actions as harassment. Sometimes there is denial of the specifics, and sometimes a very different perception as to what was said or done, but the anger is immediate and focused on the reporter (yes, there is often anger at me as well, but that's not different from any other incident).

    Some of the comments above are correct, eg, that harassment is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. What I see as significantly different is that a significant percentage of the accused and the accuseds supporters immediately put the entire onus of the misunderstanding on the reporting person, and do so with great vehemence. An angry "If he was offended, that's his problem" is far too common a response; far more frequent than any other type of perception/reality situation.

    As an example of a different situation, we work a number of conventions where people attempt to get by without getting a room. When I suggest that a the person 'resting' that laying down on the couch with eyes closed is seen as 'sleeping' by the hotel, they almost never go off on an angry rant about my or the hotel's misperceptions. When I suggest sitting up and having eyes open to avoid problems, they usually take that with good grace. I've never once had someone state that it's the hotels problem for misunderstanding what he was doing.

    But man, if you make a suggestion to an accused about modifying his behavior with that particular person about perceived harassment, more often than not it's met with immediate anger and blaming the accuser.

    Yeah, Ken's right. The reaction is distinctly different. I saw it in the thread he mentions, and I see it regularly in the actual incidents.

  34. Sorry, "suggest that a the person" should be "suggest to the person."

  35. Sex is the #1, primal, biological, evolutionary, prime directive in the male of the species. It's the just about strongest instinct men feel (aside from "don't get killed," which most men with time to kill on the Internet spend a lot less time worrying about than men did back in cave-man days), and one of the most primitive. As far as biology is concerned, sex is more important than eating or drinking, more important than sleeping, and certainly a hell of a lot more important than thinking that guy over there with the different skin color or religion is inferior to you.

    As a result, thinking about sex causes strong, irrational, primal emotions in men.

    I like to think that most men, by the time they are adults, understand that part of what it means to live as a civilized person in a civilized society is to control one's strong, irrational, primitive emotions. Most men know that even if their inner cave man is telling them to walk up to the woman in spandex on the other side of the convention hall and give her a good squeeze, that's not something it's OK for them to do.

    But most is not all. There will always be some percentage of man who can't or won't keep it under control. And when you say something that makes those men feel threatened, and the thing they're being threatened about is sex, they react in an irrational, primal way.

    (I'm reposting this with a word deleted which I think caused the comment to be put into the moderation queue instead of posted. Go figure.)

  36. Mike says:

    A combination of effects, I think. My feeling on geek culture especially is that:

    1) It is a culture largely formed and defined by males.
    2) It is this way because women have traditionally rejected it *and the men involved in it.*
    3) None of those males particularly wanted to be rejected.

    This isn't a males only board room or golf club or even tree house.. This where all of the nerds went to entertain themselves while all of their classmates were getting laid. And now the girls that rejected them are showing an interest in their hobby… but not in the boys themselves. They are, in fact, telling them that the way they act in their little reject corner is inappropriate and should be changed to match how the girls think they should act.

    Most people are resistant to this kind of thing. Heck, you see it in feminist boards if you go try to hang out there as a man who disagrees with how they conduct themselves in it (call someone out for using the word "mansplaining" and watch the sparks fly).

    Now, pile on top of that the fact that the guys do not want to be rejected – they want to be liked by these girls, but fail at it for various social reasons… and so the girl is dominant, and they are losers. So they fall back on attack to reassert dominance.

    I think that's what brings out the real crazy haters, anyway.

    I think there's plenty of *other* reasons these topics attract millions of non-crazy arguments, mostly centering around the availability of extremists on both sides combined with the lack of real social consensus on where the lines defining the sides even are.

  37. Mike says:

    @SteveSimmons I am curious if this is a universal reaction to being seen as "offensive." Being called offensive almost consistently means "you should agree with my viewpoint on what is correct behavior, and be ostracized if you do not." That's a pretty big power grab over someone, without a real counter other than appeals to a consensus view of what other people consider to be offensive.

    This is entirely independent of whether the person was offensive or how they were being offensive.

  38. Evelyn says:

    Well, two things make people angry:

    One: actual harassment is rather rare, and offense is usually deliberately taken way beyond what is reasonable (for example, the 'dongle joke' at Pycon).

    Two: people who take offense (like you for example) tend to want to smear the entire community for the supposed actions of a few and declare everyone guilty.

    Add to that your fervor (which you amply displayed in your overly emotional post) and it's easy to see that most people don't have time for that kind of (actual) harassment by you, and react angrily.

    And what do female geeks think? We'd like you go and rescue someone else pls, because your 'help' is making men afraid of our presence, in case they say or do something which could be (somehow) construed as harassment and make their life hell and might cost them their livelihood.

    In other words, your knightly actions and quest for public sainthood are resulting in geeky women being turned into pariahs that everyone has actual reason to be afraid of.

  39. lelnet says:

    It'll be a lot easier to discuss things rationally when we can:

    1. Define "harassment" in such a way as to ensure that a person can know with a reasonable degree of certainty, in advance of engaging in any given behavior, whether or not that behavior would constitute harassment.
    2. Get everyone to agree that any behavior which is "harassment" _is harassment_, regardless of the subjective opinions of the parties involved, and likewise any behavior which is "not harassment" remains not harassment, regardless of the opinions of the parties.

    Good luck with either of those.

    (It would also be nice, of course, to have a consistent definition of what sort of response to opinions with which one disagrees is permissible, and what sort isn't. Clearly violence is inappropriate, as is prison. Just as clearly, it's totally fine to deny such persons access to a forum which they do not themselves own, such as — hypothetically — the Popehat.com comment threads. But how about the launching of mass campaigns to cost a person his or her employment? How about getting them blacklisted from their entire profession? Or, for that matter, how about banning them from participating in a forum belonging to an association in which they are dues-paying members, and thus at least arguably co-owners?)

  40. Dan Weber says:

    I think I've cited it before, but I can't remember it now, but geeks have frequently been The Excludee, and hate being The Excludor for kicking someone out. This is often self-destructive to the community but it's real.

    Moreover, geeks can easily imagine themselves in the creeper's shoes. It's not harassment if it is welcomed, and attractive people can get away with more stuff that normal people cannot, and normal people can get away with stuff the socially awkward cannot. They want to see the socially awkward shmoe get lucky.

    Lizard's last paragraph in his 10:30am comment is probably accurate, too.

  41. @Orphan There's nothing wrong with a group of men who want to hang out with other men to do that.

    But that's not what we're talking about here, and claiming that it is, is a big, huge, bright red herring.

    Go to the folks who run any Con and ask them, "Is this a men-only event?" Go to the vast majority of the men attending the Con and ask them, "Is this a men-only event?" You will get the same answer in both cases: no, no, a hundred times no.

    Even most of the men who behave boorishly toward women at Cons aren't going to tell you they don't want the women there, since they're just as eager as anybody for the chance to score with them.

    There may be a small, small minority of men at these Cons who miss the days when there were nearly no women active in geekdom and would rather that were still the case. To suggest that those men have the right and authority to define the social mores for the entire group is asinine.

    And to suggest that it's the women's fault they're being harassed because they shouldn't have come to the Cons / involved themselves with the group in the first place is not only asinine, it's offensively stupid and sexist.

  42. sorrykb says:

    Orphan wrote:

    If a group of men don't want women to join them, do women really have the right to force it?

    I thought Lizard made it fairly clear, but I'll explain again. No one's forcing their way into your home. A con is a COMMUNITY place. The fact that you see this as an intrusion by women into the male community is a key part of this problem. Someone joked about the term "privilege" being used in this thread, but isn't this exactly what we're seeing? Some members of a privileged group not used to the status quo being challenged?
    I don't buy into the sort of Geek/Con Cultural Relativism argument that says that sexism is a key part of geekdom and should be tolerated. Women are not outsiders in the sci-fi/geek/comic/whatever culture, we are a PART of the culture.
    P.S. Now I'm angry too. Thanks a lot, Ken. ;-P

  43. sorrykb says:

    One more thing (sorry)
    Orphan:

    Nobody complained or would act against the girl who followed one of the guys from my CS program around talking about sex and showing him furry rape cartoons.

    Someone *should* have acted about that. Reported it to the Dean, the school, someone, because YES, that is harassment.

  44. @Irk: At least in my experience, free speech is rarely cited as justification for what was said. That could be because we rarely take action on remarks unless a complaint comes via a person to whom the remark was specifically directed.

    @Hypozeuxis: Poor social skills are often the cause of offensive remarks. But in my experience most people (read: geeks) with poor social skills recognize that and are attentive to suggestions for improvement. Provided, of course, that they are couched in the right manner.

    @Orphan, in re your second point on double standard: I tell you from real-world experience that we get complaints from both women and men about both women and men. Yes, men offending women is more frequent. But it's not simply a double standard. It comes from and to pretty much every possible angle. It's just more frequent for men to give offense to women, IMHO due to our legacy patriarchal culture.

    And in re your third point, some part of that is nerds in nerd culture actually learning from mistakes.

    @Daniel wrote:

    Why does it make people angry?
    Because it is objectifying to both men and women the way it is usually discussed.

    Men are treated as mysogynist assholes, and women are treated as thin-skinned whiners.

    This is often true about the discussions of the issue in general, but when it comes to handling complaints anyone who treats men as mysogynists or women as whiners is doing it wrong. And Ken is talking about the discussions, so I think he's got the right of it here.

  45. Mike says:

    @sorrykb They should have, but they didn't, because female privilege.

    More seriously, what really drives the issue isn't the speech, but the power behind the speech. A woman is afraid of a guy telling her his rape fantasies because she believes he has the power to follow through on them. A man may find a woman telling him her rape fantasies weird, but woman-on-male rape is so against popular culture, and more unlikely physically, so he didn't feel threatened enough to report it.

  46. MEP says:

    Most sexism is casual, thoughtless sexism. Most of it is so ingrained in our culture (all culture, not just geek culture) that people don't even see it as being sexist. Imagine if someone walked up to you and said that shaving was insensitive, it makes bearded people feel excluded. You'd think that person was a proper nutter, and you'd probably try to ignore them. If they refused to leave you alone though, pushing their bearded agenda in your face every time you walk down the street or open a magazine, you'd get frustrated. You might even get angry.

    For the guys who defend sexism, that's what it feels like. They are literally brainwashed into thinking their behavior is just normal, a lifestyle choice or a personal grooming choice like shaving. The issue of sexism does not compare to the notional issue of "shaving", but the reaction to it does. These guys are literally so incapable of relating to the female experience that they don't even recognize their own inability to relate to it. They really do believe that their behavior reflects some kind of natural order, and that anyone who fights it is fighting against their own (our own) nature.

    And even though not a single one of them could put it into those words, even though not a single one of them would willingly admit to that if it were put to them, that's exactly what it is. Most sexism is blind. Most sexism is casual, natural and thoughtless. If any of them actually stopped to think, rather than instinctively react, they'd instantly be ashamed. But people have an incredible capacity for rage when introspection would otherwise cause them to change.

    People are amazingly adept at fighting personal growth and improvement if it means changing their own sense of who they are. We fight to the death to preserve our sense of identity, and for some people, thoughtfulness is the greatest threat to their sense of self. Dogma isn't always something we declare in speeches or write in lengthy declarations. Sometimes, dogma is just our fear of being someone other than who we think we already are.

  47. @Orphan "…Second, there's a strong double standard. Nobody complained or would act against the girl who followed one of the guys from my CS program around talking about sex and showing him furry rape cartoons. You don't hear about the girls doing the same kind of thing; it's just not talked about. The girls in these groups really are just as defective as the boys…"

    My first reaction, having both been Con security AND having interposed myself on my own initiative in a few situations like that (i.e.: when an overly aggressive female was terrorizing a non-social male) is "bullshit".

    Having said that, what you cite is a problem, and it it should get reported same-same.

    The trick is, of course, that's is a drop of water in a raging -ing river compared to the flip side of the equation (To Be Blunt: men harass women a HELL of a lot more at cons than vice versa.)

    What I find interesting is how often men getting harassed or touting double-standards as if we're supposed to leave the men alone. I say crack down on it all.

    As far as the comment about "Normal People" I will simply quote:
    "'Weird' is a relative, not an absolute" – Baron Frank-N-Furter

    Otherwise, I would just have to say "bullshit" again.

  48. Syd says:

    I see some discussion of the effect of desire and how a lot of the guys at these sorts of things aren't as familiar with women as guys in other subcultures (climbing, or something?). For me, it comes down to a hybrid of these two things.

    I prettymuch only date within the gamer subculture. I'm not trying to criticize geeky guys as being bad with women. I love geeky/scifi nerds because I am one, and I like dating people who share my interests. That said, on average, I'm the first or second girlfriend a lot of my partners have. I don't really get that – I only date people who I think are amazing and attractive, so I'm not sure why I'm one of the only people who's noticed how awesome they are – but it seems to be a trend. I've dated a couple of people who don't read a lot of scifi or game, and they've been a lot more experienced with women.

    I think part of the reaction from gamer-guys comes from not having a lot of women respond positively to them because honestly, most women don't share their interests. It's just hard to have a conversation with people with whom they have nothing in common. Then, at cons or other events where the women there DO share their interests, it's more frustrating to get a bad reaction. These are the women that DO share their interests. These are the women that SHOULD like them. The average woman on the street who doesn't know what a "FPS" or "RTS" or D10 is, it makes a lot of sense that she doesn't like a guy who spends a significant portion of his free time doing something she has no interest in. It's kindof like how I think guys who spend a lot of their free time out dancing or painting are boring. They're nice people, but I just don't have anything to say to them. I also don't care when these people reject me. There's no reason we should click. When a guy who shares my interests rejects me, though, I feel terrible. I don't call him gay or a misogynist or something, but I feel angry, hurt, and confused – he should like me, we have so much we could talk about! I think it's the same way for guys at cons – they get why the girl who's into painting and salsa dancing doesn't really feel like dating them, but it doesn't really make any sense when the girl who's a gold starcraft player and also just loved the last novel by John Scalzi doesn't want to hang out. That's the girl they should have a good shot with, and it feels a lot worse when she's not interested.

    Again, I'm not saying nerdboys are bad with women, but there are a lot fewer women who share their interests than with the guy who likes more mainstream activities. So when the salsa dancing girl rejects the salsa dancing guy, he's probably not going to yell about it because there are another dozen salsa dancer girls. But there aren't that many gamer girls, so each chance has a much higher value and resultantly a higher level of disappointment when it doesn't pan out.

  49. @lelnet Defining what constitutes harassing behavior is entirely beside the point of the question Ken asked. He asked why people react with such vehemence to discussions of this sort. That's almost entirely independent of whether the people engaging in said discussions agree on what does and doesn't constitute harassment.

    Having said that, in my opinion, claiming that the problem is that we don't agree on what harassment is just one small step away from blaming the victims of said harassment. Sure, there may be some grey areas. Sure, there may be instance in which a woman gives mixed signals, or the man at the receiving end of those signals is too clueless to read them properly. But I think Ken made it quite clear cases like that are not what he's talking about.

    Example: Touching the breasts or butt of a woman you don't know may be OK at a kink party or if you've just handed her a couple C-notes for the privilege. Otherwise, there's no ambiguity about it: you're a creep, and what you've just done is not ok. There's no question about the fact that this kind of thing happens at Cons. It does happen, and ignoring it so we can pretend we're all just arguing about what "harassment" really means is foolish.

    Example 2: If you proposition a woman at a Con and she turns you down, once, that's probably not harassment. But if you keep following her around the Con, propositioning her repeatedly for the entire weekend, there's no ambiguity there: you're harassing her, and you're being a creep, and it's not ok.

  50. Ken White says:

    @Evelyn:

    Well, two things make people angry:

    One: actual harassment is rather rare, and offense is usually deliberately taken way beyond what is reasonable (for example, the 'dongle joke' at Pycon).

    This is an empirical assertion. What is the support for it? In my post, I linked to numerous people describing experiences of what they saw as harassment. I thought that perception, based on their descriptions, was not unreasonable, and in some cases clearly right. Shouldn't, by your assertion, there be a whole lot of complaints out there describing conduct that clearly isn't harassment?

    Two: people who take offense (like you for example) tend to want to smear the entire community for the supposed actions of a few and declare everyone guilty.

    I missed the part where I declared everyone guilty. (Note, by the way, the use of language: "declare everyone guilty" suggests some sort of official oppression or proceeding or consequence, when what is actually being discussed is people discussing their own views in the marketplace of ideas. This is typical, and on the spectrum with "lynch mob," etc.)

    I have said that the community has issues, which I believe is correct.

    Add to that your fervor (which you amply displayed in your overly emotional post)

    To be fair to me, I saw a gif of a dog cuddling a kitten this morning on Reddit and I'm still a little verklempt.

    and it's easy to see that most people don't have time for that kind of (actual) harassment by you, and react angrily.

    Note, again, exactly the sort of rhetoric I am talking about. Writing about my own views on my own blog, which no one is obligated to visit, is somehow "(actual) harassment", akin to groping someone's ass or asking a stranger her cup size or something. Because the right not to have your views or conduct criticized by anyone anywhere is the equivalent of the right not to be groped.

    And what do female geeks think? We'd like you go and rescue someone else pls, because your 'help' is making men afraid of our presence, in case they say or do something which could be (somehow) construed as harassment and make their life hell and might cost them their livelihood.

    In other words, your knightly actions and quest for public sainthood are resulting in geeky women being turned into pariahs that everyone has actual reason to be afraid of.

    Do you speak for all female geeks? That's impressive. What's the election like? Is it on YouTube?

    Also: let me assume for the sake of argument that you are a female geek, as you suggest. [I don't think that makes your pronouncements about female geekery unsustainable, but that's neither here nor there.]

    Do you genuinely crave the society of men who are afraid of you because they've been told not to harass women?

  51. Wondering says:

    I think Lizard is spot on with the Geek Fallacy explanation. It's an attitude that "Hey, we're geeks/nerds and are accepting of people with differences and not like those jerky, bullying jocks/frat boys. We can't possibly be treating people badly because we are the victims of being treated badly." And so there is a lot of defensiveness when those folks are called out on treating other people badly.

    Kasper, I disagree with your statement that racists don't want to sleep with racial minorities. There are a lot of men who have weird, racist fetishes about Asian women who want to sleep with those Asian women. Frequently, those fetishes are accompanied by outright racist attitudes toward Asian men. There's a Tumblr page, Creepy White Guys, that shows examples of this sort of thing happening on OK Cupid.

    Mike, I wholeheartedly disagree with your premise that women are newly coming to be part of the nerd community. We have always been part of it, though our presence has frequently been elided. I grew up a nerd (I'm approaching 40), and most of my nerd friends were girls/women. However, in our groups, we mainly hung out with each other and didn't spend time with nerd guys for reasons like what Ken describes at the convention: Being treated poorly by guy nerds. And similar instances of rooms going quiet and our breasts being stared out when we walked in, of being followed when we said to please leave us alone, of having furry rape pictures with the female rape victim crying shown to us by the artist and being asked to comment on the artistic quality of the drawing, and more recently of being called Fake Nerd Girls. Who wants to be around that sort of behavior? Not me and my female nerd friends. A lot of other women stayed part of those male groups and went along to get along, but they were also always there. This is our community, too, not a male-members-only space like frats or football teams or the priesthood. So, we have been here. Always. We are not new. We are not invading "your" space. Recently, some women have started speaking out, loudly. And an avalanche of women speaking out has followed, but the situations being described? Also not new.

    Orphan, your comment about no one complaining about women following men around but complaining about men following women around? I think you're overlooking, intentionally or accidentally, the different power and danger dynamic there. As someone much wiser than me has said, "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them." Those are perhaps ultimate, not immediate fears, but there's a reason for the different levels of reaction to similar behaviors depending on the genders of the harasser vs the harassed.

    Ken, yes, I think people will continue to jump on your lawn. But thank you for talking about this.

  52. @sorrykb I believe I have failed to communicate my point to you.

    @chris – How many points for heteronormative?

    @Ken White – Well, I retract half my argument, anyway. Not sure which half.

    Trying to grope my way back to the main thrust, here: "Sexism" as an issue is generally owned by the hard-left Marxist theorist types. I think Chris alludes to this in his bon mot above (and please forgive me if I'm putting words in your mouth, Chris). I take a negative-liberty approach to this sort of thing, and am quite distrustful of the left side of the aisle, even if we do agree on substance that non-consensual groping is not a good thing. Which is my way of saying that disagreeing with you might be a senseless emotional reaction on my part.

    Beyond that: What Orphan said. And also, this:

    First they came for the reeking misogynist neckbeards,
    but I did not speak up, for I had showered and shaved that week.
    Then they came for the Warhammer players,
    but I did not speak, for I did not partake of table-top gaming.
    Then they came for the Magic players,
    but I said nothing, because srsly, what a money-sink.
    And when they came for the moderately-socially-skilled closet nerd,
    there was no one left to speak for me.

  53. lelnet says:

    "Then, at cons or other events where the women there DO share their interests, it's more frustrating to get a bad reaction."

    Being frustrated when someone you're interested in doesn't return that desire is part of the human condition. People need to get used to it, and mostly they do.

    Being angry when the person who doesn't return your desire, instead of simply saying "no" as civilized people do, tries to get you fired from your job, blacklisted from your profession, and/or forcibly ejected from an event you've already paid a substantial amount of your own money to attend, is also part of the human condition. People need to get used to that, too, but a lot of otherwise very intelligent and perceptive ones go online and act as if anger is an unreasonable response to this sort of situation.

  54. Oh Dear God….
    @Orphan: "If a group of men don't want women to join them, do women really have the right to force it?"

    So…let…me…see…if…I…have…this…straight…

    "Women are forcing themselves into a group, so we sexually harass them with our attraction to them?" I ask because…that's kinda what it reads like.

    What's next? "Sexism is part of the Cultural Heritage of Western Culture so we need to act to preserve it?" A "Society for Creative Misogyny" mayhaps?

    Seriously, if a group of "men" and I use this term imprecisely, wants to have a Convention called "Sausage-Con" all power to 'em. That's not the case, so stop BS'ing like "Tha Gurls" trying to take our toys away, hm?

    @Steve Simmons is nicely nailing anything I would say from a "I've been con security" standpoint, so +1 his comments.

  55. David W says:

    Honestly, I think it's two pieces. First, there's people like 'Irk' above, who consider me automatically guilty for having a gender. 'Patriarchy', 'All Men Are Rapists', and so on, and pretty soon people decide that they can either stand with the creeps, or take fire from both sides. There's even some of that going on from you, Ken: you seem to be accusing 'the culture' of gaming for this fault. I'm a gamer. Therefore you're accusing me. Even though I've not actually done anything. I honestly don't think I've even befriended anyone who would act the way you describe. Few things make me as angry as over-general accusations.

    Oh, yeah, and one more bit. People who are willing to accuse me of being a patriarchial mouth-breathing sexist pig for existing – well, they make it hard to believe the stories are real. After all, I know they're wrong about me.

    Still, if it weren't for factor two, I could ignore the subject, or try to scold the real assholes if I ever ran into one. Add in the law, though, and I'm involved whether I want to be or not.

    This is one of the areas of law where it's *very* easy to get in serious trouble though no fault of your own. Or at least, that's what it seems like as a non-lawyer – I'd be glad if you could prove me wrong.

    – There's no physical evidence. Most sexist comments are going to be in person. Most real harassment happens in person, without witnesses.
    – Guilt is in the mind of the listener, not any objective standard.
    – You don't sue a person, you sue an organization, so the jury's likely to be biased. Too much 'they can afford it and she needs the money' sentiment, instead of 'is he actually guilty beyond a reasonable doubt'. Of course, if a jury punishes my employer, I can count on losing my job.
    – False accusations can be profitable.

    If I want to avoid being punished for murder, I have to…not murder anyone. Ok, that's easy enough. I can't even imagine how or why someone would frame me.

    If I want to avoid being punished for rape, I have to not rape anyone, and also avoid sex with people who are unstable and don't like me. Which is frankly a bad idea regardless. Ok, theoretically I can see getting in trouble for an innocent act, but practically?

    If I want to avoid being punished for harassment, I've got to not do it, and also be lucky enough not to work with anyone who might decide it's profitable to sue. I have no control over my coworkers, just my own actions, and that's not enough to make me safe.

    That's a bit of a tangent – and yet not much of one at all, because that lightning could strike me at any time. I'm reminded of it any time the subject comes up, so I'm automatically feeling a little defensive and scared. Then people start ranting about Patriarchy and Rape Culture and…well, you do the math.

  56. @David W

    I think your claim that "Irk" "consider [you] automatically guilty for having a gender" is entirely unsupported by what Irk wrote.

    I also don't think most men spend as much of their time as you seem to think they should worrying about getting sued for sexual harassment.

    I don't think it's particularly difficult for a man to live his life in a way which makes false claims of harassment against him extremely unlikely, while at the same time not significantly curtailing his likelihood of getting laid.

    In short, I'm not buying what you're selling.

  57. haelduksf says:

    @Not Claude Akins

    Judging from the comments here, you'll be fine. There are plenty of people speaking up for the misogynists.

  58. Dan Weber says:

    Ah, I found the page I was thinking of earlier: Geek Social Fallacies.

    (Google-Chrome calls it a phishing site, and their webhost has suspended their account, so maybe they got hacked. Here is an archive I think is safe.)
    http://web.archive.org/web/20130328034735/http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html

    I don't think it's 100% accurate, but #1 seems quite on target.

  59. Lizard says:

    @Orphan:
    a)Hey, if you want to hold ManlyCon and say "No Gurlz Aloud!", that's your right. I think doing this could be interesting; at least some of the people attracted will be men generally uninterested in women (NTTAWWT), and it could lead to some possible case studies in what unwanted sexual attention is like.

    b)If you feel "women following men around talking about furry rape" aren't reported, then, put on your big boy pants and REPORT THEM. Name names. Take photos. Get proof. Do whatever you have to and force people to either come up with some weird defense of their double standards that we can all laugh at, or agree that, yeah, in this age of equality and liberation, women can be creepy stalkers, too.

    c)As I often point, usually to leftists, who go on about "cultural appropriation" and similar bafflegab… cultures don't have owners. Cultures are consensus things, changing moment by moment, the sum of the values of the people who compose them. The definition and boundaries and rules are constantly in flux. You can't (sensibly) argue "They've invaded our culture!", when it wasn't yours to begin with. There were a lot of Napoleonic gamers who got apoplectic when people started showing up at GenCon talking about "elves" and "magic-users" and not caring at all about sand tables and CRTs. Sucks to be them.

    You have a right to be say whatever you like about the issue, and argue for whatever set of standards you choose to defend… and other people have a right, in turn, to judge you, based on their standards, and act as they see fit, and you can judge them right back, and so on. No one has a universal trump card — but, eventually, a majority opinion forms, a set of "This is what we consider Proper; this is what is Improper" rules are momentarily settled upon, and if your choice is the same as it always was — put up with it, or leave the subculture.

    And, of course, that's exactly the situation that's been in place for decades. Women who wanted to participate in the SF culture had the choice: Accept being treated crudely, or not participate. Many found the value of the subculture outweighed the cost, and stayed. Eventually, they found there were enough of them that they could begin to wield influence in the ongoing process of cultural formation, and chose to do so. There will never be a permanent "resolution", because cultures aren't fixed in stone. There will always be give and take, ebb and flow. Sometimes, your values are dominant, accepted, "the norm", "everyone knows", "all good people think". Sometimes… they're not. Accept it, or fight to change it, but don't demand the world be placed in stasis at the point where you're happy. (Well, you can demand this, of course. It's just futile and silly you will be laughed at.)

  60. NE Patriot says:

    Let them jump up and down on your lawn. If it gets them winded enough to pipe down, so much the better. (At the very least, they get some much needed exercise.)
    I think when the topics get tough, that's when you know the topic is truly important.

  61. @Ken: "…I declared everyone guilty…."
    Oh, what a giveaway! Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about! Did you see him repressing me? You saw him, Didn't you?

    (C'MON, you were ALL thinking it! :))

  62. Orphan says:

    sorrykb –

    First, you miss the point where I stated that this -isn't- a men-women thing and that I was speaking in the hypothetical, and second, you miss the point that a lot of these groups are -literally- the only social groups -for- these people.

    Simmons –

    Some of it might be nerds growing up. A lot of it is the huge influx of normal people. It's a topic of pretty entertaining anger in some of the older nerd groups I've been a part of. But would the nerds have ever been -able- to grow up, without their groups to practice with? You don't get less socially awkward by being more socially ostracized.

    Blanton –

    You confuse the frequency of reporting with the frequency of events.

    And all three of you fail to grasp that a lot of nerds weren't brought together by a fondness for nerd activities, but because that was all they had, the only groups that would accept them. I don't think the mainstreaming of these things is necessarily a bad thing, I'm just explaining why there's so much bitterness about it. The "Club for socially awkward people" is starting to eject all the socially awkward people.

    And no, it isn't limited to "real" harassment, it's "anything that makes somebody feel uncomfortable". You don't get to drop the social context – that is, the fact that in the real world, the definition of "harassment" has become increasingly nebulous, and telling a private joke to somebody else that gets overheard has become "harassment" of the eavesdropping party – and pretend that harassment is an objectively defined activity. -Any- socially awkward behavior has become harassment.

    *Shrug* There's a compassion in the old nerd culture that is vanishing. Ah well. The socially ostracized will form new groups, and eventually be kicked out of those, too. That's pretty much the way of it.

  63. Ken White says:

    @Orphan:

    *Shrug* There's a compassion in the old nerd culture that is vanishing. Ah well. The socially ostracized will form new groups, and eventually be kicked out of those, too. That's pretty much the way of it.

    Does compassion require putting up, without complaint, with conduct that makes you feel uncomfortable and diminishes your enjoyment of an event? If so, does the burden of that compassion, with respect to "social awkwardness," fall equally on (1) me, a dumpy middle-aged guy, and (2) a woman?

  64. Orphan says:

    Lizard –

    I've been raped by a woman. I am right now -really fucking uncomfortable- around them. I -wasn't- socially awkward before that, but now I kind of am, and yes, a group which excludes women would in fact be kind of welcome – and right now I'm kind of stunned by the complete -absence- of men's groups. I think the only men-only area in a hundred miles of me is a rehab home for drug addicts, which doesn't exactly sound very thrilling.

    And nicely presumed, but I'm bisexual, which is approximately the only thing keeping me sane at the moment. Yes, I get unwanted male attention. It's nowhere near as aggressive as unwanted female attention, but then, my history with that is kind of biased.

    You'll forgive me if I'm not particularly sympathetic to the notion that anyone who wants to avoid women is misogynistic.

  65. @Mike asks me

    I am curious if this is a universal reaction to being seen as "offensive." Being called offensive almost consistently means "you should agree with my viewpoint on what is correct behavior, and be ostracized if you do not." That's a pretty big power grab over someone, without a real counter other than appeals to a consensus view of what other people consider to be offensive.

    This is entirely independent of whether the person was offensive or how they were being offensive.

    It's definitely not universal. Some accused understand that they might have limited social, some understand that what's an innocent or jocular remark is another persons offensive statement. Either way, they understand they are seen as offensive, but they accept that their perception of things isn't universal.

    The people who instantly become angry and accuse the other of misunderstanding act as if there's only one way to perceive things, and that's his way.

    @lelnet: ". . . Good luck with either of those."

    Indeed, indeed. As for those who attempt "… the launching of mass campaigns to cost a person his or her employment [and] getting them blacklisted from their entire profession," that discussion goes both way beyond issues with convention security and what Ken's topic is here. So please pardon me if I duck it. :-)

  66. Orphan says:

    Ken –

    What obligation? Nobody forces anybody to be parts of these groups.

    Don't presume I think these groups are obligated to keep the socially awkward, either. I simply understand their frustration and anger, and am trying to explain it.

  67. ZK says:

    @Ken White:

    I think there are, in fact, many complaints out there are clearly aren't harassment. I think you cited one in your post (the 'lady writers' scandal). The hardcore SciFi fandom crowd (like the SFWA mailing lists) overlap heavily with communities that like to be offended about 'social justice' issues. I can understand, after having been in multiple arguments about if Margaret Atwood is a sexist for writing The Handmaiden's Tale, if @Evelyn has the perception that there are lots of non-scandals out there.

    That said, it sure doesn't excuse the incidents you linked; some of the acts described aren't just sexual harassment, but assault. I'm horrified.

  68. sorrykb says:

    Orphan wrote:

    a lot of these groups are -literally- the only social groups -for- these people

    I do understand this, from personal experience. Try, if you will, to imagine what it must be like to be a socially awkward and nerdy… girl (or woman). We exist, and we've been here all this time. Just as outcast as the nerdy guys, equally looking for others to share our interests, but far too often meeting harassment and hostility, and being called humorless bitches if we object to this behavior.
    P.S. No matter how socially awkward we may be (and barring serious brain injury), we adults have at least some capacity to evaluate our actions and consider their effects on others. I don't think this is too much to expect.

  69. Syd says:

    @lelnet: I don't think what I wrote could credibly be read as a justification for excusing trying to get someone fired for making dongle jokes (though I think it's quite reasonable to get someone kicked out of a convention for grabbing my ass randomly, it's usually explicitly against the rules – nobody credibly complains when someone gets kicked out of a concert they've already paid for if they smoke indoors). Rather, I was saying that what looks like sexism because of the demographics of the subculture is actually just the normal human reaction to being rejected by a high-stakes and probable partner. Reacting to that defense of some of the "sexist" responses by men in geek subculture with a statement that's basically, "yeah, but donglegate happens, so I don't see why we shouldn't get angry at women who complain" is the equivalent of me saying "yeah, but some guys grab asses, so I don't see why we shouldn't just kick all of the ones who ask people out when they don't want it out of all social venues."

    If the second part of your comment was independent of a response to mine, feel free to disregard the above criticism. However, given that it was part of a paragraph that appeared to be responding to me, I doubt that it was independant.

  70. Ken White says:

    I think there are, in fact, many complaints out there are clearly aren't harassment. I think you cited one in your post (the 'lady writers' scandal).

    Right, which is why I deliberately distinguished it from harassment.

  71. GeekyGuy says:

    Though I can't say I sympathize with them in any way, shape, or form, I know where some of these people are coming from. They are the "equal and opposite reaction" to a brash form of feminism emerging amongst young women and men, especially in geekier circles.

    I am staff at a very large geeky convention. The rather large pool of staff is roughly half women, by design. Recently there was an indicent whereby a male staff member was asked not to return because of creeper behavior toward several female staff members.

    Very, very quickly, any and all discussion of the topic was shouted down by young women shouting things about "rape culture," "victim blaming," "penis privilege," "trigger warnings" and similar rhetoric. It wasn't even particularly relevant to the situation– nobody was assaulted, but the fervor of the response could be read as though these folks were fighting roving bands of gropey men. Anyone who called for moderation or moving on were called out – mainly by young men, quick to defend the young women as vocally and publicly as possible (methinks thou dost protest too much, sirs) – for being part of the problem and perpetrators of the advancement of various misogynistic practices.

    I have a strong suspicion that the most vocal of these anti-geek-girl trolls are the other end of the scale from the very aggressive "rape culture" trolls.

    From a personal standpoint, I've more experience in my personal life with actual victims of assault than I'd prefer, but feel that "victimization culture" and hysterical over-response to "creeper" incidents trivializes actual assault and the pain of its victims, hinders healing and poisons rational discussion. Creeping should be not tolerated, called out, and dealt with… but not held up as an example of the "all men are pigs" hysteria that seems en vogue on the left coast these days.

  72. lelnet says:

    Well, Steve, your perspective on con security is, I'm certain, welcome here (I know _I_ welcome it, and simply assume that Ken does too, or else he'd say so)…but the discussion isn't _entirely_ about con security. Neither the Adria Richards case nor the SFWA bulletin kerfluffle involved con security, as far as I know, but they were both already part of the discussion when I got here, and I'd assert that they're both part of the phenomenon that Ken is talking about. (Other commenters make it clear I wouldn't be alone in this assertion, either. Nor is it limited to those who agree with my opinions.)

  73. Jack B. says:

    @ Wondering:

    There's a Tumblr page, Creepy White Guys, that shows examples of this sort of thing happening on OK Cupid.

    Thanks for this. There goes the rest of my day.

    JLB

  74. lelnet says:

    Syd: Just for the record, I did not intend to appear to be putting words in your mouth. In retrospect, the linking of a quote from you in a comment whose main bulk was not directed to you probably did imply that, which was a mistake. I am sorry for the confusion. The latter paragraph was indeed _not_ intended to be directed at you.

  75. Syd says:

    Lelnet: sorry for jumping up and down on you, then :)

  76. Kevin says:

    @Ken

    This is an empirical assertion. What is the support for it? In my post, I linked to numerous people describing experiences of what they saw as harassment. I thought that perception, based on their descriptions, was not unreasonable, and in some cases clearly right. Shouldn't, by your assertion, there be a whole lot of complaints out there describing conduct that clearly isn't harassment?

    Keep in mind that on the occasions, like the aforementioned pycon dongle joke, where a clearly meritless allegation is made, those who stand up and point out the meritlessness of the allegation typically get shouted down as misogynistic pigs. That may cause others to decide to keep their mouths shut in future incidents.

    I'm not saying I think that most (or even many) harassment allegations are meritless, just that it's hard to make an empirical judgement one way or the other, based solely on second hand reports, when certain types of reports get systematically chilled.

  77. Ken quotes Evelyn:

    Well, two things make people angry:

    One: actual harassment is rather rare, and offense is usually deliberately taken way beyond what is reasonable (for example, the 'dongle joke' at Pycon).

    and replies

    This is an empirical assertion. What is the support for it?

    I think it's almost impossible to measure. What I do know from experience is that it happens more often that people are willing to make formal reports on. Each year we get a small number of formal complaints, and 2-3 times as many informal ones, ie, where people are not willing to put their names on the complaint. From this and from other commenters in other forums (see the links in the OP), I infer that there are a lot more incidents – enough that I would not call it rare. "Infrequent" might be a better word, but I would definitely not call it rare. Caveat: that's one guy's experience, and is based on a limited number of genre types (gaming, sf cons, furcons).

    @David W wrote in the midst of a long post:

    … There's no physical evidence … Guilt is in the mind of the listener, not any objective standard … False accusations can be profitable…

    First and foremost, my advance apologies for how my extracting those three lines might express them differently than what you meant. Now, that said:

    Sometimes there is physical evidence, especially when mere "harassment" come up to the line that constitues assault and battery. A large smear of body paint from or on the hand of the grabber is pretty conclusive. Bruises, abrasions, hand marks are all physical evidence. It happens. And even when there is not physical evidence, there are a significant number of cases where neutral (IMHO) witnesses support the accuser.

    In re "guilt in the mind of the listener, not any objective standard." No. Offense is in the mind of the listener. Whether that offense is reasonable or not and by what standard should neither be determined by lynch mob or by blanket denial of the validity of any standard.

    "False accusations can be profitable" insults the entire class of people who have made accusations about harassment. How is this different from your taking offense because Ken mentioned offenses involving (among others) gamers?

    @W. Ian Blanton:

    (C'MON, you were ALL thinking it! :))

    Guilty as charged. I only regret that you responded first.

  78. Orphan says:

    sorrykb –

    Without putting too fine a point on it, do you think the group appreciated your presence more than resented it, after your complaints in that matter are considered? You're not obligated to put up with their crap, but they're also not obligated to keep somebody in their group who won't. (Just as other groups aren't obligated to keep the socially awkward types around.)

    And what you are talking about is a -skill-. It is not, in fact, a natural ability for most people. It takes time to learn that skill, and these are the only environments for some people -to- learn that skill.

  79. @Orphan:"You confuse the frequency of reporting with the frequency of events."

    Afraid not – as I noted I've intervened when I've seen it happening and I've had to deal with it on both sides myself.

    @Orphan:"And all three of you fail to grasp that a lot of nerds weren't brought together by a fondness for nerd activities"

    Grasp it, dear God man – I've lived it. I was a freshman in high school who for some reason thought it would be funny to greet a girl in one of my classes by rolling on the "Harlot" table in the AD&D DM's Guide (Appendix C, page 192) and would then say in a cheery voice "Hello, my *roll dice* !"

    I survived doing this only because, as I realized _4 years later_, she had a crush on me. (She would respond to my greeting by giggling and sitting across the table – God, I was blind and clueless…and probably lucky I didn't roll 91-92…that I recall)

    Had I been talked to properly about it, I probably would have clued in a lot faster and probably saved myself some ugly incidents later on in life. At least I hope I would have. But I did learn.

    While I can sympathize with your concerns about the lack of social tolerance for the socially inept I think you're misreading somewhat – the question here is – should the "Socially Awkward" be treated like a nature preserve? Where we watch them and allow them to go on their way? Or do we treat them responsible human beings?

  80. Colin says:

    @Syd:

    "Again, I'm not saying nerdboys are bad with women, but there are a lot fewer women who share their interests than with the guy who likes more mainstream activities. So when the salsa dancing girl rejects the salsa dancing guy, he's probably not going to yell about it because there are another dozen salsa dancer girls."

    While that's an argument that makes sense, I've been involved in social dance scenes for a dozen years, and the creeper/harassment issue is a constant one in those communities. Oddly, the times it generates the most heated emotions are when the offenses are the least serious. The few times we've actually had people engaging in very clear and very serious predatory behaviour (at least one of which led to criminal charges being filed) have been the ones that have involved the least controversy about taking action upon. What this suggests to me is that what seems to be a disproportionate response in regard to the topic has a great deal to do with general differences between men and women as to where the boundary between harmless joking/flirting and harassment. The farther over that boundary a specific incident is, the fewer people seem to get disproportionately bent out of shape about that incident.

  81. @Kevin I'm not sure that's a very good example. Many people stood up and proclaimed publicly that the accusations in the PyCon dongle-joke incident were meritless, to the point where the woman who made them ended up getting fired from her job, and they amended the PyCon rules to prohibit public shaming.

    Yes, one of the guys who was publicly shamed ended up getting fired by PlayHaven, but there was a huge backlash against that as well, because it was so obvious to so many people that he hadn't done anything which merited public shaming, let alone getting fired.

    In the end, I think the woman who made the false accusation and PlayHaven ended up getting by far the shorter end of the stick.

  82. sorrykb says:

    It takes time to learn that skill, and these are the only environments for some people -to- learn that skill.

    They'll never learn if no one points out how they've screwed up.

  83. David W says:

    @Jonathan Kamens:
    Why do people need to be 'trained' on how to avoid harassment, then? If you could only be punished for actual wrongs, no one would bother with 'training', because any random person would know better.

    No one trains you how to avoid murdering people.

    The case on the top of my mind, which I may have even read about here at Popehat, is the one where the guy read, on breaks, a book about the downfall of the KKK. And was accused of being racist and fired. No facts required.

  84. Orphan says:

    sorrykb –

    Granted. But there's a difference between pointing out that they're screwing up and ostracizing them further, which tends to be the actual approach. Don't forget that being able to take criticism gracefully is -also- a skill.

    Blanton –

    I heavily advocate taking people aside and talking to them. I do -not- advocate public humiliation, which is the opposite of helpful, and tends to be the inclination of far too many people.

  85. sorrykb says:

    @W. Ian Blanton:
    I'm picturing the "socially awkward nature preserve," but done "Wild Kingdom" style with the hapless Jim and a net. (Yes, I'm dating myself by mentioning this.)

  86. Colin says:

    There's some bad wording in my last post which I can't edit, and to head it off, "very clear and very serious predatory behaviour…" should probably be read as "the most egregious conduct has caused the least controversy when discussiong whether, and what the organizer's response should be", given that my point is that many men categorize behaviours different from women.

  87. Lizard says:

    @Orphan: I didn't say *you* would be uncomfortable if an all-male SF con attracted gays; I said *some* people would.

    I also don't recall using the term "misogynistic" in any post. I will say anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, who wants to "avoid" half the world's population is mentally unhealthy and is going to live an unfortunately circumscribed life. This condition may arise due to legitimate trauma/injury, as yours did, and that certainly evokes sympathy, but it's not a mandate for the rest of the world to reorder their existence.

    To reiterate: If the current norms of a subculture make someone uncomfortable, they can:
    a)Work to change those norms.
    b)Cease participating in the subculture.
    c)Decide the value of the subculture gives them more than the discomfort takes away, and "suffer in silence" until eventually deciding to do 'a' or 'b'.

    Your comment that "There's people who aren't into geek things, they just are part of geek culture because they feel they fit in" is very interesting. Isn't that pretty much the "fake geek girl" meme, applied to men?

    Sorry, you seem to be digging a deeper and deeper hole here. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting you, but, to me, you seem to be arguing "Women should stay out of SF/F fandom, even if it's something they're into, because a lot of guys who AREN'T actually into it are there because they're just socially awkward, and then *girls* show up, and then then socially awkward guys get yelled at for being socially awkward!"

    I mean, no one is *forcing* guys to awkwardly hit on women in ways ranging from crude to borderline criminal. They can, you know, just not bother, and simply do whatever it is they were going to do without trying to be suave and seductive. You don't "accidentally" say or do something crude or stupid. No one sane has ever said, "Well, I meant to say 'Excuse me, I need to get by here', but instead I said, totally by accident, 'Hey babe, nice tits!'".

    Someone may reply, with some correctness, "Well, different people have different standards of what they find offensive!" This is absolutely true. So you start at the lowest possible default, and learn something about the person, and if they seem interested in flirting and maybe moving beyond that you, watch their body language and reactions and adjust as needed. I speak as someone who had absolutely no social sense, at all, through most of my life. I didn't kiss a girl until I was 19. (Yay, SCA!) I *learned* how to watch people, read people, pick up cues… mostly, kind of, enough to get by. It's like learning the rules to any complex game. You build mental models, perform experiments, see the result, apply what you've learned, repeat. (This means, BTW, that when someone tells you "You're doing it wrong.", you listen and apply this, not say "No, YOU'RE wrong!")

    It's not easy, but it *is* possible. Replying "But it's haaaaard!" or "But we shouldn't haaaaave to!" is bullshit. If you want the rewards — being considered a decent human being, being respected by your peers, possibly even getting some non-self-inflicted orgasms — you put in the work. That's life.

  88. Orphan says:

    Lizard –

    This is the second time you've written a reply to an imaginary person – an imaginary person, I would add, who is not me, the person you purport to be responding to. Please read what I've written and respond to that, or ask for clarification, because what you seem to think I've written is so far off-base that I don't even know where to begin to respond.

  89. David W says:

    @Steve Simmons:
    I think I'm upset about something different than the cases you are thinking of. Of course assault should be punished. And when there's actual evidence of harassment, at the very least ejection from an event seems warranted. I'm simply of the belief that there are many cases where there's no evidence, but there is punishment anyway. Which can't help but bias me.

    "How is this different from your taking offense because Ken mentioned offenses involving (among others) gamers?"
    Um. Well…I can't see a difference. Perhaps I'm a bit thin skinned.

  90. Dan Weber says:

    I've seen this dynamic play out in a number of male-dominated arenas:

    1. Men get annoying with their flirting.

    2. Women get annoyed with the men because they are not interested for whatever reason (such as already being in a relationship).

    3. Some men become successful with women by being aggressive.

    4. Women completely ignore the unaggressive guys, because if they ever are available in the dating pool, they get attention immediately.

    5. Men witness this and realize they need to become aggressive to get a mate. Go to step 1.

    It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. No one really likes the situation, but everyone's immediate self-interest is to keep it going.

    Do such things occur in women-dominated locales? I don't know.

  91. James Pollock says:

    The root cause of the problem is that many things that are considered "sexual harassment" are welcome at some times and from some people, and are not welcome at other times and from other people. "Geek culture" is full of people who are poor at reading other people, which means that they make attempts that are clumsy and poorly-timed. There IS a factor of "stuff is OK here that isn't OK in real life" around SF conventions (less so in gaming)… that's the point of going to a convention in the first place. Et voila! Rampant harassment.
    The solution is the same as it is in real life… immediate correction of the offending behavior, repeated as necessary.

  92. @David W

    The anti-harassment training that some employers do is far more about protecting the employer from liability and about following nanny-state laws (e.g., CA requires such training) than it is about imparting critical life skills to men without which they would inevitably say or do something that would get them sued for harassment.

    I've had to go through such mandatory training probably five or six times over the course of my career, and believe me, I didn't learn anything from it that I didn't already know about how to treat people.

    There are, no doubt, men who are falsely accused of harassment. However, there aren't enough of them for living in fear of such false accusations to be a rational approach to life.

    As for, "No one trains you how to avoid murdering people," actually, people with halfway decent parents and teachers who live in a halfway sane environment are taught to avoid murdering people on an ongoing basis from the time they are born until the time they are old enough to have formed their own moral compass. They are taught this at the same time they are taught how to treat others with respect.

    In my opinion, this, "Men are angry because they have to worry about bieng sued for harassment just for asking a woman out," trope is nothing more than yet another attempt to delegitimize the real harassment that women in our culture experience on an ongoing basis.

  93. Jim Salter says:

    Mostly it's just that this is a highly polarized issue, with lunatic-fringe basement dwellers on BOTH sides angrily frothing. So you have your r/mensrights trolls angrily gnawing on their keyboards from their subterranean lairs, equating ANY discussion of women in society with personal attacks on them, and you also have hyper-politicized always-on-a-mission feminists who are absolutely, 100% positive that they are under neverending attack from every possible element of society that isn't themselves, and the only reasonable response is to attack BACK just as hard (or harder).

    Civil rights went through this exact same phase, and I'm thinking you should be old enough to remember that, Ken. Twenty or thirty years ago, the people angrily ranting about Equal Opportunity very much were NOT relegated to extremist websites (not that there were websites, of course) – they were all over the place, and every single one of them had a story about how they couldn't get a job THEY were qualified for because some BLACK PERSON was GIVEN the job based on a "quota".

    That's where we are now with women's rights – in the middle of a societal upheaval that just hasn't sorted itself out yet. So, yes, you'll get mouthbreathers of all descriptions raining down on you when you dare to take a stance… on EITHER side, or neither. It's annoying, but it's also no reason not to talk about it. Talking about it is what – eventually, finally, after many many years of talking about it – gets the relative moderates to see past "those people on that other side are crazy and out to get me!" to seeing their fellow moderates on the other side.

    There's nothing you can do about the frothing nutty 5% or so (on both sides). They're gonna be there forever. The goal is just to get them separated far enough from the rest that you can easily spot them and ignore them…

  94. Lizard says:

    @David: We DO train people how not to murder. We teach them don't pour arsenic in someone else's soup. Don't point the gun at someone and pull the trigger. Don't stab someone with a knife over and over until the rich, warm, red, blood runs down your hands and it feels so good and so bad at the same time and you know you'll have to.. ahem. You get the idea.

    You don't realize you've been taught this, because it's been so internalized. You think it's something "everyone just knows".

    We also teach people when it is OK to kill. In self defense, in a war, because the other person is actually not a human, but an automaton controlled by the NSA and we have to stop them before… uhm. Anyway.

    Cultural values tend to change more rapidly than physical bodies do, so you need to relearn them more often than you need to relearn how not to kill. Things that are considered "normal" or "acceptable" — things "any random person" knows — shift over time. So you need to be constantly aware of changing norms, and adapt your behavior.

    As Shaw wrote:"Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature!"

    Social "rules" are inherently arbitrary and irrational. Complaining about this fact is trying to order back the tide. The rules that were "normal" or "simple" when you learned them in your formative years were no more or less arbitrary and irrational than the new rules. That's life. It's unfair. It's unfair for everyone — but it's not *equally* unfair for everyone, and that's part of the unfairness.

    For a third time: Organize to change the rules, endure the rules, or exit the society. Organize, Endure, Or Exit. Good phrase. I'll use it again.

  95. @David W:

    Au Contraire, Mon Ami:
    "Put that stick down, you do NOT hit people."
    "You need to slow down and stop when people are in the crosswalk."
    "You! Stop this fighting immediately!"

    It just happens from such an early age we all kinda forget about it.

    @sorrykb
    Oh Jim, poor Jim….

    @Orphan
    Absolutely, and it's great when you can resolve it that way. I always try and remember my younger self, but the there are plenty of people who don't want to learn.

  96. Ken White says:

    As others have suggested, sexual harassment avoidance training has the following functions:

    1. Satisfying laws requiring it;
    2. Limiting employer liability by showing it was given;
    3. Instructing the approximately 10% of the population that doesn't know how to act decently but is capable of being taught;
    4. Persuading another 5% of the population that knows how to act decently but isn't inclined to do so unless persuaded that the detriments of not doing so are severe;
    5. Informing supervisors of how properly to run a sexual harassment investigation;
    6. Informing people subjected to sexual harassment of how to handle it, including reporting.

  97. Lizard says:

    @Orphan: Here's the quotes I am, in general, responding to.

    And all three of you fail to grasp that a lot of nerds weren't brought together by a fondness for nerd activities, but because that was all they had, the only groups that would accept them.

    Is it really -wrong- for men who are unable to interact with women to form a social group free of women so that they can feel human?

    Nerd culture is being overrun by normal people, it's been entering the mainstream steadily but surely for years. It's hard for many of them not to get resentful of the fact that their safe havens aren't safe anymore, and that they are in fact being kicked out.

    Since you may have missed a connection between aspects of my post and your comments, here's my logic:

    You: Nerds resent being picked on because they're awkward when they hit on women, and this only happens because women keep showing up at cons! Nerds deserve a place where they won't be humiliated for being socially inept!

    Me: Even if we accept your premise that nerds lack the social skills necessary to successfully hit on women, it doesn't then lead to the conclusion that women should just stay away from my cons in the name of not exposing nerds to humiliation, because nothing compels someone without the needed social skills to *try* to hit on women. They won't be mocked, humiliated, or called out for being "creepy" if they don't do creepy things. They can keep on doing their all-male, non-creepy, activities whether there are women there or not. OR, they could put in the effort to learn how to be non-creepy. Either works.

    If you still think I'm "not getting it", we have a communication gap that could be either or both's fault. I'll leave it to the rest of the audience to decide for themselves.

  98. David W says:

    @Lizard "You don't realize you've been taught this, because it's been so internalized. You think it's something "everyone just knows". "

    Well, yes. Which is why I tend to think the conviction rates of murder and assault and harassment ought to be similar – just that fraction of society who can't understand basic morals.

    Yet it's not anywhere close to the same, so what's a better explanation than false positives?

    Although, if Ken really believes 15% of everyone would do this if not shown the stick, maybe I live a sheltered life. Maybe people who can't understand basic morals and respect for coworkers, can't hack it in engineering, either.

  99. David says:

    We DO train people how not to murder. We teach them don't pour arsenic in someone else's soup. Don't point the gun at someone and pull the trigger. Don't stab someone with a knife over and over until the rich, warm, red, blood runs down your hands and it feels so good and so bad at the same time and you know you'll have to.. ahem. You get the idea.

    And now the Belkar avatar starts to make sense.

  100. Nicholas Weaver says:

    5. Informing supervisors of how properly to run a sexual harassment investigation;

    AKA, know who's actually responsible in the chain of command to do such investigations and stick them with it.

  101. Orphan says:

    Lizard –

    I don't think women "should just stay away." You're reading my tone as adversarial; I'm not. I'm trying to explain why the socially awkward feel the way they feel, and yet again, it's not a sentiment limited to men. I don't think they're entitled to sci-fi conventions being theirs; I am simply stating that there is some room for compassion for them, that their feelings in the matter aren't illegitimate. They -have- been displaced, yet again, which has been a pretty persistent theme in their lives, and maybe their sadness and anger isn't entirely out of place.

    You seem to confuse my compassion with a desire to "fix" the situation. I think the situation is unfixable; I wouldn't hook somebody's dead cat up to an electrical outlet either, no matter how sympathetic I felt. I simply have some patience and compassion in me and wish other people did as well.

  102. "Is it OK for BO-reeking D&D nerds to tell strange women about their rape fantasies …"

    Best. Comment. Ever.

    In a word: "No."

  103. Nigel says:

    I find it more than a bit unsettling that there is a such as thing as "anti-harassment training" and that we even need to have this conversation.

    Nigel

  104. WhangoTango says:

    "Organize to change the rules, endure the rules, or exit the society."

    Which is a very funny thing to say, because what Orphan's been saying all along is that The Rules *are* being Changed, but by people who look on the SF culture as a Neat Fun Thing rather than a safe space; that it's difficult to Endure The Rules when rule one is that rulebreakers get punished *hard*; and that Exit The Society is how most of these people ended up in the SF fandom culture in the first place.

  105. Well, yes. Which is why I tend to think the conviction rates of murder and assault and harassment ought to be similar – just that fraction of society who can't understand basic morals.

    Yet it's not anywhere close to the same, so what's a better explanation than false positives?

    Wow, there are so many fallacies in these statements in this that it's hard to know where to start.

    A few minutes ago you claimed, as the foundation of your argument, that no one needs to be taught how to murder. When several people schooled you about how false that claim is, you gave a two-word acknowledgment ("Well, yes.") that your claim was wrong, and then went on to change the subject.

    That's a pretty good sign of someone grasping at straws to try to defend an indefensible position.

    Second, how, exactly, do you know that the conviction rates for murder and assault and harassment are "not anywhere close to the same." That's a statement of fact; do you have evidence to support it?

    Third, your assertion that since not murdering people and not harassing them are, or should be, part of the same "basic morals," the percentage of the population guilty of each should be comparable, is wrong on so many levels that I'm not even going to try to explain them all.

    Fourth, even if it were true that the the percentage of the population guilty of those two crimes were comparable, it would not logically follow that the rate of people being charged with them, or the rate of people being convicted of them, would also be comparable, again for so many reasons that it's not worth my time enumerating them all.

    Fifth, you are aware, I assume, that harassment is often handled as a civil rather than a criminal matter, where the rules are very different and not at all comparable?

    Finally, you yourself have explained the biggest reason why it might be more likely for someone charged with murder to be convicted than someone charged with harassment: the question of whether murder occurred is a heck of a lot less subjective than whether someone was harassed.

  106. princessartemis says:

    I got about half-way through the comments. It strikes me that there are a *lot* of people assuming that geeky/nerdy culture was set up by and for a certain type of man, and that any woman wishing to gain entrance is obviously an outsider. This is not the case. A lot of us geeky-nerdy women have been so our *entire lives* and have always sought out fellow geeks; some of us helped build geeky-nerdy circles! To suggest that we are outsiders to the clubhouse just ain't so, no matter how much a chunk of men feel we are invaders.

    It's disheartening after years and years of hearing how the things I like and things I do are socially unacceptable because I am female. Seems to me that other social outcasts would have some understanding of being in similar boats, but alas.

    I don't have any issues really with distint, defined, social settings for men only. I am of the opinion that in a truly equal society, such things would be natural at times and recognized as sometimes necessary, not ZOMG ebil sexism. Just…sorry, geekdom as a whole never was exclusive to men.

    As far as the topic of the post goes, part of the cause of such vitriolic reactions is certain sorts of people simply feel uncomfortable with taking a look at their own reflection for fear they might see something they don't like and, having seen, take responsibility for it. When anything resembles a reflection, they lash out at the mirror rather than trying to figure out if the reflection is actually *theirs* in the first place.

    Another part of it is the natural defensiveness of a person unfairly maligned for the acts of another. Not every socially awkward geeky male is a creep, but a whole lot of them get painted with that brush just the same. It gets tiring hearing how bad and rotten you are when you aren't. Some people build up thicker skins to such accusations, others don't. If they are the sort who has rarely encountered such generalizations about them, they are more likely to be poorly equiped to deal with it.

  107. Lizard says:

    @David:
    Morals have nothing to do with it.
    The "rules" about "how not to kill people" don't change a lot.
    The "rules" about "how not to harass people" change very frequently.

    (I might note, by the way, that a good portion of the United States had a lot of trouble dealing with the idea that the rules for "how not to kill people" began to include "even if they've got dark skin and someone says maybe they looked at a white woman the wrong way". So much trouble, in fact, that the local courts and juries didn't catch on for a long, long, time. But that's another thread.)

    Let's say, all your life, the speed limit on a road has been 55. It's been that way so long you stopped noticing the speed limit sign. Then you get pulled over. The officer says, "Speed limit's 30, now." You say, "But it's always been 55! How can you pull me over for driving 55?" Officer says, "It's your job to keep up on the law, not mine."

    Behaviors that were not considered harassment once… now are. The laws have changed. Society is not stagnant. It's your job to know what the rules are, then make an informed decision about if you want to break them. Again, morality doesn't enter into it. A speed limit of 55 isn't more or less moral than a speed limit of 30. The social acceptability of behaviors, actions, and so on changes constantly, morality isn't an issue, just awareness of this week's basically arbitrary rules changes. Can't abide how last week's "everyone does it" is today's "no decent person would ever!"? That's your choice. Some people are going to put on their chamber pot, mount their sag-backed old horse, and charge right at that windmill in the name of FREEEEEDOOOMMMMM. I've got better hills to die on. As I said, I have no "instinct" for the rules of human interaction. I learned them as just that — rules. There's a rules patch with new errata and my paladin/assassin/wizard just got nerfed? I learn the new rules, or I quit the game. That's all there is to it, for me.

  108. lelnet says:

    "They won't be mocked, humiliated, or called out for being 'creepy' if they don't do creepy things."

    That is not an assumption, unfortunately, that can safely be relied upon, seeing as how "creepy" is entirely in the eye of the beholder, and encompasses a vast range all the way from felony assault at the top down to "being male in my general presence, with or without any direct interaction of any kind with me" at the bottom.

    People so dysfunctional that they don't know not to assault one another tend not to do well in the workplace. Neither, usually, do those so dysfunctional that they imagine that everyone of a given sex who happens to be in their presence is committing an atrocity against them. Employers find ways, pretty quickly, of getting rid of such folks. But in social settings, it's harder to do so.

  109. @Lizard – curse you, Ninja!

    @Ken
    To bring this back around to the original question of "Why So Pissed Off?" I think are a couple of major factors:

    Firstivo: We're at a different stage with sexism/harrassment/etc than we are with, say racism. I won't say racism is pushing up the daisies, but it's certainly moving with a limp (apply various disclaimers). It's a lot harder act in an offensive racist manner when you know that the odds are pretty high that you're going to be treated negatively because of it. It's that social training Lizard (and other) were talking about above. Short version: Because people riding of sexism think they can still get away with it without having their bullshit called.

    (anecdote: I've been amazed at how many times I've "gotten away" with calling BS in online games with someone spouting racist/sexist/whatever crap. I do it, expecting to get kicked and more often people at worst go "…yeah…he was a douchebag..".)

    2: Having to think about this stuff makes people examine their own motivations, and people HATE doing that.

    People are afraid any little thing is going to be taken as "harassment". Most people are at least a little self conscious and inside somewhere is ALREADY a little gremlin hassling them saying "Oh MY god, I can't BELIEVE you said that!!" and they see this making it worse. What's more….

    III: "Everybody's Playing The Game, But Nobody's Rules Are The Same"
    Some people's ideas of polite sexual banter would get them burned at the stake 40 years ago. And they were doing it then. And that's fine, as long as the people they're directing it are playing the same game.
    It means you have to be circumspect. You have to know where you stand, OR…you have to be willing to be reduced to a pair of smoking boots if you gauge wrong.
    The hell of it is, I've seen guys who could pick up girls saying things like "Come on out here, you rollicking trolloping sauce bottle!". The rules are different and they vary from person to person.
    These folks are worried that the fun will end, when it just means "Hey idiot, you can't use that as your opening line".

    Because the real problem is not these people. It's the ones who use ALL of the above to hide – the predators. We're burning the brush where they hide.

    And they don't like that.

  110. b says:

    if I ever acted in a way that made someone else either uncomfortable or fearful, I would be slightly mortified, and very apologetic. whether this is because of cultural gender conditioning or not, i'm curious as to why there seems to be an absolute certainty on the part of the reported that the reporter is the person in the wrong. that the reporter can't take a joke, is a prude, etc.

    do women have to preemptively apologize for infiltrating the "no wimmenz allowd" boys club that had been geek culture? I find that idea patently ridiculous and that for all of the geek finger wagging at the "jocks" or "popular kids" for treating the geeks so poorly, some geeks are doing a bang-up job on treating the females in their ranks the same or worse.

    the idea that if women want to participate in geek culture they either have to conform to a certain subset's ideas about said culture and the role of women within, or put up with whatever a certain subset dishes out is disgusting to me.

    being alert to "creepers" is not playing the victim. when you are taught from an early age that it is YOUR responsibility to be aware of your surroundings and not to be alone in the dark, you might have a case of stranger-danger.

    when you get on the internet and find out that there are certain dark areas of the web where strangers will take pictures of you without your knowledge purely for their sexual gratification, you might have stranger-danger.

    if someone openly leers at you and then proceeds to grab your ass, the next time someone leers at you, you bet your sweet bippy you are going to be on the defensive for a roving hand.

    often the reaction to victims seems to be:
    assault me once, shame on me. assault me twice…well, yeah, it's still my fault.

    that's why i'm angry.

  111. @princessartemis +1!!!
    If you got enough drinks in me, I might consider that I started going to cons to meet girls who were also "weird like me".

    "If they are the sort who has rarely encountered such generalizations about them, they are more likely to be poorly equiped to deal with it."

    A very important point. I really didn't "get" why girls reacted to a friendly "Hi, what's your name" in a bar, until I'd been in a few gay bars; after about the 4th guy trying to feel me up, I got the "Eureka" lightbulb.

  112. Evelyn says:

    "This is an empirical assertion. What is the support for it? "

    Show me some actual harassment cases, and not just people being borish. All you have is lame anecdotes that do not pass the laugh
    test.

    "In my post, I linked to numerous people describing experiences of what
    they saw as harassment."

    You see 'harassment' I just see normal human borish behavior. I can give you as many examples involving women as the 'perps' as you've listed men (and then some).

    "Shouldn't, by your assertion, there be a whole lot of complaints out there describing conduct that clearly isn't harassment?"

    Just visit any mailing list where people troll each other and you have any number of 'complaints' there. Just people being… people.

    "I have said that the community has issues, which I believe is correct."

    Who is this 'community'? Am I a part too, being female? And, is there any 'community' where everyone is innocent? Have you considered whether the incidence of 'harassment' is higher in geeks than (say)
    the rapper scene? Or, for that matter, the lawyer community? Show me evidence that the geeks are leaders in this field here…

    "Writing about my own views on my own blog, which no one is obligated to visit, is somehow "(actual) harassment", akin to groping someone's ass or asking a stranger her cup size or something."

    Trouble is, that the paranoia and rumours/myths you promote ends up as
    my *personal* problem and I am feeling harassed by concerned outsiders who think 'the geek community has a problem' (and must repent). So, I'm just sending a nice polite geeky flame your way because a) I disagree and b) you're causing me actual real discomfort because *I* would like to be able to hang out on cons without strangers being
    paranoid about my presence being a threat to their livelihood.

    In fact, you're harassing the entire geek community with your attempt to nanny and police us, without even being a part of it.

    "Also: let me assume for the sake of argument that you are a female geek, as you suggest. [I don't think that makes your pronouncements
    about female geekery unsustainable, but that's neither here nor there.]"

    Ah, behold the quality argument of 'dissenter from my valiant valid point might not be a real women' but a man posing as a female. And if
    I'm really female, I must be an outlier or even a traitor to the feminist cause, right?

    "Do you genuinely crave the society of men who are afraid of you because they've been told not to harass women?"

    Another quality attempt at argumentation… insinuating that I'm some kind of masochist who enjoys (nay, craves!) hanging out with potential creeps(and and _entire_ society of 'em, no less!) because I dare to defend my
    fellow geeks instead of viewing them all as potential enemies.

    Look, I go to meet other geeks because I like talking about geeky stuff and because no-one else wants to talk to me about those rather
    dry (and often complex) topics other than fellow geeks.

    If people avoid me because they are afraid that they might get dragged into a crazy situation over a misunderstanding, it's a) a problem and
    cuts down on my geeky enjoyment, because it limits my ability of meeting people in a neutral way, and it's not a great feeling when
    people are walking on eggshells around me and strain to keep their guard up at all times and worry about every word they say.

    b) I don't think that being afraid of me is a crime, and I do not enjoy seeing people worried. Quite a few geeks have enough social
    phobias already.

    So, I hope you can see why I regard this kind of concern trolling as direct harassment of the entire geek community.

  113. sorrykb says:

    @W. Ian Blanton:
    D. I see what you did there.

  114. thesis_ascendant says:

    I'm not generally vocal because I care about my rep and know better than to speak up, but what I tend to take issue with is the overly broad definitions going on. Take someone who rarely has female company and stick him in a room full of cosplayers wearing (here I search for an objective term) revealing costumes and damn right he's gonna stare. It can be hard not to even for someone like me, who is only moderately socially inept. Your original post lumps that near-involuntary behavior in with true creeper activity (depending on your definition of "openly leer").

    I'm not gonna argue with all these examples – I can think of very few cases where unwanted touching isn't obviously creeper material, and con-stalking is sadly somewhat common and deserves the stigma and, yes, nard-kicks. By adding "checking out the boobs on that Cortana cosplayer" (something I personally am guilty of at A-Kon 2010) to the list of unacceptable behavior, it feels like you're placing the inability to not be obvious about staring at female sexual characteristics on the same level as grabbing said characteristics (or following them around for a few hours and pestering them to come back to a room).

    When this happens enough, you get a reaction out of people who have never and would never actually harass someone, but feel like there's no way to win. Being male and attracted to women is perceived as the crime, and any action that supports that attraction is evidence. There's a backlash against this, and some nuts who think that actual harassment is defensible join in.

    I agree with you, though, that actual harassment doesn't merit the defense it seems to sometimes receive, even in these relatively benign comment pages.

  115. James Pollock says:

    Interacting with other people without giving offense is a skill, and it is one which is easier to develop if one has certain talents and harder if one lacks those talents. (this is true whether you're talking about intergender interactions or not, in cases involving sexual negotiation or not.)
    If you accept that, although some fans of geek culture are quite skilled in this area, the aggregate average is below the aggregate average of society as a whole, you have two problems. One is people who have the requisite talents but have not (yet?) developed the skill (which takes practice), and you have people who lack the requisite underlying talents and thus face difficulty in mastering the skill.
    Now, treating people in the second category as if they were in the first is non-productive, as the solutions are not the same. A person who lacks skill due to lack of practice can improve with more practice. But a person who lacks the requisite talent underlying will probably not improve much even with practice, and expecting them to improve substantially is misguided… and applying punishment for their inability to improve is even more so.
    Alas, it is sometimes best to suggest that someone retreat from the field. Blind people are probably not destined to become expert trap shooters. Quadriplegics are probably not destined to become great athletes. Geeks with more-than-borderline-Aspergers are not going to become smooth-talking ladies' men.
    And, it's not like social-awkwardness is limited to the male portion of the geek culture, either… geek womenfolk have ALSO been known to make mating attempts that use wildly inappropriate or poorly chosen methods and techniques, as well… it's just that A) there weren't as many of them, and B) they tend to be more passive than active. (I remember one convention where corsetry suddenly became a thing… which is one thing when the person wearing a corset is 100-ish pounds, and quite another when the corsetee is pushing 250 or more.)

    I think this is ultimately a self-correcting problem. Guys that are able to master the skill of talking civilly to women will learn the skill. Guys that are not will retreat to whatever outcast-driven enclave is willing to support their inability. Women who subject themselves to geek-heavy events will learn to instruct the poorly approach-skilled, or they'll get tired of it and attend events where the poorly-skilled don't attend. In other words, it's just like high-school… the popular kids will sit at the popular kids table and interact mostly with the socially-skilled, while the geeky kids will sit at the geeky kids table and do geeky-kid stuff. Only they'll be grown-ups instead of teenagers.

  116. Tarrou says:

    Posting first, reading comments later. Maybe that way I won't be annoyed when I reply.

    This is rather simple, and relies on two characteristics:

    1: The charge: "Creepy" is a pretty subjective and broad category. Just look at the real estate of human behavior that something as specific as "rape" accounts for these days and multiply by several thousand times. It's that every guy is "creepy" at times to various women, whether he intends anything or not. Contact or speech is not even required. "Did you see that creeper staring at us?". So when the witch hunt starts to stamp out "creeping" guys know that we are all on the firing line, especially those of us who may have less-than-fully-developed methods of communicating to the other sex. Ring any bells?

    2: Geek culture. It's made up of geeks, who are definitionally not that good at social interactions with women. In my geeky experience, even geeky girls don't relate that well to other women. It is a male sphere, based on intensive knowledge of obscure trivia and useless skills honed to world-class levels of proficiency. All that time spent grinding to High Warlord is time not spent learning the social intricacies of how to talk to girls.

    3: Geeks do not view themselves as "creepy", even when they undoubtedly are. We tend to see ourselves as solid and logical in a sea of emotion, and to ignore as unimportant crucial social skills. When accused of it, they know their intent, which was likely not creepy at all, but all other people can see is their behavior. Add in the absolute ease of tarring a socially awkward young man with such a damaging epithet, and the ubiquity of that threat, and I think you have your answer for why they react strongly.

    For myself, "Creepy" is another word swiftly being overused to categorize all male social behavior as perverted, pathological or evil in some way. Some men are creepy, but like porn, it's contextual, and you only know it when you see it. "Rape" is another one, but geeks tend to worry less about that because their limited social interactions with women make it unlikely they would ever be targeted by a false charge. "Creepy", for a geek, is impossible to avoid.

  117. NI says:

    I think the anger that greets discussions about sexual harassment is a symptom of a deeper issue, which is this: This is a bit of a generalization, but in general, men and women are talking about different things when they talk about gender equality. Men assume that gender equality means women are free to play under the same rules that have always existed; women assume that the rules will be changed. For example, the whole notion of employers offering flex time, work from home, and maternity leave is basically a feminist invention; before women started working outside the home, the idea was that you got ahead in your career by showing your loyalty to the company by being there when your employer needed you, and not when it was convenient to your family life. And I'm not saying flex time is a bad thing; I'm merely pointing out that one side effect of gender equality is that the workplace looks a whole lot different than it used to.

    I'm old enough to remember when women could not join the YMCA, and nude swimming was the first casualty when they did. I'm of an age in which guys swam nude, in places like the YMCA that were off limits to women. Men exercised nude, men walked around the building nude, and anyone with modesty issues would have been considered odd. And there was a certain freedom, cameraderie, male bonding, that's gone now, and I would be less than honest if I didn't admit that I miss it. Guys who are too young to remember it don't miss it, but guys my age mostly do.

    And it's really only in that context — will women be allowed to play under the current rules, or will they be allowed to change the rules — that the tension in this discussion can be understood.

  118. Ken White says:

    @Evelyn:

    Show me some actual harassment cases, and not just people being borish. All you have is lame anecdotes that do not pass the laugh test.

    This, fundamentally, is a clash of values. If the linked examples are to you merely "boorish," and make you laugh (for example, those here), then you have a free speech right to say so, and I have a free speech right to say that's creepy and disordered, and a free association right to avoid you.

    You see 'harassment' I just see normal human borish behavior. I can give you as many examples involving women as the 'perps' as you've listed men (and then some).

    Perhaps you've been hanging around different people than I have; I don't see that as normal. Moreover, you are free, like Humpty Dumpty, to make "harassment" mean whatever you want, but the links are full of examples that would be sexual harassment under any legal definition or any commonly accepted definition.

    Trouble is, that the paranoia and rumours/myths you promote ends up as my *personal* problem and I am feeling harassed by concerned outsiders who think 'the geek community has a problem' (and must repent). So, I'm just sending a nice polite geeky flame your way because a) I disagree and b) you're causing me actual real discomfort because *I* would like to be able to hang out on cons without strangers being paranoid about my presence being a threat to their livelihood.

    So, to sum up: you live in a world where it's harassment for me to make a social and political argument on my own blog, but it's not harassment to do these things from the link above – rather that's laughable human behavior:

    I was picked up by a man I didn’t know and carried out the room, all while I progressed from “Hey, put me down” to “Let go of me!” to hitting him until he dropped me. His response: “Fuck, you’re no fun.” The response of everyone around me: Nothing. No one tried to help.
    Guys have, more than once, walked up to me, put their hands on my breasts, and said the equivalent of “Nice tits, they’re real right?”
    Heard, “I can’t help myself, you’re just so hot,” more times than I can count.
    Been kissed on the back of the neck by a guy I didn’t know and hadn’t seen walking up behind me.

    In fact, you're harassing the entire geek community with your attempt to nanny and police us, without even being a part of it.

    So, in addition to being the Official Spokesperson for women, you are the Official Spokesperson for who is or isn't part of the entire geek community?

    Ah, behold the quality argument of 'dissenter from my valiant valid point might not be a real women' but a man posing as a female. And if I'm really female, I must be an outlier or even a traitor to the feminist cause, right?

    No, I don't subscribe to the idea that people are supposed to have a particular set of beliefs or values based on their race/gender/etc. I do, however, subscribe to the belief that on the internet it's prudent to subscribe to skepticism about whether would-be flame warriors are mere trolls or who they purport to be. That's only sensible.

    So, I hope you can see why I regard this kind of concern trolling as direct harassment of the entire geek community.

    You should definitely advocate for some sort of anti-harassment policy.

  119. @thesis_ascendant I absolutely agree that there's a lot of lumping together harassing behavior with boorish behavior, and that said lumping together is conterproductive to both civilized discourse and reducing the harassment.

    I wonder if that's in part because there are actually two different problems people are talking about, both of which are real.

    On the one hand, you've got the real harassment — unwanted touching, repeated propositions despite clear rejections, men following women around, men cornering women in elevators, etc. — perpetrated by individual men against individual women. (And yes, women also sometimes do it to men, and women do it to women, and men to it to men… but those are far less frequent, and it's not really the problem we're talking about here, so forgive me for using one-sided language for the time being for the sake of simplifying my writing.)

    On the other hand, you've got boorish behavior, which can't really be called harassment per se by each individual man who engages in it, but which really does create a hostile environment for women when you add up all the separate men engaging in it in close physical or temporal proximity.

    In other words, if one guy leers at your boobs and makes a rude comment, that's rude but presumably tolerable. But if twenty guys do it in an hour, well, that's something else entirely. In that situation no particular man is harassing you, but I'd imagine it can be just as unpleasant and perhaps even traumatizing as real harassment from a single perpetrator.

  120. David W says:

    @Jonathan
    I would like to be wrong. I'd like to believe the only people who get hammered are those who deserve it, and ideally that there aren't many people who deserve it, either.

    Frankly, though, you're doing nothing to convince me. Lizard and Ian and Steve Simmons have at least convinced me that it's more complicated than I thought and I may need to think more, but you just want someone to bash.

  121. Shane says:

    Hmmmm, I would venture to guess that many of the social awkward men that are lashing out at women were actually children of single mothers. Women struggle to raise young boys by themselves. I am not saying it is impossible I am just saying that trying to keep themselves and the kids fed leaves them emotionally distant and out of touch with their sons, because it is just not within the female experience as to what boys experience as they mature. Just so I am clear, I think two women raising a young boy are going to do a hell of a lot better and may even be superior to their heterosexual counterparts.

    These young boys are left to their own devices to determine what constitutes "normal" social behavior. Have the young boy be introverted and you have a recipe for disaster. A large majority of these boys will figure it out, but it will leave them a bit quirky, with strange but societal acceptable twists that will be worn down over time. But some of these boys will not. They are they ones that I think we are talking about.

    The hatred from these boys of women is transference of their own frustration at a mother that was never there. The macho men that women where incessantly kept down by, are not these man children, but women's frustration will come out at these inept men's societal incompetence which will create a negative feedback loop that spiral's to each sides (men / women) frustrations. And because each sides frustrations are so deep seated this can produce some nasty results.

    I think the misunderstanding comes from each side projecting their fears on the other. Women wanting to see the socially inept as the machismo man that has insulted and abused them, and Men seeing women as their mothers. These are powerful barriers to overcome.

  122. Ken White says:

    @Tarrou:

    1: The charge: "Creepy" is a pretty subjective and broad category. Just look at the real estate of human behavior that something as specific as "rape" accounts for these days and multiply by several thousand times. It's that every guy is "creepy" at times to various women, whether he intends anything or not. Contact or speech is not even required. "Did you see that creeper staring at us?". So when the witch hunt starts to stamp out "creeping" guys know that we are all on the firing line, especially those of us who may have less-than-fully-developed methods of communicating to the other sex. Ring any bells?

    I see this argument a lot: that it's problematic to complain about creepy behavior because creepiness is subjective. I suppose I could put another label on it, like "handsy" or "aggressive or unwelcome" or "boundary-crossing."

    Let me again use some specific examples of accounts that I linked to from here:

    I was asked to hand a Big Name writer a drink at a con party, I assume because I was standing next to the person pouring them, and without the author even knowing who I was, he asked me if I the girl who’d be blowing him later, or was that a different girl? He wasn’t joking, he really didn’t know which young fan would be giving him oral sex on demand, but he knew there’d have to be one.

    I was picked up by a man I didn’t know and carried out the room, all while I progressed from “Hey, put me down” to “Let go of me!” to hitting him until he dropped me. His response: “Fuck, you’re no fun.”

    Guys have, more than once, walked up to me, put their hands on my breasts, and said the equivalent of “Nice tits, they’re real right?”

    Been kissed on the back of the neck by a guy I didn’t know and hadn’t seen walking up behind me.

    Had my clothes pulled down, up, or otherwise adjusted so they could see my tattoos.

    Do you have an objection to me calling any of those creepy?

    I can imagine the existence of men (and women) who for reasons of upbringing or non-neurotypical status having difficulty understanding that such conduct is creepy. But to be perfectly blunt, I don't see why everyone else should have to put up with feeling creeped out to accommodate such people. Why, exactly, should we refrain from calling out that behavior?

  123. Lizard says:

    @thesis: Yeah, I've been informed I am an enemy of all wymminkind because I admit that if I see an attractive woman crossing a public space two dozen feet from me, I feel no great compulsion to pull an Oedipus Rex and pluck out my eyes, lest my all-powerful, soul-destroying, gaze linger on her for 0.0001 seconds and completely and utterly destroy her personhood for eternity. (I've been told, quite sincerely, that it doesn't matter whether or not she even *notices* that I glanced at her for second; my mental awareness that someone is attractive is a vile and contemptible sin. The sour-faced Baptists in the audience nod in agreement.)

    I happily mock such extremists. You know, like I just did. Sure, it's shooting fish in a barrel, but I'm lazy. I'll take the easy shots.

    I'm not going to let the presence of the handful of neovictorians turn me into a defender of assholery, harassment, or an advocate of constantly "forgiving" offensive behavior because people who can memorize 500+ pages of rules for Advanced Squad Leader claim to find it too difficult to learn "Don't grab someone's breasts unless/until they have, explicitly, told you 'These are my breasts. Grab them.'" (As one of the Perennially Clueless myself, that's pretty much what women who were attracted to me had to do to get through my Wall of Obliviousness. ("Hmm… she's told me three times in the last 10 minutes that her roommate won't be in their room. Hmm. I think she's afraid of going back to an empty room. I'd better stay with her here in the Con Suite until she feels comfortable going back."))

    Using the extremist minority to justify ignoring the sane majority is a con game, and I don't mean the kind you play at 1 AM in the Open Gaming Room. I won't fall for it. A look at the comment section on this thread: http://voxday.blogspot.com/2013/06/it-just-keeps-getting-better.html ought to convince anyone who is remotely close to being a marginally sane human being that there are plenty of people out there in the SF community who encourage and support each other's worst impulses.

    You can ridicule the ridiculous without defending the indefensible. It's not an all-or-nothing game where you have to pick one side and then defend it to the death. Nuance and context can exist. Anyone who insists you MUST pick one side, and take no prisoners, nor consider any compromises, is mockery worthy, and will be mocked.

  124. thesis_ascendant says:

    @Jonathan Kamens

    I'm pretty much in agreement with you, just want to make one distinction:

    You said "…if one guy leers at your boobs and makes a rude comment…"

    I'd be with you in describing that as extremely boorish. My comment's point was to completely separate the leer from the rude comment. Is leering OK if you don't say anything? If not, how many seconds are you allowed to look before it becomes unwelcome? Is there any way to not be creepy without pointedly keeping one's eyes off that area, or is that obvious enough to be creepy in its own right?

    I honestly don't know, and I'm better equipped for this than a lot of geeks.

    No need to answer, just throwing this out there as an example of the sentiment that fuels the protest.

  125. thesis_ascendant says:

    @Lizard

    Pretty much agree with you, just doing the whole devil's advocate thing. Harassment seems to have become a knee-jerk issue for some people, and that was my theory as to why.

  126. Tarrou says:

    Anecdote time, to illustrate the "creepiness" problem. I have a friend, total natural with women. Always has been. I've done all right, but he was a rockstar. One night in the pub, he looks to his right, drapes his arm across the shoulders of the strange girl who just sat down, leaned back for a good look and drops this line: "That's a great ass. I'd like to put my penis in it". And she laughs. They talk. And he disappears with her for the remainder of the night not twenty minutes later. This is inexplicable to me. Never in a million years could I have spoken those words to any female, ever, and be seen as anything but "creepy". But some people can. And for every geek who knows he can't pull it off, there's one out there who just might figure it could work. Because "creepy" is all timing and reception. You show me a creepy statement, and I guarantee you some guy, somewhere, used it to get laid. And geeks aren't dumb, they can observe similar situations.

    And if I my drift further from the solid evidence and psychoanalyze like a true amateur, geeks are the sorts of men women should like. Or at least that's what geeks think. Intelligent, good earning potential, sensitive, progressive socially etc. etc. But they aren't attractive to women and they know that too. Hence the cognitive dissonance and the anger at women for preferring the "assholes". Of course, not all women do, but substantially more than are interested in emaciated or swollen "basement dwellers". And hence the awkward periodic ill-timed aping of those self-same assholes, with the corresponding confusion and anger when women take offense.

    A thought for the girls. You control how men act around you. Not individually, of course, but collectively. Make a behavior unacceptable to women everywhere, and it dies swiftly. If we can agree that men should not make a certain gesture or verbal gambit, then you can't be rewarding certain men who do it and not others. Monkey see, monkey do.

  127. Tarrou says:

    @ Ken.

    Of those scenarios you listed, I see four assaults and some relatively common (for a celebrity) arrogance. You, of course, are welcome to call them whatever you like, but "creepy", while descriptive, is not specific. Any word which cannot distinguish a look across a room from a sexual assault is a word too vague for precise usage. It is a word meant to conflate things which are not equivalent. When you use it, you imply (to me at least) that you would like me to think "sexual assault", but in reality could be referencing any male behavior at all. Hence your reliance on situations which are clearly over social and legal lines. These situations I have no doubt are real, and there are likely far worse ones out there. It does no favors to the victims of actual harassment and sexual assault to gain points in internet arguments by conflating their pain and embarrassment with social faux pas.

  128. htom says:

    Ken, your lawn will continue to be trampled. Water frequently and deeply. If the geek / nerd / dork / dweeb / game / SF / [your pet community here] communities ever get straightened out, there are many more with similar problems.

    I think that guilt and shame and fear are three of the deeply hidden drivers. "I did that, when I was young and stupid" / "Someone did that to my friend and I didn't do anything about it" / "If I did or said that would I be outside the new bounds?"

    There's also a large demand that everything must be fixed perfectly NOW!

  129. Wondering says:

    "A thought for the girls. You control how men act around you."

    No. A million Nos. I am not responsible for your behavior. You are. I am responsible for my own. That line of reasoning is really scary.

    "Make a behavior unacceptable to women everywhere, and it dies swiftly. If we can agree that men should not make a certain gesture or verbal gambit, then you can't be rewarding certain men who do it and not others. Monkey see, monkey do."

    Women are not a monolith. We are not all one hive mind that thinks the same and acts the same and even all the same goals. We are people. Some women like things that other women don't. Some women are okay with things that other women aren't. Like all people. Expecting us to all think and act and react the same for the same end goal is expecting to us to not be people.

    Personally, I would have reacted very negatively and probably loudly to your friend's comment.

  130. Tarrou says:

    @ Ken,

    A further note, I can think of at least two of those scenarios you listed which were clearly assaults which I've seen accepted or welcomed by women. The carrying-off and the tattoo peeking, specifically. See my post above for more, but I think a lot of it really is that nerds saw this crazy thing work one time, and they want to give it a whirl. Of course, being geeks, they have neither the body language nor the social presence to make it seem lighthearted or funny. But yes, I stand witness to you today that you can get women by tossing them over your shoulder and carrying them off. I've seen it. Doesn't make it appropriate behavior, but you must admit it is confusing and infuriating for those endowed with little social skill to see the exact same behavior rewarded in others.

  131. @thesis_ascendant

    It's actually quite simple… It's boorish if it makes the woman it's directed at uncomfortable. Easy as pie, right?

    Seriously, no, not simple at all. There are a myriad of factors which go into it, and they're constantly changing, and some of them are hard to put a finger on and even harder to explain. And some of those factors are things you couldn't possibly know or be expected to know. For example: has the woman you're flirting with been con-stalked by the same guy for the past 24 hours? Or is she a nutter who thinks that anybody who glances at her is a stalker?(*)

    And yet, many and I'd venture to say perhaps even most men manage to figure it out most of the time, and avoid being perceived as boors most of the time, often without even consciously realizing they're doing it.

    That, unfortunately, doesn't help the men who find themselves unable to do so. They get more and more frustrated by being perceived as boors over and over again, and to protect their own self-image they almost have no choice but to transfer blame for that to others, and that brings us back full circle to the original topic of this thread, i.e., why so many people get so worked up about this.

    (*) I am reminding of the black man at the supermarket who decided I was a racist, and told me this so loudly and at such great length that the store manager came over to settle things down, because I put one of those dividers on the belt between my groceries and his. The checkout clerk was also black, and he was absolutely convinced that the only reason I could possibly feel the need to separate my groceries from those of the next customer was because I had looked at the color of her skin and decided from it that she was too stupid to be able to tell where my groceries ended and his began.

  132. KatAttack says:

    My aunt was the first and only female salesman at a steel plant. One of her "colleagues" thought it was funny to hover over her making panting noises while oogling her chest. My aunt asked him to stop it but he didn't. He was having too much fun.

    The tipping point was reached when he did this in a staff meeting in front the CEO and everybody. My aunt snapped and punched him. HARD. Knocked him on his butt. Naturally he was a bit peeved and tried to charge my aunt only to be held back.

    The "colleague" put in his notice the next day and after that my aunt went from being the "the girl" to being one of the guys. Nobody gave her a lick of grief after that.

    The CEO never said a word.

    Girls are brought up to act "lady like" and punching people is definitely *not* lady like. But sometimes its the only thing that will get through to a guy, which makes it somewhat unfortunate that we are so strongly conditioned against it.

  133. Kat says:

    I'm not sure if I wanna dive into the comments here (for all the reasons you've outlined above), but I did want to say thank you. I'm not exactly sure what I'm thanking you for, except that 1) I know you're someone I respect, 2) you're talking sensibly on the subject, and 3) you are not a fellow lady. When women mention the out-of-proportion anger, inevitably men with this type of anger tend to go, "Well of course she would complain, she has something to gain from complaining" and tune it out. But they will listen to man who says the same thing. Or at least that's the experience I've had.

    I have already seen that there are comments on here that will irritate/exasperate me, and I know exactly what answering them will get me. Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead. :p

  134. Tarrou says:

    @ Wondering.

    You are not personally responsible for the behavior of anyone but yourself. And I wouldn't dream of placing that on you. And I did not say that women are monolithic. In fact, quite the opposite. I'm saying that because female desires and attractions are heterogenous, men get conflicting messages about what is appropriate and useful in dealing with women.
    Some men can do things that others cannot, and there's no logic to it. Much of the "PUA" community so lamented around here is based around trying to put logic to that very problem, or at least sell a type of logic to other men.
    What I'm saying is observation, not prescription necessarily. Any behavior unacceptable to at least the overwhelming majority of women impedes a man's access to sex. Men will hence jettison it, posthaste. To bring the topic full circle, and to repeat what I said in reply to Ken, some women reward the very behavior being criticized here. And if you think men in general or even geeks in particular care more about what Popehat says than what they see being rewarded with sex, you are truly in the weeds.
    It isn't your job to police the behavior of other women (nor is it mine). But you can't expect behavior that results in sex to be eradicated by a high-minded internet campaign. And you can't expect men to not emulate what they see working. Sorry.

  135. Kat says:

    @Wondering: Thank you! That's exactly what I would have said if you hadn't said it five minutes earlier.

    Now I really should leave the comments section before I get sucked in and end up blowing my homework time on internet rage.

  136. princessartemis says:

    @thesis_ascendent, looking isn't a problem. Staring is rude, but hard to avoid at times, so forgivable. Leering is a whole other thing. Leering is not just looking; it has some action behind it, it is intentional. It's the difference between "Wow!" and undressing someone, piece by provocative, lacy piece, with one's eyes.

    I have some confidence that even the most sheltered of heterosexual men can figure out how to look without leering.

  137. b says:

    @David W

    Forgive me if I've read this wrong, but are you suggesting that there are some people that deserve assault?

    No, no, no, no. It is not be a person's responsibility to "NOT GET RAPED". It is a person's responsibility to "NOT RAPE".

    Please.. tell me I read that wrong?

  138. sorrykb says:

    Tarrou wrote:

    But you can't expect behavior that results in sex to be eradicated by a high-minded internet campaign. And you can't expect men to not emulate what they see working. Sorry.

    So… I should assume that men are mindless animals, incapable of thought and self-restraint? Talk about sexism… I actually think better of men than that.
    P.S. There's plenty of behavior abhorrent to the overwhelming majority of women that hasn't ended.

  139. AlanMorgan says:

    Wait, VoxDay is "alarmingly close to the mainstream"? He thinks that acid attacks on women are the price you pay for a civilized society (*). He's not even close to the maintributary.

    I hope.

    (*) I am not exaggerating.

  140. Ken White says:

    @Tarrou: there is no no social or legal privilege to the effect of "this could possibly result in sex, so therefore you should excuse it."

    The conservation reminds me, a bit, of discussions in college. Some people maintain that resistance or "no" means no. Some people would respond that "sometimes women just say that and want you to press a bit more." My position, and the position of people I respected, was generally that (1) I'll assume that resistance or no means no, and (2) a hypothetical woman who plays games and says no when she means yes is probably bunny-boiling trouble anyway, and best avoided. "But," people on the other side would argue, "what if you're wrong? What if she's waiting for you to press some more?" Then, I suppose, I've lost an opportunity to have sex. Oh well.

    Similarly, the fact that everyone has heard of an anecdote where guy said something repulsive and a woman reacted well doesn't mean that everyone has license to try without social consequences. Might, if you said "hey, wanna fuck" to 1000 women, one say "yes?" Perhaps. But there is no "I am entitled to do anything that might lead to sex" exception to the general rule that you face the social consequences of your actions. You still deserve to be treated as someone who says "hey, wanna fuck?" to complete strangers because you are hoping for that one woman in a thousand and don't particularly care about how the other 999 feel about it.

    The fact that some people will act idiosyncratically to obnoxious behavior is not an excuse for obnoxious behavior. If I start a bar fight with a thousand guys in a thousand rough bars, a handful will shake my hand afterwards and say "hell of a fight," and maybe buy me a beer. That doesn't make it socially acceptable to start bar fights. That doesn't mean that if I go around starting bar fights, I shouldn't be treated like someone who likes to start bar fights.

  141. Ken White says:

    @AlanMorgan: I don't mean "alarmingly close to the mainstream" as a compliment. I mean that nutty and frothing freakery is more common and closer to accepted on issues of gender than on, say, issues of race. "Society conspires to advance the interests of women over men, and women can't be trusted" is tolerated to a greater extent than the same comment with "blacks" substituted would be, for no logical reason.

  142. Wondering says:

    Tarrou, men are no different than this: "I'm saying that because female desires and attractions are heterogenous, men get conflicting messages about what is appropriate and useful in dealing with women. Some men can do things that others cannot, and there's no logic to it."

    Some men react well to certain behaviors in women and some do not. Lots of men do not like women coming onto them at all. I speak from experience. Lots of other men are fine with it. There is absolute logic in it. The logic is that *people* have different preferences and comfort zones. Assuming that one woman will like something just because another woman did is to assume a monolith. Respond and interact with people as people, with different desires and preferences: that is the logic. Is it hard to figure out. Yes. As is any personal interaction.

    On a related note, is anyone here familiar with Dr. Nerdlove's blog? He has a dating site specifically geared toward male nerds and frequently deals with these topics of social awkwardness and not being a creeper and such. I've seen several comments here about how (male?) nerds aren't taught how to not be socially awkward or how it's a lost cause at this point in their lives. Well, that's a blog that's trying to teach and help. I don't always agree with what he's saying, but it's a resource that's trying to make a difference.

  143. OngChotwI says:

    When I was growing up, I was taught that women should not be treated as mere sexual objects. In '91, I walked around Greenlake in the Seattle area with a Bi female, and was treated to a description of all the lovelies that walked the other way in terms I thought were non appropriate. My! What lovely female body parts walking past us!

    I was told that it was well neigh a sin to stare at a female's sexual organs. i.e. to not be a live bobblehead while watching a lady move from one location to another. At the 1986 and 87 NorWesCon and Alternacon there were 1. close to 50% females present, and 2. a costume ball. A group came in dressed as a Queen and all her ladies in waiting – giant hoop skirts, with tops that ended just below the breasts – cinched tight so the belly was half it's normal diameter. Red crushed velvet, as if giant flower boxes held from a window ledge, spilled out around the No-Look-Zone. Just above the aereola, a bed of white fluffery was planted in these giant flower boxes in front of these group of women. And I'm supposed to believe that these costumes were designed such that males were not supposed to pay attention to the marvelous Tracts of Land on display? (Tis like being tasked to visit a strip club and ignore the pasties..)

    And I was taught that public groping was a no-no.. but then I attended a kilted wedding in London, England and found out that the first thing U.K. females do after a couple drinks at a wedding reception is find out whether you're wearing your kilt correctly. And they're doing this while standing next to their husbands. (If this is one of the worst social blunders a male with no social skills can make (groping a female) – then why is turnabout considered fair play?)

    All the rules I learned ended up not being universal. Except the fact that if someone keeps chanting, "The computer is your friend!" you should stay away from them. (This is not a reference to general geekdom – it's about an obscure game that was popular back around the time Bukaroo Bonzai (the movie) and Howard The Duck (the movie) came out. )

    Do conventions nowadays have a video and test online to show how to interact with other con goers, that would give at least a few ideas on how to say.. pick one's jaw off the ground, walk up to a 17th century costumed lady and say, "How fareth thee, mylady?" To give them a number of ideas on appropriate praise so they don't instantly come off as a creeper or sexual harasser?

  144. David W says:

    @b: No! Not in any way!

    And, if I've been so unclear as to make that a possible reading of my comments, then I should probably stop.

  145. Tarrou says:

    @sorrykb

    No. That's not what you should assume, but if you got that from what I wrote, I doubt I can help with your assumptions. What I said was that sex is a stronger drive for most men than internet approval from Ken @ Popehat.

    Men are clearly capable of self-restraint, some more than others, but overall, pretty good at it.

    Allow me to make a ridiculous fake scenario to explain this (it may appeal to your sense of humor or mental age). You are a man, a young man, whose most driving biological urge is to procreate. You are a decent and sensible man, who would never want to hurt a woman. You are in a public place. You see another man walk up to a woman, and say "Purple Elephants". She laughs, flirts, they talk, then leave together. Then you see another man approach a different woman, same thing "Purple Elephants", and off they go. Then you spot a third woman, and she does not have someone monopolizing her. You screw up your courage, walk over, and what do you say?

    The sex drive is only the motivation. What we are talking about is social conventions. And there are social conventions for handsome and articulate, confident guys, and there are social conventions for skinny prematurely balding gamers with halitosis and a stutter. And the problem is that some gamers and geeks don't understand or accept that they are second-class citizens in the dating world. They think they can do what other men do, and are rewarded for. It is precisely their self-restraint and thought which handicaps them.

    What amazes me is that most of them do all right. Most of them learn the ropes, at least to a rudimentary degree. Some of us put a lot of work into it. Some don't. But none of us want to be the sort of man who makes women uncomfortable. We're just not always sure how to not be that guy, other than avoiding women completely.

  146. Ken White says:

    @OngChotwI

    I've never followed the logic of this argument.

    Imagine that I turned it around on you.

    "My wife calls me 'sweetie' and is fine when I call her 'sweetie.' But when I called a judge 'sweetie' in court the other day she got all mad.

    Some women say that sexual violence is wrong. But that serial killer Aileen Wuornos killed a bunch of sexual partners.

    Women say that I shouldn't grope strangers. But once a strange woman groped me at a party.

    WTF, women? Make up your minds."

    This is just silly.

  147. Tarrou says:

    @ Wondering

    You are completely right about men's preferences, of course. I do not deny it. However, one of the many social conventions is that overall and on average, men are expected to make the first move. We are expected to be sexually aggressive (not violently so, but assertive, so to speak). This is particularly hard for geeks. I think that if you looked at it, you'd see that geeks and gamers respond far better to aggressive women than other men. It relieves them of the stress of doing what they know they aren't much good at. Aggressive men might see it as encroaching on what they do naturally and respond worse. I have no science for that, it's just a guess based on my friends, geeky and otherwise.

  148. ChrisTS says:

    Not CA:
    "Sexism" as an issue is generally owned by the hard-left Marxist theorist types."

    Jesus cripes. NO.

    ZK:
    "I can understand, after having been in multiple arguments about if Margaret Atwood is a sexist for writing The Handmaiden's Tale,"

    You are hanging out with some very strange people if they think THE anti-sexist novel of the 20th century was sexist.

    Sorrykb:

    'I'm picturing the "socially awkward nature preserve," but done "Wild Kingdom" style with the hapless Jim and a net. (Yes, I'm dating myself by mentioning this.)'

    HA. I watched the real one with Marlin Perkins!

    I could not get through all the thread. Apologies. I would ask people to go back to the near-top and reread Irk's post. Far too many women have put up with this endless stream of crap since childhood. Perhaps we are 'sensitive.' just like the poor nerdy Geeks.

  149. Tarrou says:

    @ Ken

    I'm not saying any behavior which results in sex is ok. I'm saying that it's hard to eradicate. Anything which results in sex is going to be hard to eradicate, hence prostitution. And I'm using it to explain the cognitive dissonance of men who cannot see why their use of behavior which is fine in other men and other situations consistently fails, and is called "creepy". This is social convention and for better or worse, we must all learn to walk these lines. I did. I am not excusing the behavior, and I'm not condoning it. I'm attempting to explain. For what it's worth, I think a guy tossing a girl over his shoulder and hauling her off to his room was worrying enough to check in on and make sure everything was kosher. Lets just say that had she wanted to leave, he couldn't have stopped her, restrained as he was.

    The simple thing is, the first person to make an advance never knows if it is welcome until after they do it. To the degree that men go first, and women expect it, we must learn to navigate that minefield. But as I said above, the use of terms like "creepy" to encompass wide swaths of behavior from the completely innocuous (or misunderstood) to the totally criminal does no one any favors, except those trying to demonize wide swaths of male behavior.

  150. Orphan says:

    Ken –

    It's a legitimate argument. Societal rules are, in fact, whatever society agrees upon. The only evidence we have of what the rules are is how people behave and how people respond to it. There's not a book somewhere you can consult to determine what the appropriate behavior is; you just either know it or don't. And even if you know it, it can change on you without any warning.

    We do, in fact, emulate other people's behavior, in order to learn how to behave. In thirty years are -you- going to be the creepy person who didn't update their behavior to new societal norms? Or are you just engaged in motivated reasoning here and giving spectacularly bad advice?

    (That's not to say you shouldn't treat people as individuals, but you should treat them as members of society before you get to know them as individuals, which is exactly that aspect of social interaction we're talking about here. For all intents and purposes, people -should- be treated as monolithic at that point in social interaction. To do otherwise would be… well, creepy.)

  151. @Tarrou: "…I think a lot of it really is that nerds saw this crazy thing work one time, and they want to give it a whirl…"

    You are absolutely right. However.

    Part of trying to repeat a trick that you saw requires a willingness to accept the consequences. If I watched "Hackers" and tried to write a virus, most nerds would guffaw and say "That was never gonna work", but will try hitting on a girl using a Han Solo line.

    There's two more pieces that are a chunk of this as well:
    1) They don't see the complexity. They see someone say something witty, and don't see the nuances (eye contact, faint smiles, whatever) that cue "It's now ok to do that".

    2) They don't see "girls" (women) as people. I don't mean that in as horrible a way as it sounds (although can be). They see women as being "other" so they can't sympathize so they see them as objects.

    Once you realize that whatever gender you're interested in thinks verrrry much the same that you do (as long as we're still dealing with humans), you're most of the way home – Ohm and all you need after that is "as long as you remember individual variations". Oh, and "Just because you luuuuurve them, they don't have to luuuuurve you "Oh, and also….wait! there's more, you just have to remember to never, EVER touch the History Era*static*
    –signal lost–

  152. Ken White says:

    FWIW, two posts about how not to be a creeper: here and here.

    I don't find them particularly inscrutable or unfair.

    Here's the thing: life as an adult is about accepting consequences. If some people want to use aggressive "strategies" and come-ons they have seen or heard about, they're going to have to live with the social consequences. I don't get the sentiment that they should be protected from those consequences.

  153. b says:

    @ David W

    Oh thank goodness, apologies mate!! The internet is a daaaark place sometimes, and I've ventured a bit too far today…. I'm also having a bit of trouble with the threading down here in the comment section, so all apologies on my part. (See I mention making someone feel uncomfortable….and here's my ensuing mortification…!)

    I think your comment referring to "no evidence" just hit a nerve that was already raw from my internet spelunking. I needed an internet palate cleanser I think!

    I don't think it is prudent to paint anyone with a broad brush, and I do love me some geekmen. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that there are no false accusations of assault/creeping/what have you, but here's a personal anecdote (less indicative of geek culture but just culture in general):

    the only way to prove that something out of the ordinary happened to me once was the handprint I left on my assaulter's face after he grabbed my ass. I was in jeans, and in such a crowded space, no one seemed to notice. (Only a friend when they saw the steam coming out of my ears and nose) And yes, I'm ashamed that I did that, but I was young and completely unable to fathom someone else's unwelcome hands on my body. He called me a bitch and threatened to get security. I completely rationally panicked and GTFO. There's no real resource for "What to do when you are assaulted" (Although that scalzi blog helps!) I was afraid no one would believe me, I had no proof, no one saw it, and the assaulter was part of a much bigger group. (In addition to the already mentioned fact that his face had a pink print matching my hand size.)

    I guess the point of this is, these things DO happen.

    But seriously, I'm sorry if someone condemned you because of your gender, but I'd also posit they really weren't such great people anyway. Regardless of what your sexual orientation is, the world is much richer for the mix of us all together, and to exclude someone because of what they've got in their pants seems like a terribly limiting way to live.

    Now I'm trying to think of a witty t-shirt that says something about not caring about what you've got in your pants…..I think that's enough internet for today!

  154. James Pollock says:

    ""A thought for the girls. You control how men act around you."
    No. A million Nos. I am not responsible for your behavior. You are. I am responsible for my own. That line of reasoning is really scary."
    If you aren't providing clear, unambiguous feedback, you're part of the problem. If someone offends you, say so clearly and, if it seems necessary, explain why. If you remain silent and just complain about it later, nothing is improved. Now, speaking promptly and clearly serves two purposes… it conveys negative reinforcement to negative behavior (on their part), and it gives him a chance at rebuttal if you are actually in the wrong. Either way, communication is improved.

  155. Syd says:

    I think that if you looked at it, you'd see that geeks and gamers respond far better to aggressive women than other men.

    I've definitely found this to be true – it's why I learned to be an aggressive woman. I got tired of talking to friends after the fact and saying, "ugh, I had such a huge crush on you, sorry about that," and getting "what? I didn't know that! I liked you too!"

    @Tarrou:

    Or at least that's what geeks think. Intelligent, good earning potential, sensitive, progressive socially etc. etc. But they aren't attractive to women and they know that too. Hence the cognitive dissonance and the anger at women for preferring the "assholes".

    I think this is also part of the problem. A lot of the nerd community was subjected to ACTUAL bullying as kids by the guys who later grew up to be successful financiers, athletic people, or just generally successful people in a non-computer-related field. And a lot of them also never started associating with these people again when they became adults and got out of the age group where bullying is fairly socially acceptable. A lot of non-nerd adult males are also sensitive people with high-income potentials (law students not included…) who women like better not because they're assholes who made fun of nerds in fifth grade because it was socially acceptable, but because they grew into successful people who are able to adapt to new norms of socially acceptable behavior. I was a bitch when I was 9, too – I used to beat up my friend's kid brother because he was always trying to tag along when we were hung out. Now he's a great musician, and I go to his gigs and bring him cookies. People grow up. The same victim mentality that makes some women cry "harassment" every time a guy looks at her cleavage makes some other men, a disproportionately high number of which are geeks, cry "unfairness and alpha bias" whenever a girl goes out with someone not-them. And a few of them try to act the way they imagine the adult fifth-grade athlete would act were he seeking to acquire women – leading to juvenile and boorish behavior towards them. Again, not all geeks had bad social childhoods, most geeks are nice to women, but the few that aren't often, in my experience, have a bit of the same victim complex that they so despise in the extremes of harassment accusations.

    @Colin – I buy that. Nobody (reasonable) feels attacked when someone complains about someone else's over-the-line behavior; many feel attacked when someone complains about behavior they themselves feel is innocuous and might engage in. My salsa dancing example was perhaps poorly chosen – I was picking randomly among things I don't particularly have interest in.

    @David W: Although, if Ken really believes 15% of everyone would do this if not shown the stick, maybe I live a sheltered life. Maybe people who can't understand basic morals and respect for coworkers, can't hack it in engineering, either.
    This is just wrong. I live in an area of the city where a lot of income brackets and cultures intersect. I literally am shouted at (sexually) by guys on the street literally every other time I try to walk to the subway alone. It's unpleasant to have someone shout about your butt or how pretty you are or how you're "working that today, mmmm" every time you want to go out. I don't think most or probably even any of the guys doing it or rapers or murderers or sexual batterers, but they ARE sexual harassers, and it's probably in large part because there's no stick discouraging them from shouting at women on the street.

    And a lot of guys I talk to don't get that this is a thing that really actually happens all the time. I have a friend who reads posts about street harassment and says, "these women exaggerate everything. People don't actually do that – they just don't want ugly people to talk to them. This is why I'm afraid to talk to girls, because they construe everything as harassment." Most of us don't mean the ugly guy at the bar who offers to buy us a drink, we mean the guy on the street corner who tells us about how great our ass is looking on our way to work. But some people, particularly geeky men who don't have a lot of experience around the types of people who engage in street harassment, read that sort of criticism as applying to them. I would imagine that some of that goes on in the geek community – men reacting poorly to harassment complaints because they can't believe that something actually worthy of complaint is going on in their community. Like what Lizard was saying about the open-mindedness of the culture above.

  156. Syd says:

    …Blockquote fail

  157. @OngChotwI:
    "Do conventions nowadays have a video and test online…of ideas on appropriate praise so they don't instantly come off as a creeper or sexual harasser?"

    I can give you a UNIVERSAL RULE that will work in at least most of the Western World. (I can't vouch for anywhere else).

    To Give Praise Without Looking Like A Creeper:

    1) Meet the persons gaze
    2) Smile in a friendly manner and say "That's a marvelous (Insert Term)*!"
    3) Accept any response with a gracious nod. Just smile and raise your eyebrows if you don't know how to nod graciously.
    4) Walk. Away. (Or continue what you were doing before you saw the person)

    *Any other short compliment that does not include references to primary or secondary sexual characteristics is also likely acceptable.

    I could explain it in detail, but I do feel it should be pretty elementary.

    I'll also note that one of the cons I attend actually does have panels on flirting, and various similar subjects.

    Your question about the UK Kilted Wedding thing is as ridiculous on it's face as your comment about an "obscure game"…Hmph.

    http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101107004348AALCvHi

  158. Ken White says:

    @JamesPollack

    If you aren't providing clear, unambiguous feedback, you're part of the problem. If someone offends you, say so clearly and, if it seems necessary, explain why. If you remain silent and just complain about it later, nothing is improved. Now, speaking promptly and clearly serves two purposes… it conveys negative reinforcement to negative behavior (on their part), and it gives him a chance at rebuttal if you are actually in the wrong. Either way, communication is improved.

    This is swell in theory. Except people who actually do this get whined at for being "bitchy" and "oversensitive" and "always offended" and "touchy."

    Also: there are plenty of times where no "rebuttal" is invited or needed. If I come up to a woman and say "you really have a great ass," she is under no obligation to help me along in my journey of self-discovery in which I find out that some people don't like that, and she is under no obligation to ask for, and then sit through, my lengthy and indignant self-defense about how it is perfectly rational for me to assume an acceptable percentage of women will like it when I say that.

  159. Robert Dole says:

    People emotionally attach themselves to the subcultures of which they're a member. When someone points out problems with that culture, even if the problems are true and something that no reasonable person should ever have grounds to defend, they feel threatened and lash out at the outsider.

    Is it rational? No, of course not. But it's a thing that people do. It's one of the most common human behaviors on display; if you look for it, you'll see it hundreds of times a day, everywhere.

    The reason the gaming sexism thing draws more volume is pretty much "men who play video games" is the largest group of people on the internet.

    Not trying to be a jerk here, but how are both of these facts not immediately obvious to you?

  160. b says:

    shoot, I forgot to link the Everyday Sexism Project:

    http://www.everydaysexism.com/

    or

    @EverydaySexism

  161. James Pollock says:

    The real problem with conversations about "creepy" is that its so slippery… the exact same behavior is "creepy" or not depending on who's doing it. If THAT guy wants to do it, that's OK, but if any of THOSE guys do it, that's creepy (with a large variety of specific actions substitutable for "it", ranging from "look in my direction" to "handle my personal personal regions".) Of course, WHEN a suggestion arrives can also be either in or outside of the "creepy" range. Knowing whether or not an advance (or just act of personal familiarity) will be welcomed or not is difficult for the best of us, and holding us to impossible standards satisfies nobody. Since traditionally all responsibility for initiative is upon the man, so is all the risk of offense.

  162. Oh, Hell No. says:

    @James Pollock
    Your post at 5:20p, is CLEARLY victim blaming. Women are taught from a young age that if they are treated badly by men, it is their fault. They are taught to be meek. When men attack, we are taught that we caused it, or at the very least, we encouraged it, or if it must be said, we did not deter it.

    NO.

    YOU are blaming the victim. Responsiblity for assault is on the perpetrator, not the victim.

    Your comments are the exact reason women DON'T speak up, instead, panic and run and won't come forward. THAT perpetuates the problem.

    When I was sexually assaulted, I was too young (yeah, younger…nope, still younger)to say no, and the people I trusted most to do it for me failed me. I had no frame of reference to tell my rapist no.

    To this day, my rapist is free. Thirty years later? I doubt I was his last victim.

    I did NOT encourage him. I did not incite him. And by not telling him "no" in clear and uncertain terms, I was not part of the problem.

    I was raped. By a man with more physical power and more authority than I had. I said nothing. I made myself safe by keeping silent until he could not physically retaliate against me.

    The responsibility for THAT lies on my rapist. Not on me.

  163. Quiet Lurcker says:

    @Ken –

    To get back to the theme of your questions, I submit these possible explanations for so much angst.

    1. Double standards – LOTS of double standards
    2. Emotional reactions to the subject of rape/sexual assault/gender-based harassment are not monolithic even within genders. Some men and women both will support the victim; some men and women both will support the aggressor.
    3. How often does sexual harassment/assault TRULY occur in the school/workplace? Or, turning it around, how often is sexual harassment/assault in the eye of the beholder? I submit that that happens way more than we'd like to admit, even to ourselves.
    4. Political correctness and sexism/counter-sexism are too closely intertwined with one another.
    5. A lot of the discussion of the subject seems unavoidably laden with emotionally charged language.
    6. Our culture seems to be having a hard time settling on how to cope with the subject of sex in general. And finally,
    7. Thin skins generally.

  164. Trebuchet says:

    @NotClaudeAkins:

    Trying to grope my way back to the main thrust, here: "Sexism" as an issue is generally owned by the hard-left Marxist theorist types.

    You've anti-Godwinned the thread. You still lose. At least, you lose all credibility.

    @Ken — I'm both glad and sorry that you posted on this. Sorry because I'm a semi-regular poster on FreeThoughtBlogs and I'm getting tired of it, and glad because it's still merits discussion. I'm a bit of a nerd myself (what other kind of person hurls pumpkins for fun?) but I'd never do some of the stuff I'm hearing about. Not to mention harrassing someone for two years for the heinous crime of saying "Guys, don't do that."

    Off topic, Ken, thanks for the e-mail this morning about my banning problem. I'm SO glad that I'm finally able to read Popehat! We can haz new Prenda thread, pleeze?

  165. sorrykb says:

    Ken posted some helpful links on how not to be a creeper.
    For the tl;dr folks, here's another quick reference:
    1. Assume that no one wants to be assaulted.
    2. Assume that people want to be treated with respect.
    3. Go to 1. Repeat.

  166. Chris Adams says:

    @James Pollack: Saying things like “If you aren't providing clear, unambiguous feedback, you're part of the problem” is a textbook example of the problem: women do not exist to train you to be a decent person — that's your responsibility.

  167. Wondering says:

    "If you aren't providing clear, unambiguous feedback, you're part of the problem. If someone offends you, say so clearly and, if it seems necessary, explain why. If you remain silent and just complain about it later, nothing is improved. Now, speaking promptly and clearly serves two purposes… it conveys negative reinforcement to negative behavior (on their part), and it gives him a chance at rebuttal if you are actually in the wrong. Either way, communication is improved."

    No. Again, a million Nos. First, you are talking about reaction to a behavior. The problematic behavior has already happened at this point. I am not responsible for anyone's behavior but my own. Saying women are responsible for men's behavior is scary. So, my skirt was too short, or I went to a party without a male friend, or a group of my women friends and I went to a bar? And so I'm responsible for the behavior of the men who try to harass me? Hell no.

    Also, I have never been quiet about people being assholes to me (unless I felt unsafe in doing so at that time), men or women. That hasn't stopped continuing asshole behavior aimed at me in the future by other assholes. And I have always been called a bitch or told I was overreacting or a feminazi or frigid or humorless or a myriad of other insults when I have. So, yeah. Don't make this women's responsibility. Each person is responsible for their own behavior. Do not abdicate responsibility. Do not tell me I'm part of the problem if I was silent when I felt unsafe.

    Or, you know, what Ken and Oh, Hell No said.

    Tarrou, your explanation might make sense if it was only non-nerd men I encountered who had a problem with me coming onto them. It was not. Nerd men (not all, just the ones I encountered) are included in that group who reacted badly. I think you're doing that thing we nerds like to do where we try to logic our way into a solution to a problem or explain away points we've considered and dismissed, in this case: a prediction of human dating behavior. Treating people as individuals with personal likes and dislikes is what I've settled on as the only logical approach.

  168. Oh, Hell No. says:

    @chris Adams Thank you. I went to my scared (and scarred, such as it is) place when I posted, but you say it so much more eloquently.

  169. Adela says:

    Replace the lawn with patio brick so you just have to hose off any mess.
    Nice to see a few souls here not only get it but in a very succinct way. While the the rest go out of their way to rationalize and excuse the crap in very long winded faux intellectual ways. There is a reason why I have said No Fucking More to geek culture and it's infantile bullshit.

  170. @James Pollock: "the exact same behavior is "creepy" or not depending on who's doing it"

    I _know_!! It so *@&#& unfair!!!!! I mean I was at a business function the other night and I saw this guy come up and punch our CEO in the arm and yell "you old asshole" and he was laughing and everyone was laughing and I wanted to have everyone laugh and make my CEO like me cos I know he'd like me if he got to know me so I went up and punched him even harder and yelled "you asshole" but then they dragged me out an I got fired and WHY!??!?

    WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY???????

    Stupid CEO. It all his fault.

    *aaaaand CUT!*

    Yeah, I know it’s a little overdone, but as Dogbert says: "sometime sarcasm helps us to see things more clearly".

  171. Canonical says:

    It's not awkwardness. Most of us (women, men too, I imagine) know awkward when we see it. It's the guy that won't stop trying to put an arm around you when you say, "Stop that". It's the guy that follows you around all day and all the next day, staring at you. It's the ones who, after you've said, "no", "not interested", "go away" and "Leave me the hell alone!" who then follow you so they can "apologize". I don't have to listen to or accept your apology. No, you don't deserve a pat on the head for "apologizing" especially when I've said, "leave me alone". Go. Away.

    Being a woman means that if I go to play at a chess tournament, I'd better find somewhere outside the skittles room to try and plan my match because I'll have guys asking me out, offering to buy me a soda, trying to touch my hair. If I go to a maker-space, I'm not going to get much work done because I'll be too busy saying, "no, I'm not tense and really don't want a shoulder rub". If I go to a con, it's checking to see how many people are on the elevator, staying out of rooms I can't easily remove myself from, and saying, "no!" a lot–no, don't grab my ass, no, don't grab my breast, no, I don't want you fondling any part of my body. Jesus H. Christ, isn't/shouldn't that be apparent to any adult as unacceptable behavior? And I'm not even one of the poor souls cosplaying–I'm there in jeans and t-shirt.

    I read a lot of, "Well, boys will be boys…*masculine chuckle", but think about it–what if it was you mom? Your sister? Your girlfriend, your daughter, your wife, a female friend? What then? No big deal, right? "Yeah, honey, he grabbed your tit, but who can blame him? Hey, guy! You've got good taste!" *boggles*

    I swear, the next time I hear some guy asking if I was really, really, ultra-emphatically clear to some offensive guy (and I think, "Leave me the fuck alone!" in raised tones should be reasonably clear), I'm going to start wearing a steel gauntlet and punching the offender in the nuts. That should be *perfectly* clear.

  172. sorrykb says:

    P.S. Saying "hey nice tits, I want to fuck you" to woman on the street (as a total stranger said to me one day near my office) is not OK.
    And no, James Pollack, I did not respond other than to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. And I'm sorry you don't understand why I would not respond directly, but… whether something like this happens in the middle of the afternoon in downtown L.A., or at a crowded convention, you're already feeling humiliated and alone and you don't know if it's safe to speak up, because (as Ken pointed out) look how people react. (And as Ken also said, I have no obligation to correct someone else's apparently inability to not be an asshole.)

  173. Boy Named Pseu says:

    First off, +1 to what Orphan, Evelyn, and David W have said.

    The movement against "sexual harassment" these days does indeed define pretty much every man as a rape supporter. It is, in fact, nothing less than all-out cultural warfare against men and masculinity. The "locker room mentality" has as much right to exist in the world as you do.

    And it's not merely a debate over the merits of behaviors, either: both government law* and the rules of work places and schools have become so biased that a mere accusation with no evidence can get a guy's life ruined, get him kicked out of his home (even if he owns it) and his job, with no real chance to defend himself.

    Under those conditions, every discussion of the topic is a threat. It's like getting stopped and asked your views on race 100 years ago by a group of KKK. Pretending that it isn't so, and that there is still a functioning marketplace of ideas is like pretending that there is such a thing as a voluntary encounter with the police: saying it only throws away your credibility.

    It is the people given unfair power by these outrageous laws and policies who need to be told "check your privilege," not men.

    All laws and policies regarding sex need to be rolled back to about what they were in 1970 — even if it means that some "quid pro quo" behavior will once again be out there. Then we need to legalize the sex trade, so that those women who (in my view) provoked the conflict in the first place by acting as a cartel will face needed competition.

    @Jonathan Kamens: You don't get it. The so-called victims of so-called harassment are usually the bad guys.

    * not just the "sexual harassment" law but also VAWA and the various laws named after children killed by crazy people — and the crusade that put them in place, which commonly leads juries to assume guilt and forces judges to over-punish.

  174. AlanMorgan says:

    @Tarrou: The simple thing is, the first person to make an advance never knows if it is welcome until after they do it.

    I can't know if I'll get an affirmative response, but there are ways to ask someone out that never (or, almost never) cause offense. There are also ways that almost always cause offense and (and this is the annoying bit), ways that sometimes do and sometimes don't or for some women and not others or in some environments and not others or work for George Clooney and not for you. Bummer about that, but the solution is simple: Avoid this gray area.

    If, however, you interact with the person as a person, talk with them, show genuine interest that has nothing to do with possibly seeing them naked, IOW, put in some actual work, then I submit that it is very unlikely that making an advance will cause actual offense. It may not work, of course, but that's the price you pay for not being George Clooney.

    Part of the problem is that people look at this (easy) gray area and think that just because it works some of the time or for some woman or when some men do it, that it's a good approach. It isn't. Cut it out.

  175. Ken White says:

    All laws and policies regarding sex need to be rolled back to about what they were in 1970 — even if it means that some "quid pro quo" behavior will once again be out there. Then we need to legalize the sex trade, so that those women who (in my view) provoked the conflict in the first place by acting as a cartel will face needed competition.

    For those not entirely clear on the meaning of Pseu's rant, "quid pro quo" refers to demanding sexual favors as a condition of keeping or getting a job. In other words, as I understand it, Pseu is advocating rolling back sexual harassment laws even if it permits some employers to demand sex as a condition of employment.

    Comments:

    1. Behold your allies.

    2. I, for one, think it might be a good thing if emerging social norms make it harder for people like Pseu to reproduce.

  176. Caustic says:

    You could equally ask the question: why do even the slightest offenses against women raise so much anger? You yourself linked a video of a woman trying to specify that people shouldn't hit on her because it makes her "uncomfortable", then moments later complaining that women are viewed as overly sensitive. Women are weak. We know this because there's a movement dedicated to trying to push against all the advantages men have built up using their superior strength. And to the extent to which this is women showing some strength or men showing a bit of chivalry this is an admirable undertaking. But much of it is the meta-meta-meta-chatter of weaklings who want everything to change to suit their delicate sensitivities. The geek culture is certainly stunted, but these people are even MORE stunted, since they still expect others to accept them and be nice to them simply for existing. And in understanding that this is simply false, the stunted male geeks are WAY ahead of them in emotional development.

  177. Ken White says:

    At this point I'm guessing we got linked by someplace seriously disturbed.

  178. suntzuanime says:

    It's because the war of the sexes is still ongoing, while the battle over racism is largely ended. (There's still a battle over covert racism and what qualifies, but almost everyone recognizes that overt racism in the public sphere is a no-no.) The "creepers" and creeper-lovers are losing, but they haven't given up yet, so they're desperately pushing back and scorching the earth and waiting for the day an army of oppressed men rises up to defeat the Social Justice Feminist hordes.

  179. Docrailgun says:

    No, the issue is simply that fandom is one of the last bastions of the douchebag. I am a serious fan and so I feel comfortable in saying that this is the case.
    Older white mail geeks tend to be libertarians (as their formative years were spent reading Heinlein and Rand and _Ender's Game_ and so on), so they feel that if the world would only pay attention to them the world would be so much better.
    That said, their political fantasies are not the problem. The problem is the same as with any male-dominated group (bodybuilder, gun-enthusiasts, sports fans, etc.) women are marginalized and excluded from the club. Creepers and sucn aren't restricted to fandom, we hear about it more in fan and skeptic circles because women actually make up most of these groups these days and so they feel more comfortable speaking out. I suspect that the incidence of creeperism is less likely in fan groups these days than in, say… NASCAR fans just because the female fandom fans are a larger percentage of their group than racing fans, but we don't realize it because the douchebag geeks are very noisy and desperately clinging to the last bastion of what they see as 'theirs'. Luckily, those people are getting old and going away.

    In any case, the way to solve this problem: educate. Fans of all stripes – male, female, young, old, whatever – need to call out creepers and point out that they're doing something wrong. A lot of these guys probably don't even realize they're making someone uncomfortable. So, it needs to be explained to them. If they're doing it on purpose they need to have their deeds singled out. It's as simple as that.

  180. Dan Weber says:

    I agree with Tarrou that people will want to emulate what they see working.

    For me, I never felt comfortable doing that stuff. It struck me as wrong. Too many female friends complaining about behavior X made me think I should never do X — even when I saw it successful for some people. Even when those same female friends fell for X.

    The result for me was not "well, I didn't have sex that night." It was many years without a date (but I never got a sexual harassment suit against me, so there's that) because there were always guys willing to do X.

    Now, I've got over it. But I can understand why young nerds can feel so put upon; it seems to them that the only way to land a mate in the male-dominated realms they inhabit is to undertake behavior that, if it fails, labels them as creepy.

    I have many things to say to those nerds to help them out, but that doesn't seem the topic here. I'm explaining their feelings. I'm not even saying they're right with those feelings. But those are their feelings.

  181. granny weatherwax says:

    There's only one sane solution to this problem, and that is to install a trampoline on your front lawn.

  182. Scott Leighton says:

    Ken,

    I love the last paragraph and particularly the last sentence of your post! Awesome imagery that I'm sure basically expresses what the majority of folks feel on the subject.

  183. @Boy Named Pseu: "The movement against "sexual harassment" these days does indeed define pretty much every man as a rape supporter…."

    So I'm guessing the bellbottoms and polyester fumes damaged you pretty badly, so I'll try and keep this simple:

    So you're claiming that the environment of ""Sexual Harassment""* is squelching debate on…waitaminute, this thread ALONE has almost 200 comments and it was started this MORNING.

    What's more, almost NONE of this conversation has had anything to do with law, but with the idea that people deserve to be treated as individuals. So.

    Peddle your bullshit somewhere else, sunshine.

    *Please note my double quoting of your double quotes. The rest of your dominoes fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.

  184. Docrailgun says:

    "The movement against "sexual harassment" these days does indeed define pretty much every man as a rape supporter. It is, in fact, nothing less than all-out cultural warfare against men and masculinity. The "locker room mentality" has as much right to exist in the world as you do." – A Boy Name Psue

    And here's the problem (even though I'm assuming this poster is a troll, noone can be that loathsome, right?)… lots of people think that there's a 'culture war' going on. Ooh, the gays are trying to destroy our marriage. Ooh, secularists are trying to destroy the Christian values our Christian Founding Fathers created for us to protect CHristianity (I know, I know…). OOh, the evil Obamites are coming to take our guns! OOh, the government is coming to take away all our money just to give it away to illegal immigrants! OOh, women want to be treated like PEOPLE. Oh, woe is us.
    You know what – no. There is no culture war. Please go die in a fire. Thanks.

  185. Tarrou says:

    @Alan Morgan

    We probably agree on most things you said, but on the one aspect of "don't treat them like you want to see them naked", I call BS. It was the epiphany of my teenage years that what I was doing wrong was befriending women. To this day, I am polite, I am respectful and I am conscientious to a fault about women. But I never, ever leave a woman I am interested in wondering whether I want to see her naked. That way lies….never seeing her naked. Getting that across in a way that leaves them wanting to see me naked has been the ongoing work of better than a decade.

    @ Ken

    I wasn't aware that all we had to do to win an argument was dig up the wildest human strawman on the internet and quoth "Behold your allies", but I like it.

    "Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women" – Andrea Dworkin

    Behold your allies.

  186. James Pollock says:

    "Women are taught from a young age that if they are treated badly by men, it is their fault. They are taught to be meek."
    Not by me. I taught my daughter to stand up for herself. If you won't stand up for yourself, why should I take an interest?

    "women DON'T speak up, instead, panic and run and won't come forward. THAT perpetuates the problem"
    That was kind of my point.

    "I was raped. By a man with more physical power and more authority than I had. I said nothing. I made myself safe by keeping silent until he could not physically retaliate against me.
    To this day, my rapist is free. Thirty years later? I doubt I was his last victim."
    Then yes, you share some culpability to his other victims, because could have been stopped had you SPOKEN UP. You chose to trade THEIR safety for YOUR safety, and that's all you.

    The real problem in this communication, though, is there's a RATHER LARGE DIFFERENCE between approaching a woman at a con and raping her. (Just as there's a difference between what is expected from an adult woman and a young (nope, younger) child.

    Hey, look! There's some of exactly what Ken was talking about!

  187. Christina says:

    Some comments from a kibbitzer:

    Who starts playing a game without trying to understand the rules, or having seen one move and thinking that's how the entire game is played? That must be "extreme geeking" and as with all extreme sports, the potential negative consequences are much greater, especially for the novice.

    Ken and his "hot chick loves geeky guy" phenomenon notwithstanding, most of the male nerds and geeks in my path (I'm 43) have ended up married to female nerds and geeks. (And of course, Ken's hot chick went to Stanford, so her non-nerd status deserves greater scrutiny regardless of her beauty!) My own nerd-nerd partnership included. I can't say I'm all that proficient in the fine distinctions between nerds and geeks, especially of the modern youthful varieties, but most of us manage to navigate the sexual-social waters without handprints on faces OR asses.

    One last thing: I never knew a geek or a nerd who would place ALL their strategic hopes that the extremes of the dice would win the game for them; it contradicts the inherent mathematical/logical/scientific bias. So let's cut through the BS: Don't play big at the sexual game unless you're prepared to lose big; it's the most likely outcome. Everyone else should start with the basic dice.

  188. Tarrou says:

    @ Dan Weber

    Thanks mate, my experience dovetails to some degree, and I see it often in friends of mine. Most of us nerds overcome our social disadvantages over time, some more than others. I had an actual written program for years. But it's never natural, which is what made us nerds in the first place.

  189. James Pollock says:

    "Saying things like “If you aren't providing clear, unambiguous feedback, you're part of the problem” is a textbook example of the problem: women do not exist to train you to be a decent person — that's your responsibility."
    If womenfolk, collectively, don't want to take on the job of training menfolk how to approach them in the way(s) that please them, who will do the job? And do you have a right to complain about something not being done right if you aren't willing to do it?

  190. princessartemis says:

    "Then yes, you share some culpability to his other victims, because could have been stopped had you SPOKEN UP. You chose to trade THEIR safety for YOUR safety, and that's all you."

    I knew you would look at all the clear, unambiguous feedback and rebut everyone who gave it to you for being wrong, but damn, man, blaming a rape victim for her rapist's other victims? Wow.

  191. ULTRAGOTHA says:

    Then yes, you share some culpability to his other victims, because could have been stopped had you SPOKEN UP. You chose to trade THEIR safety for YOUR safety, and that's all you.

    Dear person-wo-was-raped-as-a-young-child. You, not your rapist, are responsible for all the other rapes your rapist committed. Have a nice life!

    –>Channeling James Pillock<—

    Wow, that was actually painful to type.

  192. James Pollock says:

    "The problematic behavior has already happened at this point. I am not responsible for anyone's behavior but my own. Saying women are responsible for men's behavior is scary. So, my skirt was too short, or I went to a party without a male friend, or a group of my women friends and I went to a bar? And so I'm responsible for the behavior of the men who try to harass me? Hell no."
    If a dog (the four-legged kind) jumps on you, and you do not want it to jump on you, you tell it "no" and swat it with a rolled-up newspaper. You do this because eventually the dog will learn that jumping up on people is not OK, and you do this not because you're mad at the dog for jumping on you, but because you want to teach the dog not to jump on people. All of the people the dog doesn't jump on are benefitted, even if you yourself are not. This has nothing to do with the length of your skirt, at a party without a male friend, or out at a bar with friends. It's true whether or not you are, in fact, female.

    This rationale is also true of the two-legged dogs.

  193. princessartemis says:

    Sorry for what may end up as a double post, but this comment thread has turned too freaky to continue reading.

  194. Tarrou says:

    @ Christina

    We are at the same point from different ends, I think. Obviously, asshole game is not the ideal vector of approach to most women, and even men who can pull it off don't use it on all of them. Geeks tend to be stunted socially. They're not socially useless, they're in arrested social development (and some are useless). It takes time, effort, and quite frankly in my experience, a girl willing to invest some time in a guy who is fairly incompetent socially to build the skills and confidence necessary to bring a shy nerd up to par. My first girlfriend taught me to shower every day. Seriously, I did not know that was a thing. Had she not taken a chance on a guy who couldn't even clean himself properly….who knows where I'd be today?

    Many thanks to all the girls, women, and (dare I say it? Dare, dare!:cigar:) ladies who have helped shape lads like me over the years, taught us the social graces and given us hope that we could be better in the long run.

    As to the issue: I just don't think the interests of women or men are served by rounding up the internet gang to bash "creepers". If women don't want to be pawed in public (and they should not be), then we should be telling men not to touch women in public. Not "don't be creepy". It's already illegal, it's a clear violation of the law and personal space, simple, easy. It's when one begins to link sexual assault to come-ons, remarks, and even glances that the whole enterprise falls apart. Define the behavior concisely, make it objective, and I think we will all be better off for it.

  195. @Christina: Aces!

    @James Pollock: "Then yes, you share some culpability to his other victims, because could have been stopped had you SPOKEN UP. You chose to trade THEIR safety for YOUR safety, and that's all you."

    Really? I…almost everything I want to say here starts concerning your likely genetics, background, personal habits, and likely personal fetishes, so I'm shifting through those first.
    Ok.

    Done.

    She shares NO culpability for someone else's actions. Maybe you should go look the word up. Not for something that happened to her, NOR to any theoretical future victims. More to the point, with the information you have been provided, you have insufficient information provided to make such a statement.

    You say "I taught my daughter to stand up for herself. If you won't stand up for yourself, why should I take an interest?" So, if something traumatic happens around your daughter and she "freezes" and something bad happens because she didn't stand up for herself…what?

    And _please_ don't try and tell me it's not possible – I've seen trained professionals freeze the first time they faces real "hey, someone is shooting at you" gunfire. You can train and train and you never know.

    So…screw em? It's their fault? Fuck that shit.

    If there is ONE measure of being a man that I have always respected, it's the one about "protecting those weaker than you" you speak for the ones that have no voice, and you fight for the ones that don't have the skills.*

    (*As I got older, I realized it's not a men's measure, it's about being a decent human being, but what the hell, I don't mind a stereotype that uplifts us. :))

  196. James Pollock says:

    "I think, "Leave me the fuck alone!" in raised tones should be reasonably clear"
    As do I. Likewise, I won't even try to defend the offenses listed in your first paragraph. But of
    "I'll have guys asking me out, offering to buy me a soda, trying to touch my hair."
    The third is battery, but the first two sound inoffensive. That is, barring evidence that you do not wish to be asked out or consume a free soda, offering these is not inherently wrong in the same what that handling any part of you without asking permission first would be.

  197. James Pollock says:

    "She shares NO culpability for someone else's actions."
    No, she shares culpability for HER OWN action (or, in this case, inaction).

    If you see a big spot of brake fluid on your neighbor's driveway, but don't say anything to her, and later on while she's driving the brakes fail and she mows down a dozen children in a crosswalk, she is primarily to blame, for failure to maintain the vehicle in safe, operable condition. But you ALSO have culpability, for it, even though the car is not yours, you were not driving, and you were not present at the scene of the accident.

    Now, the culpability of a rape victim, particularly a very young one, for not making outcry is very low relative to the rapist, but it is not zero. It sucks and it is not at all fair, but it is what it is, and shooting the messenger doesn't change anything.

  198. Esurnir says:

    Because people recognize themselves in the creeper and harassing behaviour that you write about? Wild ass guess

  199. Tarrou says:

    @ Ian

    "If there is ONE measure of being a man that I have always respected, it's the one about "protecting those weaker than you" you speak for the ones that have no voice, and you fight for the ones that don't have the skills.*"

    And so I speak for the socially maladjusted who may not be able to articulate their thoughts in a constructive manner. I fight for women to understand that behind socially awkward exteriors often lie worthwhile men too shy to be seen at first glance. Because I know how it is to be bad at girls, and I know for damned sure there are those out there who would rather stigmatize normal and healthy masculinity than deal specifically with the violent deviants.

    But that's not what you were talking about, was it?

    I think this issue is primarily shaped by what we see as the danger, by who we see as the victim. When I hear the word "creepy", I don't think horde of construction worker wolf-whistling at women (although that happens). I think of a horde of girls whispering about the lonely skinny stringy-haired kid in the ill-fitting jeans and Iron Maiden shirt. That colors how I view the issue, and I accept that. Ken thinks immediately of sexual assault, apparently, and some commenters jump directly to forcible rape. We are not talking about the same things, which illustrates my complaint that the word is too imprecise for this conversation.

  200. Deathpony says:

    My theories for what they are worth Ken.

    1) An overly emotive response is often a symptom of underlying cognitive dissonance.

    2) A lot of people want to simultaneously hold the belief in individual rights and a lack of accountability for the exercise of those rights.

    3) One group I have found are pretty well represented in 2) above are guys in essence uncomfortable with the changing roles of women v men who still want to be unreconstructed misogynists, just dont want to be made to feel bad about it.

    4) This blog probably attracts them, because they can hear the bits they like (free speach, individual rights, prog rock, D&D) and ignore the other stuff.

    5) When you explicitly draw the connection like here, you cause the cognitive dissonace to go into overdrive…hence the exaggerated anger response.

    In essence, it is your constituency Ken. I see in a lot of your threads, terms thrown around like "feminazi" , "Political correctness", etc, when there is a female protagonist involved in the story.

    Which sometimes is right and sometimes is code for "I want to be free to be a dick and not be made to feel bad about it." For better or worse, free speech and rights discourse is sometimes the shelter people use who actually are only interested in the principle because it gives them a shield to avoid feeling bad for being a dick,not because they actually believe in the principles themselves.

    I think the above also explains your confusion sometimes about the casual or selective enthusiasm for rights advoctes for liberty. Its about the particular context dependent outcome (in their particular worldview) not the principle.

  201. Oh, Hell No. says:

    Oh. @james pollock, no, I will not share blame with my rapist for what he did to others after he raped me.

    I will also not agree with your characterization of men as dogs for whom a swat on the nose or arse should suffice to teach them better. Men are not dogs. My rapist may have been a monster, but men are not dogs.

    My father, my brothers, my husband, and my sons are not dogs.

    They have been taught from the very youngest of ages that all life, all humans, all people are deserving of dignity and respect. They did not need to be slapped down to know this. They simply needed to be taught to treat others as they themselves should be treated.

    It is on society to hold men to being human. It is on ALL of us to hold men to higher standards than dogs.

    And, FWIW, I hold my dog to higher standards than you hold your fellow men.

  202. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    As a nerd/geek, this is my take.

    1) Everybody likes to reinforce the storyline they carry in their head about their own lives.

    For instance, I like to think of myself as clever, widely knowledgeable about certain genres of entertainment, and passionate about the things I enjoy. On the darker side, somewhere deep down, I still believe I am something of an outcast – crowds are against me.
    Of course I don't care about that – stupid masses! In fact I don't care to the point where my default position is to go against a crowd whether I disagree with them or not. Sure, I might call it "playing devil's advocate" but deep down I have grown to enjoy squaring off against the crowd.
    Now brew all of that together and add one thread where everybody agrees. The subject is almost irrelevant. At the very least, you will see one poster (who I probably share more similarities with than I'd like to think) agreeing with everybody while pointing out why they are all being mindless sheep who don't *really* understand what they are saying. Just as likely, unfortunately, you'll see one poster or more start a fight just to fight against that eternal enemy, the Crowd – aka the Beautiful People, the Popular Kids, the Cretins, etc. because that is what feels natural.

    2) A nerd's/geek's best weapons are all in their brain.

    That said where can a nerd geek go to get in a fight? To test their skills and compete against their fellow humans? Or just to blow off some steam for fun?

    A bar brawl? Not really strong enough for that. Or if I am strong enough, then it is beneath me.
    Seducing the opposite sex? Don't have the right charm muscles. Besides, that person is not just meat for me to consume! That would be like it was for those stupid people back in grade school/high school/ college.
    Debating the issues of the day at a coffee shop or other public debate?
    I get kind of shy, and this could lead back to the bar brawl.

    Internet forum? Now you're talkin'. Combat by words, trivia, and citations? Yes please.

    But what does this have to do with creepers and harassment, you say?
    (He asked in a passively condescending manner because it felt comfortable and familiar – like a very old security blanket)

    3) "We have met the enemy, and he is us." -Pogo
    (because I have not made even a semi-obscure cultural reference yet, and that is required to maintain my membership card))

    I think if you want to truly make somebody go nuclear, to make them pull out every last defense mechanism they have, to completely low their cool and their reason, you just have to do one thing.
    Make them feel, for just one short moment, that they are embodying that which they believe they fought against with everything they have for their entire lives.

    In this context make the nerd/geek feel that.
    1) The geek is part of the more privileged, societally bolstered, or (shudder) popular side in a fight.
    2) The geek has victimized another.
    3) The geek has made someone feel small for simply being who they are.

    You get the idea. Merely accusing a geek of being just like the popular kids does nothing. Making them feel like they might actually *be* the in-crowd, the jocks, the cool kids…? That can mess with my head. In an ugly way.

    Sure you can get the same fireworks show by accusing someone of being a bad parent. No matter what a parent's skills at parenting are, they have a lot invested feeling like a good parent. But how likely is that to happen in a discussion of sexism in RPGs, video, or wargames?
    Speaking of parenthood and horrifying revelations.

    "I *am* your father."
    "no… No.. That's not true… THAT"S IMPOSSIBLE!!!"

    Says it pretty well.

    Now that is way too much introspection for me. Need to unwind. Relax.
    Anybody want to debate who would win in a fight between Lensmen / Bene Gesserit / Jedi?

  203. James Pollock: "If you see a big spot of brake fluid"

    Ah, the "Quantum Butterfly" school of responsibility.

    Your example is fallacious. The result is an accident that could have been averted by various other factors. There is no blame to be assessed. Again, you show very shoddy reasoning.

    I could reconstruct your shoddy example to more accurately show what you are vainly trying to say. But I won't.

    You provide this piss-poor example in attempt to justify telling someone that something that they had no control over, is in some way their fault.

    I find that reprehensible.

    I'm pretty much at the point that your opinion has no further value to me. So…as you were.

  204. Tarrou says:

    Deathpony,

    Your assertions would make sense if male nerds were less progressive and more unreconstructed than "normal" males. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and your theories (if I may condense them uncharitably) are bullshit.

    I don't think CD means what you think it means.

    GEEKS are the ones uncomfortable with the changing roles of women? Surely you jest. Geeks have the most to gain and the least to lose from this shift.

    And I have never seen anyone conflate misogyny and prog rock before, that is a new one.

    Hey Ken, behold your allies.

  205. James Pollock says:

    "Also, I have never been quiet about people being assholes to me (unless I felt unsafe in doing so at that time), men or women. That hasn't stopped continuing asshole behavior aimed at me in the future by other assholes."
    That's because too many other people aren't ALSO acting to correct assholish behavior. It's a slow process, but if enough people participate, it eventually gains traction. Look, for example, at the effect social disapproval has had on smoking. It started with a few people willing to stand up and say "Why, yes, I DO mind if you light up. Thank you for asking." I'm sure those early pioneers were called bitches or that they were overreacting or any of a number of other insults…
    Compared to what the suffragettes had to, well, suffer, it's trivial; compared to the way things should be it's not; but change is usually difficult to achieve and the early pursuit is usually the hardest.

  206. InnocentBystander says:

    I'd also like to suggest that in many (but not all) cases the accused are indeed innocent of "harassment" in the sense of discriminating against women. As we pointed out previously, many of the people being discussed are social misfits. They are rude, crude, and insulting to men as well as women. Few men would complain of "harassment" by another man. It is a sign of weakness and culturally frowned upon. Being told by a guy to S–k my D–k, when he defeats me in a game would result in my calling him a jerk, or If I were aggressive it would result in a nice retainer for some attorney here, but it wouldn't be considered harassment. Telling a women the same thing is harassment because cultural norms dictate "safe" conduct between the sexes. For those who don't understand those norms, they think only in terms of "equality". In the mind of many of these harassers, they are innocent–They were no bigger asshats to the women than they were to the men.

  207. Deathpony says:

    @Tarrou

    Thanks for your reasoned response, I'll just crawl back in my cave like a good whipped cur and enjoy the show :)

  208. Tarrou: "But that's not what you were talking about, was it?"

    Oh, but it IS! As I've said _many_ times, in this very thread – I WAS that kid (It was "Judas Priest" tho. My best friend was the one in the "Maiden" shirt.).

    I've sat on panels, I've advised geeky friends, I do con security not so I could bust people, but so I could help the con be just that little bit more fun. To provide the border between Anarchy and Chaos (ok, it's a con, but still :))

    But there's the key, I want to help the folks who don't "get it". You don't do that by leaving them to carry on as they were. Leaving someone to keep doing something wrong is one of the worst things you can do.

    This thread has been FULL of people posting advice for the socially maladroit. That's help.

  209. James Pollock says:

    "Oh. @james pollock, no, I will not share blame with my rapist for what he did to others after he raped me."
    If only wanting something very strongly made it so. Either way, if you choose to keep it to yourself (until you want to score points in a largely meaningless debate, of course) it isn't my problem, by your choice.

    "My father, my brothers, my husband, and my sons are not dogs.
    They have been taught from the very youngest of ages that all life, all humans, all people are deserving of dignity and respect."
    Thank you for making my point. They were properly trained, and thus do not offend. It IS easier to teach these things to the young, but some people just weren't taught when it would be easy.

    "FWIW, I hold my dog to higher standards than you hold your fellow men."
    Do tell. Wait. Don't. It has as much relevance to unwanted come-ons at geek culture conventions as anything else you've offered.

  210. InnocentBystander: "Being told by a guy to S–k my D–k, when he defeats me in a game would result in my calling him a jerk, or If I were aggressive it would result in a nice retainer for some attorney here, but it wouldn't be considered harassment."

    Fun thought experiment: Find a friend who plays a sport at the college or higher level and have him shout "suck my dick" at the next team they defeat. Let's all watch.

    That IS harrassment. Or as I refer to people online who do that: "Well helLO Mr. Sportsmanship". It's online and harder to deal with.

  211. Kat says:

    @James Pollock:

    Let me ask you a question that might make you a little uncomfortable. Do you fear being raped? Do you take steps, daily, to make sure that you can get out of a situation if it looks like you might get raped if you don't run quickly and effectively? If not, why not?

    I was raped when I was ten. The man who raped me (age 40) threatened me and it was three years before I told anyone, even my mother, what had happened. I was afraid. Have you ever experienced this fear firsthand? If you haven't, do you really think it's reasonable to explain to someone what their personal boundaries should be?

    I was followed on a dark street one night near my college and had to seek refuge with campus police, and when I came home late that night some of my male friends poked fun at me for overreacting. After all, nothing actually happened. If he had raped me, then I might have had a case, right? Otherwise I'm just being jumpy to some poor guy who was walking home.

    I have had a male coworker grope me in an attempt to silence me at work because I spoke up when someone's inappropriate touching and behavior made me uncomfortable. (And yes, I formally reported him–and I only informally reported the first guy because he wouldn't knock it off even after being told that I didn't appreciate what he was doing.

    Guy #2 happened to overhear me talking to Guy #1 and decided to corner me in the breakroom, touch me inappropriately, and ask me if I was going to go after him too now? I did. Is that active enough for you?)

    If you don't see some way in which it's exasperatingly dense that you're suggesting that the problem is that women don't speak up enough then I don't know what to tell you.

    On the one side you're talking about men feeling bad about women having negative reactions to them. Or men feeling bad that they can't have sex with women.

    On the other side you have women who are or have been threatened, belittled, or assaulted, and then when they speak up it happens more. But they should go ahead and speak up because hey, how are the poor guys supposed to know?

    Here's why you're wrong: rapists don't come with a post-it note on their foreheads saying "avoid me." If I think there's a chance that a man will assault me, I'll act to avoid that first and consider hurt feelings second. Because the possibility that someone's feelings might get hurt does not trump my right to ensure my bodily autonomy. It is not my job to cater to possibly hurt feelings if I think my safety is on the line. Presuming that it is my job is basically classically sexist.

    When a woman calls someone a creeper, what she means is "you make me feel afraid for my safety." And, given that anywhere from 1 in 6 women to 2 in 5 (in Canada) have been raped before, some multiple times, this fear is not so out of bounds. What you are suggesting is that women should put aside that fear and speak up anyway, even when it would put us in danger, so that men can have a more convenient life and not have to do tough personal work because it's hard.

    When I hear the word "creepy", I don't think horde of construction worker wolf-whistling at women (although that happens). I think of a horde of girls whispering about the lonely skinny stringy-haired kid in the ill-fitting jeans and Iron Maiden shirt. That colors how I view the issue, and I accept that. Ken thinks immediately of sexual assault, apparently, and some commenters jump directly to forcible rape.

    ^ Perfect illustration of my point right here. One side worries about ostracism. The other side is afraid of being raped or assaulted or having their bodily integrity transgressed. The concerns of #2 trump the concerns of #1. Does it mean that #1's plight isn't sad? No it does not. But that does not mean we should go back to making sure women take care of other people's feelings first and their own safety second.

  212. @James Pollock

    It has more relevance than the utter dren you've been posting for the past while.

    In fact, by your reasoning, it IS your fault, not ALL of it…Never mind, while it might be fun, scoring points off you is like squashing a fly with a Buick.

  213. James Pollock says:

    "The result is an accident that could have been averted by various other factors. There is no blame to be assessed. Again, you show very shoddy reasoning."
    Could have been averted, but wasn't. If there is no blame to be assessed from negligence, the law of tort is greatly overdue for overhaul.

    "I could reconstruct your shoddy example to more accurately show what you are vainly trying to say."
    No, I doubt that very, VERY much.

    "You provide this piss-poor example in attempt to justify telling someone that something that they had no control over"
    She had no control over whether she made outcry or not? And you're pissing about MY opinion of women? For shame, sir. For shame.

    "I'm pretty much at the point that your opinion has no further value to me."
    I'm crushed. Some random Internet jackass with reading comprehension issues doesn't value my opinion? Woe is me.
    "But there's the key, I want to help the folks who don't "get it". You don't do that by leaving them to carry on as they were. Leaving someone to keep doing something wrong is one of the worst things you can do."
    Hey, you DO care! That was my original point! I knew you'd come around.

  214. @James Pollock: "I'm crushed. Some random Internet jackass with reading comprehension issues doesn't value my opinion? Woe is me."

    And?

    "Hey, you DO care! That was my original point! I knew you'd come around."

    And you say *I* have reading comprehension issues? So you just skipped the first 150 posts on this?

  215. @Kat "Perfect illustration of my point right here. One side worries about ostracism. The other side is afraid of being raped or assaulted or having their bodily integrity transgressed. The concerns of #2 trump the concerns of #1. Does it mean that #1's plight isn't sad? No it does not. But that does not mean we should go back to making sure women take care of other people's feelings first and their own safety second."

    Repeated for truth.

  216. James Pollock says:

    Me:
    "The solution is the same as it is in real life… immediate correction of the offending behavior, repeated as necessary."

    You:
    "You don't do that by leaving them to carry on as they were. Leaving someone to keep doing something wrong is one of the worst things you can do"

    Yeah. Those are TOTALLY different.

  217. Kat says:

    @James Pollock:

    They are totally different because the people who are speaking up are totally different. In one, the onus is on the victim of the behavior to stop said behavior all by herself. In the other, the onus is on the people in the culture at large to make it clear that this shit will not fly. Basically, one is about victim blaming and the other is about changing culture.

    As for why the onus should not be on the victim, see my latest comment.

  218. @James Pollock – You beat me to it! You're right we really weren't that far apart until, I agreed with your posts right up until:

    "If womenfolk, collectively, don't want to take on the job of training menfolk how to approach them in the way(s) that please them, who will do the job? And do you have a right to complain about something not being done right if you aren't willing to do it?"

    This seems to my Reading Comprehension Limited™ mind to be exactly the opposite stance you had been taking up to that point. You're basically saying that it's a individual mans responsibility for his actions…but it's women who are responsible for teaching him.

    Which, if you'll pardon my saying so, is BS.

    If my actions are my responsibility, then they're MINE, not "Well, they're MINE, except, you know I was savaged by a Turbot and that's why…."

    Secondly, your BAFFLING attempt to allocate blame to someone speaking of being a victim of rape.

    Again, seemingly completely at odds with your previous positions.

    If I am assaulted by someone who solicited me for kinky sex and I, being a respectable normal guy, am too embarrassed to report it, I am not responsible for that person's subsequent assaults. That's THEIR actions.

    To further crush the whole "well, if you had reported it" fallacy, I shall stand mutely pointing at the Catholic Church. I assume you need no explanation.

    And while I appreciate your posting my LAST comment as a point of agreement, allow me to direct you to the one from 10 hours ago:

    Ian – "While I can sympathize with your concerns about the lack of social tolerance for the socially inept I think you're misreading somewhat – the question here is – should the "Socially Awkward" be treated like a nature preserve? Where we watch them and allow them to go on their way? Or do we treat them responsible human beings?"

  219. Nate says:

    As someone who works with a lot of socially awkward people (go ahead and tell me scientists are not socially awkward) and is halfway socially awkward herself, saying harassing behavior is a function of being socially awkward is rather unfair. Yes, we sometimes don't pick up on social cues, but almost all people know that commenting on a sexual characteristic or groping a person is not acceptable. Furthermore, you are responsible for your own actions. Nobody "makes you do it" or "asks for it". Personal responsibility is what is lacking in the angry people not an overabundance of awkwardness.

    Last week, interestingly right after reading the PUA post, I was walking into work when a guy yelled at me "Nice Boobies!". I gave him the middle finger. As far as I know the middle finger says under no uncertain terms that I did not appreciate what you said. Yet he still yelled back "What?! That was a compliment!". I'm sorry; He knew exactly what he was doing. I imagine every single woman he said that to could flip him off and he still would say it. Why? Because it has nothing to do with us women and everything to do with him as a person. Sometimes an asshole is an asshole. (For the record, the guy yelling at me was headed to the methadone clinic. I'm guessing he has waaaay more experience with women than most of the people in my building or even my department, but probably less experience respecting them.)

  220. James Pollock says:

    "In one, the onus is on the victim of the behavior to stop said behavior all by herself. In the other, the onus is on the people in the culture at large to make it clear that this shit will not fly."
    How is "culture at large" to know which "shit will not fly" if the "victim" does not speak up? (Here "victim" appears in quotes because having someone attempt to start a conversation with you does not make you a victim).
    Are men supposed to somehow magically know what women are thinking? Because, if we were capable of that, we wouldn't HAVE this problem.

  221. @Kat: "In the other, the onus is on the people in the culture at large to make it clear that this shit will not fly. Basically, one is about victim blaming and the other is about changing culture."

    Oh CRAP, now I'm actually defending him. Kill me now.

    I agree with his original statement in that I would consider EVERYONE a part of correcting that behaviour to, as you so succinctly put it: "make it clear that this shit will not fly".

    If we're still talking blaming the victim, then obviously not.

  222. Kat says:

    @W. Ian Blanton, I think I see where you're headed with this.

    Yes, it's good for people who have had unacceptable behavior done toward them to speak up and say it's wrong. (Witness me: speaking up.) But I disagree that it's someone's moral duty to speak directly to the transgressor and try to get that person to change his mind. For one thing, expecting people to do this could put them in actual danger. For another, it's just shitty to expect people who have been hurt by bad actors to then turn around with a surge of kindliness towards the bad actors and educate them on how not to ruin their own lives.

    Don't get me wrong, if you feel that actual surge of kindliness then it's great if you act on it. Many people have taken advice given in this spirit, acted on it, and improved their lives. But I don't consider it a moral imperative and it's definitely not the most important factor under consideration here.

  223. @James Pollock: "Are men supposed to somehow magically know what women are thinking? Because, if we were capable of that, we wouldn't HAVE this problem."

    Actually – yes…we would. Because the REAL problem, said WAAAAAAY up there in the other comment and as recently as @Nate's post a few minutes ago. The REAL problem is not the socially inept nerds who offend by accident. We just want them off the field, dating happily with happy partners.

    The real problem is the people who, even with CLEAR indications that What They Are Doing Is Not Right, go ahead anyways. (Go on back up into the thread and read them)

    "What Part Of Fucking 'NO' didn't you understand" doesn't really require magic.

  224. @Kat: "But I disagree that it's someone's moral duty to speak directly to the transgressor and try to get that person to change his mind."

    Exactly. For all the reasons you state above. It just cannot happen sometimes.

  225. Christina says:

    @James Pollock: "Are men supposed to somehow magically know what women are thinking? Because, if we were capable of that, we wouldn't HAVE this problem."

    There's no mind-reading required. There's this little thing, which everyone here (professed geeks/nerds and otherwise) seems to be managing pretty well: advanced language skills. "Hello, may I compliment you on your convention attire?" "Hello, I heard your comment in the Q&A and wondered if I could talk with you a bit more about it?" "Hello, I've never done this before, I know you can tell I'm a painfully shy dork with no experience whatsoever, but there's a first time for everything, may I buy you a drink?" If you don't ask for permission first, you're likely to be asking for forgiveness later.

    Because the necessary corollary to "what part of NO don't you understand?" is always respectfully soliciting a YES answer to your question, and moving from there.

  226. James Pollock says:

    "This seems to my Reading Comprehension Limited™ mind to be exactly the opposite stance you had been taking up to that point."
    It's not.

    "You're basically saying that it's a individual mans responsibility for his actions…"
    Yeah.

    "but it's women who are responsible for teaching him."
    It's a women who are responsible for teaching him IF THEY WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT. This is true in every context, not just in the "geek culture male person approaching a female person" one. For example, if your local grocery store does not carry your favorite brand of ice cream, it is up to you to explain that the store is not getting what it wants (an ice-cream sale) because there is something wrong with its approach (they offer the wrong flavors). If the store wants to sell ice cream to you badly enough, they will change their ways and offer the flavor you prefer to buy… but this is very unlikely to happen if you don't tell the store what it is you want. If your approach to the "my grocery store's ice-cream section lacks what I want" problem is to NOT tell the store what they're doing wrong, and instead to get together with all your friends and complain how bad the grocery store's ice-cream selection is, well… you're contributing to your own lack of happiness regarding ice-cream sales, and, as a disinterested third party, I've no sympathy for you, even though the store is entirely responsible for what types of ice cream it sells. See? If women at geek culture events are dis-satisfied with the type of approaches men at the event are taking in attempting to start conversations with them, they should tell those men why they're getting shot down. Over time, those men will learn either to time or phrase their approaches better, or refine their targeting algorithms to increase the chances that they're attempting to chat up someone who might actually be receptive to their advances, or both… to the benefit of all involved… those women who do not want to be bothered by inept approaches, those women who do not want to be bothered by inept approaches but might welcome better-executed approaches, and the men making the approaches. It's win-win-win.

    "If my actions are my responsibility, then they're MINE".
    Yes. And if I want your actions to be different, it is up to ME to explain what different actions I want, and convince them that you want to take those different actions. And if I don't tell you that I want you to act differently, I have limited rights to complain about what those acts are. If no one told person A that we don't want A to light up a cigar in the game room, and nobody complains when A does so, how much should someone who wasn't there care whether you like cigar smoke or not? Yes, smoking a cigar indoors is wrong by contemporary standards, and ought not to be tolerated, but if no-one who's there objects, why should anyone object. (NO. This is not a defense to rape. Don't even try that move again. But it IS a defense to some of the invasion-of-personal-space areas of interactions in public spaces at a con. I might well say, "if that were me it sure would bother me" but I would conclude "if it doesn't seem to bother HER, it's none of my damn business". All bets are off if there is quick, obvious, and audible objection to having one's personal space invaded.)

    "Secondly, your BAFFLING attempt to allocate blame to someone speaking of being a victim of rape."
    Start with the STAGGERINGLY INCORRECT conflation of a discussion of inept pickup line delivery with rape of a child, and the accompanying suggestion that I supported the latter. An overly emotional attack generated an overly emotional counter-attack.
    Then, yes, failure to outcry DOES contribute, in however small a manner, to the victimizer's continuing ability to victimize (along with anyone else who knows of the victimizer's nature and fails to take appropriate steps… (For example, when Mom knows Boyfriend is abusing the kids, but keeps silent. In that case, not only is there moral responsibility, there is legal responsibility as well. Victimhood does NOT convey immunity to moral wrong… Russia was sorely hurt in WWII… which does not excuse the brutal repression in Eastern Europe after the war.)

    "Again, seemingly completely at odds with your previous positions."
    If pointing out that people are responsible for their own actions is counter to the position that people are responsible for their own actions, sure.

    "If I am assaulted by someone who solicited me for kinky sex and I, being a respectable normal guy, am too embarrassed to report it, I am not responsible for that person's subsequent assaults."
    Correct. You are responsible for YOUR choice, to place your own desire to protect your reputation as a non-kinky-sex-liking guy OVER the possible victimization of other people. That's on you… it's your choice, and it's not particularly morally murky, either.

    "To further crush the whole "well, if you had reported it" fallacy, I shall stand mutely pointing at the Catholic Church."
    Funny. I was ALSO going to point at the Catholic Church. If they had reported pedophile priest accusations as they flowed in to the police, hundreds if not thousands of people would not have been victimized. The local diocese was pushed into bankruptcy because of the volume of claims against it. Had the Church reported instead of keeping silent to protect its reputation, they would have taken a brief hit to the reputation, and then the majority of their good works would have overshadowed it. Instead, they concealed the reports, throwing ALL of their good works away in the process. You think that supports your side of this debate?

    This is already a wall-o-text, so I'll just address this part:
    "should the "Socially Awkward" be treated like a nature preserve? Where we watch them and allow them to go on their way? Or do we treat them responsible human beings?"
    If you want to treat them as responsible human beings, you have to instruct them what is expected of them. It WOULD be nice if everybody came pre-imprinted from womb with rules for social interaction built-in, they have to be taught how to pursue their interests without offending the rest of us. Now go back and substitute "we" for "they", for we ALL have to learn, and keep up with, the rules of what behavior is acceptable and what is not, and those rules aren't even the same from place to place, let alone year to year.

  227. Kat says:

    @James Pollock: You still don't get that the people I'm talking about aren't deterred by me speaking up.

    When someone creeps me out but doesn't really seem to understand what he is doing, what I say is, "I'm not trying to be mean to you, but [behavior] kind of pushes my buttons, can you lay off a bit? Thanks."

    With lots of reassurances thrown in that I'm not trying to judge, i.e.: "I know some women tend to like [behavior] but it's really not for me, and it bothers me when men do [behavior] at/to me. Thank you for understanding; most guys don't. I appreciate it." If the person in question has good intent, that's usually plenty to get them to stop and also to keep the situation from getting ugly; everyone wins.

    When I say 'creepy,' I mean a man who hears this and continues the behavior in question. Or I mean a man who comes up and puts his hands on me without asking, backs me up against a wall, or attempts to follow me late at night when we're both alone. Again, I might hurt his feelings by running the fuck away when it's late at night and I have no backup, but I'm afraid of being assaulted. In this situation, if I hurt his feelings by protecting myself then it's just too bad for him. I'm not changing my behavior to fix his problems. If he doesn't understand that this behavior is creepy, then he can continue until he gets maced for all I care. Not my problem.

  228. James Pollock says:

    "I disagree that it's someone's moral duty to speak directly to the transgressor and try to get that person to change his mind."
    That's a straw man, as I don't see anyone suggesting this.
    Sometimes, it's effective to say "I'm not OK with that", and sometimes it's necessary to have the bouncer say it for you. The idea is to get the idea ("that's not OK") to sink in by repetition. This is particularly true if the message you want to convey is "that's NEVER okay".

  229. James Pollock says:

    "The REAL problem is not the socially inept nerds who offend by accident. We just want them off the field, dating happily with happy partners."
    And the way to accomplish this is to tell them "no" AND explain what they're doing wrong.

    "The real problem is the people who, even with CLEAR indications that What They Are Doing Is Not Right, go ahead anyways.
    And the solution here is to tell them "no" and back it up with real consequences for proceeding incorrectly. These consequences may be immediate (suitable force delivered directly to the offender's sensitive regions, a slap, a full on punch), they may be slightly delayed (waiting for the bouncer to cross the room) or they may long-term (the offender goes ungratified sexually). Speaking loudly about the offense assists the second and third of these options.

  230. James Pollock says:

    "There's no mind-reading required. There's this little thing, which everyone here (professed geeks/nerds and otherwise) seems to be managing pretty well: advanced language skills."
    Alas, it's not that simple. When humans communicate, a significant portion of the communication is happening nonverbally. A substantial portion of the geek community is not able to successfully read those nonverbal cues. And their "advanced language skills" deserts them when confronted by an actual woman. If they HAD skills that allowed them to interact successfully with women, they wouldn't be causing problems.
    As for your list of suggestions, it includes "may I buy you a drink?"… which is on the list of things a previous commenter finds objectionable.

  231. mister bile says:

    I dunno… I'm waiting to read "Since Webster's online dictionary gives as their example of being creepy as 'a fascinating but creepy stage show by an offbeat magician,' and I am neither a magician or a Bluth, it is impossible that my misogynist statements are creepy."

    Hopefully, this will be followed by 2 citations in MLA format, plus an example of footnotes.

  232. Allen says:

    Ken, you speak the demon's name and are surprised it shows up? Forsooth, you foolish mortal.

  233. Francis says:

    Mr. Pollock: As, apparently, women have failed in their job to educate creepers, should the responsibility perhaps fall onto the shoulders of other men?

    Have you, for example, ever interceded in a situation in which you perceive a woman to be uncomfortable? Because from here, it honestly seems to me like a staggering amount of victim-blaming, without a whiff of responsibility being borne by male friends / acquaintances / by-standers.

  234. Kat says:

    @mister bile: good timing! As you'll see below. (Note that the below is not aimed at you.)

    Creepy: Causing fear or unease.

    @James Pollock: You are basically focusing on the man feeling sad that someone rejected him. But him feeling sad and not meaning to cause fear don't mean that the fear and its underlying root cause–the fact that many many women are assaulted every day–magically go away. You're saying that women should ignore that fear solely for the purpose of making men feel better and improving men's lives. I'm saying that expecting this is just plain fucked up, because large numbers of women are victimized on a daily basis and they have to pay attention to that fear to keep themselves safe.

    And since you don't seem to get it: by victimized, I mean raped, assaulted, battered, harassed, stalked, etc.

    Is it sad that some men feel lonely? Yeah. Undoubtedly. Do women have a moral imperative to make them feel better at the possible risk of their safety? No.

    If a woman should feel so inclined to talk to someone displaying inappropriate behavior, is that a good thing? Yes! If a woman reports harassment, talks about harassment, raises awareness, etc., is that a good thing? Yes!

    If that woman is afraid for her safety, is she likely to want to do this? No. Should it be her moral imperative to ignore her fear, given the very real repercussions that could result, in order to offer said education? NO.

    Bear in mind that this comes from a woman who DID speak to the man harassing her and was retaliated against for doing so by another, DIFFERENT man, all whilst the first man continued with the same behavior that caused the talking-to in the first place. How much more do I have to say this? Speaking up can put women at risk. Speaking up has put women at risk. Speaking up has put ME, PERSONALLY, in the firing line of someone who committed a crime against me. You don't get to say that I can't be concerned about speaking up when shit like this happens to me when I do. If I decide to speak up, it's a good thing, but you aren't entitled to expect that I do so every time. Not when it's my body and my rights at stake on the one hand, and somebody's hurt fee-fees at stake on the other.

  235. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    @James Pollock –

    Your behavior in this thread is not OK.

  236. James Pollock says:

    Kat, I somehow missed your post at 8:04, which deserves a response.

    "Let me ask you a question that might make you a little uncomfortable. Do you fear being raped?"
    No, I have other fears. Some are reasonable, and some are not; most are more reasonable some times and less reasonable at other times.

    "I was raped when I was ten."
    I'm truly sorry that this occurred. I hope you found support from people who care about you to help you recover.

    "Have you ever experienced this fear firsthand?"
    Again, I have different fears, that are mine.

    "If you haven't, do you really think it's reasonable to explain to someone what their personal boundaries should be?"
    Well, that's part of the reason I haven't "explained to someone what their personal boundaries should be". The closest I've come is advocating that you tell people what your personal boundaries are, if you don't want them encroached. Not the same thing.

    "I was followed on a dark street one night near my college and had to seek refuge with campus police, and when I came home late that night some of my male friends poked fun at me for overreacting."
    They were wrong to do so.

    "Otherwise I'm just being jumpy to some poor guy who was walking home."
    That IS a possibility. But the person with the primary responsibility for ensuring your personal safety is you. It's possible that your life's experiences have made you oversensitive to possible danger, and you see threats that aren't there. It's also possible that your life's experiences have made you more aware to possible dangers. I can't tell the difference and wouldn't presume to try.

    "I have had a male coworker grope me in an attempt to silence me at work because I spoke up when someone's inappropriate touching and behavior made me uncomfortable. (And yes, I formally reported him–and I only informally reported the first guy because he wouldn't knock it off even after being told that I didn't appreciate what he was doing."
    This is unfortunate (the fact that you work with jerks without boundaries, I mean.) Which of my statements makes you think I'd be anything other than condemning of that behavior? It's wrong. And speaking up to people who can do something about it is the first step in getting it controlled.

    "Guy #2 happened to overhear me talking to Guy #1 and decided to corner me in the breakroom, touch me inappropriately, and ask me if I was going to go after him too now? I did. Is that active enough for you?)"
    Sure is. (side note: If you weren't the first woman he groped, don't you wish someone else had spoken up before he got to you?)

    "If you don't see some way in which it's exasperatingly dense that you're suggesting that the problem is that women don't speak up enough then I don't know what to tell you."
    When I wrote about the need to speak up, it was on a different topic.

    "On the one side you're talking about men feeling bad about women having negative reactions to them. Or men feeling bad that they can't have sex with women."
    What, now?

    "On the other side you have women who are or have been threatened, belittled, or assaulted, and then when they speak up it happens more."
    That's wrong. But how effective at fighting this behavior is staying silent about it?

    "But they should go ahead and speak up because hey, how are the poor guys supposed to know?"
    Again, I wrote on a different topic.

    "Here's why you're wrong: rapists don't come with a post-it note on their foreheads saying "avoid me.""
    Well, in a perfect world, the orange jumpsuit would be an indicator.

    "It is not my job to cater to possibly hurt feelings if I think my safety is on the line."
    Yeah. Who's telling you it is?

    "Presuming that it is my job is basically classically sexist."
    No. Saying that IF you want men's behavior in approaching you to change, you have to tell them what behavior you want (or don't want) As I noted before, it is because you want the change that you have this responsibility, and not sexist at all, as it applies equally well in a great many situations, most of which are not oriented to gender at all.

    "When a woman calls someone a creeper, what she means is "you make me feel afraid for my safety.""
    Correction. When YOU say that, it's what YOU mean. My experience (admittedly limited, as noted above) suggests that the most frequent meaning is "I don't want that guy hitting on me", and behind that is a variety of reasons, usually mixed, including "I can do better", "that guy is undesirable", "that guy is wildly inappropriate for me (usually because of age) and should know better than hitting on me, and yes, "I don't feel safe". Some of these are reasonable, and some are subject to change with time.

    "What you are suggesting is that women should put aside that fear and speak up anyway, even when it would put us in danger, so that men can have a more convenient life and not have to do tough personal work because it's hard."
    WTF? This cannot be reasonably inferred from anything I've written.

  237. @James Pollock

    So, I was going to go to bed (Zuul will get you for starting this thread Ken, Mark My Words….) but I'm going to at least skim the high points off the Wall o text:

    @James Pollock:"It's a women who are responsible for teaching him IF THEY WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT."

    Bzzt! Lets say we accept this as women's responsibility. I don't, because I think the way we treat gender roles fucks up men just as badly as women, but that's an argument for another thread.

    So, we assume that women teach what behaviour they want. But then men , teach things that are 100% the opposite. What now, home dog? It turns into conflicting messages, that confuse every…oh hey, this sounds familiar. That's what we have now. So, the status is…quo?

    "I think the status is NOT quo."

    To briefly touch your ice cream scenario: "oh that fucking wuss, every week he's in here "chocolate, chocolate" he knows he likes vanilla. He should stop his bitching."

    What women want is not "better technique" – they want to stop being treated like a collection of sexual characteristics. Y'know, like _people_ (I apologize for speaking for all women. But I will also note that they all also love origami spiders, just thought everyone should know).

    So this is why it's not "women's responsibility" because we are not a culture of women. We all need to get on message.

    No objection on the cigar thing, we're good there. What I WILL point out is that there is a personal safety issue involved. I've seen women in the train POLITELY ask a guy to stop talking to her and he starts railing at her, knowing this is intimidating (and yes, I stepped in, but I shouldn't have to).
    Back in the 1800's, suggesting someone go smoke somewhere else could get your head blown clean off. So it shows we can change…again, we just need to get on message.

    I would hope that no one seriously thinks that victim hood confers immunity to moral wrongdoing, but I'm gonna squash this with the next example:

    The Catholic Church: So, it appears that I DO have to explain it. Victims DID report it, many of them. Over decades. And it did no good. You seem to think I was upholding them as a shining exams, when in fact I am spitting on it.

    So therefore when you say to @hell no:

    @James Pollock: "Then yes, you share some culpability to his other victims, because could have been stopped had you SPOKEN UP. You chose to trade THEIR safety for YOUR safety, and that's all you."

    You have NO way of knowing this. First off, @hell stated an uncertainty as to whether there are more victims. What's more, there is no way to assert that her risking her safety was for anything more than an unknowable chance of stopping the abusers behaviour.

    But for you to assign a positive blame (culpability) over what is effectively a giant sized edition of "What If"….sorry man, no sale there. You really did basically tell a rape victim it was her fault. It's both hugely arrogant and a pretty damn spot on illustration of the problem the women in the thread have stated over and over again. And for your your talk about "women saying what they want" – I've seen at least one female poster bail at about that point and several others take you to task over it, and yet…here we still are, with you trying to justify it. Man up, apologize and move on. Or not…it's YOUR decision.

    Do I believe that her example was out of scale with the discussion of awkward/rude guys? Yes. Do I think it had a larger relevance to the overarching discussion of men overstepping their bounds? Yes.

    Did I mix these issues initially myself? Yes, I did and my initial posts were more hostile towards you than they would have been had I separated them. So, my apologies there.

    @James Pollock: "If you want to treat them as responsible human beings, you have to instruct them what is expected of them."

    But they also have to listen. And understand that there are consequences for, not just failing to listen, but failing to act. As in act properly towards others.
    You don't just get to say "I'm socially awkward" and keep on merrily smashing shit.

    I'm happy to help those who want to learn, because as I have said repeatedly, I was that socially inept kid at one point, but I want the bastards who will not listen, or think that their biological urges trump the interests and safety of other people – them I want the fuck out of the pool, and they can take the rubber ducky with them.

  238. James Pollock says:

    " As, apparently, women have failed in their job to educate creepers, should the responsibility perhaps fall onto the shoulders of other men?"
    The problem being that other men may not (have not) educated the creepers the way women want them educated. See, that would be the PUA community's teachings, which apparently were not satisfactory to women generally. Of course, I can't, and wouldn't try to, speak for all women, but if they're satisfied with the work done by other men, then there's no problem to address, and if they're not, then it didn't work. Since complaints continue, I have to assume that the "other men" approach didn't work out very well.

    "Have you, for example, ever interceded in a situation in which you perceive a woman to be uncomfortable?"
    Yeah, I've been kicked out of places for doing the bouncer's job. As an intercedor, however, I do need a clear signal that the behavior in question is, in fact, unwelcome to its current recipient.

    "Because from here, it honestly seems to me like a staggering amount of victim-blaming, without a whiff of responsibility being borne by male friends / acquaintances / by-standers."
    Again, my point is that without clear communication, those male friends/ acquaintances/by-standers are left without guidance on whether to act, much less how. Or do you think that they should act unilaterally without checking to see what the women actually want?

  239. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    @James Pollock

    Hmm… didn't work the first time. Well you did say it might sink in by repetition.

    Your behavior tonight is not OK. Your behaviour on this thread is not OK.

    (I want to treat you as a responsible human being, I must instruct them you on what is expected of you)

    Your actions and reasoning tonight are not OK.
    (Imagine this one spoken out loud if verbal cues are better)

    *Not* OK
    (imagine that one as a nice painting if visual is your thing)

    No! Bad James! No!

    Is it effective yet?

  240. James Pollock says:

    "When I say 'creepy,' I mean a man who hears this and continues the behavior in question."
    That would be wrong. You need to provide real negative consequences for this behavior. (I would, but I'm not there, you see.)

    "I mean a man who comes up and puts his hands on me without asking, backs me up against a wall, or attempts to follow me late at night when we're both alone."
    OK, the first two of these are unequivocally wrong, and the third may or may not be (by which I mean it's possible there's an innocent explanation for this, for example, if you're both in a parking garage, it's possible he's following you and it's possible he's parked near you.)

    "If he doesn't understand that this behavior is creepy, then he can continue until he gets maced for all I care. Not my problem."
    But it IS. From your writings, you live your life in fear… reasonable or not… but YOU have an interest in guys who are not rapists learning how to not set off your creepy-ometer, thereby reducing your overall state of fear. It also would improve your personal safety, because you would have less "false positives".

  241. Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk says:

    Ken,

    A handful of points for consideration:

    1. I think you possibly are mistaken to the extent that you suggest that geek culture in particular or especially exhibits these "thoroughly creepy undercurrents." The misbehavior in question strikes me as relatively common in many areas of life. Though my practice does not include sexual harassment cases, the volume of case law in that area, even discounting for false or weak claims, suggests that such behavior abounds in everyday life. The fact patterns of some reported cases are shocking.

    2. Perhaps I read too much into your "thoroughly creepy undercurrents" comment. I raise the issue mostly because multiple commenters focus on social ineptitude as a rationale or excuse for this behavior. I don't think this behavior has anything to do with social awkwardness or the like. Plenty of geeks would acknowledge themselves to be awkward in general and concede that they are lost when it comes to women. Yet, I think most of us have managed not to grope others without their consent.

    3. So what does explain it? Men who say lurid things to perfect strangers, or paw or grope them, either are cretins or brutes. That is, only an uncouth ignoramus or someone who delights in the discomfort or pain of others engages in this sort of behavior. I tend to think the latter predominate, as I find it hard to believe that very many do not understand that it is impolite to whisper "coitus, coitus, coitus" into the ear of someone you do not know or that you cannot touch strangers without their consent. But I could be mistaken.

    4. I think this explains at least one subset of the angry commenters that these posts attract. Cretins and brutes are being labeled as such and don't appreciate it. Some of the angry comments that accumulate on these types of posts seem to verify this impression (e.g., the ones trying to discount or excuse obviously inexcusable behavior like uninvited non-consensual touching—acts that cannot possibly be excused by context based on the stories in the multiple links that you include in your post).

    5. That said, I think that, by including the SFWA kerfuffle and "chainmail-bikini-chicks" among a set of links replete with first-hand recounts of coarse sexual come-ons and unwanted groping, you make your post more controversial than it otherwise might be. Some undoubtedly will see a straight line between the former, which involve comparatively mild, if nonetheless backward, language (e.g., "lady writers") and images of scantily clad women, and a culture with groping issues. But that is a much more controversial sort of claim, akin to the notion that pornography encourages rape.

    6. This more controversial claim definitely has a certain political valence, and some do not share it. Some find that sort of Catherine MacKinnonesque brand of feminism rather objectionable. I think this accounts for another set of disgruntled commenters. As a rule, I think this group also does not cover itself with glory in comment threads any more than the cretins and brutes. But their often inarticulate anger aside, I think this second group has a point.

    7. To lay my cards on the table, I find the vast majority of the conduct described in the many links you include to be abhorrent. No civilized person would treat another human being in this fashion. Geek conventions should not resemble Tailhook. (Tailhook should not have resembled Tailhook.) And one does not need to subscribe to any brand of feminism hold this opinion. A thoroughly old-fashioned sense of propriety, decency, and decorum will suffice.

    8. But the more controversial claim implicit in your post leaves me cold. You don't want to be verbally or sexually harassed at conventions (or elsewhere for that matter), I'm on board. But I cannot muster much sympathy for the position that the collective works of Boris Vallejo—puerile as I find them now that I'm no longer 13—are an instrument of oppression with the effect, if not the purpose, of depriving female geeks of their rightful place at the gaming table. Should I really have to swear fealty to online feminism's tenets du jour to play Dungeons & Dragons?

  242. James Pollock says:

    "You are basically focusing on the man feeling sad that someone rejected him."
    No. I'm not focusing on men, or even rejection. Are you confusing me with someone else?

    "You're saying that women should ignore that fear solely for the purpose of making men feel better and improving men's lives."
    I said this before and I'll say it again. It is not possible to infer this from anything I've written.

    "Bear in mind that this comes from a woman who DID speak to the man harassing her and was retaliated against for doing so by another, DIFFERENT man, all whilst the first man continued with the same behavior that caused the talking-to in the first place. How much more do I have to say this? Speaking up can put women at risk."
    Yes. But speaking up remains the ONLY way to effect change. If you don't want things to change, then feel free to remain silent.

    "You don't get to say that I can't be concerned about speaking up when shit like this happens to me when I do."
    That's why I didn't say that.

    "If I decide to speak up, it's a good thing"
    If you want things to change, it's the necessary first step.

    "you aren't entitled to expect that I do so every time."
    That's why I didn't, and don't. Once again, IF YOU WANT THINGS TO CHANGE, you have to speak up about the things you want changed.

    "Not when it's my body and my rights at stake on the one hand, and somebody's hurt fee-fees at stake on the other."
    You're really worked up about hurt feelings. I don't know where that's coming from. I'm not really worried if the guy who groped you has his feelings hurt when you speak up about it. Where, exactly, do you expect to find someone who is?

  243. James Pollock says:

    "Your behavior in this thread is not OK."
    How so?

  244. Deathpony says:

    @ Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk

    "Should I really have to swear fealty to online feminism's tenets du jour to play Dungeons & Dragons?"

    Depends on your Dungeon Master :P

  245. Dale says:

    I stopped reading the comments fully about 3/4 of the way through, scanned them all, but stopped reading everyone at that point, my apologies. I've been a tech professional since the early 80's ( a bit longer as a hobby) so maybe I qualify as a nerd or geeky, I've certainly been to my share of conventions, don't seem to have many of the same stories to tell that other participants have though. I've always been socially awkward so dealing with anybody is,,, a task, dealing with women is……taxing!

    So, having set my qualifications, I'm going to chime in, briefly. First, let me establish that I was brought up by a very strong single mother, my awkwardness in social situations my have been impacted by a lack of a father figure, but I learned that a woman can do what a mom and dad can do, and them some! So one argument I read concerning single parent families doesn't always hold water. I will say that I whole heartedly agree with most of what princessartemis stated in her original post, but that is based on my personal years of experience in my particular industry and I certainly can't speak for everyone's experiences.

    I've never made an inappropriate gesture, comment or any action towards a women in any kind of public situation. I was brought up to respect women, have always respected women, had many women supervisors, I guess maybe I have just never had the opportunity to objectify women! I was accused of sexual harassment in a very public forum, and there was no truth to it what-so-ever, as witnesses verified.

    Until I could bring forth witnesses to prove otherwise, I was treated as guilty, just by word of the accuser. If need be I can go into details but like I said I was exonerated by witnesses (complete strangers) so I won't. However, this is why a discussion like this gets my dander up a little, until you've faced the process you really don't know how terrible it can be. I know sexual harassment happens and should be dealt with, and I know I am biased by my own experience, but I believe each incident MUST be looked at on a case by case basis and judged accordingly.

    Ken, I wait to read your posts, just love everyone of them! Even ones like this, it certainly creates discussion about a subject that I have strong feeling about. I understand why some feel objectors to your post are missing the point or maybe even perpetrators, cause if you haven't been on the "wrong" side of this issue, you simply don't understand how devastating it can be to a career. I was lucky, there were witnesses, if the claims had been true, someone besides myself would have received justice. Interestingly enough, without the witnesses, it appeared to me that I stood a better chance of being falsely accused than prevailing.

    Because I wouldn't want my mother or daughter or any other woman sexually harassed, I don't fly off the handle at these type of posts. But I can assure you that; yes sexual harassment takes place, claims of sexual harassment are not always substantiated. I don't get into arguments about this subjects and I want legitimate sexual harassment to stop, I'm just presenting a potential reason why you might get "nutty" responders to your posts on a subject such as this.

    I'm also in my mid 50's now, so I guess by definition I'm creepy. At least that's what I'm told frequently on the internet. But you know, I'm just being internet friendly, when I started getting on the internet, browsers didn't exit yet. So I'm awkward in social situations in person, but online I'm really just a social butterfly! That's creepy to many people because of my age, but no one can say it's because I've made inappropriate remarks to them. Still doesn't stop me from being labeled as creepy though.

    OK, so I said briefly up above, I lied, my apologies. Having read through this, I don't have an argument against what you posted. I just know that's it's just not completely a cut and dry issue and I hope people keep that in mind.

  246. James Pollock says:

    It's a women who are responsible for teaching him IF THEY WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

    "Bzzt! Lets say we accept this as women's responsibility."
    Let's not. As I pointed out previously, it has nothing to do with gender. Anyone who wants change of any kind has the responsibility to outline what change they want. So, let's say we accept this as a subset of women's responsibility, specifically, those women who want different behavior from men approaching them at geek-culture events.

    "I think the way we treat gender roles fucks up men just as badly as women, but that's an argument for another thread."
    OK, but irrelevant. If men want different behaviors from women, the first step is to communicate the desired changes to women. I suggest hiring Oprah as a spokeswoman… women seem to listen to her.

    "So, we assume that women teach what behaviour they want. But then men , teach things that are 100% the opposite."
    Well, I suppose you could listen to other men pontificating on what women actually want… it's how most of us got through junior high school… but I don't think they're going to be equally weighted.

    "What now, home dog? It turns into conflicting messages, that confuse every…oh hey, this sounds familiar. That's what we have now."
    No, the problem is conflicting messages from women. If they got together and agreed on what they want (a BIG "if"), that would be pretty clear. The problem is that they continue to act individually, with individual needs and wants. I'm not suggesting that this is going to change significantly (nor should it)(nor should anything like an attempt to impose it) But, if enough of them agreed on something, and stayed on message, I think the status would not quo.

    "What women want is not "better technique" – they want to stop being treated like a collection of sexual characteristics. Y'know, like _people_ "
    So treating women like "_people_" and not as a collection of sexual characteristics would be a better technique of approaching them initially?

    "So this is why it's not "women's responsibility" because we are not a culture of women. We all need to get on message."
    Again, it's not at all about being one gender or the other. It's about wanting things to change. As for being on message, first we have to know what the message is. Or are you suggesting that I can get "on message" regarding what women want without consulting them first? Isn't that the root of the current problem?

    "I WILL point out is that there is a personal safety issue involved. I've seen women in the train POLITELY ask a guy to stop talking to her and he starts railing at her, knowing this is intimidating (and yes, I stepped in, but I shouldn't have to)."
    This indicates that perhaps "POLITELY" wasn't the appropriate form for the message. Second, note that by making the complaint publicly, she attracts attention to the immediate problem and summons aid, if required. That's the system working. It's unfortunate that it is sometimes necessary to summon aid to enforce one's rights, but this is frequently true and, again, not gender-specific. Going all Bernadette Goetz is probably an overreaction, but it WOULD send a forceful message.

    (Catholic Church)
    "Victims DID report it, many of them. Over decades. And it did no good."
    Not publicly. A good many of the victims kept quiet, until there was money to be had, at which point they came forward (because the money made up for the embarrassment– you can argue that there shouldn't be shame in victimization, but there often is.).

    "You have NO way of knowing this. First off, @hell stated an uncertainty as to whether there are more victims."
    She would no better than I would whether there are, or how likely there are, other victims. I didn't bring up other victims, I quoted her statements regarding them. If there are no other victims, then she has culpability for the no other victims, and potential culpability for any that might be victimized in the future, until the rapist is dead or imprisoned for life.

    "What's more, there is no way to assert that her risking her safety was for anything more than an unknowable chance of stopping the abusers behaviour."
    Well there's also the chance that the state punishes the offender for his crimes, which drops to zero with no report.

    "You really did basically tell a rape victim it was her fault."
    No, I basically didn't. I basically told a rape victim that she was partially at fault for her rapists continued freedom. If you can't tell the difference between what I basically said was her fault and what I didn't, we're back to that "reading comprehension" thing.

    "they also have to listen. And understand that there are consequences for, not just failing to listen, but failing to act. As in act properly towards others. You don't just get to say "I'm socially awkward" and keep on merrily smashing shit."
    I'm not sure I agree completely with this. There are some people who are socially awkward because they haven't had an opportunity to learn proper social skills (or learned skills appropriate to a different milieu and haven't adjusted yet), there are people who are socially awkward because they decline to put in the effort to learn, and there are some people who have real inability to learn. Treating people in these different categories as the same will be counterproductive for at least two of the subgroups.

    "I want the bastards who will not listen, or think that their biological urges trump the interests and safety of other people – them I want the fuck out of the pool, and they can take the rubber ducky with them."
    No argument here.

  247. James Pollock says:

    "Hmm… didn't work the first time. Well you did say it might sink in by repetition."
    You have to wait until I read the message before it can work.

    "Your behavior tonight is not OK. Your behaviour on this thread is not OK."
    How so?
    Was it when I scrolled through, reading messages by many people? Was it when I engaged other people with ideas? Was it in having an opinion?
    Which of these things offends you?

  248. Andrew Roth says:

    My guess is that cultism explains a lot of this dynamic, just as I believe it explains the PUA scene in general. The leaders take that stance because it's their easiest way of going on power trips, and the followers do so because it's how they've been taught.

    Also, I don't know this for a fact, but I strongly suspect that there is a much higher than average prevalence of people with Asperger's Syndrome among the followers. I've been following an exceptionally clueless Aspie on Facebook who has appropriated all sorts of sexual rudeness from the internet and tried to use it to get women because he has no fucking idea how inappropriate it sounds and doesn't have a clue about the nuances needed to discern whether vulgarity is appropriate to the circumstances. This guy badly needs to be civilized by hookers, but instead he's on track to get further degraded by PUA's and their ilk. Unfortunately, a dippy woman in his Facebook circle recently told him that men who hire escorts are categorically "sad and lonely." This was horrible advice for someone in his position. I just hope (and I'm sincere about this fear) that he doesn't pull a George Sodini someday. He's in his late twenties and openly desperate about his never having had a girlfriend.

    As far as I can tell, the manosphere brings together a real fruit salad of the disordered, mostly embittered divorced men who conflate the behavior of their treacherous ex-wives with the behavior of all women everywhere and confirmed bachelors, most of them Aspies or close, who sit around their apartments interacting with misogynists online instead of having anything to do with real women in the real world.

    I'm not aware of any situation of this sort pertaining to race.

  249. BJI says:

    I have a theory I didn't see reading the comments, at least not explicitly stated as such.

    On one side, you have logical to a fault people poking holes in all the vagueness, generalizations, double standards, and other complaints on the system that both unfairly rewards and punishes, missing the forest for the trees. On the other side, you have emotional and pragmatic people who try to trivialize these arguments not based on their merit, but on the applicability (commonness, social norms, etc) missing the trees that make up the forest. These two groups talk past each other, and have trouble separating those who have extreme faith in their beliefs and those who have extreme beliefs. So not only do you have extremists puffing up on both sides, you have false positives on who is an extremist.

    I admit I fall squarely in the first camp. Heck, I have even been in a relationship where I was taken advantage of for being a smart, introverted male by an attractive female who had plenty of smarts but used sex as a tool anyway. I know first-hand there are victims of too lax AND too strict enforcement of "sexual harassment". Regardless, I still lack comprehension for how some men in a culture I dabble in are so out of touch that they ignore the same personal boundaries they expect from others. I guess I am more unique than I give myself credit for if I am a "geek" who doesn't tolerate assholes nor is one myself.

    A final musing – perhaps the trouble stems from a shared fear. ALL systems have limits, beyond which you get false results. Both sides can picture seeing themselves caught beyond the functional limit of the other side's ideal system. I personally think that trying to treat sexual harassment as an independant class of harassment is part of the problem (disclaimer, I see affirmative action as reverse racism) but I already admitted I prefer my objective principles (logic) over what is more practical but in flux (emotion).

    Sorry if that got a bit too stream of consciousness. I wonder if anyone will even respond, since I am curious if these thoughts are novel to the conversation or merely off-topic and I am off-base.

  250. Anony Mouse says:

    …but I like chainmail bikinis :(

  251. RogerX says:

    So I read the whole thread. TL;DR: Men and women still don't understand eachother very well. On a macro level, this is humorous. When trying to universally apply their misunderstandings to individual human beings, this is rage-inducing and leads to arguing on the internet.

    There was no popcorn consumed. This thread makes me wonder how any of the posters have any chance of being happy in their lives, let alone happily married and reproducing.

  252. Nicholas Weaver says:

    2. I, for one, think it might be a good thing if emerging social norms make it harder for people like Pseu to reproduce.

    Well put Ken.

    And to those jumping up and down on Ken's lawn, it shows how much that Ken values both free speech and wishes to understand your sociology (pathology?) that even in his own forum, where he's allowed to be master of his own domain, that he has not laced his lawn with punji stake pits.

  253. @James Pollock

    Since you asked, here's why what you're doing is not OK…

    You do not have skin in this game. At the very least, you are not a woman, and at most, I don't get the impression that you're the kind of person who goes to cons or has gone to cons in the past.

    That doesn't necessarily mean you can't understand the problem or how to solve it. It doesn't necessarily mean you're incapable of empathizing with women. It's entirely possible for someone to "get" what someone else is going through without going through it themselves.

    But the people here who have gone through it have told you, over and over and over, that you don't get it, that you're wrong. And yet you keep telling them that they're wrong, and that they'd be better off if only they'd listen to you and your great ideas.

    People are telling you that in the real world in which this is a problem, in the world in which they live, the ideas and solutions you're espousing don't work. And you refuse to listen.

    To trot out a shiny new word I'd never heard before this thread, you're mansplaining.

    That's not OK. You need to stop it.

    One of my favorite Yiddish sayings applies here… If three people tell you you're an ass, buy a saddle (or the Irish variant I've also heard quoted… if three people tell you you're drunk, call a cab).

  254. Tarrou says:

    @ Roger,

    The funny bit is, the disagreements aren't as wide as they seem, and I'd wager the vast majority of us do just fine at life. It's just contentious because it has to do with sexual relationships, and for all the other reasons listed above.

    From the GF, who has been halfassed-reading this thread over my shoulder, and who now demands I post her statement:

    "Geeks are creepy because they are ugly and awkward. How would those guys feel about being hit on by 350lb women constantly?"

    Harsh!

  255. DataShade says:

    I'm late late late to this party, but have you seen anything like the two studies in this post? http://feministdisney.tumblr.com/post/50286632075/sanityscraps-thegoddamazon-maymay-repeat

    120 men, out of 1882, when interviewed and asked about their sex lives, admitted to 483 cases of rape; the trick was, the interviewers used clinical descriptions of behaviors that met the legal definition of rape rather than coming out and saying the word "rape."

  256. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    @James P

    Darn… and I thought just repeating the "No, bad behavior James!" part might work like you said it would.

    Others here have spelled out what your unwanted actions were with far greater lucidity, compassion, and patience than I have the ability to manage. Yet, the negative behavior continues despite the negative attention it garners.

    Granted, I cannot bring to bear any of the real world consequences you speak of to further reinforce the message that your actions are unacceptable. That is hard to pull off in a forum.

    So I would just ask you to consider, one more time, for the sake of it, as you say, "sinking in by repetition" to consider why your actions here have garnered so much negative attention from a large and varied set of responders.

    Is it effective yet?
    I'll go ahead and bet not. Sometimes, just giving somebody attention (negative or not) is more than enough to guarantee their unwanted behavior continues. This is true in forums, bars, public, private…. or as you say "every situation".

    Darn, now I will have to live with being partially responsible for future victims of your posts and style of argument.

    I apologize to those future readers in advance.

  257. On the subject of the "If you don't speak out, you're responsible for what the creep does to other people after you" trope (Ugh! It hurts me to even write that)…

    I write a blog the entire point of which is that people should speak out when they are wrong. My very first blog posting, almost eight years ago, touched on exactly that subject: "Speaking out about injustice, no matter how small, is a moral obligation." I find stupid little battles that other people would just let slide, because I wish more people would do that, and because I believe with unwavering faith that if more people did, the world would be a better place.

    I think it would be great if more victims of sexual assault or creeping at cons felt comfortable speaking out to help change the culture and prevent their attackers from doing the same thing to other people in the future. I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for the people who are able to do this.

    On the other hand, I'm not blind and dumb, and so I see how so much in our culture is stacked against women who do. I see how they can end up getting victimized twice, first in the actual assault and then when they try to speak out about it. I see the sad truth that speaking out is actually rather more likely to cause trouble for the person doing it than to stop the perpetrator from offending in the future.

    I'm also capable of understanding what some here are apparently not, which is that when a woman is put into a situation where she legitimately fears for her safety, every thought and instinct she is having, and rightfully so, is, "How do I get safe?" not "How do I teach this creep that what he's doing isn't OK so that he'll be better at interacting with women in the future?"

    There is a time and place for teaching, and a lot of that teaching has been going on, more and more, and I hope to some positive effect. However, when a woman is in what she perceives as a potentially dangerous situation with a creep is not that time, and blaming women in such situations accountable for not using them as teaching moments is simply wrong.

  258. Woops, "I find stupid little battles" -> "I fight stupid little battles".

  259. "If women don't teach men how to behave, then who will?" (Wow, that one is painful to type too.)

    All of my kids have gone through the "Facing History And Ourselves" curriculum at their school, and one of the primary ideas taught in that curriculum is extremely relevant here… the idea of "upstanders."

    When a person is being victimized — bullied, creeped, con-stalked, assaulted, whatever — they are often in no position to defend themselves, for reasons which should be obvious to anyone with even the most basic understanding of the human condition. Saying that the problem would go away if only they would stand up for themselves is the worst kind of offensive blame-the-victim thinking.

    However, there are people who can make a difference in many cases… the people who witness the victimization and could step in and put a stop to it. In the words of Facing History, people need to be upstanders, not bystanders. Too, too often, women are victimized at cons in full sight of others who do nothing. That's not OK?

    As for "But how can they know whether the attention that a woman is receiving is wanted or unwanted?" I call hot, steaming bullshit. I'm hardly the most socially clueful guy in the world, but I don't find it hard at all to tell the difference between the glint of playful flirting in a woman's eyes and the glint of fear. I don't find it hard at all to tell the difference between a man standing at arm's length from a woman having a civil conversation, and a man getting in a woman's face and making her uncomfortable.

    Maybe some of the people placed in such a situation do find it difficult to tell for sure what's going on. But there are two obvious answers to that:

    1. In a crowd of people, surely not all of them are so socially inept that they are blind to a woman being creeped in their midst.

    2. Witnesses to an ambiguous situation can do what the perpetrator should have done: they can ask. "Excuse me, is everything OK here?"

    It would be lovely if people feeling victimized felt empowered to confront their victimizers and put a stop to it. Sometimes they do. But when they don't, it falls to the people around them to help them.

  260. James Pollock says:

    "Since you asked, here's why what you're doing is not OK…
    You do not have skin in this game. At the very least, you are not a woman, and at most, I don't get the impression that you're the kind of person who goes to cons or has gone to cons in the past."
    So, what I'm doing wrong is that you are incapable of inferring that I AM the sort of person who goes to cons or has gone to cons in the past from MY DESCRIBING MY EXPERIENCES AT CONS?
    What I'm doing wrong is YOU'RE VERY BAD AT INFERENCES?

    "And yet you keep telling them that they're wrong, and that they'd be better off if only they'd listen to you and your great ideas."
    No. Although I do seem to keep having to say "THAT'S NOT WHAT I SAID"

    "People are telling you that in the real world in which this is a problem, in the world in which they live, the ideas and solutions you're espousing don't work. And you refuse to listen."
    In which WHAT is a problem? Are we even talking about the same thing? I really, REALLY think not.

    To trot out a shiny new word I'd never heard before this thread, you're mansplaining.
    WTF?

  261. James Pollock says:

    "Others here have spelled out what your unwanted actions were with far greater lucidity, compassion, and patience than I have the ability to manage. Yet, the negative behavior continues despite the negative attention it garners."

    Try again. What is it you object to? Having an opinion? Stating it? or responding to people who're complaining about things I didn't say?

  262. "Since you asked, here's why what you're doing is not OK…
    You do not have skin in this game. At the very least, you are not a woman, and at most, I don't get the impression that you're the kind of person who goes to cons or has gone to cons in the past."
    So, what I'm doing wrong is that you are incapable of inferring that I AM the sort of person who goes to cons or has gone to cons in the past from MY DESCRIBING MY EXPERIENCES AT CONS?
    What I'm doing wrong is YOU'RE VERY BAD AT INFERENCES?

    Mea culpa. I didn't go back and read every single comment you posted, and I forgot that.

    That doesn't negate anything else I wrote.

    "And yet you keep telling them that they're wrong, and that they'd be better off if only they'd listen to you and your great ideas."
    No. Although I do seem to keep having to say "THAT'S NOT WHAT I SAID"

    Communication isn't about what you say, it's about what other people hear. And an awful lot of people seem to be hearing you say things you claim you're not saying. You should think about it, and perhaps learn something from it, but I doubt you will.

  263. James Pollock says:

    "when a woman is in what she perceives as a potentially dangerous situation with a creep is not that time, and blaming women in such situations accountable for not using them as teaching moments is simply wrong."
    I agree. Who's been doing THAT?

    "Saying that the problem would go away if only they would stand up for themselves is the worst kind of offensive blame-the-victim thinking."
    Yeah… nobody's saying that one, either.

    "Maybe some of the people placed in such a situation do find it difficult to tell for sure what's going on. But there are two obvious answers to that:
    1. In a crowd of people, surely not all of them are so socially inept that they are blind to a woman being creeped in their midst.
    2. Witnesses to an ambiguous situation can do what the perpetrator should have done: they can ask. "Excuse me, is everything OK here?"
    Now that one IS offensive. If I'm not sure if a woman's happy with her present social interactions, I should monitor her and if I'm curious, pop in and ask "Pardon me, miss, do you need a MAN'S help?" What a sexist.

    "It would be lovely if people feeling victimized felt empowered to confront their victimizers and put a stop to it."
    Wouldn't it, though?

    "Sometimes they do. But when they don't, it falls to the people around them to help them."
    Yes. It's none of my business until someone makes it my business, by asking for help.

  264. DRS says:

    @James Pollock

    Your condescending tone and your non-answer answers put you in the asshole category for me. You are obviously a troll and those who took the time to interact with you as if you were sincere simply wasted that time and effort.

    I think it would be best if you were ignored from now on.

  265. James Pollock says:

    "Mea culpa. I didn't go back and read every single comment you posted, and I forgot that.
    That doesn't negate anything else I wrote."
    It kind of does. If your inference was that far off 180 degrees, what ELSE didn't you get from what I wrote? You followed up with two more really, REALLY wrong examples.

    "Communication isn't about what you say, it's about what other people hear."
    In communication theory, this is corrected by feedback.

    "And an awful lot of people seem to be hearing you say things you claim you're not saying."
    Actually, it's the same people over and over.

    "You should think about it, and perhaps learn something from it, but I doubt you will."
    Some people hear what they want to hear. Knew that one already.

  266. James Pollock says:

    "Your condescending tone and your non-answer answers put you in the asshole category for me."
    And I care about your opinion because…

  267. Kat says:

    @James Pollock

    We here in this thread are talking about the situations Ken linked above in his original post. Since you clearly missed them the first time around, here they are again:

    http://carriecuinn.com/2013/06/30/please-stop-touching-my-breasts-and-other-things-i-say-at-cons/
    http://mariadahvanaheadley.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/but-he-didnt-know-he-was-hijacking-your-ship-on-conference-creeps/
    http://www.cheriepriest.com/2013/06/28/maybe-its-just-us/
    http://radishreviews.com/2013/07/01/harassment-and-the-back-channel/
    http://blogs.laweekly.com/arts/2013/01/anime_conventions_speak_out_ag.php
    http://glvalentine.livejournal.com/340623.html

    Read the accounts contained in the links above. They talk about sexual harassment at cons. They offer examples of unacceptable behaviors that have made the reporters feel afraid happening at cons. This whole conversation began based on those accounts.

    This is how you're trying to redefine the conversation:

    the most frequent meaning is "I don't want that guy hitting on me", and behind that is a variety of reasons, usually mixed, including "I can do better", "that guy is undesirable", "that guy is wildly inappropriate for me (usually because of age) and should know better than hitting on me

    We are talking about things like what are reported in the links above. NOT examples of men hitting on women and getting rejected, but examples of men pushing themselves up against women, taking their hands and putting them on women's bodies, sexually assaulting them.

    The subject of the conversation was established in the original post. If you didn't read the accounts to understand what exactly was being talked about, that's on you.

    Ken has even attempted to clue you and other people in to what we're talking about here several times in fact:

    @Tarrou:

    1: The charge: "Creepy" is a pretty subjective and broad category. Just look at the real estate of human behavior that something as specific as "rape" accounts for these days and multiply by several thousand times. It's that every guy is "creepy" at times to various women, whether he intends anything or not. Contact or speech is not even required. "Did you see that creeper staring at us?". So when the witch hunt starts to stamp out "creeping" guys know that we are all on the firing line, especially those of us who may have less-than-fully-developed methods of communicating to the other sex. Ring any bells?

    I see this argument a lot: that it's problematic to complain about creepy behavior because creepiness is subjective. I suppose I could put another label on it, like "handsy" or "aggressive or unwelcome" or "boundary-crossing."

    Let me again use some specific examples of accounts that I linked to from here:

    I was asked to hand a Big Name writer a drink at a con party, I assume because I was standing next to the person pouring them, and without the author even knowing who I was, he asked me if I the girl who’d be blowing him later, or was that a different girl? He wasn’t joking, he really didn’t know which young fan would be giving him oral sex on demand, but he knew there’d have to be one.

    I was picked up by a man I didn’t know and carried out the room, all while I progressed from “Hey, put me down” to “Let go of me!” to hitting him until he dropped me. His response: “Fuck, you’re no fun.”

    Guys have, more than once, walked up to me, put their hands on my breasts, and said the equivalent of “Nice tits, they’re real right?”

    Been kissed on the back of the neck by a guy I didn’t know and hadn’t seen walking up behind me.

    Had my clothes pulled down, up, or otherwise adjusted so they could see my tattoos.

    Do you have an objection to me calling any of those creepy?

    I can imagine the existence of men (and women) who for reasons of upbringing or non-neurotypical status having difficulty understanding that such conduct is creepy. But to be perfectly blunt, I don't see why everyone else should have to put up with feeling creeped out to accommodate such people. Why, exactly, should we refrain from calling out that behavior?

    Also: there are plenty of times where no "rebuttal" is invited or needed. If I come up to a woman and say "you really have a great ass," she is under no obligation to help me along in my journey of self-discovery in which I find out that some people don't like that, and she is under no obligation to ask for, and then sit through, my lengthy and indignant self-defense about how it is perfectly rational for me to assume an acceptable percentage of women will like it when I say that.

    I honestly don't get what you're arguing for or against here, except that you REALLY REALLY didn't get the premise of the conversation. Here's your chance to take a step back, understand where the conversation began, and look at your statements in light of what we've been actually talking about here, not what you imagine we've been talking about.

  268. DRS says:

    The expression is "I should care about…." You're not even a very literate troll, are you?

  269. Tarrou says:

    @ Jonathan Kamens

    "Witnesses to an ambiguous situation can do what the perpetrator should have done: they can ask. "Excuse me, is everything OK here?""

    And even this intrusion can be seen as "creepy". So you refute yourself quite quickly. There are interactions which most people will realize are uncomfortable, but if there are people out there who can't do this, they are squarely in the demographic of geeks. And there are far more nuanced and ambiguous situations than "getting up in girl's faces" which are described as "creepy". The "creepy"-shamers want us to think that all behavior they describe so is sexual assault or clearly over social lines. It isn't. The world is more complex than that. And while we should shame and discourage bad behavior on the part of both men and women, ambiguous phrases which (as I said before) cannot distinguish between a look across a room and an assault are fairly worthless. Equivocation allows some men to see it as an assault on normal behavior while women and their internet protectors view that as a defense of rape or worse. The arguments go past each other. The word is useless as a means of clarifying the issue.

  270. Daniel Taylor says:

    Now that the conversation has bubbled nicely, I see I have to amend my statement above.

    Men are either mysogynist assholes or whipped,
    Women are either thin-skinned whiners or apologists.

    That's depending on which side of the issue they are on.

    As far as being able to choose whether one is engaging in "creepy" behaviour, I have had a woman friend point out to me that I had been looking at her rather hungrily. It is fortunate that it was her and not some random woman inclined to take offense at such things, but I had been completely unaware that I was doing it until she pointed it out.

    Yes, I am sometimes a "creeper", I have shame.

    Yet nothing I do would cross into anyone else's personal space. I refrain from even off-color language with people that I don't know it is acceptable around.

    My body language is just completely open and I find most women attractive.

    Am I a bad person?

  271. @Tarrou

    The word "creep" is irrelevant. The behavior is relevant.

    Saying that nothing can be done because some circumstances are ambiguous is a red herring and a cop-out. There are plenty of incidents that are clear and unambiguous where no one steps in.

    I imagine there could potentially be circumstances where intruding into a situation where it seems like someone is being creeped "can be seen as 'creepy,'" but I think that's hardly the likely outcome, and therefore I think that argument is also a red herring and a cop-out. Any social interaction has the potential to go bad; you therefore weigh the potential outcome of intervening against the potential outcome of not invervening and make a judgment call. Perhaps you'll be wrong sometimes; that's no reason to try.

    Honestly, listening to this discussion is like being on the grade-school playground all over again. Sure, there are a few social misfits who don't have a clue, but most kids know full well when somebody was being bullied, and most of them do nothing about it and then make all sorts of excuses for why they shouldn't be expected to.

    Save the excuses. Grow up. Be an upstander. Make the world a better place.

  272. *sigh* That's no reason NOT to try, I meant.

  273. rustypaladin says:

    I found the premise of this article disconcerting. I was pretty active in tabletop gaming back in the 80's as well. I didn't see any of the problems described. My gaming club in high school had several female members. I do not recall them being treated any differently than the male members. Indeed, we liked having them there. And if someone were to have treated any of them poorly (I don't recall this ever happening) I do not think it would have gone over well. I recall one incident where a girl was wanting to go to our meetings but her parents wouldn't let her. I spoke with her mother and the only question she asked was "How many girls are in your club?" We were suprised by the question because we never thought of them as girls, simply as members. Maybe it's just area you were in. I was living in Columbus, OH at the time.

  274. James Pollock says:

    I'm going to spell out some things, to make it harder to misconstrue my words in future.

    There are people who take advantage of the fact that many women are non-confrontational by nature, by touching them in ways that are not welcome. As best as I can tell, it is not limited to any subset of society. This is both wrong and indefensible and the sooner this behavior is stamped out, the better for everyone.

    Some things that would accelerate this process include women being less reluctant to call these men on this behavior immediately and unequivocally, as well as both men and other women being willing and able to intercede on behalf of anyone who asks for help. It is ALSO true that to eradicate this type of behavior, the men who are doing it need to re-examine their motivations and behaviors, but that's something I have no influence over beyond making intercessions when called.

    In the meantime, my working assumption is that you (whoever "you" are) are both empowered and able to make your own decisions about whether any particular behavior bothers you, specifically, and I'm not going to try to substitute my judgment for yours. If you don't think someone is over the line in dealing with you, then it's none of my business. If you do think it's over the line, I assume you'll either deal with the problem yourself as you see fit, or ask for assistance if you need it. The nature of your interactions with with other people is none of my business until you make it my business by asking for assistance.

    You (again, whoever "you" might be) are the person primarily responsible for your own safety, and you should do whatever you think is necessary to protect your own safety. You should understand that what you think is necessary might or might not seem rational to various other people, some of whom will be insensitive about it. Ask for help if you need it; most people will give it even if some will not. If your perception of what is necessary to protect your safety seems to conflict with a large number of observers, consider reviewing your decision-making process with someone whose opinion and advice you trust.

    Finally, all of this is applicable even if different genders are freely substituted, in any combination, throughout.

  275. Tarrou says:

    @ Kamens

    You make my very point for me. It is the behavior which needs to be addressed, not the subjectivity of how that behavior is received. It is my contention that the hue and cry about "creeping" does little to address the behavior, because it is too ambiguous and makes some men defensive about normal behavior (myself included).

    If you want to address behavior, do so. Don't cloak it in euphemisms and equivocation which can be used to slander all male behavior. And don't climb on board with those who conflate sexual assault and rape with "creepiness". We already have words for those things, it's "sexual assault" and "rape".

    I alluded to this earlier. If you want to stop men touching women, tell men to stop touching women. Don't tell them to stop being a subjective category of behavior reliant on women's mental state and attractedness to them. I get that women have a greater threat sensitivity, but that is no more men's fault in general than it is women's.

    I didn't say nothing can be done. I said this whole conversation is not geared toward getting anything done. It is geared toward bolstering the self-righteous moral authority of one side of a bitter argument, while marginalizing those on the other side.

    A lot can be done, and a lot should be done. Both women and men need to think more deeply about how their actions are received. And both sides need to realize the fundamental reasonableness of their desires. Women don't want to be harassed, and men don't want to be falsely accused of harassment. Equivocating over what harassment is only extends and deepens that divide.

  276. Lizard says:

    One of my favorite Yiddish sayings applies here… If three people tell you you're an ass, buy a saddle (or the Irish variant I've also heard quoted… if three people tell you you're drunk, call a cab).

    I like it. I've said similar things, but the Yiddish version, as always, is a superior phrasing.

    In reality, however, it is human nature that the more people tell someone "Dude, not cool.", the more they tend to double-down on the derp.

    As Leslie Fish wrote in "Here We Go A-Ramboing":
    "Gentle sweet persuasion here will give you no relief
    For those who yield to reason aren't the ones who cause you grief."

  277. "Communication isn't about what you say, it's about what other people hear."
    In communication theory, this is corrected by feedback.

    Saying, "That's not what I said," is not useful feedback.

    Saying, "That's not what I said," and then ostensibly clarifying what you said, when your clarification seems to say the same thing you said before, does not change anything.

    Your most recent comment above is more carefully worded and more verbose, but it is not substantively different from what you've said before.

    You seem to be falling into the common fallacy of assuming that if people disagree with you, it must be because they're not listening or not understanding your point. We're listening. We get your point. And we (no, I'm not speaking for everyone here, but I think I am speaking for more than just myself) think you're wrong, and we think the approach you are espousing is not the best one, or even an effective one, for addressing the problem under discussion.

  278. James Pollock says:

    Mr. Kamens, do you suffer no cognitive dissonance at all in defending victims who choose not to do anything about their abuse, while decrying bystanders who choose not to do anything about abuse they witness?

  279. Anonymous Coward says:

    Like he said… really draws out the nutters

  280. Ken White says:

    @James:

    One of your consistent themes is the obligation of the creeped-upon to give feedback to the creepers, for the good of society in general and for their own good. You took this to a nauseating and repugnant extreme by suggesting a rape victim who doesn't report her rape (as many don't) is responsible for subsequent rapes.

    The common theme is this: entitlement.

    I might be entitled to expect feedback in a personal relationship. That's why my wife can fairly joke about me being a typical unhappy-to-discuss-feelings male and I can joke about her being a typical refuses-to-say-why-she's-angry female without either of us indulging in inappropriate entitlement. We've been married for 16 years. We have an established relationship with reasonable expectations of each other.

    But strangers are not entitled to our explanations. If somebody creeps me out, I bear no obligation to explain why.

    You've been arguing that we can't expect people to adjust their behavior if people don't give feedback. The premise as I understand it is that, if women identify conduct that creeps them out, the creepifying men will learn and adjust their behavior and the world would be a better place. But the entire premise of this post — the core of my argument — is that vocalizing such things leads (at least in this culture) not to improvement, but to tantrums and disturbed anger. When someone tries to educate the public — by saying a rather mild "guys, don't do that" about being solicited in an elevator by a complete stranger at 4 in the morning — the reaction is freakishly entitled rage, even from seemingly socially competent people. Other common reactions are "you say that, but I heard about another woman some time some place who went home with a guy who did that. You bitches just like assholes and not Nice Guys like me." When women identify conduct that makes them uncomfortable, they are dismissed as bitches and whiners and overreactors and people trying malevolently to alter the inherent qualities of men and so forth. For the most part, women are faced with hatred if they articulate what makes them uncomfortable. And now you pile on scorn if they don't.

  281. James Pollock says:

    "You seem to be falling into the common fallacy of assuming that if people disagree with you, it must be because they're not listening or not understanding your point."
    Perhaps. I might even believe this, if you had not CONSISTENTLY mis-identified my point, over and over.

    "We're listening. We get your point."
    I just don't think you do. I don't even think you (specifically) are even close.

    "And we (no, I'm not speaking for everyone here, but I think I am speaking for more than just myself) think you're wrong, and we think the approach you are espousing is not the best one, or even an effective one, for addressing the problem under discussion."
    Here's a communication technique you might try. First, what problem (or problems) are under discussion, and second, what do you think I suggested?
    I would bet good money that you get BOTH wrong (from my perspective). That is, that we're discussing DIFFERENT problems and that the solution I wrote about previously isn't even an attempt to engage the problem you want to talk about. I also strongly suspect that if this is confirmed, you'll continue to whine about how my solution doesn't fix your problem.

  282. Jeremy says:

    Creepy/creeper has no definition. You are simply creepy if a woman declares you so. I defy anyone here to construct an objective definition of the term 'creepy' that is accepted without addendums by even 50% of the population.

    Hell, even SNL is instructive in this matter:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBVuAGFcGKY

    Because creepy has no definition, and because normal male sexuality is often classified as "creepy" depending on the whim of the individual female, it is little more than a form of slander.

  283. Tarrou says:

    Oooh, we're up to entitlement now! Quick, someone say "rape culture" and "male privilege" so we can score the trifecta!

    @ Ken,

    On the other side, there is situations like a woman overhearing a "dongle" joke at a tech conference and proceeding to get a guy fired over it, because she overheard something she perceived as uncomfortable. And yes, men get upset about things like that. The thought that if we do not at all times hew to the political and humor tastes of every woman within earshot, we could be attacked nationally, fired or prosecuted is a pretty serious threat.

    I think we agree on most of the situations you put forward, but you aren't going to use situations of the more ambiguous sort which undermine your position. We can all agree that men pulling women's shirts up is bad, should be prosecuted and shamed. Where we do not agree is that men should be responsible for every perception, no matter how ludicrous, of otherwise normal behavior.

  284. @Tarrou

    Perhaps I have not been clear, so I will try one more time.

    I think "creeping" is a lot less vague than you seem to think it is.

    I think the risk of being falsely accused of harassment is far less prevalent than you and others seem to think it is (and there has been no evidence presented here to support your view). Generally speaking, the negative repercussions on a woman of accusing a man of harassment in an externally ambiguous situation is far higher for the woman than for the man. Perhaps the pendulum will some day swing in the other direction, but it's not there yet, and I think that pretending it is, is just another form of blaming the victim.

    Note the use of the phrase "externally ambiguous" above. I think many creeps know full well what they're doing, and always make sure to keep it looking ambiguous from the outside, for reasons which your line of reasoning exemplifies.

    I categorically reject the explicit and implicit claim made here by you and others that the only unambiguously unacceptable behavior is uninvited physical contact, and that any other behavior is too "subjective" to be actionable.

    Finally, no one here is "slandering all male behavior."

  285. RogerX says:

    Aside from the Scotsman anecdote – why is this a one-sided conversation? Is it being implied that "mean don't mind being sexually harassed, in fact they enjoy it?" Is it implied that manipulation of men by means of sex is not common? Isn't it a double-standard to consider female-on-male assault such a edge case that it is not worth discussing?

    I'm not trying to counter any of the debate put forth so far, nor argue on anything approximating the misogynists who claim that women are "equally disgusting," but when we're hitting the high points raised by generalizations, we do lose quite a bit of nuance around the very fluid nature of human sexuality in both primary genders, not even considering GQ and GF variants.

    In response to the James Pollock debate – Of course it's never the victim's fault in the event of an assault, never, not ever. As Penn Jillette said "people should be able to walk naked freely in public and feel safe in their person." I agree with that ideology. Clearly in practice, we're still a bit away from humans being able to handle that.

  286. Jeremy says:

    @Jonathan Kamens

    I think "creeping" is a lot less vague than you seem to think it is.

    Those are just words. If it is so clear cut what "creeping" is, then define it, in english. You can't just declare "well, this concept is clear" if no definition exists. If a definition does exist, there is no need to make such a statement, you could instead simply quote the definition.

  287. Tarrou says:

    @ Jonathan Kamens,

    I accept your offer. Define "creepy" in a way which does not refer to the reaction of the recipient. Provide us with an objective definition which we can all use to further this discussion. Be sure to differentiate clearly between acceptable behavior and unacceptable "creeping". There can be no confusing the two if we are to foist the wrath of the intertrons upon violators.

  288. James Pollock says:

    "One of your consistent themes is the obligation of the creeped-upon to give feedback to the creepers, for the good of society in general and for their own good."
    No.

    "You took this to a nauseating and repugnant extreme by suggesting a rape victim who doesn't report her rape (as many don't) is responsible for subsequent rapes."
    No.

    "But strangers are not entitled to our explanations."
    Agreed.

    "You've been arguing that we can't expect people to adjust their behavior if people don't give feedback."
    No. Only vaguely close. People's behavior won't change in the way we prefer unless they know what that is. Further, this seems common-sense.

    "When women identify conduct that makes them uncomfortable, they are dismissed as bitches and whiners and overreactors and people trying malevolently to alter the inherent qualities of men and so forth."
    My argument is that this is because it doesn't happen enough. The example I used is how 30 years ago, if you asked someone to please not create carcinogenic smoke in your vicinity, you'd be seen as a whiner or overreactor or a person trying to interfere with that person's right to smoke. Eventually, enough people expressed a desire that people not smoke around them, and it stuck. Yes, the first people who stood up for what was right were treated rather shabbily. This seems to be something that always happens when people first start to complain about a social evil. It is what it is.

    "For the most part, women are faced with hatred if they articulate what makes them uncomfortable."
    I don't think that this is true. Not that they don't get faced with hatred for standing up for themselves, but that such a response is "the most part". As has been pointed out by other commenters, a lot depends on the presentation. "don't touch me without my permission" is an entirely reasonable demand to make; most men are willing and able to comply, and many are even prepared to act to control this behavior in others. However, "don't be creepy" is not a reasonable demand, because while some behaviors are objectively creepy, there are a number of factors which are entirely subjective and a number which are entirely beyond the control of the men so labeled.

    "And now you pile on scorn if they don't."
    Again, the decision to speak up is a personal one, and not mine to make. BUT, if you want things to change, you have to stand up and identify what changes you want. This is not scorn, this is pointing out that wishing for change but taking no steps to achieve it will not work.

  289. Mr. Kamens, do you suffer no cognitive dissonance at all in defending victims who choose not to do anything about their abuse, while decrying bystanders who choose not to do anything about abuse they witness?

    No, I don't. And if you truly don't understand why, then there is no point in us conversing any further.

  290. Ken White says:

    @Tarrou:

    Oooh, we're up to entitlement now! Quick, someone say "rape culture" and "male privilege" so we can score the trifecta!

    I give you credit for not saying "emotional," like somebody did, or trotting out "mangina." But you're merely proving my point. My premise is that people react with irrational anger to discussions of actual sexual harassment — groping, stalking, not taking no for an answer, etc. You react with angry references to themes I haven't raised and arguments I haven't made, suggesting that because I talk about this, I must be a full supporter of how every person has ever used the terms "privilege" and "rape culture." Rather than address my point — that people who feel they are owed an explanation for why their conduct bothers people are "entitled" — you attack the term by associating it with other terms you don't like. This is exactly the sort of thing I am talking about .

    So, Tarrou — or, excuse me, to use your tone, oooooooh, Tarrou — what exactly is incorrect, or unfair, or unreasonable, about using the word "entitled" to describe the attitude that women have an obligation to explain to men why their conduct comes off as creepy, or such men have a right to expect such explanations?

    On the other side, there is situations like a woman overhearing a "dongle" joke at a tech conference and proceeding to get a guy fired over it, because she overheard something she perceived as uncomfortable.

    After which, as others have pointed out, she was fired, and widely reviled, and her conduct openly debated, including by many who were able to voice their opinion that her behavior was narcissistic and unreasonable.

    And yes, men get upset about things like that. The thought that if we do not at all times hew to the political and humor tastes of every woman within earshot, we could be attacked nationally, fired or prosecuted is a pretty serious threat.

    This is my point: some men take examples like that and use them to generalize that all complaints or concerns about conduct are false, unfair, unreasonable, or disproportionate. Such men, ironically, are just as sensitive to terminology as they fear women will be — observe your reaction to the word "entitlement" and your seething resentment of terms I haven't even used once. The argument seems to be "I am angry about women complaining about being groped or stalked or dirty-talked by strangers because talking about how that's not right may lead to a world when my innocent behavior could be misconstrued." Also, are women not facing being "attacked nationally" if they talk about harassment? See, again, the coverage of the "elevator incident," in which a shitstorm of socially stunted fury followed a mild "guys, don't do that."

    I think we agree on most of the situations you put forward, but you aren't going to use situations of the more ambiguous sort which undermine your position. We can all agree that men pulling women's shirts up is bad, should be prosecuted and shamed. Where we do not agree is that men should be responsible for every perception, no matter how ludicrous, of otherwise normal behavior.

    We don't agree on that point because it's a strawman. I haven't made the argument. My point has been that this subject — harassment in this culture — is met my incoherent and irrational fury. In service of that argument I've linked to examples of conduct like groping and lifting and stalking and not accepting "no." You've responded to that by getting angry because maybe there's some conduct sometime that's unclear that could offend some woman. In other words, you've made my point for me.

  291. lelnet says:

    "Let me ask you a question that might make you a little uncomfortable. Do you fear being raped? Do you take steps, daily, to make sure that you can get out of a situation if it looks like you might get raped if you don't run quickly and effectively?"

    I'm not James Pollock, but I'll answer anyway. Yes, I do. And yes, I do. In my case, it means:

    1. I never leave the house without my drivers license
    2. Whenever circumstances force me to be alone in a public place near women I don't know, I scrupulously avoid any possibility of eye contact with any of them, and depart immediately and quickly after concluding my business.
    3. I never, ever, ever, no matter what the inducement might be, visit my family in Ann Arbor

    Running wouldn't have helped, in my case, because the cops would have just chased me and probably shot me (although if I'd been shot, at least I'd have gone to a hospital, where I probably wouldn't have been raped, the way I was when they stripped my clothes off, re-chained my wrists and ankles, and then threw me into a cell with violent predators, and then stood by the door watching events take their course and laughing).

    The woman who accused me of "stalking" her and sicced the police on me? Don't know who she was. I certainly never spoke to her, or touched her, or approached her. I couldn't have picked her out of a line-up if my life depended on it. She was just one of the women who were having lunch in the same food court as I was, that day, and decided for some reason I've never understood that I was a threat to her, even though I was just eating my lunch. (Yeah, I probably looked at her. I didn't keep my eyes entirely on my burger the whole time. But I certainly wasn't staring or leering…if I had been staring at somebody, I'd at least be able to have guessed in retrospect which one of the women in the food court had complained.)

    But more than 20 years later, if I'm ever caught setting foot within a kilometer of any part of the University of Michigan campus, I could still be arrested for it. And then I'd almost certainly be gang-raped again. (Of course, now that I'm an adult and have a job and can afford a lawyer, I could probably get the lifetime ban from setting foot within most of the city overturned in court. But the arrest and the gang-rape would still happen first.)

    I have some sympathy for people whose horrific past experiences make them hypersensitive. After all, even in a completely different time zone than the original incident, and with all the protective instincts that adulthood has given me which I didn't have at 15, I still get panic attacks whenever I see police. And the level of precautionary measures I have to take when in the presence of women I don't know would probably strike some people as insane. But I'm not calling for all the jails to be closed, nor am I saying that that women should have to put up with whatever happens to them, just because if such extreme positions had been in place when I was a 15 year-old victim of some unknown woman's hysterical paranoia and the legal system's willingness to indulge that paranoia with violence, I wouldn't have been raped.

    But I do have a problem with people who refuse to draw a bright line between behavior that constitutes _assault_, and behavior that merely pushes another person's unknown and unknowable internal "creep" triggers.

  292. James – My apologies for posting publicly, but I don't see any way to send you an email.

    What I hear from you over and over again in the posts above is

    1. "I don't understand, explain it to me."

    2. "You misunderstand me, ."

    3. "I am owed an explanation."

    4. "You don't understand, my case is different. But your differences aren't significant."

    5. "You're not listening to me."

    Taking those points in order:

    1. You're failing to make any effective analysis of the things offered you. At this point most reasonable people have ceased trying.

    2. You might not believe it, but I think we do understand you. The problem is that what you think you are doing and what we think you are doing are different, and you don't want to hear that (see point 1).

    3. Not past a certain point you're not (see points 1 and 2). And you're certainly not going to get any from me; were you standing before me accused of harassment I'd long ago have stopped talking and told you in simple english not to approach the offended person period. Obviously this isn't the case here, but my point is the same – you're not listening, you're not understanding, and no further consideration is due you.

    4. Everyone's case is different in detail, few are significantly different. You seem to understand this with respect to other people but not with respect to yourself. You should work on that. See point 3.

    5. Not any more I'm not, nor are most of the folks who were participating here. That's a clue; use it.

  293. James Pollock says:

    "I accept your offer. Define "creepy" in a way which does not refer to the reaction of the recipient."

    I'll tackle this from the other direction, by identifying behaviors that are always objectively over-the-line.
    1. Touching someone without their consent.
    2. Attempting to overcome the function of clothing, whether there's touching or not. (i.e., no looking up skirts, down blouses, or use of TSA scanning equipment.)
    3. Failure to take "no" for an answer BUT "no" has to be clear and unambiguous; for example, "not now" or "I don't think so" are not "no". "Fuck off", "leave me alone", and "go away" are "no". Working with our theme of social awkwardness and difficulty in reading signals, implied "no" is not "no". For example "Have you met my husband" is not "no".
    4. Attempting to become alone with someone is wrong. Being alone by chance or the actions of other persons is not wrong.
    5. Taking pictures of someone without asking is wrong, unless you are in an area where picture-taking is reasonably expected (i.e., Masquerade).

    That's all I came up with in 10 minutes of trying. I think all 5 could get at least 50% agreement. There might be others. Suggestions?

  294. Ken White says:

    For example "Have you met my husband" is not "no".

    It's not creepy to continue hitting on someone after they have mentioned, or even introduced, a boyfriend or husband?

    I accept that there are people who have open relationships, and some places where one might anticipate that the people present have open relationships. But to me, saying that this is not a clear signal fits into the category of saying "hey, I heard of a guy who walked up to a girl and said 'nice ass, wanna fuck?', and she laughed, so that must be OK some of the time."

    I'm not saying that someone who continues to hit on someone after she mentions or introduces a husband or boyfriend needs to be arrested. I'm saying I have no qualms about calling them a creeper.

  295. James Pollock says:

    Mr. Simmons, at the risk of repeating #2, I grow tired of having to defend myself against people who complain about positions I have not taken, a group you have joined with #'s 3 and 4 at least, and probably #1 as well, depending on what you are actually referring to.

    I did not get angry until I was falsely accused of supporting rape.
    I was bullied as a child, I will not be bullied now.

  296. sorrykb says:

    @James Pollock:
    You were accused not of supporting rape, but of blaming the victim for the rape, because you said the following to a rape victim (who was a child at the time of the assault):

    Then yes, you share some culpability to his other victims, because could have been stopped had you SPOKEN UP. You chose to trade THEIR safety for YOUR safety, and that's all you.

    That's verbatim, and pretty damn unambiguous.

    And… since you keep asking people to clarify what constitutes creeping and harassing behavior, that's exactly what so many people been trying to do throughout this comment thread. Ken and others even posted a bunch of helpful links.

    (FSM help me, I can't believe I've rejoined this discussion.)

  297. BoxyBoxyBoxy says:

    Personally, I could see myself as the subject of such a discussion in the past. The most solid, objective definition of "creepy" that I have found is "unaware of or uncaring about what behaviors are likely to make others uncomfortable", the former of which I would have easily fit into in the past.

    I can't possibly identify with the sort of people whose messages show up on "Fat, Ugly, or Slutty", but when I read about people raising torches and pitchforks for that guy who asked a girl in an elevator if she wanted to talk over some coffee at his hotel room at a con, I wince, because I could have easily, ignorantly stumbled into a similar (or worse) situation with no intention to make anyone uncomfortable.

    Hearing through the grapevine that you've been identified by someone as creepy over a particular behavior, with the implication that they've alerted others, is pretty humiliating. I can't imagine the kind of shame that people who are identified as such online feel. Given my previous issues with depression (which tied into my creepiness), I probably would not be alive right now had I experienced something like that a few years ago.

    That's not to say that nobody needs to be shamed, or that women should just shut up about it. I think it needs to be talked about, regardless of the emotional consequences. That's just my perspective about why people might get uncomfortable/angry about such a discussion.

  298. TM says:

    Hmmm… some thoughts, stream of consciousness style. I did read (mostly) the whole thread, but replying to individuals would take too long.

    The initial question is why is there so much anger and hostility. I think we've, over the course of this thread, identified 3 main groups in the "male geek culture":

    1) Those who were (and may still be) socially awkward, but have learned the rules and perhaps managed to acquire a partner of their own.

    2) Those who are socially awkward and have either not learned the rules or have learned them but have not been successful at applying them.

    3) Those who are socially awkward, have learned the rules and don't care or refuse to apply them.

    Of these 3 groups, group 3 are the ones that cause a majority of the issues at hand, and certainly a vast majority of the more egregious issues (actual assault for example). Group 2 may cause these incidents from time to time, but largely do not intend to (and those that do intend to eventually fall into group 3). Group 1 may have caused such incidents in the past, but again likely unintentionally and don't do so now.

    So Cause of Anger #1 is that when we talk about a problem with "geek culture", we're really talking about a problem with "primarily the 3rd but also the 2nd group and largely the male subset of those groups" but we are accusing an entire culture.

    Venturing further, for many members of group 1 and 2, early social training hammered home a disdain for people who treat others badly. Either directly from parents, or via fantasy stories imparting a model of what a "hero" does (which includes not treating others badly). For some (many?) this manifests in genuine anger, rage and frustration at those who mistreat others*.

    Additionally there are a number of different "creepy" charges that are all lumped together in these discussions under the same banner of mistreatment. These range from the obviously inappropriate (physical violation, obscene comments / gestures, stalking) to the more innocuous (poorly timed or phrased directed comments, lingering stares) to the downright debatable (dongle jokes in a private conversation) to the almost unknowable (yes it would be extremely frustrating to be hit on by men all weekend long, but baring the stalkers, each individual man is only interacting with you once, it is unfair to take their advance and combine it into all the others when they would have no way of knowing that you've been hit on 50 times earlier). All of those incidents are grouped together in these discussions under the heading of creepy behavior and the people who engage in them as creepers who by definition are mistreating their fellow human beings.

    Cause of Anger #2: Geeks have a general aversion to people who mistreat others. The definition of the problem is defined to include sometimes accidental or innocuous behavior and then ascribed to intentional malice painted across the entire geek membership. Said geeks in moments of self examination find their own behaviors within that problem (though usually and generally the innocuous or unintentional) and feel anger both internally for having engaged in behavior that mistreated another and then directed externally at the accusation that this was some sort of malicious intent.

    So what are the causes of the problem? Well as noted already in this thread, we have lack of social skills in general (interacting with another person), lack of experience applying the social skill (offering a drink might be a successful tactic, but not as a pestering technique), general immaturity (let's face it, cons are largely dominated by the teen / young adult crowd), mixed or misunderstood signals and lastly I think there is a bit of "double standard" going on, but not in an external capacity, it's internal to the male geek and more accurately would be described as projection. Allow me to explain.

    Before it apparently started putting people in the hospital (seriously I found this while double checking my term, WTF geeks?), a common sight at (at least anime) cons was "glomping" which generally involved and unexpected, random and enthusiastic hug followed by a quick departure. As a general rule, the glomping was performed by younger female attendees and while they targeted no specific sex, it was in many cases at the least not a particularly unwelcome event for the lonely and socially awkward male attendees. The "double standard" comes in when these socially awkward male attendees then project their general appreciation for an unexpected physical contact with the opposite sex to other attendees, especially if they have previously witnessed that attendee being "glomped" and not reacting poorly to it. This boils down to more poor social skills, but this particular problem is I think unique to how socially awkward men and women perceive physical contact with the opposite sex so deserves special mention considering that it will often be presented as a "double standard".

    So what are the solutions? I don't know that there are many easy ones. Like most social changes, it's going to take time and patience. For one, we will have to accept that some people just don't want to change, and the only option is to ostracise those people. Which means that yes, the geek community will need to learn to be exclusionary, and we'll have to accept that we will be hurting some people for that, acknowledge the anger that will cause and stand fast regardless without being dismissive.

    The other thing we need to recognize (both from a solving the problem and highlighting the problem perspective) is that members of group 3, while they cause the majority of the incidents really are a minority. Yes, almost every female geek has a story of some creepy guy who couldn't take a hint at a con. And I would wager that if we got together and compared notes, we'd find that a vast majority of those stories are about the same few attendees. It's like the "That Guy" problem for D&D groups. Every group has had or played with "That Guy", and usually they kick "That Guy" out, so what happens is in a local area, every groups has a "That Guy" story, but it's often the same guy because they guy gets kicked from unaware group to unaware group until no one will let them in anymore. So is it with the Group 3 creeps. They get rebuffed and eventually dispensed with and they move on to a new person. I would argue that in a con of a few thousand people it would only take maybe 10 Group 3 creeps to give more than 50% of the attendees a creeper story either directly or indirectly.

    Next, Mr. Pollock is correct, the female attendees will need to speak up and speak clearly. Doing it after the fact will not likely help because most of the people you speak to after the fact will not be the people likely to accost you at the con (at least I presume you don't intentionally hang out with creeps). That means when someone creeps you out at the con, you need to rebuff them clearly, strongly and definitively. Note this does not mean calling con security because the guy is number 452 to proposition you today, nor does it include publicly shaming the person because they made a dongle joke in a private conversation, but it does mean being clear. Start with a definitive "No", followed by a quick reason for the rebuff "That's inappropriate / You're not my type" for the more innocuous offences or summoning con staff / security for the more egregious or persistent offenders. But in all cases the response should be measured to the offence. A gentle rebuff of the dongle jokers will likely do you much better than summoning the con staff. Most people don't intend to offend and will apologise and even change their behavior if pointed out, but will likely think you're off your rocker and dismiss you out of hand if you go making a public fuss over a private joke. Remember, only a small majority of people are actually malicious.

    Next, geek guys are on the hook here. If you see a con attendee clearly uncomfortable, step in a make sure everything is ok. But more importantly, guys with better social skills and more mature guys need to take the younger or less experienced guys under your wing a bit. Many hobbies and sub cultures have a hierarchy of older members teaching younger members both the hobby and how to behave. The geek culture does not appear to have this as much (perhaps because adults interested in geek pursuits was up until relatively recently a social faux pas). But just as women need to convey clear signals, we men need to police our own and make sure they understand what is right and wrong.

    Ok, I think that's a big enough wall of text for one comment. Sorry Ken.

    [*Side note: Incidentally it also explains the frequency and popularity of damsel in distress tropes. I never could reconcile the claim that the popularity of such tropes was a "patriarchy" thing or some sort of unconscious suppression of women. Rather for the segment of society which reads or watches such stories for pleasure (rather than for social conformity), such scenarios stir inner anger and adrenaline. They grip and pull at the reader and invoke emotional responses appropriate to the story. It's the literary equivalent of the "scary jump cut" that most horror movies use. It's also a cause of some trouble in previously disturbed individual as the adrenaline high that can be experienced by feeling the appropriate emotions over the scenarios can in time be associated with feeling the adrenaline high over the scenario rather than the emotions the scenario is supposed to invoke. End side note]

  299. James Pollock says:

    "It's not creepy to continue hitting on someone after they have mentioned, or even introduced, a boyfriend or husband?"

    My local SF con has had multiple polyamory panels every year for at least a decade, so no, being introduced to someone's husband at that event is not in and of itself an unambiguous "no". Persisting after a clear and unambiguous "no" is always wrong.

    "I'm not saying that someone who continues to hit on someone after she mentions or introduces a husband or boyfriend needs to be arrested. I'm saying I have no qualms about calling them a creeper."
    Fine, but that's not what I was making a list of. Since we seem to have a problem of definition with somethings that are always OK, and some things that are never OK, and a fuzzy gray area in between of things that might be OK in some situations and aren't OK in others, I started on the list of things that are ALWAYS WRONG, which is not at all the same as saying things not on the list are ALWAYS RIGHT.

    Now, I'll say that continuing to pursue someone after being introduced to the husband is probably a fruitless endeavor and frequently quite stupid as well for a number of reasons, but the risk of victimization seems low (for the wife, I mean… the pursuer may well be in real danger if he persists. I can only assume you're OK with this kind of victimization. And also with blaming the victim for his actions.)

    "saying … 'nice ass, wanna fuck?', … must be OK some of the time."
    Not relevant, but yes, this IS OK some of the time. Quite rarely, but yes, some couples HAVE reached a point of comfort with each other that the he part of the couple can say this to the she part of the couple. Now, I'd say that the decision of whether it's OK in any specific instance rests in the person whose ass is being discussed. Are you suggesting we should take that decision away from her?

  300. Christina says:

    @James Pollock:

    "It is ALSO true that to eradicate this type of behavior, the men who are doing it need to re-examine their motivations and behaviors, but that's something I have no influence over beyond making intercessions when called."

    You absolutely have influence, and that you refuse to use it (or even to see it) makes you part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Everyone could do with a little more courage being encouraged. Are there vague, grey edges to this problem? Of course there are, and problems of subjectivity occur there. I'm sure there's some named law that defines the approach of "I'm not sure how to operate in the grey area, therefore I won't touch the black-and-white". Probably named after Kitty Genovese.

    You dismissed my suggestion that WORDS be used to minimize confusion, which is pretty rich for a person who's probably posted several thousand words in this thread (and on an op/ed whose author's motto is likely "more speech, and make it a double!"). No one is looking for the perfect, no-more-problems solution, because it doesn't exist. IMPROVEMENT is the name of the game.

    You could go up to a person you witness doing something inappropriate, and say, "I do not think that means what you think it means." Direct, to the point, and even a bit geeky!

    Or you could wear a ribbon: http://backupribbonproject.wordpress.com/

    Or you could indulge in some lesson-teaching creepyness of your own – I live in the SF area, and you'd be surprised how many males learn the "stop creeping women out" lesson just from one experience with a gay man who crosses THEIR boundaries. Pretend to be gay (or really be gay and intentionally hit on a straight guy) and let the creeper experience it from the other side. Because then, even the "subjective grey experience" of having someone "simply sit down next to you at a bar and ask "can I buy you a drink"" can seem a little more black-and-white. (The appropriate first line to submit to anyone you're looking to buy a drink for is not "can I buy you a drink" – it's "Hi, I'm ." What makes the line "can I buy you a drink" creepy is the fact that you don't know the person. And even a person who doesn't find that line particularly creepy isn't going to be offended if you actually introduce yourself first. ("Oh, darn, I really wanted you to offer to buy me a drink without sharing your name!"??))

  301. Nicholas weaver says:

    James:

    I was bullied as a child, I will not be bullied now.

    We aren't trying to bully you, we are just trying to pound some sense into you since more subtle means aren't working.

    For example, you said:

    For example "Have you met my husband" is not "no".

    Hell YES IT IS! A person indicating that they are in a committed relationship is the single most common way to politely say "fuck off, I'm not interested".

    Why do you think so many unmarried women often will have a 'wedding' ring or 'engagement' ring that they can wear in social settings with strangers just to get those who actually have a clue to not bother them?

  302. Ken White says:

    I can't possibly identify with the sort of people whose messages show up on "Fat, Ugly, or Slutty", but when I read about people raising torches and pitchforks for that guy who asked a girl in an elevator if she wanted to talk over some coffee at his hotel room at a con, I wince, because I could have easily, ignorantly stumbled into a similar (or worse) situation with no intention to make anyone uncomfortable.

    Hearing through the grapevine that you've been identified by someone as creepy over a particular behavior, with the implication that they've alerted others, is pretty humiliating. I can't imagine the kind of shame that people who are identified as such online feel. Given my previous issues with depression (which tied into my creepiness), I probably would not be alive right now had I experienced something like that a few years ago.

    Again with the elevator.

    The person in question made a video in which she mentioned, in passing, a person approaching her in an elevator at 4 in the morning, alone, after she said she was going back to her room. She said "guys, don't do that." She was, in fact, doing the sort of thing James apparently thinks women should do: explain creeper behavior. She did not name the person.

    This has been widely characterized – like you just did — as bringing out "torches and pitchforks." You add on the guilt trip that identifying such conduct and asking people not to do it might drive a depressed person to suicide.

    This is exactly what I am talking about.

  303. @Steve Simmons

    Agreed on all points.

  304. James Pollock says:

    "You were accused not of supporting rape, but of blaming the victim for the rape, because you said the following to a rape victim (who was a child at the time of the assault)"

    Go further upthread, you're quoting from the angry response to being accused of supporting rape.
    Then, there's you making wrong (and wrongheaded) complaints about what I said, which, let me be clear, does not, did not, and never will include blaming a rape victim for her rape.

    "since you keep asking people to clarify what constitutes creeping and harassing behavior"
    Since I haven't done this, direct your righteous indignation elsewhere.

  305. Ken White says:

    Now, I'd say that the decision of whether it's OK in any specific instance rests in the person whose ass is being discussed. Are you suggesting we should take that decision away from her?

    No. I'm saying that I am completely comfortable saying that someone who goes up to a stranger and says "nice ass" is a creeper. My comfort in making that value judgment is not diminished, in the least, by the idea that maybe there is some specific woman out there who will not be offended by some specific man saying it to her in some specific situation. I am not removing agency from that hypothetical woman. I am suggesting that the [dubious, or at least vastly overstated] hypothetical existence of the woman is not some sort of magic defense to the natural and probable social consequences of actions. I am suggesting that "it's unfair to be branded a creeper when I engage in conduct that 98% of people find creepy, because there's a 2% out there" is an unconvincing intellectual construct used stubbornly to persist in behavior that the person knows most people will find uncomfortable, because that person is more interested in the imagined 2% chance of getting laid than in the impact of his actions on the other 98%.

  306. BoxyBoxyBoxy says:

    @Ken

    I am absolutely for her talking about and criticizing that behavior if it made her uncomfortable.

    Perhaps I am remembering the incident incorrectly, but didn't someone else dox this person? Didn't a bunch of other people jump on and harass this person, calling him a rapist? That was what I was referring to, not the initial discussion.

  307. Jeremy says:

    @James Pollock

    I'll tackle this from the other direction, by identifying behaviors that are always objectively over-the-line.

    1. Touching someone without their consent.

    So, pulling someone out of harms way is over-the-line? A kid is about to walk into traffic and I yank her out of the way of an oncoming car. According to your definition, that is creepy behavior, because it is "always objectively over-the-line."

    2. Attempting to overcome the function of clothing, whether there's touching or not. (i.e., no looking up skirts, down blouses, or use of TSA scanning equipment.)

    Clothing's primary function is as a way to keep warm, or block the sun. I would argue that this definition is awkward at best.

    3. Failure to take "no" for an answer BUT "no" has to be clear and unambiguous; for example, "not now" or "I don't think so" are not "no". "Fuck off", "leave me alone", and "go away" are "no". Working with our theme of social awkwardness and difficulty in reading signals, implied "no" is not "no". For example "Have you met my husband" is not "no".

    This is so vague as to be meaningless. Your own attempt at defining a definitive "no" has exceptions. Frankly, I found this attempt humorous.

    4. Attempting to become alone with someone is wrong. Being alone by chance or the actions of other persons is not wrong.

    This negates all attempts at being forward with a woman. It essentially criminalizes male sexuality since male sexual freedom involves convincing a woman that she is physically safe enough to be alone with you. It also presumes that women are not safe to be alone around your average man, a biased presumption if I've ever seen one.

    5. Taking pictures of someone without asking is wrong, unless you are in an area where picture-taking is reasonably expected (i.e., Masquerade).

    That's all I came up with in 10 minutes of trying. I think all 5 could get at least 50% agreement. There might be others. Suggestions?

    This makes just about any photojournalists behavior wrong, a bad idea considering how much the pervasiveness of cameras has helped combat crime. This rule tells me I can't take pictures of someone else's abuse (physical, or verbal with video) in a private space.

    Note that I haven't even addressed the fact that making specific behaviors "wrong" is entirely the wrong way to go about defining "creepy". Most people will have other behaviors that they wish to add to the definition. If a definition can be added to or modified by anyone, it is meaningless.

  308. James Pollock says:

    "You dismissed my suggestion that WORDS be used to minimize confusion, which is pretty rich for a person who's probably posted several thousand words in this thread"
    Did all those words minimize confusion? They did not.

  309. Bob says:

    @InnocentBystander

    Wow, your writing is about the most well-reasoned response I've seen to cut through the bullshit on this issue and call spades spades. I wouldn't say it's ok to leave things as-is and throw our hands up… we still need to encourage people to not be terrible when we can… and stand up for people who are being systematically mistreated. But I think you really nailed the why of it.

  310. James Pollock says:

    "Why do you think so many unmarried women often will have a 'wedding' ring or 'engagement' ring that they can wear in social settings with strangers just to get those who actually have a clue to not bother them?"

    Mr. Weaver, that's two arguments against your position here (besides the context which I've already addressed in my response to Ken).
    First, some people don't actually have a clue. Saying "no" (or "fuck off") cannot be misinterpreted as anything else. Wearing a ring says unambiguously "I have a ring", and can be misinterpreted several different ways.
    Second, if people who aren't married are wearing them, then they aren't even a reliable statement of "I already have a significant other".

  311. Ken White says:

    James, you've pretty much invited Jeremy's response by adherence to the "I can imagine scenarios where hypothetical women wouldn't be offended by this" approach.

    The "it's not necessarily creepy to continue to hit on a woman after she mentions her husband, because I know some people in open relationships" dodge invites the silly response "it's not creepy to touch strangers without their consent because, gosh, what about saving them from a car about to hit them?", which is merely a slight exaggeration of the same thing.

    Hence, creepers can justify following the advice in their sticky PUA manuals about touching strange woman to establish dominance, because they can construct a hypothetical where what if they were bravely pushing them out of the way of a leaping puma, that wouldn't be creepy, SO THERE.

    It's a ludicrous and transparent dodge. That's why I feel perfectly comfortable saying that people who continue to hit on strangers after they mention a spouse or SO — or people who get all touchy with strangers — are creepers, whatever imaginative scenario I can construct in which they aren't.

  312. @Ken:
    If you'd like a weird kicker for this, after I made my last post last night, I ended up drifting through the USEnet archives for some groups I participated in back in the early 90's.

    We called the borderline guys who make people uncomfortable "puppies" instead of "creepers" but it's almost depressing how little the actual discussion has changed.

    I guess on the bright side, it's a wider conversation than just the people on USENet.

  313. Aelfric says:

    Wow, this whole thread eerily reminds me of a guy from my first year of law school–I'll call him "John." John had some social problems of his own, but a professor had asked a female friend of mine to spend some time with him to give him some remedial help in a couple of classes. They only met a few times, because it always went the same way. As my friend tried explaining the concepts to John, he would become increasingly angry, until he would explode with fury and yell "JUST TELL ME THE RULES!" John did not return after first year.

    That seems to me the stance of many of the "creeper defenders," for lack of a better term. But there are no hard and fast rules. This is a case where there is a veto of one. As Ken has said, there are undoubtedly women in the world who would react positively to a crude come-on from a stranger. The overwhelming majority, it would seem, don't. But here's the thing: people are allowed to be offended by anything they like. Actions they take afterward may or may not be rightful, but offense is offense. Certain cons or other private entities may have policies they feel will help women feel more welcome: respect them. While you're at it, respect women. No one is attempting to criminalize male sexuality. Well, unless your idea of male sexuality is to identify a target, try to isolate her from a pack, and then overcome her resistance. If that's your idea of male sexuality, then yeah, it might border on criminal at times.

    I'm a dude (used advisedly). I've been rejected. Have I been creepy at times? Absolutely, especially after a couple drinks. But this is not hard, nor should there be this level of outrage, at least in my very ill-informed opinion.

  314. BoxyBoxyBoxy says:

    @Ken

    It seems as though my recollection of that incident is false, and I severely undermined the point that I was trying to make with it. I would appreciate it you would allow me to retract my posts on the matter, but given that you quoted me to support your point, I would understand if you did not.

  315. anonymous drive by commenter says:

    I have learned the hard way that gender is a more-fundamental layer of people's worldviews than other things. Even in the LGB community, T ends up as an afterthought. (Below B, which is itself like LG Lite to some people.) Fluid gender or non-essentialist (where essentialism would say "your body defines your social role") interpretations corrode the basis of identity–what is "gay" in a many-gendered world?

    All of which is why I believe that such anger comes out: because it is viewed as a gendered thing, harassment and allegations of same are striking at this deep root of self-identity.

    Some of the comments here I skimmed, and I'm not sure we're looking at the same world. I can in no way accept that approaching and kissing a stranger's neck is a mere "social awkwardness" thing. Even if I didn't appreciate the power of a well-placed kiss before getting married, it was pretty obvious (as a socially awkward male-bodied person) that was not something to do. Freedom to swing your lips ends well before their neck begins.

    Finally, sex is not my "#1 prime directive" in any way in spite of my genetics, but by now I'm used to being in the invisible 10% or so.

  316. James Pollock says:

    " A kid is about to walk into traffic and I yank her out of the way of an oncoming car."
    Yes, handling someone else's kid is wrong, always. Letting them be run over is ALSO wrong.
    You takes your pick and you takes your chances.

    "Clothing's primary function is as a way to keep warm, or block the sun. I would argue that this definition is awkward at best."
    It's a work in progress. I think your definition is flawed, at best, also.

    "This negates all attempts at being forward with a woman. It essentially criminalizes male sexuality since male sexual freedom involves convincing a woman that she is physically safe enough to be alone with you."
    Yeah, there's a flaw in that one… it needs a "without consent" in there somewhere.

    "This makes just about any photojournalists behavior wrong"
    Photojournalists generally ask permission when it's feasible to do so. I cut a discussion of paparazzi to keep it simple.
    "This rule tells me I can't take pictures of someone else's abuse (physical, or verbal with video) in a private space."
    Without asking.

    "Note that I haven't even addressed the fact that making specific behaviors "wrong" is entirely the wrong way to go about defining "creepy"."
    Couple of problems there!
    First, I'm not attempting to MAKE behaviors "wrong". I'm attempting to list behaviors that already have broad consensus as being "wrong".
    Second, I'm not attempting to define "creepy". If you believe, as I do, that "creepy" is too broad and subjective a concept to be defined in a way that satisfy a general consensus, then the next best thing is to build categories on which there is general consensus.

    "Most people will have other behaviors that they wish to add to the definition."
    Yes, as noted above, building a consensus, objective definition of "creepy" is probably not possible, so this is something else. I did, after all, solicit additions to this list.

    "If a definition can be added to or modified by anyone, it is meaningless."
    Yes. As above.

  317. DRS says:

    Props all the way to Aelfric.

  318. James Pollock says:

    "The "it's not necessarily creepy to continue to hit on a woman after she mentions her husband, because I know some people in open relationships" dodge"
    Ken, I really expected better of you. I know you are NOT stupid, so you MUST be mischaracterizing this argument by intention. If the context is a place where polyamorous people are known to gather, then assuming that persons present there may be polyamorous is not a "dodge".
    And AGAIN you substitute the broad term "creepy" for the more specific "always unambiguously wrong", AFTER being called on it once before.

    "Hence, creepers can justify following the advice in their sticky PUA manuals about touching strange woman to establish dominance, because they can construct a hypothetical where what if they were bravely pushing them out of the way of a leaping puma, that wouldn't be creepy, SO THERE."
    I suppose that if the presence of a puma can be objectively verified, they might have a point. Otherwise, HUH? (Also, see my response to Jeremy on his points)

    "That's why I feel perfectly comfortable saying that people who continue to hit on strangers after they mention a spouse or SO — or people who get all touchy with strangers — are creepers, whatever imaginative scenario I can construct in which they aren't."
    And again, OK, but not relevant. For all I care, you can state your clear and unswerving opinion that all left-handers are creepers, that people who bowl regularly are creepers, or that people who spend too much time on the Internet are creepers. That's your opinion, you're welcome to it… but it's not responsive to anything I wrote.

  319. John Beaty says:

    So, this thread is now: "James Pollack is a (creeper/troll/fabulously entitled nerd/brilliant writer/ethical genius) who must be (listened to/repeatedly talked down by/feted by all and sundry), and is a perfect example of Ken's original thesis. So, to answer Ken, "Keep watering the lawn, they're not done jumping yet."

    My wife, who was a gamer for a while years ago, said to me: "James is the poster child for the casual creeper. Not the actually agressive, dangerous ones, but the man-children who enable their behavior." I concur. The constant restating of position while claiming that the two statements are materially different, the nit-picking over potential differences in meaning while ignoring the actual usage of the words in question, the unwillingness to examine his own behavior in light of the feedback that he is asking for and rejecting gout of hand, all lead me to believe that further conversation with him is simply troll-feeding, and ultimately without end. In previous threads I have seen him persist in the same way, so I don't think this is itself an example of the extreem over-reaction that Ken began with, but it is exactly the sorts of conversations that drives me out of web-sites: endlessly arguing over minutia while ignoring the actual discussion at hand.

  320. Jon Lapak says:

    James Pollock:

    The problem is not with the contents of the list of bad behaviors. The problem is with the concept of the list and the approach to its construction. You are trying to build an objective list of an inherently subjective set (that set being 'acceptable actions.') You appear to be trying to do the same thing within the comment thread itself – to find an objective context or interpretation which makes some of your statements acceptable or palatable or correct in an inarguable, fact-based fashion.

    Human interactions don't operate on pure reason. They aren't objective. They are aren't fact-based. Your approach – both in the list construction and your approach to your critics in this conversation – is doomed to failure before it starts. Because no, it's not as simple as "Yes, handling someone else's kid is wrong, always." Picking a kid up to get them out of the way of a runaway truck is about as unambiguously correct an action as interactions-between-two-people get, while picking up a stranger's child unprompted in any other situation would be pretty far on the wrong end of the scale. Context matters, as do the emotions, opinions, and perceptions of the people involved. Narrowing the interpretation of your words in this thread to a laser-focus in which you are technically correct will not change the fact that the people you're talking to found your words harmful and abhorrent; in communication the message sent counts for much, much less than the message received.

    In building a list of 'what to do' you cannot set absolute, objective definitions. It doesn't matter if you can pin down a 1-in-1000 anomaly where a particular action is good or bad that goes against the general trend; if your goal is actually to create a 'guide to general behavior' list you need to follow the strongest trends and deliberately discard the anomalies. If there are 50 situations in which touching a stranger is wrong, bad or creepy and 1 in which it is okay and welcome, a [i]useful[/i] list will toss that 1 out the window and go with the dominant trend of 50-strong situations where 'it's not okay to do this.' You pay lip service to this in your post of 9:46 AM, that you want to build a "general consensus", but when people are offering solid criticisms you are retreating into hyper-specific, extreme counterexamples. You're saying one thing and doing another, and that's not helping you communicate clearly either.

  321. Tarrou says:

    @ Ken

    "My premise is that people react with irrational anger to discussions of actual sexual harassment"

    And my premise is that people react with justifiable and rational anger to false, misunderstood, and oversensitive charges of sexual harassment. The two are not mutually exclusive. It is the very strength and subjectivity of the charge which causes this duality.

    "The argument seems to be "I am angry about women complaining about being groped or stalked or dirty-talked by strangers because talking about how that's not right may lead to a world when my innocent behavior could be misconstrued.""

    The argument is that I am concerned that the equivocation of words like "harassment" and "creepy" lead to people conflating women being groped with women being looked at. If women complain about being groped, that is legitimate, shameful and criminal. I support punishing the offenders both legally and socially. I decry any pushback or blaming of women for this behavior. In this case, I am angry at presumptuous men, not complaining women.

    But we are not dealing solely with assault, we are dealing with a huge area of sensitive human interaction. And just as harassment gets conflated with rape, now "creepiness" is being conflated with harassment. The two are distinct, and to the degree (whatever it be) that paranoia over harassment leads to the stigmatization of normal masculinity, I am angry about that.

    I don't see any of this as constructive. I think we probably agree to a very high degree about what behavior is appropriate and what is not, but we seem to disagree about how to get there. I don't think creating vague and subjective categories with which to tar our internet enemies with is anything more than partisanship.

    Whatever the reason, this is a delicate and highly charged subject. Men get angry at being compared to rapists. And some people seem to think that any sort of caution short of "lynch anything with a penis" is rape apology. Do note that a couple women above have specifically introduced their own rape as a means of shutting down the discussion. Whatever Pollock's arguments' merits, or lack thereof, that takes the discussion to a dark place quickly.

    What I'd like is a clear and understandable standard of acceptable behavior. I don't think we can do that perfectly, but it's worth trying. We can certainly improve on what we have. And the best way to do that is not to compare the vast majority of men to rapists and tar them as "creepers".

  322. James Pollock says:

    "My wife, who was a gamer for a while years ago, said to me: "James is the poster child for the casual creeper. Not the actually agressive, dangerous ones, but the man-children who enable their behavior."

    Mr. Beaty (note that I spelled your name correctly), I say to you that your wife, who used to be a gamer, makes judgments about people without knowing a damn thing about them.

  323. Aelfric says:

    @James Pollock–you said "I say to you that your wife, who used to be a gamer, makes judgments about people without knowing a damn thing about them."

    That's really sort of the crux of the matter, isn't it? The wife in question knows you as you have presented yourself here. She has made what is, to my mind, a not-unjustifiable judgment call. This is precisely what it is to deem an action "creepy:" to make a judgment based on available information, incomplete though it may be. Again, just a thought.

  324. James Pollock says:

    "This is precisely what it is to deem an action "creepy:" to make a judgment based on available information, incomplete though it may be. Again, just a thought."
    And if you do this, do those so-labeled have no justification in objecting to being classed along with the gropers, stalkers, and rapists? Just another thought.

  325. James Pollock says:

    That is, assuming that they are not actually a groper, stalker, or rapist.

  326. Aelfric says:

    James Pollock–Object all you like. It's best not to be put in that situation in the first place, but it can happen via mistake or misunderstanding. I'm not sure exactly what punishment you think women deserve for the crime of mentally classifying you in an undesirable category, but I would just say it's really not that difficult to avoid.

    I, for one, welcome our hypersexualized-yet-prudish psychic female overlords.

  327. Christina says:

    I think a very clear and understandable standard of acceptable behavior, one that can cover 100% of situations, even if 2% of people don't care much about such etiquette, would be the one where you don't make a sexual-social overture without having gained directly from the individual their name and at least ten pieces of information about them (again, directly from them), and having shared with them directly your name and at least ten pieces of information about yourself.

    "Directly" means via dialogue with them – no assuming that because you've read all about the author/blogger/gamer/etc. that the universe has marked them as your soul mate and no dialogue is required.

    Name-sharing (this should happen regardless of whether badges are being worn that already identify the name) provides a social cue demonstrating respect of the individual as a person, and not merely as potential partner, interesting tattoo, nice ass, etc.

    Ten pieces of information in each direction means the dialogue has lasted long enough for each individual to have collected both verbal and sub-verbal data to inform their verbal and sub-verbal choices moving forward into a sexual-social conversation.

    In other words, treat it like a professional interaction for the first five minutes, and then see where that takes you.

    Ken, do you think I can take this to Kickstarter for funding, because I think I'm onto something…

  328. Daniel Taylor says:

    James is correct, though. Rape is very clearly defined, as are assault and harassment.

    I frequently identify people as "creepy" in one way or another, it's just a bad vibe I get and a sign that I should avoid those people. They are doubtless almost all very nice people, they just carry themselves in a way that people that have treated me badly in the past carried themselves.

    Creepy is not a crime.

  329. Robert White says:

    I was written up for sexually harassing a guy at work once. After nearly a week of having to listen to him describe his girlfriend and his interactions with her (e.g. "and she tastes so sweet when I go down on her") and so on he, having established his "straight cred" in his own mind, asked me "so how do you get to be gay."

    I looked him straight in the eye and said "There's a test." He says "Really?" with that sweet gullible look this sort of boob can get. "Yea," I said, "the written is really easy but the orals are a _bitch_."

    So how was it that four days of graphic sexual descriptions were okay in the mind of this guy, but one joke was totally out of line? Well that's because sexual harassment (as opposed to just being a dick) is unworkably subjective.

    Then again, about a week and a half ago I was at a game where one of the guys kept on at some woman because she was Vegan. Of course she wasn't there as a player, she was there to watch while her friend (another girl) waited to step in as an NPC to try out gaming without having to commit to the scene. (The less said about that dynamic the better, I am not in that game any more.)

  330. TM says:

    <blockquote cite="aelfric" But here's the thing: people are allowed to be offended by anything they like. Actions they take afterward may or may not be rightful, but offense is offense.

    Sure, and no one (to my knowledge) is saying that people aren't allowed to be offended by anything they like. But when these discussions come up, they're not often about "can I be offended" they're usually about "what should be done about those people. As I noted above, usually those people is defined to include a lot of collateral damage, which then gets the collaterally included people justifiably offended and angered that they are being lumped into a category which in this thread alone includes actions as simple as asking if you would like a drink all the way up to honest to goodness child rape. That's a pretty broad brush. Everyone is allowed to be offended for any reason, but when you start talking about what to do about the people causing the offence, now you have to get into the discussion of "is the offence something worth creating a social, organizational or legal rule" for (and for that matter, there there already rules about it, see groping).

    I think a very clear and understandable standard of acceptable behavior, one that can cover 100% of situations, even if 2% of people don't care much about such etiquette, would be the one where you don't make a sexual-social overture without having gained directly from the individual their name and at least ten pieces of information about them (again, directly from them), and having shared with them directly your name and at least ten pieces of information about yourself.

    That's a generally good rule. Now, how do you initiate the interaction to obtain the said 10 items of information without being "creepy", especially considering that in this thread along we've had a declaration that asking someone if they want a drink can be creepy if they're offerer number 300 for the day.

    Let's be honest here, most of the creepy guys are not going to turn out to be crazy people with no respect for boundaries, they're just guys with lousy social skills that have no idea how to even initiate that first interaction. To be fair, part of the problem is that these guys are approaching the interaction with an attempt at romantic relations rather than starting at friends, but see socially awkward.

  331. James Pollock says:

    "the one where you don't make a sexual-social overture without having gained directly from the individual their name and at least ten pieces of information about them"
    Do you mean "sexual" or "social" by "sexual-social"? How do you obtain this ten pieces of information without making a social overture?
    (Counting up and collecting these ten pieces of information sounds really stalker-y to me. If you make a go of it, however, I can see cons passing out little business-card-size scorecards where the pursuers might jot down their findings.).
    Rather than making it a set list of ten, maybe you could set it up like a Bingo card. I can see it: The scene, the hotel bar at Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con. The characters, Cad Caddington, III and Polly Pureheart. Cad and Polly are talking. Establishing shot: the bar is full of weirdly-costumed people. Close-up, Polly.
    Polly: "yes, I have two brothers, one older and one younger, and a younger sister. I liked growing up in a big family, even if it did mean that I had to share a bedroom…" Polly continues talking, but the sound is muted almost all the way.
    Close up, Cad's hands. He has a Bingo card, and he's filling in the "siblings?" box. Favorite author is already filled in (Heinlein), as is alma mater (UCLA, 2 years, dropout), and best friend's name (Elizabeth). several other entries are marked. One box that would make a bingo is open.
    Narrator (as cad) "Oh, boy! All I need now is "favorite color" and I have bingo and can ask her up to my room!"
    Polly's voice comes back up
    Polly: "… and that's why I like blue so much."
    Cad throws his arms in the air.
    Cad: "YES!"
    fade to black.

  332. TM says:

    An addendum to my last post: It's also worth noting that for a lot of socially awkward guys, the simple act of even approaching and introducing yourself to a member of the opposite sex is a "sexual-social overture", so such a rule could lead to other creepy and stalkerish behavior, like hunting down the target of your affections on Twitfacespace to learn everything you can about them (ever run into one of these people? It's creepy as hell even to an outsider).

  333. The problem with rules lawyering about phrasing and action is that tone and circumstance so often trump words. If a woman responds to a suggestive remark with the phrase "Have you met my husband?" the meaning is dependent on the tone and circumstance. If she says it angrily and firmly, there's pretty much no question it means 'no.' If she cocks her hip, smiles, looks at your crotch, then looks you in the eye with a bigger smile and says it as a question, she might be inviting you to a three-way. In either case, tone and attitude tell you what your next step should be.

    Words aren't the issue, and there will never be agreement on it. A recognition of the social clues both given and received are what's required.

    Being blind to them often leads one to creeper behavior. If you're fifteen, someone might take you aside and explain some of it to you. If you're thirty, most people will assume you're hopeless. Your mileage may vary, mine's been pretty consistent.

  334. James Pollock says:

    "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"

    Baby, do you understand me now
    Sometimes I feel a little mad
    But don't you know that no one alive
    Can always be an angel
    When things go wrong I seem to be bad
    But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
    Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

    Baby, sometimes I'm so carefree
    With a joy that's hard to hide
    And sometimes it seems that all I have do is worry
    Then you're bound to see my other side
    But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
    Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

    If I seem edgy I want you to know
    That I never mean to take it out on you
    Life has it's problems and I get my share
    And that's one thing I never meant to do
    Because I love you
    Oh, Oh baby don't you know I'm human
    Have thoughts like any other one
    Sometimes I find myself long regretting
    Some foolish thing some little simple thing I've done
    But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
    Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
    Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
    Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
    Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
    Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

  335. MT says:

    James: you're approaching this from the geekiest perspective possible, and it's evident that you don't understand social interactions on the whole. Interacting with another person is not like interacting with a videogame where there are ten specific pieces of information required in order to advance to stage 2 of the quest.

    Social interaction is about guesswork and judging vibes. Knowing things about someone isn't "I know you have a brother and love blue," it's asking "how's your brother?" the next time you see them and getting them something blue for their birthday. You're trying to reduce an illogical system down to logical rules that are obviously absurd, which is probably why you're not succeeding in figuring out why you are so creepy.

  336. TM says:

    The problem with rules lawyering about phrasing and action is that tone and circumstance so often trump words.

    And this is why a clear and unambiguous "No" is so important. People mix up or miss other social cues all the time, but if we as a society agree (and we should) that "No" or "Stop" is and always means "No" no matter the tone, body language or other social queues, then even the most socially inept can catch it.

    Heck, I'm married and still have tonal / body language mix ups with my wife. You'd think after years of living together, we'd have these sorts of things down, but we don't. Now imagine a high stress individual interaction.

  337. Grandy says:

    So how was it that four days of graphic sexual descriptions were okay in the mind of this guy, but one joke was totally out of line?

    Robert White, I suspect your beef should be with your HR department (or equivalent). The guy in question sounds like a waste of space. But bureaucracy is as bureaucracy does. Either they handled this in a manner so inconsistent that it suggests they've exposed themselves to liability, or you never made a formal complaint and they're not scripted to care until you do.

  338. Jeremy says:

    @James Pollock

    Yes, handling someone else's kid is wrong, always. Letting them be run over is ALSO wrong. You takes your pick and you takes your chances.

    This is a no-win scenario. The question in the original post by Ken was:
    "Why does talking about creepers and harassment make people so angry"…
    To which he says:
    "I confess: I still don't get it."

    Yet you both seem to acknowledge the no-win aspect of this non-definition of undesirable male behavior. You both understand that the definition of creepy is solely at the discretion of the person making the accusation, yet you cannot understand why people might be upset at being slandered as "creepy" for what is effectively normal male behavior.

    You can't hide behind the fact that most behavior defined as "creepy" is in fact unwanted. It doesn't matter, what matters is that the definition is allowed, and even encouraged to change whenever a woman feels uncomfortable. The situation remains that what is undesired behavior from males is allowed to change on the whim of the accuser, and that's enough to get anyone upset.

    I disregarded the rest of your post due to time, and the fact that my point is already well made in what I've written here.

  339. Turb0Grl says:

    So, to jump into the tiger's den after the bloodbath has already started…

    My husband and I are both part of the "geek" culture described above; him in the cyber world, I'm in the pop culture arena. The problems that Ken describes are so acute in our house that we cannot even discuss the issue any longer. My husband's opinion that the people described by Evelyn, et al (i.e., the, dare I type it, ADA Initiative-types) are causing more problems then they're solving. He feels that men in general, and more personally him specifically as part of the culture, are being lumped into a "you must be a misogynist rapist if you don't actively support our point-of-view" stereotype. All the fun is being taking out of his scene because men like him are afraid to speak in any tone other than a monotone voice about strictly technical things. My point is that not only are terrible things happening (still happening), but even worse is what happens when someone tries to report the bad behavior or even just call it out (examples are numerous, and recent, and have even gone into the realm of violent, physical assault). A very vocal "hey you, girly, show me your tits, make me a sandwich and shut the hell up" minority is making things unpleasant for everyone involved but no one wants to/knows how? to deal with them effectively. Cons are trying to deal with events like this, but the extreme reactions from all sides puts them in a very awkward and seemingly untenable position.

    I'm the first to admit, it's hard to acknowledge but both of our views are valid, both of our points can be backed up by anecdotal evidence and personal experience. And since we're parents of an 11 year old girl who wants to accompany me to cons so we can cosplay and kicks butt at Skyrim and Assassins Creed and has already faced the "how good can you be, you're just a girl," mentality – it's become frighteningly personal. I've lived my life getting dismissed because my balls are on my chest and not between my legs, and I've learned to live with it. My husband has been known to frighten people just by his presence; he doesn't like like it, but meh, it happens. But I'll be damned if my kid's got to go through sh*t like this. To be a geek is to find the elegance in something overlooked by others; to be so excited and passionate about that one little slice of knowledge that we can hardly contain ourselves. This is why our communities exist – to share that delight we have in these things with other, like-minded individuals. I think we can do better in dealing with each other. I think, at some point, we're going to have to.

  340. James Pollock says:

    "you cannot understand why people might be upset at being slandered as "creepy" for what is effectively normal male behavior. "
    I think you might have misunderstood the role I'm playing in this little drama. I'm the scapegoat.

  341. Huey says:

    Oh, good. I was concerned you might not be aware of that.

  342. Christina says:

    @James Pollock
    "Do you mean "sexual" or "social" by "sexual-social"? How do you obtain this ten pieces of information without making a social overture?
    (Counting up and collecting these ten pieces of information sounds really stalker-y to me. If you make a go of it, however, I can see cons passing out little business-card-size scorecards where the pursuers might jot down their findings.)."

    Well, clearly, I meant "sexual-social" and not either merely sexual or social. (Note the use of the modifying hyphen and not the conjunctive slash.) Because, yes, good catch, you need to be social in order to follow the rule. And if you're being sexual, you're either committing assault or engaging in a consensual PDA.

    The reason it's so easy to mock what I said, vis a vis your Creepy Stalker Bingo ™ game, speaks right to the point 95% of people are trying to make in these conversations. Even the most socially inept geek just isn't this stupid. Instead, they're just a PUA masquerading as a geek because they think they might get their Princess-Leia-gold-bikini or Kushiel's Dart fantasy to come true with an SF chick.

    If you implement a strategy of having a plain non-pickup social conversation with someone first (no gender or sexuality bias necessary), you're going to have better luck and lower risk across the board. In fact, you might even try having multiple of those first, before heading into sexual pickup territory.

    But I'm forgetting the strong taste of "blue balls" that has flavored this entire discussion, the horrific pressure of the pathologically inept geek who is so seethingly desperate to lose his virginity that all women must subordinate their bodily integrity to sacrificial compassion.

  343. TM says:

    If you implement a strategy of having a plain non-pickup social conversation with someone first (no gender or sexuality bias necessary), you're going to have better luck and lower risk across the board. In fact, you might even try having multiple of those first, before heading into sexual pickup territory.

    But I'm forgetting the strong taste of "blue balls" that has flavored this entire discussion, the horrific pressure of the pathologically inept geek who is so seethingly desperate to lose his virginity that all women must subordinate their bodily integrity to sacrificial compassion.

    I think you're being a little unfair here. The distinction for a socially awkward geek between a sexual and a social encounter with the opposite sex is difficult for them to make. And while it may seem obvious, when you're young, full of hormones and your social model is with the other inmates (when a large chunk of our social development takes place, we're still in school most of the day) it's not nearly as clear. I have personal experience with this, and the revelation that you can have social, but non romantic interactions with females was something that I didn't get till late in the game, and I'm one of the lucky ones that got it before college (and even then it was a hard habit to break).

  344. Jeremy says:

    @Turb0Grl

    My husband's opinion that the people described by Evelyn, et al (i.e., the, dare I type it, ADA Initiative-types) are causing more problems then they're solving. He feels that men in general, and more personally him specifically as part of the culture, are being lumped into a "you must be a misogynist rapist if you don't actively support our point-of-view" stereotype.

    He's not joking, they are being lumped in.

    My point is that not only are terrible things happening (still happening), but even worse is what happens when someone tries to report the bad behavior or even just call it out (examples are numerous, and recent, and have even gone into the realm of violent, physical assault). A very vocal "hey you, girly, show me your tits, make me a sandwich and shut the hell up" minority is making things unpleasant for everyone involved but no one wants to/knows how? to deal with them effectively.

    The problem here is presuming our daughters need protection from words, while telling them that they're strong and independent. That is a complete contradiction. Either you are strong, independent, "kick ass" and you can deal with someone throwing some trash talk your way, or you aren't. You can't tell girls that they can go out and do anything they want in life, and not meet opposition from which they need protection. That's a sheer lie no matter what sex you are. You wouldn't tell your son this, why do our daughters need protection from what is essentially normal male behavior if they can do anything the guys can do? Guys don't have a problem standing up for themselves when they have opposition to their goals. Why do the girls, if they are strong and capable of doing whatever they want require added attention/protection?

    Mind you, I'm not talking about physical assault. If women are having a problem with physical assault, well then frankly they should go buy a pistol, or surrender their "you go, girl" card. No, I am talking about words. For some reason in gamer/geek spaces, females who consider themselves quite capable need protection from the words out of males. This is hilariously contradictory to female empowerment.

  345. Christina: "But I'm forgetting the strong taste of "blue balls" that has flavored this entire discussion, the horrific pressure of the pathologically inept geek who is so seethingly desperate to lose his virginity that all women must subordinate their bodily integrity to sacrificial compassion."

    This.

    It is truly amazing how there appears to be some belief that males must have sex (with a woman) or something really, really bad will happen to them. (Not having sex is really really bad, right?)

    I've said most of what I have to say about catering to the socially inept, and you're right, the socially inept are simply not anywhere near as stupid as to be part of the real issue.

  346. Guest says:

    Underrepresented in this discussion is the fact that women instinctively despise weak, passive men, thus many men in these communities may have been bullied, emotionally and verbally abused by girls growing up, not just when they "deserved" it for trying to make friends but merely for minding their own business.

    A perfect example of this is the Evil Nice Guy meme that is a popular straw man for feminist blogs. I actually basically agree with the premise but I think it is instructive to take notice of the intensity of contempt and rage that passive guys illicit from women for, well, not doing much of anything, vs. the tolerance for and celebration of aggressive male behavior. Contrast the Evil Nice Guy with the number of posts and comments on Jezebel about how hot Don Draper is and I'm sure there is a sociology PhD in there somewhere.

    I was a fat, nerdy kid and I got plenty of abuse for it, and not just from jocks. I remember getting beat up in front of the (middle aged lady) playground supervisors and them not giving a shit, no doubt because they saw weak, pathetic little me and would just as soon have seen me summarily executed to clean up the gene pool and prevent the worst-case scenario that I might somehow survive to adulthood, impregnate their daughter and pollute their own genetic legacy.

    I got tons of crap, all day, every day, from girls I had class with, for just minding my own business. Insults, humiliation, harassment, on and on and on. In my dating life, because there are only so many women who like passive men, and they are seemingly all screwed up, I found myself mostly preyed upon by women who despised me but actively pursued and pretended to like me because they wanted someone who would put up with being put down and dehumanized. So I found myself cast in the role of the victimizer in a gender morality play, with endless lectures about feminism, rape culture, how evil men are, how evil I am for being a man, how I was victimizing them, what I thought, all the terrible sexist things I did (that I hadn't actually done). Just a big giant mind fuck that they accurately assumed they could get away with by picking on a weakling.

    Supposing that many men in these communities have had similar experiences, the siege mentality is not that hard to comprehend. It is not so much "Oh no, those people I tried unsuccessfully to sexually harass have come for me, now I must behave!" but more like "Oh no, those people who proactively sought me out and preyed upon me during my entire childhood are back, and they are telling me how horrible I am again and that I need to change to accommodate them or GTFO of my place of refuge."

  347. Aelfric says:

    Jeremy–first of all, you managed to use a characterization of feminism (it does not posit that men, women, or other genders are all exactly identical), but then, in an amazingly loathsome display, blame women who suffer physical assault for being unarmed. This is why, in general, I can't so much as take your side of this argument seriously.

  348. Christina says:

    @TM
    "The distinction for a socially awkward geek between a sexual and a social encounter with the opposite sex is difficult for them to make."

    Oh, I understand that – because I was a socially inept nerd, and my partner was a socially inept nerd, all through high school and half of college (when we met each other and could be inept together). Yes, every encounter is sexually freighted, within the person who is feeling the sexual pressure (or maybe it's both of them). But when you're so terrified of the social encounter, the last thing you want to do is bring sexual talk into the conversation; it's going to be a plenty high enough difficulty level without that.

    Thus back to the rule – keep it clean and casual, direct and dialoguing. At a con, this rule shouldn't be challenging to implement, because after all everyone there is self-selected to attend and you'll have lots to talk about, even if you stutter and low-talk and stare over their shoulder and twirl your braid or beard while you do.

  349. Jeremy says:

    @Aelfric

    first of all, you managed to use a characterization of feminism (it does not posit that men, women, or other genders are all exactly identical)

    I think your imagination has run wild, I never mentioned feminism, nor spoke to the degree to which men and women are in fact equals.

    …but then, in an amazingly loathsome display, blame women who suffer physical assault for being unarmed. This is why, in general, I can't so much as take your side of this argument seriously.

    No this is not true. More likely, you found as much as you could in my words as you could that is distasteful to you, and completely ignored my primary point. It's not my fault that you feel you need protection from my words. It is however, your fault for failing to understand my primary point, and instead focusing solely on side points that you disliked.

    You couldn't have provided a clearer picture of all the points I've made in this thread. I posted a clear example of a contradiction in female empowerment. That is, women want all the exact same opportunities and exposure to the world as men get, but want protection from all that they dislike. Well you can't have it both ways, you either want exposure, opportunity and experiences, or you don't. You can't have just the positive experiences of being a free and responsible adult, you have to take the bad with the good.

    But instead of seeing that point, you found small portions of my words that offended you, and then accused me of being loathsome. You might as well have just called me creepy based on whatever was upsetting you at the moment, it wouldn't be that different a behavior.

  350. DRS says:

    The socially-inept argument got trashed pretty thoroughly on Scalzi's site during a thread about creeper behavior at a gamer convention. Basically: if you're socially inept, don't expect that other people (ie, women) have an obligation to un-inept you. It's actually pretty presumptuous to expect them to.

    I must admit I have the mental image of that scene from the Star Trek movie where an adolescent Spock loses his innocence by rubbing index fingers with some Vulcan woman. Maybe too many geeks saw that movie at a susceptible age.

  351. DRS says:

    Actually, Jeremy: you definitely could have phrased your point better (and I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here, because that's how I read it too) and lashing out at others doesn't really give me any incentive to read more of your stuff.

  352. Orphan says:

    At this point any ignorance on why people get angry or bitter about discussions of "creepiness" is willing, and the contempt for a group they refuse to understand is showing from far too many who think they have something meaningful to add to the conversation.

    Ken, for asking a rhetorical question you refuse the answer to, you've lost a measure of respect from me. This post was not a question, it was an excuse to attack people. *Shrug* You can do with that information what you will.

  353. Christina says:

    @Jeremy
    "why do our daughters need protection from what is essentially normal male behavior if they can do anything the guys can do?"

    Essentially normal male behavior??? What makes it that??? The fact that my 17yo daughter comes home from her MWF public transit commute and day in San Francisco, and every single time has a tale of harassment to tell?? Being followed and verbally harassed? Waking up on the train with her shirt pulled over, exposing one bra-covered breast? "Hey, baby [because I don't even know your name], let me have a piece of that ass!"??

    Common behavior, maybe. Common like dirt is common.

  354. Aelfric says:

    Jeremy, simple question: do you believe that "[i]f women are having a problem with physical assault, well then frankly they should go buy a pistol, or surrender their 'you go, girl' card"?

  355. DRS says:

    If that's your idea of "normal male behavior", Jeremy, then you are seriously messed up.

  356. Orphan says:

    Case in point: Jeremy talks about verbal harassment (read earlier in the quoted paragraph) and that topic is conflated with physical assault by both Aelfric and Christina. *Shakes head* This is why these discussions make some people so angry. The dishonesty there is staggering.

    Seriously, you two, can you not make your point without lying about what somebody said? That doesn't bode well for your position. I don't even care to follow the argument any further because you've already demonstrated a willingness to misrepresent what the other party said to try to score points. Pathetic.

  357. Christina says:

    @Jeremy
    " That is, women want all the exact same opportunities and exposure to the world as men get, but want protection from all that they dislike. Well you can't have it both ways, you either want exposure, opportunity and experiences, or you don't. You can't have just the positive experiences of being a free and responsible adult, you have to take the bad with the good."

    Women don't require a man's generous permission for access to exposure, opportunity and experience. And if "the bad" for a man is that they get slapped down for harassment because they propositioned a woman without even knowing her name, and more and more people now find that offensive, and that man is less likely to access sex and needs to track down a PUA manual (which they might have trouble finding because women have economic power with Kickstarter to keep jackasses and pigs contained in corrals where they belong)… oh well.

  358. TM says:

    Thus back to the rule – keep it clean and casual, direct and dialoguing. At a con, this rule shouldn't be challenging to implement, because after all everyone there is self-selected to attend and you'll have lots to talk about, even if you stutter and low-talk and stare over their shoulder and twirl your braid or beard while you do.

    But now we're back to offering a drink is "creepy" behavior. Certainly walking up to a random stranger and stammering, stutter and staring past them while you try to eck out a few meaningful words is considered creepy. And that's the problem with using "creepy" and "creeper" as our markers here and why we should define specific behaviors as "not OK". Don't get me wrong, it took me forever to figure out the "non sexual / romantic interactions are easier" bit and it's very good advice, but we need clear lines for what behaviors we generally interpret as sexual, because frankly offering a drink does not cross that line for me.

    Basically: if you're socially inept, don't expect that other people (ie, women) have an obligation to un-inept you. It's actually pretty presumptuous to expect them to.

    The opposite of this is that if you're going to freely congregate with the socially inept, it's presumptuous of you to expect them to suddenly change their ways without any prompting from you on that front. And you can't tell me that choosing to go to a geek convention is not choosing to congregate with the socially inept. Geeks are socially inept almost by definition, so any gathering of them will have socially inept people.

  359. Aelfric says:

    Orphan–Did Jeremy say, or did he not, that "[i]f women are having a problem with physical assault, well then frankly they should go buy a pistol, or surrender their 'you go, girl' card"? True, he did distinguish it from his earlier discussion of verbal harassment, but it seems to me I did not bring up the topic of physical assault apropos of nothing. I am not sure how I misrepresented that.

  360. Christina says:

    @TM
    " because frankly offering a drink does not cross that line for me."

    Under what circumstances? Walking up to a complete stranger and saying "hey babe, can I buy you a drink?"? Creepy, because you are clearly looking at them as an object and not as a person. If you were looking at them as a person, you would know their name and maybe even a few other things about them.

    "Hey, babe, can I give you $5 to let me talk to you?" is what you're really saying if that's what you lead with.

  361. Orphan says:

    Aelfric –

    He did. I was referring to your previous statement about him blaming women for being unarmed; you took an offhand statement and made that the primary emphasis of your response; he introduced his views as a means of stating that his response -wasn't- addressing that situation. (He made the derailing possible with an unwise introduction of an irrelevant opinion, you made it complete by taking that opinion in its least charitable interpretation and making that the focus of your response.)

  362. @Jeremy: "You wouldn't tell your son this, why do our daughters need protection from what is essentially normal male behavior if they can do anything the guys can do?"

    Because the ROE (Rules Of Engagement) in a physical altercation are different between men and women.

    A male attacking a woman will assume he has the upper hand.

    A male attacking a woman is far less likely to back off due to a bluff, displayed weapon, whatever.

    A male attacking a woman who is capable of hurting him, is more likely to double-down than back off when hurt, unless she can make it a major injury.

    Guys treat a fight with another guy as a semi-sport. They treat a fight with a woman as a threat to their identity.

    In MANY ways, it's similar to how guys will treat a guy who is significantly smaller then the average. He'll almost never be able to "bluff out" and they're not going to be pulling punches.

    But this is the twister – any woman no matter her size or physical shape will be treated this way.

    I'm quite familiar with that treatment, it's what I got when I was the 2nd shortest kid in all my classes. No matter how many times I bloodied their noses, they came back.

    Until I crossed 6'2 and a 170lbs and kept going and the DAMNDEST thing happened.

    People stopped wanting to get in fights with me. They actively avoided giving me offense. (Which yes, was a damned good idea, since I was used to taking on people twice my size)

    For Women? It NEVER stops.

    I've seen a woman who is in my size range have a guy start physically manhandling her. She was one of my sparring friends, and she kicked his ass, but I'll lay you dollars for donuts that he NEVER would have tried that with a guy of the same size and build as hers.

    How do you not know this? Enough that you blithely say "Well, then get a gun".

  363. DRS says:

    Orphan: Aelfric is right; we responded to Jeremy's comment about buying a pistol. We did not lie.

    TM: "The opposite of this is that if you're going to freely congregate with the socially inept, it's presumptuous of you to expect them to suddenly change their ways without any prompting from you on that front."

    To hell with that noise. If I go to a convention or a conference, I'm there for the topic or for other reasons of my own. To educate the socially inept is not my or any other person's responsibility. If the kind of social interaction most people pick up with minimal effort throughout life is too much for them to handle, maybe they'd better keep themselves out of the way.

  364. TM says:

    Under what circumstances? Walking up to a complete stranger and saying "hey babe, can I buy you a drink?"? Creepy, because you are clearly looking at them as an object and not as a person. If you were looking at them as a person, you would know their name and maybe even a few other things about them.

    Again, what non creepy method do you suggest for obtaining these bits of information before initiating social contact at a con? Do you seriously think that all offers of a drink are sexual in nature? Also, don't you think it's a bit unfair to assume the mental state of a person you also know nothing about?

  365. Orphan says:

    DRS –

    I didn't said it was a lie, I said it was dishonest. The argument was intended to score points against Jeremy, not honestly address what he said, which is apparent from the moment you start arguing with an aside which is irrelevant to the topic at hand, and doubled down when the argument made is only tenable with an uncharitable interpretation of his statements.

    When he called Aelfric on it, Aelfric doubled down.

  366. DRS says:

    TM: you don't just walk up to a complete stranger and ask them a personal question (or make a personal statement like that). You could say something about the convention or conference or event that you're both attending – you know, something neutral, based on a possible mutual interest. I can't believe you need this explained to you.

    Not to mention: ever heard of a date-rape drug? Look it up in Wikipedia.

    And seriously: "can I buy you a drink?" Didn't that line go out with disco?

  367. DRS says:

    Orphan: these are your words: "Seriously, you two, can you not make your point without lying about what somebody said? "

    Now you stop lying.

  368. Dan says:

    Ken, any chance of an update on the Prenda situation? The Prenda-ites have all filed papers expressing their complete shock and utter dismay that they have not been served with papers properly, and therefore Morgan Pietz is the fraudster who must be sanctioned. I have a feeling this is BS but I can't figure out why.

  369. Orphan says:

    DRS/Aelfric – See: http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Arguments_as_soldiers

    Jeremy didn't defend the argument; he made clear it was irrelevant. Quit attacking it. (Also, DRS, I didn't accuse you of dishonesty, because I think you realized Jeremy made a mistake in putting an irrelevant point forward. It was the continuing-to-attack-it part that annoyed me there.)

  370. Aelfric says:

    Orphan–I confess I did shift some emphasis there, as that opinion struck me as incredibly noteworthy. But, I still don't think I misrepresented what he said. I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea that he derailed his own post, but if I spent six pages talking about the Rule Against Perpetuities, and ended my memo with "Also, all white people are racist," something tells me legal niceties will not be the takeaway.

  371. Orphan says:

    DRS –

    I did say that, yes. My mistake.

  372. Dan says:

    Also, jesus christ on a candycane, what happened in this comments section? Did the entire population of Tumblr turn out to prove Ken right?

  373. TM says:

    To hell with that noise. If I go to a convention or a conference, I'm there for the topic or for other reasons of my own. To educate the socially inept is not my or any other person's responsibility.

    Of course it isn't your responsibility, and it's not the socially inept's responsibility to alter their (legal, let's be clear, violations of the laws are another matter) behavior to suit your cultural norms. IOW change begins with You, and if you silently suffer the social ineptitudes of the people you congregate with, then it won't change. So yes, you and obstinately and correctly assert you have no responsibility to define the social norms and the socially inept should read your mind. Of course you're also free to wish into a bucket, but it fills up faster if you pee.

  374. ChicagoTom says:

    Walking up to a complete stranger and saying "hey babe, can I buy you a drink?"? Creepy, because you are clearly looking at them as an object and not as a person.

    If anyone was wondering why men get so defensive when it comes to this topic, this comment is a perfect example of what a big part of the problem is.

    Offering to buy someone a drink, in a social setting, before getting to know them, makes one a creep?!?!?!

    "Can I buy you a drink" is one of the oldest and most common ice breakers in the history of courting — an easy and comfortable way to basically say "Id like to get to know you more", and now it is being turned into something abhorrent because it's objectifying or some such nonsense. It's definitely less awkward than just randomly approaching someone, introducing yourself and asking questions about someone. Offering to buy a drink gives the person the chance to say "No Thanks" and that tells me right away to move along, that this person isn't interested in socializing with me. It's probably the least offensive and most cliche/unmemorable approach to try and meet someone.

    Every woman I have ever known has not found this offensive. If the don't want to interact with he guy they say "no thanks". (Or sometimes take the free drink and walk away or find a reason to excuse themselves). In fact many of my female friends, when they were in their 20's, when going to the bar scene would brag about how little they actually had to spend on drinks because guys are always offering to buy them. None of them were creeped out by it. And if they found that person attractive they would socialize with them, if not, they would politley duck out with said drink.

    I'm sorry, if offering to buy someone a drink makes one a creep in your opinion, then your opinion is worth what we paid for it.

  375. sorrykb says:

    Jeremy wrote:

    The problem here is presuming our daughters need protection from words, while telling them that they're strong and independent. That is a complete contradiction.

    Criminy. NO.
    Here's what we're saying: "Don't be a creepy jerk. And hey, it sure is better when people aren't creepy jerks. But on those occasions when people are creepy jerks, it's good for the target of the creepy jerkness to have some support, both to back them up and to teach the creepy jerk how to be better."
    Because EVERYONE, male or female, no matter how strong and independent, could use a little help now and then.
    And as to your other comment:

    If women are having a problem with physical assault, well then frankly they should go buy a pistol, or surrender their "you go, girl" card.

    Christ, what an asshole.

  376. Tarrou says:

    @ Christina

    "I think a very clear and understandable standard of acceptable behavior, one that can cover 100% of situations, even if 2% of people don't care much about such etiquette, would be the one where you don't make a sexual-social overture without having gained directly from the individual their name and at least ten pieces of information about them"

    Except this does not protect against the charge of creepiness in the least. Picture a large unattractive male picking his belly button and wheezing between trying to get ten pieces of information from a girl. If you like, that could be a standard for harassment, but it's not currently the standard (which is highly subjective). If you want to campaign to get that done, be my guest.

    Creepiness is not about what is said or done. It is completely context, timing, and interpersonal dynamics. As I said earlier, we know it when we see it (at least some of us do).

    I thought about it, what about invading personal space unasked? Trams and the subway. Unwanted touching? There's exceptions, but it's not bad. But all of it cannot eliminate or even scratch "creepy". You can be creepy from another room. You can be creepy by sound alone. And it remains totally subjective.

    Which is why I propose we don't worry so much about "creepy". Focus on physical contact and verbal harassment, properly defined would bring better dividends in my opinion. People will be creepy, and there's not much way to get rid of it without ostracizing or jailing a lot of people who did nothing wrong.

    Unless of course the goal is not to harmonize relations between the sexes, but to stoke the genderwarz and flame the intarbutts, in which case, reporting for duty.

  377. TM says:

    you don't just walk up to a complete stranger and ask them a personal question (or make a personal statement like that). You could say something about the convention or conference or event that you're both attending – you know, something neutral, based on a possible mutual interest. I can't believe you need this explained to you.

    Not to mention: ever heard of a date-rape drug? Look it up in Wikipedia.

    I'm sorry, what's so personal about "would you like to get a coffee?" Seriously this is why geeks with difficulties with non verbal queues have such a hard time with this, because to most geeks the question "Would you like a drink" is a literal question, and holds minimal alterior motives (other than they find you interesting in some way and are looking to start a social interaction). But you seem to ascribe much more than is intended to the statement. Seriously, how is coffee not the very definition of a neutral possibly mutual interest?

    Also yes, I have heard of date rape drugs. Question: Do you suppose it is unhealthy to have a social model of the world that assumes every person you interact with is a potential rapist until proven otherwise?

    Question 2: Which do you suppose is more irrational? My belief that an offer of a drink is a neutral and natural way of starting a social engagement in a setting of strangers or your belief that a person doing so is propositioning you for sex, considers you nothing more than an object, and may be trying to drug you.

    If you wonder why people get angry in these discussions its because you lump normal casual social interactions in with real and horrible crimes.

  378. DRS says:

    TM: "… it's not the socially inept's responsibility to alter their (legal, let's be clear, violations of the laws are another matter) behavior to suit your cultural norms."

    It is if they want to get to know me.

  379. DRS says:

    TM: You do not accept a beverage from a total stranger BECAUSE THEY MIGHT HAVE PUT SOMETHING IN IT. Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, are you really this thick??????

  380. So, for those of you wondering what creeper behaviour is: go back up through these comments and you will find wonderful examples.

    If someone looks at you and says "Hey! You stepped on my foot!" and you want to say "That wasn't your foot, I stepped on part of your shoe."
    – You might be a creeper.

    It's really not that hard to identify true "creeper" behaviour.

    and WHILE I have a lot of sympathy for the socially maladroit, being of that crowd in my own way. I expect them to learn at LEAST the basics, and this…bullshit has been going on for 20+ years.

    Science Fiction Fandom was not started as a sanitarium for the emotionally shell shocked. Young pre-teen girls who love science fiction and want to cosplay should not have to "put up" with a 40 year old making "saucy" (read: inappropriately sexual) comments to her because he's "maladjusted".

    You respect other people's personal boundaries or you are gone. These rules are easier than the most basic RPG or card game. Ken has posted links to several guides. The Con I attend posts a quick basic set of rules like this.

    If you can't follow these basic rules, then you need to be gone. Your social ineptness does not give you the right to improper behaviour that affects others. I suspect that for 99% of the geeks, nerds, dorks, bookworms, Chtuhlu bless us everyone of us, this not going to be a problem.

    In KINDNESS, people in fandom try to correct what they see as "correctible" behaviour, but again, if you cannot or will not correct, then you have no business forcing your issues on others. Which, by coincidence, is exactly the behaviour we're talking about.

    Go Start InepCon and grope each other.

  381. TM says:

    It is if they want to get to know me.

    And how do they get to know your social norms (and subsequently you) if you don't tell them? Or are you presuming that other people will educate them for you, in which case, why is it those people's responsibility to educate, but not yours?

  382. ChicagoTom says:

    Don't be a creepy jerk. And hey, it sure is better when people aren't creepy jerks.

    And how do we define what is "creepy jerk" behavior??? It sounds like the standard for some people is "I know it when I see and I will let you know after the fact".

    I personally find that a very unreasonable standard. And that seems to be crux of the problem. The 'grey area' is quite a big area. It's easy when talk about the extremes and the obvious (like unwanted physical contact), but when someone is seriously saying that asking "Can I buy you a drink?" as an ice-breaker/intro in a social setting is "creepy jerk" behavior, there is going to be a lot of emotional responses by both sides of the issue.

  383. TM says:

    You do not accept a beverage from a total stranger BECAUSE THEY MIGHT HAVE PUT SOMETHING IN IT. Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, are you really this thick??????

    Sorry, when did we go from buying someone a drink to handing them a drink already made? And again with the assumption that every person you encounter is a rapist in waiting. Also, I'm not thick and I will thank you to not cast aspirations on someone you don't know. Just because you and I do not agree on something doesn't make either one of us stupid and frankly the fact that you behave that way is offensive.

  384. DRS says:

    TM: okay that answers that. You really are that thick.

  385. ChicagoTom says:

    TM: You do not accept a beverage from a total stranger BECAUSE THEY MIGHT HAVE PUT SOMETHING IN IT. Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, are you really this thick??????

    Except that people accept drinks all the time at bars and coffehouses and the overwhelming majority dont get raped or drugged. And offering to buy someone a drink is not the same as offering some homemade wine out of the flask in my pocket. You can tell the waitress or bartender or barista what you want, they will bring it to you and I will pay for it.

  386. Manatee says:

    and it's easy to see that most people don't have time for that kind of (actual) harassment by you, and react angrily.

    For people who don't have the spare time to be harassed by Ken criticizing their behavior (which apparently involves groping strangers), they sure take a lot of time out of their busy schedules to
    1) come read Ken's blog posts criticizing their gropaciousness
    2) comment angrily
    3) come back to read Ken's blog posts wondering why his post about Comic-con gropers got so many more angry responses than posts about racism
    4) comment angrily again that Ken needs to stop harassing them and
    5) schedule a partial lobotomy in order to reconcile the logic of defining Ken's blogging as "harassment" and unwanted groping as "not harassment."

    My first attempt at blockquoting here, apologies if it goes horribly awry.

  387. different Jess says:

    I can't believe I read the whole thing. Ken, next time buy yourself an ice cream cone. It might make you happier than this easy-but-really-kind-of-dirty bump to your traffic stats.

    I don't think we're going to debate our way to a reasoned resolution. The problem, such as it is, doesn't originate between the ears. This thread has convinced me of nothing except that civic groups should start encouraging prostitution. (Hat tip: Andrew Roth) These boys need to get laid, and society needs that to happen in a consensual manner.

  388. sorrykb says:

    @different Jess: I say Ken should buy us all ice cream cones. We've been arguing here in his living room for two days — The least he could do is feed us. :-)
    I'll have a mint chocolate chip. Single scoop is fine.

  389. Zack says:

    400 comments? I hadn't realized this was so contentious a topic. People can be idiots and judge (discriminate against) people on the basis of race, gender, and orientation, nationality, etc. And, ironically, this is one of very few proclivities that crosses all boundaries- white people do it, African and African American people do it, Asians do it, Hispanic people do it; Americans, French, Chinese, Russians, Egyptians, South Africans, Israelis, all do it. Men and women, gay people and straight people, all do it.

    We can argue about what cases cross what boundaries, and if a particular case is discrimination or not, but at least it should be accepted that discrimination is a perfectly natural human trait- one that we have to overcome.

  390. John Beaty says:

    James Pollack, she and I make judgements based on the information in front of us, just like every other human being on the planet. But congratulations on spelling my name right: it makes my point so clear about paying an inordinate amount of attention to irrelevant details (unless you are claiming that there is a James-Pollock-with-a-similar-spelling in this conversation. Which you're not, you're just changing the subject again, because it makes you uncomfortable to address the actual issues.)

  391. Manatee says:

    You see another man walk up to a woman, and say "Purple Elephants". She laughs, flirts, they talk, then leave together. Then you see another man approach a different woman, same thing "Purple Elephants", and off they go. Then you spot a third woman, and she does not have someone monopolizing her. You screw up your courage, walk over, and what do you say?

    I love this analogy, but it leaves some parts out:

    You deliberately ignore the forty or fifty other guys you've seen, both today and on numerous other occasions, go up to women and say "Purple Elephants," only to be greeted with shock, horror, scorn, disgust, disbelief, slaps, and on one occasion, the use of a panic button to call her secret service detail. You walk up and with a huge grin on your face, say "Purple Elephants," only to be greeted by a blank stare. As the woman turns around to leave, you mutter "What a frigid bitch," and wonder why she turns around to stare daggers at you.

    Chuck Norris, walking by arm in arm with another young woman, tips his hat to you and says, "Some people got it, some people don't."

  392. different Jess says:

    John Beatty, since you continue to misspell his name after being specifically warned of it, you are an asshole. Probably less of an asshole than someone who blames victims of rape, but you're on the spectrum.

  393. Mann42 says:

    I'm just because I noticed there was a lawn trampling party, and I ended up reading the whole thread.

    If I ever need another reminder that human beings are glorified chimpanzees, I'll be sure to return to the comment section on this thread. Watching people resort to victim blaming and defensive marginalization who, in other threads, are usually thoughtful, is simultaneously disappointing and amazing.

    Ken, the freaks are even more mainstream than you thought. Thank you for creating the perfect illustration to your point in the comment section, whether you intended to or not. If you did, then bravo.

  394. Christina says:

    @TM
    'Again, what non creepy method do you suggest for obtaining these bits of information before initiating social contact at a con? Do you seriously think that all offers of a drink are sexual in nature? Also, don't you think it's a bit unfair to assume the mental state of a person you also know nothing about?"

    See my previous entry outlining a perfectly rational and easily followed pickup guide for the socially inept. Of course, it's not BEFORE initiating a social contact. It's how you initiate a social contact, at a con or anywhere. "Hello, my name is XYZ. [Offer hand for a handshake, possibly.] Isn't this a terrific conference, I'm having such a great time. What's your name? [even if person is wearing a badge.]"

    I think just about all unsolicited offers of a drink from an anonymous stranger who doesn't know your name that aren't done from a table of 500 cups of the same beverage (like at a footrace?) are meant as an overture to social intercourse. It doesn't *have* to be a sexual pickup, but if the person couldn't be bothered to initiate the socialization with introductions, chances are quite high that it is.

    And no, I don't think it's unfair. I think that's what social cues are all about.

    I see there are a lot of follow ups on the "hey babe, can I buy you a drink". Is it common? Sure it is. So are wolf whistles on the street. Y'all want to know why it might be seen as creepy, and I explained. Sorry you didn't like the answer.

  395. Christina says:

    @ChicagoTom
    ""Can I buy you a drink" is one of the oldest and most common ice breakers in the history of courting — an easy and comfortable way to basically say "Id like to get to know you more""

    Key word being MORE. In other words, I already know you a little bit. Y'all are ignoring the quite conscious inclusion of the word "babe" and my repeated statement of this being the *first* thing a person says to initiate social intercourse. There will certainly be circumstances where doing so will be completely inoffensive, and in fact expected.

  396. Christina says:

    @Tarrou
    "Except this does not protect against the charge of creepiness in the least. Picture a large unattractive male picking his belly button and wheezing between trying to get ten pieces of information from a girl. If you like, that could be a standard for harassment, but it's not currently the standard (which is highly subjective). If you want to campaign to get that done, be my guest. "

    I never said that you should persist obstinately until you've gotten the ten pieces of information. The other person can always leave the dialogue, in which case you fell short. If you can manage to sustain a social dialogue with a person until you've learned ten significant things about them and they about you, you've probably amassed enough verbal and sub-verbal cues to be able to make smarter decisions in the mating dance.

    Ten things in each direction was an arbitrary threshold – the really socially inept (like myself and my partner when we were meeting) should really aim for a much higher duration of dialogue and collection of information, because the socially inept need a much larger dataset in order to make good decisions about socialization.

  397. James Pollock says:

    "I don't think we're going to debate our way to a reasoned resolution."
    No, that would require people who want a reasoned resolution, and are looking for one. That is not what is at work here.

    It is clear that the present circumstance is not suitable for a wide range of people; for a wide range of reasons. The path to a reasoned resolution would start by asking all participants "What change do you want and what will you concede in order to achieve it" … that's the opening question of any negotiation. When laid out like this, how many people are in the position "I want this and this and this, and I'm not willing to concede anything to get it"…

  398. James Pollock says:

    "it makes you uncomfortable to address the actual issues"
    Yes, Mr. Beaty, THAT'S why I posted so many messages… I wanted to be uncomfortable.
    Hey, while we're talking about irrelevant details, how do you spell "judgment"?

  399. James Pollock says:

    ""Hello, my name is XYZ. [Offer hand for a handshake, possibly.] Isn't this a terrific conference, I'm having such a great time. What's your name? [even if person is wearing a badge.]""

    Working off a script? Creepy.

    "I think just about all unsolicited offers of a drink from an anonymous stranger who doesn't know your name that aren't done from a table of 500 cups of the same beverage (like at a footrace?) are meant as an overture to social intercourse"
    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Too sexual?

  400. ChicagoTom says:

    Key word being MORE. In other words, I already know you a little bit. Y'all are ignoring the quite conscious inclusion of the word "babe" and my repeated statement of this being the *first* thing a person says to initiate social intercourse. There will certainly be circumstances where doing so will be completely inoffensive, and in fact expected.

    The 'More' shouldn't have been there. My apologies. Offering to buy someone a drink as the first thing I say to them in a social situation indicates my desire to get to know them and to pay for a beverage (so that at least if my company sucks, they get a free drink out of the deal so it isn't a total waste of their time) is not inherently or objective creepy, off putting, inappropriate etc.

    Sorry though, the rest of your comment still doesn't really make anything clearer. Obviously the "Hey babe" bit is off-putting and I believe can be inappropriate, but that has nothing to do with offering to buy a drink. If I were to say "Hey Babe, my name is Tom" and I offered my hand to shake would that still be creepy?? Probably…most women don't like being called "babe" by a stranger. (although again…not everyone finds "babe" or "honey" or "sweetie" or other terms of endearment off putting — it usually doesnt bother them when the person saying it someone who they are attracted to)

    The problem with your whole line of thought is that…no one but you knows when you consider it appropriate and in what context it is and isn't approrpriate. That may be your standard, but that isn't by any stretch of the imagination an objective or logical standard.

    So I will say it again….offering to buy you drink as my first interaction with you, rather then say "Hi My name is Tom" and try and shake your hand…in any social setting..is not inherently/objectively/prima facie "creepy". And if you think it is, maybe the problem lies with you and your beliefs, not me. People have been approached

  401. DRS says:

    You seriously walk up to women and call them "Babe"? With an outdated pick-up line? Jeez.

  402. Andrew Roth says:

    @different Jess:

    Thanks for the support, and well said.

    This is a situation in which the perfect is the enemy of the good. Honestly, the Aspie I described above is worse than I indicated. Do a WordPress search for "Temple Clinger," and you'll see what I mean. As much as the women around him might like him to be continent and demure until he enters into a serious relationship or marriage (with some other unlucky woman, of course), that ain't happening. It certainly isn't happening until he starts getting laid and learning how to relate to women. Unless he can tone down the creepiness, he won't have a prayer of having a dating life with amateur girls. Only if he starts seeing hookers will he become sexually satiated enough to stop fantasizing about every cute chick in sight as a sexual prospect and letting that attitude ruin his relationships with women. It's the single best thing he can do if he wants to find a girlfriend.

    The opposition to guys like the Temple Clinger hiring prostitutes gets even weirder than that. A lot of it comes from people who don't see anything particularly objectionable about having unprotected sex with casual acquaintances, or even strangers, in a state of blackout intoxication. At least they feel that way about people who meet their standards for handsomeness and sociability; maybe not so much about dweebs and insecure BBWs. The reasoning, although rarely articulated, is that with enough liquor one can obliterate mens rea and be absolved of responsibility, whereas whores, being sober, deliberate, and more or less judicious in their approach to sex, are louche and crass. This is exacerbated by the vicarious ickiness that whores cause some people (probably more so women than men) by having sex with teh creepiez. The reasoning here is quite stupid, but quite popular.

    In truth, some of the most decorous, even circumspect, sex writing I've read has been by sex workers. By contrast, chronically bottled-up guys who are as celibate as rural Greek monks disseminate some of the filthiest, and most misanthropic, smut imaginable. Natural family planning zealots are also really smutty, even though they make a big deal about being holy in their sex talk because it's all about chastity and the "marriage act." I'm Catholic, and I used to get guilt-tripped by the NFP nutters, especially when I was overly involved with the Newman Club. These days, I just discreetly smirk and wait for the adults to reclaim the pulpit. If prostitution was good enough for St. Augustine, it's definitely good enough for me.

  403. Christina says:

    @James Pollock
    "Working off a script? Creepy."

    That was funny – seriously :-) But what are habits and social mores but a script? The whole point of being socially inept or boorish or creepy is that you simply don't understand the script as either the individual you approached or an even larger segment of society understand it.

    As for the cigar, I didn't say sexual – I said social. Someone above said the drink question is code for "I want to get to know you better" or "I want to spend more time with you". But the assumption with both of those statements, since they involve the comparative, is that the denominator is non-zero: I already know you a little bit, I've already spent a little bit of time with you.

    BTW, I totally concede that there are scenarios and people where any and all verbally harassing sentences would be completely non-offensive. (I sassily compliment my partner's body all the time and he's never gotten mad at me for it.) My overall point has been, if you don't know the person you're getting ready to lob one at, and the environment doesn't offer clarity, it would be better to lean to the side of respect than to barge in with a overture that could be a Purple Elephant.

  404. TM says:

    "Hello, my name is XYZ. [Offer hand for a handshake, possibly.] Isn't this a terrific conference, I'm having such a great time. What's your name? [even if person is wearing a badge.]"

    Sure that could work too. Except, outside of proscribed circumstances, it's creepy to offer physical contact (a hand shake) before you know someone. And I generally find generic small talk ("Isn't this a terrific conference") to be painfully awkward. Of course, that's sort of my point here, that this stuff is hard, and it's made harder by the fact that one person's innocuous question (especially in the case of a socially awkward geek speaking literally) is another persons sexual proposition (or if you're DRS, attempted rape).

    Y'all are ignoring the quite conscious inclusion of the word "babe" and my repeated statement of this being the *first* thing a person says to initiate social intercourse.

    I am consciously ignoring it because it's a way of phrasing the question that implies specific things about the asker, intentionally to make them appear rude and creepy. What if instead of opening with "Hey babe" they opened with "Excuse me Miss", or even simply (and more likely for a socially inept geek) "Um… hi"

    It seems pretty clear that your true objection is not the offer of a drink, but being called "babe" at the start of the interaction. That's a specific action distinct from the offer of the drink, and we agree that it's in appropriate. That doesn't make all or even most offers of a drink a sexual advance.

  405. lelnet says:

    "In other words, I already know you a little bit."

    Right. So folks at a con are only allowed to interact with other people they already know, on pain of forcible ejection from the event and probable contact with the police, in Christina-world.

    I mean, I've seen this sort of transition happening, which is the main reason I don't go to cons much anymore (I can spend time with my existing friends _without_ having to buy plane tickets and a hotel room and a con membership)…but it never occurred to me that there was anybody out there who actually thought it was a desirable trend. Good to know.

    I'm pretty sure there aren't any cons out there where merely approaching to talk to someone you don't already know is an ejection offense, but give it time, and I'm sure some will emerge.

    Maybe we should just hand out badge ribbons…"yes, I'm interested in making new friends" or "no, stay away or I'll file a complaint". Used to be, the membership badge was a reliable-enough indicator of the former condition, and the exceptions were willing to settle for a polite (or not) brush-off. Those were good times. Now, it sounds like it's basically just the bar scene, but with stranger costumes.

    (Never offered to buy a woman a drink myself, of course…consuite beer and coca-cola are free, after all. Or at least, they were when I still went to cons.)

  406. Christina says:

    @ChicagoTom
    "The problem with your whole line of thought is that…no one but you knows when you consider it appropriate and in what context it is and isn't approrpriate. That may be your standard, but that isn't by any stretch of the imagination an objective or logical standard."

    Actually, that exactly makes my point. If you are a total stranger to the person, and they to you, then a neutral and respectful approach from you is the safest. Does it convey your message and intentions as succinctly or as quickly? Perhaps not. I can appreciate that "Can I buy you a drink?" is not a very large step away from neutral and respectful, and does in fact have a pretty standard connotation in American social intercourse; I still don't understand why anyone meeting a stranger wouldn't introduce themselves first. (Really crappy name?)

  407. Ugh says:

    TM: Let me give you a few slightly (but not much) exaggerated examples of creepiness.

    (a) Man says "Want to have some coffee at my place?" to a woman who is not appreciative to that. Creepy. Results in a denial and physical avoidance.

    (b) Man says "Nice shoes, wanna fuck?" to a woman who is appreciative to that. Not creepy. They go to a room and have a great night.

    There is a clear difference between the examples. Before making an advance, you have to know if it will be accepted. It is not a random die roll, factors such as nonverbal cues and environment show how it will be; and your attractiveness and your tone/microgestures will affect both the success rate and the creepiness of a failed attempt.

    If you make unaccepted advances (even if you thought that the advance would be welcome), then it is creepy, and it's your fault. The expected success chance matters – "Out of your league" or "What the heck was he thinking" failed attempts are significantly more creepy than "sorry, not today" or "I want you but I'm commited to someone else" results. If you couldn't 'read' the situation – your fault, there is no such thing an "Assocation of womenkin" with some kind of duty to educate you beforehand. If you thought you read the situation but were wrong – your fault, learn from it or be perceived as a creep. If you're not sure -well, step back and go home, or wait for extra hints, or choose other potential mates, or try your luck knowing that being wrong will be your fault and may be considered creepy.

  408. TM says:

    I still don't understand why anyone meeting a stranger wouldn't introduce themselves first.

    See Socially Awkward. Come on, you said yourself you were (are?) you've never started a statement / conversation in the middle or tripped up over yourself because of the stress of the situation? Most of these guys had a hard enough time getting the words out of their mouth in order, they can be forgiven for forgetting to start with names.

  409. Christina says:

    @TM
    "I am consciously ignoring it because it's a way of phrasing the question that implies specific things about the asker, intentionally to make them appear rude and creepy. What if instead of opening with "Hey babe" they opened with "Excuse me Miss", or even simply (and more likely for a socially inept geek) "Um… hi"

    It seems pretty clear that your true objection is not the offer of a drink, but being called "babe" at the start of the interaction. That's a specific action distinct from the offer of the drink, and we agree that it's in appropriate. That doesn't make all or even most offers of a drink a sexual advance."

    Actually, I'm not using "babe" to emphasize creepyness, I'm using it to emphasize lack of knowledge of the person's name. But I can appreciate that it could be read that way and I'll stop that.

    @lelnet
    "Right. So folks at a con are only allowed to interact with other people they already know, on pain of forcible ejection from the event and probable contact with the police, in Christina-world."

    Sure. That's exactly what I've been saying. No one's ever allowed to get to know anyone without a third-party introduction accompanied by notarized identity documents certifying degree and duration of relationship. Unless they're RFID'd, that'd be easier of course.

    As opposed to what I've actually been saying, which is nothing more difficult than "introduce yourself first".

  410. lelnet says:

    (OK, sorry, my last comment was definitely mistargeted. Emotions are running high all 'round. I apologize for my part of that.)

    To answer Ken's question in the actual post: we demonstrably are living, right now, in a world where some people are groping nonconsenting strangers in public, and where other people's first reaction to a casual offer to buy a drink and have a conversation is "OMG you're trying to drug and rape me!". Does it _really_ surprise you that emotions run high, in such a world?

  411. lelnet says:

    …and I'm also sorry that I didn't finish writing that apology sooner. Seriously…I mistook you for someone else.

  412. James Pollock says:

    "My overall point has been, if you don't know the person you're getting ready to lob one at, and the environment doesn't offer clarity, it would be better to lean to the side of respect"
    No argument there. Respect (both ways) is essential in any kind of relationship going forward.
    I know it's heretical, but it is something lacking when the womenfolk are discussing the expansive form of "creepy jerks" (NOT the edge of the group that's handling people in objectively inappropriate ways, for which I have no sympathy, but the other edge, the guys whose only offense is ineptitude in execution.) If you want to receive respect, you have to be willing to give it as well.

    Anyway, the problem is that you're trying to offer a program or script that can/should be used in all first-meeting situations. It's just as ineffective when you set out the script as when the PUA dudes do. It will continue being ineffective as long as women insist on being independent, disparate beings.

  413. Christina says:

    @TM

    I'm 43 now, and my socially inept days are behind me, thank the FSM. Mostly that's because I lucked out stumbling onto a geeky partner at a reasonably young age and so a lot of the pressure disappeared. Part of these comments (waaaaaaay back) was about "what's a socially awkward person to do?" Introducing yourself is a good rule of thumb. After all, nerds and geeks have certain characteristics, and liking operational clarity is almost universally one of them. So there's a script – don't think theatrical, think Java.

  414. John Beaty says:

    Actually, James, you've done your level best to avoid the actual issue at hand (why are so many people up in arms to an extreme in one subject area), and worked very hard to make it clear that you are not willing to lokkat any view point but your own, even when people actually take time to answer the questions you say you want answered.
    But, sure, talk about my typing. It's so relevant.

  415. Christenson says:

    Well, Ken has made his point…Prenda, the Sound of One Shoe dropping, a month old, has around 5-600 posts….and this post will be #408, after all of two days!!!

    Everybody has some experience, something to say…..

  416. Sally Strange says:

    Whenever a discussion about sexual harassment devolves into persnickety rules-lawyering about what precisely constitutes harassment and what doesn't, I assume there are is at least one harasser involved in the conversation, looking for lines against which he can push.

  417. Jeremy says:

    I did not unintentionally derail my own previous comment. I knew clearly what the likely response to that one sentence would be. Again, I see that my point is clearly made by others trying to sort things out. Somehow it is my responsibility to protect others from words. It's hilarious, really. I want women to be just as free and adult as anyone, but it is just not even remotely adult behavior to get so upset by a single sentence then twist the meaning entirely to your own distasteful conclusion, and then accuse the male speaking them of being a jerk.

    -My primary point was ignored.
    -My "offensive" sentence was all that was remembered.
    -"Creepy" remains an undefined word of slander used against men when women cannot deal with offensive speech and non-threatening behavior.

    And I should accept being judged as creepy by the likes of this? Why is it any wonder there's so much animosity in these discussions?

    @sorrykb • Jul 2, 2013 @1:44 pm

    The problem here is presuming our daughters need protection from words, while telling them that they're strong and independent. That is a complete contradiction.

    Criminy. NO.
    Here's what we're saying: "Don't be a creepy jerk. And hey, it sure is better when people aren't creepy jerks. But on those occasions when people are creepy jerks, it's good for the target of the creepy jerkness to have some support, both to back them up and to teach the creepy jerk how to be better."

    Didn't you just demonstrate exactly what I said? A "creepy jerk" used words to make someone else feel uncomfortable, and the socially adult, free and independent woman needs support to, what? confirm for them that someone made them feel uncomfortable and tell the "creepy jerk" to stop making her feel uncomfortable? This is a worthwhile use of time?

    You have a right to free speech.
    You have no right to not be offended.

    If women are having a problem with physical assault, well then frankly they should go buy a pistol, or surrender their "you go, girl" card.

    Christ, what an asshole.

    By suggesting that females arm themselves to protect themselves from assault, I am an asshole? I don't even know where to begin. Would it be different if I said to a boy who was getting picked on, go lift weights, and go learn how to fight?

    Your safety is always at least partly your responsibility. Even the USSC agrees with this as they've clearly stated that police have no legal obligation/liability to protect anyone. I should stop here as this is clearly OT.

  418. Christina says:

    @James Pollock
    "Anyway, the problem is that you're trying to offer a program or script that can/should be used in all first-meeting situations. It's just as ineffective when you set out the script as when the PUA dudes do. It will continue being ineffective as long as women insist on being independent, disparate beings."

    Not necessarily all – what if you're in the anonymous sex room at the con? – just most. And I do think calling it a script is really a stretch – one line (name exchange) followed by direction to improvise an appropriate dialogue?

    I've raised three kids – and by definition, kids are socially inept until they learn the appropriate social skills. This is how you go about it: modeling good behavior, talking about good and bad behavior, enforcing consequences on bad behavior. Is it more challenging for a socially awkward adult to learn those skills? Sure, because habits and traits are more deeply ingrained, but I think the general technique would be the same. Roll over, crawl, walk, run, bike, drive…

  419. TM says:

    Actually, I'm not using "babe" to emphasize creepyness, I'm using it to emphasize lack of knowledge of the person's name. But I can appreciate that it could be read that way and I'll stop that.

    Hmm now that's interesting considering I didn't see that interpretation at all, and please take the following for what it is, an honest attempt at understanding and not a "gotcha" attack.

    So in the social context you wre raised in, is the most offensive part of your proposed interaction the fact that a drink (presumably a deeper social interaction) was offered before names were exchanged? Because in the context I was brought up in, the use of "babe" as a reference to someone you're not romantically involved in to be the more offensive part.

    It's amazing and scary how much one word can change the entire social dynamic. As another example, my wife was born and raised southern. In her society, especially in customer service, everyone is "honey" or "sweetie" or "darling" or "sugar". We moved one state north in that habit was painfully broken because frequently when she would use it, she would be quite literally screamed at for having the audacity to refer to someone as "sweetie".

    I say it again, social dynamics are hard.

  420. James Pollock says:

    "James, you've done your level best to avoid the actual issue at hand"
    By offering multiple answers to it? Why don't you just admit you haven't read what I've written and be done with it? I mean, it took you only three tries to not misspell my name which appears atop EVERY ONE of my comments.

    "worked very hard to make it clear that you are not willing to lokkat any view point but your own"
    Really, see above. I'm demonstrably engaging other people's ideas in my comments.

    " even when people actually take time to answer the questions you say you want answered."
    Pop quiz. What question or questions did I say I want answered? (I know, you'd have to actually READ what I write to deal with this, so I eagerly await your evasion.)

  421. Manatee says:

    "In one, the onus is on the victim of the behavior to stop said behavior all by herself. In the other, the onus is on the people in the culture at large to make it clear that this shit will not fly."
    How is "culture at large" to know which "shit will not fly" if the "victim" does not speak up? (Here "victim" appears in quotes because having someone attempt to start a conversation with you does not make you a victim).
    Are men supposed to somehow magically know what women are thinking? Because, if we were capable of that, we wouldn't HAVE this problem.

    The fact that you use "victim" in quotes makes it clear that is you've already made up your mind that certain behavior isn't harassment. My question is, how do you know this? Are you some sort of Casanova who has had > 50% luck with "Nice shoes, wanna fuck?" Are you a serial flasher who more often than not gets a response of "Not interested, but I'm flattered all the same"? Or is your opinion based on other information, such as female friends, male friends, or perhaps even your own ability to at least try to put yourself in a woman's shoes and say, "If I were a woman, I think this behavior would seriously offend me… but this other behavior wouldn't bother me at all"?

    I know that walking up to a woman I don't know and groping her is harassment. I think even you would agree with me on that point. I've known this as long as I can remember, long before my first sexual harassment seminar. Maybe it was the John Wayne movies, or maybe because I had a dad who was married to my mom and was around to teach me not to be an asshole. What I can say with a fair amount of certainty is that I learned this from sources of information other than "women I have groped providing me with constructive feedback." Because I don't grope strangers, and I try to avoid people who do.

    Just who are you arguing for exactly? You seem to be arguing on behalf of the down-trodden, well-intentioned geek, haplessly offending women because he doesn't know any better. At this point, I could see where you were coming from, and even emphasize with the poor guy. The thing is, that geek learns pretty quickly because he invariably runs into one of the many women willing to give him "constructive negative feedback."

    The guys (and some women, too) who comprise the vast majority of harassers, and of the problem, don't have a problem with "not knowing 'which shit will not fly.'" They have all the information they need. They are the ones who get the negative feedback, maybe not 100% of the time, but often enough that they find the need to complain about the bitches being overly sensitive, the effete homosexuals like Ken who enable them, and the tyrannical feminazi security guard for not using an organic, fair trade pepper spray.

    Many posters have pointed out that they do give negative feedback, at which point the overarching theme of your posts seems to become "good for you, but women culture at large is at fault. Even if some women give negative responses, if not enough of them do, then it's not these guys' faults that they can't get it through their thick heads."

    I disagree, strongly. If you're doing something to people, even if the majority simply ignore you and walk away faster, and at least a few of them tell you things like, "Stop, don't do that" or "Stop following me, creep" or "Section 19(a) of the State Penal Code characterizes what you're doing as sexual battery," then that should be a hint that you should reexamine your behavior. At that point, its your responsibility to reflect on yourself, seek out information, make a choice to change your behavior, or not to, and to accept whatever social and legal consequences come from your choice.

  422. James Pollock says:

    "I've raised three kids – and by definition, kids are socially inept until they learn the appropriate social skills.
    Believe it or not, I know full well how kids are raised, having done the job myself (I was a single parent).

    "This is how you go about it: modeling good behavior, talking about good and bad behavior, enforcing consequences on bad behavior."
    This is AMAZINGLY CLOSE to some of my earliest comments on this topic thread. Two-thirds of it were rejected both vociferously AND repeatedly.

  423. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    There is one question asked in the original post that truly *is* unanswerable.

    "I vividly remember a tournament pen-and-paper game (maybe Paranoia?)"

    You might think this is a silly question. A pointless question. An offhand afterthought.
    But think about it my little infrared… maybe that question answers all of the others. Maybe it's all a plot by those AI lovers to get at us proper meat people. Or maybe it's the Psions and their degenerate mutie jealousy.

    One thing I know for sure – and I'll bet my sixth clone on it – the Computer is behind it all. Watch your backs infrareds.

    Frankenstein Destroyers forever! Death to the Computer!!!

    (just an attempt at some levity…….. or is it ???)

  424. sorrykb says:

    @Jeremy: If all you were suggesting was "buy a pistol", I might think that might not work, but I wouldn't call you an asshole. Actually, given what I know to be the rules about personal attacks for the Popehat living room, I'll rephrase: It's the add-on of "or surrender their 'you go, girl' card" that puts your comment well into asshole territory.

    Personally, I have a fair amount of self-defense training, but again, isn't it preferable to deter assault? And isn't a little visible backup in the form of a friend or a supportive atmosphere a useful deterrent? (But again, I have to emphasize this, If I didn't have any self-defense training, or if, as is the case, I chose not to carry a weapon, that does not mean that I would be to blame if I were assaulted and could not defend myself.)

    For the verbal side of things: I'm not denying anyone their right to free speech, including speech that I find offensive or even reprehensible. Have I (or anyone else here) called for anyone to be arrested for what I deem to be offensive speech? No. There is no right not to be offended.

    By the same token, there is no right to freedom from criticism for speech. If I think someone is behaving badly, I have the full right to criticize it. I'd have that right, even if I were wrong.

    Reread my comment: I said it's good to a have a little backup when speaking up in one's own defense. That's all. Surely you can understand that.

  425. TM says:

    The guys (and some women, too) who comprise the vast majority of harassers, and of the problem, don't have a problem with "not knowing 'which shit will not fly.'"

    I disagree with this assessment. I do agree that the people who comprise the majority of the problem (or at least the majority of the more egregious violations) as being the type that already know it doesn't fly (my Group 3 above), but I think the vast and overwhelming majority of offenders fall into the category of unintentional or uninformed (Group 2 and 1 above). I don't have any particular proof of this statement other than that it holds true for almost every other social group and culture in the world and I have seen no evidence to suggest that the geek culture in any different in this regard.

  426. Sally Strange says:

    The idea that men grope or harass because they are too "awkward" to get social clues is bullshit. Harassers know and exploit social rules to get away with it.

    This article breaks it down better than I can in this limited space: http://www.jaredaxelrod.com/main/2013/07/02/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-con-harassment/#comment-130602

  427. Christina says:

    @TM
    "So in the social context you wre raised in, is the most offensive part of your proposed interaction the fact that a drink (presumably a deeper social interaction) was offered before names were exchanged? Because in the context I was brought up in, the use of "babe" as a reference to someone you're not romantically involved in to be the more offensive part."

    My geeky/nerdy circle I guess developed the term "babe" as a universal pronoun and I continue to use it as such, not universally certainly, but within all family and friend interactions.

    I would say I have a strong aversion to the anonymous drink offer – and seriously, what geeks or nerds hang out in places where that's a reasonable pickup line? – because it offers a social cue that the proposition is based on almost zero knowledge of the targeted individual other than their physical appearance.

    I mentioned this in my original comment here, that I am not totally current on 2013 geek/nerd subcultures, but I'm not aware of it having traveled so far from my own experience that physical non-conformity isn't a part any longer. (i.e., it's really hard to be a geek/nerd if you're traditionally "hot") So a rejection of physical appearance judgments was a part of the credo; we accepted each other whether we were tall-skinny-geeky like Ken, or short-dumpy-nerdy like me. What mattered was how you did on the exam or whether you were a good DM – in other words, brains, creativity, SF/F creds that would be completely unavailable in a social context without conversation.

    It feels like the anonymous drink overture would be definitionally "creepy" to most female geeks/nerds, because it would be so far out of their comfort zone to receive it, as it would be for a male geek/nerd to proffer it in the first place.

  428. sorrykb says:

    @James Pollock: I was going to lay off the "hit your dog with a newspaper if it misbehaves" analogy, because as a number of people have pointed out, men actually aren't dogs. But since you brought up the argument and also quoted someone talking about teaching their children, I'll come back to it, one last time. (well, probably the last time.)
    I don't have a dog at the moment, but my parents do, and I've been working with my parents' dog on a number of behavioral issues, the most serious being aggression towards other dogs. (I could get into the dog's messed-up and abusive early life, before my parents, but suffice it to say, the dog has problems.) A large part of my work with the dog involves carefully taking her to places where she is likely to see other dogs (but where I can be confident that we can move to a safe distance if needed). When she starts to show excessive interest in another dog, I do in fact correct her (not by hitting her, but with a "Leave it!") and distract her (oddly enough, by putting her leash on top of her head, which of course doesn't hurt her but keeps her diverted).

    Here's the thing, though: If my family's dog were to attack or menace another dog or another person, it would not be the responsibility of the other dog or the other person to fix the problem. That would be MY responsibility, as the dog's owner (or owner family in this case).
    Do you see where this is going?

  429. sorrykb says:

    Then again, if the analogy did work (which I don't think it does, but if it did), I would think it's quite evident from this thread that some dogs don't learn no matter how many newspapers they're being hit with.
    (OK, that was perhaps uncalled for, so now I'm going to hit myself with a newspaper.)

  430. Manatee says:

    "I disagree that it's someone's moral duty to speak directly to the transgressor and try to get that person to change his mind."
    That's a straw man, as I don't see anyone suggesting this.

    "I was raped. By a man with more physical power and more authority than I had. I said nothing. I made myself safe by keeping silent until he could not physically retaliate against me.
    To this day, my rapist is free. Thirty years later? I doubt I was his last victim."
    Then yes, you share some culpability to his other victims, because could have been stopped had you SPOKEN UP. You chose to trade THEIR safety for YOUR safety, and that's all you.

    People quoted this a lot, and you later complain that it was taken from "an angry response" to being accused of blaming rape victims or some such, which is certainly understandable, but the thing is, I don't recall you retracting that statement (my sincerest and most unreserved apologies if you did and I missed it). It does contribute to an apparently widely held perception that yes, in fact you are saying that 1) "harassment" happens primarily because not enough "victims" (your quotes, not mine) complain, 2) harassers can't be expected to change if womenkind, as a whole, doesn't change to correct them, and 3) that the onus falls on them to fix things. You seem to be complaining about the straw man argument because you do not believe 3) to be true and you are not trying to argue that 3) is true. That certainly could be true. However, it seems that many people are not trying to make a straw man argument, but instead honestly read your posts as arguing that 3) is true. I don't know if we comprise an acceptable critical mass of constructive negative feedback to be taken seriously.

  431. TM says:

    My geeky/nerdy circle I guess developed the term "babe" as a universal pronoun and I continue to use it as such, not universally certainly, but within all family and friend interactions.

    Very interesting. I've seen a number of friend level pet names in groups, but never "babe". That said, I still wonder, was it not a social taboo for your group to use the pet name outside interactions with existing friends? Or am I ascribing too much meaning to your word choice here and your choice of "Hey babe" could be replaced with "Excuse me Miss" and the scenario would be equally creepy to you?

    Once again, I would like to highlight how completely differently we view two parts of a interaction, finding offense in different aspects. Social dynamics get even harder when you mix different geographical groups.

    I would say I have a strong aversion to the anonymous drink offer – and seriously, what geeks or nerds hang out in places where that's a reasonable pickup line? – because it offers a social cue that the proposition is based on almost zero knowledge of the targeted individual other than their physical appearance.

    3 comments:

    1) Now it's my turn to apologize for not clarifying my assumptions, in my arguments, drink could mean anything from alcohol, to coffee, to sodas to mil shakes and also reasonably (at a con) be substituted with "lunch at [fast food place here]"

    2) Coffee geeks are a thing now, drinks are a geeky topic.

    3) Unless we're using different understandings of the word, part of my argument rests on this request not being a "pick up line" at all. Merely a friendly, neutral social invitation.

  432. James Pollock says:

    "The fact that you use "victim" in quotes makes it clear that is you've already made up your mind that certain behavior isn't harassment."
    Yes. That would be the behavior described IN THE PASSAGE YOU QUOTE… "having someone attempt to start a conversation with you does not make you a victim"
    If you are of the opinion that having someone attempt to start a conversation with you DOES make you a victim, I don't see how any part of social society is possible for you (and I'm sorry for victimizing you, you poor bastard.)

    "I know that walking up to a woman I don't know and groping her is harassment."
    Good for you. Don't do it. Say, did you know that this is true of groping men, as well? (That's a rhetorical question. Just wondering how tied to sexist interpretation you are.)

    "Just who are you arguing for exactly? You seem to be arguing on behalf of the down-trodden, well-intentioned geek, haplessly offending women because he doesn't know any better."
    Well, that's where I started, then I got derailed into defending myself against accusations of supporting rape and various other indefensible actions.

    "The guys (and some women, too) who comprise the vast majority of harassers, and of the problem, don't have a problem with "not knowing 'which shit will not fly.'" They have all the information they need"
    Great! So, to go back 350 or so messages, the next step is to make sure they get negative consequences whenever they cross the line. Maybe not jail time every time, but ejectment, perhaps even physical force, might be in order.
    This is not new argument. AFAIK, nobody has argued anything other than people who know they're doing wrong should be treated as people who are doing wrong. I do object, however, to people who don't know they're doing wrong being lumped in with them, and I STRONGLY object to people who actually AREN'T doing something wrong being lumped in with them.

    "Many posters have pointed out that they do give negative feedback, at which point the overarching theme of your posts seems to become "good for you, but women culture at large is at fault."
    You've mixed to different things here that shouldn't be mixed. The first part, "good for you" indicates that I think this is part of the actions necessary to achieve the change they wish to see. The second part is part of the answer to "I would give feedback, but people would call me bad things or I might even be targeted for more victimization" to which the full response is "it is up to you to make that decision. It is true that sometimes people who complain righteously are targeted unfairly/wrongly. If you choose to remain silent about things that offend you, you can't expect them to change on their own. If more people stood up, the targeting of righteous complainers would be substantially less severe. (That's the "it's the fault of womenkind" part… even though in my formulation it isn't sexist as it is in your summary. (The inspiration for "speak up, and get everyone else you know to speak up about what change you want, rather than just waiting for things to change on their own, because they won't", is the letter from Birmingham Jail. But I really didn't need to draw false complaints of racism on top of the false complaints of sexism.)
    The "but it's hard to speak up!" defense is true, it IS hard. The only way I know of to make things better (i.e., to achieve change) is to endure those unfair/unwarranted attacks, and get large numbers of other people to as well. Sometimes the effort fails, because a million people make the independent decision that it's not worth it in their case.
    I did not create this dynamic, and I don't even contribute to its upkeep. I just said what I see.

    "Even if some women give negative responses, if not enough of them do, then it's not these guys' faults that they can't get it through their thick heads."
    In a word, no.
    If not enough of them do, then the tactic of suppression works, and change does not occur. The people who are guilty of wrongs remain just as guilty of wrongs as they are now.

    "If you're doing something to people…"
    At this point you start accusing me of doing things I don't do now, didn't do before, and don't plan to do in the future.

  433. James Pollock says:

    "I would say I have a strong aversion to the anonymous drink offer – and seriously, what geeks or nerds hang out in places where that's a reasonable pickup line?"
    At every con I've ever been to, the hotel bar has not been lacking for clientele. And… Starbucks. Clear the geeks out of Starbucks, and they'll be as empty as the Blockbuster next door.

  434. James Pollock says:

    "Here's the thing, though: If my family's dog were to attack or menace another dog or another person, it would not be the responsibility of the other dog or the other person to fix the problem."

    Trade shoes for a moment, and don't be the dog's owner, because (duh) people don't have owners to train them. There you are, alone on the sidewalk. An unleashed dog approaches you and jumps on you. At that point, whose job is it to get the dog off of you? It's not you because this is somehow imposed on you by society. It's you because you're the one who wants the dog off you.

    Then, AGAIN… don't you wish someone at some point had taught this dog not to jump on people before it came anywhere near you? It's easier to teach a dog not to jump on you if the training starts from the first jump rather than it is if you let the dog jump on people for a while and then decide to start training him (or her!) not to.

    If you can get leash laws passed for Con-goers, I suppose that ALSO would be a solution. I suspect that there would be many unanticipated side effects, though.

  435. YakHerder says:

    Can't believe that no one has mentioned what happened to gamer and cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian when she dared, dared to question the bullshit portrayal of women in video games. The results were the worst sort of shit-smelling foulness emanating from the Internet today.

    http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/06/anita-sarkeesian-feminist-games/

  436. James Pollock says:

    Oh, and further on the dog metaphor.
    If you are walking down the street, and an unleashed dog menaces you so that you fear for your safety… and as a result you pull out your pistol and shoot the dog dead in the street, that will be an unfortunate event for the dog and sad for the dog's family, but as has been stated upthread, you are free to consider your own safety before worrying about the feelings of the dog's family.

  437. John Beaty says:

    My favorite moment has arrived: when someone, cornered at last, turns to the other person and accuses them of doing exactly what he has been doing all along.
    No, James, I won't play. Your MO is plain to see. Enjoy it!

  438. James Pollock says:

    Hmm. Guess the dog thing isn't done. That's what I get for reading one comment at a time.

    "if the analogy did work (which I don't think it does, but if it did), I would think it's quite evident from this thread that some dogs don't learn no matter how many newspapers they're being hit with."
    True. Sometimes you have banish the dog to backyard, and sometimes even to the pound.

  439. anne mouse says:

    Well, I haven't seen a whole lot of freaks jumping on lawns ("behold your allies" excepted) but the comment count is pretty high for such a recent post. Well played, Ken, but I'm still waiting for a Prenda update. I'm getting a bit lost amid the emergency motions, motions for reconsideration, etc.

    Actually, one post made me a bit angry, and in retrospect it's a bit surprising which one.

    I think a very clear and understandable standard of acceptable behavior… would be the one where you don't make a sexual-social overture without having gained directly from the individual their name and at least ten pieces of information about them (again, directly from them), and having shared with them [likewise].

    I disagree with the specifics (James P did a decent job of mocking them already), but it's not so unreasonable to propose a standard for purposes of debate. (James P did a bit of that for another part of the debate: listing areas of apparent consensus re harrassment/assault. Christina was just trying to define "creepy", if I understood her correctly.) So I wonder why my initial reaction was something along the lines of (and I initially visualized typing it in all caps, but I'll spare you) "you don't get to define what's acceptable!"
    I do of course continue to think that no one person is entitled to declare social norms by fiat, but I wonder why I leapt to the conclusion that that's what Christina was trying to do. I definitely felt some anger. I read the Internet like everybody else, and it's full of people proposing social norms or actual legislation that would take away my right to do practically anything you can think of, but I usually just shrug. For some reason, my right to have sex with people without ever knowing their names is more emotionally precious to me than, say, my right to travel within the US without an _ausweiss_.

    (By the way, this post should not be read as a call for lectures in epidemiology.)

  440. James Pollock says:

    "It does contribute to an apparently widely held perception that yes, in fact you are saying that 1) "harassment" happens primarily because not enough "victims" (your quotes, not mine) complain,"
    No, those are YOUR quotes. Unless having someone attempt to start a conversation = harassment. I'll paraphrase "having someone try to start a conversation with you does not make you a victim." Can you NOT see that this is a different thing?

    "2) harassers can't be expected to change if womenkind, as a whole, doesn't change to correct them"
    This is also pulled from when I was discussing people who who make approaches, not people who harrass (because again, these are not the same thing at all.)

    "3) that the onus falls on them to fix things."
    Trifecta!

    For my ACTUAL opinions on harassment, rather than your apparently third-hand assessment of them, consult my comments when I talk about harassment. Try starting here:
    http://www.popehat.com/2013/07/01/why-does-talking-about-creepers-and-harassment-make-people-so-angry/comment-page-9/#comment-1073706

    I'll defend the opinions I've actually expressed.

  441. James Pollock says:

    "My favorite moment has arrived: when someone, cornered at last, turns to the other person and accuses them of doing exactly what he has been doing all along."

    I'm glad you finally realized what you were doing.

  442. tigtog says:

    Jeremy wrote:

    You have a right to free speech.
    You have no right to not be offended..

    I come from a country where we don't have a bill of rights, so I find framing this as a rights issue philosophically problematic in multiple ways, but I'll use rights-rhetoric to respond in kind in the interests of avoiding further derail:
    My lack of a right to *not be offended* by you does not establish any obligation on me to *endure* being offended by you.

    I have a right to use my free speech to object to speech I find offensive, and to criticise that speech to the utterer and to others.

    I have a right to use my free association to walk away from and refuse future interaction with people whose speech I find offensive.

    I have a right to use my free speech to tell others about people with whom I prefer to avoid and why (and especially why if their gathering makes it impossible for me to avoid those people then how I'll spend my money somewhere else).

    I have a right to use my free speech to document instances of others' free speech which contribute to a hostile/chilly environment which marginalises/excludes me/others like me/others unlike me, and to engage in activism to raise awareness of these hostile/chilly behaviour patterns and suggest that communities are missing out on huge potential for improvement/growth when these hostile/chilly behaviour patterns are tolerated just because it's one subgroup's traditional mode of interaction.

    When I use my free speech this way I am not refusing to be an equal adult by declining to abide by traditional rules of engagement that are presented as not just the way things are for everybody but also apparently the way things always should be for everybody (as Jeremy suggests in several of his comments). When I use my free speech this way I am insisting that the way things are is not always the way that things should be, and that my voice has just as much right to be one of the voices negotiating the accepted rules of engagement as anybody else's, and should I be not listened to then I have just as much right to vote with my dollars by walking away with them still in my pocket (and recommending to others that they might consider doing the same) as anybody else does.

    To conclude my tealdeering by touching on an analogy that has been made before many times in these discussions, there's a reason that bars have bouncers to enforce their guidelines for acceptable behaviour, and it's because they attract more patrons by making their spaces safer for the vulnerable, and that means more profit. That it happens to be an ethics-of-protection choice doesn't mean that it isn't also (and even primarily) a pragmatic choice about getting and keeping bums on seats.

    Cons of course have the right to choose to have fewer bums on their seats by ignoring changing trends in market preferences if they prefer to play it that way, but that's a sure path to stagnation and eventual withering IMO.

  443. Manatee says:
    "And yet you keep telling them that they're wrong, and that they'd be better off if only they'd listen to you and your great ideas."
    No. Although I do seem to keep having to say "THAT'S NOT WHAT I SAID"

    Communication isn't about what you say, it's about what other people hear. And an awful lot of people seem to be hearing you say things you claim you're not saying. You should think about it, and perhaps learn something from it, but I doubt you will.

    I love the parallels to the original topic.

    James,

    I've read Popehat a long time, but have only started to comment recently because 1) I finally have free time but mostly because 2) I like this community, I don't want to make too bad an impression on it (especially since I'm a practicing attorney now), and I know from experience that I come off as an aggressive, condescending asshole on the internet. I don't mean to (most of the time), but I let my tone get away from me and it just happens, and I didn't even realize it until some people I respected pointed it out to me.

    From your anger and frustration, it seems clear to me that you feel sincerely misunderstood, and I acknowledge the possibility that the error might be on the listener end. But it seems unlikely. Many people, including Ken now, seem to read your posts as saying things that you claim you don't mean to say. We might all be wrong. It's not an unreasonable suggestion. But for the sake of your own blood pressure, and more fruitful discussions for the rest of us, you may want to get a friend you trust, buy him a beer, and ask him to read over some of what you post online and to tell you what he thinks you were trying to say.

  444. DRS says:

    lelnet: "…where other people's first reaction to a casual offer to buy a drink and have a conversation is "OMG you're trying to drug and rape me!"."

    Hey, Lelnet, I said no such thing and the fact that you had to invent that shows me that you are just as much a liar as T "Disco Fever" M. When total strangers come up to you with unsolicited offers of alcohol, then it pays to be wary. If you can't grok that, then you're pretty hopeless.

  445. Christina says:

    @TM
    "3) Unless we're using different understandings of the word, part of my argument rests on this request not being a "pick up line" at all. Merely a friendly, neutral social invitation."

    There's my disconnect, I guess. I'm not fathoming another situation outside the pickup attempt wherein someone would anonymously offer to buy a drink for a stranger (in this scenario we're discussing, not generally, and absent other cues like overhearing someone upset because they lost their wallet or something), without having a bit of other social interaction first. Is it really easier for a socially awkward person basically to ask someone out than it is to do other preliminaries? I think a "friendly, neutral social invitation" would not look this way in any kind of bar. Even if a situation remains anonymous for a while (e.g., two strangers waiting for a delayed plane), don't you exchange names before heading to Peets?

    Oh, and about "babe". We consciously and in parody took it from the master class, so at the start it was always somewhat biting and emphasized. But it morphed – I use it conversations with my mom LOL So "Excuse me Miss…" or just "Hi, can I…" resonate the same anonymity.

  446. DRS says:

    You know, I wonder how the socially inept manage to handle any part of their lives, if regular exchanges of conversation are so scary for them.

    Job interviews? "I'm sorry if I seem out of it, you'll have to make allowances for me being socially inept. By the way, are you wearing a bra?"

    Annual reviews with the boss? "Gee, it's a pity I'm so socially inept or I'd be able to interpret the subtle facial expressions you're giving me. I think my deodorant's still working, this shirt is only on its third day."

    Customers or clients? "You know, I'd probably care more about making this sale if I weren't so socially inept. I suppose I could tell you about the improvements we've made to our product/service over the last year but instead I'll just stare at your cleavage because it makes me feel more comfortable to do that."

    Yeah, I don't think so either. Funny how the SI's just save it up for social occasions with women they haven't met yet.

  447. Sally Strange says:

    Trade shoes for a moment, and don't be the dog's owner, because (duh) people don't have owners to train them.

    "Duh," really? Actually you could analogize parents to owners. I've trained dogs and taught pre-school and there is a lot of cross-over, particularly with toddlers. Parents and society train children. It's called "school." Also "culture." As in, "TV, books, and all the media we're constantly consuming, even at the moment we're typing."

    There you are, alone on the sidewalk.

    This is sounding fantastic already! Your imagination is limited but specific.

    An unleashed dog approaches you and jumps on you. At that point, whose job is it to get the dog off of you? It's not you because this is somehow imposed on you by society. It's you because you're the one who wants the dog off you.

    Right… so you apparently believe this thing, it's quite a common trope, that by speaking up about harassment, women are somehow indicating an inability to cope with harassment in general. To correctly analogize here, what is happening is that women walk down sidewalks, strange unleashed dogs attack them, and when, after having fended off a dog attack, the woman announces that she had to fend off a dog attack, and would whosever dog this is please take it home, or I'll call the dog catcher, that this is the same thing as "I am unable to fend off dog attacks."

    For whatever reason, these unleashed dogs attack women more often than men, but women are uniquely regarded as unreliable narrators when it comes to dog attacks. When women band together to go to City Hall or Congress to pass laws obliging people to leash their dogs, they are dismissed for being over-emotional, for revealing that they are too "weak" to fend off dog attacks, when it's precisely the fending that women are getting so tired of.

    When women report dog attacks, they are accused of wanting to ruin the dog owner's life out of spite and regret. She should have known that dogs often roam the blocks between Elm and Washington anyway. She was probably playing with the dog, getting him all excited, playing tug of war. She should have known better. It's not a big deal anyway. But she's probably lying.

    Brilliant. Just a brilliant analogy.

    Then, AGAIN… don't you wish someone at some point had taught this dog not to jump on people before it came anywhere near you?

    That's precisely the demand, yes. It means that if you agree, you participate. You own a dog? You know people who own dogs? Don't look the other way when your friend opens the door to let their dog run free through the streets, say, "Hey buddy, you should leash your dog!"

    It's easier to teach a dog not to jump on you if the training starts from the first jump rather than it is if you let the dog jump on people for a while and then decide to start training him (or her!) not to.

    Agreed, we should stop teaching such strict gender roles to our children. We should make an effort not to restrict our kids' behavior based on our judgments about how well they're performing femininity or masculinity.

    If you can get leash laws passed for Con-goers, I suppose that ALSO would be a solution. I suspect that there would be many unanticipated side effects, though.

    Oooooooohhhhh… side effects. *scary music*

  448. ChrisTS says:

    Jeebus, I had hoped this was over.

    As Aelfric, W. Ian Blankton, and other men have noted, not all men are driven by a constant and unrelenting drive for sex with any woman who appears slightly attractive to them.

    But the fact of the matter is that most women, most of the time, do not like to be regarded as possible sex partners in every situation. This is why the "X guys hit on me while I was reading" is such a common response to these kinds of discussion.

    Sure, each individual man does not know that the woman reading a book/looking at her laptop/drinking with friends is just being a human engaged in activities other than picking up/getting picked up.

    But, perhaps the problem is men who see every woman (or those they find attractive) in every situation as a possible screw, rather than the women who just want to be left f-ing alone.

  449. James Pollock says:

    " you may want to get a friend you trust, buy him a beer"
    Why would I hit on my friend?

  450. Christina says:

    @Anne Mouse

    I wasn't really submitting something to be rigorously enforced but rather something that might guide safe and respectful interactions with total strangers for those who are less adept as social cues. Plus, wasn't there a lot of asking of "how is a geek to know what to do, women are so f-ing unpredictable"? You could be unpredictable by responding to "Hi, I'm –" with "No, no, I prefer it anonymous!" :-)

  451. Canonical says:

    @ James Pollock

    ""I'll have guys asking me out, offering to buy me a soda, trying to touch my hair."
    The third is battery, but the first two sound inoffensive. That is, barring evidence that you do not wish to be asked out or consume a free soda, offering these is not inherently wrong in the same what that handling any part of you without asking permission first would be."

    It's annoying because I'm there to play chess. I'm there because I paid my entry fee like everyone else and would like to not waste it due to being distracted. I'm there to prepare for my match the exact same way every male player is. You might catch two guys who know each other tossing a, "How'd you do?", but beyond that, there isn't a lot of conversation going on–barring the perennial poker game in the corner. Like any other competitor I don't want conversation. I don't want to be interrupted when I'm staring at a pocket board or looking up a game in Botvinnik vs Tal 1960. Why does their desire to flirt trump my desire to be left alone like any of the male players?

  452. ChrisTS says:

    @Sally Strange: Thanks.

    Thanks, as well, to the women posting here who have revealed their traumas. I'm of too old a generation to do this.

    Thanks, also to women and men posting here who are trying to work against the sexist abuse of women in all venues.

    And, thanks, of course, to Ken.

  453. lelnet says:

    "You know, I wonder how the socially inept manage to handle any part of their lives, if regular exchanges of conversation are so scary for them."

    Funny, I wonder the same thing about people whose first assumption in any interaction with the opposite sex is that they're probably about to be raped. Might it be because you have plenty of reason to believe that your boss or your client _isn't_ going to force you over his desk and have his way with you? I mean, he probably _could_, but he hasn't so far, and as long as the two of you aren't completely alone, chances are he'd get caught if he tried, even if he _were_ the sort of person who would. But hey, you never know…there probably won't be alcohol in an office, but he might have laced the water bottles…can't possibly be too careful, with all those men out there turning ordinary interpersonal interactions into opportunities to drug and rape you.

    But I do have to thank you for coming here and posting. You see, some folks have been arguing that people like you are just an imaginary strawman, and don't really exist, and are all in our heads, because we're the only ones who have a problem.

  454. James Pollock says:

    Sally, I'm afraid I've no idea what your point might be, and I suggest that the reason might be that you're not actually addressing my comment.

    I got as far as "the dog owner is the analogy of the parent", and since that's not relevant (nor is the fact that most people are socialized at a young age… the people in question were not, so unless you have blueprints for a functional time machine, it's too late to go back and train them properly in childhood.

    Then you went off on a tangent that doesn't seem applicable.

  455. DRS says:

    Stuff your thanks, Lelnet. This isn't your blog and its not your place to thank me. And since you are still lying about what I said, then I think what's in your head should stay there. If it doesn't leak out.

  456. azteclady says:

    I've only read about two thirds, maybe three fourths of the comments and…

    Ken, you can expect people to be defensive about this topic for a good long while to come. A couple of people up thread have hit the main issues here, to wit:

    People, by and large, don't want to analyse their own behaviour too closely, lest they find themselves guilty of what's being discussed–either by perpetrating humiliating/creepy behaviour or by standing by while it's inflicted on others. After all, who wants to admit to him/herself that he/she is thoughtless in his/her interactions with people he/she is attracted to?

    On the other conversation in the comments–what is creepy? what is harassment? where are the lines for the poor misguided, socially inept?

    The only thing that you can be absolutely positively sure means yes is YES. Everything else can mean no.

    When in doubt, ask before groping, grabbing, carrying out of the room–and be prepared for the answer to be no.

    If you grab first, hoping it works, then be prepared to have your face slapped, your actions reported and your name passed around in warning.

  457. Manatee says:

    "The fact that you use "victim" in quotes makes it clear that is you've already made up your mind that certain behavior isn't harassment."
    Yes. That would be the behavior described IN THE PASSAGE YOU QUOTE… "having someone attempt to start a conversation with you does not make you a victim"
    If you are of the opinion that having someone attempt to start a conversation with you DOES make you a victim, I don't see how any part of social society is possible for you (and I'm sorry for victimizing you, you poor bastard.)

    I never said I disagreed with you. I simply said that for some subset of behavior (in this case, talking to a stranger), you have made up your mind that it's not harassment. The whole point was not to attack your position (as I said not two sentences ago, I don't disagree completely), but as a jumping board to my next questions, which are:

    How did you form your opinion that it wasn't harassment? You see, much of your argument centers on the idea that men, without proper information, can't learn to behave better. It's not a bad argument on its face. However, you also seem to believe that response of the "victims" is the single best source of information. So to restate the question that you so adroitly dodged, why do you feel that starting a conversation is not harassment? Is it solely because you've started conversations with strangers who have mostly responded positively? Or did you draw from a larger body of information, friends, family, media, watching interactions that you aren't directly involved in, etc?

    At the time, I was hoping to have a sincere and productive discussion with you. That hope is quickly fading.

    Also, I'm glad that you pointed out the "your quotes" thing. When I was hastily typing, all I was trying to convey was that you had made a judgment that certain behavior was not harassment. However, you interpreted it, based on tone, context, etc. to also imply that I disagreed with your judgment, which is not at all what I meant. But now I see that a reasonable person could interpret it that way, which is why I clarified my position–without putting the blame on you or anyone else for deliberately misinterpreting me.

    Also, you're right that my interpretation of your views shouldn't be taken at face value, just not for the reasons you think.I read all the comments to your linked posts a while ago. Much like how your interpretation of my "your quotes, not mine" statement was no doubt made in the context of my limited posts here, my interpretation of your recent posts are in the context of your previous ones–at least the ones I've read in the last few months. People like sorrykb, Kat, John Beaty, and of course Ken have known you–or at least your online persona–far longer than I have even been reading Popehat. I readily acknowledge that they have far more context than I do, and I defer to their judgments.

    Also, for the record, I don't think you're a creeper James. Obviously, I can never truly put myself in a woman's shoes, but I imagine even as a woman in a bar somewhere, I wouldn't think you're a creeper, either.

  458. sorrykb says:

    @Sally Strange: OK, now the dog analogy is actually working.
    And thanks for pointing so much clearly that I've been able to the problematic assumption that "by speaking up about harassment, women are somehow indicating an inability to cope with harassment in general."

  459. James Pollock says:

    "Like any other competitor I don't want conversation."
    Ah. So there's no problem. If nobody wants conversation, there isn't any, and you're spared the curse of human interaction.

  460. lelnet says:

    DRS, on the subject of people in a bar offering to buy one another drinks: "You do not accept a beverage from a total stranger BECAUSE THEY MIGHT HAVE PUT SOMETHING IN IT."

    It's not the only time you said so here, just the first. There was also a "have you ever heard of a date rape drug", and numerous expressions of essentially the same notion in different forms of phrasing.

    I'm not putting words in your mouth.

  461. Canonical says:

    Congratulations, James Pollock, on running the (possibly) longest troll on a Popehat comments thread.

    Really? That's quite an astonishing level of density you've attained there. I honestly find that hard to believe, but I'll take your word for it.

  462. James Pollock says:

    "argument centers on the idea that men, without proper information, can't learn to behave better."
    Well, assuming you mean "closer who what the women they interact with want" is "better". And it isn't men, per se, that this applies to, it's anyone. In this case, there's a subset of women generally who express A) the wish that certain behaviors be stopped, and B) that creepiness in general be curtailed.

    "you also seem to believe that response of the "victims" is the single best source of information." In the context that comes from, yes. To recap:
    To the complaint that some men use inappropriate means to begin social interaction, yes there ARE inappropriate ways to begin social interaction that should be stamped out as actively as possible. At the other end of the scale, is the complaint that invitations to begin social interactions (not all of them are pickup attempts, though most of them are seen through that lens) are… not so much inherently wrong, as clumsy, poorly timed, poorly executed, inept. (Now, I'm talking about initial approaches here. If they draw a "no", then it's no and failure to fuck off is wrong.)
    THIS is the area where, yes, women, it IS up to you, collectively, to correct the approaches, IF you (collectively) want them to get better (where here, better means both better executed AND better considered… meaning the dude is more likely to accurately forecast his chances before proceeding).
    This is, of course, assuming that women, collectively, want these approaches to get better. It assumes that the men want to get better. It assumes that there are, in fact, some matches to be made in geek culture (I think the anecdotal evidence supports this assumption).

    As for the big question: I couldn't tell you what influences form my opinions on social interaction. They formed 40 years ago, and I don't remember.

  463. James Pollock says:

    Actually, Canonical, I hesitated to offer this before, as the well-known trope is that women don't want men to actually try to SOLVE their problems, they just want men to listen to them talk about them and make vague agreement noises. However, I think I have a solution to your "I want to be left alone" antisociability.

    A small tabletop sign, perhaps made out of a tented piece of ordinary printer paper, that says "don't hit on me, K?" which you can place in your vicinity as you do whatever it is people do at chess tournaments or wherever else you want no social interaction.
    Simple, cheap, and unambiguous.

  464. James Pollock says:

    "Really? That's quite an astonishing level of density you've attained there."
    If I have achieved greatness, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. Thanks for the lift. Really. Couldn't have done it without you.

  465. James Pollock says:

    "Stuff your thanks, Lelnet. This isn't your blog and its not your place to thank me."
    Well, that's nonsense. If he(?) learned something from you, then he(?) owes you thanks for sharing. This has nothing to do with whose blog it is (or isn't).

    Apparently, the irrational anger isn't as one-sided as Ken thinks it is.

  466. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    "However, I think I have a solution to your "I want to be left alone" antisociability.

    A small tabletop sign, perhaps made out of a tented piece of ordinary printer paper, that says "don't hit on me, K?" which you can place in your vicinity as you do whatever it is people do at chess tournaments or wherever else you want no social interaction.
    Simple, cheap, and unambiguous."

    Quick, simple question. Do you actually believe this is a good solution?
    Do you think the sign would lead to no social interaction?

  467. Dictatortot says:

    I guess it comes down to this: life experience has taught me that, if I'm below a certain level of attractiveness in the approachee's mind, there is literally nothing I can say or do by way of self-introduction that WOULDN'T make me a "creeper." That doesn't mean that there aren't horrible creeps in the world who need to be called out, as Ken has ably done. But it's also hard not to wonder if one wouldn't also count as a creep simply by virtue of being oneself and having the temerity to launch a interaction. This (often well-grounded) fear can make one overlook the situations where it's actually warranted.

    And the hell of it is, the sort of stuff Ken cites deserves to be called out in the strongest possible terms. But if you're simply underconfident, abashed, and socially lost, these accounts of the consequences of social misadventures is a lot like flicking a Zippo inside the Hindenberg–"ohGodit'sjustasbigaminefieldasIfearedohGodohGodohGod" … Cue meltdown of any confidence one had been building up for a rainy day. Best not to try, one suspects. That's not anyone else's fault, but maybe it explains the vehemence of some responses … the sense that insult is being piled onto injury in some way.

  468. James Pollock says:

    "Do you think the sign would lead to no social interaction?"
    Alas, no; there are idiots who test limits mixed into any significant sample of human beings.

    But, treating someone who ignores obvious and unambiguous signs that they're not welcome as if they're idiots who don't understand when they're not welcome doesn't offend ME in the same way as treating people who HAVEN'T YET ignored obvious and unambiguous signs that they're not welcome as if they're idiots who don't understand that they're not welcome.

    I'm afraid I was unable to come up with any other option that would invariably and reliably drive away any social interaction. You have alternate suggestions?

    I suppose it COULD be just part of an orchestrated plan to affect the outcome of chess tournaments by playing mindgames on poor Canonical. But if so, they're two or three moves ahead.

  469. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    "Alas, no; there are idiots who test limits mixed into any significant sample of human beings."

    Okay. So you don't think your suggestion would work perfectly.

    Do you think it would work at all?
    By that, I mean do you think the amount of social interaction would be less with the sign than without the sign?

  470. sorrykb says:

    James Pollock wrote:

    IF you (collectively) want them to get better (where here, better means both better executed AND better considered… meaning the dude is more likely to accurately forecast his chances before proceeding).

    Chances at what, exactly? (And no, I'm not being flippant; I'd actually like to know your answer.)

  471. Nate says:

    I have a few questions, just to clarify: (I think it has been sufficiently established that both men and women can be subject to unwanted behavior so I will not be making this gender specific.) If as a creepee, it is my responsibility to make it known to you, the creeper, that your actions are unwanted (and possibly inform you as to what actions are more wanted so that you change for the better), then isn't it also your responsibility as the creeper who doesn't want to be called a creeper to spend the time learning what is socially acceptable? (Perhaps be talking to family members or acquaintences you feel comfortable with.) Furthermore, isn't reasonable to expect you to learn from your mistakes or to criticize you if you choose to continuously follow bad advice?It seems to me that if the onus is on one it must also be on the other.

  472. James Pollock says:

    Why, yes, Mark, I think it would work much like the "no solicitors" sign on my front door. I mean obviously, the devil is in the details. A couple of colored hearts and a smiley face drawn on it probably defeats the text.

    Since last time, I DID think of another possible solution to the "I don't want any social interactions of any kind" problem, but I don't think anyone will like it… purdah.

    Still open to suggestions.

  473. James Pollock says:

    "Chances at what, exactly? (And no, I'm not being flippant; I'd actually like to know your answer.)"
    Not being found unwelcome from the moment of first approach.

  474. sorrykb says:

    And (unrelated) perhaps this is all just a ploy by the Popehat writers to avoid having to post anything new, figuring a large enough group of us can be focused on a single comment thread for days, maybe even weeks. Yikes, that means (gasp) This is turning into Usenet.

    @James Pollock: OK. Thanks for the clarification.

  475. James Pollock says:

    "isn't it also your responsibility as the creeper who doesn't want to be called a creeper to spend the time learning what is socially acceptable?"
    Yes, it IS incumbent upon you, the creeper, to make the effort to learn. The problem we have now is that although they're making the effort, some of them are choosing poor sources for their information, and getting misinformed (badly). Then, when they try to put their bad technique into action, and it fails, some of them determine (correctly) that the problem is the technique, and some of them determine (incorrectly) that the technique is fine but their execution needs practice.

    "Furthermore, isn't reasonable to expect you to learn from your mistakes"
    Yes, (although we (the rest of us) would expect you to learn FASTER if someone is pointing out the right path for you.)

    "or to criticize you if you choose to continuously follow bad advice?"
    Yes (although again, assisting the misdirected improves the likelihood.)
    Also, this assumes that GOOD advice is actually available. Smacking someone for following bad advice if it's the only advice they have solves nothing.

  476. Nate says:

    @James Pollock: Fair enough. Just wanted to make sure equal responsibility is going around.

    Now as to this: "Chances at what, exactly? (And no, I'm not being flippant; I'd actually like to know your answer.)"
    Not being found unwelcome from the moment of first approach.

    Honestly, my answer is basically your comment about communication. I would love to be pleasant and talk to whoever might approach regardless of my interest. The problem is my niceness is sometimes misconstrued and then I am accused of "leading people on". I thought I was being nice, subject X thought I was flirting. I mention my boyfriend, but as you have mentioned earlier that is not always taken as non-interest. Now if I tell subject X I am not interested, I get told I wasted his time and/or didn't give him a chance and/or am misreading his signs and/or am a bitch. I am often then a bit apprehensive about any approaching male, so better communication is needed on both sides of the aisle.

  477. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    "Why, yes, Mark, I think it would work much like the "no solicitors" sign on my front door. I mean obviously, the devil is in the details. A couple of colored hearts and a smiley face drawn on it probably defeats the text."

    I have a suggestion for you then. Try it.
    Any place where social interaction is possible/likely will do for a venue.
    The experimental methodology is easy enough to work out.

    I think you will learn something.

    As for your request for a suggestion:
    "I'm afraid I was unable to come up with any other option that would invariably and reliably drive away any social interaction. You have alternate suggestions?"

    Nope. I do not know of any ways to make a human "invariably and reliably" do anything.

    (I do have a suggestion for the phrase "invariably and reliably" though. Drop either "invariably" or "reliably". It will help.)

  478. Manatee says:

    Dictatortot,

    I think one of the few virtues of the PUA community is that they espouse the idea that looks matter a lot less than we all think, and if we don't let our lack of physical attractiveness handicap ourselves mentally, they become much less of an actual handicap. When this is done more like a self-help seminar ("Just because you're not Brad Pitt doesn't mean you're not a great person with a lot to offer a potential mate") I think this is a great thing. When this is closer to the sort of thing Ken complains about, ("If she calls you a creep, great! That means it's working, so keep on creeping on, brah!") then it's really not helping anyone.

    There are certainly superficial people who will reject even the most respectful approach from an "unworthy" supplicant as creepy, and learning not to let them bother you while remaining conscious of when your behavior might become legitimately threatening can be a challenge. Avoid committing battery and respect rejections (especially when punctuated by "or I'll call security"), and you're 90% of the way there.

  479. SIV says:

    Fat slob superviser/manager:
    "What's the difference between a ham sandwich and a blowjob?"

    Extremely shocked intern or new female hire 50%+ she considers herself a hardcore feminist (with plenty of wimmens studies on her transcript) 10%+ she's an out and proud committed lesbian hesitatingly replies: "I don't know?"

    Slob *leans into her physical space*:

    "LETS DO LUNCH!!!"

    His standard introduction. He only gets worse to an exponential degree.

    Really nice guy. Smart as hell. Extremely witty. Do anything for ya. An easy true friend to many people he meets. Never draws a whiff of a harassment complaint.

  480. James Pollock says:

    "There are certainly superficial people who will reject even the most respectful approach from an "unworthy" supplicant as creepy, and learning not to let them bother you"
    That doesn't bother me… if they're shallow enough to not be interested because I'm not tall/buff/currently seated in a BMW, then any time I would have spent there would have been wasted, anyway… we're not a match. But what I would worry about is her talking about me as "creepy" with other women who have not made such a determination yet. Once you pick up that label, it's hard to shake, deserved or not.

  481. Nate says:

    I think I'm starting to get it. As a commenter pointed out earlier (sorry that I have forgotten who it was and am probably repeating your post) there are couple of different types of people who get angry at this type of conversation.

    The first are the ones who feel the are misunderstood and not given a fair chance. This may stem from actions on their part (taking bad advice, failing to learn from mistakes, etc.) or from things beyond their control (past of the person they are trying to talk to, effects from other people, some people are assholes, etc.). For this group, we should try to educate them with good advice. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Refrain from using pet names (babe, sweetie, honey, etc.). Don't touch. Grow thick skin, a lot of people are jerks.

    The second group knows what they are doing makes people uncomfortable and don't care. They are angry they are being called out for it. They are so convinced they are right and entitled to whatever they are doing, nothing an change their mind (see truthers, birthers, anti-vaxxers). They will always be angry. The only thing to do is to continue to tell them they are wrong and ignore the vitriol.

    The goal is to be understanding but firm enough to help the first group so they don't turn into the second. Everyone's responsibility is to do as much as they can to treat others as human beings.

  482. James Pollock says:

    "Honestly, my answer is basically your comment about communication."

    I have two possible avenues to respond, here. One is to apply the logic I've been espousing. Here, you are doing the best you can and (I'm assuming) not intending to waste anyone's time/be a bitch/etc. So… anyone unhappy with the way you are now who wants you to change needs to honestly and non-confrontationally tell you what changes they want. "Don't lead me on" falls into the same category of uselessness as "don't be creepy". But they might have other advice that is actually useful. If so, consider if it makes sense to correct. It's possible you actually ARE doing something that YOU consider "just being nice" that is coming off as "COME GET ME, YOU MAN-HUNK!" In a long-enough timespan, you'll learn to give of "nice, but not available" reliably, and guys who want something more than a few moments of sparkling conversation will recognize your lack of availability and won't "waste their time". Everybody wins!

    The other avenue is to say "you wasted my time", "you led me on", and "you're a bitch" are all roughly equivalent to "sour grapes!" So long as you are happy with your interactions, your boyfriend is happy with your interactions*, then remain as you are and flatly ignore dudes who whine about it.
    *If you really are leading people on, this is the person to consult first. Alas, this is not entirely reliable, as the jealous type will give you bad advice. Of course, it is your female friends who can best advise on THAT subject.

  483. Grifter says:

    Holy crap I don't think I can read all the posts on here. I tried. I read hundreds. Then I refreshed, and there were 70 more.

    So therefore I'll throw in my few cents anyway!

    I think most of the "ARRHAGHGHGLBARRHALALAGLGLA" response stems from the fact that the people MAKING the response have more experience being unjustly accused of "creepiness" or what have you than they do of ACTUAL creepiness. And the fact that when the complainer IS in the wrong, it's not always "caught". And that reasoned dissent is OFTEN (depending on the circle) responded to with "you're just a misogynist!11!!!"

    This results in them being TOO defensive, and in this I think they err. But I know I am ACTIVELY trying to avoid erring, and yet I've been acused of being a "rape defender" and perpetuator of "rape culture" before (oh, the ElevatorGate scandal…), despite the fact that I was doing and would do no such thing EVER.

    While I like to think I'm a bastion of reason, of course, at the same time I can empathize, though obviously not agree, with those who defend the bad guys.

    The "dongle" incident got the guy fired. That the tide eventually turned doesn't "fix" the problem that he was fired any more than the fact that rapes are prosecuted solves "rape culture". (And no, I'm not equating the concepts, just the relative situations. Obviously they are VASTLY, HUGELY different).

    There IS a "rape culture". I don't participate in it. There IS a "misandrist culture", and I know neither I, nor the vast majority on here, participate in it. In fact, I would say the latter is far more of a "subculture". It's not even in the same LEAGUE as the "rape culture" concept. But denying it solves no purpose.

    The point is that Bad Guys need to be stopped. And Awkward Guys need to be forgiven their awkwardness. The "social consequences" of awkwardness ARE THE AWKWARD SITUATIONS. The initial response to awkwardness seems, to me, sufficient consequence. It's when Awkwardness gets conflated with Bad that problems arise, and what most otherwise "Good Guys" do is conflate the accusations leveled at Awkwardness with those leveled at Bad Behavior.

    Of course, there's also just plain idiots. Those are plentiful as well. As a Wise Man once said, the two most plentiful elements are Hydrogen and Stupidity.

    But I really think the strangely vehement response Ken notes comes from otherwise Smart People who are Being Dumb in this circumstance. It's a perspective problem, and I won't say it's a "privilege" problem, because there are beneficial connotations there…I'm advocating that they only see the harms they've heard of/experienced, and inappropriately assume that the Bad Guys are suffering a similar fate, which is just as bad (or possibly worse) than the folks who conflate the Bad Guys with the Awkward Guys.

    And, while James Pollock and I have had our significant disagreements, I believe the point he's making is that blame is not a zero-sum game. A Bad Guy can have 100% of their own blame, while someone who had the power to stop the Bad Guy MAY carry the blame for not doing so. I only hope somewhere in the hundreds of subsequent comments, he made clear a realization that sometimes that just can't happen, and that the weighing of "do something" versus "not do something" may be WILDLY weighed in favor of "not doing something" for a host of reaosns. That a man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family does mean that he has, indeed, stolen a loaf of bread. But the alternative was allowing his family to starve. How does one appropriately adjudicate something like "responsibility" for something like that?

  484. Nate says:

    @James Pollock: I think all of the above is correct answer bc it's all about how subject x views my actions and me. I could do the exact same thing with two different people and get the two different responses. Just as "creepiness" is all about how subject y views your actions and you. It's incredibly subjective and that's the issue. (I think that pretty much everyone including you has stated that.) So we have to be as clear as possible. You give me the benefit of the doubt and I do the same for you. I'm just pointing out that guys can be just as complicated and illogical as girls.

  485. Nate says:

    @James Pollock: So it being 2 am and all I just realized I'm basically wrote what you said back to you. Sorry about that.

  486. James Pollock says:

    "That a man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family does mean that he has, indeed, stolen a loaf of bread. But the alternative was allowing his family to starve. How does one appropriately adjudicate something like "responsibility" for something like that?"
    I suspect that the answer depends heavily on whether or not one owns a bakery. Or a family.

  487. Manatee says:

    @James Pollock,

    I think the biggest danger of superficial people is for that small fraction of guys without the social skills/social support/self-awareness to eventually distinguish between "It's just one or two superficial girls who say I'm creepy solely because of my looks" and "There must be something wrong with my 'Wanna sit on my lap and talk about whatever pops up?' line."

    I'm actually much less worried about girls talking, at least in terms of guys who hit on them. Unless she says something like "That guy literally kidnapped and raped me. I mean full out, 'It puts the lotion on the skin or it gets the hose again," a woman isn't going avoid you without giving you a chance on the word of a mere acquaintance or someone she just met at a bar. If it's coming from a friend, she is more likely to give the friend's opinion more weight… but she's also more likely to know that her friend just puts down certain guys to boost her own ego and act accordingly.

    Of course, while I'm sure some girl somewhere has thought I was creepy, I've never had the misfortune of picking up a long-term creepy label, so maybe I'm underestimating how easy it is to pick up that label undeservedly. I was platonically close to many girls in college though (I did dance)

  488. Manatee says:

    (sorry, no idea how I prematurely fired off my post there)

    Anyway, having been subjected to my fair share of candid girl-talk, I can't think of a single guy who seemed to get the label unfairly. A few were actually pretty attractive (to my straight guy eyes.) A few definitely were on the very low end of the attractiveness scale, but they definitely and repeatedly engaged in unwanted behavior that earned the label. One went to performances and took close ups of the girls with a telephoto lens. He actually tried to bond with me by sharing his pictures. Most didn't feature faces. Another was only called a "creeper" by fellow students. University police called him a "groper" when they picked him up.

    Anyway, I guess no real point to my post other than to agree that some women (and some men) can be superficial, stuck-up bitches that put down potential suitor and to say I'm sorry if you've had to deal with more than your fair share of them.

  489. Manatee says:

    @SIV,

    Funny story, but I guess I'm missing your meaning. Are you illustrating that some behavior is acceptable in some circumstances but offensive in others, or that "wimmen's studies" majors are so hard up for jobs that they'll accept any job no matter how uncomfortable the environment?

  490. James Pollock says:

    "Of course, while I'm sure some girl somewhere has thought I was creepy, I've never had the misfortune of picking up a long-term creepy label"
    Oh, it doesn't have to be long-term to be annoying. It can destroy a night out pretty good. And if you don't have very many of THOSE…

    I'll just have to say that my observations differ from yours. But that's "observations", not "experiences".

  491. ChrisTS says:

    One of the joys of insomnia is that one gets to talk to the 19-22 year olds who think it is just afternoon. So, thanks to this endless thread, I have had two conversations with different subsets of my son's friends.

    Tonight/this morning, it was all young men. After the "ugh/really/shit/Jesus" responses, they started to make jokes: 'Dude, totally the girl buying coffee at WAWA was just waiting to be hit on;" "Oh yeah, that girl in the library the night before the Arabic exam really, really wanted me to hit on her." It went on until most of us were weeping with laughter.

    But you know what? All of these young men just assumed that not every female in every situation was a potential sexual partner. So, maybe there is hope.

  492. ChrisTS says:

    P.S. I love the idea that women should have to carry around signs saying they do not want to be pestered/hit on.

    Perhaps sexually obsessed, juvenile men should wear buttons saying that they do not know how to behave like adults.

  493. Lampie says:

    As has been noted, and then mostly ignored, much of the discussion has come down to a wildly unclear definition of "creepy". Calling rape, assault, groping, and putting date rape drugs in a drink are creepy in the same way that murder is being mean. Nobody will argue the point, but you've gone beyond the typically accepted scope of the word in order to make your points stronger.

    Keeping within the normal scope of the word, the definition becomes subjective on many levels. Everything from how many times other people have attempted to interact and how lame their attempts were, to Iron Maiden T shirts and looking to long from across the room.

    Since the only way to never come across as creepy to anybody is to never interact with anybody, we are ALL to some extent, creepy. Also, we all have different, and fluid definitions of what is creepy. We almost never include ourselves in this definition. I think much of the anger stems from there.

    Until a real definition can be agreed upon (not a back door list of things that might be creepy) much of the argument is moot, because it is based on semantic differences. I say this after reading every post. Even that sounds creepy at the moment.

    Of the examples pulled from links; blowjob inquiry, girl over the shoulder, neck kissing, copping a feel, and tattoo inspection? In my opinion they are all an invasion of space and borderline assault, except for the blowjob inquiry. (humor)While the author may have been a creep, and the lady in question may have been offended, there was, by the lady's own account, one girl in the room, and perhaps more, who were waiting to be asked that question, and it should be written off as a case of mistaken identity. (/humor)

  494. Grifter says:

    @ChrisTS:

    This is regards the PS more than the post immediately before it.

    There does seem a difference between "pestering" and "hitting on", unless you're using a definition of "hitting on" I'm unfamiliar with (and perhaps my understanding of the term is flawed, too). While one can continue "hitting on" someone longer than one should, at which point it's "pestering" (or other adjectives that are harsher and just as warranted), even initial contact is often considered part of "hitting on"…and really, isn't it that initial contact (assuming non-awful initial contact such as groping etc.) that should be determining subsequent interaction (or subsequent non-interaction, as the case may be)?

    Further, you do recognize that, socially, men are expected to be the initiator, right? And so therefore if they would like initiation, they will initiate unless they have some reason not to do so, because otherwise they can definitely expect (though certainly not be guaranteed…we're talking "generally socially" here) that it will not occur? It can be trivially argued this is a bad thing, but expecting men to NOT initiate contact when society expects them to do it if it's done at all seems a fool's errand.

    Someday, perhaps gender relations will reach a point where, societally, women are expected to approach men to the same extent that men are expected to approach women. At that point, it would make more sense to (seem, anyway) to be advocating that men not necessarily approach ("hit on") women…since if they aren't approaching YOU, that might say something. In the meantime, you seem to be conflating concepts. Or maybe it's too late and I'm too drunk–tired, I mean tired, to understand what you're getting at.

  495. LadyTL says:

    I think the anger, victim blaming, vitriolence and fingers in ears behavior has to do with the mythology of geek culture. Many people have built of this grand idea that geek culture has always been a us against them, detail-obsessed, ultra-accepting thing with no women in it ever. You see this story built up in books, tv and movies.

    The problem is it really isn't that true at all and very few people want to face that because it's not a pleasant truth.

    Geek culture has always had women in it from the very start. It never was completely accepting of everyone for every sub-group and the majority weren't detail obsessed basement dwellers either.

    The story of geek culture though is more appealing thematically though for many people. It makes them the stoic underdog whose moral center was truer than the despicable bullies. Of course this goes hand in hand with many sides wanting to make up stories then adjusting to reality. Both sides cherry pick for their stories of only man-hating bitches who are oversensitive and only women raping mansplainers. Most of the best examples of real incidents get ignored or turned into complete fabrications to fit one or the other.

    Most of that seems like laziness to me. It's difficult to adjust to that not every person is exactly alike. It's difficult to adjust to the rules have changed. It's difficult to digest that the world does not work in either black and white or absolutes. Absolutes make for the easier argument. It easy to say attacking someone is wrong, it's hard to say what looks are wrong or not.

    So people get mad. After all you are asking them to change what the story is. It's hard to portray yourself as the righteous underdog when you have to face that you were okay with men fondling women because they wanted to not because the women wanted it. It's the same train of thought that leads to "well they were dressed like X so obviously…" Or a priceless train of thought I encountered on a discussion about women and video games.

    There is no women who play video games!
    (provides stats on plenty of women playing video games)
    There is no women playing real games like call of Duty or Halo!
    (provides stats on plenty of women playing said games)
    There is not alot of women playing those games!
    (provides stats about how 40% of online CoD players are women)

    Or even better how someone completely different talking about women in fantasy/science fiction fandom went. It went from no women, to barely any women, to they weren't real fans and ending with well they weren't pretty women!

    Which leads to another point. Because the "rules" allowed men in geek fandom to not act in a manner which society would like, they didn't have to acknowledge women as people. Things like booth babes were common for years. But now people are saying that women at cons are in fact people and have been all along. Again making some people have to change because the story is changing so they aren't the pure of heart underdog.

  496. James Pollock says:

    "Things like booth babes were common for years."
    Booth babes were around long before "geek culture" was a thing, and I suspect they'll be around for longer, too.
    I suspect you might get some "booth babes" who happen to be dudes before you get no booth babes at all. Attractive people draw attention. Advertisers want attention drawn to them. That's not rocket science.

  497. legionseagle says:

    OK if we loop back for a minute? I've been listening and learning a lot, but what I think I need reassurance on is my "no".

    From people who've contributed up the thread I've learned that a "no" to be a "no" has to be given in words not by gestures (so that I can't simply take out and brandish the pistol that I'll be packing in case things move on to Stage 2, When an Unequivocal No Simply Ain't Enough, because waving a pistol in someone's face is non-verbal and therefore not unequivocal enough). It has to be final, so not capable of being construed as "not now" or "not at the moment." And it simply mustn't be implied, since "Have you met my husband, the rugby-playing pathologically jealous six-foot four bloke with organised crime connections who's standing two feet behind your left ear, waving his own pistol and standing over a spade, a sack, a tarpaulin, several industrial grade meat cleavers and a five-gallon drum of cleaning fluid?" can, it is clear, easily be misconstrued as either an invitation to a threesome or some cheery sharing of interesting personal information in an effort to get to know the other person better.

    So, I think I've mastered the basic principles, but the final artefact needs a bit of constructive criticism. So, will this do as a sufficient "no" to unwanted interaction with people at cons, which will leave both parties safer, clearer and happy in the fact that communication has been achieved without possibility of understanding?

    "No. Absolutely not. And by no, I mean never. And by 'never' I mean 'not until the heat death of the universe, and then some.' No, nein, nyet, non; without argument, appeal, certiorari, equivocation, reversal, potential reversal, recission, cancellation, amelioration or any other qualification at all whatsoever. No fucking way, for the avoidance of any possible doubt.

    Oh, and another thing. I realise that hand of yours which I have removed from its relentless crawl up my thigh towards my vagina for the fifth time now is only obeying the maxim Robert the Bruce derived from the spider. I now realise that I am wrong in assuming that because I have changed seats every single time you have done it and we are now sitting in a bar in Cincinnati, this evening having started in Cleveland, you would eventually have realised that your attentions in this manner are unwelcome by me. I now appreciate you might, reasonably, have assumed that I was merely hot or uncomfortable or wishing to stretch my legs. Sorry. I wasn't. I just wanted to get the fuck away from you and every single part of your anatomy, including (without limitation) your hands, fingers, feet, toes, tongue, dick, torso, thighs, pelvis, appendix, pancreas, intestine (lower and upper), lungs, liver, lights, kidneys, tonsils, trachea, ears, nose and spine.

    Yes; I freely admit that by ruling out any touching by you I am opening myself up to being run over by a charging buffalo, out-of-control car or runaway train while you stand by, helpless, unable to pluck me out of its path without violating this arbitrary and unfair prohibition. However, that is a risk which, as an adult, I am prepared to take, and it is somewhat mitigated by the fact that this bar is on the 25th floor of a tall building and the bartender has informed me there have been no incidents of a similar nature within living memory here, so I hope you can quell your understandable anxiety.

    I'm sorry for any misunderstanding my ambiguous signals up to now may have caused. But not, I hasten to repeat, sorry enough to tolerate another minute of your company. So – since I realise that for a woman to rise and go to the elevator may negate any previous statements she may have made on whether she has any intention of spending any time whatsoever in the proximity of any given individual – I propose to sit here and watch the sun go down. If you wish to leave, my husband will escort you to your car, since I understand it is a dangerous neighbourhood in which several recent unsolved homicides have taken place. If you do not wish to leave, that's fine, but if you speak to me, approach me, try lewd interpretative dance in my vicinity or interact with me in any way I shall shoot you. Good evening, Dr No."

  498. Grifter says:

    "There is not alot of women playing those games!
    (provides stats about how 40% of online CoD players are women)"

    I'm not disagreeing, but I am honestly kind of surprised, particularly considering the abuse they have to take (http://www.notinthekitchenanymore.com/)…can you provide those stats? (I did, at least, know that that's roughly the split on gaming overall)

  499. James Pollock says:

    One thing I suddenly thought of that we haven't discussed much this far is the role of alcohol, and its effects on both pursuers and pursued.

  500. Grifter says:

    I think that's because "I was drunk" is not an excuse for anything.

  501. Manatee says:

    I've never found the idea of booth babes to be any different than ring card girls or any other non-geek analogues. I think part of the problem Ken notes stems from the fact that geek culture was once counter-culture. The learning to shower once a day thing in an earlier comment notwithstanding, geek culture isn't defined by lack of social skills. A high correlation wouldn't surprise me–it matches my observations for sure–but what defines it for me are the shared interests and hobbies that the mainstream looked down upon. Geeks were used to being judged and bullied for no good reason–playing D&D or video games instead of sports doesn't make you a lesser person, the people who tried to convince you otherwise were assholes for doing so, and that sort of criticism was pretty much all of the criticism the community faced. Geek culture might not be mainstream yet (though some argue it is), but its gained so much acceptance that this has changed, especially among adults. Some people old enough to drink still try to bully geeks for liking geeky things, but nowadays, many of the "attacks" on the community center on other concerns, some valid, some not, and many come ostensibly from within. I think large segments of the community years ago learned to respond to bullying by closing ranks, and adopting the attitude that if they like who they are, they shouldn't let the opinions of other bother them. This attitude is empowering, and honestly pretty awesome, if you're talking about dressing up like Tom Baker's Doctor, or some girl calling you creepy because "Eww, some geek wants to buy me a drink." It's disappointing and downright self-destructive when we're talking about unwanted groping, or even certain harmful, but non criminal, behaviors.

    I've seen parallels in the MMA-fan community (far less than in the MMA-practitioner community.) Wannabe jock is used to bullying less aggressive guys. Wannabe jock is criticized for some flaw in their community. Wannabe jock reverts to form responds to criticism by bullying the whiny pussies who buy into feminist crap because its the only way they think they'll get laid and they probably don't even lift.

  502. LadyTL says:

    @Grifter Ah I made a slight msitake, 40% was WoW players, 30% was CoD players http://gamercrave.com/whos-playing-call-of-duty-modern-warfare-2-women/762/

    I did actually track down the Nielsen survey that the numbers came from and they seemed to match up to this article. Can't find the link to that again but it was from the 2010 Video game usage survey.

  503. Walter says:

    Wow.

    I think you've proved your thesis, Ken.

  504. Tarrou says:

    @ Walter and Ken

    I don't think he has. He's started one hell of an argument, and while I can't be sure of every post in a very large thread, it has been remarkably civil. There have been the usual ad hominems and so on, but I can't think of a 400+ post thread I've ever seen anywhere conducted so mildly in response to an accusation of rabid, frothing rage. While I don't agree with everything Pollock says, he's kept his head as far as I can see. We had some one-off posters probably cross-linked, but even they weren't flaming.

    In fact, I think on the whole, this thread gives the lie to the premise that men can't discuss the issue in a calm and reasoned manner. Is there anger? Yes, and a justifiable amount. Is it the raging torrent of internet bile Ken set us up for? Not so much.

  505. Anony Mouse says:

    As a complete aside, I'm rather amused at the amount of energy that has been poured into this conversation (and both sides) of the pros and cons of the word "creeper". Part of me thinks that at least half of the comments here have been attacking or defending its use.

    If I was a sociologist, I could probably build a thesis over that.

  506. James Pollock says:

    "I think that's because "I was drunk" is not an excuse for anything."

    Tell that to former Senator Bob Packwood.

  507. TM says:

    @Christina

    Is it really easier for a socially awkward person basically to ask someone out than it is to do other preliminaries?

    In some cases, believe it or not, yes. It goes back to the reason why women at cons are more likely to be approached and hit on than outside the con, because a mutual and neutral social ground gives a) subjects to talk about and b) an excuse to linger and talk without feeling awkward. By asking about getting a drink/food, you're signalling that for the next few minutes you would like to spend time in a social context with someone in a manner conducive to conversation. For some people this is a lot easier (and the rejection thereof) is a lot easier than starting the conversation in the first place (and having that conversation rejected).

    That is to say, let's presume Con Girl who has been approached quite a few times today and isn't interested / has a boyfriend / whatever. Now let's take low self esteem Con Guy who approaches. Option A is that he starts up a conversation about something, Con Girl now has to extract herself from the conversation in some way, and usually it will be something like "I've got other things to do" or "Sorry, I'm busy". The problem is, for Con Guy, that reads like "You're not someone I would be interested in" (even if that wasn't the intent, remember we've already said part of communication is what the other side hears). In short the rejection feels like a rejection of self. Option B is that Con Guy offers to get drink/coffee/lunch, now usually the way Con Girl turns this down is to say "Not thirsty/hungry" or maybe even still "I'm busy" but mentally for Con Guy this is a rejection of the specific offer, not necessarily the Con Guy himself. It's a safer question in terms of damage to ego.

    Note that this isn't to suggest that Con Girl has an responsibility to Con Guy's self esteem, merely to explain how for a socially awkward person, an invitation to a socially neutral activity can be safer feeling than simply starting a conversation. In short, asking about drinks/lunch is a round about and self esteem protective way of asking "Would you like to have a conversation"

    @DRS

    You know, I wonder how the socially inept manage to handle any part of their lives, if regular exchanges of conversation are so scary for them.

    They generally do it about as well as they handle interactions with the opposite sex. Have you never noticed the high correlation with social awkwardness and lousy/dead end type jobs? That's because professional success as you move beyond cashier and line level work requires social skills. This is already an acknowledged phenomenon, it's why colleges have job centers that teach you blindingly obvious things like "shower and put on dress pants and a dress shirt for an interview", that's why the internet is full of self help articles on how to write a resume and how to conduct yourself at an interview.

    I worked in computer retail. I worked with plenty of socially awkward people who were miserable failures at even simple retail sales because they had no social skills at all. They literally would shut down if a young female approached them, or worse they would hit on clients because they had no concept of professional boundaries. This is a real problem for these people. I'm really surprised you've never noticed this.

    @ChrisTS

    But, perhaps the problem is men who see every woman (or those they find attractive) in every situation as a possible screw, rather than the women who just want to be left f-ing alone.

    See the conversation Christina and I had just above. It is entirely possible for a male and female to have a non sexual interaction, and it's entirely possible for a male to initiate said interaction in a way that is interpreted as a sexual overture simply due to cultural differences. Not everyone coming up to you to start a conversation is looking for sex. So perhaps another part of the problem is hypersensitivity to being picked up?

    But further, allow me to posit that people go to gatherings of other like minded people in order to meet like minded people. Sure, that may not be your particular reason for being there, but it should be natural to expect that to be a reason for at least a non insignificant portion of the attendees. But again, please see above regarding not every interaction being sexual.

    @Canonical

    Like any other competitor I don't want conversation. I don't want to be interrupted when I'm staring at a pocket board or looking up a game in Botvinnik vs Tal 1960. Why does their desire to flirt trump my desire to be left alone like any of the male players?

    It doesn't. But unless there is an explicit rule against conversing with strangers, absent any particular cues from you that you're not interested in any social contact, you're going to be socially contacted. And sorry to say but simply sitting in a corner reading a book is not a strong enough signal, especially in an environment when everyone is doing so. Admittedly competitions are different social rules from cons, but I've never been to a competition where it was all business and no socialization. Maybe chess competitions are different?

    @azteclady

    The only thing that you can be absolutely positively sure means yes is YES. Everything else can mean no.

    When in doubt, ask before groping, grabbing, carrying out of the room–and be prepared for the answer to be no.

    If you grab first, hoping it works, then be prepared to have your face slapped, your actions reported and your name passed around in warning.

    The problem is here we're talking about two different things again. I don't think I've seen anyone in this thread argue that physical contact absent positive consent is OK. In fact, just to be perfectly clear, I'll state that my position is that no one has any right whatsoever to touch you in any way absent your positive consent. The problem is, in this same discussion, we're equating walking up to someone and starting a conversation with touching. One can't get positive consent before trying to start a conversation, and that's where the concern is.

    @Mark

    Quick, simple question. Do you actually believe this is a good solution?
    Do you think the sign would lead to no social interaction?

    Admittedly it's a crappy solution but it's also probably the only one likely to work. Again, operating on the assumption that we all agree no one has a right to touch you absent positive consent from you, we're left with conversation / pickup attempts. Frankly a con gathering is a social event, even if you're a hermit chances are you went to the con to interact with other people in some form or another. As a result, if you don't want to be social at the social event, it sort of is incumbent on you to signal that to other people.

    We already have something similar to that in some cons. Referencing "glomping" again from up thread, many cons have implemented a policy of requiring that attendees where a special pin / lanyard / other signal indicating a willingness to be "glomped". Admittedly, the "I don't want social interaction" is different in that it's a denial signal rather than a consent signal, but the other option is to have the default rule be "No talking to strangers without the "I want to be social" tag" and that seems like that would be a great detriment to the social nature of a con.

    @Nate

    Treat others as you would want to be treated.

    There is a slight problem with this. I referenced this earlier with regards to the perceived "double standard", but it essentially boils down to "How men want women to treat them is different from how women want men to treat them". Yes in general we have very similar ideas, but for a lot of these socially awkward males, a woman coming up to them to initiate a conversation / social invitation or yes even a pickup is exactly what they want. On the other hand, we can see clearly this is often not what the female attendees want. This is compounded by even if we all agree that we wouldn't want 100 people interrupting us all day long, each individual person has no way of knowing how frequently you've been interrupted or even if you've ever been interrupted at all. I have to imagine there is not an insignificant number of geek girls who are also painfully shy and overlooked.

  508. James Pollock says:

    "OK if we loop back for a minute?"
    Sure.

    "I can't simply take out and brandish the pistol that I'll be packing"
    This is a weapons-free con. We're going to have to ask you to leave.

    "It has to be final, so not capable of being construed as "not now" or "not at the moment.""
    Well, it doesn't HAVE to be. "Not now" means "not now" which also means "try again later". If you want him to try again later, say "not now", and if you don't want him to try again later, say "no". See how we leave that choice up to you? It's just that we'll hold you to whichever of those you choose.

    "Have you met my husband, the rugby-playing pathologically jealous six-foot four bloke with organised crime connections who's standing two feet behind your left ear, waving his own pistol and standing over a spade, a sack, a tarpaulin, several industrial grade meat cleavers and a five-gallon drum of cleaning fluid?"
    To be honest, I'm a little concerned for your safety. And why are you on the polyamory panel, again?

    "So, will this do as a sufficient "no" to unwanted interaction with people at cons, which will leave both parties safer, clearer and happy in the fact that communication has been achieved without possibility of understanding?"
    That's GOT to be a typo. In any case, I edited what follows a little bit for length:
    "No."

    As a disinterested third-party to this interaction, what, if anything should I have done? You've clearly identified your husband standing only a few feet away, and for some reason he is not taking action nor, apparently, have you actually called for his aid. If you do not want his aid, as a person committed to your safety, may I safely conclude that aid or assistance is neither wanted nor appreciated? In fact, should I worry that in even attempting to come to your aid, I may incur the wrath of the pathologically jealous husband?

  509. CTD says:

    "Creep" is the female equivalent of "crazy" as used by males; a generally unfalsifiable disqualifier for a member of the opposite sex they find unappealing.

  510. legionseagle says:

    @James Pollock

    I was not asking for help, but whether the above quoted section constituted – in the light of the advice given above – an example of a sufficiently unequivocal "no" to the offender in question to absolve me of the charge of having not made myself clear.

    You – among others – seemed to think that it was the duty of a person in such circumstances to give such an unequivocal "no" or be held responsible not merely for their own harassment but that of any subsequent person the harasser went on to harass. I put the example in question forward as a synthesis of suggestions as to what did and did not amount to a proper "no". Does it qualify?

    I'm sorry to hear about the weapons-free convention policy, since I noted from @Jeremy above (yesterday, 12.13 or thereabouts) that

    Clearly this means that women who object to being physically assaulted should not venture into spaces where their pistols may not follow.

  511. legionseagle says:

    apologies – HTML fail.

    What @Jeremy said was "If women are having a problem with physical assault, well then frankly they should go buy a pistol, or surrender their "you go, girl" card."

    The cited portion was my conclusion, not his words.

  512. James Pollock says:

    "Related: Scalzi says he won't go to conventions lacking harassment policies."

    While I agree that cons should have a policy and that policy should encompass the things he wants, the smug and pompous WAY he says it pushes me strongly in the other direction.

  513. TM says:

    @legionseagle

    You – among others – seemed to think that it was the duty of a person in such circumstances to give such an unequivocal "no" or be held responsible not merely for their own harassment but that of any subsequent person the harasser went on to harass.

    I think you're misinterpreting here. What is being said is not that you are responsible for harassment, but that you are responsible for your own communication and the results thereof. That's why we're saying an unequivocal "No" is better than some social hinting. The fact is, as we've already established both in regards to being a creep ("Communication is what the other person hears") and even within this thread itself (See the discussion between myself and Christina above where our mutual example was confounded by simple differences in social culture) that if you don't explicitly say what you mean, it's very easy to be misinterpreted.

    So if you say "Not right now" and said person tries again later, they're responsible for their decision to try again later, but you're responsible for replying in a manner which did not accurately convey your true meaning which was "Not ever"

  514. Kat says:

    Wow, I've tried to catch up on all the comments, but I think I'm out.

    I guess here's my thoughts in case anyone cares:

    1. I can understand being afraid of being falsely accused of sexual harassment. I agree that having this happen to you would suck. But there *is* an investigation process, from what I have seen (correct me if I'm wrong–but give me actual evidence, not anecdotes, because I really do want to know if I'm wrong but I find it hard to trust something that doesn't have evidence attached), it's *not* guilty until proven innocent. One person who has worked in con security for years came to the thread and said what he's likely to do if someone gives an anonymous report: follow up on it, get the other person's side, make a judgement call as to what needs to happen. He mentioned one circumstance in which he would recommend that the accused stay away from the accuser, and that is in the case of the accused immediately displaying a hostile attitude which is out of proportion to the accusation. I would recommend this: if someone in security comes to you and says, "Anonymous woman says you did this behavior and it made her uncomfortable" say, "Wow, I had no idea it made her feel uncomfortable" (because you didn't), "I'm a little upset that I was reported, because it seems like a reasonable behavior to me" (honest but measured), and "What do I need to do now?" From what he described, that would be the end of the situation. If you behavior was egregious enough by an objective standard, you might get asked not to approach the accuser or you might get asked to leave the con. I think we can all agree that egregious behavior that is judged by a neutral third party to be such needs to be reported and acted upon, so this doesn't seem like much of a problem. If you run into somebody who seems biased against you, ask to speak to another person in con security or to have your case reviewed. You can keep asking if you keep feeling this way, but bear in mind that the more people who look at your case who come to the same conclusion, the less likely it is that it's bias that you're seeing here.

    There is a small minority of women who make totally false reports based on nothing. This is a crime. If someone lies to try to get you in jail, report her to the police. Yes, it's stressful, yes it's an injustice. I agree. But this does not mean that reporting sexual harassment should be discouraged because some people will commit a criminal act sometimes. For one thing, those people will still make a report whether you discourage them or not. For another, you're trading one form of injustice for another by doing this. Is it really fair to insist that large numbers of women who are assaulted shouldn't be allowed to report because a tiny minority misuse the system? Seems like BS to me. Sorry if that upsets you, and sorry if you have run afoul of this before. You have my sympathy for that, but I'm not participating in dismantling sexual harassment reporting because of that.

    So don't push back against sexual harassment reporting becoming mainstream. It protects both you and women who are assaulted. It gives a channel for victims of abuse to get justice. It's a good thing.

    2. I can also get being afraid of getting labeled a creeper by large groups of women. I have a harder time believing that this is as big as problem as the fear it elicits, because women have a sense of proportion too. If I hear something that sounds relatively innocuous to me, I'm allowed to think, "Clearly she was upset by it, but it seems innocuous. I'm fine with serving as a buffer between him and her if needed, but I really doubt anybody else is at risk." It's likely that no matter how many other women she tells. The vast majority of them will have the same reaction. Ditto for the internet. Actually, I would imagine the internet would react against the accuser for trying to stir up drama. See: Donglegate. (And from another perspective.) Also important when read this is the fact that the PyCon Code of Conduct is being explicitly revised to make sure that the situation where one person decides to publicly shame someone before going through the proper channels doesn't happen again. To me, this is what "more speech" looks like.

    3. More than likely, if you are socially awkward, when "con harassment" comes up, you're not the one being talked about. See this post. So if you push back against women wanting to change the culture of harassment at cons, what the women in the thread are likely to hear is that you want to make it to where people described in the post can continue to operate exactly as they have been. What you intend is to make sure that socially awkward men don't get criminalized. I get that this is important to you. Before you do this, make sure you are actually talking about what she is talking about. Make it clear what it is, exactly, that you are saying.

    The reason why I make this request is because when someone is talking about wanting to make criminal behavior less prevalent, that's important. It's way more important than you accidentally derailing the conversation to get your thoughts about your issue in. I'm not saying you can't talk about your issue, but doesn't it seem kind of silly to come to a thread where women are talking about their experiences of actual sexual violence and say, "That's a problem, but lemme tell you. I've got this problem too, and it's that I'm afraid of being on the receiving end of accusations that have nothing to do with me"? By doing this, you attempt to turn a conversation that is about keeping people from becoming victims of crimes into your own personal vent thread about your anxieties, without ever acknowledging the original point of the thread. That's rude and counterproductive. If the people in the thread realize that you're talking about two separate things, you're going to get the brush-off; if they don't, it basically looks like you're advocating for sexual battery. Neither is a good outcome. Don't do this, please.

    In turn, in the future when I'm talking about "creepiness," I will say, "This is what I mean by creepy" and describe what I'm talking about. We can have a discussion where we come to a consensus about what is at issue. I do refuse to define "creepy" as "this list of behaviors" because of the very important point made in the link above (here's another link in case you want to look):

    The kind of guys who grope women at cons are socially aware. They can recognize social signals of when a women is with a man who cares about her, or when she is functionally “alone.” They know when the social contract of silence can be enforced, when the atmosphere of drunkenness will provide them with an excuse, when they can have an easy getaway. These are not socially awkward men. Often they are talkers, practiced in using social rules to get what they want. Because they think they can get away with it.

    Predators are good at avoiding running afoul of explicit rules. They are good at finding victims who are too scared to speak about being violated. They are good at using excuses that allow socially awkward men to think of them as "one of us" instead of as "someone who sexually assaulted a woman." If I define "creepy" as being 10 things that should never, ever be done, the predator will simply switch to the 11th thing that I never thought about. If defining creepy sharply actually helped with anything, then I wouldn't be pushing back against it. But, I don't think it does. See point #1 about the likely outcome of a scenario in which someone is accused by an accuser who is oversensitive. I really don't believe there's as much of a danger as you think there is of actual repercussions against you for being socially awkward. Feel free to try to change my mind about this, but without some kind of proof I'm not likely to.

    4. What I really, really do not get is the outrage over women getting to make their own choices about what they think of guys who approach them in ways they don't like. If a woman doesn't like you because of how you approached her, you struck out with that woman. It happens.

    If you strike out with a lot of women, that's also sad. I get this on a visceral level. I got called things like "queen of the freak shows" when I was younger; I was painfully socially awkward and got rejected many times myself. I had one boyfriend when I was in the 7th grade, and he was a gay dude who wanted to reassure his mom that he wasn't gay. (It didn't work. And I was pretty upset when the truth came out. Thanks, Chaz!)

    I didn't have another boyfriend until I met my husband at a magnet school we were both attending. We were both painfully socially awkward with one another, and I had a lot of hangups I had to get over because I'd been the victim of sexual violence in the past. I cringe thinking about our early courtship. But it worked out, we changed each other in good ways and we've been married for six years. Protip: we started out as friends and treated each other as friends one of us got up the nerve to ask for a date. (Hilariously, his friends tied him down and literally forced him to ask me out; he called me and was so nervous he dropped and broke the phone and had to call back. I had been planning to ask him out the next day and had the entire conversation planned out to the letter. Hence wanting to wait until exactly the right time. Ahhh, social awkwardness.) Additional protip: if you can't work up the nerve to ask someone out on a date, that is something you need to work on and only you can do that work. If you're lucky, maybe a woman you're interested in will ask you out. I'm actually hoping this becomes more of a thing because right now, the onus is generally on the man to make the first move. That's shitty, and something that I think should be changed. That being said, women sharing the onus does not mean women shouldering the onus. Which is why you need to learn this skill anyway.

    But back on topic: it would be nice if social interactions could be clear-cut. But it's not going to happen. Sometimes people just don't "click" and sometimes something about your approach exacerbates this effect. Chances are good that, if she finds you "creepy," she both wasn't attracted to you and she didn't like some specific things you said or did to talk with her or interact with her. There is one-half of the equation here that you can change. If you're unsure of what you did to be creepy, you might try asking a question on the internet about the encounter. If the internet doesn't point to a specific action you took that was objectively creepy, it could be body language (did you lean in close? Stare at her cleavage?) or it could be circumstances (i.e. you approached her in an elevator at 4 A.M.). Pay attention to what your body is doing in relation to hers and pay attention to how you are approaching her. When in doubt, give her plenty of space and ask her in a neutral, safe location. Here are some more tips on how to approach–and there are lots of other articles written on the subject that are just a google away.

    Women do tend to bring a lot of baggage to conversations such as this, but bear in mind that it's because a LOT of women (and I do mean a lot) have been sexually assaulted. When you are sexually assaulted, you become hyper-vigilant. It's not fair to you, but imagine how unfair it is to her that she has to evaluate each situation in light of this. Also, asking her *not* to bring this baggage is asking for her not to attend to her personal safety so that you can have an easier time getting a date. This is not a reasonable request. It is reasonable for women to ask that you try not to make them feel afraid, even if that means you have to be more aware of how you approach. Suck it up.

    Of course, it could be that she's just oversensitive and overreacted to you. Again, this does not seem like a fundamental injustice. She didn't like you. If she reports you for harassment, it's likely nothing bad will happen to you anyway (see point #1). Move on to the next woman.

    5. Blaming victims of rape for not reporting is a scummy thing to do. I don't care how you try to frame it. It's not cool. There are a lot of different reasons why victims of rape don't report, and you need to educate yourself on these. (The man who raped me when I was ten never served a day of jail time, for example, despite being found guilty. Great deterrent, right?) Either way, it's absolutely the fault of the rapist when he (or she) rapes. I'm not going to change my mind on this, so don't even try. James Pollock was being a scummy asshole when he did this, end of topic.

  515. legionseagle says:

    So you are saying that it is better (that is, safer for me ) in such circumstances to say, "Fuck off, no, and that means never until the heat death of the universe" than to attempt to soften it in any manner?

  516. Soylent says:

    @TM You're still putting the burden for avoiding harassment on the victim. Most women are socialized from an early age to avoid confrontation, and studies have shown that women are just as likely to be socially punished for being to aggressive in setting boundaries. This is a damned if you do, damned if you don't attitude. If a lady doesn't violate social conventions by giving you a firm no, she's responsible for not preventing her future harassment. If she uses the direct language you ask for she is going to likely be labeled a "bitch" who "can't take a joke". If she's lucky that is, she also is increasing her risk of violence. Creeper behavior at it's core is a failure to respect normal social boundaries. Now, there certainly are tons of guys out there who are socially awkward, I used to be one. But a lady has no way of knowing if that boundary crossing behavior is the result of awkwardness or if it indicated a willingness to cross other boundaries into violence. Men are socialized to be direct and aggressive, women are socialized to be indirect and gentile. Instead of putting the onus on women to protect themselves maybe it's more fair to put the burden on men to learn the appropriate social behavior.

  517. James Pollock says:

    "I was not asking for help, but whether the above quoted section constituted – in the light of the advice given above – an example of a sufficiently unequivocal "no" to the offender in question to absolve me of the charge of having not made myself clear."
    Well, as I am neither harasser nor harrassed, my opinion can only cover third-party interaction. In other words, under what circumstances are you entitled to expect my intervention? If you tell a guy "no" and he keeps trying, you are wronged and and a request for my assistance is likely forthcoming. If you tell a guy "maybe" and he keeps trying, you have not been wronged, and my assistance in probably not forthcoming.
    Of course, if you aren't asking for my assistance, then you may freely ignore ANY input from me.

    "You – among others – seemed to think that it was the duty of a person in such circumstances to give such an unequivocal "no" or be held responsible not merely for their own harassment but that of any subsequent person the harasser went on to harass."
    Not really, no. If they is so far over the line that he really should be removed from the event, but you choose to keep silent because, say, you've have waste at least half-an-hour explaining things to event security, and you'd rather be doing something else, that's your choice, and in that narrow type of case, yes, you'd have a sliver of responsibility for whoever it was that got mistreated by this person after he could/would/should have been ejected. (He's responsible for his action, and you're responsible for your (in)action.)

    "I put the example in question forward as a synthesis of suggestions as to what did and did not amount to a proper "no". Does it qualify?"
    Well, no. That's why I edited it down to a simpler, more effective version. Is it so hard to say "no" if you mean "no"? Is it too much to ask?

    "Clearly this means that women who object to being physically assaulted should not venture into spaces where their pistols may not follow."
    It's certainly something to think about. I'm fairly sure everybody who obtains a carry permit and carries for their personal safety has to think about it whenever they consider entering a location where they may not carry. As far as I know, airliners are not known for being grope-fests, despite the close quarters. Public schools, on the other hand, vary widely.
    On the plus side, the weapons-free policy ALSO applies to him, so he wasn't allowed to bring his Kenner lightsaber with realistic sounds to complete his Jedi costume, so there is that, at least.

  518. legionseagle says:

    @James Pollock

    "As far as I know, airliners are not known for being grope-fests, despite the close quarters."

    Ah, bless. How wonderful to be able to have that blissful innocence about the world.

  519. Kat says:

    Just found this and thought I'd share: one congoer came up with the idea of handing out red and yellow cards to people who creep. This is one way of non-confontationally informing someone that they've crossed a boundary.

    (There are also green cards that say "thanks for behaving respectfully")

  520. Soylent says:

    @James Pollack The miscommunication is that "maybe" usually means know if you're obeying normal social convention. You're focusing specifically on the stated meaning and ignoring the cultural subtext.

    " Is it so hard to say "no" if you mean "no"? Is it too much to ask?" Yes it is. Women are taught to express rejection indirectly. A direct "no" is more likely to trigger social consequences because it is "bitchy" mannish" behavior unbecoming a lady. As a man it is very hard to understand this. As a mental exercise imagine you're being hit on by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and you're not interested. You also know that 1 in six men have been sexually assaulted by professional wrestlers. It would be easy to just say "no", right?

    Disclaimer: The Rock seems pretty cool and I'm pretty sure most professional wrestlers are decent human beings.

  521. Grifter says:

    @legionseagle

    "So you are saying that it is better (that is, safer for me ) in such circumstances to say, "Fuck off, no, and that means never until the heat death of the universe" than to attempt to soften it in any manner?"

    You do understand that attempts to "soften" are OFTEN misconstrued, by EVERYBODY, regardless of gender or circumstance, and that that's a risk you take when you say something like "I'm busy right now" rather than "Not interested"?

  522. Grifter says:

    *Which doesn't justify crossing the line whatsoever. But, as has been noted, the line has been conflated with "awkward social interaction"; no one who can be taken seriously takes issue with truly crossing the line. It's the "awkward interaction" part, where "Ugh, he should have known "I'm busy right now" meant I have no interest ever, therefore he's as bad as a groper" is treated as a correct view of behavior, that the issue is truly taken with.

  523. legionseagle says:

    @Grifter Actually, apparently not, according to people who've carried out research on the topic. On the other hand, explicit verbal refusals being interpreted as hostile acts and causes of escalation of any aggression inherent in the situation is a known problem (same research as in link).

  524. Jeremy says:

    @sorrykb

    …It's the add-on of "or surrender their 'you go, girl' card" that puts your comment well into asshole territory.

    That is an EXCELLENT point, and one which I acknowledge and agree with wholeheartedly. I'm surprised it took that long to express on this board.

    Yes, saying "surrender your you go girl card" was mean spirited.

    Yet it is no different than telling a man to "man up" when anything bad happens to him. It's effectively the same "taunt". However, it is allowed when speaking to guys, and yet somehow not allowed to be expected of the girls to take responsibility for their own protection or surrender autonomy.

    When guys are taunted socially by men and women, we tell them to suck up and deal with it.

    When girls are taunted socially by men, we circle the wagons and protect them even though they want to be treated as equals and what they were exposed to was no different than what any guy in the same situation might be exposed to.

    Words hurt, but if I can take it and we're equals, then you can take it.

  525. TM says:

    @ Soylent

    Again allow me to state up front so that we are clear. You have an ABSOLUTE RIGHT to not be touched by ANY PERSON absent your POSITIVE CONSENT. The rest of this post is as regards to non physical behaviors.

    A) If early social conditioning of young women to not set explicit boundaries is causing them to be harassed, then the logical solution is to start telling young women to set explicit boundaries. BTW, anyone who tells another person not to set explicit boundaries is a jerk who should be ignored. You have a right to your own body and your own boundaries and you're the only person you can ever expect to define and defend those boundaries so you better set them.

    B) I realize that the young woman in question does not have a way of knowing whether the behavior creeping her out is a result of social awkwardness or malicious intent. That is why it is vitally important that she starts by assuming good intent and is explicit and clear in communicating her boundary, and follows up immediately and definitively if that boundary is not respected. Yes, this may mean that some people will call her names or otherwise speak poorly of her. Such is life, but she will at least not be harassed, which I'm sure we can agree is the bigger problem.

    C) It is absolutely the responsibility of the communicator to communicate clearly. Blame (and at times responsibility) is not a zero-sum game. I can place full blame on a harasser for their harassing behavior while simultaneously acknowledging that the harassed has not clearly communicated their boundary. In other words, the guy who stalks a girl around the con because he's deliberately taking the literal interpretation of "Not right now" as opposed to taking the hint that 3 days of "Not right now" means not ever? Totally 100% to blame for being a harassing creepy stalker, should have been kicked out of the con long before. The poor harassed girl, also to blame for failure to communicate her boundary clearer and failure to report the behavior to the con staff when her communications were being ignored. This does not absolve the harasser of any blame at all. In fact, it is only be acknowledging that blame is not zero-sum that we can ever say that someone has an absolute right to not be harassed. By saying that blame is zero-sum, we are implicitly saying that there is some combination of actions taken by the harassed which can reduce the culpability of the harasser for their own actions. I do not believe there is any such set of actions, therefore I can only conclude that blame is not zero-sum.

  526. Lizzietish81 says:

    Very often the perpetrators are Nice Guys, who think they are owed sex if they are "nice" to women. (except being "nice" if often super creepy) and science fiction has coddled this belief. After all how often is the hero a shy, awkward nerd who gets the hot chick at the end?

  527. legionseagle says:

    @TM I find it difficult to take your comment seriously because of this: "That is why it is vitally important that she starts by assuming good intent and is explicit and clear in communicating her boundary, and follows up immediately and definitively if that boundary is not respected. Yes, this may mean that some people will call her names or otherwise speak poorly of her. Such is life, but she will at least not be harassed, which I'm sure we can agree is the bigger problem."

    This makes the following assumptions:
    a) it is safer to assume good intent than evil intent. Actually, I disagree with this in general; I'd express it as "it's best to hope for good intent but to prepare for all eventualities, including foreseeable worst case scenarios." That's why it is not usually safer, for example, for children to be taught that most adults are benign and they should be happy to get into cars with strangers, even though as a matter of fact most adults are benign and it probably would be safe in the vast majority of cases.
    b) You assume that the risk of being assertive about boundaries is the risk of "being thought poorly of". That's quite wrong; the risk in asserting boundaries can involve anything from physical violence to losing one's job, which is why reporting harassment in the workplace is such a fraught issue.
    c) You assume that asserting boundaries verbally and clearly will work. This in turn has the hidden assumption that the person transgressing those boundaries is i) acting in good faith; and ii) not doing it purely in order to provoke a reaction. Bitter experience suggests that this is not often the case.

  528. James Pollock says:

    "there *is* an investigation process, from what I have seen."
    That investigation process sometimes entails "Is there a person who fits that description in the vicinity". This is an artifact of the days when most offensive contacts were solved self-help, with only the worst of offenses being reported to con security. Con security is generally not equipped nor intended to provide investigatory work; their job is to resolve situations in the immediate. Do they sometimes under-react? Yes. Do they sometimes over-react? Yes. Do they sometimes do both at the same time? Yes.

    "If you behavior was egregious enough by an objective standard, you might get asked not to approach the accuser or you might get asked to leave the con."
    Well, "asked to leave the con" means escorted to your hotel room and from there off the premises without recourse. And after that, of course, you might be banned.

    "There is a small minority of women who make totally false reports based on nothing. This is a crime."
    Not if they don't report it TO POLICE. It is not a crime to make a false report to con security (it might be, and should be, a violation of con policy, but see the discussion regarding investigatory capability above.)

    "But this does not mean that reporting sexual harassment should be discouraged because some people will commit a criminal act sometimes."
    Absolutely not. People who are harassed absolutely should report it when it happens, as frequently and as loudly as is necessary to be heard. But, women should be even MORE angry at false reporters than are men.

    "I can also get being afraid of getting labeled a creeper by large groups of women. I have a harder time believing that this is as big as problem as the fear it elicits"
    Are you SURE you want to be attacking other peoples' fear? I ask because you don't seem to like having YOUR fear questioned. Goose, gander.

    "Actually, I would imagine the internet would react against the accuser for trying to stir up drama."
    I have recent experience that suggests otherwise.

    "what the women in the thread are likely to hear is that you want to make it to where people described in the post can continue to operate exactly as they have been."
    Perhaps (just perhaps) that is a problem with the listening skills of the women rather than the speaking skills of the men. Most likely, there's plenty of blame to go around, so both ends of the conversation can share some. But if you're going to attack someone for supporting various indefensible acts, you really should make sure they are, in fact, supporting various indefensible acts FIRST.

    "I do refuse to define "creepy" as "this list of behaviors""
    "Predators are good at avoiding running afoul of explicit rules."
    So, if you give them explicit rules, they'll avoid running afoul of them, but you refuse to give them explicit rules? Um, I think I see your problem, now. Wait…

    "If I define "creepy" as being 10 things that should never, ever be done, the predator will simply switch to the 11th thing that I never thought about"
    So then the next con has a list of *11* verboten things. In the meantime, the original list of 10 things don't get done. Is that not what you want?
    Consider the analogy: "don't drive dangerously" (good advice, but bad traffic law, because it's subjective.) So instead, we have a long list of things not to do. Don't change lanes without signaling first. Don't pass on the shoulder. The fact that there are other ways to drive dangerously, and new ones are discovered every day on America's highways and byways, doesn't mean that we shouldn't start by listing specific dangerous-driving behaviors that should be avoided.)

    "What I really, really do not get is the outrage over women getting to make their own choices about what they think of guys who approach them in ways they don't like."
    Yeah. I not only don't get it, I don't see it. Where is it?

    "Blaming victims of rape for not reporting is a scummy thing to do"
    Nope. I'm going to hold on to this one. Each and every one of us is responsible for the things we do (or do not do). It's a simple rule and fairly applied.
    If you want to say "well, there are REASONS to not report" and "here's why it's not the victim's fault for not reporting", you open the door to rape apologists saying "Well, yeah, rape is wrong, but there are REASONS…" and "here's why it's not the rapists fault. He had a bad childhood. His mama didn't hold him enough. He was a victim himself."
    No. No excuses. That is a door that should be kept firmly closed.
    Kat, making excuses for wrong behavior OF ANY KIND is bad. You sympathise with victims. I sympathise with victims. But I don't condone wrong behavior. Nope. These are not wrongs of even close to the same magnitude, but BOTH are wrong.
    Since you're intent on shooting the messenger, Kat, fire away. You're still wrong. End of topic. Plenty of blame for everybody to get their share.

  529. sorrykb says:

    @Jeremy:
    I don't tell men to "man up" when something bad happens to them. Never have. And I've spoken up and taken action in defense of women and men who've been subjected to abuse. So, despite "traditional" attitudes and prevailing culture, I've somehow managed to control my own behavior. Shockingly, it isn't even that difficult.

    Now it's your turn. See if you can't modify your own behavior to avoid making bullshit comments implying that no unarmed woman can complain about being sexually assaulted.

  530. James Pollock says:

    "If she uses the direct language you ask for she is going to likely be labeled a "bitch" who "can't take a joke". "
    Not by people whose opinion she respects.

  531. Grifter says:

    @legionseagle:

    Gee, I see your sarcasm, and raise you your biases. That article was wholly about sexual pressure. The interactions we're talking about and that I'm at least slightly defending aren't. Conversation between the sexes is not necessarily sexual pressure.

    Further "[q]uite simply, that is not how refusals are normatively done" may be true. But normative refusals, if taken at face value rather than "interpreted", don't result in a charge of being a "creeper" if misunderstood. If one couple invites another couple over for standard, non-orgy dinner, and the first couple refuses but couches it in "gee, I'd like to" terms, people don't accuse the second couple of wrongdoing if they ask again down the line. But a single dude asking a single chick something similar (NOT any kind of "sit on my face" nonsense) is considered qualitatively different.

    In fact, there's a clear presumption that sexual conversation is different than non-sexual conversation…but then this source goes on about sexual conversation alone, focusing on rape and sexual propositions. Let me be clear: that is not the type of behavior I'm defending whatsoever. It is repugnant and monstrous and unacceptable.

    I'm just saying, like a couple who "doesn't get the hint", a dude who "doesn't get the hint" while still in the "regular conversation" phase is NOT a sexual predator.

    I'll give it a more thorough read, since it does include more than one study…but no one here's seriously justifying "Hey baby, wanna have sex?" and repeated similar concepts in the face of couched no's.

    However, that's not the entirety of the behavior that's identified as problematic. What about those circumstances where someone hasn't even reached the propositional stage yet IF EVER? I was under the impression THAT was what we were talking about. I know I, solely because I'm male, have been accused of "hitting on" women that I was LITERALLY just talking to with no romantic or sexual aspirations of any kind whatsoever. I'm happily married and have no interest in hitting on another woman; as far as I'm concerned, everyone may as well be gender-neutral in my eyes. I don't talk in or use sexual terms or innuendo. Yet there seems to be some kind of presumption I MUST be talking about sex, that MUST be my end goal, and that if I don't get an early hint, I'm therefore some kind of sexual predator. The situation becomes even murkier when we're talking about someone who does have at least theoretical sexual interest, but is just conversing.

    There is no defense for truly repugnant behavior. But non-repugnant behavior gets lumped in as well, which has been my point all along.

  532. Jeremy says:

    @sorrykb

    Now it's your turn. See if you can't modify your own behavior to avoid making bullshit comments implying that no unarmed woman can complain about being sexually assaulted.

    That's an extraordinarily wild imagination you have there. I implied no such thing.

    It is easy to say you've never treated men and women differently when they are confronted with adversity, much harder to prove. Frankly I don't believe your initial claim.

  533. James Pollock says:

    "Women are taught to express rejection indirectly."
    Men are taught it's OK to pursue until told "no".

    "As a mental exercise imagine you're being hit on by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and you're not interested. You also know that 1 in six men have been sexually assaulted by professional wrestlers. It would be easy to just say "no", right?"
    Yeah, it would be. I say what I think even when it has consequences. Then again, I don't care if people think I'm "mannish".

  534. James Pollock says:

    "That's why it is not usually safer, for example, for children to be taught that most adults are benign "
    Actually, it IS usually safer to teach children that most adults are benign. That way, if they need assistance of some kind and parents are unavailable, they'll be able to ask for assistance.
    Alas, most attacks on children come from sources the parents trusted.

  535. sorrykb says:

    @Jeremy. Would you care to clarify what you meant, then, by "If women are having a problem with physical assault, well then frankly they should go buy a pistol, or surrender their 'you go, girl' card."?

    And on the other point, you're free, of course, to disbelieve me.
    I've been a bit more fair with my assumptions about you. I have called you an asshole (based on what you've written here), but not a liar.

  536. TM says:

    @ legionseagle

    To my knowledge, we are still talking about con interactions specifically and geek culture in general. To my knowledge, we have not changed our frame of reference to "back alleys at night". Therefore, I think it is perfectly reasonable to assume that at any given con, the intent of most of the people you interact with is not malicious, that it is indeed safe to establish personal boundaries and you will not be assaulted or lose your job for doing so and that most people who cross your boundaries for the first time are doing so unintentionally.

    This is yet another reason why there is so much anger surrounding this issue. A con is not a gang rape or mass sexual assault waiting to happen. It isn't a place where you are at risk of losing a job (unless you happen to be making jokes near someone who doesn't want to communicate their boundaries who also has a popular twitter account and a cell phone…). Interactions between people at cons are not analogous to strange adults offering candy to children if they get into the windowless van. We are explicitly talking about cons, and even further explicitly talking about non physical contact between two mutual attendees of the con. The fact that the tone of these sorts of discussions treats that as akin to an imminent threat of sexual assault is exactly why there is anger about this. It is truly insulting and offensive that you would paint so many people so broadly based on the actions of a few.

  537. Kat says:

    Here's a tip:

    If you're unsure of whether a woman is actually saying "later" but really means "never," try saying something like, "Oh. Well, if you're interested in later, here's how to reach me, I'd love to get together sometime. If not, that's fine too. Have a great one!" Move on to next woman. If she wants you to stay, she'll say so. If she wants to get together, she'll take the next step.

    Basically, put the ball back in her court.

    There are a lot of different solutions that could solve the problems a bunch of people here are talking about WITHOUT reinforcing a harmful status quo.

  538. James Pollock says:

    "science fiction has coddled this belief. After all how often is the hero a shy, awkward nerd who gets the hot chick at the end?"
    I'm having trouble coming up with any off the top of my head. It doesn't help that most of the SF I like was shaped by Campbell's "capable man" preference… he got the girl at the end, after treating her with respect for the whole story, but he was a strong, capable man from the start. Clarissa MacDougall was no pushover. Paul Atreides winds up with Irulan, but that's a political marriage. And David Bowman not only does NOT get the girl, he turns into a giant space baby.
    If anything, I'd say "the nice guy gets the girl in the end" is more characteristic of the Western genre.

  539. James Pollock says:

    "If you're unsure of whether a woman is actually saying "later" but really means "never," try saying something like, "Oh. Well, if you're interested in later, here's how to reach me, I'd love to get together sometime. If not, that's fine too. Have a great one!" Move on to next woman. If she wants you to stay, she'll say so. If she wants to get together, she'll take the next step."
    Right. She WON'T lose interest as soon as she sees you moving on to hit on another woman. Instead, she'll say "Yes, yes, THAT'S the sort of man I'd rather date!"

  540. TM says:

    @kat

    If you're unsure of whether a woman is actually saying "later" but really means "never," try saying something like, "Oh. Well, if you're interested in later, here's how to reach me, I'd love to get together sometime. If not, that's fine too. Have a great one!" Move on to next woman. If she wants you to stay, she'll say so. If she wants to get together, she'll take the next step.

    Sure, you and I know this, but again we're talking about people with general social awkwardness. Chances are it took them a lot of effort just to work up the nerve to open their mouth and talk. Cooly handling the rejection and turning it around to put it in the girls court is probably a bit outside their normal comfort zone.

    Also, don't you think it's creepy to be offering your number to random strangers that you don't know after they've already rejected you? Remember, we're talking about the scenario where "not right now" means "not ever", so it seems like it would be just as pushy and creepy to force your contact information on the person.

  541. Caleb says:

    *looks at the # of comments*

    Holy hell.

    I think that alone proves your point, Ken.

  542. Kat says:

    @James Pollock: I'm assuming that there would be a cool-down period, where the person in question would take a moment, stop, have a coke, etc. rather than go down the list like a conga line. Perhaps I should have explicitly stated that, since we're talking about people who clearly have no idea of what is acceptable and not acceptable and can't figure it out for themselves.

    But again: if you strike out with one woman, it's not some inherent injustice. It happens. Deal with it like an adult.

    Cooly handling the rejection and turning it around to put it in the girls court is probably a bit outside their normal comfort zone.

    That is something they need to learn and it is not up to women to teach it to them.

    Also, don't you think it's creepy to be offering your number to random strangers that you don't know after they've already rejected you?

    Phone number probably WOULD be too much. But "I'm here on Wednesdays" is not. Neither is "I'm going to be hanging out in that room over there for the next few hours." That's why I said "here's how to find me" not "give her your phone number."

    The rules lawyering is a bit ridiculous. If you're rejected by someone it's not the end of the world. If she's upset that you gave her a phone number, well then she's upset. You guys are not going to hit it off. It's not the end of the world.

  543. TM says:

    @Kat

    I didn't say it was the responsibility of the women to teach that technique. I did say it was their responsibility to communicate their intentions clearly. If you mean "No not ever" then say "No not ever" not "No not now".

    I also didn't say rejection was the end of the world. What I did say was that we are again talking about socially awkward people, and that was why you should assume non malicious behavior until proven otherwise.

    Also, and again this might be different social contexts growing up, but as I was raised, pressing the conversation after a rejection is creepy regardless, whether it's a phone number or "oh, well if you change your mind, I'll be over there" so again social dynamics are hard. They're made much easier by clear communication.

  544. JRM says:

    JRM, to Mrs. JRM: So to oversimplify, there's this problem at atheist conventions where there are self-described feminists on one side, who think if a man ever hits on anyone he's probably a rapist, and the MRA people – and I think MRA stands for Men's Rights Assholes, but I'm not totally sure – who think any complaint about any man is a sign of pouty weakness and the complainers should be shunned.

    Mrs. JRM: So, it's like our marriage.

    JRM: Yes, except in the convention case, *both* sides are wrong.

    Mrs. JRM: Zing!

  545. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    @TM
    "Admittedly it's a crappy solution but it's also probably the only one likely to work."

    So you believe a sign that says "don't hit on me, k?" is "the only one (solution) that is likely to work"? Ok. Then I offer the same suggestion I offered Mr. Pollock.

    Try it yourself and see what happens.

    Seriously.

  546. Kat says:

    To make it absolutely clear: what I object to is the idea that the status quo is acceptable and should be strengthened because there are some guys out there who can't handle rejection. If you can't handle rejection, you're in for a rough life, but that is something that you have to grow past. It's not okay to say "well, we can't talk about harassment because guys are extremely lonely and they might accidentally harass." If you're accidentally harassing, then you need to learn how to not accidentally harass. You need to take steps to learn, not expect that it be given to you on a golden platter by the people you made uncomfortable.

    FYI: False reports are at a rate of 2% – 6.8% depending on what culture you are talking about. So yes, I do find it hard to believe that this rate justifies dismantling or weakening the entire reporting system. I AM sorry to anybody who has had a false report given on them. I am especially sorry if you didn't get justice for it. You deserved justice. But I'm not willing to swap one injustice for another.

    @ James Pollock, I read your response to my long comment, but I did not read a whole lot of proof or a whole lot of engaging with what I actually said. Based on the things you've said in this thread and the fact that I asked for proof and you did not give it, I think I am done talking to you.

  547. Kat says:

    I didn't say it was the responsibility of the women to teach that technique.

    Yeah, to be fair, James Pollock has been the major one advocating for this. And I'm pretty much done talking to him.

  548. legionseagle says:

    @TM SFF conventions are a workplace for many people including dealers, authors, agents, editors and aspiring authors. There's a major imbalance (or at least, perceived imbalance) between editors particularly senior editors and well-established authors on the one hand and less established and aspiring authors on the other. This round of discussion was kicked off by an incident where it appears that a senior editor may have been making a practice over many years of exploiting that power differential.

    Also, you appear to be convinced that these "socially awkward" people of whom you speak never escalate (or, for that matter, initiate) with unwanted touching, and that everything is strictly non-physical, but the "plausibly deniable grope" is a very common feature of harassment and it's artificial to assume that you can limit discussion of harassment in the way you suggest, because it just doesn't happen that way.

  549. Steven H. says:

    @James Pollock:
    "If anything, I'd say "the nice guy gets the girl in the end" is more characteristic of the Western genre."

    In Westerns, "the nice guy gets the girl in the end" after the "nice guy" proves he's even more manly than the slimy bastards.
    And he doesn't prove his manliness by being nice, but by busting heads and shooting straight….

  550. Kat says:

    Also, you appear to be convinced that these "socially awkward" people of whom you speak never escalate (or, for that matter, initiate) with unwanted touching, and that everything is strictly non-physical, but the "plausibly deniable grope" is a very common feature of harassment and it's artificial to assume that you can limit discussion of harassment in the way you suggest, because it just doesn't happen that way.

    Quoted for truth, and adding research that backs this up.

  551. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    Just for the info, Movie Bob over at The Escapist did a piece about geek culture and its current standing in American society as a whole just yesterday.
    The piece and, unfortunately, its comment section are pretty interesting when experienced after participating in this thread. For those interested, googling Moviebob and "great power" will get you there.

  552. TM says:

    @ Mark

    2 problems:
    I've never been attractive enough to be propositioned or even have someone try to initiate a conversation.

    I go to cons for social interaction, I explicitly do not want to pre-exclude myself from those who might wish to interact with me.

    But ultimately, what I can only guess that you're coyly hinting at is that you don't believe it would work. I have to wonder if you've ever tried it yourself though. I also note you've already admitted you don't have a better idea, so I fail to see what good you're doing by assuming the (already admittedly crappy idea) won't work at all and therefore isn't worth trying. Also note that I mentioned you could do the opposite which is make the default con rule "You can't talk to strangers" and require those that want strangers to talk to them to wear a sign expressing that desire, but I believe that would be harmful to the underlying purpose of the con. Do you feel otherwise?

    @Kat

    It would be fantastic if you could point out where people have said either that "the status quo is acceptable and in need of no change", or that "we can't talk about harassment because guys are lonely" or where anyone has advocated "dismantling or weakening the entire reporting system". While admittedly I haven't read every post in this long long thread, I have read a vast majority of them, an I really can't recall seeing those statements anywhere.

  553. TM says: