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JulianMorrison comments on LW Women- Minimizing the Inferential Distance - Less Wrong

58 [deleted] 25 November 2012 11:33PM

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Comment author: MugaSofer 27 November 2012 01:43:48AM 4 points [-]

Oh, I know there are people who would probably deliberately catcall just to annoy - I just assumed it was related to the idea that men enjoy humiliating and denigrating women just ... because we're men. It's surprisingly common once you start noticing it, and almost never challenged, so I make a point of speaking up about these things whenever possible. "Men's Rights" may attract misogynists, but that doesn't mean we should ignore stereotypes of men (not saying you're saying we should - it's just a common assumption and a pet peeve of mine.)

As for the catcalling thing ... I think everyone gets random people saying, basically, "hi". It can be weird when you don't know them, but I think it's distinct from catcalling - which seems to vary geographically, judging by other comments here.

Comment author: JulianMorrison 27 November 2012 01:55:20AM 1 point [-]

There's an element of "claiming ownership" in cat calling and in "how are you doing" and "smile baby" too. It means "I have the right to your time, I have the right to your attention, I have the right to have you be pretty for me by smiling" Replying politely only confirms that, they think they have you trapped in a conversation now. And witness how this "right" is backed by indignation "bitch, think you're all that" and gendered tear-down-confidence insults "slut" and "fat ugly cow" as soon as the man is refused. Which is why women learn counter strategies that don't throw back his claim in his face (as he rightly deserves).

Comment author: [deleted] 27 November 2012 02:46:45AM 5 points [-]

"I have the right to your time,

I've heard that argument (in a thread on a feminist blog about a particular xkcd issue), but it triggers my "not the true rejection" warning light. If Alice was asked for directions by another woman, I wouldn't anticipate Alice to resent that.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 27 November 2012 12:51:42PM 3 points [-]

Asking for directions is a different case, because most people may be assumed to need directions from strangers at some time, so there's a degree of long term reciprocity.

I think street harassment is in a different category because it's an attention grab while not being part of a benevolent social net or giving anything back.

Comment author: evand 27 November 2012 02:37:16PM 3 points [-]

I think it's a different case, but not completely. When a stranger asks me for directions, I feel imposed upon and uncomfortable. In large part this is because I've learned that the frequency of the person using it as a pretext for panhandling is high. Which has a certain similarity to why the greetings make you uncomfortable, I think: both are used as pretexts to start a conversation we'd rather not be involved in.

Clearly there's some context dependency here: if the person is standing on a sidewalk, I feel far more uncomfortable than if they just rolled down their car window in a parking lot. I also recall a time a man on a bike asked me for directions, appeared genuinely thankful, made sure he'd got them right, and then asked me for money. When I refused, he was annoyed (though more polite than is common) and then left in the direction I had indicated.

Anyway, seeing as offering random greetings to strangers along the lines of "how are you doing" is something I (hetero male, in case you hadn't inferred that) do occasionally, I'm trying to ponder what contexts I do it in. I think I'm generally shy and awkward enough that I basically do it a context something like I made eye contact, and then some external cause means the other person isn't just leaving, and now I'm feeling awkward and like I should say something. I'm assuming this basically isn't the sort of context you're talking about? Actually, on further reflection, I suspect I do it in the situation described in the main article of when holding the door for someone, which is not something I had ever really thought of as potentially offensive before. (For the record, I don't follow it up with sexual remarks and slurs.)

Comment author: Desrtopa 27 November 2012 02:44:48PM 1 point [-]

When a stranger asks me for directions, I feel imposed upon and uncomfortable. In large part this is because I've learned that the frequency of the person using it as a pretext for panhandling is high.

Really? I've been asked directions a lot of times, and this hasn't happened to me even once.

I haven't had this happen at all in New York City, the place I've spent the most time where I would expect panhandlers, but it might be different elsewhere given that Manhattan is practically impossible to get lost in.

Being asked for directions makes me uncomfortable, but only because I have the worst sense of direction of anyone I know, and hate feeling unhelpful.

Comment author: MugaSofer 27 November 2012 02:02:42AM 3 points [-]

There's an element of "claiming ownership" in cat calling

Source please.

and in "how are you doing" and "smile baby" too.

So ... male passersby are "claiming ownership" of me? Great, now I'll be even more uncomfortable. (I'm male & het, if that wasn't clear.)