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army1987 comments on LW Women- Minimizing the Inferential Distance - Less Wrong

58 [deleted] 25 November 2012 11:33PM

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Comment author: army1987 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.