I don’t get it …

Stephanie Zvan over at Almost Diamonds is talking about a comment made by someone on a post that right now I can’t read because the site keeps timing out. Anyway, this is it, from her post:

Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick?

Post by Pappa » Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:46 am

Not for sexual gratification or power or anything like that, just because they’re so annoying.

I’m really torn on this one. :dunno:

This is the sort of comment that, basically, I roll my eyes at and ignore, and likely start to think about ignoring the commenter as well. I don’t really say much about it or often bother to reply to it. I would, as you’ve seen, certainly comment on other comments and I think Zvan would like to ask why:

…think about what it means to be one of the people telling the Skepchicks they just need to stop whining about the situation in which the last year has placed them. Think about what it means to be someone who tells the Skepchicks–not the kind of assholes who make this sort of “joke”–that they need to shut up. Then drown any impulse along those lines you might find yourself having in a shallow bath and count that as your contribution for the day toward making the world a little better.

And the reason is … I don’t take that sort of comment seriously. No, I dont mean in the “I don’t think it would really happen” way or that “It’s just harmless fun” way, but to me there’s absolutely no academic content. There’s nothing to talk about there; it seems to be nothing more than a simple, random, idiotic comment. And so no one should take it seriously; it’s saying nothing. And everyone should see that, right?

But for some of these comments that I consider egregious, some people might actually take it seriously, and agree with it, which I can’t really fathom. Why would anyone think that saying that it’s even debatable whether these women should be raped for being annoying is in any way a reasonable argument that someone should take seriously? It’s obvious … isn’t it? But it seems to me that a lot of these comments go over my head not because I’m too misogynist to get it, but because I’m too egalitarian. I don’t think of men and woman as being unequal. I am perfectly willing to work with either as long as they can do the job. As far as I know, I treat them identically; I don’t talk down to women more than I talk down to men. For me, it’s literally “Just the facts”; I’m interested in the arguments, not the person (well, okay, I’m interested in women for other things, although having good arguments does appeal to me [grin]).

So when people introduce these racial or sexual differences, they tend to strike me as being obviously unfounded, and that everyone should see it. And so I’m more likely to attack people to defend them — even by reinterpreting them — than the original commenter, and it’s also why I let them slide. I think they’re just obviously wrong and want to get at the points that are respectable. I don’t get what this comment is supposed to do for the issue, and so don’t really care about it. I guess I treat it more as being mean than as being intelligent, and I’m only interested in the intelligent stuff.

Which may be why I’m an accommodationist.

To be honest, I don’t really have a main point with this; I don’t really know what this all means. Make something up if you really need one, I guess.

4 Responses to “I don’t get it …”

  1. aleph squared Says:

    Yeah, you’re right, this comment should be so obviously wrong and pointless that it is ignored.

    Unfortunately, the world we live in is not so pleasant. Studies of rapists have shown, again and again, that rapists don’t think they are abnormal, don’t think that other people (men mostly) are different. Moreover, these studies show time and again that exposure to sexist humor,including rape jokes, while having very little effect on non-rapists, serve as emblems of fulfillment and social acceptance to rapists (or misogynists generally.)

    So as much as those of us who do comment and challenge these kinds of comments would like not to, would like to simply dismiss them as pointless and obviously terrible, the fact of the matter is that if you are concerned with living in a society in which rapists do not feel socially accepted and lauded as rapists, you have to publicly challenge these kinds of statements.

    [I can link to the studies if you want......I mean, these are pretty well-known results and well-established results in the field, so I don't want to go dumping a bunch of links if you're already aware.]

  2. aleph squared Says:

    Sorry for double-posting, but on re-reading I think my comment didn’t articulate my point very well.

    Here’s the thing: pretty much no one who brings up these kinds of comments and criticizes them is actually interested in them in the academic way you describe. There is no content, there is no argument, we’re all far too intelligent to do anything but dismiss it. But we comment and criticize — or, at least, I do — because I care about avoiding two things: (1) someone’s PTSD being triggered (which actually did happen due to that comment and some followups), and (2) as above, letting rapists draw from it unilateral social acceptance of their behavior.

    I’m not trying to say anyone is a bad person for disregarding or avoiding these conversations, but I think you should understand that the people who engage with them feel the same way as you. No one is actually interested in the argument (which doesn’t exist) or the debate (which is often personally painful).

  3. verbosestoic Says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing some of those links; I hadn’t heard of those before and have a tendency to be skeptical about psychological studies these days, mostly because I, well, actually read some [grin].

    On that, one comment is that we have to watch out for rationalization, which humans excel at. If these people are massively rationalizing, then pretty much anything will be interpreted as being accepting, even opposition. Most people, however, realize that a shockingly inappropriate comment may be met with shocked silence and a quick changing of the subject which means social disapproval, but that the comment was just so out of line that it didn’t even deserve comment.

    And I guess that’s more what I’m trying to express: for me, those sorts of comments are so out of line that they don’t deserve comment, and so should simply be ignored. However, because the comments of, say, not having safe spaces are not so outlandish, they in theory should be taken seriously, which means that they have to be accurate, and so some of that “backlash” is a reflection of the concerns being taken seriously, and not the inverse as it might be suggested. And, at least for me, it doesn’t indicate anything else.

    I mean, if someone said to me that we shouldn’t hire someone because they were a woman and thus incompetent, the best reaction they’d get from me would be “Are you serious?”. However, if they said that they should hire the woman to meet affirmative action quotas, I’d take that a lot more seriously.

  4. aleph squared Says:

    Sure, some links (these are just off the top of my head):

    http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/jhamlin/3925/4925HomeComputer/Rape%20myths/Social%20Consequences.pdf

    http://psp.sagepub.com/content/34/2/159.short

    http://jiv.sagepub.com/content/25/12/2339.abstract

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/g451601664828vh1/

    Sorry, I don’t have time to see if free fulltexts of the last three are uploaded somewhere…..I have academic access to those databases so I usually don’t have to look. I’ll see if I can find them later, unless you have access.

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