Greg (gmalivuk) wrote,

a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced

Brilliant article someone recently brought up for discussion on the xkcd forum, so I thought I'd also link to it here.

When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions. If you expect me to trust you—to accept you at face value as a nice sort of guy—you are not only failing to respect my reasonable caution, you are being cavalier about my personal safety.
I'd like to think one could link to this article any time some guy gets pissy about how irrational women keep brushing him off when all he wants is some innocent chitchat, but unfortunately people on the forum have already proved it'll just go over their heads...
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I saw that on metafilter, and it kind of rubbed me the wrong way in the part about males anticipating whether they might seem scary to women and then acting based on that. When it comes to the issue of feeling safe from assault, of course, it seems petty to put into the balance something like the guy's feelings of rejection... But I think the writer expects certain classes of males to walk through life acting as if, "oh no I might scare someone because I am especially scary," and then I think that may become a self-fulfilling prophecy in that internalizing a conception of oneself as scary leads to giving off just those uncomfortable-vibes...

And I think I'm also uncomfortable with the way she categorizes the kinds of guys who should especially lay low from public social interaction with women (whatever motive)--standards of grooming, etc.--it seems as if she's not just expressing that somehow these are people more likely to cause sexual assault (are they?) but more that she doesn't like these people and wants them to know they're unlikeable and thus to avoid her...
No, she's saying guys like that are more likely to set off warning bells in most women. Not that they are more likely to commit rape. Not that they are less likeable. Simply that they should be aware that looking a certain way will cause others to think of them a certain way, and sometimes that means others are more likely to think of them as potentially dangerous.
I'm torn between thinking "do what you need to protect yourself" and "that doesn't sound any different than assuming all Arabs are terrorists". It's not exactly a good analogy, though, considering that it's not the case that we have a one-in-five chance of being the victim of a terrorist attack. Somewhere between the terrorism rates and the rape rates, presumptive suspicion stops being paranoia and starts being good sense...
Even if the rates were closer, she's not assuming all men are rapists. She's just saying that a strange man who decides to approach you out of the blue, and especially a strange man who views his desire to interact with you as more important than your desire to be left alone, is more likely to be a potential rapist.

But of course, it's also the case that if 1/20 to 1/10 of Arabs were terrorists, thinking all of them might be would cease to be quite so racist and paranoid.
greg, i think this means you need to get your cockroach tattoos removed.
But they're so pretty!


October 14 2009, 21:23:48 UTC 8 years ago

Cockroach tatoos??? Either way, "perception is reality" if some women regard unknown men as a threat, guys should deal with it and not be all insulted or superior about it. Its a far from perfect world and some of the fallout from that is that some people get stereotyped like it or not. If it offends you, work to end rape and assault in whatever small way you can.