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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » The Rebbeca Watson/Richard Dawkins drama (Page 3)

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Author Topic: The Rebbeca Watson/Richard Dawkins drama
Destineer
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I looked up a bunch more blog posts and articles about this last night. It really is a fascinating example of how complicated even the most basic application of social norms can be.

The following comment on Watson's original video post is a relatively respectful phrasing of something a lot of her critics are focusing on:

quote:
Okay folks, this is what is going on.

Rebecca Watson insists that she explicitly told guys not to sexualize her on the panel discussion with Richard Dawkins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKHwduG1Frk&feature=player_embedded#at=242

However the actual panel discussion which was uploaded by AronRa she never talks about being sexualized in the kind of way that she purports elevator guy is doing to her.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W014KhaRtik

She doesnít talk about being hit on at all she talks about getting crude emails.

Rebecca Watson distorts things and does not know how to distinguish between her feelings and reality.

That doesnít make her a good feminist or a good skeptic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W014KhaRtik

So this is what people are referring to when they talk about how Rebecca had already told others that she didnít like being ďhit onĒ at conferences. Sadly thatís not what she said at all and the so called skeptics never bothered to check their sources.

Now, this poster seems to be correct (unless I've made a mistake and haven't been able to find all the videos) that Watson never mentions a distaste for getting hit on in her panel presentation or Q&A. She only talks about gross emails she's gotten. So maybe EG thought that by approaching her respectfully in person, he was doing something she'd approve of.

That said, it's also likely that in the group discussion afterward, Watson said more about how she feels as a female community member and mentioned then how much it bothers her being hit on.

Another possibility is that Watson simply remembered her panel presentation a little differently than it actually went. Very common thing to have happen. Accusing her of willfully "distorting" anything is very likely off the mark, even if the critic above is largely correct about the facts.

Anyway, it seems likely that some very relevant parts of this controversial event have been lost to the winds of time.

I'm wasting way too much vacation time on this. For some reason it's really captured my attention (probably because women's issues in my profession are looming very large recently, and there are some definite parallels with some of the issues Watson raises).

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kmbboots
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I find it entirely likely that her assumption (and that of her supporters) is that most people can generalize "don't sexualize me - here are some examples" to "don't sexualize me at all" without her having to be specific. "Hey, she didn't say anything about elevators! Freebie!"

I also think it entirely likely that EG did think that he was approaching her respectfully - or at least in a way she might think was respectful. He was wrong. Her original mention of it corrected this misunderstanding.

Hey. At least she didn't pepper spray him. [Wink]

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Destineer
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Well, if you watch the panel, she really doesn't say "Don't sexualize me" or "I don't like being sexualized," either. She starts out by saying that she wants to talk about some of the issues and difficulties that women run into in the "skeptic" community. Then she basically proceeds to give examples, which include emailed rape threats and vulgar compliments. (It's pretty startling, some of the scummy stuff she mentions.)

I should say, it's not my view that EG approached her in a way I'd call "respectful." That would require at an absolute minimum engaging in some conversation before inviting her up to his room. But different people have different standards about how quickly you can cut to the chase.

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Raymond Arnold
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I realize that this point it's preaching to the choir in this thread, but I thought this article was funny and important:

http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2011/07/why-we-have-to-talk-about-this.html

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rivka
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Nice. Thanks for the link.
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Dobbie
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The guy did say, "Don't take this the wrong way." She must be the kind of person who gets offended after someone says "No offense", and accuses people of racism even when they explicitly preface their remarks with, "I'm not a racist, but..."
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Destineer
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LOL, Dobbie. [Smile]
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Annie
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First of all, I wanted to remark on how much I enjoyed the civility of this thread. I haven't been back to Hatrack in years, and my few experiences involved infuriating fights that wearied me, and so to come back and read such a grown-up sort of debate was very refreshing. This is the Hatrack I grew up loving. [Smile]

Much of what I wanted to say has been said already by the likes of CT and Olivet. I did want to add my vote to the idea that I'm actually glad this issue blew up all over the internet. I'm glad that these kinds of things are brought to light. And even though I'm not an atheist, I'm glad that the right of women to participate without fear and intimidation is being recognized in that community.

I wanted to add another viewpoint of mine, which may be kind of out there, but about which I feel very strongly. I think this whole issue really revolves around one simple factor in the story - the fact that Elevator Guy was a stranger. I think all of this, the social mores and everything, are all locked to this issue of how men and women interact when they are strangers. I am pretty dang prudish by most interpretations (though you'd be pleased to know that my Mormon roommates think me downright bawdy) but what I feel about this issue applies to people whose personal culture includes an acceptance of pre-marital sex. I still think our culture is recklessly and dangerously accepting of sexual advances toward strangers, and the problem with this is its effect on women's dignity and humanity.

The problem with propositioning a woman at a social event or a convention or any other public situation is that the only thing you're propositioning is her image. Sure, this guy had listened to what Rebecca Watson had to say and maybe had a little crush on her brain or something, but he hadn't interacted with her, he didn't know her, and even if his intentions were only slightly tinged with amour, it's insulting to make a decision like that about a woman when you know nothing of who she actually is.

I'm not a woman who is considered particularly attractive, and haven't had to fend off many unwanted advances in my time (the ones I do have to fend off . . . those are a special breed of desperate fellow) but I do have examples of the kind of interactions that make my blood boil. It's not because of the propositions as much as it is the assumption that they had a right to appropriate my image - to take me as merely the outward image of a person while knowing nothing about who I actually am. Here are two contrasting examples that may illustrate a little better what I'm talking about:

I was teaching an English class in Japan and noticed that one of the teenaged students sitting in the front row was actually masturbating as I talked. It was extremely unnerving, insulting, and disturbing. I didn't say or do anything about it, but it bothered me for a long time. That may seem incredibly harsh, but the reason it bothered me was because I had become nothing but an image to be exploited for someone. I wasn't a human. It wasn't the dignity of a man finding me as a person attractive and wanting to be with me and share a sexual relationship. It was the utter selfishness of thinking "I'm going to look at her and use her for my own little moment of self-gratification and I don't even care who she is or what she would think." Masturbation isn't even about sex; sex is where you involve another person and try to please them. Masturbation is where you're going to get your jollies and I'm not even invited.

The second incident happened when I was teaching English at a private high school in Taiwan. I had been teaching a class of high school juniors for an entire semester. I knew them, loved them, and appreciated them. One day I was down near their homeroom classroom where I don't typically go and overheard two of the boys talking about how one of them had a crush on me. They saw me and the poor kid turned every shade of red that Asians don't typically turn and had a really hard time participating in class that day. I promise I don't endorse any sort of teacher-student relationship, nor would I ever have considered anything with a minor appropriate, but I didn't feel hurt and insulted by this. I felt compassionate. He hadn't just looked at me - he'd known me all semester (he is a rather good student and I praised him and joked with him often) and had developed, however unrealistically, a sort of attraction to me.

This is the difference - this is what women want and deserve out of love and sexual relationships. We do not deserve to be treated as images. We don't deserve to be a speaker at a scientific convention presenting our life's work and have some jackass in the back of the room making quips about our body parts or sending lurid emails. We deserve to have others interact with us as human beings, to get to know who we are, and for our romantic relationships to arise out of friendship, shared experience, and real love and appreciation of who we are as people.

I realize this makes me a bit of a radical. I realize it's not the way things happen in "the real world." I realize that in our culture, a perfectly acceptable way for both men and women to meet potential mates is to see them strutting their stuff on a drunken dance floor and "going in for the kill." But I know that it's not inescapable because I know a lot of respectful men who don't let themselves be attracted just to female images but who reserve their sexual appreciation for someone they've gotten to know and respect as an individual. I know things could be a lot different if we made changes in our culture about what is and isn't acceptable. And I really believe that no matter what our personal views on sex and morality we'd all be a lot better off and women would feel a lot safer and dignified if we expected this of ourselves.

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Stone_Wolf_
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While I agree with much that was said, I wonder, why (beyond commenting on the article that started this discussion) did you make this a gender specific argument? It works just as well genderless. Do not men deserve the same? Doesn't being approached by a stranger for sex hurt men's humanity and dignity as well?

I suspect you would agree that this issue cuts both gender ways, and I do understand that a man is WAY more likely to hit on a women he doesn't know then the other way around. I'm not condemning you in way shape or form.

Also, I would like to point out that while masturbation (and certainly in your horrifying example) can be selfish or shallow, that I don't think it always is or that it is intrinsically.

All kinds of people fantasize about all kinds of stuff, and in or out of a relationship it is completely possible to self pleasure with a longing/remembering/missing a deep emotional connection.

I speak theoretically of course.

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Annie
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quote:
I wonder, why (beyond commenting on the article that started this discussion) did you make this a gender specific argument? It works just as well genderless. Do not men deserve the same? Doesn't being approached by a stranger for sex hurt men's humanity and dignity as well?
Yes. Which is why I really hate romance novels. But that's a whole 'nother screed.

quote:
Also, I would like to point out that while masturbation (and certainly in your horrifying example) can be selfish or shallow, that I don't think it always is or that it is intrinsically.
I see your point, but I still disagree. I still think it is intrinsically. I came to the same realization about wistful fantasies once when I was longing for this boy to love me. I played out all sorts of scenarios in my brain where he called me and told me he'd always liked me, or came in the door in some future home we had together proclaiming "Honey, I'm home!" And then I'd interact with him in real life, those hopeful fantasies still in my mind, and realize that I hadn't respected his humanity because I was making him a character in my own personal drama and wasn't accepting the person he actually was. The person he actually was wasn't interested in me, and it was unfair to be giving him all sorts of mind real estate as if he were. It ruined my ability to get to know him as he really was.

It's like that episode of Deep Space Nine where all their dreams come to life and the doctor's fantasy version of Dax is walking around on the station with the real Dax. The real Dax is insulted because his fantasy of her is all stupidly in love with him and submissive, and that's not the person she actually is.

And yes, I just referenced Deep Space Nine in all seriousness.

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Rappin' Ronnie Reagan
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There is nothing wrong with referencing Deep Space Nine. In fact, there should be more DS9 references.

For another example, there's the episode of Futurama where Fry downloads a Lucy Liu bot.

edit: And welcome back to Hatrack. [Smile]

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Annie
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Hey thanks [Smile]
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Stone_Wolf_
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But what about self gratification when it comes to people who are in a relationship but are physically apart from each other?
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Annie
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I have no opinion on that. I don't think I'd be comfortable with it myself, but then I've lived for 30 years without, um, playing that particular sport so I don't see it as necessary as some people might.

And I think that situation is probably a rather small percentage of the entire amount of wanking that goes on in the world. I would guess that most of it is done with no regard for the person whatsoever - it's just a picture on a screen and not always a very kind or loving portrayal at that. And I think that seriously warps the way we treat each other.

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Stone_Wolf_
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You are probably right on all points...except maybe that last one (within a relationship, that is).
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Annie:
I'm not a woman who is considered particularly attractive

Having met you, the only response I can give to this assessment involves a rude noise. [Razz]
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Annie
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Annie:
I'm not a woman who is considered particularly attractive

Having met you, the only response I can give to this assessment involves a rude noise. [Razz]
No, I fully acknowledge that I am the most beautiful woman in the world. I think I discovered that really late one night when I was staying up reading forums. But I'm not considered particularly attractive, judging by responses. The fact that I'm a mouthy know-it-all probably confounds my data.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
While I agree with much that was said, I wonder, why (beyond commenting on the article that started this discussion) did you make this a gender specific argument? It works just as well genderless. Do not men deserve the same? Doesn't being approached by a stranger for sex hurt men's humanity and dignity as well?
I'm only guessing, but I think it might be because...it happens much more often to women than it does to men, so while ideally it cuts both ways, and viewing a man as a sex object is as demeaning as is viewing a woman as such...it happens much less often, so in the real world it really doesn't cut both ways. Particularly when, as in this discussion, we're talking about things such as propositioning someone in an elevator, or masturbating in public, etc. As a group, women simply don't do that as often. (In part because they have been and still are often taught that to approach sexuality as men do, or as men are encouraged to, earns a helluva lot of social stigma.)
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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Annie:

quote:
Also, I would like to point out that while masturbation (and certainly in your horrifying example) can be selfish or shallow, that I don't think it always is or that it is intrinsically.
I see your point, but I still disagree. I still think it is intrinsically. I came to the same realization about wistful fantasies once when I was longing for this boy to love me. I played out all sorts of scenarios in my brain where he called me and told me he'd always liked me, or came in the door in some future home we had together proclaiming "Honey, I'm home!" And then I'd interact with him in real life, those hopeful fantasies still in my mind, and realize that I hadn't respected his humanity because I was making him a character in my own personal drama and wasn't accepting the person he actually was. The person he actually was wasn't interested in me, and it was unfair to be giving him all sorts of mind real estate as if he were. It ruined my ability to get to know him as he really was.

So do you think it's wrong to masturbate, or to have wistful fantasies? Maybe sometimes a shallow experience, or a selfish experience, can be necessary or beneficial. Or just fun and not harmful, like playing a simple video game.
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Blayne Bradley
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You came *this* close to being a real life Yandere Annie [Frown]
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Raymond Arnold
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I don't think fantasies are harmful to the object of the fantasies as long as you keep it to yourself. I think it can potentially be problematic if you DO end up interacting with that person and you have trouble separating the fake them from the real them.

Masturbating in front of someone is obviously wrong in all kinds of ways. But in general, I have less of a problem with porn than I do oversexualization in media in general. Porn activates a specific part of my brain that only lasts a short time and doesn't carry over into my regular thought processes. Whereas TV shows that portray men pursuing women a particular way reinforce a view of what's normal and I think has a noticeable impact on how I treat people, unless I actively work to fix it.

(Actually, on a similar note, I think masturbation is far less damaging that wistful fantasies when we're talking about a person you actually know - for me, the wistful fantasies are more likely to impact my relationship with them)

In the case of Elevator Guy... I think there's a hazy line in terms of whether he was objectifying a fantasy version of her. I'm sure he was to some degree, but he HAD just heard her speak and (presumably) was familiar with her ideas and he can be legitimately attracted to Rebecca as a person. Even if he was ALSO attracted to Rebecca-the-fantasy.

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Annie
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quote:
So do you think it's wrong to masturbate, or to have wistful fantasies? Maybe sometimes a shallow experience, or a selfish experience, can be necessary or beneficial. Or just fun and not harmful, like playing a simple video game.
I do think that sexual fantasies of any sort do more harm than good. They take the other person out of what is supposed to be a two-person interaction and get people to expect the unreal and then to confound the unreal with the real. Humans are complex creatures, and our activities are not neat and compartmentalized. Even "simple video games" impact what we think about and what we do. I'm not saying there's no place for fun, but I think we need to be very careful when we allow ourselves to be entertained by fictional representations of people.

Take, for example, an example from the women's side this time - Twilight causing problems in marriage. Are these extreme examples? Yes. But they are clear examples of what happens when we tie our romantics and sexual emotions to fictions. It ruins our interactions with reality.

quote:
Porn activates a specific part of my brain that only lasts a short time and doesn't carry over into my regular thought processes.
From the way I've seen pornography affect the men in my life, it definitely carries over into their view of women and relationships. That's one of the biggest problems with it.

This recent article from Newsweek gives some stark examples. It's talking about prostitution, but the study also included visiting strip clubs, etc. in the concept of "buying sex." Pornography played a big role in the group of sex buyers versus the non-buyers. And all of this changes users' view of women.

"Overall, the attitudes and habits of sex buyers reveal them as men who dehumanize and commodify women, view them with anger and contempt, lack empathy for their suffering, and relish their own ability to inflict pain and degradation."

And further on, "'Over time, as a result of their prostitution and pornography use, sex buyers reported that their sexual preferences changed and they sought more sadomasochistic and anal sex,' the study reported.

'Prostitution can get you to think that things you may have done with a prostitute you should expect in a mutual loving relationship,' said one john who was interviewed. Such beliefs inspire anger toward other women if they donít comply, impairing menís ability to sustain relationships with nonprostitutes."

I think one of the most harmful concepts about pornography is that it's a fiction, harmless, and a fantasy.

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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Annie:
quote:
So do you think it's wrong to masturbate, or to have wistful fantasies? Maybe sometimes a shallow experience, or a selfish experience, can be necessary or beneficial. Or just fun and not harmful, like playing a simple video game.
I do think that sexual fantasies of any sort do more harm than good. They take the other person out of what is supposed to be a two-person interaction and get people to expect the unreal and then to confound the unreal with the real. Humans are complex creatures, and our activities are not neat and compartmentalized. Even "simple video games" impact what we think about and what we do. I'm not saying there's no place for fun, but I think we need to be very careful when we allow ourselves to be entertained by fictional representations of people.

Take, for example, an example from the women's side this time - Twilight causing problems in marriage. Are these extreme examples? Yes. But they are clear examples of what happens when we tie our romantics and sexual emotions to fictions. It ruins our interactions with reality.

I agree that there are certain psychological risks to objectifying people. But there's a flip side as well. Inhibiting your fantasy life can impede your regular sexual function. The sex response is a very delicate thing with a lot of subconscious aspects. Men who try too hard not to fantasize or masturbate can end up having problems with erections. Women can end up with vaginismus.

There's also a physical health aspect to it as well, at least for men. Regular ejaculations promote prostate health and help prevent cancer.

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Stone_Wolf_
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It's hard to know what is right when it comes to this issue. Too much or too little can hurt you, and if you do it in the wrong way, it can hurt your ability to relate to people of the opposite gender (or same depending on orientation).

I think the bottom line is the same for all powerful things. Be careful and kind, seek balance.

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ambyr
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
I don't think fantasies are harmful to the object of the fantasies as long as you keep it to yourself. I think it can potentially be problematic if you DO end up interacting with that person and you have trouble separating the fake them from the real them.

I'll second this. I don't care if total strangers want to fantasize about me; I do care, very much, when they want to tell me about those fantasies. And by "care," I mean it both terrifies me (when we're alone, when we're in a confined space I can't easily escape) and makes me want to punch them.

If they feel the need to tell me about their fantasies, I have to assume it's because they want some sort of response. And that need to make me into a participant, to my mind, shows they do have severe trouble separating the real me from the fake me in their head.

Honestly, I'd much rather total strangers fantasize privately than approach me with something "neutral" like "Girl, do you know how beautiful you are?" The latter has far too often led straight into "I want to f*** you til you scream" for it not make me reflexively flinch and start looking for exits.

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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
"I want to f*** you til you scream"
My theoretical response: Why wait, I'll scream now. PERVERT!!! THERE IS A PERV OVER HERE!!! COME SEE THE SEXUAL DEVIANT!!!
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Bella Bee
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quote:
My theoretical response: Why wait, I'll scream now. PERVERT!!! THERE IS A PERV OVER HERE!!! COME SEE THE SEXUAL DEVIANT!!!
Aw, Stone_Wolf_, you're such a Dad. That is just such a Dad thing to say. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. [Smile]
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Annie
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
quote:
"I want to f*** you til you scream"
My theoretical response: Why wait, I'll scream now. PERVERT!!! THERE IS A PERV OVER HERE!!! COME SEE THE SEXUAL DEVIANT!!!
Ha ha! I actually really want to see someone use that.
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Olivet
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
quote:
"I want to f*** you til you scream"
My theoretical response: Why wait, I'll scream now. PERVERT!!! THERE IS A PERV OVER HERE!!! COME SEE THE SEXUAL DEVIANT!!!
I believe my sister has done this. (As I said, she's something to behold.) As a frequent participant in scifi cons (and quite the hottie) she's become proficient at the public shaming of tossers like that. It's both beautiful and a little terrifying to see. Those who attend cons with her have turned it into a drinking game. O_O

I'm... not sure I'd have it in me to what she does. I usually take a chaperone if I'm going to be in a situation like that. (By chaperone, I mean going out with a hefty group of femmes. My usual group has a fairly imposing gay man who likes to play protector, too.) The wedding ring usually does pretty well, but it only keeps the reasonably moral ones away.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Good for your sister! I love it when my wife blows off inappropriate neanderthals...so funny. I always want to step in, but she does it so much more humiliatingly then I could have managed.
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0Megabyte
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"
And further on, "'Over time, as a result of their prostitution and pornography use, sex buyers reported that their sexual preferences changed and they sought more sadomasochistic and anal sex,' the study reported."

...what's wrong with anal sex?

(Spoken by someone who, honestly, doesn't particularly want to put it in there, so to speak. But the point isn't my personal likes or dislikes, because not liking fish doesn't make fish bad, either. Just something I don't want to eat, personally.)

Or really, BDSM for that matter? As long as the partners like it, and you don't get some jackass whining about not getting their kinks or putting pressure on a person, there's really, quite literally, nothing wrong with any of this.

I'm going to talk about the article, now. I had some problems with it: First, as stated, the study's control group kind of sucks. They even talk, at length, about their difficulty finding anyone to actually put into the control group, and had to loosen things to a serious degree.

Doesn't that make it more likely than normal that the control group is skewed in the first place, creating a distorted view of which behaviors are normal, and which aren't?

Furthermore, their statements also suggest the massive difficulty in finding men who do not do this, by their standards.

In other words, it's conceivable, though not proven, of course, that the vast majority of men you meet, including the good ones, do do the things you view as so harmful, Annie.

Is it at all possible -and I'm not saying this is true, just bringing up the question- that while the dangers you speak of do occur, and no one denies that, that you have exaggerated the danger for the psychologically healthy individual?

In any case, let me get a little farther into the recent article: It says that the ones who go to prostitutes are eight times more likely to say they were willing to rape a woman than those who don't.

But it doesn't give an actual percentage there. Is this .1 versus .8%? 1 versus 8%? 10 versus 80%? Furthermore, how do you prove, considering how common rape is in everyday life, that it is not the alleged control group that is not atypical, instead of the ones who purchase sex?

In any case, there's also the danger of lumping those who go out and purchase prostitutes with those who look at porn. Differences do exist, and it probably isn't as cut and dried as "those who purchase sex in any form" and "those who don't." That's a problem they came across in this study, apparently. But I'm just going off what this article is saying, I don't have the actual study here, and that would be infinitely preferable, considering how unreliable news reporting of these sorts of things are.

Going on... I already talked about the anal sex thing, big whoop the guys like anal sex more, and BDSM more. I'm again, incredibly unconcerned about this. What I am concerned about, of course, is what is claim that this leads men to be angrier towards women who don't then comply. I've seen porn, but I haven't visited prostitutes, so I may fall in the less likely to have these problems category, but if true this is a significant problem.

However, that's merely a statement made by the article, and I don't see it backed up as anything other than correlation.

In any case, I can't speak to the psychology of those who visit prostitutes, because I don't do that myself. They prefer to think of them as willing, even when they aren't really? Gee, I wonder why. Cognitive dissonance is a rather common human trait. It's bad, but not unique.

(In any case, the argument that prostitution degrades without question is a quagmire. I've seen good arguments that it does, good arguments that it only does because of the current situations, and could be vastly better if steps were taken, and seen feminists disagree vehemently on the issue. I don't consider it a finished issue, though I would hazard to say that, in any case, current conditions should not be tolerated, and changes must occur.)

Most of the rest of the article wanders off away from the study being done, and goes into interesting and important stuff about the plight of prostitutes, but that's not relevant to my point, so I'll skip over that. The article is clearly biased against prostitution in all its forms. (Not saying this is a BAD bias, or wrong, just that it's a bias.)

However, going through the article, it doesn't really support your argument about fantasies being bad. It's full of supposition, the article fails to make the study sound very convincingly done (that's the fault of the article. I haven't seen the study).

Oh, and it focuses on prostitution, not porn use or fantasies, and worse conflates the two unnecessarily. Am I saying they're incorrect? No, but I wouldn't be so readily convinced by it.

Conclusion time:

Thing is, of course men who are going to purchase the time of women for sex are going to have some psychological differences, and of course pornography also has an effect. But you can't go from "people who use prostitutes are more likely to think of women as objects" to "sexual fantasies and masturbation are inherently harmful" just like that. There are steps you need to take between these statements, steps the article doesn't take, and steps you haven't taken. It's a logical leap. A rather large one, in fact.

Furthermore, what you do argue in regards to fantasies is evidence based on the outliers. Of course you will find articles about people who are messed up by something like Twilight. But just like you shouldn't take a train bombing to mean that getting onto a passenger train is inherently unsafe, you can't go from the Twilight thing to thinking that having steamy thoughts about Edward coming to your room at night is inherently going to destroy your relationship due to obsession, the real problem of that first article you sent.

That's what the news is, after all. Unusual events. Outliers. They are not the norm, and it's far too easy to forget that.

Its like Sigmound Freud basing his work on the psychology of the human mind... by using only the minds of those who are insane. It skewed him.

[ July 22, 2011, 06:54 PM: Message edited by: 0Megabyte ]

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Stone_Wolf_
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There's nothing inherently wrong with those things, if they are done by consenting adults, but I doubt there is any question that those sexual practices are more violent and extreme. I believe the point that was trying to be made was that the people who obtained sex without intimacy soon found that the sex itself was insufficient and they needed more radical and savage acts to keep them interested.
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Hobbes
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My question is: when does fantasizing become harmful and what exactly qualifies and sexualizing? The first seems like it could just as easily apply to forward thinking: picturing a scenario and envisioning if you want that, or what you would do to achieve that. I've certainly done it in relationships, pictured our potential future and then in one case realized it wouldn't make me happy and broke it off; in another, decided it's what I wanted and pursued (with limited success obviously [Wink] ). Clearly in this scenario it's more 'appropriate' as we were already in a relationship, but I'm sure I've done it outside of one as well: where is the line drawn and why? If the reason is it ruins personal interactions then am I free and clear if we now live in different states and don't talk? It seems like the standard has to be more universal than that.

When it comes to sexualizing the same kind of questions come up. If a man (or women, gender not really being the point but lets keep to the stereotypes [Smile] ) looks at a pornographic video is he sexualizing the women in it? Seems like they've already been "reduced to a sexual object" long before he decides to follow the link. The argument of being forced to be a male-dominated society or whatever not really being relevant. Or if it is relevant, what if he did it in a way that did not finicaly help anyone out and thus did not increase demand for such videos, is he now off the hook? At least when it comes to sexualizing said women? Is picturing a woman for sexual purposes always inappropriate? Seems like the answer to that is 'no', if she is, say married to you and enjoys sex. Picturing her having sex with you doesn't seem particularly worse than picturing her cooking you dinner if you're hungry. It's not reducing her to a mere cook for you it's just your hungry and you're imagining having a feast when you come home. It's a thought focused on the self but that seems like a pretty high bar to judge people on.

I guess something that confuses me here is what the argument is against EG. Is it that what he did was threatening or what he did was demeaning? I buy the first one a lot easier than the second but I'm not sure there's really been much consensus or distinction here so I'm confused. And by 'buy' the first one I mean I agree, that seems reasonable. As with previous posters I recognize that having never been female I don't have a good grip on what is and isn't a threatening situation with men and am more than willing to believe that this could be one. It's also so far out of the life I lead to proposition a woman at 4:00am in an elevator that .... well I'm willing to believe what I'm told about it's implications. [Smile]

Hobbes [Smile]

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0Megabyte
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Oh, look, I found the study. Yay. Here we go...
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0Megabyte
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Hobbes, this part isn't really related to Elevator Guy.

Certainly what Elevator Guy did was in bad form, and made Watson uncomfortable, and that is sufficient right then and there for the warning "hey, don't do this to me, it makes me uncomfortable." It's also obvious he was trying to hook up with her. I hope he's read this, and realizes what he did was inappropriate.

Is what he did always inappropriate? I'm less certain, but it seems to me that while asking a question like that in a less crowded space and moment is in itself not bad, because why would you want to ask that question in a place where everyone will hear your rejection, doing so in a a place with no ready exit, or is perceived as such, is not wise, either.

In other words, really, you can't read someone's minds and you can't know what will make this particular woman uncomfortable, but you can at least make a reasonable effort to not seem threatening, through either body language or through positioning. If you're going to ask them, ask in a place where there's a clear means of exit, and though you cannot make yourself physically smaller, try to keep the difference in size in mind.

Also, if she's into you, and you're already hitting it off, you're probably fine, even if you make a mistake.

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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
Certainly what Elevator Guy did was in bad form, and made Watson uncomfortable, and that is sufficient right then and there for the warning "hey, don't do this to me, it makes me uncomfortable." It's also obvious he was trying to hook up with her.
I agree with the first, but disagree with second.

He might have been trying to hook up, but he might not have been. That he did both poorly -is- obvious to me.

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Speed
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This whole story just makes me glad I'm out of the dating scene. Man, that was miserable. I mean, I had my share of good times, but I was no stranger to the awkward experience. I certainly never invited any strangers (or friends, for that matter) back to my hotel room for sex. But I'm sure I made the odd unintentional comment that girls later told their friends about in amusement or horror.

I still remember what it felt like to try to work up the nerve to talk to a girl. Sometimes I'd find a good moment, but many times I'd spend all night trying to talk myself into it, and then bail on the idea entirely.

I remember trying to psych myself up to approach someone. I'd tell myself, "come on, the worst she can do is say no, right?" That's what I loved about the '90s. Today I'd have to say, "come on, the worst she can do is use this experience to start an Internet flame war that destroys the career of Richard Dawkins."

Somehow that doesn't seem quite as inspiring.

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Rakeesh
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Heh, Dawkins had help finding up his rep-his own help that is. And it remains to be seen if this will actually 'destroy' him.
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Vadon
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I'm late to the party, but I just wanted to say this thread has been a great read. Also, welcome back, Annie!

ETA: And for my quick two cents on the original topic - I think Annie hit the nail on the head with what was wrong with EG's approach. They were strangers. Without a pre-established relationship between them and given the context (enclosed elevator, after her lectures of the day) it was certainly creepy. Whether he was hitting on RW or not is secondary to the fact that context matters.

As far as what Dawkins said, I think there's an argument to be made about false equivocation with regard to rights violations. That being said, RW was not equivocating her experience with the harms he related. And I certainly don't think that we should ignore less brutal violations of rights just because there are more egregious cases out there.

[ July 23, 2011, 01:51 AM: Message edited by: Vadon ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Annie:
I do think that sexual fantasies of any sort do more harm than good. They take the other person out of what is supposed to be a two-person interaction and get people to expect the unreal and then to confound the unreal with the real. Humans are complex creatures, and our activities are not neat and compartmentalized.

Humans are complex creatures, hard to compartmentalize, and that's one of the reasons why I disagree with all of this. You can't say that sexual fantasies of any sort do more harm than good any more than you can say that it is 'supposed to be a two-person interaction' ó it's just usually a two-person interaction. And plenty of forms of sexual fantasy, self-gratification, etc, are completely healthy.

You can dislike them personally all you like; to insist that the same model is true universally is painting with impossibly broad brushstrokes. Sex-positive feminism and The Ethical Slut would both be good venues for educating yourself on those fronts.

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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
You can dislike them personally all you like; to insist that the same model is true universally is painting with impossibly broad brushstrokes. Sex-positive feminism and The Ethical Slut would both be good venues for educating yourself on those fronts.

Annie is to porn as Ron Lambert is to atheism. Good luck.
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fugu13
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quote:
I do think that sexual fantasies of any sort do more harm than good. They take the other person out of what is supposed to be a two-person interaction and get people to expect the unreal and then to confound the unreal with the real. Humans are complex creatures, and our activities are not neat and compartmentalized.
How do fantasies stop things from being a two person interaction? Say someone fantasizes about having sex in an airplane, and they talk it over with their partner, and the partner says, "sounds like fun, maybe you can dress up as a flight attendant and I'll be a passenger". Where'd that stop being a two person interaction? Where did it stop being anything other than a healthy interplay between two people who love each other? Moving back to fantasies derived from porn, I'm having a hard time distinguishing those from any other source of ideas about sex. Presumably it's okay to discuss sex in a frank and open way with certain people in certain contexts; knowing about sex, including ways people can increase the pleasure they get from sex, is extremely important. What makes fantasies due to porn the objectionable ones but fantasies due to having learned about a new sex position that sounds like fun in another context not objectionable? Unless, of course, you think that finding out in any context about how sex can become better is a bad thing, in which case I would be very sad for you.
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Annie
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My comments are all related to a larger argument I'm in the process of articulating, but I'm still looking for some sources I read years ago to give it the backing I want it to have. So forgive me for being piecemeal, but I'll try to explain what bits of it I can.

quote:
And plenty of forms of sexual fantasy, self-gratification, etc, are completely healthy.

You can dislike them personally all you like; to insist that the same model is true universally is painting with impossibly broad brushstrokes. Sex-positive feminism and The Ethical Slut would both be good venues for educating yourself on those fronts.

I still disagree that they're completely healthy. I'm not going to tell you that they're going to make you go blind, but I disagree that they're healthy to a relationship.

I'm actually aware of many of the sources you suggest. I follow the blog Anti-Porn Feminists. I think the sex-positive crowd does a pretty good job of arguing why porn is anti-woman, but they're still lacking a certain element, which is why I'm trying to write the piece I'm working on.

My basic premise (and it answers some of the questions posed to me) is that there's something wrong with a type of "sex" that men enjoy and women don't. Anal sex is a perfect example. What's wrong with it? Well, how about the fact that it's painful and unpleasant for the woman?

Now is the time to insert whatever anecdotal evidence you like. Plenty of women consensually engage in acts like that, right?

Well, the crux of my argument is that for a woman, sexual satisfaction is different than it is for a man. Recent research (and this is the part I'm still trying to find the source for - I read it a few years ago) suggest that women's orgasms are a lot more related to intimacy and emotional closeness than they are to physical factors. This is why many women will engage in sexual acts that aren't pleasant to them - because to them the approval and love of their partner is a lot more important to their psychological bond than physical enjoyment.

But a relationship suffers when it's based on mutual masturbation rather than sex. This is what fantasies, pornography, and "alternative" sexual practices are all about. It's not "What can I do to make my partner happy," it's "what can I talk my partner into doing for me."

I don't want to get into a lot of personal detail here, but this all began when I was in a relationship with someone who had been addicted to pornography and was trying to overcome it. I was talking to him once after he had been engaged in something that really hurt my feelings. He couldn't comprehend why I was so upset. I told him about the book I had just been reading and how women's sexual attraction was based on trust and emotional intimacy. He didn't understand what I meant. Was I saying we were "in trouble" now because he had apologized and I felt I could trust him again and I was feeling aroused? No, I told him. I was trying to say that I felt absolutely no physical attraction to him at all when he betrayed my trust.

I know you're all giving examples of "non-traditional sex" (what I'd call mutual masturbation or maybe even masturbation with another person in the room) that sound innocuous. But is that really where it stops? Do people really just watch innocent little pornographic videos that show two people in love? Or do they watch increasingly violent and misogynistic depictions and become less and less satisfied with real, loving sex where the object is to please your partner and cement your emotional bond?

Basically, my argument is:

quote:
What makes fantasies due to porn the objectionable ones but fantasies due to having learned about a new sex position that sounds like fun in another context not objectionable?
Because "fantasies" in pornography depict women as submissive, fearful, unreal creatures and they encourage an appetite to hurt, shame and humiliate. I don't know much about the extent of any of this because I have absolutely no desire to ever watch it, but I read research and objections to it and I am aware of the disturbing realities of the world of pornography. It's not about sex; it never was. Sex is a loving expression between two people. Pornography is about power, violence, and hatred.
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Annie
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Oh, and as an aside:

quote:
Sex-positive feminism and The Ethical Slut would both be good venues for educating yourself on those fronts.
Mormons are actually extremely sex-positive. We don't think that sex was the Original Sin, we don't think that our bodies are evil and corrupt and we're pretty sure there's sex in heaven.

Just because I'm not casual-uncommitted-sex-positive, don't assume that I'm not sex-positive.

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Destineer
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Annie, what do you say to the fact that single men who don't masturbate run an increased risk of prostate cancer?
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fugu13
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quote:
But a relationship suffers when it's based on mutual masturbation rather than sex. This is what fantasies, pornography, and "alternative" sexual practices are all about. It's not "What can I do to make my partner happy," it's "what can I talk my partner into doing for me."

What a horrible way of looking at a relationship. Realizing something turns you on and discussing with your partner if it can be reasonably worked into your sex life isn't about "what can I talk my partner into doing for me", it's about having a healthy, mutually respectful relationship. Just as asking your partner to put down the toilet lid isn't about "what ways I can control my partner's toilet behavior". Adults have respectful give and take in all areas of their lives, including sex. What in your construction even allows either partner to suggest a new sex position?

quote:
Just because I'm not casual-uncommitted-sex-positive, don't assume that I'm not sex-positive.
I'm pretty certain that's not the reason anyone might think you aren't sex positive in this thread.
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CT
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quote:
Originally posted by Annie:
Anal sex is a perfect example. What's wrong with it? Well, how about the fact that it's painful and unpleasant for the woman?

Now is the time to insert whatever anecdotal evidence you like. Plenty of women consensually engage in acts like that, right?

Yes, plenty do, and not just with men. Sometimes with other women, just for the pleasure of it, without any thought for men or men's desires.

The world is a really wide and varied place.

quote:
Or do they watch increasingly violent and misogynistic depictions and become less and less satisfied with real, loving sex where the object is to please your partner and cement your emotional bond?
After 10 years of marriage and 3 years of intimacy before that, I still have to say "no" for us.

Again, the world is a wide and varied place. I know at least 3 or 4 friends with experience similar to mine (one of whom has been married over 15 years), and I have spoken as a professional to many others. My experience is that the sort of concern you raise doesn't reflect most people's outcomes at all.

However, I fully support your thinking these issues through for yourself and advocating for your concerns. I like reading your thoughts and listening to what you have to say, Annie.

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Annie
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quote:
I'm pretty certain that's not the reason anyone might think you aren't sex positive in this thread.
Pornography and masturbation are not sex.
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fugu13
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quote:
Pornography and masturbation are not sex.
And you've spoken out against a lot more than pornography and masturbation.
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Annie
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
Annie, what do you say to the fact that single men who don't masturbate run an increased risk of prostate cancer?

Nothing in that study convinces me that you should masturbate or you're going to get cancer.

However, this is also a benefit to getting married and loving your wife.

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