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Valar Qringaomis

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Stereotype of #YesAllWomen

#YesAllWomen in the wake of Elliot Rodger: Why it’s so hard for men to recognize misogyny.

"When women took to Twitter to share their own everyday experiences with men who had reduced them to sexual conquests and threatened them with violence for failing to comply—filing their anecdotes under the hashtag #YesAllWomen—some men joined in to express surprise at these revelations, which amassed more quickly than observers could digest. How can some men manage to appear polite, kind, even “wonderful” in public while perpetuating sexism under the radar of other men’s notice? And how could this dynamic be so obvious to so many women, yet completely foreign to the men in their lives? Some #YesAllWomen contributors suggested that men simply aren’t paying attention to misogyny. Others claimed that they deliberately ignore it. There could also be a performative aspect to this public outpouring of male shock—a man who expresses his own lack of awareness of sexism implicitly absolves himself of his own contributions to it.

But there are other, more insidious hurdles that prevent male bystanders from helping to fight violence against women. Among men, misogyny hides in plain sight, and not just because most men are oblivious to the problem or callous toward its impact. Men who objectify and threaten women often strategically obscure their actions from other men, taking care to harass women when other men aren’t around...

A drunk man stepped right between us... we politely endured him as he dominated our conversation, insisted on hugging me, and talked too long about his obsession with my friend’s hair. I escaped inside, and my friend followed a few minutes later. The guy had asked for her phone number, and she had declined, informing him that she was married and, by the way, her husband was at the party. “Why did I say that? I wouldn’t have been interested in him even if I weren’t married,” she told me. “Being married was, like, the sixth most pressing reason you weren’t into him,” I said. We agreed that she had said this because aggressive men are more likely to defer to another man’s domain than to accept a woman’s autonomous rejection of him...

Another young woman was alone at the bar when an older man scooted next to her. He was aggressive, wasted, and sitting too close, but she smiled curtly at his ramblings and laughed softly at his jokes as she patiently downed her drink. “Why is she humoring him?” my friend asked me. “You would never do that.” I was too embarrassed to say: “Because he looks scary” and “I do it all the time.”

Women who have experienced this can recognize that placating these men is a rational choice, a form of self-defense to protect against setting off an aggressor. But to male bystanders, it often looks like a warm welcome, and that helps to shift blame in the public eye from the harasser and onto his target, who’s failed to respond with the type of masculine bravado that men more easily recognize. Two weeks before the murders, Louis C.K.—who has always recognized pervasive male violence against women in his stand-up—spelled out how this works in an episode of Louie, where he recalls watching a man and a woman walking together on a date. “He goes to kiss her, and she does an amazing thing that women somehow learn how to do—she hugged him very warmly. Men think this is affection, but what this is is a boxing maneuver.” Women “are better at rejecting us than we are,” C.K. said. “They have the skills to reject men in the way that we can then not kill them.”"


While the coping strategies are interesting, a Gramscian analysis would say that women are complicit in their consent, and are thus part of the problem.

Also, it's rich that this is presented as an "all women" problem, considering these are people who are normally against "stereotypes". Some stereotypes (e.g. "male privilege") are evidently more acceptable than others.


"A survey of 10,648 women federal workers by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) in 1980. In the survey, which defined harassment very broadly ('unwanted sexual attention'), about 40 percent of women reported having been harassed within the preceding two years; an update in 1988 reported a rate of 42 percent. Men in the original MSPB study reported harassment rates of about 15 percent"

- Sexual Harassment as an Ethical Issue in Academic Life / Leslie Francis


That is possibly workplace-only sexual harassment, but from other sources:

Statistics – Academic and Community Studies- Stop Street Harassment

"Using a national sample of 12,300 Canadian women ages 18 and older from 1994, sociology professors Ross Macmillan, Annette Nierobisz, and Sandy Welsh studied the impact of street harassment on women’s perceived sense of safety in 2000. During their research, they found that over 80 percent of the women surveyed had experienced male stranger harassment in public...

Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates conducted a nationally representative telephone survey of 612 adult women between June 17 and June 19, 2000. From this survey, they found that almost all women had experienced street harassment: 87 percent of American women between the ages of 18-64 had been harassed by a male stranger; and over one half of them experienced “extreme” harassment including being touched, grabbed, rubbed, brushed or followed by a strange man on the street or other public place...

During the summer of 2003, members of the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team in Chicago surveyed 168 neighborhood girls and young women (most of whom were African American or Latina) ages 10 to 19 about street harassment and interviewed 34 more in focus groups. They published their findings in a report titled “Hey Cutie, Can I Get Your Digits?” Of their respondents, 86 percent had been catcalled on the street, 36 percent said men harassed them daily...

83 percent of women in Tel Aviv reported experiencing street harassment in a study conducted by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality’s committee for advancing the status of women...

In a poll conducted by the Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) Coalition in London, 43 percent of young women ages 18-34 had experienced street harassment just during the past year alone. The total sample size was 1047 adults and the poll was conducted in early March 2012...

France: “Researchers from The National Institute of Statistics and Economics Studies found in a 2013 study that 25% of women aged 18-29 reported being scared when they walked on the streets. They also discovered that 1 in 5 women have suffered from verbal harassment on the street in the past year, and 1 in 10 said they had been kissed or caressed against their consent.”"


What many of the sources do not report (at least according to the summary here) is frequency. It is misleading to say that 99% of women have been sexually harassed if for half of them the incidents took place more than a year ago.

I would say the France and London results are the most telling - only 25-43% of young women experienced street harassment in the past year. Consider that this is the age group most likely to be victims of street harassment (and that the past year is not an especially short period of time) and the frequency of harassment, while significant, is nowhere near as prevalent as what #YesAllWomen would suggest.
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