’43% of young women sexually harassed’


by Sunny Hundal    
1:06 pm - May 25th 2012

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A YouGov survey for the End Violence Against Women Coalition published today reveals that over two in five young women in London aged 18 to 34 have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces over the last year.

The poll of 1,047 London adults, including 523 women, asked female Londoners about their experience, if any, of unwanted contact or attention ? such as, for example, wolf whistling, sexual comments, staring, exposure ? of a sexual nature in public spaces over the last year.

- 42% of women aged 18-34 have experienced unwanted sexual attention of some kind over the past year
- 21% of all women have experienced unwanted sexual attention
- 4% of all women have experienced unwanted sexual touching

The survey also asked female Londoners the same questions about their experience when on public transport in London and again found alarmingly high levels of sexual harassment.

- 31% of women aged 18 to 24 have experienced unwanted sexual attention while on public transport
- 24% of women aged 25 to 34 have experienced unwanted sexual attention
- 14% of all women aged 18 and over have experienced unwanted sexual attention in the past year
- 5% of all women have experienced unwanted sexual touching

EVAW Coalition Co-Chair Professor Liz Kelly said: “We need investment in public campaigns on transport and elsewhere saying this behaviour is unacceptable, and training for transport staff about how to respond to it.”

The responses on Twitter were surprised it was only half

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Chaise Guevara

Depressing, but I’m not sure what could be done about it. Human nature being what it is, I expect you’ll be able to post very similar data in 500 years’ time.

I don’t know, look at the attitudes to domestic violence compared to what they were 50 years ago. There aren’t a lot of people nowadays who would come out and say there is nothing wrong with beating your wife. It’s socially unacceptable, and while paths for women out of abusive relationships are being cut back under the current government (though they did u turn slightly in not immediately defunding all domestic violence charities when they came to power), it’s a lot easier and there’s a lot more support for people escaping violent relationships than there was previously.

Saying its human nature to sexually assault strangers (and that’s what unwanted sexual touching is) and there’s nothing that can be done about it, so lets not bother, is exactly why we have problems in our society.

Yes being glanced at is sexual harassment, end of the world.

4. Chaise Guevara

@ 2 BenM

“I don’t know, look at the attitudes to domestic violence compared to what they were 50 years ago. ”

Fair point, but what mechanism are we proposing to get from here to a better future? Because we can have as many studies and articles as we like, but if all they add up to is us shaking our heads and saying “that’s dreadful”, then they’re a bit pointless.

“Saying its human nature to sexually assault strangers (and that’s what unwanted sexual touching is) and there’s nothing that can be done about it, so lets not bother, is exactly why we have problems in our society.”

I’m not saying that, but looking back I was spectacularly unclear about it. Only 4% of the women surveyed reported sexual assault. The remainder of the figure (which appears to be 42% and 43% simultaneously, going by the article) is made up of a range of actions, some of which are illegal anyway, some of which aren’t illegal and shouldn’t be (staring), some of which I’d say are in a grey area (wolf-whistling).

You can’t reasonably ban everything that might be described as “unwanted sexual attention”. For a start, you’d have just outlawed flirting. So we can’t just litigate this away. Awareness campaigns are a possibility, but I think there are higher priorities, like the ads they’re showing now aimed at stopping people from committing rape without realising it. If that sounds like whataboutery, I suspect that there’s a limit to how many awareness campaigns you can run at one time before people get sick of them.

5. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Segregation is required. Then no-one gets bothered.

6. Peter Stewert

#Ben2
Quite agree, the attitudes and the behaviors that lead to “men” expecting:
* a woman to be grateful for any attention or
* taking silence for consent
are neither innate nor handed down through the generations in the genetic sense.

It is in human nature to be attracted to someone and want to express that attraction, but that is were things are going so badly and frequently wrong.

Considering the god awful number of sex crimes as a whole (and the equally bad police/CPS handling) women loving humans should consider themselves lucky to ever get a positive reaction.

Here is some advice, and insight, I find it helpful to bear in mind:
* Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced
* http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%E2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%E2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

Seems strange to lump exposing with staring, are the figures available seperately?

Quite agree, the attitudes and the behaviors that lead to “men” expecting:
* a woman to be grateful for any attention or*

There is a difference between expecting a person to be grateful for your attention and having the nerve to find out.

“Taking silence for consent”

Takes to much responsibility to say NO does it?

9. Alisdair Cameron

The poll of 1,047 London adults, including 523 women, asked female Londoners about their experience

So what did they ask the 524 non-women about? And what were their responses?

@Chaise Guevara

I actually think a lot of the problems in gender relations are caused by not informing people enough.

If you grow up in our society then from a young age you notice that a woman’s worth is pretty much judged on her looks, you see it on billboards, in magazines, and on TV. Because women are seen as decoration to sell products, or portrayed to reinforce social normative roles (women as mothers in a two parent family, the woman being the cook and any time a man is cooking it being an advert for some sort of laughably simple pour and heat meal) then children growing up, unless they have a family structure that directly contradicts it, will believe that the bodies of attractive women are there as some sort of communal property for men.

This is a pretty complicated issue and I’ve got to go out and do some stuff, if no one else chips in I’ll put together a longer post when I get back.

However dealing with gropers on the underground and various other creepy behaviour and making it socially unacceptable goes a long way to dealing with the problem of rape, because some of the behaviours leading up to it get stamped on heavily and you don’t get an escalation of creepiness to being a full blown sexual predator.

11. Peter Stewert

#8

“There is a difference between expecting a person to be grateful for your attention and having the nerve to find out.”

Yes, they are entirely two separate things. One is a prejudice and the other is a delusion.
Having the guts to act on “long, _shared_, looks”, and on the gathered intel that “she’s broken up with her boyfriend, and you are just the right type” is one thing. Having the cheek to go up to a complete stranger is different again, and not something that happens except when someone is seemingly too horny to control their lust (induced by bloody reefer madness I’m sure).

“Takes to much responsibility to say NO does it?”
Dude it is an implied “NO”. Why should a women have to correct an (at best) selfish immature shit as to the difference between being a private citizen in a public space and being open for the public.

“Yes, they are entirely two separate things. One is a prejudice and the other is a delusion.

Having the guts to act on “long, _shared_, looks”, and on the gathered intel that “she’s broken up with her boyfriend, and you are just the right type” is one thing. Having the cheek to go up to a complete stranger is different again, and not something that happens except when someone is seemingly too horny to control their lust (induced by bloody reefer madness I’m sure).”

Having the guts to act on what again? I did not specify, and that is the major issue with these kinds of surveys, an unwanted glance is tossed in with an unwanted hand contact and heavy sexual harassment. Some women will look at this survey and be shocked the number is so low, they expect it to be 100% of women, because there own definition of harassment can be something as simple as being looked at.

Some women will class a male trying to start a conversation with them in the street as unwanted sexual attention/harassment. These surveys do nothing but create a massive numbers for you lot to throw around and scare the shit out of young women.

The issues are there and they are serious enough all on there own, you do not need to create massive numbers in pumped up surveys to convince the world there are issues..

“Dude it is an implied “NO”. Why should a women have to correct an (at best) selfish immature shit as to the difference between being a private citizen in a public space and being open for the public.”

What is implied? What is the specific situation here?

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 10 Ben

“I actually think a lot of the problems in gender relations are caused by not informing people enough. ”

Kick-starting some empathy is a good idea, certainly.

“If you grow up in our society then from a young age you notice that a woman’s worth is pretty much judged on her looks, you see it on billboards, in magazines, and on TV. Because women are seen as decoration to sell products, or portrayed to reinforce social normative roles (women as mothers in a two parent family, the woman being the cook and any time a man is cooking it being an advert for some sort of laughably simple pour and heat meal) then children growing up, unless they have a family structure that directly contradicts it, will believe that the bodies of attractive women are there as some sort of communal property for men. ”

Okay, for the record I think that this is hyperbole, and that the message got confused somewhere around the point you started talking about family roles. The “women cook” stereotype is insulting to both genders, but I think you’d need a leap of faith to say it leads to sexual assault.

But there is truth in the idea that people partially judge each other on their looks, and that women are judged this way more than men. Whether the tendency to use bikini-clad models to get men to notice ads is a cause or a symptom of this is hard to work out. Probably both. However, it again comes down to “what we should do about this?”

Because I’ve noticed that statements like that above tend to be used to justify some very illiberal policies, where you end up demanding women be made jobless because you don’t approve of their lifestyle choices. I rush to add that this is the general “you” I’m using here: you haven’t said anything like that and I’m not assuming you will.

“However dealing with gropers on the underground and various other creepy behaviour and making it socially unacceptable goes a long way to dealing with the problem of rape, because some of the behaviours leading up to it get stamped on heavily and you don’t get an escalation of creepiness to being a full blown sexual predator.”

Gropers, yes, and I think this is the sort of situation where a “broken windows” policy such as what you’re suggesting can work.

But what do you mean by “dealing with creepy behaviour”? When it comes to being chatted up at the bar, one person’s creep is another person’s hot date. And if this all leads up to a situation where you can be pulled in front of a judge for looking in a non-approved direction, things have gone badly wrong.

If you include “staring”, of course you’ll have sky-high numbers.
Heck, when I am on the tube for 45 minutes and I am bored dead, I’ll also stare at the girl with the long legs or the big boobs. Is that really “harassment”?

@13 Chaise Guevara

‘Okay, for the record I think that this is hyperbole, and that the message got confused somewhere around the point you started talking about family roles. The “women cook” stereotype is insulting to both genders, but I think you’d need a leap of faith to say it leads to sexual assault.’

I was actually using the cooking and caring stereotype to illustrate a normative gender role that hurts both men and women, because society saying to women ‘looking after the family is the woman’s role’ limits the approved role of women to the home (looking at the judgements made by society on women who work, and also on those who look after their children full time if there isn’t a nice middle class family unit involved) but also screws men over because men are seen as providers rather than carers and so when relationships break down with bitterness and recrimination men don’t see their kids that often.

It was an example I gave that was meant to be about societies enforcement of gender roles harms men and women, and was meant to be background to this rather than directly connected in a cooking leads to sexual assault way as you seem to have taken it.

‘But there is truth in the idea that people partially judge each other on their looks, and that women are judged this way more than men. Whether the tendency to use bikini-clad models to get men to notice ads is a cause or a symptom of this is hard to work out. Probably both. However, it again comes down to “what we should do about this?”

Because I’ve noticed that statements like that above tend to be used to justify some very illiberal policies, where you end up demanding women be made jobless because you don’t approve of their lifestyle choices. I rush to add that this is the general “you” I’m using here: you haven’t said anything like that and I’m not assuming you will.’

The use of female flesh to sell products is because the objectification of women makes money. It’s the exploitation of the idea that women’s bodies aren’t really their own but a sort of communal property for men to gawp at. If we raise a generation that aren’t exposed to these norms, by things like parents taking some damn responsibility so that their kids first sex ed lesson isn’t from internet porn, and teaching children to respect each other, to have confidence in themselves, and that relationships are based on mutual trust and love etc etc.

But yeah, some of it is going to be making people very uncomfortable by facing prejudices they don’t admit to themselves that they have. Not necessarily by banning Nuts magazine, but by raising a generation that aren’t so childish that it holds an attraction for them. It would be similar to how wife beating is viewed today, while it does have advocates (the sub Reddit ‘hitting women’ for example, where they discuss the best methods of domestic abuse, how to handle interactions with law enforcement, etc) they don’t come out of the shadows.

I do think banning photo tampering of womens bodies in porn, men and womens magazines would give people a bit more of a realistic view of womens bodies and combat some of the dark shadow fashion magazines cast over the self image women have.

Am I the best person to be discussing this? No, because I’m a man and while I’ve seen how the gender roles society reinforces damages men, and I’ve felt and experienced it, I’ve observed rather than experienced how it affects women.

There may be some feminists who read this website, now would be a great time for one of them to come in.

“The use of female flesh to sell products is because the objectification of women makes money. It’s the exploitation of the idea that women’s bodies aren’t really their own but a sort of communal property for men to gawp at.”

How do you make this connection? Because advertisers use the power of association to influence males into buying products and perceiving them to have more value, women’s body’s aren’t there own…:S

17. Peter Stewert

#12
Well I was trying to heavily hint that you really should have some sort of positive acknowledgement before imposing yourself on a complete stranger. An unwanted conversation is harassment, that is why Police having the power to stop anyone and question them is a big deal, and why despite knowing it is for a good cause we can still get annoyed at being stopped by a charity worker on the high street. If you want to talk to someone you don’t know you should have a good reason, even on the internet, because it is weird (and depending upon how the person behaves, worse than that) to talk with someone that you have no prior relationship with and when you have no reason to suspect they want anything to do with you, hence the implied “No”. Hell, in the UK we’ve even perfected small talk for those situations when you are in a situation with a stranger and it’d be more impolite not to talk to them (and you’d not need three guess for the topic).

And I think, given the people that commissioned the report, you can be assured that the last thing the want is to trivialise sexual harassment and assault [against women]. After all, we don’t think this is trivial and we (hopefully) have little at stake. However, there are people that do want to trivialise sexual harassment, and they are doing it in comments sections (on other sites mind) so it would be helpful to have the actual questions as well as the percentages that resulted.

“Well I was trying to heavily hint that you really should have some sort of positive acknowledgement before imposing yourself on a complete stranger.”

Well yeah but “Men expecting a woman to be grateful for any attention” What is this crap? You really think a groper gives a dam how she will respond? As if that is not bad enough, you now disdain at anyone who steps slightly out side the social norm with there communications and tar them with the same brush?

After all that is what this report does right..

“Unwanted conversation is harassment”

No it is an annoyance or inconvenience and quite simple to end swiftly.

“That is why Police having the power to stop anyone and question them is a big deal,”

No, the police having the power to stop any one is a big deal because the police have authority over everyone and can for no reason violate there privacy by searching them and take away there freedom if they resist.

“And why despite knowing it is for a good cause we can still get annoyed at being stopped by a charity worker on the high street.”

No, the charity person is annoying because they want your money.

“If you want to talk to someone you don’t know you should have a good reason”

In your introverted world perhaps, yet not every one feels thinks or sees the world in the same manner and that’s fine. But lets not start shouting sexual harassment because some one with a different view of the world dared to speak to us eh?

“And I think, given the people that commissioned the report, you can be assured that the last thing the want is to trivialise sexual harassment and assault [against women]. After all, we don’t think this is trivial and we (hopefully) have little at stake. However, there are people that do want to trivialise sexual harassment, and they are doing it in comments sections (on other sites mind) so it would be helpful to have the actual questions as well as the percentages that resulted.”

What you want and the results you get can be two different things.

@16 re

‘How do you make this connection? Because advertisers use the power of association to influence males into buying products and perceiving them to have more value, women’s body’s aren’t there own…:S’

Commercial advertising essentially works in two ways:

- To inform preferences for an existing demand (seen in products that you don’t really have a choice as to whether to buy but a choice of what type to buy, such as washing powder usually based on quality/efficiency/etc).

- To create a perception of need, often through aspirational imagery, often of a sexual nature. This associates possession of women, or attractiveness to women, or a woman’s attractiveness to a man. It’s about the male gaze bestowing worth upon a woman.

The bodies of attractive women are commercialised in ads for men and women’s worth is judged by their ability to attract men in ads targeting women.

There are of course exceptions – Boots portraying men as disorganised man children to be patronised also serves to reinforce the notion of women as the caring organiser, and Boots being a retailer largely of beauty and body related products means it isn’t an accident that their advertising campaign is targeted at giving women a bit of a reach around.

If you expose people to something every single day in every facet of the media it becomes normal to the point where people don’t think about it in the same way a fish wouldn’t think about water, it’s always been there, it’s a fact of life. What I’m talking about is getting some legs on that fish and getting it to crawl onto dry land.

We’ve already seen comments in this thread, number 14 for example, where you have someone who is assessing women based on their body parts. He doesn’t see anything wrong with that, and he probably doesn’t think about it. Are the women he’s staring at on the Underground people to him? No, they’re a collection of body parts there for his gratification.

It’s about changing the attitude of people like him so he sees women as people. Not everyone like that is going to escalate in terms of their behaviour, and sexual assault is so often about power rather than simply sex.

But our culture and the value it places on women, solely on looks, and the harshness with which it judges those who transgress against normative gender roles (the stay at home dad, the non-maternal woman, etc etc), pushes people into roles and says they are natural. Which opens up another can of worms, including people who expect you not to laugh at them when they mention evolutionary psychology.

But this is touching briefly on a lot of very complicated issues. Liberal Conspiracy isn’t a feminist blog, and going by the lack of feminists commenting on this thread and others, not a blog they feel comfortable commenting on.

The media also tend to focus on anti-sex feminists, people like Julie Bindel, to make feminism seem ridiculous. It would be like taking Osama Bin Laden as representative of spoiled trust fund kids…no forget that one, like taking Ted Bundy as representative of all white people, or the Westboro Baptist Church as representative of all Christians, etc. Those people are outliers, and the media tend to portray minority groups disadvantaged by the structures of privilege and power in society as deserving of getting the shitty end of the stick to justify the privilege held by what is generally a bunch of white upper middle class (or in the case of the UK actual aristocrats) in calling the shots. Julie Bindel is rolled out to prove feminists are bigots and if you try to have a reasonable conversation with one all that happens is you get flecks of foam laced spittle on your face, and so women aren’t fit to be treated as equals, or surely they’d find people who aren’t jokes to lead the women’s movement.

I’ve covered an awful lot here, not in any great depth.

For people wanting to find out more, I’d recommend reading up on intersectionality, reading ‘Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics’ by bell hooks, or reading some decent feminist blogs (http://echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.co.uk/ which covers the use of evo psych and things which are basically rolling the turd of prejudice through the glitter of science would be one example).

Growing as a person is about developing empathy for others, and if you can’t walk a mile in their shoes you can pay attention to them telling you what a mile in their shoes feels like.

some of these comments are odd and belie the fact that this doesn’t happen to you and you don’t know what it feels like – to be asked if you’re doing business on your way home from school, to have male strangers expose themselves to you, to have obscene remarks made to you when you’re just going A to B, to have this be routine.

our full press statement is here where you can also download the 6pp yougov data tables:
http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/pages/news.html

it was a survey of 500+ london women of all ages. around 22% of all women respondents experienced unwanted sexual attention (non contact) and/or touching in the last year. the figure is higher for 18-34 year olds, at a staggering 43%. younger women are also more likely to be victims of sexual violence. most of us first experience this stuff as girls.

and to the commenter above who wrote something like “only 4% touched/groped” or similar – check yourself. that’s close to 1 in 20 women, and it’s only the last 12 mths. not that serious if it includes the women in your life?

our full press statement is here:
http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/pages/news.html

you can also download the yougov data tables there.

some of the comments above belie the fact that this doesn’t happen to you – being asked if you’re doing business as you walk home from school, obscene suggestions from total strangers, men exposing themselves, and all of it being routine.

the survey was 500+ london women. around 20% all women reported sexual harassment in last 12 mths; rising to 43% in the 18-34 age group. younger women are also morte likely to be victims of sexual violence.

and whoever posted above something like “only 4% groped” check yourself. that’s nr 1 in 20 in last year.

22. So Much For Subtlety

10. Ben2

If you grow up in our society then from a young age you notice that a woman’s worth is pretty much judged on her looks, you see it on billboards, in magazines, and on TV.

Actually you don’t. You grow up in a society where some women have an unusually free access to the media because of their looks. Not all women.

Because women are seen as decoration to sell products, or portrayed to reinforce social normative roles (women as mothers in a two parent family, the woman being the cook and any time a man is cooking it being an advert for some sort of laughably simple pour and heat meal) then children growing up, unless they have a family structure that directly contradicts it, will believe that the bodies of attractive women are there as some sort of communal property for men.

So because women perform a private and restricted activity, like cooking for their loved ones, this makes them public property? How does that work precisely?

They are not portrayed to reinforce social normative roles. They are portrayed to reflect reality. The reality is that when people cook for their families, it is usually the woman that does so. If there is any reinforcement of normative roles it is in the mockery of men – women making most of the purchasing decisions and so defaming their husbands makes for good advertising.

However dealing with gropers on the underground and various other creepy behaviour and making it socially unacceptable goes a long way to dealing with the problem of rape, because some of the behaviours leading up to it get stamped on heavily and you don’t get an escalation of creepiness to being a full blown sexual predator.

Except for the small fact that these make up a tiny percentage of rapes. Most of which involve two drunken teenagers who may or may not have thought they had or gave consent. By all means, let’s deal with the gropers. But it is absurd to think it will have any impact on society at large.

19. Ben2

The bodies of attractive women are commercialised in ads for men and women’s worth is judged by their ability to attract men in ads targeting women.

Yes but so what? How do you make the connection?

There are of course exceptions – Boots portraying men as disorganised man children to be patronised also serves to reinforce the notion of women as the caring organiser, and Boots being a retailer largely of beauty and body related products means it isn’t an accident that their advertising campaign is targeted at giving women a bit of a reach around.

Ahhh, I see. Even adverts that display contempt for men really work to demean women. You’re taking the piss, right?

We’ve already seen comments in this thread, number 14 for example, where you have someone who is assessing women based on their body parts. He doesn’t see anything wrong with that, and he probably doesn’t think about it. Are the women he’s staring at on the Underground people to him? No, they’re a collection of body parts there for his gratification.

Human beings are sexual animals. We are visually attracted to other women. I don’t see how pointing out the obvious – sexually attractive women are sexually attractive – is anything other than obvious. He did not assess women based on their body parts. He admitted to a behaviour that we all do but that is a little creepy. He did not say they were for him. He said if he was bored he would look at the pretty girls. As everyone does.

It’s about changing the attitude of people like him so he sees women as people. Not everyone like that is going to escalate in terms of their behaviour, and sexual assault is so often about power rather than simply sex.

There is no sign he does not look at them as people. That is your fantasy, not his. I love the smear that he is a rapist waiting to happen. Charming. Sexual assault is never about power rather than sex. Or at least so rarely it can be ignored. Rich powerful older women almost never get raped. Young, pretty, women in their fertile years are disproportionately likely to be raped.

But our culture and the value it places on women, solely on looks, and the harshness with which it judges those who transgress against normative gender roles (the stay at home dad, the non-maternal woman, etc etc), pushes people into roles and says they are natural. Which opens up another can of worms, including people who expect you not to laugh at them when they mention evolutionary psychology.

People say they are natural because by and large they are natural. They also tend to be universal. All over the world men do not stay at home. All over the world women cook for their families. The logical explanation is not that this is a cultural construct – an ideologically based fantasy with zero evidence to back it up – but a biological reality. We have moved ever closer to putting value on women based solely on looks. Which is a shame. But that’s the 60s Sexual Revolution for you.

But this is touching briefly on a lot of very complicated issues. Liberal Conspiracy isn’t a feminist blog, and going by the lack of feminists commenting on this thread and others, not a blog they feel comfortable commenting on.

Any blogs where feminists comment in large numbers? Blogging is a male domain. Again, all over the world.

The media also tend to focus on anti-sex feminists, people like Julie Bindel, to make feminism seem ridiculous.

Because it is. Because they are. At least in their modern forms. The media are not part of some Vast Zionist conspiracy. They report the people who are there. With a tendency for the cheap and easy stories.

Those people are outliers, and the media tend to portray minority groups disadvantaged by the structures of privilege and power in society as deserving of getting the shitty end of the stick to justify the privilege held by what is generally a bunch of white upper middle class (or in the case of the UK actual aristocrats) in calling the shots.

Again with the Vast Zionist Conspiracies. The slightest evidence for this?

Julie Bindel is rolled out to prove feminists are bigots and if you try to have a reasonable conversation with one all that happens is you get flecks of foam laced spittle on your face, and so women aren’t fit to be treated as equals, or surely they’d find people who aren’t jokes to lead the women’s movement.

As opposed to who precisely? Amanda Marcotte? If the media can’t find anyone who isn’t a few sandwiches short of a picnic it is because so few are a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Someone like Germaine Greer has issues. But she is also articulate and available for comment at a moment’s notice. That is why she used to be quoted so often.

Growing as a person is about developing empathy for others, and if you can’t walk a mile in their shoes you can pay attention to them telling you what a mile in their shoes feels like.

Sure. But that empathy has to accept that some, maybe even most, women want to be looked at. They dress to be looked at. That is their intent. Now they may also want those looks to come from George Clooney and not some homeless guy on the Tube, but the purpose is still to be looked at. Until you can grasp that this is a valid purpose you cannot begin to talk sensibly about this.

23. So Much For Subtlety

- 31% of women aged 18 to 24 have experienced unwanted sexual attention while on public transport
- 24% of women aged 25 to 34 have experienced unwanted sexual attention

Am I the only one who finds these figures a little suspect? I mean ignoring the utter idiocy of defining a stare in the same way as some guy whipping his todger out.

If 31% of women experienced unwanted sexual attention while on public transport, by definition, the number of women who experienced unwanted sexual attention must be higher than 31%. Because the second figure means unwanted sexual attention everywhere which includes all those incidents on public transport plus all the other incidents everywhere else. You can’t have an negative incident outside public transport which will reduce the figures.

So either their counting is rubbish or people are not taking the survey seriously and writing down any old rubbish. Maybe both.

- 5% of all women have experienced unwanted sexual touching

This is the figure that matters. This is too high. But even there, you have to ask what they mean. The Tube is crowded. If some man was pushed up against you in the crowd on the Tube and you felt uncomfortable – regardless of his intent – does that count? If so, they need to ask about sexual assault.

The media also tend to focus on anti-sex feminists, people like Julie Bindel, to make feminism seem ridiculous.

Bindel’s generally published by the Guardian, which also offers space to Roz Kaveney, Bidisha, Laurie Penny, Kat Banyard, Suzanne Moore, Joan Smith, Naomi Wolf et cetera ad nauseum. While I think some of these peoples’ ideas are ridiculous I don’t think their employers do and, thus, your conspiracy theory is an unconvincing one.

@22 Ben Six

‘The media also tend to focus on anti-sex feminists, people like Julie Bindel, to make feminism seem ridiculous.

Bindel’s generally published by the Guardian, which also offers space to Roz Kaveney, Bidisha, Laurie Penny, Kat Banyard, Suzanne Moore, Joan Smith, Naomi Wolf et cetera ad nauseum. While I think some of these peoples’ ideas are ridiculous I don’t think their employers do and, thus, your conspiracy theory is an unconvincing one.’

It’s not really a conspiracy theory. The Guardian publish articles on Cif that will get lots of comments and clicks, even if it is literally just trolling the readers with things like ‘Why I hate men’.

I possibly didn’t phrase it well enough. The media loves conflict and extreme reactions because they’re interesting so they give people like Julie Bindel a platform, because between being an anti-sex feminist, a transphobe, having a very poor grasp of statistics, etc she generates lots of comments.

The Guardian has given space to feminists that aren’t weirdos before, but they’ve never broken the golden 1000 comment mark because a couple of hundred people go that they agree and even the Tory trolls don’t bother.

Most of the liberal media in this country don’t bother to give feminism any space at all apart from to mock poorly constructed straw women who are strangely reminiscent of people like Julie Bindel in terms of nutty views.

It’s an effect of how the media frame stories rather than a conspiracy theory. Extremists attract attention.Attention means viewers/clicks/Google ad revenue, which means money.

@ 20

I know you basically come on here to troll people, to harass people like Sue Marsh by ‘just asking questions’ and saying benefits reforms and ATOS is about tackling scroungers and everyone who disagrees with them just wants to scrounge off the taxpayer and to generally shit the place up, but do you ever get tired of what you do and look at your misinterpretations, your arguments in bad faith and your willful ignorance and think that maybe you need to find something better to do with your time. Something that brings something good into the world?

You’re literally comparing acknowledging that our society objectifies women to anti-semitism. Is it possible to deal with bad faith arguments of that magnitude?

Does that not seem like you’re crossing some sort of line regarding decency, even for you?

The media loves conflict and extreme reactions because they’re interesting so they give people like Julie Bindel a platform, because between being an anti-sex feminist, a transphobe, having a very poor grasp of statistics, etc she generates lots of comments.

Ah, well, I’ll agree with that. (See also such Comment is Free classics as “Shakespeare: a bit crap” and “Summer: overrated”.) But that isn’t true of all the writers they promote. Suzanne Moore, Noami Wolfe, Amanda Marcotte and so on are always being published by the Guardian. Laurie Penny has a column in the Independent. The fact that some feminists they publish don’t get as much attention as the controversialists is, I’d guess, more indicative of the public appetite for their writing than the behaviour of their publishers.

28. So Much For Subtlety

24. Ben2

I know you basically come on here to troll people, to harass people like Sue Marsh by ‘just asking questions’ and saying benefits reforms and ATOS is about tackling scroungers and everyone who disagrees with them just wants to scrounge off the taxpayer and to generally shit the place up, but do you ever get tired of what you do and look at your misinterpretations, your arguments in bad faith and your willful ignorance and think that maybe you need to find something better to do with your time. Something that brings something good into the world?

I take it this is just your way of admitting you know you have no case whatsoever?

You’re literally comparing acknowledging that our society objectifies women to anti-semitism. Is it possible to deal with bad faith arguments of that magnitude?

Look up literally. It does not mean what you think it means. But no. You claim that the media is involved in some vast conspiracy. It is therefore sensible to draw attention to the fact you think the media is controlled by some vast – and not even remotely Anti-Semitic – conspiracy. A claim which, I notice, you have now backed away from. Presumably because even you can recognise how stupid it is:

It’s not really a conspiracy theory. The Guardian publish articles on Cif that will get lots of comments and clicks, even if it is literally just trolling the readers with things like ‘Why I hate men’.

I possibly didn’t phrase it well enough.

You phrased it fine. Your content was garbage but your language was clear. So now we can agree that the Guardian is not involved in some vast conspiracy to make feminism look bad – despite your open and clear claims that they were. That they are simply involved in publishing what people want to read. Or at least what they are happy to get outraged about. It is about the clicks, not defaming feminism. With a bit of luck pretty soon you may acknowledge some other obvious forms of reality like the fact that advertisers use pretty girls in their adverts because both men and women like to look at them. Not because they want to cause anorexia.

Does that not seem like you’re crossing some sort of line regarding decency, even for you?

Is this is appeal to stop picking on your argument because you have had enough?

You make a stupid claim about Vast Right Wing conspiracies and someone is going to tell you your claim is stupid. That is a public service.

29. So Much For Subtlety

5. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Segregation is required. Then no-one gets bothered.

If only more girls wore the niqaab, then they would never get stared at. Well, no at their legs anyway. There must be a sensible middle ground. Yes, people ought to behave in a civilised manner. Which means not staring too obviously at women. On the other hand perhaps girls should dress more conservatively without going the full ninja outfit. All this is a bit bizarre. Does anyone really think that girls getting stared at on the Tube is even within the Top 100 issues we have to deal with in the UK right now? As with so much else, Britain is actually hugely polite when it comes to these things. Try it anywhere else.

Peter Stewert

Quite agree, the attitudes and the behaviors that lead to “men” expecting:
* a woman to be grateful for any attention or
* taking silence for consent
are neither innate nor handed down through the generations in the genetic sense.

I am unconvinced. I think there may well be a genetic cause for one and perhaps both. Certainly women like confidence. They reward men who think women should be grateful for any attention. You try crawling up to a girl and implicitly tell her you are lucky that she deigns to speak to you and see how far you get. Again this seems universal. You start from the position that a woman is lucky to be talking to you and she will tend to agree. Even if two minutes thought would tell her she isn’t.

If anything evolutionary psychology tells us is true, and that is open to debate, it is that sperm is cheap and eggs are expensive. Which means girls should be tougher at screening men than men are at screening women. It also tells us that paternity is not guaranteed in the way that maternity is. Men can’t be sure who is the father of their girlfriends’ children. Which suggests men ought to have evolved to value an unwillingness to even talk with strange men. And even more the ability to tell men, firmly, when they aren’t. Which suggests that crippling shyness with men she is thinking about ought to be sexually attractive to men. Hence that silence can easily be consent.

Considering the god awful number of sex crimes as a whole (and the equally bad police/CPS handling) women loving humans should consider themselves lucky to ever get a positive reaction.

And yet they aren’t lucky. They will get such a response. Don’t date a lot do you?

@SMFS

It isn’t that my argument is weak, it’s that there are no common points of reference.

You’re bringing up evolutionary psychology, which is something which isn’t in any way scientific, as if it proves anything apart from people are trying to say gender roles in the 21st century are the product of evolution, not society, and so the status quo is the natural order of things.

If you don’t accept anything needs to be changed or improved or people need to examine their prejudices, aren’t open to being persuaded by argument, and just don’t accept that there is a justification for feminism then what is the point of engaging with you? It’s literally feeding a troll, derailing productive discussion that could lead to people thinking about things, maybe picking up a book, maybe discussing it with someone or reviewing their own lives, maybe thinking about ways they can become a better person.

This was a reasonable thread before you came along and people were discussing things in an amicable manner. I realise it may be your job to ruin online debate for other people or you may just do this sort of thing for fun, and you may well not live in the UK (unless you can’t sleep either) and have no actual interest in whether our society improves or deteriorates, but you could try making a positive contribution.

Suggest a way that whatever country you live in, or the UK if you do live here or just don’t want to say where you are, could be made a place where women feel safer and are safer (particularly on public transport, as reported sexual assaults on the railway and at train stations have risen though crime on the railway as a whole has dropped, though it hasn’t been determined if this change is due to less reporting or an actual drop).

Make a positive contribution.

I’d recommend people give this blog entry a read

http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%E2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%E2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

It is written by a woman about being approached by strange men, and should help you see things from a woman’s point of view.

And if you can’t be bothered to read it or don’t feel you need to see things from a woman’s point of view, well that pretty neatly illustrates your problem right there.

@ Ben 2

But yeah, some of it is going to be making people very uncomfortable by facing prejudices they don’t admit to themselves that they have. Not necessarily by banning Nuts magazine, but by raising a generation that aren’t so childish that it holds an attraction for them.

Excellent idea.

But we are not talking about people facing their own prejudices. We are talking about the male sexual drive- a fundamental human characteristic. So how do you propose to achieve your objective of raising a generation of boys who aren’t interested in women as sexual objects?

Bromide or castration?

It really is amusing when authoritarian idealists try to rearrange the world as they believe it should be and see them thwarted every time a man looks at a pair of breasts.

And the notion that most women do not find attracting sexual attention desirable is rather undermined by the massive fashion and cosmetic industries that have grown up to help them do it.

On the basis that, inevitably, a proportion of the sexual interest they attract will not be reciprocated, that attention could be described as unwanted. Indeed, I often have to fight off the attentions of ugly women!!!

You are welcome to describe such unwanted attention as harassment and condemn it if you like, but you can never prevent it.

Nor should you try.

Sexual drives are perfectly natural, what I’m talking about is changing things so women are respected as people.

Try reading the blog entry I posted and have a think about it.

34. So Much For Subtlety

28. Ben2

It isn’t that my argument is weak, it’s that there are no common points of reference.

On the contrary. You made a series of claims that can be shown to be factually true or not. I don’t know how far down the po-mo rabbit hole you have gone, what sounds like heavy duty Women’s Studies suggests quite some way, but it ought to be possible to have a sensible discussion about those. As we have been given you have now given up your claim the media is part of some Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

You’re bringing up evolutionary psychology, which is something which isn’t in any way scientific, as if it proves anything apart from people are trying to say gender roles in the 21st century are the product of evolution, not society, and so the status quo is the natural order of things.

That is not what people are using evo-psy for. You ought to read some. They are making it clear that gender roles in the 21st century are very unnatural indeed. Well some of them. It is vastly more scientific that Women’s Studies or the usual Social Science Orthodoxy of the Blank Slate. Or anything approaching it. It is more scientific than the Seville Statement on Violence. You can test it. You can make predictions. And by and large it is looking rather strong.

If you don’t accept anything needs to be changed or improved or people need to examine their prejudices, aren’t open to being persuaded by argument, and just don’t accept that there is a justification for feminism then what is the point of engaging with you?

This is your fantasy speaking again. Because you can’t convince me, doesn’t mean I am not open to argument. It means your arguments are rubbish. Work on it.

This was a reasonable thread before you came along and people were discussing things in an amicable manner.

People are no more or less amicable now. Apart from your attempts at insults. Besides, someone accused that German guy of working his way up to being a rapist. Hardly amicable. Oh wait, that would have been you wouldn’t it? What you mean is that everyone more or less agreed with you. That is not what amicable means.

Suggest a way that whatever country you live in, or the UK if you do live here or just don’t want to say where you are, could be made a place where women feel safer and are safer (particularly on public transport, as reported sexual assaults on the railway and at train stations have risen though crime on the railway as a whole has dropped, though it hasn’t been determined if this change is due to less reporting or an actual drop).

How? Britain is hugely safe for women. We should try to make it safer. But how to do it? Lying through false surveys is not going to help. Distorting the debate through misleading statistics is not going to help. Nor is the dogmatic assertion of unscientific quasi-theological beliefs which you seem to think it is immoral to even challenge. I am contributing.

Ben2

And if you can’t be bothered to read it or don’t feel you need to see things from a woman’s point of view, well that pretty neatly illustrates your problem right there.

Except what on Earth makes you think this woman speaks for most or even a significant minority of women? You want to know what women want? Talk to them. Approach them. The less you get maced the more you will have figured it out. The truth is there is no uniform “women’s point of view”. Women are actually individuals. Some of them like it when men chat to them. Some do not. Depending on the man.

I have read the blog post and my conclusion is that it is written by a radical, man hating feminist with a bad case of penis envy. Fortunately for most heterosexual men, most heterosexual women do not view every man they meet as a potential rapist.

Perhaps you would argue that they should?

As I said above, humanity steadfastly refuses to fit into the politically correct, Fabian boxes that you think it should.

And I think that’s wonderful……….

Yes, I’m fed up with these politically correct boxes too. Why can’t we grow up and accept all men are obsessed with sex and are unable to control their actions.

SMFS do you have any backing that this is a ‘false survey’ filled out by ‘lying’ respondents?

37. So Much For Subtlety

33. pagar

I have read the blog post and my conclusion is that it is written by a radical, man hating feminist with a bad case of penis envy. Fortunately for most heterosexual men, most heterosexual women do not view every man they meet as a potential rapist.

Actually I read it and did not think it was too bad. Apart from the delusional views about rape. Perhaps one in six women is sexually assaulted. If you define sexual assault as a wolf whistle. But while rape is a type of sexual assault, not all sexual assaults are rapes. Thus it is not true that her Gym is full of rapists.

However let’s apply her test to public transport. If I am riding the horror that is the Hammersmith & City line at 8:30 in the morning on a normal working day, the chances that I or anyone else is going to physically man handle a girl much less rape her is nil. London is not quite that bad. Yet. At 2 AM? Perhaps so on some other services. Out in the suburbs. So I ought to feel free to chat to her right? Somehow I doubt it.

Perhaps this is the same woman who went to some Geek convention and felt free to blog to the whole world her horror because one the said Geeks summoned up the courage to speak to her in a lift?

Conby

SMFS do you have any backing that this is a ‘false survey’ filled out by ‘lying’ respondents?

I did not call this a false survey and I did not say anyone was lying. I have already made my objections to this survey known – as you can see if you go up to the first comment I made.

“I am unconvinced. I think there may well be a genetic cause for one and perhaps both. Certainly women like confidence. They reward men who think women should be grateful for any attention. You try crawling up to a girl and implicitly tell her you are lucky that she deigns to speak to you and see how far you get. Again this seems universal. You start from the position that a woman is lucky to be talking to you and she will tend to agree. Even if two minutes thought would tell her she isn’t.”

So Much For Subtlety I have called you some nasty things in the past but I really respect your ability to get the point across so well. I swear to god some people view every women as an innocent sweet child of which any contact from a man is nothing but contaminating her sweet innocence. They don’t understand the flow of communication and totally ignore biological and instinctual behaviour, from the reasons women dress as they do, to why they are looked at, even to the structure of the family that was crucial to the survival of the species.

Often these people, mortified at what’s natural, are the driving force behind studies and campaigns etc, it really does no good.

39. Chaise Guevara

@ 15 Ben2

“It was an example I gave that was meant to be about societies enforcement of gender roles harms men and women, and was meant to be background to this rather than directly connected in a cooking leads to sexual assault way as you seem to have taken it. ”

Fair enough. Valid point, then.

“The use of female flesh to sell products is because the objectification of women makes money. It’s the exploitation of the idea that women’s bodies aren’t really their own but a sort of communal property for men to gawp at.”

I have to say that I’ve never followed this logic, or at least never seen why it seems to receive special status. If I’m a labourer (say) whose helps build houses using strong upper-body stength, does that mean that my arms have become “a communal property for people to exploit so they have somewhere to live”? It seems that commercialisation of sex or sexiness in women is “objectification”, but no other form of commercialisation of someone’s physical properties gets this label.

Women in men’s mags get paid; the way you present it makes it sound like slavery.

“If we raise a generation that aren’t exposed to these norms, by things like parents taking some damn responsibility so that their kids first sex ed lesson isn’t from internet porn, and teaching children to respect each other, to have confidence in themselves, and that relationships are based on mutual trust and love etc etc. ”

This is a better idea than most I’ve heard on the subject. Although I’m unconvinced how effective it would be (and I do mean unconvinced; I think it’s possible it would work and would support a reasonable attempt to try it out). My main reason for this is that, until recently, society was very prudish about sex, yet those attitudes were still there.

“I do think banning photo tampering of womens bodies in porn, men and womens magazines would give people a bit more of a realistic view of womens bodies and combat some of the dark shadow fashion magazines cast over the self image women have. ”

There are practical problems with this, mainly in legislating for the difference between “adjusting the picture tone so it looks professional” and “adjusting the picture tone so the woman looks like she has a perfect tan”. And then you get people who want things airbrushed out of their own pictures not because they want to be the epitome of sexiness, but because they’re embarrassed by what they think is an unsightly birthmark or similar. We could say that they shouldn’t accept society’s ideals of beauty, but that doesn’t mean we should go out of our way to make them unhappy.

“Am I the best person to be discussing this? No, because I’m a man and while I’ve seen how the gender roles society reinforces damages men, and I’ve felt and experienced it, I’ve observed rather than experienced how it affects women. ”

Oh gawds, please don’t do this. It’s bad enough when people ad hom each other, worse when people actively demand to be ad hommed.

40. Chaise Guevara

@ 34 Conby

“Yes, I’m fed up with these politically correct boxes too. Why can’t we grow up and accept all men are obsessed with sex and are unable to control their actions.”

I really hope that was intended as a satire of pagar’s position, rather than as a serious statement. Cos otherwise you need to get a grip on reality instead of letting your thinking be guided by daft platitudes like “men only care about one thing” and “men think about sex every seven seconds, according to some psychic researcher”.

@ Chaise

Why can’t we grow up and accept all men are obsessed with sex and are unable to control their actions.

Not my position at all, mate.

My position is opposed to the obvious lunacy of those, like Ben2, who argue that heterosexual men should get erections in direct proportion to a woman’s intelligence, wit and personality rather than as response to her physical attributes.

My position is wry amusement when they rail against the unfairness of this obvious flaw in the grand design of our creator and disbelief that they believe they can change the situation by preaching to us.

-

ITT: men dismissing the views of women

44. Dissident

stating the obvious here, but every single friend or acquaitance, even shock horror partner was at some point a total stranger. If a man approaching a woman was automatically defined as harrasment, our species wouldn’t have got very far. Something else to note, I do long distance cycling, which means I sometimes wear skin tight lycra that leaves very little to the imagination. Guess what, I am stared at openly by many, many women… The thought in my head is “yeah, yeah, I’m wearing lycra” or “Hello, I am 1 metre higher than that!!!” It is annoying to be objectified, but I forget about it, because they are usually past me pretty quickly anyway…

45. Chaise Guevara

@ 41 Pagar

“Not my position at all, mate.”

I know – I thought whatsisface above was trying to present the opposite of your position to satirise you. Oh, and I think you’re making a lot of sense on this thread – I never said it was *good* satire!

@43 Welcome to liberal conspiracy.

43/46: The number of people making arguments that come down to one or more of these, in preference to listening to those actually affected, never surprises me, though it does get tiring nevertheless:
a) Men are as a general rule too stupid to tell the difference between unwanted and wanted sexual attention. Anyone who says otherwise plans to doom the species. After all, if I can’t tell the difference, then there isn’t a difference, so banning unwanted sexual attention must mean banning all sexual activity whatsoever.
b) What do you mean no-one suggested banning it. Making it socially unacceptable to harass women is basically the same as arresting any man who looks at a woman.
c) Look, if women didn’t want to receive sexual attention, they should barricade themselves inside a fortress and not let anyone in.
d) But mammoths! Hunter-gatherers! People behave like this now, so they must have behaved like this in the Stone Age, which is why they behave like this now!

39/Chaise: “Oh gawds, please don’t do this.”

I’m not sure why you’d consider it an ad hom to note that someone with no direct personal experience of X is less able to speak authoritatively about the personal effects of X than someone who has that experience. The point is that – unlike an ad hom – the difference in personal circumstances is really quite relevant. I think you’re probably either misinterpreting Ben2 or being rather optimistic about the capacity of people not to view other’s lives through the lens of their own. (But, of course, being neither you nor Ben2, I could be wrong…)

48. Chaise Guevara

@ 47 cim

“I’m not sure why you’d consider it an ad hom to note that someone with no direct personal experience of X is less able to speak authoritatively about the personal effects of X than someone who has that experience.”

That would still be an ad hom, just a justified one – appealing to an authority in the lack of conclusive evidence.

Authority may justify giving someone the benefit of the doubt on a *factual* disagreement (if an evolutionary biologist and a non-scientist are arguing about how evolution works, I’ll presume the former is correct) but it doesn’t mean we have to follow their *moral* opinions (if the biologist uses evolution as the basis for supporting eugenics, I don’t have to agree with him simply because it’s his field).

Ben’s exact meaning is unclear, but it seems like he’s saying we men should bow to any female opinion on the topic, just as Rachel @43 seems to be demanding (“dismissing X’s views”, in my experience, tends to be code for “not automatically agreeing with X”). This is unreasonable, not to mention the fact that there will be more than one female opinion – should we just nod along with whichever woman is in the room at the time?

49. Shatterface

I do think banning photo tampering of womens bodies in porn, men and womens magazines would give people a bit more of a realistic view of womens bodies and combat some of the dark shadow fashion magazines cast over the self image women have.

I think you might be missing the point of porn, which is essentially a fantasy aid to masturbation – and my extensive research suggests that the image of men in pornography is no less fantastic. Waxed chests, rippling muscles, enormous dongs? I mean I’m lucky, but I’ve got to feel sorry for the rest of my sex who don’t match up.

And you are conflating the body images of porn with fashion magazines. The former is generally aimed at men, and usually features curved figures, while the latter emaciated and potentially more harmful figures are the product of women for the consumption of women.

You can’t claim that the image of women in porn is more harmful because women aren’t, in general, consuming that image; men are but we don’t seem to be suffering ill effects of watching more attractive men outperforming us.

50. Shatterface

Incidentally, the responses to Sunny’s tweets (does he ever do anything else) demonstrate that the problem of harrassment – while severe – is also massively over-estimated:

@sunny_hundal the only #wtf about it is that the survey results weren’t 9/10. It literally happens to every woman.

An interesting use of the word ‘literally’ there…

@sunny_hundal I am honestly surprised that it’s only half.

Etc.

@48 there’s a difference between mindlessly agreeing with whatever woman in in the discussion and listening to women’s experiences in and around street harrassment. “Dismissing women’s experiences” usually means men shouting a lot about how they don’t treat women that way and women who complain are over sensitive or “man haters” . Like it or not but the way women are made to feel about street harrassment is one of the most important aspects of this discussion

48/Chaise: This is unreasonable, not to mention the fact that there will be more than one female opinion – should we just nod along with whichever woman is in the room at the time?

Obviously. But I’m talking at least marginally less generally than that, and I read Ben as doing the same. There’s a common tendency in this sort of discussion for women to say “sexual harassment is a problem for us” and then for there to be men who say “I don’t think it’s a problem” or similar … and that makes no sense. They can’t reasonably dispute that there is a problem. They can dispute the scale of the problem, or whether it’s an important problem to deal with, or how best to deal with it, or whatever, but disputing its existence is basically a declaration that they know better than the person with personal experience what they experienced and how they should feel about it, which makes no sense at all.

So I read it as Ben, not having personally experienced the issues here, acknowledging that their thoughts on the matter will be biased by that and that someone with personal experience of the issues would be a better person to ask.

pagar/35: Fortunately for most heterosexual men, most heterosexual women do not view every man they meet as a potential rapist.

You’re horribly misinterpreting the word “potential” there. The post points out a number of fairly obvious facts:
1) A minority of men are rapists. A large enough minority that you will meet some.
2) Rapists are not distinguishable from non-rapists by giant neon signs or other obvious markings.
3) The personal consequences of interacting with a rapist can be really severe.
4) Therefore, men should not expect to be automatically initially categorised as “not a rapist”, especially not if they behave in ways that are typical behaviours of rapists.

I’m not sure how you could consider any of this to be “man hating”.

There’s a pretty big difference between “potentially, in the absence of strong evidence either way, man X might be a rapist” (which as statements of the obvious go is pretty unarguable), which is what the post says, and “all men are of the character that they might potentially personally commit rape” which is not at all what’s being argued (at least not by that writer – there are plenty of people who argue that a literally uncontrollable sex drive is a characteristic of men in general, but they are generally not called “man hating”)

there are plenty of people who argue that a literally uncontrollable sex drive is a characteristic of men in general, but they are generally not called “man hating”

In the instance of burqa proponents they’re even called “women hating” rather than “man hating”!

54. Chaise Guevara

@ 51 Rachel

“there’s a difference between mindlessly agreeing with whatever woman in in the discussion and listening to women’s experiences in and around street harrassment. “Dismissing women’s experiences” usually means men shouting a lot about how they don’t treat women that way and women who complain are over sensitive or “man haters” . Like it or not but the way women are made to feel about street harrassment is one of the most important aspects of this discussion”

Fair enough; because your comment was a bit of a drive-by, and didn’t reference anyone else’s comments, it came off (to me at least) as the classic “a man is disagreeing with a woman on a feminism-related topic, therefore he is wrong”. We get a fair bit of that here. If you didn’t meant that, then no argument from me.

55. Chaise Guevara

@ 52 cim

“Obviously. But I’m talking at least marginally less generally than that, and I read Ben as doing the same. There’s a common tendency in this sort of discussion for women to say “sexual harassment is a problem for us” and then for there to be men who say “I don’t think it’s a problem” or similar … and that makes no sense. They can’t reasonably dispute that there is a problem. They can dispute the scale of the problem, or whether it’s an important problem to deal with, or how best to deal with it, or whatever, but disputing its existence is basically a declaration that they know better than the person with personal experience what they experienced and how they should feel about it, which makes no sense at all.”

Sure, I’ve seen that happen. As a general rule people tend to downplay the negative effects of something that hasn’t happened to them and probably never will.

“So I read it as Ben, not having personally experienced the issues here, acknowledging that their thoughts on the matter will be biased by that and that someone with personal experience of the issues would be a better person to ask.”

It’s something that cuts both ways. You know, the old “you don’t know what you’re talking about” vs “you’re too close to the issue” thing. And there are people who will try to make a bigger deal out of this sort of thing than it is – not saying that it isn’t a big deal to begin with, but some people will try to make out that low-level harrassment is on the same level as assault. So I’m sort of on guard against someone coming on here and saying “being wolf-whistled ruins lives, we should institute a five-year jail term for it, and if you’ve never been wolf-whistled you aren’t entitled to an opinion”. Feminism has its crazies just like every other philosophy that people feel strongly about.

56. So Much For Subtlety

47. cim

a) Men are as a general rule too stupid to tell the difference between unwanted and wanted sexual attention. Anyone who says otherwise plans to doom the species. After all, if I can’t tell the difference, then there isn’t a difference, so banning unwanted sexual attention must mean banning all sexual activity whatsoever.

I don’t think men are too stupid. But I think every interaction starts out as unwanted. Women by and large do not pursue men. Men pursue women. Now if the man doing the pursuing turns out to be a homeless guy, it is probably going to be unwanted. If it is George Clooney interrupting her morning read on the Tiube, less so. The problem for most men is that they fall into neither extreme. They have a chance. It could go either way. They won’t know until they try. I doubt if anyone thinks this is a real problem. The problem comes with those that are slow on the uptake and continue to think they have a chance when Elvis has left the building. That is just annoying for the woman concerned. But I doubt it is a major problem in Western civilisation.

b) What do you mean no-one suggested banning it. Making it socially unacceptable to harass women is basically the same as arresting any man who looks at a woman.

Baby steps. The problem is that the people complaining about this now are not that far off calling for men to be arrested for looking at a woman. Seriously. That woman who went to some geek-fest and freaked out because one of them talked to her in a lift did use the word “rape” I believe. You can see the way that speech codes and other forms of sexual regulation is going in the US, especially on campuses.

c) Look, if women didn’t want to receive sexual attention, they should barricade themselves inside a fortress and not let anyone in.

Pretty much the only way they won’t. But the point is most women quite like a little sexual attention. Most men quite like giving it a go. The species would not have survived so long otherwise. The problem is how to regulate it.

d) But mammoths! Hunter-gatherers! People behave like this now, so they must have behaved like this in the Stone Age, which is why they behave like this now!

Amusing.

57. So Much For Subtlety

cim

You’re horribly misinterpreting the word “potential” there. The post points out a number of fairly obvious facts:
1) A minority of men are rapists. A large enough minority that you will meet some.
2) Rapists are not distinguishable from non-rapists by giant neon signs or other obvious markings.
3) The personal consequences of interacting with a rapist can be really severe.
4) Therefore, men should not expect to be automatically initially categorised as “not a rapist”, especially not if they behave in ways that are typical behaviours of rapists.

I’m not sure how you could consider any of this to be “man hating”.

Let’s see if this passes the common sense test:

1. A minority of Black men are muggers. A large enough minority that you will meet some. And incidentally a larger minority than men in general who are rapists.
2. Black muggers are not distinguishable from Black non-muggers by giant neon signs or other obvious markings.
3. The personal consequences of interacting with a Black mugger can be really severe.
4. Therefore Black men should not expect to be treated as a normal law abiding citizen, especially if they behave in ways that are typical behaviours of Black muggers.

Hmm. I would say anyone who said that would be a racist, don’t you? I mean the first three points are, you know, true. The fourth? Less so. But if you think it is true, then by all means, I look forward to our next discussion on Stop and Search. Or trial by Jury for that matter.

As it happens the first two claims are probably not true of rapists. You will likely go through your whole life without meeting a rapist. Rapists often have deep emotional problems and as such are recognisable. But given the tiny number of men who are rapists and the fact that women are exceptionally safe in the UK, it seems unreasonable to treat all men as if they were rapists until proven otherwise. At least not more than we do already. But if you’re fine with BMEs being treated that way, I suppose I can live with it.

55/Chaise: So I’m sort of on guard against someone coming on here and saying “being wolf-whistled ruins lives, we should institute a five-year jail term for it, and if you’ve never been wolf-whistled you aren’t entitled to an opinion”.

Sure – but there’s often responses assuming extreme things like that have been proposed when no-one’s suggested anything of the sort. So far we have from the original post:
– an awareness campaign
– better training for transport staff
I can’t see anyone from the “sexual harassment is bad” side suggesting anything more extreme in the comments, either, though I suppose I may have missed one. The original post doesn’t even suggest stronger enforcement of the existing laws against sexual assault and exposure, though commenters do.

Conversely, commenters are reacting as if the suggestions were:
– castration
– imprisonment
– trained armadillos roaming the tube summarily executing any man who looks at a woman

Reacting as if entirely reasonable suggestions are the same as something that a (possibly imaginary or fictional) feminist may once have said somewhere else is a pretty convenient excuse, though. It’d be like responding to that post in praise of PMQs by saying “Look, if we let anyone in the world ask the Prime Minister a question requiring an immediate answer he would be dead of sleep deprivation within the week and the government would collapse. We can’t go down that road.”
(In some ways, I will be disappointed if one of LC’s resident trolls hasn’t already said that, but I can’t be bothered to check…)

59. Chaise Guevara

@ 58 cim

Yeah, the hysteria’s on both sides. I think what’s triggering the hostility here is that we’ve got a study that drops “staring” into the same category as flashing and indecent comments, apparently in an attempt to boost the stats. I agree that the comments thus far on what you’re calling the “sexual harrassment is bad” side (and to be fair I can’t see a “sexual harrassment is fine” presence) are pretty reasonable. LC’s actually got better on this score lately, no idea why.

60. the a&e charge nurse

[58] an awareness campaign would require public money – in the current climate one has to ask would such a campaign provide value for money, and not only that what cuts would be recommended to accommodate this new area of expenditure?

Additionally ‘awareness campaigns’ should be evidence based – in other words the anticipated benefits of such a campaign should be made explicit and subject to measurement (e.g wolf whistling down by 5%, etc).

As always those in need of certain kinds of awareness are often the ones most resistant to the message – there’s no point in wasting money if the only outcome from such expenditure is to create an appearance of being seen to do something.

It goes without saying that a poster, say, containing missives about unwanted male attention must be offset against against the constant stream of messages from other media – as I see it, any awareness campaign might have to extend far beyond a few posters on the underground to newspapers, magazines, TV, the internet, and all the other outlets where entirely different signals are given about male/female interactions.

61. the a&e charge nurse

[58] incidentally, should awareness be aimed at females who feed stereotypes about male perceptions of the sort of attention they think some women are inviting?
http://teakdoor.com/Gallery/albums/userpics/10615/katie_price_black_bikini.JPG

62. Chaise Guevara

@ 61 a&e

“incidentally, should awareness be aimed at females who feed stereotypes about male perceptions of the sort of attention they think some women are inviting?”

I don’t think a campaign telling women to put some clothes on is really the way forward…

63. the a&e charge nurse

[62] ‘I don’t think a campaign telling women to put some clothes on is really the way forward… ‘ – perhaps not, but isn’t there a danger of mixed messages should Katie’s latest magnum opus appear next to a ‘do not harass women’ poster?

One poster could be accused of inviting wolf whistles while the other portrays a cohort of men as sexual predators – I mean how do we reconcile two diametrically opposed representations of sexuality without causing some degree of confusion?

64. Chaise Guevara

@ 63 a&e

Well, we could start with “the fact that a woman is scantily clad does not excuse harrassment”.

Personally I feel any awareness campaign should focus on more serious harassment anyway.

60/a&e: Personally I think that the extra staff training is likely to be the far more effective part of the solution, but a few posters on tube trains is hardly going to break the bank. (And yes, clearly any success or failure of attempts should be monitored. There are enough tube lines in London that one could even do a semi-controlled experiment by trying different approaches on different lines)

59/Chaise: and to be fair I can’t see a “sexual harrassment is fine” presence

But there is a fair amount of “is natural and unavoidable”, which shares with the “is fine” group a dislike of attempts to change it.

I think what’s triggering the hostility here is that we’ve got a study that drops “staring” into the same category as flashing and indecent comments, apparently in an attempt to boost the stats.

Hmm. The problem is that staring in a sexual way on public transport can be pretty hostile and intimidating in its own right – especially, I expect, for people who have been subjected to worse behaviour like the flashing, comments and sexual assault – is this person just staring, or will they do other things too? (It’s also presumably considerably more commonplace, and obviously taken less seriously as “causing a hostile environment”, so that can increase its personal impact because there may be nothing the person being stared at feels they can do about it)

That’s not, to me, about boosting the stats, but about making sure the entire spectrum of hostile behaviour is recorded.

66. the a&e charge nurse

[64] “Well, we could start with “the fact that a woman is scantily clad does not excuse harrassment” – I’m sure we can all agree as a starting point that less harrassment would be a very welcome development, but rather like wanting unruly children to behave more reasonably the real question is not so much agreeing about the objective, but how to bring about effective change.

I agree that suggestive advertising images, or indeed porn stars indulging in explicit sex does not ‘excuse’ harrassment – but as you know I made no claim that it did, rather the fact such images can muddy the water when it comes to male perceptions about what men think women want.

Put simply a public information poster asking men not to leer at women is always at risk of being undermined by conflicting messages depicting female sexuality as confirming to male fantasies about appearance and availability.

67. Chaise Guevara

@ 65 cim

“But there is a fair amount of “is natural and unavoidable”, which shares with the “is fine” group a dislike of attempts to change it.”

True.

“Hmm. The problem is that staring in a sexual way on public transport can be pretty hostile and intimidating in its own right”

Yeah, but for me it’s more an issue of what we can and can’t litigate for. Not to mention that “staring” is pretty ambiguous and can easily be based on misinterpretation (many is the time I’ve glanced in some direction, met the eye of a young woman who happened to glance in my direction at the same time and thought “great, now she probably thinks I was staring at her”).

“That’s not, to me, about boosting the stats, but about making sure the entire spectrum of hostile behaviour is recorded.”

Two problems, though. First, it renders the stats unreliable, for reasons mentioned above. Second, if you post a title stat about how many people have been harassed, and then readers find that for an unknown portion of those people, “harassed” means “looked at in a way that I personally deemed to be pervy”, you’re setting yourself up for a cynical backlash.

And, trivially, it doesn’t help that Sunny once again decided to illustrate this story with his prized picture of Attractive Woman Hugging A Pillow And Looking Sad.

68. Chaise Guevara

@ 66 a&e

Fair points, and I’m not sure how to reconcile the issues, given that I’m not in favour of puritanical laws on publically visible images.

Yeah, but for me it’s more an issue of what we can and can’t litigate for.

Well, I’m not sure that anyone’s suggesting that the low-end behaviours necessarily need to be made illegal – just unacceptable. (From having read accounts from people who have been aggressively looked at on the tube, I think you don’t need to worry that your glancing around will be read as such. The difference is pretty obvious…)

you’re setting yourself up for a cynical backlash.

Well, perhaps. Given that every internet publication ever – outside of heavily moderated sites – of statistics and/or proposals related to “unpleasant things which mostly happen to women” gets a very similar looking backlash, I think there’s a lot to be said for not watering down your message in a futile attempt to avoid it.

Regarding the survey, part of the problem is probably budgeting: the best survey approach would have been to ask about each type of harassment separately rather than grouping them into contact and non-contact – but that would require several more questions to be asked, and YouGov charges per-question, so that’s going to add a few thousand pounds on to the survey cost. Better to get at least some information even if it’s not ideal.

Incidentally, looking at the PDF of the survey on the YouGov site: http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ccyqsmd4sl/YG-Archives-EVAW-SexualHarassment-250512.pdf
the interesting figure that’s not reported here is the variation between men and women in the “how safe do you feel on public transport” question – 15:28 on the “not safe” answers.

(As regards the local headline and image choice … well, I can’t disagree there…)

70. Chaise Guevara

@ cim

“Well, I’m not sure that anyone’s suggesting that the low-end behaviours necessarily need to be made illegal – just unacceptable. (From having read accounts from people who have been aggressively looked at on the tube, I think you don’t need to worry that your glancing around will be read as such. The difference is pretty obvious…)”

Trying to outlaw staring at the wrong thing would fall into the lunatic faction and hence would hopefully be rare. But the survey didn’t say “aggressively looked at”, based on the OP, it said “stared at”. Other candidates for giving the false impression of leering include staring into space while your mind wanders.

“Well, perhaps. Given that every internet publication ever – outside of heavily moderated sites – of statistics and/or proposals related to “unpleasant things which mostly happen to women” gets a very similar looking backlash, I think there’s a lot to be said for not watering down your message in a futile attempt to avoid it.”

If you watered down this sort of thing to make in uncontroversial you’d have nothing left. The problem with the hyperbole, however, is that it risks alienating sensible readers.

“Regarding the survey, part of the problem is probably budgeting”

Good point, wasn’t aware YoGuv charged per question.

“Incidentally, looking at the PDF of the survey on the YouGov site: http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ccyqsmd4sl/YG-Archives-EVAW-SexualHarassment-250512.pdf
the interesting figure that’s not reported here is the variation between men and women in the “how safe do you feel on public transport” question – 15:28 on the “not safe” answers.”

That fits my anecdotal experience. The odd thing is that (I believe) men are at a much higher risk of being attacked than women (this is based on street safety, not public transport safety, but I imagine they’re similar). I don’t know whether the discrepency is due to a) rape being worse than mugging or b) male overconfidence and/or female paranoia.

70/Chaise: According to the YouGov PDF, the question was: “Have either of the following happened to you [on public transport] in the past 12 months? [...] Unwanted attention (non-contact) of a sexual nature (e.g.wolfwhistling, sexual comments, staring, exposure etc.)”

So it’s not merely staring but staring which the person being stared at feels has a sexual nature (and can remember happening, up to a year later, for the purposes of a survey – which implies it was serious, commonplace, or both). Seems to be unpleasant enough to count along with the rest, and also unlikely to have other behaviour mistaken for it.

72. Chaise Guevara

@ 71 cim

I really don’t see how someone can reliably distinguish between “he was leering at my legs” and “my legs happened to be in the path of his thousand-yard stare”.

Interesting you raise “aggressively looked at”. Do you mean deliberately continuing to stare once it’s obvious the woman is aware of being stared at and is uncomfortable about it? Because I’d say that one *is* harrassment. It’s an intimidation technique. It’s different to the man covertly checking the woman out then looking away when they’re caught doing it – which isn’t great and probably upsets some people, but it’s in another category to the former behaviour.

Just to note that according to the results: of the 21% of women with non-contact unwanted attention – 112% are aged between 18 and 55+; 42% are Social grade ABC1C2DE; 101% live in the UK; 110% are working or not working; and 85% are either married or not married.

Those weightings are very odd. 99 age 18-24 women represent 63 women but make up 104%, but only 52 women of age 45-54 represent 96 women and make up 103%. So more women representing less women produces a positive weighting whereas less women representing more women produces um a positive weighting.

Of course if we just had the raw numbers instead of percentages (even weighted raw numbers) we’d get an accurate picture.

Oh and I’m with #9 why weren’t the men asked these questions or why weren’t their results published too?

72/Chaise: Yes, that’s the sort of thing I mean. Clearly, from the fact that it hasn’t had a 100% saying ‘yes’, the sort of “glance while looking around” or “your head has to point in some direction” vacant stare isn’t being counted as it’s virtually impossible to be in public without that happening.

73/FlipC: “but make up 104%”

They’re mostly “tick all that apply” questions, so they won’t sum to 100% within the columns. This is entirely separate to the weighting, which acts between columns to get the percentage of “all women” to be accurate by correcting for sampling error. It has no effect on the percentages reported on the sub-demographics columns.

You can (to within +/-1 person, anyway) rederive the raw numbers for any demographic by comparing the percentage to the unweighted amount for that demographic. You can then rederive the raw numbers for women that way, but they won’t be valid – you’d be better just doing the same thing to the weighted amount for “all women”.

As for why men weren’t asked the subsequent questions, I’d guess again financial pressures: the sample of women has been internally weighted, which is trickier to do and so presumably more expensive. Also internally weighting the men would then add extra cost, and be secondary to the group they’re representing. If you have the money to spare, though, I’m sure YouGov will be happy to repeat the survey for men’s experiences. (I’d guess a couple of thousand pounds, based on what I’ve seen of their prices, which is cheap as surveying goes but expensive enough that a small charitable organisation is going to want to keep costs down by not asking questions unrelated to its objectives)

Staring? Really?

If looking at somebody now counts as ‘sexual harassement’ then the term has lost any real meaning.

It’s a shame that a serious subject is trivialised by this sort of absurdity.

76. Chaise Guevara

@ 74 cim

“Yes, that’s the sort of thing I mean. Clearly, from the fact that it hasn’t had a 100% saying ‘yes’, the sort of “glance while looking around” or “your head has to point in some direction” vacant stare isn’t being counted as it’s virtually impossible to be in public without that happening.”

Well, it’s the respondent’s call whether they’ve been stared at or not, so it’s down to the individual to set the criteria. I imagine that differs markedly. When I was growing up, I knew one girl who assumed that any male looking with 180 degrees of her direction was checking her out. But like I say, I agree with you RE aggressive staring. Again it’s probably not something we can litigate for, but it is harrassment and I can totally see why the staree would worry it was the prelude to violence.

77. Chaise Guevara

@ 73 FlipC

“Oh and I’m with #9 why weren’t the men asked these questions or why weren’t their results published too?”

At the risk of having idiots scream “what about teh menz?!” at me, I too wondered about this and have come to the conclusion that they have an axe to grind. cim’s point about costs is a valid one, but the fact that they thought it was worth paying to gather women’s experiences but not men’s is revealing in itself. The survey sounds like it comes from the assumption that men are perpetrators and women are victims. Credit to the OP for not pushing that line.

@74 cim – except they’re adding percentages in the publicity. If you convert it back to weighted figures the numbers of 18-34 (which isn’t a column in its own right) you get 4 and 7 for contact and 25 and 61 for non-contact which equals 97. Total weighted females is 554 So that’s 18% not 43%. Sure as you say it’s a tick all that apply so there may be someone ticking both contact and non-contact; but that would result in a drop in percentages you can’t count the same person twice in the overall statistic. If it’s considered as a Venn diagram with contact, non-contact and both – the number of women is the sum of the area not the sum of both circles’ area.

What I’m saying is that’s it’s difficult for the lay public to gather any sort of meaning from just the percentages particularly if you add in the weighting and any overlap. In this form the figures really don’t help.

As for cost in weighting the men – seriously YouGov do this all the time and should have the statistics to hand to weigh them – it’s trivial.

77/Chaise: I do think it would have been worth gathering if only to compare the results (as in the first question), but on the other hand I don’t expect EVAW has a particularly large budget and anything they can do to save money on the survey gives more to spend elsewhere. Money no object, if I was doing the survey I’d also have asked for a much larger sample size, so that the margin of error on the subsamples was reduced to a useful level, but that would really have increased the cost.

I have argued in the past, and will continue to, that there’s a difference in quality level required between a survey to establish the existence and approximate size of a problem and a survey to monitor the scale of a problem to find the effectiveness of interventions. The former can be pretty cheap and rough, and well within the reach of a pressure group; the latter will be comparatively expensive but still relatively cheap on the scale of a governmental/corporate budget, and as the group that will be doing the interventions they can afford to monitor them.

(And of course there’s nothing to stop a campaign group to end public sexual harassment of men paying YouGov to run their own survey.)

Well, it’s the respondent’s call whether they’ve been stared at or not, so it’s down to the individual to set the criteria. I imagine that differs markedly

Sure, it probably does. But a few outliers in either direction are not going to significantly affect the result on a sample size of a few hundred.

Thing is, if you start from the uncontroversial assumptions that:
– people are generally reasonable
– women are people
then obviously non-harassing looking around is not going to get considered harassment by any significant number of people (any more than one generally gets attacked in public by men going “Are you looking at me, punk? You looking for a fight? Yeah, well have some of this!” and other such clichéd dialogue) – and conversely any behaviour that gets considered harassment by a significant number of people almost certainly is.

80. Chaise Guevara

@ 79 cim

“I do think it would have been worth gathering if only to compare the results (as in the first question), but on the other hand I don’t expect EVAW has a particularly large budget and anything they can do to save money on the survey gives more to spend elsewhere.”

So why not ask the same amount of people without the gender dichotomy?

“I have argued in the past, and will continue to, that there’s a difference in quality level required between a survey to establish the existence and approximate size of a problem and a survey to monitor the scale of a problem to find the effectiveness of interventions.”

Sure, agreed.

“Sure, it probably does. But a few outliers in either direction are not going to significantly affect the result on a sample size of a few hundred.”

If they’re outliers. We don’t know that. The survey seems specced towards getting a positive response.

“Thing is, if you start from the uncontroversial assumptions that:
– people are generally reasonable
– women are people”

Hmm. Didn’t think you were the type to imply that anyone questioning data that feminists like must be a misogynist.

“then obviously non-harassing looking around is not going to get considered harassment by any significant number of people (any more than one generally gets attacked in public by men going “Are you looking at me, punk? You looking for a fight? Yeah, well have some of this!” and other such clichéd dialogue) – and conversely any behaviour that gets considered harassment by a significant number of people almost certainly is.”

Two problems with this. First, as above, the survey just said “staring”, which adds up to “unwelcome sexual staring”. Which isn’t the same as a (correctly interpreted) random glance, but isn’t the same as “staring a stranger down because you want to scare her and/or just don’t care that you’re upsetting her” either.

Secondly, we’re defining “reasonable” as “what Chaise and cim would call reasonable”. I don’t know enough about different people’s reactions and opinions on this matter to feel I can safely steer clear of mind projection fallacy.

78/FlipC: The 42% is from the “not on public transport” question on the second page of the PDF, though, isn’t it? A Venn of 43% for 18-34 and both contact and non-contact harassment seems reasonable from that.

As for cost in weighting the men – seriously YouGov do this all the time and should have the statistics to hand to weigh them – it’s trivial.

To weight the whole sample so that it has the correct number of men, yes, that’s trivial. To weight the sample of men internally so that it has the correct numbers of men-who-are-X is more difficult. You would, for instance, have to apply different weighting numbers for “18-24″ and every other category for men and for women, so I expect that would significantly add to the complexity – you’d essentially be doing two separate surveys with the same questions but different groups. (It probably wouldn’t double the costs, but it probably would add a fair bit on)

There’s a difference between weighting the overall sample so that it’s correct on any single dimensions (which is as you say pretty trivial if you know the demographics) and weighting the sub-samples so that they are themselves internally weighted (the complexity of which rapidly increases the more samples you need to weight, and this survey is actually pretty rare in that it does it at all)

So why not ask the same amount of people without the gender dichotomy?

Presumably to get a more accurate (i.e. internally weighted) sampling of the women.

The survey seems specced towards getting a positive response.

Does it? I don’t read it as doing that – how do you think it does? (Or conversely, how would you reword the question to be more neutral?)

Hmm. Didn’t think you were the type to imply that anyone questioning data that feminists like must be a misogynist.

That’s not what I said… There are plenty of things with the data that can be questioned. For instance I’m unconvinced the precise percentages in the subsample breakdowns are worth much – the sub-sample sizes are small and the breakdowns are not internally weighted – the general age trend is large enough to probably be real; the differences between the class or region subsamples are probably not significant. (For “establish rough scale” this is not important)

What I don’t think can reasonably be questioned is that X% (within margins of error, obviously) of women felt harassed by a particular set of behaviour and therefore this behaviour is a problem if X is large.

(Similarly, if you explain more about why you think the question itself is biased, I may or may not agree that’s correct but regardless it’s a valid line of criticism of any study and again not what I was talking about there)

Secondly, we’re defining “reasonable” as “what Chaise and cim would call reasonable”

Actually, that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid doing (I don’t believe in a universal “reasonable” anyway, but to stay on topic…). I’m defining it, in this case, as what the sample surveyed think is reasonable. (As it’s a large and weighted sample, this is probably a decent proxy for what women in London in general think is reasonable). Then with the base percentages of those reporting harassment being large I think it becomes impossible to claim that those women are being “unreasonable” to view what happened to them as harassment, on the grounds that to do so would be to define a lot of women as being “unreasonable”.

…and that gets back to the comments Ben2 and Rachel were making about deferring in general to the people who have experienced it to collectively define “reasonable” on that issue.

Does that make it clearer what I meant?

Personally, with staring, I find it puts me on edge and gets me thinking, what are they going to do next? I think it’s quite easy to assess whether someone is looking at you by accident/casually, or staring at you in order to be intimidating.

I think that’s the point really, in terms of unwanted sexual attention – is the man’s behaviour intended to indimidate? I would say most women are able to make that assessment.

One of the comments above said that a stranger approaching you is ‘easily dealt with’, well, that’s missing the point completely. If someone is trying their luck but really does not intend to intimidate you, then yes I agree. But if you ignore or say ‘no thank you’ to e.g. a strange man’s attempt to strike up a conversation, and you get a negative response such as verbal abuse / following / worse, this belies the true nature of their intentions (i.e. not to be friendly, not to be nice, not to take an interest in you as a human being).

In my experience the ‘hello baby’s and requests for my name, etc, were just ways to intimidate, because when I ignored the men who said such things they either called me a bitch, etc or would laugh at me – suggesting that they enjoyed the fact they had made me feel uncomfortable or even frightened.

Women know the difference between this and less threatening behaviour. So I suspect that for the most part women are counting experiences that they felt were intended to intimidate, staring included.

84. Chaise Guevara

@ 82 cim

“Presumably to get a more accurate (i.e. internally weighted) sampling of the women.”

Yes, but why not get a more accurate sampling of *people*? The survey does seek a gendered result out of the box.

“Does it? I don’t read it as doing that – how do you think it does? (Or conversely, how would you reword the question to be more neutral?)”

Because it uses the very ambiguous and potentially very broad “staring”. Changing to “aggressive staring” would actually be a big improvement.

“That’s not what I said…”

You seem to be implying that the concept “women are people” is up for dispute in my mind. Having trouble interpreting that as anything other than an accusation of mysogny.

“There are plenty of things with the data that can be questioned [...]

What I don’t think can reasonably be questioned is that X% (within margins of error, obviously) of women felt harassed by a particular set of behaviour and therefore this behaviour is a problem if X is large. ”

Define “problem”. Say that I follow a religion that claims women should cover up to avoid inflaming the passions of men. I therefore consider women who have their flesh exposed below the neck to be committing a form of harrassment by needlessly inflaming my passions. Now assume that there are lots of me. Does that make those women a “problem”? I certainly hope not.

Note that this isn’t a direct comparison – the attitudes behind the survey are far more reasonable (from my POV) and are not victim-blamey. But I can’t agree with “Lots of people dislike X, therefore X is a problem” as a preconception.

“Actually, that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid doing (I don’t believe in a universal “reasonable” anyway, but to stay on topic…). I’m defining it, in this case, as what the sample surveyed think is reasonable. (As it’s a large and weighted sample, this is probably a decent proxy for what women in London in general think is reasonable). Then with the base percentages of those reporting harassment being large I think it becomes impossible to claim that those women are being “unreasonable” to view what happened to them