If you have not notice, there has been much discussion over something that happened to Rebecca Watson in a skeptical conference in Dublin. A guy asked Ms. Watson for coffee in an elevator at 4 AM and was turned down, and Ms. Watson asked men to not put women in such uncomfortable positions. Doesn’t seem like much. Guys get turned down all the time, right?
Well, it is more than that really. You have to remember the social contexts that this all happened in. Unfortunately, men have not made women’s lives very easy in our society. We tell our boys that it is appropriate to be aggressive – to be the go-getter and get the ladies. We are told we need to be fierce and intimidating because that is what our modern ideal of men details. It is all about virility and getting laid. And if you cannot get laid you become the butt of comedy. Unfortunately this backfires when it comes to our interactions with women. Women are told that they are to be subservient, docile, and forever vestal. Well you can see what happens next. Men feel the “need” to force sex out of women, and it gets nasty. Even in our developed “civilized” world, 1 in 6 women are sexually assaulted. This is complicated by the fact that we call women “accusers” of rape and often we say “they deserve it” because of the way they acted or dress. They are made the criminals despite the fact that they are the victims. And that is the sad fact of our culture.
Okay, well men get assaulted too, right? Yes. Duh. But how often does one hear that a guy was “asking for it” because of the way he dressed or how flirty he was that night. In fact, how often does guy get sexually assaulted? Most guys (baring hate-crimes obviously) are assaulted because they have resources available to the mugger. Women can be assaulted because they are women. It is a guy’s privilege. We aren’t victims because we are guys – despite all the paranoia of a Femi-Nazi conspiracy against us. And we have a lot of privilege in this situation. Here, if we were on an elevator with a creeper we have these privileges:
• We don’t have to worry if that guy will rape us. We’re going to assume coffee actually means coffee and not something else. This is due to the fact that we don’t have to be cognizant of it as it rarely, if ever, happens to us. Women don’t have this privilege, not even here in “first world”.
• Due to our Western culturing to be aggressive, we are more likely to fight back if the guy did try something.
• The other guy will probably be more intimidated by us as guys. Despite movements forward, our culture still tells us that women are weaker.
• If the guy successfully assaults us, we won’t be blamed for acting slutty or anything like that. While you are tempted to use the popular parable of a rich looking guy being responsible for his own mugging because he shouldn’t be dressed like that in a ghetto neighborhood consider these things: when is anyone ever deserving to have their rights violate? Is a slutty girl more deserving of it than prime-n-proper Mary Sue? Does she not have the same basic rights to human dignity as the rest of us? Also the circumstances are different. The rich guy is being mugged for his resources; the “slut” is being raped because she’s a woman. Finally that scenario is unlikely because of a lot class privilege that I won’t get into right now.
Hopefully you understood that. But you’re probably still thinking. “But what if all he wanted is a coffee?” The answer is “How the [expletive] is she supposed to know that?” The matter of fact is that we men are all potential rapists. In technical terms we are Schrödinger’s rapists. They cannot tell which one of us is “the Nice Guy” or which one is the assailant. [Expletive] even I, a gay guy, am a Schrödinger’s rapist. I am “straight acting” and enough of a dude where women may see me as a threat. But I am not mad about it. Considering the context of the situation, it is reasonable. It was a potentially dangerous situation. I understand that, given our societies problem, a woman has every right to view me as a potential rapist. And if you are a nice guy, you shouldn’t be made either.
We really are the one to blame for this. We’ve given many women no reason to trust us. Our culture makes us out to be monsters for women. And we perpetuate it. We try to be the “bros” and the Tucker Max of our society. We assume things about women that we shouldn’t. We make them feel inferior or foolish with says like “dumb bitch”. We make them feel unwelcome when all we do is wank about ourselves. Even now, when all Ms. Watson try to do is explain that men at skeptical conferences make women uncomfortable by objectifying as potential sex dolls, we tell women to shut up. Even Richard Dawkins try to shut her up by saying her issue was trivial compare to women in other parts of the world. (And it is quite ironic too given our culture and the recent GOP legislation is effectively making it just as bad for women here as it is anywhere.) We cannot even give women space to talk. That’s how intrusive men come off as.
If you are really a nice guy, then consider this. Women owe nothing to us as a class. Don’t think that being a nice guy gets you a pass to do or say whatever to women. In fact, insisting that women listen to you, or that you are entitled to her time whether she wants it or not is a hallmark of a Nice Guy™. Being a Nice Guy™ is essentially being an entitled dick. A Nice Guy™ is not a nice guy. So this is from a dude to other dudes: If a woman says your being a creepy, listen to her. And don’t be a [expletive referring to male genitals] about it.
If you want, you can read Greta Christina’s take on the situation.