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Yeah. Street harassment is another thing like that. E.g., I naively assumed that my girlfriend's experience going out and running alone was exactly like my experience when I was with her. Until she started telling me about the frequent whistles, comments, and sexual propositions she would receive.

It just didn't happen when I'm around, because people who are jerks and abusers are, unsurprisingly, very crafty in doing it only in contexts when they are unlikely to get called on it. So male perception of this bullshit is almost totally unrelated to how much it happens.

As an aside, it made me really happy to come across a poster last week for the #stoptellingwomentosmile campaign: https://twitter.com/williampietri




I think it's even worse than being 'crafty', they're actually trying to show you respect under the idea that because you're with her you have a claim on her and they're deferring to that. Which is incredibly creepy and offensive.


Men are dramatically less likely to hit on me when I am with either or both of my adult sons. Many people realize they are relatives (though some think they are my brothers, not my sons) so, no, they don't think I am the sexual property of these two males. I have only been bothered by a guy when my sons are around when the guy was drinking alcohol. So I think the parent comment is more accurate than your assumption, though, yes, your observation is a social reality in some situations and it is a problem for women -- that "respect" is sometimes given for a man's property rights over a woman, not really given to her per se.

I am upvoting both of you.


I'm not so sure the men doing this are thinking consciously about property rights. They're probably going around motivated at the primate level. This doesn't excuse what they're doing, but it makes me suspect that they will continue to emulate the behavior of the other men they observe in their environment and will only change when they see others around them change their behavior.

This is what people are like: only a minority of people will go through the motions of self examination, and only a minority of those will do that effectively. Where real change happens, or where outdated misbehaviors persist, it's basically a matter of primate see, primate do. Real change has to have a component of motivation at this level.


I didn't say they were thinking consciously of property rights. I have been in discussions with women who were trying to find a way to signal to their boss or someone else who was potential trouble that "No, I am not up for a romantic relationship with you" and trying to figure out how to do so without offending. They often try to do so by emphasizing to the man "I have a boyfriend." I always tell them that is the wrong approach because it signals to potentially predatory men that she is perfectly willing to go along with being some man's property and all he has to do is find some way to claim her as his own. That's the wrong signal for a woman to send if she really wants a career. She needs to find a polite way to deflect his attentions without saying "It's cuz I belong to someone else right now." Some men take that as a challenge, as "come get me, big boy." So it is not a good way to avoid trouble.

If women want to compete with men and not just be their toys, they need to exercise agency and own their decisions that "No, I am not up for a relationship with you. Because I say so, not because of some other man's property rights over me." If a woman says "I would get with you if I weren't with someone else" she needs to really and truly mean that. It shouldn't be a polite fiction. Such polite fictions tend to lead to worse trouble than the one they thought they were trying to cleverly sidestep.


Territory is a deeply animal behavior, as is alpha male claiming of mates. So I think that property rights are an elaboration of primate instincts.


The actions probably get initiated a full second before the thought of "property" ever enters anyone's head, if it does at all.


Would you argue that ideas like "family" would not engage at a subconcious level for extremely social animals like humans? If you wouldn't argue against "family" being instinctual, then you can't argue against "mine-ness", since family is by definition something that is "mine" vs "yours".


Would you argue that ideas like "family" would not engage at a subconscious level for extremely social animals like humans?

I would argue that there is a concept of "relatedness" encoded into Homo sapiens on the instinctive level. The notion of "family" is at least in part a cultural construct on top of that. Also, who said I was arguing against "mine-ness?" I certainly didn't. I'm just highlighting possible unacknowledged/unsupported assumptions in this thread. (Like your apparent assumption of a particular stance on my part.)


I'm sorry for derailing, but I read your HN bio and have to suggest this: Join Gittip. Also, you should come to Nicaragua. It's nice, and stupid-cheap if you have a way to be of service to others remotely :)

http://bit.ly/patcon-budget


Thanks for your concern. I will look into Gittip. Nicaragua is not likely to make my agenda. I sometimes wish I could do something like that, but my health challenges are complicated enough as is in a country where I know the language and culture and so forth. For that and other reasons, I am stuck in the U.S. for the foreseeable future.


Not really, they just want to avoid a fight. Under sexist rules, a man accompanying a woman is her "protector". If someone makes rude sexual remarks to her, it's also insulting to him because it implies that he's too weak to do anything about it. That's a provocation to respond with violence to affirm his manhood.

It's the same logic behind insulting a man by calling his mother a whore. Why should he be insulted by an insult to his mother? Because a real man is supposed to defend the honor of the women in his family.


Well, or they just feel that they will be much less successful hitting on a girl who is accompanied by a guy, platonic or otherwise.


And/or they simply want to avoid a direct confrontation, which might happen when a man is present, but not when the woman is alone. This just happened to me today, biking and of course i heard some rude comments. Really wanted to tell them to fuck off but then I would engage, they might respond, etc, and my biking zen would be even more disturbed.


It's really not "that guy might stop me". It's "they're probably a couple, what's the point". The default assumption is that a mixed-gender pair of people around the same age is a couple. I've been out wandering with female platonic friends plenty of times, only to have people assume we're a romantic pair.


So you think a woman walking with her father would get catcalled like a woman alone?


Do you think a woman walking with her mother would get catcalled like a woman alone?


Contrary to the success always obtained by catcalling?


I just skip catcalling, because I don't understand it.


I'm sure that's an element. But there are other people in front of whom street harassers will quiet down, too, so I don't think that's the only explanation.




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