I don't doubt FOR A MINUTE that this can happen but perhaps understanding the circumstances could provide a focal point for specific change.
For example, how do colleagues end up even physically alone in the same space together especially after the first RAPE? Does this stem from unsupervised after-work parties that employees feel obligated to attend? Is it related to conferences or work travel? Clearly she would seek to avoid being near her rapist alone but couldn't. Are there things companies can be doing to better avoid such scenarios?
1) Why is this rape? Because coercion doesn't just take the form of physical violence.
2) Why not report to the police? Because it's mutually assured destruction. Even if you bring the guy down, you'll be known as the woman who called the police on her boss.
3) Why let it happen more than once? If you've ruled out calling the police, what are you going to do? Can you afford to quit your job on the spot? Can you compromise your long term future at the firm by bringing it to the management? You've worked years to get to where you are, and you just want to do your job and try to get ahead, just like your coworkers who didn't catch the eye of some creep.
I'd known, intellectually, that a large fraction of rape is perpetrated by someone the victim knows and somewhat trusts. But the story here put concrete details to that and made me think. What do you do if someone you like, who you have been consensually involved with, takes advantage of you? What do you do if they had been, until then, your strongest support at a new school (or in a new job, or something), and social structures are that you're expected to keep working together? Is there even a better response than pretending it didn't happen, at least for a bit?
I'm also a little ashamed to say that, if I hadn't heard stories like this one and thought them through, I can see myself being the skeptical cop who says, well, why were you continuing to hang out with him and invite him over. And I'd known intellectually that skeptical cops were a problem that dissuaded reporting, and that it often was naïveté not malice, but never thought through what an actual case would look like.
I was curious if this is technically rape in my home state (Illinois) so I looked it up...
edit: Already downvoted? C'mon this is relevant!
(720 ILCS 5/11-1.20) (was 720 ILCS 5/12-13)
Sec. 11-1.20. Criminal Sexual Assault.
(a) A person commits criminal sexual assault if that person commits an act of sexual penetration and:
(1) uses force or threat of force;
(2) knows that the victim is unable to understand the nature of the act or is unable to give knowing consent;
(3) is a family member of the victim, and the victim is under 18 years of age; or
(4) is 17 years of age or over and holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim, and the victim is at least 13 years of age but under 18 years of age.
What is the point of arguing that blackmailing people into sex isn't rape?
The issue here is that, in your ignorance of legalese, you've misinterpreted the word "force" with a colloquial definition.
Then, because of a mental bias like Dunning-Kruger, you did not stop to think that your ignorance to law would prevent you from having an understanding, you assumed that you were correct in your interpretation by default.
In law, "force" is an interesting concept. You assumed it meant only "unlawful violence" but in law "compulsion" is the second major part of force. As in, compelling someone to act against their free will, which violates their Inalienable Right to Liberty.
You should investigate the legal concept of "force" further because I think you'll find that coercion, blackmail, duress, or any other form of behavior control constitutes legal force and would quality as rape under Illinois law.
It might be harassment.
It might be blackmailing.
It might be a lot of nasty, disgusting, and even criminal things.
In the above story, the partner was obviously a complete prick.
But the scheme is inherently different from a rape. This abusing prick could've asked both men or women under his supervision for a number of completely unreasonable favours, whether sexual or non-sexual, declining of which would've been similarly catastrophic for the career of his staff members because of the power the abusing partner held over the matter.
But they could've walked away. Maybe they could have restarted their career elsewhere or had to change careers, I don't know. Life isn't fair. But they could've walked away and from what I understand, so could've this young associate in the law firm.
I think the very definition of rape is crossing the very line where the victim is not allowed to leave and forced to be abused instead. A rape is a physical act of violence, regardless of whether what happens is an intercourse or a blowjob or whatever and whether the victim was physically threatened by fists, a knife, or a gun, but the physical nature of the act means if you are able to walk away the rape doesn't happen because it can not happen. And that is for the same reason why a robber with a knife can't kill you unless you're within a few feet of him. A knifeman can't kill you a block away and a rapist can kill you if you're not there.
In some jurisdictions coercion might translate to non-physical threats. Then maybe there it could be classified as a rape. It's still as wrong as if it's classified as something else. But the dynamic of that situation is nevertheless different from the dynamic of a rape with the latter interpreted in the traditional sense. There is a line between situations from where you can actually walk away and situations from where you can not.
The belief that physical coercion is worse than economic coercion arises from our deep-seated deference to rich people. A migrant worker has to pull a knife to coerce someone. A law firm partner doesn't have to, but can exercise powers that are just as immorally coercive.
Would it be easier if I called it "white collar rape?"
-- I have no objections to saying "his sexual harassment and manipulation was worse than physical rape". I'm wholly on the side of using every means possible to stop both rape and sexual harassment in the workplace and punishing people severely for both. I'm even all in favor of punishing the wealthy for using their wealth in abusive and manipulative ways, sure.
But I think the "it was as bad as rape so we should call it rape" argument really loses potential supporters.
The problem is that redefining the term creates a situation where the outside observer will feel that they can't really verify the truth or even the substance of the claim.
I know the argument that it is wholly unfair to demand that someone who has already been victimized also speak in an exact and clinical fashion about how they have victimized. Yes, it's unfair but is still the only a believable (by an outside observer) argument is going to happen. And there really isn't any alternative to that.
The whole "outside observer" smells like slut shaming to me. The article talkings about how to make the social environment in tech better, the clinical definition of rape is not the issue.
I sure am.
What is the problem with that? People who have been victimized sometimes say things that are incorrect. Pretending that everything someone who has been victimized says is factually correct and credible seems is totally counter-productive, makes all rational dialog impossible and ultimately allows the strongest to impose their version of events since it produces a situation where no one cares about the facts of a situation.
Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.
What you're describing is essentially prostitution. While illegal in some jurisdictions, it's far from rape.
Fortunately some states have laws that specifically define and criminalize sexual extortion. It's distinct from rape / sexual assault but it is a felony.
Suppose a couple lives together, and one tells the other: "let me sodomize you right now or I kick you out of the house and you can live on the street."
What in the world would be the point of arguing that this is not rape?
On the other hand, if there is no threat accompanying a demand for sexual access, it is obviously not rape and nobody is saying it is.
The question is whether there's a distinction between economic coercion and rape. rayiner argues no, it's just as coercive as "pulling a knife", but most state laws (I believe) do have distinct definitions of sexual extortion. It's still a felony, so it's really bad, but not quite as severe. I think that probably reflects the truth of a spectrum of coercion from knife-to-throat (class A felony), to lose-your-job (class E felony), to divorce-with-financial-consequences (sad but not criminal). That's the slope one can slide down if we don't have clear tiers and definitions along the way.
I wonder why HN is so sensitive to this line of questioning that they want to censor it outright. Are people emotionally attached to using certain forms of coercion to get sex, while thinking that it's okay or "not rape" because they aren't holding a knife?
Your question is like asking what's the point of arguing why certain kinds of homicide are not first degree murder. If you collapse distinctions in an effort to take a "stronger" stance, you might consider that it actually weakens the severity of the gravest charge. Also, it may have the effect of inhibiting understanding of the specific scenarios at hand and thus crafting strategies for targeting them, which is my motivation here.
Because if financial coercion counts the same as physical coercion, we will have to completely rebuild how our market functions or else say that financial coercion only equals physical coercion in certain situations, and then come up with a way to determine when it falls under each (at which point, we are back to arguing about if certain kinds of coercion are equal, including if all forms of coerced sex are equal).
The point is that if start using a definition outside the standard definition, you tend to lose the trust of an outside observer.
Suppose someone wants to determine what happened in a given set of circumstances. If a person says, "He did X to me under Y conditions" and the observer comes back with "but Y conditions would seem to make X rather difficult" and the original person says "well, I have different definition of X", the observer instantly feels like the credibility of the person has decreased.
If a person gives a pretty unambiguous description of events, their credibility tends to be high. If a person's story is going to be widely believe, believed in a court of law and so-forth, we want their credibility to be high.
I think I can understand emotional appeal of the argument that the victim shouldn't be under scrutiny and shouldn't have to prove her case. But, I'm sorry, reality can't work that way - any system that discards investigation into truth will instead wind up with the truth suiting those having the most power and that only guarantees more victimization on one level or another.
My understanding is that you cannot just kick out someone who has been living their legally, so let's make it a legal action instead. "Start having sex with me or I'll start the eviction process." If that is rape, then should not "Start paying or I'll start the eviction process" would be theft?
This is strangely reminiscent of a lot of arguments that men's rights activists make. Namely, they'd rather be raped than lose 50% of their income to paternity fraud. They even attach a prefix to the word rape - "divorce rape" instead of "white collar rape".
I take it you also support their arguments, right? Or if you don't, you've got some clear principle separating the two cases?
(Note: I'm taking no position on any of this, just pointing out a possible inconsistency.)
If those guys were talking about getting punched in the face vs. paternity, then you might have a good comparison.
I understand that criminal law appropriately distinguishes between different levels of severity in harmful and socially undesirable behavior, one way or another. But when people start trying to finely parse what kinds of sexual coercion are 'really rape' and what kinds aren't... it's awfully creepy, and sounds like they're looking for an excuse to justify some kinds of sexual coercion. Why would you want to support, justify, or perpetrate (even accidentally), any kind of sexual coercion? Wouldn't you want to try and prevent it from ever happening? You're sounding kind of creepy, friend.
If you reread what I wrote, you'll discover I'm merely pointing out either a) an uncomfortable implication of a line of reasoning or b) a logical flaw in said line of reasoning or c) an unstated premise. I took no actual position myself.
"If you $X that's clearly $CRIME. If you $Y, some people wouldn't call that $CRIME (and the law wouldn't either). But I'd rather get $X then $Y. So why do we consider the latter not as bad?"
Take it up with rayiner then. Once you stop discussing what the law says in favor of what it should say, you've already gotten into moralizing. But when it's pointed out that the moralizing is probably flawed, it's no longer the time for moral philosophy?
I.e., I need to turn off my mind the minute it goes against your emotional conclusions. "Won't someone think of the children/women?"
"Our discussion will be adequate if it has as much clearness as the subject-matter admits of, for precision is not to be sought for alike in all discussions, any more than in all the products of the crafts. Now fine and just actions, which political science investigates, admit of much variety and fluctuation of opinion, so that they may be thought to exist only by convention, and not by nature. And goods also give rise to a similar fluctuation because they bring harm to many people; for before now men have been undone by reason of their wealth, and others by reason of their courage. We must be content, then, in speaking of such subjects and with such premisses to indicate the truth roughly and in outline, and in speaking about things which are only for the most part true and with premisses of the same kind to reach conclusions that are no better. In the same spirit, therefore, should each type of statement be received; for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs."
I believe the issue here is far more rooted in classism and, if I may, class warfare.
"Uses force or the threat of force." It means that even if you decline you have no choice but to have sex with them. You will be forced to. In the white-collar situation, you can say no, even if you don't want to.
"(4) is 17 years of age or over and holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim, and the victim is at least 13 years of age but under 18 years of age.
> Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration perpetrated against a person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of valid consent...
See: ...coercion, abuse of authority...
You don't think that it was rape, but that is part of the problem: people are always trying to redefine "rape" so it doesn't cover this or that particular flavor of it. But if it is sex without consent, it's rape, period.
I reference Wikipedia not because it is an unassailable authority, but because it represents the lowest common denominator of what most people agree on.
Rather than reflecting "the lowest common denominator of what most people agree on", it seems more likely this is what one specific individual with a less accepted definition of rape who cares enough to edit the wiki and fight off all dissenters wants you to believe is the default definition of rape.
In other words, the point is that sex is put into a separate sphere of activity from other ordinarily-pleasant experiences and given a dignity which is not special to those other activities. (This is not particularly tendentious: most cultures have, say, hygeine laws which are important to follow but it's hard to identify the exact reason "why". Egg on your face is "dirty". Will it hurt anyone or cause you to contract or spread disease etc.? No. But it's still dirty and it's still important in our culture.)
The gap from sexual harassment to rape is therefore not, say, violence, but the escalation from uncouth groping to uncouth sex. The fact that there is a narrative where she looks out upon her options and says, "okay, I will fearfully give this man a blowjob rather than give him the middle finger and prepare for joblessness" -- one where she somehow rationally "chooses" sex as her "best option" -- is moot if sex is fundamentally privileged by the society you're a part of. The problem is that the "rape" has essentially happened (it's happened as a conspiracy, say), by the time that that "choice" has to be made.
* Every. If I used my power at work to make you eat a literal lunch of feces, is that more or less egregious? I know what my gut would say, but why? Isn't the core bad behavior the concept of abrogating another human's free will? Why is sex in this other classification?
Edit: put another way, why is it that being coerced into sex is much worse than being coerced into e.g., murder. Is it simply the frequency? (It doesn't seem like the issue is that the act is against a specific or particular gender/race/hate crime victim group, unless we're differentiating between "straight rape" or "gay rape", which is a moral hazard worth avoiding...)
Fortunately, we don't have too much of a problem with some people forcing other people to eat feces, in the workplace or elsewhere. Or with people scared to complain about their bosses making them eat shit, for fear of ruining their career.
We do have a pretty big problem with sexual violence, sexual coercion, and gender-based discrimination, in the workplace and elsewhere.
A whole bunch of this thread is people wanting to have abstract philosophical arguments, instead of dealing with what's really going on. Abstract philosophical arguments can be fun, when stoned in a dorm room, under-taken between people who find them fun (usually because they're about things that do not have life-or-death consequences... at least for the people in the room).
But they're no substitute for discussion (and action) focused on what's actually going on in the world, people who are being hurt (and I don't mean their 'feelings are hurt'), people who are hurting them (sometimes, but not always, without realizing it), and what to do about it.
I think the OP was pretty masterful in keeping a focus on what's actually going on, and what to do about it, practically, in the real world we live in. HN is showing a masterful ability to turn it into diversionary irrelevant mental masturbation instead, which is depressing me, I actually expected better for some reason.
People are not disingenious nor delusional when saying that as there is rape, there is also mamy other abuses towards people of both sex, and discussing how these happen, how you can get trapped, and should be aware of these situation is valid.
The problem is really to get rid of situation where the balance of power gets so crushing that you are coerced into getting thinhs done to you that you damages you.
Is it better to focus on each single case and find a specific defense ? or can there be a more universal way of doing it ?
I think the problem is really not centered on the sex of the victim, and more on the crushing power and social impunity of the aggressor. Working on that side of the equation would bring improvement for our society as a whole.
Yes, sex is different from other things. That was the point of the post you're replying to.
If I used my power at work to make you eat a literal lunch of feces, is that more or less egregious?
I mean, I'd say "more egregious", but that's because it strikes me as unrestrained cruelty. A rapist at least has clear selfish motives with a disregard for human decency; someone who's power-tripping and saying "you're going to do this thing just because I know you don't like it and want to make you suffer" is far scarier.
But it doesn't matter which one is more egregious. The point is that you can call the one thing "rape." That is a valid word to use to describe it.
Isn't the core bad behavior the concept of abrogating another human's free will? Why is sex in this other classification?
You're looking at a two-dimensional figure edge-on so that it looks one dimensional, which causes you to think that these two questions are related, but they are not clearly -- they are about different things.
There are lots of things that are scary about rape. It's not just that someone has "abrogated your free will" -- they're using you as an object and thereby dehumanizing you. This means that certain other questions emerge naturally, like "where exactly does that stop?". And that's a matter of fear for your life (which in law is the crime of assault). It's as if an axiom of our logic has been violated: If someone disregards the basic standards of human decency, we lose all proofs/guarantees that they won't, say, kill us for fun.
If you don't understand where this fear comes from, rape will be an academic question for you, and you will miss the real need for social change.
If her boss found her attractive enough to want a blowjob, why won't he progressively try to get as much as he can get away with ?
She was not in position to refuse the first step, she won't be in a better position to refuse further abuse.
At the first threat, I have the feeling she already has to choose between her career and getting abused for years.
> Young associate worked for this partner
1. It's quite likely that leaving firm as a young associate carries a huge negative connotation. In other words, her choices might not have been "give a blowjob" or "quit and find another job." It might have been more like "give a blowjob" or "quit and find another job, and maybe not find another job because there's this huge negative on her resume."
2. The law profession has a reputation for being quite chummy. If she had quit over this harassment, even if she filed no charges then it's quite possible that this partner would have gone on the offensive to discredit her character to other influential people.
Once you're out, it's very hard to get back in. So in practice firms have quite a bit of leverage to demand things like work 100 hours in a week, staying until 2am, cancel plans with family on short notice, etc.
Edit: I mean unheard of to leave with no new job and try to get another one in Biglaw.
I am genuinely curious about this point. Why are men in a different situation? Couldn't a homosexual boss want to coerce blowjobs from male subordinates?
> I am genuinely curious about this point. Why are men
> in a different situation? Couldn't a homosexual boss
> want to coerce blowjobs from male subordinates?
I only mentioned it because the poster I responded to had said, "I'm sure that as a heterosexual man, regardless of my financial circumstances, no one could coerce me into giving blowjobs" and I thought it important to say that there are different dynamics involved there.
If a male boss tried to coerce a male employee into sex, the male victim would be much more likely to respond with physical force, so it's less likely to happen in the first place. The male victim would also be more likely to be viewed as unambiguously victimized, whereas in a male-on-female situation there's likely to be a lot of well, she probably wanted it type speculation and/or congratulation of the male aggressor.
In some senses it might even be more difficult for a male victim. A male victim might be viewed as "weak" for letting it happen in the first place. Whatever the case I'm sure we can agree that it's quite a different dynamic, so the original poster's well, as a man, I'd never let this happen to meeee is not really a useful road to travel down.
Did you make a new account just to post a misinterpretation of this link twice?
Edit: I changed the text. I had cited the wrong section. But that doesn't change what the document says: section b says retribution is a form of duress, not necessarily violent.
Please read all of 261.7.
[edit: I misunderstood the scoping rules of law. Ignore.]
There is no 261.7. There is 261.a.7, which deals with public officials. 261.b deals with duress, and applies to all of 261.
And even in those, rape is often the proper word, it's just not used in the legal text for historical reasons.
It's a common question men have about harassment or abuse of women, especially sexual. Why not just say no? Why not fight back harder? I'm no expert in the subject, but this is my undertanding:
For one thing, generally men are raised to be aggressive -- never let anyone push you around. Women are raised to be inoffensive, pleasing, agreeable. Aggression is unfeminine; it scares off or alienates males; our culture models being the kidnapped princess awaiting rescue (still true in most movies, games, etc.), not the hero on the horse. EDIT: It might be as hard for a woman to respond aggressively as for you to smile sweetly when someone is abusing you.
For another, they are physically overmatched. Probably their life-long experience and realistic assessment is that fighting males is dangerous.
Also, these things don't happen out of the blue. People are 'groomed'; attackers establish their authority and push for more and more. They wait for the right moment, when victims' defenses are weak. The attacker may have experience with these situations.
Lots of people are intimidated into doing things they don't want to do, often when they are young and little green, especially by authority figures and especially when believing something valuable is on the line, such as their career. What if you had kids and a mortgage? A sick spouse or parent and needed the health insurance?
Finally, I don't know you at all, but I know that far more people say these tough things than rise to the moment when faced with danger, with anxiety and fear soaring and everything on the line. I think panic is a more common response.
EDIT: But how sad that HN seems so male-dominated that we have to speculate about the female pespective. Wow.
At some point you crossed the line of acceptable intimacy (probably rather early) and it escalated from there as you were uncertain how to deal with the relationships.
Is it cold hard rape? No. Is it an unacceptable and illegal exploitation of power and psychological torment by the boss? Yes.
Has anyone on HN seen a coworker give another coworker a massage?
I'm even a bit hesitant to give people high-fives. And those emotional goodbyes where you hug employees on their last day in the office? Those are very awkward for me, but everyone else is doing it... so... I just go along. =/
There is a concerted attempt now to characterize sexual harassment as rape. The person we are replying to did it in an off-hand manner and it is wrong - not just as a point of law but as a strategy for social change.
However, I think it kind of misses the point to adjudicate sexual harassment vs. rape in these cases. Saying it's merely sexual harassment implies that it's somehow not an issue. The point is that it's clearly a malicious act, not a well-intentioned boundary-crossing misunderstanding.
Often the opposite happens to a woman who accuses a senior manager of sexual assault.
It's not being a man or woman, being straight or gay, being compatible or not with an abuser, that makes the difference here. Unwanted sex is soul-destroying for everyone. Routine sexual abuse is a horrible, unbearable prospect. For everyone.
It's the implication of the "most" that you're missing.
Most people would walk away from that job. Most people would run!
But that's most. Who else is left?
Who wouldn't run from a situation like that?
I don't know why the particular lady described above didn't run sooner. But I can think of some people who wouldn't.
Someone for whom that job represented their one and only opportunity to break into their chosen field. Someone for whom what was at stake was not just one source of a paycheck, but their entire livelihood. Their entire chosen career. It might be worth it, then, to endure the abuse until you could safely move on.
Someone who was too young or inexperienced to understand their options. Who didn't know this isn't just the way the world works. Who didn't know what resources society offers to fight back with, who didn't think the community would help or back them if they left. Someone who literally sees no way to fight back, for whom leaving represents a public humiliation they see as even more painful than the private humiliation. It might be worth it then.
Someone living paycheck to paycheck, who can't afford to miss even one without seeing their family plunged into immediate misery.
Someone for whom the job represented access to health insurance that was keeping their daughter alive, that they couldn't afford another way.
Someone suffering depression, with such a low sense of self-worth that no abuse feels undeserved, without the will to fight anything in any way.
In short, someone vulnerable.
Yeah, most people don't need a job badly enough to be worth selling their soul and dignity for. Those people aren't raped under the threat of losing their job. It's everyone else who has to worry about that problem.
It is a cruel truth that the people who can leave, the people who can fight back, the people who have the will and resources and personality to retaliate . . . are the ones who are left alone.
This isn't a situation you could find yourself in now. It's not a situation you probably ever could find yourself in. Maybe, though. Life is crazy. Imagine yourself five years of hell from now. Imagine you're diagnosed with cancer, put your life on hold for a grueling year or two, lose all your health, all your savings, and the currency of your skills. Imagine an overzealous state prosecutor comes after you for a crime you didn't commit, and after two years of stressful court battles, you're convicted and serve some time in prison. Imagine you forget what financial security ever felt like. Imagine the stress results in crippling depression, and thoughts of suicide prompt you to seek medical help. Imagine the medication you're given comes with side effects, and you experience severe mood swings, alienating everyone but your closest family and friends. Imagine as you start to recover from all of that, you move two states away from anyone you know to get a new job and start over.
I don't know what it would take for you to become so vulnerable that someone thought they could take advantage of you to that degree. I do know that whatever it would take for you personally, life can be that cruel, and more. Rape is not a female problem, and it's not a male problem. It's a vulnerability problem. If someone ever does take a look at you, and think to themselves, "that guy is so completely under my power that I bet I could get him to blow me" . . . it won't matter a bit that you're a heterosexual man. Getting someone to put up with sexual abuse requires extreme vulnerability. If someone ever thinks they see it in you, for whatever reason, for whatever combination of circumstances is necessary to make that true, there's a good chance they'll be right.
It's true with most kinds of attacks -- the strong aren't the ones who have to worry. The powerful, even the merely self-sufficient, are left alone. The vulnerable people are the ones who are targeted. It's extra true with abuse in general, and sexual abuse in particular. The ones who are targeted are the ones who would need extraordinary outside help in order to stop it. For whatever reason.
That is why it is so important to intervene aggressively if you see a problem. The people who can help themselves are already not targets.
At which point we have to consider they are being coerced to work where they do and thus it should be considered slavery.
Imagine you walked up to some one (of the gender you prefer) who had a dying child that needed a life saving operation and you had enough free income to pay for the procedure.
If you walked past them, would you be guilty of contributing to their death?
If you asked them to trade possessions for the money, would you be guilty of theft?
If you asked the individual to do some non-sexual tasks for the money, would you be guilty of slavery?
If the above are no, why would asking for sex in exchange make one guilty of rape?
That's a very dangerous place for law and social retribution to go. It would actually be better to outlaw sexual relations between people in reporting relationships in employment.
> heterosexual man, regardless of my financial
> circumstances, no one could coerce me into giving
> blowjobs under the threat of losing my job
Yes as a hetro guy you're going to have trouble imagining a situation where you end up with a penis in your mouth, but I suspect with a bit of imagination you can think of how you might end up in a very uncomfortable situation with a female boss that you don't feel you can get out of.
> Most guys would be down with it
And one day, you're not in the mood - it's been a stressful day, or you've just had a difficult work appraisal with the person in question. And you get called in to the office, and the boss says "You know what, my shoulder hurts again. Get to it! You've gotta make a good impression after that shitty appraisal! (smiley face)". And it crosses a line to where it's no longer really consensual, but what can you do? And over the next few weeks, it becomes more and more sexualized, more and more about the power play, and you become increasingly distressed, unhappy, and don't know how to pull the plug, because this person holds significant commercial and social power over you...
And hey, you can't talk to your coworkers about it because "most guys would be down with it", and you know that Bob, your friend the dev-ops will laugh and say "You're pissed off that you're getting some ass off her?" and you certainly can't tell the girl you started dating three weeks ago, and who you'd really like to be faithful to...
> most attractive women can get sex easily. Unatractive women
> on the other hand
As a man, I may have a hard time understanding any nuances here, but I think being known as "the woman who called the police on her boss" would be highly advantageous in creating a filter where the only male bosses who would want to hire you are the ones who know they aren't going to rape you. Or try to fuck you "consensually" (air quotes) either.
The person becomes a very risky hire personally to the new boss then, because if the police were called once, they might be called again, even if you did nothing wrong. And your career and future income might be ruined. It's much safer to just hire the other person with no history of police involvement.
The general principle can be applied to other crimes too.
The practical result of this is that it puts the onus onto the victim: "You didn't resist enough. Therefore your rape was nonviolent; therefore it was a lesser crime."
Rape is sex against one's consent. Your consent is just as violated whether you resisted a little, a lot, or not at all (perhaps you were incapacitated by the attacker.)
In many scenarios the most prudent thing for a victim to do is not to physically resist; as rape is largely a male-on-female crime the victim is frequently at a physical disadvantage.
My wife is a small woman. If God forbid this ever happens to her, I certainly hope that the situation remains nonviolent. But I certainly don't see how that would make it less of a crime.
Let's say I have a family, many mouths to feed, maybe it's the last job I could possibly get in my small town in the middle of nowhere. I hate the job, it sucks the life out of me, I don't want to do it, but I'm forced to "against my will" every single day because otherwise my family will starve to death. If I lose it, I might never find one again. I'm under duress. Sure, there's no sexual abuse in this specific scenario, but as other posters have mentioned, modern definition of rape makes it not about sex, but about power structures.
Am I being raped, in the scenario above?
Note: I want to stress that I'm simply having a philosophical discussion here, I have no agenda, downvotes are pointless.
Your boss comes into the office to fire you. You really really need your job or you and your family starve. You really really don't want to. In fact you would do anything but stoop to this level. But you have no choice and you know he is into you. Your family is starving. You decide to ask your boss, "I'll fuck you if I keep the job." He agrees.
It's still sex against your will. You're only doing it to get the job, so your children don't starve. Were you raped?
I think the important element is this: did person A attempt to coerce person B into having sex? If yes, then A raped B.
Let's apply that to your scenario. Is the boss trying to coerce the employee into having sex? No, the boss is firing the employ because
* Maybe they're a shitty employee, or
* Perhaps because the company has dwindling resources, or
* Fill in the blank.
In your scenario, the employee came up with a plan to try to sell sex in exchange keeping their job. That's prostitution: "the act of having sex in exchange for money." As a boss, I would decline that offer because, among other things, it would probably look like I was threatening to take away the employees job (i.e. coercion) if I wasn't given sex - even if that was never my intent.
If, on the other hand, the boss implied or suggested that the employee could keep their job in exchange for sex, that's coercion and is therefore rape.
It's not about "not wanting to do something", it's about coercion. If I'm legitimately fired and I offer sex in exchange for my job, that _is_ my will. If someone threatens (express of implied) to take my job away unless I have sex with them, that's their will, they're coercing me to have sex with them, and that's rape.
The word or concept has nothing to do with jurisprudence or the idea of jurisdiction which is what many people here keep referencing. A word still holds it's proper definition in the minds of men and it is prudent to defend them as such irregardless of what goes on within government.
Why is "was she technically correct in saying rape" the most important takeaway from this? Even if I'm wrong, don't you see other things worth fixing?
What if the woman knows that her rural grandparents or great aunt would probably look after the kids while the mom was looking for a job (perhaps living in her car part of the time) ? In that case then what you're talking about is not a threat of violence, what you're talking about is a threat of having to leave the so called middle class lifestyle and fall into a diminished or poverty-stricken lifestyle.
It's a horrible thing to have to contemplate because and the lower you fall in the socio-economic todem pole the more physical dangers you're exposed to during the course of everyday living, but that doesn't mean her situation is the same as rape
Not at all. Feminists are doing it to call attention to the true nature of power, and the fact that power is expressed in many ways -- only one of them is physical violence. When your attacker possesses power and you don't, that means that you don't have options (or that they are severely restricted). If you don't have options because someone else restricts them, well, that's the definition of coercion, and sex under coercion means rape.
The definition hasn't changed; rape has always been sex under coercion. All that's changed is that now the law reflects our better understanding of power.
"(b) As used in this section, "duress" means a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, or retribution sufficient to coerce a reasonable person of ordinary susceptibilities to perform an act which otherwise would not have been performed, or acquiesce in an act to which one otherwise would not have submitted. The total circumstances, including the age of the victim, and his or her relationship to the defendant, are factors to consider in appraising the existence of duress."
Furthermore, 261(b) says "this section". The "section" is 261, not 261(a)(7). Note also that 261(a)(7) calls itself "this paragraph", not "this section".
261.7 is a completely different section concerning the evidentiary value of birth control methods: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/PEN/3/1/9/1/s261.7
I guess the question hinges on what is intended by the word "retribution".
It sounds like the young lady experienced sexual harassment and decided that it was worth it to willingfuly have sex with a coworker in order to continue to prop up a financial relationship so that she wouldn't have to deal with the burden of needing to take on some debt, or move in with a relative while she goes out to find another job.
You are assuming that she can somehow show evidence that she believed that it was nearly impossible for her to get another job, and in addition that she believed that losing her income stream would have caused her or her children to actually starve to death. Maybe if she lived in a POW camp where prisoners are assigned strict food rations and a guard was threatening her with losing her only way to get a meal then it would make sense to call it rape rather than sexual harassment. In America though you can go work at McDonalds if you don't have a prior felony record or even go to a homeless shelter.
She could have just sued the bastard to recoup those losses anyways right ? (in theory) Especially if she has that legal background.
I'm not trying to defend the criminal who sexually harassed her but I am trying to point out that falsely accusing someone of rape is a serious crime unto itself.
> In America though you can go work at McDonalds if you
> don't have a prior felony record or even go to a
> homeless shelter.
Would the police do anything about the scenario you outlined above? Wouldn't sexual harassment where the boss trades sexual favors for promotions/job security be considered a civil matter in most places?
In your world view, it it inappropriate for any sexual intercourse to exist between a person of power and a subordinate who might gain from a relationship? Because the conclusion of #2 seems to be that sexual relationships can only exist between social / workplace equals, otherwise it will be M.A.D.
Rape is very serious. Sexual relationships are very complex. Every situation is different, and there is nobody (famous) on this forum that knows all the facts and should comment on this case, and should especially not try to draw conclusions from it.
This is more of a comment about the thread in general than your response, except where I specifically asked questions.
I feel like this is the kind of brave move we'd want to reward, for helping to clean up the whole firm.
Ok, I'm naive. So be it.
I wonder if that is the case here. Certainly sextortion among engineers/scientists would be an extraordinarily troubling state of affairs. But based on the OP's comments here she is referring to rape and that the enabling factor had something to do with social life being mixed up with professional life. So, not exactly extortion but it would have been costly to avoid the person.
This may be pie in the sky but I wonder if a concrete step that startups can take to reduce problems like this is to make a conscious effort to not penalize employees for not attending off-hours social events. Aside from acquaintance rape, obviously, there's also things like not penalizing older employees with kids to go home to or alcoholics who need to avoid enabling environments.
Sextortion could happen even without pressure to hang out in social situations, for example. One person simply extorts another, forces them to meet in private. But what the OP is describing seems to be more in the realm of, I don't want to be alone around this person but I have to for professional reasons, and they keep taking advantage of it to rape.
That might be something that startups can actually target with policies that ensure unsupervised social contact with colleagues is not necessary for professional advancement. That's not really on anyone's radar, it seems.
The definition of rape in California says nothing about "coercion":
It does mention "duress" which implies a threat of violence. If your friend's boss was not threatening violence then it's wrong to call it rape.
" (b) As used in this section, "duress" means a direct or implied
threat of force, violence, danger, or retribution sufficient to
coerce a reasonable person of ordinary susceptibilities to perform an
act which otherwise would not have been performed, or acquiesce in
an act to which one otherwise would not have submitted. The total
circumstances, including the age of the victim, and his or her
relationship to the defendant, are factors to consider in appraising
the existence of duress."
Every question you've asked is based on fear. Doing nothing because of that fear is cowardice. You are defending it. Stop it. Nothing can be borne from it.
Other countries might lump them together, or call them different names. If you're trying to discuss the actual crimes, you'd want to 1) mention what jurisdiction you're talking about and 2) use the actual names of the crimes as per the statute book. But as a practical matter, it's all rape.
If rape is defined to be a crime or class of crimes, it's completely unreasonable to selectively ask people to be very specific about which crimes they mean. In the US I don't believe there is any such crime as rape by threatening to fire someone, or if there is it is not a serious crime.
As someone using a colloquial term for anything sexual without consent, obviously. Sex without consent is generally called rape; most people don't have any clue about the exact legal definitions. You don't even know what legal jurisdiction OP is in; how could you interpret the word as anything but the colloquial definition?
> In the US I don't believe there is any such crime as rape by threatening to fire someone, or if there is it is not a serious crime.
First, sex crimes are defined at the state level in the US, so it doesn't even make sense to discuss what "the" law is in the US. Pick your state, and you get your answer.
Second, if we pick, eg, Michigan, you're describing...hmm. "Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct", which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Not sure about you, but I'd call that a serious crime. Other states have different laws, but generally speaking getting someone to perform an act via the threat of firing is coercion, and penetration achieved via coercion is one of the more serious forms of sexual assault.
But most people don't subscribe to your consent based definition of rape. I think the majority of people would lean towards the force based definition of rape. You personally might think that rape should be defined as sex without consent, but that's a different matter.
True, there has been some movement towards consent based laws in the US, but many states still retain the requirement of force (which could be expanded to include threats and physical restraint).
You are wrong; see for example Wikipedia, which represents a broad agreement of many editors and includes both coercion and abuse of authority as types of rape.
Edit to reply to swatow since I've hit the reply limit: that's a good article and I hope you read it carefully and think about what it says.
Here is an article that discusses the controversy over force based vs consent based definitions of rape.
As your link makes clear, most states, the federal government, the legal community, and popular opinion has moved away from force based definitions as archaic and offensive. Which was, of course, my point.
I mean, it's literally an article about one iconoclasts weird and much criticized view that maybe rape shouldn't be defined as sex without consent. Even if you agree with him, the existence of the article proves that it's a fringe position, right? (And much of the article is actually just Rubenfeld saying he actually agrees with is critics, and disagrees with the historical requirement to show force, so...)
We call sexual coercion rape because it can cause severe and lasting trauma even if physical violence or threat of physical violence is not part of the coercion.
You're missing the threat of violence.
We know rape is statistically a problem and we know it isn't well-studied. We are scientists. The next thing to do is not to listen to panic and get reactionary, it is to dedicate the resources necessary to pursue a proper understanding of it.
We're also engineers and entrepreneurs. I'd like to think we know well enough that to start with the lowest hanging fruit when trying to make positive change.
These are the reasons I'm not really ready to march in here with a "how to fix rape: the article." I would be really excited to see what other people have written as far as possible solutions to this. I'm trying to read through scholarly criminology journals when I have time. They're doing some good work. I wish more smart people were paying attention.
In the meanwhile, what I am for sure is needed is for people to look out a little bit for each other, so if there is somebody in your life who has reason to feel afraid and alone (or afraid of being alone), they know they aren't going to be.
For example, is it after work parties involving alcohol? Does it involve professional blackmail? If so, was there no way to gather evidence that could be used for prosecution, such as a clandestine recording?
It seems to me like there could be an opportunity to speak to the startup community here and now and implement a policy that targets these specific circumstances, and make a difference in the near term.
See her comment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9168542
I think this is pretty common and is why many rapes go un-reported. Reporting some criminal stranger on the street who jumps you seems like a no brainer to me, but reporting someone you thought was a friend and who is friends with most of your friends? I bet a lot of people decide it's not worth upending their lives and starting over for.
Now this sounds rather as an assault, a sick power play, but I would accept it called rape when it involved was sexual amusement but probably sexual assault would be a better term as it would not dilute the meanings confusingly.
Nonetheless this kind of behaviour is sickening and not acceptable by any means but it would explain why it was possible to tolerate it multiple times and how hard it was to do anything to prove that it happened.
I think that it would be much easier to fight with such behaviour by calling it by actual names.
For example "Stop sexual assaults at work" would be in my opinion much more convincing and believable slogan than the exaggerated wording.
This would make the fight with the problem easier as it would not create that much confusion and opposition from it.
Using strong words creates opposition as people would find it by their own experience rather not believable but perhaps they have seen, heard something that would fit sexual assault definition or sexual harassment definition.
I believe that it would be much easier to define and establish the definition of sexual assault in peoples minds and educate them to see it than trying to redefine the established definition of rape in the society.
For clarification, I consider here acts that are described by
"A second colleague at a different institution held me against a wall against my objections and struggles and hit me with objects for his own amusement."
Now again, we should not tolerate this kind of behaviour and we should fight against it but I think it would be easier when we do not call it by too strong names as it would be then easier to establish this as wrongful and not acceptable behaviour in peoples minds.
I think that it is easier to fight with concrete problems individually rather than stretching the definitions.
No, it won't, and let me explain why. One of the well known forms of sexism is what I like to call (I wonder if there's an academic name for this) "everyone's a lawyer". You'll find that often when men report wrongdoings, there's a simple expression of outrage, but when women do, everyone's a lawyer who says "of course that's horrible, but let's call it by the right name".
Leave the precise naming of offenses to the courts; these are legal definitions, after all, and we are not judges and not bound by the rules of evidence. The best way to fight it is to express outrage, period. No caveats, no "right names", and no legal maneuvering that is not our job anyway.
So I doubt your notion that for men we just express outrage when large institutions are able to wrongly redefine things in a way to dismiss male victims.
Of course those "everyone's a lawyer's" types are going to crawl out of the woodwork. Why not call it what it is and not give them any ammo to justify a disgusting action?
This isn't the first time I've seen people on the moral highground undermine their own position by giving their opponents something to focus on that makes sense.
I've never seen a benefit from doing that. Don't give them an inch if you truly want change.
Why does this matter for the topic matter of the essay? For real.
Why is the most important thing to discuss, in response to the issues raised in the essay, technical or legal definitions of the word 'rape'? Apparently most important thing to a great many HN commenters as it's incredibly well-represented this unusually enormous comments thread.
Seriously, I'm asking, why is this such an important or interesting point to so many here, the legal definition or rape?
I thought one of the most interesting and important points in the OP was about moving away from concerns about legal liability and towards concerns about keeping people safe and treated with dignity -- because the former has not accomplished the latter.
Where'd you get the inkling that I thought it was important to argue whether to word rape is the right word? Please quote the section of my comment that gave you that idea. You've made a baseless assumption of what I was saying and went on a tirade.
This is why I hate these sorts of topics on HN. The community morphs into an hot-tempered accusatory group of individuals who hiss at anyone who sounds like they may not be on their side.
The part where you engaged in argument about whether rape was the right word (for some hypothetical undescribed situation), arguing it was important not to use it unless it was... was where I got that idea. So, the whole comment.
I'm sorry if I got the wrong idea, and at any rate I acknowledge I was reacting to the direction of this collective thread with many participants, not just specifically to your post. In fact, I wrongly assumed you were the same person who participated in the replied-to replied-to post, without checking the names.
I am also sorry that you feel your safety was threatened by my post, requiring you to reply to restore your safety, my intent was not to threaten your safety in any way.
You're accusatory tone set me in a light that made me look like The Bad Guy™. I don't like looking like The Bad Guy™ so and having already been downvoted, for the "safety" of my reputation, I felt the need to respond to your comment.
(Yeah, now _that_, which I just wrote, does sound accusatory, I agree. from the demand that you quote me, to calling your post a 'tirade'. You know where I got the template.)
That's why I hate these sorts of topics on HN. The community morphs into a hot-tempered accusatory group of individuals who takes any discussion of gendered discrimination and violence in the workplaces as an attack on them personally, and responds by attacking the honesty, intelligence, or motivation of the women describing their experiences, usually while descending into philosophical sophistry instead of actually engaging the subject matter in an honest discussion of how we can reduce people's feelings of unsafety in our workplaces.
Someone is downvoting every comment I leave in this thread but I'm going to go out on a limb and explain myself in case you truly care why I believe your post was accusatory and mine wasn't.
pron (the user I originally replied to) said:
> Leave the precise naming of offenses to the courts; these are legal definitions, after all, and we are not judges and not bound by the rules of evidence. The best way to fight it is to express outrage, period.
It seemed to me pron's argument was essentially even if someone was not raped and was instead sexually harrassed they should call it rape as to express outrage. That argument seemed so absurd to me that I felt I needed confirmation that was in fact the argument being made and so I replied to them with the comment:
> Are you saying even if it wasn't a rape by whatever your very own definition of rape, you would rather call it rape to express outrage?
That's it. I was not attempting to be accusatory but just seeking clarification.
You on the other hand asked me:
> Are you saying that it's important to argue about whether the word 'rape' is the right word or not?
Which came straight out of left field for me and thus your comment felt accusatory to me. I didn't feel I did something and but felt I was accused of doing it and thus described your comment as accusatory.
You seem to dislike me. I don't know why. You seem like you care about gender equality. That makes you sound like a nice person. But that way you talk to me is so off-putting and I don't know why you feel the need to be so venomous to someone asking a question. This is not unique to you and not the first time I encountered someone like this on HN. Maybe if we weren't communicating via text and instead speaking to one another face to face we'd treat each other differently. I hope that's what it would be like.
People who act maliciously don't need justification from me. But sexism is usually inadvertent, and "everyone's a lawyer" is a classic, usually innocent, response. So people who are not misogynist, but simply sexist (and we all are to some degree) -- because that's how we've been trained to be -- can benefit from me pointing out this difference in how we respond to stories by women differently from those by men. My goal is not to maintain the moral high ground (which I know I possess in this case anyway), but simply to educate those who wish to learn. Change will be made through education of the "innocent sexists"; not by reforming misogynists.
Are you saying even if it wasn't a rape by whatever your very own definition of rape, you would rather call it rape to express outrage?
I see a lot these sorts of threads end up with people talking past each other and not really responding to each other questions. Let's try not to do that. We can maybe move forward in the conversation and perhaps you can educate me on the topic. But if you don't answer straight-forward yes or now question I'm just left wondering if I should take any education I receive from you seriously.
What I think is terrible, though, is that when a fellow worker in my industry describes a horrible experience, some people's first response is to discuss the precise legal definition of said horrible experience. It does not surprise me, though, as "everybody's a lawyer" is a very common sexist response to such events. You'll notice that stories by men are not met with the same discourse.
In any case, the very first thing for someone wishing to learn how sexism and racism work, is by reading this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_(social_and_political)
The sum of all the things she has dealt with are incredibly saddening to me. I have met Katy before and seen how much she did for Hacker Dojo and have a lot of respect for her.
I think the focal point for change is exactly what she is saying regarding "whistle blowers". Someone that comes forward to reveal crimes whether it be Snowden or a woman sexually harassed or raped by a colleague should be respected and not pilloried and made persona non-grata. Bring this bullshit into the light.
For all company events pair people up and make each persons' well-being the other person's responsibility. In the sense that they will share the responsiblity for reporting issues about things that happen to either of the pair, and not that they would be somehow liable for the other person's well-being. You could give people an option to anonymously "blacklist" certain partners if they don't feel safe around them, or anonymously "whitelist" certain pairings with people who they know they are comfortable around.
Bottom line, if it's not good enough to make a person's well-being their own responsibility then distribute the workload across at least one, and perhaps many other people within the organization.
I liked the OP for it's message in that direction.
So the reasoning goes: It appears there needs to be some mechanism in place to hold people accountable for their actions. Not that we don't want the overarching goal to teach people how to respect others, but that's a life lesson, and not necessarily something that you can put a definitive timeline on in terms of when you're going to achieve your goal.
I think a real-world solution needs to recognize that you can't guarantee that all employees will understand or follow your guidelines for how to behave in the workplace. So it follows that part of the plan needs to incorporate accountability. It's far more difficult to hold someone accountable when all you have is hearsay. With 3rd party testimony, however, a company is going to have more data to use when trying to figure out / arbitrate a dispute or investigate a claim of harassment.
So, in principle I like the idea that people have mentioned where everyone should be responsible for everyone else. In theory this looks like it's a great idea, but in practice if this is your only rule / policy, it makes it very difficult for people to gauge whether progress is being made, or if they'll ever accomplish their goal. When you have a specific responsibility I find it's going to be far easier for the person to comprehend and observe whether or not they're accomplishing or are on the path to accomplish their objectives of keeping the workplace safe for everyone.
Imagine if one day Larry Page sends out a memo to all Google employees, and says that he's decided to change how they operate. From today forward, "There are no longer specific jobs or goals. Instead we're all just going to concentrate on our one overarching goal. All employees are now in charge of making sure the company makes money". And that's the only direction that is given. It's one big overarching goal and everyone just needs to make sure that happens. No specific tasks are laid out for any one individual in order to make that happen. Now consider this scenario in contrast to the world at Google today where I imagine everyone, though in spirit are all working toward the single overarching goal of the company, each "cog in the wheel" has their own specific responsibilities to make that happen.
That part of the story sounds made up.
And if it were this bad, why would she fear being ostracized? If my options were to stay in an industry and be repeatedly harassed, beaten, and raped, or switch careers, I don't think it'd be a tough call.
A place where abusing a coworker is OK is just a bad place to work. You might not be the target of the abuse at that time, but you'll get shafted for any other reason on any other subject (e.g. raises, project assignments, perks...).
Basically if it's just one bad apple, you should get help outing the problem. If most of the company is fucked up, you'll have to decide if you really want to stay there, and for me more often than not it's not worth it. Leaving a job can be seen as a privilege, but if you're actually getting regular abuse, it might as well be the only sane choice.
If you are raped and do nothing about it, you're certainly not deserving of being raped again by the same guy. He's still a monster. But when it happens you've been a party to it. And you definitely can't complain that the company or industry you work for is sitting idly by and allowing it if you never reported it to them in the first place.
Now if you did report it and nothing happened, that's a problem. I can't imagine what I'd do if an employee came to me with that, and thankfully I've never had to, but I promise you it wouldn't be nothing.
Rape is not something you should just let people get away with and move on with your life
A crowd gathers, and shouts "Leave the enclosure, climb out, there's a ladder!"
Another crowd gathers and shouts at the first crowd "Shut up. Stop blaming the victim!"
Which crowd has your best interests at heart?
You unwittingly fall into an enclosure filled with angry chimpanzees.
Some of the chimpanzees are guarding a ladder. You can't see where it leads.
You notice other people have fallen into the enclosure too. They help you stand up and remind you that the chimps suck.
Who has your best interests at heart?
- Tech has this particular weird cultural self-view that we all see ourselves and each other as middle-school nerds emerging victorious, as people who got past the bullies and the ills of "normal people" society, as people who were friendless (and dateless) in school but have found our own little environment now where we can be accepted as we are. So there's a tendency to think that we're not capable of the same sort of awfulness, and that we're better people than the other industries. There's a tendency, subconsciously, to think that if someone's saying something bad about any of our people, they're no better than our middle school bullies. We need to get over that and admit that the tech industry is like any other industry.
- On a different and simpler note, tech is our industry. I don't have nearly as much say about the culture of, say, big law firms or furniture design studios, than I do about the culture of companies where I work and where I might consider working.
Regarding Google, did you see this discussion, which was on the HN home page yesterday? https://plus.google.com/+KellyEllis/posts/L4wawXpNt25
Guess who's the next group of rich people thinking their bubble's never going to pop?
So what if that's true? Is the important story here how we've become victims of the media?
Also, software is one of the very few (only?) industries where women participation has been dropping steadily, so I find it likely that the situation in tech is worse than in finance (they've had years to learn). Besides, it is Silicon Valley that likes to wave the false flag of meritocracy.
I have no idea how the tech industry compares to other industries in terms of treatment of women. What I can say for certain is that we do not have the amazing complaints of cocaine fueled parties filled with hookers that seem to regularly emerge from the world of finance.
Your finance industry stereotypes are about 30 years out of date. Wall Street is way less flagrant about their excess these days.
Meanwhile, in tech... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titstare
Not as blatant as the "golden age", perhaps, but it seems "hookers and blow" still figure in the lifestyle. A former hedge fund trader published a book a couple years ago detailing how his company (within the last decade) plied clients with prostitutes and a wide array of illegal narcotics:
Then there's the BofA banker who, last December, was found to have gone off the rails, from continual partying, and killed two sex workers:
> The excesses of 1980s New York investment banking as captured best (and with just a dose of hyperbole) by Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho may be long gone in the US...
According to one tip the SEC received in 2007 about Galleon: "Prostitution is rampant for executives visiting Galleon. You will find that the Super Bowl parties for the executives, paid for by Galleon Group, include prostitutes and other forms of illegal entertainment."
But I guess the author took it down on purpose. It is not hard to guess why, based on the nature of _this_ comment thread.
This is the crux of the matter and where most men run into trouble with this whole discussion.
Let's say she comes forward and accuses a coworker of rape. The coworker denies the allegations and says she's lying to punish him for some work-related disagrement, or because he turned her down for a date or something. She doesn't have any recordings or physical proof. It's just her word against his.
Now what?? Well if you want to get a sense of what typically happens, take a look at this thread, in which multiple men are spending thousands of words debating the fine points of what exactly is bad enough to count as "rape", and why didn't she just quit, etc.
Basically: when there is not solid proof, guys tend to stick up for each other--and there are way way more guys in tech than women.
That's why she would fear being ostracized.
I'm assuming most of the people who have been sexually assaulted have no proof of the incident. So while it wouldn't necessarily "turn out to be false," there's a definite risk of people thinking that she was making the whole incident up for attention/out of spite/to get the other guy fired, etc. I think that's where the author's fear is coming from.
Well, but that's the problem. She's not saying she will be labelled a liability, but that the environment she works in makes her fear that she would.
As sexism is all about power, this is how power works. It's not only in the written rules, but in the atmosphere. Those in the position of less power feel afraid to take advantage of the law/rules, because they're afraid this will somehow be used against them, whether this is what will actually happen or not. You see this not only among women in tech, but among groups that have for a long time been on the receiving end of law enforcement when it comes to calling the police. This fear that the rules won't work in your favor is a great demonstration of how power works.
As it turned out, it's an incredibly interesting, important, and sad essay on the severe consequences that exist for women who fight for their own physical/emotional safety (and the safety of others).
If you want to know how people can repeatedly rape coworkers and get away with it, you should read this article.
* Two people get drunk and hook up after a party... afterwards the woman cries rape. (there's a difference between rape and a bad decision)
* A person asks another person they work with out. (this isn't harassment, though once a firm no is given they should not ask again)
The problem with the first, is it does happen, for any number of reasons... the second less so, but often women will give a soft decline instead of just saying they aren't interested.
On the flip side, continual harassment, rape, sexism and just general asshole behavior does exist, and should rightly be called out. The trouble is, without repeated offenses, it's almost impossible to know the difference as an outsider.
Did I miss somewhere in the post where the regret of a (mutually) drunken one-night-stand was equated with rape? Or are you bringing this up because you believe such occurrences happen often?
If it's the latter, would you mind sharing sources? I've heard people suggest that these things happen (where the "victim" was either embarrassed of sleeping with the person, or perhaps was ashamed due to their morals), but I have never seen a man or women ever claim that they were raped when it was in reality just "a bad decision" ... which makes me wonder if the mentioning of the scenario you give is just a common device for distracting from the topic of rape.
I think the following scenario should be easy to understand (if not familiar) for most people:
A person is walking down the street, when somebody approaches them and tells them to surrender their wallet.
What would most people recommend in this situation?
"Let them take your wallet, there's no point in risking your life"?
What if the person being mugged revealed they were carrying a weapon capable of deadly force?
Would you recommend that they use it to defend themselves?
Would your recommendation change if the threatening person in question had a position of default trust (e.g. a police officer), or a member of a powerful gang?
Now imagine a person in a scenario where, instead of just walking down the street, they are approached _in their office_ by somebody they trust, and instead of being asked for their wallet, they are asked for something incredibly more traumatic and unrecoverable, under the threat of complete financial destruction or possibly even physical harm.
I would never want to find out which way I would decide, in any of these situations. It's abominable that anyone should have to make that kind of choice, and it's worse still that it seems to be happening under our very noses and nobody can see it.
I think this article sets forth some very powerful, actionable ideas that are not only gender-neutral, but generally applicable in many other industries for many other classes of people who need options.
I think the lowest hanging fruit in your own workplace will be to make sure the escalation structures that already exist are strong, protect those who are afraid, and have clearly defined expected fair outcomes for when a complaint is heard. Too often reports of problems just disappear into management and die down before anything happens because nobody's planned out what they are suppose to do if there is a problem.
On the other hand I swear like a sailor, although I try to pull back from it in public - I occasionally slip. Especially when I'm dropping the C bomb (usually targeted at an inanimate object).
Is it unprofessional? Yes. Should I be judged? Fuck yes. Do I care?
What did they say?
I am pleased that it's on the HN front page. And I was at first pleased to see such a long comments thread, that people were interested in discussing it.
But man, this discussion is depressing me. Arguing about the legal definition of rape, really, that's what HN feels like talking about in response to this piece?
But if the definition of mugged was that someone's colleague repeatedly left them with $500 bar tabs that they felt compelled to pay, then we might say, yeah, I see the issue. It's not actually a legal mugging in such a case, even if it's effectively as bad (minus the trauma of having, say, a gun pointed at you).
For real, bro?
So let me get this straight, you're either upset that someone was mugged or stabbed without calling the cops, or you're upset (but maybe not as upset) that a colleague has done something worse than mugging or stabbing (a colleague of yours? that you know of? Have you considered calling the police?)
You can 'see the issue' with $500 bar tabs, but not with muggings? Or wait, by 'you can see the issue' you mean you don't believe the author, you think she's lying or confused when she writes 'rape', unless she says that she didn't really mean rape, in which case now you 'see the issue' and are wiling to support doing something about it? If you don't believe the author, it would be less confusing if you just said so. Or is it that you're only willing to do something about $500 bar tabs if you can first convince the person subject to them to stop calling it a mugging, cause that's the important thing here, eliminating that mugging/bar-tab confusion which is a scourge on our society? Me, I'd start out assuming if the author wrote rape she didn't mean a $500 bar tab. But the ironic thing is that most of the essay isn't actually about rape.
Man. Yeah, I'm not contributing to a useful conversation, I realize. I have no idea how the author manages to engage in this sort of conversation -- which the OP article is, an engagement in this sort of conversation, as well as the author's participation in this reddit thread -- while maintaining such an even temper, and always making the most charitable possible interpretation of everyone's comments (or at least successfully pretending to). I am impressed. I would need to work a lot harder than apparently I'm willing to, to pull that off.
One way of making sense of it is determining that an unlawful act wasn't committed. Then, yeah, you can't call the cops, it's not "really rape" (according to the law), and it's terrible because there's no recourse without destroying one's career.
I'm not saying that's what happened to the OP. Just explaining why the definition of rape matters. If it was legal rape, then we're left wondering even more why going to the cops wasn't an option. If it wasn't legal rape, then it's much more difficult.
(And in case my writing wasn't clear, I'm suggesting that a $500 bar tab could be called a mugging, if you didn't willingly pay for it. But the law wouldn't consider that a mugging. So if someone meant a colleague pulled a knife on them repeatedly, then yeah, the response is "what about the cops"? Whereas in the bar tab scenario, I can " see the issue " of no recourse. Same way that you might sleep with someone because you felt you had to, but the law wouldn't consider that a rape. I'm not saying this is what happened to the OP, at all, just responding to your questioning of why HN would discuss the definitional aspects.)
1: This is further aggravated by some people thinking rape is over claimed, perhaps in response to other people suggesting that two drunk people having sex means they taped raped each other. And by extension, that means people on permanent medication, who are never "sober" are always being raped. Totally unrelated to the OP, yet a driver of rather useless discussion.
2: And I probably am terrible for saying this, but I just don't tend to empathize with such stories much. The huge amount of suffering in the world overall (let alone the disgusting implications of MWI) has numbed me. Plus the situation described is not very relatable to me. While I experienced the outrage when personal (eg when something happened to my daughter), other accounts tend to provoke a more... distanced reaction. Having nothing to contribute or say regarding the actual problem, I'll respond to branching topics like yours. Terrible as that is, perhaps that's another explanation for the type of discussion you find here. And I'm probably not the only guy on HN with similar feelings, maybe.
I'd like to add the only education available to teach people social interactions, outside of being self-taught, is PUA material, as well as in-house education on how to influence masses in the intelligence community. Which means if you weren't in a situation to talk to enough people while you were growing up, later on in life you'll miss out on jobs, you'll feel insecure, you'll make inappropriate comments, you'll have difficulty making friends, you'll have difficulty seducing a potential mate, you'll get divorced later on due to inability to manage arguments and fights and conflicts.
Families have been getting smaller - first people stopped living with close to their relatives, then people stopped living with their parents and siblings, and now people begin to stop living with their husbands or wives, and children without at least one of their parents, and parents having fewer siblings in general.
People are receiving less practical experience in interacting socially as they are growing up. You either fit in at school and do well, or you don't and isolate yourself and fall behind.
We have a mess at university campuses.
We have a mess in tech companies.
We have growing numbers of men who are 'losers'.
We have growing numbers of women who can't get married if they want to.
We have growing instances of inappropriate behaviour at work.
Men and women resorting to electronic means to communicate, and avoiding face-to-face interaction, even among friends.
Parents sent to nursing homes, pension spending growing and unsustainable.
People growing up with little to no spiritual values besides materialism.
I think all of these stem from smaller families, causing less exposure to social interaction with others of the same age as well as with the older generation, resulting in less wisdom passed down, and decreased social ability of people growing up.
And it's only going to continue to get worse.
Though maybe people getting poor and being forced to stay with their parents for long might just be where the second derivative is beginning to turn.
I had a boss once who knew he was sexist (also homophobic and transphobic), but was trying to get over it. He said some incredibly dumb things, like offering to have a company meeting at a strip club. He genuinely had bizarre concepts of what’s appropriate and inappropriate behavior. He was ashamed of this and really trying to improve. Listening to him quote the sexual harassment seminars was the saddest bit: on one hand he was really trying, but on the other, everything he was quoting made absolutely no sense. I frequently found him putting so much effort in where it didn’t really matter, like obsessively counting how many times he had asked a man vs a woman to carry heavy equipment. He always seemed overloaded with things to remember about “not being sexist” and afraid to get something wrong. It seemed almost heartless to risk getting him in trouble.
On the whole, however, I don’t hold against him all the inappropriate things he did. The best I could do was kindly remind my boss when something made me uncomfortable, but he always looked panicked when I did. I didn’t want to get him in trouble; in fact, half of my comments to him started with phrases like “you know people are going to take it the wrong way if they hear you saying that.” I wish my male peers had helped him more in this regard. I feel they could have done it without making my boss feel like he was being directly threatened with a huge HR complaint. It’s a real shame for our tech culture that there is no way to get somebody tutored about what is and isn’t appropriate without also landing them in deep trouble.
And yes I think with a larger family you're less likely to have men thinking its OK to corner a woman in office, because they'll have better upbringing. If you want to change culture the best chance you have is the educate your children because of all people they will be most receptive of your perspective.
Thanks for the snark anyway, I deserved it because I see family as a good thing to have, and as such I'm a rapist. And thanks for derailing the points OP and I were making. I deserve to be hanged by the side of the road, by social activists like you (according to your profile).
You know what increases in large families? Chances of sibling sexual abuse. http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/111312p18.shtml
> social activists like you
You say it like it's a bad thing. :)
She suggested a phenomenon and I suggested a cause.
Because there was less rape when there were larger family. Right...
Your sarcasm indicates you think there was more rape in larger families, yet you claim our culture have become a rape culture.
If there hasn't been more rape, then it's just culture, or there is more rape nowawdays, and nowadays there are small families, and there would have been less rape when there used to be bigger ones.
Anywhere you have men and women together there's always a chance of hetero- sexual abuse, you suggest smaller families will reduce chance of sexual abuse, but why not suggest female only offices to reduce chance of work place abuse? Of course that's not the right thing to do, and the right thing to do is to educate men not to sexual abuse in the first place. How are you going to get people to educate their children, if their children spend all day with a 14 year old babysitter watching tv (and you know, porn) while their parents both work, and never visit their aunts, uncles and grandparents?
It's getting to be a long discussion and I'd like to hear more logical and well-argued points than snark and rhetoric from your perspective, if you can leave your email or have a website or something we can continue this discussion there. Maybe you're on mobile, that's why I'm unconvinced.
I think one confounding issue with sexism in tech is that companies find it so uncomfortable to talk about that they shy away from real analysis - adopting whatever policy comes to mind without seriously examining what the root cause was and whether they're addressing it.
The only solution is cogent discussion, like this excellent article.
I don't know, maybe I'm wrong and I've just never seen it.
Either way, it's not on and it needs to stop
In fact, the most sexist behavior I've encountered in the workplace was a manager who had a propensity to interrupt women more often than men. I mentioned this to him in private. Apparently, it was an unconscious bias. Afterwards, he made an effort to correct for it.
Outside of the workplace (parties, bars, public transportation), I've encountered much worse: people getting cornered, felt-up, etc. But that's always involved strangers or acquaintances, not coworkers.
And it should go without saying, but I really feel for the author. :(
Yeah, I mean, fucking hell. Seriously? I don't really understand how this can happen. It's just not thinkable in any professional context I have ever experienced. It's about as unthinkable as if a black speaker got on stage and some racists started throwing them peanuts - those people would not remain in the room very long. If security did nothing, the rest of the crowd would probably forcefully throw them out.
It seems some women (in tech or in other places) live in a very bizarre, warped world full of complete assholes. I can understand that they're very upset about that - I would be too. I would not tolerate remaining in such an environment, it affronts my basic sense of decency as a human being. But - I have never observed anything like this, ever, whereas this seems to be commonplace in that strange parallel universe where these women are living.
Edit: Interesting that when I was looking at this comment just now it was at -1. Now back at +1. Not quite sure what there is to downvote here. I'm not disagreeing with the OP, just saying that in my career I have never observed the kind of disgusting behaviour she describes. Clearly it must be happening somewhere since so many women report it. I just wonder where.
Even if I was disagreeing with the OP, what is there to downvote? Is disagreement no longer allowed on this site?
The incident in question was my talk at DEFCON 19 right before the camera started rolling. I want to reiterate that THEY MADE GOOD ON THIS and I am NOT MAD. I feel like everybody learned a lot and things will be better now.
But yeah, there were over 1000 people in the room for that talk, I'm sure if it comes down to a "did it happen" or "did it not happen" we can pull up enough witnesses. That one is pretty cut and dry.
Here's the point series I tried to make in the article: bad things happen, when they happen nobody knows what to do about them, and we won't make systems which handle these problems properly until enough people give enough fucks so that they are actually properly made.
Totally agree with the point of your article btw. I've strived to create these systems in my own company (and I think I've delivered on steps 1 and 2 - step 3 indicates an area for improvement for us, though).
In fact, I'm going to forward this article to a couple of people on my team to discuss if we're doing this well enough. Thanks for writing it.
That makes much more sense. DEFCON, a hacker convention where each speaker seems obligated to comment on how much they've had to drink - while holding a beer. Also, "hacker" being closer to the juvenile antics of webpage defacement - not the making of blinking sweaters with lilypad kits and hot glue.
It bothers me to think that females have some responsibility for avoiding these sort of situations (blaming the victim, etc), but hell - I'm a 30 year old man in the security industry and I avoid DEFCON.
My mom went to Long Beach to meet my dad before they got married. He was returning from Vietnam at the end of the war. She was gangraped in a alley by about five guys.
My sister was raped by my cousin when she was 13 and we were on a camping trip. She is 40 years old now and after a night out crashed on a friends couch and woke up to him jerking off on her back (this was a few months ago).
Things like this happen a lot and shit like "I have never seen so it can't be true" are part of the reason why you barely ever hear of it.
If you have a mom and sister the odds are pretty good one of them have been raped.
Dropping truth-bombs are we.
For shame - polarising the discussion doesn't help anyone. :-( Those who downvote reflexively in this manner are precisely the ones who most need to pause, read carefully, and try to learn to see things from more than one perspective...
I asked a friend why she wasn't going to Linux.conf.au. She stopped going after she was sexually assaulted at one.
It's not just a US problem.
Every time I read an article along these lines I feel even more grateful to work in environments where there haven't been glass ceilings, hiring is on merit and the workplaces are incredibly diverse.
A workplace with one must have quite a few victims, a workplace without one is full of people that never heard anything like this.
I feel like we all joined this community because we thought we could change stuff.
A "focus on the legal frameworks" is not the only avenue for action, and may not be the most effective -- whether in the tech industry or elsewhere.
We're talking about the tech industry because it's HN and we're all in the talk industry, that's the one we know.
If we started the conversation with the tech industry -- which we know best -- but used what we learned to expand to look at other industries and environments too, talking to people in them too, that sounds like it could be useful. Instead, somehow here we are bizarrely motivated to expand the focus from the tech industry to 'everywhere' as a means to avoid talking about it at all?
While we can work on our own to try to improve the tech sector, I firmly believe that a more effective solution (for both the tech sector and the country at large) is to address it via legal means and education.
I liked the essay for having some concrete and practical suggestions for what we can do organizationally and personally, that are neither 'legal frameworks' nor exactly just 'sexual harassment policies'. Did you read that part? What do you think?
The Twitter thread starts here:
The following is Ellis's statement, and then one of her more earnest "Oh really?" critics:
Ellis: Rod Chavez is an engineering director at Google, he sexually harassed me, Google did nothing about it. Reprimanded me instead of him
Twitter user: That's a very serious allegation. Hope you have evidence to back it up.
Ellis: Lol already dudes going, "where's the proof?" Do you expect women to wear wires whenever they're sexually harassed? Trust women.
Twitter user: there is a difference between questioning and accusations. I'm not calling her liar. Just requesting evidence...In general, to have been a victim of a crime, and not seeing the offender be punished must be awful. But there is a reason...we have the right to a fair trial. We all know the consequences of letting random people on the Internet serve justice.
Again, I've never been raped. But the last time I made a criminal complaint, it was when I was robbed of my phone at gunpoint a few years ago in New York. Granted, I acted quite foolishly...not having my phone, and not having used a payphone in years...My first instinct was to continue heading home, which was about 6 to 7 blocks away, so that I could lookup the nearest police station and walk over there...not realizing I could dial 911 anywhere, or at least go into the nearest storefront. So that bizarre behavior led to me getting quite the grilling from the first detective to respond, who outright accused me of making up the story because I didn't want to admit that I had a rough night with a hooker who robbed me of my belongings (apparently it's weird for a man to walk alone through Greeenwich Village at night)?
Anyway, long story short, no big deal. I knew I had plenty of evidence that this happened to me, including having tracking software on my (Android) phone...and while that was my first time being a victim of a violent crime, I've had enough experience with cops (being a former cops reporter) to understand where the skepticism was coming from, and also, to know that it was pretty tame compared to what other victims get. That said, if that was the treatment that I got, for an extremely cut-and-dry kind of crime (not too many debates over what constitutes armed robbery)...can you imagine the process that a rape victim has to go through? Or in the case of Ellis, someone who experienced non-criminal sexual harassment? Reporting a crime or a violation isn't as simple as hitting a button, it always consists of a non-trivial process (for me, besides the 4 hours of waiting for and then talking to the detective on the night of the incident, I missed a couple days of work to go to the station, fill out paperwork, do more interviews, etc).
To use the parlance of today's times, there's considerable "friction" in reporting an incident, regardless of the complexity of the issue. Whatever your stance on "is sexual harassment a prevalent problem or not?", at least recognize that the reporting of such a problem is easier to think about than to actually do.
To elaborate a little more...in my situation, the choice to report a crime was pretty obvious: I want my phone back, and also, the robber is obviously in the wrong. Quite frankly, I don't think I would've gone to the cops had it been a midnight phone-snatching (it's New York after all)...but since the robber escalated it by introducing a weapon, can't really just ignore the incident.
From my understanding, a rape or harassment victim does not have even remotely such an easy decision. Besides the emotional trauma, there's a huge amount of plain confusion -- rape/harassment is almost always perpetrated by someone who knows the victim, and sometimes someone the victim considered to be a friend. If a friend randomly punches me and takes my phone, after the "WTF was that about?" that I'd go through...I'm not even sure I could just go straight to the cops...Maybe my friend was drunk? Or pulling an elaborate prank? I'd at least want to call him (or email him, since he has my phone). And I guarantee that unless the punch caused serious injury to me, the cops are going to say, "WTF is wrong with you and your friend?", not immediately put out an all-points-bulletin to arrest my friend. And even if he's clearly in the wrong, think about all awkwardness in your social network that comes when the cops do arrive and arrest your friend...and we're not even at the indictment phase yet.
So again, just making assumptions, but when the crime is as controversial and "he said/she said" as rape or harassment...the decision to make a report does not at all seem like an easy one.
She went public with concrete names and bad things that happened to her while working at Google, regarding both an engineering manager Rod Chavez, and a VP, Vic Gondotra. While there were a few of the expected "where's the proof" people on Twitter, as Kelly said, the large majority of responses she got were supportive, from lots of men and women.
In addition, in the google+ thread, several people from inside Google expressed shock (they only heard about it now, it wasn't common knowledge across the company) and mentioned that a lot of noise is going on internally right now about this.
Gondotra isn't still with Google, but Chavez is. I would bet that won't be for long.
Overall, the responses internally at Google were horrible, back then. HR tried to save the company from liability, not help her. But when she went public now, the responses were good, and change might actually happen.
As the saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant. The article here is correct to say that it's scary to be a whistleblower, but Kelly Ellis shows it's possible to be brave, and that the industry and community will in fact react positively when you do.
You raise a good point, but the problem is that not all supportiveness is equal.
There are a lot of people who share their opinions when an incident like this goes public, and depending on what communities you happen to draw the attention of, the response may well be more positive than negative. But there's a much smaller number of people (like bosses and future bosses, for instance) whose response will have a real, tangible effect on your career and future.
If those few people happen to be an unlucky random sample -- like, say, the HN commenter who said about Kelly Ellis that "the only thing I have learnt from this and the Adria Richards nonsense is when I am hiring I will screen for radical feminism" -- then the supportive comments from complete strangers don't mean much. And so it's understandable why someone would be reluctant to take that risk.
In other words, even if some wary bosses would see any whistleblowing as a risk factor, the fact is that the large majority of responses she got were positive. People believe her, and people strongly feel she got treated unfairly. She's also, according to many accounts, a talented engineer. Signs for her future employment are very positive.
She also mentioned herself that her current job at Medium is with a very supportive team. (edit: i misunderstood something here)
Once more, none of this is to diminish the understandable concerns with going public with allegations. But in the Ellis case, I think we see that the overall outcome can be quite positive. It's good for the whistleblower, it's good for the tech industry as a whole, it's really just bad only for the small amount of bad people we need to get rid of.
Also, in defense of the NYPD detectives, I do not think it was "corruption" that caused the issue...again, things are rarely so black-and-white, good-and-evil. The next day, I was assigned a more enthusiastic detective, and a week later, the suspect was caught by an alert detective who was made aware of the suspect's description. The better explanation is that my story fit the pattern/biases of the initial detective who feels he's seen this shit before, etc. etc., and in his years of work, feels he's entitled to some skepticism.
But again, whether it's the result of actual "corruption" or just "normalcy"...who can really tell the difference?
Do you expect women to wear wires whenever they're sexually harassed?
As much as I want to read this as hyperbole it doesn't look like that's the case. I guess it may be because I consider myself a level-headed person, and have (to the best of my knowledge) never even interacted with someone that vicious.
A person like that doesn't deserve just to be reprimanded. They should be in jail.