Defensive Womaning and Navigating Missing Stairs

 

My husband and I met a potential new landlord yesterday, and without either of us realizing it, each of us walked away with very different impressions of what had happened during the meeting. The meeting was an ambiguous image, like the rabbit-duck or old-woman-young-woman illusion. Many human meetings are like that, particularly between the sexes.

Those of us who occasionally follow what feminists are saying, if only as reconnaissance, may have heard of the “missing stair problem” (warning: link not entirely SFW). Imagine a house with a poorly-lit stairway containing a missing stair. Everyone who lives there knows to step over the missing stair. Everyone who visits regularly knows about the stair, too. But a new visitor would not know, and if not told in time, might stumble and fall. Some people, the analogy goes, are like that missing stair – others must carefully work around them to avoid getting hurt, and the hazard they pose is simply taken for granted by those in the know. Sexual predators, in particular, are likened to the missing stair, especially sexual predators who aren’t “lone wolves” but who have ingratiated themselves into a community, where they become a fixture, and others take on the duty of attempting to protect innocent members from the predator (while also protecting the predator from social ostracism or having to change his ways) rather than “fixing the stair” by refusing to tolerate his predatory behavior.

Eventually you take it for granted that working around this guy is just a fact of life, and if he hurts someone, that’s the fault of whoever didn’t apply the workarounds correctly.

I have seen this happen. Most memorably at a church.

Myriad caddish, wolfish, or creepy behaviors fall short of being criminal, while some go beyond merely overstepping moral bounds and actually violate the law. Some guys are merely awkward and sometimes accidentally overstep bounds without meaning to. Others use ambiguity and the pretext of accident as cover for deliberately overstepping boundaries. The truly predatory are masters of the art of exploiting social ambiguity to take advantage, but many young men in love or at least in lust are a mix of trying to take advantage while also being rather overwhelmed themselves. How young women ought to act when surprised by – let’s just call it caddishness – is obviously an endlessly absorbing topic of conversation.

Evidently, young women should be schooled in defensive womaning, just as we school youths in defensive driving. It seems that girls used to get defensive womaning lessons, but we’ve dropped the ball with the past few generations:

I was a teenager in the late 1970s, long past the great awakening (sexual intercourse began in 1963, which was plenty of time for me), but as far away from Girl Power as World War I was from the Tet Offensive. The great girl-shaping institutions, significantly the magazines and advice books and novels that I devoured, were decades away from being handed over to actual girls and young women to write and edit, and they were still filled with the cautionary advice and moralistic codes of the ’50s…

…They told us over and over again that if a man tried to push you into anything you didn’t want, even just a kiss, you told him flat out you weren’t doing it. If he kept going, you got away from him. You were always to have “mad money” with you: cab fare in case he got “fresh” and then refused to drive you home. They told you to slap him if you had to; they told you to get out of the car and start wailing if you had to. They told you to do whatever it took to stop him from using your body in any way you didn’t want, and under no circumstances to go down without a fight. In so many ways, compared with today’s young women, we were weak; we were being prepared for being wives and mothers, not occupants of the C-Suite. But as far as getting away from a man who was trying to pressure us into sex we didn’t want, we were strong.

Neither liberals nor conservatives have given girls great lessons in defensive womaning lately. Anyone on the Right can recite the litany of what makes the Left’s lessons to young women bad – generally some variation on “this lesson encourages young women to avoid taking responsibility for themselves”. The Right’s lessons to young women don’t share a unifying flaw. Some lessons are too moralistic (“don’t do bad things and you won’t have to worry”). Some suffer from not being moral enough (“boys will be boys” or “experience is the best teacher!”). Advice on when and how young women should resort to violence in defense of their innocence tends to be conflicting: As conservatives, we don’t want to say violence is never the answer, but preparing young women to use violence to effectively deter unwanted sexual advances is, in fact, tricky, and it’s not really surprising when the underprepared freeze, especially when a strong desire to do violence to the one wronging them (a desire conservatives encourage) clashes with inexperience in handling sexually-charged scenarios (inexperience conservatives also encourage, since we value sexual innocence).

While plenty of people seem worried about stranger rape, the caddish behavior women find themselves (successfully or unsuccessfully) fending off typically comes from acquaintances. Even sources highly skeptical about what counts as rape or assault acknowledge that most sexual assaults occur between acquaintances. Furthermore, a great many invasions of personal space that shouldn’t be prosecuted as assault (after all, the law cannot demand that men be able to read minds, or decipher every subtle cue) are nonetheless morally violating, and understandably leave young women feeling wronged when they occur.

We’re conservatives: we more than any other group ought to recognize that the law does not exist to right all wrongs. And this means we ought to be able to understand that young women can be sexually traduced even when no crime has occurred; that their sense of having been wronged isn’t necessarily in error, even when the vocabulary they use to describe the wrong (such as “assault” when it’s not assault) is grievously in error.

Conservatives generally suspect more damage is done by labeling a sexual encounter as assault when it isn’t than is done by failing to label it assault when it is. We can believe this while still acknowledging that not every mislabeling of an incident as assault is terribly inaccurate, nor are the men involved in such incidents innocent of wrong just because they’re innocent of a crime.

Which brings me back to missing stairs. A dude doesn’t have to be a criminal to be sexually predatory. Because we’ll never create a world free of sexual predation, of course we want to equip youth – and young women in particular – with skills to fend it off: hence defensive womaning. But neither should we tolerate a world where it’s everyone else’s job but the sexual predator’s to prevent sexual predation from happening. So, while we can teach young women truisms like guys are on average more socially clueless than girls, and can’t be trusted to respect every soft refusal, we rightfully won’t be believed if we push such lessons too far.

If we treat the disparity between men and women’s social skills as so great that we sound as if we’re claiming women are the ones responsible each time “clueless” men wishfully misinterpret women’s cues as sexual when they aren’t (rather than men being primarily responsible for themselves), we rightfully won’t be believed. The truth is, plenty of men are capable of understanding subtler social cues, at least when it’s convenient for them to do so, and while there are plenty of awkward young men out there, it’s also common for predators – or to use more neutral terminology, the sexually over-eager – to use “I didn’t geddit” as cover as long as they think they can get away with it.

If we treat young women’s freezing or hesitation in the face of shocking scenarios as something that only happens to babies with “no moral agency” – as if it’s impossible to be an adult who froze – we rightfully won’t be believed. If we keep on yammering on about women’s duty to carefully step over each missing stair, but we’re mysteriously silent on ever fixing a missing stair, we rightfully won’t be believed.

Even today, there are times when the plea, “Could we stop treating it as women’s duty to learn the art of carefully stepping around every missing stair and sometimes just fix the goddamn staircase instead?!” is a sensible one. This may come as a shock, but just because it’s a plea feminists make doesn’t automatically make it wrong.

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  1. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    Needless to say, I think she is not wise in her choice of friends, but wisdom does not arise out of nothing. Her father was aware of what was going on, and at no point did he point out to her that what these women were doing was pure evil.

    “Wisdom does not arise out of nothing.” That is perceptive, and goes to the heart of what I’m getting at.

    How could we go about teaching these things to the parents and youth in our churches?

    Any ideas? Could we build a group that collaborates on how to teach defensive womanliness and protective manliness?

    Give resources to parents to help their kids?

    • #61
  2. Roberto the Weary Member
    Roberto the Weary
    @Roberto

    • #62
  3. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):
    Who needs to be taught to not hang out with creeps?

    Whenever this comes up, I always want to say, kids in foster care, kids in severely broken and poor homes, . . .

    You’re right generally speaking, but when self-respect is missing for some reason, young girls are very vulnerable.

    agreed. And it’s important to remember that creeps and predators target those who are most vulnerable.

    • #63
  4. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):
    Also mentioned in the discussion is that women with brothers are less likely to get assaulted and more likely to hold senior positions in corporations. I believe Camille said something like “women who were raised with lots of males know how ridiculous they are and not to take them serious” (that’s a paraphrase, but it’s close).

    Kinda tough with my girls – no brothers from whom to learn, and no nearby male cousins either. Thankfully the older ones do have male friends at school, so there’s that.

    I’ve been thinking about your comment a lot.

    I know men like to tease their kids. What they are doing is trying to teach their kids a good sense of humor and to have tougher skin, but sometimes the teasing doesn’t stop when the kid has had enough.

    We have had to teach both our kids how to tell their dad to stop teasing them, but he doesn’t always stop. Stopping and respecting their request gives them confidence in establishing boundaries and not second guessing if they are being reasonable or not. Lots of girls in sexual dilemmas will bend to pressure because they aren’t sure they are being reasonable in their boundaries, even if they are uncomfortable.

    I don’t know what you do with your kids, but this could be a good teaching avenue for dads of girls.

    • #64
  5. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Stina (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    Needless to say, I think she is not wise in her choice of friends, but wisdom does not arise out of nothing. Her father was aware of what was going on, and at no point did he point out to her that what these women were doing was pure evil.

    “Wisdom does not arise out of nothing.” That is perceptive, and goes to the heart of what I’m getting at.

    How could we go about teaching these things to the parents and youth in our churches?

    Any ideas?

    One idea – the training ought to have a strong moral component, but not just be moralistic. So, for example, advice like “Boundaries in Dating” is very helpful at establishing boundaries with basically normal guys, but doesn’t prepare you for dealing with violence or criminals the way a resource like NoNonsenseSelfDefense does.

    Advice has to avoid both extremes of “be a good girl and nothing bad will happen to you” and “rapists are everywhere!!!”

    Moreover, since male friends can be young women’s best allies against other, predatory males (as well as the best counterexample demonstrating men aren’t all like that), the battle-of-the-sexes trope “men and women can’t really be friends” turns out to be pretty unhelpful. (That said, friendship between the sexes once youth are feeling their hormones obviously has its own risks, and girls should know about those, too.) Girls who can value young men for their own sake, and not just as sources of attention, are, I suspect, much more likely to develop genuine friendships with young men, rather than needy-maybe-sexual-but-who-can-really-tell relationships.

    As far as sex-ed programs go, abstinence-plus programs seem to have the best track record. Similarly, boundaries-plus seems to describe what keeps predators’ mitts off: being a good girl, being morally committed to sexual boundaries and sobriety, is the foundation, but without some street-smarts and to be honest low cunning, moral commitment might not go very far in an unexpectedly risky situation.

    • #65
  6. Merrijane Inactive
    Merrijane
    @Merrijane

    Stina (View Comment):
    How could we go about teaching these things to the parents and youth in our churches?

    My sister has put together an hour-long presentation for church groups about preventing child sex abuse. A lot of the information comes after her personal experience of her daughter being abused by a neighbor. One of the things she teaches is that you will not be able to completely protect your child, so you must teach them how to stand up for themselves when they feel uncomfortable. Teach them not to let people cross their boundaries even if it’s someone they know and would normally trust.

    • #66
  7. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Merrijane (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    How could we go about teaching these things to the parents and youth in our churches?

    My sister has put together an hour-long presentation for church groups about preventing child sex abuse. A lot of the information comes after her personal experience of her daughter being abused by a neighbor. One of the things she teaches is that you will not be able to completely protect your child, so you must teach them how to stand up for themselves when they feel uncomfortable. Teach them not to let people cross their boundaries even if it’s someone they know and would normally trust.

    especially if it’s someone they know and would normally trust.

    I raised my kids during all the “stranger danger” nonsense. I used to remind people constantly that my kids were statistically safer in a room full of strangers than a room full of relatives.

    • #67
  8. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I think I’m losing my mind here. Sometimes when I open this post, I see a young and only a young woman. I can’t see the old woman. Other times I open it and I immediately see the old woman and can’t see the young woman.

    Something is screwy with my perception.

    @midge  , you aren’t changing the image, are you?

    Wow.

    • #68
  9. Roberto the Weary Member
    Roberto the Weary
    @Roberto

    MarciN (View Comment):
    I think I’m losing my mind here. Sometimes when I open this post, I see a young and only a young woman. I can’t see the old woman. Other times I open it and I immediately see the old woman and can’t see the young woman.

    Something is screwy with my perception.

    @midge , you aren’t changing the image, are you?

    Wow.

    How could your perception be screwy? Wasn’t that exactly the point of this old drawing, a somewhat famous optical illusion from long ago

    http://mathworld.wolfram.com/YoungGirl-OldWomanIllusion.html

    • #69
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Roberto the Weary (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    I think I’m losing my mind here. Sometimes when I open this post, I see a young and only a young woman. I can’t see the old woman. Other times I open it and I immediately see the old woman and can’t see the young woman.

    Something is screwy with my perception.

    @midge , you aren’t changing the image, are you?

    Wow.

    How could your perception be screwy? Wasn’t that exactly the point of this old drawing, a somewhat famous optical illusion from long ago

    http://mathworld.wolfram.com/YoungGirl-OldWomanIllusion.html

    Yes, but the same person (me) looking at it should have the same perceptual experience each time she looks at it–whether that is to see only the young woman, only the old woman, or seeing one or the other depending on how I change the angle of my gaze. :)

    It weird that it is looking completely opposite to me each I open up this post. :)

    • #70
  11. The Whether Man Inactive
    The Whether Man
    @TheWhetherMan

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    The problem of college professors hitting on students is more normal and more accepted; one of the reasons it often goes unaddressed is because often, the students are not necessarily opposed to being hit on. Some are, but many are not. I actually had a professor who was known for sleeping with many of his students; one of my male friends was very concerned about this. He approached every woman he knew who he knew had slept with this professor, and he asked them how they felt about it: every single one of them said they were totally fine with it. They had nothing but good things to say about the professor. So, my male friend just kind of threw his hands up and said, “Ok, whatever”. I am not sure what else he could have done. College professors hitting on students definitely happens a lot, I would never dispute that-everybody knows that, right?

    Anecdotes about how women just really want to sleep with their professors miss the point. There is a power dynamic in professors sleeping with their students that puts far greater responsibility on the prof than the student for this terrible choice. Predatory professors who hunt for young undergrads or grads this way take advantage of their position, and they can hold an inordinate amount of power over the student’s future.  I’m not sure that many of those young women would ultimately feel like they had much choice other than to call it consensual and try to move on.  But they student and the prof are not on an equal enough level for anything sexual that happens between them to be completely problem-free.

    • #71
  12. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Stina (View Comment):
    I know men like to tease their kids. What they are doing is trying to teach their kids a good sense of humor and to have tougher skin, but sometimes the teasing doesn’t stop when the kid has had enough.

    We have had to teach both our kids how to tell their dad to stop teasing them, but he doesn’t always stop. Stopping and respecting their request gives them confidence in establishing boundaries and not second guessing if they are being reasonable or not. Lots of girls in sexual dilemmas will bend to pressure because they aren’t sure they are being reasonable in their boundaries, even if they are uncomfortable.

    While I do tease them, from day one I’ve let them give back as good as they get.  They’re all smart-alecs (like dear old dad).  They’re very rarely chastised for talking back – only if they go way too far.  I’ve always enjoyed a healthy verbal banter with them, and have been trying to teach them how to use that to escape awkward social situations.  One of my favorites being – if someone accuses you of being weird or an idiot, in an attempt to shame you (and thus make you hesitate), while puffing themselves up, own the accusation and turn it around by escalating into the surreal – puts people on the backfoot and keeps them guessing, which lets you either exit the situation while they hesitate, or slam them back hard.  And I’ve always told them that if someone gets physical with them, damn the consequences and fight back – we’ll have their backs.

    • #72
  13. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Yes, but the same person (me) looking at it should have the same perceptual experience each time she looks at it–whether that is to see only the young woman, only the old woman, or seeing one or the other depending on how I change the angle of my gaze. :)

    It weird that it is looking completely opposite to me each I open up this post. :)

    It’s not the angle of your gaze, but what your brain decides to notice first. I flip back and forth fairly rapidly between seeing one and seeing the other, and with concentration, can perceive both at once, but it does take concentration. The brain is wired to quickly make up its mind about what it’s seeing, so it’s prepared for action. Second-guessing what you’re perceiving is a skill necessary for much of civilized life, but it has to be learned, and can sometimes be a hindrance when immediate action is needed.

    For example, a young woman trained to be quite concerned about young men’s point of view is something conservatives generally approve of. However, when a young woman’s space is being invaded inappropriately by some guy, that’s not the time for her to second-guess and wonder whether his action seems more innocent from his perspective than it does from hers, because wondering only delays her immediate, effective action. And yet, as several of us who have been young women can probably attest, without practice switching our generally-approved-of concern for the guy’s perspective off, that is exactly what we’ll do: second-guess ourselves when seconds are on the line.

    If you’re not willing to be “selfishly inconsiderate” toward the person overstepping your boundaries while they are being overstepped, good luck trying to get it to stop. Given the revulsion many conservatives feel toward selfishly inconsiderate women, a generally-innocent girl raised with conservative values might not fully realize there’s a very important exception when her “selfishiness” is virtuous rather than revolting.

    • #73
  14. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    And with that, I think I’ve finally made explicit why that ambiguous image was paired with this post.

    • #74
  15. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    And with that, I think I’ve finally made explicit why that ambiguous image was paired with this post.

    I would like to take this opportunity to commend you on the excellent material you offer Ricochet members. We are fortunate to have you here.

    • #75
  16. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    It’s not the angle of your gaze, but what your brain decides to notice first. I flip back and forth fairly rapidly between seeing one and seeing the other, and with concentration, can perceive both at once, but it does take concentration. The brain is wired to quickly make up its mind about what it’s seeing, so it’s prepared for action. Second-guessing what you’re perceiving is a skill necessary for much of civilized life, but it has to be learned, and can sometimes be a hindrance when immediate action is needed.

    Actually, I wonder if something else is going on. We are hardwired to multitask–so we work on problems (the M computer in Star Trek!) while we are doing other things. So each time I’ve looked at it, I’ve thinking quite hard about where the other image is, the old woman or the young woman. Then I put the problem away with frustration. When I reopen it, my brain has “‘solved” it for me and I see what I was trying to discern the last time I looked.

    I read a great study years ago arguing for summer vacation for kids–that researchers found that problems the kids were working on at the end of the last school year they suddenly can solve after taking a break from them over vacation.

    I know that writers will say something like that–they’ll be trying to word something at night before they go to bed, and they give up in frustration, get some sleep, and like magic when they wake up, suddenly the copy just comes to them. Problem solved.

    So perhaps my brain is solving the problem I gave it–“Where is the old/young woman?”–when I left off gazing at the picture. So when I reopen the post, I suddenly see what I looking for the last time I was looking at it. :)

    • #76
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I think some of the sexual assault problem will take care of itself over time. The kids are being told there’s simply no touching at all. Grandparents are being told to blow kisses at their grandchildren and not to hold them on their laps while reading to them. It’s going to be a no-touching-anyone world. In that world, someone’s inappropriate behavior will stand out more readily than it has in the past.

    It’s a good change, as sad as it is in some ways. There’s no way to tell, as a person supervising children, who’s touching whom appropriately or not. It’s much easier when supervising children or teenagers to enact and enforce a no-touching rule.

    This has been coming on for a long time, since Adam Walsh and the Child Find movement.

    • #77
  18. Wily Penelope Member
    Wily Penelope
    @WilyPenelope

    The tyranny of “be nice” makes things difficult for girls. Maybe it depends on what part of the country you are from, but in California there is a cultural commitment to be nice, and laid back, and not cause people discomfort.

    I am 35 years old; I have encountered predators at my private Catholic college and also at my local Catholic parish. I have experienced people being very, very hesitant to give in to their instincts and allow themselves to feel “creeped out” by creeps. Two examples:

    In college, a son of one of the professors was always hanging around the college. He would take to certain (usually soft-spoken, sweet, pushover-type girls) and harass them on the phone, calling them 5-10 times per day to discuss his problems and how hard life was for him. But he was able to make them feel like they alone had the patience, charity, and goodness to be his friend. And they fell for it. They would meet him in quiet, dark places to “help him.” He would get belligerent and possessive when they tried to see him less, etc. The most amazing thing about him was how mean and ruthless he would be with the stronger girls who were friends with these soft-spoken targets of his. He tried to make me look like a fool in front of several people the first time I questioned him. He got really nasty with one of my other friends when she asked him why he wouldn’t just get a therapist to talk about his problems, instead of monopolizing these girls. He spread rumors about her and really messed up her reputation. He spent so much energy on all of it: manipulating, separating his prey from their friend group, insulting and threatening the stronger girls, etc. I reported his behavior to a lot of people. Nearly all of them said “he has problems; you have to feel sorry for him” and basically said I should be nice to him. People are very hesitant to call a freak a freak, especially if they are kind of afraid of the freak.

    A similar situation happened at church; a developmentally disabled boy was known to be a child molester. As in, he had fondled his adopted siblings and the police had gotten involved, etc. But he is technically retarded and has the understanding of an 11 or 12 year old. My bible study group, which contains 8 families with 20-25 young children resisted my recommendation to kick this kid and his family out of our bible study, even after he had propositioned one of our young boys. They thought he deserved pity, and that they could control the situation. Many thought they should just physically separate the children from him whenever he was around, but that they didn’t have the right to ostracize him. It was sheer crazytown.

    Religious communities can be breeding grounds for predators. Because “be nice” is the golden rule.

    • #78
  19. ST Inactive
    ST
    @SimonTemplar

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    We are fortunate to have you here.

    yep

    • #79
  20. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Wily Penelope (View Comment):
    They thought he deserved pity, and that they could control the situation. Many thought they should just physically separate the children from him whenever he was around, but that they didn’t have the right to ostracize him. It was sheer crazytown.

    Emphasis is mine: “and that they could control the situation.”

    Yep.

    • #80
  21. TheRightNurse Member
    TheRightNurse
    @TheRightNurse

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    The reason we do not attempt to “fix” men who assault women, or take advantage of women, is because most of us (I think) consider them to be impossible to fix.

    Although in this analogy, “fix” often means “stop giving them shelter in our social group”.

    Is this really a common place problem in modern America? Do large numbers of otherwise normal Americans really give shelter to sexual deviants whom they know personally and socialize with?

    Yes.  Yes they do.

    Let me tell you a story: an upstanding member of the community watches as a man I know fairly well hits on me and puts his hands inside my pants.  Everyone laughs and I sit there uncomfortably.

    My own conservative upstanding boyfriend even says that it wasn’t his problem.  I’m a woman, I should have said something to discourage him (because being a woman meant that I’d welcome it?).

    I don’t know.  But the point is, I know a lot of people that are slightly…jerks, to put it cleanly.  And they are tolerated.  Not only are they tolerated, they’re often celebrated.

    Don’t be so sure that your male friends or companions are so damn pure.

    • #81
  22. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    I couldn’t quote any of the previous comments, as it put me over the limit.

    I went to Catholic School for years, and all four of my kids went k-12.

    Never, not once, did “be nice” cause a problem. I have a vague memory of a neighbor kid; I saw him yesterday at a funeral. He reminded me of a tussle; apparently he was punished by his parents for getting in a fight with a girl (me). Whatever the problem, I guess we handled it, as I hardly remember it.

    When my daughter was being harassed (It’s not the right word, but I can’t come up with a better one) by a school mate when when she was only 8, someone told her brother. Her brother “handled it”. Which is to say he punched his lights out.

    Me and my brothers and sisters went to Catholic school, church every Sunday. My kids the same.

    Some how we all missed the “be nice” lesson; did we sleep though that Gospel? I don’t think so.

    No one told me “be nice”. And I have never, ever told my kids to “be nice”.

    “Mind Your Manners ” is the last thing they hear when they are leaving the house, when it’s for a dance, a date, or a deployment.

     

    • #82
  23. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Patrick Swayze had some useful observations on this subject, but warning: it is not CoC compliant.

     

    • #83
  24. Nick H Coolidge
    Nick H
    @NickH

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    The reason we do not attempt to “fix” men who assault women, or take advantage of women, is because most of us (I think) consider them to be impossible to fix.

    Although in this analogy, “fix” often means “stop giving them shelter in our social group”.

    Is this really a common place problem in modern America? Do large numbers of otherwise normal Americans really give shelter to sexual deviants whom they know personally and socialize with?

    Yes, it still happens. Even in female dominated environments. I won’t get into specifics, because it’s not my story to tell, but I know of one example where most of the employees were female, the leadership was female, and one of the only men working there was a was the exact guy that shows up in the mandatory HR harassment and discrimination videos. The one that says things so outrageous and offensive that you can’t imagine that anyone would ever act that way. Things like “I love what the pregnancy has done for your chest!” and “I’m just going to walk behind you all the time because the view is so nice.” And he was totally a missing stair. The inappropriate comments, the affairs that weren’t hush-hush at all, the looks, all of it completely ignored. I don’t know why, from what I know he wasn’t even good at his job. My suspicion is that acknowledging the missing stair (much less trying to fix it) would have been embarrassing and difficult and no one wanted to open that can of worms. As far as I know it was just harassment, not anything like assault, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out otherwise. The women he worked with definitely knew to not be alone with him at any time. So yes, even in modern America it’s still a problem.

    • #84
  25. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    @nickh  I am really blown away by so many of these comments.

    When I worked in banking back in the 80s, long before “harassment” even had a name, there was one jerk in our office (we were about 50/50 female to male, I was on the bottom of the totem pole).

    He too would say ridiculous things, like (to me): I sure hope you’re not sleeping with JY; you know he’ll never marry you if you are. And on and on.

    I called him out, other women called him out, it wasn’t unusual for him to say something inappropriate and hear a chorus of “Kent! Shut up!”

    To my memory, none of us complained about him but the other guys were certainly aware as we were yelling at him all the time. (No one ever felt threatened, BTW. I don’t remember ever being concerned about being alone with him. Also note, he was very senior to me in position and age)

    But I also had brothers and a dad who would tease us unmercifully and I was accustomed to sticking up for myself.

    I have shared many of these comments with my daughter (27) to see if I’m just out of touch; her experiences have been more in line with mine. That having been said, most of her jobs has been as a waitress or a bartender and getting hit on was part of the job description.

    So I have no idea what’s going on and why (some? most?) women can’t handle situations like the ones described. Wasn’t a problem for me or my sisters or my friends back in the 70s and 80s.

    All I can think is that a lot of parents have dropped the ball. Reminds me of a talk by Jordan Peterson about Sleeping Beauty (I think – I don’t know my princesses). Any how, the one who pricks her finger and goes to sleep. Her parents had protected her from everything and the first time she feels pain all she wants to do is sleep.

    JP and Camille Paglia also spoke about many parents are older now with much fewer children and treat their children like precious cargo.

     

    • #85
  26. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Annefy (View Comment):
    So I have no idea what’s going on and why (some? most?) women can’t handle situations like the ones described. Wasn’t a problem for me or my sisters or my friends back in the 70s and 80s.

    All I can think is that a lot of parents have dropped the ball.

    Well, from the OP –

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Evidently, young women should be schooled in defensive womaning, just as we school youths in defensive driving. It seems that girls used to get defensive womaning lessons, but we’ve dropped the ball with the past few generations:

    so perhaps we agree.

    If you’re looking for congratulations on not being one of the parents who dropped the ball, you have them.

    • #86
  27. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    MarciN (View Comment):
    I think some of the sexual assault problem will take care of itself over time. The kids are being told there’s simply no touching at all. Grandparents are being told to blow kisses at their grandchildren and not to hold them on their laps while reading to them. It’s going to be a no-touching-anyone world. In that world, someone’s inappropriate behavior will stand out more readily than it has in the past.

    It’s a good change, as sad as it is in some ways. There’s no way to tell, as a person supervising children, who’s touching whom appropriately or not. It’s much easier when supervising children or teenagers to enact and enforce a no-touching rule.

    This has been coming on for a long time, since Adam Walsh and the Child Find movement.

    This is not good.

    Wasn’t there a study on babies in orphanages that had basic needs met but were rarely touched?

    http://www.nytimes.com/1988/02/02/science/the-experience-of-touch-research-points-to-a-critical-role.html?pagewanted=all

    Touch is important. It is not good that we are moving towards a no-touch society. It’s one of the 5 senses. To be removed from feeling a loving touch by family who loves you is a devastating blow to humanity.

    • #87
  28. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Stina (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    I think some of the sexual assault problem will take care of itself over time. The kids are being told there’s simply no touching at all. Grandparents are being told to blow kisses at their grandchildren and not to hold them on their laps while reading to them. It’s going to be a no-touching-anyone world. In that world, someone’s inappropriate behavior will stand out more readily than it has in the past.

    It’s a good change, as sad as it is in some ways. There’s no way to tell, as a person supervising children, who’s touching whom appropriately or not. It’s much easier when supervising children or teenagers to enact and enforce a no-touching rule.

    This has been coming on for a long time, since Adam Walsh and the Child Find movement.

    This is not good.

    Wasn’t there a study on babies in orphanages that had basic needs met but were rarely touched?

    http://www.nytimes.com/1988/02/02/science/the-experience-of-touch-research-points-to-a-critical-role.html?pagewanted=all

    Touch is important. It is not good that we are moving towards a no-touch society. It’s one of the 5 senses. To be removed from feeling a loving touch by family who loves you is a devastating blow to humanity.

    I intended to comment on this but forgot. Just for the record, I agree 100% with @Stina. Good luck telling me or my husband not to kiss our granddaughters.

    • #88
  29. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):
    So I have no idea what’s going on and why (some? most?) women can’t handle situations like the ones described. Wasn’t a problem for me or my sisters or my friends back in the 70s and 80s.

    All I can think is that a lot of parents have dropped the ball.

    Well, from the OP –

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Evidently, young women should be schooled in defensive womaning, just as we school youths in defensive driving. It seems that girls used to get defensive womaning lessons, but we’ve dropped the ball with the past few generations:

    so perhaps we agree.

    If you’re looking for congratulations on not being one of the parents who dropped the ball, you have them.

    No congrats needed – trust me, I screwed up in lots of other ways. But glad I stumbled into the right way on this particular issue.

    Honestly, though, I’m not sure the skills we are talking about can be taught by anyone but parents or other family members. If a daughter is being raised like a “princess” at home, I can’t imagine it being undone.

    As an aside, when I started my family I made the typical list of all the things I wasn’t going to do that my parents had. Around baby #3 I looked around at my brothers and sisters and all their kids and thought: I’d be better focusing on what my parents did right (which was a much longer list).

    It amazes me still that my uneducated, raised in poverty mother and father had a much better handle on human nature and the differences between the sexes – and how to handle those differences – than most PhDs and so-called experts.

    • #89
  30. TheRightNurse Member
    TheRightNurse
    @TheRightNurse

    Stina (View Comment):
    This is not good.

    Wasn’t there a study on babies in orphanages that had basic needs met but were rarely touched?

    The problem is that we are sexualizing all touching.  Touching is not inherently sexual.  This is how we get into trouble.  People aren’t holding hands because it’s a sign of something sexual.  People don’t want to hug because it might come across as sexual.

    It’s making our society more perverse, not less.

    • #90
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