Anyone in guffaw withdraw from the lack of hilarious rape jokes from Daniel Tosh can relax: the bros at Friendly Rabid Atheists have got your back.
It’s been absolutely fascinating watching the evolution of the “Should we put up with sexual harassment with a coy smile and a curtsey?” debate that began when Rebecca Watson had the fucking nerve to say she didn’t appreciate being propositioned by a stranger in a locked metal box at 4 AM like she had the right to have feelings about her experiences.
As Amanda Marcotte argues so well:
Anti-feminists are “joking” about raping feminists to silence us. It’s unusual that they’re actually using the word; most men who talk about raping women into submission frame it more softly, by employing words we should only use to describe consensual sex, such as “getting laid”.
I know this shit is depressing, but take heart. You know you’ve got them on the ropes when they stop speaking in code and just come out with it. It’s the verbal version of flipping on the lights and watching all the roaches scatter.
That’s exactly it.
Over the last ten years of my career as a full-time SIWOTI technician, I’ve gotten quite good at recognizing dog-whistles in certain debates. For instance, when I was 15 and stil thought there was a snowball’s chance in hell forced birth advocates liked babies, I’d argue with them. Like, sincerely. I invested myself in the outcome, and would try to actually persuade random people on the internet that my medical decisions should probably be left up to me.
Perpetually disappointed in their refusal to recognize my humanity, crushed under the ennui of their predictable and inevitably narrow range of responses, and frightened by their occasional rage, I logged off and disappeared into Nepal for several years. During this time, I was too traumatized to even drop a post-card in the mail. What if NRLF put me on their mailing list?
I found some Jedis and trained with them deep in the mountains. They taught me everything they knew about flamewars and I emerged with a preternatural ability to hear the dog whistles uterus-usurpers would send out, entire posts before they’d just come right out and say something overtly misogynist. The inevitability of this result, given the right pokes with the right sticks, revealed what they believed all along: They really don’t like women.
It’s one of my favorite games now; just the other night, I had a guy come out and say after a 30 post mansplanation of “ethical realism,” that “In an ideal world, I would not permit a woman who doesn’t want a transvaginal ultrasound to get an abortion, because she’s too ignorant to know what she’s doing.” There’s no such thing as too ignorant to be a parent for these dim bulbs though.
That’s what we’re seeing here.
We sat through the boring mansplanations about humor, the pretense of shock that anyone but the most hirsute joke nazi feminist could find innocent compliments as threatening, the facade of gender neutrality in frequency and hostility of “date” requests. None of it worked. We didn’t buy it. So as the old saying goes, when you’re out of bullets, why not fling shit?
What I find most illuminating here is that previously, we were fighting off this silly frame of “Oh how else are you supposed to know it’s unwanted before you even DO it?” which theory of consent if applied children would accept the “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you!” defense, and if applied to rape would require actual penetration before the “no.” We were previously bound by convention to pretend who is propositioning whom had nothing to do with the sex of the people involved. The women are demanding special privileges to never endure an unwanted come-on! It’s like, denial of my free speech! I don’t get to make them say yes, so how can they say I can’t ask?! Now they’ve tipped their hand in a big way.
It’s obvious that they’re the ones who’d know best whose getting harassed. Non-harassers don’t ponder questions like “Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick?” The creepy philosoraptors at Friendly Rabid Atheists do. So it stands to abductive reason that they’re the ones who are probably doing the harassing.
The undertone of “Do it or maybe I’ll rape you” is a dog whistle which many people, but probably primarily women, have been forced by circumstance to get quite good at hearing. Remember: just because you can’t hear it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
(Obligatory caveat: of course, this does not mean that all pings of the creeper radar are right. With any detector, there is a trade-off between sensitivity and specificity, or in other words, between how many false positives versus false negatives you’re willing to tolerate. With something ilke rape, where a false positive is at worst embarrassing, but a false negative can be devastating, the creepometer is going to sacrifice specificity for sensitivitiy.
It’s also an artifact of low signal-to-noise ratio of encounters with creeps in the wild. Your eyes do the same thing at night, where every shadow becomes a lurking evil monster in part because there’s so little signal – light – and in part because a little jumpiness is acceptable if it prevents an evil monster from eating you).
But would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick? Wouldn’t it be funny if it was like five guys? You almost want to pinch their cheeks; they’ve abandoned the earlier attempt to exploit the stereotype of female insanity by arguing that “skepchicks” – which in some circles has apparently morphed into a general word for any female skeptic – are horribly irrational for giving the amorous dudebros the side-eye, and volunteered to be an object lesson in why we really need to have good policies for dealing with the rape-obsessed weirdos that show up to conferences.