Creepers…Yes Guys, You Probably Are: Mormon Edition

by: Male Gaze

April 3, 2013

Today’s post is brought to you by Male Gaze and Carrie…and also by the colors blue and purple. Please join us as we dialog on the awesome world of being Mormon, single, and over 30! Carrie’s blog, twocatsandawindchime.blogspot.com, features the musings of a social leper along with totally irreverent commentary from a  youth Sunday School teacher.

Alright, look, I admit it, I’m a creeper sometimes. When the Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on, I’m glued to the TV. When I drive by a sexy billboard, I almost get in a wreck. But I think that’s pretty normal…you know, hormones and all that. That’s not what makes me a creeper.

I first recognized I was a creeper in the fall of 2007. My second daughter was born, and I was just finishing up my MS degree. I remember it distinctly…you know that new-ish waterfall sort of kitty-corner to the MOA parking lot on Campus Dr at BYU? I was walking right by that waterfall and saw some hot girl (clearly a freshman) and I checked her out. Then it hit me…holy sh*t (errr crap) that girl’s like 18, and I’m 26 with two daughters! I’m a creeper! And it only went downhill from there.

Now here I am…32 years old, living in a big college town surrounded by young coeds walking around in nothing more than spandex (is the term “leggings”?) and see-through tops. Do I take the long way home from work just so I can go through central campus? Yep. At Halloween do I weave my way through the streets with all the sorority houses? Yep. When I’m on my motorcycle do I nearly crash because I’m too busy breaking my neck just to catch a glimpse of some skin I saw on a cute blonde? Yep. Am I creeper? Probably.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a pornstache, long shoulder-length hair, or anything like that. And I’m not really the other kind of creeper who drives around in a cherry red Porsche Boxster in a suit either. I’m just a semi-creepy guy living in a college town where there’s an abundance of young college coeds and a dearth of women my age interested in me!

Let me be the judge

You are not a creeper.  You may wish you were a creeper (and awesome enough to rock a pornstache) but the evidence just isn’t there.  First, what living creature, male or female, doesn’t stop and stare when a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on?  Those girls are hot.  Perfect hair, perky boobs, legs that never end…you don’t have to be addicted to porn to wish you were, or were dating a VS model.  They are art.  You are allowed to appreciate art.  And unless you’re touching yourself while driving and looking at the billboards, you still wouldn’t be entering creeper territory.

Last time I checked the Mall of America is in Minneapolis, not even close to BYU’s campus, so I have no idea where you were when you checked out a PERFECTLY LEGAL AGED girl on campus, but that was far from creeper activity.

And weaving your way through campus to check out the scantily clad coeds?  That’s just cost effective driving, you’re saving gas money by not driving the perimeter of the city to avoid seeing a bit of flesh.

So far the only thing you’ve managed to establish is that you’re a normal heterosexual male.

Congratulations on being average.

However, if you want pointers on how to become a creeper let me offer up a few suggestions…

  1. Text girls pictures of your 1/2 naked self flexing in the bathroom mirror

  2. Use any aspect of the gospel as a pick up line.

  3. Make it obvious that you’re mentally undressing a girl every time you look at her.  First, make solid eye contact.  Then move your gaze slowly down her body, pausing at her breasts, then down to her navel, lower still pausing at her love triangle, take a deep breath, then trace her legs with the path of your eyes.  Once you reach her feet, reverse the process, end with more solid eye contact followed by a raise of an eyebrow and a breathy “wowza”.

  4. Be unnaturally awkward.  Avoid all eye contact.  Stammer your words.  Ask her what her favorite scripture is and then tell her you can feel her testimony and you want to take her out for ice cream.  After that make all conversations focus around her desire to become a mother.

  5. Find out everything you can about a girl before you ever interact with her.  Then wow her with the facts you’ve gleaned off of Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Instagram.

  6. Pick up on girls young enough that you could have helped create them. For those who need help with math that’s your current age – 13 = too young to date.

  7. Hover.  Avoid starting an actual conversation, just stand uncomfortably close and stare.  Stare a lot.  You can never stare enough.

  8. Use the phrase “you’re so pretty” mercilessly.  Never comment about anything but her beauty.

  9. Don’t take no for an answer.  If you ask her out and she says no, ask her out at least 50 more times.

  10. Leave notes on girls’ cars that say something like this, “Hi, my name is xxx.  I live in the same apartment building as you do and I’ve been watching you for several months now.  Would you like to come over for a drink and maybe some dinner?”

Need I go on?  See the difference between your healthy sexuality and real creeper activity is the fact that healthy sexuality does not step into the bounds of stalking, lack of personal boundaries, or cross over into a**hole territory.  I suggest you either keep trying to cultivate your creeper skills or just relax and embrace the fact that women find you attractive.

Hmmm, let’s see, I have been known to hover uncomfortably close, and well let’s face it, even my monicker for this post reveals I stare a lot and only care about beauty from the male perspective. But I can see that I have a lot of room for improvement, particularly if I’m gonna be a Mormon creeper. So if you’ll indulge my confessions and questions a bit more, suppose you really wanted to impress a 30-something year old woman, but you’re really self-conscious about a few…errr…shortcomings (mostly emotional obviously). How might you go about compensating appropriately for your inadequacies?

Whew…creeper tendencies AND shortcomings?  We could be here awhile.  You could do what the general male population does when it comes to their “shortcomings”…stuff a sock in it and call it good.  Alas, another post for another day…

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106 Responses to Creepers…Yes Guys, You Probably Are: Mormon Edition

  1. Howard on April 3, 2013 at 5:25 AM

    What makes a creeper? Sexual repression plus inexperience. It also makes Catholic priests abuse little boys so obviously is isn’t healthy. Was Joseph sexually repressed? You are living out the result of a pious overreaction by church government for polygamy that has been conflated into something never intended by God. Orgasms are good for men, go home and play with your little factory guilt free with a VS catalog and get a date, maybe she can help you!

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  2. Howard on April 3, 2013 at 7:17 AM

    Actually, get a date with a non-member girl!

    Adult, adult fornication that does not result in an unwanted pregnancy or STD is a victimless “sin”. Where exactly is the sin in a victimless “sin”?

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  3. alice on April 3, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    Here are the keys for me:

    • Are these women aware that you’re leering at them?
    • Do you have any interest in them as complex real life people with a right to their own dignity or are you content to reduce them to a cheap thrill?
    • Is your behavior making them uncomfortable? Or would it if they were aware of you?
    * How would your wife feel about all this? Would she be justified?

    I think normal men have reactions to the female form and I don’t think an involuntary reaction is any particular problem but seeking it out would make me nervous. If I were one of those women I suspect the intensity of what you’re describing would creep me out but I realize I may be overestimating the intensity of what’s going on. You’ll know best what’s actually happening. OTOH, props for not attempting to make these women responsible for your behavior

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  4. Katie L on April 3, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    Disagree. Dude is a creeper.

    You don’t seem to have any respect for the humanity of these women and young girls, are interested in them primarily for their T&A, and seek out opportunities to catch a glimpse.

    It’s time to reel it in.

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  5. Cheryl on April 3, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    HAH! “ask and ye shall receive … ” Thanks, you two for appeasing this old lady. i thought you two would have fun w/each other. love it! xox

    Carrie – i remember your blogpost w/pic about your #1. :)

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  6. Cheryl on April 3, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    dangit – i didn’t edit first. (had a wrong comma)

    but one more thang – That’s a great pic of y’all together! :P

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  7. Donna on April 3, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    This was great! If one is taught to demonize sexuality then one will feel like a creeper and the subject will feel creeped upon. It’s only when a person crosses a line does he/she become a creeper.

    Once I let go of unhealthy sexual repression that I was taught in a sexually repressive church was I able to reframe healthy sexuality. If some man looks at me and thinks, “Wow, she beautiful/sexy/hot!” I don’t care. He can have his little fantasy all he wants. If he intends to physically, verbally rape me, then he has crossed a line.

    The human body is beautiful and, according to some, made in the image of God himself. So, when you look at someone, male or female, you are looking at a divine body. Enjoy it and move along.

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  8. Frank Pellett on April 3, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    I suppose the easy way to fix this is to keep to mind the question, “Would I want anyone looking at my daughters the way I’m looking at women?”

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  9. Male Gaze on April 3, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Thanks for the comments all!

    Re Frank Pellett #8

    I suppose the easy way to fix this is to keep to mind the question, “Would I want anyone looking at my daughters the way I’m looking at women?”

    I guess. But when I’m shagging my wife I’m not likely to think “would I want anyone shagging my daughters the way I’m shagging my wife?” I imagine a lot of us fathers aren’t interested in the thoughts of some motorcycle-riding punk banging our daughter…but so it is.

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  10. Frank Pellett on April 3, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    While I don’t dwell on the details, I certainly hope my daughter can find someone who will love and respect her in all aspect of her marriage, even the sexual ones, just as I do her mother. A loving husband isn’t just anyone.

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  11. Jen on April 3, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Once upon a time this would have creeped me out. But now that I know y boundaries, I feel comfortable saying, “Dude can look, but no touching.” And… If dude looks in a way I don’t like, I probably won’t be spending much time with him. But if he’s only interested in looking, what will he care?

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  12. Jeremiah on April 3, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    IMHO, most teenaged girls and girls in their twenties think any guy five years older than them is a creeper…(correct me if I misunderstand)

    I agree that a sexually repressive culture can create awkwardness for men around women. That being said, any guy who has a habit of looking straight for the chest, or who looks and then lingers, or who plans his days to get more eye candy has a problem with lust. Hormones are not an excuse–own up to your lust and deal with it.

    I hope I’m not taken the wrong way…

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  13. hawkgrrrl on April 3, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    I totally agree with Carrie’s age guideline. If you coulda fathered it, don’t leer at it. As a good friend pointed out after seeing a Twilight movie with his wife, if there was a theatre full of 40-something men leering and hooting at a 17-year old girl the way these women were in that movie, they’d be labelled dirty old men. Nice to see society become more sex positive toward menopausal women maybe.

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  14. Male Gaze on April 3, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Re Donna #7

    If one is taught to demonize sexuality then one will feel like a creeper and the subject will feel creeped upon. It’s only when a person crosses a line does he/she become a creeper.

    Well said! It’s pretty easy to become a rape/sexual harassment focused society and shame any healthy sexual feelings in the process.

    One of the most often heard complaints about the church in the b’nacle is that it is sexually oppressive. But why? The church sends very positive messages about sex. It’s good, healthy, normal, and appropriate within marriage. The reason it’s sexually unhealthy (when it is) is because of the culture of shame surrounding it. Masturbation – shame, porn – shame, dressing immodestly – shame, sing a hymn, etc.

    If we call a (relatively young) man “lustful,” say he has no respect for women, etc. when he drives around his own college town checking out the girls how are we not doing the exact same thing? If we attempt to curb misogyny, sexism, and gender inequality by shaming men we’re going to only further entrench ourselves.

    I think what surprises me most is that the male commenters here are just as quick to condemn benign ogling as quickly as the female commenters. We’ve become shamed into believing we’re carnal, lustful, scumbags if we don’t have perfect control over our most basic urges and instincts.

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  15. Olive on April 3, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I don’t know…going out of your way to check out young, hot girls is kind of creepy to me. Even despite your age…if you check out someone hot while you’re going about daily business, okay, whatever, but you totally change your route, making it longer, and more convoluted simply to check out even more hot girls? That’s weird. That’s weird even for a guy who’s age appropriate IMO.

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  16. Katie L on April 3, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Male Gaze, stop blaming religion for your contribution to rape culture.

    Rape culture is what happens when women are viewed as sexual objects, full stop. Religious sexual shame can contribute to the objectification of women, but I know plenty of guys who leer at and objectify women and are proud of it, no religious baggage attached. That’s rape culture, too.

    The way to counter rape culture is by acknowledging and honoring women’s personhood — and you do that when you start seeing them as more than pieces of ass that you go out of your way to ogle.

    Rape culture says: “Ogling and objectification are part and parcel of ‘normal male sexuality.'”

    Healthy, agency-based sexual culture says: “Sexual feelings are normal and healthy and being sexual is wonderful and important. There are appropriate and healthy ways to express and explore your sexuality even when you are not in a committed, reciprocal, loving relationship that includes sex. In all cases, this means regarding and respecting women as human beings and free agents, and not as objects to gratify your lust and curiosity.”

    These girls walking to and from classes have not asked for your sexual attention, they don’t want your sexual attention, they aren’t interested in you sexually…and for you to go out of your way to regard them sexually anyway is a violation of them.

    You’re way out of line here and your justification is more disturbing to me than the post itself.

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  17. Male Gaze on April 3, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Re Katie L
    I think it’s great you’re so passionate about calling attention to the rape culture and how objectification of women contributes to it. I agree that it contributes to sexual harassment and assault.

    I’m sorry you found it all so disturbing. Shame is a powerful and very unhealthy motivator and I think I’ll look for other ways to address the problem you speak of rather than making men feel like scumbags.

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  18. Jeff Spector on April 3, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Always seems interesting that the ones who profess liberalism in most areas seem to protest the freedom of looking.

    And while they would totally defend same sex attraction, they would deny the same to opposite sex attraction, which tends to start with the visual. Especially if it happens to be the men.

    And while some of this attraction is socially conditioned, some of it is in-born.

    Now, that does not mean men should go out of their way to be crass or rude. But, they can’t help it if they look, they were born that way.

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  19. Katie L on April 3, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Male Gaze, I didn’t shame you — I didn’t call you evil or bad or a scumbag or imply that you’re committing the sin next to murder. I didn’t bring an ounce of religious dogma into the conversation. I didn’t make a judgment about you personally.

    What I said, in no uncertain terms, was that your behavior is inappropriate and that you are out of line by engaging in it. Which it is, and you are.

    Your responses deflect the heart of the matter: you are objectifying these women by seeking out opportunities to ogle them. Own it, face it, and do better next time.

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  20. Katie L on April 3, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Jeff Spector, no one is saying that noticing is wrong. But there is a distinction between attraction, noticing, and going out of your way to look.

    Attraction is natural, normal, and healthy. Noticing is natural, normal, and healthy.

    Going out of your way to look — to change your route home just so that you can leer at young women who are not interested in you sexually and don’t want your sexual attention, and in whom you have no interest as human beings — is objectification and entitlement. And that’s wrong.

    And yeah, it’s wrong if a gay person does it or a straight person, and it’s wrong whether they’re male or female.

    Can you see the distinction?

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  21. Male Gaze on April 3, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Re Katie L

    Male Gaze, I didn’t shame you

    Ah, I guess if you say it it makes it true…right? Doesn’t matter how it made me feel.

    Doesn’t matter. I’m glad you’re passionate about the topic. I think objectification of women is bad too.

    I do hope we’ll get to a point in our society where we’ll stop hurting women AND men, and we won’t save one at the expense of the other.

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  22. LDS Anarchist on April 3, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    The #3 point is totally wrong.

    Make it obvious that you’re mentally undressing a girl every time you look at her. First, make solid eye contact.

    The human pair bonding sequence does not have eye contact first. The sequence is as follows:

    1. Eye to body. The first stage in which one person is attracted to the other.

    2. Eye to eye. In order for the relationship to progress, the look of attraction must be returned.

    3. Voice to voice. The delight taken in hearing one another’s voice indicates a deepening attraction. A new avenue of communication is opened.

    4. Hand to hand. Touch is added to the senses through which the relationship deepens. A message is now sent to the outside world that a relationship is developing.

    5. Arm to shoulder. A gesture of protection and ownership signals a deepening wholistic bond. A strong message to the outside world registers: We belong to one another. This relationship is going somewhere.

    6. Arm to waist. A physical drawing close characterizes growing physical, intellectual,
    emotional and spiritual closeness. This is a stage for looking ahead, for evaluating the
    relationship for its potential for lifelong commitment.

    7. Face to face. The physical turning toward one another signals a deepening level of self-disclosure and communication which opens new avenues for intimacy on all fronts.

    8. Hand to head. This gesture, reserved by human beings primarily for family, speaks of the deepening levels of trust developing between the couple.

    9. Hand to body. This is not a gesture of sexual intimacy, but rather an indicator of acceptance of one another, flaws and all.

    10-12. Mouth to breast. Hand to genital. Genital to genital. Love-making at this stage represents the deepest possible levels of the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual intimacy, intimacies which are too risky apart from the context of the covenantal relationship of marriage. Through their sexual love, Christian couples celebrate God’s goodness in creating us
    male and female and anticipate the promise of the full restoration of the joys of Eden in the life of each married couple who are in Christ.

    Quoted from http://childmin.com/Resources/Articles/Bonding.txt

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  23. LDS Anarchist on April 3, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    Katie L. #16,

    You used the term “sexual attention” several times in your post. What in your mind consists of sexual attention?

    Is it just attention that has the idea of sex attached to it? In other words, a man or a woman looks upon another with the desire to have sex with that person.

    Or, is it merely attention to a specific body part regardless of sexual thoughts? For example, a man’s gaze is drawn to looking at jiggling and swaying T&A, but is mesmerized by the shape and movement (the beauty of it all) and is not engaging in lustful thoughts.

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  24. Katie L on April 3, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    Male Gaze, I have engaged in direct, honest communication. I have not made personal attacks against you. I have not called you names. I have pointed out that your behavior is inappropriate, and I have explained why I believe this is so. At this point, you’re right: your feelings are your responsibility, not mine.

    By claiming “shame,” you’ve refused to engage the substance of the issue. That’s your prerogative — you are not under any obligation to engage in any conversation with anyone at any time — but to be clear: this is not about “saving women at the expense of men.” It is about improving the quality of life for women AND men by advancing a worldview that says that life is better for everyone when women are treated as human beings, not pieces of meat; and by stating unequivocally that other worldviews are inferior and harmful for many of the reasons I’ve already shared here.

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  25. LDS Anarchist on April 3, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Mexicans whoop, whistle and holler when a beautiful woman walks by. I’ve been to Europe and the men of the Romance Language countries do the same. I’ve also been to Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican men also do the same. The compliments of the men to the women are always centered around their beauty. And the women love the attentions. Are all these populations of men creepers and their women of low self esteem?

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  26. Will on April 3, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    “Rape culture says: “Ogling and objectification are part and parcel of ‘normal male sexuality.’”

    Whatever.

    It’s usually the ones that don’t get the ogling that complain. A fit, attractive female body is a gift for God. It is art.

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  27. FireTag on April 3, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    While I am generally in agreement about age inappropriate, I’m mystified by the 13 year definition.

    That must be truly a MORMON EDITION viewpoint, because there is “a whole nother” moral issue with age appropriate having anything to do with time of puberty onset. Specifically, the moral qualification of parenthood is the ability to raise children, not to merely conceive them. So, the age difference between the parents would be a lot less important than the age difference between the parents and any potential children, wouldn’t it? In fact, the former might be less important than the life expectancy of the parents compared to the time the potential children will need their parents, IMO.

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  28. Carrie on April 3, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    @FireTag…it was arbitrary, no need to read too much into it. I just thought I’d throw a number out there to see who would say what…looks like you bit that hook.

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  29. Carrie on April 3, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    @KatieL, before I say what I really think can you please provide your source for the quotes you used? Specifically these:

    “Rape culture says: “Ogling and objectification are part and parcel of ‘normal male sexuality.’”

    Healthy, agency-based sexual culture says: “Sexual feelings are normal and healthy and being sexual is wonderful and important. There are appropriate and healthy ways to express and explore your sexuality even when you are not in a committed, reciprocal, loving relationship that includes sex. In all cases, this means regarding and respecting women as human beings and free agents, and not as objects to gratify your lust and curiosity.”

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  30. Howard on April 3, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    I think it comes down to who’s in charge of your natural man, you or him? If it’s you have fun socially acceptably enjoying the female form and all that goes with it! If it’s him you may need some consciousness raising to avoid being a subconscious chauvinist pig and contributing to the rape culture.

    Also connected intimate love making is without a doubt the best, it’s like fine dining at a gourmet restaurant but sometimes I just in the mood to pickup a quick taco!

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  31. Katie L. on April 3, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    You used the term “sexual attention” several times in your post. What in your mind consists of sexual attention?

    LDS Anarchist, that’s a great question. Generally speaking, the term refers to unwanted sexual attention, and it’s usually defined as comments, looks, or behavior that regard another as a potential sexual partner, especially in situations that are contextually incongruent or inappropriate (such as walking down the street or professional settings). The lavishing of unwanted sexual attention is a boundary and power imbalance issue and is indicative of much deeper social problems.

    Will, seriously? I’m not going to dignify your comment with a defense of my physical appearance, but there’s a reason even gorgeous supermodels have eating disorders, and part of it has to do with what you just said there.

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  32. Katie L. on April 3, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    Carrie, believe it or not, those quotes are mine — some of us spend a lot of time studying and thinking through these issues carefully and have arrived at the point where we can articulate perspectives and principles using our own words.

    If you’re really serious about wanting to better understand the framework from which I crafted my statements, there are a few resources I can point you to…

    On rape culture and objectification: http://www.sanchezlab.com/pdfs/FredricksonRoberts.pdf
    http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Rape_culture

    On healthy sexuality, agency, and consent:
    http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Rape_culture
    http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/03/teaching-kids-consent-ages-1-21/

    Helpful?

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  33. Katie L. on April 3, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    Oh, shoot. Somehow the rape culture link got posted twice. Here’s the first healthy sexuality link I wanted to share — this whole website has lots of great insights, and the list of “Understanding” articles on the right side of the page are all particularly salient to the current discussion:

    http://www.healthysex.com/page/what-is-healthy-sex/

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  34. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    Katie L,

    “Going out of your way to look”

    I am not exactly sure what you mean here by going out of your way? Turning your head? taking a short detour to get a closer look? Walking into a strip joint?

    Setting up some sort of strawman argument in order to make a distinction only works when it is a clear one.

    Did the so-called rape culture start with Adam and Eve when God told them to multiply and replenish the earth? Did they do it just out of duty?

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  35. Will on April 4, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    Katie:

    My comment was a general observation and directed at you specifically; however, I do find your response interesting. Take the NAGS (national organization of Gals)/NOW photo op and it resembles a Pete Rose calendar – button up flannel included. Methinks their whining stems from jealously.

    And, I object to referring to Male Gaze as some kind of pervert. “He is not a pervert, because I am president of the club and he is never at any of the meetings” (Hawkeye to Frank Burns).

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  36. Will on April 4, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    Correction

    NOT directed at you specifically.

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  37. Katie L on April 4, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Will, I don’t know what to tell you. I know lots of attractive women who don’t like being objectified. It turns out that once you gain a solid sense of your own humanity and agency as a woman (a task that is more difficult than you might imagine), it kind of pisses you off when others don’t treat you as fully human. And FWIW, I never called Male Gaze a pervert or attached any label to him of any kind. I said his behavior is inappropriate and disrespectful.

    I am not exactly sure what you mean here by going out of your way? Turning your head? taking a short detour to get a closer look? Walking into a strip joint?

    In the OP, Male Gaze said that he takes the long way home in order to ride through central campus to catch a glimpse of skirt, and hangs out at sorority row during Halloween to get an eyeful. I was referring to that specifically when I used the language “going out of the way.”

    Did the so-called rape culture start with Adam and Eve when God told them to multiply and replenish the earth? Did they do it just out of duty?

    Rape culture is not the same healthy, enjoyable, agency-based sex. Did you read the links I posted to Carrie? Give them a look; I think they’ll help. This isn’t a personal criticism, but the fact that you conflate the two speaks volumes about how entrenched rape culture really is in American and even Mormon society.

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  38. alice on April 4, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    #34 “I am not exactly sure what you mean here by going out of your way?”

    The original post says that Male Gaze made a point of taking an out of his way route in order to create the opportunity to leer at women.

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  39. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    “The original post says that Male Gaze made a point of taking an out of his way route in order to create the opportunity to leer at women.”

    Ok, I must have missed that. but, so what?

    “Rape culture is not the same healthy, enjoyable, agency-based sex. Did you read the links I posted to Carrie? Give them a look;”

    I’ll have a look today.

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  40. hawkgrrrl on April 4, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    True confession time. When I was a senior in high school, there was a German foreign exchange student at our school. He used to mow the lawn for his host family wearing little white tennis shorts and no shirt. I went 5 streets out of my way both directions to and from my job at the nearby college every day on the off chance he was out mowing the lawn.

    Was that rape culture? Was I being a creeper? Is that situation the same? Why or why not? Where is the boundary?

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  41. Male Gaze on April 4, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    I’d be interested to know how many people have NEVER gone out of their way to scope out someone or group of people they were drawn to sexually. My guess would be only the few asexual people living among us. Of course thanks to a culture of shame there would only be a handful who would actually admit it…not unlike porn I might add. And if you’re a woman, even fewer would admit to it…not unlike porn I might add. The rest just go home and castigate themselves for being human.

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  42. LDS Anarchist on April 4, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    “The original post says that Male Gaze made a point of taking an out of his way route in order to create the opportunity to leer at women.”

    Ok, I must have missed that. but, so what?

    Where I live there are signs that say, “Scenic Route,” with an arrow pointing to a longer, but more beautiful, driving route. Many people (including myself), if they have the time, take these routes. I suppose this is because of ingrained, environmental, rape culture. Surely the trees and mountains and beautiful buildings must be offended by all the attention.

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  43. Katie L on April 4, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Was that rape culture? Was I being a creeper? Is that situation the same? Why or why not? Where is the boundary?

    Hawkgrrl, it was objectification, but it wasn’t rape culture. Objectification is an important contributor to rape culture, but rape culture also includes victim blaming and slut shaming (“well, what were you wearing/drinking/doing?”), pervasive media portrayals of rape, excusing of rape, and teaching girls how to avoid rape instead of teaching boys NOT to rape.

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  44. Katie L on April 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Surely the trees and mountains and beautiful buildings must be offended by all the attention.

    THAT RIGHT THERE.

    See, I’m a human being, not an object — like, say, a tree or a mountain or a building. And I don’t want to be treated like an object. That’s the difference.

    Make sense?

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  45. K on April 4, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    It’s called lust. Look into it. Lust is not just a Christian concept. Sexaholics anonymous says lust is using a natural desire/gift (from our Higher Power)in an unnatural way.

    To me it sounds like Mr. Creeper, is struggling with a lust addiction. Sure noticing that people are physically or sexually attractive is not a crime, in fact we’re mammals-its natural. But the point at which is becomes a mental illness is when it begins to negatively influence your life and you can’t stop.

    As much as Mr. “creep” and probably Mrs. “creep” deny it, the fact is that spending extra time, energy, and focus on seeking out “skin” and “hot 18 year old girls” will negatively influence your marriage, your self worth, and your connection with whoever/whatever your higher power is and thus disconnects you from feeling true peace and joy.

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  46. alice on April 4, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Katie has a more extreme position than I do. I think people are people and have responses that we might all get comfortable with PROVIDED they aren’t objectifying people and making them uncomfortable.

    I think that’s close to what Katie is saying in a more definitive way.

    Mostly, I think the tone of the original post is awkward. It’s unserious and it has a feeling that it may be asking for confirmation that leering is OK. It isn’t properly, in my opinion, a topic to be made light of because it can be a problem for women and it could be a problem for men if it happened to them and wasn’t welcome.

    Mostly, I think the tone of the responses that belittle Katie are small, petty and beneath people here. How about serious questions and sincere discussion instead of insulting an individual or minimizing a legitimate point of view?

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  47. bin on April 4, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    But, Katie, mormon theology teaches that trees, mountains, flowers, etc., aren’t objects at all, but rather living, breathing, spiritual entities. Classifying them as objects is, shocking, objectifying them. The same would go with animals and any living creation. Something about the command to multiply and find joy seemingly dictates that one should grant them the likelihood of being sentient and not merely objects to admire.

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  48. Katie L on April 4, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Re: the shame issue. I really do hear you, Male Gaze, that sexual shame is a big problem in Mormon culture that contributes to pathology, addiction, body hatred, repression, and other bigger problems.

    Not to be all self-promoty, but here’s a post I wrote over on Doves and Serpents about a year ago that specifically tackles shame and is all about reframing negative teachings about sex so that they are sex-positive and healthier:

    http://www.dovesandserpents.org/wp/2012/06/gp-reframing-the-negative/

    Please understand, though: it’s possible to say that someone’s behavior is inappropriate and wrong without attaching shame to it. In fact, it’s healthy and necessary to do so — receiving honest feedback from others (feedback, I might add, that you solicited in your post) is how we grow.

    But because so many of us have internalized sexual shame that’s been handed down to us from our religion, when we hear correction on sexual matters, we immediately jump to, “This person is practically calling me a murderer!”

    It’s not the case. Is it human? Of course. Is it forgivable? Yes! We all make human, forgivable mistakes.

    But it doesn’t make it *right.* I hope you understand that’s where I’m coming from here.

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  49. Katie L on April 4, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Thanks for sticking up for me, Alice. :) The belittling responses are mildly frustrating, but not super surprising.

    I think people are people and have responses that we might all get comfortable with PROVIDED they aren’t objectifying people and making them uncomfortable.

    To be clear: there’s nothing wrong with responses, and in fact, there’s everything right about them. Physical sexual responses are natural, and though they are at times inconvenient ;), they are necessary to healthy, fulfilling sexuality.

    I draw the line the same place you do: at objectification.

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  50. Male Gaze on April 4, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Mostly, I think the tone of the original post is awkward. It’s unserious and it has a feeling that it may be asking for confirmation that leering is OK.

    This is what you read into it alice. (more on this below)

    It isn’t properly, in my opinion, a topic to be made light of because it can be a problem for women and it could be a problem for men if it happened to them and wasn’t welcome.

    Exactly, which is why the post was perfect as springboard for talking about what real creepers are like. Their behavior borders on stalking, or sexual harassment. But somehow all the comments got turned into a judgment on (what Carrie and I thought) was pretty benign behavior.

    Mostly, I think the tone of the responses that belittle Katie are small, petty and beneath people here. How about serious questions and sincere discussion instead of insulting an individual or minimizing a legitimate point of view?

    And see this is what I think is sad. Katie came into the discussion swinging. In her first comment (#4) she called me a creeper. She told me I had no respect for the humanity of these women. And when I called her on it, and classified it appropriately as shaming, she blames me for it (talk about victim blaming) and denies having done any wrong.

    The great IRONY of this post and comments is that it’s a microcosm of the very thing Katie is fighting against. I posted a confession. I put myself in a vulnerable place. As some commenters have pointed out I DID NOT blame any women, I self-identified as being concerned about my own creepy behavior. My vulnerability put me in a place to either be shamed, or via empathy, set on a healthier path. What I got (particularly from Katie) was shame. Strangely, my behavior, which is almost identical to what hawkgrrrl confessed (#40), gets tied to rape culture, creeper, disrespect, blaming my religion, etc. etc. but hawkgrrrl’s gets a “hawkgrrl, it was objectification, but it wasn’t rape culture.”

    It’s THE very problem with militant feminism! It’s an air-tight case that has a response for any criticism. It’s hyper-sensitive and feels it must, with great vigor, denounce whatever it deems as an offense, bulldozing anyone’s feelings in the process. I stopped engaging with Katie because it’s pointless. There’s no dialog to be had with her.

    You want a primer on shame I recommend reading Brene Brown’s work (the foremost researcher on shame and vulnerability). For a quick look see her TED talk here. It goes WAY beyond name-calling or citing as “sin” one’s behaviors as Katie seems to believe.

    You want to talk about issues instead of minimizing and blaming (which the bulk of this comment thread is about)? How about discussing what type of culture led me to engage in these activities? How about talking about how to deal with someone who is OBVIOUSLY aware enough to make this confession (perhaps even more sensitive than most men since my guess would be that most men have done that at some point in their lives and thought nothing of it), help them choose something better and not shaming them for it? How about discussing what makes illegal sexual harassment different than my behavior described in the post? How about discussing how Mormon men might try to leverage the Gospel as a way of manipulating women? How about discussing sexting and the impact it has on dating when you’re over 30? How about discussing how to really change rape culture, by engaging in empathic conversation, to bring to people’s awareness, cultural elements that create it in the first place? How about discussing how rape culture effects both women AND men?

    There are myriad topics here. Right out of the gate, by comment #4 I had been called a creeper, been told I had no respect for women, and associated with rape culture. Geez, talk about blaming!

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  51. Male Gaze on April 4, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Re Katie L

    the shame issue. I really do hear you, Male Gaze, that sexual shame is a big problem in Mormon culture that contributes to pathology, addiction, body hatred, repression, and other bigger problems.

    No Katie, I don’t think you do.

    Please understand, though: it’s possible to say that someone’s behavior is inappropriate and wrong without attaching shame to it.

    This underscores that you might not know enough about it. I strongly recommend reading something by Brene Brown. It is ABSOLUTELY possible to call someone out on behavior without shaming them. Criticism without empathy creates shame. Guilt says “I did something bad,” shame says “I am bad.” The problem isn’t my feelings you see. The problem is that shame breeds the very behaviors that those who use it seek to correct. You perpetuate the culture you fight against by shaming people when they come to you with a confession. Now admittedly this was a public post, I didn’t come to you personally. Nevertheless, I put myself in a vulnerable position. It could have been the birthplace for teaching, love, compassion. Instead, here we are, fighting, with less than positive feelings. Note that I didn’t blame any women for their dress or anything, ergo my behavior should NOT have been labeled part of rape culture. Maybe I really just did need someone to point out how this behavior is negative. If I were your teenage son, and you treated me this way, I’d feel awful, and likely never come to you again.

    when we hear correction on sexual matters, we immediately jump to, “This person is practically calling me a murderer!”

    You see, this makes it out to be like the communicator has no responsibility to be empathic. He/she ought to be able just say it like it is, and the listener ought not to take offense. That’s a lot like victim blaming in my book.

    I hope you understand that’s where I’m coming from here.

    I’ll be honest with you Katie. Your entire comment thread was lost on me after the first sentence in your first comment. I heard you, I understood you, I even agree with you. But nothing you say matters now because the damage is done. It’s like therapy 101.

    To be realistic Katie, it’s no big deal. I’m not really upset. The real author of this post (not the Male Gaze persona) doesn’t engage in those behaviors anyway. It was bombastic to make a point. But apparently we didn’t do a very good job, and everyone thought the goal of the post was to pass judgment on Male Gaze.

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  52. Male Gaze on April 4, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Re Katie-
    Oops, I apologize, I read part of your sentence wrong…

    Please understand, though: it’s possible to say that someone’s behavior is inappropriate and wrong without attaching shame to it.

    Yes it is. But from this thread, I am seriously concerned that you don’t know how that’s to be done. It’s not just about name calling and citing sin, or even personal attacks. It runs deep. I really recommend reading something by Brene Brown.

    You can’t use language like “rape culture,” “creeper,” “no respect for humanity,” and then claim you’re not shaming. It highlights that you don’t understand shame at all. There wasn’t a shred of empathy or even a softening of your tone or attitude until comment #31 when you engaged someone other than me. And the weird thing is, I didn’t even challenge you. I responded nicely, even agreeing with you, but saying I thought there was a better way to do it other than shame.

    Nevermind my feelings though, it’s fine. The point I wanna drive home is that you undermine your message with responses like those in this comment thread. And I think that’s clear from the pushback you’ve gotten.

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  53. Male Gaze on April 4, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Re Katie L
    One last thing. This was great…

    But because so many of us have internalized sexual shame that’s been handed down to us from our religion, when we hear correction on sexual matters, we immediately jump to, “This person is practically calling me a murderer!”

    It’s not the case. Is it human? Of course. Is it forgivable? Yes! We all make human, forgivable mistakes.

    But it doesn’t make it *right.* I hope you understand that’s where I’m coming from here.

    I think if you started with this you would get much further in creating friends and having people listen to your views.

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  54. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    How is it that every human behavior has to be compartmentalized, named, judged,or attached to a syndrome, typically negative.

    The Gospel actually does a reasonably good job of pointing out good and bad behavior without the microscopic navel gazing classification that seems to be so prevalent in our society.

    In a manner of over the top commentary, I’ll admit that we all know that men are the root of all evil in the world and continue to marginalize women in order to maintain this extraordinary power we crave and cannot live without. It’s pretty obvious.

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  55. alice on April 4, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    In her first comment (#4) she called me a creeper.

    You asked the question. You got an answer. You weren’t prepared for anything but support for behavior that’s questionable?

    She didn’t “insult”. She suggested you dial it back in and only you will know if that was on point. (You didn’t ask but I’ll volunteer that the tone of your subsequent responses suggests she hit a nerve.)

    With that said, I’m bowing out. I don’t see much in the way of constructive dialogue.

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  56. Katie L on April 4, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Hmmm. The question the OP asked was, “Is Male Gaze a creeper?”

    In my first response I merely answered the question: “Yes, Male Gaze is a creeper.” And then I explained why — by pointing that he was not regarding *these women* (as in, the women he’s going out of his way to check out, not all women; I never universalized it) as fully human. Which is true and I stand by that. Objectifying others, by definition, dehumanizes them. Throughout this dialogue, you’ve read into my words things that simply aren’t there.

    FWIW, *I* didn’t bring up rape culture and wouldn’t have. It first arose in comment 14, when you said, “It’s pretty easy to become a rape/sexual harassment focused society and shame any healthy sexual feelings in the process.” That was the first mention of rape culture in this thread, and it is to this point that I responded in my subsequent comments.

    Context matters. I don’t know Male Gaze and we don’t have a relationship. This isn’t an intimate space where he came humbly with a confession that had clearly been troubling him. The OP was humorous, but flippant and filled with jokes about pornstaches, coeds, and neck cramps, and justification about how the behavior in question wasn’t really a big deal.

    If the OP had been, “I’m worried that I might be engaging in inappropriate behavior — it feels wrong but I don’t know. Is it?” this entire thread would have been very different.

    With your last responses, I feel like I’ve been caught in a bait-and-switch. If you’d wanted to have a serious discussion about rape culture and its implications in Mormonism and how it affects men and women, you could have, you know, written a post about that.

    It’s one of those moments when you’ve engaged sincerely and in good faith with genuine passion and emotional energy, only to find out that other people were messing with you all along. It is what it is, but I’ll say it’s turned what I was regarding as an enjoyable and interesting debate into a rather unrewarding interaction. Though at least I got to waste a bunch of time at work. ;)

    Best wishes to you and all that.

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  57. J on April 4, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Male Gaze, I love how you say you’ve stopped engaging with Katie 5 paragraphs into a comment directed at her, and then you continue on for another 3 comments. If you’re going to attack Katie and her arguments, you might as well address her directly. :/

    Your arguments are honestly dizzying and difficult to follow. But from what I’ve gathered, you actually agree with Katie’s point, but take issue with the first line of her original post.

    “Disagree. Dude is a creeper.”

    Um, the entire OP was about whether or not that behavior made the author a “creeper!” Katie didn’t choose the vocabulary here – you did. She piped in on the discussion at hand and then explained why she felt that way. You may say that the intent of the OP was to create an opportunity for empathy, but it looks a lot more like an attempt to distinguish appropriate levels of sexual attention from inappropriate. Katie disagreed with where the OP drew the line. You also listed a lot of things the discussion “could have” been about, not all of which were even relevant to the OP.

    Then you go on to say that *nothing else she has to say matters*. It doesn’t matter that she has gone on to clarify her point, has shown empathy, and has expressed an understanding of the problems surrounding shame in the church. It doesn’t matter that she’s clarified that her intention wasn’t to shame or embarrass anyone. It doesn’t even matter that the conclusion in that first post was a *very* gentle, “It’s time to reel it in,” and not some kind of sweeping condemnation. Sorry, but trying discredit every word she’s said because you didn’t like one sentence seems more like a silencing tactic than anything to me. If you were really more interested in a healthy and empathetic discussion than arguing, you would focus on your apparent common ground rather than trying to dismiss her entirely.

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  58. LDS Anarchist on April 4, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    bin #47 has a point.

    On another topic, regarding this idea of objectification, I wonder if it goes both ways, inwardly as well as outwardly?

    By that I mean, if a man or a woman dresses to impress, to appear handsome or pretty in the eyes of another, are they guilty of self-objectification (making themselves into an object to be admired)? Is this more rape culture at work? Perhaps we could call it self-rape culture? Or is self-objectification only rape culture if it is intended to be for sexual attraction? If so, then all the women who dress in sexy, scantily clad outfits, intending to attract the sexual attentions of the men around them, are they participating in self-rape culture?

    Many questions, I know, but this leads into yet another area: plastic surgery. Those who change their looks for cosmetic purposes surely must be guilty of self-objectification, right? The parts of their bodies are viewed as modifiable objects, are they not? And when modified by surgery, are they not pleased with showing off their new look? Is not all of this objectification?

    I’m sorry for all the questions, but I’m having a hard time understanding the precise nature of rape culture. I understand rape, which is based upon forcing someone, or taking away (overpowering) their agency, but rape culture still appears fuzzy to me. Does rape culture violate agency? If so, how? If not, why is it associated with rape? Please enlighten me, someone.

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  59. Will on April 4, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Hawk,

    Loved your confession, but I’m sure it is a pretty common occurrence. I hope so. And, It’s definitively ok as long as you don’t go home and play with your dingy, or similar womanhood. This is what makes life worth living. What a feeling it is to have that attraction and an even better feeling to have it sent back. I can still remember that feeling the first time I saw my wife. It’s 25 years later and she is still hot and the feeling is still there. Awsome.

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  60. Will on April 4, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Katie,

    I think the objection people have to your comments is the association between courting and rape culture. An unmarried man, or women, that drives four blocks out of the way to see a member of the opposite sex is totally, absolutely, normal, healthy behavior. It is fun. It is exciting. It is part of falling in love. I loved Hawk’s confession. She reminded me of my yesteryears. It is NOT a rape culture; rather, a courting culture. And, a married man courting another woman is NOT a rape culture, but an infidelity culture.

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  61. Carrie on April 4, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Well this went to hell in a hand basket. As co-author of this post I had my hesitations about posting this piece here..and alas, I should have heeded my own discomfort. The reality is, I do not think those who read or comment on this blog are familiar with the literary tools of satire, sarcasm, humor, or exaggeration. And that was the purpose of this piece. To point out something absurdly benign that culture, and those in the culture, often misconstrue and blow out of proportion by turning it into something it is not, while ignoring the real issues.

    I think Katie should get an award for so graciously making a mountain out of this mole hill…thus perfectly highlighting the point of this piece: that normal, every day behavior does not a “creeper” make. Now, had Male Gaze said he dresses in black, hides behind the garbage cans at the local Lambda Delta Sigma house and peeks in the windows so he can catch the LDS girls in the midst of a panty and bra pillow fight…and then returns home to watch rape scenes on YouTube, then yes, he would definitely be a “creeper” who was engaging in pro-rape culture activities.

    But that’s not what he said. However it appears that is all anyone managed to read.

    The hope we had in writing this post was to spark a conversation around the idea that normal, non-threatening behaviors do not make men “creepers” and that normal non-threatened women should not think men are creepers simply because they look at other women. I wanted Male Gaze to know that whatever, and whoever gave him the idea that looking at women was bad/shameful/or creeper activity was wrong. And I wanted to point out that there are a lot of men who either lack basic social skills, or engage in anti-social behaviors and THOSE are the ones we need to be concerned about. Because those are the ones who are creepy.

    If we encourage the idea that looking at another person and thinking they are attractive is wrong, and we teach women that a man who looks at her or finds her attractive is pro-rape then we are creating and supporting a stereotype that is based on a skewed opinion, unhealthy ideas, and unrealistic expectations. There is nothing wrong with a guy looking at me and finding me aesthetically pleasing. Where it starts to feel icky is when it goes from being a normal look to aggressive or manipulative behavior. For the record Male Gaze did not give examples of aggressive or manipulative behavior. Driving down a road and looking at co-eds is not aggressive…driving down a road looking at co-ed while making sexual propositions is…see the difference…the look, like the thought, is not the problem. The action that follows it could be.

    But the truest tragedy of this post is that no one seemed to glean the humor in what we were saying. It’s humorous for a guy to consider himself a creeper when he’s not. And it’s humorous that guys who are creepers rarely recognize that they are. And it’s humorous to be a woman in her 30s trying to decipher the creepers from the non creepers. And it’s humorous that LDS culture creates the entire creeper mental. It’s humorous, all of it. I’m sorry that didn’t come out as strongly as we had hoped.

    And before you attack me Katie (sorry but you have been a bit of a bully throughout this comment storm) This is my opinion. I may not have put my opinion in quotation marks like you did, but the fact remains we’re all just spewing opinion here. So until either of us can show some solid peer reviewed articles with sound quantitative data to prove who is, or is not, correct when it comes to what actually contributes to rape culture, we should just let this all go and agree to disagree.

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  62. Male Gaze on April 4, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    Well, I definitely let my emotions get the best of me in a few comments. It’s fair to criticize that for sure. My apologies.

    I suppose my view of Katie’s comments is just different. I don’t know what to say. I just don’t agree that the behavior in question can be considered rape culture. I also think LDS Anarchist brings up a great point about being uncertain of the boundaries of rape culture. It feels like a loosely carved out label that can be applied to just about any male behavior that *some* women find undesirable.

    But ultimately (and I think I’ve said this a few times) I do agree with Katie that objectifying men and women is harmful.

    I’ll bow out of the discussion lest I embarrass myself more. ;-)

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  63. J on April 4, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    I’m going to attempt to articulate the connection between objectification and rape culture. Objectification contributes to rape culture because viewing someone as a sexual object allows us to see them as something less than human. Let me be clear: it’s connected, but that doesn’t mean that oggling a woman is somehow comparable to rape, or that it makes someone pro-rape. At all. It just means that anything that reduces someone to an object and ignores their humanity *contributes* to a culture in which rape is as unfortunately common as it is in ours. I hope that makes sense.

    Being attracted to someone and then engaging with them on a human level, courting, and falling in love is NOT treating them as an object. Being sexually attracted to someone I don’t know while respecting their space and feelings isn’t objectification, either. That’s treating sexuality as one (super great!) aspect of an entire person, rather than thinking/talking about them as if their only value is in my sexual gratification. I won’t go into this specific example; a lot of arguments have been made on both sides and I don’t see a need to rehash it. Like you said, Carrie, we can agree to disagree.

    If you wanted to start a conversation about what does and doesn’t constitute “creepy” behavior…I would say it’s a success. I do get that it’s frustrating to feel misunderstood and to maybe feel like the thread derailed, but it could have been a really interesting discussion (and was at times!) if there had been more focus on why you feel that the behavior described in the post is appropriate, rather than being upset that everyone didn’t agree with you.

    That said, kudos for posting something that got people thinking and talking, and doing it in a lighthearted and humorous way.

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  64. LDS Anarchist on April 4, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    Carrie #61,

    I like your use of the word threatening. I think the word threatening very much can describe what is rape culture. If there is no threat intended nor any threat perceived, how can it be rape culture? If the guy ogles, and the women like being ogled and don’t feel threatened by it, surely that’s not rape culture. If the guy ogles, and the woman feels threatened by it, and he is informed that she feels threatened by it, but he keeps on doing it anyhow, knowing full well how it makes her feel, that surely can be classified as rape culture and creepy. His behavior, in that case, is intended to pose a threat, which is what rape is all about right? Posing a threat to get something you want.

    So, it seems to me that objectification doesn’t quite cut it as a standard of what is or is not rape culture. I can look at and give compliments about a person’s body and looks all day long, and if that person doesn’t feel threatened nor bothered by it, how can my objectification be connected to rape?

    Rape, an abnormal behavior, seems a harsh connection to such normal human behaviors as looking at a woman’s T&A or a man’s bulging muscles. I’m not even convinced, as yet, that objectification is not a normal, human behavior. I’ll need to think about this some more.

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  65. LDS Anarchist on April 4, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    J #63,

    Objectification contributes to rape culture because viewing someone as a sexual object allows us to see them as something less than human.

    This statement does not sit well with me. Normal human sexuality seems to include objectification of your partner’s body parts. When a man desire’s his wife’s body, he’s not thinking of her as less than human. These are very human emotions and desires, so I’m not sure it is helpful to call normal human sexuality (and normal human objectification) as something less than human.

    I think you can truthfully say that rape also has objectification in it, but rape is a perversion of human sexuality, so it is to be expected that there will be some aspects of it that mirror normal human sexuality, while other aspects that deviate.

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  66. LDS Anarchist on April 4, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Will #60,

    And, a married man courting another woman is NOT a rape culture, but an infidelity culture.

    Unless that married man and his wife are polygamists seeking a second wife, right? Then it’s all well and good. No infidelity culture.

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  67. J on April 4, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Anarchist – I can understand feeling really uncomfortable with the connection between objectification and rape (which is not as uncommon as we would like to think), which is why I tried to clarify that I don’t think objectifying someone is “like” rape. Rape IS an extreme example of objectification – you are using the other person’s body as a tool for your own sexual gratification without any concern for them as human beings. Rape culture isn’t a list of actions, and people who contribute to it don’t think rape is an awesome idea. It just means that we live in a culture where rape is too common and often dismissed for a variety of reasons. The widespread objectification of women contributes to a culture where a rapist is able to look at a woman without acknowledging her humanity. It doesn’t mean that objectifying someone is like raping them. :( I KNOW THAT WAS NOT AT ALL ELOQUENT, but I hope it was in some way helpful. :)

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  68. J on April 4, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    Oh dang you already replied. :) A husband is never going to regard his wife as JUST a sexual object. Well – actually, that does happen, in abusive relationships. But sexual desire does not = objectification, which I think I went over in another comment. I know it’s a nuanced difference, but I really do think there is a difference.

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  69. J on April 4, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    A couple of things I wanted to mention:

    I appreciate Male Gaze’s last post. I’m glad that we have common ground when it comes to objectification, even if we define it in some different terms. :)

    Carrie, I’m disappointed by the dismissive and insulting way you regard Katie in your last post. What I read is that if I disagree with the point you’re making in your post I’m either too stupid to understand humor or just overreacting. Then you go on to call someone a bully just before mocking them for their use of quotation marks? It is a shame that the conversation couldn’t have remained more respectful.

    I’m going to resist the urge to continue derailing the thread. :) Thanks to everyone who contributed to an interesting discussion.

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  70. LDS Anarchist on April 4, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    J #68,

    I wrote in #65:

    Normal human sexuality seems to include objectification of your partner’s body parts.

    So, if you draw a line and say that any objectification is rape culture, you end up calling normal human sexuality rape culture. Most people (including myself) do not consider normal human sexuality either rape or rape culture.

    We can agree that the rapist or potential rapist engages in total objectification, which is a perversion of normal human sexuality. And we can define rape and rape culture in terms of this extreme level of objectification. But to say that any normal level of objectification is rape culture or contributes to the creation of rapists seems an extreme view that does not take into account normal human sexuality.

    Rape is, in essence, a kind of violence, or threat of violence, used to achieve dominance, control, to humiliate and to feel powerful. The sex is a means to an end. It is the violence (or its threat) that is at the heart of the rapist. This is the primary urge. The sexual desire is secondary.

    So, if the culture objectifies women to the level of the rapist (total objectification) then I could agree with you that the culture contributes to conditioning the people to be more accepting of rape. But if the culture exhibits normal objectification, that’s not rape culture. Or, to put it another way, that doesn’t culture rapists. That just cultures normal human sexuality.

    Our society has, of course, a mix of normal, healthy culture and rape culture (e.g., the adult industry, kitten programming, and other dark, perverse works). But I think it is important not to conflate normal culture with rape culture.

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  71. Katie L on April 4, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Carrie and LDS-A, I’d encourage to do to some reading about what rape culture actually is. It’s a specific term with a specific meaning, more than the sum of its parts (i.e. the words “rape” + “culture”; a couple of those peer-reviewed articles I linked to upthread might be useful). ;) Because you seem to misunderstand what the term means, you’re making some assumptions that aren’t accurate.

    This is the last comment I’ll make here, but I will say this has been a very…strange…conversation. I’ve been dialoguing about religious matters with folks both online and offline for over a decade. I can genuinely say that this is the first time in my entire life that I’ve been ever accused of being difficult to have a conversation with or being a bully. I’m left feeling a little unsettled and will do some self-reflection about that, but in the end I think I’m most disappointed that what could have been a productive discussion on principles and ideas turned into an analysis of “tone,” comments about how good looking or not feminists are, and speculations about whether readers of W&T are familiar with literary genres of humor and satire. :/ But hey. You win some, you lose some.

    Still, best wishes in your future endeavors and blogging projects. I wish you much peace and happiness.

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  72. LDS Anarchist on April 4, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Katie #71,

    It’s a specific term with a specific meaning, more than the sum of its parts (i.e. the words “rape” + “culture”; a couple of those peer-reviewed articles I linked to upthread might be useful). ;) Because you seem to misunderstand what the term means, you’re making some assumptions that aren’t accurate.

    From the Wikipedia:

    Rape culture is a concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.

    Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape. Rape culture has been used to model behavior within social groups, including prison systems where prison rape is common and conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire countries have also been alleged to be rape cultures.

    Although the concept of rape culture is a generally accepted theory in feminist academia, there is disagreement over what defines a rape culture and to what degree a given society meets the criteria to be considered a rape culture.

    Rape culture has been observed to correlate with other social factors and behaviors. Research identifies correlation between rape myths, victim blaming and trivialization of rape with increased incidence of racism, homophobia, ageism, classism, religious intolerance and other forms of discrimination.

    Emphasis mine. If, according to the Wikipedia, there is disagreement over what constitutes rape culture, how can you say that “it’s a specific term with a specific meaning”? Perhaps it would be best to say that your definition of rape culture differs from my definition..

    Of course, I’m not a feminist, so I suppose it is to be expected that I will disagree with many of the theories and definitions that originate from that quarter.

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  73. LDS Anarchist on April 4, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    Well, now that Katie, J, Male Gaze and Carrie have bowed out of the conversation, I guess I will take it over. Lol.

    I will make a few more observations on this topic, since I now have the floor, so to speak.

    First, my experience overseas indicates that Americans are different in their views on sexuality. We are more prudish than the average human. I suspect it is partly because of the Puritan heritage we inherited.

    Secondly, and this is concerning the topic of rape culture, introduced by Katie, I don’t feel constrained to accept the use of a term invented in 1974 when it conflicts with my conception of what rape is all about. As English is not a static language and since no one owns a term (unless it is trademarked), I can apply and define the term as I see fit, from my non-feminist perspective. So I feel free to challenge the notion that any degree of objectification is abnormal human behavior and equates to a rape culture. By assigning such a meaning, you end up bastardizing the term and showing yourself as extreme as the rapists you are against, but on the other end of the spectrum.

    To be clearer in writing, the rapists is for total objectification, whereas the feminist is for no objectification. These are extreme positions. Normal human sexuality lies somewhere in the middle. This shows that the feminist who holds to such views is as anti-normal human sexuality as the rapist, for both views are perversions. I guess this is why we are taught that there is to be moderation in all things.

    Third, I thought the post was intriguing and hope the authors will not be dissuaded from posting again.

    Finally, I think creeps (which is the term I use) are people (men or women) who choose to not respect other people’s boundaries once they are known, so that they intentionally make the people feel uncomfortable. These boundaries may be rights violations. For example, they might be a person’s right to personal space or a person’s right to privacy. Or, it might not be a rights violation. You may simply want to have someone stop telephoning you all the time. Whatever the boundaries, the creep chooses to step over them. But being a creep does not automatically equate to being a rapist.

    The creep bothers a person, making them feel uncomfortable, but does not necessarily threaten them with violence, like the rapist does. It is unfortunate that the conversation degenerated into discussing rape culture and equating it with creepiness.

    Male Gaze didn’t indicate that he actually bothered anyone with his behavior, so I’m not sure that I would classify him as a creep. Horny, most definitely, but creep, not likely.

    Last observation: Just as a person has a right to privacy, so everyone with eyes has the right to look, wherever they want, for as long as they want. The minute you tell another person to “stop looking at me” you begin to shame him or her into not exercising his or her right to look. Certainly that could be considered unrighteous dominion. It may be culturally impolite to stare (making one a creep), but a person is certainly within his or her right to do so.

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  74. Male Gaze on April 5, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Re LDS Anarchist-

    Third, I thought the post was intriguing and hope the authors will not be dissuaded from posting again.

    Thanks, I suppose we’ll see.

    I liked your comments. Really well thought out. Thanks for your contribution.

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  75. KLC on April 5, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    “I can genuinely say that this is the first time in my entire life that I’ve been ever accused of being difficult to have a conversation with or being a bully.”

    Katie, you arrive with all of the righteous indignation of a doula at an OBGYN convention and you are shocked that there is pushback?

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  76. Uh..Oh on April 5, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    Guess I really missed the point. I laughed and felt like it was done with tongue-in-cheek humor. A bit of truth, a bit of humor, and an opportunity to ask some questions were presented.

    What makes a creeper?

    I say we all have differing opinions. Looking at creepers individually (not collectively as each creeper has individual things they do) I would seek certain info before labeling anybody creeper or creepette.

    1. Married/single/divorced?

    2. Quality of relationships(past and present.) Interactions given or withheld in relationships can impact the propensity toward creeperism.

    3. Has children/no children? If single or divorced with children, the prospective creeper has less time to creep as they are likely picking up and shuttling children to the next events in the day (listening and interacting with children while fixing dinner, doing school work, wash, solving dramas, reading stories, putting to bed, and let’s not forget having fun.)

    And yes, I do understand these questions don’t get to be asked or answered when there is a drive-by creeper.

    Lest anybody gets upset with this comment, it was meant to lighten it all up a little. I know this can be a serious problem. I also know both sexes look and appreciate and that’s all they ever want it to be. When we put on our faces and clothes in the morning and we are appreciated for how we look, it can make a good day. If a creeper(male or female) looks and moves on, it seems like life to me. When one returns repeatedly to ogle at one person, that would be stalking in my book. And that’s a whole different story.

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  77. Frank Pellett on April 5, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    A thought that occoured to me last night – what if you found your Bishop, Elder Holland, or POTUS engaged in the same activites as MaleGaze? Does holding a position put you at a highter standard for what is appropriate behavior?

    It seems to me that the behavior of MaleGaze is being passed off as a “boys will be boys” thing. We should be encouraging these boys to become men, not passing off these kinds of actions because “they don’t hurt anyone”.

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  78. 2menot3 on April 5, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    We had a not to distant POTUS engage in activities that were far more damaging than “looking” and the nation basically let him off the hook.

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  79. hawkgrrrl on April 5, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    I too took it as self-deprecating humor coming from male gaze. In the OP, he only objectified women. He didn’t aggressively approach them, and the only stimulation he sought was visual. To me, the lecture on rape culture was premature based on facts not in evidence. Creepy behaviour, maybe. But so was my crush on the German kid. It seems easier to go to rape culture when it’s a man doing something. That feels sexist to me.

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  80. Andrew S on April 5, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    In the OP, he only objectified women.

    if we were playing a game of Family Feud with the wikipedia page for rape culture,

    Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape.

    You’d literally have the number 2 spot.

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  81. hawkgrrrl on April 6, 2013 at 1:45 AM

    Objectifying someone you are attracted to is the definition of physical attraction. It’s all you can do until you know someone. Do we feel differently if he looks at their beautiful faces rather than their T&A? Do we feel differently if he fantasizes about dating them or meeting their parents, getting married and raising a family?

    Victim blaming is much worse. MG’s fictional example is doing zero victim blaming and not trivializing rape. Rape has nothing to do with it. It’s only come up because as a man, his actions are automatically interpreted as predatory (whereas mine may be viewed “passively” – I was throwing myself in the path of the handsome German boy). Yet our behavior was in essence identical.

    Rape culture is being overused to the point that it’s losing all meaning here.

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  82. Andrew S on April 6, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    re 81,

    hawkgrrrl,

    Objectifying someone you are attracted to is the definition of physical attraction. It’s all you can do until you know someone.

    I don’t buy that. I don’t have to consider another human being to merely be an object for my sexual pleasure until I know them. I mean, I don’t want to be a Kantian here, but I don’t think the categorical imperative not to treat human beings as means to an end is rocket science.

    It is NOT the case that for any random person that I see in public that I think, “This is just a walking object” UNTIL I know them. Even if I don’t know someone, I know that they are people with personalities, dreams, desires, needs, agendas, etc., I don’t have to know what the particulars of those are to know that they exist. If I am in a condition where I am so poor at recognizing the *existence* of other people’s subjectivities just because I don’t “know” the person (and to be fair, this is the basic idea behind a lot of in-group vs out-group stuff), this is not something that I should just say, “Oh well, that’s how human psychology/sociology works. I guess I should just deal with that.” No, I should expand my horizons. We expect the same thing on every other suspect class dimension. (If you do not recognize the subjectivities of other races or of lgbt folks until you know them [which recent news has shown the latter to be the case certain certain Republican congressmen with gay children], this is a problem to be overcome.)

    Physical attraction means finding someone’s physical features aesthetically beautiful. It does not mean regarding or treating someone merely as an object for my sexual pleasure.

    Do we feel differently if he looks at their beautiful faces rather than their T&A? Do we feel differently if he fantasizes about dating them or meeting their parents, getting married and raising a family?

    I want to quote a line from the article by Frederickson and Roberts that Katie linked earlier:

    The common thread running through all forms of sexual objectification is the experience of being treated as a body (or collection of body parts) valued predominantly for its use to (or consumption by) others.

    (Emphasis from original).

    If he looks at their beautiful faces but reduces the entire person to a beautiful face which is object for his aesthetic consumption, that’s still problematic. If he fantasizes about dating them or meeting their parents, getting married and raising a family as a means to his own personal ends, that’s still problematic. (I would make a commentary now…people who just “need to find a woman” or “need to find a man” as if it’s a checkbox that needs to be ticked irrespective of the PERSON that woman/man is are in this boat, IMO.)

    Victim blaming is much worse. MG’s fictional example is doing zero victim blaming and not trivializing rape. Rape has nothing to do with it.

    This is definitely getting into Oppression Olympics here (x is much worse, so y doesn’t matter at all), but I’ll point out a few things that Katie L has already pointed out:

    Just as rape doesn’t exist in a vacuum (hence, rape can exist in a culture that inadvertently supports it or one that opposes it), different elements of rape culture other than actual rape do not exist in a vacuum.

    As Katie L pointed out, objectification is an contributing factor to rape culture, and I would say it’s precisely because a lot of victim blaming is entwined with objectification issues.

    Like, here’s the basic logic behind a lot of victim blaming especially in sexual contexts:

    Women are responsible for men’s sexual attractions, because women can and do present themselves as sexual objects for men’s use. If a woman did not want sexual attention, then she should have done x, y, z, a, b and c not to present herself as a sexual object. Only women who have done x, y, z, a, b, and c (and any other things we can think of as being activities that would present herself as a sexual object) can be considered to have taken appropriate care in the situation.

    The objectification is embedded in the context. What victim blaming does on top of that is that it externalizes the objectification to the victim — where all of a sudden, objectification is not something that the man does to a woman, but objectification is rather the man listening to signals that the woman herself sends. And the culture emphasizes that women should manage the signals they send.

    This, by the way, is something discussed by Frederickson:

    At a psychological level, perhaps the most profound effect of objectifying treatment is that it coaxes girls and women to adopt a particular view of self. Objectification theory posits that the cultural milieu of objectification functions to socialize girls and women to, at some level, treat themselves as objects to be looked at and evaluated. [there’s a reference here, but I don’t want to look up the endnote here…]

    The external pressures that encourage women’s preoccupation with their own physical appearance abound…

    …For these and other reasons, Unger (1979) argues that physical beauty can translate to power for women.

    That gets me to the next thing you said:

    It’s only come up because as a man, his actions are automatically interpreted as predatory (whereas mine may be viewed “passively” – I was throwing myself in the path of the handsome German boy). Yet our behavior was in essence identical.

    To the extent that your experiences are viewed “passively”, this is precisely what would be expected of the internalized objectification women are socialized into. But you know, I think that your going out of your way on the off chance of seeing him is also creepy — so I’m not the one proposing a distinction there — and even if passive, I think that a culture that socializes women to self-objectify because that’s a socially enforced way of deriving power is extremely problematic.

    Rape culture is being overused to the point that it’s losing all meaning here.

    I think this is a major disconnect. Here and elsewhere, a lot of people have interpreted other people’s comments as saying that they think “everything” is rape culture. The reasonable inference if that is the case would be something like (to quote the Incredibles’ villan, Syndrome), “If everyone is super, no one is.”

    But I don’t see people as “overusing” rape culture or saying that everything is rape culture. I see rape culture as being described as a few specific mechanisms, but these mechanisms just happen to be pervasive (which is exactly what “culture” does.)

    I’ll use an analogy. If we are all fish in water, we take the water for granted. But if we are not a fish, and we go into the water, then we’re likely to complain about how much of a shock all of these wetness is. Wetness is pervasive undersea!

    The fish, if they could understand our complaints and speak back, would likely wonder why the heck we’re talking about how “everything is wet”. Like, what’s the big deal?

    But everything is not wet. The fish out of water would quickly learn that everything is not wet. Water is wet. It’s just that undersea, water is a pervasive feature of the environment, so there’s a lot to talk about for wetness.

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  83. Andrew S on April 6, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Anyway, I don’t necessarily want to address every point here (I only briefly skimmed over comments), but it seems to me that a major contention is in identifying someone as a creeper vs. saying that someone engages in creepy actions.

    I will agree with others who have pointed out that Male Gaze and Carrie themselves framed the discussion in terms of the former rather than the latter.

    But I will say this:

    One thing that I often have to talk about in similar discussion on race is this: I am not really interested in trying to find out who is a racist. because to me, that’s narrow. I want to address racist actions, beliefs, and attitudes, which can be harbored or perpetuated by anyone.

    If we are focusing on creeps vs. non-creeps, or racist vs. non-racists, then we miss that the category of actions and beliefs and attitudes that are being called “creepy” or “racist” (or whatever other term) are *not* things that can only be done *by* creeps or racists.

    You can have racism without racists. You can have creepiness without creeps.

    Instead, the major disagreement I see in the discussion is what comprises creepiness. It seems to me that some people are saying, “Well, x actually is far creepier than y, so only x should be considered creepy.” And this spills over into something like, “If you say both x and y are creepy, then you’re overusing the term and/or calling everything creepy, trivializing it.”

    But I think what others are saying is not that everything is creepy, or even that everything is equally creepy. It’s just that “normal” behaviors, expectations, attitudes, are so out of whack that we have “normalized” a lot of creepy behaviors. Because of this, we don’t have a buffer against even more extremely creepy behaviors.

    Like, if we agree in a racial context that burning crosses in people’s homes is DEFINITELY racist and definitely extreme, it can still matter where less extreme (but still racist) actions/beliefs/habits such as (for just one example) thinking that it’s better “for the children” if races don’t intermarry are accepted or not, because those things are the buffer for more extreme things. And, I’ll note, even these things cause harm to the people they affect.

    Even if there is a pervasive attitude about race (such that it is a “norm”al attitude)…it can still be racist. That’s not to say that everything is racist. Just that society is pervasively racist, so we’d expect to see elements of racism frequently.

    Same thing with the discussion on creepers/creepiness. Like, I get that there are more extremely creepy things that people can do than what MG is described as doing, but what MG is doing is not OK, and just chalking it up to regular heterosexual male sexuality means that this behavior cannot buffer against more extreme behavior (which, people also describe as “just heterosexual men being men”

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  84. hawkgrrrl on April 6, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    “Physical attraction means finding someone’s physical features aesthetically beautiful. It does not mean regarding or treating someone merely as an object for my sexual pleasure.” That’s actually my point, too. In this case, Male Gaze does not discuss any intent to actually use the women he sees for sexual gratification: he’s not going to approach them, talk to them, yell out “shake that thing” or anything else. He’s just looking as he goes by, appreciating their beauty. I don’t know what’s going through his head beyond that. He may be fantasizing that one of them is his intellectual soul mate.

    But we can’t divorce all actions from actual biological components of attraction. I’ll tell you what group is teeming with rape culture: monkeys! They’ve got it all. They are very aggressive, engage in prostitution (!), and publicly masturbate.

    I really don’t think it’s engaging in Oppression Olympics to say that MG’s behavior has nothing to do with rape culture. Feeling physical attraction is normal. Some amount of going out of your way to see people you find physically attractive is normal. Where does looking end and leering begin? He didn’t say he leered. He also said: “you really wanted to impress a 30-something year old woman, but you’re really self-conscious” He could be trying to impress someone only toward his own ends, or because he wants to make a human connection, and he’s lonely and socially inept.

    I’m glad to know you’re not giving me a pass. If you’re going to indict Male Gaze for objectification, I’m equally guilty. Probably more guilty as my scenario wasn’t fictionalized. However, I’d rather live in a world where we don’t have to create so many artificial boundaries between people to ascertain motives and consent in the early stages of flirtation.

    There was a great episode of HIMYM that described this issue. The gang evaluated sweeping romantic gestures as either “Dobbler or Dahlmer” (Dobbler = Lloyd Dobbler from Say Anything, Dahlmer = serial killer who eats his victims), and the only distinction was whether the recipient of the gesture was equally interested in the person or not. But the episode showed the difficulty of gauging that interest level in the early stages of a relationship.

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  85. hawkgrrrl on April 6, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Here’s a link to the Dobler-Dahmer theory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V5xjfSB53E

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  86. Andrew S on April 6, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    re 84,

    Hawkgrrrl,

    “Physical attraction means finding someone’s physical features aesthetically beautiful. It does not mean regarding or treating someone merely as an object for my sexual pleasure.” That’s actually my point, too. In this case, Male Gaze does not discuss any intent to actually use the women he sees for sexual gratification: he’s not going to approach them, talk to them, yell out “shake that thing” or anything else. He’s just looking as he goes by, appreciating their beauty. I don’t know what’s going through his head beyond that. He may be fantasizing that one of them is his intellectual soul mate.

    I’m saying that you don’t have to approach them, talking to them, yell at them, or touch them to objectify them.

    When you say he is “looking as he goes by, appreciating their beauty,” that’s the objectification. Because they are not regarded as people, but as beautiful bodies for visual consumption.

    I want to go back to something Carrie said in the post:

    They are art. You are allowed to appreciate art.

    ^This is precisely objectification. People are *not* art. They are human beings. People. Now, if I am a dancer who is performing a dance, then perhaps we can start talking about appreciating my art. But I am a person. Are we human, or are we dancer? Well, we are human first, always.

    Art is a sculpture in a gallery. A painting in a gallery. Note that for these artistic *objects*, even if you don’t touch the sculpture (which many galleries will prevent you from doing), your regarding them is still regarding an object.

    …but that’s OK because art in a gallery is not a conscious, thinking, feeling thing. A human being is.

    But we can’t divorce all actions from actual biological components of attraction. I’ll tell you what group is teeming with rape culture: monkeys! They’ve got it all. They are very aggressive, engage in prostitution (!), and publicly masturbate.

    And human beings are exactly like monkeys, of course. There is no way that we differ socially or biologically, and as a result, no way to expect anything “more”. I will commence to fling poo.

    I really don’t think it’s engaging in Oppression Olympics to say that MG’s behavior has nothing to do with rape culture. Feeling physical attraction is normal. Some amount of going out of your way to see people you find physically attractive is normal. Where does looking end and leering begin?

    The reason you don’t consider it oppression olympics is because you don’t consider it an oppressive activity to begin with. And if you can’t imagine situations where “looking but not touching” could still be oppressive (even without physical touch), then I don’t think I can really tell you what “saltiness” is like…But as for the difference between looking and leering…

    1) MG himself suspects he is being creepy. But even if he didn’t (and I think a lot of people are clueless)…

    2) There are people in this thread who find his behaviors creepy.

    I love the Dobler-Dahmer theory video you posted in the next comment. Because really, how something is received by another person is critical. Because the subject-object distinction really is about paying attention to what the subject feels (or ignoring this…because objects *don’t* feel).

    I don’t know about you, but I read articles frequently about people who talk about finding men do what Male Gaze is doing to them…and they talk about it because they find it uncomfortable and unwelcoming. It does not matter to them that the dude did not “approach them,” “yell out” or try to talk to them.

    It is certainly possible that for *you*, this isn’t leering. but from you, we can’t say that it isn’t leering for *anyone*, and we can’t say then that this is a generalized “OK” activity, and if someone finds it not OK, then they are just oversensitive (or whatever).

    He also said: “you really wanted to impress a 30-something year old woman, but you’re really self-conscious” He could be trying to impress someone only toward his own ends, or because he wants to make a human connection, and he’s lonely and socially inept.

    I do not have any problem with this part of the post, btw. The thing I would say is you’re probably not going to impress someone by going out of your way and looking at them. Even if you don’t find this creepy or whatever, I would imagine that if you were similarly situated, you could probably think of other behavior that would go much further for a guy to impress you. BUt maybe I’m presuming too much.

    I’m glad to know you’re not giving me a pass. If you’re going to indict Male Gaze for objectification, I’m equally guilty. Probably more guilty as my scenario wasn’t fictionalized. However, I’d rather live in a world where we don’t have to create so many artificial boundaries between people to ascertain motives and consent in the early stages of flirtation.

    If you mean here that you’d rather live in a world where there aren’t boundaries *from* ascertaining motives and consent, I agree…we need to talk about ways to ascertain motives and consent so that these are smoother processes.

    But if you mean that you’d rather live in a world where there aren’t boundaries *because of* the need to ascertain motives and consent, then I disagree.

    Getting back to Dobbler/Dahmer: I think that paying attention to the recipient’s reaction is critical…because it shows that you care about them as a subject who feels and thinks rather than as an object of affection.

    But if I might suggest something: if a “sweeping romantic gesture” is so hit-or-miss (and it definitely is) and if gauging interest level is so difficult in the early stages of a relationship…then maybe one should save said gestures for after the early stages of a relationship.

    I mean, this shouldn’t be rocket science. There are many cases where we might have jokes we might tell or pranks we might pull on someone *because we know them well enough to know they’ll appreciate it*, and we restrain from telling these jokes or pulling those pranks on others we don’t know as well. We characteristically change our behavior for our close group of friends vs. our coworkers vs. acquaintances we don’t know very well.

    Now, to complicate things up, I want to discuss a potential problem here:

    http://de-sueification.blogspot.com/2013_02_01_archive.html

    So, one issue with the Dobler/Dahmer Theory is that people are socialized to regard attention on them (even if it’s unwanted) as complimentary. And in many cases, “sweeping romantic gestures” put someone in a situation where someone will lose a lot of face if someone says no.

    For example, a while back, there was a Facebook meme going around of this really elaborate wedding proposal…the problem was, the proposal was extremely public, and for the woman to have said no would be extremely embarrassing and painful for the guy. So, there was a lot of implications of guilting around that proposal.

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  87. LDS Anarchist on April 6, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Other feminists contest feminist claims about the objectification of women. Camille Paglia holds that “Turning people into sex objects is one of the specialties of our species.” In her view, objectification is closely tied to (and may even be identical with) the highest human faculties toward conceptualization and aesthetics. Individualist feminist Wendy McElroy holds that the label “sex object” means nothing because inanimate objects are not sexual. She continues that women are their bodies as well as their minds and souls.

    From the “Views on sexual objectification” section of the “Sexual objectification” entry of Wikipedia.

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  88. LDS Anarchist on April 6, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Andrew S. #86 wrote:

    People are *not* art.

    Again, from the Wikipedia, “Aesthetics and the philosophy of art” section of the “Aesthetics” entry:

    What is “art”?

    How best to define the term “art” is a subject of constant contention; many books and journal articles have been published arguing over even the basics of what we mean by the term “art”. Theodor Adorno claimed in 1969 “It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident.” Artists, philosophers, anthropologists, psychologists and programmers all use the notion of art in their respective fields, and give it operational definitions that vary considerably. Furthermore, it is clear that even the basic meaning of the term “art” has changed several times over the centuries, and has continued to evolve during the 20th century as well.

    Perhaps (as in Kennick’s theory) no definition of art is possible anymore.

    Leo Tolstoy…claims that what decides whether or not something is art is how it is experienced by its audience, not by the intention of its creator. Functionalists like Monroe Beardsley argue that whether or not a piece counts as art depends on what function it plays in a particular context; the same Greek vase may play a non-artistic function in one context (carrying wine), and an artistic function in another context (helping us to appreciate the beauty of the human figure).

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  89. Andrew S. on April 6, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    re 87,

    LDS Anarchist,

    Camille Paglia and Wendy McElroy are sex positive feminists, so these are expected criticisms here.

    I want to point out that feminists are not all the same — there are several kinds (and they don’t always go along with each other). Surprise: unprivileged groups are not monolithic!

    And for whatever it’s worth, if I contrast, say, sex positive feminists with, say, anti-porn feminists, I can see points on both sides. But really, where I see sex-positive feminists as making the major disagreement is that the sex-positive feminists are still going to insist upon consent, non-exploitation, etc.,

    I’ll use an example from an earlier comment of mine:

    I want to go back to something Carrie said in the post:

    They are art. You are allowed to appreciate art.

    ^This is precisely objectification. People are *not* art. They are human beings. People. Now, if I am a dancer who is performing a dance, then perhaps we can start talking about appreciating my art. But I am a person. Are we human, or are we dancer? Well, we are human first, always.

    When I brought up the dancer, that made me think. The dancer is “objectified” as living art, but the dancer *consents* to this. That is the role of dance. Similarly, body building, modeling, etc., etc.,

    This of course relates well with the wikipedia article, since it directly makes the tie to conceptualization and aesthetics.

    The question I would have is how much of this is made in a completely non-exploitative environment???

    And the question for Male Gaze or any person is — is a random woman walking down the street consenting to being looked at in the same way a model walking down a runway?

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  90. Andrew S. on April 6, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    re 88,

    LDS Anarchist,

    Glad you noticed that part, lol.

    Here is something I would point out from your wikipedia quotes:

    Leo Tolstoy…claims that what decides whether or not something is art is how it is experienced by its audience, not by the intention of its creator.

    ^this is a question of criticism (in literature it maps to something like “reader response theory”). But I want to point something out…if we privilege the experience of an audience over the intention of the ‘creator’, that does a violence to the creator. The woman who does not mean to be viewed as art, but who is viewed as art anyway — that is the objectification we speak of. You no longer care about what the woman thinks because you privilege your own response.

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  91. LDS Anarchist on April 6, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    I wonder whether the body builder, or really anyone who attempts to improve the look of their own bodies through dietary means, exercise, the choice of clothing, etc., would not consider the result they achieve as “living art.”

    We are all given more or less the same body set, two arms, legs, etc., and the look will be unique for each one through no doing of our own, just simple genetics and life experiences (luck and unluckiness), but then a person’s individuality takes the human body they’ve been given and changes its look to appear more or less beautiful, or moves it in a certain way to make it more appealing, etc. For instance, some of what we wear is merely functional, but other things are adornment, to look more beautiful, to create a living, breathing, moving art form.

    Take away the adornment and the beautiful clothing and set it aside and these objects don’t have the same appeal as adorned over a properly fitted human body.

    Human dress alone shows that objectification is natural and normal for all humans. We self-objectify all the time. Even the most primitive humans adorn themselves to be more attractive. This isn’t just a matter of personal preference (“I wear this only because I like it or because it makes me feel good or prettier”), but also because there is a real need to have others find us appealing. Any married man or father of children (such as myself) knows this to be true. Not a day goes by that the question, “Does this look okay on me?” isn’t asked.

    So, there is a duality to human nature: what we like plays a part and also what others like. Everyone who goes outside and is within the gaze of others wants to be found attractive in their eyes. They want to be noticed as “standing out in the crowd” in a good way, because of their handsomeness, not ugliness. Of course, the spy, the person on the run, etc., are exceptions to this general rule.

    Now, for your question, Andrew:

    Is a random woman walking down the street consenting to being looked at in the same way a model walking down a runway?

    The answer is, “Yes.” The instant you voluntarily enter a public place, you give everyone consent to stare at you. If you don’t want people looking at you while in a public place, drape a sheet over you. They will still look, but it won’t bother you then.

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  92. LDS Anarchist on April 6, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    But I want to point something out…if we privilege the experience of an audience over the intention of the ‘creator’, that does a violence to the creator. The woman who does not mean to be viewed as art, but who is viewed as art anyway — that is the objectification we speak of. You no longer care about what the woman thinks because you privilege your own response.

    Objectification is a normal human response, Andrew. It is human nature. Feminists might not like that nature, and may be trying to change it, but the evidence of all of known history shows that objectification is a very human thing, found in all cultures, regardless of primitiveness or civilization.

    If a woman does not want to be seen as art but goes outside and becomes upset because people view her as art, she is essentially asking humans not to be humans.

    It’s like that story about the frog who is asked by a venomous snake to carry him across a river. The frog consents, thinking he’ll win brownie points with the snake. After he swims across the river with the snake on his back, the snake bites him. The dying frog asks him, “Why did you do that? I helped you across!” And the snake answers, “Yeah, but I’m a snake and you know what my nature was.”

    In like manner, all men and women who expect humans to change their nature, bending them to their preferences, are asking the improbable and should not be surprised when they still get viewed as art. The problem doesn’t lie with the masses, but with the individual who expects snakes to act like frogs.

    It is true that it is wrong for the rights of the many to infringe upon the rights of one, but it is a two-way street. It is also wrong for the rights of the one to infringe on the rights of the many.

    In a public environment, everyone is on display as a runway model. That is the nature of our existence here.

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  93. FireTag on April 6, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Andrew S.:

    I do think you are wandering into a circular argument here if you require people to make the assumption that females do not want to be looked at unless they give “informed consent”. When society requires “informed consent” for an action, they are expressing an “informed” judgement that the action is socially harmful without the allowed exception.

    I would not say that a random woman walking down the street wants to be looked at in the same way as a model walking down the runway. I would say it depends more on whom she thinks is doing the looking — which is why women in societies where women are LESS oppressed tend to focus more on being attractive to potential partners, and women in MORE oppressive societies tend to wear sheets. In both societies, the woman is trying to do what evolution has taught her — maximize the chance of attracting desirable partners without attracting too many undesirable partners (or, in the latter society, rage from an existing partner or guardian).

    The standard you are proposing of “no watching without informed consent” is significantly stricter than sexual harassment standards in the professional workplace, and both male and female executives are more likely than not to pick clothing that heightens their sexual attractiveness.

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  94. Andrew S. on April 6, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    re 91,

    LDSA,

    You say:

    then a person’s individuality takes the human body they’ve been given and changes its look to appear more or less beautiful, or moves it in a certain way to make it more appealing, etc. For instance, some of what we wear is merely functional, but other things are adornment, to look more beautiful, to create a living, breathing, moving art form.

    Emphasis added. A person’s individuality. The person’s individuality matters. That is the important part. If you strip the person’s individuality and subjectivity and focus on the appearance, that is the problem. If, however, you recognize that appearance comes from an individuality (and as a result, that individuality may have different purposes for said appearance), then you will be attuned to what the person themselves might think.

    We self-objectify all the time. Even the most primitive humans adorn themselves to be more attractive.

    One thing that would be a good point for conversation is that objectification first socializes us to self-objectify — so to the extent that objectification is the problem, self-objectification doesn’t negate this, but shows how people fall in with the problem.

    (In other words, social science research shows that women’s appearance affects how men perceive their competence. The fact, then, that many women will pay close attention to their appearance [especially to be perceived as more competent professionally or in any other non-aesthetic realm], speaks to someone trying to work in an existing social system. It does not validate that social system.)

    Is a random woman walking down the street consenting to being looked at in the same way a model walking down a runway?

    The answer is, “Yes.” The instant you voluntarily enter a public place, you give everyone consent to stare at you. If you don’t want people looking at you while in a public place, drape a sheet over you. They will still look, but it won’t bother you then.

    Likewise, if women don’t want to be approached and assaulted, they should wear ugly, off-putting clothes not to give the impression that they actually wanted to be assaulted. Because I mean, really, in the same way that there is no relevant contextual difference between a model going down a runway and a woman walking down the street when it comes to looking, there is no contextual difference between a prostitute walking in a red light district and a woman walking home.

    I mean, I guess she’ll say no if she really doesn’t want it, RIGHT?

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  95. Andrew S. on April 6, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    re 93,

    Fire Tag,

    I do think you are wandering into a circular argument here if you require people to make the assumption that females do not want to be looked at unless they give “informed consent”. When society requires “informed consent” for an action, they are expressing an “informed” judgement that the action is socially harmful without the allowed exception.

    I don’t think so. After all, the question is that the harmfulness is ambiguous (because we don’t know if the woman in question wants to be looked at in that way or not). The assumption is not that the behavior will be harmful, but that we want to tread on the safe side and avoid any accidental harm. In other words, we would rather not creep out someone (who in fact would not have actually found the behavior creepy) than to creep out someone because we falsely guessed they would not find it creepy.

    If that assumption is false, then please correct me…but if it’s false, then I will suggest that’s pretty insensitive.

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  96. FireTag on April 6, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Andrew:

    “The assumption is not that the behavior will be harmful, but that we want to tread on the safe side and avoid any accidental harm.”

    Nope. That is precisely WHAT makes it a circular argument. Avoiding any accidental harm in the case of ambiguity expresses a judgement that a segment of modern Western feminism WISHES society to make, but that SOCIETY HAS NOT MADE. Indeed, evolution has consistently pulled humanity toward a more “risky” strategy. Healthy sex would imply that fantasy is a “fitting” (in a very evolutionary sense) response to ambiguity, and that one advances or puts the brakes on AFTER ambiguity starts to give way to “yes” or “no”.

    If you think this is insensitive, look how the psychs regard voyeurism (which is the most common fetish) and other fetishes:

    http://www.livescience.com/28382-sexual-fetishes-kinks-dsm.html

    Reproduction always has collateral damage. Salmon would be better off if they didn’t swim upstream and expose themselves to bears, but only for one generation. What’s best for society as a whole seldom will be best for EVERY individual. Accepting that “no” means “no” but “no interaction” means “no answer” is a better principle for protecting both society and individuals, IMO.

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  97. Jeff Spector on April 6, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    I guess I am left wondering what Andrew’s real issue is here and why he is debating so hard. Even the hard core fems have given up.

    what is really going on? It seems that in the extreme we can turn every thought, word and action into a crime against humanity.

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  98. Andrew S. on April 6, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    If we are talking about what is best for society in an evolutionary sense of what best continues the species or whatever (which your salmon analogy and “risky” evolution strategy), then we could go further.

    For example, women being uneducated, dependent on men, in the home, would be much better for “society as a whole” — especially because we’re discounting the views and perspectives of those women in the process, you know, so much easier to make that judgment when at best we call them “individuals” rather than recognizing that society cannot be defined without individuals. It would be better because we know that as soon as women are educated, they become independent, and when they are independent, this leads to a number of social changes that drive total fertility rates down.

    Which, you know…great for one generation, but only for one generation, basically.

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  99. Andrew S. on April 6, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    re 97,

    Jeff,

    I guess I am left wondering what Andrew’s real issue is here and why he is debating so hard. Even the hard core fems have given up.

    Well, to be honest, I came to the conversation late.

    …We could just say that I’m a glutton for punishment. Trying to be the lone dissident crying out against an insane world that instead thinks that I’m insane. And at the end of the day the stone will be up the hill, and even though I know that the stone will roll back down hill, I cannot do anything but return to the bottom of the hill to move it back up, because I am fatalistically tied to my sisyphean plight, forever.

    NAW J/K, BRO. I’m going to stop commenting as well.

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  100. FireTag on April 6, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Andrew:

    “For example, women being uneducated, dependent on men, in the home, would be much better for “society as a whole”.

    Straw woman argument. In what civilization do we see evidence that such societies are better off as a whole? The societies that restrict the education and opportunities of half their populations are lagging behind the rest of the planet and threatening to pull the rest of us down through the chaos they are spreading. (The only thing worse than restricting half your population is restricting almost all of them, but that’s a separate topic. :D )

    Overpopulation for your resource base isn’t a great evolutionary strategy either, though it may take two or three generations to produce the collapse instead of just one.

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  101. LDS Anarchist on April 6, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Straw woman argument.

    Lol.

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  102. JRSG on April 6, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    Would married men have any objections if their wives went out of their way to look at hot guys? And would it be alright if the wives enjoyed the attention and interest the hot guys showed them?
    @ Katie L : you are right
    In the Latin culture men whistle at women and ogle them and it is acceptable, and the married men can have affairs, but the women can not do the same. (I grew up in a town of 98% Hispanics and served a Latin mission)
    An awful thing happened to my daughter by 3 boys at a church function, which showed me that males are not taught to respect females (parent’s fault) and the church does not do a good job of it either, because of the leaders response.
    Maybe you should get a divorce Male Gaze.

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  103. FireTag on April 7, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    JRSG:

    The OVERT gestures you describe in Latin culture would be considered over the line, I think, by every one who has been engaging in the debate here. The ogling must be overt (or at least overtly bragged about) to function in its actually intended role. The POINT of the exercise is to exert dominance over a subordinate class and to shore up support in the dominant class for maintaining dominance by suppressing their empathy for the subordinate class. And how can the subordinate class be subordinate unless they are made to KNOW they’re subordinate?

    In this regard, overt actions are not about sexual attraction, but ONLY about power. They are no different in nature from dominance motivated by race, religion, class, party, economic interest, ethnicity, or school clique.

    What some of us ARE saying is that the point to draw any boundary between rape-culture and not-rape-culture is what happens when things go from hidden desire to opportunity for action. A culture that says it is teaching respect when it is only suppressing desire ends up with a lot of rape, just as it would if it actively encouraged rape. Desire is supposed to lead to healthy sexual relationships, and requires consent as soon as the second party knows a relationship is sought by the first.

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  104. Douglas on April 8, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    The age differential “rule” of 13 or more is “creepy” territory doesn’t hold up as you get older. And yes, since having been ‘paroled’ from my prior marriage, I have dated women whom I ‘conceivably’ could have sired (LoL). However, at my age (54), and five kids, I’m done with that part, so if my date wants to run on the “Mommy Track” some more, she’d better look elsewhere.

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  105. LDS Anarchist on April 8, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Personally, I view age 20 as the year of “full” maturity, brain as well as body. (Obviously, this does not take into account a woman’s body, which doesn’t reach full maturity until she gives birth and starts nursing.) So, age 20 and older is fair game in my book for anyone else who is age 20 and older. Consenting adults shouldn’t be constrained by the age of another consenting adult.

    In the case of those younger than age 20, as they are still children (mentally, if nothing more), my feeling is that the same protocols the early saints used with polygamy should apply, namely, you can marry someone as young as the law allows, and in some states that is as young as age 14, but sexual relations shouldn’t take place until they have physically matured. The early saints typically put that around age 18. (Also, sometimes they would marry and leave the child with her parents until they were older, then come back for their bride. If, when they were older, they no longer desired to be married to the man, they didn’t have to go.) Personally, though, I would still rather use the 20th birthday as the standard.

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  106. Rill rill on May 30, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    May I say, out loud, the sexual tension between you in this blog is palpable. Make haste to thy nearest bedroom and get thy hump on.

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