[POLL] Slutwalk

post by magfrump · 2011-05-08T07:00:38.842Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 42 comments

I recently heard about the upcoming event (or set of events) Slutwalk.  I realize that this is somewhat political and may have some mind-killing effects, but my main interest is in the Less Wrong reaction to the idea.  From the wikipedia page[1]:

The "Toronto Slut Walk" refers to a protest held on April 3, 2011 in Toronto. Protesters walked from Queen's Park (Toronto) to the Toronto Police Headquarters located on Central Street [1]. These protesters were dressed in revealing clothing and holding signs in order to reject the belief that female rape victims are "asking for it"[2]. They marched in response to remarks made by a Toronto police officer and judge. Women are also organizing other "slut walks" around Canada and the United States[3][4], including one scheduled for August 20th, 2011 in New York City[5].

Before continuing to read, please answer the poll below as to how you feel about the idea of the "Slutwalk."

 

I have many friends who are involved with the Slutwalk and my first impression is that it is a good idea; that framing and terminology, if not a strong part of policy decisions, can have large effects on personal wellbeing.  Also that while dressing more modestly may have some effect on sexual assault, having an authority put any onus of a crime on a victim harshly reduces the disincentive for perpetrators.

On the other hand, I have been known to be clueless before in matters of activism, and I recall that Robin Hanson has made cutting remarks about protest being about attracting mates and making a show of identifying with groups, and this certainly seems like it could fit that description to a T.  So I am curious what others' reactions are.

This is a political issue, and we all know politics is the mind-killer, so I would mostly like to see what people think of this idea; specifically whether it is controversial, heavily supported, or heavily disapproved of.

I will attempt to reformat if I can figure out how to work the formatting.

EDIT: Rephrased poll options and removed references to clusters, at popular request.

References:

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_Slutwalk

42 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by jimrandomh · 2011-05-08T14:09:57.641Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When someone tries to get me outraged over something, I do quick distance and magnitude checks. In another country, involving people I've never heard of, involving low-level government officials doing something less bad than murder, which I couldn't plausibly affect in any way? Caring would be a mistake; if my outrage threshold were that low, I'd never do anything but fume.

Replies from: komponisto
comment by komponisto · 2011-05-08T14:53:45.789Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Caring would be a mistake; if my outrage threshold were that low, I'd never do anything but fume.

Naturally, this reasoning doesn't apply if you're capable of doing other things while fuming.

comment by Clippy · 2011-05-08T22:49:39.072Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't understand the history of this issue and any broader significance it has for humans, but I do have a suggestion: the general idea behind this event is:

  • Bad humans use characteristic X to infer Y, justifying (in their minds, and in rhetoric directed at others) act Z.
  • Most humans regard Z as bad, though differ in what specific acts constitute Z.
  • A group of humans intend to overload the search space with datapoints that satisfy X but not Y, in an attempt to destroy the mutual information between X and Y, and thereby further diminish the ability of the bad humans to justify Z through X.

You should first form your opinion with out know the referents of X, Y, and Z, nor who the activist group and "bad humans" are, and only afterward, decide whether, once you know these items, you support this strategy. The mapping is, of course:

X = female human wearing "slut"-type attire
Y = female human consenting to recreational mating with a male human
Z = rape of a human female by a human male
bad humans = male human rapists
activist group = female humans attempting to destroy the mutual information between X and Y by setting X to true for themselves, yet also making Y obviously false

Or did I misinterpret this situation entirely? Human sociology is still a weak point in my inferential engine.

Replies from: None, Eugine_Nier
comment by [deleted] · 2011-05-09T04:21:37.245Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This event was in response to a police officer advising a group of college students. The subject was safety techniques/ways to avoid danger. The officer recommended that some of the women walking home avoid dressing in a 'slutty' manner, or something similar to that.

The students reacted to this in protest because they thought that the policeman was saying that victims who dressed a certain way were complicit in provoking others to rape them. This is obviously terrible and wrong. Victims should not be blamed for what happened to them.

However, if I were a potential victim I would minimize risk through:

  • Dressing conservatively

  • Walking in a group

  • Having a cell phone

  • Carrying mace, etc.

None of the above carry with them the implication that doing otherwise provokes people into rape, and by so doing makes the rape the victim's 'fault', but doing the above minimizes the chances of a rape occurring.

Why is it wrong to tell people on an individual basis to not dress 'slutty' in order to maximize their personal safety? It doesn't matter about 'fault', only the end result of raped or not-raped. From a consequentialist standpoint, I'm having a hard time being outraged by the policeman's comments. At the same time, I think that a 'slut walk' is a good idea because of the above, but I don't think that it should have occurred as the result of a protest against the comments made by an individual policeman.

[Edited for formatting]

Replies from: Nick_Tarleton, hairyfigment
comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2011-05-09T04:37:20.217Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why is it wrong to tell people on an individual basis to not dress 'slutty' in order to maximize their personal safety?

It sounds similar enough to blame to provoke the same response.

comment by hairyfigment · 2011-05-09T17:38:19.350Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The following uses a layman's grasp of Bob Altemeyer's research and may ignore other relevant psychology.

From what I can tell, then, the greatest risk of rape within a given environment -- indeed the greatest risk of any violence directed against traditionally low-status people -- comes from two groups. The larger of the two tends to think in a relatively rational manner. Members of this group see themselves as maximizing what they perceive as benefit to themselves. The rapists among them judge, often correctly, that they can get away with it. They know a woman who reports rape will, empirically, have to face embarrassing questions and accusations of sluttiness regardless of her behavior. (After the fact one can always find ways that someone might have theoretically avoided rape; other women will tend to look for such ways in order to distinguish themselves from the victim and reduce their own fear and/or increase their own status.) A police officer using the word "slutty" to describe rape victims provides further evidence of this.

The smaller but more violent group resembles the first in certain ways but likes to think of itself as traditionally 'moral'. As you might expect, this group tends to think less rationally. Its members tend to get the poor thinking and self-righteousness of those Altemeyer calls "authoritarian followers" without their tendency to follow the law. They value agreement with the community as a goal in itself (more than others do, I mean). If they think they see authority figures saying that a certain woman has broken the rules and deserves condemnation, they will not hear anything that follows about the woman not deserving X. Or rather, they will think that part applies to other people and not themselves, not the courageous people who need to enforce the rules because nobody else will do it.

We can therefore expect meta-condemnation of traditional bigotry and all that resembles it to reduce 'traditional' violence in general and rape in particular. Now the numbers I found on this topic confuse me, but we do have some evidence of good results from feminists' fabled 'lack of humor'.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2011-05-09T05:13:44.738Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think your analysis is correct. In particular I imagine the protesters' main complaint is people using Y to justify Z rather than the connection between X and Y.

comment by Emile · 2011-05-08T09:27:50.331Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not a big fan of the phrasing of your poll - I'd prefer if it was directly asking about approval / disapproval rather than "positive/rational" versus "negative/irrational"; it's not obvious what "rational" would mean in a context like this, beyond being generally positive in this community.

The"Liberal/Secular/Scientific" and "Libertarian/Atheist/Technophile" phrasing also seems weird to me - is there really a split between "secular" and "atheist", and is it really correlated with politics? Same for "scientific" and "technophile" :P

My general impression from the "Slutwalk" you describe is that it's more about "Yay sluts boo uptight cops and judges" than about actually reducing rape - do many attendees seem to expect a drop in rape incidence as a result of their action? IS your question about whether going "Yay sluts" is a good thing in general (which would seem to be highly function of the current status of sluts in Canadian society, a subject I know very little about), or whether it's an efficient way to reduce rape?

(Edit) Actually, a better framing might be that some judges / cops considered "boo sluts" as a way to reduce rape, and sluts responded to the status attack by going "no, it's not a good way - yay sluts!". Less focus on the status attack and more on alternative ways of reducing rape (A "Sluts With Knives" march?) might have been better.

Replies from: Oscar_Cunningham, wedrifid, magfrump
comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2011-05-08T11:51:01.440Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

do many attendees seem to expect a drop in rape incidence as a result of their action?

I think they expect an increase in convictions of rapists, and thus indirectly a drop in rapes because of the increased deterrent.

(A "Sluts With Knives" march?)

...would have the opposite of the desired effect. It would make it seem like it was the victim's responsibility to defend themselves.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-05-08T10:51:28.365Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The"Liberal/Secular/Scientific" and "Libertarian/Atheist/Technophile" phrasing also seems weird to me - is there really a split between "secular" and "atheist", and is it really correlated with politics? Same for "scientific" and "technophile" :P

I agree, with the 'rational/positive' thing and even more so with this technophile, etc stuff. I don't especially identify with any of those things. I could almost take all of them or none of them.

comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T17:54:16.290Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've changed the phrasing and removed the clusters.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-05-08T15:56:35.248Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with the people who say Liberal/Secular/Scientific vs. Libertarian/Atheist/Technophile is a bad categorization. I identify as all 6.

Replies from: magfrump
comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T17:57:05.065Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've changed the phrasing and removed the clusters.

comment by knb · 2011-05-09T05:03:49.278Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was once heavily involved in the midwest anti-war movement, so I can say this sort of noisy public protest is useful mostly for either fun/socializing or networking.

For the networking aspect, the slutwalk will only be useful if you're pursuing a career in professional feminism. If your career isn't in some specifically left-wing aspect of academia, it may be actively harmful for your career and social life, since in conventional society, affiliating with sluttiness is low-status. More likely, there will be basically no effect, since unless you publicize it, colleagues and friends are unlikely to know.

The fun/socializing aspect must be judged on a person-to-person basis. If you agree with the political perspective, you may enjoy it. But don't be fooled into thinking this is an effective way of getting utilons.

This makes your poll question pointless. Are you asking whether slutwalks are a good way of generating utility? (No.) Are you asking whether participating in slutwalks is a good idea? (This depends on whether you would personally enjoy it, or if it would benefit your career.) Are you asking whether slutwalks will be effective at reducing harassment? (Almost certainly not.)

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2011-05-08T11:35:15.966Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The categorization seems very weird. The word clusters basically sound like you'd be describing the same group in an out-group context, but would either want to frame them in a generally positive and inoffensive or a somewhat suspicious light. I have a hard time seeing this as an actual actionable classification and not a framing trick.

I've got no idea whatsoever if the event is a good idea or not. This whole post seems a bit arbitrary for such a potential comment thread can of worms though.

Replies from: komponisto, magfrump
comment by komponisto · 2011-05-08T15:11:37.404Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The categorization seems very weird. The word clusters basically sound like you'd be describing the same group in an out-group context, but would either want to frame them in a generally positive and inoffensive or a somewhat suspicious light.

Here's what these word-clusters suggest to me:

  • Liberal/Secular/Scientific: age 30-60, works at a university, thinks global warming is a more urgent problem than UFAI.

  • Libertarian/Atheist/Technophile: age 15-30, works as a programmer/reads Less Wrong from parents' basement, thinks UFAI is more urgent than global warming.

...in other words, basically a status classification.

Replies from: Eugine_Nier, Emile, JoshuaZ, wedrifid
comment by Eugine_Nier · 2011-05-08T16:26:49.261Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm guessing magfrump is basing his distinction on this comment by Will Newsome.

Replies from: magfrump
comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T17:56:16.572Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was.

comment by Emile · 2011-05-08T16:08:16.278Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting, those weren't the clusters that came to my mind, which suggests that they're not a great match to the community.

Replies from: komponisto
comment by komponisto · 2011-05-08T20:15:52.809Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Indeed; I don't fit into either of them myself.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-05-08T16:41:25.613Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting. I would think that technophile would if anything be people who aren't worried about UFAI.

Replies from: komponisto
comment by komponisto · 2011-05-08T20:09:10.485Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In this context the point is more that they consider near-term AGI to be plausible.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-05-08T15:17:04.860Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

...in other words, basically a status classification.

The bit about UFAI vs global warming is rather significant beyond status.

Replies from: komponisto
comment by komponisto · 2011-05-08T15:35:23.489Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes; it would be very nice if the status of beliefs were perfectly correlated with their accuracy.

comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T17:55:51.076Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've changed the phrasing and removed the clusters.

It didn't even occur to me as a status classification; although reading through comments makes your perspective obvious.

comment by Mercy · 2011-05-09T16:08:31.193Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Most demo organisers I know are quite upfront about the fact that they a tool for recruitment and networking rather than PR . They don't use those terms obviously but criticise groups like Stop the War which don't have a clear strategy beyond the protest, and focus on speeches more than route when police interference isn't an issue. Anti-fascist counter-protests are the only example I can think of where putting boots on the ground is the point.

Take back the night style events like this are a pretty good example of the form: the point isn't to convince people who wouldn't attend of the campaign's views but to drag in as many wavering fence sitters as possible (hence why they are so big on campuses) and give them a big confidence boost in their beliefs. The main effect on framing is probably from the attendees going on to express those views in their personal life, rather than from the media coverage of the protest.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-05-08T10:27:55.220Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

These protesters were dressed in revealing clothing and holding signs in order to reject the belief that female rape victims are "asking for it"

From the image search "Revealing clothing" seems to be an overstatement. Perhaps it is the selection effect on the personalities most engaged with this sort of issue but the average level of dress is less revealing than what I'd expect to see on the street on a warm day.

Replies from: magfrump
comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T17:46:15.013Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

on a warm day

The first one was in Toronto.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2011-05-08T17:51:50.718Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The first one was in Toronto.

An unfamiliar foreign place.

Replies from: magfrump
comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T17:57:52.739Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well it is in Canada, which has a reputation (at least in my mind) as being cold.

Replies from: endoself
comment by endoself · 2011-05-08T21:25:19.064Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Toronto can be quite hot in the summer.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-05-08T10:22:39.969Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't see why I have to limit my approval to such categories as 'rational' and 'irrational'. I doubt it has much effect on the direct cause either way but it sounds like fun to participate in or watch. And hey, the participants get to go around dressing provocatively and feel morally virtuous for doing so. That's a rare opportunity to flip the script on a self limiting belief.

comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T07:01:25.041Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Poll options thread

Replies from: magfrump, magfrump, magfrump, jsalvatier, magfrump
comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T07:01:57.998Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

POLL OPTION: Upvote if you think a slutwalk is a good idea (i.e. would participate in a local slutwalk)

Replies from: magfrump, magfrump
comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T07:03:04.226Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Subpoll: if you identify as "liberal/secular/scientific" upvote this comment, and downvote the other.

comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T07:03:43.054Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Subpoll: if you identify as "libertarian/atheist/technophile" upvote this comment, and downvote the other.

comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T07:02:16.763Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

POLL OPTION: Upvote if you think the slutwalk is a bad idea (i.e. would advise a friend not to participate in a local slutwalk)

Replies from: magfrump, magfrump
comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T07:03:37.652Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Subpoll: if you identify as "libertarian/atheist/technophile" upvote this comment, and downvote the other.

comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T07:03:08.338Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Subpoll: if you identify as "liberal/secular/scientific" upvote this comment, and downvote the other.

comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T17:50:52.325Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

NEW POLL OPTION: Upvote if you couldn't care less either way.

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-05-08T15:54:08.844Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

why no option for 'no strong feelings'?

comment by magfrump · 2011-05-08T07:02:21.759Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Karma balance