Okay, your thoughts?


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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12 Responses

  1. Avatar McDevite says:

    While it’s all well and good to invoke libertarian handwringing over this and find your way to the smelling salts, or clutching your pearls over the invasion of what you view to be a right–privacy–the government is not doing the invading, making this not “Big Sister 2.0” and abusing “1984” every time you want to head for the fainting couch drains the text of meaning, rather than making your point stronger.

    What is in fact going on here is the creation of an tool to (perhaps effectively?) pushback against the invasion of privacy by the harrasser on the woman who may now have an iPhone and a deterrent against negative social behavior–or cause an escalation.

    To imagine otherwise is to have no understanding of feminism or what freedom actually means. It’s ludicrous to imagine that some asshole who’s invaded someone else’s privacy, effectively the same violation of public and private space as public urination, should have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    It’s yet another end of white/male privilege that’s enjoying a death by a thousand cuts. This post proves , once again, that libertarianism is great only as long as it’s always your liberty assaulted, not someone else’s, and a form of privilege-indulging crap shot through with “fuck off and die, I’ve got mine.”Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      @McDevite, Tell you what: I’ll change the post title to something less provocative, if you’ll understand that I’m trying to get a discussion going here and not make the point that public urinators have a great right to privacy.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        @Rufus F., Now, let me ask you a question- okay, when they come out with the application for homophobic straight boys who think that every gay person they meet is hitting on them, will that be problematic? How about iMinutemen, for people who think the Hispanic guy down the block must be “an illegal”? I mean, because surveillance is an unproblematic solution to social problems, apparently.

        The thing is my feelings on this have nothing to do with the groups involved (although, really? It’s just white men that harass women on the street?). What I’m asking is whether this problem should be solved by surveillance, or if we’re not using surveillance and databases as the hammer that makes every problem look like a nail. And, more importantly, isn’t it possible that this application is going to run the risk of making people feel safer than they actually are?

        I take your point about the title- I was trying to be provocative because otherwise the post, and actually my feelings on the topic, is fairly ambivalent. I’m fine with public shaming. I’m not convinced that creating a database or encouraging people to confront dangerous strangers because the internet has their back is the way to address this problem.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          @Rufus F., Two other points: I’m about 20% liberal, 20% conservative, and 30% libertarian. You might want to discuss your issues with libertarians with some of the actual libertarians here.

          2. I really do want to push back against the idea that this is a simple matter of “white male privilege”. I grew up in a part of the country where, not too many decades previously, it was a white female privilege to report the unwanted sexual advances (real or imagined) of black men to the larger community, who would deal with the supposed harassers by something like death by a thousand cuts. Okay? So please spare me the stuff about this is an unambiguous matter of the long oppressed striking a blow against their white male oppressors. You know as well as I do that the authorities who will be called on these iPhone reports are likely going to be quicker to arrest some harassers than others, and the drunk, Yuppie white dude is not going to be the first one hauled in.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Farmer says:

    Once you begin overloading the authorities with people staring , or whistling, or making stupid comments, you make it likely that real cases will start being overlooked — the girl who cried wolf. The strong women I know handle this with toughness, biting humor or just a middle finger. Plus, now that women have become more agressive, I hear more comments from women now about great asses and such. Another thing is — how often does this happen? I hardly ever witness this type of behavior. The author should have come up with a more serios use of the app, if she wanted to make a good case for it. I wonder what kind of legal case a person would have against an accuser who was mistaken about a stare or comment and the accused loses his job or all a sudden is facing divorce?Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      @Mike Farmer, Well, it depends on where you live I think. In cities, people feel more anonymous and you hear more of it. And something we’ve not touched on is that harassment isn’t just something that happens to women- I’ve been screamed at, attacked, ridiculed, had things thrown at me, and been mugged before. It was never explicitly sexual, although it was quite often about me looking like a “faggot” because of my hair or clothes. In defense of the article, most women I know have been harassed more than I have.

      I found the article hard to get behind partly because she was clear that this application is, in fact, a tool to encourage law enforcement to take more decisive action- (and, incidentally, I don’t buy the idea that “the government is not doing the invading” just because citizens are calling for them to. The average cop wouldn’t arrest anyone, if he had his way.) The other thing about the article is that she says this will encourage cops to prosecute this crime, and then her example is a man staring at her across a train station. She doesn’t specify what they should do: ask the guy to stop staring? Keep an eye on him? Put him in a database for the general public to access? Haul him in for not averting his eyes?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        @Rufus F.,

        The other thing about the article is that she says this will encourage cops to prosecute this crime, and then her example is a man staring at her across a train station.

        The incident she begins by describing, while invasive, vile, and degrading, isn’t, I think, a violation of any law. A cop could, at most, use his extrajudicial authority to say “Look, that’s not how you talk to a lady. I want to see an apology. Now.” And that’s quite unlikely unless the cop witnessed the event himself, rather than having to unravel he-said she-said stories afterward. (“Honest, officer, I saw she was crying and asked if I could do anything to help. What kind of city is this where you can’t try to be friendly to people?”) And as Rufus points out above, a woman with an accent complaining about a well-spoken white man wearing a suit might as well not bother.Report

  3. I must be missing something here. When did street harassment — wolf whistles, crude propositions, rude observations about a woman’s body, things like that — become a crime? To be sure, this is contrary to anything resembling good manners and civilized conduct. But the appropriate response to something like that is to deploy shame, not the coercive power of the state.Report

    • Avatar Rufus says:

      @Transplanted Lawyer, And that’s why I’m fond of the website. If you’re harassing someone in a public place, you don’t have a reasonable expectation that they won’t photograph you and make use of your image however they see fit, and I think that public shaming is a reasonable response.

      But a group of people who are of the economic bracket that can afford a damn iPhone (I can’t), and likely white, college-educated, urban hipsters compiling a database of places that they feel uncomfortable and unsafe in order to pressure the police to increase their presence in those areas? How is there not a class issue there? Seriously.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        @Rufus, I mentioned in the comments at Feministe that no smartphone would be required if people could just text (or e-mail) the information to some known location. I was assured that this is already possible. So the same service is available (presumably with a bit more effort, since there’s no app to guide you through the process) to anyone with a camera phone.Report