Sunday, June 25, 2017


Martinus Rørbye, Scene Near Sorrento Overlooking the Sea, 1835.
(Source: Nivaagaard Collection)


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gagbait

I don't know if this is worth a post, but a tweet by Lauren Duca gave me pause just now.


It's especially the reaction that made me think. At the time I'm writing this it's only five hours old. It has almost 600 retweets, over 3000 likes, and 162 responses, many of them echoing Duca's visceral reaction. But very few people (including Duca herself) seem to be reacting to anything but the headline. Indeed, Duca's original tweet doesn't even include a link to the story in Slate. The headline is of course already clickbait. But Duca's tweet isn't linking to the story. Her tweet is merely offering what I guess can be called likebait.

Some of the people responding don't seem to even get the primary meaning of the headline, rolling their eyes at the idea of asking men whether women like being harassed. That question is obviously not an attempt to figure out if women like being harassed. It's presented, in the headline, as a survey of men's attitudes about harassment.

But that's actually a misrepresentation.

First of all, it's a survey of four countries in the Middle East. The people who are feeling sick (or, like Duca, cancerous) about this do well to keep that in mind. This is not a survey of Western males. Moreover, it's not just a survey of men. "In Morocco, for instance, 71 percent of men said women enjoyed sexual harassment, but only 42 percent of women agreed. Only 20 percent of Egyptian women said women enjoyed harassment, but 43 percent of men said they did."

Let's reflect on what this really means and what an accurate headline should have said. Notice that as many women in Morocco as men in Egypt think that women like being harassed. While (not surprisingly) more men think women like it than women do, none of these numbers are absolute. Some women say they like it and some women say they don't. Some men think women like it and some men think they don't. Let's imagine the headline:

DO WOMEN LIKE BEING SEXUALLY HARASSED?
MEN AND WOMEN IN NEW SURVEY SAY YES.

Like I say, I don't really think this deserved a post. It tells us mainly about the lack of nuance in social media on issues of any importance. This survey showed something completely unsurprising: most men who cat call do it for fun and a significant amount of them assume the women also think it's fun. Not only does that suggest that their perhaps misguided hearts are sometimes in the right place, it turns out that they aren't completely mistaken. Some women actually do enjoy the attention.

But, strip all the nuance out of this, banish it completely from the lawn of excluded middle, and Western liberals can have a collective catharsis of the gag reflex.


I imagine they sort of like the feeling.