Current Events

When Creating Safe Spaces Is Misogyny

Recently, some students at Brown University brought Wendy McElroy to campus. McElroy disputes the commonly cited claim that 1 in 5 college women will be victims of rape or sexual assault. In response, an undergraduate student, with support from various administrators and some faculty, created a “safe space” on campus. According to a New York Times Op-Ed:

The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume McElroy is wrong, and the numbers she criticizes are right. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that she’s a crackpot with no epistemic authority on this matter. Even if so, I submit that responding to her talk by creating a “safe space” with coloring books, bubbles, and videos is misogyny. (And misandry, since men can be raped too.) It’s treating women (and men) as pathetic wilting flowers who cannot handle debate about controversial statistics. Read Nietzsche on pity: when you pity someone like this, you degrade that person.

Imagine Georgetown’s campus Republicans hosted a speaker who claimed that the number of children born to poor single moms is decreasing. Now suppose one of my colleagues approached me and said, “Jay, I know that you were born to a poor single mom. I don’t want you to feel like your own experience is being invalidated, so I put some tinker toys and bunny videos in my office. Feel free to hang out there while the big scary speakers are speaking.” I wouldn’t feel supported by my colleague, but insulted, and rightly so. My colleague might care about me, but at the same time, she is expressing (whether she intends to or not) that I am a pathetic weakling, who is bad at reasoning, who is traumatized by discussions of demographic statistics.

To say that debating this statistics is to “invalidate people’s experiences” is absurd. Suppose you’ve were mugged in New York City. Now you attend a debate in which two speakers argue about the incidence of muggings in the United States. One person believes the incidence is high and getting higher; the other believes the incidence is relatively low and getting lower. Neither one of them thereby confirms, validates, or invalidates your experience. If I say, “I think the number of muggings is going down,” I take no stance on whether you were mugged or not. If I say, “Bullying in elementary schools is less common than you think,” I don’t thereby deny you were bullied in elementary school. If McElroy says, “It’s not true that 1 in 5 women will be raped in the US, or that 1 in 5 college women will face sexual assault of some form,” she doesn’t thereby deny that you, an actual victim, were not a victim. Frankly, that’s an absurd inference. Further, it’s bizarre that people would engage in motivated reasoning over this. If you were raped, wouldn’t you at least find some consolation in learning that rape is becoming less common, or that it’s less common than you thought? Why would you want to believe that rape is common or prevalent?

Some of the people who support creating such “safe spaces” consider themselves feminists, but I regard them as bad or corrupted feminists at best. Brian Leiter has been calling the current campus culture the New Infantilism. I think it’s an apt term. We’re treating college students as if they were  infants who must be protected, and, worse, we’re making them more like infants in virtue of treating them as such. However caring this behavior might be, it’s not respectful.

The real solution is a two tier university system, one for adults, and one for infants.

  • Jon Herington

    It’s hard to see to see how a libertarian could claim that setting up a service for students to utilise (or not) is disrespectful of those students. No one forced the students to attend the “safe space”, and so this carping about the alleged “disrespect” implied in proffering an option sounds suspiciously perfectionist. There may be many rape survivors who are rugged individualists (& thus think safe spaces are infantile), but I’d wager that there are at least as many who prefer to participate in a community of mutual care (at least some of the time). You seem to think that merely being mistaken as the latter kind of person is disrespectful. But isn’t it much more disrespectful to declare the preferences of such people as unworthy of respect? Whatever happened to letting students exercise their autonomy?

    • Jason Brennan

      Libertarians need not hold that only violations of rights express disrespect. Also, I don’t think the issue here is about rugged individualism vs. everything else. It’s about being an adult vs being a child. It’s also not about support services. I want rape survivors to get supports services. But it expresses disrespect to rape survivors to say that 1) academic debate about statistics invalidates their experiences, and 2) that they’ll need to watch videos of puppies frolicking because they can’t handle people having such debates on campus.

      • Jon Herington

        Why does the preference to avoid this particular event make them children? The participants nor organizers in the safe space needn’t deny that the frank discussion of rape statistics (by others) is an important goal. They may merely, for understandable reasons, prefer not to participate in such a discussion and instead to do something else. To hold that someone is a “child” merely because of the content of their preferences (and in ignorance of they way they formed those preferences) is surely disrespectful.

        • Steven Horwitz

          I’d find your counter-argument to Jason more persuasive it these “safe spaces” and the like were not *consistently* appearing whenever a speaker or event involves some argument that threatens the orthodoxy of the campus left. It sure seems like “the reasons they wish to not participate” have everything to do with feeling threatened by ideas with which they do not agree, and to thereby portray the purveyors of those ideas as themselves a threat from which they need safety.

          That is, in fact, childish, and behavior unworthy of the free exchange of ideas that is supposed to characterize higher education. And the folks who are creating such spaces are indeed thereby participating in the infantilization of the students involved. And, lastly, when the infantilization is of women, it sure feels like classic misogyny. The idea that women are delicate flowers who, like children, require protection from adult men is the oldest trope in the book.

          • Jon Herington

            Note that it’s not adult men who are trying to “protect” these women by *creating* these spaces. The survivors of sexual assault are creating these spaces themselves! It is, however, adult men who are calling them infants…

            Perhaps you think that participants in these safe spaces have a form of “false consciousness”: that their preference for a safe space is somehow inauthentic, and has been manufactured in them by the hectoring of radical feminists and an “infantile” college environment. But to claim that involves denying that these women are capable of discerning what’s in their own interest. That’s a kind of liberal perfectionism that I think you ought to resist.

          • Feminist Optimal

            Exactly. Creating safe spaces for own use is self-empowering, not demeaning.

          • TracyW

            Do these safe spaces appear when someone gives a talk about, say, the statistics of expansionary fiscal consolidations?
            There is quite a lot of epistemic closure in the left, but rape and torture are rather high in emotional context, for anyone, left or right.

      • adrianratnapala

        It’s easy to imagine that a rape victim will be reminded of her own ordeal whenever the topic of rape comes up in conversation. That doesn’t make her childish. It’s just as easy to imagine that extended discussions of the topic will keep her mind on it and dredge up all sorts of anxiety and loathing. That also doesn’t make her childish, it just means she suffers one particular form of mental trauma. I think it is perfectly reasonable for a person in that situation to take such topics in controlled doses.

        • martinbrock

          Suppose you have PTSD after having your legs blown off by an IED in Iraq. Maybe you haven’t suffered a fate worse than death, like a victim of date rape, but you’re touchy about violence, so when Robert Pape gives a talk about suicide terrorism at your university, the administration provides you a room with coloring books, bubbles and Play-Doh in case you feel over-stimulated during the talk.

          Honestly, how would you react? Would you think this room a genuine service or an insulting mockery of your condition by the university’s anti-military peaceniks?

          • Chris Surprenant

            University students already have access to such rooms. They are called “dorm rooms.” If the student doesn’t want to attend some particular talk, there are literally hundreds of other things that student could do, including (but not limited to) taking a nap in his or her room.

            It is not the job of the university administration to treat adult learners like children. The job of the university administration is to facilitate the knowledge-advancing work of the faculty. In no way does providing adults with access to bubbles and Play-Doh because they may be “over-stimulated” by an academic talk accomplish this goal. It’s merely a waste of university resources and makes a mockery of what the university is supposed to stand for.

          • TracyW

            But if you’re sitting in your dorm room avoiding a particular talk, you’re not engaging with that talk. Someone in their dorm taking a nap is not being “bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against [your] dearly and closely held beliefs “.
            The safe room is for people who are trying to engage in knowledge-advancing work, in the context of rape statistics. Sending people off to dorm rooms to nap strikes me as the action that is directly contrary to what the university is supposed to stand for.

          • Theresa Klein

            Well, you’re not really engaging with the talk if you’re leaving the room every time you hear an upsetting opinion either, are you?

            And not just leaving the room, but fleeing to a place full of play-doh and coloring books. I mean, if you want to leave the room, you can always step outside, go for a walk, go to the bathroom, or any number of other things. The room with play-doh is there for when you’re so traumatized your brain function has been reduced to a pre-adolescent state.

          • TracyW

            You’re engaging with it more than you would be sitting in your dorm room avoiding it entirely.

        • adrianratnapala

          @martinbrock:disqus See below for my views about childish things for grownups.

          @chrissurprenant:disqus I agree about the dorm rooms.

          Unlike my comment below, this one was not about safe-spaces at all, I was only pointint out that it isn’t childish to be mentally fragile about some particular topic or even to avoid discussion of it.

          For what it’s worth, I think there is something fishy about these safe spaces. Since there are existing alternatives, they sound less like a genuine service than they are a display of power and piety.

          They are also a shibboleth: they tempt unbelievers into overextending our rhetoric. They tempt us, for example, to
          characterize perfectly reasonable behaviour for trauma vicitms as childish. They tempt us also to get worked up about one minor waste of student-union money among many hundreds.

        • bleh

          There’s a problem with you’re reasoning here. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are a reasonable person that just hasn’t looked into what is going on with feminism in these universities. It is NOT because rape was the subject. It is solely because the speaker disagreed with their horse crap views. Plain and simple. They pull this same thing even when rape is not the topic. If the speaker disagrees, challenges, etc their BS views, they try to prevent them from speaking by shaming, threatening, whining, etc and if that doesn’t work they create a safe space where their views aren’t challenged. Ridiculous.

      • Rudabah2

        ‘Libertarians need not hold that only violations of rights express disrespect. ‘
        Yet, if the notion of disrespect is operationalizable, it must be the case that some incohate aspect of the act of exercising a right has been compromised. The alternative is to admit that Libertarian rights don’t provide a complete covering set for Public discourse and its semantics are either ‘gappy’ or ‘glutty’.
        Your ‘adult/ child’ heuristics begs this question in self-neotenizing form.
        So much so that, if you formalised your argument, it would be child’s play to show that ‘Bleeding Heart Libertarianism’ is nothing but a cuddly toy play-pen for those strategically signally a devastating rape by the relevant Maths.

        • Rudabah2

          that should be ‘strategically signally a devastating rape &c.’

          • Rudabah2

            Wow- too many Margaritas!- ‘strategically signalling a devastating rape’ is what I meant to say.

        • TracyW

          Yet, if the notion of disrespect is operationalizable, it must be the case that some incohate aspect of the act of exercising a right has been compromised.

          I’m going to sound very dim, and say Huh?

          Why would the notion of disrespect require that a right has been compromised at all, let alone incohately)? When I say of Richard Murphy that “He’s a total loon, if you don’t believe me, say something even slightly critical of him, including asking some hard questions, on his blog and see how fast you get banned” (this is my honest opinion of him), I’m disrespecting Richard Murphy, but I don’t see how I’m compromising any of his, or my rights. Incohately or choately.

          • Libertymike

            “Economic Justice Campaigner of the Year.”
            Yeah, I believe you.

          • rudabah2

            Full disclosure- I used to know Richard Murphy from work. He’s not super smart but full of ‘game’ and precisely for that reason, worth that affectionate species of attention the World calls trolling.

            Are you a practising C.A or C.P.A? If so, you will understand why we need to give our own subaltern eccentrics a pass.

            Turning to your graver gravamen against me- let me first say, you don’t sound dim at all. ‘Huh?’ is absolutely the right response to any supposedly Logically well founded apercu with real-world Ethics/Econ content.

            There are less well bred responses, but I leave them to your, no doubt more prurient than mine, imagination.

            Essentially I’m saying-

            1) Either Bleeding Heart Libertarianism is a coherent Deontology or it’s just a bunch of second rate shills talking up each others Tenure chances.

            2) Suppose the former is the case. Then, either ‘disrespect’ is operationalizable within its Universe of Discourse OR it has a different Typology as a Regulative Principle.

            The quote from Brennan implies that there is at least one situation where ‘disrespect’ does not arise from a Rights violation.

            The context, he supplies, is ‘Nietzchean’- i.e Thymotic.

            However, it is of the essence of Deontics as a Research Program, that all Thymotic acts are brought under its purview. The cohate, incohate distinction in Law, itself has an epistemic basis in the historical notion of misprision.

            Essentially, it is criminal not to report, or oneself suppress, any act of ‘disrespect’ because it is historically equivalent to lese majeste or, indeed, treason.

            Now, Brennan could say ‘BHL’ aint ‘Deontics’- i.e. logical considerations don’t apply, rather it is the solution to Society’s Co-ordination Problem.

            However, we know that Schelling focal points, (being effectively uncomputable) are always chrematistic chimeras which only subsist because of the patent unfairness of their Parelto Law like distributive consequences- including consequences of a wholly Thymotic nature.

            Let me know look at your claim that ‘ disrespecting Richard Murphy’, OR BRENNAN OR ANY OTHER X, is not seen by you as ‘compromising any of his, or my rights. Incohately or choately.’

            Suppose Murphy or Brennan has rights of a Thymotic nature- then, clearly, questioning their autocritas violates their rights and only an explicit waiver on their part, for the purposes of Paideia, secures your legal impunity. As a matter of fact, the Law does work like this for certain sorts of Knowledge.
            To give an example, some stupid British Court of Rabbis decided ‘Borat’ had insulted the people of Kazakhastan. Interestingly, the ‘social death’ of obloquy was associated with genocide. Thankfully, British Jews understood that Cossacks weren’t Kazakhs and that the latter, as good Muslims, would be grateful of the bogus charge of anti-Semitism against them.
            Getting back to Brennan’s post and your comment on mine- suppose no rRghts have a Thymotic basis- then, clearly, no Rights violation could involve ‘disrespect’.
            Yet Brennan says some disrespect, not all, can occur without Right’s violation.
            Since he gratuitously mentions Nietzche in this context, we must either conclude that
            1) BHL is a failed Research Program
            or
            2) Some as yet inchoate and unnameable inter-subjective Psychological process exists such that this might not be.
            However, for (2) to obtain, BHL must shut up shop and quiveringly await tremors the future fitness landscape casts out towards us.
            This aint happening.
            Brennan and his cohorts have books to sell and Tenure’s Trees to climb.

            Nothing wrong with that.
            Though this particular blog post might appear ‘misogynist’- it isn’t really.
            Brennan, or Debbie Dresden as he sometimes prefers to be called, aint pandering to any Hate Community.
            My understanding is, he’s a young man with a young family.
            Good luck to him.

        • Theresa Klein

          At least we don’t have literal cuddly play toys in our play pen.

          • rudabah2

            We don’t? You’re not married are you dear? Or, if you are, not married to a really hairy person. Believe me, putting your hubby in a big rabbit suit is the way to go.

      • Jon Herington

        “It’s also not about support services. I want rape survivors to get supports services. But it expresses disrespect to rape survivors to say that 1) academic debate about statistics invalidates their experiences, and 2) that they’ll need to watch videos of puppies frolicking because they can’t handle people having such debates on campus.”

        My apologies, I didn’t see this portion initially.

        I think you are being a bit quick when you imply that academic debate about statistics can’t invalidate the experiences of victims of sexual violence, as in the mugging case. Indeed, I think that there is something rather unique about the experiences of the victims of sexual violence. Consider that in the mugging case, it would be very odd for friends and family to ask you whether you are “sure” that it “really was” a mugging, and not simply a misunderstanding. Your own testimony and status as a responsible epistemic agent would be immediately validated . That’s not always true of cases of sexual violence. That makes discussions of the rate of sexual violence qualitatively different for the victims of sexual violence, since any discussion of sexual violence statistics will involve parsing precisely what is and what is not sexual violence (indeed, that is precisely Schumer’s schtick). For victims of sexual violence, who may have had their own experience questioned in this way, that kind of discussion is likely to be far from abstract.

        At any rate, this defence of the reasonability of the preference to form voluntary caring spaces is largely beside the point. Let the survivors themselves determine what they wish to do.

        • TracyW

          But people do ask are you sure about things like claimed fraud, bullying, theft (in one case my cousin had his car stolen while visiting in a strange city, the next day, he discovered the car thefts had returned it to about a block away from where he originally left it, had carefully restored the odometer and the fuel tank, then locked it, ahem), murders, etc.
          Comparing rape with a mugging is different because the nature of mugging means that there’s little chance of a misunderstanding.

        • Theresa Klein

          Consider that in the mugging case, it would be very odd for friends and family to ask you whether you are “sure” that it “really was” a mugging, and not simply a misunderstanding.

          Wouldn’t it be equally odd to have friends and family ask if you are “sure” what you had was some bad drunk sex, and whether maybe it “really was” rape? That’s what a lot of women on college campuses are being told.

          They are being told that they ought to interpret a drunk sex experience as a rape if they didn’t explicitly say yes, and at every stage. And because it’s rape, they are supposed to be more traumatized by it than they are.

          • Jon Herington

            Perhaps its true that some people are pressured into “rounding up” their merely regrettable experiences, but that’s beside the point. My point that was for many victims of sexual violence, including very severe cases, people try to diminish the severity of the assault. This, understandably, can make these victims of rape feel as if people (even friends and family) don’t trust their own testimony. I’m merely suggesting that this might give victims of rape a reason to avoid the appropriate and necessary discussions of sexual violence statistics; because it in part can feel like a cross-examination of their own experience. We ought to let those victims who have had that experience do what they want, without claiming that their behaviour is infantile.

            So, I agree with you that we should be wary of cultures that claim that there are only certain kinds of self-regarding responses to harm which are “appropriate” (i.e. anger, grief, trauma, etc.). But so far as I can tell, the only people who are claiming certain self-regarding responses are inappropriate are the folks who are bleating about a “new infantilism”. The people operating safe spaces are simply enlarging the range of responses which victims can see as legitimate.

          • Theresa Klein

            But they aren’t avoiding the discussion. If they don’t want to attend the discussion they are free to stay home in their dorm room. The safe space was there so people could attend the talk and then flee when it got too traumatizing – for whatever reason.
            Imagine your having a debate and having your opponent declare that he’s just going to leave the room while you are making your rebuttal, because he feels emotionally threatened by the existence of your opinion.

          • Jon Herington

            If my interlocutor was genuinely distressed by our conversation, why would I insist that they remain so that I can immediately press my point? That’s not going to be conducive to getting at the truth, nor changing their view. Much better to allow my opponent to recover first, and then discuss my objections. Nothing is gained in a debate where one party is having a traumatic episode.

            I think the problem is that you either: (i) don’t trust the emotional self-reporting of the participants, and think that they are manufacturing “emotional distress” to silence discussion, or (ii) think that having such a reaction illustrates some kind of failing as a rational agent.

            If (i), then safe spaces don’t, by themselves, silence any discussion. McElroy was free to continue talking, and other students free to listen, whilst the safe space was being used. We should be worried by genuine attempts to ban speakers from campus, but absent those kinds of direct interventions, we should think of a “safe space” as simply another form of speech. It’s ironic that champions of free speech feel so threatened by them.

            If (ii) then fine, but note that this implies a relatively narrow vision of what is rational or acceptable behaviour for free adults. On this account, if you are an emotionally fragile person then its acceptable to ridicule you as an infant. So much for free expression and autonomous self-realization….

          • Theresa Klein

            IMO, more (i) than (ii). I doubt there are enough individuals on campus who have experienced a sufficiently traumatizing rape that they would really need such a room. Most rapes, especially on college campuses, are of the drunk sex/date rape variety. Many are sufficiently ambiguous they shouldn’t even be considered rapes.
            But nobody is talking about banning safe spaces. The point is that by setting up the “safe space” we’re sending women the message that we expect them to be emotional weaklings, which is what is mysogynistic. I expect people to NOT be emotional weaklings.
            Of course, personally, I think the whole thing was really an oblique protest against McElroy’s talk. A bunch of people manufacturing emotional distress as a demonstration of how much they dislike what she has to say. But it’s ironic that a bunch of supposed feminists would choose this particular way of protesting – by setting up a safe space that implies women who are victims of ambuiguous date rape need a place to have emotional breakdowns at the sight of someone questioning rape statistics.

          • TracyW

            How many individuals would be required in your opinion before such a room is needed? The marginal cost strikes me as likely low, most universities have lots of rooms for various clubs and the like.

            And why on earth would date rape be less traumatising than stranger rape? Same issues about loss of autonomy and choice, but also the problem that someone you trusted did this, which is probably going to be a shock to your sense of judgement.

      • TracyW

        I don’t think anyone is saying that rape survivors need to watch videos of puppies frolicking, just that the option is there to do so.

        And, from all I know, people respond to traumatic events very differently, Be that death of a loved one, or divorce, or rape. That some people might want to watch videos of puppies frolicking a lot says something about their reactions. I remember when my grandmother was dying, staying up half the night, scrolling through YouTube videos for performances of Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”. Not quite the same as puppies frolicking, but not something I’ve seen other people do. It was just what was right for me, then.

      • Sean II

        “It’s about being an adult vs being a child.”

        As I’ve suggested elsewhere, that’s a mistake. Here’s the easiest way to see why:

        If this were really about being an adult vs being a child, then all butthurt grievances would be broadly equal. But that’s not what we’re seeing on campus at all.

        Instead, there are some groups which can more or less always claims butthurt, and some groups which never can.

        That means the real dividing line here is NOT between adults and children, it’s between approved grievance bearers and non.

        You, for example, are a white cisgendered male who likes girls and doesn’t worship Allah. There is no safe playroom for you. Indeed, quite the opposite: the one thing those safe playrooms all have in common is that they exist to protect someone FROM you and the other members of your category.

        And if every safe space fears the same bogeyman, that means this isn’t really about adults vs children at all.

        • TracyW

          Yeah, this is the point where I say “toughen up” to white cisgendered men. People are fundamentally self-centered, and hypocritical about it. Yes, the extreme feminist- and anti-racist- and trans-activists are going to not give a damn about white cisgendered men’s tears, but hey, the same is true of the many white cisgendered men’s responses to marginalised groups. How many of the founders of the American Revolution cared about women’s rights? And we all know what they made of slavery. Or how many religious reformers have turned around and prosecuted the “heretics” once they’re in power?

          White men can and do claim butthurt. And extremists get upset about that and claim that they have no right to, with rhetoric about “punching up”, but institutions still know that they have to keep the majority happy as well as minorities.

          • Sean II

            I just knew someone would misunderstand me and reply that way.

            TO BE CLEAR: my point is NOT that we should include straight white boys in the butthurt tournament ladder.

            My point is…the fact that the butthurt sweepstakes is an invitational – i.e. only open to some factions and not others – is EVIDENCE that infantilism is not at the root of this phenomena.

            In other words, I’m not making an argument about how to enlarge the safe space movement by including yet another bunch of whining assholes. I’m arguing that Jason has misdiagnosed the movement’s causes.

          • TracyW

            I’m afraid you misread *me*. We already do include straight white boys in the butthurt tournament ladder.

            Some extremists don’t want straight white boys included, but they have about zero chance of getting that preference through.

          • Sean II

            “We already do include straight white boys in the butthurt tournament ladder.”

            Nonsense. Just try to produce some examples. Here are the test conditions:

            1) Story must take place at a college or university.

            2) Butthurt claimant must be straight, white (in the everyday sense), non-Muslim, non-Jewish male.

            3) Butthurt claim must be BASED on injury suffered as a result of membership in that category.

            4) Establishment must express support for or otherwise take seriously said claim (think: mattress girl).

            I’d love to see what you can scrape up.

          • TracyW

            Why condition 3?

          • Sean II

            Because it’s essential. If all you can find is a white guy who claims butthurt on the the grounds that he got molested by his priest, that’s not an example of indulging fake victims. That’s not even butthurt.

            It’s just real hurt, just a case of acknowledging a real victim.

            Which I assume is something we’d both largely support.

            This post, and this thread, is about dubious claims of victim status being used to shut down debate.

            So you need to find a dubious claim. Hence, condition 3.

          • TracyW

            My apologies, I see that I expressed myself badly. When I was thinking about butthurt, I was thinking about people feeling hurt by some actions, regardless of whether they connected those actions with their gender/race/religion/etc.

            So, white guy who was hurt by being raped, that counts to me as an institution being responsive, even if no one connects it to the victim’s gender/race/religion.

          • Sean II

            Ah, I see. I’ve always understood butthurt to mean, by definition, “a trivial or imaginary insult exaggerated to the status of a grievous injury”.

            Race, sex, etc. comes into this very naturally, since the largest category of unchecked butthurt comes from there.

            If a S/W/M says he can’t get out of bed because it’s the 9/11 anniversary and most of the people who died in the towers were white…in our society, that guy still gets told to man up or go fuck himself. We are still allowed to call his claim of injury ridiculous.

            If he comes up with a blood relative who died in the attack, maybe not.

            Meanwhile, if an upper-middle class black girl born in 1986 claims that watching Selma gave her flashbacks, there isn’t a university administrator on planet earth who would dare to challenge her.

            You get the idea.

          • TracyW

            That definition leads to major arguments about what is a trivial insult, particularly if we’re talking about large swathes of the population.

            But as I recall, Americans, including straight white boys, have gotten rather fussed about burning the American flag, or men wearing hats during the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner.”

          • Sean II

            “That definition leads to major arguments about what is a trivial insult…”

            I beg to differ. Indeed, contained in my comments here is a wonderfully robust test of any butthurt claim. Works like this:

            Take the story, and instead of whoever it is, imagine a rich, white, straight, male American. If your sympathy evaporates on changing that detail, the story is probably bullshit. If not, maybe not.

            “B-52’s leveled my village, so jet noises frighten me.” Okay, shit. We have a winner. That sounds legit no matter who you are.

            “I got beaten up because I loved someone my society didn’t approve of”. Again, legit. Doesn’t matter if you’re gay, or a Capulet, or whatever (as long as it’s not a little kid you got caught loving). You have my attention.

            “Someone called me a bad word”. Hmmm…now I’m thinking you should probably move on.

            “Someone implicitly de-legitimized my prior claims of butthurt by using rigorous logic and statistics”. Yeah, now move on is feeling more like go fuck yourself.

            See…it’s not actually that difficult to sort the real ones from the fake.

          • TracyW

            Sean, on the ‘someone called you a “bad word”‘ I give you the doctrine of fighting words.

            Plus I’ve wound up a fair few guys online by rigorous logic and statistics. Though I did not make enquiries into their ethnicity, orientation or gender history.

          • Sean II

            Point taken on the flag thing. In fact, I’ll go you one better: in the first couple years after 9/11, there was a fair amount of butthurt-because-I’m-American going around. Kind of a time-stamped hall pass in the academy of victimhood.

          • Theresa Klein

            How many of the founders of the American Revolution cared about women’s rights? And we all know what they made of slavery.
            I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean given that many of the founders were opposed to slavery and considered it a grave sin. They just didn’t want to break up the union over it, quite yet.

          • TracyW

            Washington and Jefferson not only didn’t want to break up the union, they didn’t even free their own slaves in their lifetimes.

        • Theresa Klein

          Yeah, I think you are on to something here. There is an independent trend of infantilization (why they chose childrens toys over a meditation room), but there’s also a reason why some people get a safe space and some don’t. It’s the identity politics strategy of the left. Convince enough people they are an aggreived group, band all the aggreived identity groups together, and insist that “the system” is inherently biased towards white cisgendered males, and the only answer is forcible redistribution.
          The “safe space” is really an oblique sort of protest rally. You’re declaring that your opponents ideas are so wrong they are actually inflicting positive harm upon others. It’s not really about providing emotional support to rape survivors at all. It’s a way of saying “Wendy McElroy’s ideas are so bad and dangerous that we actually think people need to be protected from them. Look, we had to make a safe space so all the traumatized rape survivors would not slit their wrists after listening to her talk!”

          • TracyW

            I’m very mistrustful of assuming ulterior motives for what other people do, because so often people do it to me, and they’re generally quite wrong. Also I think that sort of thinking encourages intellectual laziness, rather than going up against your opponent’s best arguments you tell yourself that they actually have some silly motive, and then dismiss them based on that.

          • JoshInca

            It’s the identity politics strategy of the left

            Sure, but it’s telling that they are infantilizing the members of their aggrieved group.

    • Theresa Klein

      It’s hard to see to see how a libertarian could claim that setting up a service for students to utilise (or not) is disrespectful of those students.

      You don’t think it’s disrespectful to patronize someone?

      I mean seriously, I can’t think of many thinks that are more literally patronizing than to provide someone with a room full of play-doh and coloring books in case their feelings get hurt.

      • Jon Herington

        I guess I don’t think that offering a safe space is patronizing (and so not disrespectful). Certainly not if it is being organized by a community of survivors themselves. Most survivors don’t use such spaces, but some do. That gives us prima facie reason to think that its an offer worth making in certain contexts. People are free to reject it.

        I’m more concerned about the policing of people’s preferences for high and low culture, child-like or adult-like activity. The claim seems to be that if you utilise these safe spaces then you are infantile, i.e. not a “proper adult”. That strikes me as patronising in so far as it implies, merely on the basis of your self-regarding tastes, that you can’t be trusted to identify a good life.

        • Theresa Klein

          Perhaps it’s the nature of the space being described. Play-doh and coloring books are literally children’s toys.
          If you are worried about peoples psychological health, it would be more respectful to provide private counselling. Why a child-like atmosphere? Why children’s toys and not soothing nature sounds, a zen garden, or a meditation/prayer room?

    • Blah

      You’re idiocy is Triggering me. I need to retreat into a Safe Space that includes a vomit bucket complete with a nice, scented glad garbage bag.

      These feminist students only want to retreat into their Safe Spaces when a speaker is challenging their toxic views. It doesn’t even have to be about rape. They pull this kind of stuff anytime they cant threaten or shame their school into preventing a speaker they don’t agree with from coming to their school. Furthermore, they could just not attend the event. There are more than the two choices available: “Attend the event, or retreat into Safe Space”. If you can’t see whats going on, you’re a moron.

  • Sean II

    I’m glad to see you taking this on, and you’ve certainly hit the key point here: “If McElroy says, “It’s not true that 1 in 5 women will be raped in the US, or that 1 in 5 college women will face sexual assault of some form,” she doesn’t thereby deny that you, an actual victim, were not a victim.”

    But…one gripe. Puppy videos notwithstanding, this “new infantilism” tag is way off. Makes it sound like the root of the problem is some generational character defect. “The kids these days are wimps, amirite?”

    No, no, no. Safe spaces and trigger warnings are not a demand-side creation of the kids-these-days. They’re an explicitly left-wing invention, pushed from the top down, just like every other thing in the never-ending campus culture war. And though I caught some whiffs of false equivalence in the last thread, there just isn’t any substantial conservative or libertarian version of this behavior. To pretend otherwise is silly. Of course Brian Leiter requires that pretense, or else he should have to admit this monster is one of his own creation. But what’s our excuse?

    Oh, yeah, right, I forgot…Liberty University. That’s supposed to balance the scales and make this not just a left-wing problem, but an everybody problem. Nonsense. I hate Christianity MORE than the next guy, but we should all be able to know an unfair fight when we see one. In this case, left wing campus bullies are ISIL, and everyone else are the Yazidi.

  • Frau From Fly-Over USA

    The amount of time so-called Libertarian men spend on dwelling on women’s spaces and voluntary associations baffles me. Almost as much energy as they spend denying rape and domestic violence statistics. What do they fear? Women having equal justice, liberty & freedom.

    • Theresa Klein

      I’m a libertarian women, and personally, I think being treated equally means being treated like I’m capable of handling an argument about rape statistics.
      Without needing a special room full of play-doh and puppy videos to go hide in. In short I violently agree with the man who wrote this article.

      • TracyW

        I’m a woman as well, and yet, I think different people at different times have different needs. People cope with stress different ways, for all sorts of different reasons. And we often recognise that some people need more support, eg when someone’s close relative has died that’s a time to give them a break for a bit.
        No one is obliging rape survivors to use these rooms.

        • Libertymike

          “alleged” rape survivors.

          • TracyW

            No one is obliging alleged rape survivors to use the room either.

            And, seriously, what’s the qualification doing in there? This is not a legal case: it’s quite possible for someone to have been raped but for there to be insufficient evidence to prove this in a court of law. And it’s quite possible for someone to be traumatised by something that isn’t a crime.

          • Libertymike

            Color me skeptical with regard to allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, indecent exposure, pedophilia, and rape.
            There have just been too many Virginia frat house and Duke Lacrosse and Fells Acre Day Care hoaxes.

          • TracyW

            Being skeptical about any individual case, fine. Being skeptical about the existence of rape, rather weird.

          • Theresa Klein

            It’s not about obliging people to use the room. It’s that having the room in the first place displays the attitude that you expect women to be too emotionally fragile to handle the lecture. Which is mysogynistic.

          • TracyW

            It’s that you expect some people to be too emotionally fragile to handle the discussion.

      • Frau From Fly-Over USA

        Based on your disqus lack of history it’s safe to say you are neither woman or libertarian but a AVFM troll

        • urstoff

          I think you are a man conducting a false flag on behalf of AVFM.

        • Theresa Klein

          What the hell is AVFM?
          I post on several libertarian forums. Newsflash: Not every message board uses disqus.

  • adrianratnapala

    Lets distinguish between two claims. Claim a: “It is ridiculous to think that a ‘safe space.’ is needed just because someone might hear something”. Claim b: “It is insulting to put childish things (like puppy videos) in a such a space”. But the latter does not really fly.

    Suppose someone set up a space where men could go for solace, and decide to fill it with radio-controlled cars and video games. That is not obviously insulting? I don’t think so, it is just letting men be boys for a little while.

    Grown men might see it as beneath their dignity to coo at pictures of fuzzy animals. But I’ve seen grown women delight in extremes of soppiness when in the castle of their own home. I think a space that offers puppy videos to grown-ups is advertising that it is such a castle.

    • martinbrock

      Traumatized women need coloring books, bubbles and Play-Doh while men need an X-Box? I have college aged twins, brother and sister. On their birthday, suppose I give my daughter Play-Doh and give my son an X-Box. You’re seriously telling me that you see nothing odd about that? Under any other circumstances, you wouldn’t accuse me of sexism?

      • TracyW

        I think the male version is called “executive stress relief device”.

  • martinbrock

    … cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies …

    If someone asked me to create a “safe space” for offended feminists, only to mock them, I could hardly do better, so I must wonder what really motivated the people who created this one.

  • Kurt H

    McElroy’s arguments are not that the 1 in 5 statistic is a miscount or oversample, but rather that some incidents are being counted as assaults that, in her opinion, should not be considered sexual assault. Can you really not see how that might be upsetting to victims of sexual assault?

    • Sean II

      Man, you’re turning into the Cal Ripken of trolls.

      You never miss a day of work.

      • Libertymike

        Incidentally, May 30, 1982 is the day he started his streak.

      • Kurt H

        Says the guy who basically lives here . . .

        • Sean II

          Ha. That was pretty good.

    • Theresa Klein

      Which incidents? Personally, I think that some people might be more traumatized by thinking what happened was rape, than that it was some drunk sex they later regretted. We have this schizophrenic attitude towards sex, where when it’s consentual it’s a casual thing you do for fun with total strangers, and when it’s not (or even just ambiguous) it’s oh-my-god-you-must-want-to-kill-yourself-from-dishonor. The instant someone says rape, we’re back in the 18th century and women are being dishonored and forever sullied by the touch of man.

      Why would you want to consider yourself a rape victim if you could just as easily think of it as bad sex? If we’re defining things in a way that tells women “You were RAPED! You should be traumatized and hide in your room and cry for the next six months!” maybe we’re doing them a disservice.

      • Sean II

        Also…it’s fine if for various reasons one chooses to take an expansive view of sexual assault. I can see the argument for including things like dubious consent, sexual misconduct 3rd, etc. in the overall numbers.

        But it’s not fine if, having done this, we treat every victim as traumatized in the same sense as a forcible rape victim.

        Yet that’s clearly what’s being pushed here. We’re told to feel the same kind of empathy, and extend the same kind of protection, for women who got creeped out by sharing an elevator with Richard Dawkins as for those who were victimized by violent sex crimes.

        Which, as usual, gives us a screaming clue that what’s going on here has nothing to do with any real concern for victims.

        • Libertymike

          Agreed, of course. However, the same ratiocination applies to the priests. Sodomizing a six year old is not the same thing as father grabbing the glutes of George, a 17 year old parish youth counselor while the latter climbs the ladder up onto the raft at the lake during the Annual Youth Parish Summer Outing.

        • Kurt H

          Only the feminists of your fevered imagination do not understand that sexual assault comes in varying degrees of severity. What gives us a big clue, is that anti-feminists are constantly trying to erase the distinction between assault and regret. That this creates an environment that makes it easy to get away with sexual assault.

          • Sean II

            “That this creates an environment that makes it easy to get away with sexual assault.”

            Compared to what? It’s probably harder to get away with sexual assault in America 2015 than it has ever been in the history of people.

          • Kurt H

            Relative to the baseline for all crimes where accusations are taken seriously. Sexual assault is peculiar in this regard, where the accuser is treated with suspicion.

            Yes, this crime is harder to get away with than ever before, but that’s because sexual assault was not only excused, but even legally protected until quite recently (marital rape was legal, for example). We are closer to fair treatment, but not there yet.

          • Sean II

            “Sexual assault is peculiar in this regard, where the accuser is treated with suspicion.”

            You have no idea what you’re talking about.

            The first thing cops do whenever someone gets killed is try to figure out what the victim did to provoke it. The first thing they do when someone shows up saying he got robbed is try to figure out whether he was attempting to buy dope or ass when it happened. Cops are habitually suspicious of alleged victims. They pretty much think everyone is lying, all the time.

            But don’t take my word for it: go down to your local police station and try reporting an attack that didn’t happen. Try to become the Emma Sulkowicz of non sexual assault. See how they treat you.

            Hint: they’ll do to you what they should have done to ol’ Emma, and you will end up needing a good lawyer.

          • Kurt H

            “The first thing cops do whenever someone gets killed is try to figure out what the victim did to provoke it.”

            Yes, they do this to establish *motive,* not because they don’t think a murder happened.

            “The first thing they do when someone shows up saying he got robbed is try to figure out whether he was attempting to buy dope or ass when it happened.”

            Only if poor and/or non-white. If the accuser is a middle class white female, they will do no such thing (for robbery, anyway).

            “Try to become the Emma Sulkowicz of non sexual assault.”

            Look who is presuming that an attack didn’t happen . . .
            Sulkowicz is unlikely to be a false accuser (since she is one of three people to accuse Nungesser of sexual assault), so I’m not sure where she fits into your “argument.”

          • TracyW

            In the Nungesser case, the university investigated and found that the assault didn’t happen even under the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. That all three assaults didn’t happen. And according to Nungesser’s legal complaint against the university, the other two alleged victims came forward after Sulkowicz approached other women looking for complaints.

            More generally, there is a problem with a bias towards believing accusers, and that’s that there are people out there who are both abusive and reasonably smart, and if they know that they are likely to be believed, they will file false complaints as part of harassing someone. Be those complaints of rape, theft, fraud, or assault.

          • Sean II

            “…the other two alleged victims came forward after Sulkowicz approached other women looking for complaints.”

            I’m shocked You mean there wasn’t a serial rapist stalking the campus of a $50,000 a year Ivy League school?

            That would mean Law & Order has been lying to me all this time. Rapists on that show always look like Paul Nungesser.

          • TracyW

            If the accuser is a middle class white female, they will do no such thing (for robbery, anyway).

            Huh! In that case they also will do bugger-all about the actual crime unless they happen to trip over the robber.

          • Kurt H

            I’m not claiming the cops will *solve* the crime, just that they will be more likely to treat it as an actual crime.

          • TracyW

            I’m curious, do you have any statistics on this?

          • Sean II

            “Only if poor and/or non-white.”

            Nope, talking straight out of your ass again. The police are NEVER more suspicious than when a rich white kid turns up robbed. Why? Because it doesn’t happen very often. And when it does, drugs, booze, stupidity, etc. usually have everything to do with it.

            I wonder, Kurt…do you have any interesting opinions, or are you just some kind of Alternet emulator that in every case spits out the progro’ central line.

            Because I can visit Alternet any time I want. Often do, in fact. So if you’ve got nothing to add beyond that…

          • Kurt H

            I beg to differ, but none of us really have any stats to back it up, so I’m not sure how to resolve it.

            As for my “party line” responses, that a large number of people can share information and values is not exactly surprising. This is increasingly likely the closer that information and value set conforms to reality. Non-conformity is a poor measure of the quality of an idea.

          • Libertymike

            Why presume that an attack did happen?
            Why presume the bona fides of the accuser?

          • Kurt H

            Because even the highest estimate of false rape accusations is only 8% of all reports. Simply by playing the odds, we should assume an honest belief. When you consider that most false reports (like the UVA case) involve an unnamed attacker, the odds of Sulkowicz being a liar are even lower.

          • TracyW

            But those statistics are proven false or unfounded rape accusations, as distinct to cases where there’s no good evidence one way or another.

            And in some cases, trauma can mean that a rape victim accuses someone that they genuinely believed committed the crime, though DNA or other evidence proves otherwise.

            In the case of UVA, apparently her friends thought that *something * pretty bad happened to “Jackie” that night. We know that that Jackie can’t have been raped at a party at that fraternity house because there was no party at that house that night.

            But, let’s say that a girl was actually raped at a fraternity house after a couple of drinks, and in a darkish room. (Note I am a woman, I have been to private parties and had drinks, in badly lit rooms and I almost certainly will do this again in the future. I’m not judging the girl at all in this.) Now we know that witness identifications aren’t that reliable even in a brightly-lit lab situation, let alone in a situation with alcohol and poor lighting, and then when we add a highly emotional situation such as rape, well, if the girl misidentifies her attacker, then you’d have a case of someone being falsely accused but to accuse the rape victim in that case of having made a false or unfounded accusation would be inhumane.

      • TracyW

        Personally, I think that some people might be more traumatized by thinking what happened was rape, than that it was some drunk sex they later regretted.

        Probably. But, also, some people might be more traumatized by not recognising it as rape. Eg they might blame themselves for not being firmer.
        People are complicated. And weird. I include myself in that statement.

        • Theresa Klein

          I don’t quite get being traumatized by not recognizing something as rape. If you didn’t think you were raped in the first place, and weren’t trraumatized by it, and then someone tells you it was rape and NOW you start being traumatized by not having realized it in the first place, wouldn’t you have been better off sticking with the opinion that you weren’t raped?
          Also, is “I wasn’t firm enough” regret really the sort of trauma that warrents a room full of puppy dog videos?

          Why do we assume that every sexual encounter that the woman isn’t 100% enthusiastic about is some sort of life-shattering trauma that people are going to slit their wrists over?

          • TracyW

            You can be traumatized without realising that you were traumatized.

            Once I was going through a stressful period in life, I won’t go into details, but a couple of people in my life were terminally ill, amongst other things. If you’d asked me at the time I was coping absolutely fine. Looking back, my sleep patterns were totally disrupted, I was snapping and swearing at perfectly innocent people and drinking way too much.

            Also, is “I wasn’t firm enough” regret really the sort of trauma that warrents a room full of puppy dog videos?

            Puppy dog videos are like stopping at the pub for a pint: any excuse is a good excuse. 🙂

            Why do we assume that every sexual encounter that the woman isn’t 100% enthusiastic about is some sort of life-shattering trauma that people are going to slit their wrists over?

            I don’t know of anyone who assumes that.

          • Sean II

            “I don’t know of anyone who assumes that.”

            You’re wrong there. Spend some time with campus feminists, and it won’t take long to find some who think all sex under the current patriarchal system is basically abuse.

            Granted, those are the extreme. But you can find LOTS of campus feminists who think that any hesitation before (or regret after) sex is, as they might say, “problematic” or “not okay”.

            And yes, this means they end up viewing most campus sex with suspicion. Why? Because boys walk out of their dorm rooms thinking “I’ma fuck tonight!” But girls walk out of their rooms saying “All I want to do this time is dance and hang out with my girls!” (oddly, the destination for which pursuit always turns out to be some place full of guys).

            To the extent that sex happens on campus, it involves a reconciliation of those two aims. Which means…it usually involves hesitation, or regret, or both.

            Here again, feminists and Victorian turn out to have a lot in common. They both see boys as predators, girls as prey. Nothing new about it.

            But for god sake’s, don’t pretend you don’t know of anyone who assumes that.

          • Tim O’Keefe

            The standard reflected in most campus sexual misconduct codes, and most feminist thinking too, is that engaging in sexual activity without the consent of the other party is sexual assault. That is not Victorian–if anything, it’s broadly Kantian. (But lots of non-Kantians could accept it too!) Importantly, consent has to be
            –active (actually saying ‘yes’ through words or deeds, not merely not saying no)
            –non-coerced (not obtained through force or threats)
            And an incapacitated person is unable to give informed and rational consent. Furthermore, giving consent to one sexual activity doesn’t imply consent for other activities. (You might voluntarily engage in heavy petting without consenting to vaginal penetration, for instance.)

            Merely hesitating before giving consent, or regretting sexual activity after you’ve consented to it, does not imply that the sexual activity in question was non-consensual.

            Does that standard sound OK to you?

          • Theresa Klein

            This is a distinct issue from the standard of consent. This is about the common perception that a woman who has been assaulted even just by not giving affirmative consent, is going to be deeply emotionally disturbed as a result. It’s that perception which gives rise to absurdities like having a safe space with coloring books during a lecture on rape statistics.

          • Sean II

            “Does that standard sound OK to you?”

            No! Absolutely not!

            1) “And an incapacitated person is unable to give informed and rational consent.”

            I assume that by “incapacitated” you mean BOTH incapacitated and drunk (people who just mean incapacitated never feel the need to say that, since it’s morally obvious).

            In which case I disagree on the practical grounds that young people like to drink and they like to fuck, often on the same nights. Your plan is what…tell them not to? How are you gonna do that? Nothing short of a totalitarian state would be required to enforce a rule against sex under alcohol diminished capacity, and anywhere else the only real result would be an highly selective prosecutorial witch-hunt now and again. All in all, a terrible idea. So’s this:

            2) “Importantly, consent has to be active (actually saying ‘yes’ through words or deeds”

            Pure madness, ignoring millennia of collected wisdom on human sexual behavior.

            For reasons well known to the poets, women as a rule don’t like to make sexual negotiations explicit. The fellas might not mind taking the guesswork out, but ladies tend to hate it when a dude just comes right out and says “I’d like to touch your pussy now. Is that okay?” And who can blame them for hating the sound of that? Open negotiation by deed and body part is something one does with a prostitute, not a date.

            Here again, you’re proposing a rule that flies in the face of reality, and that couldn’t be enforced anywhere except in Oceania.

          • Theresa Klein

            They both see a girl as “ruined” (morally and socially in the Victorian case, psychologically for the feminists) if a boy manages to get sex from her without a relationship.
            Exactly. The feminists have absorbed and transformed this Victorian social attitude that a woman who is raped is “ruined” and switched it from being morally ruined to being psychologically ruined. If you were raped into today’s society you’re emotionally damaged, you have “baggage”. And these safe spaces reinforce that attitude. It’s mysogynistic, and that’s the point of the article. We need to get past treating women who have experienced some kind of sexual assault as if they were psychologically damaged. Especially if we’re going to be defining the term broadly.

          • TracyW

            It won’t take long to find some who think all sex under the current patriarchal system is basically abuse.

            Sean, normally you’re a much more precise reader than this. Theresa’s claim was “Why do we assume that every sexual encounter that the woman isn’t 100% enthusiastic about is some sort of life-shattering trauma that people are going to slit their wrists over?”

            There’s a big difference between thinking that something is abuse, and thinking that it is a life-shattering trauma that people are going to slit their wrists over.

          • Sean II

            I think you’ve got being a precise reader confused with being a pettifogging literalist. Not the same thing.

            When Theresa says: “Why do we assume that every sexual encounter that the woman isn’t 100% enthusiastic about is some sort of life-shattering trauma that people are going to slit their wrists over?”

            I take her point as intended. Clearly, she didn’t literally mean 100%. Clearly, she didn’t literally mean “slit their wrists”. These are just manners of expression, designed to make one’s comments…not boring. And knowing this, readers of good will ought not to pounce.

            For example, if a buddy says “Fuck my life. It’s always raining when I want to ride my bike!”, you don’t respond by saying: “Now, now old friend. Your life is precious. You shouldn’t fuck it. Besides, the odds of rain are an independent probability, not linked in any way to your bike riding plans. Take care you don’t let confirmation bias trick you into thinking otherwise.”

            This falls under the same rule. We can both see what Theresa meant. Agree or not, let’s both respond to that.

          • TracyW

            Sean, you’re normally much smarter than this.
            Theresa’s arguing that accommodations shouldn’t be available to rape survivors. In that context, she’s making the extreme statements not just to liven up her speech, but to try to discredit people who think that some people might find being raped tough emotionally. She’s attacking strawmen deliberately because she can’t make any fair arguments for her position.

          • Sean II

            “In that context, she’s making the extreme statements not just to liven up her speech, but to try to discredit people who think that some people might find being raped tough emotionally.”

            Because THAT’s not an extreme statement, in itself!

            You really think Theresa just wants to discredit victims who aren’t upbeat about being raped? You haven’t found anything more interesting than that in her comments?

            And supposedly SHE’s the one who’s guilty of straw manning and overstatement.

            In tennis we call what you just fed me a half court sitter: a shot so weak and so begging to be played for a winner that one actually feels a little guilty smashing it home.

          • TracyW

            And now you’re being as bad as her.
            Ah well, anyone else who cares about this can re-read her, your and my comments and see who said what.

      • Kurt H

        It’s strange that you think the problem is people exaggerating the severity of their assaults, when the overwhelming conclusion of decades of research on this topic is that it is more typical for people to minimize the severity.

        What has really changed is that we are slowly shifting from an environment where most sexual assault victims are in hiding to one where they are not. This often gets interpreted as a sudden glut of “exaggerators” which is a very helpful interpretation for people to take if you’re a perpetrator of sexual assault.

        • Theresa Klein

          Perhaps minimizing the severity is the more healthy emotional response, if the alternative is running away to a safe space when confronted with someone critical of rape statistics.
          If anything, treating people coming “out” as sexual assault victims ought to involve a presumption that they are emotionally healthy, not fragile people who are going to have flashbacks any second. We’re talking about acknowledging milder forms of sexual assault. Nobody wants their friends to put them on suicide watch just because they admit to having been groped once when drunk.

          • TracyW

            If anything, treating people coming “out” as sexual assault victims ought to involve a presumption that they are emotionally healthy, not fragile people who are going to have flashbacks any second.

            Why? I mean, they just told you they were sexually assaulted, which is something known to commonly produce fragility.
            If a friend told you that their Dad had died, would you assume that they were emotionally healthy? If they told you that they’d been laid off, would you assume that they were emotionally healthy?
            If they told you that they’d broken a leg, would you assume that they were physically healthy and could walk on that leg just fine?

          • Theresa Klein

            which is something known to commonly produce fragility.

            This is exactly the kind of mysogynistic presumption that Jason Brennan is talking about. What if the majority of women actually really DIDN’T feel all that traumatized by the sort of drunk-sex lacking affiramtive consent experiences people are classifying as rape? You’re absorbing and reflecting this bizarre cultural attitude that rape is a “fate worse than death”, even if it’s drunken ambiguous date rape.

            If a friend told you that their Dad had died, would you assume that they were emotionally healthy? If they told you that they’d been laid off, would you assume that they were emotionally healthy?
            If they told you that they’d broken a leg, would you assume that they were physically healthy and could walk on that leg just fine?

            My dad died 25 years ago. And lots of people, including myself, the LAST thing they want from other people when they mention something like that is for everyone else to treat them like a trauma case. Most people want other people to be normal around them. They don’t want overweening sympathy. Many people, especially emotionally healthy people, don’t want other people treating them like victims or that they need help.

          • TracyW

            What if the majority of women actually really DIDN’T feel all that traumatized by the sort of drunk-sex lacking affiramtive consent experiences people are classifying as rape?

            Then they’d go off happily to the speech on rape statistics. And the minority who did, but still wanted to engage, could use the safe room.

            You’re absorbing and reflecting this bizarre cultural attitude that rape is a “fate worse than death”, even if it’s drunken ambiguous date rape.

            Nope. You’re attacking a strawman.

            Most people want other people to be normal around them. They don’t want overweening sympathy.

            Even so, if you had just told me that your Dad died, while I would act normally if that’s what you want, I wouldn’t unload my troubles on you, I’d be understanding if you missed some events, etc.

            And if you were one of that group you think is a minority, who want more sympathetic treatment, I’d offer that.

  • TracyW

    I don’t see the big issue with this approach. It is a topic that does affect people’s mental health pretty seriously. If they were insisting people use it, or making patronising comments like you describe that would be bad. And I have no idea if bubbles and puppy videos are the right calming approach. But isn’t it worth a try?

    On a couple of other points

    Further, it’s bizarre that people would engage in motivated reasoning over this.

    People engage in motivated reasoning about everything.

    Why would you want to believe that rape is common or prevalent?

    Because you think that would increase the chances of people believing you when you say you were raped.

  • zic

    Perhaps you would benefit from learning about PTSD and rape before you go start calling people names.

    I was raped when I was 16; but at the time, I didn’t understand it to be rape. On a date, said no, he did it anyway. At the time, I didn’t understand this to be rape; my understanding of rape was stranger rape, forcible rape. Early in my marriage (34 years and counting, thank you,) I started having nightmares about it; one so traumatic, I was screaming. I told my husband what had happened, and he told me I’d been raped.

    So remember this: a lot of those young women and men in college have had similar trauma; both sexual assault and rape, and they may not really understand what happened to them, particularly if they were children or in their early teens. Discussing it in a public forum like this can be beneficial in that it helps them understand the trauma; but at that moment, they really do need a safe space. I know I did, and I love my husband for creating one for me.

    But thanks for mansplaining this, please don’t foget that women aren’t the only people who get raped and sexually assaulted and suffer PTSD as a result. And really, don’t make a habit of calling people suffering from an emotional trauma childish and infants when you don’t actually know anything about the condition, it’s causes, or treatment. It’s a good way to brand yourself an asshole.

    • Theresa Klein

      If you had the emotional maturity to actually read and understand the article, first of all, he specifically noted that men can be raped too, and secondly, his point was that questioning rape statistics is in no way a claim that any rape survivor ought to find traumatizing. He was NOT claiming that rape survivors are infantile. He was saying that people who find the questioning of statistics traumatizing are infantile.

      Would Brown have had a “safe space” if the speaker had be a doctrinaire defender of those statistics? And I quote from the article above:

      At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.

      This safe space wasn’t just there for actual rape survivors, it was there for people who can’t handle having statistics questioned.

      • zic

        And I didn’t say that there aren’t people who will use such spaces to avoid pov’s they don’t agree with; but attacking the need for such spaces because people abuse them is misguided.

        Perhaps one of the best exposure for someone who thinks disagreement with their ideology is a trigger is actually having to deal with someone who’s had a trigger provoke a PTSD attack.

        But just because some people put dolls in the passenger seat to use the commuter lane doesn’t mean we should do away with the commuter lane; and Brennan’s screed attacks safe spaces as infantilizing.

        • Theresa Klein

          Well, what do you think of the play-doh and coloring books? Are those really the sorts of things that people having a PTSD attack are likely to need? I would think that psychological counsellors would be the more appropriate equipment.
          Also, wouldn’t the safe space be needed for ANY disucssion of rape, including an anti-rape-culture protest rally or a ‘Take Back The Night’ walk? Why specifically target McElroy’s talk?

          • zic

            It means that someone organizing the space wanted to provide some comforts in the space, and that’s what the settled upon. They might have also provided Cherry Coke and Oreos or lego or Rockie and Bulwinkle videos. I don’t think it has nuts to do with the objective.

            And I don’t thimk McElroy’s talk was targeted so much as that it was obvious that many rape/assault survivors would attend, want to participate, and that some consideration to their ability to continue to participate — a place to collect themselves — was considerate.

            If you don’t know what somebody who’s having a PTSD attack might actually need, why are you so critical? Why don’t you actually apply yourself to finding out? It’s a lot easier to complain then it is to inform yourself.

          • Theresa Klein

            Nothing you just said really addresses my question.
            Why children’s toys? Because they felt like it … that’s your answer? You don’t see anything at all infantilizing about the choice of what the they thought rape survivors might need to cope with their feelings?
            And why don’t they have similar accomodatations for the feelings of rape survivors at other events? Do you think they would have a safe room at a discussion of rape culture that was supportive of the statistics?

          • Frau From Fly-Over USA

            Based on disqus posting history ‘Teresa’ is a troll account. Probably from AVFM

          • Theresa Klein

            My name is spelled with an h, and I am a regular commentor on several libertarian sites and definitely not a troll.

      • Sean II

        “This safe space wasn’t just there for actual rape survivors, it was there for people who can’t handle having statistics questioned. ”

        Indeed, if the establishment really believed in that 1 in 4 statistic, they would have booked a much larger room. Back of the envelope math suggests Brown would have a minimum of 1,000 rape survivors (not counting faculty and staff).

        If they were serious, the administration should have rented out a basketball arena.

        • Libertymike

          The Dunk is just a stone’s throw from the campus.

        • JoshInca

          Better yet, they should ban women from attending college altogether.

          What kind of monster would keep an institution going where 1 in 4 people were raped?

      • TracyW

        his point was that questioning rape statistics is in no way a claim that any rape survivor ought to find traumatizing

        “Ought” has little to do with feelings.

        You sound like those Ancient stoics who said “”Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of men’s desires, but by the removal of desire.”

        It may be all very well and true, but it doesn’t stop people from feeling desires. Denying one’s feelings just makes you miserable.

        • Theresa Klein

          Beleiving I’m supposed to feel traumatized about something because it fits someone’s expansive definition of rape would probably make me even more miserable. People who get something out of being miserable, can find lots of things to be miserable about.

          • Libertymike

            Those in the safe room should just embrace their inner Wendy McElroy.

          • zic

            Beleiving I’m supposed to feel traumatized about something because it fits someone’s expansive definition of rape would probably make me even more miserable.

            Who says you’re supposed to feel traumatized, Theresa Klein?

            You accused me of being emotionally immature, and yet you seem to think this is about you and personal weakness instead of individuals who might actually be traumatized? The whole point of acknowledging PTSD is that it changes the brain,

            Please read that link.

          • Theresa Klein

            I’m sure there are people who are actually traumatized, though I doubt that the average drunk date-rape experience is really the sort of think that warrents a safe space for people to have PTSD flashbacks in.

          • Tim O’Keefe

            Wait, it doesn’t “warrant” a safe space? Because in your opinion somebody should not feel all that traumatized in that case?

          • Theresa Klein

            It’s more that saying “You might need a safe space to attend this lecture” sends a message that you expect most college women, who have likely had relatively mild experiences, are too emotionally fragile to handle someone questioning rape statistics.
            And really everyone here is expressing the same vaguely-mysogynistic attitude. “How do you know there aren’t some women who would have PTSD like experiences during this talk?” Doesn’t EVERYONE know that rape is such a horrifying traumatizing experience for most women that they all immediately break down and want to slit their wrists as soon as someone mentions the word? Hlow can we seriously expect them to sit through a lecture without running away to a separate room to have a cry?
            You people don’t see how subtly mysogynistic that attitude is?

          • TracyW

            I’m sure there are people who are actually traumatized, though I doubt that the average drunk date-rape experience is really the sort of think that warrents a safe space for people to have PTSD flashbacks in.

            A couple of points:,
            Firstly, the use of the word “average” implies that about about half of drunk date rape experiences were worse than average.
            Secondly: why on earth do you think that the mere fact that you have doubts means anything? Zic has told you a story of trauma, and pointed you in research, and you show no signs of having done any research at all to justify your doubts about other people’s experiences, all you’ve done is rattle on about your own unsupported statements about what everyone should be feeling. You’re putting about zero intellectual effort into this. You may as well run around telling people that you doubt that 2+2 = 4.

          • Theresa Klein

            Look I know enough about PTSD already that I don’t need to read the links. I just do not believe there are that many college students who have experienced sufficiently bad experiences to cause PTSD. I especially do not believe that the sort of “assaults” we hear about where the woman is drunk and doesn’t explicitly say yes is the sort of thing that causes PTSD in the first place.
            And the point of the article is that starting with the attitude that if someone gets drunk and doesn’t say “yes” that they are going to have PTSD as a result is itself mysogynistic. We need to stop presuming that every bad sexual experience is going to result in severe psychological trauma.

          • TracyW

            If you have some statistics on this, as opposed to merely your beliefs, please share them.

          • Frau From Fly-Over USA

            You can sit down now, MRA troll account.

          • TracyW

            And that may well be true for you. Doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone.

            The idea that everyone thinks and feels the same is an idea I’m used to hearing from left-wing statist types.

      • TracyW

        This safe space wasn’t just there for actual rape survivors, it was there for people who can’t handle having statistics questioned.

        Sure. No obligation to use the safe space. Rape survivors who didn’t blink an eye at questioning of statistics were not rounded up and made to attend the room.

        Universities tend to be like that: they provide accommodations for people who are learning how to do things. Not perfectly tailored, of course, sometimes people have to re-do things they already knew how to do, and sometimes people get in above their heads, but, well, for example the university I went to permitted students who had done a physics degree to do an engineering degree while skipping the first two years, as they figured the physics graduate could handle the maths.

        Providing a safe room for people who couldn’t handle having their statistics collected strikes me as much better than the recommendation of some people on this thread that the people in question just avoid the topic entirely and hide in their dorm rooms.

      • JoshInca

        Perhaps you should stick with sucking your thumb while watching puppy videos then.

  • Greg Diderich

    My wife pointed out that adult coloring books is a “thing” now. And as far as I know, other things like playdoh and puppy movies could be as well. As a 40 year old male, I view those things as infantile, but to a hip young cool person, it could be as adult as reading a book is to me…Consider, back when I was in college, 40 year old dudes considered video games to be “infantile”, yet there I was, feeling very adult, playing mortal combat.

    Point is, my wife tempered me somewhat on jumping to the conclusion that this was belittling the students. Doing coloring books may very well be what they’d be doing in their dormroom if they never even saw the speaker…I have no idea what is “cool” now. So setting up a chill room with whatever the cool kids are doing these days, for people with ptsd to get some informal group therapy, isn’t all that big of a deal. Maybe.

    • Frau From Fly-Over USA

      But grown men dressing up in superhero costumes and grouping together at a comic con is perfectly adult, am I correct?

      • Greg Diderich

        ?? I’m sorry, when did i get appointed official “adult” judge?

    • Rudabah2

      Young women at College can do what you can’t- viz conceive and deliver a baby.
      Babies are great. Real Men really like them. True, they beat the shite out of potential rapists and child molesters but, if the supply of real men fails coz Mortal Combat has atrophied your muscles, then Brennan is right.
      Not colouring books but Kalakshinovs ought to be financed by de-funding his Professorship.

  • Bob
  • urstoff

    Does anyone have PTSD so severe that the mere presence of a speaker on campus causes them major emotional distress? And if they do, wouldn’t the best cure to that be concentrated behavioral therapy rather than safe spaces that resemble a pre-school class?

    • Frau From Fly-Over USA

      We have these support systems for veterans. What exactly is it about women who have experience a traumatic and damaging event such as sexual assault that gets ‘libertarian’ men so upset? Keepers of the status quo. Women deserve their suffering, suck it up, suffer in silence, alone. That’s basically what you are implying

      • urstoff

        Support systems as in safe spaces when a speaker comes to town that they don’t like? The vast majority of campuses have mental health services that can help people genuinely suffering from PTSD whatever the cause. These types of stunts, however, are overtly political. You never see “safe spaces” set up when some speaker that they agree with comes to campus to talk about sexual assault.

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  • rudabah2

    ‘Read Nietzsche on pity: when you pity someone like this, you degrade that person.’

    Nietzsche was vastly more ignorant than us and finally he went mad. Yet, he is the Van Gogh of philosophers. We pity him. Pity teaches us what nothing else can- there is beauty in madness- even that of Kant.
    Vide-
    ‘Gerhard Lehmann observes, in the first fascicle, Kant’s retreat, caused by his declining health, from the discursive development of an argument. Instead, Kant concentrates “more and more on one point,” by incessantly redefining Transcendental Philosophy. A series of redefinitions that, as Lehmann puts it, finally become “enigmatic” when Kant determines Transcendental Philosophy as “galvanism” (AA XXI, 133, 135) and comes to see its principle in “Zoroaster” (AA XXI, 156).(27)’

    Sex, for males or females, is most rewarding when it involves a recovery of innocence- an Edenic attitude to all Life.

    Neoteny- as Socially facilitated- has been a very successful strategy for our species.

    Why should it now carry the stigma of ‘disrepect’?

    Because Jason Brennan says so?

    That too ,while, in a wholly illiterate fashion, invoking that failed Philologist Nietzsche?

    What, actually, is his argument?

    Unbelievably, it is that he fears someone will speak thus to him-
    ‘Jay, I know that you were born to a poor single mom. I don’t want you to feel like your own experience is being invalidated, so I put some tinker toys and bunny videos in my office. Feel free to hang out there while the big scary speakers are speaking.”
    Brennan doesn’t mention this, but- obviously- he is too weak to punch his interlocutor in the gut. Nor does he have any friends- every other Academic shyster on BHL cleraly being a weakling and a coward- to do any serious damage to anyone who wants to bully our Brennan.
    This is why this ‘Bleeding Heart Libertarian’ says-
    ‘I wouldn’t feel supported by my colleague, but insulted, and rightly so. My colleague might care about me, but at the same time, she is expressing (whether she intends to or not) that I am a pathetic weakling, who is bad at reasoning, who is traumatized by discussions of demographic statistics.’

    But, Brennan Baby, if anybody can bully you and confine you to a play-pen, demographic statistics aint the issue. You will have no access to them. If you stop saying ‘gaaa-gaa, goo-goo’ you will be beaten to death.

    Disrespect has to involve a violation of rights- otherwise it is you talking tripe to yourself, nothing more.

    • rudabah2

      To be clear, Brennan, here as elsewhere, is playing fast and loose with the true foundations of Libertarianism which has no difficulty in incorporating a metric of defeasible violence.
      Sadly, in this post, he has chosen to target the future mothers of the community.
      It is important that they both get every type of education while being reminded that they are WHOLLY EXEMPT from Thymotic violence.
      Male rape is a qualitatively different matter. It can motivate the acquisition of fighting skills sufficient to justify inclusion in a purely Contractarian Community.

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  • Harry Heller

    Excellent analysis, but it avoids the real issue, which is political and cultural power. The feminists are at war with “patriarchy” (something which I believe in, at least in a modest, non-abusive form – every advanced enduring society has been patriarchal; this is merely rooted in biology, not “oppression”). They want to use every form of coercion to remold society in ways which favor them, and “disprivilege” people like me (same with the multiculturalists – ie, minority racists). There is no reason at all why normal people should coddle these freaks and losers (same with illegal aliens, same with minority thugs violently resisting their proper arrest, same with homosexuals expecting us to overturn millennia of marriage tradition in order to accommodate their “orientation”, etc).

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