Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘#MeToo

Me too four

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As a follow-up to Me too three, where I write “not yet proof that more legislation will come”:

SVT teletext now claims:

Regeringen lägger ett förslag till ny sexualbrottslag redan före jul, lovade jämställdhetsminister Åsa Regnér (S) vid måndagens riksdagsdebatt om metoo- uppropet.

(The cabinet* will propose a new sex-crime law even before Christmas, equality minister/secretary Åsa Regnér (social democrats) promised during Monday’s parliamentary debate on the metoo call-to-action.)

*Translating the Swedish “Regering(en)” is a bit tricky, especially with terminology and systems differing from country to country. In a U.S. context, “administration” might be a term more likely to be used; however, possibly, mostly because of differences in system.

In other words, my fears of rushed through and potentially* damaging legislation are coming true. (And, yes, these fears were a strong motivator behind my previous post, on “noble causes”.) I note that nothing has actually changed over the last few months that makes new legislation beneficial: Either it would have been beneficial six months ago or it is not beneficial today. The only thing “me too” has achieved is to cause a political momentum and an opportunity for politicians to look good and to further their own agendas. I might go as far as doubting that even a parliamentary debate was called for—politics should not deal with hype topics on social media, it should deal with genuine societal concerns. (To which I note, again, that things have changed only with regard to the former, not the latter.)

*To judge this in detail, I will have to await the actual proposal—but the obsession of Swedish politics with men as evil-doers and women as victims leaves me pessimistic. I will possibly follow-up on this later, once the details are known. Obviously, all of this post must be read with the caution that details are lacking.

In as far as legislation is needed, it must not be rushed in this manner. Legislation should be thought-through and well-researched. In a situation like this, it can safely be assumed that the cabinet does not have sufficient own expertise, making calls for third-party input necessary*. In areas, like this one, where the daily life of a great many people can be affected, extra care should be taken; especially, to ensure that no measures do more harm than do good when everyone is considered.

*Unfortunately, knowing Swedish politicians, these calls would likely just consist in asking a few professors of gender studies for their (predictable and predictably misandrist) input. The principle still holds.

Förslaget kommer att innehålla både samtycke och oaktsamhet, samt skärpt straff för vissa sexualbrott.

(The proposal will contain* both consent and negligence**, as well as increased punishment for certain sex crimes.)

*The unfortunate and ambiguous formulation is present in the original. The actual intention is, almost certainly, that the proposal will address issues of whether consent exists between the involved parties (or what constitutes consent) and whether sufficient care (of some form) was taken.

**The use of “negligence” for “oaktsamhet” is correct in most contexts; however, it is possible that something different was intended here (possibly “carelessness” or “lack of consideration”). For want of details, I must speculate.

This could be an attempt to push through disproportional and unrealistic consent laws, or result in men being put in an unreasonable situation. Cf. the almost absurd take on sexual harassment that is present in many U.S. organizations, or how some schools call for verbal (!) consent every ten minutes (!). Also note that some Swedish “sex crimes” are actually Orwellian sexcrimes*.

*Cf. e.g. the situation around Julian Assange, who was accused of “rape” based on alleged events that in no reasonable country could have been considered rape (notwithstanding the possibility of another crime); or the absurd legislation on prostitution.

Det var en debatt som enbart fördes av kvinnor och sällan har enigheten varit så stor mellan partierna, vilket Åsa Regnér också lyfte fram som särskilt värdefullt. Genom Metoo-rörelsen har många kvinnor vittnat om övergrepp och sextrakasserier.

(It was a debate by women only and rarely has the unity between the parties been this large, which Åsa Regnér pointed to as particularly valuable. Through the Metoo movement, many women have testified about abuse and sexual harassment.)

That the debate was women only is inexcusable, a gross violation of democratic processes and a dangerous precedent: What is next? That only women are allowed to vote on certain issues?** To call this “valuable” demonstrates a complete unsuitability for any cabinet role. Unity might be good, but firstly there is a fair chance that this would have looked differently, had men been allowed*, secondly, considering how little has actually changed, this unity is more likely a sign of irrationality.

*Effectively, the participants are pre-filtered in a way that distorts the implications of consent and dissent. Similarly, a debate with only the immigrant MPs from the various parties might show a pseudo-consensus on some immigration issue that does not match the overall views of the respective parties. Ditto, a debate on property taxes with only property owning MPs. Etc.

**I note e.g. that the German “Green party” has a fair bit of internal regulations one-sidedly favoring women when it comes to voting, including optional women-only votes. The fear is by no means absurd.

As repeatedly stated, none of the testimony has actually given reason to re-evaluate the scope of existing problems, making the second sentence* useless filler, especially since no SVT reader could reasonably be unaware of the campaign. Cf. also Me too two; and also note problems like ignoring that the direction is often the opposite (female-on-male instead of male-on-female) or the inclusion of flawed examples (e.g. due to misunderstandings, overreactions, made up accusations).

*From context, it is not entirely clear whether this sentence should be attributed to something Regnér said; or whether it is SVTs words only.


Written by michaeleriksson

December 11, 2017 at 6:48 pm

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Me too three

with one comment

I have repeatedly written about both the “me too” phenomenon (cf. [1], [2]) and the low-quality and/or feminist dominated reporting by SVT teletext (cf. e.g. [3]).

On the 5th of December, there was another series of disproportionally many “metoo” and/or sex abuse pages present on this highly partisan news services, most featuring prominently, at the very beginning of the listing. I kept these pages temporarily open for a discussion of this problematic development, only to find that on my next visit (earlier today, the 8th) another two pages, again at the very beginning, had been published. The entries from both days are listed below*.

*Swedish original, translation in round brackets, my comment in English outside of brackets. The texts have been compressed to what I want to emphasize; I admit to some sloppiness with the indication of cut-outs. (But note that the texts were similarly short to begin with, this being teletext.)

I note that we are now approaching a point where these campaigns can have a massive detrimental impact on society, because panicking or populist politicians and officials use them as a basis for various measures, potentially including more misguided laws (something Sweden already has more than its share of).


Konstnärer i metoo-upprop

(Artists in metoo call-to-action)

I DN skriver kvinnor, trans- och ickebinära personer inom konstnärs- sfären om sexuella övergrepp och

(Women, trans- and non-binary-[sic!] persons within the artistic sphere write about sexual abuse and harassment in [leading morning news paper].)

Note that there is no mention of men as victims, well in accordance with feminist narratives (and not the least in accordance with reality).

[…]kräver att alla konstens institutioner förändrar sina strukturer för att aktivt motverka sexuellt förtryck och övergrepp.

([…] demands that all the art’s institutions [institutions of the arts?] change their structures to actively counter sexual oppression [sic!] and abuse. )

Note the massive interventions, with little actual presumed benefits, this would imply. Also note the “oppression of women by men” narrative implied by the formulation used.

Facken: “Metoo får konsekvenser”

(Unions: “MeToo will have consequences”)

Samtidigt uppger majoriteten av både fackförbunden och arbetsgivarna att de inte fått inte in fler anmälningar efter metoo.

(At the same time, the majority of both unions and employers assert that they have not [sic!] received more reports [about abuse and whatnot] after meetoo.)

Proving my point that the large Twitter campaigns have no actual effect on what happens or has happened in reality. That people tweet about abuse does not increase the amount of abuse actually present. To boot, this could be an indication that the scope of the problems was already known and/or that the campaigns do nothing to increase the probability of additional reports.

Riksdagen debatterar sexövergrepp

(Parliament debates sexual abuse)

-Ingen kan längre blunda för hur problemen med sexuella trakasserier och övergrepp skär genom hela samhället. Nu måste vi i politiken komma med lösningar, säger V-ledaren Jonas Sjöstedt.

(-Noone can be ignorant of how the problems with sexual harassment and abuse cuts through society. Now we politicians must provide solutions, says [the leader of the former communist party])

I beg to differ, cf. [2]. Nothing has changed except for a populist campaign, and having politicians act on panic making and currently popular issues is exactly the wrong thing to do. (I have plans for a future post on this topic.)

Förskolor ombyggda efter sexbrott

(Pre-schools reconstructed [rebuilt?, renovated?] after sex crime)

Samtliga Kristianstads förskolor har byggts om efter avslöjandet som kom 2015 att en 40-årig barnskötare i Kristianstads vikariepool hade förgripit sig på ett 20-tal barn, rapporterar SVT Skåne.

(All [sic!] the pre-schools in Kristianstad have been reconstructed after the revelation that a 40 y.o. care-taker in the cities temp pool had abused twenty-something children, according to [local news].)

Massive changes caused by a single perpetrator. That this is an unfounded panic reaction is proved by the fact that the presence of this single individual does not make it anymore likely that there will be more perpetrators in Kristianstad than in, say, Linköping—or in Kristianstad when the schools were originally built. If measures were needed, they should not be restricted to Kristianstad. The only real Kristianstad connection in the decision making is the local fear, which is unfounded in as far as it larger than in other cities.

Nu finns fönster på toaletterna, sköt- bord där alla kan se dem och total- förbud för privata mobiltelefoner.

(Now there are windows on the toilets, changing tables where everyone can see them, and a complete ban on private mobile phones.)

The first two items could reduce the children’s privacy and give those liking to look at naked children better opportunities… The third is an idiotic misstep, reducing individual rights for no relevant reason. On the outside, one could conceive of a ban against cameras (and by implication mobiles with a camera); however, there are mobiles without cameras, any pictures taken could be useful evidence in case of new offenses, and the earlier text makes no mention of taking pictures as the crime—based on the formulation physical sexual abuse must be assumed, and a ban on mobiles does nothing to prevent this. Then there is the question of how much this has cost…

(In addition there were several other entries that could potentially have been included for reasons of a political correctness rather than actual news worthiness, e.g. relating to child marriage and gay marriage.)

8th (single two-pager):

Ministern om metoo: Handlar om makt

(Minister about metoo: About power)

An obvious variation of the feminist “rape is about power” drivel that presumes to tell the perpetrators why they did what they did and forces events into a feminist narrative.

[longer discussion of talks between politicians and industry/unions]

-Det finns en ny lagstiftning från 1 januari i år, att alla arbetsplatser ska ha ett förebyggande och främjande arbete när det gäller att motverka diskriminering, förklarade Johansson.

(-There is new legislation the 1st of January this year, that all work places must have a preemptive and [encouraging? benefiting?] work for countering discrimination, explained [minister of labor market issues; formerly communist, current social-democrat])

Fortunately, this not yet proof that more legislation will come, but it is a clear sign that a. people like her consider legislation on the issues important, b. legislation does not provided a miracle cure.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 8, 2017 at 6:28 pm

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Me too two

with 2 comments

Recently, I wrote about the negative phenomenon of people not standing up when it matters and when there is some personal risk involved, only to jump on the band-wagon when everyone else is already on-board—when one more protester does not matter and when a combination of safety “through being the main stream” and safety in numbers makes the danger negligible.

My discussion naturally touched on the “#MeeToo” campaign, but mostly through its relation to the Harvey Weinstein situation and the ensuing set of more specific accusations (i.e. those that did not involve e.g. a “I too have been molested”, but a “[name of VIP] is a sexual molester”).

Since then, I have grudgingly* come to ponder the “#MeeToo” campaign and its off-shots, themselves, as a problem: We already have a massive problem with anti-male prejudice, and the risk that these will feed this prejudice and open additional opportunities for feminist propagandists is considerable, especially in the form of unfortunate legislation, costly and unnecessary programs, more indoctrination in schools, whatnot, directed at “protecting women”, “stopping male aggression”, “creating safe environments”, … I note e.g. that SVT teletext has been obsessed with reporting on and lauding these campaigns, continuing its unjournalistic agenda pushing.

*In principle, there is nothing wrong with people sharing their experiences; problems should certainly not be swept under the carpet; and there can be positive side-effects of a cathartic or “I am not alone” character.

But are not all of these tweets and whatnots proof that there is a severe problem that needs to be addressed? Almost certainly not; although there can be specific areas or individuals that need investigations or counter-measures. Consider e.g.:

  1. The impression caused by even thousands of legitimate complaints can be misleading. Just in Sweden alone there might be some four million women old enough that they now or in the past were potential victims (even discounting pedophiles): If we assume that even just one single woman in one thousand actually had something happen, well, that is potentially four thousand legitimate complaints right there—even assuming a scope of the problem that is negligible.

    Raw numbers are rarely important—what really counts is the proportion. Unfortunately, a Twitter campaign tell us very little about the proportions.

  2. The range of the complaints is enormous, from rape to a casual unwanted touch to behavior* considered in some sense “misogynist” or “discriminatory”. (I stress that I have not investigated the proportions among the complaints; however, it is very important to understand that not all complaints are equal in their magnitude. This especially in the light of how feminists often distort the world through gathering statistics using a loose definition and then use that statistic in a way that makes the inexperienced believe that a strict definition applied.)

    *Which is often bullshit to begin with, e.g. through incorrectly attributing something to misogynism because it happened to a woman, where a man in the same situation would have been treated the same, or where the cause was the woman’s own behavior.

  3. Not all complaints will be legitimate, with problems including both fakes* and misunderstandings**. For instance, I once sat next to a female colleague during a Christmas party, on rotating bar stools without a back, and with a very large radius. I had my hand resting on the end of her stool, well away from touching her—but she squirmed back and forth until she had rotated the stool almost half-way around. At this point, without any actions on my behalf, suddenly there was contact—and she promptly complained. (Notably, the same woman took every occasion to press her legs against mine under the lunch table… Female hypocrisy at its best.)

    *Apart from false accusations for some gain, there are those who want to say “me too” to fit in, or even, in truly perfidious case, to “help the cause”. I note e.g. that there are some groups of feminist extremists that see having been raped as a virtual union card—either you have been raped and will be taken seriously; or you have not and should just your mouth and listen while the adults talk.

    **The risk of a misunderstanding is of course the larger the more trivial the incident. Cf. the examples given.

    To boot, there is a genuine chance that a man touches a woman (or vice versa) in a friendly and non-sexual manner, and likely would have touched a man the same way. If someone starts with the assumption that any contact is of a sexual nature, there can be quite a few misunderstandings—and, indeed, it is not uncommon for men to not touch women for that reason*. Similarly, there are constellations (e.g. male trainer–female athlete) where some degree of “professional” touching is to be expected, possibly even necessary.

    *Sometimes to the disadvantage of the women: I once read a news-paper article about a paradoxical situation from some type of survey: The (male) professors occasionally touched their male doctoral candidates in a fatherly manner, e.g. through an arm over the shoulder. They deliberately refrained from doing so with the female candidates, for fear of harassment complaints—making some female candidates feel left out and wishing that they would receive the same fatherly attentions…

    And then there are pure accidents… For instance, I have on several occasions had women* unwittingly* grace my crotch in the subway (in non-crowded situations); and once managed to do the same to a male colleague. For instance, I was once crouching down in a train to gather my luggage, was sent flying by a sudden jerk of the train—and ended up hugging the upper legs of a teenage girl who stood directly in my path. (I do not embarrass easily, but that really left me red-faced.)

    *I recall no instance of a man, possibly because of better awareness of environment or differences in height. (Or imperfect memory on my behalf…) However, from context I still consider the “unwittingly” part overwhelmingly likely.

  4. There has been a strong focus on male-on-female situations. However, in my personal* experiences as an adult**, female-on-male situations are not only common, but actually more common, especially in the form of leg touching. This includes quite a few situations in trains that were at best annoying, at least one which was physically uncomfortable due to the lack of leg space, and one somewhat funny***; as well as several female colleagues (including the one mentioned above) and co-eds. Not all of these have been unwelcome, obviously; but most left me neutral to negative, and some of them I could really have done without, as when I went for a few beers with my then team and a female colleague with a disgustingly flabby leg spent half the evening rubbing it against mine.

    *I make no claim of having or being a representative sample, but factoring in (cf. the examples given) that I hardly ever visit bars and the like, have few female colleagues, and had a low proportion of co-eds in college, I would be surprised if my experiences were out of the ordinary.

    **The school years were a different story altogether.

    ***I was sitting in a group with some (unknown) women, who obviously had had a few drinks. One was leaning over and patting one of her friends on the knee while talking—and at some point she shifted her hand half-a-foot to the right and to my knee… Not necessarily a great story, but I had a hard time not laughing at the time: She was nowhere near drunk enough to have that severe coordination problems and the sequence makes a mere “I grab what I like” unlikely, leaving me with the impression that she (very incorrectly!) thought that she was doing something clever and discreet.

With the above, beware of simplistic counter-arguments like “even one X is one X too much”: It is unfortunate that bad things happen, and the world would be better if the did not all other things equal. However, we have to consider other factors, notably side-effects of any counter-measures and the opportunity costs incurred. Measures taken in this area will almost unavoidably dig into the rights of the innocent, make work-place* interactions more tense (and reduce the opportunities for work-place romance** considerably), open roads for abuse (notably false accusations), cost employers money, … Look no further than today’s U.S. colleges to see where such interventions have actually lead. To boot: Shit happens all the time, to many people and for many reasons; and it is not realistic, nor even a good idea, to try to prevent all of it through government intervention (or measures of a similar scope)—and why would X be worse than Y or Z?

*For the sake of simplicity, I limit myself to the work-place here; with minor modifications the same will hold true in many other contexts.

**I personally advice against work-place romance, irrespective of such problems: There are simply too many other complications that can ensue, both while the relationship is on-going and once it has ended. Nevertheless, it is quite common, and chances are that there would be fewer families around without it.

As an aside, this shows that tools like Twitter can be potentially dangerous when combined with the broad masses, “herd mentality”, etc. (I am playing with the thought of a dedicated post, but if it happens it will likely be fairly far into the future, due to the over-average amount of preparation needed.)

Written by michaeleriksson

December 2, 2017 at 2:46 am

Me too, and me too, and me too, and me too, …

with 4 comments

A common, by now unimaginative and hackneyed, scene in U.S. television and movies shows a person of authority (e.g. a principal) about to swoop down on a protagonist (e.g. a teacher) for some perceived sin (e.g. being unconventional or homosexual) in front of a group of comparatively powerless people (e.g. a school class). Suddenly, one brave soul from among the powerless steps forward in the protagonist’s defense. A long tense pause follows, and then another voices his support. A second tense pause, a little shorter this time—and another supporter. After a third pause, quite short this time, another one or two supporters declare themselves—and then the rest of the group cannot join fast enough.

Such scenes are a good illustration of what makes me greatly troubled by the “me too”* take on showing support, admitting something, pointing out culprits, … To take a more real-life example: Someone who stood up for gays or came out of the closet in 1977** was doing something brave, not just risking condemnation by his peers but quite possibly exposing himself to physical danger—and very few did. In 1987 things had changed a bit, but the area was at best highly controversial, and standing up or coming out could still be a major contribution—made by comparatively few. By 1997, homosexuality had gone a long way towards losing its stigma and was not a very big deal for large parts of the younger generations, but was not yet a mainstream phenomenon; standing up or coming out could still contribute, but far less than earlier, and was far less dangerous—and a reasonably large number of people did. In 2007, homosexuality was well in the main stream, nay-sayers were frowned upon, and people were coming out in droves***. 2017? We are now at a point where heterosexuals are more likely to have to explain themselves, where a TV show without at least on homosexual character feels like the exception, where objections towards “gay marriage”**** brings out the villagers with torches and pitch-forks , …—and still there are people jumping on the “me too” band-wagon, protesting how much must be done against “intolerance”, and seeing themselves as the brave heroes or enlightened minority.

*Apart from the correct phrase almost always being “I too” or even “and I”, but that correction would not mash well with the latter parts of this post.

**The years and implications will vary with geography and should not be taken as more than illustration of the principle—certainly not as an historically accurate overview. (I suspect that the text holds reasonably well for e.g. large parts of the U.S., however.)

***In my impression, those who remained in the closet often either had concerns relating to specific individuals, e.g. a parent with a known aversion, or were held back by (possibly justified) reasoning like “my boss would probably be OK with it, but if he is not then my career could be set back considerably”.

****Another unfortunate phrase.

Sorry, band-wagon-eers: By now you are not heroes, you are sheeple who just follow the main-stream without an ounce of courage. For celebrities, the suspicion of cheap attention seeking has to be added. In 1997 you might have had my respect—and you definitely would have in 1977. Today, I might go as far as seeing you as part of a problem…

A particularly interesting recent example is the situation around Harvey Weinstein and the “#MeToo” Twitter campaign, paralleled, if on a lesser scale, by a number of more individual cases in the past (e.g. the accusations against Bill Cosby):

Allegedly*, Weinstein has a very long history of sexual abuse towards actresses. Yet, until very recently, this was not public knowledge and no-one seemed to publicly care—the more surprising, since the list of actresses includes quite a few women of considerable success**. Even if worst came to worst and raising accusations actually became a career ender***, these are not people who would see themselves living off food-stamps. Why did none of them try to cause a stir in the past? If what happened to them was that bad, why did none of them try to protect the next generation of actresses from the same experiences?

*I have seen somewhat conflicting claims to what he has and has not admitted and do not wish make any assertions in either direction. See the below discussion on presumption of innocence, however.

**I can understand very well if a barely adult actress at the very beginning of her career chooses to not speak up. Neither, apparently, were they all in that situation, nor did all of them remain in that situation.

***And not leaving the career untouched or even giving it a boost through the extra publicity and courage shown, which might or might not have been the case.

Then, earlier this year, allegedly after decades of misbehavior, the news breaks—and we are inundated with “me too” claims. Real courage there…

Now, I lack the detail knowledge of what (allegedly or not) happened in any specific case, and I have no psychic powers enabling me to understand what motivated each of these individual women. However, there are a number of conceivable scenarios in which actresses come off as bad as Weinstein. For instance, allegedly a number of them accepted hush money to keep quite about their experiences—willingly taking into account that others would later find themselves in the same situation… (And possibly committing breach of contract by later coming forward despite taking the money.)

Excursion on behavior as a result of feedback: A particularly problematic point is that in situations like these a lack of sufficient or sufficiently early protest could have strongly contributed to the problem. Such behaviors are highly unlikely to continue for a prolonged time unless the benefits outweigh the costs for the perpetrator. With too little protest or too much success, it is even possible that he fails to realize that certain behaviors are inappropriate. Consider two situations: In the one, nine out of ten women remain uncooperative but silent and the tenth gives him a blow-job. In the other, the tenth sends a knee to his groin. In which of these situations will we see what long-term behaviors? What self-perception and perception of own behavior? Humans are not rats in a lab—but some aspects can be quite similar. (More generally, much of intersex interactions is driven by past experiences. Consider e.g. a rich and famous athlete who is used to women wanting to be with him. He might, especially when not among the brightest, not interpret a negative reaction correctly. Or take the guy with the sleazy pick-up line that instantly turned a given woman off: Chances are that it does work with sufficiently many other women that it pays for him to keep using it…)

Excursion on presumption of innocence: A very disturbing secondary element of the recent waves of accusations is that people are being fired, outright fired, based merely on the accusations. This leads us to a very dangerous territory of deliberate false* accusations for reasons like personal gain or revenge: Jack and Jill compete for the same promotion—good-bye Jack, congratulations Jill. Jack is Jill’s boss and (rightfully) fires her for incompetence—goody-bye Jack, welcome back Jill. Jack voted for Trump and Jill is in tears over Hillary’s failure—good-bye Jack, chin-up Jill. Etc. It is of paramount importance that such drastic actions only be taken in clear-cut cases (e.g. after a confession or a conviction), and that, for interim measures, the interests of the accused are given due concern.

*While this is not a behavior that I would expect from the average woman, there are enough non-average women who would resort to such tactics. Common feminist claims like “a woman would never lie about rape” or “a woman would never lie about her children being abused” are demonstrably (and very…) false—and the lie is often calculated, e.g. to avoid a revelation of infidelity or to gain the upper hand in a divorce. Some previous discussion and links to other sources are present on [1], [2].

Written by michaeleriksson

November 23, 2017 at 5:53 pm