Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

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Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by The Wisp on Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:55 pm

Okay, so I posted about this briefly in the Rants thread, but enail correctly pointed out it wasn't appropriate there, so here it goes.

Note: I'm excluding abuse in this, I'm talking about more normal-ish behaviors.

I feel like there's a tendency, at least in the places I hang out in online, to interpret men's behavior in relationships as manipulative tactics, or tactics to avoid doing work, or something to that effect. Meanwhile, it seems that interpreting women's behavior in relationships as manipulative tactics is considered "toxic" and "misogynistic". Saying a woman led a guy on is toxic and uncharitable to her. I generally feel like women's behavior gets more charitable interpretation than men's.

What prompted were two Captain Awkward posts I read last night (in the former LW clarified some things which changed CA's interpretation dramatically, but I'm ignoring that because I didn't know about that either when I first read the post).

I thought CA's interpretations were way too uncharitable. I didn't get at all the same vibes she did about these guys. Like here is how she describes the LW's poly boyfriend (who also has a wife) in the first link:

Perhaps the wife really is “unmotivated” and tends toward people-pleasing, and perhaps you and he are better suited than he and she ever were. Or perhaps he treats you differently than he treats her. Once upon a time he picked her, and her willingness to follow his lead must have worked out okay for him at some point during the last 20 years. I’m not personally in love with this dude and don’t have your awesome history with him, so forgive my skepticism of some things about him or if I’m reminded of Mad Men‘s Don Draper, who in the early seasons pursues affairs with assertive, strong, independent women that he compares favorably against his passive, fragile, “childlike” wife, Betty. It’s sooooooooooooo boring when the person you’ve groomed in every way to please you insists on trying to please you and doesn’t spontaneously develop the ability to assert herself after years of not doing so, amirite? And your partner’s problem isn’t that his wife is already depressed plus being really fucking sad at the prospect of maybe being left, and he feels guilty about that, the problem is that she “doesn’t even know what she wants” and/or most likely has a “textbook” personality defect that y’all can fix together, so he has deputized you as chief researcher/planner of the Kindness Invasion. Huh.

I’ll admit, LW, I like you way more than I like “we”/”him” from this distance.

I thought, "whoa! where the hell did that come from!?!". I still have no idea how she got that from the letter. I honestly didn't have much of an impression of the LW's boyfriend at all. I don't feel like a gender reversed letter would have prompted such a response.

In the second CA post, I agreed totally with the advice to the LW. She shouldn't sleep with the guy she was writing about. But, especially in the comments, there was a lot of talk (and circle jerking... I really wish there was a more dignified word for that, by the way) about the guy manipulating the LW into having sex with him and using her as "an emotional dumping ground" with his "tactics". Whereas my interpretation was the guy was desperate, immature, and confused, but I didn't see him as having some scheme or plan. And again, reverse the genders, and while I bet the advice would be similar, the LW's potential partner wouldn't have been demonized to such a degree.

Then of course there was that recent DNL post where he accused a LW's boyfriend for having a "Madonna/Whore complex" by simply having boundaries (though people in the comments did back me up on that one). Or there's Reddit, where women's male partners whose libidos tank are obviously either cheating or watching too much porn, while men's female partner's EDIT (didn't finish this before >.<): are having emotional issues, or whatever.

(Again, excluding outright abuse, though even then...) It just seems like people are more eager to consider a guy to be manipulative or to be using a woman, rather than just being confused or a poor communicator. On the flipside, people seem to view it as toxic and mean to view a woman that way in terms of how she interacts with men romantically/sexually.

I'm sure I've seen plenty of other examples, though I can't think of anymore at the top of my head.


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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by reboot on Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:43 pm

Hey Wisp, could you find some examples where women are treated less harshly for similar behavior? It is hard to discuss this without them because it is all hypothetical or conjecture. Without examples, no one actually knows how the situation would be addressed if genders were reversed.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:17 pm

AKA Why is men not approaching so controversial?
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by Caffeinated on Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:32 pm

I just read the Captain Awkward letters and comment sections you mentioned, and in those, particularly in #670, I agree with you, Wisp. I found the tone, especially in the comment section, a little jarring and overly harsh. I also get the impression that in that particular comment section, the tone tends to more easily condemn bad behavior in men than in women. However, I don't think it's a universal thing, but more a reflection of the worldview of the people in a given space. I have certainly happened on spaces online where the winds of easy condemnation blow the other direction. I sometimes read things in those spaces and get into a bit of a bad headspace, and then have to make a conscious decision that I would be better off not reading those sites so much and/or at all. Similar things happen in other kinds of discussion online, where a given site/comment section will be very harsh about one side of an issue and more charitable to another side. An example that comes to mind is blogs that deal with writing, where there are some sites that are very rah-rah about indie publishing and harsh about traditional publishing, and other sites that are exactly the reverse. It's the internet echo chamber. It's just so easy for people to find groups of the like-minded, and then the effect of all those people chiming in to say yes they agree with the previous and also here's more, it can get intense.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by azazel on Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:36 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:AKA Why is men not approaching so controversial?

Bad example IMHO, because no one is bothered by men not approaching, so it's not controversial. The 9+'s keep approaching anyway, so every man who doesn't approach is just self-selecting and makes the process easier.

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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by The Wisp on Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:29 pm

reboot wrote:Hey Wisp, could you find some examples where women are treated less harshly for similar behavior? It is hard to discuss this without them because it is all hypothetical or conjecture. Without examples, no one actually knows how the situation would be addressed if genders were reversed.

I guess I'm just running on intuition here. The problem is that I tend to think women get a fair shake most of the time (in the places I frequent), so no specific examples that are relevant would stick in my head. I suppose there might not be much to talk about then, though I'll keep thinking/looking for stuff.

Caffeinated wrote:I just read the Captain Awkward letters and comment sections you mentioned, and in those, particularly in #670, I agree with you, Wisp. I found the tone, especially in the comment section, a little jarring and overly harsh. I also get the impression that in that particular comment section, the tone tends to more easily condemn bad behavior in men than in women. However, I don't think it's a universal thing, but more a reflection of the worldview of the people in a given space. I have certainly happened on spaces online where the winds of easy condemnation blow the other direction. I sometimes read things in those spaces and get into a bit of a bad headspace, and then have to make a conscious decision that I would be better off not reading those sites so much and/or at all. Similar things happen in other kinds of discussion online, where a given site/comment section will be very harsh about one side of an issue and more charitable to another side. An example that comes to mind is blogs that deal with writing, where there are some sites that are very rah-rah about indie publishing and harsh about traditional publishing, and other sites that are exactly the reverse. It's the internet echo chamber. It's just so easy for people to find groups of the like-minded, and then the effect of all those people chiming in to say yes they agree with the previous and also here's more, it can get intense.

Good! I'm not the only one who thought that.

I suppose part of it is CA is like 90% feminist women, so that can reinforce certain biases like that (that you would see the reverse of in a male dominated space).


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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by eselle28 on Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:32 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:AKA Why is men not approaching so controversial?

It's controversial? Really? I occasionally see women griping about men not approaching them in more or less the same way that men gripe about women not responding positively to their approaches. Some of it's toxic and some of it's reasonably healthy venting, but all of it strikes me as the usual complaining about lack of success in dating. Is there some sort of angry backlash against men who don't approach women at all? The typical response I seen from women when men make that sort of statement is indifference.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:38 pm

Agreed. Few lose much sleep over one guy's decision not to approach people he is interested in, because there are plenty of others out there who will....
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by UristMcBunny on Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:39 pm

I think one important thing about the CA site is that it is very markedly Not Like The Main Culture. In addition to which, the specific types of advice CA gives and the type of letters that get answered tend to include a lot of addressing of toxic behaviour, manipulation and predatory behaviour. So the community is going to be primed for that when a letter comes in.

Mostly what I read in the comments for letter 670 is a lot of drawing from past personal experience, a lot of acknowledging that there are certain known, studied patterns of behaviour (all of the stuff they've mentioned about gaslighting, about the "I don't do emotions" logical-person framing, the telling her who he is with words and actions, is known stuff that has been studied and written about in works like Why Does He Do That and The Gift of Fear, so it's stuff that the community there is intimately familiar with for all of the above reasons.

Which means whenever a letter comes in where those things are present, the commentariat is going to pick up on it and comment based on that. There is plenty of not-judging-the-guy commentary - that regardless of his motives or reasons, he quite plainly wants something different to what LW wants and LW is therefore probably better off keeping their distance - it just happens that the outcome is the same as the outcome of the recommendations by the people judging LW. Not fucking him.

The other link, I agree that I found CA's immediate reaction to the letter took a tangent I didn't really see reflected in what the LW wrote. That felt rather assumptiony and I was glad to see CA back up their commentary upon receiving a response from the LW about it.

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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by The Wisp on Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:44 pm

Here's an example, though it is in a different domain than the CA stuff.

The comments in DNL's Kotaku column from Thursday illustrate my point. The first LW was earnestly writing about how to be less passive and more interesting to women. DNL had a good response, but here are some comments in the comments section:

I just treat women like other people and it seems to work pretty well.

You'd be shocked at how much women like being treated like human beings.

You CAN in fact flirt without treating someone like a coin operated pachinko machine, or a goal in a video game. Changing what you say, how you talk about things, topics of conversation, body language are all elements of flirting whilst still treating the object of your affections like a human being is TOTALLY possible.

You sound entitled, you probably aren't, but by reading your letter you seem to think because you have this, this, and that, you deserve this, this, or that. That's part of the problem right now.

I'm confused? Where did these interpretations come from? People just seem to assume guys are assholes until proven otherwise, I guess?

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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by eselle28 on Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:47 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:Agreed. Few lose much sleep over one guy's decision not to approach people he is interested in, because there are plenty of others out there who will....

Err, well, for a woman who gets approached a lot, sure. There are plenty of women who don't get approached much, but I don't see them getting angry when specific men say they're not interested in approaching women. I'm not really sure where you're going with this particular example, but I'm thinking it might not have much to do with the original topic.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by Caffeinated on Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:50 pm

The Wisp wrote:I guess I'm just running on intuition here. The problem is that I tend to think women get a fair shake most of the time (in the places I frequent), so no specific examples that are relevant would stick in my head. I suppose there might not be much to talk about then, though I'll keep thinking/looking for stuff.

I think it's the bolded part that explains why you're seeing what you're seeing. It's easy to think that the places one frequents are an accurate reflection of the whole, but really, they're mostly just an accurate reflection of the kinds of places that the individual in question is likely to frequent. There are a lot of conversations going on out there that are totally invisible from my corner of the internet, or from yours, or from any given person's.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:00 pm

Seems to me it falls pretty cleanly under the parasol of "there's a tendency to interpret men's behavior as tactics to avoid doing work". There's a tendency toward people of any gender to assume that if you haven't been successful then you've done insufficient work, but it does seem to me there's a difference of magnitude in various contexts. In the contexts I'm able to perceive, it's skewed toward putting more burdens on us.

Links are gonna have to wait maybe eight or so hours (I'm using my phone), but basically "how many men have you asked out?" isn't a question (let alone a pointed one) often aimed at women having dating troubles. "Maybe consider asking out that one dude you already know you like, but here are some alternatives" is as close as it usually gets.

Good reasons for that, of course. I've explained and advocated some of them already, myself. It's a tangled, complicated, frustrating problem. It's also the result of a double standard in broader mainstream culture.

I'm taking this position because of what the topic is, not the other way 'round. Wink
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by eselle28 on Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:16 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:Seems to me it falls pretty cleanly under the parasol of "there's a tendency to interpret men's behavior as tactics to avoid doing work". There's a tendency toward people of any gender to assume that if you haven't been successful then you've done insufficient work, but it does seem to me there's a difference of magnitude in various contexts. In the contexts I'm able to perceive, it's skewed toward putting more burdens on us.

Links are gonna have to wait maybe eight or so hours (I'm using my phone), but basically "how many men have you asked out?" isn't a question (let alone a pointed one) often aimed at women having dating troubles. "Maybe consider asking out that one dude you already know you like, but here are some alternatives" is as close as it usually gets.

Good reasons for that, of course. I've explained and advocated some of them already, myself. It's a tangled, complicated, frustrating problem. It's also the result of a double standard in broader mainstream culture.

I'm taking this position because of what the topic is, not the other way 'round. Wink

I disagree. RBS was speaking about people making cruel comments to her, not people asking how many men she's asked out. I think it was very unfair to drag her thread into this one rather than attempt to frame the issue more generally as you did in your second paragraph.

In terms of the second paragraph, I also disagree, at least in terms of that demonstrating that more dating burdens are placed on men. Men who struggle with dating are scrutinized when it comes to how many approaches they've made, as well as a variety of other questions. Women who struggle with dating will generally be asked about how they dress, whether they are overweight, whether they're organizing their social lives so they're in a position to meet men, and whether they've turned down any dates or always agree to give every man a chance. The kinds of work that are suggested to people differ because dating roles are still highly gendered, but as a woman who has difficulties dating, I do not agree that men are asked to take on more burdens. They're asked to take on different burdens - and while you might prefer to have women's dating burdens, I can say that I feel the same way about men's.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by reboundstudent on Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:19 pm

The Wisp wrote:Here's an example, though it is in a different domain than the CA stuff.

The comments in DNL's Kotaku column from Thursday illustrate my point. The first LW was earnestly writing about how to be less passive and more interesting to women. DNL had a good response, but here are some comments in the comments section:

I just treat women like other people and it seems to work pretty well.

You'd be shocked at how much women like being treated like human beings.

You CAN in fact flirt without treating someone like a coin operated pachinko machine, or a goal in a video game. Changing what you say, how you talk about things, topics of conversation, body language are all elements of flirting whilst still treating the object of your affections like a human being is TOTALLY possible.

You sound entitled, you probably aren't, but by reading your letter you seem to think because you have this, this, and that, you deserve this, this, or that. That's part of the problem right now.

I'm confused? Where did these interpretations come from? People just seem to assume guys are assholes until proven otherwise, I guess?

I think they probably come from a long, long history of encountering guys who have those kinds of attitudes when discussing dating among nerds. Put it another way: if you're in a park, and there's a creature with a beak, some feathers, webbed feet, and loves to eat bread, it isn't a jump to conclude it's a duck, even if the park is kind of dark so you can't fully confirm it's a duck. Now maybe you're actually feeding the rare goose that has stumbled into this park, but that doesn't mean your original assumption it's a duck was completely out of line.

Honestly, my read of the letter in Kotaku's Dr. NL rang some "LW sounds slightly entitled" bells to me. He is interested in something very specific, but doesn't seem to have put any work into achieving that goal while more or less expecting that it should be gifted to him. For example, he wants strictly casual sex, but hasn't seemed to develop either a persona that suggests casual sex (as Dr. NL pointed out, his dating techniques are much more aligned with "I want a serious relationship" persona) OR a communication style that can easily articulate his goals.

The reason the first letter kind of set off the bells for me is when the LW uses phrases like "I know that girls don't really care about any of that" or "I don't try to manipulate women into liking me or having sex with me by playing head-games, but at the same time, I know I'm failing because I don't present any sort of challenge to them." I mean, those are some pretty heavy and not-very-flattering assumptions he's making about women. He doesn't seem to be approaching attraction with an open-mind; he seems to think he already has all the answers ("Women only like X"), while simultaneously being mad that he doesn't have some way to break the code. His tendency in the letter to group all women together as a hive-mind and make shallow assumptions about what they like comes across as him not viewing women as people. He even says he doesn't have any game or is a smooth talker, but then quickly jettisons the responsibility onto women by claiming they're a) only talking to him to be polite or b) don't really care about what he has to offer, because they only like "exciting" guys.

I think whether you see men or women getting harsher treatment depends not only what kind of community you're frequenting, but also what topic is coming up. I don't frequently see women get accused of toxic manipulation when she just wants casual sex, but I see it all the time when women want something more traditional like a proposal or marriage. Hell, I've seen women accused of toxic manipulation simply for bringing up the idea of marriage after years of dating. I think the tendency to label someone's motivations as suspect or behavior as problematic/jerky depends very strongly on how much their behavior correlates with a wider gender expectation.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by Enail on Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:21 pm

I think every advice column tends to have its own focus or specialty, such that they see a lot of questions that fit certain patterns, so people commenting on a given advice site have often seen an awful lot of examples of certain patterns, to the point where they can get to reading that pattern into things that don't support it.

Frex, on DNL (prime, mostly), we get (or used to, I haven't seen much of this lately) a fair number of drive-by commenters who are guys who after some back and forth it turns out that they don`t really see women as people so much as affection-and/or-sex dispensers that are malfunctioning, or that they have intense amounts of rage at women which they'll probably need to deal with before they're going to be able to be safe and appealing dates. So I'll get to recognizing certain turns of speech that usually go along with those attitudes and will approach the conversation with the idea that they might be one of those guys before the attitudes show themselves fully - and sometimes I've made that assumption and been wrong (and hopefully I haven't gone around accusing them of those attitudes before being proven wrong! Uh-oh), and their phrasing was an unrelated quirk.  If I was a regular commenter on Dan Savage, say, I'd probably have a different set of assumptions.

I suspect that happens on most advice-based sites,  One hopes it doesn't get too overpowering, but people are human, and I think some degree of this is inevitable. I think a lot of them are rather gendered, which is not unreasonable to some degree since many patterns are rather gendered, but there are some sites where it's a major problem (there are certainly advice sites I've NOPE'd away from because of the kinds of assumptions they jump to about women and I'm sure there must be some that are the same for men), while for others it will be an occasional problem and one has to decide whether the assumptions people jump to and how far they tend to jump are acceptable or if that's a place you don't want to be.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by reboundstudent on Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:23 pm

eselle28 wrote:
In terms of the second paragraph, I also disagree, at least in terms of that demonstrating that more dating burdens are placed on men. Men who struggle with dating are scrutinized when it comes to how many approaches they've made, as well as a variety of other questions. Women who struggle with dating will generally be asked about how they dress, whether they are overweight, whether they're organizing their social lives so they're in a position to meet men, and whether they've turned down any dates or always agree to give every man a chance. The kinds of work that are suggested to people differ because dating roles are still highly gendered, but as a woman who has difficulties dating, I do not agree that men are asked to take on more burdens. They're asked to take on different burdens - and while you might prefer to have women's dating burdens, I can say that I feel the same way about men's.

Yeeeeep. I can post a thread about having difficulties with dating in almost any dating-centric forum on the Internet, and I can guarantee at least one response saying "Well are you overweight? I bet you're fat. I bet you're ugly. I bet you're obese." and yet another response saying "Pics or I don't believe you." (I have to prove I'm ugly, in order for people to believe I don't get asked out/am not doing anything wrong.) Whereas a lot of the guys I see who talk about dating, their description of themselves as attractive or good/bad-looking are taken at face value.

Like I said in my comment above, men and women both get equally scrutinized and burdened, they just get burdened with different things.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by eselle28 on Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:29 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
I think whether you see men or women getting harsher treatment depends not only what kind of community you're frequenting, but also what topic is coming up. I don't frequently see women get accused of toxic manipulation when she just wants casual sex, but I see it all the time when women want something more traditional like a proposal or marriage. Hell, I've seen women accused of toxic manipulation simply for bringing up the idea of marriage after years of dating. I think the tendency to label someone's motivations as suspect or behavior as problematic/jerky depends very strongly on how much their behavior correlates with a wider gender expectation.  

This is a lot closer to what I see as well. Yes, men absolutely get accused of being awful if they're seeking casual sex, no matter how ethically, and men who struggle with dating and who don't typically approach women may very well be accused of being passive or lazy. Those assumptions aren't fair, but I don't think unfair assumptions only affect men. Women are accused of being unfair if they end relationships with men they don't want to marry them, are portrayed as "trapping a man" if they have unplanned pregnancies, are manipulating schemers if they gain weight after entering into a committed relationship, are nags if they insist their partners take on more domestic work, are sluts if they want sex early in a relationship or end one because they're dissatisfied sexually, and are cruel and withholding if they want to postpone having sex or want to have it less often than their partners.

I'm not claiming women have it worse, but I don't think it's correct that men are the only ones who are judged harshly. As you say, I think it depends on the topic and the forum. If someone only reads Captain Awkward and Doctor Nerdlove, then yes, I think they will see men being judged more harshly because those are spaces that are reacting against other tendencies. But there's a lot more to the world and the internet than Captain Awkward and Doctor Nerdlove.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by azazel on Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:12 pm

It would, however, be nice if spaces just admitted to being biased and not pretended to be gender-blind. It's why it's nice that the rules of this forum at least awknowledge a bias.

Just read the letter to Harris on Otaku, and boy what a flame war would've been started if he had suggested to a female poster she shouldn't lead people on by accidentally not being 100% clear.

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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by Wondering on Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:27 pm

The Wisp wrote:Here's an example, though it is in a different domain than the CA stuff.

The comments in DNL's Kotaku column from Thursday illustrate my point. The first LW was earnestly writing about how to be less passive and more interesting to women. DNL had a good response, but here are some comments in the comments section:

I just treat women like other people and it seems to work pretty well.

You'd be shocked at how much women like being treated like human beings.

You CAN in fact flirt without treating someone like a coin operated pachinko machine, or a goal in a video game. Changing what you say, how you talk about things, topics of conversation, body language are all elements of flirting whilst still treating the object of your affections like a human being is TOTALLY possible.

You sound entitled, you probably aren't, but by reading your letter you seem to think because you have this, this, and that, you deserve this, this, or that. That's part of the problem right now.

I'm confused? Where did these interpretations come from? People just seem to assume guys are assholes until proven otherwise, I guess?


Well, first I'd say that I read the beginning of that comment thread, and while the one about women being people was by itself, IIRC, the others were responses to other comments, not directly to the article. So, there's context missing here about where those interpretations came from. I think RBS and enail have summed up rather well where the "women are people" interpretation came from. I got the same feeling from the letter with the sweeping generalizations about women the LW made.

So, while certain sites do have certain attitudes and cultures that surround them, there is also a heavy dose of confirmation bias when noticing things that bother us.

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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by Jayce on Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:50 pm

I agree with you Wisp, that these assumptions do seem to present men as more manipulative assholes. However we are discussing the hypothetical here, these are just some online responses from people who have NEVER even seen the guy or the letter writer. They can only go by what the letter writer tells them. So all of these are just a cold read, it dosen't mean they aren't helpful but it does mean there is a decent possibility for it to be inaccurate since we are only going by words, and what is told to us from one perspective.

So you can take it this way Wisp, the answer is maybe. Maybe the letter writer should consider if the guy is manipulating her for his own selfish gains. It could be a possible cause. And I think it is helpful that she should consider that. It is wise to consider all possibilities. Advice sometimes can be just things we should think about. It isn't always the universal, truthful, go to solution to all problems.

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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by kleenestar on Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:08 pm

I read both articles, and holy Bayesian priors, Batman! I actually don't think CA was unreasonable in either case (though obviously clarifying comment is clarifying). Both letters show patterns that many men use to behave shittily - eg "I don't do emotions (but please take care of mine)." In a vacuum, I'd feel differently, but these things exist in a social context where certain kinds of gendered bullshit are frequent and acceptable. In the absence of full information, I'm going to take prior experiences, patterns, and probabilities into account.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by readertorider on Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:46 pm

The Wisp wrote:Here's an example, though it is in a different domain than the CA stuff [...]

I think the examples I want to see are gender-flipped situations where the same advice columnist is showing a double standard--being nicer to a woman when a man was vilified in the same situation. These will likely be almost impossible to find since every situation is different, but without them it's impossible to untangle the gender from the situation (and even then situations do have different gender expectations).

In CA 661 and 660/ CA gives basically the same advice to people who have a girlfriend or a boyfriend who stops having time for them. In CA 635 tells a guy that his girlfriend is treating him poorly and he has things to seriously consider if he stays in the relationship (she's slightly more gentle than usual, but I think that has more to do with the chronic illness factor than the genders of the people involved).

I very much agree with Bunny in that both CA letters touched on things that frequent visitors to the site would be primed to spot as red flags. In the case of 669, the LW was talking about "helping" someone with a mental illness who did not ask for their help and solve what they saw as a personality defect at the request of the person's husband. Once the LW clarified the situation the captain responded differently. For CA 670 what stood out to me was this bit from the letter:
We’ve left things saying that we’d like to keep doing what we’re doing because it’s fun and he told me I “shouldn’t ruin a good thing with my overthinking."
Which seems a little disingenuous to me considering he is getting what he wants and is then trying to talk talk her out of her doubts and the Captain's cautions seem very reasonable.

I think the dogpiling (there are plenty of other words--see also "Greek Chorus" and "echo chamber") in the comments is a result of 1) LW being young and inexperienced 2) people wanting to share their own bad experiences 3) lack any other way to show agreement beyond making a comment (no "like" button) 4) moderation time gap (people can say the same thing without realizing it because it's still being filtered) and 5) there are plenty of other advice blogs that would tell LW "stop being a prude and go for it!"--if LW wanted that advice she'd write to them, so presumably the opinions of the 'Awkward Army' are valuable to her--and they did contain cautions about their co-worker situation that the captain did not.

Anyway, there may be a bias I can't see and all advice blogs tend to have a bias and certain situations are almost certainly biased because of past history, but in my experience CA is one of the only sites out there that will tell me I can say 'no' to people and plenty of others that will call women terrible names for you (you can google "manipulative women" yourself I'm sure).
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by Guest on Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:08 am

eselle28 wrote:
nearly_takuan wrote:AKA Why is men not approaching so controversial?

It's controversial? Really? I occasionally see women griping about men not approaching them in more or less the same way that men gripe about women not responding positively to their approaches. Some of it's toxic and some of it's reasonably healthy venting, but all of it strikes me as the usual complaining about lack of success in dating. Is there some sort of angry backlash against men who don't approach women at all? The typical response I seen from women when men make that sort of statement is indifference.

The only backlash I've ever personally seen from men not approaching is other men giving their friends or others shit for not approaching when they don't particularly care to. And that's not so much 'backlash' as it is 'bollocks'.

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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

Post by reboot on Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:06 pm

The Wisp wrote:O.....

In the second CA post, I agreed totally with the advice to the LW. She shouldn't sleep with the guy she was writing about. But, especially in the comments, there was a lot of talk (and circle jerking... I really wish there was a more dignified word for that, by the way) about the guy manipulating the LW into having sex with him and using her as "an emotional dumping ground" with his "tactics". Whereas my interpretation was the guy was desperate, immature, and confused, but I didn't see him as having some scheme or plan. And again, reverse the genders, and while I bet the advice would be similar, the LW's potential partner wouldn't have been demonized to such a degree.
.......

The thing is you can be desperate, immature and confused and still manipulative. Manipulation is not often grand scheme, but more maneuvering to get someone to do something for your benefit.

In this case, telling her she was overthinking their situation was manipulative. Any time you tell a person who has doubts about a decision when you stand to benefit if they pick one way that they are overthinking something, you are saying, "Forget your concerns and shut up the voices that are making you hesitate and do what I want." It is pressure to make a decision before the person is ready. Romance, work*, wherever, this is manipulative.

Actually, if you fear being manipulated, your ears should prick up if someone tells you that you are overthinking something. You should stop and think, "What benefit do they gain from the outcome of my decision?" If they do not benefit or if you asked if you are overthinking something, there is no manipulation. If they stand to benefit and are trying to rush your decision, it is manipulation.

* I have seen this a lot in work or contract/supply negotiations. Every time I hear it I know there is something going on that I do not know about and I should delay my decision further. It is a classic tactic to make you feel pressure.
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Re: Reading too much into men's behavior women's, double standards, etc.

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