Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sometimes its ok to use stereotypes

I read a blogpost today regarding the idea of Schroedinger's Rapist.  This essentially says that a woman approaching a man in an unsafe place can't know if that man is dangerous and thus should treat him as dangerous.  For some reason men seem to think that this is sexist for women to assume that men are dangerous without knowing.  Perhaps this is sexist but regardless I would say its a smart practice and women should do it.

To convince any men who doubt me of this let me use a little reductio ad absurdum.  For those of you who don't know this argument let me explain.  Reductio ad absurdum is simply the process of taking an argument to its extreme sometimes absurd conclusions.  The point is to show that the other person doesn't agree with the extreme application and thus the rule itself must either be false or at least partially incorrect.

So, I want to show that most men would want women to assume men are dangerous whether or not its sexist.  Imagine your closest female relative.  Perhaps your daughter, perhaps your sister, perhaps your cousin, perhaps your mother.  Now imagine she just met a girl who seems nice and was invited back to that girls house.  She calls you and asks if she should go.  I would assume most men would say sure, that doesn't sound too bad.  But imagine that she actually just met a man, talked to him for a few minutes and he invited her back to his house.  Again she calls you.  Do you tell her to go or not go.  I would think any reasonable man would say not to go just to be safe regardless of whether it is sexist.

I think most men don't like the assumption that men are dangerous because they are offended that someone might just presume they are dangerous.  If I know I am a good person but someone just assumes I am dangerous that does seem to be a bit offensive.  Thus, I can understand this sentiment somewhat.  But if you turn the issue around to the much bigger concern of safety then I think most men would agree its a good idea for women to assume an unknown man might be dangerous.

Statistically speaking a woman is much more likely to be attacked by a man than another woman.  Only an idiot doesn't pay attention to statistics when it comes to safety.  If I find out that an airline has a 10% crash rate I won't fly that airline, I'll pick one with a lower crash rate.  Likewise, no woman should have to gamble with her health in order to avoid being sexist.

I don't know perhaps my argument is sexist, but you know what, its also sensible.

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