Denise_Melchin comments on An Exploration of Sexual Violence Reduction for Effective Altruism Potential - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Denise_Melchin 11 November 2017 10:43:23PM *  11 points [-]

Hi Kathy,

as I said before, thank you very much for your research into this! I agree with you that it is an important issue.

I'd be interested to hear about estimates of how much sexual violence lowers quality of life compared to other issues like poverty and depression. My hunch is that it causes similar amounts of suffering (whereby similar means 'within an order of magnitude') but I don't have any evidence for this.

Unfortunately your post is somewhat long which makes it a bit hard to read. More structure and maybe splitting it up into a few posts would help. People, even EA forum readers, tend to be lazy - and it'd be disappointing if thereby fewer people get informed on potential strategies to address sexual violence. I'm happy to work with you on this if you like.

I have to admit that I haven't read your post completely yet myself, so therefore I'm only commenting on one point related to the content for now.

I disagree with your characterisation of people who commit rape. [Edit: Kathy actually doesn't mischaracterise this in the article, but since it's a common misconception which is important to avoid I'll let the rest of the comment stand.]

I think the idea of the dichotomy of 'rapists' and 'non-rapists' is fundamentally misguided and a case of fundamental attribution error.

The type of rapist which you describe in your post who consciously makes the decision to ignore lack of consent isn't the only type of person who commits rape. Therefore the study you're citing only constitutes a lower bound of the number of rapists.

This is more speculative, but I think it's likely lots of people have done sexual activities with someone else without having sufficient evidence that their sex partner is consenting. It's only most of the time they get lucky and the other person wanted the sexual activities as much as them. If they're not so lucky, that makes them rapists.

That said, I do think there's a spectrum here - between people who cannot quite be bothered to properly check for consent to sex every time and people who will happily ignore lack of consent to sex in most situations.

Only addressing the latter of those can thereby only be a start to addressing the whole problem. This also leads to the important question of how the number of rapes committed is distributed. Are most acts of sexual violence committed by a select particularly egregious few or by the presumably more common 'casual rapist'? Answering this question is relevant for picking the strategies to focus on. This is because it seems plausible that different types of people who commit rape require different strategies to stop them.

Thank you for putting so much time and thought into your post.


Comment author: Zeke_Sherman 12 November 2017 01:08:43AM *  7 points [-]

Are most acts of sexual violence committed by a select particularly egregious few or by the presumably more common 'casual rapist'? Answering this question is relevant for picking the strategies to focus on.

Lisak and Miller (link repeated for convenience: http://www.davidlisak.com/wp-content/uploads/pdf/RepeatRapeinUndetectedRapists.pdf) give decent data on the distribution. 91% of rapes/attempted rapes are from repeat offenders.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 12 November 2017 11:47:49PM 0 points [-]

Does this contain detailed enough information on the different kinds of perps that you can actually use it to target the worst type? That's the part I'm concerned will be missing.

Comment author: Robin_Green 12 November 2017 10:19:24PM 2 points [-]

I find your comment slightly confusing, as it suggests - even on the most charitable reading of your comment I can muster - that if a sex partner is not enthusiastic, the sex must be ipso facto rape. Where does this leave men who start having sex and then lose their enthusiasm for whatever reason, whether physical or psychological hangups, I wonder... or does your definition of rape only apply to the woman's enthusiasm?

Comment author: AGB 13 November 2017 06:55:06AM 3 points [-]

(Disclaimer: I am Denise’s partner, have discussed this with her before, and so it’s unsurprising if I naturally interpreted her comment differently.)

Enthusiasm =! consent. I’m not sure where enthusiasm made it into your charitable reading.

Denise’s comment was deliberately non-gendered, and we would both guess (though without data) that once you move to the fuzzy ‘insufficient evidence of consent’ section of the spectrum there will be lots of women doing this, possibly even accounting for the majority of such cases in some environments.

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 07 December 2017 06:30:10PM 1 point [-]

Agreed that Denise's comment didn't equate enthusiasm and consent, but in UK law at least:

> the legal test has long been whether it was reasonable for a defendant to think she consented at the time

So someone's enthusiasm during sex can legitimately portray consent – insofar as it would make it reasonable to believe they were consenting.

Comment author: Alex_Barry 13 November 2017 12:00:51AM 1 point [-]

I am very confused by this reading, it was not what I got from the comment at all.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 11 November 2017 11:10:16PM 1 point [-]

"Multiple types of sex offenders exist. We may not have a complete list of different types yet."

This is a direct quote from the article, from a section covering a few different types of sex offenders. Section name: "Why we should not assume that effective altruism repels sex offenders"

I can't cover every single sub-topic in entirety in every single spot where a sub-topic is mentioned. The article would repeat itself a ridiculous amount.

I also cannot remove all mentions of all sub-topics that have not yet been fully covered. That would ruin all the natural connections inherent in the information. The article would seem to leave out a huge number of obviously important things.

This is why I support the implementation of a social norm where one doesn't argue with an author until after they've finished the article.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 11 November 2017 11:21:00PM 3 points [-]

I agree that is a sensible norm. I'm sorry I implied you personally think that, I'll edit my comment accordingly.

However, since many people will stop reading before the article ends I think it's important to not get people get away with the impression this is what you think.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 11 November 2017 11:23:52PM 1 point [-]

Good point, Denise! Would you please direct me to the part of the article I should edit?

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 11 November 2017 11:20:42PM *  0 points [-]

Great suggestion! "Are most acts of sexual violence committed by a select particularly egregious few or by the presumably more common 'casual rapist'? Answering this question is relevant for picking the strategies to focus on. This is because it seems plausible that different types of people who commit rape require different strategies to stop them."

I suspect political pressure has effectively prevented in-depth research on this specific topic from being done. There is a lot of political pressure to stigmatise rape as much as possible, no matter what kind it is, or how often it occurs, or any other factors. Without this pressure, there is a realistic concern that a significant minority of people would twist the information into a new rape myth.

For instance, a sufficiently twisted person might decide that the "real" rapists are the ones targeting 10 people or more, and then incorrectly conclude that "just" one rape doesn't make you a rapist, therefore rationalizing committing an atrocity. :(

I think it's great to use information-based leverage from research to prevent mayhem. Since you asked, I will check this if I can manage to fit it in somewhere. I'm just letting you know that the reason I didn't already invest the time into looking into this is because I suspect political pressures would prevent that sort of study from being done in the first place.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 11 November 2017 11:02:41PM *  -1 points [-]

This post is long because:

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about sexual violence. To have accurate ideas about the effective altruism potential of sexual violence reduction as a cause, one needs to be informed about a bunch of things at once. Given the complexity of the issue and the number of common misconceptions, a long length was the only way to do this topic justice.

This is a foundation article. Now that it exists, a series of short articles can be written based on the information and context contained in it to help raise awareness.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 11 November 2017 11:17:41PM 4 points [-]

I don't disagree with the full content being laid out. I'm glad you wrote such an in depth article.

Although I think it would be better if you created an index of contents and having split it up into a few posts would help as well.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 11 November 2017 11:25:41PM *  1 point [-]

Edit: There is a table of contents now.

By the time the suggestion to create a table of contents came along, it was too late to do so. I agree. If I get some time today or tomorrow I will do that.

I couldn't split this into multiple posts. There are multiple context reasons for doing it this way. I'm sorry that this is inconvenient. I accept that fewer people will read the entire article. That won't stop me from making progress. Like I said, this article is a foundation. This is step 1. :)

I will probably write multiple shorter articles later.

The great thing about having all the context in one place is that when I write multiple shorter articles, I can refer to the big article a bunch of times! :D

That will help me keep the short articles short!