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Robin_Green 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.

Denise

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.