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    • Sarah Beth Arnold

      There's part of me that feels extremely sad for the good good men out there. They are out there, there are so many of them. What my hope in all through all of these conversations on this topic, is that as we become more educated and the generations learn, that the ratio of amazing men will one day exceed that of dirtbags. There are just so so sooooo many dirtbags out there. It is both men and women's job to call those moments out, correct people RIGHT when something happens, and hope these issues become fewer and farther between over the years.

    • What has caused me to go into deep shock is finding out that this has been going on for decades of my life and I had no awareness of it. It never occurred to me that there could be Harvey Weinsteins or Bill Cosbys in this world, or so many Catholic Priests who abused so many boys. A doctor for the U.S. gymnastics team?

      Now that I've spoken to a few victims, I can possibly understand how I never knew: they are afraid of telling anyone because they fear it will hurt their futures somehow.

    • Chris,

      I think you bring up a very sad truth about all of this. There are many situations where victims are in situations where there abusers are in control of the victims futures or reputations. Even if there hasn't been explicit threats, the fear is embedded. It's a depressingly harsh truth that I hope one day is not a reality.

    • First I believe based on reading many of your posts Chris that there was no ill intent here at all.

      Take crush out of Chris's post on the scientist and it reads different to me. Perhaps my understanding of the word crush is off? Also not sure what it brings to the info. Was it due to the attraction that Chris followed the career? After reading this thread it stood out. when is it ok or not ok to bring stuff like this up? being over sensitive? is it ok since we knew Chris meant nothing by it, yet it is public? All very interesting...

    • Sarah Beth Arnold

      Hey there,

      You've brought up a good point. Where's the line? This is something I ask myself and the people around me every day. The thing is, it's not black and white. It can be extremely subjective to each person's feelings. How do we know when someone is in need of standing up for etc.

      In your example of Chris, here's how I see it. Saying you have a crush on someone is harmless. Chris has not reached out to that person, explicitly hit on them, and been disgusting about that persons body. Sure, maybe she could see the word "crush" and depending on her own experiences and feelings, may feel threatened by that. Personally though, I think my line is drawn when things are taken to a sexual manner.

      Someone could walk up to me and tell me I am beautiful. I say thank you and carry on. This would not bother me. It's the second the person turns my body into an object and it turns sexual that suddenly I feel a little uncomfortable.

      I think setting is important as well. Work vs real life. Work can be a tricky place to navigate because talking about a person's physical appearance is a thin line to walk. Typically in a work setting it's most safe to just talk about work or performance and never the physical appearance. It's unfortunate because we want to connect with the people we see every day.

      I think in all of this, my point is that it's tough. It's hard to know where the line is because the line for everyone is different. That is why consent is SO IMPORTANT. "I think you are beautiful, is that okay to say?" It doesn't hurt to ask permission. The mere asking of permission shows the other person you respect them and their feelings. It's easy to do and doesn't take more than an extra 5 words to check in.

      Or on the outside, if you see an interaction and you see someone looking uncomfortable, check in on them. "Hey are you good?" You'll know, even without them saying it if they need help.

    • Inner voice and mindfulness are keys perhaps to an external shell or armor for such social dismal behavior.

      Curious how you would see the correct way to as permission to pay what the person "may" feel is a compliment?

      Had a friend with image issues and a "normal" compliment set them off, as it was always negative to them.

      We do not know the story of people we meet in the world for the first time, what level of assumption is appropriate? the knowledge of the environment and situation is not always available to adjust, do we miss out on great interactions as we are too afraid to engage?

      Sorry going off the plot a little.

    • Hmm, I think it just comes back to the point that everyone's different so it's EXTREMELY hard to navigate either way, right? I don't think there's any one safe way to approach every single person because we are all so different. I would say all anyone can do is try their best with good intentions and learn from each experience.

    • To be clear, I'll confess to my short list of scientist crushes:

      Stephen Hawking
      Neil deGrasse Tyson
      Albert Einstein
      James Clerk Maxwell
      Marie Curie
      Louis Pasteur
      Jane Goodall

      ❤️❤️❤️

      When I mentioned Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a 75-year-old scientist I've never met, I don't know if I even considered that she was a woman, but SHE DISCOVERED PULSARS AS A GRAD STUDENT!!! Oh my God.

      I'm much more careful telling someone they're beautiful, even if they are, for fear of being misinterpreted. I did tell Angela that she was beautiful the other day, however, when I was the photographer at Craig & Angela's wedding. It's true, she's beautiful:

    • I appreciate your coming forth with your short list of scientist crushes, Chris. I also appreciate the the diversity of the list you provided. If I am being honest, I have a crush on that entire list as well.

    • I honestly don't see why refraining from comments about physical appearance is such a big deal to some men.

      Personally, I find gendered comments about my appearance very private and intimate so when some dude I don't know says "you look hot" my instant reaction is, 1.eewwww 2. who the hell do you think you are, 3.how do I leave this situation safely. It's one thing to say "you look nice" as this can be said to either gender, to a child, to an old person. But whenever it's sexual, even in the slightest... yeah, nah. If we lived in a world of true equality where women weren't 90% of the victims of violence with 90% of men being perpetrators of said violence, perhaps we could have sexualized remarks anywhere and everywhere and it would be fun. But in the world as it is now?..

    • Evergreen, as a guy I'm interested in knowing what I should and shouldn't say in our modern world. I complimented you on your hair the other day because I think it's awesome, I've complimented Sarah on her tattoos, I complement both women and men about how good they look, how handsome, how beautiful as I photograph them when they really do look amazing. I hope I can still do this without making anyone feel like I'm creepy.

    • Right. It seems like the biggest distinction is it being "sexual". Complimenting someone is fine, but the second it becomes about my BODY then it's a new level.

      Taking someone's photo and saying "Wow, beautiful" or "Your tattoos are awesome." is very different than "Your tattoos are sexy." or anything that suggests sex is being thought about rather than a human just appreciating another human. I suppose this language can differ from person to person. So that's where the ultimate struggle is, but it's safe to say that anything even mildly suggesting something sexual is usually when people get nervous.

    • 2. informala brief but intense infatuation for someone, especially someone unattainable or inappropriate."she did have a crush on Dr. Russell"synonyms:infatuation, obsession, love, passion; informalpuppy love"a teenage crush"

      Infatuation seems to fit, I most commonly heard it in regards to the opposite sex, but even that is not quite accurate now as we become more open. Live and learn, that is a good thing.

      Communicate is complicated

    • It's all about context; I know you somewhat, so if the compliment about my hair is coming from you, that's something positive and I'll say thanks. When completely strangers come up to me and ask to touch my hair... Nope.

      Similarly if you are photographing someone, that implies there's already a relationship, you already know that person and they know you, even if superficially, and since photography is such a visual thing complimenting people on their appearance in this context is perfectly natural and positive as long as no lines are crossed.

      But when a complete stranger came up to me at a moto event, asked to take a photo with me and then said "Can I tell my wife I slept with you" - ...nope.

      Sarah is spot on about compliments being sexualized, and this is what I was trying to convey. There's just absolutely no need for that, unless you are intimate with that person. There is ZERO need for sexual comments in any public space, be it work or school or the local coffee shop. Compliments are awesome, we all love them and we all love saying them, and as long as they are neutral - like someone's hair or tattoos, or someone's accomplishments and achievements, that's all wonderful. When it turns sexual, in most women's minds, that's an immediate red alert.

      I was talking to someone on FB yesterday, an older rider who was asking me about bikes and traveling. After some 20 mins of pleasant, civilized conversation, he asked me where I was from and when I replied he said "oh, country X! I hear that women from X are the most beautiful in Europe" and added a smiley face.

      And just like that, I was gone. I'm sure he meant it as a compliment and it probably was well-intended but to me, it was an instant WTF. We were talking about bikes and travel and he suddenly goes "women from X country are so beautiful"??

      This sort of stuff reminds women exactly where our place is. I thought I was talking to a fellow rider/traveler as an equal, as a peer. With a comment like that, he immediately put me in a different place - that of a pretty object, not an equal rider/traveler anymore. I think this is what gets to me the most. I can be an accomplished rider and an experienced traveler but by saying something like that, all of that is instantly stripped away and I am suddenly just a pretty thing with no agency of my own. Just like that. I can't tell you how infuriating that is!!!!

    • Great response, thank you Evergreen. It makes me think back on things I've said in the past about Swedes and how I love their blond hair and blue eyes. I don't think I was ever gender-specific about it.

      What about children? What are we doing to young girls when we tell them how pretty they look in their dressup? This morning I took photos of Josie after she spent time in the dressup closet and I think I told her how good she looked. Her sisters told her she looked like a princess.

    • It's really hard not to give appearance-based compliments to girls, but I notice most people don't give them to boys past a certain age, or do it in a very different way ("You look like such a little gentleman!" "You're going to break some hearts!") I think it's worth thinking about that, and subverting it if possible: telling boys they're beautiful; calling a dressed up girl a 'queen' instead of a 'princess' -- or heck, let's get crazy and go with 'international superspy', 'ambassador', or even 'senator' or 'admiral', thank you, Star Wars! (And thank you so much for making sure my favorite princess growing up also wore a snowsuit and carried a big gun.) Girls don't sacrifice their potentials by enjoying dressing up. Boys are beautiful, and should hear it. And if they wrinkle their noses, they've already learned some things that should be unpacked and talked about.

      But even past giving more creative compliments to looks...if one pays attention around a little girl one finds that she is being bombarded with assessments based on looks and femininity. Compliments are also assessments: they are telling kids what we value, what about them they should value too. Kids are sponges, and they pick up subtext as well as text. So even if a little girl is SHOCKINGLY beautiful, I think it's good to consider being the person who asks about her interests, compliments her drawings, or her impressive racing-car sound effects, because she hears about her looks all the time, and it's great for her to learn other values too. And that's without getting into the entire 'innate versus effort' compliment field of study, which is waaaaay off the topic of the thread so I'll stop babbling.

      As to the original post...I hate the fact that waving around my committed relationship is the best way to get interested men to back off, too. I hate feeling like I'm supporting that premise you mention, the ownership thing, by relying on it. But as you say, there is an innate threat, if not of overt violence, then at least of rage. Heck, I've gotten cussed at for whipping out the 'I have a boyfriend' shield too early, when the interest hadn't yet been undeniably explicit. Because then I'm a 'stuck up B'. Which is, of course, also a failure of femininity -- one of the metrics of intrinsic worth on which I'm constantly being assessed by random strangers or new acquaintances!

    • Couldn't agree more on compliments being assessments and kids picking it up. Children of either gender should be told they are beautiful, but for girls, it often becomes the central part of their being.

      When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pirate, a tracker in the Wild West or an explorer of faraway lands. While my granddad and dad fully supported those ideas and made me bows and arrows from a hazelnut tree, my mother (bless her) made me wear tutus, practice ballet and always remind me I should be more beautiful and elegant, just like girl X, and why can't I just be a little more like girl X (girl X was my exceptionally beautiful, skinny and graceful classmate who would learn to apply make up in sixth grade while I trained for show jumping competitions in a mounted police yard).

      Result? I still refuse to fold my clothes neatly and haven't owned a dress or a skirt since 2009. Kidding aside, though... I don't think my mom's obsession with beauty and elegance did me any favors, but they did leave a few lingering complexes. I don't blame her in any way - she was a product of her time, upbringing, culture and the notion of femininity back then - but I do sometimes wonder whether I would have been braver, healthier and more successful if I hadn't been so torn between the pressure to look pretty and the desire to see the world on my own terms.

    • Sarah Beth Arnold

      Felicity, Evergreen,

      So much yes to both. I think about that a lot. The way society talks to little girls in comparison to little boys.

      EVEN the way women can sometimes talk about themselves.

      Over the weekend I was waiting on a group of women to show up in a limo for a 40 year old birthday party photoshoot. The group ended up being over an hour and a half late. We made it work, but what I was more interested in is the reasoning everyone kept giving:

      "Ohhhhhh you know how it is with girls, we can't be on time to anything."

      Almost every single women said this same thing. I never confronted or asked them why they were late, this just kept being brought to me. It had me thinking about a couple of things.

      First of all: these 40 year old women kept referring to themselves as girls and two... I am a woman and I was there 30 minutes early. I wasn't offended by this statement, more just fascinated at the way some of us have been trained to see ourselves. Sure, it was a cutsie way of saying "Hey, there were 30 of us trying to pile into one limo coming from all over the bay area, it took some time to collect everyone." Though instead it came out in a self deprecating statement, not only to themselves, but suggesting that women are "Girls who can never be on time to anything."

      Sexism is so engrained in us, that some even feel it towards themselves as women.

      In that moment I nervously giggled as I do.... but felt a bit of sadness.

    • Nervous laughter is such a horrible reflex. It's like the opposite of staircase wit -- not only do we not get to respond to something with the perfect witty takedown of our dreams, but it seems like we were fine with it because we laughed. Arrrrgh!

    • Sexism is so engrained in us, that some even feel it towards themselves as women

      Not on the scale of the female side, but sexism is alive and directed at males as well.

      I deal with it everyday at work, very difficult to talk about as it is "just whining, you don't even know what it is" responses.

      equality after shift in power is rare if non-existent in many situations, payback or revenge is heavy.

    • Not on the scale of the female side, but sexism is alive and directed at males as well.

      I notice it too sometimes, but like you I feel like it's not on the scale of the female or person of color side. Honestly, in both cases I feel like what 6% of white men have done to women and people of color have brought most of this upon us.

      Can you imagine being a Catholic Priest? You can be wonderful, a true saint and role model for the boys in your parish, but could you blame the parents for exercising caution with their young sons around men like you and me?

    • Somehow I got drawn in to this article yesterday. It's horrifying and I lost some faith in humanity, but it is extraordinary journalism, a story that took 3 years to write. I can't imagine what it's like to live in fear of this.

    You've been invited!