Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How about Shrodinger's Bad Man?

You are about to go on a short journey through my head and witness a thought process. I think its only fair I give you something to calm your nerves before we begin. Trust me on this. I think Engelorum by Vernian Process will do (you may just want to open that in separate tab and just restart it every few minutes as you read it).

So the folks at No Seriously, What About Teh Menz? have brought out Schrodinger's Rapist once again. Well I've never been much of a fan of that concept. Hear me out.

Its not that I think women are somehow wrong to have some amount of fear about men. Of course different people have different experiences so it wouldn't be right to tell someone whose gone through circumstances that would cause such that they are wrong. Its not that at all. My questions revolve around the naming and application of the theory.

I'm no high end physicist but from what I can gather about Shrodinger's Cat is that its about the theoretical existence of a cat when taking several variables into consideration. So when you say Shrodinger's Rapist I'm thinking that its about the theoretical existence of a rapist. Now some people think that that means that this means a generalization of all men as either rapists or potential rapists or rapists in waiting. I'm of the mind of thinking potential rapists in that respect. As in any man may be a rapist and that a woman needs to be mindful of that and act accordingly. And if guys don't like it then well tough. Makes sense but something doesn't quite gel for me. Bear with me for a bit.

A white person thinks any black person may attack them and they must act accordingly. And if any black people doesn't like it well tough.

A rich person thinks any homeless person may attack them and they must act accordingly. And if any homeless person doesn't like it well tough.

A Christian person thinks any Muslim person may attack them and they must act accordingly. And if any Muslim person doesn't like it well tough.

I'm willing to bet that a lot of the same people that would defend and agree with Shrodinger's Rapist would then turn around and call Shrodinger's Black Person, Schrodinger's Homeless Person, and Schrodinger's Muslim for the the raicsm, classism, and Islamophobia that they are.

Well someone by the name of AB addresses this:
Because part of the social assessment you’re making (and the part the article is focussed on) is an assessment of risk. For most women, a large part of the aggression the will experience directed at them (especially from men) is sexual in nature, so that’s what they’re most wary about, and what will take up the biggest part of their risk assessment in regards to men.
Okay but…

Schrödinger’s Rapist is not about concluding whether or not men are rapists, it is about making an assessment of which men are the most safe, in order to decrease one’s general risk of being the victim of sexual violence. Sometimes people make mistakes in their assessments, but it is rarely done out of malice or bigotry.
Explained that way I'm willing to lend a bit more credibility to it. However I still wonder something.

If its not about concluding whether or not men are rapists but an assessment of all risks then why not an all encompassing name like Schrodinger's Bad Man? I really don't blame anyone for thinking that Schrodinger's Rapist is only taking sexual risk into account because its quite literally the only risk that is in the name of the theory because again going back to the cat who is the namesake I thought the original theory was about the existence of a cat. Sure you can say that literally any object could be placed in for cat and the theory would still stand but Schrodinger's Rapist does not have the issue of being able to place literally any object in place of Rapist. If what AB says is true (and of course AB is not the official Defender of Schrodinger's Rapist) the specific scope here is risk assessment of men. If that's the case then why not use an all encompassing term when one can be used? I can't blame the originators of SC using a cat since they were talking about any object. But with SR its supposed to be about risk and there are many ways to name it in order to include all forms of risk. Schrodiger's Risk, Schrodinger's Risky Man, Schrodinger's Assessment?

Truthfully this leads to me losing some faith in the theory of SR. I'm now wondering if Rapist was used for some reason other than it being the greatest male to female risk. I'm thinking malice, bigotry, and/or shock value.

And now I see that Xakudo has chimed in the use of the Schrodinger as well:
My favorite thing about the Schrodinger’s Rapist article is the misuse of the title. With Schrodinger’s cat there was no question whether it was a cat or not, just a question of whether or not it was dead. So to use the concept properly, Schrodinger’s rapist would be a confirmed rapist whose dead-ness/alive-ness you could not readily determine. Perhaps a rapist zombie of sorts, but more quantum.
I think this is worth considering. As I said above our dear cat could have easily been replaced with any other object (and in the event we're talking about something that's not alive would can change alive/dead to intact/destroyed) but whatever you replace it with there is no question that that is what is is. Dog, snail, coffee table, etc... Its set in stone that we are talking about a cat and the theory is whether or not the cat is dead/alive (which I think pretty much crushes a lot of what I said near the beginning of the post but I'm gonna leave it there for the thought process. I know. Let's try to put what AB and Xakudo have said together.

Xakudo says there's no question its cat. I take that to translate into there being no question we're talking about a man. So wouldn't that mean we need to call this Schrodinger's Man?

AB says we are assessing the risk of a man. I take that to translate into assessing if the man is safe/dangerous. So wouldn't that go inline with assessing if the cat is dead/alive?

AB says it was an assessment of all risks and that sex was just the greatest.

So does that mean that the so called Schrodinger's Man is a theoretical assessment of whether or not a man is safe/dangerous, with being safe/dangerous in a sexual manner being the biggest risk? In the end does this mean that Schrodinger's Man is a risk assessment of a man being safe/dangerous in all manners but is then renamed Schrodinger's Rapist because its the biggest risk? Well if that risk is so big that it warrants becoming the default name above all other risks how does this not play out as, "Is this guy dangerous? Is he going to sexually attack me? Is he going to rob me? Is he going to catcall me? etc..." Rape may not be the only thought in mind during that assessment but its the main thing (again so main that it becomes the name of the assessment).

And there's still the matter of how this assessment is supposedly okay to use on some people but not others (and it doesn't help that some of the people that are using it are then turning around and saying that it wouldn't be right to use on them).

I told you this was not going to be an easy ride.

So what are your thoughts on the concept of Schrodinger's Rapist? I'm sure you're heard it before you read this post and I'm betting you have some choice words about it. By all means share. Just please be polite about it.


James said...

If we were going to use this analogy, then I would be BOTH a rapist and not a rapist until you looked at me, but when you turned away I would become both.

JutGory said...

Interesting article. Almost a tl;dr. But, there were a couple of things I wanted to bring up.
Like you, I am not a quantum physicist, but I do have a cat named Schrodinger, so I know that of which I speak. (And, by the way, he DOES NOT like the analogy of Schrodinger's Rapist.)

The issue was not whether he was a cat; it was a question as to whether the cat was dead. As James suggests, in carrying out the experiment, the uncertainty principle (I believe) rendered the conclusion that the cat is BOTH alive AND dead the proper conclusion. But, observation would change that conclusion.

So, yes, I believe it is a bad analogy because every man would be a rapist/non-rapist (if the analogy were properly used). And, at the risk of creating an echo chamber, I think it basically provides a fancy name for prejudice.

Christopher Marshall said...

I am having trouble entertaining your discussion about Schroedinger's Bad Man vs Schroedinger's Rapist because I can't get past your earlier point about how someone who says "A white person thinks any black person may attack them and they must act accordingly. And if any black people doesn't like it well tough." can well expect to be thought a bigot in polite society, but a woman saying "any man may be a rapist and that a woman needs to be mindful of that and act accordingly. And if guys don't like it then well tough." is not thought to be a bigot.

Eagle33 said...

Christopher, the author of Schrodinger's Rapist didn't imply anything of the kind. Right from the beginning, she says any man approaching her is Schrondinger's Rapist. No quanitfying, her mind is already set and its up to the man to prove her wrong.

Why is it okay for a woman to assume the worst in men yet when a man assumes the worst in women based on experience he's lambasted for it? This article is another illustration of the double-standards in gender relations. No article entitled "Schrondinger's False Rapist" or "Schrondinger's Female Rapist" would ever get published. It would be met with protests from special interest feminist groups and their equal rights pushing white-knights in chiverlic armor.

Yet a woman can assume every man Schrondinger's Rapist and get appluded for taking a pre-cautionary step in keeping herself safe. You go, Girl!

So why is it okay for a woman to look at every man as a potential rapist yet frowned upon for a man to look at every woman as a potential false rape accuser, child abuser, or gold-digger?

Eagle33 said...

Edit: Sorry, it should read "Schrondinger's False Rape Accusor"

Danny said...

I'm sorry your cat feels that way and later on in that post over at NSWATM someone did bring up the alive/dead part about the cat.

Danny said...

What is it about that you can't get past?