Behold, a master class on how to lose your audience:

"Why don’t decent men speak up against such men [rapists]– and in defense of their [rape] victims?"

How can you take someone seriously who implies that rape is not illegal with a heavy penalty, or that "decent men" or even average men don't think rape is horrific and vile, and consider rapists monsters? She is clearly so divorced from reality, either in her conception of men or her definition of "rape", that she is hardly worth reading.

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I was also pretty confused by the "why don't decent men speak up against rapists" thing. Or maybe I was just really irritated that it wasn't a question, it was an implied accusation that I believe is redefining "rape" to mean "rape culture" and then simplified to "patriarchy" in the same way Kendi and diAngelo have redefined "racism" - a bullying tactic.

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I was also confused

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Okay, steelman time - of course men hate rapists, but most of the time they fail to appreciate that from a woman's perspective, any man she does not trust is a potential rapist. Men are generally unwilling to concede the changes to our sexual culture that many women are desperate for in order to feel safer (and moreover, actually *be* safer) in public spaces, especially the likes of nightclubs, and in the dating market. That is, even though they sincerely hate rapists, most men would still rather live in a social environment that enables rapists over one that protects women.

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The probability of a male stranger being a rapist is extremely low. To the extent that some women go about life in a state of constant fear that the guy sitting next to them at a bus stop has a significant chance of raping them is histrionical. I’m aware some women actually think this and the sentiment plays a big role in feminism, but it certainly shouldn’t drive public policy.

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Mark do you think it is irrational for men in prison to worry about rape, too?

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It's pretty simple. If you engage in risky behavior, you are more likely to be raped.

While men don't condone rape in such situations, they also don't feel like they are overly obligated to go out of their way to protect women who won't protect themselves.

Finally, there is a tendency amongst women to want rape, or something close to it, which makes it very hard to discern consent.

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Even if one does feel overly obligated to protect the woman in question, what would that look like? Telling them they have drunk too much and should stop? Warning them that the guys they are hanging out with are super shady and she should stop drinking with them?

How well would any of that be received?

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This set of interrelated questions is why I think hookup culture has been bad for men and women, because it leaves no really appropriate ways for women to be protected from dangerous choices.

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At some point people can't be protected from their own dangerous choices. They choose a level of danger they are willing to accept, and that's it. We might not like the choice, and no one might be happy with the outcome, but what does it mean to be an adult if you can't make your own choices and live with the results? Responsibility is required for making your own choices.

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I'm all for responsibility, as I've been saying up and down the thread. But I think that we (as a society) need to encourage the correct behaviors, instead of just saying "girls will be dumb".

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Safer from rape. Which is a good thing. But I'm not convinced that it's causal rather than correlative.

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Mar 4, 2023·edited Mar 5, 2023

"She shouldn't have dressed like that." "She shouldn't have been drinking." "She was asking for it." It's all just victim-blaming, isn't it?

Meanwhile you can act however you want on a night out with negligible risk of sexual assault, just as long as you're lucky enough to be born with a Y chromosome.

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But, your chances of non-sexual assault are way higher. Note: if a man acts in a risky manner the blame the victim idea may be raised but is rarely discussed. And, while "men" perpetuate the majority of violence, it's really a tiny fraction of men who commit the vast majority of violence. So who is to blame for male on male violence when the males who perpetuate it are demographically identifiable? Just men?

You could frame this and say that male risky behaviour is acceptably reacted to by assault. Maybe men and women have no comparison in this. Maybe men are expected to have agency in their risky behaviour and women are not. I believe there is something to this - but you can't strongly argue both directions easily. I do judge my children differently, and my son engages in materially riskier behaviour than my daughter - but both regularly engage in quite risky behaviour compared to a 40 year old adult. It does not follow that noticeably risky behaviour which differs in degree is not still risky behaviour - behaviour which contributes to the results.

Consistently done with most male on male assault incidents, it's worth reframing this from victim blaming to the insurance concept of contributory negligence. If you leave your door unlocked - or you invite your criminal cousin who is a chronic recidivist to stay with you - and you get robbed, the robber is to blame and punishment/reparations are due. This does not mean that you didn't contribute to the situation (under insurance contracts you may be denied recovery). (Even with insurance you are very unlikely to be made whole.) This does mean that when you see the unlocked door/robbery connection and you ignore the contributory negligence part you are contributorily negligent when it happens to you.

If you blame _women_ for these situations you are blaming the victim. If you ask a person to consider the contribution of their behaviour to potential outcomes it's a pretty reasonable conversation.

All of these incidents of assault are on people. Some of those people poked the bear. Some of those people were on an otherwise safe street at the wrong time. Bunching all of this as stats and making sweeping statements on people, women, men, children, adults, et al, seems to be where people lose their bearings.

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If I don’t lock my bike it gets stolen. Would be nice if it wasn’t necessary but to not blame myself for such a stupidity would be weird.

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Mar 4, 2023·edited Mar 4, 2023

There is a big difference between "take this simple, unobtrusive measure to make yourself safe while doing X" and "don't do X at all, it's too dangerous, no we're not bothered about making sure you can do X safely."

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So, what exactly do you think "we" (I assume "men") can do to make sure women can do these things safely?

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I mean, I think it is dumb, and taking responsibility for that dumbness is important, but it's not the same as stealing the bike. The thief is still the more responsible party in that case. And the transferrable moral reasoning applies.

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Ok, so it's victim blaming. Tell me this: would it materially change the chances that a woman would be raped if she didn't drink with strange men, and didn't walk alone at night? I'm more concerned that women not be raped than that they not be victim blamed. Even if it would be nice if they didn't have such a choice.

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Mar 4, 2023·edited Mar 4, 2023

Do people really think that these analogies are such a slam-dunk argument?

For the umpteenth time, if you do dumb shit and get into trouble, I have limited sympathy. But if one half of the population is putting themselves at risk by engaging in certain behaviours, while the other half can do that stuff with impunity, then society has a big problem.

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If the two halves of the population are the SAME, then of course you would have a point. But they are not the same. That's the key difference you're ignoring. In addition to the question of "what, exactly, do you expect to be done about it?"

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I believe that hookup culture and feminism have combined to exacerbate the healthy desire for sexual difference in women into this unhealthy desire to be dominated. Plus a huge amount of abuse and lack of good/present fathers.

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I'm not entirely sure what you think I'm arguing. I think being "dominated" is bad. I think being protected, supported, and enjoying those things because of the natural enjoyment of sexual dimorphism is good and innate. I'm making no claims of increase of those desires. I would say I'm making a claim that our understanding and practice of sexuality is deeply unhealthy, though I'm not 100% certain I'd make the claim that it's more or less unhealthy than decades past.

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My mom has said some times that she worries about being potentially raped in some dark environments and such: i wonder if “enabling rapists” means something along the line of not taking womens safety seriously, and having men and women in one sense equally considered but that women are more at risk evolutionarly of being hijacked, in practice being safety unequal

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That's absolutely the kind of thing addressed in Louise Perry's book, btw. The inequalities of women's size and strength means that "equal" situations are not at all actually equal.

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"the changes to our sexual culture"

Can you give a specific example of the changes that you want?

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A specific example? It should not be normal to have sex on a first date. That's a change I would like to see.

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That would be a good change, but I am not sure I see how it addresses the issue at hand.

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If a guy is expecting sex he will be more likely to react dangerously when he doesn't get what he wants. Men do not rape women once they have pair-bonded with them, so it would be good to instill the norm that sex is an expression of love, rather than a transactional commodity that men and women have to play this adversarial game over.

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What changes in our sexual culture did you have in mind that would make women feel and actually be safer, exactly?

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I counter this with Louise Perry's The Case Against the Sexual Revolution - the attempts to redefine "rape" as "rape culture" as you describe (unsure how ironically given the steelman designation), and the subsequent attempts to change behavior through indoctrination rather than actual protection, have been utterly disastrous.

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What are you talking about? The rates of rape and sexual assault documented by police and in surveys have gone down considerably in the last 3 decades. Things are better today. How is that a "disaster"?

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Well, I don't fully buy the feminist statistics, but I know for a fact that rape, assault, and abuse are HUGELY underreported, so I don't put too much trust in statistics on rape per se.

But fundamentally, I think hookup culture has been really, really bad for men and women in terms of health (physical and emotional, not to mention spiritual), and led to more general unhappiness about sex and love.

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It's not feminist statistics, it's the police statistics and survey statistics. Imagine thinking feminists have an interest in underreporting rape and sexual assault of women, Jesus Christ.

Hookup culture is largely a myth (there is less sex, including uncommitted sex, today than in the 70s and 80s), and it hasn't been bad at all.

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Feminist statistics say that the vast majority of rapes go unreported. And they say this is because of rape culture - the police will ignore them. (And in the cases of grooming gangs in small town England, they are absolutely right.)

Why do you say hookup culture hasn't been bad at all? And do you think there is any kind of normative sexual behavior?

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I said "feminist statistics", not national crime survey. A discussion of these statistics can be found here: https://time.com/2934500/1-in-5%E2%80%82campus-sexual-assault-statistic/ (from the other perspective).

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I agree. But I don't see any men fighting for that meaningful protection for women; and actually I see a lot of men (typically presenting themselves as feminist allies) saying that we just need consent classes or whatever.

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Well, I'd argue that these feminist allies are actually protecting the patriarchy, since consent classes are the last things we need to stop rape. We need men protecting women, and women protecting themselves and each other. I would agree that our society has become an extremely harmful place to women (though I'd argue that it's also extremely harmful to men as well), but Badhwar's prescriptions would definitely make things much worse, instead of protecting more women. (I'm still a bit puzzled about the workplace dating thing, so I don't feel I can really comment on it yet fully.)

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Let's get back to talking about rape culture.

Now, I think we understand that phrase to mean different things. My interpretation is that rape culture is a sort of social structure that enables rape to happen; and under that definition I would argue that we do indeed live in one. The vast majority of rapists are never convicted. Rape victims often do not even go to the police due to suspicion of the justice system. Social services for women trapped in abusive relationships are terrible, and outside of relationships, young women often feel pressured into casual sex they don't want with men they don't trust. It's a horrible cocktail which gives sexual predators opportunity but shields them from consequence.

So the "rape culture" guys are right! They're just wrong about how to fix the problem.

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"young women often feel pressured into casual sex they don't want with men they don't trust"

As usual, it starts with an actual crime and then quickly skips to people feeling pressured into something. Why should the response to this be different from a man saying "I felt like my partner pressured me into getting married" or "I felt pressured into having a child" or "I felt pressured into attending church?" Or a gay man saying he felt pressured into sex by another gay man? Or a customer saying he felt pressured into buying a car?

If women are incapable of resisting non-violent psychological pressure, why should they have citizenship rights equal to men? Why should they be trusted to vote or serve on juries or work as police or FBI agents?

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Well, that is sort of what I'm talking about with the "extremely harmful place for women" part of my reply. I think the real problem, as already hinted, is the sexual revolution/hookup culture, which absolutely tends to empower predators most.

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Explain what ‘meaningful protection’ means. Discarding due process for men accused of victimizing women? What exactly does this vague phrase mean?

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I would argue "meaningful protection" isn't "penalties" (though I do think harsher penalties against rapists might have a deterrent effect), but actual "protection" - instilling wisdom in men and women not to put women in bad positions, as Louise Perry suggests. I don't know if that can be governmentally mandated or enforced, but things like, for example, "Stop telling women that it's perfectly fine to walk alone at night drunk." Really interrogate the question of "victim blaming" and jettison everything from the concept that stops women from being safe.

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Wow, ok that is NOT what I expected you to say you meant by "meaningful protection". Usually when I hear "protection" it is an active thing done, interposing either a person to protect another, or some sort of bubble wrap. Telling women (and men) to not put themselves in stupid positions where they are easy prey for the tiny minority of bad actors out there is a really good idea, just not what I would have thought "meaningful protection" meant. Maybe more avoidance or prevention, not protection.

Still, your idea is good, even if I find the terminology a little confusing :)

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Right, I’m sure most takes are committed because men lack the proper wisdom.

Really, the feminist model of sexual assault is so ridiculous it’s hard to take it seriously as a ‘feminist issue.’ The reason most rape is committed by men against women isn’t a social problem, it’s because of the biological differences between make and female sexuality, and the (small minority of) men who commit such crimes are usually psychologically dysfunctional types that won’t be fixed by a few struggle sessions.

If you want to reduce the amount of sexual assault, the only way to do it is with 1) more policing and harsher punishments or 2) somehow induce people to have fewer kids out of wedlock in circumstances that lead to dysfunctional upbringing. There’s no feminist policy that reduces sexual assault. If there’s any social/political value that would help, it would probably be something like chivalry, but that would require us to acknowledge that he problem derived from innate differences between men and women that justify and necessitate treating men and women differently.

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Will checkout that book at some point, seems very alien to my worldview but interesting

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It's very worth checking out - Perry started from a British very secular feminist perspective, but her conclusions are not what you'd expect from that background.

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I think it's worth pointing out this line:

"siccing government agents on women’s bodies – indeed, even little girls’ bodies – or imprisoning them for years because they aborted a fetus – or had a miscarriage –is no worse than requiring men to pay for the children they fathered. I thought only a misogynist could take this position"

Right now, if a grown woman forces a male child to have sex with her against his will and it results in a pregnancy, the rape victim is forced to pay his rapist child support if the rape results in a pregnancy. If the victim (when he turns 18) does not pay his rapist enough money, he is incarcerated off and on for 18 years, effectively "siccing" government agents on boys' bodies. Bryan pointed out that taking abortion rights away from women and girls is equivalent to the current situation for boys today.

Neera describes this position as "misogynistic". She is saying that treating a male child who is the victim of rape with equal compassion and rights as a female child is "misogynistic". I think it's fair to say that she would use the words "misogynist" and "anti-feminist" interchangeably. Therefore, this statement is logically equivalent to "Only an anti-feminist would support gender equality."

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"She is saying that treating a male child who is the victim of rape with equal compassion and rights as a female child is "misogynistic". " This is ridiculous. Neither Bryan nor I were talking about male children, much less male children who've been raped.

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Male children are still males and have been forced to pay child support their rapists who got pregnant There are well documented court cases on that. Likewise adult males who have been raped by women have also been forced to pay child support. But sure, misogyny.

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It was exactly there that I stopped reading ...

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"In any case, how is a libertarian like Bryan so comfortable with the notion of unpaid labor?"

Slightly off topic, but I don't see any reason a libertarian would be uncomfortable with the notion of unpaid labor. I've seen people online complain about the existence of unpaid internships as being unjust and exploitative, but it seems to me that when a person chooses to do an unpaid internship despite clearly having the option to work somewhere like McDonald's that they must be getting some other non monetary compensation that they feel is worthwhile.

If I'm living alone and I do all the housework, I receive no pay for my labor, and yet there is clearly no injustice. If I then get married and continue to do all the housework, my partner has not wronged me in any conceivable way.

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“Fair enough, but it’s worth noting that it’s nearly always men who rape both men and women - and engage in spousal rape and abuse.” - I want to fact check this.

Scientific American: “Sexual Victimization by Women Is More Common Than Previously Known” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sexual-victimization-by-women-is-more-common-than-previously-known/

The Atlantic: “The Understudied Female Sexual Predator” https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/11/the-understudied-female-sexual-predator/503492/

Washington Post: “Sexual Assault Against Boys is a Crisis” https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2021/02/22/why-we-dont-talk-about-sexual-violence-against-boys-why-we-should/

The TL;DR is that women and men are assaulted are roughly comparable rates. The vast majority of assaults on males involve boys and men being forced to penetrate rather than being forcibly penetrated (rape by envelopment rather than rape by penetration). Part of the reason why this is so unknown is because it was not criminalized in the US until 2013. Of rape by envelopment (also known as “unwanted sex” or “unwanted contact” in the literature), women make up the overwhelming majority of perpetrators. I don’t want to overlook that women still make up ~60% of victims when aggregating all the studies. But for male victims, women are overwhelmingly the perpetrators.

For spousal abuse, there’s a 60/40 split for perpetration of physical abuse and a 40/60 split for perpetration of emotional abuse. The assertion that it's nearly always men who engage in spousal abuse is flatly wrong.

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Thanks for the info. However, the articles you've linked to don't support your contention that women and men are assaulted at roughly comparable rates. It's far more common for men to assault women. Do you have a link to research that supports your claim about spousal abuse?

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“Fair enough, but it’s worth noting that it’s nearly always men who rape both men and women - and engage in spousal rape and abuse.” - This breaks down into six statements:

1) It’s nearly always men who rape men

2) It’s nearly always men who rape women

3) It’s nearly always men engage in spousal rape against men

4) It’s nearly always men engage in spousal rape against women

5) It’s nearly always men who engage in spousal abuse against men

6) It’s nearly always men who engage in spousal abuse against women

As for statement 2: “For example, the CDC’s nationally representative data revealed that over one year, men and women were equally likely to experience nonconsensual sex, and most male victims reported female perpetrators. Over their lifetime, 79 percent of men who were “made to penetrate” someone else (a form of rape, in the view of most researchers) reported female perpetrators. Likewise, most men who experienced sexual coercion and unwanted sexual contact had female perpetrators.”

Of male victims, roughly 90% were made to penetrate, and of those 79% of the perpetrators were female. That leads to male victims having female perpetrators ~72% of the time. The assertion that it’s “nearly always men who rape other men” is clearly contradicted by this.

As for statement 5, I’m interpreting “spousal abuse” as “partner violence”. This study finds a 1/3 - 2/3 ratio of partner violence resulting in injury. “Gender Symmetry and mutuality in perpetration of clinical-level partner violence: Empirical evidence and implications for prevention and treatment” in Aggression and Violent Behavior.

Given the rate of injury reported, statement 5 is possible only if gay men are perpetrating partner violence at a rate at least 5x more than straight men. I’m not aware of any study that shows that gay men are more violence prone. Male victims of partner violence overwhelmingly report female perpetrators.

I’m actually not clear on whether statement 3 is true or not, this is one that I’ve never dug into before. I do know that “Examining Men’s Experiences of Abuse From a Female Intimate Partner” in Journal of Interpersonal Violence finds that among male victims of partner violence from female perpetrators, 48% experienced sexual aggression. This might be helpful: “An overview of the literature on female-perpetrated adult male sexual victimization” in Aggression and Violent Behavior.

A retraction of the claims for 1 and 5 would be helpful for these victims.

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Liam the study you mentioned found 41 men across three continents who, the authors say, were hard to find and very slow to recognize they were being abused. My state has about 60 women killed by men each year, and the last year I checked: zero men killed by women. Why would people be so benighted about how violent women are? Do you think the way women are treated most places today and historically was due to this proclivity for violence and rape, it just was not advertised well?

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Good point!

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Here's a problem in the Sc. American article:

It says: "most men who experienced sexual coercion and unwanted sexual contact had female perpetrators.”

and also:

“We also pooled four years of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data and found that 35 percent of male victims who experienced rape or sexual assault reported at least one female perpetrator.”

Problem: this passage says that 65% had only male perpetrators, and 35% had both male and female perpetrators (but suggests more male). This stat contradicts the stat above that “most men who experienced sexual coercion and unwanted sexual contact had female perpetrators.”

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Thanks for the reference on spousal abuse. Can you send me a link for the CDC study? BTW, your 5) duplicates your 3), and your 6) duplicates your 4).

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From the study: “The majority of male rape victims (an estimated 79.3%) had only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims had only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (an estimated 82.6%), sexual coercion (an estimated 80.0%), and unwanted sexual contact (an estimated 54.7%).”

Male lifetime victims for made to penetrate: 7,610,000

Male lifetime victims for rape: 1,971,000

With those percentages for the perpetrator multiplied by the number of victims you can get the total.

This line was also relevant:

“Severe physical violence by an intimate partner (including acts such as being hit with something hard, being kicked or beaten, or being burned on purpose) was experienced by an estimated 22.3% of women and 14.0% of men during their lifetimes and by an estimated 2.3% of women and 2.1% of men in the 12 months before taking the survey.”

That’s 39% of lifetime victims are male, and 48% of the victims from the prior twelve months are male. As I said in the original comment, around 40% is what you see in most studies.

This isn’t obvious from my earlier comments, but in your debate with Bryan, I actually strongly agreed with your overall thesis. There are plenty of gendered issues affecting women and girls and a need for advocates for those issues. Accurately describing male victims doesn’t contradict that.

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Thanks for the link. I had no idea of the extent of female violence. Quite sickening. Glad to hear that you "strongly agreed with my overall thesis"! Maybe you can actually say so in a new comment? :)

Question: Why the distinction between raped males and males who are made to penetrate? It seems to me that the latter group is a subset of the former.

"39% of lifetime victims are male" - victims of what, exactly? Rape?

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I’m sorry for the late reply, it’s been a hectic week at work. I’m happy to make a new comment although unfortunately my delay means that not many people will see it at this point.

re: "Why the distinction between raped males and males who are made to penetrate? It seems to me that the latter group is a subset of the former." -

The leading researcher in the world on sexual assault was Mary Koss (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_P._Koss), who became the advisor to both the CDC and the FBI and wrote the definitions that are used. She did the famous “1 in 5 college women are assaulted” study that you’ve probably seen all over campuses. In her paper (“Detecting the Scope of Rape: A Review of Prevalence Research Methods” in Journal of Interpersonal Violence) she defines forced to penetrate as “unwanted sexual intercourse”:

“Although consideration of male victims is within the scope of the legal statutes, it is important to restrict the term rape to instances where male victims were penetrated by offenders. It is inappropriate to consider as a rape victim a man who engages in unwanted sexual intercourse with a woman.” Page 206

The argument from some feminist theorists is that rape is about power, not about sex, and in a patriarchal system females do not exert power over males so it’s not rape, it’s just unwanted sex. However, Mary Koss’ justification is not based on critical theory at all. She just says she doesn’t believe the victims. Mary Koss did a radio interview where she defended her position (https://soundcloud.com/889-wers/male-rape). The interview with her is off and on from 6:17 - 9:00.

Mary Koss’ input also helped with the FBI definition, which was re-used at the state level. The CDC study we talked about above was very historic in that it was the first time these victims were studied. The prevalence of the incidents led to the FBI revising its definition of sexual assault in 2013, which in turn led states to update their definitions as well. I’m not a legal scholar, so if you’re curious on that topic, Lara Stemple is a law professor and the leading expert on this and would likely be a better resource for you. If you have questions on the statistics though, please let me know.

It’s important to note the term “males” versus “men” when Koss refers to legal statutes. The paper was published in 1993, long before men got the right to consent in 2013. The legal statutes she was referring to were statutory rape. The legal definition also meant that juveniles assaulted by other juveniles do not classify as sexual assault victims. A lot more research has been done since this study and there’s more known about it as this point. One of the most common types of incidents is a teenage boy being assaulted by an older, and stronger, teenage girl. Rates of physical injury are surprisingly similar to female victims. To put it bluntly, there was a national conversation about how it’s not okay to say that a woman who was assaulted was asking for it because of what she was wearing. But there has not been a national conversation about how it’s not okay to say that a teenage boy was asking to be raped just because he had an erection.

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re: "39% of lifetime victims are male" - victims of what, exactly? Rape?

39% of lifetime victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner

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I'm curious what Neera's response to this would be.

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Got to this:

"Fair enough, but it’s worth noting that it’s nearly always men who rape both men and women - and engage in spousal rape and abuse. Why don’t decent men speak up against such men – and in defense of their victims?"

Tried to read more, but every new word caused that insulting lie to resonate.

Badwhar seems unconnected from reality. Decent men abound. They do speak to this. In fact, men in prison for other anti-social behavior murder the worst of these rapists on a regular basis.

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On the first point, it's taken for granted that men don't stand up to "the patriarchy". I think this points to a very narrow focus feminists have on what sacrifices have been made to create a better world for everyone by men. What was the declaration of independence and revolutionary war, if not challenges to an authoritarian "patriarchal" system? What was the bill of rights? What were American men doing in the Civil War, or WW2?

And that brings me to the argumemt that it was always men who were on the bad side. Well, I don't think you can complain that men don't fight the "patriarchy" (wrong) while at the same time complaining about the maleness of the patriarchy. If men are the good guys and the bad guys, it's not much of a complaint against men. Only by minimizing their sacrifice do you get to criticize them.

But I'd ask, what was the nazi woman doing in WW2? What was the southern white woman in the civil war? Were they not benefiting from the patriarchy? Why didn't they stand up en masse? And why not draft all of our women to fight the nazis if they were such an existential threat? These questions are taken for granted by feminists, who by today's logic, should have been rushing to lay down their lives to defeat our authoritarian opponents if they care so much about the "patriarchy".

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While I understand your point, the motives of the US getting involved in WW2 or the Civil War were not the most pure. Nor is it obvious that things could not have resolved themselves in better and more peaceful ways. Maybe not the best examples.

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There are other peaceful examples like the enlightenment for instance. But I personally am moved by how many men died or risked their lives for these greater causes, and how that contrasts against a statement like "men don't fight the patriarchy". You have to believe in the 1619 project and absurdly equivocate our recent past the the truly dominating patriarchies of our pre-enlightenment history, to believe that men haven't en mass made the ultimate sacrifice for a more liberal future for women and men to enjoy.

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I don’t intend this to come off as condescending, I often use this same technique myself. I would suggest Neera put a note on her calendar to come back and re-read these exchanges in a couple of years.

It’s amazing what a couple years of time can do. Time to forget the context of the argument, to forget the strong emotions you felt when writing. And even just time to let the old you pass away and read an argument you made in a much more objective context.

I’ve often gone back and read old stuff I wrote and found that I completely misunderstood my opponents argument, or made serious errors in my own reasoning.

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Good on you for letting her have the last word. That is the gentlemanly thing to do and a noble act indeed. Particularly when she is not entirely correct in her assessment, but a man's word should be his bond.

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Blah blah blah. Moms can murder their babies because they are burdened with pregnancy. Any woman who holds this view doesn’t deserve an intelligent response to the rest of the drivel you don’t comprehend.

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Killing does not automatically equate to murder.

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Huh? How did baddwas post came across this way to you?

Im genuilly curious: is the reason majorly baddwa being pro abortion and resting too much of “women being treated unfairly” on not being allowed to abort babies?

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The post was shockingly bad on logic with respect to the abortion issue. Depending on jurisdiction, a man is going to pay 14 to 20% of income for one child. That is a major burden for at least 18 years of a person's life. Some jurisdictions routinely extend it through college as absurd as that is. I think most people would agree it's at least comparable to having a woman carry a child for 9 months and birth the child but then be able to leave the baby with the state and be off the hook for anything further. Hard to compare what is mostly a physical burden to something that is mostly a financial burden, but the financial burden is big enough that at least the question would be split if you'd ask women if they would go through the pain and discomfort of childbirth for 14% of their income for the next 18 years. Just to put it in perspective, for the median earning man, that's around $126,000 dollars. It's not crazy to think a majority of people would rather go through a pregnancy than lose $126k.

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I compared your 126k against surrogacy incomes to check accuracy. It seems you're right, avg surrogate income is 40-80k. So people are willing to go through a pregnancy for less than that.

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which would suggest some kind of trade is useful, but price to abort might be much different than price to gestate, and it could get gamed.

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fact is easily the most egregious and telling of her inability to process truth.

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Curious on whether pro-life people here always held their pro-life opinion or were prochoice in the past: and whether they had mostly the same intuitions throughout life

I never had strong feelings on abortion, and moved to pro choice from different thought experiments:

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Started pro-choice, for reasons of female autonomy. Became gradually less sure, perhaps leaning slightly pro-life, as I got older and thought through the position more carefully. Then I had a child, and became pro-life, and actually rather angry with myself for what I now realise was wilful blindness and cowardice.

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what do you mean by wilful blindness and cowardice? that you sort of already knew your intuition or the facts and ignored it out of social pressure? that you didn't care to think it through? or something else?

My intuition on social pressure would be that theres globally social pressure to be against abortion, but that could be wrong: i dont know really.

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I mean that I allowed myself to be strongly swayed by social pressure and the desire to fit in, rather than an honest assessment. Where I live, being pro-life is very declassé.

No doubt in other times and places, there is social pressure in the other direction. I have no idea how it shakes out on average globally.

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Started as an “it’s complicated” fence sitter until my own kid was born in the 2nd trimester. Arguments that imply people like that don’t deserve legal protection now strike me as morally absurd.

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Did you discover an intuition that you think you always had, or did you change in some way? Neither option means your right or wrong, but it would be interesting for me to maybe examine later if parenthood changes peoples moral judgement on the matter

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Probably, the intuition was always there, but I could prevent myself from noticing it (perhaps because it’s a low status position in my local culture) until circumstances changed and made that too difficult.

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being anti abortion is low status in sweden from what i can see: we actally had several big parties talking about adding Abortion rights to our constitution when the USA overturned Roe vs Wade

felt kinda ridicolous to me personally. But being against abortion is only rarely talked about from the Christian democrats ( 8% votes), and more frequently from the far right wing party "the swedish democrats" (20-ish%) though i dont know how often they talk about it

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I grew up pro-life. I'm curious what thought experiments moved you?

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(I grew up in mormon church sweden, which while pro life is very secular compared to US branch: just some context)

Were some time ago but if i recall correctl:

Peter singers thought experiments;

Considerations on how god would have designed a system where aborted babies are murdered, cause in my eyes that should also mean that way more babies are irrevocably indirectly murdered from natural causes in the mother or other things shortly after bein GB born, and emotionally that always felt really odd to me;

Im now an atheist, but i did believe somewhat in god when youngef

Sorry if this wasnt particurly helpful

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Interesting. Thanks for sharing. Do you think your current atheism is connected to your current pro-choice beliefs? Or are they independent of each other?

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Hm, i came to my pro choice believes several years before my atheism beliefs: and religious people in sweden are unusually likely to be prochoice

So i dont think they are very connected, but there is likely some small connection

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Very interesting. Again, I really appreciate you sharing. I am both very pro-life and very Christian, but while I don't think that's unconnected, my argument for being pro-life doesn't reference anything specifically religious that I know of. So I'm generally curious about people's experiences and beliefs on that.

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My point by point reply:

1. I believe that the more traditional and non-feminist a man is, the more likely he is to support harsh punishments for rape--including the death penalty. Of course, with harsh punishments come high standards for evidence. I'm not sure which men she's complaining about.

2. Nothing to complain about here, except the ridiculous hyperbole calling unregulated workplaces "sanctuary for sexual assaulters".

3. Is she seriously saying that a woman who does domestic labor without explicit monetary compensation is abused? Bryan never said anything about a man "imposing" a situation, he implied mutual agreement. Is this a foreign concept? Also, she apparently doesn't know the difference between the "fairness police" and the actual police. It's like feminism causes people to lose the ability to comprehend English.

4. Not sure she's trying to refute anything, just letting us know that men are terrible. Thanks a lot.

5. This is a valid point, except that there was(in some places) active discouragement of men's immorality. I don't think shotgun weddings are just an urban legend.

6. "In other words, siccing government agents on women’s bodies . . . is no worse than requiring men to pay for the children they fathered." In other other words, siccing government agents on men's bodies(proving Caplan's point). What do you think happens to men who don't pay child support? Most of this point is ridiculous hysteria anyway, since recent laws(like the Texas one) explicitly target the abortionist, not the woman. Finally, many women support abortion restrictions, which hollows out the claims of victimization.

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Personally feel badwar is slightly more right here

Though a lotnof this falls on abortion discussions: im proabortion myself

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I think that's probably true, as a pro-lifer, I'm pretty skeptical of Badwar's claims about the criminalization of miscarriage (for examples of why I find the kinds of argument she's making not just wrong, but hideously evil, this thread: https://twitter.com/politicalmath/status/1618478696322732033). But I also find the implied argument "so called decent men are NOT speaking up against rape" the kind of bullying tactics seen with the redefinition of racism by Kendi and diAngelo, where "rape" is redefined to mean "rape culture" and then simplified to "patriarchy".

Especially after reading Louise Perry's The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, I'm pretty much fed up and done with Badawar's brand of 3rd Wave Feminism that is dedicated to denying and destroying reality and morality - and the happiness of women AND men.

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Thank you very much for posting this, Bryan.

My latest 3-part on Sexism: https://www.mattball.org/search?q=sexism

Part of: https://www.mattball.org/search?q=bryan

Happy weekend to everyone who isn't angry at women!

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I think that it's not a contradiction to agree with Neera's point that women and girls face all sort of gendered challenges and need advocates for them, and also Bryan's point that "Even when the males are literally dying, it remains rhetorically easier to get people to lament the collateral misery of the women who knew the fallen...claims about the unfair treatment of women capture our attention because men and women in our society especially abhor the unfair treatment of women."

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When I see how women are treated in this world and what they bear on themselves i can echo the sentiment of a phrase I once heard, "Praise Allah I was not born a woman."

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It is interesting to see the degree of bryan caplans audience that is anti abortion/pro-life: im swedish and 80% of people i know is pro-choice, with the exceptions being some religious people

Personally i think we are kinda geneticlly hardcoded to think abortion is murder or not: peoples opinions are after a certiain amount of learning or experience about the world, suprisingly consistent across time

I dont think i ever felt anti abortion in any way growing up, despite growing up in mormon church: i just took it at face value that it was bad when people mentioned it, and then read a bunch of books and came to a conclusion, and changed my mind: closest thing to beinged chocked around abortion was reading Peter Singers work, otherwise i havnt ever had visceral experiences.

I consider abortion and not getting a baby to about similar in moral badness: im pro natalism, but mostly just want people to get more kids.

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Mar 3, 2023·edited Mar 3, 2023

There's some conflation of commenters' convictions and their revulsion at the way Neera is expressing hers. One could literally be a doctor performing abortions at a clinic and still be disgusted by some obnoxious crybully ignoring all the important points in the discussion because a few states where she doesn't live passed laws that won't actually do anything meaningful to restrict access to abortion. It's the poor quality of argumentation that brings out the apparently anti-abortion sentiment here, I suspect.

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I think that peoples views on abortion mostly correlate to their views on the sexual revolution. Pro-sexual revolution religious people don't seem to have a big problem with it, and anti-sexual revolution seculars sometimes have a problem with it.

Some people have consistent views but mostly "how did you get pregnant in the first place" seems to have a big impact on peoples view of abortion.

Anyway, there is a big divergence between:

1) Being obsessively into the welfare and rights of the weak and vulnerable (say, third world immigrants)

2) Completely denying the rights of the unborn

Like, I understand the consistency of a pro-life Christian and also does a bunch of mission trips to the third world or something. They are applying empathy everywhere. I don't really understand caring a bunch of the third world underclass but being OK with millions of legal murders a year. Seems like really selective empathy.

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The notion that because we use the same phrase ("human life") for a three week old fetus and a seven year old means the two things are equivalent is idiocy.

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Problem is finding the point of transition. At conception there is new DNA, a new person. I think abortion should be allowed up to ~16 weeks but I realize that that is arbitrary. I envy religious people for the clarity of their position.

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Where does the line change when you can start comparing humans of different ages and it's not idiocy?

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That is too strongly expressed, but i do agree that it is weird equating a three week old fetus and a seven year old when saying human life

"Potential for human life" seems more appropriate for the fetus. Then, if killing a potential for human life is murder, well that can be argued more fruitfully

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I suppose im one of those people that thinks we should care more for third world people or animals, but dont consider abortion that bad

In essense, i mostly view abortion as stopping an intelligent preference from happening in the future; morally it weights the same to me as deciding not to get kids, so its bad but not really terrible; and from what ive noticed people usually get a fix amount of kids, so the aborted baby is usually pretty replacable

So i view a couple getting 3 kids as essentially the same as a couple getting pregnant 4 times, but having an abortion once, the latter one being slightly worse.

If someone never gets kids and aborts constantly, thats bad

Personally, ive never really understood where people should draw the line for abortion, and always thought a bit too much about the millions of sperm that never get to come to life no matter how sexually reproductive a parent is

That might actually be a good metaphor in a way: i think abortion is basically wasting sperms and eggs; but not really murder in any way, untill the baby has pretty established preferences at some point; and some people have high empathy for that baby at various points, but untill the baby gets certain preference/intelligence levels, it doesnt matter that much

Im pronatalist myself though, and have offered my cousing babysitting and extra cash for getting more babies: and i frequently argue against people saying that getting more kids is bad for the envirement. Im irked by that

I do sometimes think about what would have happened if my parents had sex 1 minute later, as a different sperm than me would have reached the egg; and personally that doesnt feel cery creepy, just sorta odd, and i used that as. Reference point for some abortion views i suppose

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1) I agree that pro-natalism is more about having kids than whether or not you get an abortion. I consider someone who had four kids but aborted one because it had Downs Syndrome to be better than a childless couple that never had an abortion.

2) You can draw the line on moral worth anywhere. I value third world people very lowly, less than an aborted baby with potential. Animals I don't value at all.

The point is that "I'm very empathetic in general" is a position I can understand, but mixing and matching empathy stances while claiming to be the king of empathy seems a hypocritical exercise to me.

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(i dont think i said im the king of empathy? I mean, i obviously consider myself to be good in some way, but i try to be more gently encouraging.)

I dont think empathy is very useful generally, rather cold reasoning and welfare calculations is usually better.

And even if you go maximum intuition, or maximum utilitarianism, You always need to make some value judgements as for why "this is good", "that is bad" and Etc. And it will basically always seem really weird to some people.

My morality is a mixture of Utilitarianism and some deontology/intuitism.

Personally the things that accounts for moral meaning and weight for me is:


(how happy or miserable is the agent?)


(is the agent generally free to act and come to agreements with other agents without being imposed on unvolontarly?)

Established Contracts and interests

(keeping promises, long term plans)


(X risks, stopping nuclear wars and things like that)

And progress

(economic growth, academic growth, growing in potential)

One part of this is also that i think an agent has to have established interests to much matter in moral contracts, or have on its own established promises and contracts with other.

So a brain dead patient with absolutely no hope of recovery is, usually, not more morally relevant than a dead person honestly: The family usually cares a great deal though, so som rituals are appropriate.

Then there are a bunch of stuff that gives me welfare or meaning, but doesnt really matter metaphysicly if we were looking from a neutral creators point of view like:

art, family, relationships, spirituality, health, nation, community, history, wealth, etc

All of that stuff is instrumental, and some of it like family and art i care about a great deal! But it doesnt have inherent moral worth, its just usually extremely usefull to treat it as shorthands for giving people utility

If any of that stuff is holy, then making decisions is just impossible most of the time cause there are always tradeoffs

anyway, there are some other aspects as well

1: I dont think distance matters that much meta-morally: a swedish person dying would be as bad as a, say, american person dying.

I would of course be far more devestated if someone close to me died, and i would likely spend way more resources selfishy to help them. ive made peace with that, as i cant function if i actually act Altruisticly fully. so i do it a bit on the margin (10-20%income to charity)

Anyway: whether i value A certain person or thing cause its close to me is seperate from inherent moral value.

2: relationships doesnt determine that one person is morally much more important than someone else: A person you know passing away, would on the whole be as bad as a person i know passing away, altough i would naturally care far more for the person close to me

Contracts add a wrinkle in that as they add predictiablity and long term thinking, and there are admitibly tons of non verbal agreements and contracts. And usually it works out fine to jut use your instincts

so when it comes to fetuses, how does all these things apply?

In my view, not that much.

On a score board: (im keeping A score of very Low (1), medium (3) and very high (5), for all of them so as to tally it up later)

1: welfare: They dont have preferences yet.

so 1 point

2: Contracts. There isnt a contract or agreement before that really; and its usually a vague social contract or tradition, which weights weakly imo. so weak evidence for abortion being bad there.

2 or 3 points

3: Freedom and capacity doesnt make much sense to use for it, not untill it has grown into a proper human being so thats nill:

1 point

4: As for progress and longtermism thinking, the case is strongest here: people also usually overestimate their misery from having an unwelcome baby, so if someone on the fence asked me about abortion, i would advice them to not do it, partly for moral uncertainty reasons, but also because if there isnt strong established interests against it, and the counterfactual isnt that there wont just be a different baby, than its better for progress to have more kids

Here the score is 4 for me, altough if you proved to me that abortions had a super high correlation with not having another different child at all, then it would be


How does the criteria work out for thirld world people (global poor), or animals?


Global poor has clear established welfare, and theres a great deal of them. just looking at one person, thats still tangiable welfare.

poor gets 5.

Animals also definitely feel pain and pleasure, though the higher senses or meanings of it is debatable. But it would be extremely evolutionarly weird for them to not have welfare concerns.

Because there are from what i can remember, trillions upon trillions of animals, they get 9 here. sorry im cheating, but also the numbers are staggering.

Fetuses had 1. if you convinced me they felt pain when aborted, then maybe 3?

2: Contracts;

The global poor: There are plenty of clearly bad and imoral stuff that we should impose like trade tarrifs, and other policies. Medium strong here.

4 probably?

Non existent for animals currently, altough i think the extreme welfare concerns outweigh it. it can be argued that we have moral duty to not cause unnecessary pain, but thats a different point.


Fetuses had 3, though they should have 2 imo.

3: freedoom and capacity:

Global poor: They have evident potential and capacity, and can use freedom if actually allowed. So strong case here for moral concern.


Animals: not relevant really. A little bit appliable to higher functioning species, and could ge argued for certain natural rights, but thats just welfare.

Still, just 1

Fetuses also had 1

Long termism and progress:

Animals have 1 here.

Global poor have probably 5

Fetuses had 4

Adding up the scores, thats

For the global poor: 24

for animals : 12

For fetuses 9

So fetuses get in last place there.

I dont personally feel strongly about any one individual animal, fetus, or poor person: they are way to far away from me for that.

Thats basiclly how i think about fetuses, and maybe its gross but i thought that i should be fully transparant. I also wanted to be open on what points would convince me. If someone would convince me of the various points i made, the score would rise up from 9 to 12 or 13. And edge out animal welfare.

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I don't know what your claims are as far as empathy goes.

I think primarily of the sub stack authors stance that:

1) We have to support Open Borders because third worlders have a fundamental human right to immigrate, even if it destroyed the entire world.

2) It's OK to abort millions of babies a year because they have no human rights.

(Bryan stays away from taking a strong abortion as far as I can tell, but this combination is very popular amongst libertarians in his circle).

I find that combination very odd. I get the stance of my christian friends (both have value and human rights) but not that combination of extreme empathy and extreme indifference. I could accept "these are just my subjective values and the reasoning behind them" as a defense but usually the person implies they are objectively morally superior (certainly Bryan does).

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I think human rights is basically made up, and a construct we use to change the world or influence others

And i dont really think Fetuses/pre-babies have any rights so to speak, as they have very little welfare, and very little influene

i dont think bryan caplan ever said that Third worlders have immutable rights to immigrate if it destroys the world? just that he finds it extremely implausable and more something that people conjur up images of their culture being ruined, and that people generally dislike change. and being pessemistic.

As for abortion: if i recall correctly he is somewhat pro life? i found this looking back at the archives: though Bryan weights utilitarianism as something to use mostly when things are unclear, or if the results are extreme


Im sorry if i seem like a monster to you, but i dont really know how to think further about this right now. I understand that given the base intuition of babies of having human rights, that there is essentially a sort of genocide yearly, and that must be utterly existentially awful on a pure gut level.

i sorta felt that way around animal suffering and factory farming for a while, but i decided that my angst about it accomplished nothing while cooking vegetarian helped a tiny bit. But if one believes abortion is murder, then its hard to do the same thing as One death isnt just welfare math.

I dont know what the equivalent for working against abortion is. Im sorry if i wasted your time

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So why give her the last word?

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Common courtesy? Isnt that usually what you do in back and forths like this, when you dont have much more to say?

They seem to be talking past each other in lots of ways

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Do you comprehend the context of “common courtesy”? Common courtesy is holding a door rather than allowing it to close in the next person’s face. Common courtesy is not eating in front of others who are hungry and have no food. Common courtesy is NOT allowing a screed of worn out tropes and half-baked justifications, punctuated by assertions that because women are the biological bearers of human offspring somehow justifies their slaughter of their children. Common courtesy would take more than one person into account. allowing that rambling bigoted diatribe to simply hang there unaddressed may be “courteous” to the author but it is not “courteous” to seekers of truth and fairness and should not be common.

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