Saving the Damsel in Distress
It hasn’t been all that long ago that men in general were being castigated by news agencies around the world for “being selfish” by heading for life boats and refusing to give up their seats to women during the sinking of the Costa Concordia. A couple of years ago, I remember news accounts of how a man noticed a little girl who was all by herself and simply passed her by without stopping to help due to fears that he may be accused of wrongdoing. The girl was found dead; apparently drowned in a fountain (if memory serves correctly). The media was shocked that this man could have been so callous. There were those that believed that he should have been charged with some sort of crime.
Now this story comes along (Man Who Offered Lift To Teen Girls Says He’s Victim Of ‘Good Deed Gone Wrong’). A man saw two teenage girls walking along the road during a snowstorm without coats or hats to keep them dry and warm and asked if they needed assistance. When they refused, he drove away. According to police, the girls were “alarmed and disturbed” by the man’s actions. They took down his license plate and called police. Three days later he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Apparently, in Barrington,Illinois it is a crime for a man to speak to a teenage girl.
The Barrington Police chief said that he should have called police rather than speaking to the girls. Given police response times, especially for non-emergent calls, the girls may have frozen to death before they could have arrived. They may have ended up exactly like that little girl who drowned in the fountain.
Schrödinger’s Rapist is a man who approaches a woman who is uncertain as to whether or not he poses a threat (specifically the threat of being a rapist). She is afraid of him and acts as though he is in fact, a threat in order to protect herself. In her mind he is both a rapist and not a rapist at the same time (this is an analogy to Schrödinger’s cat). In a recent article, I define the woman as Schrödinger’s Sexist. She is attempting to defend herself by treating the man as though he poses a threat, but by so doing, her actions are based solely on gender stereotypes. (In the Schrödinger analogy she is the person viewing the box wondering whether or not the cat is alive or dead.)
These girls (and the police officers who arrested the man) are acting as though he was (is) a rapist. That he had no such intent and was merely offering help makes no difference. He is a rapist simply because he might be a rapist. This makes the girls and the officers into Schrödinger’s sexists. They are the ones who treat the man as though he is a rapist whether he is or whether he is not. When all men are seen as threats, society loses. We end up with little girls drowning in fountains instead of being happily reunited with their mothers because men are afraid of being treated like Schrödinger’s rapist.
Thanks to Christian J. for finding the story.