Schrödinger’s Rapist- excellent point!

If you’ve never heard of Schrödinger’s Cat, it’s a thought experiment worth a read. Understanding that will make this entry a bit

Is it or isn't it?

more clear. In a nutshell, it’s a paradox devised by Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. Picture this: there’s a cat in a box. It might or might not be dead. You won’t know until you open then box. (I know, it’s sick, but roll with me…I’m going somewhere important with this analogy, especially if you are or know a woman.) Schrödinger came up with this experiment in response to an interpretation of quantum mechanics, like you do, and the point was to theorize that the cat may or may not be considered to be alive unless and until an observer confirms it.

I know, I just got a nosebleed too…

Basically, until you confirm it, you have no way of knowing for sure if your theory is correct. That is the key point that us non-quantum-physicists need to remember for this post.

Moving on.

A FB friend who always has interesting stuff on her wall had a link to this article:

Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced

Sounded intriguing. So I read the article, and there are some amazing points in it that I think don’t get considered enough, especially by men.  First, she states that, basically, to a woman, if you approach her in public (with even the most romantic and benign intentions for lifelong companionship…or you think she’s pretty and want her number), she must, by virtue of the society we live in and by virtue of taking responsibility for her own safety, assume that you are Schrödinger’s Rapist.

In other words:

“When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions. If you expect me to trust you—to accept you at face value as a nice sort of guy—you are not only failing to respect my reasonable caution, you are being cavalier about my personal safety.”

I think she puts it pretty clearly.  You (gentleman or lady who is making the approach) know that all you want a phone number; but she doesn’t know whether or not you are the type to take no for an answer. So she has to move forward with her safety in mind. Depending on how you react, she reads your signals as either someone who respects her boundaries, or someone who is going to ignore her signals and boundaries to get what you want. We women are always on the lookout for these signals. Always.

A few fantastic points that she makes in the post:

1) “You must accept that I set my own risk tolerance.”

2) “You must be aware of what signals you are sending by your appearance and the environment.” (Translation: If you approach me in a dark alley, I’m going to run.)

3) “Women are communicating all the time. Learn to understand and respect women’s communication to you.”

4) “If you fail to respect what women say, you label yourself a problem.”

The author goes on to point out, quite rightly, that

“...if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.

I just can’t say it any better than that.

The reason I think this is important to pass on is that women are constantly told that our safety is our responsibility- but that we shouldn’t be impolite- unless we’re being chased down the street by a knife-wielding maniac. And then it might be okay to be less than lady-like.  Mixed signals galore. But I think men aren’t often taught points #3 and #4 (listed above), and aren’t told that they are responsible for their signals. Many men (and I’m speaking from personal experience now) expect that I’ll just know that they are interested in me. And that I should be flattered. And that I should stop what I’m doing to play the game. Only I often don’t want to play the game. Most of the time, I can tell in 2 seconds whether or not I want to talk to you.  I am reading your signals. And I’m watching out for my safety.

These points need to be taught- in middle school at the latest– to boys and girls, so that they have a better understanding (and, yes, I think it is a quantifiably better/superior/more complete understanding) of who is responsible for what in the dating game. Too many women are stuck with unfair and unsustainable responsibility in the public sphere to both protect themselves and not damage male egos.  Not many women are taught that their boundaries are worth protecting, but they are told quite clearly that they will get blamed if they don’t walk a fine line perfectly.

Anyway, the post caught my eye, taught me something about quantum physics, and helped me to articulate some ideas that have been rolling around in my head for a long time about how to handle certain public situations. It also made me wonder about the idle thoughts of scientists. A cat in a box? Seriously?


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