Schrodinger’s Rapist is not about “all men are rapists.”
It is not even about “all men are potential rapists.” All men are, in fact, potential rapists, in much the same sense as all women are potential rapists, and all brunettes are potential rapists. All people are potential rapists, because rape is not a function of anything about a person except the fact that they rape people.
It is about “a very significant proportion of women will, when you approach them, be assessing whether you are going to be That Asshole, and it is in your best interest to ensure their conclusion is not that you are.”
Nearly every woman has an experience with That Asshole. That Asshole is, very simply, a person who disrespects the boundaries and “leave me alone” signals of others.
That Asshole calls you a bitch when you say politely but firmly “please leave me alone.” That Asshole follows you down two city blocks, you walking as quickly as you can and hoping he gets bored before you go to a place that’s too deserted. That Asshole calls “nice ass” at you from out of a moving car. That Asshole backs you into a corner at the bar, looming over you, and asks you for your phone number. That Asshole kisses you even though you didn’t want it, takes your clothes off even if you didn’t want it, fucks you even if you didn’t want it.
That Asshole makes up only a tiny percentage of men. However, he has poisoned the well for everyone else.
I think a lot of men underestimate the fear most women have around rape. For instance, I am the happiest little slut you could ever hope to meet. However, I would never have sex with a man whom a friend, or a friend of a friend, didn’t vouch for, because he might kidnap, rape and murder me. On a rational level, I know the chance of me getting murdered because of Craigslist Casual Encounters W4M is about as likely as me getting hit by lightning. However, on the emotional level, my brain associates “sex with men I don’t know” with “getting murdered.”
This may be related to why so few women have casual sex with men: it’s the natural side effect of a culture that says that having casual sex will get you raped, not watching your drink will get you raped, getting drunk will get you raped, going outside at midnight will get you raped, wearing a short skirt will get you raped, fucking wearing a ponytail will get you raped. That kind of thing can make a girl paranoid.
A significant minority, and maybe even the majority, of women, before a potentially non-platonic interaction, are not thinking “I wonder if we have anything in common, I wonder if he likes me”, but “I wonder what shit This Asshole is going to pull.”
That means you have to distinguish yourself from those people. The feminists are trying to give you pickup advice here! If a woman is suspicious that you’re going to rape her, she is not going to want to sleep with you.
This means that you should never, ever disrespect a person’s boundaries (if they say “leave me alone” or communicate it through body language such as turning away and picking up a book, don’t keep talking to them). It also means you should be aware of circumstances that may make even a perfectly natural approach more threatening and understand that, as a completely random example, you should not attempt to pick up a woman whom you have never spoken to before at 4 am in an enclosed space while she is in a foreign country, after she has stated that she is tired and wants to go to bed, and that she is tired of getting hit on at conventions of the sort she’s going to. That is probably a bad idea.
Schrodinger’s Rapist is what Captain Awkward, advice columnist to the socially awkward geeks of the world, calls the gift of fear. (Okay, technically it comes from a book by Gavin de Becker, but Captain Awkward is where I first heard about it, so she gets the credit.) The gift of fear is basically this: listen to your fear. Our brains developed to handle social interactions over millennia. If someone is afraid of someone else, it might be because the other person is socially awkward and not aware of what signals they’re giving off– or it might be because the person is a predator. Therefore, it is the right of every person to refuse social interaction with any other person at any time, even if it’s only because “they seem creepy to me.”
In fact, men should also develop their own gifts of fear. True, very few men have to deal with street harassment, but abuse and rape are not female-only things, and That Assholes often come in female guise. While many predators are not identifiable, and not identifying a predator doesn’t mean you “deserved” to be raped (as if anyone can deserve that!), identifying patterns of behavior that predators practice, dangerous situations, people who disrespect your clear boundaries and anything that gives you the twinge of not-right, and taking whatever measures necessary to avoid the situation, can make the difference between being a victim and not.
Ami Angelwings, Sometimes You Just Don’t Know >:|
Holly Pervocracy, How Not To Be Creepy.
Ozymandias (yes, I am citing myself in my own further reading, deal with it), Being A Socially Awkward Creep.