Guest post: The actual conduct

Originally a comment by Screechy Monkey on False marketing.

It’s fair enough to say that a single incident (or a small number of incidents) doesn’t change one’s overall view of what the optimal policy should be to a given issue. We don’t accept the anti-vaxxer argument that a single death from a vaccine means that vaccines are dangerous and should not be approved or mandated. We don’t think that men should be banned from leaving their homes at night, even if it might prevent some violent crimes. The “if it saves ONE life (or avoids ONE assault, etc.) then it’s worth it” argument doesn’t hold water.

But Penny really should be re-evaluating her position here, because this isn’t just a matter of cost-benefit analysis, or a “bad apple” or two. There seems to be a fundamental contradiction between Penny’s original position (it’s perfectly fine for a male-bodied person to strut around a women’s changeroom naked as long as they say they’re a woman, and the only blame should attach to the person, adult or child, who fails to avert her eyes from the penis) and her apparent concession now that this individual was a “predator” who is a “disgrace” and committed a “crime.”

After all, what, in Penny’s eyes, did this predator do at WiSpa that was wrong? There’s no indication that the actual conduct at WiSpa is different from what was previously alleged/reported. Only the known details of the perpetrator’s background have changed. How did he go from “poor innocent person being discriminated against despicably simply for being naked in a place where she had every right to be” to “predator who committed a crime,” when the actual conduct has not apparently changed? How did the complainants at WiSpa go from “evil fucking TERFs who should stop looking at other people’s genitals and oppressing minorities” to “victims of a crime”?

It’s not a coherent position to say “it’s ok to strut around a women’s changeroom displaying your penis, provided that you don’t have a history of convictions for sexual offenses.” The impact on the other patrons is the same regardless of the penis-waver’s personal history or subjective belief, neither of which they can really ascertain. And of course, savvy sexual offenders can now confine their exhibitionism to these situations, in which case the Laurie Pennys of the world will insist that they aren’t sexual offenders at all.

What does Penny advise a woman to do in the future if she’s confronted with a situation like this? Or the staff at a spa? Check the penis-haver’s identification and run a criminal background check to determine whether it’s ok to be upset, or to take any action? Not only is that impractical, but I suspect that Penny would insist it’s a vile discriminatory practice to insist on background checks for penis-havers in the women’s changeroom — indeed, the second quoted tweet says as much.

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