Kat Woods

4477 karmaJoined Sep 2014


Topic contributions

Thanks for writing this! Found it really inspiring and uplifting.

I think you're right that Benjamin Lay, who we're currently celebrating, would totally be banned from EA events and blacklisted by the Community Health Team. 

The same would happen for most historical moral heroes, like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. 

If a community that is trying to be morally ambitious would ban people who, in retrospect, are considered moral heroes, this should make us reconsider our current starndards and processes. 

So there's no confirmed person aside from the one listed, but there could feasibly be more? 

Is there anybody aside from the one person publicly listed who asked you to stop expressing interest or asked you to stop talking to them or anything like that? 

When this is a situation involving a junior woman and a senior man, social behavior patterns of women being afraid of telling someone "no" often make this worse.

I do think many women experience fear around this, and many have troubles expressing their wants in general. Many don't though. What's the solution then? 

Should we encourage women to be strong, to do things that scare them, to stand up for themselves? Should we encourage women to tell people what they want instead of holding it in and not getting their needs met?

Or should we make it so they're never in situations that they might feel scared? Should we protect women from any danger, including the danger of being asked out and it feeling awkward to say no? 

I think the former is a better solution. 

It might mean, especially when the person who's doing that is your boss/mentor/someone more senior than you, that you don't feel like you can (clearly) refuse


It looks like this is saying that women can't say no to powerful men? Why is that? 

I assume that women are strong and independent and if a powerful person tells them to do something, they can say no just fine, just like anybody else. 

Am I missing something? 

OK. Does it make a difference that the only instance where we have public details, Owen wasn't making sexual advances in his house? He just mentioned, to a friend where they were both doing radical honesty with each other, inspired by circling, that he was going to masturbate that day. When she wasn't in the house. Not masturbating about her or anything. Just that he'd do what the vast majority of guys do every day. 

She was a friend, not a colleague. He wasn't doing professional connecting people with jobs or anything like that. He only started that role later. 

It's a weird thing to say in most contexts, but if you're friends and have mutually agreed radical honesty, it seems fine. It would be like attending a circling event (where radical honesty is expected). As long as people are choosing to do it, then they're adults and can do what they want. 

Now, it's unclear whether he also expressed romantic interest in others while at his house, and it's also unclear whether such people were working for/with him or were visting his house as a friend, etc. 

I would like to recognize that I have a lot of empathy for the EV board. I think that no matter what decision they made, they would get criticized. That's a really hard position to be in and I hope that their friends are reaching out to them and sending them comfort and funny gifs. 

I personally don't hold anything against them, because I think it's really hard to do things like this and ethics is complicated and fundamentally unsolved. 

I hope they can find some solace in this situation: if people are going to critcize you no matter what you do, you can simply make the decision you think is right instead of trying to please the public, which are fundamentally unpleasable, because there's too many of us.  

Owen says in his response

My understanding is that I always followed the letter of policy on when to recuse. 

I'm curious to hear whether the OP disagree with this. Do they think that he broke the rules on conflict of interest? Or do they think that he did indeed follow the rules, but there were some instances where there were unspoken rules or hard to make judgment calls that he didn't realize? 

I assumed it's obvious to everyone that it's a bad idea to make [things that are perceived as] unwanted romantic or sexual advances towards people, and that serious action should be taken if someone receives repeated complaints about that.

@lyra Can you clarify what you mean by this? 

It reads like you're saying that if you ask somebody out and they say no (aka unwanted romantic advances), that this is obviously bad and that serious action should be taken against you? This seems clearly wrong, because it would mean that virtually all people who've ever asked somebody out should have serious actions taken against them. 

Or is it saying only to take serious actions if somebody makes repeated romantic advances despite the person saying they're not interested? 

If the latter, only one anonymous woman claims this happened to her ("In at least one case, Owen did not stop making repeated unwanted attempts at contact after being asked to do so") and Owen says that he has written evidence that this didn't happen (see the "On feedback" section).

Given that he's been very forthcoming about everything else, so doesn't seem to be hiding anything, that he says he has written evidence to the contrary, and it seems to go against most people who know him's priors, I'm inclined to believe him until further evidence is provided. 

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