This is especially important to get some clarity on since most people's priors about how a community or community health team makes these decisions is based on their experiences from other communities they may be a part of like their universities, workplaces, social groups. If the Community Health team's values or weights in this area are different to those of non-EA communities, it is absolutely essential for people to know this.I would go far enough to say that depending on the difference in values and the difference in approaches to sexual harassment (etc) policy, not offering clarity here can be considered as being deceptive because it prevents people from making their own decisions based on how they value their personal safety and well-being.
I agree that two young (low seniority) EAs from different fields dating is low risk to them. It avoids issues created by power imbalances. I don't see issues in such propositioning, especially in more casual/social settings.
If two senior EAs from different fields date, the risk of harassment stemming from power imbalances is much lower than the senior and junior EA from same field scenario. It could be viewed as problematic from 'a gatekeeping/preferential treatment at the expense of other EAs' perspective. But people could argue this scenario still has more rewards than risks.
If we find that there is a way for people in the low risk scenarios to date each other, while at the same time assuring against the high risk one, I'd be on board with it. My main issue is if our answer to this is to say 'let the current norms/policies be' because we can defer to the goodness or good judgement of high seniority EAs to act appropriately.
I do believe that the majority of them might even behave ethically, but policies and systems are usually not created with them in mind. They are in place so that the minority of people who engage in bad behavior are not attracted to our spaces knowing that it's easy for them to slip through the cracks here.
There's one important consideration I didn't see anyone mention in the comments here or on that twitter poll. This statement would be viewed very positively 30 years ago (by people who cared about racism/sexism) when it may have been very rare. Since it is commonplace now, the signal is week but maybe still positive.
However, a more important consideration is what signal the lack of such a statement gives. Especially now that it is so commonplace. If I'm trying to pick between 10 software accounting firms to apply to and only 2 are missing this statement (which is very plausible today), I would interpret the lack of even a simple/vague/low-accountability (and thereby low-cost) statement as a strong negative signal.
People choose whom they date and befriend - no-one is forcing EAs to date each other, live together, or be friends.
I don't think the issue is once of explicit 'force'. It is one of implicit expectation, social pressure from 'soft norms'.
Ordinary workplaces do team-building exercises because they recognise that there are productivity and morale benefits when colleagues trust each other, respect each other, and have fun together. If you work with friends - or befriend your coworkers, e.g. by regularly hanging out with them outside of work, or sharing a group house together - you get these benefits for free.
IMO there is a lot of difference between team building exercises vs encouraging (including 'soft norm' pressure) living with and dating your co-workers.
There is a lot more exposure to risks, especially to vulnerable groups from the latter.
Ordinary workplaces err on the side of workplace romance policies that limit risks to their employees and the reputation of the workplace. I don't think we can reasonable argue that EA organizations/workplaces/professional spaces are immune from these risks.
'Ordinary workplaces' have learnt how some behaviors increase discrimination and harm towards vulnerable groups the hard way (after decades of harmful behavior towards vulnerable groups). For example, going to a strip club is no longer an acceptable form of team building exercise. I believe there is a lot to be learnt from conventional workplaces that have spent a very long time harming these groups and limiting their access to workplaces. The last thing we would want to do is repeat these mistakes because of biased beliefs that we are too good or too smart to make them.
If you want to get rid of something, you should first try to make sure that it’s not importantly load-bearing first;
I'd be interested in trying to figure this out (maybe through a survey).
What value do different groups in the community get from various kinds of experiences in EA spaces?
For example, I'm curious how most women would weigh being in an EA space (including EAGs, local EA events, EA houses, EA camps and training events etc)
a) that lets them access healthy professional networks free from the tensions of inappropriate* sexual/romantic advances
b) being in an EA space where they are able to date EAs.
(There is a tradeoff here.)
I am also curious if men in the community have an opposing view - if so, it might be important to think about how the existing state of the community (that may have been shaped by the views of the majority gender) may make it less attractive to women currently in or considering joining the community.
(This example is obviously hypothetical but I do have a suspicion that a greater percentage of women would weigh a) higher than b) )
Similarly, I am also curious about how different locations/EA organizations/cause area sub groups weigh these choices.
*example of inappropriate - young EA job seekers being propositioned by potential bosses/seniors in their field after making it clear to them that they were looking for job opportunities/contacts/mentoring in that field.
Strongly agree with this. "the idea becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others. This hegemony can be so easily established because the idea of "structurelessness" does not prevent the formation of informal structures, only formal ones."
The Tyranny of Structurelessnes
Additionally what might work well for a group of 10 may quickly become impractical when the group scales.
This thread, and these kinds of discussions are very revealing and worth pursuing to the end.Let's go with Scott Alexander's estimate of a 3% lifetime chance of a man being falsely accused of rape and a 15% chance of a woman being raped. Let's assume EA is 70% men vs 30% women.
How much "weight" should the community give to guarding against false accusations vs to guarding against the prevalence of sexual abuse (since not believing accusations lets the perpetrator repeat their actions)? This includes a value judgement on the harm from sexual assault vs the harm from reputational damage, etc.
Since this seems to be a difficult tradeoff and the community health team/EA organization leaders are making these tradeoffs that include value judgements (and EAs don't usually have the same value judgements as the rest of society), the current community members and people in charge should be transparent about these value judgements and overall weights (maybe through a survey?).
It would help current and future EAs decide if they want to be a part of the community based on how they value their own welfare.
Skepticism over this kind of pledge as a mechanism for making things better.
I am glad you posted this and it got so many agree votes.It is concerning if people do not understand how this kind of pledge makes things better by:
1. Making people more likely to report incidents of harassment or abuse
2. Reinforcing that this community is a space that wants to be safe and welcoming to women.This makes me feel like EAs may need much more sensitivity/harassment/discrimination/etc. training than non-EAs do. And highlights the need for stricter workplace dating and sexual harassment policies in EA orgs.
I would much rather trust and provide emotional support to someone who later turns out to have been lying than to question -- even subtly -- the legitimacy of someone who has suffered sexual abuse.
I did not see how this in any way implies "I do not support the appropriate authorities from investigating whether the report is a lie" which is the only problematic scenario here.
Not immediately grilling the victim on the legitimacy of their claim when they are opening up to you about a traumatic event and instead providing emotional support makes a lot of sense to me. The cost to me of providing emotional support to a non-victim is low and the cost of immediately being challenged on truthfulness to a real victim is very high.
Yet many EA orgs have harassment policies that are poor or non-existent.
This is very alarming and should be corrected immediately.
Multiple people have told me that they feel such policies aren't necessary in EA because this is a high-trust community with well-intentioned people.
Non-EA organizations don't have sexual harassment policies because they suspect all their employees/members to be predators! It is so that the minority of people who engage in bad behavior don't slip through (or in case of the incidents in this article, keep slipping through) the cracks and feel emboldened by the lack of such policies.
Many people seem to be pretty bought into the more entrenched aspects I mentioned, but I feel that their downsides haven’t been sufficiently accounted for. At the very least, I think we need to more robustly account for their risks, and factor them into community norms and behaviors.
I think the community being mostly very young, male, low EQ and most importantly inexperienced leads to biases that make EAs think they will be unaffected by (or are brilliant enough to easily overcome) issues that other organizations and communities experience and actively try to avoid.
It would be pretty absurd to people outside of EA that things as basic as having workplace dating policies, harassment policies or trainings is actually something that we need to make an elaborate case for. I feel like it comes to understanding complex interpersonal dynamics and assessing their role in the long term health of a community, EAs are disadvantaged and behind the curve and it wouldn't be so bad to use the knowledge that other non-EA groups have gained from decades of bad experiences and subsequent hard work to reduce such experiences.
I'd argue that when personal and professional lives are so entangled, strong policies are more, rather than less important.