Categories: Skepticism

About Mythbusters, Robot Eyes, Feminism, and Jokes

New video! I’m going to be doing more of these again, I promise. Here’s AronRa’s and DPR Jones‘ channels, and if you like that shirt I’m wearing you can but it at Skeptical Robot!

Rebecca Watson :Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

View Comments (112)

  • Have been following this for days now, just want to say: Good for you Rebecca; I have been a long time follower of SGU, I really admire your work and think you are cool. This doesn't seem to be just a trivial argument but a discussion that needs to be had. The current "too many dicks on the dancefloor" (sorry cant figure out how to insert hyperlink)state of global atheism needs to change and you are leading the way. Maybe it is really about respect and fairness - I sort of would feel more in common with a religious person who understands your position than an atheist who doesn't.

  • Okay, Rebecca is complaining that guys are hitting on her all the time at conferences.

    Well, okay but what does she mean by that?

    Does that mean guys are flirting with her and that annoys her because flirting is sexualizing? Or does she mean that men are straight out constantly propositioning her for sex?

    If it's the first case then I think she's a hypocrite because she does that to men. (as has been noted by previous bloggers) If it's the second case then maybe she's just interpreting men as propositioning her? I mean based on her knee jerk assessment of a guy asking her out for coffee, it sounds like she kind of projects sexual intentions on to men. Am I naive for thinking that way?

    Care to explain for me?

  • Okay folks, this is what is going on.

    Rebecca Watson insists that she explicitly told guys not to sexualize her on the panel discussion with Richard Dawkins.


    However the actual panel discussion which was uploaded by AronRa she never talks about being sexualized in the kind of way that she purports elevator guy is doing to her.


    She doesn't talk about being hit on at all she talks about getting crude emails.

    Rebecca Watson distorts things and does not know how to distinguish between her feelings and reality.

    That doesn't make her a good feminist or a good skeptic.


    So this is what people are referring to when they talk about how Rebecca had already told others that she didn't like being "hit on" at conferences. Sadly that's not what she said at all and the so called skeptics never bothered to check their sources.

    • You see a lot, Doctor.
      But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself?
      What about it? Why don't you look at yourself and write down what you see?
      Or maybe you're afraid to.

  • I don't know if this will add anything to the debate. I ummed and arred over posting, but I thought I'd throw it in and see what people thought...

    I share an office with a guy; he's a really nice bloke, physically very big, but warm and friendly -- and that's where the problem lies. Due to the nature of my work I often have guests drop into the office to see me -- mostly women (specifically dancers and dance students). Quite often I'll return to the room having fetched the traditional cup of coffee, to find my office mate has engaged my guest in conversation, often asking very curious questions like "have you come far?, where do you live?"

    I have to explain to my female guests (once my office mate is not around) that he's actually just a very very friendly sort of guy, and means nothing by his questions. I know this, because I've met his husband.

    I've often wondered whether I should talk to him about his behaviour -- he means nothing by it (he's just as inquisitive of male visitors). For some reason he either assumes every woman has really good gay-dar, and somehow *know* he's not a threat, or his sexuality has just left him totally naive about where some of the key boundaries lie when it comes to male/female interactions (he doesn't even realise the potential hidden subtexts of certain lines of enquiry in a male/female context).

    Anyway, the moral of the story is, not all men are misogynistic bastards, out to sexualise women. :) <== Note the smiley.

  • Oh, and incidentally, I believe I'm right in saying the word "man" for in ancient times could mean either male or female ("woman" always meant female). I assume the convention of adding "man" to words was therefore intended in Old English as gender neutral(?) If this is true then the apparent male bias in English may be a recent 're-interpretation', based in modern usage.

  • Have it out: The reason Dawkins was so mad is that he was the man in the elevator and very sore that you said No.

    I am so disappointed in his behavior.

  • I have a problem with the logic here. I've been black a long time, grew up in NYC. I can't recall how many times I've gotten on to an elevator only to have white woman constantly clutch their purses making the assumption somehow I am going to do them harm. I've said nothing to them, made no gestures other than press the button to select my desired floor. So I am having a hard time buying this "fear" argument, certainly not buying the justification because the one of the persons during the experience is female. I've been on the receiving end of people making snap judgments about what I might do having not uttered a single solitary word. But somehow the behavior is excused because perhaps they saw a news story the night before about black men in elevators? There is not one person here that wouldn't suggest that's a BS argument. Or rather, when cops come to a predominately black neighborhood for any reason why many of the residents do not speak to them, or are highly uncooperative. And yet people often times criticize that community for not coming forward with information. All of this just breeds to me as an excuse for being sexist. Whose to say the man did not listen? He asked her to chat for coffee. Yes it was in an enclosed space, at 4 am. Which seems to the issue here. If this had been at say 3pm, same scenario does that somehow make the comment less threatening? Motives don't change just because it's at sometime during the day. If we really wish to get into issues of safety, him speaking, asking her, time of day....is all completely irrelevant if he had malice on the mind. I am so sick and tired of people making snap judgments before hearing a person out. It just seems contrived and self delusional to think this man wanted anything other than a conversation at 4am. I'm not saying don't keep up one's guard. But as a man, I don't like to be presumed a potential rapist, or mugger, or thief which I deal with daily due to my skin color. This issue of his behavior being creepy, again what does that mean? Any experience in which a stranger talks to you can be seen as "creepy". If she wants to talk about feeling under threat in a hostile environment be black for a bit, walk around stores where you are constantly followed, checked up and down by police, have people look at you differently when you've done nothing. And that is my point, he did nothing. And being black in America, our history confirms being black and doing nothing has been fuel for a lynching if not worse all because of what people perceive you may do.

  • Interesting, Rebecca, thank you for giving some perspective on the incident. It was completely inappropriate given the context.

    However, the strains of misandry in many of the comments are unfortunate, particularly the perpetuation of the monopoly on being a target for sexual assault myth. As terrible as the position is for female sexual assault survivors in our society: blame-the-victim rape trials, double standards and the like, at least they have a position. Male survivors of sexual assault are almost always silent, and when they do speak up, their experience is either denied by calling them players (if it was a woman), or reversed by calling them a bitch (if it was a man or implement). They still experience the effects of severe trauma like anyone else, but rarely generalize the responsibility for their experience to an entire sex. Sadly, this is par for the course in feminist fora, and has been for near 50 years.

  • Since your injunction of "don't do that" is perfectly reasonable and it makes sense that doing what you describe would be a bad idea, I will keep it in mind and refrain from doing that. Cheers!

  • Maybe he should have just asked if she would like to grab a coffee with him for lunch or something the next day when she is not tired. Inviting to your room is a little *cough* really forward and a bit of an aggressive approach. Take for instance another scenario where she could be taking subway home late at night and no one is around.. "Oh hey I see you on this subway alot wanna come back to my place for coffee?" If a woman came up to me at 3:00 a.m. no one around and asked me if I wanted to go to her place for a coffee.My thought process would probably go something like this.. IS SHE HOT? If Not Answer - NO
    If Yes - Why is she asking me? Where did she come from? This is probably some kinda sting operation isn't it? Is she a hooker? am I going to wake up without any money? I don't wanna get in trouble with any pimps or boyfriends. WAIT, Is she a murderer!? I'd probably get murdered if I go, - Answer - Nah..I'm good..Super tired.