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Dawkins Overflow Thread

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The comment thread on my Dawkins post has become bloated and is threatening to capsize the site, so I’m closing it and redirecting people here. Baby otter pic (via ZooBorns) is unrelated but I thought it might help everyone relax.

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663 Comments

    • Yes! It absolutely needs one more idea! Which follows… meanwhile, by all means.. Baby Otters otta improve the tone of this discussion immensely.

      Some of Rebecca’s detractors have posited that she made the fuss about the elevator incident (calling everything remotely scandalous xxxGate, IMHO, sucks!) merely to enhance traffic to her website. It certainly seems to have accomplished that.

      I have an alternative (conspiracy) theory (actually, it is really just a hypothesis since it lacks even the tiniest shred of supporting evidence. To wit… What if this whole controversy is a conspiracy between Rebecca and Richard Dawkins? He agreed to say what he said in order to create just what we are seeing. The benefits are pretty clear to both parties. Rebecca gets more web traffic in addition to providing her with an opportunity to give highly useful dating advice to the perplexed males out there whose only contact with females might have been with their working mothers…. At the same time, Richard gets to come across as more of a manly man among his many adoring fans — of which I still count myself as one. There is also the benefit to social progress in general due to the discussion of these issues of relative power and how it might behoove males to be a tad more sensitive to the entirely justified fears that women have to deal with on a daily basis. If my hypothesis is correct, Rebecca and Dawkins secretly hang out at atheist gettogethers and laugh their head off! :) Of course, neither can confirm this if it is true because the the attendant loss of credibility, but like the story of Santa Clause, I find it enjoyable to contemplate. :)

      Meanwhile, I fully support Rebecca’s comments and those of her supporters in this thread. Men and women do experience the world differently because of the power imbalance in all modern societies and it does behoove males (if they want an equal relationship with a woman) to take that into account. As the father of an adult daughter, and as a fair minded human, I fully support the idea that women should count as fully human and endowed with the same rights as men, starting with unconditional control over their own bodies (except, of course, when they want to promote the resurgence of polio by refusing to get immunized).

      Ok, now that I’ve got these ideas out there, we can officially close off this discussion and get back to baby otters! :)

  1. I like “A Lot of Otters” *spoiler alert* “They made such a commotion that Mother Moon looked down. ‘Moonlet? My little one?’ She came running out of the clouds, over the dark, over the deep. There she found her child, safe with a lot of otters”

  2. I still have a first edition copy of the book, _Ring of Bright Water_; my mother gave it to me when I was a kid, over 40 years ago. I don’t know about the movie, but the book is very good. As an adult, I lived on the Monterey Penninsula for several years, right after they built the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They had orphaned otters they were rehabilitating to return to the wild. And I loved looking out the bathroom window in the morning as I brushed my teeth, seeing migrating whales spouting and watching otters crack shells on their bellies. Here’s more about the book and movie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_of_Bright_Water

  3. In “The Privilege Delusion”, you said Dawkins “…will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library.” I wasn’t aware that The God Delusion suddenly isn’t a good book anymore. When did this happen? Did the words on the pages magically rearrange themselves into the form of Bible stories? Why are Dawkins’ positive contributions to the skeptic community (the same contributions you had previously praised and recommended to others) no longer relevant and worthy of your attention? Does the current disagreement over the man in the elevator retroactively invalidate the statements Dawkins has made in his books and documentaries?

    Also, keep in mind that this whole thing is only being dragged on by PZ Myers and the people at Skepchick. Dawkins only posted three comments on a couple of blogs. That’s it. And because of this, you’ve created this “Elevatorgate” as it’s been referred to. It’s petty and obsessive.

    I actually agree with your stance on the issue, which I previously pointed out in the comments section of “Dear Richard Dawkins”. But I object to the way you and Mindy have handled yourselves over this.

    • In case you didn’t read my other post, or don’t believe that I actually agree with your stance on the elevator guy, I’ll repost what I wrote earlier:



      Here’s a summary of this whole ordeal and the conclusions we can reach from it:

      As Dawkins said, technically the elevator guy didn’t do anything “wrong”, since he respectfully approached her and invited her to his room. When rejected, he left it at that and the two went on with their lives. On paper, the guy wasn’t being rude or inappropriate.

      But the counter-argument here is that the elevator guy should have been more perceptive of Rebecca’s fears. He should have realized that she didn’t know whether he was a normal guy or a rapist, and should have only approached her in a setting where she would feel more comfortable. So basically, even though he was behaving in a respectful and appropriate manner, it was just bad timing; the circumstances weren’t right.

      • If you consider ‘respectfully’ to mean ‘ignored everything he’d just heard her say, her wishes, and focused solely on what he wanted’, then yeah, it was incredibly respectful.

        Jeez, how hard is it to just let it go? Is it that hard to not try and get laid every time there’s a woman nearby? How hard is this? “Guys, don’t do this.” She didn’t ask for a kidney. She asked for a moment of consideration, and then he shrugged it off because she was the main obstacle between him and access to her body parts.

      • It seems to me that you don’t actually agree with Skepchick on this. You’ve indicated the timing wasn’t right, and he should have been more perceptive, but that’s far less than what Skepchick apparently thinks it is. She calls it misogynistic and sexually objectifying, and I gather also predatory, threatening, and harassing.

        I don’t have a daughter yet, but when I do, she will certainly be able to fend off Elevator Guy without suffering trauma. The fact that so many women view this “incident” as such a big deal as to be almost emblematic of some problem they are forced to live with by some unforgiving “society” is rather depressing. I guess we haven’t come such a long way after all, baby.

      • Is there a “respectful” way to say (to a complete stranger in a small enclosed space) “Come to my room—I want to have sex with you”?

        Implicit in that question (for which “come up to my room for coffee” is a euphemistic “code”) is “come to MY room (terra incognita), take off your clothes and get naked in front of me” or put another way “come up to my room and put yourself in a completely vulnerable position, allowing me access to your body in the most intimate manner possible.”

        I can think of many adjectives to describe that scenario, but “respectful” is not one of them. The word “invasive” comes to mind.

        And I think that’s part of what Rebecca is trying to say. Asking a woman you’ve just met for sex isn’t equivalent to asking her up for a literal cup of coffee and a chat.

    • “Also, keep in mind that this whole thing is only being dragged on by PZ Myers and the people at Skepchick. Dawkins only posted three comments on a couple of blogs. That’s it. And because of this, you’ve created this “Elevatorgate” as it’s been referred to. It’s petty and obsessive.”

      This is hilarious. You know that you’re the one responding to it all, right? You do know that? That what you just did was comment on the subject? The subject you’re saying others are petty and obsessive for commenting on? Did you know that?

          • OK, fair enough.

            So, if the answer is that indeed Dawkins’s books didn’t rewrite themselves, and therefore still hold a wealth of valid, interesting, and important information and data, do you still feel you should encourage a boycott of those books — books that are indeed perfectly valid, useful, and important — because you and Dawkins have a disagreement that does not in any way change the content or the potential wisdom and usefulfulness in them?

          • Well, you stated:
            .
            “[Dawkins] therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library.”
            .
            I perceive that as a tacit, implicit endorsement of a boycott of Dawkins’s books, public talks, etc. Do you deny that it is such?
            .
            But yes, it was Mindy, not you, who more clearly endorses a boycott.
            .
            How do you feel about Mindy’s implicit endorsement of a boycott of Dawkins’s books?
            .

          • When I say I’m doing something, it does not mean I’m starting a campaign to convince everyone else to do something.

            Mindy is certainly within her rights to boycott.

          • That strikes me as a rather disingenuous way of denying your palpable powers of persuasion and the influence you hold over your fans and followers (many of whom will follow your direction and do likewise), especially in light of your recent bragodacio regarding your 10,000 fans.

            Are you claiming that it did not occur to you that many of your fans and followers might perceive your remarks as encouragement to boycott Dawkins and would follow suit and therefore also boycott Dawkins specifically in response to your intent to do so?

            And, if it did occur to you — I honestly cannot imagine it not doing so — do you honestly think that your earlier stated intent to personally boycott Dawkins does not therefore represent a, as I said, tacit and implicit endorsement and encouragement to boycott Dawkins?

          • John, people are free to do whatever the hell they want, just as I’m doing what I want. I write about what I think and do all the time, and I don’t demand that others follow suit. But hey, keep trying to twist what I wrote into some kind of organized campaign.

          • You are again twisting my words.
            .
            I did not explicitly state that you deny your influence; rather, I stated that you deny the power and therefore the potential results of that influence; influence that could easily lead to an interpretation of your words as a tacit and implicit endorsement and/or encouragement to boycott Dawkins.
            .
            And I feel you should be honest and admit that the influence you hold over many people could easily lead to such an intrepretation of your words.
            .
            I really cannot believe you would be that unaware of the potential power and results of the influence you hold over your followers. After all, you do indeed use that influence in many ways to gain support for your cause, so clearly you have a fairly deep understanding of its potential.

          • Rather than “boycott”, perhaps a more apt word would be “excommunicate”?

            Excerpted from “The Privilege Delusion”: “I’m sure Dawkins will continue to be stinking rich until the end of his days. But those of us who are humanists and feminists will find new, better voices to promote and inspire, and Dawkins will be left alone”.

            OK, mostly I like the word “excommunicate” for its entertaining religious connotations. However, it also seems to more accurately reflect the attitude expressed above, that Dawkins should be excluded from the community or at least from any position of influence or respect therein.

            Also, Rebecca, this portion of your post seems to undermine the claim that you are speaking only for yourself. The wording clearly indicates that you are speaking for “those of us who are humanists and feminists” and stating what that community will do. Maybe that’s not exactly what you intended, or maybe you’ve changed your mind since. However, it’s a straightforward interpretation, not a “twisting”, of your words.

          • I’d have to agree with John Greg and paalexan. You certainly seem to want to have it both ways in your statements. I think what’s really going on here is someone – who defines themselves as rational – had an irrational moment when their emotions were high about the circumstances around and thus perception of an action of an individual who asked you out. And that’s OK… we are humans after all and emotions aren’t necessarily a bad thing, for instance they help us bond and come together and care about one another. Striving for rationality in one’s life I think is a really good and meaningful endeavor considering how much I personally believe it could make the world a better place to live in should more people adopt such a world view, we can’t just discount our emotional selves – which includes our background and hell even our sex and gender – how that taints our perception of the reality to some extent, and in some circumstances more than others.

            Do you really think when you posted your hate mail that Dawkin’s doesn’t get orders of magnitude more hate mail and probably even more “scary” sounding than yours?

            I’ve never head of you before today when I somehow found out about this controversy via google news. While I’m certain couldn’t be bad for you career wise to get attention – for example I for one just registered on this site… and I can already imagine in some way emotion brewing in yourself from that comment. Controversy seems to sell now, and while I don’t think you feel comfortable with the extra attention on yourself based on your replies I can already see you trying to rationalize your previous words and are increasingly becoming vested in the defense of your previous words despite some really good points being made here.

            In the end in all honest I can’t believe the world of rationalists has been divided by something as trivial as a proposition in an elevator made by a man who was clearly well intentioned by the emotions of the moment – that which he felt for you and had an opportunity to ask you, which he viewed as a girl of his dreams no doubt – overcame his rationality. So it was a proposition in an elevator which has greatly divided this rationalist community which while I don’t actively follow am very much partial to and wish for its success. This whole “controversy” makes the whole community seem like a joke.

          • “the answer is obvious”

            Translation: If you don’t know, I’m certainly not going to tell you.

          • Rebecca,

            Let’s take a look at what you wrote:

            “So many of you voiced what I had already been thinking: that this person who I always admired for his intelligence and compassion does not care about my experiences as an atheist woman and therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same.”
            http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/

            You recommended that others do the same – namely, don’t buy his books or attend his lectures. That is a boycott.

        • No, I am in no way whatsoever twisting your words. You are either ignoring or twisting mine. I in no way said that you explicitly encouraged a boycott.

          I am simply referring to the fact that you hold a great deal of influence over many people, many of whom who will almost certainly take your words as a tacit and implicit (you understand the meaning of “tacit” and “implicit”, yes?) endorsement and/or encouragement to boycott Dawkins, and will follow suit with your actions.

          As I said, I feel it is quite disingenuous to deny that power of influence (especially after your statements regarding the size and enthusiasm of your group of followers), and while yes, of course, people are free to do what they wish in regards a boycott, denying your influence in that direction as possibly representing an endrosement and/or engouragement to boycott Dawkins strikes me as being very suspect.

          • If possible, please delete the previous iteration of this post. Thanks.
            .
            No, I am in no way whatsoever twisting your words. You are either ignoring or twisting mine. I in no way said that you explicitly encouraged a boycott.
            .
            I am simply referring to the fact that you hold a great deal of influence over many people, many of whom who will almost certainly take your words as a tacit and implicit (you understand the meaning of “tacit” and “implicit”, yes?) endorsement and/or encouragement to boycott Dawkins, and will follow suit with your actions.
            .
            As I said, I feel it is quite disingenuous to deny that power of influence (especially after your statements regarding the size and enthusiasm of your group of followers), and while yes, of course, people are free to do what they wish in regards a boycott, denying your influence in that direction as possibly representing an endrosement and/or engouragement to boycott Dawkins strikes me as being very suspect.
            .

          • Throughout this short series of posts you have implicitly denied both the power of your influence, and the potential results of it, especially in stating that you are not responsible for the actions taken by people as a result of your words, to wit…
            .
            When you state:
            .
            “…people are free to do whatever the hell they want, just as I’m doing what I want.”
            .
            and…
            .
            “When I say I’m doing something, it does not mean I’m starting a campaign to convince everyone else to do something.”
            .
            You are obliquely and implictly making the claim that you hold no responsibility for other people’s actions, hence your influence over them is not so strong as to help tacitlly guide or directly influence those actions, which is implicitly denying the power of your influence.
            .
            Really, you are being extremely disingenuous and childish in your word games.

          • Ms. Watson, for a person in your position as a supposed leader of the feminist/athiest commmunity, you are being extraordinarily immature in your dissemblng and your tricksy and manipulative word games. Therefore, I am done with this thread. Cheers. Have a nice gamey day.

          • It’s funny how Rebecca is supposedly slyly endorsing a boycott yet the same standard does not apply across the aisle so to speak. The more offensive comments are not to be taken as indicative of the group’s mindset, or even seen as offensive at all. And is this an early sighting of the feminist hivemind concept, with the insistence that people who appreciate her moxy will follow her actions, or not have thought of them at all?

          • John Greg, I disagree with your comment regarding Rebecca suggested a boycott on Richard Dawkins’ books. She can say whatever she wants to say and do whatever she wants to do. No one is obliged to follow her suit. Just like no one is obliged to follow Richard Dawkins’ suit. While exaggerating her influence and power over her followers, you are underestimating her followers’ own intelligence and self-determination. This is a group of sceptics we are talking about, not innocent sheep like in churches where Rebecca is the pope. I do hope you can get your head out of that hierarchy mentality.

            I would not stop buying Richard Dawkins’ book just because he has so foolishly compared the treatment of Muslim women to Rebecca’s encounter (just like comparing thousands of African babies dying with few well fed choir boys being touched by their priests, or the priests asked them politely whether they would like a coke in his own room).

            Dawkins’ God Delusion was not a great book, but an informative book on how to rebuttal theists arguments. His Greatest Show on Earth is a much better read. This does not affect me regard Richard Dawkins as a renowned atheist, and his work for the atheist community. I would carry on donating money to his foundation of reason, but if there is another foundation focusing on building self-respect and self-resilience for girls, my money would definitely go there.

            On the other hand, why don’t you go and tell Richard Dawkins to change his comments which intended to silence women against potential threat, and encourage men to make a sexual advance whenever he feels like it regardless what his target feels. Or are you too sheepish to rebuttal the famous Richard Dawkins?

          • chenmyn777, I did not say that Watson could/should not say what she wants. I was offering her the opportunity to accept responsibility for the potential negative results of her statements.
            .
            Neither did I say that any of her followers were “obliged to follow suit”. I said that some almost certainly would choose to follow suit, not that they were obliged to do so, and not that all would do so, but that some would uncritically take her words as an endorsement and an encourgement to boycott Dawkins, and would follow suit by choice but based upon her words and influence.
            .
            Furthermore, judging by the tone and statements of the majority of Skepchick followers and supporters here and the degree of press, so to speak, that these issues have gained on many other blogs around the ‘net, no, I really don’t think I do exaggerate her influence.
            .
            As to underestimating her followers intelligence and self determination you bring up an interesting and potentially valid point. I’ve done some soul searching, so to speak, and will agree that to some small degree I am probably shortchanging Watson’s/Skepchick’s followers. However, I have some reasons why I think you are for the most part, in this instance, wrong.
            .
            1. To really be doing them an injustice, I think I would have had to say something along the lines of: Now all Skepchick followers are going to jump on the bandwagon and boycott Dawkins because they are incapable of thinking for themselves whether or not that is a valid action. Or something like that. Perhaps. Yes, sure, I could be wrong about that and remain blind to my own bias — self-confirmation and all that.
            .
            2. Every blog has its sycophants; that is to some degree the nature of the beast — some, like Pharyngula, are more so cursed than others. Having followed Skepchick off and on for several years, it has become clear to me when a post is written by someone who is more of a sycophant than a critical thinking skeptical participant. And, in my opinion, this series of posts regarding the elevator guy, Dawkins’s comment, and so on, have brought many of the more obvious sycophants out of the closet.

            I am certainly not saying that anyone who agrees with, or even agrees uncritically and wholeheartedly with Watson, or Mindy, or the “Skepchick Ideology™” is a sycophant. But clearly, some are. And I suspect sycophants are kind of the perfect target of my argument.
            .
            3. There have been a number of posts made in reaction to both Mindy’s and Watson’s statements of intending to boycott Dawkins that amount to, if I maybe allowed to paraphrase: Thanks for that idea. I too will now boycott Dawkins. I wouldn’t have thought of that if you had not mentioned it. The comments do not say I started boycotting Dawkins before you did; I’m glad to see you doing the same thing.

          • I think if Rebecca really had the persuasive abilities you’re implying that this thread wouldn’t exist – everyone would immediately have seen her reasonable point and it would have been a complete non-issue.

            Rebecca’s stated she’s a vegetarian. That in no way urges me to stop eating cows and chickens and pigs and turkeys and other tasty critters.

            Rebecca said she no longer wishes to finance or read the works of a man who has disparaged her in print. Maybe I’m too rational, but I don’t see it as anything more that her discussing her reaction. You’ve acknowledged that she did not literally call for or imply a boycott. I think she’s stated pretty clearly that she’s fine in letting her statement stand on its own without a need to further justify it.

            My two cents.

        • I think all those questions have already been answered, repeatedly, by women everywhere, but there’s a certain kind of man who’s determined to ignore them. And gets angry when that is pointed out.

        • Yes! John Greg! Thank you!
          I was hoping someone would talk about this, and well done for being as patient as possible.
          I’ve agreed with everything Rebecca has said until the words you and paalexan quoted.
          It did seem to me that Rebecca was at least somewhat hoping for a boycott of Dawkins. I guess I misinterpreted what she said, and I do apologize.
          I still think what she said about Richard is slightly unfair to him. He has a long history of great, positive ideas. He seemed genuine in his confusion. I think he deserved a chance to learn from his mistake at least. Anyway, John Greg, you said it all better than I could. Thanks.
          No slight to Rebecca, I do appreciate nearly everything I’ve heard her say.

          • I have to say, too, that Dawkins, like a lot of people reading these posts, comments, etc., are learning a lot of good things (hopefully). At least he’s asking what a lot of people, who just don’t know, are afraid to.
            The kind of society we live in (depending where you live, possibly) doesn’t make it easy to see from the feminist perspective.
            I’m am, however, disappointed that Dawkins didn’t get it to begin with, but I understand.

          • I read Rebecca’s comments differently: that she no longer sees Dawkins as a true Humanist if he belittles feminism, a woman’s perspective, and a feminist argument against male privilege, that she no longer respects his position of authority in the atheist community, won’t consume his products and that she won’t recommend them to others, not that she is asking for a boycott.

            I think it is very difficult for a lot of men to wrap their heads around her experience because if a woman in an elevator invited them to her room for coffee, they wouldn’t feel threatened in any way. They would accept if they were attracted and reject if they weren’t. That would be that. So basically, all you guys on Dawkins’ side are telling us all to “man up.”

            Why does true gender equality imply that women need to be more like men? I guess because they run the show. Get it?

          • I took Rebecca’s words about leaving Dawkins alone to indicate merely that someone she held in high regard—as a “hero of the cause” if you will—she no longer considers a hero and can no longer give him that level of support.

            I imagine that if Dawkins were to apologize and to indicate in some way that he “gets it” that might change. I, for one, would find such humility on the part of a leader of thought in the new atheist community (or any community) a cause for celebration and support.

            I think the argument over whether or not Rebecca called for a boycott is a distraction from the central issue of sexism in the atheist community. Such attitudes about women as I’ve sampled via the various articles and comments remind me strongly of the attitudes toward women of a male-dominated ecclesiastical order.

            We are human beings. And if this situation demonstrates one thing it is that we will behave badly toward each other with or without religion playing a role. In any group of human beings that is not consciously working at such virtues (if I may use that word) as equality, openness, kindness, integrity, etc, I think it is a habit to unconsciously create sub-groups so that we can still have a “them” and an “us”.

            I do think—because I’ve seen it done—that we can grow out of this habit and create a society in which we are all “us”.

    • I am starting a petition to force rebecca watson to buy and read all of richard dawkins future output. Anything less would be a tacit endorcement of the implication of a possible boycott (well, not “boycott” persay, but something that smells an awful lot like one [well not “smells” persay, but it makes me feel funny]).

      • OK, Mike, so, does that mean you think that “tacit” and “implicit” are not, in this instance, legitimate expressions or legitimate concepts?

        Or do you think I am using them as a sort of weasle word generalization or something like that?

    • Savi, I’ve repeatedly read in new atheist writings – including Dawkins’ – that one should not credit religious ideas of any sort, read religious scripture (except to critique it) or even think about religious propositions because, as Chris Hitchens has put it “Religion poisons everything.”

      Synchronicity: I was talking to my teenaged daughter about this and mentioned your rhetorical question, which was essentially, “did Dawkins’ works rewrite themselves just because he has a chauvinistic streak?” I found myself asking that question as well. Her comment: “But, that poisons everything!”

      So, is it fair to judge Dawkins’ work on other subjects by his attitudes about women’s issues? I would say “no”, but then, do I not have to question the same attitude if applied to other ideas – even religious ones? If an idea is sound, isn’t it sound regardless of the source?

      On the other hand, I can also see my daughter’s point about trust. If you’re relying on someone to inform your thoughts about certain subjects, and you find them untrustworthy in one area, how are you to be certain they are not untrustworthy in other areas as well?

  4. I was listening to the SGU on the way into work this morning (as I do every monday morning) and was surprised to hear about the “elevator gate” incident. I expected to come here and find an outpouring of support for Rebecca. I’m shocked to see some people still blaming her or insinuating some wrong doing on her part.

    I know that as a guy I am often blissfully unaware of the sexism and objectification that women face. Often it is only when it is pointed out to me by a woman that I recognize it. A couple of times in my work place I have failed to recognize sexism from some of my closest colleagues until a female colleague showed me. It is not always easy to accept that people close you or people that you admire are biased but that fact is that we are all biased.

    Men don’t experience sexism day in and day out so it is easy for us assume that it doesn’t exist and that the world is more enlightened then it actually is. We all have biases and while we endeavor to overcome them we cannot do it alone (we all know that there is plenty of psychological research to support that). I applaud Rebecca for taking a stand and clearly articulating the challenges that remain in overcoming sexism. We need more women to speak out if we ever hope to approach the ideal of true equality. As for those who would downplay or deny the problem, I would suggest that they take a good hard look at they’re own bias. I certainly know that I am far from perfect and when someone points out my bias I take their comments seriously. That is what being a good skeptic is all about. We ought to view this as an opportunity to examine our own biases, logical fallacies, and psychology and use it to become better individual skeptics and a better skeptical community. I believe that the skeptical community has the capability, tools and mindset to be a leader in gender equality, but only if we are honest and open about the issue.

    Thank you Rebecca and thank you to all of the Skepchicks. Please keep up the great work.

  5. I haven’t weighed in yet because I was out of town when it broke and didn’t want to come in late but as this is still being bantered about, I wanted to just let you know how much I support you Rebecca.

    I have been called names ranging from male-coddling fembot to hysterical feminist harpy and I’ve just never quite known what to do with any of that as I am living my life and expressing my opinions the best I know how.

    None of these names has stopped me for more than a minute or two from being who I actually am and while that makes me wildly unpopular in some circles, it also makes me who I am. I am more than willing to admit my mistakes when I make them, but I am not about to apologize when I’m right.

    Go Rebecca Go.

  6. Yay, baby otters! Here in California it’s illegal to approach many (most? all?) marine mammals and so, although otters are a fairly common sight around Monterrey Bay, you just can’t very close to them. (Not that you’d really want to pet them, cuteness aside, they are wild animals and have extremely nasty-looking teeth.)

    Anyway, about ten years ago when I was SCUBA diving off of Breakwater Beach in Monterrey an otter approached me on the surface after a dive. It was on its back enjoying a sea urchin lunch and ignored me completely. It swam within about ten feet of me and was simply an amazing sight.

    Thanks Rebecca for reminding me of an amazing experience!

    -Buxley

  7. Yeah, I haven’t weighed in either because shitstorms make my allergies flare up, but I want to say that I completely support you, Rebecca. RD is a hero of mine, but his insensitivity really depressed me.

    I also want to put in a word for baby California sea lions. Sure, the adults are loud and obnoxious and used to spit in my face when I was kayaking, but the babies are adorable puppies with flippers.

  8. ” And because of this, you’ve created this “Elevatorgate” as it’s been referred to. It’s petty and obsessive.”

    I’ve read most of about five of these threads. All of them would be about 70% shorter if the people that thought the topic wasn’t important enough to post about had just, you know, not posted to add/echo that important opinion about unimportance.

    • On Pharyngula, I likened the incident to an autograph hunter barging in on a celebrity’s dinner party to demand an autograph. I was assuming that because you presumably knew that EG was a member of the atheist community that he didn’t pose a physical threat, but that he was simply being boorish; was I right?

      I’m not suggesting that gender equality isn’t part of the equation, only that the principle objection was his totally inappropriate behavior. Have I misread your reaction to the incident?

      In any case, I fully support your side of the disagreement with RD, but I’m not quite at the point of boycotting his works; I think (hope) he still has much to contribute.

      Tim

        • Then it appears my reading regarding the incident was naive. I do hope that you, and other women, can find ways to participate in these meetings without this sort of thing interfering with their purpose.

          Tim

      • Seriously? Did you really just imply that atheists/skeptics all safe non-rapists? What, because they’re logical? The fact that you believe that and typed it into a blog comment means you’re a data point contradicting your own statement.

        Just when I think y’all can’t embarrass me anymore, you find a way to be recursively wrong!

  9. Rebecca, to people who don’t experience sexual harressment or fear of rape at all you didn’t comunicate the creepiness of the encounter vey well in your video. But to people who value female desire and know it’s importance to sexual consent you did.

    Elavatorgate was needed.

    • Ms. Watson felt uncomfortable in an elevator being asked for coffee and conversation. Another woman might feel uncomfortable in bar. Nobody can know when their conduct in this regard will make someone feel “uncomfortable.” Does a woman have a right to go to a local pub and sit at the bar without being asked home for coffee and conversation? Is she not entitled to feel uncomfortable?

      What then is the progressive male to do? Never initiate conversation with a woman because he might encounter a person like Ms. Watson who claims to have an eggshell constitution?

      If your answer is “use your head and act reasonably,” that is no solution at all, since as we have been lectured lately, every woman makes her own assessment of her own comfort level. Therefore, not being mind readers, a man can never know when he is about to breach that level with an invite to coffee and conversation. Absent initiation of same by the female, the male is in a no win situation, or at least whether he is to be lambasted like Elevator Guy depends wholly on the comfort level of the woman he asks for coffee.

  10. In the 90’s I lived in a loft space in Seattle between the Art Museum and the waterfront. Had a young hipster neighbor who had a pet river otter as her very own. One night I was reading and heard through the wall – “Bad otter! Bad otter!”

    Here is a clip for women who rock, filmed last week in L.A. http://youtu.be/5wG8f5HliMM

  11. Excuse me Ms. Watson –

    I posted a one-line comment asking you what if the EG may not have been at your skepticism-feminism talk.

    You deleted my comment.

    May I ask why you deleted my comment, so I know what is allowed and what is not allowed on your blog. Thank you RW.

    Rostam

      • You also deleted my other comment regarding perceived objectification. I have not seen this discussed widely here or at all elsewhere.

        So does that mean if you disagree with someone’s comment, then it could be flagged as “trollish” (definition please) or “100 times discussed”?

        Question: Berating an audience at your keynote talk that they are insensitive to objectification — Are you not painting all the audience (or the disagreeable part) with the same brush, as guilty of objectification?

  12. OK, no pleasantries for the first post, right to business.

    I spent over an hour reading the original thread and it’s incredible, all the discussion over such a simple comment.

    I’m not a chick and I’m not Dawkins, so I won’t even try to assume I can interpret meanings for them.

    However, I will speak to the original comment as a single guy, who does occasionally hit on women.

    As ignorant (and drunk) as I can sometimes be, there is no way that I would EVER follow a woman, that I wasn’t friends with, to the elevator after a night of drinking to hit up on her. This is completely absurd and doomed to failure.

    RW, it’s a darn shame this guy didn’t recognize his date with failure and it’s a double shame some people have jumped on you for speaking about the incident.

    Actually, I could go one for quite awhile about this but it’s all been said. I couldn’t really add anything new.

  13. Dear Rebecca – I have been meaning to get in touch for a long long time, and this was the catalyst. A shame it’s such negative circumstances.

    I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I am by Richard Dawkins comments on this matter. I am a huge fan of his work, which has had a great effect on my life and my confidence as an occasionally outspoken and proud atheist.

    It bowled me over with shock and surprise. I had assumed that as an intelligent person, Dawkins would never come out with such uninformed and twisted comments. Totally misunderstanding the sentiment, tone, and ideological issues behind your video post. There are so many things wrong with his whole approach, tone, and misinformed comments that it is hard to know where to begin, and there has already been so much discussion, I think most bases have now been covered.

    Unfortunately this would not the first time I have been disappointed by mysogeny from the mouth (or keyboard) of an otherwise intelligent person. I can only hope that he will prove himself to be the man I hope he is and will have a public debate with you at TAM. I genuinely hope there is some misunderstanding here and that he will clarify his support for women not to have to be in fear of men in any circumstances.

    Richard, if you are reading this, allow me to remind you of the mission statement of your own charities, in the hope that you will critically analyse your stance in this case, seek further evidence, and denounce the intolerance you have shown in this matter…

    “The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and human suffering.”

    Rebecca – please keep in your mind when feeling deflated that you are very much supported in your calm manner in the face of mysogeny, ridicule and over-the-top outrage. Gxx

  14. Rebecca,

    I’m not saying that I agree with what the elevator masher did but I have a question.

    Can you honestly say that if this guy was strikingly handsome that you would have had the same reaction? If it was George Clooney’s twin in regards to looks and charm?

    • “Can you honestly say that if this guy was strikingly handsome that you would have had the same reaction? If it was George Clooney’s twin in regards to looks and charm?”

      Um, yes, I can honestly say that. I can’t believe how many people seriously believe this line of thinking. “Oh, I only got shot down because I’m ugly! Not because I never said a word to a woman before following her onto an elevator and inviting her back to my room!”

      A person with “charm,” btw, would not have done that in the first place.

      • I believe this line of thinking because it’s true in most cases. Appearances make a huge difference to both women and men equally. It’s not gender specific. Most of us respond emotionally to any given situation based on appearance. Attractiveness can stir a very powerful emotion.

        The “George Clooney” remark is very valid, although if you say it doesn’t apply to you, then I couldn’t argue with you because I don’t know you. I take you at your word. Based on your word, you are different then most people who respond to appearance. Especially when it comes to first impression. I assume it’s first impression since you said this person never said a word to you prior to the elevator, but correct me if I’m wrong. First impressions are an emotional reaction to visual, aural, or other sensory cues first. Our thought process comes second. It’s only after we think about what we first sense that we can have a rational judgement about it.

        So based on what you said, you would have the same reaction to someone who looked like George Clooney as you would to someone who looked like a homeless, smelly, Woody Allen? That may be two extremes, but our reactions really only differ by degree and not if we have them or not.

        Forgive me if I seem a little skeptical about your lack of reaction to appearance, but it’s based on what I know about human nature.

        • Okay, I don’t think I’m particularly strange, BUT …

          If I were a single woman, and a man who looked just like Johnny Depp came on to me in an elevator and invited me to his room for “coffee”, his beauty would go up in a puff of “eep”.

          For most women I know, a man’s physical appearance is only part of the equation. What makes a man attractive is determined in great part by his *person* and a large factor in that is what he communicates about what he’s thinking … specifically what he’s thinking about *me*.

          I’d say if you want to be sure a woman is available, go someplace where women go to be available, not into an elevator with a member of a peer group.

    • theamazin,

      Well, let’s apply a little of bit reason to the question to see if we can’t infer an answer. First, how may we define charm, in the present context? I would say it can be defined as “the ability to make oneself agreeable to women”. How does one make oneself agreeable to women? By not making them uncomfortable or fearful and by respecting their stated wishes.

      So, the answer to your question is “yes”, but with a caveat: if Elevator Guy had been charming, he would have refrained from doing the things that creeped Rebecca out in the first place, because he would have known that these things would be likely to make a woman uneasy, plus he had her own words to go by that she was disinterested in being hit on and was going to bed. And then we would have never heard about it.

      Honestly, I don’t know what’s so hard for a lot of people to get about “when approaching a woman, always her an exit” and “don’t ask her to a place where she will be in your power”, and if you do make either of these crass errors of judgment, then don’t be shocked and wounded when says “No” and thinks you’re skeevy.

      • “he had her own words to go by …”

        Do you know if the elevator guy attended RW’s skepticism-feminism talk? (When I previously asked this quesion, I was deleted.)

        You know, if my car doesn’t start on first try and tells me no, I try twice to start it. That is just a reasonable empirical assumption.

        • “Do you know if the elevator guy attended RW’s skepticism-feminism talk?”

          Does it matter?! He was present for Rebecca to announce that she was tired and wanted to go to bed, which in the normal English-speaking world is not code for “Hey guys! Come hit on me!”

          In any case, the way he behaved by following her to the elevators and then waiting until she was in one before unleashing a cold proposition for sex is not something that women should have to put up with. What is so hard to understand about that?

          “You know, if my car doesn’t start on first try and tells me no, I try twice to start it. That is just a reasonable empirical assumption.”

          That analogy is completely out of left field.

          So what’s the argument? A guy should never take “no” for an answer, because a second throw of the dice might change things? Hey, maybe we can apply that to issues of consent in sex too: “no” doesn’t matter, guys, just go ahead anyway!

          God, you little creeps are just mindboggling.

          • @nullifidian –

            You obviously did not understand what I had to say, and went to call me a “creep”. Not a good way to start an argument, is it? I hope RW deletes your comment as well.

            I agree with you that what EG did was inconsiderate and unsmart, even though he may not have been at that lecture.

            My question and many others is, why was this act sexism and/or objectification ?

          • I went on to call you a creep because you employed an analogy that likened a woman with her own mind and preferences to a vehicle that ‘refused’ to start. How is this a problematic analogy? Oh, let me count the ways.

            First, by likening women to a mindless machine, it establishes that you think that a woman doesn’t have a mind—at least not any you need to be concerned about. Second, it replicated the common assumption that “no” doesn’t actually mean “no” when women say it, which is not just an assumption that can be used to excuse coarse passes on elevators, but also rape itself. Third, it implied that you think the proper function of a woman is to give men sex, just like the proper function of a car’s engine is to turn over and power the vehicle, so if women do refuse to give into your demands that means that they’re behaving in pathological ways that nature didn’t ‘intend’ them to.

            Calling you a creep after reading that was a generous concession.

            “My question and many others is, why was this act sexism and/or objectification ?”

            As for how it’s objectification, and how objectification is sexist, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel for you, so I’ll just quote my response from the other thread:

            “Instead of examining your own place of privilege, you’re excusing it by putting pressure on the least privileged person in this equation to change her response. This is not at all new. And the response to this is not new either: you do not get to dictate how other people feel about come-ons.

            “Even worse, your idea of an ‘appropriate’ response is calculated to encourage Elevator Guy even though he’s already signaled to RW that he may be a threat to her by waiting until she’s alone and in a confined space before propositioning her in transparently coded language.

            “In short, your position is that a woman’s right to feel safe and secure is far less important than a dude’s ability to hit a woman up regardless of time or circumstance. Treating women as if they should be constantly available sex toys, or at least receptive to sexual propositions 24/7, is called… objectification. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp.”

          • @nullifidian
            Heh — where did I say a woman is a car? You must have some serious self-worth issue, and certainly reading comprehension issue. lol

            There was no analogy. I introduced the concept of “trying twice”. Like when a kid goes up to his dad and asks for money. Or when you burn a dish, but you try again. Duh

            Yeah, I am “comparing” a woman to a plate. What a creep.

            You never showed where the EG guy was told “no, do not approach me, and if you do you are a chauvinist” in the first instance.

            Now I agree that what EG did was stupid and unconcerned.

            But your last part is the most hilarious. You are saying that if you make the mistake to ask a woman out in the wrong place/time, or even if you assume that the woman is available when you ask her (a paradox), then you are objectifying the woman. lol

            Now, who is the creep?

            What are you doing on a science blog? Go back to the gender studies blog.

          • “But your last part is the most hilarious. You are saying that if you make the mistake to ask a woman out in the wrong place/time, or even if you assume that the woman is available when you ask her (a paradox), then you are objectifying the woman. lol

            “Now, who is the creep?”

            You.

            Your assumptions do not make a woman automatically available and receptive to your overtures, and assuming that she should be is to put your whims on a higher level than her right to be taken as a fully rounded person with individual desires of her own that have nothing to do with who you are and what you choose to assume.

            “What are you doing on a science blog? Go back to the gender studies blog.”

            This is not a science blog, and even if it were I am a science major. Wow. What a concept. People who disagree with you aren’t inferior in rationality and can manage to learn about and do science. By the way, are you a scientist, or just a troll?

          • Thanks for taking the time to reply to that guy and dissect his arguments. I find it very helpful in understanding why the bad arguments are bad, and thus I can better communicate about it in other discussions. Also helps me to raise my awareness of my own privilege.

            So, thanks. :)

        • I wasn’t aware that not I was not only designed in a factory and purchased, but I apparently exist merely to be fucked by you.

          Here’s a cluebat for you: when you come up with – and share with the world – an analogy that implies that women are not “working correctly” when they turn you down, you are acting like a creep.

        • Rostam, you said “But your last part is the most hilarious. You are saying that if you make the mistake to ask a woman out in the wrong place/time, or even if you assume that the woman is available when you ask her (a paradox), then you are objectifying the woman. lol”. Please read hir post carefully, as I can see that you are twisting hir words.

          You can’t assume a woman is available, you have to read the signs. Place/time is not as important as what she feels. When a woman says she is tired, she is going to bed, she had enough, that means she is not available. Make a sexual advance under that circumstance is unacceptable. To follow her when she is alone into a lift where she couldn’t get out, is creepy. Would you approach Richard Dawkins when he is tired and sleepy, follow him into the lift and ask whether he would come to your hotel room have a chat with you over coffee? I don’t think you would, as basic human decency conditioned you to leave the guy alone no matter how much you wanted to talk to him. Why such decency was not afforded to a girl? Just because she is your sexual target and you were conditioned to think that you don’t have to consider her privacy and space, her time for rest? or she should feel at least flattered by this “compliment”? The moment your sexual desire takes ovthe human decency, you are sexualising that person. Don’t do this.

          • “Would you approach Richard Dawkins when he is tired and sleepy, follow him into the lift and ask whether he would come to your hotel room have a chat with you over coffee? I don’t think you would, as basic human decency conditioned you to leave the guy alone no matter how much you wanted to talk to him.”

            That is probably the most direct and succinct analogy I’ve seen on any of the threads throughout the internet. You win the internets. (Whatever that means.) :)

  15. Rebecca I have such great respect for you and thought what you said on SGU in regards to “Elevatorgate” was clear, concise, and logical. This whole kerfuffle has been an instructive (albeit depressing) lesson for me in that I now realize not all self identified skeptics apply reason to every facet of their thinking (granted, difficult to do) which I’m sorry to say included my husband.

    My husband has supported me and our children in every way possible, is an equal partner in our marriage, and by his actions, a feminist. However, even he did not “get it” when we had a discussion about this issue–he became defensive and stated, “What, guys can’t hit on women at all now?” This did not go over well.

    I had to explain to him that women’s discomfort in certain situations is based on evidence–the most commonly cited statistic is that 1 in 6 women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime and rapists look just like everyone else. I told my husband that until rape was a very rare phenomenon (I proposed 1 in 1,000), concern and discomfort on the part of women in certain situations was rational and understandable. I also informed him that duh, context matters. Then I told him how bummed out I was that he didn’t “get it” as we have daughters. I got pissed and the discussion was dropped.

    He listens to SGU just like I do and I think once he hears what you said about it, he will “get it”. Don’t stop talking about this, no matter who tells you to “shut up”–obviously, by the reaction, it’s still unfortunately needed.

  16. I don’t like the conceprt of hitting on someone. If you meet someone you meet them if you like them nd they like you and there’s sexual chemestry then that’s concentual so wheres the need to hit on someone. It’s archaic.

  17. Rebecca,

    I would like to add that I appreciate what you have done and are going through for doing it. Who knew that a simple comment about what doesn’t work for you would generate this interest.

    I hope that you get a lot of media attention and income from the extra hits. Your description rings a loud bell with that part of your audience that has sexually assaulted, particularly those who were attacked by strangers.

    In the minutes before I was attacked, I was feeling extremely uncomfortable. I was embarrassed to act upon that feeling because my attacker was black and I am Caucasian. I didn’t want to seem ‘racist’ by refusing his apparently reasonable request.

    It’s been over 30 years since I was attacked. And as such things go, it was relatively mild. I wasn’t injured or raped and it was quite brief, less than 5 minutes.

    I’m composing a letter to them in hopes of helping them understand and I was writing down what I can remember of my experience. I hope to stop twice and go cry/garden until I would compose myself.

    Discussing this incident with my husband and son, I have been unable to make them understand why it would be so concerning to me to be in the same situation. They’ve never done such a thing, and they never will, but they don’t understand why it would make so many women so uncomfortable. They sort of understand why a women who has been attacked might freak out.

    Did I mention this was over 30 years ago? You were so right to be uncomfortable even this guy was the nicest person in the world. And, to his everlasting credit, he took no for an answer. I’m glad you experienced nothing worse that discomfort.

    Please use this opportunity, should you get the chance, to emphasize to women (and men – they get attacked too)to stay away from being alone with any person that makes you uncomfortable in that way.

    You have handled this incident with remarkable aplomb. I can’t say that I agree with everything you’ve said and done, but I don’t see them as anything to dis you about. I think this storm of controversy surrounding you would be very difficult to do with. One small piece of unasked for advice – if, at any point, you come to regret anything you may have said, just acknowledge it and forgive yourself.

    If you are interested in my thoughts, I have posted some about this incident on the JREF thread, but I don’t feel inclined to discuss it any more. I’ve worked through my memories and am hoping they will soon fade once again.

  18. Rebecca,

    I think that a lot of the negative reaction you’re getting stems from the implication that what some have termed a ‘lack of charm’ is in fact misogyny. While you have amply documented the prevalence of misogyny in the skeptic community and you should continue to do so, isn’t it possible that your understanding and sensitivity to the subject have led you to the point where you’re seeing misogyny where what really is taking place is selfishness?

    Clearly he was considering his own wants before yours, but is that automatically misogyny? Does selfish behaviour always become misogyny if it’s directed from a man to a woman? Or is it the implied sexual nature of the selfishness that makes this misogyny?

    • Excellent questions.

      My gripe is actually that RW then went on the podium and accused the audience (the part that disagreed with her characterization of EG) as enablers of sexism and objectification.

      This part I cannot understand, and is grossly unfair.

    • It’s quite clear that selfishness in a sexual context tends to be gendered; and also that broader cultural misogyny tends to be framed in sexual terms (for instance, women with careers being accused of ‘sleeping their way to the top’ etc.) They’re trends, not absolutes, but they are measurable and significant trends.

      In the specific case of Elevator Guy, as in any specific case, there’s no way to tell how much of his motivation was due to personal misogyny; even if he flat out told us, HE might not even know. But it definitely fits the cultural pattern.

        • Right – by “selfishness in a sexual context tends to be gendered” I mean, when sex is involved, men tend to get more selfish about it, more so than women do. The whole cultural construct of men-chasing-women plays into this. “Gendered” means there’s a gender-specific difference.

          • I think a statement like “men tend to get more selfish about it” is a dangerous generalization. It’s a difficult thing to quantify or examine rationally: what qualifies as selfishness in terms of sexual interaction? How do you quantify selfishness and determine who is ‘more’ selfish in any given situation?

            It is true that the general social framework of ‘men chasing women’ (see davemo below using the word “quarry”) is a patriarcal one that can make it difficult for both men and women to engage in truly rewarding sexual relationships.

          • Pteryxx, Well, that is a tautology. Sex by definition is gendered. A man and a woman have absolutely different views about sex.

            And by the way, “men chasing women” is clearly not simply a “cultural construct”. It is a “physiological construct”.

            BIG difference.

          • Sterling – I beg to differ. “men chasing women” has it’s roots in bilogical differences. Cultural or patriarchical mores are symptoms of these differences. This should be very clear to all. The theory that everything can be unlearned and that “culture” is what drives the universe is bunk and pseudo-science. I am sure skeptics here would agree.

      • What percentage of (non-online dating originating) relationships between men and women were initiated by women? I am very pro-feminism, but there is also a burden placed upon men in order for them to get into a relationship. They are usually required for create awkward situations or remain alone.

        It is possible that the differences in behavior between men and women are as close to an equilibrium as we will get and serious social restructuring (such as more online dating) is needed to compensate for changing those differences.

        • It definitely happens. I’m not sure why it is so unusual. Who made up these ridiculous rules that women can’t ask men out? I never thought that I couldn’t ask a guy, so I did. We’ve been married 30+ years. I keep telling him how lucky I am after reading some of the posts by various neanderthals. He completely got what RW was saying and is amazed at the reaction that has ensued. Why isn’t it obvious that you don’t follow a gal into a lonely elevator at night to suggest “coffee” as an introduction, particularly if she’d already said good night to everyone.

          BTW, to those saying that a good looking guy would get a different reaction than a homely guy is frankly a repulsive suggestion. Don’t start saying it would matter how much money he has either.

          Meg (aka SkepMaam)

    • Rebecca is completely within her rights to make a personal request: “hey guys, don’t skeeve on me in an elevator, I don’t like it.” But when the discussion turns to the question of whether ALL coffee-in-room requests taking place in elevators are automatically sexist and to be avoided then yes, I think it does matter.

      Also, when the question comes up as to whether Mr. Dawkins is being sexist and misogynistic when he dismisses Ms. Watson’s concerns or if he is just being a jerk – something he is rather well known for – I think it is important to consider whether the action in question is in fact an example of a misogynistic midset.

      For the record, I DO think Dawkins was being sexist in his remarks. I also think he was being a dick. However, I’m still going to buy his books because I don’t think being a sexist dick makes him wrong about the necessity for rational inquiry.

  19. I am sympathetic to both points of view. I tend to be cautious when at atheist or skeptic events because I want it to be comfortable for all included — for the sake of not scaring away individuals. This is probably why any girls I have dated have been uninvolved in these movements that are so close to my heart.

    As Gretzky says, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. We live in a culture where guys who put it out there are more often in relationships than those who are respectful of the feelings of others. Considering many men (and women) involved in skeptic or atheist groups would prefer being in a relationship with someone also involved in these movements, there is a problem. Guys who don’t initiate these kinds of things will spend a lot of time with their porn collection.

    Ultimately, it is important that all acknowledge that there are situations where women can be afraid of rape, whether or not the empathizers feel they want to adjust their behavior. A guy usually doesn’t know the true feelings of his quarry and will only know by trying. I don’t see a significant change in the forwardness of men without an increase in the forwardness of women to compensate.

    • And the point of Rebecca’s talk was that women feel more comfortable and welcome in social groupings where men treat them with respect. More women socializing, more opportunities for them to interact with men they like. Forwardness “deficiency” solved.

      • Respect needs to be earned. Nobody is entitled to respect, except for their rights.

        Besides, do women “respect” men’s sexual desires, before for you to ask “respect”? You should put your foot in men’s shoes sometimes.

        • What? No, having your space respected does not need to be earned.

          I can see why Rebecca has answered your questioned. I’ve read two of your comments and you’re either a troll or a child, and neither she nor I have time for that.

      • Sadly, the forwardness problem is still not solved as women will still be far less likely to initiate when they do in fact have a romantic interest in someone.

        Guys would still be left in the guessing game of when it is okay to make an advance and when it isn’t.

        People have talked about ‘rape situations’ when everything could be a rape situation. Consider the elevator. Rebecca knew the guy’s identity. It was in an elevator – the doors only stay closed so long. It was a populated building, not an empty office building elevator in the evening. It isn’t clear why a reasonable guy would have the thought of an uncomfortable situation due to the chances of rape. My understanding of the situation is that the sin of the elevator guy was hitting on her after she had made explicit comments about how inappropriate that is.

        As much as I empathize with Rebecca’s account, I worry that people will generalize excessively from this and we will end up polarized instead of understanding that different people have different needs.

        • That’s my take also. If it weren’t for Rebecca’s talk prior in the evening, this guy would only be guilty of being lousy at picking up women. It is because of that, and because we don’t know whether Elevator Guy was at that talk, or whether he fell asleep during that part of the talk, or whether he still remembered any of the talk at all at 4:00 am after a night of drinking, that I think the “danger” of the situation is being exaggerated.

    • Surely the 1st words you say to someone even if they share a passionate common interest won’t be a sexual advance? That’s what Rebeccas elavator man did surely it’s not unreasonable to ask people to bother to find out if the the person they desire desires them? A straight sexual advance indicates they’re not boithered about your desire and that’s what creates the unpleasant sense of danger.

      • I think you make a very important point. But since people are used to doing just that in bars, it isn’t surprising to see contextually inappropriate behavior.

        I think there is a more general problem that underlies this more so than sexism. It is that people who follow their urges typically win out over those who are considerate of others. They are better at maximizing their outcomes unless there are social mechanisms that restrict them. Due to historical contingency, our social mechanisms have traditionally favored the flourishing of men over the flourishing of women.

    • Re: initiating… one initiates by saying hello, in a public place, one initiates by offering a drink… without requiring the other person to accompany them… one initiates with a smile.

      One does not “initiate” with a 4am claustrophobic request for sex… that is not called inconsiderate, it’s called being a moron. Males who are morons on issues relating to women are sexist, whether they like it or not.

  20. Objectification is fine if someone wants to be objectified, it’s the lack of respect that comes with a certain kind of selfish objectification. lust isn’t a sin if you respect other people.

    • Are you in reply to my comment? If so, pls. hit reply button.

      If you are trying to answer me, then pls. reread as that does not answer the question.

      Question is: If one is inconsiderate, then are they a sexist?

      Regarding the use of the term “Respect”:

      If you mean respect the human rights of a person, then yes, that is a privilege, and to be respected.

      But respect for the person as an individual has to be earned by the person. I am not under obligation to respect anyone, except for their rights.

      • Sorry I’m new here :) Yes he made a kind of ambiguous sexual advance so reasons for elavator mans inconsiderateness was very much to do with his chauvanism.

        Theres a basic respect we show everyone, that’s what equality is about so is beimng civil.. Yiou can lose it by being an asshole, and gain it agaion by making a sincere accepted apology.

        • Sorry – equality is not about culture and respect.

          Equality is a right – an existential premise. It applies under all circumstances and will apply in different cultures and all circumstances. You can never take it away.

          Yes, I understand that you and RW and the “cultural folks” are saying that an inconsiderate unthoughtful approach by the fellow is sexism and objectification.

          I disagree. Convince me. Thanks.

          • Convince me that making a sexual advance to someone without caring if they desire you isn’t inconsiderate. esopecially in a posibble rape scenario.

        • I think being civil is a fairly well understood concept. Jesus stole an old saying. Treat other people as you would expect to be treated. I don’t think you have to be Christian to see the emotion intelligence of that.

          • I would like to be asked for coffee by women, no matter where and if i say no thanks, i would like to have my no respected.

            Culture and personal feelings vary, Human Rights do not depend on cultural sensibilities they belong to the individuals, who as sovereign entities engage in social contracts.

            I did not sign a social contract in which i consider my self a potential rapist who has to assure women before engaging a conversation that I’m not.

            The guy will obviously be forever alone, since he can’t read the mood, but that’s all he did.

        • Petryx — There are no such things as “obligations”. That is such a wishy washy rhetoric.

          There are rights.
          There are laws.

          And what do you mean by “considerate treatment” ??? Again these are plays of word.

          If I am inconsiderate, then my reputation suffers. So the EG guy is already suffering from his mistake of being inconsiderate. In particular that he is unfairly all over the blogosphere. Good thing he is anonymous.

          Is he obligated as a matter of rights to be considerate? The answer is so clearly no. Neither your human rights nor the law says that.

          • Tell that to the staff in a store who serve a rude customer. It’s obvious peole don’t like being abused and niether do you. It’s our emotional choice if we’re civil or not.

          • Petryxx – “no obligation” has a very different meaning than “obligation”.

            I used the former. But you changed that to the latter.

            So why do you think that the inconsiderate and stupid action of the elevator guy implies that he is a sexist and/or objectificationist?

          • blissed –

            There are bylaws against rowdiness and abuse, but not against “inconsideration”.

            A store is very different. The store manager can set the rules. He may ask you to wear a shirt for example.

            The Hotel did not have an “elevator consideration” rule. It would be so silly.

            This is not to say what the EG did was OK. No it was more stupid than inconsiderate. He was unconcerned. But is he a misogynist? Any skeptic would tell you “No – there is no evidence”.

    • Unfortunately, people don’t wear explicit labels. Part of what makes Rebecca’s case interesting is that her feelings seemed to be a bit more explicit that is normal. That is rarely the case. This is why I am sympathetic to Rebecca’s experience in this case, but am not sure how much to generalize from her feelings.

      Guys who are worried about trying to understand more subtle signals often end up alone (pre-online dating at least) since the best way to know for sure is to be forward and see what the result is.

      • I should’ve taken bets on when “women need to be more explicit” would crop up.

        https://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/mythcommunication-its-not-that-they-dont-understand-they-just-dont-like-the-answer/

        Summary: Explicit refusal of *anything* is rare and usually considered impolite, but men are just as good at hearing implicit refusals as women are. When it comes to asking for sex, though, men tend to conveniently forget how to hear women’s refusals.

        Hence, “mythcommunication”.

        • I feel like you have chosen to talk past me instead of understanding my point.

          I did not blame women for not being explicit. I only pointed out the reality that we do not truly know what other people feel at most moments and have to go off of ambiguous clues. You also de-contextualized my comment from its context as a response to a previous context, making it seem like you were just waiting to post a link you like, whether or not it is appropriate instead of trying to understand my point.

          Is it inconsiderate to proposition someone who wants to be propositioned? Is it inconsiderate to proposition someone who doesn’t want to be propositioned? Do the answers to these questions change when you don’t actually know what they want? For those who say you should know first, well, that will leave guys in the bind of never being able to make an advance unless they have an intermediate. Or, this means they will be limited to online dating where people have all their cards on the table.

          For those who say ‘guys know’, I say that is ridiculous and naive. I can tell you from experience that I am typically clueless and it is usually a roll of the dice.

          • “did not blame women for not being explicit. I only pointed out the reality that we do not truly know what other people feel at most moments and have to go off of ambiguous clues.”

            No, he’s mostly just pointing out that you aren’t saying anything new. Also, that while we may never “truly know what other people feel” this is not a problem that is specific to heterosexual dating, as your comments imply that it is.

            Or, rather, your comments state that a certain amount of miscommunication must happen unless everyone does nothing. Which would be fine by itself, but in the context of the larger conversation, it certainly implies that the amount of misses within dating is normal, largely unchangeable, and unrelated to sexism.

            The link given above is about a study done that shows that men are more likely to claim signals are mixed and confusing when it comes to dating and women’s responses, despite the fact that there is nothing different about the kinds of responses and signals being given. So, clearly, there are a higher number of misses in heterosexual dating compared to elsewhere – and sexism is a likely contributor to that.

          • Lesson on one-night stands: Propositions FOLLOW previous positive interactions, such as several exchanged smiles, sexy slow dancing, hours of intimate chat in a public context. Propositions that come out of nowhere ARE sexism incarnate. No woman wants propositions without warm-ups. It’s like a penetration with zero foreplay.

            Anyone who is supposedly intelligent enough to aspire to honest skepticism or a thoughtful atheist intellectual position, has ZERO justification to blame his own stupidity, it is disingenuous.

          • jennygadget mentioned:

            “The link given above is about a study done that shows that men are more likely to claim signals are mixed and confusing when it comes to dating and women’s responses, despite the fact that there is nothing different about the kinds of responses and signals being given. So, clearly, there are a higher number of misses in heterosexual dating compared to elsewhere – and sexism is a likely contributor to that.”

            Sounds like unwarranted speculation in that last sentence. Many studies have long established that women are generally better than men at understanding non-verbal cues and “reading between the lines”. There are different communications styles then tend to be interpreted by the less forgiving as guys are rude and women are confusing. I consider these characterizations unfairly negative, but that doesn’t change the reality that there is a difference.

            So why could we expect more misses in heterosexual dating? Because there are more divergent communication styles than with same sex* relationships. [Please keep in mind that these differences are population based and no one is saying that all men or all women communicate a particular way]

            * Footnote: I believe the word ‘homosexual’ would be the appropriate contrasting term to ‘heterosexual’, but at some point people started to find that word offensive.

          • davemo

            NO. If you bothered to read the damn article/study you would know that they controlled for that. It was the same language being used, just the hypothetical scenarios that were different. Which I pretty much already pointed out, btw.

            How about before you accuse other people of jumping to conclusions you actually bother to do some research into seeing how likely that is?

        • I think it’s worth reading the article discussed in the “Yes Means Yes” blog* rather than simply accepting what is said about it. Unfortunately, as for so many journal articles, there’s a pay barrier.

          Anyways, I’ve read it. As someone familiar with “hard” science (biology), lots of things about this article raise great big red flags. The really big one is that data are presented in a purely anecdotal way. In fact, Kitzinger & Frith explicitly argue against the use of quantitative analysis. In lieu of such analysis, specific examples of speech made in focus groups & the like is presented with the implication that it is typical. The authors also have explicit political goals; to their credit, they do not make any particular attempt to hide this. As a reader, the gist is: You know the authors have an agenda; you know that data were not analyzed in an objective fashion; you are presented with specific anecdotes chosen by the authors from the data available to them; you are expected to accept extrapolation from these anecdotes to society as a whole. With all due respect to the authors, this simply isn’t how reputable science is done.

          This does not particularly mean I disagree with their or your conclusions**, only that I strongly disagree with the approach used to -justify- those conclusions. To be blunt, as empirical evidence it’s at about the same level as a Republican saying, in January, “Look, it’s cold outside, global warming is false!”

          *C. Kitzinger and H. Frith, 1999. “Just say no? The use of conversation analysis in developing a feminist perspective on sexual refusal.” Discourse & Society 10: 293-316.

          **For instance, when you say that “men are just as good at hearing implicit refusals as women are. When it comes to asking for sex, though, men tend to conveniently forget how to hear women’s refusals,” my only disagreement would be to replace the “men tend” with “a few men”. In my opinion, this is not a general trait of men but something that a small proportion of men do. However, I don’t have credible empirical evidence supporting this and, if you’re relying Kitzinger & Frith, neither do you.

          • Also, if you’ll forgive me for being long-winded, a particularly concerning quote from Kitzinger & Frith: “We are not aware of any research which has used as
            data actual naturalistically occurring acceptances – or refusals – of sexual interaction.” Such data would, of course, be central to the issue of how speech is actually used and understood in this context.

          • Since conversational analysis by definition is painstaking dissection of recorded conversations, it’s rather silly that you’d accuse an analysis paper of failing to be quantitative as if that’s a flaw. That’s almost as bad as complaining that a case study isn’t quantitative. The point of the Kitzinger & Frith article (and the O’Byrne et al article, which *is* available in full) is in-depth analysis of a sample which already contains some instances of the belief system being examined.

            The quantitative part – that women’s implicit refusals to men aren’t heard as refusals by a large proportion of the population – comes from many previous sources; in fact it’s a basic Rape 101 concept. Look at how many commentors on all the threads about Elevatorgate used some variant of “but Rebecca must have encouraged him somehow” or “How was he supposed to know she wasn’t interested.” Those are refusals to hear “no” right in front of you.

            For more examples:

            37% of people surveyed say a woman is responsible for her rape if she doesn’t say “no” clearly enough;
            link here

            40% of young men don’t believe it’s rape if a woman says “no” and they continue anyway;
            link here

            Also from that survey, 92% of women agree that going ahead after a partner says “no” constitutes rape; but only 77% of men agree with this statement. PDF link

            And, 84% of young men who admitted rapes said what they did was definitely not rape. (Koss 1988) cited here

            Also see articles on campus and fraternity rape, victim-blaming in the Cleveland Texas case, a jury in the KBR rape case accepting that Jones being unconscious was consent, and most of the YesMeansYes blog.

            I wouldn’t call 23%, 37%, or 40% “a small proportion” of men. Fewer men are ACTUAL RAPISTS than believe “no” doesn’t mean no.

            Finally, your “particularly concerning” quote from Kitzinger & Frith: “We are not aware of any research which has used as data actual naturalistically occurring acceptances – or refusals – of sexual interaction.”

            Since any such conversational analysis research would involve actually measuring which conversations LED TO RAPE or not, I’m not surprised that data is lacking.

          • pteryxx–
            “That’s almost as bad as complaining that a case study isn’t quantitative.”

            If a case study were used to justify general conclusions about the population beyond the particular case being studying, yes, absolutely, I would say it’s BS.

            Kitzinger & Frith are attempting to justify general conclusions with conversational analysis. Admittedly, I’m not familiar with the details of this technique; if it isn’t intended to be amenable to quantitative analysis, it wasn’t the right technique for them to use. This would also mean it isn’t the right paper to cite when making claims regarding whether certain things are “rare”, how speech is usually interpreted, whether one group is just as good at something as another, etc. Quantitative analyses are needed to establish such things empirically.

            It is good, though, to see that other papers do use methods more appropriate for the establishment of such claims.

            Also:
            “Since any such conversational analysis research would involve actually measuring which conversations LED TO RAPE or not, I’m not surprised that data is lacking.”

            You’re right, appropriate data would be difficult to gather. However, in order to examine how language is used to accept or reject sexual advances, rape wouldn’t need to be involved. I’m sure it would be a nightmare in terms of human subject rules, but a fair amount of useful data could potentially be gathered just by sitting in bars and recording sexual advances and the responses made to them.

            In any case, if we don’t have data that can directly address a point of contention, this limits our ability to draw empirical conclusions. That’s a problem.

  21. I had a blog post on the issue, entitled Rebecca Watson vs. Richard Dawkins. It started getting a ridiculous amount of hits. I started getting some stupid comments as well. I eventually thought a lot more about the situation and clarified my thoughts in another post. This one gets more than 20 times fewer hits. The people taking interest in this controversy obviously don’t want to hear about “well-thought of” opinions. They just want to escalate this gender cold war… I deleted the first post because I was sick of attracting attention on that story. I don’t want my blog to be known for a misunderstanding between two celebrities. Read the post for further clarification:

    http://licollider.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/watson-vs-dawkins-follow-up-thoughts/

  22. Hey Rebecca, I just listened to this week’s SGU and I think you did a great job (even if you seemed a bit uncomfortable talking about the whole thing).

    But I think you guys were wrong about the amount of misogynism in the skeptical community. I do think it’s higher than average. Whether it’s guys who have a chip on their shoulder because they were shut down by a lot of women, who feel they are smarter and more logical than us emotional women, or who just generally lack social skills…I just feel more uncomfortable and vulnerable than usual at a skeptical meeting. And I’m a scientist–I spend all my time surrounded by awkward people!

    Maybe you can’t say it, but I can. And I do think this is a major issue that the skeptical community needs to address and just won’t.

  23. I didn’t post on the other thread because I didn’t want my comment to get lost, so I guess I can post here.

    First off, Rebecca, you’re awesome, and I hope that all the support is showing you just how right we (feminists) are. I hope it shows you that even though there are trolls, MRAs, and even just clueless people, that when you fight, you’re fighting for all of us (women), even those of us who can’t fight. Please keep fighting for us. We’ll support you. I support you.

    About discovering feminism, your story sounds a lot like mine. About a year ago, I didn’t think feminism was needed anymore. I thought it had accomplished its purpose, and everything was fine. Except for the weird fact that whenever I watched movies, all the main characters seem to be men… and why were there mostly men in the government… and wow, this anti-abortion stuff is getting out of hand. The site that really changed my mind was Sociological Images. When I discovered that place, I read and learned. I found other feminist sites, and educated myself on what Feminism 101 is. I began to see that feminism is still very much needed, and there’s a long way to go in our society.

    It was quite refreshing and interesting when I started to see feminist topics appear on this site, and I longed for more of them. The refusal of some men to see the problem(s) just shows me that we still need feminism.

    About Dawkins, well, I was not surprised at all that he responded the way he did. I seem to have found out a while ago that he believed in gender essentialism and he believed in the Clark-Hatfield Sexual Proposal study, even though another study did not find the same things. (I have no references, it was a while ago, and I followed links that people posted here and on other blogs. Sorry.) Anyway, I reacted similarly; I was absolutely devastated, since I had respected him so highly. So I completely understand your reaction, and, although it’s sad we had to find out the truth, at least it’s the truth.

    Anyway, thank you Rebecca, for taking the heat for the rest of us. It’s unfair that it has to be someone, but if no one stands up and confronts the system, nothing will change.

      • There are a lot of assumptions there based on cultural conditioning. The reality is that all these hetero sexual men who are so called running around spreading their seed are having sex with the same number of heeterosexual women, It’s a statistical imposibility for men to be more promiscuous than women :)

        • Wrong blissed. It is a statistical impossibility for men to have more offsprings than women (at least until cloning is established).

          But certainly men are more promiscuous than women because they have a hunger for sex that needs to be satisfied, almost every day, like having food. That is how the biology works. But that is a fact and no amount of hocus pocus cultural word plays will make a difference in that. Guaranteed.

          • “But certainly men are more promiscuous than women because they have a hunger for sex that needs to be satisfied, almost every day, like having food. That is how the biology works. But that is a fact and no amount of hocus pocus cultural word plays will make a difference in that. Guaranteed.”

            Stupid analogy. yes, I want sex everyday. I won’t die if I don’t get it. And men don’t have a right to sex that anyone else has an obligation to submit too.

            And upon what do you state that men are biologically more promiscuous then women? Could that not be a societally enforced condition? Is it normal for a man to want sex, but abnormal and dirty for a woman to want sex?

          • No. Women want sex too. I am a lady and I want sex every damn day, twice or more if my boyfriend could keep up, and there are a lot of dudes who don’t want it all that often. You CANNOT generalize this if you want to be right and it is only showing your ignorance when you do.

            Historically, women have a lot of consequences from sex that men don’t. Also, women are more likely to be forced into doing things we don’t want to do, resulting in women having to be much more cautious about our sexual exploits, not to mention social stigma. Fortunately, a lot of these are diminishing with time and things like birth control technology, but the danger of being forced into sex is not.

            Even when single and craving sex, a woman’s gotta be careful about picking up a dude, because who knows if he’s a skeezebag and she’s gonna end up being the sex toy for all his friends once he has her alone, or something like that? There are lot of differences that you are not considering. “Boys like sex girls don’t hurr” is not the correct way to look at this.

    • That’s a kind of Daily Mail general statement. Gender largely cultural and primary sexual preferences and the character of our libido is slowly altertred by our experiences. Yes the important gender difference is a minority of men rape women, most men dare sensitive to situations that create fear but some aren’t and asking those to be aware and sympathetic is reasonable.

      • “Gender is cultural” ?? You mean men can give birth? You mean women have a hunger for sex every day ? LOL

        But Rebecca is saying more than “be considerate and aware”.

        She is saying the EG is a sexist and an objectificationist.

        Maybe she can confirm what I just said. Because that is what this whole controversy is about.

          • Rebecca, Lets put it this way. Men need 3,000 calories of sex every day, while women need only 300. This is quite clear in their behaviour.

            You will have to show me a peer-reviewed major-publication paper to prove your case otherwise, because there are major biological and neurological difference, and even genetic, between men and women.

            The burden of proof is on you. What is your source?

          • Now that is a naive comment by rostam! Perhaps rostam is confusing sex drive with (statistical) differences in what causes arousal and what is typically involved in being able to reach orgasm physically and mentally.

          • Reading down this thread sparked a question, Becca. Your marriage proposal was rather public in the skeptics community. Most of us who follow SGU know this. You’ve never mentioned that the guy was also hitting on someone we all know is in a committed relationship. Is there a reason you didn’t mentioned that? It just seems to add another layer of inappropriateness to the encounter. If he was willing to flagrantly overstep his bounds there, it just seems to me that would make the encounter all the more awkward and potentially scary for you.

            Obviously, this is your deal to handle however you see fit. You have my full support. I’m only asking to understand things better.

          • Dear rebecca, now that you are here, could you pls. clarify.

            What I read from your writings, etc. is that you claim the EG fellow is a sexist and/or objectificationist.

            Is this correct? Thanks.

        • What the whole storm in a teacup is about is a bunch of folks reading stuff into a fairly innocous comment that Rebecca made on Youtube.

          This was the comment:
          “Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that. You know, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and—don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.”

          Some guys seem to be offended at the very idea that a woman would be say she doesn’t “want to be sexualized (sic) in that manner”. Rebecca is a skeptic, like the Amazing Randi. She presumably goes to those conferences to discuss skepticism, not to pick up. The Amazing Randi probably doesn’t get hit on so often that it gets annoying so he probably doesn’t feel the need to make the same request that Rebecca made.

          Seriously, what’s the freaking problem?

          • The problem is that, as far as I can tell, RW is accusing the elevator guy of sexism and objectification.

            Now I could be wrong — but since no one is answering on this count, I will maintain this position unless I am corrected.

          • Mate, she told him that she would rather not be hit on and she was then hit on – in a time and place that made her uncomfortable. The guy was a bit blockheaded at best and creepy at worst, but then I don’t know what his motivations were.

            P.S: There exists a possibility that he merely wanted coffee and cookies, at four o-clock in the morning in his hotel room and didn’t see that as hitting on anyone. See “blockheaded”!

          • and if it needs explaining yes he is guilty of chauvenism and selfish objectification and who cares what you call it :) It’s just obvious

          • There is no evidence that RW told him “nobody should approach me”. There is no evidence that the guy was at her lecture, or if that lecture made sense to anybody.

            Saying “I am going to bed” does not make it. Did he hear that? Does that mean don’t dare to approach?

            Finally, it is in the nature of sexual encounters that usually you try more than once. Tell me in your daily approach to men in your workplace, parks, and clubs, (if you were to believe RW that women are EXACTLY equal to men in behaviour) have you ever tried again, after you got a rejection? I am sure you have. This guy was not even rejected before the encounter!

          • @tol32 — mate, you dont make sense. Even if he was told explicitly, don’t approach me, and he did, you still have a long way to go to prove he was a chauvinist.

            So what are you saying? That RW claims he is a sexist/ objectificationist?

            When answering pls. try to be considerate and respectful, and answer to the point.

          • Rostam, you are pulling a William Lane Craig on us – it’s called a “retreat to the possible”

            We don’t KNOW FOR CERTAIN if he was even at the lecture, if Rebecca gave the lecture entirely in ancient Aramaic, Klingon or Quenya so he was unable to comprehend any of it or that the poor man knew any other words in English other than “you want come to hotel room for coffee?

            However given the context of what Rebecca said and the reasons she gave for why she was pissed off it’s not bloody likely!

          • Rostram no means no. I don’t desire you, not try again. How many times would someone have to ask you that you don’t desire. If your completely gynosexual how many times would a man have to asjk you before you said yes. No means no.

          • My dear Rostam, I am not trying to “prove” that the man was a chauvinist. I did not enter this conversation saying that this was my intent.

            What I am prepared to raise my hand and say is that a huge gaggle of mostly male netizens mistakenly saw this whole episode as an attack on them or their manhoods. It wasn’t!

          • tol32 – sorry, you still dont make sense. There is actually a very high probability that the message of “do not dare to approach me and if you do you are a chauvinist” got through to the EG guy, whether at the lecture, or at the bar, or at all.

            And even if it did, the message does not make sense and is not coherent.

            The EG guy can be accused of stupidity and being unconcerned (I wont even say inconsiderate — most probably he didn’t realize the logistics of the approach).

            But RW is wrong to call him a chauvinist. And RW is even more wrong to go and berate the crowd a week later and tell people who disagreed with her that they are all a chauvinist. Would this not be bigotry?

          • Rostam, look at the now infamous Youtube video. Rebecca said this:

            “…don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out…”

            That strongly implies to me that the guy was around to hear it loud and clear.

          • “Finally, it is in the nature of sexual encounters that usually you try more than once.”

            As a woman, please don’t do this. We’re not playing hard to get. We just don’t like you and want us to leave you alone.

  24. Hi Rebecca,

    You’re being incredibly patient through all this (at least with your public comments). I’m sure I couldn’t have displayed your composure under comparable conditions. I think the discussion and consciousness raising is seriously important, and I’m glad you and the other feminist women and men posting here and elsewhere are keeping up the good work. Thank you all.

    See everybody at TAM! I’ll be one of the appropriate-behaving people scattered about the place.

    • Lies! Every time I’ve been to the High Desert Museum the otters are hidden away, “sleeping”. So say the curators. I suspect the rumors of otters to be an advertising gimmick, and that they do not really exist.

  25. I wonder if the “culturalists” on this blog who believe gender is solely determined by culture, and not by biology, do still consider themselves “skeptics” and “pro-science” ?

    What I have read about them here, where cultural language is used to dismiss biological and neurological differences, smacks me of pseudo-science and rationalization.

    I really wonder if the skeptical community takes such cultural-feminists seriously.

    I think “skepchick” with its encouragement of anti-science feminisophistry is not doing a service to the skeptical community. My 2 cents.

  26. Funny that few of the people who are on this supposedly “skepticism” blog and who support the dominant narrative that “the EG is a chauvinist” and “gender is purely determined culturally and no way biologically”, appear to have a science background.

    I don’t think this blog should be classified “skeptical” any longer.

    Thank you for the good discussion. Maybe RW will bother to answer my question sometime? Bye.

    • Your saying purely determind culturally. Purely is a word only you have used here. Yes EG has behaved in a chauvanist way. But he shouldn’t be defind as a chauvanist with a noun. He has the capacity to not act in a chauvanist way.

      If skeptical means you can’t dream and desire and have those desires respected or have imagination and make intuitive gueses just that those intuitive geuses we make that have no impoerative like is there a god have to be proven. Other uintuative geuses that have an imperative like am I safe in this lift and do I need to mentuion this so it’s less likely to hapen again should be respected otherwise the only prove that your intuitive geus is right is that your raped. Who wants that.

    • This is coming from a guy who claims that people are out to “prove” a thesis that some of them (like myself) never actually laid claim to.

      You do know the difference between evidence and proof don’t you?

    • rotsam wrote: “few of the people who are on this supposedly “skepticism” blog and who support the dominant narrative that “the EG is a chauvinist” and “gender is purely determined culturally and no way biologically”, ”

      This is quite the strawman — people are not claiming that gender is *purely* determined culturally. I think it’s clear that biology and culture interact to determine gender.

      Also, while the distinction is subtle, the claim is not that “EG is a chauvist”. It is that EG objectified Rebecca by treating her as a sexual object rather than a whole person. He did this by putting his desire for sex ahead of her clearly stated lack of interest. He complicated this by asking in a context that was potentially threatening — again failing to consider Rebecca’s point of view or feelings.

      Several people have tried to point out that, if men want to have more success meeting and dating women, then how they approach women matters. But you reject the idea that women deserve to be treated with respect (until they have ‘earned it’). What a bizarre statement.

      It seems like a reasonable thing for a guy to be considerate of a woman’s feelings, to care about whether his approach is off-putting, even if only for the purely selfish reason that then women will be more interested in being around him.

  27. Please, everyone, try these two things.

    1. Pretend, for a moment, that there people with whom you disagree on this point are reasonable, sensible people.
    2. Now that you have done 1, ask yourself, “What would have to be true for this person’s comment to make sense?” and try very hard to be generous in your interpretation.

    Neither of these things require you to abandon your convictions, they cost you nothing but a little time and effort, and doing these things might just help this topic rest in peace.

    • “Neither of these things require you to abandon your convictions, they cost you nothing but a little time and effort, and doing these things might just help this topic rest in peace.”

      Sexism and misogyny do not magically disappear. How do you propose to make them rest in peace?

      • Sethra, I don’t know how to do that, but I’d be happy to discuss some ideas. So far, I’ve only had success by modeling the behavior I hope to see in others and keeping myself open to more than my own immediate interpretation of events, and the things people say and write.

        I suspect we can agree that immediate, harsh judgment has mostly obscured what could otherwise have been an interesting and useful discussion about balancing one’s survival mechanism with one’s desire to remain tolerant. This incident did lead me to read an article that, I think, refined my perspective on the issue. I hope that I better understand how Rebecca felt in that elevator. I think it’s a crying shame that anyone should need to feel that way in that situation.

        Once out of that situation, though, we all had the chance to think, to ask questions, to treat each other charitably. I think that, by and large, we all have one thing in common: we don’t support sexism or misogyny. I think we stand a better chance working at that problem together than apart.

    • “since I’m not a rapist, therefore it’s never a rape scenario!”

      You misunderstand what a rape scenario is.

      Surely you understand that a woman cannot tell, from looking at you, whether or not you are a rapist.

      A rape scenario simply means [b]from the woman’s point of view[/b] a situation where she is isolated with an unknown man who is in a position to overpower her. It is a situation where she is more vulnerable to rape than normal.

      This is why thoughtful guys don’t hit on women in certain contexts. Like, say, when she’s walking alone at night in an isolated area. Or when alone in an enclosed space — such as an elevator — where she cannot immediately get away.

      • Also, thoughtful blacks should not approach or talk to upper class whites in situations of isolation where there is no immediate means of escape. We call this a “mugging scenario”, even if no actual mugging is involved.

        See how offensive this type of reasoning can be?

        The idea that women must always plot out escape routes for a potential rape whenever they see a man coming is horribly offensive to me. It is not street smart, or just the way of things. It is sexist, and it is misandry. I would argue that it is also psychologically unhealthy for the women who think this way.

        • The black/white mugging scenario is not analagous to the man/woman rape scenario.

          There is no relationship between blacks and whites that is similar to the relationship between men and women.

          Muggers can be black or white; ditto for those mugged.

          Women don’t rape women (or men). While men can rape men, it is sufficiently uncommon (particularly by a stranger) that it is not something men have to be alert to.

          Women live with a reality that dictates a level of awareness and concern when in potentially threatening situations. This is not misandry. Women who feel uncomfortable in situations where they are vulnerable to rape do not hate men.

          To take offense at this — as if it is some sort of judgement about you personally — is obtuse.

          Do you have a mother, sister or girlfriend that you care about? Would you recommend that she avoid walking alone, late at night, in certain parts of town? Then you agree with the concept of a ‘rape scenario’. You’re just quibbling over details.

          • I agree with most of your comment, but one correction: it *is* possible for women to rape men, though all but unheard of in a stranger scenario. Stats are vague but NoSeriouslyWhatAboutTehMenz blog has been covering them, including a recently posted male survivor thread. Here’s one of their posts: link

        • I have read this black man scaring whites argument used multiple times on this situation. I find it incredibly racist. Now if you want to use a racial comparison, then I would suggest a young black man in the 1950s in the deep South walking past some white men at night who say to him “Hey boy.” The young black man has to think to himself “Are those white men members of the KKK or are they Quakers?”

  28. But other people don’t know you so surely there are situations where you can see someone is vulnerable like in an alevator at 4 in the morning and if you can’t this kind of incident camn make you aware. Most men don’t rape but most men have been assaulted at least once in their lives usually at school/high school so can empathise with someone who feels threatened. To someone who doesn’t know you, your a stranger.

      • Yes i can emphasize, but i don’t come into a situation assuming that I’m automatically threatening. Those bullies used more than words and physicality, to establish an actual threat.

        My argument isn’t with Rebecca’s video but with the subsequent discussion that ensued, likening the incident to all sorts of scenarios that had nothing to with it.

        Rebecca has every right to her sensibilities and everyone who knows and likes her, is probably going to respect them.

        I just refuse the premise that everyone has to know and respect them. I’m talking about sensibilities here, not obvious infringements on her personal freedoms or actively threatening her.

        Being alone with a men in an elevator is not an infringement on her personal freedoms, unless you make some rather nasty assumptions about all men.

        • Actually you don’t have to make nasty assumptions about all men or a particular man to feel uncomfortable being approached. You don’t have to be a survivor of sexual assault or to have repeatedly spoken out on the need for the opposite (or same) gender to expect that decent people who are actually interested will not behave in certain ways.

          Hitting on someone (anyone) at 4am when they’ve already said in the same bar as part of the same conversation you were in that they’re tired and going to bed is flat out wrong. It’s also not appropriate to approach someone at any time by following them to a secluded, confined place and cornering them.

          If you want to ask someone out and have a good chance of getting a yes, try getting to know them, at least a little bit, first. Then if you’re in a crowded place where it’s too loud or there are too many people, stop them in the lobby (don’t follow them to the elevator or their room) or ask if you can talk to them somewhere less noisy but still public and with exit options.

          Someone above said respect had to be earned, but that’s ridiculous. Everyone deserves a base level of respect until they’ve proven they don’t deserve it.

          RW was clearly giving EG the benefit of the doubt by not calling him a potential rapist or an asshole or a chauvinist pig. She was simply putting out a call to people (men in particular, but it applies to everyone in a position of power) not to do this anymore as it makes those with less power (physical, emotional, sexual, career, etc) uncomfortable.

  29. Rebecca,

    about time this proverbial can of worms was opened. sorry you’ve had to go through what you have, but thanks for taking the lead. i know you probably didn’t expect for this to become as fiery a topic as it has, but i’m grateful that you’ve had the courage to get this [so-called] discussion going.

    not sure why too many in the atheist/skeptic community would rather continue to act like dismissive trolls than to reflect introspectively about what you’re saying. unfortunately, it makes sense that sexism exists in this community (as it does in just about all forums), but that doesn’t give people who consider themselves to be intelligent to maintain their ignorance. if such people want to strengthen their community, they have to will themselves to progress beyond the thinking that feminism is antithetical to their purpose (or for that matter, issues of race, social class, etc., but that’s of course for an entirely different discussion).

    for all out there — if you want your ideas to become provincial and stale, then by all means dismiss, disempower, snark on Rebecca and what she and others who support/substantiate her have to say.

  30. This is the first time I take a look at skepchick’s comments. My conclusions are:

    * Rebecca Watson is really good at feeding the trolls. Most posters here are brain dead but you still reply to them. Don’t you agree it’s a waste of time?

    * 90% of all disagreements between human beings derive from semantic misunderstanding. Blogs are obviously not the best medium to convey proper emotions. Much is lost when translating what you think into blog posts. It’s clear to me that Richard Dawkins and many others simply didn’t truly understand what you’re trying the say. Both sides should try to humbly understand the mis-communication and stop jumping into conclusions about what they other might be thinking.

    * 90% of human beings are drooling retards. Regardless of gender, nationality or hair color. Unfortunately, there’s no reason why skeptics or atheists would be an exception. People who label themselves as skeptics are just people who sympathize with the idea. But are not necessarelly good at critical thinking. There’s too many commenters assuming skeptics are immune to stupidities like racism or misogyny. Clearly, that’s not true. Which just reinforces: stop feeding the trolls.

  31. I wrote my own blog entry about the mess with Dawkins:

    http://circleh.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/the-downfall-of-richard-dawkins-credibility/

    Dawkins is dead wrong about this! Indeed, he couldn’t be more wrong if he were to suddenly endorse Young Earth Creationism. And since his position is so repulsive, the only honorable thing for him to do at this point is for him to state, in a public forum or even on his own website: “I’m sorry, I was being sexist and hypocritical and I will never make such foolish statements again.” And then shut the hell up afterwards for a long time.

    Until he does that, I will never listen to him again.

    And I don’t care who insults me or Rebecca for that. Truth and honor are more important than political convinience, like bowing to Dawkins as his blind assumptions just because he is a strong defender of science as well as atheism. If anything, that makes us even more obligated to criticize him when he fails as something, as he clearly did here.

    • He makes one mistake, most likely to misunderstanding the feelings behimd a blog post. And suddenly he’s losing credibility?

      Dawkins is awesome. Rebecca is awesome. People make mistakes. Human language is imperfect which often leads to misunderstanding.

      That’s all. Anything further is reading too much into it.

  32. I remember a teacher, lo so many years ago (6th grade, I think), who pointed out that when someone has enjoyed a privilege long enough they begin to think of it as a right. When faced with a refusal to acknowledge that “right”, one can feel a distinct shock, I know I did (the discomfort can last for days – really embarrassing and, admittedly, self-inflicted). I’ll credit my mother and two outspoken sisters for helping straighten me out; although, the process took decades.

    I’ll figuratively put my arms on the shoulders of my fellow males and gently say, “the part of this that really galls you is that, deep down, you know (or fear) that she’s right. Man up, boy, and gracefully admit that you over-reacted. Welcome to the human race.”

  33. Here is what I have learned from Elevatorgate:

    (1) “Don’t take this the wrong way” apparently doesn’t mean what I think it means.

    (2) A foreign country makes everything scarier. A hotel in Ireland might as well be an opium den in Marrakesh–after all, they are FOREIGN COUNTRIES!

    (3) Trying to change a woman’s mind when she has already declared her intentions is disrespectful and misogynistic. Example: If a woman says she’ll have the steak, and a man says, “The steak at this place isn’t as good as the pork chops,” then the man is a TOTAL BASTARD.

    (4) Suspecting that a woman might not be a good critical thinker (just because she is a woman) is misogyny of the highest order. However, suspecting that a man might be a rapist (just because he is a man) is not misandry in the slightest.

    (5) Fear of being alone in an elevator with a black person is racism. Fear of being alone in an elevator with a gay person is homophobia. Fear of being alone in an elevator with a Border Collie means you should really learn to like dogs more. HOWEVER, fear of being alone in an elevator with a male is normal, healthy, and savvy, and not sexism at all.

    (6) Arguments such as: “You can’t possibly understand why you are wrong because you are privileged / male / not a sexual assault survivor” are no longer considered ad hominems.

    (7) 6 in 6 women can’t cite any sources for their statistics, especially sources that actually refer to sexual assault by complete strangers versus the MUCH more common sexual assault by dating partners/ acquaintances/ authority figures, etc.

    (8) ANY disagreement–especially disagreement that makes light of the situation–is not a learning opportunity, nor is it fertile ground for constructive conversation that leads to better understanding for all involved. No sir. Instead, disagreement means that one side is full of misogynistic, rape-apologizing, patriarchal cavemen who deserve to be insulted, boycotted, and shunned. ‘Cause they are the PAST, baby, and we’re the future!

    (9) Don’t hit on women in elevators. No matter how awesome Aerosmith made it seem in that video.

    Did I miss anything?

    Honestly, Rebecca’s original point was fine. “Hey, clueless guys, if you don’t want to come off as creepy, and if you want to make women feel welcome in the movement, then don’t do this…” But then after that everyone went off the deep end.

    And so I’ve read post after post, some from people I like and respect, about how horrible a person I am for not recognizing the insidiousness and the seriousness of the Elevator Guy situation.

    Am I really not allowed to respectfully disagree while at the same time being a feminist? Seriously?

    • Are you kidding me? This is ludicrous, so let’s talk about the specific points you’re wrong about.

      (1) “Don’t take this the wrong way” apparently doesn’t mean what I think it means.
      Everything is context dependent. RW had just finished talking about how objectifying people isn’t OK, and said she’d enjoyed the discussions but was tired and going to bed. Following her to an elevator alone to proposition her after that ignored her wishes, so it’s wrong regardless of the word choice.

      (2) A foreign country makes everything scarier. A hotel in Ireland might as well be an opium den in Marrakesh–after all, they are FOREIGN COUNTRIES! Foreign countries have different laws, rules and customs than the US as well as different social mores – some of those differences could be harmful if you’re not aware of them. Also, being in a foreign country means that any support system is probably not as available (cell phone service not transferring, different time zones), and the people you usually see at US conferences aren’t as likely to be there, so you feel more isolated and less comfortable.

      (3) Trying to change a woman’s mind when she has already declared her intentions is disrespectful and misogynistic. Example: If a woman says she’ll have the steak, and a man says, “The steak at this place isn’t as good as the pork chops,” then the man is a TOTAL BASTARD. Wow, you are a misogynist, aren’t you. There is no comparison between sex or a date and an order in a restaurant unless you are deliberately comparing a woman to a piece of meat – also misogynistic.

      (4) Suspecting that a woman might not be a good critical thinker (just because she is a woman) is misogyny of the highest order. However, suspecting that a man might be a rapist (just because he is a man) is not misandry in the slightest.
      What? Suspecting a man who deliberately ignores a wish to not be objectified, who follows you out of a bar and onto an elevator alone, and who again ignores your desire to just go to bed because you are tired to corner and proposition you is rational in my opinion. But RW never said that EG was even a potential rapist, and those of us who have said we would look at him that way felt that EG ignoring specific requests and cornering someone in the way that he did RW increased the chances that he might be a rapist.

      (5) Fear of being alone in an elevator with a black person is racism. Fear of being alone in an elevator with a gay person is homophobia. Fear of being alone in an elevator with a Border Collie means you should really learn to like dogs more. HOWEVER, fear of being alone in an elevator with a male is normal, healthy, and savvy, and not sexism at all. See above response; deliberately following someone into an elevator to proposition them is not the same as simply being in the same elevator.

      (6) Arguments such as: “You can’t possibly understand why you are wrong because you are privileged / male / not a sexual assault survivor” are no longer considered ad hominems. This isn’t even worth my time.

      (7) 6 in 6 women can’t cite any sources for their statistics, especially sources that actually refer to sexual assault by complete strangers versus the MUCH more common sexual assault by dating partners/ acquaintances/ authority figures, etc. http://www.oneinfourusa.org/statistics.php is a start on your request for stats including some from the US CDC. As for acquaintance vs. stranger, EG would be considered an acquaintance for most purposes – at the same conference, in the same conversation, at the same bar. True stranger rape = random person you’ve never seen or spoken with before corners you or breaks into your home etc.

      (8) ANY disagreement–especially disagreement that makes light of the situation–is not a learning opportunity, nor is it fertile ground for constructive conversation that leads to better understanding for all involved. No sir. Instead, disagreement means that one side is full of misogynistic, rape-apologizing, patriarchal cavemen who deserve to be insulted, boycotted, and shunned. ‘Cause they are the PAST, baby, and we’re the future! Actually, if this is supposed to be funny, your sense of humor is way off base. Too many people here have talked about being groped, sexually assaulted, and raped for this to be remotely acceptable. See this: http://www.menspeakup.org/why-rape-jokes-are-never-ok for one of the reasons why.

      (9) Don’t hit on women in elevators. No matter how awesome Aerosmith made it seem in that video.

      Did I miss anything?

      Honestly, Rebecca’s original point was fine. “Hey, clueless guys, if you don’t want to come off as creepy, and if you want to make women feel welcome in the movement, then don’t do this…” But then after that everyone went off the deep end.

      And so I’ve read post after post, some from people I like and respect, about how horrible a person I am for not recognizing the insidiousness and the seriousness of the Elevator Guy situation.

      Am I really not allowed to respectfully disagree while at the same time being a feminist? Seriously?

      Oh, yep, you’re respectfully disagreeing here. Absolutely.

      I have no idea why you would think that it’s feminist to behave this way. Not just RW, but a ton of women have brought up really important points in this discussion, and people like you keep dismissing them with false equivalents and specious logic. And the men wonder why women get so frustrated and sometimes frightened when our stated wishes are ignored.

      • Some rebuttals in random order:

        I think you misunderstand some (just some) of my critique. I am responding more to the outlandish comments I have been reading than to Rebecca’s own analysis. You say that I am dismissing very good points that have been brought up; I believe, instead, that I am addressing some of the very bad points that have been brought up. Maybe I should also have responded to the better-argued posts that are out there. But I didn’t. I targeted the silly ones instead.

        It IS entirely possible, given the evidence, that the Elevator Guy wanted conversation and coffee, and was not trying to bump uglies. He may have had an academic interest in Rebecca, or a romantic interest (i.e. a relationship, not a one-night stand). He could have been trying to sell Rebecca some Amway products. Sorry, but that’s true. No one knows for sure except Elevator Guy, and he ain’t talking.

        It is my understanding that Rebecca lives in the UK, not the US. So, no time zone difference, no cell phone issues, etc. Some comments bring up the foreign country bit as though Rebecca was trekking on elephant-back through distant Siam. I mean, c’mon. It’s IRELAND. Not that scary. Just sayin’. (Also, it’s kind of insulting to the Irish, don’t you think?)

        “This isn’t even worth my time.” Non-sequitir is a fallacy also.

        If rape jokes are not okay, then how about jokes about a situation where no one was raped, no one was even seriously afraid of being raped, and a firm “no” was respected? ‘Cause that’s the situation here. No? Still not okay to joke about it? How about this one, then: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer: That’s not funny.

        I am not claiming my way of arguing (i.e. use of humor, sarcasm, etc.) is “feminist”. Nor am I claiming that I have the one and only feminist position. What I am claiming is that (a) I am a feminist, and (b) two feminists can legitimately disagree on whether or not Elevatorgate was a big deal.

        By the way, you are proving my point by your overly aggressive tone and the name-calling. This whole “You either agree with us 100% or you’re a misogynist!” stance is kind of scary.

        I believe that women and men should have the same rights and the same opportunities in society. I believe that while there are some innate biological and some learned cultural differences between men and women, that individuals vary so much that it is folly to try and judge an individual based upon aggregate patterns of their sex. I believe that we each have an ethical obligation to try to empathize with the opposite sex, to try and see what it must be like for the “other side”. I believe we also have an obligation to root out any sexist thinking in our own belief systems, because no matter what idealized noble beliefs we have about equality, base sexism has a way of creeping around in the skulls of the best of us. Also, I believe that the Elevator Guy incident was no big deal.

        So… that last part? That makes me a misogynist?

        My argument was, at heart, a plea for civility. Looks like it failed.

        • “Also, I believe that the Elevator Guy incident was no big deal.

          So… that last part? That makes me a misogynist?”

          I do not know you well enough to know if you’re a misogynist. I am willing to take your word for it that you’re not. You have said things in this thread (not specifically the quote above) that are misogynistic.

          I would suggest that, in the case of the quote above, you are being rather unfortunately dense. That — perhaps due to feeling defensive — you’re not really listening to what women are saying, and not trying to imagine things from a woman’s point of view.

          As in, “not getting it”.

          “My argument was, at heart, a plea for civility. Looks like it failed.”

          I cannot imagine how you thought such an uncivil post was going to promote civility.

          • Please point out the part of any of my posts that reveals my hatred of women.

            I’m being serious here. Yeah, there things I said that you disagree with, but why must you conclude that instead of being just plain wrong, that I am a misogynist? Why can’t I just be wrong without also hating women?

          • “I cannot imagine how you thought such an uncivil post was going to promote civility.”

            Oh, I don’t know… the obviously joking nature of it? The fact that I was selectively making fun of the more extreme claims out there? The appeal for everyone to stop making personal attacks and just discuss the issues?

    • To clarify my post:

      I don’t think I made it clear what the target of my sarcasm was. I was trying to mock some of the more outlandish posts I have seen, in order to inject a little humor and maybe pull the conversation back a little towards reality.

      In doing so, I was purposefully picking out some of the weaker points that have been made. So if you read my post as some sort of serious rebuttal to “Rebecca’s side” it’s going to seem like a huge strawman.

      Don’t get me wrong–I stand by the points I am making–I just wanted to point out that the post was meant to be taken in a certain light.

    • If these are the lessons that you learned from ‘Elevatorgate’, then I’m afraid you have to turn in your skeptic credentials.

      I’d have expected any decent skeptic to avoid using such ridiculous straw men to make points.

    • “Here is what I have learned from Elevatorgate:”

      Apparently you haven’t learned anything.

      From my last post on Bad Astronomy:

      The stupid thing is all the people saying “He just asked her to join him for coffee” and “Can I no longer ask a woman out for coffee?” and “How is asking her to join him for coffee creepy?”
      He did not just ask her to have coffee with him. He asked her to join him for coffee in his room at 4 o’clock in the morning. Whether he attended any of her talks, whether he paid attention to them or her conversation with others at the bar, that was a pretty senseless thing to ask someone who doesn’t even know him.

  34. I’m sorry I’m late to the party on this.

    Regardless of the casual nature of the remark, it clearly touched a nerve and I think – like most things – it touches on much deeper issue relating to gender, cultural differences, privilege, etc.

    I think your initial statement “Guys, don’t do that” is categorically judgmental and more inappropriate than asking a girl to one’s room for coffee. I would not make an issue of this, but I think it speaks to a much deeper point.

    I am a “guy” and so that statement is a prejudicial judgment on me and a criticism of my behavior. I have, in fact, been in similar situations where I have asked girls for coffee (a drink, etc.) in casual and sometimes spontaneous circumstances. I’m not shy about things like that, and the reactions are mixed. Some are put off by the directness; some admire it. Accordingly, I’ve been taken up on “coffee” offers and politely turned down. I’ve also been turned down in ways I’ve considered a little more rude than warranted, but I consider that a fault of mine for personality misreading. Some probably thought it “creepy” behavior, but I have never been disrespectful, overly-aggressive, etc. (I might have been chewing gum though) And I have never touched a woman without her express consent, before said “coffee” offer is taken up or after. Often, and I know this is a shocker, I’m more interested in getting to know a women before I advance (or don’t) physically.

    One very awesome long term relationship was the result an exchange similar to one I take to be off limits to your sensibility, so I am not operating in territory that transgresses clearly established social norms. (touching, coercing, etc.) Unless you consider an awkward attempt to be charming a form of coercion.

    Now a simple question: what possible right do you have to tell me (“guys”) that my behavior is not appropriate? If I were to take your advice, the first moments of what became a close friendship would have passed in silence.

    You don’t have that right.

    I want to be careful here, because this point comes very close to crossing the line concerning your right to feel what you feel (i.e. uncomfortable) which is something I aim to respect. But formally speaking, it is not your right to tell “guys” how to flirt with women in general because a circumstance that might make you personally uncomfortable might end up in marriage for someone else. I’ve met women in circumstances that could be considered “creepy” by third parties (hell, probably by my mom for that matter) – but that is just the point: they are third parties and have nothing to do with what transpires (or doesn’t) between the two engaged in an interaction.

    So if I found you attractive and potentially receptive to an off-the-cuff invitation, I might have asked you the same thing in similar circumstances. But probably not because your subsequent reaction makes me believe that the guy you were dealing with didn’t read you very well to begin with, which is a responsibility I think we all have to one another. If you felt the invitation uncomfortable or inappropriate, I would expect something to the extent of “Thank you, but I’m really not comfortable with that” (or not even with a “thank you”) to which I would respond “Certainly, I completely understand and respect that. Have a lovely night.” And we would both walk away in good conscience. That to me is a perfect and respectful balance concerning an issue like this.

    To be very frank, and I’m sorry if this offends you, your seeming inability to do this betrays in insecurity that says more about you than about “guys”. Any girl or guy, for that matter, who is certain that they call the shots in their consensual romantic decisions should have no problem whatsoever turning an offer like this down without feeling disrespected (or even thinking about it five minutes later, much less writing about it). I know you’re not claiming victimization, but it is not as simple as that. That you were uncomfortable enough to make a categorical judgment that includes me directly, and a female friend of mine indirectly, then obviously there is something involving more than your personal discomfort.

    So this puts Dawkins and I in agreement, I think, in the most general sense. I would never write a sarcastic note like that about you, but then I would also not mock religious folks the way Dawkins is known to.

    Frankly, the fact that this issue has morphed into an issue of “privilege” is baffling to me. I’m white, male and relatively well-off. So what? I still have rights and responsibilities like anyone else, and I deal with the person, not the category.

    Moreover, I consider the way I socialize to be respectful and nothing to be ashamed of.

    Thanks for the dialog. I think these issues are important.

    • “Now a simple question: what possible right do you have to tell me (“guys”) that my behavior is not appropriate? If I were to take your advice, the first moments of what became a close friendship would have passed in silence.

      You don’t have that right.”

      You mean other people don’t have rights at all, including some right to privacy (guaranteed in the Constitution, even, in the U.S.)? Because your rights stop where another person’s rights start. Seriously, this isn’t string theory here.

      Here’s the key to interacting in a healthy fashion: if you see a woman who’s doing something like reading but you want to talk to her anyway, ask yourself if you’d interrupt a guy who was performing the same activity. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF OVER YOUR ANSWER. If you wouldn’t interrupt a guy based on the fact that it would be rude but you WOULD interrupt the woman, then you’re not treating the woman as an equal. You’re treating her as a potential sex object whose activities and needs rate lower than your own desires.

      And women get that. A lot. Every day.

      That’s where we get the “sexism” bit from – the fact that a fairly large subsection of men do not treat women as equals because they’re too busy thinking of where they’d like to put their penises. Or about bewbs. Whichever.

      If you’d like an adventure into what women face, go to a popular, huge online dating site and start up two new accounts – one male, one female. Then check and see how many horribly inappropriate messages (and junk shots) each one gets. If that doesn’t show you the sheer scope of the gender-based harassment that women go through on a daily basis, I don’t know what will.

      • Sethre,

        Thanks for the response.

        “You mean other people don’t have rights at all, including some right to privacy (guaranteed in the Constitution, even, in the U.S.)? Because your rights stop where another person’s rights start. Seriously, this isn’t string theory here.”

        See, there is that generalization reflex again. Your use of the words “at all” bring it to a radical extreme. I simply reject that. There is nothing in my behavior, I feel, that would warrant such an extreme. No, people do not have a “right” to privacy in public cafes in the same context of constitutionally protected rights of speech, privacy, etc. That’s a ridiculous notion. What people do have is the right to a reasonable level of personal space and the claim to privacy. What do I mean? Well…

        “Here’s the key to interacting in a healthy fashion: if you see a woman who’s doing something like reading but you want to talk to her anyway, ask yourself if you’d interrupt a guy who was performing the same activity. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF OVER YOUR ANSWER. If you wouldn’t interrupt a guy based on the fact that it would be rude but you WOULD interrupt the woman, then you’re not treating the woman as an equal. You’re treating her as a potential sex object whose activities and needs rate lower than your own desires.

        And women get that. A lot. Every day.”

        That’s a fair litmus test, I suppose, but it only begs the question by shifting the issue to what it “rude”. And it isn’t that simple because “sex object” is a slippery term. I wouldn’t interrupt a man reading for this reason because I am not sexually attracted to men. I have interrupted women reading in cafes for that reason. In fact, I approached a woman reading in a cafe about a month and a half ago because I noticed her from a restaurant I’d occasionally go to and I’d always thought she was quite stunning. (no, really – this girl is gorgeous) I’d wanted to talk to her but actually thought it undignified to approach her while she was at work. (See, that actually struck me as disrespectful, because of the dynamic between customer/waitress in a professional context.) So when I noticed her in the corner I approached her and interrupted her while she was reading for the express purpose of asking her out on a date. I guess because I saw her as a “sex object” ::shrugs::. My reason was that I was physically attracted to her and she seemed very bubbly and genuinely kind. We talked for about twenty minutes though. I didn’t have the nerve then, but I asked her out a week or so later. It seems that by your standard, this friendship now shouldn’t exist, because…

        “And women get (treated like a potential sex object). A lot. Every day.”

        So I shouldn’t have approached the girl I was sexually attracted to in the above circumstance? Based on how other “men” treat “women”. Um. No. That is an association fallacy, simply put. She decided that talking to me was more interesting than reading her book. She could have given signals to indicate that she wanted to be left along, but instead she was very warm to me. Of course I wouldn’t know this if I viewed these situations through the lens of girls who think every sexual advance is from the same construction crew who cat-calls at them. Reality is fuzzy. Judge people based on who they are and how they behave in situations; not what their class of people tend to do, or whatever “privilege” their class enjoys.

        “That’s where we get the “sexism” bit from – the fact that a fairly large subsection of men do not treat women as equals because they’re too busy thinking of where they’d like to put their penises. Or about bewbs. Whichever.”

        Hmm. I think about that, but not in terms so vulgar. I think it is a false dichotomy to suggest that I view a woman as inferior because I am sexually drawn to her. If anything, I would like to think that I actually compliment a woman by way of a sexual connection. And please don’t misunderstand – I don’t mean that in an arrogant way at all. Just that to me a very important part of sexual dynamic is trying to evoke feelings of beauty.

        And considering how “most men” are (or match.com behaviors, etc.) has absolutely nothing to do with this. “Most men” aren’t standing with me when I approach a woman. I am.

        -B.

        • *shrug* If “most men” aren’t standing beside you when you interact, then why go out of your way to defend one particular creepy guy (EG)? Much less to feel offended on behalf of all men because Rebecca said “Guys, don’t do this” when a few seconds earlier she was thanking everyone for listening and discussing; and a few seconds *later* she said “But everyone else seemed to really get it.” It sounds to me as if you got an A instead of A+ on the exam, and now you’re defending the folks who flunked because they didn’t study until the night before. Dude, if you’re already respectful, you’re doing better than most of us. Really.

          • Why do I bother? That’s a really good question, and the reason has to do with the principle behind the controversy.

            I’m not making these points about my personal experiences to see what “grade” I would get in the eyes of Rebecca. I’m not approaching Rebecca in a cafe (or elevator), so to a certain extent I don’t care what her personal tastes are. I mildly care when she (or anyone else) lets her personal tastes to make general claims on how people should and shouldn’t behave. (I see a very close parallels to religion here, frankly) I really care when I begin to see appeals for sensitivity (with phrases like “awareness of privilege” etc.) overshadowing the fact that there is a very clear irrationality at hand here in the form of assertion fallacy/broad generalization when guys are asked to avoid potentially unwelcome behaviors based on how women tend to be treated in general.

            Remember – I’m not defending uninvited touching, abusive language or overt threats – I am defending what some women are put off by and would consider overly-aggressive flirtation (i.e. spontaneous, initially uninvited, etc.) and are arguing against based on the claim that “many men” are abusive/rude and appeals to what I see as PC code words like “privilege” etc. Meanwhile, other women are flattered by some of these same acts of flirtation.

            And yet “guys” are asked to avoid spontaneous or aggressive approaches because “many women are mistreated by many men” and men need to be sensitive to this? What if the woman a guy is interested in might be receptive to an aggressive or spontaneous approach? How would a guy know unless he opens communication? Not all women are receptive to things in the way Rebecca is, and yet she is comfortable telling “guys” in general what and what not to do.

            In principle, I see this as a clash between the assertion fallacy and an appeal to “sensitivity” based on “awareness of male privilege” etc. Okay, so you know that feeling when you’re talking to an evangelical and flags start to go up when he begins to pepper the discussion with phrases like “know it in your heart” or “eternal Truth”? A discussion that begins in reason starts to go off track when certain words or phrases are used in place of reason. That’s how I feel when I see the phrase “male privilege” come up in this issue.
            The invalidity of the assertion fallacy outweighs such appeals to emotion.

            The reason I go out of my way to argue this has everything to do with that creeping, subtle irrationality.

        • You said that you did not approach your new friend at work because that’s disrespectful.

          In a sense, Rebecca was at work, being a professional at the convention.

          You said that you prefer to know someone before making the decision to proposition them.

          EG did not know Rebecca.

          Your example of approaching a woman is one where it’s daytime (or even evening – normal business hours) in a public place. You did not follow her into an elevator at 4 am and ask a total stranger to go to your place for coffee.

          That’s the difference, the context.

          If EG had been someone Rachel knew, or even a participant in the group conversation at the bar, his question might not have seemed as creepy. He didn’t “ask her out out a week later” as you did in your example with your friend, he asked for an immediate intimate setting (even if he really did just want coffee). Rebecca had stated he was tired; by bringing it up, the implication is that he was close enough to hear and she assumed that he did. Why? We don’t know; when she mentioned this in the video, it was a minor point, not something she wanted or expected to turn into the circus it has.

          You specifically mentioned you have asked women out in casual situations (and sometimes spontaneous). Rebecca was not in a casual situation. As he had been sitting near her friends and expressly followed her into the elevator it also doesn’t seem spontaneous.

          You seem like a decent fellow, so I don’t quite understand why you’re not seeing her issue with a stranger coming on to her alone at 4 am when she’s dead tired. She didn’t scream assault, she just said this was a bad idea and that guys shouldn’t do it. Her experience, her parameters.

          You said that some of the women you’ve asked to join you for a drink were startled or even gave you a harsher rejection than you expected. Was there anything about these situations that were different from more successful times? Or even times when your request was more politely turned down? I’m just wondering. Everyone is different, of course, so there’s obviously no cookie-cutter easy answer to that question, but perhaps something to think about.

          Do you honestly see no difference between asking a woman out for a drink (or a “drink”) when you’ve been talking to her in a social situation that suggests that she might be responsive or at least not offended – and stalking a woman at 4am to proposition a stranger?

          Then again, I never understood all the holiday party “hookups” that happened at an old job. There were a lot of people messing around with other people’s spouses (and not all of them in “open” relationships). Not something I would do.

    • So… What gives you the right to tell her she doesn’t have the right to say what she thinks or feels?

      I keep seeing this same sort of statement on various Youtube comments. Men angry that RW stated her feelings. She isn’t allowed to say she was uncomfortable because it seems to make some men uncomfortable. Men angry that RW gave basically what amounted to dating advice. She isn’t allowed to give any advice, but they can sure give her some. She should put up with advances because the guy has to “take a shot”. What about HIS feelings? She is wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong and must be silent! Her few comments so irk many men that they spend 15 minutes of a ranting video. Several men have clearly not even watched her video and just jumping on the chance to dump on a woman. It’s frankly ludicrous.

  35. So… for those of you who will now no longer read any Dawkins because he holds one position on one subject that you disagree with, may I ask:

    Will you also never read the Jungle Books again? After all, Kipling was an imperialist.

    Will you never listen to Wagner? That guy was a Nazi.

    Will you never read any Plato? That perv was okay with pederasty.

    Will you never endorse the Declaration of Independence? Jefferson was a slaver.

    I can keep this up all day.

  36. Hmm. This whole controversy strikes me as somewhat of a storm in a teacup…

    I don’t think the guy did anything morally or ethically wrong by asking Rebecca out for coffee (or “coffee”). One might fault his tact, cluefulness, etc, but provided he stopped the instant she made it clear she was unreceptive and uncomfortable, I’m having trouble concluding his behavior was wrong per se, particularly since I’ve been asked to women’s (and men’s) hotel rooms a few times in the past, and once or twice accepted.

    I don’t think Rebecca did anything morally or ethically wrong by clearly communicating to him that his actions made her feel uncomfortable, that he was giving off creepy vibes, and that others in her position might find themselves turned off to the skeptical movement. She didn’t publicly embarrass or identify the guy, which is greatly to her credit.

    One of the vibes I’ve felt coming out of this controversy is a suggestion that “all true feminists” must agree that the guy’s behavior was unconscionable, Rebecca Watson’s reaction completely justified and proportionate, and Dawkin’s posts wholly bigoted and clueless; that men who disagree with any of these positions are sexist, and women, naive. The instinct to circle the wagons is completely understandable, but I think ultimately very unhealthy for both the skeptic and feminist movements. There is a lot of room here for reasonable people to reasonably disagree.

  37. Still no response from Dawkins? Guess they don’t have internet access in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

    By the way, people like us should have no problem separating Dawkins’ (or anyone’s) various opinions into categories that we agree with and disagree with.

    ‘Worshipping’ and ‘demonizing’ are two sides of the same coin. Wouldn’t you agree?

  38. Hi Rebecca,

    I can’t believe what a ruckus this story has caused. But at the same time, I can’t help but be a little curious. As a tall male, I can’t relate to some of the things that make women uncomfortable. I’d appreciate it if you could be a little more specific about what he did that was creepy. Was it the enclosed location? Was it the time of day? Was it the implication of “coffee” in his room?

    In other words, if he had asked the same thing but at 6pm, would it have been ok? If he had asked before you got on the elevator would it have been ok? If he had asked you to join him in a public location would it have been ok?

    I think some of the uproar is because there are men like me who can see why you would decline, but not why it was worth mentioning in relation to a conversation about misogyny. I’m a strong believer in equality of the genders, so there is obviously something I’m not getting. How was his extremely polite request for more intimacy (whether intellectual or sexual) considered misogynistic?

    If you have answered this question already, I apologize. I’ll be skimming through the comments over the next few days, I’m sure.

    • I think it’s because you’re tall, as well as a guy. I kind of get it because I’m pretty small, so even though I’m a guy, I feel generally more ill-at-ease around guys bigger than me (which is almost all of them), especially in relatively close quarters and/or alone.

      I also get hit on by guys… well, I wouldn’t say a _lot_, but way more than I get hit on by chicks (which is rare), and being a straight male who tries not to be homophobic, I take it as the compliment it’s meant to be, and don’t automatically assume gay guys think I’m so irresistible that they’re going to ravish me or something. That being said, I’ve had a guy (a total stranger who I’d only met a moment before at the party) squeeze my thigh and tell me to sit right beside him, and basically spend the next hour or so hitting on me, and I honestly didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Reacting with anger or pushing his hand off seemed a bit rude and like some kind of homophobic over-reaction, and I didn’t want to seem unfriendly so I kept talking to him (I didn’t know anyone else at the party except my female friend who’d dragged me impromptu to it) and so this guy didn’t find out I was straight until I started talking about my ex-girlfriend, when he blurted out in a shocked voice ‘You mean you’re not gay?!’ and after that, he wasn’t anywhere close to friendly to me. He didn’t even add me on Facebook, even though earlier he kept impressing upon me how his name was similar to a well-known American medical school and was insistent that I send him a friend request. Well, now I know how it feels to have someone interested in me for only my looks and nothing more, and had no interest in me if I wasn’t going to date them. And then I realized this was my punishment for all the times I stopped being friends with girls that I liked because they only saw me as a ‘friend’. ;P

      I also had some middle-aged guy chat me up in an isolated section of a department store menswear (in the hat/scarf/glove section). He wasn’t explicit or anything, but the fact that he started talking to me after everyone else had gone away kind of creeped me out, to be honest. And just to be clear, I’m not paranoid that every gay man out there is some potential rapist, it was merely that I thought it curious that the man would only start talking to me when no one else was around, and he basically seemed to be talking kind of repetitiously and making small talk, not just some guy being friendly.

      But I’m glad, even if it’s really annoying, that I apparently set off people’s gaydar (which is a ludicrous idea I think: there’s no such thing as gaydar, or mine is broken because I swear I thought Neil Tennant _and_ Neil Patrick Harris were straight… and George Michael too ;P) and thus get hit on by guys , because it’s kind of interesting, being a straight guy, being sexually objectified by another guy, to really give one a sense of what it’s like to be a woman in this largely heterosexist and male chauvinist society. I can’t claim to totally be ‘just one of the girls’ (although I do like the Sound of Music and shopping for clothes), but my experiences have somewhat tempered my natural predilection to look at attractive women around me in a decidedly sexual light. While I realize I am bio-evolutionarily geared towards viewing the opposite sex in exactly that light, I also realize that I’m an evolved human being capable of at least controlling my baser animal instincts enough to ensure that the women around me aren’t totally freaked out by my very presence, let alone my actions. I’m just glad women can’t read my mind, because mine’s in the gutter. ;P

      • I totally understand that somebody making unwanted sexual advances can be annoying and even frightening.

        What I don’t understand is why this story was told in conjunction with a discussion about misogyny. He didn’t say anything vulgar or demeaning. Are all inappropriate advances considered misogynistic?

        Rebecca gave a talk describing people who write her horrible emails and degrade her opinion because of her gender. That’s misogyny. How is the elevator story an example of somebody “not getting it”? The two issues seem completely unrelated to me.

        I totally support any and all efforts to bring about equality between genders and mutual respect. I don’t want to be one of the guys who doesn’t “get it”.

        • Because her talk included the extremes of guys she doesn’t know hitting on her. And a guy she doesn’t know… hit on her in the elevator at 4 AM. I dunno, seems to follow the topic to me.

      • “I honestly didn’t know what I was supposed to do.” This rings so true. You didn’t want to be rude or seem homophobic, and in similar situations I don’t want to seem rude or bitchy or hysterically over-reacting or man-hating…

        When someone ignores our polite non-verbal clues (moving away, disengaging hands) and indirect verbal clues (changing the subject, inventing a partner), we’re pushed to state things baldly and then they get offended. But if you cut them off right at the beginning you offend them too.

        That’s why ‘yes means yes’ and ‘enthusiastic consent’ are so important. That guy shouldn’t have touched your knee until he saw whether you were flirting back. If someone doesn’t respond to a delicate overture, the pursuer should go back to interacting just as friends. That way it’s much easier to identify real creeps.

        It’s particularly difficult on the subway with new immigrants who are excited to meet American women of loose morality (ie all women.) Direct speech doesn’t make it through the language barrier and boy do they love to touch. I feel guilty being ‘mean’ to them even though I know I shouldn’t.

        I once had a lovely conversation with a guy but wasn’t sure I wanted to meet for coffee, and he scoffs “I’m not going to rape you.” Uh, I wasn’t thinking that, but now I know you’re a creep. Guilting someone into a date is pretty low.

  39. “(5) Fear of being alone in an elevator with a black person is racism. Fear of being alone in an elevator with a gay person is homophobia. Fear of being alone in an elevator with a Border Collie means you should really learn to like dogs more. HOWEVER, fear of being alone in an elevator with a male is normal, healthy, and savvy, and not sexism at all.”

    Hmm. Unlike the rest of the hyperbolic strawman bullshit, it’s hard to come up with a counterargument to that one. Statistically the risk of crime in general is increased if the person in the elevator with you is a man, but also if the person in the elevator with you is poor or African-American. I doubt there’s any correlation between homosexuality and perpetrating crime, though. The only escape from the equivalence of gender/racial/wealth profiling is a sort of robin-hoodism where it’s okay to do it to a traditionally advantaged group but not okay to do the same thing to a traditionally disadvantaged group. I understand why some people would consider that misandry, but I’m not bothered about it. Besides people can’t help feeling whatever they feel.

    • To use your analogy, it is not being afraid of being in the elevator with a poor person – it’s being uncomfortable being in an elevator with a poor person who decides to ask if they can have some money.

      • That’s a good point–it’s not like Rebecca was creeped out until Elevator Guy opened his mouth. But one of the things I was trying to do in my post (a.k.a. my “hyperbolic strawman bullshit”) was to mock the more outlandish posts out there, particularly the ones I took personal offense to. And there have been multiple comments describing how merely being alone with a man in an elevator is a “rape scenario”, or about how we all must understand that women live in constant fear of rape, etc. I’m sorry, but if you can’t simply ride an elevator with a male without worrying about rape, then you are exhibiting sexism.

        • It’s not simply about riding in an elevator with a guy: it’s about the time and place, the circumstances, what kind of guy was involved, what he was doing or saying, etc. It’s all about the context, as was the interpretation of the invitation for ‘coffee’ (in his hotel room, natch, as opposed to say, somewhere of neutral and friendly territory like in the hotel lobby/bar). It’s totally disingenuous to argue that Elevator Guy’s line referred to anything other than intimacy of some kind: he chose a moment when she was alone and no one else was around, early in the morning, asking her if she wanted to go somewhere even _more_ isolated and private… for a philosophical discussion on male privilege? Probably not. Possible, but very improbable. As the late, great Douglas Adams (and a friend of Mr. Dawkins no less) once said: “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.”

          An invitation to a drunk and dirty horizontal mambo? Far more likely.

          Let’s just say if I had been stuck in the lift with you, and it was 4am in the morning, and I was in a foreign country’s hotel, and you were drunk, and you invited me back to your room for ‘coffee’, I’d definitely be more than a little uncomfortable, because: 1) I’m alone with you, 2) you’re probably bigger than me, 3) you’re drunk, 4) I’m not interested, 5) I have this gut feeling in my stomach that you want _more_ than just ‘coffee’. Also I’m tired and tired of getting hit on by guys, especially at conventions where I’m there as a speaker, not a late night booty call.

          And I believe you may be lying to yourself if you say you wouldn’t feel the same discomfort with our positions reversed.

          Now tack onto that things like rape statistics for women, etc. etc. etc. and you have all the makings of a bad situation. If anything, I feel like Ms. Watson almost _under_reacted to the situation and would be entitled to be more pissed than she actually originally was. I’m sure she’s really pissed now, because clueless people continue to ‘not get it’, despite their seeming intelligence and ability to walk upright without their knuckles dragging. ;P

          All I know is if it had been my sister in Ms. Watson’s shoes, I would have advised her to get out of there pronto.

          I might add that we’d all wish the Western ‘secular’ world were so enlightened that women could wander about freely at all hours of the night naked without a worry in the world, but not even a month ago my sister’s friend (a lady of diminutive stature who does not dress in the manner of a lady of the night, nor promiscuous, just so we can get those horribly irrelevant questions out of the way) was grabbed by a total drunk strange man just minutes from her home. Last week, my sister and her other friend went to a club which had bouncers, plenty of staff (male and female), and I was even there to chaperone, and my sister’s friend got grabbed on the dance floor and forcibly made to dance with some guy, and she didn’t know what to do, she was so shocked. We all discussed it later and she said she hadn’t been to a mainstream club in so long that she’d forgotten how guys could be (and I’d even remarked to her earlier that evening about how the place seemed to be a meat market, which wasn’t what I was expecting since the DJ that night was known primarily as an alternative/’80s/retro/goth DJ who ran pretty friendly nights) when they were drunk, and she was so in shock she didn’t know how to react.

          Anecdotal this ‘evidence’ may be, but ask around your female friends, I’m sure they’ll all recount similar tales of similar incidents: perhaps so many that they can’t even recall all of them, it’s become second nature to worry about that sort of thing and preemptively avoid such situations in the first place. Imagine if guys had to deal with that sort of thing from other guys all the time, we’d probably be a little paranoid too. Especially alone with a drunk in an elevator late at night.

    • “Hmm. Unlike the rest of the hyperbolic strawman bullshit, it’s hard to come up with a counterargument to that one.”

      Not really. The silly examples given don’t provide sufficient context.

      Is the Border Collie growling? Then it’s reasonable to be concerned.

      Is the black person male, and is he hitting on you, and are you alone? Then it’s reasonable to be concerned (note this has nothing to do with his skin color).

      Is the gay person holding a weapon? Then it’s reasonable to be concerned (again, this has nothing to do with his sexual orientation).

      Is the (fill in the blank) person behaving in a manner that violates normal boundaries (e.g. asking for money from a stranger)? Then it’s reasonable to be concerned.

      If a man gets on an elevator with a woman, and there is no one else on the elevator (and particularly if it’s late at night), she will probably have a heightened awareness of his presence and alertness to her surroundings. But she probably won’t have any active concern unless he approaches her with an inappropriate request.

      It’s really not that hard.

      I think some men just get stuck on the idea that hitting on women that you don’t know, and doing so in certain contexts, violates normal boundaries.

  40. Let me just say, I’m sure I’m not the only marsupial offended by the picture Mrs Watson

    otters are nothing but latter evolving mammalian vermin that destroy the environment… they also stole mah land !

    I thought better of you and now I’m truly shocked to find out you harbor anti-marsupial bigotry

    I really think you need to show some marsupialist sensitivity Ms Watson before hundreds of echidna’s, platypus and wallabies descend on your blog and blow this way out of proportion.

    oh and by the way, wombats are much sexier than otters ;-)

  41. It appears that there are many people who just do not accept that this is a problem for so many of us. I’d like to suggest a way of highlighting this. We design a logo, perhaps a heart-shape, which can be printed out from an internet site. All those who have been subjected to unwanted sexual attention in a situation which has made them uncomfortable agree to wear that symbol (perhaps on a sleeve) on a specified date later this year.

    Do you think this might work to raise awareness of the scale of the issue?

  42. @alumiere:

    “http://www.oneinfourusa.org/statistics.php is a start on your request for stats including some from the US CDC. As for acquaintance vs. stranger, EG would be considered an acquaintance for most purposes – at the same conference, in the same conversation, at the same bar. True stranger rape = random person you’ve never seen or spoken with before corners you or breaks into your home etc.”

    http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9502/sommers.html

    I’m also curious why your link includes an indication of how many female rape victims don’t report it but not one for how many male rape victims don’t report it.

    I mean it’s not like it doesn’t happen…

    http://www.teencvs.org/guysQA.htm
    “A: 1 out of 6 boys experience some type of sexual violence before the age of 18. ”

    http://www.mscasa.org/male-sexual-assault.php

    • As I said, that was a starting point; I pulled that link in particular because it includes data from the CDC, which is a generally accepted source. Nowhere did I say that men aren’t also raped, nor would I dismiss any man’s request for the same respect women have been asking for in this discussion.

      I worked at a rape crisis hotline in college, I know men are also assaulted. But the original argument was that women couldn’t site sources for the stats on women, and that was exactly what I provided. I know there are hundreds of other studies and stats out there, and said here is one site. See the difference?

  43. -Woman gets hit on in an elevator
    -Spends about 30 seconds talking about it and telling guys not to be creepy
    -COMMENCE MASSIVE FREAKOUT BY EVERY MAN IN A 300 MILE RADIUS
    -Dawkins jumps and and bitches about #firstworldproblems as if they’re meaningless
    -Then everyone blames the woman for speaking up in the first place.
    I dunno, sounds really similar to the type of dialogue that happens every time a woman gets raped. Guy starts it, everyone blames the woman and men can go back to sleep with their hyper-sensitive egos intact.

    • That’s pretty much how I see this entire thing, and I’m a guy. Most of the guys who are overreacting are acting like what Ms. Watson said was a personal affront, an attack on all men and on them personally, when really, any _real_ man who is secure in his manhood 1) wouldn’t do what Elevator Guy did, and 2) wouldn’t immediately take umbrage at a woman’s mere polite general request to guys to not act in a creepy manner a la Elevator Guy or assume that that message was meant for them personally.

      She wasn’t accusing anyone, she wasn’t labeling anyone as being evil or a rapist or anything, and she wasn’t passing judgement on anyone, it was just a polite request as a way of proactively and constructively asserting her personal boundaries of comfort, and any decent person, male, female or otherwise, would simply nod and go “that’s cool, I understand and I’ll try my best not to act like a creep” and if what Elevator Guy did was something some of us might have briefly entertained doing (especially if we had some liquid courage and stupidity poured into us earlier), well we’ve been politely but firmly disabused of that idea and have by now struck it from our list of ‘good ways to hit on chicks’ and moved it to the ‘behaviours that creeps out women’ list.

      All this anger and defensiveness strikes me as men protesting too much. If the behaviour described as unwanted is not something you would engage in, there’s no need to feel the message was speaking to you directly, and thus no reason to feel defensive or angry. And if it is, or was, or might have been, well now you know better. Maybe it’s cognitive dissonance, from people who thought themselves above sexism to suddenly realize there was a bit of sexism left in them after all, and they just didn’t want to believe that, so they’d rather attack the messenger than deal with their personal issues.

      I personally admit wholeheartedly that I’m sexist (and racist, homophobic, ageist, ableist, etc. etc.) largely because it permeates the fabric of our society that I could not help picking it up, unconsciously, subconsciously from growing up in my particular position in this society. It’s also why I’m against all those things, because I see it and recognize it so well within myself, and I don’t pretend or claim that I’m above any of those things, I can only promise myself that I’ll try and chip away at it every day. I don’t want to be that kind of person, because I can imagine how I would feel if I were a woman and someone treated me in a sexist manner, whether they meant to or not. I can equate it somewhat to the thankfully limited amount of racism I’ve experienced in my own adoptive country, so while I’m not female, or gay, or disabled, or what-have-you, I know a little of what it’s like to be made to feel unwelcome, made to feel uncomfortable, made to feel small for no other reason than for what I was born as, and I wouldn’t ever want to be that guy who makes someone else feel that way about themselves.

      • “Maybe it’s cognitive dissonance, from people who thought themselves above sexism to suddenly realize there was a bit of sexism left in them after all, and they just didn’t want to believe that, so they’d rather attack the messenger than deal with their personal issues.”

        I think this is the crux of the uproar. Rebecca even wrote about in another post about why she became a feminist. Dawkins seems to believe that sexism is a construct or by-product of religion, but Rebecca and pretty much every other atheist/skeptic woman have found that to be false by our own experiences.

      • As one of the males being defensive, I would like to point out that what set me off wasn’t Rebecca’s response to the Elevator Guy–she politely turned him down, and then later used him as an example while discussing behaviors that drive women away from the movement. I have no problems there. Go Rebecca!

        Instead, it was some of the very scary comments being posted that set me off and got me all defensive. I really don’t like being called misogynistic or a rape apologist because I disagree with someone’s interpretation of a situation, or because I don’t share someone’s exact definition of feminism. It hurts my feelings and makes me want to jump on the forum and defend myself. And it makes me snarkier than I otherwise would be.

        So, yeah, it may be a stretch of the imagination to see Rebecca’s comments as an attack on men, but there are PLENTY of posts by others here where no imagination-stretching is needed.

        • Point taken. I think some of your (understandable) frustration in this case was therefore unclear and many thought that it was directed at the central issue and Rebecca. I’ve gotten a little frustrated over the histrionics on both sides, too.

    • Absolutely.

      What makes this worse is that I don’t think Dawkins was simply reacting to her brief comment “Guys, don’t do that”. He sat next to her during her talk on the panel. His blowup doesn’t seem – to me – to be about the elevator incident as the elevator incident was the straw that broke him and he lashed out because he was stewing throughout her talk.

      I don’t know this of course, but it really seems that way.

  44. (Apologies for repeating my point here three times, but I’m still hoping a few more people will comprehend it.)

    “But probably not because your subsequent reaction makes me believe that the guy you were dealing with didn’t read you very well to begin with…”

    This is an excellent segue to what I wanted to point out, because I feel much differently about conference propositions from new acquaintances vs. “cold” propositions from strangers at conferences. Please try to read my interest level before “you” hit on me; it shows an interest in my feelings that is vitally important to me.

    I’m going to try to share my personal thoughts and reactions, so I am going to use the pronouns “me” and “you” to label the generic woman and generic man in an elevator, rather than saying “he” and “she” and broad brushing all women.

    For me the context of whether we’ve been talking and flirting prior to the pick up attempt makes a big difference. My reaction to an out-of-the-blue come on (as an inexperienced dater who finds this stuff awkward) is the silent but vehement thought “What the hell did I do to make you think I had any interest in you at all”. (Now, I know that sounds maybe harsh and repellent, but it is what I’m thinking. I figure some direct honesty will help readers here imagine standing in my shoes.) Since the culture often blames me and my clothes for your interest, it’s not really surprising that I feel wrong footed when you are interested in having it off with me and I’m not.)

    I am actually a tiny bit creeped out that “you” would hit on me without making any effort to assess my level of interest in you first by talking to me and seeing how enthusiastically I chat back or whether I edge away. Standing in this elevator with you Mr. Stranger, all the information that I have is that you want(ed) to have sex with me irregardless of the fact that I’m not interested in sex at all tonight. At this point I’m going to use the word “disturbing”, which seems less judgmental than “creepy”. All I know about you now is that you are in Dublin (for the conference)and you want something from me that I don’t want to give you.

    (Digression: I’m suddenly wondering if there is a gender difference about standing face to face or side by side facing the elevator door when discussing the possibility of sex or “coffee”. From my point of view, if we aren’t well enough acquainted to face each other and speak, we aren’t well acquainted enough for sexual preliminaries. But, I suppose, rejection might be less “in your face” and more impersonal if we are standing facing the elevator door? I’d like to hear what some of the shyer men think about this. Would you perhaps take rejection less personally if we were standing arrayed as strangers facing forwards?) (If what I said here is completely incomprehensible, google “leaning on a truck” and “Dodd” and then re-read this paragraph, please.)

  45. I learned about Rebecca from “The Amazing Atheist” channel. Though, I have agreed with many of TJ’s ideas over the years, I have become increasingly disappointed in his childish tirades. His most recent jealous rant was about the author of this article. With some regret, I unfollowed him on all of his sites. Hopefully some day he’ll come to terms with whatever issue he’s struggling with and I can follow him again (I really was entertained by some of his skits and “Ask Skeletor” was one of my favorites).

    I also learned something new about Richard Dawkins. *sigh* On the one hand I’m kind of ashamed of him representing Atheists/Agnostics, and on the other, I think it’s best each of us represent ourselves. In some ways, we have the ability to become like an organized religion, but, in many ways, we are not, nor will we ever be like any organized religion out there.

    Thanks, Rebecca, for exposing some deeper issues we need to be resolving at this time.

    • ellemrcs Your reaction to The Amazing Atheist’s video gives me hope for MANkind! Thanks. That video had so many men coming to the original RW video and leaving lewd comments. It was extremely depressing to hear the misrepresentation he did of RW’s video and his whipping up his fan boys. I don’t usually watch him, but have been intrigued by the various videos that cropped up. I’m sure someone could have a Masters thesis in Humanities based upon this episode.

  46. There’s a side to this situation that I’ve not seen mentioned.
    So I will.
    As someone that has been involved in martial arts and self defence training for many years I view it from that angle.
    The standard foundation of self defence training (for men and women) is awareness.
    Awareness of yourself (adrenalin, fear etc), awareness of your attacker (attack rituals, body language etc) AND awareness of your environment.
    From that very sensible advice follows that you should use that awareness so as to not put yourself in dangerous situations.
    Like being in an lift at 4am alone with a man for example.
    So what elevator guy did wrong was to bypass that good advice and put rebecca in a situation that common sense and good awareness would tell anyone to avoid.
    And that’s something men should be aware off.
    If you are behind a woman at nght walking down the street, cross the road. If a lift opens and a lone woman is in it think about waiting for the next one. Or get on quietly and avoid interacting with her because she will automatically have upped her percieved threat level.
    And if it makes you angry that we normal men have to think this way…don’t blame rebecca or other women…blame the men that attack women.

    • Example: A couple years ago I was walking back to my grandmothers house when I reached an intersection just in time to miss the light. I decided to just walk down the block and cross when traffic permitted, but that meant I was walking in parallel with a woman on the other side of the street. The traffic broke and I crossed, right at her, without even thinking about it. She quickly turned on me and wanted to know why I was crossing right then/ there. She even asked if I’d “moved recently and forgot which side of the street I lived on?”

      I’d clearly frightened her and I really felt like shit, even though I didn’t really do anything wrong, just not thought about it beforehand.

      The simple solution was I went on ahead of her.

    • “If you are behind a woman at nght walking down the street, cross the road. If a lift opens and a lone woman is in it think about waiting for the next one. Or get on quietly and avoid interacting with her because she will automatically have upped her percieved threat level.
      And if it makes you angry that we normal men have to think this way…don’t blame rebecca or other women…blame the men that attack women.”

      Wow, really, just wow. If I’m in any of those situations, I keep to myself and do not bother any women around me. Is she more afraid because I’m around? Possibly, and for that I’m sorry but I’m not going to cross the street or take the next elevator. How are you promoting gender equality when you make suggestions like that?

      Imagine if your post was about a race instead of men. You’d be lambasted and rightfully so but really, your post is the kind of thing racists say about minorities.

      I’m sorry, but the many strong women I know would never expect a man to act as you’re suggesting.

      This whole situation is showing some very ugly thinking from both sides of the argument.

      • The thing is, men and women are NOT treated as equals in this current society. Men have privilege over women and sexism occurs consistently from as small of a thing as ignoring her wishes to not be hit on at atheist conferences all the way up to and including sexual assault and rape. When rape and sexual assault are eradicated or becomes exceedingly rare and ALL men treat ALL women like full human beings which means they take our feelings, comfort and personal agency into consideration in every interaction, then we’ll be equals. Until then, women have to be wary of strange men and even men we’re otherwise comfortable with. All we’re asking is for a little consideration and empathy on your part. If you’re really one of the “good guys” who does listen to women and doesn’t objectify them, then you really have nothing to lose by ensuring the women who interact with you or are even temporarily in your presence that you will not hurt them. Which means, keeping your distance from strange women. For us it means we don’t have to worry about being assaulted for a minute or two.

        • “Men have privilege over women and sexism occurs consistently from as small of a thing as ignoring her wishes to not be hit on at atheist conferences all the way up to and including sexual assault and rape.”

          So what you are implying here is that privilege is unique to men. Hold that thought a minute.

          When I was working at a previous part time job there were strict guidelines regarding hours due to the company not wanting to have to give insurance opportunity to hourly workers. No hourly employees were allowed more than 25 hours per week, except 2. Both were pregnant women and both worked an average of 35 hours per week because ‘they needed the money’. That of course is in addition to the usual special considerations of having other employees doing the physically strenuous portions of the job (some of which have doctors orders to not be doing that at all).

          One of the girls I will focus on, as not only did she receive these considerations in the work place also received extensive support outside the work place. To the tune of getting to live in a private apartment in a gated community for a fraction of her wages (I couldn’t have afforded such a thing using ALL of my wages due to not having special considerations just to give some perspective). Her utilities were guaranteed and were not shut off even after 5 months of not paying the bill (at all).

          “and ALL men treat ALL women like full human beings which means they take our feelings, comfort and personal agency into consideration in every interaction, then we’ll be equals.”

          While we’re dreaming I for one would like a pony. ALL of anyone will never (as in not for hundreds of years being extremely optimistic) treat ALL of anyone else like full human beings.

          “then you really have nothing to lose by ensuring the women who interact with you or are even temporarily in your presence that you will not hurt them.”

          Save for minutes every day into hours every week into days every month into months every year into years out of our life times walking on eggshells of special consideration.

          To quote myself from the last thread.

          “Is it reasonable to take measures such as has been suggested by people on PZ Myers’ blog (if not here) that men shouldn’t get into elevators with lone women? Or that they should walk on the other side of the road when they find themselves traveling in the same direction as a lone woman?

          How can we prove that the end of one fear won’t just lead to the rise of another fear? (after all it’s not like a stalker has to follow you on the same side of the road) What happens when we start questioning if men should drive down a street a lone woman is walking down?

          How do we rationalize these expectations as not being sexist? Further at what point do such expectations start being self-defeating? That is to say at what point do the expectations breed more contempt for women than they do consideration? At what point would you only be making actual threats harder to identify thus emboldening threatening individuals?

          Ultimately you’re also looking at how to reconcile the idea that no feeling is more correct than another with what that would actually entail. How does one correct an individual who feels obliged to commit unwanted sexual acts or a theist who feels that their beliefs, no matter how absurd, are correct as an unalienable right? To do so would establish that there are correct and incorrect feelings in the end would it not?

          Disclaimer: This is a thought exercise, save your flames people.”

  47. I’m a white, middle-aged man. I understand totally what Rebecca was saying and agree with not only what she said but the way she said it.
    Dawkins… mmm, I think it’s a case of separating the writer from the works, but if what he’s said sours people to him beyond the point they can do that, that’s understandable.

    For those guys who are angry that they feel they are being thought of as rapists first, human beings second… Yeah, it’s unpleasant, but seriously, your momentary discomfort is nothing compared to a woman having to deal with potential situations like Rebeccas 24/7.

    As for the sex drive thing, and maybe leaving your hormones behind?

    Guys, there’s this thing called masturbation. Have a wank. Knock one out. Bash the Bishop even, if you are a more militant atheist :)

    Lock the door, have a little “me” time, clean up, then enjoy the company of like minded people of all types refreshed, relaxed and sharper of mind.

  48. There seems to be a number of things going on here:

    1. Rebecca expressed a desire to not be propositioned in situations where any somewhat aware person would feel an increased sense of danger (late, alone, enclosed). She is perfectly within her rights.

    2. Was the guy “objectifying” Rebecca?

    This is a little harder to say. The fact that he was inviting her to a hotel room at 4 AM is somewhat incriminating. Would it have been different if he had asked her to meet him for lunch the next day? Is this just a matter of someone who lacked social awareness of the implications of his request or someone who was leaving early the next day and actually wanted to talk? Even in the case of an innocent misunderstanding, it is probably helpful to tell the guy how his approach may be perceived.

    3. On a broader topic, is valuing someone as an individual mutually exclusive with being attracted to someone sexually? Are the two necessarily even related?

    I would like to distance this portion of my comment from Rebecca’s experience, since that man’s choice of time and locale is unusually “creepifying” (to use a Firefly term).

    Is it necessarily a bad thing for a man to make a play for a woman who he finds attractive? Normally, one would expect more subtlety. But if you are on a time limit, you can’t work up to a first date.

    Back to the elevator experience, would this have been as bad if the conversation had occurred at the bar with others around? Is there also a problem of context? Rebecca had just spent the day pointing out how sex plays a role in how someone is viewed in the skeptical community. Does that then make sexual attraction an insult, or just the behavior of attempting a “pick-up” inappropriate?

    I am married, so I don’t have to navigate these mine fields anymore. However, I find this interesting. Sexual attraction does not seem demeaning in and of itself. One can value another person’s intelligence and contributions while still finding them sexy. In fact, that often amplifies the attraction.

    Does the fact that the skeptical community (along with society in general) suffers from a sexism issue effect the appropriateness of approaching someone you find attractive (again, in an appropriate place and time)?

    I have to admit that I only was able to get married because my (now) wife pretty much cornered me. I never felt comfortable seriously approaching women for many of these same questions.

    I’m sure I wrote something offensive to someone. Please take this in the academic manner in which it is intended.

    • “Is it necessarily a bad thing for a man to make a play for a woman who he finds attractive? Normally, one would expect more subtlety. But if you are on a time limit, you can’t work up to a first date.”

      The problem is from our standpoint it’s just us making a proposition, being turned down, and oh well I tried. But Rebecca and others have made it clear that it’s the next guy and the next guy and the next guy and and and…

      It reminds me of trying to talk to friends on the Arcata Plaza only to have a line of panhandlers constantly interupting.

      Well gee she’s turned dowsn the last 10 guys, but what the hell I’ll give it a shot.

      EG then then compounded the situation by, as has been pointed out, following her to an elevator, where she’s potentially traped, and cold propositioning her after spending a great deal of time listening to her talk about how annoying that is.

      • “The problem is from our standpoint it’s just us making a proposition, being turned down, and oh well I tried. But Rebecca and others have made it clear that it’s the next guy and the next guy and the next guy and and and…”

        The problem with that is that you are deciding not to try based on the possible (probable) actions of others. Your odds of being accepted may not be great if you make the proposition, but you have no chance if you never try. It all becomes game theory.

        Since we are limiting ourselves to a situation where a long-term relationship does not have time to develop, the proper thing to do is probably to just go home and take matter into your own hands (nudge).

        Then, you can follow her home and rely on going through her trash and long-range photography. Oh wait, back into the creepy (probably criminal) zone again.

    • “2. Was the guy “objectifying” Rebecca?

      This is a little harder to say. The fact that he was inviting her to a hotel room at 4 AM is somewhat incriminating. Would it have been different if he had asked her to meet him for lunch the next day? Is this just a matter of someone who lacked social awareness of the implications of his request or someone who was leaving early the next day and actually wanted to talk? Even in the case of an innocent misunderstanding, it is probably helpful to tell the guy how his approach may be perceived.”

      The answer is yes. He did objectify her. He disregarded her stated wishes, didn’t ever speak to her before propositioning her and waited until she was alone in an enclosed space which is predatory.

      If he really just wanted to talk to her, he could have given her his email address or better yet, fucking talked to her earlier when they were all in a group.

      If he just wanted sex but had to leave early the next day, he still disregarded her previously stated desires *hoping* she’d change her mind. That’s male privilege and I’m glad it was called out.

  49. Can we make some “NOT OPEN TO SEXUAL ADVANCES” buttons or something?

    These threads are so frightening and depressing, as they really give an insight into how dangerously clueless so many men are, even the educated ones. Thank you to all the dudes who chime in to say they get it.

    The rest of you literally make me afraid to leave my house. I wish this wasn’t the world I have to live in.

    Rebecca, don’t ever stop talking about these kinds of issues. If we can enlighten even a few of the guys who just don’t get it, we’ve accomplished something here.

    • “Can we make some “NOT OPEN TO SEXUAL ADVANCES” buttons or something?”

      We could just use these:

      Dishwasher Magnet

      Or these:

      Craps On-Off Button

      More seriously, it’s a poor idea to have only ‘NO’ buttons and the default be ‘yes’ … what if someone’s NO button falls off or gets stolen? (Speaking as someone who’s dealt with manymany lost or replacement badges at conventions.) Conversely, if we had ‘Please flirt with me’ buttons, I’d be worried about having then stuck ONTO people who didn’t want them. I’m happy about having a visible toggle that everyone can wear, switch as it suits them, and which the adventurous could modify thusly:

      Twister Spinner

      *cough*

      • You’re completely right. It would have to be something more like “Please consider appropriateness of situation and signals before making advances on me or any women”

        But that doesn’t have a great ring to it.

        Or: “Don’t be creepy”

          • How about “Don’t Be Creepy” wristbands? They’re cheap, traditionally associated with consciousness-raising, difficult to slip on or off by mistake, and could be written on with Sharpie to keep track of inappropriate gestures (very publicly, if necessary.)

          • Also, badge stickers a’ la Mensa have also been mentioned. (I just dislike the stickers being permanent. Sometimes people want context-specific flirting.)

            Whatever idea ends up happening, if any, it should go into every conventiongoer’s swag packet by default. That increases the likelihood that people wear them, whereas if only a few show the bracelet, they’re more likely to get harassed for being outspoken about it (or for being presumed to be outspoken, natch.) People can always not wear theirs, or give them away.

  50. I made the mistake of going over to read one of the “anti” sites filled with so called Men’s Rights Activists. At this point I want to wash out my brain with soap. The misogyny over there is so strong it makes entering a convent (for life!) or breaking my computer in half look more attractive than continuing to read their posts and trying to live with the knowledge that they live on the same planet and post on the same internet I do.

    And after reading 15 horrible posts in a row there written by men, some primitive part of my brain that may not be well designed to work with large numbers starts telling me “men are disgusting” or “men should be avoided”. On reflection, I know this kind of generalization is totally not fair, but they made the option of never speaking to another man in my life sound kind of appealing. I would never post anything on that website, much less post something open-minded in which I thought of my argument partners as people who could be reasoned with.

    People are not apples, but a few bad apples in the barrel turn the stomach. Stomach can’t count, can’t sort apple varieties, and is not logical.

  51. “I think your initial statement “Guys, don’t do that” is categorically judgmental…”

    I think we can fruitfully discuss this.

    Sure, if we could rewind time and rewrite the record, Rebecca could potentially have made an “I” statement, and not used an imperative. I’m guessing that you might prefer that.

    We could rewrite her words and have her say “I wish guys wouldn’t do that at conferences” instead of “guys, don’t do that.”

    However, I believe, that the “wish” version of that statement would have been completely forgotten by the audience in the next few minutes. I believe phrasing it that gently makes it very ignorable. And it is especially ignorable by the kind of men who have been posting things that seem to say “Why should I consider women’s wishes? They confuse me and get in the way of me getting laid expeditiously.”

  52. This has been eye opening, seeing how many men think women have no right to complain. Not just in the sense of not having a right to complain because someone has it worse, which is just a logical fallacy anyway, but seriously, no right to complain only because men do not want to hear it. rostam harps over and over that “don’t sexualize me like that” is a sexist thing to say, and brandon says “Now a simple question: what possible right do you have to tell me (“guys”) that my behavior is not appropriate? ….
    You don’t have that right. ”
    I do have a right, and if you don’t want to listen, no one can make you listen, you have a right to read another blog.

    • I don’t think anyone is saying she can’t complain. I do see many men concerned when they see certain people conflate drunk and inappropriate with rapist.

      I honestly don’t see many men her talking about her initial comment of “don’t do that”. It’s that fact that somehow certain people have turned drunk/inappropriate into dangerous threat. It’s that leap that i think most men here are finding unreasonable.

      • You’re missing the point. Sometimes drunk and inappropriate (or regular inappropriate) IS a dangerous threat. Sometimes it’s not. We don’t know which times are which, and you can’t expect us not to be wary and uncomfortable when we are in these situations. And guys shouldn’t be putting us in them, no matter what their intentions.

        • I’m sorry, but YOU are missing the point here. Yes, SOMETIMES drunk and inappropriate is dangerous. And SOMETIMES sober and appropiate is dangerous. Most rape victims know their attacker. Finally, i personally think unseen and quite is pretty dangerous. But you said it yourself…sometimes it’s dangerous and sometimes it’s not. You don’t really care what behavior the guy exhibited. You are focused on the fear. If you read what SkepticChick ACTUALLY said, i dont’ think she said she felt scared or threatened. She just didn’t like it..and I don’t blame her. It’s people like you that are suddently turning this into a Jodie Foster rape scene that is over the top.

          You are conflating drunk/inappropiate with rapist. Every night millions of men are drunk in bars. I’m guessing you think they are all rapists? I’m guessing you have stats on this right? Or does THAT not matter either.

          “and you can’t expect us not to be wary and uncomfortable when we are in these situations. And guys shouldn’t be putting us in them, no matter what their intentions.”

          I’m sorry. You live in a society with all certain kinds of people. You are occasionally going to be offended, annoyed, and yes…unintentionally threatened at times. I’m sorry, you don’t have a right to never be annoyed. You don’t have a right to never be offended. And yes..if you conflate drunk guy with rapist…you dont have the right to be not feel threatened when you stay out till 4AM and then wonder why there’s a drunk guy acting like an idiot in your elevator. (Please don’t stoop to claiming that if she was raped i’m saying she asked for it.) I’m saying it’s sort of hard to be shocked when you run into drunk idiots at 4AM. And that’s what she did. She ran into a drunk idiot…NOT a rapist.

          You guys turning this guy into a possible rapist is just absolutely astounding. Was the guy creepy…yes. Would any reasonable person take what he said as a “dangerous” situation? No way.

          “And guys shouldn’t be putting us in them, no matter what their intentions.”

          Right here is your problem. The guys intentions have nothing to do with it to you. To you it doesn’t really matter what he said. All that matters to you is that a woman “felt” threatened. It doesn’t matter how unreasonable that feeling was. I find it strange that this is the tact of some feminists. For years you have fought to be treated as the equals you are, and the first time you can play the weak scared victim card…you go for it no matter how unreasonable that position is.

          • “Every night millions of men are drunk in bars. I’m guessing you think they are all rapists?”

            I would feel uncomfortable to be alone in an elevator with any one of them. It IS my right to feel scared when I am in a position that, if attacked, there is very little I could do to defend myself, being of fairly small stature. You cannot tell me that I can’t have emotions.

            “I’m sorry, you don’t have a right to never be annoyed. You don’t have a right to never be offended.”

            Because I can reasonably expect to sometimes feel scared or uncomfortable, I am not allowed to ever be scared or uncomfortable? What a strange world you live in.

            “Was the guy creepy…yes. Would any reasonable person take what he said as a “dangerous” situation?”

            This was thankfully not a dangerous situation. This could have been a dangerous situation. Hindsight is the only way to know for sure. That is what makes it scary to women.

            “Finally, i personally think unseen and quite is pretty dangerous.”

            You mean quiet, and yes, that is also a danger and the reason many women carry pepper spray and avoid walking alone when possible. But it doesn’t diminish the potential danger of other situations. You’re doing the Richard Dawkins thing here of comparing two evils and saying the lesser one doesn’t matter.

            You are coming at this with the mindset of somebody who has the liberty to give people the benefit of the doubt, because you are much less likely to be raped or assaulted, and do not have to be afraid when in these kinds of situations. You see an elevator with another guy in it. I see a potentially very bad situation. It is scary to be a woman in these kinds of situations. I am sad that you can’t see that.

            Rape isn’t something that happens and you say, “Aw, damn. Better luck next time!” It is a lifelong traumatic event. It can destroy relationships, and will definitely affect every relationship you have in the future. It is something that you are likely to think about every day for a long time, and it is very, very traumatizing. It is far, far better to hurt some dude’s feelings for a minute than to risk getting into a situation that will affect you for the rest of your life. This is where the fear comes from.

            Maybe the dude will take your “no” for an answer and get out of the elevator without incident. Maybe this will be the moment that destroys your world and gives you nightmares and trust issues for years to come.

            You will say I’m overhyping it. You are lucky to be in a position where you can think that. Get back to me when you live in a woman’s world.

      • Whoever is getting upset about it being “unreasonable” to conflate drunk/inappropriate with rapist, is committing the same error of conflation. Because none of us are telepathic, inappropriate behavior is a warning sign. It looks threatening. That’s all. Getting angry about it and saying “you’re calling men rapists!” is making THE SAME error, if not creating the error in the first place. (See “Gift of Fear” again, honestly. It covers inappropriate overreactions and why they interfere with sensing actual warning signs.)

          • “Wow. And a disproportionate response full of universalizing statements? Definitely a bad sign”

            I’m guessing you are talking about responses like these? If so…i couldn’t agree more. Oh…or are you ignoring these and wanting to focus on my critique of them.

            “For those guys who are angry that they feel they are being thought of as rapists first, human beings second… Yeah, it’s unpleasant, but seriously, your momentary discomfort is nothing compared to a woman having to deal with potential situations like Rebeccas 24/7”

            Yeah..i have no idea why i’m bothered that certain people look at me and their first thougt is “rapist”. I’m sorry if my anger offended you. Us rapists are so unreasonble like that i guess.

        • “Because none of us are telepathic, inappropriate behavior is a warning sign.”

          And that is my point. You are NOT telepaths. We are all limited to what SkepticChick said about this incident. I don’t remember her ever saying she was threatened. However, it seems a large number of people here are saying that it was or even IS a dangerous situation. Would it be “dangerous” if a woman asked her this? Do you honestly think we would be having this discussion if it was a female that asked her this? The behavior is still creepy…but since a man did it…it’s suddently dangerous. I think in both situations the behavior is creepy and it stops there.

          How are we as a society to interact when a fairly awkward jesture from someone is seen as a threat worthy of the “danger” label for 1/2 of our society. I’m not saying the guy’s behavior was appropriate. What i’m saying is that it’s a HUGE leap from inappropriate to dangerous and far too many people are willing to make this leap if the creep is a male. This is much like the woman who clutches her handbag when “the black guy” walks by.

          • mrjmm999: Are you willfully not getting this? To beat this into your head once again, EG sat with Rebecca and others for some time while the annoyance of being constantly propositioned was discussed. When she said she was tired and needed to go to sleep, HE FOLLOWED HER TO THE ELEVATOR. HE WAITED UNTIL THE DOOR CLOSED AND SHE WAS TRAPPED, AND THEN HE PORPOSITIONED HER. This could easily be construed as threatening behavior.

            Rebecca has simply, and nicely, pointed out that this is bad form, and guys should think about not doing it.

          • I’m really sorry the rapists impersonate you and do terrible things to women so they don’t know if it’s the non rapist or the rapist in the situation with them.

            How about this.

            YOU go and find all the rapists out there and put a little sign on them so us women can identify them and then YOU won’t be someone who makes us nervous ever again.

            We’re waiting.

          • My life actually depends on me listening to the gut signals I get…sure sometimes the calibration is off. Sometimes it is off in the overly trusting ignore my gut sense, and sometimes it is off with a guy who means me no harm but is being a dick nonetheless. I would like to live in a world where I can ignore these sense states…but overriding them is actually a worse idea than trusting them.

            I am sorry that some men are insulted by the fact that I admit these things are in play in my day to day assessments of where to go and what to do…Sometimes I’ve heard that a girl had one drink too many on a night on the town and got raped. She of course, gets accused of having turned her calibrated rapist detector of and so of course got raped.

            It helps of course to have a leading light in evolution and biology tell me that I am a jerk for trying to advise my comrades in arms of the double bind I experience.

            That doesn’t suck at all.

            Anyway …playing catch up here.

            And though there are a lot of interesting guys here talking about this stuff in a way that makes me pleased…There are a lot more talking in a way that makes me never want to use my money to be at a conference where they might be in attendance.

            I think I will save it for a yoga retreat which won’t make me feel so stabby.

          • “Pro tip for dudes: if you don’t want to be perceived as a rapist, a good start is not acting like one”

            And here is the crux of the problem. Apparently being drunk and on an elevator is somehow acting like a rapist to certain people. You had previously stated that you would fear being on an elevator with a drunk male. I guess being drunk is enough to “act” like a rapist. That is simply irrational. I don’t deny your emotion…,however, it simply isn’t reasonable. If I fear midgets, should i expect a midget to cater to my irrational fear of him?

            (Note: 45% percent of rape cases involve the suspect being drunk. Therefore, 55% don’t. You have a better chance of getting raped by a sober guy than a drunk guy if THAT is your criteria)

          • ““Every night millions of men are drunk in bars. I’m guessing you think they are all rapists?”

            I would feel uncomfortable to be alone in an elevator with any one of them. It IS my right to feel scared when I am in a position that, if attacked, there is very little I could do to defend myself, being of fairly small stature. You cannot tell me that I can’t have emotions”

            You can have your emotions all you want. What is the male supposed to do at this point? You have stated you would fear a drunk male in an elevator. Exactly how far are we to cater to your irrational fears. Do we get off the elevator if you get on? Do we take the stairs. How far to we go to cater to your irrational fear of men. Let’s be honest, if it was a drunk female we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

            “Because I can reasonably expect to sometimes feel scared or uncomfortable, I am not allowed to ever be scared or uncomfortable? What a strange world you live in.”

            Again, how far do we go to cater to a fear that is simply not reasonable. Let’s say I fear men over 6’5″. I’m only 5’11 and would be unable to defend myself. Am i to expect the tall guy to get off the elevator? Should we pass a law that tall men are to take stairs if they have been drinking? How about people over 200 pounds? People that lift weights. Exactly how far do we go to cater to this fear.

            “This was thankfully not a dangerous situation.”

            Then why the hell are you not criticizing the large number of people who have conflated this guy with a dangerous rapist?

            ” You see an elevator with another guy in it. I see a potentially very bad situation. It is scary to be a woman in these kinds of situations. I am sad that you can’t see that.”

            Amazing. You see a guy in an elevator and you see an attacker and a potential rapist. It’s nice to know that’s how some people see 1/2 of the world population….when in REALITY…that just isn’t the case. The textbook definition of an irrational fear. Mens and womens elevator’s perhaps? How about mens and women’s work areas? Again, exactly how far are we to go to cater to a fear that is not based on reality. The vast majority of rapes and assaults come from someone the victim knows. You surely know this.

            In all honesty, I do want to thank you for finally saying what is at the heart of this issue. It’s not about what the guy said, or what he did…it’s the fact that he was a man. This speaks volumes about the stereotypes many women put on men. How are we going to live in a society where 1/2 the population sees the other have as dangerous savages?

          • to mrjmm999: When you’re done, wipe the froth off and go read “Gift of Fear”. You need a more in-depth discussion of the concepts of risk management and vigilance, and you’ve already been answered repeatedly here.

        • “Getting angry about it and saying “you’re calling men rapists!” is making THE SAME error, if not creating the error in the first place.”

          I’m conflating? Please tell me how i’m conflating when i read statements like this

          “For those guys who are angry that they feel they are being thought of as rapists first, human beings second… Yeah, it’s unpleasant, but seriously, your momentary discomfort is nothing compared to a woman having to deal with potential situations like Rebeccas 24/7″

          Nothing about the actual situation. Nothing about what actually happened. It’s fine to simply look at a man and think “rapist”.

          I will read the book. However, to merely discount what i have said because i didn’t do your assigned reading is a little over the top. I’m assuming there is a chapter that deals with irrational fears? Like fearing all males? (I’m guessing you also read my conversation with a woman who think’s that it is perfectly reasonable to fear being on an elevator with a man.)
          I like your ad hom attacks though. “frothing at the mouth?”.

  53. If Dawkins had any quality worthy of respect after posting this – http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_9.html – (where he argues that humans have no free will and are therefore free of personal responsibility) he would have lost it after this incident.

    If the point he was trying to make was that we shouldn’t be worried about less severe things when worse things are going on, he went about it in an idiotic way, and that point he was trying to make was fallacious in the first place. First of all, we can’t do much about muslim women being mutilated and abused, and a the most profound effort to do something about it – the Iraq and Afghanastan Wars (really attempts to push a reformation in the middle east more than anything else) he adamantly opposed from the start.

    Second it is proper and moral to fight all wrongs everywhere to whatever extent it is possible for us to do so, whether it’s a creep in an elevator or genital mutilation and gender oppression. Heck, what do women (or Dawkin’s) who have to worry about genital mutilation have to complain about when things like this go on in the world – (http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/vulture-stalking-a-child/)

  54. One sad fact that becomes obvious in this discussion is that men actually need to treat women differently because they are women. There is obviously some aspect of sexism inherent in who we find sexually attractive, but there is a lot more to it.

    In a perfect world, you would think that a man could decide that he likes sex and he is attracted to a woman, so he should ask that woman if she would like to have sex with him. Unfortunately, a history of inequality, threat of sexual assault, and misogyny has made what would seem like a simple honest inquiry into a real problem.

    I am not sure we can ever get to the point where asking someone if they want to have sex has the same impact as asking them if they would like a Diet Coke. We are likely to always have a strength differential between the sexes, which remains an issue as long as humans retain the tendency to use violence to dominate those around them. Women will always have more at risk when getting involved sexually.

    I guess this is where we should use the term equivalent rather than equal. Women and men are not the same, but make equivalent contributions. Even that sounds wrong, but I can’t come up with a better way to put it.

    Oh, and EG was a bit of an idiot. I would like to think, though, that given the chance he would apologize and cop to making a very poor decision. I am an optimist that way.

    • Good comment, skeptony, but I would add that we need to get away from the concept of casual sex being the only kind there is. You said earlier it all comes down to game theory – try and maybe succeed, or never try. But that’s a fallacy, and a fatalistic one, akin to “Don’t go to doctors, either you’ll get better anyway or you won’t” when actually the act of going changes the odds.

      The point is, people who can be considerate of others and value them are *improving* their odds of finding fulfilling, consensual relationships; both for themselves and their potential partners, AND for everyone in their greater social context. It’s even been argued that making sex less threatening for women will help free up those who DO want more casual sex. If there’s less social expectation that MEN should only be interested in random impersonal sex, I think men would be better off, too.

      • I may have overplayed the impersonal sex thing. This is partly because EG could have only been seeking sex as he didn’t have time for a relationship. The other reason, however, is that men seem to separate love and sex more than women. It is quite possible that this is do to an increased instinctual need for the woman to have some trust in the man.

        Nothing is hotter than a women who stimulates your mind and heart as well as your body.

        • *nod* hence I meant my comment primarily as an addendum, not a correction. But the assumption that women conflate love and sex, and men separate love FROM sex, has so much cultural training behind it that I question whether it even HAS any biological justification beyond the risk of pregnancy. When women are often multiorgasmic but men are not, and women’s sex drives often *increase* as their fertility decreases, not to mention we’re raised in a culture almost devoid of sex education… bleh. Of all the stupid assumptions about sex, that’s one of my favorite ones to hate.

      • “I would add that we need to get away from the concept of casual sex being the only kind there is.”

        I was not aware that such a concept existed, I could have sworn for the past several thousand years the only kind of sex was marital sex in the missionary position for the sole purpose of procreation.

  55. Men and women seem to be speaking past each other here. The women are saying the man’s behavior was creepy. The men that, objectively, he probably wasn’t a rapist and was just socially inept, so that the women’s fear are irrational and are saying that “all men are rapist”.

    I think the reason women are justified in their worries is that while the (vast majority) of men who find themselves with women in an elevator at 4 AM are (of course) not rapists, including those who make a blundering and inappropriate attempt at seduction at such a time, there *is* a group of men which behaves that way and *are* rapists. The key point is, THE WOMAN CANNOT TELL WHAT GROUP THIS PERSON BELONGED TO.

    It’s like seeing a Black man late at night on the street in a big city. Admit it: you’re worried. Are you a racist? Do you think all Black men are muggers? No! It’s just that there are cities where there is a subset of young Black men who *are* muggers and criminals, who belong to the “gang culture”, and YOU CANNOT TELL if this young man is or is not in that group.

    Proof? Very easy: the moment you identify the man (by his clothes, say) as a doctor back from a late shift, or a clerk just getting out of work, or a sanitation worker doing night work — as a member of any identifiable group that is NOT part of the criminal subgroup — you instantly relax.

    So just like people who react this way don’t really think “all Blacks are criminals”, Rebecca’s action isn’t “all men are rapists”. What she is saying is that all men should not behave in a way that might make them MISTAKEN for potential rapists. The mere fact that you are not a rapist isn’t enough.

    • I think the black man arguments are just flat racist and inappropriate. I always remember Ted Bundy, as nice clean cut handsome white man who lured women by wearing a cast and asking them to help him carry something. He raped and murdered many women after getting them to secondary locations, including a woman who disappeared walking to her hotel room. A man doesn’t LOOK like a rapist or molester. I hear many men saying that if a guy doesn’t look “creepy” or isn’t rude or isn’t a big guy that he isn’t someone to be wary about, but I beg to differ.

  56. My favorite comment on this additional thread is Rebecca’s” a person with charm would not have done that in the first place.” There is a way to talk to people. There is even a way to flirt with people. There is a way to offend people. I don’t think there is a hard and fast definition, but it involves reading social cues. Drugs and alcohol impair that through disinhibition of impulsive behavior. These social mistakes, given the right circumstances, can happen to anyone. One should not be crucified if it happens unless there is malicious intent of course or unless there is a pattern of behavior suggesting it’s not a simple misreading of social cues. Flirting is fun, normal, a happy occurence of life. Between two heterosexual guys it’s called male bonding. Between two opposite sexed heterosexuals or same sexed, etc etc etc it doesn’t necessarily mean I will have you. It means I like you. If done well. Without malicious intent. With charm. Whatever the heck that may be as defined between the charmer and the charmeee and if done right, those positions are always in flux. Perhaps that is it – if the playing moment is one sided, perhaps it ain’t so playful after all. See you all in TAM. You’ll know me. I’m the charming one. :)

  57. I just want to say that I think you are right Rebecca, hang in there and don’t let the haters get to you.

    What you do is important, specially this issue. If nothing else, atleast it shown those of your readers that can look at this with reason, what you and other women have to put up with even within the sceptic movement.

  58. It’s weird that my passing acquaintance with an entirely different group of misogynist bastards would oddly equip me with something to say here, but here it is:

    Is it just me, or has nobody talked about the fact that men need to learn to pay attention to women’s body language? These shmucks pop up with, “Well how am I supposed to read her mind?” or, “But how is he supposed to know until he asks?”

    BY PAYING FUCKING ATTENTION! Go read a goddamned book by those sleazy fucking pick-up artists. (Now *there’s* a misogynistic shitstorm in a can.) Pay very close attention to the part about how to recognize when a woman’s into you by her body language. Ignore ALL the rest. Then go out and start learning to recognize when a woman is attracted to you and interested in being hit on!! Is it that fucking hard?

    But that’s male privilege, right? The idea that you can just pretend that women are a “mystery”, that men can even think for a second that it’s okay that they not bother learning the subtle social cues of the half of the species that they’re desperately wanting to be able to interact with? Blergh.

    But, anyway, felt like I needed to stop being just a lurker and register. Since if all these assholes are registering just to comment that they think commenting on this is stupid, I might as well too, right?

    And, P.S., is it just me, or do all those folk over on ScienceBlogs tsk-tsking you for being so inappropriate as to go off topic at a convention and get all emotional really irk you too? They’ve already started building a tenor of comment where they’re subtly marginalizing the initial incident while saying, “Yes, but, we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about how inappropriate she was to be mean in her speech after the fact…”

    • It’s absolutely male privilege. They have the privilege to care or not care about our feelings, wants, desires, etc. They’re completely allowed and even encouraged to claim cluelessness and actively disregard what women want even when we state it.

      They simply don’t. have. to. care.

      Instead they get to say that we’re whiny, bitchy, unfunny, ugly, sexist feminiazis any time we even remotely challenge their societal-granted privileges.

      Even when they explicitly ask how to get women more involved in their movement and we tell them “Well for starters, don’t be creepy”, “treat us like we’re people”, “don’t objectify us”, and “maybe have a conversation involving our mutual interests, then look for clues that we might be interested in you before asking us for sex”, things that seem like a “duh” to many of us but are apparently too fucking much to ask of others.

      I guess I just don’t intend to ever “deal with it” or “get over it” or “get used to it” when it comes to sexism. Until men truly start treating women as equals, I can’t operate under the assumption that we are. *I* can think it, people around me can agree, but until everyone does I have to continue the vigilance.

      • Nikoel says: “It’s absolutely male privilege. They have the privilege to care or not care about our feelings, wants, desires, etc. They’re completely allowed and even encouraged to claim cluelessness and actively disregard what women want even when we state it.

        They simply don’t. have. to. care.”

        Neither do you. Thoughts are free. Whether someone cares will never be subject to the control of third parties, except perhaps through brainwashing techniques and torture.

        Men and women both behave impertinently in social contexts from time to time. The kind of social snafus that may occur can range from the innocuous and humorous to the criminal.

        To me, asking a woman in an elevator to go up for coffee at 4am after being in a bar for 6 hours leans toward the innocuous side of the equation. Oh, and I do claim the right not to “have to” see it your way.

        Nikoel wrote: “Instead they get to say that we’re whiny, bitchy, unfunny, ugly, sexist feminiazis any time we even remotely challenge their societal-granted privileges.”

        Some men do. It’s the price of free speech, free thought and free expression. It’s kinda like how many women can leap to the misogyny card, and brand men clueless, stupid, sexist, ugly, unfunny, misogynists, harassers, oafs and pigs if one of us doesn’t behave in an appropriately chivalrous manner and treat you like the “lady” women historically have hoped to be treated as.

        Nikoel wrote: “Even when they explicitly ask how to get women more involved in their movement and we tell them “Well for starters, don’t be creepy”, “treat us like we’re people”, “don’t objectify us”, and “maybe have a conversation involving our mutual interests, then look for clues that we might be interested in you before asking us for sex”, things that seem like a “duh” to many of us but are apparently too fucking much to ask of others.”

        No -not at all too fucking much. Those are things all men should do. Not good to act creepy, and don’t objecify, etc. All good advice. However, what becomes of a doofus-ish violation of said advice? What of elevator guy, who is guilty of asking a woman for coffee who didn’t want to be asked?

        The point I’m trying to make is that most people are not saying he did nothing wrong or impertinent, but that it was just that – a bit off the mark – a bit rude – kinda creepy maybe. But, MISOGYNISTIC? HARASSING? THREATENING? PREDATORY? HATEFUL OF WOMEN? I mean – these are over-the-top characterizations in light of what actually happened. IMHO – you are entitled to your own.

        Nikoel wrote: “I guess I just don’t intend to ever “deal with it” or “get over it” or “get used to it” when it comes to sexism. Until men truly start treating women as equals, I can’t operate under the assumption that we are. *I* can think it, people around me can agree, but until everyone does I have to continue the vigilance.”

        Well, that’s one way where men and women still differ in western culture I guess. You don’t have to deal with it or get over it or get used to it. Men do. We can’t complain when we’re propositioned and we didn’t want to be propositioned – well, we can complain, but we’d not be taken seriously. Nobody would even consider someone “objectifying” a man to be an issue at all. So what would be the reply. And, rightly so.

        To me, true equality of the sexes can’t come until women stop asking to be catered to in this regard. Men have always had to deal with people saying things we don’t like. As Dawkins said – these were words – mere words, and nothing more. He said them. She said no. He left. End of story.

        Even if the guy said, “I think you’re hot. Let me take you upstairs and shag you rotten, and you’ll have the best shag of your life, you little vixen.” Even if it was that abrupt and direct – if he just suggested it and she said no and he left – is that not something grown people are going to have to deal with in life? And, does that suggestion to a woman mean one hates women or objectifies them?

        • I think you’re missing the point. RW had just finished a discussion about how often she was hit on, objectified, the attention of unwanted sexual advances and touching. Then she said thanks this has been good, I’m tired and going to bed.

          EG followed her out of the bar, onto the elevator, alone, then did things she just explicitly talked about needing to not happen. How much clearer could RW have been regarding the lack of interest in being approached?

          By ignoring her wishes, EG behaved like a creep. If it had been me in that elevator, I would have been afraid – for a woman, a man who willfully ignores my desires that way is a potential threat. End of story.

        • Elevator Guy from her video is neutral for me, as I can’t tell his intentions. He could be a jerk or he could be a clueless socially inept guy with bad hearing who loves coffee or something else. RW has the right to feel she was sexualized and say so. She has the right to say she felt whatever she wants. She has the right to give some advice to all guys in the entire universe.

          Men making lewd nasty comments and videos trashing her for merely making a few comments in a video are sure smacking of misogyny to me. Some guys have taken the time to make multiple minute videos trashing her and anyone that agrees with her when they obviously haven’t even watched the original video. Are they really woman haters? I don’t know, but definitely the hysterical reaction from her video comments was uncalled for and majorly rude and crass. Is that how a gentleman would react to a young woman stating feelings? It was a few comments in a video about an entire week’s events. Why isn’t anyone going on and on about her having been to the set of Mythbusters or seeing San Franciso?

          • skepman said:
            .
            “RW has the right to feel she was sexualized and say so. She has the right to say she felt whatever she wants.”
            .
            Yes indeed, but we, who were not there, also have the right to question her veracity and her interpretation of events, and to express our doubts about whether or not her fears were warranted — please note, I did not say justified, that’s a different issue.
            .
            After all, as I’ve stated a couple of times before, anecdotes are not evidence, whether they come from Watson, Dawkins, me, or the invisible flying pink dragon in my garage.
            .
            “She has the right to give some advice to all guys in the entire universe.”
            .
            I think that might be a debatable point. I mean, is there agreement that she has the education, or expertise, or world experience to justy giving advice to the world? Personally, I don’t think so.
            .
            “… the hysterical reaction from her video comments was uncalled for and majorly rude and crass.”
            .
            Yes, but I think we need to acknowledge that this is true for both sides of the argument. Some of Watson’s supporters are downright insane in their vitriol and vituperativeness.

          • Woah, major whoops there. That should have been skepmaam, not skepman.
            .
            Sorry about that. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip? No, wait, he was debunked, wasn’t he.

    • Ha! Those PUA guys are terrible and I never thought to see a woman recommend reading their materials. I do, however, take issue with the idea that men need to learn to read women when it seems that you aren’t interested in entertaining the male point of view and in fact mock the idea that women mystify men. We do try to understand you, we just often fail.

      Perhaps while we’re learning how to read you, you could do the same? Because when I get in that elevator, and I’m doing my best to look non-threatening, I’d like you to get that.

    • “s it just me, or has nobody talked about the fact that men need to learn to pay attention to women’s body language? These shmucks pop up with, “Well how am I supposed to read her mind?” or, “But how is he supposed to know until he asks?”

      BY PAYING FUCKING ATTENTION! Go read a goddamned book by those sleazy fucking pick-up artists. (Now *there’s* a misogynistic shitstorm in a can.) Pay very close attention to the part about how to recognize when a woman’s into you by her body language. Ignore ALL the rest. Then go out and start learning to recognize when a woman is attracted to you and interested in being hit on!! Is it that fucking hard?”

      I am not sure if anyone has told you or not, but I am in no way obligated to delve into research just because you refuse to deal with people in an open and honest manner. You are an equal, not superior. If you can’t accept people trying to connect with you without a lot of games, then I hope you like cats.

      I’m going to hear about the “cat” comment, aren’t I?

      • Well, that is very good advice. The more men are able to “read” women, the better men will be able to avoid hitting on women who aren’t interested. Of course, body language and how to read women’s body language is culturally dependent and differs from region to region and especially country to country.

        So, even if men do that, someone like elevator guy is bound to breach the etiquette, and misread a woman’s body language, or in a 4am buzzed state simply make a huge error in judgment and hit on a woman who isn’t interested in him.

        So, the question becomes, if a guy does make that error, and stupidly asks a woman for coffee in his room at 4am in an elevator, and assuming the guy really means sex (as I think everyone reasonably assumes, although it’s possible he really just wanted coffee and conversation), what’s his crime? Is he a misogynist? Is he anti-feminist? Has he “sexually objectified” her?

        It seems to me that your suggestion, while a good one, does not answer the basic question at bottom here. Elevator Guy may well have been a fan of “how to pick up girls” and the “science of body language” books. Let’s assume he is. Let’s assume he screwed up royally, misread her body language, failed to get her point, and just totally cocked up the whole thing, and blundered on with his “you’re interesting – come up for coffee” wink wink line.

        Does that really say anything at all about his mindset about women? That he objectifies them or hates them? that he’s a sexist discriminator? A harasser? It seems to me that it doesn’t. It seems to me that the come-on still remains an impertinent suggestion and nothing more. He asked the question, accepted no for an answer, moved on and left. Skepchick does not recount any leering, or ominous looming, any sort of blocking of way, or any sort of express or implied threats.

        Anyway – I still conclude that the most we can charge EG with is being a cad or an oaf or a dork or nerd, or all four. I can’t see it being some example of what men in general don’t “get” about women in general.

        • Another person who’s deliberately ignoring the fact that before she left the conversation in the bar, RW thanked the group for the discussion on not objectifying women and her in particular, then said she was tired and going to bed. That is not ever an invitation to hit on someone unless; ignoring their wishes is a clear indication that you don’t care what is said.

          There’s no need to read body language or facial expressions in that case.

          That said, a study of college age men of all types showed that most men do understand women’s body language. They just chose to ignore it if they want something.

    • “Is it just me, or has nobody talked about the fact that men need to learn to pay attention to women’s body language?”

      Paying that much attention to a woman’s body would be sexual objectification.

      You know this to be true.

  59. What I keep coming across is that the main problem is: because it was late and they were alone, his offer was a “potential sexual assault”, regardless of his intent. It seems to me a bit of a slippery slope. How many male-female interactions could be called a potential sexual assault? What if it was a tall muscular female and a small, weak male, and the woman asked if the man wanted to come to her room for coffee, is that a potential sexual assault? More importantly, would you consider it wrong of her to ask even if she had no intention of rape. If I observe a young female broken down on the side of the highway on a late night drive back after a long weekend out of town, should I not stop to offer help (being a mechanic) because the woman might think it was a potential sexual assault? I would never sexually assault anyone, and knowing full well that I would risk her feeling uncomfortable and asking me to leave, I would still stop and offer to aid her. Who are you to tell me that I am wrong in doing so. From what I read it seems the other side would have men suppress their initial response to a situation if their action would cause a woman to feel sexually threatened. Even if they would not sexually assault the woman. Even if not all women would feel sexually threatened. Do you think if you get every good-hearted man to never again make a woman feel sexually threatened with out intending to, that women would never be sexually assaulted? Bad shit happens to all of us, men-women-strong-weak, sexual or otherwise, and none of us has the right NOT to be placed in a situation where they feel threatened (except on the job), we all DO have the right not to be ACTUALLY threatened, and she wasn’t.

    • *shrug* It’d be good to have FEWER sexual assaults (and less fear) because people bother to understand consent and respect, duh. If you want the perfect universal solution to all rape, feel free to pray for one.

      As to the woman-stranded scenario, for general information, I’ve done this several times: (begin anecdotes)

      Generally I pull my car over well ahead of the woman’s, walk to a few car-lengths away, stop and ask if I might help her. I’ve also offered my phone to call police or towing with. About half the time they say yes; sometimes they say no (actually “I’ve already called someone, thanks”) and then I leave.

      Once some friends and I pulled over for a van with a flat tire late at night; the van turned out to have a lone woman and three small children in it, and she was terrified to see a strange car pull up. One of us who was a woman walked up to her to offer help while the rest of us stayed back until she said okay. So we changed her tire (fast with four of us). We were happy to help and she was so relieved to be on her way.

      It’s entirely possible that some of those stranded women said “I’ve called someone already” just to get rid of me. So what? It was my decision to offer, but it’s their decision to accept, which is really the whole point. I don’t feel the need to scare the crap out of some stranger to prove anything; ESPECIALLY not to prove they shouldn’t be scared of me. Yeah, getting in their face would REALLY help with that. Sigh.

      • You completely missed the point I was trying to make. First off of course it would be better to have less rape and more respect for everyone. But one of my points was: making men feel socially awkward for hitting on a female in a situation you deem “inappropriate” reduces the number of rapes by 0. The rapists will not be the ones holding their tongues in the elevators at 4 in the morning because they watched her video. I doubt anyone who had planned on rape would have let her exit the elevator at all, but they certainly won’t cease to offer the “coffee” because some people on the internet offered a not so well reasoned argument as to why it was inappropriate. It seems to me that the only men that this type of thinking will effect are well intentioned to begin with. All it will serve to do is keep some women from being hit on in certain situations. For every 50 women that would be scared off by some creep in a late night elevator, how many would have found him charming and accepted the offer. Its completely subjective that was what I was trying to get across. Everything past your first paragraph I totally agree with. I wasn’t trying to say that I would get out and “force” my automotive expertise on her or “get all in her face” as you put it. I would make sure she didn’t want my help before I drove on, that’s all. That help being either the use of my cell phone, the use of my hands and brain under the hood, or telling me shes scared and asking me to leave. The point was I would not drive on by because someone else feels that by me stopping and offering the help I would set up a “potential sexual assault” and make her uncomfortable.

        • *shrug* You’re the only one who brought up the stranded-car scenario, and nobody told you to ignore and drive on, not even me. I gave examples of what I think is respectful approach.

          “But one of my points was: making men feel socially awkward for hitting on a female in a situation you deem “inappropriate” reduces the number of rapes by 0.”

          First off, making women feel less threatened and harassed is a worthwhile end in itself (at least, for the majority of men who aren’t asses about it.) But more to the point, I’ve linked all over these threads to research showing that refusal to hear “no” is FAR more prevalent than actual rape; and that’s what gives plausible deniability to rapists and keeps them from being investigated, convicted, or even pointed out in a crowd.

          It’s pretty simple. Have some respect, don’t assume, make a good-faith effort to not be “that guy” and you’re part of the solution.

      • Great work you are doing here, Pteryxx. In your support, I notice that many commenters, (who have jumped in cold) in their attempts to summarise, apparently fail to take into account the context of the criminal and revolting rape threats that were made to Rebecca.

        We regular Skepchick readers were aware of how upset she was over this. EG was also aware. I think the whole scenario hinges on that point.

        Respect!

        • Thank you for the vote of confidence, Jack99, but I jumped in cold, too. Mostly I’m trying to keep it general and not put foot-in-mouth too badly. But Pharyngula’s nothing if not great practice in SIWOTI.

          ; >

    • His offer was potential sexual assault for one reason…

      Ignoring the fact that before she left the conversation in the bar, RW thanked the group for the discussion on not objectifying women and her in particular, then said she was tired and going to bed.

      Ignoring one’s stated wishes automatically makes you a threat, no matter what the place, time, sex, or sexuality of the person doing so.

      The fact that he followed her out of the bar and into an elevator alone to specifically ignore her wishes is even more threatening. Why is that so hard to grasp?

  60. I just finished listening to your interview on Citizen Radio. This reminded me of a couple of conversations with woman comics on Jimmy Dore’s excellent Comedy and Everything Else podcast. The concept first presented by Karen Kilgariff and Stefane Zamorano of something they call “Shut Up Bitch,” where smart, funny women who call out offensive sexist things men do are shut down by our culture. The other episode deals with the false concept that “Women aren’t funny,” discussing a movie that comic Bonnie MacFarlane is working on. It’s time for women to refuse to accept “Shut Up Bitch” and call jerks like Dawkins out on their elitism and misogyny.

  61. @calli

    07.08.2011

    “c0mputar, I registered just to tell you that you are completely selfish, obtuse and narcissistic. You seem to think that all women should be flattered by men trying to have sex with them. That any time or place is acceptable to grace them with your attentions. Here are a few hard-for-you facts: not all women want you. Any time and any place is NOT the right time or place for making advances. How can you NOT understand that?”

    And I just registered to try and understand why you even bothered to post. What time and place is the right time? Apparently you have this magical insight that allows you to disseminate to all of the male gender when is the right time and place to talk to any and all females?

    There’s no reason to assume that all women should be “flattered” when someone shows the slightest bit of interest in them. He didn’t outright propose sex – you are making assumptions given the situation and context. Even if you were correct in your assumptions (Which we cannot assume that you are) she did just happen to leave a BAR at 4AM. Even if we were to say he wanted sex the mere proposition itself is not uncommon. She was in a hotel not in a dark back alley in an unfamiliar part of town. Not all women want men as not all men want women – but if a woman approaches a man in that situation I doubt the man would be complaining publicly about how he was “sexualized” and treated like an “object” the morning after.

    I always felt that an integral part of feminism is equality – equal treatment is not special treatment. Was he somewhat out-of-line? Possibly given the context. But maybe he was a fan and really just wanted to have a cup of coffee and talk? Maybe he even felt a little sheepish about it after and thought “God that was really stupid of me…” sometimes people’s emotions cause them to act in the moment. Someone shouldn’t be scrutinized to the point of public agony for misplaced (Or badly timed) emotional outbursts. The fact of the matter is nothing happened beyond that according to skepchick – making it a harmless moment of discomfort. As if men don’t feel uncomfortable when women they aren’t attracted to hit on them. You know nothing about this man or how he felt afterwards, or even if he regret it immediately after, you are simply making unfounded assumptions based on your own personal prejudices.

    “I will try to give you the benefit of the doubt that you don’t understand that approaching a woman sexually while you are both trapped in a small enclosed area is Wrong and Very Bad. Its obvious you can’t place yourself in our shoes, so let’s give you a scenario you may be able to understand better.

    You are in jail and you share a very small cell, about the size of a king sized bed, with one man. He thinks you are kinda cute and makes sexual advances. He is also much stronger than you and he has the legal system on his side because no one gives a shit about guys who get raped in prison. How do you feel about his advances now? And yes, get past your homophobia and try to figure it out.”

    The situation you contrast hers with is biased to say the least. You are comparing a simple 30-second (If that) elevator ride in what I would presume is a fairly nice hotel in Europe to a couple of convicts forced to share a prison cell… For what is obviously the duration of their sentences. Now if you were free to leave the cell 30 seconds later and walk away you might have a point. Even though your situation at that point would be an entirely fantastical figment of your twisted imagination. It’s not that “We” (Obviously you mean “male-kind” or “Men who disagree with you”) can’t put ourselves in your shoes.

    I know people who have had gay men give them REAL “Sexual advances,” and not just an invitation to coffee at a nice hotel. But when they say “No thanks I’m not gay,” that tends to be the end of it, as it was in Skepchick’s case. And I understand why it would make her uncomfortable. However what skepchick doesn’t explain is whether or not this man is “Much stronger” than her, was he muscular? Fit? Skinny? Overweight? Does she have the capacity to kick him in the nuts as hard as she can? Are there cameras on the elevator or hallways? There are lots of details that could be of interest to those of us who wish to truly look at her situation with objectivity that seem to be missing – but I know “Details” mean nothing when you are fighting against the machine that is misogyny. Let’s not forget the fact that you are classifying his approach as “sexual,” shows that you are assuming that all this man wanted was her female bits. Like she was just a hole for him to stick a proverbial stick into. You sure have attributed a lot of negative character traits to someone you have never even seen – let alone the fact you know nothing about him.

    “We women aren’t breathlessly waiting every moment of every day for a man to come along and try out some lame pick-up lines so’s they can have sex with us. When we are out looking for someone to have sex with, or a relationship with, its in the appropriate places. Places where NORMAL people go to meet others. We are most definitely NOT looking to hook up or date some weirdo who comes at us when we can’t get away from them. That includes places like: work, home, parking garages, elevators, shopping malls, gas stations, etc.”

    Firstly – you assume that all pick-up lines are only used as a front for sex when sometimes they’re just a guys way of getting to know you. Is there no women in this world who met her now boyfriend/fiance/husband who may have first met her with a pick-up line? Sometimes a guy doesn’t know how to approach a girl he has feelings towards, and girls are the same way, sometimes a pick-up line (Which he clearly wasn’t using – so I’m not sure why you even mentioned pick-up lines…) is just a way to “Break the ice,” to maybe get a laugh out of you, a name, and even a handshake or to spark a casual conversation.

    And wow…. So in other words no women has ever been graced with starting a relationship at work, shopping malls, or gas stations? NO woman is looking to hook up with someone at work? I’m glad you have such a firm grasp of the social preferences of every female in the western hemisphere! You must be a genius or an idiot. You do not speak for women everywhere all of the time – perhaps you are speaking for skepchick in her particular situation but don’t presume to have omniscience in the psyche of the whole female gender. Plus, as many have mentioned, there seems to be powerful subtext following the words “Weirdo.” People are more trusting of attractive individuals (Just ask Ted Bundy’s victims) this is simply a scientific fact. Men and women alike are more trusting (Even in awkward situations like Skepchick’s) of attractive men/women to the point where perhaps if he was attractive enough a different girl in a different elevator might have taken him up on his simple offer of coffee in a hotel room.

    You clearly lack any understanding of social dynamics and it is precisely your presumptuous, arrogant, and ignorant attitude (If you are indeed a woman) that leads so many male posters to label you as a “Feminazi.” If you stopped, even for a moment, to think about the situation objectively you might address it differently. If you gave a moment’s pause you might find yourself thinking “You know, it was obviously a harmless exchange, so it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal…” People are so quick to attack Dawkins for contrasting Skepchick’s situation with more relevant moral concerns. Or this one with appeals like, “Well he could have forced her down… He could have raped her… Overpowered her and dragged her back to the room!” Sounds a lot like a very slippery slope. And he could have also been gay. Or he could have been the next genocidal dictator of the future. Or perhaps a terminator… Or maybe, just maybe, he was a man asking someone he admired if she wanted to have coffee. Was it the wrong place and time? Sure it seems that way. But what’s done is done. Can we leave issues like this behind to discuss REAL issues relevant to the feminism movement now or would that be too productive?

  62. Rebecca, I want to say fair play to you for allowing all the comments, especially keeping the ones that are vitriolic (which I hope you find amusing but I think I would find hurtful) as it lends texture to the whole debate. I feel sorry for the feelings you had in the situation you found yourself in and the fact you find yourself in the middle of a storm because of a few mild comments you made on a video. Prof. Dawkins should have known better than to get on board this, regardless of whether he’s right or wrong, he has embroiled you in a much larger situation than you could have envisioned.

    Having said that, there are some things about the original situation that are worthy of comment, I have a fuller explanation at http://paulforpm.blogspot.com/2011/07/dawkins-in-elevator.html but as a simple summary – Elevator Guy is either socially incompetent or way ahead of his time, Dawkins is essentially right but being rather dickish/trollish/exasperated about it, and the internet is full of self righteous twats and misogynists. Rebecca is being irrational but understandably so. She was in a position with no escape, but her fear was completely unfounded and the actual statistical risk she was in was dwarfed by, say, being run over crossing the street the next day. That’s not to understate her actual reaction, or EG’s ignorance or antipathy to it, but at a sceptic’s conference to ignore the science and the stats is to be hypocritical – which is not to say her mild rebuke on video was unwarranted but is to say her reaction was irrational and natural.

    • “Rebecca is being irrational but understandably so. She was in a position with no escape, but her fear was completely unfounded and the actual statistical risk she was in was dwarfed…”

      There’s nothing irrational about a woman being afraid of a man who deliberately followed her and put her into a vulnerable situation, and then propositioned her knowing full well she’s expressed a desire not to be propositioned. General rape statistics don’t mean anything in a specific situation where a man has already violated a womans boundaries.

      And Rebecca mearly advised guys that if they’re genually interested in a woman, don’t behave this way. There’s nothing irrational about that.

      • Actually, irrational is exactly what it is. Much like a fear of heights or a fear of a serial killer will often irrationally panic people in a given situation it is an entirely natural thing to happen, chemicals flood the body and the heart races and if there is no escape route we feel frightened, powerless and stressed – natural, but in a real world western situation not rational. We have evolved to poorly judge risks and overreact to most perceived or potential threats.

        Which is not to say Rebecca’s response wasn’t reasonable – she knows her reaction to that situation and her request to avoid being placed in it is not entirely different to an arachnophobe’s wishing for people not to carry spiders around and show them to strangers (perhaps a fear of dogs and a request not to have dogs near and someone bringing a large dog into an elevator with them would be a more fitting analogy). And the reaction to her request has been disproportionate on both sides with few voices of reason.

        None of my which is to deny there exists a sexist or misogynistic culture in society at large or these events in particular – I haven’t attended one so cannot comment – but approaching someone at 4am and propositioning them in a situation that many people(!) would feel uncomfortable in is not sexism, it is, at best socially inappropriate and at worst completely unthinking. Unless the guy did it intentionally to creep her out, in which case it is completely wrong and borderline illegal.

        • Again, you can’t apply general statistics to specific situations. Having a fear of heights may be irrational while I’m in a tall building. It’s not irrational if I’m on top of a rickety ladder, or climbing a steep hill (how I dislocated my shoulder, btw).

          Being afraid of being raped is not irrational when you’ve recieved many threats to rape you, and then have a male deliberatly follow you and place you in a vulnerable situation. Even if his intentions are simply boorish and not violent, you have no way of knowing that.

          And don’t you see the problem with your assertion that Rebecca’s response was irrational but reasonable?

          • I wasn’t aware of the previous threats to her person – that puts a different light on her reaction in the elevator.

            And don’t you see the problem with your assertion that Rebecca’s response was irrational but reasonable?

            No. If I have a phobia of something it is perfectly reasonable for me to ask people not to place me in situations where I may come face to face with my irrational fear.

            Likewise, people have a natural disinclination to be propositioned in places where they are irrationally uncomfortable and so it is perfectly reasonable to ask people to refrain from doing so until you are in a position where both of you feel comfortable.

            Maybe EG is a future version of us where people are perfectly secure in their person and sex is simply a mutually enjoyable act so propositions anywhere are acceptable. Or maybe he’s an ass.

            Of course, this nonsense misses a good point by Rebecca which is that if guys want more women at these conferences they have to make them as welcome and secure as possible – regardless of how they personally feel about what makes a women feel comfortable, i.e. don’t hit on women in elevators at 4am.

            Unless EG really is a misogynist and intentionally went against Rebecca’s wishes in order to make her uncomfortable, create a massive storm and discourage women from attending in future…

          • “Of course, this nonsense misses a good point by Rebecca which is that if guys want more women at these conferences they have to make them as welcome and secure as possible – regardless of how they personally feel about what makes a women feel comfortable, i.e. don’t hit on women in elevators at 4am.”

            Bingo

      • One, she did not “merely advise” guys that if they were genuinely interested they shouldn’t do X, Y or Z. She called them misogynistic and “sexually objectifying.” And, she has later agreed with other comments suggesting it was “harassment,” “threatening,” “predatory,” etc. A guy committing a stupid breach of etiquette is not necessarily those things.

        Moreover, “deliberately followed her and put her into a vulnerable situation?” What he did was deliberately get into the same elevator as her.

        And, yes, men have no way of knowing what a woman thinks about a given situation. Is a woman uncomfortable by a man standing silently with her in an elevator? Maybe. Some women, probably. Who knows? I suppose if she says “I hate having men in elevators with me” it would be an exercise of “male privilege” and “objectification” if a guy doesn’t honor her wishes and wait for the next one.

        • What he did was deliberatly wait until she was locked up alone with him. He didn’t just happen to be alone in the elevator with her, he made it happen. After he had been with her in a more public setting for several hours.

          • We don’t know if he deliberately waited. We know he wound up in the elevator with her. For all we know, he was in the elevator before she got in.

            However, even if we assume that he deliberately waited to get in the elevator with her, his crime is deliberately waiting to be in an elevator to ask, “don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you interesting…care to come to my room for some coffee?”

        • “One, she did not “merely advise” guys that if they were genuinely interested they shouldn’t do X, Y or Z. She called them misogynistic and “sexually objectifying.””

          And she didn’t call guys interested in women misogynistic and sexually objectifying. She called the guys who’ve made it clear they are only interested in her as a sexual object misogynistic and sexually objectifying.

          In other words: I find you opionions very interesting, and you hate getting hit on all time, I totally get that, it’s sooo annoying. Now please take off your panties.

          • The guy at issue here – Elevator Guy – made no indication that he was interested in her sexually at all. He wanted to continue a conversation and asked her for coffee. She’s ASSUMING he wanted her only for sex. And, even if a guy is interested in a woman sexually, that is not necessarily “objectifying” or “misogynistic.” If it was, then every time a guy hit on a girl it would be objectifying and misogynistic.

            For all we know, this guy loved women, and respected them, and wanted sex and good conversation, and to get to know her and to hear more about her views. Would that be less misogynistic and objectifying?

          • Plus – she never said at the conference that she “hates getting hit on all the time.” She was talking about email threats and sexist emails.

            And, we don’t even know if he was hitting on her. After taking a good gander at her at that conference, I can honestly say that I would more likely want to have coffee and conversation with her than sex any day. I mean that sincerely. Maybe elevator-guy felt the same way – hence the “don’t take this the wrong way…care to come up for coffee …I want to hear more about your views…” lingo.

          • “We don’t know if he deliberately waited. We know he wound up in the elevator with her. For all we know, he was in the elevator before she got in.”

            “At the conference itself I spoke about how, basically about how I’m tired of being hit on, a lot, at conferences…
            Well that night I was at the hotel bar…until four in the morning at which point I said: You know what I’m exhausted and we’ve got another day of the conference left so I’m going to sleep.
            So, I got up and I left. And a man who had been amongst that group but who hadn’t previously said anything to me followed me onto the elevator, on my way back up to the room, and he said to me…”

            Rebecca Watson, SGU #312, about 35m mark

            “However, even if we assume that he deliberately waited to get in the elevator with her, his crime is deliberately waiting to be in an elevator to ask, “don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you interesting…care to come to my room for some coffee?””

            Rebecca didn’t say he commited a crime, just that he exercised poor judgement, and maybe men should think about the situation before they proposition a woman.

        • If I heard her right, the original video that started this whole brouhaha said that Elevator Guy made her feel sexualized and the approach was creepy. Don’t do that! Yes, her perception was being sexualized based on the information she had. Did he? I am neutral given the video information. Was he a hard of hearing coffee lover? Probably not. She didn’t say he was misogynistic.

          Misogynism was attributed to the rape threats and lewd comments that came from letters and responses to a video of her Ireland lecture. It was not attributed to Elevator Guy. This is what sparked much of the fallout since and is often misquoted with things getting mixed together and blurred.

          I would say that many responses under her video with Elevator incident could also be considered misogynistic. They are at the very least extremely rude towards her and women in general. The attitude that she doesn’t have the right to her feelings on the matter is pretty hateful, so that is misogynistic to me.

  63. There’s a very important caveat about this whole thing that explains a great deal about the incident and its subsequent reactions, that really seems to have gone under-comprehended here.

    The Skeptic community is made up largely of dorks. Poorly socialized, undersexed, low-self-esteem-having dorks, who are much poorer than usual at reading cues or social situations, and who make many more bizarre social mistakes than than average, particularly when some combination of drunk, horny, and lonely.

    EQ? Nobody knows, and Rebecca’s probably not going to share her reads with us, but I’d lay my money on him matching much of that description.

    Rebecca, here’s why your initial post about ‘The Privilege Delusion’ stirred up the outrage that it did. These guys? They don’t want to hear s*** about how privileged and powerful they are and how they’re misusing force against the oppressed. They don’t feel powerful! They feel like redheaded stepchildren! They’ve been socially ostracized! It’s made them desperate and weird! Some of them haven’t been laid in years. Some of them would have no f**king clue what ‘enthusiastic consent’ even looked like. And you want to have a cozy little chat with them about privilege? You’ve got it all backward. Psychic pain and self-pity produce at least as many self-absorbed, assholish social gaffes as power and privilege do – for some reason this seems to be a fact with little recognition in feminist theory, or in that of the larger Culture of Protest in general.

    And that’s another thing this talk of privilege. When you lump all white heterosexual men together on an equal power tier, you completely deny these frustrated zeta males their seat at the table. Nobody’s in these guys’ corner – nobody’s occupying a campus administration building for the trampled rights of social failures. Their problems aren’t super-obvious in the way that gets their lifetimes of suffering validated, and there’s nothing extended in the way of help or resources, except by, irony of ironies, the pickup artist community, which is just as offensive to thinking, sensitive people as the earlier woman rightfully pointed out.

    That’s where the anger comes from, and, yes, that’s absolutely not your problem as an individual woman with an inviolate right to her own social & sexual self-sovereignty, and yes there’s a lot of unreconstructed misogyny and unselfawareness and bitterness and plain bad intentions mixed up in there, too, but you need to openly recognize the perspective of a huge portion of the men you’re lecturing, and understand just why this talk of ‘privilege’ is falling on deaf ears.

  64. I’ve been reading Skepchick for about 4 years now, though I rarely comment. This whole story has confused me. Not Rebecca’s actions but the responses. Rebecca is not my friend, I’ve never met her in person, but I think from 4 years of reading her thoughts and watching her podcasts and stuff, that I know a bit about who she is. She’s the sort of person I would be friends with if I knew her, and the kind of person I want to be a role model for my daughter.

    I don’t REALLY understand she is coming from. I understand the words she’s saying, but I would love to be sexualized. I’d love to be hit on in places public and private. Maybe it’s because I’m a man, and bigger and stronger than most of the people who I hope would hit on me. Or because I live in a culture where people like me are generally in charge. I don’t know.

    But I do know that even when my friends feel differently about things that I do, I don’t have to have a perfect understanding of where they are coming from to respect their wishes. The real confusion to me is why Rebecca saying “Please don’t treat me and friends this way” has any other response than, “Oh sure thing…didn’t know thats how was, but now that I do, I’ll make sure me and my friends don’t do that.”

  65. Rebecca, I just want to know your stance on where this discussion has been taken by some prominent bloggers. Do you feel that EGs actions were a form of sexual harassment? Do you agree with bloggers like Amanda Marcotte, that EG and others like him used the implication of rape,if you said no, to try and coerce you into sex?

    • Cripes, Amanda Marcotte is a hate-filled, sexist sociopath with murderous instincts, a short fuse, and almost no capacity to comprehend a different point of view.

      In a word, she’s nuts.

  66. Fifilamour wrote in response to my comment on the previous thread –

    “The problem with “it was just a breach of etiquette” perspective is that it doesn’t take into account that a Watson had just finishing discussing how this kind of behavior bothers her. So, we have a lack of understanding social boundaries AND a total ignoring of the previous refusal of these kinds of advances that Watson had already made. This means this person (consciously or not) has already shown that they don’t understand “no means no” (because apparently they thought their advance would be welcome even though it had been made clear it wouldn’t) AND they chose to make their advance in a context where Watson was alone, and potentially trapped and vulnerable. When someone has shown they don’t understand “no means no” and they’re willing to breach social/personal boundaries, there’s no way of knowing just how far they’re willing to go in terms of violating social and personal boundaries.”

    Actually, Skepchick’s presentation was not about how she doesn’t like to be approached by men. It was about rape and receiving threatening emails. I just rewatched it yesterday. There was nothing in there about dating or “come-on” etiquette.

    And, of course, we don’t know if the elevator guy was even in the room during that portion of the speech, or if he was paying much attention. I’ve been to atheist conventions, and one often doesn’t sit through everything.

    Plus, let’s take it at its worst. The guy sat there through it all and listened attentively and came to the conclusion that this woman does not like to be hit on by men. For some reason, after they are all hanging in the bar for about 6 hours straight, imbibing, chatting and getting on….this guy decides – quite oafishly – to give her a go in the elevator, call her interesting, and ask her to his room for coffee. Let’s assume coffee meant sex. Let’s even change what he said from a euphemism to “I’m very interested in you and would like to talk more. How would you like to come back to my room for coffee and a chat, and then by sunrise I’ll have you calling out to the god you don’t believe in as I shag you properly?” Let’s say she says “no, you creep, I reject your impertinent suggestion, and I’m going to bed.” He says, “ok,” and exits the elevator and goes to his room.

    Even then, that seems to me to be at worst an impertinent suggestion implying a sexually promiscuous nature on the part of the woman, and moving way past what most folks would consider to be proper behavior among persons who just met. But, that’s ALL it says. It does not say that he is “sexually objectifying” her, it does not mean he’s a misogynist, and it does not mean he has harassed her or threatened her, or any of the other extreme verbiage being bandied about.

    He asked her an impertinent question, or one that was impertinent to Skepchick, but it might not have been impertinent to every woman. Some women like that sort of thing, and women can be just as sexual and just as “one night standish” as men are. Some women will even say – “if you want sex, be honest about it. If I want it too, we’ll have a go.”

    What of those women who don’t want to be approached? Well, no means no is the answer. People in this world are going to say things we don’t like. I am asked questions by a myriad strangers on a daily basis – some questions have been impertinent. I’ve been hit on by gay men, and it creeped me out, but it’s no big deal really – I declined, they went away. I’ve been hit on by women – quite aggressively – and I didn’t want anything to do with them, so I had to politely decline. Have I been “sexually objectified?” Are they man-haters or misandrists?

    That’s my point with all this – YES – by all means, Rebecca Watson has every right to set her own boundaries as to what she feels is polite or proper behavior in this context. However, it does not rise to the level of misogyny just because someone makes an impertinent suggestion.

    Maybe the elevator guy is a misogynist and hates the dickens out of women. But, it’s just as likely he’s a pseudo-intellectual atheist dork with no game who chose a poor time and place to take a stab at bedding Skepchick who he probably found attractive while buzzed at 4am.

    • EGs actions were misogynistic and sexist because he decided his desire to have sex with her was more important than her desire to go to sleep as she’d previously stated she wanted to. THAT’s what the issue is. He didn’t take into account that following her and propositioning her in an enclosed space might make her uncomfortable. He may have just been clueless, but that’s still his privilege as a male. He doesn’t have to care about that kind of thing unless he chooses to. Women are told by society from the time we are little girls to be wary of ALL strange men. If we’re not and we get assaulted, it’s our fault. I’m sick to death of men explaining to women what sexism is and isn’t and telling us how we should feel in these situations. He was objectifying her by disregarding her wishes, comfort and autonomy. End of story.

      • Actually, he didn’t decide that his desire to have sex with her was more important than her desire to go to bed. He decided to ask her up for coffee and conversation at 4am. To suggest that once a woman vocalizes a certain desire that any suggestion to the contrary is MISOGYNY is really way off base. What about when a woman says “I’m kind of tired and I’m going home.” And, then some guy says, “Are you sure? I’m going to the Waffle House for a midnight breakfast, do you want to come?” And, then she might change her mind and go for some eggs and bacon. Is that MISOGYNY to have the gall to ask her something that might be contrary to her original statement?

        Many times in life we may say one thing and still do another or change our minds. Assuming she said, “I’m tired and I’m going to bed” – that doesn’t make it misogynistic to dare to offer her an alternative.

        Nikoel – you say, “He may have just been clueless, but that’s still his privilege as a male.” That’s EVERYONE’S privilege, not just males. You are just as privileged to be clueless and don’t think that women aren’t clueless. They’re very clueless and dismissive about what men have to put up with, for example.

        Nikoel, you wrote: “He doesn’t have to care about that kind of thing unless he chooses to” Nobody has to. You don’t have to care about anything you don’t want to care about.

        Nikoel, you wrote: “Women are told by society from the time we are little girls to be wary of ALL strange men. If we’re not and we get assaulted, it’s our fault. I’m sick to death of men explaining to women what sexism is and isn’t and telling us how we should feel in these situations. He was objectifying her by disregarding her wishes, comfort and autonomy. End of story.”

        You are entitled to feel any way you want about the situation, as is Rebecca Watson. Getting assaulted is not your fault, and society doesn’t tell you it is. Society bends over backwards to tell you it isn’t.

        If asking a woman for coffee in a hotel room after the woman says she wants to go to bed is “objectification,” then objectification in that circumstance is a monumentally trivial thing. It’s no big deal. It was a question in an elevator that was impertinent and oafish. Nothing more. Grown women ought to be able to handle it, just as a grown, straight man ought not make a federal case of being hit on by a gay man.

        Frankly, there won’t be true equality until women stop claiming the old-fashioned right to be “treated like a lady,” or to be granted “chivalry” from men. To say one is “threatened” by the mere fact of being in an elevator with a man smacks of Scarlett nearly fainting and holding a hankerchief, “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

        • Not all women took from RW’s video description that EG was a sexist or a misogynist necessarily. I didn’t. I’m neutral on him for the most part. Yes, he could have been a socially inept hard of hearing coffee lover. Unlikely, but possible. I do accept that RW’s perception was valid for her and that she felt sexualized. In her situation I would have been very uncomfortable and even scared, then after I might have said “creepy”.

          What I find misogynistic is the reaction to her video by so many men throwing out incredibly lewd statements and basically telling her to STFU for even expressing her thoughts and feelings.

  67. Attractive women get hit on all the time. It can become exasperating. If you’re the guy, you’re only doing it the once, and you might think, “What’s the big deal? Why should she get upset?” Well, you’re probably the eighteenth one that week. If she’s famous, you may be the eightieth one that day. Having to deal with that over and over, day and night, even when tired or not feeling well, is bad enough. Add to that a constant awareness that a certain tiny percentage of these unwanted suitors would consider using force, and she has no way of knowing whether you’re in that group.
    It’s not complicated. Show some restraint and politeness and empathy. You should anyway, to everyone, regardless of sex.
    I carry a little card with me, in case I forget. It says:
    Just because I HAVE a dick doesn’t mean I should BE a dick.

  68. I think what Rebecca misses here is that that many men, especially immature men, see women as practically alien beings, and have no idea how to approach a woman they like. It’s not that they *want* to look creepy or scare women, it’s real incompetence on their part.

    Unfortunately the skeptical and/or atheist movement — like, say, D&D players or Trekkies or MENSA members or Objectivists — seem to have a much higher proportion of such socially inept folks as the general population.

    • The reason women probably find themselves getting hit on a lot at atheist functions and conventions is because they tend to make up around 10% or so of the population of attendees. So, each woman is that much more popular.

      Also the number of physically attractive women at atheist functions appears disproportionately low compared to the general population. From the looks of the men at these events, I think that fact cuts both ways – most of the guys at these events would crack a mirror by staring into it too.

      Let’s face it, the atheist, agnostic and freethinker crowd that actually shows up at these egghead conferences tend to be male, ugly, overweight, old, and if they’re young they tend to be students and dorks.

      I suspect EG just took a shot at the only non-offensive looking female left standing at 4am at that conference. He was probably piss drunk and maybe he convinced himself she gave him a look or something. He fucked up. It was bad timing and bad form. But, it wasn’t “hatred of women,” or a threat.

      • No matter how much advice is given, humans being human – and men being no less human than women – occasionally a guy is going to breach the proper etiquette applicable in that cultural milieu. There is also no way of knowing that something that you, me and Rebecca all agree is a perfectly acceptable and non-threatening manner of approaching a woman that will not be, to some other person, offensive, threatening, or uncomfortable. Some women, no doubt, are offended and threatened by a strange man speaking to them in any context – whether in an elevator or at a bar. Errors will be made. Signals misperceived. Messages will be overlooked. Body language will be too subtle or misconstrued.

        The fact remains – such screw ups may well be improper and impertinent. But, they ain’t hatred of women, and threats and predatory conduct.

      • No disagreement, but believe me, as a man who (like most men) passed through that phase, “here are tips on how to approach women without looking like a creep” is about as helpful to some men as “here are tips on how to construct a moon rocket” would be to the average person. The tips might be good but they won’t stop people from failing.

        But I don’t think Rebecca meant to imply the man was a rapist or a would-be rapist. She merely said he made a bad impression and scared her.

  69. I think the “don’t sexualize me” thing is a red herring. All of us love to be sexualized sometimes, or else the human race would die out, to put it delicately.

    The question is when and how one is sexualized. Is it by someone you love after a romantic night out or by a stranger in an elevator at 4AM?

    • To some people, yes. There are folks who like quick sexual encounters with new people.

      And, yes, it is a question of time and place – it’s an etiquette question. Not a misogyny-objectification-harassment-threatening-predator-potentialrapist question.

      • Sure, but I don’t think the man who blunderingly approached Rebecca in the elevator is a hot swinger open about his and others’ sexuality. In fact if he WERE, Rebecca might still think he’s a creep but would have been less scared… he most probably (from the description) is a man who has no idea how to approach women at all.

        • You make a lot of assumptions about this EG. If you were more honest, then you’d be no more than neutral about his motives or intentions. He actually could have been a predatory jerk. Yes, he could have been a bumbling hard of hearing coffee lover. You don’t know. That’s the problem. Women don’t know either when a guy approaches them in the elevator in the middle of the night and gives as a first hello a probable sexual proposition. That is the creepy factor. That is why “don’t do that”.

        • We don’t know, and Skepchick didn’t say.

          What we do know is that the crime here is stepping into an elevator with a woman, politely asking her up for coffee at 4am at an atheist/skeptic conference, and upon receiving “no” for an answer, promptly and without argument, taking that no for an answer and moving on.

          There is nothing wrong with that, and frankly if Skepchick was uncomfortable then it was her own sexism and prejudice and unwarranted assumptions that did it. She wasn’t “made” to feel uncomfortable anymore than a black man walking down the street at night “makes” a white person feel uncomfortable. The discomfort is purely self-inflicted here.

          Skepchick’s view on this is patently offensive. She has every right to be offensive, of course.

  70. The truth of HOW MEN THINK is a problem for feminists!

    Rebecca,

    I think you are great. But I have to say that you are being unrealistic by picking a fight you can never win – a fight against nature.

    The the truth that as a man, whether walking the streets, buying groceries, picking up my kid from school, when conversing with any adult woman I am thinking about sex. Every time I speak to a women somewhere in my mind I am thinking about what it would be like to have sex with her. I don’t know if most men will admit this but I do believe that most men think this way. I do NOT feel any kind of disrespect for women, not at all, I have a great love and respect for women. I just feel the unavoidable natural attraction and cannot suppress the sexual thoughts that appear in my brain when I see or speak to any women that I find attractive. I think it is very primal.
    Does this make me sexist? No. Women feel the same way towards men as well. But it is the men, as they are males that tend to be the more aggressive pursuers of the females. Women can enjoy being the object of desire and realize the power they have over men – and many do and exploit it for their amusement.

  71. >>>> To suggest that once a woman vocalizes a certain desire that any suggestion to the contrary is MISOGYNY is really way off base.

    Saying “are you sure you won’t have the beef? It’s very good!” to your date in a restaurant you know well isn’t misogyny. Saying “are you sure you won’t come to have sex with me?” to a complete stranger is misogyny. Not really difficult.

    • Misogyny is the hatred of women. It’s not the “rudely ignoring their stated preference” of women. No, asking a woman to go to your room for coffee after she expressed a desire to go to bed is not misgogyny. It’s not that difficult, I agree with you. Some folks are making it difficult, though, and suggesting that if a woman says “I’m tired,” that it’s “misogyny” to ask her to come up for coffee.

        • LOL – there are a lot of assumptions and logical leaps that one has to go through to get from “don’t take this the wrong way…would you like to come up to my room for coffee…” in an elevator at a skeptic conference at 4am after leaving the bar to “sociopath” and “narcissist.” I would say that calling someone that based on that information says a lot about you and your view of men in general. One has to really be anti-male and quite sexist to go to that extreme.

      • Sure, asking a strange woman if she’s sure she won’t have coffee with you and discuss skeptical issues when she’s tired is not necessarily misogyny… when “coffee and discussion” really mean “coffee and discussion”, and the time is 4 PM and not 4 AM, and the place is the conference room and not an elevator.

        As it is, the suggestion clearly had nothing to do with coffee or skepticism but merely an offer for sex from a complete stranger. That IS misogyny.

        Perhaps better: it is misogynistic *behavior*. I am willing to give the man in question the benefit of the doubt as a person: I think it’s clear the blundering fool had no idea what an ass he makes himself look, and his behavior was not the result of conscious disrespect for women or for her in particular.

        Look, I can be a total ass unintentionally like the best of them. I once asked a girl, betraying my inner thoughts, “Did you see the movie ‘When Harry f***ed Sally?” (She fell over laughing, of course). But even I, in my worst “clueless nerd” days, would never imagine coming on to a woman like that.

        • It’s not even misogyny or misogynistic behavior to ask her straight out for sex in that elevator. Wanting to have sex and asking for it, even casual sex, is not “misogyny.”

    • No. You distinctly stated person, not woman therefore it cannot be misogynistic.

      However, your assumption of the genders involved and the fact that there is a difference in appropriate behaviour solely dependent upon those genders is sexism.

  72. >>>>>>>But, it’s just as likely he’s a pseudo-intellectual atheist dork with no game who chose a poor time and place to take a stab at bedding Skepchick who he probably found attractive

    Yes, but that’s the problem: to think that it is reasonable to suggest to a complete stranger to have sex with her at 4 AM *does* show misogyny — or at least total social ineptness.

    • Does a woman suggesting sex to a complete stranger in the wee hours of the morning (which has happened to me, actually) suggest misandry? I doubt it. It suggests horniness.

      Yes, total social ineptness. I’ll give you that. And, only that. It’s not misogyny to be socially inept.

    • “Yes, but that’s the problem: to think that it is reasonable to suggest to a complete stranger to have sex with her at 4 AM *does* show misogyny — or at least total social ineptness.”

      But EG didn’t ask for sex. He asked for coffee. So wouldn’t you be a sexist, for coming to the conclusion that he just wants sex. Because he’s a man, and you think all men want is sex, all the time.
      (This is under the assumption that you are female, as I cannot determine based on your user name.)

      • This “maybe he really just wanted coffee” and not sex is really stupid. I’m sorry to be harsh, but you don’t invite a woman to your room at 4AM for coffee. Out somewhere, maybe, but not to your room.

        • >>This “maybe he really just wanted coffee” and not sex is really stupid. I’m sorry to be harsh, but you don’t invite a woman to your room at 4AM for coffee. Out somewhere, maybe, but not to your room.

          This guy has already proved he is socially inept and awkward. Why wouldn’t he invite someone to his room for coffee? And you assuming that he wants sex is a conclusion based on male prejudice.

          Not to mention that Ms. Watson was just visiting the city for a conference. Perhaps he felt that it was the only time to get to know her before she left town. He probably didn’t know if he would have another chance to get to know her.

          Most of the time it is the man starting the interaction with a female. (not all the time) And because of this, we are sometimes so flustered and nervous that we make assess of ourselves.

          From what he said on the elevator made it clear he’s socially awkward and probably bad a reading the situation. He approached her very politely (in a horrible environment I might add. I mean an elevator, come on :P) and seemed to be genuinely interested in talking. Maybe he wanted more, maybe not. Either way, his approach was……strange. Not sexist, and definitely not misogynistic.

          Calling him a sexist horny creep misogynist is a conclusion based on prejudice.
          (Some people called him this, not you though, I know.)

          • “This guy has already proved he is socially inept and awkward. Why wouldn’t he invite someone to his room for coffee? And you assuming that he wants sex is a conclusion based on male prejudice.”

            He hasn’t proven any such thing. He might very well be, in which case Rebeccas advise is something he should think about.

            And while I think was probably just inept, he might have been a predator who decided it wasn’t a good time to strike. He might have been one of the people who’s threatened Rebecca but was too uncomfortable to act outside the security of his room. We don’t know, and neither did Rebecca.

          • “From what he said on the elevator made it clear he’s socially awkward and probably bad a reading the situation. He approached her very politely (in a horrible environment I might add. I mean an elevator, come on ) and seemed to be genuinely interested in talking. Maybe he wanted more, maybe not. Either way, his approach was……strange. Not sexist, and definitely not misogynistic.

            Calling him a sexist horny creep misogynist is a conclusion based on prejudice.”

            Rebecca didn’t start using using those words until she was told to shut-up, stop complaining, and how dare she say women shouldn’t be propositioned anywhere anywhen.

        • That’s what people were excoriated for saying about the woman who accused Mike Tyson of rape. She went back to his hotel room, and she said he raped her. Many folks were skeptical of her because they said exactly as you did: nobody invites a person or goes to another person’s hotel room, at night, for anything other than sex. Making that statement in the context of a rape allegation is “blaming the victim,” and a sexist comment.

          In any case, the fact is that many people are eggheads and would invite someone back for coffee and conversation at a cerebral, pseudo-intellectual conference. There are a lot of gays in the atheist and freethinker community – maybe EG was gay and really did just find Skepchick interesting and want some coffee.

          I think you have to make a lot of assumptions about EG to say that it’s always sex to say “coffee.” It’s often sex.

  73. Ms. Watson – I was wondering whether you could identify Elevator Guy if you had to.

    I have sort of been following this daily, hoping to at some point have Elevator Guy come forward and state his case.

    • Hi Horace,
      Considering the fact that Elevator Guy has been accused on this blog, inter-alia, of misogny, sexism, chauvinism, sexual objectification, being a nerd, creep, slimeball, etc, etc; and all in gross violation of the concept of Natural Justice which atheists usually uphold, that is the right to answer one,s accusers – I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn that the guy has hanged himself.

    • Of course, if EG did step up and “out” himself, most of Watson’s supporters would tell him he was a liar if he dared say anything that didn’t agree with the general ideology that he was a mysogynistic, objectifying, sexist, oversexed ogre who demanded that Watson have sex with him.

      And no, I am not saying that that is Watson’s point of view; I am saying that judging by the general theme of the majority of commentors that appears to be the general point of view held by the majority of Watson’s supporters.

  74. I’m just catching up with this story and I can barely believe it. The elevator incident was just kind of ironic considering the presentation you gave, and I think you represented it as such – admittedly rather disconcerting considering your particular circumstances but I think you made that clear without making a big deal out of it.

    Dawkins’ response, however, blew my mind. He always seemed like such an overly polite little fellow and I actually find it hard to believe he e-mailed you that message. Other than that, I don’t know what to think of this whole mess.

  75. This is without a doubt, the weirdest thing I’ve ever read on Skepchicks. Rebecca says politely: hey heterosexual dudes at conferences, in case you didn’t know, following a drunk woman into a small enclosed space at 4 o’clock in the morning and saying “wanna come back to my place?” tends to make women uncomfortable.

    How did this become a giant battle on the legitimacy of feminism, the definition misogyny, etc.? Did I miss a vital update somewhere?

    • http://skepchick.org/2011/07/frequently-answered-questions/

      >>Hitting on stranger in an elevator–creepy

      Criticizing (and vilifying) the woman who says not to creepily hit on strangers in elevator for having the nerve to suggest guys change their behavior–sexist

      Defending the prerogative of all men to hit on any woman at any time no matter how it might make women feel, even at the expense of women feeling safe in their environment, because it’s “just how men work”–misogynist<< (copied from link)

      /\
      The way she quoted karenx shows to me that she agrees with what karenx stated.

      Myself and a few others are arguing the contrary to this piece of rabble written by karenx.

  76. Well, truthwalker, there’s a lot of buried angst coming out of the woodwork here. I really can’t stress enough – Rebecca’s target audience doesn’t feel powerful or privileged. They feel like the underclass. They’re dorks! Undersexed dorks! To understand any of the reactions, you have to understand that.

  77. Right, I do understand that. I am not only a D&D playing, lecture-you-on-the-importance-of-microprocessor-architecture-history, atheist, skeptical, dork…I was home schooled by radical shack dwelling fundamentalist Christians in Iowa. Oh, and I’m deployed so I haven’t had sex in some time now. Believe me. I get that part. Nobody has deeper insight into being an undersexed dork than I do.

    And I read all the extra posts that were linked and all the ones by the different bloggers too. The fact is, if someone much bigger and stronger than me hits on me when I’m drunk, in an enclosed area at 4AM it would make me uncomfortable. Duh. And the best thing to do when you are uncomfortable is say, politely, “Please don’t.”

    I thought all skeptics didn’t believe stupid, unproven shit whether its about UFO or women because thats what skepticism demands. I know you and some other posters see this, but behind all the highfaluting talk and trying to pull people into arguments about what feminism means or this or that doesn’t fit the context of misogyny, the fact is, a human being said “Please don’t” and bunch of other people said “your ‘please don’t’ doesn’t matter… cuz we have dicks.”

    I guess I’m a feminist now.

  78. I don’t think that’s why people are mad. Like, they might be couching it in that way, but ultimately, the *real* reason I think people are finding excuses to argue with her is her decision couch her argument in the (let’s face it, ladies!) tedious, degrading, pseudoscientific Marxist language of the culture of protest, and base it all around a self-righteous false pretense of this being a matter of power and privilege, rather than self-absorbed, inappropriate, slightly-creepy-levels-of-lack-of-empathy-based hopes of the desperate and horny getting dashed, yet again.

    It would be infinitely more rational, accurate, human, and genuine of her, to just say – look, I know this is a sausagefest, I feel for you guys. Really, I do. But no scrubs, thanks. I’m not who or what you think I am. I’m not some hopeful opportunity for all ten thousand of you. I’m a human being who’s a little tired of being the side of bacon thrown into a dogfighting ring, and if you’re really as well-intentioned as you think you are, you’ll recognize that, and give me a break. Try OKCupid. Thanks.

    • ” . . . the *real* reason I think people are finding excuses to argue with her is her decision to couch her argument in the (let’s face it, ladies!) tedious, degrading, pseudoscientific Marxist language of the culture of protest, and base it all around a self-righteous false pretense of this being a matter of power and privilege . . . ”

      Yes! That is precisely the reason I got involved. Yet, whenever I disagree with the premise of this framing, I get slurred as a Privileged™ Sexist™ with a Misogyny™ problem.

  79. I like the SGU and Rebecca’s presence along with the other panel members.

    I think sexism is a valid topic for the skeptical community.

    I have laid out some arguments (rational I hope) on the SGU forum:
    http://sguforums.com/index.php?action=profile;area=showposts;u=15361

    There is a sense in which sexism is more fundamental than religion as a socially binding irrational force.

    With religion, most of the arguments are out in the open and easy to subject to rational debate.

    With sexism, the arguments are more hidden and unconscious with reflex-like expression as threats, disbelief that the world could be seen another way, and (sadly for a community of skeptics) expressed as fallacies of relevance.

    Seeing dogmatic sexism in the skeptic community is as startling as finding spoon-benders at a physics convention.

    Skepticism is hard intellectual and emotional work. There is little joy having one’s cherished beliefs about religion and quackery debunked. It’s turning out that these are the easy issues. Arguing the case against anti-vaccination is a no-brainer compared with tackling sexism. And the skeptical community is where you would least expect to find entrenched sexism. But as I say, it’s more fundamental than religion. Religion hangs off sexisms coat-tails.

    And atheism was always to me a badge of rationality and unwillingness to believe without adequate evidence. I cannot help suspect now that atheism is a disjunctive syllogism: either God is god, or men are god. Well, no. The non-existence of God does not imply that men have a “God”-given right to presume anything other than a totally respectful relationship with women in all contexts. They (women) are, after all, humans. Even possums and koalas where I come from are treated with more respect than has been shown toward women by some in the skeptic community.

    I had some hope that the bulk of the disrespectful posts were from anti-skeptics (homoeopaths, quacks, spoon-benders and religious nutters) through sock puppet identities. But the confirmed comments from Richard Dawkins demonstrates rather conclusively that being hyper-rational and clear thinking in multiple domains doesn’t inoculate you against irrational sexism.

    Good on you Rebecca.

  80. Just wanted, as a male sceptic (small ‘c’ this side of the pond), to support Rebecca in this unseemly business and to express my disappointment in Richard Dawkins.

    The man in the elevator acted in a sleazy and inappropriate manner that could easily have been intimidating and at the very least distasteful to a lone woman at 4am, especially in light of all the background information Rebecca has described. She had every right to say that this made her uncomfortable and to suggest that men attending skeptik(c)al events should take care not to alienate the few women that already attend them with clumsy and ill-judged advances.

    None of this makes the man in the elevator a rapist or even necessarily a misgynist, but neither does it make Rebecca a Feminazi or a whiner.

    I have been a fan of Richard Dawkins longer than I have been a fan of Rebecca Watson, but he has disappointed me here – sceptics need to show a united front and this is all very embarassing, especially to the men amongst us who consider ourselves feminist as well as sceptical.

  81. I am a fan of Rebecca and she summed it up correctly on the SGU podcast. What Dawkins said was “insulting”. That much is true. He was not being sensitive to Rebecca’s feelings. Rebeccas SHOULD have taken that as a mark of respect. Dawkins thought that Rebecca was up to a bit of ‘cut and thrust’ without suffering an emotional implosion.

    Rebecca must learn to take harsh criticism and rebuke from somebody she looks up to. I’ve done it countless times in my life, unpleasant though it is, and it’s part of the process of becoming an expert in your field and one day somebody who will be looked up to by your juniors, just as today Richard Dawkins is unquestionably her senior, and for good reason. If you cannot take criticism without becoming emotional and irrational (taking it personally) then your future in these circles will not be as august as it might otherwise be.

    I refer you to the video where Dawkins is rebuked by somebody he respects highly, Neil deGrasse Tyson.
    Watch how Dawkins responds to the rebuke. That is the spirit in which Rebecca Watson should have responded to Dawkins’ comments. As a peer, and in an intellectually objective way. That is not to say that she must agree; far from it. THIS is how you handle criticism from one of your intellectual peers. Tyson basically tells Dawkins “you are not good at what you do.”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_2xGIwQfik

    I was most disappointed in Rebecca’s reaction to this controversy. I am still a fan and I enjoy her on the SGU and will follow her career, but this was an opportunity for her to graduate to the next level by testing her mettle, and it was squandered.

    • “Rebecca must learn to take harsh criticism and rebuke from somebody she looks up to. I’ve done it countless times in my life, unpleasant though it is, and it’s part of the process of becoming an expert in your field and one day somebody who will be looked up to by your juniors, just as today Richard Dawkins is unquestionably her senior, and for good reason. If you cannot take criticism without becoming emotional and irrational (taking it personally) then your future in these circles will not be as august as it might otherwise be.”

      Only if the criticism is justified. Dawkins response was snoty, condescending, and totally with out merit. And to say Dawkins is Rebeccas senior and therefore she should tolerate such abuse just confirms Rebeccas point about privelege.

      • You don’t think that Richard Dawkins is Rebecca Watson’s senior in the world of atheism? Nonsense. If you think that, you are a fool. That’s the sort of ideological nonsense that gives feminism a bad name.

        You think Rebecca Watson deserves equal gravitas to Richard Dawkins simply by virtue of being female. That is laughable and richly deserving of ridicule.

        Imagine if you told me that Pamela Gay is senior to Bob Novella in the world of astrophysics. And then I accused you of being SEXIST for making that assertion.

        You would laugh at me and you would be justified. Bob Novella is an amateur without any gravitas next to Pamela Gay, as much as I enjoy Bob Novella’s podcast. Just as Rebecca Watson is an amateur without any gravitas next to Richard Dawkins.

        That I have to make these simple and painfully obvious examples here to prove to you that I am not a sexist pig shows how absurd your ideology is.

        • I’m going to ignore your Rebecca Watson/ Pamela Gay comparison as it’s a strawman and completely irrelevent.

          I wouldn’t say either one is more important than the other. They both have a long list of accomplishments, and the skeptic movement is not a formal organization with bosses and subordinants. Richard Dawkins has been around longer. So what? So Dawkins is more important according to criteria YOU’VE made up, and therefore Watson has to submit to belittleing comments. I don’t think so.

          Beyond that your comments betray a lack maturity and/ or rational thinking, and I’m not going to waste any more time on you until you’ve grown up some more.

          • “Beyond that your comments betray a lack maturity and/ or rational thinking, and I’m not going to waste any more time on you until you’ve grown up some more.”

            This has been exactly the response of most of the “feminists” who have debated me in these debates. Many of Ms. Watson’s defenders, instead of replying to the arguments we make, resort to belittling insults, including the ever present accusations of “privilege,” “sexism,” and “misogyny.”

            Language such as this, dripping with negative emotional reactivity, eclipses the legitimate perspective that rational feminists wish to express, reveals as hypocrites those who have targeted Dr. Dawkins for his tone, and threatens to split apart a movement that already has more than enough challenges.

            If you want to talk about a “lack of maturity and/or rational thinking,” just look at Skepchick’s published responses to this incident:

            In “The Privilege Delusion,” Ms. Watson refers derisively to Dr. Dawkins as a “stinking rich” “wealthy old heterosexual white man,” states that she will boycott his work, and thanks her supporters for “bravely battling [Dawkins] and the hoards of clueless privileged people who didn’t get it.”

            The open letters to Dr. Dawkins are more severe: “I look forward to watching your legacy crash and burn,” wrote Mindy, who concluded with “you don’t get a second chance.” Another letter opened with “Dear Dick” and accused Dr. Dawkins of making the skeptic community “blatantly unsafe” for women.

      • By the way – I didn’t say she had to agree. I said it sucks that she couldn’t make her counter-argument in a civilised and respectful manner. I think Richard Dawkins has earned enough respect to be able to debate him and take up an opposing position without this repugnant and distusting crusade to smear his character.

        By the way, one thing that people never mentioned, is that Dawkins himself was a victim of sexual assault when he was a child. Didn’t know that, did you.

        • Of course that fact is ignored, just like every other that could make Skepchicks’ published responses to this incident look as outrageous and inflammatory as they actually are.

          Other facts that are routinely ignored by Ms. Watson’s defenders:

          – That Dr. Dawkins was very likely responding not to Ms. Watson’s video, but to PZ Myers’ blog post and the arguments raging in the comments.

          – That after his initial comment was widely panned, Dr. Dawkins clarified his position, requested additional information, and acknowledged that he could be mistaken.

          – That Ms. Watson did not state during her speech on the panel that she didn’t want to be “hit on” at conferences.

          – That the terms “sexism” and “misogyny” cannot simply be redefined at will by Ms. Watson’s defenders, nor can they be fairly used to slur every person who has posted who disagrees in some way with Ms. Watson’s assumptions, perceptions, and conclusions.

  82. What’s been forgotten throughout the angry discussion of this issue is that Dr. Dawkins was probably responding not to Ms. Watson’s video, but to PZ Myers’ blog post and the arguments raging in the comments.

    Further, unlike many of his opponents, Dr. Dawkins – after his first comment was widely panned – clarified his position, requested additional information, and acknowledged that he could be mistaken. I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt, not backstabbing decrees such as the Skepchicks’ “I look forward to watching your legacy crash and burn.”

    But for merely disagreeing with Ms. Watson’s assumptions, analogies, and conclusions, I have been branded as “sexist” and “misogynist” in language dripping with negative emotional reactivity. These constant allegations, thrown about without much thought, degrade the very meaning of those terms.

  83. Would it help men at these conferences if women started to wearing red / yellow / green badges to let the men get a real visual clue to whether they are available for hitting on? ;-) Red = Stop, Yellow = Proceed with caution, Green = Go, but no promises you’ll make it safely.

    Meg

    • The main issue is it’s having women accomodate male misbehavior. And the danger of men taking a green tag as permission to do anything.

      Frankly, the guys who are the problem aren’t likely to pay any attention, anyway.

    • So, your solution is that women should be marked up like meat for the advantage of male convention goers who will treat them as sexual objects first and intellectuals second either way. Great. That’ll really solve the problem of women being disrespected in the “atheist movement.”

      • Chill. No, that was not my intent. It’s obviously a bit of a joke, but maybe not obvious enough. As others say, even such a system wouldn’t fix anything. I was just wondering if with such badges men couldn’t claim they didn’t understand the woman’s signals. Wedding & engagement rings are a sort of badge, but doesn’t stop people.

  84. 1) Forget otters. I’d much rather talk about nudibranchs.

    2) I’m amazed at what this whole topic has become. You said (and I paraphrase) “That made me uncomfortable, don’t do that.” Seems reasonable. Seems simple. How did it explode into all this?

    3) It seems like a lot of people don’t understand how a situation like that can go very badly wrong. If it’s never been a concern, you have no frame of reference.

    But I can tell you how an ordinary enclosed space can become a very dangerous place to be. Before it happened to me, I never believed it was possible. I told friends it would never happen. I knew their concerns were silly.

    I was wrong. But no amount of explaining got through to me.

    I’m not making excuses. Blowing your comment out of proportion was unnecessary at best. But I do understand how someone who has never been at a physical disadvantage like that could fail to grasp what you’re saying. And I hope they never understand it the way so many of us do.

  85. Am I the only one who’s not getting it?

    Rebecca didn’t accuse this man of being a misgonyst or a sexist or a rapist. She said it’s a bad idea to hit on women at 4AM at the elevator because it makes them feel uncomfortable: that this is misogynystic *behavior*. Not the same thing. She certainly didn’t claim this is part of a giant anti-feminist conspiracy to keep women down.

    Also, I don’t see anybody suggesting that women should be freely hit on all the time. I see people suggesting that men will, by the nature of things, sometimes assume a woman might be interested when she is not, but this doesn’t mean men who do that are necessarily would-be rapists and women-haters.

    Both opinions here seem to be coming from the press releases of Captain Obvious, savior of trite truths everywhere. How this became an enormous feminism-vs.-human-nature discussion is beyond me.

    • I’ll tell you how it became a big controversy – Rebecca tried to whip up a lynch mob against Richard Dawkins because he debunked her anecdote according to his own logic. You might disagree with Dawkins and think Rebecca was right, that’s fine.

      But what’s with the massive attack blogs against Dawkins from Rebecca and claiming he’s a white rich sexist old man who dismisses all the experiences of sexual assault victims?

      It’s as absurd as Rick Santorum coming out on June 6th (D-Day) and attacking President Obama saying that those soldiers died specifically so that their grandsons could have the freedom to choose their health insurance policies. By trying to smear Richard Dawkins agressively (sending letters from rape victims, accusations of sexism, etc) Rebecca turned this from a disagreement over an intellectual argument into a personal crusade to destroy Richard Dawkins.

      THAT’S WHY. And that’s what I object to and that’s what I’m trying to fight against here.

      • I think if you have zero risk of being sexualy assaulted and that includes entrapment you never think about it as you go about your daily business, but at least you can empathise with someone who has too. Dawkins didn’t do that, he just took the piss, which I think is callous.

        • Richard Dawkins didn’t feel sorry for Rebecca that somebody tried a pickup line on her and she said no and that was that.

          Neither do I.

          Now, you may disagree. But it doesn’t make him or me sexist or misogynist or heinous or needing a boycott or any of that childish bullshit.

    • She said it’s a bad idea to hit on women at 4AM at the elevator because it makes them feel uncomfortable: that this is misogynystic *behavior*.

      Actually she said don’t do it because it’s creepy. i.e. it makes her feel creepy. And would it still be misogynistic if a woman had done it?

      Some people have been trying to work out whether there is any justification for a woman to feel that behaviour is creepy rather than declaring it by fiat.

      My view is that we (most of us) have been designed by evolution to find such situations stressful as our bodies prepare for a flight or flight situation – rational/justified or not. Because of this people (not just men, but especially men) should be more empathetic about the scenario they proposition other people in. i.e. Not late night dark car parks, no elevators at 4am etc. etc.

      On the other side you have people arguing that this creepy feeling is irrational – and it is, but it is also natural!

      Had Rebecca simply said – “If you guys want more women to come to these meetings you have to make an effort to make them feel safe, secure and comfortable, regardless of how irrational you view their requirements as.” Then there’d be no discussion.

      She didn’t. She told all men to obey her personal creepiness limits, basically speaking for all women. She might be 99% right, but we don’t actually know that for a fact. It might turn out that men who proposition women in elevators and get turned down are the least likely to rape them, in which case the feeling of creepiness is totally unjustified, again, we don’t know but it has been declared creepy by fiat, or by ‘common sense’ – ’cause we all know how reliable that is.

  86. Something else: is there any evidence the “Richard Dawkins” on the Pharyngula blog is THE Richard Dawkins? Anybody can call himself “Richard Dawkins” on the ‘net.

    (Signed, James Randi. I mean Albert Einstein. I mean…)

  87. “Also, I don’t see anybody suggesting that women should be freely hit on all the time.”

    I’ve seen three or four posters suggest that if men follow the advice to not hit on women who are stranger to them in elevators that the human race is at risk of dying out. And several dozen posts that suggest that getting laid is much much much much more important than trying not to make women uncomfortable.

  88. Rebecca I sympathise with how you feel at the moment. As an individual in the public eye and one with such a high profile in the sceptics world the pressures are many and varied.

    This doesn’t mean of course that you should just accept threats of rape and other terrible things as coming with the territory. I would back you in a that fight 100%

    However I do feel this has made you more sensitive to the haphazard blunderings of the average harmless single male. You see we feel pressure both from women and men to make the first move somehow. Most of us are terrible at it an often because of this are literally scared of doing it when others can see what a fool we are making of ourselves. Would I approach a woman in an elevator? No I very much doubt it. However I have chatted up women at bus stops at night. Sounds creepy even as I am saying it but it wasn’t and it got me a girlfriend of 18 months and now a long term friend.

    I don’t know if I feel sorry for the guy with you in the elevator. I wasn’t there and so maybe it was creepier than you painted it. However as you did paint such an innocuous picture for that situation it does seem like you have over reacted because of the other pressures put upon you in your role.

    Sure all men could learn to put themselves in female shoes once in a while but please remember most of us aren’t rapists we are just really nervous balls of crap who are horrible at approaching women.

  89. I don’t have the time to read blogs but I do listen to SGU and last Wednesday morning when I was listening to what had happened to Rebecca I was appalled that any male would think that an approach like that would be appreciated, but what has really upset me is the cherry picked reactions from the people who are attacking Rebecca for letting blokes know that asking a woman back to your room at 4am is a little creepy, especially if you have not spoken to them at all beforehand. I am all for trying your luck to “pick up” women but there is a time and a place for it.
    Rebecca you did nothing wrong in bringing up this point, there are some guys who need all the help they can get. I hope that you get an apology from Mr Dawkins.
    I also hope that the letters from the sickos eventually stop.
    cheers
    Alden Clarke

  90. Rebecca – with you all the way on this, you’re absolutely right to talk about it and call men out on it. What possible reason could there be for “approaching” a woman you don’t know and asking her to go for coffee or anything else anywhere, at any time of the day or night – let alone in a lift at 4am??????!!!!!!!!!

    Anyone who can’t understand how frightening that would be is devoid of imagination – it doesn’t matter what the man’s actual intention was – the woman’s not a mind reader is she???

    And for Richard Dawkins to be so obtuse is especially dispiriting, his position is akin to chastising those who complain about antisocial behaviour in their neighbourhoods on the grounds that people in the Congo or Somalia have it much worse – what a let down!

    I for one am glad you’ve stuck to your guns

    • Skeptikem said:
      .
      “What possible reason could there be for “approaching” a woman you don’t know and asking her to go for coffee or anything else anywhere, at any time of the day or night – let alone in a lift at 4am?”
      .
      Well, one possible reason could be having an interest in the woman’s ideas and theories as expressed at the meeting. That’s one possible reason.
      .
      Another possible reason could be to get to know the woman better for any variety of possible reasons ranging from simple curiosity to sexual attraction. That’s a second possible reason.
      .
      And, of course, a third possible reason could be an interest to engage in so-called casual sex. There, that’s three possible reasons for “’approaching’ a woman you don’t know and asking her to go for coffee or anything else anywhere, at any time of the day or night – let alone in a lift at 4am”.
      .
      Also, although I am somewhat surprised that no one has thought to mention this yet, for some people 4 am is just the early afternoon. We don’t all live by the 9 am to 5 pm clock. Shocking, I know.
      .
      If you are capable of intellectual honesty you can now use your seemingly limited imagination to come up with more possible reasons for … etc.

      • I’m really interested in your opinions…except for that one about being tired of being hit on, and that one about being tired and needing to go to bed, I don’t give a sh&t about those, but other than that…

      • They were in the same bar for hours – if he was interested in her ideas and theories, or simply curious and wanting to get to know her better why didn’t he take the opportunity when he had it?

        Why wait until she turned in for the night?

        An interest to engage in casual sex is a reason to approach a prostitute not a member of the general public.

    • “Anyone who can’t understand how frightening that would be is devoid of imagination – it doesn’t matter what the man’s actual intention was – the woman’s not a mind reader is she??? ”

      By that same logic how was the man supposed to know what RW’s reaction would be? He can’t read minds and it is perfectly plausible that the man thought he wasn’t acting out of line and that RW would respond positively. I’m not condoning what he did, but I’m not condemning it either.

      • He sat at a table with Rebecca and others, for several hours, while the annoyance of being repeatedly propositioned was discussed. Does he need to be a mind reader to know whet her responce was going to be?

      • He was in the same bar with her all evening – he had opportunity if he wanted it to approach her in a friendly and sociable way and test the water – if he wasn’t bothered about speaking to her there why the sudden interest when she left?
        No, you’re right – he couldn’t read her mind,therefore he should have introduced himself, or got someone else to introduce him and then communicated with her using that handy tool “language” and if they got on alright he could have suggested going on somewhere.
        Instead he waited till she was trapped alone with him in a confined space to make overtures. This in itself represents a transgression, of manners, social boundaries – whatever you want to call it. In that situation how could Rebecca Watson know what other boundaries he was prepared to transgress. She couldn’t – that was my point, and anyone with any imagination can surely understand the fear attendant on being trapped alone with an individual whose behaviour is unpredictable, inappropriate and insulting.

  91. Look Rapists and other men who don’t care about their victim are not going to care about Rebecca’s plea. Harmless socially awkward men are also going to always exist.

    I am afraid her views here have just caused an unnecessary furore. I defend the right of men to continue to be idiots as I defend to right of women to tell them no.

    As I understand it this man didn’t push the point, he accepted that she was not interested and said no more about it. Was he inept and foolish? Yeah probably so. However considering how quickly he gave up on his idea I think he realised it soon enough.

    That someone feels fear when propositioned politely to a possible intimate encounter is a sad sign of the times. One shouldn’t be marked a subject of terror just because you’re crap at chatting people up.

    I accept Rebecca felt fearful here, I accept that unknowingly this man played some part. However most of that fear lied solely in Rebecca’s head created by other negative experiences in her life and they will haunt her again. It is likely this man won’t.

  92. “Harmless socially awkward men are also going to always exist.”
    I would certainly be interested in your explanation of why it is totally unacceptable to attempt to reduce men’s social awkwardness by giving them a mild suggestion about proper elevator manners. Is it because pointing out that this is an error causes them momentary embarrassment? I’m not sure I get why embarrassment which is “entirely in their heads” and the result of their “past bad experiences” of being humiliated is anybody’s else’s problem when you’ve made it clear you feel Rebecca’s fear is entirely her problem and doesn’t deserve any consideration from others.

  93. But what would Richard Dawkins do if he was in a lift with one other person?

    I have just found out.

    I was rereading an article in The Skeptic magazine Vol 31 #2, issued in June, about the Sydney TAM.
    The author Chris Higgins started by relating his experiences at the 2010 TAM 8 and his brush with fame with Richard Dawkins in an elevator.

    He wrote “I even got to rub shoulders with TAM 8 keynote speaker Richard Dawkins (although as we were the only two people in the elevator, he politely asked me not to stand so close to him.)”

    When I read the article first in early June I paid no attention to this bit of information but rereading it had a completely different effect, ie What the !!!!!

    I have to presume Higgins is accurate and not merely making stuff up to big note himself. Either way someone’s a big (or bigger) drongo.

    I wonder when the goose cooking recipes will appear on RDF.

  94. Apparently, if you’re not a mutilated Muslim woman, you shouldn’t be complaining about anything. Perhaps I’ll try out the Dawkins argument the next time my wife has an issue with something I’ve done…

  95. “John, people are free to do whatever the hell they want, just as I’m doing what I want. I write about what I think and do all the time, and I don’t demand that others follow suit. But hey, keep trying to twist what I wrote into some kind of organized campaign”

    This must be that sense of postmodern dichotomy or irony or something…

  96. “And while I think was probably just inept, he might have been a predator who decided it wasn’t a good time to strike. He might have been one of the people who’s threatened Rebecca but was too uncomfortable to act outside the security of his room. We don’t know, and neither did Rebecca.”

    Stranger danger…he may be a predator…did you know that most rapes are actually someone the victim knows right? And her fear in the elevator does not make saying this okay…

    • His behavior makes it OK. Sitting with Rebecca and a group at a table, for several hours, while the subject of how annoying it is to be repeatedly proppositioned was discussed, and not attempting to speak with her until he’d followed her to the elevator and the doors where closed. Then he propositioned her.

      Add to that the number of threats Rebecca recieves, and it’s reasonable.

      In any case, I was responding to the progresion of statements from “he’s probably socially awkward” to “he’s proven he’s socially awkward”, when nothing has been proven.

      • Did Skepchick say that the conversation around that table in the bar was about not wanting to be propositioned? Where and when did she say that?

        • “At the conference itself I spoke about how, basically about how I’m tired of being hit on, a lot, at conferences…
          Well that night I was at the hotel bar…until four in the morning at which point I said: You know what I’m exhausted and we’ve got another day of the conference left so I’m going to sleep.
          So, I got up and I left. And a man who had been amongst that group but who hadn’t previously said anything to me followed me onto the elevator, on my way back up to the room, and he said to me…”

          Rebecca Watson, SGU #312, about 35m mark

      • Did you watch the video of the event Skepchick was speaking at in Ireland before this elevator thing happened?

        She commented about the thousands of threats that Richard Dawkins gets – threats that he be killed and maimed and ass raped and all sorts of other threats of violence. She laughed about it, and referred to his hate mail as “hilarious.” Hers is something to take seriously, right? His is “hilarious.”

        Getting a whiff of hypocrisy, yet?

  97. By the way, Rebecca does not get threatened from what I have seen, so much as ridiculed for being postmodern, which makes sense given that their only strength so far has been manipulation and they constant bomb at scientific, social and civil concepts.

  98. I forgot threats, postmodern people are also in power because of their threats, and money left over from robbing Jews in Nazi ruled states….not kidding. You are morons. Period. You have never said or done anything of relevance, ever, and by continuing to talk in such a way all you do is prove this.

  99. Marchhare is the perfect example of clueless idiocy on this thred: And if a woman did it would you still call it misogyny? Whine, whine, whine, missing the point by a mile as well as ignoring what women say, what Rebecca said, in your rush to make the poor men of the world into the real victims here.

    She didn’t. She told all men to obey her personal creepiness limits, basically speaking for all women. She might be 99% right, but we don’t actually know that for a fact. It might turn out that men who proposition women in elevators and get turned down are the least likely to rape them, in which case the feeling of creepiness is totally unjustified, again, we don’t know but it has been declared creepy by fiat, or by ‘common sense’ – ’cause we all know how reliable that is.

    You know what? It’s been said over and over and over again, but; WOMEN CAN’T READ MINDS. IT WASN’T DECLARED BY FIAT FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

    So woman after woman has explained what life is like for women. Meanwhile, many other men—including you, by the way—have labeled this as being ‘misandrist’, or paranoid, or ‘speaking for all women’ or ‘issuing orders’ or what the fuck ever. But it boils down to: a lot of the guys here are trolls in real life and online life, too many men just want to tell women to shut up because the only opinion about our lives that matters to them is theirs, and that if a bunch of women at all different places on the globe have the same experience and tell you about it it’s all lies or paranoia or they’re just infringing on mens’ God-given right to be assholes to women, no matter if they’re violating womens’ rights by doing so.

    And that’s leaving out the guys who are going, “But we didn’t HEAR HIS SIDE. SHE’S LYING. SHE MADE IT UP.” These people frequently turn this guy into a shy nebbish who was just trying to be cute.

    But he ignored what she said at length, waited till the doors closed, and then he cold propositioned her for sex, obviously showing that he didn’t give a shit about her wants. She’d just talked about how she didn’t want to be harassed and hit on at conventions; what did he do? Yeah, that’s right. She’d just said she was tired and going to bed. What did he do? Yeah, that’s right. He ignored everything she said she wanted or didn’t want because that didn’t matter to him.

    What too too many guys are doing here are siding with the guy, or making excuses for him, or justifying his actions—-by calling Rebecca a liar and other things. You know what? I think she’s smart enough to tell a really good whopper if she was going to, not this tidbit that she dismissed in thirty seconds, but which has so aroused men to a fury. The point is, she and many other women have explained this over and over again, and it boils down to dozens of men telling women to STFU, we don’t want to listen to you till you say what we want to hear, which just boils down to: “Yes, I’ll sleep with you.” And that’s all they want to hear, and they will listen to nothing else without emitting squeals of porcine rage over OMG it’s just like racism!

    Rebecca flat out told men, in effect, that their unthinking lack of consideration is a pain, and it’s counter productive even though women like to get laid, too. This aroused such fury that it essentially proved Rebecca and every other woman who’s gone through right. This guy didn’t respect her feelings, and the guy who are shrieking about it aren’t either. And she’s not asking for a pint of blood or a kidney donation, just for men to give the tiniest bit of a shit about thinking about a woman before you open up your mouth and make a pass at her.

    For too many of the men here, that was just offensive, which is why they’re attacking her for things she didn’t say, or accusing her of having various ludicrous powers. It’d be funny if it weren’t so typical.

      • “He didn’t ask her for sex. He asked her for coffee.”

        Too. Stupid. To. Live. Luckily, and to breed as well.

        John Greg, you’re patronizing me and telling me what your opinion is of womens’ lives. I HAVE read the posts and the vast majority are by whiny assholes who whine about Watson and say how mean and cru—-Oh, yeah, like you’re doing. And us wimmens is too stupid to understand that we need mens’ brains to decide what really happened to us.

        Anybody who compares this to racism is a moron. Being asked to be the tiniest bit considerate and then being called on your arrogant dismissal of large numbers of women as liars, hysterics—basically your entire screed about Watson—–is a tiny thing. Just don’t be asshole. And yet you arrogantly assert that your opinion, is right, mine is wrong. Because I assert my opinion, I’m wrong and you’re right. Doesn’t work that way, sparky. No man gets to tell me what my opinion is or how to interpret events in it.

        It really frosts some guys’ shorts that women are refusing to accept mens’ benevolent excuses for other mens’ bullshit—-and naming and defining those things for themselves.

        • Actually, it seems to frost women’s panties that men aren’t caving in to the ridiculous statement that being asked for coffee and conversation in an elevator (even if that means sex) means “something happened” to the delicate Ms. Watson.

          I give her far more credit than that.

    • ginmar, if you can read my comments and see sexism, or anti-Watson-ism, then you are, at best, selectively reading what I wrote.

      Take your blinkers off and read this… Watson’s reaction was natural but irrational. Like many we have, and should therefore be understandable and people with empathy should be less willing to put people in situations where the natural reaction is one of discomfort or awkwardness. (Despite the fact that at a sceptics conference we should perhaps be less tolerant of irrational reactions!) This applies to men and women, both sexes are not happy being given an inescapable situation where you have to reject someone.

      Rebecca was justified in saying she didn’t like it, but in no way was allowed to speak for all females without evidence – she’s at a sceptic’s conference, remember? Even though she is very likely right in the majority of cases, without evidence she can’t declare it by fiat. While it may simply have been a linguistic or semantic thing she would have been entirely correct to say that if conference dwellers (for that is their name) want more women to go they should treat women with respect and dignity (and safety and comfort) regardless of their personal wishes, desires, or general feelings that those requests are irrational.

      The whole point of asking if it’s misogynistic if a woman does it is to point out that an unwelcome act against a person doesn’t magically become misogynistic if it’s against a particular gender, but it’s still a disrespectful act. Christ, it’s like walking of frigging eggshells on this topic.

    • Ginmar, please allow me to show one error in your thinking:

      Rebecca: Guys, don’t do that, it’s creepy.

      me: She told all men to obey her personal creepiness limits, basically speaking for all women. She might be 99% right, but we don’t actually know that for a fact. […] we don’t know but it has been declared creepy by fiat, or by ‘common sense’ – ’cause we all know how reliable that is.

      You: WOMEN CAN’T READ MINDS. IT WASN’T DECLARED BY FIAT FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

      Seems to me that Rebecca has declared it by fiat. And I’m not disagreeing that many, probably even the vast majority, of women (people) would find this behaviour creepy, but Rebecca took it upon herself to speak for all women, she made a blanket statement with no facts just a personal experience and common sense. She’s probably correct but we don’t get to be rationalists or sceptics and accept comment sense as fact.

      We also don’t get to be rationalists and accept irrational behaviour as normal without challenging it. If it turns out people are weirded out by situations that turn out to be completely benign then we should challenge the social norms associated with them, even if they are biological in basis. If you don’t agree with this then stop criticising religion, psychics or any of the other things you dispute. Obviously it could turn out that many of these situations are statistically dangerous and the reaction is perfectly understandable, but we do this using evidence, not common sense.

    • Note: men are not good at mind-reading either. Therefore, we do not know what your creepiness or discomfort factor is. Being asked for coffee and conversation at a conference that is all about conversation, after leaving a bar at 4am, does not seem to me to be anywhere near a point where someone is justifiably threatened or bothered. At most, it deserves being called clumsy and dopey, perhaps impertinent. But, not more than that.

      My objection was not the initial recommendation that men not do this – sort of “dating advice from Skepchick.” My objection was to its immediate turn to “sexual objectification” (which “don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you interesting and would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my room for coffee?” simply isn’t) and “misogyny” (which it also isn’t) and then it spun wildly into “trauma” “harassment” “threats” and then on down to every man is Schrodinger’s Rapist to a woman in this situation.

      It spun out into something it wasn’t, and it is now being presented in a manner thusly: If men do not agree that a woman being asked for coffee and conversation in an elevator is beyond the pale, misogyny, threatening to a woman, sexual objectifies her and is emblematic of anti-feminism, then we “don’t get it” and are “exercising male privilege” and we are just plain old misogynists, etc. etc. etc.

      We aren’t. The conduct in the elevator wasn’t. And, whether she felt uncomfortable or not, the elevator guy really didn’t do anything that bad – at most it was bad timing and a clumsy attempt to bed her. In it’s best light, he was just being nice and she took it the wrong way. Either way – in its best or worst light – it was a big nothing, and any women that considers THAT to be misogyny, sexual objectification, etc. is basically acting in puerile and fatuous manner herself. Grow the hell up, I say. You’re 27 years old, and if you can’t take some dork asking you for coffee and taking no for an answer, you’re going to have a lot of difficulty getting through life.

  100. ginmar, aside from your self-confirmation bias showing, you basically have missed the important point that most of the fury (on the “anti-Watson” side) is not directed ay Watson’s comments regarding men’s so-called lack of consideration.
    .
    As a matter of fact, if you spend some careful time reading all of the comments here and at various other sites around the ‘net, you will see that the vast majority of commentors actually agree that she is quite within her personal rights to feel offended, uncomfortable, and so forth. The “fury” arises over other issues, in particular, her unwarranted assumptions, her amazingly disrespectful treatment of others, her lack of respect for dissenting opinion, and so on.
    .
    Also, a careful reading of the ‘net will show that by far the majority of the more furious folks, those who are most prone to such wise expressions of critical thinking and skepticism as “fuck off”, “shut up”, “you’re too stupid to breathe”, and so on, come from the Watson support group.
    .
    And, irony of ironies, it is this group of so-called skeptics and critical thinkers, including the Grand Dame herself, that is showing such complete support for anecdote as evidence.
    .
    And you, ginmar, are a prime example, among so many, of a supporter accepting anecdote as evidence, simply because it comes from Watson. You entertain absolutely no doubt that all of her assumptions are valid; you express no doubt or question that she just might possibly have misread EG’s intent — as if any of us really have any supportable idea at all what EG’s actual intent was.
    .
    It is only a very, very small minority who are actually calling Watson a liar — yes, some are questioning her veracity, but only a few.
    .
    The majority of the more sane, even-handed, and relevant “fury” is directed at Watson’s (and Myers’s, Marcotte’s, et al) groundless, so far as we as second-hand observers know, assumptions, her handling of the “Stef affair”, her immature word games, condescension, and profound arrogance, her utter disdain for dissent, her complete disregard of anyone who does not support her completely, and her tacit and implicit support of the utterly ludicrous boycott of all things Dawkins.
    .
    For the most part, Watson is the skeptical communities Paris Hilton, and like Hilton she is playing her PR skills for all she’s worth.
    .
    I used to have a lot of respect for Watson. This blog introduced me to a lot of feminist issues I was heretofore unaware of; it opened my eyes and my mind. But over the last while it has become blatantly apparent that Watson’s primary concern is most certainly not equality feminism, no, her primary concerns are self-promotion, shaming rather than dialoguing with folks with whom she disagrees, evangilising her personal feminist ideology as though it were universal, ignoring or dismissing any dissent, and so forth.
    .
    How someone who has proven herself to be so uninterested in dialogue, legitimate debate, and respect for others who hold different opinions has gained such respect is something of a mystery — ah, but then, that raving sexist hate-filled loon Marcotte also has myriad followers, so there you go, the world works in mysterious ways.

    • Hi there! I used to really enjoy your comments when you were Sic Pre Fix! I would enjoy talking to you in a relaxed and friendly fashion.

      But how can you have any credibility when you hang out with all the Skepchick enemies, such as Rystefyn at ERV? I mean, his betrayal of real friendship at Skepchick was the action of an absolute arrogant prick – and he himself would tell you so.

      I mean I get the performance art angle and taking the piss out of Rebecca, yep, takes one to know one, but there were innocents hurt as well.

      In my religion, isofarasIhaveany, friendship is a sacred thing.

      Furthermore, the others that you hang out with there seem to be… how shall I put this… pretty “damaged” and with serious “chips on their shoulder”.

      I would rather hang out here, despite the (agreed) shortcomings you mention,where things are pretty easygoing usually – it’s a good community – and at Phil Plait’s site (he is a true gentleman and a scholar in my view) whereas with Abbie I would get an ulcer in a week – and no disrespect there either, just not my style.

      So, This little dog is gonna just keep on yapping as long as it takes and will keep on and on for weeks or months or years or decades if necessary, in order to defend my home territory.

      You know what is so frustrating? If we met in real life over a beer we would probably come to some kind of consensus in about half an hour.

  101. Yes asking men and others to stop being idiots has always worked. Wait a minute no it never has.

    The culture and society we live in dictates the bounds of decency and the confines within it OK to do certain things. Sometimes stepping slightly outside these boundaries is the only way to get an advantage. However if at that point you realise that the person feel it is inappropriate you stop. However clumsily this is what this guy did nothing more nothing less.

    We can go into conjecture about the myriad of things that were going on inside his head. However I suspect given the circumstances he was hoping for a bunk-up and summarily denied. If his experience here doesn’t make him change his behaviour not any amount of whining by Rebecca will.

    • “The culture and society we live in dictates the bounds of decency and the confines within it OK to do certain things. Sometimes stepping slightly outside these boundaries is the only way to get an advantage. However if at that point you realise that the person feel it is inappropriate you stop.”
      I don’t think I’ve ever read a better explanation of the persistence of immorality. Knowing what the social bounds of decency are, knowing it is not okay to do something, a person goes ahead and does it anyway in the hopes of getting an advantage. Because while all those rules may be just fine for everybody else, they are special and deserve an exemption.

  102. Another thing.

    I am sick of people living in the safest society ever walking around constantly fearing those around them.

    Not every guy that chats you up is a potential rapist.

    Not every man who smiles at you child is a pedo.

    Not every young man in baggy jeans is going to mug you.

    We buy into media hype to such a degree we have become our own terrorists. Violent crime is lower than ever and the rate of sexually motivated crime on children and adults has remained almost unchanged for something like 40 years.

    Walking around living in fear does more harm to the average person than violent crime does. Thankfully being a victim of such a terrible thing is still relatively rare.

    • no. not everyone is going to hurt me and rape me

      It’s just the one that is going to that I have to worry about..or should I say the -next- one that is going to. Because…if 1 in six women are raped..and god knows that’s argued to be a conservative estimate..I know that -all- of my female friends have had a sexual assault of some kind be it groping or intimidation or even rape..

      SOMEONE is doing all of those things.

      And until you can make them wear a name tag and a fucking threat meter on them?

      I’m going to be wary. I’m going to be cautious. I’m going to be safe.

      And if you think that I shouldn’t? then I want you to go to every woman in your life and ask them about how many men made them uncomfortable. How many touched them, pressured them. Ask them if they have ever been assaulted.

      Then we’ll talk.

    • Men’s opinions are no less valuable or worthwhile than women’s opinions. Moreover, just because men voice an opinion doesn’t mean they “think they know it all,” at least not to any greater degree than women “think they know it all.”

      And, there have been women who have not agreed with Skepchick and sided with Dawkins.

  103. I just returned from my first TAM and had no idea this was a undercurrent to the weekend. These posts put new light on Desiree Schell’s description of the necessary extremist in any social movement. Dawkins is that, the necessary extremist in his arrogance toward any non-skeptic. His role is to shock, then leave the debate to moderates. Unfortunately, the shock attack has become his first response to any non-adoring interaction. His social judgment has calcified.
    I can still respect and learn from the mind that expresses our atheist views so clearly. For the rest, he’s a cautionary tale of the dangers of viewing the world from a pedestal and surrounding yourself with minions.
    As one of the feminists from the ’60’s, we struggled for a world where our daughters didn’t have to call themselves feminists to claim equal rights. How disappointing that, while such clear regard was being shown for the women speakers in the ballroom, the kids were out in the hall fighting over who looked at who funny.

  104. This has nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with blaming people for things they did not do, to push postmodern fascism down our throats that we can be told how to think, even on women’s rights, which postmodern people would love to get their grubby mitts on, so they blame modernization any way they can. You people sicken me…

  105. Not only did the guy not ask for sex, HE DID NOT OBJECTIFY HER, he asked to talk with her after hearing her speak at a conference. The real confusion should be why a postmodern was speaking a conference that didn’t have to do with bigfoot.

    You don’t see people saying those types of things to modern feminists, do you?

  106. This was meant to blame people for being perverse, when in reality the perversion is all yours.

    And privilidged? Dawkins and modern society thrives on accomplishment and ability, not on power and money earned by Nazi Germany…or better yet, by manipulating ideas modern feminists and modern scientists created.

    GTFO of planet Earth.

  107. This bitch knew she could get people angry about this situation, so she manipulated it into saying some people don’t care about the sexual objectification of women, WHEN SHE WAS NOT SEXUALLY OBJECTIFIED, AND SHE KNOWS IT.

    This is just a way to blame people she doesn’t like for such a thing, probably because she wants Dawkins to fuck her so she can be a real celebrity or pro…

    This does not disprove she cares about women’s rights, but does prove people follow postmodernity way to seriously and closely and are willing to play along with anything, instead of using their minds to analyze what happened.

    Yes, you do not know for sure ladies that he was coming onto her, and even if he was, IT WAS AFTER HEARING HER TALK, NOT BECAUSE HE SAW HER AS TWO BOOBS AND A HOLE.

  108. WHICH IS STILL TECHNICALLY ONLY WRONG BECAUSE OF THE WAY WOMEN ARE TREATED IN SOCIETY AND THE MEDIA, NOT BECAUSE THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH SEX OR JUST WANTING SEX.

    When do we stop talking about otters and start talking about real problems, specifically the ones postmodern people are creating, and on top of the fact postmodern manipulation of a subject so they can steal it away from world?

    Another problem here is you can’t call Rebecca Watson a manipulator for doing this because she is a woman…

    GUILTY

    GUILTY

    GUILTY

    Watson is GUILTY

    All this shows is that people are too stupid to look around and question things.

  109. Rebecca, surely you must admit that it is irrational to disregard everything someone has to say because of one thing you don’t like about them. And that’s exactly what you’re doing to Richard Dawkins. The fact that you’re not formally calling for a boycott doesn’t matter. All it takes is one person to be irrational, and you’re doing a fine job of it.

    • “Rebecca, surely you must admit that it is irrational to disregard everything someone has to say because of one thing you don’t like about them. And that’s exactly what you’re doing to Richard Dawkins. The fact that you’re not formally calling for a boycott doesn’t matter. All it takes is one person to be irrational, and you’re doing a fine job of it.”

      Dawkins made it very clear that his issues are important and Rebecca’s are not. She merely reponded in kind. Well, not in kind, ’cause she wasn’t nearly as snotty as he was.

    • Why do you care if she never reads Dawkins again? or if I do..or if the ..dozens or lets be gracious and say -hundreds- of people never read him again?

      Why do you feel like you have to come in here and defend him and tell us how irrational we’re being?