Feminism

Dawkins Overflow Thread

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.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

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

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663 Comments

  1. July 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm —

    Does the elevator thingy really need more comments?

    Can’t we just discuss baby otters instead?

    • July 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm —

      “Baby otters” is an acceptable topic for this thread, yes.

      • July 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm —

        Well in that case..

        Otters are my favorite aquatic mammal.. People are all ooouh dolphins are sooo smart without even considering the Otters at all. Dolphins don’t even use tools (Otters use rocks to smash open shells, and they don’t make that annoying squeaking sound).

        In Norwegian mythology there was a Dwarf named Òtr. He was a shapeshifter and could turn into *anything*, but usually he changed into an Otter (because Otters are awesome).

        I once met an Otter, it got really pissed off and wanted to eat my dog.. It was great, much better than swimming with dolphins I would imagine

      • July 12, 2011 at 12:01 am —

        baby otters are cute.

        every time you disrespect a woman, Jen McCreight kills a baby otter.

      • July 12, 2011 at 2:45 am —

        How can anyone say that otters are unrelated to Richard Dawkins and infighting amongst atheists? Haven’t you seen South Park?

        “Know this, time child! I shall smash your skull like a clam on my tummy!”

    • July 13, 2011 at 6:50 am —

      Aw, baby otters… So cute!

    • December 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm —

      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! :)

  2. July 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm —

    LOOK AT THIS PICTURE OF A KITTEN CUDDLING A PUPPY!!!

    http://cute-n-tiny.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/cat-dog-cuddle.jpg

    • July 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm —

      (Intended as a humorous reference to a comment on the “Dear Richard Dawkins” post.)

    • July 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm —

      Otters, kittens, and puppies, oh my!

    • December 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm —

      Looks like that cat is gearing up to rip the dog’s face off! :)

  3. July 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm —

    ‘An Otter’s Story’ was one of the earliest books I remember taking out of my school library when I was in 2nd grade, and I re-read it several times thereafter.

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/245861.An_Otter_s_Story

    I love otters.

  4. July 11, 2011 at 3:30 pm —

    Let get on an otter topic. ha.. ha.. an otter.. another.. anotter.. yeah.. it’s funny right?

    • July 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm —

      I laughed so hard milk squished out my nose.

      Of course I was thinking about something else at the time, but they say that timing is everything in comedy, so it’s all good.

  5. July 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm —

    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”

  6. July 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm —

    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

    • July 11, 2011 at 10:52 pm —

      I loved this book. Read mostly animal books before I got into sci-fi/fantasy.
      The movie wasn’t bad, but not nearly as good as the book.

      At the time I also read How to Spank a Porcupine and Born Free

    • July 12, 2011 at 10:47 pm —

      Yeah, my mother also gave me that book 40 years ago, it was great. Still have it somewhere, must read again. Thanks for calming, beautiful memories amidst recent sturm und drang.

  7. July 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm —

    This is dated, but anyone remember the Bloom County comic strip where Opus posts a personal ad looking for “svelte, bouyant water fowl”?

    • July 11, 2011 at 8:23 pm —

      I remember Opus trying to fly with a hang glider: Low, I am one with the air. Oh rapture!

      Fwomp!

      Milo Bloom: Are you one with the ground, oh raptous one?

      Opus: Low! I am ruptured!

  8. July 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm —

    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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm —

      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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm —

        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.

      • July 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm —

        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.

      • September 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm —

        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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm —

      “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?

      • July 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm —

        Perhaps you could answer the legitimate, if slightly snarky, questions in his earlier post rather than just try to shame him?

        • July 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm —

          I assumed s/he didn’t want an answer to those questions since s/he doesn’t want the discussion to continue. And also because the answer is ridiculously obvious.

          • July 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm

            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?

          • July 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm

            Where did I encourage a boycott?

          • July 11, 2011 at 6:07 pm

            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?
            .

          • July 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 6:27 pm

            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?

          • July 11, 2011 at 6:35 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm

            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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm

            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.

          • July 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm

            “the answer is obvious”

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

          • July 15, 2011 at 7:51 am

            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.

        • July 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm —

          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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 6:50 pm

            Where did I deny I have influence?

          • July 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm

            The previous should follow your following — if that’s not clear.

          • July 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm

            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.
            .

          • July 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm

            Where did I deny the power of my influence?

          • July 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm

            Ah, so the new definition of “word games” is now “asking someone to fairly represent one’s actual words.”

          • July 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm

            “Have a nice gamey day.”

            Thank you but I’m a vegetarian.

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:55 pm

            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?

          • July 12, 2011 at 9:04 am

            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?

          • July 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm

            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.

          • July 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm

            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.

        • July 11, 2011 at 10:48 pm —

          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.

        • July 11, 2011 at 11:24 pm —

          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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm

            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.

          • July 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

            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?

          • September 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm

            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”.

    • July 12, 2011 at 11:56 am —

      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]).

      • July 12, 2011 at 5:31 pm —

        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?

    • September 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm —

      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?

  9. July 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm —

    New Rule: Every time someone comments on this topic, FSM smacks a baby otter.

  10. July 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm —

    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.

  11. July 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm —

    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.

  12. July 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm —

    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

  13. July 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm —

    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.

  14. July 11, 2011 at 5:32 pm —

    ” 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.

  15. July 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm —

    @Faith & @B Hitt: Thanks!

    • July 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm —

      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

      • July 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm —

        Actually, no: I used to think that people within this community weren’t a threat. Then I started getting the threats and the “compliments” describing what they wanted to do to me.

        • July 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm —

          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

      • July 11, 2011 at 11:21 pm —

        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!

  16. July 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm —

    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.

    • July 20, 2011 at 2:33 pm —

      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.

  17. July 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm —

    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

  18. July 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm —

    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

    • July 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm —

      I don’t know, I don’t recall (there have been a lot of comments). Generally I delete anything that’s obviously trollish or anything that was asked & answered 100 times in the thread.

      • July 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm —

        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?

  19. July 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm —

    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.

  20. July 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm —

    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

  21. July 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm —

    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?

    • July 11, 2011 at 6:52 pm —

      “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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm —

        Good point about charm.

        I agree, the whole “cornering you in the elevator” thing was out of line.

      • July 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm —

        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.

        • September 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm —

          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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm —

      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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm —

        Bad proof-reading. Grrrr.

        It should read: “Honestly, I don’t know what’s so hard for a lot of people to get about ‘when approaching a woman, always leave her an exit’….”

      • July 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm —

        “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.

        • July 11, 2011 at 7:40 pm —

          “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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 8:41 pm

            @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 ?

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:02 pm

            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.”

          • July 11, 2011 at 11:13 pm

            @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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm

            “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?

          • July 12, 2011 at 6:45 pm

            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. :)

        • July 11, 2011 at 10:43 pm —

          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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 9:36 am —

          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.

          • July 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm

            “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.) :)

    • July 11, 2011 at 11:25 pm —

      Fuck. More embarrassment. Do you people even think before you post?

      No. Good looking men aren’t entitled to do whatever they want with a woman.

  22. July 11, 2011 at 7:11 pm —

    Someone who’s strikingly handsome that acts like an asshole can very quickly becaome ugly.

  23. July 11, 2011 at 7:11 pm —

    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.

  24. July 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm —

    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.

  25. July 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm —

    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.

  26. July 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm —

    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?

    • July 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm —

      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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 11:55 pm —

        Let’s play ‘name that logical fallacy’. My vote is Moving the Goal Post.

    • July 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm —

      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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm —

        Petryxx: “It’s quite clear that selfishness in a sexual context tends to be gendered;”

        Uhhh… I don’t understand this sentence. Can you pls. explain.

        • July 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm —

          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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 8:20 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm

            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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm —

        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.

        • July 15, 2011 at 1:06 am —

          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)

      • July 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm —

        So what was the cultural pattern that it fits? That if you ask a person out awkwardly, then you intend to trap them under a glass ceiling? Are you sure?

  27. July 11, 2011 at 7:39 pm —

    Stirling who cares what it’s called. Has Rebecca got to define it exactly to justify making a request in a video for people not to do it?

    • July 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm —

      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.

  28. July 11, 2011 at 7:41 pm —

    rostram, what’s wrong with asking people to be considerate?

    • July 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm —

      Nothing.

      Except if someone is inconsiderate, does that mean they are a sexist and an objectificationist?

  29. July 11, 2011 at 7:46 pm —

    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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm —

      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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm —

        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.

        • July 11, 2011 at 10:39 pm —

          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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm —

        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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 4:08 am —

          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.

        • August 18, 2011 at 4:43 am —

          With the exception of sex clubs or swingers parties it’s never alright to make an “advance” if you’ve only just met the person! That is, if by “advance” you mean “sexual advance”!

    • July 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm —

      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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm —

        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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 3:19 am —

      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.

  30. July 11, 2011 at 7:47 pm —

    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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm —

      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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm —

        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.

        • July 11, 2011 at 8:50 pm —

          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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:00 pm

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

      • July 11, 2011 at 8:13 pm —

        Now I’m curious. Do you think you have an obligation to be considerate to other people? Or that they have a right to considerate treatment?

        • July 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm —

          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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm

            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.

        • July 11, 2011 at 8:57 pm —

          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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm

            Actually when I used the term “obligated” I was quoting you. So yeah.

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:09 pm

            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?

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm

            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”.

    • July 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm —

      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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 9:08 pm —

        YEs but But not to a stanger in a raoe scenario. All Rebecca is asking is to be aware and not do that.

      • July 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm —

        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”.

        • July 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm —

          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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm

            Just don’t sexualise somone in a rape scenario but being aware that’s what it is.

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:42 pm

            oops :”by being aware that’s what it is”

          • July 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm

            “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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 3:28 am

            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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 6:48 am

            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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

            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?

        • July 12, 2011 at 3:55 am —

          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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 4:01 am

            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.

          • July 13, 2011 at 12:07 am

            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.

          • July 13, 2011 at 2:58 am

            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.

  31. July 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm —

    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/

  32. July 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm —

    emitc2h, again I don’t think the simple request has to be defined as etiquette or a moral judgement. It’s just a fairly obvious simple request.

  33. July 11, 2011 at 8:13 pm —

    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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 8:29 pm —

      Out of curiosity katharos, how do you find this misogynism expresses itself?

    • July 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm —

      Why do you feel more “vulnerable”? I would think they would be the least of the sort that would pester women.

      Could it be you just don’t like geeky men and look down on them?

      • July 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm —

        I think they used to say that about catholic preists didn’t they. Rapists and assailants are oportunists from every walk of life.

  34. July 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm —

    I think it’s better to address it because you can’t have half a community uncomfortable just because they don’t have a penis.

  35. July 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm —

    I think it’s better to address it because you can’t have half a community who are unnecessarily uncomfortable.

  36. July 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm —

    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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm —

        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 :)

        • July 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm —

          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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm

            “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?

          • July 12, 2011 at 8:09 am

            Who are they more promiscuous with then, rubber dollies :)

          • July 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm

            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.

  37. July 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm —

    Ooooops, I am on moderation now. What did I do wrong RW?

    That I said sexual differences are biological?

    I would appreciate a hint.

    • July 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm —

      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.

      • July 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm —

        “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.

        • July 11, 2011 at 9:26 pm —

          OMG are you seriously arguing that men “hunger for sex every day” and women don’t? Is that what you’re saying?

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm

            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?

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:42 pm
          • July 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 11:34 pm

            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.

        • July 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm —

          (I’ll let others deal with your confusion over sex vs gender.)

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:44 pm

            rostam that he’s chauvanist is obvious without reading Rebeccas writingd :) Lol

        • July 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm —

          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?

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:39 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm

            Cnsider your self corrected :)

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:47 pm

            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”!

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:49 pm

            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

          • July 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm

            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!

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:02 pm

            @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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm

            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!

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm

            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.

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm

            Since you’ve asked, please spend a minute or two reading http://blog.a-mindful-human.com/ask-questions-first-attack-second to see one possibility.

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:30 pm

            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!

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:39 pm

            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?

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm

            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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm

            “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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 3:44 pm

            What a weird typo. Want YOU to leave US alone.

  38. July 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm —

    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.

  39. July 11, 2011 at 9:41 pm —

    Oh, and otters! There’s a great otter exhibit at the High Desert Museum south of Bend, Oregon. I can watch ’em all day.

    http://www.highdesertmuseum.org/exhibits/Wildlife/Autzen_Otter_Exhibit/

    • July 12, 2011 at 4:01 am —

      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.

  40. July 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm —

    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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm —

      Cultural gender messages start here

      http://shop.mattel.com/category/index.jsp?categoryId=4213484

      So raised with polarized gender we genderise everything. Sex is an art not a science and what science there is strats with big prsumptions about sexuality as the studies are being constructed. The science of the mind is incomplete so to claim gender and sexual differences are all proven is rediculous.

      Hers a grrat sire about sexuality to educate you http://dodsonandross.com/

      • July 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm —

        blissed, this is supposed to be skeptical blog. Pls. take your pseudo-science elsewhere. It does not belong here.

        • July 11, 2011 at 10:21 pm —

          Unfortunately the good feminism often gets tainted by association with the wishful thinking feminism. Feminism is very important, but it needs to be reality based.

          • July 11, 2011 at 10:27 pm

            “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people” that’s it really.

        • July 11, 2011 at 10:26 pm —

          How is me saying that studies intio sexuality are flawed because of cultural bias, The study of the mind is very incomplete, and like quanyifying art, sex and it;’s emotional complexities are best comunicatedd as a personal experience that’s diverce. Just like chatting is a better way to get to know someone than getting them to fill in a questionaire :)

  41. July 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm —

    Rebecca Watson is awesome :)
    Baby otters also awesome:)

  42. July 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm —

    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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 10:36 pm —

      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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 10:40 pm —

      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?

      • July 11, 2011 at 11:26 pm —

        Yes, one is empirical, and the other rational.

        Heh – never said “proof”.

        Obviously you are confused – confusing “proof” with “proving”.

        You do know the difference between a “proof” and “to prove” is, don’t you?

        • July 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm —

          And I never put forward the thesis you said I had yet to prove.

          Do you enjoy being obtuse?

    • July 11, 2011 at 11:07 pm —

      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.

  43. July 11, 2011 at 10:14 pm —

    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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm —

      “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?

      • July 12, 2011 at 5:30 pm —

        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.

  44. July 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm —

    Somehow, this situation reminds me of the parties lined up behind their candidates in the Hillary/Obama primary.

    • July 11, 2011 at 11:07 pm —

      Ooooh Obama is a much much better choice fopr president than Hillary, Much rather see a lady president who hasn’t been the husband of anyone famous.

      • July 11, 2011 at 11:14 pm —

        I like Hillary though just think Obama was the better choice.

        Actually I dobn’t think anyone cares about that :) I’m going to bed. Night everyone! :)

  45. July 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm —

    This thing has to work itself through until people are aware.

  46. July 11, 2011 at 10:50 pm —

    I’ve read this a few time already. Don’t proposition a women in a rape scenario!

    WTF, i don’t since I’m not a rapist, therefore it’s never a rape scenario!

    • July 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm —

      “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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 4:22 am —

        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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 9:39 am —

          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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm

            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

        • July 15, 2011 at 2:30 am —

          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?”

  47. July 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm —

    Rostam, may I ask what country/ slash culture you are writing from?

    • July 12, 2011 at 10:11 am —

      I think it’s painfully obvious that Rostam lives under a bridge and is just waiting for the billy goats to come along.

      • July 13, 2011 at 12:32 am —

        Yes, I was trying to be charitable, and thought maybe he was from a, lets say (Not being PC here)a less educated society. But clearly he lives under a bridge and needs to stay there.

  48. July 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm —

    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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm —

      Sorry that’s a reply to annata

      • July 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm —

        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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 3:26 am —

          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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 4:22 am —

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think anyone is saying EG should be arrested or sanctioned.

          Just don’t be EG, if you give half a shit about the people around you.

  49. July 11, 2011 at 11:09 pm —

    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.

  50. July 11, 2011 at 11:14 pm —

    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.

  51. July 11, 2011 at 11:22 pm —

    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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 11:30 pm —

      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.

    • July 11, 2011 at 11:39 pm —

      I agree that Dawkins is dead wrong about this.

      This does not imply that he is therefore dead wrong about everything.

  52. July 12, 2011 at 12:38 am —

    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.”

  53. July 12, 2011 at 1:45 am —

    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?

    • July 12, 2011 at 3:40 am —

      This Border Collie will happily take a different elevator at 4am to stop somebody being scared of me.

      N.B I Get It

      (Maybe we could start wearing “I GET IT” badges?)

      • July 12, 2011 at 5:36 am —

        You’re like a Border Collie Uncle Tom!

        Aw, but I can’t stay mad at you. Who’s a good boy? Who is? YOU ARE!

        • July 12, 2011 at 10:52 pm —

          LOL :) Woof!

          We may be on opposie sides of the ideological divide, but maybe if you read the first post by Rift on Phil Plait’s site, and here, you may begin to get it too.

    • July 12, 2011 at 4:00 am —

      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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 5:19 am —

        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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 11:46 am —

          “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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm

            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?

          • July 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm

            “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?

    • July 12, 2011 at 6:09 am —

      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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 9:44 am —

      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.

    • July 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm —

      “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.

  54. July 12, 2011 at 1:55 am —

    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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 9:23 am —

      “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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm —

        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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm —

          *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.

          • July 13, 2011 at 2:40 am

            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.

        • July 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm —

          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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm —

        Apologies! I misspelled your name! Sethra. : )

    • July 15, 2011 at 2:53 am —

      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.

  55. July 12, 2011 at 1:56 am —

    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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 2:51 am —

      They are all quite dead, and as such can no longer be reasoned with.

    • July 12, 2011 at 8:12 am —

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

      Wagner died in 1883. Nazi indeed.

  56. July 12, 2011 at 2:59 am —

    Good point. I for one have stopped endorsing the theory of evolution as a consequence of Dawkins’s actions.

  57. July 12, 2011 at 3:34 am —

    Otters will smash our skulls like clams on their tummies.

  58. July 12, 2011 at 3:35 am —

    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.

  59. July 12, 2011 at 3:56 am —

    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?

  60. July 12, 2011 at 4:09 am —

    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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 10:52 am —

      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

      • July 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm —

        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”.

        • July 15, 2011 at 7:30 pm —

          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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm —

        “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.

  61. July 12, 2011 at 4:28 am —

    “(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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 5:13 am —

      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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 5:30 am —

        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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 10:21 am —

          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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm —

      “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.

  62. July 12, 2011 at 6:09 am —

    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 ;-)

  63. July 12, 2011 at 7:34 am —

    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?

  64. July 12, 2011 at 8:03 am —

    @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

    • July 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm —

      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?

  65. July 12, 2011 at 8:32 am —

    [size=150][b]This isn’t complicated [/b][/size]

  66. July 12, 2011 at 8:37 am —

    -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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 9:29 am —

      flarrgunstow – yep, that sums it up pretty neatly.

    • July 12, 2011 at 9:44 am —

      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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 10:58 am —

        Since there isn’t a ‘like’ button, this is mine. Thanks for one of the most reasonable and intelligent responses to this debate.

      • July 12, 2011 at 11:05 am —

        “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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 9:52 pm —

        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.

        • July 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm —

          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.

      • July 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm —

        I kinda have a massive logic crush on you right now.

        Thank you so so much for this post.

    • July 15, 2011 at 7:39 pm —

      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.

  67. July 12, 2011 at 9:15 am —

    This incident needs an FAQ for the people that just heard about it and want to jump in with their unique insight… that has already been brought up 100 times.

    • July 12, 2011 at 9:49 am —

      And a ‘Like’ button for posts I want to say ‘ditto’ or ‘couldn’t have said it better in fewer words myself’.

      I also want a ‘Flame War comment thread read: Achievement Unlocked’ trophy for reading every comment in the thread. ;)

  68. July 12, 2011 at 10:09 am —

    (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.)

  69. July 12, 2011 at 10:25 am —

    This whole thing has become otterly ridiculous.

    Sorry, I had to go there.

  70. July 12, 2011 at 11:13 am —

    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.

    • July 15, 2011 at 3:06 am —

      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.

  71. July 12, 2011 at 11:15 am —

    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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 11:49 am —

      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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm —

      “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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm —

        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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm —

          “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.”

  72. July 12, 2011 at 11:41 am —

    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.

    • July 13, 2011 at 12:17 am —

      Love your work Cognoggin!
      How about “Bash The Bishop” badges, Surly Amy! :)

  73. July 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm —

    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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm —

      “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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm —

        “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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm —

          I would say the proper thing to do might be to try talking with her for a little while. It may become clear that you aren’t going to get any, but maybe you’ll make a new friend.

          • July 13, 2011 at 12:02 am

            Talking to someone for a minute? Getting to know them a little bit? Craziness!

    • July 12, 2011 at 7:25 pm —

      “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.

  74. July 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm —

    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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm —

      “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*

      • July 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm —

        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”

        • July 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm —

          Am sensing the opportunity for cash flow here.
          SurlyAmy – is it too late to get a truckload of “Don’t Be Creepy” necklaces for TAM?

          • July 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm

            And conversely, a bunch of “Creepy” necklaces (or buttons) that can be worn or handed out?

          • July 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm

            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.)

          • July 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

            I love this. Someone starts getting skeevy and you just tap your button/necklace/bracelet and walk away.

          • July 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm

            Lovin’ the wristband and sharpie mix.
            Dude! Somebody somewhere make this happen!

          • July 12, 2011 at 3:53 pm

            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.

        • July 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm —

          HA! That should be the default setting. No buttons required.

  75. July 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm —

    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.

  76. July 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm —

    “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.”

  77. July 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm —

    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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm —

      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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm —

        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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 4:11 pm —

          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.

          • July 12, 2011 at 6:57 pm

            “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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm —

        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.)

        • July 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm —

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

          • July 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm

            “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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm —

          “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.

          • July 13, 2011 at 1:03 am

            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.

          • July 18, 2011 at 11:39 pm

            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.

          • January 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm

            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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 7:01 pm —

          Yup. Protip for dudes: if you don’t want to be perceived as a rapist, a good start is not acting like one.

          • July 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

            “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)

          • July 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm

            ““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?

          • July 12, 2011 at 8:31 pm

            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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 9:47 pm —

          “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?”.

  78. July 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm —

    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/)

    • July 12, 2011 at 3:44 pm —

      I hadn’t seen that Edge piece before. All shaft and no elevator. Ouch.

  79. July 12, 2011 at 3:11 pm —

    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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm —

      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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm —

        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.

        • July 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm —

          *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.

      • July 13, 2011 at 12:00 am —

        “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.

  80. July 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm —

    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.

    • July 15, 2011 at 3:15 am —

      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.

  81. July 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm —

    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. :)

  82. July 12, 2011 at 5:23 pm —

    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.

  83. July 12, 2011 at 6:04 pm —

    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…”

    • July 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm —

      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.

      • July 13, 2011 at 10:51 am —

        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?

        • July 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm —

          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.

        • July 15, 2011 at 3:33 am —

          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?

          • July 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm

            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.

          • July 15, 2011 at 6:14 pm

            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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm —

      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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm —

      “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?

      • July 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm —

        I figure you’re probably safe as long as the cats aren’t in boxes.

        >_>

        • July 12, 2011 at 8:19 pm —

          Otherwise I will be both safe and not safe simultaneously.

          • July 12, 2011 at 8:27 pm

            +1

      • July 13, 2011 at 10:16 am —

        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.

        • July 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm —

          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.

      • July 18, 2011 at 11:44 pm —

        yeah because learning the signs of someone being interested in you in any context is playing games and totally going to make someone live with cats

        Jesus.

    • July 13, 2011 at 12:06 am —

      “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.

  84. July 12, 2011 at 7:25 pm —

    Something like these specs that read facial expressions might help teach people to read cues. Could be cool if it’s developed and the privacy issues are addressed well.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128191.600-specs-that-see-right-through-you.html

  85. July 12, 2011 at 8:06 pm —

    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.

    • July 12, 2011 at 9:09 pm —

      *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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm —

        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.

        • July 13, 2011 at 12:27 am —

          *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.

      • July 12, 2011 at 11:54 pm —

        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!

        • July 13, 2011 at 12:41 am —

          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.

          ; >

    • July 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm —

      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?

  86. July 12, 2011 at 8:32 pm —

    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.

  87. July 12, 2011 at 11:38 pm —

    @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?

  88. July 12, 2011 at 11:41 pm —

    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.

    • July 13, 2011 at 1:42 am —

      “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.

      • July 13, 2011 at 3:18 am —

        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.

        • July 13, 2011 at 11:26 am —

          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?

          • July 14, 2011 at 4:40 am

            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…

          • July 14, 2011 at 7:03 am

            “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

      • July 13, 2011 at 11:41 am —

        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.

        • July 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm —

          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.

          • July 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm

            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?”

        • July 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm —

          “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.

          • July 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

            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?

          • July 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm

            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.

          • July 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm

            “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.

        • July 15, 2011 at 4:05 am —

          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.

          • July 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm

            I believe she wrote in her blog that it was sexual objectifying and misogyny.

  89. July 13, 2011 at 4:29 am —

    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.

  90. July 13, 2011 at 6:00 am —

    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.”

    • July 15, 2011 at 4:09 am —

      I wish more men were thinking like you on respecting a woman’s feelings. As a woman, then I thank you.

  91. July 13, 2011 at 6:06 am —

    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?

    • July 14, 2011 at 12:48 am —

      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.

  92. July 13, 2011 at 10:02 am —

    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.

    • July 13, 2011 at 10:33 am —

      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.

      • July 13, 2011 at 11:12 am —

        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.”

        • July 15, 2011 at 4:15 am —

          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.

  93. July 13, 2011 at 10:26 am —

    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.

  94. July 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm —

    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.

    • July 13, 2011 at 12:43 pm —

      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.

    • July 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm —

      Good thing Rebecca gave a helpful suggestion to the clueless guys, then.

      • July 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm —

        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.

      • July 15, 2011 at 2:21 am —

        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.

  95. July 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm —

    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?

    • July 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm —

      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.

      • July 15, 2011 at 2:24 am —

        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.

        • July 15, 2011 at 4:21 am —

          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”.

        • July 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm —

          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.

  96. July 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm —

    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.

    • July 13, 2011 at 8:22 pm —

      Having sexsual thoughts about the opposite sex (or the same sex for some) is normal. Not being able to be an adult and not subject others to non-stop come ons is not. If your sexual desires interfere with your relationships and your life, than I’m sorry, but you need to get counseling.

    • July 15, 2011 at 4:23 am —

      Your comments make me want to put on a nijab. You seriously need to take up some hobbies or consume some saltpeter.

      • July 15, 2011 at 8:07 am —

        Mine? I’m sorry. That’s not my intent.

        • July 18, 2011 at 2:01 am —

          I perhaps don’t have the reply right? No, not you. Was comment by “tenorhighc” saying:

          ” 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. “

          • July 19, 2011 at 8:15 pm

            I hoped so :)

  97. July 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm —

    >>>> 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.

    • July 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm —

      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.

      • July 15, 2011 at 12:22 am —

        OK, do you like sociopathic narcisist better?

        • July 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm —

          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.

          • July 21, 2011 at 8:45 pm

            But alot of my friends are men…

            (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

      • July 15, 2011 at 2:36 am —

        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.

        • July 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm —

          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.”

    • July 16, 2011 at 7:22 am —

      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.

  98. July 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm —

    >>>>>>>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.

    • July 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm —

      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.

      • July 13, 2011 at 8:45 pm —

        Hi Horace,
        Er, purely in the interest of biological research where are the horny women you mention who proposition blokes in the wee small hours?
        freedemocrat

        • July 14, 2011 at 9:16 am —

          Hotel bars, quite often. Airport bars.

          I was propositioned by a woman in a supermarket during the day.

      • July 15, 2011 at 2:38 am —

        I am not saying it is misogyny to be socially inept. I am saying the result of such total social ineptness is misogynistic *behavior*. It’s extremely unlikely the man would have raped her, or even imagined such a thing; but surely you can see why she felt threatened?

    • July 13, 2011 at 8:44 pm —

      “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.)

      • July 14, 2011 at 12:03 am —

        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.

        • July 14, 2011 at 1:00 am —

          >>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.)

          • July 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm

            “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.

          • July 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm

            “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.

        • July 14, 2011 at 9:22 am —

          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.

        • July 15, 2011 at 2:39 am —

          As the old joke has it:

          –“Would you come up for coffee?”
          –“I don’t mind, so long as it’s safe coffee.”

  99. July 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm —

    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.

    • July 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm —

      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.

    • July 14, 2011 at 4:50 pm —

      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.

  100. July 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm —

    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.

  101. July 14, 2011 at 1:03 am —

    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?

    • July 14, 2011 at 2:04 am —

      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.

  102. July 14, 2011 at 1:30 am —

    I’ve created a video that I hope would explain the issue to the thickest neanderthal. Enjoy!

    http://youtu.be/I-bR87KAU3M

  103. July 14, 2011 at 1:46 am —

    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.

  104. July 14, 2011 at 2:34 am —

    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.

  105. July 14, 2011 at 2:58 am —

    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.

    • July 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm —

      ” . . . 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.

  106. July 14, 2011 at 6:12 am —

    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.

    • July 14, 2011 at 9:41 am —

      Just because Dawkins is 12 times more educated and wise than Rebecca (and most of the irrational feminist commenters on this blog) doesn’t mean he’s right and she’s wrong.

      Or does it?

  107. July 14, 2011 at 9:37 am —

    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.

  108. July 14, 2011 at 9:56 am —

    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.

    • July 14, 2011 at 11:04 pm —

      “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.

      • July 15, 2011 at 8:10 am —

        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.

        • July 15, 2011 at 6:59 pm —

          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.

          • July 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm

            “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.

      • July 15, 2011 at 8:29 am —

        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.

        • July 16, 2011 at 1:34 pm —

          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.

  109. July 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm —

    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.

  110. July 15, 2011 at 1:45 am —

    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

    • July 15, 2011 at 2:49 am —

      If this were the friggin’ LAW, men would just ignore the green-tagged women as “easy” and would be hitting on the red-tagged ones as a challange.

    • July 15, 2011 at 8:31 am —

      I think you will see those with green tags being insulted as being ‘easy’ and the ones with red tags being insulted as ‘frigid’, ‘feminazis’ or ‘you should be so lucky’.

    • July 16, 2011 at 4:23 am —

      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.

    • July 17, 2011 at 10:52 am —

      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.”

      • July 18, 2011 at 3:48 am —

        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.

  111. July 15, 2011 at 2:37 am —

    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.

  112. July 15, 2011 at 2:47 am —

    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.

    • July 15, 2011 at 8:23 am —

      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.

      • July 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm —

        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.

        • July 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm —

          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.

      • July 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm —

        Awesome, awesome response.

    • July 16, 2011 at 7:52 am —

      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.

      • July 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm —

        I’m sorry, but nuanced, unemotional arguments have no place here. You’re obviously a Privileged™ Sexist™ with a Misogyny™ problem.

  113. July 15, 2011 at 2:57 am —

    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…)

  114. July 15, 2011 at 8:24 am —

    skeptic1972
    Yes. PZ Myers has confirmed that it really is Richard Dawkins.

  115. July 15, 2011 at 11:23 am —

    Fucking censoring bitch never published my comment.

  116. July 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm —

    “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.

  117. July 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm —

    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.

  118. July 16, 2011 at 12:27 am —

    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

  119. July 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm —

    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

    • July 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm —

      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.

      • July 18, 2011 at 8:23 pm —

        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…

      • August 18, 2011 at 3:14 am —

        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.

    • July 17, 2011 at 5:11 am —

      “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.

      • July 19, 2011 at 12:37 am —

        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?

      • August 18, 2011 at 3:53 am —

        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.

  120. July 16, 2011 at 5:58 pm —

    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.

    • July 17, 2011 at 6:09 am —

      Yes, but nobody is saying, or suggesting, EG is a rapist. The general view is that he’s almost certainly simply awkward and socially inept.

  121. July 17, 2011 at 1:43 am —

    “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.

  122. July 17, 2011 at 1:49 am —

    Aerosmith has the answer to this situation:

    http://youtu.be/h3Yrhv33Zb8

  123. July 17, 2011 at 6:12 am —

    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.

  124. July 17, 2011 at 6:25 am —

    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…

  125. July 17, 2011 at 10:43 am —

    Hey, Skepchick! I just wanted to shout out my support in all this. It’s time to put an end to this ridiculous gentlemen’s club mentality some of these jerks have.

  126. July 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm —

    “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…

  127. July 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm —

    “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…

    • July 19, 2011 at 12:48 am —

      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.

      • July 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm —

        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?

        • July 22, 2011 at 12:47 pm —

          “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

      • July 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm —

        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?

  128. July 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm —

    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.

  129. July 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm —

    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.

  130. July 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm —

    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.

    • July 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm —

      He didn’t ask her for sex. He didn’t ask her if she wanted sex. He asked her if she wanted a cup of coffee, and it is very plausible that is ALL he wanted.

      • July 18, 2011 at 3:05 am —

        “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.

        • July 20, 2011 at 4:57 pm —

          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.

    • July 19, 2011 at 4:02 am —

      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.

    • July 19, 2011 at 7:29 am —

      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.

    • July 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm —

      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.

  131. July 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm —

    You know, this post was going nice until someone had to kill some otters.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epUk3T2Kfno – ah they’re only sleeping

  132. July 17, 2011 at 5:48 pm —

    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.

    • July 18, 2011 at 7:13 am —

      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.

  133. July 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm —

    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.

    • July 17, 2011 at 11:16 pm —

      “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.

  134. July 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm —

    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.

    • July 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm —

      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.

  135. July 17, 2011 at 7:47 pm —

    Are there any posts by women defending Dawkins? Or is it all men who think they know it all?

    • July 20, 2011 at 11:47 am —

      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.

  136. July 18, 2011 at 1:46 am —

    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.

  137. July 18, 2011 at 8:17 am —

    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…

  138. July 18, 2011 at 8:20 am —

    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?

  139. July 18, 2011 at 8:22 am —

    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.

  140. July 18, 2011 at 8:36 am —

    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.

  141. July 18, 2011 at 8:39 am —

    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.

  142. July 18, 2011 at 8:40 am —

    This is on top of the fact a manipulation to make people seem weak, and to use weak sexuality to manipulate them into seeming weak intellectually.

  143. July 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm —

    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.

    • July 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm —

      Oooh, charging a women with being irrational- like we haven’t heard that one before. Does it occur to you lame shit like that will not make you a person worth hearing from?

    • July 18, 2011 at 11:01 pm —

      “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.

    • July 18, 2011 at 11:50 pm —

      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?

    • July 30, 2011 at 8:55 pm —

      It quite simply breaks trust. Breaking trust with someone requires that they reevaluate the relationship. It is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

  144. July 18, 2011 at 1:02 pm —

    I was a non-feminist for years. Read Camille Paglia, defended men left and right. But reason won’t let you do that for long. Dudenation’s hatred of women is pretty clear. It sits on shelves across the land as unprocessed rape kits, it stops women from getting healthcare they need, it keeps us making less just because they have dicks not because they do a better job. Once you have had to calm a 16 year old down because she was coming to the doc for her first pap and the privileged white guy out in front of the clinic yells “baby killer” at her and chases her around her car you pretty much have to face what men think of women.

    I wish the atheist organizers could realize how much respect this takes from them. I face the same kind of boys club on a forum I have been on for a few years and I find the extreme sexism is slowly pushing me away from the atheist community. There seems to be no compromise- either we women enjoy the jokes and the sexism or we get out, they don’t seem inclined to realize what they are doing and change as Dawkin’s response shows.

    What I find equally funny and sad is the men up in arms over our being angry about this. Like the guy in one of the comments who suggested that we can’t toss out Dawkins over one thing. Um, yeah. Yeah we can. Because if you are that filled with hate and scorn for women nothing you say is of value. NOTHING. It’s funny how when we aim back they accuse us of the very shit they do. Because of course they do that to us- what we say is dismissed because we are women- yet we aren’t supposed to aim that right back at them when after we try to explain it they continue to insist we “grow a thicker skin?!”

    That’s all right. Somewhere there’s a fish that need that bicycle.

    • July 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm —

      “…Like the guy in one of the comments who suggested that we can’t toss out Dawkins over one thing. Um, yeah. Yeah we can.”

      Well of course you “can”, It’s just outrageously irrational.

      “Because if you are that filled with hate and scorn for women nothing you say is of value. NOTHING.”

      Yeah, Dawkins is totally “filled with hate and scorn for women”… You must have quite an imagination to think this way about Dawkins based on his posts.

      You must realize that it’s entirely possible for someone to be a racist, a sexist, or a homophobe, and still have something valuable to say. There’s no reason why a neo-Nazi can’t offer some useful information on any topic not related to race/ethnicity. For example, he might be knowledgeable in medicine and first aid, and can teach you how to treat certain wounds. His racism doesn’t affect his medical expertise. Do you see where I’m going with this?

      I shouldn’t even have to explain this. Everyone should know that it’s irrational to disregard everything someone has to say because of one disagreeable position. Being wrong in one area doesn’t mean you can’t be right in another.

  145. July 19, 2011 at 7:07 am —

    well, it sure looks like a lot of Dawkins’ fanboys showed up here! I’ve been wasting too much too much time today commenting on a youtube atheist video that is probably the most deplorable of all….and many of his fans are even worse – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqU9JFbtucU

    I gave up on the atheist movement for a number of reasons, but one back story that I find the most entertaining is that they are always bitching about why no women show up at atheist/freethought pub nights or other events, and why there are even so few women involved in online atheism. The reasons seem self explanatory!

    ON Dawkins’ comment, what I found the most deplorable was that he thinks Rebecca had no issue even though the guy was following her into an elevator at 4:00 am. My first impression was that Rebecca actually underestimated the risk potential of a strange man following her into a confined space at an hour when there would not likely be anyone around to stop a potential assault. And good old Dawkins’s point is that Muslim women have it worse. Maybe evangelical atheists aren’t aware of this, but fundamentalist Christian misogynists use the same tactic to divert attention from themselves for the way they treat women!

    • July 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm —

      That video that you claim was “deplorable” actually hit the nail on the head. He is absolutely right, and I usually hate the Amazing Atheist.

      You claim this guy followed her into an elevator? The guy was, according to Rebecca Watson, in the group of atheists/skeptics that was in that bar, and she knew he had attended her speaking engagement there. He was not just some guy who stalked her into an elevator at 4am.

      Also, this was a nice hotel, and he was a guest there. Guests at hotels that enter elevators to go to their rooms at 4am are not “following” women into enclosed spaces. They’re getting into hotel elevators. What’s the guy’s alternative? Wait for the next one?

      This kind of attitude, the one you express, and the one Watson expresses is a very patronizing one toward women. It does not suggest that women are equals, it suggests that they are like children.

      I would agree with Watson’s “don’t do that” comment from a standpoint of not acting creepy and making clumsy last minute attempts to (probably) pick her up. But, that’s all I will agree with her on. She was not sexually objectified. Elevator Guy is not, by virtue of this action of asking her to his room for coffee, a “misogynist,” and asking women for coffee and conversation at whatever time is not “misogyny,” it is not a threat, it is not traumatic, and it is not harassment.

      Harassment, for example, would occur if he repeated made overtures after she said no, or was actually saying outright threats or yelling and screaming at her, etc. Misogyny is hating women, not asking them for coffee and conversation in a room, EVEN IF coffee means sex in code.

      It ought not be traumatic to 27 year old woman. She claims to have felt “uncomfortable” – well, you know what? Amazing Atheist is right. Tough shit. Being uncomfortable is a common feeling, even among men, and it’s just something that humans have to deal with. It is not the equivalent of rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, or attempted sexual assault. The guy is not Schrodinger’s Rapist because he made her feel uncomfortable.

      As for why women don’t show up to atheist/freethought pub nights and stuff – I’ll tell you why: They aren’t fun for most women. They are egghead, nerd fests where folks with a hobby of reading what the vast majority of people find boring and pointless. I love reading Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens and Dennett and loads of other scientific and atheist writers – I like reading the religious books – I like talking religion and atheism and all that. But, you know what? Most women don’t.

      Then take a look at the bulk of the men that attend these conferences. They aren’t bastions of good looking, well dressed, charming, men of means, not by a long shot. It’s either fat, old guys, or scruffy college kids in dirty jeans and flannel shirts.

      The reason droves of women don’t flock to atheist meets and conventions: just ask yourself why there is one girl for every 10 guys at a Dungeons and Dragons game or convention, or why Star Trek conventions also have a dearth of women attendees. Women aren’t interested in the topics discussed there and the guys that attend are nerds and dorks, and old, fat guys.

  146. July 19, 2011 at 9:21 am —

    After meeting her in person last year at TAM and after hearing her firmly, gently, and intelligently address this issue at this year’s TAM all I can say is “I think Carol Tavris is wonderful.” To paraphrase her, as we grow, as we separate into subsets, do we choose to keep each other as allies or as enemies? ” We need all the friends we can get so says she. And though we might agree to disagree on the issues of the day from time to time, I for one agree with Carol Tavris – Dawkins shall be my friend ( sorta ). Long live she!

  147. July 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm —

    Wow after reading allot of post I have to chime in. The guy on the Elevator just saying “don’t take this the wrong way said it know she would most likely take it the wrong way. I mean if you have to say that then yeah you know it’s not an appropriate place or time to say it. I was a prostitute in Hollywood Ca. for about 18 years. And yes I am a man, but I know what it feels like to be objectified I banked on it, but it does feel terrible when it happens. Women have a double oppression in our society, first as being part of the oppressed working class and second being a woman. I love woman that’s my sexual preference and it’s taken me years to learn a different way of thinking about how to approach a woman, if I find her attractive or if all I want is to have her as a friend. I don’t want to be a creep or to be thought of as a potential rapist. So I usually say upfront what I want. What’s more I have more than once told a girl I am gay so she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable about me being overly friendly, I have way more female friends than male and most are lesbians. And after I told any woman that I wasn’t gay after I told them I was and my reason for lying, I have always gotten a positive response. Rebecca has a right to feel the way she feels then and now. Richard shouldn’t come off in such a way, even he has a point but he could have said it in a more appropriate manner. Like not belittling Rebecca’s feelings in this manner. I am disappointed that Richard even made such a statement like that. I won’t boycott his book his work like Rebecca’s work is far to important to through it all out like that. The man in the elevator said “don’t take this the wrong way” he said that knowing she most probably will take it wrong way. He should have said look I am gay let’s talk and drink coffee lol

  148. July 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm —

    I want to ad a picture to my profile.

  149. July 19, 2011 at 4:04 pm —

    The fabric of women’s oppression is carved deeply into the calloused hands of women in the sweatshops of China and Honduras. It is draped over the faces of young women in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. It is stripped off the bodies of girls of Moldova and Bangkok who are put up for sale in brothels worldwide, and it is worn like a prize by pre-teens in the U.S. and Europe who are taught to dress and move like sex objects long before they understand what sex even is. This fabric ropes back into history, it winds its way around the globe, braided into all the dominant religions and “moral codes” and woven into every aspect of human societies. It is a heavy veil that casts the darkness of humanity’s first oppressive divisions over the lives, the dreams, and the prospects of every corner of humanity in the 21st century.
    ~rwor.org~

    • July 20, 2011 at 11:33 am —

      Very true, but no portion of that fabric is made up of polite requests for coffee and conversation in elevators at 4am after leaving a bar.

  150. July 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm —

    I’ve learned not to ever flirt with women.

    Well, let me explain that. first I don’t know her but I am completely sympathetic to the woman who came out about this. I agree that guys are dicks. I am a dick, and I am a guy. So ergo, that leads to my remark above: the only solution I’ve found is to never flirt.

    What’s wrong with that arrangement, I ask you? Sure, some primitive part of the mind wants you to believe that you are a you-know-what, starts with a p, for not going after girls. But my point is,

    (1) let the girl decide. that’s the way society *should* work, really, if you think about it. guys have all the luck just by being guys, so girls should have control in these kinds of situations and guys should have the short end of the stick. I don’t think it *should* be the responsibility of guys to hit on girls, that’s just a formula for dumb lazy girls and dickish guys, not a recipe for childlike fun.
    (2) it’s no big deal to keep it in your trousers. come on guys. I do it, you can do it. Sex is a chemical signal, not a life-threatening imperative. Take it for what it is, a stupid, primitive lie from inside your underwear, and ignore it. it’s like a bully, it can be conquered. reproduction is overrated. population’s overcrowded.
    (3) keep it in your trousers!!!!!

    That’s the solution if you ask me. Guys should just turn it off and let girls have control of the whole sex thing. When they want it, they let you know, and that’s that. Otherwise, guys and girls should just treat one another as rational minds.

  151. July 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm —

    Dear Becca,
    I have enjoyed seeing and hearing you speak. you are intelligent and well spoken. You bring up viewpoints that would probably never have occurred to me, and I especially like how open, direct, and honest u r. U r not afraid to talk about any subject. Very cool!
    I have always respected women, and I am for the general idea of feminism, but way back when I first started hearing about it in the 70’s, it seemed more like a philosophy of hating men and denying sexuality. Sometimes I still get that vibe from some proponents. I’ve never really seen a feminist describe how they think a man should approach a woman whom they are “interested in”. I have always felt that at some point some mutual appreciation of uh, physical attributes, was necessary. (necessary objectification?) Do u have anything written on that already? I’d like to hear what u have 2 say.

    Sorry to hear about your elevator incident. Hopefully, the guy was just an inept nerd, not realizing how inappropriate that was. It is sad that women should actually live in fear just walking around in our society. Perhaps u should err on the side of caution and either have a friend with u at all times or ask the hotel for an escort. (I think they do that, no problem)
    Take care. I am rooting for u from here in the South. Mississippi is not nearly as bad as most northerners have been brought up to believe, but there are still big pockets of ignorance and religiously blind. Please don’t give up!

  152. July 20, 2011 at 3:49 am —

    I agree that Dawkins was a bit out of line in his comment about whining and the guy in the elevator was way out of line, but evidently not a rapist, just an insensitive jerk. Dawkins obviously didn’t do himself any favours with his impatient and insensitive comment, but, IMHO your initial response to Dawkins’ comment was sufficient. To suggest a boycott of Dawkins’ books and lectures is over the top. As one of the old white geezer community, I have no direct experience of the emotional effect of rape on a woman, but having been bullied as a child, I know the feeling of fear of the potential motivation of strangers. As a father of a 20 something daughter, I fully sympathize with your response in the elevator. However, before you go off and throw out your collection of Dawkins’ literary output, consider that a secular humanist society, free from the constant treat of a fundamentalist theocracy (regardless of the religion behind it) is much more likely to be conducive to women’s equality and freedom from fear. Dawkins promotes such a society by being honest, analytical, and forthright about the nature of faith based and magical thinking. His initial comment merely pointed out (granted in a very insensitive manner) that your particular problem with that frightening come-on was not nearly as traumatic as what women in fanatical abrahamaic theocracies experience every day. Maybe the solution to this kind of thing is to make it socially unacceptable for a man to proposition a woman and leave it up to women to indicate interest in a relationship of any kind.

  153. July 20, 2011 at 11:50 am —

    I wonder – at the conference where Skepchick was on the panel with AronRa and Dawkins, the evening prior to the Elevatorgate incident, Skepchick laughed heartily at the “hilarious” death threats and hate mail that Dawkins receives by the ream.

    I wonder…why are her emails to be taken seriously and we are to be “uncomfortable” about them, and see them as grossly improper, when emails to Dawkins threatening him are “hilarious.” She even made one blurb from one of the threats to Dawkins her cell phone ringtone.

    Huh – guess outrage only applies to women.

    • July 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm —

      OK, you’re done misrepresenting shit to suit your own needs. Bye.

      • July 21, 2011 at 3:13 am —

        The real Horace Rumpole is one of my favorite fictional characters. Why did this guy have to go ruin it? Anyway, Rebecca, I think you’ve been incredibly patient.

  154. July 20, 2011 at 8:16 pm —

    wow people can be so terrible, I bet he’s one of those who wants to see women rapped who are out spoken.

  155. July 21, 2011 at 12:09 am —

    As Grognard and Chris Willett accused us of ignoring it, here is the Dawkins sexual assault link:

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/118

    Apparently it was no big deal to him and he uses it to downplay the crime of “minor” sexual assault compared to other issues he considers more important.

    Is there a pattern emerging here?

  156. July 21, 2011 at 10:29 am —

    Perhaps a better general rule is for anyone of either gender to avoid approaching strangers with a public profile late at night in an isolated area and ask them to your hotel room.

    Would the approach have been less creepy coming from a female? How about someone older, like in their 90’s? Or someone in a wheelchair? Was the creepiness just because the fan was male?

    I submit that approaching any public person and asking them to your hotel room is a bit creepy regardless of who you are and what your plumbing may be.

    In other words this is not so much a feminist issue but a more general one.

  157. July 21, 2011 at 7:09 pm —

    Notions of social privilege and social skill aside, I’ve come to the conclusion that many men in the atheist and skeptical community, just like many men in general, clearly have foundational beliefs about women they are not willing to confront. Those beliefs being that woman and their opinions have less value than men’s, women are not as intelligent as men, women have some kind of bazaar comic book fundamental obligation to meet the social and sexual needs of men, women are not as capable in leadership roles as men, and on and on and on.

    Not that I think these ignorant toads are necessarily more apt to engage in violence, however they clearly are more prone to stupid and thoughtless statements and actions. In September of 2007 Carol Tavris was interviewed about her new book, ‘Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): How We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts’and made the following statement. ”There are limits to dissonance theory. It doesn’t actually explain everything in the world. However, what it does explain is why so many of us are not as open-minded as we think we are or would like to be. The stronger our intellectual, moral, political or religious beliefs—the beliefs that most define us—the less likely we are to be open-minded about evidence or information that we could be wrong. People who, in addition, have vested economic interests in the status quo will be even more likely to dismiss evidence that might threaten their position.”

    Stop, look and listen guys.

  158. July 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm —

    Hello Rebecca,

    I’m another old white man, but not so rich and also one who supports you 100%. What Dawkins and all the other Neandertals have been saying to you came as a real shock to me which I’m still trying to process.

    I never thought of myself as a social sophisticate, but after reading some of these ignorant comments I must be! You have a staunch ally here for as long as you need one.

  159. July 22, 2011 at 3:18 am —

    Rebecca’s Logical Fallacies

    1. Ad hominem

    Richard Dawkins is a rich old white man and so his argument is false.

    2. Straw man

    Richard Dawkins was telling all women to be good girls and shut up about their experiences!

    3. False equivalency

    Richard Dawkins’ dismissal of Rebecca’s anecdote is to be equated to a dismissal of the experiences of all female rape victims.

    4. False dichotomy

    Either Richard Dawkins accepts Rebecca’s anecdotes (Elevatorgate, random vitriolic emails) as being emblematic of rampant sexism amongst male atheists and skeptics, or he is denying that there is any disparity of opportunity or treatment between males and females.

    5. Slippery slope

    If we don’t agree about the importance of Rebecca’s anecdotes then we are doomed to be misogynistic sexists who will stand by while women are raped in our presence.

    6. Non-sequiter

    Richard Dawkins once had a hypothetical argument with Rebecca Watson in which she felt insulted. Therefore Richard Dawkins’ body of work and standing within atheism which hitherto has been exemplary has been entirely discredited and you must not listen to him or read his books.

    • July 23, 2011 at 1:55 am —

      Now that you’ve thoroughly demolished the Rebecca Watson straw woman are you going to move on the the real Rebecca Watson?

    • July 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm —

      Grognard, my young misogynist in training, I’m impressed. You looked up straw man, and through it learned a few new words. But you still don’t understand them. A few examples for clarification.

      “He didn’t tell Rebecca to “shut up” he told a fictional Muslima character to “shut up”.”

      Mr. Dawkins was trying to be ironic, meaning the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of what is literally meant. Meaning that yes, he was telling Rebecca to shut up

      Straw man arguments:

      “You think Rebecca Watson deserves equal gravitas to Richard Dawkins simply by virtue of being female. That is laughable and richly deserving of ridicule.”

      And

      “A man told Rebecca she was interesting (shock) and invited her to his place for coffee (horror). She respectfully declined. End of issue.”

      EG hung around Rebecca for hours, in a public place, without trying to talk to her. He then followed her to an elevator and propositioned her after the doors had closed and she was vulnerable, ignoring her requests for men not to do that.

      “Rebecca must learn to take harsh criticism and rebuke from somebody she looks up to”

      Mr. Dawkins did not criticize Rebecca’s statement, he told her she was a hysterical woman who needed to shut up.

      And many others, too numerous to list.

      Arguments from authority:

      “I hope you are aware that Dawkins is locked in a struggle against the ideological forces in the world that oppress women on a scale we can scarcely imagine. Watch some of the videos on YouTube where Dawkins is in the middle east, putting his balls on the line (ironically) in confronting radical Muslems, who literally accuse Dawkins of dressing his western women to look slutty, and Dawkins argues with him defending the independence of women to dress how they please and run their own lives, etc.”

      “Just because Dawkins is 12 times more educated and wise than Rebecca”

      False analogy:

      “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

      Dr. Tyson’s criticism was respectful and clearly stated. Mr Dawkins told Rebecca she was a whiny, hysterical woman whose opinions were unimportant, and who needed to shut up.

      And some not quiet logical fallacies:

      “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.”

      A slight mis-statement of fact. Actually, a complete lie. He didn’t debunk her argument. He told her she was a whiny, hysterical woman whose opinions don’t matter, and she should shut up.

      “I’m almost the only one defending Dawkins here, and I’m trying to do it in a rational, inoffensive and un-inflammatory manner with varying degrees of success.”

      “By the way, I’m obviously not a troll. I’m obviously making an honest attempt to argue this topic reasonably. I just happen to have a position that is not in the majority here.”

      Your non-stop use of straw men arguments, and outright lies, show this isn’t true. And you’ve had zero success.

      So go back to your studies, and then try again, my young misogynist, and I want a 5 page paper on the Gish Gallop by Wednesday.

  160. July 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm —

    To Grognard: it *used* to be spelled Neanderthal, but that was changed to Neandertal to more closely reflect its pronunciation (and I would bet money that you’ve pronouncing it with an English ‘th’ all this time too).

    In your next post you yourself misspelled ‘non sequitur’ (adding a dash to boot) during your hilarious proof of how badly you misunderstood the issue that Ms Watson was bringing up.

    So who’s the dunce now, Sparky?

  161. July 24, 2011 at 2:28 am —

    Looks like Dawkins has dropped out of this debate, maybe it is time for everyone else to do likewise.

    I followed the link to Dawkins’ alleged belittling of the significance of rape and found that he was quoting a woman who was raped as a child AND told by the rapist priest at about the same time that her best friend was going to hell for being a protestant. The women said she was more upset by the latter than the former, not that rape wasn’t upsetting… Clearly, not what the poster was suggesting.

    Similarly, without belittling Rebecca’s entirely justified apprehension and annoyance at being accosted by a stranger with a proposition in an elevator at 4am, her response to Dawkins’ comment was over the top. The response of others supporting her here was even more so. Rebecca has wisely refrained from fanning the flame war on Dawkins in the meantime.

    I loved the latest video Rebecca did with the hilarious and entirely valid dating advice for men who don’t “get” why a woman should be offended by an approach like that in the now infamous elevator. I’ll have to try that trick with the watermelon she suggested… sounds like fun! :)

    • July 25, 2011 at 7:13 pm —

      so, just so we’re clear: you logged on to tell us that this topic is over and we shouldn’t talk about it anymore.

      Cool story, bro.

  162. July 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm —

    “I’ve come to the conclusion that many men in the atheist and skeptical community, just like many men in general, clearly have foundational beliefs about women they are not willing to confront”

    Clearly you are correct. And therefore, they do not fit the definition of skeptic. If you aren’t willing to question something, you aren’t a skeptic. All these Dawkins-worshipping cult boys are not skeptics, they’re wanna-bes.

  163. July 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm —

    I regret taunting Grognard there. Sorry Grognard.

    I think he has been a worthy opponent and debated with skill and loyalty for a fairly moderate position.

    I just wish he could turn his skills to the defense of women and their many legitimate concerns expressed here.

  164. July 27, 2011 at 6:26 am —

    @ufischer: You have misrepresented my position.

    Before you comment further, you should look up in a dictionary the distinction between “rape” and “sexual assault”, between a question and an “allegation”, and between “downplay” and “trivialise”.

    Then look at the penultimate paragraphs of the linked article:

    “But reports of child abuse cover a multitude of sins, from mild fondling to violent buggery, and I am sure many of those cases now embarrassing the church fall at the mild end of the spectrum.”

    “A child too young to notice what is happening at the hands of a gentle pedophile will have no difficulty at all in noticing the pain inflicted by a violent one. Phrases like ‘predatory monster’ are not discriminating enough, and are framed in the light of adult hang-ups.”

    Translation: With some verbal gymnastics, Dawkins suggests there is such a thing as “mild” sexual assault. His own anecdote by implication is obviously to be used as a kind of benchmark here – if not, then why did he include it?

    This is not cherry picking but the central part of his argument in which he draws together the letter, his anecdote and his reasoning ready for his final point.

    Tell me what he is trying to do if not to “downplay” (not “trivialise”) that crime (“mild sexual assault”, not “rape”) so as to compare favorably with the psychological effect of teaching the doctrine of hell, which he considers more important?

    The law recognises no such crime as mild or gentle pedophilia – good luck with the judge on that one! Not because of “adult hangups” over the phrase “predatory beast”, as Dawkins says, but based on legal precedent and the “eggshell skull” principle – see below.

    I suggest that Dawkins shows a pattern of previous behaviour in which, in the spirit of academic debate, he downplays some issues with respect to others that he considers more important.

    This would be fine unless the reader happens to be in the wrong category, in which case it becomes incredibly offensive and rude. Do not ever try that “gentle pedophile” crap with a parent!

    You should also look at the excellent comment by @freemage in the Quickies in which he debunks the “myth of the singular reaction”. To paraphrase it in my own fashion:

    Individuals may react to sexual assault/rape by taking it in their stride, or by becoming hard and tough, or turning to heroin, or by going down the anorexia nervosa pathway, or suicide. The reaction is idiosyncratic: it depends on the individual, not just on the circumstances.

    Google “eggshell skull” – this principle is set in law, and is the reason why there is no such thing as “mild pedophilia”.

    My more general conclusion (and this is open for debate): To use your own idiosyncratic and unique experience of sexual assault or rape (or the threat thereof, or even of sexual harassment) to downplay, discount, minimise, trivialise, mock or belittle that of others seems to me the worst example of misuse of anecdotal evidence and of intellectual dishonesty.

    Guys, (both sexes): please don’t do this. Show a bit of empathy.

    Some of this is what I think Dawkins, and by proxy, his supporters may be guilty of, both in the linked article and in Elevatorgate.

    • August 12, 2011 at 9:07 am —

      When the law does not recognize subtleties and gradiations of severity, that is a failure of law – not proof of a black-and-white world.

    • December 31, 2011 at 6:20 pm —

      Better late than never?

      finally got back to reading your post, Jack99. I guess I got caught up in all the baby otter cuteness in the meantime. :)

      I agree that it is fundamentally wrong to trivialize anyone’s experience of rape or sexual assault. For the record, in Canada there is no such crime as rape. It is all subsumed under “sexual assault”. It is up the the judge to decide on a case by case basis how severe each incident is and what if any punishment it deserves. IMHO, far too many not explicitly violent offenders are getting away without any consequences.

      I do not support Dawkins at all in his comments on Rebecca’s reaction to the Elevator incident. I remain a fan of his work despite his shocking lack of sensitivity on this issue. No one is perfect and it seems reasonable to me to acknowledge both the good and bad aspects of others’ personalities and attitudes.

      In promoting a scientific analysis of religious beliefs and in exposing the horrendous effect religion has had and continues to have on human progress (including progress in women’s equality), Dawkins has done A Good Thing. Whatever else he does cannot undo that.

    • December 31, 2011 at 6:34 pm —

      Nice baby otter picture for your avatar, there Jack99 :)

      Regardless of what the law says, I think I agree with Dawkins that not all sexual assaults are equal. The severity is in the mind of the victim and that is what should be taken into consideration. The idea that convincing a child that her dear dead friend is now suffering eternal inescapable punishment involving constant burning and rebuilding of burnt flesh is clearly more traumatic to some children than being touched inappropriately. That seemed to be the point Dawkins was making in your links. It seems to be a valid point. That is not an excuse for pedophilia, just a fact.

      The fact that Dawkins goes after forms of child abuse that religionists routinely engage in for the “spritual health” for their children is, IMHO, to his credit… including when he compares it unfavorably to the more generally unacceptable activities which are legally regarded as child abuse.

      The fact that he used some version of these arguments to trivialize the experiences of women in situations like the infamous elevator incident is to Dawkins’ discredit as has been more than amply expounded here.

  165. July 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm —

    Hello,
    This is my first post in here, so you should know that i am a human male of mostly average skills.

    Considering the extent of this discussion Godwin’s law should be fulfilled anytime now; and for a while i felt maybe i should be the troll that does it.

    Although a person with a penis, therefore a bit remote from bs women have to endure most of their lives, i do like to think i am quite empathic and i can put myself emotionally in anyone’s place. With this in mind…

    Yes, that guy should have not made a proposition of that nature in an elevator, in the middle of the night.
    However, i dismiss that no guy should try to ask someone out under different circumstances, while still in an elevator – only in the middle of the day: just got a smile back, she/he stops the elevator for you just in time, etc.
    In Rebecca Watson’s case I would have suggested a confrontation the next day to teach the poor soul a lesson – i’m sure he had a ‘sorry was totally pissed’ type reply and then would have crawled into a corner and die of shame.

    No, i do not think Richard Dawkins is a misogynistic pig and regardless of his opinion on these matters, his work should still be followed and used. To use an apt analogy-metaphor: you do not throw an apple that has a back spot, you eat around the spot. Knowledge is precious and dismissing it just for the reason that the person providing it is human and subjected to flaws in judgement is not constructive.
    If we dismiss a person for a stupid think he/she said then we might as well give up on growing.

    This whole debacle shows me that:
    – it will be a long time before women will walk in isolated places without fear (a change in psychology of individuals)
    – when that time will come few generations have passed since a woman would have had been brutalized verbally or physically (a change in fundamental workings and structure of the society)
    Here’s for hopping.

    For the end, and for those that had the patience to read through all these more and less complicated words, i would like to suggest a bit of reading on an experiment that can illuminate some light on core difference in how women and men see the world:
    Clark, R.D., & E. Hatfield (1989). “Gender Differences in Receptivity to Sexual Offers.” Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality 2 (1): 39-55
    This was cited in “Elephants on acid …” by Alex Boese

  166. July 31, 2011 at 9:47 am —

    @RW:

    Personal info fail but link win. From my comment on your OP:

    I wish I could remember the source for you, but I was taken aback when I read remarks Dawkins made about the Catholic Clergy and the unfair manner in which old and feeble men were being persecuted for actions as mild and innocent as a little fondling. It was almost as if he were saying in these instances that no one actually got [physically] hurt, so the treatment of the priests involved was overkill.
    I will continue to look for that source and send you the link.

    First, the reason I was taken aback is that I’ve read many articles and news items by or about Dawkins, his work to doggedly fight injustice by organized religion, including calling the Catholic Church to task over abuse.

    Second, my memory of the article was weak, so I made mistakes in my summary and judgement. So, I thought a follow-up comment was in order for corrections.

    Third, I finally have the link to the original piece thanks to a friend: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/118-religion-39-s-real-child-abuse.

    Basically, he argues that fear of hell is far more damaging than mild pedo behavior, such as fondling, which he discloses he has direct experience of; therefore, pursuing priests only guilty of such mild indiscretions by comparison seems illogical to him.

    To make sure I am not adding to the misunderstanding a second time, I added the link above and have the following quotes from Dawkins below for your consideration:

    Being fondled by the Latin master in the Squash Court was a disagreeable sensation for a nine-year-old, a mixture of embarrassment and skin-crawling revulsion, but it was certainly not in the same league as being led to believe that I, or someone I knew, might go to everlasting fire. As soon as I could wriggle off his knee, I ran to tell my friends and we had a good laugh, our fellowship enhanced by the shared experience of the same sad pedophile. I do not believe that I, or they, suffered lasting, or even temporary damage from this disagreeable physical abuse of power.

    First, just because some pedophile assaults are violent and painful, it doesn’t mean that all are. A child too young to notice what is happening at the hands of a gentle pedophile will have no difficulty at all in noticing the pain inflicted by a violent one. Phrases like ‘predatory monster’ are not discriminating enough, and are framed in the light of adult hang-ups. Second (and this is the point with which I began) the mental abuse constituted by an unsubstantiated threat of violence and terrible pain, if sincerely believed by the child, could easily be more damaging than the physical actuality of sexual abuse. An extreme threat of violence and pain is precisely what the doctrine of hell is.

    Much as I would like to see the Roman Catholic Church ruined, I hate opportunistically retrospective litigation even more. Lawyers who grow fat by digging dirt on long-forgotten wrongs, and hounding their aged perpetrators, are no friends of mine. All I am doing is calling attention to an anomaly. By all means, let’s kick a nasty institution when it is down, but there are better ways than litigation. And an obsessive concentration on sexual abuse by priests is in danger of blinding us to all their other forms of child abuse.

    Is he trying to argue that his and his peers’ reported experience of being fondled and not perceiving themselves to be damaged from it is generalizable to everyone’s experience of being fondled as children?

    Not everyone has been as damaged by his/her religion’s teachings on hell as his letter-writer has, so I’m not sure he should be assuming generalizability here. Although, I do agree that hellfire-and-brimstone upbringings can certainly be abusive and damaging; they aren’t always because they effect different people different ways, depending on individual strengths, vulnerabilities and sources of support. This is also true of how individuals seem to react to other types of trauma, be it natural disaster, interpersonal violence or even illness.

  167. July 31, 2011 at 9:50 am —

    Formatting fail!

    The three paragraphs following “for your consideration” are three separate quotes from Dawkins. The rest are my own comments. Not sure what happened.

    Hopefully, it will still make sense; if not, the original link is there.

  168. August 4, 2011 at 12:26 am —

    @chicksbeach, I posted my take on the same article a few posts back. I think our views may be somewhat similar?

    I would argue that Dawkins does seem to be generalising too much from his own experience, to the extent of being highly offensive to other victims.

    This then adds to previous examples of “Dickish” or insensitive behaviour reported by many others here (e.g. @Halincoh, see also the take by @Improbable Joe).

    This to me confirms the merits of Rebecca’s stance in the Elevatorgate incident, despite all the attempts by Dawkins supporters to debate the opposite with razor sharp headachey logic based on the bare facts of the incident itself.

    Simply put, Dawkins has been a prat, has had a long history of being a prat, and should apologise. Is this misogyny? Yes, and a lot more besides!

    • August 4, 2011 at 12:39 am —

      I discussed the legal definitions with a first rate lawyer before writing this and should point out that in fact the law recognises no such thing as “mild sexual abuse” or a “gentle pedophile”.

      A so called “gentle pedophile” acting in such a way that the child does not recognise what is going on – that situation is called GROOMING, he is a pedophile, go straight to jail!

      The law also does not recognise so called “mild sexual abuse” – rather, it recognises sexual abuse and aggravated sexual abuse.

      So the law itself recognises and rejects the sort of bougeois relativism that Dawkins has engaged in.

  169. August 5, 2011 at 7:51 pm —

    Just wanted to add my support Here for Rebecca – One thing which stands out clearly from my perspective is that going right back to the beginning, Rebecca responded initially to the ‘atheist women activists panel’ with a very valid point. This group were purportedly aiming to draw in more women to the atheist movement and encourage more women to be pro-active and take bigger roles, etc.

    As just one of those women hey may be trying to attract, I found that group slightly patronising in that all they had to offer was ‘hey, come on and join in, you can do it! Suffice to say It was a limp and ineffectual ‘activist’ group. I was not engaged.

    Rebecca made a valid point and what she said immediately struck a chord with me and DID engage me. Surely that panel(Kirby who is a good friend of Dawkins) should have taken a listening rather than defensive approach? Would that not have been more conducive to their aims? Or did Rebecca challenge their ego a little too much?

    Anyway just to say thankyou for being an engaging activist rather than a polite excuse for an activist. You HAVE done what they were badly attempting to do – I wonder just how many women Dawkins has ironically alienated with this? I will continue to follow skepchick with interest.

  170. August 6, 2011 at 6:59 am —

    When I saw the ‘elevator’ stuff, I couldn’t believe what a shitfight it turned into.

    I think you were over-reacting about the guy in the elevator.

    However, RD has acted like a total jerk.

  171. August 7, 2011 at 2:35 am —

    While I understand the discomfort that Rebecca must have experienced in the lift, I don’t feel that it justifies suspecting every man to be a “potential rapist”.

    Suppose I say that I’m scared of getting into a flight with Muslims and I feel that there is a potential terrorist in every Muslim. Is this an acceptable prejudice? While it is natural to have such fears it is important that we learn to deal with it in the right way. The solution is to increase airport security not spread more prejudice about Muslims. It seems like many feminists here feel that their way of dealing with the fear of rape-by treating every man as a “creep” until proven otherwise- is justified. I don’t think it is any more justified than associating the image of a Muslim with terrorism or a black person with violence. These prejudices may help a woman keep herself out of harms way but it does so only by dehumanizing the male sex in much the same was as women were dehumanized in the past by Men.

  172. August 7, 2011 at 4:05 am —

    Just to add to my earlier point- While it is entirely Rebecca’s choice to distance herself from Dawkins, I feel it is important for the two of them to have a private conversation to sort out their differences. Clearly all these accusations about Dawkins being a misogynist and/or Rebecca being a whiner is a gross misrepresentation of both of their statements. At best this is an issue of Richard being “insensitive” and Rebecca being “hurt” by the insensitivity. I’m sure considering your previous friendly acquaintance with Richard, you both should be able to sort out these difference amongst yourselves. I feel that by having this issue discussed and defended in a public domain you will only aid in deepening the rift that has happened between you both.

  173. August 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm —

    The way this started is important because what Rebecca was saying initially(or my interpretation anyway)was that IF a woman does become any kind of spokesperson for the atheist movement, then she WILl face sexism and misogyny. She gave examples. The women’s panel did not address any of these issues and were asserting that women have nothing to fear or worry about and nothing stands in their way. All Rebecca said was pretty much ‘Not in my experience’. Fair comment. She then went on to discuss her experiences. Why is daring to discuss her own experiences with sexism so wrong? Should she have shut up and played ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ in order to have a nice polite convention?

    With her later video which related the now famed elevator story, she simply related her experience and said ‘Guys; don’t do that’. Fair enough! She didn’t say or insinuate that every guy does get it wrong like this. She never mentioned ‘potential rapist’. What happened was that to enhance their own argument, others for their own reasons exaggerated what she said into this ‘she called every guy a potential rapist’ claim. SHE said ‘Guys, don’t do that’

    Personally, I would feel far more demeaned and insulted than threatened in the same situation. Is it fine to feel objectified in that kind of a way as long as whatever you do, don’t talk about it or express how it made you feel. Just shut up and quit whining? She barely did mention it and look what kind of a bizarre, angry and wildly exaggerated response it received!

    I will still value Dawkins’ books and his talks on evolutionary biology but I have lost respect for him and I do see him as an arrogant and impatient man now who is outrageously dismissive of feminist issues and one who has set the so-called women atheist activists back some way – not that they were exactly with the programme in the first place!

    • August 12, 2011 at 10:50 am —

      Maybe I am the only one, but I read Dawkins reply to the elevator thing as more of a dismissal of what he considers a distraction (lingering sexism in western societies) to what he sees as the more important issues at hand (religion-fueled oppression of women worldwide and religion in general).

      Is that male privilege? Maybe, but he has a fight he is fighting and maybe he’s picking his battles at this point. I would not think he wants women to be afraid or uncomfortable… He just seems kind of busy worrying about them being mutilated or killed.

      Skeptics can be pretty brash and well… mean. We don’t hold back. Many of us enjoy that sort of discourse. Unfortunately that does result in a bit of friendly fire. I’m sure he will apologize for stating his point so crassly.

  174. August 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm —

    That’s it. I’m turning in my skeptical card and dropping out of the movement… Th