I’m editing this post, which was originally just a link to an awesome TED talk I enjoyed by Caroline Heldman about sexual objectification. I wrote the post this morning, and shortly after I scheduled it I happened to receive this message via the Skepchick contact form:
Name: John Smith
Email: [email protected]
Comment: Hi Rebecca
Subject: News Item or Link
Time: Monday February 4, 2013 at 10:04 am
IP Address: 184.108.40.206
The link was to a pornographic MS Paint drawing someone made of me and posted to a Rule 34 porn site under the username “rand0mathe1st.” The image depicts me bound and gagged, covered in semen, with a dildo up my ass. It reads, “Rebecca Watson is an object.” Here’s a link to a censored but still NSFW version that may be disturbing to you if you don’t get this shit sent to you all the time. It’s interesting to think of how much time and energy that person must spend thinking about me, fantasizing about sex with me, and wondering how much one should charge to rape me. I, for instance, spend a lot of time thinking about sloths, but I’ve never spent that much time drawing one in MS Paint. I did just try it, though, and this is seriously how far I got before I got bored, 5 minutes in:
Usually the troll messages just go into my trash bin and I get on with my day, but I thought the timing of it was too good to not mention. For a start, it handily supports Dr. Heldman’s lecture about objectification, posted below. But also, it should help make it clearer what women like me, like the other Skepchicks, like Stephanie Zvan, like Greta Christina, like Ophelia Benson, deal with on a daily basis.
I want you to think about this the next time you hear Michael Shermer complain that Ophelia Benson’s mild criticism of his words is a “McCarthy-like witch hunt,” or when Paula Kirby complains that she’s being persecuted by feminazis because women are asking for better treatment, or when anyone complains that PZ and others are “Freethought Bullies,” or when anyone complains that I complain too much because once every few months I provide examples of the harassment I receive. Shermer, Kirby, and the others have no idea what it’s like to be hunted and harassed, because “our side,” the people who are speaking out against harassment, don’t do this to them. Michael Shermer isn’t told every day by atheists and skeptics that he’s worth nothing aside from the sexual gratification his body could offer someone. He isn’t told by atheists and skeptics that he deserves to be raped and abused. Atheists and skeptics don’t spend hours drawing images of him in dehumanizing positions. They don’t tell him that they’re going to sexually assault him if they see him at a conference. They don’t tell him he’s too old or fat or ugly to fuck. They aren’t so terrified of what he has to say that they’ll do anything they can to silence him. And they don’t tell him that his disinterest in putting up with any of the former makes him too sensitive to be involved in the atheist or skeptic community.
Instead, they focus on his words and on his arguments and they offer an opposing viewpoint. If that’s what Shermer thinks of as a witch hunt, then a single day of the treatment I get would have him boarding up the windows at Skeptic Magazine faster than you can come up with a bigoted nickname based on his name.
Anyway. Here’s how this post originally read when I scheduled it this morning:
I really enjoyed this TED talk by Caroline Heldman, one of the contributors to the excellent Sociological Images. She discusses sexual objectification, giving apt examples of what it is, evidence of its danger, and a call to action on how you can stop it: