I was recently made aware that Sara Mayhew has continued her relentless obsession with me by posting a message she received from a woman who supposedly had a horrible experience with me at a conference:

I am a 45 year old woman with two daughters, age 19 and 22. I just want to say thank you for being a role model and voice of reason. Many years back we attended TAM (the year of the surprise wedding) and my girls were excited to meet Rebecca. She and all the other Skepchicks totally blew my girls off. They felt like there was a huge click [sic] just like in high school. I told Rebecca later via email and was told it was our fault. Fortunately Harriet Hall talked with them as well as Barbra Drescher and they have continued to admire and friend them. We then heard you speak at a later TAM. THANK YOU! A young woman with such grace and presence. I just want to let you know that even though you may not even know, you are having a huge impact on young women and the voice of reason in skepticism.

I saw her post thanks to her Tweeting it at me, despite the fact that I have her blocked, because of others replying to us both:

https://twitter.com/Eshto/status/379157619128033280

I’m a bit torn, because I do worry that giving Mayhew attention will only encourage her obsession with me until we reach a Single White Female-situation where she dyes her hair red, buys a pair of Warby Parkers, and develops a cutting sense of humor in an attempt to kill and replace me (she already bought 26,000 Twitter followers, so she’s got that bit covered). By now I know that most sensible people in our community realize how awful she is, but at the same time I see people like Sharon Hill retweeting her post to all their credulous followers, and so this is bound to be thrown in my face at some point in the future. With that in mind, allow me to respond.

Because a few people were joking about Mayhew using an anonymous source for her post, she tweeted a photo showing the woman’s name in a Facebook message. (I don’t know if she got permission, so I won’t link to that.) It took me just a few seconds to put her name in my GMail search and find our correspondence, which dated May 9, 2011 and which also went to all the Skepchick contributors at the time. It reads as follows:

Message: I am thrilled that you are working so hard to include women.
We attended our first TAM two years ago and brought our 15 year old
daughter and last year brought our then 16 and 19 year old daughters.
They have always looked up to the Skepchicks. It would have been
wonderful if even one of them would have taken the time to come and
say hi seeing that a teenage girl was there and perhaps would be shy
to approach them. Thanks to Barbra Drescher and Harriet Hall for
doing so! Just a thought as you strive to bring more girls into
skepticism. It would have meant a lot to them.

My response was sent about five minutes later:

Hi [redacted],

Thanks for the email! With 1,300 people in attendance and the constant flurry of workshops, panels, interviews, and events, I guess we weren’t able to see everyone. But we did have a table and plan to once again this year, and we always talk to everyone who comes over, so I hope that you and your daughters stop by if you have time! In fact, that’s how I hired a Teen Skepchick two years ago . . . she and her father came up to me at the table to say hi. :) We’ll also continue trying to reach out to the shyer contingent!

I’m glad that you were able to talk to some of the other women in attendance. Last year was a great one in terms of women in attendance, and we’re planning to improve that even more this year!

Best

Rebecca

Here are the screenshots, for those who will inevitably accuse me of making these up (1, 2).

It’s fascinating how in two years’ time, the situation morphed from the girls being too shy to approach me into me actively blowing them off, and somehow me thanking her for the email, explaining what probably happened, asking her to say hello at the next con, vowing to try to reach out to shy people in the future, and expressing joy that some other women were able to interact with them has morphed into me blaming her.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been accused of abhorrent behavior that never actually happened. While there are certainly times that I’m very stressed out, tired, or even in a lot of pain (I have pretty severe back problems) at conferences, I always try my hardest to be kind and considerate to everyone I interact with. A large number of Skepchick contributors over the years have been people I randomly met at conferences and events, like the Teen Skepchick I mentioned in my response to the woman (shoutout to Cassie!), or the fabulous Anne Sauer over at Mad Art Lab, who Surly Amy and I met at a conference we were tabling in Oakland. She came up to our table to introduce herself and happened to mention that she was at the conference alone, so we pulled up a chair and hung out with her all weekend.

Is that how I treat every person I see at a conference? Um, no. Most people have no idea who I am and/or no interest in talking to me. I respect that by not approaching people and expecting them to bask in my reflected awesomeness. Some people do want to talk to me but are too shy. Surprisingly often, I get parents, partners, and friends of shy people coming up to me to ask if I’ll go over and say hello. I have never said no. I’ve also had people ask me to call and say hi to their friends who couldn’t attend the conference. I absolutely hate talking on the phone, but I’ve never said no to that request, either. And even though for the past year or so I’ve been getting increasingly more introverted and anxious, I’ve made it a point to socialize with strangers and talk at length with anyone who wants my time at events.

Don’t get me wrong, though: I’m no angel. I remember nearly every time I’ve been rude to someone at an event in the past few years, because I feel guilty about it even when I think it was justified. I was polite but abrupt with someone at a con recently even though he seemed nice, because I knew he produced a work online that I found very sexist and I didn’t want to talk to him. In line at a buffet at a con last year a fellow speaker told me that he wanted to ask me back to his place for “coffee” but it was okay because his wife was into it. I was rude when I loudly asked him if that sounded funnier in his head. Also last year, I gave a talk and then went to a restaurant where attendees were gathering. I was jet-lagged, exhausted, and filled with anxiety, but I knew people expected me to be there so I went. After about two hours in the very noisy bar, I put on my jacket and tried to make an escape but (mostly very nice) people kept approaching me to talk. After about 30 minutes more, I was very abrupt and told everyone that I really had to go and then I just ran away. I have no idea if I came across as rude as I felt but I felt absolutely terrible. Those people were very nice and didn’t deserve to see me at my worst.

It’s so incredibly flattering when people want to talk to me and tell me nice things or just have an interesting conversation, and I feel an intense need to repay that kindness by being as accessible as possible to fans. I’m not a celebrity, so I don’t have to expend that kind of effort 24/7 – only when I’m at conferences or when I’m giving solo talks. That makes me feel as though it’s worth it to spend as much energy as possible interacting with fans the few times I see them. But it does occasionally reach a point where my partner worries that I’m getting burned out, because generally, if someone wants to talk to me, I’ll talk to them, regardless of how tired I am or if I have other things I need to be doing.

That’s what makes it particularly galling to see blog posts like Sara Mayhew’s. Accuse me of being too sarcastic. Accuse me of being too opinionated. Accuse me of being too flippant, or not funny enough, or not scientifically rigorous enough, or ugly, or untalented. But don’t accuse me of not being as kind and as welcoming as possible to the people who actually want to meet me.

I’ll end on a lighter note. This was my favorite line in Mayhew’s post:

This is why I treasure skeptics like Barbara Descher [sic], Sharon Hill, Dr. Hall, Eugenie Scott, Carol Travris [sic], Eve Seibert, and many other talented contributors to the skeptic movement, who rarely focus on talking about women issues [sic].

Considering that Dr. Hall’s book is called Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly : The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon and Dr. Tavris is a psychologist who focuses on gender and whose most popular book is The Mismeasure of Woman, I’m afraid Mayhew may need to find some new role models.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. 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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68 Comments

  1. Avatar of Ophelia Benson
    September 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm —

    The ending made me laugh and laugh and laugh. Oh yes, Carol Tavris rarely focuses on women [sic] issues. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  2. Avatar of Nicole Introvert
    September 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm —

    Oh please…. and if you DID walk through the crowd introducing yourself Sara would be saying you were egotistical and conceited.

  3. Avatar of Bjornar
    September 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm —

    I’m fairly sure I’ve seen you not running over to talk to people who could conceivably have wanted you to talk to them. That is completely unforgivable.
    signed – a Shy Rights Activist
    PS! Don’t run over to talk to me, even if I might want to talk to you, I might change my mind and find your pushiness uncomfortable!

  4. Avatar of Kammy
    September 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm —

    Sara Mayhew totally blew me off the first time I saw her at an event. True story.

    • Avatar of LOLogies
      September 16, 2013 at 1:22 pm —

      I waved to her at TAM and tried to get her attention a few times to say hi to no avail. Then again, I also waved at Rebecca once and was also missed. I mean, people do this weird thing sometimes called “not noticing you”, and I’ve heard that it can even happen for no malicious reason to perfectly innocent people! I try not to assume the worst.

    • Avatar of delphi_ote
      September 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm —

      I hear she once blew off an entire school bus full of kids who wanted to learn about science!

  5. Avatar of MrFancyPants
    September 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm —

    It’s great that you had the documentation to refute this silliness. Really a shame that you have to spend time doing it, though.

  6. Avatar of greenstone123
    September 16, 2013 at 1:26 pm —

    If Sara lacks the interest in women’s issues and treasures a purely cerebral experience in skepticism, one without the bother of women’s issues, why post about Rebecca at all? And if she did care, wouldn’t it make more sense to just say thank you to the person that called her a role model? Her behavior here seems erratic and well, childish, and makes it easy for me to dismiss her opinions.

  7. Avatar of katiehov
    September 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm —

    The SWF thing, ha! Sadly it seems like an apt prediction, she really seems to need help. It’s like she’s the Lindsay Lohan of skepticism, complete with enablers apparently.

  8. Avatar of delphi_ote
    September 16, 2013 at 1:43 pm —

    These conferences are very taxing. We attend talks all day and party all night. Hangovers and sleep deprivation are the norm. Thousands of introverts are surrounded by socially awkward introverts for an entire day. Everyone is going to be rude, short, or just not at their best. If the worst Sara could do was this email exchange, Rebecca is a very kind person indeed.

    But Phil is still the kindest. :P

  9. Avatar of Chris
    September 16, 2013 at 1:51 pm —

    .. and hahaha … after meeting a bunch of Skepchicks and FtB’s at CONvergence (I volunteered in the party room) I stayed on to provide content in SC Events! Mean, uptight, and dismissive is not how I would describe my experience.

    • Avatar of Kammy
      September 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm —

      I wonder if Sara would write another blog post if everyone who’s had a positive experience with Rebecca and/or a Skepchick wrote to her?

  10. Avatar of Chris
    September 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm —

    Probably not.

    • Avatar of Chris
      September 16, 2013 at 10:13 pm —

      But, so I don’t appear biased. I did meet Sara, briefly, at TAM 2012 and she was nice enough to sign a book for me. I still don’t agree with her though. I guess I just wanted to say that people can be “on” and they can be “off”..

  11. Avatar of Sarah
    September 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm —

    I spent a lot of time at cons, tabling near Amy, and she was always super friendly & welcoming. I remember the first time you & I met was at AA 2012 (immediately after the Reason Rally), and I asked Amy to introduce us. You had to get running to catch a flight, I think, but still took the time to talk to me. I was afraid you were going to hate me, because that’s when I told you about the Dawkins thing. It’s kind of scary to be like, “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but I overheard Dawkins talking shit about you…so call me maybe?” (Note: that last line is a joke, for the people who are gonna read this & can’t wait to say mean things about Rebecca & me.)

    • Avatar of marilove
      September 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm —

      omg. i kind of love that song (for reals, shut up) and now i can’t stop laughing.

  12. Avatar of deviladv
    September 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm —

    Not to throw cold water on anything, but isn’t Dr. Hall’s book title “Women weren’t meant to fly” meant to be taken ironically? A quick read of the synopsis on Amazon and it seems to confirm that. This is a good rage on someone who needs to be raged on, but don’t you think it detracts from the argument if you are taking shots at someone who doesn’t deserve it? In fact, it’s probably something someone like Sara would use against you since she likes to cherry pick and misinterpret.

    • Avatar of Kammy
      September 16, 2013 at 2:17 pm —

      I think it’s understood that Dr. Hall’s title was meant to be taken ironically, but she was still writing about “women issues”, something Sara doesn’t think she should be doing.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      September 16, 2013 at 4:56 pm —

      Are you referring to my post or some comment I’m missing? I didn’t take a shot at Hall at all, nor did I imply that her book’s title was meant to be taken literally. Your comment is super confusing.

      • Avatar of Andrew Ryan
        September 17, 2013 at 7:36 am —

        I initially read the last paragraph too quickly and thought you were saying that Dr Hall was a bad role model because of that title, and then I read it again and realised you were very clearly saying that Dr Hall wrote about women’s issues and therefore was a bad choice for Sara’s counter examples of women sceptics. I’m guessing that deviladv made the same mistake as me, but he/she didn’t then re-read what you’d actually written.

  13. Avatar of Brian G
    September 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm —

    I know I’ve mentioned this before in the comments here and over at Mad Art Lab, but when I first met Rebecca she was nothing but kind, funny and engaging.
    It was the first NECSS in NYC and she had arrived at the Drinking Skeptically event on the night prior to the first day of the con. I wanted to go over and day hi but she was almost instantly swarmed by a crowd. After a while the crowd dissipated and my wife and I hesitantly went over to introduce ourselves. We ended up spending the next half hour chatting and hanging out. That meant SO MUCH to me. Rebecca was fresh off the bus from Boston and she took the time to hang out and talk to everyone around.
    And that has been my experience with the Skepchicks I’ve met since then. Kind, funny and engaging.
    And now that I’m a contributor to this network, I’ve tried to do the same when engaging with people who want to talk shop about Mad Art Lab or just hang out and shoot the shit.
    I took that ‘lesson’ that Rebecca inadvertently taught me to heart.

  14. Avatar of marilove
    September 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm —

    The Friendly Atheist totally blew me off at the atheist convention earlier this year — but then again, it was fairly late and I heard him say something about being hungry to someone, and he looked fucking exhausted. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to “blow me off” and was instead distracted by exhaustion and a grumbly tummy. I did not take it personally, like, at all. I just assumed he was hungry and in no mood to shake yet another hand lol

  15. Avatar of Giliell
    September 16, 2013 at 5:02 pm —

    Sara Mayhew lies. Or as they call it around here: Monday

  16. Avatar of skidoo
    September 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm —

    Well-said. Well done. Not mean, this. Exasperation? Eh, maybe. But not mean. A lot of reasonable people have got your back.

  17. Avatar of skidoo
    September 16, 2013 at 5:10 pm —

    To clarify: Above, “this” refers to this blog post, which is so well written; the tone is just on the nose. It’s not a mean response. It’s great.

    Just stop being such a bitch to moms and young women. Jesus.

  18. Avatar of Dan
    September 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm —

    I absolutely hate talking on the phone

    .
    Yes yes yes yes. I am eagerly awaiting the day when smartphones stop actually making calls and text-only is the norm >.>

    I haven’t yet had the opportunity to get to a conference in my new capacity at SoD but I hope I can be even half as friendly and accommodating as Rebecca is with the throngs! You know, to the three people who might know who I am :p

    • Avatar of Dan
      September 16, 2013 at 5:14 pm —

      Hrmmmmm blockquotes still down in my build of Firefox…

  19. Avatar of scribe999
    September 16, 2013 at 5:12 pm —

    This door swings both ways in terms of personal responsibility. The entitlement that “fans” feel can be overwhelming, and it should be said that we should also be responsible for a certain level of etiquette. Rebecca, I met you once briefly at NECSS’ Drinking Skeptically, and despite being busy with your own group, you were perfectly friendly and respectful in that interaction and you went back to your group. I certainly didn’t expect you to stand there and listen to my entire life’s story. I met Sara once too at NECSS and that interaction was somewhat terse, but I had no problem with that either. I should not expect everyone I happen to know the name of to behave like gregarious celebrities during a promotional event. We can’t know everything that’s going on with the, for all intents and purposes, stranger before us, and a modicum of some benefit of the doubt shouldn’t be too hard to muster.

    On a side note, I just read ‘The Mismeasure of Woman’ for a book club, and yeah, what the heck?

    • Avatar of scribe999
      September 16, 2013 at 5:13 pm —

      Also, Phil Plait once asked me on the line to the bar why it was so long, and I told him it was just because of the NECSS group being concentrated upstairs and that the downstairs bar is probably clear … and then he took off, lol.

      • Avatar of Søren Kongstad
        September 16, 2013 at 5:44 pm —

        I think I remember Phil Plait once explaining how he deals when he meets his idols, something along the line – don’t interrupt what they’re doing, introduce yourself and tell them you like what they do, then turn around and leave unless they seem genuinely into having a conversation. It’s a good thing to let people know you appreciate them, but they don’t owe you their time

        • Avatar of scribe999
          September 16, 2013 at 8:05 pm —

          Yup. That.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception
          September 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm —

          Steve Martin, who is easily flustered by fawning, used to give out (I don’t know if he still does) a business-sized card that read, “This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny.” then it was signed. I have yet to hear of anyone receiving this card that didn’t think it was so.

          • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
            September 17, 2013 at 5:53 pm

            That’s rather adorable <3

  20. Avatar of Søren Kongstad
    September 16, 2013 at 5:38 pm —

    I know you were not fishing for compliments , but I’ll relate my experiences.
    At TAM London, which was my first skeptics conference, I was thrilled to see so many celebrities. I tried to talk to some of them, but most were swamped, and the venue was kind of crap. So I was a little disappointed. You were there, but I didn’t blame you for being inaccessible especially when I heard the interviews you recorded in the breaks.

    But later at the Atheist conference in Copenhagen, there were quite fewer attendees.

    I got to speak with PZ, Rebecca Goldstein and the amazing Randi, but the nicest experience of rubbing elbows was at the bar during and after the Friday entertainment. A group of us were drinking beer, and Sid and you hung out with us for a long time.

    I know you don’t get to know someone by talking with them for an hour in a bar, but still it was a good experience to talk to someone I had enjoyed listening to, and finding them pleasant and smart in person.

    So from across the pond comes a big thank you for making a good conference better.

  21. Avatar of Elyse
    September 16, 2013 at 5:47 pm —

    The first time I met Rebecca in person, I’d been writing for Skepchick for a few months.

    She walked into the room and I ran up to her, gave her a big hug and said, “It’s so great to finally meet you!” She hugged me back… then was like “It’s great to meet you, too, but… um… who are you?”

    So even when I was a fucking weird ass lady running around demanding hugs, she gave me a hug.

    Three years later, I told her who I was.

  22. Avatar of KellyM
    September 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm —

    It’s clear by now that the reason that Sara Mayhew has a permanent speaking gig at TAM *because* of attacks like these. It certainly isn’t her sterling intellect nor her spelling/grammatical skills. I’m NOT accusing Mayhew of insincerity. For all I know, she believes every false, malicious, hypocritical thing she says. (Just one example is that she recently mocked Amy for being old. Lovely.) I *am* accusing DJ Grothe of rewarding those who attack his perceived “enemies,” no matter how unethical the attacks. Now when I think of James Randi, I think of someone who supports lying, petty childish vindictiveness, and hypocrisy. I’m sickened that I idolized the man for over three decades.
    Grothe and the JREF has also recently swindled one of these enemies out of thousands of dollars of work (while still currently using the unpaid-for work). I think the reputation of the Million Dollar Challenge has thus similarly been decimated.

  23. Avatar of Melissa
    September 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm —

    Ugh, I probably should know better than to comment when I’m in an emotional state but here goes. I feel sick to my stomach at the thought that Sara is using what I said in a tweet about Amy & Rebecca not technically being kicked out of DragonCon against them as proof they’re liars. They’re not liars. I was only reporting what D*C management told us. For all I know that high-on-power dipshit “Bobby” could have been lying. I should have clarified that even if it was just a tweet but I didn’t and now it looks like an open contradiction to Amy & Rebecca’s story. I believe they believe they were kicked out. That’s all I can know for sure. My boyfriend and I were trying to investigate the truth like good skeptics (and file a complaint on behalf of our friends’ mistreatment). But, like Barbara Drescher on FB told me, maybe I shouldn’t have been sticking my nose in where it didn’t belong.
    I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca & Amy many times in person and I know them to be kind, decent, thoughtful, and compassionate. They constantly receive disproportionally harsh criticism, harassment & threats and yet they get no compassion or understanding for their reactions to these threats! I can’t even imagine putting up with that bullshit for years. It makes them pretty strong women in my opinion and I respect them. As far as Sara goes, I don’t want to post anything that might be considered speculative gossip but Amy knows privately the evidence for what I believe about Sara.

    • Avatar of marilove
      September 16, 2013 at 8:45 pm —

      From what I can gather about all this and Sara in general, I wouldn’t worry about it too much — if it wasn’t your twitter comment(s), it would have been something/someone else, probably. What a mess.

  24. Avatar of Anne Marie
    September 16, 2013 at 7:05 pm —

    Sigh. This is all part of her long crusade to claim that Rebecca drives people from skepticism/atheism. Well, I stopped going to Virtual Drinking Skeptically because of Sara Mayhew and Rebecca and other awesome people like her keep me from giving up on the movement as a whole. Sara Mayhew denies that this is possible and makes all sorts of excuses and whines righteously about the time someone called her something mean in the comments of PZ’s blogs after she kept lying over and over. Apparently, this one person’s insult is somehow Rebecca’s fault (and anyone who disagree with her’s). No one can disagree with her about anything because someone called her a name once but all the harassment against feminists is totally cool with her. She’s infuriatingly hypocritical.

  25. Avatar of weatherwax
    September 16, 2013 at 7:30 pm —

    I have to throw in that I’ve met Rebecca briefly 2 or 3 times at 2 TAMs, and she never blew me off. On one occasion she didn’t really engage with me, but I didn’t realize until a few minutes later that she was getting ready to go on stage for a presentation, and a little distracted.

  26. Avatar of Jamie
    September 16, 2013 at 8:12 pm —

    When I first met Rebecca it was at SkepchickCON, a couple weeks after my SGU interview. I was standing around talking to someone and someone came up behind me and gave me a hug. When I turned around it was Rebecca who said she was so happy to finally meet me and was super nice and friendly all weekend.

  27. Avatar of Jamie
    September 16, 2013 at 8:27 pm —

    The first time I met Sara was at TAM. I was introduced to her and we chatted a bit. She was a little standoffish though. I assumed she must have been having a bad day. A couple weeks later I saw her again at a dinner pre-DragonCON and said hi to her. She didn’t remember me. I told her we had been introduced at TAM, but she just said she didn’t remember and acted super uncomfortable that I was even talking to her. I didn’t bother to talk to her again the rest of the weekend because she had made it clear she didn’t care to talk to me.

    The thing is, even though I was a little miffed, it wasn’t that big a deal. I chalked up her standoffishness to the fact that she might be shy and just not like talking to people she doesn’t know. Some people are just like that and it would be selfish for me to assume that just because I thought she seemed pretty interesting and would enjoy a conversation with her that she would feel the same way about me.

    I’m not writing this to be all “Sara was so mean when I met her” but more to make the point that I don’t really think it’s the responsibility of someone who has fans to have to talk to and be friendly with everyone who wants to talk to them. Sara didn’t want to talk to me and that’s her right to feel that way. Maybe she was having some bad days. Maybe she was stressed. Maybe she’s shy. Maybe I gave off a bad impression and she felt uncomfortable or something. It doesn’t matter. But it is certainly a bit hypocritical to make demands of other people that she is apparently unable to keep herself.

    • Avatar of Cygore
      September 17, 2013 at 6:37 am —

      When I met her, she didn’t really say anything to my wife and me, but I did appreciate that she took the time to acknowledge my praise of her work. She doesn’t have to be social, but if she’s going to demand that Rebecca be friendly to everyone, she should be willing to be friendly to all her fans too.

      Now I’m an ex-fan, but that’s due to her posts and comments after I introduced myself to her.

      • Avatar of Jamie
        September 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm —

        Yah, that’s the thing. I really didn’t care that she was all weird about meeting me or others, but to then turn around and demand that others treat the people they meet at cons better than she herself does is just disingenuous.

        • Avatar of Jamie
          September 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm —

          Oh, and I do want to make a quick addition to say that the third time I met Sara was maybe 6mo-ish after DragonCon at NECSS. She remembered me and was very nice and friendly. I assumed that my first two experiences with her she was either having bad days or was just a little shy. No big deal.

    • Avatar of Jane Doe
      September 17, 2013 at 4:43 pm —

      Well, that really seems to be the thing with her, isn’t it though? Just massive amounts of projection, over and over and over. I looked back over her recent timeline, and it’s a lot of her lobbing insults at Surly Amy and PZ for their “failed” careers and bad art, when it seems as though a “manga” artist whose only work is years old (and self-published) might want to think a little more carefully about stones and glass houses. She strikes me as a very sad and confused woman. If she wasn’t so relentlessly unpleasant all the time, I might pity her.

  28. Avatar of Melissa
    September 16, 2013 at 8:48 pm —

    I remember when I first met Rebecca. She had flaming blue hair and a cloak of gold. I challenged the feminist witch to a duel. She bested me with steel. But she spared my life. And I swore from that day my undying loyalty to her and that her enemies would become mine.

    • Avatar of That Moz Guy
      September 16, 2013 at 10:36 pm —

      *now* I want to meet Rebecca. That sounds amazing.
      I learned a long time ago that people’s online persona is often different from their offline-and-in-public one. I’ve met a number of internet-famous people, some of whom have been great, other have been… entitled is a good word. Others I’d happily invite back, and ideally to stay in my house so I can be entertained even more :) I really don’t get the “writes well, therefore must be highly social and fun to be around”. Those are different skills, and surely if anything would be inversely correlated.
      But I’m an introvert living in a big city on the far side of the planet, so it’s unlikely I’ll ever meet a famous skeptic (I’m not paying $200 to be one of hundreds of fans, let alone flying to the US to do so).

    • Avatar of Procrastinatrix
      September 16, 2013 at 10:43 pm —

      Please, please let this be COTW.

  29. Avatar of MrFancyPants
    September 16, 2013 at 8:50 pm —

    My take-away from the way Sara interacts with people is: don’t be a mean-spirited person, because it warps your judgement, perception, and critical thinking. So, thanks for that, Sara.

  30. Avatar of Emily Willingham
    September 16, 2013 at 11:09 pm —

    I have met Rebecca as a total stranger at a conference, just a few months ago. It was in the process of talking with a mutual acquaintance sitting at a table. We all three had just attended the same conference session. Rebecca was just hanging out when I approached to talk to my acquaintance and was not remotely standoffish or uncivil. As we were exchanging commentary about the session, she spontaneously said, “I liked your face, I mean, it was saying all the things that my brain was thinking at the time.” Which was hilarious, because I’m sure I was making all kinds of weird-ass faces. No hint of self importance, some brief references to social anxiety and feeling it. And her hair might have been blue? That’s it. People need to get over themselves. Also, who is Sara Mayhew?

  31. Avatar of flewellyn
    September 16, 2013 at 11:53 pm —

    I think this is overall the best response to Sara Mayhew:

  32. Avatar of pzmyers
    September 16, 2013 at 11:56 pm —

    Hmm. I don’t remember when I first met Rebecca, or how she responded to me. Maybe it wasn’t very memorable. Or maybe, you know, I’m old, and I’ve forgotten things.

  33. Avatar of rorschach
    September 17, 2013 at 12:39 am —

    I’ve met Rebecca quite a few times over the years, and found her to be accessible and always open for a quick chat. Come to think of it, I can’t think of many speakers on the atheist and skeptic circuit who are not happy to shake a hand or talk to a fan. But leaving Mayhew’s moronic attacks on Rebecca aside, I think the onus is also on attendees and fans to not hassle and corner conference speakers when they are busy, have just given a talk or sat on a panel, or seem otherwise engaged or occupied. It’s not rocket science.

  34. Avatar of rumleech
    September 17, 2013 at 5:22 am —

    The first time I met Rebecca, I haven’t. So, Sarah can’t get the better of you by argument, you have documentary evidence that you’re a decent person so she’s stymied there, she’ll be going for personal hygiene next, see if she doesn’t.

  35. Avatar of jimnewman
    September 17, 2013 at 6:15 am —

    Easy for me to remember my first RW siting since it was last May. The entire WS2 thing was a worry since I decided to go at the last minute because the cloud of crap had finally floated over my distant island and I wished to learn, support, as well as not do it stupidly with random insensitivity. Rebecca was great and so was Amy. They didn’t need to be. I don’t expect people at conferences to be at their best. I also often go alone which makes me seem odd, along with my Charles Manson, Jerry Garcia, Unabomber, Karl Marx, Mormon Prophet look. I am truly concerned about my daughters growing up in the backwaters of West Virginia and want to do them justice in raising them. They were great in helping me sort through this.

    Aside from my personal experience thing, when I read about this stuff, once again from my distant island, it seems a lot like barn yard politics and I wish there were a way to cut through the shit and have people be decent to each other. Out here we just have the mean roosters for dinner, separate the biggest roosters for slow cooking–or should I say my daughter chooses and I bear the chinese cleaver, do the clean up, and wish I could find a more friendly breed of chickens.

    I think I’m gonna get a card like Steve Martin’s but oriented from a fan (attendant) view, introducing myself, apologizing in advance for being ADD, rude, crude, insensitive, and promising I will take therapy on returning home.

  36. Avatar of Karin
    September 17, 2013 at 7:15 am —

    I know very little about Sara Mayhew, but what I’ve seen of her tweets (to and about Surly Amy, for instance) seem so petty and mean. Like high school “mean girl” behaviour.

    • Avatar of Ubi Dubium
      September 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm —

      Yes, that’s exactly the impression I have of Sara. She reminds me of the high school bullies who built their entire self-esteem on tearing down other people. Not being in high school any more, I no longer have to hang around people who behave like that. Not being on twitter probably helps me avoid them.

      I met Rebecca (and Amy and Kammy) at TAM9, then Rebecca and Amy again at WIS 1 and 2. As exhausted as they must have been from the travel, they were unfailingly kind, friendly and fun to be around. I’ll take their company any day.

  37. Avatar of Alterjess
    September 17, 2013 at 11:14 am —

    The first time I met RW was in line at the bar at the first NECSS Drinking Skeptically. We exchanged some small talk and then about half an hour later I realized who I’d been talking to and spent the rest of the night feeling very stupid for not introducing myself as a fan. (In between bouts of hiding in the corner with my beer trying to look very casual and pretending not to be hiding in the corner. Being shy sucks.)

  38. Avatar of Amanda Marcotte
    September 17, 2013 at 11:41 am —

    What’s fascinating about this, to me, is how Mayhew is so bad at concealing her misogyny. Most other misogynists are a little better at using bullshit and bad faith arguments to make it seem like they’re all for women’s equality but you feminists take it too far bullshit bullshit. Mayhew is straightforward in both defending an overtly sexist belief that women should regard themselves as public property that is always available for the use of others and in basically implying that women should be ashamed of being female and therefore any woman who talks about being female is in the wrong.

  39. Avatar of marilove
    September 17, 2013 at 10:34 pm —

    I wonder how many people think of me as some mean asshole in real life. I think Amy and Elyse can attest to the fact that I’m not. I’m actually really polite and outgoing and pretty social (although I can get kind aquiet and shy in new places and when around a bunch of people, but I eventually open up).

    Of course, I can also be kind of … scary, if you push the right buttons, but those are pretty hard to push unless you do or say something really stupid.

  40. Avatar of scribe999
    September 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm —

    So, don’t be an asshole to you and you won’t give it right back :)

  41. Avatar of heatherb
    September 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm —

    When I went to TAM, I thought Sara Mayhew was one of the most boring, pointless, unengaging speakers I’d ever seen. My friend whom I attend skeptic and atheist conferences with and I agreed to skip her session if we ever saw her name in a program again. Now I have even more reasons to avoid her.

    Also, Rebecca has been friendly and approachable every time we’ve talked to her at a conference. (I think it’s been twice now.)

  42. Avatar of maggie
    September 20, 2013 at 12:00 am —

    “relentless obsession with me”

    I don’t know. I’d allow that this is a true statement if there were, say, three or more posts about you and Skepchick on the front page of her blog.

    Oh. Wait… never mind.

  43. Avatar of mrthumbtack
    September 22, 2013 at 11:35 am —

    I was totally blown off by Richard Carrier when I tried to talk to him at Skepticon a few years ago. I don’t blame him though, it’s awkward and strange to have to talk to interact with a bunch of strangers who only know you through your work, and I recognize that I approached him at a funny time.
    That said, I got the chance to meet Rebecca and Amy at DragonCon this year, and they were both very friendly. Rebecca had on an awesome Wolverine Cosplay, and Amy was not at all surly, despite her nickname.

  44. Avatar of carriepoppy
    September 27, 2013 at 10:05 pm —

    I had to skip past the Twitter parts, but the end of this is really very, very delightful.

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