Feminism

Grabby Cabbies, Street Harassers, and Ferengi: About Last Weekend

Several years ago, I was living on my own in Boston (well, the ridiculously nicer town of Brookline, to be honest). I left a Somerville bar after the subway had stopped running, so I hopped in a cab for the fairly quick trip home.

I love cab drivers, and when I’m in the mood, I like talking to them because so many are from places I’ve never been and have interesting stories. That night, my driver was Muhammad from Morocco, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. We talked about what it was like there, and how easy it would be to get around as a foreigner, and how tough the language barrier might be.

About 20 minutes later, we were a block from my apartment. I let Muhammad know that he could pull over wherever was convenient. He asked which building, and I said, “Oh, just up there, so anywhere around here should be fine.”

“This building?”

“Um, yes, but just pull over wherever, really!”

Instead of pulling over to the right, he turned to the left into a parking spot and turned off the car and the meter.

“Ummmm,” I said, “so how much do I owe you?”

“Oh,” he said while turning around in his seat, “it’s okay, we should just talk a bit more.”

I tried to hand him $20, and he grabbed my wrist and pulled me through the window between the front and back seats. He tried to kiss me on the mouth but I turned and pulled away, so he only brushed up against my cheek. I dropped the money and jumped out of the car, dashed across the street, and ran up to my apartment on the third floor. Inside, I locked the door and then felt my way to my bedroom without turning on the lights, fearing that he’d see my window light up and know which apartment was mine.

It was a singular incident for me, and one that I recounted several times for friends as a funny anecdote. It was the final ridiculous thing to happen to me in a string of ridiculous things that had happened all that day. I haven’t really thought about it much in the intervening years.

This past Saturday night, I waited in a New York bar for my friends to finish their last drinks so that we could go back to our hotel. I wanted to go about an hour earlier, but I was waiting to split a cab for the 20 short blocks. As the bartender settled up, I realized that my friends weren’t going back to the hotel, but were heading to another bar. One friend gave me some cash for the cab, and I left on my own.

Out on the street, traffic was light and cabs seemed plentiful, but after a moment of hesitation, I decided to just walk. I was in midtown Manhattan on 7th – not a particularly scary part of town, even at 2am. Still, though, I was really tired, and I had a blister on one of my feet, and I realized at some point that I really would rather just be in a cab. I couldn’t figure out why, then, I wasn’t hailing one. After several blocks, I thought of the Boston incident and wondered if maybe that’s why I hate taking cabs late at night by myself these days.

Literally as I was pondering that, a man passed me and made a comment about the hotness of my hair. I couldn’t quite hear him and I didn’t stop to get a clarification. He reached for me but I quickened my pace and he didn’t follow.

Half a block later, another man walked up to me and offered me $1,000 if I’d let him do unspeakable things to me. Again, I didn’t respond, nor did I slow my pace. One of the first lessons I learned in Getting Street Harassed University was Just Keep Going Because Maybe He Will Decide to Murder You and People Will Say It Was Your Fault. He said something else I couldn’t make out.

As I passed that guy, a third man fell in beside me and matched my pace.

“Oh my god, did that guy really just say that to you?”

“I guess,” I shrugged, eyes straight ahead and still keeping my pace.

“I can’t believe he said that. I bet a girl like you gets shit like that all the time.”

I shrugged. “Whatever.”

“I bet you got some stories. I bet we got a lot in common. We’d have some good conversations.”

“Whatever, man, I’m just trying to get home to my boyfriend.”

“Your boyfriend ain’t here. He can wait.”

“Sorry, dude.”

“Come on…”

“Nope.”

“Maaaaaan (unintelligible cursing)….”

I continued walking straight ahead and he turned away. Just then, a group of guys approached me. “I bet she’ll give you her number,” one said to the other. I passed them. “Will you?” one shouted from behind me. “No,” I shouted without turning around.

Four come-ons in two blocks: a new record for me! For the next few blocks back to the hotel, I wondered if it would have been less upsetting to deal with one guy in an enclosed space who could drive me wherever he wanted, or several dozen guys in an open space gauntlet who could follow me or drag me wherever they wanted. Then I thought a bit about how unfair it is that that’s even something I have to think about. Then I thought about how my parents raised me on the phrase, “Well, life’s not fair,” and I hurried back to my hotel where I slipped into bed with my boyfriend.

“I’m never letting you out of my sight again,” he said. I laughed and told him it wasn’t that big a deal, that it’s just been awhile since I’ve had that much harassment in one short time period, and that it didn’t bother me that much, but even while I said it I knew that at least two of those statements weren’t entirely truthful.

The next morning, I Tweeted/Facebooked this:

New record set last night: 4 come-ons within 2 short blocks. Fave: “I’ll give you $1k if you let me…” @everydaysexism

(If you’re not aware, @EverydaySexism catalogues daily examples of things like street harassment and assault.)

One of the Facebook responses was this, from someone I don’t know named Joshua:

So it’s apparently now sexist to approach a female with sexual interest? Awesome.

My first thought was this:

finger face

My response was this:

Omg who is this dumbass on my feed, ha ha

He’s a ferengi

Hello feeeeeemale, I am approaching you with sexual interest and offering two bars of latinum

I’ll be honest, that made me laugh and laugh. Joshua posted again to say this:

Discounting the one offering money; Wait, wait, wait… I think I know how it goes…

1) Male initiates come-on
2) Female declines
3) Male respectfully accepts declination
4) Male gets called names on the internet
5) Female rights have been upheld.

And finally I unfriended him, because, really, you know you don’t have much going in the logic department when to even try to make an argument you have to begin by discounting the only example your opponent gave you. It’s my experience that people who are so indoctrinated and unable to think critically about their own viewpoint (in this case, the view that it is somehow anti-man for a woman to use her personal Facebook page to complain about unnamed (and un-gendered) strangers offering her money for sex) are not worth arguing with. They’re only good to bat around like a catnip mouse for a few amusing moments before discarding.

I thought that would be the end of it, but (and I still can’t even believe this happened as I’m typing this) Joshua then had the audacity to send this email in to the podcast I co-host, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe:

From: Joshua [redacted]

Email: [redacted]

Location: UK

Category: Feedback

Subject: Leaving the SGU

Message: Dear SGU,

I’m writing to say a farewell to the SGU… Recently I had a minor altercation with Rebecca Watson regarding an issue of sexism. This was my first ever direct contact with a SGU member, taking place on the above named’s Facebook wall in response to a post I didn’t think warranted the sexism ‘label’, and I was excited for a discussion that would result in my own enlightenment and clarification of an issue that I’m interested in, albeit not especially knowledgeable of.

However… When, what I thought, I provided comments that would elicit clarification of an issue or incite an explanation, Rebecca instead resorted to insulting me. This was… surprising… As I previously stated, this was my first direct communication with an SGU member. The latter of which, without providing any thoughtful commentary, called me a “dumbass”, “stupid”, and even likened my physical appearance to that of a ‘Ferengi’. If I’m truly honest, this hurt my feelings. Quite substantially. It almost feels like a pillar of confidence has broken away. I’ve listened to the SGU for literally years, and you guys have brought me through some incredibly tough times. I’m now a working research assistant at a university, and frequently use the SGU as a source of my argument skills, insight and critical thinking within debate. All five of you have inspired me deeply, and I admire you all, regardless of this setback. However, I honestly feel quite heart-broken about this altercation. I did not mean to offend Rebecca, and if I unintentionally did I at least wouldn’t have expected the response I received.

I apologise for sounding melodramatic, but moving forward I don’t think I can continue to listen to the SGU. This perturbs me a lot, but whilst listening to you guys, specifically Rebecca, I will only be reminded this episode, doubtlessly questioning ‘How could someone I’ve admired for so long judge me so harshly without giving any second thought’. I mean, this is literally a case of one of my sceptical heroes defying all of my conceptions of them, and personally attacking me on a relatively public medium. This leaves me a little heartbroken, but I feel I need to send this email, not with the expectancy of a response, but for my own personal closure.

Thank you for everything you have taught me, and I wish you all the best of luck in the future.

Joshua [redacted]

I wasn’t planning to respond to this, and was happy just to have actual proof that mocking someone like this does actually hurt his feelings. One might even hope that he might have the self-awareness to realize if he was that hurt by a stranger calling him a Ferengi in a Facebook conversation, maybe women might be hurt by many strangers constantly calling them sex objects as they try to walk down the street unmolested.

But after reading the Facebook thread, Steve Novella did respond. His response is more than sufficient, I think:

Joshua,

Thanks for writing. I think either you are missing the context here, in which case I can enlighten you, or you are perfectly aware of the context here.

Here is what you wrote:
“So it’s apparently now sexist to approach a female with sexual interest? Awesome.”

This is not a genuine question. The “awesome” at the end clearly makes it a negative and sarcastic commentary.

Rebecca was recounting how she was harassed on the streets, including one person directly offering her money if she would pleasure him. Your comment was clearly dismissive. If you were genuinely confused you could have actually asked a question, and if you were the slightest bit savvy you would have included a disclaimer so that your comment would not be confused for sexist trolling.

The larger context here also is that Rebecca and other female skeptics have been under constant online harassment by sexists and misogynists in the movement. So yeah, they’re a bit sensitive to that kind of trolling.

For the record she also did not compare your physical appearance to a Ferengi. She compared the attitude in your comment to that of a Ferengi – and even gave a specific example.

So – giving you the benefit of the doubt, at best you naively stepped into a touchy issue unaware of the history and grossly misinterpreted the situation. If you genuinely are interested in learning why your average woman does not like being cat called on the streets late at night in the middle of New York, then you might try apologizing for your insensitivity and asking more appropriate questions.

You must understand, however, that your behavior, including this e-mail, are indistinguishable from the all-too-common sexist trolling that we get. So at this point you really should just apologize or go away.

Regards,

Steve

(Previously in amazing Steve Novella responses…)

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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81 Comments

  1. April 16, 2014 at 3:35 pm —

    Ah, Steve Novella. The more I read from him, the more awesome he gets.

    Sorry you had to go through that shit, Rebecca.

    It’s almost always men. Straight, cis, able-bodied men. *sigh*

  2. April 16, 2014 at 3:45 pm —

    While Joshua’s e-mail was whiny and self-serving I have to say I don’t think there was anything wrong with his initial question/snark. Yeah, it does come across like Rebecca is saying all sexual interest from a male to a female is a form a harassment, she even calls them “come-on’s”, since when is a come-on harassment?

    What does her experience getting groped by a cab driver in Boston have to do with the “4 come-on’s within 2 short blocks”? Also, was that meant as some kind of humble brag? (I’m so hot that 4 guys hit on me in two blocks). What if you walked 2 blocks and didn’t get hit on once? Would this mean that you are losing looks or that men are better behaved?

    News flash girl: Just because one cab driver groped you doesn’t mean they’re all out to get you and just because one guy offered you a $1,000 to do whatever doesn’t mean the other three were harassing you.

    One last note, the story seems a bit too much like fiction to be believable, even for New York. There is a lot of real harassment that takes place every day, it doesn’t need to be invented.

    I’m a fan of Skepchick; read everyday, send links to interesting articles and have supported the site through auctions, but this is too much of a stretch for me, this post is just as whiny and self-serving as Joshua’s letter and it helps no one.

    • April 16, 2014 at 4:37 pm —

      I’m letting this piece of shit comment through moderation just so other commenters can have fun with it, but someone please let me know when it’s time to ban this asshole. Thanks.

      • April 16, 2014 at 10:04 pm —

        Rebecca, just thank you. Thank you for being Real, and funny, and telling the female viewpoint (and still being so cool about it) and not backing down. You are very much in the right. You make me proud to be a skeptic and a woman, and I DO feel more welcome in the community with you around :)

      • April 21, 2014 at 2:39 pm —

        I’ve said it before and I’ll doubtless say it many more times, but I have no idea how you (and every woman on the internet with an opinion) can put up with crap like rebopine and Joshua every single fucking day. I’m surprised more of you don’t walk away from it (and I do not belittle those who do – I certainly don’t think I could put up with it for long), but I admire every one of you. Thank you for being here.

    • April 16, 2014 at 4:44 pm —

      I literally do not believe that you’re a frequent reader/contributor. And if you are, that just makes you look a hell of a lot worse. Because if you really were, you’d understand why your comment is full of such bullshit.

    • April 16, 2014 at 4:59 pm —

      (1) Why isn’t an offer of $1000 for sexual favors to a random woman walking down the street enough justification for a casual reference to sexism on facebook the next day?
      (2) Do you think that “come ons” made to someone you can’t have know for more than 1/2 block might skew towards the harassment side of the ledger?
      (3) Do you see how “So it’s apparently now sexist to approach a female with sexual interest? Awesome.” is not an example of a good faith “initial question”? It’s a strawman, and given that it was responding to an offer of sex for money, it is a pretty trolly one at that. You admit that his email was whiny and self-serving, so why go to the trouble to read good faith into his original remark?

    • April 16, 2014 at 5:02 pm —

      If you seriously think most of us find these incidents flattering, you’re quite deluded. Being hit on in the street can be quite threatening depending on the situation: how many you’re with, what kind of street, etc. That doesn’t mean being hit on is always bad, just that some guys don’t understand or don’t care which situations are threatening or at least very uncomfortable.

    • April 16, 2014 at 5:27 pm —

      Yep, totally totally a supporter of Skepchick, read everyday, send links and support through auctions but never ever commented before and maiden post is this POS!

      Looks like we lost another POWER ALLY!

    • April 16, 2014 at 5:28 pm —

      “girl”? Really? Rebecca is a grown ass fucking woman.

    • April 16, 2014 at 5:28 pm —

      “girl”? Really? Rebecca is a grown ass fucking woman.

    • April 16, 2014 at 5:36 pm —

      Also, was that meant as some kind of humble brag?

      No, it was meant to be fucking frightening.

    • April 16, 2014 at 6:05 pm —

      “I don’t think there was anything wrong with his initial question/snark. Yeah, it does come across like Rebecca is saying all sexual interest from a male to a female is a form a harassment, she even calls them “come-on’s”, since when is a come-on harassment?”

      Hah hah hah hah hah! It’s almost like you think a woman’s default setting is “consenting to sexual interaction” and she must explicitly opt-out, to everyone, individually, upon every encounter, and of course must be polite and kind and take care of the precious feelings of the (pretty much exclusively) men who engage her in sexual interaction against her will! Because her default setting is “sex object” even when she’s walking down the street in public, and you couldn’t be EXPECTED to know that she doesn’t think of herself as public sexual property and didn’t want your come-on! It’s like you think she isn’t actually a human being with a right to walk down a street without sexual interaction from people who may or may not be willing to carry through and go from verbal interaction to physical interaction, and there’s no way to know until they actually start to carry out a physical assault!

      It’s =like= you think these things, but you can’t possibly be thinking these things, because that would make you a despicable human being, and we =know= you’re not a despicable human being. So it has to be a hilarious joke! Right? Right? Hah hah hah hah!

      • April 17, 2014 at 6:34 pm —

        100 times ^^^THIS.

        My god, women might go out in public for other reasons than being potentially available for straight cisman sexytimes? Say it isn’t so!

    • April 16, 2014 at 6:39 pm —

      …there isn’t enough “FUCK YOU” in the world for you, rebopine.

      And for someone who reads Skepchick everyday, you sure act like one of them sexist trolls the “girls” get to talking about.

      (and seriously? Girls? Really? Go step on a Lego).

    • April 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm —

      Okay, maybe an analogy will help:

      You’re walking down the street in downtown [city]. You suddenly hear someone yell out at you, “Hey you! Buff guy! You look strong, so why don’tcha fix my roof?”

      Then, half a block later, you hear, “Hey muscles, I’d like to see you up on my roof if you know what I mean.”

      Then someone walks along behind you and says, “Man, what’s with all these rude people asking you to fix their roofs. So rude. Though I guess if you wanted to fix my roof, I wouldn’t say no. Come on… Jerk.”

      Then you pass a group of people, and you overhear, “Hey, I bet that guy’ll fix your roof. Won’t you, dude?”

      Now, even if you like fixing roofs, wouldn’t this be a bit offputting? If you posted about this on Facebook, do you think it would be bragging about how buff you look, or “How weird/frightening was this?”

      We’re still not quite to how it is for women dealing with street harassment, though. Go back to the previous example, and instead of imagining humans harassing you, imagine it’s bears. And imagine that they want to hold your sex organ in the paws as they massage it. Maybe if it’s a bear you trust (and you’re into that kinda thing*) you’d feel safe and enjoy it. But for strange bears, anyone of whom could easily overpower you and maim you?

      That’s closer to what women feel about street harassment.

      *I DO NOT recommend or condone this. Just a metaphor.

    • April 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm —

      “While Joshua’s e-mail was whiny and self-serving”

      The “I’m not an enemy” disclaimer. Classic.

      “I have to say I don’t think there was anything wrong with his initial question/snark. Yeah, it does come across like Rebecca is saying all sexual interest from a male to a female is a form a harassment, she even calls them “come-on’s”, since when is a come-on harassment?”

      When you call her a whore? (And yes, if you offer a woman $1000 for sex, you’re literally calling her a whore, an occupation which is still stigmatized in society.) When you grab her like you’re about to rape her? Forcing a kiss on her? Seriously, what part of this is not harassment? I mean, there are guys who just don’t ‘get’ social cues, I understand that, but at some point, you have to…Even my dog knows better than this.

      “News flash girl:”

      Well, I’m younger than Rebecca, so this makes me feel young.

      “Just because one cab driver groped you doesn’t mean they’re all out to get you and just because one guy offered you a $1,000 to do whatever doesn’t mean the other three were harassing you.”

      No big deal. “Yeah, I got up late, my computer crashed at work, and on the way home, I was almost raped, so all in all, it was a bad day. But I was only almost raped once today, so there’s that.” #Sarcasm

      Or maybe that kind of stuff is a huge deal.

      “One last note, the story seems a bit too much like fiction to be believable, even for New York. There is a lot of real harassment that takes place every day, it doesn’t need to be invented.”

      Classic concern troll.

      “I’m a fan of Skepchick; read everyday, send links to interesting articles and have supported the site through auctions, but this is too much of a stretch for me, this post is just as whiny and self-serving as Joshua’s letter and it helps no one.”

      Your first post. Yeah.

    • April 19, 2014 at 11:47 am —

      Dear rebopine,

      Porn videos are fantasies, Not documentaries. That a woman you have never met before who you encounter on the street at 2 a.m. consents to have sex with you typically does not happen in real life. If one of your buddies tells you he “succeeded” I would suggest regarding such claims with a high level of skepticism. You would probably meet Bigfoot before you find a woman who consents to sex with a stranger she meets on the street at 2 a.m.

  3. April 16, 2014 at 3:50 pm —

    Holy IPU that’s frightening! I’m sorry to hear about the cab assault and the street harassment. I don’t even have the energy to engage with the likes of Joshua: weapons grade ignorance and complete lack of empathy. Stuff like this isn’t why I stopped identifying as female, but it’s strong factor in why I’m chucking my tights and skirts.

  4. April 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm —

    ” I honestly feel quite heart-broken about this altercation.”

    Yet another dude that thinks Rebecca (and probably all women) needs to live up to his image of her. He may have been listening to you guys for years but he clearly wasn’t listening very well.

  5. April 16, 2014 at 4:20 pm —

    Dear Joshua: Your third point is the bullshit part. Also your first point. Offering someone money for something is not a come on, it’s solicitation. It is disrespectful, because it literally commodifies the woman.
    Also, if you really are after knowledge, say something like “hey, where can I learn more about street harassment and the problems with it?” But you don’t, so fuck off.

  6. April 16, 2014 at 4:26 pm —

    Hey! It’s like that time when we had the Baseline Killer running about my neighborhood grabbing women from the streets and bus stops, raping and murdering them. It was 5am and it was still pitch dark out and I was walking to the bus stop. Some guy came rolling up behind me in a small truck. I knew he was going to slow waaaay down as soon as he reached me — I knew it before he got near. Sometimes you just know.

    He slowed to a very gentle roll, right next to me, and said, “Hey, baby, wanna ride?” It was too dark for me to see inside. I just screamed, “FUCK YOU!” and took off running toward the bus stop, heart pounding. Thankfully a few other people were already waiting.

    Do you know HOW MANY PEOPLE have told me that I reacted poorly? One person actually said, “Well, there’s a difference between “yes” and “fuck you” — why not “no, thanks?”

    On Facebook once, several years ago, I had several guys pile on to me, telling me how awful I was for assuming this guy had evil motives. Please note I didn’t make any assumptions — I just assumed I had no idea, one way or another, and I wasn’t about to stick around to find out.

    But apparently, even when a guy comes rolling up behind you in the dark and calls you baby, you’re supposed to be polite!

    Oh, and apparently, even though there was a FUCKING RAPIST AND MURDER TERRORIZING MY CITY AND *MY NEIGHBORHOOD*, I am still not allowed to assume the guy rolling up to me in the dark and calling me baby *might* have evil motives. Nope. I’m supposed to assume that every guy in that situation is just trying to be polite and asking a woman in the dark who clearly knows where she’s going if she wants a ride.

    Apparently, I’m supposed to assume every guy on the streets rolling up to me in the dark isn’t a rapist or murderer.

    Until he is one, of course. Then I am murdered or raped. But at least I was polite, right?

    • April 16, 2014 at 5:09 pm —

      “Apparently, I’m supposed to assume every guy on the streets rolling up to me in the dark isn’t a rapist or murderer.
      Until he is one, of course. Then I am murdered or raped. But at least I was polite, right?”

      No, then it’s your own fault for what you were wearing/walking alone/using poor judgment/being a woman in public, remember?

      • April 16, 2014 at 9:28 pm —

        Catch-22 should’ve been about living as a woman in today’s society.

  7. April 16, 2014 at 4:31 pm —

    Miri Mogilevsky (@sondosia on twitter) had a pretty righteous twitter rant yesterday that touched on this (among lots of other incisive call-outs). The whole stream is great, but of particular relevance here:

    You sound different when you genuinely want to receive new information than when you’re disguising your contempt as a question.

    (Whole thing starts here)

    Also, I can’t over how much this guy wants to be coddled. He’s “heartbroken” that you responded to his rude obliviousness with something besides polite sweetness. Wait wait wait, I think I know how it goes:
    1) woman shares justifiable complaint
    2) dude obtusely misrepresents woman’s complaint
    3) woman laughingly laughs at dude’s laughable thoughtlessness
    4) dude sends FEELINGSMAIL to woman AND HER FRIENDS about how he’s been GRIEVOUSLY DISRESPECTED

    • April 16, 2014 at 6:48 pm —

      “4) dude sends FEELINGSMAIL to woman AND HER FRIENDS about how he’s been GRIEVOUSLY DISRESPECTED”

      Holy shit, all of this, and not just her friends, her male co-hosts. It reeked of “Control dis bitch” to me like whoa.

      • April 16, 2014 at 9:21 pm —

        Well, you know how men are always getting all emotional and irrational.
        Must be hormones.

        *insert evo-psych explanation about the differences between male and female mating strategies*

        • April 18, 2014 at 3:11 pm —

          Oh, that would be interesting. I wonder if evo psych explanations for rape ever considered infanticide or parental abandonment in their theories. Newborn mammals can’t live without their mothers, and I’m afraid nature really is red in tooth and claw. I imagine abortion performs the same function in a more humane manner.

      • April 17, 2014 at 11:23 am —

        Yes, definitely. I was thinking of how he’s trying to control her by fostering drama in her social group, but it smacks of gender policing (?) as well (“gentlemen, you best keep this dame in line”).

  8. April 16, 2014 at 4:34 pm —

    It’s nuts that the going rate for quality Oo-mox is a pathetic $1k. That’s not worth a single lobe-tap.

  9. April 16, 2014 at 5:37 pm —

    Steve Novella is bloody magical.
    I think he might be an actual wizard.

  10. April 16, 2014 at 5:46 pm —

    My heart sinks when I read this kind if thing. Is it really so hard to treat women with a molecule of respect?

  11. April 16, 2014 at 5:56 pm —

    To the ‘Joshuas’ of the world,
    To approach a woman you do not know, with a request for sex, at anytime is, and always will be, harassment.

  12. April 16, 2014 at 6:44 pm —

    To the Joshua’s of the world,

    Take the pieces of your broken heart and shove them up your whiny ass. Sideways.
    And while you’re doing that, allow me to show you the appropriate response when someone talk about being harassed:

    “Damn, Rebecca, that blows. I’m sorry.”

    Ta-da!

  13. April 16, 2014 at 10:00 pm —

    Wow! Yeah, go ahead and ban me (and any other discourse you don’t approve of, it’s you’re site) but it won’t matter, I have no desire to converse with this cadre of damaged people. You people are really something else. I never read the comments here before and now I know why I won’t be starting now. There are some really talented and insightful writers on the site though, their following not withstanding, I’ll keep reading and supporting via RSS, thanks.

    “I wondered if it would have been less upsetting to deal with one guy in an enclosed space who could drive me wherever he wanted, or several dozen guys in an open space gauntlet who could follow me or drag me wherever they wanted. Then I thought a bit about how unfair it is that that’s even something I have to think about.”

    You all read the same article right, you read this sentance? If you think every cab driver is out to get you and every street is a gauntlet where at least 24 guys are out to get you at every moment, then you need help. What does being a skeptic have to do with thinking every male of the species is a rapist or murderer? At least one commenter here admitted to straight up assuming every guy is a rapist.

    “as they try to walk down the street unmolested” First it was 4 come-on’s (your words) and now you were molested? Yes, some really crappy things happened to you that shouldn’t have happened and no one had the right to do those things to you and they should be shamed for their behavior. The hyperbole is really unnecessary though.

    I never said I thought the come-on’s were flattering (Veronica – who’s creating a strawman now). Boyofd, 1. I was critiquing the Skepchick post today. 2. It doesn’t really matter what I think, but I don’t live my life consumed by fear. Caution and fear are not the same thing. 3. You’re looking for “good faith” from random dudes on internet comment boards?

    Why you would expect so much from anonymous men on the Internet and assume so little of anonymous men in person? This contradiction puzzles me. His comment was unnecessary, clearly not intended to show real concern, and pretty rude but none of that means the idea he intentioned is entirely without merit.

    For a bunch of skeptics you guys sure think you have all the answers, it’s almost like a theology of it’s own.

    • April 16, 2014 at 10:17 pm —

      I find your lack of self-awareness… disturbing.

    • April 16, 2014 at 10:20 pm —

      Keep up the good work! Rebopine is apparently exactly the type of person you’d want to alienate.

    • “I have no desire to converse with this cadre of damaged people”

      Which is why you kept on for another five or six paragraphs of the same grade o’ bullsh*t you offered upthread…

    • April 16, 2014 at 10:35 pm —

      I’m sorry, did with interrupt you in mid-flounce of your dramatic exit? Fuck off.

    • April 16, 2014 at 10:44 pm —

      “I have no desire to converse with this cadre of damaged people. ”

      Then why the hell did you just make a super long rant? looooooooollllllllll

    • April 16, 2014 at 10:47 pm —

      “At least one commenter here admitted to straight up assuming every guy is a rapist.”

      And I hope you’re not talking about me and my own story about having to fend of an asshole who thought it was apporopriate to roll on up behind me in his truck when it was pitch-dark out and call me “baby”, during a time when there was a LITERAL serial rapist and murderer on the loose in my neighborhood.

      No, I don’t assume every man is a rapist; I assume that I DO NOT KNOW EITHER WAY, and in certain situations it’s safer and more comfortable or me to just not attempt to find out.

      • April 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm —

        This … individual … reacts like one of those dudes who has heard about Schrodinger’s Rapist and suffered a complete and total failure to comprehend the concept.

    • April 16, 2014 at 10:56 pm —

      un·mo·lest·ed
      adjective
      1. not pestered or molested; left in peace.

      Arguing for paragraphs about someone’s use of a word because HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS… what an absolute fuckwad.

    • April 17, 2014 at 2:44 am —

      Is this guy for real? I mean, really, is he?

      If he is, he’s simply very stupid, and a bad liar.

    • April 17, 2014 at 4:33 am —

      Let’s see, we have, in one gloriously fucked comment:

      The “banning my bullshit means you don’t welcome discourse!” whinge
      The “you’re just exaggerating and saying all men are rapists!” exaggeration.
      The “I’m gonna (possibly on purpose) completely misunderstand what you actually said” dodge — “unmolested” apparently only means the act of literally not being molested now or something.
      The “You so-called skeptics are skepticing wrong” wankery
      And for the bullshit coated cherry on top of this sundae of fail, the “You’re all too damaged for reasonable discourse” flounce.

      Do us all a favor and stay the fuck of the comments. Obviously you can’t handle it.

    • April 17, 2014 at 8:30 am —

      I guess you won’t be reading any of these comments, but just for the sake of clarity, your “Rebecca thinks every cab driver is a molester, etc.” take on the original story is grossly, and probably willfully, obtuse. She was plainly relaying her risk assessment, which is something that everyone, including male skeptics, performs every day. I don’t have to think that all minorities or poor people are criminals to think twice about where and when I will walk down the street alone. Unfortunately, women often have to include predictions about possible encounters with harassing men of all types to their calculus, and Rebecca is simply thinking out loud whether one almost-worst-case scenario is better or worse than the other almost-worse-case scenario. That’s not sexist; it is steeped in experience. As men, we should be offended that other men have given Rebecca a reason to think this way, not that she would react to her actual experiences.

      • April 17, 2014 at 11:01 am —

        It has to be willfully obtuse. There’s no way someone is REALLY as stupid as to say all the stuff he did. Or maybe he just is that stupid (and ignorant).

        • April 17, 2014 at 11:01 am —

          I smell trolling though.

          • April 17, 2014 at 11:24 am

            Me too. Just trying to assume some element of good faith in case there is an opportunity to convince someone to adjust their viewpoint.

      • April 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm —

        And you know what? MEN ALSO DO THIS. It’s not like walking alone at night is safe for men, either — I had a girl friend of mine who was mugged at gun point in North fucking Phoenix (where mugging is not that common — in all my 13 years, largely without a car and with being very independent and “dangerously” walking alone at night a fair amount, it’s never happened) — and while my friend happened to be female, the same guy had targeted other people, including men. With his gun. And his description at first was pretty vague — tall white guy with light brown hair and a hoodie. (He was eventually caught.)

        My girl friend changed her behavior and became even less trusting on the streets after that.

        BECAUSE A GUN WAS POINTED AT HER HEAD.

        That’s NOT the same thing as assuming every man (or person) on the streets is about to mug her, but dude. It happened to her, just as some pretty terrible street sexual harassment has happened to me. It changes you. Suddenly you realize how vulnerable you are. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    • April 17, 2014 at 10:29 am —

      If you want to be truly skeptical, then you can’t ever know somebody is a murderer or a rapist until they’re murdering or raping you. At that point all that should be going through a true skeptic’s head is “My hypothesis was confirmed/disproved…”

      Does that help you realize what kind of a standard you’re putting Rebecca’s experience up to? She’s not assuming that every man is a rapist, she is assuming every man COULD be a rapist – an assumption that is both empirically true and demonstrated by her own experience.

      • April 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm —

        She’s not even going so far as to assume that every man *could* be a rapist. She’s saying that getting approached multiple times for sex by strangers at night makes her feel uncomfortable and concerned for her safety– from strangers who approach her with aggressive offers for sex. Not prone to aggressively approaching strange women and demanding sex from them? Then she’s probably not talking about you. (general you)

    • April 17, 2014 at 11:37 am —

      > it’s almost like a theology of it’s own.

      It’s either that, or it’s that you’re wrong. You’re unwilling to consider the latter (good job, skeptic!), so the former is what you sadly settled on.

      I recogize that cognitive dissonance is terribly uncomfortable — truly, sincerely I do — but I’d encourage you to embrace it and use it as a tool for examining your assumptions. The great failure of big-S Skepticism today the unwillingness to apply skepticism to oneself and to the aether of cultural programming we’re all breathing.

    • April 17, 2014 at 5:50 pm —

      “I have no desire to converse with this cadre of damaged people.” *goes on to write an additional 385 words*

  14. April 16, 2014 at 10:09 pm —

    This seems more than coincidence. Was there some external factor drawing the dweebs out like a Richard Dawkins book signing or Rush Limbaugh appreciation day in NYC that day?

    • April 16, 2014 at 10:48 pm —

      idk, seems pretty likely that assholes are watching her twitter like hawks just so they can find shit to harass her about.

  15. April 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm —

    If anyone is concerned that rebopine might be leaving us, don’t fret. If we want more posts like his, we can easily simulate them with the following algorithm:

    1) Type in a 5 year old’s temper tantrum.
    2) Pick a random word X from Rebecca’s post. Search Google for “X persecution” and grab random text from random pages in the search results. Combine with text from step 1 and shuffle.
    3) Grab random words from the Wikipedia entry for logical fallacies. Combine with the result from step 2 and shuffle.
    4) Substitute random words from step 3 with a random synonym form a thesaurus.
    5) Misspell random common English words from step 4.

    I’m not sure where we can get a source of text for his obnoxious, “I’m just asking questions” sophistry, but the rest is easy.

  16. April 16, 2014 at 11:14 pm —

    Now that you’ve learned women will not trust you if you try to fence them into conversation in the middle of a dark street at odd hours of the morning, you can stop acting surprised that it’s true (because now you know!) and start writing a report about it to your former third grade teacher for a sticker for learning an obvious thing.

  17. April 16, 2014 at 11:54 pm —

    I love how whenever one of these dung beetles disagrees with our assessment of them it’s because we are not being sufficiently skeptical, not because they are being unfathomably obtuse.

    I also love that every time someone comes here to obtusely dismiss they toss out some sort of “proof” of their bona fides to try to prove ahead of time that they aren’t just another tool-bag that is here to scream “WRONG!”. Too bad for them they are so transparent. Long time supporter indeed.

  18. April 17, 2014 at 12:49 am —

    Rebecca, it sucks that you had to go through any of that. And then to have to deal with trolls like Joshua and rebopine. I wish I could think of something witty to say like Steve did, but I have nothing going through my head beyond a continuous stream of foul language, with no spaces between the words.

    I’m sorry that there are so many assholes in this world. It makes me sad.

  19. April 17, 2014 at 12:55 am —

    The Ferengi joke was so much funnier than that guy’s comment deserved.

    • April 17, 2014 at 4:21 am —

      Rebecca, please allow me to interrupt for a few seconds to administer the official Boston Skeptics Book Club phaser blast (on stun, of course) for the first gratuitous Star Trek reference in a discussion. ZAP!!! That is all, thank you. Please carry on.

  20. April 17, 2014 at 2:30 am —

    I doubt this guy was a long time listener. Concern trolling the SGU seems pretty much like a rookie move. And BTW, the Ferengi comeback was nerdtastic…and perfectly in context. Also it’s nice to know the SGU is so tight. Steve’s a mench.

  21. April 17, 2014 at 7:56 am —

    Ugh, NYC is especially bad with the catcalling. Very sorry you got a concentrated dose this past weekend and the added twitter asshattery. Otherwise it was great seeing you and the SGU at NECSS again.

  22. April 17, 2014 at 11:56 am —

    Wait a minute… what if Joshua’s whole interaction was just brilliant satire?
    Damn you Poe’s Law! I can’t tell who is an actual dickbag and who is a fantastically accurate dickbag simulation.

    • April 17, 2014 at 5:05 pm —

      Doubt it. I have a feeling he’s trolling us, but he also believes what he’s saying. Or, rather, he has NO understanding of the subject, but thinks he does, and therefore we’re wrong and he has to let us know that, while also being an asshole purposely because he doesn’t care about us at all, just about his agenda.

    • April 17, 2014 at 5:39 pm —

      Nah, if it was satire, like on Manboobz, there would have been a payoff and I would have laughed. Nobody is laughing, we are all outraged.
      I agree though that derision is the best response to these lowlife scum.
      My favorite comeback of all time (to harassment) was Bette Midler:
      “if your dick’s as small as your brain, the you really have a problem”
      But Ferengi is up there! Good one!

  23. April 17, 2014 at 12:29 pm —

    I’m sorry you had to endure that, Rebecca. Please keep up the good work. You’re made of star stuff and pure, unadulterated awesome.

  24. April 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm —

    Is it just me, or do Rebecca’s internet responses to harassment always get blown out of proportion. Here’s what happened as I read it:
    1. Rebecca get’s assaulted in a cab
    2. Not too long after the incident, Rebecca is (sub)consciously wary of getting into another cab and given the choice between a reasonable walk (~2 miles) and a cab, picks the walk.
    3. While walking, she is harassed by 4 strangers in surprisingly quick succession: pretty much a textbook example of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
    4. The next day, she has the AUDACITY to tweet about her incident. TWEET! (I’m surprised as a cis white man myself that I did not crumple immediately to the floor from her blow.)
    5. A man sees her tweet/facebook post and assumes Rebecca is condemning all come-ons as harassment (which she never did).
    6. Rebecca responds to his snarkiness with an appropriate, and far funnier, amount of her own snarkiness, which he seriously misreads and can’t handle (if you can’t take it, don’t dish it out).
    7. So, the man whines to the SGU podcast, and Steven Novella, a well respected skeptic, calls him on his bullshit. (If Rebecca and Steve are both against you, how do you NOT reconsider your position?)
    8. Rebecca writes up this whole incident in a blog post starting with the story about the cabbie to provide context and explaining how all of these incidents, especially in such short succession made her feel uncomfortable and violated. (Again, now she’s she’s gone to what’s basically long form compared to twitter and facebook, you can she how this response is well out of proportion to the crime.)

    Seems pretty cut and dry to me. I’ve never been one to hit on strangers in the street, let alone in the middle of the night, so maybe that’s why I never felt personally attacked by Rebecca’s posts, as Joshua and rebopine seem to have been. But it just astounds me how quickly the cries of “it’s not EVERY_______” and, “So you’re saying I can NEVER _______” rise up; it’s just like goddamn elevator-gate all over again. Rebecca never said all cabbies are bad people, and commenting that it’s unreasonable or unskeptical to avoid cabs in general for awhile after an ASSAULT like that is just so fucking stupid. That’s a human response, and it’s completely justified. If you (I’m talking to you stupid men) were to get mugged in a dark alleyway, next time you’re walking somewhere are you just automatically going to take another shortcut because “logically” the chances of getting mugged again are low? I bet not, I bet you’ll avoid alleyways either consciously or subconsciously for quite some time. I know I would.

  25. April 17, 2014 at 4:29 pm —

    “If Rebecca and Steve are both against you, how do you NOT reconsider your position?”
    This!

  26. April 17, 2014 at 5:02 pm —

    And you know what?! It is pretty easy to tell a true compliment from a weird power ploy.

    I remember one time when I was walking to work. I was dressed very nicely, in my favorite dress, and was wearing makeup. As I was walking by the light rail, a man was standing there, in what looked to be a construction work uniform. He looked up from his phone, gave me a big genuine smile, and said, “Hello! You look really nice today, ma’am!” I replied, “Thank you!” and he smiled at me again, then went back to his phone.

    What was different about that? His posture — he didn’t make a move to move, or come closer to me. His facial expression — it wasn’t a leer, but an open, friendly, natural smile. His tone — it was friendly, not aggressive. His actions — there was none, aside from the smile and compliment. He went back to his phone; he didn’t continue to stare at me, and he didn’t stare at my back-side, either. He was respectful, and relaxed, and it was just like receiving a compliment from a friend or family member.

    THERE IS A DIFFERENCE, and it’s usually pretty easy to tell.

    • April 18, 2014 at 9:18 am —

      Why this is so hard for some people, I will never understand.

  27. April 17, 2014 at 10:21 pm —

    OK so when I was an undergrad at university, one of my housemates complained about a guy following her and being creepy. He showed up the next day while I was chopping up onions for a lasagna and I told him to get lost and he is being creepie etc and he left really quick.

    So go back to the kitchen and one of my other housemates says ‘you shouldn’t have done that.’ And so I start off all like, ‘if she complains about the guy being a creep..’ and he replies, ‘no you shouldn’t have done that with the 12 inch carving knife in your hand’.

    Well, he was NEVER seen at the house again so that part worked but I had completely forgotten I had the knife in my hand.

  28. April 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm —

    Steve <3

  29. April 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm —

    Hilarious, this post should come with a warning though as I nearly injured myself reading Joshua’s email. Laughed so much it hurt, although it’s definitely dark humour given he is presumably not some master mra-parody troll.

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