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Mom, Don’t Read This

Warning: this is long and rambling and goes nowhere.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted a screenshot of this email I received from one “C. C. Velvet” (sure):

You know in The Social Network, where Zuckerbergs girlfriend tells him that “you will go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because you’re a tech geek. I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole.”?

Similar goes for you. Rebecca, you will go through life thinking that men don’t like you because your a woman. I want you to know from the bottom of my heart, that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re a cunt.

The email amused me because of how easily it shows its bias to anyone who isn’t a raging misogynist. Imagine: “You will go through life thinking that white people don’t like you because your (sic) black. I want you to know from the bottom of my heart, that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re a n****r.” Or try Jew/k**e, or gay/f*g, or any combination of oppressed group and word used to shame, demean, and dehumanize a member of that group. The result is the same: sad irony.

Someone Tweeted to ask if I get emails like that often, and I had to laugh. Ever since the incident that shall not be named, I get these emails several times a week. But more than that, I’ve now amassed a following of obsessive creeps who have seemingly devoted their lives to hounding me down and making sure I never dare to speak my bitch mind again. Their tactics? Scientologist-level private investigation to dredge up the deepest, darkest mysteries of my past combined with grade school-level name-calling. It’s impressive, really. Really. Really.

For months, I’ve been ignoring these people with varying amounts of success. I read all my emails, which means I see these people sending me links to their posts, apparently proud of their work. They post their angry rants on Reddit, where I happen upon them while browsing stupid cat gifs. They post poorly-formed insults on my Facebook page(s). Well-meaning friends even send me some links, worried that these people will take their obsession to the next level.

Some friends have encouraged me to write about it in the hopes of exposing this idiocy and protecting myself in case someone does actually try something. I’ve put it off, because diving into that pool of bitter bile isn’t good for my mental well-being. When I write about something – particularly something depressing – I like to have a call to action, or a lesson of some sort. A story arc. But after thinking this over for weeks, all I have is this: there are some truly terrible people out there, who define themselves by their hatred. Worse, these people aren’t the “others” that we might wish. They aren’t David Mabus, a crazed Christian holed away in Canada sending bizarre threats all day. They aren’t adolescent trolls who will grow out of it. These are “normal” adults, with jobs and families. They attend skeptic and atheist events. They probably have the ability to read and think and be compassionate, but they choose not to.

Here are a few examples of what they choose to do instead:

Abbie Smith at ERV was, as far as I could tell, the first to actively encourage people to replace intelligent discussion and inquiry with blind hatred and bile. That’s where the name “Rebeccunt Twatson” apparently arose – see? Impressive! If you listen hard enough, you can hear the ghost of Ambrose Bierce chuckling and nodding his head in approval.

Then there’s a blog called Grey Lining written by someone named Franc Hoggle. Apparently nearly every post is now about me. Lucky me! He focuses on the really important things, like how I made a YouTube video recently in which I mistakenly said that Galileo was executed by the Church. Within minutes, I updated the video to flag the fact that I was wrong, but that doesn’t matter. Hoggle says that I must be “dumber than dog shit” and suggests I be taunted for the rest of my days. How dare anyone ever get anything wrong and then immediately correct it! The ghost of Mark Twain gives the thumbs up.

My favorite of Hoggle’s posts is the one in which he says that I’m an honest-to-Jesus criminal who should be arrested because maybe four years ago the JREF forum mistakenly gave me moderator powers and so I made a post joking about using them to ban a friend. I also edited replies to that post to say things like “…and Rebecca is the greatest” and suspended someone who said he wanted to be suspended. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty god damn funny, but it’s true: please call the Internet police and arrest me right now.

Hoggle has also investigated whether or not I have a science degree, by finding a MySpace page I forgot about years ago. He could have just asked me, or read/listened to any interview I’ve given in the past six years in which I’m asked about my background. The short story is that I have a bachelor’s degree in communication from Boston University (it’s a BS, which differs from most schools that offer a BA in comm) and that from high school through college I had relatively little serious interest in science. It was magic (and magicians like James Randi) that got me into science, and mostly everything I know about science I learn from reading on my own as opposed to formal education. I’ve never pretended to be a scientist or have any formal training as one. In my haters’ view, though, it’s more like this: I got a science degree that was namby pamby liberal arts and therefore inferior and why did I even bother going to college and I should never speak of science again because who would dare speak of science without a formal education in science? Besides James Randi. And Carl Zimmer. And 3 out of 4 of the male SGU hosts. And well let’s just move on.

Next up is a guy who equivocates my disagreement with Dawkins to child abuse, and he even uses graphic pictures of abused children to prove his point (trigger warning, obviously). He apparently made an Encylcopedia Dramatica page about me and how ugly/slutty I am and encouraged people to “Tweet bomb” me (I guess no one took him up on the suggestion). He also tried to start a meme using a photo of me. My favorite was something along the lines of, “Asks not to be propositioned….wears low-cut dress.” Yep. I was asking for it, boys! If only I’d learn my lesson and wear a hijab when in public.

Then there’s this elevatorgate blog, in which a man attempts to convince my fellow SGU co-hosts to kick me off the podcast. I learned of this one from Steve Novella, who emailed it to me with the subject line “Another stalker”. Again, every post on this blog appears to be about me and what a bitch I am. He posts videos saying that I’m so ugly I should feel thankful that men proposition me against my stated wishes, and videos calling me mentally ill and a cunt (this appears to be the favorite insult – I wonder why) including one popular video from The Amazing Atheist, a YouTuber who is, I guess, trying to be Lewis Black but without the comedy. The blogger even posts videos from women who have criticized me, pointing out that they are “actually attractive.” Yep, no issues there.

I think Steve discovered that blog because that person was one of the ones derailing this SkepticBlog post about the SGU 24-hour podcast. That’s right: a quick, simple, upbeat post from Steve publicizing our 24-hour show was quickly turned into a whine-fest from people demanding Steve “fire” me from the show. To support their argument, they linked to the above blogs because they seriously believed that it would convince others. As you can see in the thread if you dare to dig through it, they were not successful.

And those are just a few of the blogs I’ve seen. There’s a hate subReddit someone tried and failed to get going, there are the thousands of YouTube comments threatening and harassing me daily, there are the Tweets and the Facebook messages that make little to no sense, like this one from just last night:

These are people who desperately want to insult me, but have neither the wit nor the intelligence to do it properly. Mentioning that I have a vagina? Drawing attention to the fact that I started Boston Skeptics, something I’m very proud of? Ignorantly suggesting that I left a group of men in charge in spite of the fact that Liz Gaston, Maggie McPhee, and Mary Brock are all very capable people who happen to be women? It’s pathetic. That same Facebook user flagged me in another comment wondering why I hadn’t responded to her, as though I owe her the same ridiculous amount of attention that she has apparently spent on me. I hope this response suffices.

So yes, these people can continue to crow about how great it is that I’m no longer in the same city as the successful skeptics’ group I started. Similarly, they can continue to pretend that my college education is a tawdry secret, and I will continue to be proud of it. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, and I worked 40 hours a week at the magic shop to afford it (along with the money for my freshman year that my parents gave me, which my dad made a point of reminding me of last week – love you guys! Wait I told you not to read this).

And similarly, they can continue to call me a cunt. After all, they derive so much joy from it, and to me it only makes things clearer. “Cunt” is what misogynists call outspoken women with contrary opinions, in an attempt to silence them.

That’s what this is really about: silencing. No one starts an entire site like the “elevatorgate” blog in the hopes of having a debate. No one comes up with a nickname using a word like cunt because he wants to resolve differences. No one tells a woman she would be lucky to get raped because he wants to offer solid evidence to contradict her point that misogyny is just as bad amongst skeptics and atheists as it is elsewhere.

The question is this: will their silencing tactics work? I honestly don’t know. I’m a competitive person, and so all my life my response to someone telling me to stop talking has been to talk more. But for the past few months, I’ve definitely been talking less because I find it far more enjoyable to play video games than to deal with these people in any way. This is not a call for more support, as you have all been very giving with your encouragement. Instead, I suppose it’s just a documentation of what my online life has been like for the past few months, though it’s only the tip of the iceberg as I tend to delete the links to a lot of the really awful things.

I honestly can’t think of a way to even end this post. People are terrible. I’m going to go play video games for awhile.

Featured photo courtesy of cupcake_eater which is on Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. I think I probably speak for most of rational people when I say: Don’t let them win. Please? I’ll make you cupcakes. They might not be very good, I don’t know, I’ve never made cupcakes before, and getting them to the states will be a bit of a hassle, but I WILL do it.

    In all seriousness, it always shocks me to be exposed to the fact that people can be so utterly nasty to others. I am perhaps not the most sensitive, sweet person in the world, but I never intentionally say things just to hurt someone else. The idea that one might do so baffles me to the point of my brain blanking out completely, and makes me incapable of reacting to a blog post like this with anything but cupcakes.

    1. Laurie Anderson (or was it Frank Zappa? – hell, it was definitely one or the other) once said “If your music doesn’t clear out a room once in a while, you’re not maximizing your talents.”

      A similar aphorism also applies to writing. A few fools are going to vent their deepest, most-repressed insecurities upon those who dare to express an opinion that asks society to take a step forward.

      It’s just a shame that it usually takes 100 positive responses to emotionally counterweigh each of these jagoffs (that’s the consequence of actually caring about your essays). Although, the obvious question about said jagoffs – how great can their life truly be if they are relegated to something as pathetic as on-line bullying to serve as an enriching experience?

      Acrobat, bastards, grind you down, Bono, etc.

    2. If Felicia can’t get cupcakes to you, I will be happy to make some for you. Do you like blueberry cupcakes? Just remember there are those of us who appreciate you and admire you – and absofuckinlutely can’t believe the shitstorm that arose from a simple comment on behavior.

  2. I am here, on this website, because I read about what happened at the conference, your response, and the backlash – and that introduced me to your writing. I am finding my skeptical voice because I have begun to read what you put out for us. I am stronger with my new found voice. I am proof that the haters aren’t winning. Thank you Rebecca.

  3. This is something that I’ve been trying to consider before getting too heavily into blogging, myself. The internet is a cruel place at times and though I don’t expect any grand fame, incidences like these as reported by a few female bloggers I follow is very disheartening.

    Still, you make a point that their goal isn’t to be reasonable or even to have a civil dialogue on the points of divergence. They don’t care that it’s okay to disagree and there is a way in which you can go about it in a rational manner that is still respectful (I don’t always agree with the things I see on Skepchick, but it’s certainly not the end of the world).

    So really, why bother catering to the fringes? There’s still a vast sea of moderate, thoughtful, and decent people to engage with. It’s sad that these people spend so much of their time obsessing over one person with one contrary viewpoint – imagine if they spent their time blogging about what they believe, researching something interesting, or trying to actually contribute new content to the atheist/skeptic community rather than trying to slander someone.

    1. I should also add that the whole Elevatorgate issue is what finally pushed me to become a feminist. I started out on the other side of the issue, and as I read through the comments, it occurred to me that something wasn’t quite right. I followed the links that other feminists supplied to some of the denser participants and as I read, found that a lot of it began to click.

      I’m hardly an expert on feminist topics now, but it took seeing how people reacted to the incident (telling you they hope you get raped? Really?) to really bring it home for me.

      So basically, in short, fuck the haters.

  4. I met you once at TAM 8, (tentacle felt vagina) and I want to say that you have been a huge inspiration to me. Your humor and fortitude have basically kept me in the skeptical movement when all hope seemed lost.

    The kind of B.S. you (and other female writers) receive for the egregious act of writing/speaking have definitely kept me from taking up a more active role on the internet. It just seems so disparaging. I am in awe that you continue to do it, and I don’t want you to stop. But in the end, you need to do what’s right for you.

  5. “Similar goes for you. Rebecca, you will go through life thinking that men don’t like you because your a woman. I want you to know from the bottom of my heart, that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re a cunt.”

    Well that’s just not true. This heart is for you, and you alone: ?

    The absolutely ridiculous thing is that Adrienne Myers posted this 1hr 10mins after that embedded quote:
    “Stop using a person or party’s true identity against them. It will only make them more proud to be that, and shittier to deal with. Attack their ideas and they have nowhere to go.”
    It’s pretty obvious that there is no room for reason here. I don’t think “ironic” is strong enough of a word.

    I’m going to go take my 20-year-old white male privileges elsewhere, and go watch Day[9] play videogames.

  6. You hit the nail on the head. The abuse is meant to silence you. They’re trying to intimidate you into speaking out less, participating less, eventually to the point where you just stop showing up at skeptical events and decide it’s not worth your trouble.

    But I encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing. Keep publicizing this abuse, because people need to know just how bad it is. The next time someone suggests there isn’t a problem with misogyny in the skeptical movement, one can point to the mountain of hate mail that you’ve received for the crime of speaking your mind.

  7. Please don’t give in to the haters. We need people like you to stand up for equality. I know it’s not much, but these brownies always help me feel better.

    1. Completely agree and hooray for brownies. Keep kicking over the rocks, and documenting it all. The deeply unsettling, dark side of reality.

  8. Last weekend after an incident where someone felt that they had to speak with me, and it required reinforcements, including an armed security officer, an observer commented: If the establishment feels threatened into over-reaction, you must be doing something right. The comment did much for my calm, so I am paying it forward.

    They are scared, you are doing the right thing. Smile, wave, it makes them feel smaller.

    1. +1 to the “If this is the response you get, you must be doing something right.”

      That, and there are apparently a lot of people in this world that need to also play more video games if they have so much time on their hands for this sort of response.

      Can’t we all get along, and put all these people in one big game of Team Fortress?

  9. Haters gonna hate.

    What pushed me to the limit and made me (finally) register to comment today is that you are receiving attacks from women. How can people be so terrible? Anyway, I know this wasn’t a call for support but whatever, I’m a fan!

    1. It’s really easy for women to hate on other women because they think it will get them a pat on the head from the men. They sell out others to show that they are the “good” women, not like those nasty dirty cunts who dare disagree with teh menz.

      Sadly, this doesn’t make them seem any better or improve the situation for women within the group since all it does is show the men that women are exactly how they think they are and it means that women (or other diverse groups) are now less likely to join because they see that they won’t get any support.

      1. It also strokes their desire to be thought of as independent, when in fact what they are doing is advocating utter conformity. “See, I’m not like those monolithic, groupthinking feminists! I support the patriarchy! I’m a rebel!”

  10. I hope that you can take heart in the fact that for every man you’ve pissed off by waving his privilege in his face, there are probably many of us who used to think that feminists were just making a big deal out of nothing, and have learned better from you.

    Thanks for doing what you do, Rebecca, and for continuing to be consistently awesome.

  11. Keep the faith, Rebecca (er, I mean keep to a rational interpretation of the available evidence).

    You could start a ‘hate mail corner’ where you publish the worst offenders along with their full email/ IP address. A statement that anyone who makes a direct threat against you will be reported to the authorities may also help. Also, all ISPs and social networking sites have a security dept where you can report people breaching their terms of service.

    Also, “the two prominent (male) skeptics who are currently charged by actual governmental authorities with fraud and identity theft” – anyone we know?

  12. You’re opinionated, successful and female. You’re fearless and took on Dawkins, a man some dogmatic atheists have idolised. You’re attractive and have called guys out for inappropriate advances. In short, you scare a lot of sexually inadequate men because your everything they want and everything they’re unlikely to get; no wonder they liken you to a lady garden.

    Keep talking, keep communicating, keep fighting so dicks like me can see the world from a more “cunty” (I use the word in awe of all its feminine glory) perspective. There maybe friction occasionally but that’s not always a bad thing.

    Dicks and cunts are wonderful people, I’m sorry you’ve been subjected to so many arseholes. Team America said all this so much better…

  13. Wow…

    I remember back when you first joined SGU and I thought you were a bit sharp and sarcastic sometimes. However, over time, you’ve earned my respect and I’ve come to see the occasional sarcastic edge as just a element of your sense of humor. You like to poke at people a little, but you don’t mean anything by it.

    We met once at Dragoncon a few years back. I was surprised as how unassuming you were in person. You have a certain “face” you wear when you are blogging online that is absent in a social situation. It was refreshing to see that side of you.

    While I don’t agree (or agree completely) with everything you say, I respect your right to say it and I give a lot of weight to your opinions because I think they are usually well thought out.

    I couldn’t face the blind criticism and hatred you are dealing with. I’d run and change my name and probably never touch the interwebz again.

    Thanks for being strong enough to deal with it. Please don’t give in to these jerks.

  14. Please don’t let these people silence you; if you do that, then they’ll win. I understand that sometimes it’s easier to play portal 2, but what you are doing is so important. Before I started posting & reading here, I always considered myself to be a feminist, but didn’t see the relevance of feminism in here & now (outside of the glass ceiling that seems to cap women’s wages vs men). Now I realize that feminism is still incredibly relevant, and that’s mostly thanks to you & skepchicks.

    I know you’re not asking for anything, but is there anything that the community can do that can make you less of a solitary target?

    Also: good on you for naming & shaming. These people should be ashamed of themselves. It’s especially disappointing to see some women up there saying some truly awful, awful things.

    1. There’s a lot of pressure to fit in with science’s and the skeptic community’s boy’s club. It’s unfortunate, but it seems like those women require men to validate their opinions on such matters — even if they’re other otherwise intelligent, progressive and independent-thinking.

  15. Frankly I’m appalled that some jack off took a superbly crafted line by Aaron Sorkin and basically shat all over it to try (and fail) to make a point. It’s not even funny!

  16. I commented on one of your earlier posts on this topic, and managed to do so badly enough that I conveyed almost the opposite of my intended meaning, so I’m going to keep this as simple as possible:

    Your commentary and point of view, everywhere I’ve seen and heard it, has been interesting and valuable to me. I understand (oh, do I ever understand) the ease of shooting pixellated zombies vs dealing with the world, but I hope it doesn’t come to that.

    This (along with a handful of other recent incidents closer to home) has all been one hell of an eye-opener, compounded by the dismaying realization that I didn’t even know my eyes were closed in the first place.

  17. As a feminist (a male one, not that my gender should matter), married to a feminist, I had been trying to get my wife more interested in skepticism for about a year before the above referenced incident occurred.

    I explained what happened, showed her the original video and thanks to this whole kerfuffle, she’s been listening to SGU and now wants to go to TAM. I hope that you will continue to stay involved and simply ignore the assholes. Try to keep in mind the fact that you’ll remember the hits and that even though it may appear that there are a lot of assholes out there, there are a lot MORE non-assholes. We’re just not very vocal. Hell, I’ve been lurking on Skepchick for a LONG time now and only now did I feel the desire to actually register and comment.

  18. I hope you continue speaking your mind and talking about whatever you want. I will listen and read. I will also understand if you wanted to take a break or do something else. Because I know that I couldn’t take what you’ve endured at all, much less with such (outward) good humor and grace.

  19. Sorry you have to deal with these horrible people. I don’t think I’d bother to read all my emails if I were you. It’s really disgusting that these people apparently think of themselves as rational thinkers, while displaying such an obvious and irrational lack of self awareness about their misogyny and general lack of decency…

  20. Keep up the good work. I was at our local sceptical meeting in Liverpool, UK a couple of weeks ago, and saw large numbers of women attending. A very non-scientfic headcount had female attendees at about 40%, so something is definately working.

    I know the UK and US sceptical groups have different problems, that might boil down to apathy vs. liberterianism repsectively, but getting more people involved, and more importantly, welcomed for their opinions and thought, rather than any physical characteristics is key.

    You’ve ripped the bandage of a rather unpleasant boil that really needed treatment. The rotten smell, drippy awfulness and screams of anguish are a sign that the problem is at least being dealt with now. Hopefully it’ll dry up and cure itself over time with the application of a bit of air. /horribleanalogy

    1. I kind of love that analogy, actually! It’s wonderfully gross and visceral, and the idea of all the icky misogynist hate blogs/e-mails/posts as the pus finally draining out of an abscess is spot on. And so so so gross! Brilliant!

  21. Rebecca,

    I have always enjoyed your contributions to the SGU. I have been following you on Twitter for a while and read this post today. After doing such, I felt compelled to create this account to tell you that I hope my 9 year old daughter turns out like you did. Smart, strong and not afraid to speak her mind. If more women were like you, the world would be a better place.

    Just my two cents.

    – Mike R

  22. It’s amazing how difficult it is for someone who thinks they’re the epitome of rational thought to realise that ganging up on someone is monkey emotion behaviour. Or how many who realise it and still don’t give a fuck because acting like bullies makes them feel good.

    It’s a pity that ignoring assholish behaviour doesn’t have as powerful an effect on the perpetrators as hitting them with a hammer would have.

  23. Rebecca,

    Over the last year, I’ve listened to all 300+ SGU podcasts. I haven’t had time to participate in the SGU forums, and I think I’ve only read a total of 3 skepchick blog entries.

    As one of the literally hundreds of thousands of people who enjoy what you bring to the podcast, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude. You’re smart, funny, and beautiful – inside and out.

    I know that rationally you realize these griefers contribute nothing and should be ignored, especially since they’re full of crap.

    I also realize that as a human being, it’s got to be an emotionally draining experience for you, and that upsets my sense of justice.

    I can offer you nothing other than this brief comment to tell you I am truly grateful to you for sharing your mind with the world. I’m a better person for it. I’d be diminished if you were silenced.


  24. Hey Rebecca –

    Too often its only the haters that are vocal, and the vast majority of sane, supportive people don’t bother to speak up.

    So, SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT!!!! You have mine.

  25. Rebecca — Let me see if I’ve got the hang of this … Since you used the word equivocate incorrectly in your posting, clearly we can ignore everything else you have to say! You should be taunted for the rest of this comment! Just kidding. Satire. Please keep up the great work, and don’t let the stalkers win.

    The few comments from haters that you’ve shared here and previously make me ill. The internet can bring out the worst in some people.

    I was reminded of a legal case I gave a deposition for years ago. After one of my female employees broke up with her long-time boyfriend, he made a website featuring intimate photos of her and lot of vile insults similar to the ones you receive. Ultimately she lost her defamation lawsuit because the judge didn’t consider a website to be a public space (this was pre-Google). I’m still stunned by that, and have to wonder if the decision would have gone the other way if the genders were swapped.

  26. It really sucks you’re getting such a hard time over all this BS. Please don’t let them keep you quiet! For what it’s worth, being at the live SGU and (briefly) meeting you at the booth were the highlight of Dragon*Con for me. So many of us look up to you, but I get that you don’t really require more support and encouragement…so please feel free to keep playing video games. Video games are awesome.

  27. It’s hard to know what to say to something like this. To me, it’s obvious that you’re in the right, but wishing that you didn’t have to go through all this bullshit is obviously futile.

    The best I can do, right now, is this:

    I will continue to call out prejudicial behavior when I see it.

    I will continue to swallow my pride and seriously consider any accusations of prejudice made against me.

    If I could claim friendship to you, I would say that you have my care and support as a friend, but given that we’ve never met, I’ll go with: You have my care and support as an anonymous blog reader. Hang in there, keep writing, and keep shining.

  28. It’s kind of ironic that you missed the point of the original email you quoted and went straight for the tried-and-true “MISOGYNIST!!!” attack. Would you have played the same card if he had said “Jerk” or “Asshole” or “Dick” instead of dropping the C bomb?

    His/her point is quite relevant; Many people dislike you NOT because you’re a woman, not because you speak your mind, and not because you’re intelligent. They dislike your personality or how you handle yourself or whatever reason people choose to not like/dislike someone. However, you always immediately jump to your misogynist finger pointing the minute anyone says anything negative about you, especially if they use a term associated with females (bitch, etc.)

    Many times people will use specific terms to describe someone while communicating with/against them but not like/dislike them just because of that “status.” If I call a guy who cuts me off on the highway a dickheaded son of a bitch, I’m not slamming him BECAUSE he’s a man; I’m just using those terms because he’s a guy. If someone who is overweight makes me mad, I may call them a fat bastard; I don’t dislike them or look down on them because they are overweight (PS: I’m a fatty so if anyone wants to continue the trend of ad hominem attacks that should give you something to work with. I’d be willing to bet I have more than a few grammar mistakes as well.)

    Just assuming someone is a misogynist just because they use gender specific terms is asinine and an easy out. It allows you to duck out of actual discussion by labeling someone as an illogical sexist who would just refute everything you say just because you are a woman. It’s especially amusing when you slam women for it… but of course, they could just be brain-washed misogynists, right? You’ve become the zealot in so many books and movies; anyone who disagrees with you on certain topics or says certain things is automatically is labelled a heretic… NON-BELIEVER!!!

    Now, these people who are sending you threatening emails, running web sites solely about you, writing about you extensively, etc., are F’d up, no question. I and I’d assume many like me who are not partial to you would agree that this kind of thing, ESPECIALLY the death/rape threats, are grossly out of line. Hell, I even defended you on someone’s blog who, instead of attacking things you said, made personal attacks which were grossly inappropriate.

    However, dont’ throw the baby out with the bath water. You can’t just lump the fringe loons with people who have honest disagreements with how you have handled recent situations which are not to be named. Unfortunately, your community (it isn’t just you) has taken the shotgun approach and blasted almost everyone who doesn’t wave the Rebecca flag as a woman-hater. Yes, there are people out there who are going to dislike you just because you are female, and that can’t be helped (other than ignoring the ignorant.) However, when you start dragging innocent people to be burned at the stake as well just because they disagree then you have a problem. What’s worse is that I don’t think you realize that is what has been happening.

    This was too long. :/

    1. You’re right, that was way too long. And also way too stupid. Look, misogyny doesn’t have to exist in a vacuum. When you call a guy who cut you off while driving a dickhead, then you’re right, that likely doesn’t carry misandrist undertones. But if you criticize a woman, especially if that woman is currently embroiled in a controversy that is centered in questions sexism, and use the word “cunt,” then you better believe that has misogynistic connotations. Otherwise, why not just say “asshole”?

      Clearly he wanted to have an impact and he knew which word to use to do so. That’s misogyny 101.

      It’s fine if you don’t like Rebecca’s personality. No one has to like everyone. But it’s worth examining why you might find her personality off-putting.

      1. Thanks for starting off your post the intellectual way- personal attacks. Seems par for the course since this “skeptic debate” has started.

        So now misogyny means using gender specific terms just to get a rise out of someone? Sorry, but changing definitions around to suit your needs doesn’t work. Misogyny is hating/disliking/looking down on women just for being women. Trying to stretch and pull this definition to fit any kind of attack which is gender specific isn’t going to cut it just because it’s convenient for painting people who disagree with a vile brush, regardless of the situation surrounding it.

        I realize (and am not surprised by) what you are implying when you say I should re-evaluate why I don’t like her. The truth is that I actually did like her when I started listening to SGU. However, over time, there were facets of her personality that I found grating and “The Event” and her reactions to it made me lose most of my respect for her.

        1. “So now misogyny means using gender specific terms just to get a rise out of someone?”

          Nobody said that. Using the insult “cunt” can be an indication of misogyny. That’s what they were trying to explain to you. Not that it’s the only thing that can indicate misogyny. But it’s great that you are being so dismissive by claiming they are saying something they clearly aren’t.

          “Sorry, but changing definitions around to suit your needs doesn’t work. Misogyny is hating/disliking/looking down on women just for being women.”

          First of all, no one was trying to change any definitions, but rather explaining to you that using insults like “cunt” are part of the definition of misogyny — but, once again, great job at trying to be dismissive and claim that they were saying something they clearly weren’t!

          Insults like “cunt” and “bitch” have been used to bring down out-spoken women for centuries. They are used because people tend to dislike women who are outspoken or don’t “fall in line” with the way society seems to think women should.

          Women are a marginalized group of people. Insults that refer back to a marginalized group exist for a reason: To silence that marginalized group of people. White men are not a marginalized group, so male-gendered insults don’t hold the same power.

          The same thing goes with the “N-word” vs. “Cracker”: Both are insults, but the “N-word” holds far more power because of its history in regards to a highly marginalized group of people.

          1. “Nobody said that.”

            “Clearly he wanted to have an impact and he knew which word to use to do so. That’s misogyny 101.”

            I’d say it’s easy to interpret that from what Pax said.

            “Insults like “cunt” and “bitch” have been used to bring down out-spoken women for centuries. They are used because people tend to dislike women who are outspoken or don’t “fall in line” with the way society seems to think women should.”

            They’ve been used for lots of reasons, not just those. Let’s not pretend that these were insults specifically created to keep women quiet and “in-line.” They were used to insult women that the person didn’t like, no matter the cause.

            I understand what you’re saying in that using those terms could indicate someone is a misogynist and are probably commonly used by someone who is; yes, I’ve been to the cesspool that is The Spearhead to see it first hand. We’re getting off the topic of my original post, but my point on this specific topic is (and, if I’m reading your response right, you agree) that using those terms by itself doesn’t indicate that one is a sexist.

            Part of my larger point is related to of one of her intro paragraphs. She indicates that you MUST be a misogynist if you don’t see his statement as itself sexist when it isn’t and, ironically, that was his/her point. To paraphrase, the email author said “Lots of people may not like you and you dismiss it as being because you are a women, but it’s actually because you’re an ass.” She turns right around and says “See! You have to be a misogynist to see this as anything but attack on me as a woman!” She tries to compare the use of the C-word to using N-Word or gay in the same context and that, to be nice, is an incredible stretch. When one uses the N-word, it indicates that they dislike them BECAUSE they are black, or that being such is a negative attribute. Using the C-word doesn’t do that; it’s basically the (extreme) female version of asshole or dickhead in pretty much all cases I’ve heard it used, even by women.

            I agree with you that negative terms for groups which have been historically marginalized hold more weight than anything against whites or males. However, to say that they were used to silence those people is an over simplification of their use. In short, lets not over dramatize the use of these terms as some grand scheme by people to silence those that disagree with them, though I have no doubt some of the nutters who are actively threatening her and the like would like to do that.

          2. ““Clearly he wanted to have an impact and he knew which word to use to do so. That’s misogyny 101.”

            I’d say it’s easy to interpret that from what Pax said.”

            Um, you keep saying that they are “trying to change the definition of misogyny” but that’s what what they are doing. You’re putting that spin on it yourself, bud. No one said, “Using gendered insults IS THE definition of misogyny!” yet you keep trying to claim that’s what they said.

            “They were used to insult women that the person didn’t like, no matter the cause.”

            You really don’t know much about the history of women and misogyny, do you? Do you know why Hillary Clinton is called a bitch or a cunt? Sure, it’s because people don’t like her, but generally they don’t like her because she is an outspoken woman.

            Think of it this way: Insults like “cunt” and “bitch” and “pussy” are generally used for BOTH sexes. Not just for women. Why? Because the default thought is “women are bad!” THAT is why such gendered insults are very, very loaded and generally indicative of misogyny.

            “Similar goes for you. Rebecca, you will go through life thinking that men don’t like you because your a woman. I want you to know from the bottom of my heart, that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re a cunt.”

            And I really doubt that this person said that just because they *just* dislike Rebecca. Do you honestly think that? Because the larger picture indicates it’s much, much more than that. Why would someone take the time to send such an email if they just simply didn’t like her? Why not just ignore her and move on?

            All she said was that men hitting on women in an elevator at 4am is creepy. Yet people suddenly hundreds of people just “dislike” her because of that?? No, they “dislike” her because she dared speak up about how society and men in general tend to treat and think of women. They “dislike” her because she’s an outspoken woman.

        2. I can’t help it if you said something stupid. You said something stupid. It was stupid.

          And then I carried on with my argument.

        3. “Thanks for starting off your post the intellectual way- personal attacks. Seems par for the course since this “skeptic debate” has started.”

          I find it hilarious that the one whose post’s entire second paragraph was one long personal attack is so quick to point fingers when such is turned back around. Bricks, glass houses, you get the drill.

        4. Dude, this is not hard.

          “Cunt” is a misogynist insult in exactly the way that “nigger” is a racist insult. Its offense is rooted in the idea that being female is bad and shameful. You are trying to argue that it is not.

          Seriously, why are you trying so hard to defend the guy who called Rebecca a cunt? Did you write the original email or something?

    2. I also use gender specific insults when I’m pissed, so I’m with you there. But, this –
      “However, when you start dragging innocent people to be burned at the stake as well just because they disagree then you have a problem. What’s worse is that I don’t think you realize that is what has been happening.” is not happening here in this post. She has only referred to the crazy, hateful, and violent people who have been harassing her over a very reasonable request. I think that the regular people who disagreed with her comments concerning the elevator incident have stopped focusing on it.

    3. “However, when you start dragging innocent people to be burned at the stake as well just because they disagree then you have a problem.” -jarlaxle

      Who in Spam’s Name are you talking about? What innocent person has been dragged through mud? Certainly not any of the people listed above who are carrying on this sustained hatefest against Rebecca Watson!

      1. Oh, excuse me. What innocent person has been DRAGGED TO THE STAKE TO BE BURNED? That fucking ridiculous embellishment on your part is representative of part of the whole problem: people like YOU, jarlaxle, are blowing this thing way out of proportion.

      2. You mean like Dawkins? The “community” was ready to label him as a sexist and boycott his books after making some poorly thought out comments on a Blog, even after all he’s done for atheism, skepticism, and, yes, women’s rights.

        Outside of that, if you didn’t see other people being rabidly labeled as misogynists then you weren’t paying attention during the whole ordeal. Especially on this site and a few like it, pretty much anyone, no matter how they worded their argument against Rebecca’s position, was immediately accused of being a woman hater. Hell, look at my post. The very first reply is someone making personal attacks and insinuating that (shocker) maybe I just don’t like her because she’s a woman. It’s sadly amusing because my initial post mention this problem of suggesting anyone who wasn’t on Team Watson was anti-female and the FIRST REPLY suggests that I might just be anti-female.

        1. “You mean like Dawkins? The “community” was ready to label him as a sexist and boycott his books after making some poorly thought out comments on a Blog, even after all he’s done for atheism, skepticism, and, yes, women’s rights.”

          He completely and utterly dismissed women and their experiences. Twice. He had a chance to say, “You know … I made some poorly thought-out comments. I’m sorry.” But he never did that. Instead, he made yet MORE comments completely dismissing the experiences of women everywhere. And they weren’t poorly thought out: That’s likely how he actually feels, considering he did it at least twice.

          And just because someone has done a lot of good doesn’t mean they are somehow immune to criticism. If nothing else, he should fucking know better! We shouldn’t just ignore his problematic comments just ‘cuz he’s Dawkins. That would put him high on a pedestal. He is human, and therefore imperfect, and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise, just because he’s a pretty smart guy that’s done some pretty cool things.

          And Rebecca said several times that she was not trying to organize a boycott. But people have a right not to buy or listen to people who they feel don’t represent them. I, as a woman who deals with discrimination every single fucking day, have a right to choose who to give my money and time to. I probably won’t boycott Dawkins, but I do not have a problem with individuals who do. And if they do boycott him, it’s no one’s fault but Dawkins, who is the one who made those incredibly sexist, dismissive comments.

          I don’t think you’re anti-women, but I do think you don’t have much of an understanding of what women have to deal with every day, and of sexism in general.

          1. “He completely and utterly dismissed women and their experiences. Twice”

            I don’t want to turn this into an Elevatorgate discussion, but in short, if that’s what you took from his postings, I think you misinterpreted what he was saying. I will say he 1) should have done a better job of it and 2) should have worked with Rebecca to clear up the mess in private. That gum chewing analogy should also never been made either as it was terribly incompatible with Rebecca’s situation.

            I’m also didn’t say he was above criticism. However, he should be criticized fairly. Was he overly harsh? I think so. Was he dismissing the experiences everywhere? Absolutely not, especially considering one of the specific examples he used in his tirade.

            I doubt we’ll agree, so I’ll just end by saying I think both sides handled the situation poorly.

            “And Rebecca said several times that she was not trying to organize a boycott.”

            No, she’s not organizing one, but let’s be honest with ourselves here. If you are a person with a good sized following and you say “I’m not saying you guys should boycott, but I am…” you know what you are implying. Do you honestly believe she posted that not thinking others were going to hop on the bandwagon too? If she truly didn’t want to encourage this, she would have silently boycotted.

            “And, seriously, Dawkins was never burned at the stake and I doubt his reputation as a whole is somehow going to be harmed because of this, and I also doubt that he’s suddenly going to be put into the poor house.”

            I’m sure he’ll be fine, but that’s beside the point entirely. He was wrongly labeled a misogynist (again, despite speaking out repeatedly against the wrongs perpetrated against women worldwide.) I don’t care if he’s a multi-billionaire with super powers or if he’s an average, broke Joe. Attack the things he actually said and is, not some grossly overblown mischaracterization.

            “Like Dawkins, the people who were quickly labeled misogynists and MRAs and sexists also earned that. It didn’t come out of nowhere”

            Uh, no. Again, if you were reading the various forums and what not, any site that was mostly Pro-Rebecca ripped apart anyone who did not take her side and automatically said that they were sexists who “Just don’t get it.” All arguments were ignored while the above was simply repeated over and over. Yes, you had your trolls who came in and were telling her to get back into the kitchen or whatever but there were plenty of rational, logical arguments against her. However, the points were almost always ignored as the person was repeatedly called a misogynist (even if they were a woman) or “No, you just don’t GET it!!” I’m not saying Rebecca did this herself frequently but she did repeatedly call people out, often, IMO, unfairly, such as the person she spoke about on stage (sorry, I looked, can’t find her name/the video now.)

            “As for the response to you in this thread, it doesn’t appear that you were told you didn’t like her because she is a woman. ”

            -> “It’s fine if you don’t like Rebecca’s personality. No one has to like everyone. But it’s worth examining why you might find her personality off-putting.”

            What do you think s/he is implying here?

        2. And, seriously, Dawkins was never burned at the stake and I doubt his reputation as a whole is somehow going to be harmed because of this, and I also doubt that he’s suddenly going to be put into the poor house. Pretty sure Dawkins of all people can handle himself.

          1. The reply functionality is really odd here…

            Anyway, watch this + the 2nd video. Please tell me how this is misogynist who hates women or is anti-women in any way.

        3. First off, jarlaxle, I suppose this is your admission that no innocent people are being burned on any stakes, metaphorically or not. Dawkins was not “innocent” at all. He earned the response he received in that case just as he has earned all the gratitude, respect, and profit he gets from atheists around the globe.

          Like Dawkins, the people who were quickly labeled misogynists and MRAs and sexists also earned that. It didn’t come out of nowhere. No, those people practically stamped it on their foreheads and then did a little dance around the room showing it off.

          As for the response to you in this thread, it doesn’t appear that you were told you didn’t like her because she is a woman. I’m not sure where you imagined seeing that written. The word “you” doesn’t always mean “you yourself” and it did not mean that in this case as far as I can tell, so I do not find the response to your post in support of your argument here, either. You have not been burned on a stake! FFS.

        4. Richard Dawkins didn’t just act inappropriately. He told a commentariat full of rape victims (over at Pharyngula) all Rebecca Watson had to do was push the stop button and she would have been safe therefore everyone should shut up about it.

          That was beyond inappropriate. That was the kind of bullshit you hear from rape apologist every day and he deserved to get chastised for it.

          “When one uses the N-word, it indicates that they dislike them BECAUSE they are black, or that being such is a negative attribute. ”

          How do you know that? No really. How exactly do you draw a distinction between nigger meaning you dislike someone because they are black and cunt not meaning you dislike someone because they are a vagina? I’m very curios.

          At my High School I came across several students who liked to use black as an insult the way you would gay. When pressed on it they invariably either told you to not be sensitive or that they meant ‘bad black’ as opposed to ‘good black.’ Was that not racist? Were they not using racist language and fostering an atmosphere antagonistic towards blacks?

        5. Okay, I have a question- do you have evidence of Richard Dawkins attacking sexism outside of religion, specifically within one of the groups with which he identifies? Like within skeptic groups? Or maybe something that exists within the more secular culture? Or within the hard sciences, which are a bastion of essentialism as compared to some other academic disciplines? Maybe him taking down some evo-psych bullshit? Something?

          Because if the answer is no,(or rarely) and he relates all sexism/misogyny to religion, he’s done nothing for women’s rights. He’s not a feminist, he’s just displaying in-group/out-group bias. Oh hey- that’s what religions do too! Huh!

        6. Jarlaxle, you are doing it again. No one was “ripped apart”. Numerous people disagreed with some things that Rebecca said or did without calling her epithets or putting her down. Dawkins was not one of those people; he wrote a bitingly sarcastic comment that did nothing but mock Rebecca and other atheist women who had gone through similarly creepy situations. And I don’t know why you think women can’t be misogynistic? Surely you have at least read one article about one of the leading women in the Republican Party today? As for the calling out of Stef McGraw being unfair, your opinion is shared by some who don’t look kindly on this egregiously misogynistic behavior we see aimed at Rebecca as detailed in the main post above.

          “It’s fine if you don’t like Rebecca’s personality. No one has to like everyone. But it’s worth examining why you might find her personality off-putting.”

          To me that means that a person would do well to examine the reasons why they don’t like Rebecca’s personality. I don’t think it was meant to imply anything. Rather, it was a call for critical self reflection.

    4. “It allows you to duck out of actual discussion…” Get real. Whoever wrote that email had no interest at all in discussion.

      From what Rebecca wrote here, I can’t find even the implication that she thinks everyone who disagrees with her is doing so simply because they hate women. In any case, the hate and abuse she’s exposing here doesn’t even rise to the level of disagreement. Rebecca is exactly right when she says this about silencing her.

    5. @jarlaxle:

      “She tries to compare the use of the C-word to using N-Word or gay in the same context and that, to be nice, is an incredible stretch. When one uses the N-word, it indicates that they dislike them BECAUSE they are black, or that being such is a negative attribute. Using the C-word doesn’t do that”

      OK, let me make sure I’m understanding you here.

      You commented to make the point that the use of gender-specific insults doesn’t necessarily indicate any sort of bias against that gender. Right? Am I clear on that.

      I could say something about the appropriateness of taking this particular stance in response to a post where Rebecca describes being insulted, harassed, and bullied. Somehow, that did not make me think of the injustice of people being falsely labeled as misogynistic. That made me think of what a depressing number of genuine misogynists there are in the world.

      But that’s just me. Never mind that.

      So in the course of making this point (that gender-specific insults do not indicate bias against that gender), you claim, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, that race-specific insults (or at least one in particular) indicate bias against that race. But that gender-specific insults do not.

      So, rather than pass judgment just yet on either of these claims, I’m gonna go a little nutty here and try to approach this skeptically:

      Tell me, how does one test for misogyny or racism? By what evidence or reasoning does one come to the conclusion that the use of female-specific insults can exist independently of misogyny? What evidence or reasoning leads one to come to the opposite conclusion regarding race-specific insults?

      Seriously, I’m curious how you got this. Have surveys been conducted? Is there really any reliable way of gauging how much animosity a person displays is based on personal qualities and how much is based on race and/or gender? Because this does not seem as obvious to me as it apparently does to you.

      Again, not insulting you, or calling you misogynist. I can tell you’re sensitive about that sort of thing. Just wondering how you arrived at this conclusion (or pair of conclusions, if you prefer).

      Oh, and one more thing:

      “In short, lets not over dramatize the use of these terms as some grand scheme by people to silence those that disagree with them,”

      Well, yes, obviously it would be unfair of us to assume that the use of certain words was done with the intention of silencing…

      “If she truly didn’t want to encourage this, she would have silently boycotted.”

      Oh. Erm. That WAS you who said that, right?

      Now, again, I’m NOT calling you misogynist. I’m just suggesting, gently, that maybe a discussion about attempts to silence women is not the best place to suggest a woman be…um…silent. Doesn’t really come across the right way, you know?

      Y’know, I’m also gonna go ahead and suggest that “You specifically said Opposite of X, but we all know you were implying X” doesn’t come across as arguing in good faith. Or even necessarily making a whole lot of sense.

      And as long as I’m offering suggestions, I’m gonna add that it might strike some as a bit…odd…to imply that a community of skeptics, celebrating their common love of thinking critically and, well, arguing, is going to be so easily swayed by the personal decision of one person. I mean, skeptics never really strike me as “joiners”, so I’m not sure I quite understand this notion that saying “Hey, I’m not looking to organize or encourage anything on your part, but I personally choose to do X” is going to inspire huge groups of skeptics to do X when they otherwise would not have.

      Again, I’m not here to call you a misogynist. I’m just trying to understand the logic and/or evidence you used to arrive at these positions you have decided to present to us. Because some of it seems a bit odd to me.

      1. @jynnan_tonnyx:

        “Tell me, how does one test for misogyny or racism? By what evidence or reasoning does one come to the conclusion that the use of female-specific insults can exist independently of misogyny? What evidence or reasoning leads one to come to the opposite conclusion regarding race-specific insults?”

        I don’t know if there have been any tests for this. My comments were admittedly based on personal experience. From what I’ve seen, if someone calls someone a n* or some other racially charged term, they’ve generally done it as a knock on both them and their race. They also generally have little to no respect for that person’s race period; I almost never hear someone call a Mexican a racially negative term unless they have a general dislike of Mexicans in general.

        Contrarily, I’ve repeatedly heard people (both men and women) use c* or bitch without any kind of general dislike of females. You could argue that these people might have some hidden sexism going on but I find that highly unlikely, especially considering the number of women who use it.

        Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal, but I’d find it hard to believe that my experience is highly unusual. Of course, if someone IS a misogynist, they are probably more likely to use those terms frequently, but using them doesn’t indicate “I dislike you because of your sex.” As with my earlier example, if I call a guy a dickhead (a male specific insult,) I’m not insulting him BECAUSE he’s a guy or think less of him because he’s male, I’m just using that particular one because it’s fitting for the situation (male cut me off, issue statement of extreme dissatisfaction.)

        “Now, again, I’m NOT calling you misogynist. I’m just suggesting, gently, that maybe a discussion about attempts to silence women is not the best place to suggest a woman be…um…silent. Doesn’t really come across the right way, you know?”

        First, I don’t think that you are saying that, and I appreciate that you are discussing this on a logical, skeptical level.

        Secondly, let me clear up that statement. I am NOT saying she shouldn’t say she’s boycotting Dawkins at all. What I was trying to express was that if her intention was not to “rally the troops” either indirectly or directly for a boycott, then she should not have said anything about it. If she wanted people to boycott (either openly or otherwise) or was neutral, then she can do whatever she wants.

        Hopefully that’s more coherent than my previous rambling.

        1. @jarlaxle:

          “From what I’ve seen, if someone calls someone a n* or some other racially charged term, they’ve generally done it as a knock on both them and their race. They also generally have little to no respect for that person’s race period;”

          As you’ve acknowledged, this is anecdotal. More importantly, what’s to stop somebody who uses racial epithets from defending them with a variation of the argument you used: that they happen to hate a person for personal reasons, and therefore insult them with a racial epithet, but of course they don’t hate that person BECAUSE of their race. In the absence of an objective test of bias and of motivation behind specific word choice, there’s no way to disprove this claim. However, as you imply, people who are not racist generally distance themselves from racial epithets on general principle. Which is lucky, because if non-racist people habitually used racial epithets, it would give cover to racist people who used those same words (“What? No, I’m not racist, I just hate that guy. Lots of people talk like that.”)

          So I would submit to you that those who wish to distance themselves from misogyny should vountarily abandon the use of gender-based epithets. I would think identifying and combating misogyny would be much easier if there wasn’t the added confusion of having to consider whether the person using the highly-charged language that is specifically offensive to a specific gender had any bias against that gender. As much as the rebellious young man I once was enjoyed the use of a word as controversial and provocative as the C-word, I find my insult vocabulary is not much poorer without it; if anything, it inspires creativity, and makes insults more relevant and meaningful: for example, I hate Michele Bachman for a whole bunch of reasons unrelated to her gender; why on Earth would I select my insults against her based on her gender, rather than her bigotry, her willful ignorance, her opposition to science, or any number of other valid things?

          Yes, as you note, the use of certain words does not necessarily guarantee the presence of certain bigotry. But it seems to me that using certain words that one KNOWS offends a specific group suggests a certain lack of interest in being perceived as an ally of that group. If I say the N-word, I may or may not be racist, but I’m certainly not concerned with being seen as racist. Similarly, If I drop the C-word, maybe I’m misogynist, maybe I’m not…but I’m cerainly not going out of my way to seem like I’m not. And that disinterest in defending the interests of women is troubling to me: maybe you think “misogyny” isn’t quite the word for it, but I can’t think of a better one off the top of my head, and even if I could, I’m not sure I would be able to tell the two apart reliably. Could you?

          I appreciate that not everyone has actively considered the ramifications of the words they choose in this way. My purpose is not to condemn them, but rather to encourage some contemplation about why they say what they say and what it means or could be perceived to mean.

          “You could argue that these people might have some hidden sexism going on but I find that highly unlikely, especially considering the number of women who use it.”

          Are you suggesting that women can not be sexist? I would disagree. Are you familiar with Phyllis Schlafly? She is deeply anti-feminist, lobbied against the ERA, and has said things like, “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape,” and “If marriage is to be a successful institution, it must…have an ultimate decision maker, and that is the husband”. I think we can agree these views would be seen as sexist coming from any man, no? So perhaps gender isn’t a reliable indicator of sexism against women.

          “What I was trying to express was that if her intention was not to “rally the troops” either indirectly or directly for a boycott, then she should not have said anything about it. If she wanted people to boycott (either openly or otherwise) or was neutral, then she can do whatever she wants.”

          From what I remember of the relevant post, she was quite clearly neutral on the issue of what others did (am I misremembering?). My issue was with your implication that stating a personal decision with no attempt to organize others (which is what I remember reading) was necessarily “indirectly” organizing a boycott. If I say, “I’m doing X, you can do what you want,” then I haven’t organized you to do anything. I have stated my personal intentions, left you free to agree or disagree with them, and if your respect for me, or your agreement with my logic, leads you to a similar course of action, that’s your business, not mine. And I don’t think your decision to do as I did should be used as evidence that I have somehow deliberately persuaded you to do anything, or used to argue that I must remain silent about my choice if I do not want to accept responsibility for yours.

          And, yes, I have gone out of my way to be courteous and non-confrontational with you. But before you condemn those whose reactions may strike you as more emotionally-driven, remember that you and I, as men (am I wrong in thinking you are male?) are, by definition, unfamiliar with the day to day experiences of being a woman, and the subtle (and not so subtle) manifestations of misogyny & sexism, both personal and institutional, make this an extremely personal issue for them, in ways we can not understand. Given this, I would encourage an effort to listen, empathize, and understand before judging or correcting. Fair enough?

          1. Re testing for misogyny or racism: One method to test for unconscious biases is implicit-association testing. Basically, it’s easier to pair two words that we associate with each other than to pair two words that we resist associating, so the speed of response to word-pairs can be measured as an indicator of unconscious bias. There’s a set of IATs here:


            Much of the research on stereotype threat also makes use of IATs. For example:


    6. Calling someone you disagree with a “c–t” or “fat bastard” or “n—-r” or “faggot” or whatever “because that’s what they are” is misogynist / racist inappropriate / etc. because you are attacking their identity rather than the viewpoint that bothered you. You’re taking advantage of you privilege, and their relative social vulnerability, to assert power over them. It’s an abuse of privilege / social power, it’s disrespectful of the larger social issues, challenges and inequalities surrounding those identities, it reduces your disagreement to the level of hatred, and it expresses a lack of compassion for whatever group of identity your evoking with your slur. That’s why it’s fucked up, and why, in the context of a man attacking a woman (like calling her a c–t or bitch) it’s misogynist.

    7. Wow. Really? Take a step back and look at what you’ve posted here. You read about a person being viciously mistreated by obsessive hateful bullies who threaten her with rape, and your response is, “Yeah, that’s too bad and all, but what REALLY matters is that (I think) you’re being unfair to some of the people who are treating you like shit. I, personally, dislike you a whole lot too.” Are you seriously that lacking in empathy? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

  29. If I may presume to offer some advice, from someone who has been there (I am the former bitch phd):

    Report every single one of these blogs, commenters, emailers to their ISPs. Re. email, if you reply and ask them not to contact you again, they are *legally required* to do so–if they contact you, they are in violation of their ISP terms of service and the law.

    Obviously doing this will be a pain in the ass; pick a few trustworthy friends and ask them to help. One person can figure out the reporting procedure for WP blogs, one for gmail, one for yahoo, etc. You can deal with your blog commenters. Take screen shots of every piece of bullshit, along with identifying details–ISP, time/date, full email headers, etc.

    None of this will be required in court, because none of this nonsense will go that far. But some of the bullies will back off if they realize you’ll push back, ISPs will definitely have your back (which means some of the bullies won’t be able to keep contacting you even if they want to), and most importantly you will feel a lot better because you will be doing something rather than just taking it all in.

    If you feel genuinely threatened by any individual–say if someone calls you at home or seems to be stalking you, etc–feel free to have the cops look into it. Again, not that anyone is actually going to do anything, but you will feel better and it’s long past time the assholes got the message that women won’t put up with this crap.

    1. [completely off-topic, I know]
      I’m so glad to (metaphorically) see you again! I still miss your blog, and was browsing the archives just the other day. I hope you are doing well.
      – Formerly Daemoncyclist

  30. I sympathize. I write about lesbian-themed comics as a woman and as a lesbian. No surprise the guys for whom those comics are drawn (or who think everything is about them, even the stuff that isn’t) have spent a great deal of energy and time doing the same exact thing to me. Just yesterday I received a comment on a 2 year old review that I should suck male genitalia because I had the nerve to dislike a series in which a young lesbian is emotionally tortured and blackmailed as “comedy.”

    I’m just like you – I don’t let it get to me, except that it’s bizarre and exhausting. I don’t reply, because that gives the weirdos the attention they seek. I do retaliate when the threats escalate. I contact ISPs, email and website providers and explain the situation, then let them know that the next communication will be from the police. That’s much less common these days, but then, I’ve been doing this for 9 years.

    I allow crazy, angry and insulting comments on my blog, because it actually vindicates my comments more times than not. But every once in a while I think, oh for Christs’ sake, give it *up* already, won’t you? What is the deal?

    I don’t know the answer to that, honestly. There are just some people whose one great joy is the thought that they are annoying the shit out of you, making you miserable or uncomfortable or keeping you feeling unsafe. I feel very bad for those people. I have had some email me and my response is always the same – I am sorry that they have so little to do except think about me. I don’t think about them at all.

    Oh, and the cunt thing. Yeah. For some reason angry men seem to obssess over us not having penises…endlessly, pathologically. I read one of Leslie Charteris’ “The Saint” novels and the female protagonist says to The Saint, “Why is it always rape?” I’ve been pondering that question since. Why is it always vagina that, cunt this, suck a dick…like, is that the last refuge of the most pathetic, to think that if they could just shove their teeny weeny in an orifice it makes them more powerful than us? I can only project that it is so. But, then, you know *I* fantasize about introducing those guys to my friend Mr. Knife and Mr. Hot Tar, so I guess we’re even.

    Anyway, I’ve been there, and I know what it feels like and I sympathize. FWIW, you’re not alone.


    Erica Friedman

  31. Hmm…

    Just went looking for your email address so I could send you something nice to balance out some the crap, but I can’t find it straight away. Given that my mad-internet-stalker-skillz begin and end with WHOIS, this means that I’m pretty much stumped. So I figured I’d leave something here instead.

    I still remember watching the video with the elevator anecdote and the suggestion that: ‘guys, don’t do that’.

    I remember rolling my eyes. Like, geez Rebecca, way to go stating the obvious. Like anybody needed to hear that.

    Then the internet went insane. Holy. Shit.


    Stir up the pond even just a little and just look at what floats up to the surface. Ewww. Yuck.

    Seriously: Why are people hating on you so much? I genuinely don’t get it.

    Simple disagreement with a supporting argument? That I can understand. We’re dealing with cantankerous and nit-picky free thinkers here. If I wanted to I could probably dig up something to bicker with you about if I set my mind to it.

    It’s the overt and blatantly un-self-aware nastiness that’s confusing. I just… Don’t get it. It does not compute. I mean… Why?

    I’m a regular reader of Skepchick and a listener on SGU, and I’m also a subscriber on your videos. I thoroughly enjoy the content what you produce. Your mastery of deadpan irony reliably makes me laugh every damn time, it’s hilarious.

    You’re doing great. Don’t change a single fucking thing.

    Disrespect from disreputable gentlemen shall continually persist.

    Joseph Ducreux (maybe)

    1. Yes!

      Exactly what @DanielSchiller said!

      “Guys, don’t do that” is totally obvious. My first thought was: “Clearly Rebecca must be blowing this all out of proportion because seriously how many guys DO that??”.

      But apparently: A scary number of them. :(

      1. I thought the same thing Draconis, and I agree with you and Daniel that this was blown way, way out of proportion.

        It got me thinking, though: I’ve been where the “elevator guy” was; I’ve been the misogynistic asshole in my youth (something my sisters never let me forget); and I’ve played the “why me?” card when a someone didn’t want me (something my friends don’t let me forget).

        How did I get over all that? I grew up and started paying attention to what other people were saying, not to what I wanted them to say or taking what they were saying personally.

        In short: I JUST GOT OVER IT.

        All we can do, as mature people, is suggest other people do as well. Damn their shitty attitudes!

        Thinking of writing a book for the angry geek.

        1. Here’s the thing though.

          As far as I can tell, Elevator Guy wasn’t neccesarily misogynistic – I think that’s making a mountain out of a molehill.

          Thoughtless? Yes.

          Inconsiderate? Yes.

          Creepy? Yes.

          But misogynistic? Not really.

          The big thing about this whole elevator thing to me isn’t actually to do with Elevator Guy at all. That’s just the snowflake that started the ball rolling.

          The problem lies in the overwhelming negative response itself. If Elevator Guy was the only issue at hand the entire thing would have faded into the overall background of the internet and that would have been the end of it.

          It’s the very people responding to Rebecca that are the point of interest to me. That’s where the misogyny flag is flying high. Compared to that I’m pretty much ready to just dismiss Elevator Guy into the realm of negligible irrelevance.

          1. “As far as I can tell, Elevator Guy wasn’t neccesarily misogynistic – I think that’s making a mountain out of a molehill.”

            I think that’s part of the point, though. Rebecca NEVER called elevator-guy a misogynist. She didn’t even imply it. All she said was, “Yo. That’s not cool, elevator guy.” And pointed out the fact that women are often treated the way elevator-guy treated her. She was pointing out the larger problem in our society to constantly dismiss women or objectify them or what-have-you.

            It was a very short comment about a jack-ass, in a video having to do with other things. But everyone went BAT SHIT INSANE and accused Rebecca of calling “RAPE!” and assumed she was calling him a misogynist, when she never did. Because, of course as soon as a woman points out how a man’s behavior is not cool and not respectful towards woman, she is automatically calling “RAPE!” and “ALL MEN ARE SEXIST JERKS!” (/sarcasm)

          2. Sorry, re-reading my post I didn’t make it clear that I wasn’t calling him a misogynist. My bad.

            What I meant to say was I’ve been in the guy’s shoes. Awkwardly asking a girl out at what could be considered a creepy way. The other two things should have been separate from that.

            This is why I don’t post from work much.

          3. @marilove

            Oh of course – I never meant to imply that Rebecca said Elevator Guy was misogynistic. I just picked that up as implied from the previous comment and was reacting for that…

            But with all that assumptions about implications, it’s all very confusing – so I can see how I could have worded that better and concede the correction. ^_^

    2. Yeah, I didn’t get it either. Rebecca made a very simple comment on the elevater situation, stating something which to me seemed obvious. She didn’t blow it up out of proportion either, she just said, you know, ‘don’t do this, guys’. And then this horrible stuff started. I really don’t get it: how the fuck did this happen?

  32. Hi there!

    …aaaand this is the problem I have with feminism.

    [WAIT! Let me ‘splain!]

    The problem with feminism, (or more correctly, the problem that people have with feminism) is that so few people understand that there are actually guys like THIS in the world!

    I used to have a problem with feminists because I used to think that you were all so SHRILL. I used to think that feminists were all hyper-sensitive and bitchy. Hating on men just for being male. Unfairly judging us all.

    But lately, I’ve heard some real scary violent talk coming from men who should know better. Guys who say that the world would be a better place if women were kept corralled like horses. Men who look at Rhianna and say: “Yeah, I would’ve smacked that bitch, too”. Guys who write to Skeptic bloggers and call her a cunt.

    Like, what the hell planet am I living on??

    I think that’s part of the problem. When most people complain about feminists, they’re probably thinking that it’s just stuck-up women complaining that men are being jerks to them. I don’t know if most people understand that it goes beyond that. It gets to a really creepy level of violence very quickly.

    I don’t know how you do it. If I were getting death threats like this on a regular basis, I’d be hiding under the covers in my room for the next decade or so. [shudder]

    But keep up the good work. People need to know that this is not a fight between whiny feminists and poor innocent MEN, it’s between women and OMGCREEPYFREAKVIOLENTMOTHERFUCKERS. :(

    — Craig

  33. Makes me wish that some woo actually worked. If it did, I would beam you love vibes and psychic shields or something. I used to believe in that stuff. You helped get me out, so I guess it’s your own fault. ;p

    It takes more energy, confidence, and self-possession to be the bigger person. I’d rather you take short breaks that help you get through this than continuously engaging until you burn yourself out of activism all together.

    “…they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

  34. Rebecca, you are not alone and your supporters, colleagues, and friends are for real, as opposed to these detractors.

    We love you, we care about you, and stand by you. They are of no consequence. On a good day they are lint. On a bad day, you are inspired.

    There is a good side to this. The lint were already there, and they were already pretty obvious. Now, they have defined themselves very clearly. As the rest of us move along into the 21st century, they are standing there looking kind of dumb. They have to change or move away while the real people get things done.

    I kind of thought this would all cool down a bit when the new seasons of five or six moronic TV series started up with the fall lineup and all the troglodytes went back to their couches. Problem is, they probably have laptops and can watch “Survivor Bachelor” while trolling at the same time.

    Really, you are not alone.

  35. Wow, if something so small as the initial “Elevatorgate” could trigger this kind of response, it’s obviously a sore point.

    People must be very conflicted with opposing ideals and urges to react this way. That means we must push it again and again until we understand it!
    “How could you choose avoiding a little pain over understanding a magic lightning machine?”

  36. Same as all the others: Don’t let the tossers get you down too much (and don’t hold back when they do).

    But yeah, I struggle to find time just to post comments every now and then, much less being hateful. I have studies to do. And programs to develop. And hobbies to attend to.
    Couldn’t they at least channel some of that seemingly infinite time and anger to, I don’t know, folding some proteins, maybe?
    Just a suggestion.

  37. I wouldn’t worry too much about that Adrien Myers character, the one who says things like “vagina-shaped void” (real class act that one). She’s a FL looney tune, very nearby to me. I de-friended her on facebook some months back, on some unrelated matters (her status updates were mostly toxic and obnoxious, interspersed with crazy melodrama. Couldn’t put up with it anymore). Funny that she would tweet about a Boston thing considering she’s living in Florida.

  38. Don’t stop, we all love you for it.

    The word cunt is dead to me. As a kid it was just a word for vagina (a forbidden word) and because of that it was beautiful and mysterious. Now it’s been turned ugly by people that, I believe, can’t see any beauty at all in it.

    Why should they win?

  39. This stuff just bugs the hell out of me. If I disagree with someone, I explain what it is that I disagree with and we civilly talk about it. I’m a big mean punk rock prick, but I would never just start acting like these people. Rebecca, I don’t always agree with your take on things (though I did on That Which Shall Not Be Named) but that hardly makes you a bad person. It makes you an individual. I guess some people have a hard time accepting that.

  40. Which video games are you playing? I’m looking for new ones. I’m getting a little burned out on the ones I’ve been playing lately.

    Hmmm… now I guess I should go to the Jump Jump Die podcast and ask them about misogyny and skepticism. The internet is confusing…

  41. Rebecca,

    Whatever you choose to do moving forward, I want you to know how much I value what you have done here on Skepchick. This is one of the very few sites I check several times each day. I have learned so much about so many issues because of you and the other Skepchicks, and I am a better man and a better human being because of it. You have created a community of people who care about each other that is like no other, and that is a feat of which you can be VERY proud. It is doubtful that those who vomit up their hate at you can make any such claim, and that is likely one of the many sources of their soul-poison.

    Thank you for being who you are, doing what you’ve done, and saying what you’ve said. We are all made richer by your presence!

  42. I don’t get it…. I really don’t. Since the anatomical metaphors keep flying, allow me to indulge… I promise mine aren’t nasty and don’t reference anatomy generally covered by clothing… keep a stiff upper lip and your chin up. The nasty, griping minority is tiny compared to the adoring majority!

  43. Is there some corollary to Godwin which says that if your only argument is slang terms for reproductive organs then you loose.

    Don’t worry about the degree thing, BU is a very nice school and has turned out some really great people- especially the College of Engineering.

  44. I’ve been way too distracted of late to comment much online, but this is too important and distressing to let it pass.

    Like Craig I used to take feminist talk very personally (as in “Hey, *I* don’t do that, don’t attack me!”). Being in relationships with and being friends with smart women and working in industries (Wall Street, IT) where it’s still largely a boys club did a lot to open my eyes. As others have noted their initial reaction to the elevatorgate vid was “Oh geez, that’s entirely obvious, no one needs to be told that”. Mine was “This is about to get real ugly, hope she’s tough.”

    A particular subset of the male population are hateful misogynist assholes. They will make every effort to shut down intelligent outspoken women up to and including violence.

    Rebecca, I hope you continue to be you and know that the assholes are a minority and hopefully dwindling as younger generations grow up more enlightened and tolerant.

  45. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

    As on the grade school playground, as all through life: pushy bastards got nothin’, no argument, no right, no call, but they’ll try any tactic, however shitty, if they think it might hurt, and thus intimidate into silence.

    I’d second reprinting some of the nuttier stuff. For the lulz, and for documentation, and for education. To have a place to point when people ask ‘oh c’mon, who really tries shit like that…’

    At which point you can point and say ‘these guys’.

  46. Hi Rebecca,

    I’m so sorry for what you are going through. I think you’re a funny and witty writer and speaker, and a huge addition to the skeptical community. I have a hard time explaining this fringe, very vocal minority, but they really are making your argument for you, aren’t they? Keep up the good work.

  47. This is the bit that I don’t get:

    There are tons of people I don’t like. There are lots of people who I like just fine but can’t get along with. There are people who I have had a falling out with, who I can’t imagine how to fix.

    In none of those cases do I fixate on that person, or spend a whole bunch of time an effort thinking about them or attacking them. You’ve got a website and I don’t get along with you, I don’t go back to your website. I don’t like your posts on a message board, I enable the ignore function. I block your emails, I stop answering your phone calls, I do everything except make your unhappiness a focus of my life.

    For the folks who hate Rebecca Watson, or anyone else for that matter, and can’t STFU about it? You’re a mentally defective person, and you need some fucking help, for your own sake!

  48. Seriously, those people are crazy, hateful people. Disagreeing with a point-of-view should not include such venomous responses. They might have missed that day in Debate class, though. Be safe, Rebecca, and know that for each blogger perpetuating vitriol on the Web, there are many others who support you and your right to broadcast your opinion.

  49. Man, when video games — where people toss around racist and homophobic slurs as casual greetings — become a safe space, shit has gone seriously wrong somewhere.

    1. Well, there are plenty of great single-player games out there. There are also plenty of great online multi-player games that don’t require you to communicate with your opponents in any way, and where, in fact, it would simply be a distraction :)
      After some of the stories I’ve heard, I just know I would become disillusioned if I could hear the utterances of every random person I play with.

      1. My tongue was firmly in cheek. I’m well aware of good single-player games. ;)

        For that matter, I spend most of my free time playing online games, and apart from the flavour of the week testostorama games folks are mostly pretty congenial.

        But, man, those Counter-Strike/Halo/Starcraft/Modern Warfare types are pretty darn awful, aren’t they?

  50. Keep up the good fight! Those who try to drag others down are sad, sad people. Pity is the only sentiment I have for the petty detractors.

  51. Dear Ms. Watson,

    You are great. Beyond great. You are fabulous, in every possible way. And I could not be more grateful for what you do. Please don’t let these cowardly idiots get to you. And please continue with what you do. We depend on your intelligence, courage, and devotion to skepticism and rationality!

    Thank you,
    John Harrington

  52. I know you said that this post was not a call for additional support, but I want you know that, as an atheist skeptic of the male persuasion, you have my support, for whatever little it is worth.

    I Knew that there were misogynist, MRA jerks within the atheist community before ‘elevator gate’. Threads about women’s rights (particularly anything dealing with FGM) regularly brings out hordes of the idiots over at Pharyngula. Having said this, it was only after I saw the ridiculous hate campaign that was directed against you that I realised how deep the rot of unexamined male privilege runs within the atheist community.

    Even now, I still can’t see any action of yours that warrents even a fraction of the vitriol you received. All you did was suggest that men shouldn’t proposition women in elevators at four in the morning after the woman in question has just stated that she is tired and wants to go to sleep. A perfectly reasonable observation that calls for no more than common courtesy, and yet by the ranting responses you have received anyone would think that you up and shot the clueless jerk there and then.

    This incident has opened my eyes to just how hostile certain elements within the atheist community are toward any expression, not only of feminism, but of independent thought of any kind practiced by women.

    It is not the knuckle-dragging, misogynist cretins that worry me* so much as the number of people who seem unduly tolerant of them. I don’t think that an equivilant expression of racism or homophobia would have been given such a comparatively easy pass. I can’t imagine Dawkins dismissing an exprssion of racial bigotry on the basis that ‘ethnic cleansing massacres happen elsewhere in the world, so don’t blow this out of proportion’. I don’t see why misogynist bigotry should be treated as any more acceptable – it is still denying a fellow person’s humanity based on irrational prejudice.

    I am rambling a bit here, so let me conclude thusly; you are in the right, there is no question of that. You are too inciteful and valuable a voice within the community to allow yourself to be silenced by these morons. Atheism needs more people like you.

    Just remmeber that ther are plenty of godless types out there, of both genders, who are behind you 100% on this.

    * Although, they do nauseate me.

  53. Rebecca, you’ve opened a lot of eyes to something they’d rather have ignored. Some people want to silence you. What you have to say should be heard. Please keep talking, shouting as necessary. We’re listening.

    Also, the new Deus Ex is pretty cool.

  54. ‘Inciteful’? Where did that come from? That should be ‘insightful’.

    One of these days, when I grow up, I will be able to spell…


  55. Well since you don’t want support, maybe a bit of advice on how to relax after a shitastic day at work?

    Me, I like to pour myself a glass of Hypnotic, blast Slayer til my brain goes numb and play Marvel vs Capcom. If my roommate’s out I just skip the whole Marvel vs Capcom part and lay down on my rack with the shades down and lights off. Helps me pretend the world isn’t there for a few seconds at least and that sounds like what you want right now.

    Anyway, I’m sure you have your own ritual. You’ve already been a very effective popularizer of science and skepticism so if you need a break or hiatus, no one can hold it against you.

  56. Might I suggest Space Marines by Games Workshop and THQ for the therapeutic videogaming?

    I hear you, I haven’t been blogging as much lately because I just don’t have the fortitude to put up with the bullshit right now. We’re dealing with an elderly cat’s health issues, and I just don’t have the energy to deal with the douchebags right now.

    Take a break, collect yourself, then come back and blast the assholes again. Take care of yourself.

  57. There are “adults” with waaaaay too much time on their hands. You’d think there would be some household chore, charitable event, or personally fulfilling task of some sort that could be initiated in lieu of cyberbullying. Carpe diem, cyberbullies. Carpe diem.

  58. I haven’t read all comments yet but everyone’s already doing wonderfully at sympathizing, so I’ll just agree with all of them, to save time. Please don’t become a martyr for our sakes. Self-care really is important in the face of a grinding-down assault, even a social assault, just as it would be for an actual disease, or for caretakers or emergency personnel. I consider you every bit a First Responder.

    I note you read all your own emails. If I may suggest, maybe you could ask someone to read emails and comments for you and filter the abusive ones. This is how Gavin de Becker suggests dealing with abusers or stalkers, because a trusted intermediary can defuse the emotional impact that’s the goal of the harassment. And no question, these silencing attempts are attacks and can be treated tactically. They don’t deserve to be given the respect due to real communication.

  59. I think the thing that I have the hardest time getting is the whole thing where these people assume that they somehow merit a response. That they, special individual narcissists that they are, MUST have automatically gotten Rebecca’s attention with their pages and pages of crap, and that they DESERVE answers to whatever criticisms they’ve dreamed up about their interpretation of Rebecca’s positions.

    I don’t know if it’s just another example of this generations widely-reported “entitlement complex,” or if it’s a manifestation of the Internet’s feedback machine, or what. But I’m still amazed by the assumption many of these folks make that a lack of response from their target is an indication of cowardice or shame or a sign that Rebecca has admitted defeat (all rationalizations I’ve seen elsewhere) rather than her simply not noticing or choosing to ignore the gnats buzzing in her ears.

  60. I just registered here to share some of my thoughts. I don’t fully understand the whole negative reaction to “Elevatorgate” or what was so controversial about your original message (hitting on women alone in elevators at 4AM is creepy) that it created this firestorm of online nastiness. I guess people really want to defend the “right” of men to hit on women anywhere at anytime, regardless of how uncomfortable it might make them?

    It’s really mind boggling, but I’m glad you shared the story. I wasn’t an avid reader of skepchick, but I found my way here via Bad Astronomy. The whole Elevatorgate event, and the bizarre reaction to it, really opened my eyes to a problem that I wasn’t aware existed in the atheist/skeptic communities. It also helped me realize faults in my own point of view, where I was guilty of privilege and objectifying women without really being aware of it.

    So I guess my long-winded point here is that I’m more aware now of not only the shortcomings in the skeptic community but my own shortcomings when it comes to male privilege, too. And I can’t be the only one you’ve enlightened with all this, so I really hope you can feel it was worth it even with all the backlash. Or maybe even because of it; the fact that some people got so riled up over this might prove that you’re onto something here. Every hate filled rant with the C-word only helps prove your point, so I hope you feel vindicated.

  61. Rebecca, I’ve been so busy with my thesis that I haven’t been following recent events. I don’t even know what to say in response to all of this terrible hatred. So, I’ll just give you a virtual hug. Take care of yourself! I miss you.

  62. I don’t think I could handle any of this nearly as well as you, and I just wanted to say I’m very impressed. Enjoy your videogames, and know that I love reading your posts and listening to you on SGU

  63. The response you’ve gotten makes me sick, and some of the vectors surprise me (although not all).

    One question remains, however. What games are you playing? I’ve been getting bored replaying ME2 and whatnot… what are you distracting yourself with?

  64. Wait, so you’re a “bad” skeptic and they are the “good” freedom-fighting skeptics who have created a conspiracy theory around a 10 second “hey guys, don’t do that.” line from a much larger video. And they would like lots and lots of attention for this?


  65. Hmm, don’t know what to say really. Haven’t men and women had this discussion forever and not come up with much?

    Rebecca, I just want you, that’s all I know. I cant say if I agree or disagree, Internet is what it is at least for the moment. I think the majority of the nasty comments you get are from boys/men that find you very attractive but cant handle your opinions. That is why they are so aggressive.

    There is something special about you and I think you’re always going to stir up emotions whatever you choose to do in the future. I hope you will find happiness.

  66. The skeptic/atheist movement is getting pretty big, so it’s normal that there are people who don’t like Rebecca because her personality clashes with theirs. But what’s not normal is that they’d fixate on to her like this. It’s pretty juvenile to try to shut someone up because of personal dislike, unless you really feel threatened somehow by that person. That and the misogynistic language are just some of the hints they decide to give us.

    Of course, misogyny is bad and they’re not bad people, so there has to be a legitimate rationale for them to go after Rebecca. Cognitive dissonance, and all that.

  67. “Don’t let the bastards grind you down” is the best advise I’ve ever gotten or given. These bozos are obsessed stalkers. The comments on the SGU-24 skepticblog post were my breaking point.

    What are they accomplishing? Online bullying? Cyberstalking? Harassment? They are their own worst enemies; they are documenting their lunatic malarkey for the world to see.

  68. Rebecca, your voice matters. You matter.

    I second the suggestions that you get someone to look over your emails and filter out the idiocy, and that you report threatening or stalkerish communications to the appropriate ISPs and providers.

    Hang in there.

  69. Let’s call this what it is: bullying. These people are just so miserable that it makes them feel powerful to bash on you. What a pathetic bunch. I know some people like that. They feel like their lives have no meaning when they don’t have ennemies. They are as easy to break as anybody else emotionally. The skeptical community has to speak strongly against them. It needs to be strong enough so that these people have no room left for self-gratification. This is exactly a case of ‘silence is approval’.

    You need to keep talking about this Rebecca, the word spreads around, people repost your stories (I just got to your post through Jennifer Ouellette), and what I am talking about slowly becomes a reality.

  70. I disagreed with you on the elevator thing but it’s over. Done. Passed by. This is absolutely ridiculous.

    I know it’s rough but I think I have gathered enough from your writing to know that you are a strong enough person to ride it out.

    Ont he video game front, I’m waiting for Assassin’s Creed Revelations. :)

  71. Hi– I found a link to this post on Twitter, as part of a discussion of hate speech and hatefulness on the internet. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is good for it to be revealed and, I think, helpful for people who haven’t experienced to see it there, in its awful awfulness and for people who have experience it, to feel less isolated. I’m also a lady writing on the internet. I write mostly about pop culture mostly. As another commenter mentioned, talk about comics can take on this same, ugly misogynist tone and content you document in your post. It is disheartening and awful and, yes, fully designed to silence. I’m not sure what the right answer is, but I do think that whatever you decide to do is the right thing.

    I appreciate everything I’ve seen on this fantastic site. I see all the inspiration and thoughtfulness you’ve brought to your commenting community. It’s something to be proud of. And if you need to go play video games and never read another hateful post, comment or email, then do that. Having just found this site, I’d be sad. But what you need to do for you is important. It’s not just your fight and we are all responsible for speaking up and standing up. It’s all I can think to do.

  72. Having grown up in a family of boys, feminism wasn’t really a topic in our household. I was never attracted to gender studies either.

    But hostile reactions like the ones Rebecca got is what made me pay attention. Way before I even knew about Elevatorgate, I had noticed a trend in the way discussions about feminism were derailed across various boards.

    Basically, a bunch of men would whine that “women get everything and we don’t know how to act around them anymore because we’ve been told everything we did before was wrong” and a bunch of women would boast “I’m not a feminist because feminists hate men and I love men! I love sex! I laugh at crude jokes! You can call me a cunt and it’s okay because I call my boyfriend a dick when he’s being a dick!”

    It’s like they purposely ignore context and permanently dwell in the land of false dichotomies.

    Go Rebecca.

  73. So many comments here asking Rebecca to keep up the fight because she’s so inspiring to US. But we aren’t owed a champion, any more than the haters are owed a target. I think one reason we don’t want to see Rebecca go silent is because of what that would *mean* to us: that the haters won and a woman was silenced. It would send a message… the same message, “This is what happens to any [other] who speaks out. Be silent or YOU will be NEXT.” We’re asking Rebecca to take the hit because *someone* needs to do it; but she has no obligation to be the one.

    Not all of us have the fortitude to be on the front lines, but that should be no shame. Let Rebecca do what she thinks best. What if she cut back her comments, or stopped responding? What if she went on hiatus? What if she quit entirely? It’s still her decision, not ours. She’s already done so much for us. I ask that we consider what we would do, what we might become, if we no longer had Rebecca.

  74. Wow, I know how I would feel if Evelyn go this kind of email and comments… I mean Roger Ebert was wrong but that was kind of cool anyway because he knows you now…but the other stuff. My first thought is “you should write a book about this whole thing”. My next is, if this were happening to Evelyn I’d be scared. Freedom and speech and all that, but hello?.

    Other people say they get really horrible emails and comments. I mean even Dawkins claims he gets bad stuff, but I can’t imagine it’s at THIS level. (I somehow think he has a butler or someone that reads his emails anyway) No suggestions other than be safe.

    1. “Technically, this was ERV’s first post on the whole mess:”

      Oh yes, that one. You’re right that it doesn’t make much of a difference. That first one is where we all learned about misogyny-free terms like “airtighting”, which was used to indirectly slander Rebecca Watson and the Skepchicks. I guess it was too inconspicuous a slight and so they had to ratchet it up to what we see in the third one.

    2. Abbie Smith’s vicious misogyny is the reason I stopped reading ScienceBlogs. Every time ERV gets a page view, Abbie Smith gets money, and I no more want to support Abbie than I’d want to support an animal abuser. Some of ERV’s misogynist posts were (are?) frequently Editor’s Picks at ScienceBlogs. I wonder if the Editor would be as supportive if Abbie used racist or anti-Semitic epithets to attack the object of her hatred? Apparently, misogynist epithets are fine at ScienceBlogs because women need another reminder that we aren’t worth shit.

  75. Count me among the “boggled at how petty and vicious some people can be” camp. Particularly over something which, to me, seemed so obvious that my first thought upon hearing Rebecca’s “Don’t do that guys” was “Well, yeah. Isn’t that obvious?”. Clearly, it isn’t obvious to some…

    On the video game front, I’ve found that a few hours of Civilization V can do wonders in distracting me from annoying humans.

  76. I don’t know how you have persevered and kept such a great attitude. Keep up the great work, and I hope that these supportive comments can drown out some of the creeps. You are an inspiration, Rebecca.

  77. I think reality needs a kill-filter like the old usenet-readers used to have.

    “Press ‘K’, and never hear anything from person X (hateful, obnoxious X) ever again.”

    It would be even more popular than an off-switch for children.

  78. I am distraught and disheartened over how this strain of latent misogyny has emerged and I stand in solidarity with you. It is awful that you have had to undergo such vile attacks, but I hope that the skeptics movement can learn from this vitriol and that we can stamp out such despicable undercurrents now that they have been brought into the light. Keep being a hero, Rebecca, and know that you have supporters!

  79. Yep, some people are terrible; that they cannot appreciate their terribleness remains as perplexing and consistent as ever apparently.

  80. Speaking as a lover of “vagina shaped voids” I wonder what could possibly be wrong with the existence of same? Individual people may or may not be glad to possess (or not possess) one as part of their individual bodies, but I think Boston would actually be putting out quite a lot of screaming hysteria if there were suddenly no vagina-shaped openings in the city.

  81. You’ve had my sympathies from the start of Elevatorgate, Rebecca. The strangest irony I find in all this is that these people (and I use the term loosely) try so hard to intimate that you’re ugly, when in fact, as Phil might say, you’re obviously Hawt. Their stubborn insistence that you’re stunningly unattractive (as if it were somehow relevant) speaks volumes about their grasp on reality.

    But more important anyway is the fact that you’re educated, intelligent, and–on this issue at least–you’re right, and they’re wrong. And the more they try to twist it to make themselves look right, the more in the wrong they’ve become.

    You’ve done an awful lot to raise awareness of male privilege with this whole thing. I’m glad you brought it up, and I’m glad you’ve refused to back down on it. This is yet another area where accomodationism isn’t the solution.

  82. I thought you handled this whole thing with grace and humor. I’m trying to do the same when dealing with the misogynists I have to deal with within our own skeptic/atheist community. Fortunately, some of them are not entirely terrible (at least not as bad as the terrible people who have been attacking you) and I believe if we’re patient, we can help them grow to be better people. Keep up the excellent work.

  83. Hi Rebecca,

    I think you’ve been, an are, a wonderful inspiration. Whether I’ve agreed with you or not, your blogposts, SGU podcasts and videos are unarguably some of the highlights of my toe-dipping into the skeptic blogs.
    +1 what NDDave said.

  84. While I haven’t followed your blogs, I have followed the Elevatorgate saga on Pharyngula. You have my sympathies, admiration and best wishes.

    My observations: People react this way when someone contradicts assumptions needed to validate their status. Bigots reacted this way when people challenged their prejudice against other races, religions, etc., because they needed a default “other” group to hold a lower status than they do. Without that, they might have to compete on a level playing field, and that frightens them. A few people in the skeptical community are not exactly great in the social skills arena, so keeping what status they think they have is important.

    Ladies make a good “other” group such people, in part because they don’t really understand them. When you asked for some respect, some felt that threatened what status they thought they had. It also probably derailed whatever fantasies they play in their heads about girls submitting to them. This was a existential threat to their perceived social status.

    In other words, I think they are socially inept losers who live in a fantasy world. It’s natural for you to be hurt by the criticism of others, but take the sources into consideration.

  85. Well as someone that excells at pissing people off by simply having a differing opinion and beliefs, to the point where my own father called me “narcissistic and disturbed” on Facebook I say bravo!

    Keep it up and fight the good fight!

  86. Rebecca you are arrogant.
    Rebecca you are mean.
    Rebecca you are dismissive.
    Rebecca you are vain.
    Rebecca you are defensive.
    Rebecca you are juvenile
    Rebecca you are vindictive.

    But luckly more often you are kind, and smart, and sweet, and caring, and corageous, and snarky, and biting, and insightful, and clever, and patient, and funny, and tough, and righteously pissed off.

    And what you do is important.

    And all this makes you beautiful.

    And the world around you needs you.

    Please don’t stop.

  87. I have just two words for people who act like this based on someone’s opinion: Fuck off.

    Why? Because at the point in which the only way someone is able to respond is with misogynistic name-calling and violent fantasies then they are beyond all reasoning. It’s like trying to argue with Pat Robertson that gays didn’t cause Hurricane Katrina, because admitting they are wrong would be too much of a blow to their worldview that tells them that they are right and bitches should just shut up.

  88. I am sorry you have to deal with these people, Rebecca. Some people really are awful. Some men in particular, when their machismo is threatened in any way. I, a 40 year old married male, find you to be an intelligent, talented person.
    Don’t change and don’t apologize. The actions taken against you expose the poseurs and the simpletons. You now stand above as a true moral skeptic.

  89. Haters gonna hate.
    Sad as it might be, some people simply are assholes. Sure, there’s some interresting discussion about socio-economics to be had about *why* some people simply are assholes – but only, so to speak, after the fact.

    In the public arena, there’s only one way to deal with them:
    Fuck’em, and fuck’em hard. No matter why they are how they are – mysonogists, racists, homophobes, anti-semites, fundamentalists and bigots of all kinds don’t deserve anything but all the scorn we can put upon them.

  90. I was astonished at the level of obtuseness during “the event that shall not be named” but I’m even more astonished that not everyone has simply moved on already. I guess some people have some pretty dear and closely held beliefs about how women should comport themselves, don’t they? Keep up the good work and never forget there are many more people (men and women) out there who support you than the obnoxious few who seem to have been so taken aback by your position!

  91. Let me just be what I hope will be one voice in an ocean of voices. Please don’t keep quiet. We appreciate this blog, your efforts, and the efforts of women all over.

    I did learn some things from the elevatorgate kerfuffle, and I’m glad that many others did. But some people are assholes.


  92. I’m with Sam Vimes on this, if you’re getting people that angry you must be doing something right. Keep up the good work.

    1. “If there was anything that depressed [Vimes] more than his own cynicism, it was that quite often it still wasn’t as cynical as real life.” ~Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

      It’s amazing how well Sam Vimes stuff relates to everyday life on the internet.

  93. Just registered to say I support you as well. As a 26 year old white male, five or ten years ago I wouldn’t have understood this issue properly. Now I do, though.

    All the best, don’t let the bastards get you down.

  94. These are not skeptics, Rebecca. They’re fuckwits who at somepoint stop believing in God (I presume)…but still choose to be fuckwits. And should given the same distance, scorn and rebuke as any nutter who thinks the Earth is only 6000 years old and/or thinks it’s okay to whip women for drving cars in Arab countries.

    On a side note, PZ phrased a new term “hoggling”. You can see it under the new dungeon section at Pharyngula:

    /supports Rebecca <3

    1. Hoggling! Holy crap! I had to go look that up in the dungeon. My sides hurt; that was the funniest thing I’ve read in a while! :D

  95. I just want to tell you that much like Caution’s spouse, the incident-which-shall-not-be-named was the serendipitous event that allowed me to discover the entire skeptic movement. I have been reading your blog several times a week and following you on Youtube ever since. I can honestly say that this website has caused me, at long last, to proudly declare my atheism. I just want to say thank you, and also: don’t ever stop.

  96. I would suggest following these instructions:

    1. Write the number of people harassing you on a piece of paper.

    2. Draw a line below it.

    3. Write 7,000,000,000 as the denominator.

    4. Laugh.

  97. I can see there’s a million other comments saying this, but stay strong. I’ve kinda become a Rebecca Watson fan as a result of the elevator debacle (and not in a “sends her explicit messages” sort of way either) – although I must have seen about a million links to it before, it was only afterwards that I added to my feed reader, and I’ve been working my way back through the SGU podcasts (listening to them in reverse order is really weird, and messes up “who’s that noisy?” something chronic). I’ve learned stuff and changed the way I think for the better (well, I think it’s for the better anyway) because you refused to shut up. It’s sad that you’re not putting yourself out there as much because of all the bullshit, and I wouldn’t blame you one jot if you gave it all up and went and lived as a hermit after all this shit, but I just wanted you to know that theres one more person out there who wants to hear what you have to say, and would miss your voice if you stopped talking.

  98. I think you’re doing a great job, Rebecca. Your irreverent style of presentation makes it very easy to listen to you and understand your viewpoints. My sceptikids love the teen skepchick site and are learning a lot from it.

    Thanks for having all the energy it must require to keep going like this.

  99. Ironically, when I am feeling particularly misanthropic (and being that I do a lot of animal rescue that’s a lot these days) I put on my noise canceling headphones and listen to the SGU. And read Skepchick so I can spend a few minutes at least with at least partially like minded people. So thank you for not disappearing entirely – even if sometimes you understandably want to.

  100. I just want to start out by saying that this whole experience has made me come to terms with a number of prejudices that I held and things that I may have done to make inadvertently hurt others, and I want to thank Rebecca and everyone who has been vocal about this issue from the bottom of my heart. I truly enjoy finding out about ways in which I’m wrong, and this was a big one. With that being said, I’m just looking for some clarity. Tell me if this is a correct analysis of derogatory statements:

    “Asshole” is a generally inclusive term referring to anyone, male or female, who pisses you off in some way. “Dickhead” and “bitch” (and derivations thereof) are gender-specific, but not necessarily incident-specific, merely denoting that the person who pissed you off is either male or female. “Cunt,” on the other hand, is almost exclusively a misogynistic term (except in the UK, where it seems to be more akin to “asshole” in meaning), and that is why statements like the one in the email are so particularly vitriolic.

    Is this correct, or have I overlooked something? It almost seems as though the people who send this crap are either completely oblivious to how words are used, or are just hell bent on being as offensive as possible (ergo, “people are terrible”).

    Again, I just want to say that the last few months have been truly enlightening, and I’m ashamed that you (and many others) have had to go through this bull just for jerks like me to get the message. I hope it helps to know that you’re making a difference.

  101. Rebecca, I think you are awesome, even if I don’t always agree with you…but hey, I don’t always agree with Victor and I still think he is awesome too! You have an open invitation to come crash at our pad and hang out with me and/or Victor ANYTIME you want to get away! :)

  102. I don’t get nearly as much of this as you do, but I do get some. One thing I’ve noticed is that it never, ever comes from someone on the winning end of an argument.

    I hope it doesn’t decrease your competitive drive to know that this is happening because you’ve already won. ;)

  103. Rebecca:
    I am sorry all this is happening to you. It is indeed a sad world we live in. You have my complete support. Keep up the great work for all of us skeptics.

  104. The existence of people who would think that “cunt” is perfectly acceptable in an email are the reason why the conversation in the elevator wasn’t dismissed due to social awkwardness.

  105. Hello Rebecca. This is Tracie from TAE. I’m very sorry you’re having to endure this sort of immaturity and vile reaction from pathetic individuals. We all suffer our over-zealous fans and/or stalkers now and then, and it’s a complete drain even when there are only a few. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have such a flood of misogynistic, disgusting cretins on your doorstep.

    Hint to the above-mentioned well-meaning friends: It’s not a welcome note to get from someone that says “Oh, here’s more sick shit someone has posted/said/video blogged about you.” It’s not something anyone really wants to see. It’s one thing for people to say they hate you or something you’ve said. It’s an entirely other dimension when people make it their life’s work to become passionately, obsessively fixated on hating you in an abnormally chronic fashion. Nobody likes to be the target of a sick freak.

    And this whole EG thing really brought the sickos out in force. I never saw such disturbing, disgusting defenses of ill behavior and perspectives. I lost “friends,” but don’t care because I don’t need or want friends who can’t respect women. It was just surprising to see the true colors of people I thought were more capable of recognizing prejudice. The upshot were the ones who never considered these issues, who are now sympathetic to the cause of feminism.

    You were so unfairly vilified in this, and the ongoing backlash is truly beyond belief. Endure if you can. And know that the saner element on the Internet (and in the world) recognizes the sick freaks for what they are–pathetic lonely people with sad lives that provide them with nothing constructive. The fact that the attempts to drum up support to mass tweet you, for example, fell flat, show that nobody takes these cretins seriously. They’re just lone wolves wildly howling away at the moon. For all of them, they’re still a very small minority.

    Try to ignore it as much as you can. As you say, who and what they are is only too clear. And the fact they can’t assert they’re not misogynists without referring to a woman as a “cunt” really requires no rebuttal. They rebut themselves, and are too stupid to recognize it. They are the lowest common denominator. They don’t deserve another inch of your blog space or your thought. You (and the others who have left all this in the past) can feel free to move on, even if your stalkers refuse to. Let them live the next 10 years railing over some 30 seconds of a Youtube video that made their brains explode so that they can seemingly never recover–but let’s make a pact to let them live in that past alone. You’re not the only one whose tired of it.

    To those who can’t get over it: FOR CRAP’S SAKE, GET OVER IT. You’re just being boorish assholes at this point.

  106. I just registered just to express support. This is a cultural rift comparable in size to one around religion; indoctrination and insecurities run deep. You have (inadvertently, and in a truly minimal way) attacked the sacred cows, and people are confused and terrified.

    I checked out the “Gray Lining” blog – the insecurity of the author is suffocatingly thick. He, and people like him, have no idea how to even approach the situation. All they know is that it angers them.

    Keep it up. Don’t let them silence you. You have allies.

  107. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through all this. Hopefully some good will come out of this whole ordeal. For me at least, I’ve found another interesting blog to add to my list. It has also raised my awareness to the severity of sexism that continues to persist today (like realizing that creationists still exist). I’ve been fortunate enough to not have encountered such attitudes, but I will make an effort to speak up about the problem if/when I come across it.

  108. I’m not a particularly good feminist (or even skeptic, really) but, Great Squid, these assholes make me embarrassed to be male. (Whereas the women make me embarrassed to be human.)

    Keep up the good work, Rebecca, and carry on laughing at these twits. Don’t let them grind you down!

  109. Rebecca, you’re the reason I started listening to SGU. It was the inclusion of a voice like mine that made me feel there was something there for me. Thank you for that.

    Rock on with your bad self, and do what you gotta do.

  110. You are such a brave strong woman. Hang in there!

    The continual and ugly harassment of you by people who claim to be skeptics and humanists is shameful. The dismissive reaction of a number of people who are viewed as prominent rationalists has been a shocking revelation and disgusts me.

    If nothing else positive comes out of Elevatorgate, it’s that it exposed the vile, pernicious sexist and misogynistic behavior that’s been ignored and discounted for too long.

    Now, we need to do something about it.

    Keep fighting.

  111. I cannot understand why there has to be such a schism over this issue. I just don’t get it.

    Both side seem to feel justified in their views and really only two people can know what happened.

    Nothing did happen, thankfully. But using judgement, based upon what ever one may call proof or whatever, is not their call.

    I believe Rebecca but I find this vitriol and animosity so distasteful. It is as if there was a topic that people could take sides and the corners where chosen.

    The sad thing is the male involved has been immune from the attacks and no one has called him anything directly. Sure by proxy the “male” has been called a rapist or other names but not him personally, as far as I know. I don’t feel that way nor should anyone.

    Likewise, no one should be calling MS Watson a cunt or slut of wishing she was raped and so many horrible things she has had to deal with.

    If someone can explain how she acted improperly, I would love to hear it. But it is mostly the name calling and “Oh poor little of male me, how can I ever get a date if I don’t act creepy.”

    Maybe they should give up on this genetic experiment of theirs. Basically, MS Watson was there she made the call, we should all respect that and that is that.

    Or think about this, this guy comes on toher and she goes back for coffee and nice conversation for what ever amount of time added to 4am and she goes back to her room and write a blog that ” Come on guys, how long do I have to stay up blobbing until one of you are going to ask be back to your room?”

    What would that call for?

    enough said…..

  112. Whatever you do, don’t give up. You have far more support than hate from people who read your blog or follow your activities. We need more like you to continue to provide a voice of reason.

    I have to wonder about the misogynists of the world – do they not have mothers, sisters, or even one female friend? I have a wife and three daughters. I can’t imagine going through life thinking they were any less important or worthy of respect than my son or any of the men I know. Would they prefer a world with no women? I can imagine what a disaster that world would be.

    Keep up the good fight, please.

  113. Shortly after I started listening to the SGU, I said to myself, “When I grow up, I want to be like Rebecca Watson.” Of course, I’m pretty sure I’m older than you, but it’s still true. Even more so now.

    Count me as another who had always identified with feminism in a very casual way before all of this happened. You lifted up a rock that needed to be lifted, and now all manner of creepy-crawlies have scuttled out into the light of day.

    The most important thing is to take care of yourself. Stress can wreak havoc on your health, and I can’t begin to imagine how stressful this shitstorm must be. If you need to take a break from it all, we will understand. Seems clear from this comment thread that we all hope it won’t come to that, but if it does, just know that we’ll be here when you get back.

    You are awesome.

  114. I know it hurts, Rebecca, but count me in as yet another tiny voice in the faceless masses who’s pulling for you!

    I’m another Pharyngula reader, skeptic, atheist, and science buff. At first I wondered why PZ kept writing “feminist” articles. “Why?” I thought, “Surely we Skeptics don’t have any sort of problem with sexism, do we? We’re enlightened!” – And then ElevatorGate came along and showed me exactly why it was so important, and just how entrenched the rot still is.

    People went nuts! They scrabbled after any excuse they could scrape up or manufacture to smear you, using every tactic in the Apologetics’ Guidebook. Even Richard Dawkins didn’t get it – and rather than speak up on the side of all the women who were patiently, clearly explaining where the problem was and why it was a problem, he compared a blatant proposition to being stuck in an elevator with a gum-chewer. *boggle!* When you mentioned that you weren’t going to be buying or recommending his atheism-based books, (Something you had every right to do, and I suspect that most other people would act the same way, were they to be in a similar situation.), people claimed (And still claim, to their everlasting shame) that you’d called for a boycott. It’s perfectly clear that you didn’t, and watching the other side have to make up their reasons for outrage out of whole cloth made it quite clear which side held the moral high ground.

    Obviously, the problem of sexism is still there, and it’s still there in a big way. You are doing the right thing to help bring this festering sore out into the open, where it can receive the attention it needs if we’re to have any hope of healing it. Thank YOU, Rebecca Watson.

    I hope that you don’t let the festering sores drive you away from the rest of our healthy community of skeptics and science-lovers. We would be much diminished by the loss. We -need- people like you speaking up even MORE often, not less!

    My voice may not be much, but I wanted to add my voice squarely in support. Don’t listen to those woman-hating idiots!

  115. Hi Rebecca,

    I’ve only loosely been following this whole mess via Ophelia Benson, but I just had to register on your site and offer my support, for whatever that is worth.

    The abuse you’ve received from this has been a disgrace from the start. And what a revelation about how much ugliness was lurking in the skeptic movement. Once again, we learn just how pervasive stupidity, bigotry and hate can be.

    Understand that those hurling these vulgar and absurd insults are desperately insecure people. They are doing this to make themselves feel better and validate their prejudices. I would pity them if they weren’t so harmful. The challenge is to not let them drag you to their level.

    This is a campaign of intimidation, and therefore censorship, pure and simple. Whether I agree with everything you’ve said and done is irrelevant. Anyone who supports the right of individuals to freely hold and express opinions must support you.

  116. You’ve got an awesome community here supporting you, you’ve failed to descend to their level and just lash out, and you keep on being rational and stating your point in clear, unthreatening terms. Good on you. Most people would have given up by now or just started name calling as well.

    Kia kaha!

  117. Rebecca, as a man I support you 100%. Keep up the great work and remember that haters are the problem – you are not the problem.

  118. I admire that you’re standing up against these haters. You are a strong, intelligent woman. This situation, as shitty as it is for you, is absolutely inspiring to me and gives me the confidence to stand up for myself.

    It is hard to deal with and taking a break for a while would certainly be understandable, but please don’t let them silence you.

  119. While I found the elevator debate fascinating, and spent more than eight hours following it, in the end I think your video from the conference in Ireland was the most powerful statement.

    That is, at first I read the name calling and misogyny from the people that disagreed with you and vowed to never attend an atheist conference. (I am female, but well past the age of being hit on. But the repulsive power of some of the men arguing with you was, well, pretty repulsive.)

    However, your video from Ireland and your call to arms against conservative Christians was so motivating that I might actually go to such an athiest event to work on these issues (even though I might meet some unevolved men, eek).

    You inspired me. With your brain and not with your ladybits. This is awesome. Maybe you should think of persuasion as your superpower. And try to sidestep the rain of troll shit, aka “brown kryptonite”.

  120. Rebecca,

    I don’t really have anything inspirational to say. I am a male skeptic that identifies as a feminist, and that has a lot to do with you. I know you mainly from SGU, where you are my favorite panelist.

    I want to point out that even if you duck out of the limelight of the skeptical community, that wont take the haters away. I can only imagine how rough it is, but avoiding and ignoring the skeptical community because of the the insensitive jerks doesn’t make them go away, for you or anyone else.

    I hope this drop of encouragement in the ocean of Rebecca fans is enough to wash out all of the trouble the asses of the internet have filled you with.

    And even if it doesn’t, at least you know there is one more person in the world that’s got your back.


  121. Please continue to do the excellent work you do. You are an inspiration to all of us who strive for truth.
    The only way to counter the ignorant views and comments that have been sent your way is to continue spreading the skeptic message.
    Thanks for all your hard work.

  122. As a long time SGU listener I just had to register here to say keep up the good work. In fact it seems the bullying has made you better if anything. Maybe I should thank all the assholes for making my Sunday mornings slightly more amusing.

    Joking aside I really hope you find a way to ignore this, uh, slime for lack of a better word. It’s absolutely 100% pure bullshit. There is nothing that you could have done or can do now to stop it from seeping in (aside from email filters and whatnot).

    Oh and while we’re on the subject of moms and naming names… I wonder if the ones that blog about you under their real full names show their blogs to mom and dad.

  123. “Living well is the best revenge.” (George Herbert)

    In other words, ignore the low-lifes, and continue doing what you wish. Write. Speak. The more, the better.

  124. I am appalled that this is happening to you, not surprised, just appalled.

    You really are an inspiration, hang in there.

  125. Admittedly my evidence is anecdotal, but it seems to me that for every crazy Rebecca-hater there are a hundred people who think you’re an inspiration and have your back 100%.

  126. I don’t know how to effectively give my sympathy and support, but I’d like you to have it.

    Also, Minecraft is pretty awesome.

  127. This just shows how bad things really are and how much we need women like you. A lot of people are threatened by a woman who has figured out that she doesn’t have to conform to what a woman is “supposed to be”. It chips away at the superiority complex given to some men by their mommies. It makes them feel less special and manly. And that’s all some men have. For certain women, i think they feel threatened because they’ve spent their whole lives learning to please men and nothing else. That’s all THEY have.

  128. I have no idea who Adrienne Myers is, but Liz, Maggie and Mary are totally awesome and brilliant and the Boston Skeptics would be nothing without them.

    1. I would like to second this wholeheartedly. Thank you Skepchicks. You are all making a difference!

      1. Well… first, thank you both. But second, I just want to make it clear, lest someone claim Rebecca hand-picked a matriarchy to run Boston Skeptics when she left, that BS does now and always has relied on a collection of women -and- men to make it work. Liz, me, Mary… and Josh, Jared, Blake, John, Felicity, Kevin, Aaron, Sara, Francois, and several others.

        And this speaks to something else, as well. Rebecca is not the megalomaniacal self-centered horror show these obsessive people keep trying to portray her as. She’s just not. She’s driven and focused and understands marketing, but that doesn’t make her a monster. Or a cunt. I’d love to see these taunters face to face with her to see if the story is the same (OK, the one guy, sure… but he seems to be more akin to Mabus on some mood-stabilizing drugs, mile long posts and all, than anything else).

        I don’t give my loyalty out just because I know someone. My loyalty comes from respect and admiration; it’s earned. And I am a loyal friend to Rebecca because she’s genuine (which *gasp* means speaking her mind) and responsible (sorry, Becs… your secret is out) and, well, I like her. She’s ‘good people’, as my grandma would say. And, oh horror of horrors, she cares abou the plight of women in a world that still often regards us as ‘less than’.

        This whole thing has done good in that it’s made the community take notice that misogyny does exist even among skeptics. And this post just goes to prove that a little bit of ‘obsessive crazy’ does too.

  129. You know what sucks? It’s easy to say “haters gonna hate”, or “living well is the best revenge” or “their opinions aren’t worth the pixels they’re rendered in” or whatever… but ultimately, harsh words still hurt. It still sucks to have people going out of their way to point out how much they hate you. And aside from the hurt of the individual opinions, they’re still representative of a big, ugly, hateful aspect of humanity in whole. That we’re capable of some amazing levels of nastiness and ignorance and hate.

    So, really, the fact that there are people willing to expose themselves to that, and willing to endure their hurt, on behalf of the rest of us, on behalf of what they believe in, on behalf of making the world a slightly better, slightly less ignorant place is amazing and beautiful.

    The reason people like Rebecca and the other Skepchicks deserve so much respect isn’t that there are many of us who love and appreciate them. It’s because they do what they do despite the fact that there are many people out there who hate them or don’t care. That takes a lot of strength and dedication and integrity.

    Love you Rebecca! I’m sorry to hear about the nastiness. But the fact that you carry on doing what you do anyway is amazing. Thank you!

  130. The behavior of these individuals towards Rebecca is reprehensible.

    I disagree with Rebecca’s advisement against elevator guy, but none of this behavior in any way addresses the pertinent issue, nor facilitates communication.

  131. This is precisely how people behave when their privilege is challenged. I would much rather have these ignorant crybabies hate me than respect me. This schism was inevitable, I’m sorry that the epicenter ended up essentially being you, Rebecca.
    Just remember, a lot of good will come out of bringing this craziness out of the closet. I just wish you could experience the benefits directly. Hopefully, this will encourage a backlash against the misogynists and their privilege. Next up: white privilege schism makes the male schism look like World War 1!

    1. You know… if this really does end up getting understood as the thing that tore open the skeptical community and exposed its rampant misogyny problem, it’s kind of funny to imagine that it all hinges around one awkward, creepy, lonely dude on an elevator who will probably stay completely anonymous and never realize the role he played in bringing forward the discussion about women’s voices within skepticism. Hilarious, actually.

      BTW, I also wanted to echo some stuff some people said above about how what a lot of men and MRA types don’t understand is that stuff like that happens ALL THE TIME in real life. It’s not a weird, once-in-awhile kind of thing that only ever happens to some particularly pretty girls. Like personally, I’m not AT ALL conventionally attractive, but cat-calls and creepy comments and dudes hitting on me is a multiple-times-a-week occurrence for me. Just last night I stopped in a bar for a quick pint. This middle-aged greying dude (I’m 27) came up and sat next to me, introduced himself as Dave and started being kind of flirty and complimenting me on my jewelry and stuff. Fast forward five minutes, and he’s saying that his friend is moving away to a new job in Mexico in two days and he’s trying to convince me to sleep with his friend as some kind of “going away present”. I had to say no repeatedly, but he kept at it, until finally my (badass) friend Nomi the bartender came and saved the day by telling him “the lady said no. Stop it or you’re cut off”… I downed the last of my beer as quickly as I could and then ducked out of there. I would have liked to have stuck around, but having a guy try to offer me as a “gift” to his friend? Kinda ruined my good time.

      Point being: yes, there are creepy dudes out there who say creepy and inappropriate things to ladies. It doesn’t just happen every once in a while. It happens all the time. And it’s not okay. And it is worth talking about.

      1. Oh yeah, we’ve all got war stories. I had one guy, when I was working in retail, go into great detail about how much he loved having sex with women with tongue piercings (at that point, I had the tongue piercing & purple hair). This was while I was serving him at the counter. What. The. Fuck. And the other week, I had some guy check out my butt while I was at a restaurant and tell me that it was a great ass. I wasn’t even at a bar/pub. It was a family restaurant. And he was like 50ish? (I’m 31).

        1. Oh ew…wow. I bet even your piercings themselves were turned off by that. This would be such a fun AI, though! “What are your best ‘creepy dudes hitting on you’ stories?”

          I’ve been mistaken for a prostitute FOUR times in the past two months. The first time was an old bald asian man with poor english and no teeth asking me how much I charge for a blowjob. It was 7:30 in the morning! After I said no a couple times, he offered me $20. I also once had a really, really gross homeless guy who’s beard was literally encrusted with filth (looked like maple syrup, maybe?) say “Hey baby! I’m single if you want a quick fuck!” That was in the middle of the afternoon. In a big crowded outdoor square outside the central library in downtown Vancouver. Is there something that happens to men when they turn 45 where they just suddenly lose recognition of the fact that it’s not okay to say really gross / creepy things and hit on much younger women?

          (before I get flamed, that last sentence is just a joke, guys. I know the majority of you are totally decent and respectful.)

          1. Erugh. Some dudes are just seriously creepy. I think it’s a pretty sad state of affairs that women can play the “who’s had the creepiest experience” game with each other. My creepiest moment was at a santa parade, and some random buy kept fondling my ass & genitals, and I couldn’t *see* who it was to stop it. Another time, I was in a bus shelter sheltering from the rain, and a guy in there thought it was perfectly acceptable to start stroking my legs. I gave him a big ass balling out, and threatened to smash his lights in, which made him stop, but ugh, how is this ever fucking acceptable??

  132. As someone who got chased offline for awhile for being female and politically opinionated (in one of my previous blogging lives), I want to raise my glass to you.

    I rationalize it like this: they’re kicking, they’re screaming, and their way of life is dying. Maybe not in my lifetime, but it is dying, and I intend to kill it a little, myself.

    Here’s to a future in which what they’re doing creates gut-level horror and is unthinkable.

    Here’s to a time when being a woman is seen everywhere as being human, and when a woman with opinions has them on no one’s sufferance, needs no permission and does not risk having her gender used against her, instead of being evaluated on the quality of her ideas.

    From my little social science corner, I salute you. You won’t disappoint me if you need to step back. Everyone needs a break.

  133. Frankly I am pissed off at Rebecca. Her anti-misogyny campaign has taken away the one thing that has kept me going all these years – namely the dim light of hope that I gain from objectifying woman. Now every time I encounter a hot babe this little voice in my head reminds me that there is a human being inside that hot little body who is totally unaware of the x-rated fantasy unfolding in my head and probably prefers to keep it that way. Now I have to put the shoe on the other foot. Now I have to see things from the woman’s perspective. This is hard work. Being a better person sucks. Thanks a lot, Rebecca!

    P.S. Being a man isn’t all that it’s cranked up to be, ladies. Having a dick can be a curse. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden myth, it is constantly trying to get you to do things you know you’ll regret later. Are vagina’s like that?

  134. Rebecca: I don’t agree with you 100% on all of the details of The Incident, but I find the level of vitriol it’s generated to be very weird. I simply can’t imagine getting that worked up over this. People are strange.

  135. thomtrue: It did not start with ‘elevatorgate’. It happened exactly the other way around. It was hate mail and hateful comments that motivated Rebecca to start talking about women’s issues, which then lead to elevatorgate.

    The hate mail started coming years earlier. They’ve mentioned it once or twice on the SGU podcast, although I don’t recall on which episodes. It’s somewhere in the archives.

  136. This whole incident has reawakened my feminist sensibilites. I admire you for persevering in the face of all the harassment. I know this has been beyond difficult for you, but I’m glad the nastiness and obsessiveness of these folks has been exposed. It’s disappointing to see this level of immaturity among skeptics but just as important to counter their insecurity-motivated misogyny as it is to counter superstitious thinking. So, please, do not let these people silence you. I’ll never again assume all skeptics to be reasonable people.

  137. Seriously I can’t believe how backwards things are going in western society. I see more and more sexism all the time ( axe ads, local radio stations supporting human trafficking of women, ragusa ads). I feel like males have become generally more sexist and more entitled. And ironically very few women are fighting back.

    I mentioned the elevator situation (not using names or even the time of day) to a few people who probably don’t call themselves feminists and have no clue about the skeptic movement. And all of them said things like ‘that’s creepy’ or ‘that guy needs to get a clue’.

    This wasn’t a feminist issue to begin with. The guy was innapriate and no matter the situation who the woman was etc it would have made her feel uncomfortable.

    Seriously guys have to get over themselves.

    Keep up the good fight rebecca!

  138. I’ve been satisfied being a lurker here for several years, but this post inspired me to register. I just want to add my voice to all those who support what you do. DO NOT STOP POSTING! (look at me, this issue has even pushed me to the point of typing in all caps) If for some reason SGU had to lose a member, you would be second last person I’d want to see go (sorry, got a bit of a fan-boy crush on Steve). Ignore the raging Bandershots of the web and keep plugging away.

  139. I think Steve discovered that blog because that person was one of the ones derailing this SkepticBlog post about the SGU 24-hour podcast. That’s right: a quick, simple, upbeat post from Steve publicizing our 24-hour show was quickly turned into a whine-fest from people demanding Steve “fire” me from the show.

    That’s one round you won hands down, thanks to Anne C. Hanna, who elevated the concept of taking no prisoners to a whole new level. That, and the fact that Steve Novella publicly affirmed his unconditional support of you.

    Hang in there.


  140. Shit. The first paragrapph of my reply above was intended to be in quotes. Moderator: if you can fix that, please do, and feel free to delete this post.



  141. Keep up the good work Rebecca. If ever you feel these jerks are getting to you, remember that there is lots of people out there that support you.

    You are one of those people I m planning to sneak in as a positive influence for my niece as she grows up… :)

  142. I’v finally registered after months of lurking to tell you that you’ve been an inspiration on my journey of feminism and skeptic-ness.

    Thank you for being awesome.

  143. Moodydaniel said: “You’re fearless and took on Dawkins, a man some dogmatic atheists have idolised.”

    To which I add, not just that, but the dogma that skeptics and atheists are free of irrational prejudices like misogyny. It’s not true, you exposed a case of that, and you deserve none of the shit that’s been thrown at you over it. None.

    I won’t tell you to keep writing; this is the first thing I’ve ever said to you, so I don’t get to say that. Just know you have support out here.

  144. Just for the record. I don’t think it’s necessarily mysogynist to call a woman a cunt (except for reasons similar to the one’s above). I personally don’t use that word, but I will complain about a bitchy woman if she is such. Just as I will complain about an asshole guy, and just as how I find it absolutely normal (esp. online) people to parade their favourite genital expletives.

    So I guess the lesson learnt is that the use of these words to shame or silence a person is what is wrong. I just don’t like my favourite vocabulary being dissed!

    And TAA calls everyone bad names.. I watch his show but didn’t find that vid esp. thoughtful.

    1. How about the next time you encounter a mean woman, you call her a jerk or an asshole instead of a bitch or a cunt?

  145. Rebecca,

    You are absolutely amazing.
    I am an Indian girl and I see sexism around me all the time. It goes unnoticed infact you aren’t supposed to question it, cos it is tradition.
    I love you for your courage. You have inspired me to speak out against sexism even if it means pissing off some people or listening to the ass hat argument , ‘well some people have it worse,so don’t complain’.
    Thanks for everything and take care. Hang in there Rebecca, all the hate mail you receive is actually meant for all of us outspoken women, the misogynists have just put your face on all of us. They have an easy symbol to redirect their hate this way.
    Chuck these misogynists, we all know extreme assholes exist. What really broke my heart when RD made the comment he made, it feels really bad to lose a hero you know. I haven’t been able to read his books ever since. I know people will say that is an extreme step. He is still very valuable etc. I agree with them, but every time I see him I am painfully reminded of how even some of the best male minds cannot perceive the world a woman lives in, that what appears to be a threat to a woman will not appear to be a threat to a man, so the ‘sexism runs both ways’ card will not work.
    It was even more saddening when he compared your simple one line, ‘dont do it’ to religious people who take offense about broken crackers. For fuck’s sake who doesn’t realize a threat of rape however mild, subtle and improbable is way more real than apoplexy over the holiness of crackers.
    Ah I could go on, but all I want to say is, you are strong as hell! Keep being that way!
    Take care

  146. I’m so sorry Rebecca. I’m in awe of how you continue to respond calmly and reasonable to the most insane shit.

    I don’t know if it would help but I’d be happy to help out if I can with reporting the crazy/ aggressive/ hostile stuff you receive or anything that is just an issue of womanpower hours.

  147. Always remember Rebecca, that for every one of these damaged, hateful people there are hundreds of us out here that respect and support you.

  148. Ugh. Reading those emails made me ashamed to be in possession of a penis for the first time since I left Catholic school.

    I need to keep reminding myself that the world isn’t actually full of crazy creepy bastards, regardless of how much the internet may make it seem that way.

    You’re doing important work – don’t let yourself be silenced by nasty, bitter trolls.

  149. I heard the whistle! :)

    If any of the bastards giving you grief are from my country, PLEASE let me know – there are new laws against this sort of shit – “Using an Internet Carrier to Make a Threat” and so on.

    Let me put in just one kick for the team please, I’m in the right fucking mood.

    1. I guess this is as good a time as any to make the point:

      In any war ever fought, there has been an “occasion” or trigger. There has also been a real underlying fundamental cause or series of causes.

      In WW1 the occasion was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.The underlying causes were many but included the making of Alliances, the Arms race, and so on.

      The occasion is often trivial, and the rights and wrongs are debatable, as in the Elevator incident.

      Nevertheless, the underlying cesspit of fail is often of epic proportions, as in the misogyny and sexism of the Skeptic movement, the USA, and the whole fucking world.

      That is (one reason) why I will continue to support Rebecca to the very end in this saga.


  150. I just registered to say that don’t let those crazy people fool you into thinking that they’re intelligent human beings.
    Thank you for everything that you’ve done and will do.

  151. I’ve pretty much avoided this whole topic until now as I figured it was just a storm in a tea-cup and that it was being overblown a touch. Having read this post though have come to realise how wrong I was, and I can’t believe how much crap you still have to put up with, that is just ridiculous.

    I am a big fan of you and your work. I love you (and the rest of the guys) on the SGU especially.

    So, for what little it’s worth, I am publicly standing behind you against these fools.

    the quietAtheist

  152. Dear Rebecca,

    They wouldn’t be this rabid if you weren’t doing something right!

    Keep up the good work and maybe they’ll get so pissed off they’ll undergo spontaneous human combustion.


  153. It still makes me scratch my head that an innocuous comment like “guys, don’t do that” can raise the ire of so many insecure wankers!

    I saw nothing remotely anti-men about Rebecca’s comment and I’m a football playing, heterosexual, meat eating, beer drinking bloke! What the fuck is the problem with these fucking TOSSERS!

  154. Nil illegitimi carborundum! i.e. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. (Old UK army doctrine). You are doing a valuable and valued job and the extent of that can be seen from this deluge of abuse. I think that there is a proposition worth testing that if these people were more secure in their sexual identity, they wouldn’t have a problem with the contribution of women or their right to have and express an opinion.

  155. I know you said this wasn’t a call for more support, but I wanted to write in and say you have my support anyway (I’m male, 37). Here’s hoping you will continue to “talk more”.

  156. Just wanna say: Rebecca, don’t listen to the piles of arse gravy that some people out there are spewing. You are great. Keep up the good work. I know this post wasn’t meant to call for support or anything, but you have my support anyway.

  157. Rebecca, as someone who has gone through this—albeit, not so much from so-called “allies”—I have to offer my support for you staying. Obviously, surviving is more important than anything else, so put that first. But if you can hang in and hang on to your mental health, I have some thoughts:

    1) Simple behavioralist theory. Bullies bully because it works. Everyone they get to shut up, to slink away, to fold is a victory. It makes them feel rewarded and powerful, and they do it again and again, seeking that rush that comes with dominating a person. What I found in my time was that the more stubbornly I refused to go anywhere, the more frustrated they got, and eventually many of the people who obsessively hate me quit working so hard at it. Occasionally, they’d flare up when someone at another blog linked me—they’d go off on raving rants about what an evil bitch I am—but even that died down. Now a link to my blog from another blog like Atrios usually just means maybe one or two comments from people raving about what a cunt I am, and a response from other commenters along the lines of, “Wuh? What a choad.” You begin to realize the people who obsess about you have very serious problems. You’ll probably never feel sorry for them—fuck ’em, they’re assholes—but it’s not like the criticism is coming from someone who you owe respect. My cat’s opinions on skepticism count for more.

    2) You have more supporters than detractors. Your detractors are men who have serious issues with women. Initially it was a bunch of dudes who have unquestioned privilege issues, but those guys have moved on. I’ve learned from experience that the ones who go on and on about it are usually big time fucking losers who have very little luck with women and would prefer to blame women for it instead of looking at what they could be doing to be more attractive (such as not being assholes). Most people out there are either indifferent or actively supportive of you. If you persevere, you will win.

    3) This degree shit is stupid. What the fuck—half of the skeptical writing and podcasting I take in is hand-wringing about how to get more people interested. Uh, one way is to have people working for the cause who are educated in how to communicate. Who gives a shit what our ideas are if we don’t have people out there who can communicate effectively?

    4) The women who support this crap are pathetic. They used to unnerve me the most in the past when I was getting a lot more of this—the women, I mean. But I spent some time really paying attention to them and started to see that they have serious confidence issues, and really have become dependent on male approval to feel good about themselves. And the quickest way to get cheap male approval is to hate on other women for standing up to sexism. But it’s the worst kind of male approval. Getting the approval of misogynists is like eating at McDonald’s. It may feel good for a moment, but afterwards, you feel sick with yourself. And so you keep going back to McD’s, trying to get more and more hits in hopes that it distracts you from how pathetic you are. It’s no substitute for enjoying the attention of a good man, and DEFINITELY no substitute for feeling good about yourself as yourself. Good men are fine home-cooked meals, and internally directed self-esteem is a 9 course meal at a 5 star restaurant with wine included.

    5) You’re winning. The reason they’re squawking so loud is you’re winning and they can’t stand it.

    6) You’re one of the reasons I gave for marching at Slutwalk!

      1. Ditto.

        And Amanda’s first point is spot on. Don’t give them the satisfaction of being able to say (true or not) “I silenced Rebecca Watson”. The people screeching are the ones who are losing [their entitlement] and it’s driving them batty.

  158. Also, some inspiration, with lyrics:

    All fall down…
    You can comment all day til dark.
    You can call me any name you want.
    You can look me up and down.
    I won’t stop, no, I won’t fall apart.
    You can put me down.
    You can make me mad.
    You can call me mean
    But I think it’s really sad that sometimes I just wanna stay inside.
    I guess it makes you happy that I live my life ON GUARD……
    Stop thief, you can’t steal the way I fuckin felt when I got up today.
    Well I guess you’re the judge.
    I guess you’re the king of the forever beauty pagent I’m always in.
    My heart beats blue, beats red, beats mad.
    Is this the only power that you really wanna have?
    Count from one to nine, how high do I rate?
    I guess feeling good was my first mistake EN GUARDE…
    Let me see you shake it baby shake it some more…
    On Guard…
    Are you a girl or boy?
    Are you a boy or girl?
    On Guard…

  159. Geezo, didn’t realise this was still being talked about. The level of irrational hatred you have to put up with is ridiculous!

  160. Wow, that was depressing. I just hope you’ll be alright Rebecca. You need to realize that for every hate mail that you get, you probably have 100 times, if not more, people who absolutely love who you are (I’m one of them, been following you for years). The thing is, the people who love and appreciate you just won’t take the time to write it like the haters do. I understand the feeling on how you want to fight them, I’d probably do the same. But sadly, you can’t win agains that kind of stupidity. I suppose the best thing would be to concentrate on other things. Let them forget… they will find something else to bitch about some day hopefully, it’s how they live their poor little lives. You can’t win against those desperate people who are trying to find their hour of glory by doing this. I know it must be hard because, everyday, you open your mail and are reminded continually of those stupid people but, try to focus on the real things here. Everytime you answer them, you are giving them a reason to come back again with their stupid comments. Forget them and their false power will disappear… And come back to us who are following you for how wonderful you are.

  161. I found the Skeptic movement because of my boyfriend, but I stayed because of you and Skepchick. The world needs more intelligent female role models. Keep up the good work!

  162. Good for you Rebecca. I think you’re doing a great job of fighting the good fight, but (I hope) not letting it consume you.

  163. Okay, I need to get some more information because I haven’t been part of conversations like this before. Men’s Rights… bad? Personally I consider myself both a feminist and an advocate of “men’s rights.” Of course it’s hard to draw a balance between the two – and that’s fine, but why the scornful use of MRA – is the capital indicative? Are there men’s rights advocates and Men’s Rights Advocates?

    1. Pretty much the entire world is designed to cater to (white, straight, cisgendered) “men’s rights” to the point that, when people who don’t fit those categories ask for the SAME rights, people say that these people are demanding “special treatment” and don’t deserve it.

      But this is 101-level stuff, and this is not the post where it needs to be discussed. To find out some of the seriously disturbed things that MRAs advocate, head on over to and check it out.

      Or, you know, google it.

    2. “Of course it’s hard to draw a balance between the two – and that’s fine, but why the scornful use of MRA – is the capital indicative? Are there men’s rights advocates and Men’s Rights Advocates?”

      Oh boy.

      If you’re intersted in learning more about MRAs you can visit ManBoobz and check some of the gentlemen profiled there. If you’d like a more personal discussion with one, check out Tom Martin over at Butterflies and Wheels (a nasty little irritant that’s currently actually trying to sue a gender studies department in the UK).

    3. Oh yes, there’s quite a difference. If you’re up to the task, give it a Google. But you will probably end up very sad at the end of it. I don’t have a good link to post, maybe someone else does?

    4. There’s nothing wrong with men’s rights and advocating on behalf of those rights. Men deserve equality too, there are ways in which they’re harmed by the present treatment of gender, and most all feminists believe in working on behalf of all genders not just women. The trouble is how the “MRAs” go about it: by trolling feminist internets, dertailing feminist discussion, painting feminism as “misandrist”, “female-supremacist” or “only concerned with their own equality”, endlessly nattering on about child custody and family court biases rather than any of the deeper issues to the gender dynamic, TOTALLY failing to acknowledge that men are privileged over women in our culture, assuming an extremely defensive posture over things that aren’t attacking them, acting like gender equality can only basically be a “tug of war” between sexes where women’s rights have to come at the expense of men’s (or vice versa), and generally being total jerks about it.

      Men’s rights? Good. “Men’s rights advocates”? Actually just angry, defensive men who don’t want to acknowledge or sacrifice their privilege.

    5. Not sure of the original source for this (Twitter, apparently?), but it’s appropriate to the idea of “men’s rights” as well:

      “There’s women’s studies, but why is there no men’s studies? Oh wait there is. It’s called history.”

  164. I’m sorry for the heapful of stupid you’re subjected to Rebecca – but remember that there’s good thing coming from it too.

    The bucketfuls of crazy sexism is a good remember to me and to many others that the good fight for gender equality have to be fought each and every day. And that the attitudes of our misogynistic past is still present in the minds of far too many still.

    I hope the bastards don’t get to you.

  165. I watched your video and I still can’t believe all this craziness has been in response to such off the cuff and minor comments. Geez.

    As a woman who hides in my video games a LOT, I certainly appreciate the inclination to shut out the nonsense. My skin is too thin to endure a fraction of the hatred you’ve had thrown at you. You are who led me to the skeptical movement though. I’ve always been one but didn’t interact with the community much. I fear a less talkative you is a backwards step. Threats aren’t cool though. I wish you all the best.

    1. Yeah, it’s a strange behavior. Keep in mind though that it did not start with the elevator comment.

      They were doing it literally years before she made that comment. Rebecca started talking about women’s issues because she and her co-hosts at the SGU podcast saw that the “fans” were picking on her for no logical reason.

      1. Ah, thanks. I’ve only been around a few months. That’s even more disturbing. :(

        The human animal is so bizarre.

  166. “I was asking for it, boys! If only I’d learn my lesson and wear a hijab when in public.”

    This comment is really offensive and Other-ing for women and trans* folks who wear hijabs. Are you suggesting that those who wear the hijab are not subject to sexual violence? Or that a hijab renders one gender-less?

    There’s been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about making the skeptical/Atheist movement more appealing to people of color. Disparaging a culture (one that includes an extensive body of work on why the hijab frequently has feminist, political, and personal importance in the lives of those who wear it) in order to make a point about rape just seems to reemphasize how far the movement has to go. The line could have read “If only I’d learn my lesson and wear a potato sack when in public” and still made the same point without disrespecting and alienating readers of color.

    1. Wow, I didn’t expect that line to be misunderstood like that. I meant that these people are using the very same (faulty, damaging) mindset of men in cultures where hijabs are required because without them, men can’t control themselves.

      1. There isn’t any context for a reader to draw that meaning from — and it’s still a problematic assertion. There are a lot of reasons why people wear hijabs that are just as complex, nuanced, and sometimes as political as the fashion choices made by those who wear other kinds of clothing. The comparison of rape culture to wearing a hijab is a biased and Western-privileged perspective — and it does alienate people who might otherwise approach skepticism/atheism, but realize it’s not welcoming to differences of culture.

  167. I don’t know what to say, other than my worst thoughts about our society and the people in it were confirmed by what happened to you, and you are absolutely right about the motivations of the haters.

    I was extremely impressed by how you handled all of this. My friends and I are on your side. That’s all I have.

  168. Rebecca:

    I adore you. I have adored you since I first heard you on SGU. The SGU has been more fun to listen to since you’ve been on, because you bring a wit, charm, and intellect to the show that makes the show more dynamic and interesting.

    When the Incident That Shall Not Be Named occurred it was clear that the backlash was not due to what you said, but due to you being a woman. And you are not alone. So many other women have been persecuted for “speaking up.” When I saw the things that were being said to you and about you it made me think of what Jeneane Garofalo (another intelligent, witty woman who really seems to threaten insecure men) went through at Air America and what she still deals with every day. She hosted a show with Sam Seder. And, although Sam was far more provocative than Jeneane, it was Jeneane who received the brunt off the hate mail and threats—because she is a woman.

    Jeneane left the show, because it became too much for her to handle and no one can fault her for that decision—and no one could fault you if you were to make the same decision. I hope that you keep on with your work, there have been so many times that you’ve expressed a thought or opinion that really made me stop and think and look at things with a new point of view. Thank you for being so fucking awesome. You rock!

  169. I’ve mostly been a lurker here and at other “skeptic” sites, and haven’t felt truly “engaged” with the so-called “movement” as a whole. Partly, I guess, because I’m in my 40s, and have kids and don’t work in any kind of scientific field. I generally just listen to what other people have to say, and form my own opinions, which I don’t often share with people beyond those who know me personally. But this … I can’t keep quiet about.

    When I first heard about all this “elevatorgate” stuff, I first thought, “This must be something getting over-blown.” So I tracked down the point of origin and watched Rebecca Watson’s video.

    Upon watching, my first thought was, “Well, it seems like she might have taken this guy the wrong way. Funny, since he started the whole conversation off by saying, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but …'” Regardless, I didn’t think it was that big a deal. OK, so she felt a bit creeped out: that’s certainly understandable, since she was alone with this strange dude in an elevator in the middle of the night. So, her advice; “Guys – don’t do that,” seemed reasonable enough. And it certainly didn’t seem like a ginormous shit storm was warranted over what appeared to be a simple misunderstanding over social etiquette.

    And then Dawkins’ statement seemed a bit … I dunno “off” let’s say. (I’m recalling this stuff from memory, and I’m not going to bother to look it all up again now.) I felt like I understood where he was coming from, but that maybe he hadn’t fully considered the situation from Ms. Watson’s POV.

    And then the misogynistic fucktards came out of the woodwork! I was shocked! I thought we were supposed to be a reasoning, enlightened community. Where did all this come from? I mean, didn’t we all leave this patriarchal bullshit behind with the Bible or Quran, or whatever? Weren’t we all supposed to be past the whole “women shouldn’t speak in churches” attitude? I guess I gave our community more credit than we deserved.

    And regardless of where anyone stands on the issue, as it began: there is NO CALL WHATSOEVER to harass, threaten or insult someone just because you disagree with her (or his) opinion. If one disagrees, then fine: disagree. But the ad hominem attacks and the threatening attitude and so much of it couched misogynistic terminology … frankly it insults them more than it does Ms. Watson. It’s so sad to see.

    I’m not consistently active online, so I assumed this whole thing had blown over by now. When I happened to look at my Twitter feed last night, and saw PZ Meyers’ link to this, I took another look, and was even more surprised.

    The fact that Ms. Watson has had to live with all this venom for so long just makes me heartsick. I don’t blame her for wanting to retreat from the world. The world sucks – and the one part of it she expected to be reasonable turned out to be hiding a bunch of rampaging monsters in disguise.

    Rebecca: I am so sorry you’ve had to go through this. Honestly, it just makes me want to give you a hug, a pat on the back, a shoulder to cry on … whatever you need to help you get past this. (I don’t mean that in a creepy way – frankly, you remind me a bit of my daughter, so it’s more a parental feeling.) The thought of you having to face this onslaught just makes me want to cry.

    But know this: It is you and people like you who are making the way a bit easier for my daughter, and other women (AND men) who will come after you. Your fight now is going to make the world that much better for them later. I just want to thank you for that.

    Stay strong, and enjoy time away whenever you need it – recharging your psychological batteries by playing video games, or whatever you require to keep yourself sane. (Personally, I find spending time in the Wasteland – Capital or Mojave, exploring the galaxy in the Mass Effect 1 & 2, ruling the world in a game of Civ, running some tests with GLaDOS, running down criminals in 1947 L.A., or just havin’ a few brews and mindlessly blasting away some zombies usually helps me feel a lot better when I’ve been under a lot of stress, so I totally get why you’d choose to do that.)

    Just know that there are A LOT of us out here who appreciate what you do.

    Thank You, from the bottom of my heart.

  170. I’ve never heard of any woman being called an asshole, or a douche, or a fag, or a tool or a prick. While I’m sure somewhere out there it’s been done before, it seems to me that these terms are largely relegated to men, yet I doubt anyone cried misandry while watching The Social Network.

    I’m not saying misogyny isn’t what’s going on here, but I am saying that I fail to see it based on the terms used. “Cunt” is just an insult commonly used for women, like “douchebag” is commonly used for men.

      1. Yeah, for real. Serious lols.

        For everyone who keeps saying “cunt” is simply a harmless insult for women like other insults are for men, here’s a list of common insults that are gendered female, refer to female anatomy, or denigrate a woman for her sexual status:


        Here are insults used for men that denigrate them by comparing them to women, referring to female anatomy (or hygeine), describing them as feminine, or saying they’ve failed to be suitably male:

        -Bitch (again)

        Here are insults for men that denigrate women close to them rather than the man himself:

        -Son Of A Bitch

        Here is the ONLY insult that insults a male for his maleness:


        Think about that.

        When you want to insult a man, you imply that he’s feminine or female-like, or you insult women he cares about. When you want to insult a woman, you denigrate her anatomy or sexual worth. It’s not a system where we simply have “some insults for men, some insults for women”. Almost ALL of are insults are based around the idea that women are inferior. All but ONE. One very mild term.

        I really, really hope the significance of this comes across to all the “cunt-apologists”.

        1. “Here is the ONLY insult that insults a male for his maleness:


          Think about that.” – natalie1983

          There are several, actually. Heard them from an English gentleman over at Butterflies and Wheels. Every part of the penis seems to have it’s own associated insult with the exception of the foreskin.

          I still agree with your overall point. What makes pussy such an insult when targeted at men is the association with how weak, frail and all around unfit a woman supposedly is. Never was that made any clearer to me than when I heard the expression ‘Let me get you some Vagisil so you can go ahead and clean out your vagina.’

  171. Thank you for fighting the good fight. The best way to end privilege is to expose it… and judging by the level of anger and panic from those jerks, they’re terrified that’s just what you’re doing.

  172. As a female leader in the movement, this incident has caused me pain and anxiety. However, had I been directly on the receiving end of it, I don’t think I could have handled it as well as you have emotionally. You are very strong and I admire you for it.

  173. Hey Rebecca,
    I have never commented on your site previously. I have been reading it for a couple of years now and quite enjoy all the posts.
    I cannot believe all the anti-female trolls lurking around the aetheist/skeptical community. When I first starting getting more involved in following these groups I just assumed that a more educated demographic would have very few sexist and misgonist men lurking around – apparently I was wrong.
    As a man and a feminist (men who are not feminists either have issues or don’t know what the word actually means) all of the commentary around your very appropriate comments (about the incident in the elevator) make me sad to be male.
    Keep up the good work.
    Marty (Canada)

  174. The snag in your synopsis of the last 3 months is that you’ve included only the easily-dismissed opposition you’ve received. There has been a current of more mature and meaningful discussion that you’ve avoided altogether in favor of exchanges with clueless. As you begin this article: that approach just rambles and goes nowhere.

    This has kept the level of discussion where you’ve seen it: they hurl insults and misogyny while you suggest blow-up dolls and declare boycotts. You mention repeatedly terms like “favorite,” “amused,” “laugh” regarding the hate you receive… and this doesn’t demonstrate the approach of who is against it and wants it to stop.

    My suggestion is two-fold:

    1. Ignore those types and start addressing your comments to the more difficult criticisms you’ve received. Raise the level of the exchange to meaningful dialogue and don’t let it stray from there. If your intention is to win men away from sexism it is similar to winning the masses from religion: engage the process dialogically and honestly rather than merely rattling off against easy targets. Start with recognizing that you’re not the greatest feminist who has ever done feminist work, you’re relatively new to it, and you make mistakes… but are learning and developing… no? It’s not going to be easy even if it should be- and so be it- but as you’ve seen, you will have supporters on it.

    2. End the campaign against Dawkins with an apology. Be that mature. You have no idea what support you can win that way and in the meantime you needn’t make a single concession to misogynists. There are many Dawkins supporters who are against you simply due to your pointless, damaging rivalry with him. It’s a huge albatross around the neck of your work. Disagree all you wish, but remove the heavy-handed tactics when it comes to your professional life with allies.

    Oh, and don’t claim it’s not a boycott. As you put it right here in this article: “When I write about something – particularly something depressing – I like to have a call to action…” That’s what you did, and that’s what’s happening. And you can call it off.

    Mind you, I make these suggestions because I’d rather you don’t merely go down with the sinking ship of your present divisiveness. I’d rather you continue with the substantive work you were doing before your anti-Dawkins campaign began: fighting for the common goals of feminists and atheists/ skeptics as well as against the religious right… which is all-too-content to see another feminist atheist be discouraged…

    1. I’m sorry, what?

      What anti-Dawkins campaign? What reality are you living in? Are you sure you’re on the right blog?

      What, exactly, do you think she should apologize to Dawkins for?

      1. I live with the same reality and campaign that involved intentionally drawing people away from the Dawkins presentation at TAM9, for instance. There was no mass walkout, thankfully (though no thanks to Watson), but that sort of thing should be discouraged, not condoned. As she says in this article, many of the ones who have been rabidly spewing the vitriol against her also have families and attend conferences. By her logic, feminists and those offended by the remarks should not attend any conferences in order to avoid “giving them attention.” We don’t need walkouts on Dawkins, boycotts, or sparring with the haters. We need to raise standards.

        Note that Dawkins never said anything even close to what those people she mentions here said and say to her, nor did he ever tell her to simply “shut up” as she inferred, he doesn’t and never would support the haters in it, he also suffers death threats and hate mail, and he’s also never suggested boycotting or harassing Watson, so why associate Dawkins with the misogynists- particularly given that it’s a general problem, not one regarding a lone rogue? How does it not simply damage the movement to make an unwitting and unwilling enemy of him? It’s needless damage that can only undermine both his and her efforts.

        People want to support her, and plenty do despite not agreeing or complying with the boycott, etc., vs Dawkins. I’ve seen her work, and with other reservations I genuinely want to support her in it if she’s prepared to do it, but the anti-Dawkins element compromises everything.

        If she openly renounces her boycott declaration and other anti-Dawkins activity and apologizes for it, she’ll remove the ability of the sexists to hide behind Dawkins and isolate them further and more decisively. While Dawkins remains a legitimate target for such treatment, however, any reasonable “privileged old white heterosexual male” remains on notice for further ostracization, so she appears the bully and “silencer” herself. It’s also simply a bad precedent to set, boycotting each other for disagreements or for “not getting” everything we want them to. That tendency needs to be nipped in the bud… Dawkins is no sexist. Don’t lend the sexists his credibility. If she cares nothing of the damage she does, she should at least recognize it’s bad strategy and will not ultimately win as it is. A new strategy can.

        I’d say this is the right blog though because my criticisms and suggestions are meant *well* toward RW, not spuriously or adversarially, and there’s nowhere else to post my measured encouragement directly to her for what I *do* find essential in her own contributions. She says she’s unsure how to proceed and that the support she’s gotten is not what she’s asking for now, but rather a taking stock of the situation. So I gave my advice. She’s in a key moment of her work- both due to where it’s taken her and what she needs to find in herself and do in order to proceed from here. Marcotte seems to recognize this as well though from a different angle.

        The message is this: what you were doing before regarding women’s interests and skepticism was valuable; that work has been diverted by your decisions made in anger; but there *is* a way you can rise to the occasion to correct that course and return to the work better oriented and more effective as a presenter.

        1. Dude. Dude. I’ll say this slowly so that it’s clear:

          There is no Dawkins boycott. Rebecca did not call for a boycott. All she said was that she personally is not going to buy his books any more – and if that counts in your mind as a boycott, then wow, I guess I’ve been boycotting football games and nail salons and Home Depot and all the other thousands of stores and products that I’ve never used for years. Who knew?

          People are upset with Dawkins for stupid shit that he said, including Rebecca, but that’s not the same as a boycott. Make no mistake, it was stupid. He used a classic silencing tactic: You shouldn’t complain because other people have it worse! In effect, he DID tell her to shut up. He treated her rudely, and I don’t blame her at all for not wanting to buy his books any more.

          I don’t think Dawkins is particularly sexist. He did, however, make use of a sexist argument. I wish he’d own up to it and respond to the thoughtful letters he got. I hope we raised his consciousness at least a little.

          This Dawkins boycott is all in your mind. You misread Rebecca’s post, in which she clearly stated that she wasn’t calling for a boycott. Take another look and think again. Do you still think she should apologize for her nonexistent boycott? Or do you think she should say, “I’m sorry, Prof. Dawkins, I’ll be sure to buy every future book you write!”

        2. If someone saying “this isn’t a boycott” – in its own special post, at that – isn’t clear enough for you, then I’m afraid the problem here isn’t with Rebecca…

    2. Since 2) has been more than adequately address. I’ll take on 1) for 1000, Alex: The only difficult criticism I’ve seen raised are the ones your kind have chosen to make difficult. Read: tone trolling. And you know where you can stuff that. Just saying.

  175. Rebecca, I love the strength, the wit and the toughness of you. Hang in there. I love your work. You inspire me. This onslaught aimed at you is meant (have not doubt) to intimidate us all. It is a tragic failing in this community and one that needed to be highlighted. Thank you for making skeptic’s and atheist events safer for myself and my daughters. You can stop whenever you want. You have done more than enough. but if you choose to keep speaking, I will keep listening. (((HUGS)))

  176. When PZ Meyers, JT Eberhard, or Richard Dawkins are snarky, it’s cool and edgy, and people applaud it.

    When Rebecca Watson, Amanda Marcotte, or Jen McCreight are snarky, it’s annoying and disrespectful, and people make blogs calling them ugly sluts.

    Show me one anti-Dawkins blog that makes a big deal about them being fat, ugly, or calls them homophobic slurs or something like that.

    Now show me one anti-Rebecca blog that doesn’t.

    Problem, misogyny apologists?

    1. You know, Dawkins had a whole episode of South Park (“Go God Go”) devoted to making fun of him, his speech, and his personality that depicted him as incredibly gullible, constantly horny, shortsighted, and tyrannical. Doesn’t that count perhaps even more than a blog would since it aired on commercial television and can be bought in most retail stores across the USA today or watched for free on the Internet by anyone at anytime?

  177. I know you said you weren’t fishing for support, but here it is anyway. Your post gave me more courage to speak up in a recent exchange on reddit. I’m so quick to jump in and call people on it when they talk about how they think all men are violent assholes. But I feel like standing up similarly for women will just be seen as defensive and oversensitive. So I hesitate to speak up.

    But I felt like brave people like you need more people speaking up. So that more people will see that it’s not just one hateful woman overreacting to one pass by one guy.

    Thank you for inspiring me to be a louder voice in defense of all the things I care about.

  178. Rebecca,

    I know I’m late on this (I’m always late on these issues which is why I frequently don’t comment or blog about them.) But, I feel really strongly about this and wanted to add my voice if I may.

    I owe you an apology. I mean that. Sincerely. I promise I’m not going to suddenly turn mean or evil. I’m really apologizing.

    I’m not apologizing because I took part in any of the things you described in your post, I’m apologizing because 1.) I had this situation all wrong and 2.) I didn’t speak up sooner.

    I thought this whole thing was basically just a disagreement between two people over the context and meaning of a message in a video. That’s it. As a result, I thought the whole thing was kind of silly. Why was anyone else getting involved in the disagreement at all? What was making everyone so upset? Why did it happen in the first place? What was the point?

    Now I see that this goes beyond that in ways I never imagined. The people that are targeting you like this are bullies at best, and at worst are sexually-depraved monsters! This isn’t about a video, or Dawkins, or blogs, skeptics, atheism, or anything of the sort.

    This is abuse. Targeted abuse of a single person and it is completely despicable and utterly depressing.

    These people were just looking for an excuse. A disguise to wear while they burned they’re phalluses in your yard and attempted to lure you out so they could word-rape you into submission!

    As you said in your post, this is not about a disagreement. This is blind stupid hatred because you made their dicks sad.

    So yes, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m late. I’m sorry I misunderstood. And I’m sorry that these sick bastards exist and are harassing you.

    I think this situation calls for unity. I just wanted to add my voice to the side with the sanity!

  179. Had to add: without misogyny the implied or secondary meaning of the letters c-u-n-t would be “a delightful place to visit” not “a woman I loathe”.

    1. Exactly. Without the idea that women are lesser, why would being called a cunt work as an insult in the first place?

      Therefore, people who call Rebecca a cunt are demonstrating that they’re perfectly happy to have misogyny in the world, so long as they can use it to hurt her. And more generally, that they’re ok with a widespread meme painting women as lesser, because it gives them extra power to hurt women they’re angry with. Why then should she or you or I or anyone else give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to being a misogynist?

  180. I’m still in awe that a simple “hey guys, don’t do that” has caused such controversy. I’m pretty sure that in the book “Guide to getting Laid*” the first tip is don’t approach a random girl and invite her to a hotel room.


    *(not an actual book, maybe)

  181. I don’t know you. This is my first time reading your blog; coming here from a like by Blag Hag. Never mind all that:

    I am Rebecca Watson.

    You’re taking this heat for all the rest of us, the right-thinking people who believe hatred isn’t discourse. For that I grieve for you, and I’m grateful to you. As long as you keep talking, we’ll keep listening. When you’re speaking, we’re winning. When you respond to hate with dignity, we’re winning. When someone like me comes out of nowhere having to choose sides, we’re winning.

    We’re winning, we’re winning, we’re winning, even when it feels like we’re not. And though I’d like to tell you to keep it up, everyone’s got their limits. So instead: thanks for everything.

  182. Hi Rebecca,

    I joined up finally, just to add my voice to the ones above. I am a recently addicted-to-SGU fan, which led me to realize how closely my views mesh with those of many skeptics.


    You are a skeptic in the public eye that I can relate to easily, and you bring up and campaign about many issues close to my heart. We have never met, but I respect you, and I give you 1000 bonus points (in my internal points-based awesomeness rating system) for your honesty in relating your experiences and opinions.

    Protect your sanity and safety. Changing society is slow, and there is much work to be done. Every day there will be more hands to help to do it!

    You did not ask for my support, but you have it, without reserve.

  183. Rebecca, thanks for standing up for the truth, no matter how obvious it might be. You’ll gain more allies than enemies in the long run that way. It’s a winding and difficult journey, but we’ll get there together.

  184. Definitely too long, especially because you are wasting hundreds of words over your inability to comprehend the “c” word as misogynist. Yes, it is deeply misogynist. I’m sure my words will have absolutely no effect on the wall that you’ve erected around yourself, but if someone called my daughters or my wife by that term when I was in the room, they’d leave in a stretcher. It is a word invented by bullies to slap women down. End of story. Except that people like you can’t see that the denying this just makes it harder on women everywhere.

  185. Oops, my comment above was supposed to be a reply to the comment thread started by the impenetrable Jarlaxie – not a response to RW’s excellent comments.

  186. I have disagreed with you at times in the past but I find it appalling that people are stooping to this level because you dared to call out sexism. It’s sad that grown adults are being so grudgy and using high school tactics to try to shut you down. Ugh.

  187. Hi Rebecca. Cross-posting from Pharyngula.

    We stand behind you. We support you. We abhor what’s being done to you. We don’t want to lose your voice, and it’s valuable to us. You weren’t on my radar before this incident – I spend my time here – but I have so much respect and sympathy for you now.

    But to some extent, you already knew all this. You already had people who cared about you and supported you and respected you. What we’ve all learned now is that there are festering piles of toxic shit in this community, and they’re not as small as we thought they were, and they can’t be cleaned up easily. And in the end, all the allies in the world can’t really stop them. I rage at what they’re doing to you, but all I can do about it is try to convince them to stop, either by rational discussion and education – ha! let others beat their heads against those brick walls, if they so choose – or by shunning and shaming them. That’s the horrible thing, and it’s the thing that makes me truly afraid, both for you and for all women in what passes for the atheist community. PZ can’t stop them. The Horde can’t stop them. But for what it’s worth, we’ll stand behind you.

    I know you didn’t intend for any of this to happen, and I know you’d probably prefer not to be the focus of all this hate, but thank you so much for bringing this issue to the front of the discussion, however inadvertently. It’s probably small consolation to you, but this pseudonymous stranger somewhere off on the internet has been not only educated – and occasionally crushed – but, in the end, kindled and enraged by this incident. I am a better feminist and a stronger person because of you. And I have hopes that a better community will come out of this, one way or another. On Pharyngula, because of you, I personally have met several people I consider new friends and allies, and have gained even more respect for existing ones. I have you to thank for that. If there’s anything we can do for you, to make this easier, never hesitate to ask.

    This all being said, what pteryxx said above was wonderful and insightful. We would be discouraged and disheartened and saddened if you felt the need to withdraw, if you were shamed into silence. But if that happened, it wouldn’t be your fault, and you wouldn’t be letting us down. You don’t owe us anything. Please do what’s right for you.

  188. That stuff sickens me. As I get older I realize more and more that I hate people. People in the general sense, that is.

    But for every misogynistic loser out there you’ve got ten supporters behind you. We’re just, by nature, quieter that the asshats.

    If they shut you down, they win. Keep on keeping on.

  189. For what it’s worth, I think what you have accomplished is bold and wonderful. Don’t let that tiny minority with revolting manners get you down. Maybe if one thinks how messed up most of them they are one might even feel a little bit sorry for them.

    Maybe this is the extreme test of scientific scepticism: to be able to poke curiously and even compassionately at the shudderingly awful and wonder what makes it tick. Curiosity aroused, one might say. I don’t know if I would pass this test, but I have hopes that you do.

  190. No doubt its been said already but:
    Rebecca never accused elevator guy of being a rapist – all she said was ” don’t be a dick”.
    Could I amplify that to a gender neutral “don’t be an asshole”?

    I like Rebecca, I love her comments on SGU and would love to meet her.

    Those who come off with the “bitch/cunt/feminazi” etc etc labels STFU and get some real world experience.

    Unless you have actually experienced discrimination about your race/gender/sexuality you are effectively talking from lala land.

    Speaking as a feminist lesbian who lived through the 70’s in the UK live as being out can be bloody difficult.

    So for those who have to resort to cunt etc as a blanket insult – take your privilege )of whatever sort) and insert it anally.

    Please keep up the good work Rebecca, and if it means anything from someone who is a lesbian in a committed relation I think you look lovely – although it your mind I find wonderful more than your body. (Although there isn’t a rule saying you can’t have both :) )

    I can’t believe the amount of sheer bile that has been vented over this event – it disgusts and appalls me that so called skeptics and rationalists should behave in this immature, juvenile and frankly fuck-witted response.

    Get a damn grip you idiots – try and focus your minds (those that can have them rise above their belt buckles) – there are much worse enemies out there that we should be united against – such as right wing authoritarians and religious fundamentalists.

    Just my 2 cents, take care & be safe Rebecca * best wishes.

  191. hey Rebecca, more support from the Uk :) keep up what you are doing, love your posts and your youtubing… your thoughts are very valuable and a joy to be allowed to share in!

    Tod :)

  192. I wasn’t 100% in your corner when this started–none of my disagreements had to do with the initial incident and the first video, you were absolutely in the right on all of that–But those differences were so insignificant held up against this avalanche of insanity that it’s not even worth discussing.

    I used to post semi-regularly on the JREF, I sort of thought that this “skeptical community” was made up of the type of people I’d like to involve myself with. Clearly that isn’t the case.

    This isn’t the first instance of “cold rationality” being deployed to rationalize base, immature biases (example: plutocrat bastards + social Darwinism), but it seems all the more disgusting giving the cultivated times in which (we thought) we lived.

    I can safely say that I never anticipated engaging in a Bayesian analysis of the probability of being sexually assaulted or harassed in a hotel elevator and whether or not the results of those calculations made a woman a hysterical shrew. If it weren’t for the, you know, virulent misogyny, I think I would be most upset by the misappropriation of such beautiful tools of reason for such pathetic ends. It’s like watching someone use a Stradivarius to clean toilets.

  193. Show me one anti-Dawkins blog that makes a big deal about them being fat, ugly, or calls them homophobic slurs or something like that.

    Errm, actually, I could show you several anti-Myers blogs (and Conservapædia!) that do that. They also have the additional power of calling me a woman, a girl, a pussy…you know, all those really insulting terms.

    But you know, I had to work hard for years to earn all that hatred. All Rebecca has to do is show up and flaunt the Y-chromosome shaped hole in her cells, and the hate just pours out onto her. She has it so easy.

  194. Hey everybody, check out (on YouTube) the Downfall parody somebody made for Rebecca – made up of real quotes – hilarious!

    1. This is the link, btw:

      I was seriously lol-ing at the part where Hitler asks “what did she say?” and gets the reply “She said ‘guys, don’t do that’ and that it makes her uncomfortable” and then immediately starts trembling in blind fury.

      Some advice, though: DON’T read the comments below the video. More depressing bile, venom and male privilege.

      1. The commenters seem to think the video vindicates their position, and the clip may have been made from that POV, but in that case it is a self parody, which is the most hilarious thing of all. Exactly as in real life.

  195. Hint to the above-mentioned well-meaning friends: It’s not a welcome note to get from someone that says “Oh, here’s more sick shit someone has posted/said/video blogged about you.” It’s not something anyone really wants to see.


    I had someone whom I could not sufficiently help call my non-profit. She was in Colorado. We were on the West Coast. There was only a limited amount I could do. I don’t believe she wasn’t a victim, I don’t believe she didn’t need help, but then she decided that I was at fault for insufficiently aiding her… and I was threatened with a number of things, including that she would send me a lethal letter-bomb.

    Then I was in the news (without my name) because I had been the victim of discrimination & had offered to talk about it with the people involved (another non-profit). I didn’t threaten to sue. I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t trespass on their property. Nothing. But all of a sudden rumors were going around that I had tried to invade their property & had done all sorts of messed up things. These happened quite close to each other. I would get messages about the person from Colorado calling again & they just wanted me to know that she was saying X. Then others would tell me that they heard rumors going around about the other non-profit & that I was being accused of Y.

    Giving me the info really didn’t make my life better. Actual threats of harm I need to know about to take proper precautions. Anything else? You’re not helping me.

    I think Rebecca was implying that she feels the same.

    I hope that you get the support & help you need RW. We’ll be here when you have time & energy.

  196. Thanks, Rebecca! It takes courage and restraint to engage this issue without losing all faith in humanity. I have found it educational and disturbing in equal measures. Keep up the great work!

  197. Uggggghghhhhh.

    I will never really understand these fucking kids.
    I hope they are proud of themselves for their absurdly abusive actions.

    /And the irony never strikes them.
    //Also, Absurdly Abusive Action sounds like a cool band name.

  198. Guess I wouldn’t make a good hater. I just spent about 2 minutes looking for your email address, but gave up easily.

    I just wanted to say, from a privileged white dude:


  199. Rebecca, ignore them. I can assure you, that you are beautiful, intelligent and awesome woman :)

  200. Hi, I’m Adrienne from the Facebook post mentioned here.

    Guys, I understand why you sympathize with the picture she’s painting, but Rebecca’s not giving you the whole story. Her “random” sampling came from a writer whose articles are making the rounds and getting support from folks at the JREF.

    Here’s what I’m talking about.

    It WOULD be kind of “random” and insulting to come out of nowhere with this. I didn’t. I have very good reasons to be glad she’s gone; they’re all spelled out right there. If you read them you might concur.

    When someone’s telling you that strangers come out of nowhere for no particular reason to persecute someone who’s notorious for throwing a tantrum every time someone breathes on her the wrong way, you have very good reason…to be skeptical.

    Always assume there’s context you’re missing with her. There’s a reason she didn’t include the rest of the Facebook exchange or link/cite/reference the arguments she’s dismissing once and for all with this “random” comment. I attack her ideas and she refuses to defend them, only herself.

    There’s also a reason she spends most of her time responding to the WORST of her feedback rather than the BEST.

    Let’s see if this comment makes it.

    1. Hi Adrienne,

      So I read your post, and some of the associated posts, found here:

      You keep complain that no one is responding to your arguments. But from reading your writing all it seems to be one petulant hateful screed, with no arguments. Just your opinions. The basic one being that you don’t like Rebecca Watson. You finally conclude with:

      ‘She revels in the attention and the drama it brings. I think I’ve given her enough.

      I’m…done here.’

      In psychology they call that projecting, and it is just how I feel after reading you.

    1. With regards to your comment below: I rarely comment on blogs that I don’t agree with. Otherwise I would have posted the following as a comment to your last blog post…

      Participating in an event with a particular purpose is an active choice that one makes freely, whereas being treated in a similar manner in any other context is not an active and free choice. Because the two are very different the latter can be extremely unwelcome to someone who sometimes likes to participate in the former.

      There is no contradiction between organizing and attending a party with a sexual theme and being against sexualization in other contexts.

      I mean, come on! The whole point of having a party is to create an environment for things that you can’t or won’t do in everyday life.

    2. Any proof that the screen-capture was originally named that because it only seems to be called that on the graylining site. No reason why they would want to misrepresent anything is there?

        1. It’s pretty funny just how easy it is to catch a liar lying. The screen-capture is (currently?) called Screen-shot-2011-09-28-at-6.17.55-PM.png here but over on the Greylinings blog it is named Traitor-Screen-shot-2011-09-28-at-6.17.55-PM.png.
          Notice that the T in Traitor and the S in Screen are capitalized but that the s in shot is not; computers are logical and the first word only would have been capitalized or they all would have, capital,capital,not-capital does not make sense.
          I suspect Greylings, their hatred borders on psychosis.

  201. I came here because of Elevatorgate and it really got me thinking and talking and spreading important info. I influenced my husband and friends through the various responses to it.

    I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I’ve only gone through a teeny bit of it myself from my public blogging (being told I should be dragged out into the street and shot, for example), so I really can only imagine what it would be like to have the onslaught you’ve been subjected to.

    But please know that you do good. And that that good spreads.

    Thank you for being you.

  202. I’m going to venture to guess that labeling it a “message” on Facebook rather than a wall post was to make the standalone screenshot make more sense out of context.

    Could be an innocent mistake.

  203. Notice that the comments are all letters of lavish praise and ubiquitous support.

    Do you think she didn’t know that would be the response when she posted this?

    Can you think of any other writer you admire that solicits affection like this?

    1. @skepticasm:

      “Notice that the comments are all letters of lavish praise and ubiquitous support.”

      No they’re not. Yours is not the first anti-Rebecca voice in this thread.

      “Do you think she didn’t know that would be the response when she posted this?”

      Probably she was aware she’d get support out of it, yeah. And after the months of crap she’s had to put up with over asserting that cornering a woman in an elevator to proposition her is creepy – even when you don’t want it to be, and even when you tell her not to “take it the wrong way” first – and saying that it might be better not to do that, I’m not going to begrudge her.

  204. Ah, the old “chronology determines relevance” thing.

    Would someone respond to the ARGUMENTS already?

    1. See above. This is obsession. Take a step back. Calm down. If you’re still bothered, get help.

      1. I’m currently receiving professional help with the (possible, remediable) onset of psychosis, the symptoms of which include dissociation and disorganized thinking. Both have made it more difficult to look and feel poised in more casual social media, particularly under stress, which I am currently – I’m new at this and the attention I’m getting for my writing is stressful for me yet, positive and substantive though much of the response has been.

        I’m not an obsessive person, but I did used to be much more coherent. Bear with me. I’m holding on for dear life here.

        This isn’t about me. This is about commenters using verbosity as an excuse to get out of responding to content. You don’t have any way to know what the volume means and it doesn’t actually matter.

        1. I am genuinely sorry to hear this. I hope you get better. Do what your medical/professional/mental health people say, and don’t give up, work hard, get better.

  205. I have a tendency to submit things as I think of them these days. It’s a nasty habit I’m trying to break.

    Since it seems to be preventing you from responding to the actual content instead of the volume, pretend I had a little more foresight and had put it all in one comment.

    I just realized that I have things to be doing in the real world. The moment I think of Bach or science or love or grief or intimacy or language or any of the other things about humanity that are worth celebrating than hate mail, I feel ashamed I ever wasted a precious second not pondering or engaging those other things.

    Thought I’d try coming over here to at least give it a chance. The discrepancy between subsequent comments and my site stats could be telling. People know there’s no point in posting dissent here.

    I just realized that Skepchick is a self-contained thing with its echo chamber of praise and self-righteous disdain. It doesn’t actually have any weight, effect, influence, et cetera over anything or anyone else. This shit might as well be fan fiction as far as the rest of the world is concerned.

    I’m free!

    I’m going to go read some Sagan. I need the refresher on logic and humanity.

    Probably won’t have to worry about any more horse beatings from me.

    1. Have you read the comments on your own site?
      See much dissent?
      I doubt you ban dissent but you don’t have any, yet you seem to think you would get banned here for having a dissenting view.
      Maybe, just maybe others have lives too and would not wish to waste time pissing into the wind on a blog that is so clearly bias as yours.
      But then what do I know, I post on Skepchick.
      No brain and reason and all that.
      Stay classy indeed Adrienne.

      1. I note that the commenters include many of the usual suspects and that it was Justicar who coined the Rebecca Twatson slur.

    2. Yes. Go read some Sagan and then think real hard about whether he would have acted the way you have.

      Maturity: it is not your strong point.

    3. “I just realized that Skepchick is a self-contained thing with its echo chamber of praise and self-righteous disdain. It doesn’t actually have any weight, effect, influence, et cetera over anything or anyone else. This shit might as well be fan fiction as far as the rest of the world is concerned.”

      Yep, the Skepchicks don’t have any weight on anything in the whole wide world…

      Except that Thanksgiving drive to get that stupid anti-vax ad out of theaters,
      And Hug Me I’m Vaccinated,
      And didn’t the Women Thinking Free Foundation start with Skepchick contributers?

      …and that’s what I’ve pulled off the top of my head.

      What color is the sky in your reality, lady? Sneering “You guys don’t matter anyways” after posting 4-5 times in a row shows an hysterically hilarious lack of maturity (though given the “vagina shaped hole” FB post, who’s surprised?).

      As they say on the PZ’s blog, do try to stick the flounce.

  206. Hi Rebecca,

    I literally only registered to reply to this post. I’m an avid (FEMALE!) listener of the SGU and I just wanted to tell you it wouldn’t be the same without you. I notice and appreciate all you do to encourage skepticism and science among women… something that I also hope to get involved in myself.

    keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let the haters get you down!

  207. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been posted, other then expressing surprise that an issue, where most decent people have moved on (for better or for worse), is still getting all this hate from the same whiners who whined “What’s the big deal?” and “Get over it” while it all was happening.

    Way to take your own advice, assholes.

    Though seriously, Rebecca, you’ve got my support and thank you for putting up with the poo-flinging hatemonkeys. Take as much time away from it as you need to and remember that you are awesome!

  208. Hang in there… you are doing good work.

    Couple of useful books – The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker – on dealing with stalker creeps

    The Sociopath Next Door – 4 people in a hundred are sociopaths who get off on messing with people and have no empathy.

    Your audience is large enough that some of these worthless types have gotten obsessed with you. There is a certain risk involved, so it would be good to educate yourself on tactics for handling that risk.

    I wish you the best and support your work.

  209. This whole saga has become exceedingly depressing for me on multiple levels. I am a male (which to even have to mention that only serves to demonstrate how base this whole discussion has become). All the women in my life (from my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, four sisters, wife, two daughters, numerous aunts, etc.) have all been inspiring and empowered women. The concept that a person is somehow inferior due to their sexual organs/orientation, is for me, no different than any other superstitious belief.

    I have been following along with this saga through the SGU and my gut reaction is simply disgust. For supposedly “enlightened” individuals that pride themselves upon evidence-based decisions, the whole affair is frustrating beyond measure. I gave up trusting in “the greater good” of humanity many years ago, and this only confirms my personal outlook.

    Rebecca, I am so sorry that you have become the “martyr” to expose the deep-dark secret within the scientific/skeptical community – that misogyny still runs rampant. Thank you for having the courage to expose the irrational beliefs and behavior of the so-called rational thinkers in the world.

    Stay safe.

  210. I have no problem admitting that I have things to learn about logic and humanity from Carl Sagan.

    I do have one more thing to say, and I’m only saying it here to make sure Rebecca has a chance to read it. (She’s blocked me from everything else, understandably.)

    I’m sorry for saying I’m glad you’re gone. It was unnecessary and mean. I made it personal where it didn’t need to be. I apologize.

  211. I’ve been following this as time would allow. I finally made an account, like some others on this thread, just so I can say to you what’s been in my heart since this started. I am so very sorry what you are going through. What a fucking bummer, at best – and frightening at worst. When I first read the story, I kinda felt “what’s the big deal?” but my reaction was truly out of curiosity – not anger and hatred. I have been lucky enough to be a woman who has never been molested, harassed, or sexually assaulted so I think my initial response was from my protected bubble of safety and luxury. As this unfolded I learned so much, and I now know what the fuck the “big deal” is. I don’t know what else to say except thank you. Thank you and please keep doing what you’re doing.

  212. This is for the Rececca-hater guys out there:

    Guys – don’t do that!

    Not because Rebecca asked you (politely and wittily) not to: I know the only words you’re interested in hearing from a woman are ‘fuck me’.

    But because it tells the world you’re a loser: that you can’t get a good shag.

    Because – let’s face it – if you *were* getting laid you’d be juggling your time trying to accommodate the women who want to be your lovers with time for yourself and the other things you want and need to do in your life like eating, sleeping and working; not spending your lonely frustrated hours on the internet whining like little boy-children that “It’s not fair” and name-calling those who criticise you (I mean “Rebeccunt Twatson” – that’s just *so* junior school kids-in-the-playground, like calling a kid “fatty” or pulling a girl’s pigtails).

    You see you’re doing it wrong. I guess you’re here in the first place because you found out (it’s a poorly kept secret) that skeptical/atheist women are HOT! I don’t mean cute like Rebecca, I mean good in the sack. Because they don’t accept all the bullshit our society loads onto us all in general and women in particular about Being Moral and Safeguarding Their Mortal Souls and Nice Girls Don’t, so they tend to know what they want and like about sex and be straightforward about getting it – no corny Harry Met Sally fake orgasms with skeptic women – and they know that good sex is a two-way deal and are eager to give as good as they get and – guys! – if you’ve not experienced that yet, you don’t know what you’re missing!

    But this isn’t like some bad porn movie where the ‘plumber’ turns up and the ‘housewife’ promptly drops her knickers for him. You don’t just roll up at a skeptical or atheist event wearing a suitable badge and have women falling over themselves to lay with you. They tend to be turned on by guys’ brains as much as bodies. If you can’t talk to a woman as a fellow human being, and talk thoughtfully and intelligently at that, you’re not going to get to first base. Now that doesn’t mean swotting up on skeptical/atheist ideas and holding forth as though you’re an expert. Know-it-all guys are two a penny and probably a big turn off for skeptical women (I don’t know: I’m a guy; I suggest you ask them yourselves). But it is possible to talk without pontificating: first listen, then ask about the other person’s ideas. If you don’t understand them ask for clarification. If you disagree with them say so and say why. Be prepared to be challenged to explain yourself and your own ideas and made to think. And let me let you into another secret: having intelligent stimulating conversations with women you’re attracted to is a turn-on in itself. You might call it oral sex.

    And another secret. You know those magic eye pictures? They just look like a mass of coloured dots at first but when you get the knack you can let your eyes see past the dots and suddenly a picture emerges. Women are like that: at first you only see breasts and legs and buttocks and lips and waist and eyes and other body parts, but when you look past them something magic emerges: a human being, with their own likes, dislikes, feelings, responses, ideas and beliefs – like you but different. And sometimes that human who emerges will engage with you – above the neck as well as below the waist – in a way that will blow your socks off!

  213. Rebecca-
    I met you earlier this year at the OC Freethought Conference, where you spoke eloquently about why women’s rights – specifically reproductive rights – need to be championed by the freethought community. Honestly, it was the first time I realized that feminist values may not be automatically embraced by other skeptics, humanists, etc. To me, it’s a no-brainer. Women’s rights are human rights. When the first blog posts about elevatorgate began to show up I went back and viewed THE video and have been stunned ever since by the reaction. To what? A POLITE heads-up…”hey guys, don’t do that” is the source of all this bile? You are right, Rebecca…this reaction is all about silencing. Please don’t be silent.

  214. Three wrongs do not make a right-
    They are all wrong-

    First- No one should be called names like “cunt” or trashed just because you do not agree with them- To me people like that are wacko even if they are skeptics-

    Second- Dawkins should be criticized- What he wrote was not just bitingly sarcastic but stupid in my opinion-

    Third- RW and the rest of you are wrong if you think saying “Guys, don’t do that” is no big deal-
    ALL men do not need instruction on how not to act creepy-

    I was at a party- This chick who was married hit on me when her husband was in another room- I told her we are both married and I do not cheat on my wife-

    Now if I put that on my blog then said “Ladies, don’t do that” – Hundreds of you would send me e mails telling me I have no right to tell ALL woman how to act because of one jerk- Then you would call me a misogynist lol

    1. “Now if I put that on my blog then said “Ladies, don’t do that” – Hundreds of you would send me e mails telling me I have no right to tell ALL woman how to act because of one jerk- Then you would call me a misogynist lol”

      Um, if hundreds of people sent you emails like that then hundreds of people would be idiots.

    2. “ALL men do not need instruction on how not to act creepy-”

      Where, in anything Rebecca said or wrote, did she say anything about referring to ALL men?

      Guys that wouldn’t think of doing what Eguy did wouldn’t need the hint and wouldn’t have taken it so personally as the obsessives who are still raising a stink about it have.

      That’s the problem.

  215. People keep mentioning the existence of some mythical reasonable arguments that you haven’t addressed, but as much time as I’ve spent (wasted?) following this thing from the very beginning, I have yet to see any compelling arguments against your position.

    Anyway, please keep writing. You’re one of my favorite writers on the internet, and it’s upsetting to think that there’s anyone anywhere keeping you away from your keyboard.

    Kudos to the bloggers who have voiced their support in response to this post. And to the ones who’ve been conspicuously silent on the matter – what’s wrong with you?

  216. Sorry to hear about this. It seems as if some people must be mentally ill or oblivious to the fact that they have a problem. I clicked on one of the links and was shocked that someone could respond so strongly. I don’t know what else to say but…I feel bad for these people…they have problems… Just keep documenting. These people need to be flushed out of the anonymous internet and into society so that they stop. Keep your head up. I love your intelligence and quick wit!

  217. Nike M – You ask me “Where, in anything Rebecca said or wrote, did she say anything about referring to ALL men?”

    When she makes a statement- “Guys, don’t do that” –

    Then who is she talking to ? Women-

    If not- Then she is talking to men and giving instruction-

    Rebecca you said –
    “ if hundreds of people sent you emails like that then hundreds of people would be idiots” –

    No they would not- They would just be women who do not feel they need “instruction” how to act socially from a blog- So I will get the same response as you did from men as women because we are all homosapiens – lol-

    Seriously – Do you really think if I said ““Ladies, don’t do that” in a blog I would not get flack-

    To me Richard was wrong to mock you but I think you have part of the blame because in your statement “Guys, don’t do that” it comes across like you are giving instruction to men in general how to act-

    I want to say one more thing and I am not patronizing you Rebecca-
    I have not read your blog before all this shit-
    I like many of the things you have to say not that you need my approvel lol-

    We say are all skeptics but those who call you names like a “cunt” or try to trash you for your opinion are not skeptics- They are just ignorant people – Just because a person goes to TAM that does not mean they are smart lol-

    I may not agree with you on some things Rebecca and I do not want to talk skeptic philosophy but people like you make our community a better place to be- Even if we do not agree on everything

    1. Do you really feel that’s a normal, adult, rational way to react to being told not to do something that you think you already know not to do?

      Would you get furious and wage an internet vendetta against a local TV station that aired a PSA saying “Drivers, do not drink and drive, do not speed, do not tailgate”, because you are a driver and you personally would never do those things and find it insulting that they imply that you would? Or would you support someone else who reacted that way?

      Or would you just think “yes the world would be a better place if people didn’t do those things, but since I don’t do them, it doesn’t apply to me.”

      Bonus points if you think that if any of your relatives, friends or acquaintances do those things, you will do what you can to discourage them.

      Extra bonus points if you think about whether there are other unsafe driving habits that you do have and could correct. (These get bonus points because telling other people what to do when you risk harming a personal relationship and introspection are both hard things to do.)

      P.S. I’m not trying to imply that I always react in a rational, adult way to any situation, but I do recognize that I should react that way.

      1. Heh.

        My platoon gets a don’t drink and drive lecture before every weekend. It’s a pretty big issue Marine Corp wide. And like command says after each brief ‘We’ll stop bringing it up when it stops happening. I know most of you fuckers are smarter than that but I know damn well each of you knows someone who isn’t. That’s the fucker I want you to pass this onto.’

        There’s nothing personal or accusatory about it and it would be irrational to take it that that way. Even the much harsher ‘You fuckers need to stop drinking and driving!’ really isn’t a condemnation of any single individual in the group.

        (preemptive argument; it also isn’t sexist either as it isn’t based on anything other than a very real problem within that community. It isn’t ‘You’re a Marine, therefore you drink and drive.’ It’s ‘You’re a Marine. DUI’s are a big issue within the Marine Corp. Marines, don’t drink and drive.’)

        1. “it also isn’t sexist either as it isn’t based on anything other than a very real problem within that community.”

          Sense this does not make. Meant to say ‘it isn’t sexist since it’s based on an actual issue within the community as opposed to a blind prejudice or stereotype associated with that community.’

  218. hi rebecca,

    bad behaivior and troll behaivior is not a privilege of stupid people. that’s simply a fact. getting hate mails is also not a womens “privilege”. that’s also a fact. you cannot stop them via protest. it’s impossible. trolls do that because the are simply able to do it.
    we don’t live in a perfect world. the world never will be perfect.

    so what to do? don’t give them a place in your mind. don’t give them attention in your blog. that’s their goal: getting your attention nd making you angry. it’s your decision to give them what they want or to drain them.

    all those protest notes are totally useless. not one of the trolls will stop his doing because of threads like that.

  219. I feel really sad about what happened to you and actually signed up to tell you just that. I guess I had been very lucky (as weird as it sounds) to have been ugly so this has been less of an issue, but it is for me an important topic when women are treated in a way that makes them appear nothing but objects of attraction…

  220. For what value it has, I support you completely on this. If you are a cunt, then so am I, and let’s wear our cunts with pride (easy for me to say, I don’t get the stalkers and the hate mail). It’s made me more aware of the grinding pervasiveness of sexism, and I’m trying to be more active in countering it when I see it. Enjoy your computer games, but please don’t give up writing and speaking!

  221. I registered after lurking for a while just to tell you I support you. Not much, I know, but I suspect there are a lot of us. What’s going on is just craziness.

    You rock. :)

  222. I also am a first time register, and would like you to know that I support you. I enjoy your blog posts, listening to you on the SGU and hope that you continue to fight the good fight. Please don’t let those horrible people silence you.

  223. As much as the response has sucked, at least you can take comfort in the irony that people have gone through considerable effort, making websites with long ranting videos, and elevating their blood pressure to tell you,

    That it isn’t a big deal.

    Please keep up the good work.

  224. Hi, also registered to say you got my support. As horrible as it is, it is one way to sort the wheat from the chaff(FYI: To all the haters, you are the chaff).

  225. Hi,

    I am so very sorry to learn about all of this.

    Although I can understand varying opinions about “the incident” (though my wife has convinced me that you are right), the nuttiness that you’ve encountered, as you correctly say, reflects on the authors of it.

    I wish there were something that I could do to help (but I’m not going to participate in discussion with those kooks), so I want to let you know that there are people who may not agree with everything you say, but who certainly admire you for raising the issues that you do, and would never subject anyone to the kinds of attack you’ve withstood.

    I hope you will not be deterred or distracted from doing what you do.

    Best wishes,

    Jeffrey Goldberg

  226. My God, don’t these people have something better to do with their time?

    I think the point of this post is that when people are freaked out they cannot understand simple logic: being an asshole does not mean that the person you are an asshole TO is an asshole. It means you are. End of story.

  227. Holy freaking crap, that greylining blog is horrid! Vile, ugly, vitriolic hate and nothing else and nothing else in between. This hoggle character even trolls his own comments bulling and insulting his own commenters. I need to wash out my eyes and wring that experience out of my brain somehow. Don’t go over there unless you are feeling especially strong stomached.

  228. Rebecca,

    i follow your posts occasionally and i’ve seen some of the drama-rama concerning Elevatorgate. I just want to say that as someone who has been bullied as a child at school and as an adult at work – I stand with you. You shouldnt have to take that sort of abuse from cowards and lowlifes who seem to be unwilling to add anything substantial to this universe than ugly thoughts and actions.

    As a black woman atheist, i have been quite appalled at the level of vitriol when it comes to dialogue concerning issues regarding women and minorities in the Atheist/Skeptic community. to see and read what you’ve been through – i feel for you and others who’ve been in the crossfire of angry confused and ignorant people who make going after people like its their career.

    i can imagine that you are tired and fed up with being a target and would rather focus on other aspects of your life. But please do not go quietly into that tempting console (and as an avid RPG/MMO player i know how tempting it is ;) and let those oxygen thieves win. They dont deserve the satisfaction! Know that for every troll, creep and stalker there are many who need to hear your voice, whether they agree or disagree without resorting to threats and insults.

    be well and stand tall, because you, dear girl have a posse! if they mess with you, i got your back!

    much love,

    ps – i think i shook your hand at the end of NECSS 2009 and spoke to you briefly, so obviously you dont know me but hello again!

  229. I, too, have just registered at the site to say don’t let the haters get you down. I’ve been listening to you on SGU for a while (you go, girl!) and finally started also reading the Skepchick blog (been meaning to for just about bloody ever) and am SOOOO enjoying the entries, also by the other Skepchicks. I have an 18-year-old daughter who, I’m proud to say, is becoming a smart, independent, gorgeous and gorgeously unique woman like yourself, and I’m so glad there are women like you and your “posse” ;-) out there she can be inspired by. Hang in there; living well is the best revenge.

  230. Elevatorgate wasn’t shocking to me. I understand the guy who did it and I understand your reaction. But I’m surprised at this ongoing assault on you. Noone who is writing you or writing these awful things about you can possibly have a real life. Ignore them; they are a strange new breed of weirdo who do all their living online. They are beneath your contempt.

  231. Keep up your good word Rebecca.

    You have a lot of good people standing behind you, full of gratitude for you taking the pole and standing in front of us.

    I’ve disagreed with people here on this site, played devil’s advocate on a number of occasions, been called a troll, insinuated that I’m sexist and more along those lines, but I don’t mind, I know I’m none of those things, and people on both sides play the logical fallacy game since it’s easier and really comforting to argue with someone you justify to yourself as being a prick, stupid and totally wrong in every way while ignoring the arguments.

    Much like what those gimps do that have sent you those e-mails and harassed you in other ways.



    in support of jarlaxle or something like that, about the use of the word cunt.

    he himself said that using the word nigger meant the person was racist, but that people didn’t always use cunt because they misogynistic.

    i have a problem with this, since it’s a double standard, because people when upset or furious enough at someone, will use verbal attacks they think will hit hard, and using words like cunt or nigger, to women and black people respectively, might just do the trick, that doesn’t make them really believe the people they’re trying to verbally jab are any less worthy, it might just be because they’re really angry at them and want them to feel bad.

    emphasize on the IT MIGHT !!!

    you can be angry at a white guy and call him a damn cracker
    you can be angry and a woman and call her a cunt
    you can be angry at a black man and call him a nigger

    in order of “power” I’d label nigger as the harshest word, cunt second and cracker a way back third.

    i wish we could just insult each other like civilized people when angry and not get caught up in the labeling of each other, i want the damned freedom to call someone a damn cheese eating cracker whore mongering dickhead and then when I cool off, apologize, realize he only cut in front of me in traffic because his child yanked his sleeve while on the steering wheel, and everyone goes home, happy, uninsulted and not feeling like that other guy in traffic is some racist, classist, yadda yaddaist guy with an agenda, but just another human being.


  232. Damn. I’m really sorry you’re going through this shit, Rebecca. Keep up the good work, and remember that their loudness and vitriol are reflections of their weakness.

  233. Hi Rebecca

    I stumbled across an early warning of the ‘event’ some time back, offered my (very mild and careful) thoughts on ‘Atheist Ireland Forum’ and had my first ever real run in with trolls. I’ve known about them at a distance, thought I knew the kind of thing that went on but usually walked away. The experience was amazing! You could easily go mad trying to make sense of the tortuous paranoic nonsense they torment you with.

    I have learned from your experience, for which I thank you – but I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this. I’ve realised that trolls are ugly, miserable and sour, determined to drag everyone down to their own level of pain. What terrible lives they must lead. Please ignore them – they’ll stay ugly and they won’t go away but you can choose light instead.

    Thanks again

  234. Rebecca,

    The woodwork is just crawling with creepy little critters, isn’t it? Time to launch an air attack with baby mammoths on jet packs armed with CS9000 diatomic dogma disrupters loaded with mega doses of pesticides!!!

  235. Registered to say reading this makes me wish I knew you personally so I could give you a very nice, warm hug. This will have to do:

  236. Wow, just… wow… I can’t believe it has come to this. I saw Rebecca’s clip on youtube that included the original elevator story, but I have missed “Elevatorgate”, primarily because I avoid gender-slanted discussion forums (full disclosure: I have a penis) – they tend to have more over-emotional and fallacious argumentation than 4chan. I stumbled onto this article via twitter, and subsequently the train wreck of poorly argumented blogs, articles, posts and emails (from both sides of the discussion)that led to here.

    What saddens me most about this – aside from another person having to suffer through web stalking and online abuse – is how quickly a community (in the loose sense of the word) that is supposed to be made up of fairly rational people resorted to name calling and terrible, fallacious argumentation over a relatively simple issue. How sad for me, that even the likes of my personal role models Mr. Dawkins and Mr. Plait can fall into this trap. And how sad for us all that even this intellectual corner of the internet is not safe from trolls, slanderers and bullies.

  237. Wow – uhm – at least you’re provoking a strong reaction? Guess that means you must be doing *something* right!

    Hang in there!

  238. Rebecca;

    I want to tell you a story and I hope this helps you get your feet under you a bit better. Several years ago, back before I was a skeptic and before I had a decent sense of self worth, I had a boob job. I hated the way they looked after breastfeeding two kids and I thought that, as I approached the age of 40, it would make me feel better about myself.

    I ended up developing necrosis due to unconfirmed surgical complications and I lost both of my nipples and areolae. I don’t know if there’s a worse experience than watching your own intimate body parts rot away but if there is, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    There’s much more to the story which you can read on if you are interested.

    About a year after my chest healed, (I was severely deformed and required two reconstruction surgeries which i have long since had, to rousing success) I was finally in a mental state to start writing about what happened to me. I was bound and determined to write about it because if I DIDN’T write about it publicly, then, in my mind, the hack that did this to me would win.

    That wouldn’t do.

    There were SO many times when I had to stop in the middle of writing a post and go have a good, long cry. But I did it. I did it because I REFUSED to let my situation dictate my life. I refused to let what others told me change what I truly thought was the right thing to do.

    Boobcast has made a real difference in women’s lives. I get regular emails telling me as much. I talk to women regularly who are scared and in need of reassurance and advice. I’m so very grateful I can do that.

    When I was a little girl my father told me to “Stand and fight if you believe you’re right”. I learned determination from my mother who, after a motorcycle accident that left her in ICU for six months, taught herself to walk again when doctors said she never would.

    Believe me when I tell you that I know it’s hard. I know it’s disheartening and some days you just want to give up and let the world go to Hell in its own little monogrammed handbasket. And some day you may decide you’ve had enough and that’s okay.

    But please don’t let THEM make that decision for you.

  239. I’ve got a BS in economics. The school I went to* gave a BS if the student had take nine credits of math or a BA if the student had taken nine credits of a foreign language. Because we had to take three credits of pre-calculus and six credits of statistics, every economics major automatically qualified for a Bachelor of Science degree. So I have a BS in a liberal art.

    My graduate degree is a Master of Arts because the grad school I went to** gives MAs to liberal arts graduates and MSs to science graduates.

    *I will not embarrass the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh by mentioning any names.

    **I will not mention Harvard because certain folks are jealous of people who went there.

  240. “What saddens me most about this – aside from another person having to suffer through web stalking and online abuse – is how quickly a community (in the loose sense of the word) that is supposed to be made up of fairly rational people resorted to name calling and terrible, fallacious argumentation over a relatively simple issue. How sad for me, that even the likes of my personal role models Mr. Dawkins and Mr. Plait can fall into this trap. And how sad for us all that even this intellectual corner of the internet is not safe from trolls, slanderers and bullies.”

    What he said…. Unfortunately, there really is no coherent common philosophy to define the skeptical community. It seems the only way to have a rational discussion of actual philosophical differences and social issues is in a tightly moderated forum so the troll and bonehead comments can be removed in as close to real time as possible.

    I participate in discussions among smart faith based folks and evidence based folk in the comments section of articles in NewScientist magazine. They have an interesting policy of removing bonehead postings but leaving a short blurb saying a comment was removed. Some of the more hot button discussions have roughly equal numbers of removed and active posts. I suspect that on some issues, like women’s right to have and express opinions, the elephantine nature of the internet makes rather draconian moderation of forums a necessity.

    Anyway, Rebecca, I sincerely hope that all this crap won’t make you withdraw into your video games. I greatly appreciate your humour and intelligent comments and videos.

    “The internet is like an elephant. It is tremendously useful, but produces a huge amount of shit.”

  241. What is it about saying maybe we have some more work to do that makes seemingly decent men absolutely lose their shit?

    I heard about the incident months ago but only just heard about “+”. Something smells rotten after only 5 minutes of searching – trying to figure out why supporting Plus apparently makes you Pol Pot. Trying to figure out if there’s actual stupidity or if it’s because feminism really hurts men’s feelings. Sorry life is so tough, men. Maybe one day you’ll achieve equality. :(

    Seriously starting to wonder if I’m going to have to write off the majority of the atheist “community.” I haven’t seen too many of my own atheist friends making such comments, but I’ve seen their friends doing it. And fuck conferences. No way am I showing up if this is how hostile these arrogant douchebags are to women.

    And yes, this is a pseudonym. Obviously many of our atheist brethren haven’t evolved past the common ancestor we share with boars. I don’t wish what you’ve experienced on anyone…including myself.(Based on their obsessiveness, I actually rejected another anonymous account for this one since it has absolutely no public connection to my identity whatsoever.) What’s more manly than making women afraid that you’re going to freak out at them for having an opinion and speaking their minds?

  242. This isn’t just misogyny, it’s revanchism. A desperate attempt to claw back lost privilege-or even the perception of lost privilege.

    Reminds me of the police holding a military-style invasion of Fergerson in response to a protest about police brutality. The message is “how DARE you call us out on our bad behavior? Who do you think you are?”

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