Kurt Metzger Totally PWNED Me!

I know what you’re thinking: “OMG really?” And also, “who?” The answers are: “Yes, really!” and “Kurt Metzger! He’s the voice of the zombie on that cartoon! You know, the one that is maybe on Comedy Central but I don’t know for sure because I saw it on Hulu? YES THAT GUY!” He totally put me in my place concerning that time like five months ago that I made a YouTube video in which I asked skeptics and atheists to please not proposition me minutes after I finish 12 straight hours of saying I’d rather not get propositioned. Remember when I did that? And Dawkins wrote something dumb and then everyone freaked out and I wrote a post about it and then pretty much dropped it? Remember? WELL!

This is my favorite part of that weird rambling tirade:

Well actually I just watched her video and all she said was “don’t do that” referring to trying to pick her up in an elevator. I’m more attacking shitty college feminism. Also I just read the article now which it turns out was from July, so definitely I’m not cool.

He’s a cutting edge comedian, you guys! He’s not really attacking me. I mean, he was prior to that and he continued immediately after, but for that specific 5-second period he was “more attacking shitty college feminism.” You know that kind of feminism! The kind they have at colleges? Where they’re all like “Bla bla bla marginalization and yadda yadda yadda bigotry?” Take that, dumb bitches!

I’ve kept fairly quiet about the whole “being obsessively harassed by misogynists” thing for the past few months, in part because I didn’t want to beat a dead horse. Like, “happy Wednesday! Here’s yet another email calling me a man-hating cunt.” I Tweeted a few of the ones I found funniest and left it at that, so the conversation about sexism online could continue beyond my story.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been watching a growing number of female writers speaking out about the sex-based harassment they’ve withstood for years. Articles like this one from Laurie Penny in the Independent, this one from Helen Lewis-Hasteley in the New Statesmen, and all of these listed by Cath Elliott may have depressed some who didn’t realize this was a problem, but they made me very happy. They show a multitude of people stepping up, joining together, and publicizing something that was previously something private that threatened to silence them.

The Twitter hashtag #mencallmethings really took off this week and is a part of that zeigeist. This all really serves two purposes, as I see it: one, to increase awareness that violent threats, harassment, sexual epithets, and objectification of women is common and damaging; and two, to give women a place to release the burden of dealing quietly with those things for years. Many women don’t say anything for fear they’ll be seen as prudish, overreacting, or ill-humored, or because they’re told that if they say anything they’ll be “feeding the trolls”.

Allow me to take a moment to explain this for the people who say that. Like Mike and Andrew, here:

“Don’t Feed the Trolls!”

What you think it means: Just don’t reply to people or publicize their insults and they’ll go away! All they want is attention.

What it actually means: Suffer in silence. Read those emails about what a fucking cunt you are and then quietly delete them. Go lay in bed and cry until you don’t necessarily feel better but can at least pretend like you feel better so that we can all continue our lives blissfully ignorant of anything bad ever happening. The abuse will continue to come, because they don’t want attention – they are bullies. They want power over you. They want your silence, and they got it.


So anyway, yes, I am totally in favor of more of this. More women speaking out. More people banding together. More assholes realizing they can’t bully us into silence.

When I didn’t stay silent, Kurt Metzger posted this follow-up, my favorite of his comments thus far:

Hey did you know there's an invention that helps keep women from ever having to feel the slightest bit sexualized? It's called a burka!

That one “like,” BTW, is from me. I couldn’t help it. It made me laugh.

I don’t mean to get all Godwin-y up in here but Kurt Metzger is literally agreeing with the Taliban that the only way a woman can be free from sexual harassment is by covering herself from head to toe. His point is very clear: the speech I gave on stage at that conference and the many hours of social conversation that followed – during which I was explicitly clear that I am tired of awkward sexual come-ons, being touched without permission, having my space invaded at conferences, being threatened with rape, etc – was not enough to reasonably expect someone to respect my vocalized wish to go to bed alone that night. The only thing that could have saved me? A burka.

Which is weird, because he already called me an asexual bore . . . I mean, most of the shaming I’ve received since my video has revolved around what a slut I am, what with once posing for my own pin-up calendar, occasionally having sex with people (sometimes at conferences!), and wearing (gasp!) low-cut dresses. Kurt, however, thought I was asexual. But now I’m too sexual, because I don’t wear a burka. Prude? Slut? I am, apparently, both. Whichever makes for a lazier put-down.

To illustrate how lazy Kurt Metzger’s put-downs are, I’d like to conclude with the following examples of the off-the-cuff responses to him that were way funnier than what he posted:

He’s brave enough to fly in the face of convention – and boy are his arms tired!
– Roger Bauman

I’ve got the asexual thing and the autism down perfectly. I…I will start plotting my valid political position blog immediately.
-Marie Richardson

Who are they to say vagina dentata isn’t a valid political position?
-Mary MacTavish

Andrew Dolberg: What do you call a fish with no eyes? …A Fsh!
Me: Andrew be careful! The comedian might see that and steal it.
Andrew Dolberg: The Fsh won’t

I always wanted vagina dentata, but my sex reassignment surgeon didn’t offer it as an option :-(

And I thought stand-ups with guitars were bad.

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 totally laughed at his “fear of sexualization minimizes rape and makes it harder for funny female comics” line. Yeah, the only way to make things easier for funny female comics (whatever the fuck that means) is to dismiss someone’s nice, low-key request that guys not hit on women who have made it clear they don’t want to be hit on. I wonder what his definition of “funny female comic” is, and whether it involves “laughs at every sexist joke I make”.

  2. The “ignore it” comments always make me angry. It’s based on the premise that you have just gotten that one shitty comment and you should just let it go. They don’t seem to realize the torrent of shit you deal with on a regular basis. They have no idea the mountain of crap you’re already ignoring. So they pop off with their simple little “just ignore it” crap. Why do they waste their breath on this useless advice?

    Here’s a clue people: If someone is upset about being treated badly, the correct response is, “Dude, I’m sorry, that really sucks. I hope they leave you alone!”

    And as usual, I’m impressed with your good grace. I sure hope the bullying slows down or ends soon.

    1. Non anonymous attacks should not be ignored. I agree about that.

      When I say “ignore it” or “don’t feed the trolls” it’s based on the assumption that there’s an almost endless supply of persistent idiots with nothing better to do than to post hateful stuff and an even more endless supply of anonymous email accounts, blogs, forum accounts, etc. (If there was only one anonymous troll with one email address or pseudonym it would be sort of feasible to try and reason with the guy.)

      I think that any journalist or writer or blogger who says or writes anything that challenges some people’s worldviews is going to get anonymous hate mail. In other words anyone who says anything about anything that matters.

      If women get more than men it’s probably because a common worldview is that women shouldn’t talk about stuff that matters.

  3. That always pisses me off. You know, cause not speaking out against marginalization totally makes it go away, amirite?

    Thank you for speaking out. You get all my XP. It doesn’t do anything, but you get it.

  4. I’m sick of comedians ignoring the comedic gold waiting to be mined from the Cooks Source Plagiarism Scandal of 2010…it was a scandal about the plagiarism of Internet food articles! It’s funny on its face!!!

  5. I read the Kurt guys blurb about you and was wondering if comments in between had been deleted, and then I thought he’s just getting so worked up he couldn’t stop it. Like some form of f/b master-wank.
    He’s getting material for a show.. trying to be controversial and edgy, when all he’s being is a totally flaccid tool.
    Good on you for not taking that shit.

  6. Okay. I think I grasp that the complaint about being “sexualized” has been interpreted by Metzger as “objectified” and he’s talking (at some points) about the fear of even having someone appreciate your appearance. That would indeed be pretty reactionary and silly. Problem is, that’s a raging straw man of fire because that was not the complaint and he fucking knows it. He said he watched the video. He heard exactly what the problem was and chose to distort it anyway in order to find a basis for mockery, which means he fails at life and is a dishonest douchebag who is doing female comedians, females in general, no favors at all.

  7. I used to post just the most offensive emails I got in my LiveJournal under the tag “online skeezballs”, in an attempt to make people see the sheer deluge I received. Even though I still receive many of these emails and tweets, even I gave up posting them because I just couldn’t keep up. Every so often, one still gets posted, but I simply do not have enough time in my day to post them and do everything else that needs to get done.

    I think everyone out there who has ever said “just ignore him, he’ll go away” ought to create a public profile in a high-traffic social networking site as a female, complete with “pictures” and participation on the site (forums, journal posts, status updates, whatever) and see what happens.

    If you’re even the slightest bit “overweight”, you get fat-shamed. If you are not monogamously married, you’re a slut, especially if you’re looking, and even more especially if you have a partner and talk publicly about being partnered (even if it’s not explicit). If you are monogamously married, you’re evil according to everyone who is not of exactly the same religious and/or political background as you (too liberal = evil, too conservative = evil and/or oppressed). If you have any opinions whatsoever, you get browbeaten, and rarely do your arguments actually get met on their own standing, but you are dismissed for being young/old/slutty/prude/ugly/pretty.

    If you’re on a dating site, even worse, as any rejection is immediately met with hostility for being a bitch/man-hater/whore/prude/lesbian, as though just being interested in finding a good partner makes you obligated to respond favorably to every witty wordsmith who comes up with the oh-so-original line “hey beutiful, ur pics are hot!” or every tender soul who can “look past the facade to the person within” (i.e. since you’re not that pretty, I’m going to flatter you on your personality and hope you don’t notice the backhanded “compliment” that the pickup artists told me would work without reading your profile to mention anything specific to you). Somehow, looking for a mate apparently obligates me to be available to EVERYONE.

    Having been on the internet since the BBS and IRC days, I agree with Kammy, these people just have no idea of the sheer volume of hate mail all aimed at being female (and my transgendered housemate gets the shit from both sides – first as female, then again for not being female!). Every perceived wrong, every imagined slight, even legit online faux pas all come down to hate male aimed at being female. I’m never just “wrong” about something, I’m a bitch, or I’m a slut, or I’m a stuck-up prude, or I deserve to get raped, or I deserve to get an STD, or I deserve to have a man put me in my place. My boyfriend was once emailed by someone, telling him to “control his woman”. His response was “have you met her?” There’s a reason I love him.

    If I had a dollar for every scrap of hate mail I got that had to do with being female, I’d be rich. And if I took those dollars from the people saying “just ignore it”, you can be damn sure *they* would not be able to ignore it – it’d bankrupt them.

  8. oops, meant “hate mail” not “hate male”. No, it wasn’t Freudian, I don’t hate men. I was writing female and mail repeatedly, it was pretty likely I’d mix the two up somewhere.

    But pretty much any thread that has misogynist-apologists will call me a man-hater for that slip anyway, and any assertions to the contrary will be met with “methinks she doth protest too much”, because that’s never been used before?

    (That ? is a percontation point, and it means I’m being sarcastic)

  9. Ah, I decided to comment on Rebecca’s status update as I’m a big fan of comedy and comedians but despise these kinda zany and stupid topical comics like Kurt that just seem to get a rise out of stirring people up without actually saying anything decent about life itself while they’re at it. Their entire act is, “I noticed this, I read a paper and, Woah, isn’t that weird, don’t you agree.”

    I’m hoping that comment I left, which is screen-capped up there with that tool saying you should ignore the haters, isn’t taken the wrong way as I wasn’t trying to imply anything negative about Rebecca’s writing. I could have worded that comment far better.

    Although I think in this case Kurt’s batshit insane ranting may have me covered here.

  10. Fuck “don’t feed the trolls” and “you gotta rise above it”.

    Just fuck it. When did putting up with shit become a fucking virtue?

    I truly am tempted to start a tumblr, like Fat, Ugly or Slutty just for a collective spot to post this kind of nonsense.

  11. Wow,
    That was spectacularly douchetastic!

    This idiot plays a stupid, lazy, womanizing parasite that had himself turned into a zombie just to impress a chick on Ugly Americans. I thought it was sharp, over-the-top writing, little did I know that it was based on this doorknob’s life.

    Anyway, the rest of the show is funny; too bad he’s not.

    Hang in there.

  12. To be fair though it is confusing for the men – the wanking fairy comes along and tells them “yes of course your cock is the most important thing in the world, ever, and the world has been especially supplied with these things called “women” specifically for it’s benefit. They’re all over the place – you might have to say some special code words, make a commanding gesture or something to make them work, don’t worry tho’, you’ll pick it up from the other guys ;) –

    and then the men go off and try to get the women to work and instead of getting naked and making their orifices accessible the women always seem to malfunction in some way -they make strange noises among themselves – as though they were communicating with each other – what’s that about?? They keep moving away and making weird sometimes even aggressive gestures and noises.

    After a few times the men start to get the sense that some kind of sinister alien life form has somehow got to the women before them and is controlling the way they behave ….

    Poor men, imagine how scary that must be for them – and yet still they persevere – brave heros!! LOL

    1. Skeptikem, I realize that this was largely a joke. But this is the kind of thing people hold up to show that feminists are man-haters.

      Look at it out of the context of humor and satire. It reduces men to rutting animals. It could be extremely offensive, especially to those men and teenage boys that are actually being respectful and considerate.

      Thanks for listening,


      1. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Ryan. The male supremacists are going to say that feminists are man-haters NO MATTER WHAT WE SAY.

        Self-censoring is not ever going to stop them from doing that. So please stop concern trolling and let us enjoy our humor. The misogynists will say all kinds of horrible things anyway in an attempt to shut us up; shutting up does not make them go away. In effect, you’re doing their work for them by preemptively trying to shut feminists up. So actually you’re acting as a misogynist would right here. It’s not helping. If you want to help, then stop trying to shut feminists up.

  13. I’m sorry.

    I have not been keeping up on this whole circus so I was unaware that my seemingly innocuous comment would cause such a reaction, which is certainly not what I intended. I’ll admit that from my position, I am having a hard time understanding how “feeding the trolls” doesn’t keep encouraging them. I’ve never gone through anything approaching what you are, not even so much as a Mabus spam. But I think I do understand–now–that your responses to people like Metzger do serve as a catharsis of sorts in addition to shining the light of public shame on them (insofar as those like Metzger are capable of feeling shame).

    I jumped into the middle of this without knowing the full story and extent of all the shit that’s been raining on you, and I should have been more informed. What I thought was good advice was inappropriate for your situation. So again, my apologies.

    And I sincerely hope that misogynists out there will grow up someday and learn a little respect for their fellow humans.

  14. I really want to thank all of you for speaking out about this. I’m a guy but my daughter is 12 and just starting to explore the online world.

    As parents we are constantly told to teach our children about internet safety but no where (until recently) were we warned about the violent hate our daughters would have to face from our sons.

    Thank you for making me aware of this, for preparing me to help her understand this horrible aspect of online life.

    I thank you, and I promise to continue to speak out against this.

  15. I think the take home here oughta be for the folks who think Rebecca is being “silly”: they’ve got a dude who tells domestic violence jokes on their side.

    Also, the more bullshit like this I read from dudes, the higher my standards get. Dudes like this are making it harder to ride this ride. Sayin’.

  16. What the fucking-fuck was with that insane rant? And when does the real comedian come on stage? That tired opening act was SO five months ago.

    You know what DOES make it easier for women comedians? Unfunny guys like that. Thanks, bro.

  17. I can’t believe this is still going on. I’m genuinely stunned that “guys, don’t do that” is STILL being taken as somehow the most horrifying, inappropriate, evil, misandrist, histrionic, castrating, feminazi diatribe of all time. Five months later, and men are STILL feeling so incredibly threatened that any woman would ever DARE point out that there are certain times and situations where being asked out might make us a bit uncomfortable that they need to post these little rants. Wow.

    Here, I’ll try to divert some attention:

    Twenty minutes ago, while walking to the pharmacy, a slightly creepy old guy following behind me whistled at me several times, until I turned around, and then he gave me this weird little wave. Guys, please don’t whistle at random much-younger girls you don’t know, after dark, when they’re alone, and you’re following them.

    Now I should be receiving five months worth of hate mail and a few hundred comments about how I ought to be raped, right? Because how incredibly horrible it is that anyone would ever suggest that certain behaviours make them uncomfortable!


    The “just ignore it” arguments mean less and less to me every time I hear them. Like I said a couple days ago about the Michigan bullying law, “Just ignore it” / “deal with it” / “don’t let it get to you” / “don’t let them win” stuff is always incredibly easy to say when you’re not the one who’s dealing with harassment. But it’s almost impossible when you are.

    Words can hurt. And a lot of the time, that’s EXACTLY what they’re designed to do. It doesn’t matter how much weight you end up investing in other people’s opinions, or how hard you try to “not let it affect you”, or how much respect you do or don’t have for whoever is harassing you, or any of that. It just doesn’t change things that much. The words can still get under your skin. And AT BEST they’ll still serve as a reminder of the amount of hatred and ignorance that’s out there.

    A few weeks ago, I had a run-in with a random gang-ish person (probably a dealer?) who decided he didn’t like me and was going to make sure I knew it. Amongst other things, his parting words as I finally got away from him were “nice titties, faggot!”.

    I honestly didn’t invest the slightest bit of actual weight in this guy’s opinion of me, or care at all what he thought of me. I know who I am, and the definitions other people may apply to my gender don’t change that. But those words cut. Deep. And there wasn’t really anything I could do about that… I wasn’t “letting” it hurt. It’s not like I WANTED to have my day ruined by this creep. But it was what it was… it happened, and it hurt. And beyond just that, it was a reminder of exactly where I stand in this world, the way that many people see me, that as a trans woman I count “less” and will always be vulnerable and a target, and a reminder of the kind of hatred that’s out there. And in a way, it carried the even scarier message of “be glad it’s just words this time.”

    I imagine the hate-mail and constant harassment of women bloggers, particularly more outspoken feminist ones, is very similar. Even if one knows that the trolls don’t really matter, and even if you don’t respect their opinions, and even if you know that it’s coming from their sense of fear, feeling, threatened their desire to cling to their privilege as much as possible while absolutely refusing to acknowledge it exists, the words can still cut. And they’re STILL reminders of what a woman’s opinion means in this world, how it is still considered threatening just to speak up, to say “Hey, we happen to be human beings, and we happen to have some thoughts about things, and we’d like to have a voice”. That one’s status is still less, that you’re not a blogger, you’re a FEMALE blogger, that you’re still being seen as a sexual being first and a thinking being second, that there are a lot of people out there who very badly want you to just shut up (and, if possible, look cute while doing so) and will use ridicule and threats and everything they can think of to see that happen. Maybe the opinions of the individual trolls might not mean much, but what it symbolizes, and what they, collectively, mean is pretty damn significant.

    “Just ignore it” sounds hollower and hollower to me every time I hear it.

    And even if we COULD ignore them, would we want to? Maybe this is something we need to talk about. Maybe we need to address this. Maybe this is a very important sign of how much misogyny still exists in our culture, and how much farther we need to go. Maybe the anger with which they’re trying to silence people like Laurie Penny or Rebecca is a sign that we’re talking about something important, and mustn’t be silent.

    I’m worried this is a bit rambly and I haven’t conveyed my thoughts very well, but… I’m just getting pretty frustrated with people talking about ignoring harassment from a vantage point of not having to have dealt with much of it. Specifically, perhaps, not having dealt with the kinds that are built around trying to silence or subjugate someone based on their identity… whether we’re talking about bullied LGBT kids or female bloggers getting death threats, the solution is NOT to just say the victim of the harassment should toughen up and get over it. What we need to do is look at these things, think about them, address them, and do everything BUT shut up about it.

    1. Natalie, it did seem a little rambly to me and obviously I cannot say whether I grok. I just wanted to say that does not make it bad. I read every word, some of them twice. And to the best of my recollection, I have never whistled at any person ‘in that way’.
      There are men out here who are embarrassed about what their lizard brain thinks sometimes. While we all may have a “nice tits” thought, some of us manage to keep the beast within at bay. I do hope our species evolves past at least some of this primal, lizard brain stimulus/response stage … sooner would be better.

      1. To be honest, I think that’s the first time in my entire adult life that anyone has ever whistled at me as a means of getting my attention. The more I think about it, it’s actually just really *weird*. I’ve been hit on by creepy old guys A LOT, but no whistling. Not until tonight, anyway.

        We all have sexual thoughts and instincts. There’s plenty of times where I notice cute guys. We all have lizard brains and always will. And that’s not really a bad thing, even. Lizards are cool! It’s just remembering all the rest of ourselves, our humanity, that’s what’s important. And also remembering the complexity and humanity of OTHERS as well. Even if our crotches want us to ignore everything about them but THEIR crotches.

        Part of how much creepy stuff I get from guys just has to do with where I live, though… I live in a pretty dodgy neighbourhood on the rougher end of a major metropolitan city. And I don’t have a car, which means lots of walking, public transit, and being around other people. I was talking with my friend Sonya once about how I couldn’t really *help* but become a committed feminist after transition once I started experiencing life as a woman and noticing how different things were, how differently I was treated, and having to deal with all the creepy advances and cat-calls and everything all the time. She was sort of surprised, and said she hadn’t really experienced any harassment at all, ever, even though she transitioned I think two years before me, and said that for her, life and how she was treated really wasn’t all that different. We’re also roughly the same age, we’re both kind of geeky and bespectacled, and neither one of us is noticeably prettier or more “passable” than the other (it’s actually kind of surprising how analogous we are, come to think of it…). But it seems like mostly it had to do with her living in a nicer area, out in Montreal, having a car, and just sort of not being around the same kinds of guys that I’m often around. So in the interest of fairness, it’s probably safe to say that I’m getting a somewhat skewed perspective on things. But on the other hand, how many women are living in the kinds of circumstances that Sonya has, and how many are living more similarly to my own?

        1. Environment has so much to do with one’s treatment. I totally agree. Online, I have much less headachy interactions with people on forums of sites like suicidegirls, racialicious, and skepchick than in comments sections of sites that don’t kick people off for racism, homophobia, etc.

          I’ve experienced plenty of street harassment since I was fifteen. Taking public transit and walking definitely increased the amount of harassment I experienced. Funny enough, once I started stripping I noticed that I dealt with harassment much more harshly and quickly, and walked away without feeling victimized or verbally violated as often. My thought process became “I’ll be damned if someone’s going to try talking to me like that when I’m off the clock.” Not only did stripping give me a different perspective on harassment (that when you are in control of it those words those men are saying have a totally different impact), but it made me less afraid of verbal conflict when I felt someone crossed a line. I had to discipline creeps/handsy idiots frequently enough that it became EASY.

          The thing is, most women are never in a position where men are sexually harassing them on THEIR TURF. A strip club, when run properly, is the dancer’s territory, where she enforces the rules with the help of staff if necessary, and the guys come in knowing that they need to behave or they’ll get kicked out. Wolf-whistles and “nice tits!” are acceptable in strip clubs because it’s a safe space for both dancers and customers to play out the “game” of picking each other up. But if customers cross the line, or act threatening, they get their asses booted/the cops get called.

          This is NOT the reality for most women. The bus driver isn’t going to boot someone off the bus for making you uncomfortable. The cops aren’t going to give a shit if someone’s following you demanding your number, asking where you live, etc. No one is going to be beaten up and kicked out of the street for grabbing your ass. This means most women experience harassment, whether online or in person, in an environment that makes it clear that their safety and comfort is not a priority.

          When I volunteered in a less fantastic neighborhood in MPLS I started getting more harassment, and it didn’t always end with me feeling great, but I never felt like I’d backed down when it had mattered. Some guys just don’t respect women, and nothing you say will change it, but “Would you want someone talking you your daughter/granddaughter/sister that way?” can sometimes shut them up.

          Overall, Kurt is a trollface, but one who expresses ideas that are far more common than people would like to think, especially those who say that feminism is no longer needed in our culture. Guys like him continue to contribute to the systemic silencing of voices pointing out privilege, and they need to be called out.

          1. To be clear, this:
            “The bus driver isn’t going to boot someone off the bus for making you uncomfortable. The cops aren’t going to give a shit if someone’s following you demanding your number, asking where you live, etc. No one is going to be beaten up and kicked out of the street for grabbing your ass.”

            is referring to when women are alone in these situations. Still, I think the point stands.

  18. I wonder what would happen if every person who insisted
    “just ignore it” or “it’s not that bad” would end up on an automatic forward for each and every example they’re advising about.

  19. Skeptikem, yer killink me!
    That is so perfect a description of womens life experience.

    The training starts early for boys to stand up for themselves and girls to tolerate abuse. It never stops.

    Trolls chumming the comments threads with ad feminem arguments is a very different thing from stalker doodz and rape threats and death threats.
    You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult to grasp, but clearly this asshat is willing to do whatever it takes to fail.

    Maybe it is considered a manly tradition now for men to threaten to kill women for voicing their objection to mens behavior in public. They have been doing it for hundreds of years.

  20. Rebecca, your grace and poise in the face of this abuse is simply awe-inspiring. I hope my daughters both grow up to be as strong as you are.

    And for what it’s worth, I want to thank you for all you’ve done to create this place on the internet where people like me can come and learn to be better human beings.

    1. Yes, this too!

      I knew there was something I was forgetting in my rant. :P

      Definitely one of the reasons I respect Rebecca and those like her so much is that they have the courage and strength to keep working and keep speaking and keep addressing these things and keep saying what needs to be said DESPITE all the hatred, trolls, hate-mail and ignorance, and DESPITE how much it must hurt, how hard it is to ignore, and how much strength it takes to keep facing it.

  21. Being a middle aged white male who is clueless, but at least has enough of a clue to know he has never experienced what it’s like to be a young, attractive (person?) female, I have not commented on this topic before. BUT…

    Here’s where I hope I don’t regret this, but I don’t see anything wrong with my position. I’d like to know if I’m way off.

    “Don’t feed the trolls” should *only* be used when someone is PURPOSEFULLY saying something they don’t actually think/feel/believe and are just trying to create a conflict where there isn’t one.

    [Personal opinion] This guy is “just trying to be funny” which is his Super Secret Passport that lets him say what he wants without consequence. In other words, he was being a jerk.

    1. I think it’s true, to a certain extent, that you shouldn’t “feed the trolls.” Some people make comments that are deliberately ridiculous or insincere and are only trying to get people to be react. The trolls that are doing it for the lols, that would say things that they themselves don’t actually believe… those aren’t really worth “feeding” (unless you are also in it for the lols, I suppose).

      I don’t think this guy is doing that. I think he probably believes what he is saying and I think that kind of thing is worth responding too.

    2. “[Personal opinion] This guy is “just trying to be funny” which is his Super Secret Passport that lets him say what he wants without consequence. In other words, he was being a jerk.”

      I’m betting that he’ll yelp something about “just joking” because he’s a comedian, right? That’s always an out for saying the most offensive shit ever, right? He’s a regular Carlin, Rock, a motherfuckin’ Bruce!

      …sadly, unlike these men, he forgot the part where the rant was supposed to be insightful and funny.

  22. I stay in a lot of hotels and travel in a lot of elevators. They are very helpful, what with their elevating properties and all. Sometimes, I am in an elevator with a woman. Just me and her. In this little, quiet, rumbly box. Actually, this happened this evening here in New York, just a couple of hours ago.

    And I thought to myself, “What would it be like right now if I asked this woman for a coffee”? I’ve pondered this many times in the months since Rebecca’s video managed to unlock the secret door into the mysterious fuck-head chamber of the personalities of a thousand commenters, and the answer is always: fucking weird.

    It would be really pretty fucking weird. No, not “deserving-of-arrest, definitely-a-rapist, just-as-bad-as-female-circumcision” kind of weird. But just about weird enough to justify, say… a comment. Y’know, the sort of comment you might make if you were, say, a video blogger who talks about life and skepticism from a woman’s perspective.

    I have been substantially depressed by the scale and tone of the subsequent brouhaha.

    Some advice, if you’ll forgive me, from someone who has, in the past, been rude to people on the internet, and also has been the subject of plenty of abuse:

    Just don’t be cruel to ANYONE, ever. On the internet, or in your life.

    Just imagine, as you sharpen your pen, that every man is your uncle or your brother, and that every woman is your mother or your sister. Just don’t spread vitriol. It’s not clever, it’s not funny, it doesn’t improve anything, it fails to educate, elucidate or encourage debate. It’s lazy. It’d be boring if it wasn’t so awful.

    Just stop. Breathe. Don’t be defensive. Think hard about what you think. Clarify your point of view in your head. Try to find a way to articulate it – if you still feel you must articulate it – in a manner that assumes the person you are addressing is an actual human.

    Preferably make it rhyme. Rhyming your anger seems to help, in my experience.

    Go on, I dare ya – go all fucking Gandhi on their arses. Even if you hate them. It’s a good feeling. Little glasses, sandals, chilling out and drinking chai. Trying not to have sex with your great niece. Lovely.

    You can experiment on me, if this post ignites your ire.

    1. Honestly, I don’t understand all the cruelty. What is it to anyone if I am asexual or fucking my neighbor or fat or thin or wearing glasses or have vagina dentata (if only!).

      I just don’t understand how it is in anyone’s best interest to be cruel.

    2. Parlance of the internet generation
      Targets rage and limits contemplation.

      Do not let it increase perspiration,
      for that path leads only to frustration.

      Should the need to engage overwhelm you,
      and the fury for your fellow man consume you,

      Then I prescribe a short term sedative
      Most commonly called masturbation.

      Rhyming Ghandi rage post in iambic pentameter!
      Suck it crotches.

    1. Oh gosh, why didn’t I heed your warning to not read the comments? My eyes are burning from the noxious stupid fumes.

    2. Ugh… Ima gonna go wash my brain now, that was painful to read.

      I wonder if this “fucking with people on the internet for lulz is ok beacause hay its the internet” meme is a generational thing. It’s us isn’t it… Its Generation X uncomfortably crawling into middle age and thrashing about without care for others because we’re the generation that thinks it invented irony.

      The next generation is going to grow up with the internet from childhood, if we keep up the social pressure to behave like civilized beings, maybe the next Rebecca Watson won’t have to put up with this shit.

      1. Yesterday I was interviewed by Jamila Bey (on record, link coming soon) in which we touched on this a little. She asked why this shit happens and doesn’t get called out, and I guessed that it has something to do with what most people tacitly assume is some unchangeable “Internet culture.” A lot of people’s response to this stuff is, “Oh, that’s just how it is on the Internet and if you can’t handle it, don’t be on the Internet.” And that’s wrong. That’s how it is now, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it.

        1. There’s also a little bit of macho to it as well. A lot of the people we see engaging in this behavior would never be in a position to act like this in real life. In fact they may very well have been on the receiving end of abuse for much of their life. Lashing out over the Internet can literally make their dick feel bigger.

          Not to give them too much credit, many of these people may very well be assholes without the help of the internet.

        2. I’ve heard that a lot too and it’s infuriating. “It’s the internet, what do you expect?” Luckily, there are enough of us who do get it and who have no problem telling them why they’re wrong.

        3. I am not entirely sure if this is a generational/cultural thing.

          Why? Bathroom stalls. This shit seems to constantly be perpetuated in bathrooms everywhere, even my university’s biology dept bathrooms are filled with racist and sexist comments. I do my part by turning swastikas into punnet squares.

          When it comes to how this shit happens, I would say it has more to do with that nature of the internet and the way our mind decides upon making certain choices under a veil of anonymity. I sort of have this large picture of how some of this stuff might go down.

          Nerds and geeks in schools teased. Social expectations are forced upon the two sexes. Men social stress is to ‘tough it up’ and either stick with what you do or wimp out. Thus the loners of the internet are born. The geeks, nerds, gamers were turned into social outcasts and eventually made it their identity, not giving a fuck who they pissed off, cause they were constantly pissed off as kids. I’m not really sure were the girl populations of geeks/nerds/gamers fall into this because 1) I am not a girl and 2) I can’t think of an explantion without it coming off as sexist. But from my experience in grade school, girls were in the majority group of the socialite/popular crowd, in which they wrote group/clique diaries in which they talked shit about other girls. It was like facebook before facebook. Anyways.

          So you have a group of people who grew up with the identity of social outcasts and have embraced it. ‘Fuck you, I dealt with it, grow up and suck it up’ But is this just a generational thing?

          I don’t really think so. I think its more of a mass cultural/societal thing. Enforced gender roles in the mass consumer culture of toys and what each sex ‘should’ aim to be. It will force these stubborn nerds into outcast roles, and because of the anonymity of the internet, they can vent their aggression free of any consequence.

          Also I have other ideas on how anti-violence/anti-bully policies have changed the internet. When they threaten kids with expulsion from fighting on the school yard, they take it to the internet and online gaming. Its the new form of male-male competition. Its how you show how big your e-peen is before you realize that e-peen means absolutely nothing. And when girls wander into this male-male e-peen competitions… well.. the outcome is to be expected, which makes it even more difficult tackling these real sexist issues.

          How do you deal with a large group of people who were indoctrinated and forced into these social roles? Attacking them or trying to curtail their behavior seems pointless because you are only feeding the trolls or what not, and there will just be another generation of e-peen knights to take their place to continue their e-peen waving. fighting them head on, in my opinion, from experience, only enflames, personalizes and adds a whole bunch of emotion into the debate.

          so, when i say ‘don’t feed the trolls’, I am also usually trying to explain that these efforts, in my opinion, are futile. I am just a person who wants to see efficiency in tactics employed, and from my perspective, the enemy of this whole problem is our social structuring and the forced learning of gender roles. That is and should always be the enemy here. Not these people, who are just as much a victim of the gender learning machine as we all are.

          1. Only if there were a way to ‘reset’ socially learned behaviors when we became an adult. Cast away all that stupid conditioning shit we learned in out pupa phase and blossom into pretty little butterflies. maybe THIS is why they keep LSD illegal, they know the social strucutre of society would break down because everyone would just be crazy and there would be no order and all social learning would vanish

          1. Ah, my “damn straight” comment was in reply to Rebecca’s mention that the internet does not have to be this way.

            I’m very bad at threaded comments.

        4. Yep it’s just the way the internet is for women to receive hate speech.

          It was also “just the way the world is” that coloured people were expected to be lynched for larks, that Australian Aborigines were forcibly separated from their families because it was better for them to be “servants” to white people than brought up in their own culture.

          “just the way the internet is” is nothing more than an excuse for misogyny/racism/homophobia.

        5. Right. Where are we supposed to draw the line? “It’s public transit, what do you expect?” “You’re walking by yourself, what do you expect?” Are women who are bothered by sexual harassment supposed to avoid all areas where it can happen, or would it make more sense to try to change people’s attitudes and actions towards women? Replace women with any other minority group, and it still works.

  23. I like the bit where he gets so steamed up that he has to keep coming back and posting increasingly bitter monologues on his own status for several hours. What a great way to convince people that he’s a master of witty put-downs, rather than, say, insecure and worryingly obsessive.

    Ignoring bullies doesn’t work. Yes, they want to wind you up. But if they don’t get a reaction, most take it as permission to step up the harassment until they do. The only thing I’ve found to work is hitting back at them, hard and repeatedly until they stop. They really are cowards and can’t take what they dish out.

    Now, I don’t know the best way of fighting back against bullies over the Internet, but naming them and holding them up for public scorn seems like a pretty good idea. Bravo on doing exactly that.

  24. A memorable piece of dialogue from a forgettable movie; You’ve Got Mail:

    Joe Fox (Tom Hanks): [talking via email to “Shopgirl”] Do you ever feel you’ve become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora’s box of all the secret, hateful parts – your arrogance, your spite, your condescension – has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and moving on, you zing them? “Hello, it’s Mr Nasty.” I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about.
    Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan): [talking via email to “NY152”] No, I know what you mean, and I’m completely jealous. What happens to me when I’m provoked is that I get tongue-tied and my mind goes blank. Then, then I spend all night tossing and turning trying to figure out what I should have said. What should I have said, for example, to a bottom dweller who recently belittled my existence?
    [stops and thinks]
    Kathleen Kelly: Nothing. Even now, days later, I can’t figure it out.
    Joe Fox: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could pass all my zingers to you? And then I would never behave badly and you could behave badly all the time, and we’d both be happy. But then, on the other hand, I must warn you that when you finally have the pleasure of saying the thing you mean to say at the moment you mean to say it, remorse inevitably follows.

  25. Last week a guy on the street was making some inappropriate comments at me as I walked past. As it was daylight with plenty of people around and I felt safe, I stopped and told him that those sorts of comments were uninvited and scary and that he needed to stop. He looked surprised and I felt powerful in a situation where I otherwise would have felt shitty and powerless.

    The reason I was able to do this was a direct result of reading Skepchicks–including if not especially elevatorgate–realizing what a problem misogyny still is in the world and my own life, and deciding I’m not going to be silent in situations where I feel safe to speak up.

    You’ve helped one girl feel empowered. Please keep it up.

    1. You are AMAZING and if you’re ever in my neck of the woods (WI), I would like to buy you a beer. Or a martini. Or bubble tea. Anything. Good on you for your bravery!

  26. I generally don’t respond to my own hate mail, but this makes me rethink my position. I certainly get plenty, so I could spend all day every day answering it.

    And, man, being a comedian does NOT grant you the benefit of clergy when it comes to be an asshole. The notion that it does, that somehow the court jester really isn’t accountable for what he says, tends to enable all kinds of toxic shit in the name of “comedy.” There’s a reason I don’t like stand-up or most movie comedies these days.

    1. I agree, with the caveat that in an ideal world the jester’s job is to punch up and not down. Anything goes when critiquing the powerful. The comedian should always be on the side of the bullied, not the bullies. I take that seriously, I did stand up as an amateur for years and regrettably it is possible to make a liviing in the industry telling crummy jokes like metzgers to crowds of drunken businessmen who don’t know any better.
      They can’t all be Lewis Black..

  27. The thing that jumped out at me was the comment that he specializes in “topical comedy”. So that means his humor is only for external application, but not to be taken internally, yes?

  28. I have to agree. The absolute best part of this whole controversy has been your exposure of the vile crap you receive by email, etc. More sunlight! (and cow bell)

  29. Started following your stuff around the same time as the original “Elevator Incident,” and have only just gotten around to commenting. Probably from disappointment, as I do really like “the zombie on that cartoon,” and hate it when entertainers I enjoy turn out to be douches.

    I write mostly because I had some mixed feelings about the elevator incident post. Perhaps me saying something will either illuminate the thoughts behind the above douche-move, or at the very least answer my remaining questions:
    On the one hand, it’s an undeniable fact that you were left feeling uncomfortable by the interaction. Regardless of any other details, you felt uncomfortable–there’s a ton of stuff that makes me feel uncomfortable that is probably even more rife for comedy. So, there is definitely something we guys should know to avoid.
    At the time, I was a left with mixed feelings about–in a way–making an example of this dude from the elevator. As a sometime socially awkward dude myself, I’d feel crappy enough about getting shot down, without then having the moment broadcast to the internet.

    It felt like something was missing. If that’s the wrong way to go about it, what’s the right way? I found myself coming back in the following weeks hoping for like, “the awkward dude’s guide to dating.” Without that “educational” component, it almost felt like a punishment that didn’t quite fit the crime–if you see what I’m saying. I am reminded of my mother’s trick for taking things from dogs and babies: if you take something (they shouldn’t have) away, give them something that’s OK for them. (I write that fully aware that I’m comparing myself to a dog or infant).

    I’m sure I’m not the only one: I may not get it, but I’m trying, and I want to understand.

    1. While I understand what you are saying it falls apart because “elevator guy” was anonymous.
      No extra punishment unless he is felling guilty that his faux pas started all this and he could resolve that by coming foreward so, no it doesn’t stand up. Sorry.

    2. I know what you mean, I had a similar problem when I first saw the post. The exact points of failure on the part of this guy were not evident to me, and I agree a bit more elaboration in the original video might have been helpful.

      In case it isn’t apparent yet, the right course of action for this dude would have a) not taken place in an elevator, but in a more public, safer space, b) wouldn’t have ignored Rebecca’s need for sleep, which were stated clearly, c) would have occurred if and only if Rebbecca had given some indication of similar desires.

      But those are three very specific mistakes, which came out of a broader ignorance: This guy was thinking “when is a good chance for me to proposition this woman,” not, “Is there a significant chance that this girl doesn’t want a proposition for sex?” He failed to consider her, basically.

      I used to fail to consider women too, and I’m glad that all this happened because now I don’t. Incidentally, my romantic life got much better once I started thinking about women as people and not goals.

      Did I miss anything/get anything wrong?

      1. Sounds like you want a cookie. You won’t get one from me. You need to go back and re-read the original post and all subsequent comments. That is, if it’s worth your time and energy to ‘really understand’- you obviously don’t.

  30. Go Rebecca.
    You don’t beat the trolls by ignoring them, you drag them out into public and make an example.
    The point is to inform the public, and this is how you do that.

  31. I want to talk about my personal experience following your video about being propositioned in an elevator.

    At the time I saw the video, I was (and still am) very new to feminist thought, and very unaware of some of the effects of my own male privilege. My reaction was bafflement. The actions of the man you described seemed to me embarrassingly incompetent as flirting, but not harmful or discriminatory. It sounded like the sort of clumsy play I’d made on occasion. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was supposed to not do, as a guy. I’m sure you’ve heard similar thoughts described before, probably in all caps, so I won’t elaborate.

    But still, I wanted to understand, so I googled “rebecca watson elevator” and read everything that came up. I spent hours reading about it from various perspectives, and I spent days processing all I had read.

    During this process and since, I have learned a lot about what male attention can mean to a woman, and about the many things I had disregarded in previous interactions with women. Among many other things, I understand better now that sexual overtures are not always flattering, that isolated spaces like elevators can imply threats, that ignoring a woman’s desire for immediate sleep is not opportunistic, it’s seriously rude. As I type, I’m amazed that I was ever unaware of these things, but that’s how it was just a few months ago.

    One of the hardest things about being a man who really really wants gender equality is that so many big problems are completely invisible to me. For helping me see a few of these problems, and for giving me a chance to correct my own flaws, thank you. Also, thanks for being so nice about it (“guys, don’t do that” = sheer class), and thanks for introducing me to some of my now-favorite blogs, including your own.

    I love Skepchick and I loved watching your Skepticon videos. Keep up the good work!


  32. I can’t be the only person who starts humming Hakuna Matata every time I see the phrase vagina dentata…

  33. I agree that informing the public, and speaking one’s mind is necessary for social change. Seems like a no-brainer, really. This, along with peaceful protest is effective. We saw this through MLK, Ghandi, etc.

    I, personally, do my best to make indie films that have something meaningful to say about many of the contemporary views/open-minded topics that are discussed on Skepchick. But I, along with many others, have very little power/authority/prestige with which to transmit the right ideas on a wider scale. As such, forums and seminars are hugely important to particular social groups.

    Wow. I can’t get over the “shitty college feminism” comment. Is this in opposition to “really cool college feminism?” If so, where can I get the some of that? I want the appropriate version of feminism, after all. And this guy sounds like just the right kind of asshole to tell me all about it. I so don’t want to be an uncool feminist, fighting for equality. I’d rather be the socially acceptable kind. Maybe the quiet kind–they get so much done.

    Hmm. This also makes me wonder where the hell this guy went to college? I can’t find this info anywhere on the web. I looked extensively but apparently I’m not just bad at being a feminist because of my shitty education–I’m also terrible at research. How the hell did I get into one of the nation’s most selective colleges?

    1. Well here’s an interview with this douchnozzle from July in which he pisses and moans about, comedians who give thier friends work, comedians who put out a CD before they are in the business “long enough”, the term “alternative comedy”, comedians who work anywhere but LA or New York, and basically any comedian who he does not name drop or isn’t him.

      Plus women, he has advice for what women will fuck you ,I’m sure you’ll be interested, and my favorite is the final paragraph;

      Sometimes, I’ll get emotionally attached to a job for the money before I even got the job. And I’m like, ‘I can’t fuck this up, I need this money. And that’s the kiss of death for me. And I already failed, right then and there. Even 13 years in I will still make that mistake. It’s like a girl you want to fuck; you want it too badly and she doesn’t want to fuck you. It happens to me like that every time. I get this shit by not caring. It’s just like trying to fuck a chick. You’re supposed to be aloof; and that policy gets me comedy-laid.

      Dat’s fuckin’ classy!

      This guy is so invested in not-giving-a-shit that he has to tell you over and over that he doesn’t give a shit. What a joke.

  34. Rebecca,

    I’ve been following this topic almost since the elevator incident. I am an active skeptic in our local skeptics group, and not only was I appalled by the reactions you received online, but also by the reactions from some of the skeptics I know personally and thought of as enlightened and rational people.

    It seems you unintentionally have put your finger on an important issue. We already knew it was an issue in society in general, but I think many of us thought that rational and critically thinking people were devoid of misogyny. I was mistaken, and you made me aware of this. I now get the opportunity—frequently—to discuss the topic and hopefully educate some of them as best I can.

    You have brought to light an issue amongst our own ranks that needs to be challenged. I’m sorry that you’ve had to endure a lot of shit because of it. But I can see you have the ovaries to take it! Keep it up, and know that there are many of us behind you and alongside you.


  35. Rebecca, I truly look up to you. You’re hilarious, intelligent, and tough as nails. I love that you don’t back down, even when things get tough. Rock on, sister, rock on.

  36. Wow, Rebecca. Wow. I found this site because of the whole Elevator thing. And, now I visit all the tiiiime. You’re the bee’s knees.

    I’ve never heard of this d00d, but wow, he sure is one big old steaming misogynist turd, isn’t he. Oh, yes he is.

  37. I started reading Skepchick after the Elevatorgate thing. So thank you all for a very enjoyable, insightful and occaisionally horrifying few months.

    Anyway, I don’t know if there’s other comments that have been blocked, but Mr Metzger gives the impression of a standup dying on his arse and refusing to admit it.

    This all reminds me of the recent controversy with Ricky Gervais and his “jokes” about Down Syndrome sufferers. Except, you know, I’m aware who Ricky Gervais is.

    Incidentally, based on Mr Metzger’s comments, I’d like to know if there’s any correlation between the MMR vaccine and vagina dentata. If so, I think the people should be told.

  38. My first thoughts are “I love you Rebecca!” I love you for speaking out. I love you for not backing down. I love you for being an intelligent geeky person. You have the traits I want in that special someone.

    BTW, that does NOT mean I am suggesting anything. ;P

    I just want to yell out how much I support you in this.

    I am not immune to the ‘lizard brain’, but I fully support the right of any woman to kick me or any man in the balls for ‘going over the line’. If I, or any man, does not learn from his first mistake it will be my, or his, fault for having ruptured balls… so say I.. ;)

    JD (41 year old weird ass computer geek…)

    1. And a man’s 0.02, as well. It is not Rebecca’s (or any other woman’s) job to police your behavior and punish you for ‘going over the line.’ That’s one of the major points of this entire discussion! Don’t be the creepy “elevator guy” who has to be told when his comments are unwanted and unwelcome. Have the decency to stay well back from the “line” so that there’s no danger of unintentionally crossing it! That you can even imagine the possibility that your behavior might induce a woman to want to kick you in the balls suggests to me that, deep down, you don’t really respect women at all.

      1. That’s a pretty good point, actually.

        We shouldn’t have to be spelling it out for anyone. It’s not about our right to “kick anyone in the balls”, it’s about not being put in these positions in the first place.

        Something I’ve begun to believe is that it’s not the responsibility of the disadvantaged party to educate the privileged about the nature of the oppression. It’s instead THEIR responsibility to educate themselves. I’m getting kind of tired of the “well you can’t expect us to know any better until you tell us!” thing. Not that that’s what jldunsmore was saying or anything, but just a thought that comes to mind… also in regards to some other comments earlier along the lines of “well what are we supposed to do INSTEAD of propositioning women in uncomfortable situations?” or “Please explain exactly how we’re supposed to behave in every situation, because this ‘respecting other human beings’ thing is too complicated”

    2. Agreeing with the others who say you’re kind of creepily missing the point here.

      Telling her she has traits you look for in that “special someone” and then rushing to assure her you don’t think SHE should be your “special someone”? Yeah. Don’t do that. No1curr what you’re looking for in a woman. And this is an especially inappropriate time and place to say something like that. (Sort of like, it’s never appropriate to pour kerosene on someone, but it’s especially inappropriate when they’re on fire.)

      Telling her you support your right to kick you (or any man) in the balls for crossing the line? Yeah. Don’t do that. First of all, I’m aghast that you think any human being has the right to harm any other human being for any reason other than self-defense; second of all, rather than “You have the right to retaliate if harassed”, you (and everyone else in the world) should be saying “You have the right NOT TO BE HARASSED”. Rebecca (and anyone else) should not HAVE to consider what they would do in response to harassment.

      Winky faces at the end of try-hard “I’m trying to impress you, look at me, look at me!” comments? Yeah, don’t do that.

      And finally, name, age, and self-deprecating reference to occupation at the end of your missive? This isn’t your eHarmony profile. Don’t do that.

      Okay, I think I’m done.

    3. Do you mean metaphorical ball-kicking?

      Assault and battery is not generally an appropriate response to inappropriate comments, and kicking men in the balls can very easily have long-term debilitating effects on them and their prospects for fathering a child, etc.

      The kick in the testicles is one of the ways in which violence towards men is discounted in our culture. It’s not only no big deal, it’s funny. You might as well say a man is entitled to punch a woman in the tits if she says the wrong thing.

  39. Something else I forgot to say:

    I kind of always disliked that show. And especially that character. NOW I KNOW WHY.

    Also the AuntySarah remark is great. Think I’ll have to go see Dr. Brassard while I’m in Montreal next week… ;)

  40. By offering you the option of a burka, he’s saying you should appreciate him for being a male in a society where men are so civilized. Why don’t you appreciate how awesome and civil men are? You don’t even have to wear a burka to keep from being raped or stoned, lucky!

    That sounds so familiar, I think I heard something similar a few months ago…

    At least Dawkins knew it wasn’t funny.

  41. I agree with you on almost all of this, but this is kind of a little thing (and a total derail):

    Burqas are just the head and face covers; he’s probably meaning the abaya. Abayas & burqas don’t actually prevent sexual assault, sexualization, or anything like that. They may reduce the public comments, etc., but they may not* do anything at all to reduce risk of rape, assault, or harassment. Regardless of the intent of the abaya & burqa (which are technically to prevent women from men), the risks of women in the nations these garments are typically worn don’t appear to be any less than women who dress in Western-style clothing. It just is more often that the assault is performed by those within their homes, or those in positions of authority over them.

    It’s kind of sad, actually, because many women prefer to wear them because it protects them from the public comments, but it doesn’t seem to protect them from the still evil attitude that women are property. It makes the women responsible for men’s sexual urges (if I don’t wear my abaya & burka, men will see my body and take advantage of it), and some women wear them so they are less visible (and therefore not interfering with men’s affairs) or are made to wear them by husbands to enforce his “possession”.

    I know many women still wear them for faith-based reasons, and I have respect for their strength, but I honestly feel that the scripture that instructs them is based on misogynistic, patriarchal ideas.

    *I’m having trouble finding studies, but I don’t believe the rape rate dramatically differs based on veiled v. unveiled.

    I hope I didn’t offend anyone with this, but it is something I just wanted to ensure it was mentioned.

    1. I beleive studies show the same in the US, in that what a woman wears has no correlation to rape chances. Most common clothing of a rape victim is basic jeans and a Tshirt. I need to track down that study and make sure I’m not talking out my ass, because I’ve been getting in talks about this with people lately. I can’t begin to count how often I’ve been told by another guy that some woman or girl is asking for it by the way they’re dressed. By guys of shockingly diverse ages and educations and creeds. And women too.

      1. “I can’t begin to count how often I’ve been told by another guy that some woman or girl is asking for it by the way they’re dressed.”

        If by “it” you mean “rape,” I can honestly say I’ve never heard anyone ever actually say that a woman was asking for “rape” because of the manner of her dress. And, I’ve been around a while.

  42. Not everyone who criticized you is a misogynist. Most of them are just ordinary people who pointed out the stupidity of confusing sexualization and sexual harassment. You fooled yourself into believing that you were harassed that night. Then you fooled yourself into thinking that Dawkins has nothing of value to say because he disagreed with you on one issue that is very important to you. That’s worthy of criticism.

    I don’t think Metzger’s criticism of you means that he wants “power over you” or for you to be silent. He actually made two good points that you didn’t seem to notice: 1) People are sexually attracted to one another. That’s sexualization, and there’s nothing wrong with it. 2) A guy who was attracted to you made an offer, you refused, and he didn’t get upset and harass you… There’s nothing wrong with that scenario. The guy was just being human. You seemed to be saying that he was wrong to voice his human desires because it made you feel uncomfortable. Guess what. You’re going to feel uncomfortable in social situations now and then. That’s part of life.

    Sexualization is not harassment. And criticism is not misogyny.

    1. The claim was NEVER made that what Elevator Guy did was sexual harassment.

      Nor was it EVER claimed that Dawkins “has nothing of value to say”.

      What you find “worthy of criticism” never actually happened.

      Criticism isn’t misogyny. But maybe not bothering to listen to what women have actually said, and instead just lashing out at what you’ve projected onto them and what you *expect* them to say, that may indeed be motivated by a misogynistic lack of respect for women, or lack of a willingness to actually listen to them.

      1. She complained about Elevator Guy’s behavior, so she believed he was doing something he shouldn’t have done. She believed he wronged her in some way. But sexualization is not something one should complain about. It’s natural and necessary. So she either believes that sexualization is wrong, or that EG was harassing her. Are there any alternatives?

        Using the wonderful powers of inference, we can conclude that Rebecca now believes that Dawkins has nothing of value to say. She said that she’s no longer giving him any more of her money or attention, she’s no longer giving out his materials (books, DVDs, etc.) to friends and family members as gifts, and she’s no longer attending his lectures or recommending that others do the same. This means she believes that everything he has ever said or will say is no longer worthy of her attention or the attention of her friends and family or the attention of Skepchick readers–she obviously won’t be posting any of Dawkins’ material in a positive light on this site. So yes, she believes he has nothing of value to say, all because of a disagreement on one issue. If you doubt that, go back and read her original criticism of Dawkins after Elevatorgate took place.

        1. Are there any other alternatives?

          Yes, there are. Your being too unimaginative to to understand what someone might mean beyond two wild extrapolations isn’t proof of your position. How about this: she was saying that the manner and situation in which EG propositioned her was threatening, inconsiderate and made her feel uncomfortable.

          You’re making an awful lot of assumptions. How about her saying she no longer wants to give Dawkins *her* money, and that she no longer wants to read his books means just that, and only that. It’s absurd to interpret that as some kind of call for a general boycott, or saying that “he has nothing of value to say”. She said absolutely nothing whatsoever about Dawkins worth, or what her friends, family or Skepchick readers should think of him.

          Again, how about you listen to what she actually said instead of projecting your own assumptions and hang-ups onto her?

          You can beat up your Straw Rebecca all you want, but it doesn’t make you right.

          Your first instinct, on reading what a woman has to say, should not be to tell her she’s wrong to say it and explain how she’s “supposed” to feel about propositions, sexualization, sexism, misogyny, whatever.

          1. “how about you listen to what she actually said instead of projecting your own assumptions and hang-ups onto her?”

            Is this not what some folks did to EG? Perhaps he really did just find her interesting and want to have coffee and talk more? Absent projecting assumptions on what “come up to my place for coffee” means in code, if we are to focus on what he “actually said” isn’t it rather tepid?

        2. Nonsense. Sexualization is not natural and necessary at all. You will not have sex with 99.99999% of the people in the world. The majority of your interactions with other human beings will not be sexual at all, and in fact, allowing sex to play a significant role in those interactions will screw them up.

          I manage to work all day with my colleagues and students and staff without ever sexualizing them. I can hang out and relax with friends in the evenings…no sex. It is simply bizarre to insist that sexuality has to be brought in to every single goddamn thing you do.

          And that’s precisely the problem. Women will often have other ideas about how they want to interact with you and other people, and they almost never involve sex. But somehow, egotistical jerkoffs think that every time a woman has a conversation it’s time to get their penis involved.

        3. You fail at inference, truly.

          What is it to you what Rebecca chooses to buy, talk about, listen to, or write about on her own damn blog? Instead of “inferring”, you could, I dunno, turn your brain on and consider that she gets to have that choice, whether you agree with it or not.

          She also gets to make her own mind about what happened, and has made that perfectly clear. Way to step in and try to dismiss what even other people have stepped up to share similar experiences as “being foolish” and try to tell her how she should feel. I’d ask for more of your brilliant insights about the issue (because why bother reading about the issue straight from the source, right?), but frankly, you’re just another in the line of dull ‘splainers.

        4. Yes, there are alternatives. She could have thought that what EG did/said was inappropriate, although not rising to the level of harassment or any sort of “wrong.” That’s the alternative I’ve settled on after reading and listening to most everything RW has said or written about the “incident.”

          IN MY OPINION – which I reserve the right to be entitled to – I think EG’s statement was probably an amateurish come-on, which was rebuffed easily and he appears to have taken a quick “no” for an answer. Beyond that, it was nothing that ought to have disconcerted a reasonable, adult-age person. If it disconcerted RW, then so be it, only she knows what disconcerts her and she is entitled to feel whatever she feels.

          1. “Beyond that, it was nothing that ought to have disconcerted a reasonable, adult-age person.”

            This is really dismissive, and it’s spoken like a person who has the privilege of not having to be on guard whenever they’re alone with someone they don’t know in certain situations. Just because you personally wouldn’t feel threatened, annoyed, put off, or uncomfortable in a situation doesn’t mean those who WOULD are over-reacting or unreasonable.

  43. Rebecca, I have watched this unfold in my peripheral vision for several months now, and it has bothered me that there are so many insensitive people out there who just don’t care how you feel, and I don’t get how we arrived here, exactly. Watching the students rioting on the Penn State campus in favor of a man who made a HUGE mistake that affected the lives of many children because he didn’t speak up immediately, which ought to be a Federal crime all in itself IMHO, blows me away.

    Your situation is much the same, from what I see. Why can’t these people who attempt to ridicule and humiliate you just accept the fact that these are your feelings they are ignoring, and that you are entitled to those feelings? You are entitled to respect.

    I’m glad you spoke out. I’m glad others are, also. By speaking out, you (collectively) are saying that this is a pervasive problem and must be addressed. I commend you all!

    This ongoing conversation has made me think back on all the women I have known in my life that, through thoughtlessness on my part, I may have harmed in this way. It makes me unhappy that I may have contributed to this problem without knowing it. I will do my best to be more aware of this issue in the future.

    Thank you for that.

    I do ask of you (plural), though, that you keep in mind that not all of us are totally selfish or intend to harm you (emotionally or otherwise), or even realize that we have done something that might. We aren’t you, we aren’t female, and we haven’t experienced the things that you have. I won’t always know what is appropriate and what isn’t.

    A few years ago I learned that some women do not trust men with beards (I have sported a beard since 1973). I was not aware of that, and it surprised me. I have some understanding of why that may be the case, and I try to keep that in mind when I meet someone who doesn’t know me. However, before I knew that, it would have been grossly unfair to condemn me for something I said or did that offended a person simply because I had a beard.

    What I’m saying here is, while I will do my best to be kind and aware, I cannot know you and your experiences. So I ask for some awareness from you (again, plural) of who I am (or might be, since you don’t know me, either) and that my actions, those that might offend you, are not necessarily intended that way.

    It works both ways.

    1. Dude, you’re missing the point. Obviously we realize that not all dudes who are rude and inconsiderate are doing so out of malice. We’re not stupid.

      The point is that if you behave in ways that are pretty much identical the the way a maliciously sexist dude behaves, then you are not entitled to the benefit of the doubt. If you want to be treated like a person who means well, then it’s your responsibility to first observe genuine misogynists, observe how they act and what they say, and then DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. That makes it easy for us to tell the well-intentioned men apart from the assholes.

      If paying attention to how misogynists act and modifying your behavior so that you don’t resemble a misogynist is too much work for you, then you don’t get to demand being given the benefit of the doubt.

    2. Also, “some women don’t trust men with beards”? That sounds like complete bullshit, honestly.

      1. “A recent study in the Journal of Marketing Communications found that men with beards were deemed more credible than those who were clean-shaven. The study showed participants pictures of men endorsing certain products. In some photos, the men were clean-shaven. In others, the same men had beards. Participants thought the men with beards had greater expertise and were significantly more trustworthy when they were endorsing products like cell phones and toothpaste.

        But, oddly, men with beards were slightly less effective than smooth-cheeked fellows in underwear advertisements. Apparently we don’t want Zach Galifianakis selling us boxers.”

    3. You seem like a nice dude, but yah, it was a n00b thing you said just there.
      If you visit just about any blog about prejudice, you’ll see the words, “It is not my job to educate you!” Firstly, it’s annoying to have to repeat the basics a million times, and secondly, it compounds oppression by giving the marginalised group yet another responsibilty.

      I approached becoming an ally the same way I approached becoming a skeptic – by unlearning a bunch of biases and fallacies, and learning some general skills. Just like you didn’t sit learning a list of lies off by heart like “homeopathy, ESP, NLP, God…”, you don’t have to learn a list of sexist acts. Reading up a little will give you the general idea and it’s a much better plan than bumbling along, only learning when someone has the guts to confront you about your actions.

      Google is the best.

    1. Greg, I get a 404 on that link. However, I don’t see anything since yesterday, and at one point encountered an “under construction” message. Please post a follow-up comment when it gets better.

      Sorry for the inconvenience, but I’ve been assigned the task of fixing the Internet (yes, all of it), coincidently by a stand-up comic who actually has a sense of humor. (Uh-oh, it just occurs to me: I wonder if she was joking? What should I do with this list of 37 billion errors I’ve found so far, not to mention all the broken links, ill-formed HTML, etc?)

  44. I’d like some serious posts in regards to this. What if when people say ignore it, or don’t let it get to you, they are trying to stop this from happening.

    I wonder if there is some sort of psychological mechanism within the human mind when under the conditions of anonymity. So just a hypothesis brain-fart. If the streisand effect does apply to this issue, then wouldn’t it actually be beneficial to the victims to actually just ignore it? They may get momentary stress relief if they directly confront it, but what if they actually are making the problems worse by triggering this huge anonymous hate cascade.

    Its not like we have a computer that can monitor all of existence and examine every single persons reactions to online postings, but I still think we need to consider the possible outcomes of our actions when applied outside a viewpoint.

    On an individual level, I think that the venting is good and confronting problems is the way to go, but I am also of the opinion that attacking sexists/trolls doesn’t help the cause of lessening these problems. In the end, I feel it just serves to further create a gap between the two parties, making a greater divide between the two, enforcing the tribalistic behavior of us v them.

    1. The Streisand effect is when something is made public as a result of trying to hide it. I don’t think it relates here, nobody is trying to hide anything here- quite the opposite. And is it good to expose it? Yes yes yes yes yes. Its not just venting, it’s exposing there is a problem to people who might not realize there is one, or how bad it is. Not to mention, as Rebecca already did, just not letting people think they can act like this and not get called out on it. I think it’s strange you refer to it as “attacking sexists/trolls”. She is the one on the attack? For defending herself?
      I wasn’t exactly the coolest kid, and I got picked on. I ignored it and acted like it didn’t bother me and it always got me out of a situation quick and never escalated it. Good and easy for me. But it added absolutely nothing to solving the larger problem of bullying, and I even bullied people myself later. I applaud Rebecca for bringing attention to the original incident, and sticking with it after it exploded beyond the tone of her original comment. Problems don’t get solved by ignoring them, the first step is to bring them into the light.

  45. I would only suggest that “people” speak out and not just “more women,” and that the speaking out ought to be about anyone being harassed, not just women. This sort of thing – being called a cunt, asshole, or whatever, is directed no less at men than at women.

    Other than that – yes, of course, people shouldn’t be sending other people harassing or threatening emails, and if a person says, “I don’t want X…” then continuing to suggest “X” is at a minimum in poor taste, and could rise to the level of harassment, depending on the facts and circumstances.

  46. Sexualization of people does indeed seem to be natural, at least based on what I understand the definition of that word to be.

    Sexualize: To render sexual; to imbue with sexual characteristics.

    I mean – people are sexual beings, with sexual characteristics, and if one views another person as such, I fail to see how it would not be natural.

    I think “sexualize” is generally supposed to be used in the situation when we take a non-sexual object and make it sexual – like carrot or something. Or, the way some people “sexualize” feet or hands – parts that aren’t really sexual and are then “sexualized.”

    A person, however, is sexual already, assuming there are sex organs attached.

    1. I’m not sure it’s as cut and dried as that, after all female breasts are highly sexualized but have no sexual function (beyond that of any other non-sex-organ part) they are there primarily to feed the offspring.

      What constitutes a sexual characteristic changes according to time, culture, personal preference, etc. which would suggest at least some cultural components as well as “natural” ones.

      1. Except that many women derive sexual pleasure from their breasts, and from sexual activity with their breasts. They don’t have “reproductive” function, but they most certainly do have “sexual” function, much like anuses sometimes do.

          1. Maybe so. I don’t deny that male nipples have sensitivity in that area. That doesn’t change the fact that women’s breasts and nipples are also sources of sexual pleasure for women. I wasn’t making any sort of comparison or attempt to designate male nipples or female nipples as better or worse or more/less sensitive than the other. I was merely countering the idea that female breasts have “no” sexual function. My point was that they do have a sexual function because women themselves often derive sexual pleasure from them. While they may not have a reproductive function in terms of being necessary for sexual reproduction, they do have a sexual function in terms of sex itself. Anuses also don’t have a sexual reproduction function, but they are very much sexual (in both men and women).

  47. Do you sexualize cats? They are sexual beings. Or do you see them as cats and their sex is beside the point unless you are adopting one.
    If you are incapable of viewing a woman as a people, which you have displayed in both your comments, you are sexualizing women.

    romulus “This sort of thing – being called a cunt, asshole, or whatever, is directed no less at men than at women.”
    You are flat wrong. A simple google search on the subject will demonstrate to you the error of this well worn generally applied falsehood.
    But by all means, do call out the people, mostly men, who verbally abuse people. Speak up, speak out. Failure to object is perceived as acquiescence by both trolls and bystanders.

    1. I’d respond to your comment, but you appear unable to hold a discussion without personally attacking someone with whom you disagree. I will refrain from stooping to your level. Thank you.

        1. I agree, the bewilderness did engage in derailing, as well as a personal attack upon me. That link is excellent, as it gives a nice shorthand name to what bewilderness did. Much obliged!

          1. Hmm doesn’t seem to be a derailing technique labelled purposely misunderstand the post criticising you to turn it around :-)

            Not sure why Romulus took umbrage with thebewilderness, no obvious personal attacks in the post. Unless he/she is a cat and did not like being sexualised.

            Romulus is right that woman are sexual beings as are we all, hopefully. Context seems to be missing – would Romulus sexualise pubescent but under-age children? Hopefully not as while they are certainly sexual, underage girls and boys can create babies, it’s not culturally or morally acceptable to see them in a sexual way in any circumstances. Same applies to the unwanted come on, it was not appropriate to sexualise someone in those circumstances, or treat them in a sexual manner (If he was). If Romulus goes around seeing people in a sexual manner all the while it must be very tiring and extremely disappointing given the proportion likely to reciprocate (No insult intended).

            Of course its not always easy to not sexualise and I disagree with PZ Myers post saying its “egotistical jerkoffs” who make this mistake when women talk to them. I myself was at the checkout earlier and a very nice young woman on there made small talk and gave me a nice smile. I was not really concentrating and found myself starting to think, hey she’s nice and before I knew it she was well and truly sexualised (Romulus defn. ‘imbue with sexual characteristics’ – I certainly noticed them when I hadn’t before!). Then my thought processes were ‘duh, she’s half your age, you are married and she is told to be nice to the customers you twat’… But for a minute I made the error (?) of sexualising her whereas normally having to interact with checkout staff of any gender usually just imbues me with annoyance (I’m miserable in shops) – frankly she was very attractive and it brightened up my day for a moment until I realised I’m no longer a teenager :-)

  48. UGHHHH!!!! I hate myself because I can’t stop reading about this stupid elevator thing. When will it just die. What a sensational train wreck. At this point it grinds my gears almost as much as homeschooling wack-a-dos that don’t believe in immunizations for their kids and bad Obama impersonations by Rush Limbaugh. Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick the whole world is on fire and I’m intellectually “getting off” on a story about a feminist getting hit on in an elevator. I hate myself.

  49. What Kurt’s trying to say is, “I love you.”

    Or wait, maybe that was me…I love the “You’re fucking insane” line.

    Are there “Rebecca is my hero.” tee shirts available yet?

  50. Kurt Metzger is a moron. 
    Newsflash:  BEING PROPOSITIONED BY A STRANGER IS CREEPY!!!  Guys, don't do that.
    Wow, I sure am late to this debate.  LOL!

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