"What do women want?" Sigmund Freud once famously asked. Aretha Franklin answered him just as famously: "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!"
If you haven't been keeping up with the current online eruption surrounding Elevatorgate — and I suspect most of you have at least heard about it, as Skepchick and Pharyngula are just slightly more widely read than our little blog — I will just direct you to those sites for the full-immersion experience. But to recap, here are the main bullet points...
Rebecca Watson of Skepchick fame attends a conference overseas. Gets hit on by clueless doof in the hotel elevator at 4 AM, brushes him off. Mentions the incident in her talk, as well as online, saying, in effect, "Hey guys, don't do stuff like that, thanks."
This being the Internet, the situation Escalates into full-on web drama. Loser guys with same sense of clueless entitlement blow Rebecca's reaction all out of proportion, make her out to be stick-up-the-ass prude who pilloried some poor Nice Guy for the ghastly crime of asking her for coffee. Larger group of Rebecca defenders jump in, including PZ, Jen at Blag Hag, and many others, chiding the guys for not getting it and pointing to a very real problem of acculturated sexism that infects the skeptical/atheist community just as it does the wide world.
Then, out of the blue, Rebecca gets a "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" note from no less a luminary than Richard Dawkins, the boneheadedness of which stupefies everyone (except, of course, the clueless doof brigade). Short version: in a world in which women are undergoing such horrors as genital mutilation and death by stoning, any chick who has nothing more to complain about than an unwelcome pass in an elevator is clearly a petulant whiner. Seriously.
Understandably incensed — I mean, way to miss the point, Prof! — Rebecca publicly chastises and disowns Dawkins. And now, it appears the godless Internet is splitting into Team Rebecca and Team Richard camps.
From such pebbles do avalanches begin.
I will make my position so clear even a gerbil with dyslexia should be able to get it, because this is the Internet, and it appears one's words can be wildly misunderstood and misrepresented here. (Who knew?) In six words: Dawkins is wrong, Rebecca is right. Dawkins' point — which is fundamentally no different than telling atheists that in a world where the godless are burned at the stake, we're being kind of petty to complain about "little" things like God in the Pledge or creationism in the classroom — is simply wrong. He's as wrong as a wrong thing with the word wrong written on it by someone who can't spell.
Now, TAM9 is coming up, and I am concerned that the backwash from all this is going to cast an ugly pall over a convention that ought to be the community's annual high point. It isn't that Rebecca and her supporters (hello, I am one) aren't justified in their anger. They are. But...
The whole "throwing Dawkins under the bus" thing is, I think, unproductive. We are rationalists. We pride ourselves on our capacity for reason, which we boast of having more of than anyone else. So what do we do about this? Do we employ our reason, and turn this event into the teachable moment it needs to be? After all, Dawkins wrote TGD, in his words, in the interest of "raising consciousness." Clearly, acculturated sexism is a matter about which Dawkins desperately needs his consciousness raised. Will we give him the chance to do this? After all, the man's achievements over the last decade in the service of promoting atheism and reason — culminating in both topics today being suitable for bestselling books, rather than shameful topics you just cannot mention in polite society — are considerable, and the debt atheists worldwide owe him is incalculable. I am simply acknowledging a fact, not putting the man on a pedestal or anything. He's done a lot, and that deserves recognition.
So how do we pay him back for this? Do we say, "You helped us gain stature and credibility. Now you apparently need our help, getting over some ideas of privilege you seem to have a problem with. Here. This is why you are wrong. Please think about these things and man up to your mistake." This, is seems to me, is the path of rationality.
Or, do we abandon rationality, give ourselves over to emotion, anger and ego, and circle the wagons around the sense of righteousness gained from believing that we've taken the right side of a split? (Note: I do not accuse Rebecca of this, as she's responding to a personal insult and has every right to respond as she chooses. But I think such a thing would be the case if skeptics en masse did so.) I can think of nothing that would disappoint me more than to witness the drama of a mass walkout of Dawkins' speech at TAM. I would understand it, but I'd wish a path had been taken towards allowing this conflict to be something the godless community saw as an opportunity for education and problem solving, rather than digging in trenches.
Attitudes of sexism and male entitlement do exist among those of us who consider ourselves rationalists. You should see some of the fratboy bullshit that pops up in the chat room when either Jen or Tracie are on the show. It's like, WTF? Who are you people?
I know that I myself had to unlearn a lot of my own acculturation, and I am equally sure I'd get a "Needs Improvement" grade on my efforts even today. But I know that when I was younger, less secure and a bit more arrogant, I reacted poorly to rejection in ways that I can only now, years later, understand were wrong and, yeah, pretty damned creepy. I had to outgrow feeling sexually entitled, just like I had to outgrow homophobia. My perceived loneliness and need to dip my wick was not, I had to learn, any woman's problem to solve. There is so much about my 20-24 year old self that embarrasses me to remember.
But I learned, and am still learning, and I want those who still need to learn — even if they are 70-year-old celebrity scientists — to be able to do so. It's harder to change your attitudes as you get older, as you get set in your ways. But I think it can still be done.
For the most part, I do see an effort to correct and educate Dawkins has been made. Dawkins has asked to be led to understanding of where he is wrong, even if, as far as I could tell, he may still not yet get it.
What I want to happen out of this is consciousness-raising. Will TAM9 be the event that helps that occur, or that divides us further? I guess we will see.
Book a room on a low floor and take the stairs.ReplyDelete
This entire thing is a waste of time. No one was in the elevator to corroborate the story so no one can say if he was just some shy awkward guy being perfectly polite or if he was Ted Bundy jr. Rebecca could be over-reacting or she could be spot on, we'll never know. Dawkins shouldn't have weighed in. Let's move on to actual topics of importance.ReplyDelete
Well, Rebecca made it abundantly clear he wasn't Bundyish, just inappropriate, and all she basically said was that it's generally not advisable to proposition a chick in an elevator at 4 AM. She didn't start the drama about this, it was everyone else who launched the torrent of responses on blogs that turned it into the drama that's now casting a pall over the whole community.ReplyDelete
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I haven't lost any respect for Dawkins. His body of work is as excellent and helpful as it ever was. His stances on many issues have brought about important changes.ReplyDelete
I never expected him, or anyone, to agree with my every opinion or point of view. I never expected him or anyone to not have (what I consider to be) flaws. I think I'm right on this issue (I'm with Rebecca and Martin), so I hope that Dawkins may eventually agree with me. But, I don't expect anyone to do that 100%.
So, no problem here. I'd certainly not boycott him! His work has been so valuable, has liberated a lot of people, and his future work is likely to be also.
Besides, it's terribly difficult to envision someone else's experience when you've never experienced anything remotely like that. And when, you are so far from thinking of or doing anything "creepy" that it's really hard to understand that others would.
When I am in conflict with a friend or family member I go out of the way to: 1 maintain the moral high ground; 2 maintain the relationship; 3 do not make the situation worse; all while trying to resolve the dispute.ReplyDelete
Well, Carlos, I can't wholly agree. I think that the sexist, or whatever, part is that it was an example of the kind of unpleasant experiences that can put women off from going to secular meetings. If a woman has enough such experiences, she'll just not go, she's got less frustrating and more worthwhile, hassle-free, things to do.ReplyDelete
It's kind of sexist in that men don't usually have to put up with such unpleasant experiences at secular meetings, so there's no similar discouragement to go.
I do agree with the rest of your post.
Some people have tried to raise his consciousness, but it's proving difficult. I'm optimistic that there may be some chance to do this at TAM9, but I'm not holding my breath.
I still respect and appreciate Dawkins, I just don't respect or appreciate him on this subject - just as I don't respect or appreciate some of Hitchens' political views or the watered-down skepticism that is frequently preached from the lectern at TAM.
I'm hoping that this TAM is a great experience for everyone there and considering the trend of not only ignoring members of the skeptical community who are fairly wrongheaded, but actively encouraging attendees to avoid pointing this out...I'm fairly confident that this won't have a huge impact on TAM.
But...you get to give us all daily reports, right?! :)
@h8uall Rebecca's response was "Hey guys, don't do that." I don't know how that could be an over-reaction to anything. Secondly, I don't think the story even *needs* to be true. Let's treat it like a hypothetical. It's weeded out what people really think about men and women and appropriate social interaction. It's made some show their true colors and this is where the major contention lies. It's showing there is still a lot of sexism that the movement needs to deal with. And since I've seen it before I will clarify before somebody misreads: The reaction to Rebecca has been misogynistic and sexist. Filled with strawmen, hatred and condescension.ReplyDelete
Matt: Yeah, I'll be Jimmy Olsening the thing, just for you. :-)ReplyDelete
Carlos: No, she wasn't the one who blew it out of proportion. Seriously. Here are her exact remarks on the incident:
Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don't do that. You know, I don't really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I'll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and—don't invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.
There is no way any sensible person can describe that as an excessive reaction. Again, it's attitudes like you're expressing — that you just can't see why it's such a big deal — that come from the male privilege perspective you keep hearing about. In other words, when you're not the one on the receiving end of an unwelcome sexual advance, it's hard to put yourself in the person's shoes and see why it's a big deal to them. It's not that the guy who hit on her is misogynist (it's the reactions of those attacking Rebecca who qualify in that category). But it was just inappropriate. And that's all she said. And it would have been the end of the story...had the Entitled Doof Brigade not gotten its panties bunched.
Anyway, here is some consciousness raising, in the form of what you might call an inconvenient truth.
Carlos...you should have just stopped after: "I can completely understand why Rebecca would feel threatened"ReplyDelete
...instead of going on to demonstrate that you still don't get it, by writing, "Please, stop treating half of the human species as a dangerous potential rapist, it's ridiculous."
Rebecca did no such thing.
There's constant conversation about the fact that women are generally underrepresented in atheist/skeptic groups and events. One of the big questions we keep hearing is "why?" and there are many reasons.
The elevator incident is an example of one of the reasons why this disparity may exist - so it's entirely valid to raise this and say "This is creepy, please don't do this...it's contributing to the diversity issues."
This should be required reading: https://sindeloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/37/
I think we are missing the point here.ReplyDelete
Dawkins is the Pope of atheism.
Remember that it is stated on our atheism club membership cards that we must follow him blindly and never disagree with a word that comes from his mouth. For he is infalible in all matters
"... the boneheadedness of which stupefies everyone (except, of course, the clueless doof brigade"ReplyDelete
Disagree with your point and the person who disagrees is a clueless doof? That's real rational, Martin.
There are those of us who do disagree with your point and we aren't all clueless, we just see it from a different point of view.
It was pointless for Rebecca to even bring the incident up in the first place since by her own admission she was nothing more than offended. Big deal, girl? WHO CARES??? I'm offended at least 3 times a day before breakfast and I'm not on the internet making a big deal of it. Walk it off already!!
I come here to the atheist blogosphere in general to read about...oh...I dunno...maybe some ATHEIST topics, not this blown out of proportion non-drama. The only people keeping this going are the ones with nothing better to do than drum up the drama. How can you really be worried about TAM being negatively affected if you're participating in the drama that might affect it negatively?
The best thing to do to stop the drama is to simply stop perpetuating the drama by bringing it up every 5 minutes. Nothing happened, it's a non issue.
Thanks for that link Matt. Makes a bit more sense now.ReplyDelete
I'm lost. This is the first I've heard of this. A guy had the steely nerve to proposition someone he was attracted to? OH NOES! He must be a "clueless doof" Such sexism!ReplyDelete
I've been propositioned. I never thought the person sexist for doing so or felt the need to mention it publicly.
Thanks for posting, Martin.ReplyDelete
Your sober precis is a welcome palliative to the distinctly Two Minute Hate atmosphere coalescing amongst some of our fellows on BOTH sides of this contretemps.
Can I join Team Neither? ;)
This is the first I've heard about this, and this post is all I've read about it.ReplyDelete
I like Dawkins, though what I've seen of him, he is slow to think and a horrible debater, often having to edit his documentaries with speech overs in response to people.
None the less I think he is brilliant. But even brilliant people can be completely wrong.
From the vibe I get from this post it seems he is saying "Don't complain because women elsewhere have it much worse" and to me that's like saying "Don't be happy because people elsewhere are happier."
Initially Rebecca's comments in her video were measured and reasonable. The reaction to these comments has been anything but reasonable; on both sides of the argument. People need to calm the fuck down and realize that both sides have valid points. The way this whole debate is playing out is making me really sad.ReplyDelete
The guy who asked Rebecca in the elevator was probably a little tactless and could have chosen a better time/way to flirt with someone he admires. Rebecca's response to this was reasonable. She didn't scream rape, she didn't call him a sexual predator, she just suggested to men that this isn't the best way to come on to a woman and that it can be a little creepy. I think this is a wildly uncontroversial statement.
This is where the internet got a hold of it and things got stupid. Suddenly atheists are standing across the aisle from each other, one side yelling "RAPE APOLOGISTS!", the other yelling "CRAZY RANTING FEMINAZIS!" This is ludicrous. It is not evident from anything that Rebecca has said that the man did anything more inappropriate than asking a woman out (with implied sexual intentions), and it is also clear that Rebecca did not berate him as a sexual deviant. It is the rest of the internet that has taken this story and ran.
Let's handle this situation reasonably. Rebecca asking men to be more considerate of women's feelings is reasonable. Men asking not to be considered misogynistic sexual predator's when clumsily attempting to flirt with a girl is also reasonable. Calling every woman who asks for respect a feminazi is not reasonable. Calling every man who thinks it's a bit hyperbolic to call this elevator encounter a terrible example of male privilege in the atheist movement a misogynist ass who doesn't "get it" is unreasonable.
Can we please handle this like the rational adults we claim to be?
Hannanibal: That whole "I just don't understand why something that doesn't offend ME should offend YOU" thing? That's that "privilege" you keep hearing about.ReplyDelete
Best response ever.
Holy crap Martin. You seem to be the first person to articulate this. *virtual high five*ReplyDelete
I agree with you entirely on this. "let's throw him out" and "he is pretending to be rational" are such Bull that it's really starting to infuriate me.
As for Rebecca, well, I think she did everything correctly, up until she decided it was time to tell everyone she would no longer accept Dawkins books. Where was she when hitchens said "women can't be funny"? Why is she still pimping his books? To me, it's just an emotional response to this, and not a rational one. It's ok, she is human too, she can make mistakes. (that is, I'm saying she handled it all ok, including talking about it later.)
Speaking of TAM, remember "don't be a dick"? Read some of the responses to any counter argument, even wrong arguments, and you have great examples of "how to be a dick". Seriously, the same people who declare everyone should be polite are the same ones screaming that everyone who disagrees is a mysoginist. It's like calling someone with children a baby eater. It's not just offensive, it's repugnant. And it's not how you change minds but cause rifts. Pz made a great post about "what you should do". That's productive. Phil Plait made a post just calling Dawkins a horrible person and declaring that he doesn't "get it", without even attempting to explain "it"; that is counter productive.
It's ok, not everyone is always a good skeptic. Dawkins is still one of us, even if he is wrong (little wrong, not capital wrong). Is it ok to throw in with both?
And BSkrilla, I think I love you man.
Martin. Ahhhh.... So he should have been aware of the massive offence he was causing by propositioning someone he was attracted to. I forgot we were living in the Victorian times. Whatever next? Complimenting her outfit? He asked her, he was rebuked. Surely that's end of?ReplyDelete
By the way, do you have the other side of this story? From the guy in the elevator? The guy who probably doesn't have access to a microphone and audience or a very popular blog? Not being sarcastic I just want to know.
Wow, this is perhaps the most clear and rational post on this I have read yet. Go you!ReplyDelete
Carlos, you're off the hook. You were just well-meaning and a little sloppy.ReplyDelete
hannanibal, on the other hand, is a properly clueless buffoon.
As long as people manage to discuss the topic without cutting off that discussion because the other side holds an apparent atrocious viewpoint, we'll be all set.ReplyDelete
Just because a person doesn't hold an informed position now doesn't mean they won't. Like talking to some theists, the key is to keep talking until that person is convinced, or vice versa.
Hannanibal: Dude, it was 4 o'clock in the freaking morning, in an elevator, in a strange town, and he was a stranger. If you can't see why that environment might be one in which a woman might feel just a tad uncomfortable and nervous being hit on, instead of giving in to the wanton passion of the moment, then I am not sure how to explain it to you.ReplyDelete
His side of the story is irrelevant. In fact, it doesn't even matter if he exists and this is entirely fictional.
This sort of thing does happen, it's creepy and it's a problem that affects how likely women are to attend and participate in atheist/skeptic groups and events - and therefore it needs to be brought to people's attention.
And this is just a mild example of some of the things that discourage women from participating.
Your myopic, privileged oversimplifications demonstrate that you don't get it...my question is, do you even care to TRY to understand, or are you just going to keep up the mansplaining. If it's the latter, there's no need to post.
Ad hominen attack. Way to go Matt. No explanation eh just straight into the insults.ReplyDelete
I don't remember name calling anyone mate.
This "sense of privelege" I have because I don't find the act of propostioning offensive must be the same sense of privelege everyone who took part in Draw Muhhamed Day must also have. After all, as Martin said.....
"That whole "I just don't understand why something that doesn't offend ME should offend YOU" thing? That's that "privilege" you keep hearing about."
This is starting to remind me of the thread where the guy made the backhanded compliment to Jen.ReplyDelete
"Dude, the way you talk to women is creepy and inappropriate. Please stop."
"First, I demand that you prove to my thorough satisfaction why it is inappropriate."
I do have to say, I had no issue with Rebecca's initial calling attention to this. I can't imagine ever approaching a woman and asking her to my room like that. It was just creepy, as she said.ReplyDelete
Where I had issue with this was when she used her key note speech to call out Steph who had disagreed with her. The thing missed here, is that this issue was very minor until she did that. Once she used the bully pulpit, instead of keeping it in the blogs, it really seemed like she was being a bully. And that was the point where things just got out of control.
So I have no issue with her initial response, and even agree. However I think she abused the power she was given at that conference. And I think that set this off as the brouhaha it became.
Unfortunately that is really 2 separate issues, and much of the problems of this issue, has been in separating the two things.
@Hannanibal the proposition wasn't the awkward part. If it was just a random encounter at 4PM, I'm sure we wouldnt have heard from him. It wasn't. It was at 4AM in a private place (relatively). He wasn't a horrible person, just a bit awkward, likely drunk (who is up at 4 am and not drunk). There is room for nuance here.ReplyDelete
Matt, you are just attacking him now. Not cool. He is wrong, and is engaging, he will just shut down and we will have created a monster who is just angry. Calling him a buffoon, ignorant, etc, doesn't help.
It's not a trivial thing, nor found offensive only by the overly-sensitive.ReplyDelete
Rebecca was alone with a stranger, to whom she'd never spoken a word, at 4 AM when no one else is around, in a confined space that she couldn't get out of if he'd chosen to prevent her. He'd heard her say that she was exhausted and was going to sleep. He shows that he's possibly interest in sex.
R. has to read his mind and determine what his intent is: Is this innocent friendliness? Or, on the other end of the continuum, could he possibly be working his way up to some kind of violence or other unpleasantness? She really had no way of knowing, and so it's scary for a while there.
That's what was creepy. Not that a woman was propositioned, but that the situation was one which would have been dangerous should he have turned out to be thinking that kind of thing.
So, ride in elevators with the opposite sex, that's fine, go ahead and make advances, but consider the situation first.
And, I stopped attending scientifice conferences (my discipline is nearly all male), to the detriment of my career, because I just couldn't take these incidents anymore. It really is unpleasant, a hassle, sometimes offensive or scary (when they follow you out to your car at night).
You could shrug off one or two, but it was like, say, three such incidents a day for five straight days. It becomes not worth it to go.
The majority of secularists and scientists are not anything like that, wouldn't even think of it, but sadly, enough of them are like that to make it a problem.
So, just to understand that it is a real issue, that it does discourage the participation of women, and that good guys with the best of intent might sometimes do that sort of thing unwittingly.
Matt.I am trying to understand why you feel the need to blow this out of all proportion. I don't think it's that bad what he did. He was, in his own way, being social. Where should we draw the line eh? No flirting with any member of the opposite sex at atheist conventions? Or just ever? Or what? Come on, I understand you don't want to "scare" away any prospective female members but I think you're reactions the this are quite over the top.ReplyDelete
Is there some sort of Association of Internet Guys Who Just Don't Get It? Which passed out the pamphlet that hannanibal and about 500 other GWJDGI are copying from more or less word-for-word all over the 'Tubes?ReplyDelete
Martin "giving in to wanton passion",ReplyDelete
LOL. Mate, you need to get out more if you think propsitioning someone is giving in to wanton passion.
Pace Siggy F, sometimes a drunken pass is just a drunken pass. I understand where you are coming from but the way some precincts of the SkeptoSphere are turning Elevator Guy into a poster boy for Patriarchy and Privilege strikes me as crass gender-politics opportunism.
I enjoyed your 'required reading' link but it lost me in the home stretch.
Regarding the conclusion therein, I do not think I am obligated to listen to and believe people if I honestly think they are wrong.
I have a problem with the notion that mere membership in some real or imagined "non-Privilege" category gives anyone veto power over my sincere thoughts and feelings.
I do not imagine myself free from sexism, etc. but anyone accusing me of such must show their work rather than playing their minority or outlier status as some kind of trump card.
A woman rebuking me for chauvinism may well be right, but if she is it's not because or her sex, or mine.
Wow! This is the proverbial, a man build bridges, cure diseases, and also fights crime, no one remembers him, but suck one d**k and no one forgets him! Why does the one bad choice Dawkin's makes by belittling a situation all of sudden make him a person people are going to walk out on at TAM9? Seems crazy to over shadow all of his accomplishments!ReplyDelete
I personally don't understand why this is a big deal. This post is all I have to go on so I may be way off, or I just may be way off on the topic all together, if so please explain.ReplyDelete
A man asked a woman back to his place? She said no? That was the end of it?
If that was the case I don't get why it's a big deal. If she had said yes and they went and had sex would it still be a big deal? If it was a woman propositioning a man would it have been a big deal?
If he was pushy about it, then yeah it was fucking stupid of him since she was cornered in an elevator. But if he was just friendly and looking for a quick fuck, but as soon as she stated she wasn't interested he backed off.. I don't understand why that's a big deal.
Though I would like to understand if it is so yeah, let me know.
@hannanibal no, flirting is ok. Just, not in a parking garage while she is alone. It's not a wounded gazell that would make a good meal, it's a woman who has to want someone around her. I think that's the point that's getting lost. It's ok to communicate and be in the proximity of the opposite sex. It's not ok to do it in a way that can be overtly predatory. I'm sure you can agree to that.ReplyDelete
@hannanibal Let's try this angle. Would it get annoying/offensive/uncomfortable if everyday a person came up to you to strike an interesting conversation? You make jokes, you exchange ideas, you flirt maybe. I don't think this would be an issue.ReplyDelete
What if instead of conversation they proposition you for sex. Everyday at least one person came up to you and propositioned you for sex. No conversation, no introduction; just sex. Do you see why someone may not like that?
The problems with the elevator guy was many but this issue in particular is about what someone is saying about you with there actions. This guy didn't want to get to know her. He didn't want to give her the chance to know him. He saw her solely as someone he's willing to put his penis into and did what one would do to instigate that exchange.
Women deal with this all the time. It's making them (for good reason) uncomfortable and that's hurting the movement. I can't tell you where the line is drawn but don't get sucked into the fallacy that because there are no well defined lines that means anything goes. You would draw the line *somewhere* I try to draw where one can reasonably say the action would make someone feel uncomfortable and/or not seen as a whole being but desirable parts. We may disagree on where that line falls.
Hannanibal: given that she'd spent most of her public speaking time talking about how she and other women do not appreciate being sexualized and propositioned, and that he was present for those talks and was even using them as his jumping off point in saying he wanted to talk more in private, and given that she had specifically stated to those around that she was tired and wished to go to bed, yes. He should have realized that making a pass at her in an elevator at 4AM was a party foul.ReplyDelete
And her only response the next day was "Remember what I spent all yesterday saying not to do, guys. Someone did it right after I said all that. I would like to repeat: that's not cool."
You're going out of your way to defend him from an imaginary attack, which is exactly how this got blown out of proportion in the first place.
As I said on Pharyngula: THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE ELEVATOR GUY! This is about Rebecca blowing it out of proportion and blaming it on sexism, then having someone disagree with her on their blog saying "Yes, it was inappropriate, but I don't think we should be screaming 'sexism' at it," and then Rebecca going off in a presentation of hers on said dissenter and lumping her in with people calling for Rebecca to be raped, calling the dissenter out by name, where said dissenter was in attendance. Call out EG, fine, even by name if you want, but you shouldn't give someone a public dressing down in a situation where they are unable to respond where you lump them in with people calling for your rape, just because they said "maybe we shouldn't be blaming it on sexism."ReplyDelete
@Richard, in case you've missed the whole comment stream,it's the context (in an elevator, isolated at 4 in the morning) and the person (a stranger who propositioned for sex after she given a speech regarding feminism). She showed no mutual interest in him and being in such an isolated area at a time where most people are still asleep, there was potential danger given things like elevator rape (that PZ mentioned on his blog) that have and can occur. Thankfully she wasn't a victim to this, but given the circumstances, the advancement is inappropriate.ReplyDelete
@Richard it was an elevator at 4Am. It's unclear whether he heard her talk or not, but she doesn't like being "sexualized" like that. Im not entirely sure what that means, but I take it to mean "hit on when not wanted". In which case, yea, he was clearly not right. I wouldnt say wrong, but certainly not right.ReplyDelete
I took her comments as helpful advice and left it at that. You can be weird and creepy, but it ain't going to get you anywhere with a real woman. Or, you can be more tactful, listen to her, and maybe not be thought of as weird.
Then the Internet exploded with rage, calling the guy a potential rapist and other such unnecessary things. And then the other part of the Internet exploded calling people feminizis. You know, standard Internet comments. Just this one included two prominent figures and high emotions (rape is an emotional topic).
@Brian. Thanks for the sane, reasonable reply. From reading the blogpost i thought they where in a hotel elevator and not a dark car park though? Bit of a difference in my opinion. The car park is usually a dimly lit, empty space where it would seem strange to approach a starnger and speak whereas the hotel elevator is in the middle of a building surrounded by public and staff (albeit in a confined space). I still do not understand the whole outrage of a man asking woman back to his place thing. Like others have said if the woman asked the man or the woman agreed to the proposition nobody would be bothered.ReplyDelete
"I enjoyed your 'required reading' link but it lost me in the home stretch."
That's pretty evident.
Sometimes a drunken pass is a drunken pass and sometimes it's creepy and threatening and makes the recipients of those passes disinclined to attend future events.
And when it's the latter, the proper thing to do is to call that sort of behavior to people's attention so that they might begin to see the problem and correct it.
I think it's been clearly stated about two dozen times that this isn't about the pass or his intentions, it's about how the situation is perceived by the recipient.
You're right, you don't have to listen to and believe people if you honestly think they're wrong. On the other hand, if you'd like someone to hang out with you and they politely explain why you've made that an uncomfortable proposition - it might be wise to actually take that under consideration.
No one is vetoing your thoughts and feelings. I'm not even sure where you got that.
This is incredibly frustrating. The clearest explanations and analogies to help people get it and help them understand why they may not be able to...fail, and the response to that failure is more comments that simply demonstrate the problem.
I'm not sure how much clearer any of this can be:
We have a problem in our community - women are underrepresented. That's an issue we'd like to correct.
One of the contributing factors to that disparity is that they're frequently made to feel uncomfortable. When one of them describes the sort of scenario that makes them uncomfortable and may prevent them and others from wanting to participate in events, they're actually trying to help.
The ones who don't say anything, simply leave and don't come back.
The fact that you can't quite grasp what it's like to be them and experience things from their perspective is exactly what that parable was about.
This wasn't about a simple proposition for sex. No one is trying to end flirting or casual sex. The problem wasn't that he made a pass at her, it's the entire situation surrounding that pass.
Elevator Guy isn't being made into a poster boy for Patriarchy and Privilege - the people who are responding to Rebecca with demonstrations of patriarchy and privilege are. Elevator Guy was never portrayed as anything more than someone who did something creepy - probably without realizing it.
When someone says "That makes me uncomfortable, please don't do that or I really don't think I can continue to hang out with you"...it's usually best to listen, presuming you care about having them hang out with you.
To those who say that what this guy did "isn't that bad."ReplyDelete
No, it's not "that bad." Which is why Rebecca just said that it made her uncomfortable and gave the Pro Tip of not doing that if you don't want to make people uncomfortable.
This should not be a difficult concept to grasp.
To give my perspective as a woman, this is how the conversation appears to me:
1) Rebecca has a creepy encounter with some guy
2) She politely points out that this was creepy, and advises guys to not do this, because it is creepy
3) A bunch of guys come out of the woodwork to say that she is WRONG and it is NOT CREEPY AT ALL OMG
4) I conclude these guys are so upset because they are all creeps. I make note that I never want to meet these tools, and since there are so many at these atheist conferences, it makes me not want to attend any.
5) Clueless creepy dudes wonder why there are so few women at atheist conferences
6) rinse, repeat
You don't have to do anything about this, guys. You can refuse to see why this was inappropriate and rude behavior, you can insist that it wasn't threatening until your face turns blue, you can yell about your right to hit on anyone at any time for any reason because dammit, YOU'RE not a rapist!
But you have to accept the consequences of your actions, which are that I, and others like me, will think you are total douchebag creeps and avoid you.
Like others have said if the woman asked the man or the woman agreed to the proposition nobody would be bothered.ReplyDelete
And if creationism were true no one would mind it taught in schools. So? That's not what happened.
Okay, so sounds like he wasn't a rapist and she isn't a feminazi.ReplyDelete
He just propositioned her in a location that might be prone to rape so it made her a bit uncomfortable?
Then the interweb intervened and said "this needs to be a big deal"
Sweet, wish I didn't read this post at all, almost made me think I was a rapist.
@hannibal. No, remember it was 4 AM--no one is around, no public, and no staff when the elevator is going up. So again, it's like a car park, in that the woman couldn't get out of the elevator or get someone to help her in case it turned out to be that.ReplyDelete
Well, see it's a strange man asking you to go alone to a private place (his room). I never go anyplace alone with a strange man--no hotel rooms, no apartments, no cars, no car parks, nothing. Given that, the idea occurs to you "Is he trying to lure me to be alone with him in a private place? For some ulterior motive?" (I don't mean that sex might be the ulterior motive, something darker).
Again, propositioning women is fine, as long as the situation isn't a potentially scary one, so is asking someone back to your room, if you two have enough of a previous relationship for her to determine that you're not up to something criminal, and that she'll be safe alone in a private place with you.
So, it's all context, and that they were strangers.
@KaylaKaze - Better said, than I said it. I'm not sure why people are so unwilling to point out, that the point when people started talking past each other was after Rebecca abused her bully pulpit. At that point, some wanted to talk about a leader abusing the position at a conference they were given. And the others (PZ) just wanted to ignore that for some reason.ReplyDelete
At least Hemant's take on this whole situation was truthful and explained why the abuse of the bully pulpit was a bad thing.
Either way, this was a pretty civil discussion until Rebecca did that.
@KaylaKaze That is the worst run down of the events I have ever heard. Rebecca said "Guys, don't do that". She didn't call it sexism let alone scream it. The response wasn't measured dissent but actual sexism and hatred (go back to the PZ post to see some truly horrific posts.) Then the discussion about sexism in the movement really began as many of the people (mostly men) didn't seem to understand the problem.ReplyDelete
Rebecca talked about the different degrees of what she and many other women have dealt with in the movement; she didn't lump anyone into anything. Every sentence of your post was wrong; an achievement, be proud.
She wasn't propositioned for straight sex, without introduction EVERY day. Just once in an elevator.
I don't think I'm going out of my way for anything. I'm posting comments on a blog where the whole incident is the main topic of discussion in the hope of enlightenment as to why I am such a buffoon.
@hannanibal-You're missing the point and you're oversimplifying it. It's not an issue of "he asked her, she rejected, end of story." In the video, she was irritated that the man just assumed that she had a mutual interest in copulation whereas they never even met! I mean, this was a convention of atheists, not an annual prostitute convention where you can ask any old stranger for sex and not expect them to be somewhat disgusted with the proposition. The fact is, she had done nothing to indicate an interest and didn't even know the guy to boot. However, the people on the internet have pointed out other dangers to the situation that should be acknowledged. Like the fact that they were in an elevator at 4 in the morning. There's a time, place, and a given association in asking for sex with somebody. This situation violated all three in terms of appropriateness.ReplyDelete
A useless shitstorm over an awkward attempt at flirting. Is this what the atheist community is turning into? Richard Dawkins shouldn't have been put in a position to intervene in the first place because this should never have been turned into an issue that involves the atheist community in particular. It doesn't.ReplyDelete
Great post Martin. It appeared to me that Rebecca went from offended to cutting ties with Richard so fast that I was sure I must have missed the part where they tried to work this out amicably. I don’t mean to place all the responsibility on her shoulders, but if what is going on here is that Richard contains a vacuous, ignorant void, and Rebecca has the knowledge that fills that void, it just seems that writing him off is not the most productive way to accomplish his education.ReplyDelete
@Rorschach: I promise you, there's probably a whole giant ton of times that it is inappropriate to walk up to prostitutes and ask for sex, and not just when you're broke either. Everyone values their personal space, their off-duty time, and respect for their feelings and potential safety.ReplyDelete
More on topic, the talk of sexism and privilege is in the concept that some people seem to believe that you DON'T have to respect what other people value if you're a guy and you're horny. It doesn't matter if a woman says she doesn't want to be propositioned, a man's desire to proposition trumps it.
Maybe the event organisers should set up a "flirting allowed" zone at the next meeting? Anyone flirting outside this zone should be chastised and heavily blogged about.ReplyDelete
@hannanibal You didn't answer my question and you're missing the point. She has voiced, as have others, that this *type* of behavior *is* something she goes through constantly. This incident is indicative of a bigger issue. Made all the more ironic that she just gave a speech about how she doesn't want to be sexualized at these conferences. Hard for the guy to claim ignorance of this.ReplyDelete
So answer my question; I'll make it more broad as it more analogous. Would you be ok with being sexualized constantly?
@Improbable Joe- Yeah I could have worded the detail of that scenario a little better, my apologies.ReplyDelete
A social event attended by like-minded people is probably the best place to flirt with someone in my opinion. The fact that the event was attended by atheists has nothing to do with it.
propositioning someone is NOT the same as prostitution so forget that argument.
Yes I would.
A social event attended by like-minded people is probably the best place to flirt with someone in my opinion.ReplyDelete
Of course it is. And it would have been great if he's flirted with her at the well attended social event of like minded people, rather than, oh, let's just say... in a deserted elevator.
@hannanibal Never mind. You've made it clear you don't actually care to converse. Your comments are slowly turning into what we've seen in every thread that's dealt with this issue. It starts as concern, then into obtuse misunderstanding, now it's going into condescending comments which miss the point and strawman the opposing argument. Soon enough it'll be barely coherent comments about how people want to castrate men and how we've all been brainwashed by the feminazis.ReplyDelete
You've been given examples as to why this incident was wrong, why it's indicative of a larger issue and why it needs to be fixed. You've been shown the lines, given the picture and heard the explanation. I'm done with you.
Protip for everyone: if you don't actually know the context and are just posting your opinion on your impression of what happened based on a blog post or two, stop.ReplyDelete
Skeptics, and especially regular TAE viewers, should know better than to take secondhand accounts and hearsay and form opinions and judgment from there. How about instead of accusing this or that person of saying this or intending that, go to the PRIMARY SOURCES -- i.e. Rebecca's talks, the blog post responding to her, etc. -- and see what was actually said, vs. the argument that's blown up about stuff that wasn't said at all.
Unfortunately, what Dawkins said is really what Dawkins said... but even then, I feel like he was responding more to the storm in a teacup than to Rebecca directly.
The best thing to remember for those of us attending TAM is that Dawkins and Rebecca will be there. Instead of arguing with them and telling them what they said, we have the opportunity to ask them what they meant and discuss our differences of perspective. Let's have fun and talk with each other instead of at each other.
As far as Dawkins' comments go he was initially flippant and dismissive, but let's not be equally dismissive of the fact that he responded to the criticism of his comments by asking to be educated on why he is mistaken. He truly wishes to know what he is missing. Rebecca's reaction of writing off Dawkins' and asking others to do the same is the wrong course of action. It seems the sort of emotional response that we campaign against as part of a rational worldview. She should take the chance to educate Dawkins', not cast him out as a misogynist unwilling to change his views when he has clearly expressed an openness to do so.ReplyDelete
@ Kazim (Russell)- *in baseball commentating voice* And he drives it home!!!!!!ReplyDelete
Perhaps this should be a major topic at TAM.ReplyDelete
If this community is truly interested in consciousness raising , then trying to mute this issue before your big get together is the worst thing to do.
Male privilege is, next to "faith", one of the poisons that hold us all back. The two are interconnected in a way that makes discussing them together an obvious choice.
It's uncomfortable for men to be sure.
It's very uncomfortable for women to step out of the feminine role and ask, just for a second, to be heard on this topic.
Its a struggle on par with the leap one takes in declaring
that there is no proof of God, so there likely isnt a god. If we men can't admit that our ape driven sexual behavior is inappropriate in most situations where reason and equanimity are supposed to be the norm then we cannot claim to be "raising our consciousness".
If you don't understand the difference between flirting and creepy, predatory behavior, you shouldn't be flirting with anyone. Seriously.
Let me try to explain.
Flirting is like when you are in a well-lit, public place, with many people around, and you see someone wearing a t-shirt that has a band you like on it, and you say "hey I like your shirt" and they say "thanks!" and smile, and then you say something like "so how long have you been a fan of [band]?" and they respond with a full answer like "oh, a while, I really enjoy them, I got to see them in concert a couple months ago" and so on.
Creepy, predatory behavior is getting someone alone late at night in an enclosed space and asking them to have coffee with you, alone, in your hotel room.
[Note that in the second situation, should you decide to try to force anything, it will be a he said/she said situation, giving you deniability. Plus, how dumb was she, getting into an elevator with a strange man at 4am! She was practically asking for it. And other classic victim-blaming rhetoric.]
NO MATTER WHAT YOUR INTENTIONS ARE, if you cannot see the difference between these two scenarios, you are either deliberately obtuse or a sociopath. This should be easy for any rational adult to understand.
Furthermore, as an adult, you should understand by now that you have the ability to restrain yourself and your behavior. You do not have to immediately hit on anyone you find attractive (I hope) so presumably you can use a modicum of good judgement, just for a second, to think "am I being friendly and flirtatious, or am I being creepy?"
People have a weird impression of what constitutes "flirting" these days, don't they? Shouldn't flirting happen in the context of a conversation, and may or may not lead to eventual "coffee", literal or figurative? Last time I checked, "Hi, my name is Joe, I think you're interestingcomesleep with me" wasn't flirting. You don't get to shortcut the flirting and conversation just because you feel like it, and expect that women should just take it.ReplyDelete
So because I answered you honestly I'm in the wrong? Where did I strawman? You made the strawman with the whole " how would you like to be asked for sex, without introduction, EVERYDAY?" which was not the case.
Also, pre-empting my future comments (castration blah blah blah feminazis balh blah) Is childish. I never mentioned those things, you did.
Rebecca is rightReplyDelete
Dawkins is wrong
Not all men are rapists, this one probably wasn't either, although his timing and invitation clearly was a hard come on and clearly inappropriate. where as perhaps a softer and more appropriate come on would have been "hey you wanna grab some lunch tomorrow and shoot the s**t?" (and to be honest i am not sure if that is even ok)
I hope Dawkins sees the light on this, but if he doesn't i still respect what he says regarding issues on atheism and evolution, just not on feminism.
and *Forrest Gump voice* that's all i gotta say about that.
They where both at the event. They where both like-minded people going back to their rooms at the same time from the same event. This whole elevator thing is lame. He asked her if she wanted to go back to his room and a shitstorm erupts. Is that what it boils down to? The elevator? Is it really that "crazy" and "creepy" and "predatory" (WTF?).
@ hannanibal-where did I say it was the same as prostitution? Prostitution does involve propositioning, that's the connection. But as Joe pointed out, there are even contexts where prostitutes could be uncomfortable in advances. You're right about that in the sense of Atheism having little to do with it, but you still have yet to address the issue of time, place, and association with the person who's prop-ing.ReplyDelete
LOL! Way the use hyperbole mate. Get a grip. I'm not defending his right to eat her liver.
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Prostitution is illegal where I live. Asking women back for coffee is not. That's why I don't agree with your example.
@hannanibal she does get that all the time, and even talks about it. I don't, however, think that changes anything.ReplyDelete
The point here isn't to stop flirting, or make it only acceptable in certain places, but is the recognition that most, if not all, people in the skeptical community are rational people. By her talking about this, we all get to understand the nuance of the topic at hand. This isn't black and white. It's something I had never thought about before, and it has got me thinking. I hope it has you thinking as well.
Basically, just don't randomly proposition women for sex. Just get to know them. Don't act like a creep, you likely don't already. As guys, we don't see the guys who do this bs. We don't understand what they go through from the _ultra-minority_. we don't do this. We don't know people who do this. But it does happen. If we see it, be sure to put a stop to it. Make it socially unacceptable. Just don't demonize a honest mistake at the same time.
I think that's lost in the rhetoric. When people say "there's a problem with sexism in th community", it's far overstated. That opens connotations that it's a special problem in skepticism like pedophillia is in the catholic church. It's not. It's a problem in general society, and we can stop it in our little enclave. If Rebecca had shot to stardom in _any_ other group (be it ufologists or truthers), she would be saying the same thing about those groups. But we aren't in those groups. We can change our group, if we know about the problem. And it's a worthwhile endeavor.
So, dear hannanibal, I don't think you are the problem. In fact, you most likely are not. You have just succumbed to the bs rhetoric. Ignore the people who yell. Instead, just agree with us that indeed, people who act that way are creepy and wrong. And that they should stop that behavior. And if you see someone exhibiting that behavior, just say "hey man, just chill". (By behavior, I mean following a woman into an elevator and cold-propositioning her for sex, and other oddities).
Can we agree on that?
This comment was the one I was referring to (thought you'd be keen enough to get that, I was wrong):
Maybe the event organisers should set up a "flirting allowed" zone at the next meeting? Anyone flirting outside this zone should be chastised and heavily blogged about.
This is strawmaning what is being said here. As for your answer to my question, it doesn't matter if you want to be sexualized or not. The point of the question is the same as if I asked "Do you want to be beaten?" the obvious reasonable answer would be 'no'. Saying 'yes' just means you want to be right and do not care about what *is* right.
Most people don't want to be constantly sexualized. And the women of this movement have been voicing that for a couple of years now. Rebecca voiced it during a speech mere hours before the incident. This is the latest conversation about the general feeling women have about the sexism in the movement.
No it's not, it's what I've come to expect in this conversation as demonstrated at Blag Hag, Phyrangula, Bad Astronomy etc. Although maybe I affected the future by saying it like in Back to the Future. 0_o
@Hannanibal-drop the scenario I brought up if only for a moment and address whether or not you consider if there's a time, place, and association for propositioning.ReplyDelete
I can only say that the situation is subjective. Depending on the atmosphere, the proposition can be wrong or right regardless of the location/time/person.
Can we agree on that?
"Is that what it boils down to? The elevator? Is it really that "crazy" and "creepy" and "predatory" (WTF?)."
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU WHY CAN'T YOU GET THIS.
From wikipedia, linked from "sociopathy":
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Axis II (personality disorders) of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR) as "...a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood."
Please explain to me how your refusing to acknowledge that it is creepy and threatening for a woman to:
-be trapped in an enclosed space
-in the middle of the night
-with someone she doesn't know
-propositioned for sex, when the person propositioning her is probably able to overpower her
-after being raised in a culture that teaches her that rape prevention is HER SOLE responsibility
...is not a disregard of that woman's right to not feel threatened and harassed.
The time and place etc. is subjective. If he felt it was right to ask her back to his room then that's his problem.
And no matter what, we can both agree that right now he wishes he kept his mouth shut! ;)
I don't think Carlos suggested that Rebecca personally said anything about all males. I read it as more a statement about "us common folks" suggesting this sort of thing in comments around the world. As well as the other side pushing back just as hard and just as inanely.ReplyDelete
I think I get Rebecca's point. Hell, I would feel uncomfortable myself in a strange hotel at 4:00am out of country, and I'm a guy from Detroit. Then I picture my daughter being hit on by some guy with excess creepatin (Eagleheart anybody?). I guess some people don't get the basic concept, but it's really pretty simple. How is this controversial?
But at the same time, I also see Dawkins' point that it may not deserve the amount of discussion it's generated when compared with genuine atrocities. I think that is fair to say without thinking it implies an extreme insensitivity, or outright ignorance, of women having to deal with potentially dangerous troglodytes. I have teenage daughters and live in a college town. I would do anything in my power to facilitate college men respecting women. I hope I'm not as old, backward and senile as people are claiming he is over this. And I know Rebecca has not said this herself. If there was only her post, None of this would be happening.
I'm not the biggest fan of R Watson in general. I'm trying not to let that jade my thinking on this whole thing. I used to listen to a lot of SGU, but when they started their request for fans to send them to Australia, it just never seemed right with me. It's a weird entitlement vibe I got. This might be totally off topic, however. I certainly respect them all to varying degrees.
Asking someone, who has just attended a function at which you were present, back for coffee, whilst in a hotel elevator is not sociopathic. I doubt the men in white coats will be beating a path to a persons door for that. try again.
@hannanibal indeed. The situation is subjective, I agree.ReplyDelete
But can we agree that a guy, who had never talked to her before, asking her into his room at 4AM is creepy? That situation, barring all others, is indeed not benign?
Since you covered that on Brian's question (and mine too), if it's a subjective matter, then why doesn't her "subjective" annoyance matter in this situation? Balls to his problems of being rejected when the proposition was creepy given the circumstances, where does her being uncomfortable in this factor?ReplyDelete
I asked YOU to explain why YOU are not a sociopath. I called YOU a sociopath and everything you say pretty much just confirms your utter and complete lack of empathy for others.
Since it is evident that it is impossible to reason with you in any way, for your utter callousness towards other human beings renders you incapable of understanding the situation, I will gracefully bow out and hope that I never, ever meet you in real life.
being an object of sexualisation is not akin to wanting to be beaten. I, like many others, would be incredibly flattered to be an object of sexualisation.
"Utter callousness toward human beings" LOL! Are you trolling?
I NEVER said she shouldn't be annoyed. If she wants to be pissed at being propositioned that's fine! The guy obviously thought the offer would be reciprocated or he wouldn't have asked. My WHOLE argument has been what is the MASSIVE deal? Seriously I have no problem with her being pissed off! I just want to know WHY is everyone slagging others off calling them sociopaths and sub-humans and rape enablers etc. over what is basically some guy getting turned down?
Many aspects bedsides the proportions of this issue is quite remarkable. Rebecca W made a quick thing about an incident that made her feel uncomfortable and FUCKING Richard Dawkins (!) chimes in with a comment not worthy of a teenage, high school kid. Simply amazing. After my jaws dropped down, I asked my non-skeptical, "never-heared-of-theese-people-ever" wife what she thought about the comment made and she simply said that "He's an idiot". I tried to nuanse her view by some lame appeal to a work called "The selfish gene", but it was too late.ReplyDelete
All I can agree on is sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. Honestly that's all I can say about the Elevator Of Doom.
Hell, strangers have got together in weirder places or else there wouldn't be a phrase like "joining the mile high club".
Damn, both sides could use a little perspective re-evaluation in IMO. Alot of men think that they would be flattered by some catcalls or sexual advances and don't seem to receive them. But imagine those cat-calls and advances came from a group that at any time (for examples purpose let's say other men two times your size), who could physically hurt and overpower you by brute force and physical strength at any time. Now imagine from puberty on that has happened to you consistently on almost a daily basis...and that group has a reputation to beat and rape people like you. You read it in the news. Not all of them but you must take precautions to keep yourself out of harms way but you just can't avoid this kind of attention. But repeated exposure to this unwanted and unprovoked attention will effect the way you react to people and will understandably make you feel all sort of emotions. From fear to anger to powerlessness. So even when one of that group, however well meaning approaches you, you will always have that potentiality in the back of your mind. You can't always prepare for it, you want to let your guard down, but it can blindside you. It comes from unexpected places sometimes by people you thought you could trust.ReplyDelete
As women, yes we have to keep in mind and be very aware that not all men are equipped with a high level of social intelligence. The ones incapable of empathy, the ones who react in anger to the brushing off of their unwanted advances are usually powerless men lacking in both social skills and are probably quite naive due to their failure with and lack of meaningful interaction with the opposite sex and not necessarily a physical threat. We need to be kind but firm. Every gift (for lack of a better term) bears responsibility. Whether is be youth or beauty or just being female it will have it's advantages and downfalls. And part of possessing it requires how to learn how to utilize and protect it. We cannot flagrantly flaunt things that we know that people are deprived of and not expect some bad behavior. We cannot expect that we live in a safe world. Not everyone has manners, empathy or understand the nuances of polite social behavior, even at atheist skeptic social events.
@hannanibal I don't think you understand what is meant be sexualization. I have no doubt you'd like to be desired by some people, we all do. Sexualization (more importantly constant sexualization) is never being seen as a whole being but more of a sexual object. People (or at least the opposite sex) don't take you seriously and when some seem to be taking you seriously, they are simply trying to get into your pants. Moreover this isn't a bunch of attractive, intelligent people coming after you but all sorts of unsavory characters (that's a minor point) It gives the feeling of being used. Now imagine dealing with this on a nearly daily basis. I don't see a reasonable person saying they are ok with that.ReplyDelete
You keep ignoring a point though, that many women don't like it. They've asked for it to stop in our society and more to the point in our community. Are they wrong to do so? That's what Rebecca did, that's what countless women in all the comment sections of all the posts pertaining to this subject are asking for. Are they wrong in asking not to be sexualized?
And I didn't say you said "she shouldn't be annoyed". I want to know why you make it more about "some guy getting turned down" than you do about how uncomfortable the proposition in that context made her. That's the issue, it's not a simple matter of a guy getting turned down, it's the details in the story.ReplyDelete
First off, I completely agree with BSkrilla.ReplyDelete
Secondly, from what I've seen I think that is a horribly inaccurate representation of the situation, Martin.
I think it really has to be emphasised that the problem here didn't start with what RW said.
The first incident was simply this: Someone propositioned RW in a socially inept manner in a confined space at a very bad time. She said no - and that guy accepted it (presumably with a bruised ego), and walked away.
No massive harm done. RW mentioned it pretty briefly at a talk she was part of, saying please don't do this. Unfortunately it was mentioned when she was talking about misogyny and sexism when this was instead a personal safety issue that had nothing to do with either.
Anyway, I think her discomfort was perfectly understandable, but then it got messy. There are people (of both genders - it's absolute bullshit to claim that it is just 'loser guys' saying this, Martin) who thought that RW over reacted, because they themselves wouldn't feel that way, and said so. In fact, arguably this whole thing only really got real wheels when a female blogger disagreed with her reaction.
And from there - and this is where the shitstorm blew up, a group of people started defending RW by saying things like the guy in the elevator was misogynistic, wanted a quick fuck, was going to rape her - frankly, a lot of utter bullshit, that people really reacted badly to. Most of the angriness has not been centred around the actual incident, but upon these hyperbolic responses.
Although I've stayed out of it, I have myself seen some horrifically misandrist comments. Unsurprisingly, many, many men (and I hasten to add women too) do not appreciate some of the sweeping statements I have seen about men, which have in some places included the idea that the vast majority of men just want to rape women.
I just want to stress that I am not blaming all RW's defenders for this - I have seen a lot of people on both sides that are discussing the matter reasonably, and not simply shouting "misogyny" at the top of their lungs. It goes without saying that there are arseholes on the other side too, but Martin's initial post seemed to centre around them, and not mention that there was another side to the matter.
Seriously - there are some really fucked up comments out there. And here's the thing - most of the comments I've seen have nothing to do with the actual incident, but rather to do with the tripe people (on both sides) have said with little relevance to it. Unfortunately, when people see criticism of people who call themselves feminists, many also think they are criticising RW.
In fact, almost the only censorious comments I can remember seeing about RW are based (from what I understand) upon her usurpation of a later speech in order to effectively bully that afore mentioned female blogger who had a different opinion to her. (And if true, that's definitely not cool.)
Hey - as I said, I'm staying out of this as best I can, although it's hard not to find some reference to it at the moment. All I want to do with this post is point out how inaccurate I think Martin's take of the situation is.
Actually - I try to stay out of all conversations on the net (not in real life) involving sexism, because it is my unhappy experience that you are guaranteed to be called misogynistic unless you agree with every single thing a certain type of feminist says. And to pre-empt the unlikely possibility someone is going to assume I am in some way misogynistic, I'm actually one of those people that finds it easier to converse as a friend with the opposite sex than my own - I've probably had more platonic friends that are female than male. I just find it easier to relate and talk I think. Maybe it's because I'm not interested in cars...
(Yes, that was self-aware irony.)
Well one thing is for sure.ReplyDelete
TAM9 is going to be a non-stop barrel of laughs.
You sir have nailed my sentiments exactly. We can be friends.
I will think about the links you posted me. They show some perspective I hadn't fully considered.
I must say that the whole privilege argument, though, feels a little bit like poisoning the well to me. "You don't have the problems I do, no matter what you say you just are wrong."
Just to be clear, I don't condone going around asking women for intercourse out of the blue. In fact I have had to intervene physically in a number of occasions in favor of female friends against douchebags who wouldn't take no for an answer.
I will repeat only one more thing. The incident is blown out of proportions. I understand it was not Rebecca who blew it, though.
Constant sexual pressure is the problem, not this particular "Elevator guy."
On a second thought, this out-of-proportions reaction might help rather than hinder the spreading of the awareness of the problem.
The issue between us is I don't think the situation was as weird/creepy as people are making out and you do. We don't agree and we probably never will. If that makes me a buffoon, sociopath, sexist, rape-enabler or whatever else then so be it. I'm not being purposefully obtuse, I know what the situation was and I still don't think it's worth all this shit. Peace.
@hannanibal-I didn't say you were any of those things, and while I agree that you not seeing it as bad as I do is part of the problem, I think the bigger thing is a lack of perspective on the part of you. I don't mean that condescendingly if it comes that way, but the feelings of Rebecca should be understood on this matter (which I think you might to a certain degree, though you haven't really covered that) and the context of which this occurred (which you don't seem to understand at all).ReplyDelete
Dude, with regards to the insults I was referring to nearly everyone else in this comments section.The feelings of Rebecca/Elevator guy where never my main point of contention. This massive over-reaction is.
There's a difference between a reaction to the incident itself, and a recoiling disgust to a plethora of people who just don't seem to "get it" about womens' issues.ReplyDelete
"Recoiling disgust to a plethora of people who just don't seem to "get it" about womens' issues."
Recoiling disgust? really? Get over yourself.
@hannibal- Fair enough about the insults thing, but the "massive over-reaction" is contingent upon the feelings of the two. That's where I'm trying to get you to understand. It seems like we only graze the issue in covering the outcome, but not the feelings.ReplyDelete
I get she may have felt threatened, I get the location/timing was (maybe) poor, I get she made it clear beforehand that she didn't like being propositioned BUT The hurt feelings of one person vs this interwebz shitstorm seems out of proportion to me. That's the long and the short of it.
It can be surprising to find one's self surrounded by obtuse misogynists, who, no matter how many times you try to explain it to them, just cannot grasp the idea that women have to deal with a lot of crap. They warrant disgust, and shame.
I get she made it clear beforehand that she didn't like being propositioned BUT The hurt feelings of one person vs this interwebz shitstorm seems out of proportion to me.ReplyDelete
This is an example of what I'm talking about.
It isn't about that.
"Surrounded by obtuse mysoginists"
Yawn.....Really? How incredibly interesting. I think I can relate to what you mean though conidering the amount of misandry in this comments section.
And your over the top, hyperberolic comments are what I'm talking about.
At this stage this is just pure and total mental masturbation. How many comments are out there on it - it must be 10,000+. And while I respect all the sage input from the likes of Matt D. etc into this - there is nothing that hasn't been said many many times before.ReplyDelete
And worse, looking at Martin's original post, the story is - as Afterthought_btw has pointed out - morphing. That's not good.
The smart thing to do in this situation is to copy PZ Myers and any number of Christian websites: put up your post and close it to comments. Most people either "get it" or they're not going to - certainly not this way.
I'm going to preface this by saying that all I know about this situation is what is in your blog post, so maybe i'm missing some information, however based on what you've written Martin, it seems to me that there is and has always been a fine line between the quest for equal rights, and a martyr complex.ReplyDelete
If Watson is now Champaigning that its a misogynist act of sexism to ask a girl you meet out to coffee, then i'm sorry but I think thats a line she's now crossed (i'm actually curious to know how she thinks strangers meet and become couples at all if something as trivial as this is sexist)
Maybe you're right that Dawkins statement is doing the equivalent of saying we shouldn't complain about the god pledge (for those of you Americans anyways :P) but if that is the case, then surely the original situation is Watson complaining about theistic bumper stickers.
As I said, all I know about the situation so far is what you've written in the post, but uless you've left out large important chunks of the story, i'ma have to side with Dawkins on this one.
Good you understand where she's coming from for the most part. Where it blew up is that there are people who do not (like Dawkins) that really got the shitstorm going. I agree, it's blown up out of proportion in some senses. But I don't think it's a waste of time when we're covering a sensitive issue here. I'm glad you understand for the most part though.ReplyDelete
Sigh. Do some people just have a mental firewall that keeps them from seeing the whole "it was 4 AM in an elevator" thing? I appear to have to repeat this part for the umpteenth time. There are appropriate times and places to hit on a lady. That ain't one of them. Jesus.ReplyDelete
It's good to agree on something. I must say though that the people slinging insults and pre-empting comments are NOT doing either side any favours. Anyway dude cheers for the lively debate. I'm off.
Bingo, you "get it". If I met you irl, I would owe you a beer. You and BSkrilla.
Hannanibal, I may not disagree with you on where the line is, but unlike some of these other pricks, I'm not going to tar and feather you. (That dude called you a sociopath; that guy IS the problem).
As for this situation, some people "get off" on random hookups with strangers. Regardless of what Rebecca had said as he may not have heard, we cannot take outlying cases as the norm. Most women don't like that, and as such, should be treated with respect to that norm. Fortunately, you aren't arguing for men to just hit on women randomly in elevators. It's not normal, but nor is it misogynistic. It's just someone who made a bad judgement call. We can learn from his minor mistake.
Can we agree?
"There are appropriate times and places to hit on a lady. That ain't one of them. Jesus. "
Was it Jesus in the elevator with her? Now that changes everything.
"you aren't arguing for men to just hit on women randomly in elevators. It's not normal, but nor is it misogynistic. It's just someone who made a bad judgement call."
Yes! We can agree on that my friend. Middle ground reached.
And people say discussions on the Internet are pointless. Only if both sides start flaming. :)
Also, edit the "not disagree" to "we may disagree". Stupid iPad keyboard...
I knew dude. I knew.
And your over the top, hyperberolic comments are what I'm talking about.
Actually, it's not. You've been addressing people overreacting to the incident. I'm pointing out that the reaction isn't to the incident itself. It's more of an example of an ongoing problem, and has acted as a spark to the debate. Most of us are appalled at the attitude against women that's suddenly sprung up around us... not the particular incident itself.
But for some reason, people like you can't grasp this, and instead misrepresent the debate as a bunch of people getting worked up over an awkward elevator moment.
"Most of us are appalled at the attitude against women that's suddenly sprung up around us."
LOL! Once again with the hyperbole. "Suddenly sprung up around us"??? Yeah because guys have only recently started hitting on women.
Things are not perfect but they are getting better and attitudes towards women are better than they have ever been in the western world.
@hannanibal- Thanks, it's always pleasing to hit that ground. It may not happen often, but it's always a pleasure when it does.ReplyDelete
"Sigh. Do some people just have a mental firewall that keeps them from seeing the whole "it was 4 AM in an elevator" thing? I appear to have to repeat this part for the umpteenth time. There are appropriate times and places to hit on a lady. That ain't one of them. Jesus."ReplyDelete
-This is where my issue takes place... what does the time of day have anything to do with the appropriateness of the situation? It totally depends on your OPINION. It's not like there is some universal law or rule that says men can't flirt with women in a elevator at four in the morning(or vice versa). Stranger or not. People flirt with complete strangers all the time, both sexes do. So the whole "it was 4 a.m. in the morning!" talk is pretty lame to me. I'm not saying that she shouldn't have felt creeped out by the sexual advance, but the thing is, you just can't stop things like this from happening. It's simple human nature. People do strange things all the time(of course whether or not it should be defined as strange is totally subjective and personal opinion), the world isn't perfect guys. Different women would have reacted differently to the situation. Some women like it, some don't. Just because one women felt uncomfortable by the advance doesn't mean that the situation was inappropriate, because it's a matter of opinion, not objective moral law. Whether or not it was appropriate should be left to the two people in that elevator, and no one else. We weren't there.
It also depends on the relationship that is already established between the two people.
For example, I can't think of any location/time/person outside of a swinger club where it would be appropriate to ask a complete stranger you never talked to before if (s)he wants to have sex with you.
Now, the guy in this tale didn't directly ask her for sex, of course. But to interpret the intent of his question in any other way seems hardly doable. (Unless he really enjoys a hot coffee in nice company in the middle of the night)
Damn this thread is moving fast. The comment I commented on is now half a page away. This blog needs a quoting-option.ReplyDelete
Mamba24: So, since Rebecca and other women have expressed their opinion that being hit on in an elevator by a stranger at 4 AM when they've made it clear that all they really feel like doing is going to bed is inappropriate, will you respect it? Because you know, the whole "it's just opinion" thing sounds very much like the rhetoric the not-getting-it mansplaining crowd uses to dismiss and diminish womens' concerns over situations like this, that make women feel nervous, uncomfortable and objectified.ReplyDelete
I'm with Dawkins on this one. American women are trained to be victims and to wave it like a flag.ReplyDelete
American women want the man to make the first move (even feminists), but that man must be the perfect man and the move must be the perfect move. Anything less is rape. The standards are set so impossibly high for male behavior that America now leads the world in the number of adults living alone.
"This is where my issue takes place... what does the time of day have anything to do with the appropriateness of the situation? It totally depends on your OPINION."ReplyDelete
I think that you are wrong, and this is why: who is around at 4 AM? Where I live, NO ONE is awake at 4 AM except the drug dealers and the crackheads. I once walked home at 3 AM from a club. It was a stupid thing to do, and the whole way home I kept telling myself, "Self, if you get mugged/raped/murdered, you will have no one to blame but yourself. Cause this is a stupid-ass thing you are doing here, Ms. TooCheapForCabFare."
I did not get mugged/raped/murdered on that occasion, but it happens plenty in the city where I live. And I did get "propositioned", as people seem to be calling it these days, by no less than three (3) men, two of them in cars. That was not my best night ever, and the catcalling was *not* a reassuring message that I wasn't alone in the world.
4 AM in the morning alone is a sketchy time for me, because if I get in to trouble, by the time any help arrives, said trouble will be all over. Yes, even in a hotel. And that's leaving aside the in a foreign country far away from friends and support factor, which is also huge (for me, and I think most people) when calculating risk.
A lot of the disagreement I saw over the last two days stems more from people disagreeing on whether or not Watson should have called out Stef McGraw during her talk. I was wondering what the AE crew's opinion was on this.ReplyDelete
It is sad that the crux of concern is so easily glossed over. Many women are reluctant to come to events and convention based on treatment they worry over facing, have faced in the past, or have heard that others have suffered through. This is problem for us, and most all gatherings.ReplyDelete
But I like to think we have it in our community to be considerate of the needs of new comers, especially when it is as simple as some thoughtful restraint and understanding.
Yet when asked to try and consider the affect of how one treats women, some get weirdly defensive. Are they asked to never talk to women? No. Are all guys rapists? No. Are they making some women uncomfortable? Are you? Have you noticed?
Not sure why this simple challenge is treated like some assault on man. A victimizing, by some. No one, even Watson, is telling you can't hit on women, or you can't do it at awkward times. But the hope she, and we all have, is that guys will try to think about it.
Is this a bad time to ask her out?
Does she look uncomfortable with you there?
If the answer is yes, then things likely won't go well for either of you. So more understanding and consideration allows for everyone to have a broader community, and a better experience for all.
"So, since Rebecca and other women have expressed their opinion that being hit on in an elevator by a stranger at 4 AM when they've made it clear that all they really feel like doing is going to bed is inappropriate, will you respect it?"ReplyDelete
-Yes, I would respect it.(Did I give the impression that I wouldn't?) If the women says, "sorry I'm not that type of gal", then the situation is over. Done deal. There is no "right" or "wrong" here. There is just everyone's opinion. And for this particular circumstance, everyone's opinion is equally valid. She felt uncomfortable with the situation, and she was right in her reaction to it.
"Because you know, the whole "it's just opinion" thing sounds very much like the rhetoric the not-getting-it mansplaining crowd uses to dismiss and diminish womens' concerns over situations like this, that make women feel nervous, uncomfortable and objectified."
-And I respectfully disagree. It's not rhetoric, it was a rational and well thought out expressed OPINION to the conversation here. Do you actually have a valid rebuttal to my post? Or do you just accuse people of spewing "rhetoric that make women feel nervous and objectified" when people don't hold the same beliefs as you? I'm not saying that Rebbecca was wrong to reject this guy and hold the opinion that the situation was inappropriate. I'm saying that if it were a different kind of women in this position(not Rebbecca), this women might react totally different and hold the opinion that it isn't inappropriate. In these kind of situations nobody is right or wrong, it's just a matter of different preferences for intimate lifestyles. While one person(or many) may hold the opinion that it is inappropriate to flirt with someone at four in the morning, there will be others who hold the opposite opinion. You don't get to force your particular views on what's appropriate and what isn't, on how to flirt with someone.
"4 AM in the morning alone is a sketchy time for me, because if I get in to trouble, by the time any help arrives, said trouble will be all over. Yes, even in a hotel. And that's leaving aside the in a foreign country far away from friends and support factor, which is also huge (for me, and I think most people) when calculating risk."ReplyDelete
-Says your opinion. If you don't like being awake at 4 A.M in the morning by yourself in public.....then don't do it! Simply because you find a particular time of day to be "creepy", doesn't mean that your opinion should become law.
We aren't talking law. We are talking decorum.
As a man, I need to ask all the other men here;ReplyDelete
Do you really expect to establish a rapport with a woman in the time it takes an elevator to get to her floor?
Or to be more exact, don't you think that you should establish a rapport before you make a pass?
I mean, that's really the point here, isn't it? To have enough respect for a person to wait until you've made a connection with them before you feel it's appropriate to make a pass?
If I was more clever I could elaborate, but I think that's the gist of it.
I have been thinking about this for about a week, ever since I first caught a whiff of it on BlagHag. And I don't think that what happened in the elevator counts as "flirting". When I flirt, I talk about mutual interests, make really, really terrible jokes and try at some point to break the touch barrier. Only after at least an hour of this do I even begin to think about broaching the "somewhere more quiet" subject.ReplyDelete
Elevator Guy did none of these things. He had all night at the bar to flirt with Rebecca. He didn't. He even had a chance in the elevator to flirt with her, not that I think it was the time or place. But he didn't then either. He asked her to talk over coffee in his room. This, in my experience of the dating world, is a cold come-on for sex, or at least some kind of naked times. That is not flirting. It does not imply a genuine interest in her thoughts or personality. It betrays an attitude that the most interesting thing about her is her vagina, and that is the definition of sexualization.
"I think that you are wrong, and this is why: who is around at 4 AM? Where I live, NO ONE is awake at 4 AM except the drug dealers and the crackheads. I once walked home at 3 AM from a club. It was a stupid thing to do, and the whole way home I kept telling myself, "Self, if you get mugged/raped/murdered, you will have no one to blame but yourself. Cause this is a stupid-ass thing you are doing here, Ms. TooCheapForCabFare."ReplyDelete
-Nobody but the crackheads huh? I'm sure you would be surprised to find how many people are out in public during the wee morning hours, who aren't crackheads.(especially in big cities) But in any case, what does your being scared have to do with other people's ability to cope with certain times of day? Just because you find a particular time of day to be creepy or sketchy, doesn't mean you get to judge other people for flirting at at four a.m..
To be honest, the problem I have is not that Rebecca felt uncomfortable. I totally get how being alone in a hotel elevator at 4am with a drunk guy would make a woman feel uncomfortable and threatened.ReplyDelete
What I don't understand though, is how she cites this as an example of misogynistic sexual objectification. She even said in her video that he was polite in his approach, if clueless and (unintentionally) creepy. This isn't the same thing as whistling at a girl on the street, or staring at her breasts and ignoring what she's saying.
The other thing I take issue with, is that when another woman (Stef) responded that she didn't think it was that creepy, Rebecca decried it as "ancient anti-woman rhetoric." Stef probably should have made it clear that she wasn't denying the legitimacy of Rebecca's feelings (I think that's clear from her post). She was pointing out that those feelings, in the situation as described by Rebecca, wouldn't be universally held by women, even progressive ones. She was pointing out that his error was one of social awkwardness, not misogyny.
And then of course, Rebecca's infantile disowning of Richard Dawkins. Sure, Richard missed the boat, and poorly stated his position to boot. As if that negates his entire body of work.
"We aren't talking law. We are talking decorum."ReplyDelete
-Yeah I wasn't being literal with the law references buddy. It was there to strictly make a point. The point being that it's everyone's personal opinion, and thus it is neither right nor wrong to flirt with someone in an elevator at four in the morning. The situation could have been easily the opposite and this guy could have scored. Same thing, neither right nor wrong. It's simply a matter of preference. Rebbecca has her Preferences, and she has every right to hold those.
Heh. I do live "in the big city" and in my neighborhood, 4 AM belongs to the crackheads. Someone two blocks away from me was mugged *on their own front porch* after midnight.ReplyDelete
Yes, I do get to judge them, if they are making me uncomfortable. As has been said by others more cogent than I, "I set my own risk tolerance."
If I determine a situation to be uncomfortable *for me*, I have every right to say so. The situation, as Rebecca describes it, would have made me incredibly uncomfortable, in a way that an invitation to have coffee *the next morning* simply would not have.
This is important because (I thought) having women participate in the skeptic/atheist community is important. If women are made to feel uncomfortable/creeped out/constantly sexualized at atheist conferences, they won't go. And then there won't be as many women. And that would be bad for everyone, I think.
But hey, if that's not a problem for you, then we don't have much else to discuss.
"Rebbecca has her Preferences, and she has every right to hold those."ReplyDelete
Rebecca expressed those preferences (not to be constantly rebuffing sexual come-ons) in a public talk that afternoon which this man attended. She then proceeded to further discuss the issue at the bar, where this man was also present. Her Preferences were thoroughly Expressed. But hey, her right not to be bothered was trumped by his right to score.
THIS is the sexism that has many people riled up. Not that he tried to score, but that when Rebecca said she didn't like it, and pointed out he should have *known* she wouldn't like it, every Gentle Scholar on the internets jumped in hollering about their right to try and talk women into bed, anytime, anywhere. This implies that the only reason these Scholars want women around is so they can use their vaginas. And that. Is. Sexist.
"Heh. I do live "in the big city" and in my neighborhood, 4 AM belongs to the crackheads. Someone two blocks away from me was mugged *on their own front porch* after midnight. Yes, I do get to judge them, if they are making me uncomfortable. As has been said by others more cogent than I, "I set my own risk tolerance."ReplyDelete
-And now you are trying to correlate your bad neighborhood of crackheads with a simple circumstance of flirting in an elevator. Hardly the same thing I think. But in any case it doesn't matter....whatever your opinion on what is appropriate/inappropriate, especially regarding a flirting incident, is your OPINION. That's it. You don't get to say whether the situation was wrong or right, appropriate or inappropriate. What if Rebbecca had taken him up on his offer and did go to his room? Would it still be inappropriate in your eyes? Despite the mutual agreement between the two?
I'm not trying to ask this in a confrontational manner, although it may sound like it. I'm genuinely curious as to your perspective on the following questions:
Do you think it's possible for a woman to be hit on like that (after a night of drinking, a polite request in an elevator), and for her to say yes, and still be a feminist? In other words, are there times when it is acceptable to be "objectified" in that manner? Does it depend on the woman, or is it fundamentally wrong?
@Mamba24: "I'm saying that if it were a different kind of women in this position(not Rebbecca), this women might react totally different and hold the opinion that it isn't inappropriate. In these kind of situations nobody is right or wrong, it's just a matter of different preferences for intimate lifestyles."ReplyDelete
Well, no, actually. The majority of women, not just Rebecca, would feel that, due to the location and time of day and that it's a stranger asking, the situation has some potential to escalate into something really unpleasant, even dangerous. So, almost any woman would end up feeling uncomfortable. It's not a matter of different intimate lifestyles, but of proposition situations that have the potential to be scary, vs. proposition situations that don't have a fear-of-violence factor.
Now, it's not that the guy who makes a proposition in a scary-potential situation is "wrong" (unless of course, he does have some criminal plan in mind). It's that he's made the woman feel uncomfortable, probably totally without meaning to, which is bad in two ways:
1) She's less likely to attend events where she also experiences unpleasant, scary situations, and
2) The guy has now repelled, even frightened, someone he was trying to attract. So he won't be able to meet/date her.
I mean, if a strange man walked up to me as I was getting into my car in a deserted parking lot at night, and asked me out or even more openly made advances, I would run like hell. Wouldn't even bother to answer, would get the hell out of there or mace him or whatever. Trapped in an elevator, you don't have that option, so it may be even scarier.
So, as I say, nothing wrong with propositions or flirting, or other romantic approaches. Just consider whether the situation is favorable to not scaring the object of your affections. And, it's far, far easier not to scare someone if you two are not strangers.
"Rebecca expressed those preferences (not to be constantly rebuffing sexual come-ons) in a public talk that afternoon which this man attended. She then proceeded to further discuss the issue at the bar, where this man was also present. Her Preferences were thoroughly Expressed. But hey, her right not to be bothered was trumped by his right to score."ReplyDelete
-There are no such things has rights "not to be bothered", or rights "to score". You don't have a right to "not be flirted with". Maybe this guy thought it was appropriate to flirt with her? Idk. Maybe he thought he had sparked up enough conversation where he felt comfortable making a move.
"THIS is the sexism that has many people riled up."
-It's not sexism simply because a guy made a move. Just because she didn't like the "invitation", doesn't mean that the guy was a sexist.
"Not that he tried to score, but that when Rebecca said she didn't like it, and pointed out he should have *known* she wouldn't like it, every Gentle Scholar on the internets jumped in hollering about their right to try and talk women into bed, anytime, anywhere."
-And that's all she had to say. Then the two went their separate ways. It doesn't make anyone a sexist for merely expressing an opinion, an opinion that it's entirely up to the two people in that elevator as to whether or not it's appropriate, not us.
This implies that the only reason these Scholars want women around is so they can use their vaginas. And that. Is. Sexist.
This type of thing fuels my misanthropy.ReplyDelete
Something that could (and should) stimulate debate and examination turns into a puerile shouting match with participants on both sides accomplishing absolutely nothing but to cause an unnecessary divide. I don't believe either "side" has handled this nonsense well...
And for the record: The "nonsense" I'm referring to are the type and tone of the responses, not the content to which it refers.
I think feminism is a lot like Christianity, in that everyone seems to have their own version. There are a few major schools of thought, but rarely does any one individual feminist subscribe to all of them.ReplyDelete
I personally am a Sex Positive Feminist, so perhaps some will think my position on this issue is inconsistent. I am willing to concede that.
By my sex-positive lights, if a person is presented with an opportunity for a mutually satisfying sexual encounter, there is no moral reason they shouldn't indulge. However, all of that depends on the individuals involved and the context.
I personally, for reasons I've expressed above, could never be comfortable with this kind of come-on. I might find the person interesting, perhaps even attractive, but this sort of approach would leave me very cold, because I wouldn't feel the other person cared about me beyond the possibility of a sexual encounter. In my experience, such people make for selfish, and occasionally dangerous, sex partners.
That doesn't mean any other woman might not find such abrupt bluntness appealing, and find the semi-anonymity thrilling. I'm not those women. And most importantly, neither in this case was Rebecca, and this PARTICULAR man had reason to KNOW that.
THAT is my objection. He didn't seem to take into account her attitude, the time, her tiredness, her isolation, any of the many, evident factors that could have told him she wasn't interested WITHOUT asking. Was she trying to make eye contact? Still laughing or smiling from the bar? Or was she slumped in the corner looking like she wanted to crawl into bed? Rebecca says she presented much more as the latter.
This is a nuanced situation, not a blatant example of sexism. (The response has been blatantly sexist.) It is the implied baggage of such encounters, and the well-known personal history of the woman in this case that makes it so obvious to me that this man just didn't really CARE how she felt. I hope I've expressed my feelings clearly.
internet drama, this is as bad as fox news. the people keeping close watch on everybody's reactions and posts need to go outside.ReplyDelete
Sounds like dawkins was trollin, LOL!! just goes to show anybody can troll.
@dhawk, I'd like to answer too.ReplyDelete
"Do you think it's possible for a woman to be hit on like that (after a night of drinking, a polite request in an elevator), and for her to say yes, and still be a feminist? In other words, are there times when it is acceptable to be "objectified" in that manner?"
Yes. I think so. Some women may well welcome and accept such an advance, but it's much more *likely* to happen in a situation that does not have any possible-violence potential.
And when you're not strangers, have never even spoken a word to each other. Women may sometimes accept such an advance, but I think it's a lot more likely that most will immmediately become very wary of you. Going any place private with a strange guy is very dangerous.
And, there were things that were special to Rebecca's case, like that she'd said she was tired and wanted to sleep. And that she'd just given a talk about the kinds of things that made her uncomfortable. This guy didn't listen to her, apparently---suggests that he may not listen to her when she says other things, like "No".
"Well, no, actually. The majority of women, not just Rebecca, would feel that, due to the location and time of day and that it's a stranger asking, the situation has some potential to escalate into something really unpleasant, even dangerous. So, almost any woman would end up feeling uncomfortable. It's not a matter of different intimate lifestyles, but of proposition situations that have the potential to be scary, vs. proposition situations that don't have a fear-of-violence factor."ReplyDelete
-And if they hold this opinion, then they are justified in doing so. But from what I've heard, it wasn't a "total stranger", I thought he met her at the bar and event as well. We can't sit here and presume to understand how well acquainted they were. But you can't sit there and tell me that people never hook up with strangers, or with people they barely know. Anything could escalate into something dangerous or unpleasant. If the women feels this way, then do what Rebbecca did and deny the guy. If some women, however rare you think it might be, think the opposite, who are you to deem it as appropriate or inappropriate then?
@Mamba24, no, the guy at sat at the bar all night, but he and Rebecca hadn't spoken a word to each other. They were strangers to each other.ReplyDelete
I don't deem it inappropriate for anyone to hook up with anyone they like. I'm saying that it's much more likely that women will find a proposition made by a stranger in a potentially-scary situation to be uncomfortable, not welcome. Of course, some women will like such an advance, but I'm saying that a majority won't. And, it's better that good guys know that, because otherwise they'd just be repelling women without even knowing that they're doing so.
Anything could escalate into danger or unpleasantness, but it's a lot more likely to when 1) the situation is such that you can't get away or call for help, should that be necessary, and 2) you've never even exchanged a word with someone before you go off alone with them to a private place. You literally can't know beforehand if they're an axe murderer or your own undiscovered true love.
I'm glad you agree that it's nuanced. I also agree that many, but not all, of the comments display blatant sexism. I do however, disagree that it is obvious that "this man just didn't really CARE how she felt." As I mentioned earlier, I think it's much more likely an example of social awkwardness than callous disregard for her feelings.
Maybe this is part of the reason why so many men have had an issue with this. A lot of men find it intimidating to hit on someone. It's embarrassing to be rejected, and working up the courage to ask can take a lot of time, and a lot of alcohol.
I can easily imagine the situation going like this: He was shy and awkward, and sat around listening in on the conversations Rebecca was having with others, too scared to try to strike up his own. He kept waiting for the perfect opportunity to talk to her, just talk to her, but it never presented itself. He kept drinking and kept waiting, but when Rebecca said she was going to leave, he decided that he had to at least try once. So he tried to catch up with her and in the elevator, tries to strike up that conversation at the last minute. To prove he wasn't just interested in sex, he began with, "Don't take this the wrong way, but..." And proceeded to get rejected.
We'll never be able to get into his head and figure out what was going on. Certainly there are men out there who don't care about the feelings of others, but there are lots of men like the fictional one I described, including me, who are simply so terrified of approaching someone they're interested in, that it takes all of their courage just to do anything at all. And often what comes out is off-putting and occasionally creepy.
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And to reiterate, my point is not that he wasn't off-putting, or that he shouldn't have done things differently, or that there aren't things guys could learn about how to be more successful at approaching women. All of those things are true. What I don't agree with though, is that he is necessarily a misogynist, or that he was (maliciously and callously) sexually objectifying Rebecca.ReplyDelete
And let's be clear, Rebecca didn't call him a misogynist in her video, but her later responses certainly implied it, when she pointed out that there is a difference between sexual attraction and sexual objectification, which "involves dismissing a person’s feelings, desires, and identity, with a complete disinterest in how one’s actions will affect the “object” in question."
As a male who realizes that we are living in a male dominated society, a question has formed in my head as I have been reading about this event.ReplyDelete
Is it ever appropriate to say or do something that you know can be offensive, or more importantly, threatening to some women? Not just at a convention, but anywhere in life? Not just at 4am, but at any time? Not just in an elevator, but in any location? Not just with a total stranger, but even someone you know?
I appreciate your comments here but I feel compelled to take exception. To describe this behavior as sexist (as Rebecca Watson did, that was the point) is a serious charge because sexism is hurtful. I don't see that the "elevator guy" simply posing an invitation for an intimate encounter is hurtful or shows entitlement. Clumsy and clueless sure, but in my estimation, not sexist. As for Dawkins, I wish his comments weren't so harsh, but I agree with the basic point that EG did nothing wrong. I've read many of the complaints carefully including yours and I still am left with the question, "Yes, but what did he actually do that was so bad?"ReplyDelete
I say disemvowel anyone who makes the following arguments:ReplyDelete
1. "He only asked to have a coffee..."
2. "Rebecca Watson overeacted by crying sexual assault"
3. "A 70 year old man mocking a 30 year old woman for rejecting a proposition is totally defensible".
4. "I'm so sexually frustrated that the mere hint that a woman can reject sex means I will never get laid".
5. "Ignore all the context of what happened, this is reverse sexism".
Rebecca Watson pointed out the irony (with a slight smirk) that a man hit on her just after giving a speech about how that makes her uncomfortable. Disemvowel these fools for the betterment of humanity.
For the record, I get that it's "inappropriate at 4am in an elevator...". So fine - it's inappropriate, but I don't see the sexism argument. Am I entitled to that view as an open minded person?ReplyDelete
Ok, this is how I see it:ReplyDelete
1)A guy acted like a jerk;
2)It blew out of proportion because hey, it's the interwebs;
3) Misanthropy is still rooted in our culture, because...why, now?
Which I don't understand very much. Sure the guy was a jerk, but where's the connection between what he did and our "male dominated way of thinking"? I'm absolutely positive it exists (and I'm ashamed to say I have perceived it in myself sometimes), but I don't understand how this particular issue relates to the greater problem.
But I'm not sure, and I'd greatly appreciate being corrected in the issue if I'm wrong.
The problem is that you can never know for sure how your actions will be received. Again, I'm not excusing bad behavior, but what works for some people doesn't for others. Some men could stand to learn which actions are very unlikely to work for anyone at any time, but nevertheless, it's never as cut-and-dried as you imply.
I certainly hope 4) wasn't directed at me. If so, I'm sincerely confused.
Dawkins really needs to take stock of his thinking and apologize. Any attempt to change the will of another is an act of violence. Manipulating a situation to alter the dynamic of another person's thought process certainly qualifies. Everyone from parents to judges do this unconsciously so it doesn't surprise me that so many people were wrong on this subject. This is a fight that has to happen even though it's between friends, just think of it as shooting out your best friend's tires to keep him from driving drunk.ReplyDelete
@hannanibal - flirting is fine. Propositioning is fine. That's not the issue.ReplyDelete
If I am alone on an elevator at 4am, and a man I have never spoken a word to before in my life gets on and says 'hey, I find you interesting, want to come back to my room for a coffee?" here's what goes through my head:
1. I don't know this man, but he seems to know me. Which could mean that
2. He has been watching me, which could mean that
3. He's shy, and didn't want to approach me in front of people and risk embarrassment or
4. He's been watching me and waiting until I am alone, which could mean that...
and so on. In any case, I'm going to feel a tad creeped out. If we had been chatting throughout the evening, then no... his invitation would make more sense and not be perceived as creepy.
Real life example... I went to a party once, and there was this guy there. I said hello to him in introduction, and didn't speak to him the rest of the night (he didn't speak to anyone, not even his date really - I assumed he was shy). When he began emailing me a few days later, all friendly and chatty and asking me out... creepy.
That was her point - hey guys, approaching a woman in this manner is likely to make her feel creeped out, so don't go about it that way. And if women attending conferences are experiencing things like this, they'll likely not bother attending anymore. That's all.
She spoke about it because it illustrated the point she was making - here's an example of what NOT to do if you want women to feel comfortable and not as if they are being sexualized because they happen to be female in an environment that is primarily male.
EG may not have viewed her as an object - he may have been an awkward guy. Her point is that approaching a woman you've never spoken to and inviting her up to your hotel room for 'coffee' (at 4am, when she is separated from the herd so to speak) is likely to make her FEEL sexualized, rather than respected, whether or not that was EG's intention.
I agree with what you're saying, but again, Rebecca went far beyond what you said. She didn't say she felt sexualized, she said that he sexualized her. She also went on in later posts at length about sexual objectification, the complete disregard for her feelings, etc., as well as accusing another woman, who self-identifies as a feminist, of parroting "ancient anti-woman rhetoric."
Those actions, not the fact that she felt uncomfortable, are what I find discouraging about how Rebecca handled this.
On the other hand, Richard Fucking Dawkins taking his time to make a sarcastic comment on a blog about how she's just whining and should be glad because things could be much worse is really, really strange. I honestly kind of don't believe it.ReplyDelete
@dhawk said: And let's be clear, Rebecca didn't call him a misogynist in her video, but her later responses certainly implied it, when she pointed out that there is a difference between sexual attraction and sexual objectification, which "involves dismissing a person’s feelings, desires, and identity, with a complete disinterest in how one’s actions will affect the “object” in question."ReplyDelete
Right. Let's assume that EG was socially awkward, shy, too nervous to make his move and chat with her at the bar. She was leaving, and he saw his chance. Okay, fine. Here's the point though, assuming that is all true (and we have no idea, of course) - EG was still completely focused on what HE wanted... not how SHE might feel about it, or perceive it. Fine if you're shy and all, but you do need to think about how your actions (no matter how innocent they may be) are going to appear.
I had to explain this to a friend of mine with Asperger's. He got in trouble at school because he was staring at girls in his class, and they were getting really creeped out by it. He had no bad intentions, he just had no idea that this would make them feel uncomfortable, or objectified. He got it, and he stopped doing it.
Sorry, but regardless of EG's intentions and politeness, asking her back to his room after no other conversation or contact at all gives the impression that he saw her as a sexual object, and nothing more. He may not have felt that way at all... but that's certainly the impression he gave her.
@dhawk we cross-commented :) I get what you're saying.ReplyDelete
Comments were tl;dr so apologies if this has been said already: Jen has already offered to sit down and explain to Richard what he fails to get.ReplyDelete
As for those who have read the comments at Pharyngula and the posts by Rebecca, Jen, and Amanda Marcotte, and still find themselves critical of Rebecca or defensive of Elevator Guy: These people should be shamed and shunned until they educate themselves and change their minds, or they should go away.* Just as homophobes and racists are not welcome, it's time for the atheism/sceptical community to take a firm stand against sexism. If we want to uphold patriarchy, we might as well buy into religion.
*(The same goes for the "fratboys" here and on the AE chat--why aren't you banning the sexists the same way you would ban white supremacists or gay bashers? It's been discussed on here before, but it's just same old same old week after week.)
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I think you're conflating what are two separate issues. I fully maintain that Rebecca is perfectly valid in feeling however she felt---her thoughts and feelings are hers alone.ReplyDelete
The point of contention for me is whether this is an expression of misogyny in the culture that EG internalized. I don't think so.
I'm gay, and have a small build, and I have had several encounters with similarly clueless guys. I have been "objectified" quite often, and been made uncomfortable by much bigger men. This obviously has nothing to do with sexism, but just the background social friction between sexual people.
I acknowledge that historically and still today, women have to deal with misogyny, but even if all misogyny were eradicated, there would still be objectification and clueless people who act creepy. There will always be awkward and unintentionally creepy guys, gay and straight.
Ah yes. I see now that we cross-commented. Disregard the remark about conflating the issues.
To follow up with what dhawk said: I'm a straight male of slight build and I've been propositioned by gay men bigger than me in ways that made me feel "creeped out", but I don't hold it against them. They were just awkwardly expressing desires that are perfectly human.ReplyDelete
Dhawk: I wouldn't necessarily use the term "culture of misogyny" as I might "culture of male entitlement." And the privilege aspect keeps popping up whenever a man posts a comment to the effect of "I got propositioned once and it weren't no thing...natural urges yada yada." Again, as males, rejecting an unwanted sexual advance is less likely to be attended by the possibilty your rejected suitor might get pissed, and respond with physical force to get what he wants. And yes, while Rebecca made it clear she didn't have this fear in regards to Elevator Guy, on general terms, the fact is that women have no good way to tell who might turn from Nice Guy to Crazy Raper and who won't. Men don't face this threat, so it's taken less seriously when women express it.ReplyDelete
Ibis: The banhammer has often been employed in AE chat against sexist pricks. But there are always more where that one came from.ReplyDelete
@Martin: The point is that EG didn't actually do anything threatening. It simply isn't fair to put that on him if he didn't behave that way. And small guys do have to worry about sexual assault if a gay man is of that mind.ReplyDelete
I disagree. Gay men are far more promiscuous, and so gay men are more likely to assume that you'd be interested in sex if they're attractive. And gay rape happens all the time---as a gay male with a slight build, I have to be very aware of this when I go to clubs alone.
On the other hand, skeptical and rational people attending a conference seem more likely than the general populace to be aware and sensitive of feminist issues, even if they don't always understand them or put them into practice appropriately. I'm not saying she her fears were misplaced. This is about to what extent EG's actions are explained by normal human interactions versus misogyny.
edit: normal human interactions versus "male entitlement."ReplyDelete
I haven't read the whole thread yet--past history suggests that I'll do so eventually--but it seems there may be some cluelessness going on. There are two aspects to this problem that should be plainly obvious to everyone, and yet I've only seen one of them clearly illustrated:ReplyDelete
1. Cornering someone in an elevator to proposition them is creepy. I'd go so far as to say that "talking to a stranger when you're the only ones in the elevator late at night" is edging toward creepy territory, but I may have absorbed too much of the "stranger danger" as a kid. Regardless, saying "I think you're interesting, want to come to my room?" to a stranger at 4 AM in a foreign country after waiting until they were alone in a closed space reeks of vaguely predatory creepiness.
2. Taking Elevator Guy at his word--that is, assuming that "coffee" wasn't a stand-in euphemism for what "coffee" often is a stand-in euphemism for--the situation is still, at the very least, belittling and insulting. "I'm tired, it's late, I'm going to bed," says one person. "Hey, would you like to come to my room and drink a caffeinated drink people often imbibe to wake themselves up?" is a fucking bonehead suggestion. More importantly, it's a suggestion that says "I either didn't pay attention when you expressed your desires/wishes a moment ago, or I don't care what your desires/wishes are."
And that's where the "threatening" bit becomes a little more obvious. Someone who is either unaware or apathetic enough to ignore the skeeviness of following a single woman into an elevator, so he can proposition her and she can't get out, who is further unaware or apathetic enough about her own desires that he would suggest the precise opposite of what she said she wanted to do, may reasonably be someone ignorant or apathetic enough about your desires and personal security that they would follow you further, say, to your room door, or that they would ignore your desire to decline their bonehead offer.
As to the Stef McGraw bit, I think Rebecca addressed that well here. I agree with PZ that naming names and citing specific examples is exactly what people should be doing, and failure to do so was a large part of what made Phil's DBAD speech last year such a passive-aggressive, strawman-laden annoyance.
As much as I hate to say it: I'm with Richard on this, if only in the sense that I really just don't get it.ReplyDelete
Honestly, I don't get either side. And I'm trying. I really am!
I don't get the people vilifying Ms. Watson, who, as far as I can tell from her video, was expressing that she doesn't personally appreciate being hit on in elevators. She wasn't presuming to speak for every woman. She says as much herself at the beginning of the video. I'm sure there are women who wouldn't find this creepy (I asked some female friends who said they wouldn't) and so that to me is fine.
But I also don't get the side that is leaping to Ms. Watson's defense by saying that any interaction with a new man should be viewed as a potential sexual assault. I am, in fact, insulted by that. I am not a sexual predator and I find the statement that I should be approached as one as insulting as I imagine they would find me approaching every woman I meet as a potential sexual encounter. I don't, and I'm actually quite incensed that they apparently do. I haven't heard this opinion from Ms. Watson, but like I said, from her defenders.
An elevator is not a rape box, but decrying someone merely for stating a preference not to be hit on is stupid too.
Like I said, I guess I just don't get this whole thing. I swear I'm trying though, and I'll keep reading about it until I do.
I addressed what it is I disliked about Rebecca's response.
"[Rebecca] didn't [just] say she felt sexualized, she said that he sexualized her. She also went on in later posts at length about sexual objectification, the complete disregard for her feelings, etc., as well as accusing another woman, who self-identifies as a feminist, of parroting "ancient anti-woman rhetoric."
Those actions, not the fact that she felt uncomfortable, are what I find discouraging about how Rebecca handled this."
"No one is vetoing your thoughts and feelings. I'm not even sure where you got that."
From the penultimate paragraph of your 'required reading' link, of course, where it's rather bluntly presented.
I have no quarrel with your other point about the cumulative (anti-)social effects of sexism and how it presents obstacles to the fuller participation of women in our various shared causes.
But this whole "Privilege" rhetoric smacks of an attempt to re-brand and deploy the concepts of ThoughtCrime and Class Guilt in service to one kind of gender politics... and I will have none of it.
"Of course it is. And it would have been great if he's flirted with her at the well attended social event of like minded people, rather than, oh, let's just say... in a deserted elevator."
I agree... with one caveat.
There is nothing sinister, methinks, in preferring an audience of one for romantic or sexual propositions. There are some things better left unsaid (let alone undone) in front of a crowd. Private settings have their uses.
Where EG erred was in his lack of flirting, in any setting. No doubt being deep in his cups had much to do with that, but if a man's first-ever words to a young lady are literally some variation of "Have sex with me," he is asking for trouble.
I don't know if this might add perspective or not. But I work with international project teams, organizing them for work on projects. And part of my job (which required a tough professional certification that I just achieved), requires that I understand cultural sensitivity and be able to brief my team members about what is and isn't appropriate with certain other teams in certain other nations via cultural norms and customs.ReplyDelete
That being said, let's say I have a team coming from Asia or India, and they are going to be stateside for a few months, and one of the men queries me and asks, "I hear women in the U.S. are more sexually liberal. Is it culturally acceptable to approach women I don't know and proposition them for sex?"
Seriously guys...SERIOUSLY? Here's a clue: If you think the answer to that is "yes"--you might be a creep.
Knowing that there is a mountain of research that demonstrates women in the U.S. are not generally comfortable with overt sexual solicitation from men they don't know, I HAVE to tell him this is not a culturally normative behavior. And that doing such a thing runs a high risk of offending an American female.
I think what stuns me is that when I see the sociology models that attempt to explain why women view sexual aggression negatively, and men view it more positively, I'm not surprised they're looking for theories to explain that phenomena, because it's such an obvious cultural reality that it can't be missed--or so I thought. I thought as a society we were all aware this makes women generally uncomfortable and that it's not a normal behavior. In fact, this is why I, personally, find it creepy. I don't feel threatened by it, I just feel uncomfortable dealing with a person so boundary impaired that he doesn't seem to even realize the obvious reality of prevailing women's attitudes in the culture he's been immersed in and grown up in all his life. He's just weird in an inexplicable way. And I only want him to go away and stop focusing his weirdness on me. That's uncomfortable whether it's "scary" or not. It's like a fan who starts writing me love notes every week. It's _abnormal_ and creepy. I don't call the cops, but I REALLY, REALLY want the letters stopped.
As far as "Victorian" attitudes--how is the fact that cultures have gender roles--all cultures everywhere, throughout time--evidence of prudishness? You can't be an insensitive clod and disregard the common sexual scripts that women in your culture use, ergo you're being sexually stifled? Ignoring social convention and social norms and mores means you're interpreted as an asshole by the people who encounter your (culturally/socially unacceptable) behavior. How do the men who aren't inconsiderate asses manage to get dates? Apparently it can be done...? Do you really think that if you can't go the asshole route, then there's no other route available? Is "weirdo" the only tool in your box for addressing women you "like"? You can't be a creep, so that's the end of all flirting for you--even the many, many, many socially and culturally inoffensive and acceptable varieties?
The only moderately reasonable argument i'm hearing in support of watson here is that the situation COULD have escalated into something unpleasant in a very hypothetical what/if/then scenario (based it seems, on allot of conjecture about the guy being drunk and strait out propositioning for sex which wasn't mentioned by watson at all), so I propose a thought experiment (which I think george and dhawk just hit at).ReplyDelete
As a guy, i'm walking home from a restaurant at 10pm. A stranger who is physically larger than me comes up to me on the street and ask me for a light for his cigarette. Has the stranger been inappropriate or threatening? After all, we aren't on common ground, I don't know this guy, he's physically larger than me so he could overpower me and take my wallet. If you don't think this is an outwardly threatening situation (or at least admit that the perceived threat is entirely in your head rather than anything the other party has actually done) then I don't see how this situation changes by simply making one of the roles female. You just can't get from wild whatif scenarios in your head leading that “i found the situation threatening” to “what he actually did was a misogynist sexist and/or objectified me”
I dunno, maybe its an American convention, but I tend to think going through life with the assumption that everyone else around you (particularly if they're a different race, gender, etc) is out to mug and rape you is insanely paranoid.
The reason there's a difference when one of the actors is female is that in almost every instance, any man can physically overpower any woman he wants to, whereas a male victim has better odds of giving back as good as he gets, if nothing else. Women are acutely aware of this power imbalance, and the fact that while an assailant may go after a male victim's wallet, he'll probably go after a female victim's wallet and vagina.ReplyDelete
No one's talking paranoia here, but it is simply a fact that someone who belongs to a group more likely to find themselves victimized (chicks) will tend to be more wary of encounters with strangers than those less likely to be victimized (dudes).
Sure sure. As a generalisation your more or less right, but but we're not talking about generalisations here. In my particular scenario, I specifically said that the stranger asking for a cigarette was large enough that he would overpower me if he wished. In that particular hypothetical, can I make the logical jump from “I felt threatened” to “He actually took threatening actions against me and was therefore in the wrong”ReplyDelete
I agree, women are more likely to be victimised or harassed. I get that. However, I don't get that from this situation. The guy asked her to coffee, she said no, he walked away. That should have been the end of the story, but it wasn't. At this point she decided to make a public example of the guy at conference and accuse him of talking actions and being a fault for things that as far as I can see existed only as thoughts and feelings in her own mind. This comes in my view very close to blasphemy law.
i agree with Rebecca and PZ that it was stupid and there are better ways to get laid (if that was his intentions at all) i disagree that RD has to apologize for his comments, is really not a big deal to ask somebody for a coffe. My opinion is that in USA women see men as potential rapists and in Europe (at least Germany and probably England) as other human beings. Here to talk to an other person and even asking them to have a coffe is ok as long as if you say no tuey respect you. But then you can go top-lees at our lakes which also have nudist areas, our very frecuented saunas mixed and everyone is naked... i think we have different sexual cultures and that's why RD, myself and many others dont see what the whole point is about.ReplyDelete
Oh my word. This. Is. Ridiculous.
This has come so far and got so heated that I would be surprised if certain guys at TAM9 make 4AM elevator propositions just to piss people off.
Before you start, I'm not advocating that heinous course of action I'm just sayin' it will happen.
On a side note I love how the bottom of this blog says "This blog encourages believers who disagree with us to comment. " Yet YOU are the first one with the insults and then threatening people with the banhammer. Fail.
Speaking as a woman- Martin,et.all, thank you! Based on your responses I might be heading to an ACA meeting fairly soon. I live in the Austin area, have followed the show for some time, and have toyed around with attending some events but it has long been standard practice for me to avoid atheist get togethers because of situations similar to the EG example.ReplyDelete
And to the guys that don't get it; it's not just being hit on in an elevator at 4am that's at issue. That's just a means of opening a dialogue. It's really just the tip of the iceberg as to why more women don't participate publically in the atheist community. I myself have had my own opinions belittled or ignored only to have the be reiterated by men later to the fanfare of their brethren. I'm certain it's not intentional, or else I'd have been actively offended by the behavior instead of put off, but gosh, isn't it better if you know that it sometimes happens so that you yourself can help prevent perpetuating the problem? The knee jerk reactions from the darker corners of the internet only serve to prove the point made initially by Rebecca which was, simply, please don't insist on treating someone in a specific way they JUST SAID makes them uncomfortable. Take it as a constructive experience and, for goodness sake, move on.
I get the very strong impression that you haven't read closely on this situation, that you haven't read many of the comments here.
First of all, the man did not ask Watson merely to have some coffee together. He asked her to go to his hotel room with him in the middle of the night. To assert that this wasn't a sexual proposition is like asserting that the mob at Sodom was only looking to chat with the strangers that they demanded to "know." What should be obvious here is that the coffee is irrelevant, so please stop fussing about the coffee.
Second of all, even if it were literally an offer to share coffee and nothing more, it would still have been very disrespectful and inconsiderate. Apparently, Watson had expressed that she was tired and looking to crash. It wouldn't matter if the parties in the situation were two heterosexual males. The fact that it did involve a (presumably heterosexual) male and a heterosexual female gives it a sexual edge, which reinforces the previous point.
These two points, taken together, are what strongly imply the conclusion of sexual objectification. The man wanted sex and was not only oblivious the inappropriateness of the time and place; he behaved as if Watson's feelings, which she apparently expressed verbally and clearly, did not matter, until her answer was a firm "no." No one (here, at least) is suggesting that he was likely a rapist. That would be ridiculous. However, sexual objectification is not limited to rapists. It is an attitude expressed from an assumption of power/privilege/entitlement. To assume that one may assert his/her own desires over the objections of another implies an imbalance of power in the relationship. It doesn't matter what kind of relationship it is. A spoiled child who whines to his/her parents to get something from them assumes power over them, even if that child doesn't fully understand the concept of power.
The charge of sexual objectification on the part of the "Elevator Guy" should not be controversial. Whether it is indicative of sexism may warrant further debate (as dhawk has shrewdly raised). However, this society (and many other modern societies) has a culture that enables widespread sexual objectification of women by men. At the very least, countless messages in media and in casual discourse would easily convince some men who are socially inept that sexual objectification is an acceptable way to treat women in general. That, in itself, speaks to the sexism that remains ingrained in this society, which needs to be identified, discussed, and eliminated. Where does a man, however socially inept, get the idea that he should attempt to sexually proposition a woman, to whom he has never previously spoken, in the middle of the night in an enclosed space, alone?
I would go one step further and suggest that people stop apologizing for male sexuality. I don't mean this to be misandrist. I am taking issue with the idea that men are allowed to generally sexually objectify others, because of stereotypes about the male libido. It doesn't matter if the males in question are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or pansexual. It's still wrong, and the many millions of "more evolved" men would agree. But there's still this widespread attitude of "Boys will be boys."
Speaking as a woman on the issue is fine, but the same way as your opinions shouldn't be belittled or ignored because of your gender, simply waving your gender status doesn't automatically give you carte blanch on the issues like this either. I fail to see how asking someone if they want to get a coffee equates to having your opinions belittled or ignored because of your gender. In the wider scope of gender equality, you're right, the issues go allot deeper than 'where and when somebody hit on someone else', but this particular discussion is centred around elevator guy, Rebecca Watson's (and her supporters) discussion of elevator guy and Dawkins response to Watson on the events. This post is even labelled elevatorgate. The dialogue is open, but if there are flaws with one side's opening argument in said dialogue, I think that needs to be ironed out before we move on to the next topic. This discussion is absolutely about being hit on in an elevator at 4am, and whether that actually constitutes the act of misogyny, sexism and/or objectification its been made out by some to be... and sofar I fail to see any clear demonstration that it actually is...ReplyDelete
BTW, dhawk, I don't buy your hypothesis about Elevator Guy's POV:ReplyDelete
"He was shy and awkward, and sat around listening in on the conversations Rebecca was having with others, too scared to try to strike up his own. He kept waiting for the perfect opportunity to talk to her, just talk to her, but it never presented itself. He kept drinking and kept waiting, but when Rebecca said she was going to leave, he decided that he had to at least try once. So he tried to catch up with her and in the elevator, tries to strike up that conversation at the last minute. To prove he wasn't just interested in sex, he began with, 'Don't take this the wrong way, but...' And proceeded to get rejected."
That would be plausible, except for the part where he asked her to go to his hotel room. If he were truly interested in talking with and getting to know her, then not much thought would've been required to ask her to join him for breakfast or lunch. Something like: "Hey, I think you have some very interesting views, and I'd talk some more with you about them. Do you already have plans for lunch?" All things considered, that still would've been awkward and would've still elicited a polite rejection, but it wouldn't have had such an obvious sexual undertone.
A desperate person is someone who regards the stakes as being high enough to stop and consider (at least for a moment) which courses of action might be more successful than others. If you open with, "Don't take this the wrong way, but..." then you already know that you have a potential problem. Presuming that the man was aware that Watson was in no mood to do any more talking at that time, then any partially rational person would suspect that a request for further conversation (to happen immediately) would not be well-received.
That would be plausible, except for the part where he asked her to go to his hotel room.ReplyDelete
Just curious, (genuinely, I don't really know the finer details of the events) but did this actually happen, or did he just ask nondiscriptly if she wanted to grab a coffee... I don't necessarily believe that dhawks hypothesis is correct either as he has no evidence to support it, but I can't see any indication that this is the case from martins original post, and there is more than a little baseless conjecture thats gone on in this thread about the guy being drunk or a sociopath or whatever...
"His side of the story is irrelevant. In fact, it doesn't even matter if he exists and this is entirely fictional.
This sort of thing does happen..."
Are you SERIOUS? Of course it matters whether this story is true or not! Otherwise it's just paranoid fear-mongering.
If I made up a story in which I was threatened by a black/Hispanic/Slavic guy because, hey, that stuff happens, then it could be perceived as an attempt to stir up racial hatred. Rebecca has blogged about similar issues to this before and then this story comes up and you think it's perfectly fine to take it at face value? Strange.
Until his side of the story is heard then the topic doesn't deserve discussion.
Sorry, I don't know if your post got chewwed by the spam filter by I didn't see it before.
I've read basically every comment on this thread so far, and the story seems to change and evolve each time someone makes a new post, and those changes don't seem to reflect any kind of evidentiary support. Its seems to be a lot of bad conjecture and I'll admit that I’m finding it very difficult to differentiate between what actually happened and what commentators here have invented to try and make their point sound stronger. That being the case, it isn't clear from martin's original blog post roughly stating the facts, that she was invited to his room at all.
And did Watson, make her disinterest clear prior to events in question? Perhaps I've misread the series of events, but as I understood it, she didn't say this. What she said the next day was that she found it ironic that she was hit on when she'd given a talk earlier in the day about being hit on. There is no indication at all whether this guy was at that particular talk, knew who she was (I personally couldn't pick her out of a lineup) and had been previously told by her that she was uninterested. All I get from the events described in original post is that he asked her for coffee, she said no, he left. I don't see anything on this page which supports any further conjecture on a possible hostile demeanour or his intentions and so forth. I fail to see how the facts as presented reflects a disrespectful and inconsiderate attitude in elevator guy.
The charge of sexual objectification on the part of the "Elevator Guy" should not be controversial. […] The fact that it did involve a (presumably heterosexual) male and a heterosexual female gives it a sexual edge, which reinforces the previous point. […] However, sexual objectification is not limited to rapists. It is an attitude expressed from an assumption of power/privilege/entitlement.
What about simply being attracted to someone? Does that even count for anything anymore? This redefinition of sexual objectification you've come up with basically covers any situation where a guy and a girl are in the same room. At exactly what point did simply finding someone attractive become labelled sexual objectification? How did it suddenly become sexual objectification to be attracted to someone and approach them to see if they wanna hang out or something? I mean, is there any male/female situation of courtship that couldn't be considered sexual objectification under your definition? Can you give me an example? Don't worry I might have found one based on you're very next sentience...
To assume that one may assert his/her own desires over the objections of another implies an imbalance of power in the relationship.
yeah, and that’s not what happened is it. He asked, she objected, he left. Where is the imbalance of power. Even by your own shitty useless redefinition they guy didn't objectify her.
Where does a man, however socially inept, get the idea that he should attempt to sexually proposition a woman, to whom he has never previously spoken, in the middle of the night in an enclosed space, alone?
It happens all the time. At clubs. At bookstores. At places of employment. I'm going to let you in on a little secret here ydgmdlu. People like to fuck. Men and women (in fact you should hear some of the women I work with carry on about football players and holywood actors an what not. Objectification goes both ways buddy. And I use the actual definition of objectification, not your useless redefinition) and this requires at some point, one party approaching another. Even if the guy was just looking for a one night stand as you claim (and frankly its not clear at all from the actual facts on this page at least) then I fail to see how there is anything wrong with that? At what point did wanting to be with someone sexually become such a mortal evil. What’s next, no sex before marriage? I fact, its ironic that as I reflect of many of my friends who are in long term relationships now, more than half of them started as one night stands after meeting at a bar which turned into two night stands and soforth.
I consciously try not to look intimidating even when I cross with a girl on the street, so it's really beyond me why it's so hard to understand to some people this propossal, from a men to a woman, on an elevator, at 4:00 AM in the morning, puts the woman on an uncomfortable social situation of "strategical disadvantage". I guess that, in this case, sexual dimorphism matters a lot.ReplyDelete
I still don't see how one man's inconsiderate actions somehow represent or reflect the entire male population.ReplyDelete
@Martin: They wouldn't do it if there were a clear policy ("sexually objectifying women, whether hosts on the show or not, is unacceptable, and will be met with a warning on first offence, the banhammer on the second. Sexist slurs likewise (e.g. but not limited to cunt, cow, bitch, twat)") and rigourous enforcement. It's not that difficult. More subtle sexism could then be handled in a more sophisticated way. Whatever approach you have now isn't working.ReplyDelete
@farmboy Because it wasn't an isolated incident. That very day, Rebecca's talk dealt with the issue of women at sceptical conferences being treated inconsiderately by men. The fact that there was so much blowback from this just shows that the issue of sexism among atheists/sceptics is huge and entrenched.ReplyDelete
More subtle sexism could then be handled in a more sophisticated way. Whatever approach you have now isn't working.
I don't think anyone here sofar has been sexually objectifying women or even offensive at all. It as all been a fairly reasonable discussion on whether the events in question actually qualify as sexism in the first place.
The most striking thing i've I noticed is that you haven't even attempted to address any point raised thus far by the detractors. You've simply called for the 'banhammer' of censorship. Would I therefore be correct in assuming that your definition of a sexist is simply anyone who disagrees with you?