Oh hell, is Elevatorgate going to ruin TAM9?


“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.

Comments

  1. says

    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.

  2. Martin says

    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.

  3. says

    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.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.

  4. says

    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.

  5. says

    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.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.

  6. says

    Briefly: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?! :)

  7. says

    @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.

  8. Martin says

    Matt: Yeah, I'll be Jimmy Olsening the thing, just for you. :-)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.

  9. says

    Carlos…you should have just stopped after: "I can completely understand why Rebecca would feel threatened"…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/

  10. says

    I think we are missing the point here.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

  11. says

    "… the boneheadedness of which stupefies everyone (except, of course, the clueless doof brigade"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.

  12. says

    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!I've been propositioned. I never thought the person sexist for doing so or felt the need to mention it publicly.

  13. says

    Thanks for posting, Martin. 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? ;)

  14. says

    This is the first I've heard about this, and this post is all I've read about it.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."

  15. says

    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. 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?

  16. Martin says

    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.

  17. says

    Holy crap Martin. You seem to be the first person to articulate this. *virtual high five*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.

  18. says

    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? 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.

  19. says

    Carlos, you're off the hook. You were just well-meaning and a little sloppy.hannanibal, on the other hand, is a properly clueless buffoon.

  20. says

    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.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.

  21. Martin says

    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.

  22. says

    hannanibal: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.

  23. says

    Ad hominen attack. Way to go Matt. No explanation eh just straight into the insults.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."

  24. says

    This is starting to remind me of the thread where the guy made the backhanded compliment to Jen."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."

  25. says

    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.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.

  26. says

    @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. 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.

  27. says

    It's not a trivial thing, nor found offensive only by the overly-sensitive.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.

  28. says

    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.

  29. says

    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?

  30. says

    Martin "giving in to wanton passion",LOL. Mate, you need to get out more if you think propsitioning someone is giving in to wanton passion.

  31. says

    Matt,"Diversity issues?"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.

  32. says

    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!

  33. says

    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.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.

  34. says

    @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.

  35. says

    @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.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.

  36. says

    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.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.

  37. says

    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."

  38. says

    @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.

  39. says

    @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.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).

  40. says

    @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.

  41. says

    Wow."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.

  42. says

    To those who say that what this guy did "isn't that bad."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 guy2) She politely points out that this was creepy, and advises guys to not do this, because it is creepy3) A bunch of guys come out of the woodwork to say that she is WRONG and it is NOT CREEPY AT ALL OMG4) 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 conferences6) rinse, repeatYou 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.

  43. says

    Like others have said if the woman asked the man or the woman agreed to the proposition nobody would be bothered.And if creationism were true no one would mind it taught in schools. So? That's not what happened.

  44. says

    Okay, so sounds like he wasn't a rapist and she isn't a feminazi. 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.

  45. says

    @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.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.

  46. says

    @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.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.

  47. says

    @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. 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.

  48. says

    @Alexrkr7 She wasn't propositioned for straight sex, without introduction EVERY day. Just once in an elevator.@DorkmanI 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.

  49. says

    @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.

  50. says

    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.

  51. says

    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.

  52. says

    @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. 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.

  53. says

    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.

  54. says

    @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.So answer my question; I'll make it more broad as it more analogous. Would you be ok with being sexualized constantly?

  55. says

    @RorschachA 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.

  56. says

    A social event attended by like-minded people is probably the best place to flirt with someone in my opinion.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.

  57. says

    @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.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.

  58. says

    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. 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.

  59. says

    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.

  60. says

    Perhaps this should be a major topic at TAM. 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".

  61. says

    @hannanibalIf 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?"

  62. says

    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.

  63. says

    Alexrkr7So 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.

  64. says

    Rebecca is rightDawkins is wrongNot 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.

  65. says

    @KazimThey 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?).

  66. says

    @ 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.

  67. says

    @RorschachProstitution is illegal where I live. Asking women back for coffee is not. That's why I don't agree with your example.

  68. says

    @hannanibal she does get that all the time, and even talks about it. I don't, however, think that changes anything. 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?

  69. says

    @hannanibalThis 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."is childish"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

  70. says

    @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.

  71. says

    @BrianI 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?

  72. says

    @hannanibal"Is that what it boils down to? The elevator? Is it really that "crazy" and "creepy" and "predatory" (WTF?)."YESYESYESWHAT 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.

  73. says

    @RorschachThe 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! ;)

  74. says

    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.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.

  75. says

    @AlokonisAsking 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.

  76. says

    @hannanibal indeed. The situation is subjective, I agree. 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?

  77. says

    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?

  78. says

    @hannanibalI 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.

  79. says

    @Alexrkr7being 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.

  80. says

    @RorschachI 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?

  81. says

    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.

  82. says

    @Brian.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".

  83. says

    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. 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.

  84. says

    @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.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?

  85. says

    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.

  86. Afterthought_btw says

    First off, I completely agree with BSkrilla.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.)

  87. says

    @Matt D.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.

  88. says

    @Rorscach. 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.

  89. says

    @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).

  90. says

    @RorschachDude, 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.

  91. says

    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.

  92. says

    @JT"Recoiling disgust to a plethora of people who just don't seem to "get it" about womens' issues."Recoiling disgust? really? Get over yourself.

  93. says

    @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.

  94. says

    @RorscachI 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.

  95. says

    @hannanibalNice comeback.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.

  96. says

    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.This is an example of what I'm talking about.It isn't about that.

  97. says

    @JT"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.

  98. says

    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.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.

  99. says

    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.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.

  100. says

    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.

  101. Martin says

    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.

  102. says

    @Rorschach.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.

  103. says

    Afterthought_btwBingo, 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?

  104. says

    @Martin."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.

  105. says

    @Brian"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.

  106. says

    HannanibalAnd 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…

  107. says

    @JTAnd 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.

  108. says

    @JT"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.

  109. says

    @hannanibal- Thanks, it's always pleasing to hit that ground. It may not happen often, but it's always a pleasure when it does.

  110. Mamba24 says

    "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."-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.

  111. says

    @hannanibal: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)

  112. Martin says

    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.

  113. says

    I'm with Dawkins on this one. American women are trained to be victims and to wave it like a flag.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.

  114. Kestra says

    "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."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.

  115. says

    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.

  116. says

    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. 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.

  117. Mamba24 says

    "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?"-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.

  118. Mamba24 says

    "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."-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.

  119. says

    As a man, I need to ask all the other men here;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.

  120. Kestra says

    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.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.

  121. Mamba24 says

    "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."-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..

  122. says

    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.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.

  123. Mamba24 says

    "We aren't talking law. We are talking decorum."-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.

  124. Kestra says

    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." 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.

  125. Kestra says

    "Rebbecca has her Preferences, and she has every right to hold those."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.

  126. Mamba24 says

    "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."-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?

  127. says

    @Kestra,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?

  128. says

    @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."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, and2) 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.

  129. Mamba24 says

    "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."-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.

  130. says

    This type of thing fuels my misanthropy….seriously…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.

  131. Kestra says

    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.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.

  132. says

    internet drama, this is as bad as fox news. the people keeping close watch on everybody's reactions and posts need to go outside.Sounds like dawkins was trollin, LOL!! just goes to show anybody can troll.

  133. says

    @dhawk, I'd like to answer too."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".

  134. Mamba24 says

    "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."-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?

  135. says

    @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. 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.

  136. says

    @KestraI'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.

  137. says

    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.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."

  138. says

    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.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?

  139. says

    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?"

  140. says

    I say disemvowel anyone who makes the following arguments: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.

  141. says

    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?

  142. says

    Ok, this is how I see it: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.

  143. says

    @MAtheist, 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.@Dances_with_the_beast,I certainly hope 4) wasn't directed at me. If so, I'm sincerely confused.

  144. says

    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.

  145. says

    @hannanibal – flirting is fine. Propositioning is fine. That's not the issue.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 that2. He has been watching me, which could mean that3. He's shy, and didn't want to approach me in front of people and risk embarrassment or4. 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.

  146. says

    @Tracy,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.

  147. says

    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.

  148. says

    @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."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.

  149. says

    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.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.)

  150. says

    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.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.

  151. says

    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.

  152. Martin says

    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.

  153. Martin says

    Ibis: The banhammer has often been employed in AE chat against sexist pricks. But there are always more where that one came from.

  154. says

    @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.

  155. says

    @Martin,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.

  156. says

    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: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.

  157. says

    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.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.

  158. says

    @Erotic Crayons,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."

  159. says

    Matt,"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. *****Russell,"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.

  160. says

    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.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?Brilliant.

  161. says

    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).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.

  162. Martin says

    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.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).

  163. says

    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”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.

  164. says

    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.

  165. says

    @MartinOh 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.

  166. says

    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. 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.

  167. says

    Murphy: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."

  168. says

    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…

  169. says

    BTW, dhawk, I don't buy your hypothesis about Elevator Guy's POV:"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.

  170. says

    That would be plausible, except for the part where he asked her to go to his hotel room. 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…

  171. says

    @ Matt"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.

  172. says

    @ydgmdluSorry, 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.

  173. says

    @ydgmdluThe 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.

  174. says

    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.

  175. says

    @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.

  176. says

    @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.

  177. says

    @IbisMore 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?

  178. says

    "I mean, is there any male/female situation of courtship that couldn't be considered sexual objectification under your definition?"Good catch, Murphy.It's an example of the weird, neo-Victorian sexual misandry one often finds among the self-appointed Privilege Police.It's one thing to call guys out for behavior which is boorish, disrespectful or harmful… but ydgmdlu's "objectification" goes well beyond this and presents male heterosexuality itself as the problem.

  179. says

    When Rebecca Writes:-(So many of you voiced what I had already been thinking: that this person who I always admired for his intelligence and compassion does not care about my experiences as an atheist woman and therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same. There are so many great scientists and thinkers out there that I don’t think my reading list will suffer.)I think she has gone way over the top.I feel great sympathy for Rebecca.It sounds as though she felt intimidated by the bloke in the lift.She is entitled to write what ever she wants about it.Rebecca's failure to except that a 70 year old man is gonna have a very different world view than herself is as bad a Dawkins failure to sympathize with Her.

  180. says

    @Murphy: I'm not engaging in the discussion in this thread (for the most part–I just happened to see farmboy's short post above mine & responded to that quick question) because I've already spent many, many hours on Pharyngula & Greg Laden's blog trying to educate and I'm tired. I haven't read the comments here because I don't really want to be drawn back in to what seems at this point a futile exercise. I figure that it's all been said over and over and over. If you're still having a problem understanding, there are other places for you to go to get educated. You can even read my comments on the subject where I address points raised by detractors. I was having a side discussion with Martin about the neverending overt sexism on the AE chat (what Martin calls "fratboy bullshit" in his OP).

  181. says

    Roberto Aguirre Maturana: "I consciously try not to look intimidating even when I cross with a girl on the street"Yup, me too. I would never strike up such a conversation with a girl at 4am, in a situation where she knew she couldn't escape if I turned out to be psycho.I'm a skinny guy, not too tall, and yet I'm still really aware that although I know I'm not a rapist, there's no way for a woman who doesn't know me to know that. I can't fathom other guys not getting this.And I'm fed up with people making an argument along the lines of "It the situation was reversed here, no-one would make a fuss/everyone would make a fuss". I see it when white guys say "Hey, if a bunch of white cops formed a club just for white policemen, people would cry racism, so how come black cops get away with it". And I see it when upper-middle class people moan that they're discriminated against. And again when men say "I wouldn't mind if I was getting hit on all the time!".Are they all pretending not to get it? Are they all pretending that they really think the situations are analogous?No, I don't think they are. I blame a complete failure of imagination. This is about guys making no effort to imagine what it's like to be a woman, and having to factor in fears for personal safety into dealings with guys.

  182. says

    TonyD: "Rebecca's failure to except that a 70 year old man is gonna have a very different world view than herself is as bad a Dawkins failure to sympathize with Her."An odd equivalence to make. What form exactly do you want her acceptance to take? She can 'except' it in the sense that she accepts that he has a different world view. Why does that mean she cannot attempt to discuss that view with him and change his mind? Do you mean she should just say "It's true for Dawkins, but not for me"?Dawkins actually said words to the effect of 'If I'm wrong, I'd like to know why. Kindly attempt to educated me'. If he doesn't get it due to pigheadedness, or refusal to consider the issue properly (in her opinion), then she's quite entitled to say she's lost respect for him.

  183. says

    Ahh this topic has spilled over to tAE. And they are on the side of right. Good to see. I don't know how anyone could be anything else with a working brain though really. Dawkins was way out of line and over the top. No one can reasonably back him up.There is a bit of talk at how this blew up and who's to blame etc. The problem is there's a much larger dimension to this and it's not the only event of its type.Some other things Watson has done lately are perhaps questionable (I think sometimes she forgets how big her audience is and that she's tipped over into podium politics and that carries with it certain expectations and etiquette.)but the despite all that the core subject is still Elevator Guy and the basic cause of this blowing up remains precious defensive males every time.See, Watsons initial remarks were reblogged and supported in various places. This to many people necessitated a response (the usual 'OMG what's so bad about that?!?!', 'the poor guy is probably crying somewhere. We must help him!' stuff). It's hard to explain to the already defensive but people try, sometimes nicely, sometimes not, that the discomfort in that situation is likely caused by vulnerability. Fears of sexual assault, rape etc play a part in that. This causes more responses (you know the ones 'OMG you compared a pass in an elevator to rape!!!'), foreheads are slapped and round and round it goes. People break it down to the minutiae of the incident like that's going to help (based on no information), speculate wildly, insert endless hypotheticals, personal experience and try to get an absolute ethical reading on the situation where none can really exist (the hypotheticals are the best part. 'If I hadn't cornered/scared the shit out of my current wife…', 'I'm an on call elevator repair man who doesn't get out much. How will I meet women if this is outlawed?!' etc Some people, males mostly, think damn hard about this stuff. Like, obsessively. Using information apparently osmosed from a century worth of pulp fiction and Penthouse letters).10,000 posts later no one's got any idea what anyone is talking about anymore and everyone has beat to quarters rather than attempting to comprehend anything. To recap: yes cornering a girl you've never met in an elevator is likely to go badly; yes, regardless of intent there's fear involved derived from vulnerability and the amount of sexual assault in our world; no, saying that is not equating a pass in a lift to rape (you complete idiots), no matter how many times you see the term in the same paragraph as elevator guy.Thing is, while the origins of this and the roles of the progenitors are potentially complex, and any given interlocutor might point to some line or post by someone that finally made them join in- this dust up, including I dare say Dawkins' contribution, is all comfortably at the feet of precious defensive males.I feel comfortable saying that because this has happened many times across the web in the last few years in completely unrelated settings and it always takes roughly the same shape. One blew up around cartoonist Kate Beaton not so long ago. The joke video game 'Hey Baby' caused a similar ruckus last year (or the year before) in the video game blogs. Pharyngula itself has had several around some women's reaction to things that happened at Atheist and Skeptic events.These largest ones all start the same way: a somewhat well known woman was propositioned in a way she didn't like and related these feelings, however mildly, on the internet. Doing that is a guaranteed epic shitfest every time.Many fellas might believe they are acting as rational, impartial individuals when they speak to the defense of elevator propositions or male kind in general (or to the attack of evil feminism- often the tacit enemy) in these issues. But they might want to think about that obvious pattern a little.

  184. says

    i think its great we all think we should elevate our sensitivities regarding others but we also need to keep in mind, asking someone for coffee etc can be a daunting task…esp if you r shy…if this guy thought he wants to take a chance without a lot of embarrassment ie in the middle of the conference than thats the only solution he had! i can understand it! he just took a chance! if he was someone rebecca actually found attractive, then we won't be talking about it! but just because she found him creepy doesn't mean, this way of approaching people should be outlawed

  185. says

    Team Rebecca.In the year 2011, it's hard to understand men not understanding these things, and for married men, which I believe Dawkins is (I could be mistaken), there is absolutely no excuse.I don't think this is enough of a crime to get boycotted, however, it's exactly the kind of thing that should make everyone tell him he's being a dick.

  186. says

    Many good points here since I last checked in. Why did I read all of them? What the hell is wrong with me?I only really have one thing to add, and that's the "wallet" analogy. Or specifically, it's a horrible example. Many many more people are robbed then raped. The reason the wallet analogy fails is that money is easily replaceable. Give the mugger your wallet and walk away. Rape is far far worse, and carries significant emotional baggage (and potentially physical harm). That being said, I think this charge of "everyone who disagrees is sexist" attitude is what is fueling this debate. Calling someone sexist when they actively try not to be, is only fuel for serious anger. You will never ever get through to them if you immediately start by demonizing them. They may even have a more nuanced, well thought out point then your absolutist views. I will use an analogy. I noticed a lack of black, Hispanic, or Asian people on AETV. Certainly below standard population levels. Under this ridiculous labeling that's going on, one could say the aca is racist. We could say "they're clueless", they "just don't get it", or "they don't understand how their actions are being perceived". We all know that's not true. But making that charge would certainly bring up a shitstorm. So, I think people need to be a lot more careful with their labeling of the other side.Or, we could just keep calling each other names and ride out this wave until we have 2 camps of hate. Oh wait…

  187. says

    Well said, Muzas to those people that still don't get it, or can't be bothered with following the other links, here is a quote from Rebecca that summed it up for me. This is the response she gave on 6/21 when asked if it would still have been a problem if he had hit on her in a bar at 2am, and had not asked her back to his room.In that situation it would have been merely pathetic as opposed to threatening. And before a bunch of sad sacks start whining that I’m saying it’s always pathetic when a man hits on a woman: no. It’s pathetic when someone hits on a person (who has been talking nonstop about how much she loathes the sexual advances she’s subjected to at conferences) by saying absolutely nothing to her before inviting her to his hotel room.She states that those situations can be threatening, and how pathetic it was on top of it because she had just been talking nonstop about her feelings on sexual advances.I posed a question about a hundred posts ago and I will try to condense it here.In a nutshell, is it appropriate to do something that can be threatening to a woman? There was a reply that said in part, "The problem is that you can never know for sure how your actions will be received." My line of thinking was that BECAUSE you can never know for sure how your actions will be received, it is inappropriate to do something that you know can be found threatening. Maybe I'm wrong here, but it is akin to saying …"I know you might find this threatening, but …"

  188. says

    Everyone is making a mountain out of a molehill here! I am so sick of this. I think that there was absolutely nothing wrong with RW's mention of the elevator incident, or with her plea, "Guys, don't do this." After that some other women–yes, women–chimed in with the opposite opinion (the St. Clair girl on youtube, and Stef McGraw). RW got angry and in her keynote address accused SM of "anti-women rhetoric." SM was shocked, felt defenseless (due to her less prestigious position in the skeptic community), and said so. RW chewed her out. PZ Myers and others got involved, mostly on her side. RD saw this, and posted something on PZ's blog basically saying, "A guy asked you for coffee in an elevator–no big deal. There are worst things to worry about." Now I do not think that RD said the right thing–and I especially think he did it in the wrong way. But people make mistakes, say things out of hand or without thought sometimes. It's human. Now what does RW and some other feminist skeptics do? They call him a misogynist, a racist, compare asking a girl for coffee to the threat of rape, tell RD that they will never buy another of his books nor recommend him to anyone, and that they hope his legacy crashes and burns. Above that, any time anyone (whether male or female) expresses an opinion other than that of RW and her gang, they are automatically accused of misogyny. They are way, way overreacting, in my opinion. I hope we can all just move on! Now I am personally skeptical of RW's feminism. I am not saying she's wrong, just that I am not totally convinced yet that her supposed fear of rape has much substance–at least to the level she and some others have claimed. People do overreact, and paranoia does happen and it does color how we perceive things. Where another girl might have just thought, "Awkward guy" she thought, "RAPIST! He's sexualizing me!" As far as I can tell RW was already primed to see a potential "sexualizer"–her whole speech that night was on the topic. So I am skeptical, and because of this I have been called a misogynist. Problem? I think so!

  189. says

    George From NY: 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.How is it "thoughtcrime" or "class guilt" to suggest (fairly obviously) that society affords benefits to certain groups over others in various situations? Christians have the privilege of that bubble where their beliefs are constantly affirmed, and we see how they react to the smallest infringements on that bubble (despite no such bubble existing for any other religious minority). I'm a teacher, mostly of high school, but I did a stint in grade school as well; I've seen in both places that women seem to have the privilege of not having to leave their doors open when alone with a student, or viewing every after-school study session as possible grounds for accusations of molestation or pedophilia. And men have privilege too, in other circumstances. I'd say most circumstances, frankly, based on the wage gap. Men have the privilege of not being surreptitiously groped in crowded places. Men have the privilege of not generally having to worry about being raped if they're out alone at night, or if they're on a blind date, or whatever. Men have the privilege of not generally being blamed if victimized when out alone late at night or on a blind date. Whether or not it represents paranoia, it's something that women have to consider and be aware of, and it's hard to argue with the rape statistics that underlie it (though it seems that it's less common to be raped by a stranger than by someone you know). None of that represents thoughtcrime. It doesn't even represent guilt of any sort, frankly, though people of upper classes obviously have privilege as well (I'm making enough money now that I don't have to do the math every time I use my debit card, to ensure that I have enough money to survive the week, and even at my most destitute, I never had to worry about losing my home or car). It's a matter of being aware that society offers majority groups benefits that they aren't even aware of. It's how Christians can say without irony that a billboard or a sign or some books being published is "shoving atheism down their throats"–they don't even realize how God-soaked our society is, because it panders to them. No one's making male thought a crime, no one's trying to instill guilt (okay, no one worth listening to), what the "privilege police" are trying to do is make men aware of their actions and of the benefits society awards them for being male. Rather than dismissing women's concerns out of hand because it wouldn't offend/concern/affect them.

  190. says

    I think this has been blown massively out of proportion.From watching her video, it did not seem like Rebecca was trying to make this a big deal. She told her story about the creepy guy, and then suggested (quite fairly) that guys shouldn't approach her like that (eg., alone in an elevator at 4AM). That appeared to be it.Then, apparently, it has grown rapidly into the current situation since Richard Dawkins responded. His response, while definitely insensitive, did still make a good point about much more extreme misogyny around the world.I don't think that this situation merits the "shit storm" that has been created around it.

  191. Martin says

    Dave: I agree, in my original post, that treating Dawkins as a pariah for his dumb remarks is an outrageous overreaction, and the way that Team Rebecca and Team Richard factions have been forming in the wake of what was initially a minor occurrence is the kind of "pebble into avalanche" hysteria that I don't want the skeptic community to fall victim to. Let's learn fom this as rational people and move forward, rather than allowing emotions and egos to make enemies out of one another.

  192. says

    @Ryan, my sentiments exactly–almost. Now like I said, I have no problem with RW bringing up what happened that night (the whole 1 minute in the elevator) and what she thinks about it. And yes, I don't approve of RD's involvement. Yet what I also don't approve of is RW's reaction to both SM and yes, RD too. She has this victim complex thing going on. It really bothers me when girls obsess over "creepy guys" and rape. Do I get it? Honestly, no I don't–not completely at least. I think they simply overreact most of the time. That's my opinion though–not absolute truth. I may be wrong. Like I said, I am just skeptical is all.

  193. says

    @Martin, I get what you mean. In any case, my consciousness has indeed been raised–so maybe there's some good to come from this shitstorm! I like Skepchick's blog most of the time–but like I said I am just skeptical of feminism in general, as a whole. It's difficult for me to see things from their perspective. But I will try in the future. I too believe in being rational and trying to work things out in a more civil fashion than "Team Rebecca" and "Team Richard." So we agree there.

  194. says

    I already commented over at Skepchick.org, but here's the gist:She mentioned this incident in her video, and it was no big deal. Then comments were made, exaggerating it. Then PZ picked it up, exaggerating it further. Comments ensued at PZ's blog, exaggerating it further. Then Richard Dawkins made this big way way exaggerated joke. At this point I would speculate that had Dawkins watched her video, he would never have posted anything of the kind in the first place, since he would probably have agreed that it was no big thing. But seeing that it had caused such a big wave, he misattributed that to Rebecca Watson and responded in kind. Then of course several other rounds of exaggeration ensued, culminating in this Elevatorgate post (LOVE the title!). My quick take on the whole sexism angle: We are all slaves to our hormones at least to some extent. I think that most other rational Atheists are with me when I say that we should not prosecute thought crimes. So when a male person objectifies a female person, that's no big deal at all. If this thought results in a criminal action, that's an entirely different story. Since nothing of the sort happened there, I'd say that Dawkins is right in pointing out that fact, but he's wrong in blaming Rebecca Watson for making such a big thing out of it, since she didn't … at least not at first. When she posted the Privilege Delusion post she did her part to further escalate matters.

  195. says

    A joke I found on a reddit post just now, from that great fountain of wisdom that is Jim Gaffigan: "Life is a little easier for attractive people. Think about it, if a stranger smiles at you and they’re attractive, you think, 'Oh, they’re nice.' But if the stranger’s ugly, you’re like, 'What do they want? Get away from me weirdo.'"

  196. says

    At first, I agreed with Rebecca and her supporters but now I think I'm swayed. All of this is subjective. If the elevator guy had asked a different woman in the same situation, they might have shared a night. We should not make blanket statements about what is appropriate or not based on one opinion. Consider this: Some store clerks might find it scary if a black man walked into their gas station at 4:am. Should we also ask that black men not do things that might seem scary? Of course not. This was a socially awkward guy who chose a not-so-good time/ place to hit on a woman. It would have made her uncomfortable no matter were it happened. Bottom line, he did not grab her, follow her, or harass her. He was harmless and she over reacted. Could he have a rapist? Sure. As sure as the black guy could have been a burglar. But he wasn't. That, to me is the key. You can't treat people as if they are guilty of some crime before you have reason.

  197. says

    "Dawkins was way out of line and over the top." (Muz)Dawkins is not the one announcing some kind of half-assed excommunication of someone who merely said something that pissed him off. Dawkins showed poor understanding and said something stupid. Watson, on the other hand, is acting like he not only ran over her puppy, but put his car in reverse and backed over it again to finish the job.Now let me make this crystal clear, lest it not be: Dawkins was callously dismissive of Watson. He was wrong. He should acknowledge it and apologize to her.A genuine, personal apology is Watson's due, as she was the wronged party. But her apparent sense of entitlement and lese majeste results instead in a ritualistic purging all things Dawkins from her environs – She won't buy or read his books! Or attend his lectures! Or recommend them to anyone else!(I'm sure the world-famous science author, educator and Royal Society Fellow is just shattered at having been banished from the Imperial Watsonian Presence. No more naked SkepChick calendars for him!)That, Muz, is "way out of line and over the top."

  198. says

    George from NY: Why is that out of line or over the top? I won't buy "Religulous" or attend Bill Maher's talks, because I think his comments on medicine and science are completely balls-out nuts. Last I saw, Rebecca was stating her decision, not saying that others should do the same, not putting out a call to all atheists and skeptics for a big Dawkins boycott. On the contrary, she thanked people in the post for trying to educate Dawkins and raise his consciousness, and ended her Dawkins post by mentioning that various people were writing to Dawkins and if anyone wanted to join in, they were welcome to do so. What's "way out of line and over the top" is your complete mischaracterization and exaggeration of what Rebecca actually said.

  199. awesome says

    I've mostly stayed away from this. Rebecca's generally correct, Dawkins and ilk generally incorrect (in this instance).The problem that this very rapidly went from what skeptics do (discuss) to whatn uts do (shitting where you eat).On both sides.

  200. says

    George: You seem to be saying that Dawkins was wrong and callously dismissive, as you put it, and should apologise, but it's somehow worse that Watson would be mad about it or express this anger.I'm not sure I really understand this.

  201. says

    "How is it "thoughtcrime" or "class guilt" to suggest (fairly obviously) that society affords benefits to certain groups over others in various situations?" (Tom Foss)It's not.Acknowledging that racism, sexism, etc. do exist and are genuine problems is quite different from using such concerns to delegitimize those who disagree with you.The silencing tactic works thusly:Bill: Anyone who says X is a racist.Bob: I say X and I'm not a racist.Bill: Are you saying racism isn't real?!If people think I'm wrong about this Watson/Dawkins thing then so be it. Let them make their case. I will give it a fair hearing.But if they come at me with, "Well, you're just saying that because of Male Privilege and You Don't Get It blah blah blah" then I'm not having it.When I was a kid in the 70s, that long-ago epoch, our rebuke of choice was "What's your problem?" As in, "Hey kid, you don't …want to play baseball with us?…sneak into the Rated-R movies?…cut out of school?…like the Mets?What's your problem?That the kid might have his own reasons didn't even occur to us. We were right and that was that. There was something 'up' with him; what was his problem?Debates with the self-deputized Privilege Police operate along similar lines. You simply cannot disagree with them. You are wrong and that is that. The only issue is WHY you can't or won't see how right they are. (Hint: It's your Privilege!)

  202. says

    @Murphy said: "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? "There is nothing wrong with that. Her point was this… approaching a woman who is alone and asking her to come back to your room, at 4am, on an elevator, when she has stated that she is leaving and going to bed, without ever having spoken to her before, is NOT THE WAY TO GET LAID because IT'S KINDA CREEPY and could have the effect of making said woman feel like nothing more than a walking vag.His actual intentions don't matter – his actions do. Not saying he's a bad guy, but he's at best clueless. .. and doesn't seem to feel the need to actually get to know a woman, or speak to her, before inviting her to his room, NOR does he take into consideration how such an approach might be perceived by the object of his invitation… ie: that it might freak her out.Whether EG is a sexist prick or just socially retarded, it was a perfect illustration of privilege.(Quick PS for the ppl who think that women walk around afraid of being raped all the time, or looking at all men as potential rapists… not so. Unless you're a total stranger, someone I've never spoken to before, who follows me into an elevator and asks me to come back to your room… then, it's 'potential threat' mode. Kind of like being camping, and hearing a rustling noise in the bush. Might be a raccoon… might be a bear. Better stay alert and aware, just in case.)

  203. says

    Rebecca Watson has every right to express her anger, etc. She's free to vote Dawkins off Watson Island if she so desires. I am raising the proverbial eyebrow at why and how she's doing it. What kind of standard is being applied here?Piss me off once, give me even one justified grievance and I will "un-person" you from my mind and life no matter how high my previous esteem for you?Can you imagine living like that? How long could you even remain socially functional? Your circle of acceptable friendships and acquaintances would draw ever tighter, ending up as a noose around your own neck.(Hey, that's a good image. Gotta remember that one.)

  204. says

    Murphy, you seem like a sincere and articulate person, and I would love to give you the benefit of the doubt. But I'm having a really hard time respecting you when you don't make a serious effort to engage in the discussion here.First of all, you profoundly misinterpret and twist my position. Though I consider myself to be a "radical feminist," I disagree with some of the key positions of Radical Feminism. My positions are "radical" in the sense that I advocate radical changes in gender politics, such that the baseline assumption is that everything is fair game to both genders (since I believe that the concept of gender is primarily socially constructed). If sexual objectification were acceptable as general behavior toward women, then it should be equally acceptable and practiced toward men. However, since it is not acceptable toward women, then would not be acceptable toward men.HOWEVER, please note that the keyword in my comments about sexual objectification is "general." And this is where I fundamentally break with the Radical Feminists. I believe that sexual objectification is acceptable in limited circumstances. I am 100% in support of (and passionate about) preserving the legal status of pornography and the legalization of prostitution. I will argue to the death with anyone, especially other feminists, that either of those practices, as well as others that feminists have been mobilized against (including polygamy, incest, and sexual relations between adults and adolescents), are inherently immoral or anti-woman. I furthermore see nothing inherently problematic about one-night stands, where all parties (in principle) understand that they are using each other for sexual gratification and nothing more.Why do I believe that sexual objectification in limited circumstances is acceptable? It's because I believe in capitalism (which is ironically why many Radical Feminists are against all forms of sexual objectification). As a liberal who supports many socialistic policies, I recognize that capitalism, as it is practiced in the real world, has and causes a lot of serious problems. But I believe that its core tenets are morally neutral and philosophically and pragmatically sound.

  205. says

    In order to function within a capitalist society, everyone must engage in and be subject to objectification at one time or another. Most people don't expect freedom of speech at their jobs, even though most people also consider it to be a human right (more or less). We all understand that for our employers we must only do our jobs, and behavior outside of our job descriptions is otherwise subject to the leniency of our employers. No matter how passionate you might be about a political cause, such as abortion, the workplace is no place for it. We respect the corporate ladder and do what our bosses tell us, despite whatever feelings we may have at any given time. (Please note that I am not advocating for absolute obedience. I'm talking about the understood relationship between employer and employee.)When you're the customer of a business, you're not under any obligation to care about that firm's employees beyond the ability to do their jobs competently. The customer support representative that's on the phone with you is at your service; he is not your friend. You may feel sympathy if he is not being very helpful due to having a "hard day" or some other circumstances, but you are justified in demanding that someone else service you instead. You ask your waittress at a restaurant what she'd recommend not because you think that she automatically deserves to give her opinion to you; it's because you can't decide what to tell her to get for you. The models in a department store ad aren't looking to have their humanity validated; they're there to make the products look good so that you'd feel like buying something. You don't care about a company spokesperson's personal life or opinions if they're not relevant to the task of delivery information about the company.Just as everyone engages in a limited form of objectification of laborers within the capitalist system, everyone also engages in limited sexual objectification as a fact of life. Sexual fantasies and masturbation are perfectly healthy, natural, and unavoidable. One when engages in such things, one must necessarily think of certain other persons solely within a sexual context, with no concern for their other human attributes. Even feminists do these things, and some do so quite proudly. But most people usually don't extend this form of sexual objectification to most other everyday contexts and activities. The importance of context is why I support pornography and prostitution (etc.) in principle.The difference between "general" versus "specific" or "limited" in terms of sexual objectification is very similar to the difference between a slave and an employee. You make demands and have expectations of an employee similar to those of a slave, but the scope is limited to the employee's job description. With a slave, the scope includes everything that you could imagine. Even if you were the friendliest, most generous, and most compassionate master, your ownership of another person would be wrong because the master-slave relationship means that the slave is a dehumanized object. When you think of the members of the opposite gender primarily in terms of how well they might fulfill your sexual desires, then you are engaging general sexual objectification, which is sexism. This attitude will be revealed in your behavior.

  206. says

    So to back to the point: No, I am not against walking up to a person that physically attracts you and flirting with him/her. Sexual attraction is a fundamental element in romantic relationships, and I am certainly not against romantic relationships. I am not against flirting with a stranger even if it's mutually understood to be for the purpose of a one-night stand. Neither case even remotely qualifies as "general sexual objectification." The problem is when a man approaches a person (remember, the issue isn't limited to heterosexual contexts) and propositions him/her without any attempt to establish that the object of his attention is even looking to hook-up. If you flirt with her, and she flirts with you, that's a good sign (but not the only sign). If her reciprocation does not even cross your mind, then your attitude is plainly that of general sexual objectification.

  207. says

    Furthermore, Murphy, I am just appalled that you would start spouting off before you got the best possible understanding of what happened. Your comments are based only on what Martin wrote in the post (and the subsequent comments here). So you're making assessments from hearsay? Then why the heck are you trying to make an intelligent contribution to a blog where rationality is perhaps the highest virtue? Rebecca Watson's first-hand account is just a couple of clicks away, but to save you the miniscule effort of finding it yourself, here's the video in which she explains what happened: http://skepchick.org/2011/06/about-mythbusters-robot-eyes-feminism-and-jokes/ (the relevant part starts at 4:30)This is my transcript of her account of Elevator Guy's words: "Don't take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?" Apparently, this man was in the hotel bar with Watson, where she had spent quite a bit of time engaged in casual conversation with other people. Right before she left the bar, she said, "You know, I've had enough guys; I'm exhausted. Going to bed." The man proceeded to follow her to the elevator.I wouldn't have much of a problem if the man had approached Watson in the bar, flirted with her, and propositioned her after he felt like casual sex was also on her mind, which she would've implied through words and body language. I also wouldn't have much of a problem if in the elevator, the man had instead said, "I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to have lunch together later?" (I do have quibbles in either case, but I don't consider them to be worth discussing.)

  208. says

    George From NY: Somewhere, your reading comprehensions skills got lost. I don't know how you could extrapolate that "male heterosexuality is the problem" if you read my post. I clearly said that sexual objectification issue is NOT limited to heterosexual contexts.

  209. says

    Apparently, the spam filter ate one of my comments, so I'm reposting:In order to function within a capitalist society, everyone must engage in and be subject to objectification at one time or another. Most people don't expect freedom of speech at their jobs, even though most people also consider it to be a human right (more or less). We all understand that for our employers we must only do our jobs, and behavior outside of our job descriptions is otherwise subject to the leniency of our employers. No matter how passionate you might be about a political cause, such as abortion, the workplace is no place for it. We respect the corporate ladder and do what our bosses tell us, despite whatever feelings we may have at any given time. (Please note that I am not advocating for absolute obedience. I'm talking about the understood relationship between employer and employee.)When you're the customer of a business, you're not under any obligation to care about that firm's employees beyond the ability to do their jobs competently. The customer support representative that's on the phone with you is at your service; he is not your friend. You may feel sympathy if he is not being very helpful due to having a "hard day" or some other circumstances, but you are justified in demanding that someone else service you instead. You ask your waittress at a restaurant what she'd recommend not because you think that she automatically deserves to give her opinion to you; it's because you can't decide what to tell her to get for you. The models in a department store ad aren't looking to have their humanity validated; they're there to make the products look good so that you'd feel like buying something. You don't care about a company spokesperson's personal life or opinions if they're not relevant to the task of delivery information about the company.Just as everyone engages in a limited form of objectification of laborers within the capitalist system, everyone also engages in limited sexual objectification as a fact of life. Sexual fantasies and masturbation are perfectly healthy, natural, and unavoidable. One when engages in such things, one must necessarily think of certain other persons solely within a sexual context, with no concern for their other human attributes. Even feminists do these things, and some do so quite proudly. But most people usually don't extend this form of sexual objectification to most other everyday contexts and activities. The importance of context is why I support pornography and prostitution (etc.) in principle.The difference between "general" versus "specific" or "limited" in terms of sexual objectification is very similar to the difference between a slave and an employee. You make demands and have expectations of an employee similar to those of a slave, but the scope is limited to the employee's job description. With a slave, the scope includes everything that you could imagine. Even if you were the friendliest, most generous, and most compassionate master, your ownership of another person would be wrong because the master-slave relationship means that the slave is a dehumanized object. When you think of the members of the opposite gender primarily in terms of how well they might fulfill your sexual desires, then you are engaging general sexual objectification, which is sexism. This attitude will be revealed in your behavior.

  210. says

    @BrianI can't believe how tragically everyone has missed the point of my cigarette/wallet analogy. What you've done Brian is made an argument from consequences. Whether its being beaten up and having your wallet stolen, or being raped is completely irrelevant. There was only one point of my thought experiment (which sofar noone has answered), and that was to ask the question: can I make a logical segue from “i found the situation threatening” as thoughts and feelings in my head, to “he actually took threatened actions against me” as something the other party actually did as a matter of practical reality and is actually at fault for doing.This I would say is my central issue with Watsons position. She is absolutely in her right to feel threatened or uncomfortable in the elevator situation. She is absolutely in her rights to say at a public conference that she felt threatened or uncomfortable. What I don't think she has the right to do is brand the guy a privileged, sexist, misogynist etc, for thoughts and feelings that as far as I can see existed only in her own head. This is no different to a theist calling me an apostate blasphemer who's offended them simply because I don't believe in their religion. I'm sorry she feels that way about being asked out by guys, but elevator guy isn't ultimately responsible for Watsons subjective opinions about a situation and possible emotional shortcomings regarding fairly mainstream interactions with others.You hear a noise camping, is it a bear or is it a racoon? If the situation transpires and it turns out it was a racoon after all, you're well within your rights to tell the story to others and explain that you were freaked out at the time, but you don't get to claim that it actually WAS a bear.Taken to the extreme, this is like the difference between saying “i think that guy looks like the perfect cartoon caricature of a pedophile” compared with “that guy actually is a pedophile”. The first is a rather nasty comment due to personal preconceptions that I don't think should be made if your a decent person, the second even if it has no basis in reality at all however, can actually destroy the guys life if its a charge you officially and publicly level.I'm not saying this is the case here. Elevator guy has to my knowledge been completely anonymous up to this point so I don't think he's lost anything personally, but it worries me deeply that over propositioning a girl (perhaps even just for a coffee) and then being turned down, and leaving quietly, this guy has basically been turned into the poster boy for all the sexist misogyny that apparently exists in the atheist community, and if people like me, george and dhawk say “hang on a second, lets slow down here and examine the facts before we string the guy up in the town square” we simply get called unenlightened, uneducated, or in Ibis' case, simply nagging the admins to bring the banhammer of censorship down on us for the mortal sin of descent (shit, anyone would think we were skeptics or something). You even have MattD, one of the most level headed rational people I’ve ever seen saying things like the other guys side of the story is completely irrelevant and it doesn't matter if Watson made it all up because these things do happen (I suspect he may come to eat those words one day). Seriously what the fuck. Is this a discussion on the actual events or a damn witch trial?

  211. says

    @Tracy”Whether EG is a sexist prick or just socially retarded, it was a perfect illustration of privilege.”I'm kinda with george that this whole privileged thing is really starting to piss me off. Exactly what do you mean by this? He propositioned her. Wouldn't assuming privilege mean he skips the proposition? I mean riddle me this, if you ask a guy you've met at the club if he wants to come back to your place (or for a late night coffee or pizza or whatever), are you assuming privilege over him, or is this simply a gender exclusive word you've used to describe guys you don't like.Beyond that, I think we agree on most things, except for one critical point. I think you're drawing allot of conclusions about what happened in that elevator that we just don't know from the facts.As I said, there is no indication that elevator guy was at her earlier talk were she said she didn't like being hit on. There was no indication that he even knew who she was. And frankly we have no way of knowing what transpired in that elevator car. We only have Watsons side of the story. Its not beyond reason she would embellish some facts, and omit others for the sake of entertaining or making her point to a conference audience. I'm not calling Watson a liar or anything here, i'm just calling her human. A human with allot of people who've paid money to her to publicly speak. And even based on Watsons description there isn't allot we can draw about the events.I think the other guys side of the story (which we'll probably never hear) is a little more important that MattD makes it out to be. It could just as easily be that they were talking waiting for the elevator, talked on the trip up, and then the guy asked if she wanted to continue the conversation over a coffee. I'm not nessisarily saying this is what happened, I have no idea what happened, but it sounds closer to a situation that would actually transpire in reality rather than the Don Hertzfeldt animation you've described where Watson walks into the elevator car and introduces herself by saying “i'm tired don't fucking talk to me” only to have elevator guy instantly blurt out in response “LETS GET BUCK NAKED AND FUCK WHILE WE DRINK COFFEE!”I completely agree that the guys intentions are irrelevant and what matters is his actions. So I have to ask, why is everyone trying to assign the intentions of privilege (whatever that means) and misogyny to him when we really can't draw those conclusions from his actions as presented in the facts.

  212. says

    poor guy…OBVIOUSLY not a rapist just using his freedom of speech to express an invitation…she was not harmed and i dont see how she thinks she has the right to be offended when THERE WAS NO ASSAULT nor the likelyhood of one. he wanted to have an intimate time with her not hurt her…he wouldnt have picked a public probably cctv equipped hotel if he had been a rapist…i think he was foolhardy to ask someone like her but i guess he liked her…

  213. says

    @ydgmdluI think we're pretty close in agreement here, except about gender being mostly a social convention. Its a biological fact that men have penises and women have vaginas. They also have different hormones. I absolutely think that as a society both sexes should have equal rights, but on matters of courtship and sex/reproduction, lets not pretend that they're exactly the same. I'm not saying one has privilege or whatever over the other, but lets at lest be honest and say they're different.If her reciprocation does not even cross your mind, then your attitude is plainly that of general sexual objectification.For the most part I agree with everything you've said. My issue in all of this however is that even from the one sided story as presented by watson, I don't think its clear to me from the actual facts that this is what elevator guy did.

  214. says

    Here's my brief explanation of the "privilege" issue in this case…These notions are considered "common knowledge":1) Males are more libidinous than females.2) Males are expected to initiate sexual or romantic advances.From those two, then women should simply tolerate any (and all) unwelcome sexual advance as long as there's no obvious threat of rape. In fact, women who frequently experience unwelcome sexual advances ought to feel flattered and proud to know that they are considered so attractive. Catcalls are not degrading, since they allow bystanders to take notice of the sex appeal of a woman; the woman should be thankful that someone was nice enough to allow even more people to think that she's hot.If you're a man, and you can't see the problems with the above, then you're blinded by male privilege. Do you have a clear understanding of why sexual harassment laws were passed to protect employees in the workplace? The answer is not simply about "professional conduct." You may give any number of non-sexual compliments to a coworker that do not qualify as sexual harassment. Additionally, you may make friendly, non-sexual, non-romantic advances to a coworker, such as asking if she'd be willing to babysit your kids while you and your wife engage in special anniversary activities (assuming that you're on good enough terms that such a request wouldn't seem like burdening a stranger). If requesting such a favor is OK, then why is requesting a sexual favor not OK? Even if you've been working together for years, and you chat daily at the water cooler, why should you worry about a sexual harassment charge if you're thinking about making an out-of-the-blue sexual proposition?The point is this: Sexual advances are OK if the other person (male or female) makes clear that he/she would be receptive to them. Unwelcome sexual advances are dehumanizing. If you think that unwelcome sexual advances are OK, then you are blinded by privilege.Elevator Guy made unwelcome sexual advances toward Rebecca Watson. Watson had personally experienced enough unwelcome sexual advances at various atheist social functions (including conventions) that she was compelled to speak at her panel about the problem of sexism within the atheist community. The issue right now is a denial of any sort of sexism within the atheist community that might be preventing more women from joining the community. This denial, which has been manifested by the people who see no problem with unwelcome sexual advances, is indicative of the claimed sexism and male privilege.

  215. says

    @ydgmdlu, Oh okay, I get it. So we're supposed to read the girl's mind to tell if our asking her for coffee is considered welcome or not.Some of us guys are not very good at figuring out all the little "signs" girls try to communicate. So we ask them out–or ask them if they want to have coffee. They say no, we get the clue, and hopefully next time we'll be better at it, notice more of the signs. This is not "male privilege" at display here–it's male ignorance!I don't know the intentions of EG, and hey, I also don't know if RW's description of the story is accurate. As we learn so often while discussing things in regards to personal religious experiences, people can and do forget details, ignore others, and even embellish the stories a bit–sometimes unconsciously. RW may have been, due to her talk that night about sexism, seeing much more into the event than it merits. Who knows? Maybe RW's "I'm going to bed" was soft and EG couldn't hear it–it was a bar after all.My point is not, as I said earlier, that RW was wrong to bring it up–how it made her feel, etc. Nope. What's wrong is the way she and other skeptical feminists such as yourself have made this a scandal–how this has become entangled with this notion of "male privilege." Should female skeptics tell us men how we can improve? Sure. Just allow us at least a little dignity for god sake!

  216. says

    Murphy, a couple of my comments, which I attempted to post earlier this evening, have not appeared. You do not yet have a clear enough picture of my views. Hopefully, I will be able to post them soon enough.Sorry, but you're making a leap to claim that I believe that men and women are exactly the same. To imply that I'm oblivious to the fact that males have penises and females have vaginas, and that there are hormone differences, is quite condescending. I KNOW that there are differences, on average. I find essentialist arguments to be untenable. Sorry, but there is NOTHING inherent in being man, other than identifying oneself as a man. Gender is distinct from biological sex, hence the phenomenom of transgender individuals. Almost everything that we characterize about men and women are socialized into people. Most of traits of the genders are culturally defined. HOWEVER, I do agree that they are based on certain average biological differences.An important part of my radical feminist views involves exploding notions of gender imperatives. Thus, men should no longer be expected to initiate romantic or sexual relationships; women should be encouraged to initiate. Furthermore, women's sexuality should promoted and broadened such that female sexual behavior be largely brought in line with male sexual behavior. Men should learn to embrace certain roles and activities that have been traditionally designated to be the domain of women. Being a stay-at-home dad rather than the primarily breadwinner, without shame, is a key example of a good first step.

  217. says

    Dave, do you have a clear grasp of Watson's story? I suspect that if you did, then your comments would be very different.Again, the issue is not about asking a woman if she'd like to get coffeee with you. It's about making what clearly seems to be a sexual proposition to a complete stranger, in a hotel in a foreign country, at an odd time of night, without even trying to establish a rapport with the woman first. On top of that, she even communicated that she was tired and wanted to sleep. This does not require "mind reading"; the inappropriateness should be incredibly obvious, unless you're blinded by privilege.

  218. says

    I agree with Hannibal. Just don't get the drama. Some people must have never been in a social situation in their lives. A guy made a pass and got rebufffed, didn't press the issue and that's it. Why is Matt babbling about this "pass" making women not want to attend atheist conventions? That's complete nonsense. I like going to the grocery store late. Occassionally I see a woman I'm attracted to her. Am I allowed to make a pass? This is such a silly discussion.

  219. says

    @ydgmdluYour second premise is valid. Though as a male, I can honestly tell you I feel this is more of a burden than a privilege. Furthermore, its not the guys fault or even in his capacity to change this. If you wanna see this point change then its up to the women to start initiating sexual or romantic advances with the men. (I'm sure i'll get slammed for this, but I think the same thing basically applies to the ratio of men to women in the atheist/skeptic community. I don't think its intrinsically a boy's club, but even if it is, the only way it will change is if more women join and change it.)Your first premise however completely remains to be seen. I can only talk from personal experience, and its entirely possible that i've just collected a very strange group of friends, but I can absolutely tell you that within my group of friends, the females are many times more promiscuous than the men.The point is this: Sexual advances are OK if the other person (male or female) makes clear that he/she would be receptive to them. Unwelcome sexual advances are dehumanizing. If you think that unwelcome sexual advances are OK, then you are blinded by privilege.And how are you supposed to know if they're receptive unless you make some kind of advance in the first place? It seems like you're expecting the guy to be able to read the mind of the girl before he approaches her. I kindof get where you're coming from, I just don't agree. There is decorum, and then there is a world paved with eggshells. I'm not saying men should get away with blue murder, but I don't think women should be in hermetically sealed bubbles with a warning label “don't even look in my direction unless I give you explicit permission in advance” either.At what point between all unwanted advances (i'm not sure what you mean by this. I'd have said an unwanted advance is any situation where the girl says shes not interested for whatever reason, but I get the impression this isn't exactly what you mean) is labelled objectification, and expectations of mind reading, become female privilege over men? I tend to think there is a middle ground where people can interact with respect, but at the same time without the this kind of sensationalised BS about rights and privilege as if you're somehow being treated as lower class for no other reason than a guy likes you and you don't like him back.

  220. says

    A few things:1.) I'd like to sincerely applaud Martin for his original post. It takes a REAL man to be able to say "My perceived loneliness and need to dip my wick was not, I had to learn, any woman's problem to solve." Martin, I'm not aware of whether or not you have a wife/girlfriend, but if you do, she should be very proud. :]2.) ydgmdlu, I agree thoroughly with everything you said in your big, long post.3.) It's baffling to me that the original problem of this situation is so hard to grasp. The first factor is that as a man, he's naturally physically stronger than her. That, in and of itself, does not make the situation threatening. However, add in the fact that he approached her in an enclosed space where she would have been trapped if he had tried to use force on her, AND there would have been nobody else around to help her or serve as witnesses, and then the situation becomes indisputably threatening from her perspective, and thusly, if this man truly respected her, he would have been mindful of that fact. Plus, she's not a mind reader; even if he was harmless, she would have had no way of knowing that. Why is it so difficult to see why a woman would feel threatened in a situation like this? WHY? 4.) Here's a somewhat relevant (and funny) link. Enjoy. http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/39/2010/10/1030gabbyfull_01.jpg

  221. says

    @ydgmdlu, there you go again with your "male privilege" talk. Yes, I have heard the details of the story over and over again. And my previous assessment still stands. I am skeptical of it, for what I think are very good reasons. I don't even want to discuss those details of the story anymore because, like I said, we are not at all sure how the events really played out, the intentions of the guy in question, how colored RW's perception was, etc. In my opinion, the most we can say for sure is that this guy made a bad move and "Hey guys, don't do that." That's basically what RW said at first, and I supported her back then. What has made me turn around is the kind of asinine talk coming from skeptical feminists about how this is a glowing example of "male privilege," or how this guy could have been a potential rapist and all that kind of talk. To me, that is a gross overreaction. Now as to RD, yes there is justification for RW's criticism of his callous remark. I can see that, even though I actually agree with his main point–that this is no huge deal. I disagree with the sarcasm he used, with his delivery, etc. I think he should apologize for that.

  222. says

    Murphy, I am appalled that you would start spouting off before you got the best possible understanding of what happened. Your comments are based only on what Martin wrote in the post (and the subsequent comments here). So you're making assessments from hearsay? Then why the heck are you trying to make an intelligent contribution to a blog where rationality is perhaps the highest virtue? Rebecca Watson's first-hand account is just a couple of clicks away, but to save you the miniscule effort of finding it yourself, here's the video in which she explains what happened: http://skepchick.org/2011/06/about-mythbusters-robot-eyes-feminism-and-jokes/ (the relevant part starts at 4:30)This is my transcript of her account of Elevator Guy's words: "Don't take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?" Apparently, this man was in the hotel bar with Watson, where she had spent quite a bit of time engaged in casual conversation with other people. Right before she left the bar, she said, "You know, I've had enough guys; I'm exhausted. Going to bed." The man proceeded to follow her to the elevator.I wouldn't have much of a problem if the man had approached Watson in the bar, flirted with her, and propositioned her after he felt like casual sex was also on her mind, which she would've implied through words and body language. I also wouldn't have much of a problem if in the elevator, the man had instead said, "I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to have lunch together later?" (I do have quibbles in either case, but I don't consider them to be worth discussing.)

  223. says

    MARTIN! Completely off subject. But I received my AXP shirt in the mail last week and meant to say THANK YOU! It's awesome.. Even though no one in my town will know what it means. But I don't think they get my FSM decal either:) Thanks again!

  224. says

    I hope you're still paying attention to this Martin: I wish you'd changed one word.You wrote "Please think about these things and man up to your mistake."Please change "man" to "own".

  225. says

    George: To see Watson's post as the greater wrong seems tough to me. I like to take my wrongs in chronological order where they are at most equivalent (and I don't think they are in this case). I also didn't catch any implication that this was somehow a normative dictum from her and that everyone gets one chance from now on. Obviously the fact that it's Richard Dawkins is material in this. We can talk about whether it ought to be or not. But we can be fairly sure that it currently is. That post was spectacularly assinine and personal to boot. From the guy who usually reserves his bitterest sarcasm for his worst enemies (although if you back a decade or so, anyone who vaguely disagrees with him and students of the humanities in general. So perhaps we shouldn't be so shocked). Yeah I wouldn't read the jerk's books anymore either.aside: We've an interesting situation here where Watson is being taken to task for, I dare say, forgetting she's Rebecca Watson in another instance. And here's Richard Dawkins with some wildly rude and unnecessary Richard Dawkins.I, like Martin, hope everyone cools off a bit sooner rather than later. Dawkins gets firsties however.

  226. says

    A "corteous proposal" is supposed to be the modern alternative to socialize our sexual drive.Someone at gawker wrote this comment:"she has an unhealthy level of anxiety towards men"

  227. says

    Don't you see that the real problem here is not really about this one incident? Most of the comments in this thread, and at other places, I suspect, have been way too focused on debating issues specific to this incident. This is a failure to see the forest for the trees.Is the notion that women are underrepresented within the atheist community, especially at atheist social gatherings, at all controversial? So what might account for the disparity? Yes, I'm well aware of studies showing that women in many societies are more religious than the men, on average. And there are plenty of very plausible explanations for this (e.g., women may be socialized to favor intuitive and emotional ways of thinking rather than logical), and all of them would be beyond the power of the atheist community to feasibly change, except for one: sexism within the atheist community itself.Virtually all self-declared rational atheists would agree that atheists are a highly diverse group. Naturally, there are some bad apples, such as that Gavin fellow who drove people here nuts recently. But when several female atheists have testified (in this very thread, in fact) that they did not feel comfortable enough to participate in atheist events, or join the community in general, because of negative experiences with male atheists, then the problem is more than just a few bad apples.I get the impression that many here have not yet taken the time to read Rebecca Watson's blog post about this incident. In it, she explains that she wasn't even a feminist before she became active within the atheist community. She naively assumed, as many of you here do, that the small number of blatant misogynists would be easy to ignore. But soon, an increasing portion of her email consisted of crude sexual remarks directed at her, the worst of which included numerous rape threats (not merely the garden-variety death threats). These were emails written by self-proclaimed atheists, not hate-spewing theists.

  228. says

    Watson says that unwanted sexual advances (experienced by her) were not a rare occurence at atheist events. And yet she didn't make a big deal about it, perhaps in the hope that someone else would. But then she couldn't take it any more, which was why she decided to raise the issue of sexism within the atheist community at her panel in Dublin. Coincidentally, everything came to a head with the elevator incident, which occurred just hours after her panel.Here's the point: If the "Elevatorgate" issue were solely about one man's inappropriate behavior in an isolated incident, then it would be no big deal. However, now there are tons of people who don't even understand why the man's behavior was so wrong, and this reflects the sexism within the atheist community. The gist of their sentiment is, "Boys will be boys, so everyone just chill, OK?"Non-sexist atheists must take a stand against the kind of behavior of the Elevator Guy. They should declare that there will be no tolerance of it, that they recognize it as potentially sexist and will denounce it. Only then will they make more female atheists start to feel like they are welcome in the community. Otherwise, women will continue to feel like other atheists are enabling the behavior that turns them away.Unless y'all have a better explanation for why so many women don't feel comfortable about joining us?

  229. says

    Murphy:I did not offer two premises that I proposed to be valid. I specifically stated that they were notions that were regarded as "common knowledge" (notice the scare quotes). I would absolutely not claim that women inherently have a lower sex drive than men. I would even hesitate to agree that this is the case on average (though apparently plenty of studies establish that this is true).At the very least, female sexuality is (through enculturation or some biological mechanism) different from male sexuality. And even more importantly, female sexuality is still viewed much more negatively than male sexuality. The most obvious example is how the word "slut" is still used to denigrate prosmicuous females, while no equivalent term exists for males. Men who are promiscuous are most often called "players," and many such men regard the label as a badge of honor.That isn't just sexist; it reflects the common attitude that men are naturally more libidinous than women. Hence, aggressive male sexual behavior is considered acceptable, even the women that have experience it find it to be offensive. "Boys will be boys," as the saying goes. This has been used in the past and in the present to encourage women to shut-up and tolerate what is allegedly "flattering" or "complimentary" behavior in the part of men that is, in actuality, degrading.Many decades passed before consciousness was raised to the point where sexual harassment laws were finally passed to protect women in the workplace. And now, some clueless men, blinded by their male privilege, make the nonsense complaint that they're afraid to give ANY compliment to a female coworker for fear that it will be the basis of a sexual harassment lawsuit. What a complete lack of perspective.

  230. says

    Murphy,The words "speaking as a woman" were immediately followed by my thanking the guys at AE for being gentlemen. That is not the gender card. It would be like saying, "As I human being, I really like beef." I wasn't begging special privileged or recognition; I was being grateful.To your further point, it's true that what I mentioned is not a direct comparison to Rebecca's story, so I can see how it would be possible to miss my point which I summed up here, "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?"That seems to be all Rebecca was trying to say in an attempt to open a dialogue. Now, instead of talking about the actual issues she was bringing to the table, this one incident is being nit picked to death, preventing any actual useful conversation or growth from actually occurring.

  231. says

    To relate the above back to the current issue…Murphy, a poor memory seems to be another one of your problems. I specifically stated (and you initially seemed to comprehend) that I am NOT against men making any sort of advance. Again, you completely twist my position. That is exactly like the idea that sexual harassment laws mean that you, as a man, cannot give compliments of any sort to a woman. It's nonsense. Please try to get a little perspective.What is with all of this "mind reading" rhetoric? At first blush, it just sounds like men are claiming to be free of all responsibility in their interactions with women. It's really not a big step away from a rapist saying, "Was I supposed to read her mind when she said 'No' and didn't mean 'Yes'"? What happened to the idea that "communication is a two-way street"?I'm not saying that all scenarios will be black and white. Many will be ambiguous, and when there is ambiguity, usually men will be in the clear. But there are situations that are very clear. The elevator incident is clear. The woman was not in the mood for any activity at the time, let alone sex, and yet the man does nothing but ask for sex. That is the definition of an inappropriate, unwelcome sexual advance that anyone with good sense should recognize.See, it's not a matter of decorum. It's a matter of having enough respect to not look at a woman and just think of her and treat her as a sex object, which is what Elevator Guy did. Do you honestly think that any man (without rapist tendencies) can walk up to any woman at any time and plainly ask for sex and not be called a chauvinist? I have absolutely no doubt that if you do it enough times, you'll eventually encounter a woman who will take one look at you and promptly jump your bones when you say the word. (I'd expect most of the other women to slap you.) Does this mean that your behavior is justifiable, if there are actually a few women out there who will readily jump in the sack without the niceties of friendly conversation?

  232. says

    Here's an example of privilege: It's when you feel so burdened by your privilege that you think that it's somehow beyond your control (or that of any member of your group) to change, thus the responsibility lies solely with the members of the Other group to change. This is not only nonsensical; it's also rather insulting to members of both groups.I think that most feminists will agree that social change requires work from both men and women. In a patriarchal society in which women are socialized from a very young age to believe that they must wait for suitors to come to them, most women will not understand that deciding to be the ones to make the first move is a laudable and empowering choice. I continue to see that most females feel uncomfortable with the idea and think that males should always initiate, because that's the way that things are supposed to be. This is the problem with ingrained gender roles.(It may be cliche, but isn't a common source of angst among females the anxiety about whether the objects of their infatuations will ask them out on dates, or why these men don't make a move already? If they could understand that they should make the first move, then the problem would be solved.)Murphy, your attitude basically comes off as, "I'm too lazy and I feel too helpless to even investigate the reasons for the imbalances, let alone do anything to help erase them." If you really support the idea that females ought to be able to make advances toward men, then you could be working to encourage public discourse promoting the notion that females are allowed and encouraged to do so, that there's nothing wrong with it, and that many men would welcome it.When that happens, it will be an important step to chip away at male privilege and equalize the power imbalance between the genders.

  233. says

    I don't think I've agreed with anyone regarding this thing more than I've agreed with this blog posting. Dawkins made a dumb comment, he has a mistaken way of thinking. He's generally brilliant and awesome, but here, he's wrong.

  234. says

    Dave: Why do you think that Watson "has this victim complex thing going on"? You seem to also imply that she's one those "girls who obsess over 'creepy guys' and rape." What led you to this conclusion? Why do you think that such girls "overreact most of the time"? Why are are you "skeptical of feminism in general"? Have you even taken the time to seriously study feminism?Maybe you should stop and consider that maybe the fact that "it's difficult for [you] to see things from their perspective" is indicative of male privilege. Please note that I am not using feminist rhetoric here. The same principle applies to every privileged group: white privilege, heterosexual privilege, bourgeois privilege, Christian privilege, non-handicapped privilege, thin person privilege, etc.Furthermore, when I read over your comments, I remain unconvinced that you actually are familiar with the details of the story. Please go listen to Watson give her first-hand account of what happened. At no time did she cry "RAPIST!" Based on her account, the vast majority of people (male and female) in the exact same situation would feel a bit degraded. (I'm not even talking about the supposed rape threat, which I see as a secondary issue.)Oh BTW, I am 100% supportive of flirting. It's something that people do as (more or less) harmless fun. In fact, many people (men and women) who are married or are in committed long-term relationships engage in flirting all the time (with people other than their significant others) and have no problem with their significant others engaging in flirting as well. Flirting is just flirting; it's not an invitation or proposition to go have sex. That can come later; flirting serves as a first step. The rest will depend on how the interaction goes.

  235. says

    And just so that we're all on the same page about the incident and not basing assessments on hearsay, here's the video in which Watson explains what happened: http://skepchick.org/2011/06/about-mythbusters-robot-eyes-feminism-and-jokes/ (the relevant part starts at 4:30)This is my transcript of her account of Elevator Guy's words: "Don't take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?" Apparently, this man was in the hotel bar with Watson, where she had spent quite a bit of time engaged in casual conversation with other people. Right before she left the bar, she said, "You know, I've had enough guys; I'm exhausted. Going to bed." The man proceeded to follow her to the elevator.I wouldn't have much of a problem if the man had approached Watson in the bar, flirted with her, and propositioned her after he felt like casual sex was also on her mind, which she would've implied through words and body language. I also wouldn't have much of a problem if in the elevator, the man had instead said, "I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to have lunch together later?" (I do have quibbles in either case, but I don't consider them to be worth discussing.)What is behind the urge to doubt Watson's story? Of course I agree that questioning the accuracy of any first-hand account is reasonable, but what I detect here, especially from Murphy and one or two others, is an attitude of incredulity, doubting that it could've happened exactly as she described. This skepticism, along with offering alternative "more likely" scenarios, contains more than a whiff of an ad hominem attack.Why can't we deal with the scenario as it has been described, instead of wasting time supposing that it probably didn't happen that way (a red herring)? Elevator Guy remains anonynous, so it's not like we're doing him any personal harm by taking Watson's version at face value. The issues that it raises are valid, no matter the truth value of the story.

  236. says

    You feminists here are psychotic! I am done with this post, unsubscribing to further comments. Adios!

  237. says

    (I'm not seeing my comments show up after 30min, trying again…)This is embarrassing. I feel the need to comment on this because Martin, Tracy, and Matt are clearly being hypocrites here."Lets make a TV show where we call all religion false. People will feel offended/threatened/fearful for viewer's salvation, but in the name of free discussion, its worth it. After all, people don't have right not to be offended."And now look whats happened. "Its good for Rebecca to set incredibly subjective social rules for all men (applying to all women as well) because she might be frightened." Lets get serious here. This is not about safety or sexism. This is about values. You are sneering at people who value casual sex, and say "We couples and domesticated-types get to set the social rules."Dan Savage had an excellent column which demonstrates this perspective problem very well. In the letter from a woman, she recounts getting drunk and asking a male friend to spend the night, and was turned down. After, she felt guilty and thought she should apologize to him. Why? Because if the genders were reversed, a woman would have felt offended by the offer. Dan's response was spot on, saying women should reconsider what abusive language really is. After, the only way people can have sex, is by asking other people for it.Let me go even farther about this privileged nonsense. It's clearly discriminatory to say older, white men just don't get it because they have an easy life. Evidence for them feeling privileged? How about we look at actual generational studies: The younger, tech generation show higher levels of narcissism than all previous generations. That's right. I'm calling Rebecca a narcissist. It's well deserved, just like Dawkin's ridicule of her. Telling the world about some innocuous pass at her, and then propping it up as larger pattern of sexism? Then disowning someone who has done far more than she ever will for women's rights, all while dismissing his arguments with ad hominems (he's old and white)? This should be a red flag for everyone.Honestly, I've been so disturbed by TAE support of her that I wanted to call in and debate you about it. Although at this point I will at least write this much, and hopefully I will get a response.

  238. says

    Many blokes who attend atheist conferences are, perhaps unlike the socially blithe commenters, born with Asperger's syndrome.In fact, I take it that "we", as a group of freethinkers, may assume that proportion to be a majority!Have you attended a Star-Trek convention?The Asperger's contingent is, (in my opinion), a distinct majority.Had you considered that you are all scarring (to the vitiated potential outcome of *suicide* via shame) "elevator guy" with this outrageous baseless slanderous/libelous** speculation?For the only word that of the event is Rebecca's?And that IS NOT the main source of malcontent.It is that RW chose to accuse (by association) a powerless member of her audience as an anti-feminist!This is the abuse of power that no-one should excuse.RW has not explained her gaffe, merely relied upon the sycophancy of her acolytes, as well as that of "PZ" Myers, who appears to veer toward appeasement of those who seem to think that male genital mutilation is a completely trivial bit of nonsensicalnessossity.___________________** Too hard to distinguish these days.Perhaps we require a novel class of character assassination:Tweetious?Nor anyone else's.On what basis are we to call our-selve's Skeptics if we do not question her version of events?

  239. says

    @Michael Kingsford GrayI don't think that we should shut Rebecca down for potentially "causing" someone's suicide, even if he is an aspie. Nor is this character assassination, because she didn't name him.Rebecca is following her free speech rights (if in a bad way). We should object to her statements through debate, not attacking where incidental power happens to be. Yes, she has many followers, and has no doubt built up a cult of personality.And really, whats with everyone touting how proud they are of their own skepticism. If "follower of Jesus" is a phrase Christians use to delude themselves into thinking they are morally superior, then "skeptic and reason" are phrases used to delude atheists into thinking they are more intelligent than others.

  240. says

    Ydg,I did indeed misrepresent your stand on the whole "objectification" matter. You wrote: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."So I just plain screwed up there, but believe me… demonizing male heterosexuality is a very real thing among certain precincts of contemporary political and social activism. I erred in ascribing that view to you, but that doesn't make it any less prevalent.

  241. says

    @ydgmdluI think i've already spent way to long on this topic already. I have to move on to other things (most notably work hours that i've foolishly spent typing here :) and I don't think there is much i'm saying at this point that I haven't already said so I think this will be my last post on the topic.Murphy, a poor memory seems to be another one of your problems. I could just as easily say that its not so much a poor memory on my part as you making points that (at least appear to me) contradict your earlier points. This late in the discussion I think rather than get narky at each other over shit like this, its just easier to say that there are some fundamental points that we intrinsically disagree on and probably won't and can't come to agreement on due to our radically different perspectives.The most obvious example is how the word "slut" is still used to denigrate prosmicuous females, while no equivalent term exists for males. Men who are promiscuous are most often called "players," and many such men regard the label as a badge of honor.Agreed. However its ironic that I hear most of this rhetoric from other women rather than the “privileged, sexist, misogynist, boyswillbeboys” males you claim are lurking around every corner. I actually pulled a girl at work up on this a few weeks or so ago when she was carrying on about how some other girl she knew was a slut for sleeping with a bunch of male models. No doubt you could still use this as an example of “male privilege in society”, but lets not point at males as if we're somehow the sexists pigs solely responsible when it is just as likely to come from the mouth of a female. I agree this needs to change, I just don't think its fair to fault the males that this goes on. It's the responsibility of people on both sides of the gender divide to make equality happen.And whilst there is no direct word for word translation, lets not pretend like there aren't common stereotypical statements about men being brainless animals who are “led around by” or “thinking with” their dicks. I don't know if its as bad, but its certainly not unheard of.Unless y'all have a better explanation for why so many women don't feel comfortable about joining us?Even if I had no better explanation myself, that doesn't make “the atheist/skeptic community is majority white and male, ergo, the atheist/skeptic community is racist and sexist” a valid argument.For my money, I don't think its about them being uncomfortable at all. I just don't think they really care. To be honest, I don't really think its an activity many guys care that much either as the ratio of atheists to atheist groups, is pretty skewif compared to the ratio of religious folk to churches.I think the gender ratio difference is mostly due however to men and women having different interests. I don't know whether its social conditioning, or perhaps even biological (one of the most used feminist arguments against elevator guy on this thread is that males are more comfortable with, or at least more oblivious too, aggression and confrontation, and if these thread is any indication, being an activist for atheism, skeptisism, feminism, etc, is an inherently confrontational hobby). If I had to guess i'd say its probably a lot of column A and a little bit of column B combined. It doesn't surprised me that women wouldn’t' be as interested in such social groups as men.

  242. says

    Obviously this is a huge generalisation and there are definite exceptions from the rule. You're a member of the atheist community which is a predominately male institution, and I put myself through art school which is a predominately female institution, but I personally don't think you have to look much further than the fact that most men aren't interested in fine arts, and most women probably just aren't as interested in spending their spare time on atheist activism. I don't think there is really a sexist illuminati actively pulling strings from behind the curtain or anything.It's really not a big step away from a rapist saying, "Was I supposed to read her mind when she said 'No' and didn't mean 'Yes'"? What happened to the idea that "communication is a two-way street"? I don't think that anyone here was saying that 'no' means 'yes'. The impression given by your post (perhaps due to poor writing on your part, perhaps misreading on dave and my part) was that we are supposed to know the woman's position before she said 'no'. Ie the actual act of approaching her in the first place and getting a 'no' answer was the unwanted advance and somehow inappropriate. As I said in my last post, I was not sure that was what you meant, but that was certainly the impression that you gave from your writing. Which sortof segues into the next part:But there are situations that are very clear. The elevator incident is clear. The woman was not in the mood for any activity at the time, let alone sex, and yet the man does nothing but ask for sex.I feel i've had to repeat this so many times now, but is this what actually happened? Admittedly i've tried to avoid anything after the initial statements as I frankly believe that the well has now been poisoned by so many people just making shit up post-hoc to prove their point, mutating the story so badly that its hard to tell original fact from bad conjecture, but from the initial posts its not clear at all. Even from Watson's one sided perspective of the story, in her original comment about the guy, her only reason for thinking it inappropriate was nothing more than the time and place the proposition occurred in. It wasn't in fact anything the guy actually said or did (I think she said that he “wasn't Bundyish”?).It seems to me based on the actual facts, that you and others believe elevator guy should have somehow (perhaps through ESP) known she was going to say no before he actually propositioned her, and that was his crime. If elevator guy actually did harassed her after she said 'no' as you and others imply, then fine, your completely correct, he shouldn't have done that. But nothing in the actual facts presented in the original description of events should lead us to think this is the case. All we know is he propositioned her (admittedly in a setting she found uncomfortable for personally subjective reasons). She said no. He left without a fuss. Everything beyond that as far as I can see (making him out to be some drooling lecherous drunk sociopathic harasser) is sensationalised crap made up afterwards by commentators.

  243. says

    If you really support the idea that females ought to be able to make advances toward men, then you could be working to encourage public discourse promoting the notion that females are allowed and encouraged to do so, that there's nothing wrong with it, and that many men would welcome it.I'm absolutely up for this, and despite our many differences of opinion, I don't think i've argued to the contrary. In fact, I thought that kind of discourse was what were are doing right now…Murphy, your attitude basically comes off as, "I'm too lazy and I feel too helpless to even investigate the reasons for the imbalances, let alone do anything to help erase them." What I am absolutely NOT up for is: Scapegoating. Sensationalism. Persecution complexes. Affirmative action. And unjustifiably making shit up to try and validate a point, even if the general thesis of that point is otherwise correct.You really should stop with the whole “you don't get what is wrong with what the guy did” because we do. We do get it. And if the guy really did what you claim then you're correct that he was in the wrong and we would agree with you. The problem is that from the original facts, even as presented by watson herself, there isn't really a clear indication that the guy actually did anything of the sort.There is an old saying that “the right choice for the wrong reason is still the wrong choice”. I'm all up for equality and do my small part to try and make the world a better place for everyone (one of the reasons i'm an atheist/skeptic advocate amongst other things such as oxfam etc). But if this whole incident you guys are marching the feminist troops on is simply based around scapegoating some poor guy (that from what I can draw from the facts didn't actually do anything inappropriate), to appease the neo-conservative feminist movement and scaremonger males into subservience, then as far as I can see you're just as bad as the other side, and i'll have no fucking part in your parade thank you very much. Sorry if this makes me lazy in your eyes…

  244. says

    Here's the point: If the "Elevatorgate" issue were solely about one man's inappropriate behavior in an isolated incident, then it would be no big deal. However, now there are tons of people who don't even understand why the man's behavior was so wrong, and this reflects the sexism within the atheist community. The gist of their sentiment is, "Boys will be boys, so everyone just chill, OK?"The gist is that if the guy actually did anything inappropriate then we'd be on your side.There have been more than a few quip little comments from people here in response to me, Hannanible, George and others that “more evolved males” would see the light or whatever. As i've said I haven't been convinced based on the FACTS that the guy actually did anything wrong. What this whole debacle looks like to me is a guy being made into the poster boy for sexism and misogyny, even though for all intensive purposes his only crime was to ask a girl out at an hour past some peoples bedtimes, and then left without a fuss when she said no.You keep claiming its not about this one guy, and that we can't see the Forrest through the trees. You and others keep going on about how we don't get it. Has it occurred to you that you don't get why we're so pissed of about this? Has it occurred to you that we find it just as offensive to be constantly labelled unevolved, or to generally be tarred with your broad the brush of sexist bigotry because one guy (which you frankly haven't even demonstrated based on facts) did something wrong? You don't like being treated as lower class because of your gender, well guess what, we don't like being treated as fucking criminals because of ours.I'm not advocating a “boys will be boys” policy, and I think a thorough rereading of the comment thread will show that noone else has either. The reason this is such a big deal for us is that if these perfectly glowing “more evolved males” actually exist at all, we'd all be curious to know how any of them can get dates when we seem to be going down a path where so much as asking a girl to coffee gets you labelled sexist by an entire online community. I'd like to sign off with some food for thought, in the form of Jello Biafra's 5th spoken word album title:“If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve”murphy out…

  245. Kestra says

    "Let me go even farther about this privileged nonsense. It's clearly discriminatory to say older, white men just don't get it because they have an easy life. Evidence for them feeling privileged?"Among the many misconceptions in your post, I've chosen to address this one because the misunderstanding of the concept of privilege in this whole discussion is driving me a little crazy. "Privilege" unfortunately is a lot like the world "theory" as in "theory of Evolution". Because of the common meaning of the word, evolution-deniers can play semantic games with the scientific concept, which is well defined and understood in the scientific literature but not in the society at large."Privilege" in social-theory discussions does NOT mean that the privileged group has universally easier, more enjoyable lives that the disadvantaged group. It means that the privileged group is spared a whole host of petty indignities, inconveniences or injustices that the disadvantaged experience as a fact of life. One example: Are you white? Have you ever been ignored or passed by a taxi you were trying to hail down? If you have, you probably thought the driver was a jerk, or didn't see you, or was on their way to another fare. You probably didn't think they passed you by because you are white. Black people don't have this privilege; they are often denied service by taxi drivers. I could relate anecdotal evidence of this, but I don't have to. Laws have been passed against service refusal, and plain-clothes stings have been organized by police to combat it."Male privilege" doesn't mean that all men, everywhere, have easier lives than all women. It means that women experience all sorts of behaviors that men are simply immune to, and must plan their lives around them. E.g.: When you dress for the day, do you consider whether or not your outfit will attract unwanted sexual remarks about your body from strangers? When you fail at a task, do you worry that people will then say that all men are bad at that particular task? ( http://xkcd.com/385/ )When you take a new job, do you worry people will think you were hired because of your breasts? When you go out for a night of drinking or clubbing, do you consider all the ways in which you are placing your personal safety at risk? I'm willing to bet that in most of those scenarios, you do not. Because you have a privilege not to have a body that is assumed to be there primarily for sexual consumption. That is was feminists mean when they talk about "male privilege".

  246. says

    If I need an exemplar for what the precious defensive male argument I was talking about looks like, I need only point to Murphy's last post. Yikes.On one hand I sympathise. Many people just confuse things by employing sociological concepts like male privilege toward individuals in ways that are just confusing (not necessarily here) and they probably shouldn't. But geez that ultra defensiveness doesn't make it any easier.The question I have to ask myself is why aren't I horrified by Watson's tarring of all male kind as sexists or rapists or whatever? Because it seems perfectly plain to me that she isn't. It's an off hand remark borne out of the irony of the situation (I believe the guy was at the convention and at the bar. Not perfectly sure about this) since he mustn't have quite grasped what she was talking about. That's really it. Suddenly she's out to ruin all possibility of living out Aerosmith songs and the possibly casual sex itself for everyone ever, drive shy men to suicide as well as running roughshod over the suffering of millions of women under Islamic regimes.This. Reaction. Doesn't. Make. Any. Sense.

  247. says

    My God, a man proposing to a woman in an innappropiated manner! STOP THE PRESSES! Who would guess?The problem with the girl's reaction was making a generalization of it. I mean, why she though it was a good idea to patronize the male atheist community with a stupid "advise"? "Guys, don't flirt on elevators at 4 AM, it's strange, wink wink". Oh, really, Little Miss Sunshine? Are you implying that every male atheist is prone to do that? That most of us cannot see that doing this is probably a bad idea? Thanks! Next time you may tell me how to use the bathroom, because I am a man and I have no clue."Hey guys, don't do stuff like that, thanks." is patronizing. "Hey, Drunk Idiot, don't do stuff like that anymore, thanks" would be perfectly fine.

  248. says

    I fail to see how the statement, "Guys, don't do that" is so offensive to anyone. However, I know if Dawkins publicly singled me out and insulted me for some innocuous statement I had made, he would definitely be on my "people to hate" list. I wonder if he has a publicist. I wonder that same publicist wishes he would just stay the hell away from the keyboard once in awhile. In any case, since I wasn't involved in this incident, I won't "boycott" him. I do think he's a bit of a douche though.

  249. says

    I apologize for my former comment where I called "you feminists" psychotic. I am so frustrated with all of this and let my emotional knee jerk instincts get the best of me. So I take that comment back.I really don't want to discuss the details again, ydgmudl (this doesn't say anything about you personally, but I hate the spelling of your screen name!) I am a skeptic, so I question the principles of any and all "isms"–in this case, feminism. From what I know of feminism, it does indeed have some–perhaps many–valid arguments against a culture that is indeed biased towards males. I concede all that. However, there is definitely a point where feminism goes way too far. For example, there are feminists who are against the use of logic–they see it as a male way of thinking. These feminists think that there are other just as valid ways of solving problems. I am not convinced. Why? They haven't made their case yet. So I stand back, reserve judgment–and get this, I use logic to point out the fallacies in their arguments about that.Now that's an example, but it's that kind of thinking which makes me skeptical of feminism in general–it does indeed go too far sometimes. In this case, Elevatorgate, it has certainly gone way too far. These otherwise rational skeptic feminists are simply making connections and inferences where there is no justification for doing so. And that's why I am speaking out.I really did agree with RW at first, when she said, "Guys, don't do that." Thanks for the advice. Fine. What I am against is the way in which, later, some skeptical women in the community have linked that 1 minute in the elevator with rape, misogyny, and this vague notion of "male privilege."As I said earlier, I am disappointed by the way in which RD dismissed RW's concerns. But I do agree with the point he was trying to make: the guy didn't touch her, didn't display any misogyny or a sense of "male privilege." He was ignorant, probably had underdeveloped social skills, may have been slightly drunk and therefore less inhibited. Who knows? And I stand by, also, my skepticism of RW's account of the incident. She may be exactly right about it, but it is possible that she could have misinterpreted what happened and why. She had just given a talk on sexism. In my mind, it is by no means unlikely that she was primed to see sexism or "sexualization" that night where there was in fact something quite different.Lastly, I know that women do have a much higher chance of getting raped or assaulted than men. I get that. But I know some girls, personally, who seem to never stop talking about it, or about guys who seem "creepy" and all that. Many guys are just awkward and come across that way–as creepy. And they are bad at reading signs coming from girls. So the girl thinks that the guy is "objectifying" her by "not considering her feelings" when he asks her out or whatever, while what is actually happening is that the guy is just clueless. I said before and I will say it again: to me, this seems more like an example of male ignorance than "male privilege."

  250. says

    Since when sexual advances are sexist? Should a person be forbidden of FUCKING ASKING OTHER PERSON TO A DATE FOR FEAR THAT IT MAY BE OFFENSIVE? Shove it.You have the right to turn the invitation down, or even be angry if it was crude, stupid kind of pass ("C'mon, nice tits, let's shag it!"). If you find it creepy or specially unconfortable, go and call security, or even the police. That's fine. But if even asking politely if you wnat to hang up offends you, go on and shove it.Out of curiosity, should gay males be forbidden of asking men they find attractive for a date because they may offend the straight guys, even if they are not being unnappropiate?

  251. Kestra says

    Dave, how is being "just clueless" different from "not considering her feelings"? *I* don't think Elevator Guy acted with malicious intent at all. I agree with Rebecca that he shouldn't have said anything.You see all the hysterical feminists talked about the misogyny and male privilege? I see all the butthurt male atheists whining about their NEED to talk to women, why CAN'T they talk to women? People need sex! THEY need sex! Women have the sex!!! How do you get it if you can't TALK to them?!?! THAT is the subtext I have seen in the debate, and THAT is the sexism and objectification I'm objecting TOO.As ydgmdlu said, this isn't just about the elevator incident. The discussion it sparked has ranged far and wide and I've seen it before, often, in the comments sections of many, many feminist website and blogs. This is well-tread territory. Rebecca's comment touched a nerve in both female atheists ("I'm sick of getting hit on all the time too!") and in male atheists ("I'm entitled to hit on women!") SOMEwhere there is a compromise between these two reasonable desires, isn't there?

  252. Kestra says

    Uh, and Max? You wouldn't have things like glory holes or elaborate foot-tapping codes in male bathrooms if gay men felt entitled to come on to any man they were attracted to. Nor would you have such a thing as a "gay panic defense" be a legally acceptable argument. (It makes my skin crawl just typing that…)

  253. says

    I love how people immediately dismiss the possibility that Miss Watson could be just flat out lying ("not saying that she is lying, but…"). Why the special concession? Do we give special concession for the likes Ray Comfort and Fred Phelps?We only have her side of the story. Does it make it Gospel truth? Aren't we the people who are skeptics about personal accounts of facts without further evidence? And the Matt goes and say that "His side of the story is irrelevant." Way to go. Maybe the other side of all stories are irrelevant too? I mean, who cares, for example, if most atheists think gay marriage should be legal? We have those nice reports of Christians and even this fine gentleman Charlie The Atheist Guy who thinks marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman, even if man are prohibited of flirting with woman because this will objectify them in some immaginary and offensive way, no doubt scarring the poor Miss Watson forever.My hypo-thesis about this is that we should all turn into ascetic monks and pray to Richard Dawkins – no, Miss Watson rebuked him forever, so we need to pray to Charles Darwin now – because having gay sex is a disease-spreading behavior, while having sex with women is offensive to women. We atheists are doing great, thank you!

  254. says

    @Kestra, how is being just clueless different from not considering her feelings? Here's how: we can't read girls minds. And, as I said, some of us are very bad at reading "signals". The difference is intent. Just because a guy who is bad at reading people missed a "signal" coming from a girl doesn't mean that, if he knew how she felt, he would behave in the same way.Yes, why can't a guy talk to a girl he finds attractive? Present your case. I am not convinced yet. Should guys stop talking to girls? Hey, I would actually prefer that. I am one of those people who are bad at "reading" women. I would love it for a girl to approach me instead of the other way around!I am getting tired of hearing all this about "male privilege." Isn't it the privilege of EVERYONE to talk to, or hit on, anyone else if they want to? Yes, it is. In our society though it is generally the guy who is supposed to hit on the girl. Hell, like I said, sometimes I wish it were the other way around! But that's how it works. Now as I said before, I agree that RW was right in saying "Guys, don't do that." Great advice! We can learn better ways to approach women, when to do so and when not do so.Is there a problem in the atheist community with too many guys hitting on too many girls? Perhaps. Should we be more aware of ourselves? Yes, I agree. But this is, as I've said time and time again, more an example of male ignorance than "male privilege." Most of us guys simply don't know any better and, like I said, we are not that great at reading "signals" and all that. My problem with RW and the skeptic feminists right now is mainly one of degree: they are taking something small and attaching huge labels to it, blowing things way, way out of proportion. In other words, please stop demonizing us guys! Give us a little here. Most of us are nice people just a little misunderstood. We aren't misogynists, don't want to "objectify" women, aren't solely thinking of sex every single time we approach any woman. That's making such sweeping blanket generalizations and to me, it seems unfair.

  255. says

    Kestra: I'm aware that's how things ARE now (gays have to take care with who they flirt, because it's very likely that some Charlie-ish "disgusted by disease" homophobe would feel justified in beating the crap ou of them). I asked if we think that's how it SHOULD be. My opinion is that heterossexual men should not be offended by a well-manered gay flirt, even if we won't correspond to it.By the way, does the blog have any award for bringing our favorite atheist homophobe into a completely unrelated discussion in two posts? Because I would like to claim it, thank you very much.

  256. says

    I also find amusing the Aretha Frankin citation: "FIND OUT what respect means TO ME!". Right, because I have the obligation to guess what a definition means TO YOU, your self-centered idiot. If your definition of respect is not the common one, then either you explain it to me or you shut the fuck up, because I'm not trying to find what it is. Like I'm not trying to guess what Mr Theist thinks God is, if is "the God of the Bible", "Allah", "love and compassion", or "energy".

  257. Kestra says

    "Here's how: we can't read girls minds. And, as I said, some of us are very bad at reading "signals"."And I said it yesterday: There was NO way this particular man didn't already KNOW how this particular woman felt. He had attended her talk. He was present in the bar that night, where she elaborated on her points with a group of people. He heard her say she was tired and going to bed. She clearly expressed her feelings over the course of the day, and he just ignored her. Just flat-out didn't hear or understand or care about what she had been saying. (Like many people during this entire debate…)I'm a bi woman, and I've hit on men. I met my current boyfriend by plunking myself down next to him and inviting myself into the shots he was about to take with someone else. We hooked up that night. I am no stranger to soliciting men I don't know for sex. CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING.I meet a guy at a party. He's got an interesting hat, or he starts chatting with me in the bathroom line (this happened) or he and I are both singing along to the same song. We start talking. I get a read on his character, why he's there, who he's with. He seems receptive, and maybe I go home with him. Perhaps a friend escorts us, to make sure I'm safe. Perhaps the party continues at his place with lots of other people around. Perhaps I take a big risk and go home with him alone. The difference is: I spent all night talking with him, getting to know him, sussing him out. Presumably he did the same with me.This IS NOT the same as a stranger, a real stranger, a man I've never spoken to, soliciting me for sex on an elevator. Or a bus. Or the metro. Or in front of Target at 2 AM. Yes, all of that has happened to me, and I HATE it. I've told the men so (when there were enough other people around). They've been apologetic occasionally. Other times, I'm a "cold bitch with a stick up [my] ass." Which doesn't make me feel all that great or safe. If stating that I Don't Like this behavior and Want It To Stop is "demonizing men", then I'll stop when they do. La!

  258. says

    @Kestra, there is nothing more I can say to you about this. I have stated my point of view, you have stated yours, and I remain skeptical. I am not convinced that the comparison between asking a girl for coffee and soliciting sex amounts to the same thing. And yes, you do seem like a "cold bitch with a stick up your ass." I'm not saying all feminists are that way, of course. I am sure most of them aren't. But from what I've seen here so far, I think I can make that judgment about you, Kestra.

  259. says

    Murphy:I too have spent too much time and energy on this. Maybe I'll just let Kestra, who seems to have as articulate and rational a perspective as anyone, take over from here.However its ironic that I hear most of this rhetoric from other women rather than the “privileged, sexist, misogynist, boyswillbeboys” males you claim are lurking around every corner.You know why that is? Because in this patriarchal society, male sexual activity is viewed much more positively than female sexual activity. Men don't generally have a problem with sex, while women have internalized the ideas of "sex is dirty" and "monogamy is more expected of women." There is an element of shame involved, and women who think that other women don't live up certain feminine ideals think that they are weak and deserve to be derided as "sluts." I'm sure that some schools of feminism (particularly "sex-negative" ones) have this attitude. Despite the impression that I might've given with my previous comments, I'm not playing the "blame men game." Blaming gets no where, and while everyone has responsibility, no one is particularly at fault.And whilst there is no direct word for word translation, lets not pretend like there aren't common stereotypical statements about men being brainless animals who are “led around by” or “thinking with” their dicks.Such epithets are more about ridicule than shame. The social consequences are far less serious.Even if I had no better explanation myself, that doesn't make “the atheist/skeptic community is majority white and male, ergo, the atheist/skeptic community is racist and sexist” a valid argument.Sorry, but the evidence is not your favor. Since you've made no claims to the contrary, I'll conclude that your presence here means that you identify as a rational atheist. I thought that rational atheists assess the validity of an argument based on evidence and reason. What you said would be just like a creationist saying, "Even if I had no better explanation for the evidence myself, that doesn't make the theory of evolution a valid argument."For my money, I don't think its about them being uncomfortable at all. I just don't think they really care.Oh really? Where's your evidence?I'm absolutely up for this, and despite our many differences of opinion, I don't think i've argued to the contrary.This directly contradicts one of your previous comments: "Furthermore, its not the guys fault or even in his capacity to change this. If you wanna see this point change then its up to the women to start initiating sexual or romantic advances with the men. (I'm sure i'll get slammed for this, but I think the same thing basically applies to the ratio of men to women in the atheist/skeptic community. I don't think its intrinsically a boy's club, but even if it is, the only way it will change is if more women join and change it.)"What I am absolutely NOT up for is: Scapegoating. Sensationalism. Persecution complexes. Affirmative action. And unjustifiably making shit up to try and validate a point, even if the general thesis of that point is otherwise correct.Where's your evidence that this is what I and others are doing? It sounds more like a knee-jerk write-off than an attempt to engage the arguments. If you think that my assessment of your position is wrong, then show why I'm wrong. Instead, you continue to assert that your beliefs are based on nothing more than your gut feeling, instead of actually investigating the experience of female atheists.

  260. says

    You really should stop with the whole “you don't get what is wrong with what the guy did” because we do. We do get it. And if the guy really did what you claim then you're correct that he was in the wrong and we would agree with you. The problem is that from the original facts, even as presented by watson herself, there isn't really a clear indication that the guy actually did anything of the sort.Explain how Elevator Guy's, as described by Watson's first-hand account, is anything less than what I have claimed. And I'm not talking about the rape threat.that from what I can draw from the facts didn't actually do anything inappropriateYou claim to "get it," but this statement clearly shows that you don't. What exactly is your interpretation of Elevator Guy's behavior, without interpolating any hypothetical aspects? What don't you think is inappropriate about it? Are you saying that you would behave in the same way in the same situation?What this whole debacle looks like to me is a guy being made into the poster boy for sexism and misogyny, even though for all intensive purposes his only crime was to ask a girl out at an hour past some peoples bedtimes, and then left without a fuss when she said no.NO. He was asking for sex, not coffee. Even if he wasn't literally asking for it, it's the only reasonable interpretation of his request. You must some profoundly ignorant and naive fellow if you think that asking someone whom you just met (in the context of heterosexual interaction) to go back to your room means anything other than a sexual proposition.Has it occurred to you that you don't get why we're so pissed of about this? Has it occurred to you that we find it just as offensive to be constantly labelled unevolved, or to generally be tarred with your broad the brush of sexist bigotry because one guy (which you frankly haven't even demonstrated based on facts) did something wrong?You're upset because we've called you on your sense of entitlement, which you just keep demonstrating. Have I called you sexist? No. Go back and read my words again. I'm sure that you're a pleasant, well-meaning guy. But I'm calling certain attitudes here "sexist"; that clearly doesn't mean that I'm demonizing those who hold such attitudes.I'm not advocating a “boys will be boys” policy, and I think a thorough rereading of the comment thread will show that noone else has either. I've re-read your comments already and I still get a "boys will be boys" sense of entitlement.The reason this is such a big deal for us is that if these perfectly glowing “more evolved males” actually exist at all, we'd all be curious to know how any of them can get dates when we seem to be going down a path where so much as asking a girl to coffee gets you labelled sexist by an entire online community.Again, I specifically said that there's nothing wrong with approaching who someone catches your eye to ask that person for coffee. There's nothing wrong with flirting with or hitting on people, per se. Your statement here is a perfect illustration of an analogy that I made earlier: the complaints that some men voiced upon passage of legislation against sexual harassment, fearing that they would no longer be allowed to do so much as compliment or be friendly towards women in the workplace.

  261. says

    I'm glad that there others willing to pick apart Kestra's rather ridiculous and constant misunderstandings."I see all the butthurt male atheists whining about their NEED to talk to women, why CAN'T they talk to women? People need sex! THEY need sex! Women have the sex!!! How do you get it if you can't TALK to them?!?! THAT is the subtext I have seen in the debate, and THAT is the sexism and objectification I'm objecting TOO."This is getting ugly. How did you get this from anything anyone said? This paragraph is one giant straw man."Butthurt Male atheists?""We 'NEED' women for sex?"(Actually we don't, do I really have to explain this to you?)"How can we get it if we don't TALK to them?"OK, I think will explain it to you. We can masturbate, there's a massive sex industry with prostitutes, porn, sex toys and so on. This is worth pointing out because most men shouldn't feel an urgency to get sex from women, nor a sense of entitlement to it.I second that Kestra does sound frigid. Not to mention quite bad at reading comprehension. I think I pointed out some of this poor comprehension previously, but my posts are not showing up, or maybe this blog is really slow? Is this typical for this site?

  262. says

    Some people here might be surprised to know that despite my very strong feminist views and arguing against male privilege, I am in fact male. Additionally, I am Asian, below average height, very shy, struggling financially, not buff, and very sexually and romantically inexperienced. And of course, I'm an atheist. I am disadvantaged so many ways, which should make me sympathetic to the views of guys like Murphy and George. The only significant privilege that I have is male privilege, which I often don't care to have. I've done plenty of things that I know were "creepy."Perhaps because I am so disadvantaged, I can better recognize privilege and entitlement when I see it. Additionally, I don't particularly identify with either the male or female gender, though I generally lean female nowadays, which means that I don't consider myself to be cisgendered. Additionally, I've recently become bisexual. For me, looking at the situation objectively and rationally, I just cannot see why it's so difficult to understand.The problem, as I see it, is that most men just aren't interested in understanding the perspective of women. They claim to want to learn about it, but the reasons are generally dubious. They certainly rarely try to see things from the female perspective. How would you feel if guys are hitting on you all the time? A few of those times, you might think that it's flattering, even if you find the men unappealing. But then it gets old, and you start to get cynical, wondering how many of these guys really want to get to know you, and how many just want to get in your pants.Again, I am NOT against people hitting on other people, per se. The fact that women have to deal with almost all of it, and men have to deal with almost none, is an unfortunate fact of life that can only be changed if gender roles change. But what makes it contemptible is when a guy isn't just hitting on a girl (i.e., flirting); instead, he opens their interaction with a sexual proposition.And what's even worse is when that guy, and other similarly-minded fellows, think that there's nothing wrong with it, that there's no difference between that and some harmless flirting. This is where the male privilege and entitlement become revealed.

  263. says

    I'm posting Hemant Mehta's very clear-eyed take on the real issue here….[From Friendly Atheist]Some people (mostly men) have said the elevator incident wasn’t a big deal. Here’s what you may not understand (and I don’t think I connected the dots until now):I’ve been to dozens of atheists conferences over the past several years. At just about every one of them, the men have vastly outnumbered the women. As a result, the women become something of a competition for the men. Who can hit on them? Who can sleep with them? Obviously, not all the guys do this and we don’t even talk about it, but enough of them do what Elevator Guy did that the women have basically come to expect it. (And then we wonder why it’s so hard to get them to attend atheist gatherings.) So why not just kick out those individuals who are making the women uncomfortable? It’s not that easy. To begin with, it’s not just a small group of men. Some of them are prominent guys. Some of them have run (or do run) atheist organizations. There’s not always a smoking gun that points to harassment (kind of like in the Elevator Incident), but incidents like that are not uncommon. How do I know this? Because I’ve been around the women who are subject to this treatment. They talk about it. They talk about the “Old Boys’ Network” atmosphere that permeates not only our conferences, but also some organizations and their boards. Sometimes, they’re hit on, and other times, they’re excluded from important conversations and prevented from holding positions of higher authority. It’s a serious problem for us. It doesn’t just apply to one “type” of woman, either. Paradoxically, I think the way we fix this is by getting more women involved in our movement. But we’re pushing them away by treating Elevator-like incidents as if they’re not representative of a larger problem. All of us need to call those incidents out when they happen and educate the people who don’t know better.

  264. says

    I don't think Watson is lying; I have no reason to think that. The story she relates is not prima facie unlikely or absurd.But I do think some of the more, shall we say, eager blogosphere members of Team Rebecca care less about what actually happened on that elevator than they do about the political uses to which the resulting story can be put.To them,it's ammunition. It's Agit-Prop. It's useful whether or not it's true because it portrays a certain kind of behavior by a straight guy in "our community" which they can employ as a case study in, you guessed it, Privilege!Speaking of the Big P…Kestra,On behalf of Murphy, myself and others… When we challenge you on this 'privilege' business it's not because we imagine ourselves living in some egalitarian paradise wherein certain groups and categories of people don't have (and press) unjust advantages over others.Nobody is claiming that.What we object to is one side of the debate claiming a monopoly on ethics and social awareness, okay?If I disagree with you on whether Incident X is an example of Privilege-In-Action, it's not because I dismiss the Privilege issue out of hand or because I care any less than you about people being treated shabbily.Arguing about the applicability of something is not the same as denying that it even exists.

  265. says

    "Maybe I'll just let Kestra, who seems to have as articulate and rational a perspective as anyone, take over from here."This comment was posted before I could point out how Kestra was making a rather crudely worded strawman of many of our arguments. This is funny enough on its own, not withstanding that being articulate and rational having nothing to do with being right.I have a suggestion. How about at the next atheist convention you all discuss actual logical fallacies and relevant arguments, instead of glorifying personality traits. From what I gather, you all pat each other on the back for being "skeptics" or "rational".

  266. says

    Does anyboyd also find strange that the guy would make a nasty pass on Miss Watson moments after she talked about exactly that same issue? Sounds a little fishy. Could anybody confirm that she didn't invented the whole fuss just to strengthen her point? Or that, if the whole situation is true, and that the guy really exists, that the guy was present when she ranted about guys hitting on her? Because, you know, I don't know her or her character, so I can't rule out the possibility, because people sometimes do that.By the way, all this talk about objectifying womem and I didn't see any words about male attraction on lesbian/bissexual women. Because, you know, the vast majority of heterossexual males would love to watch and participate into some girl-on-girl action. Men love to think about two hot girls kissing and touching themselves – but isn't that disrespectful with the lesbian/bissexual women? Should their relationships be fetish fuel for horny males?And porn? Shouldn't we stop consuming pornography, as it is a way of objectifying women, specially some kind of porn (lesbian, gangbang, facials)?I really hope the guys talking about the subject have considered these questions and stopped lusting for two women kissing and consuming porn altogheter, except the kind of porn that feminists would approve.

  267. says

    I have followed this for the last couple of days with some interest, and it seems to me to have been perfectly reasonable by Watson to point out the elevator event as having been creepy, and something that she preferred didn't happen. This is not only an issue of whether or not EG strictly speaking did anything wrong or not, but it's also about what should be done to avoid scaring women away from the community and similar events. I read a couple of articles linked from earlier comments by Martin and Matt, and I think that I, as a male, had my awareness raised a notch.But the main reason I got the idea to chime in here was this:NO. He was asking for sex, not coffee. Even if he wasn't literally asking for it, it's the only reasonable interpretation of his request. You must some profoundly ignorant and naive fellow if you think that asking someone whom you just met (in the context of heterosexual interaction) to go back to your room means anything other than a sexual proposition.Maybe he was asking for sex, but I just can't see how it's the only reasonable interpretation. I don't know what exactly you mean by "in the context of heterosexual interaction" here, but it has been argued elsewhere that EG actually knew who she was. Otherwise he certainly can't have been expected to know about her views. Maybe, just maybe, he actually did find her intellectually interesting and simply wanted to discuss a few issues, and he saw a chance to do so? I'm not saying this wasn't an ill-chosen moment, but I find the idea that this is "the only reasonable interpretation" to be going too far. As if males can not possibly have any other interests in associating with a female human being.

  268. says

    @Max, what's funny is Skepchick and her little naughty calender! Maybe RW is not a "true feminist," because if she was she would clearly see that what she's done with that calendar can be considered "objectifying" women! Oh, it's a little thing you say? Kind of like a guy asking her for coffee? WELL! It's the bigger principles that matter! Boycott Skepchick's calender! Anti-woman! Doesn't she know that her calender is inciting men to rape?

  269. says

    @MattAnderson: That, sir, is a very good point. At least this boring discussion about a guy, a girl and and elevator made atheists disagree ON SOMETHING. Maybe TAM9 will be the BEST TAM9, because people will be on each ones throats. A little feud war can be fun.I personally don't have this kind of problem, because I find myself disagreeing with everyone on the atheist community on 90% of the topics, if not on the opinions, at leats on the arguments or how they are presented.

  270. Kestra says

    I've definitely gotten to the "what are we even arguing about again?" point, but I'd like to say, my little rant about "butthurt male atheists" was largely inspired by the blatantly misogynistic comments that Rebecca received on her vlog about the conference, the 8-minute video that contained maaaybe half a minute addressing the Elevator Encounter. Re-reading the comment, I can see how it is implied I was talking about the arguments being presented in this thread, and I'm sorry that people think I was straw-manning them in particular. When I talked about "this debate" I meant the weeks-long discussion that has raged from Youtube to Pharyngula to BlagHag to Pandagon to FriendlyAtheist, and finally, to here.So sorry if you felt straw-manned, I guess my frigid bitchiness just got the best of me. (And George, yes, I realize not everyone here is denying that privilege exists. But some people are, and I think they should be corrected, since they clearly don't understand the concept.)

  271. says

    I posted a careful response exactly about the content in pornography, unfortunately it appears to have been eaten by the server. I'll try to summarize:Sexually Objectifying: Oxymoron, objects are asexual. Even if it were true, not only is it thought crime, but real application is impractical.Would porn be better to women if we first developed the porn star's character as a crime-fighting superhero with a Ph.D in astrophysics and volunteers for orphans? Maybe, but we sure don't see the puritan branch of feminism promoting this sort of thing. They seem to have a short list of whats acceptable for men to enjoy. On the contrary, the pro-sex feminists seem to dismiss the idea of objectifying women.

  272. says

    Maybe somebody should ask Richard Dawkins the following: a muslim woman is on an elevator at 4:00AM, alone with an unknown man, and he invites her to his room. Does she have good reasons to feel uncomfortable on that situation?

  273. says

    Why it needs to be a muslim woman? Why not just a woman?But the response is simple: if he asks her to go to his room, she declines and the guy says "Ok, sorry, bye", what's exaclty the problem? Anyway, in the case the woman feels the man is being somewhat creepy, she can call security, or even the police if the guy is being extra creepy. If the guy means no harm, he won't have a problem explaining himself. Problem solved.Making this a big fuzz about how man should behave ("Hey guys, don't do this, thanks!") is wrong. It's patronizing. I wonder how women would feel if it was a guy complaining about anything on those exact terms: "Hey girls, don't do this, thanks!".

  274. says

    This all seems very silly to me. Anyone else imagine Dawkins with an Arnold Swarchenegger accent yelling, "Stop Whining!" Just me? ok.

  275. says

    Would porn be better to women if we first developed the porn star's character as a crime-fighting superhero with a Ph.D in astrophysics and volunteers for orphans? Can she dress like a lady pirate? Because that would be the best porn ever.Regarding "did he know Rebecca, did he hear what she said earlier…" I doubt we'll ever know, but if the guy was in the bag we can discount whatever good judgment or social manners he might otherwise have. That's just what booze does.Kestra,YouTube video comments are the best argument I have yet seen for wiping out all higher life forms on the planet and starting over with flatworms.

  276. says

    @ydgmdluExplain how Elevator Guy's, as described by Watson's first-hand account, is anything less than what I have claimed. And I'm not talking about the rape threat.Sorry, I am actually done, but it seems that one of my comments from my last rant got chewwed by the spam filter. I will just repost this section of it because I want to clear up this point because its fairly central to my whole objection ot this senario. Reposting:But there are situations that are very clear. The elevator incident is clear. The woman was not in the mood for any activity at the time, let alone sex, and yet the man does nothing but ask for sex.I feel i've had to repeat this so many times now, but is this what actually happened? Admittedly i've tried to avoid anything after the initial statements as I frankly believe that the well has now been poisoned by so many people just making shit up post-hoc to prove their point, mutating the story so badly that its hard to tell original fact from bad conjecture, but from the initial posts its not clear at all. Even from Watson's one sided perspective of the story, in her original comment about the guy, her ONLY reason for thinking it inappropriate was nothing more than the time and place the proposition occurred in. It wasn't in fact ANYTHING the guy actually said or did (I think she said that he “wasn't Bundyish”?).It seems to me based on the actual facts, that you and others believe elevator guy should have somehow (perhaps through ESP) known she was going to say no before he actually propositioned her, and that was his crime. If elevator guy actually did harassed her after she said 'no' as you and others imply, then fine, your completely correct, he shouldn't have done that. But nothing in the actual facts presented in the original description of events should lead us to think this is the case. All we know is he propositioned her (admittedly in a setting she found uncomfortable for personally subjective reasons). She said no. He left without a fuss. Everything beyond that as far as I can see (making him out to be some drooling lecherous drunk sociopathic harasser) is sensationalised crap made up afterwards by commentators.

  277. says

    Lol @ George's comments.Seems like the discussion has sort of cooled down a bit. But I'm still shaking my head that The Atheist Experience members have taken such a white knight stance on how women should be treated.I'm hoping someone will address my calling them out for hypocrisy. They make a TV show that offends and perhaps scares many Christians, then turn around and say offending and scaring people is horrible, lets jeer at the men who inadvertently do it to women.I say, follow you own logic. Stop broadcasting The Atheist Experience.

  278. says

    @thomasExcellent article. It was basically what I’ve been trying to say the whole time but much more succinct.

  279. says

    @Thomas and Murphy, EXACTLY! It's just that when a man (like me or one of you) says it, it sounds like "male privilege" or misogyny. I really liked that article!

  280. says

    Tomas said… I'd also say that Skeptoid's blog post should be required reading as well. I've found her blog post incredibly persuasive after having read all of Watson's replies to Dawkins.————————————It's not too bad in a peace making sort of way, but there's things she, dare I say it, doesn't get.She, like many people, overstates the whole "he could be a rapist" thing. Which is a fundamental problem that keeps coming up.It goes like this:Guy propositions in liftGal says don't do that it makes me uncomfortable, nervous even.People reply: Awkward perhaps but why would that make someone nervous uncomfortable etc?Because, to some extent, of vulnerability to rape and sexual assault.And there it stops. Even when someone says "Because he could have been a rapist" what they are talking about is the above, most of the time. He's not a rapist. She may not even have felt overly threatened. But it's likely that this is uncomfortable because of rape to some extent.I suppose this is a little hard to grasp. Half of this debate seems to be fumbling over Psych and Soc concepts with a long discourse that just annoy a lot of individualists and logicians who aren't familiar and happen to be men (but some women too, and Skeptoid editors in this case). And some of the people they end up talking to don't necessarily care to bridge that gap. In fact it'd be an interesting survey just to see how you could break the sides down along the lines of education. I venture that some familiarity with feminisms somewhat esoteric language makes a lot of the terms thrown about seem less severe. But I'm guessing.Too many people seem to have osmosed Rush Limbaugh's version of feminism instead and feel they must fight it (despite sometimes being lifelong liberals who'd never listen to the man).

  281. says

    btw MattAnderson: It's a stupid argument and no one should give it credence, that's why.Sexual assault is demonstrable, god is not. As far as I'm aware tAE crew don't go around cornering people in lifts and telling them there is no god.And 'white knight' in this context is a vile term only employed by toolboxes. Don't use it.

  282. says

    @Muz, Don't you see how you're embellishing the story right now? Using language like "cornering them in a lift" is sensationalist rhetoric! I am a skeptic, therefore I am skeptical of RW's interpretation of what happened in that elevator. Also, I am skeptical of any and all "isms"–including feminism. Several skeptic feminists whom I have spoken with seem to be treating RW's story as a kind of (if I may use the phrase here) "gospel truth." To me, this ardent defense for all the little details in the story–and of what is supposedly its only interpretation–reeks of dogmatism. And being a skeptic, I challenge any and all dogmas. So what's the problem with that?

  283. says

    @MuzI suppose this is a little hard to grasp. Half of this debate seems to be fumbling over Psych and Soc concepts with a long discourse that just annoy a lot of individualists and logicians who aren't familiar and happen to be men (but some women too, and Skeptoid editors in this case)Jeez, more of the “we just don't get it talk”… Further to the unjustified sensationalism that Dave just pointed out in your retelling, I get it ok. She was perfectly justified feeling awkward, nervous, uncomfortable, threatened etc. She was perfectly justified in conveying that she felt those things to a conference audience. However she (or more aptly her followers) are not justified in blaming elevator guy for her personal subjective hangups about certain social interactions.I notice that still nobody has answered my previous cigarette/wallet thought experiment on this. If a large stranger comes up to me on the street late at night asking for a cigarette, I may have been justified in fearing a beating and robbery, but I can't logically get from “i felt threatened” to “he actually took threatening actions against me and is at fault” when all the really did was ask for a cigarette and then leave. The feelings, as uncomfortable as they were, existed only in my head.Wanna talk psychology? The feminists here have externalised their own personal hangups in the form of an 'elevator guy piñata' that they can smack around to make themselves feel better because they have a persecution complex built around the world apparently being a big old boys club.

  284. says

    Dave; you might have said something on this earlier I missed, but I don't see how it's sensationalist rhetoric at all unless you're anal to the point of absurdity. I don't see any ardent defense or gospel truth. I se taking someone at their word. And since the situation is already known to have been mild, what makes you feel like you have to break it down like a crime scene?'Cornering' might have certain violent implications for you. It does not for me. It means an enclosed space one cannot readily escape from. A moving elevator is one of those.

  285. says

    Jesus Murphy, get a grip. Did you actually read what I wrote?Also blaming elevator guy? What's your obsession with blame here? What, you want a legal ruling? Some discussion elsewhere might have set it off. You're perfectly justified in not paying attention to anyone asking for one. Anyone wanting a moral absolute out of this isn't going to get one. It certainly isn't what I care about. Yeah EG should have known better. Yeah I suspect, if he's read any of this, now he does. And perhaps anyone who saw Watson's video might think twice about their approach from now on too.Communication. It's great.

  286. says

    Well, looks like I did get a response. I think Dave got the gist of Muz's dishonesty here. But for the sake of argument…"Sexual assault is demonstrable, god is not."OK, I'm sort of stuck trying to decipher this. But I think what your saying is fear of rape=rational, fear of lack of God=irrational. I don't have a problem with how she feels. Feelings tend to be instinctual anyway.I have a problem with her gossiping about this on the internet, then justifying it by aggrandizing the story into sexism (and the oxymoronic "sexual objectification"). This is pure narcissism and self promotion, as the rest of her actions affirms."And 'white knight' in this context is a vile term only employed by toolboxes."White Knighting is vile behavior, men thinking they have to rush to protect women from any and all criticism, or especially from male advances in this case. Now that is what's really demeaning if you ask me. Besides, aren't you using a No True Scotsman fallacy to say only toolboxes use it?And on the matter,"It's a stupid argument and no one should give it credence, that's why."Oh really? I love your acerbic language, but unfortunately your rather lazy and dishonest explanation doesn't help me understand much.I'll make yet another suggestion: How about people double check for logical fallacies before they post. The entire "you just don't get it", is both an ad hominem and a crutch for lazy debate. Go ahead, convince me with reason.

  287. says

    @MuzIgnoring the fact that the situation is now allot bigger and has allot more voices than just Watson, if her only position about being hit on was “i felt uncomfortable” then I would agree with you, the issue probably won't have blown out of all proportion, and we probably won't even be having this discussion at all. This isn't what happened though. She said “i felt uncomfortable, don't do it guys”. How ever much of a subtlety you may see this as, there is a difference. In the first she is saying that she personally has a problem with certain social situations, in the second, she's saying that her problem with certain social situations is somehow other peoples faults. That is blame right there. That is my problem with this.As I said, if elevator guy actually did act in a sexist, objectifying, misogynist manner, or did actually threaten and harass her after she said she wasn't interested, then fine, EG should have known better. However nothing like that can be drawn from the facts, even as presented by Watson. He asked her to coffee. She said no. He left. Simply making it a specific time of day or a specific place doesn't make it inappropriate by fiat.Yeah EG should have known better.We'll probably never come to an agreement on this issue. I'm not saying the guy was smooth, or that its something I would have done, but I don't see that he's actually done anything wrong, so when you write things like this, what I actually read is “Yeah EG should have known better than to inadvertently crossed one of Rebecca Watson's personal emotional hangups about being asked out by guys.” and I just find that an unreasonable expectation of other people.

  288. says

    After having wasted a whole day posting and ruminating on this garbage, I'm done. If all of Skepchick's supporters want to go so far to part ways with Dawkins, so be it. I still say Rebecca is a self-promoting narcissist, and any attempts to dissuade her will get uglier and uglier.

  289. says

    Yeah, I'm getting sick of this too. We're all arguing over a 1 to 2 minute interaction here. There's this kind of persecution complex that I see in the feminist movement–and I'm seeing it here in the secular community even among people whom I normally admire. What just boggles my mind is that they say that the reason we men "don't get it" is because of our "male privilege." Yet, as Skeptoid's article illustrates, criticism of Skepchick is coming from women as well. So where's this "male privilege?" It's not there. And I'm out!

  290. says

    Hello internets! I seem to be on a double-posting spree and will delete this post if it happens again.You seem to accept that "she was perfectly justified feeling awkward, nervous, uncomfortable, threatened etc." That's plenty to work with!Four likely reasons why "elevator guy" made rkwatson feel uncomfortable:(1) She just spoke about how she didn't like being propositioned. She also indicated that she wanted to sleep. Apparently he felt is was okay to ignore her stated desires. Ignoring another person's wishes is a socially aggressive, egocentric behavior— and it can be very stressful for the recipient.(2) He isolated her in an elevator instead of talking to her in a public area. This is an example of a coercive behavior, intentional or not. More stress. It doesn't really matter very much whether he was striking a menacing pose or not.(3) Women usually give signals if they are interested in men. He screwed up here as well. More stress.(4) He propositioned a near-complete stranger. This is important.Even if you can imagine yourself enjoying being propositioned by a stranger in the middle of the night in a confined space, that does not mean that many women would enjoy being in that position.There is an often cited study from 1989 regarding how women react to propositions from strangers. The verdict: not a single woman in the study liked it. This may not have been a perfect study, but it matched fairly convincingly with many, many more recent studies.A more recent and in-depth study showed that many women enjoy casual sex, and plenty are interested in short-term relationships— but the vast majority do not like being propositioned by strangers. In fact, it was listed as a "uniquely repulsive" scenario.You can read more about that here: http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/gender-differences-and-casual-sex-the-new-research/So, we all know that causing significant amounts of stress to another person can be psychologically damaging. It isn't the kind of thing we want to intentionally burden other people with.And it is highly likely that at atheist-skeptic-humanist conventions, as with other male-dominated conventions, women shrug off much, much worse than this relatively trivial incident.As an isolated incident, elevator guy doesn't seem to bother rkwatson very much. But it's not an isolated incident. It happens all the time.If you read through the various blogs discussing the incidents, there are any number of comments from women on the matter. To quote an example from Pharyngula: "I know that the vast majority of people are pleasant enough, but it simply isn’t worth the stress of having a strange man follow me into a parking lot, touch my breasts and behind 'accidentally' repeatedly in a bar, having someone follow me into an elevator or otherwise be harassed. The time I had a male escort it was better, but I don't like having to drag someone every time just to feel comfortable." This is echoed by many other similar examples.So, as Matt Dillahunty said much earlier in the conversation:"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."This is one reason why. Not the elevator incident. A pattern of elevator incidents.In light of this conversation, is it constructive to project ourselves on to elevator guy and prepare his defense? Or is it more constructive to find out what we can do about the stress and unwelcome behavior that bothers many female members?

  291. says

    Matt""Sexual assault is demonstrable, god is not."OK, I'm sort of stuck trying to decipher this. But I think what your saying is fear of rape=rational, fear of lack of God=irrational. I don't have a problem with how she feels. Feelings tend to be instinctual anyway.I have a problem with her gossiping about this on the internet, then justifying it by aggrandizing the story into sexism (and the oxymoronic "sexual objectification"). This is pure narcissism and self promotion, as the rest of her actions affirms."Funny. I thought we were talking about whether the show is being hypocritical. Seems like you agree that they aren't."White Knighting is vile behavior, men thinking they have to rush to protect women from any and all criticism, or especially from male advances in this case. Now that is what's really demeaning if you ask me. Besides, aren't you using a No True Scotsman fallacy to say only toolboxes use it?"Er, no. I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. Doubt I see you're keen to erase.If you want to play fallacies with that idiotic wanker term, 'white knighting' as it is generally employed by frat boy douches across the world is a quick way to dismiss the argument of any male who speaks on behalf of women. "They're just defending them because they're old fashioned pedestal pushers or out to curry favour with the ladies". That makes it well poisoning and ad hominem to boot.Murphy: Yeah, I think you've split that hair so fine you could snort it. Which isn't to say you're outright wrong. I just can't fathom why it needs this kind of analysis. It seemed like a simple relation of advice. It is also his problem and his actions that need altering, however slightly. If that's 'blame' then yeah, I guess it is. I don't think the onus is on Watson or women at large to toughen up about propositions in lifts. I also think the 'punishment' in this instance is "careful next time" and everyone's been made aware of feelings they maybe hadn't considered before. That's it. Some might want more than that. I don't think they should get it. So the blame aspect doesn't seem terribly worrying to me.So yeah, 'should' have known better is over stating it. That's just a teacher-ly expression, I guess. The lift and the time of day is material in this though. Its definitely part of any consideration. It will increase the likelihood of unnerving a woman you haven't really interacted with previously. RW has done her bit in forewarning any other fellas regarding the incident. Other women have chimed in that they agree. Net knowledge increased slightly.The talk of sexual objectification, sexism, misogyny etc. This is vaguely what I was on about earlier. Some feminists do use these terms in specific angry ways, but I think most of them do not. They are often speaking in broader socio-cultural terms that don't often apply easily to individual actions and motivations (even though some people try). What these blog blow-up incidents generally show is that a lot of people do find them really inflammatory (and some people do use them in an inflammatory way, its true). But if they understood the whole feminist dialogue better it wouldn't seem so bad sometimes (but again, sometimes it is an attack so…). The dialogue for that is having a rough birth though.It would probably help if a lot of feminist discussions saw this and held back on the terminology a bit and realised there's an esoteric or insulting component to it all. Leading off with "Sexism in the Atheist community" or whatever, for instance, just gets people's backs up. It sounds a bit spin-y I s'pose but while the dialogue is as fractured as it is it might be better to stick with 'fostering inclusiveness' and so on. I mean, that inclusiveness is actually what everyone wants I think.

  292. says

    I venture that some familiarity with feminisms somewhat esoteric language makes a lot of the terms thrown about seem less severe. But I'm guessing.Too many people seem to have osmosed Rush Limbaugh's version of feminism instead and feel they must fight it (despite sometimes being lifelong liberals who'd never listen to the man).I'm a lifelong Conservative with a shelf full of feminist and gender studies books ranging from Brownmiller to Paglia. I've not only read Judith Butler but translated her into English. ;)I can keep up quite well, thanks.I feel no need or desire to "fight" feminism itself; my quarrel is with those who would turn feminism into a photo-negative of the gender bigotry it was supposed to overthrow.

  293. says

    @MuzI think you've split that hair so fine you could snort it. Which isn't to say you're outright wrong. I just can't fathom why it needs this kind of analysis.I agree, it is splitting a hair. The reason is that from this one hair, it grew into much larger issue with allot more voices than just Watsons, where you have even the hosts of TAE saying that Elevator Guy exemplifies everything that is wrong with sexism and misogyny in the atheist community, and I simply don't agree this is the case. Splitting hairs though it may be I think the minutia of how this situation actually started and came to be is important to examine if the situation is justified. I must say though, I do agree with pretty much everything you just wrote.

  294. says

    Rebecca originally posted that *she* does not like it and don't sexualize *her*. I can respect that, especially considering her experiences. If she is going to continue to attend conferences, it is important to bring it up. Keeping it personal is the correct way.However to extrapolate it to everyone, is simply wrong. Saying *all* women at *all* times would find this "creepy" is equally misogynistic as saying it wasn't "creepy" at all. It implies that women are nothing but victims, never like to be hit on and/or enjoy/want casual sex, and need to be protected at all times from the big scary men coming over the hill. It is dehumanizing to women and offensive to normal men.

  295. says

    @Sorien So you only have the courage to proposition a woman in isolated locations with the woman's back against the wall. And if any woman complains about this they should keep it to themselves. I can extrapolate that all such men are spineless, including Sorien.

  296. says

    Sorien, while we can not extrapolate research to everyone at all times, there are decades of studies that indicate the vast majority of women in the United States feel uncomfortable when they are propositioned by men that they do not know. It is generally perceived as a stressful, high-risk, low-reward situation. It is also fairly commonplace in science-fiction conventions, dungeons and dragons events, Mensa clubs, STEM conferences, and other male-dominated groups. It's one reason why women don't show up. But you probably already know all of this.The statistics aren't misogynistic but they do imply that women in the U.S. live under a slightly different framework than men. Perhaps men should be more aware of that, especially if they want more women to become active in their community.Of course, like you said, none of this means that many women don't like being hit on or that they don't enjoy casual sex. But context is crucial.

  297. says

    Well against better judgement, I'm back. I really want to make myself clear on this hypocrisy issue, because its the one damn thing I want to see resolved from this. The Atheist Experience members argued that Elevator Guy was out of line based on this premise:-Forms of speech should be shut down if it could possibly offend or frighten someone.That would certainly have proven Elevator Guy wrong. But it would also mean the TV show should stop airing. Plenty of callers have talked about being offended, or in Mark's case, people are afraid for their children going to hell after viewing it. And what do the hosts defend the show with?-You don't have a right not to be offended.I have said Rebecca's feelings are irrelevant because things like taking offense are terrible arbitrators. They are too subjective. Its true, I've called her narcissistic. (Do you disagree with this characterization?) And guess what? Its not relevant to speech issues either.Maybe I could have avoided confusion on my arguments by saying simply, her actions are selfish. Her actions are self promoting. Her actions are destructive. I have brought up pattern narcissism because we should distrust her motives. I think thats a smart thing to do.As for the white knight thing, you don't like the term? Well how about veiled chauvinism. TAE is giving special rules Rebecca because she is a woman. The implication is women are delicate flowers who need to be protected by men. They go on to say this: They call detractors ignorant, and pretend to speak for all women by saying men just don't get it. This not well poisoning or ad hominem (not my intention at least) to point this out.

  298. says

    Way, WAAAAY too much hyperbole in this article. I do expect such "I bet you can guess who's side we're on" rhetoric if I pull up a Michele Bachmann video, but not here. It should never be here. The core issue here is sexism, plain and simple. Is it cool? No.Now, one has to examine who was sexist? We have two individuals, one of whom made a joke about one person of the opposite sex, and we have another person who told an entire half the species how to behave. If you had to play Spot the Sexist, which one would logically get your vote?Imagine, if you will, the one who told the other half of the species how to act was a male and a female derided it with a joke. I would imagine that the male would look like a pig and the female would get several rounds of 'go, sister!' – and rightfully so.Step outside your reproductive organs and examine. Stop reacting.

  299. says

    Are you guys serious? A men hits on a woman and she fells offended. Is that the issue?Some adults behave in ways that would make teenagers shake their heads."Look at me, a guy made a pass at me! Poor me! Don't do that!"Really? Can't see why one would complain about it (normal life anyone?) or why it merits a comment. Grow up.

  300. says

    @ MattAndersonCan you point me to where anyone involved with TAE has said that "forms of speech should be shut down if it [sic] could possibly offend or frighten someone"? It seemed to me that Matt D. meant only to admonish everyone that many women at atheist conferences suffer a large number of unwanted advances. Elevator Guy is simply one example. If we care about increasing women's representation in the atheist movement, it seems that many men simply need education on not making advances in inappropriate contexts. However offensive people in this thread find that point, it happens to be true.Your allegations of hypocrisy on the part of the TAE crowd are attenuated at best. Broadcasting ideas through published media and cornering someone in a place they cannot readily escape are not the same thing. If Matt D. were to corner a perfect stranger in an elevator at 4 am and explain to that person without solicitation why there is no god, the stranger would be justified in calling out his inappropriate behavior. Likewise, if Elevator Guy had made a YouTube video in which he expressed his attraction to Ms. Watson and suggest they meet up sometime, well, the creepiness would still be there, but not the sinister aspects of cornering someone you've never met in an enclosed space late at night. Further, the latter scenario wouldn't have the secondary effect of dissuading Ms. Watson and other women from attending future conferences.You brought up freedom of speech, which seems completely inapposite to me, but I can speak that language if we must. In the US, the state cannot regulate the content of speech. This is consistent with the principle of free speech: people should be free to express whatever ideas they want, whether or not the state or other privileged groups find them objectionable. This should apply to sexual propositioning as well. But even in the US, where freedom of speech is as near absolute as anywhere, there are still "time, place, and manner" restrictions. Speaking in these terms, even if a sexual proposition is acceptable content, all alone in a closed elevator at 4 am is an unacceptable time, place, and manner. Put more simply, it's all about context.

  301. says

    @ viejoAre you serious? A man hits on a woman in an enclosed elevator at 4 am, after she just told a crowded bar that she was exhausted and ready for bed, and after she spent the day telling audiences how tired she was of uninvited sexual advances, and you can't understand that she might have something to complain about?Grow up.

  302. Martin says

    MattAnderson: I fail to understand what is so "white knight" about suggesting that it's a nice idea to be respectful of women, their personal space, and their preferences regarding such things as the desirability of being propositioned by strangers in elevators at 4 AM.Conflating this with the imaginary notion that women should never be criticized at any time is the kind of straw man distortion I'd expect from the Becks and Fox Newses and Ray Comforts of the world.

  303. Mamba24 says

    Martin said.." I fail to understand what is so "white knight" about suggesting that it's a nice idea to be respectful of women, their personal space, and their preferences regarding such things as the desirability of being propositioned by strangers in elevators at 4 AM."-I don't think anyone on here is suggesting, or has suggested, that we don't respect women, their personal space, or their preferences. Rebbecca has every right to her preferences and opinions regarding what is appropriate and what isn't.(Time of day, location, how well acquainted with the guy, etc..)However, that doesn't mean that she speaks for all women at all times. As I've said before, different women with different preferences and lifestyles would have responded differently in this situation. And no doubt this does happen. Rebbecca denied the guy, the guy didn't press on. End of story. Just because Rebbecca holds a certain opinion on intimate issues, doesn't mean that people with different opinions are by default "sexists" or "misogamists". It doesn't mean that they don't respect other people's opinions, including Rebbecca's. Rebbecca was right to deny the guy's advance. If she had accepted the guy's advance, she would also be right. This doesn't mean that she gets to tell all guys how to approach women, and under what circumstances they get to do it. Your only argument Martin, seems to be "Oh well if you don't agree with me, then you must not respect women and their preferences, in other words, you're a sexist"………No. I completely respect women, and that respect covers all women with different values, lifestyles, preferences, and opinions on issues like these.

  304. says

    Speaking of straw men, how about this from Amy Roth at Skepchick, here equating male criticism of Watson with the belief that women should not be allowed to have their own thoughts and feelings – about anything. I'm not kidding.

  305. says

    My mistake for bringing up women should never be criticized, it was hyperbolic and not appropriate to this.But my impression of Matt D's admonishing is that it sounds rather pragmatic."We have a problem in our community – women are underrepresented. That's an issue we'd like to correct."I mean, is it crossing the line to ask you if this is coloring your opinion on the issue? Seeing these comments, it sounds like an interesting feminist discussion(imo) has been shushed away with "entitled loser guys" or "clueless doofs"."Oh hell, is Elevatorgate going to ruin TAM9?" is the title of this thread, and the tone of most of Matt D's posts.If I had to speculate, low female attendance is a cycle of: Less females present-> more proportional male advances-> more women leaving.This is a problem unto itself. Rather, a cheap fix is being used, by capitalizing on some moron's mistake and giving everyone an after school lecture on respecting women. (Which will lead to some elevator pranks I'm guessing.)I'm sure most atheists have experienced that merely stating what we are will shock and offend many of the religious. After all, we are implying they wasted their whole lives on false religions. And now we are being preached to about not making women uncomfortable? Are women being put on a pedestal, or are Christians sub-human?As for how men should treat women, I say: Act within the law. Men tend to get better at talking to women by actually doing it, not by being given state-the-obvious lectures. (Especially if this incident is the norm).If I have a bad read on this situation, I'm very sorry. My comments have been somewhat vitriolic, but I was really suprised by all this.

  306. says

    Vincent, she wasn't 'telling a whole gender what to do'. She was at best only addressing men who hit on complete strangers. And I see it more as giving advice to them if they want to avoid creeping the woman out, than telling them what to do.And I don't think it's valid to play 'let's reverse the situation'. Men don't feel threatened by women in enclosed spaces in the middle of the night in the same way – the situations are not analogous.As for whether it would sexist for a guy to give advice to all woman hitting on men, that would probably depend on the advice. 'Don't bring up marriage in the first two minutes' – probably not sexist advice.

  307. says

    White knights crying about sexism whilst using sexist arguments and terminology is not doing their argument any favours. It seems the Atheist Experience contributors have forgotten all their previous teachings in this argument– (ad-hominen attacks, double standardising, strawmen etc.)

  308. says

    I woke up this morning and suddenly realized that the thing Rebecca and the others are reacting against is the out of hand dismissals coming from many of us males in the community–and which is typified in the Dawkins remark. They are upset that we are failing to see any problem with these kinds of issues. True, Elevatorgate was in itself not a huge deal, but it is our crass dismissal of how she felt about it (and many other similar happenings, where females are somewhat targeted by over-eager males) that they have a problem with. So I've come to realize that hey, let's just let it go–and try to be more aware of how we act around females in our community. I think I finally "get it."

  309. says

    @DaveAnd what about the crass dismissals of how everyone else feels about this? Seems to me that people are giving one persons opinion too much attention and ignoring everyone elses opinion as "sexist" or "mysoginist" or "ignorant".

  310. says

    @hannanibal, I now believe this whole thing has been blown way, way out of proportion–from both sides, really. Yes, you're right. There has been an overreaction of sorts coming from several skeptic feminists in the community. But we (on the other side) have made it worse, I think. That is, if we had just said, "Hey, good point. We'll work on it" then they might not have started bringing up as much of the misogyny talk and all that. So now I'm just giving up–letting the grudge go–saying, "I see your point, I'm more aware of how many women in the community are sometimes treated by us men, and I'll work on it." I just want to move on with my life. I've been obsessing over this for a couple of days now–commenting here, or on FB or Reddit. Well, I'm done. It's not worth it.

  311. says

    Yes, we need to hash this out more. Not the Rebecca Watson/Richard Dawkins thing, though. That deserves a better debate on feminism.I think me, hannanibal, and maybe others feel like hardcore fans who have seen The Atheist Experience abandon their wonderful debating logic just to make a simple point to people like Dave. Maybe it was all worth it.But I don't think so. My stake in this was always more about The Atheist Experience. You guys are a virtual megaphone for atheism. You're on public TV, gaining massive popularity on the youtube, get callers from over the world, and are notorious among the religious. And if anything, religious conflicts are the most dangerous the world has ever seen.Why are you abandoning your stance "you don't have a right to not be offended" for a damn Mars/Venus problem? Can't you find a way to inform everyone while not using fallacies?If we start from false premises, we get false answers.

  312. says

    @Dude. Yep. It's seriously too far now but I don't agree with accepting an argument simply because one side has decided to sling stereotypical insults at the other side and/or one is too tired to argue. I cannot say "good point" when there is no good point. I understand your ennui with this whole debacle though. I don't think we would have had such a flame-war if Martin's original post had been impartial.

  313. says

    @Dave – I don't know if you will see this, but I just wanted to say that you have gained a few respect points for those last comments

  314. says

    OMG. What a non-issue!As a woman, I find the repeated assertions that 'women' are offended by propositioning for casual sex, or that women feel threatened when alone with a man in an elevater completely sexist!Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill! Some clown (presumably drunk) makes a pass at you, you tell him to get lost, you both go to your separate rooms – end of story.We all know this guy was not going to win any prizes for sophistication or class, and that he was very unlikely to get a 'yes', but why on Earth shouldnt he proposition someone he fancies? Why does this have to turn into an 'all men are bastards' and 'all women are virgins until marriage' scenario?If you expect anyone you meet in an elevater at 4am to be a shining example of wit and charm, the you live in a very different world than I do.

  315. says

    Asking someone back to your room at 4am is pretty much asking them for sex. Asking someone who you do not know for sex is creepy. Why is this so difficult for men to understand? Most women have to put up with this sort of behaviour CONSTANTLY from men who assume that we want to sleep with them. From getting shouted at from car windows (a daily experience for most women in my immediate circle) to unwanted advances in social situations we find it extremely unattractive and completely annoying. She'd probably just had enough, we all have. It just isn't acceptable! He wasn't asking her to dinner or out for a drink, he was asking her to have sex with a total stranger. I know this sort of fantasy encounter in a lift is the staple of letters to men's magazines but in reality, seriously, is not on! We are not all raging slags ready to drop our knickers at the merest hint of interest from some random bloke in a lift. The irony of all this is that if men were more respectful when they are interested in a person, they'd have a better chance of getting laid……..strange that……I don't describe myself as a feminist but honestly you have NO IDEA what we have to deal with on a daily basis from pig-ignorant, crass, and just plain rude men. A little flirting is nice in the right situation but seriously, talk to us with your brains, not your winkies!!

  316. says

    @Miss Bruise VioletYou don't speak for all womankind. Stop preaching on behalf of 50% of the global population. There are plenty of women who do not find this behaviour "creepy" or "sexist". If you would rather have men get to know you better before asking if you want to drink coffee then that's fair enough but all men are not gonna change their ways just because you feel they should.

  317. says

    No comment.But listen to the latest "Pod Delusion" podcast for an alternate view.It isn't about Dawkins. It's about unwarranted fear.

  318. says

    @Hannanibal, please take a moment to read:http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/gender-differences-and-casual-sex-the-new-research/Especially note the very beginning where they explain that among American women, being propositioned for sex by a stranger is a "UNIQUELY REPULSIVE" scenario. If we are talking about the U.S., you don't have very much room to suggest that plenty of women might welcome this behavior. Pretty much every study since 1989 states that random sexual propositions from strangers are a no-go and cause stress. Even if you are Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt, your prospects are not particularly good (although if you are a celebrity, many women noted that they are more welcoming of advances because they already have an idea of who you are). It may sound nice to say that “some women are fine with it” but you haven’t offered a good reason to throw out years of empirical research.Of course, there is additional context that you are aware of: she had just given a speech (where I understand that he was present—correct me if I am wrong) about how she found behavior like this problematic. She was also available to talk with him in the bar all night (where he was also present—but chose not to flirt or even talk with her). As always, context is important; if it was a similar proposition at a singles’ bar, nobody would have noticed.Certainly, it was a relatively minor event and by itself is easy to shrug off. So was the response: "Hey guys, don't do stuff like that, thanks." Seriously, what's wrong with that? Why does this advice bother you? If you want, you can even take this statement to mean “don’t do stuff like that to me, rkwatson.” That shouldn’t be too hard for you.If that isn’t enough, however, here’s another perspective to approach the situation: the difference between flirtation and harassment.Although it is something of a teeny mag, you may also want to take a few seconds and look over http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/double_feature_harassment_and_flirting.In regards to the difference between flirting and harassment, it reads: "we can think of flirting as things we do to put our interest in someone out there in ways we suspect they'll welcome, feel comfortable with and which would incline them to want to connect with us more. We can think of harassment as putting our feelings or wants out there in ways that either would not likely be welcomed […]"So, if you read the study above, you already know that late night sexual propositions are generally not welcomed by American women. Do you make a connection here?Do you see the difference between "Oh, cool, you like robots too!" and "That point you made about x in your lecture was very interesting." vs. "Want to come back to my hotel room?"The first two comments are assertive and are likely to be welcomed (flirting); the last one is aggressive and is not likely to be welcomed (vaguely touching on harassment).

  319. Mamba24 says

    "Certainly, it was a relatively minor event and by itself is easy to shrug off. So was the response: "Hey guys, don't do stuff like that, thanks." Seriously, what's wrong with that? Why does this advice bother you? If you want, you can even take this statement to mean “don’t do stuff like that to me, rkwatson.” That shouldn’t be too hard for you."-Yes and Rebbecca is justified in voicing her opinion on this matter, and she is totally right to find this type of propositioning "creepy" or "inappropriate". Nobody here is saying that she is wrong to hold the lifestyle preferences she does. That doesn't mean she gets to tell the rest of the male world what to do in these situations."Of course, there is additional context that you are aware of: she had just given a speech (where I understand that he was present—correct me if I am wrong) about how she found behavior like this problematic."-And how do you know he was actually present? Or if he even listened to the speech? Are we just blindly assuming that he had his eyes on her the whole night thinking to himself "Ohhhhhh later tonight, later tonight yesssssss……" Really? I don't think we should be presuming to know what this guy was doing, or what was going through his head during the night. Maybe he never paid much attention to her that night until the elevator, then after talking to her for a few minutes he "propositioned" her? Simply saying that she made a speech earlier that night, and he may or may not have been there, and he may or may not have listened to the speech, is stretching it a little.

  320. Mamba24 says

    "She was also available to talk with him in the bar all night (where he was also present—but chose not to flirt or even talk with her)."-Again we are assuming that he had his attention on her the entire time? That he consciously thought to himself "Oh I'm not going to talk to her until the elevator where I will make my move". Maybe he was flirting with other women in the bar? Idk, this just seems like people are desperate to find reasons to bash this guy, and it's totally unjustified. "As always, context is important; if it was a similar proposition at a singles’ bar, nobody would have noticed."-So you are saying that if this happened at a bar, same situation where they were complete strangers to each other, maybe talked for a minute or two, that Rebbecca would have just ignored it and not said anything? Not so sure about that. Depends on who the girl is. I wouldn't be surprised if Rebbecca had still gotten on her computer that night and said something similar, "Guys don't proposition women at bars that are complete strangers to you, thanks" Sorry, it's a big world out there, with lot's of different people with different values and lifestyles. As long as no one is hurt, or forced to do something they don't wish to do, or pushed to do something, then we don't really have anything to talk about. There's a lot of things that may make me feel extremely uncomfortable, doesn't mean I get to get on my computer and tell everyone to act a certain way in order to make myself feel better.

  321. Mamba24 says

    "Although it is something of a teeny mag, you may also want to take a few seconds and look over http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/double_feature_harassment_and_flirting. In regards to the difference between flirting and harassment, it reads: "we can think of flirting as things we do to put our interest in someone out there in ways we suspect they'll welcome, feel comfortable with and which would incline them to want to connect with us more. We can think of harassment as putting our feelings or wants out there in ways that either would not likely be welcomed […]"-And I don't think the elevator incident applies to this definition, if you read further down the page, the author explains in further detail the difference between harassment and flirting."When we're flirting, the aim is usually to express our interest in someone else in a friendly, noninvasive way and to feel out if the other person shares that interest in us and, if they do, to make clear we're open to that. Our aim in flirting is to make the other person feel comfortable being around us or getting closer to us."-And simply asking someone back to your room for a cup of coffee and discussion might apply to this detailed definition of flirting. Depends on your outlook."With harassment, either the aim is to make someone feel uncomfortable, or the person harassing just isn't even really thinking about the other person; isn't caring or thinking about how they feel at all. When someone is harassing someone else, they're trying to force an interest in them or attention to them, not trying to set the stage for that interest or attention only if the other person wants to interact."-Couldn't we say that all the guy was doing was trying to set the stage for that interest? Only if the women wants to interact?(Which she didn't, and he didn't press on) By the way, the "study" you cited, wasn't actually a study. It was basically an opinion and advice website. People ask questions, and some of them get answered. How we decide to define the terms, and what situations we apply them to, can be pretty arbitrary, except for of course extreme situations, like a guy deliberately making a woman feel uncomfortable on purpose for his own amusement. I don't believe the elevator situation qualified as harassment, either by my definition, or the one you provided in the link.

  322. says

    Martin,"In six words: Dawkins is wrong, Rebecca is right."Dawkins should apologize and if his failure to do so ruins next weekend's skeptical hijinks for his fan-boy posse so be it. Praying for "Elevatorgate" to blow over in time not to ruin TAM Nine sounds like hoping that bus boycott doesn’t prevent the housekeeper from getting to work on time. There IS a pall hanging over the skeptical community. Hopefully, outrage at Dawkin’s loutish utterances will result in a big enough brawl to bring the conflict squarely into the light of reason. Were we to manage to put this all back in the bottle, what precisely would there be to celebrate at TAM, other than having found a way to assuage our cognitive dissonance? It’s time for everyone to dispense with their illusions. Male atheists are not feminists. Skeptics are not rational about everything. Several Über-famous skeptics are AGW deniers. When will the movement get around to dealing with that bullshit? A super-trendy atheist movie-making comedian is Big Pharma conspiracy theorist. How about the movement deals with that in real time? Putting this situation in perspective, "Rebecca was right, but let’s remember all that Dawkins has done for us," is rationalizing not rationality. There never was an atheist, skeptical, liberal, humanist, feminist monolith. Is this an alliance of convenience or are we birds of a feather? It’s better to decide sooner rather than later. Let's get dis-illusioned!

  323. says

    I was on an elevator late one night, in the distant past, with a woman who pushed the stop button, grabbed my crotch, and kissed me. She invited me to her room. I declined as I was going back to my room and my wife, but I was pleasantly taken aback, and felt complimented. I guess we all react differently in different situations.

  324. says

    Mamba24,You may have conflated the two links I posted. The study is printed in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, not the teen mag.

  325. says

    Mamba24,We appear to agree on (what is for me, at least) the main point: that she is justified in voicing her opinion.However, since you went through the trouble of actually following the two links, I will better organize my argument.1. Practically every study since Kinsey's days identifies propositions from strangers in the U.S. as an unwelcome, uncomfortable situation for the vast majority of women. [A often-cited field study of college-age women indicated 100% rejection rates; this more recent study rated the average "welcomeness" of such a proposition as close to 1 out of 7. The top link I posted before goes into more detail.]1a. Studies in communications also show that people in general (not just women, but especially women) prefer assertive communication styles to aggressive ones. One of the key differences is that being assertive involves "thinking before you act." Aggressive styles, on the other hand, involve pushing your own needs without considering others.2. Various forms of legal sexual harassment exist and are categorized by context. I will simplify two of the major definitions for the sake of brevity: (1) a sexual proposal from someone who wields organizational power over the recipient; (2a)a pattern of situations involving unwelcome propositions; this also includes (2b)a pattern of situations involving an aggressive communication style instead of an assertive one in regards to sex.2a. The pattern of situations does not need to be from the same person: in an organizational setting, it could involve unwelcome propositions from many different men. If management does not intervene, they may face legal repercussions. If they participate in the propositioning, they are likely guilty of the first definition.2b. The legality of sexual harassment aside, the teen mag had a short and reasonable definition: likely to be unwelcome=harassment; likely to be welcome=flirting. 3. The psp study I mentioned earlier indicates that it is extremely likely that U.S. women will find such a proposal to be unwelcome. So, it qualifies as harassment under 2b, although we can argue over semantics. I'll save you time, though: yes, it was a trivial incident by itself; and yes, he asked her to his hotel room for something that they could have gotten at the bar moments earlier, but did not make a direct sexual request.3b. If stuff like this happened repeatedly at the event, it might qualify as legal sexual harassment in the United States. To some degree, organizations are even held accountable for their customers. From comments on skepchick and other blogs, it seems that a number of women believe that this does happen repeatedly at conventions and it turns them off.4. [Personal Opinion] Coming up with a plan to address a perceived problem is a bold and positive approach. If we do the legwork and it turns out that there is no pattern and this is just a minor, isolated incident— so be it. If it isn't, perhaps corrections need to be made, even if they are only consciousness-raising efforts. On the other hand, dismissing the complaint (and similar complaints posted recently by others) as invalid because "Muslim women have it worse" or "many women may like it" or "he said coffee" derail the conversation instead of helping the community sort things out in a positive way.

  326. says

    @noahbox Thank you, thank you so much for linking that study. This is the kind of information that should have been used much earlier. Anecdotal talks from some women saying X unacceptable, and other women saying X is no big deal has not gotten much done.I think it makes a good case for propositions being "banned" for men.However, it leaves some unanswered questions. The small sample size of a homogenous college-age group has its potential oversights.Also, women presumably have more to lose/fear in this situation. But I remember an in-depth study that looked at the rates of false rape reports, and why women make them. It was very conservative, and they threw out women who admitted to false reports, but didn't have convincing reasons for doing so. (Sorry, I'll have to dig to find the study.) But the results of confession-interviews showed a surprising number of women filed false reports; around a third of all rape reports I think. If this were common knowledge, would men be just as uncomfortable as women on quick sex?Also, the whole risk perception may not even be a good measurement. At the bottom of the linked article is this gem by Jill from Feministe:"Quit using that study where strangers walked up to people on college campuses and offered sex as “proof” that men desire sex more than women. Perhaps consider that women may want sex just as much, but have spent their entire lives hearing about how sex with strangers is a terrible, dangerous idea, leading to the (probably correct) understanding that the only kind of men who would approach you in broad daylight offering sex are men who are either serial killers or sex offenders or at least total fucking creeps?"That would mean there is sort of a female 'privilege' here.

  327. says

    Dougreardon. You're not really making a proper comparison – Instead of being a woman, would you have reacted differently if a seven foot tall body building guy had pressed stop, grabbed your crotch and kissed you?

  328. says

    Ryan,If you are suggesting that it's disingenuous to remove the context and replace it with another situation– you're right. The context is crucial.That's why Doug's anecdote is irrelevant, even if well-intentioned.A good-faith reading of Andrew's analogy suggests that it might have been a parody of Doug's. Or perhaps he was just trying to offer Doug another perspective to help him understand why his anecdote isn't particularly useful in this situation.PS: I posted this a few hours ago but it isn't showing up. If it turns into a double-post somehow, I apologize.

  329. says

    Matt Anderson,I probably agree with your quote from Jen. I certainly didn't mean to imply that men desire sex more than women and that wasn't my purpose for bringing up the '89 study. In fact, the psp study I linked to suggests that a reasonable percentage of women welcome casual sex. For everyone else who didn't bother to read the link— Casual sex: yes, but depending on a wide variety of factors. Propositions from strangers: no, pretty much never welcomed. I am impressed by the psp study because it seems fairly solid and has some depth; but most other surveys and field-studies that examine more specific demographics generally have similar results. Anecdotal evidence aside, it seems to be a nearly unexceptionable point that the vast majority of women might be caused undue stress if put in a similar position. However, I'm not convinced that the data necessarily "makes a good case for propositions being 'banned' for men." I would want more evidence regarding how often this happens. I would also want to know if the intended effect (reducing stress on female participants in male-dominated atheist, humanist and skeptic groups) might be more effectively promoted through consciousness-raising than heavy-handed rule-setting.Perhaps we might save ourselves some grief by promoting more mixer-type events where interested people can get to know each other better. Balance the negative (and easily mischaracterized) message of "in certain contexts, men cause women undue stress with propositions, no matter how well-intentioned" with "…but feel free to make new friends at the party on Saturday!" or "make sure to tag your OkCupid profile with the keyword: skeptic so women can find you!" [Tangent warning: OkCupid staff already recommend this and also note that using the keyword "atheist" in your first message correlates with more dates.]I can't say with certainty if any of the above ideas would actually be effective at problem resolution, but this is the kind of conversation that I would rather be having.

  330. says

    I would just like to say I agree completely (well I've only read up to half these comments) with Hanninabal and I'm genuinely surprised at the attitude and I would say unreasonableness of some of the show hosts. This situation has completely been blown out of all proportion. Despite some of the hysterical protests, THERE IS NO ABSOLUTE RIGHT OR WRONG way to have approached that situation in the elevator, only if you somehow knew beforehand the individual's reaction to it. One woman may have felt anxious, another may have had a very different attitude to it altogether. Rebecca does not speak on behalf of all women, just her own personal reaction to the situation. Perhaps Rebecca would have felt anxious being in a lift alone with a strange man at 4am in the morning regardless of whether he made advances or not.We are complicating a really rather straightforward issue. You have a right to proposition someone, if that person says no, they're not interested, then you back off. End of. If this guy had persisted, then Rebecca would be right to highlight it but from what I've read, it doesn't sound that that is what happened, so I can't understand all the fuss?

  331. says

    The way this topic has hijacked atheist discourse lately has annoyed me, mainly because it's done little to solve the problem and loads to demonize people.We're humans, we make mistakes, we have bad ideas. The problems with sexism are problems with our society as a whole. The only thing we agree on as atheists is that there isn't a god. For people who don't have a religion, a lot of us seem quick to condemn others like Dawkins for making a mistake. Depending on who I've heard this story from the details change. From my own personal viewpoint a pretty innocuous video was made, some males got defensive at what they perceived as a feminist overreaction and all hell (excuse the term) broke loose.Yes we should work to improve the way women are treated in our movement as we need to improve the way women are treated throughout our entire culture. We need to take this incident, learn from it, and move on. Some people just seem to want to keep it going because they can't get enough of the drama and they don't want to solve anything.

  332. says

    I don't get this hysteria.I thought Richard Dawkins's comment was pretty hilarious and this ''Guys, don't do that'' shit is pretty ridiculous to me.How is a guy supposed to get laid, if he's not allowed to flirt or hit on a woman???It's not that common that a woman hits on a guy, it's become the social norm for guys to initiate such ''dealings''.That dude probably thought to just try his luck and see if he could get some! Who wouldn't try it if you had the courage or ''balls'' I ask?Then I wonder if guys aren't allowed to do this, then presumably for equality reasons women aren't allowed to do so either.Now you're left with people either randomly meeting in the same bed, naked and falling into each other or arranged relationships and neither of those options sound very effective or happiness making to me!Ps: I happen to support discussion of sexism everywhere, even in the atheist community, I just found this ''Guys don't do that'' thing so outrageously stupid that I had to say something.

  333. says

    Martin. Martin. Martin. Are you trying to be an accomplished polemicist or what? Look at it this way – transplant this experience to someplace you might understand – Its 4AM in a Hotel on the Strip in Vegas – the guy politely asks a person that appears to have struck out if she would like coffee – nothing more – nothing sexual was mentioned – two people in an elevator – she didn't thank him for his offer of company. She snobbishly told him, like he didn't already know, that Guys don't do that! He offered company and coffee if she wanted – nothing more – he accepted her decline, she declined – End of story. Next you will be telling me that it is offensive for men, not women of course, to chat idly, look anywhere but at the floor, to merely have the silly idea that another needs love, care, comfort, support, or the company of another for coffee. Its 4AM in Vegas – Who's going to bed now!! – She may have looked the way she stated in that she was tired, beat, needed to rest. The day is just getting started! Now if it would have been her 'idea of a dream boat' whatever that is the polite thing to do would have been to say Thank you for offering. But No. Thank You. They were both striking out – one was offering, the other was declining. I hope everyone is aware that sometimes an offer of support is just that and not just another example of the "men that hate all women" – It could have been more or it could have been just what it was – and it certainly wasn't offensive. She took offense. She shared her offense to gain favor with her audience – she is a media ham. Sometimes you have to just spot the situation as being manipulated by the intent for Being Center Stage for a while longer – GET THE HOOK! Pull these folks off the Stage and get back to the A-G-E-N-D-A of TAM9!!

  334. says

    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.I get it that he is wrong. What I don't get is the implicit fiat that all wrongs are equally heinous. They are not. It is petty to complain that your tax subsidies are ending and you might have to jetpool twice a year more than you used to, when the poorest among us are going to face draconian cuts where they can't afford to fall sick. Does that make both equally wrong? No.I have no issues with what Rebecca did initially. While I am a man and cannot, for that reason, relate to what it is for a woman to encounter a creepy person in an elevator, I can accept Rebecca's genuine fears and discomfort of the encounter. I also have no problems with her mention of the incident with the admonishment "Don't be creeps, people!"I also agree that Dawkins fucked up. As did people who took umbrage at Rebecca's speech.What follows after that is what I am struggling with.Dawkins fucked up, but not in the way a raving misogynist fucks up. Not in the way a unrepentant sexist fucks up. He fucked up by picking the wrong subject where he tried to pooh-pooh the focus to a lesser wrong in the face of a much more heinous wrong. And after you are done hurling brickbats at me, take some time to understand that here are lesser wrongs, and there are greater wrongs. At least subjectively, we do have scales on some things. Atheists should be aware of this when they encounter black or white thinking from theists.Note that such is not an uncommon ploy used by many of the detractors of Dawkins on this issue. PZ, who often lambastes cretins for trying to equate male circumcision with FGM, did this very recently. Note carefully, he did not do this in the context of FGM. He did so specifically in the context of the proposed SF measure on male circumcision ban. That had NOTHING to do with FGM. But he chose to trivialize male circumcision with exactly the same ploy and left a warning at the end:I consider it a prime example of selfish privilege to invade discussions of female genital mutilation, which does cause serious sexual and medical problems, with demands that we pay more attention to the lesser concerns of males getting lightly scarred penises.To be crystal clear, I am NOT condemning it to be a fuckup at all, but merely an illustration that dismissing the focus on a lesser wrong in favor of a greater one is NOT uncommon.The question is not whether Dawkins fucked up. He did. But at this point he has received far greater acrimony hurled at him, than the guy in the elevator.That can't be good for atheists either. In fact, I'd argue that what it has done is painted Dawkins as an unrepentant, somewhat misogynous, privileged sexist, who has no way out of it.Any apology by him at this point would look insincere and lame, acceptance of that apology would make his current detractors appear insincere, gullible or both. And no apology, well, that's where we are.I see requests for and subsequently letters galore to Dawkins. Where is the request for letters to the elevator creep?Entirely too much toothpaste has been squeezed out of the tube.

  335. says

    Well, I think it's been fairly put by Matt and the ACA where their "thinking" and "skepticism" truly stop: gender. Matt sums up their complete lack of intellectual integrity, their entire treachery of intellect in this riposte:"His side of the story is irrelevant. In fact, it doesn't even matter if he exists and this is entirely fictional."Excellent work, Matt. You sold the farm for cheap. I'm so proud to know you, and the rest of the ACA, are so against evaluating what it is true; rather, the important thing is how people feel.I hope that I can now trust your show will no longer ridicule the religious because, again, what is true is irrelevant. All that matters is how the recipient feels about it.Gag me with a fucking bloody tampon.Contrary to what these asshats have been saying about what Rebecca et al have been saying, I've been documenting it point by counterpoint on my blog here. Of course, I don't expect that Matt will read it – there doesn't exist a set of facts, real or imagined, that will change his mind. Why? Because he is the owner the Truth. What a intellectual deficient proposition, Matt.

  336. says

    Recently a feminist blogger has given dating advice to men on Youtube after being sexually objectified and nearly escaping a potential rape in an elevator. “Don’t sexualize me,” said Rebecca Watson. Many feminists are pointing out the obvious fact that this was merely dating advice, and are detailing very clearly that Rebecca’s complaint was also mostly a criticism of misogyny, objectification, and sexism amongst men in the atheist community, as evidenced by the elevator incident. (For nude photos of Rebecca challenging sexual objectification, see her new nude pinup calendar here: http://MileHighClubCalendar.XXX.cum.com )“I was the guy who hit on Rebecca Watson in an elevator. Okay? I did it. I'd do it again because I'm just Ca-Razy like that. I'm a sexist woman hating sexually objectifying creeper because I told a woman I found her interesting and invited her to my room to have a cup of coffee.” –Mr. Elevatorgate responding to the atheist community's feminist crisis of 2011.A deep schism can be felt all across the Holy Mother Church of Atheism as feminist males and females take sides over whether or not this was a feminist issue. Many of these feminist critics have pointed out that Rebecca would look good bent over a toilet, she should shut her mouth before she gets hers, and that feminists are man hating lesbians. However, due to female’s inferior intelligence and hypersensitivity, many female feminists think these criticisms proove just how much work hast to be done to combat sexism within the atheist community. Other male feminists, desiring to win the sexual favors of women in and outside atheist conferences, agree with the chicks. Mr. Elevatorgate is reported to be in a critical care unit. Apparently the shame from hitting on a woman in an elevator has caused him to commit suicide. He knew full well that made him a sexualizing creeper and potential rapist, but after having some drinks with her down at the bar he just couldn't resist his perverted impulse to say she was "really interesting." You won't be missed, you misogynist freak!Richard Dawkins has taken the time to chime in by saying that her feelings didn’t matter since other women have bigger problems like spontaneously evaporating clitorises or something in Saudi Arabia. Many atheists are boycotting Richard Dawkins’ over his response by saying, “She was just giving dating advice, not feminism advice. How dare you draw attention to real feminist issues!” While this issue has managed to bring attention to the voices of female atheists, many find their voices naggy, absurd, and many men are tired of being called misogynists for disagreeing with feminists, and tired of their criticisms of some feminists being dismissed simply because they have a penis, especially when it is a very small penis and might as well be a clitoris. Jesus Christ was interviewed for his reaction to elevatorgate, skepchick, and Rebecca Watson and is reported to have said, “ONLY in the atheist community could something so marginal as a (b*llshit) accusation that getting hit on in an elevator is a feminist crisis, be taken seriously as a feminist crisis.” Jesus Christ was asked if his views have been broadened by the blogosphere reaction and responded that he has never been more convinced that feminism is a sexist movement. He now prefers to consider himself a womanist and is currently campaigning for the right of episcopal lesbians to be priests. For more news on the subject, please go to http://churchofatheism.webs.com

  337. says

    Rather than reading through 400 comments, I'm just going to post this. If it's been said, fine.Had she not been a feminist and not just given a speech addressing sexism; and then got hit on in an elevator at 4am, this might not have gotten this far.I think the reactions are intensified do to the reactions towards feminism or the more militant version thereof (whether she is a militant feminist or not).

  338. says

    Recently a feminist blogger has given dating advice to men on Youtube after being sexually objectified and nearly escaping a potential rape in an elevator. “Don’t sexualize me,” said Rebecca Watson. Many feminists are pointing out the obvious fact that this was merely dating advice, and are detailing very clearly that Rebecca’s complaint was also mostly a criticism of misogyny, objectification, and sexism amongst men in the atheist community, as evidenced by the elevator incident. (For nude photos of Rebecca challenging sexual objectification, see her new nude pinup calendar here: http://MileHighClubCalendar.XXX.cum.com )“I was the guy who hit on Rebecca Watson in an elevator. Okay? I did it. I'd do it again because I'm just Ca-Razy like that. I'm a sexist woman hating sexually objectifying creeper because I told a woman I found her interesting and invited her to my room to have a cup of coffee.” –Mr. Elevatorgate responding to the atheist community's feminist crisis of 2011.A deep schism can be felt all across the Holy Mother Church of Atheism as feminist males and females take sides over whether or not this was a feminist issue. Many of these feminist critics have pointed out that Rebecca would look good bent over a toilet, she should shut her mouth before she gets hers, and that feminists are man hating lesbians. However, due to female’s inferior intelligence and hypersensitivity, many female feminists think these criticisms prove just how much work hast to be done to combat sexism within the atheist community. Other male feminists, desiring to win the sexual favors of women in and outside atheist conferences, agree with the chicks. Mr. Elevatorgate is reported to be in a critical care unit. Apparently the shame from hitting on a woman in an elevator has caused him to commit suicide. He knew full well that made him a sexualizing creeper and potential rapist, but after having some drinks with her down at the bar he just couldn't resist his perverted impulse to say she was "really interesting." You won't be missed, you misogynist freak!Richard Dawkins has taken the time to chime in by saying that her feelings didn’t matter since other women have bigger problems like spontaneously evaporating clitorises or something in Saudi Arabia. Many atheists are boycotting Richard Dawkins’ over his response by saying, “She was just giving dating advice, not feminism advice. How dare you draw attention to real feminist issues!” While this issue has managed to bring attention to the voices of female atheists, many find their voices naggy, absurd, and many men are tired of being called misogynists for disagreeing with feminists, and tired of their criticisms of some feminists being dismissed simply because they have a penis, especially when it is a very small penis and might as well be a clitoris. Jesus Christ was interviewed for his reaction to elevatorgate, skepchick, and Rebecca Watson and is reported to have said, “ONLY in the atheist community could something so marginal as a [b*llshit] accusation that getting hit on in an elevator is a feminist crisis, be taken seriously as a feminist crisis.” Jesus Christ was asked if his views have been broadened by the blogosphere reaction and responded that he has never been more convinced that feminism is a sexist movement. He now prefers to consider himself a womanist and is currently campaigning for the right of episcopal lesbians to be priests. For more news on the subject, please go to http://churchofatheism.webs.com

  339. says

    Recently a feminist blogger has given dating advice to men on Youtube after being sexually objectified and nearly escaping a potential rape in an elevator. “Don’t sexualize me,” said Rebecca Watson. Many feminists are pointing out the obvious fact that this was merely dating advice, and are detailing very clearly that Rebecca’s complaint was also mostly a criticism of misogyny, objectification, and sexism amongst men in the atheist community, as evidenced by the elevator incident. (For nude photos of Rebecca challenging sexual objectification, see her new nude pinup calendar here: http://MileHighClubCalendar.XXX.cum.com )“I was the guy who hit on Rebecca Watson in an elevator. Okay? I did it. I'd do it again because I'm just Ca-Razy like that. I'm a sexist woman hating sexually objectifying creeper because I told a woman I found her interesting and invited her to my room to have a cup of coffee.” –Mr. Elevatorgate responding to the atheist community's feminist crisis of 2011.A deep schism can be felt all across the Holy Mother Church of Atheism as feminist males and females take sides over whether or not this was a feminist issue. Many of these feminist critics have pointed out that Rebecca would look good bent over a toilet, she should shut her mouth before she gets hers, and that feminists are man hating lesbians. However, due to female’s inferior intelligence and hypersensitivity, many female feminists think these criticisms prove just how much work hast to be done to combat sexism within the atheist community. Other male feminists, desiring to win the sexual favors of women in and outside atheist conferences, agree with the chicks. Mr. Elevatorgate is reported to be in a critical care unit. Apparently the shame from hitting on a woman in an elevator has caused him to commit suicide. He knew full well that made him a sexualizing creeper and potential rapist, but after having some drinks with her down at the bar he just couldn't resist his perverted impulse to say she was "really interesting." You won't be missed, you misogynist freak!Richard Dawkins has taken the time to chime in by saying that her feelings didn’t matter since other women have bigger problems like spontaneously evaporating clitorises or something in Saudi Arabia. Many atheists are boycotting Richard Dawkins’ over his response by saying, “She was just giving dating advice, not feminism advice. How dare you draw attention to real feminist issues!” While this issue has managed to bring attention to the voices of female atheists, many find their voices naggy, absurd, and many men are tired of being called misogynists for disagreeing with feminists, and tired of their criticisms of some feminists being dismissed simply because they have a penis, especially when it is a very small penis and might as well be a clitoris. Jesus Christ was interviewed for his reaction to elevatorgate, skepchick, and Rebecca Watson and is reported to have said, “ONLY in the atheist community could something so marginal as a [b*llshit] accusation that getting hit on in an elevator is a feminist crisis, be taken seriously as a feminist crisis.” Jesus Christ was asked if his views have been broadened by the blogosphere reaction and responded that he has never been more convinced that feminism is a sexist movement. He now prefers to consider himself a womanist and is currently campaigning for the right of episcopal lesbians to be priests. For more news on the subject, please go to http://churchofatheism.webs.com

  340. says

    I have to admit my mouth dropped open when I read what Dawkins wrote. He's my favorite horseman of the apocalypse…not that I idolize him or anything.Short story: Dawkins was fractally wrong on this one, but I'm not going to throw him under the bus. It seems like a rational position to take.

  341. says

    @BSkrillaDamn good post you made. Both sides do make points but people really seem to be taking it out of proportion to the extreme. For those of you who haven't read it, it is located on the first page of comments.When I first heard of this it made sense for each of them, and I thought "Okay, I get both of your points". I don't need clarification to know that Dawkins doesn't hate women or Rebecca thinks all guys are rapists or some extreme ridiculous view. Now it's this massive mess with people being completely irrational about it. It makes me sad to see people degrade like this, to throw each other under the bus when we're supposed to be rational. Emotions shouldn't take over and people shouldn't call Dawkins a misogynist or Rebecca some feminazi. If anything I think a better solution would be to clarify each person's position so the wrong message doesn't get interpreted. I get into disagreements multiple times where after a whole lot of talking I find the person I am speaking to has a very close position to mine.We should want to understand what they meant exactly in a non-threatening environment. We need more communication and clarification before aggression.

  342. says

    I won't bother rehashing every point that's been made so far, but I do want to address two issues:1) The man who lied about how 1/3 of all rape reports are false. The rate of false reports of rape is around 2%.http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=29ADC4918E481BB73867D9EB7C968144.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=4302992) That men "can't read women's minds":http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/mythcommunication-its-not-that-they-dont-understand-they-just-dont-like-the-answer/So to those few who keep whingeing on about how we don't have enough facts and that Rebecca is a horrible misandrist: does it bother you more that a woman said no, or that she understood exactly what was going on?From the way a few men are carrying on about how they have a "right" to hit on women anytime they want to (which they don't have), it's pretty clear that they don't care about how women respond to them…and they're actually just fine with making women uncomfortable because they don't think women have any sort of right to privacy and a life free of harassment (which they actually do have, by law). And these guys claim to be rational thinkers and skeptics?

  343. says

    If there's one thing I have learnt from reading this is don't hit on a woman, ever. Wherever, whenever you may be, there might be something she finds creepy. To me, RW's position is:I didn't tell EG not to hit on me. Although everyone thinks i did. But anyway, he did it! And he did it at a bad place! And a bad time!So was there any possible good place? Or time?No, apparently. A disturbing number of posters on this and other blogs are pulling out the prudish "any sexual proposition by a male is wicked!" line that I thought died with the 50s. Telling men that they may not do this, because it's creepy, unless it's part of a romantic activity or whatever, wow, so much for sexual liberation!And it gets worse. It's a rule that only applies to het. men. Because "they just want to get their dicks wet" as one poster put contemptuously. Well, do you tell lesbians not to do the same bloody thing because they "just want to get their clits licked"? Nope, just men? Because men are, apparently, disgusting.So here's the deal. If you tell someone that it's not ok to do something at location x and time y, and they say what about we vary those variables, later or earlier, before the lift, in a hall, and you scream YOU JUST DON'T GET IT YOU PRIVILEGED PENIS/GENDER TRAITOR then reason has left the building.You know what? It's not harassment to find someone attractive, it's harassment when you repeat unwanted advances. Being politely propositioned by someone you don't think is hot? That's life. Get over it.

  344. says

    Dear Blergh,Men constantly interrupt me when I'm doing things because they seem to think they have some sort of right to demand my attention no matter what I'm doing.They're interrupting me and either keeping me from doing something I want to do, or making it difficult to get work/errands done.I don't have any sympathy for men who refuse to pay attention to visual and verbal cues. I don't have any sympathy for a man who'd interrupt me but not interrupt a guy under the same circumstances…that tells me he doesn't regard me as an equal, and thus he doesn't deserve my time or attention.Finally, I'm married, and you'd think a wedding ring would keep me from having to put up with this crap. Nope.Cheers,An irritated woman who still wonders why some guy thought it would be a good idea to stop me out on the street and try to get me to laugh at a woman getting her kids out of her car on a really hot day while I was carrying an armload of perishable items. Seriously, wtf?

  345. says

    @ChristineCCR But "Being politely propositioned" and "not politely propositioned" are different. Standing around doing nothing is very different from busily doing activity. So I'm not sure why you think i'd believe it was polite to interrupt you when you are busy.Also, regarding the ring, tell me when those things start to work because i have seen far too many infidelities to have much faith in them. But fewer people would proposition someone wearing a ring than otherwise, which does make things complicated for the people who are married but in open relationships. However…"I don't have any sympathy for men who refuse to pay attention to visual and verbal cues."If you have given them a verbal cue (e.g. "not interested" then they have already all the information they need. Continued proposition is not polite. What sort of verbal cues do you employ? Humming the "Macarena"? If it's "I'm just a girl who can't say no", change your tune.Visual cues, aside from the wedding ring are just too ambiguous. And remember a lot of committed people don't wear them and uncommitted do. Or if you mean body language, pfft, men are not wired that way as a rule. Even highly trained people can't read other people's body language reliably, which is why we invented language(as in hominids, not sapiens per se, and a few other species have some claim to it as well)Quite a significant proportion of the male population is almost entirely unable to read body language. They reason out how people are feeling but it takes effort. There's a smaller proportion of women like that, but they are still there, and both groups are hardly to be ignored.So here's a scenario. Person A says to person B "I find you very attractive. Would you go to bed with me?"Is that obscene?Does it matter what's between their legs as to whether it's offensive?Can Person B employ violence on A in retaliation legally? Should the law be changed so that they can?This is not a hypothetical question. This was typically used in defence by gay-bashers. "He made an advance on me! I felt threatened! He might have raped me!"Thaat's in scenarios where all that happened was that words were used. No invasion of body space, no leaning over, cornering, whatever. Just words.And that defense used to work.

  346. says

    You're wrong on body language and social cues. Check out that post on Mythcommunications.Verbal cues: "Ok, I'm on my way to the bank, I think it's closing in about 10 minutes" and the guy keeps talking. Usually about nothing important. On the phone: "I have to run, I have about two more hours of work until I'm free today" and the guy keeps talking about everything except my request to end the conversation. Ugh.Visual cues: If I have earbuds in or am working on my laptop and staring at it intently, that's a bad time to interrupt me…yet men do it all the time. Why?If a man is going to interrupt me while I'm reading a book, it would be nice if he had some interest in the book. They never do.If I'm carrying an armload of groceries down the street? Also not a good time to hit on me. It's pretty clear that I'm doing something, right?If I'm randomly waiting around, I have no problem having a conversation with someone else…the problem is that men mostly try and start conversations with me when I'm in the middle of doing something. Not. Cool.I think you're really missing the point on all this, however. This discussion actually has nothing to do with determining whether propositions are obscene. It has to do with showing something resembling common sense and courtesy toward the person you're speaking to.If someone I didn't know propositioned me out of the blue, in the middle of the night in an elevator, I'd probably have kicked him in the balls, and possibly called security too. The guy obviously has zero interest in me as anything but a place to stick his penis. Why should I have to be polite to someone who's being a useless jerk? Why doesn't he just go find a prostitute if he wants random sex with a stranger?If you want to hit on someone, use some common sense and maybe, you know, actually try *talking* to the other person first before propositioning him or her? Maybe try seeing if there's any interest or spark there before propositioning someone? It's common sense.That's what started this entire discussion — the fact that there's a bunch of men at atheist conferences who don't care about women as people, they only view them as sex toys. That's why I'll never go to another one – if I'm not going to be listened to and I'll continue getting sexually harassed, why would I want to go? I'll go find something that's actually fun to do.If you want a woman's attention, try treating her like she's a human being and pay attention if she says she has things to do. It's simple respect, and the fact that men claim they can't do it is the "sexist" part of this. You guys CAN do it…you choose not to.I'm on the Asperger's scale and I've learned to read social and facial cues and body language. If I can do it, other people can too. The fact that people don't bother to learn speaks volumes about their contempt for others. I'm better off without people like that in my life, and I think quite a few other women feel the same way.

  347. says

    @ChristineCCR We are talking at cross purposes. I talk about polite propositions. You are talking about someone ignoring a directly and clearly stated request. Which apparently did not happen in the Elevatorgate scenario (if you have evidence otherwise, please provide it). "I have to run, I have about two more hours of work until I'm free today"There's no ambiguity there. However, the situation of the polite proposition is one where the person making it has not been told you are unavailable. For example, saying "I don't want to keep you then but would you like to have sex later when you are free?"But it is considered unacceptable to ask for sex directly, and it has been my whole life, despite the efforts to sexually liberate humanity. We have to skirt around the issue, as a rule. I know my automatic tendency is to say "no", especially if it's in public, because that is what we are taught to say. Sex is dirty! People who want it are wicked!I was out with a woman i found very attractive when i was 19 or 20, and i remember talking about this with a group of people going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We are all dressed as characters, fishnets and make-up,and she turns to the table and asks each member if they'd like to go back with her and have sex. Everyone says no. I wanted her but I was too afraid of saying yes in public, especially as she could well have then rejected me or otherwise hurt my feelings. "If someone I didn't know propositioned me out of the blue, in the middle of the night in an elevator, I'd probably have kicked him in the balls, and possibly called security too. " And that's it in a nutshell. You respond to a polite request, in a relatively safe* environment, with violence. And if you tell the truth about what they said to you, and there's footage from the security camera, then your victim has a reasonable case of assault to charge you with. If you don't believe me, contact your police department and say "hypothetically, if i kneed a guy in the balls for asking me for a coffee, could i be in trouble? I mean, it was in a hotel elevator, so that's ok, right? I have a free pass? and oh, i think when he fell he might have banged his head, but the blood will just wash off and the hotel staff can't charge extra for that can they? And I don't think he's breathing. But anyone who asks for coffee deserves to die, right? I mean, caffeine is very unhealthy!"*according to the Crime statistics bureau of NSW, you are not in significant danger in a lift, especially a monitored one in a busy hotel, the street is more dangerous by far, and your home is overwhelming hazardous!)"The guy obviously has zero interest in me as anything but a place to stick his penis. "And that's your excuse for violence? Would you do that to a woman who just wanted you to lick her clitoris? Is the issue that you don't like selfish lovers, or that you don't approve of casual sex and are willing to enforce that by injuring or even killing transgressors? Gosh, that sounds familiar, have you considered joining the Iranian Morality Police?

  348. says

    It is not such a terrible thing to just want sex. It does not automatically imply degradation unless you feel sex is automatically a degradation. Plenty of gay men and women just want the equivalent and do it guilt free and certainly without assault. Or is the rule of "No casual sex!" something you only apply to straight men? Would you consider lecturing gay people on their sexual behaviour in the same way?If so, please film it and put it on youtube. The responses should be quite amusing"Why should I have to be polite to someone who's being a useless jerk?"But again, i said polite proposition… and telling someone to "fuck off" in response to that is just rude, but par for the course. Hitting them is way over the line and it's interesting that that's your reaction to come-ons." Why doesn't he just go find a prostitute if he wants random sex with a stranger?"Because he might want to *share* pleasure with someone? Because he might find *you* special? Because he shouldn't have to pay for a mutually enjoyable experience? Because relationships often develop from casual sex? I think you have a few hang-ups and I hope you are not serious about your desire to hurt people. it doesn't take much to kill someone. You'd be surprised at how many people are in jail because they hit someone and they fell funny or had a heart attack or whatever. The law usually makes allowances if the intent is not to kill but manslaughter is pretty bloody serious, especially as you have prior intent as you have pointed out here. Still, you are probably just venting. Like my neighbour did, before she stabbed her husband (and that was over a minor disagreement, from memory). It only takes one little moment of anger and a life is gone."If you want to hit on someone, use some common sense and maybe, you know, actually try *talking* to the other person first before propositioning him or her?"Why is it common sense that you have to get to know someone before having a sexual contact that has no romantic element intended? I would argue the opposite; getting to know them would be leading them on, giving them false expectations. Also, a lot of people find sex with strangers exciting. They manage to get through it without so much as exchanging names, or even a word in some cases, and who are you to denounce them from the pulpit? If you don't like peanut butter, does that give you the right to stop others eating it? Why are your preferences the only valid ones in your eyes? If you don't like BDSM, would you attack the people who engage in it as well? You can dismiss anything i say. Why not log onto a site like http://fetlife.com/ and ask for opinions? Or you can just scream at them for their wanton sluttishness. Shame them for their short skirts! You could march against sluts everywhere, why I think there's even marches dedicated to that cause… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slutwalk

  349. says

    "there's a bunch of men at atheist conferences who don't care about women as people, they only view them as sex toys"Funny you should say that, because sex toy sites often make claims like "you will never need a man again if you use our products". If anything, I think there's far more evidence that men are viewed as replaceable by machinery than vice versa. Men never boast "I wank, so i don't need a woman!" but it's a common claim by women.Ok, I noticed you are very interested in talking about the rudeness of people but that has nothing to do with this situation. "Would you like a coffee" in an elevator in a busy hotel might be annoying to you but it's a standard question people use, it works often enough that people will keep using it, and a lot of women don't see the problem. However, your violent fantasies are disturbing and I have to say if you won't discuss the issue of polite propositions, then we have nothing to discuss.If your violent fantasies continue, you might want to see a therapist. If you act on them, sure, you could get away with it by deceit, claiming they tried to rape you, but there's so many people recording their environment now that you might well get caught; and your righteous smiting could well end with you in a cell with a woman who is not going to take no for an answer.

  350. says

    Honestly. I CAN"T STAND Rebecca Watson. I've never liked her but now I just want to puke in my soup for what she's done. Whan a narrow-minded, intolerant, pretentious little person! Dawkins is absolutely right. So is the Amazing Atheist.

  351. says

    There is a lot of deeprooted misogyny in the bdsm community. Sure I think it should be challenged and people called out on it.I also think the "slutwalk" is embracing raunch culture, the embodiment of misogyny in our culture, they should be called out on it.what is your point?

  352. says

    Well, Matt, you've said you welcomed being questioned or challenged, even by those who generally agree with you.I do generally agree with you, and I will not call you a "buffoon" or the like for disagreeing with me. That's the first thing I disagree with you on-your characterization of some who disagree with you as "mansplaining" and telling them not to post at all. That disappoints me, given how open you generally are to honest disagreement, and often from those with far less founded arguments.So, maybe I'm "mansplaining". But I think she overreacted. Someone propositioned her. Sure, "coffee" is probably a euphemism here. But it doesn't matter. She wasn't interested, she said so, the guy didn't try to force the issue. That should've been the end of the story.There was no wrong done here. Not a little, not a lot, not any. So long as it doesn't cross the line into harassment and they're willing to take no for an answer, someone has every right to gauge the interest of someone they're interested in.Was this guy clumsy in his flirting attempt? Sure. Is that sexism or just awkwardness? I would guess the latter.So, I'm going to disagree on this one. I think Dawkins' response was a bit hyperbolic, but I don't think it was inherently wrong. Rebecca was not wronged here. She was propositioned, she said no, her decision was respected. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? Or is no one allowed to express interest in a member of the opposite sex at all?

  353. says

    I think you're all fucking nuts. No one comes out of this smelling like a rose, in fact you all smell like assholes.On the one side, the few out there that really are saying that RW doesn't get to feel creeped out by the situation, fuck you for trying to tell someone how to feel.On another side, those of you who conflate this experience with being raped, fuck you for trivializing rape.On another side, those of you who don't understand the fear of sexual abuse and tell those who are afraid to quit complaining, fuck you for being idiots.On another side, to all of you who automatically call anyone who doesn't agree with you "privileged" without actually knowing anything about the person on the other end, fuck you for talking out your assesOn another side, those of you who claim that men don't understand what it's like to be raped, and thereby and subsequently when called on it trivialize the experiences of those men who have been raped, fuck you for trivializing rape.On another side, those of you who try to blame the victim and claim that the way they were dressed or flirting somehow makes rape or sexual assault ok because they were "asking for it", fuck you for enabling and trivializing rapeOn another side, those of you who take the opportunity of any post on the subject of sexism to derail it to try to talk about men's issues, fuck you for derailing.On another side, those of you who rail about sexism and then say that there's no such thing as sexism directed toward men, and when pointed out otherwise accuse men of whining, fuck you for being hypocrites.On another side, to RW for calling out Mcgraw in the middle of a meeting where she has no opportunity for an even platform over a disagreement about sexuality vs sexualization, fuck you for being an assholeOn another side, to Dawkins for equating a [rational] unease about sexual assault with annoyance about someone chewing gum, fuck you for being an assholeOn another side, to Dawkins for setting up daycare to allow for more families/single parents to come to meetings, thereby doing more to be inclusive toward people who have previously been unable to attend meetings, fu…well actually that one was pretty good, bravo sir.On another side, to RW for calling Dawkins a mysogynist, woman-hater, has-been, who's never done anything for women simply because he doesn't see you being hit on as a huge sexism issue, fuck you for being an assholeOn another side, to RW for saying that EG was creepy and that an elevator at 4 in the morning is probably not so great a place to try to hit on someone, I can see your point, for guys that are still in the game that's probably pretty decent advice.Screw you guys, I'm going home.

  354. says

    1 – Being aware of how easy it is to fake your identity on the internet I have to ask – have you/she/anyone, absolutely confirm the comment was from Dawkins?2 – Regardless, I've read the comment supposedly made by Dawkins and the incident it was in relation to. I'm female and I agree with whomever it was (whether it be Dawkins or not) who made the comment. It was an incident that was not noteworthy, other than that the man who propositioned her clearly should have thought better about doing so at 4am in the morning. Plus given the topic she was just talking on, inviting her to his room … yeah he was more than a bit on the obtuse side if he did actually mean to just have coffee and chat. That being said…Men proposition women.Sometimes they proposition other men.Sometimes it's the women who do the propositioning.What matters is not the fact that the offer is made, but whether the offer is made politely with respect, and how people react if they are rejected.Mountain from a molehill.

  355. says

    1. There are a disproportionate number of men, vis-a-vis women, at these sorts of functions2. Women at these functions get tired of being hit on.I would posit that #2 is a direct consequence of #1. The single men should, reasonably speaking, accept the fact that a series of propositions can be tiresome for one woman, and make allowances for it. The single women should, reasonably speaking, accept the fact that, given a 10:1 (or whatever) gender inequity, there's not going to be a 1:1 pairing situation in which only one guy is going to approach — there will be more than one such just based on pure mathematics.

  356. says

    "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."No, she was criticized for equating social awkwardness with sexism, which it is not. Women make men feel awkward all the time, yet that is hardly proof of a matriarchy.

  357. says

    I can understand how a woman in an elevator at 4am is more nervous. But at the same time, she shouldn't just say she's offended, without fully justifying it, (in her own time, when she's comfortable), otherwise anybody could just say they're offended over anything. Atheists commonly criticize religious people for taking offence, and joke about the whole concept of taking offence. Dawkins was just being consistent with that. Saying that it's the majority that decides, is also not going to wash with many Atheists, because you don't allow that kind of argument normally. It's not like Chess where somebody just invented a game.People could be right to be offended, or wrong to be offended, regardless of whether it's a minority of people or not. The man could turn round and say he is offended by women that treat him like he's a creepy rapist. Even if a man walks behind a woman in the street, the woman gets nervous. A majority of men might say that offends them, would they be right? I think even if it was a majority that started believing that, it could be argued that the men shouldn't be offended by that. Though if a majority or large number feel offended, they might be particularly worthy of a hearing, they should also have the decency to thoroughly explain why, particularly since they expect others to modify their behavior. I think they should immediately modify their behavior if the cost is minimal or near 0 to them. Then, they can request an explanation, and scrutinize it to their hearts content. And in any group of rationalists, there shouldn't be an objection to that. Dawkins should be sorry, and apologise and make an effort to understand her reasons/reasons of her defenders, and -scrutinize them- rationally, as I did with Jen. Both Dawkins and she/her defenders, should be open minded and willing to change their mind and adjust their positions or arguments when they see they are flawed.I hope I don't get "disemvowelled" again for that approach or saying that.

  358. says

    @ Kestra who said: "And I said it yesterday: There was NO way this particular man didn't already KNOW how this particular woman felt. He had attended her talk. He was present in the bar that night, where she elaborated on her points with a group of people. He heard her say she was tired and going to bed."Kestra Later said: "This IS NOT the same as a stranger, a real stranger, a man I've never spoken to, soliciting me for sex on an elevator."So which is it? They hung out at a bar together talking until she left at 4:00 who asked her in the elevator, or it was a complete stranger she'd never talked with before who asked her in the elevator?

  359. says

    I don't give a damn about the elevator incident. What upsets me is the fact that Watson has chosen to stop giving Dawkins her attention and her money; that she is no longer recommending his books and documentaries to her friends and family or giving them as gifts; that she is no longer attending his lectures or recommending that others attend. All this because she disagrees with him on one issue. I don't care how vehement the disagreement may be; it is completely irrational to disregard everything a person has to say just because of one thing about them that one finds objectionable. It's not like The God Delusion is no longer a good book ever since Dawkins made those comments about the elevator incident. She was a fan of him before this ordeal took place. It makes no sense to disregard every bit of input to the skeptical community Dawkins has made and will make just because of one aspect his personality or one view he holds. It's hard to believe that a person as prominent in the skeptical community as Watson would behave in such an irrational manner.

  360. says

    @RobertWhy try to hurt him at all? Wouldn't it be wise for her to try to get him to understand the way she feels? There's nothing sensible or rational about reacting maliciously over a disagreement, especially when it involves the act of ignoring everything positive Dawkins has to say because of one thing she regards as negative.

  361. says

    @Savi She is doing it partly for social reasons to make the meet more socially comfortable less upsetting for those too offended, as to not buying his books.. I wouldn't trust her recommendations 'cos if she really thought they were unique and valuable, she wouldn't want people to not buy them. She probably thinks other books are just as good, for her it's just preaching to one of the choir. She will probably now pressure her friends to remove the book from their shelves, or not be so friendly with her! Rational discourse on the subject should not be shut off. And if she could control her emotions of offence enough to make it an issue and speak about it, she has to be willing to handle a debate/discussion on it. Though i'm not sure if Dawkins or her want to. Also though a debate on an offensive thing isn't really a subject for a social event but they could always have the discussion in a venue or better dedicated place on the internet (like a thread on the topic!) where people are willing to rationally discuss and debate without being too offended. If she wants people to change their views or behavior or not act on their rationally held views, then she or a spokesperson for her, has to be able to justify herself. Unfortunately maybe she sees Atheist meets as a social gatherings of like minded people that agree, or aren't part of it, and a venue to advance other issues in a way that shuts off rational discourse. Bear in mind, Dawkins himself isn't so big on rational discourse, he is refusing to debate WLC. Hitchens is full of rhetoric in place of rational discourse. The mainstream atheist movement is not as rational as i'd like it to be, this Watkins incident is just another symptom.

  362. says

    I can't believe these messages. It just goes to confirm that most men haven't a clue about what women go through. There is a large gender difference in the US with men still trying to be "macho" and control and dominate women. Ah, testosterone.

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