Kazim asked me to repeat some thoughts about the sexism issue in the skeptical community. He’s right that it’s not fair to let him, Martin and Matt take the heat on the AXP side, while addressing these issues over at Godless Bitches, as if AXP isn’t part of the skeptic community and this issue. So, here I am.
I’ve not really wanted to post much about it, because I got enough of it during Elevatorgate, and pretty well determined that the amount of energy required to make an ounce of headway made it not really worth it for me personally, based on the reality that simply avoiding boors isn’t so difficult for me that I need to work to change them. Be as boorish as you like. Just stay away from me. And I will guarantee that, for my part, I will do everything within reason to avoid having to spend so much as a second of my life anywhere in proximity to you and, what I consider to be, your obnoxious attitudes and behaviors.
I don’t know if I’m the best person to weigh in, as I consider it no great loss to miss Dawkins speak if it means avoiding a weekend of being surrounded by a hotel full of socially inept, inconsiderate, thoughtless, self-centered people. I can read Dawkins’ thoughts in any number of his excellent books without hanging out with a crowd of strangers, which, for me, as a natural introvert, is, I assure you, no great loss. I’m not pushing for, or promoting anything with this post. Fire DJ, or don’t. Have Rebecca speak, or don’t. Fill your audience to the brim with the most boorish personalities on the planet. I honestly don’t care. Whether that makes me more objective in my perspective or easier to disregard, I, also, don’t care.
Again, I’m posting because I was asked to, not because I have anything Earth-shattering I feel any need to share or add to this dialog. In fact, everything I’ve said above, and will say in a moment, should not be considered “news” on this issue. It’s just my personal, subjective assessment and response to what I’ve seen and read from people, themselves, defending, what I consider to be, obnoxious behaviors at skeptic conventions. I’ve gathered, from their insistent rhetoric, that it’s their right to be as disrespectful toward the other attendees as they like. And, to be fair, so long as a convention has no policy to ensure overall social comfort of attendees, it doesn’t matter if they include in their crowd those who are boorish and intolerable to other paid attendees. As long as their behavior isn’t outside legal boundaries, it’s up to the hosts what they will endorse and ask the rest of their audience to endure. However, I expect you won’t mind me laughing at you if you should be so foolish as to ask me why I’m not attending the latest skeptic/atheist convention. You’ve got to be kidding—sincerely kidding—if you’re asking me that. I’d loathe to attend it. And I find the more compelling question “Why would anyone subject himself/herself to a group that contains a fair number of publicly outspoken members who consider their right to be rude to the other guests at a social event, to be more compelling than the overall comfort of the group of guests as a whole?”
Why, on Earth, would I endure these people if I wasn’t absolutely forced to? And, more ridiculously, how self-loathing would I have to be to actually PAY to endure a weekend of disrespect—when I’ve been warned in advance, by the boors themselves, this is what I can expect? I’m actually laughing as I type this because the idea of me willingly doing that to myself is just so stupidly absurd.
To help put it in perspective, following are my ideas for an enjoyable evening in order of preference:
1. Reading a really good book.
2. Reading a really awful book.
3. Being compelled to ingest a plate of dog feces.
4. Pressing myself naked all over with a hot steam iron, set to “full.”
5. Attending a skeptic convention with a crowd of people to whom Howard Wolowitz represents a role model:
If you’re not familiar with Wolowitz, he’s the type of guy I see so many commentors proudly describe themselves as being exactly like—the type of guy, who, when he approaches women and opens his mouth to impress, causes women to flee in droves—trampling one another in an effort to escape as quickly as possible. Imagine, then, being in a hotel lounge with 100 Howard Wolowitzes crammed in there with you, and you’ve pretty well pegged the conventions as they’re represented by the comments (of the boors themselves) posted at any skeptic blog that includes a dialog on sexism in the skeptical community. This may not be how it truly is at the conventions, but it’s surely how these people represent themselves online. And I have yet to see any strong affirmation from a convention host that this isn’t the case. Sure, they may be saying women aren’t commonly reporting sexual battery. But if you’re asking me to PAY to attend, I expect a fun experience, not a weekend of putting up with a herd of clueless clods, the likes of Wolowitz. Yes, yes, I understand he’s not dangerous. I didn’t say he’s harmful. He doesn’t scare me. I’m not saying I’m afraid he’ll rape me. I’m only saying he’s the guy I want to avoid like The Plague when I’m trying to enjoy myself. “What’s wrong with walking up to a woman you don’t know and asking her to come back to your room with you?” Nothing, if you’re goal is to be a Wolowitz clone. In fact, if that’s your goal, then “Bravo!” and “Well done!”
So, take it, leave it, love it, hate it, piss all over it. I couldn’t care less these days. I was asked by Kazim to put it down for the blog, and that’s the reason you’re reading it. If you’re Howard Wolowitz, don’t sit beside me, don’t speak to me, don’t write to me, don’t tell me how you masturbate to my TAE presentations, don’t interact with me at all, or I’m getting up and leaving. Follow me, and I’ll introduce you to security. And if you’re 100 Howard Wolowitzes at a skeptic convention, then the convention, as far as I’m concerned, is all yours. You’re welcome to it. Enjoy. And, without an ounce of sarcasm, I add a hearty “thank you” for warning me in advance—with your flood of truly unbelievable comments at multiple skeptic blogs and social sites—before I had dropped real money and time on what sounds like a truly tedious weekend of being surrounded by unbearable personalities.
Now, where did I put that book?