Comments

  1. emily isalwaysright says

    Wow. She’s great. And I can personally relate to so many of her experiences, as an uppity outspoken woman myself.

  2. deanbuchanan says

    Impressive, deep, and real! I felt that. Rebecca was great.
    Thank you so much for sharing this Ophelia.

  3. Tprc says

    My favorite part(about 50 mins):

    Rebecca: How many times has someone grabbed your testicles at a conference?

    Guy: not at a humanist conference?

    Rebecca: Yes, at a humanist conference!

    You would think that eventually the men will get it… but I wonder.

  4. =8)-DX says

    The best thing I’ve always liked about Rebecca is … well she’s just an “ordinary girl” – one of us, very human and sincere (although with amazing interests, amazing ideas and amazing hair).

  5. says

    Wow, well the comments and vitriole have poured in overnight. I knew the atmosphere of the internet was poisonous being the victim of a lunatic cyberstalker but I have gotten a mere taste of what it might be like to have a youtube channel or blog.

    Comment that jumps out- Noel Plum,

    “Hmm. Whenever I hear Rebecca speak it is clear she is a good speaker. What I find jarring is the drive to ‘normalise’ women in atheist/humanist/secular movements, rather than them being an underrepresented exception, and yet so very many speeches by female speakers are given ‘as a woman’ (or, in rebecca’s case, about Rebecca Watson). I can’t help but feel that if your goal is to stop making male the default – a worthy goal where it is the case – the first thing to do is to just talk as a…. person. You don’t hear male speakers talking ‘as a man’ or from ‘a male perspective’ or otherwise making their maleness a feature of their address. I cannot help but feel that if female speakers just talked as a speaker (as someone like Eugenie Scott would do) and if Rebecca watson gave speeches about something other than Rebecca Watson (interesting though her recent history is to listen to) that would have to be a positive step forward.

    The drive to “normalise woman” in the secular community is jarring? Yes, keeping them the underrepresented exception would be better. (grrrrr)

    You don’t get to tell the womenz what to talk about. Hint- Noel- Listen to the video again. I asked Rebecca to speak about this topic to educate you men to stop doing this shit.

  6. =8)-DX says

    Finished watching – wonderful video – I especially like how Rebecca addresses all the main, specific points surrounding “elevatorgate” in direct conversation with the questioners. It feels like reading Darwin’s Origin all over – all criticisms meticulously answered.

  7. =8)-DX says

    I wouldn’t quote NoelPlum as an example of hate and vitriol – he’s actually quite intelligent, he just for some reason “doesn’t get it” on some feminist issues.

  8. Hunt says

    One thing that I think neither Watson nor Dawkins has ever appreciated is that nobody wants their pet concern diminished. So, for instance when Watson explained in a blog post at MGM does not compare to FGM she was flooded with abuse online, while she ridicules Dawkins’ response that ElevatorGate does not compare to “Muslima’s” plight against FGM. Ironically, the two instances have female genital mutilation in common, but also, there is the consistent motif that nobody wants their particular cause or concern ranked against against others. I don’t think this aspect of the story as ever been examined, or examined sufficiently. Nobody wants to allow for an ordering of concerns, and to do so immediately invites the charge that you are entirely dismissing the side you are attempting to rank against.

    What it boils down to is that both Dawkins and Watson were wrong (or right?) in their respective instances, for (or for?) the same reason.

  9. Hunt says

    Of course, regardless of whether either was right or wrong, neither should have been threatened/harassed in consequence, which is the actual salient point. Watson’s treatment is well documented. Dawkins was subject to some “dick” jokes, and I’m not sure what else.

  10. Aratina Cage says

    either should have been threatened/harassed in consequence –Hunt

    Of course, Dawkins never was threatened or harassed for his Dear Muslima faux-letter and subsequent comments at Pharyngula, so what in the world are you talking about?

  11. Bjarte Foshaug says

    @Hunt, there’s a gigaton of difference between being against FGM on the one hand and bringing it up for the sole purpose of trivializing and dismissing another person’s feelings on the other. There was absolutely nothing in Rebecca’s video (the one that sparked the whole hideous Elevatorgate-saga) about how the elevator-incident was in any way worse than/as bad as FGM. In fact, there was nothing about FGM in it at all. To start talking about FGM in that context is like telling a black person (s)he shouldn’t complain about racism because slavery was worse.

  12. Aratina Cage says

    Strange. I don’t know what happened to the “n” in “neither” that was supposed to be there in the text of Hunt’s I quoted.

    I watched/listened to the entire speech last night and found it gripping in spots, especially in the Q&A since I was there (around the atheist blogosphere in general) and here (at B&W) for a good portion of the part of the story where everything began to unfold into a stark picture showing a previously unimagineable current of sexism and misogyny running throughout the atheist community.

  13. says

    I note on the video that the average age of attendees of humanist conferences seems to be significantly higher than that of the atheist ones…:-)
    Also, Richard not talking to Rebecca at conferences or even in private, that’s just weak, I wasn’t aware of that.

    Of course, regardless of whether either was right or wrong, neither should have been threatened/harassed in consequence, which is the actual salient point.

    WTF are you on about?

  14. Hunt says

    Of course, Dawkins never was threatened or harassed for his Dear Muslima faux-letter and subsequent comments at Pharyngula, so what in the world are you talking about?

    In other words, I’m saying that when Watson initiates her argument by qualifying the seriousness of a grievance (FGM vs. MGM) she’s making the same type of error as Dawkins does when he qualifies Watson’s grievance with respect to fictional Muslima. Now, I admit that this point is pretty ill-conceived since the actual point is how the audience responds, whether by death threat or “dick” joke; (however “dick” joke isn’t all that innocuous.) If Watson wants to strengthen her point, she should probably underscore the fact that she is actually wrong to diminish MGM w/r/t FGM, unless that is really her position. PZ does a very similar thing on his posts about FGM. He will explicitly declare that MGM is not apropos to the subject and that the topic is forbidden on a post. This is all great AFAIC; I’m fairly sanguine to the idea of ranking concerns and grievances, but imagine, if you will, what would happen if PZ made a post about murder in, say, an African nation, then explicitly instructed that while rape was a grievous concern, it had no place on that post! Secretly, we all rank things. We rank crimes, and we rank atrocities. We would do well to just get it out in the open and discuss it.

  15. says

    Hunt, are you trying to break some false equivalence record, or what are you on about?

    If Watson wants to strengthen her point, she should probably underscore the fact that she is actually wrong to diminish MGM w/r/t FGM, unless that is really her position

    I will take a stab here and suggest that this is really her position. Feel free to let out a gasp anytime. It’s my position too, by the way. And Aratina Cage’s, and Ophelia Benson’s. Don’t have a heart attack on us, will ya.

  16. Aratina Cage says

    @Hunt

    I’m saying that when Watson initiates her argument by qualifying the seriousness of a grievance (FGM vs. MGM) she’s making the same type of error as Dawkins does when he qualifies Watson’s grievance with respect to fictional Muslima.

    Well, Hunt, the tendency for posts about female genital mutilation to be overtaken by people talking about male genital mutilation in comparison are just another instance of men or men’s interests dominating the conversation.

    Believe me, I didn’t get that either until I started watching it happen every single time FGM was brought up at Pharyngula as a post topic. The same phenomenon probably tends to happen on any blog (written primarily in English at least) where FGM is brought up.

    That phenomenon is being categorized as latent sexism, since issues facing women are pushed out so to speak by an issue facing men. The problem is that there is little to no concern that a space designed for discussing women’s issues is so easily trampled on by an intrusive discussion of a related issue facing men.

    Now contrast that with what Dawkins did. He basically did a good job of derailing a thread, providing another instance where a man barged in on a thread about women and tried to turn it into a thread about his pet issue, and disingenuously so, actually, since he really didn’t give a flip about FGM at the time and instead only wanted to publicly belittle Watson.

    The side issue that Dawkins was called a dick is, to me, thin soup. First of all, and I want this to be perfectly clear, he was not called a dick out of the blue in the same way that he barged in uninvited with his “zero-bad” and “Dear Muslima” belittlings. So stop comparing them in that way right now!

    The rest of the arguments for why it is thin soup follow: His own dog-damned name is Dick, you know, and calling him that is analogous to him calling a nameless, faceless Muslim woman “Muslima”. Besides that, being a dick is not necessarily a bad thing but rather something to be embraced (among Gnu Atheists at least in response to Phil Plait’s somewhat ridiculous “Don’t Be a Dick” lecture).

    Do you think it wounded Dawkins terribly to be called “Dick”? Do you think every man or woman who has one felt shamed for having a dick after that? I don’t believe either of those things for a minute.

  17. Bjarte Foshaug says

    when Watson initiates her argument by qualifying the seriousness of a grievance (FGM vs. MGM) she’s making the same type of error as Dawkins does when he qualifies Watson’s grievance with respect to fictional Muslima.

    More false equivalence. If a circumcised male made a Youtube video addressing his problems with circumcision, without comparing it to FGM in any way, and Rebecca brought up the comparison to FGM specifically to attack him for talking about male circumcision at all, you might have something resembling a point. But that’s not what happened in our particular element of the set of possible universes.

  18. says

    among Gnu Atheists at least in response to Phil Plait’s somewhat ridiculous “Don’t Be a Dick” lecture

    I hate to mention it, but Rebecca Watson gave one of those in Copenhagen a couple years ago. I was in the audience, so was half of the Pharyngula commentariat, and we were not particularly impressed at the time. (there will be photos and stuff still around, if you google it)

  19. Aratina Cage says

    I hate to mention it, but Rebecca Watson gave one of those in Copenhagen a couple years ago. I was in the audience, so was half of the Pharyngula commentariat, and we were not particularly impressed at the time.

    I think the whole idea sprang from TAM anyway, didn’t it, during the accommodation wars? And they’ve certainly proven that they live by that standard, haven’t they? (That last sentence is snark.)

  20. Hunt says

    I will take a stab here and suggest that this is really her position. Feel free to let out a gasp anytime. It’s my position too, by the way. And Aratina Cage’s, and Ophelia Benson’s. Don’t have a heart attack on us, will ya.

    I agree with that too. You’re making assumptions (that aren’t true).

    His own dog-damned name is Dick, you know,…

    That’s lame, and you know it.

    More false equivalence. If a circumcised male made a Youtube video addressing his problems with circumcision, without comparing it to FGM in any way, and Rebecca brought up the comparison to FGM specifically to attack him for talking about male circumcision at all, you might have something resembling a point. But that’s not what happened in our particular element of the set of possible universes.

    In the final analysis, I agree with you; however, I think the entire thing amounts to two uncharitable people operating on different wavelengths. The blame could be placed on Dawkins for not keeping his mouth shut, but both Watson and Dawkins had points and neither had the capacity to acknowledge the other’s, which is a pretty sad commentary on supposedly enlightened individuals. Watson couldn’t seem to bring herself to register and acknowledge the ranked order or grievance in a very troubled world, and Dawkins couldn’t bring himself to register the fact that there is no grievance so diminished by scale that it can be dismissed outright. Watson, in her turn at ranking grievance, at least has the presence to state that she is against all forms of unnecessary and unsanctioned body modification. If questioned, I’m sure Dawkins would state his unequivocal opposition to sexual assault.

    Yes, Dawkins probably shouldn’t have said anything. But you know, on the spur of the moment, people tend to type things in comment boxes, hit submit, and live to regret it, as I will do now…

  21. Aratina Cage says

    That’s lame, and you know it.

    No it isn’t lame, and I’m getting a whiff of slimepit from you saying that. Dawkins gets to swing around the name “Muslima” with impunity. Blackford can patronizingly call PZ “Paul” without anyone castigating him for it. Don’t bother replying to me anymore, Hunt; I’ll do it for you:

    But don’t you DARE call someone named Richard “Dick”!!! It couldn’t possibly have more meaning than “disgusting penis”!!

  22. says

    #20: “I hate to mention it, but Rebecca Watson gave one of those in Copenhagen a couple years ago. I was in the audience, so was half of the Pharyngula commentariat, and we were not particularly impressed at the time. (there will be photos and stuff still around, if you google it)”

    I hate to mention it, but the video for my Don’t Be A Dick talk is surely online somewhere if you’d like to see how it had absolutely nothing to do with Phil’s talk (which came some months later) and absolutely nothing to do with Pharyngula.

    As for “Hunt”, you seem to not realize that my video explaining that FGM was much worse than MGM was a RESPONSE to a man’s video stating that they were equivalent. Therefore, your comparison with Dawkins’ comments about FGM and me would only be relevant had I previously maintained that my experiences were equally as bad as FGM.

  23. says

    I hate to mention it, but the video for my Don’t Be A Dick talk is surely online somewhere if you’d like to see how it had absolutely nothing to do with Phil’s talk

    It was almost the same talk Rebecca, come on. Pick your fights, don’t give granny a hard time on her death bed, all that jazz. Geez, the talks had the same bloody title! It had absolutely nothing to do with Phil’s talk? Seriously? No, this talk was not one of your better ones.

  24. says

    (Everyone please ignore the many times I’ve publicly spoken about how I disagreed with Phil’s talk. It turns out I agreed with him after all and didn’t realize it until this very moment.)

  25. says

    It’s helpful that the recent court decision in Germany ruling that non-medical circumcision of infants is a violation of the infant’s right to bodily integrity has given me plenty of opportunities to have whole discussions exclusively about [male] circumcision, which I can point to if anyone ever again interrupts a discussion of FGM to say yesbutwhataboutcircumcision.

  26. says

    Wait, what? Rebecca gave a ‘don’t be a dick’ talk before Phil’s but hers somehow had something to do with his? Why isn’t it the other way around?

  27. says

    Everyone please ignore the many times I’ve publicly spoken about how I disagreed with Phil’s talk. It turns out I agreed with him after all and didn’t realize it until this very moment.

    I liked your speech in Florida that Ophelia linked to above. I think the last 18 months have been tough on you, from remembering when we spoke last on elevator gate night. But I didn’t like your speech in Copenhagen then, and I don’t like it now. And Phil saying “Don’t be a Dick” versus you saying “Don’t be a Dick”, I’m not buying that these are completely different entities. Anyway, that’s 2 year old shit anyway. You keep up the fight, I think that’s more important.

  28. Bjarte Foshaug says

    both Watson and Dawkins had points and neither had the capacity to acknowledge the other’s

    Even more false equivalence. Dawkins’ braindead “Dear Muslima” comment was explicitly written in response to Rebecca’s ridiculously reasonable request to “Don’t do that”, and in that context it didn’t make any points worth making (unless you think “Shut up, and be glad we don’t treat you worse” is a legitimate point).

  29. Rodney Nelson says

    Dawkins’ “point” was that some women have it worse than a woman being confronted by a possible rapist and so that woman should just shut up. All Dawkins’ point showed was that he’s a privileged rich white male whose biggest worry is someone chewing gum in his presence, not a woman who has to be concerned with sexual assault.

  30. ednaz says

    Rebecca, I don’t know how you do it. Thank You for all the good work you do. You are appreciated.

  31. sezit says

    Wow, wow, wow! So excellent! I am impressed how measured and calm Rebecca is while detailing all this raw filth, and then being challenged for the zillionth time “No, no, really, not us!” I could not have kept my cool.

    This talk was such a great learning event for those who had never considered this issue. And, it’s a great teaching tool for how to address this issue in our community. While I knew most of this stuff, Rebecca explained the details in such a clear and reasonable manner, that it is beyond obvious that her detractors have no moral standing.

    I am also very impressed that she has reached out to Dawkins to resolve this issue. While it pains me that he was so callously disrespectful, I still think he has capability to see the light and do the right thing at some point in the future.

  32. jenniferphillips says

    And Phil saying “Don’t be a Dick” versus you saying “Don’t be a Dick”, I’m not buying that these are completely different entities.

    Yes, you’ve been clear on this point. What isn’t clear is why in the hell Rebecca should be held accountable for any perceived similarities in the talk that Phil gave SEVERAL MONTHS LATER.*

    *unless Rebecca Watson has stumbled on the secret of time travel and instead of going back in time to kill Hitler, she’s using it to further her own radfem agenda. Because she is pure evil.

  33. Sassafras says

    Rebecca Watson has stumbled on the secret of time travel and instead of going back in time to kill Hitler, she’s using it to further her own radfem agenda.

    I would watch the hell out of this movie.

  34. says

    Rebecca Watson has stumbled on the secret of time travel and instead of going back in time to kill Hitler, she’s using it to further her own radfem agenda.

    Wasn’t that a Doctor Who episode? Is Rebecca an incarnation of River Song?

  35. says

    As I said to Rebecca at CONvergence, “It’s astounding how many men heard “Guys, don’t do that” and mistook it for “Guys, cut your balls off and mail them to me in a jar.””

    As I recall, her reply was, “I KNOW! I’m running out of shelf space!”

  36. Pteryxx says

    I’d like to apologize to everyone waiting for a transcript of this talk. A+Scribe is short of volunteers right now as several of our most productive folks are dealing with classwork. If anyone’s willing to help out, please consider signing up at the A+Scribe site, or even just write up a few ten-minute segments of Rebecca’s talk and send them to us for cleanup. Every little bit helps. Again, my apologies and I’ll see what we can do.

    That site again: https://a-plus-scribe.com/doku.php?id=about:contribute

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