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Ugh.

Remember that horrible piece by David Foster at Comment is Free saying it should be totally fine to ask a total stranger for sex? Well guess who shared it on Twitter.

dick

Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins

“Adults of both genders [should be] comfortable both making and receiving straightforward sexual propositions.” http://bit.ly/1ndgmje 

Well if nothing else, that at least helps to explain Dear Muslima. Not that we didn’t know that was the reason for Dear Muslima, but that helpfully puts it on the record for people who were in denial. Richard was pissed off at Rebecca because he doesn’t want guys being told “don’t do that” – don’t corner women at 4 a.m. to ask them for sex. He doesn’t want guys being told “don’t do that” because he thinks adults – like him for instance, and any women he wants to hit on – should be comfortable both making and receiving straightforward sexual propositions. He thinks that because he wants to feel comfortable that way himself. The important thing is for men to feel entirely free and comfortable to ask women they don’t know for sex.

The important thing is not for women who don’t want to be constantly and permanently subject to being asked for sex by strangers, to feel confident that that won’t happen in places where they go to do other things. Women who want to be able to do their jobs while at work? Pffffff – they’re just prudes. Women who want to be treated as colleagues instead of potential fuck buddies? Bah, they’re those awful sex-negative feminist types. Life is a cabaret, get yer kit off, I’ve got a straightforward sexual proposition for you, and if you say no I’ll get my revenge.

Ugh.

Comments

  1. Blanche Quizno says

    Ugh. I wish he would quit doing that. It makes him look srsly creepy. I only wish it would come out that his system was hacked and somebody sent this out just to make him look bad.

  2. Jenna Stewart says

    If only this were actually surprising or shocking at all. Dawkins seems to be continuing his trend of being a douche nowadays.

    Also, minor bit.

    “Both genders”? Yay for casual non-binary gender erasure!

  3. chigau (違う) says

    “Adults of both genders [should be] comfortable both making and receiving straightforward sexual propositions.”
    Adults of “both” genders should also be comfortable with being utterly rejected and possibly laughed at.

  4. opposablethumbs says

    I know friends of his have tried to get him to stop using it.

    He should so listen to his friends. How can someone who’s such a good science writer be so utterly, benightely, fucking clueless?! I know, I know. It’s perfectly possible to be astute and eloquent in one area and dumb as a bunch of rocks in another. Still makes me sad, though – I enjoyed some of his books so much, and here he has to hang his ugly and willful, deliberate and carefully preserved ignorance and callous indifference out in public like this …

  5. Susan Harman says

    It’s worth mentioning that he also favorably tweeted @EverydaySexism’s response article.

  6. sprocket says

    Adults of both genders [should be] comfortable by being left alone by rich, self-entitled, privileged, Oxford professors.

    I somehow doubt Dawkins has ever been hit on a man.

  7. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @sprocket:

    That’s a decidedly ignorant thing to say. Dawkins himself has talked about this in the past. In addition to the time/s (was it more than one? I thought so, but I can’t be sure) that he was sexually assaulted by a school employee when he was young that he says he *experienced* as something like a clumsy come on, I believe he’s also spoken of being hit on as an adult. I can’t find any quotes now for that second bit now, so this isn’t confirmation, but he’s lived a long time and he’s talked about some of this stuff. “Never” is a bit of stretch, even excluding the assault/s.

    @Ophelia and everyone…

    Richard was pissed off at Rebecca because he doesn’t want guys being told “don’t do that” – don’t corner women at 4 a.m. to ask them for sex.

    I’d like to remind everyone that
    1. The context of the remark was that men in the skepticism and atheism movements had **repeatedly** asked for advice from Rebecca on making women more comfortable at conferences.
    2. This remark was predicated on the “guys” in question being guys who want women to feel more comfortable at conferences (“if you want women to feel comfortable…don’t do that”). It was thus goal oriented, not a total prohibition.
    3. What made this a perfect example was not merely that he hit on her or hit on her in an elevator (and he certainly didn’t hit on her using “straightforward sexual propositions” as the doubters continue to remind us (though his euphemism was conventional and common and transparent). What made it a perfect example was that she had been saying during her plenary panel time, during her individual workshop time, and for hours at the table where EG and Rebecca were both socializing after scheduled events ended, “Please, for the love of doG, whatever you do, don’t hit on me this weekend. I’m tired of it.” She also left the table specifically saying that she was “too tired to talk anymore”. So when a guy either hits on you or asks you for conversation when you’ve said explicitly that you don’t want to be hit on or have a conversation,

    you are ignoring her denial of consent.

    EG ignored denial of consent. He didn’t actually ignore Rebecca’s denial of consent to sex. But he did ignore her denial of consent to proposition sex and to have a conversation with her @4am when she’s trying to sleep.

    Too many guys keep thinking the issue is that she was asked a question (in a time and manner that was, frankly, creepy, and could on its own have been criticized by Rebecca) when in fact the issue was that EG ignored consent.

    Dawkins himself made this mistake, which led to his “zero harm” assertion. One way we can counteract this shit is to consistently spell out the real dynamic criticized.

  8. JayBee9 says

    Maybe in an ideal world where we don’t have structures which justify women perceiving these behaviors as threatening, Dawkins is right. But to advocate this now is dangerous nonsense.

  9. hoary puccoon says

    What bothers me is the double bind involved. Women “…*should* be comfortable… receiving straightforward sexual propositions.” Unless, of course, the man making the proposition is a rapist. In which case, the woman is supposed to run, scream, and fight. If she laughs off a proposition comfortably and gets raped, the defense will claim she was “asking for it,” if she tries to prosecute the guy.

    If Dawkins wants women to be “comfortable” with come-ons from strangers, the place to start is dismantling rape culture.

    *Then* we can maybe talk about whether it’s a good idea to invade the personal space of total strangers minding their own business in public.

  10. opposablethumbs says

    “benightedly”. dammit.

    Andrew B, did his later tweet consist just of the Guardian link or was there any comment from him? (I have no twitter account, so I don’t know if I can see for myself – sorry if that’s a dumb question). Still, that’s something I suppose!

  11. says

    opposablethumbs, twitter is an open publishing platform. So long as the tweeter hasn’t locked their account, anybody with internet access can see their tweets.

    Dawkins’ tweet in question is here –
    https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/454919473750106112

    Regarding his tweeting generally, I rather liked this piece the other week – Let the fate of Richard Dawkins be a lesson to you all – Twitter brings out the worst in humankind – though fair warning, it’s written by someone who doesn’t tweet at all, and it shows.

  12. RJW says

    @7

    “I somehow doubt Dawkins has ever been hit on a man.”

    Yes, I’m sure the Prof. is unlikely to have ever been incarcerated in a high security US prison.

  13. says

    Maybe in an ideal world where we don’t have structures which justify women perceiving these behaviors as threatening, Dawkins is right.

    No, really, he isn’t, not even then. You know why? Because what would happen is, young hot women would be unable to go outside in peace. That would stop being fun or like an ideal world REALLY fast.

    I keep harking back to my experience in Paris when I was 17-18 (I turned 18 during the month I was there). That’s what it was like for me – I wasn’t hot but I was young, and I was wandering around exploring by myself. I could never relax, because it happened so often. It was a nightmare.

    It isn’t fun. It’s as if you’re meat (well, you are meat) and you’re strolling around surrounded by wolves. It isn’t fun. It isn’t sexy or erotic or sex-positive.

  14. says

    He did comment more later. Someone told him “You try walking down the street and feeling like a piece of meat, then calling it ‘flirting'” and he responded with “Yes indeed, that is NOT flirting. Hence my later plug of Guardian article distinguishing flirting from boorish harassment”. Then he said a friend of his once felled a guy who was harassing her with one blow, and the same tweeter said “Anecdotes of ‘my friend did this’ simple don’t hold up as arguments in defense of ‘I know how you feel!’. Don’t do that.” and he said “That’s probably fair. Anyway, I think harassment by strangers is horrible. Flirtation OK because not strangers.”

    Which is an improvement, in fact fine – yes, flirtation between non-strangers is indeed ok – but it’s not what he said. I pointed that out to him – David Foster said STRANGERS. It was Foster’s article he was promoting.

    To be fair, as I pointed out in my blog post on it Foster did avoid spelling that out except once at the end – which is weirdly chickenshit of him. It’s what he’s saying, so why is he afraid or ashamed to say it? Or if he’s afraid or ashamed to say it, why is he saying it? Blegh, it’s a train wreck.

  15. JayBee9 says

    Indeed. My point was more more that he was arguing in a world that doesn’t exist, rather than that he would actually be right in such a world.

  16. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Yes, I’m sure the Prof. is unlikely to have ever been incarcerated in a high security US prison.

    Knock it off. Gay flirtation is not a synonym for “prison rape,” and prison rape references aren’t funny. You do realize men manage to hit on each other without the threat of rape in the jail house, right?

    Of course you do. So knock off the insulting jokes.

  17. RJW says

    “Gay flirtation is not a synonym for “prison rape,”

    Where did I imply that it was? You drew the inference, it certainly wasn’t my implication. Rape and sexual predation in general are essentially about disparities in power, which, as far as I understand, is the subject of discussion on this thread, not gay flirtation or sexual orientation in general.

    “So knock off the insulting jokes.” No humor was intended.

    I should have been more explicit.

  18. kellym says

    I think harassment by strangers is horrible. Flirtation OK because not strangers.”

    So he’s completely changed his mind since Dear Muslima? Because he argued at that time that sexual harassment by strangers was “zero bad.” He’s expressed rage against a woman who disagreed with his previous opinion.

  19. says

    Good question. Maybe he simply realized how bad his first position looked and tried to backpedal – but why the same never happened with Dear Muslima remains a mystery to me.

  20. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Where did you imply it was? Why, by replying to a hypothetical scenario about Dawkins being hit on by a man:

    “I somehow doubt Dawkins has ever been hit on a man.”

    With joke about prison rape:

    Yes, I’m sure the Prof. is unlikely to have ever been incarcerated in a high security US prison.

    Because it’s so obvious that the most likely way for a man to get “hit on” by another man is forcibly in prison.

  21. says

    I’m wondering: Does Richard Dawkins sometimes get tired of people wanting things from him? I don’t know how much of a celebrity status he has, but maybe, just maybe, at a conference, does he wish that he could walk around just enjoying the event without people bothering him for pictures and autographs?
    Does he insist on there being areas where he can just relax, VIP lounges and such?
    Have there been situations where he felt actually threatened by fans or opponents?
    If the answer is yes, maybe he could have a body of experience from which he could draw and then use the M-thingy* and extrapolate.
    Or he just thinks that he is an extra special case and should have better care than anybody else. Totally possible.

    You know, the thing starting with M, M-pathy

  22. doubtthat says

    @28 Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    That’s a good example. I’ve tried using similar analogies to explain the concept to my fellow Y-chromosomers. What I find compelling about these analogies is that if you eliminate the truly terrifying aspect of unwanted sexual advancement (the threat of violence) there is still plenty of justification for requesting that people not annoy the fuck out of you.

    It’s similar to cigarettes in this regard: we can have a prolonged argument about second hand smoke and whether there’s good evidence that you’re causing me real harm by smoking at the next table, but it should be sufficient that it smells like shit and it forces me to get my suit dry cleaned if we’re at a bar and it sticks in my hair and it makes my eyes water…there is no other activity I could do in a public place that would so disturb others without someone demanding that I stop.

    There is a real threat behind these stranger come-ons, but we shouldn’t have to get to that in order to justify the “don’t do that” part.

  23. hoary puccoon says

    There are plenty of places already where asking strangers or virtual strangers for sex is, in fact, tolerated. In addition to sex workers who are trying to earn a living at it, there are bars, resorts, and so on that have the reputation as pick-up places. I’ve heard there are also swingers’ hangouts for couples. (In any of those circumstances, of course, the person who is asked still has the right to say no without being forced or even harassed for it.)

    There may be some people who call themselves feminists who object to sexual come-ons in circumstances where everyone else agrees they’re expected. But that’s really not a major feminist issue. David Foster is implying he should be able to ask strangers for sex in times and places that are currently considered wildly inappropriate. And getting men not to do that *is* a major feminist issue. Richard Dawkins should have more sense than to give credence to such nonsense.

  24. says

    doubtthat
    Another example would be street vendors. Actually, they have a much bigger need to intrude on your time. Their livelyhood depends on them selling you stuff, quite often they’re really poor chaps, immigrants, sometimes heavily exploited by a special kind of pimps. Still nobody wants to walk the streets while constantly having merchandise shoved in their face and we all recognise that those interactions should be regulated by law.

    hoary puccon
    Well, I know about three places where I could go to get sex from complete strangers and where people only show up if that’s what they’re into*. And I’m not even interested in that kind of thing. Last I heard there was some newly-fangled thingy they call “the internet”.

    *Maybe with the exception of that rest area on the A6. There might be some unsuspecting folks showing up there who only want to pee

  25. says

    Very good point, Giliell (@ 28). I’ve heard a close friend of his tell a bunch of people that he does indeed get frayed by lots of attention and interaction and he needs solitary time to recover from it. So, yeah.

  26. says

    Was thinking about this, and wondering if Dawkins would feel differently if he were a member of one half of society which a good bit of the other half thought of as prey…and then put that together with all the Christian proselytizing that’s going on (at least where I live) in the run-up to Easter. I think if he couldn’t order a coffee or a cocktail, or stand in line at the university library or the bookstore, without having someone come up to exercise their right to ask him if they can talk to him about Jesus, because they can tell he really needs them to talk to him about Jesus, he might get the idea…

  27. smhll says

    I’m wondering: Does Richard Dawkins sometimes get tired of people wanting things from him? I don’t know how much of a celebrity status he has, but maybe, just maybe, at a conference, does he wish that he could walk around just enjoying the event without people bothering him for pictures and autographs?
    Does he insist on there being areas where he can just relax, VIP lounges and such?
    Have there been situations where he felt actually threatened by fans or opponents?
    If the answer is yes, maybe he could have a body of experience from which he could draw and then use the M-thingy* and extrapolate.

    I’ve turned the same questions over in my mind. I imagine that IF Prof. Dawkins owned a beach cottage and at some conference someone got up close to him in an elevator and begged to borrow it, that at future conferences there would be an announcement from the chair “Please stop pestering Dawkins for the loan of his beach house.”

    I think guys who own pickup trucks can relate to the idea that it’s annoying when even slight acquaintances want the favors that you limit to a small circle of friends. (I’ve seen pickups with bumperstickers that declare “No you can’t borrow my truck. Alluring women and very alluring men should have to put stickers that say “stay back” on their, er, bumpers in order to have conference experiences free of random interruption.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m extra cranky on this subject because I am monogamous and would find it offputting if someone I had just met asked if I was DTF.

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