You’ve probably seen DJ’s comment at Skepchick, if you’ve been following this, and you’ve probably seen Stephanie’s excellent analysis of it today. I just want to say a couple of things – which probably duplicate things Stephanie and others have said, but never mind.
let me say how sincerely and deeply regretful I am that I blamed you as the messenger. No woman – no person – should ever be blamed for being a victim or for speaking out about sexism or any social problem. I was wrong to write anything that could even be construed that way, and it was never my intent. I am sorry.
How could it never have been his intent? What does he mean “could even be construed that way”? He said
I think this misinformation results from irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in skepticism, actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, and I find that unfortunate.
And when Rebecca pressed him for specifics, he replied
Rebecca: Off the top of my head, your quote in USA Today might suggest that the freethought or skeptics movements are unsafe for women. This is from the article:
“I thought it was a safe space,” Watson said of the freethought community. “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that it is not a safe space. . . ”
So how could it possibly not have been his intent to blame women, and specifically Rebecca, for speaking out about sexism? There is no other way to “construe” what he said.
Talking about sexism isn’t the problem, sexism is the problem — I completely agree. But when trying to solve the problem, I believe reporting instances of being groped or grabbed (these may be criminal acts) to be the most effective way to help organizers make sure events are safe for everyone.
But what if the groping happened where no one else saw? What about non-contact harassment? What about misogynist slurs as opposed to groping or grabbing?
One, groping and grabbing is far from all there is to harassment, or a hostile climate. Two, reporting is fraught with difficulty unless there are multiple witnesses, which there usually aren’t. And irony of ironies, DJ’s complaint about women skeptics demonstrates exactly how and why reporting is fraught with difficulty. It all goes around in a circle, so his urging women to report all the things is just a sour joke. Oh right, we’ll do that, so that you can scold us some more.
This is all very obvious, and yet there are people who think it isn’t, so I say it one more time.