The story that atheism will never live down


In 2011, a trivial incident got blown up into a major cause célèbre by the regressive clique in the growing atheist movement, which unfortunately included people as prominent as Richard Dawkins. It was, of course, that moment when a woman casually suggested that “guys, don’t do that” when recounting a brief encounter with a guy who didn’t understand simple boundaries. Rebecca Watson recently revisited the incident.

This issue is obviously near and dear to me, because I went through hell on earth for mentioning that I was often sexually harassed by skeptics and atheists and because I gave one example I thought was very obvious of a strange dude asking me to his hotel room at 4am after I’d spent an entire day talking about the problem of sexual harassment. What’s nuts is that the harassment campaign I withstood wasn’t just a flash in the pan. It’s been EIGHT YEARS, and yet I still have an army of men who follow my every move and spread misinformation about me wherever they can. As an example, last week I noticed traffic from Reddit going to one of my videos, so I checked out the thread. Sure enough, there are a few dudes in there just posting nonstop lies: one says I had spoken to the guy in the elevator previously (I hadn’t), that I claimed it was predatory rather than an awkward incident of him not knowing what the right time to ask was (in fact I made it clear in the video that the whole reason I was talking about that incident was because I think a lot of guys are just not thinking when they do these stupid things), and another guy actually hilariously claims that he knows I made the entire story up (why would I do that) because I was “presented with pictures of the people in the skeptic clique in the bar before the imagined elevator incident” and I “couldn’t point the guy out.” Was there a fucking police interrogation? Did someone show up to a line-up claiming to be me? Like, that never happened. Someone literally just made that up, probably said it in a YouTube video and now EIGHT YEARS LATER dudes are shouting about it on Reddit because someone else posted a video of me explaining the origins of the phrase “Judeo-Christian” values.

Eight years have passed and I still don’t get to have a normal career online. I don’t get to just talk about science and critical thinking, because there will always be men lying about me in the comments. Always. I will never be able to get a mainstream job like I used to have, writing copy or whatever for a company, because everywhere they look there will be men lying about me. Why? Because I tried to stop men from sexually harassing women in the skeptic and atheist communities, and because I tried to help men get better at interacting with women they’d like to fuck.

There exists a successful mob of skeptic/atheist yahoos who are currently very popular on YouTube who have thrived on invented mythologies about women and feminists and SJWs. They rely on making up lies when the facts are not juicy enough: I’ve seen people claim with pathological certainty that I was the guy in the elevator, in order to get a double-whammy against two people they detest at once.

It’s so ironic that a community of atheists has decided that the truth is irrelevant.

Rebecca has my sympathies. A woman in this shitstorm of an atheist faction is far more vulnerable and far more targeted by the anti-feminist goblins than any man, and this is a case where it has clearly had a deleterious effect on her daily life. Then people like Sam Harris and Michael Shermer wonder why there are many more men than women in atheism, and make up more bullshit about intrinsic biological differences, rather than pinning the blame where it belongs: the stunted socialization of man-children.

Comments

  1. lotharloo says

    I think the elevatorgate was the crack that finally blew up the rifts. By itself, it’s a minor incident of some dude asking her for “coffee” and her remarks that “guys don’t do that”. Without prior tensions within the skeptic community, this incident would not have blown up this big. But at the time, the skeptic/atheist community was conglomeration of feminists, anti-feminists, liberals, libertarians, dude bros, creepy guys, women who wanted to change things, and so on.

    Probably it was a very good outcome that it blew up. Now the other side can keep their Amazing Atheists, thunderfoots, Carl Benjamins for themselves.

  2. hemidactylus says

    Maybe I’m experiencing a demographic anomaly, but the atheist meetups I’ve attended over the years aren’t devoid of female members. Maybe local atheism isn’t a microcosm of New Atheism, though the latter may have added to the ranks because generation of interest.

  3. jrkrideau says

    I must say as a male I am not happy with sexual harassment. In fact, I cannot even conceive of it.
    I really don’t have any problem with beating the shit out of him.

  4. lotharloo says

    And about the video was very good and I also think that metoo in fact has had a big positive impact. Talking about sexual harassment became mainstream and the talk went into finer points of sexual harassment. I have a feeling before metoo, the mainstream view of sexual harassment was a guy grabbing a woman’s ass in a bar but not a work colleague talking loudly about asses and tittes at lunch breaks at work.

  5. Akira MacKenzie says

    The greatest disappointment that came out of that affair and the subsequent blow-up that followed was it revealed an utter lack–indeed a militant disdain–for basic human empathy. You’d think that atheists, a marginalized and vilified group throughout a good chunk of the modern world, would have some understanding and solidarity for the plight of other marginalized and vilified groups. We atheists ought to know better, but it seems too many of us don’t.

    “Get away from me with your silly social justice nonsense! I was called a ‘godless commie’ by some redneck politician three states away and I don’t have time to deal with your liberal politics!!!”

  6. alixmo says

    I detest the anti-women attitude that runs through (nearly?) all human societies. I feel for Rebecca Watson who suffered and suffers greatly and unjustly from the attack of an irrational, misogynist mob of “male supremacists”. I am not too surprised (albeit disappointed) that this crazed mob (which believes in and gets high on its own lies and “fake news”) is calling themselves “atheists”.

    Those male supremacists are hugely proud of figuring out that there is no “God” (big deal, many people are atheists since childhood, get over it, dudes!), but they failed to learn anything else.

    Many of them may come from families with patriarchal, maybe even religious-patriarchal (since both go hand-in-hand) background and were unable (to unintellectual? To lazy? To selfish?) to shake off this “baggage”.

    Nature and especially nurture are still strongly enforcing “male supremacy”, even in “Western” societies. There are even some “anti-women women”, who learned that women are worth less than men, deserving only a second (or even third, behind fertilized eggs and fetuses) rank. Those women live their life undermining women’s rights, emancipation, equality, e.g. by teaching their children the same patriarchal stereotypes that they internalized in childhood. This is sad, for them and women in general.

    Feminism is still an an uphill struggle, in the “West” and (sadly even more so) in the rest of the world.

    What to do against this? More education, obviously, especially in childhood. And resistance, whenever sexism and misogyny raise their ugly heads, regardless if the person saying that crap is a believer or atheist, Christian or Muslim, white or black, men or women etc.

    With regard to atheism: there have to be more platforms, conventions, conferences, news outlets, Internet presence for humanist secularists. More networking amongst the “good people”. Somehow (?) we have to be more present, louder, more visible.

    Because the shitty atheist male-supremacists are (according to polls) not representative for atheists: Many atheists already subscribe to humanist secularism, are progressives/liberals/leftists.

  7. doubtthat says

    Still, all this time later, I cannot understand what about that video set people off. It was reasonable, mild, anonymous criticism. It was good advice!
    Of course, as others have said, it was just the small spark that lit the kindling. It’s the skeptic/atheist assassination of Ferdinand.
    But still, even knowing that and what came after, it’s hilarious/depressing that this is still an issue being discussed – not in historical terms, but still being actively lied about to help make the idiotic case people thought they had against this very reasonable point.

  8. says

    Just the idea of harassing a person does my head in – for others, though, it doesn’t even occur what might be inappropriate or unwelcome. In about 2003 I had a colleague (we were both early 20s) come back from the bathroom and shove his phone in my face, upon which was a dick pic he’d just taken. He was giggling like a child. After telling him to GTF away from me, and after the initial anger abated, I was just baffled. Why would you think that that was funny, or that I would be into it or appreciate it on any level, and that I wouldn’t just tell you to fuck off? It was later that I heard of people smsing these things to women unbidden. Bafflement of course turned to disgust. How the fuck could this be a thing people think is welcome? I’d experienced a single incident and was not personally troubled, but I immediately imagined being on the receiving end of multiple similar incidents, comments, and worse, and a shiver went down my spine.

    Nowadays I wonder how women don’t just scream in people’s faces for acting like entitled goddamn manbabies and forcing their company or pics or desires into a woman’s life even once, much less repeatedly. And then I remember how a lot of men react to women asserting themselves: like entitled manbabies, with tantrums and often violence. In Watson’s case, literal years of tantrums, threats and obsessive posting and gossip. I admire her courage in continuing to be a public advocate for science and skepticism in the face of such enraging, baffling, adolescent fuckery.

  9. alixmo says

    @Akira MacKenzie, #5,

    It is a common misconception that people or groups that are victims of persecution, that are marginalized or vilified, would “know better” or learn from their suffering. History proves that this is mostly not the case. On the contrary, persecuted groups often start persecuting others, when the tables are turned. Like the Christians after they gained power, after Constantine.

    Even while people get persecuted and vilified, many still vilify others. LGBTQ+ are an example for a group that is hated by many other marginalized groups. And misogyny/anti-women attitudes are common in (nearly?) all human cultures and ethnicities. Many of this groups suffer(ed) greatly from prejudice (and worse), but that does not diminish their fervent “male supremacy”.

    This we should never forget: no sizeable human group only consists of “angels” (even if there are groups that are shitty altogether, e.g Nazis). Oversimplification has to be avoided. We all love to “pick sides” – but we should be aware that this is not an easy task. There are many “victims of the victims” out there, and even “victims of the victims of the victims”.

  10. microraptor says

    doubtthat @7: I may be misremembering the sequence of events, but IIRC the situation really exploded when Richard Dawkins decided to Tweet his clueless dismissal of the video.

  11. doubtthat says

    @microraptor

    Yes, that was the act that took it from a regional strife in the Balkans to a World War.

  12. bryanfeir says

    Why? Because I tried to stop men from sexually harassing women in the skeptic and atheist communities, and because I tried to help men get better at interacting with women they’d like to fuck.

    That last part is the most… disappointing, I guess, part of all this. Because it’s true: knowing how to tell when someone is in a receptive mood makes it easier to make successful advances. But also because it shows that people like Thunderf00t complaining about how codes of conduct will remove the chances to have fun are misrepresenting things: it’s not about having mutual fun, it’s about having fun at the expense of the other people. It’s about people who can’t have fun if they’re required to use empathy and treat the woman they’re talking to as an actual person first.

  13. says

    Akira @5

    You’d think that atheists, a marginalized and vilified group throughout a good chunk of the modern world, would have some understanding and solidarity for the plight of other marginalized and vilified groups.

    Don’t forget that the most vocal and visible of them were still straight white men so that is a lot of privilege to unpack. Unless they wear t-shirts loudly stating their atheism, they still go about their day-to-day lives as straight white men.

    doubtthat @7

    Still, all this time later, I cannot understand what about that video set people off. It was reasonable, mild, anonymous criticism. It was good advice!

    It was straight white men being mildly chastised. That’s not something they’re used do. Even now, years later, it still sets them off. That’s why being “anti-PC” is still a thing.

    alixmo @9

    I remember after Prop 8 passed in California seeing a black woman on the news talk about how as a woman at one time she wasn’t able to vote, as a black American at one time she wasn’t able to vote. Now she is able to vote… and she used it to shit on another minority group.

    microraptor @10

    Yup. “Dear Muslima” was one of the New Atheist “leaders” basically giving permission to not just go after Rebecca Watson, but against western feminism entirely.

  14. doubtthat says

    @Tabby Lavalamp

    I mean, I get that explanation, I think you’re right, but that doesn’t really help me on a fundamental level. It’s one of those situations where the venom and loathing and entitlement are so deeply embedded that I don’t think there’s any way to convey the essence of that resentment to someone who doesn’t experience it – “I hate women so much that I cannot take mild criticism coupled with useful advice without spending a decade attacking that person…”
    Like, I’m a white atheist dude. If anyone should understand where they’re coming from, it should be me, but I still, on a very basic level, do not comprehend the reaction to that video.
    You’re doing a good job of explaining what you think is wrong with these doofuses that leads them to behave the way they do. Again, I think you’re 100% correct about that. From their perspective, though, in all these years I have not encountered a single coherent thought from any people upset by that video that even remotely conveys or articulates a position that I can understand.
    “I’m upset about this because…” The only things that follow the because are either outright lies or just incomprehensible gibberish.

  15. says

    If their self-entitled argle bargle weren’t tinged with a whiff of violence, there would be no group more worthy of derision than the self-styled “In-Cel” dopes. Hurt, feckless and unloved, they will harass, attack and attempt to de-mean women. The world needs the contributions of smart, critically thinking women, and making it harder for them to participate is like salting your own field or poisoning your own well. It is churlish and stupid. It is too much to hope that these wienies will gain enough self-awareness to learn why it is women simply don’t like them.

  16. says

    Elevatorgate had a huge impact on me as a male. My wife died shortly after that unfortunate event happened. I used to lead a lot of hikes and weekend trips for my hiking club and the natural way to meet a new partner was people doing what I loved who also loved what I did. But I never forgot the comment “it was bad enough the incident happened but what made it worse was she was trapped with nowhere to go.” That tempered my thinking in terms of what was appropriate behavior on my part as leader. Bad enough to be trapped in an elevator, but being in the woods being reliant on the leader to get out safely is much worse. Once I asked a mutual friend the next day if she could contact her friend and once at the end of a hike I told a woman I was interested in or coffee or whatever (she turned me down in a way that made me feel like a million dollar)s. At no other time did I express interest in women on my hikes to some degree tempered by this story and also when you are management you do not ask the staff out.

    Gist of this is despite all of the negative fallout, there are some of us who live and learn from the blunders of others.

  17. hemidactylus says

    I bring the sensibility I gain from this blog to every atheist meetup I attend, but seriously don’t see the issues detailed here there. Things are on an even keel though I admit burnout on meetings and boring ass subject matter (mostly church-state stuff).

    One thing I have found odd outside that is the recent Street Epistemology focus on trans issues.

    https://youtu.be/-NaU1gyoZOE

    https://youtu.be/atxeMvcr7rg

    https://youtu.be/BThJndS_xIQ

    https://youtu.be/EbNlZEKkBRc

    Hmmm… 🤔

  18. Onamission5 says

    What was done to Watson, and the way it radiated out to the other Skepchicks, women on FtB, and indeed across the social media of all women involved who spoke up however mildly, in any way, in movement atheism, was a serious eye opener for me. Not because I was unfamiliar with gendered harassment or with focused harassment campaigns (I’ve been targeted by two, once as a child and once as an adult) but because I had allowed myself to hope I could drop my well earned guard where atheism was involved. EG pretty much solidified my resolve to never trust anyone or any group of people, ever, not to take them at their word that they understand or are in support of women’s issues, until they have given me ample reason to do so, generally by having shown themselves open to correction when I think they’ve gotten something wrong or missed a (to me) crucial detail. That’s a kind of silver lining, I suppose, if losing hope of trust can be called such.

  19. Allison says

    hemidactylus @17:

    I bring the sensibility I gain from this blog to every atheist meetup I attend, but seriously don’t see the issues detailed here there.

    Are you female?

    If you are male, then you probably won’t see the crap that women put up with.

    The real-life stuff is usually either done where there aren’t many witnesses (e.g., the guy hitting on Rebecca Watson in the elevator, or in a hotel room) or done in such a way that it isn’t obvious to casual onlookers (stalking, upskirt photos.)

    And, honestly, most men aren’t sensitized to some of the stuff, like creepy stares or boundary pushing, so they just don’t see them. Women grow up learning that any man is a potential harasser, attacker, rapist (cf. Schrödinger’s Rapist), or murderer, and they learn to be on alert. Men don’t grow up having to think about whether the nice guy they have a drink with every day after work might unexpectedly act on a belief that he has a right to their body.

  20. Allison says

    My first contact with capital-A Atheists was when I was following Pandagon (Amanda Marcotte’s blog at the time), and I have to say, I was rather impressed with the Atheists who commented on her blog — negatively impressed.

    My impression was that they believed that their disbelief in a God was proof of their superiority to hoi polloi, and that it entitled them to be a******s toward lesser beings. I’m not saying that their atheism made that way; I think, rather, that the idea that being an Atheist makes you a superior being makes Atheism particularly attractive to a******s. And the idea that being an Atheist makes you superior seems pretty widespread among Atheists, even the ones that (otherwise) do a reasonably good job of being a decent person.

    Of course, that attitude is rather widespread even in non-atheist circles. It seems prevalent in SF fandom, too, to judge by some of the SF&F blogs I follow. And it’s an issue in tech circles, too (cf. “bro-grammers”)

    My own conclusion, based on my experience of growing up being socialized as if I were male, is that male socialization is, in large part, socialization to be an a******. I think it’s a testimony to the essential decency of most men that they manage to not be jerks all the time, and when they are jerks, it’s usually because at some level they feel that it’s expected of them, that if they don’t, they’ll be ostracized and excluded by all of society.

  21. hemidactylus says

    @19- Allison
    Points taken. I haven’t witnessed anything I could call out as over the line. Eccentric and obnoxious people do show up once in a while.

    OTOH given I have had an interest in Street Epistemology I have been a bit disturbed by recent manner in which trans issues are being addressed. At one point I thought Rationality Rules had an interesting take on Jordan Peterson and may have linked a video here to that effect. But he seemed to be too smitten with Harris for my taste and his recent foray into trans issues pretty much turned me away. So Street Epistemology may be heading down the same road but less overtly.

  22. says

    What still confuses me is how so many people fail to grasp basic social skills like respecting boundaries. Like, come on — if my dumb ass can understand why you don’t corner someone in an elevator, there’s no reason neurotypical dudes can’t understand it.

  23. stepppenwolf says

    What happened to Rebecca Watson was despicable. The pile on afterwards made me despair for humanity.

    But she was lucky that it was a natal man in the elevator. I doubt she would have had the same level of support were her elevator companion a trans woman.

    Let’s hear some support for Julie Bindel. Activist. Lesbian. Woman.

  24. stepppenwolf says

    Such an elegant argument. How long did it take you to think that up?

    Anyway, thanks for proving my point.

  25. says

    steppenwolf, I’d love to know what your point is, exactly. And whether you actually bothered to read anything here before posting. This is a trans friendly place, so of course your comment would piss people off.

  26. vucodlak says

    @ stepppenwolf

    If you want a more substantial response than Porivil Sorrens’ at #24, then you could always try to be worthy of one. I mean, in what way does ‘if the situation were completely different then it would have been completely different’ merit anything better than eye-rolling condescension? When you add in your obvious bigotry, a scornful and dismissive response seems right on the money.

    “Fuck off, TERF” might not be how I would respond (I can’t resist giving directions, advice on methodology, listing the ways in which you’re a shitty human being, etc.), but it’s perfectly reasonable and appropriate. Indeed, there’s a certain elegant simplicity in two words and an acronym that would be lost in the walls o’ text I prefer.

    Having said all that, let’s dig in to some of the ways in which you’ve revealed yourself to be a turd in internet-commenter form. First, you dismiss Rebecca Watson’s experiences in your third line, using terminology that just screams “Feminism-Appropriating Reactionary Transphobe.” You confirm that, yep, you’re a FART, in the very next line. I almost appreciate the economy in that rapid reveal. Finally, having dismissed Rebecca Watson and her experiences completely in furtherance of your hate, you attempt to derail the thread to make it all about something else entirely. That’s a pretty serious feminism fail, right there.

    I’m afraid I must add my voice to Porivil Sorrens’ and request that you fuck off posthaste, transphobe. If it helps, I’ll say it again with my very best courtly bow: Fuck. Off.

    Is that elegant enough?

  27. redwood says

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but I couldn’t help noticing that what happened to Rebecca Watson is so similar to what’s happening in the world in general, especially politics. People are lied about and hounded (see “Lock her up!”), all in an attempt to put forth a world view different from reality. I mostly blame FUX NOISE for this but it also percolates through online groups.
    I blame religion for a lot of this because once you start believing in nonsensical things then it becomes easier to believe in other such things. No need for facts or reality, just believe what fits best with your preferences. If someone gets hurt by it, well, it’s their fault for getting in your way.

  28. says

    I frequently return to the idea that there exist two kinds of ‘atheist’. One kind is almost accidentally atheistic, being a byproduct of learning and experience and of having a capacity for metaphor: knowing there’s no wizard behind the curtain but understanding what it means in human interactions.

    The other kind of atheist simply hates being told what to do. This atheist resents that other people have preferences, thoughts, and behaviors. I’m convinced, incidentally, that this type actually hates ‘god’ (what ever that means); they sure hate people who profess belief in god things and they seem to spend a lot of time and effort ‘debunking’ self-evidently false ideas that, in actually have a powerful stranglehold on their own minds.

    I think it’s the latter type who are condemned to hating all sorts of other people, especilaly ‘do-gooders’ and ‘social justice warriors’, whom it would seem they imagine think themselves superior and whom they try to destroy in a continuous effort to bolster their own inadequate selves while resenting being told what to do.

  29. snuffcurry says

    lotharloo @4

    I have a feeling before metoo, the mainstream view of sexual harassment was a guy grabbing a woman’s ass in a bar but not a work colleague talking loudly about asses and tittes at lunch breaks at work.

    I’m very grateful MeToo blew up as it did, but let’s not be obtuse: one-half of the “mainstream” is intimately experienced with the nuances and forms of sexual harassment and have been for millennia. It just took this long to get men and power structures both to publicly acknowledge, for their own good health, the breadth of the phenomenon (and maybe even denounce it with a little more frequency).

    Also, this goes beyond grab-ass and lewd conversations. Treating women like they’re walking opportunities to pull is also harassment, as this post demonstrates.

  30. snuffcurry says

    hemidactylus, you keep mentioning in-person meet-ups when the bulk of the post is about the on-line behavior of misogynists in organized skeptic / atheist circles, You don’t have to take anyone’s word for that: just go google it. Watson’s persecution is publicly viewable. Secondly, misogyny and gender-based harassment is a feature of every girl and woman’s life; why would you think face-to-face atheist socializing is somehow immune to the cultural phenomenon of patriarchy? Minimizing women’s complaints—literally, this thread is full of women—or being blind to them is a luxury you own and can surrender any time. That you don’t witness or recognize it is a You Problem.

  31. Allison says

    Let’s hear some support for Julie Bindel. Activist. Lesbian. Woman.

    Also notorious apostle of hatred towards trans and bi people.

    Would you expect to be taken seriously or even treated civilly if you said Rebecca Watson should be glad she wasn’t in the elevator with a Jew, and then referred to assassination attempts against Hitler?

  32. lotharloo says

    @snuffcurry:

    I’m very grateful MeToo blew up as it did, but let’s not be obtuse: one-half of the “mainstream” is intimately experienced with the nuances and forms of sexual harassment and have been for millennia

    No I disagree. I think the majority of the men due to their privilege did not even consider many forms of sexual harassment as actually sexual harassment. In fact that was the entire point of Dawkins’ second post: that a random guy using skeptic conferences to follow random women into elevators and propositioning them for sex is “zero bad”, equivalent to people chewing gum in his presence. Dawkins was not lying. Due to his privilege and also the fact that he’s an asshole, he had never considered the world from the point of view of a woman. I also remember a lot of guys arguing that “So, what’s the problem? He asked her for sex, she said no, and he left her alone!”, meaning, only a physical confrontation would have raised to the level it could be considered sexual harassment. I think metoo changed a lot of that.

  33. Allison says

    hemodactylus @21

    Points taken. I haven’t witnessed anything I could call out as over the line. Eccentric and obnoxious people do show up once in a while.

    Points evidently not taken. The whole point of my comment was that you wouldn’t see it.

    That you would consider your not having witnessed “anything” as evidence for anything but your own obliviousness is an example of your male privilege. You’ve been here a while, so I know you’ve read numerous reports of women’s experience with harrassment and worse. Yet you still take your own impressions more seriously than the first-person testimony of the women who suffer from this stuff.

    And if you try to tell us that you haven’t heard about these things from the women you know — well, I wouldn’t tell you, either. If you’ve had the experience of trying to tell someone about some of the most painful experiences of your life and had it dismissed as hysterical overreaction (or even your own fault), you aren’t going to tell anyone else unless they give clear evidence that they’re going to believe you and take your experiences seriously. You’ve given clear reason to suspect that you won’t.

  34. Allison says

    I think the majority of the men due to their privilege did not even consider many forms of sexual harassment as actually sexual harassment.

    Because they haven’t grown up experiencing how such “innocuous” incidents can escalate or turn violent.

    And they don’t know or have to think about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this treatment. It doesn’t have to be “serious” to destroy you; it just has to be constant and pervasive and unavoidable. Especially when those with the power to stop it just laugh it off or even promote it. Cf.: bullying in the schools.

  35. Onamission5 says

    lotharloo@33:
    I read “one half of the mainstream” as “women.” As in, women– who are roughly half of the population, mainstream doesn’t automatically mean “men”– know the nuances of harassment quite well, and men would have, too, if they’d ever bothered listening to us.

  36. petesh says

    It’s always disappointing when one is forced to see that some people one has considered part of the same tribe are in fact assholes. There’s not a lot to be done about it. A gentle attempt at conversion is fine, but giving up is also fine; there’s just no point in banging your head against a brick wall. Still, these things hurt everyone. How often have I concealed my opinions rather than lose a connection? I have done for sure, especially in my somewhat confused youth. I am old now, and fortunately cannot pass for a reactionary even if I wanted to (they know, and I know they know, and I know they know I know and don’t like them). But I do still harbor some sympathy for my confused youth, and others like him. There are in fact decent people in the world.

  37. imback says

    @microraptor #10 wrote:

    doubtthat @7: I may be misremembering the sequence of events, but IIRC the situation really exploded when Richard Dawkins decided to Tweet his clueless dismissal of the video.

    His clueless dismissal wasn’t on Twitter; it was right here on Pharyngula, or at least its earlier incarnation if I recall correctly.

  38. mountainbob says

    Seems about 30% are hard core troglodytes and misanthropes. It’s not a solid group; members may appear in several other groups such as radical religious types and extreme climate deniers as well as all the other forms of anti-thought that attracts the obliverati. One may be a “member” of two or three… or, maybe 14 such groups. The folks who attack the lady happen to latch on to some warped version of male supremacy and entitlement. Sad to say, but another demographic of about equal size tends to think and behave in these same terms, but often stifle themselves out of regard for some notion of propriety.

  39. Mark Jones says

    Elevatorgate has been called the day the atheist movement died (see: https://twitter.com/jennifurret/status/405391218273554433 and https://www.atheistrev.com/2013/12/the-day-atheist-movement-died.html).

    On July 2, 2011, Richard Dawkins wrote an open letter to a fictitious Muslim woman, satirically equating Rebecca Watson’s plight with that of abused Muslim women. The letter was addressed to “Muslima”.

    July 2, 2019 will be the 8th anniversary of the day the atheist movement died.

  40. lotharloo says

    @Onamission5:
    Oh right, thanks for clarifying, I misunderstood the comment then.

  41. threethoughts says

    I have to say that I find it frustrating that I can’t understand the logic of the discussion here and I do wish I could have a discussion with someone of this more ‘SJW’ (for lack of a better word sorry..) mindset.

    I do sympathise with RW’s situation, clearly the reaction to her has been OTT, and I have no doubt there is some genuine harassment from some bigoted people.

    With all that said, do people here really not think there can be genuine criticism of RW’s original video?

    I went back and watched the video, and so the situation is: She chats to some people at the bar until 4am, and afterwards one of them politely (almost sheepishly based on the wording) hits on her. On being turned down he pushes no further.

    That doesn’t seem to obviously constitute harassment. The reasoning she gives that it does, is:
    1. I’m a single women – clearly ruling out single women for straight men to hit on isn’t logical. She’s apparently not against men hitting on women at all, so I don’t understand that point. Hit on married women? Or is it really just an “it’s ok for women not for men” because…men bad?
    2. In a foreign country at 4am – I again don’t think I understand the insinuation. He should have followed her back to where she lives, or asked her half way through the discussion at the bar?
    3. In an elevator – So I think this is the more reasonable point. Though I think it’s only natural that when asking an embarrassing question he might prefer to not ask in front of everyone, and following her back to her room can only be worse.

    And also she says “I don’t like it when men sexualise me like that”. Does it strike no one as strange? She isn’t being sexualised any more than a man being hit on by a women, he just subtly hit on her, where was the sexualisation?

    So basically I just don’t see that the characterisation that she was sexually harassed then attacked by a load of misogynists is accurate.

    I too find the “straight white men can’t understand” type comments unhelpful. I can’t help how I look, and I’ve had struggles in my life, at least one of which made worse because of being a man. But I have my opinions devalued in this way, by people that have never tried being me. It isn’t much consolation to me that Bill Gates shares my superficial attributes.

    Anyway sorry, this was way too long. Please try and see that this as a genuine offering of an opposing view, not a hateful attack.
    (And PZ please don’t delete this, not sure if that’s an unfair preconception I have in my head…but I’d really like to be heard on this)

  42. says

    Guy, if you’re at a conference of professionals discussing strategies completely unrelated to getting into anyone’s pants, you don’t need to try and get in anyone’s pants. In particular, if a woman has just that day given a talk on how annoying it is when men waste her time trying to get into her pants, and has made it crystal clear that she is not there for fun and games, then have a teeny tiny bit of respect and leave her alone.

    Also:
    1. She didn’t accuse the guy of sexual harassment. He was insensitive and stupid. Guys, don’t do that.
    2. How you can claim that was not attacked by a load of misogynists tells me that you are stupid and insensitive. Of course she was. For years and years and years.

  43. threethoughts says

    Ok thanks PZ, that is food for thought. So it’s really her saying “there’s a time and a place, consider the context”. I have other disagreements, but I’ll not try and start some unwanted debate. Though to save face, I do need to reply to your numbered points:

    I will agree that she actually doesn’t accuse the man of harassment, and even clarifies that in her article. I think I just projected that on to her after reading some of the comments here, and my own bias from other videos. So sorry about that.
    I think I spoke imprecisely before. As I said at the start I do think she’s been harassed online by a load of misogynists. But further down I meant framing it as just that, misses genuine criticism.

  44. A. Noyd says

    threethoughts (#44)

    I think I just projected that on to her after reading some of the comments here, and my own bias from other videos.

    If you’re so biased that you get the most basic fact about the whole incident wrong, then why do you think you’re qualified to offer any kind of insight? That should be a sign to you that you’re out of your depth. And while you might not be able to help how you look, you sure as shit can help how you act. Save face by learning to STFU when you don’t know WTF you’re talking about.

  45. voidhawk says

    It frustrates me to no end that people apparently don’t have any empathy. I’ve only been pestered for unwanted sexual advances a couple of times as a straight white man*, and that was annoying as hell, I can’t fathom how women deal with this every time they go to a conference or go to work.

    *One was a woman I didn’t find attractive whose drunken strategy was to stand on a chair and try to rub her genitals on my head one was a friend of a friend who, despite being told repeatedly that I was straight kept on hitting on me. I ended up having him dumped on my couch, to say I was annoyed with the friend was an understatement.

  46. threethoughts says

    I don’t know how to reply to people. But:

    A. Nord – I feel like you’re trying to get under my skin really, I’m not sure to what end. I’m sorry if my take on things has offended you. But to the substance of your point, I think it is pretty human to make mistakes toward your own bias, and given that many of the commenters here imply she accused him of harassment, and her followup video title mentions it. There’s no need to shame me for admitting my mistake, I don’t think I set myself up as infallible mega-genius.
    Also I’m not claiming to have any authority on the subject, and had I STFU, then I wouldn’t have learnt my mistake.

    voidhawk – Really I think you may be making my mistake of projecting your bias. To be clear again that I do empathise with Rebecca. And whilst I don’t think I’ve ever made or received any sexual advances outside of a relationship, I can see that being really wearing.
    But it also is true that RW can’t speak for all women, given it’s presumably true that some women would be receptive in the situation described. It’s hard to be sure until you have asked so it relies on people being experts of body language and context, that’s always the point in questions asking a question.

    I have to say that I always find it surprising that people tend to be a bit hostile in these situations, given I’m really in a vulnerable position of “this is my opinion I know isn’t shared here, help me understand our differences”.
    I suspect people get used to taking sides and using rhetoric, I’m really not interested in scoring points and proving I’m smarter. If people don’t accept that they can learn things from me, as I can from them, then they need to reevaluate.

  47. says

    @47

    it’s presumably true that some women would be receptive in the situation described.

    What.

    it’s presumably true that some women would be receptive [to sexual advances when trapped on an elevator with a stranger at 4 AM after giving a talk on not wanting sexual advances].

    Citation GODDAMN needed.

  48. A. Noyd says

    threethoughts (#47)

    There’s no need to shame me for admitting my mistake

    I didn’t do that. I asked you why you assumed you had any business continuing to offer your perspective after you’ve been alerted to your bias. A reasonable person would be worried that his entire position was compromised and seek to fix that first. Learning your mistakes does fuck all if you refuse to learn from your mistakes.

    Moreover, no one expects you to be infallible. But there’s a vast, vast expanse between being completely fucking ignorant, like you, and perfect knowledge.

    I always find it surprising that people tend to be a bit hostile in these situations, given I’m really in a vulnerable position […]

    You’re not in a vulnerable position, you oblivious ass. You’re aggressively inserting your ill-informed opinion where it’s not welcome. And it’s not welcome in part because it’s so ill-informed. (And in part because we’ve already heard it a thousand times.)

  49. threethoughts says

    I’m going to assume A. Noyd is trolling me really, every sentence is so irritating and wrong, that I really can’t find words concise enough to reply. In fact I just noticed his name is annoyed…
    If anyone really thinks I’m being aggressive, then I’m completely stunned.

    abbeycadabra – I guess that’s a fair point to clarify. I think “trapped in a elevator” is a little melodramatic, lifts do tend to ‘trap’ you until the doors open after a few seconds. But yes, I think it’s absolutely fair to say that not all women agree with RW on this, it would be an astonishing feat of statistics. Given I assume the point is meant to be taken a bit less literally than “a woman that’s given this exact talk in this exact location”, I think we can know that many women have consensual leading from late night bars and at conferences. I don’t know if you want a non-100% poll or something, I’ll ask my girlfriend if you really want…

    and BTW, to be a little fair to me. I think my idea that she thought it was harassment may have come from
    “a strange dude asking me to his hotel room at 4am after I’d spent an entire day talking about the problem of sexual harassment.”
    So if she doesn’t think it’s harassment, then a talk on sexual harassment isn’t obviously relevant.

  50. A. Noyd says

    threethoughts (#50)

    I’m going to assume A. Noyd is trolling me really

    How convenient for you.

    If anyone really thinks I’m being aggressive, then I’m completely stunned.

    This is basically the entire issue in a nutshell—assholes being shocked to discover that others judge them by their behavior rather than their intent.

    So if she doesn’t think it’s harassment, then a talk on sexual harassment isn’t obviously relevant.

    Oh, look. You found a way to harness your own ignorance to convince yourself you’re still somehow right.

  51. threethoughts says

    :/ Really genuinely surprised here, I think I’m reading too much into the domain name maybe.
    I could overlook people being unpleasant if there was some substance or attempts to relate to my position. Obviously you guys have everything figured out; I hope that makes you happy and I won’t waste any more of your time.

    I can see now that only an asshole would come and try and understand your perspective, and only an moron would admit any mistakes or weakness.

  52. says

    @54 threethoughts

    (probably an accurate description of mental capacity there)

    I think I’m reading too much into the domain name

    “I thought this was free thought blogs!” DRINK!

    lifts do tend to ‘trap’ you until the doors open after a few seconds…. I think we can know that many women have consensual leading from late night bars and at conferences.

    This is a magnificent example of privilege-blinded obliviousness. Elevators ARE traps. They are a small enclosed metal box where you are forced to be with a stranger, and if you are not a great deal bigger than them, there is a risk of assault, a risk of attack, a risk of pushing the stop button and trapping you there longer. Only a deliberately obtuse man would refuse to see that these are real dangers that women face every day and try to prove his ludicrous point by hypothesizing the existence of ‘one out of 4 billion’ who WOULD be receptive to this insanity.

    I don’t know if you want a non-100% poll or something, I’ll ask my girlfriend if you really want

    Please do, and while you’re at it, ask her what tragic confluence of self-worth destroying events induced her to stoop to hooking up with someone so steeped in patronizing disrespect for her whole demographic.

    Assuming, of course, that pillows can talk.

  53. Tethys says

    I expect that threethoughts has actually flounced off, as stated, but just in case:

    Some substance? SOME!?? Nevermind the OP, the very easily understood video, the last (checks calendar) 8 years of harassment, and dealing every single day with misogynists who can’t be bothered to know anything but entitlement. Google awaits your questions, and won’t get upset when you ask stupidly.

    Try “dear muslima” as the search term. We are weary veterans of this battle, especially of people who show up “just asking questions” about why you don’t act like a sexual predator, think male sexual desires are top priority at all times and situations (as if that’s a normal thing), or show up here demanding to be spoonfed by the mean, unpleasant lesser beings that hang out here.

  54. vucodlak says

    @ threethoughts #54

    Oh get off your fucking cross. Have you made even a single attempt to relate to Rebecca Watson’s point of view, or to that of any person who might get nervous stuck in an elevator with some creep? No. Merely saying at one point “I do empathize with Rebecca” isn’t particularly convincing when your every statement about the incident in question makes it clear that you don’t.

    Here’s a hint: when someone says ‘this thing made me uncomfortable,’ and your reply can best be summed up as ‘that’s no big deal, what’s your problem?’ you are not displaying empathy. When you then double down and insist your interpretation is totally the more defensible, you are not displaying empathy.

    Empathy requires that you understand another person’s point of view. Dismissing and minimizing their legitimate concerns is not empathy.

  55. threethoughts says

    Ok, I’ll just acknowledge the previous 2 comments, because I appreciate you 2 actually are being substantive (yes unpleasant people still, but I think the opportunity for us to be friends has probably sailed anyway haha) and it has cheered me up, so genuinely thank you. Then I swear I’ll never post again (unless maybe if someone asks me to comment on something, I’ll not hold my breath though).

    I think you two would find it hard not to acknowledge that you’re extrapolating somewhat beyond what I’ve said here, onto my whole world view. Presumably based on what others have said. Not convinced you’d get the same impression of me if you knew me, but I guess we’ll never no.

    I’ll respond to the points quick (you’re bound to be annoyed by the paraphrasing, but I don’t know how to quote so..):

    abbeycadabra:
    1. You think I’m an asshole – Yes I think we’ve covered that
    2. Elevators are dangerous for women – You literally cut out of my quote where I explain I’m not talking about elevators, when I say some women would be receptive. My claims are not all women agree with RW, and some women have consensual after conferences and bars yes.
    3. Women face danger every day – I’ve never said there are no dangers to women, what an absurd thing to say?? Obviously there are dangers to men and women, i’m not a large man, I do have to worry about men and women attacking me potentially. I think you’re just a sexist after that paragraph, I’m sorry.
    4. Ask your girlfriend why she dates an asshole – ok I’ll show her your post, you’ll never know what she says now I guess. Probably that I’m spending too much time on extreme parts of the internet…
    5. Assholes like you can’t have GF’s, it’s your pillow – AmazingAtheist has a GF….consider yourself debunked.

    Tethys:
    1. You think I’m an asshole – join the club I guess..
    2. You’ve had other people with different views and you didn’t like them either, and you’re smarter than me – ok, you showed us, well done.
    3. Look at the battles of old to see why we’re bored of it – ok I am vaguely aware of the past controversies, I just naturally like to look at a situation with somewhat of an open mind. People had told me that FTB was hostile to different views, and I assumed it was just a load of anti-feminist misogynists saying that. Now I know better.

    I hope you guys can tear your walls down one day, I really do. You need to know this is not normal as compared to other places where people don’t agree with me.

    p.s. abbey, I did try and avoid the whole “you call this free thought blah blah” as long as I could, since I knew you’d find it cliche :p. Not sure the fact that that is a well known cliche rings any alarm bells for…oh forget it…peace.

  56. says

    You need to know this is not normal as compared to other places where people don’t agree with me.

    Poor muffin, were we not quite gentle enough on your bruised manly entitlement feelings? Get fucked, we’ve already heard enough for three lifetimes from jaqoffs who imagine not having every opportunity to try to get your dick wet coddled as ‘normal’ and ‘reasonable’ is somehow the collapse of civilization.l

  57. threethoughts says

    Ok, sorry but I didn’t see vucodlak’s post and it’s amazing…makes 2 points

    Stop whining about being made uncomfortable and about people being dismissive and people not trying to understand your perspective.
    The most important things are to listen to people that say they’ve been made uncomfortable, don’t be dismissive, and understand their perspective.

    No one here is going to admit the funny hypocrisy. But I’ll show people irl I guess.
    Just fantastic!,

  58. says

    No hypocrisy. We understand your perspective just fine. It’s the perspective called “oblivious entitled whining”, in which everyone has to hold your hand and guide you to reality and never ever mention the many times you and your fellow dudebros are making dicks of themselves.

    Also I see you didn’t make good on talking to your claimed girlfriend. Quotes or GTFO.

  59. Tethys says

    I am completely shocked that threethoughts has not flounced, but has reasserted that we are terrible, mean, unfair, etc…and we hate them for just asking such reasonable questions/opinions as:

    Can’t we critique the original incident so that threethoughts can give their very important opinion? ( Answer…no, zero interest in critiquing 8 year old incidents with an obvious sealion, or explaining how not to be creepy to said sealion)
    Some hypothetical woman, somewhere, might have sex with dumb elevator creep dudes, so therefore it’s totally important that we privilege the supremacy of hypothetical sex of any rando dude possible, over the CLEARLY stated wishes of the actual women involved, and by extension all women.
    Some people like to have sex at professional conferences, therefore women must always be open to mens sexual advances no matter how creepy or disrespectful they might be.

    Bog-standard misogyny, meh, it was stale and tedious 48 years ago.

  60. says

    @threethoughts and, just generally, everyone:

    That doesn’t seem to obviously constitute harassment. The reasoning she gives that it does, is:
    1. I’m a single women – clearly ruling out single women for straight men to hit on isn’t logical. She’s apparently not against men hitting on women at all, so I don’t understand that point. Hit on married women? Or is it really just an “it’s ok for women not for men” because…men bad?
    2. In a foreign country at 4am – I again don’t think I understand the insinuation. He should have followed her back to where she lives, or asked her half way through the discussion at the bar?
    3. In an elevator – So I think this is the more reasonable point. Though I think it’s only natural that when asking an embarrassing question he might prefer to not ask in front of everyone, and following her back to her room can only be worse.

    I’m going to make a couple points about what was included in your list in a moment, three thoughts, but first it’s necessary to remind people of two things that are NOT on your list:

    Watson
    1) was invited specifically to speak about how to make women comfortable at atheist/skeptic conferences,

    and,
    2) used her keynote/plenary comments to say, in part, that she didn’t want to be hit on and that she was not there to be hit on and if you wanted her to feel comfortable at these events and encouraged to come back, you would respect her wishes and NOT hit on her,

    and, finally,
    3) reinforced the message that she didn’t want anyone to hit on her by repeating it multiple times during the bar conversation where ElevatorGuy was present to hear that message stressed by emphasis and repetition.

    So you list some of the aggravating factors, but you completely skip what makes the behavior wrong in the first place: Watson said, “Do not hit on me. You do not have my consent to proposition me while here at this conference.” Then elevatorguy comes along and says, “I am propositioning you!”

    It doesn’t fucking matter if he said it softly or boldly, warmly or coldly. She said, “please, no one hit on me,” and ElevatorGuy was enough of an entitled jerkface that he thought that the rules she’d given to the ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD magically didn’t apply to him in particular.

    “Oh, sure,” his line of thought approximately went, “That splendidly attractive Rebecca creature has very clearly said repeatedly that she didn’t want to be hit on. But she hasn’t been hit on by me. I’m so special, that clearly being hit on by me is completely different from just being hit on.”

    If a woman says, “I’m not going to have sex with you tonight. No. This is my answer: no. No matter how many times you ask, I say No,” it doesn’t matter if you slip your fingers under her dress slowly and slyly, with a charmingly sheepish grin on your face. You’re committing sexual assault.

    ElevatorGuy didn’t do that. What he did isn’t sexual assault. But what he did shows the exact same willingness to ignore women’s right to consent or deny consent.

    Once he’s proven himself willing to ignore Watson’s “No” at least once, it becomes very reasonable to fear that he’s going to ignore her “No” again. He didn’t ignore her no twice, but he sure as fuck did once when he chose to hit on her. That situation is scary for women. You’ve got a guy who has already proved he’s not willing to take no for an answer once. How do you know for sure he isn’t plotting to get around your second no?

    And when you’re alone, in a foreign country where you don’t even know the number for emergency services (it’s 911 in the US, but not in the UK where it’s 999 and not in Ireland, either), and the elevator doors have closed so that it’s at least possible that someone determined to commit physical assault could effectively bar you from help, a woman’s level of fear very reasonably rises.

    You can’t understand any of this until you admit that Watson had, earlier in the day in her public presentation, later in the evening during the bar conversation, and any number of other times in any number of other situations where we don’t know if ElevatorGuy was present, WATSON HAD ALREADY SAID NO.

    Your list of why ElevatorGuy was in the wrong doesn’t have this fact anywhere on it. This should be the first and most important fact of all.

    As for everyone else, I appreciate your defenses of how three thoughts is failing to grasp things like how being enclosed in an elevator heightens risk and men should be aware of this, we really can’t talk about this without telling all the three thoughts of the world that SHE SAID NO long before EG followed her to the elevator.

    I beg all of us to remember, and all of us to make sure our first responses to the three thoughts of the future always include, “She said no to anyone hitting on her before he chose to violate that no and hit on her anyway.”

    She. Said. No.

    There’s a story about Rabbi Hillel HaGadol, who was asked by a potential convert to explain the whole Torah while standing on one foot, insisting that he wouldn’t finally convert until someone could boil it down enough to do that. Hillel raised his foot and said: “That which is hateful when done to you, do not do to others. The rest is commentary.” Then he lowered his foot and added, “Now go and study.”

    No one wants another to disregard their own consent – or denial of same (that is, after all the very root concept of consent – whether you want it), therefore do not disregard the consent of others.

    She said no to the possibility of being asked. He asked anyway.
    No one is dismissing the importance of the rest, but the rest is still only the commentary.

    Now, threethoughts, go study.

    While you’re doing that study, consider how fucked up your three points are:

    1. I’m a single women – clearly ruling out single women for straight men to hit on isn’t logical. She’s apparently not against men hitting on women at all, so I don’t understand that point. Hit on married women? Or is it really just an “it’s ok for women not for men” because…men bad?

    1. I’m a single women

    We’re not comb jellies. We’re not any kind of colonial entity. Watson is a single woman.

    clearly ruling out single women for straight men to hit on isn’t logical.

    Which is why she didn’t do it. She emphasized that she was alone, without backup. She wasn’t emphasizing that she was unmarried. Think it through, if your interpretation is completely fucking stupid, maybe, just maybe, that isn’t what she was saying???

    Try that. Epistemic humility can work wonders for you.

    Or is it really just an “it’s ok for women not for men” because…men bad?

    No, it’s not okay because she said, “Please don’t hit on me,” before ElevatorGuy hit on her. And he couldn’t have missed her message, because it was an elaboration of the core topic she was invited to the conference to discuss. He also couldn’t have missed it because he was at the plenary session and he was at the bar discussion and she made her denial of consent plain in both places.

    It’s more frightening when you’re alone to have someone override your consent, than to have your consent overridden in a context where you have friends or family or other backup. But it’s the overriding of the consent that’s wrong. Not the mere act of hitting on someone, which would have been fine if she hadn’t already asked everyone at the conference not to hit on her. It’s not the presence of a penis, which would have resulted in her objecting to the presence of every single cis dude at the conference.

    She didn’t object to the presence of every single cis dude (and MtF trans person). She objected to a specific behavior. OBVIOUSLY to anyone with a brain, the behavior is the problem, not the penis. Don’t make this about Watson’s sexism. That’s a bullshit copout and you should know better.

    2. In a foreign country at 4am – I again don’t think I understand the insinuation. He should have followed her back to where she lives, or asked her half way through the discussion at the bar?

    2. In a foreign country at 4am – I again don’t think I understand the insinuation. He should have followed her back to where she lives, or asked her half way through the discussion at the bar?

    2. In a foreign country at 4am

    This, again, is about escalating the fear. It’s wrong because he disregarded her clear statement that she didn’t want anyone to hit on her. It’s more scary because it’s in a foreign country at 4am – where she has fewer ideas of where to seek help and fewer people will be awake to provide it.

    He should have followed her back to where she lives, or asked her half way through the discussion at the bar?

    No. He should not have followed her back to where she lives: he had no business where she lived. He should not have asked half way through the discussion at the bar, because by the time the bar discussion had happened she had already stated clearly that she did not consent to anyone hitting on her.

    Hitting on her as soon as she arrived at the conference might have been unwelcome, but it wouldn’t have raised the same concerns as hitting on her after she specifically asks not to be hit on. Once she’s done that, you don’t fucking hit on her at all. It’s not about waiting until she’s had a drink and a chance to relax. It’s not about in the elevator or not. it’s not about Paris or Dublin or Montreal or Mexico City.

    It’s about she said, “Don’t fucking hit on me,” and then he went ahead and hit on her. Since she said, “DOn’t hit on me at this conference, he certainly could ALSO have hit on her if they ended up at some other event together, but following her 5000 miles home would have been creepy as fuck and wrong in its own way, and asking if they saw each other at the next event would have been consistent with the specifics of what she said, “Don’t hit on me at this conference,” but ignoring the larger message which she also gave, that she gets hit on too much at conferences and public events and that she would like people to respect that she comes to those events for the intellectual aspects, not the prospect of getting laid.

    3. In an elevator – So I think this is the more reasonable point. Though I think it’s only natural that when asking an embarrassing question he might prefer to not ask in front of everyone, and following her back to her room can only be worse.

    Asking her in the elevator is still asking her at all. When he’s deliberately overriding her consent, from her point of view she’s not thinking about how shy he is. She’s thinking that since he’s already proven he’s willing to ignore her clearly stated no, the fact that he’s followed her into a place where they are cut off from others might possibly have been a deliberate plan to cut her off from support.

    It wasn’t. He wasn’t a rapist. He didn’t try to rape her. But she didn’t know he wasn’t going to try to rape her, she only knew that he was deliberately ignoring her repeated request that guys not hit on her. The context of the elevator is about understanding her psychological reaction after someone has proven they are willing to ignore her boundaries. The elevator on its own doesn’t make it right or wrong.

    All in all, your bullshit about, “Some other woman might have said yes,” is purposefully deflecting well-deserved blame. This wasn’t a situation in which ElevatorGuy could not have know what she would say because it’s a well known fact that some women have conference sex. Watson had been crystal clear. Unlike most women, she’d had a chance to be crystal clear to the entire conference because she talked about it during a plenary session.

    “Some other woman might have said yes,” changes things not at all. The fact that you think it’s remotely relevant tells me – yet again – that you missed the central message of her statement.

    When a woman tells you she doesn’t want to be hit on. Don’t hit on her.

    Jesus fucking toast, it’s not rocket science. Even someone with only three thoughts to their name should be able to understand.

  61. A. Noyd says

    This is Jane. Other people throw wasps nests at her when she’s minding her own business. She’s always in pain from the stings.

    That’s John. He goes around smacking wasps nests with a stick. He’s always in pain from the stings.

    We must offer equal sympathy to both Jane and John or we’re shameful, shameful hypocrites.

  62. threethoughts says

    Crip Dyke – Ah! Thank you so much. You didn’t even need to be so thorough haha, since the only point to everything I said, is the fact that the man knew she didn’t want to be hit on. He’s basically already asking her a second time.
    Other factors escalate the situation, in light of that fact, hence he’s in the wrong.

    If you think that he wouldn’t be in the wrong without that fact though, I’m not sure most people agree here?
    Nevertheless I 99% agree with Crip, only have minor quibbles on how I’m represented, that I won’t bother with.

    Only thing I will say though: I don’t understand why Watson doesn’t lead with and clarify the point that the guy knew she didn’t want to be hit on, in the original video. Once that’s said, there is no context where it’s acceptable, why go on about “it was late” etc? She only mentions there like “I’d done a talk on how I didn’t like to be sexualised by guys”, and doesn’t mention that she’d clarified it in the bar.

    Anyway this has ended up worth all the vitriol, because of Crip Dyke. She probably thinks I’m an idiot asshole too, but see how she can still discuss properly and intelligently?

    For everyone else, A. Noyd is still an ass. And I know you all think badly of me for only just realising the above, don’t bother with it. Does it matter if I’m an idiot or not, just move on.

  63. says

    Once that’s said, there is no context where it’s acceptable, why go on about “it was late” etc? She only mentions there like “I’d done a talk on how I didn’t like to be sexualised by guys”, and doesn’t mention that she’d clarified it in the bar.

    Why go on? Because even if hitting on a woman – or anyone, but women are relevant here for reasons I’ll get to in a moment – at 4am in an elevator isn’t morally wrong, it can still be creepy and anxiety provoking.

    And here is the thing that’s going to shatter your brain: Watson had been asked, repeatedly, by men, to help them increase women’s attendance at atheist and skeptical conferences by making those conferences more comfortable to women. Watson had literally been paid cash money to tell men how to make women more comfortable at these conferences. A woman being uncomfortable being propositioned in an elevator at 4am is not some weird, unexpected outcome that no reasonable person could predict. While ElevatorGuy was fucking wrong to ignore her boundaries, if men in atheist and skeptic communities were honest in their desire to make their conferences more welcoming to women then giving them some basic guidelines about what guys ought not to do is exactly what guys should expect from their paid consultants. Watson articulated that even if a woman hadn’t previously said no, if you want women to feel their most comfortable, if you want women to actually pay to come to your events, then you should think about when and where they would feel most vulnerable and choose not to make your sexualized propositions when women are in those most vulnerable situations.

    “Guys, don’t do that,” is not only reasonable advice for anyone who has basic empathy, it’s targeted advice that Watson had been paid to give. It’s not a moral law. It’s just good advice on how to be a decent, thoughtful person.

    And all of THAT goes to just how horrific the ongoing abuse of Watson truly is. She voluntarily made that video. That original video was not something she was contractually obligated to make. However, it was following up on a speaking engagement where she was paid to give advice on how to help conferences increase women’s attendance by making women more comfortable.

    Men were asking her what to do. They were so concerned they were paying her money to get her thoughts on what they should do. So even after she had finished her contract, she took her private experience and offered it up, saying, If you want more women to come to your conferences, this is something you shouldn’t do.

    And how did the men who wanted more women to come to their conferences react when women gave them information about how changing their conferences so that more women might come could maybe possibly involve actually changing their own behavior just a tiny bit?

    Yeah. Exactly. These eight years of harassment have been in response to Watson doing exactly what men said that they wanted Watson to do.

    This contributes to a climate where men can say, “Please be honest. I want to be better. Tell me what I can do to be a better person,” and the woman asked ends up afraid to tell the truth. Because men’s behavior tells us that giving an honest answer to the questions men are asking us has the chance of ending rewarding our answers with 8 years of death threats.

    So, again,

    “why [did Watson] go on about ‘it was late'”?

    Because she was asked. Because she cared about her community. Because she thought she could help. Because she felt like she’d belatedly found the perfect example only hours after finishing her paid speech, one in which she would have included that example if she could.

    But most of all, she went on because she was asked.

    I don’t give a fuck about whether or not you’re ignorant of basic facts like this. What I give a fuck about is that throughout your comments here you start from the point of view that Watson must have done something wrong – criticizing elevator guy to begin with, not understanding the state of being unmarried, thinking “men are bad” and therefore can never hit on a woman at all. Your analysis has consistently been hostile to Watson, suggesting through your questions’ framing that there is no reasonable basis for her statements or concerns.

    You’re eight years late and assuming that you’ve got enough information to infer that Watson must have been fucking up something. But the idea that in any bilateral conflict there must be fault on both sides is not fucking true. Watson, as far as I can tell, did literally everything right at the conference and in her video. And in response, she’s gotten death threats and the women of this Pharyngula/FtB community have gotten an as-yet endless stream of people showing up here to tell us how desperately wrong Watson was without even knowing the basic facts. Apparently you even watched the video but it never occurred to you that giving a lecture about not wanting to be hit on was relevant to how fucked up it was that someone then hit on you.

    You even, and I can’t stress this enough, went on to imply that the most reasonable interpretation of Watson’s comments was that she was (and is) a man hater, rather than an ethical person who wanted to help her community accomplish the goals that her community prized so highly that they literally gave her money to help achieve them.

    Calling Watson a man hater, even through circumlocution, is a bullshit, aggressive move. Depending on your system of ethics it might not be morally prohibited, but if what you really always wanted is reasonable, informative conversation, then I can confidently say about calling women man haters,

    threethoughts, don’t do that.

    The only question that remains is how many months of death threats I can now expect for helping you achieve your noble goal.

    I fucking wonder why women are so emotional about this?

    For everyone else, A. Noyd is still an ass.

    Good move here at the end. If you’re the one that clearly only wanted reasonable conversation, following up, “Rebecca’s a man hater,” with “A. Noyd is an ass,” is definitely going to win you points.

    And I know you all think badly of me for only just realising the above, don’t bother with it.

    No, we don’t think badly of you for just realizing the above. There are literally 7 billion people in the world who don’t know anything about ElevatorGate. They’ve never heard of it. It plays no role in their lives whatsoever. That doesn’t make them better or worse as people. It means their lives have simply not overlapped with ElevatorGate. Then there exists some smaller, but still large number of people who have heard of ElevatorGate but never found it important enough to their lives to investigate. We respect their priorities and don’t judge them at all for having made that choice about one single issue in this world full of issues.

    We think badly of you for coming in here thinking you have something to contribute that will be new and informative to us even after eight fucking years of dealing with sea lions and their questions about the sheer cruelty of offering up, “Guys, don’t do that.”

    We think badly of you for asking us to do the work of providing personalized education for you, when you could easily do your own reading without creating work for anyone else.

    We think badly of you for watching the video and carefully listing all the things that might have made Watson feel that ElevatorGuy was in the wrong and including, “Maybe she was a man hater?” while omitting, “Gosh, she’d already said don’t fucking hit on me, I’m not here to be hit on.

    We think badly of you because you’ve spent far more words in this thread questioning the actions of Watson than questioning the actions of the people who have spent literally eight years campaigning to make her life miserable for the sin of offering up honest advice on how men can get more of what men say they want, but where following that advice has an infinitesimal chance of causing one guy somewhere having a good time at a conference without getting his dick sucked when he could have had a good time at the conference and gotten his dick sucked.

    We think badly of you because you have the arrogance to think that we deserve a lecture for not jumping to answer the same question for the seven thousandth time because you, personally, weren’t among the first 6,999 askers.

    We think badly of you because you think you can split us into the good Crip Dykes who answered your question and the bad A Noyds who didn’t. I, personally, think badly of you because I am not the good one here, and I don’t want to be roped into your bullshit manipulations as the example of what the women here really ought to have done.

    We think badly of you because,

    She probably thinks I’m an idiot asshole too, but see how she can still discuss properly and intelligently?

    presumes that the other people responding to you weren’t responding “properly and intelligently” to an idiot asshole who finds it amusing to imply that Watson is a man hater.

    But of course, this entire comment isn’t really “proper” is it? Because in your ever so humble opinion, one which entirely justifies giving advice to other people as if that’s a normal thing that should not be greeted with eight fucking years of death threats, it doesn’t

    matter if I’m an idiot or not, just move on.

    Except, Watson can’t move on until the harassment, the rape threats, the death threats stop and the men (and, probably a few women because the world is that fucked up) who engaged in that behavior apologize and take actions sufficient for Watson, after all these years of harassment, to trust that they’ve truly changed.

    Here at FtB, we can’t move on until all the special snowflakes who think that their personal ignorance requires the time and attention of anyone or anything more than a Google server finally stop showing up asking their oh-so-important questions with the air of someone absolutely confident that those questions have never, ever before been answered because over at FtB they couldn’t possibly have addressed men doing ThoughtfulSkepticism™ of Watson’s behavior before.

    As of now, because this behavior continues, we will not move on. We cannot move on. We will memorialize your arrogance and bad faith in this thread for years to come. If you wish us to move on, then obviously the thing for you to do is to actually learn something from this. Learn that your questions aren’t unique questions. Learn that others’ time isn’t your time. Learn to use Google. Learn to respect that the communities that care about what Watson has gone through and is going through have actually taken the time to learn something about Watson and her experiences. Learn to listen when a woman is speaking – in a video or otherwise – for those moments when she says, “I do not consent. I am not here to have sex with you,” and treat them as meaningful and important.

    Then go and create your very own website for educating all the very special broflakes who have serious questions about exactly how much Watson is to blame for the years she’s spent receiving threats and harassment. Collect everything you can about how after years and years no one has a new question, no one casually reading about this after the fact has any brilliant insights that weren’t investigated and addressed along ago. Gather all the knowledge. Index it. Write about how the anger at the misogynistic response to Watson’s reasonable and reasoned critique is entirely well justified. Write code to redirect dipshits who think they have deep thoughts about how Watson might just be a man hater so that they end up reading the information on your site instead of dropping excrement here. Then maybe make a general statement about generally respecting consent and how, if men want women to be more comfortable than Watson has been this decade, that perhaps their watchword after absorbing the history of ElevatorGate should become, “Guys, don’t do that.”

    THEN we will be able to move on. But apparently without that, we’ll still get people just like you. We’ll still have to make the same points. And we’ll still have people like you calling any A Noyd among us “an ass” for not smiling more, making an effort to pretty up our language, or adding a little more foundation to our comments.

    So until then, We. Ain’t. Moving. Shit.

  64. threethoughts says

    Phew, that was a rough read Crip haha. But I do believe the personal critique is good for me.
    I think some of the critiques could be applied to yourself, but I do suspect you don’t hold me in high enough regard to take them on board from me.

    Most of what you said is fair enough, but to the other bits:

    -Im not sure what you mean I called rw a man hater. You mean in my first post about single women? If so I didn’t really mean that. I thought it an option that she has internalised common ideas about men all being sex pests yes.

    -“just move on” – think youve got me wrong here…I meant move on from calling me an idiot. Optimistic of me perhaps but you seem to think I meant move on from defending Rebecca. Completely not what I meant.

    -“using you and noyd as what the women should have done” – I think you’re implying a sexist angle here, I don’t know noyd’s gender..Noyd is an ass for trolling me yes. Not smiling more..give me a break

    -had to Google (inb4 new skill there) sea lion..genuinely devistated people think that’s what I’m doing, I don’t understand the point of that.
    I was reading and I got frustrated at the logic and the echos and commented..that’s it. People can ignore me easily enough.

    -people think I have a motive to get more sex here I think. As I said, I’ve never hit on anyone, never had sex outside of long term relationships, don’t intend to.

    statements like “men’s behaviour”. Perhaps you just missed “some”? But otherwise this is illogical and man hating. I didn’t want to induce more backlash, but that’s unacceptable to me.
    I watched the original elavatorgate video, true. It doesn’t say she had said she didn’t want to be hit on, as I said. Hence it is a bit weird she ephasises the less purtentent points.
    “code a redirect” – how did you know I’m a developer lol..is white male coder just the cliche.

    I’ll try and remember to correct people on YouTube that don’t know the RW context, think I can bear getting called an SJW occasionally ;)

    Whoever asked me to share the gfs opinion, we don’t live together so couldn’t easily before. But I’m with her for the weeked now and…. she didn’t seem to care much either way really -_- anticlimax. She wanted me to shut up so we could sleep I think.
    If she gives an interesting comment I might share.

    Should we stop? I want to, but it’s very hard not to respond when I’m insulted etc.

    Possibly will do the same as this on some more anti-sjw place next if I can stand some more verbal abuse. Balance me out, or atleast you can be happy at me using there time.

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