Rebecca Watson - Skepticism and Feminism

July 18, 2011

Host: Chris Mooney

Our guest this week is Rebecca Watson, the founder of the Skepchick blog. Recently, she's been at the center of an explosive controversy over the relationship between feminism and the skeptic/atheist movement.

It all started when Watson made a relatively casual remark in a video to her followers. She was discussing her travels and a talk she'd given in Ireland about sexism in the atheist/skeptic community. Overall, Watson said, the response to her remarks had been great—but then she added something else. After the talk, she said, she'd received an advance from a man in an elevator—a man who apparently didn't get the message.

"Guys, don't do that," said Watson. "I was a single woman in a foreign country at 4 am in a hotel elevator with you. Just you. Don't invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner."

In one way or another—and with many other debate participants involved-this story led to thousands upon thousands of blog comments, and an outpouring of support-and criticism. So Point of Inquiry asked Watson to address the controversy, and to talk more generally about atheism and feminism.

Rebecca Watson is the founder of the Skepchick blog, a co-host of the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast, and a prominent speaker and commenter on skepticism, feminism, freethought, and the religious right.

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

skepchick.org

Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

Rebecca is seriously confused as to what feminism is all about. She seems to believe the feminist movement is all about stopping flirtation. Her bit was all about women being hit on and not liking it… Heaven forbid!

Wikipedia: “Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.”

Women have the right to hit on men, equality would be men having the right to hit on women… You do not have a right to not be hit on, no one does. You have a right to not be touched or sexually harassed. However, everyone (Male or Female) has the right to flirt with other people. You need to toughen up, you are going to get hit on, take it as a compliment and get over it… Fight for important issues like wage equality, reproductive rights and other important issues.

(For the record, I’m gay - so I know exactly what getting hit on by men in awkward situations feels like… Think an elevator is awkward? Try a urinal.)

It also needs to be noted that the fact that the sceptic society is populated by mostly males does not make it automatically sexist. If it was no one would be paying any attention to Watson. Lots of industries and communities have more men than women or more women than men… Doesn’t mean it’s a de facto sexist community.

Rebecca also seems to have a serious issue with men in general, she recently tweeted “Misogyny: the assumption that a woman gets upgraded for her tits, not for total miles flown. How did the self check-in even SEE them?”

Misogyny is a hatred or dislike of women… Such an assumption shows no hatred or dislike… A sexist comment; maybe, misogynistic? No. If a man got a promotion and a woman said “he only got the promotion because he’s a man” no one would accuse that woman of misandry in fact most feminists would probably support such an assumption.

As a sceptic, I am sceptical of the feminist use of the word “equality” because they seem far more focused on replacing a male dominated society with a female dominated society or at the very least on giving rights and protections to women that do not exist for men. Perfect example: Spain’s recent requirement that 40% of boardroom members be female… A 100% female board is perfectly acceptable because there is is no equal requirement that 40% be male.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 1:26pm by omniomi Comment #1

This is a shame.  I feel badly that this happened.  I am a man and I apologize for these things (if that’s possible).  I must admit that I have found it a very attractive thing when a woman is a skeptic but these sorts of behaviors should not have happened.  It also surprises me in the extreme that Dawkins handled it in the manner that he did.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 2:23pm by drstrangelove Comment #2

I thought that Rebecca did, as usual, a good job of explaining what the problem in the skeptics/atheist community is.  Unfortunately, her argument needs little more proof than many of the responses it elicits.  Frankly, many of the members of this community would not survive basic HR training in the average corporation or institution.  (Don’t take that too literally ... they would survive it in that they would still be alive after it. That was a metaphor.)

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 2:57pm by greg_laden Comment #3

Personally i wouldn’t proposition Rebecca in an elevator in that situation, as yes it would obviously be perceived as awkward, or in ill taste. But to flat out say that people without this kind of common sense are ‘wrong’ or shouldn’t be allowed to act in a certain way is blatantly bigoted. Who is to say the majority ‘mode’ of flirtation, or Rebecca’s personal preference is the best one for all people on earth. This guy’s only game plan may be forward unrestrained communication. Sure it does not work on her, or most women probably, but that is his way of putting himself out there. Rebecca you need to re-assess what is right and wrong in the world and separate objectivity from subjectivity on such matters. ‘awkwardness’ is not a universal language i am afraid.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 3:02pm by craggles Comment #4

...you need to re-assess what is right and wrong in the world and separate objectivity from subjectivity on such matters. ‘awkwardness’ is not a universal language i am afraid.

here’s how objectivity vs. subjectivity works in much of the skeptical community:  If you agree with me, we are both being objective.  If you disagree with me, you are being subjective and I am being objective.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 3:09pm by greg_laden Comment #5

...you need to re-assess what is right and wrong in the world and separate objectivity from subjectivity on such matters. ‘awkwardness’ is not a universal language i am afraid.

here’s how objectivity vs. subjectivity works in much of the skeptical community:  If you agree with me, we are both being objective.  If you disagree with me, you are being subjective and I am being objective.

When it comes to preferred mode of flirtation, how can one claim to have some kind of objective position as though culture has had no influence. We can all agree physical harm is a total no go area as its very easy to define black and white rules on such matters. But to try and turn this massive grey area of ‘what one considers awkward’ into a black & white rule set reeks of nothing but subjectively. Rebecca seems as misguided as most feminists I have met.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 3:15pm by craggles Comment #6

You do not have a right to not be hit on, no one does. You have a right to not be touched or sexually harassed. However, everyone (Male or Female) has the right to flirt with other people. You need to toughen up, you are going to get hit on, take it as a compliment and get over it… Fight for important issues like wage equality, reproductive rights and other important issues.

Since when does anyone have a right to harass someone else and invade that person’s space without consent?

Actual right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution: privacy

Not actual rights guaranteed by any constitution or charter in any country: flirting, harassment, sexual harassment

Your rights stop where another person’s rights start, and it’s beyond time for everyone to regard women as people with rights. No one has the right to harass and intimidate another person, and many women (and some men) regard getting hit on as harassment and/or intimidation. It’s not a compliment to have guys yelling obscene crap at you when you walk down the street. It’s not a compliment to be in the middle of something that requires attention and to get interrupted by someone who places his desire to talk to you above whatever you’re doing or saying. It’s not a compliment to have a drunk person stagger up and say s/he likes your body parts—that person is judging you based solely on their desire for sex and is totally ignoring the fact that you’re a human being. You have every right to be upset when people treat you as an object or as anything less than an equal person.

This behavior is not ok, and it happens to women constantly. Our body parts are judged by everyone around us, and the overwhelming majority of women experience some level of harassment from men who won’t back off or take “no” for an answer. Why should anyone have to put up with it? Why is it so difficult to acknowledge that women should be treated as whole human beings with rights and not as assemblages of body parts that exist for the pleasure of others? Why is it so difficult to acknowledge that there are times and places for everything, and that it wouldn’t kill people to pass on flirting with others under awkward or creepy circumstances?

I say this as a married woman who still isn’t safe from this type of harassment…you’d think that people would have more class than to hit on someone wearing a wedding ring. Nope.

As for the “fight for ‘important’ issues” canard…seriously? Any intelligent person should understand that the societal image of women existing solely as sexual objects and not as human beings with equal rights impacts us at work, at home, through government law…change the attitude, and then it’s easier to change the rest.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 4:53pm by Sethra Lavode Comment #7

I haven’t heard the interview yet, but I have been reading the blogs. This one from Blag Hag is one everyone should check out. She addresses what is NOT mysoginistic, FYI omniomi. Also Greta Christina went on for great length, including saying that discussing what is and isn’t kosher and how we all feel about it is great, but attacking Rebecca and making assumptions about her character is not so great.

Otherwise, I plan to not get too deep into this discussion.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 4:58pm by Lausten Comment #8

@Sethra Lavode,
Thats a very passionate rant, but it does not address my point of how we can somehow magically draw a line in the sand for a universal ‘awkward’ situation. Men objectify women, but so do women men. Sexism to me is only when double standards are in use, NOT when the world at large refuses to adhere to a womens personal wants & desires.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 4:59pm by craggles Comment #9

Actual right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution: privacy

Not actual rights guaranteed by any constitution or charter in any country: flirting, harassment, sexual harassment

Flirtation is not sexual harassment or regular harassment unless it progresses past “I’m not interested.” In Rebecca’s original video she does not say the man in the elevator pressured her beyond the initial invitation.

Harassment: “commonly understood as behaviour intended to disturb or upset, and it is characteristically repetitive.”

Your rights stop where another person’s rights start, and it’s beyond time for everyone to regard women as people with rights. No one has the right to harass and intimidate another person, and many women (and some men) regard getting hit on as harassment and/or intimidation.

It doesn’t matter that you regard flirtation as harassment UNTIL you tell me that. Society and the law does not see innocent flirtation as harassment, until you ask for the flirtor to stop you have no case for harassment.

It’s not a compliment to have guys yelling obscene crap at you when you walk down the street. It’s not a compliment to be in the middle of something that requires attention and to get interrupted by someone who places his desire to talk to you above whatever you’re doing or saying. It’s not a compliment to have a drunk person stagger up and say s/he likes your body parts—that person is judging you based solely on their desire for sex and is totally ignoring the fact that you’re a human being. You have every right to be upset when people treat you as an object or as anything less than an equal person.

This is not a conversation about cat calling, or obscene flirtation.

“I find you interesting, and would like to talk more” does not equal “Hey tuts, nice rack”

This behavior is not ok, and it happens to women constantly. Our body parts are judged by everyone around us, and the overwhelming majority of women experience some level of harassment from men who won’t back off or take “no” for an answer. Why should anyone have to put up with it? Why is it so difficult to acknowledge that women should be treated as whole human beings with rights and not as assemblages of body parts that exist for the pleasure of others? Why is it so difficult to acknowledge that there are times and places for everything, and that it wouldn’t kill people to pass on flirting with others under awkward or creepy circumstances?

We are not talking about men who won’t take “no” for an answer… Rebecca directly addressed ALL MEN and told ALL MEN that propositioning for coffee is not acceptable.

Further, ones definition of a creepy or awkward situation will be different from that of others.

I say this as a married woman who still isn’t safe from this type of harassment…you’d think that people would have more class than to hit on someone wearing a wedding ring. Nope.

I’m gay (I mentioned this previously), in your country I don’t get to wear a wedding ring, not a nice thing to bring up in a discussion about equality.

As for the “fight for ‘important’ issues” canard…seriously? Any intelligent person should understand that the societal image of women existing solely as sexual objects and not as human beings with equal rights impacts us at work, at home, through government law…change the attitude, and then it’s easier to change the rest.

Do I need to keep reminding you I’m gay? I’m that guy who women go to for some gossiping about men and ogling of men. Women tell their gay friends everything. Don’t try and feed me some bullshit about women not objectifying men, My female friends constantly point out hot men to me.

Why do you think shows like True Blood which are marketed at women feature dozens of extremely attractive men constantly removing their clothing…. Women online who post on True Blood fan sites or twitter seem to love the character of Eric Northman even though he is a manipulative ass… Do you really think they all love him for his personality? Or could it be his stunning good looks, amazing muscles, and tight ass which is constantly shown.

I have worked under female team leads, female directors, and female national directors and do you know what industry I am in? I work in IT a predominately male industry. There are also plenty of laws protecting women’s rights and you are perfectly free to leave your marriage if you have issues at home. I will not deny that we still live in a male centric society still but you come off as suggesting we still live in a society where women cannot get ahead at work, where women are the property of their husbands, and where government and the judicial system ignore the plight of women… That is simply not the case… We have a ways to go yet, but we are not still sitting at the beginning of the feminist movement, the movement has accomplished much - you be little the accomplishment of feminists before you.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 5:14pm by omniomi Comment #10

I’m gay (I mentioned this previously), in your country I don’t get to wear a wedding ring, not a nice thing to bring up in a discussion about equality.

I live in Canada now, and same-sex marriage is perfectly legal here. That’s one of the reasons that I prefer this country over the U.S. - they actually care about *all* of their citizens, and the Charter specifically states that everyone regardless of gender must be treated equally under the law.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 5:19pm by Sethra Lavode Comment #11

I’m gay (I mentioned this previously), in your country I don’t get to wear a wedding ring, not a nice thing to bring up in a discussion about equality.

I live in Canada now, and same-sex marriage is perfectly legal here. That’s one of the reasons that I prefer this country over the U.S. - they actually care about *all* of their citizens, and the Charter specifically states that everyone regardless of gender must be treated equally under the law.

My apologies, you quoted the U.S. constitution - so I assumed.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 5:25pm by omniomi Comment #12

@Sethra Lavode,
Thats a very passionate rant, but it does not address my point of how we can somehow magically draw a line in the sand for a universal ‘awkward’ situation. Men objectify women, but so do women men. Sexism to me is only when double standards are in use, NOT when the world at large refuses to adhere to a womens personal wants & desires.

Here’s a good litmus test for you.

If you see a man at your local library and he’s typing away on his laptop and frowning intently at the screen, would you wander over and interrupt him to start a conversation with him?

If you see a woman at your local library and she’s typing away on her laptop and frowning intently at the screen, would you wander over and interrupt her to start a conversation with her?

If you would consider it rude to interrupt either of them, then you’re way ahead of many men. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago at my local library. I still don’t understand why a complete stranger thought it was acceptable to interrupt me when I clearly looked like I was concentrating on something. I gave him a short, terse answer and kept working, and he stood there staring at me for nearly 10 minutes before going away, getting visibly angry that I wouldn’t try and continue the conversation. This behavior is rude, regardless of whether a person has any sexual interest in another person or not.

If you see an attractive woman reading a book and you want to talk to her, ask yourself if you’d interrupt a man who was reading the same text. If you wouldn’t interrupt the man based on it being rude but you would interrupt the woman, then your interest in the woman as a sexual object outweighs her status as a human being deserving of equal consideration.

A belief that what women are doing or saying is less important than a man’s perceived right to interact with them is sexist.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 5:54pm by Sethra Lavode Comment #13

Sethra, well put.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 5:57pm by greg_laden Comment #14

If you see a man at your local library and he’s typing away on his laptop and frowning intently at the screen, would you wander over and interrupt him to start a conversation with him?

If you see a woman at your local library and she’s typing away on her laptop and frowning intently at the screen, would you wander over and interrupt her to start a conversation with her?
............................................

How can you outright ignore all the laws of the jungle responsible for our very existence? Male/Female interactions dont exists in a vacuum devoid of any bias or intentions. That goes for either side.

Why not flip the question around? If i dont feel it outright rude to interrupt someone in this situation then why should i NOT prefer talking to the female over the male? There is always the possibility we are both single and have a mutual interest in each other. You will never know if you never try right? The rest of it about hanging around in a creepy fashion need not apply, that much is common sense and is not the issue at hand. Your question and following paragraph seems to completely ignore mechanisms deep set in our biology. It is also very opinionated. One could argue the case just as easily that banning such behavior would severely damage our well-being in that we can no longer exist in a community where we are not afraid of meeting new people. If you want a sexless society then well, you really have to look at moving to a new planet.

If you see an attractive woman reading a book and you want to talk to her, ask yourself if you’d interrupt a man who was reading the same text. If you wouldn’t interrupt the man based on it being rude but you would interrupt the woman, then your interest in the woman as a sexual object outweighs her status as a human being deserving of equal consideration.

A belief that what women are doing or saying is less important than a man’s perceived right to interact with them is sexist.

Its a risk scale value judgement. Obviously if I deemed it incredibly rude i wouldn’t approach either. But if the rude factor was small enough and the possibility of reward was favored over the risk of her small inconvenience then I would consider approaching the lady. You cant just make these closed questions and not consider all the factors involved.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 6:06pm by craggles Comment #15

My apologies, you quoted the U.S. constitution - so I assumed.

I apologize as well - I should have been more clear. I specified the U.S. Constitution because I am (unfortunately) still more familiar with it than with Canadian law. I’m working on fixing that.

It’s important to me that I live in a country where everyone is considered equal and has equal rights - luckily, my husband agrees with that sentiment and wanted to stay here as well. The U.S. had an opportunity to add a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equality for women, but it wasn’t ratified by enough states and has not taken effect. A Supreme Court justice actually stated that it was legal to discriminate against women because we aren’t guaranteed equal protection under the law.

For what it’s worth, I find it reprehensible that there’s a huge push to demonize people based on who they want to sleep with or who they fall in love with. The government has absolutely no right to interfere with the lives of consenting adults. Full stop.

Sorry, got interrupted (again!) by a phone call, but will address your other points as quickly as I can.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 6:06pm by Sethra Lavode Comment #16

How can you outright ignore all the laws of the jungle responsible for our very existence?

Because humans have higher brain functions and are quite capable of regulating themselves in public?

I don’t wish to be treated as a mindless animal, therefore I do not act like one. If other people wish to be treated as humans, then acting like mindless animals isn’t the way to go about it.

Why not flip the question around? If i dont feel it outright rude to interrupt someone in this situation then why should i NOT prefer talking to the female over the male?

I think you missed the point. If you wouldn’t find it rude to interrupt either a man or a woman, then you’re treating them as equals. That’s a good thing. If you thought it was rude but still interrupted the woman anyway…well, that’s rude. It’s civility and common politeness.

The rest of it about hanging around in a creepy fashion need not apply, that much is common sense and is not the issue at hand.

Yes, it actually was the issue at hand. That’s what most women have to put up with on a daily basis. Being treated as an equal is a rarity, and quite a few women appreciate knowing that someone who’s interested in them actually respects boundaries and acts like a decent human being.

Your question and following paragraph seems to completely ignore mechanisms deep set in our biology.

Again, do you or do you not have higher brain functions with which you can regulate your social activities? If you wish to act like a mindless animal and be treated like one, then full steam ahead and be prepared to get blown off by the women you annoy with your approach.

It is also very opinionated.

Try being on the receiving end of sexual harassment and assault for more than thirty years. My first experience was at the charming age of eight when my step-brother thought it’d be funny to drop his pants and try to get me to suck his…well, you figure it out. More than 30 years later, and I still get men treating me as an object that’s supposed to be available for their whims and not have opinions of my own. Too bad.

Its a risk scale value judgement. Obviously if I deemed it incredibly rude i wouldn’t approach either. But if the rude factor was small enough and the possibility of reward was favored over the risk of her small inconvenience then I would consider approaching the lady. You cant just make these closed questions and not consider all the factors involved.

See, that’s a good way to think of it. You’re willing to acknowledge that there are times when it’s rude to interrupt people regardless of the attraction factor. That’s using those higher brain functions to regulate your social activities, in spite of the fact that you think the law of the jungle applies. That means you should have a decent chance at having some solid interactions with women because you’re willing to consider them as equals. Again, that’s kind of a rarity for most of us, and I’m sure it will be appreciated.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 6:30pm by Sethra Lavode Comment #17

Because humans have higher brain functions and are quite capable of regulating themselves in public?

I’m not saying we should all behave like animals. Merely pointing out that men, if given the choice should be able to favor striking up a converstaion with a female over a male. By the tone of your message I thought you were denying this. Now case in point, this bias exists right? So why would it not apply even if I deemed it possibly rude to interrupt any of the two? If there were two men, and I still decided to do it, then why not in the same situation with a women, favor her? Is it really that unfair?

Yes, it actually was the issue at hand. That’s what most women have to put up with on a daily basis. Being treated as an equal is a rarity, and quite a few women appreciate knowing that someone who’s interested in them actually respects boundaries and acts like a decent human being.

The issue at hand was a simple elevator converstaion. So you feel there is a disproportionate amount of men doing indecent deeds to women than the other way around? I dont know the facts here. In the proffesional enviroment a fair days work should recieve a fair days pay irrespective of sex. And common respect should be applied to every citizen of earth. But you would be mad to think everyone is born equal… thats simply not how the world works. If I was at a party, do you think I would give equal attention to every women there if i was looking for a partner?

Feminists conveniently forget all the pressures females put on men. I would probably get linched for even bringing some of them up.

If you want to raise awareness to men that this is not a good way to behave and it effects both sides negatively, then that’s fine. What i worry about is lobbyists sticking their finger in state law and making pathetic policies that can do more harm than good. The few bad eggs should be treated as that, bad eggs. I have certainly met my fair share of women like that. I see it as part of life and have much more pressing issues going on.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 6:47pm by craggles Comment #18

Here’s a good litmus test for you.

If you see a man at your local library and he’s typing away on his laptop and frowning intently at the screen, would you wander over and interrupt him to start a conversation with him?

If you see a woman at your local library and she’s typing away on her laptop and frowning intently at the screen, would you wander over and interrupt her to start a conversation with her?

If you would consider it rude to interrupt either of them, then you’re way ahead of many men. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago at my local library. I still don’t understand why a complete stranger thought it was acceptable to interrupt me when I clearly looked like I was concentrating on something. I gave him a short, terse answer and kept working, and he stood there staring at me for nearly 10 minutes before going away, getting visibly angry that I wouldn’t try and continue the conversation. This behavior is rude, regardless of whether a person has any sexual interest in another person or not.

His behavior was rude (or socially unaware), yes, and I am in no way making excuses for it, but what about your behavior? Is it acceptable to ignore someone who is trying to have a conversation with you, without first making sure they understand why? Are you sure he cared about your attractiveness over your status as a human being, or do you think perhaps he was just rude because he felt you were ignoring him for no discernible reason? Maybe he thought you were just acting busy because you disliked him (pre-judged him?), rather than being actually busy. Do you know for certain whether or not he noticed your wedding ring?

You seem to be assuming a lot about his motivations here. In fact, frankly it makes it sound like you’re sexist against men. If the man was just socially unaware, maybe you could have found it in your heart to explain, “sorry, I’m kinda busy right now”; or at least acknowledged his existence as a fellow human being and said something to him rather than let him stand there for 10 minutes as if he didn’t exist.

If the man was a woman instead, would you ignore her as readily?

If you see an attractive woman reading a book and you want to talk to her, ask yourself if you’d interrupt a man who was reading the same text. If you wouldn’t interrupt the man based on it being rude but you would interrupt the woman, then your interest in the woman as a sexual object outweighs her status as a human being deserving of equal consideration.

Is it possible that my interest in her is not as a sexual object, but as a human being of the opposite sex and all that entails? Why do you assume my interest in her is as a sexual object only?

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 6:59pm by domokato Comment #19

One of the problems with the word equality in this discussion is you imply women cannot proposition men, so the equality is that men shouldn’t be able to proposition women in the manner described…

I would argue most heterosexual men would appreciate being hit on by a woman, so women are free to hit on men as they please… So you aren’t arguing for equality here, you are arguing to place a restriction on men that doesn’t exist for women. The fact the vast majority of women do not actively hit on men is irrelevant, it’s their choice not a societal constraint like the one you are trying to impose on men.

Men piss standing up you don’t (but theoretically can), would you like to fight for bathroom equality and have men not have urinals? When two groups CAN do something and one chooses not to, trying to force the other not to is not a fight for equality.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 7:03pm by omniomi Comment #20

Flirtation is not sexual harassment or regular harassment unless it progresses past “I’m not interested.” In Rebecca’s original video she does not say the man in the elevator pressured her beyond the initial invitation.

He did not, but he was at the same table at the bar, where she was discussing how much she hated being hit on and then told everyone she was exhausted and heading off to get some sleep. He didn’t speak to her at all at the bar, ignored everything she said and followed her to the elevator. Because his need to interact with her was more important than her stated desire to be left alone and get some sleep. That’s harassment.

Harassment: “commonly understood as behaviour intended to disturb or upset, and it is characteristically repetitive.”

Exactly.

This is not a conversation about cat calling, or obscene flirtation.

In this particular instance, no. In the wider skeptic community, yes it is. In the world at large, hell yes. It’s all part of the same issue, that women are not seen as equal human beings to be treated with respect. I’ve been to one conference, and I will never attend another because I find it highly offensive that men feel free to invade my personal space in order to stare down my shirt or grope me without my consent.

We are not talking about men who won’t take “no” for an answer… Rebecca directly addressed ALL MEN and told ALL MEN that propositioning for coffee is not acceptable.

She did not. She said that she had spent the night talking about how much she hated being hit on, and having a guy come and hit on her - in an elevator at 4 am - right after having said she did not wish to receive that kind of attention was not acceptable.

Further, ones definition of a creepy or awkward situation will be different from that of others.

Indeed, so a good rule of thumb is to treat everyone with equal respect.

Do I need to keep reminding you I’m gay? I’m that guy who women go to for some gossiping about men and ogling of men. Women tell their gay friends everything. Don’t try and feed me some bullshit about women not objectifying men, My female friends constantly point out hot men to me.

And do they walk up to those men and say, “Nice ass!” or anything similar? Do they interrupt guys regardless of what they’re doing in order to get their attention? If they do, then that’s equally rude. There is no problem with anyone appreciating the male form, or with anyone appreciating the female form. There is a problem when one lets one’s sexual desire overrule the idea that others should be treated as human beings.

Why do you think shows like True Blood which are marketed at women feature dozens of extremely attractive men constantly removing their clothing…. Women online who post on True Blood fan sites or twitter seem to love the character of Eric Northman even though he is a manipulative ass… Do you really think they all love him for his personality? Or could it be his stunning good looks, amazing muscles, and tight ass which is constantly shown.

Because we’re socialized to think that’s ideal. Think of most Hollywood movies - the female lead almost always has to be taken care of, and half the sex scenes start out as sexual assault or rape, but the guy won’t stop so the woman gives in. That’s not a healthy perspective to keep feeding people.

I have worked under female team leads, female directors, and female national directors and do you know what industry I am in? I work in IT a predominately male industry. There are also plenty of laws protecting women’s rights and you are perfectly free to leave your marriage if you have issues at home. I will not deny that we still live in a male centric society still but you come off as suggesting we still live in a society where women cannot get ahead at work, where women are the property of their husbands, and where government and the judicial system ignore the plight of women… That is simply not the case… We have a ways to go yet, but we are not still sitting at the beginning of the feminist movement, the movement has accomplished much - you be little the accomplishment of feminists before you.

I’m not sure what country you’re in, so I’ll pass along what I know of the U.S. since I’m most familiar with its lovely foibles.

* Women can be arrested for having miscarriages.
* Women brought a class-action lawsuit against Walmart showing systemic gender bias in pay and promotions, and the Supreme Court said they didn’t have a case and threw them out.
* Pregnant women can literally be strapped down against their will and forced to undergo medical procedures without consent, regardless of whether they will survive the procedure.
* Women’s medical coverage is repeatedly targeted by politicians…but they leave men alone.
* Talking heads always discuss the clothing and appearance of female politicians, but not male ones.
* Victim-blaming and slut-shaming are considered entertainment, including by the press that’s supposed to offer “unbiased” news.

These are varying levels of the same type of disregard for women. We’ve lost a great deal of ground since the feminist wave of the 70s.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 7:06pm by Sethra Lavode Comment #21

Flirtation is not sexual harassment or regular harassment unless it progresses past “I’m not interested.” In Rebecca’s original video she does not say the man in the elevator pressured her beyond the initial invitation.

He did not, but he was at the same table at the bar, where she was discussing how much she hated being hit on and then told everyone she was exhausted and heading off to get some sleep. He didn’t speak to her at all at the bar, ignored everything she said and followed her to the elevator. Because his need to interact with her was more important than her stated desire to be left alone and get some sleep. That’s harassment.

If what you are implying is the case, then this has nothing to do with real legitimate sexual harassment and more to do with flat out shit stirring, teasing or just plain old harassment. There is a very real sarcastic undertone to that kind of behavior and it would take a feminazi to blow it up into a battle of the sexes. Massive jerk? yea sure, he may be. But condemning that kind of behavior in the context Rebecca was framing it is sensationalist hodge podge.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 7:12pm by craggles Comment #22

I’m not sure what country you’re in, so I’ll pass along what I know of the U.S. since I’m most familiar with its lovely foibles.

* Women can be arrested for having miscarriages.
* Women brought a class-action lawsuit against Walmart showing systemic gender bias in pay and promotions, and the Supreme Court said they didn’t have a case and threw them out.
* Pregnant women can literally be strapped down against their will and forced to undergo medical procedures without consent, regardless of whether they will survive the procedure.
* Women’s medical coverage is repeatedly targeted by politicians…but they leave men alone.
* Talking heads always discuss the clothing and appearance of female politicians, but not male ones.
* Victim-blaming and slut-shaming are considered entertainment, including by the press that’s supposed to offer “unbiased” news.

These are varying levels of the same type of disregard for women. We’ve lost a great deal of ground since the feminist wave of the 70s.

I’ll address the rest in a bit but I’ll start here… I’m Canadian. The huge issues you describe do not exist here.

The USA is ass backwards in a lot of respects no denying that. Women’s right are not the only issue in the USA which is why I’ll go back to this: Let’s stop fighting for women’s right to equality and fight for everyone’s rights to equality. In some parts of the USA a woman will most certainly get a job before an atheist male or a transsexual… Everyone needs equality. In the USA unless you are a white, Christian male you’re a second class citizen. Women aren’t the only ones being marginalized.

Can you address this please:

As a sceptic, I am sceptical of the feminist use of the word “equality” because they seem far more focused on replacing a male dominated society with a female dominated society or at the very least on giving rights and protections to women that do not exist for men. Perfect example: Spain’s recent requirement that 40% of boardroom members be female… A 100% female board is perfectly acceptable because there is is no equal requirement that 40% be male.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 7:13pm by omniomi Comment #23

Maybe some nuance of the evening as was lost as related by Watson (after all, I wasn’t there), but as far as it was related the guy on the elevator wasn’t objectifying her, being misogynistic or being, in any other sense, sexist. Yes, it was tacky—maybe even a little creepy—of him to try to pick her up like that. But he wasn’t her boss or co-worker so it wasn’t sexual harassment, he wasn’t invading her space or touching her, he didn’t stalk her to her room and (as far as we know) wan’t being pushy or belligerent when she declined his invitation. Many feminist voices advocate a libertine approach to sexuality which, at worst, is what he was expressing and barring that he was simply inviting her to join him for coffee and conversation (even if that most probably wasn’t his endgame).

Maybe the guy actually was “sexualizing” her. But if so, then Watson’s definition of the term dictates that everybody on the planet is constantly being “sexualized” by around half of the non-familial people they encounter every day. That is to say, “sexualize” must mean thus: to appraise a person for their sexual appeal and select and pursue acceptable potential partners. And if that’s an irredeemably bad thing, we’ll be waiting a long, long time for the world to change.

I’ve argued many times for the feminist cause against people who truly are sexist and/or misogynistic. But some people, which seems to include Watson, like to throw these terms at anyone who either disagrees with them, doesn’t accept their societal model or (heaven forbid!) make an unwanted amorous advance. Ironically, Watson’s behavior is far more sexist than that of the elevator-man.

Dawkins was certainly at his most inarticulate when he offered such a ridiculous argument against her reaction. His behavior may in fact have been sexist in that (I must assume, for he is not an utterly stupid man) he felt a need to respond out of some weird, intuitive displeasure regarding Watson’s reaction to the event and dredged up an invalid argument to rebut it. Rather, a non-sexist criticism would have followed from asking the question: “Is she justified in her characterization of the man in the elevator,” weighing the rational and ethical implications and realizing that she was not for the fact that she has confused her annoyance and alarm at an unwanted allegedly-sexual proposition for the feelings of victimization and degradation that come from being sexually harassed, objectified or marginalized. In this sense, Watson’s and Dawkins’ ideas on the respective matters were very similar in that they both hailed from an unarticulated conglomeration of ideas and feelings that are fundamentally aggravated by imagined motives of a member of the opposite sex.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 7:58pm by Sarcen Comment #24

I say this as a married woman who still isn’t safe from this type of harassment…you’d think that people would have more class than to hit on someone wearing a wedding ring. Nope.

Just a minor note: On April 8, 2011, Rebecca announced that she was separated from her husband and getting a divorce. I don’t know whether or not she was wearing a ring, but it was public knowledge that she was no longer married in any real sense.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 9:37pm by tinyfrog Comment #25

She should have mentioned the time that she harassed me because she thought I was a handsome skeptic, I wanted no part of it, but she gave me an attitude! %-P Kidding.  I have mixed feelings about this womans point of view. It seems naive to me to think that skeptic men will just be more enlightend (translation-do what I like) because they are skeptics. That makes me think somewhat less of her intent, however the guy in the elevator does sound like someone who doesn’t pay attention to context clues, so she is not out of line in criticising him. The concept of a diverse skeptic’s movement is something I’m against; feminists don’t have a place at the table just because they’re feminists. Her hatred of Oprah is very nice to hear. Good on her for that.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 10:54pm by mid atlantic Comment #26

“Guys, don’t do that,” said Watson. “I was a single woman in a foreign country at 4 am in a hotel elevator with you. Just you. Don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.”

The paragraph in the article is all that she said.

Why are so many people all over the net so terribly angry at her?
A lot of the comments are like “Yeah, it’s better not to hit on someone in that situation, but the way she put it is going way too far.”
That is how she put it!  “You shouldn’t hit on someone in that situation!”
Is there some other invisible message that you heard between the lines?

“Women have the right to hit on men, equality would be men having the right to hit on women…”
No, they really don’t.  Women don’t have the “right” to make sexual advances when they feel like it, or to make men uncomfortable for our own convenience.  One has to get off one’s ass and consider the feelings of other people.

I don’t really get why there’s such a large (or at least, a really vocal) group of people taking the position that it’s totally acceptable to make someone else uncomfortable if there’s a chance it might get you laid.  A “small inconvenience,” you say, but it’s not like the benefit is any bigger.

“Rebecca also seems to have a serious issue with men in general, she recently tweeted ‘Misogyny: the assumption that a woman gets upgraded for her tits, not for total miles flown. How did the self check-in even SEE them?’”

Where are men even involved in this sentence?  Are you assuming that someone made a sexist remark to that effect, and that that person must have been a man?

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 11:25pm by Contradiction Comment #27

“Guys, don’t do that,” said Watson. “I was a single woman in a foreign country at 4 am in a hotel elevator with you. Just you. Don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.”

The paragraph in the article is all that she said.

Why are so many people all over the net so terribly angry at her?
A lot of the comments are like “Yeah, it’s better not to hit on someone in that situation, but the way she put it is going way too far.”
That is how she put it!  “You shouldn’t hit on someone in that situation!”
Is there some other invisible message that you heard between the lines?

“Women have the right to hit on men, equality would be men having the right to hit on women…”
No, they really don’t.  Women don’t have the “right” to make sexual advances when they feel like it, or to make men uncomfortable for our own convenience.  One has to get off one’s ass and consider the feelings of other people.

I don’t really get why there’s such a large (or at least, a really vocal) group of people taking the position that it’s totally acceptable to make someone else uncomfortable if there’s a chance it might get you laid.  A “small inconvenience,” you say, but it’s not like the benefit is any bigger.

“Rebecca also seems to have a serious issue with men in general, she recently tweeted ‘Misogyny: the assumption that a woman gets upgraded for her tits, not for total miles flown. How did the self check-in even SEE them?’”

Where are men even involved in this sentence?  Are you assuming that someone made a sexist remark to that effect, and that that person must have been a man?

Anyone can make sexual advances anytime they want to. If it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. You live with whatever consequences there are.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 11:59pm by mid atlantic Comment #28

Anyone can make sexual advances anytime they want to. If it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. You live with whatever consequences there are.

I’m not sure if you totally understand.  There are also consequences to the person that you’re hitting on.

Usually with conventional pickup lines, you’re just talking to a person who isn’t really doing anything else; you’re not staring fixedly at someone or switching off their monitor or swerving in front of their truck and parking or whatever “small inconvenience” is necessary to get their attention.

I had some more stuff, but picking up MOTAS is not really relevant to my point. :>

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 2:02am by Contradiction Comment #29

Oh, boy! And the ranting continues. As someone who has been threatened by a male… in an elevator… during the day…and had to be rescued by a man who was able to stop the elevator since the man on the elevator wouldn’t allow me access to the control panel, I totally agree with Rebecca on this. The man came across as creepy. I would have felt threatened. Hello! The FIRST thing he ever said to her was to invite her to his room???

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 2:11am by asanta Comment #30

Is it possible that my interest in her is not as a sexual object, but as a human being of the opposite sex and all that entails? Why do you assume my interest in her is as a sexual object only?

It has nothing to do with viewing her as a sex object. A man, typing on the computer and frowning in concentration is seen as doing something important. A woman doing the exact same thing is NOT.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 2:15am by asanta Comment #31

“Women have the right to hit on men, equality would be men having the right to hit on women…”
No, they really don’t.  Women don’t have the “right” to make sexual advances when they feel like it, or to make men uncomfortable for our own convenience.  One has to get off one’s ass and consider the feelings of other people.

I don’t really get why there’s such a large (or at least, a really vocal) group of people taking the position that it’s totally acceptable to make someone else uncomfortable if there’s a chance it might get you laid.

`
As someone who’s read (what feels like) countless threads on this kerfuffle, I can’t tell you how often I’ve encountered the attitude/position you describe above (often coupled with a kind resentful attitude, as though taking a few moments to consider how the other person might be feeling is some kind of ‘hardship’/imposition)

That, and a disappointingly common appearance of the ‘her fear wasn’t warranted, she shouldn’t have felt that way’ kind of attitude.  On one board, someone actually suggested that because rape is so ‘rare’ (statistically), that being concerned about it is irrational.

I’ve honestly lost count of the number of facepalms discussions on this have inspired.

I can only hope that this thread doesn’t descend into a swirling miasma of vitriol, from which nothing escapes!

`

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 2:15am by Axegrrl Comment #32

Anyone can make sexual advances anytime they want to. If it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. You live with whatever consequences there are.

I’m not sure if you totally understand.  There are also consequences to the person that you’re hitting on.

Usually with conventional pickup lines, you’re just talking to a person who isn’t really doing anything else; you’re not staring fixedly at someone or switching off their monitor or swerving in front of their truck and parking or whatever “small inconvenience” is necessary to get their attention.

I had some more stuff, but picking up MOTAS is not really relevant to my point. :>

I know what you mean, and that’s life.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 6:10am by mid atlantic Comment #33

All this blather over some awkward flirtation? You’ve got to be kidding! Rebecca and all the other 20-something “Womyn’s Studies” majors really need to get out more. If you think elevator guy’s advances were bad, check out gay male culture. Or Italy.

I agree with many posters here: if Neanderthals had elevators, this would have happened. If the Eloi in the year 802,000 have elevators, this will happen. The cruel reality of the mating game is that if a man doesn’t instigate a sexual relationship by making the first move, it’s highly likely that he’ll die alone, a virgin.

Is getting hit on annoying? Sure, sometimes, sometimes not. But it is NOT sexism and it is certainly NOT misogyny, no matter what you were taught in your “Patriarchal Oppression 101” course at Bryn Mawr.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 6:31am by MemeInjector3000 Comment #34

Difference in opinion of the elevator incident seem to be a matter of “taste” and as the proverb says “there is no accounting for taste”.  So why are you trying to account for it?  I would think the guest could have related a more egregious example of being hit on.  Why choose such a marginal case?  Is this controversy for the sake of controversy? 

lff

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 6:38am by lff Comment #35

I think people are missing the point here. 

1. She did not make “a case” out of it, there was a strong reaction to her casual comment by many including Richard Dawkins.  I think she is now taking the oportunity to clarify her comment and to bring up women in skepticism due to circumstances of the topic getting attention.  I’m sure that there have been better examples in her life, but this one took a life of its own and she is making use of this particular circumstances

2. She has never stated that she was wronged in anyway, and taken in a vacuum the guy did nothing “wrong.”  But in the context of that day, and that she talked about the very issue of women in skepticism and how she did not like being approached in that manner… the guy was being a douche.  Thats all she was pointing out in her brief comment about the issue.  Yes, there is no crime in being a douche, but there is also nothing wrong with her pointing that out.  I’m sure in more welcoming circumstances in a different setting with a different person she has “coffee” now and again. 

I think people are judging the situation too quickly without context and that is where some of the reactions are coming from.  That and people with serious issues.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 7:43am by ccbowers Comment #36

Oh, boy! And the ranting continues. As someone who has been threatened by a male… in an elevator… during the day…and had to be rescued by a man who was able to stop the elevator since the man on the elevator wouldn’t allow me access to the control panel, I totally agree with Rebecca on this. The man came across as creepy. I would have felt threatened. Hello! The FIRST thing he ever said to her was to invite her to his room???

So because you had an experience in an elevator that genuinely was threatening but completely unlike the one Watson had, you are taking her side in the argument? That is not rational.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 8:12am by Sarcen Comment #37

So because you had an experience in an elevator that genuinely was threatening but completely unlike the one Watson had, you are taking her side in the argument? That is not rational.

Human beings aren’t rational.  Which is why skeptics so amuse me.  For all the pretensions and grandstanding to the contrary, we’re no different than the theists and woo peddlers we so love to bash on.

Carry on everyone.  I find this all greatly entertaining.

http://www.clipartguide.com/_named_clipart_images/0511-0904-0419-5876_Teenage_Boy_Eating_Popcorn_While_Watching_a_3D_Film_clipart_image.jpg

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 8:43am by Dead Monky Comment #38

Is it possible that my interest in her is not as a sexual object, but as a human being of the opposite sex and all that entails? Why do you assume my interest in her is as a sexual object only?

It has nothing to do with viewing her as a sex object.

The scenario Sethra outlined assumed the man was viewing the woman only as a sexual object, hence my use of the term.

A man, typing on the computer and frowning in concentration is seen as doing something important. A woman doing the exact same thing is NOT.

Like I tried to explain in the post you’re responding to…you don’t know that. I could be thinking that both the man and the woman might be doing something important, yet I would still interrupt only the woman if I thought our interaction might be more important (to both of us) than what she is currently doing! I may not interrupt the man because if we are both straight, our interaction may not be as important as what he is currently doing.

It may have nothing to do with thinking that women are less important than men or that women are only sexual objects, and you’re being sexist for assuming all men think that way!

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 9:34am by domokato Comment #39

Rebecca is seriously confused as to what feminism is all about. She seems to believe the feminist movement is all about stopping flirtation. Her bit was all about women being hit on and not liking it… Heaven forbid!

Misogyny is a hatred or dislike of women… Such an assumption shows no hatred or dislike… A sexist comment; maybe, misogynistic? No. If a man got a promotion and a woman said “he only got the promotion because he’s a man” no one would accuse that woman of misandry in fact most feminists would probably support such an assumption.

As a sceptic, I am sceptical of the feminist use of the word “equality” because they seem far more focused on replacing a male dominated society with a female dominated society or at the very least on giving rights and protections to women that do not exist for men. Perfect example: Spain’s recent requirement that 40% of boardroom members be female… A 100% female board is perfectly acceptable because there is is no equal requirement that 40% be male.

Rebecca has an undeniably valid point regarding the elevator incident.  As a somewhat creepy looking old geezer, I often see fear in the eyes of women who happen to be alone in an elevator when I get on.  Sometimes I try to say something re-assuring, most of the time I just avoid looking at her.  No matter how attracted I am to her physically, I would never consider propositioning someone under those circumstances.  In fact, now that I think of it, a more ethical approach might be to just wait for the next elevator.  It is not a matter of wanting a female dominated society, it is a matter of realistic fears on the part of women who have either been raped or know friends who have been.  It is a matter of unequal physical power.  Perhaps it should become socially unacceptable for a man to “come on” to a women with overt suggestions like that but instead leave it to her to indicate a clear interest in any kind of relationship.

That said, I think Rebecca went a bit overboard in her blog in reacting to Dawkins’ rather insensitive response to her comments on the elevator incident.  Despite his insensitivity in this matter, Dawkins is helping to stem the drive to theocracy in the developed world and to undermine existing theocracies in the pestilential hell-holes where women have absolutely no rights. 

I’m glad Rebecca didn’t re-iterate her reactions to Dawkins in this week’s podcast but instead focused on the very real immediate problem of the American Taliban’s ongoing slick and effective campaign to eliminate reproductive rights for all women in North America.  She’s right in saying that the American Taliban is a minority and that there needs to be an all out effort to mobilize opposition to their agenda.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 9:51am by ullrich Comment #40

As an atheist and skeptic, whenever I am dealing with a religious people face to face I make a point not to generalize their attitudes, belief, or motivations.  I don’t tell them what they are, until they have told me what they are.  I do not assume they are abortion clinics terrorist, just because they have strong faith; unless they make a comment that they agree with the terrorist.  This is a fairly agreed upon position by many debaters within the skeptic/atheist community, because it is a rational position to take when discussing topics.  If you listen to any call-in shows, then you will hear how often a skeptical host will do their best to tap-dance around their own assumptions when talking to individual callers. 

Furthermore, as an atheist and secularist, I find “in god we trust” on money or “under god” in the pledge is wrong in my country; however, I understand that it is not a big issue.  I think there are more important issues that need to be address and taking up these two issues as a cause will detract and hinder our reputation.  Not all secularist agree with me on this point, they sue the government and achieve nothing.  When a religious person makes the assumption that I am trying to “remove” those things, I will correct them, just like prayer in school, that they are wrong about me. 

I am not a follower Rebecca Watson.  When I watched her video, as a guy, I was offended; because she grouped me and all men with this dumb man.  We atheist are very aware that there are several different types of religious beliefs and behavior, we consider it very immature when a fellow atheist generalize Christians/Jews/Muslims and the like.  I was surprised when a skeptical woman, who should understand the fallacy generalization; generalized all men.  After all, she has not comment on the other hundred men who she interacted with that day who actually respected her space.  If Rebecca had said “guys, if you are thinking about doing this, then just don’t” then I would not be offended; because I don’t think of doing it, she is not judging me.

If you are a Christian and do not like what your fellow Christians are all doing, you can leave Christianity.  I cannot stop being male, even if I don’t like what most guys do.  However, as a guy, I do condemn this man.  If a friend acted like this, I would ridicule his thoughts and behavior; because he was wrong. 

Furthermore, I would love for all women to never feel harassed or awkward around men.  Matter of fact, I would love that nobody ever felt those things ever.  However, I am not going to donate money, energy, or time to those causes when there are more important issues that I can change.  I find myself in an awkward position around Rebecca and the comments surrounding this issue.  I support their larger political interests but find outrage about this issue, alienating.  Just like those atheist who want to get “in God we Trust” off the dollar bill.  I want to sympathize with Rebecca, as a person; yet I feel alarmed by her and her followings hostility towards everyone who is male.  Is that what she really wants?

I will support woman rights to their body, but I do not want to be considered or hang out with “feminist.”

Pete

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 9:57am by Phlophouse Comment #41

Furthermore, I would love for all women to never feel harassed or awkward around men.  Matter of fact, I would love that nobody ever felt those things ever.  However, I am not going to donate money, energy, or time to those causes when there are more important issues that I can change.  I find myself in an awkward position around Rebecca and the comments surrounding this issue.  I support their larger political interests but find outrage about this issue, alienating.  Just like those atheist who want to get “in God we Trust” off the dollar bill.  I want to sympathize with Rebecca, as a person; yet I feel alarmed by her and her followings hostility towards everyone who is male.  Is that what she really wants?

I will support woman rights to their body, but I do not want to be considered or hang out with “feminist.”

Pete

Now who’s being over-sensitive?  Rebecca never said anything indicating hostility to “all men”.  Quite the opposite.  She merely pointed out that men should consider the likely emotional reactions of any women they think about approaching, taking into full account the context of the encounter. 

IMHO, feminists are just people who think a bit more deeply about the existing issues of female empowerment and what equality would really look like.  If you look around the world, you will find that a nation’s prosperity and general level of human (male as well as female) health and happiness is directly proportional to the degree to which women are free to make decisions about their bodies and their lives and are free to participate as equal citizens in the political life of the country.  The US is in danger of taking a giant step backward on this scale if the American Taliban is allowed to continue their current campaigns unchecked.  The references to god they have managed to shoehorn into a secular constitution is a wedge with the ultimate goal of converting the US (and ultimately the world) into a pestilential hell-hole like Afghanistan and Pakistan are today.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 11:16am by ullrich Comment #42

Sethra Lavode - 19 July 2011 05:54 PM

If you see an attractive woman reading a book and you want to talk to her, ask yourself if you’d interrupt a man who was reading the same text. If you wouldn’t interrupt the man based on it being rude but you would interrupt the woman, then your interest in the woman as a sexual object outweighs her status as a human being deserving of equal consideration.

I was once interrupted when reading a book by a woman who wanted to know what I thought of it.
She knew of the author and was curious to know if it was worth the reading or not. We had a pleasant chat and then each moved on about our business. At no point in time was I ever tempted to think she was being sexist or did I feel like writing a whole blog about it.
When I want absolute privacy I usually stay out of public places and instead stay at a location I like to call “my apartment” where I dictate the rules of conduct for all occupants.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 11:19am by Jack Lewis Comment #43

Watson thinks the man in the elevator objectified her because he knew that she wanted to sleep but propositioned her anyway, therefore he did not care about her wants and desires, only her body. This is a leap. I can think of at least four other possibilities:

1. He thought she might enjoy some company or a one night stand before sleeping.
2. He saw indicators of sexual interest where there were none - an honest mistake, and a documented cognitive bias in men: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/comm/haselton/webdocs/handbookevpsych.pdf
3. He thought she wasn’t really tired and didn’t really want to go to bed, and that maybe she just wanted to get away from the crowd - people do fib sometimes.
4. He misheard or wasn’t listening when she said she was tired.

None of these cases involve sexual objectification. Just because the man did something that was socially awkward or creepy doesn’t mean he sexually objectifies women. He might be awkward and creepy around men too - does that mean he sexually objectifies men?

Edit: In other words, I don’t think it is reasonable for her to think the man sexually objectified her, given what little she knows about him.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 11:33am by domokato Comment #44

Now who’s being over-sensitive?  Rebecca never said anything indicating hostility to “all men”.  Quite the opposite.  She merely pointed out that men should consider the likely emotional reactions of any women they think about approaching, taking into full account the context of the encounter. 

IMHO, feminists are just people who think a bit more deeply about the existing issues of female empowerment and what equality would really look like.  If you look around the world, you will find that a nation’s prosperity and general level of human (male as well as female) health and happiness is directly proportional to the degree to which women are free to make decisions about their bodies and their lives and are free to participate as equal citizens in the political life of the country.  The US is in danger of taking a giant step backward on this scale if the American Taliban is allowed to continue their current campaigns unchecked.  The references to god they have managed to shoehorn into a secular constitution is a wedge with the ultimate goal of converting the US (and ultimately the world) into a pestilential hell-hole like Afghanistan and Pakistan are today.

Rebecca said “guys, just don’t do this.” So, I assume that since I am a guy; that she is talking to me.  It might be a simple miswording, but she has not clarified it all. From all the comments on her blog, many are even adding additional assumptions to “all men” or “you men.”  Additionally, you are now speaking for her using the same generalized term “men should.” 

I am not being over-sensitive, because I didn’t over-react.  I was offended by her comments on a one from 1-5.  I think it is inappropriate to generalize and frown on people who do it.  I have not started a movement, made a video, disavow people who do not agree with me publicly, or blogged about-I even joined her site, but realized that it was pointless to even make a comment there.  There was too much hostility and confusion over the issues.  However, this is the second podcast I have listen to, that has brought her and issue up; so, within this respected Forum, I have expressed my views.  If that is your definition of over-reacting or being over-sensitive; then I am being an over-sensitive man.

Yes, I agree and for the political issues of woman’s rights, yet that has nothing to do with someone categorizing me with someone they had a creepy moment with.  If you read the comments on Rebecca’s blog, they all get quiet hostile and escalate on both sides on the name-calling.  Why should I support a movement, who vilify me as a rapist, because I am not as out raged as they are on an issue?  That is how bad it is over this subject at her blog post.

Pete

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 12:30pm by Phlophouse Comment #45

I think people are missing the point here. 

1. She did not make “a case” out of it,...

She is a professional blogger.  Anything she comments about on her blog she makes a case of.

lff

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 12:47pm by lff Comment #46

Imagine the elevator scenario with a slightly different twist.  Imagine that, instead of Ms. Watson, we had a heterosexual male and, instead of the presumably heterosexual male proposer, we had a homosexual male proposer. Let’s also assume that the homosexual proposer is, say, 50 lbs heavier and 5 inches taller than the other man.  My guess is that, if the same events had taken place and the proposee had responded with the same offended posture (creeped out and sexualized), many who are now posting in favor of Ms. Watson would, perhaps, be taking the other side and blasting the man as a homophobe.

Can we just admit that social interaction is complicated?  Can we also admit that this conversation, though important, is way off-topic? I don’t think anyone disagrees that, had the discussion gone one inch past, “No, thank you” it would have entered the domain of harassment but imagine that Ms. Watson had replied, “No, but if you give me your card/number/e-mail address, perhaps we can continue the discussion tomorrow, at noon, in a public coffee shop?”  Yes, of course, he might have had one thing on his mind but, if he didn’t, maybe two skeptics missed an opportunity to develop a professional relationship?  Perhaps they could have co-authored a book on the evils of Oprah? Unless, of course, Ms. Watson “just knew” he wasn’t worth her time.

She has skillfully parlayed this non-event into a promotional bonanza and we are now all victims. Look at the ads on skepchick.  Among other companies trying to lure you to their pages with objectified portraits of women, the Bad Idea t-shirt homepage actually features a shirt that reads “Future Trophy Wife!” Go ahead and browse the shirts and then tell me how much Ms. Watson is doing to counter the objectification and sexualization of women.

...but more hits = more cash, right?  Sheesh.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 12:49pm by shawnpat Comment #47

Imagine the elevator scenario with a slightly different twist.  Imagine that, instead of Ms. Watson, we had a heterosexual male and, instead of the presumably heterosexual male proposer, we had a homosexual male proposer. Let’s also assume that the homosexual proposer is, say, 50 lbs heavier and 5 inches taller than the other man.  My guess is that, if the same events had taken place and the proposee had responded with the same offended posture (creeped out and sexualized), many who are now posting in favor of Ms. Watson would, perhaps, be taking the other side and blasting the man as a homophobe.

Let’s take this further…

If a homosexual male had propositioned another homosexual male in an elevator would a fuss have been made?
If a homosexual female had propositioned another homosexual female in an elevator would a fuss have been made?
If a homosexual female had propositioned a heterosexual female in an elevator would a fuss have been made?
If a heterosexual female had propositioned a heterosexual male in an elevator would a fuss have been made?
Probably not…

The issue here is that it was a heterosexual male propositioning a female…
Equality my ass.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 1:57pm by omniomi Comment #48

Imagine the elevator scenario with a slightly different twist.  Imagine that, instead of Ms. Watson, we had a heterosexual male and, instead of the presumably heterosexual male proposer, we had a homosexual male proposer. Let’s also assume that the homosexual proposer is, say, 50 lbs heavier and 5 inches taller than the other man.  My guess is that, if the same events had taken place and the proposee had responded with the same offended posture (creeped out and sexualized), many who are now posting in favor of Ms. Watson would, perhaps, be taking the other side and blasting the man as a homophobe.

Let’s take this further…

If a homosexual male had propositioned another homosexual male in an elevator would a fuss have been made?
If a homosexual female had propositioned another homosexual female in an elevator would a fuss have been made?
If a homosexual female had propositioned a heterosexual female in an elevator would a fuss have been made?
If a heterosexual female had propositioned a heterosexual male in an elevator would a fuss have been made?
Probably not…

The issue here is that it was a heterosexual male propositioning a female…
Equality my ass.

Please post statistics on any of these groups being attacked in elevators. I can post PLENTY about women attacked by a man in an elevator. A woman in a elevator, alone, with a strange man inappropriately propositioning her, has to parse her words carefully, because she cannot be sure he will not attack her if rejected, no matter how gently. I have been in such a situation, and was lucky someone was able to get on the elevator and get me out safely.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 2:30pm by asanta Comment #49

In each of the cases above, you are more than likely talking about two people of the same general size. Most men outweigh me by about 30-50lbs and are much stronger.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 2:32pm by asanta Comment #50

In each of the cases above, you are more than likely talking about two people of the same general size. Most men outweigh me by about 30-50lbs and are much stronger.

Not likely.  I specified a 50 lb difference.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 2:52pm by shawnpat Comment #51

In each of the cases above, you are more than likely talking about two people of the same general size. Most men outweigh me by about 30-50lbs and are much stronger.

Would it be acceptable then for a petite male gymnast to proposition a female kick boxer in an elevator?

Equality by definition means all people regardless of size or strength, regardless of appearance, regardless of gender must be treated the same…. If it’s not cool for a man who is bigger then a woman to proposition her in a confined space but such an issue would not exist if the woman was obviously in the position of power that is NOT equality… If you have no issue with men who you could obviously over power and are only at issue with larger men, your issue isn’t with gender equality. That has been my point this whole time. The general definition of equality used by the majority of feminists is seriously skewed.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 3:02pm by omniomi Comment #52

I am going to add one last bit on feminism in general here to try and sum up my overall issue.

I do not like the definition of feminism being a fight for equality, because that’s bullshit. Call it what it is: a fight for empowerment and let’s move on.

If you look at the gay rights movement, we want exactly what heterosexual have - that’s equality.
If you look at any race rights movement, they want exactly what all other persons have regardless of colour - that’s equality.
If you look at any movement for the rights of people with disabilities, same thing - equality.

If you look at the female rights movement:
- The right to abort pregnancy for women, not for men.
- Family law and divorce law are heavily in women’s favour.
- Guilt is presumed in rape cases where a male is the accused aggressor. (Bullshit assumed when a man accuses a woman).
- Lots of fights to end spousal abuse by men, under reporting of spousal abuse by women.
- Lots of requirements that women MUST be included in this or that, no opposite requirement to have a certain number of men.
- A fight for wage parity, without women stepping up to say the practice of men paying for dates is wrong.

and the list goes on… And guess what, I am fine with all of… I don’t think we need male abortion, I fully support mothers, I fully support rape victims, and I am fine with requiring women be included in whatever… But let’s drop the whole ruse of “equality” this has nothing to do with equality.

Don’t get me wrong, some issues were about equality:
- The right to vote
- The right to own property
- The right to gainful employment
- The right to freedoms and liberties

But you already have those, that fight is over.

I fully support empowerment of women. Go women! But let’s call it what it is, a fight for power - not a fight for equality (any more). If we can do that, I’d proudly wear a “I’m a man, and I’m a feminist” T-Shirt and jump on board.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 3:26pm by omniomi Comment #53

- accidentally quoted myself - deleted -

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 3:29pm by omniomi Comment #54

It is also a matter of environment. An elevator is a small closed area and I can see a natural defensive attitude by any person who is smaller than the person making the propososition. Did anyone cite what was actually said?
I live in a small town and in the grocery store I may talk to a stranger about a recipe or a sale on the next isle. In context this would be considered totally innocent.
But I have also lived in the big city and talked to strangers in elevators. IMO it is body language that speaks loudly in such cases. A respectful and non-aggressive attitude usually is sufficient to place the other person at ease.
How else could we hold on to the myth of “love at first sight”.. :down:

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 3:49pm by Write4U Comment #55

I’m fine with women being sexist against men (to an extent). What I’m not fine with is women falsely claiming not to be sexist against men and at the same time expecting men not to be sexist against women. That’s hypocrisy and a double standard. Sexism, prejudice, and stereotyping, while unfair to those on the receiving end, can be accurate and therefore useful to the one applying them*. I would not expect a woman not to be uncomfortable when stuck in an elevator with a man who just made a seemingly inappropriate proposition. I think it is rational for her to apply stereotypes to this man in order to form a reasonable expectation of his motivations and potential actions. That’s fine. Just don’t fault us men for doing the same.

* src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotyping#Effects.2C_accuracy.2C_terminology . While stereotyping is unfair to those it is being applied to, we cannot expect the stereotyper to completely give up his/her rational self-interest. Should we expect shop owners to be just as weary of well-dressed white people as he/she is of black gangbangers? I think not. So I think the best we can do is strike a balance between stereotyping and not, which is essentially a balance between self and society.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 4:02pm by domokato Comment #56

All this blather over some awkward flirtation? You’ve got to be kidding! Rebecca and all the other 20-something “Womyn’s Studies” majors really need to get out more. If you think elevator guy’s advances were bad, check out gay male culture. Or Italy.

No, you have it exactly backwards!

Watson said what she said, just that one paragraph and a bit of context.  There were widespread objections to it all over the net from, I guess, the “Myn’s Studies” majors.  So then it’s like, “Well, let’s talk about that.  Why can’t you say something innocuous like that without getting an enormous backlash from the net?”

Just scroll up in this thread and you’ll see a bunch of people spontaneously condemning her.  That’s what happened.  On a larger scale.

That is the big problem that everyone is making a racket about, not the fact that she got hit on.  That all it takes is to say the word “sexism,” or even give the impression that you might be thinking about sexism, for an enormous flamewar.

Well, with an exception.  Again, in this thread, you can see like 6 people happily calling Watson and other posters sexist (against men).  Even though “sexist” is supposedly an incredibly serious insult!  No, it’s called an accusation.  An accusation of sexism, like a murder of crows.

Rebecca said “guys, just don’t do this.” So, I assume that since I am a guy; that she is talking to me.

I understand the objection, but is there a difference in meaning between that and the way that you rewrote it?  It’s difficult to tell someone not to do something without, uh, a bit weaker than an implication, I think it’s called an implicature, and I’ve ruined this paragraph, haven’t I.

A lot of people think that what he did was maybe a bit awkward, but fairly normal.  Did you already know that you shouldn’t hit on someone in a small, confined space that they can’t leave?  If not, there’s no reason to be bothered when Watson recommends against it, right?

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 6:05pm by Contradiction Comment #57

In each of the cases above, you are more than likely talking about two people of the same general size. Most men outweigh me by about 30-50lbs and are much stronger.

Right.  That’s the main point of Rebecca’s concern with that elevator incident, I suspect.  I still think Mr. Sensitive back there is completely wrong to conflate “men should” with “all men are rapists”.  Given the vast under-reporting and the extreme difficulty of prosecuting he-said/she-said rapes, women have every reason to fear the worst when propositioned in a situation where there is a blatant inequality of physical power.  It seems to me that it is just common courtesy for men to take that into account and make a point of approaching women in a non-threatening manner.  Most men are not rapists, the problem is that a physically isolated woman can’t know a priori whether the man in the elevator is one or not.  Women’s alleged psychic powers just aren’t that accurate. :)

On the other foot, in the scheme of things, the particular incident was, as Rebecca herself said, “not the worst thing that ever happened” to her or to women in general.  Her over-reaction to Dawkins’ somewhat snippy post essentially to that effect seems to have calmed down a bit.  I hope she hasn’t burned her copy of “Unweaving the Rainbow” in the meantime.  :)

It is always valuable to raise these issues.  This kind of discussion around the status of “lesser breeds without the law”—as non-whites were so charmingly characterized by Rudyard Kipling—ultimately led to the end of slavery and then to the successes of the civil rights movement.  Similar discussions helped bring about the gradual improvement in the civil rights of women, so that now they not only have the vote, but can earn as much as 70% of what a slightly less qualified man would get in the same job.  :)

Let’s not forget that all these improvements in the human condition were fought by the religious right of each era.  Those countries which failed to shake off the yoke of their religious authorities still suffer from the effects of the ongoing injustices inflicted on women and infidels.  The tighter the grip of the mullahs and priests on the public consciousness, the worse off the country is by any standard of human progress.  Everyone who is helping to undermine that grip is doing a valuable service and therefore can be forgiven the occasional insensitive remark.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 6:33pm by ullrich Comment #58

In each of the cases above, you are more than likely talking about two people of the same general size. Most men outweigh me by about 30-50lbs and are much stronger.

Would it be acceptable then for a petite male gymnast to proposition a female kick boxer in an elevator?.


IMHO, yes and it might not be ok for the female kickboxer to do the propositioning.  Rebecca’s concern would probably have not surfaced had she been sure that a polite refusal would not lead to an attack.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 at 6:51pm by ullrich Comment #59

* src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotyping#Effects.2C_accuracy.2C_terminology . While stereotyping is unfair to those it is being applied to, we cannot expect the stereotyper to completely give up his/her rational self-interest. Should we expect shop owners to be just as weary of well-dressed white people as he/she is of black gangbangers? I think not. So I think the best we can do is strike a balance between stereotyping and not, which is essentially a balance between self and society.

Yep

Stephen

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 12:14am by StephenLawrence Comment #60

Isn’t a “first impression” a form of stereotyping. It dictates how we interact with others.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 2:37am by Write4U Comment #61

This is plain and simply an issue of potential threat and physical power imbalance, that many women face everyday.  By definition I suppose this is sexist, but it is an unfortunate reality.  This is not saying all men are rapists, but it is saying that a woman can’t tell for sure, and she has to take reasonable precautions to protect herself.  When faced with a situation that has the potential for rape, damn-straight it creeps her out, and saying so afterwards in very simple terms to express that insecurity is being very honest, acknowledges her vulnerability in that case, and requires courage to do so.

I’ve never experienced it, nor witnessed it directly, but some enactments of rape on tv and movies, clearly shows to me that it is a vile and disgusting criminal act that can suddenly come out of nowhere, and leave horrendous physical and psychological damage in its aftermath.  Most men never have to have worries of such events happening to them enter their grey matter, and so for them to understand can be difficult.  So, try to put yourself in a situation where you could suffer major physical trauma, without knowing for certain when it could be triggered, or who might trigger it, to see what that fear feels like.  The closest it comes to for me is rock climbing…the danger of a trauma or death fall is ever present, and if I get the sense there is something wrong with equipment placement/use (==being in elevator alone with more powerful man), and my belay partner is unknown, lacks proper technique, or isn’t paying attention (==more physically powerful man makes inappropriate request in inappropriate place), then the fear can be overpowering and it takes great composure to keep one’s cool, and continue methodically to try to correct the situation (==politely decline invitation request) to hopefully a satisfactory end (==he doesn’t get pissed off and rape me).

For the women in my life (daughters, wife), I always encourage them to be aware of their surroundings (escape routes, other people around, visibility), be with a trusted friend if at all possible, and never be alone in a confined space with a stranger.  That’s just being pragmatic in the real world we live in.  Not desirable, but at this point in history, in this society, necessary for your own safety.  While she *shouldn’t* have to, perhaps next time Rebecca might want a trusted friend to escort her to her room in similar circumstances?  I agree it sucks to have to do that if a man doesn’t, but that, for now, seems to be the reality.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 4:58am by pragma Comment #62

For the women in my life (daughters, wife), I always encourage them to be aware of their surroundings (escape routes, other people around, visibility),...

The term is “situational awareness,” and it applies to everyone. Goggle that term and there’s a lot on it. Look for the link to a 2006? post by a world renown security firm - they talk about everyone from a kidnapped journalist in Pakistan to a women walking in a parking lot at night.

Situational awareness means that I, as a straight, white male, statistically has less to be concerned about because I’m not

- a black man
- a Hispanic man
- a gay man
- a woman of any race or preference

I can, however, be conscience of that difference and be sympathetic to their situation - at least to the point of not contributing negatively to their situation.

Those who focus on only part of what was said, or compare the incident to other mundane incidents, or what a woman wears (which I encountered elsewhere) have not shown to me that they have good situational awareness.

- asking someone for coffee is not the same thing as asking someone back to your room
- asking someone back to your room for coffee is not the same thing as asking someone back to your room at 4 a.m.
- asking someone back to your room at 4 a.m. Is not the same as asking someone back to your room at 4 a.m. when you’re alone with them in a confined space with no easy exit like an elevator.

There are other considerations I could list, but the bottom line for me is if you can’t understand the other person’s point of view in this instance, then you don’t demonstrate good situational awareness.

And you don’t demonstrate good situational awareness, when the zombie apocalypse comes, I’m definitely tripping you.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 5:32am by TB Comment #63

I’m female and I’d advise her to man up.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 5:43am by fingermouse Comment #64

Ps. I have also been the victim of a real attempted rape, yet I still wouldn’t whine about a guy in an elevator finding me attractive unless there was any real threat.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 5:50am by fingermouse Comment #65

... I still wouldn’t whine about a guy in an elevator finding me attractive unless there was any real threat.

Trip.

PS, I once helped a woman escape from what was developing into a gang rape.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 6:06am by TB Comment #66

Ps. I have also been the victim of a real attempted rape, yet I still wouldn’t whine about a guy in an elevator finding me attractive unless there was any real threat.

That’s fine for you.  Maybe you’re that hypothetical kickboxer mentioned above :)  ... but maybe Rebecca is less combative and just wants to live in a world where fear of strangers is less of a problem.  She wasn’t, IMHO, whining, just pointing out that someone made her feel uncomfortable.  She was also giving out very valid free dating advice:  If you want to come across as a total creep, proposition someone in an elevator or other physically isolated location.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 7:54am by ullrich Comment #67

PZ Myers has provided another link. I’ll continue to stay on the sidelines of this conversation as long as these excellent posts continue.
Please Read
You may want to skip down to the “Manifesto for Change” at the bottom. And as PZ says, “ If you can’t see the value of it, you are the problem.”

A couple important quotes, the author describes her many experiences in the male dominated world and says, “And yet I have had far more negative experiences with men in the skeptic/atheist community than anywhere else.”

This should be cause for concern for a movement that currently is very unpopular.

This situation should have stayed a minor incident, and would have if the man in question would have taken this advice from the posted link,

If a woman calls you out on your behavior, instead of getting angry and defensive, just say, “Wow, I never thought of it like that. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. It wasn’t intentional.” Cop to the behavior, and we can all move on.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 7:56am by Lausten Comment #68

Ps. I have also been the victim of a real attempted rape, yet I still wouldn’t whine about a guy in an elevator finding me attractive unless there was any real threat.

That’s fine for you.  Maybe you’re that hypothetical kickboxer mentioned above :)  ... but maybe Rebecca is less combative and just wants to live in a world where fear of strangers is less of a problem.  She wasn’t, IMHO, whining, just pointing out that someone made her feel uncomfortable.  She was also giving out very valid free dating advice:  If you want to come across as a total creep, proposition someone in an elevator or other physically isolated location.

I’m 5ft tall and thin as a rake, and whimper pretty easily. But still, I accept that as a young woman, especially if I am out at night time, I am likely to be propositioned sometimes. If it is nothing but a question, with no physical threat and no menace, I take it as a compliment. An elevator may not have been the smartest move, but at 4am he was likely drunk or exhausted, or even if he was perfectly sober and lucid, I’d see it as a minor slip up, not worthy of a mention. A guy having asked an attractive woman if she wanted to hang out at a hotel is certainly not worth all this fuss, if you ask me. There’s real sexism to be fighting, after all.

Equality doesn’t mean you have to stop being human. I kind of feel for the guy involved. All she had to say was “thanks, but no thanks” and that could have been the end of it. Instead, his efforts have been made a public misdemeanor for no reason. Who else tells the world about guys they’ve turned down, claiming they’ve been wrongly sexualised?

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 9:55am by fingermouse Comment #69

“Guys, don’t do that,” said Watson. “I was a single woman in a foreign country at 4 am in a hotel elevator with you. Just you. Don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.”

Blame Hollywood. Something similar to that happens in about every spy or political thriller movie I’ve ever seen - and it usually works out for the male protagonist.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 11:56am by AdvancedAtheist Comment #70

“Guys, don’t do that,” said Watson. “I was a single woman in a foreign country at 4 am in a hotel elevator with you. Just you. Don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.”

The paragraph in the article is all that she said.

Why are so many people all over the net so terribly angry at her?

In her original video, she said more after that. When she started saying that people’s reactions were “misogynist” or “sexist”, it wasn’t clear if she was talking about reactions at the conference or (as I thought) she was including elevator guy’s proposition as “misogynist” and “sexist”. Also I think a lot of men and maybe some women are confused when they hear Rebecca use this example as someone unfairly sexualizing her, and we wonder where to draw the line. She doesn’t want to be hit on in the conference, how about six or eight hours after the conference ended? If she was asking that no one who sees her at the conference ever hit on her for at least 48 hours or 2 months, to ensure they were thinking of her as more than just a sexual object during the conference, then she didn’t communicate that clearly. Honestly, if there’s a consensus among women that asking them out on Tuesdays is bad or taboo or ineffective, I think men will listen if only to hone their skills. But if it’s unfair to “sexualize” women or “sexually objectify” them, then how else will the human race continue? Cloning?

All of us who had loving parents are alive now because our parents sexualized each other and sexually objectified each other for some small amount of the time, and some of them were capable of respecting each other and loving each other. Their pillow-talk probably did not include “I respect you as an individual so much right now”. The question is what amount of time can people spend respectfully sexualizing or objectifying each other without being sexist or without just using each other? Watson seemed to be saying zero. That position will get a lot of people talking.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 2:31pm by deidzoeb Comment #71

It’s interesting to note how many people emphasize the scary elevator, emphasize that it was 4 AM and Watson was not in her home country, yet they leave out that she was coming out of the hotel bar at 4 AM, where she had seen or talked to this same guy. (In another interview, she clarified that elevator guy definitely heard her say she was exhausted and going to bed.) After hearing a woman talk about sexism in the skeptic/atheist community and not wanting to get hit on, an intelligent person would probably be very careful about the conditions under which he asks her out, might give a disclaimer like “Don’t take this the wrong way” and point out that he finds her very interesting (maybe just a ploy) and invite her for some coffee and conversation instead of something more direct.

But what does it communicate to people when you hang out in a bar until 4 AM? A woman who hangs out in a bar until 4 AM should not be surprised if someone propositions her, even if she complained earlier in the day the day before about the way people hit on her.

I’m not saying a woman who hangs out in a bar deserves everything bad that might happen to her. But if you dislike getting hit on that much, would you spend all night and most of the next morning in a bar? Do they have bars in your culture? Are you aware of what bars mean and for what purposes people go there in the UK and US? Sorry, but to me that piece of context trumps the fact that he asked in an elevator, or the time of day, or her assumptions that the guy was objectifying her or had no respectful intent.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 2:59pm by deidzoeb Comment #72

You may want to skip down to the “Manifesto for Change” at the bottom. And as PZ says, “ If you can’t see the value of it, you are the problem.”

Oh great. There’s no room for intelligent people to disagree on this. There are only people who are obviously right and people who “don’t get it.”

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 3:05pm by deidzoeb Comment #73

Are you aware of what bars mean and for what purposes people go there in the UK and US?

That trumps all those other things? Really? Bars serve many purposes. For one, they are the places that are open at 4AM. I’m married, so I don’t meet women in bars anymore, but if I was sitting at a table in a bar with you and some women and you said what you just said, I would claim to not be with you.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 3:12pm by Lausten Comment #74

I started a blog and wrote a post: http://www.takenobullshit.com/feminism-and-elevators-part-i “Feminism and Elevators Part I”

Women: You do not have some inalienable right to not be propositioned by men in an innocent fashion, and not all men are rapists or potential rapists.

Men: Don’t be fucking creepy and maybe women won’t over react to your advances. Wait until the elevator door is open and then make your proposition.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 5:13pm by omniomi Comment #75

It is also a matter of environment. An elevator is a small closed area and I can see a natural defensive attitude by any person who is smaller than the person making the propososition. Did anyone cite what was actually said?:

Yes, this man had not said anything or approached her to converse in any way the entire evening. He followed her into the elevator after she left the bar saying she was tired and was going to sleep.

He told her that he liked her talk (about not objectifying all of the women at skeptical/atheist conferences as a way of encouraging female participation, and that she was perosnally tired of getting hit on—apparently some men treat conferences as a personal meat market), and I believe he made a reference to her looks, but after that he DID invite her to his room for ‘coffee’.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011 at 7:21pm by asanta Comment #76

Are you aware of what bars mean and for what purposes people go there in the UK and US?

That trumps all those other things? Really? Bars serve many purposes. For one, they are the places that are open at 4AM. I’m married, so I don’t meet women in bars anymore, but if I was sitting at a table in a bar with you and some women and you said what you just said, I would claim to not be with you.

Yes, when it comes to assessing whether this guy was engaging in sexist or creepy or stalking behavior, it is an important part of the context to consider that this happened in an elevator, the time of night, the fact that this man knew she was far from her home country and not part of a group of travelers, that she had said she dislikes men hitting on her and not respecting her at conferences. Other important parts of the context are that she had apparently seen him earlier in the bar (might have talked to him directly for some length of time for all we know), that he was presumably staying in the same hotel so maybe he would have gotten on the elevator and gone up to his room even if she hadn’t been there (not necessarily stalking her), and that he came out of the same bar that she just came out of at 4 AM.

You would claim not to be with me if I said all that? I’m okay with that. Your mileage may vary. But a lot of this incident comes down to personal judgments of what’s good or bad etiquette, not misogyny or sexism or people who “don’t get it” or some objective position on The Right Way to Respect Women as Watson and some of her supporters seem to paint it.

Posted on Jul 22, 2011 at 5:57am by deidzoeb Comment #77

Yes, this man had not said anything or approached her to converse in any way the entire evening.

Citation needed. There was nothing in Watson’s initial video saying that. She said in a Citizen Radio interview that he was definitely near enough to hear her say she was exhausted and going to bed. Unless she said more about it somewhere else, she may have talked to him at the conference or in the hotel bar.

Also notice that he invited her to his hotel room, presumably in the same hotel and above the ground floor, so it’s misleading to imply that he stalked her into the elevator.

Posted on Jul 22, 2011 at 6:09am by deidzoeb Comment #78

In her original video, she said more after that. When she started saying that people’s reactions were “misogynist” or “sexist”, it wasn’t clear if she was talking about reactions at the conference or (as I thought) she was including elevator guy’s proposition as “misogynist” and “sexist”.

[listen listen]  I think you may be thinking of a memory-corrupted version of this:

5:50, About Mythbusters, Robot Eyes, Feminism, and Jokes, rkwatson.

Then, Aaren[?] posted the video online, and the response was fascinating!

I wanted to thank all of the misogynists who commented on that video, because some people will watch that video, and they’ll think that maybe I’m exaggerating, you know how girls are, sensitive, and then they’ll read your comments!  And they’ll realise exactly how terrible you are, and how it is a problem. So then we can move on with actually helping to stop the problem.  So thank you for not hiding your misogyny, thank you for putting it on display.

And thank you to those of you who are the opposite of that, ...

Just to clearly say what I’m getting at, she’s talking about the comments section on her video, which does not include the one guy (unless he actually went to the video and posted something misogynist afterward).

Without intending to insult anyone in any way, I think you have been reading too much into what she said; I think there are a large number of people who did the same; and I think it is difficult to be a feminist in public without having a dislike and contempt for men read into your words, regardless of what you actually say.  This is an unfortunate state of affairs which does no one any good.

Whoops, not “ibid”.  I put a transcript of her full remarks from 4:19 on the video for people’s convenience, but it made the post too long.

Posted on Jul 22, 2011 at 3:19pm by Contradiction Comment #79

I’m fine with women being sexist against men (to an extent). What I’m not fine with is women falsely claiming not to be sexist against men and at the same time expecting men not to be sexist against women. That’s hypocrisy and a double standard. Sexism, prejudice, and stereotyping, while unfair to those on the receiving end, can be accurate and therefore useful to the one applying them*. I would not expect a woman not to be uncomfortable when stuck in an elevator with a man who just made a seemingly inappropriate proposition. I think it is rational for her to apply stereotypes to this man in order to form a reasonable expectation of his motivations and potential actions. That’s fine. Just don’t fault us men for doing the same.

* src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotyping#Effects.2C_accuracy.2C_terminology . While stereotyping is unfair to those it is being applied to, we cannot expect the stereotyper to completely give up his/her rational self-interest. Should we expect shop owners to be just as weary of well-dressed white people as he/she is of black gangbangers? I think not. So I think the best we can do is strike a balance between stereotyping and not, which is essentially a balance between self and society.

These are some objective and realistic points. Why do I feel that you are the only one addressing the scope of Rebecca’s argument?

Posted on Jul 22, 2011 at 3:44pm by Niner Comment #80

Mountain out of a Molehill, much?

A man with few social skills and less preception, hit on a woman he found attractive in an elevator. She said, “no” and he moved on.

Quick, let us make a huge deal out of something that happens, say 100000 times a day in this world.  Lets also throw in the oppression of women and the fact that there are not a lot of women in the “skepdical movement” and equal it out with a healthy chuck of “feminist angst” and Ms. Watson’s current ‘down with men’ additude.

Can we please talk about something fucking important?

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 6:18am by Old Hoplite Comment #81

Yes, this man had not said anything or approached her to converse in any way the entire evening.

Citation needed. There was nothing in Watson’s initial video saying that. She said in a Citizen Radio interview that he was definitely near enough to hear her say she was exhausted and going to bed. Unless she said more about it somewhere else, she may have talked to him at the conference or in the hotel bar.

Also notice that he invited her to his hotel room, presumably in the same hotel and above the ground floor, so it’s misleading to imply that he stalked her into the elevator.

I said, he followed her into the elevator. I do not know if he was ‘stalking’ her, but if I go into an elevator, and you enter right after me, you are following…
As for talking to her, I will look for a citation, I believe it was mentioned on her skepchick blog that he had not spoken to her.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 9:02am by asanta Comment #82

There really is no right or wrong here.

Some men are not very good with women and find them scary to approach, they are most likely to make an advance when they find themselves alone with the woman they desire and yes quite possibly in the wee hours of the night after a few beers for courage, that’s quite ordinary behavior and not necessarily bad. Also believe it or not some women actually like unplanned illicit connections and might quite like the idea of a spontaneous hook up at 4am which is quite healthy as well. It’s different strokes for different folks, it depends on who is being approached, who is doing the approaching and what mood they are in etc

Some women like Rebecca find a stranger making a pass at her whilst alone creepy and threatening and that’s an equally valid reaction because of the threat of sexual violence but saying men who get the timing wrong are in someway bad people or badly behaved is just plain wrong. It comes from the sexist idea that men are always confident and in control therefore they must be skillful in their interactions with women at all times or risk becoming a creepy dickhead.
I object to the idea that the man always has the power therefore his advance is some kind of encroachment on her privacy and must be done with utmost sensitivity and charm and that if he falls short in the sensitivity or charm stakes or chooses the wrong moment he is being a creepy dickhead.

I’m crap with women and have never found a way to approach women confidently but that shouldn’t brand me as a bad person by default. I’m not being a sexist pig, I’m just being a nervous guy. Heart racing, tripping over my words and waiting for the moment when I can ask you in private instead of potentially crashing and burning with an audience.

That’s where this whole debate is wrong it assumes that men always approach women from a position of power and confidence therefore if his advance is clumsy or ill timed it must be because he is an inconsiderate bastard instead of just another vulnerable flawed human being bumbling along.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 10:57am by brucep Comment #83

Just to clearly say what I’m getting at, she’s talking about the comments section on her video, which does not include the one guy (unless he actually went to the video and posted something misogynist afterward).

Without intending to insult anyone in any way, I think you have been reading too much into what she said; I think there are a large number of people who did the same; and I think it is difficult to be a feminist in public without having a dislike and contempt for men read into your words, regardless of what you actually say.  This is an unfortunate state of affairs which does no one any good.

You may be right. It was difficult to tell from the video which of events she was criticizing as sexist or misogynist.

For what it’s worth, I agree with most of the points Watson raised before and apart from the Elevator incident. The atheist/skeptic community seems likely to be about as sexist as the larger society its drawn from. I’ve been disgusted by most of the knee-jerk sexist and anti-feminist comments and replies. I don’t find it hard to believe that she gets mistreated, disrespected or hit on at conferences. I didn’t think the elevator incident was an egregious example of that though.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 11:39am by deidzoeb Comment #84

Rebecca,

I swear on my ancestors’ collective graves that if I ever meet you, in an elevator or otherwise, I will most certainly not flirt with you in any way.  You have a truly unattractive personality.  Should I ever have an erection, and then think of you at the same time, you will surely cause it to crawl back up into my body cavity.

Oh wait, it’s not PC to mention erections, is it?  Clearly, a proper atheist should pretend that human procreation occurs as the result of immaculate conception.

Where to start with your nonsense?

Let’s start with what Chris Mooney didn’t touch on, because he was too busy kissing your ass.  Wait, not supposed to mention ass either.  That would be objectifying women.  Kissing your “human chair/couch interface organ”.  Your response to Richard Dawkins’ criticism was to say that you’d never again recommend Dawkins’ work on science or atheism, which you’ve previously stated technical admiration for.  I cannot possibly dream up a better indication that you, as a habit, are prone to blow things out of proportion.  Whether or not you and Dawkins can agree on the proper etiquette for heterosexual interaction in elevators, anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that issue as utterly inconsequential is completely insane.  That you would use a personal difference concerning a trivial issue as justification for dismissal of unrelated technical content, that you claim to agree with, is absolutely a reinforcement of one of the most pervasive female stereotypes that you surely must recognize is detrimental to your gender:  that women cannot be reliably rational.  That as soon as you bring emotion into the equation, the stereotype goes, their fragile emotional response swamps any rational dimension to the issue.  Nice going.  Way to live the cliche.

As far as the original disagreement, you should listen to yourself pleading for your elevator buddy to have a little empathy, while you clearly have zero empathy for his situation.  Zero.  I’m going to assume you’ve never been a man, but let me clue you in to a few things.  You must forgive the condescending tone, but as you used it to lecture men about how we’re supposed to behave, you have a healthy dose of this coming.

In all modern western cultures, women hold all the cards when it comes to social interactions.  The male dominated game you so hate playing in the workplace is completely reversed in our social world.  Men are the ones that must put out the extra effort in order to prove themselves worthy of social opportunity, and women are simply able to sit back, and coldly decide which suitors to grace with their favor.  You have no idea how good you have it.  (Please, no ridiculous anecdotal replies from women about how THEY met their husbands by asking them out .... the vast majority of heterosexual interactions must be male initiated).  Not to mention the fact that you were presumably both nonbelievers.  I’ve had about a dozen serious relationships in my life (and am atheist), and exactly one of those women was a non-believer.  One.  If I were to actually find a non-believer woman who was even mildly tolerable (which you’re not), I would absolutely be doing cartwheels of joy just for the opportunity to talk with her.

This very polite gentleman in the elevator may just have been smitten with you.  Or he could have just been trying to get in your pants.  But, let me tell you something.  You, and your “women’s intuition” have absolutely no clue which one it was, regardless of what this man was doing with his eyes, or eyebrows, or which direction his palms were facing, or any of the other ridiculous criteria I’ve heard so many women admit to paying attention to.

Finding a mate is really, really hard.  Really hard.  You have to ask a lot of women to get a few good opportunities at finding a match.  If men were to behave as you apparently think we should, waiting for the perfect non-elevator environment, we’d never have sex, or fall in love.  I’m sorry, but an “abstinence-only” life is not a reasonable sacrifice for men to make to appease your OCD obsession with dating etiquette.

Asking someone to your room is tough.  It takes courage to do.  It also hurts when you get turned down, so I’m sure this guy didn’t want to do it with other people around for fear of being humiliated, which in retrospect was a real possibility given your lack of any shred of empathy or civility.  And what’s the obsession with 4am?  Is there an approved time of day that men are supposed to know about, when it’s ok to ask someone for coffee?  If you’re even out at 4am, he’s probably thinking that you’re at least single, and not heading back to your room early to call your significant other,  which infinitely increases his chances.

Your comment about getting hit on at skeptics’ pub events was also laughable. News flash: that’s what most people use pubs for.  Drinking and flirting. That’s what they’re for.  If you want to converse with atheists in an environment sans flirting, don’t go to a pub, you flaming moron.  Skeptics Night at the Library would probably be more your style.

It’s sad that Chris Mooney played the classic liberal “I’m apologizing for merely having a penis” role.  (BTW, I’m a political liberal science-type, too ... I just haven’t acquiesced to the self-castration movement).  When men tolerate this absurd behavior from the fringe feminism movement, it simply encourages them.  Incidentally, I’m also very much in favor of women’s rights, and would vote for an equal rights amendment in a heartbeat.  I’d also love to work in an industry that wasn’t 80% men.  But, people like Watson are not for equal treatment for women.  They want to hold the rest of us to higher standards than they’re personally willing to be held to.  Standards like empathy, and sensitivity.

Jesus H.W. Christ, I wish I were gay sometimes.  (no replies from gay guys, either.  I know your life’s hard. it was a joke)

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 3:25pm by n8r0n Comment #85

I’d also like to draw another comparison to this situation.  At the risk of offending gay people, since the left-leaning skeptic community seems to be drunk on PC kool-aid, I think there are some real similarities between this situation, and gay pair bonding.  (NOTE: I didn’t say that they are the same, just that there are similarities).

I’m sure many women would respond to my previous post with some variation on the argument that I just don’t know what it’s like to be a woman.  Very true.  You don’t know what it’s like to be a man, so why don’t we just drop that ridiculous point?

I actually do think that for some people, such as myself, trying to mate within the non-believer community is a bit like homosexual mating.  I’m heterosexual, and have found that many women have a strong need in a relationship to be “respected” by their mates.  Fair enough.  The problem for me is that I have a real hard time respecting someone who’s religious.  I know apologists like Chris Mooney will be aghast, but I happen to believe that if you think there’s a god, even remotely resembling what’s described by most religions, then you’re nuts.  You have a serious reality deficiency.  So, that pretty much means I’m going to need to find a non-believer woman.

Let’s say that gays represent about 10% of the population.  That’s probably not too far off the number of non-believing women (which incidentally is lower than the number of non-believing men, by a statistically significant margin).  So, while it is true that I can find mere sexual partners in about 45% of the world’s population, the numbers for reasonable matches is far fewer.  And, somewhat similar to gays, part of the problem is that not all of the potential matches are “out of the closet”.  I’m sure there are plenty of women I’ve met that are atheists, who just weren’t open about it.

Long story short, if you’re an atheist male, you’ve got a harder time finding a mate than the religious hetero masses.  So, you’re going to have to be a bit more willing to take risks and be proactive, to find your soul-mate (like Mr. Elevator did)

And I do know what it feels like to have unwanted advances.  I get hit on by men all the time at the gym.  And I always, always, always take it as a compliment and politely deflect their advances.  Because I know how tough it is for them to find a match.  I don’t lash out at them, saying “hey Homo, I’m trying to work in a few reps on my glutes here, and you’re busy objectifying me”.  I feel grateful for the compliment implied in their advances, and see the glass as half full.

Now, I admit that this comparison doesn’t include the full similarity to the heterosexual experience, in the sense that women may be sensitive specifically because of the issue of sexual assault.  I will note, however, that heterosexual men actually do know what that’s like, as many hetero boys get molested by men when they’re young (often, by men wearing dresses ... and crucifixes).  Yes, that risk for men does drop significantly once we reach physical maturity, and can defend ourselves better against physical advances.

But, you can’t pull out the “Rape Card” every time you get propositioned, ladies.  The infamous elevator incident included no reasonable indication of looming assault.  If that’s really how you feel, then you have a condition that needs psychiatric rehabilitation.  The majority of men (non-believers especially, statistics show) are not rapists, and are revolted by the thought of sexual violence against women.  We don’t deserve to be treated like we’re all sex offenders.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 4:19pm by n8r0n Comment #86

I don’t find it hard to believe that she gets mistreated, disrespected or hit on at conferences. I didn’t think the elevator incident was an egregious example of that though.

Yeah.  Well, I guess she had the impression that there might be some danger.  But, I think it was more like, the one memorable thing that happened that day.

Although, it’s sort of hard to quantify why one does or doesn’t feel threatened.  It’s not 100% one way or the other (contra omniomi).  It’s like, by default, a university-educated guy has about 4% chance of being a multiple rapist*, and then you could use a Bayesian approach to decide on your risk in a particular situation.

*: This comes from a 2002 Harvard study, “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending among Undetected Rapists.” (n=1882, male university students)
http://www.innovations.harvard.edu/cache/documents/1348/134851.pdf
Sorry to inject this somewhat depressing note.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 4:34pm by Contradiction Comment #87

I think it would be epically generous to suggest that women are using Bayesian statistics when generating responses to such situations.  (or maybe wishful thinking :)  )

It’s like free market fundamentalist economists who assert that the masses conduct these intricate cost benefit analyses when performing “price discovery” in markets.

As Mooney has discussed in previous podcasts, people (men and women) are emotional beings, who formulate responses based on emotion, then search for justification based on reason.  Obviously, some present company excluded.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 4:48pm by n8r0n Comment #88

The other outrageous hypocrisy in Watson’s behaviour, that I haven’t yet seen discussed, is how incredibly insensitive of her it was to even use this personal example at all.

There is no reason she couldn’t have made up an equivalent hypothetical scenario to illustrate her point about not hitting on women.  She drew from a personal experience, though.

Did she use the guy’s name?  No.  Chances are, though, some other people who were out late with them probably figured out who she was talking about.  Not to mention, that it’s almost guaranteed that the guy who asked her to coffee himself, has probably heard about this whole incident (Watson making an example of him).

As I said before, getting turned down sucks.  It totally knocks the wind out of you.  Add to that, for this guy, that thousands upon thousands of people are now critiquing his “game”.  Whether they all know it’s him is irrelevant.  He knows!

My (non-existent) god!  This guy might never be able to ask anyone out again!  If there’s any possible way to turn someone gay, this has got to be it :)

Just another example of how ludicrous it is for Watson to lecture men about how they just need to be a little more sensitive to what the opposite sex is feeling.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 5:03pm by n8r0n Comment #89

The other outrageous hypocrisy in Watson’s behaviour, that I haven’t yet seen discussed, is how incredibly insensitive of her it was to even use this personal example at all.

There is no reason she couldn’t have made up an equivalent hypothetical scenario to illustrate her point about not hitting on women.  She drew from a personal experience, though.

Did she use the guy’s name?  No.  Chances are, though, some other people who were out late with them probably figured out who she was talking about.  Not to mention, that it’s almost guaranteed that the guy who asked her to coffee himself, has probably heard about this whole incident (Watson making an example of him).

As I said before, getting turned down sucks.  It totally knocks the wind out of you.  Add to that, for this guy, that thousands upon thousands of people are now critiquing his “game”.  Whether they all know it’s him is irrelevant.  He knows!

My (non-existent) god!  This guy might never be able to ask anyone out again!  If there’s any possible way to turn someone gay, this has got to be it :)

Just another example of how ludicrous it is for Watson to lecture men about how they just need to be a little more sensitive to what the opposite sex is feeling.

So NOW you are criticizing Rebecca because she refuses to play the passive/aggressive game? Because she didn’t use a hypothetical situation instead of a real one? You are more concerned about the feelings of an anonymous man that the fact she felt threatened in an elevator?? I’m beginning to think YOU are the elevator guy…and you STILL don’t get it.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 5:43pm by asanta Comment #90

Just to clearly say what I’m getting at, she’s talking about the comments section on her video, which does not include the one guy (unless he actually went to the video and posted something misogynist afterward).

Without intending to insult anyone in any way, I think you have been reading too much into what she said; I think there are a large number of people who did the same; and I think it is difficult to be a feminist in public without having a dislike and contempt for men read into your words, regardless of what you actually say.  This is an unfortunate state of affairs which does no one any good.

You may be right. It was difficult to tell from the video which of events she was criticizing as sexist or misogynist.

For what it’s worth, I agree with most of the points Watson raised before and apart from the Elevator incident. The atheist/skeptic community seems likely to be about as sexist as the larger society its drawn from. I’ve been disgusted by most of the knee-jerk sexist and anti-feminist comments and replies. I don’t find it hard to believe that she gets mistreated, disrespected or hit on at conferences. I didn’t think the elevator incident was an egregious example of that though.

So are you calling Rebecca a liar?.. :-/

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 5:45pm by asanta Comment #91

Listen. carefully. to. her. video. Rebecca. DOES. say. the. man. had. NEVER. spoken. to her…

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 5:46pm by asanta Comment #92

The other outrageous hypocrisy in Watson’s behaviour, that I haven’t yet seen discussed, is how incredibly insensitive of her it was to even use this personal example at all.

There is no reason she couldn’t have made up an equivalent hypothetical scenario to illustrate her point about not hitting on women.  She drew from a personal experience, though.

Did she use the guy’s name?  No.  Chances are, though, some other people who were out late with them probably figured out who she was talking about.  Not to mention, that it’s almost guaranteed that the guy who asked her to coffee himself, has probably heard about this whole incident (Watson making an example of him).

As I said before, getting turned down sucks.  It totally knocks the wind out of you.  Add to that, for this guy, that thousands upon thousands of people are now critiquing his “game”.  Whether they all know it’s him is irrelevant.  He knows!

My (non-existent) god!  This guy might never be able to ask anyone out again!  If there’s any possible way to turn someone gay, this has got to be it :)

Just another example of how ludicrous it is for Watson to lecture men about how they just need to be a little more sensitive to what the opposite sex is feeling.

The incident doesn’t have anything to do with being turned down by women. Your being immature.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 6:01pm by mid atlantic Comment #93

Rebecca has a new-ish video on her website (skepchick.org) giving free dating advice based on the elevator guy incident.  It is hilarious.  FWIW, I think she’s entirely right to make a bit of a fuss about not so much the incident which was relatively innocuous, but about the reaction from all the trolls out there who went way over the top in criticizing her response to it.  One of the wonderful things about the internet is that it draws out all the uncensored hurtful comments from all the creeps out there who would never dream of saying anything at all to a woman if confronted with one face to face.  I suspect if no one had commented on her initial video, she would have left it at that.

The point is that no matter how drunk you are, you can expect to get more than a little resentment back if you “corner a woman alone in an elevator at 4am” and proposition her.  Seems reasonable, unless the woman in question is the proverbial kickboxer mentioned above.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 at 10:38pm by ullrich Comment #94

I don’t find it hard to believe that she gets mistreated, disrespected or hit on at conferences. I didn’t think the elevator incident was an egregious example of that though.

Yeah.  Well, I guess she had the impression that there might be some danger.  But, I think it was more like, the one memorable thing that happened that day.

Although, it’s sort of hard to quantify why one does or doesn’t feel threatened.  It’s not 100% one way or the other (contra omniomi).  It’s like, by default, a university-educated guy has about 4% chance of being a multiple rapist*, and then you could use a Bayesian approach to decide on your risk in a particular situation.

*: This comes from a 2002 Harvard study, “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending among Undetected Rapists.” (n=1882, male university students)
http://www.innovations.harvard.edu/cache/documents/1348/134851.pdf
Sorry to inject this somewhat depressing note.

If we’re talking about the danger of riding alone in elevators with boys, then I don’t see how getting men to be enlightened and proposition women under different circumstances would solve or help the problem at all. If safety is the issue here instead of men respecting women, then the solution is having armed air marshalls or guards stationed in elevators. Asking men to proposition differently won’t convince potential attackers to attack differently. It would make more sense to make sure everyone is safe everywhere, to the best of our ability, and then it shouldn’t be a factor in whether one person is being considerate to some other person who feels threatened.

Posted on Jul 24, 2011 at 4:25am by deidzoeb Comment #95

For what it’s worth, I agree with most of the points Watson raised before and apart from the Elevator incident. The atheist/skeptic community seems likely to be about as sexist as the larger society its drawn from. I’ve been disgusted by most of the knee-jerk sexist and anti-feminist comments and replies. I don’t find it hard to believe that she gets mistreated, disrespected or hit on at conferences. I didn’t think the elevator incident was an egregious example of that though.

So are you calling Rebecca a liar?.. :-/

Disagreeing with her opinion of the situation is not the same as calling her a “liar.” She’s entitled to her feelings, I’m not saying she should never feel threatened or creeped out. Maybe she should reconsider hanging out in bars until 4 AM if she feels threatened or creeped out by people hitting on her. I would feel creeped out walking down a dark alley late at night, maybe even walking through my neighborhood late at night—so I avoid that situation. Silly me.

Posted on Jul 24, 2011 at 4:41am by deidzoeb Comment #96

Listen. carefully. to. her. video. Rebecca. DOES. say. the. man. had. NEVER. spoken. to her…

Hi asanta. I am listening carefully to the original video again from 4 minutes on, listening to it twice. I don’t hear what you claim she said. Could you specify at what point in the video, how many minutes into it, you hear Watson saying that the man had never spoken to her before? Was it in some other video than the one she titled “About Mythbusters, Robot Eyes, Feminism, and Jokes”?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKHwduG1Frk

Posted on Jul 24, 2011 at 4:52am by deidzoeb Comment #97

Rebecca has a new-ish video on her website (skepchick.org) giving free dating advice based on the elevator guy incident.  It is hilarious.  FWIW, I think she’s entirely right to make a bit of a fuss about not so much the incident which was relatively innocuous, but about the reaction from all the trolls out there who went way over the top in criticizing her response to it.  One of the wonderful things about the internet is that it draws out all the uncensored hurtful comments from all the creeps out there who would never dream of saying anything at all to a woman if confronted with one face to face.  I suspect if no one had commented on her initial video, she would have left it at that.

The point is that no matter how drunk you are, you can expect to get more than a little resentment back if you “corner a woman alone in an elevator at 4am” and proposition her.  Seems reasonable, unless the woman in question is the proverbial kickboxer mentioned above.

You put that part in quotation marks as if those are the important bits of context to the situation. I would have described it as “corner a woman alone in an elevator, after you and she just came out of a bar at 4 AM”. And since the guy was inviting her to his hotel room, we can presume he was staying at the same hotel, maybe off the ground floor, so is it accurate to say he “cornered” her in the elevator, possibly on the way up to his own room?

I think resentment is misplaced when you get hit on coming out of a bar at 4 in the morning, unless this was maybe a person who has never been in a bar before and doesn’t really understand western culture.

Posted on Jul 24, 2011 at 4:57am by deidzoeb Comment #98

I’d also like to draw another comparison to this situation.  At the risk of offending gay people, since the left-leaning skeptic community seems to be drunk on PC kool-aid, I think there are some real similarities between this situation, and gay pair bonding.  (NOTE: I didn’t say that they are the same, just that there are similarities)...

Long story short, if you’re an atheist male, you’ve got a harder time finding a mate than the religious hetero masses.  So, you’re going to have to be a bit more willing to take risks and be proactive, to find your soul-mate (like Mr. Elevator did)

... The majority of men (non-believers especially, statistics show) are not rapists, and are revolted by the thought of sexual violence against women.  We don’t deserve to be treated like we’re all sex offenders.

Thank you for making a damned good point and being the first to perform the remarkable feat of showing me why this incident is, in any way, relevant to the podcast series. Your point demonstrates that she is even more misguided than I first thought and you’ve given me one more reason to be disappointed with Chris Mooney for giving her this forum.  I friggin’ live for this podcast and I almost wanted to cry when I realized I’d have to wait another week for some real content. I’m not invalidating the discussion, but this conversation is probably happening at about a million places on the web right now and the results are probably similar.

Don’t distract me with anecdotes. If this is really important to her, Watson should step away from her webcam and design an experiment to support her notion that men/women/skeptics are more likely than anyone else to “not get” whatever.  You have the right to claim that men are pigs, provided you operationally define the term and generate some replicable data. We are, by definition, a community that expects people to put something behind their claims. Mooney failed to hold Watson to this standard. The past two female guests didn’t discuss the role of women in the skeptical community and may have been stunned if their respective hosts had asked them.  Why? Probably because they were both established scholars with a history of research to discuss.  This week we got a blogger who, as Smileys pointed out, is willing to throw Richard Dawkins’ work into the fire over a smug comment. (Then again, Richard Dawkins noticed her, didn’t he?) Here’s to the day when Dawkins and the rest of us can fuss over her scholarly contributions to the skeptical community.

48 hours until a new podcast…

Posted on Jul 24, 2011 at 7:43am by shawnpat Comment #99

If we’re talking about the danger of riding alone in elevators with boys, then I don’t see how getting men to be enlightened and proposition women under different circumstances would solve or help the problem at all. If safety is the issue here instead of men respecting women, then the solution is having armed air marshalls or guards stationed in elevators. Asking men to proposition differently won’t convince potential attackers to attack differently. It would make more sense to make sure everyone is safe everywhere, to the best of our ability, and then it shouldn’t be a factor in whether one person is being considerate to some other person who feels threatened.

What?  No no, let me reiterate what the problem is.  I’m sure I’ve said this in another message too, but I believe in being a first-rate host.

Watson mentioned the fact that she was hit on and it made her uncomfortable in public. As a consequence of that, she got a lot of flak.  The problem is that one does get flak for it.

However, I definitely appreciate many aspects of the idea of having air marshals stationed everywhere, constantly, and I will look into it should I ever become an insane, tyrannical monarch.

Posted on Jul 24, 2011 at 11:50am by Contradiction Comment #100

I think it would be epically generous to suggest that women are using Bayesian statistics…

The word “suggest” is taking a lot of strain in this conversation.  But sure, let’s talk about whether women are using Bayesian statistics.  It’s not like doing a binary Bayesian update is incredibly hard.

To pick a completely random example, let’s talk about the case that everyone is obsessively discussing in this thread!

You start with the estimated 4% chance of a randomly chosen guy being a multiple rapist.*  Then, and this is admittedly a somewhat tricky bit, ask yourself: how much more likely is a rapist to behave in this way than a non-rapist?

What we know about “that one guy” is:

- “I find your ideas interesting.  Do you want to come back to my room for coffee” or whatever, it’s just an example
- Not talking to them at all in the bar
- Following them out (probably), and hitting on them while there was no one else around

Let’s say rapists do this about two times as often as non-rapists.

So, you multiply 4% by two, and get an 8% chance that the guy is a rapist.

If my emotions were motivating me, I would usually guess that the person in question isn’t a rapist.  And the safe guess would be that they are.  For anything in between those two extremes, the use of reason or something would be necessary.

*: An odds ratio of 0.04/0.96 ≈ 0.04.
More precisely, you multiply the odds ratio of 0.04 by 2, and get the updated odds ratio 0.08.

Posted on Jul 25, 2011 at 3:28am by Contradiction Comment #101

Should I ever have an erection, and then think of you at the same time, you will surely cause it to crawl back up into my body cavity.

`
Uh, to crawl ‘back’ up into your body cavity?  are you suggesting that that’s its usual home?  ;)

`

Posted on Jul 25, 2011 at 4:51am by Axegrrl Comment #102

Uh, to crawl ‘back’ up into your body cavity?  are you suggesting that that’s its usual home?  ;)

My favourite part about that is that his main objections about Watson are that she was not polite and considerate enough.

But I don’t really have anything to say about those posts.

Posted on Jul 25, 2011 at 5:25am by Contradiction Comment #103

I just hope that Rebecca can find the strength to get past this horrendous incident.

Posted on Jul 25, 2011 at 6:04am by Vic333 Comment #104

Here is how I read this whole mess:

1) Man on the elevator makes a pretty awkward and ill-timed offer, which is probably as innocent as it could be considering the circumstances.
2) Rebecca later mentions that this made her uncomfortable, which I don’t doubt it did.
3) Finally, her admonishment “don’t do that, guys”.

This seems to me to be reasonable.

The flap starts when people start adding straw man arguments onto both sides.

1) Some questioning that elevator man was anything more than socially inept.
2) Others taking Rebecca’s very sensible request, and grafting way more meaning onto it than she intended.

The reason has just flown right out the window.

For a bunch of reasonable people, this has gotten very much unreasonable…..

Posted on Jul 25, 2011 at 7:28am by tamoore Comment #105

An eminently reasonable observation…. :cheese:

If I, as a man was confined in a small place with a 250 lb man who propositioned me, I would feel more than uncomfortable.
Thus for a woman to be in a similar position, I can well understand her discomfort. If it was worthy of a podcast… :roll: ?

Posted on Jul 25, 2011 at 2:11pm by Write4U Comment #106

An eminently reasonable observation…. :cheese:

If I, as a man was confined in a small place with a 250 lb man who propositioned me, I would feel more than uncomfortable.
Thus for a woman to be in a similar position, I can well understand her discomfort. If it was worthy of a podcast… :roll: ?

I’m a short arse and I fancy taller women does that mean I’m exempt from this law?

Posted on Jul 25, 2011 at 4:41pm by brucep Comment #107

An eminently reasonable observation…. :cheese:

If I, as a man was confined in a small place with a 250 lb man who propositioned me, I would feel more than uncomfortable.
Thus for a woman to be in a similar position, I can well understand her discomfort. If it was worthy of a podcast… :roll: ?

I’m a short arse and I fancy taller women does that mean I’m exempt from this law?

I’m sure her level of discomfort would be lower, so you would indeed have an advantage….. ;-)

Posted on Jul 25, 2011 at 8:52pm by Write4U Comment #108

I cannot imagine anyone being displeased by flattery. There were several occasions where I paid a total female stranger a compliment on a physical feature, i.e hair, eyes, hands, ankles, feet, dressmode, or elegance of movement. Of course I did not follow this up with a proposition, thus allowing the person to drop a reflexive defense and enjoy the moment.

Posted on Jul 25, 2011 at 9:01pm by Write4U Comment #109

An eminently reasonable observation…. :cheese:

If I, as a man was confined in a small place with a 250 lb man who propositioned me, I would feel more than uncomfortable.
Thus for a woman to be in a similar position, I can well understand her discomfort. If it was worthy of a podcast… :roll: ?

It wasn’t initially a podcast. It was initially a comment thrown out as an aside, on a video she made about her trip to Dublin. The ensuing overblown kerfuffle is what eventually turned it into (several) podcasts, each with its own position—none of them present at the initial incident, and very few who listened to the original video.. :shut:

Posted on Jul 26, 2011 at 2:04am by asanta Comment #110

Another little tragicomedy…... :shut:

Posted on Jul 26, 2011 at 3:02am by Write4U Comment #111

I enjoy Point of Inquiry because it’s usually an oasis away from left/right partisanship.  Simple, cold, linear logic.  So I was not pleased to hear this week’s garden variety left wing claptrap.  Note that Ms. Watson wasn’t complaning about any objective reality, but rather her subjective perception of it.  Utter nonsense.  Others should remain silent for fear of offending this delicate flower.  I would hope that feminism is about an empowered woman who can speak up for herself.  Oh, and there is no right to not be offended.  For example, I may be offended by the speech of joyless harridans but I fully support their right to scold as they choose.

Posted on Jul 26, 2011 at 4:25am by lpointmpoint Comment #112

Oh, and there is no right to not be offended.

I don’t recall her ever asking for this right to be defended. Her tone in the original video had the sense of an explanation to the many bumbling men who are incapable of executing a decent pick-up line. If you are not in that category, she wasn’t addressing you. The most likely place men will learn this is in school. Their friends will observe them or listen to their stories and offer advice. Nerds who don’t have friends who are successful at picking up girls don’t get that chance.

What this mess has highlighted is a very old problem. There is no universal standard of ethics that applies to all situations. As I began to select causes to work on in my 20’s, I was surprised to find that although someone might agree with me that we needed to clean up polluted rivers, they might not agree with my views on race relations. I might find partners who want to end one war or another, but for very different reasons. I can describe an underlying value system for why I do the things I do, so when someone is standing beside me at a soup kitchen and says something demeaning about women, I can’t figure out what their values are.

I’m trying to embrace the diversity and let people be who they are. There is a talk over at Center Stage that addresses in relation to the trends in atheism. Only a small percentage of people use the strong atheism label, and they are probably the leaders of the movement. But if they don’t find a way to embrace some of the 75% of people who didn’t go to church this Sunday, the movement will continue to spin it’s wheels.

Posted on Jul 26, 2011 at 8:00am by Lausten Comment #113

However, I definitely appreciate many aspects of the idea of having air marshals stationed everywhere, constantly, and I will look into it should I ever become an insane, tyrannical monarch.

“Air marshal” was a joke. Sorry it doesn’t always come across well in text.

Posted on Jul 26, 2011 at 5:28pm by deidzoeb Comment #114

However, I definitely appreciate many aspects of the idea of having air marshals stationed everywhere, constantly, and I will look into it should I ever become an insane, tyrannical monarch.

“Air marshal” was a joke. Sorry it doesn’t always come across well in text.

I think Contradiction got the joke. Seems s/he just expounded on the thought…... :cheese:

Posted on Jul 26, 2011 at 5:47pm by Write4U Comment #115

Should I ever have an erection, and then think of you at the same time, you will surely cause it to crawl back up into my body cavity.

`
Uh, to crawl ‘back’ up into your body cavity?  are you suggesting that that’s its usual home?  ;)

`

Why did that give me a visual of a chameleon?.. :cheese:

Posted on Jul 26, 2011 at 5:50pm by Write4U Comment #116

I think Contradiction got the joke. Seems s/he just expounded on the thought…... :cheese:

No, I didn’t~ Wasn’t it your (deidzoeb’s) serious recommendation for a way to improve people’s safety?

However, on rereading, perhaps what I wrote came across as very sarcastic?  I just thought that having police officers standing around in every elevator all of the time was a funny image.

My university has a free ‘Safewalk’ service where you can call student volunteers at night and they’ll walk with you across campus.  So it’s not like that general category of “having someone around at night” is stupid.  But undercover police officers in the elevator is a little over the top. :)

Posted on Jul 26, 2011 at 10:49pm by Contradiction Comment #117

I think Contradiction got the joke. Seems s/he just expounded on the thought…... :cheese:

No, I didn’t~ Wasn’t it your (deidzoeb’s) serious recommendation for a way to improve people’s safety?

There are a lot of posts coming and going on this thread, so you might have missed when I wrote: ’ “Air marshal” was a joke. Sorry it doesn’t always come across well in text.’

Posted on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:33am by deidzoeb Comment #118

It’s remarkable to me that RW, who’s supposed to be a skeptical and
feminist leader, can write what she did about Richard Dawkins (her The
Privilege Delusion post), and THAT isn’t what people are riled up about—
instead of her remarks about the elevator incident and Dawkins’ response to
them. Playing lots of “name that logical fallacy” and becoming a feminist don’t
seem to have prepared her to handle the situation at all well.

Posted on Jul 30, 2011 at 4:25am by Curt Nelson Comment #119

Skepchick reminds me of the girl in this cartoon (the imaginary one, not the real one, the real ones lose out because of experiences guys have with girls like Skepchick):
http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/creepy.png

That said, while I think her attitude of getting offended every time a guy flirts with her or hots on her, the elevator guy was probably purposely trying to goad her/get a rise out of her, and boy did he succeed!

Posted on Jul 30, 2011 at 10:21am by Citizen of Dis Comment #120

It’s remarkable to me that RW, who’s supposed to be a skeptical and
feminist leader, can write what she did about Richard Dawkins (her The
Privilege Delusion post), and THAT isn’t what people are riled up about—
instead of her remarks about the elevator incident and Dawkins’ response to
them. Playing lots of “name that logical fallacy” and becoming a feminist don’t
seem to have prepared her to handle the situation at all well.

Lets start with your Straw Man.

Posted on Jul 30, 2011 at 2:36pm by asanta Comment #121

It’s remarkable to me that RW, who’s supposed to be a skeptical and
feminist leader, can write what she did about Richard Dawkins (her The
Privilege Delusion post), and THAT isn’t what people are riled up about—
instead of her remarks about the elevator incident and Dawkins’ response to
them. Playing lots of “name that logical fallacy” and becoming a feminist don’t
seem to have prepared her to handle the situation at all well.

What is it that she wrote?  I read the post, but…

Posted on Jul 31, 2011 at 2:09am by Contradiction Comment #122

Skepchick reminds me of the girl in this cartoon (the imaginary one, not the real one, the real ones lose out because of experiences guys have with girls like Skepchick):
http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/creepy.png

That said, while I think her attitude of getting offended every time a guy flirts with her or hots on her, the elevator guy was probably purposely trying to goad her/get a rise out of her, and boy did he succeed!

So, in other words, you view Watson as totally justified?

Actually, maybe I can get you to argue with each other.

Rebecca Watson, “The Privilege Delusion”:

So I started speaking more about women. About how they’re not idiots. About how they can think logically but maybe there are other social pressures keeping them away from our message, like how we tell women they should be quiet and polite and not question what is told to them. I spoke about how people need role models, and there were so few women on stage at these events.

And I got messages from women who told me about how they had trouble attending pub gatherings and other events because they felt uncomfortable in a room full of men. They told me about how they were hit on constantly and it drove them away. I didn’t fully get it at the time, because I didn’t mind getting hit on. But I acknowledged their right to feel that way and I started suggesting to the men that maybe they relax a little and not try to get in the pants of every woman who walks through the door. Maybe they could wait for her to make the first move, just in case.

And then, for the past few years as the audience for Skepchick and SGU grew, I’ve had more and more messages from men who tell me what they’d like to do to me, sexually. More and more men touching me without permission at conferences. More and more threats of rape from those who don’t agree with me, even from those who consider themselves skeptics and atheists. More and more people telling me to shut up and go back to talking about Bigfoot and other topics that really matter.

And I said no. I learned more about modern feminism and about how their goals so clearly overlapped those of the humanists and skeptics and secularists, and I wrote and spoke more about the issues within that overlap because so few other skeptics were doing it.

So here we are today. I am a feminist, because skeptics and atheists made me one.

Posted on Jul 31, 2011 at 2:11am by Contradiction Comment #123

“Well, PZ Myers, Jen McCreight, Phil Plait, Amanda Marcotte, Greg Laden, Melissa McEwan and others have all already said it, but I figured I should post this for the record: yes, Richard Dawkins believes I should be a good girl and just shut up about being sexually objectified because it doesn’t bother him. Thanks, wealthy old heterosexual white man!”

That’s the opening paragraph of RW’s The Privilege Delusion post. It’s hard to get past it. RW’s comments about her elevator incident were reasonable. RD’s response was insensitive; he had another point of view and communicated it sarcastically. It’s all interesting but beyond that?…

But RW - a person who calls herself skepchick, titles a regular section of her blog “quickies,” and finishes her brief bio on the SGU website with: She occasionally poses in skeptic pin-up calendars… well, I’d say she pretty well sexually objectifies herself. Anyway, RD certainly didn’t give his okay to her being sexually objectified. She focuses her sharpest argument with: Thanks, wealthy old… and indicates she will no longer be promoting his books—because of course all his intellectual creations are soured because he’s a jerk!! She didn’t call him a jerk; that’s just me making my point: Her response to him is illogical, irrational, mean.

Posted on Jul 31, 2011 at 9:09am by Curt Nelson Comment #124

“Well, PZ Myers, Jen McCreight, Phil Plait, Amanda Marcotte, Greg Laden, Melissa McEwan and others have all already said it, but I figured I should post this for the record: yes, Richard Dawkins believes I should be a good girl and just shut up about being sexually objectified because it doesn’t bother him. Thanks, wealthy old heterosexual white man!”

That’s the opening paragraph of RW’s The Privilege Delusion post. It’s hard to get past it.

Wait, so, do you disagree with it, or what?

I mean, using one’s own problems to say “you don’t have it bad; shut up” is one thing, but the guy is just, stone cold, borrowing someone else’s problems like “Stop trash talking my beloved movement!  Poor women are starving somewhere!”

And it’s relevant that a person is a wealthy old heterosexual white man in that case.

But RW - a person who calls herself skepchick, titles a regular section of her blog “quickies,” and finishes her brief bio on the SGU website with: She occasionally poses in skeptic pin-up calendars… well, I’d say she pretty well sexually objectifies herself.

Excellent, excellent!  Now.  How can it be that such a frigid, uptight Womyn’s Studies major is also deliberately sexually objectifying herself?

One of you two must be wrong!

Posted on Jul 31, 2011 at 11:12pm by Contradiction Comment #125

Wow, this has turned into a free for all.

I see the incident as no more significant than driving on the freeway and some asshole cuts in front of me endangering my life.

If I tell that story, everyone says, “yes, what is the world coming to ...” , and have another swig of beer…in the pub.

Posted on Jul 31, 2011 at 11:47pm by Write4U Comment #126

I think the reason why this post has come to 9 pages is simply because it touches on the age-old divide/debate (albeit trivial) between man and woman. The way I see it, this whole sense of sexual victimization that women often complain of springs from one of many inherent evils of capitalism - the fact that it has turned women, like virtually everything else, into a commodity.
  According to Engels (Origins of the Family), the family in primeval societies used be headed by the mother (women) because, thanks to the promiscuity that prevailed in those days, it was only through the mother than one could trace his descent. In those days of yore the mother was the head of the family, and vestiges of that custom can still be seen in certain primitive societies. But then (eventually) capitalism came along and changed all that - and much more.
      I think RW is guilty of the classic crime of blaming it all on the symptom rather than the cause. But then she is bound by chains of the ‘system’ and (with the force of a syllogism) lost perspective.

Posted on Aug 01, 2011 at 8:09am by Pambania Comment #127

I just hope that Rebecca can find the strength to get past this horrendous incident.

boing!  My sarcasm detector just went off!  The elevator incident was not that horrendous.  The over the top reaction from the million macho morons movement to her quite reasonable dating advice video was.  Her reaction to RD’s insensitive reaction was also a bit over the top, but I can see why it might have pissed her off at the time.

Judging by RW’s subsequent comments re this incident and its aftermath, it seems pretty clear that she has, indeed, found the requisite strength to get past it.

I’m a bit bemused by the comments that suggest that the fact that she was in a bar at 4am was somehow an invalidating factor re her subsequent discomfort with the elevator incident.  Seems like an analogy for men which never comes up for some strange reason is that guys who stumble out of a bar at 4am are begging to be mugged.

Posted on Aug 22, 2011 at 10:05am by ullrich Comment #128

I’m a bit bemused by the comments that suggest that the fact that she was in a bar at 4am was somehow an invalidating factor re her subsequent discomfort with the elevator incident.  Seems like an analogy for men which never comes up for some strange reason is that guys who stumble out of a bar at 4am are begging to be mugged.

Mugging doesn’t seem like a good analogy for a sexual proposition.

Posted on Aug 22, 2011 at 10:49am by deidzoeb Comment #129

Why not?  Both use violence or the threat of violence to violate the rights of the victim.  The point wasn’t that there was 100% certainty of an impending violent attack, nevertheless the threat was there.  No witnesses, no recourse had she been attacked.

Posted on Aug 22, 2011 at 11:00am by ullrich Comment #130

Even if we accept the hypothesis put forward here by several people that RW blew up this issue for her personal gain, she does raise a valid concern.  The response from the mmmm also tends to re-enforce those concerns.  Many people seem to have difficulty imagining situations which they have not, themselves, experienced.  IMHO, if the secular humanist movement is to succeed at stemming the current drive to a new dark age, we need all the help we can get and making the movement attractive to women and other humans who don’t (as I do) fall into the category of prosperous old white male—is a pretty important project.

I’m most of the way through Sikivu Hutchinson’s excellent book “Moral Combat”.  Her take on why so few non-whites are involved in atheist organization is very interesting and insightful.  One big problem is that there is an unfortunate tendency for the members in these organizations to react to non-white and women’s concerns with the traditional chant of “That’s not important, sit down and shut up!” 

Regardless of her motivation, Rebecca has done a service to the humanist movement by bringing a bit of focus on these issues.

Posted on Aug 22, 2011 at 11:13am by ullrich Comment #131

Why not?  Both use violence or the threat of violence to violate the rights of the victim.  The point wasn’t that there was 100% certainty of an impending violent attack, nevertheless the threat was there.  No witnesses, no recourse had she been attacked.

I disagree that there was a threat of violence in the meek proposition that Watson described. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting. ... Would you like to come up to my room for a drink?”

This is precisely why there has been a big reaction to such a supposedly small matter, because some number of people hear that as an implied threat and some of us don’t.

Panhandling or begging would make a better analogy to a proposition. “Could you give me a dollar?” In some instances that might be the first step before the person turns it into a mugging, but the difference between begging and mugging is like the difference between proposition and sexual assault. Is all panhandling just a precursor to mugging? Are all propositions just precursors to sexual assault? I don’t think so.

Posted on Aug 22, 2011 at 11:46am by deidzoeb Comment #132

Why not?  Both use violence or the threat of violence to violate the rights of the victim.  The point wasn’t that there was 100% certainty of an impending violent attack, nevertheless the threat was there.  No witnesses, no recourse had she been attacked.

I disagree that there was a threat of violence in the meek proposition that Watson described. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting. ... Would you like to come up to my room for a drink?”
.

...and as someone who has experienced violence in an elevator, I can tell you that this IS very threatening. Just because you lack the imagination to see it as such, doesn’t make it so.

Posted on Aug 22, 2011 at 12:57pm by asanta Comment #133

Just listened to this episode, and though I think feminist issues are important in that they bring up situations to strive for equality amongst men, and women, I’ll have to disagree with Rebecca’s statement about the guy on the elevator.  Fact is, she is not a victim.  She has the right to say NO THANKS, and leave it at that.  Unless the guy actually made efforts at forcing himself into a situation made clear by Rebecca she didn’t want, there was nothing done wrong.  To go off from what’d happened to assert that no guy should proposition a girl in such a situation is plain wrong. For some people when all parties are willing, there is nothing wrong with getting together for a good time, though proper anti-STD protection should be used to be safe.  Rebecca’s a smart person, and she’s also really attractive.  The fact she carries a skeptical feminist mindset to me makes her all the more attractive.  Even so, she’s not some victim weakling.  She has the ability to deny sexual advances anyone may have toward her.  Things going bad due to coming across violent aggressors is a thing we all risk dealing with in life.  Walking down the street anywhere there is the possibility of coming across someone with a gun or knife trying to rob you.  We can try our best to defend ourselves through self-defense training, carrying mace, so on, and so forth, but it’s just the way things can happen.  This is not, however, inevitably the case. Many people aren’t violent psychos, and are willing to respect a person when he/she says “I’m not interested.”  I’ll never be sexually propositioning Rebecca in an elevator, unless, she’s made clear it’s something she wants, and I’ve grown a personal relationship with her that has reached that level, however, I’m also not going to deny others the right to do so, provided their intentions remain respectful of the desires of all parties involved.

Posted on Aug 24, 2011 at 5:38pm by KnowCause Comment #134

I’ll never be sexually propositioning Rebecca in an elevator, unless, she’s made clear it’s something she wants….

This is part of my complaint. She made it clear at the conference (and maybe at the bar later) that she was annoyed by people propositioning her at conferences. To some people, the hotel where lots of people are discussing the conference might seem to be included as part of the conference. To me, he wasn’t propositioning her at the conference or during the conference. Maybe she needed to make it clearer if she meant no propositions within X miles or Z weeks of seeing her at a conference.

Posted on Aug 25, 2011 at 5:54am by deidzoeb Comment #135

This is part of my complaint. She made it clear at the conference (and maybe at the bar later) that she was annoyed by people propositioning her at conferences. To some people, the hotel where lots of people are discussing the conference might seem to be included as part of the conference. To me, he wasn’t propositioning her at the conference or during the conference. Maybe she needed to make it clearer if she meant no propositions within X miles or Z weeks of seeing her at a conference.

Even if it was anyone who’d not heard she was annoyed with being hit on, she could still clearly let the person know at the time it was brought up that she wasn’t interested.  It’s anyone’s right at any moment it’s brought up, male or female, to accept or refuse sexual advances.

Posted on Aug 25, 2011 at 1:10pm by KnowCause Comment #136

The workplace harassment classes and policies have made people afraid to engage in normal human relations at work. Extending those hysterical over-the-top fear-based policies to conferences is childish and petty in my view.

We could well draw up a huge list of things prohibited at conferences.

Simply use the following phrase template:

If you do XXXXXX to someone at our conference you will be ejected.

Here’s some possible things you can plug into XXXXXX:

1. Showing your underpants to other conference participants.
2. Emitting a particularly smelly fart.
3. Doing more serious things which any reasonable police officer could arrest you for.

Some things REALLY DO go without saying. And saying them increases the amount of negativity in the air - at a conference.

The stuffy workplace is one thing. A conference is another. A conference is supposed to be a social gathering, N-O-T work.

I agree with the general French appraisal that American workplace sexual relation rules are insane. And it’s also a bit crazy to have to spend one second putting into the face of conference goers this type of thing.

Go to a bar and expect drunk men to hit on you. End of story.

If you’re an a-hole at a conference, maybe you’ll be ejected.

Just simplify the policy to be “anti-a-hole.” But if we phrased the policy like that I can easily think of one particular biologist who’d be banned immediately. And also so would the crazies who think we need to put into everyone’s face this type of verbiage and text in the first place.

Speaking generally: Imposing your fears and insecurities onto other people as a matter of policy really is abusive. Not everyone is as uptight or as fearful as you are.

And no this doesn’t apologize for behavior which is ACTUALLY illegal. If something illegal happens, call the cops. But conference organizers aren’t our parents, nor are they cops.

The above are general comments based on general trends, and what I’ve been able to gather so far from the fuss.

My related post: http://jonathanshome.blogspot.com/2012/07/thunderf00t-vs-pz-myers-i-vote-for.html

Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 8:00am by birdman Comment #137