Ladies, Richard Dawkins knows how to protect you from being raped in an elevator

Recently, Richard Dawkins said (full quote below) that a woman should not be concerned about her own safety if she finds herself in an elevator (under some sort of threat, presumably), because it is trivially easy to get out of an elevator if you are under attack. I’m sure Richard is a very smart guy and maybe he’s right, but there is evidence to the contrary that women can just leave the scene if they are uninterested in being raped or groped.

For example:

Police are looking for a man they say sexually assaulted a woman in Manhattan about two weeks ago.
A surveillance photo of the suspect has been released.

Police say the attack took place around 6:30 p.m. on June 21 within the confines of the 28th precinct.

Investigators say the man followed a woman into a building, then into an elevator where he sexually assaulted her.

Police are hunting for a man wanted in connection with a sexual assault and a robbery in the Bronx.

Authorities say he followed a 42-year-old woman into an elevator in a building near Tinton Avenue and East 163rd Street on Sunday morning at about 8 a.m. He then forced her from the elevator and sexually assaulted her.

A sexual predator was on the loose in Harlem after attacking a 12-year-old girl in an elevator, law enforcement sources said.
The suspect set on the victim at an apartment building in Central Harlem on June 21 at 6:25 p.m.

He allegedly followed her into an elevator and sexually assaulted her.

…Cops caught up with the teen after receiving a tip through the Crime Stoppers hotline. Sources say Pacheco had been picked out of a lineup by all four victims.

In the first incident Sunday, Pacheco allegedly dragged a 42-year-old woman out of an elevator of a building on Tinton Ave. and sexually assaulted her, cops said….

…”As soon as I heard about what happened [with the recent attacks], I immediately had my husband meet me at subways when I got home after dark any night,” said Wells-Hasan. “I have completely stopped going to the park by myself or after dark.”

Wells-Hasan said she is most unnerved by the attacks that have happened in elevators, buildings, and the streets.

…In the Trenton case, the girl was molested in a corridor, while in Napanee a group of children was followed onto an elevator, police said. He assaulted the girl and fled when the elevator doors opened….

…But this was not my first newspaper job, so I wasn’t surprised when a high-ranking male editor groped me in the elevator one day; the same thing had happened at my previous newspaper, with an editor I’d never even met before stepping into the elevator….

Let’s be clear. Sexual assaults and other bad things happen on elevators. Dawkins is wrong, and his assertion is not one of fact, but rather, of backpedaling. He can’t possibly think that a) a woman can just decide to walk away from a sexual assault or b) that if a woman is in fact made to feel uncomfortable in a given situation that she should keep quiet about it, and if she does not, that she should be told to shut up about it.

Most of the voices telling Rebecca Watson to quiet down and get a grip on herself are coming from, I think, men who just don’t want there to be a rule that says that they must modulate their behavior in connection to the idea that a very large number of women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and that the vast majority of sexual assault comes from men, and that the world is full of Demonic Males. Some are coming from men or women who want to live in a world where it is just as plausable for a society to emerge where the women rape, kill and beat the men instead of the other way around. Which is fantasy. And a few are coming from young Third Wave feminists whose youth is still getting them the attention that gives them a certan fleeting power over their own social milieu or who have not yet themselves been assaulted in a dark or out of the way place, or who are not close to someone who has been.

And Richard Dawkins.

For the record here are Richard’s comments in full. The first is in response to the kerfuffle over whether or not Rebecca Watson should have rejoined a comment that she did not have a valid complaint about having been asked to a man’s room while riding alone with him in a hotel elevator at 4AM after making it clear she was heading (alone) to her room for the night:

Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .

And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

Richard

And this is Richard’s response to a flurry of commentary complaining about his first comment:

Many people seem to think it obvious that my post was wrong and I should apologise. Very few people have bothered to explain exactly why. The nearest approach I have heard goes something like this.

I sarcastically compared Rebecca’s plight with that of women in Muslim countries or families dominated by Muslim men. Somebody made the worthwhile point (reiterated here by PZ) that it is no defence of something slightly bad to point to something worse. We should fight all bad things, the slightly bad as well as the very bad. Fair enough. But my point is that the ‘slightly bad thing’ suffered by Rebecca was not even slightly bad, it was zero bad. A man asked her back to his room for coffee. She said no. End of story.
But not everybody sees it as end of story. OK, let’s ask why not? The main reason seems to be that an elevator is a confined space from which there is no escape. This point has been made again and again in this thread, and the other one.

No escape? I am now really puzzled. Here’s how you escape from an elevator. You press any one of the buttons conveniently provided. The elevator will obligingly stop at a floor, the door will open and you will no longer be in a confined space but in a well-lit corridor in a crowded hotel in the centre of Dublin.

No, I obviously don’t get it. I will gladly apologise if somebody will calmly and politely, without using the word fuck in every sentence, explain to me what it is that I am not getting.

Richard

Emphasis fucking added. Oh, and now you have your explanation, Ricahrd.

See also:

Added, from Atheist Cartoons:

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http://www.atheistcartoons.com/?attachment_id=4509″>

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255 thoughts on “Ladies, Richard Dawkins knows how to protect you from being raped in an elevator

  1. Does this mean I have to burn my Dawkins’ books and that I can’t read any more of Dawkins’ books?

  2. People must always moderate their behavior. Today there was a guy in the fifteen-items-or-fewer line at Safeway with *thirty-one* items. The four of us behind him had to stifle the impulse to beat him to death on the spot.

    –bks

  3. To use your own language: how can you be so fucking sure the guy who wrote those fucking comments is really that fucking Richard Dawkins? Anyone can declare himself whoever he wants to be while commenting on blogs! There are no “verified accounts”, you know.

    OTOH, don’t you find anything wrong in the following phrase of yours?

    “I’m sure Richard is a very smart guy and maybe he’s write”

    Geez.

  4. I think the problem here is that everyone is still approaching this as if it were a sexual assault. Richard seems to be coming from the perspective that this was just an unwanted flirtation. Escaping an unwanted flirtation by leaving the elevator is a perfectly reasonable suggestion. This fits into the context of the rest of his remarks while “Richard Dawkins knows how to protect you from being raped in an elevator” does not.
    Maybe this is just a good time for everyone to take a deep breath and clear their heads.

  5. You’re playing stupid, Greg. What Dawkins was responding to was the contention that the elevator represents such an especially dangerous place for women that it behooves males to be extra sensitive to women in those areas- NOT that sexual assaults don’t happen in elevators. Sexual assaults happen every where and the hotel that Rebecca Watson stayed in is not exactly the seedy kind -I would imagine there are a number of cameras monitoring the lifts. While the elevator guy was creepy in making his invitation for coffee inside the lift, IT IS NOT SEXIST as Rebecca Watson seems to be suggesting.

  6. Béranger, it was him. This has been verified.

    Thanks for the autocorrect correction, I’ll correct it.

    And, in case you missed it, the “fucking” language was an intended irony.

  7. Gabby, Richard is the one who made this into an issue about escape from assault. This is, rather, an issue of someone expressing their discomfort then being told that she should not have felt or expressed this discomfort.

    The difficulty here is this: If you feel discomfort and I judge that I would not have in a given situation, I don’t actually have the right to tell you that you shouldn’t have either.

    But the breath idea is still a good one.

  8. Ralph: You’re playing stupid, Greg. What Dawkins was responding to was the contention that the elevator represents such an especially dangerous place for women that it behooves males to be extra sensitive to women in those areas-

    And he disagrees with that and he is wrong. And the reason he is wrong is that he is not making the link. That I made. In this blog. That you missed.

    IT IS NOT SEXIST as Rebecca Watson seems to be suggesting.

    It was, but do remember that Rebecca did not make a big deal out of that. What was more sexist and more disappointing was Jen’s telling Rebecca that she had no case. And THAT is what Rebecca made a big deal out of. One could argue over her method, and I would agree with some of those arguments (and so might she) but telling her to shut up or being sarcastic as Richard has been is not OK.

  9. Dawkins made his double faux pas* on PZ Myers’s blog, and Myers (after about 3,000 comments) has tried to abort further discussion, so it shows great courage/foolhardiness to revive it here.

    Alas, RD’s oblivious sexism is being echoed in this thread already, but I think such dumbth obscures a more particular question. How does “the atheist movement” deal with the auto-iconoclasm of its most prominent icon?

    *Actually a triple, but that only aggravates my problem of not knowing how to indicate the plural form.

  10. No, he is not write. Nor right. And it has been confirmed by PZ that it was actually Dawkins who posted that bit of stupidity.

    An enclosed space. Alone with a larger, presumably stronger stranger. He says something incredibly personal with obvious sexual overtones. If you don’t get it, try imagining yourself in that elevator with a huge, ugly thug who says to you “How about we go to my room and I fuck you in the ass?”

    Women have always needed to be on constant alert lest they find themselves in a situation where they could be raped. It’s just that simple. Being propositioned by a stranger can be terribly frightening for most women. For Dawkins — or you, Béranger, to trivialize this very real danger is despicable.

  11. Greg Laden @ # 10 – Uh, wasn’t the person “making a big deal of” Watson’s remarks named “Stef”, not “Jen”?

  12. “Dawkins made his double faux pas* on PZ Myers’s blog, and Myers (after about 3,000 comments) has tried to abort further discussion, so it shows great courage/foolhardiness to revive it here.”
    Are you kidding? 3000 comments on Greg Laden’s blog would be awesome for ad revenue. Having said that I hope it does not happen, I am more partial to small communities.

    I think we have said what we think of Dawkin’s comments. I think Dawkins would improve his stature by showing he understood the objections to his post. But I am not holding my breath

  13. Oops, yet another misstep: it was a Stef who told Rebecca Watson “she had no case”, not the Jen who made a case against Richard.

    Unless I’ve missed one more character in this odd she-said/she-said intertubes minidrama…

  14. Wait, one of your quoted news stories has a woman being pulled out of an elevator and assaulted. Just to be safe, I think we need to declare elevators and the area immediately surrounding them as a male exclusion zone.

  15. Are you kidding? 3000 comments on Greg Laden’s blog would be awesome for ad revenue.

    All else being equal I’d rather not have Richard Dawkins hate me: His site sends me plenty of hits and we share many colleagues, and so on and so forth. No, I’m being totaly foolhardy here, I assure you.

    But since you mention it, yes, everyone, please tweet and facebook this post! We’ve got 16 comments so far, a ways to go to hit 3000!!!! But we can do it!!!

    I think we have said what we think of Dawkin’s comments. I think Dawkins would improve his stature by showing he understood the objections to his post. But I am not holding my breath

    I am totally holding my breath. I think he’ll see the light. I do.

  16. Richard: there was an outcry re: the first comment because it’s classic derailing – if you don’t think someone’s upsetting experience isn’t ‘important’ or ‘serious’, or serious ‘enough’ to pay attention to, don’t say anything at all – especially when it comes to sexual politics, women hear that from plenty of loudspeakers already. The impact of one unwanted come-on isn’t evaluated alone, it’s almost always part of a multitude of similar, similarly-motivated acts from all directions. See: http://microaggressions.com/

    I’ve reccomended this essay from Shapely Prose before, and it’s clarified similar underlying issues – “Shrodinger’s Rapist: A Guy’s Guide to Approaching Strange Women Without Getting Maced

    it says, essentially, that in the world, the state of affairs is such that when a sexual assault or rape happens it is generally a man assaulting a woman, so women (more or less depending on their own experiences) tend to keep ‘rape’ on the list of potential outcomes of any interaction with any man.

    The onus therefore is on the man to look at the situation from an outsider point of view, and not do things that might make a woman feel MORE unsafe. Someone approaching me when I’m alone, cornered (albeit temporarily), ignoring indirect or body language signals, all those things, (to me, ymmv) are points knocking the approaching guy further up the “potential rapist” scale.

    That difference in point of view (that men don’t often consider rape as something that might happen to them, unless they are already somewhere dangerous, like a war zone or a prison) is what, I think, makes something like Skepchick’s situation “unacceptable behavior” from a woman’s point of view, and “I had no idea I did anything wrong” from a man’s.

  17. By the way this whole issue may prove productive. It reminds me of the Clarence Thomas sexual harassment accusations by Anita Hill.
    I found the reaction by a lot of women was a bit similar to what went on here. “O she should shut up, we put up with this kind of shit all the time, she should get used to it”
    At the time, given the power of women and the facts of the workplace, it was understandable, if somewhat shocking that women would think like that.
    But we owe a big debt to Anita Hill. She started a chain of thought that ended in sexual harassment in the workplace becoming much more punishable and much less likely to happen.
    At the very least I doubt many men at atheist conferences will proposition women that they don’t really know in an elevator at 4 AM in the morning.

  18. Jen is blaghag, she posted a rebuttal to Dawkins that PZ linked to. She used the word fuck maybe, um, once? Which apparently prompted Dawkins to request the word fuck not be used when explaining why he’s wrong.

    Which is funny, since Dawkins has never struck me as the prudish type when it comes to language. Maybe he’s only like that when women choose to use those terms?

  19. There are some seriously mixed up people taking issue with Richard’s comments here. Let’s be clear, asking someone for sex is not a crime.

    I reserve the right to ask any woman for sex at any time. It may not be advisable, but there is nothing wrong with it per se. It is only harassment if I keep doing it despite a negative response, and only assault if I force the issue. The rest is normal adult interaction. Period.

  20. I’m just recording this here for posterity: If I have publicly said at 4am that I am tipsy and tired and I am going to sleep, and you, whom I have never spoken to, follow me into an elevator and ask me to go to your room, I will punch you in the face. Consider me easily startled. 🙂

  21. Jim- not a crime, but since when did someone need to commit a crime in order to be called out on their behavior in a respectful fashion?

    And, honestly, I don’t have an issue with elevator guy. He sounds clueless. Seriously, though- you follow me onto an elevator, after I’ve said I was tired, after you had several hours opportunity to talk to me, and then invite me to your room you will forever be labeled, in my brain, as a creepster. And while it is far from an overt sexist act, the objectification of women is very subtle and things that guys do without even thinking. I couldn’t imagine asking someone who has shown no interest in me for sex. Like, seriously?! Yet many guys see no issue whatsoever in it.

    Women feel uncomfortable at these events because they are treated as sex objects first rather than intellectual equals first.

  22. It was very brave of you to include Dawkins’ full quote, Greg. Usually after people blatantly lie and misrepresent the opposition, much as you did, they’re actually a little timid about exposing themselves. Well done, sir.

    What I find most entertaining about all this is that people are trying to focus on the elevator, yet they won’t let go of the coffee comment. Let’s take a walk down Logic Lane, shall we? Okay.

    If the situation is that being on an elevator with a man is uncomfortable, especially in the wee hours of the morning, then what does it matter what the guy said? He is already at fault for making Watson uncomfortable by virtue of standing in the same car while committing the sin of having a penis. For anyone to make mention of his bad line is just an excuse. Watson should have been able to make a video where she said a man rode with her on an elevator and that made her uncomfortable; the Internet response should have been exactly the same.

    But who believes it would have been? I know Greg is willing to be dishonest (and blatantly, embarrassingly so), but how about anyone else? Are you willing to condemn all men who have the gall to take an elevator late at night with women present? If so, wow.

    Now let’s go back to Dawkins’ comments Greg posted to his own defeat. Dawkins says Watson was not trapped and could have left. The counter is to say, ‘But not if the guy was a rapist! Then what, huh?!’ True enough, but he wasn’t a rapist. And neither are the vast majority of men. Yes, even the ones who disagree with feminists on certain points are anti-rape. (I know!) So though Watson was uncomfortable, and though she didn’t know the man, she was never in any danger. It’s baldly unfair to assert that Elevator Guy should be more aware of the places in which women sometimes get assaulted. At that point things become a matter of condemnation to all who dare possess an evil penis while preferring a lift over the stairs – not to mention the thousands of other places we happen upon every day. (Why, I bet there are stories of women being assaulted in parking garages. Perhaps men should check with the attendant before getting their vehicle, hm?)

    And cue “YOU DON’T GET IT!” in lieu of real rebuttals.

  23. Richards problem was not realizing that flirting had already been declared a sexual assault in that thread.
    Have a look at this example “huge, ugly thug who says to you “How about we go to my room and I fuck you in the ass?” I’d guess that Richard would not have just suggested getting off the elevator to escape this, but that’s where the problem comes in, in my opinion. Richard seemed to be talking about what actually happened while everyone else was talking about a huge, ugly thug with anal fixations.
    Are we going to deal with the actual subject, or just get excited about an opportunity to potentially misunderstand something and start another flame war? Thirty pieces of silver, or a civilized discussion? God damnit, I sound like a tone troll.
    It’s really bothered me because I’ve learned a lot about women’s fears and why they have them. Some of the statistics I’ve heard have just blown my mind. I know I’ll be making some changes to my attitude. I hope Richard’s had a chance to learn some of these things between accusations. I think if he did, he’ll correct his errors.

  24. My Dad found himself in a lift one day with a young female journalist. She suddenly pressed herself up against him and kissed him on the lips.

    Funnily enough, he never made a big stink about the misandry of creepy young women in lifts.

    Plenty of misandry being vented here, though – notice how any hint of sex and men are instantly irrelevantly demonised for being rapists. Pathetic. And they wonder why the younger generation wants nothing to do with feminism.

  25. I would agree with you Nicole. The behaviour would certainly be gauche, but re-reading what Richard wrote, the man asked the woman to come back to his room for a coffee, so his request wasn’t even impolite. Referring back to what Richard was saying, the man’s behaviour was “zero bad” and therefore nothing to complain about. Certainly no worse than a beggar politely asking for some spare change.

  26. Actually, Michael, whether you get it or not, you’ve misrepresented it. Being on trapped with a guy is not that big a deal (for those without rape PTSD) until he tells you that despite what you’ve been saying all evening about not wanting this kind of interaction, he thinks his desire (even just to talk to you) should trump yours. That, as has been pointed out multiple times in multiple places, is where it gets creepy. Also creepy is the fact that, despite the problem being one that can be summed up in a single sentence, you can’t seem to look at all the pieces of it at once.

  27. If you don’t understand why a woman would not be happy being propositioned in an elevator at 4 AM, try putting yourself in her position, and not changing the gender of the proposition-er. In fact, assume that not only is it a guy, he is larger and probably stronger than you (which is likely the case if you are female.)
    Is it akin to rape? No. Is it decidedly uncomfortable? Probably.
    Does that help?

  28. Stephanie Z, thanks for the link. Since to harass is defined in the dictionary (OED) as “to trouble and annoy continually and repeatedly”, there is no way that a one-off suggestive comment can be construed as harassment.

    Those definitions of harassment (as opposed to flirting) that imply any kind of unwanted approach are deeply, and obviously flawed because, a priori, you can’t know if your approach will be appreciated and hence accepted as flirting, or unwanted and hence “defined” as harassment.

  29. PLEASE, people, slow down and take a deep breath.

    Rebecca didn’t call Elevator Guy ‘sexist’. She said, “Guys, please don’t do that.” As Greg tried to say, it was Stef’s response, “WTF was wrong with what he did?” that set off Rebecca and it was that response that I found most disturbing.

    I’ve had my say about it, but I will add here that it is a slippery slope. If his behavior (which was, at best, insensitive) is perfectly okay, where is the line between ‘harmless’ and ‘sexualizing’? I see it moving farther and farther way from actual freedom of sexual expression and toward “you’re a bitch and a prude” for complaining about being tired of being ogled instead of heard. In fact, we are already there (I’ve experienced just that).

    When will we start telling women to STFU about date rape? And please don’t tell me that’s absurd. It’s not. Culture is shaped by fuzzy lines.

  30. One thing that I thought of.

    What if the guy in the elevator had been black? Would her ‘feeling threatened’ and ‘creeped out’ by a simply conversation and a offer of coffee have been acceptable if it was a white person and a black person rather than a man and a woman?

    Because I tend to think if she had said any such thing she would have been called out for racism.

  31. I’ll add a comment here Greg. I like your blog better than PZ’s Also, I don’t generally comment at Pharangula because I don’t like the way that people who disagree with PZ are demeaned and disrespected by the others there.

    As for what Richard Dawkins wrote, his commentary seemed pretty typical of his style, it’s just that he rarely attacks other atheists.

    In PZ’s essay, he eloquently explains why it is important for men to change their behavior to make women more comfortable around them:

    The response has been to belittle her reasonable suggestion, belittle her, accuse her of hysteria, defend the rudeness of the fellow with the proposition, and mostly act as if utterly obtuse to both the unpleasantness of the elevator faux pas and to disrespect the rational concerns of women. Women aren’t so much afraid that unruly mobs of atheist men will rape them at meetings, but that they’ll be dolts who trivialize legitimate and common concerns of womenâ?¦and this incident has definitely shown that to be the case. We aren’t just going to see Rebecca Watson diminished as an asset to atheism, but all the other women who seek common cause with atheism will watch how we treat our own and find this community significantly less attractive.
    This isn’t slightly bad. It’s very bad. Atheist men are alienating the people we want to work with us on the very same problems, the oppression of women under religious regimes, that you cited in your comment. – PZ Meyers responding to Richard Dawkins
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/oh_no_not_againonce_more_unto.php

    I happen to agree with what PZ says in that quote but it also seems to me to completely and unselfconsciously mirror the arguments of the “Accommodationists” he has heaped so much scorn upon. Let me rewrite his original a bit to reflect what Iâ??m talking about:

    The response has been to belittle his reasonable suggestion, belittle him, accuse him of hysteria, defend the rudeness of others in interactions with him, and mostly act as if utterly obtuse to both the unpleasantness that Chris Mooney has pointed out and to disrespect the rational concerns of Accomodationists. Accomodationists aren’t so much afraid that unruly mobs of atheist gnus will attack people physically at meetings, but that they’ll be dolts who trivialize legitimate and common concerns of people of faithâ?¦and this incident has definitely shown that to be the case. We aren’t just going to see Chris Mooney diminished as an asset to atheism, but other accomodationists and liberal theists who seek common cause with atheism will watch how we treat our own and find this community significantly less attractive.

    This isn’t slightly bad. It’s very bad. Atheist gnus are alienating the people we want to work with us on many of the very same problems that you have cited in your blog.

    Somehow, I don’t think that PZ would like that revision.

  32. leper, are you suggesting that black people really do disproportionately attack white people on elevators, or are you saying that men don’t disproportionately attack women on elevators?

    Beth, try to focus on real harm. I suspect everything will become much clearer to you then. Because right now, you’re equating disagreement with rape.

  33. Once I was waiting a respectful distance for a man at an ATM to finish. When he turned and noticed that I was waiting at the curb, he laughed and said ‘Little lady, I am not going to hurt you’.

    I replied, ‘I wanted to make =you= feel safe, since we just became a ‘right to carry’ state’.

    The grin fled his face and his eyes grew wide as he processed my response. I don’t believe he could look at a female as ‘safe’ after that.

    Now imagine that there was a good chance that a Skep Chick was carrying and that you might suffer substantial injury should a misunderstanding occur. Would you feel safe drunkenly propositioning her in an elevator? Or would you rather be introduced and have the opportunity to evaluate your chances in a nice, public place, before misunderstandings could occur?

  34. Jim: Let’s be clear, asking someone for sex is not a crime. …I reserve the right to ask any woman for sex at any time.

    Keep a first aid kit handy, buddy. You might need it! Or at least an ice pack.

  35. From her video the man said: “Don’t take this the wrong way. I find you very interesting, would you like to come back to my room for a coffee?”. Maybe he did find her attractive, maybe he wanted something more than just coffee, or maybe he thought she was very interesting, but from where I come from that would be considered an extremely polite way of asking. It was 4AM, they had been at a bar, such things tend to happen.

    I almost get the sense that the expectation is for a man to deny his natural sexual urges. That for a man to look at a woman and think, “I would like to have some sex with her”, is somehow dirty or wrong. Seems like thinking better suited for Catholics than Atheists.

  36. Nate: Funnily enough, he never made a big stink about the misandry of creepy young women in lifts.

    Yeah, I know, it’s so unfair. Every time a woman gets raped she complains too, and all the guys who get raped never bother saying a word, they just suck it up. Also, beaten. Men who get the crap beat out of them every day or two by a woman know to shut up about it. And so on. Funny thing, that. Pathetic is right!

  37. Stephanie [32] there can’t be any such list because men just suck it up an don’t complain or nuthin’

    Mandrake [33] thank you.

    Everybody else: If you can see this sentence go read comment [36]

  38. leper [37] I ran the same thought experiment through my own head as well. I did a black coffee guy and white woman, and a few other combinations, wondered about racism and such, then I subb’ed in gay men and gay women in various combinations, then I finally landed on a 295 pounds psychopathic gay man from the West Side on PCB’s in an elevator with Richard Dawkins and the elevator breaks and right there I stopped thinking about it.

  39. Beth [38] I appreciate your comment….

    Women aren’t so much afraid that unruly mobs of atheist men will rape them at meetings, but that they’ll be dolts who trivialize legitimate and common concerns of womenâ?¦and this incident has definitely shown that to be the case.

    and all of the rest of it. Why are you not a blogger?

    Stephanie [39] I took Leper’s suggestion to be an examination of the reaction of the masses to a story adjusted thusly at a skeptics/atheist conference, where we know everyone is always rational.

  40. Desiree: Hahahaha!!! Funny, I was thinking of you when I read Jim’s post. To which I commented. Perfect..

    Ya, Jim, hang on to that ice pack!

    Cynthia [24] FTW

    Michael: He is already at fault for making Watson uncomfortable by virtue of standing in the same car while committing the sin of having a penis.

    That has not been established. For him, or you. 🙂

    And cue “YOU DON’T GET IT!” in lieu of real rebuttals.

    Nah… in your case, I’ll just make a dick joke.

  41. I just don’t understand how a supposedly intelligent person can say “why, yes, if you step alone into a stainless steel soundproof box on rails with a free person who is larger and stronger than you, you will be fine, because there are buttons on the wall.”

    I suppose he thinks that those little call boxes on campus parking lots are infallibly helpful, and blowing on a rape whistle causes a police officer to parachute down two feet away.

    Sad.

  42. Everyone is adding intent, more words that were never said, personality traits we have no clue exist.
    For instance, those saying Watson never spoke to him before this incident?
    How do you know that?
    In her video, Watson never said they never spoke prior to the elevator ride.
    She may have said it since then, but in the video itself, in the description of the incident, she never says that.
    EG said “I would like to talk to you more.”
    “More” actually implies that they spoke previous to this.
    They were both at the bar,
    (Watson says “We” were at the bar.)
    He must be one of the “We” because she chides him for not listening to what she said about being sexualized.
    “A man got onto the elevator with me”
    He did not follow her as so many keep saying,
    He was at the bar, she was at the bar.
    She left.
    They got onto the elevator together.
    She never says he followed her

    He could have been the one to actually leave the bar 10 seconds prior to her leaving. We don’t know this.
    She never says she doesn’t know the guy.
    She still could have been creeped out by someone she knows propositioning her.
    Those of you who keep insisting that this man was a complete stranger who never said a word prior to asking her out for coffee, that kind of diminishes the fact that she could still feel creeped out by someone she knows well asking her back for coffee.

    I don’t think it is necessary to project what you think about the situation that was not clearly
    specified.
    I also don’t think Dawkins was saying that if you are being raped on an elevator, just hit the buttons and leave. He was talking about escaping the elevator in THIS particular situation. Way too many people are jumping to the conclusion that this guy might have attempted to rape RW.
    When you do that, it automatically causes many men who know for certain they would never rape someone to dismiss the concerns that RW had.
    What he did was enough to make her feel creeped out, he did not have to do anything else.

    But where has all this talk lead us? Jokes like this:

    “Don’t be silly! Dawkins would have offered his rape victims tea, not coffee!!!”

    http://twitter.com/Java6Nerd/status/87877095153336321
    I have a major problem with this going from “A man in an elevator asked me out for coffee and made me uncomfortable” to “Richard Dawkins rapes women”– even in jest.

  43. Actually, Michael, whether you get it or not, you’ve misrepresented it. Being on trapped with a guy is not that big a deal (for those without rape PTSD) until he tells you that despite what you’ve been saying all evening about not wanting this kind of interaction, he thinks his desire (even just to talk to you) should trump yours.

    I’m not the one sitting here focusing on the elevator, blaming the guy for having the gall to have a penis while in a confined area with a woman. Your issue is with your own ilk and their inconsistent, muddled arguments, not me.

    That has not been established. For him, or you. 🙂

    Nah… in your case, I’ll just make a dick joke.

    I would have called you out for making a terrible joke, but you communicated so effectively with a smiley that it’s okay. At least it’s better than your overt dishonesty.

  44. bowedoak
    That is disgusting. And this is just the beginning. If you’re going to damage a mans reputation, you’d better make damned sure you know what you’re talking about. There’s going to be damage here and I don’t see how it can be justified.

  45. “I reserve the right to ask any woman for sex at any time. It may not be advisable, but there is nothing wrong with it per se.”

    Getting off the train at 10 PM, you and a woman, she’s nervous because you happen to live the same direction she does and you set off walking the same direction she does.

    There is most decidedly something wrong with asking for sex then..

    I intentionally made that startlingly clear, but it happens in less stark conditions all the fucking time.

    There is nothing wrong with me thinking you are creepy for deciding that asking anyone, man or woman, for sex at any time, without botherign to think if it might make her/him feel uncomfortable or perhaps even threatened, is “normal adult interaction.”

  46. Emailing a friend describing the Watson Saga, I speculated that this may signal the Great Atheist Schism for which we heard false alarms during the late Bush Ages: the Dawkins Gang vs a feminist faction.

    So far, the feminist side seems to be cohering pretty tightly, but the patriarchists (____ fill in label of choice) haven’t rallied ’round the Richard to a notable degree. (For which said Richard should thank all gods he can think of and make up a few more…) Strategically, team XX leads, unless the McGrawistas surge.

    The number & density of those trying to justify the Elevator Stalker demonstrates irrefutably how far a sizable segment of the XY atheist population has to go. Guys, watch Watson’s video report (if you can’t last the full 8:03, the Dublin part begins ~~3:00, and the takeaway ~5:00). Please understand the woman is trying to help you get more chicks to come to infidelcons. What’s your problem with that?

    Reducing misogyny becomes one of those old-fashioned win-win situations for the single ‘n’ seeking hetero male & the any-purpose female. Stop defending the tactics which don’t work (have you noticed how many women (and guys, but for present purposes those are secondary) you’ve antagonized already?) and start taking tips from those who know more most about what women like.

    Rebecca’s credentials here beat Richard’s all to hell, and always will. Listen to her.

    G’nite all.

  47. As a gay male, I’m seriously perturbed by the alternative scenario proposed by Greg and the Athiest Cartoons comic in which it’s a gay man committing the harassment. It’s just so wrong on so many levels to propose that as the version of events that males will be more open to empathizing with.

  48. Andrew, that disturbs me as well. Thanks for noticing. It certainly is not a form that males would be more empathetic with. Indeed, they may be less empathetic with.

    And this proves the point quite nicely, I think. You can’t just swap out the actors and adjust genders and get the same result.

  49. Stephanie X said: Beth, try to focus on real harm. I suspect everything will become much clearer to you then. Because right now, you’re equating disagreement with rape.

    What is the real harm you think I should focus on?

    Why do you think I equated rape with disagreement in my rephrasing of PZ’s post? That wasn’t my intention nor do I feel that it is a reasonable interpretation of what I did write.

    Greg, thanks for the kind words.

  50. Andrew,
    As far as the cartoon goes, I think Ray Comfort was specifically used as a figure that would replicate the intimidation required to RD. As he is on record as not willing to debate creationists, you can draw the analogy on that front, rather than on a sexual nature.

  51. It’s all about context. A man I was on friendly terms with asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. I said yes. It was along a river on a well used track. Conversation was of a general nature until we got to a rather isolated section surrounded by dense bushes. It was then that he launched into a discussion of a sexual act he had seen depicted in a painting (anal sex, it turned out) and then went on about prison rape and how frustrating it is to go through life without having experienced everything. I felt under threat. I was alone with him. We were hidden. Escape routes were significantly cut off by the surrounding foliage. He was also much bigger than me. I looked at his face and the silly twit had no idea of either the impression he was giving or the any inherent threat I might be feeling due to his conversation in light of our surroundings. And this was someone I knew reasonably well. It would have been much worse if it was a stranger or a recent acquaintance. If we were in an open environment surrounded by people I still would have found it in bad taste but I wouldn’t have felt threatened.

    I think all Rebecca Watson was trying to do was asking men to be more sensitive about this sort of thing. It may not be a fear that men have, but women do.

  52. I used to visit this blog occasionally. I even had it on my own blogroll for a time. But then I stopped visiting much. I eventually removed the link here from my site, too. The quality of posts have never been good: your points are muddled and your topics aren’t intriguing, or at least aren’t presented in an intriguing way. But that isn’t a big deal. There are millions of blogs out there, so one more bad one is forgettable. (Hell, I’m sure plenty of people don’t like what I put out there.) But what I had always thought about this space was that it was at least honest. In fact, I’ve always thought that about most of the blogs on Scienceblogs.com.

    At least until now.

    I know you won’t do it, and I know my call for you to do it means little to nothing, but the nature in which you willingly misrepresented Dawkins’ statements demands you apologize. Maintain your (inconsistent) position about the elevator drama, but apologize for lying.

    http://forthesakeofscience.com/2011/07/05/greg-laden-should-apologize-to-richard-dawkins/

  53. You’re kidding.

    I come here phrom Pharyngula to escape this damn thread, and run smack into it again!

    Given that this is my first comment on the issue, allow me please to put it to rest right now (ahem):

    FUCK RW FOR EATING OUR BRAINS WITH THIS SHIT!
    AND FUCK YOU FEMINISTS FOR TREATING A LAME COME-ON LIKE A “PASSION OF THE CHRIST” SEQUEL WITH WATSON PLAYING JESUS
    AND PLEASE, PLEASE FUCK YOU MISOGYNIST TROLLS FOR DRAGGING YOUR KNUCKLES INTO THIS!!!

    pant, pant

    Ok, it’s out of my system. Seriously all, grow the fuck up.

  54. Yes, it is certainly an inexplicable amount of drama in response to a woman publicly stating she felt creeped out by a Mr. Creepy Pants. Apparently, this is very controversial, because oh dear, think of the menz! If women are vocal about what kind of advance they find creepy, off-putting, and borderline threatening, the menz’ dangly bits will shrivel up and fall off!

  55. Louis CK put it best. The outrage over the Rebecca Watson incident (for which I do not blame her, but everyone that made a fuss about it) is what Louis would call

    “WHITE PEOPLE PROBLEMS”

    Come on, people. If you find two middle class overweight guys moaning for hours that they’re hungry because they’re on a diet, wouldn’t you feel the urge to remind them about people that are actually starving in the world, from real hunger?

    Can you really blame Richard Dawkins for reminding people that what made Rebecca Watson experience temporary discomfort (how long is an elevator ride anyway?) pales when compared to the billion-and-one serious incidents where women experienced a lot more than temporary discomfort?

  56. There are three times when my comments get held in moderation. One is when there is a blanket policy for all first-time posters. The second is when it’s a Christian blog and my comments are likely to be edited. The third is right now. And per my policy when people show their cowardice, I’m out.

    Now grow up, correct your blatant (and I would hope embarrassing) lies, and apologize, Laden.

  57. Michael, now you are going paranoid. You have no idea how the moderation queue works on my blog. You are not being “moderated.”

    I’m glad you have a policy, though. And demands. And a penchant for carrying out your Kangaroo court, passing judgement, setting the sentence and demanding that it be carried out. Because that will give your life meaning.

    I just hope you don’t have any women in your life because you’re not going to be a good friend, father, mate, whatever until you understand how badly you are getting what women go through.

    Finally, you tell me you are out, but you are not. You will not be able to stop yourself from commenting one more time. Or more than one, likely.

  58. @Greg: “Yeah, I know, it’s so unfair. Every time a woman gets raped she complains too, and all the guys who get raped never bother saying a word, they just suck it up. Also, beaten. ”

    Equating rape and assault with Rebecca Watson’s experience(a very polite social offer which she rejected) is disgusting and dishonest. Amazingly dishonest. Completely irrational, in fact. And you call this a science blog.

  59. Greg Laden, before you ignore my comment-

    I feel that there are 2 ways to interpret what I just did and what Richard Dawkins did.

    One: is as a tactic to censor people, or to discourage them from talking about a certain subject.

    I think this would be a harsh way of putting what Richard Dawkins was trying to do. But you obviously feel Dawkins was out to censor us.

    Two: it is meant as an appeal to keep some perspective.
    If you’ve ever faced a dilemma or a heated argument, you know very well what I mean. The best thing is to take a deep breath, step back and put thing in perspective. After several days of public outcry over the elevator.(non) incident, maybe that is what Dawkins was trying to get people to do.

    Forgive me for responding. 4th of July came and went on my side of the globe.

  60. Contrarian,

    By the time Dawkins chimed in this had long become a conversation about telling women who expressed discomfort about unmodulated male behavior to shut up. Or, the metaversion of that whih involves telling a a person to tell you to shut up to shut up. The idea that perspective needs to be kept by invalidating the original point is not the appropriate next step!

    Here’s how it works. A is no big deal but not without meaning. B points out that A is a thing. C is an invalidation of B. D is an outcry to suggest that C should not be invalidating B. E is the next step and so on and so forth, back and forth between two “sides”

    Then, Dawkins, or you, or anyone else, can step in at any point and stake out territory. If you are against male modulation of behavior on elevators, you step in at one point. If you are in favor of supporting the idea that a woman can chose on her own when to express discomfort then you step in at a different point.

    (And the, of course, when you step in you either show support for some existing missive or you tell an actor in this drama to shut up. I think you get the idea.)

    So far you are supporting the idea that a woman who is made to feel uncomfortable by a man should not express that or make a statement linking that to efforts to make a more inclusive community. Are you sure that is where you want to be?

  61. Greg,

    I am starting to agree with a previous poster. You are being dishonest, though you use formulas that make it sound almost like it’s not you that’s misinterpreting my motivation, but the Laws of Timing In Public Discourse.

    “So far you are supporting the idea that a woman who is made to feel uncomfortable by a man should not express that or make a statement linking that to efforts to make a more inclusive community. Are you sure that is where you want to be?”

    Where did I say any of this? Your comment reduced the matter to a question of timing, whereby I supposedly jumped into your equation at the correct moment for you to interpret everything I do not say as objecting to any and all of Rebecca Watson’s acts?

    Read my original comment. I said I do not blame RW for the outcry, but everyone that made a big fuss over it.

    Since you presume to know where I stand, let me help you out of that delusion.

    I think Rebecca Watson had no way of knowing if the guy was a potential rapist or a really socially inept idiot. She did the best thing she could do, suspect the worst. She got out of the situation. She also used the anecdote as a friendly warning to other guys at the convention. She turned an uncomfortable situation into something positive. Apparently, some guys needed to be told the obvious.

    Summing up, the Rebecca Watson “incident” is a case where a woman reacted correctly, and even made something educational out of it. But, even though I am convinced RW did no wrong, I also point my finger at the obsessive debate that ensued.

    Now, just so I don’t misinterpret you back;
    do you really think Dawkins wanted to censor people with his comment?

    The whole step-back-and-keep-things-in-perspective bit doesn’t ring any bells for you? Is it not something you find useful and apply when you find yourself in long heated debates with the people you have to live with?

  62. Gotta go and start the day, so I’ll close my thoughts on this subject and leave you with all the time in the world to make whatever unfounded conjectures about my motivations you wish.

    “Now, just so I don’t misinterpret you back;
    do you really think Dawkins wanted to censor people with his comment?”

    Because we can either interpret Dawkins’ comment as an appeal to keep things in perspective (which does not mean Rebecca Watson had no right to speak out, but does leave open the question of how severe and urgent the incident really was or was not.)

    Or…

    We can interpret Dawkins as an anti-feminist who doesn’t want to understand the realities of sexual harassment and who dictates what his trained minions may speak about.

    And thereby giving all those ID & creationist guys more ammo next time they want to make a link between Atheists and immorality.

  63. I wonder whether Richard even realized that he basically implied that all women who get raped or molested in elevators were simply too stupid to push a button and walk away. Brilliant, Professor, simply brilliant.

  64. I think, in retrospect, that what bothers me about Dawkin’s careless brushing-off of the issue is that he believes he knows more about the safety of women in elevators than women.

    Suppose a door opens and there is a man inside I have briefly met on another floor. I have a bad feeling about him based on 3.6 second’s interaction, he’s alone in there, and I have a judgement call about whether or not I’m stepping into his company again.

    However, according to Dawkins, since I have at least one hand to poke buttons with, and since I am in a building full of people who are about to lose all contact with me, I should ignore whatever threads of contexts and little warning bells I’m hearing and instead of standing in the hallway pretending I lost my keys until the doors close, get into the elevator like a good socialized little girl who is not afraid of men.

    Many women will let their social conditioning override the hairs on the back of their neck after enough scolding from authority figures. This is how many women get hurt.

    It doesn’t help in the least that after she had already set up her boundaries, he tried using words to see if those boundaries were really inflexible, and by that point she was in the elevator in an ongoing situation. It was thankfully a low-key scene compared to some, but it was not appropriate, not wanted, and it did not end until she had actually escaped it herself.

  65. I actually really like the comparison by Beth in #39 between
    Watson (+ other feminists) and Mooney (+ other accommodationists).

    The basic problem with both seem to be the same; they are such paragons of rationality and they see their pet causes (feminism, harmonizing science and religion) as such worthy projects that atheists everywhere and atheism as a whole is diminished by not having them prominently enough on the agenda.

    The feminist/atheist party line seems to be that any atheist who is more interested in something other than feminism isn’t by definition sufficiently interested in countering “rape culture” and “patriarchy” and thus is at the very least “part of the problem”, an “MRA” or maybe even “rape apologist” (or in case of women, a “gender traitor”). And lest anyone forget, without fully embracing this line of thinking atheism “risks alienating people we want to work with” and make the “community significantly less attractive”.

    This very much reminds me of the episode here in Finland when the Christian Democrats made some anti-gay noises on national television last year which led to I think around 30000 people leaving the state church in the following week only (and 80000 by the end of the year). Only they couldn’t understand what the tragedy in that was supposed to be; from their perspective, the church only gains (in ideological purity) when people who don’t see anti-gay discrimination as its highest function leave.

  66. Daniel Voisin:

    I almost get the sense that the expectation is for a man to deny his natural sexual urges.

    Not deny, control. As in, only express when appropriate.

    That for a man to look at a woman and think say, “I would like to have some sex with her” is somehow dirty or wrong.

    Whining about thought crimes is fun*, but this discussion is actually about behavior, not thoughts. Coming up to a woman you’ve never spoken to and declaring that you would like to have sex with her is, indeed, creepy, as you obviously realize, because why else would you deflect the conversation to imaginary thought crimes?
    You may now complain about the nasty, censorious feminists who place your balls’ feelings below their own in their priorities.

    *if one is a moron

  67. Beth:

    I happen to agree with what PZ says in that quote but it also seems to me to completely and unselfconsciously mirror the arguments of the “Accommodationists” he has heaped so much scorn upon.

    The parallel doesn’t really work, unless you consider being a woman an arguably harmful foible or a point of disagreement that needs to be either argued out or overlooked.

    Somehow, I don’t think that PZ would like that revision.

    I’m pretty sure his and the Pharyngula commentariat’s response to it would have been (or will be? Time will tell) hilarious.

  68. To everyone:

    I have been watching all this, including in the pharyngula comments, on ERVs blog and elsewhere, and IMO there is one thing that is very important and extends beyond any of the specifics:

    The current approach to explaining sexual harassment is to explain the situation, just the facts, basically, and just go – you know? You understand how that’s bad? ERV does this in her comments. Watson does it.

    The thing is that that will never be enough to impart understanding to other people, including other women such as SC on ERV’s comment thread, because the main problem is the stress reaction, more than anything else. People who have never experienced extreme stress don’t have a clue what it is like subjectively (I have). That’s what’s missing in the explanation.

    It is not like working too hard, or having an exam tommorrow. There’s a lot of science on stress and I’m not going to try to explain what I know of it, but this is the crux of it – it destroys everything about you and your brain function goes out the window. Seriously. This is why women who are harrased at work are force to leave, and you cannot “just ignore it”. It will – not can, will – even give you very serious brain damage, and amazingly easily (in the hippocampus). And it can not go away entirely after the danger is removed, which equivalent to brain damage right there. There is much science to support this.

    And this does not, by the way, change the blame game at all, or if any it is in favor of the harassee. And it applies to short term threats to safety, too, which can cause stress over the long term as the individual now reacts to what was in the past a dangerous situation even when intellectually you know it’s okay now.

    And yes a dude would not know, blah blah, but I’m not going to impersonate a chick. This is my opinion, and it’s based on experiencing major threats to my physical safety over a long period of time (months), and the ensuing stress overload, as well as many hundreds hours reading about stress, and also feminist blogs and how it connects to sexual harassment. I have also been to court and found out that this sort of lack of understanding extend thoroughly throughout the legal system too.

    Feminists really need to look at the science here, measurements of hormone levels, congnitive benchmarking etc. and that will give some very powerful ammo for getting people to understand I think, and also perhaps their own understanding (not that I mean to minimize it, but we know this understanding is all still evolving, that is fair to say).

    Conveniently, this is right up the alley of people around sciblogs I would think, so here’s hoping…

  69. Adam is correct.

    This is a gigantic problem in appreciating how people will or will not respond to certain circumstances. If a situation triggers a stress response, then the response may not be under conscious control.

  70. Elevator or no, coffee or not, why do some men think that it’s a huge blow to their freedom to be told that one shouldn’t randomly request to be alone with a member of the opposite sex without any prior one-on-one interaction? Common courtesy should tell people that.

  71. Beth, I could have phrased my objection better, but yes, you are making a false equation here. When you replace “Women aren’t so much afraid that unruly mobs of atheist men will rape them at meetings” with “Accomodationists aren’t so much afraid that unruly mobs of atheist gnus will attack people physically at meetings” you use the plausibility of the first concern to bolster the plausibility of the second. Mobs of men do attack women. Mobs of gnus do not attack anyone physically.

    The concerns of women in situations like Rebecca’s are real concerns with implications for women’s security. The religious, in dealing with atheists, show a strong streak of paranoia. That makes your use of this situation and your comparison trivializing, whatever you meant for it to do.

  72. Oh Richard Dawkins!

    Don’t be such a d!ck. 🙁

    Please. You’re better than that. Much smarter. Usually. Nobody’s perfect, we’re all fallible human apes and, heck, I’ve messed things up often enough that I can understand where you’re coming from but, please Richard Dawkins, think a bit more and, ideally, have the decency to apologise to Rebecca Watson. You are in the wrong here and pointing out other, admittedly *far* worse, wrongs by others doesn’t make you any righter or better.

    Just one word :

    Consideration

    As in showing some to others along with some basic respect and manners. Dude, if you wanna get with a girl just try for a second to think – to consider – how she might feel and what she might want. An elevator at 4 a.m. is NOT the place especially when she doesn’t know you very, *very* well and has already said she’s sleepy and wants to go to bed. To sleep. Is that really so hard and such a horrible thing to say?

    Women do get raped in elevators and there is good reason for them to call you on being ungentlemanly and to be worried by people who do.

    Period.

    Oh & I’m a bloke. And I consider myself a feminist of sorts.

  73. There is no getting away from someone in an elevator. You are trapped, however briefly, and that makes it an incredibly bad place to proposition someone. Remember that 1 in 4 women has been raped, that rape is a horrific experience for a woman; that a man who is exactly the same size and health as a woman is twice her strength in the upper body, and most men are larger than women; and yeah, you really do need to be a little more tactful about what constitutes creepy or scary behavior. Because men, men you do not know, are scary. Men you do not know who bring up sex (however obliquely) in a small enclosed space are extra-special scary and creepy. End of story.

  74. Now for the elevator thing. In the world I grew up in, elevator etiquette said that one shouldn’t talk to random strangers in elevators. One is supposed to ride quietly while averting one’s eyes from any fellow passengers with whom one is not particularly well acquainted, as an acknowledgement of the fact that you are in a confined space and probably, by necessity, encroaching on each others comfort zones already. Did I miss the part where this became old fashioned?

    I hear guys complaining fairly regularly about how rude it is to strike up a conversation with other men while at a urinal. And I’ve heard people complain about others that continue to try to hold conversations with them through bathroom stalls.

    All of these behaviors are rude for pretty much the same reason. The person trying to engage in conversation is, whether knowingly or not, taking advantage of the compromised position of the other person. It should not be controversial to point out that one shouldn’t do this, regardless of the genders, ages, colors, or whatever of the people involved!

  75. So it’s better to alienate women than real people, that’s what I’m getting out of this and why I am not and never will be a part of your movement.

  76. “So it’s better to alienate women than real people, that’s what I’m getting out of this and why I am not and never will be a part of your movement.”

    I’d say it’s better to alienate feminists than a) anyone with a penis (that is, “actual or potential rapist”) and b) any woman who doesn’t primarily identify as a feminist (that is, “gender traitor”).

    But by all means, you can have that and call it whatever you like, “atheism” included. I’ll just find something else to call my position towards, you know, God existing and stuff like that.

  77. Contrarian, I see what you mean and I don’t think we are too far off in agreement on much of this .

    Summing up, the Rebecca Watson “incident” is a case where a woman reacted correctly, and even made something educational out of it.

    Yup

    But, even though I am convinced RW did no wrong,

    Nope. He a) made a logical fallacy (see my “Watch the Monkey” post) and b) he jumped in on the side of this discussion that is, like it or not, going along with the idea of telling Rebecca that she should not have opened her mouth to begin with.

    …do you really think Dawkins wanted to censor people with his comment?

    Yes. His comments are, to me, the comments of someone who would prefer if the narrative he is commenting on had not been said out loud.

    The whole step-back-and-keep-things-in-perspective bit doesn’t ring any bells for you?

    There is no doubt in my mind that there is more yammering going on than the situation deserves, but that is not because this is not a serious issue worthy of extensive discussion, but rather, because there are a lot of people who refuse to get on board with the initial premise (that no one has the right to tell a woman what she should not feel in response to a situation like this). That is senseless yammering. Much of the other yammering could be more efficient but it is important.

    Is it not something you find useful and apply when you find yourself in long heated debates with the people you have to live with?

    OK, I just checked your IP and you are not my wife or daughter so I guess you mean metaphorically!

  78. Stephanie said: When you replace “Women aren’t so much afraid that unruly mobs of atheist men will rape them at meetings” with “Accomodationists aren’t so much afraid that unruly mobs of atheist gnus will attack people physically at meetings” you use the plausibility of the first concern to bolster the plausibility of the second. Mobs of men do attack women. Mobs of gnus do not attack anyone physically.

    Stephanie, you seem to have misread this. Neither fear is considered rational in the context of the discussion but is, instead, an exaggeration made to ridicule those who are asking others to change their behavior -with the implication that because it isn’t a rational fear therefore it is not justification for changing behavior. PZ’s point (and mine) is that such exaggerations are not the reason for the request to change behavior.

    At any rate, thank you for acknowledging that I did not equate rape with disagreement in my revision of PZ’s paragraph.

    If you have time, I would still be interested to know what the ‘real harm’ is that you feel I should focus on.

  79. Beth, the reference to “real harm” was to the realities of the situations behind those fears. The fear PZ ruled out is an exaggeration of a real, rational fear based on real harm done by rapists. Yours is an exaggeration of a phantom.

  80. Jim: Let’s be clear, asking someone for sex is not a crime. …I reserve the right to ask any woman for sex at any time.

    Greg: Keep a first aid kit handy, buddy. You might need it! Or at least an ice pack.

    So assault is fine, Greg?

    Though personally I believe that RD was wrong to bring up other problems women face in other countries, it’s no more wrong than the continued banging on about rape from those against RD and for RW.

    I’ve had girls FAR too young to be anything other than jailbait hit on me.

    Is this evidence of female privilege?

    THAT is what I didn’t like about PZ’s thread and this one is absolutely wrong for much the same reason: the title has nothing to do with the event, everything to do with the demonisation after the event.

    Could some of you please try to think what YOU would be thinking if you acted like EG did.

    Maybe:

    Woman makes eye contact. “I’m tired, I’m going to bed” Wink wink.
    Bloke follows to see if there really WAS a wink wink there.
    Bloke finds out there wasn’t.
    Bloke leaves.

    Where is the problem now?

    So, please all you women yakking on about how you’re packing, pack it in. Murder is far worse than rape, since there’s not a single person who’s managed to survive death. And in this case, NO sexual assault was made.

    It wasn’t even imposition of the male privilege.

    Whatever the hell THAT is.

  81. Any *unwanted* advance will be defined by women as “creepy”. If EG had gone up to Watson at the bar and said the same thing, she might still have characterized it as creepy. Sent her a dozen roses with a card with the same proposition? Creepy! Called her up on the phone and said the same thing? Creepy! In fact, if he had shown any interest in any way and Watson wasn’t interested it would be creepy and most of the sisters would have had a good laugh at EG’s creepiness.

    Freud summed it up nicely:

    The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’

    The problem for men is knowing if the advance is wanted or not. Perhaps women could provide us with a manual?

    –bks

  82. “There is most decidedly something wrong with asking for sex then.”

    What, really, is wrong about it? There are people who have big dogs and they bark. That’s just as scary. There are groups of women drunk who are trying to take my kit off in the street. I find that scary. There are people driving fast past me, I find that scary.

    But what’s wrong with having a dog, being drunk with your pals, driving down a street.

    What would be WRONG would be to ignore the “no”.

    NOTE: I’ve offered to walk a woman home and done just that: walked her home. IF I’d wanted to have rumpy-pumpy, I’d’ve asked.

    NOTE: I’ve (twice) been with my mates, one offered to buy some women we were talking with drinks. He’s Irish, he buys drinks, in fact it’s hard to get your own round in. The women have variously said something along the lines of “We’re married, so only a drink”. Did he do something wrong by treating women differently?

  83. “As a gay male, I’m seriously perturbed by the alternative scenario proposed by Greg and the Athiest Cartoons comic in which it’s a gay man committing the harassment.”

    I found it odd too. It doesn’t have to be a gay man to rape you. In fact, there wasn’t any rape nor any appearance of an attempt at it. Hence it isn’t necessary to mention rape anywhere in the alternative either. Yet this was done to cement the idea that rape is the problem here.

    So gayness or not, it doesn’t matter.

    What if it’d been a burly scotsman smelling of whiskey? He’d kick seven bells out of you and that’s STILL assault.

    So can I get all the people bigger and rougher looking than me to think of MY feelings and stop trying to interact with me and scaring me?

    Doubly so for armed officers of the law!

  84. Meg: I think all Rebecca Watson was trying to do was asking men to be more sensitive about this sort of thing.

    And that’s something I can get behind (no matter what my earlier posts imply).

    My beef is the aftermath that’s led to, for example, the title of this thread.

    No rape. RD hasn’t said he’s told you how to protect yourself from rape.

    But histrionics is a much easier thing to do. And appropriation of victimhood so much more comforting.

    And Greg’s admonition to carry a first aid kit is far more insensitive than EG’s words.

  85. Yes, guys. We women will all get together and standardize what we want so we can write that manual to make your terribly difficult lives just a smidge easier for you.

    This isn’t about someone not knowing what Rebecca wanted. This is about someone ignoring what Rebecca had spent hours stating she wanted. It is also about a whole bunch of people who can’t seem to hear what she said on the subject and can’t figure out when the fuck to stop asking.

  86. “If women are vocal about what kind of advance they find creepy…”

    No, flora, it’s the idea that if some bloke doesn’t see the problem that they’re immediately flouncing their male privilege. It’s the idea that a woman being creeped out is the same as a woman getting raped (which, oddly enough, was the error that PZ complained about being done by RD). It’s the fact that men get raped too but that men cannot and are not scared by it (apparently).

    It’s the fact that, apparently, women have the right to absolute safety even in their heads and that the breech of that is “always the manz fault”.

    And it’s that last bit that keeps the controversy going.

    It’s that the woman saying “I was creeped out” is her statement of what she felt. “I was just asking” is the man’s statement of what he felt.

    But apparently that means defending the man’s point of view here is histrionics about menz weiners falling off.

  87. “We women will all get together and standardize what we want so we can write that manual to make your terribly difficult lives just a smidge easier for you.”

    Well, given that the blokes don’t have requirements like “Don’t ask me for a coffee at 4am in an elevator”, don’t you think it’s rather more necessary that you list your do’s and dont’s Stephanie?

    Try thinking why you WOULD act like EG did.

    It’s an exercise in empathy that very few people are trying.

  88. snowflake: Whining about thought crimes is fun*, but this discussion is actually about behavior, not thoughts.

    The behaviour, though, was a non-bad. It was unwelcome and creepy for the woman, but that brings us to THOUGHT crime again.

    contrarian had a good take on it (as in it accords with my take). RW was right to say what she did, the kerfuffle afterwards was wrong.

    From other reports it seems like RD was complaining about RW’s follow up when another female wondered where the beef was in RW’s story. It appears that that then brought up all the “Well, she was afraid she was gonna be raped”, which isn’t as far as I can tell, what RW said to begin with.

    Being creeped out is not the same as fearing rape.

    It may be what RW *meant*, mind. But that then brings us back to thoughtcrime.

    If EG was a rapist, do you think anything RW would have done other than “push the emergency exit button and scream” have helped? After all, an actual factual rapist wouldn’t have worried about her being creeped out.

    No.

    And I don’t think RW did either.

  89. “why do some men think that it’s a huge blow to their freedom to be told that one shouldn’t randomly request to be alone with a member of the opposite sex without any prior one-on-one interaction?”

    Kierra, there is nothing that says these two people didn’t interact.

    The story EXPLICITLY says “have a coffee” not “have a shag”.

    The story implies that the two people had interacted.

    You’re wrong three times because you’re ASSUMING what’s going on based on your prejudice. And it’s the source of the misdirected complaints of “Women think all men are rapists” when it’s actually only a few do. A few like you, Kierra.

  90. bks> Please, please, please do NOT hit on any more women until you receive your copy of the manual. While you wait, any women who want to engage with your will seek you out.

    I love all the comments about guys indignant about having to control their natural impulses. Sometimes, when I am alone in an elevator, I find that I have to pee. Somehow, I am able to control myself until I am at an appropriate place (eg a bathroom) before I give in to my natural impulses.

    I’m a big (but mostly gentle) guy, and I have absolutely no problem with getting that my size and gender make some women uncomfortable. When I get in an elevator with a woman, especially late at night, I am careful to make sure that I am giving her space and not making any moves or comments that could make her feel uncomfortable. I must be superhuman, then, because this seems to give a lot of guys trouble. Where do I register as a mutant to begin training for the X-Men?

  91. “Just one word :

    Consideration

    As in showing some to others along with some basic respect and manners.”

    I don’t see any consideration for EG going on here from those demanding consideration for women in elevators.

    I see a lot of “he wants sex” when he asked for coffee.

  92. “You completely ignored what Rebecca had said she wanted.”

    You completely ignored what I said too, so in a sense we’re quits, hmm.

    From EG’s POV what was the scenario.

    Woman. Drinking. I’m tired and going to bed. Hint hint.

    From RW’s POV:

    Drinking. I’m tired and going to bed.

    You’re also ignoring what EG asked for.

    You’re also ignoring EG’s actions and projecting a future that never happened. He was told no. He accepted no. Those actions are being ignored.

    Now, RW said a lot. Which bit are you claiming to be pertinent when you say “she said what she wanted” because all the concrete evidence I’ve had is that

    1) she says she’s said she finds this sort of propositioning creepy but doesn’t actually quote herself (which is rather normal when you’re not making an official statement)

    2) EG asks her if she wants a coffee. A direct quote is given in her story.

    3) RW says no. A direct quote is given in her story.

    It doesn’t look like either I or EG ignored what she said. EG may have misunderstood the unrecorded statement in #1 and I’ve no statement to ignore for #1, just an interpretation.

  93. Stephanie: Do you do that when someone tells you they don’t want sex too?

    EG accepted the “no” too.

    So what does your accusation have to do with anything?

    quietmarc: I love all the comments about guys indignant about having to control their natural impulses.

    No, I believe the comments are indignant about how guys are supposed to know whether a woman wants an advance or not every single time with the punishment for getting it wrong and propositioning where it is unwelcome is met with something like “Why are all men rapists?” criminalisation.

    “Sometimes, when I am alone in an elevator, I find that I have to pee. Somehow, I am able to control myself until I am at an appropriate place (eg a bathroom) before I give in to my natural impulses.”

    And this isn’t about wanting a pee.

    If you want to talk to someone and you’re in an elevator and they’re not going to the same room, do you talk to them there and then or do you follow them back to their room or do you decide that you can’t talk to them?

    It seems like the third option is the only one that is safe.

    However, it makes meeting new people rather difficult if you have to wait until you’ve seen them many times before you’re allowed to talk to them.

    “I am careful to make sure that I am giving her space and not making any moves or comments that could make her feel uncomfortable.”

    But you have to discern what moves or comments would make her uncomfortable.

    Which rather gets us back to the entire point: EG discerned incorrectly.

    HOWEVER, he was completely in control and didn’t just rip RW’s clothes off anyway or wave his todger about.

    His ONLY crime is that he didn’t discern correctly for RW’s own set of comfort zones what would make her uncomfortable.

    And RD has made the proposition that this is no crime whatsoever.

    Yet all this talk of rape is the result.

  94. Quietmarc: You’re comparing peeing to talking? You’re one weird dude! In fact, you’re creeping me out.

    –bks

  95. Stephanie said “Beth, the reference to “real harm” was to the realities of the situations behind those fears. The fear PZ ruled out is an exaggeration of a real, rational fear based on real harm done by rapists. Yours is an exaggeration of a phantom.”

    So by “real harm” you meant the reality that rape happens as opposed to the “phantom” harm of other forms of violence which don’t? I don’t think my change was any more of a “phantom” than one I replaced.

    Incidently, something you seem to have missed, is that I’m in agreement with RW on everything she did and most of what she said. I also agree with what PZ said that I quoted. I’d just like to see that attitude of tolerance and respect for others extended to other groups of people.

  96. Yeah, a woman who has spent the last several hours saying she doesn’t want to be hit on and then announces she’s tired and wants sleep is hinting that she wants to be invited back to someone’s room. Wow, keep the fuck away from me.

  97. Good thing I hadn’t taken my daily irony supplement before checking on this thread, because I think Wow & BKS have provided, like, 5000 times more than the maximum RDA.

  98. “Yeah, a woman who has spent the last several hours saying she doesn’t want to be hit on”

    Which is the interpretation of what was MEANT by the person making it.

    How was that said?

    How could it be misinterpreted?

    And please remember that some people here believe that EG was not part of the group RW was chatting with, so there’s a lot of misinterpreting of the story going on even on basic facts, never mind interpretations of what was meant rather than interpretations of what was said.

    The only factual quotes were the ones in 2 and 3. “Do you want a coffee?” “No”. Willie stayed in trousers, woman remains unravished.

    A non-crime.

    PS this is the internet, Steph. Thousands of miles may remain between us (which is a relief to me too, since I have an aversion to nutters nearby, especially ones where I’m coerced by social norms to only reacting to assault, never able to be proactive about it).

    So, now we’ve gotten the insults out of the way, can I remind you that you haven’t actually quoted the bit of what RW SAID that you harp on about being ignored.

  99. Beth, knock it off. Violence by gnus against people of faith is not general violence. You want to make a point about accommodation? Go for it. I might even agree with you. Stop leveraging rape to make your point.

  100. Flora, I think you need to stop using the Allanis Morisette version of Ironic.

    Ironic doesn’t mean “says something I don’t agree with”.

  101. Wow, if you’re unaware of what Rebecca said, stop telling me it could be misinterpreted. She posted a video talking about the situation, and she put up a blog post with further information. It’s out there. If you choose to ignore it, well, we can all interpret that for ourselves, can’t we?

  102. bks> Meh. From what I’ve read of your comments, I’m fine with creeping you out. I probably would want to limit my interactions with you to as little as possible. You creep ME out with your inability to understand the issues.

  103. Watson spent all night drinking in a hotel bar in Dublin saying she doesn’t want to be hit on? Very, very creepy.

    –bks

  104. All that means, bks, is that RW’s statement is a summation of what she meant set purely within the context of her story about a man who asked her for a date.

    It’s not creepy.

    What’s creepy is that people forget that it’s a summation of purely that element persuant to the actions that creeped her out and jump straight to “she spend hours telling everyone she didn’t want to get hit on”.

    “if you’re unaware of what Rebecca said, stop telling me it could be misinterpreted”

    Why? If it can’t be misinterpreted, then you must already know what she said.

    Except you haven’t actually said what was stated that was ignored.

    RW says: “I don’t like it when a guy I’ve never met before asks me on a date”.

    Interpretation1: “Don’t ask me out on a date”

    Interpretation2: “Don’t walk up to me and ask me for a date unless I already have spent some time talking with you”

    Also note it’s rather hard to take that hypothetical quote and make it span several hours.

    PS has anyone considered maybe it was a wind-up from EG? I.e. if the answer was “OK”, EG would say “Nah, I’ve changed my mind”?

    After all, if RW spent hours mostly telling how she didn’t want men asking her for a date, maybe EG wanted to wind her up for being so single-mindedly anti-male.

    In much the same way as Gnu Atheists may wind up a God botherer with a leading question about their faith.

  105. Wow, I’m not familiar with Ms. Morisette’s work. You and bks are more in the line of life’s little ironies a la Thomas Hardy.
    In your case, there is little for art to do – if you and bks were fictional caricatures of misogynist boors, you would be considered too exaggerated to be real.

  106. Kierra, there is nothing that says these two people didn’t interact.

    See comment 52 of this thread:

    Please read what Rebecca wrote here: http://networkedblogs.com/jZNWh
    “I was invited back to the hotel room of a man I had never spoken to before and who was present to hear me say that I was exhausted and wanted to go to bed.”

    The story EXPLICITLY says “have a coffee” not “have a shag”.

    I never said anything about having sex. Whether he actually wanted sex or just coffee, he was asking her to go to his room. Which as I stated, means he was asking her to be alone in a room with him for an extended period of time. This is not something that it is polite to ask someone whom you have not previously been conversing with.

    The story implies that the two people had interacted.

    No such interaction was implied. See above about the fact that they hadn’t actually interacted in any meaningful way before the elevator incident.

  107. Flora: Speaking of fin de siecle English lit, did you also read D.H. Lawrence? If so I’d be interested in dicussing your ideas further. Perhaps over coffee?

    –bks

  108. Fair enough Kierra, misread your earlier post.

    “This is not something that it is polite to ask someone whom you have not previously been conversing with.”

    Problem: this is a non-crime. It’s rather odd that with the first amendment and all the WBC yells how a gay soldier is burning in hell is all A-OK because people have a right to say things but this doesn’t mean a right not to get offended.

    Yet here we have someone being impolite (true) but it’s all a crime (false) because, well, why?

    “He’s a bloke with a willy” seems to be a big unwritten assumption (cf the shrivelling menz tonker comment earlier).

    “Men rape women” is another big unwritten assertion.

    Neither really do anything other than demonise 50% of the human population.

    So why is being impolite brought such a multitude of threads condemning EG?

    Why is asking that question caused RD to be demonised?

    And bks may be overblowing his/her point to show the idiocy by taking the opposite extreme.

    “No such interaction was implied. ”

    Yet that reading doesn’t have any assertion that EG was there to hear RW say that she didn’t want to be propositioned.

    Which then gives us a possible scenario as I roughed out in post 100 and also breaks Stephanie’s assertion that EG knew RW’s multi-hour talk that included enough references to her aversion to being propositioned to ensure EG knew the answer was “no”.

  109. “Wow, I’m not familiar with Ms. Morisette’s work.”

    Really?

    http://www.lyrics007.com/Alanis%20Morissette%20Lyrics/Ironic%20Lyrics.html

    Which makes the song ironic since all the “ironic” elements asserted are, in fact, not ironic at all.

    You do seem to be doing rather a roaring trade at being a bloody idiot, though.

    The internet, however, has a full quotient of them, so your services in that regard are not required.

    So, do you have anything actually substantive to say, or just teenager slanging?

  110. Stephanie,

    Rape is a serious crime, as is any violent crime. I do not feel that I have leveraged rape to make a point, although I appreciate your taking the time to explain why you felt that way.

    I’ve asked you politely to explain what you meant by your accusations. I’ve read to your posts and decided I don’t agree with you on that point. I hope you can, if not understand that, accept it and move on.

  111. Wow [107] No, flora, it’s the idea that if some bloke doesn’t see the problem that they’re immediately flouncing their male privilege.

    That would potentially be unfair, as long as “immediate” is not a replacement for the level of sevrity. I.e., a man need not take any time, or be given any time, to know certain things … you walk out the door knowing these things. But there are certainly situations where man can make a woman uncomfortable and do so more or less innocently. Since this whole discussion started I found myself several times in groups of people (which is not normal for me, I usually avoid all human contact whenever possible, for obvious reasons) and I heard a few of those stories.

    But this is not the case with Elevator Guy.

    It’s the idea that a woman being creeped out is the same as a woman getting raped

    The two acts are not the same but they are linked. That is what some people are getting and some people are not getting.

    It’s the fact that men get raped too

    The vast majority of sexual assault among free-ranging adults is man attacking/assaulting women. Vast. Majority.

    It’s the fact that, apparently, women have the right to absolute safety even in their heads and that the breech of that is “always the manz fault”.

    Everyone has the right to strive for safety, but in order for there to be equity in this regard men have to do some things. Which you are advocating against. I wonder why.

    Moving on to comment 108: The fact is that someone asked a woman for a coffee.

    Incorrect. Get your facts straight.

    Wow [110]The behaviour, though, was a non-bad. It was unwelcome and creepy for the woman, but…

    The fact that you think there is a valid “but” clause in this thought makes you a dick. What else are you? What sort of behavior that you engage in on a regular basis are you trying to justify here?

    Regarding the rest of your comment: I get that you say the words out loud when you read, but do you also have to write them down for us to see?

  112. Quietmarc I’m a big (but mostly gentle) guy, and I have absolutely no problem with getting that my size and gender make some women uncomfortable. When I get in an elevator with a woman, especially late at night, I am careful to make sure that I am giving her space and not making any moves or comments that could make her feel uncomfortable. I

    I shouldn’t have to say “thank you” for that because it should be a given. But it isn’t, apparently. So, thank you.

  113. “So, please all you women yakking on about how you’re packing, pack it in. Murder is far worse than rape, since there’s not a single person who’s managed to survive death. And in this case, NO sexual assault was made.”

    This is where things get scary for me. Emitt Till didn’t assault anyone, he just whistled at a white woman.

  114. Quietmarc: You’re comparing peeing to talking? You’re one weird dude! In fact, you’re creeping me out.

    bks … you don’t understand. You are comparing an inappropriate advance with “talking.” Do you have any females in your life who will be honest with you? Go have a talk. One in four of them will prolly get it wrong, so talk to a couple. But remember, they have to be the ones who will be honest with you, not the ones you’ve dominated and who are either scared of you or dont’ give a shit about you.

  115. Wow [119] It’s also called empathy.

    Wow, as in the exclamation, not the noun. Sorry, you don’t get to co-opt empathy.

    Looking up where you live now so I can see if I need to warn anyone.

  116. “The two acts are not the same but they are linked. That is what some people are getting and some people are not getting.”

    The two acts are linked? Well, the linkage is done in RW’s mind. Not in Stef’s mind. Not in RW’s mind. Not (one assumes) in EG’s mind.

    GL: TOUCHE! YOU GOT IT!!!!! EXACTLY

    OK, now, go away.

  117. I think, in retrospect, that what bothers me about Dawkin’s careless brushing-off of the issue is that he believes he knows more about the safety of women in elevators than women.

    That’s pretty much my take on this. Dawkins is a biologist, and a prominent atheist; and while he may deserve respect for his words and deeds in those two fields, he also should know better than to make himself look like a dick by pretending to be an expert in other fields in which he is clearly…not. Dawkins’ opinion on women’s safety issues is no more useful than my opinion on musicology; and he had no good reason to pretend to be knowledgeable at someone else’s expense.

    There are too many religious converts who feel they have to pretend their new-found religion gives them special insight into all manner of things they really know nothing about. IT’s kinda sad, and not a little embarrassing, to see gung-ho high-profile atheists behaving the same way.

  118. Greg, don’t be a patronizing ass. I have two grown children. Quietmarc’s analogy was absurd. It would only have been apposite if EG *had* raped Watson in the elevator.

    –bks

  119. One reason Beth’s attempted parallel to accomodationism doesn’t work is that the gnu atheist attitude towards religious beliefs really is negative in a way that male atheists by and large don’t intend towards females. Some of us really want religious people to quit being religious and join our side, ASAP, and we feel that ridicule and other in-your-face, offense-causing tactics may be of use alongside “nicer” ones. I am a male atheist who doesn’t mind making Mormons (male or female) uncomfortable qua Mormonism, but I definitely don’t want to discomfort or offend women (religious or otherwise) qua femaleness or sexuality.

  120. Also, good God, about a hundred comments more are one my screen than before I posted that ; my browser must be too ingrained in its cache,

  121. This is pretty clear cut. Every single commenter here and at PZs blog who complains about RW and her lack of comfort on the elevator and her calling out the student in the speech who has said more than a few words has demonstrated a marked degree of male privilege and sexism.

  122. Andrew [56] … someone just pointed out to me that there is some confusion here. The man in the posted cartoon is not a “gay man” as far as I know. He’s a famous creationist, which you can identify by the fact that he looks like him but also because he is holding a banana. Well, maybe he’s gay and maybe not, but that is not the point in that instance.

  123. This in ancedotal but it may be useful for folks who don’t understand the different social and cultural contexts that men and women have regarding the threat of sexual assault.

    Since 1999, I have facilitated workshop for training adults to lead human sexuality workshops with age-appropriate content for children, adolescents, and adults as part of the “Our Whole Lives” curriculum series jointly developed in partnership with secular public health agencies (Planned Parenthood, Advocates for Youth, SIECUS, etc) and two church denominations (Unitarian Universalist Association and United Church of Christ).

    One of the activites that we do in the training workshop for adults who will be teaching adults is a lifespan timeline activity where folks talk about where significant sexual events will happen in the lifespan (using a roughly 6 foot or 2 meter long strip of paper marked off into decade increments from prenatal/age 0 to the 90th decade).

    The participants are divided into male and female groups for this activity.

    Each group is given a black marker to record volutary events subject to individual control and a red marker to record involuntary events not subject to individual control.

    I have done this activity for many times over the past decade with groups in secular and religious settings in New England, Texas, and Nevada.

    I have always seen the female group record the “first sexual intercourse” event with both red and black colors (the event can be voluntary or involuntary). Women are aware that the first intercourse experience may not a voluntary choice for all women.

    I have always seen the male group record the “first sexual intercourse” event with just the black color reflecting an individual choice. Apparently, men may be less aware that intercourse can be forced.

    This may explain why women and men view the “Elevator Guy” coffee invite differently.

    PS — If you ever find yourself doing this activity in a sexuality education workshop with the male participant group, please stay quiet about this observation. The post-activity discussion where you ask the participants if they see any similiarities or differences between genders is important and it can be very educational for men to realize that women may have different concerns than they do. It can be a real “Eureka” moment for some.

  124. Steve, in our off-blog discussions this (training) has come up, but not yet on the blog, so thanks for talking about this.

    Which leads me to ask: Do UK colleges and universities have training at all for their faculty? I’m guessing either no, or certain faculty skipped it.

  125. “I usually avoid all human contact whenever possible, for obvious reasons) and I heard a few of those stories.”

    HA!

    I’d love to hear the backstory on that!

  126. Well, I do think the rape comparison may be taking it a bit far, but I’ve gotta say, as a non-atheist it’s a striking demonstration of the concept that religion does not cause men to objectify women. Men objectify women, end of story. Atheist men do not have much moral high ground when it comes to feminism or objectification of women.

  127. Jerry Seinfeld made the elevator chat-up seem very innocent and cute and inoffensive (by making a joke instead of just coming straight on). But now with all this chatter recently elevators are starting to sound more like horrible boxes of death. Is there a middle ground? Flirting is fun 🙁 Some of us build up so much courage and are usually expecting knock-backs, it stings when the object of our attraction makes it into this big deal.

    Maybe we just shouldn’t try anymore? In my younger days I had girls coming on to ME cos I was so shy… I guess I’m used to this new world of female confidence. I can’t say I mind it at ALL. But it shouldn’t be a crime for us to try our hand at being the cool guy who gets the girl in one of those cliched venues (like the cold-conversation on elevator with the attractive and intelligent stranger, or going back for that waitress’ number at the coffee shop, or getting the guts to even smile at someone across from you on the train).

    One of my favourite memories of single life is having a girl smile at me on a tram and strike up a conversation. Took me by surprise, and I fought my instinct to end the conversation and look out the window like a good public transport passenger and actually allowed myself to get into a conversation with this person. Ultimately we never actually hooked up but we went on a few dates and remain friends.

    Good things come from striking up the courage, people. Girls. Boys. Everyone. Please don’t be afraid. I’m spoken for, but it would be a crap world if everyone were robots who couldn’t take a chance once in a while.

  128. Just as an added piece of info: I was the one who originally posted the links Greg is quoting in his post. They are all from a Google News search limited to the past 30 days.

  129. Ibis3: Did you? I got them straight from Google. Apparently great minds think alike. Had I stolen the content form you I definitely would have linked back!

    Where did you post them?

  130. @ Greg: I posted them in the Pharyngula comments. I didn’t mean to imply that you stole anything from me (esp. since it was not original material or anything). I just assumed that you followed the links I posted. Great minds indeed. Thanks for being on the right side in this. It’s a constant disappointment to see not only how sexist the sceptical/atheist community is, but also how entrenched and attached it is to that sexism. It’s good that there is at least a small contingent that keeps on fighting.

  131. Ibis3: Actually, the number of people who are clearly not on the right side is less than I would have expected! Positive social change? Or just people learning to shut up at the appropriate time …. either way is probably good.

  132. Greg Laden asked:

    Which leads me to ask: Do UK colleges and universities have training at all for their faculty? I’m guessing either no, or certain faculty skipped it.

    Greg,

    I don’t know if any university in the US or the UK requires any sort of human sexuality eduation as a general faculty requirement.

    If UK colleges and universities have a general human sexuality education faculty requirement today, older faculty like Dr. Dawkins may be “grandfathered” in.

    In the US, the Unitarian Universalists now require their ministerial candidates to have documented “competency” in the area of human sexuality. Most of them attend the type of training workshops that I facilitate to fill this square. But there is no requirement for anyone who already has ministerial credentials to attend a training workshop or otherwise fill this human sexuality competency “square.”

  133. Regular reader here, disappointed with Greg’s interpretation of Dawkins.

    Greg 9: Gabby, Richard is the one who made this into an issue about escape from assault.

    On the contrary. Richard never mentioned assault. Indeed, if he was making it about assault, you’d hardly expect him to say that all the Watson had to do to leave the situation was to press a button and step off the elevator.

    Greg 42: Keep a first aid kit handy, buddy. You might need it! Or at least an ice pack.

    Wouldn’t that constitute assault from the woman? Inviting a woman for coffee does not warrant her “defending” herself against him. (Of course, it’d be completely different if he kept repeating his invitations there, or made threatening movement/comments).

    Can we appreciate the difference between being justifiably uncomfortable and being assaulted? I don’t believe Dawkins ever said anything that supports this:

    Recently, Richard Dawkins said (full quote below) that a woman should not be concerned about her own safety if she finds herself in an elevator (under some sort of threat, presumably), because it is trivially easy to get out of an elevator if you are under attack.

  134. Greg, you’re being dishonest with Dawkin’s comment. He was saying that an elevator, in itself, is not inescapable.

    You’re reading into it that he’s saying “an elevator with a person actively trying to keep you from escaping is not inescapable.”

    The moment that elevator guy positioned himself in a manner to prevent Rebecca from reaching the buttons or the door, THEN it would become inescapable. BUT WE HAVE NO EVIDENCE THAT ELEVATOR GUY DID ANY OF THESE THINGS – THEREFORE THE ELEVATOR IS ESCAPABLE AND EASILY SO!

  135. For those who are down on Rebecca Watson, try to look at it in this light – she was just trying to give those of us who are clueless a lesson in manners.
    The elevator guy pulled an epic FAIL in the elevator. You can approach the opposite sex in any legal way, and if you want some chance of success you have to occasionally be prepared to fail, but try to avoid the epic fail. The fail is where the other person says no, but remains fine with the suggestion. The epic fail is where you totally creep out the other person, as in this case. Elevators, 4 am and other things are all relevant but not totally the point. All she is saying is think about how the other person might feel and it will go better.

  136. Greg, you’re being dishonest with Dawkin’s comment. He was saying that an elevator, in itself, is not inescapable.

    Actually, since it’s a dead end at best, and a small closed room at worst, it IS kinda inescapable, or can be if someone is physically blocking the exit and/or the controls (which isn’t hard to do). So even if that’s all Dawkins was saying, it was still an insultingly stupid (and unhelpful) thing to say.

  137. Glenn, flirting is fun and right and nice and flattering, indeed… but there’s a right way, a right time and a right place for these things and finding these times and places and ways is very rewarding. It needs a kind of effort that “Elevator Guy”, if he even wanted a real reward and not just a treat, was not willing to invest, it appears.

  138. Glenn, flirting is fun and right and nice and flattering, indeed… but there’s a right way, a right time and a right place for these things and finding these times and places and ways is very rewarding. It needs a kind of effort that “Elevator Guy”, if he even wanted a real reward and not just a treat, was not willing to invest, it appears.

  139. @Greg Really? Maybe my expectations were higher than yours? Or maybe this is actually an improvement since a time before I was involved?

    On the surface, it would seem like ditching the structural framework that holds patriarchy & misogyny up should lead to a community/movement/assembly/ that is largely free of it. Or at least deliberately attempts to be. This is not what I experience at all.

    On every forum, on every video by a woman or featuring a woman that I’ve ever watched which has to do with atheism, scepticism, or the promotion of a rationalist/scientific approach to real world issues, I encounter the objectification of women and general sliminess of sexist attitudes. This is not limited to a few outliers who are quickly confronted and shunned. Instead it is condoned, accepted, or, at best, objected to with mild disapprobation–often by those considered the community’s “leaders” (as in this situation by Richard effin’ Dawkins).

    Any resistance or calling out is met by apologia, dismissal, calls to STFU, charges of hysteria or being a radical “feminazi”. I expect such treatment from the religious, the backward, the regressives. I feel betrayed and hurt when it comes from those who ought to be allies.

    I guess, given the evidence I’ve just catalogued, I ought to lower my expectations and consider any tiny chipping away at the petrified monstrosity as an invitation for optimism? I don’t know if I can do that. Sometimes it just seems like a lost cause. [/disheartened]

  140. Steve [159] The University of Minnesota requires all employees to undergo various training that would cover this, though the training is more intensive for advising staff. It is hard to make faculty even be aware of stuff they are required to do, let alone getting them to actually do it, however.

  141. Ben, the dissapointment will dissipate the moment you realize what is going on here.

    On the contrary. Richard never mentioned assault.

    He did not use the word assault, I added that. I added that because it is what we are talking about, it is what he was responding to, it is the central and key issue in this entire conversation.

    What, exactly, was Richard saying one would escape from if not the threat of assault? Boring conversation?

    Can we appreciate the difference between being justifiably uncomfortable and being assaulted?

    Absolutely no one is missing that difference, Ben. But what you are missing is that the discomfort is ABOUT THE THREAT of assault.

    EasilyEnthused: You are making rouhgly the same mistake Ben is making: Totally missing the point, willfully I suspect. Examine your thinking here, please. Examine the consequences of your thinking. Examine how dumb you look being so willfully intractable in the area of sexual assault of women. Seriously.

  142. May I point out that all this happened in Europe, not in highly enlightened Berkeley or Boston? While not the Middle East, if “I went to Europe and the worst that happened to me was being asked out for coffee in an uncomfortable spot after a night at the bar” is all you have to tell, you didn’t get around far in regards to an evening out in most places. Think NASCAR crowd with a better taste in beer, and, due to the availability of public transport, more inebriated.

  143. Uh, guys? If you really want to talk to a woman, when it’s already 4 AM and she’s tired, ask her to have lunch with you tomorrow.

    That’s not even a gender thing. That’s a have-some-respect-that-human-beings-need-sleep thing.

    Give her your phone number, via a business or calling card.

    Try to do this where there are other people around, so she doesn’t worry about you being close enough to grab her arm. This *is* a gender thing. Women are trained to manage potential danger by being alert and presenting fewer opportunities to harm them. It is not women’s fault they are trained this way. It is the fault of criminals, who make it so that everyone who cares about women’s safety wants them to be careful.

    If you don’t want women to be careful, you either A) haven’t thought about the dangers possible or B) don’t care about women’s safety.

    Chances are, Elevator Guy falls into category A. But Dawkins and those who keep arguing after being told that it was a potentially dangerous setting, so Watson had to be alert (creeped out), are really trying to sort themselves into category B. Which is fine, I guess, but don’t be surprised when fewer women come to your events.

  144. Re: Dawkins ‘telling RW to shut up’. Would it be possible for Dawkins/anyone to express the point that they think that what EG did is ‘no big deal’ without it being construed as trying to ‘shut her up’?

    Which is not to defend either Dawkins or EG. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what EG actually said, but the fact that this took place alone in an elevator late at night makes it pretty inexcusable; power dynamics and all. He could have made the same stupid pass with lots of people around. RW’s calling out Stef the way she did is similarly inexcusable; power dynamics and all. She could have written a blog post, talked directly with Stef, etc, that would have been far fairer and less outright bogue. They both should have known better.

  145. Elizabeth,
    So the suggestions above that this was ‘objectifying’ was only so because they were on an elevator?

  146. Spartan, Rebecca Watson hasn’t really made it a big deal. All she said was that it made her feel uncomfortable, and men shouldn’t do what elevator guy did, for reasons you seem to grasp. Watch the video. She discusses EG for all of about 30 seconds.

  147. itzac,
    I don’t disagree with that at all, and maybe I’m just still puzzling over, or maybe trying to find some tiny excuse for, Dawkins’s comments. There are accusations that he’s tried to shut RW up, and I’m wondering if that is based just on the fact that he has the opinion that there’s nothing wrong with what EG did, and thus is not really worth mentioning. It’s accurate to say that those who think what EG did was no big deal, like Dawkins, are making the agreeably stupid argument that elevators are not dangerous, which obviously differs from the assessment of anyone with a clue. They are being idiotic. That’s a different vibe altogether from ‘shutting up’ and ‘quieting down’ someone, especially a woman, and to me carries additional connotations such as that she’s being disregarded just because she’s a woman. I don’t see that angle in this interchange. What, Dawkins can be a rude snarky fuck? Ya don’t say…

    But then as a counter is disbelief that RD can seriously be that uninformed. The excuses about ‘what’s so hard about getting out of an elevator?’ are just mind-numbingly dumb, and it certainly suggests the possibility that he just went off at least half-cocked and is now very lamely claiming cluelessness. Fishy.

  148. Wow: “The story EXPLICITLY says ‘have a coffee’ not ‘have a shag’.”

    I am high-functioning autistic, and my social skills are not exactly the most polished. However, even I can decode what “coffee” means, especially when one is inviting someone to one’s room to drink it. That’s well-known enough to become fodder for a joke on Seinfeld. Heck, inviting someone of the opposite sex to one’s hotel room is a pretty big hint, even without the coffee.

    And the notion that Watson was engaging in “histrionics” doesn’t fly if you actually look at what she said. She wasn’t saying “ZOMG, ‘coffee’ == RAPE !!!!!!1111!!!” Rather, she calmly pointed out behavior that made her uncomfortable and the factors that made it uncomfortable (one, that she was in a vulnerable position because of the time and place, and two, that she had already discussed the sort of behavior that makes her uncomfortable and this guy was doing the very thing that she’d discussed).

    I guess the appropriately inappropriate reply to Wow would be “Wow … just wow.”

  149. @ Spartan The first comment Dawkins made (conveniently printed above) was basically: “Stop whinging, Rebecca. STFU because there are women in the world who have real misogyny to face.” It’s a tool to manipulate her into accepting his privileged version of events, rather than having confidence in expressing her own position and impressions. Despite the fact that her opinion is the only one that counts.

    Do you not see that the “Dear Muslima” card could be pulled out any time a Western woman speaks out against sexism? It’s telling the black guy that he shouldn’t complain about racist police, because, well he’s not a slave & should be happy with that. It’s telling the gay activist fighting for equal marriage that they should be grateful they’re not in a country where gay men are hanged and gay women are “correctively” raped.

    Not only that, but it gets right to the heart of the oppression of women. It reinforces the very sentiment we’re fighting against: the idea that women should be silent. Even when they are threatened, even when they are treated as objects for the sexual gratification of men rather than as full human beings. Even when we’re only politely trying to educate our clueless male friends that they’re doing something clueless.

  150. From personal experience and that of others, and that which is portrayed in films and books, I have come to the conclusion that the only thing which decides whether an approach to a woman is flirting or creepy, is simply whether she fancies you.

    Since trying to second guess how a woman thinks is next to impossible, men will do what they think gives them the best chance of success in a given situation. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes not, but as long as you respect the woman’s response, then that’s the best you can do.

  151. Dawkins raises the important issue of extreme violation of human rights targeted at women in other cultures; the mistake he made was in contrasting it to the creepy & offensive behavior many women face in the West. His phrasing makes him look callous but I doubt if Mr. Dawkins was saying or doing anything more than setting up this contrast.

    Reading too much into it is really making a mountain out of a molehill. This post is a classic example of misguided angst, why not focus your attention on preventing actual examples of sexism & assault (anywhere in the world) and not turn every comment or issue into “about me.” There are far bigger tragedies/abuses others are facing than creepy elevator rides.

  152. Hello!
    I am a narcissist?
    And what really bothers me about this whole thing is that it’s not yet about MEE. And so I am hereby taking as a personal insult what you said about some other guy and I demand you apologize! What’s more, if you do not–hey! don’t even think about moderating this comment–if you do not do so right now I wil BLOG my demand!
    You’re like Hitler!

  153. From personal experience and that of others, and that which is portrayed in films and books, I have come to the conclusion that the only thing which decides whether an approach to a woman is flirting or creepy, is simply whether she fancies you.

    If by “fancy” you mean “finds you attractive on a superficial, physical level having only just met you”, you’re wrong. Hot guys can also be rapists. Alone in an elevator at 4 am with a stranger is always going to be creepy.

    If by “fancy” you mean “finds you attractive after a long acquaintance or solid friendship”, well yeah. The tolerance for otherwise creepy behaviour goes up with familiarity. Context matters.

    Since trying to second guess how a woman thinks is next to impossible, men will do what they think gives them the best chance of success in a given situation. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes not, but as long as you respect the woman’s response, then that’s the best you can do.

    This is such utter BS you should be ashamed to have put it on the screen. Women are not alien life forms. You just have to give a situation the bother of a few moments of consideration. If you consistently get it wrong, you should educate yourself.

  154. I see a lot of misconceptions and rationalizations going on here. The Elevator Guy had never spoken to Rebecca Watson before despite having had hours to come over and introduce himself. There was no interaction, talking, flirting, or winking. He also had plenty of time to learn from her speech and conversation that she is a married woman who does not want to be accosted at conferences. She had announced that she was exhausted and retiring. He accompanied her into an elevator, an enclosed, temporarily exitless space. where he asked her to come back to his room. This is at best inconsiderate and at worst the start of many possible assault scenarios. She pointed out later, publicly but without naming names, that this tactic was creepy and unproductive. *She* was criticized for being oversensitive, by someone who thus publicly entered the conversation. She pointed out that calling her oversensitive is an automatic sexist reaction that apologizes for male insensitivity and discounts her feelings. For which she is now being blamed in a storm of sexist reaction. Is that all clear, now. Too bad it wasn’t “Come up and see my etchings”—we’d be hearing that it was all about art appreciation. “Come back to my room,” “Come in for a drink,” “Come in for coffee” (late at night) and “Go for a ride” (anytime) are often euphemistic invitations to have sex, especially when issued by a stranger. Women have to consider that, especially since if they are assaulted, the same critics will then say they should have known better. Unfortunately, women accepting either kind of invitation have been raped or killed and other women are naive if they don’t know that. Hence the creepiness. Richard Dawkins, you are totally off base to think that all the problems of the world must be solved before we can address our own. As someone said, here’s where men can make an immediate difference: don’t be creepy.

    My response, on Rebecca’s behalf, would be, “You are free to do what you want but you don’t get to dictate my reaction to it.”

  155. StephanieZ wants to know how many guys have been raped in elevators.

    In every city, in every country of the world, men are more likely to be victims of violent assault than women. So women don’t have any sort of monopoly on feeling threatened – men are more often victims than women are.

    And again, RW was not assaulted, she didn’t even have to cope with offensive behaviour of any kind until Dawkins quite rightly told her to grow up and stop whining, and yet her non-incident has been seized-upon by misandrists pushing their sexist barrow. Nothing new there.

    It’s laughable. Which is why Dawkins made fun of her.

  156. To Ibis3 (183), by splitting hairs about a definition of “fancy” I think you slightly misunderstand my point. (For what it is worth, fancy in my view would mean “wants to have sex with, though not necessarily right away”.)

    If a woman fancies you, it doesn’t matter how creepy or to the point you are, because it will merely be interpreted as a chat up. Similarly, if a woman does not fancy you, it does not matter how polite, or considerate, or impeccable your timing is, because she will think you a creep and tell you to fuck off. Yes context matters though, because how much she fancies you will vary depending on the situation. The point is that there is no helpful definition of being “creepy” because the exact same approach will be labelled differently depending on who is making that approach.

    Your next point is so breathtakingly wrong, it is hilarious. A large proportion of the portrayals of love and romance in literature and the big screen is about men’s inability to understand how a woman thinks and the misunderstandings that result. (For the avoidance of doubt, I am not talking about basic stuff like “understanding” that women don’t want to be raped etc.)

    Watch the Mel Gibson film “What Women Want” for an intro to the subject, but really virtually every romcom would do as well, or a Jane Austen novel if that is more your thing.

  157. Greg,

    I take it back, you were not being dishonest. I should have stated my opinion on Rebecca Watson’s acts from the beginning, to avoid misunderstandings.

    I just felt like quoting Louis CK, which made for a more succinct comment.

    No, I’m not your wife or daughter! That would be sneaky, wouldn’t it? Airing dirty laundry on your blog, posing as a guest. God (or any other non-existing supernatural entity) forbid.

    I agree with your comment, we are not too far off in our opinions.

    We agree on Rebecca Watson did what she had to do, and tried to make other guys aware of how wrong it is for a guy to approach a woman in those circumstances, and we agree that the whole affair got more attention than it deserved.

    Re-considering, perhaps I was interpreting Dawkins comment too diplomatically, as if I were his PR agent.

    I imagine he will have reconsidered his comment on the problem an elevator represents in those circumstances. PZ Myers’ summary of elevator rape cases was powerful reading.

    When all is said and done, though, I wouldn’t blame Richard Dawkins for his initial response. I had the same response.

    I interpret it as a plea for sanity and perspective.
    Many of the people commenting on Pharyngula display an obsessive form of passive aggressiveness. How many hours do some of those people spend commenting? Haven’t they got a life?

    Some of them act like that irritating flat-mate that always left notes on your fridge and cupboard, but with Tourette’s Syndrome.

    In-house blog trolls making nasty blog-jargon riddled comments which only make sense to people who also spend WAY TOO MANY HOURS commenting on blogs.
    How many people with a healthy exterior social life do you know who would ever use “cupcake” as a pejorative?

    A different case:
    When discussing the real serious problem of teenage girls with anorexia or bulimia, who are starving themselves for aesthetic reasons, someone IS BOUND TO bring up children in Somalia actually starving to death. Would you attack that person for trying to silence the speakers, or ridicule anorexia? Maybe you would, but I find those “let’s not forget about the bigger picture” comments enlightening.

    Who on this blog or on Pharyngula would disagree that YES,
    there are far more serious issues to get this upset about?
    No-one, of course. Well, I think that was all that Richard Dawkins was trying to say. Give him a break.

    It is true though, what this article states;
    you should never “follow” your heroes or idols in everything. No human is Fuck-Up-proof.

  158. Cripes, how long is this going to go on?

    Sometimes the best thing to say when the conversation is going bad is to say nothing, for all parties to walk away and quit. Stop talking about it, and never mention it again.

    This isn’t just a case of “If you’re in a hole, stop digging”. The people involved are collectively digging a trench. And there are powerlines under the ground beneath them.

    .

  159. I interpret it as a plea for sanity and perspective.

    Your interpretation is wrong. One woman made a comment about creepy, off-putting behavior, and Dawks changed the subject to the treatment of women in Muslim countries. That’s not “a plea for sanity and perspective,” it’s a lame attempt to change the subject and brush off another person’s valid concerns. (If it had a man complaining about drunken rowdiness or pickpockets, would Dawks have responded as he did?)

  160. ‘If you don’t get it, try imagining yourself in that elevator with a huge, ugly thug who says to you “How about we go to my room and I fuck you in the ass?”‘

    Did the man in question invite the woman to his room for coffee, or did he offer anal sex? If the former, then the initial comment by Dawkins would be understandable (minus the belittling opening paragraph which is an attempt at sarcasm that fails badly).

    If the latter, then Dawkins is completely in the wrong on substance.

  161. Pardon the long double-take, but…

    I interpret it as a plea for sanity and perspective.

    A woman went to a convention, and then said something to other people at the convention about how one guy was bewhaving toward her at the convention. How, exactly, is this action lacking in either sanity or perspective?

    The implication that this woman’s actions lacked sanity or perspective — and that Dawkins had to “plead” for it — is, in itself, both misogynistic and insulting.

  162. The problem with much of this is that women can’t really tell upfront whether a seemingly polite invitation is really just that or just a facade. Rapists don’t look obviously rapists like a typical serial killer of some slasher movie. Instead, they look just like normal people and don’t behave strikingly different.

    “Equal” situations, just switching genders, like a woman is more “aggressive” and kisses some random man on an elevator, are not equal at all. Usually, even if a man feels that it was awkward and unwanted, the odds that he would feel terrorized that he wouldn’t be able to fight his way off and not ending up with with bruises and perhaps even bleeding genitalia are rather meaningless. It’s even less meaningful if they know each other. Switch the sexes and it’s obvious that the situations are quite different, the fears are not unfounded.

    While it does happen sometimes, news of women violently raping men (or raping at all) are usually “odd”, sound a bit like “chicken kills dog”, whereas the opposite is totally “normal”, “dog kills cat”.

  163. @Gaby- Thank you gaby, you said all thats needs to be said in one short post. Everyone please follow this intelligent persons example, as difficult as it seems to be.

  164. Perhaps Dawkins had a gut full of ‘sexism in the atheist movement’ at the panel discussion which consequently caused him to overreact. After all, the accusation that sexism is in one’s own backyard is a tad embarrassing when a major focus of the atheist movement is condemning sexism in religion.

    It’s a storm in a teapot really and I hope the parties in question can work out their differences because it’s going to be rather awkward at the next atheist convention. You can imagine certain people from the religious community rubbing their hands with glee over this.

    For me the most disturbing aspect is the number of people who support a man’s right to approach a woman under any circumstances without being suspected of being a potential threat. You do wonder what planet they live on.

  165. Hi everyone, I found out what the problem is!

    This is a conflict between people who think that atheist and skeptic organizations are ways to meet new friends and interesting people, and people who think that the purpose is to improve the world by fixing problems.

    The former now dislike Richard Dawkins. The latter think that the former are stupid, and accordingly they should read http://pastebin.com/Q86Zhgs9 on how to address that stupidity in a very roundabout way.

  166. Casme to this one quite late– I try so hard to stay away from all the gynorhea here on SciBlogs.
    But Dawkins is right, plain and simple, and someone should have warned him about all the rapeologistblogs.

    There is just something not quite right about women in this midwestern area, and Minnesota in general.I think it is an issue of transference-[-the deep rape fear that they all feel seems to get extrapolated into actual rape every time].
    Kind of like how Andrea Dworkin idolized her icy, distant sexually voyeuristic mother, but still played out her childhood sexual domination and control games in front of that mother–but grew up to deeply hate men as deviants because of it!
    Weird transference, as if men should know how to deal with post-maternal incested girls…

  167. Well no surprise that pornanimous is a fan of Richard Dawkins.

    When they start exhuming poor old Andrea Dworkin whose memory is kept mainly alive by anti-feminists, you know what to expect.

    Dawkins is a clueless douchebag, but the world is full of clueless douchebags and many of them are apparently big fans of Richard Dawkins.

    BTW pornanimous, Dworkin grew up in New Jersey so how does that connect to your bizarre theory about women in Minnesota?

    Also – I was briefly related to Andrea Dworkin by marriage and met her parents at a family wedding in the early 80s – they seemed very nice and both said they were proud of Andrea.

    That must blow your mind – the Great Feminist Satan was a human being!

  168. I’d like to point out that Dawkins’ follow-up response not only demonstrates his misogynistic belief that any woman who is raped in an elevator is just too stupid to push a button – it also demonstrates his anti-Muslim bigotry.

    Dawkins isn’t actually bothered by misogyny – unless it’s misogyny in a Muslim culture.

    He keeps referencing genital mutilation as if it’s something that is specifically Muslim, rather than a practice that happens in a variety of cultures, some of which are Muslim. And of course most Muslims do NOT practice genital mutilation.

    But to admit that genital mutilation isn’t directly linked to Islam would not feed Dawkins’ anti-Muslim narrative. And so he ignores it.

    Hence his constant refrain to the effect that: unless you are a MUSLIM woman you don’t really have any problems so SHUT THE FUCK UP!

    I find it stunning that Dawkins is so revered, even by some self-described liberals.

  169. Raging Bee

    I don’t blame you for not fully reading my 3 comments, there are too many damn comments on this subject.

    But if you had done so, you would have noticed that I in fact support Rebecca Watson’s actions. And that I blame everybody else for turning this into the scandal it’s become. You would have noticed that the “plea for perspective and sanity” refers to THIS: this thing you and I are participating in right now; this cyber-scandal that’s been going on for about a week now (and which had already been raging for days when Richard Dawkins joined the debate.)

    You assumed I referred to Rebecca Watson herself lacking perspective and this caused you to misrepresent my views and criticise me with a lot of straw. Suffice it to say you were barking up the wrong tree.

  170. Raging bee,

    I had missed your reply# 192. in that reply you do not misrepresent my views, we simply disagree.

    We need to bear in mind that, although Rebecca Watson reacted correctly (hope for the best, but expect the worst), we do not know what elevator guy’s motives were. We need to at least consider how this controversy changes if the guy was really only out for a friendly chat. The fact that Rebecca Watson only needed to press the button and walk away, hints that the elevator guy was perhaps not that dangerous.

    Nothing happened. Whether thanks to Rebecca’s reaction or thanks to the elevator guy’s innocence, we simply do not know.

    And to put things into perspective, we need not cry about women in Islam. We can limit the discussion to REAL rape victims and their attackers. we can even limit it further to cases where actual elevator rape or hotel-room rape did occur.

    So why is everybody so committed to what’s essentially a non-event?

    You’d almost think it’s because our precious reputation as Atheists at Atheist conventions was the determining factor.

  171. pornanimous blithered thusly:

    But Dawkins is right, plain and simple…

    Only to someone whose mindset is plain and simple.

    Kind of like how Andrea Dworkin idolized her icy, distant sexually voyeuristic mother, but still played out her childhood sexual domination and control games in front of that mother–but grew up to deeply hate men as deviants because of it!

    Funny how you show such deep knowledge and interest in so many creepy details of Dworkin’s personal life, while totally ignoring both the sexual abuse she suffered and the fact that Dworkin’s thinking is not representative of feminist thought in general, let alone the thinking of all women. I’m not against porn, but you really shouldn’t let it warp your perception of reality.

    @Contrarian:

    We need to bear in mind that, although Rebecca Watson reacted correctly (hope for the best, but expect the worst), we do not know what elevator guy’s motives were.

    His motives are irrelevant (unless and until he comes forward and apologizes for whatever offenses he caused). This debate is about idiotic, misogynistic, and sometimes downright unhinged attacks on Watson’s motives and actions, starting with Dawkins’ patronizing nonsense and continuing with the asinine words of his apologists on these threads.

    So why is everybody so committed to what’s essentially a non-event?

    Dawkins is a famous and respected person, whether or not he deserves it; so that makes his words and actions “events.” Your complaint is pure hypocricy. I could just as easily ask why YOU are so committed to making a big event out of calling it a non-event. If it’s such a non-event, why are you going out of your way to question us for going out of our way?

    Your complaint isn’t just hypocritical, it’s a childish style of argument: say something stupid and offensive, then when you’re called out on it by whoever you’ve offended, sneer at them for making a big deal out of a “non-event.”

  172. If I had already told people I was going to go to bed for the night at 4:00 AM and was on my way to my hotel room, how can that possibly justify some strange man (or woman, for that matter) following me into an elevator and then attempting to get me to follow him to a different hotel room and drink coffee with him and talk some more? In my mind, it does not. It was rude and totally out of line. And potentially very dangerous.

    The proper way for that guy to have approached Rebecca was to say, “Could I talk to you TOMORROW about [subject]? Here’s my room number if you’d like to contact me. Good night.”

    Patience and respect, people! Is that really too much to ask???

  173. [179] Ibis3: The first comment Dawkins made (conveniently printed above) was basically: “Stop whinging, Rebecca. STFU because there are women in the world who have real misogyny to face.” It’s a toolâ?¦â?

    Iâ??ve cut off the rest of the quote because Iâ??m primarily concerned with the rhetorical â??toolâ?? that Dawkins is using here, and that he seems to use fairly regularly â?? namely, sarcastic, in-your-face, insensitive words that are meant to ridicule his opponents. Obviously a majority was offended by his words/ideas, but it also seemed like, to a decent amount of people, that offense was compounded by the extremely insensitive way in which he said it. Is this true? I could be off base, but that was my impression. If so, however, it seems like those people also support similar styles of rhetoric made by skeptical/atheists (notably, PZ Myers and, well, Dawkins) against accomodationists/spiritualists/non-secular institutions. As a rhetorical tool, it can be extremely effective method, or, as it seems to be in this case to most people, ineffective, but it is always antagonistic, and Iâ??m curious about whether or not that changed peopleâ??s reactions towards Dawkinsâ?? comments.

    [179]Do you not see that the “Dear Muslima” card could be pulled out any time a Western woman speaks out against sexism?…It’s telling the gay activist fighting for equal marriage that they should be grateful they’re not in a country where gay men are hanged and gay women are “correctively” raped.

    This contradicts what Dawkins says explicitly when he says, â??Somebody made the worthwhile point (reiterated here by PZ) that it is no defence of something slightly bad to point to something worse. We should fight all bad things, the slightly bad as well as the very bad.â? Dawkins would argue that you cannot (or should not) pull the â??Dear Muslimaâ? card when there is an actual case of sexism, assault, etc. â?? he just disagrees with the assessment that such a case existed in the RW elevator. Iâ??m not defending his assessment; I just think youâ??re using faulty logic to attack a caricature of his argument. Dawkins would agree with you on all those points, and youâ??re trying to make him sound worse than he is by connecting him to what he would agree are actually terrible things (racism, suppressing gay rights, corrective rape).

  174. Obviously a majority was offended by his words/ideas, but it also seemed like, to a decent amount of people, that offense was compounded by the extremely insensitive way in which he said it. Is this true?

    Honestly? I don’t think so. I wasn’t.

    he just disagrees with the assessment that such a case existed in the RW elevator.

    I agree. That is NOT what he indicated with his first comment at all, but yes, I think he’s backed off and is now playing this out a bit differently. He’s wrong, of course.

  175. Do you think there would have been as big of a backlash if he had just commented, “Why are talking about this? Why don’t we talk about female genital mutilation and some of the really terrible things going on right now…” Personally, I don’t think it would have been nearly as crazy, even though he’d be saying the same thing. Oh well, just curious, but it made me think of a different way that his letter could have been written. What if his letter, instead of being addressed to Muslima, was addressed to “Sarah,” a date-rape victim @ college, or “Anne,” who was sexually assaulted by her boss and has to quit her job, etc. I don’t think Dawkins was trying to compare the US to the Middle East, just a non-problem event (to him!) with a big-problem event that he feels (incorrectly) was being ignored. I think Dawkins incorrectly assumed that RW was trying to say that what happened was as bad as what goes on in the Middle East or in actual sexual assaults. I think RW used this example to show that, even in the atheist/skeptical community, thereâ??s still work to be done to eliminate the attitudes that can (but didnâ??t in this case) manifest themselves in sexual assault. I donâ??t think she was ever trying to make a big deal out of this, and Dawkins was wrong to assume that she thinks stopping creepy guys from making her uncomfortable is as big of a priority as stopping actual assaults. I donâ??t think it is, and I don’t think she does.

    However, I also think that the response to Dawkins makes a mistake in analyzing his claims. It seems like people are saying that because Dawkins says he believes this incident to be trivial, he believes that all sexual assault situations are trivial. Iâ??m not sure how you make that jump, how you get to the idea that Dawkins, to paraphrase Ibis3, wants â??all women to be silentâ?. Heâ??s been a major proponent for womenâ??s rights; even his Muslima comment was designed to bring attention to a very large injustice being committed against women. Now, this doesnâ??t mean heâ??s right about it being a trivial incident, but I donâ??t think you can argue that simply viewing it as trivial means he is anti-feminism.

  176. Actually, S.M., I’m pissed at Dawkins for leaving out the elements of Rebecca’s story that don’t remotely make this a “non-event” in order to turn it into one.

  177. S.M.: Dawkins is an educated and articulate man, and fluent in English. He’s perfectly capable of choosing his words carefully — or choosing not to say anything — to avoid misunderstandings. Whatever misunderstanding we have of Dawkins’ actual meaning is 100% Dawkins’ fault.

  178. ” ‘Did you just make the argument that, since worse things are happening somewhere else, we have no right to try to fix things closer to home?’

    No I wasn’t making that argument. Here’s the argument I was making. The man in the elevator didn’t physically touch her, didn’t attempt to bar her way out of the elevator, didn’t even use foul language at her. He spoke some words to her. Just words. She no doubt replied with words. That was that. Words. Only words, and apparently quite polite words at that.

    If she felt his behaviour was creepy, that was her privilege, just as it was the Catholics’ privilege to feel offended and hurt when PZ nailed the cracker. PZ didn’t physically strike any Catholics. All he did was nail a wafer, and he was absolutely right to do so because the heightened value of the wafer was a fantasy in the minds of the offended Catholics. Similarly, Rebecca’s feeling that the man’s proposition was ‘creepy’ was her own interpretation of his behaviour, presumably not his. She was probably offended to about the same extent as I am offended if a man gets into an elevator with me chewing gum. But he does me no physical damage and I simply grin and bear it until either I or he gets out of the elevator. It would be different if he physically attacked me.

    Muslim women suffer physically from misogyny, their lives are substantially damaged by religiously inspired misogyny. Not just words, real deeds, painful, physical deeds, physical privations, legally sanctioned demeanings. The equivalent would be if PZ had nailed not a cracker but a Catholic. Then they’d have had good reason to complain.

    Richard”

    From PZ’s blog
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/always_name_names.php#comments

    His first paragraph describes how that this “non-event” would be an “event.” But of course if you’d been paying attention you’d know that.

    Of course, the part that pops out to zealots (to which the rest is disregarded) is the word GUM.

  179. [212] Stephanie, I think you have every right to be upset. I think Dawkins is wrong to characterize it as a non-event, because it certainly is more than just a man chewing gum at someone. Even so, I donâ??t think you can compare what happened to RW with actual sexual assault or female genital mutilation. Theyâ??re related, but on completely difference scales of offense. The man in the elevator should not be jailed for this. I think RW would agree with me â?? the video response is fairly mellow to the entire incident. She recognizes that itâ??s unfortunate what happened, but it wasnâ??t even the focus of her piece. To me, and perhaps those who know her can correct me, her interpretation was initially what I suggested before â?? not a non-event, certainly, but nothing terrible on the same scale as an actual assault. As such, I cannot understand how commenters are arriving at the conclusion that Dawkins is a terrible person who wants to silence women and continue a misogynist status quo. Rather, he disagrees, rightly or wrongly, about one specific incident and its relative importance to the feminist movement. Is that enough to excommunicate him and all of his body of work? Maybe so, but it certainly doesnâ??t justify the ad hominem attacks or the distortions of his view.

    [213] You are incorrect in saying that it is 100% Dawkinsâ?? fault. Presumably, RW, Greg, and the rest of the blogosphere are educated, articulate people, fluent in English and capable of choosing words carefully to avoid misunderstandings, but Dawkinsâ?? misunderstanding of their points is not 100% their fault. The onus of understanding never lies solely with the speaker. Rather, Dawkins is just a not a very tactful rhetorician. He antagonizes, and, in this case, that antagonism led to a situation that alienated him from the people he was arguing against, even though their final goals (stop discrimination against women) are identical. And if you say that this wasnâ??t his goal, that he is actually a misogynist pig, how do you explain all of his actions thus far to stop discrimination against women? I think a big part of the problem started with a poor choice of words that has blossomed into something much, much larger.

    I think heâ??s seen so much success using this technique against non-secularists because of what he sees as the craziness their beliefs â?? how can you rationalize with irrational people? You canâ??t, so you ridicule them, and hope that the embarrassment is enough to make them give up their dogmas. But, itâ??s a dangerous tactic that can easily be seen as attacking the person your arguing against, rather than attacking a specific belief. In this case, Dawkins argued against a very specific idea â?? that this specific incident is worthwhile to be discussed in light of all the other discrimination/assault. It says nothing about his views toward the entire feminist movement, but that is hard to see through the hostility that is central to the argumentative style.

    There is a gray area on the scale of whatâ??s appropriate behavior for a man in an elevator late at night in a hotel when a woman is present. Propositioning her? Not okay. Standing too close? Not okay. Suggestively raising your eyebrows from across the elevator? Not okay. Standing in a corner, looking away? Thatâ??s fine. Dawkins essentially disagrees about where this line is, but I donâ??t understand how you can vilify him for that. If a woman would have felt uncomfortable even being in the same elevator with a man, and insisted that men never ride in the same elevator, that, to me, would be pushing that line too far. But I wouldnâ??t go so far as to say that sheâ??s a crazy feminist man-hater. Rather, she just disagrees with me about a small issue of whatâ??s acceptable and what’s not. Is one of us right? Is there an objective line that determines whatâ??s okay and whatâ??s not, or is it a purely subjective issue where the woman is always right? Maybe there is, but how does a disagreement about it affect our attitudes towards feminism as a whole?

  180. What if Watson were a white Republican and the man who asked her to have coffee in his room was black and this was the scenario she freaked out over? Okay. Let the lying begin…

  181. John, that wasn’t the situation she expressed mild discomfort over.

    S.M., Rebecca didn’t freak out. Other people freaked out over her “Please don’t do that.” Dawkins badly mischaracterized her “Please don’t do that” and told her to shut up about it while ignoring and belittling her work. What exactly is right, there?

  182. …but that is hard to see through the hostility that is central to the argumentative style.

    If you’re admitting that hostility is “central to [his] argumentative style,” then you’re undercut your own argument: his hostility — toward a respected fellow atheist who had previously spoken of him as a friend, no less — really is 100% his fault, as are the consequences thereof, because he chose to use it as his “argumentative style.” He could have chosen to be more tactful; or to say nothing at all.

  183. What if Watson were a white Republican and the man who asked her to have coffee in his room was black and this was the scenario she freaked out over?

    Just for your future reference, Mr. Smith, “gay panic” is rapidly losing credibility as a legitimate legal defense against charges of assault or murder.

  184. [216] Stephanie, you’re absolutely right – RW did not freak out, and I thought I had made that clear in my post. I don’t think that Dawkins was micharacterizing RW’s response as much as he was mischaracterizing all of the attention that it got in the wake of her talk, Steph’s video, and everything else. Remember, he didn’t comment on RW’s video detailing the incident. He came in later (days later?) and commented on PZ’s coverage of the story. And, even if you are right that he’s mischaracterizing her specific reaction to the incident, I don’t understand how you go from that to “ignoring and belittling her work.” That’s such a massive generalization that I don’t know how you defend it. On feminism (doesn’t seem to be true – or is he such a priveleged man that he thinks only men can save women from oppression?)? On all of her skeptical/atheist work? He ignores and belittles that too? The only part of his comments that even remotely seems to be directed at RW rather than at the situation and the attention it got was when he referenced her as “skep chick” in the Muslima article. But even with that, I find it hard to make the jump from a reaction about one situation to attitudes about an entire body of work and a person.

    [217] This ties into what I’ve said to Stephanie. I don’t think he was directly his hostility directly at RW, but rather at the follow-up attention that this specific situation received. That’s hard to see, because it certainly looks like he’s attacking RW, and maybe he actually was – I don’t know what he was thinking. But I don’t think that was his intention; I just think he choose a very poor argumentative style for this situation. But to insist that, as the speaker, he was 100% at fault is wrong. If I ask a girl out on a date, and she says ‘You’re nice; I’m flattered, but no thanks’ and I take that to mean, “she’s just playing hard to get”, is she 100% at fault for not being more explicit just because she was talking? Of course not! And neither is Dawkins, even if he is much more at fault that that girl for not being clearer and more tactful.

  185. S.M.: you have not refuted my argument, therefore it still stands, no matter how many times you just say I’m wrong. Dawkins is at fault because he chose his argument style when he could have chosen other responses. Once you’ve admitted this basic fact (which you have done), you can’t shift any share of blame away from the person who made such a stark choice. This is not just a matter of one or two poorly-chosen words in an otherwise uncontroversial speech or statement; this is a matter of a poorly-chosen response in its entirety.

  186. S.M., perhaps you should become aware of Rebecca’s work on the religious issues that affect women, including speaking against FGM. She’s endured rape and death threats to talk about them. Any woman who works on the issue does. If Dawkins wants any progress on that issue, and wants any woman to speak up about it, he gets to put up with at least hearing about what she puts up with to get her work done, even if he can’t be assed to help fix it.

  187. [221] Youâ??re right â?? Dawkins was at fault. I took issue with your statement that Dawkins was 100% responsible, and generalized that to â??the speaker is 100% responsibleâ?? which doesnâ??t follow, and I agree with you that Dawkins is wrong for choosing such a poor rhetorical tool in this situation

    That generalization, though, seems to be exactly whatâ??s happened against Dawkins in this situation. Itâ??s a tempting jump to make (I did it), but an unfounded one, and I still donâ??t understand how everyone has made the jump from Dawkinsâ?? comments about a specific situation to his attitudes about feminism and womenâ??s right a whole.

    [222] Tied in with that, I know RW has done significant amounts of work on these issues, and I think Dawkins knows that too. RW in her â??Privilege Delusionâ? post mentions that Dawkins sat next to her in Dublin and heard her talk about all of the threats that she puts up with. Why didnâ??t he tell her to be quiet then? To shut up about puny threats because thereâ??s actual assaults going on in the Middle East, and she just was threatened, so whatâ??s the big deal? Probably because he genuinely cares about women standing up against threats and discrimination.

    He just doesnâ??t agree that such a situation existed in the elevator. So, please, excommunicate him (and I think that term is appropriate here) because you disagree over where the line of appropriate behavior in an elevator in Dublin was. But donâ??t do it because he â??does not care about my [RWâ??s] experiences as an atheist womanâ?¦[or] the concerns of other women who have survived rape and sexual assault .â? Because that generalization does not follow.

  188. …I still donâ??t understand how everyone has made the jump from Dawkinsâ?? comments about a specific situation to his attitudes about feminism and womenâ??s right a whole.

    You still don’t understand, after hundreds of comments on at least FOUR threads? That says a lot more about you than it does about anyone else. Here’s a little hint: it’s not just what Dawkins said at first, it’s what he said in response to the criticism. After making a big issue out of insisting the incident wasn’t an issue, he pleaded ignorance, begged us to explain it to him, and still shows no sign of understanding, or even reading, any of our explanations. Kinda like you, actually.

    Here, S.M., this is ONE MORE attempt to enlighten you:

    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2011/07/point-you-are-proving-it.html

    But since you didn’t get it after four threads and almost a week, the link above probably won’t help you either.

    So, please, excommunicate him (and I think that term is appropriate here)…

    Yeah, criticizing one’s own intellectual leader is EXACTLY the same as a church excommunicating someone for questioning official doctrine. You’ve just substantiated your plea of ignorance; so you don’t need to substantiate it any more, get the hint?

  189. Dr. Dawkins and others characterizing this as a non-event and Ms. Watson as “too sensitive”: A man was executed today in Texas for a rape and murder he committed in 1994. He was arrested almost immediately, and it took only 17 years to conclude his caseâ??longer than his victim’s entire life. And this was one of those obvious cases.

    Humberto Leal was executed today for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl…, Adria Sauceda, whose brutalized nude body was found hours after he left a San Antonio street party with her. She was bludgeoned with a 30-pound to 40-pound chunk of asphalt. Prosecutors said Sauceda was drunk and high on cocaine the night she was killed, and that Leal offered to take her home. [See? He just offered to take her home. Zero bad. What could go wrong? All she had to do was jump out of his car!]

    Witnesses said Leal drove off with her around 5 a.m. Some partygoers found her brutalized nude body later that morning and called police. There was evidence Sauceda had been bitten, strangled and raped. A large stick that had a screw protruding from it was left in her body.

    A witness testified that Leal’s brother appeared at the party, agitated that Leal had arrived home bloody and saying he had killed a girl.

    In his first statement to police, Leal said Sauceda bolted from his car and ran off. After he was told his brother had given detectives a statement, he changed his story, saying Sauceda attacked him [that’s right, it’s all her fault!] and fell to the ground after he fought back.* He said when he couldn’t wake her and saw bubbles in her nose, he got scared and went home.

    Testifying during his trial’s punishment phase, Leal acknowledged being intoxicated and doing wrong but said he wasn’t responsible for what prosecutors alleged. [because hey, he was drunk, she should have known better, or maybe men are victims of their baser instincts?]

    So it’s all a zero bad non-event, except when it isn’t! And you can’t tell in advanceâ??Some snarks are boojums!

    Italics, parens, square brackets, bolding, and snide comments are all mine.

    * Use your raised eyebrows voice for this phrase.

  190. [224] RagingBee, Thanks for the sarcasm. I don’t know if you realized this, but I agreed with you that Dawkins was incorrect to characterize this as a non-event. I’m on your side, or at least, I’d like to think, on this issue, I am. So why the hostility? Because, honestly, that’s exactly one of the problems I had with Dawkins. It antagonizes people who respected you, and makes them less likely to listen. Because who wants to be insulted all day? Kick a dog often enough and he’s bound to run away.

    I want to bring back up my question that never was answered (not ‘what don’t I get’ – the 4 threads, a week of reading, and your blistering sarcasm explained that for me), but who decides what is over the line in the elevator situation? Is there an objective criteria for what’s acceptable and what’s not? I think so. But that objective criteria should include the woman’s feelings. And as I’ve said before, I think what happened crossed that line. It was wrong. Dawkins disagrees. But is he supposed to change his mind because he has no right to say what is or is not acceptable in this situation? Are RW, or other females who have been in these situations, the only ones who can say what is or is not acceptable? I don’t think so, and if so, then I don’t know how closely I want to be involved in the feminist movement. Because then the only way I can know what is or is not right is to just listen to the females in my life, and blindly accept it, since I can’t just get it. And that, to me, is dogma.

    What if the man in the elevator had just stood there in the corner, but RW had felt threatened (yes, it was much worse than that, I know) Does her feeling threatened make that behavior unacceptable? No! Because, while the woman’s feelings are important, in fact, THE most important thing, they are not the final word in all cases. If the man had minded his own business, and she still felt threatened, I’d say she needs to change her attitudes, not him changing his behavior. And, by her attitudes, I mean her attitude after the fact that he did something wrong, not that her attitude that it was a potential assault situation.

    And that’s how I see this case. Dawkins disagrees about where a line should be drawn. He didn’t dismiss RW’s feelings, he did not say that she was wrong to feel threatened, he just said that that feeling is not the final word in this case. And, for that, I don’t know how you say that he wants to silence ALL women ALL the time.

  191. any person previously sensitized has heightened flight responses, is more apt to become depressed following an incident where threat is implied. fighting is not easy when you are defined as the underdog by one or many earlier incidents.
    few seem to take in the logic of our emotions as prime sources for behaviour. intellect is of secondary importance.
    which are the emotional triggers for comments like the ones discussed here ? perhaps there is two scary sets of triggers exposed here ?
    personally i can on occasion be scared of my own tendencies for violent acts. sex not excluded. simple solutions. linear world. fini !

  192. I guess I’m missing something because I’m wondering what happened after he asked her back to his place for coffee? I mean what actually happened in reality–scenario A: she said “no, thank you” & finished the ride, exited & went to her room & to bed?

    Or scenario B: she became instantly terrified, began trembling uncontrollably, barely made it out of the el. car & managed, despite being traumitized with terror, to (barely) make it (run?) back to her room, and safely to bed?

    Or something actually horrific?

  193. Bix, scenario A with the addition of Rebecca pointing out that guys who want more women at atheists conferences shouldn’t do that. That was when things got ugly.

  194. It was wrong. Dawkins disagrees. But is he supposed to change his mind because he has no right to say what is or is not acceptable in this situation?

    No, he’s supposed to change his mind because HE WAS WRONG and because HE INSULTED A RESPECTED MEMBER OF HIS OWN MOVEMENT WITHOUT GOOD CAUSE. As you just admitted. Why is that STILL so hard for you to grasp, after so many comments on the subject? Who here said ANYTHING about Dawkins not having any rights?

    Are RW, or other females who have been in these situations, the only ones who can say what is or is not acceptable?

    Well, to the extent that they are the ones most affected when situations like the one under discussion here go wrong, then a little deference to their feelings (and, sadly, experiences) makes sense. Again, why is this such a hard concept to grasp? It’s called respect for others. I learned this stuff in grade school, ferfucksake, what’s taking you so long?

    I don’t think so, and if so, then I don’t know how closely I want to be involved in the feminist movement.

    So you just can’t bring yourself to respect someone else’s point of view unless, and until, you get to talk over it? And that in turn means you can’t support the basic objectives of the feminist movement? Grow the fuck up, boy, it’s not all about you, and it doesn’t have to be.

    Because then the only way I can know what is or is not right is to just listen to the females in my life, and blindly accept it, since I can’t just get it. And that, to me, is dogma.

    You really can’t see the HUGE range of options between totally ignoring women’s concerns, and slavishly doing whatever they say? Learning about what you can and cannot do in this enormous “middle ground” thingy is a vital and integral part of that long and, yes, sometimes arduous and tricky, journey known as “growing up.” You should try it sometime — the responsibilities suck, but the orgasms are terrific.

  195. What I like about Bix @228’s comment is that Scenario B is ALSO “not horrific” in his estimation. Being terrorized by a *potential* event is not a valid emotional response, ladies! Bix says so!

  196. This situation is blowing my mind. I keep hearing this shit about sexism from Dawkins and it makes me want to puke. Everyone should seriously be ashamed of themselves. This man has done nothing but stand up for women his entire career, and this one statement if taken wrong discredits his accomplishments? You people are seriously out of your fucking heads. Yes he was very blunt, and maybe even a little sarcastic with what he said, but isn’t that the Dawkins we know anyways? And as far as elevator guy, the poor guy was probably nervous because he was a fan and didn’t want to get rejected in front of people and only found the courage to ask her for coffee while they were in the elevator. Yeah it was bad timing and a bad place, but you can’t be mad at the guy for poor judgement. Everyone acts like they have never made a bad move or said something at the wrong time that you probably regret or kick yourself in the ass for later. Give me a fucking break. Stop acting like you are perfect. He told her she was interesting and asked if she wanted to have coffee in his room. So what? She said no and then NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED. Then this guy gets made into an example for such a petty situation. It wasn’t wrong for her to complain that the guy was creepy but to accuse him of being a potential rapist? I’m sure this guy feels pretty good about himself now. So Dawkins responded, maybe not in the most pleasant way but with an extremely valid point. Girls get hit on, if you don’t like it then get out of there. And that it is hardly worth complaining about when there is a much bigger issue to be addressed. Instead you would like to think that Dawkins has no sympathy for victims of sexism or sexual abuse or harassment. FUCK! Read just ONE of his books! I guess I’ll leave off with, everyone, from both sides, stop tearing apart atheism with this one small situation. There are much bigger fish to fry. Everyone has a place in the Atheist movement, and the only way to make sure we keep it strong is communicate a little better and accept everyone as an equal, and support positive atheism and let Dawkins and Watson talk this shit out on their own. SHIT

  197. Yeah, js. You tell ’em! Everybody has a place except those women who don’t like being hit on! They should just leave!

    Perhaps you should go back and watch Rebecca’s video. Pay some attention to the subject matter.

    Also, Dawkins is not an icon of the feminist movement. You might want to rethink that “nothing but” statement of yours. Maybe also remember this isn’t the first time he’s dismissed calls for the equal inclusion of women.

  198. This man has done nothing but stand up for women his entire career, and this one statement if taken wrong discredits his accomplishments?

    What about RW? Has she not done enough to merit a little respect from Dawkins? You sound a little like a Catholic crying about all this attention to pedophile priests despite all the good things the Church has done.

    It wasn’t wrong for her to complain that the guy was creepy but to accuse him of being a potential rapist?

    Did she accuse him of that? All I remember was that she had said behavior like his was creepy.

    Yes he was very blunt, and maybe even a little sarcastic with what he said, but isn’t that the Dawkins we know anyways?

    So you’re willing to give him a pass because he’s in your tribe? How would you react if a Catholic or fundie minister had said the same thing? And why is it okay for a leading atheist to actively reinforce a long-standing negative stereotype about atheists?

    Everyone has a place in the Atheist movement, and the only way to make sure we keep it strong is communicate a little better and accept everyone as an equal, and support positive atheism…

    That’s kinda what RW was doing when she made those public statements about creepy behavior. She was saying “You all were wonderful, I had a great time…except for that one time in an elevator at 4am…”

    One of the reasons this hasn’t gone away is because Dawkins himself has so far refused to even admit he understands why anyone is offended by what he said; and has yet to simply apologize for causing unintended(?) offense. If Dawkins is so committed to the cause, why is he causing so much division with such totally unnecessary actions?

    Seriously, how hard is it for Dawkins to say “I was trying to say [X], but it came out wrong, and I’m sorry I ended up unintentionally insulting someone who didn’t really deserve to be insulted?”

  199. “I reserve the right to ask any woman for sex at any time. It may not be advisable, but there is nothing wrong with it per se.”

    It’s how they say, it’s a “numbers game”. Eventually you may get it, someday.

  200. I think it’s reasonable to be fearful if it’s a black or hispanic male in the elevator, based on the examples cited here by PC Laden.

  201. It is not reasonable to be afraid of ANY person, of any shade of skin tone or any gender, who is standing there in the elevator.

    Don’t make me write a blog post on this, because I will.

  202. Elelsteve, since when did anyone say what you said they said? Apparently the skills at or interest in being a) smart enough to read or b) honest about what you read are not very well developed.

  203. PZ,

    We have known you to be a bit of an ass for some time, but this really takes the cake. I can’t tell if you are just a misguided and thoughtless buffoon or if this your attempt to push Dawkins aside and usurp his position as leader of atheism among scientists. It seems you should just keep your mouth shut, but that is next to impossible for you. What an ass.

  204. “I can’t tell if you are just a misguided and thoughtless buffoon or if this your attempt to push Dawkins aside and usurp his position as leader of atheism among scientists.”

    This reads about the same as “I can’t tell whether you’re incapable of communicating in anything besides gibberish, or fleebrozz errrrrrrrrrr BREEEEEEEEEEEP ice cream neoprene walrusface!!!!! hjfdjshdjsdbfj.” That is to say, this “position of leader of atheism among scientists” to which you refer is very much a misguided and thoughtless (in the sense of “lacking thought,” not “inconsiderate”) construct.

  205. I’m not at all seeing where Dawkins said that a woman need not be concerned with her own safety. I think his implication was more along the lines of the fact that women in fancy western European hotels are pretty safe to begin with, and being alone in an elevator with a man is not enough, in and of itself, to be assumed to be at risk.

    Dawkins was quite right, and over time, I have seen sympathy with his position grow. Thankfully.

  206. John, regardless of what you feel he implied, he sais: “No escape? I am now really puzzled. Here’s how you escape from an elevator. You press any one of the buttons conveniently provided. The elevator will obligingly stop at a floor, the door will open and you will no longer be in a confined space but in a well-lit corridor in a crowded hotel in the centre of Dublin.”

    Unfortunately for my keyboard, I was having a sip of coffee when I read your comment that sympathy for his position is growing. Any particular reason you say that? Any evidence? I was thinking the opposite.

  207. *** THE MOST AMUSING PART OF THIS WHOLE CHILDISH FIASCO IS SEEING WHAT ATHEISTS OCCUPY THEIR MINDS WITH ONCE THEY HAVE DECIDED THAT ALL THERE IS TO LIFE IS CHAOS. I REALLY FEEL SORRY FOR YOU ***

  208. I think almost everyone got it partly wrong (although I could be wrong on that).
    As far as I can see, the guy was politely asking her back for coffee (read: sex), but nicely, evens aying “Don’t take this the wrong way.” Rebecca Watson didn’t make a big deal of it, but she did call it sexist, which it most certainly wasn’t.
    Dawkins first response was very ill-thought-out, his second also wasn’t great, but was at least getting back on the right track, while his third cleared the matter up.
    Everybody, whatever side they were on, overreacted to everything and a flame war ensued.
    Rebecca Watson has since accused him of ‘white male privilege’ (conveniently forgetting that she is white herself), and tried to drag this into sexism while painting Dawkins as sexist, and playing the victim.
    TL;DR – Dawkins first response was bad, then he cleared it up, but Rebecca Watson thinks that anything involving a woman is automatically sexist and is pretending she’s the victim of misogyny.

    For the record, I believe that a lot of the backlash Watson is getting is due to her generally rude behaviour and the things she says. It is not due to sexism.

    1. It’s been a long time and I could hardly give a fuck and a half but I think she did not call it sexist. She said ‘don’t do that guys’. It was dating advice. As an aside. At the tail end of a video about something else. It was a joke.

    1. I’m not sure what a Hungarian political movement did to get involved or what sexist things they did, but of the two people, Watson seems more sexist than Dawkins.
      I have never seen Dawkins say or do anything sexist (his comments on this incident may have been ill-thought-out but they definitely weren’t sexist), whereas Watson has all but declared that all male atheists are misogynists, which definitely is sexist.
      The general impression I have got over comment threads is that support for Dawkins isn’t growing so much as support for Watson is rapidly shrinking, mostly due to her aggressive and abrasive manner.
      She seems to be being reduced to a few core supporters who are with her no matter what. I’ve been labelled a misogynist for saying she was rude and seems like an unpleasant person.
      Also, I think your comic panel at the end is slightly inaccurate. It should show the two men standing there calmly, with Dawkins replying “No thanks”, instead of him trying to dig his way out with his shoulder blades in direct contradiction to everything he has said about the matter.

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