Tag Archives: Elevatorgate

How does Richard Dawkins corner the Atheist market?

Years ago I knew Richard Dawkins as a fellow evolutionary biologist (met him only once, at a memorial event for WD Hamilton, but we have numerous mutual friends and colleagues). To be frank, and I’m only being frank now because I’d prefer not to use my real name, Dawkins was considered a bit of an enigma. He had great fame (and fortune and privilege) but that was without doing much important research. I always defended him back in those days. His fame came from The Selfish Gene and his subsequent books, and his popularization of science was well done and important. Those who complained,and there were many (but always behind his back) were just jealous.

Then, later, Dawkins got famous in another area, as a spokesperson for atheism. In fact, as a leader of the Atheist movement worldwide. A major milestone in that digression from biology was, of course, his book, The God Delusion. In The God Delusion, he told most people in the world that they were afflicted with a psychiatric disorder that caused them to believe in god. Atheists totally ate this up and for good reason. Also, Dawkins did the whole thing in his quaint British Accent and that took some of the edge off of it, and really, he did it well.

Then Elevatorgate happened, which had absolutely nothing to do with Richard Dawkins, but he chimed in. When he chimed in he said “Ladies, there is no way to get raped in an elevator. All you have to do is push the Stop and Door Open button and leave.” (or words to that effect).

Then just a few weeks later the person of all the people in the world who is closest to me was raped in an elevator.

The rape was interrupted not by her pressing the stop or open button, because they did not work. The rape was interrupted because she decided to kick the rapist’s ass. Then, he was the one pushing the buttons and when the door finally opened he ran. But it certainly did not have to turn out that way. He happened to be unarmed, for example.

Anyway, Richard Dawkins is a dick and that is not just because of his name. He’s a dick because he is utterly unaware of his white, male, British, academic, authory, etc. etc. privilege. Which would be OK, because who really cares, but privilege interferes with activism and being the guy who wrote The God Delusion makes you an activist. Privilege interferes with being a member of a diverse community (diverse as in other people don’t have the same privilege). You can only be an effective leader of a movement if you recognize your membership in the community, even if as a leader.

But you can stay in charge for longer than most, for longer than you deserve, if you corner the market you’ve developed for yourself. My friend and colleague Sarah Moglia overheard Dawkins say something one day that seemed to be an example of his cornering the market. He told someone in charge of major public event that if a particular person was allowed to speak at that event, Dawkins would not go. In other words, he used his huge and unchecked privilege to get another speaker tossed off the podium.

Why? Who did he get tossed? When did this happen? Why are we only hearing about it now?

It all comes down to Elevators, real and metaphorical. And shoes. Dawkins is actually pretty short.

Go read Sarah’s excellent post and find out what happened.


PS. I happen to know what Sarah is doing right now, as I’m writing this post. The image above is a clue so you can guess what that might be!

What does sexism and harassment feel like to you?

I’m a guy who “gets” nasty threats from haters. I receive anti-atheist threats and icky comments, I receive a LOT of nasty stuff from climate science denialists (and that often comes along with bogus threats of law suits), I receive nasty emails and tweets from the sexist and racist SlymePitters and those folks seem to spend more time than is healthy for them making Greg-hating memes and videos and comments on web sites I would not normally visit.

So, I receive nasty horrid verbal attacks from people who hate me and what I stand for, but do I get these nasty horrid verbal attacks in the way that, for example, Rebecca Watson or Amy Roth or Jen McRight get them? Continue reading What does sexism and harassment feel like to you?

The Rape Switch, Again

Stephanie Zvan wrote a post re-addressing a few earlier posts she and I had written a few years ago which caused a firestorm of testosterone drenched reaction from men (and a few women) who somehow had a problem with the political, social, and scientific investigation of wartime rape. (A rape in progress, A rape in progress, Part II, Is there a rape switch?, and When Is a Rapist?) In my view, and those of you who know me will recall that I’ve noted this before, this set of posts was actually the first Internet Event in the current Holy War against women and their allies. Certainly, Elevatorgate was an event unto itself and started its own currents of sewage, but some of those involved in the earlier June Rape Month posts continued and this now three year old event could be viewed as the Boston Massacre as Elevatorgate is the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

My posts were about an idea called the “rape switch.” Continue reading The Rape Switch, Again

Women in Elevators and Black Guys Sneaking Up Behind You

As you may know, I wrote a post, Women in Elevators: A Man To Man Talk For The Menz, in which I wrote:

I am not afraid of dogs, and most women are probably not “afraid of men.”

Except I’m actually afraid of dogs and most women are justifiably afraid of men. If you get what I’m saying so far, go away and do something useful because this post is not written for you. If you are puzzled, especially about the idea of women being afraid of men at all, then sit down, shut up, and allow me to slap you across the chops a couple of times with a little reality because that is what you need. Assuming you are a sentient adult and still have no clue.

Several people got really really mad at me because of that post … I literally lost a few friends … and they got even madder when I pointed out that getting mad at me for that post increased in my mind the chance that you are likely to be abusive to women. Holy crap. Anyway, it all relates to the whole Schrödinger’s Rapist thing. (See this recent post at Camels with Hammers for more on that)

Anyway, one of the responses to that post (and other conversations going on at the time) was to point out that a man saying that he recognized that women could be justifiably nervous about running across an unknown male on a lonely street at night was equivalent to saying that all black people are criminals. Or something like that.

Well, my bloggy friend Ian Cromwell who it turns out is a big scary black guy has addressed that issue, skillfully and engagingly, in a post called “Shuffling feet: a black man’s view on Schroedinger’s Rapist.” Go have a look.

Calibrating and Recalibrating Sex Positiveness

Continuing our discussion (see Making sense of our fights on the Internet, Power and Presence on the Internet and Elsewhere, and A Spectrum as a Slippery Slope and OMG Hitler is a Nazi!!!!) …

I was at a local event recently where a group of sex-positive third-wave feminist women had traditionally used a certain amount of overt sexuality to raise some money. They had been doing it for a few years and had gained a certain reputation and a certain following. A friend of mine who knew of their work but did not know them personally joined in during this most recent event and volunteered to work the door, as it were, to help to relieve some of the visitors and participants of a little cash (this was a fundraiser). I was not present for that part of the event but some of the people involved, who had been involved for several years, later said to me that they felt my friend had gone a bit over the top in her performance. I asked for a description of what concerned them, and when I heard it I had to laugh a little. You see, over the years, these women have changed their own act from a more to a less sexy parody version of themselves, toning it down and calibrating, for a number of different reasons. The young woman who joined them this year had calibrated her own approach to their reputation and not to their current approach. She was a blast, as it were, from the past, and that was a little shocking. Continue reading Calibrating and Recalibrating Sex Positiveness

Making sense of our fights on the Internet

After the Big Bang, more or less evenly distributed stuff and energy somehow became slightly unevenly distributed, which caused a kind of Universal Angular Momentum to set in which gave early heterogeneity and structure to everything that existed. The lightest elements formed more or less spontaneously, but in order for heavier elements to form matter had to get sufficiently clumped in stars that massive gravitational forces changed light elements into heavy ones. Perhaps if the initial clumping and spinning of stuff in the very early universe was a little bit different, the whole universe would have come out differently, in detail if not in other more profound ways. Or at least, I’d be wearing a blue tee shirt instead of a black one right now and I’d be using vim instead of emacs to type this blog post.

When Elevatorgate happened, the ensuing Universe Known as Rebeccapocalypse was shaped and determined by a number of early events that have caused the final result … well, not the “final” result, but the result that we are stuck with as of this writing … but had those first few days of Internet activity been a little different things might have come out a different way.

Here I would like to do two things. Continue reading Making sense of our fights on the Internet